What amazes you most about our world?I call this a poem. It is a sweeping reflection on life whichexplores something of the beauty and mystery of ourplanet, introducing in the process, a range of ideas andquotations from the main religions (mostly Christianityand Hinduism, but also others including NativeAmerican.)I have shared the poem with teachers on the TES site, as aresource for Art and Music – where it may stimulate somecreative compositions – but its origins are in ReligiousEducation and it is here that I think it will be of mostvalue.In the summer of 2007 I was Head of RE in a school witha predominantly atheist ethos – among many members ofstaff as well as among the students. I was struggling to getmy year 10 GCSE classes to engage with the unit of workwhich explores the concept of God.I spoke to several friends and family members asking forany poems that might link God somehow with theexperiences of my students, but very few got back to me intime – so one Sunday afternoon I sat down to try to writesomething myself.I began with an exercise that many if not all RE teachersare familiar with, the concept of Awe and Wonder whichis one of the deepest emotions known to mankind. Theseare the emotions which can break through our ordinaryway of thinking and can give rise to experiences of theNuminous (as Otto called it in his seminal study, whichfound that most people do experience such spirituallytranscendent moments at one time or another in theirlives.)For inspiration I pulled out some previous work which Ihad done on the subject, which had worked well withthose classes. First was a poem which a previous year tenstudent had written some years before. I like it so muchthat I keep a laminated copy among the wall displays andan ordinary copy in my file.
What I find amazing in the worldNiagara FallsThe wide expanse of the oceanAll the different cultures of the worldThe intelligence of dolphinsThe majesty and power of tigersHow the land forms into islands and continentsThe unpredictability of oceansThe power and destructiveness of earthquakes andhurricanesThe vastness of the universeThe ever-changing beauty of colours dancing in flames of fireThe growth of technologyAnd that Chelsea Football Club can communicate without theuse of a dictionary.My problem was, how to inspire my current year tens to getinto the subject in the same way and make it their own?I looked at some work I had done with year seven on the GodQuestion again some years before. I was only working parttime in that school and a new Scheme of Work had been setout for the new Autumn Term. The new year seven classesbegan with a topic on belief in God, which I thought was a bitabrupt. They had to look at William Paleys theory of OriginalDesign and contrast it with Darwins theory of Evolution. Thewhole exercise was in the mind and on the surface. Within acouple of weeks they moved on to the next topic. What could Ido to help them get inside the subject and really engage withit?To make the William Paley lesson more interesting I took theclasses out into the lovely (girls Grammar School) gardensand we looked for examples of beautiful design in nature.Then, after introducing Darwins Evolution and several otherideas about God in the second lesson, I divided all thedifferent theories and ideas about God that we had looked atinto four cards for each topic. As the students came in, theyfound a card on the desk in front of them and I explained thatthey had to go around the room comparing what was on theircard with each other until they found the group of four whichbelonged together. Then they had ten minutes to prepare apresentation on this viewpoint. Then, for the rest of thelesson we had presentations and discussion. It was a greatlesson with a lot of noise – but everyon on task.
The exercise was so effective that we extended it so that forhomework each girl had the opportunity to write an outline onwhat they believed and why – and then in class those whowished and were confident enough, presented their views. Itwas a very satisfying experience because even those who didnot give a presentation felt that their views mattered, theywere heard and respected – and everyone loved the lessons soit created great relationships in the classroom and a verypositive attitude towards Religious Education.One of the topics which I had included in the cards exercisewas to think about where someone might find God? and theresponses were In the flame of a candle, In the faces of flowers, In the sparkling stars, and In the eyes of a child.So I got out that file of work and these were the tools I had forinspiration.I started to work on this in the early afternoon but soon itabsorbed me completely. Time stood still and the family hadto look after themselves for the rest of the day.From time to time my son would bring me a cup of tea and askhow it was going. (He is sympathetic towards my creativemoments.) My husband is not so supportive. He doesnt wantto grumble so he just gets on with something else or goes outfor a while!At that time I was working in a school some 150 miles fromLondon, so on a Monday morning I had to get up at 4am andbe out by five. As a result I always tried to get to bed early, butearly came and went. I was still wrapped up in the poem.When late started to arrive, my husband and son remindedme about the importance of getting a good nights rest. Myhusband went to bed but my son kept on gently nagging me.Eventually it was time for me to get ready for work, and bythat time I was happy that the poem was more or lesscomplete. I set out for work next morning having not evenattempted to go to bed. But I was still on a wave of creativeenergy, so I had no sensation of tiredness at all. Just a quiet,joyful feeling of wonder to have experienced such inspiration.I did not have any year ten classes on a Monday, so I didnt
think about the poem all day. But after work I printed it out inpreparation for the next day. Back in my classroom it waspeaceful. All the other staff and all the students had gonehome.When I had set out the things for the next day I decided toread through my poem and check the timing. So I read it outloud, as though I was reading it to the class. It took around tenminutes, but I hardly saw the clock.Reading the poem gave me an amazing experience of peaceand being held in Gods Love. It was a classic Numinousexperience and it went on for a long time. I would guessaround half an hour, during which time I had no thoughts atall, no concept of anything except the beauty and preciousnessof that deep encounter. I can only think that God is quitepleased when He sees that we really appreciate Hishandiwork!Later that evening, when I settled down to do somepreparation, I looked at the poem again. (One or two moreimages had come to mind as I was driving the half hour to thefriends house where I stayed during the week, and I wanted tobring them into the poem as well. I think that desert andsnowflakes were among those I wished to add.)As soon as I started to work on the poem again, it caught mewith that same intense creative flow as before. And again Ifound that I worked on it for hours. I am not sure if it was allnight or just most of that night. But again, despite working allthe previous night and having such a long drive that morning,I had no feeling of tiredness, just an intense and joyful flow ofcreative energy.Next day I used the poem with some year ten classes – andduring the week with all of them, including the lower sets whowere inclined to be disaffected and resistant to any kind ofserious work. All the classes were absorbed by the poem. Bythe end of the week I had come to feel that it was a very specialgift to me and I should share it more widely.The problem was that by this time, the initial inspiration hadfaded and my mind had come to the fore. I wanted the poem toexplore the ugly side of life as well as the beautiful. I wanted itto engage with good and evil – since that is also an importantaspect of the GCSE RE syllabus – and an important barrierfor many of our students when it comes to taking the conceptof God seriously. So for the next six months or so I wrestled
with the poem, introducing the jungle and deforestation as asymbol for evil and an opportunity to explore the horrors ofwar etc.I am not fully happy with this revised version but it is the bestI can do and I feel I owe it to the original poem to just get itout and share it with the wider world here. You can use itwith the central section, or miss that out – where the red linesappear – and just use the positive images.Several people who have enjoyed this poem have suggestedthat rather than publish it as a book or poem it should bemade into a short film, with the text read alongside music andimages which the poem is describing. I am ambivalent aboutsuch an idea. When you read or listen to something, your ownmind and imagination come into play. But when a film ismade, all you see is the images that appealed to the director. Iguess for students who have not travelled much and may nothave many colours in their creative imagination paint box,video or film would be best.I would welcome any suggestions and responses you may haveto this poem. I would also like suggestions of music whichcould go with it if I turned it into a slide show or video at sometime in the future.I urge you to read the poem aloud – and if you would like tocontact me through my website I can send a paper copy and/orCD recording of my reading it. (I would have to make a chargefor that, to cover the costs and time required.)If you use this in school or with groups in your work, do sendme some feedback to say what year group/ability or type ofgroup you use it with and how people respond.I found the poem really helpful in stimulating conversationabout their own encounters with nature and what they findamazing – and general philosophical discussion. It alsoenabled students to engage with religious teachings whichthey would otherwise not have been interested in thinkingabout. But of course the whole central section was not there atthat time, so the poem flowed much better. I may upload theoriginal poem at a later date. But for now, I will just uploadthis as it is. I hope you enjoy it.DurgaMata Chaudhuri – May 2011
What amazes you most about our world?What amazes you most about our world?Is it the quiet flame of a candle….? ( ……. A candle-flame symbolises hope, inner light and aspiration.)Or is it the screaming madness of a hurricane? ( …………What would a hurricane symbolise to you?)Is it the peaceful green-gold dappled fragrance of a forest where the only sound Is the singing of birds,….Or a volcano bursting from the deeps, ( ………….Destroyer or Transformer, Lord Shiva’s Cosmic Dance?) 1…..with all the pent up fury of frustrated cosmic demons?Ripping open the earth, exploding in wanton violence, The energy of 1000 Hiroshima bombs in an instant,A mountain, pulverised in seconds, leaving a crater miles wide and deep, Its rock blasted so far up into the atmosphere, so many miles high..…… ….That the dust of it is still softly drifting down, centuries later, on the other side of the world.What amazes you most about our world?Is it the cool, delicate, perfection of beauty… ( …………Where, O Where is God? O, All-Beauty, where are You? 2 In whom or in what do you see perfect beauty?)….found in tiny wild flowers growing in the grass… Celendine, speedwell, stitchwort, pimpernel?You can hold them in your hand; you can give them to a friend.. …..Or is it the ocean, vast, fathomless, boundlessly deep, constantly on the move? ( ……Ocean symbolises Vastness - Lord Vishnu sleeping in the primeval ocean, before time began) 3Looking out sun-warm from the beach, on holiday - The sea is calm, smooth-as-a-postcard, blue-as-the-sky, Smiling, mirror-bright under a friendly summer sun. Little wave-ripples run up the sand and trickle back, singing a gentle whispering song.
Looking out salt-drenched in winter from a bleak wind-swept, storm-trembling shore, The clouds are dark and ominous, ripped apart by lightening, Rain is merged with a bitter, bullet-hard hail of wave-torn spray, The storm-grey steely towers of muscular water, solid as rock, Advance on the land like an invading army.Polished-power, green-black-serpentine mountains, rear up, rising, towering, invincible, Racing forward, upward-curving, Terrifying Tsunamis, envelop everything… Then… Overflowing… Tops topple in manic slow motion…..Hissing foam, then… the whole edifice falling, roaring, and thundering down, Smashing, shattering, shrieking, screaming, … Pure concentrated energy, raw and pitiless,Flinging sheets of angry water up, high, higher, up, up fifty-feet or more…………. To hang….. and tear apart…. and shattering fall…. dashing into an angry untamed Churning, chaos of raging sea.Elemental. Cosmic, like the beginning of time, ( ……… ‘In the beginning the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything, was engulfed in total darkness and the Spirit of God moved over the face of the water….’) 4What amazes you most about our world?Is it finely-stencilled winter-tree-poems, their delicate beauty, Silhouetted black against the flat white winter sky?Or is it the tiny interlocking ice-crystal stars of a snowflake? Soft, white feather-flakes, meandering silently, lazily down through the night …. Transforming the drab grey city into a magical fairyland… pristine, perfect, unpolluted. You wake to gaze at this new world. - a land of hope and endless possibility… run out to dance with the snowflakes…. Hold your breath as you watch them, caught on the dark sleeve of your coat Breathe - and they melt away. - In an instant they have gone.Is it the sun?….. (……The sun symbolises light, heat and power. Without the sun all life would cease. The sun symbolises - the Infinite Light of divinity, the Infinite Light of God. Sun-worship past and present is known worldwide, Inca, Aztec, Druid and Norse The Sun-God is Ra of ancient Egypt, travelling on a barge through the underworld at night. The Sun-God is Apollo of ancient Greece, Sol in Roman and Germanic, Malina of the Inuit, Amaterasu of Japan.the red disc on the Japanese flag symbolises the sacred sun…
Many African peoples use the local word for "Sun" as the name for their Supreme Being. In some parts of Africa the sun is Liza, son of Vodu, the Supreme Spirit of Nature, twin to his sister Mahu, the moon. In Hinduism Surya is the Sun-God. The Gayatri mantra, dedicated to the Sun, is still one of the most sacred of Hindu hymns. In the Roman Empire, a festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun was celebrated just after the winter solstice, when the hours of daylight first began to increase, -- This celebration was adopted and transformed into Christmas – a festival celebrating not the physical sun in the sky but the birth of Jesus, Son of God and Light of the world – which is why we celebrate Christmas in mid-winter.) 5Or is it the sunset…..….Lighting the clouds in pink and gold farewell,… . A symphony of emotion, colours swelling, spreading, Deeper, wider, breathless beauty enveloping the sky, cerise, purple glory, GLORY… Orange, gold, crimson, cyclamen spread across the sky, A crescendo-of-brilliance.Colours TRUMPET………..…… …..Mellow and fade to rose-pink, palest peach and cream…… ………..The high plane-trails still shine silver……….. ( …………….‘Above the toil of my life, my soul is a bird of fire, winging the Infinite………...’) 6My heart still singing with the absent sun, as cloud-colours deepen To mauve-grey-slate and sombre shades of navy blue… The wide sky behind darkens from silver-green to deep electric blue…… The sunset colours retreat beyond the western horizon, leaving only a stain of rosy-russet and smoky-bronze as light leaches away………. and….… Darkness creeps out, overflowing from the shadows, Spreading its wings over the sky from the east….. and ….. Slowly all the colours are swamped in inscrutable, fathomless dark……. and ….. Stars light up, one by one…. As the blue intensifies to pure black-velvet… And fills with endless crystal-constellations……
Have you ever seen the sparkle of starlight glinting, jewel-like on the frosted snow Or seen the stars inverted, reflected clear-as-a-mirror in the still, dark water of a pool?Looking down, the subtle, fragile, dark-bright star-reflection draws you in and turns you around To gaze up at the twinkling stars, mysterious in their vast dark distances…. Space, the Final Frontier…. Lost in Space……….. All thought eclipsed in endless, wordless meditation………. ( ,,,,,,,,,,,, ‘I am the beginning and the middle and the end of all that is… I am death that carries off all things, and I am the source of things to come… I am the silence of hidden mysteries… I am the seed of all things that are; and no being that moves or moves not can ever be without me………(Krishna in the Gita)7 (Who is God? - Prophet Moses asked Him. … ‘I Am that I Am!’ was God’s reply. ‘Yahweh’ in Hebrew, Jehovah or Jah……… ) 8 ( ………..‘Who am I? On the strength of my oneness with God I am everything. Otherwise, I am nothing! ‘ Sri Chinmoy.) 9 ( ………………And Jesus said, ‘The Father and I are One’………….) 10What amazes you most about our world?Is it our own beloved planet, Mother Earth, unique of all celestial spheres, Green of life, blue of water, laced with silver-white swirls of circling cloud, Viewed from space - a beauteous blue-white jewel, sailing silent and majestic On her precise, prescribed, sun-orbit; attended by a quiet silver moon.Blue of the oceans, green of the vegetation, Finite, vulnerable, matchless, infinitely precious…. A wonder beyond all words…... Space-fiction gives shape to great imagination But this lonely fragile planet is the only home we know….Circumnavigate the world in an aeroplane. It doesn’t take so very many hours, See the ‘upside down’ moon from Australia… (But who says who is upside down?….)…. Such a great, amazing world full of life and beauty… …..but so vulnerable, so insignificant, when set against the vastness of the Milky Way ……and even that is only our tiny corner of the universe … The earth is a mystery, Space is a mystery, Life is a mystery, MYSTERY, MYSTERY, MYSTERY, Unknowable and unknown…………Wrap up the world in your arms, Like a little child, in your embrace……… Love and protect this living jewel, Treasure and cherish for aeons to come…….
What amazes you most about our world?Is it the breathless-beauty of blue-white, polar ice-caps – bitter-cold blizzards where temperatures approach the cold of absolute zero, So cold that all movement ceases, and even in the very core of atoms, all vibration ends….Penguins or polar bear patrol their ice-bound kingdoms, shrouded in the midday winter dark, beneath skies filled with shooting stars and shimmering-spectral aurora-dancing-rainbow-curtain light?……Or is it the orange-red solid waves of trackless sand-dune-desertShimmering beneath a relentless burning desert sun? Dissolving into mirage or abruptly eclipsed by choking, swirling sand-storm, Obliterating all trace of those who passed that way before. . (Mohammed’s camel-trains travelled the desert in the cool of the night, lit by the moon and guided by stars…) 11Or is it a wild and barren mountain landscape, a dramatic landscape often wreathed in cloud…. Jagged crags, tumbling water…. A lonely land where eagles wheel and cry?Or is it the gentle temperate regions………… ……….the sun-bright sweep of golden oil-seed-acres, ………..rippling fields of ripening corn,……….the unexpected flash of kingfisher blue beside a gently flowing river …………..where the willow trees lean and dabble their fingertips?Or is it soft and fragrant, fertile rain bedewing your hair, jewelling the emerald grass…..Or is it the rainbows, brilliant bands of intangible colour, Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet Spanning the heavens, a magnificent arch, Symbol of hope, forgiveness and eternal promise, Flung in sudden contrast against the towering, storm-cloud dark …Is it new-born lambs frolicking on the spring-green hillside, Or butterflies dancing over buttercup meadows….. Or lovingly tended gardens where the children play? Gardens of innocence…… gardens of memories……. gardens of the heart…….What amazes you most about our world?Is it the sound of heat-waves, a million tzicadas chirring – As the westering sun sets fire to towering ramparts of tropical-clouds,Or is it the sound of happy human-like hoots from the canopy-village monkeys, Peering down in interest with their intelligent, curious, human-like eyes Swinging away so swiftly through tree-tops, so agile, in their element….
Or is it vivid jungle flowers and the bright-hued hummingbirds darting and flashing, Standing motionless in the air, wings a blur, As they delicately sip nectar from the deeps….Or is it two vivid jungle butterflies, wings of iridescent purple-blue, Wings wide as the palms of your hands, dancing their courtship joys?Or is it a psychedelic tree-frog, peeping from a deeply buttressed, tree-trunk… (Moss-deep, pillar-of-the-forest, broad as a bus and five thousand years old….) ….To snap up a fly that hovers Above a pool of dark rain-water…… >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Or is it a vivid green-gold tree-snake flashing from a hollow, And, smile-stretched-wide around the tree-frog, gliding silently away…..The hummingbirds and butterflies dart away asSwooping, flashing, flocks of vivid parrots scream and squawk between the branches, Mimicking a chain-saw’s harsh aggressive stutter………. The scent of wood-smoke curls and drifts in on the wind. (Sinister sounds, and smells, portents of Armageddon……… Blind, pitiless greed pitted against the Beauty of Ages?)Or is it in the tropical rain, falling like tears on a smouldering wreck of death and destruction? (…….‘Then the Lord said, ‘Why have you done this terrible thing? Your brother’s blood is calling out to me from the ground……..……….) 12 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Rainforests are the lungs and treasure-houses of our planet. Half of our world’s species live there, all endangered, 50,000 species lost – extinct, many never even known to us, exterminated in each year. An area the size of Wales is burned, raised to the ground, each year. Carbon-dioxide from burning forests adds to Global Warming. The loss of the oxygen the rainforests produce, compounds the problem… Our planet’s crowning jewels are being pillaged, despoiled and broken as we speak. Native Peoples facing extinction, 10 million reduced to 200,000 since the European invasion,A million in the last 50 years. Their Wise Elders, Sages and Shaman know the forest’s secret lore, Leaned through living for millennia in harmony with nature, worshipping their ‘Great Spirit’ in every tree and river, each sacred leaf and drop of sacred rain. Is this what we mean when we talk about civilisation and the developed world? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< My poem stops abruptly, mutilated like the forest, My heart is torn apart by the destruction, cut, smashed, burned and broken. I weep for the forest. I weep for the people.
I weep for the future. I weep for the planet. (Kirie Eleison, Kirie Eleison…….Lord, have mercy)13 O tear out your hair and weep… And Jesus wept for Lazarus, And Jesus wept for Jerusalem…. And Jesus was angry in the face of corruption and injustice When greed and selfishness invaded the Temple of God…... Jesus, betrayed and abandoned, falsely accused, beaten, tortured, taunted, humiliated, stripped naked and nailed to a cross made of wood,to hang in the heat of the sun and slowly bleed and suffocate to death in agony…) Kirie Eleison…….Lord, have mercy… they sing…. But how can we sing when we are in tears? How can we celebrate the beauty of our world, in the face of such atrocity, such horror, such abject evil? Evil! Evil! Evil! Deforestation Destruction Pollution Global Warming Greed, Arrogance, Selfishness… Hatred, Cruelty, Spitefulness, The Hollocaust The Man-Made Famine ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ The Twin Towers Torture Massacre Genocide Srebrenitsa Rwanda Darfour War WAR WAR
The biggest industry in the world is the arms trade. The next biggest industry is trade in illegal drugs. Then comes people-trafficking, feeding on the desires of desperate peopleTo find a better future for their families in a world blighted by gross inequality. How Can We Have Peace? when a child dies every three seconds from poverty while in the affluent ‘West’ there is a plague of obesity…. Injustice screams at us from every corner of the world while the well fed, wealthy, powerful people avert their eyes and call anyone who questions or threatens their comfortable, powerful, complacent position a terrorist. (‘Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?’)14 Kirie, Kirie Eleison, Kirie Eleison, O tear out your hair and weep… (Jesus wept when he heard that his friend had died. Jesus was angry in the face of corruption and injustice.) (Jesus, betrayed and abandoned, falsely accused, beaten, tortured, taunted, humiliated, stripped naked and nailed to a cross made of wood, to hang in the heat of the sun and slowly bleed to death in agony…. CRIED OUT IN DESPAIR ‘Father, my Father, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus The Christ, uniquely one with God, Savior or simply a saintly human or Prophet, or one Avatar among other great Incarnations of God?
What ever you think about Jesus, whether you are a Christian or not, you are likely to agree that his life and teachings have made a huge impact on our world. He was indeed betrayed and abandoned, falsely accused, beaten and tortured, spat upon, taunted, stripped naked, and humiliated, nailed to a cross made of wood, lifted up to hang flesh tearing in the heat of the sun and slowly bleed and suffocate to death in bitter agony… and he Prayed to his beloved Father‘FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.’15 And the tropical rain continues to fall like helpless tears on a smoldering wreck of death and destruction that once was a deep, shadowed forest, full of life and beauty, lungs to a suffering earth-planet that all of us call home. The destruction is quite deliberate, like the crucifixion of Jesus, caused by greedy, thoughtless, power-hungry people, a conscious destructive action of selfishness and desire. Supported by nameless multitudes of people too lazy, apathetic, hopeless or ignorant to intervene. Like at the crucifixion of Jesus, the assassination of Oscar Romero, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many, many more. Is this what people mean by ‘Original Sin?’ ……….Lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and by Thy Great Mercy, defend us from all perils and dangers of this night. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, for ever and ever, Amen. 6 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden… And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of knowledge of good and evil…. In the story, Adam and Eve do eat from the tree of knowledge – and so evil enters their world of child-like innocence. Temptation is there and they eat from the tree. God had given them free will, the capacity for selfishness as well as obedience. They chose disobedience in the face of temptation. They were not children any more… ……..And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, … ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake;in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ the story of Adam and Eve addresses many questions. And gave an explanation for many uncomfortable facts about life for those early tribes, forced to scratch out their living from the thorn and stone wilderness on the deserts fringe. Their relationship with God was fraught with difficulties. But not all peoples have such troubled relationships with God. Their environment is kinder, their God more benevolent. The Native American philosophy arose in a world of natural beauty and plenty…. ‘……Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of an angry God….. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our wise ones, and is written in the hearts of our people….’ ……Every part of this Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory of the red man…… ….The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are my brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadows, the body-heat of the pony and man – all belong to the same family…. 19 Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our Mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit on the ground, they spit on themselves… This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself... One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover – our God is the same God. You may think you own Him as you wish to own the land, but you cannot. He is the God of man and His Compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator…23 In the Hindu Trinity, Brahma is Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, Shiva the Transformer, destroying with his Cosmic Dance what must change for new creation to occur. There is only one God in Hinduism, The Brahman, Transcendent, Impersonal, Beyond all our conceptions, Beyond name and gender, Unknowable, Supreme. But since one of the attributes of God is Omnipresence God is everywhere, and can be found in everything and even as everything. So there are infinite ways to approach and know the Brahman and each person has their own way. The ‘330 million deities’ of Hinduism are its way of saying that the infinite deities, infinite ways of knowing the Supreme Absolute. The Hindu name for their religion is Sanatana Dharma – the Eternal Code of life.So many Hindus believe that all religions are just different forms of Sanatana Dharma. The Hindu sage Sri Ramakrishna taught that just as the infinite expanse of ocean can be frozen into the form of an iceberg By the fierceness of cold, so The Brahman takes visible form and approaches us In response to the intensity of our worship and devotion, assuming the form and nature that we ourselves love best. Thus Hinduism teaches that God is the revelation, the light in all religions. It is only the Name and outer form that differs…24 If the relationship with God can vary from one religion or one person to another, but the eternal truths are the same, how does that help us to comprehend the question of evil – and move forward when faced with suffering and destruction? And Jesus said
The kingdom of heaven is within.27 ************************************** Some Christians would say that the concepts of heaven and hell are symbolic These states are mysteries which we experience inwardly as much as in any outer place or form when we leave this world. Other Christians – on the fundamentalist, exclusivist fringe might argue that the Original Sin caused by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden was real. It pollutes all human beings and can be cleansed only by the Blood of the crucified Christ. If you don’t accept Jesus as your Saviour – then you will be judged and condemned to eternal damnation. Heaven and Hell are concrete realities for these Fundamentalists. So their compassion and concern for all the masses who have not accepted Christ as their Lord in the way that they believe to be right compels them to go out into the world and preach their fiery gospel to save endangered souls from the fires of Hell. Others, approaching life through the perspective of a literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the adoption of the rules of Sharia Law formulated a thousand years ago (to bring order in a very different world) believe that their interpretation of Islam is the only way to paradise. So their divine duty is to convert everyone To this particular flavour of Islam.These philosophies, on the extreme fringes of Christianity and Islam, respond to a linear timetable, approaching the question from a perspective of just one life on earth followed by judgement. Then the good go to heaven, the bad go to hell – and that it that, all done and dusted. This is the fringe – not mainstream Christianity or Islam, remember – but a useful perspective to contrast with Eastern philosophy.) The East offers another quite different perspective. I have been born many times Arjuna, and many times hast thou been born But I remember my past lives … But thou hast forgotten thine. Whenever righteousness is week and faints And unrighteousness exults in pride I come into the world in the ages that pass… As A man discards his warn-out clothing… Weapons cannot cleave the soul…26A Hindu might argue that if reincarnation is how the Creator shapes and experiences the Creation, then souls all come into this world to learn. So they are quite naturally ignorant If they didn’t need to learn then they would not be here on earth. – So you can expect the people around you to do stupid, selfish, greedy, desire-motivated things.
Evil is the natural product of ignorance. And we are all ignorant – or we would not have been born on earth. If the karmic law of cause and effect rewards good actions and brings suffering to those who choose to follow undivine ways, then heaven and hell can be seen as an aspect of the natural consequences of our actions here on earth. And for anyone who chose to do evil and refused to change their suffering would be suffering without end. But this is not eternal damnation. Because As soon as such a soul cried out with Sorrow and Repentance, ready To renounce that evil action, aspiring for a different and more self-giving life, then God’s Grace would embrace that soul with forgiveness and compassion and that soul would begin to take the steps along a different road, towards a different, more fulfilling destination. Heaven, not hell would appear on their horizons.The ultimate goal for Hinduism is God Realisation, which is also Self Realisation as this philosophy has at its core not the original sin of a ‘fallen humanity’ but the innate divinity of a people, created not just by God or in His image but created ‘of God’ an elemental part of God’s own Being. Can the Eastern concept of reincarnation and the Middle-Eastern concept of Heaven and Hell Really be reconciled in this way? It is an individual decision. But if evil really is the result of ‘natural’ ignorance it should not surprise us to see evil in the world. So instead of railing against evil, tearing out our hair and weeping with pain and despair, we can use our awakened awareness to do something about it. And we can choose to celebrate the many signs of wisdom and goodness, the many acts of loving-kindness, unselfishness, beauty, and truth that we encounter each day. We can rejoice at all that is good rather than tear out our hair and weep with despair over evil. Most religions speak of life as a school, an opportunity, a test and a challenge to face the undivine and not add to it, To transform our own nature and to work together for the transformation of the world, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, evil to goodness, suffering to joy, hell to heaven, To establish the Kingdom of Heaven - finding God within actions of Love, Compassion and Grace in our struggling, suffering world. Can this give us a way of continuing, even when faced by abject destruction and evil? In the heat of battle in the nightmare horrors of trench warfare In the dark days of the First World War, the poet
Sigfried Sassoon had an amazing experience Which he records in a poem - EVERYONE suddenly burst out singing; And I was filled with such delight As prisoned birds must find in freedom, Winging wildly across the whiteOrchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted; And beauty came like the setting sun: My heart was shaken with tears; and horror Drifted away ... O, but Everyone Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.28 And Francis of Assissi, a Christian poet wrote: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon Where there is doubt, faith, Where there is despair, hope, Where there is darkness, light, Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, not so much to be understood as to understand, not so much to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we awake to eternal life. Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love…30 and Black Elk, a Native American poet wrote: The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realise their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realise that at the centre of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this centre is really
everywhere, it is within each of us’ 34 and a Muslim poet wrote: I asked Allah to take away my habit. Allah said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up. I asked Allah to make my handicapped child whole. Allah said, No. His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary I asked Allah to grant me patience. Allah said, No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isnt granted, it is learned. I asked Allah to give me happiness. Allah said, No. I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you. I asked Allah to spare me pain. Allah said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me. I asked Allah to make my spirit grow. Allah said, No. You must grow on your own! , but I will prune you to make you fruitful. I asked Allah for all things that I might enjoy life. Allah said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things. I ask Allah to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me. And Allah said... Ahhhh, finally you have the idea. And somewhere I read that: Goodness demands courage and is often unpopular especially in our materialistic world today.But we are not expected to be perfect, to succeed all the time,just to keep on trying to live by principles of righteousness - goodness and compassion not meanness and cruelty,
- discipline not indulgence, - purity and truth, Life is fragile and fleeting. It is up to us how we use it.38 Mother Teresa, a Christian saint of our time wrote: People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. 32 And June Jordan, an African-American freedom champion poet wrote: When they torture your mother Plant a tree When they torture your brother and your sister Plant a tree When they assassinate your leaders and lovers Plant a tree When they torture you too bad to talk Plant a tree. When they begin to torture the trees and cut down the forest they have made, Start another. 33
And the Indian poet Sri Chinmoy wrote: Do not try to change the world, that is Gods Task. Try to change yourself. That is your God-ordained task.34 And when the battle was over, Mohammedpbuh said: Now lets get back to the Great Jihad which is the struggle to transform our own undivine nature. ***************** - Start your own collection of poems and writings that inspire you today. - **************************** There are no simple answers to the questions which evil and suffering evoke, But we live in an imperfect world and we ourselves are imperfect people - so it is something we need to think about. You cant have sunshine without shadows andif God gave us free will, which is part of love, then we will make mistakes sometimes. The experience and reality of suffering and evil certainly wakes us up, opens our eyes and faces us with more questions. How to respond? It is our choice. This question will stay with us all our lives. Do we turn our back on suffering and pursue our own quest for comfort and power or take action to change suffering into happiness – even in the smallest way. Life is a game, life is a drama, life is a battlefield, life is a journey, life is a school, life is a test, life is a quest…. What is your own philosophy on life? What is your own response? We have to choose, we have no choice in that. The choice is in every action. Each choice results in a movement – forwards or backwards, upwards or down, towards goodness or evil, creating oneness or discord, motivated by aspiration or desire. We have to take sides in this great battlefield of life. Goodness is harder to follow than evil. It is harder to climb than to slide down, harder to build than destroy.The standard of our world is not very advanced. The majority are not aware. They seek outer power, outer wealth, name and fame. But if you are spiritually awakethen that kind of desire life will loose its allure. You will start listening to the beat of a different drum, and choosing the path less trodden. upwards,
towards the heights, towards the stars, towards the Vast Silence. (Ibsen) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Everyone suddenly burst out singing And the world was filled with such delight….28 ………Transformation - the ‘Guru’ who can transform life from the darkness of ignorance to light divine…. And what was the beauty of Heaven like, O Nanak, as God gave you the gilded Cup of His Name and commanded you to drink?... ‘There is no Hindu, There is no Muslim. There is only God and the Glory of His Name…’ 42 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<What amazes you most about our world?Is it transformation? A flashing blade of low Autumnnal sunshine suddenly piercing dark storm-clouds, It catches you in its spotlight – you catch your breath in wonder,As in an instant rain-drenched gloom transforms To diamond-studded magical vistas, gilded with honey-bright gold. Or is it the cloudscape-fairyland you gaze at as you soar through in flight, A cityscape of magical blue-white sculpture, that only the angels frequent? Is it the finality of Death or the wondrousness of new life?Have you ever witnessed new life come into the world – It really is amazing! Seen kittens or puppies born?Have you ever watched a flower open? Seen, tiny hair-fine seedlings turn dark earth overnight to misty green?Have you ever watched a chick hatch from an egg, now there’s a wonder? ………The egg of Easter is an ancient symbol of new life, the rebirth of spring. It was adopted by Christians as a perfect symbol for resurrection
- the triumph of good over evil; Life’s victory over death; absolute forgiveness of unspeakable atrocity; new life, new hope and new beginning.)Kittens, puppies, chicks and ducklings, which are your favourite animals and birds? Regal, lion roaring over his dominion, Majestic Bengal tiger prowling the sun-striped sundebans, The stag of the ancient Cave Paintings or dolphin of today? Elephant or eagle, swan or songbird, sacred cow or sacrificial lamb? ……….‘O Holy Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us.’25And what about the children with fathomless eyes, wide with wonder and curiosity? It is said that eyes are the windows of the soul. It is said that you can see God in the eyes of a child, it is said… Have you ever looked soul-deeply into a mirror? Have you ever given your soul a heart-deep smile?If you don’t seek for truth within yourself, where do you hope to find it? ……….And the second most important commandment…. Love your neighbour as yourself ………… As yourself As you love yourself ….. love yourself… see your neighbour as yourself… we are all one person…. One Person…… God is in all….. My Father and I are one. All is God…. Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbour. Find God everywhere. Realise God Realise Yourself. 43If God is in all, does ‘Where is God?’ read also, ‘Where is God not?
And if God’s in all, in all things, is God in you too?’ And in me. Have you ever looked soul-deeply in a mirror? Have you ever given your soul a heart-deep smile? Have I ever done that? Deeply, soulfully? The time is Now.What amazes you most about our world?Have you ever held a tiny newborn baby - A tiny, perfect person with tiny perfect fingers curled around your own? New life and new beginning… …Every verse begins with the Bismillah ‘In the name of God, The Merciful, the Compassionate’ …44 …. Is not the Mother and Child, seen in icons of the Madonna, a most perfect symbol for Divine Compassion and Unconditional Love?.............45What is most wondrous, most amazing, most beloved to you in our world? Is it love itself and your own dear friends and family….. Music, tears and laughter? What about your own self, so familiar and yet so little known… . . . . . . . There is a mystery that science can’t even dream of. . . . . . . ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’… 46 Can we, evolved from mud-worms, expect to comprehend it all?. . . . . . . .Have you ever gazed wide-eyed at the world, like a little child, Heart shaken with wonder and delight, ….‘Blessed are the children. The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these…’47Have you ever gazed wide-eyed at the world, like a little child, Heart full of silent prayer-songs, unspoken, tearing emotions far beyond words…. Heart shaken with tears… encompassing the height and depths of everything… Joy and hope, terror and bereavement, Awe and amazement, gratitude and love? Gratitude and love…….What amazes you most about our world?What about life! …’Life is God’s Blessing to His Creation…. Life is will…. The descending cry of concern and compassion,
The ascending cry of love and helplessness…. Life is man’s experience of wisdom and faith…. Life is man’s conscious attempt to see God face to Face………..48………………What about love …………. ’God is Love’ so said the Christ……. )49 (Loving Kindness.’ ‘ The Jewel in the Lotus of Buddhism The secret is within…., 50 Is not Nirvana’s infinite peace and bliss a perfect image for the transcendent God? 51………………………….What about God! ………If thou thinkest, O my Lord, that it can be seen by me, show me, O God of Yoga, the glory of thine own Supreme being…….52 And when Sri Krishna appeared in His Cosmic Form, to his beloved disciple Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra … ………..‘If the light of a thousand suns suddenly arose in the sky, that splendour might be compared to the radiance of the Supreme Spirit’…… .53…….. in the flame of a candle,………….. in the wonders of nature,………………….. in the eyes of a child,…………… in all of life and love and beauty…..……………In you, yes you!……. We indeed created man; and we know the promptings of his soul. we are nearer to him than his jugular vein.’54 Know Thyself?’ ‘Liberation?’ ‘Salvation?’ ‘ ‘Be thou perfect, even as the Father is perfect.’ ‘Nirvana,’ Discover your own ‘Buddhahood,’ ‘ God-Realisation?’ Self-Realisation?’……..and in me, too? Since I knew God as he is, and was in union with him, he appeared to abandon me – but even if he were to torment me with the fires of hell for ever and beyond I should not bow down to any other being but him. My proclamation of faith is the same as the proclamation of all who are sincere. In the love of God I am triumphant. How could it be otherwise?55
Breathe in me, O Holy spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guide me then, O holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.56 The Absolute No mind, no form, I only exist; Now ceased all will and thought; The final end of Natures dance, I am it whom I have sought. A realm of Bliss bare, ultimate; Beyond both knower and known; A rest immense I enjoy at last; I face the One alone. I have crossed the secret ways of life, I have become the Goal. The Truth immutable is revealed; I am the way, the God Soul. My spirit aware of all the heights, I am mute in the core of the Sun. I barter nothing with time and deeds; My cosmic play is done. By Sri Chinmoy57 ……Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted and beauty came like the setting sun. My heart was shaken with tears - and horror Drifted away ... O, but Everyone Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done)28The singing will never be done.………………The singing will never be done. D.C. RE Department, H High School – Summer 2007 See website www.bluelotus.co Contact Blue Lotus Enterprises – info@Bluelotus.co