On religion -probable origins

“I have long wondered how a religious belief could have come about, looking way back into Man’s social history. Before seeking an answer to that question, I had to define what I consider to be religious belief. My conclusion?

A sense or feeling of awe about something or events so powerful, so beyond our control or understanding, so ubiq­uitous, more often than not very frightening, yet uplifting at times. Since our primordial emotional state is anxiety, that is, uncertainty mixed with a degree of fear about what might happen, it is only natural that we would seek to reduce our sense of trepidation or fear.

Normally, when confronted by either an ethereal or a tangible source of anxiety, one either flees or fights. When thunder and lightning, torrential rain and floods, earth­quakes and tsunamis, and such like terrorised primitive Man, did he conjure up or imagine spirits of indefinable form, with malevolent intent, as causing his terror? Indeed, are not beliefs of an animist nature still held in the more simple soci­eties in the world? Did Early Man then also attempt to pro­pitiate the unknown and unseen causes of his terror in some way? Did he subsequently come to conclude that propitia­tion can at times be effective, especially after experiencing a period of relative peace?

Then did some opportunistic fellows set themselves up as competent intermediaries? That is, to intercede between the fearful and the feared – and perhaps for some small reward, price or benefit, which progressively led to control over the fearful? Was this how the shamans, the witchdoctors, the ‘brahmins’, and all other priesthoods came into being?

By interposing themselves as intermediaries able to reach fearsome spirits, and by appearing to appease them, as well as purporting to obtain guidance for the gullible, did the intermediaries then extend their power by subtle threats against both unbelievers and competitors? Were shrines then con­structed as places for placation? Did gifts, ostensibly to bribe the spirits (now possibly described as gods), then lead to the enrichment of the ‘priests’? Did they then begin to conduct ceremonies of some kind to convey the dead to their resting places, to welcome the newborn to the living, and to join in marriage those wanting to create new life?

Did these clever intermediaries use rituals they had devised; accompanied by allegedly explanatory mumbo-jumbo they had also concocted, to subjugate in superstition the fearful? Was this the process which engulfed not only primitive Man, but also the members of the simpler soci­eties which subsequently developed? Claiming to reach the Under-world, or the Over-world, or the mystical domains of those who allegedly have power over mankind must have been persuasive – especially if accompanied by some evi­dence of ill-luck for non-belief or non-compliance!”

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

 

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Quaint concepts: The ‘fabric’ of space and ‘dimensions’

When the Hubble Telescope reported that galaxies (of solar systems, of those stars on fire clustered together as they spin in space) as moving away from one another into infinite space, the layman on Earth was offered an explanation – by analogy. This reported movement of galaxies was comparable to spots on a balloon moving away from one another as the balloon is being blown up. The image of a fabric pertaining to space was now in vogue.

This, instead, was confusing. Space is infinite, not bound by a skin of any kind. The concept of a fabric surrounding space makes no sense.

We were then offered space-time. That does not make sense either. Is time comparable to aether or Consciousness? How so? Is time any more than a measure of events as they occur? Is future time any more then an indication of events to occur? When my initial clairvoyant foresaw an event 12 years ahead (of me addressing a large number of students at a university), did that indicate anything about the nature of time?

An attempt to demonstrate gravity displayed what looked like a mesh (a fabric) with a dip in it; space-time is apparently ‘deformed’ by gravity. The language of mathematics must, however, be more explicitly clear.

Then some speculative cosmologists wrote about the possibility of more than one universe (the ‘multiverse’) in existence, with ‘worm holes’ connecting them; a diagrammatic representation was of a series of ‘balloons’ adjacent to one another.

My reaction is: could not another universe co-exist, perhaps be inter-twined, with our universe, while yet remaining separate in terms of its composition, structure, and operation?

One might therefore conceive reality as composed of more than one dimension. Theories of the structure of the universe include one which postulates about 11 dimensions, most of which are assumed to be rolled into a small apace (so goes the theory I read). These dimensions begin with the three we are all familiar with.

However, there is another concept of dimension. An example is the Afterlife, the temporary residence between Earthly lives. (Although I expect to be there soon, I will not be able to talk about it when I am next embodied; a great pity.)

This dimension would need to be self-contained and self-sufficient, thereby independent of the dimension occupied by us, and yet be related to it. My feeling, based on interactions with spirits, is that this dimension is also here; that is, with us. This would enable certain spirits to reach us; and a few humans enabled to communicate with occupants of this realm.

With no boundaries, no ‘fabric’ of any kind involved, a member of such ‘dimensions’ may co-exist in infinite space, depending upon their functions and related structures. Ethereal links may enable co-existence – even within the same sector of space.

 

Perceiving reality

Is it possible for humans to perceive reality? That raises the issue: what is reality? How will we recognise reality?

I am reminded of my own question throughout my life: how do I know what I know? Both Hinduism and Plato (representing one of the philosophical paradigms of the West) are not encouraging: reality is seemingly shrouded.

Hinduism does, however, offer a pathway – deep meditation. Yet, the report of Paramahansa Yogananda of his spiritual experience is confounding. Is a similar experience available to an ordinary person like me?

Drawing upon both my personal experiences with humanity, and a lot of reading, I am inclined to say that:

  • we each have a unique perception of reality
  • our perceptions are influenced mainly by exposures during this life
  • these exposures would have a cumulative framework of reference
  • our interpretations or registers of such exposures probably (should?) reflect what our souls tell us (in some subtle way)
  • there may be an etheric veil between human perceptions and that which is perceived
  • that what we perceive may only be a projection of what is – if it is tangible
  • if reality is not material but ethereal, do we have the necessary facility to ‘capture’ it?
  • would it matter were conceptions of apparent reality to be variable within normal human relations?
  • material reality may require agreement for safety, sanity, scientific research, etc, leaving the ephemeral to those who could take us beyond the level of existence as we know it
  • perceptions of reality may require use of the ‘third eye’
  • if that is successful, how does mankind or the individual benefit while on Earth?
  • if reincarnation is to allow us to purify our individual souls to enable us to return the the Ocean of Consciousness from which we arose, would that not be the aspect of reality that is relevant to us Earthlings?

Yet, the search for understanding of the meaning of existence  must continue. Perhaps that is reality.

 

Tribalism – the negatives

In the history of mankind, the imperatives of tribalism would, on balance, be the greatest curse of existence. Were we created by God, or through some other means (refer ‘the Adam’ in both the Christian Bible, and the Sumerian writings as interpreted by Zachariah Sitchin) to ignore, or exploit, or fight (to destroy), one another? Surely not!

Evolution from the animal kingdom would, however, explain the primacy of the integrity of tribal conduct. Not only is every other species ‘the other’; but ‘not one of us’ separates tribe from tribe within the same species. Co-operation – by necessity, and its derivative, habit. Competition – by nature!

Competition within the tribe, reflecting greed (especially for power and possessions) would also seem to reflect Nature. We were obviously not formed in the image of anyone’s god.

At the individual level, I have first-hand evidence of efforts made to ensure that one is not bested or out-run in the race to success by any member of the clan. At tribal level, in a multi-ethnic conglomeration, individuals will favour others in the tribe or sharing a nationality; though a shared nationality or citizenship implies – indeed, requires – non-discriminatory conduct and attitudes.

Yet, exploitation of one’s own people is the simplest means to wealth and power – as widely demonstrated within one’s nation; or as expatriates on foreign soil.

The imperatives of an un-domesticated animal nature seem undeniable. Creating ‘the Adam’ by commixing alien DNA and the optimal animal species (homo sapiens?) on Earth (as suggested by Sitchin) would seem to have been a terrible error; an unforeseen consequence.

However, could mankind’s inherited animal nature explain the devastation caused by tribalism at the institutional level? The oldest human institution would seem to be religion. Institutions involve co-ordination and control, with a rising hierarchy. The display of power within, and competition without, seem to be obverse sides of the same visage. However, does power necessarily corrupt the human spirit, or does it simply demean those subject to the power of controlling priests, or both?

When will the leaders of competitive institutional religions, especially their sects, cleanse themselves of any abuse of power, and positively preach the commonality of creation, the shared Earthly existence, and a co-operative and caring mindset covering all humanity? It would, however, be too much to expect the animal nature driving most of business and governance to follow suit.

Humanity needs to be weaned from tribalism. But only after the Sixth Extinction? I hope not!

Were the ancient Hindus, in their cosmology, correct in postulating repeated closures of all existence, followed by renewals? The extra-terrestrials who probably taught them that perspective may have understood the logic of what they taught; that repeated ‘cleansing’ is a must. Improved products may result.

‘A cocoon for contemplation’

As I sit at my window, embraced by in the morning sun, I lethargically ponder the question of existence. I do this as I, with calm joy, view the sea just down the road. The almost-daily sun and the ever-present sea combine to create a contemplative mode of feeling and thinking. Even when the sky is overcast, and the sea is rough, when the white caps become the lashing tail-ends of thunderous seas, and the horizon blends into both sky and sea in a grey-blue misty blur, my mood remains contemplative. How else could it be when the mystery of existence can be examined safely in this cocoon of comfort.

Nature, in all its and ever-changing forms, reflects the influence of its creator. I, also reflecting the influence of that same creator, am therefore in vibrant harmony with nature.

I do, however, accept that it was only when I moved, in retirement, to the Eurobodalla coast, that I could so freely and continuously identify with both nature and our shared Creator. This is a strange feeling. I am simultaneously in tune with the here-and-now, the material world, and the where-is-it world of spirituality. This is, however, not surprising as materiality is only a product of spirituality.

Hence, my small, cheap, fibro-and-tin home, flanked (but at a little distance) by beach, by beach, by beach, well off the traffic flow of the highway, and equally well off the preferred routes of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, is quiet – and therefore peaceful. The only sounds I hear are the waves and the birds; but these can be sporadic. The waves talk to me through the roar of a raging sea at the south-eastern and, often apparently simultaneously, the north-western fronts. The birds who use my many trees as park benches and who feed off the flowers produced by my extensive shrubbery, mind their own business – unless I venture too close to them.

Then, they shout at me to go away, and warn their friends about the interloper. How cheeky! The exception is the chatty and beautiful rainbow lorikeet, which is really very sociable. Occasionally, when I am able to strike the correct tonal note in a whistle emulating the call of the lorikeets to their friends, their chatter will cease, whilst the birds seek the stranger. The magpies too accept me, They allow me to share one of their many foraging stations, which happens to be my back yard. My bird bath needs filling daily; I must be surrounded by the cleanest birds in the district.

All the other varieties of bird life, whose names I do not know (because they do not want to be introduced to me), join with the lorikeets and magpies in using a young native frangipani tree near the bird bath as a slippery slide. This has stunted the tree, but I cannot in my heart remove it.

Embedded in this cocoon of nature, either peacefully quiescent or robustly and rapturously vital, I am able to seek that which was taught to me as a youth – that, near the end of one’s life, when one has completed one’s major familial obligations, one might withdraw from the hurly-burly of life, and to meditate; and to seek to understand the meaning of existence. This is not to ignore any residual obligations – whether inherited, imposed or chosen – in relation to matters horticultural, sporting or social. Does it not make sense to prepare for, or to anticipate, what might be on the Other Side of Earthly Existence; and to atone spiritually for those of one’s sins for which forgiveness is available?

Looking back over my life, I know that I did not choose to move to my little home in this delightful place near the sea. I know that, whilst I was attracted to this particular locality, I did not like the house which somehow I subsequently bought! I therefore know that I was sent here – to give and to learn. To give is to serve one’s community as a volunteer. To learn requires a contemplative life.

For a contemplative life, one’s home might desirably be like a cave, albeit a comfortable one. So, as my soul is refreshed daily by what I see, hear, feel, and absorb from my ‘cave’, I reach out to my Creator, the cause of all things material and spiritual. My home at the Eurobodalla coast is where the heart remains healthy, and the soul (which is said to be located in the heart) searches the Cosmos.

(This essay was written as a message for my family and my few friends – Raja Arasa Ratnam.)

Varying visages of the sea

Some say that humans – that’s us – came out of the sea. I doubt that. I fear the sea. Yet, one cannot deny the possible birthplace of the species. Indeed, the ‘slippery’ ones amongst us seem to confirm a watery origin of the species. Anyway, it is said that our body fluids are either the same as, or are compatible with, sea water. But that does not prevent us from drowning in the sea.

The threat of drowning loomed large when I was a passenger on a 2,000 ton ship crossing the Timor Sea. It was a little ship. We were travelling from Fremantle (on the west coast of Australia) to Singapore. After crossing the Timor Sea, the ship ‘sailed’ between the Indonesian islands to reach Singapore.

The sea was peaceful initially, edged on the east by white beaches (in the main), until we reached waters known for their turbulence. The ship was loaded with fruit, vegetables, and huge, black, big-horned cattle. The horns had sharp points. The red eyes of the animals were not friendly.

Then the ship began its rock-and-roll. The front of the vessel first rose high into the air; then dropped so low that that the sea rushed in through the holes for the anchors. This was followed by a sideways roll. This dance, with the ship then moving up and down while simultaneously lunging from side to side like a football player, ruined many appetites at meal times. Strangely, the ship successfully managed to bob up and down on these rumbustious waters.

Finally, the sea settled. There was no sound anywhere. Watching from a darkened lounge in second class, I observed the sky lit by a million stars, but the starlight did not enable me to see the black sea.

Such is life. The sea’s many faces reflect the changing experiences of human life. The lesson is to ride with the currents of life, however they change, the way the little ship rode the waves.

‘Pithy Perspectives’ – bicultural fiction

While I was writing my 4 non-fiction books, which were intended to ‘contribute to building a bridge from where I came to where I am’ (as suggested by the spirit world), I decided to learn to write fiction. After a time, I put together the best of my experimental writing which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be bi-cultural in approach. Two avid but critical readers, who had influenced my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out,’ encouraged publication.

REVIEW in Writers Voice, June 2112

I recently had the chance to read ‘Pithy Perspectives’ by Raja Arasa Ratnam.

Raja has lived a most interesting life and proved to be a very valuable addition to Australia since he arrived here over six decades ago. His time here spans the period from White Australia to the Multicultural Australia of today. Raja is 82 years old and lived for four years under the Japanese Military. He has held a variety of leadership positions during his residence of more than 60 years in Australia, Raja has tried to impart some of the wisdom he has gathered over the years to you, the reader. Details for some of Raja’s work can be seen on our FAW Bookshelf.

This in an interesting book of 20 or more short stories to really engage the mind. Each story actually has a good opening and dramatic ending.  The stories have a wide ranging background; crazy, frightening, weird, some really lovely, some making fun of human ambitions, and cross-cultural issues.

The last story is really quite intriguing – it is so different –  and will have you feeling really wonderful. I say no more.

It is a very clever book –  a real smorgasbord for the reader – one to sit back and really enjoy. Raja Ratnam is one writer who relishes his craft and has a special ability to impart his knowledge and experiences in written form in an enjoyable way.

The book is available as an EBook in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.  Keep a lookout for Raja’s latest book also, ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’  Trevar Langlands, State President (NSW), Fellowship of Australian Writers Inc.

Review by US Review of Books

reviewed by Maria A. Hughes

“Memory is not a function of age but of significance.”

Ratnam conveys his insight into multiculturalism, human psychology, spirituality, what it means to be human, and the unknown in this collection of bite-sized, esoteric short stories. The reader is not bogged down by heavy-handed philosophical or religious quandaries. Ratnam’s stories are peppered with various forms of intelligent life, including djinns and sentient animals, lending a mythological bent to reality. They especially lend themselves to fans of science fiction, the fantastical, or even the odd.

There are stories that speak to the frailty and limitations of the human spirit while others are of curiosity and redemption. Some are full of hilarity as they jest over the human condition while others are frightening. The stories are whimsical, engaging, unpredictable, a little weird, highly imaginative, and will appeal to a wide audience. They often end on an unexpected, dramatic note, keeping the reader at guessing the outcome.

The last story, “Of Mice and Morality,” is perhaps Ratnam’s best piece. It is captivating, thought-provoking, poetic, and will leave the reader feeling inspired by the end of it. The author has truly written a smorgasbord of stories which will appeal to a wide array of people. Pithy Perspectives is perfect for the person who desires to read something that is intellectually stimulating but at the same time entertaining, easy to understand, and short enough that the book can be read and enjoyed in snippets.

Review of ‘Pithy Perspectives’ on YouTube

This truly is a smorgasbord of short stories. With 21 wonderful short stories to choose from, I decided to skip about and read in no particular order- simply because I could due to the way the author crafted this book.

‘Grounded’ quickly became an early favorite as I liked the interaction of the characters but dear Rueben in ‘The Boat People’ reminded me much of the delightfully browbeaten Richard in Keeping Up Appearances on PBS.

‘Nothing Fishy at the Seaside’ was another story that stood out as I liked the idea of the story and it made my brain work double time.

The last story, ‘Of Mice and Morality,’ was captivating, thought-provoking, poetic, and left me feeling inspired by the end of it.

After much debating, I find choosing a favorite from these delightful gems is a task that is far more difficult than it seems. While they are stand-alone stories, they flow nicely together when read one after the other.

The author managed to take an eclectic mix of stories and create a book that one can read a little at a time or in one sitting with the same outcome – a true pleasure to read. The stories are engaging, unpredictable, a little weird, highly imaginative, and will appeal to a wide audience.

If you appreciate exceptional short fiction like I do I’m sure you’ll enjoy this 5 star collection. It’s available on Kindle at a very affordable price.

Review by William Potter of Independent Author Network

 

 

 

 

DEATH – More notable quotes

Better to flee from death than feel its grip.

HOMER, The Iliad

We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, Religio Medici

Death, in itself, is nothing; but we fear,

To be we know not what, we know not where.

JOHN DRYDEN, Aureng-Zebe

Our life dreams the Utopia. Our death achieves the Ideal.

VICTOR HUGO, Intellectual Autobiography

You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face.

IAN FLEMING, You Only Live Twice

Morn after morn dispels the dark,

Bearing our lives away;

Absorbed in cares we fail to mark

How swift our years decay;

Some maddening draught hath drugged our souls,

In love with vital breath,

Which still the same sad chart unrolls,

Birth, eld, disease, and death.

BHARTRHARI, “Against the Desire of Worldly Things”

 

(Ha! My death will take me to a better place. It will enable me to gird my loins – so to imagine – before I undergo my next phase of moral cleansing on Earth. So I have been told!)
 

DEATH – quotes from Buddhism

DEATH – Quotes from Buddhism

With mind far off, not thinking of death’s coming,
Performing these meaningless activities,
Returning empty-handed now would be complete confusion;
The need is recognition, the spiritual teachings,
So why not practice the path of wisdom at this very moment?
From the mouths of the saints come these words:
If you do not keep your master’s teaching in your heart
Will you not become your own deceiver?  Tibetan Book of the Dead

 

From a Buddhist point of view, the actual experience of death is very important. Although how or where we will be reborn is generally dependent on karmic forces, our state of mind at the time of death can influence the quality of our next rebirth. So at the moment of death, in spite of the great variety of karmas we have accumulated, if we make a special effort to generate a virtuous state of mind, we may strengthen and activate a virtuous karma, and so bring about a happy rebirth. The Dalai Lama

 

Life is uncertain; death is certain.

Death carries off a man busy picking flowers with an besotted mind, like a great flood does a sleeping village.

There are those who do not realise that one day we all must die.
But those who do realise this settle their quarrels.

Here will I live in the rainy season, here in the autumn and in the summer: thus muses the fool. He realizes not the danger (of death).

The Buddha

 

My delight in death is far, far greater than
The delight of traders at making vast fortunes at sea,
Or the lords of the gods who vaunt their victory in battle;
Or of those sages who have entered the rapture of perfect absorption.
So just as a traveler who sets out on the road when the time has come to go,
I will not remain in this world any longer,
But will go to dwell in the stronghold of the great bliss of deathlessness.
The Last Testament of Longchenpa

 

(From ‘A view of Buddhism’. On the Internet)

David Bohm on Consciousness

“Deep down, the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty because even in the vacuum, matter is one; and if we don’t see this, it’s because we are blinding ourselves to it.

Consciousness is a coherent whole, which is never static or complete, but which is in an unending process of movement and unfoldment.

Consciousness is much more of the implicate order than is matter . . . Yet at a deeper level [matter and consciousness] are actually inseparable and interwoven , just as in the computer game the player and the screen are united by participation.

We are internally related to everything, not [just] externally related. Consciousness is an internal relationship to the whole, we take in the whole, and we act toward the whole. Whatever we have taken in determines basically what we are. Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.”

From a very young age I wondered how I know what I know. It had to be consciousness, right? What then is consciousness? Do the above quotes help in understanding what it is? I am not sure.

Then, there is the following extract from ‘The physicist as mystic’ by David Lewis in ‘Forbidden History’ by Douglas Kenyon (ed).

“In his plasma experiments at the Berkeley Laboratory, Bohm found that individual electrons act as part of an interconnected whole.

In plasma, a gas composed of electrons and positive ions in high concentration, electrons more or less assume the nature of a self-regulating organism, as if they were intelligent. Bohm found, to his amazement, that the subatomic sea he created was conscious.”

Reality, at this level, is most confusing.