|My Japa Mala|
It all started when I began reading about Eastern Philosophies-- blame it on the bookworm in me and the professor who introduced it to me.
I started buying Buddhist philosophical books and tricked my Mom into thinking that I need them for school research. I was so enticed w/ the life of Gautama Buddha, the Buddhist thought and its practice. According to Buddhism, the rationale behind leading a meaningful life is to have ethics. A person should always strive towards increasing the welfare of not only his own, but of all the living beings. This will help in cessation of suffering, which is so widely prevalent in this world. It took me some time to familiarize myself w/ the Eightfold Path.
It was year 2004 that I decided to apply the practice to my mundane life. And what do you know? My mundane life was not so mundane anymore.
I decided to be a vegetarian—which in my case, the most difficult part of the practice. I used to be a meat loving person. Every weekend, I look forward to dining out to have my favorite Garlic Steak. I used to love my Mom’s Porkchops and enjoy cooking Sinigang na Baboy. To avoid eating red meat—I did the most appalling way, I watched a lot of PETA CDs and all sorts of videos on how to butcher cattle. In less than 6mos I stopped eating red meat and never tried it again.
Choosing a belief that totally contradicts w/ your family can mess up a lot of things. When my Mom found at that I’m practicing Buddhism, our relationship became chaotic. Who can blame her? She raised me a Roman Catholic. I came from a Catholic school. She kept rosaries and bibles of different versions in our house. We practice the non-meat eating tradition during Holy Weeks. We religiously go to church every Sunday. She used to think that I’m just confused because I’ve been through a lot. Having a teenage pregnancy is no big joke. My boyfriend that time was a big jerk. It robbed the most important part of my being—my adolescent life. She urged me to go to church in a regular basis, to stop reading books—always insisting that too much reading gave me clouded thoughts, that I better read The Bible instead. Arguing w/ her is exhausting and completely pointless. It never stopped, it went on for years. I broke her heart and she broke mine as well.
I found work two years ago. Before work started, I used to attend Bhakti-Yoga every Friday. Not to confuse it w/ Buddhism, Bhakti-Yoga is an ISKCON congregation. The movement is somewhat similar to Hinduism. It introduced me to practice chanting which I haven’t done before. Chanting, or the yoga of sound as it is known, has been used as a means to connect with the divine. Chanting is also a way of preserving health and well-being-- even medical science has accepted this. My Guru gave me my first Japa Mala Beads so I can religiously do chanting. I was ecstatic. Every day I would hold on to my Japa Mala and chant while doing chores, before sleeping and upon waking up. When I chant, I’m a happier person. It’s like I’m a little ball of sunshine only that I’m not little. When work started, I became too preoccupied. It consumed a lot of my time. I was always tired, always forgetting things. I stopped chanting. I stopped attending Bhakti-Yoga and someone from our house threw away my Japa Mala Beads. I really don’t know if it’s my Mom, it’s still a mystery up to now.
My hubby never understood my fascination w/ Buddhist beliefs. At times, talking about religion would just end up in a heated argument. He used to complain why I have to be so different. Again, history is repeating itself. But when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it (I’m quoting from Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist). It’s no coincidence that I stumbled upon learning Eastern Philosophies. I still believe to this day that I was destined to follow this path.
Last month, my husband and I went to my Guru’s place to visit and tell him that I’m getting married. I was so happy to see him. The last time I saw him was two years ago. He gave me books and to my surprise, my second Japa Mala Beads. I’m suddenly back to chanting again. Hubby got used of seeing me chant while we watch TV. I now mastered the art of arguing w/out raising a voice. It did me good and he took the credit. I already accepted the fact that we’ll always have contradictory beliefs, that we could never be the same. It saddens me but you got to do what you have to do.
I'm far from being good, but I strongly abide by The Golden Rule. I think it’s enough reason for my loved ones to see that maybe being different is not so bad after all-- being different made me a better person.