crunch crunch crunch today i heard the leaves go crunch crunch crunch
below is my religious autobiography i wrote sometime a month ago in early September. for this assignment there were a few requirements to be fulfilled such as highlighting definitions of religion from a given rubric and from a personal point of view. ok, well this is me . . . . . . . . .
October 1994 – my eyes opened, and here I was, born and alive. This little girl
hails from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – a rainbow nation, as I like to call it.
“People here don’t ever look the same,” once said by a friend who was visiting
Malaysia. Indeed, the country is multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural!
It is known that we have three main ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, and Indian.
However, the nation is now filled with many others from countries such as
Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, Korea, Pakistan, and so on. As for
religious affiliations, people in Malaysia practice Islam, Christianity,
Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and other indigenous religions. Diversity
is just something we have to live with!
First off, I am Roxanne Chong Kar Yee. I have a Chinese
name; in America it would be my middle name. But I mostly go by Roxanne or Rox,
even my own grandmother no longer calls me by my Chinese name. I was born into
a Taoist family. Most of the times, on paper documents and when talking to
others, we generally tell people we are Buddhists. This is because Taoism isn’t
quite recognized as an official religion in our nation, and it is not very
known to people in general. I am Chinese by blood, so most people would expect
me to speak Mandarin or some Chinese language or dialect… but, I don’t. Not
quite. The first language I learned was Hokkien, but when I enrolled into
primary school, my mom taught it would be best that we actively learned and
spoke English at home. At the age of 7, my siblings and I had completely
transitioned from Hokkien to English. No more Hokkien. “Eh hiau tia, beh hiau
kong” (“I can listen, but cannot speak”) This phrase I had learned to use with
aunts and uncles at Chinese New Year reunions and gatherings. Today, my ‘first’
language is English (Malaysian English, of course). I also speak the Malay
language fluently, and know enough Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkien to enjoy
simple conversations, and probably to order food from hawker stalls.
At age 7, religion was something normal to have,
something everyone had. In Malaysia, we are surrounded by people who practice
different religions. In school, the Malay Muslims would say “Assalamualaikum”
and our Indian Hindu neighbors would perform rituals for respective festivals.
On Sunday mornings my Christian friends would go to church, and at home as
Taoists we would pray to Guanyin. Religion was for everyone, praying was for
everyone, I had thought. However, I do not recall much of how I first learned
about God, as my parents did not educate us much on religion. They said they
had not taught us much about religion, but I believe it can all be found in our
values and our lifestyle. From around the age of 7 and onwards, I had seen
religion in the rituals we perform, such as prayers. My mother would pray the
morning and evening of every day, and everyone in the family would pray during
Chinese New Year, Hungry Ghost festival, and other festivals or occasions. Religion
was all about rituals, and praying to God.
years, I would ask my mother “What should we say when we pray?” I found out
later that my mother always prays for our health and safety, if not for our education.
Religion then became something that made us feel safe, and something for us to
be optimistic. Once in a while, my father would tell us stories about
reincarnation. “If you do many bad things in this life, you may just become a
dog or some kind of animal in the next life!” Oh, a dog is not all that bad, I
think. But, perhaps it was an easy example for us young kids at that time. My
father also once said “If you eat the seeds of an orange, you will turn into an
orange tree the next day!” We hardly ever listen to mythical or sacred stories
relating to our religion, or perhaps I have just mistaken them for my father’s
humorous stories… But, whenever myth was heard, myth always came with doubts. I
remember disregarding many of them.
forward to the age of 17, and here I was – fresh out of secondary school. I had
spent several months at home before I came to America for college. Those
several months were a lot of time for contemplation, especially on existential
matters as well as about the self. “Why do we exist?” “Is there really a God?”
“What is my place in the universe?” “Is happiness overrated?” “What is normal?”
I later learned and defined religion as something optional. Wikipedia and such
pages on the net give you plenty to learn and to think about. When I came to
Truman, I attended meetings by Freethinkers, Stargazers, Plants Life, Art
History, cultural clubs, and other societies that pushed me to be curious. I became
awfully pushy in being curious; it was not exactly the healthiest way to learn.
I was disconnected from family for quite a bit, as I wanted to forget the
attachment and whatever feelings that would distract me from college and from
the day-to-day functioning. Not knowing then, but heartless was what I was
trying to be.
was an option. God was an option. I claimed to be atheist, but after a while it
did not feel quite right. A little too extreme for my views, I thought. Well
then, an agnostic I shall be. It fit perfectly when I had found it; exactly
what I needed was to suspend my beliefs about God and other supernatural
things… Many things were happening, and were felt – I became depressed, and
very pessimistic about life and people. I often thought about dying and ending
my own life. At age 19, religion was nonexistent to me. At age 20, many things
once again were happening, and were felt. I enrolled in Cognitive Science and
Weird Science within the same semester, which did me much good I believe. I had
heard all these many times but only finally learning to embrace now… “Let go”
“Go with intuition” “Embrace uncertainty” At age 20, this felt like the right
time to learn about religion. For all that I have so far experienced, I wanted
to learn more about religion, especially the one my family grew up with. What
does it mean to be a Taoist? Do we believe in reincarnation as well? Do we
believe in the existence of a deity? How do we pray?
20, I also went home for summer break, and worked at a pre-school. I loved the
kids that made every thing in the world funny, light, and non-serious
(including reading a book entitled ‘God Made’), but I also loved the
conversations I had with my co-workers. One was a 64-year old Malay Muslim,
Teacher Anne, and another was a 55-year old Indian Hindu, Teacher Santhi. They
both brought me to Buddhist temples, where we saw people praying and reading
mantras, and where we also had vegetarian meals (I am a vegetarian for over a
year now, it has only recently dawned on me that my views on eating meat is
very identical with the perspective from Buddhists and Hindus!). Teacher Anne
once said, “My dad says, “If you want to be a good Muslim, you have to learn
about other religions”” What wonderful souls I had met and had heard about. This
summer break was also a time where I spent many moments with my mother, sharing
thoughts we had never shared before. She had finally told me what she believes
in (she doesn’t necessarily believe in God, but she believes in a higher power
out there that has control over events that we don’t have control over. She also
very much believes in fate, and thinks that praying can be comforting).
Religion was finally a comfortable conversation.
20 and almost 21, religion became many things. Religion is something for humans
to feel safe and hopeful. Religion was a collection of myths, rituals, and
doctrines that I have yet to fully discover at home and in religions class. Religion
is a reminder to people for how to be good human beings (by being kind to
others, and by not doing harm to ourselves or others). Religion is a reason for
people to get together, and especially, to connect. This is true, I believe,
whether those people are of the same or different religious backgrounds. Religion
is something that I feel. This inner experience is something I have yet to
fully discover, although I believe I am on my way to discovering it. Today,
religion is many things to me and I can’t seem to put it all in one sentence or
one definition. If I had to, it would be “Religion is a way of life” but I have
been told it is too vague of a definition. I tell people my family and I are
Taoists, but to this day I don’t quite know what that means. If not a Taoist, I
think I am definitely a seeker – a seeker of Taoism, or any sort of faith that
I can resonate and closely identify with. So, if not “Religion is a way of life,”
then it definitely is “Religion is a process or a journey.”
this 500th post of mine since 2006. 2015 comes here and well, what is time any way (? -@7dsq89)
this past week was a swell and well week. i saw with my own eyes a butterfly fluttering its last flashes and flitters. gulp gulp by a little cricket which is not to be mistaken for a big old predator. for over two hours i spoke with a friend in Paraguay; he is Henry Smith and what good heart this soul has. also Thomas Clubb who is always there, an always-there friend. kawan - "they fill in the spaces, and occupy your time" I believe they do more and are much more. that by the way was also said by the same person who said "when have you lost 'you'?" plenty refreshing things i have heard in this swell and well week of mine. talking and sharing about fate. . . "i was destined to meet this person" thank you for sharing those personal experiences, you indeed are a flower, a warm flower i am glad to be acquainted with. more on ideas for projects, ...talent or gift. do we all have our own unique talents or gifts? or are we just the insignificants among the over seven billion souls? nevertheless it is always wonderful to hear the inputs from all people and prompt questions that are rarely asked in the day to day and that are able to hear answers coming from the heart and the mind. . . but more from the heart i hope. . . more from the heart. .. . . .. Stuti Chugh a good friend from India, made the most swaadisht dahl with dosa (tose, in Malaysia that's what we call it) and potatoes and coconut chutney ! the wonderfulest dinner in a while, for the food i miss and the company i much enjoyed. also my dost who has been sharing and teaching about buddhism and religion. i luv these conversations. mom said "lucky you." mommaa mero maya mero pariwaaar, always in me you are and always within me. i also heard squirrels making sounds like little lizards like the ones at home (yes both in home and outside home).
aakash aaja ramro chaa
One night of this swell and well week i also saw with my own eyes the most beautifulest night sky (the other most beautifulest night sky was sometime last two summers when a few friends and i went stargazing for about two hours). i had walked back from a friend's as i saw all in front and all around me the night sky all dark enough for the stars to be shining and glittering. . . .what a thing to be grateful for. . .. . . . on saturday of this week i made & ate momos with my nepali friends / brothers. kancha macha amigos saathi kawan !
"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."
- Aristotle Onassis
Read the above quote four times and tell me what you think of it. Precisely what I thought after coming across it heedlessly at least 25 times; So when I'm having the worst day ever where I lose hope and faith and everything that keeps me living I should probably, oh wait I must focus to see the light or what ever that could possibly be on the brighter side?
It is during my darkest moments, or so I believe they are my darkest and gloomiest yet, that I find toughest to be open to any positive thoughts. I say and do things irrationally that is brought upon only from my pessimistic side, but that's what the dark mind does to you; it attends to negative thoughts and neglects anything that might seem positive or hopeful. But over time, through personal experiences, I figured that usually after a long thought I've been accustomed to go through several stages which eventually make me feel better altogether. I learnt that 1) There are ways of making yourself feel better, 2) It might take a little effort and time but you WILL feel better sooner or later.
I was never comfortable with telling others what I really thought and felt, until I felt like I wanted someone else not just to listen but to understand. Closure isn't always a good idea in a long run. I guess what I'm trying to say is no matter how dark a situation or a feeling may be, there is light somewhere. May it be a bright or dim light, just like an idea it can be cultivated - give yourself some time and with a little effort, you are bound to feel better. It's never a cinch but this I can promise you - you WILL feel better.
This might not help but I sure hope it will: You are much more than you think you are; you are you and you are of beauty and pleasantness and your existence is momentous and to quote a friend, "Your life is important".
I apologize for the hiatus I had taken from this photo challenge for classes and school-related matters
are keeping me occupied but I am soon to reach the end of this challenge wohoo!
This semester, although began only three days ago, is the semester where I am drowned into a schedule I knew I wouldn't be fond of; thanks to the fact that I had to take a 7:30 a.m. class as other times for the course I'm taking filled up pretty quick. Nonetheless, this semester's commencement (for now) marked the end of my deteriorating sleeping habits; no more staying up until someone else gets up for breakfast or until I see daylight and hear birds chirping, no more unproductive activities while staying awake late, no more squandering hours doing nothing significant, no more brooding constantly over the pettiest or hugest matters in life, no more time to dwell on unnecessary things to dwell on. Of course when I say no more I really meant not as much anymore. I will still do those things mentioned regardless, simply because some things we are accustomed to doing. I probably just won't do them as much now.
If it weren't for my morning class, I'd still be comfortable with the idea of hitting the sack at 3 or 4 a.m. Nocturnal or not, I used to think that I had no reasons to sleep early and that I was more productive at nighttime. Over time it just became a habit like any other habit I have; it stuck with me and I stuck with it. My late nights weren't entirely productive but they were like a scale on a gas tank; full or empty. Those nights were neither filled nor barren of activities, but of thoughts.
Hours would be occupied with watching movies, drawing or sketching, reading and having multiple waffles coated thick with Nutella but for some of the times, what kept me up was the solitude. On nights like these when desolateness doesn't seem as desolate, it almost felt like my mind was opened to another expanse of ideas, hope and freedom. Thoughts creep on the mind but they are of both good and bad; they are what makes me ponder, they are what makes me sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up and repeat that routine, they are what makes me keep going and hanging on.
The above picture was taken slightly over a month ago, several weeks before Christmas when my housemates and I got a Christmas tree for the house. One of my housemate enthusiastically decorated her door and the interior space of her room with Christmas lights and other pretty decorative items. The picture might not seem to have much relevance with today's blog post but I figured I'd go with it because I haven't got many photos pertaining nighttime to select from...
Music's always a good company during late nights; give this song a try.
Having to rotate a pot (or three) a quarter turn daily might not be much of a huge routine (no daily quarter turn rotations might result in bad plants!) but it is supposedly a daily routine for two other housemates of mine and myself for probably a few months, or at least until something germinates! Guess what we're growing?
In my closet lies... probably a bunch of clothing I don't need. At times, to discern the differences between a necessity and a desire doesn't come as easy to the mind and to the self. It's easier to say we need something rather than wanting it, so it seems like no matter what the situation is, one way or another we will get what we wish for in the end. It is easier to say we need because it is an excuse for us to own something or to have something our way.
Were we talking about my closet? Because there's not much to it really...
Here's a song I listen to when I seek tranquility. What do you find comfort in?