Monday, January 19, 2009

Give Obama a chance

Today was the inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth president of the United States. Obama has, somehow, elicited a lot of enthusiasm and support around the world - something quite unusual for a politician.

The thing I find most interesting about the Obama phenomenon is not so much Obama himself (no disrespect intended) but the sense of hope and interest that he elicits in people. I think it says more about us than about him. Or rather, even if he's not able to fulfill our hopes and desires for the world, the fact that we desire goodness and admire and want to be led by someone that exhibits goodness, is a good sign to me.

I get slightly annoyed of hearing politicians speculate on why people have lost interest in politics, because their analysis are usually quite facile or off target (it's the media, stupid). We fail to be enthused by politics for many reasons, but importantly because we've lost interest in the political game, of oppositional politics, and the spin of it. It's about power politics, which is justified by the need of power to effect change. Unfortunately though, when we sacrifice our own internal compass to attain power, we run the risk of never ever retrieving it again.

Obama seems to seems to promise a different kind of politics - a wiser kind. He could've chosen a plush life as a university professor or a well-paid position in the legal profession, but, although he did both, he also chose to work as a community organiser. And this further led him towards a political engagement. He has shown in different ways that he's made choices based on his moral convictions over and above short-time personal gain - a sign of wisdom. This, and not intelligence, is what I think distinguishes him from George W Bush.

But whether Obama is THE solution to ALL our problems (which is highly unlikely), I think we should notice our enthusiasm and hopes and take them seriously. I think we should reflect on what our enthusiasm says about who we are and what we really care about, and then chose to act accordingly or in congruence with our internal voice. Why wait for Obama to be good or honest, or straightforward, or caring - lets honour the part of us that wants it by choosing it for ourselves. Let's be wise too!

And let's also give Obama a chance. He is after all a mere human.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vive la France!

As the French go out to vote a new President, I send them all my well-wishes...

I'm in two minds about which leader would be best. I quite like Ségolène Royal, but some people tells me she's mean and lack ideas. Nicholas Sarkozy has ideas and likes order and respect. Order in the sense of ORDER! or just good organisation, is a question. Royal was brought up in a military family and rebelled against her father's oppressive order. But she's not a hippie. Just look at her.

A curious fact is that both of them sued their own father (Sarkozy by helping his mother) for not paying for their children's maintenance and education. Sarkozy's father left the household when the kids were still very young, while Royal helped her mother divorce her abusive father.

I have nothing really clever to say about them or the French elections. Will some divine inspiration descend upon me in this very moment? Nope. I'm dry like an autumn leaf in the Gobi desert.

God bless!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm a Triolet...

If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
I'm the triolet, bursting with pride;
If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
No, it isn't obsessive. Now hide
All the spoons or I might get convulsive.
If they told you I'm mad then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
What Poetry Form Are You?

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Pope and the European Union

The Pope has criticised the European Union for not including at least a mention about Europe's Christian roots in the Declaration for the Future of the European Union, signed on Sunday.

In one sense he is right, for if we study the history of Europe, and even the Enlightenment, Christianity has played an enormous part in its development and character. It would be foolish to deny, or dismiss, its influence. Should it therefore have a place in this document? Maybe. I only skimmed through it quickly, enough to see that it wasn't of particular importance to me, so I can't say.

It is understandable that the Churches want to be included into the European public sphere, for everything we do have moral and ethic component. We act according to our beliefs, and we reap the consequences of them too. Judging from the results (for example, decreased mental health), we're not doing that well as a society. We would therefore profit from a change of perspectives. But why?

The secular state is not (as many believe) a neutral repository of a diversity of beliefs, but advances its own values, beliefs, and goals. It needs to be challenged, for it often does not work for the benefit of all people, or for achieving peace. It therefore should be challenged and kept on its toes. And the Churches has all the right in the world to do so.

However, the Churches do need to acknowledge that Christianity is also the cause of secularism and atheistic humanism (that's btw why the humanists are so obsessed by Christianity - read the New Humanist and see for yourself). A lot of the conflicts, wars, bigotry in the 16th and 17th century were based on doctrinal differences. The violence defied all human logic and sense, and therefore led to what we today call the Enlightenment. The influence of the Churches was gradually restricted to the private sphere, and for very good reasons.

I would personally like to see a more open Europe today, where religion and spirituality is part of its varied landscape; I would like to see the Churches acknowledged for its thoughtful contribution and wisdom - but that will not happen unless the Churches acknowledges its part in the rise of secularism and atheism, and more importantly - root out their cause.

Maybe they will then notice that they have allies amongst all the Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and all other spiritually minded people in Europe. If they come so far as to acknowledge their intrinsic worth, and to respect them, the root cause will certainly have dissolved...

God bless!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Radcliffe Camera

Here are a couple of photos that I took today of the Radcliffe Camera as I was leaving the library. It's my favourite space in Oxford to read and study, especially the ground floor area. The colours are warm, the space is round, the 'slices' we sit in are cosy (in their own way). It's a great space. I'm not there that often, for the books I need right now are in the Indian Institute Library. But I miss it.

The photos came out quite well, despite the darkness.

Ok, I've procrastinated enough. Good night!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Give constant thanks

I came across this beautiful piece as I 'randomly' opened a page in Eileen Caddy's Opening Doors Within:

"Give constant thanks for everything. There is much to be grateful for; open your eyes, look around, and see how blessed you are. As you do, you will find yourself filled with an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude, and the whole of life and living will take on a new meaning. The people around you will mean more to you because your heart is filled with love for them, and you have a deeper understanding and tolerance towards them. You will find yourself grateful for them, for their love and companionship, for just being themselves. Your eyes will be open to all the beauty and harmony around you, to the wonders of nature. You will see with eyes that really see; you will hear with ears that really hear; and you will speak with words pf love and understanding. Life will be good for you because you are taking nothing for granted, but are appreciative of everything and can see My hand in everything."

It was just the perfect message for me today. Thank you!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

All Hearts

I couldn't resist putting up this picture of my marmelade hearts that I made for my granny last year. She had her 100th birthday in May!

Well, yes I know, it's Valentine's Day, and it's not about grannies - but why not?! Aren't they lovely though?

Anyway, I found an explanation about the origins of Valentine's day on Wikipedia and it seems that it originated from the Romans.They celebrated a fertility festival in the middle of February, which seemed quite lively...

It was called Lupercalia. This is from Plutarch (a Greek historian):

"Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy."

This festival was local to the city of Rome, but was banned by Pope Gelasius I (yes, the one that asserted the sacred power of bishops as separate from and over royal power in the end of 5th century - yes, that one!). February was also known for its festival of purification, from which the month got its name - februare "to purify" (yes, this speaks volumes to me as I'm born in February). Some would say that Candlemas (the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin) was put in the place of Lupercalia, but some argue differently. In any case, Pope Gelasius declared in 496 that the Feast of Valentine was to be held on the 14 February.

St. Valentine refers to one or more Christian martyrs "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." In other words, Pope Gelasius did not know much about them.

I quite like that statement though, for it is entirely true that it's not possible for us to fully understand another. But God does. It reminds me of a verse in the Bhagavad-gita (7.26) where Krishna says: "I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

Global warming

Today we finally got an official statement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the planet is heating up due to 'human activity'. It took its time to figure that one out...

I guess that anything that makes us more conscious of our relationship with the planet and nature is good, but God did it take time to get there! I wonder though if it will change people's thinking, or if we will just find out another way of earning money - i.e. exploiting the green economy. I'm all for people becoming rich in good ways, but the same mentality that led us into an environmental disaster, won't bring us out of it.

We need green thinking, whatever that means. I guess I mean holistic thinking. That we stop thinking only 'what's good for me?', and think, 'what's good?', or 'what's the right thing to do?' The idea that 'what's good for me, is good for everyone' is passé. Now is the time for 'what's good for everyone, is good for me'. Don't you think?

I saw 'An Inconvenient Truth' last week, which I found quite revealing.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kula Shaker and Govinda

It's such a long time since I heard Kula Shaker and now I've found them on the Tube...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dark Clouds and modern life

Yesterday, as I walked my bike up from B&Q (having spent more time and money than advisable) I noticed the most beautiful and dramatic sky. It was full of rushing large dark blue clouds behind the last light of the day. It was dramatic and energising.

In any other scenery, by woodland, the sea or a mountain, it would have been a fantastic picture. But in the middle of suburban Oxford, it didn’t come to it’s full potency though.

I find that living in a city, even if Oxford doesn’t really have any high-rise buildings, is in one sense like living in an aquarium (as confined to a small space). The buildings become like walls that impede my vision of the horizon; and without that connection to the horizon, I somehow loose my connection to nature and to the greater reality, beyond the city street.

I cycled home in the rain and the wind, trying to keep myself and my bike straight in the gusts. I quite enjoyed it though. There’s nothing like feeling the force of nature for a few minutes, as long as I can crawl back into a heated room by the end of it…