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For a quickie with a nun, get into the habit

DESTINY—that which we know as tadhana, it stems from habit. Just a matter of habit, maybe rigorous discipline…

Tadhana is a prettified ukay-ukay version of the Sanskrit term, sadhana—it’s a daily regimen of Buddhist monks that entails a combination of mind-stretching, back-wracking work with some earnest prayers and contemplation of sacred texts thrown in. Such boils down to a difficult-to-ditch habit acquired over a lengthy period of time.

Sadhana seeks inner unity with the divine-- or to cause godly traits and qualities to inhabit the man who’s into sadhana, or those blokes called siddhi. (Hey, sidhi is all-out intensity in Tagalog—say, masidhing kalibugan-- and the Star Wars pop mythos called ‘em Darth Maul and Darth Vader as Sith… Shit!)

There’s that “habit” word again in “in-habit”—sticks out like a sore thumb. Are you still with me?

“With our thoughts we shape our habitat,” goes a Buddhist adage. This is going too far--there’s “habit” again in “habitat.” Habitat can be anyone’s sphere of activity—say political or economic. Add socio-cultural. Include fractal reality. Call ‘em dwellers in there as inhabitants. Uh-oh, there’s “habit” in “inhabitants”.

We can’t chuck off habit that easily, see? Destiny is tadhana, more appropriately sadhana. And sadhana is actually a tough regimen that entails mind- stretching, back-wracking work with earnest prayers and contemplation of sacred texts thrown in.

Ah, fate, kismet, kapalaran, karma, joss… is a matter of habit… Can you still read me?

So we read. And also tread.

In reading, we can be sucked into tracks, roadways, byways or highways mapped out in writing by the writer’s heart or mind. We trudge along. We allow turns of phrase and stretches of prose to set the pace, to show lavish or scant sights, maybe insights and wonders, terrors and horrors.

A brimming heart or light-filled mind can spill its hoard. Maybe work out spells— of logic or magic. Offer scents that tickle hungers and cravings— say, the sweetish smell of freshly cut grass as it bakes in the sun, the electric aroma that rises from parched earth after a sudden downpour. Trot out things that beg to be touched—say, the firm softness of a maiden’s belly, or a damp wash of moss on river-rinsed rocks, the soggy grit of a tree’s bark after a rain, the slippery feel of soap suds on cheesecloth diapers being laundered or the downy mound of a woman’s nether lips…

Yes, yes, engage the sucked-in senses. The writing can share spoils sumptuous and ambrosial or lean yet nourishing.

Writing is focused thinking. It can be an all-out engagement of the senses. It can be an act of self-incrimination and betrayal. A howl of emptiness can be revealed, an impoverished imagination, a squalid poverty of heart or mind can be laid bare in one’s writing.

So we read. And tread retracing the writer’s tracks as it ribbons out in phrase and prose—maybe, even poetry and imagery.

We pass through passages. It can be an ordeal going through a gauntlet of bled-out barren thoughts—hastily written arguments, post-it notes on a bulletin board or an e-mail group often splay out stretches of joyless aridity.

So I can see with the writer’s eyes—wherever those eyes grazed like goats chewing through grass blades of detail. With those borrowed eyes, I am forced to drink from a stagnant ditch or lap at a flood-rush of springs that send delicious cool shivers on my tongue.

So I also sneak where those eyes peek into. Remember that Perseus quest? The would-be slayer of snake-headed Medusa snatched the eye shared by three blind blokes as they quarreled over whose turn it was to see. Without wrenching his eyes off their sockets, a writer passes on to readers such seeing tool-- his own sight and vision. For whatever such a sight beheld, that’s for a reader to hold.

Sa bawat bakas ng kataga na may paanyaya, ipapahiram ng manunulat ang kanyang pananaw sa babasa.

Sana, sana pahiramin po ninyo ako ng matalas, matalim, malalim na paningin.


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