Skip navigation

Category Archives: Scripture

ashoka Hindu philosophy (which I’m reading about in Prof. Wendy Doniger’s fascinating The Hindus: An Alternative History) divides life in to three dimensions: dharma, artha and kama.

Dharma means righteous duty or any virtuous path.  A persons dharma is affected by a person’s age, class, occupation, and gender. 

Artha is the path to achieving widespread fame, garnering wealth and having an elevated social standing.  It is about how society sees them, and how they should see society.

Kama refers to the aesthetic and sensual pleasures of life.  It embodies the leisured private life.

These three dimensions are affirmed in a wide variety of texts.  There are many dharmashastras.  There is only one Arthashastra by Kautilya (Max Weber called Machiavelli’s The Prince ‘harmless’ compared to the Arthashastra).  There is also only one Kamasutra. 

It says a lot about our society that the only well known text is the Kamasutra.  Even when your culture is thousands of years old, it seems that only the sexy part sells.

Advertisements

I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.
~ Albert Einstein.

Its gone on for so long, Hunaid is cracking jokes.

Another friend shrugged their shoulders with a ‘well duh’ look. It was that obvious.

My parents seem to be taking it in their stride.

What is ‘it’?

My growing disillusionment with religion.

I’m floundering on the big picture questions. Why are we here? Where are we going? Why would I want to go there? Why the black and white divide of heaven and hell?

Who is God? How can he exist without being creation? What’s the point of creating if your an omnipotent, omniscient being? Why would such a being need our prayers? Why would he need or even want our acknowledgement?

Ten thousand questions like this. Questions popping into my head every day, wondering how I can live so strongly within the rules  when I’m uncertain about so much.

I’m not the first person to ask these questions. I know that. And others have provided answers. I want answers from those inside my spiritual tradition. Those are denied to me.

Then there is the stuff that’s obviously wrong.

Religious teachers pushing geocentric models of the solar system. Not being able to explain how it worked, or why it was valid. Just asserting that it had to be accepted.

Except I’ve heard of Carl Sagan and read about Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo. I know what the orbit of a planet should look like from the earth in a geocentric model, and I know what they actually look like when charted in the night sky. They don’t match.

Religious teachers telling me with a straight face that physics hasn’t advanced from Aristotle, and that all things are made from the basic elements of air, fire, earth, and water.

Nobody wants to talk about Newton, Einstein or the Copenhagen Interpretation. No one with a clue where protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks and flavours fit into that Aristotelian model of the universe. As if nuclear weapons were built by compressing dirt and setting it on fire. As if 2000 years of progress doesn’t exist.

There are hard limits to the depth of my fall. So far anyway.

I don’t doubt there is a God. I don’t doubt my particular branch of Islam. I believe Maula is everything he says he is. I believe that without this muhabat and walayat for Maula I would have given up on religion all together.

Where does that leave me? For the moment, it leaves me with growing disillusionment.

It leaves me in a strange limbo: a faithful skeptic.

I have questions. I have no answers. Not even the prospect of answers. There’s no one to hear the questions.

I’m a thinking person. I trust my head. Whatever steps I’ve taken to modify and expand that, the intellectual is my primary way of approaching the world.

My religion must satisfy me on that plane  to sustain me.

I’d like answers, clear answers that take a position. No hemming and hawing. No telling me that I’ve asked a very good question, but they can’t answer. Or worse yet vague handwringing answers that don’t address the question.

If you don’t answer, maybe it’s cause you can’t – you don’t have an answer. Maybe the imponderables are imponderable all the way up the food chain.

Maybe all this is just some form of social control. Another giant pyramid scheme of religion.

And I’m wasting my life playing to the Rules.

He laughed.

He giggled.

He chortled.

He guffawed.

He grinned.

He sniggered.

He laughed.

It doesn’t sound right does it.

God doesn’t laugh.

Whatever else he does, he doesn’t laugh.

I’ve never read religious texts where the Creator bursts out laughing. It’s never worked its way into any of the publications of our monotheistic divinity.

Three mass circulation, high publicity volumes on the market, one of them the best seller of all time. The short comedic story that has God laughing at our little species is conspicuously absent.

He’s not emotionless, we know that much. He gets angry, he plans, he plots. He can be happy. He’s got a full emotional range.

Somehow laughter never made the cut. He never even managed a giggle. Maybe it was left out in the editing because our feeble ego wouldn’t be able to withstand the weight of divine humour.

He’s got to be able to laugh though. If we, the created, can do it, then surely God can manage it. We can’t be one up on him.

I guess that leaves the outstanding conclusion that he doesn’t laugh. He can, but he’s a serious type. The type that doesn’t find anything funny.

Which doesn’t make sense, because He’s exhibited a preference for happy people. I remember a story in which two prophets, one exuberantly happy, and one glum, asked God to decide which was the better state to be in. He sent down Gabriel who made it clear that God preferred the happier of the two.

You may be wondering why this is a concern. How dependent can anything be on his sense of humour? Surely salvation hinges on his Mercy, his  Justice or his Eminence and Grace.

Let me assure you that it is a pressing concern. Given the tenor of many a recent conversation, an appeal to his Mercy, Justice or Eminence, is not likely to get me very far if he doesn’t appreciate a good joke.

I’ve always liked darker themes compared to the light and bright ones.

I saw that Ali Eteraz had switched to this a while back and when I realised it was available on WordPress.com I’ve been debating with myself whether to switch. I’ve decided that I’ll commit to the change.

I’m particularly taken with the  bright orange. I like bright orange  as a colour because I associate it with irreverent exuberance and its the only “in your face” colour that you’re ever likely to find me wearing. My inclination to dandyism is weak, but it is there.

That said, you may disagree and feel that the previous theme was better. If so, speak now or hold your peace….