Edinburgh still felt so familiar, like I had never left. I was happy to hear English all around me but have to admit I missed the German too. Edinburgh is such a great city with so many people from so many places, beautiful old buildings, not half as modern as my area in Oldenburg. Old in a cosy way. Catching sight of Arthur’s Seat and walking around campus and familiar areas, I felt reassured. Pleasant nostalgia.
Meanwhile my jazz/pop choir performed in Acapella Abend (evening) on Fri and Sat nights. Saturday’s performance for all the groups were better because I think people had more energy. There was a group from Berlin. Four young men, one of who finished his Masters here only last Sem. He got to do the solo last semester in our performance. That was by far the most entertaining breathtaking performance. They don´t have a name yet and aren´t on youtube or anything but they will go places! We had Thriller, This Love, Time of the Season, Gummy Bears, Falling Slowly, Ein Abend in Paris, and some Alt Musik (1500s stuff). My choir sang Man in the Mirror, The Way you Look Tonight, Baba Yetu and Dancing Queen.
Jazz/Pop Choir has started again on Monday evenings. The department had its monthly social gathering at the Loft last to last Thursday. The very next day we had a WG-psycho night where we all watched The Shining together.
I believe the time has come when, just as children of the Occident grow out of Santa Clause, we as humanity need to grow out of the delusion of an external god.
If god is everything, there is no need for a god at all; merely the understanding of the interconnected nature of existence itself, and the laws of physics, discovered and undiscovered, that govern it. At this early point in our spiritual evolution we, as a species, may seek more growth at the material level in the form of accumulation of monetary assets and comforts, but I would dare to hope that at some point, more of us would look to less limited realms; towards our highest mental, emotional, physical and spiritual potentials.
When I expressed my moderate and tolerant views to him and asked why not respect everyone’s faith and let them believe whatever they want, he opened the books one by one and showed me sections in which there is use of extreme violence towards children, unfair treatment of women and the brutality with which they dealt with non-believing communities in the name of god. This violence was justified and considered right in the religion. I was so utterly disappointed in these ‘holy’ books. I was so disillusioned and emotionally affected by these sections…
Of equilibrium and harmony between the mind and the body. Of the layers of existence beyond the material level and how some advanced exercises lead to more optimal use of the brain and body. I have come across several papers since I started my career in neuroscience where meditation has been used to reduce chronic pain, depression and other ailments.
I felt drawn to Hindu mythology and symbolism like never before. I also understood that most Hindus don’t know of these wonderfully stimulating ideas because it is never taught or they are satisfied with the ritualism of it. In fact, degrees in philosophy even in India focus on Western philosophy. I also found that there are very few Hindus who study their own religion from an outside, academic perspective.
It sounded to me like the Christian god was playing around. Creating a species in his image, making it impossible for them to be perfect with so many rules, making them flawed by birth and nature, sending his son, who was himself, to be tortured and killed as an act of kindness to his flawed species, and making it so that the only way to gain his favour again was to believe in this sacrifice and praise him constantly. If he wanted to be kind to humanity and forgive us for our sins, surely as an omnipotent being he could do it directly? Why put Jesus through such violence?
” A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”
– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.
The value they give compassion and critical thinking, their ability to stay peaceful despite the horrendous atrocities the Chinese inflict on them at a physical, emotional and cultural level, and the suffering they endure on their way into India through the mighty and dangerous Himalayan range, evoked my deepest respect. Although I still didn’t believe in organised religion, I took a lot from this brief exposure to theirs.
I became interested in Kabir’s ideas of god. He said god could be Nirgun (without any qualities, undefinable) or Sargun (given any form that humans can relate to, infinite definitions and identities). He introduced to me the concepts of Maya-jaal (the illusory web of this world), Athma and Paramathma (soul and the ultimate soul/Unity), Samsara (materialistic world) and Moksha or Mukthi (ultimate freedom from the cycles of birth and death, bliss/Nirvana). He and the other Bhakti movement poets (like Meera-bai) that we studied talked of the yearning of the individual soul to merge with the ultimate soul and how the materialistic life and the illusions of this world distract us from working towards that bliss/enlightenment. He also said that though we may look for god in temples and mosques, we have him right within us because he is part of us all.