Religion, for better or for worse, has always been a major part of my life. As a child, my mom came from a background of Yi Guan Dao or I-Kuan Tao, and on the other hand, my dad came from a family that believed in Mazu and self-proclaimed “Taoism.” The two religions had conflicting values, and as a result, my mom and dad’s respective sides of the families also engaged in lots of disagreements and arguments. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, the Confucious values of male and elderly superiority only made things worse. In essence, my childhood was composed of religious clashes and sexist ideologies that translated to both verbal and physical abuse, making my youth a living hell.
From a young age, vulgar language, violence, and verbal abuse were a part of my daily life. My poor mother was constantly the victim of abuse to my ex paternal family. Those monsters not only made her cook and clean for the whole “family” (which consisted of 8 people in total), they also deprived her of freedom and basic human rights. My mom was not allowed to leave the house or socialize, was scrutinized for visiting her family, and even faced repercussions for disciplining her children. Bluntly put, she was their slave.
The worse part of this story, is that the abuse was not just from the ex paternal family. My own father, was just as guilty for the torture my mother lived through for an entire decade. My dad heavily abided by Confucious values, more specifically, the idea of filial piety. If my ex- grandparents wanted the sun to be green, he would have found a way to make that happen, or at least died trying. The words of his ex parents were equivalent to the words of God. Thus, my dad never stuck up for my mom and instead, abused her both verbally and even physically if she ever said anything about those bastards-of-a-parent.
Yet despite all of this abuse that I witnessed with my own eyes since the age of 2, I was just a powerless little girl. I may have been young, but I knew that things were not right and that my mom was being hurt day in and day out. She was on the verge of breaking, but she never left because she knew the abuse would not stop with her. As I began to get older, I too, faced these same problems. I was treated like nothing by my ex grandparents because I didn’t carry a y-chromosome and I was constantly yelled at and beat by my dad because I believed in justification and my dad believed in his sole dictatorship. Anytime things did not go his way, my dad resorted to verbal and physical abuse, instilling low self-esteem in me. As the years went on, I had no confidence whatsoever, and eventually, I would begin to obsess over my grades in school in an attempt to fill the void created by my dad and his ex family.
In August of 2011, while most people were torn down from the impacts of Hurricane Irene, my family was also on the verge of a collapse. My mom was drafting divorce papers, and at the age of 10, I was already thinking of how I could help and support my mom, and I started by vowing to myself that once she divorced my dad, I would stay with her and forget his existence. It was not that my dad did not have a good side, but the bad side was just overwhelmingly potent to the extent that I lost sight of the small bit that was good. Just as this nightmare seemed like it was about to end, my family had a second chance when my dad discovered Jee Sifu online.
I vividly remember the first few days my dad met Sifu, as it was the first time in a decade that I was not forced to light incense at the Mazu altar that was setup in our “home” at the time. About a week later, both my mom and dad ordained into the lineage and wasted no time in setting up an altar under the guidance of Sifu. This was the first time I had seen the two of them agree and work together on building something without arguing or fighting. I didn’t know what was going on at first, but I would find out a week later that my life was about to change in ways I could not and would not have ever imagined.
In early September, my parents finally told my brother and me what had been going on for the past few weeks. They said they had met two Taoist Masters who were living in Canada, and that the past religions from both their respective sides were fake and evil. Upon hearing these words, my dad’s existence seemed surreal. The man who had always been super strict about praying to Mazu was saying that it was fake, and it just seemed too good to be true.
As for my own views regarding both Mazu and Yi Guan Dao or I-Kuan Tao, I had detested both for numerous reasons. For starters, I failed to understand how either religion could be of any good if they were the root causes of arguments and fights. If religion is supposed to be so great, then why was my mom suffering and why was my family falling apart? Why were my prayers never answered? Why did I have so many encounters with scary spirits and possessions? Why were questions about the religion not allowed? And most importantly, why were people still so devoted to this religion when it was evident there were no positive outcomes from believing in these gods?
For years, my questions remained unanswered, and as my family was falling apart, I was ready for anything new. So when my dad denounced his belief of Mazu, I was beyond ecstatic, as it seemed like a spark of hope amidst the darkness I had been living in. I didn’t know if this new religion was the real deal or not, but it had already shown me that it was capable of bringing peace and agreement between my parents, something I had never seen before, and that itself, was enough to convince me to ordain.
After ordaining into the lineage, my life, along with my family’s life truly changed for the better. Upon all four of us ordaining, we tried our best to explain this newly found gem to other “family members” in hopes of starting fresh. They did not approve of the new religion, and so we made the ultimate decision to cut ties with all of these so-called “family members.” The decision did not come easily, but in doing so, we were finally able to focus on rebuilding our lives with the help of the Tao. Those people may have been blood-related, but by no means were they a true family. A family is supposed to be loving and supportive, but they had only shown me they were abusive, controlling, and toxic. I would quickly discover that the lineage was the true family that I had been searching for my entire childhood.
For the next nine years, my mom, dad, brother, and myself would learn magic from Gum Sifu and Jee Sifu. We finally had an understanding of what true magic was and both Sifus would answer any questions we had with thorough explanations that made sense. For once, questions were welcomed and encouraged, instead of despised or ignored. We finally understood the reasoning behind what we were doing and we also witnessed the powerful effects of Saam Law magic. As a result, our family became capable of fighting off evil spirits and protecting ourselves from these evil crap. Not only did Sifu teach us real and effective magic cultivations, but he also helped rebuild the strained relationships in my family, especially my relationship with my dad.
Although we were on a better path and many things had improved, the relationship I had with my dad was still heavily damaged from all those years of trauma. My dad and I used to get into severe arguments, in which he used very vulgar and abusive words. In the long run, I became very sensitive and had a very low self-esteem. I also avoided speaking to my dad as much as possible and would only speak to him when necessary. We did not have a good relationship, and so Sifu worked to help us overcome the obstacles we had for each other. Sifu would often spend hours listening to both of us talk and show us what the problem was and guide us to a resolution. Essentially, Sifu was like a family therapist who helped to guide us to the right path and mend our broken father-daughter relationship. After years of Sifu’s hardwork and dedication, my dad and I can now communicate calmly and share laughs with each other, something that would have been unimaginable to me back when I was little.
Aside from helping save my relationship with my dad, Sifu also helped cope with the damages my dad had created. As a result of my low self-esteem, I became fixated on getting perfect grades in search of praise from teachers, because I had convinced myself that approval from others would boost my confidence. In reality, this was not the case, and while being a good, hardworking student was not a problem, I was no longer trying to just be a good student; I was obsessed with trying to become the best student. This obsession turned into a disease and quite frankly, my grades became capable of controlling my emotions in an unhealthy manner. I had sleepless nights and my mental and physical health became damaged, but I didn’t know how to stop. During these struggles, Sifu would be there to help guide me and teach me how to overcome this monster my dad had created since I was a young child. Sifu would persist for years, never giving up on me, and by the time I got to college, I was no longer only fixated on my grades. Now, I have found a balance in life and can work hard in school without being controlled by my grades or losing sight of many other important things in life.
In all honesty, there simply aren’t enough words I could use to express the amount of gratitude and appreciation I have for everything that Sifu and the lineage has helped both me and my family with. Sifu and the Tao truly saved my family, and had it not been for them, I have no doubt my parents would have gotten a divorce and I would be living my life without my dad. I am truly grateful for Sifus and the lineage for all the magic teachings and all the help to rebuild my family. I am so lucky that our lowest points in life, my parents were able to find Sifus and the lineage, and it is just beyond mesmerizing how powerful and effective true magic can be.