To celebrate the release of her book 18 Thoughts, the conclusion of the My So-Called Afterlife Trilogy, Jamie Ayres is hosting a bloghop where participants share up to 18 beliefs or thoughts by which they’ve lived their lives. You can get more details by clicking on the above button, which links to the explanatory post.
1. “All events are linked together in this best of all possible worlds.” Doctor Pangloss says this over and over again in Voltaire’s classic Candide, and it’s so true. So many little things have to happen in exactly the right way, at the right time, and come together in just the right way, in order for something to happen. It could be a momentous event, like meeting your soulmate or saving a life, or it could just be a little thing, like finding a lost wallet. Everything is beautifully interconnected.
2. “Ein od milvado.” Related to #1, this is a Hebrew phrase meaning “There is no one besides him [Hashem].” Only Hashem can help us, and is in control of the entire Universe. Sure, we should definitely be proactive in our own destiny, and not just passively sit around waiting for Hashem to do everything for us, but this phrase acknowledges Hashem is ultimately the one in charge. Everything is part of a Divine plan beyond our understanding.
3. Many paths to the same Divine. At the height of The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna reveals his true identity as Lord Vishnu to his best friend Arjuna. The vision is so overwhelming, Arjuna begs him to change back into the familiar form. Krishna explains he has many names and faces, but none of them are wrong, so long as the person has a pure, true, sincere, devout heart and soul. And since the Divine has so many names and faces, there are many paths to him/her.
4. “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” (Hermann Hesse) Also related to #1 and #2. We have the power to transform the past and the pain into something constructive in the present.
5. The Tao Te Ching. There are way too many lines burnt into my heart and soul to mention them all here! My translation is the classic Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English version from the Seventies, taken with permission from my parents’ shelves when I was sixteen. Lao-Tzu really spoke to the human condition, universal spiritual truths, and the dualities of life. He’s in the Top 5 of people I most want to have a dinner party with in the next life.
6. “Parvardigar,” Meher Baba’s Universal Prayer. As important as it is to have special prayers within your own faith tradition, there’s something just as special about having a universal prayer, with many names for the Divine, and expressing love, wonder, awe, reverence, and respect for such an awesome Divine.
I was spiritual long before I was religious, and that informs much of my personal approach to faith. I feel more comfortable adapting noncontradictory things from other faiths, and finding wisdom and universal truths in other faiths, than probably the majority of my Orthodox and Conservadox friends.
7. Nothing in this life is a mistake, worthless, or a waste if it gets us to where we are now, we learn from it, and we don’t do that again. I often feel like I wasted almost five years with that walking DSM who couldn’t even tell his mommy and daddy about our alleged “engagement” (for which I had to buy my own damn ring), and even wish I hadn’t wasted my antique virginity on someone I didn’t even marry after all that, someone who didn’t even freaking kiss me till two years and seven months into our dysfunctional relationship. But I learnt a lot of important lessons from that, not just how to write sex scenes from personal experience, but also what types of relationships and men to avoid in future.
8. The answer to a prayer isn’t always what we want or expect, just as sometimes the answer is “no” or “not yet.” At my age, and given how men have overwhelmingly only seen me as their buddy, one of the guys, I have serious doubts I’ll ever marry or even have another relationship, but only Hashem can be the final judge of that. I won’t mind having to be a single mom by choice, but I’d also love to snag a beautiful younger man with an actual libido and a healthy mind.
9. Most of all, I believe Samuel will exist in reality someday, not just in recurring dreams. The first part of my Hebrew name, Chana, is in homage to the Prophet Samuel’s mother, even if it also happens to be the Hebrew form of my real forename. I’ve also always wanted to name my firstborn son Samuel, after her own firstborn son. I went through certain spiritual hardships and sacrifices in the past for his future sake, so he wouldn’t have to go through those things.