20 surprising benefits of saying “bahala na” as a mantra that you need to know

A Filipina yogini’s realization of how the Philippine saying means so much more


In the Philippines, the saying of “bahala na” means negative things for quite a number of people:

For some it means being part of a brotherhood in a gang.

For many others it means being lazy, irresponsible, one of the symptoms of the “Third World Sick Man of Asia.” Simply put there are those that practice it in a disempowering way whereby one relinquishes one’s personal power.

For a many years, Ive been excited about the potential of Bahala na as a mantra that awakens, aligns and raises up Filipinos’ level in the game of life.

I started contemplating the deeper meanings of Bahala na, in 2002, because I learned about the meanings of the baybayin symbols of bahala na from my friend Panday Banale. And since I was practicing the prayerful forms of chanting and began exploring meditation, I started some contemplative and meditative practices Bahala Na Meditations, alongside it.

The word mantra is a composite of two parts: man which means mind, and tra which means vehicle. Thus mantra is literally translated as “a vehicle to transport the mind.”

A mantra is a vehicle or tool that transports your mind to God.

In 2004, I trained to become a yoga teacher, going through the 200-hr yoga teacher training to deepen my knowledge of yoga philosophy and my sadhana (practice).

While in a small class learning about yoga practices called niyamas. I was thrilled to hear about ishvara pranidhana, a devotion of surrendering to the Divine.

Ishvara is Sanskrit for highest, pure divinity.

Pranidhana means to surrender, devote or dedicate.

Ishvara pranidhana is the practice of surrendering the ego and devoting oneself to a Divine higher power.

Surrendering to a higher power? This was an aha moment for me!

It was THIS moment… this very moment… that the saying of bahala na clearly showed itself as an act of surrendering the Ego to the Divine!

Because I knew how to say bahala na and understood its meaning, I quickly slipped into knowing the underlying diwa or idea within yoga practice of ishvara pranidhana.

To me, at that moment, sitting on the floor — Bahala na meant ishvara pranidhana. And Ishvara pranidhana meant Bahala na. Being Filipino suddenly was an even more marvelous thing for me. I felt that our pre-colonial heritage was rich in treasure waiting for us to find many gems of wisdom.

I was proud and grateful that my Filipino-ness gave me immediate understanding and appreciation of this niyama. I was deepening my yoga understanding amidst white people who had come to love the South Asian tradition of yoga, and appreciated it’s philosophy too. In that class I felt quite full of love and appreciation, that I was Filipino and that one of our worldviews was represented, and maybe even rooted, in yoga philosophy.

“ishvara pranidhana va,” Yoga Sutra 1.23, Sri Patanjali*

“Ishvara pranidhana. Through intense devotion and total surrender to the Highest, samadhi can be attained quickly by devotional surrender to God.” ~ Yoga Sūtra 1.23, Patañjali

Ishvara Pranidhana is taught by Sri Patanjali, to be the fastest way to reaching Samadhi, enlightenment, a realization of your divine self while on Earth.

Isn’t that amazing to think that devoting our lives to the Divine is the fastest way to enlightenment?!! We Filipinos can be so good at that. Many of us are born with a loving devotion to Divinity.

With a new awareness I began to say bahala na as a practice of ishvara pranidhana, surrendering Ego to Divine Purpose. I saw it as a personal devotion to Divine Source, and a way of aligning my soul purpose with Divine Will. The practice of my roman catholic mother and Lola, giving everything up to God, was made more beautiful and powerful to me.

And yet… there was something even more here, and I was determined to find out by way contemplation… and therefore I started the exercise of the Bahala Na Meditations. I’ve been meditating and contemplating on Bahala Na spiritual meaning for almost 15 years.

Some etymology:

Many Filipinos believe the word bahala comes from Bathala. And only until recently, did I think the same thing. Bathala means supreme god, in the Philippines, and the word actually is from the Sanskrit word “bathara” which means great lord. It was historian Zeus Salazar who explained to me that bahala is it’s own root word coming from Sanskrit.

Bahala is the Filipino word that means onus, responsibility, burden, and the unit measurement of one million. It comes from the Sanskrit word bhara, pronounced buh-huh-ruh, which means the same thing burden, weight, responsiblity.

I found out that bharati in Sanskrit means to balance such as balancing weights.

After learning all these I found out in a Sanskrit dictionary that the Sanskrit word of “bharaNa” means sustain, carry or complete. And this too now gives a whole new way to understand the Philippine saying of “bahala na.”

So finally—here’s the good stuff I’d like to share with you…

20 powerful benefits you will get from saying bahala na as a mantra:

  1. become closer to God.
  2. surrender yourself to the Divine Beloved
  3. release fear that holds you back
  4. express a courage even though you don’t know everything.
  5. let go of your ego’s need to control outcomes and the stress that comes from it
  6. release negative karma that arises from your ego.
  7. free yourself from worry, anxiety, self-doubt
  8. ease the competitive mind
  9. find comfort in knowing that you’re in the care of a Higher Power
  10. open yourself up to whatever is coming your way
  11. overcome fear of whatever it was that you have to go through
  12. trust your actions will unfold something in the cosmos that is going to end up towards some higher good
  13. request for Divine guidance
  14. surrender your Life to God so that He/She/Siya can use you as an instrument of Divine Will
  15. realize that separation from God is an illusion or maya
  16. realize sacred interconnection or pakikipagkapwa (Filipino)
  17. align yourself, your thoughts, will and actions, to the harmony and balance of the Universe
  18. do God’s work and balance Light and Dark
  19. transform your personal purpose to soul purpose that is, aligned with Divine Purpose
  20. empower your journey towards the state of yoga, the awakened, divine consciousness, enlightenment or Samadhi while still on the Earthly plane

AND here’s a bonus — two more on the Law of Attraction!!

  1. manifest your dreams
  2. enable yourself as co-creator through your own creativity and works

This has now evolved into a developing a book and a video campaign.

Please visit Bahala Na for the 21st Century or message me know if you want to know more.

Above picture is of the Babaylan Mandala, Patina and Gold version. This art came from meditation, contemplation of Filipino wisdom and indigenous traditions.

As an artist and Filipino, I believe that the Babaylan Mandalas call on Filipinos to seek and fulfill their highest selves.

With this same love and devotion, I believe there’s power in saying Bahala Na as a sacred phrase that calls up the well-spring of your inner resources that have been there all along.

Now’s the time to access your inner gold, more than ever. In this time. In this age.

If you’re curious about hearing chanting, meditations, and old contemplations you can access this private link to listen to Diwa ng Bahala Na on soundcloud.

Image of sanskrit passage from Yoga Sutras from Bhakti Collective Devotional Arts and Discussion

This is a revised version, originally published at the Facebook page of Bahala Na for the 21st Century.

20 Surprising Benefits of Saying “Bahala Na,” a condensed version, was written for the international publication of Illustrado Magazine.

mom, artist, writer, cultural activist—awakenings, connection, kinship, kapwa, decolonization, feminism, ancestral healing, pakikipagkapwa, & liberating madness