Aborigines in the local community

It is very sad to hear the community at large talk about the Aborigines. There was an armed hold-up at the local service station and a very early question was: “Was the perpetrator black?” There was a break-in at the local shops and six youths were seen running away – four black and two white. Almost everyone, including the police, talked about the black kids. I asked what happened to the white ones. How was it they had become invisible?

Both white and black youth in a seaside fishing village are unemployed; yet an educated retirement community will cluck to one another about the lazy blacks who do not want to work. White migrants and Anglo-Celts hold similar views. Why not see the problem as a class problem (with young whites unwilling to work), instead of a problem of race (meaning colour) …

I walk through the small shopping area of this village and receive smiles and nods from those (Aboriginal and white) to whom I have served petrol, and sold cigarettes and the like in recent times. Some of the Aborigines drive into the service station in new cars and are well dressed. But I never see them on foot anywhere. I presume they work for Aboriginal organisations. Others arrive in old cars and are obviously not well off; they, too, are invariably courteous.

Yet, on some occasions, before I go out to serve them, I can hear some very rough language addressed to one another – but never in my presence. Infrequently, a very inebriated Aborigine has staggered into the shop and, on sighting me, immediately straightened his shoulders and spoken most courteously. On the street, if I am bumped by an Aborigine, or if I have to slow or step aside, the words I hear are, “Sorry, bro” or “Excuse me, brother”, and such like. I could not fault these people in their social conduct, but apparently some police can.

And, in this State, social conduct is not a crime. Yet ‘resisting arrest’, for use of language which allegedly ‘offends’ a policeman, is. Most of the Aboriginals we see are unemployed. An Aboriginal welfare worker told me that there are competent, educated, and trained people in the community. They cannot obtain work in the region in any capacity because, as my contact said, employers are racially prejudiced. Merit has no place where ignorance rules. And I used to think that I had experienced discrimination – little did I know.

… … there was a recent initiative for the community (meaning the whites) to foregather and learn about Aboriginal values. At the first meeting of seventeen people, organised by the local adult education committee of volunteers, including me, there was an Aboriginal lady present. She had been our guest at a literary lunch, when she had read her poetry to us. It was both beautiful and touching; her slim book had, however, to be published privately.

All the whites attending this reconciliation meeting were joined in their sympathy for the Aboriginal people, i.e. it was only the supporters of reconciliation there. Guided by the poetess and the notes provided by the State bureaucracy, they would have become better informed about the values of the Aborigines. They were also introduced to some of the other members of the local Aboriginal community. In the discussions, we were told that it was the women who made community decisions; that any support for the reconciliation process would have to come initially from the women.

(As the above extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ indicate clearly, in contrast to the broadly prevailing negative views of the indigenous population by Anglo-Celt Aussies, there are other well-meaning white people who wish them a better future. That the prejudiced speak freely in my company is intriguing; I also detect no negative views about me (that may be because of my substantial involvement in civil society). That competent Aboriginals had difficulty obtaining employment commensurate with their qualifications is deplorable.

Against that, how does one explain those vociferous supporters of economic migrants arriving by boat who, having torn up all identifying papers, seek asylum? Are they unable to see that their own black fellow-citizens could do with a helping hand?)

Glimpses of Black Australia

I found it interesting that one did not see Aboriginal faces in the streets and shops near the office in which they worked. A study in the mid-Eighties on the Aboriginal economy reported that Aborigines are not integrated into the mainstream economy, the labour force or the social life of the nation. Of the forty per cent of these people living in cities, unemployment was recently estimated to range from twenty-five per cent overall to seventy-five per cent for men in one state. It was ninety per cent for the youth in rural areas; twenty-two per cent never had a job. Most of the employed work for Aboriginal organisations or for government.

In my studies we were told that the brightest Aboriginal children would leave high school after a year or so, saying, “What’s the use?” That is, if their teachers were prepared to dispense with the usual stereotypes about these people; some actually did. On TV, the channel funded by the taxpayer would portray, every so often, the drunkenness and the inarticulate, broken-toothed rural Aborigine, thus confirming the racially prejudiced stereotype. However, this unbalanced presentation has now improved, displaying some very competent and articulate people. But they are not generally in mainstream organisations.

Behind the over-arching denial and deprivation, we (especially our children) have been educated about the Aborigines’ ‘dream-time’, their mythology, and their love and care for the land. There are beautiful books put out for the educated. There are books on Aboriginal culture, diet and art, including the works of Albert Namatjira, the desert painter. Namatjira is, however, not included in any compendium of great Australian artists, some of whose work does not seem to me to reflect Australian colours, and whose skill seems to be no greater than that of their black competitor. Amongst our young, there is a great sensitivity about Aboriginal mystic values. However, there is little mention of tribal or clan interdependencies, what these mean, and how they affect Australian society.

Recently, I met a young lass whose father is white. Her mother is Aborigine, i.e. part white, as most of the city ones are. She was brought up as a white and had little appreciation of the heritage of her mother’s people (so she said). At twenty, she became aware of the realities of Australian society, accepted her place in her ancestral tradition, studied it assiduously, and now teaches a mainstream community about Aboriginal culture. She is a very effective bridge between the cultures.

Another bridge of this kind was a police liaison officer. His story is typical of a black/white relationship. His father ran away with him into the desert when the police came to collect him. Presumably, he was to be assimilated – the policy which replaced genocide. He was intended to be ‘civilised’ by being taken into bondage. The father and the boy kept on the move to the extent that he missed out on an education. His role with the police was, I believe, a potentially useful one.

Yet some of the local police have told me that, because of current policy, their hands are tied in dealing with minor crime committed by Aboriginals (just as well!). … the police are becoming aware of the risk of jailing some of the young Aborigines, especially those who had been torn away from their families.

Indeed, the Royal Commission on Black Deaths in Custody apparently said that the destruction of Aboriginal families under the racist welfare policies of governments was tantamount to genocide. There have been suggestions in the press that police may have killed some blacks while in custody. It is certainly very probable in some rural areas that most blacks will end up in jail for the most trivial offences – like using language that everyone uses, …

(While the above extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ represent a recent historical past that no civilised person could be proud of, there has been a tidal change in perceptions and attitudes by politicians – but then who believes official statements of intent?

In the way that the oldest generation of Aussies had to die before the public life of Asian students became more comfortable in the 1950s, so the departure of the current oldest generation may help improve the attitudes of those who influence our politicians.)

My exposure to the Australian indigene

This was the Australia into which I was dropped in the late Forties. I knew nothing about the Aborigine. The first one I saw was being hit on the head with a truncheon by a well-fed policeman in Melbourne. The subject of this friendly persuasion was intoxicated. In those days anyone appearing to be drunk was thrown into a paddy-wagon with some force and taken away. (This may be happening in some country towns today.) I also saw Aborigines harassed by the police in Sydney and Brisbane in my first two years in Australia. It did not give me much confidence in my own safety.

In the next few years, I did not see one coloured person who looked as if he had Aboriginal blood, even when I went into a number of small country towns. There were Aboriginal names all over the country, but none of the people whose culture was being remembered in street names and townships was visible. It was like that in New Zealand some two years later. No person of Maori (or Pacific Islander) descent was visible in city centres, although Maori place-names were plentiful. Only on the edge of each town did one see the coloured citizens of Australia’s sister nation, usually at work on menial tasks such as street sweeping. Yet, in Australia, the Aborigine was (and is) not seen in any occupation in ‘public places’.

It was only when I took a boat from Fremantle, on the west coast of Australia, to Singapore that I saw Aborigines at work. These were stockmen driving fierce-looking cattle on board. Later, in one of the tiny townships, I saw a couple of Aborigines walking, at a distance; none were in town, even at a pub. Reportedly, Aboriginal stockmen were unpaid labour … it was many years later that they were awarded a wage. This may not have benefited them much – I read that their ‘minders’ received these wages and accounted for them.

It was in the late Fifties that I actually met an Aborigine. At a bar near my work, there was a pleasant-looking brown-skinned young man, looking quite European in features. After saying hello to each other (we brownskins have a tendency to greet other brownskins without any formal introductions), he asked me “what colour” I was. It took me a while to understand the question. I then explained that I was an immigrant. We chatted for a while. As he was in workman’s overalls, I presumed that he worked nearby. I was not to meet or see another Aboriginal for a few more years.

When my public speaking organisation established a new club near the Aboriginal Affairs agency, I invited its all-white senior management to encourage their staff to join our new club. Our training would enhance their competence and confidence, I promised. Nothing came of it. So, I rang the most senior Aboriginal officer in the agency (in a junior position, naturally). He explained that his people lacked the confidence to join our club. I then offered to help his people establish a speaking club, for Aborigines only, within his agency. We would provide expert advisers at request; they would run the club themselves. No, they did not want that either. Were they all that good that a little effort and free training could be so turned down?

I then met the allegedly first Aboriginal university graduate. He was a guest speaker at a meeting of university graduates. He spoke eloquently and with feeling about his people being entitled and enabled to determine their own destiny; that they should be financially empowered to do so; and that, in time, they would overcome their expected initial difficulties, waste and any inefficiencies, and become adequately accountable. He received a standing ovation.

Years later, having jumped a few of the normal career steps, he was head of the Aboriginal Affairs agency. He was the only senior Aborigine there. I was interviewed by him, and I sensed early in the interview that he had changed, and that my approach did not tally with his; and that was that.

(The above extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ depict an Australia long before a number of able people of Aboriginal descent found their place in the sunshine. Having read Myrdahl on the relationship between the whites of the USA and their coloured compatriots, I was not surprised at what I saw, the comments I heard in public, and my reading of the canvas painted by eminent experts on the way the Australian Aborigine had been (and was being) treated by officialdom. It was White Australia, was it not?

There has been a lot of political puffery about what needs to be done, and a great deal of money seemingly wasted. Any achievements by the indigenes, like those of other non-white Australians, would have been self-directed and self-driven. Hopefully, justice awaits, just around the corner.)

The Dreamtime – Quo Vadis?

There is a Third World black nation, co-existing but only just, within white Australia. The White Australia immigration policy was finally heaved overboard with great fanfare, officially in the early 1970s; yet its generic roots remain embedded in the roots of Australian attitudes and social policies. Indeed, it is the rooting by white men which is responsible for the plight of the Aboriginal population.

The heritage of these people is of being rooted and dispossessed, or is it the other way round? Despite the political rhetoric about ‘compacts’ and reconciliation, this heritage includes being disowned socially and economically. From the very first contracts with British colonisers, the Aboriginal people were rooted out of their land, with which they had lived in harmony for thousands of years; their women were rooted, if not killed; resulting offspring were rooted out of their homes and communities, and offered assimilation in the role of slaves in white homes. The people who survived ethnic cleansing, which was carried out systematically (occasionally sneakily), became slaves on pastoral properties or were herded into reserves located on unwanted, unproductive land (following US practice with its ‘Red’ Indians).

The founders of this nation were like the founders of the USA; they had the gun and the Good Book in their hands, and greed and lust in their eyes and loins. They took what they wanted, chanting ‘Terra Nullius’ with each step they took. … And men of the cloth apparently blessed this physical and cultural genocide. Greed overcame the recorded objections to this practice from fair-minded and knowledgeable people in the UK, who asserted that the Aboriginals had indeed ‘occupied’ the land. … Some say that this is why a highwayman is a national icon in Australia.

Even in the early 1960s, an Aboriginal community was forcibly removed from land wanted by the mining industry. This industry, mainly foreign owned, has received (at least, to date) some credit for successfully preventing any form of justice to the Aborigines in relation to land rights and other forms of national reconciliation. … The pastoral interests are closely behind the miners in their opposition to justice for blacks, claiming that a (government) lease (of pastoral land) equals freehold (wouldn’t that be lovely for the rest of us?). So Australian governments genuflect in the face of export dollars and the power of foreign investors, and justice can go to hell. What does one say about a woman who asks the man who repeatedly rapes her not to leave her, because she would then lose the replacement underwear he regularly provides her; that she worries too much about the draught?

… … Historically, both pastoralists and miners were not alone in pretending that the Aboriginal was not human or was an inferior pre-human. Convicts from Britain (including many of Irish extraction), the priests and the politicians, all collaborated with the pastoralists and miners in their cultural imperialism and sexual exploitation. Shooting and poisoning were normal means of clearing the land. Yet the Aboriginal people did not disappear from the face of their land …

… … Thus after two centuries of the white man’s benevolence, the black people were, in the main, landless, almost cultureless, almost tribeless, nearly family-less, stateless (denied citizenship). They were also denied a vote, personal dignity, legal rights, pride, self-respect, education, a place they could safely call their own, freedom, gender equality, class equality, ethnic equality, a share of the largesse of multiculturalism policies, an opportunity to better themselves, hope and, in heir marginalised places of living, limited to no health care, sanitation, water, and freedom from fear of further dispossession, harassment, or incarceration. …

(As my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out’ was written in 1995, from which these extracts were drawn, it reflects the historical record of Australia (not one to be proud of). Is it any different from the history of the First Peoples, the indigenes of the Americas? Did not the despoliation of the pre-invasion rights and associated cultural practices in these two continents continue well into the twentieth century?

Whenever I read about Western nations (including the former colonial ‘powers’) preaching to developing (emerging?) or materially less-developed peoples everywhere about freedom, human rights, property rights (that too), and democratic structures of governance, I keep wondering when they will begin to practice what they enjoy preaching.

This situation also reminds me of those missionaries accompanying the invaders who successfully converted to Christianity some of the ‘natives’ at the lowest socio-economic levels, but provided them with no material benefit from being clutched to the bosom of Christ – for whom I have the greatest of respect.)

Benefits from other forms of spiritual healing

I also took my wife to see the healers who had improved my knees and legs. Early in the session she was asked, “What happened to the baby? I sense a baby here.” Dear me, that was a shock! We had lost our first boy on the day he was born. A few minutes later the healer said, “I sense another two spirits – twins. All three need to be despatched.” These were my wife’s next pregnancy, with premature birth and again death. The “dear ones” were duly ‘despatched,’ and my wife and I have not grieved as much since as we did for thirty years.

How does one cope with such psychic experiences? We simply accepted them, now knowing that there is more to life and death than we ever knew or than is taught to us. “…when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” says a writer. These healers certainly were most helpful.

Curiosity again took me to see two Filipino healers. One ‘massaged’ me and said that better health would result from the application of my belief in the Creator’s ability to work with me on the cure I sought. It was a form of faith healing but the faith was in the Creator working through the healer. That seemed reasonable.

The other member of the team ‘operates’ by using his fingers. I have neither seen nor experienced this. But I have seen photos of his operation on someone I know, and she did benefit substantially from the treatment. Her friends, whom I also know, watched the whole process and took photographs for information.

Similarly, my Chinese Aussie GP and a group of fellow medical practitioner sceptics came back from the Philippines with a video record of what they had seen; a thumbnail healer operating. They saw it and could not believe it. On the contrary, another Aussie GP friend watched his wife’s ‘operation’, then had treatment himself. He accepts what he experienced, but he cannot explain it.

If we cannot explain the mechanism or the process underlying an event, then the event cannot have occurred, is what we are told repeatedly (even if the event did occur). Yet, strangely enough, we accept something called the mind, but cannot demonstrate what or where it is, nor the mechanism whereby my mind tells me to pick up a glass of drink successfully.

Psychic phenomena attract without regard to ethnicity or cultural background. They also bring the Westerner closer to the Easterner in adopting the less materialistic and the more freedom-oriented view of existence. The bottom line for me is that one of the gurus I consulted advised that those seeking spiritual enlightenment should not allow themselves to be deflected by psychic phenomena, however interesting that might be. Apart from which, there is a relevant question one needs to answer. If one can cope with the information acquired through psychic competence, how does one use it?

Those Christians I met, who had fallen off the straight path of their faith and had relinquished the security of salvation they had been born into, and were now looking for explanations for the nasty things in life which had afflicted them, but without relying on the unsatisfying mantra, “It’s God’s Will.” Inevitably, they were drawn to reincarnation and its consequences. Some became Buddhist, others took up other forms of Christianity which seemingly permitted them also to believe in the laws of karma, and yet others took to the New Age platform. Many of these New Agers were influenced, in an extraordinary way, by US-based gurus who simply know what is, and therefore, what these seekers need to do. The authority of the vendors of these ‘truths’ is matched by the uncritical acceptance of the recipient who (so often) then authoritatively bludgeons anyone slow enough to be ear-holed. As Emerson said, “The faith that stands on authority is not faith.”

(The universe of undeniable personal psychic experiences, and other manifestations or occurrences indicating paranormal activity, have not been adequately explained. I believe that the above extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ bring that out.

Denying that they happen is ridiculously foolish. In any event, Russian scientists have long been believed to be investigating such matters. New forms of reference will no doubt evolve gradually, in the way that Lamarkian inheritance of acquired characteristics may become acceptable, as will epigenesis, a phenomenon which seemingly bypasses the genetic pathway.

The physical world is as wondrous as is the human mind. And when one considers the Hindu view that the mind is only an instrument of Consciousness, one can only hope that Mankind will not be held back, as it was over recent centuries, by the claimed infallibility of necessarily temporary experts.)

Of spiritual and past-life healing

I have subsequently spoken, at a social level, with the mediumistic clairvoyant. It is clear that he is clairvoyant. In the middle of afternoon tea, he suddenly said, “What happened to the twin girls? I can sense them.” He also told me that he now had the ability to obtain advice from all manner of spirits. How could I or anyone else refute that? In one instance a recently expired Australian medical specialist proffered advice to assist one of the MC’s clients. I consider the clairvoyant a very fortunate man, well worth knowing.

Then I met a couple of healers. I only went to ask about their approach. At their invitation to try a healing, I accepted. First, they cleared my aura of spirits which had attached themselves to it; they spoke nicely to the spirits and asked them to move on to their normal destination. Then they aligned my chakras, using a crystal. Then the lady suddenly appeared to be communing with someone; a little later, she said that she had received a picture from one of my past lives.

Now, I was not sure about all these spirits attaching themselves to auras, but I had no trouble with chakras (which are apparently vortices of energy). However, normally, past life perceptions are experienced by the clients of psychiatrists, counsellors and healers, and are used to assist the process of healing. For the healer to see a past life of a client was most unusual.

Anyway, my current healers (who did not take any money for their assistance) acted on the vision that one of them had, and my knees have not ached anymore. And I had not mentioned my knees at all. At the next session, another past life view, another treatment, and my legs stopped aching. And I had not mentioned my legs either. The next time, I asked for help with my spine – there were no past life pictures, but I was promised that a cure was in train, through the medium of ‘past masters’. But I was counselled that my spinal problem might be a karmic one.

The evidence for past life experiences comes from the psychiatrist’s couch, apparently from half a dozen practitioners covering more than twenty thousand cases. One writer even quoted a psychiatrist’s report of life between incarnations on earth. That is, these psychiatrists reported their clients’ memories under hypnosis. But I find curious that the imagery reported is uniformly of a Judeo-Christian kind. This is similar to the reports of out-of-body experiences and near-death cases.

I also find strange references to Akashic records, self-improvement programmes and such like. These seem to have originated in the US. Whence did these writers obtain their insight? From the psychic experiences of others? How reliable are these? Did these people draw upon some basic Hindu/Buddhist framework and add on the empowerment bits for today’s seekers? Or did the Egyptians and other early civilisations leave us this information? If so, where and in what form?

(Since placebos have been shown to be effective in medical treatment, the above extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ may be acceptable as indicating that relief from pain can be achieved in some situations through the intervention of the clairvoyant.

Such a benefit may indeed reflect an access by the clairvoyant to a spirit healer. The healer may provide a past-life picture normally unavailable to mere mortals, or simply offer relevant advice based on previous knowledge acquired on Earth. Who can deny this with certainty?

Are reports of past lives obtained under hypnosis reliable? Are writings referring to Akashic records acceptable as explaining one’s past? Yet, psychiatrists and other counsellors have demonstrated that many psychological problems brought to them by clients can be moderated or even dissipated by the clients accepting a framework of explanation offered to them. The human mind is a wondrous instrument.)

The challenge of clairvoyants communicating with spirits

Having recently read a compendium bringing together the developments in each of the areas of parapsychology, I sought direct experience, but on the basis of reports from reliable friends. For a small fee I consulted a clairvoyant. Before I could say anything she started to doodle and told me about me and my family. She told me about something that only I knew about. I was impressed. Then she told me as fact something that I had thought might be true but not highly probable. That suggested to me that she could read my mind. So I asked her about the future. Three of her predictions have now turned out to be true.

I then consulted a mediumistic clairvoyant. I had no questions for him. I only wanted to see what he did. Before I could say anything, he said that he had a spirit present, and that the spirit claimed to be an uncle of mine who had passed over to the other side many years ago. I did not know what to say. I had no knowledge or experience of returning spirits or contact with them. In my understanding, our post-funeral ceremony was to despatch the departed soul to its destination (wherever or whatever that was) and to ask the sun to bear witness. What was I to do?

I identified the spirit as my number one uncle, who had influenced me so much. The MC listened to the spirit and passed on the comments to me. Eventually, having accepted the spirit as my uncle, I was told certain things about my past and my present, by both my uncle and the MC’s spiritual guide. They were accurate. The major matter my uncle referred to occurred after his death. Some commentary from the MC’s guide was indeed not particularly flattering but it was part of a message about my future.

Actually, the MC could see events in my future and his guide provided the commentary. My uncle offered advice as to my future spiritual growth. At one stage, I said something to the MC, and my uncle responded through the MC. That was a jolt. It seemed that my uncle could hear me, while I could not see him. Philosophically and metaphysically, that experience left me high and dry. And the MC’s vision, as regards my future, was consistent with that of the earlier clairvoyant.

Soon after, while I was visiting my clan in Malaysia and Singapore, I read every day for weeks, seeking answers to two questions: what is the Hindu view of reality, and is it possible to communicate with a spirit? Eventually, a guru told me that the answer to the second question was yes, but to exercise discretion in the way I used any information that I thought I had received. My aunt (who was alive then) agreed that I accept the spirit as my uncle.

The answer to the first question, I guess, is not one which can be spoken of, for it is said that those who tell do not know, and those who know cannot tell. Refer J. Krishnamurti in ‘Commentaries on living’.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ tell of processes which are challenging. The soul or spirit of a dead person did manifest itself and communicate with a living person. But, the spirit has no substance; therefore has no brain (and no ears). How does the spirit hear, or receive thoughts, and convey thoughts? As well, my uncle’s spirit conveyed memories of events I shared with him, and also ‘spoke’ of events which had occurred after his death.

He also referred to ‘higher spirits’ who had sent him to counsel me; and how they had felt that he is the one I was most likely to accept; this means that they know about my sceptical approach to life. He also mentioned that (in the words of the clairvoyant) the spirit world had experienced some difficulty in getting me to Australia.

It was all too weird for me! More importantly, 12 years later, I addressed a class of university students about the bilateral culture shocks caused by the sudden arrival of significant numbers of young educated Asian students in whiter than white Australia. When the clairvoyant had told me, in the presence of my uncle, that he could see me addressing some young people, I had ignored the matter as unlikely.

I now accept that the future can be read; but what determines that future? That is, what mechanism sets in train events for the future?

Then, confusingly, while the universe which we humans perceive may be neither real nor unreal, that is, as maya, it seems to offer both precision and prediction. Ah, the mystery of existence!)

Confusing yet challenging lessons from parapsychology

I became interested in parapsychology and psychic phenomena when I was studying psychology. The annals of parapsychology were housed next to the annals of philosophy and the books I sought. So I read my way through a lot of what was there. I noticed that in the annals of philosophy there were contributions from Fellows of the Royal Society of the UK who had attained great competence in fields of science; yet in these contributions they had transcended their own areas of expertise. This was illuminating. My reading of parapsychology touched a chord from my limited experience and my cultural background.

People who could tell one’s future (not always reliably), or see things which were lost (thus helping recovery, generally with great accuracy) were fairly commonplace in our background. The reading of horoscopes, based on the minute of one’s birth, was taken for granted; since these readings referred to probabilities based on the strength of various planetary influences, precision was not expected. People who read the future were often wandering yogis, who seemed to have the greater credibility by virtue of their chosen path. There were palmists of varying accuracy. They and the seers could be anyone. Horoscope casting seemed to be the province of experts. Occasionally, a serious amateur might have a go, as did one of my early neighbours. Clairvoyants in suburbia, however, were not within our experience.

Yet, at eighteen, I saw my father dead, lying on a particular bed (which he never used) and covered with a sheet. A week later, that was exactly how he was, having died suddenly. I did not like the experience and did not want any more like that.

A few years earlier, I had seen what appeared to be levitation – a man on a mattress had together risen off the ground. I knew that it could not happen. I also knew that I had seen it. I therefore did not talk about it. In Melbourne, in the late Forties, two of us had seen something move in the sky in a manner that simply was not possible, unless it was a spaceship. Again, I did not speak of it. Who would believe it?

In between my father’s death and my observation of the object in the sky, I had experienced something very frightening – but I do not believe that it was clairvoyance. I was so ill with dengue fever that no one could touch my bed without causing me terrible pain. One day, I saw myself up above my bed, with my body laid out and covered by a sheet. As my father was in a similar presentation next to me, I remember becoming very fearful and breaking out in a sweat, which actually wet the bed. I recovered thereafter. That was probably a nightmare, by day.

Then there were those two men. The yogi subsequently turned out to be accurate. The other man, who saw me in my mother’s house with him there, was obviously in tune with the future too. So the future seemed to be there waiting to be read, and had been read accurately. What price any individual effort to choose one’s destiny?

More than thirty years later, I was seeking spiritual development, somewhat seriously, trying to know or understand, both by reading and by meditation. At the same time, I set out to understand the cosmology being purveyed by those men of science, the physicists. I was pleasantly surprised to see a convergence and (sometimes) congruence in the semantics involved; the scientists read like the mystics, and were becoming a little incomprehensible like the mystics, with the big difference that mathematical modelling had replaced mystical experiences.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ touch upon the vast arena of psychic phenomena which have been well documented by reliable researchers. Attempts to discount reliably recorded experiences are common. The basis of such scepticism? “Where is the proof?” Well, how does one obtain proof of an intuitive insight? What are the sceptics afraid of? Don’t they also know the limits of the scientific method?

We are then offered explanations which are clearly simplistic. For instance ‘punctuated equilibrium’ is the term offered to explain the sudden arrival of fully formed new species; the supposed pathway for this occurring is unconvincing guesswork, intended to deny anything beyond (tentatively) agreed conclusions about the physical world. That cosmic catastrophes might be the cause obviously cannot be accepted. Why not?

The history of science is replete with the damage done to learning by experts who will not discard or even modify their beliefs; most knowledge is no more than temporarily-held belief. That is how progress is achieved. An open mind will allow us to explore what might be available for humans to know, assuming that we not looking into a hologram!)

A toe in the waters of psychic phenomena

Psychic experiences are incredible. But few people are willing to accept any experiences you present to them. But there is bound to be someone who professes willingness to accept your experience. Unfortunately, this willingness is very likely to rebound on you with a deeply held explanation as to what it is all about. The phraseology of explanation is very much of the school of the “New Age”.

The pundits of the New Age persuasion are full of empowerment – at a price. “Put your money down at one of my courses – and I will introduce you to the mysteries of the universe. Put more money down at follow-up courses – and you will be enlightened.” Having attended a few courses, the enlightened one goes off to empower others – for a price, of course. …. But I do not claim that all New Age teachers are in just for a buck.

In the past decade, I have met a large number of New Agers. Most seemed to have belonged once to the Catholic church; the reasons given by them for their disengagement from their faith of birth are their need for both personal and spiritual growth, and without the rigidity of form imposed on them. Belief in a cycle of rebirth provides them with that sense of freedom which they feel permits them to take responsibility for themselves. They are obviously right in this. It is not all “God’s will”, as they had been led to believe.

The search which led them away from the comfort of their original faith almost inevitably takes them through the jungle of psychic phenomena, the entrancement of which can be fogged by the spindrift created by a flotilla of witch-doctors and spin-doctors. In addition to the amateur but open-palmed guides who have ‘done’ courses, there are some very impressive performers. In between are many who seem able to capture, within the dross they purvey, a form of reality beyond the capacity of most of us. The Hindus are, however, advised by their gurus not to be side-tracked during their search for the Self by any psychic skills they might acquire en route.

Those who believe in psychic phenomena include educated but open-minded people, as well as those who will jump on to any form of cart as long as it appears exotic. The former realise only too vividly how limited man’s knowledge is. Relying only on five senses, not withstanding the high-technology paraphernalia attached to them through developments in scientific instrumentation, how could we be certain that we perceive all that there is in the universe? Even if we accept seven sense (or information-related) organs, including the brain, which helps to select relevant information input through the five senses and to store it, and the mind (seemingly located everywhere and nowhere), which rearranges the available information into meaning or understanding, and possible action, what else is there that we are not able to perceive?

For example, scientists tell us that only ten per cent of the matter in the known universe is visible to us. They also talk of other universes that we cannot know – in a scientific sense. Then there are references to ‘singularities’, ‘black holes’, ‘worm holes’, ‘strings’, and ‘order’ and ‘purpose’ evolving with complexity; the universe, as we know it, is described as a three-dimensional projection (like a hologram) of a multi-dimensional reality. Each universe is a ripple, created, as a singularity, out of the ocean of consciousness, to be diffused later back into this ocean.

No wonder the ancient philosophers, both in the East and in the West, talked about life, or reality as we know it, being an illusion. We certainly cannot perceive it all. Were a non-scientist to talk like this, he would be considered as barmy as the crackpots of pseudo-science. Yet, what is one to make of etheric and subtle bodies, life and vital forces, auras and chakras?

(Contrary to any implication from these extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ that I decry the New Age approach to explaining Man’s place in the universe, I point out that I am equally sceptical about claims by scientists about, say, evolution, or the origin or structure of the Cosmos; I am even more sceptical about the palm-readers, horoscope-casters, and perambulating ‘gurus’ of my youth.

My psychic experiences are real to me, as real as might be the psychic events experienced by those claiming to have seen my future; but how could I be certain that those claims reflect ‘reality’?

Apart from being a human being (with all the limitations of that condition) existing within something akin to a hologram representing a reality beyond Earthly comprehension, how can I be certain that any experience of mine of a psychic configuration is real? Think not of Plato but of the Hindu’s Maya.)

The bottom line in religiosity

Census data show that most Australians claim a link with a religion. The majority are Christians, with the largest fraction (a little under thirty per cent) being Catholic. The next fraction lumps all the rest as Protestants (these lost the prime spot over the last decade or so, thanks to immigration, primarily). Then there are Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and followers of Yoga and Sai Baba (many of these are Christian too), and others. The bulk of the Buddhists may be white Aussies, as are most of the members of the Yoga and Sai Baba groups. Attendance at regular prayer meetings would appear to be in inverse order to the extent of community support …

Non-attendance at a prayer meeting is, of course, no measure of a person’s spirituality. Spirituality can be reflected in acts of charity (or aid) … When my wife spearheaded collections for overseas disasters in our local schools the response was impressive. When I worked for an overseas aid organisation, I saw not only an increasing awareness of Australia’s willingness to assist those in such terrible need overseas, but also an encouraging shift within the community support groups – the middle class gradually giving way to students and other lower-income groups.

Spirituality is essentially a reverence for our Creator and respect for his creations. When articulated, formalised and institutionalised, it becomes religiosity, and is reflected in religious observances. One can reject religious practices and overt conformity because the institution is seen as irrelevant … or not acceptable. … (reportedly) the head of the Australian Catholic Church refused to participate in a commemorative ANZAC ceremony recently because he was not granted precedence …

Of course, there were no headlines about this in the local press (there were in New Zealand), unlike the gossipy, opinion-forming ones associated with politics. When academics write learnedly of aspects of Australian culture, there is little or no reference to the culture of control (whether by priests or by foreigners); or the culture of containing free speech and free association. They would rather write on such important matters as festivals, changes in workplace cultures, the multiculturalism of soccer clubs, and such like. There is also little reference to the culture of conflict based on faith (and ethnic origins) … they should pay attention to Jefferson’s “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Giving away religious practices does not in the least indicate a diminution of spirituality. I doubt if the Dutch or the Aussies are less spiritual than they used to be because they attend church less or are less fecund. The Aussie young, … are already leading the way to spiritual independence. Geographical boundaries, differences in ethnic origins, skin colour, accents, and cultural (including religious) practices are relatively irrelevant to increasing numbers of young Aussies, who have grown up with an increasing cultural diversity in their immediate background – as in Malaysia and Singapore. The melting-pot is taking effect.

One would expect, as the Upanishads say, that priests would offer a selfless service and not participate in petty power play. One might also recall Bishop Fulton Sheen’s comment that hundreds of millions of the poor “would gladly take the vow of poverty if they could eat, dress, and have a home like myself and many of those who profess the vow of poverty.” I would say, borrowing from Roosevelt, “beware of that small group of egoist men who would clip the wings of the Creator in order to feather their own nest.”

In time, there should be a majority of independent spiritual people in Australia. Priestly divide-and-rule policies and practices will be challenged and changed. History has already shown how powerful leaders, empires and colonies have withered away. Vast areas of earth have been subject to changes in faith. No faith, no imperialistic nation, no leader, can claim a monopoly for long; ask the Indians, the Chinese, Persians, the Turkic peoples, the Mongols, and the European powers of yesteryear.

Freedom has a habit of resurgence. “Go, see on the Tablet how the Master of Fate has written what will be, before time began” (Khayyám).

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out,’ especially the last sentence above, say it all. My intention in writing as I have is to speak of freedom, of the ‘brotherhood’ – no gender implications – of Mankind, and the bonds of co-creation, in the name of our Creator. The moral purification of our souls, our essential selves, through time, requires free will.)