Have you heard of Shamanism? Also, have you heard of the religious practice of Christianity? These two beliefs dominate our Hmong society; you’re pretty much one or the other, differentiating yourself as plain as day or night, black or white, or yin or yang. Though contrary to my statement aforementioned, outside the premise of these 2 chief Hmong beliefs are some people I would call the “in-betweeners.” These people are the stubborn “think-they-know-it-all” Hmong wannabe intellectuals that aren’t willing to accept anything unless proof manifests before them. They’re the confused agnostic dwellers who’s not willing to accept any beliefs because the teachings just doesn’t add up, as the teachings seems too much outside the norm compared to the scientific facts. There can also be other Hmongs who believe in the other variations of the monotheistic teachings about this holy one God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but have you ever ask yourself: “Is any of it the truth?”
I’ve been dealt the hand of Shamanism. As one of the progenies of a dictator in a patriarchal family oriented system, papa’s words were to be venerated as to the likes of the tenets comprised in the Holy Christian Bible. Because whatever papa utters out were holy and not to be contested, as you were to simply comply to his every wishes as well as conform to his hierarchy fondness of himself. To add to this infrastructure, papa infuses this absurdity with his fanatical obsession to the old belief of the Shamanistic ways of life, a belief that is still far beyond what I can really comprehend.
Through hearsay, the Hmong Shamanists believes that everything has a living spirit, from a simple sand pebble on the ground to a magnificent redwood tree soaring through the heavens like a skyscraper, each carrying either a good or a bad spirit. To complement this, it is said that all shamanists’ ancestors are like their shepherds in this physical world in helping guide them through life’s conundrums. Their direct ancestors watch over them as to the Christians’ God watching over them.
From a priest, a pastor, or a preacher the shamanists have an equivalent master known simply as a shaman. These shamans have supernatural powers with clairvoyant eyes to help them heal or predict the future. From time to time, these shamans are called upon by the common man to help ward off evil that has embodied a poor soul; to rid the helpless soul from which evil has entered. For the holistic healing process with mind and body, shamans are the protectors and gatekeepers in making contact with the spirit world, and the chief authority in the teachings of the Shamanistic ways of life.
I’ve witnessed the incantations of gibberish in a tongue twisted peculiarity that only occurs when a Hmong shaman is in his trancelike phase while riding on his wooden makeshift bench. In the oddity of hearing such fabricated glossolalia (speaking in tongues) with the cadence of the Shaman’s gong banging loudly in the background, it appears that the hoaxer has done his job precisely like he had intended it to be, to make a nonbeliever believe. Because this belief is the only way that they’ve known it to be, and that this belief has been the way since they were born, as well as since before their direct ancestors were born to the magnitude of believing that this belief was there since the inception of their kind through word of mouth from their father’s father’s father on an infinite level that this belief is deemed as the truth.
Although I was dealt the hand of Shamanism, I was never truly a devout believer and I couldn’t fully convert myself into believing in this religion. I had this strong discord to the teachings of this old traditional belief that my father had taught me, but subtly kept it to myself, so not to become the black sheep of the family. In many aspects I’ve inherited their traits as nomadic wanderers, as I have become sort of like a wanderer myself. To be honest, I’ve fully embraced this nomadic genetic disorder of theirs, in becoming a lost wandering soul to be exact, ever slowly slipping away from my ancestors’ way of life to grab a little Christmas here and a little Easter there to keep sane from insane, but never true to either religion. It’s the clashes of two cultures, a first generation Hmong kid, confused out of his mind, trying to understand the true heritage of his ancestors, yet trying to conform to the American way of life.
Religions of the world are true obscurities much like the vast unexplored universe that lies up above us, and this conundrum can be similarly confusing as much as in asking yourself: “What is the true meaning of life?” Are we mere mortals created to die without a purpose? Why are we here?
To make this long debate about religion short, I “believe”—see “believe” comes into play a lot with religion—people blatantly become one-sided in their blind ambitions to mark their religion as the truth and the only one true religion. Why is that? Is it the real truth and nothing but the truth? Are we too blind to see pass our own religion?
You see, believing in something, knowledge and understanding in something are ambiguous and can be interpreted in many ways from one individual to the next. What is real? Real is also ambiguous! Similar to the movie “The Matrix,” I ask you a similar question: Do you want to take the red pill and explore the unexplained, or did you want to take the blue pill and go back to plead ignorance in being your old self?
Many people become quite ignorant in trying to understand other religions and with haughtiness, finds that other creation-based religions seems too silly to be true, yet the main culprit of all religions talks about thousand years old men, a talking snake, and that the world was created in a matter of days by an omnipotent God with a magical wand doing his hocus pocus irresponsibly by creating earth and its inhabitants, and then when he feels that they aren’t worshipping him like he wants them to he quickly disposes them to create a new—see Noah’s Arch. Imagine to yourself if someone was to create a present day Noah’s Arch, what would you do? What would Jesus do (WWJD)? Would you try to stop it? Would you ignore it? Would you attempt to save yourself, or would you rather die in believing that you were doing as what your god wanted you to do?
I believe that once you’re born into a certain religion you’re conditioned from birth that this enigma is the truth and the only way. You become brainwashed and hardwired into just believing, and you become this illogical patron to your parents’ religion because that’s what it is! Take a step back and visualize yourself with virgin eyes and ears about your religion. Think about it in a logical manner. I believe that all religions are about the teachings of good morals. However you don’t need to belong to a sect, a cult or a religion to become a good person. I believe everyone has a good in them without having faith in their lives. I believe that the churches are a global enterprise out to monopolize the minds of people in enslaving them to a certain belief so that the churches can manipulate people who conform to their beliefs to their likings, as you’ll never see a non-Christian in the oval office. These are the eyes of me and this may be blasphemy, but this is what I “BELIEVE” in. Believe in me and be leave in your religion!
By: Yesu Layman