I am reading “Beyond Belief” by Susan Tive and Cami Ostman. They collected stories of women in different religion. I guess the main point of the book is to understand why those were willing to practice religion which appears to be “extreme” to outsider. Somehow I feel like the book is speaking to me, loud and clear. An inner voice just bubbles up whenever I try to analyze the subtlety in each story in the book. I want change, I want to find my own spiritual practice.
I am not religious. Or to say, I am not in any known religion, but rather involve in what I may call “an ancient vietnamese tradition”. In Vietnam, we have a small number of people, which are actually expanding now, practicing this “tradition”. Maybe I should call it “religion”. It is female – dominant polytheism, with supreme deities are Tri Great Mothers. Then following are hierarchical levels with different deities. We have rituals to celebrates each of the deities every month. It is super complicated to explain. But we, I mean people who are practicing this tradition, believe in the power of the deities to give us things and to punish us for what we have done wrong. The reason that I was cautious in calling it religion because we have philosophy. Like it is not like we believe that our Gods created the world or we have to follow a strict behavioural guideline. We worship people who are believed to have sacrificed for the country, and to obtain the holiness. It is superstitious because we are looking at signs that we assume to be instruction from the Mothers, and we believe that if we perform the rituals frequently, the Mothers will be happy and will grant our wishes.
My family is a well-known family in this society, and I was supposed to practice it. I do believe in it, sometimes. I mean, now, when I am working on my happiness project, I am determined on finding a spiritual path that may lead to my ultimate goal. I am practicing Buddhism meditation and following the virtues guideline of Buddha. I am relieved and happy. I truly want to deeply follow these practice. It is not that I am going to be a Buddhist. It is that when I read Buddhism idea and philosophy, I have a strong feeling that it is the one, it will make me happy. I want to walk out of my family tradition. But I know it will be a serious problem for our family. I just do not want to perform any rituals, but we are expected to do it, otherwise it may be considered as “sin” for not ever performing the ritual. I am a highly educated, well-trained scientist. And the moment I get involved in a superstitious rituals, I feel like someone is squeezing my heart and draining out my brain. I feel nothing but exhaustion and lost. In my heart, I know this tradition is not for me, because I saw my sister, my aunts has done the rituals and they were happy, they were glowing and enjoyed. I was not ever. I felt miserable, and trapped. I am trying to walk away slowly.. Then, it means I have to avoid seeing my relatives, and it bothers me as well because I hate hiding from anything. I sincerely want to talk to my uncle, who is alway the master for me. But I know it is some kind of a forbidden topic. I am just trying to prolong this state, when people forget that I haven’t done the rituals for so long. And then, I will try to stay out, and keep finding my own spiritual practice that makes me happy. I am seriously not interested in being in any religion. All I need is some practice with therapy aspect to calm my mind and to be relieved.