I don’t believe in any specific religion. I don’t even want to call it spirituality – you know, in the commercialised sense with all the kind of hippy paraphernalia? But more in terms of the Buddhist practice of spirituality. Not in terms of dogmatic belief but in terms of scripture.
I side more with the Hindu tradition. I’ve experienced Vipassana meditation. It’s about looking inwards. I also share the understanding of the universe offered in Bhagavad Gita. It somehow makes sense to me that the world is separated into levels. So there’s the level of ignorance, of desire and of goodness.
I don’t want to say that you can see what level people are at because that implies hierarchy, but I like the idea that you grow. So in childhood, you’re always wanting – wanting sweets for example. But then you grow and realise, “no, that’s not good for me.” And slowly you progress to the point that you don’t need to be effected by everything that happens around you. Life is a transient experience. Nothing stays. That’s what I see as the enlightened state.
Now that’s within a single human life. But I also believe in reincarnation of the soul. So as well as development within a single life, there’s development across lives.
And I believe that whatever has a beginning has an ending. Including the universe. Buddhists believe that before the beginning is emptiness. And that’s what I see as enlightenment.
Living with this kind of thinking allows me to be a little more detached, which helps me to be a little more observant. In Vipassana, you are the observer. You realise the transience of things and try to avoid becoming too attached to anything – including happiness and pain.
And you actually have to physically practice to experience that sense of transience. So you sit down for a number of hours to the point that you’re in so much pain that you think, “I’m not going to be able to walk”, and then suddenly, the pain’s gone. So it’s more to do with our perception than reality.
Now in everyday life, obviously I struggle. I’m quite emotional and temperamental. I don’t get as angry as I used to. But I still struggle.
I guess I always had a relationship with something like God. I was raised Christian and when I was around 10 I decided I wanted to read the truth myself and not rely on the Ancient Greek they spoke in church, which I couldn’t understand.
From reading those scriptures I made a schism in my head between organised religion and the actual faith or teachings.
Then when I moved to Holland, during the first few months I was alone. And I started researching more into Asian philosophies. Then I had a boyfriend who was also very much into esoteric philosophy. So our discussions revolved around spirituality. So I started learning more. Listening more.
One of the people I find most inspiring is a friend of my father’s back home in Cyprus. He’s a carpenter. But he’s like an artist. He’s so dedicated. And his house and yard are just full of things he collects and can reshape into something new. And destroy and recreate. And he comes from a society where you had to get married and have kids. But he didn’t. What he does is he reads a lot. I don’t know where he gets the books. And you can really see even today, when he’s 75, he’s still working and you can really see the intelligence in him. Absolute calm. I don’t come across that often. People being so calm. Like a hermit but also really living in that society. A person who’s extremely loved in his community. And he almost embodies what I believe: that you have to follow your purpose.
That’s also what they say in Hinduism that I really like. The way to serve God is to serve your purpose and to reach the goal of your life and that should be enough for God. And with this guy it’s so clear. That I find very inspiring.