Where lies responsibility?

More importantly, at least for the benefit of future generations, the contribution that I and other non-Christian Asian migrants have made to Australia’s spiritual growth will enable or assist people of diverse origins and ethnicity (including mainstream host peoples) to merge one with the other, again as equals, at the spiritual level.

This will not be easy, with some die-hard members of the priestly class holding their arms firmly across their narrow doors to God. But I do believe that future generations will increasingly pay less attention to any power-hungry priests and, instead, apply their inherited spirituality in recognition of that bond between humans which will not, eventually, be denied.

Underlying my story is my preoccupation with the question of destiny. As a Hindu, I know that I have free will within the constraints of my past actions and the limiting influences of natural and human forces, including the cosmological. Yet I have felt my hands more tied than I had expected in the things I have tried to do. To my knowledge, my feet (and modern transport) brought me to Australia, which delivered a sharp lesson to my ego; after all, there is no greater chasm than that vast gulf between great expectations and small achievements.

I cannot accept (for metaphysical reasons) that I myself chose this life which, initially, was most painful, psychologically and spiritually. A Turkish saying seems to support this view: a man does not seek his luck; luck seeks its man. Yet a mediumistic clairvoyant channelled a message from an uncle (dead years ago) that a great effort had gone into getting me to Australia. (By whom, when, and why, are the obvious questions to which I would like answers.)

So, what forces are at work upon us? In this context, I find comfort in my belief that modern cosmological theories are becoming congruent with my philosophical heritage. Can we expect therefore some further insights into my question from the philosopher-scientists, with perhaps increasing support for the metaphysics of my spiritual ancestors? Their explanatory system of belief (and belief does have its own logic) lays the responsibility for our lives, not on some external power on earth or elsewhere, but on our individual selves. Our freedom to act is of course subject to the constraints that we had set up previously, together with the impacts of natural and cosmological forces (which are normally beyond our control).

My story is thus one of hope, if not ambition, about human freedom and spirituality. But, will the stars give us reasonable rein? That depends, in part (I guess), upon whether human actions influence the stars, i.e. cosmological forces. Some modern physicists seem to think that they might. If so, is that part of our destiny which influences the stars also predicated by our earlier actions and thoughts?

I look to the Upanishads (of the Hindu faith and philosophy), as have some great Western philosophers and scientists, for guidance. We are told that in each of us the Self is the innermost essence; that the Self is “not someone other than you.” We are also told that the Self is not different from the Ultimate Reality called God or the Creator, and that all of life is one.

This means that, whether white, black or brindle, whether Christian, Hindu or whatever, we are bonded one to the other; that our salvation has to come from within ourselves, and that we look inwards in our search for experiencing our Creator. Does that mean that I cannot blame something or someone out there for my mishaps and sins? How unfair!

(The above extract is from chapter 1 in my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia’)

To know where the holes are deep

Accepted for citizenship while Australia was still officially white, I worked for the Australian government in such interesting fields as ethnic affairs (looking after the settlement needs of migrants); in the screening of foreign investment in Australia (to ensure that it was not against the national interest); the provision of assistance to secondary industry by government (ensuring the continued inability of Australian industry to be competitive globally); and the artistic (but very reasonable) creation of balance of payments statistics.

I also made a small contribution to the education system in the national capital (in part by being the foundation chairman of a school board); to career protection in the Australian public service (by leading, for seven years, a trade union sub-committee working on career protection, i.e. improving the equity and efficiency of selection procedures); and involved myself in a couple of other community concerns (including overseas aid and public speaking for school children). Twice a year, the local press is likely to refer to two on-going matters which I initiated. That is, I believe that I integrated into the Australian nation quite successfully and productively, but without losing my cultural identity or without losing sight of myself.

… … After the first few years in Australia, the lives of Asian students became far more tolerable. After all, it is quite disconcerting to be attacked in public simply because of one’s colour. The terrible prejudice which I and my fellow students had encountered diminished substantially over the years, and life became far more comfortable than it used to be. There is no evil without its advantages, is solace offered by some Indian sage. However, discreet discrimination against one’s ethnicity, including religion and colour, continue – but not discernibly so. And even a former senior politician recently conceded that Australia remains a racist nation.

Indeed, many Australians still respond to skin colour (it’s their first perception of us, as my narrative will bring out), and it’s not always favourable. Regretfully, the Aussie (in the main) remains unable to discard his perception of a coloured person as not only different, but inferior, and therefore not to be liked over-much. This, in my view, reflects his antipathy to the Aborigines, his prejudice increasing with the darkness of the skin. This attitude, I suspect, colours government policy too, especially immigration policy.

In any event, today’s students from Malaysia and Singapore would not feel threatened (as we did at times) by the whims of immigration officials (who thought they were our guardians), security agents and their on-campus professorial spies, and others, particularly the landladies. These students, and those settling in as immigrants, would also now hold more realistic expectations about their career prospects in Australian bureaucratic structures, in both the public and private sectors. That is, we now know how far to reach. And there is a Chinese proverb which says it well: only he that has travelled the road knows where the holes are deep.

It is against this background that I tell my story. … It is a record of the early, traumatic cultural impacts of White Australia on an impressionable young Malayan in the immediate post-war period. It might, hopefully, lend support to the Malay adage that it is the fate of the coconut to float and for the stone to sink (after centuries of colonial domination, have we not established our destiny as akin to that of the coconut?)

(These are extracts from my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out.’ As the book was written between 1995 and 1997, much of this – and my later books – represent a sliver of Australia’s immediate post-war history. There have, however, been significant improvements in human relations in recent decades.)

The White Man’s paradise in coloured seas

At the end of the Second World War, Australia remained very tightly, and in a most inhumane way, in the grip of its White Australia policy. This policy reflected the unrealistic and indefensible hope of a white nation remaining an outpost of far-away Europe, whilst occupying land stolen from its black owners, even though it is set in a world of predominantly coloured people.

In reality, the land of Australia was seen by its occupants for thousands of years (long before European man became the principal despoilers of planet Earth) as owning them, the people. In reality, too, there are people in White Australia who (apparently) have blood from coloured ancestors they would rather not recognize, as it has become fashionable to regard ‘coloured’ blood as inferior. But it is quite acceptable, and indeed quite desirable, to have coloured, and therefore inferior, people fight and die in wars to protect the white man’s interests.

A parallel exists, in modern times, in what was referred to by an Australian wit (perhaps a half-wit) as “the greatest gang-bang in history”. This was when a white-controlled nation sent its predominantly black and Christian armed forces to protect its own interests, and that of a predominantly white and Jewish people, against a brown and Muslim nation (sure, Satanic Saddie had to be controlled before he swallowed his democratic oil-filled neighbour, none of whose troops seemed to have been involved in this ‘war’).

So, Australians in office quietly forget that the Australian war effort had been supported or aided by coloured people from a variety of countries. Some of these, like the Papua New Guineans, had helped to save Australians from the Japanese. However, the policy makers in Australia were not touched by Shakespeare’s, “For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”. Perhaps they had not heard of Shakespeare.

(This extract represents the opening paragraphs of my first book ‘Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia,’ published in 1997. The post-publication academic and other reviews were most favourable. These can be read at the end of the recently-issued ebook version – refer Amazon.)

The problem of knowledge

To complete Cayce’s picture, the peaceful people of the islands of Lemuria in the Pacific were allegedly forced to migrate to parts of America and to the Asian mainland when rising seas (reflecting the end of an ice age in the northern hemisphere) drowned their homes. True or false?

Yet, there is a recent claim (by Oppenheimer) that mankind’s original civilisation was in South-east Asia and contiguous lands extending farther into the south east; and that, when this land was flooded, the people moved north and west, all the way to the Middle East and regions east of it, transplanting their cultures to become the Mesopotamian and Indus civilisations.

This is not to ignore the strong probability that massive cosmic catastrophes, now accepted as part of our reality, changed Earth and its occupants. These catastrophes probably caused genetic mutations on Earth of such magnitudes as to produce new species which were complete and functional. This outcome would have bypassed the normally slow process of evolution as we know it. After all, the theory of evolution is what it is – a theory! But it is the best explanation yet available, especially for intra-species evolution; but needing to be enhanced by the concept of catastrophic mutation to account for the arrival of new viable species without any intermediate forms being identifiable.

A cosmic catastrophe can explain the Senmut Ceiling in one of the pyramids of Egypt which is said to show the sun rising in the West. The Great Deluge of ancient history, referred to in all cultural memories, is said to have wiped out more than 95% of all forms of life, and made barren most of Earth. There may have been more than one such deluge. Considering the busy traffic up in the heavens, it is surprising that great cosmic catastrophes are not more common.

… … … Should we concede that life forms occupying other planets in the universe that we are aware of are equivalent to modern man on Earth? Should we not see these extra-terrestrials as co-created with us? Are we then bonded to these although we have not met them as yet? Or, are some of them already with us? Could they be the wise men and women amongst us who have sought to guide us to a moral life?

… … … Are there other universes? But, what can one say about anything one doesn’t even know exists? That is the problem of knowledge. It is difficult enough to understand the nature of knowledge, and how one knows what one knows, a problem I have had since my boyhood. How then does one know what one does not know?

(The above are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’)

Occupants of other star systems

The current occupants of other star systems may provide evidence of the variability of form and substance potentially available in the Cosmos. Currently, we know that there are planets associated with other suns. It seems highly probable that intelligent life has evolved on some of these planets. The form and structure of such mobile life would surely reflect the physical conditions prevailing. Such life may be more advanced than we are, both morally and technologically. To seek to contact them through a most primitive technology, viz. radio waves, sounds supremely silly. Some of the most advanced extra-terrestrial forms may not wish to meet a species so underdeveloped as we might seem to be.

It has been suggested that the occupants of a watery planet associated with the 3-sun Sirius planetary system might have been involved in the development of ancient Egypt, which displayed such superior mathematical and construction ability of unknown provenance. More importantly, how did the Dogon people, now resident in Western Africa, come to know about the 3 suns of Sirius without the aid of technology? Has our development been facilitated by spacemen? Are we possibly the products of an insemination of homo sapiens, our alleged predecessor, by spacemen? The lack of scientific evidence does neither deny nor invalidate the likelihood of such a reality.

Against that, the scholar who wrote about the giants who ruled Earth claims that the Sumerian culture (in old Mesopotamia, now Iraq) was the first human civilisation established by the giants. This was followed by the civilisation of Egypt, and (later) another to the east of Sumer (location unknown), possibly in an area now within Iran. The massive building blocks (weighing tons) of the temples and other places of worship, or for observation of the heavens, in Central and South America, Egypt, and parts of the Middle East, suggest the builders were not mere mortals of the human kind, or were in possession of technologies now lost.

Confusingly, Cayce’s somnambulistic reports suggest that the refugees who fled the land of Atlantis (for the existence of which there is no evidence) were a progressively warlike and brutal people possessing advanced technologies. These enabled them to indulge in nuclear wars, using flying machines. When their home blew up and was subsequently inundated, they moved to Central and South America, Egypt and other parts of Europe, where they had passed on their skills. So said Cayce while seemingly in a trance. Strangely, some of the writings of India refer to flying machines (and how to build and operate them), and what seem to be nuclear weapons. Were they all myths or a reflection of reality?

(More extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’)

A wacky scenario for mankind

While the cosmic creation of humans is credible, it would be meaningless to ask about the origin of the Ocean of Consciousness and why it exists. Ultimately, any views about origins and the geometry and architecture of the Cosmos should have no impact on human life. For, we seem to be on our own trajectory of existence. Technologically clever humans may, in time, move home from one planet to another, probably by necessity. But could they, as a species, eventually avoid the ‘Big Crunch’ or a ‘night of Brahma,’ assuming that these are highly probable, although unsupported by evidence?

If not, is it not probable that the ‘human’ shells containing recycled souls might take different forms to suit the physical conditions prevailing in each new ‘day of Brahma’? Indeed, were each ‘day of Brahma’ to diverge from its predecessors because of the evolution of matter, would the human shells or bodies be constructed of substances varying from the substances prevailing in earlier ‘days of Brahma’? I find such wacky speculations fascinating.

Viewed realistically, the moral progress of human souls through the eons of time that would seem to be involved should not be impacted by the structure, shape and substance of the container, the human body. The panorama of this envisaged pathway of progress to our ultimate home makes a mockery of the doctrinal fluff upheld in vain by those who claim to guide us to an imagined Heaven.

There would seem to be a long road ahead for us. I hope to enjoy the journey, learning, learning, ultimately understanding what being a part of the Cosmos is all about.

(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society,’ now an ebook with Amazon, at $US 2.99)

A grand unified theory of cosmology?

Borrowing from concepts derived from attempts to achieve a grand unified theory in physics to explain the totality of the universe, especially the concept of ‘nested’ fields of force surrounding the smallest particles to the largest objects which interact with one another, could consciousness be seen as akin to a massive field of force comparable (say) to an electro-magnetic field?

I like the idea of a few evolved minds able to ‘perceive’ the Cosmos as it is, even if they are unable to tell us. I can believe that a Creator (not an anthropomorphic one shaped in the image of Man but perhaps an amorphous intelligence) did put out some form of energy, drawn from the Ocean of Consciousness, and that this had the capacity to evolve and to form extensions, forces, facilities, fields or what-have-you, all capable of evolving in their own respective ways – the process of evolution being variable too.

I can imagine the physicists’ nested fields of force having arisen from an Ocean of Consciousness; that Brahma (the Creator god) and we humans also arose from that Ocean; and that Brahman, the permeating essence of all existence, that basal amorphous intelligence, is that Ocean. I have obviously drawn this perception from my reading of the Upanishads.

And it comforts me because, while it seems complex, it is yet so simple. It makes sense to me. What I like best is that, within this framework, the major determinant of individual human life is free will. There is no need for an interventionist god who invariably fails to meet our expectations or hopes.

And I like the view that Brahman is not knowable ordinarily, but can be experienced only through deep meditation. Since Brahman is believed to be immanent in all creation, we need to look no further than inward (that is, within ourselves) for that experience. I need to be very, very patient through quite a few Earthly lives.

If Brahman, the essence of all that exists is within us, we humans are obviously bonded to one another. Ethical imperatives flow from this. One would then have to accept that sentient and other cosmic creations are also bonded to one another and to us.

(The above is an extract from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door’)

Perceiving Reality, but only through the mind

The Chandogya Upanishad says that the universe came forth from the unknowable Brahman, and will return to Brahman. Brahman is held to be the essence of all existence. Brahman is ever-existing, from whom everything emanates, and to whom everything returns. Brahman is Consciousness, immanent in all that is created; yet transcendent
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It is out of this Essence or Consciousness or Godhead that the Creator god Brahma, the one who experiences that day and night of existence, is said to have arisen. Brahma, the first of the Hindu gods, is thus merely a projection of Brahman. In terms of the cosmology, the other gods are not that significant, all the gods being manifestations of that universal cosmic essence, the unknowable Brahman.

The nuts and bolts of this cosmology is that something tangible (the Cosmos) is said to have come forth from something intangible, an essence or force beyond our descriptive capabilities. A repeating ‘Big Bang’ now sounds quite credible (pity about the ‘Big Crunch’). Brahma, the Hindu Creator, also seems equivalent to the super-force or super-mind proposed by some modern speculative cosmologists.

Since I am a metaphysical (non-ritualistic) Hindu in my current life, I naturally find this confluence of insightful perceptions by modern cosmologists and ancient Hindus satisfying. Of course, neither view validates the other. But each may light the way for the other.

It would seem that, ultimately, a seeker must experience (in Hindu metaphysical terms Self-realise) or apprehend, through deep meditation, a Reality beyond Earthly knowing, a Reality which cannot be described. It is beyond words. The ultimate reality is said to be Brahman.

The alternative to knowing what Earthly life is all about and our place in the universe, the methodology of science, is however clearly limited. It does offer a tentative or temporary certainty. Yet, with only five senses, their processor (the human brain) may not be able, ever, to perceive, through the scientific method, the deeper and exceedingly complex reality of the physical universe which cosmologists have conceived. In science, verifiability is essential. Where then?

Contradictorily, the Upanishads claim that the human mind is not conscious. It is only an instrument of consciousness, a seemingly all-pervasive phenomenon or facility. If so, could this amorphous consciousness enable some rare human minds to perceive the reality of the physical universe correctly, in spite of being unable to communicate this vision in a verifiable way?

(The above is an extract from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’ I assure readers, however, that I do not proselytise; I merely offer food for thought in a realm in which anything might be true.)

Shared explanations of the Cosmos?

I then sought to compare what the modern physicists were offering as new explanations of the Cosmos, with the Hindu perspective as I understand it. Surprise! Surprise! The concepts being presented by speculative cosmologists read as if they might have been coined by the Hindu philosophers of old.

What wondrous phrases came from the writings of some of the notable speculative cosmologists: a super mind; a cosmic mind; a universal mind; the collective conscious. Or, operating beyond the limits of space-time, an intelligent system of energy (or super-consciousness) can affect mankind’s space-time in such a free manner as to allow almost anything to happen! Or, consciousness may distort space and time by knocking ‘black holes’ in the bio-gravitational field that organises matter. Or, a single super-force could have brought the universe into being and equipped it with matter/energy, etc.

What fascinating concepts were being coined by these scientists: a cosmic, super, or universal mind; an intelligent system of energy; consciousness; a super-force. Where and how could these motive forces or influences have originated? But the concepts remain as speculative as do the propositions of Hinduism. Who were these Hindu philosophers? Extra-terrestrial beings?

(The above is a crucial extract from Chapter 10 ‘On the Cosmos’ in my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door’)

Om, the cosmic background?

Harking back to the Hubble Telescope’s observations, what if this movement away of every visible object from every other visible object is on such a small scale as to be insignificant on a wider screen? What if other matter, invisible matter, is filling the spaces left vacant? Are we trying to describe an elephant by looking only at its feet? If so, does not the leading foot move away from the other feet repeatedly as the animal walks?

The ‘Big Bang’ theory, initially claiming that something came out of nothing, then became associated with an assertion of a background cosmic hum. How strange! The Hindus had said, long before all this, that ‘Om’, the pacifier of the mind, the preliminary, as well as the adjunct, of poojahs and other religious ceremonies, reflects that cosmic hum which pervades everything and every event in the Cosmos.

Indeed, an extended Om does result in a vibratory hum in the back of one’s throat. Quaintly, there is a recent claim that Christianity converted ‘Om’ to the Aramaic ‘Amen,’ no doubt uttered with an extended hum at the end.

(This is an extract from Chapter 10 ‘On the Cosmos’ from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’)