It certain was bright and impressive sitting under the trees staring at you with its one knowing eye!
We headed back from the wonders of Guilin to stay with my daughter in Shanghai. We visited the museum. I was particularly taken with these ancient sculptures. I also liked the willow-pattern. It was Guilin!
As we worked our way through these various temples, heading ever upwards, we passed many interesting niches.
A row of enlightened Buddhas with their swastikas symbolising the wheel of life.
Shrines of beatific Buddhas.
A tree of colours. A prayer tree?
The fat, laughing Buddha – who obviously enjoyed life.
Guardians with swords and music.
An interesting demon. Isn’t imagination wonderful?
A many-headed Buddha with elephants.
Three enlightened Buddhas.
There below us was the city!
We travelled across Java to climb up this most amazing temple complex that rivals Ankor Watt. Fabulous: It used to be on an island in a lake and must have looked amazingly spectacular. Religions sure like to impress. I bet it was very colourful too. It was shaken to bits in volcanic activity and buried under volcanic ash. They’ve dug it out and reconstructed it. I’m glad they did.
Buddha and god
As an antitheist I do not believe there is a god, certainly not one who has created man in his own image or who is concerned with the lives of men. I see no evidence of the universe having been created by some super being; neither do I see evidence of intelligent design around me. If man is made by divine hands then they are clumsy hands indeed. I myself can think of many great improvements to the human form – perfection it isn’t. No. The more I learn the less I am convinced. What I see is religion of all types constructed by man.
Yet I do perceive the possibility of some mystical force at work, some force present in sunsets, rocks, trees and majestic views that I would call ‘wonder and awe’. I do also sense a force at work within the psychology of people creating synchronicity. I, much to Andrew’s disgust, refer to this as the prevailing zeitgeist. I tend to think that this mental emanation will at some point be recognised by science. But maybe I am wrong. Science is in its infancy. It has much to discover. The field of consciousness and psychology is too new to have yielded all its secrets. The future will likely reveal a lot more.
Even as a young man, when I was a spiritual zealot, eager to follow in Kerouac and Ginsberg’s wake, to gain satori and see the universe through the eyes of Zen, I was sceptical of god and derisory of the god of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. His many faces seemed absurd.
I was greatly moved by a tale told to me by a Thai monk called Vorosak Candimitto. As a young man, besotted with Kerouac and Ginsberg, I was on a personal exploration into spirituality, the mind, mysticism and the void. I tried meditation and tried to still my mind to discover that truth within. I enjoyed it but soon moved on. Eastern meditation seemed inappropriate to the life I was leading. I wanted instant nirvana or nothing. That’s Western mentality for you. As for religion and god – this is what Vorosak told me: –
‘One day the Buddha was sitting with a number of learned men. One asked of him:
‘Is there a god?’
The Buddha thought hard before replying.
‘If you were shot with an arrow which had pierced your side, before having the arrow removed by a physician and the wound treated, would you first enquire who had fired the arrow? To what family did he belong? To what caste? Where did they come from? How many members did the family have? From what trees were the bow and arrow fashioned? From what animal were the guts for the bowstring created? Where the metal for the tip had been mined? Who had shaped the tip? From what bird had the feathers for the flights been plucked and who had manufactured them? Likewise the glue to hold them secure?’
The Buddha looked at the wise man intently.
‘Before you have the answers to your questions you would be dead.’
I liked that parable.
At the end of the days it is not about what you believe, how you’ve prayed, whether there is a god or not – it is about how you’ve lived your life, whether you’ve lived it to the maximum and whether you’ve been a force for good or evil.
No sane person would believe that any god would build a wondrous universe and then expect his creations to bore themselves to death in prayer and ritual, hate others and kill in his name. That is straight out of men’s warped minds (men – generic). If there is a god (which I do not believe for one minute) he would want you to live, love, build and enjoy.
So ISIS and all religious nutcases, indoctrinated fools and evangelical idiots can go hang – I’m for life.