Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
As this article concludes : we shouldn’t judge people by appearances. That is true.
I’ve been contemplating getting a tattoo for a long time. Well over 20 years. The only reason I held back was because I was afraid of being passed over promotions at work or not passing interviews, or not being able to progress in my career as a result. But really I think the real reason was that I wasn’t sure why I had the urge to have a tattoo. Sure, I thought some tattoos are beautiful works of art. But I just wasn’t sure if at the time, it was just me being a rebellious young lady – because I was. And people I liked or looked up to didn’t have tattoos. Well, they didn’t seem to flash them even if they did have some discreet ones.
Fast forward to now. I’m in my mid 30s, and I have had no career to speak of for the past 12 years. Okay I have been a homeschooling mum… but I never really was the sort of hippie mum who wanted to homeschool from the start. I did it more out of necessity, as my eldest had a condition which meant she would never ever thrive or be happy in a school environment. Right from the start, when she was a baby, I had the feeling that school would be tricky for her, but I still went through the motions, hoping it would be nothing like what I suspected.
We tried putting her in school for about 4 years and when that all just culminated in a really horrible time for her, I decided enough was enough, and we never looked back. And she’s come on in leaps and bounds since, although at the sacrifice of my career. I have come to enjoy homeschooling and even view it as preferable to conventional schooling, although sometimes I do wonder what would have become of me had I not given up a career to do this.
I used to not be sure what sort of career or jobs were good for me. I tried many jobs, really did, but ultimately I feel really I am only happiest and more suited to a job in the arts. Maybe in caring professions as well. But not in corporate jobs or engineering or IT, or even food and beverage.
I guess some day, when my children are grown and my “career” as a homeschooling parent is over, I intend to go back to work and preferably in one of those professions I know I suit. And because I know now that tattoos are not as big an issue in these jobs （many of the people working in them seem to have tattoos these days）I feel that finally, I should just go get my first tattoo done.
But it has taken me so long to do this. I suppose it’s probably a good sign that I did take so long. When I was younger and trying different work environments and jobs out, I wasn’t certain if I was gonna be the type who could carve a career in banking or some other corporate industry, so I played it safe by not getting any tattoos. I know I could get a tattoo in places clothes would cover, but I always wanted a tattoo on my arm, and these will never be discreet.
I became a born-again Christian some time ago, and I did research this a lot. The Bible doesn’t specifically say anything about tattoos. Tattoos are more like a physical adornment, like jewellery or makeup, or even hairstyles. And if a Christian is going to be pulled up for having tattoos, then other Christians who are into dressing up, wearing earrings, makeup, etc. can also be pulled up for doing so, because it all comes from a desire to want to prettify oneself the way one likes. It is all the same to me.
I’ve always loved beautiful tattoo work. I know there are bad tattoo jobs out there, and I’m not gonna say all tattoos are beautiful. But I see this as a very important thing and I want to get it right, so I will be going to a good tattoo artist （and saving up the funds for this）to have good beautiful work done on my body.
I know how taboo tattoos can be. But to judge a person as a bad person because of the fact they have tattoos on their body? And especially as a Christian, I’ve learnt not to judge people like this.
This is so true and so worth reading.
I think anyone who has ever witnessed a truly selfless act of kindness in public will know this feeling of joy, hope and peace that comes from seeing (and therefore knowing) that there is true goodness in this world.
This is probably why human beings can still be kind and altruistic even if they were not religious, or even atheist. Because it feels good to do it and the feeling is infectious.
I was raised by my Buddhist dad. Very devout Buddhist, but kinda twisted in the sense that he threatened disowning me if I ever turned my back on the Buddhist faith and followed another religion. I remember when I was about 13, he caught me reading a Bible out of curiosity, and he was very angry. He said to me he will disown me if I ever became a Christian. When I was about 18 my parents became aware that I was agnostic and had an atheist bent, and somehow my father was a lot less angry. In his eyes, being agnostic or atheist is still better than turning Christian. All he said to me was, “We all need to believe in God to cope with life. If you don’t believe in God, then you won’t have strength.”
All traditionally Asian Buddhists, in Asia, believe in God. They believe in Buddha, but they kind of look at Buddha as a God. They pray to Buddha and engage in all sorts of superstitious, cultural practices when they wish Buddha to grant them money, luck, happiness, etc.
It’s very different from the Western concept of Buddhism as described by Buddhists in the West who converted to Buddhism after learning about their version of Buddhism from other Western Buddhist teachers. The Western concept of Buddhism, to me, seems almost atheistic in nature. Which is far from the kind of Buddhism I’ve seen and have been brought up with after growing up in Asia and attending local Asian schools (not International schools), mixing with locals and finding out about their beliefs. I’ve travelled around Asia as well and generally speaking, the God aspect cannot be ignored in the way Buddhist Asians practise their religion.
Buddhism has always been touted as a non-violent and non-coercive religion. Well I think recent events such as the Burmese/Rohingya conflicts in which several Muslims were killed by Buddhists reflects a different side of Buddhism.
Another example is the longstanding and bloody conflict between the Sinha Buddhists and the Hindus in Sri Lanka. To this day, many Sri Lankans are divided on this issue. I made a friend with a Sri Lankan Buddhist mum at my daughter’s school many years ago and they are a lovely family. Very hardworking and kind. However whenever she spoke of the Hindus in Sri Lanka, her tone changed and she had a look of disgust and anger in her eyes. She only told me briefly about the conflict and the power struggles the Buddhists and Tamils have in Sri Lanka historically, which resulted in a lot of bloodshed – and hence that was the reason why her family decided to migrate to England for a safer life.
On another point, we all know how popular and well-loved the Dalai Lama is worldwide, especially in Westernizes countries. He comes from Tibet, which is strongly Buddhist and has resisted the influence of Christian missionaries, who have stationed themselves in Tibet since the 17th century. To this day, 99% of the Tibetan population are Buddhist. It makes us wonder if it is as easy or free for Tibetans in Tibet to pursue knowledge about another religion, or even convert and practice it. From what I’ve found out so far, it seems not. Here’s just one article online which shows the extent of how the population exerts a form of social control over the people’s freedom to practice another religion. http://www.sim.org/index.php/content/tibetan
Yes it’s written by a Christian missionary organisation on the difficulties of infiltrating Tibetan society with their brand of God. I’m not endorsing Christianity or any religion here by the way. An excerpt from the article wrote :
” The first recorded Nghari Tibetan church was built by Jesuit missionaries in Lhasa in 1726. Twenty-seven baptized converts and 60 inquirers attended the church. “At the end of April, 1742, a new convert named Pu Tsering publicly refused to bow before the Dalai Lama. This threw the town into an uproar…. Twelve of the Christians were flogged with 20 lashes each. The missionaries fled to Nepal, but their church was attacked by a mob who destroyed everything except the church bell… . Today there are no known Christians among the Nghari Tibetans, and only 1% [have heard the gospel.]”
Not sure if it’s the truth or just lies… but I find it an entirely believable account, knowing what I know.
In Thailand recently, there were a spate of news articles like this http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/thailand/130619/youtube-video-thai-buddhist-monks-private-jet about Thai Buddhist monks visiting prostitutes, using Meth, owning private jets and luxury cars from all the alms they receive from the general public. In other words, they have become total hypocrites, living the kind of lifestyle they preach against.
Now although there is a lot I love about the Buddhist religion (I have been agnostic with a Buddhist slant for the past 15 odd years) my experiences in life in Asia so far has only taught me that there is no perfect religion (or a religion where all of it’s followers are kind and accommodating to all other religions). I know Asian Buddhist friends who still use corporal punishment on their kids, treat their kids with less kindness and tolerance than even I would, even though they are very devout Buddhists. Many gangsters and criminals in Asia are Buddhists and pray every day.. In fact, I will be honest here and say that I find it much easier to stay the way I am rather than follow a different religion. On the other hand though, I have not yet found any other religion which does more for me than Buddhism has already. I like reading religious text (of various religions), have considered taking up Theology in University, but it doesn’t matter to me which religion I belong to. When people ask me what my faith is, I say I’m not really a religious sort of person and end it there. I don’t really want to broach the subject of what religion I consider myself to belong to. Just take me for who I am, not what label I want to attach to myself.
To me, it’s what you do, not what religion you believe in, that matters.
Yes, it’s satire. http://bit.ly/11PbRTE But good satire. It hits a real target. Plenty of people really do think like that.
Here’s the picture he’s talking about (click on it twice to enlarge):
Today I found a way out of selfishness. All day I was wondering what was gonna be for dinner as there was nothing left in the fridge. I was telling my husband he should buy takeaways. I was just gaming all day long as my kids did, and didn’t feel like budging from my seat. Then this niggling thought in my head that we should really be saving money, not spending. And then an idea popped up in my head of making brown rice. So I made my usual brown rice in creamy condensed soup thingy with cupboard stuff like spam and freezer stuff like peas. Worked well. Kids loved it. Well, sort of. Me and Bunnus loved it.
And then I realised that all it took for me to spring into action rather than sit playing games and letting the world go by was to just suddenly get the idea of what I COULD do (i.e. the soupy rice with spam and peas idea), and just doing it. I got up from my game-playing seat as lightly as if my next plan of action was always meant to be. It felt predestined. It felt natural.
Only on hindsight did I realise what I did was an act of kindness. Of course it is kindness to cook for your husband and children. Of course it is kindness to save Bunnus the trouble of having to go out of the house to buy takeaways after he’d had a long day of working at home sewing up the cushions for the caravan he bought to take us all camping in comfort. The man had been working since last weekend, fervently, to get this finished. And yes it finally is finished. And he’s knackered.
Now I can’t believe I’m actually writing about something as boring and mundane as making a dinner for a family. But the way this situation fits a fact-of-life analogy is just epiphanic. One thing led to another, and… … it just felt right.
So I’ve found that whenever I’ve acted kindly, it’s most heartfelt when it comes naturally. When I feel I’ve got nothing to lose by doing it.
So then… maybe that’s the thing here.
People do kind things because they feel they’ve got nothing to lose by doing them. Some people even, gain from it in the form of happiness – yes, some people actually feel happy from being kind. I have to admit I am not that kind of person. Maybe because I’m so damaged from my abusive childhood – thanks Mum. And the fact that I absolutely am too stubborn and cynical to be brainwashed by any religion to believe that being kind is THE way to a good life.
It’s a mindset more than anything in reality. For who is to say you won’t lose anything when you do something? You’ll always lose something – be it time that can be spent on something else, money, effort, etc. But I suppose that’s a wrong way to think. To think that anything in life is finite. To be afraid of loss is to believe that everything you possess is finite. But how wrong we’d be to think we even possess anything in this life. We never asked to be born. And everything we get in life is handed to us just … like this. Like the way life deals out each and every one of our cards for us. From the moment we were born, without our consent.
I am glad I gave a little more thought into why I am uncomfortable with D. and R. And I have been Googling up stuff… I have come to the conclusion that it is out of insecurity. Whether they are insecure or not – and maybe they are, judging from their reliance on others and on material goods to feel happy about themselves. But that is not the main issue I should be concerned about at this point. The important thing here is I know now how insecure I am myself.
An insecure person is one who is easily influenced, doesn’t seem to have a steadfast belief in one’s beliefs, so to speak. And gets disturbed and put off guard easily whenever he/she encounters difficult situations with or without people. And also when encountering people he/she doesn’t see eye to eye with. I realise that the reason I get upset by others easily when they disagree with me, is because I am fearful of being judged. And why am I fearful of being judged? Because I am afraid I might actually be… wrong. And why am I afraid to be wrong? Because my self-confidence entirely rests on the shaky conviction that I possess, in which I believe I am right or correct in my thinking, and that can never be disputed.
The problem with thinking like this is that in reality, there is no absolute right or wrong in this universe. Things just are. People can be convinced by others’ arguments if they “sound right” but notions of right and wrong are truly fluid concepts. Any concept can be out-argued, no matter how right it may sound to one. And hence I realise I was just getting all fragile and shaky because I was too attached to some concepts which I believed underlied my entire existence and being.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about this.
And hereby explains why I have been dithering back and forth about having tattoos, or a facial piercing – things I always wanted to have. Or at least, things I always thought I wanted to possess. At the back of my mind each time, I had a niggling doubt about my beliefs – I knew I was insecure and I knew my personal beliefs were shaky and possibly derived from some media format I’ve been exposed to and egregiously adopted as my own without having had the self-knowledge to have determined whether or not these beliefs were in line with what I really am about, deep down. I knew that if I decided on a tattoo or facial piercing because I thought it represented who I am, it may not be correct. It might be a serious misjudgment. One that I have to live with the rest of my life… whether with the tattoo or piercing as a permanent fixture, or as scars. Scars that came about from tattoo removal attempts or allowing the piercing to close up.
And what am I really about, deep down? Now I am beginning to open my eyes to my soul. Now I am starting to learn all about myself.
So I can’t say for sure yet. But whatever it is, I better be sure of it. Better accept it. Because this ain’t gonna go away no matter how many layers of adopted beliefs from elsewhere I put on myself on top of the real me, like layers of an onion. Every person on this Earth is born naked, bleeds red blood, and dies alone. No one is special or above everyone else. I have just as much of a right to be who I am as the next person. So I deserve to be valued for who I am, in my eyes. The self-deprecation must stop.
Here lieth the journey I am beginning. I am finally getting to know myself. And be true to myself.
When he turned 50, Einstein granted an interview in which he was asked
point-blank, do you believe in God?
“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
“I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals or would sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we can comprehend about the knowable world. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
Taken from the following sources :
I’ve been having psychotherapy to work through the issues I’ve had in my life. Issues from childhood are very poignant, as my mother was a very toxic parent. As I unravel the bits of my life that have gone unresolved through the decades (I’m older than you think, LOL) I realised finally that all this time, since I was about 14, when I had renounced my faith and belief in God, it was actually a kneejerk reaction to all the torment my mother put me through since I was a wee child. So everything dear to her life that she stood for, I was like – bullshit. It’s crap. She was a fucked up woman and she poisoned my life with her rubbish and anger at the way her own life turned out.
I prayed every single day since I was about 8 or 9, to God to please release me from my mother’s grip. I actually wished my Dad would divorce her because she was so vile and she hated me so much. It’s really kind of fucked up because on the other hand, all I wanted was for my mother to love me and to show me real care and concern. Not harp on day in and out about how much she thinks I’m an evil child and how much she wished I was dead and that she had never had me. She even blames me for my difficult birth. How fucked up is that?
I don’t think she ever realised that her coping mechanisms to deal with her own sense of failure was just to blame everyone else other than to just take it on the chin and move on. So I was a difficult birth. Was I to blame? What kind of fucked up thought process was that?
So I’ve gradually came to see that a lot of the things I thought I was were in fact not quite my true self – with the help of a rather very clever psychotherapist who could help me see through my own thought processes and the hindrances it brings me despite me possibly being a rather impetuous and difficult client (since I am naturally headstrong and stubborn).
So for years and years, I thought I was atheist. Actually I was more irreligious than anything. I saw religion and it’s rulebooks as parent substitutes and since I hated my parent, every aspect of the religious rulebook repulsed me. But now I don’t hate her that much… I accept she was fucked up, and a pig of a mother, and yes she ruined my childhood but that’s just life… my therapist told me that if I hear her voice criticising me again in my head, to just tell it/”her” to shut up. To swear at it/”her” even. Because everything she said about me was untruth – I was not a bad person, she was only venting her own frustrations at me without caring if they hurted me or not.
Well … this is the interesting bit. I threw the baby out with the bathwater when I renounced my faith in God so many years ago. I realise deep down that I probably still do believe in a God – albeit a God who is all-powerful but not particularly thinking along the same wavelengths as us mortals. So this God permits and controls everything that exists in the universe, including all the suffering, pain and injustice. That is because in God’s eyes, this serves a purpose in the greater scheme of things, which only God knows. We don’t. We most probably don’t.
I have a personal relationship with God though I don’t feel compelled to have to attend some house of worship or join a religion/club for it. I don’t believe in tithing or supporting the clergy or even that I need some kind of a middle man to help me navigate my relationship with God. In that aspect I am starting to think that many aspects of Quakerism is very appealing to me. But I will need to do more personal research on that before subscribing to any particular faith – if I feel the need to, at all. Buddhism is also another religion that probably is a decent fit for me… but there are so many branches of Buddhism and they differ.
I recently asked my husband to complete this 20-qn questionnaire on Beliefnet that tells you at the end what religion or faith is most aligned with your particular concepts/beliefs. Funnily, his results showed his thinking is more along the lines of a Unitarian Universalist… so quite a departure from his Dutch Reform Church/Catholic upbringing.
I have yet to complete that questionnaire as I got stuck on qn 4 – the question of an afterlife. You see I really want to answer every question as truthfully and confidently as possible. I want my answers to be well thought-out so I don’t get a dud result. But then again, maybe I’m just going to step away from questionnaires such as this because they are meant to be used as fun tools that may or may not be accurate for you… they are not meant to be gospel of course.
Anyway, I think I have come to the conclusion about my answer to qn 4… It’s that I believe there really is no way of knowing what the afterlife is, or even if there is one. No one has ever gone and came back and conclusively say that they have seen such and such. Religious books were written by mortals inspired by God but everybody is inspired by God in different ways and every religious book is just some people’s versions of what they think God means to them. Me personally, I find more joy and enlightenment reading stuff written by Kahlil Gibran than any other religious text. To me, universal love is the way forward.
Oh, and all this rebelling against my mum all these years in a way did produce some positive results. I was bent on being a woman and a parent in the opposite of what she was. I was determined to take control of my body, to homebirth my children, to breastfeed, to parent mercifully. All of these things have given me strength and happiness and insight and wisdom, in ways I could never have achieved if I were to just blindly follow the parenting examples I was exposed to as a child.
So in a way I am going to say to her… thanks for giving me a shit life because it helped me see the flipside better. But then again, thanks for also the high psychotherapy costs I am now incurring as a result of having to work through all these fucked up thoughts I’ve accumulated whilst I was under your grip mum… ummm… on the other hand, no thanks for that!
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.”
Kent M. Keith (via twotonmantaray)