Monthly Archives: June 2017

Morality in a Time of Untruth

SYMPOSIUM: MORALITY IN A TIME OF UNTRUTH

by ZEE CHENG KHOR MORAL UPLIFTING SOCIETY INC & THE INTERFAITH CENTRE MELBOURNE.

From a Sufi perspective:

Since the dawn of humanity, there have been teachers, or messengers, who have come on earth, usually at a time of great need – when there is social chaos, or a breakdown in society. Perhaps even in a time of untruth. The message is the same, but because of the culture, geography, and the time when it is given, it has a different flavour. We honour these teachers, whether known or unknown to the world. Sufis have some special prayers which we say for our teacher or prophet. One of those is the prayer Rasul:

Warner of coming dangers,
Wakener of the world from sleep,
Deliverer of the Message of God,
Thou art our Saviour.
The sun at the dawn of creation,
The light of the whole universe,
The fulfilment of God’s purpose,
Thou the life eternal, we seek refuge in thy loving enfoldment.
Spirit of Guidance, Source of all beauty, and Creator of harmony,
Love, Lover, and Beloved Lord,
Thou art our divine ideal.

This prayer portrays in very beautiful terms the response of the seeker to the levels of guidance found in the teacher, the prophet, and the messenger.  Rasul begins with these words: ‘Warner of coming dangers, wakener of the world from sleep’ and sometimes the question comes, asked rather nervously, ‘What dangers? Is there some calamity for which we should be preparing?
We can suppose that our teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, foresaw a great deal of which he did not speak, but he made it very clear that the fundamental danger that lies before us today is the consequence of sleeping when we should be awake.  One might think of a sleepwalker approaching a cliff, or a driver sleeping at the wheel. For lack of a spiritual ideal, the world has fallen into a dense and snoring slumber, a drugged or intoxicated state one could say, filled with seductive dreams of the material consumerism, with the consequent fixation on possession and accumulation, on status and display. (Why do we take so many ‘selfies’?)  Even something as pure and simple as friendship is often perverted, when we cultivate an acquaintance for the sake of gain, rather than because we feel something in our heart for that person.

As Hazrat Inayat said, the Message or teachings are given as a lullaby to those who are sleeping, and a call to those who are beginning to awaken.  For the sleepers, they should rest until it is their time to rouse, that is natural, but at least they may have better dreams, dreams of gentleness, kindness, harmony, and beauty.  And for those who are struggling to wake up, the Message is there to stir us, to help pull us onto our feet and take responsibility for ourselves.  Though we seldom consider it, our every deed and impulse is in the service of something. It may be serving an ideal or a selfish desire or a preconceived notion we have picked up along the way, but our every thought, word and deed serves to advance something, and the more conscious we are, the more responsible we become for our service.  As an exercise, therefore, we could ask ourselves, as often as we remember to do so, ‘What does this serve?’  And we can be sure that the answer matters.  As it says in our Gayan,
Whichever path you choose, the right or the wrong, know that there is at the back always a powerful hand to help you along it.

The best we can do is to look inside ourselves, to find the Untruth within us, so that we can recognise it in others. We thus gain in wisdom, so that we can serve our community.

My thanks to Nawab for allowing me to use much of this material from his wonderful blog.

 

Leaders of the five religions or philosophies below took part in this symposium.

Precepts of the five religions or philosophies which took part in the symposium.

Christianity

Moral Codes for Christianity

The 10 Commandments List

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honour your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  10. You shall not covet.

Also: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and Love your neighbour as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40)

Confucianism

Confucian principles are expressed in the goals of:

  • helping members of society to build a happy life;
  • popularizing traditional cultural education;
  • promoting the application of traditional culture in daily life;
  • preserving the wisdom of the teachings of the sages; and
  • enlightening people to implement moral education, by applying wisdom from sages’ teaching to lead a happy life, hence to have a complete and happy family and a harmonised society.

Dejiao

Ten virtues of Dejiao:

Filial piety

Brotherly love

Loyalty

Sincerity

Courtesy

Justice

Honesty

Sense of honour/shame

Humanity

Wisdom

 Eight precepts of Dejiao:

Do not cheat

Do not be untruthful

Do not be greedy

Do not be unreasonable

Do not be arrogant

Do not be lazy

Do not hate others

Do not be resentful

Sufism

Ten principal thoughts of all importance in Sufism for the inner human life:

1) There is one God, the Eternal, the Only Being; none else exists save God.

2) The one Master is the Guiding Spirit of all souls, who constantly leads followers toward the light. 3) There is one Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, which truly enlightens all readers.

4) There is one Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction towards the ideal, which fulfils the life’s purpose of every soul.

5) There is one Law, the law of Reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience together with a sense of awakened justice.

6) There is one human Brotherhood, the Brotherhood and Sisterhood which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the Fatherhood of God.

7) The one Moral Principle is the love that springs from self-denial & blooms in deeds of beneficence. 8) There is one Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshipper through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.

9) The one Truth is true knowledge of our being within & without, which is the essence of all wisdom

10) There is one Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality and in which resides all perfection.

Taoism

Taoist Moral Code:

Philosophical Taoism seeks to realign humanity with nature and natural principles. As such, morality is seen in terms of excess and deficiency – too much or too little – rather than good and bad. The transformation of opposites (yin and yang) leads to an understanding of the appropriate action at the appropriate moment in time (alignment with the Tao). This idea allows for a fluid morality that can deal with constant change – the common, shared challenge of existence that we all must deal with.

Cenerentola and the Little Date Tree

The little date tree which the Dove of the Fairies gives Cenerentola is a powerful symbol of the sacred. There are stories of  wish fulfilling trees which reveal much of their meaning.

For Instance:-

There was a man crossing the desert, on a long journey, in the heat of the day;  seeing a tree in the distance, he made his way to it so that he could enjoy its cool shade. He fell asleep under the tree and awoke refreshed but very thirsty. He wished for something to quench his thirst. Immediately he saw wonderful ripe mangoes in the tree and reaching upward, was able to pick and eat the juicy mangos. When he had eaten his fill, he was very happy and this made him think about happier t times and the beautiful roses that used to grow around his parents’ house. He thought that if he could smell the fragrance of these roses once again, he would indeed be happy and content. Immediately he had this thought, the man saw in the tree above him, the exact same roses that he remembered from his parent’s garden – the same colour, and shape, the same fragrance. But then he thought that it was really impossible for the tree to have both mangoes and roses growing on it. As soon as he doubted, the tree and all its goodness vanished.

This was the Wish Fulfilling Tree, which exists in the realm of Creative Imagination – it is very real, but when we doubt it, it is no longer available to us. While under its branches, we can achieve anything we wish for.

So, the little date tree which Cenerentola was given by the Dove of the Fairies, could well be a Wish Fulfilling tree. The Dove of the Fairies gave her this tree so that she could learn by her practices to have access to the inner realm whenever she wished, where she could with practice, live in this realm and evolve into the  Queen she really was.

 

There is another great tradition in which a date tree is held as sacred:

In the Koran it is said that Mary gave birth to Jesus under a date tree – verse 19:22-26

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.”

This means that the date tree is considered a very sacred place, a place under which the spirit (the Divine Child) can be brought forth and nourished. The dates and the water beneath the tree nourished and sustained both Mary and her baby.

There is a clear parallel to this Koranic verse in the account found in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew which is included in the apocrypha. In other words, this story of Mary giving birth to Jesus under a date tree, was known well before the Koran.

‘Then she conceived him; and withdrew with him to a remote place. ‏And the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten! ‏So a voice came to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely thy Lord has provided a stream beneath thee. ‏ And shake towards thee the trunk of the palm-tree, it will drop on thee fresh ripe dates. ‏So eat and drink and cool the eye. Then if thou seest any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent, so I will not speak to any man to-day’.

 

It is interesting to note that some palm trees bearing dates, grow in rivers, or close to springs in the Middle East. Symbolically the spring beneath the date tree, bearing dates, is of the greatest significance. As we have seen in the fairy tales, the spring of fresh water, relates to the water of life and the quest for unity with the Divine. The date and the palm are sacred in Christianity.  The palm branches carried on Palm Sunday originate in the triumphal entry of Christ into Jeruslaem, so it seems that the palm tree was also there at his birth. As we have seen in a previous blog post,  the ash which is used on Ash Wednesday, is the ash from burning the palms on the Palm Sunday of the year before.

In other fairy tales,  the hero (the masculine) on his inner journey, is given Teachings and practices, they manifest as a flying horse or steed, as we have seen – the beautiful brown horse in the fairy of the Dawn, the little humpbacked horse, and even the stone ram. But it appears that when the feminine is on her journey, a different process occurs – she is given a ‘date tree’, through which she gains access to the sacred  inner realm of the creative imagination. Her practice in this realm manifests and supports her evolution. This is a powerful process, which is explored in Cenerentola. Her journey is quite different. As Robert Johnston has said, men must find the grail castle and ask the ‘grail question’, which is ‘Whom does the Grail serve?’ Only if he answers correctly can he gain access to the holy grail.  But women live in the grail castle and their journey is different. Cenerentola is the only one of the fairy tales which I have come across, which actually shows this process and we do well to examine it deeply.