Did colonialism make Aborigines nomadic?

Was the Australian Aborigine made nomadic? A most illuminative book by Bruce Pascoe ‘Dark Emu Black Seeds: agriculture or accident?’ suggests to me that British invaders of Australia, in their respective roles as explorers and settlers, forced the indigenes into a nomadic life. When the British drove away the Aboriginal people from their land by shooting or poisoning them (so it has been written), destroying their life chances, as well as their culture and lifestyle, where could the indigene go? How could they survive?

The imagined terra nullius of Australia and North America led to the despoliation of the First Nation peoples of these lands. They could not have been settled, could they? They had to be nomadic, owning no land!

The back cover of Pascoe’s book says: “Pascoe puts forward a compelling argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.”

Pascoe is quoted on the back cover thus: “If we look at the evidence presented to us by the explorers and explain to our children that Aboriginal people did build houses, did build dams, did sow, irrigate and till the land, did alter the course of rivers, did sew their clothes, and did construct a system of pan-continental government that generated peace and prosperity, then it is likely that we will admire and love our land all the more.”

A reviewer (Lisa Hill) wrote “In 156 pages, Pascoe has inverted almost everything I thought I knew about pre-colonial Australia. Importantly, he is not relying on oral history, which runs the risk of being too easily debunked; his sources are the journals of notable explorers and surveyors, of pastoralists and protectors. He quotes them verbatim, describing all the signs of a complete civilisation but viewed through the blinkered lens of appropriation and White superiority.

As a matter of interest, during a brief but bitter historiography war in Australia in recent times, a strident effort was made to play down oral history. Why? Without being tested through the adversarial processes of an Australian court, oral statements about the past could have no credibility. So, there go the Old Testament and any other artefacts of culture.

Pascoe’s work was preceded by the renowned Dr. Coombs. The following is an extract from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ Chapter 3 ‘To have a dream.’

“ A few years after the initial ‘discovery’ by Captain Cook, it was apparently known that the indigenes not only occupied the land and used it with economic purpose, but also (according to the highly respected Dr.Coombs) “… lived in clan or tribal groups, that each group had a homeland with known boundaries, and that they took their name from their district, and rarely moved outside it.” It was also known that they had, and applied, firm rules about trespass, kinship ties, marriage, child rearing and other matters, the hallmarks of an organised society; that they had a “habit of obedience” to their rulers and leaders, a hallmark of a political society; and that they had an ordered ceremonial life, reflecting the sharing of a spiritual vision, a hallmark of a civilisation. Apparently, they also had their own zodiac, which guided their activities. Their artistic records are also well known and respected.”

Sadly, government after government talked about ‘Bridging the gap,’ with no discernible improvement in the plight of their First Nation people (except for a handful of urban Aborigines, who seemed to have made good progress through personal effort). Quo vadis?

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Does Consciousness explain Reality?

My experience of Reality is three-fold: physical, mental, and ephemeral. Relatively few humans are likely to have had exposure to the ephemeral (spiritual) realm. This realm is both exciting and confusing.

Among the multiple facets of the inter-connections between these 3 realms is this issue: Is there an over-arching, all-encompassing, dimension into which all these 3 realms fit? Notwithstanding the apparently challengeable conclusion from the Michelson-Morley experiment (a very long time ago), is there something referred to as the aether which could provide an operational basis for illuminating these 3 realms operating in unison?

Interestingly, there are a number of scientists researching the aether. They are obviously working beyond the prevailing explanatory paradigms of science. I hasten to add that I accept the usefulness and reliability of the scientific method. However, it is necessarily limited to the mechanistic material realm of experience. It may, however, be useful in illuminating the mental realm – or parts thereof. It could not, under any circumstances, assist in perusing the mysteries of the spiritual realm. Beware (as someone wrote) vivisecting the songbird to identify the source of its trill.

My question about an over-arching dimension arose from my reading of Easwaran’s translation of the core Upanishads. Hinduism’s Upanishads offer a view of Reality through spirituality – not available at an equivalent depth from other religions. This is not surprising in view of its distant origins in time. The Vedas, their precursor, seemingly originated about 7,000 BC (dated by tracing a unique planetary configuration).

Hindu cosmology is complex, and allegedly inherited (but that is a separate issue). Human history before the Universal Flood (of about 11,000 BC) is uncertain – possibly covered in mud.

The relevance here of Hindu cosmology is the concept of Consciousness, and its role. Consciousness is posited as ever-existing, all-embracing, all-pervasive – like the aether. It is an un-caused First Cause.

In relation to my posts about the mind and the human soul, were our minds and souls to exist outside our bodies in some ephemeral (cloud) form (like information on the Internet), could they not be associated with (linked to, or part of) an all-pervasive Consciousness?

Furthermore, since everything in the Cosmos appears to be inter-connected, could that be explained by an all-embracing Consciousness (like a gossamer blanket which covers everything)?

Thus, the physical, mental and ephemeral realms of my experience may represent my awareness of a 3-tiered Reality reflecting an ever-existing Consciousness. That is, could Consciousness create and sustain all that is, in spite of not being adequately explicable to humans?

(Disclaimer: In this life I am a Hindu. In my previous life it appears that I have been a Muslim in Central Asia. Way deep in me is a memory of being a Jew in the Middle East. I have also been a Christian. As a free-thinker, I merely seek understanding of the place of humanity in the Universe. I have no axe to grind. My tentative beliefs and speculations are just what they are.)

 

What of the Afterlife?

First, what is the Afterlife? It is an assumed locale for the departing souls (spirits) from Earth. It may be the Heaven mentioned in certain religious documents. It would certainly not be the hell(s) imagined by those who seek to induce better moral behaviour on Earth by frightening their religious followers.

My first clairvoyant surprised me by saying of what he referred to as the ‘Other Side’, “It is not that different from here; and you will not meet God.” As a metaphysical Hindu believing in the reality of the reincarnation process (for the existence of which there is plenty of evidence), I view the Afterlife as an R & R Depot or a Way Station. It would give me a break from the hell of Earthly lives – like walking on a bed of hot coals to get to a grassy patch; and then repeating the process again and again.

Were one to be lucky to have a broadly programmed path of a personal destiny (as I am able to claim), then one may seek to learn (and understand), while in the Afterlife, the significance of human life on Earth, of Man’s place in the Cosmos, and what the Cosmos might be all about. I have been promised that I can continue my learning in the Afterlife. I do like that.

I must admit to having been pre-occupied in recent years (with Death patiently awaiting) with thoughts such as : where is this Afterlife located?; insubstantial entities will not need an environment of substance; I do not want to be involved with other spirits in the way this happens on Earth; and how will I be able to acquire the learning I seek?; and so on.

Then, I had a strange dream recently. I was in a physical environment of my liking (the details do not matter here) in what I felt is the Afterlife. I heard human voices in the distance, but no one came into view. Peace prevailed. As in my present reclusive life. This life was imposed upon me, but it is acceptable as consistent with the guidance offered by Hinduism. Hinduism recommends that, once one has completed one’s commitments to family and society, one could withdraw from society to live a life of contemplation and meditation.

For example, a cave in the Himalayan mountains had been the meditation home for 3 years of the yogi who had come down to Malaya to guide my widowed mother and I about our respective futures. Years later, when I detected a coherent pattern in my life, I wondered whether he had been sent to us. I remember that he was clearly at peace, and apparently unaffected by the cold of the mountain.

In my more comfortable retirement ‘cave’ I too have achieved peace (after a turbulent life). While the dogs do bark (and snap), this caravan will move on, ignoring those who foolishly insist that only their beliefs mist prevail. Certainty is, in my experience, not a human condition.

The message I received through my dream about the Afterlife is that spirits create their own environment in the Afterlife; and that any contact with other spirits can only be on a mutually-agreed basis. My spirit guide may have been responsible for this message. Strangely, I read about a similar perception at about that time. This coincides with scientist Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of ‘morphic resonance’ – “a process that involves action at a distance in both space and time.”

For ex ample, discovery by one person can be followed by comparable or similar discoveries by others, without any contact between them. I instance the way birds began to open the tops of milk bottles all over the world near-simultaneously.

I know from my real experiences that the Afterlife is nearby (therefore in an interacting dimension), and that it is the residence of spirits such as my uncle and those he referred to as ‘higher beings.’ I look forward to an interesting sojourn.

The mystery of Consciousness

Consciousness in humans is awareness. Seems right, does it not? Can I say anything comparable about animals and plants? Kirlian photography suggests a level of sensitivity in plants to being cut or burnt; some plants have reportedly shown such sensitivity even when a neighbouring plant is adversely treated. This is not good news for us, especially vegetarians. Is sensitivity equal to awareness? (Semantics can be a nuisance, can’t it?)
As for animals, judging by family pets, do they not display both awareness and sensitivity (as human do)?

Examining consciousness further: Are we conscious in deep sleep? Or, is there something we refer to as the subconscious which alerts us to possibly-threatening sounds? What about warning smells? Or, a dream which effectively warns about safety or security?

One night, in deep sleep in a strange room, I had what felt like a dream. My ‘dream’ was that my bed was collapsing while also tilting sideways? I jumped out of the bed, not quite awake, and switched on the light. What I saw was a big-framed picture, which had been hanging on the wall adjacent to the bed, had now slid to the ground with a crash, in the small space between the bed and the wall.

Was this the sequence of events? Sound of sliding, falling picture. I hear this in my sleep. My mind generates a warning in dream form. This led to my flight out of the bed. Was that evidence of consciousness during deep sleep?

Curiously, Eknath Easwaran, in his book ‘The Upanishads’, refers to the ‘states of mind’ of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep as representing “layers of awareness, concurrent strata lying at different depths in the conscious and unconscious mind”. Awareness existing in layers? Awareness in the unconscious mind?

He also refers to ‘states of consciousness’: and challengingly asks – ”In the constantly changing flow of thought, is there an observer who remains the same?” The idea of an uninvolved observer within us represents the core of Upanishadic Hinduism. However, I can cite an experience which is suggestive of an internal observer.

As a young man, I once lost my temper (never before, never again). It was a highly-charged emotional reaction. Then followed a physical development: I was about to cause terrible harm to a fellow human. Suddenly, from somewhere in my mind came a thought: “What are doing, stupid?” (It was a very clear thought.) As a consequence, no harm occurred. On reflection – I seem to have been operating at 3 levels of consciousness.

Consciousness at a normal, operational, human level is certainly confusing. The following extract from Easwaran then takes consciousness from the Earthly level to the cosmic level. Relying on one of the Upanishads, he states “… the powers of the mind have no life of their own.  The mind is not consciousness; it is only an instrument of consciousness …”

So, what is Consciousness at the cosmic level? In a recent post, I asked “Does Consciousness explain Reality?” What a wonderful mystery.

How do souls retain mind and memories?

This question arises from my real experience when I began to investigate e.s.p. (extra-sensory perception), otherwise known as psychic phenomena. My initial exposure to a clairvoyant, and his extra-ordinary and quite inexplicable skills, involved the manifestation of my favourite uncle’s spirit.

Incredibly, my uncle communicated psychically with the clairvoyant, obviously heard a comment I had made to the clairvoyant (by responding to it), and displayed his memory of a relevant segment of his recent Earthly life, and referred to his knowledge of the tragedy I had experienced long after his demise.

It was obvious that this insubstantial entity, while thus lacking a brain, ears and eyes, had retained – more than 4 decades after the cremation of his body – his Earthly mind and its memories; and was able to offer advice to me about my spiritual advancement (implying an awareness of my potential future).

How could a spirit, presumably residing in what I refer to as the Afterlife, also retain capabilities normally associated with an efficiently operating human on Earth – to hear, think, speak (mentally in his situation), and probably see as well? Here is evidence that, at death, the soul of a human being continues as a spirit in another dimension, retaining both mind (with its memories) and sense-and-brain related facilities. Unthinkable!

As for our physical organs of sense – the known 5 – what is seen, heard, tasted, touched and smelt – need to be processed and stored in the brain. The mind, clearly associated with the brain, may not be resident in the brain. Indeed, I use my mind to search the brain for recorded memories.

Yet, the brain can also project information even before I begin the search. I have had this experience doing crossword puzzles. Sometimes, my brain also projects relevant information before I ask my mind to go search. Here I am proposing that my ego (my personality) is indeed separate from my mind; the latter being a facility.

Thus, does memory, associated with the brain as a storage facility, also exist outside the brain? How else could the soul of a human being take both mind and the memories contained therein into the Afterlife? (Denying the existence of souls, the Afterlife, and the capabilities of spirits is not now an option for me. Experienced reality cannot be denied by closing one’s mind.)

In this or any other context, I do not accept the concept of an Akashic Record which registers every action of every human being on Earth. What would be the objective of such a massive record of inconsequence? Confusingly, I lost the memory of quite a few faces through my heart attack. A few years later, progressively this memory was recovered.

Did changes take place in my brain enabling recovery of memory? Or, was relevant memory reinstated from outside my brain? Is this not a relevant question? While the recall of memory reportedly involves the whole brain, the impetus of such a memory search would have to be the mind. In my case, it was a conscious search for memory.

Food for thought?

(Refer my previous post “Where resides the soul?”)

Where resides my soul?

As a metaphysical Hindu (that is, one beyond rituals), I accept that the Cosmic Creator (not necessarily a physical entity), as both transcendent and immanent, may have a presence in all that is created. A fragmentary essence of this Creator could thus be within me. I have read that this presence is located in a walnut-sized space within my heart.

Is this presence my soul, the real me, that traveller through time, through repeated re-births? That cannot be. That is because each soul is said to be polished (improved morally or spiritually) through the reincarnation process, and then returned to be boundless Ocean of Consciousness (or Aether) from which it is said to have risen. A fragment or essence of the Creator will surely not need to be polished.

Rather, its role may be to remind me that, in times of travail, I need only look within me for succour and spiritual (and mental) peace. The lessons of Destiny – both personal and communal – do need to be accepted with equanimity.

My soul is clearly a unique insubstantial entity, the essential me, carrying the compound lessons acquired through a series of past lives. Does it remain a passive record keeper, uninvolved in the normal turbulence of life? Or, does it, in its own interest, influence me by allowing me intimations (on occasions) of my immediate past life?

I have become somewhat sensitised to this influence through: some instinctive responses to events; visions of a past life through auto-hypnosis; information offered by a psychic healer whose Spirit Healer can apparently read my past life traumas; and my ‘casual’ clairvoyant who saw me as I apparently appeared in my immediate past life. I await, with hope, further illumination.

Developing my ‘third-eye’ vision may enable me to become more intuitive about such matters. I doubt, however, whether the embodied I will ever know what the essential I (my soul) is doing.

What I would like to know is whether my soul resides in my body, or whether it surrounds me as an ethereal (or cloud) entity (like the Internet). When I die, will my soul gather my mind and its memories on its way, because they too exist in a ‘cloud’ around my brain?

Could I now explain how I recovered the memory which I had lost when I had a heart attack? Perhaps my memory exists at 2 levels; at a operational level, which can be damaged, and at a holistic ethereal level beyond bodily weakness.

Fascinating! Pity that I will be denied an answer. As my soul takes off to the Afterlife, it will not (I guess) be concerned by such Earth-based ruminations. The caravan must (and will) move on!

(Note: While I cannot prove the existence of a Cosmic Creator and the ways this all-pervasive, ever-existing essence may influence human existence, no sceptic can disprove such a belief. As for the reality of souls and the reincarnation process about which I have written, my experiences and reliable research findings over decades being real, cannot be denied.
Doctrinal religion does not offer needed illumination. Regrettably, some scholars cannot step out from their religion-imbued castles.)

Cultures need not be competitive

Some years ago, childless couples in Australia were adopting babies from overseas. An Aussie woman opposed this practice. As she explained to the newspaper which published her letter, foreign babies bring ‘foreign cultures.’ The reality, of course, is that any foreign culture brought in would be in the baby’s nappy.

Culture refers to the ways humans behave consistently, traditionally; and the underlying values. I was brought up in a family and tribe of Hindus. Hence beef was not on the menu. We did not eat pork, although it was the main meat for our Chinese neighbours. We saw pork as hygienically unclean. Pork was not avoided because of religious beliefs, as with the Jewish faith and Islam.

During the racist White Australia era, Anglo-Australians complained about the odour of garlic, ginger, and curry spices used by Asian students in shared kitchens. The huge influx of Europeans soon stopped that. Young Aussies who had travelled overseas also took to Asian and European foods.

In the 1960s, I observed 2 young white Aussie girls buying from a food store owned by an Englishman the ingredients to be combined into curry powder. They knew exactly what they wanted. On the other hand, I bought a packet of imported curry powder. I had no idea of its ingredients. My mother had never told me; indeed, I had not been allowed into the kitchen.

Cuisine and clothing, as cultural markers, cross ethnic boundaries easily, in time. Prayer and associated religious rituals, while variable, are motivated by identical objectives – to seek succour from, and to express thanks to, God. Diversity in religious belief is not a barrier to close inter-cultural relations, as I have observed. Doctrine-bound priests may not agree.

In terms of day-to-day living, what differences in behaviour do we all display – wherever we are on the globe – which pose barriers to mutual tolerance inter-culturally?
British Malaya, with its ethno-tribal diversity during my development, was a multicultural nation-in-the-making. There was mutual tolerance, in spite of an original lack of a shared language. We lived our lives as guided by our respective cultures and, in time, through habituation, education, and some social interaction, became one people. Only politics can be a threat to social cohesion.

My own extended family includes Chinese, Malay, Indian, English, Burmese, Italian, and Anglo-Australian genes. We are the lamp-lighters to a new world based on a shared humanity, with any historical cultural tensions devoid of consequence.