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The desert dweller was brought before the Great Panjandrum of Chaldea for blasphemy. The Holy One said, “The charge says, ‘You founded a new religion simply by living among the sand dunes. How can that be possible?’ ” The accused shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘ life in the extremes where death is around the corner, Great God made me dig deeper in my soul to seek him. ’

GP insisted: “ But your god dosesn’t fit with god we worship?”

‘I would not know that, your Holiness. Certainly the God that my depths showed is still clearly etched in my mind.’

The new religion slowly found its way into the cities of the plains and possessed half the riches of the world. It also had made men giddy with their wealth and worldly goods. Years later the founder now as Grand Lama of Levant had the duty to examine one who was guilty of excessive pleasure and drunkeness. What is more he denied all religions as false except Pleasure.

‘How can you call it a religion?’

The Sybarite said, “ I am surrounded by so much of pleasure and I am loath to ignore it since God has given me a body.”

The Grand Lama winced inwardly. He let him go unpunished. The Grand Council of clerics said, “ How merciful is our Grand Lama! ”

The Venerable Lama knew the truth. His experience with the world made him sell his Truth just as the pleasure seeker could not resist the truth the world held out. Truth that he held up as dogma morphed into something altogether different!

Laws of nature dictate how matter would behave under different conditions. Material nature of body takes its cues from its context as easily as soul of one takes its cues from its unseen world.

Duality of body and the soul hold Truth. How one reconciles both defines his character.

Never shall the body and soul settle the matter by itself since life force is what each individual supplies. It has to look to the world without. Given changed circumstances this force makes the unstable relationship define itself. Body given its appetites can only get the upper hand at the expense of the other. Then a man easily given to his weaknesses shows in time certain coarseness in character. From truth to false is but a step away; a man may not be aware of such slight deviations and when given time his character developes into something else. Where we once considered thrift and moderation as a virtue in the consumer society is frowned upon as old fashioned. You and I contributed to it didn’t we?

Such exchange works both ways.

ii

If one cancer cell is let it can affect the entire body. Similarly a little yeast leavens the entire dough. For instance one without any solid proof declares from the pulpit so and so committed blasphemy we see the whole assembly thrown into an uproar. We saw it happen when Jesus was brought before Pilate. The rabble was out to crucify him not because they had clear proof but by hearsay. They were ready to do the hatchet job for their elders. One man’s lie triggered an avalanche.

There are two basic elements to an avalanche: a steep, snow-covered slope and a trigger that causes a weak layer within the snow pack to collapse. Rabble is like the weak layer. The shape of the ice crystals of snowflakes within a snow pack is also a critical factor. How well the crystals bond together determines how strong a snow layer is and therefore how stable the snow pack is. When Truth is not bonded properly an avalanche is set off.

It is essential every individual hold his truth as inalienable. When it is joined with others it is conditional only for the betterment of all and not for this and that person. We have seen religions falling into error: where it is mob rule Truth is dragged through mud. Religion of peace is made out in effect as religion of hate.

benny

 

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Why should man be afraid of an idea? He is given to abstract thinking and Truth is an idea and he conceived it. But try sell it to another. Man who hears Truth from you shall have his own wordbook of experience to make it clear unto him. He who has lived through dog-eat-dog and survived by all his wiles at his disposal has a meaning to it. If you tell him ‘Love they neighbour as thyself’ watch out if he does spit on your face. Truth means many things to all men.

Even so truth is such common thread on which every great or small animate or inanimate matter, simple or compound is strung upon. Laws of nature gives its validity and it has you involved. You may give it names, deny it, wave it as a standard and still how you live it is a matter only you can do. It is your responsibility.

Let us see how truth makes its way among wise men. I shall cite the names of two wise men whose credentials need no further proof than their names. It was rather the bad luck that Gottfried Wilhem Liebniz lived in the time of Voltaire. In 1710 the German polymath in a work concluded the earth was best of all possible worlds. As a philosopher he was grappling with the problem of evil. Was he a woolly-headed thinker to discount what was happening about him and escape into a virtual reality? No he had sterling credentials as a mathematician to be clear cut in his thinking. In explaining away his ideas on Theodicy he stated that God was good in his power and wisdom. In short He proceeded using God as the Cause. Voltaire on the other hand also had thought on this and for him the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was a shock. In this natural calamity some 60,000 to 100,000 perished, evil and innocents alike. Unlike Liebniz he reviewed his concept of God from the Effect.

I respect life that is in me to understand this intimate article of Truth. What is it? In coming to grips with my world and live it inasmuch possible I need have a good grasp of it. It is too precious to leave with Liebniz or Voltaire however great they are in world’s estimation.

Perhaps some theologians by consensus have drawn up dogma and the Pope sets his seal as gospel truth. My truth is too precious for others to determine. As a Christian when I stand before God, I cannot use any other for my failure to live by truth.

Truth is such when a clutch of men sit together and give us an idea as truth we need understand that there is a great gap in the Idea and the thing they sell to us. Earlier the Church of Rome sold the faithfuls as to Papal Infallibility(2.). Now the idea has been let by the wayside. Truth as an idea and as dogma is as different as a mule and a thoroughbred.

How did the Papal idea of Truth turned out in practice? It became a ruse to assert his spiritual authority. Truth as we know is as noble as a noble steed excellent in speed and in form. But what comes out after many sittings and compromises is an animal mangy and as headstrong as a mule. So much for papal infallibility as truth. His Holiness himself must account before his Maker. So Truth is my problem and only way I can cure it is to live it as best as possible. (to be concluded)

2.

In 1075 Pope Gregory VII in his Dictatus Papae (The Pope’s Memorandum) put it more bluntly. He set out 27 propositions about the powers of the office of Bishop of Rome. These included the statement that the papacy “never will err to all eternity according to the testimony of Holy Scripture”.

The word infallibility, however, was not used. It was believed that only God was infallible and it was acknowledged that various popes down the ages had brought disgrace on the office by their behaviour and judgements. Having been dethroned as ruler of the Papal States by the movement for Italian Reunification that finally triumphed in 1870, Pope Pius IX called the First Vatican Council where he was determined to buttress his own spiritual authority. Though many cardinals believed it dangerous to try to define quite how and when the Pope might speak infallibly, a compromise agreement was finally reached.

It stated that Pope “when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when exercising the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians” is “possessed of infallibility” when “he defines… a doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised to him by St Peter“.

Once the Pope has spoken, the First Vatican Council agreed, his definitions “are irreformable of themselves”.

Voting on this form of words took place during a thunderstorm. A majority gave their assent but God, some said, was angry.

Routine papal teaching is not therefore infallible and it was not until 1950 that a pope exercised his “infallible magisterium” to declare that the Virgin Mary had been assumed body and soul into heaven. The belief is however unsupported in scripture. (ack:bbc.co.uk/religions)

benny

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Only consistent thing about our world is that it changes. What are the fads we all sported and now are discarded for something of the moment? Pokemon Go! seems to have taken the world by storm as Elvis Presley hair cut and drainpipes were the thing in my youth. Fads in their very sillines carry some profound truth. The world changes and along with it man also changes.

If everything were to keep changing, how do we keep our balance? There is no up or down in space but still we take a bearing on celestial objects these are also not keeping still. Yet in our context these give us a bearing as ancient mariners relied on pole star during their voyages(1). We are on a planet that is revolving on the sun that itself is revolving through the Milky Way. But on the earth what is certain is the gravity that works. What does it tell us? If you throw a ball up, it shall sure come down. Such is the truth for which we kill and defend with tooth and nail.

We say God is Truth. But how well we understand or follow it?

God with his mighty arm delivered the Israelites from Egypt. He called Moses and Aaron his brother and elders before him. With such up and close encounter with God we may assume that he has had greater understanding of Truth than others. Yet within a space of 40 days Aaron was guilty of making a golden calf for the tumultuous crowd who wanted a god to lead them. When man is not fully engaged his heart and soul, the first casuality is truth. Aaron simply wanted to give the people what they wanted. He heard God but he heard it through the grapevine of populism, I suspect.

When I see the mob howling, ‘blasphemy’ on some perceived slight to the Quran, I know the feeling. The man lost his horse and he could not go anywhere because the whole household was arguing over the ways the noble steed could have bolted. After rewriting the Prophet, in scholarly ways of course, the theologians (they have several schools all well funded too,) have made him look a liar and his ideas dragged through mud and have made the world a slaughterhouse. O Truth! How Compassionate! How Beneficent! How Merciful!

Notes:1.

1.By the dawn of the sixteenth century, the ancient art of navigation had begun to develop rapidly in response to oceanic explorers who needed to find their positions without landmarks, to determine the locations of their discoveries, and to establish routes between the new-found lands and home. Although the relationship of certain heavenly bodies to time of day and terrestrial directions had been known since ancient times, the first two decades of the sixteenth century saw the rigorous application of astronomy and mathematics to navigation. The new learning met the New World. Before longitude was invented  sixteenth-century navigators relied on dead reckoning. Beginning at a known or assumed position, the navigator measured, as best he could, the heading and speed of the ship, the speeds of the ocean currents and the leeward (downwind) drift of the ship, and the time spent on each heading. From this information he could compute the course he had made and the distance he had covered. Dead reckoning, through educated guesswork, is often very accurate.(ack: nps.gov)

benny

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ii

A politician who works with his times and has a certain vision is already on the rise; but necessarily he depends on his public to be relevant. Think of Hitler whose rise to power was phenomenal. Circumstances of his times made a pathway in the chaotic Weimar Republic where defeatism was as rampant as the reds scare of a Bolshevik take over. It is impossible to imagine the Austrian corporal could have got anywhere were it not for the general belief that the war was lost because of some conspiracy of International Jewry. Every German who subscribed to this canard made Hitler his man of the hour. From this to ‘the final solution’ by which some 6 million Jews perished by the state policy of Third Reich we see what compromise can do to the ruler and the ruled  . Here we see prejudice of Germans was very much in evidence as ambition at its worst. Banality of evil the man on the street supplied to the street corner agitator like Hitler who had seen the war and suffered as a result, a platform to air his ideas. Once his command over the nation was complete the mass murder of Jews was simple progress from A to B. Such are the stuff of leaders of men that they make use of lies that are convenient truths for them in their rise to power.

An artist communicates but his relevance can only be banked on truth. Thus with every artist who has endured across centuries.

An artist worth his salt has no use for pleasing public opinion. Paul Gaugin had a family and a successful stock-brokering career but when the muse of art called him he left all to be painter. His contemporary Van Gogh in his brief and tragic life sold but one painting. But when we see a starry night do we not see through his eyes? This is the highest accolade an artist can merit for which his life is but a means to convey some inner truth. Life imitates art as Oscar Wilde quipped. Similarly we all have been acquainted with Turner on watching a sunset; or with the lush English landscape we acknowledge how much we owe Constable for the delectable realization that he is a kindred spirit after all. Death and ravages of time are past any man’s power but in a painting of Raphael or sunflower series of Van Gogh we affirm the artist’s commitment to be true to his inner vision. In a manner of speaking our ordinary lives transcend at least for an hour or two, to a sublime level.

Take the truth peddled by prophets. Has it ever made man any more enlightened any time any place that he set Truth its parameters? In teaching truth to masses, has its visible effects. Tolerance, love, compassion become in its votaries commonplace. How come the world is in turmoil and lives of men trivialized? Truth is not at fault but those who bow and scrape before Man with the Message and do much less than what was taught. These disciples merely threw wool over all and added their own and passed Truth for real! How much more can any one be misguided than a man is given power to issue ‘fatwa’ over but not register what is true for all to be benefited from it? This damns both the inflictor and inflicted at the same time. This is vanity of human mind. On the other hand an artist can empower his viewer with visions of bliss and make his view of things never the same. At what cost have artists their lives among fools and evil men bequeathed to us. Is art relevant? Of course it is without which, homo sapiens do not deserve the label sapiens .

The End

 

 

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Is Art Relevant to Us?-2

 

As a social animal man communicates with others; being endowed with a larger brain mass and given to abstract thinking he has several means at his disposal to communicate with others. Art is one such.

A shop assistant who decorates the window in order to catch the eye of the passerby relies on some intrinsic urge from within so he succeeds in his objective is as much as an artist as a housewife who decorates the home in order to speak for the people that live within. In their art there is something as natural and self-conscious attempt to communicate with others. Their naturalness springs from the manner they set out to achieve rheir objectives; even so it is an indirect social statement of the technology and social status. What makes then an artist special?

 

An artist is an individual given to express pictorially and has command over the language as much as a lawyer has command over the laws of the land and can employ them to make a case for his client to purpose. Language is such words used carries meaning and these are at deeper level rooted in culture and social history of the particular milieu that a viewer can identify with. Words also change meaning since these are dependent on the end user. How artists in the medieval times treated sacred subjects are not same as how modern artists would see symbolic value in the objects themselves.

Peter Paul Rubens made a triptych in which the central piece is deposition of Christ from the cross. This painting was made (1612-14) for the Guild of Arquebusiers, who wanted their patron Saint Christopher (meaning: carrier of Christ) portrayed. If Rubens had complied with this wish, he would have had to explain himself to the authorities, because the strict Contra-Reformation’s principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Instead, Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels. (artbible.info)

Compare this with Salvador Dalí’s Corpus Hypercubus(1954). Influences of his times and his personal attitude to Catholicism can be found in it. His interest grew from the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of World War II which left a lasting impression on him. In his 1951 essay “Mystical Manifesto”, he introduced an art theory he called “nuclear mysticism” that combined Dalí’s interests in Catholicism, mathematics, science, and Catalan culture in an effort to reestablish Classical values and techniques(wikipedia- Corpus Hypercubus). An artist can only do so much as a child of his times despite the many tantrums he may throw in order to draw attention to himself.

Merely a shock value does not give art its relevance other than making the thinking person come to terms that there are more than many ways of looking at things. Many paintings that shocked the public in their time have become accepted as part of our cultural heritage. This is no different than the infant who threw many a tantrum has quietly taken place in the society of men as dutiful father hardworking tax-paying burgher as ever to do his duty to his family and state.

(To be continued)

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Is Art Relevant to Us? ©

An individual is a creature of his times. One of the enduring myths of the last century, especially with emergence of Nazism, has been of the ideal ‘superman’ a “Caesar with Christ’s soul.” Such a person of heroic mould, least of all in Adolf Hitler was it realized, who was neither a Caesar nor the other. Übermensch the Nietzschean concept has remained only in print. Reason for it is simple and almost humdrum to be ludicrous. No man may have been idolized in our time as Chairman Mao. He wielded power with possible exception of Stalin and Hitler as no other political figure. When his great leap forward failed what did he do to deflect criticism from him but let loose the Culture Revolution 1n1966*. He needed the youth and not sane cousel in order to hold on to power. Much as he tried hardly had he left the scene came socialist market economy under Deng XioPing (1) . In oreder to be relevant the powers-that-be had to correct the course in comparison with emerging nations each vying for relevance. China could not remain stuck in time of Charman Mao and instead veer in a tangent. Such divergence exists in belief-systems as well. Prophet Mohammed founded a religion, a third way because of his direct observation as to the manner Christianity and Judaism had evolved. His own vision of Truth will evolve after his decease into sects each claiming exclusive rights to his legacy. From experience we know the legacy of Chairman Mao or Prophet Mohammed was as durable as ‘writ in water.’ Is Truth so misunderstood that such luminous heroes end up as caricatures? Nations are made up by people as beleivers to a belief-system are but men. Each individual adds something of his own to the common experience and no one has ever taken the reins of a body of men and has shown himself like ‘superman.’ Look what followers of Christ or Mohammed have done in the name of religion. They were pioneers and their example as pure as driven snow, and consider what Papal infallibility or salafism has done to it. Their institutions what with so many adding their bit have been made to look like well trodden path of slush or a slaughterhouse.

No individual like a fish can superimpose his own values outside the stream in which he has his being. An artist similarly can only understood as child of his circumstances. (to be continued)

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What progress is it  if it gags on its own bottlenecks? It has not delivered its promises.

Progress sounds good on paper. Fame and Fortune await whoever has a genuine idea, drive and innovate. Recently Dr. Craig Wright came forward to claim he is the founder of bitcoin. Later he had to defend himself and said that proof would be forthcoming. Later we are told it is not so. What a pother!

We are children of a cashless society. In the Internet Age where we all have learned to reduce our reliance on paper, we became computer savvy. Instead of snail mail we send electronic messages that are quicker. Rather than waste our time shopping around we do online shopping and pay with credit cards. If such innovations keep working their way through it must create subtle shifts in us. It is natural to expect our lives as a result would qualitatively improve. Is it not? The job statistics in April 2012 indicate one in two of graduates fresh out of colleges are underemployed or unemployed. Our youth have come off worse. What of the old? Here is a news headline of Feb, 21-2012 For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work till you drop’ (AP-Los Angeles)

According to US College Graduate Employment Study by Accenture Strategy in 2015 found that Forty-nine percent of 2013-14 graduates consider themselves unemployed.

Technology let us fall in with the latest trends and if we thought we have become progressive we are right. Progress made us connect with any part of the world. Connectivity is wonderful. Suppose we are looking for a career change. Under normal circumstances we only need our work experience connect with the openings most suited to our talent. But now? Is it not terrible to be told all those positions are gone?

Post-war generation or the baby boomers did not account for the economic downturn of 2008. Naturally we expected as the older generation before us to retire when we reached the age of sixty-five. Oh no progress has got in a downward spiral! The post-war boom helped us to go up in financial security and along with it in our expectations also rose. We have been riding the slipstream of many forces unknown to us expanding and contracting while we thought progress was letting us off easy thanks to the Internet. Now we find technology cannot put jobs back. Our progress has hit a blank wall.

Progress of man did not account for its hidden costs. If we look closely we shall see we have come worse off in great many areas.

Let us look at life expectancy of ordinary folks.

Between 1990 and 2010, life expectancy of low-educated white women declined by 1.2 years. That 1.2 years is about 13 years of progress washed away, so what seems to be minor changes in life expectancy signal really big problems going on underneath the surface.

“If we look at the trends in the US in an international context, it becomes even more stark. US women are at the bottom in terms of other high-income countries on these measures. So we’ve really fallen off; the trends have really diverged in an international context which tell us there’s something unique going on in the US, especially for US women.

“Raj Chetty and colleagues came out with a very big study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April looking at the association between income and life expectancy in the US between 2001 and 2014.

“They showed rich women outlive poor women by ten years. They also showed that these gaps between the rich and poor in terms of survival have been growing over time. So over the period that they looked at, the richest Americans gained about three years of life expectancy, while the poorest had no increase.

If the nation cannot fix the American dream at least in terms of wellbeing of women there must be something insidious in the way progress is sold to the man on the street.

benny

 

 

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