We really know nothing

Socrates reportedly claimed “I know nothing.” That statement resonates with me. After a sound colonial education, wide reading, thinking deeply about almost everything that affects us as human beings, comparing what the scientists are saying about cosmology with the beliefs offered by religions, and after a highly interactive and contributory life as an adult for 7 decades, I too feel that I know nothing.

But then, from about age 8, when I seemingly became aware that I had a brain with an associated mind, I began to ask myself “How do I know what I know?” No one could help me answer that question. The obvious answer? “I do not know!”

Continuing on a subjective plane of contemplation, are there not situations when one just ‘knows’ something, or about something? There are those who read the past accurately, or foretell the future accurately, or accurately read the thoughts of others, or see what is happening elsewhere (not always confirmable) – but seem untouched by their ability. It is as if they are merely conduits. My experience covers all these phenomena.

There are also those who communicate with the spirits of dead humans; and who say that the spirit realm influences – indeed, guides – some of us. As well, there is intuition, an understanding without perceivable cause; the so-called ‘third eye’ is often credited with this ability.

Is it therefore probable that those who seek knowledge, even through what we know as the sciences, can ever be certain that the explanations offered are (realistically) no more than theories, tentative in nature? What if some (many?) theories cannot be tested – ever? Does the use of mathematical calculations prove (that is, beyond challenge) any theory? Or, would a rigorous application of mathematical processes merely enhance the probability of the causal relationship being tested being potentially verifiable, were a process of verification to become available?

Since maths is apparently not created but discovered, does the human brain, drawing on only 5 senses (enhanced by some appropriate equipment), have the capacity to access the totality of the information which may be available? Worse still, the scientific method, which tells us reliably about the mechanistic material realm, is unable to deal with the ethereal realm. How do we obtain reliable information about matters neither measurable nor repeatable?

In reality, we puny humans can only hope to achieve a tentative understanding of matters of relevance to existence, by drawing upon what is set before us as knowledge, relying upon that ephemeral ability known as intuition. If only we could avoid being led into blind alleys by purveyors of faith in both the material and immaterial realms.

Knowing nothing, and awaiting hopefully for some slight infusion of insight from the ethereal realm may be sensible, while reconciling the tie to the material realm of Earth with that innate yearning for communing with the insubstantial Divine.

A Seeker of knowledge may thus need to settle for an understanding drawn from intuition, where the objective may actually be subjective!

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Speaking American English on Australian tv

For years, the Australian media has tended to follow any new developments in American media. For example, way back in the 1960s, when some radio advertisers in the USA began to shout their messages, Australia followed. Until recently, a particular presenter on Australian tv shouted his wares as if he had to rush off to void something.

Then, more recently, tv news readers on the national broadcaster and on the multicultural channel (part subsidised) began to interview reporters during the news broadcast. Unlike the olden days, when the speech sounds were (sort-of) British, the accents heard in recent decades were those of educated readers speaking Australian English.

Now, there has developed a new trend. Increasingly, some presenters and reporters are attempting to speak American English. I set out below a letter I wrote for publication in my local newspaper; it did not see the light of day.

“Speaking American English on ABC tv and SBS tv

It is fascinating to hear some Aussie newsreaders and reporters on ABC tv and SBS tv attempting to speak American English. They do this by accenting the first syllable; for example, Sah-hara (the desert), dough-nation, dee-fence. Increasingly, we also hear nairies and tawries, like ordi-nairy and terri-tawry.

Are we preparing for the privatisation of these two institutions? Or for that desirable shift from satrapy to new American state? Heh! Heh!

In view of the probable isolation of Australia on the edge of Asia, when mother hen progressively gathers the chicks wandering about on their own up north, as well as for a desirable shift in Australia away from policies based on welfare to individual enterprise and effort, and for us not having to pay for our military equipment, I have recommended in my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’ that Australia should seek to become the next state of the USA.

Although my adopted nation (of which I have reason to be proud) is clearly a satrapy of the US hegemonic empire, rushing off to back the USA in any conflagration commenced by it, our media and politicos pretend that we a middle power. That we may be as well, but we cannot be an Asian nation.

I find it fascinating to hear how some readers and reporters try to emphasise that first syllable in what apparently is the way Americans speak. However, some words, like ‘missils’ (for missiles), pose no difficulty.

How do our school children cope with this dual approach to speech, with their teachers speaking Aussie English and tv offering American English?

 

Integrating ethno-cultural diversity

One can wear one’s culture loosely, like an overcoat resting on one’s shoulders, or wear it tightly, like a belted and hooded ankle-length raincoat. The latter may, to a substantial degree, be akin to a woman who prefers to be clad, in a Western nation, in a burqa in public. The latter, however, implies personal and physical separation, and a preferred isolation.

It can be argued that, in a free country, members should be free to dress as they wish, and possess the right not to be an integral component of the many, or to co-operate or congregate with those not like them. That is, such members would have the right only to co-exist (but not integrate) with those not like them.

How would such people then view the nation of which they are part? That it is quite acceptable to enjoy the identity and security provided by a sovereign nation-state without relating in a socially meaningful manner with ‘others’ in the nation?

Credibly, the foundation tribes from Britain formed themselves into the Australian people. There are no visible tribal clothing styles reflecting their origins. The huge post-war influx of Europeans then integrated themselves easily into the Australian ethos. More recently, the virulence of the White Australia policy having abated, coloured immigrants too are integrating successfully; with welfare sustaining most of those economic migrants claiming to be refugees. The latter represent the first category of entrants who are not economically viable.

More recently, we have been asked to modify our legal system to include sharia law, the first time the nation has been asked to adapt to the immigrant (rather than the reverse). We are also asked to accept that any cultural practice associated with Islam is sacrosanct. However, since suburban Australia is not exposed to hot desert sands, presumably we will not be seeing too many ‘walking tents’ on our streets.

Those immigrant tribes who seek to transpose all their traditional practices, some of which are not intrinsically tied to their religion, into their chosen nation, might simply want what the host-nation offers, but wish to retain their traditional practices unaltered. However, by the third generation, when grandpa’s edicts have been eroded by education, socialisation, and habituation, clothing styles and behaviour which separate our youth from one another can be expected to be forgotten.

Advanced immigrant-receiving nations realise that ethno-cultural diversity needs, in the interests of national identity and stability, to become progressively integrated (but not assimilated) into a coherent people.

Integration is a like a mixed salad, a gestalt, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is also comparable to the components of a rich palatable soup, giving texture and flavour to the soup, with each component making a sufficient contribution but without losing itself. Assimilation, however, is like a blended soup where all the ingredients are totally absorbed into the final product. I doubt if any immigrant-seeking nation seeks this outcome as current policy.

In time, assimilation may be the eventual outcome where there has been no input of new tribes. In the modern world, however, with so much migration, especially through asylum-seeking pressures, or because of a political integration of nations, a country composed of unintegrated tribes would not be a cohesive nation.

Most importantly, equal opportunity, if already available (as in Australia), may not be as accessible to marginal tribal communities were their members to be unwilling to modify those aspects of their inherited traditions and behaviours which are not in tune with the social mores and conventions of the host people.

Cultural adaptation would enable speedier integration, either through accessing available equal opportunities or by demonstrating the willingness of the immigrant community to share their lives more fully with others already in the nation.

All believers share the one and only Creator God of the Cosmos. Why not share the nation-state to which one belongs by choice?

 

Is Consciousness the explanation?

Consciousness is something we are all aware of. That is, I am aware that I am conscious. But, I do not understand it. Yet, we need Consciousness in order to be mobile and motile; and to use the limited number of senses we possess. Awareness, reciprocally, seems to be an essential manifestation of Consciousness.

Is it possible to be aware when one is unconscious; or asleep? Is it Consciousness which enables thought? Or feelings? What of the subconscious? Is there such a facility? If it does exist, then a level of Consciousness exists of which we are not aware. Then, how do we know about what is happening at the subconscious level? Is there a transmission of thought from the subconscious to the conscious?

There has to be such a transmission. When my seer, B, advised me to ‘listen’ to my subconscious in order to receive messages from my Spirit Guide, such messages need to surface in my conscious mind. When I wake up in the middle of the night with a new thought, I could assume that my Guide was responsible. Since I have a speculative, roving mind, poking into all corners of existence, which new thoughts can be attributed to my Guide? And which reflect the thought-miner striking a potentially valuable lode of insight?

Moving to intuition, third-eye perceptions, clairvoyance, clairaudience, reading the future, and remembering a past life, would these facilities not involve riding a wave of Consciousness across time, as well as space? The quaint concept of space-time is an irrelevancy here.

Would not communication with spirits from the impossible-to-deny Afterlife also involve surfing a cloud-land of Consciousness? Would not the visual manifestation of spirits also require such a medium of transportation from the Afterlife? Of course, the Afterlife is most probably ‘here’ in a dimension which crosses our dimension of Earthly existence.
In this context, looking to the desert religions (or perhaps all religions) for guidance would seem to be futile. The focus of religion is elsewhere.

‘Horses for courses’ is a useful adage. For the relatively recent (in historical terms) discovery of the terra nullius of human experiences traversing over-lapping realms of the ephemeral and the material, new means of communication – in the form of concepts and relationships established in the human mind – are needed.

Following the principle reflected in Occam’s Razor, that the simplest explanation is best, the concept of an all-embracing, infusive, ever-existing, pervasive aether may be a useful starting point. The aether is now being researched, in spite of the Michelson-Morley experiment of yore, by a significant number of scientists willing to transcend the prevailing explanatory paradigms.

In human terms (or in terms of transient beings) Consciousness qualifies as that ever-existing, all-embracing, and all-penetrating essence. Whether matter represents a projection from the bound-less ocean of Consciousness, and from which arose the ephemeral, the insubstantial; or whether the ‘real’ of the ephemeral arising from Consciousness is reflected, as appropriate, in the material is an irrelevancy for now. The relationship between the material and ephemeral realms may be an enriching bilateral process.

Were Consciousness to be a functionally neutral cloud-like enabler of links, especially of communication, between whatever exists, in any form (of substance or otherwise), it would intransitively present what seems to be obvious to sensitive humans – that everything in existence is connected to everything else. Both the paranormal and the normal in human existence would then be explicable.

Is it Consciousness which enables the pathways of mutual understanding, through gossamer connections, between sentient beings – including spirits from the Afterlife?

Earth-Spirit communication

It is clear that there is an effective barrier between the realm of spirits and the world of humans. Thus, my Spirit Guide was unable to have me ‘listen’ to him until my casual clairvoyant, B, advised me to listen to my subconscious. Presumably my Spirit Guide was able to communicate with her psychically. Could he reach her because she has clairvoyance skills when I do not?

My initial clairvoyant, C, told me that he is, through a meditative process, able to contact the spirit realm. I presume that, through his clairvoyance skills, he can reach his Spirit Guide; and that the latter facilitates the contacts C needs to help his clients.

How are clairvoyance skills achieved? Inborn? Or, given? B says that messages come to her! I know that she has visions. For example, she told me when my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’ would be published. More significantly, she has “seen” me in a past life – as a Muslim warrior with a “curved sword” in my hand and mounted on a black stallion (my horse-rider wife would have been entranced to know that).

When the racial discrimination I had to undergo during the White Australia era and the tribal discrimination at work during the last 5 years of my career became excessive, my right hand itched. Instinctively, I wanted to wield a scimitar again. Strangely, my wife discerned my unspoken interest in scimitars.

My efforts to peer into my past lives through auto-hypnosis did bring me flashes of insight about scenes indicative of Central Asia. As well, when I set out to design a stained-glass scene, the initial designs reflected the beautiful mosques of that region (so I discovered later). Learning throughout life is a slow progress as one’s mind and inner eye become more focussed.

A more intriguing issue is how a spirit can see, hear, remember the past on Earth, know about my life after his death, and despond to a comment he has heard, thus displaying a functioning mind. All this was displayed by my uncle to clairvoyant C and to me while he was pertinently an insubstantial entity, his Earthly body with all its operating organs having been cremated.

Looking at the human mind on Earth, it appears to arise from the brain, with the latter the repository of memories. Yet, my mind also appears to be nomadic and adventurous; that is, not relying on my brain.

As a Seeker of understanding (not just knowledge), I speculate about matters which are new to my brain, seeking patterns, even creating patterns. Refer my daily WordPress posts on my blog ‘An octogenarian’s final thoughts’ (copied to Facebook and to my book pages on amazon.com – see author profile). That is, my mind is a somewhat independent facility. I suspect that it is linked to Consciousness.

Perhaps it is a shared Consciousness which enables Earthling-Spirit communication.

Intimations about the Afterlife

I had a dream recently. I woke up at the conclusion of the dream, wondering whether it followed my recent speculations about the Afterlife. As a metaphysical Hindu, through some in-depth reading and careful analysis, I accept the probability of the existence of my soul, the reincarnation process, and a re-charging domain I conceive as the Afterlife.

The concept of an Afterlife is very challenging. Would insubstantial soul-entities, the spirits of former Earthlings, need a home of substance? But then I cannot conceive of an insubstantial place where a goodly number of soul-entities could sojourn. However, I realise that at age 89 I can expect to have my curiosity satisfied very soon.

Since I had been advised by a casual clairvoyant (or seer) to listen to my subconscious for messages from my Spirit Guide, I wonder if my dream was more than wishful thinking. Living in a flat country whose highest mountain is a mere pimple, whose rivers do not seem to flow like those in New Zealand, and whose dry terrain does not attract much rain (except for sudden troubling downpours occasionally), my subconscious may be seeking to compensate for this deprivation by Nature.

In my dream, I was on a lush mountain top, with a raging river below on one side and a cliff on the other – which allowed me to see the distant sea and a rocky shore. It was raining, but I do not remember getting wet. I heard voices, yet neither saw nor met anyone. It was as if we were all avoiding one another. In the morning, I again remembered this compensatory dream. After all, had I not been born and bred in a lush tropical terrain? Had I not enjoyed the years I had lived there?

Then, much to my great surprise, during my sleep a few nights later, I had a thought flitting through my mind. Intuitively, I felt that spirits created their own personal environments in the Afterlife. Was that message from my Spirit Guide? As a recluse of many years, I am attracted to this possibility.

Indubitably, the conceptual vista of my soul as a time-traveller, traversing countries and cultures through the occupation of a long series of human bodies, and living (with all its pains and pleasures), and learning while necessarily adapting to a new home, and ultimately returning to The Source morally purified is spiritually satisfying. As ever, it is the journey (in spite of great suffering on the way) which matters, not the arrival Home.

The spirit realm’s impacts on my life

Soon after I had survived death by dengue (fever) at age 18, a yogi called on my widowed mother and me. He convinced her that I would be going south to study. That direction for study was unknown to our community. I was despatched south. I left Australia 4 years later, as he had foretold. I returned to Australia as an immigrant a year later, thereby confirming the yogi’s somewhat cryptic hint that I would be overseas a great deal.

In my early 1990s, when the spirit of my uncle had materialised in the presence of clairvoyant C, Uncle told C that “the spirit world had experienced difficulty in getting him to Australia.” Many years later, I began to wonder whether a number of young educated Asian youths from British colonial territories in Asia, and thereby fluent in English, had been selectively manoeuvred into racist White Australia.

With unquenchable faith in our most durable cultural heritages, and equipped with the necessary traits of tolerance, fortitude, and resilience, and through un-planned marriage to Anglo-Australian girls, we would progressively change Australia’s assumed white supremacy to a cosmopolitan, tolerant polity. Australia would thus become colour-blind, essentially through tinted children with white mothers and coloured fathers appearing in the schools; with the teachers emphasising the commonality of all mankind, irrespective of country of origin or ethnicity. My wife and I contributed a great deal of time and effort to supporting our children’s schools.

It seems to me now that higher beings in the spirit realm are using appropriate trajectories of personal destiny paths to improve the morality of mankind wherever possible. I do like that, in spite of the reality that, socially, I remain a marginal member of society. That may be because of the role of those of us sent into exile as ‘scene changers.’ I am thus an instrument of societal change, while necessarily being changed by that role.

Most significantly, about a decade ago, I found a small mirror pulled off my kitchen wall and placed upright on a kitchen bench. Soon after, a photo was taken from a wall and inserted between vertical blinds on a window sill. Then I knew who was responsible for both events. They were the actions (I surmised) of someone who had once been very close to me, indicating that she is now dead. When I spoke to the unsighted spirit, her actions ceased.

Then, when the widow of the uncle who had appeared in spirit form to offer me guidance died, and she had been the second-most important woman in my life, she appeared to me in my mind as I was falling sleep on the evening she left Earth. On another occasion, someone who had helped me cope with the racism of White Australia let me knowwithin my mind – that she was departing Earth. I am truly grateful for such messages.
What is obvious is that the spirits of the recently-dead are able to reach some of us psychically. I am envious of clairvoyant C. He is clearly able to reach out to the realm of spirits.

Then a most incredible event occurred. A woman I did not know, and whom I had met only a few minutes earlier, began to tell me repeatedly, with her voice becoming raised “Your Spirit Guide says that you are not listening to him. He has tried to reach you a few times. While she spoke thus, she kept looking over my left shoulder. “Can you see him” I asked with great curiosity. “Yes” was her reply. “Can you describe him?” She did! Later, I asked her how I could listen to him. “Listen to your subconscious” was her reply.

The crucial issue here is that I had no idea that I have a Spirit Guide. In the light of my unending travails … … ! That the spirit realm existed was news to me until the spirit of my uncle made himself known. “Where now, old sow?” as might have been uttered by philosopher Lin Yutang to his porcine pet, is my question to myself.