Destiny – God – and the spirit realm

“ What was to happen to me, and thus to my family, was actually foretold to my mother and me soon after my father’s demise, but in an indirect and somewhat casual manner by a visiting yogi. But, his message or warning had not registered with us. Thus, we had to perform the dance of Destiny as laid out for us. So, why was he sent to alert us?” … …

“My present understanding of Destiny is that we are indeed marionettes, the puppet master being a set of circumstances set up by ourselves. That is, we have free will, exercised both autonomously and reactively. By our actions and thoughts, we set in train the Cosmic Law of Cause and Effect; that is, the Law of Cosmic Justice (or Karma, as the Hindus term it).

We, in each life on Earth, carve out the banks and the rocky impediments through and over which will flow the river of our personal destiny in the next life, even as we obey the imperatives of Destiny in our current life. The latter would have been carved out in previous existences. Just as there are scientific laws which govern our physical lives, so there seem to be cosmic laws which govern our existence from birth to death, and thereafter.

Thus, in each life, I will paddle on the river of my personal Destiny. My trajectory will be within the walls of the canyon and over those rocky impediments I had carved out during my past life. As I paddle, relate to others, and respond to circumstances reflecting both the Law of Chance and the cosmic unavoidables (exercising what free will seems available), I will be carving out the framework for my next life, paying off my cosmic debt, and improving myself spiritually (if that is what I want).

Seems reasonable, does it not? Thus, I reached the conclusion, as said by some guru, that karma, like shadows, follows one everywhere. I also felt that chance must have an independent role in the circumstances of my life.

So where is God in all this? All that is required from the one and only Creator is to set up the mechanisms underpinning our lives and relationships, let them evolve as appropriate, and allow us to choose our own path and bed. In some circumstances, He/She might choose to intervene in our lives.

But then, why not leave that work to the higher beings in the spirit world? They certainly seem to have been active in my life. Indeed, I can testify that I have received the odd message – and in a timely manner!

In so doing, were my spirit guides acting on their own? Or, were they only instruments of Destiny? If the latter, were they guiding me to optimise the opportunities available in my path of Destiny to improve my life-chances in both my current and future lives? Or, were they acting at the behest of God, who had chosen to intervene in my life? “

These are extracts from my second memoir (and a very personal one) titled ‘The Dance of Destiny’. Like ‘The Karma of Culture,’ ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity,’ and ‘Musings at death’s door,’ it was Recommended by the US Review of Books.

 

 

 

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’.

“I am not allowed it. So you cannot have it”

The weirdest policy I have come across is a Roman Catholic practice relating to the nether-lands of women. In order to increase its following, local priests in Australia asked (as I was told by colleagues) each couple in their congregation to produce 6 children; with birth control denied. Quaintly, the Protestants and non-Christians are also denied birth control. Would not their populations also increase?

More pertinently, why does this Church interfere in the lives of non-believers? The degree of mental and social control by Catholic priests was so extensive that, even today, in the second decade of the 21st century, their values and attitudes , which were prevalent in the 1950s (as I observed), are being strongly asserted by politicians (sotto voce, of course).

The current trigger for this retrograde stance is a renewal of a claim, supported by about 80 to 85% of the Australian people over decades (but ignored – or denied – by our so-called representatives in parliaments), to permit voluntary (repeat, voluntary) euthanasia in very limited circumstances.

A few European (Catholic) nations allow it. But we are British, and are thereby different. Surely we are different; we are an officially secular nation, but are ruled by Vaticanite social policies in our parliaments. A minority of the population has successfully taken over the nation’s policies.

Hence, theology over-rides compassion. In defence of a theocracy-based denial of the end-of-life needs of a few non-Catholics, there is a sustained reference to ‘killing,’ ‘the slippery slope,’ as well to the imputed venality of the descendants of those who may be seeking relief – hitherto unavailable – from grievous unrelieved pain! Compassion for a fellow human being should surely over-ride religious dogma. What is being effectively said is “Since we are not allowed this relief because of our faith, you should not have it either.” Why not? I doubt if the Heavenly Father is involved here.

In this multicultural nation, there is a diversity of religious beliefs (and non-beliefs). Can we morally afford a dog-in-the-manger stance? I look forward to watching those politicians opposing compassion (in the name of Christ, presumably) doing their role-playing in defence of the indefensible!

Voluntary euthanasia, when made available to the citizens of Australia, will not require Catholics to practice it. Freedom of choice, yes?

 

 

A moral leader of mankind – the USA

What could be the legacy of the US Empire? What do the Monroe Doctrine nations show? What evidence is there of governments in these nations displaying adequate respect for basic human rights, viz. freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and gender equality? How would these compare with the legacy of the British Empire in India? How about good governance, edu­cation, employment opportunities, housing, health services, clean water, toilets, and gender and caste equality?

Or, is it the case that an empire of political and cultural influence, a hegemonic empire, has no concern about such issues; that each government within the penumbra of US influence is autonomous in relation to human rights and associated institutions; that the policies within these coun­tries of interest to the metaphoric ‘godfather’ relate only to international relations, access by the godfather to relevant resources and markets, the purchase of compatible arma­ments labelled ‘Made in USA,’ and a readiness to join killing ‘coalitions of the willing’ under the nominal leadership of the UN or NATO?

Yet, this neo-colonising nation is the only major power which has shown any inclination to protect a minority here and there in the world from being butchered. As well, minority peoples within the USA seem to enjoy equal opportunity, especially if associated with personal initiative, enabling them to rise to positions of some power. Is there any evidence that such opportunity is available in the former colonising nations for those of their coloured chicken who have come ‘home’ to roost?

Thus, the USA can become a moral leader for mankind. Should we Aussies hold to this hope?

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

The excesses of exceptionalism

A claim of national exceptionalism has infused the global political scene. It is a version of the ‘chosen people.’ We now have a Western nation which, since about 70 years ago, has claimed the right to extend its influence over the nations of Central and South America to intervene in the affairs of nations all over the globe. Its approaches are multifarious. Its rationale (or rationalisation) reflects tactical creativity, backed by high-sounding concepts implying lofty moral intent.

Seemingly allied to (unidentified) local nations with possibly less-than-lofty intent, and ambitious conglomerations seeking to occupy high chairs, an effort to damage axes-of-evil nations or leaders has led to terrible tragedy in the Middle East. What has been the gain to this nation claiming to be exceptional and to its allies?

On the contrary, the penultimate claim of exceptionalism, by a cluster of nations in Europe – the ‘innately’ superior ‘white race’ colonising a great swathe of each continent over half a millennium – achieved substantial material advantages to these nations, with a side-benefit of accruing many coloured souls to the bosom of Christ.

Christian colonialism, however, destroyed or damaged many societies all over the world, and left a legacy of ongoing tribal conflict everywhere. The European nations have now effectively returned to their own borders. Their recent efforts to achieve a united Europe are, interestingly, being undermined by the odd member-nation seeking the benefits of communalism while exercising the rights of individualism.

There is also a re-vitalised Asian nation now claiming to be exceptional. It relies upon ‘traditional’ ownership of adjoining lands and sea. Were this nation to adopt a ‘pay-back’ stance in relation to those Western nations (plus Japan) for the depredations caused by the latter over a couple of recent centuries, the exceptionalism claims of both nations will be constrained.

After all, there can be only one large mastiff in any paddock. With two, there will be competition, with terrible collateral damage most probable. The current debacle in Syria and Iraq will look like a sandpit squabble were there to arise a battle as to whose exceptionalism is bigger.

Empires do tend to fade into the sunset. Protection for the small nations can, in the meanwhile, be provided by a global governance under the mantle of a tripartite agreement between, say, three powerful nations. Alternatively, a number of agreed spheres of interest may avoid the terrible destruction resulting from the excesses of exceptionalism.

“You people are always … … “

Wow! I remain ‘you people’ after more than half a century of having lived , as an adult, a highly-interactive and contributory life in Australia – which is becoming increasingly colour and culture-blind.

“You people are always having riots over there” (Malaysia/Singapore, my birthplace). The only riot in Malaysia was in 1969; the skirmish in Singapore at about that time was a minor one. Then, a retired war-horse, a Vietnam War veteran, claimed that “You people are always fighting one another over there.” ‘Over there’ was now south-east Asia. Both men were within my social circles. These 2 instances stand out in my memory.

What was their problem? They represented a people which had ‘lorded it’ over the Australian indigene; and did not like ‘uppity’ blacks (Aborigines) and other coloured people (Asians). The traditional ‘tall poppy’ syndrome, manifest in a tendency to cut down any achievers who had risen above their class (in an allegedly classless nation), had now to put down any coloured high-flyers. The underpinning psychological demons rattling the comfort zones of those who did not want ‘them’ to become ‘one of us’ is pretty obvious. Get over it, Guys!

More interestingly, some Vietnam War veterans (incredibly) want to commemorate, on Vietnamese soil, a battle which the Vietnamese lost to the Aussies. While this story always refers to the small number of Aussie out-numbered troops involved, little is written about the heavy artillery bombardment which was responsible for the many Vietnamese killed.

As well, it is a fact that the USA and Australia were driven out of Vietnam by the Viets. These 2 white nations had no business being there. The domino theory was a furphy. South-east Asia was in no danger of being over-run by non-existent communists. There is seemingly an urge by some Aussies now to celebrate a sole victory in a series of lost (and losing) wars since the successes of the war in the Pacific during WW2.

But – to commemorate this win in the land they unsuccessfully invaded? How sensitive!  The arrogance of the colonial-minded Westerner will not, of course, endure. I say this as a known anti-colonial and anti-communist. As my father repeatedly advised, freedom heads the list of human needs.

My interview on ABC Radio

I received a surprising invitation this week from Fiona Wyllie of ABC Western Plains (based in Dubbo, NSW) to talk on air as to whether state governments or the federal government have responsibility for immigration policy; and could I also comment on the broader issues involved. She referred to my past as Director of Settlement Services, as well as all other related areas, in the then Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.

Fiona had interviewed me, on behalf of ABC South Coast, 20 years or so ago, about my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia.’ A scheduled 4-minute interview ended 22 minutes later.

Apart from my own settlement experiences, I had worked (as a Director) in all of the following policy and operational areas: ethnic affairs (and multiculturalism); citizenship (and national identity); refugee and humanitarian entry; and all areas of migrant settlement assistance (viz. migrant hostels – including childcare and recreation; the grant-in-aid scheme and migrant resource centres; community-assisted settlement – CRSS; and language services – translation and interpretation.

When I wrote that book, I was probably the only person in the country with direct experience of all these wonderful efforts to guide immigrants and refugees to integrate into a nation which offered equal opportunity. It was not surprising that the Department bought a copy of the book; it was, according to the senior academics who offered accolades, the first time that all of these policies had been set out and explained in a single package. As well, the policies had been interwoven into an Asian immigrant’s personal story of cross-cultural interaction.

Fiona also wanted to know why a prominent businessman had said that he would talk with a State Government about an immigration matter. Did State Governments have any responsibility for immigration approval?

My comments to Fiona were as follows:

  • Only the federal Minister for Immigration has responsibility for migrant entry to Australia
  • She would have to ask the businessman why he would approach a State Government about an immigration issue;
  • Anyone in the community could ‘make representations’ to federal immigration officials or the minister about the entry of non-residents;
  • That immigrant, refugee and humanitarian entry had, in my day, been stringently controlled. Applicants were assessed during a personal interview by immigration officials as to their ability to settle successfully in Australia.
  • I am unsure whether there is now reliance on immigration agents in the country of departure to vet an applicant’s claims; that is, whether Australian officials actually sighted an applicant.
  • With equal opportunity available to all accepted entrants, and a barrage of settlement assistance offered, settlement has been successful, resulting in a cosmopolitan nation, tolerant or accepting of cultural difference.
  • I had previously questioned the need for a multiculturalism policy, with the government telling us how to relate to one another; and the expensive, parallel, ethnic community-based settlement assistance.

I did not point out to Fiona that PM Howard and Premier Carr had been correct in replacing the emphasis on cultural diversity (and its retention) in favour of a shared citizenship; or that all entrants had to accept and adapt to Australia’s institutions (especially the law) and its social mores.

In the light of my experience and observations of immigrant integration, I counsel against broad assertions about experiencing prejudice (which relates only to words and attitudes) and discrimination (acts actually denying equal opportunity on the basis of skin colour or culture). How prevalent and generalised are these? One can be unduly sensitive.

 

Denial of freedom for religious reasons

A minority religious community (a Christian one) has successfully denied freedom of choice in certain key areas of Australian social policy to fellow citizens not sharing their dogma. With an exaggerated emphasis on the procreative aspects of women, restrictions in these areas of social policy impinge upon all residents, irrespective of their divergent religious beliefs and associated values.

How had this minority been able to have its religious dogma-based values over-ride the clear boundary between faith and politics which should apply in a modern democratic Western nation?

Is Western democracy, as practised in Australia, the allegedly superior version of accountable government, now being sold with much vigour to non-Western cultures in Asia and the Pacific, responsible for this unrepresentative and unbalanced outcome?  Isn’t Western democracy secular, with diverse communities of believers free to practice, or not, their faith (with all or some of the associated dogma)?

What is the rationale, ethical or legal, for denying members of other Christian sects, or of other religions, or non-believers in institutional religion, or even atheists and agnostics, freedom of choice as to how they live their personal lives, and without interference in the lives of others? Who should decide, and on what criteria, that a right or practice unacceptable to a religious minority should be taboo for all citizens? What can one say about a political process which enables this inequitable outcome?

In a secular society displaying a variety of religio-cultural value systems, should not freedom of choice according to personal conscience be granted by legislation, and indeed captured by a national bill of rights?  How does a Western democracy based upon representative government permit the oppression of alternative values as recently applied in the former Soviet Empire?

(The above is a modified half of an article of mine published in www.ezinearticles.com titled ‘Denial of freedom of choice.’)

 

Freedom of choice

The durian is a tropical fruit whose extraordinary pungent odour and piquant taste have divided people into true lovers and decided haters over the centuries. Those who relish the egg yolk coloured squishy flesh swear that it is a wonderful delicacy. But there is nothing delicate about its impact. On the other side of the fence are those who are disdainful of the powerful aroma emanating from it.

Yet the fruit has not been legislatively banned. No one seems to have sought to have it declared obnoxious. This might reflect the tolerant philosophies of ancient Asian cultures. There is freedom of choice: one does not have to eat the fruit just because it is there, or because others desire it.

Now imagine this situation. In an inland town, the local Council-owned swimming pool offers, for a single month preceding the summer holidays, free entrance and lessons. The reason? Each summer, at least one child drowns in the sea about 3 hours’ drive away. Is it probable that anyone might reject this offer on the ground that their offspring might drown in the pool while taking lessons? Is it also possible that someone might deny the children the opportunity to drown-proof themselves, arguing that swimming in a pool with foreigners is not within their cultural parameters?

That is, would they reject a service, much-needed by many, on tribo-cultural grounds? Indeed, might they then argue that the free service should be disallowed because it runs counter to their traditional beliefs?

Then, there are those of a certain religious persuasion who will not accept blood transfusion; but do not deny access by fellow residents to this procedure. In a comparable manner, another religious community rejects meditation as a practice, claiming certain adverse probable outcomes; yet another community will not join the nation’s military or work for the government. Neither religious community, however, denies the right of members of other religious persuasions to meditate, fight for the nation, or work in government administration. That is, they accept freedom of choice as the right of fellow citizens, especially in an officially secular nation.

(The above is an extract from an article of mine published in http://www.ezinearticles.com. titled ’Denial of freedom of choice.’)