I started the Bahala Na meditations in 2003. I am a ka-lakaran or fellow journeyer on the road of Life. It began because I was a Filipino seeking the elusive Filipino Identity, a search triggered by my teachers and fellow students at U.P. Diliman in the 1980s.
Where I grew up in the Philippines, the Visayans tend to say “Bahala Na.” Other regions of the Philippines, the people tend to say “Bathala Na.” So this exploration includes both or the way that YOU tend to say it.
Too many Filipinos, saying Bathala Na or Bahala Na may mean that they release responsibility. It can also mean to many Filipinos, a way of leaving things to God.
I began paying attention to deeper meanings of Bathala Na or Bahala Na by doing three types of subjective exercises:
- Finding renewed meaning in saying Bahala Na or Bathala Na
- Saying Bahala Na or Bathala Na as a prayer/meditation entry point or as a spiritual chant.
- Contemplation over the symbols that form the words Bahala Na orBathala.
The coming posts in the Bahala Meditations blog will share these three things in addition to finding various quotes and spiritual teachings around the world that compliment and imbue more significance to Bahala Na or Bathala Na. I welcome all visitors to share their own findings and musings.
Spirituality is a timeless and Universal experience of being human. And when the Spanish came to colonize the islands (that we now call the Philippines) to see about gathering gold and other resources for their King and Queen, they also came to convert the natives to Christianity. There they found a people already open to spiritual experience.
At first Filipino Spirituality was a phrase I was not familiar to me. But it got me quite curious and then excited. I began to read about it, then discuss it openly with soon-to-be close friends, and as I immersed myself in spiritual readings from around the world— the “Great Religions” and other indigenous spiritual traditions, I began to see connections with Philippine based-beliefs. This includes Pakikipagkapwa, Pagbabalikloob and saying Bahala Na/Bathala Na.
There is a deeper meaning to Bathala/Bahala and how they are written with the Philippine ancient writing symbols of baybayin. We Filipinos need to reconnect with ways our ancestors thought or katutubong kaalaman.
The best way to start that is to loosen our mind’s tight hold on Western analytical thinking and to investigate and reconnect with indigenous thinking. (Holistic Approach: Returning to Ancestral Thinking, Baybayin Alive).
Western thinking can be said to be mostly left-brain thinking(masculine). Indigenous thinking can be said to be mostly right-brain thinking(feminine). And it is possible to balance both sides within ourselves (read more at this post Baybayin Alive). It just takes an openness and willingness to exercise that ability.
“The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous.”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1832
To embark on this journey of balancing our Westernized mind and our indigenous Filipino mind is to awaken, grow, expand, decolonize—heal from the crippling effects of patriarchal programming and the systemic wounding of historical colonization upon Filipino peoples’ minds.
By coming to rediscover the meanings and concepts of Bathala Na and Bahala Na, Filipinos who are cut-off and unaware of their spiritual roots can come to discover and know that the ways of the ancients of the Philippine Islands, karunugan ng ating mga ninuno or wisdom of our ancestors, have always carried Universal Wisdom. We can gain many spiritual benefits when we have the consciousness and the awareness that the Nameless-Many-Named-I-Am, that is, The Divine, is beyond human material illusions, gender and innate limitations.
If you have the ability to think metaphorically, subjective or like an indigenous person, you can better come to understand the hidden meanings of the baybayin. You can readily develop the ability if you are open. This can be a small awakening, steps towards pagbabalikloob and decolonization. Bahala Meditations can be a tool for you on this journey.
How did the Bahala Meditations come about? When I began studying yoga, meditation, and chanting, I began to wonder what it would be like to exchange the sounds of Lam, Bam, Ham, etc. to BA-HA-LA and then NA.
Also, my friendship with Mary Ann Ubaldo and Bing Veloso, baybayin artists and enthusiasts, connected me to their own subjective, alternative and artistic interpretations that were triggered by a growing baybayin movement in the Philippines. By the time I had been introduced to the deeper meanings of Bahala/Bathala baybayin symbols, I had already spent years reading on religions and spirituality of ancient and modern times, and many times could see the overlapping of Filipino innate beliefs (aka katutubong kaalaman or kaalaman galing sa loob-looban ng tao) with Universal Wisdom found in other traditions around the world and through the ages. So at one point I began to meditate on the meaning of “Bahala Na.”
I shared this experiment with friends and some of them shared their results.
The booklet was first available at the First International Babaylan Conference in April 2010. A new updated version is in process.
You can try these modern day interpretations and subjective exercises to find out if they fit in with your personal search for finding faith in Something Greater and for deepening your spiritual journey. For those of you Filipinos who are seeking a closeness to God and at the same time, a Filipino spiritual practice in your soul’s journey, you will find that using the words of Bahala or Bahala Na in Filipino might help you settle into prayer and meditation and, if it works for you, deepen your spiritual practice.
The contemplations are for any person who is willing to sit in quiet, whether or not you have practiced meditation and/or chanting before. I encourage those who are new to meditation and chanting to learn more on their own and then when they feel comfortable with the meditative state or with chanting mantras then to go ahead and try these exercises. For those who are already familiar with meditation and chanting, I encourage you to go ahead and try the meditation and chanting exercises whenever you feel you are ready.
Practicing this in your own way will help you when you make intentions of awareness in the now, forgivness and compassion, letting go and releasing, and even for healing sessions. The effects of any meditation, prayer and spiritual chanting can be profound and moving. For a Filipino one on Bathala… it is truly a gift for the Filipino on a lakaraan para sa pagbabalik loob (return journey to one’s Self).
If you want to learn the basics of meditations and chanting please find books or other online resources to enrich your knowledge and experience.
This work is simply a set of exercises that you can read about and consider if it means anything to your own lakaran (journey). Any techniques written, taught or published about Bahala Meditations outside of these pages or the PDF document found specifically at this site may likely be re-interpretations of third party persons.
If you would like to learn more about baybayin symbols please visit the blog Baybayin Alive and there you can find further explorations on the subjective, deeper meanings of baybayin and various baybayin links online.
The author does not make a profit from others who hold workshops or public appearances talking about or teaching Bahala Na Meditations.
May you receive this in openness and your life be enriched by it.
Mabuhay — LifeLightLove