Sunday, 21 April 2019

The Real Message of Easter

Dear Reader,

As you may well know, I am not a conventional Christian, but over the years I have come to realise that all spiritual ways lead to the same end. That all routes lead to God, by whatever name you call the creator/maintainer of the Universe - and, indeed, the Omniverse.

But Christianity possesses perhaps the greatest symbol to illustrate the intended purpose of life, and that is through the teachings and physical sacrifice of the Master Jesus. I will not repeat the whole story here, but you must all know it. It is about selflessness and sacrifice.

It is the realisation that life is not what it seems. It is to realise that what is intended is the crucifixion of one's worldly self to resurrect as the true self. Jesus reveals that teaching, fully sacrificing his own life as an ultimate example.

To clarify, the following is an extract from an article about Easter and the Message of Jesus, as written by a Catholic priest a few years ago:
Immediately the husk of the mind is removed, the body has no power of rebirth. When this happens the Atma [the essence of who we are] resurrects in its true formless state.

This is the spiritual equation: Man minus Mind equals God: God plus Mind equals Man. The ability to “diemind” that is, this dissolution of the ego - which is the root of all mental activities - is the alchemy that transmutes man to his Divine state. This is the meaning of the resurrection. It is also the meaning of the Cross: the cutting of the “I” right across. Without the Cross, the death of the ego-consciousness, there is no resurrection. Herein lies the very essence of Christianity and indeed of all religions.
This message is nothing more or less than the mystic's cry to "Die before you die!", or, conversely, the real meaning of "to be born again", as used in the Christian church.

The sun is shining as I sit here writing this on this year's Easter Sunday. I pray that the Sun - the symbol of intelligence - radiates on all who read this and understand it. May this light shine and cause us to seek what is real.

As it states in other scriptures:
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp,
The lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star,
Lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree,
Neither of the east nor of the west,
Whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His light whom He wills.
And Allah presents examples for the people,
and Allah is Knowing of all things.
The light that shines above the heavens and above this world, the light that shines in the highest world, beyond which there are no others–that is the light that shines in the hearts of men.
Chandogya Upanishad
Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Becoming The Highest Expression Of Yourself

Dear Reader,

To ponder on:

People will become fed up with worldliness. They will have had enough of it and will realise that there is no point in being the way they are, because it brings them no real joy.

The world is becoming weary, and there is no real joy unless we have turned around to seek reality. Strains and stresses are everywhere. If it's not Brexit that is causing chaos, then it's something else, and the "something else" includes topics that I would say are of greater magnitude in importance (such as climate change), yet they have been pushed onto the back burner.

If you were to ask me, I'd say that Brexit (though an issue that has to be dealt with at some point) has been nothing but a huge distraction from more real issues. And if the main and underlying issues had been addressed, the topic of values with emphasis on love, the Brexit matter may have simply died a death as people would have come to see more about reality and not be hijacked onto a wave of thinking that has damagingly divided rather than unified, both within the UK and in Europe. I'll leave the USA out of this discussion though I feel that the issue in this post relates as much to that country as anywhere.

It's clear we cannot rely on our parliamentary representatives to steer a reasonable course, as they now claim that they are answerable only to the voters and what they say. Any notion of leadership by worthy example is tossed aside in favour of so-called 'democracy'. Here, 'democracy' has been taken to mean submission to the winning vote, regardless of whether or not the proper steps have been taken to advise the voters what the topic is really all about.

In my view the local and international issues that are now in front of us demand that we, each and collectively, look to re-assessing our situation in the world. If we do not do this - now - then how is the next generation, and the one after that, going to survive the outcome that we are in the act of creating through our own thoughtlessness and irresponsibility?

We have forgotten who and what we are. We have generally cast aside religion, but in the process have mostly forgotten to keep the worthwhile essence that religion promulgates. And that essence is related to the soul and what we are advised to do by great teachers in order to 'walk the walk' in life, in love. 

But the teachings of those "great teachers" are not something of the past up to 2,000 years ago. They relate just as much to today's world (if not more), and were teachings about how to spiritually evolve, partly in order to be able to deal with today's situations and provide a true basis for life on planet Earth; not just for mankind but for the whole of creation. Science by itself will not provide solutions. It's we, by our own self-development under God's auspices, that will provide us with the wisdom to seek true solutions, perhaps using science amongst an array of possibilities that should manifest themselves. And all it needs to push us into action is a genuine (not token) desire to find peace, not merely by hoping that someone else can 'do it'.

The following list of 16 traits that are said to be attained at the highest level of being may arouse your interest. Point 10, however, may take some while to get your head around it. The explanation for that and for all the points listed are to be found in a book that is given below these '16 points'. (Please click on the list of 16 points to see the list more clearly).

I think we should find that these 16 traits would be found as ideals in any of today's great religions.

The book I referred to that contains the "16 traits that are said to be attained at the highest level of being" is CWG book 4, sub-titled "Awaken The Species":

Following on from this, and to end this post, I very recently received this message from a senior person in 'Humanity's Team', an organisation that the writer of the above book (Neale Donald Walsch) founded quite a few years ago now.

I think the message is very pertinent to my post. It reads:
I think part of the reason trust seems to be harder to come by these days than ever before has to do with the fast-paced nature of our modern world, and the fact that for many of us, we rarely if ever spend a moment where something isn’t “coming at us,” so to speak.
Whether it’s someone talking to us or texting us, or our overflowing email inboxes, or news flashes, or advertisements for things that we’re told we have to have in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life, we hardly get a moment to ourselves to really tune in to who we are and what we really want and need.
In my email inbox alone each day, I receive upwards of 50 different emails begging me for donations, or trying to sell me various products and services, or trying to scare me with selective takes on the news, or trying to scam me into giving up my personal information.
Some of these emails are focused on causes I support, and others are from organizations I believe are genuinely trying to help people and do good in the world…
But many of them are obviously not coming from a place of compassion, caring and connection, and are sourced from places of scarcity, greed, hatred or fear—the darker side of human experience and behavior.
The worst outcome of this level of “information overwhelm” is that many people I’ve talked to have told me they often feel like they can’t even trust their own ability to tell the difference between the panaceas and the poisons anymore…
And while I’m not surprised, I believe there’s a way each of us can get to a place of clarity for ourselves that will help us navigate this fast-moving, confusing and overwhelming world.
It has to do with taking time each day to nurture our intuition, get in touch with our “gut,” and then share our clarity with others without hesitancy, apology or shame.
I think the best way of getting to that place of greater clarity is through our inner connection to the Oneness of all things, to God, or the Universe or whatever way of thinking about that foundational Source most resonates for you.
I encourage you to take time every chance you get (and hopefully for at least 15 minutes a day) to just be alone and centered and inside that Oneness, and to get in touch with how you honestly feel about others, and about the world around you, and about yourself and what you truly want and need.
Regularly spending a little time alone like this can go a long way toward allowing you to better know when you are hearing or reading something that is coming from the heart and that is being sourced from a place of compassion and caring.
It can also help you to quickly know whether the information being shared is of value to you or in alignment with what feels right and true for your worldview.
In your daily life, I also encourage you to be as honest as you can with others, and to not hold back or camouflage what you think or how you feel but to respond as directly and honestly as possible, even if what you are saying makes people a little uncomfortable or points out their own dishonesty or lack of clarity or their ignorance or their fear.
With the urgent issues facing our species at this point in history, there’s nothing to be gained from walking on eggshells all the time and being afraid to make waves.
If you see something that doesn’t feel right or okay to you, I encourage you to stand up and say so, even if it ruffles a few feathers.
While we live in a challenging world that seems to get more challenging every day, it doesn’t mean we have to acquiesce to it or be oppressed by it.

We can push back by being role models, by being honest and compassionate, and by caring as best we can for others, and for ourselves, and by standing up for what we believe is right. ... the only way we can “win” is if we all win, hand in hand, and in service to our Oneness.
The task of building for a new future is not an easy one. Sacrifice is demanded of us. But do we wish to stay where we are, getting further and further into a bog of our own creation, instead of finding the means to resurrect ourselves to be who we really are?

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

What Is It We Should Value?

Dear Reader,

Journalist Ian Birrell, in his lead article in the i newspaper yesterday about the plight of the Yazidis, begins his final paragraph with:
As we stand on the cusp of Brexit, we need to ask ourselves profound questions about national values. We have sent a message to the world that we are tearing down bridges and building walls. We have corroded our reputation as a sensible international player, diminished our global standing and demeaned the mother of parliaments with this humiliating debacle.
The key words (for the purpose of my article) are: "we need to ask ourselves profound questions about national values."

Of course, Ian Birrell is talking essentially of the subject of his topic (the Yezidis), but his final words broaden the conversation to include the role that the West has been playing around the world, and although we like to think that Britain's role is essentially humanitarian, it is we in the West (Britain included) that has largely created the mess. So if we subsequently go around with swathes of sticking plaster (i.e. aid, after the destruction) does it really make us so morally correct? Which is better - prevention or treatment? Was it necessary to go to war with Sadam Hussein way back in 2003 with no strategy on how to deal with its outcomes. And not only that but fight the war with such ferocity that it is thought that 400,000 civilians died. In fact the matter officially started not in 2003 but way back in 1917 as far as Britain is concerned, with the matter of the Balfour Plan.

All that kind of work does is to create hatred which subsequently finds its evil apotheosis in the shape of ISIS, which, in turn, generates more destruction and massacres, including the Yazidis.

So, "we need to ask ourselves profound questions about national values."

But this matter of values extends way beyond international issues such as the Middle East. It comes way back to our own backyard, where the disabled and the genuinely poor are now being hunted down to get into work as the government doesn't want to pay the welfare bills. You doubt this is happening? There are countless cases of this taking place and now to the extent that the government has been trying to stop doctors issuing sick notes. And please don't try applying for PIP as you face assessors with no heart.

Phil Hammond and Theresa May talk of the end of austerity but all that is happening is that they are colluding to create an even wider gap between rich and poor as the NHS appointments schedule whirls into decline.

Brexit is another matter that has created as many opinions, it sometimes seems, as the number of voters. We can't find a common attitude as we seem to have lost a sense of genuine values.

Meanwhile, one of the most urgent issues of all - climate change - is almost pushed to the background and our wild species are being decimated whilst sea creatures are being drowned by plastic.

Yet no-one wants to address the important matter of "values". What do we believe in these days? Do you know? Doesn't it concern you? How can we elect any government without really knowing what values we are basing our choice on, and not just what is best for our pockets? I'm afraid worrying about paying the bills is now a matter of lesser importance, because if we don't start addressing real issues there won't be anything to pay for. It's a harsh reality.

Love of the whole world needs to be thought of and not just towards our families.

Let's address real issues and the way they should be addressed. Now; based on unity and love.

Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

God's Help In Extreme Situations

Dear Reader,

A believer (or knower) of God will, without hesitation, seek help from the object of his adoration, particularly when in some danger. There are countless times when God's protection has been sought, but there are some stories about this aspect that stand out in ordinary human experience. Two such stories follow, the first about an American Army unit at war:
Over 100 years ago, during World War I, the 91st Infantry Brigade was preparing to enter combat in Europe. The Brigade Commander, a devout Christian, assembled his troops and gave each of them a little card on which was printed the 91st Psalm, the same number Psalm as their brigade. They agreed to recite that Psalm daily. After they had begun praying the Psalm, the 91st Brigade was engaged in three of the bloodiest battles of World War I — Chateau Thierry, Belle Wood and the Argonne. Other American units that fought in the same battles had up to 90 percent casualties, but the 91st Brigade did not suffer a single combat-related casualty.
Psalm 91 as in the KJV (to enlarge, please click on the text below):

There have been a number of individual instances of this kind when the 91st Psalm has been invoked, but the following story is of quite a different hue, but with the same theme - of reliance on God.

Though Hinduism has numerous gods in its pantheon, their philosophy is that all leads to the one God; that all is One. Each individual god they adopt and pray to is their perception of God in one of his forms. But it is not the figurine they worship. A Hindu, therefore, sights a Hindu god in his dream or has a vision of a god in real life, and that’s believable because the person reveres that god. But a Christian claiming to see a Hindu god who ends up saving the man’s life…is something which is unheard of. The following relates such a story:
It was 1879, and the British were ruling India. An officer in the British Army, Lt. Col. Martin of Agar Malva, was leading the army in the war against Afghanistan. Col. Martin would regularly send messages of his well-being to his wife. The war went on for a long period of time and Lady Martin stopped getting his messages. This naturally worried her.
One day, while riding on her horse, she passed by the temple of Baijnath Mahadev. The sounds of the conch and mantras attracted her. She went inside the temple and came to know that the Brahmans were worshipping Lord Shiva.
The Brahmans saw her and noticed that she was sad and tense. They asked her what the matter was and she explained everything to them. They told her that Lord Shiva listens to the prayers of devotees and takes them out of difficult situations.
On the advice of the Brahmans, she started the ‘Laghu-rudri Anushtthan’ of the Mantra: ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, for 11 days. She prayed to Lord Shiva that if her husband reaches home safely, then she would get the temple renovated.
On the last of the ‘Laghu-rudri’, a messenger came and gave her a letter. It was from her husband. He had written:
I was regularly sending messages to you from the battlegrounds, but suddenly the Pathans surrounded us from all sides. We were entrapped in a situation where there was no scope of escaping death. Suddenly, I saw a Yogi of India with long hair, carrying a weapon with three pointers (Trishul). His personality was amazing and he was manoeuvring his weapon with a magnificent style. Seeing this great man, the Pathans started running back. With his grace, our bad times turned into moments of victory. This was possible only because of that man of India wearing a lion skin and carrying a three-pointer weapon (Trishul). That great Yogi told me that I should not worry and that he had come to rescue me because he was very pleased with my wife’s prayers.
Tears of joy fell down Lady Martin’s eyes as she read the letter. She fell into the feet of Lord Shiva’s statue and burst into tears.
After a few weeks, Col. Martin returned. They both visited the Baijnath Mahadev Temple to thank Lord Shiva for saving Col. Martin’s life. It was then that he realized the striking resemblance of Lord Shiva to the Yogi who’d appeared on the battlefield to save his life.
Both became devotees of Lord Shiva. They helped in rebuilding the temple premises and donated money for its maintenance. The British couple’s name is engraved on the slab inside the temple premises. To date, the Baijnath Mahadev Temple is the only Hindu temple in the country that was built by British!
And so it is. God is available in many guises!

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Real Food For Thought

Dear Reader,

In a world where obfuscation creates a fog in our daily lives whenever we read a newspaper or watch the TV news, what appeared this week in the press should not be surprising. But it was: to me at least. 

A few times in the week I purchase the only so-called 'quality newspaper' that my budget will allow: the i. Generally, it gives me a reasonable view of what is happening in the affairs of this world, but there are quite a few times when it has let me down. And this week was one of those weeks where it let me down.

I suppose my reactions are as a result of having a good insight into Indian culture (for a Westerner, at least) as I had been following the early stories of the India-Pakistan conflict and gained a clear perspective that India felt it had to take some punitive action as a result of terrorist activities in Kashmir, by a group that is based in Pakistan. That terrorist activity had killed 40.

However, the way that the i (and the BBC TV news) portrayed it, it gave all the appearance of two old colonial adversaries throwing their toys out of their prams. Thankfully, I went on-line and read a far more realistic appraisal of the situation by Robert Fisk in the i's old mother newspaper, The Independent. But the fact remains that our press is generally entirely obfuscating in how they report affairs connected with anything outside Britain's shores.

But even within our own shores the press is often mind-blowingly misreporting events, and one that caught my eye was a matter that related to two health experts, both of them originating from Indian culture. Again, my insight into their culture made me see far more, probably, than the ordinary Western eye. What follows should provide much food for thought!

In the i (again), the headline appeared: "Vegetarian diet led to my mum's early death, says NHS cardiologist". Now, that cardiologist's family were from the Indian sub-continent, and when that people talk of a vegetarian diet, it is usually of quite a different nature from what we regard as 'vegetarian'. For a start, a well-based Indian diet is derived from a lot of wisdom (particularly about how the ingredients should be balanced, and lifestyle) and is not lightly regarded. In the West, we seem to have quite a different perspective and which is often based on loose ideas.

Anyhow, the i article then told us that the NHS cardiologist described how "Growing up I witnessed [my mother's] regular consumption of starchy carbohydrates and ultra-processed snack foods of biscuits, crisps and chocolate." He then went on to describe her one main daily meal consisting (inter alia) of "a mountain of table sugar". This all led (understandably, and sadly) to her poor health. But how could her chosen diet be said to be representative of true vegetarianism (as intimated by her son, an "NHS cardiologist")?

However,  the i allowed this misleading article to form a basis for the inclusion of advice from Western nutritionists who seem anxious to put down the idea of vegetarianism/veganism by any means at their disposal. 

The press was not having a good week, but it did manage to finish on a 'high' when (of all papers) the Daily Mail published an article giving a remarkably different line of thought on the same topic.

On Saturdays, we purchase the Daily Mail because of the excellence of its weekly TV supplement, but I have very little time for the main body of the newspaper. But I still browse through its articles as I sometimes find something of interest. This week, the Mail produced an article that completely and successfully negated the notion carried forward in the i 's disappointing article.

The Mail's headline stated: "This NHS doctor says changing his diet helped cure his heart condition..." and "I'm Proof Food Is The Best Medicine". The article - written by another person from a family of the Indian sub-continent - describes how the writer's mother had a serious health condition, but rejected medication in favour of a radical change of diet even though having no background in medicine, "but her Indian upbringing had given her an appreciation of the food and lifestyle and, as a trained lawyer, also used her research skills and analytical approach to examine the scientific literature and create a plan of action".

The writer then states how he watched her "completely overhaul her diet ... packed with vegetables, legumes [lentils and chickpeas] and whole grains, combined with good sleep patterns, exercise and meditation." A healthy and completely balanced solution, as distinct from the report detailed in the i.

But it so happened that the writer (Dr. Rupy Aujla) developed atrial fibrillation (AF) at quite a young age and soon after beginning a medical career. Again, like his mother, being faced with a choice of extreme medical treatment or an alternative approach, he changed both his diet and lifestyle. Within a year the AF had gone. He then began to apply his drug-free therapy to his patients, with substantial success. Dr. Aujla now promotes his food recipes for the public at large.

But let's make one clear observation here. The findings of Dr. Aujla are based on wisdom that has always been available in India and his results make it clear that the attempt at superimposing western science on eastern knowledge often brings about a throwback when one is faced with an immense difficulty at hand. The difficulty doesn't have to be about health as a  spiritual crisis occurred in my life which ultimately caused me to find peace of mind through the rejection of religion as we are commonly taught, and to find true inspiration from the East.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Are we Divided? Then Let's Try Unity!

Dear Reader,

For the past several years we seem to have been witnessing the drum beating to the sound of the word "division". Since probably the referendum on Scottish independence, the momentum has been quickly increased to bring about the Brexit referendum, which in turn has brought big "division" within the ranks of Labour and Tory alike.

It rather looks as though we have a UK that is both leader-less and rudder-less. And let's not forget what is happening in the USA, and elsewhere.

But perhaps this situation ought to be telling us something? And that is that though we all like to think we have a right to an individual point of view, the reality is that when the matter is taken to an extreme (as it has become) we don't know what we have left ourselves in for. We certainly did not know what Brexit meant in 2016 in terms of all the ramifications of having to settle an amicable agreement with our erstwhile European partners as well as the 48% (nearly half) of the 2016 voters who chose to remain. In fact it is thought that the number wanting to remain in 2019 is vastly greater and would substantially win another referendum.

So what has brought us this lamentable state of affairs?

For me it is the result of the developments since World War Two, and certainly since the 1960s and then the "me, me" momentum that was given official credence in the 1980s. Developments that have caused us to drift from "one nation" into 60 million individuals, with pockets of opposing agreement. And a definite lack of moral leadership wherever you look, despite those that are working their socks off in their striving for fair play. But, again, those efforts are fragmented.

But I also say (perhaps surprisingly) that it is up to us to individually make the difference by re-examining what it is that we are here for, in this life. Just a 5% swing in attitude can produce quite a different momentum, towards unity, if we would but try. And as I see it the state of the country and of the world right now needs us to try.

If we would take off our blinkers and reject the brainwashing we have all endured, it should not take us long to see that the resources of the world can be shared equally and be sustainably produced if only we could see that we do not need more than an ordinary material level of existence to live reasonably well. But, importantly, to live in such a way that it gives everyone else - and every creature - a chance to share that bounty.

Let's put aside our emphasis on self and blood family, and regard the whole world as members of one greater family. If that can be our unified cause then division will slip away.

We need to do this. And to do it now. That change of perspective will produce dramatic positive results, I am certain. The great masters told us certain things that we failed to understand; now is the time to try to understand them and move away from purely self-interested motivation.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Emerging From Fog

Dear Reader,

There are sometimes when I sit and reflect, and say to myself, "What else is there to write about?". And I don't write if what I'm thinking on is mere repetition or if I feel that it lacks sincerity or meaning. And external matters sometimes take their toll a little, and knock me off balance. Well, I sometimes allow them to knock me off balance as falling off your soapbox can bring you down to earth.

So in the last few weeks I feel that I have been living in some kind of fog; a definite feeling of a lack of clarity when it comes to wielding the pen, though Brexit has not helped in this world of mystification! And I am only coming awake again as a result of reading a certain book on Friendship With God, and also by being moved by other writers' feelings on important issues of life.

This powerful essay evokes reminders of how innately self-equipped we are, and this trite summary from the essay encapsulates a reminder of that:

Technologies themselves did not lead us astray, but our impulse to develop, adopt, and rely on them mirrors a slow wandering away from the receptive centers of ourselves. ...
... each of us is capable of picking up signals that even the most powerful GPS could never detect. And we do, all of us, moment by passing moment. How ironic that we’ve designed wayfinding instruments and climate-controlled environments that shut out the many forces that are there, waiting to guide us. Humidity, vibration, shadows, birdsong—they reach out to us in every moment, silently imploring us to remember that we are—all of us, always—life responding to life.
These words might help us to recall that despite all our cerebral effort to achieve a living, and/or perhaps to help determine how to sort out the world's problems, reality is based on our sensory perception of what is around us. Life does not successfully proceed purely according to what intellectual ideas we might try to construct on what is the way forward, despite what our educational system states, and which lacks wisdom-teaching. The decision to go to war with Iraq with no endgame planned for, and regardless of the amount of suffering inflicted, is a case in point. The decision to create energy from fracking is another, but there are many more illustrations of this kind. The former of these left a deep scar and brought about an ugly response in kind, and the second is in danger of also creating a deep scar, but in a different form. And the volcanic eruptions continue apace, showing how sensitive Mother Earth is to how we are treating her. Our great Mother vividly demonstrates that she has a great amount of sensory perception.

We have become almost inured to what is around us because we have drifted away from our true selves in our reliance on technology and material living. Another writer says: "Grief and friends, time and tears will heal you to some extent. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate and moisturize you and the ground on which you walk.", and I'll go with that as those experiences will bring you back closer to who you really are. But if you want to bring yourself to a more lasting happy state of mind, then a Friendship With God is necessary. Imperative, in fact, if we would but know and make the effort to understand what is our true reality.

I wish you well.

Thank you for reading this.