Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where Malaysia is headed (Part 5)


I get asked this question quite often. But it isn't very often that the enquirer has the patience or the time to stay around for my response, which involves deconstructing the unquestioned assumptions of conceptual semantics. As far as I know nobody has ever come up with a definition of "God" acceptable to all.

The notion that the physical universe was created by an all-knowing, all-powerful, ubiquitously existing Maker is fairly common, especially amongst the more conservative, more traditional - and therefore less adventurous - thinkers.

When I gaze upon any object - be it a butterfly, a banana, or a blossom - it doesn't occur to me that some humanoid with deft hands wielding clever tools actually sat down at a workbench one morning and fabricated  these wondrous forms that are able to self-replicate and perpetuate their own species, ad infinitum.

I'm more inclined to admire the hidden geometries, complex architecture, and ingenious mechanisms underlying these forms which are also discernible in other forms that constitute our physical environment. A healthy appreciation for the miraculous nature of all forms ultimately leads one to focus on the mystery that is oneself.

For each of us is every bit as amazingly designed and constructed as a grasshopper or dungbeetle or seahorse or giraffe or walrus or duckbill platypus or an entire coral reef. The interlocking biochemistries and interwoven electromagnetic patterns that give rise to living forms are at once complex and simple.

Inevitably, one is compelled to marvel at the breakthrough discoveries in recent decades of the fractal nature of the holographic universe - and the curious effect that consciousness appears to have on how it evolves and mutates. It is, indeed, as cutting-edge physicists declare, "an observer-created universe."

Pioneering researchers have detected micro-macro consonances between the subatomic and the supergalactic realms, wherein the essential architecture of a single atom is echoed in that of a galaxy. This fact alone ought to qualify as a theophany that can yield an endless quantity of eureka moments - enough at any rate to induce an ecstatic vision in anyone who spontaneously comprehends the divinity and perfection of all that exists.

You could call this approach to answering the age-old question of God's existence (or otherwise) the way of the mystic-scientist. It's not dependent on culturally or genetically implanted beliefs or on faith. Rather, it is a metaconceptual gestalt formed from free associating a random sequence of sensory inputs with a variety of analogies drawn from personal experience as well as what C.G. Jung called the Collective Unconscious.

Anyone who has, by chance or design, embarked on the quest for meaning and significance must pay attention to signs, omens, auditory, visual and perceptual clues left as a legacy by thousands upon thousands of conscious thinkers who lived and died and whose insights were recorded externally in the form of artefacts - or internally through subtle alterations of the chromosomal data banks.

Each new pilgrim on the journey towards enlightenment will have a unique experience, though universal truths have a habit of recurring like strangely familiar motifs. In effect, any authentic attempt to grapple with the question of God is necessarily an individual process. Other people's narratives of "divine revelation" most certainly constitute a valuable reference - but they can never be a substitute for direct knowing, distilled from unique, personal experience.

This is why at an early age I found myself unsubscribing from prescribed belief systems passed down the generations. All the conflicting doctrines that constitute man-made religion serve merely to anesthetize the masses against the anguish of fully accepting our human limitations, in order that we might ultimately transcend them.

Religions are packaged and processed forms of accumulated mystical insight; and although there will always be precious glimmers of truth to be found in the crude ore of inherited or acquired beliefs, the unthinking and unquestioning acceptance of these dogmas is akin to condemning oneself to a lifelong diet of junk food bought off the shelves of a cosmic convenience store.

To visualize God as an eternal parent figure is to forever infantilize our apprehension of reality in simplistic terms of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong. These opposite polarities represent extreme ends of the moral spectrum; but as the sum-total of all existence, God embodies the entire spectrum of possibilities and is therefore beyond categorization and classification. In analogous terms, God is not just the Father but also the Mother and  the Child borne of their primordial union.

In ancient days when the majority of humans were illiterate, an elite corps of Scribes arose that took it upon themselves to interpret on behalf of the others what was purportedly the Word of God. This special breed of human we call the Priesthood. In India the priests established themselves as the Brahmin caste and exalted themselves above the ordinary folk.

An effective division of labor developed wherein the priestly caste collaborated with the kingly caste to form the earliest governments. The priests took on responsibility for the spiritual affairs of men while the kings ruled over the material domain, as evidenced in the political pact between the Bishop of Rome and the Emperor Constantine.

In the Book of Exodus we saw the same partnership in action with the brothers Aaron and Moses: Aaron took charge of administrative and logistical matters, while Moses played the role of divine visionary, receiving direct instructions from on high.

To this day the Mormon church classifies its membership as either of the Aaronic or the Melchizedek lineage. Those of the Aaronic Order undertake the day-to-day management of church affairs, like the raising of funds and the construction of temples; and those of the Melchizedek Order propagate the spiritual message of the founder, Joseph Smith, who received his revelation through an angelic messenger named Moroni.

What I'm waffling on about, then, is the sheer futility of identifying oneself with any particular religious doctrine. Our understanding of life matures with experience - or, at least, it ought to. It's fine to believe in Santa Claus when you're five years old and thrilled to bits at the prospect of finding a stack of prettily giftwrapped presents under the Christmas tree. However, by the time you're fifteen, you really ought to have realized that the fat guy in a red suit is actually your own dad - or some guy hired by the department store to lure kids and their parents into a ritual shopping spree.

I'm not going to denounce or deconstruct all the institutionalized religions in our midst. It's generally a waste of breath anyway. Many people cling desperately to their beliefs because they fear the bottomless abyss of uncertainty. Some will violently strike out at or even kill anyone who attempts to shatter their faith or so much as joke about it.

With some folks, loyalty to the faith into which they happened to be born can be even stronger and more fanatical than their loyalty to a favorite soccer team. Just as there are soccer hooligans at every game, you will encounter violent mobs of the religiously intoxicated. Best to stay clear of them rather than attempt to engage them in rational discourse.

These mobs constitute what you might term the bottom rung of consciousness. Everybody goes through such a phase - though many today express their fanatical urges via ardent hero-worship of a particular popstar or screen actor. Left to their own devices, most people eventually outgrow these obsessions.

I'm absolutely convinced that Malaysians of all creeds will co-exist in sweet harmony when jingoistic politicians stop stirring up the shit. Is there any way we can compel them to cease their pseudo-religious rabble-rousing? None that I can think of, short of maintaining some barbaric law like the ISA for exclusive use against those who exploit racial and religious differences for their own political advantage.

Nevertheless, I don't advocate such quick-fix methods. Censorship of any kind is anathema to me. I'm utterly convinced that when people are regularly exposed to all kinds of ideas - no matter how lunatic or extreme - they will swiftly learn to discern what's palatable and what's poisonous in the way of opinions.

So, instead, of cringing at the absurd utterances of rabid religious reactionaries, all we really have to do is ignore them. And, if they refuse to stop after a decent interval, we could simply pull the plug on them, switch off their microphones, so to speak. That harms nobody at all - and they will eventually fall silent when their voices grow hoarse from shouting at the wind.

And in that brief silence the first seeds of wisdom just might germinate.

Where Malaysia is headed (Part 6)


casper c said...

Here is a juicy morsel to debunk "less adventurous thinkers", those hard on gospels of any denomination.

I'm no theologian but possess an inquisitive mind prone to picking up unnecessary trivia, only to put it to pitch when it seems relevant.

From various gospels, the many versions of the Bible, words get confused in translation but somehow all gospels share the same script giving credence to 'Creation', events that took place in the Garden of Eden.

No one has come forth to say otherwise that it was unlikely that Eve tempted Adam with an apple simply because there were no apples to be had in the Middle East back then, and the tempting fruit - metaphorically or not - was more likely an apricot !!!

You posed a hard hitting question Uncle Kit Lee with the G word. I'm certain you left your audience cowering, only to marvel at your cognitive prowess.

Who is to say who or what is God to each individual but I for one will not force the issue onto others.

Personally, I do believe the existence of a higher force but always try apply as scientific a line of thought to eradicate the irrational. That said, out goes the Torah, Bible and the Quran in my questioning mind though some prose and passages do inculcate and mimic lines of wisdom and morality that are applicable. Perhaps my Buddhist sensibilities sits well in my conscience, more than I would like to admit.

Before I sign off let me share an experience I had that took place not too long ago.

A Brahmin boy from India once took my thumb print, went away for 20 minutes or so, came back and told me my name. He spoke of my past, present and future. Thinking out loud right now, three out of seven events the boy had foreseen have indeed come to pass with time yet to play out the remainder. The three events that have taken place was foretold some 3 years in advance while time and event did take place right on the dot, down to precise day.

What should I make of such an experience ? The future holds no fear for me personally but till today, I just can't rationalised the encounter.

Feel free to offer any insights. Regards as usual and hope all is well your neck of the woods Uncle KL.


salam kenal dari kalimantan indonesia,
saya seorang guru
kunjungi juga blog saya, terimakasih

Singam said...

I have one major problem with a God who is able to intervene in the activities of His creation. Heck, even the very act of creation calls for intervention.

My issue is this - if God is omnipresent, there is no space where he does not pervade. Then what is this creation of His that is separate from Him? Is it even possible? One can only intervene into a space where one is not present. Therefore an Omnipresent God cannot be an Intervening God.

I think if all religious teachings are stripped of the layers of irrelevance, ritual and mystification, the bare truth about God is revealed - that God is Love.

At the level of human interaction, the love manifests in so many variations - friendship, affection, parental love, spousal love, even lust. The purpose of life is to learn to love. Eventually one will learn that only selfless love brings real joy. Anything else is fraught with heartache.

At the sub-atomic level the "love" manifests as the energy that holds particles in probabilistic distributions lending solidity to matter. At the cosmic level, the "love" is gravitational attraction that is arresting the momentum of the Big Bang and giving form to stellar and galactic systems.

The all-pervading god is simply the cosmic energy that gives us life. In that sense, one could say that God created us.

As to destiny, every event is the consequence of a huge number of events that preceded it. And each event sets in flow a sequence of consequences that combines with all related event chains to form an event matrix. Whatever happens has been set in place by events that have already taken place.

One can, by making the effort, try to shift events out of the cause-effect matrix, but the further and event shifts from its assigned place in the matrix, the greater the forces that seek to restore it to its original path. Nothing mystical - just cause and effect.

But I expect that it may be possible to shift from one matrix to another by making the right choice at some critical event nexus. And that is the other purpose of life - to learn to make the right choices.

At least, this is my hypothesis.

arnie_nymous said...

Which Sufi master was it that said, It is more dangerous to discuss religion than to enter a roomful of gunpowder with a lighted match? Certainly, bigots and zealots exist today as they did in those days.

The Sufis were the mystics, the non-religionists who tasted the divine rather than merely pontificated, who sought God in consciousness rather than in musty tomes. "The map is not the journey!"

In every religion, there are those who experience the essence of their faith, who live the Love and Bliss, and then there are those who debate and decry, and wage wars and persecutions and beheadings.

As always, Antares, I commend you for bringing some light to the benighted. You know, of course [as I do], that this was a role your Higher Self had chosen, you had taken birth for this... personality, intelligence and present-day technology are being brought to bear upon spreading some light. It is a task that has taken aeons. Kali Yuga will pass in time, though it is not time that you might measure in simple years and human lifetimes.

arnie_nymous said...

And I think Singham puts forward his "hypothesis" profoundly.

It is said that the "intervening" God is like a painter, and creation is his painting. He is separate, aloof, distinctly different. The real monotheism is in seeing God as the cosmic dancer. Dancer cannot be separated from the dance; there is not one without the other. When the dance stops, both dancer and dance have ceased to be. Nothingness.

How else can there be Oneness, without any other?

The earliest mystics said there is only One... Later, when wisdom dimmed, mankind started to say, There is only One God. Later still, they added to that proclamation, And ours is the right One God!

The early sages saw that behind the multifarious manifestations of the universe, there was only Oneness. This is borne out in the view of the physicist, that behind the seeming multiplicity, behind the atoms and sub-atomic particles in this vast cosmos, there is just the one Field or Energy.

It is ironic that while spirituality senses the underlying Oneness and seeks to unite the factions, religions can stress the superficial separations and chasms that exist in mankind.

Antares said...

Casper - Interesting comment, thanks, but I sincerely hope you will stop addressing me by my defunct User ID. Makes me geli to hear, after 17 years! As for your encounter with the Brahmin oracle, these Hindus have always been very skilled with detailed horoscopy. In Sri Lanka some friends have reported being shocked to see their incarnational histories inscribed in Pali on palm leaves. I'm not an astrologer and many phenomena leave me agape with bewilderment, but I've never had the opinion that only science can resolve the mysteries. In fact, a great many insights I've had come direct from my deep intuition, bypassing the logic circuits.

Singam - Yours is a thoroughly impressive, concise & accurate summary of what many have taken lifetimes to realize! I'm curious to know who you are so we can someday meet & chew the fat & exchange notes. Bravo, a truly brilliant comment which adds great value to my post!

Arnie Nymous - What you say is completely & tragically true, though I'm personally disinclined to measure the rate of human enlightenment in earthly years. Indeed, I hold to the opinion that Kali yuga is already over - it ended for me when I woke up from the Joycean "nightmare of history."
With more & more individuals awakening to their true origins & destiny, the cumulative effect will trigger a planetary tidal wave of higher consciousness, raising the bottom line more swiftly than anyone could possibly imagine. Each awakened soul becomes a powerful engine that can effortlessly pull any number of coaches. If you stop looking at the situation in statistical or purely quantitative terms, you're more likely to experience a smoother passage through the quantum shifts we are all experiencing NOW!

arnie_nymous said...

I think Kali Yuga is in the process of being ended. The fan might have been switched off, but inertia requires that it still spin.

Anonymous said...

While you have an impressive complex mini technical historical metaspiritual self imploding treatise on the level of inter galactical intelligent/social/political life on earth , you have inadvertently slipped off the crevice of the main subject matter ( of what really matters to us ), that of where Malaysia is finally heading ! After a deep perusal of your inner atomic protonic thoughts , I have come to the initial temporary conclusion that you have not provided an answer neither by way of a semblance of a hint towards striking the nail on the head of what ailes Malaysia and where do we go from here, leading me to say you are as lost as any of us... but never mind at least you have sincerely entertained & engaged us with an intelligent technical cosmic analysis ! We should wait for your next thesis

Antares said...

Anon @ 9:37PM - I'm afraid you're quite right, old pal. I wrote it off the top of my flat head while exchanging SMSes with a 17-yr-old schoolgirl, and by the time I ended the piece I realized I had chickened out of saying what I really had intended to say, i.e., religious zealots like Hassan Ali, Zulkifli Noordin & the National Fatwa Council ought to stick a brinjal up their own arses... and keep it there till Judgment Day.

Antares said...

P.S. But at least I think I've managed to express a few alternative ways of looking at the issues of God and religion so that others can bounce it off their own well-hidden feelings about the underlying evil of organized religion.

arnie_nymous said...

The universe is resolving itself. There is an inherent pull in Nature, mountains get flattened, water finds its lowest level. Kali Yuga... the fan's been turned off but continues to spin. The unholy are in their final throes, prior to their own dissolution, brinjal or no brinjal.

Antares said...

Hahahahaha. You crack me up, Arnie. Thanks for adding real value & a bit of badly needed mirth to this post ;-)

mazen said...

From organized religions to organized crime ministries...that's where Malaysia is headed. Hahaha...

casper c said...

Greetings all and gotcha Antares, my upbringing wouldn't allow me the privilege unless stated otherwise.

Take care all, gotta go join the Monday grind or is it the blues.

Tunku Halim said...

Another interesting post. Sounds like a forerunner to another book. BTW (I might have told you already but the memory cells are a bit old) I quoted Tanah Tujuh in my new encyclopedia - hope you don't mind!

Anonymous said...

I think your facinating post is trying to answer three different questions at one go and at times complicating the issue:

1. Does God exist? (a metaphorical and spiritual question)

2. Do you believe in God? (A social-cultural-religious question) i,e, do you believe in organised religions per se?

3. Direct knowing of God or the mystery behind the world's wonders.

Question 1 is easy to answer with a yes but which God? For an altenrative view, pls read:

For Q2, people are like you are clearly disillusioned by religion given the extremism of human nature. I agree that I don't care whether u pray to a stone as long as you don't use it on others who see it as just a stone.

For Q3, direct knowledge of God is possible as testified by many histroical and current documents/people.

As for fortune tellers, there is such a thing as a familial spirit who knows our past or make stories about past lives.

casper c said...

I'm glad I checked back to read a little. It is blooming hot in KL, and given a choice, I would rather be in Wrigley Field watching the Chicago Cubs but it is a dull trading day and a head start on happy hour is on the card.

Thank you Singam for your view, the hypothesis holds water. Same goes to both Antares and Arnie.

As for anon 2:46 - "As for fortune tellers, there is such a thing as a familial spirit who knows our past or make stories about past lives".

I can comprehend the message but what boggles my mind ; I was once "warned" to be cautious of an incident, very precise time given matter of fact, but didn't pay heed or have the cow sense to reflect beforehand. I have a hospital bill as proof but happy to say, lesson learn to wiser effect.

Regards all.

Singam said...

Antares, we met briefly at the Federal Court recently when we were there to lend support to RPK. I think Pat Lu tagged me in one of her photos.

I am not in KL/PJ very often. The next time I am there (which may well be during the forthcoming school vacations), I must make the time to catch up with you. I too would love to meet the mind that generated this engrossing piece.

To all who had nice things to say about my comment, my sincere thanks. Among all the animals, mankind has the gift of an intellect that can ponder upon our purpose of existence. Surely we can do more with it than exploit the material world for our comfort and pleasure.

Peace to all.

BTW I too believe the Kali Yuga is winding down rapidly, hence the exponential increase in the madness that surrounds us. The world as we know it is plunging headlong into apocalypse.

Antares said...

Tunku Halim! Hey, it's been a while since we traded comments, always an honor to hear from you :-) I think you did mention quoting me in your encyclopedia, but you didn't say which section you quoted. Curious to know! Of course I don't mind, In fact, I'm quite chuffed.

Anon @ 2:46PM - It's a shame you didn't sign off, unless you're Jeremiah Liang (a rather biblical moniker, though it would explain your reluctance to validate mystical subphenomena like clairvoyance & fortune-telling, unless sanctioned by the Church as in the case of Old Testament prophets like Elijah, Ezekiel & Daniel). Yours was a provocative comment & certainly stimulates further discussion or at least contemplation. As for your Q3 re "direct knowledge of God" - for sure there are many, including myself, who have had life-changing visions or theophanies throughout time, yet each of us inevitably flavors the experience with our own distinct personality & cultural imprints (e.g., someone raised in a Catholic society might have a BVM or Jesus encounter, while another born in a Hindu society might experience ecstatic union with Shiva or Krishna; & the more scientifically inclined might record the revelation in more abstract, transpersonal terms). In effect, the variety of possible ways to connect with & integrate the noumenal reality we lazily call God is pretty much infinite.

Casper C - Are we distantly related? Not that it matters, but i suspect you may be some long-lost nephew-in-law I haven't seen since you were in diapers! Sounds like you're some kind of investment manager or stockbroker, correct?

Singam - I shall have to scour Pat Lu's photo albums to pick you out. I, too, am rarely in Kl/PJ. But you'll find me in Kg Pertak, 8 miles from KKB. If you feel prompted to visit, pls get my email from my Blogger profile. Thanks again for your lucid & luminous contributions!

Anonymous said...

for your info...

Anonymous said...

Hi Casper C,

Yours being the first comment posted here does attract every readers' attention without fail. Your question on why THE apple could'nt had been an apple, but instead, should most probably be an apricot makes an interesting pose. For that assumption to gain footing, we first need to make another assumption, that the garden of Eden is some where in the Middle East. That can be difficult.
During the time of Adam right up to Noah's generation, The Middle East that we know today, with its climate and flora and fauna and specifically its fruits may not have existed yet. With the flood and being submerged for 6 months and all, I think the whole world must went thru a major overhaul. Warts and all. I digressed. Sorry. Hope I made sense.

Mike Cheok

Gadfly said...

The question "Do you believe in God?" suggests that it is a question of philosophy - to argue and to accept something with limited facts. Precisely because there are doubts and uncertainties, we need to 'believe'. If you are so sure what is in front of you is a cat, even if "God' tells you that it is not a cat, you would not believe "Him/Her".

It is not possible to have a common definition of 'God' acceptable to all. Like the concept of death, whoever can define it knows it. Who has ever been dead and come back and define death?

Take a simple example to explain a complicated issue, say holding a cup of water. I must know and be conscious that of the cup, the hand that holds the cup ,and the feeling and knowing of holding. My consciousness can cover only the cup and the hand. Or I can imagine myself to be a detached observer as if there is a 'me' standing outside looking at the act of holding a cup. My consciousness must cover my whole body and the whole cup.

Apply this example to God, imagine He/She is doing or thinking or feeling something. In order to do this, my consciousness must cover that something called God and the something created by God. The problem is this: you must be more aware or more conscious than what God is in order to define it. My consciouness must envelope the apple in order to define it. When God is defined as the ultimate, the omipresent, the all-powerful and the all merciful, I assume that I am greater than God. This does not sound right, unless it is a play of concepts or ego-trip.

My cynical friend once told me that whatever that you don't know you call God.

I prefer to 'define' God as something indefinable. But, this itself is faulty as I assume that I know God is indefinable. The best definition I think is "I don't know' and better keep silent about it.

Anonymous said...

Can you know what you not know? It's human conciousness{whether higher or lower conciousness }that says it all yet says nothing. For conciousness is just the tool of the mind that helps you in your daily life experiences but not god.What you know, just like all humans do, is just conciousness upon conciousness that makes up knowledge, it's nothing but conciousness!
Can human conciousness have the answer as to the existence of god? I don't know what I not know!It's just like asking, figuratively speaking, what is the biggest number there is {other than literarily saying 'eternity' which is a notion of the conciousness of the mind other than a fact}, is it possible?
I do not know what I not know, it's best that we do not mistake the servant for the master or the guest for the host{which is conciousness or ego and self}.
What is it that when you are born, miraculously it appears and... mysteriously it disappears when you die? It's conciousness!!!
I personally believe in Yin and Yang. Yang being the bright side of conciousness{ which we know yet do not know} and Yin the dark side of the unconcious{ which we not know yet it knows it all} I also personally believe that through exploring the unconcious, we can experience and have direct knowledge with god though words can't express it.

Azer Mantessa said...

interesting and comprehensive series yet so far especially the first one ... haha

however am yet to digest all as businesses have been from bad to worse these days ... copied and pasted to my microsoft word so i can read them all once things cool down a bit.

regarding the soccer thing, sumtimes i do wonder why the devils love hiding themselves behinf this word "United" like there is this team called Something United and there is this political party called United Something. Obvioulsy us scouse are the romantic type and sometimes i think i'm the typical proof for that ... hahahaha

me so perasan one ... haha

casper c said...

G'morning Antares and co.

In the wisdom espouse by Singam, we are all related and I have no problems assuming the role of a long lost kindred spirit which really sits well with my moniker. And yes, the financial markets are my forte and bane.

Mike C, my poser to Antares(apple vs apricot) was a modest attempt at humour. That said, I chanced upon the analogy as quoted from a book "Cooking from the Bible". The writer in turn lifted the analogy from some obscure Jewish scholar - I kid you not.

And lastly - dear Azer, kuat sikit semangat and pray for the good fortunes of LFC. People have their mosques, temples and churches but the green turf of Anfield is very much my church, where grown men go to cry win, lose or draw.

Gadfly said...

Setting aside the philosophical question, I would like to focus on the cognitive aspect: Are we able to know the knowing mind that claims to know God? How do you know that you know? I have reservations on these questions.

Meditation, psychelidic drugs, sex, nature watching and dreams tell us that we often see different realities in intense situation like these. There is little difference between what you say when you come out of these ecstatic states and someone who suffers from delusion. If you starve your self for days or suffer from high fever, you will start talking about all the different realms of realities. If a lot of people follow you, you bacome a guru. Otherwise, you are seen or perceived as a nut.

We often forget to ask what mental state (ecstatic,depressive or delusional) and under what social-cultural context a person is in when that person starts to talk about God or gods.

God or gods nowadays have become a spiritual psychelidic drug that at best people are using it to get high or to use as a quick-fix, and at worst to enslave and exploit the ignorant. A goldden chain with the aura of spirituality is still a chain, if not worst because it is more subtle and more cunning.

masterwordsmith said...

A very powerful post with so many brilliant comments. I am floored and speechless.

Many thanks to you, dear Antares and commenters for the fantastic discourses displayed...


Anonymous said...

Hi Casper C,
Stand corrected. My bad.

Mike C

Singam said...

Gadfly, the difference is between spirituality and religion.

Spirituality is the personal relationship between a person and what he chooses to believe in. Religion is a congregation of people who share common beliefs.

The trouble with religion is "common beliefs". At the starting point, these are simple enough that many can share them with ease. But as the religion evolves, layers get added on. Those layers get incorporated into those "common beliefs" which are then forced upon all those who choose to follow.

If this forcing is done cleverly, you get a congregation that is in harmony, no matter how outlandish those "common beliefs" are. But a religion in its adolescence takes the sledge hammer approach to ensure conformance, thereby causing dissension, splintering, reformation... the whole works.

If a person immerses in whatever distraction to ponder the meaning of life and comes out a better person in his relationship with the rest of the world, then let's not knock that distraction of choice, be it chemical or metaphysical.

arnie_nymous said...

Spirituality is connecting to the inner divine. It expresses itself in love, peace, compassion, empathy, humanity. To grow in Spirit is to love more deeply, to be more entrenched in inner peace, contentment, the bliss of Self.

To be religious is not necessarily to be spiritual. Religion has to do with tenets, beliefs, texts, tomes, rituals. We wage wars and persecutions in the name of religion, but that's the very antithesis of Spirituality.

Patricia said...

Hello from Calgary, Antares. I've missed visiting for a bit, and so I've been back-tracking here, working from Part 6 to this one: which I loved.

Bonus: the comments are just as good a read!

Speaking as a fellow un-subscriber (I couldn't swallow most of it by the time I was 16, and by my 20s I was lost!), I find many truths in what is said here.

I think this is indeed in keeping with your 'Where Malaysia is headed' title: if we read between the lines, it is so evident where god and religion are taking us. To say that these ideas are being used and abused is to understate the issue.

How much simpler so many of the issues would be, should religion be taken out of the equation.

I'm off to Part 4 and the rest now :)

Gadfly said...

Singam, I think the use of logic to grasp the idea of God will inevitably end up in irreconcialable contradictions.

For example, can God create a stone that is so heavy that He(why He and not she or it is another debate) cannot lift up? Either yes or no shows God is not all powerful.

Coming to your idea of the impossibility of Omnipresent and Intervening God, I equally share your bewidermnet but from a different argument. When God is One, meaning the one that is omnipresent,omnipotent and the all merciful, it has to be something in order to be the Great One. The problem is, this One which is something(or someone,if you like)exists in no-thingness. Which is greater then, the something or the nothing? One or zero? Is not zero(call it voidness or emptiness or space or nothingness etc) greater than one (call it something or someone)?

So long God is something, it occupies space and not space itself. Logically, it is not that great. Let us be an devil's advocate, and assume that it is possible for God to be something and nothing simultaneously. This is where logic breaks down: you are both present and absent at the same time. This is impossible in logic unless it is seen as a paradox.

Perhaps, it is more useful to see God as a verb rather than a noun, say God means self-emptying, something or someone that has the great capacity, not merely lifting stones, but to empty itself and the humanity of greed, aggressiveness and ignorance.

Sometimes, people of low esteem may look for God or gods to uplift their injured ego. Nurturing a healthy ego may be a better approach rather than escaping into the delusion of the spiritually or religiously omnipotent.

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Organised religion and spirituality. I've always taken this as knowledge of the divine and undergoing a divine experience. I sense that both are needed in order to developed a functional moral compass. Thing is, what is it going to take for someone to develop both in tandem?

On my own journey, getting that knowledge entailed quite a bit of study in theology, mythology, history and psychology. I saw it as akin to building a temple or shine. Where to set the pillars, sink the nails and put up the roof in that structure.

All that work is only now maturing. Until that temple houses a relic and is inhabited, it is just another building. An edifice without meaning if the halls are filled with talismans but no spirit to drive it and no one to read the wisdom out loud.

My point is this, the knowledge forms the structure in which the divine experience is explained and understood. The experience [or relic as I would best describe it] exists in a place with no language. It just is. The only limitation to "getting" or "grokking" [as my favourite writer put it] the relic/experience is about as far as the sensory input of the human body feels it is true. The best this can be described are in vague approximations.

With that said, an out of body experience is entirely that, the logical mind has received an out of program and sensory error and has currently stopped processing. Please wait while the system reboots. In the meantime, enjoy the psychedelic screen saver.

This would be an utterly logical description of the process and about as far as another galaxy in terms of what the person is actually going through.

As for receiving the relic? I've had near death before and have gone through several nervous breakdowns over the past 20 years due to mild depression. There is also "Chemically Assisted Epiphany" for those less inclined to consider living after having being tossed of the edge of life. Lot's of ways to get there though it may take a lot more effort making sense of it.

The short of it is, the experience is what comes to you after having everything that makes or describes "You" is stripped away?. I've seen people truly and fully break when they cannot reconcile the experience with what remains after their structure/temple/castle/ego has been demolished.

In the end, my question is even with both the knowledge and experience, what is to be done with it? For this, the only answer that has made sense to me so far is what I decide to be true with both.

In the end, I'm the only person who can ever decide what is real or illusion in the world. That will hold true for as long as the experience feels it is with regards to this mortal body. That to me is even more important the structure and experience.

Antares said...

I'm too lazy to respond individually here but I'd like to express my wholehearted appreciation to each of you who has enriched this piece with your own stimulating comments & perspectives. The upshot of this mini-symposium is that nobody has a right to impose his or her programming on others, least of all something as nebulous & untrustorthy as the state. Indeed, those of you who have returned & added further comments have been very generous with your thoughts - all of which are most interesting &
reassuring in that it shows there are many deep-thinkers in our midst for whom such topics are grist for their philosophical mills.

auge said...


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Akar-rumput said...

THIS. :) plus edu Best of manners and character. Most competent ruler. but who's the leading exemplar in that area? (from all accumulated archived writings - as public reference). GBu

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