Some examples of sectarian prejudice

In the mid-1960s, my family moved into a new housing development on the less-popular northern edge of the city. When we had settled in, my wife invited the 5 neighbouring women to morning coffee. All of them accepted. The day before the coffee gathering, a priest (driving a VW) visited all 5 homes. By evening, all 5 women had withdrawn their acceptance. There was no suggestion of any future relationships. My wife happens to be a fifth-generation Australian, with a sound genetic infusion of German and Italian genes.

The local representative of Rome had obviously done his duty to keep his flock pure of any social contamination. These women were probably of Irish descent. When, a few months later, my wife became bed-bound, I had to come home from work during the day to tend to her, while our little daughter was being minded by a former neighbour (an immigrant from Europe) at the other end of the city. Were the priest and my neighbours Australian or some tribal intruders?

In the 1970s, I was told by a member of my team how he had been selected as a graduate entrant. After being assessed according to the selection criteria, he had been asked about the school he had attended. It was a parochial (ie. church) school. He was satisfied that this unwritten selection requirement was on-going practice. Then, there was a chairman of a promotion appeals committee who used to ask certain candidates about the school they had attended. I did not then know why. These tribal preferences were subterranean.

In the 1980s, a very senior official visited the immigration representative of the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the representatives of all other churches, neither he nor any of his underlings ever called on the Immigration Department. Lo, and behold, for reasons which were never explained, Australia then suddenly accepted, as humanitarian entrants, Poles living within their country of nationality. Customarily, refugees and humanitarian entrants had to be living outside their country of nationality, and with a genuine fear of official persecution (for refugees) or discrimination (for humanitarian entrants) on return! The then Polish Pope must have had a great pull on Australia’s administration.

Yet, we Australians claim to be living in a secular nation. This is now contradicted by a widespread belief that the federal administration is controlled by a minority religious sect. This may do no harm, except on the issues of voluntary euthanasia (when much needed compassion available to family pets is denied to fellow humans), and the rights of women (where the edicts from a desert society of about 2 millennia ago continue to apply). Restricting the freedom of choice of those who do not subscribe to the religion of certain politicians and public service clerks in power is certainly not compatible with the concept of a multicultural and open society.

Australia is not the democratic society it claims to be, especially in terms of codified human rights. Yet, I have faith in its propensity for continuing along the path of maturity (its recent record proves that). Its egalitarianism, its ‘fair-go’ ethos (manifest in so many ways), and its generally laid-back society, auger well for a future as a societal beacon for our neighbours.

Rips in the fabric of connectedness

In the mid-1960s, Australia was attempting to extricate itself from the repulsive sludge of the racism which was integral to its White Australia policy. This sludge was interleaved with the prejudices (and some bilateral discrimination) of an enduring sectarian-religious divide (almost as divisive as the colour bar separating the Australian indigene from their oppressors).

The treatment of indigenous peoples has a long and world-wide history. When Europeans colonised the Antipodes and the Americas, there went the religious beliefs they proclaimed subsequently in order to save heathen souls for their Saviour. They offered salvation, while ripping them off in every way. To clear the land, the indigenes were shot, poisoned or driven away. With willing support from churchmen, Aboriginal men and women were herded into reservations in Australia, ignoring tribal and clan differences (thus also destroying tribal cultures). Owners of cattle stations obtained unpaid labour from the men, while handing flour and tea to the women to live on (so I have read). Randy men took the women freely. This created a new creole class eventually, whether or not the children were stolen from their mothers to work as servants. Christianity had a lot to answer for.

We Asian colonial subjects did not suffer to this extent. White ‘upstarts’ (as my elders described them privately) simply ‘lorded’ it over us, also creating a creole class unwanted by both Asians and the ‘Europeans’, with more souls gathered for Christ. But the possessors of the ‘saved’ souls did not seem to eat any better. But we too experienced the almighty rips in the fabric of mutual respect and tolerance which might be expected to reflect the conjoined creation of humankind, if not the teachings of Christ.

As for the darker-coloured people overseas, for nearly 2 decades after a new Australian government opened the immigration door to be non-discriminatory, there existed a heavy hand against that door. This discriminated against the flow of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent. How do I know? Two young men who had served as Immigration Officials in India and who became members (sequentially) of my team told me about this concealed practice. The traditional prejudice against dark-skinned people had not been dissipated yet.

The recognition of the unity of Man had a long way to go in this nation seeking to be modern. However, the immigration door now seems to be fully opened.

Unity from diversity

During my near-decade of responsibility for policies on migrant settlement matters for the federal government in Australia, I was like Earth, our home. I rotated busily on my daily responsibilities, and revolved around those who were seriously linked to me, as I was influenced and guided by forces substantial or ethereal. Unlike a rolling stone which allegedly gathers no moss, I observed, gathered impressions and information, and sought patterns. I had no choice in this. I was born thus and (perhaps) significantly, in a Year of the Dragon.  Fortunately, I am able to balance being with doing, thus keeping me sane. Age does bring wisdom – to some of us.

Some of the most satisfying experiences in my life occurred when I was responsible for childcare in migrant hostels. The federal government in Australia had established these hostels to ease immigrants into the community; for, what an immigrant needs most on arrival in a new (and possibly strange) country is a bed for myself (and any family who had travelled with him). In time, refugees and humanitarian entrants also benefited from the availability of fully-catered hostel accommodation, while they searched for jobs.

Humanitarian entry, unlike refugee entry, was essentially political in intent. The result, in my day, was a contrasting collection in the hostels of East Asian (Vietnamese), East European (mainly Polish) and Latin American (mainly Chilean). In childcare, the children’s age groups were: up to about 2 or 3 in one cluster, and about 3 to 5 in the other. The motherly child minders could have been of any ethnicity; they were wonderful.

What I noted in all 3 hostels about the younger children was not surprising. They were usually seated in a circle. Often they eyed off a neighbour’s toys. Any attempt to reach out to the other’s toy soon led to loud complaints, often progressing to mayhem. Indignation vs. ambition ruled – and associated with (I felt) some uncertainty. This may have been their first experience of institutional childcare.

It was the older group I enjoyed more. Children whose mother tongue was only Vietnamese or Polish or Spanish would ‘talk’ to one another, smile, and even exchange toys! They tended to be gregarious. It was fantastic to observe. What did that say to us? Here was humanity at its best. Here was the future of a truly, multicultural nation-in-the-making displayed.

A unity of urban community from diverse cultural origins, and a national unity from immigrant and host communities integrated with one another is, I believe, an achievable aim. We need to learn from little children who have not been taught prejudice!

The Seekers and the Seers

Many are we who seek to know, perhaps to understand.  We are of all ages. Obviously some of us are more advanced spiritually. Is it surprising that they ask pertinent question, express mature thoughts and insights, have no interest in wealth or power, and live a co-operative life, right from an early age? Eventually, they must surely get to that state which is their destiny. Yet, it is the journey, not the destination, which matters to us Seekers.

What of the Seers? How define them? I see them as gifted in order to make a certain contribution to fellow humans. Do they have to be successful Seekers to become Seers? Apparently not – but that is my subjective view, based only on casual observation. Those intermediaries who are genuine in the practice of their vocation are most useful to us Seekers.

For example, a woman who described herself as a spiritual healer (with guidance from the spirit world) suddenly became still and quiet, while seemingly listening – in the middle of morning tea – and then said to me ‘You should do something with your name. That’s what I have been told.’ Some months later, the clairvoyant conversing with the spirit of my uncle said ‘It is suggested that you can seek to contribute to building a bridge from whence you came to where you now are.’ It took me 2 years to realise that I do have the knowledge and experience to attempt what was suggested.

Eventually, I wrote Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia under my birth name Arasa. The reviews which followed were splendid. The book will be available soon in ebook form (at $US 2.99) from Amazon Kindle Direct. This was the first of my 3 books on migrant settlement and associated matters (viz. ethnic affairs & multiculturalism, citizenship & national identity, refugee & humanitarian entry, and migrant settlement assistance), all based on personal experience. Underpinning these books is my hope for unity arising from ethnic diversity.

Glimpses into the spirit world

The first WordPress blogger to comment on my early posts, Jerry, asked about NDEs, near-death experiences. I have read a few descriptions of such experiences. As well, a close friend of mine had such an experience. I too had an experience which had a near-death trigger, but which otherwise did not fit the norm.

To begin with my story. I was seriously ill with dengue fever, that bone-crunching disease. I was in so much pain that I heard myself shout with pain if anyone even touched my mattress. One evening, in deep non-existence through a raging fever, I found myself floating horizontally near the ceiling. I looked down and saw 2 clearly dead bodies. One was mine; the other was that of my father. But I had recently participated in his cremation, involving a great deal of Hindu ritual.

I remember being terribly afraid. Why? I had no idea. I still do not. I recall waking up in a great sweat. It soaked the bed sheet. That was the beginning of my recovery which, a few years later, I had reason to regret; my downfall had begun.

After a lifetime of trying to make sense of this experience, I now believe that I must have been near death; and that my subconscious mind had acted on that knowledge. That fear, which was akin to a nightmare, was the trigger to my recovery – for, I obviously had to live. There was a river of my personal destiny on which my sampan awaited, offering me full freedom to fall into holes which were not there, while the wheels of my life-chances cart would fall off as influenced by my past-life inheritance.  To understand this, the reader will need to read my memoir The Dance of Destiny (soon available as a Kindle ebook for $2.99).

My friend’s experience was a typical NDE. She died, and was brought back to life. In between, she went through that typical process of moving towards a light, seeing her mother (and others) at the end of a bridge of some kind, and being told by her mother that she had to go back. Most significantly, her mother addressed her by a name which only her mother had ever used.

A professional sceptic would ‘explain’ NDEs by referring – without any evidence – to the way the human brain allegedly throws up hallucinations at death. An equally unprovable ‘explanation’ is that such people as my friend had been given a glimpse (far too brief a glimpse) into the After-life. I suspect that she had been spiritually protected by her experience (the prospect of a nicer abode) for the difficult life she was to encounter.

As my reality includes the spirit world, I am inclined to believe, not the speculative scientists nor the professional sceptics (all of whom may be guilty of subscribing to a ‘theology’ of their own), that we can be guided or influenced by our progenitors and their compatriots in that other place most of us aspire to. Prove me wrong – with evidence – if you can. I do not believe in evil spirits. In my speculative view (unprovable, of course) all evil originates within live brains on Earth.



Does the spirit world keep track of us?

When our loved ones die, in the culture of my extended family, we cremate the bodies. This is preceded by a lengthy religious ritual. We, the living ones, are left with terrible sadness and, perhaps, some regret; for, a sin of omission can be more painful than any sin of commission. However, I have never had anyone talk of the spirit world. But then, is it not probable that our loved ones and certain higher beings in the spirit world do keep track of us, even to the extent of encouraging us subliminally to carry out our cosmic responsibilities?

About 30 years ago, I came to realise that, while I keep paddling my sampan on my personal river of destiny as best as I can, I seem to be on a trajectory that has been set for me. It does not matter who or what did the setting. Thus, my first 3 books reflect the suggestion left with me at my meeting with the spirit of my uncle. The positive responses to my writing clearly indicate the value of my contact with the spirit world.

I have since been told that I have a spirit guide. How did this happen? A woman I had just met told me in no uncertain terms that my guide was complaining that I was not listening to him! I, however, did not know that I had this valuable guide. She could see him, and described his appearance. I wondered – had that casual meeting been set up, as this woman is known (as I subsequently found out) as a casual clairvoyant, who has sudden visions?

It is now clear to me that, while I may be a loner, I am not alone. I am indeed grateful.

Contact with the spirit world

I came home one evening to note that, while my security screen door remained locked, the main door was ajar. Fearing that my home had been robbed again, and armed with a garden stake, I inspected the premises. What I saw was disconcerting. The only change in my home was the location of a small wall mirror.

It is about 12 inches square, and had been glued to a wall at about 4 feet high. It was now sitting on a bench about 2 feet away laterally, leaning against the same wall. With both external screen doors key-locked, and all windows unbroken and unopened … … !

A year or so later, my cleaning lady (octogenarians need such help) and I noticed a framed picture sited between the slats of a vertical window blind, 10 minutes after she had cleaned the window. The picture had been moved from an adjacent wall about 1 foot away. It had obviously been placed very carefully. I then realised, through the history of the picture, that a close friend with whom I had not had any contact for about 10 years, and who had died a little while back, was telling me where she now is.

More recently, with a normal buzzing sound, what appeared to be a beetle suddenly flew out from near the ceiling in one room, flew past me noisily, and disappeared into the corner, at ceiling height, of the room I was in. I found no evidence of the beetle. Significance? No idea!

I was introduced to the spirit world, of which I had never been aware, when I was investigating psychic phenomena. The clairvoyant I was consulting surprised me when I arrived at his door by saying ‘I have the spirit of your uncle with me. Will you accept him?’ Naturally, I was most surprised; that was not why I was there.

When the clairvoyant described the spirit, whom he could obviously see and communicate with (a privilege I was denied), I realised that he was my senior uncle. Since he had been the second-most influential man in my life, it did not surprise me when I was told that ‘higher beings’ had considered that he was the one I would ‘most likely accept’. Obviously they know that I am a sceptic. And I remain grateful for his re-intervention in my life.

The Other Place

When a good friend, a staunch born-again Christian (her description), was dying, she sent word to me that she would reserve a seat for me. I was touched. When another close friend was dying, I convinced her to let go of Earth, as she would be going to a better place. I suggested that we could meet there soon to enjoy a seafood barbecue by a lakeside. Yet, there are other close friends who, in spite of their faithful attendance at their church, are not sure that they will be going anywhere. That surprises me; do not the 3 desert religions offer everlasting life in a wondrous location?

Recently I talked at length with a minister of a Christian church. Where most people (so I assume) have a 2-part reality – the physical and the mental/ideational – some of us have a third level of reality through experience, the spirit world. This is potentially confusing to everyone, initially even to me. The minister warned me against being involved with the spirit world, quoting the Old Testament. To my surprise, I discovered that the spirits are assumed to be malevolent (obviously not all). Why so? What happened in that desert terrain more than 2,500 years ago?

To me, evil is only in the hearts and minds of mankind. In this modern age, when we know so much more than our forebears, no matter how clever they were, do we need to conjure up, or accept, evil as personified, and thereby externalised? Are we only shifting blame? Or, is it the case that those who are evil on Earth will, at death, enter the spirit world and continue with their evil ways? If this is correct, then does everyone more into the spirit world at death?

Is this what that clairvoyant meant when he said to me 25 years ago that where I will be going ‘will not be that different’? That would be disappointing, even for a Re-cycling Depot or Way Station, or an R&R Post. Yet, life (wherever it is) is for living and learning, isn’t i?

When I collect my wings

It is a satisfying thought; that when I am ‘deaded’ (as my then Greek landlord’s 4-year daughter used to say), I will be sent a pair of wing to take me into the heavens – to my new home. Would I need to remember Icarus, the lad who flew too close to the sun? I do, however, like the thought of flying high, like an eagle. Yet, as my father advised in response to that hope, ‘Of all the birds, the eagle flies highest; but he flies alone.’ O.K. that would suit me: even at an early age, I realised that I may be destined to become a loner, thereby being able to fly high in any direction.

Is it then significant that I was born in the (Chinese) Year of the Dragon? Unlike those who believe that you are what you are because of when you were born, I prefer the view that you were born when you were because of what you are. That is, the time and date of your birth reflects your innate nature and (possibly) your path of destiny (in the broad). This path, no matter how it was set, has to allow for a degree of free will, as well as for chance events or influences, or for pre-programmed interactions and intersections, has it not?

As I wrote in the conclusion to my memoir, The Dance of Destiny, referring to the flight of dragons in the context of human folly: They soar into the sky of solitude, and simultaneously sink into the sea of humanity, as they sing the songs of significance about their true home, that ocean of consciousness which unites all existence and non-existence

What will the higher beings in my next abode say when they meet this new arrival who was described in relation to one of his books as ‘an intellectual who cannot be categorised’? Or, do they already know that I am only an eagle thinking that I am a dragon?


My next home

I am dying to find out what my next home will be like. Actually, I will need to die first before I can find out. Can’t I wait? Of course, I can wait – until I am sent my wings. But, I will have to make sure that some misguided medico does not interfere, claiming a legal right to over-ride my written instructions not to be resuscitated if I am thereby unable to live a normal self-sufficient life.

I might have to remind such a medico that, while the Hippocratic Oath requires him not to damage or take a human life in his practice, he is not required to ‘save’ a life that would then be consigned to a bed in a nursing home or be left in a vegetative state. In my world, we do not have low-wage maids to look after the aged.

As an octogenarian who has lived about 7 years past his statistical use-by date, I am aware that for every year my life is now extended, some other persons will have to die before reaching their use-by dates, thereby causing great anguish to others. As an octogenarian who has led a highly interactive and contributory life all his adult life – even creating new community organisations, or leading others, or making a substantive contribution here and there to what is known as civil society, I do want to explore a new frontier. I need challenge, even to the point of challenging some of my own beliefs.

However, within my own belief systems, have I not already been in the spirit world before, and on many occasions? Of course I have. But, did I have the same focus I now have to seek to understand the  Cosmos (the ‘multiverse’) and the place of mankind in it? Hindu cosmology (not everyone’s cup of char) says we do have a significant place in the Ciosmos, in spite of the Cosmos and its contents either being ‘suspended’ or destroyed every so many billion years, to be renewed or reactivated for a similar following period. This process is said to be cyclical; that is, repeated into infinity! It is certainly an intriguing concept – but not capable of proof or disproof!

This is what I am dying to find out. As that well-known retired actor said on t.v., ‘Weird or what?’