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’

Past-life influences

When a little grandson struggled, while seated on his mother’s hip, to reach me each time I visited my daughter, and then hung on to me, I felt that this baby knew me. He had to be the son my wife and I lost 30 years before. My wife had a similar feeling.

Then I met a 6-month old baby relative who seemed to be angry or unhappy for no reason. He was supported by loving family and other relatives. At 3 years, he was still unco-operative and grumpy. By 7, he was a normal happy child. I surmised that a past life had bothered him severely initially.

Reliable research shows that some young children, all over the world, do remember their most recent past life; and that, by about 7 years of age, that memory is totally lost. I have seen videos of young children, clearly under 7, playing with great skill the piano, or the drums, or ‘conducting’ a musical program (in one instance playing with an orchestra). Only inbuilt soul-memories of past-life skills could explain such proficiency, but without the child being necessarily conscious of anything unusual.

Yet, I have had a frightening psychic ‘flashback’ of being buried alive. It was a very real experience, which took me about 3 days to overcome; I was way over 60 years old then! My then attempt to delve into my past lives, through auto-hypnosis, produced scenes involving red sand, again and again.

My urge, when facing overt discrimination, to wield a scimitar, has implications; perhaps of a deliverer of steely justice in another life. Yet, I have never seen a scimitar, but do feel an attraction. My wife noted that, asking why. Perhaps it is a past-life memory, I responded.

As well, when I was sketching designs for fabric painting, my initial designs replicated the shape of the beautiful mosques of Central Asia. So I discovered many years later. Perhaps this is why, in spite of being a Ceylonese, I was born amongst a tolerant Muslim people, the Malays.

Then there was an English fellow-migrant. She and I became blood-brother and sister soon after we met; there was a strong bond between us, discernible to others. Another psychic flashback showed that we had been twin brothers; our skin colour was white. We supported each other psychologically through turbulent lives, although separated by oceans for much of the time.

A local psychic healer, assisted by her Spirit Healer, told me about a couple of my past lives. Her intention was to alleviate physical pains reflecting past-life trauma. She was successful.

Another clairvoyant told me recently that she could see me in my scimitar-wielding past life. This view coincided with my earlier views of Central Asia. Was she reading my mind? Or, do clairvoyants, with assistance from the spirit realm, see scenes of relevance to the client?

In any event, since past-life memories are no doubt attached to one’s soul, could they not occasionally seep into one’s conscious mind or unconsciously affect one’s thoughts? Am I not my soul? With an accumulation of memories from many Earthly lives?

 

 

Extracts from ‘Grounded,’ a short, short story from ‘Pithy Perspectives,’ my book of bicultural fiction

“It is not fair” said Abdul, “not fair at all.”

“What is?” responded Falconio.

“I repeat, it is simply not fair” replied Abdul.

“What?”

 

“That I cannot take off into yonder space.”

“Excuse me, I have heard of the stratosphere.  But where the hell is yonder space?”

“Let me explain, Bird-brain, that yonder space is up there.”

“In that case,” said Falconio waxing eloquent, “why don’t you say ‘up there’?  In fact, up anywhere will do, as long as it is off the ground, right?”

 

“How is it that you are so pedantic?”

“Ah, is that like being pedestrian or pederastic or … … um, my alter-ego seems to be running out of puff.”

“Listen, I don’t want any religious mumbo-jumbo like altars and altar boys intruding into my thoughts.”

 

“What! Are you a priest now?  I was referring only to my subconscious self, my inner spirit who guides and drives me….”

“Wait a minute! You make as much sense as an egg burnt onto a hot plate. You are not offering me any food for thought.”

 

“Well, Falconia says….”

“Who on Earth is Falconia?”

“My inner self.”

……………………

Then said Falconio, with bitterness in his voice, “You seek to deny your nature by breaking out of your Earthbound cocoon. Yet, you deny my nature by denying me freedom and the right to view my surroundings in all its beauty. Take the hood off my head and unchain me. Am I in Guantanamo?”

………………………..

“What ho, Cocko!” said the Djinn to Abdul. Turning to Falconio the falcon, the Djinn added “Beg pardon, my feathered friends, for treating you as subsidiaries. But it is Ab here who has a problem.”

 

“The boat people” – extracts

This is the first short, story from ‘Pithy Perspectives,’ a bicultural series of wacky, or weird, or uplifting or intriguing or imaginative thought-bubbles of mine.

“Go and ask that miserable-looking Asiatic who calls himself captain. Tell him that we need at least two porters.”

“Yes, dear.”

A little later, quite a little later, Rueben returns, looking mystified. “There’s no one in the uniform of a ship’s officer to be seen” he tells Miriam.

“Nonsense,” responds Miriam. “Look more carefully below deck. The officers are probably hiding in their cabins.”

“Why would they do that, dear?”

“Because that’s what these Asiatics are like. They are not comfortable in the presence of white people, are they?”

…………………………….

At the Customs barrier, he sees a bearded Sikh, resplendent in a most colorful turban, talking to a black man, as colleagues might. Approaching the latter, Rueben calls out “You! Come and give us a hand with our luggage. I will pay you well.”

“Pardon?” responds the black man, with the accent of a native of north England.

“I need a hand, man. Let’s go.”

“Excuse me, sir, I am the Immigration Officer on duty here.”

……………………………..

I need to examine your entry papers most carefully. We do not want any more illegal entrants,” says the public servant silkily, with suave satisfaction.

“And I will need to examine the contents of your luggage equally carefully,” interjects the Customs Officer, looking as bland as only an Oriental can, but with a broad Scottish accent. He is careful not to smile, although his turban seems to tremble slightly.

………………………………

Shocked out of her mind at seeing a white man, particularly her husband, doing the work of coolies, Miriam decides that she would compensate for the more brutish life of the future by buying a yacht, as her former compatriots now resident in coastal Sydney had done.

She is not to know that these new arrivals have already been described as the second-wave boat people. Where the first wave had arrived illegally by boat from East Asia in order to escape a ‘red’ regime, the second wave arrived legally to escape a ‘black’ regime, and promptly bought a boat.

 

 

 

 

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.

Cope and adapt – or whinge?

After nearly 7 decades of a highly interactive and contributory life in Australia as an adult, I believe that I am qualified to conclude thus:

  • This is not the country I entered. Then, residents were self-sufficient and relatively poor, displaying respect where appropriate, and with pride in who they were. They adapted very successfully, progressively, to the tremendous changes to their society. ‘God’s Will’ did have a role.
  • Today, new rights have been coined by the greedy and the opportunistic; government is required to accept responsibilities which were traditionally those of individuals, families, and private enterprise. The ‘nanny state’ has arrived.
  • ‘Other peoples’ money’ is thereby demanded to compensate for the evil behaviour of priests; offset the low taxes paid by tax-minimising corporations, especially the multinationals; compensate for the calculated profligacy of individuals; and subsidise the so-called ‘wealth creation’ by the rich (including politicians) benefiting from questionable tax concessions. Taxpayers who have no way of protecting their earnings are increasingly fleeced.
  • Our politicians are not trusted. Governments are seen as pre-occupied with politics, rather than with policies. And the nation is more backward than it should be, while political careers move forward.
  • Early post-war immigrants integrated into the nation successfully, ignoring the prejudice (not always racism) displayed through spoken words and painful acts of discrimination. More recent immigrants, entering a nation considerably tolerant of difference, profess to have been hurt and humiliated by pejorative spoken words!
  • These new arrivals could have no idea of the insults and denial of equal opportunity suffered by those of us who acclimatised superior white Aussies to the presence of people not like them.
  • Welfare is not directed just to offset hardship. It is now a right. Spokesmen for the industry seek a ‘sustainable lifestyle’ for recipients, which includes going to the cinema, etc. etc. Why not? Someone else is paying.
  • Some new arrivals are quick to adapt to the current national ethos: whinge, and whinge yet again.
  • Castles built on clouds will collapse. Wait to hear the cacophony of complaints as the need for greater self-sufficiency zooms sky high (as the river begins to dry out).

“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’!