Meanings and Diwa (Idea or Spirit) within “Bahala” and “Bathala”

Posted on Jun 17, 2009 in BA, bahala na, controversy, HA, interpretations, LA, The Bahala Meditations


(This is the section on Reflection on the Baybayin Symbols of Bahala taken from the Bahala Meditations. The other sections are on contemplation and the sounds) In my inquiries into other great religions of the world, indigenous spirituality of American Natives, and ancient ones of Europe and the Middle East, I have encountered Universal wisdom and truths and many names for the nameless, yet many-named Divine. One of the most resonant for me was God/Goddess/All- That-Is because it was a phrase that articulated an all-encompassing nature of a Divine Cosmic Force.

In the Jewish Tradition it is Yahweh. In English it is God. In Spanish it is Dios.
In Islam it is Allah. In Christian tradition it is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Holy Trinity. In pagan traditions it is Goddess or Great Mother. For the American Natives it is wording that translates to Great Spirit. Left-brainer, atheists may not believe in any god but they may believe in a Cosmic Intelligence that underlies the laws of physics and atomic existence in space and time.

By coming to rediscover the use of Bahala, so many more Filipinos today, cut-off and unaware of their spiritual roots, can come to discover and know that ancient traditions of the Philippine Islands have always carried Universal Wisdom and consciousness of the awareness of the Nameless-Many-Named-I-Am, that is, The Divine, beyond human gender and material illusions.

Almost 10 years ago I was introduced to baybayin by Mary Ann Ubaldo of Urduja jewelry (see www.urduja.com. She shared with me not only the basic history of baybayin (or alibata) but also the works of Grace Odal and Bing Veloso. She discussed how the Filipino Spirituality Movement and how its participants were exploring the spirituality and innate wisdom of our people that existed even before the coming of European religions. I received both historical knowledge of the baybayin, and also intuited knowledge of babayin symbols. What attracted me most among the symbols were those for Bahala.

In this way, I came to know that Bahala is the most elegant way to express God/Goddess/All-That-Is—a non-gender all encompassing divine presence in the Universe. Please note, that this contemplation is on Bahala and not Bathala(which means God or Lord for ancient Pilipinos). The larger importance of Bahala, for me, is that it became a reconnection for me to our Philippine ancestors.

If you want to learn more about baybayin, than these meditations will not suffice and you will have to do further research online and via published books you can find in the Philippines such as Saysayin ng Babayin by Bing Veloso. Baybayin can be powerful because it can get you in touch with not only your ancestors’ historical roots, but possibly also their emotional and spiritual
roots. And for some, it might be a tool in bringing about a wholistic Filipino identity in these times. This experience will vary from person to person—from the nothing consequential whatsoever or to the deeply moving.

Today, I believe that through the process of learning more about the baybayin some Filipinos can uncover some beautiful pieces of wisdom that our pre-colonial ancestors inherently had. For me, it began with the baybayin symbols for Bathala and Bahala.

BATHALA

baybayin symbols for BA-TA-LA

The symbols that spell Bathala would look like Figure 1 of the baybayin symbol sequence. There are Filipino scholars who have studied baybayin and believe that the symbol of TA is a likeness of lightning and that in the name of Bathala “ta” is the indicator for great strength and power. In these Filipino meanings, I find parallels with the symbology of lightning and powerful father godheads from around the world such as the Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, the Norse Thor and the Vedic Indra.

BAHALA

In everyday life Filipinos might say the colloquial phrase of Bahala Na many times and so the word of Bahala is possibly invoked more than Bathala might be.

There are baybayin scholars who believe that the baybayin sequence of BAHALA, Figure 2, is readable to both Bahala and Bathala, because it is to be intuitively discerned as to when which word is most applicable for saying and for invocation.

For my part, I resonate with the symbols of Bahala. I find profound meaning in the symbols of Bahala along with the discovery that the ancient native writing system of baybayin is not like Western-style, straightforward symbology that represents exact sounds. Baybayin writing system IS different because it calls for a measure of intuitiveness and inner knowledge in order to read and write it.

Can we Filipinos today train ourselves to rely not only on our intelligence but also on our inner knowing like our pre-colonial ancestors in the Philippine islands?

Meanings and Diwa (Idea or Spirit) within the Symbols

BA represents the Feminine principle. Feminine principle qualities/energies are, to name only some, nurturing, sensuality, beauty, spirituality, fertility, compassion, receptiveness and submission to Divine will. In the shape of ba are the organic feminine forms—breasts, buttocks, vagina, or uterus… and thus the energy/spirit/diwa of the Feminine Principal, which in Filipino can be expressed as Maganda.

Masculine principle qualities/energies are, to name only some, action, dynamism, force, strength, fertilization, challenge, aggression, domination, challenge within Existence. In the shape of la is the organic form of the male sexual organs, that is, the testicles and the penis…

La conveys the energy/spirit/diwa of the masculine principal, which in Filipino can be expressed as Malakas

Then lastly Ha is examined.

In the curves of the ha baybayin symbol there is the principle and meaning of: air… breath… spirit… and light. You might be able to see what I see in the baybayin of “ha” —similarities to
scientific graphic renderings of light waves… … you can also definitely see and feel in the shape of “ha” forms of wind and air…

(Also see Tacit Perceptions of Symbolism to read on how regular everyday Filipinos, including indigenous people, interpret BA, HA and LA)

Deeper Meanings of Balance and Wholeness

Thus, with this new manner of contemplating upon baybayin and the meanings in BAHALA, I came to an understanding that Bahala can create an awareness of both Feminine and Masculine energies of Existence and the Divine.

It was conveyed by the feminine and masculine baybayin symbols and sounds in it—”ba” and “la” — and most importantly connected in the middle with the “ha” sound symbol.

Some interpret this as the Feminine Principle connected by spirit to the Masculine Principle is a sum that is equal to God. I see it the other way around, that is, God manifested within Creation exists in duality—Dark and Light, Seen and Unseen, Known and Unknown, and Feminine Divine and Masculine Divine…. and what connects and holds together the duality throughout is spirit/diwa/energy/light.

In all meditative practices of all major religions, breath (hangin) is the connection of our physical bodies to Spirit. Meditation practices incorporate breathing in certain rhythms and ways. In the baybayin formation of Bahala, the feminine principle of “ba” and masculine principle of “la” seem to balance on both sides of “ha” the symbol for air/wind/breath and spirit.

Duality of the Divine Life Force

I have come to the realization that there are profound parallels between the
baybayin of BAHALA and with the symbol of Yin Yang. [Even Rabbi Sameth’s interpretation of YWH is also connected to the symbol of Yin Yang. See “Is God a he-she?.” by Manya Brachear]

Can you also see the mirrored line of HA in the dividing line of Yin/Yang?

I am amazed and moved, too, by Mary Ann Ubaldo’s animation that shows the lines of the Baybayin overlapping the path of atom particles (located at her web site for Urduja Jewelry, http://urduja.com/blink.html, as taught to her by her friend in the Filipino Spirituality movement, Gandhi). For me, as a Filipino, Ubaldo’s presentation is an exciting look at the hidden universality of the Filipino writing forms…at the same time it is also deeply satisfying to me in helping me find my spiritual roots.

Tantric philosophy says the whole Universe is fundamentally two types of energy YIN (negative) and YANG (positive). The whole Manifestation of the Universe is subject to the two opposed but complementary forces, dark and light, lunar and solar, the centrifugal force and the centripetal force, the feminine and the masculine.

There is a balance of Ba feminine (Yin) and the La masculine (Yang) on both sides of ha (energy/spirit).

The BA is the fundamental force that has an expansive tendency and is the source of tranquility, calm, cold and dark. The LA is the fundamental force that has a contractive tendency and is the source of sound, dynamism, warmth and light.

The curving line of Ha between the two (as in the curving line between the Yin/Yang symbol) is the interacting intersection of relationships…of spirit… of dynamic balance…and ever-constant change.

Contemplation of the Bahala baybayin symbols:

Some of the subjective interpretations and meanings that I am most fond of finding in “Bahala” right now are…

… that in life as we struggle with the duality within us and try to find balance of dual dynamics within us — masculine and feminine, physicality and spirituality, ego and love, shadow and light, action and tranquility, Seen and Unseen, Known and Unknown, we people (tao) become closer to Bathala, God/Goddess/AllThatIs, the Divine Force… and as we become more enlightened and awakened we become closer to what the Cosmic Intelligence meant for us to be in the bigger scheme of things…

…this is another way of viewing the relationship of human free will and Divine Will. Instead of viewing Divine will as something that we surrender our free will to, we can see that our free will is aligned with God and that all our choices would in fact be freely made in pro-creative acts— in effect the transcendent view of sacred agreement — Covenant with God.

…we must simultaneously learn to discern duality in existence and yet perceive the wholeness and unity of existence. We must learn to find a balance of duality in our own selves, in how we live our lives, in our relationships with others.

It seems that the symbols of ba and la are balanced on either sides of the ha symbol.

Again, these are subjective meanings and not scholarly. The babayin obviously evolved in shapes, rendering and applications depending on the historical period and by those who rendered them. My interest in the baybayin is less than scholarly and more artistic and having to do with finding pieces of my ancestral Filipino identity. And what I take away from the baybayin symbols of Bahala in this way is merely a personal interpretation I contemplate upon.

Lastly, have a care if you subject the symbols of BA and LA down to merely the interpretation male and female reproductive parts— or to a divine being that is a hermaphrodite, a creature with both male and female sexual organs. Be conscious why you might take away only the interpretations of BA and LA and reduce the symbols to only that of sexual organs. Rather go to the next level and use your higher awareness and spiritual intelligence to deepen the meanings of BA and LA to the Feminine and Masculine principals that exist within the Cosmos and human experience.

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This writing is influenced by the Filipino Spirituality movement which has come to me through a continuing connect of people who trusted each other with these concepts/ideas/beliefs.

See related posts below that discuss the concepts in this post further:

Related Posts at Baybayin Alive:

Other Baybayin Alive Posts On Writing Symbols with Deeper, Hidden Meaning:

Other online articles

3 Comments

  1. Not a single person in all the over one hundred examples of different people's handwriting from the 1600s ever wrote "ba" by starting with the bump at the bottom. It started at top left, moved to the bottom and made the bump, then curled back up to the left to join the beginning of the letter. This is because this is where it started in the early Nagari letter brought by Gujarati

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  2. Hello Anonymous, this blog is the first of its kind about baybayin's meaning to Filipinos. It is only the first and does not mean that I am the only one with these ideas. There are many Filipinos who believe in the deeper meanings. These ideas were first shared in intimate circles of Filipino baybayin enthusiasts in the Philippines. Later, these ideas trickled to others they trusted who were

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