Sunday, 18 March 2018

Perspective #6: The Curious Computer

In relation to the topic of the preceding Perspective here's a charming story, attributed to Hugh Brecher, an American psychotherapist:
Once upon a time, there was a little personal computer, who, unlike all other computers, experienced curiosity about itself and the world. It wanted to know who and what it was, where it came from, why it was here and what was the meaning of its existence.
Being a very curious little guy, he sought the answers to his questions as best he could. Sometimes, he would link up with giant mainframe computers and ask them, "What am I?"
Some wise mainframes said, "You are your hardware." Others said, "You are your programs." Some even said, "You are the sum total of information in your data banks." Once, a cynical micro-computer said, "You are just a machine; buttons on your keyboard are pressed and you respond by running programs and processing date: you are hardware, housing software and data. A machine is what you are and nothing more."
Starting to feel a bit hopeless, the PC inquired, "But how did I get here; where did I come from?"
The mainframe responded, "Your existence is just an accident, the result of a series of random events in the universe." PC queried, "But don't accidents and events themselves have causes?"
The big computer replied that he honestly didn't know.
The little computer could see that there was some truth in what he was told, but he felt that something was missing from the explanations. The notion of accidents and randomness wasn't satisfying, as he had observed that effects always have causes - which themselves are the effects of prior or simultaneous causes. He could see that effects were causes and causes were effects.
One day, as a Friendly User was between uses, the little PC, feeling courageous, flashed a message on his screen, "What am I?" he asked.
The User, being appreciative of past services well performed by the little computer, responded, "You are my computer, my friend in need - you are my friend indeed."
"Yes," replied the little computer, "but is that all that I am - hardware, a screen, a keyboard, some transistors, a data bank and programs? Am I just a machine that automatically responds to button pressing? What am I here for? What is my purpose in being? Where did I come from?"
The Friendly User was moved by the sincerity of the PC's desire to know the truth of his existence. He smiled, and after a while, he responded, "Your true basic nature is that of the energy, the electricity, that animates both your hardware and software. Yes, you are the life force that can become aware that it inhabits the hardware and motivates the software to function. Because you - the life force, the electrical energy, exist - you as personal computer, exist." He paused a moment and then continued, "Your hardware, screen, data banks and central processing units are collectively a machine. Your material aspects exist so that you may use them: first, to realize your own true nature; and second, that you may serve others in your world. All forms are simply different manifestations of the same truth that is your own nature. You are here to serve them so that, sooner or later, they may come to this same realization."
The little computer's screen remained blank for quite a while as he reflected on these words of wisdom. Finally, he displayed on his screen, "Understanding your words led me to turn my attention inward rather than to my keyboard, hardware, software or data banks. My deepest experience is just that, plain and simple: I AM. In the silence of my central processing unit, I experience my basic nature as awareness itself. For all my life, when 'on', I have been seeking the truth of my identity from all that has been added to my identity, and from all that my true nature enlivens, activates and gives form to. Now, I realize that everything that was added to my identity was simply a surface expression of my own true self."
The Friendly User was very pleased with the little PC's understanding and said, "Very good, little guy. You got it. Now, do you know who I AM?"
"You are God," replied the little computer.
"Yes, my child," said the Friendly User, "and so are YOU!"

More to follow...

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Perspective #5: I Am

We continue with the theme of how much we need Planet Earth and how much the planet needs us, and what corrective action is required. We are at a crossroads on how we might approach this mutual dependency. These Perspectives suggest that we should order our lives in order to gain wisdom to stimulate the way to help the world steer clear from the selfish route we have hitherto taken. As a people, we are the ones responsible for where we are at, and by changing ourselves we can have a profound effect on those around us and thus the entire nation, and the world. We should stop feeding the selfish world order that we are part of and live more intelligently.

It's a direct and harsh statement to make, but what other option is there?

The title of the previous Perspective was "Who Am I?" Well, on reflecting on this we can now say "I am". But this phrase is not to be taken in a simple everyday physical sense: it is key to the understanding of what each of us is in his/her essence. As we are made by God then we have a vital and actual link with God, would we only recognise it. It is only from God that we obtain true inspiration: scholastic education alone is not the answer.

Over 40 years ago, in 1975, I came across a wonderful book by an American spiritual philosopher, Walter Starcke, which contained (for me) a remarkable insight into spirituality, and a view that I have since found repeated in all the major Eastern spiritual paths.

Walter Starcke wrote (in his book "The Gospel of Relativity"):
When Jesus tried to tell the password he said, "There is only one way you can enter the kingdom." He said, "I AM the way," but mankind didn’t hear. They thought he was saying that Jesus, the man, was the way, but he was saying the password, "I."
That’s it. That’s all. Just "I." So simple, but so very, very complicated. For "I" cannot be spoken; it can be felt and experienced, but not thought. Any thought about "I" carries with it the seeds of ego, separation and defeat. “I” is the most sacred of all words because it can be comprehended only in silence, in an inner silence.
We have missed the secret of life because we have spoken it. In fact, we have spoken it more than any other word, and every time we have said "I" in a finite way we have desecrated the word. Whenever we have said, "I feel depressed" or "I feel sick," "I need this" or "I need that," we have closed the door on ourselves. We have misused the password.
Whenever we have called any man on earth our father, any guru, any mate, any effect, we have shut the door on "I." Those who know I AM will never have to look to man whose breath is in his nostrils for anything. They can travel anywhere in the world without money or protection. Every­thing will be provided from the "I" within.
But we must not speak "I." We must hear it. "I" must enter the heart, it must be in the soul, it must be felt rather than reasoned or thought; only then do we dwell in the secret place of the most high. And it says to us, "Know ye not that I am God? ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ I in the midst of you is mighty, and I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” ...
I is the invisible presence within you. I is the invisible presence that goes before you to make the way clear, is always with you as your protection if you call upon it and hear its voice. "Listen to ME, I, look unto ME, the I of your own being. Don’t look to effects. Your body is only the temple of ‘I’; I made it in my image and likeness, of my substance. I knew you before you were conceived in the womb. I formed your body.
"I am the way, live by Me. Do not live by the way of the world, do not live by form. I am your high tower. Put up your sword; don’t live by the physical or the mental. Live by the recognition of I always with and as you. I in the midst of you is ordained. ..."
I, LOVE, and YOU are all the same word. Your capacity to love is your capacity to experience the I of another. Supreme love is when you see another as your own I, when you see yourself in another because you have gone beyond form and know I. When you love another and see your I as his I, you have become total: all is one.
But to truly be able to recognise the tenor of these words, we should change ourselves in how we look at the world. My own experience bears witness to that when I was, for a number of years, employed in a modern industry and was successful in the then fledgeling computer software sphere. Just when I was at the point of probably accomplishing very significant material success my marriage broke down with the consequent break-up of the family. Not only that but a strange phenomenon was experienced. That situation caused me to re-think and re-evaluate what I was doing with my life and where I was headed. But it was not everyday religion that I sought as my solace but how I should live every detail of my life to put it back into balance.

The following is an extract from a website text that expresses the matter in a nutshell, and is a text that I would like to have had shown to me when I was a young man, or at least received the kind of education that would have helped me think in a better way:
Because of selfishness and greed, some nations have prospered, and some individuals have accumulated inordinate material wealth – the Earth’s riches are not justly shared. There is exploitation. But the so-called victors have lost their peace; it has buried them in ignorance of who they are and what the true purpose of their lives is. Their endless pursuits have taken a heavy toll on their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Man is not protected from the law of cause and effect – the natural consequences of his excesses. One need only look around today and bear witness to the havoc that Nature is causing as a consequence.
Of course, there are enlightened people who understand the mutual interdependence of all creation, and they live accordingly. Sadly, in many instances, their voices have been drowned out, and not enough people listen to them. 
We need to live simply again, knowing that a life lived honestly and lived well, free from the inner enemies of greed, lust, attachment, anger, ego, jealously, etc. – which rob us of our humanity – provides true self-satisfaction. The removal of our inner enemies makes space for the purity of heart and mind needed to live in God’s Will, where real peace and happiness is found.
It is time to give up false notions about where to find peace and happiness and know that by living in God’s Will we actually live true to our inner selves. We need not seek peace and happiness, these will come naturally when we live in this way.
When we live simply, we inevitably tread softly, move reverentially, and utilise gratefully. Nothing is taken for granted; everything is seen as a gift from God, for all. We switch off what we don’t need, we consume only what we need, we don’t kill to satisfy our palate, we walk and benefit from the exercise, and we utilise public transportation. By these simple steps, we learn humility and gratitude.
When the cravings of the mind and senses are stilled and the ego is diminished, we actually experience our interconnectedness to everything around us. This will nourish the sense of responsibility towards the Earth and all living beings, including animals and plants.
We in the west predominantly think of ourselves as Christian, but do we understand, properly, what the teachings of Jesus were? It is probably the time to re-think what we mean by being "Christian" and it may help to read this dialogue between a young Greek Christian and Sri Sathya Sai Baba (who is referred to here as Swami):
Swami asked me many things about my daily life in Greece and my spiritual practice. At one moment He asked me: “What is your religion?” I answered “Christian, Swami.” Then He asked me: “What is the meaning of the Cross?” I was well prepared, because I had read so many books of Swami and heard so many of His discourses. So I answered without any delay: “Swami, the vertical line is the I (ego), and the straight line means that one has to cut across the ego.” Swami was very pleased and turning to the boys that were sitting around, He said: “You see, very good answer!”
So, there we have it. It would seem that the main issue that needs addressing in this world is man's ego. Not to do so may have huge negative repercussions, for what goes around comes around. If each of us were to be more circumspect in how we treat the world and others and recognise that we are one spiritual whole, we will be contributing massively to the well-being of God's creation. Not only that but we will, by God's Grace, find our own personal salvation and also lay a better foundation for our children.

Please consider passing this link onto others.

To come: more on the soul and about karma.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Perspective #4: Who Am I?

It is so easy to be carried away by financial, academic or other success and thus think that "I am that which I have become in this world". Some become so obsessed with this thought that they believe that what they have accomplished is down purely to their efforts. They then tend to see the world purely in material terms and expect the world to listen to their advice on what is needed for a better world.

Not all such persons, but quite a number. And when they utter their doctrines they speak down to others who have not "made it" as though they are not worthy; that they take the view that persons of low material achievement have remained low in the social order because of something inherently wrong with their attitude and they should, therefore, receive little or nothing in aid.

That there are persons who do not make much of an effort is not questioned. It is the assumption by a number in powerful positions that all persons of low material worth are of that character.

The fact is, however, that a society (if it is to be successful) requires the cooperation of all its members, rich or poor, and as any good business manager knows, his staff will respond much better to fair treatment than to harsh treatment. Is not balanced love better than hate or disrespect?

But for the better success of society, all its members would benefit much more if they came to understand themselves better and also themselves in relation to the rest of the world and even the universe. To live and operate successfully we should learn that we are mutually inter-dependent, not only to other persons but to our entire, larger, environment and even the universe. That we must live within universal laws.

Science is coming towards being in agreement with this view. This webpage's headline (click on the link) states: "Scientists Discover That Humans Have A ‘Magnetic 6th Sense’ To Detect Something We Can’t Even See!". Now this is not something new, but science thinks it is as they have just 'found' it! But it has been known to exist for countless eons. It is known by all mystics. Did not Jesus say (in the language of the time) that the body is a temple? What was he inferring there, that we should simply pray and that God 'out there' might answer our prayers? No! I believe he was saying that by our sincere prayers (and meditations and mantras) we create a 'something' that communicates with our surroundings - a psycho-magnetic link with hidden elements which, in turn, link to God.

All life is interwoven with a greater whole which is only partly visible. But the human mind has become fickle as we have been feeding it with worldly tendencies. How can we stabilise it? By firstly seeking to find out who we really are: by going within to "seek and thou shalt find". Silence is golden.

So, what to do?

A young man came to a sage one day and asked, "Sire, what must I do to become wise?" The sage vouchsafed no answer. The youth after repeating his question a number of times with a like result, at last left him, to return the next day with the same question. Again no answer was given and the youth returned on the third day, still repeating his question, "Sire what must I do to become wise?"

Finally, the sage turned and went down to a nearby river. He entered the water, bidding the youth follow him. Upon arriving at a sufficient depth the sage took the young man by the shoulders and held him under the water, despite his struggles to free himself. At last, however, he released him and when the youth had regained his breath the sage questioned him:

"Son, when you were under the water what did you most desire?"

The youth answered without hesitation, "Air, air! I wanted air!"

"Would you not rather have had riches, pleasure, power or love, my son? Did you not think of any of these?" queried the sage.

"No, sire! I wanted air and thought only of air," came the instant response.

"Then," said the sage, "to become wise you must desire wisdom with as great intensity as you just now desired air. You must struggle for it, to the exclusion of every other aim in life. It must be your one and only aspiration, by day and by night. If you seek wisdom with that fervour, my son, you will surely become wise."

As Freke and Gandy wrote in their book “Jesus and The Goddess”:
…it is clear that Christianity was not always the safe, pre-packaged, off-the-shelf religion it has become. The Christian Way was once travelled by philosophical adventurers who proclaimed life to be an opportunity for self-discovery, for spiritual creativity, for living our own myths. Christianity…..began as a movement of mystical enthusiasts with a beautiful vision of the meaning and mystery of life.
But the overall object is towards Unity. The late Indian avatar Sri Sathya Sai Baba made the following statement of hope and inspiration to us in these days of doubt:
If there is righteousness in the heart there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home there will be order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation there will be peace in the world.
Dag Hammarskjold, former secretary-general of the United Nations in his book “Markings”, asked:
Do you choose yourself?
Body and soul contain a thousand possibilities out of which you can build many ‘I’s. But in only one of them is there a congruence of elector and elected. Only one – which you will never find until you have excluded all those superficial and fleeting possibilities of being and doing with which you toy (out of curiosity, wonder or greed) and which hinder you from casting anchor in the experience in the mystery of life, and the consciousness of the talent entrusted to you, which is your I.
That "talent", if properly nurtured, leads to "beauty in the character".

Next: more on the soul, and on karma.

Perspective #6: The Curious Computer

In relation to the topic of the preceding Perspective here's a charming story, attributed to Hugh Brecher, an American psychotherapist:...