Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Prophets and Losses

Last Saturday night, a girl friend and I went in quest of a slow and chilled time, which included an indulgent meal, to fight the humidity that was enveloping the night and to keep the loose strands of my tight ponytail from sticking to the back of my neck. We found ourselves strolling down Clarke Quay on that beautiful evening just as the earth was adjusting from the rain we had a few hours ago. Amid the moist air that hung heavily in our lungs, we parked ourselves at one of the new(ish) bars/restaurants -- al fresco -- and recruited the tender to nourish us with some refreshing mojitos.

"What's he doing here?" she suddenly asked, interrupting my fantasies of snow falling at the height of summer in a tropical country. I followed the direction of her pointed finger. Just by the bar was our ever-famous door bitch from a nearby hip club -- thanks to him, we never had to queue up or pay door prices.

"Oh, I don't know... but it's too early for him to be working," I retorted, glancing at my watch.
She madly waved her hands whilst yelling out his name. He finally caught sight of the pair of us, gave us the nod that only cool people manage to do with perfection, and decidedly joined us at our table.


"Girls, girls! How are you?" he greeted us in that typical i'll-pretend-we've-been-friends-forever-but-I-honestly-don't-know-anything-about-you fashion of the people in a "happening" industry. Air kisses were swapped for a short while.

Fifteen minutes into the small talk that we all dread about -- about how crappy the weather was, how we're all underpaid and overworked, how quick weekends go by and all that banter -- we discovered that he has delved into owning some shares in food establishments here and there within the area, inlcuding the one we were at. Although... he did assure us that he will always be our door bitch whenever we swing by his club. He simply is giving the entrepreneur in him a chance to blossom and to try different things. Sure, clever move.

"So, been on holiday much?" I asked in an effort to revive the dying conversation.

"Not yet," he said. "But I will go on one in June. I'm going to India for a month."

Errr, excuse me? A month?

"I'm going on a retreat there and open up myself to peace and happiness," he continued, his eyes starting to sparkle dangerously. "My meditation teacher will be there too. I'm very excited."

Another ten minutes passed on how he got himself into this whole spiritual shindig. He admitted to gradually evolving into a cleaner and healthier person by giving up meat, alcohol, and a few other wordly temptations -- and that he has been meditating everyday and praying for bliss. He has been reading Indian books on spirituality, has opened all his chakras, and has attained several levels of peace (or something) already.

"When I go to India, I will be shaving my head to keep the energy close by," he said, with the opposite amount of enthusiasm that I would have if I said I were to shave my head. "It's going to be really cool! Nothing will come between me and my destiny."

Wait, that's not all...

"And then I'm going to give up everything I have. I will cash out all my shares and give my cash to the poor, saving a little for me for my expenses. I will give up everything and lead a life of simplicity, just like how it should really be. I'm so happy right now, you have no idea. I have finally achieved inner peace -- and I have realized that there is nothing else that we need in order to be happy but God."

One word: whoa...

Can I say radical change? This guy's life was revolving around booze and parties -- not to mention, his manner of scraping up a living involves those too. And part of his image were his signature sunglasses and his slick hair. And it's all going to go down the pipes?

He went on and one about how wonderful his journey to spirituality has become and how he was currently enjoying his state of nirvana. And also how he finally obtained the sort of wealth that can never be taken away from him. He quoted a few books here and there regarding the philosophies in life that he's been following and how it has helped him become a better person.

"I've become very zen," he quipped blushing with pride.

As a Catholic for the past twenty five years, the information he was feeding us was anything but brand new. He was boasting of the outstanding values he has learned from Hinduism and how he would recommend everyone to go through it. I couldn't help but think about how the foundation of his philosophies were very much tied to what mine are -- and I know absolute shite about Hinduism. He mentioned the need for God minus our craving for worldly objects and material pursuits. Sound familiar? His enthusiasm and zeal were fresher than it can ever be as his education is relatively new. Hopefully, however, that he will keep at it and that he will not regret any of his (drastic) decisions. He has only begun, after all, to discover what it truly means to be happy -- something that many people have been trying to achieve, and also something that a lot of other people fail to realize exists.

It only reiterates my living philosophy that there may be several religions in the world, with several names for God to match, but in essence... there is only one God that we all adore, worship and revere. No one can judge others by their methods of worship and the underlying philosophies and principles that support it because the prayers are all essentially towards the same being. There is no wrong or right religions, as long as it doesn't involve anyone or anything getting hurt.

I grew up within a widely Catholic society. Ironically, it is only upon my extraction from that circle that made me appreciate it more. The more I got attacked because of my religious identity, the more I felt compelled to defend it... and the more reason I found to believe in it. I've met numerous people following varied religions. And as I ensconce myself deeper into knowing more about the differences, the more similarities I find. The common theme being the path of goodness leading us to the door of eternal happiness.

Surely, the Catholic church has exposed more than a few unfortunate events in the past that has led many to stray from it. I don't believe in pointing fingers or taking sides, but I'd like to think that no matter how religiously influential some people are, the bottomline is that they're still human. Only God is perfect. We're only created in His image and likeness, and is therefore, still imperfect. However, those who have chosen to pull out of the Catholic family, I sincerely hope that they've sought refuge elsewhere instead of floating in eternal limbo and not belonging to a family that provides the basic pillars of living.

I have massive respect for people's religious beliefs (and non-beliefs) and I have never imposed mine on anyone. I answer questions when asked but because I dislike people who push their philosophies on me, I try to do otherwise. I admire those who have found their path to happiness through religion, however and whatever it may be. I've never really been fancy schmancy about being Catholic. Sure, I go to church every Sunday or say my prayers to the beads of the rosary once in a while, but I was never one to go out on a limb to join the choir or go on month-long retreats.. However, I'd like to think that I can safely call myself devout without feeling like a fraud. Devotion to one's God, after all, is highly subjective and is a very personal matter. And as mentioned, devotion to God can be expressed in differently.

As Frederick the Great once said, "All religions must be tolerated... for every man must get to heaven his own way."


39 Comments:

Blogger Rohit said...

Wow... You hear these kind of things happen, but, one almost never gets to see it in real life

I wont say that I 100% agree with the bloke... I mean, it seems kind of strange thinking that the sole purpose for GOD creating us is to worship him, but, mayb that the sole way to inner peace is thru HIM

Kind of gets you wondering. The world now is more free than it ever was before. Yet there is so much frustration in it, and, most people feel like its captives searchin fer some sort of liberation... ironic... i think

7:36 PM  
Blogger Nivi said...

well i do agree with you there... to each person his own .. what works for one doesnt for another.. and if they believe it leads them to happiness then y not?? who are we to judge them...
Still it is this search for happiness tht is bothering..its no destination its a state of mind and in a way we choose to be happy or not!!!
gr8 post!!

7:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I am not game to take you on over different religions or your personal beliefs, but is it not just the tiniest bit possible that we have evolved? Was/is there really a higher being or a creator? In a country that has few god worshipers, many of our problems are caused by recent arrivals who do passionately believe in a greater being. I think I would like to turn the clock back ten or fifteen years when our country was a little less passionate about a higher being.

8:53 PM  
Blogger nel said...

Not much comment on this one. Some have found it, only to lost it later again in life. Almost everything I have understand on feeling bliss and enlighten; but the god part ... hummmm ... we in his image? lol ... It's only us on this planet earth that have a religion, while my dog would wag her tail. Does a dog have buddha nature? Though, I do wish him the very best in his quest ... ;) ... cheers for the day to everybody here ... :)

9:32 PM  
Blogger Marni said...

I'm glad he's happy and doing what he wants, but....

who's going to be your door bitch while he's gone?!!!!

9:58 PM  
Blogger mathew said...

well perception is different for each..for my case I am a catholic who doesnt go to church every sunday..I dont want faith to be ritual..faith should be something that defines goodness in us..it is all about conscience..everything else is secondary..

i always have trouble with Mom who is insist on going to church every sunday..but for me faith and devotion is more about oneself..about how good we ourselves are..you dont have to prove that you are good...

nice thoughts..

9:59 PM  
Blogger --Sunrise-- said...

As Frederick the Great once said, "All religions must be tolerated... for every man must get to heaven his own way."

Beautiful.

And a beautiful read, too, Princess Banter... beautiful flow of thoughts.

And I think I am using the word "beautiful" one too many times now. :P :)

3:18 AM  
Blogger `NEFTY said...

LOL, I wish for snow too on sunny,hot days... && when it's snowing I want it to turn 90degress suddenly:]]

3:20 AM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Amen!

5:33 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

My God is a very tolerant individual.
I know when He's pleased,and when He's pissed...I try to stay on His good side.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Irreversibly Screwed said...

As The Dalai Lama said...

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Amen to that...

10:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa Francisco said...

Beautiful post chica!

I'm not a believer in religion although I am strongly intrigued by Buddhism. But I don't believe by going to church you will be closer to God. I believe you can pray anywhere and your God will hear you.

I applaud you on your beliefs and I hope you bring positivity and creativity this world with your beliefs. It's great to hear people not trying to shove religion down people's throats. You have a keen insight.

:)

Lisa

10:42 AM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

Yeah, it happens many times. People do try to force upon their views. Seen many times.
But as like you I don't want to be forced upon. I have my own ways to worship.

All religions must be tolerated... for every man must get to heaven his own way. Beautifully said.

Nice beautiful post. Keep writing. :)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I agree...live and let live. Opinions and beliefs vary. Let us not allow that to destroy us.

Keshi.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Wondering if he read a book I have here called, "The monk who sold his ferrari"...sounds very likely like the kind of thing he would have read...and the kind of thing the book exactly depicts.
Wonderful read truly.

http://www.cygnus-books.co.uk/mind_body_spirit_books/monk-who-sold.htm

1:24 PM  
Blogger Maverick said...

keeping faith in something always helps. it especially helps in bad times n gives a positive energy. be tht faith be a religion - any religion, be it science or for the skeptic people, be it themselves, its can be anything but it gotta be there.

3:02 PM  
Blogger shnaggy said...

whew that was a long post. but i enjoyed till the last drop.

i am also catholic by default. however i have learned so much more outside of it. but faith is our strongest link to god, the bible our road map.

thanks for dropping by, i now have a new blogger friend. and i'd love to come back...

see yah princess.

3:22 PM  
Blogger alex said...

Princess,

You met the monk who sold his ferrari?? :P

Yeah..every man..his path to God. :)

5:18 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Very well said indeed! I quote Swami Vivekananda on a Sanskrit hymn here: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

6:00 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

One more thing, though --- if you are a good-enough friend of his, do see to it that it is not an euphoria that he is going through where the glass of his dreams might shatter very soon when reality and poverty really hits. But I suppose he knows what he is doing.

6:02 PM  
Blogger smilnsigh said...

Hello Lia! Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting.

I don't know how you happened by, but I'm very happy you did. Otherwise I'd not have found your blog and your writing. Both of which, already have me mesmerized.

Mari-Nanci

7:21 PM  
Blogger fifi said...

Dreaming of snow in the tropics, you are a dreamer like me, princess.

Sage observations on life...

each to their own a path for everyone, which probably leads to the same place.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Kyla Bea said...

Very interesting, but I think that it's interesting he has to remove himself from his situation so completely to find that peace. I think there's a great deal of value in packing it in and going to do something totally different- but at the same time it seems like his overindulgence in his current lifestyle is just being shifted to another area of his life.

I'm all for people being enthusiastic- but moderation is important too!!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Battlerocker said...

Wonderful post, and wonderful quote. Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to find you.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Arcturus said...

Hi Princess Banter,

Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading my post.

Re. your Indian club friend, I'm afraid that just sounds like one more bit of self-indulgent, even narcissistic youthful nonsense.

How living essentially as a begger on a street in a developing world overcrowded city, or chanting in a dark temple really connects you to some idealized form of human existence is beyond me. Yeah, I know, Jesus did it. But Jesus was the Son of God and God.

Put harshly, my guess is a few months of being a self-righteous and unwashed e-facto hippie will be more than enuf for him.

As an ex-Catholic myself, all I can tell you is that the Vatican hierarchy functions as a kind of mafia ... it is overloaded beyond belief with hypocrisy concerning homosexuality. (For what it's worth anecdotally, virtually every priest I've never met in D.C. when I went to church turned out to be gay.) The worst are the birth control teachings given overpopulation, Third World poverty, and AIDS ... this is a well-trod subject area that I don't need to give more than my 2 cents, but you get the idea. It's unforgiveable.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Neo said...

every person has his views and beliefs..just live and let live. period.

4:38 AM  
Blogger foam said...

i also believe there a several paths that lead to God....or to enlightenment (however you want to call it) they may not all be christian paths.
this fellow sounds smitten with his new believe system though.... almost like being heads over heals in love. sometimes the smitten act without thinking. i hope he does not regret giving up everything.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Stace said...

God has no religion.

8:56 AM  
Blogger The Stormin Mormon said...

I'm still lost at "giving up meat and booze."

The fucker's trying to put me out of buisness, but at least he's saving me all of the beef... :-)

Personally, giving up either of those would have the opposite of the desired effect.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Kylie said...

I'm new over here, but I just thought I'd let you know that you articulated your thoughts beautifully.

Oh, and I couldn't agree with you more. There is only one God, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever. We essentially serve the same One.

And you were dead-on when you said that only He is perfect.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Leann said...

I know where this guy is coming from.its called the valley of decision.
we are all looking for the true God,and the happyness of knowing him and being forgiven and recieve the peace that only knowing him can bring.
there is a virse in the bible that says.
THERE IS A WAY UNTO MAN THAT SEEMS RIGHT,BUT THE WAY LEADS TO DEATH.

a man or woman can believe they are on the right road but be so wrong.
Jesus said ("I am the way,the truth,and the life,no man comes to the father but throught me.")
now that cant get much clearer then that.we come throught the cross and what Jesus did.
I was into alot of junk before I met Jesus.all of it was a waist of time.
Jesus is the only one who gives lasting peace,and true forgiveness for sin,s.

it shows this guy is searching as all of us do.hope his search leads him to Jesus.
it would be sad for him to get to the end of the road and find its a dead end.
thanks for stopping on my blog and leaving a comment.
I always like to see new people on my blog.
have a great weekend and God bless.
Oh I have a saying to tell you my granny use to say.
"way would the farmer buy the cow if he could get the milk for free."that goes with the post below this one.
this is my saying
"ture love waits or its not love but lust.lust dont last, love does."
you can always be like the others,but if your a virgin they cant go back to being like you!!!
find someone who is good for you.

2:09 AM  
Anonymous Nora said...

Each to their own. For me, I believe there are many ways to find inner peace etc without the shaving of heads or the giving away of possessions. But, like I said... each to their own.

3:14 AM  
Blogger The Grunt said...

The whole reason why I'd own a pet is so they would worship me, but I just end up cleaning up after their shit. Hey, that is kind of like God after all!

5:46 PM  
Blogger alpine path said...

Good post. I do agree that everyone has his/her own faiths. But the line between being passionate about one's faith and hurting others' beliefs in the process is very thin and blurred. Too bad that not many learn to differentiate between the two. And, that causes the maximum number of problems in the world. What say?

5:55 PM  
Blogger david santos said...

Thanks for you work, is very good, and have a good weekend

10:09 PM  
Blogger Velocity said...

Good Post :)

Guess u scaled the heights of Faith and Belief.,

Faith in God and Belief in Religion seems to be the same but both have too many Differences.,

Seems u met a Monk whose gonna sell his Ferrari., i bet he is not Julian

Jeyan

2:44 AM  
Blogger BeautifulDisaster said...

I loved this post! I have had a spiritual awakening of sorts in the past year. . . and I left Catholocism after 35 years of devout rules-following. I now believe God(dess) is much broader than the rules defined by religion. I thought leaving the church would create a hole in my life but in reality it has been very freeing and fulfilling to explore boundless spirituality.

2:04 PM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Hi Princess... Beautifully written and wonderful thoughts.. Though I agree it differs for every person

11:28 PM  
Blogger Di said...

wow! always wanted to meet someone like that! :O

2:21 PM  

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