Mother in a Dream

Take a look at the following links before reading on…

Original Mongolian version of Mother in a Dream, performed by the Mongolian show-stopper of 2012’s China’s Got Talent: Uudam. The transcription/subtitles are in Vietnamese, because I am Vietnamese, lol.

WordPress article with original and English-translated lyrics to Mother in a Dream.

A remastered Mongolian version with English subtitles.

Vietnamese cover of Mother in a Dream, performed by Thùy Chi.

This young boy (he’s actually a year younger than me, so I should call him “young man”) sang this song, and I found his voice and his story in a time when I honestly was going to lose my way…and even my life, at some points.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and I found out about it a year later. The next few years were perhaps the darkest for me thus far. I wouldn’t say that my life now is better, but I’ve been able to savour whatever light I’ve received better than I did before.


Photo by Jason Ortego on Unsplash

But I guess when you live a life in service for your parents, it’s very hard not to feel so…destroyed when you realise that all the actions you did as a child would not be able to stop your parent(s) from dying from some horrible disease. Heck, as a Buddhist, you could even say that all the terrible things that happen to your loved ones are caused by your karma. The fact that you EXIST in this world means you are to receive blessings and retribution for what you did in your past lives. You may be a human on Earth (which is one step from Heaven), but you still must suffer, since you are born into this cycle of reincarnation.

Hang on…before I delve deeper into what I’m rambling about, let’s review my understanding of what Buddhism has taught me.

To my knowledge, there are five realms into which we are reborn (or more properly termed as “reincarnated”): Heaven, Human on Earth, Animal on Earth, Spirit on Earth, and Hell. These five realms all exhibit some form of suffering for the reincarnated individual, from Heaven exhibiting the least amount to Hell exhibiting the most. The fact that any one of us is reborn into any of the five realms means that we are destined to suffer. This is tied to the idea of karma, whereby the actions you have done in your current and former lives all have a certain altruistic value, and the culmination of all your actions determines what fate will befall upon you in the future of your current and future lives…

Unless you follow the Eightfold Path, and you learn and apply the teachings of the Buddha. See, the Buddha, and all of his otherworldly reincarnations afterwards, achieved Nirvana: a state of complete catharsis from worldly desires, from suffering, and from the Three Poisons (delusion, greed/lust, and malevolence). This was achieved through realising that neither rigorous asceticism nor complete ignorance was a method to achieving peace of mind. He realised that a “middle way” must be followed, to not only satisfy our basest needs of food, water, and shelter, but to remove the mind from thoughts and actions which would incur negative outcomes under the laws of karma.


Now then, how does this tie back to my childhood? Well, it’s because of these laws of karma that I thought I had caused my mother’s breast cancer. I thought the laws of karma wanted to show that I was the one who caused someone to be deathly ill in a former life, and now I was being punished as a result. In short, I had bad karma, and it was taking full form as a result. This idea was reinforced by the fact that I was berated by my father time and time again for not being studious enough, for asking for too much, and for being completely useless when doing chores.

When you infer that your existence causes pain to the family you love, you tend to realise very quickly that maybe suicide is the best option for them, and for yourself. I had thought, at the time, that I had somehow cheated the cycle of reincarnation, and I wanted to return to where I rightfully belonged: in Hell. And to this day, I tend to default to that mindset, in times of emotional distress, when everything begins to spiral out of control.

And you know what? Mother in a Dream by Uudam made me realise that even if the people I love are in pain, they aren’t dead yet. Even if they are in pain, or even deceased, I must strive to ensure that those I love can somehow be proud of me, by being benevolent, non-malevolent, and considerate. But it’s hard to muster the strength to face each day, especially when you know that the obstacles of life are caused by the bad karma from the evil actions of your past. I still can’t find peace in my mind.

And so, you Christians say, why not turn to God? He is all-loving. He is unbiased. He will free you from your suffering.

To that, I say this, “Where was He in my times of darkness? Nowhere. You say He is everywhere, but He did not come to me in a vision to free me of my self-hatred. All I saw was darkness, and He did not come to me with His light. He did not suppress the cancer within my mother. She was treated by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, not by a man placing his hand on her breasts who said ‘You are healed by the love and will of God’. Why did He put me in a Christian religious class when I was a child, which incited my hatred for the persistence of His love and the sheer ignorance of how fallible the Bible is? Why do His disciples come to me now, to convert me to the Lord who so abandoned me when I suffered, when my mother suffered, when my father and sister suffered?”

(sigh) There I go again, attacking Christianity once more. I understand your faith in the Lord is strong, Christian readers. But let me tell you this: no one can free me from my suffering, because I put myself here. Because I find that this suffering I experience is justified, and that I must return to where I belong: in Hell.

But in the meantime, I’m about to get royally screwed over because of my anatomy exams that I have no hope of fully revising. Wish me luck, fellow readers! And DFTBA!


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