A useful guide to the Cosmos

I recommend the Hindus’ Upanishads as a useful guide to the Cosmos … … The Upanishads proclaim (according to Easwaran) that “There is a Reality underlying life”.  “… this Reality is the essence of every created thing, and the same Reality is our real Self, so that each of us is one with the power that created and sustains the universe”. That is, the Creator is both transcendent and immanent.

Easwaran goes on to say that this Reality or oneness  “ … can be realised directly, without the mediation of priests or rituals or any of the structures of organised religion, not after death but in this life, and that this is the purpose for which each of us has been born and the goal towards which evolution moves”. Complex, yet simple. Is it not inspiring and therefore attractive to those who love freedom? I believe it is.

And the yoga schools in Australia are indeed introducing this perspective to seekers of a better path to spiritual fulfilment. The goal of evolution may thus be said to be the realisation of One-ness. This is also the purpose of repeated human re-birth, where life between lives is a mere staging house.

The path to spiritual fulfilment is lit thus: since “… there is in each of us an inalienable Self that is divine”, mankind is “… in a compassionate universe, where nothing is other than ourselves …”.  Mankind is thus urged  “ … to treat the universe with reverence”.

Thus, man’s innermost essence, the Self (or Atman), is not different from God, the ultimate Reality. This Reality (or Brahman) is “ … the irreducible ground of existence, the essence of everything — of the earth and sun and all creatures, of gods and human beings, of every power of life”. This equivalence of the ground of one’s being (the Self) and the essence of every thing (Reality) is encapsulated in the phrase “Thou art That”.

Thus, metaphysics and morals merge in that simple summary. … … A close friend of mine, of European origin, and a staunch churchgoing Catholic, found the teaching of the Upanishads most agreeable!

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

10 Chinese proverbs of value

  1. A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

It reminds us to be aligned to our more authentic nature and sing when we have a song to sing from our heart rather than give an answer to satisfy our ego or intellect.

  1. Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Do not fear when things do not move as fast as you expect. As long as you are taking actions in line with your heart, speed doesn’t matter anymore because it is only a matter of perspective.

  1. When you drink the water, remember the spring.

It invites us to look at the larger picture and the source of our nourishment, which is life and all its beautiful connections. We constantly do things or consume things unconsciously without thinking about what they are or where they come from.

We don’t feel connected anymore to the general wheel of life, to the earth and to the cosmos. We constantly drink the water without remembering the spring.

  1. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.

. It shows us the value of educating and teaching people life skills instead of just giving them the means without being able to provide those means for themselves. Once again it is symbolic of our times. In smaller and simpler societies, the roles of people were different.

  1.  Dig the well before you are thirsty.

This proverb reminds us to be proactive and do things ahead of time. It tells us to be pre-emptive and think ahead before the need arises. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the proverb above.

  1. Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

This is a beautiful proverb telling us that there is only so much a teacher can do for us and so much we ought to do by ourselves. A teacher can guide us in the right direction and open up the doors of knowledge but ultimately it is through our own will and action that we must enter through those doors and reach wisdom.

  1. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

A very powerful sentence. Anger is one of the strongest emotions and can stir up many negative energies. It is very easy to lose control through anger. Being patient, or rather being conscious when the emotion of anger arises will save you a multi-fold of repercussions for which you might be sorry in the future.

  1. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

This is perhaps one of the best known of the Chinese proverbs. It is simple, powerful and encouraging. It tells us that even the longest of life journeys starts with a single step or with a small action that kickstarts the whole thing. It also tells us that even that little step that might seem insignificant compared to the whole journey is the most important since it gets us into motion.

  1. Try to save a dead horse as if it is still alive.

Sounds like a strange thing to say but it essentially means to try your best no matter what and not to give up because nothing is impossible. I think it somehow has also got to do with the Chinese character—being resilient and determined as they are. It’s a good motivator.

  1. When we get to the mountain, there will be a way through.

Simply put, it means that there is a solution to everything. I think that it’s also one of the most motivational of the Chinese proverbs and that is empowering and good to keep in mind when facing challenges throughout life.

From Gilbert Ross (edited) in ‘wisdomtimes’

 

Racial discrimination law presents confusing concepts

Australia’s racial discrimination legislation successfully confuses acts of discrimination and words indicating prejudice, a feeling. Discrimination involves treating an individual or group differently from others, generally less favourably. Examples would be: a denial of equal opportunity, or paying wages below a legal entitlement. There may be no antipathetic feeling associated with the act of discrimination.

Whereas prejudice can be displayed in looks of disdain, or in spoken words, such as those used by bullies (or idiots) in a playground or in a work situation.

Denial of a right or entitlement will hurt – emotionally and materially. The effects can be very long term. Do read my 2 posts titled ‘The myth of racial discrimination’ to fully appreciate what actual discrimination is all about.

The discrimination I had to endure in not only the White Australia era but also in the 1980s was substantial, not imagined or coined. Initially, the discrimination I experienced reflected responses to my skin colour and to my being foreign. Latterly, the trigger was tribo-religious (‘not one of us’); and I had to ‘go with the flow’ to be allowed to work in peace. I thought it wise to retire prematurely.

Words uttered by rude people – mainly through ignorance or stupidity – can hurt, but only if one allows that! Why would one want to do that? Would one feel hurt and humiliated were the heavens to open suddenly, and deposit cold water on one’s head? Of course, one would feel chastened and a little hurt were a parent or a teacher or one’s boss to be rude in correcting one’s attitude, behaviour, or quality of work.

The Australian Aborigine has had to put up with more than 2 centuries of oral abuse! Has racial legislation provided significant protection? Yet, some recent coloured immigrants have allegedly spoken about being hurt and humiliated by nasty people addressing rude words at them. Is it time to adopt this adage: “The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on”?

Legislation should legitimately focus – and be restricted to – acts of discrimination (ie. to a denial of rights), and be couched in semantically and legally clear terminology. However, the current legislation in Australia offers the opportunity for harmless words of disapproval to be posited as harmful and humiliating.

Immigrants are traditionally ‘adventurers,’ displaying resilience and fortitude in travelling to another nation, and integrating with those already in the country they chose to enter. Some of them can, of course, be opportunistic.

 

‘Musings at Death’s Door’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM – Overview

‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

Near what I considered to be the end of my life (as erroneously forecast by an otherwise accurate clairvoyant), I decided to take a rear-vision-mirror look at the nation into which I had been sent by the spirit world (I did once think of it as exile). Having survived the White Australia era unscathed; having had my career path blocked four times unfairly; having a creditable record of accomplishments during my contributions to civil society; having experienced a full life in a Western milieu over nearly 7 decades, while retaining the spiritual values of Asia which had formed me, I was in a position to place on record my considered conclusions about Australia and its society.

During a 30+ year career as a public official, I had spent 14 years dealing with the private sector, and 9 years with leaders of our immigrant communities, with some significant contact with ministers of government, and a slight tussle with a shire council about citizen rights; and served on many committees wherever I lived. My Anglo-Australian wife supported me in all these activities.

I had been the national president of Australian Rostrum (akin to Toastmasters), and responsible for opening membership to women; the founder of a public speaking competition for primary schools in the national capital and surrounding townships, and co-founder of a comparable nation-wide competition for secondary schools; as foundation chairman of a school board, I had produced (and had accepted) an outline of an educational program for primary school students about religion.

I had also received a Meritorious Service Award from my trade union for my decade-long contribution to career protection in the federal public service. My only failure was in my efforts over 7 years, after retirement, to achieve improved health services in my Shire. I feel that I understand my country of adoption to be able to write objectively, while being proud of its achievements.

An endorsement pre-publication

“Raja Ratnam has lived a full life and made significant contributions to Australian life over six decades.  His experience as an Asian in Australia from the time of White Australia to that of multiculturalism is unique.  This book is a final distillation of the wisdom he has gained over that time. He provides insight into a wide range of areas from society and culture to religion.  And even better, his insights reflect his unique experience.  There is wisdom here and, like all of his work, this book is rich, intelligent and provocative. A major contribution to Australian culture.” –Prof. Greg Melleuish, History & Politics, Wollongong University

A review

Recommended by the US Review of Books, as follows:

“Before I leave this shell, my body, I need to recognise what it is that I have learnt from my turbulent but interesting life.”

“This book is a commentary about how Australia has changed since the author first moved there in 1948. This work stands on its own merit, however his previous nonfiction work, The Dance of Destiny, describes the prejudices he, as an Asian from British Malaya, experienced. Those experiences are discussed in this latest book, as they relate to his observations of how society has reacted to different races, nationalities, languages, and religions.

Ratnam witnessed a change from White Australia to a multi-cultural, multi-lingual nation. During his years of public service, he achieved several high-ranking positions in areas of refugee settlement and migration, education, and humanitarian work. He was also denied positions because of his ethnicity. Even though he was well-known in his field, including serving as an advisor at a government level, he still faced racism from time to time. In the early 1970s, the country developed an official entry policy that was non-discriminating. Skin color was no longer an official issue. In fact, as more immigrants arrived from ethnically diverse backgrounds, more social workers were needed who could speak those languages and understand the cultures.

This well-written book flows easily from one point to another. It is excellent for anyone studying sociology, public service, immigration policies, and related categories. It is also a recommended read for those who are not necessarily students, but who are interested in how a nation went from being “very British” to one of diversity acceptance. To use the author’s words, “Today’s Australia is not the nation I entered in 1948.”

Presentation at Beijing Book Fair 2016

The book was presented at this fair by Dr. Irina Webster of the Australian Self-Publishing Group.

Chapter headings

Chapter  1     On Biculturalism

Chapter  2      On Subservience

Chapter  3      On Family & Society

Chapter  4      On Governance

Chapter  5      On Racism & Tribalism

Chapter  6      On Multiculturalism

Chapter  7      On Migrants, Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Chapter  8     On Religion

Chapter  9      On the Cosmos

Chapter  10      On National Identity

Chapter  11      On Empires – gone & going

Chapter  12      Conclusion

 

EXTRACTS from chapter 12

From early boyhood I have wanted to know about the Cosmos;  about nations and why they behave as they do;  about key aspects of society anywhere and everywhere;  and about what makes we humans behave the way we do.

More recently, I have pondered the following issues.  What determines the trajectories of our lives?  Does the spirit world normally impact upon humanity?  If so, why?  Is there a Creator behind human affairs as well as the Cosmos as a whole?  How can we really know what we think we know?

My most recent interest is in how people divided by their cultures, including religion, can reach out to one another.  How can we un-learn taught prejudice, and accept that inner yearning within us to accept one another?  Would a sense of belonging to the same nation (hopefully with some pride) induce a feeling of one people, in time?

Perhaps because of my increasing understanding of humanity, and possibly some maturity on my part, I find myself becoming more frivolous, while simultaneously ‘taking no shit’ from anyone.  I have had enough of ‘racism,’ tribalism and religious prejudice.  Thankfully, I have finally achieved mental as well as spiritual peace.

My musings, as recorded above, are obviously tentative.  If I have time, I would possibly revise them;  but that will not happen.  So, why record these musings?  To show that I have learnt.  To whom?  It is always possible that the Cosmos will guide some kindred spirits to take my thoughts into their ponderings about what it is all about; in which event, I would not have lived in vain.

Nevertheless, I will take with me my learning and add to it through my future lives.  That is my perceived trajectory of re-iterative existence, hopefully leading to that realisation of why it is so.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ – Reviews

The full title of this book is ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity: beyond tribalism and towards a new Australian identity.’ The book has two platforms: the relationships between immigrant communities; and the shared search for God (the Universal Creator) by one and all, but along diverse paths.

Implicit in this narrative is the folly of mutual antipathy (through divisive dogma) by institutional religion. It is my considered view that there are only 2 core beliefs within the major religions, irrespective of whether the religions were of desert or forest origins, and that these are shared by most of them. The core beliefs are: that there is a Creator of all that is; and that, as co-created, we humans are bonded to one another. Regrettably dogma, intended to bond adherents, has become instrumental in unwarranted competition between religions. The paths are indeed diverse, but surely lead to the single end-point!

As for inter-ethnic relations, I stress the importance of immigrant communities understanding, if not knowing, other immigrant cultures; and to tolerate differences in the mode and direction of prayer, and the associated tribo-cultural practices. It is, of course, expected that immigrant communities accept the institutions of Australia and its social mores, and not expect the nation they chose to enter to change to suit imported cultures which are incompatible with prevailing mainstreaming culture. Naturally, a national culture will evolve in time.

Inter-cultural marriage, fusion cuisine, teachers guiding successive generations to a shared citizenship, and (as I believe) a natural tendency for humans to reach out to one another, have resulted in a modern cosmopolitan Australia.

The wisdom of the Upanishads and that of a few wise souls is offered in the book as a means of recognising the co-creation of all humanity, viz. the Family of Man, my ideal for mankind.

Reviews

This is a well-written book and recommended for anyone studying comparative religion, sociology, Australian history, civil rights, and ethnic cultures of Australia. It would be appropriate for high school and college students, civil rights and religious leaders, and historians. The author uses a quote from Hippocrates made 2,500 years ago to make his point. There is one common flow, one common breathing. All things are in sympathy.”
Recommended
by Cynthia Collins for the US Review of Books

“This book portraits the author’s skilful narration on relationships between migrant communities and the shared search for God (the universal creator).  I am filled with admiration for the author who pens with so much conviction and confidence. It is partly an octogenarian’s memoir of his youth in Singapore and Malaya (Malaysia) and life then onwards, 6 decades, in Australia.

The book has been cleverly written with much passion and personal experiences and observations. His early confrontations with the white Australian policies and their superiority attitude and how with the coming of the new arrivals into this totally white nation, gradually taking another turn. He writes frankly, with no prejudices, with the ultimate aim of creating an Australian Man !!

In dealing with race and colour issues, he also deals with the aborigines of Australia who were originally stripped off their rights. Their stance is being legally looked into and that is something ongoing.

It is a great read for foreign students, people seeking refuge, historians, religious leaders and travellers abroad and both governmental and non- governmental organizations. Gives an insight and background of present day well organized Australia.

He is emphasizing the need for multicultural understanding and inter-ethnic tolerance in order to foster a sense of unity in a country that started off as an all-white country with one religion, Christianity. Once again, all this with the aim of creating an Australian Man !! Special emphasis is given to the situation of the Aborigines and their plight for their rights which were originally stripped off them.

He strives to achieve an Australian Man and the creation of all humanity by offering and quoting words from wise men and the Upanishads. A recommended read for any newcomer to Australia.

S. den Drijver, The Netherlands.
 

 

 

More about ‘Destiny Will Out’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM

The author ends ‘DESTINY WILL OUT: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia’  (published October 1997.  Out of print.  Ebook available from Amazon Kindle Direct) with this expectation: Without any interference from priests and politicians, the youth of a wide mixture of ethno-cultural Australians will evolve into an integrated nation, ignoring differences in skin colour and upheld by the nation’s traditional ‘fair-go’ ethos.

Imagine a lightly-coloured Ceylonese Malayan boy, brought up in a British territory (but who had not experienced any discrimination), where the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-coloured people co-existed with mutual tolerance. He entered Australia in 1948 as a fee-paying student at the prestigious University of Melbourne.

To his disgust, he observes a roaring sectarian religious divide, a colonial mentality, and racism. He faced discrimination in service in shops, finding accommodation, and seating on public transport. He was described as a blackfellow (there being no other term in the local lexicon for coloured people other than the indigene). In a fashionable arcade, in spite of being expensively dressed, he was loudly asked “Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?,” in a very aggressive tone. He did wonder at such ignorance, thinking that a similar question should have been addressed to Cook & Co, the white invaders, when they had arrived to dump the products of Britain’s cultural cleansing.

This was White Australia in the 1950s. Yet, this coloured lad eventually reached the rank of Director in the federal public service, becoming responsible progressively for each of the immigrant settlement policies offered through the then Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs during the 1980s. However, he suffered discrimination even within that department – both racial and tribal (the word mass had a weighty influence with the ‘tribals’).

This book weaves fluidly his settlement experiences with his work experiences, in a readable manner, with no bitterness. What was encouraging were the endorsement from senior academics, a number of private agencies, and a variety of immigrants and others. Although out of print, copies of the book can be found in the National Libraries of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia and the State and Territories Libraries of Australia, as well as the top 20 Australian universities.

This book is highly relevant in the light of claims in the 2010s by some ethnic community leaders that racial discrimination legislation is necessary to protect immigrants from being hurt and humiliated by oral insults. Strangely, the initially unwanted non-English speaking European immigrants and the English-speaking Asian students did not get excited by ignorant White Aussie yobbos mouthing off in an effort to protect white British space. As yobbos are endemic, we just ignored them. We did not feel victimised. I say this from my extensive contacts with immigrants.

A relevant review

 Destiny Will Out: The Experiences of a Multicultural Malayan in White Australia by Raja Arasa Ratnam is an interesting book that will give readers a glimpse into the life of Asians living in Australia. The author narrates his personal experiences along with his life and adjusting to Australian life and culture. The author’s observations on Australian life as an immigrant and his perception give the book a genuineness and honesty that readers will appreciate. The humaneness and the concern enable readers to grasp the author’s feelings, emotions, and experiences.

I found the book very fascinating because it exposes readers to a totally new way of life in a foreign land; the author’s comments and opinions are strongly expressed, making the narration more effective. The book also tells readers about the extensive research the author has done on topics relating to tribal population, ethnicity, and other details regarding the culture of Australia.

The perception about Asian children and their education in Australian society is quite an interesting fact and he speaks about racism, the existence of colonial mentality, and the discrimination he was subject to as a student at university. But what makes the book likable is that it has been written with no malice or bitterness and just as the author’s experiences as an immigrant. A heartwarming story that connects well with honesty.” – “Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite 5 stars

 

 

Comparing Modernist and Postmodern Educational Theory

Comparing Modernist and Postmodern Educational Theory

From Xenos Christian Fellowship website

Author: Dennis McCallum

  Modernist Theory Postmodernist Theory
Knowledge Educators ideally should be authoritative transmitters of unbiased knowledge Educators are biased facilitators and co-“constructors” of knowledge.
Culture Culture is something students should learn about, but can also be a barrier to learning. Students from diverse cultures must be trained in a shared language, or medium of communication, before teachers can transmit knowledge to them. The modernist goal of unifying society results in domination and exploitation, because unity is always based on dominant culture. All cultures are not only of equal value, but also constitute equally important realities. Minority students must be “empowered” to fight against Eurocentric enculturation.
Values Traditional modernists believe that educators are legitimate authorities on values, and therefore they should train students in universal values. More liberal modernists argue that education should be “values-neutral.” Teachers help students with “values clarification”–deciding what values each individual student will hold. Values can, and should be separated from facts. The most important values are rationality and progress. Education should help students construct diverse and personally useful values in the context of their cultures. Values are considered useful for a given culture, not true or right in any universal sense. Since teachers cannot avoid teaching their own values, it’s okay for teachers to openly promote their values and social agendas in the classroom. Important values to teach include striving for diversity, tolerance, freedom, creativity, emotions and intuition.
Human Nature Modernists generally believe in a stable, inherent self that can be objectively known. In addition, since humans are thought to have a stable essential nature, IQ tests, and other similar “objective tests”, can be used to discover students’ innate intelligence. By giving them mastery over subject matter, teachers enhance students’ self-esteem. Education helps individuals discover their identities. Individuals and society progress by learning and applying objective knowledge. Students have no “true self” or innate essence. Rather, selves are social constructs. Postmodern educators believe self-esteem is a pre-condition for learning. They view education as a type of therapy. Education helps individuals construct their identities rather than discover them. Individuals and society progress when people are empowered to attain their own chosen goals.

Is this a fair comparison? Does one refer to an integrated people of diverse cultures, whereas the other emphasises the retention of individual cultures in a multi-ethnic nation?

More importantly, the self is a social construct. The family and society, impacting on the innate core propensities of the child, progressively give it self-esteem, and the ability to survive economically.  At the same time, the child is enabled to adapt effectively to its varied societal environments. This process is everywhere the same except in ‘command’ societies.

Is it not true that human and societal behaviour is everywhere the same, and for the same reasons? Beware those who seek to divide people and society according to their prejudices!