May 31, 2008

The 13th apostle

I was in church with my parents yesterday. Every Saturday i take them to church. The priest that was celebrating mass was a very old priest, maybe in his late 70s. He was quoting Jesus - "not every one that calls me Lord, Lord will go to heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven'. According to the priest, not all who pray to Jesus will go to heaven. He was using the "word of God" many times in his sermon. He says we should spend 15 minutes a day of the "word of God" every day. Surely we can do that he said. My mind wondered away....Is the bible the word of God? How could this old experienced priest, still believe that the bible is the word of God? The bible has contradictions, it leaves many is sometimes ambiguous. My mind wondered to the book i just finished reading - 'The Thirteenth Apostle' by Michel Benoit.

The book makes an interesting observation on the death of Judas- the bible says Judas went out and hanged himself - matthew 27:5. The bible also says Judas fell headlong and he burst assunder in the midst and all his bowels gushed out' - Acts 1:18. Firstly how are there two versions as to how Judas died? Secondly, I have not heard of a man's bowels being gushed out when he is hanged. Thirdly i have not heard of a man's bowels coming out if he had fallen headlong. In the language lawyers- the story is inherently improbable. For his bowels to be gushed out, it is more probable that he had been murdered maybe by someone stabbing a knife into his belly and disemboweling him. Who did this? Read the 13th apostle.

What if there was a 13th apostle? What if he wrote the original gospel which is today known as the Gospel according to John. What if his name was not John? What if he was the 'beloved disciple' mentioned in John. Christians believe that John was the beloved disciple mentioned in the Gospel of John. What if it was not the apostle John who wrote it but a 13th apostle? What if the 13th apostle, frustrated that the other gospels of his day did not truly tell the truth about Jesus wrote his gospel (today known as the Gospel of John)? What if the early church unhappy with this new gospel, altered it to the gospel known as the Gospel of John today? What if this 13th apostle being frustrated that his gospel had been altered, wrote another epistle which was hidden/suppressed for ages until discovered recently in the 20th century at Qumran together with the dead sea scrolls? What if it says that Jesus was not God?. That the 12 apostles and saint Paul, driven by political ambitions deified him? What if the newly found epistle says that the Essenes, a sect to which Jesus belonged, stole his body to give it a proper burial? That Jesus' bones now lies in a tomb in the desert sands between Jerusalem and the Red Sea? What if the Church will do ANYTHING to keep this 13th apostle's epistle from the masses- if not it would mean it's end? What if the Church's only truth was it's need to establish and maintain power, that it would not tolerate any truth but its own? Dreaming? Or an attack of paranoia? That would mean that the Koran was correct- that Jesus was a prophet of God.

Quesiton - Would it make a difference if Jesus was not God? That he was just a prophet? That he did not ressurect from the dead? It would not make much difference to me. We would still have the person of Jesus, his gestures, his words- which are exceptional. Jesus had this vision of inner Awakening, which all great spiritual masters possess. This vision enabled him to see Nathan-ael under the fig tree, eventhough this was outside his immediate field of vision. Jesus taught that everything can be known only from within. Abstract knowledge is merely a rind. You need to get pass it to reach the heart, the sapwood of real knowledge. This is true of minerals, plants, living beings. It is also true of the gospels. Truth was not contained in any text however sacred it may be. It lay beyond words printed on paper, words uttered by human mouths. It lay in the heart of silence. The ancients called it inner knowledge- 'gnosis'. Buddha knew about it. The sufis knew about it. Prophet Muhammad knew about it.

So even if the elderly priest is wrong, even if the Church is wrong, the ignorant priests and the Church are a necessary evil. The continued abuse of power and deception of the Church must not lead us to forget that it is a repository of treasure- the person of Jesus. And without the church, we would never have known Jesus. Whether or not Jesus is God, whether or not he resurrected from the dead, whether or not he died for the sins of the world, whether or not his bones lie somewhere in the desert in the middle east, it don't matter to me. Jesus enlightened the world with his wisdom. The world is a richer place because of Jesus. I think it is a good idea to read the words of Jesus for 15 minutes a day as suggested by the elderly priest. We can only be wiser, better people when the words or spirit of Jesus reach our hearts daily. As Jesus said -
It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing.
The words that i speak to you are Spirit and they are life - john

One may ask "how do you know jesus said that?" Do you think one always needs to know facts in order to be acquainted with realities? In spiritual matters, everything can only be known from within. My answer is because my heart is in harmony with it. It strikes a chord within me.

May 30, 2008

Because Of Love

I was on my way to court today. It is court vacation but the court i was going to was not on vacation. It had a hardworking Judge. 2 months ago, she entered a million ringgit judgment against my client and also struck out my client's multi million counter claim - all because i was 20 minutes late in attending her court (I was in another court). The case was filed 7 years ago. So my client cannot refile his action as the limitation period had set in. In short - I was now having every lawyer's worst nightmare - client's action being time barred after it is struck off for non attendance of lawyer or a default judgement entered against client when lawyer is absent. I was having both the nightmares. My client was too happy about it and i did not know what to say to him. We are talking millions here, so i was stupefied and lost for words. All i could do was say that i would do my best to get him out of the mess. To make matters worse, he told me, " life depends on you". I could do without the pressure.
So today, 2 months later, i was in my car on my way to the Judge's court for the hearing of my client's application to set aside the default judgement against him and to reinstate my client's counter claim. I had to succeed if my client was to have 'his life' back. The tension was unbearable. I was already thinking of the appeal as i was not too confident of my chances before this particular Judge. To take my mind off the pressure, i switched on the player. Country singer Kenny Chesney was singing

"Anythin is possible..everythin i wanna be, any dream i wanna dream..i can -
because of your love. Anywhere i ever go, with all my heart i know, i am man i
am because of your love..."

I felt love. And i thought:-

Could it be that succesful people are successful because they have that really special someone who loves them? Maybe to be succesful one has to have that really somebody special - THE ONE AND ONLY- to love him or her. And maybe the not so succesful people have someone or many someones to love them but they are unmotivated or indifferent because they don't have that love which only that special someone can give?

Or could it be the love from GOD, if one is religious?

As i was thinking i had reached the court house. I had no appetite so i skipped breakfast at the court canteen and went straight up to the court room. My case was listed no. 3 on the court list. I was 30 minutes early this time. I see my opposing counsel at 9.10 am. The last time it seemed he was going to oppose my application as i was informed an affidavit in opposition was going to be filed against my application. Today he said he was not going to oppose my application. I asked him why the change of heart. He said lawyers should help each other out. At that moment i felt love again. I could smell the victory. You are always on a high when you feel love. You know love will always win the day. We entered the Judge's chambers. My application was allowed. The judgement against my client was set aside and his counter claim reinstated. It was all over in 5 minutes.

Moral of the story - When under pressure, when the world seems unkind and cruel, when things are not going your way, when life sucks and absurdly unfair - listen to a country love song, be philosophical about love, think love thoughts.

Lawyers are not that bad. Judges are not that bad.

Love can make the dream come true.

May 28, 2008

Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull

Watched this movie with my brother the other day at the new Bukit Tinggi Cinema in Klang. I don't see him for months and when i do see him, we go watch a movie. And we have a great time. He was very excited because we managed to get tickets to the show. I was philosophical - it was fated that we got the tickets. My brother thought we were very lucky as it was the day after the premier. When we got into the cinema, we were not amused because the screen was horribly close to us and had the potential of giving us stiff necks. Lesson learned from this event - When you look at the computer screen at the counter to choose your seats, don't assume that the distance from the screen to the seat is to your liking, even though the distance seems reasonably far enough. Don't assume that what the ticket lady says is correct. Only settle for the last three rows in the cinema.
I told my brother i was not going to watch the movie on such seats. So we got out of the cinema and headed for the car. My brother to my surprise, decided to boldly take a chance with the manager. He argued that we were misrepresented by the computer screen and by the ticket lady at the counter. Fate and the gods were still on our side? - we got two seats at the second last row for the next show which was an hour later, despite there being a long queue, and the computer screen showing that seats were quickly being sold out. It was all very tense, very suspenseful looking at the screen (the seats in the last three rows turning from light blue (unsold) to dark blue (sold) very quickly) while at the same time trying to convince the manager to give us seats for the next show. Time was of the essence but like they say, luck favors the bold and we got our two seats - the last two seats available in the last three rows.
All said and done, this last installment was a let down for me. I enjoyed the last three but not this one. Some ingredients were missing.... But when it comes to quotations, i think crystal skull beats the rest. Indiana Jones says somewhere at the end of the movie -

"Their treasure wasn't gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their

Very philosophical...from the world of the buddha, swamis and sufis.
The message i got was - Its not the skull that matters. Its what's in it.
Steven Spielberg is a great director and producer of movies. I have watched all his movies. What makes him a great director and producer? The words of swami Vivekananda comes to mind -

"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life -
think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is the way great spiritual giants are produced"

...and i may add, great movie makers too.
And in the words of Spielberg himself:-
" I dream a living"
"You know, I don't really do that much of looking inside me when I'm working on a project. Whatever i am becomes what that film is. But I change: you change"
Maybe that is why i feel there are some missing ingredients in the latest movie - Spielberg has changed and i have changed.

May 27, 2008

The Way of the Sufi

Someone asked Sufi Shibli who it was that had been his first guide on the path. "A dog" he replied. "I saw him standing by the water's edge, dying of thirst. Everytime he approached the water to drink, he was frightened by his own reflection. Thinking it was another dog, he retreated. In the end however, he was so thirsty he jumped into the water. When he did, the 'other dog' disappeared. The dog's 'other self' which had been an obstacle between the dog and what he sought was no longer a barrier in his path. Likewise when i realised that it was the thought of "ME" that was an obstacle in my path, it disappeared. That was how the path was first opened for a dog' - Idries Shah, the Way of the Sufi.

May 26, 2008

The dream of Joseph

This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she was conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because he will save his people from their sins' - Matthew 1:18-21
After this Joseph did marry Mary.
What does it mean "while he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.."?
We are not told about the name of the angel or the form of the angel. Not much details about the angel but it is clear from the passage that a messenger from above did come to Joseph.
How many of us would marry a girl who was carrying someone else's child? What if an angel appeared to us in a dream and said "Go ahead marry her. The Holy Spirit was the one who impregnated her" How many would marry such a girl on the basis of such a dream? Joseph must have been a simple minded and simple hearted man with great faith in dreams and stuff of fairy tales.
Or is there a hidden message in the passage? Does it mean that if we are simple hearted and simple minded like Joseph, when we think or meditate about the 'how to do something good' [Joseph was thinking about how to break up with Mary without disgracing her) long enough, hard enough or deep enough, 'angels' or 'messengers' or 'signs' will appear in our dreams while we sleep or while we are day dreaming to give us answers or solutions to our dilemma?