It is OK. Everything is OK.

Dear D,

I guess I have changed a bit by a bit, like rain drops fall on a stubborn rock. I no longer feel guilty or I should have or should do something.

I did cuz I could, and I am doing cuz I need it for some reason I may not know for now. It is like eating meat, it is not what I want to do, nor the way do I want to live my life, but instead of criticizing my behavior, I want to understand and instead of focusing on what I should be doing otherwise, I first want to talk to my needs that made me do so.

I do not want to feel I am a sinner of any sort.

I guess people had to create a religion that’s been developed around the concept of sin, because this is exactly how we, as a human race have felt about ourselves, thus came the repent, forgiveness or punishment.

No, I do not believe in punishment. Instead, I believe in innocence.

I now really feel humble. The never-failing recipe for misery is to think or believe that you are better than others, because nobody is truly better than anybody. When I stumble in this game that’s created to feed the ego because sometimes we really feel helpless and fearful, we are
drifted away from the source, and thus go we wonder.

That’s what I saw in Islam. The minute you say your religion is the BEST, there you took a recipe to the misery. I remember my father quoting what Dalai Lama said in his autobiography, “If we have 6 billion people in the world, we need 6 billion different religions. And I couldn’t agree more.’

p.s With the unexpeced internet cut, I am uploadngthe article I fished last night.

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She said ‘We know everything!’

1. Do you really know everything?

I like to talk with young people, because they are more fluid, they are less imposing, and they do not want all the world to think the same. Maybe because they do not carry too much pain or bitterness, maybe because they are still fragile, maybe because they haven’t had enough time yet to build a strong wall around them, or they haven’t simply chosen that path yet.

Some of Muslim nuns in black hijab I have met are a bit different, they are happy to see me but always ask me a question that makes me instantly uncomfortable, ‘What do you like about Islam?’

I was asked in another meeting to explain a bit about Buddhism although I said that I am noe one. After I talked about the religions as much as I knew, this is the response I got from a devoted Muslim woman in the room, ‘You see, Buddhism only talks about spiritual life, but Islam also teaches about secular life.’ I felt discouraged to argue, so I kept silent. Although I mostly liked everyone I have met, I have to admit that sometimes I feel confused if they are genuinly happy to have me, or they are happy because I am one more person they need to convert to confirm the ticket to heaven.

I am now in Tuesday girls’ Qu’ran gathering. I feel fortunate to be in so many bright and young girls’ presence, and all I want to do is to talk with them, and learn from them. Any conversation that gives me a painful moment of having to accept I was wrong, to me, always has been the most ecstatic moment of my life.

This meeting invites one nun every week and they listen to her, just before she started to give a speech, she called me to sit beside her. And then she asked ‘What do you find positive about Islam?’ I answered, ‘I don’t know enough about Islam to think positively or negatively about it. I want to learn more.’ She seemed a bit disappointed. ‘How much do you know about Islam?’ Feeling pressured, I said ‘I’ve just read several books, and I am having questions.’ ‘What are those questions?’ ‘Well, I guess I would rather wait and have them answer by themselves than asking them for now.’ ‘Tell me one question. I can make a speech around your question for tonight.’ ‘Well, it is OK.’ ‘Tell me one question.’ ‘Well, if you insist, I just want to know what was one thing that has made each individual here decide to become Muslim.’

What I meant was I would like an opportunity to go deep inside of these young and beautiful girls’ personal experiences with the religion. Instead, this was the quick answer I got from her.

‘Because this is the most logical and advanced religion there is. Whatever questions you may have, we always have an answer. It is the last message coming from the God, and He explained everything in both spiritual and secular life. We know everything. We know about the past, the present and the future. That’s why we are happy and satisfied with being Muslim. We are not perfect Muslims, even some of the girls who gather here are not a model of perfect Muslim, but Islam is perfect, humans are imperfect, but the God is perfect. We are full of sins, but God forgives us. Whatever we do wrong, when you repent, the God always forgives you. You may think some things about Islam may be negative, like wearing a veil, or that your husband could marry another women. But it is not negative. What if you are weak, you are nervous, and you can’t have babies, then which is better, your husband leaving you, or going to find another wife? Do you understand?’

I said ‘Yes’ and I kept silent. Not that I wanted to get out of the conversation and take the approach to respect without understanding, which I find could be as violent as not respecting at all, but I really had nothing to add to her comments.

You know, I came from a Buddhists’ family where the whole religion’d developed around the notion of ‘Don’t know’. It was such a drastic contrast to meet with the religion that clamins to know everything.

I needed time to digest.

‘ 2. Respect without understanding, or understanding without respect.

Traveling among different countires and across continents, the worlds we live in, I think, either of these. One where people do not understand but respect, and the other where people somehow better relate but not necessarily respect.

Both make you lonely.

Some people go for understanding, while others for respect.

I have wanted to find a society that’s been built around respect through understanding, and I realized after hopping around tens of countries across the continents for years now, that there is no place like that. The only way is to create one.

And I also felt, whenever I feel misunderstood or disrespected, instead of complaining or crying out loud for fairness, I should go within, and examine myself. How much of respect with understanding I have given to the world?

Like today, when I meet someone like the nun that I met tonight, I would be tempted to decide to respect those but without understanding, thinking they were somehow wrong.

The world is fair, and has always been, working with the principle of ‘Cause and Effect.’

Again, I am not a buddhist, but tonight I suddenly remembered the saying of an ancient Buddist monk.

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Dear D,

Dear D,

It has been almost a week since we last talked, since I asked you to stop emailing me. Stop emailing may not mean much to others, but to us, it means the end of our relationshop, as, funny enough, it has been our main communication tool for the 7 and a haf year relationship.

Doesn’t it fell really funny this relationship that gave us much laughs and cries, could be this easily dropped just by simply stopping emailing to each other?

Last night, during shower, I recounted our years. Our first brief meeting in Korea in 2002, after a fnatic craze of the WorldCup in Seoul, and then we met again in Mauritius a year later where it all started, in the magical summer of 2003.

It only has been a week but you and I know that this week weighs a lot heavier, and I want to tell you that this is the first time that I really *feel*, not decide, because we have done that more than a million times, but really *feel* that our relationship is finally over.

I feel happy rather than sad. I also know that you will be taking this time with much gratitudes just like I am, and while feeling a pain of seperation, you will also feel a great sense of relief, as this is an invitiation for both of us to finally live our life free from the past.

For a long time, we have been putting our relationship in an emergency room and delievered occasional eletric shocks to keep it afloat, but we both knew that this time would come. We started to talk about our break-up with a soft landing, but we had no idea to do that, so we have just lingered around. I learned that there is no *how* to do anything, but you need to wait patiently until you *feel* like doing it, and anyway you do it, it would be the best way. Don’t you agree?

It was not planned. When you called me, I didn’t even know what we would be talking about. We have been talking almost every day on the net, and it seemed like any other those days, then came my words without me realizing them. You said you respect how I feel, and you want what I want. That was it, there were no tears, nothing at all. It ended just like that.

Now I am crying, D. I am crying. It was just too beautiful, but I didn’t know then. Without you, I wouldn’t have survived my twenties. Without you, I would have died long ago. You were the only energy source for a long time, I couldn’t have made it till the end of the tunnel, where I perhaps am, without your love. I would have starved to death without your daily dose of loving energy. Thank you, D for making me live.

I was going to write something different, but I can’t just do that now.

D, thank you so much. You are my sunshine, the primary energy source of my being, I feel my twenties were beautiful cuz it was spent with you. I wouldn’t have wanted any other way.

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The second post of the year.

I feel my time in Egypt is now up, and I need to move.

While traveling I have developed a weird sense of knowing when to leave. When I first came to Egypt, I thougt I would stay here until April or May. But after an unfortuate event with Chorong, I just wanted to leave asap but even back then, it didn’ seem to be likely happen.

Now I feel I need to go, probably first to Israel, and then to Paris.

I came across Youtube channels of Khan Academy this morning, and I knew what I needed to do.

I can’t wait to have my parents in Europe next spring, it will be just too beautiful.

I am happy and it is now over here.

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The first day of 2011.

Posting an artcle a day doesn’t necessarily mean that I should only publish a very meaningful and readable article, it means I believe I simply need to post an article a day.

I woke up at about 9:00 a.m. I went to bed almost at midnight after having a nice warm shower last night. I wraped up my 2010 by writing a letter to my parents, to express how grateful I am to their love and service, and how proud I am of my choice of choosing them my parents, the theory that I came to believe while I was travelling in India about 3 years ago.

I had my breakfast of a fish stew and a bowl of steamed rice. I somehow felt alright. I went out to buy some groceries, and I also had a small walk around the neighborhood. But except that, I stayed at home most of the time.

I read articles on CNN. I downloaded some documents on how to prepare for GRE exams, and I have watched several videos in TED.com. I also visited a techie community site in Korea.

And I realized that it is never that ‘I’ make my resolutions either for the New Year or my life. I just need to be patient and learn to be an observer until resolutions are revealed to me.

I feel that I have received already several resolutions I didn’t know I need to persue until the last day of 2010.

I am happy and blessed.

I need to quiet my mind and listen more, to listen with my heart, like the advice given to Pocahontas by Grandmother Willow.

‘Listen with you heart, you will understand.’

p.s It’s beautiful that I saw this video on the very first day of 2011. Thank you, Mother Universe!

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

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My Travel Pics

On the last day of the year 2010, I am revisiting the photos I have taken for the last one and a half year while traveling in Africa, Asia, Europe and now Egypt.

I turned 30 during my trip. What a 30th birthday I had all alone. But I didn’t want to complain as it was exactly how I wanted it to happen.

Looking at the photos, I feel somehow sad to notice such vivid changes in my appearance.  I don’t want to say this, but I look *old* now.

I was guessing, after my trip to Indi, I haven’t taken a good care of my health. My diet has been upside down, that was when I broke my 5-year-old vegetarianism and started to bite fried Chicken legs. And I almost gave up a daily exercise.

I thought my one and only resolution for the year 2011 was to post an article a day, but I just have to add one more, to revie my diet and exercise pattern of 2009 and apply them in 2011.

I remember I used to drink  fruit/vegetable juice for breakfast. I would spend at least 2~3 hours for cardio and muscle-building with dumbbells. Also, I would be on a strict vegetarian diet even without eggs or dairy products. And I would have a very light dinner or none at all, but never forgot to drink a large cup of hot ginger lemon tea before I went to bed. One more thing, I would read lots of mind/body books and find pleaure in applying them one by one in my life. Those were mostly written by Dr. Deepak Chopra.

My resolution in physical plain  for 2011 is to reinvite my way of life of 2009.

I want to wisely love my body all over again.

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I am posting everyday in 2011!

This is my one and only New Year’s resolution for 2011.

I am posting everyday!

It has been already one and a half year since I quite my job in Korea and set out on a journey that first led to Mauritius, then to India, Thailand, to the Netherlands, Belgium and now I am staying in Egypt.

While most of Korean dads, seeing a 30 year old daughter doing what I am doing,  would ask to stop and come back and marry, my dad instead asked me to do just one thing.

Every time he sent me an email, he gave me a gentle push.

‘Write, sweetheart. Write about your experience. Don’t be under any pressure nor relax too much, but observe and write. Record your experience.’

I am not a native English speaker, nor have I ever been educated or lived in English-speaking countries before. So writing something in clean and fancy English is already a challenge to me, but this is something that I want to give 100% of myself to for the next year.

I will write at least one post a day in ‘2011’ in ‘English’.

Please encourage me and kindly enjoy my writings to come.

Kim Ziyoung

p.s I am also thinking of  writing about what I am learning here in Egypt, the country I have decided to come on a whim but already have stayed for two months and another two months to go. Born in a Buddhists’ family, it is my first contact with the much-misunderstood religion ‘Islam.’ I have already been introduced to several Qu’ran schools and met people. While I am here, I would like to meet with more Muslims from a variety of backgrounds, and talk with them and record our conversations. Would you too, give me a gentle push to go like my loving dad always has?

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