Monday, August 13, 2007
MANILA, Philippne s- “Kalipay Mu,” a research by Troy Bernardo reveals, “is a pre-colonial ceremony led by tribal shamans called babaylan who were mostly female. Keepers of ancient secrets and wisdom, babaylan brought people to higher states of consciousness. The spirit was awakened, encouraging the Divine energy to move through the body, consequently inducing spiritual ecstasy, healing, and the removal of mental, physical and emotional blockages. The arrival of the Spaniards virtually wiped out the babaylan and their practices and replaced them with the Roman Catholic religion.”|
Healing ritual revived
After centuries of repression, the Filipino ritual has finally resurfaced. Today’s ritual of Kalipay Mu (that I attended) begins when the healer’s thumb pierces the top of the receiver’s head. There’s a light that extends from the tip of one’s fingers (like a laser beam) and shuts off the mind. When one is not being too mental, energy flows through body, expressing itself in visions, energy shifts or movement. The movement (or inner dance) is either simple or elaborate and differs from person to person.
Reported Kalipay Mu effects are “a sensation of intense happiness” and later on “a rapid acceleration of one’s spiritual development.” “It is much like the peeling of masks,” Troy reports. “The glue that fastens them together is released and layer by layer these false faces fall away. Either one hangs on to them, a useless gesture, or simply lets go, which sets us free.”
Whatever one’s belief or non-belief system, the message of Kalipay Mu is that the state of higher consciousness one achieves (whether from this or similar rituals) is a call for action. It is God’s call to service and it resonates deep in the Filipino soul.
“Kalipay Mu can easily be taught to anyone,” says its main exponent Pi (long i, please) Villaraza, whose mission is “to teach it to individuals, who will heal themselves, who will heal their neighbors, who will heal the community, who will heal the nation and the planet.”
Let Pi introduce himself.
“My name is Alberto Juntura Villaraza III. Old friends call me Pompet and new ones call me Pi, the result of dividing the circumference by its diameter, or Pi the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, (or Pi the pastry). I have just turned 31.
“My upbringing was normal upper middle class—La Salle Greenhills, some time with the University of Asia and the Pacific, and YFU (Youth for Understanding) exchange student in High School. My major was Integrated Marketing which initiated me into the world of business such as financing and organizing events. For a while after the 911 bombing I studied and worked in the US. I have held jobs as varied as consultant of a big investment firm, as country manager of the world’s largest travel agency for students and backpackers, and waiter in a Taco Bell outlet.
“The definitive beginning of my spiritual journey was in San Gabriel Valley near Pasadena where I lived next to a mountain that I felt was magical. One day I woke up very early feeling there was someone out there on the road that I had to meet. After I had jogged for a while he was there—standing on my path. A big Mexican fellow.
“He told me he wanted to climb the mountain and would I accompany him? I had always wanted to go up that mountain and somehow I trusted the stranger so I said yes. He told me our meeting was no accident. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to go because it was possible that we may never make it back.
“We used his car. After 20 minutes there was a roadblock and we had to walk. From the trunk he took two jackets and a Bible. It was a very long climb. Once every so often we rested. The Mexican told me things about myself, my childhood and my future—a promise of things to come. (Everything he predicted has since come to pass).
“At one point he opened the Bible to read a passage from Isaiah. ‘Come, let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord and He will teach us his ways and we shall walk in His path.’ Images began to flood my mind. Everything in my life fell into place. I began to understand my path and it was not at all connected to the corporate world I was in. Despite my upbringing I had always been shy and quiet, attracted to the mystical life. My heroes were Jesus Christ, Ghandi and—Superman! The Mexican told me that I was being made to choose, to commit to what the world was asking of me.
“The stranger and I walked for about 11 hours. Without eating or drinking. We were not hungry and we felt very high. We had traveled so far up and there was snow on the ground. It was very cold. At the peak we stayed for an hour, looking down at creation. Isn’t this what you really came for? the Mexican asked, and I agreed. It was getting really cold so we decided to go down.
“As we descended, he began to limp. He had had hip surgery, he said. His limping got progressively worse. Eventually the Mexican collapsed. I couldn’t wake him. I began to be really frightened. But I decided to let it go, whether he dies or I die on top of this mountain. Just then two lights in the sky, brighter than stars, appeared to reassure me that I was not alone.
“After a long time I was able to shake my companion awake. Are you better? I asked. No, I’m worse, he said. He began to crawl. Things in front of me seemed to disintegrate like building blocks of the universe. All that remained was an overwhelming feeling of love. It was my first mystical experience that forever changed my perspective.
“I sent the Mexican the powerful energy I felt and suddenly he stood up and could walk. His car, that we had long searched for suddenly was there. Everything normalized. The stranger dropped me off at my door.
“When am I going to see you again? I asked, and the Mexican said, It doesn’t happen that way. In the past, every time you needed me, I came, and every time I needed you, you were there. But this is the last time. He said I would do a whole lot of walking from then on.
“I did. I walked all over Mindanao. From Siargao (north of Surigao) to Butuan, through Bukidnon, to different parts of Davao. Mostly I walked five kilometers a day, once doing Iligan in 30 hrs. When I was tired I rode a bus. There is something about walking that centers the soul. It’s about cleansing, getting your limbs in order, learning to eat less and less. It was clear that I was walking for a reason. And the Bible always guided me.
“In Davao, a Filipino grandmother spirit that had followed me all over Mindanao, instructed me to tutor children in homes that would accept me. I also did healing—reflexology, taught by a priest in Camiguin who knew taichi and shibashi. On Mt. Apo, I came upon a small community who told me about a Papa Guiverna who, in the 30s walked all over the Philippines. I went to many cults and even nests of rebels, meeting the kindest Muslims in my life.
“On the road one day in Davao someone handed me P100. I didn’t know what to do with it. I went to the market, bought bananas and began giving them away to people. Now, P100 is a lot of bananas in Davao and I had to go back and forth again and again to fetch the fruit and give them all away.
“In Victoria mall, while I was reading a book, two ladies approached. They started putting plates of food on my table—vegetable dishes and rice, even a cold coke. Why? I asked. They just smiled and left. I felt protected, like someone was saying, Stop Worrying. HE KNOWS.
“I also began to connect to another grandma spirit, an American who called herself the Peace Pilgrim. She became famous for walking seven times in 28 years across the US with the message ‘Overcome falsehood with truth, hatred with love.’ She brought no cash and only three changes of clothing. It made an impact on the America of the 70s. (“Forrest Gump” was partly inspired by her story). I thought to myself, Here we are, so proud of being a Catholic nation but how much of Christ’s teachings do we really practice? The Peace Pilgrim walked her talk. She died on July 7 (7/7) on the year that I was born. I strongly felt that I was her continuation.
“Palawan is an open space for dreamers and spiritual artists. I had planned to stay only for three days, but when I stepped off the boat I knew I wasn’t going to leave. I stayed for two years. Much of the time I lived in an island called Kalipay (Happiness) composed of a deserted beach and a lush mountain. I had no money, no food. There were two run-down beach houses abandoned by foreigners who had built them. I preferred sleeping high above, on a makeshift bed of tree branches lashed together.
“I lived on coconuts and bananas. I learned how to climb a coconut tree, forever wet with rain, and coexist with the monkeys, squirrels, snakes, monitor lizards and geckos who lived there. Boars and wild cats were also company. Much later, in a clearing, I grew vegetables according to the Flower of Life pattern that I knew. I ate them raw. It made me realize how life-giving uncooked food was. I felt very light, no cholesterol and no fat in my body. People get sick of malaria the first week they’re in the wilderness but I did not contract it in two years. Someone seemed to be taking care of me.
“Things happen when you empty your body and your mind. Since there is no stressful life to keep up, you need to eat only once a day. You are freed of the weight of trauma and fear. You shed the fear of dying, of having to worry if you are wasting your life by never becoming a doctor or a lawyer, of having to plan every single day. There is nothing to do. You are forced into a conversation with God.
Dark night of the soul
“Each one seeking enlightenment goes through some dark night of the soul, withdrawing to desert, wilderness or mountain. Even Jesus Christ had to undergo it, and began to live his mission only at the ripe age of 30. Superman wasn’t born invincible. He too had a retreat called Fortress of Solitude in the North Pole. Mine was to undergo a Robinson Crusoe-Tarzan-like experience, “Castaway” with a spiritual framework.
“While I was in Kalipay Mountain my fingers danced involuntarily, the movement accelerating as I absorbed the light of the sun and the moon. My fingers snaked around my thumb while my hand traveled to my abdomen, my heart, my throat, around my head. It took a while to realize that my fingers were moving around my higher chakra points. This would happen five to seven times a day. I was being taught a dance.
“After one deep meditation and elevated awareness I was propelled by a force that made me dance wildly, do somersaults, fight. I heard a voice whisper clearly. ‘The Mother and I are now one.’ The energy in my body was being deployed for a higher evolution.
“I did Kalipay Mu healing in many parts of the Philippines, moving from province to province. In the cities especially Manila, it is very noisy, the distractions are endless. Much easier to just stay in Kalipay and be stagnantly happy. Sometimes I ache just to run back to Paradise. But then I ask myself, Why is it that I chose to be born in the Philippines and in the state the world is in today? It’s one thing to remember you’re made of love, another thing to announce it to the world and another to demonstrate it, manifest it. The only real love is when it’s already in action.”
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