Afterlife

Where we go after death is perhaps the biggest mystery and question that we will never be able to answer with conviction and certainty.

This week has been exceptionally tough having to juggle between the challenges that comes with parenthood and an aunt losing her battle to cancer. And as the title of this post suggests, I am going to write about the latter.

My aunt has been constantly fighting cancer for the last 9 years and her current prognosis does not look good. It is really the end of her life here on earth. I cannot help but to think about the spiritual side of her situation.

I am convinced that heaven and hell are nothing but state of mind. If a person dies without much regret, he or she will probably crossover to something blissful while if a person dies with a lot of ill feelings like anger and regret, he or she will probably go to a “harsher” place. But I must first point out that knowledge plays a pivotal role in the deciding factor which image our state of mind will be the moment one breath his or her last.

In other words, if a person has always been shown beautiful images that are reinforced with what is heavenly throughout his or her life, most likely that will be the destination after death.

At the same time, I thought about the above quote that has been shared on social medias. It is true because we always emphasize on the degree of death as though there is a scale to be rated against. It is as though someone is conducting a survey with the question “Please rate your death experience (1 least enjoyable to 10 very enjoyable). But if we think about it deeper, it is a question we are in fact asking ourselves – the living experiencing the death of people around us. For us, a person who struggles before his or her last breath died a suffering death (rated 1 on the scale) as compared to a person who died in his or her sleep (rated 10 on the scale).

And coming back to the one dying, I realized the importance of a reasonable and practical religion. If I am in the position of advising someone about choosing a religion, I would recommend them to research and take into consideration how the religion in question handles the topic of death and afterlife. Some religion provide the dying with the last rites. This can be very comforting and help the dying to have a better state of mind towards the end of the journey here on earth.

As I prepared myself to visit my aunt this week, I was thinking about how I can provide her with comfort in hopes that her crossover to after life would be filled with a better outlook. So I started researching about her religion and how it gives hope to its followers.

Not mentioning the name, I was shocked to know that their blueprint is built on the beliefs that there is a cap and limit as to the number of souls allowed in Heaven – 144,000 to be exact! My first question was, “SAYS WHO?!”.

In all honesty, if someone told me that heaven has limited space, I am going next door where they tell me that everyone is welcome in heaven.

Just imagine dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit. Naturally, the rabbit sees the motivation to run. Telling someone that heaven has limited space is akin to dangling an invisible or non-existent carrot in front of the rabbit. It is a hopeless situation because knowing that one is not counted or mattered at his or her deathbed is an excruciating painful experience. A feeling of rejection, dejection, and unloved.

Besides, with such a low number being set, it has long been filled up don’t you think?

I take pity on people who have subscribed to such doctrine but take my hats off to those who came up with such an ingenious idea that has brainwashed thousands of unfortunate people to keep such organizations alive till this day.

It is a great disservice for a religion to shortchange its followers in the currency of hope. The most fundamental and reason for the existence of faith is to comfort and console the soul. If a religion does nothing in line of being one’s soul food, it has no reason to exist.

I cannot help but to feel sad how differently people represented the divine. Humans has successfully created so many versions of Jesus that like at the end of His journey at Calvary, He was disfigured beyond recognition.

The good Samaritan only have one thing in him when he helped the victim of the brigands. That is LOVE.

The God that I believe in has insurmountable, immeasurable, and infinite LOVE that cannot be contained or be limited.

The best way to comfort both the living and the dying is through LOVE.

Tell the dying of the beautiful place that they are going to. That their run in the race here on earth is done. That God is waiting on the other side.

A beautiful place filled with LOVE awaits.

What is there to lose just to LOVE a little more?

What have we to lose when someone we love is dying?

At the very end, there will be NOTHING.

Things We Do For Happiness

I just gave up the 40% raise by quitting and taking a 20% cut by accepting a different role with one of my previous employers.

I totally overlooked that beyond riding on a huge brand name, we individuals are nothing except apart of the statistics.

That does not justify in how I was treated in the first few weeks into the job. Biggest part of the frustration and disappointment lies in the fact that I didn’t expect people in such a huge “reputable” company can behave in such uncivilize manner. Maybe that is exactly the behavior needed to be successful in such companies?

10 out 10 friends that I have shared the scenarios where there was elements of disrespect and bully agreed that I should get out for the sake of my sanity and self confidence.

I can only wish that people start compiling and share real life career horror stories on professional/career social networking sites to help others avoid getting themselves into the wrong jobs. A few good titles include, “red flags to look out for during interviews” and “signs you need to quit your job immediately”. I wish I had all these or at least someone to seek advice from before I made the decision to quit my previous job.

It is too late for me to complain but interestingly, I was given a “welcome” document by my manager on my first day and one particular line caught my attention. When asked, he just answered casually with a grin stating that I will soon find out.

If that didn’t sound the alarms, I don’t know what will.

On my fourth day, someone whom I was suppose to work closely with pop the most unusual question in the most awkward manner without first stating the context.

“Who are you close with?”

Just before I could answer, he follow up the question by saying, “if you have been in the workforce for so long and didn’t have anyone close to you, then you are a failure”.

Like what the flying f***?

This same guy also asked me to clean tables and throw trash at a particular event. He rather walk 10 steps with trash in his hands just to make me throw them than to dump them into the bin next to the table where he was sitting. If it wasn’t deliberate, he will not do it 3 times.

How many of you out there has experience such blatant and unprofessional treatment from a fellow co-worker?

Not for me in the longest time for sure.

That and among other incidences was enough for me to realize that a 40% raise was not worth to put up with such unacceptable behavior. Before we talk about leadership, let’s talk about how we treat others as individuals.

With all that behind me, I am in a much happier place.

The job wasn’t a good fit and there is definitely no senergy with the team. I am opined that as individuals we must ensure that our team mates are successful. We need to provide a conducive and wholesome platform to ensure each and every one is headed in the right direction. Every individual’s success contributes to the success of the team as a whole.

At the end of the day, I have to admit that a life without purpose and bringing about value for others is a life wasted regardless of how much we are paid.

The battle with the competition without is already half lost when we kill ourselves within.

It is already a challenge with the task at hand and it does not help having people around you who not only make things more difficult but are thrilled to see you fail.

This is not an environment made for growth surely.

It is unfortunately that my resume should be tainted by such a blip but not all is lost. Plenty of lessons learned for all that lies ahead of me in life.

Afterall, mistakes are proof that I tried and there has got to be some brownie points for that!

As long as we are happy, who cares?

I Surrender!

I am once again at this juncture in life.

In a short 2 months, I have come back to square one. My new job did not work out.

What I have not practiced religiously in terms of all the rituals in church during Lent, I lived it out spiritually in real life.

It was one of the most challenging Lent I have had in years.

I was frustrated. Frustrated mostly with myself for making the wrong decisions. I could have avoided all these predicaments and precious time wasted being unproductive for months. As my former colleague pointed out that it seemed to be the best option at that point in time, I can only concede and agree.

There is no time to look back in regret but instead I need to push myself moving forward in rebuilding my career.

And as Easter drew near, I felt especially hopeful attending the Good Friday and Easter masses.

The message in Fr. Simon’s homily gave me clarity – “Life is not about ME, I am about LIFE”. It is hard to love in this world without getting pushed back by skepticism. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know [that they were loved]”.

Thus, I have made the decision once again to choose life. All the money in the world cannot give me joy and happiness if purpose and passion is not present.

I figured that being paid well does not compensate for how disrespectful people treat me. The constant sense of insecurity and reminder of being dispensable cannot be justified by all the compensations promised.

I do not ask for much. I only asked to be allowed to work in an environment where those around me wants to play apart in ensuring my success and as do I for them. That is how a team suppose to be because my success contributes to the overall success of the team.

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday interview with Elizabeth Lesser inspired me greatly.

We all do learn about ourselves constantly and during the interview, the famous quote by Hazrat Inayat Khan was mentioned. It made me realized that we are indeed uncovering the veils to reveal that original soul of ours.

Elizabeth’s definition of religion and spirituality was spot on – “Spirituality is the questions and Religion is the attempt to answer them”.

Like everyone else, I am searching for the “best fit” in life. But we’ll never know unless we try. Indeed, mistakes are the proof that we are all trying. It is not promised that everything will work out but if they don’t, I am sure there are valuable lessons in them.

Aren’t we all looking for a brighter tomorrow?

As the break of dawn brings new light, so does hope begins…

May you reign victorious just as Jesus reign victorious over death.

Blessed & Happy Easter!

Just A Break

Binary
Binary

I couldn’t recover from the chain of events that happened between October and mid of November. I tried to pull myself out from the gutted feeling but I seemed to have lost all passion and motivation at work. I was just going through the routine and trying to somehow rekindle with my sense of purpose.

But it truly is apparent that there is a season and time for everything. I realized that at every phase of my life, there is a mission and purpose to be fulfilled. Sometimes it can be difficult for me to recognize that time has arrived for me to move on. There were many “signs” prompting and telling me that my mission is accomplished. And with a leap of faith, I took up the new opportunity and embraced the change. And I must also mention that it was quite poetic to leave the job on my birthday.

It is only human that we are afraid of change and staying safe seemed to be the best thing to do. Between then and now, I have learned quite a few things about human behavior when it comes to change.

I was just doing my rounds in the office to say goodbye to the people I have known throughout the years. Some were happy and envious of my new opportunity while others seemed to be taking it a little too negative for my liking. One in particular stood out among the rest. Having had worked in the company for a very long time, she bid me goodbye and at the same time sarcastically told me to “come back”. She is indirectly hoping for my failure at my new job. For her, my failing would be an affirmation of her assumptions and that it will further prove that she is right for staying comfortably where she is.

The thing is, we will never ever know unless we try. At least I have the courage to give things a try because nothing is for certain in life.

Another thing that I find it hard to understand is the negative light surrounding resignation from a job. Generally, people tend to think that leaving is a bad thing when moving forward is actually a good thing.

With the 7 year old job behind me, I am now taking a short break just to re-calibrate, retreat, and reflect on life. A couple of months back, I read an article about taking mini retirements and thought it was a good idea to take a short break before running hard for the next phase of my career.

While reflecting on what I should do during this transition period, I thought about the number of times I wrote about the benefit of having a domesticated animal as pet during my younger days. I was probably 7 or 8 years old when I convinced myself that money is better spent on buying a life. No guessing where all my pocket monies went – into getting myself new pets and pet food. In fact, I do not remember if there were parts of my life that I did not have a pet especially during times when I was between jobs, having a pet seemed to be the theme.

Animals have a therapeutic way of bring calm and order in my life. They have brought fulfillment and consolation to me in both good and bad times. Besides from the various pets raised throughout my life, I remember clearly how I once raised two “colored” chicks to a point of training them to fly unto my hand on command.

And just before I left my former company, I brought home a baby cockatiel and named “him” Binary. And the story goes…

It is quite interesting how this fascination with parrots started for me this time around. My family and I were having dinner at the mall somewhere middle of January. After dinner, we saw a couple of security guards looking at the top of the restaurant entrance. To our surprise, a blue budgerigar/parakeet was sitting on the ledge. I tried catching it but it flew away as soon as I got closer. We carried on with our evening and paid no mind to it until I saw it sitting on the hand railing. I ended up catching it successfully and brought it home. We later named her Lost and bought a companion for her called Found. I was able to gain their trust and they soon learned how to sit on my fingers while I gave them their favorite treat of millet spray. Long story short, Lost & Found is now living happily in an aviary.

Lost & Found in their new aviary
Lost & Found in their new aviary

I became intrigued by how trainable these little birds are and started researching on cockatiels. I have a friend who used to breed them and I thought it would be great to have some guidance from her as well. After discovering a cockatiel breeder through an online classified ad, I made an appointment for viewing what she had available. I found out that getting a young single bird helps a lot with bonding. I had mixed feelings at first but I did spend a huge amount of time chatting with the breeder. She had a hard time telling me their genders and I was torn between the two baby cockatiels she had available as I wanted to at least have a good chance of getting a male bird. After a while, her husband returned home and as soon as he walked into the house, I realized he was wearing a t-shirt with my future company’s logo on it – talking about a sign! I knew there and then that I will be bringing home a grey pearl baby cockatiel.

Baby Binary
The moment I picked baby Binary

After only 12 days hand-feeding and spending time with Binary, he has grown into a beautiful little cockatiel.

Handsome Binary
Handsome Binary

And just today, Binary learned how to fly unto my hand on command!

I know how extremely random this post is but that’s just me and I cannot help it!

Workplace Spirituality

It has been a while since I last posted. A lot has happened and saying that I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I believe work is always a huge part of our lives and when things change in our workplace, it affects us substantially.

But there is a part in life that not many people understand especially when it is spiritual in nature. It is hard to explain and justify to others when your action is based on beliefs.

Life at work has been comfortable I must say until of course some unfortunate events started to happen and threw everything out of balance. It got to a point where the soul felt uneasy. Certain things challenged the belief system and startled it to the core.

And then the passion slowly drained and ceased to exist.

But it takes some shock to the system for us to wake up and start moving again. Just like a smaller plant dies to pave way to a larger tree, a disruption will almost certainly bring about a change.

In our fears of change, we usually feel stressed out and when doubts creep in, there tend to be a certain level of chaos and disquiet.

This round of change in my life made me realize the level of my faith.

I must mention that God had control throughout and He has prepared everything right in front of me. He made it clear to me that a change is imminent as well as I need to claim what is rightfully mine when the opportunity arised. Some of us have problem recognizing the opportunities only to regret not being bold enough to take the leap of faith when it is too late.

And next comes the people around you. Some will encourage while others will discourage you for many unknown reasons.

People will share with you their pessimistic views based on the little that they actually know. There are also some who will put things in the most politically correct way whether beneficial or otherwise.

For the insecure, they will attempt to be manipulative just so that you will act in accordance to their expectations and in favor of their gain and advantage.

A dear priest once said to me, “we are all half angel and half devil”

And how true that is!

Jesus even put Peter in his place by saying, “Get behind me Satan!”

So it is for us in the corporate world as well that we need to put the devil aside and focus on where the angels are pointing us to.

“Everywhere is the same, no point changing”

No, it will never be the same. That is just an excuse we like to tell ourselves in submission and acceptance to our current predicaments and lack of choices in life.

Besides, people are usually afraid to see you in a better place than they are.

Who are they to tell you where you should be when you are the one given the opportunity?

When God acts, there is no way to stop Him.

Jesus

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” ~ Philippians 2:9

The name written in the bible is not James, John, Francis, William, Arthur, or Theodore but it is Jesus.

We are faced with a broken church – an institution made up of imperfect humans. Imperfection is not even a worthy justification for all the pain it has caused to the many victims.

Does it affect me?

Of course it does and at so many levels. I do not want to have anything to do with it was what first came to mind. I do not want to participate in an institution that has condone such heinous crime by doing nothing about it.

Any religious establishment regardless that failed to bring about betterment in the spiritual lives of its practitioners can be deemed to have lost its most fundamental purpose of existence.

On a personal level, it really isn’t about the person or the institution. Our focus should be in the divine. These persons and institutions are only in existence to assist us in making the divine a little more tangible, relatable, and comprehensible.

We can leave and abandon the false prophets but should not lose sight the divine – God.

As a believer, I have had my own special experiences in the spiritual realm. One that cannot be defined, articulated, or explained easily.

In God I found a sense of peace and goodness that allowed me to be grounded and centered. Knowing that there is a God gives me hope when all is lost.

When the human fails, we must be quick to discern and separate what is human and divine.

In order to render justice to the victims, all perpetrators must be brought to face the music for their actions eventhough forgiveness is the core of what the church preaches.

I pray that Jesus, the prince of peace will always be there to comfort all those affected by this avalanche of despicable and appalling crimes within a once trusted institution.

Some are saying “Do Not Leave Jesus Because Of Judas” but to that, I’d say “Leave The Jesus Imposter Who Acts Like Judas”.

We have a choice to choose which human we place our trust in but there is only one God we believe in!

Jesus…

When God Speaks

In what seemed to be an outburst of my disappointed soul, I ranted out loud on Saturday and explained to my wife how I was feeling regarding my faith. The following was what I told her.

I finally am able to articulate how my faith is at the moment. Let’s use a phone app as an anology. Going to church every Sunday is like receiving a weekly software update. Just like facebook updates with some new features and bug fixes, it nourishes the soul spiritually speaking.

I used to receive very good weekly updates and patches. Now, my brain no longer get good updates and it crashes.

And because I am human, I can choose not to depend on these updates anymore because why should there be a need for something that causes you to crash?

Besides, no one owes me anything and I owe no one anything when it comes to the spiritual realm. Nothing to expect and to be expected, really…

Perhaps, I need to seek for a better server somewhere else or find another app?

I do understand that no app is perfect but at least, I need an app that works…

I also sense that someone is praying hard for me to choose either.

And to that effect, I started thinking about the broader picture and because I was also in the midst of working on a solution for my work assignment, my thoughts were leaning towards how the computer world is.

The Operating System That Is Us.

Are you a Windows or a Linux?
We are all operating systems seeking to achieve interoperability in this world. We need to talk to each other and work together.

Unfortunate, we are all “flashed” differently through the many experiences, indoctrination, and introduction to different interpretation of religious beliefs.

Once a certain operating system has been imprinted, it is difficult to be reprogrammed. The damage has been done. We carry with us the flaws.

The other challenge is how we program the Operating Systems of our future generation today to operate better now and in the future.

So please forgive me for the way my operating system works as I too seek to understand how yours work in order for us to interoperate in this huge web of connected operating systems call the NETWORK…

After having all these thoughts, I finally decided to put the topic to rest and thought nothing of it for the rest of the Saturday. I was having all these thoughts because of how frustrated I was not being able to draw inspiration from the church I was attending and it was getting really mundane and meaningless.

Come Sunday morning, something just prompted me to get ready for church and the idea of visiting church further away came to mind.

As I started driving, a prompt came on my phone for an OS update. I thought nothing of it and proceeded to agree with installing the update. I allowed my phone to be updated while I drove myself to church.

“Why did you come to church this morning?”

I didn’t realize until mid way through mass that I thought about how my faith needed an “application update” and how we are all flawed operating systems. Turned out, God did not just wanted to update an app which can be piecemeal, He wanted to update my Operating System like my phone this morning.

The message cannot be any louder and it cannot be a coincidence. It is deafening throughout the mass.

The priest made the mass so beautiful and amazing as he took time explaining every part of the mass. I learned something new and I only wished my daughters and wife were here.

He started off his homily asking “Why did you come to church this morning? Is it obligation, guilt, or just to seek God?”

It was like God knocking on my heart.

Glad to receive this OS update.

For the few who knew about my struggle in the faith, I don’t know what you all did but I know for sure it was your prayers. I know you are all praying very hard for me and for that, thank you.

It was the best mass I’ve attended in my entire life so far.

In conclusion, I felt blessed to be able to recognize when the divine is reaching out to me by observing mindfulness. Also, when God speaks, He say it loud and clear. Literally…