Now, I am not going to waste your time by telling you what Pchum Ben is or what kind of ceremonies Cambodians hold annually because you are here to learn about those things.
Instead, I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the reasons I FEEL why people in Cambodia and the world do religious things. To be clear from the beginning, I will make my explanation as non-religious as possible. Here we go:
“If you do good, you will receive good,” written in the laws of reciprocity. By this, I can infer to the point that if you go to pagoda or church, or do religious things, you will receive the same thing in a way that your children or grandchildren will also go to pagoda or church, or do religious things too.
Children learn best from those who are the closet to them. Generally speaking, parents are the ones who stay near the children almost all the time. So, parents are the best teachers; what they teach can be a firm ground upon which children can build their lives.
Personally, I am lucky to be born into a family that both my parents are really grateful to their parents (paternal and maternal). To say that my parents are the most grateful children in the world would be unacceptable, but their actions and good deeds are more than enough to be considered as grateful.
Since I was born, my parents have always taught me in both direct and indirect ways to distinguish between good and bad things. Take this year. I went to three different pagodas for this Pchum Ben occasion because my parents inspired me to do so with their actions. With refreshingly clear mind, I got to do something (offering food to my ancestors through Buddhists monks) of which I felt so proud.
Actually, the best part of this story does not end when I did those religious things or I got those good morality lessons from my parents. Yet, it endlessly continues because I know that I am going to personalize, perfectionize and transfer those good activities and lessons to my children and grandchildren. And it is going to get even better when my children and grandchildren follow this family’s trait.
Probably, you have learnt that life becomes so hectic. A person can take up many roles. For example, I am nowadays a son, brother, boyfriend, businessman, writer, student, friend, teacher, student consultant, reader, rider, guitarist, and many more.
Due to this reason, a lot of people have taken their life so lamely and busily that they forget some of the most important things in their life such as living a peaceful life (both in and out), correcting mistakes made in the past, and etc.
Taking a pause in life from time to time is good thing because it allows you time to rethink what you want to do with your life and reaffirm whether the path on which you’ve been working is the right one.
There are certainly many ways people use when they want to make some reflection on their life. For me, I prefer some time when I am almost completely away from work and place where life’s core values can be seen. Based on the conditions, going to pagoda on holiday to do religious things is the best means for me.
Let me tell you two thoughts with which I came up while visiting the 3 pagodas: (1) I am going to help the society by spreading morality lessons to teenagers and adults, (2) I am going to balance my current living standard by also focusing on mental peacefulness.
Again, people are so busy. Ask yourself how many times do you see your parents or relatives per year (if you are not living with them)?
There has been a mass exodus of people from provinces to Phnom Penh city, Cambodia. These people are sons and daughters of rice farmers who wish to improve their living standard by coming to the capital to work as factory workers or maids. Some come to study languages and majors in universities because educational quality in Phnom Penh is much better if compared.
Once or two times a year only, these people have got to meet up with their parents and relatives back in their home towns. By considering their salary (generally less than $100 USD/month), it’s really costly to commute back and forth from the provinces to the city. Therefore, it is highly economical for them to see their families during some special occasions only.
I think this is one of the most convincing reasons that our ancestors create many occasions or ceremonies as to gather their children and grandchildren who may be too busy with their work and take such family gatherings for granted.
In conclusion, I write this article with one intent to say that life is more a journey than a destination. It is not always about reaching the goals, but enjoying while on the way to reach the goals. So, don’t focus TOO much on your destination that you forget about the core value(s) of life, which is TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE and which can possibly be TO LEAD OTHER PEOPLE TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE.
*** Please read my update of this article on What is Ching Ming and Why?