March 2013

Not Peace But a Sword

lord-jesus-and-lord-krishna-sundara-fawn

This passage from Matthew 10:34-39 (New International Version) is often misunderstood:

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[a]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

The passage is often quoted to suggest that Jesus is not peaceful. It has been used to portray Jesus as a cult leader turning disciples against their families. In the context of the teaching of Jesus as a whole, this interpretation is not valid. When Jesus says “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”, he is talking about the Spirit within him and within all of us, about the Path. Jesus is acknowledging the truth that following a spiritual Path takes you outside the circle of family, tribe, culture. We have a choice between sticking with the social norm or being true to ourselves.

To be true to ourselves is to come into conflict with others who would be happier if we did not challenge the social or familial norm. By following our own path we become unfamiliar.

It may happen that you disagree with a war that your country is waging, that you have a relationship not approved of by your tribe. You are standing for personal honour rather than family honour for your truth rather than society’s. If we are true to ourselves we are necessarily outsiders whether we are in a crowd or alone because the crowd does not matter.

Jesus is for peace, he says “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”, but he knows that there is no true peace where there is no justice, honour, love and freedom.

It is difficult to stand for values that stand against the values of our family and culture. This dilemma is addressed in the Bhagavad Gita where the warrior Arjuna expresses dismay to Krishna at being called to arms against family members:

[Arjuna] spoke these words to Lord Krishna: O Lord, (please) stop my chariot between the two armies until I behold those who stand here eager for battle and with whom I must engage in this act of war. (1.21-22)

I wish to see those who are willing to serve the evil-minded son of Dhritaraashtra by assembling here to fight the battle. (1.23)

Sanjaya said: O King, Lord Krishna, as requested by Arjuna, placed the best of all the chariots in the midst of the two armies; (1.24)

Facing Bheeshma, Drona, and all other Kings; and said to Arjuna: Behold these assembled Kurus! (1.25)

There Arjuna saw his uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and comrades. (1.26)

Seeing fathers-in-law, all those kinsmen, and other dear ones standing in the ranks of the two armies, (1.27)

Arjuna was overcome with great compassion and sorrowfully said: O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing with a desire to fight, (1.28)

My limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry. My body quivers and my hairs stand on end. (1.29)

The bow, Gaandeeva, slips from my hand and my skin intensely burns. My head turns, I am unable to stand steady and, O Krishna, I see bad omens. I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle. (1.30-31)

I desire neither victory nor pleasure nor kingdom, O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom, or enjoyment, or even life, O Krishna? (1.32)

Because all those, for whom we desire kingdom, enjoyments, and pleasures, are standing here for the battle, giving up their lives and wealth. (1.33)

Teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives. (1.34)

I do not wish to kill them, who are also about to kill, even for the sovereignty of the three worlds, let alone for this earthly kingdom, O Krishna. (1.35)

O Lord Krishna, what pleasure shall we find in killing the sons of Dhritaraashtra? Upon killing these felons we shall incur sin only. (1.36)

Therefore, we should not kill our brothers, the sons of Dhritaraashtra. How can we be happy after killing our kinsmen, O Krishna? (1.37)

Though they, blinded by greed, do not see evil in the destruction of the family, or sin in being treacherous to friends. (1.38)

Why shouldn’t we, who clearly see evil in the destruction of the family, think about turning away from this sin, O Krishna? (1.39)

With the destruction of the family, the eternal family traditions are destroyed, and immorality prevails due to the destruction of family traditions. (1.40)

And when immorality prevails, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupted; when women are corrupted, social problems arise. (1.41)

This brings the family and the slayers of the family to hell, because the spirits of their ancestors are degraded when deprived of ceremonial offerings of rice-ball and water. (1.42)

The everlasting qualities of Varna and family traditions of those who destroy their family are ruined by the sinful act of illegitimacy. (1.43) (Note: Varna means color, or the make up and the hue of mind; a social division or order of society such as caste in India.)

We have been told, O Krishna, that people whose family traditions are destroyed necessarily dwell in hell for a long time. (1.44)

Alas! We are ready to commit a great sin by striving to slay our kinsmen because of greed for the pleasures of the kingdom. (1.45)

It would be far better for me if the sons of Dhritaraashtra should kill me with their weapons in battle while I am unarmed and unresisting. (1.46)

Sanjaya said: Having said this in the battle field and casting aside his bow and arrow, Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow. (1.47)

 
Source: Exploring Ancient World Cultures

Arjuna says “My limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry. My body quivers and my hairs stand on end. The bow, Gaandeeva, slips from my hand and my skin intensely burns. My head turns, I am unable to stand steady and, O Krishna, I see bad omens. I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle.” We know exactly how that feels, any conflict raises feelings of apprehension and regret, and all the more when that conflict with those who are close to us.

Krisha’s answer to Arjuna is essentially that the world is transitory and our gaze should be fixed on the spiritual unmanifest world. Like Jesus, Krishna says seek the eternal first:

When your mind becomes fixed on Me, you shall overcome all difficulties by My grace. But, if you do not listen to Me due to ego, you shall perish. (18.58)

If due to ego you think: I shall not fight; this resolve of yours is vain. Your own nature will compel you (to fight). (18.59)

What you do not wish to do out of delusion; you shall do even that against your will, bound by your own nature-born Karma, O Arjuna. (18.60)

The Lord abides in the heart of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings to act (or work out their Karma) by His power of Maya as if they are (puppets of Karma) mounted on a machine. (18.61)

Seek refuge in Him alone with all your heart, O Arjuna. By His grace you shall attain supreme peace and the eternal abode. (18.62)

Thus the knowledge that is more secret than the secret has been explained to you by Me. After fully reflecting on this, do as you wish. (18.63)

Hear again My supreme word, the most secret of all. You are very dear to Me, therefore, I shall tell this for your benefit. (18.64)

Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, offer service to Me, bow down to Me, and you shall certainly reach Me. I promise you because you are very dear to Me. (18.65)

Setting aside all noble deeds, just surrender completely to the will of God (with firm faith and loving contemplation). I shall liberate you from all sins (or bonds of Karma). Do not grieve. (18.66)

This (knowledge) should never be spoken by you to one who is devoid of austerity, who is without devotion, who does not desire to listen, or who speaks ill of Me. (18.67)

Krisha and Jesus (Christ) are both speaking as God, as representatives of our own inward and transcendent reality. Because they have attained a particular enlightenment and self-transcendence they can speak in this way. They have the same understanding and authority. Jesus is the Son of God and so is Krishna and so are all of us when we transcend the personal.

When Jesus talks about bringing a sword he is talking about the requirement for total commitment. This is a recurring theme in his teaching, as Krishna says “surrender completely to the will of God” so Jesus says “give up all you have and follow me” (Mark 10:21) and compares attaining the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (enlightenment) to a merchant wanting to buy the finest pearl and selling all he has to obtain it.’

The bottom line for Jesus, Krishna and the Buddha and all enlightened teachers is that half measures are not acceptable. We may compromise because we are human, and we will be forgiven, time and again, but the truth does not compromise. We may deviate from the Path and return but when we are off the Path we are lost in illusion whether that illusion is pleasurable or painful.

“No man can serve two masters” says Jesus (Matthew 6:24) “for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

For Jesus and Krishna the sword and the war are metaphors for the struggle to be true to our Inner Light, our Dharma, God, whatever we choose to call it. In order to be true to God and ourselves we come into conflict with the world, with friends, family and most importantly with our own habits and desires, in short with the familiar and the comfortable.

This above all; to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. Shakespeare.

It is only in facing the conflict, inner and outer, that we become warriors of spirit and are able to gain enlightnment of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Ten Years After

birthdefects

After seeing this image yesterday I wrote in Facebook:

If anyone thinks that the war against Iraq which was launched ten years ago today was anything less that criminal and monstrous they should should look at the video at http://owl.li/jfNjW. The use of depleted uranium by NATO forces has led to cancer and birth defects on an epidemic scale. The people who create suffering like this, our political leaders, Blair and a parliament which largely allowed a criminal act to go unchallenged, have acted in a way that has led to demonic consequences. Their interventions justified by lies and distorted moral calculations have resulted in literally untold suffering. It’s difficult to see how we can conclude that the people we elect to lead us are not evil. I don’t mean bad, dishonest or slimy as in having normal human failings; I mean evil as in torturers and serial killers. I watched the first images and had to look away and write here. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya were all murderous interventions that have had negative consequences. And yet we allow politicians from the same system that imposed this suffering to pontificate about the need to intervene in Syria and to impose sanctions and threat of war on Iran. Until we look clearly at the consequences of the wars in Iraq and elsewhere and force our politicians to do this, until we put Tony Blair in jail for his lies, let’s not imagine that Cameron, Millipede, Clegg, Hague or any of that gang have the moral competence to make judgments about going to war. I don’t want to but I’m going to look at the rest of the video.

Yesterday, 20th March 2013 marked ten years since the beginning of the assault on Iraq. A lot of people all over the world took part in the protests against the war. The political class ignored this. Most of us stopped protesting and let the politicians get on with the business of war and deception.

Thoughts on Consciousness, Chi and Changing the World

I found this video, by Graham Hancock, on the Red Ice Creations website.

Hancock writes:

I have received notification .. that my recent 18-minute TEDx video presentation, “The War on Consciousness” (YouTube) which has at time of writing received more than 132,000 views, is to be deleted from the TEDx website because what I say in that presentation allegedly “strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science”, and because I allegedly make “non-scientific and reckless” statements about psychotropic drugs. I am fighting these charges from TED’s Science Board which in my opinion are untrue and amount to nothing more than an ideologically driven attempt to censor my work. All the indications, however, are that my presentation will be deleted some time today…

…I don’t intend to allow this bizarre transgression of my freedom of speech on the part of an institution – TED – for which I once had the highest respect, to pass without a fight…” (paraphrased)

There is more to consciousness than we suppose and the failure to investigate it means that, as individuals, we confine ourselves to the surface levels of our reality, that we don’t live fully. Collectively we see each other superficially and at this level fear each other and become cruel to each other. I don’t advocate drugs but meditation, regular and deep can help. I understand this from experience though my meditation is patchy. What I find intriguing about the video is the thought that non-material, non-human entities exist within a realm of human consciousness beyond the physical brain.

Another video I saw today and uploaded to YouTube is about Chi. It presents evidence for the reality of Chi and also points to humans being more than is alleged by the materialist reductionist world view:

What links these two videos, on chi and on consciousness, is the pointing to a spiritual vastness or depth of us all. Modern life insulates us from the profound and technology increasing pulls us into a sort of digital dream where we disconnect from each other and ourselves:

digitaldreaming

For many of us work has long been that part of our lives where we feel alienated, disconnected from meaning:

work

Now we voluntarily disconnect from meaning or maybe accept the artificial, vicarious experiences of meaning provided by the digital media. These media vie with our real connections to friends, family and our environment for our attention and they have the advantage of being pain free. It’s a lot easier to play a computer game where I’m a conquering hero than to get up before dawn for a morning run. It’s easier to browse through Facebook than to attempt to learn a new still or do some chores or talk about how I feel with my partner or about how she feels. As we run away from reality we become less and less connected to the spiritual and more and more connected to the machine, whether this is the machine of the corporate state or the actual digital machines.

Sometimes it feels as though someone or something wants to keep us disconnected from our higher potentials. The health activist in the following video identifies the pineal gland as the part of the brain that is responsible for us having spiritual or metaphysical experiences and she argues that contaminants such as flouride suppress its functioning:

http://youtu.be/oM0ToA30OHg

If we were all functioning at a higher level then the world would change. There are people, institutions that would not want that kind of change and maybe they work to suppress rising consciousness. What if we accepted this as a reality or as a metaphor? What if we saw meaning in raising our level, maybe achieving just a little but aiming high, and encouraging others, everyone, to do the same? Could we, perhaps, change the world? For Good?

Why I No Longer Support Amnesty International

I’ve finally overcome my inertia and canceled the £5 monthly donation that I have been making to Amnesty International for the last 30 years or so. Twenty years ago I was an active AI supporter, more recently it has just been the donation. As Syrian Girl says, AI supports NATO’s wars; I do not.

The last two calls I’ve had from Amnesty asking for increased support highlighted abuses in Iran and China; I’ve never had a call about abuses in Saudi Arabia or Israel or any ally of the NATO countries.

My concern about Amnesty began with their support for military intervention in Libya and the disinformation that they spread about Gaddfi using black mercenaries against his own people. Amnesty later admitted that this information was false but it led to the murder of black civilians.

According to Wikipedia Amnesty has ‘form’ for spreading rumours like this, as in the lead up to the 1991 Gulf War:

Critics have also pointed out that AI had a role propagating disinformation in a press release before the 1991 Gulf War, in which it claimed that Iraqi soldiers were responsible for the deaths of “scores of civilians, including newborn babies, who died as a direct result of their forced removal from life-support machines.”[13] It later transpired that this claim was a propaganda hoax, and AI’s press release was used in the opening salvo of this propaganda campaign – U.S. President George H. W. Bush showed AI’s press release on a prime time interview. Prof. Francis Boyle, an AI USA director at the time, gives a detailed insider account of the way the AI press release was handled.[14] The normal process of double-checking and consultation was short-circuited in a rush to issue the press release. In an April 1991 statement, AI said that although its team was shown alleged mass graves of babies, it was not established how they had died and the team found no reliable evidence that Iraqi forces had caused the deaths of babies by removing them or ordering their removal from incubators.[15]
 

Source: Wikipedia

The same Wikipedia article indicates that AI continues to spread rumours relating to the Syrian conflict:

In September 2011, Amnesty International reported that anti-Assad protestor Zainab al-Hosni’s body, mutilated by pro-Assad forces, was “discovered by chance by her family in a morgue in Homs while there to identify her brother’s corpse.” In October 2011, Hosni allegedly appeared on Syrian TV stating that the accusations of her killing were false and fabricated by anti-Assad protestors to “serve foreign interests” and that she was “alive in contrast to what the lying satellite television stations had said.” According to a report in Reuters, anti-Assad activists say she is a look-alike.[62]

This is not to say that AI does not do some good work, it must in order to maintain any credibility, but the evidence suggests that it is either allied to NATO and its aims or else it is irresponsible and incompetent in its pronouncements about abuses by states.