FINDING GOD

God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.

You may say that there are many errors and superstitions in another religion. I should reply: Suppose there are. Every religion has errors. Everyone thinks that his watch alone gives the correct time. It is enough to have yearning for God. It is enough to love Him and feel attracted to Him: Don’t you know that God is the Inner Guide? He sees the longing of our heart and the yearning of our soul.

Suppose a man has several sons. The older boys address him distinctly as “Baba” or “Papa”, but the babies can at best call him “Ba” or “Pa”. Now, will the father be angry with those who address him in this indistinct way? The father knows that they too are calling him, only they cannot pronounce his name well. All children are the same to the father.

Likewise, the devotees call on God alone, though by different names. They call on one Person only. God is one, but His names are many.

(I found the above in my hard-drive. Source not recorded.)

 

Extracts from the Upanishads (from Easwaran)

It is only when the concept of a transcendent and immanent Creator is conjoined with the means of realisation of the Self, through meditation, and the related emphasis on states of consciousness, that one begins to understand why a Western philosopher like Schopenhauer was drawn to the Upanishads.

In these, he saw, not Hinduism or India but “… a habit of looking beneath the surface of life to its underlying causes …”. He also drew attention “… to the courage to discover in ourselves a desperately needed higher image of the human being”. … …

The power and poetry of the Upanishads can be seen from these extracts (from Easwaran):

As the same fire assumes different shapes

When it consumes objects differing in shape,

So does the one Self take the shape

Of every creature in whom he is present.

(Katha 2 .2 .9)

 

When all desires that surge in the heart

Are renounced, the mortal become immortal.

When all the knots that strangle the heart

Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.

This sums up the teachings of the Scriptures.

(Katha 2 .3.14-15)

 

As a caterpillar, having come to the end of one blade

of grass, draws itself together and reaches out for the

next, so the Self, having come to the end of one life and

shed all ignorance, gathers its faculties and reaches

out from the old body to a new.

(Brihad 4 .4.3)

 

The world is the wheel of God, turning round

And round with all living creatures upon its rim.

The world is the river of God,

Flowing from him and flowing back to him.

 

On this ever-revolving wheel of being

The individual self goes round and round

Through life after life, believing itself

To be a separate creature, until

It sees its destiny with the Lord of Love

And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.

(Shveta 1 .4-6)

 

Meher Baba summarised it all beautifully and succinctly: “The finding of God is the coming to one’s own self”. An important corollary is provided by Kahlil Gibran when he said: “For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?” Of relevance too is the view of Erasmus, the great philosopher of the European Renaissance: “The sum of religion is peace, which can only be when definitions are as few as possible, and opinion is left free on many subjects”.

 

The above are extracts from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’

‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ – Excerpts

Chapter 1       Black Looks in Oz

“…the assumption that Australia not only has

a history worth bothering about, but that

all the history worth bothering about

happened in Australia”

— Clive James

Be careful! Raj will give you a black look, if you don’t play well today.” When I first heard these words, I was mystified. There had been no reference to my colour for decades, certainly never in a stable social situation. Why now, in the mid 1990s? Anyway, it came to my notice that these strange words were being uttered somewhat frequently by Willy, a chatty old Aussie, in my presence. Yet, he never referred to any of the others — all white — as ever giving black looks.   Willy, typically self-confident, in spite of being relatively unlettered, and I were members of a group of elderly men (known as the ‘vets’) who played tennis three times a week.  Our ages ranged from a little under 60 to about 80. Most, like Willy, were ordinary folk, with no pretensions.

Chapter 2       The Power of Pigmentation

“It’s powerful,” he said.

“What?”

“That one drop of Negro blood

— because just one drop of black blood makes a man coloured.”

– Langton Hughes

Like most Asians, I do not take notice of variations in skin colour. When everyone around me sported a different colour, how could I be sensitive to such variations? This claim will no doubt surprise those with a need to detect, and possibly denigrate, anyone with any hint of colour. The way the mixed blood urban Aborigine is talked about is sufficiently illustrative. Since most parts of the world are multi-hued, differences in skin colour are generally not persuasive in human relations where whites are not involved. The exceptions are the caste-ridden, especially the Indians (eg ill-educated Hindu mums looking for ‘fair’ daughters-in-law); or those Euro-Asians who sought, generally by necessity, to identify themselves exclusively with their usually distant white progenitors.

Chapter 3      To Have a dream

“It is a great shock … to find

that, in a world of Gary Coopers,

you are the Indian”.

– James Baldwin

I can claim to know only one Aboriginal person. Indeed, I have met very few Aboriginal people over half a century in Australia. How am I to meet them? Our paths are so far apart. When a meeting does take place, there might be little of that communication that one might expect from people sharing the same stage. Are they keeping themselves apart, because they have been rejected by white society?

Chapter 4           Which  way  to  the  Cosmos?

“Now, my own suspicion is that

the universe is not only queerer

than we suppose, but queerer than

we can suppose.”

– J.B.S.Haldane

I well remember being taught, at about the age of eight, that the universe is without beginning or end. It was part of my acculturation. My mother, well read in our tribal language, and with a strong belief in our religion, started me on this path. She thus planted the seeds of a significant search — for understanding the meaning of life. This search was to stimulate and sustain me for the rest of my life.

Chapter 5        Peering  into  the  Void

“No matter how I probe and prod

I cannot quite believe in God.

But oh! I hope to God that he

Unswervingly believes in me”

–   E.Y. Harburg

On this fragment of the Cosmos known as Earth, there are those who seem to know what creation and existence are all about. Then there are those who claim to know, surrounded by that multitude who just want to know. Amongst the Hindus, there is that belief (expressed in the Upanishads) that, through meditation, one can realise Reality. Although this Reality cannot be described, one can come to know it by identifying with it (ie by realising it). It follows that, as stated by J. Krishnamurti, those who know cannot tell.  Those who claim to tell apparently do not — cannot — know. This unitary awareness, being experienced, is uniquely personal. It is non-transmissible, beyond words, beyond thought (so we are told).

Chapter 6        The  end  of  Tribalism?

 

“How can you govern a country

which has 246 varieties of cheese?”

— Charles de Gaulle

PART ONE — Foreigners Everywhere

  • The whitening of terra Australis

 Australia went from monochromatic to multicoloured; from mono-cultural to multicultural, and from monolingual to multilingual, all within 2 hundred years. This is quite an achievement for any nation, if one could only ignore the poor Aborigines, with their original diversity of tribes and tongues. This tri-level transformation of the country was, however, only the secondary change which the indigenes of the nation have had to contend with progressively. The most tragic impact upon the original black inhabitants and their abode was caused by their white conqueror, camouflaged as a seeker of discovery.

PART  TWO – The Merging

  • Rejecting the new unwanted

Australia’s infamous dictation test allowed officials to throw out anyone they (or their political masters) did not want, for any or no reason. This was achieved simply by finding a language which the applicant for immigration entry could not possibly know. This approach was clearly reflective of the utter ignorance and insensitivity of leading Australian politicians then. It was all so fatuous, contrasting with the currently impossible task of ridding the nation of queue-jumping economic migrants seeking asylum, especially the ‘boat people’.

Quaint interpretations of international commitments; the assertion of unlimited rights for illegal entrants to avail themselves of unending publicly-funded legal services and appeals; an unbalanced emphasis on the use of lawyers to present the unlawful immigrant’s case for admission to Australia (when he has carefully destroyed the documentation which authorised him to enter his port of departure to Australia); a reliance on the adversarial court process, with the lawyers not required to assist the nation by objectively searching for the truth; a claimed right for asylum applicants to live freely in the community (presumably at the Australian taxpayers’ expense) whilst their refugee status is being assessed; or, alternatively, to have community standards of comfort whilst in detention,  with education, welfare and social worker support thrown in; all these highlight the distance administrative and legal processes have traversed since the days of the dictation test and its policy parameters.

Those who landed on Australia’s shores by boat, in the 1990s, travelling in a highly calculated manner, can claim (through their Aussie advocates) more entitlements to legal aid, access to the courts and other services than are available to us taxpaying citizens.

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To conclude:

Adapting an Ethiopian proverb: when the spider webs of a nationalism based on a shared humanity unite, they can tie up the lion of tribal diversity. What Australians of all origins should now work towards is the evolution of a new national identity. In this objective, is there scope for each cultural strand of Aussie humanity to articulate what it contributes to this evolving national image? Could this possibly be done on the basis of what the collective soul says? In so doing, all past contributions of value to the human spirit would be recognised.

The new identity would thereby rely less  on highwaymen, failed excursions overseas, cross-dressing ‘wannabe’ humorists, caste, gender and religious wars, and the ‘deputy sheriff’ role (with its implications of a smug superiority on the surface, and a sub-surface insecurity).

The new identity would re-focus on communitarian aspects of society. Both individualism and tribalism would give way to community cohesion as the Aussie Family of Man.

 

 

Accolades for ‘Destiny Will Out’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM

When this book was published in Britain (because Australian publishers were not interested), and distributed in Australia, the response from senior academics was incredibly warm. As one said to the author “This is the first occasion when we are able to know about the first-hand experiences of our early Asian students.” Another said, in relation to the extensive official efforts to assist immigrants to settle successfully in Australia, “This is the first time that we have had access to an ‘inside’ story; can you tell us more?”

And the Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs bought a copy; no one had presented the totality of Australia’s successful settlement policies before. And that was because the author had been responsible for all these policy programs (and was the only one at that time).

That he was thus knowledgeable was reflected in him being considered for the position of Chairman of the Ethnic Communities Council of South Australia and, then, Western Australia. Alas, parochialism had to prevail. As there would have been no increase in his remuneration, it was the challenge which attracted him.

The accolades

“——-a well-written, honest, first-hand account of the trials, the pain, the pleasures, the frustrations, and the ultimate success of an Asian immigrant in Australia——-contains important lessons——-.The story is peppered with keen observations, acerbic comments, strongly expressed opinions and wry humour.——-Totally fascinating and strongly recommended”. —Probus News (Spring 1999)

  • “——-honest, insightful, and marked by a genuine perception of the workings of Australian culture and society——-provides an intelligent and spiritually perceptive man’s views and reflections on how Australia has changed over the past forty years.——-It is the sort of book that should be widely read as an antidote to the blinkered views held by both pro- and anti-multiculturalists, because it offers humanity (and spirituality) in an area too dominated by abstract and barren intellectualising” —Dr Gregory Melleuish, Senior Lecturer (History and Politics), University of Wollongong,, and author of “The Packaging of Australia”
  • “——-a timely book. The author is well qualified to comment on burning issues of ethnicity, tribalism and cultural hegemony, ——-having had personal experience of settlement in Australia over a period of half a century; voluntary involvement in a range of community organisations; and work experience as a senior public servant——-” —Prof Jerzy Zubrzycki, Emeritus Professor; and Member, National Multicultural Advisory Council

.· “A rare blend of experience, reflections, and strong judgements, grounded in keen insight. Arasa knows how vote-seeking parliamentarians and ambitious ‘ethno-politicians’ do not see how their actions work against the life-chances of immigrants, by distorting social justice, democracy and language as power foci of official multiculturalism. A cleansing fire! Highly recommended!” — Dr John Atchison, Senior Lecturer (Classics, History and Religion), University of New England.

 “——-a narrative interspersed with charming homilies and thoughtful commentary about Australian society and its reaction to the substantial contact with people of non-European origins——-” “——-a wealth of empirical material regarding the transformation of Australian society, with particular regard to the sensitive areas of immigration, cultural diversity and race relations.” ——-“He has many salient points to make about the distinction between cultural diversity and State-funded multiculturalism, and the problems of public education and the welfare system—–” “This authentic testament of the migrant experience in the midst of the White Australia policy also offers refreshing perspectives, bereft of bureaucratic jargon and, more importantly, of the sort of predictable rhetoric one has come to expect from some political activists.” –Jason Soon in “Policy” (Spring 1999), organ of The Centre for Independent Studies, Australia.

“The family re-union (immigration) program and structural multiculturalism have come in for their share of criticism and analysis in the 1980s, and Arasa has some pungent insider’s comment on these topics and on the humanitarian (refugee) intake.” –– Dr Katharine Betts, (Senior Lecturer, Swinbourne University of Technology) in “People and Place”, vol. 7, no. 2, 1999

Reader responses

“——-thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written, informative and slyly witty.” —Noel Purves, Retired school principal, Western Australia

“Raw honesty, with unsettling insight. Read it and reassess multiculturalism.” —Danny Ronis, Planning Manager, South Australia

“…….I found his account of childhood…….fascinating and nostalgic,…….his experiences of emigration to Australia and subsequent struggles to understand and come to terms with the culture are where he affords insight and sympathy with the new immigrant’s plight.” —Philippa Cairns, Co-ordinator, ESOL (English as a Second Other Language) Home Tutor Service (Western Bay of Plenty). New Zealand.

“I must congratulate you on your commendable work in bringing out a worthy publication. I enjoyed your language, particularly your humour and quotes.” —C. Rajadurai,, former Bursar, University Technology; Executive Secretary, Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia; and community leader, Malaysia.

“I recommend that all Australians read this book to understand what immigrants go through” —Maria de Rocco (ex-Italy), Music Tutor, New South Wales.

“……Arasa’s insight into problems that arise, along with suggestions on how to avoid them and live in harmony in a multiculturally enriched society is an intriguing read.” –-Hilary Chaly, Legal Executive, New Zealand

“Arasa’s book is poignant and informative for anyone of adult age. We have lived through enormous cultural/political changes in Australia since World War Two. I have watched the face of the nation change, and read the book with fascination……..” –Maureen Nathan (ex-South Africa), Pharmacist, New South Wales.

“A definite inside story reflecting prejudice and his success against mountainous odds due to his colour……..Excellent reading.” —Dr. Zyg Atlas (immigrant), medical practitioner, and author of “Just One Life”. Victoria

“It is the detail about your personal history and about your experiences in Australia that are particularly rewarding for the reader ……….Full marks for the penetration and perspicacity of your observations, the lucidity of your English, and the wealth of detail”. – –Robert Purves, barrister-at-law, UK and Australia.

 

Relating to our Creator

Growing up in a devout Hindu immigrant family, I attended a Pilleyar (Ganesha) temple with my family frequently. We also prayed each evening before dinner, in our curtained prayer space, to the deities of relevance to us.

I was taught that the deities we prayed to were manifestations of the one and only God of mankind, who is unknowable, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; and who (hopefully) may intervene in our lives at crucial times. Hence the prayers and (as I see it) the appeasements through rituals. We lived our faith, while we reached out to our Creator. I do not remember being taught to blame God for any mishap in our lives.

As we survived in a territory away from our homeland, we were surrounded by significant numbers of diverse mainly-immigrant ethno-cultural populations. Both host people (Muslim Malays) and immigrants from a variety of Asian lands co-existed harmoniously, accepting that we were on different paths, but with the same objective, to the same end. Only white Christian missionaries, collecting souls for Christ, introduced some dissonance.

Yet, the diverse Christian sects within our tribal community were integrated with the rest of us. That is, both within and beyond our people, there was mutual respect, while the families socialised. Faith in God, expressed through a range of religious beliefs, sustained us.

The reality of Earthly existence is that, in most parts of the world (including the UA), life is hard, if not precarious, for the bulk of us. Most of us need a belief in available cosmic succour. We need to pray in hope that hardship can be minimised, if not avoided. We need to pray when things go wrong in our lives. We will pray while we are being submerged by forces beyond control or amelioration. What else can we do?

Disasters are a fact of life, and a test of faith. Can mankind survive without faith? The well-fed may feel so. Church attendances in Australia so suggest.

On this rocky orb spinning through space, accompanied by fellow space objects small and horrendously huge, and flooded and flushed by cosmic radiation, … … …

The end of institutional religion?

Time and tide wait for no one. That is an aphorism of note. Freedom to think clearly, to learn as circumstances permit, to act responsibly and pragmatically according to an innate conscience – these undermine any established constraints applied by those controlling institutional religions based on authority – especially an authority of questionable provenance.

I do believe that there is an innate (ie. unconscious) yearning in all humans for the numinous, the Divine, God, or the Creator of all – no matter how these are defined. Deep within our souls there does seem to be an unrelenting urge to be fused with the Divine – from which (whom) we probably parted or were split.

While we are destined to live a series of Earthly lives, we evolve through a conversion of a naive pathway – originating from fear, progressing to awe, and then to faith in propitiating the nature (or planetary) ‘gods’ we created – to supporting a relatively ritualised form of worship. These rituals, most likely to have been introduced by shamans, would then have been institutionalised by a rising priesthood.

Unlike the Hindu priesthoods I have experienced, who did not (do not) control us, most priesthoods elsewhere seem to have instituted systems of control over their believers, eg. Egypt, Europe, the Middle East. Power seems to have the effect of an aphrodisiac.

Regrettably, dogma devised to strength the bonds binding believers became instruments in a competitive war – between not only the principal religions, but also between the sects which grew within each of some religions. Did these sectarian differences reflect divergences in ideology or a contest of human power?

Just as there is a growing distrust of politicians (and their acolytes) in Western ‘democratic’ nations, there is a clear distancing of the populace from institutionalised religion. Or, is it only a wish to change the rituals, allied to a ‘de-frocking’ of a priesthood in the interests of church governance by laity?

If I am correct about an innate yearning in us for an intangible Divine, new forms of reaching out will rise to suit some, while others will remain disinterested in the need for a collective expression of faith. Those of us who prefer a one-to-one communion with our Creator will do so in private.

Whether a religious/spiritual belief is expressed privately or collectively, if it is not reflected in an appropriate way of life, we too may go the way of the dodo!

Are humans programmed for spiritual experiences?

I had a spiritual experience in a Yoga Ashram. It was an incredibly emotional experience when I was in deep meditation. It was personal.

On the contrary, Paramahansa Yogananda’s spiritual exposure (refer a relatively recent post of mine) was about the underlying processes of the Universe. His description of the event – in a dream? – was unbelievable. It cannot be discounted. A real experience cannot be sneered away by professional sceptics. We know very little about ourselves and our Earthly home.

Is there a facility in the human brain (and psyche) which enables some of us to have religious or spiritual experiences?

Many years ago I read that some scientist had made the following discovery. When an electrical probe touched a particular part of the brain, the patient reported sensations which seemed to be, or were interpreted as, of a religious nature. What staggered me was the suggestion that the origin of religious experiences had now been found.

As I wrote in one of my books, this is akin to saying that the music, scenes, etc. we experience through radio or television actually originate in these machines!

However, I realised that a specific area of the human brain may be ‘programmed’ (by evolution?) to receive signals which we interpret as religious or spiritual. Surely, we have all been emotionally influenced by beautiful sights, inspiring music, religious chants, and suchlike – up to a level akin to ecstasy.

Neuroscientist Prof. V.S. Ramachandran said “ … with the lie detector we were able to show that the human brain apparently responds particularly strongly to religious ideas … … we concluded that evolution might have equipped the human brain with special circuits for spiritual experiences. That would explain why all people have a religion. … … these are highly speculative ideas … “ (Refer Ramachandran’s article on Consciousness ‘In the Hall of IIlusions’ in Stefan Klein’s ‘We are all stardust,’ – a most interesting book.)

In my view, it pays to have an open mind to achieve a glimpse of reality.

On religion – origin of the universe?

“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 transient.

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.” … …

“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?” … …

“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.” … …

“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.”

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

Brahma is the Creator whose life span is 3.11 trillion years, to be replaced for yet another Creator and his creation lasting 3.11 years, ad infinitum. Refer Hindu cosmology about the many cycles of existence and non-existence (or suspension). It is both fascinating and incredible. Extraterrestrial input has been claimed. When? From where?    

 

 

On religion – an arm’s length Creator

“Studying the belief systems of the simpler societies at my university, and dip­ping into some anthropology, sociology, psychology, and the major religions, I realised that there has been, and is, an innate need in many, if not most, of us to understand what we humans are, and our place in the Cosmos.

I realised further that: the complexity and beauty, as well as the observable but inadequately explicable aspects of the experienced world; the exceedingly complex patterns of inter-linked cause and effect, action and reaction, and the inter-dependencies of the physical, chemical and electro­magnetic forces affecting us; the uniformity, the invariability, the predictive capacity of the laws of nature; the ecological balance between mobile and fixed forms of life; the intuitive yearning by sensitive souls for communion with sublime or higher forces not clearly understood; and the inferred influ­ence of the spirit world, all of which affect our lives, could not have occurred purely by chance.

Instead, they might, I felt, reflect the mind and soul of a Creator. How else could all that have occurred? By chance? Is that another name for an inexplicable cause, akin to the gods of simpler people?

I did conclude, logically, that there had to be a Creator of all that exists. I then noted, with great interest, that an aca­demic and confirmed atheist had reached the same conclusion after a lifetime of non-belief in a Creator, for exactly the same reasons. There has to be a Creator, he now accepts, thereby upsetting most severely his former fellow-believers in that causal mechanism named Chance. Like me, he doesn’t claim to know; only that a creator god makes (unverifiable) sense.

There seems to be clear evidence, comparable to the sta­bility of patterns found within chaos, of purpose within the complexity and apparent unpredictability of life, and of a uni-directional path of species evolution, and the personal development of many individual humans.

In the event, all that a Creator had to do was to set up a mechanism capable of evolving by itself, even as it related to the sentient forms within creation, and these forms too would evolve. An arm’s-length Creator, not an interventionist god of the kind who baffles supplicants and frustrates the priesthood, makes good sense.

Such an objective analytic approach would fit life as experienced. There seem to be trajectories for the universe we think we know, for the observable galaxies, individual suns, and planets, and for us occupants on planet Earth. The pattern of an individual’s existence and the associated path of any personal development reflects, in my view, what might be termed as personal destiny.

This is not fate, not something unavoidable. It is a pathway for one’s current life created by each of us for ourselves, both reactively and through free will, during past lives. With free will, one can also choose, during each life, to obey the imperatives of one’s own self-crafted destiny or respond in some other manner, much in the way a motorist might behave in a well-policed crowded city.”

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’.

On religion – a belief based on free will

“What of those of us who hold beliefs which range from the religious to the psychic? My dialogue with the spirit of my uncle (we did have a three-way exchange) led me somewhat reluctantly to an acceptance of the spirit world. Why reluctant? Because it did not fit into my then understanding of reality. Since then I have had other exposures to the spirit world. I now have reason to believe that I have benefited from the involve­ment of this domain in my life. Proof? None! It is, however, not so much a gut-feeling as a subconscious intellectual awareness. Otherwise I remain as rational as humanly possible.

This belief in the reality of the world of souls supports what I was taught to believe in my youth, enhanced by my recent understanding of Hinduism. This understanding was obtained late in life through my reading of the Upanishads. These writings represent, to me, the highest level of meta­physics of any religion. A succinct summary of my beliefs follows. I have been reading about religion and society since I was about 24.

At death, I would join the souls of my predecessors (except those who have been reincarnated). After a period of learning in whatever dimension I find myself, I would be reincarnated on Earth. Let me make clear that I was never taught to believe in a spirit domain from which the soul of a former relative or, for that matter, the soul of perhaps a guru, could enter my life and offer me advice. Or that those in this domain might be able to influence the direction of my life at some significant point – as has apparently happened more than once!

Moving on – each Earthly life would involve me paying for the sins of my past lives while being offered opportunities to learn to better myself morally, possibly spiritually. After many, many rebirths, I might be permitted to return to that Ocean of Consciousness from which, it is said, we had origi­nally arisen. The ultimate objective of this extended process? To improve the stock of human souls? So, is there meaning and purpose in human existence?

The above belief would give meaning where none exists for the unbeliever. It would give more meaning than the claim that human existence has meaning but only for each Earthly existence. A concept embodying continuity through lifetimes, of opportunities to move up some moral scale, life by life, and of exercising free will rather than being carried blindly through time on Earth, is enticing, because it offers a path of purpose, and of hope – with free will.”

These extracts are from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’.