Culture as a weapon in inter-tribal war (1)

We are one

Culture, at its simplest level, is little more than the ways we do things in life, and the underlying beliefs and values which support these ways. Yet, it is a complex of behaviours, with origins, influences, and impacts which are manifold and inter-linked.

Each human baby is born with a unique genetic structure and potential. That may not be all. Hindu philosophy says that, at birth, the baby inherits a soul. The soul is believed to be an ongoing entity, being reincarnated (ie. reborn) again and again, acquiring increasing knowledge and, hopefully, some cosmic merit. Each new-born baby will, according to this philosophy, carry traces of its past lives, thus affecting its responses to events and experiences in the future.

Even without any input from an imputed soul-entity, the baby will certainly bring into the world of human existence an inheritance of a shared capacity and potential for responding to stimuli of all kinds during its life. This innate ability reflects the evolution of the human brain over a long period of time, and seems to be structured and located as neural circuits linking components of the modern brain. This generalised human ability should have no regard for the trivial surface differences which can separate human beings – such as skin colour, facial features, speech, and so on.

We are so much alike that babies everywhere, like sparrows and chickens or kittens and pups, make the same sounds, and respond alike, instinctively, to comparable stimuli all over the  world. Inherited genetic differences, including some personality traits from grandparents, will of course serve to distinguish one child from another – sometimes significantly. Such differences, however, can be seen to be generalised over all human populations, whether Chinese, Maori, European, and so on. For example, an aggressive personality is the same in diverse cultures.

Each culture seeks uniform behaviour from its constituent members. That part of the acculturation process which is involved with the upbringing of its youth to ensure correct to acceptable behaviour, both inside and outside each family and tribe, will produce similar behaviour globally. For, good conduct is, by and large, uniform across cultures; it has to be, has it not, having regard to the shared evolutionary process? Such behaviours cannot surely be described as what constitutes culture as normally defined.

The above paragraphs represent half of an article by the author published in 2012 in www.ezinearticles.com. Refer part(2) of ’Culture as a weapon in inter-tribal wars’ for the author’s analysis of the fragmentation of humanity through culture.

In his books ‘The Karma of Culture’ and ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’, Raja Arasa Ratnam analyses the nature of ethnic culture, the interplay of immigrant cultures with one another, and with that of the host people, and his ultimate hope of unity achieved from a prevailing ethno-cultural diversity.

 

‘Unlearning back to God’

“Unlearning back to God” by Mark Nepo

EXCERPTS

FROM THE TITLE ESSAY, UNLEARNING BACK TO GOD

“Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.

To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core.

When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of wholeness, moments of Satori as the Zen sages term it, moments of clear living when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness. And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education.

Regardless of subject matter, this is the only thing worth teaching: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. We call the filming over a deadening of heart, and the process of return, whether brought about through suffering or love, is how we unlearn our way back to God.”

I have copied the above from Mark Nepo’s post on the Internet titled ‘Unlearning back to God: Essays on Inwardness 1985-2005’

I am mighty impressed with his approach, and will obtain his book.

 

 

A personal testimony

As one born in the (Chinese) Year of the Dragon, my life is symbolically signified by the flight of dragons.

“They soar into the sky of solitude, and simultaneously sink into the sea of humanity, as they sing the songs of significance about their true home, that ocean of consciousness which unites all existence and non-existence.”

From the closing paragraph of my book ‘The Dance of Destiny.’ This book is a memoir covering my life under the British, then the Japanese military, and finally, my exposure to the White Australia.

Initially I experienced the prejudice and overt discrimination reflecting that heinous policy, but was unscratched. In the mid-1950s I was described as ‘too black’ to be a psychologist – I am a qualified research psychologist.

 A couple of years later, I was not accepted as an executive in the private sector because ‘the Australian worker is not yet ready to accept a foreign executive, especially a coloured one’ – although I am a qualified economist.

Both rejections were confirmed by independent witnesses, especially the head of the Graduate Employment Unit of the University of Melbourne.

Joining the federal public service, I had a rapid career. For 14 years (out of 31), my work involved dealing with the private sector (where I was accepted fully) – until I sought to join the Senior Executive Service permanently (having acted as a Branch Head in 2 agencies for nearly a year each.

I retired at age 60 because I experienced tribal discrimination (‘not one of us’) during the previous 5 years. Ironically, by being pushed around, I became very knowledgeable about all of Australia’s migrant settlement policies. That allowed me to write my first memoir ‘Destiny Will Out.’ The response from senior academics was fabulous.

That led to my other books (refer amazon kindle’s ebooks), each endorsed by senior academics pre-publication, and favourably reviewed post-publication. 4 of my 5 non-fiction books were recommended by the US Review of Books. This dragon was soaring!

I have also dipped into the sea of humanity, reaching leadership positions, while contributing substantially in each of my endeavours. The Meritorious Service Award from my trade union capped my involvement in civil society. As a communitarian small-l liberaI, I may have been a little unorthodox. But, am I not a ‘dragon’?      

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!)
 

RAJA – YouTube No. 5

THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE

The ancient bicultural author Raja Arasa Ratnam offers us the following thoughts.

Applying Occam’s Razor (or principle) that the simplest explanation is best, I begin by accepting that there has to be a Cosmic Creator. Our souls say so. The complexity, intricacy and beauty of the Cosmos say so.

I envisage (again applying the above principle) that the Creator (that is, God) created the Cosmos: and that it includes a mechanism which is itself capable of evolving, whilst facilitating evolution as a process. This would be accessible to other products of that same Creation. To evolve is to progress to something better.

It is a meaningless question, of course, to ask about the origin of God, although the Mundaka Upanished says that out of infinite Godhead came forth Brahma, the Creator, from whom sprung the Cosmos.

If the whole of the Cosmos is capable of change, as its component parts are subject to change, there surely must be scope for random events or chance impacts, as well as mishaps during processes (for example, genetic mutation). Perhaps there might be scope for influence: by the human mind (eg. mind-over-body pain control); by one’s spirit guides (eg. one’s subconscious mind directing an action for no rational reason); or even by an aspect of God (how would this be manifested – through one’s heart?) to intervene in events or processes.

Indeed, the Isha Upanished even allows for a personal deity (a manifestation of God), which I see as an acceptable projection from the universal Creator. As well, the mind is said to be only an instrument of consciousness; and the heart is said to be where the soul resides in its temporal home. Then, is God the Ocean of Consciousness of which we are all part, and to which we will ultimately return?

I do like the idea of being a transient projected entity from an Ocean of Consciousness. Life on Earth would then have some significance. Is there some mechanism which creates, sustains, and periodically destroys all that has been projected from, and by, that Ocean ? Hindu cosmology implies the cyclical path of all things and events of significance (including each of the many possible universes and all their component parts and manifestations) within an infinite Cosmos.

The metaphysical adherents of a faith would naturally seek an understanding of a reality transcending the guides for living of the great teachers of mankind: Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Mahavira, and others.

There are, however, those who need to know about the meaning of existence, to seek to understand Reality. The experience and understanding they seek is, however, said to be beyond words, and to be Realised only through deep meditation.

In any event, each of us knows deep in our psyche that we are an integral cog in that web of a mutually-dependent creation.

RAJA – YouTube No. 4

Free Will under spirit guidance.

“Freedom!” This is the banner under which Raja Arasa Ratnam, an octogenarian, bicultural, Asian-Australian author, has contributed to civil society all through his life, while adapting successfully, as a coloured, initially-unwanted person to White Australia. The trigger for this pre-occupation was his father, an immigrant into British Malaya from colonial Ceylon.

Later, partly from what might possibly be a soul-memory, and partly from the vision of a clairvoyant, Raja feels that he had been a Muslim warrior, wielding a scimitar, in a recent past life. This clairvoyant had been able, a few years ago, to see and describe Raja’s spirit guide, when the latter had complained to her that Raja had not been listening to him.

Each time he faced overt discrimination, Raja had to combat an instinctive twitch in his right hand – his need for a scimitar! His lesson in this life, he says, is therefore to work for, not fight for, justice. Since he is becoming increasingly intuitive, he wonders whether he has progressed from the throat chakra to the third-eye chakra.

Apart from a happy boyhood, which ended with the arrival of the Japanese military (and the associated semi-starvation), Raja has experienced a life of great turbulence. Yet, like the stability which prevails at the core of chaos, there has been a steady path of progress at all levels in his life.

Significantly, temporary stability had been provided, when needed, by much-valued individuals, who had each been dropped into his life and then been taken out, in a painfully clear sequence. Support, followed by emotional separation, seemed inevitable. Each hiatus, however, enabled further learning, he says.

He now accepts that it is on-going learning which defines his life. He has a need, not just for knowledge, but for understanding. Unexpected and unwanted change will, of course, be emotionally disruptive. This then feeds his search for increasing mental and spiritual peace. Raja now feels that he has finally achieved that peace.

What is abundantly clear to Raja is that he has been on a guided trajectory all his life, with pain and pleasure, or stability and disruption, being 2 sides of the same coin. His motto is to accept whatever happens, and move on – until his wings arrive!

He hopes that his books (refer amazon kindle) will provide both historical perspective and a societal beacon for the future; and that his articles and blog (all on the Internet) continue to stimulate thought on a wide range of topics.

Psychic experiences are real

The following extracts have been taken from the website ‘Wake up world.’ The article is by Phillip J Watt titled ‘Parapsychology: How science is proving that psychic experiences are real’

“ … … we experience extraordinary feats of consciousness and extra-sensory perception (ESP) which blow our minds and hearts out of this world, with profound and ongoing impacts in our lives.

These feats may occur in many different guises and in a very personal way. Some believe these experiences to be genuinely extraordinary, whilst others explain them away as ‘coincidence’ or ‘figments of the imagination’. Regardless of our personal beliefs, unexplained occurrences and psychic phenomena such as extra-sensory reception, telepathy and even psychokinesis have been recorded throughout the history of all tribal and traditional civilizations, so it’s not just a modern marvel. What is fresh about this phenomenon is the development of a discipline called ‘Parapsychology’, which is essentially a scientific framework designed to study the ‘psi’ or ‘psychic’ experiences of humanity.” … …

“The reason psi phenomenon is not taken seriously by the academic community is because philosophical materialism – which is the unproven and dogmatic ‘belief’ that matter is the fundamental stuff of reality – has hijacked modern-day science. Essentially, this misplaced interpretation of a strictly mechanical universe is the model upon which any accumulating evidence is compared, and if certain data doesn’t fit into the limited paradigm of what science already understands, it is arrogantly and unscientifically rejected and explained away as pseudoscience.

Ironically, this prejudicial dismissal of evidence is itself the definition of pseudoscientific behaviour.

However, not all scientists have fallen victim to the materialist rhetoric. For example, in 2014 a team of over 100 prominent scientists and academics from around the world called for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness. These scientists included Daryl Bem (Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Cornell University), Irving Kirsch (Professor of Psychology, University of Plymouth, and Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School) and Brian Josephson (Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge, who is also a Nobel Prize winner for his work in the field of physics). Another example in the same year was the creation of a “Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science … to visualize what an emerging scientific view may look like”. The Manifesto was developed by eight respected scientists, including Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist and author best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance. Simply, both groups of scientists have called upon the scientific community to face their hypocrisy and transcend their philosophical bias toward the science of psi phenomenon.”

“ … … Notably, despite the stance of materialistic science, extra-sensory perceptions are not considered to be pseudoscience by the majority of average people. In a 2002 CBS News poll, 57% of people surveyed believed ESP to be real.

The reality is that parapsychological studies have accumulated mountains of sound scientific data that provides strong evidence for ‘extra sensory’ perceptions of the human mind. As stated in the Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science :

Studies of the so-called “psi phenomena” indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence — at a distance — physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e., the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous or as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.”

(Comment: At last! Open scientific minds! My personal experiences need explanation as to how they occurred. There is a whole universe of the immaterial to be investigated, and understood.

At the very end of the psi phenomena is my question – How does my core me, my true and inner me, my soul, convey my past experiences to the current me with my form and substance?  If it is not Consciousness, what is it?

If it is Consciousness, then there must be the equivalent of the ‘worm holes,’ which cosmologists refer to optimistically, available to us – somehow, some time!)     

 

 

 

 

 

Swami Vivekananda quotes (Part 1)

May He who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Buddha of the Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heaven of the Christians give strength to you to carry out your noble idea.
Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin; to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.
Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.
The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free

 

. As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God.
(From Brainy Quote, with thanks. The keepers of competitive religions: please note the sound advice of this Swami!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory quotes (Part 2)

There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief. Aeschylus
It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Memory that yearns to join the centre, a limb remembering the body from which it has been severed, like those bamboo thighs of the god. Derek Walcott
Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as our prince of peace, of civil rights. We owe him something major that will keep his memory alive. Morgan Freeman
Elephants can live to an age of up to 70 or 80 years and they have a good memory. It could be they come across an area that is experiencing a drought. Then they continue on their path and run into people. Richard Leakey
In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal, hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will. Edith Stein
(From Brainy Quote, with thanks)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering ancient wisdom

As a product of an Asian communal culture, I feel that I am more aware of the implicit connection of humans with one another, and with both Earth and the rest of the Cosmos than many of my fellow-citizens in a Western nation whose ethos is individualism. This latter code for conduct does offer more personal freedom than communalism, but lays less responsibility for others upon each of us.

However, unlike the human body, in and on which every part has a contributory role in maintaining the whole, human beings may not be requisite (ie. needed) components of an autonomous and complex cosmic system  – so grandiosely extensive – whose meaning is beyond us. Yogananda’s experience of cosmic consciousness (refer my recent post) describes but does not explain (how could he?). We are possibly akin to vermin but (hopefully) with prospects of evolving into angels.

That evolution might occur if we do not keep getting eliminated as a species or civilisation from time to time. Seemingly, there have been advanced civilisations with great skills before each major cosmic calamity, the last one associated with the Universal Deluge and its trigger from space.

The folklore of early (ie. pre-Deluge) cultures, some of which were not technologically advanced, clearly indicates a high level of morality and spirituality (eg. Native American societies). A claimed confirmation of certain planetary movements at that time dates the Vedas of the early Hindus to about 9,000 years ago. These writings display a high level of intellectualism (refer my recent posts).

If there had been any technologically advanced military cultures in pre-history,   such as the mythical Atlantis or its alleged enemy the Rama Empire of India, they must have been buried or drowned. Cultures such as the Maya, or the builders of the pyramids and the Sphinx, or the Incas have, on the other hand, left legacies which are challenging. Intimations and indications of huge scientific and technological knowledge abound – through myth, megaliths, and art.

Contrary to those who cannot accept that advanced thinkers and achievers had once made great contributions to humanity in earlier times, increasingly there seems to be a merging of the old with the new, when recent researchers have broken out of the strait-jacket of the scientific method (with its necessarily limited purview).

There seems to be more than one path to understanding where we live, and its past. As Edgar Cayce said, many of those who had asked him about Atlantis had lived there in an earlier life. Could those modern scientists who are investigating cultures which had existed in pre-history had actually lived there?

That is, does the past illuminate the present through rare soul memories? Could ancient wisdom be increasingly accessible through some individuals encouraging their minds to be in tune with their own hidden soul-memories? I am attracted to Hinduism’s adage that the human mind is only an instrument of Consciousness.

Since Consciousness envelops and simultaneously infuses us, could we also seek to find or establish links through it to the wisdom of ancient cultures, our figurative ancestors?