WILL ALL RELIGIONS LEAD TO THE OCEAN OF CONSCIOUSNESS?

I became deeply interested in religion – in the feeling, its probable causes, and its expression – at age 24. I began to read about these issues while I was also studying psychology. A not unconnected trigger for my interest was my waving a fist in the direction of the sky, saying “To hell with you” about 3 years earlier. That was because my life-chances had been scuttled by then, for ever.

Yet, by age 30, I had decided that, logically, there had to be a Creator for all that is. By 40, after repeatedly dipping into books on religion (especially a massive tome published by the University of Essex), I decided that all the major religions are equal in their potential; provided that the detritus of divisive dogma was discarded.

This would leave only the 2 core beliefs shared by them; these being: There is a Creator ultimately responsible for the Universe; and that, as we humans are co-created, we are bonded to one another.

By age 50, I realised that only Hinduism offered a cosmology – and what a vista! By age 60, having discovered Easwaran’s ‘The Upanishads,’ I began to obtain a glimpse of mankind’s place in the Universe.

I then contrasted the cosmology of Western science with that of the Hindus. Strangely, there was a broad congruence between the concepts used by some modern speculative scientists and the language (and concepts) of Hinduism. These scientists may have read Hindu metaphysics. The reflection by the latter philosophy of the ancient Vedas also seems warranted by planetary configurations mentioned in the Vedas having reportedly been confirmed, all the way back to 9,000 years ago.

Reading Vivekhananda, Yogananda, and Aurobindo in some detail by age 70, I realised that, in the absence of Good Books of the kind available to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, able Hindu commentators such as these, as well as that great epic the Mahabharatha, had contributed to those vibrant but diverse rivers pouring into the vast lake of Hinduism. There are other lakes of religious belief, large or small, fed by other faith rivers throughout the globe.

In the way that most rivers on Earth flow into their respective seas, all of which are part of a single global ocean surrounding raised lands, there is now a great need for all the lakes of religious belief to have access (for the benefit of their adherents) to that Ocean of Consciousness from which we humans are believed to have risen; and to which we are expected to return eventually.

With a parallel thought, my advice to a few individuals claiming a superior (and exclusive) faith is this. “When you reach that single door to the Celestial Abode, you can expect to find yourself shaking hands with followers of other faiths.”

All strands of existence, whether material or ephemeral, should surely be coming together, all inter-mingled, on an on-going flow through time, just as the waters of Earth’s rivers eventually reach a single global ocean of Earth.

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’

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.’

Why fear death?

A fellow senior citizen said to me recently, in the context of our exchange of sympathy for our respective age-related ailments, “This is better than the alternative.” “Which is?” I enquired. “Death” was the reply. She is an ardent church-goer!
How terrible, I thought to myself, to fear a natural progression. Birth (or creation), life (or existence), and death (destruction or dissolution) represent an unavoidable sequence in a material world. We humans are destined to die. How one dies may cause concern.

Why then fear death? It seems to offer liberation or peace. Those who genuinely fear death appear to have been affected by their priests; or are worrying about where their souls may go. In my experience, these are the religious ones. All the others I have talked with accept death as a normal eventuality; and that where we go is not knowable. They are not fussed by that agnostic perspective. Many do not care! Their view is pragmatic: we live, then we die.

Since I believe in the reincarnation process (there is adequate reliable research evidence to prove its reality), I am simply curious about my future life in what I refer to as the After-life. As I will be discarnate, and thereby insubstantial, will my new home be equally insubstantial? Will I meet other former humans? (Not too many, I sincerely hope.) In this context, I did not like being told by my first clairvoyant (the one who had introduced me to the spirit of my uncle) that where I am going “will not be that different from here.”

Yet, I would like to meet the ‘higher beings’ who had sent the spirit of my favourite uncle to guide me in my spiritual development. That I would “not meet God” is OK with me.

The After-life (or Way Station or R&R Transit Depot) is calling me. I cannot remember having sojourned there after each of my previous lives – of which I believe there have been many. Since quite a few of my Earthly lives were horrendous (according to a couple of Seers), the Afterlife would have been, on occasions, equivalent to a recovery ward in a hospital.

Now it is going to be a library, according to that clairvoyant. How wonderful.

Welcoming Death

I am looking forward, with great anticipation, to meeting Death; hopefully, soon. I have achieved mental and spiritual peace after a long and turbulent life – during which I have learned a great deal (so I believe) about the human condition and human society; and have achieved a smidgen of understanding about the place of mankind in the Universe.

I am satisfied that the material realm within which we live, frolic and suffer (but obviously not simultaneously) is only the crust of that environment which is relevant for human existence – much like the mantle covering Earth below which lies its engine room.

My substantial exposure to the spiritual (and thereby ephemeral) domain has resulted in my awareness of 3 realities – the physical, the mental, and the ethereal. I now know that the mental can exist beyond the material after death, having been initially derived substantially from the brain (with a probable input from soul memory). I also know that the spirit realm co-exists with our material realm, but is probably located in another (non-cosmic) domain.

I find it interesting that the speculative cosmologists of science (I instance David Bohm) and the ancient metaphysical Hindus who conceived their complex cosmology seem to be on the same page in their efforts to explain reality at multiple levels. Naturally, one needs to go beyond that most reliable scientific method to deal with the ephemeral.

I do wonder whether the material is only a projection of the ephemeral; or that the ephemeral is an abstraction from the material. I prefer the former perspective, with seeming support from Plato and Hindu cosmology.

Anyway, I do need to move to what I refer as the After-life, in order to continue my learning (as promised by a clairvoyant with verifiable communication with the spirit realm). All my life, I have had this urge to know – and to understand. With understanding there may be opportunities to acquire some wisdom.

Repeated sojourns in the After-life should ultimately result in a clear understanding of what all inter-linked cosmic existence is about.

Destiny-formation and power

My mind is challenged by the following: “If you hold others as fully responsible for their own destiny, you ennoble them by treating them as equals.”

How could we humans be held as fully responsible for our personal destinies? Yet, Hindu (and Buddhist) philosophy holds that, through the reincarnation process, we (who are equals in the eyes of God) shape our future lives. Thus, we may find ourselves in each life paddling along our personal river of destiny sitting on a flimsy branch of a tree, or a solid log, or a frail sampan, or an oar-less boat. But we surely cannot be fully responsible for what happens during each Earthly life.

For example, consistent with the parameters of my destiny, I was given appropriate genes, parents, and teachers to cope with whatever may happen in my life. None of this was predictable. How could I have been responsible for the major events of my life? Much of it was quite painful. Even if my past lives had influenced the trajectory of my present life, and the lessons I have to learn, both life experiences and logic imply that I cannot control external impacts in a complex inter-connected universe. Then there is chance.

How others view me matters only if they have power over my life. Examples of the truly powerless are slaves, the lower castes of India, minority tribes everywhere, women in patriarchal societies, feudal subjects, workers in under-developed countries, etc. etc. Those caught within these categories cannot, in fairness, be held to be fully responsible for their current destiny paths.

Therefore, does not reality overlay religious philosophy? Yet, in day-to-day life, should we not view the materially dispossessed as our spiritual equals? And do what we can to lift their Earthly hopes? And thus for them to seek a better future life, while accepting and adapting to the vicissitudes of their current lives.

The perennial question is – how does society (through its rulers) ameliorate the inordinate greed which exaggerates the inequalities of life? Those at the top of the politico-economic tree usually want more cake from everyone; while those near the base of the tree cannot but seek a slice of any bread earned by those some way up the tree.

For most of us, destiny is to be powerless, except in relation to matters of the spirit. Then we can soar.

“Woe is me! I am humiliated.”

Who are those claiming to be hurt and humiliated by words uttered by others? Should I have felt insulted by being asked repeatedly whether I would join ‘the faith’ for my ‘salvation?’ Instead, I saw the speakers as well-meaning but not educated. When, recently, a former Church worker claimed that the one and only God of the universe is a Christian god, all the other gods being ‘pantheistic,’ I challenged his arrogance. I suggested that Christianity is a late entrant in humanity’s search for the First Cause of all that is. Were these people racists?

At a political level, when Lee Kuan Yew, the former leader of Singapore, offered a more efficient definition of democracy, he was attacked by the West. Was he insulted? Instead, his Ambassador to the UN published ‘Can Asians really think?’ That closed down further challenges; were they racist?

Significantly, Singapore is ahead of Australia at so many levels of governance – from education to economic development, based on long-term plans; not, as in Australia, waiting for foreigners to invest (if they chose). A silly accusation recently was that, although students in Singapore are ahead of their Australian counterparts in maths, they could not possibly understand the underlying concepts. Racism or dented white superiority?

More ridiculously, the terms ‘race’ or ‘racial’ are applied, almost as a mantra, to a wide variety of allegedly hurtful utterances. Thus, Australia’s ‘racial’ legislation denying free speech is defended as offering protection against any criticism of Israel’s policies! The Catholic Church is also said to need similar protection (something I do not understand). The Australian Aborigines, the only First Nation Peoples not recognised in the Constitution, do need protection from insults; but how are they to access any protection which might be available?

Then, there are the seemingly newly-arrived immigrants who, unlike their predecessors over half a century, claim to be humiliated, hurt, or offended by foolish words by silly people. Offensive words? That depends on whether one is easily offended. Some people are. Why?

Were such people never spoken to disdainfully ‘back home’? Could there be any intangible benefit in claiming to be psychologically damaged by unfriendly or ugly words in Australia?

We early immigrants were genuine ‘adventurers’ who crossed land and sea to start a new life, and to better ourselves. We ignored (or retaliated occasionally against) denigrating words. We were not wimps to feel ‘humiliated’ by words from the ignorant.

Words may hurt only if one lets them. Why allow that?

 

This is a re-titled re-post triggered by those who seek legislation to punish: those who say nasty things to them; or who challenge any of Israel’s policies; or who had been misled by the multicultural policy prevailing in the 1970s and 1980s which was intended to enable some ethnic empowerment and thus to capture ‘ethnic votes.’

Underlined by the ‘fair-go’ philosophy, Australia does offer equal opportunity to those who wish to integrate into the nation, by accepting its institutions and societal mores (the latter do evolve through time). Barriers reflecting gender bias, sectarian religion, colour prejudice, or even personal preference can be expected to arise. All these barriers do not reflect something termed ‘race’!