Saturday, October 17, 2009

May the Light Shine Forever

My father, I believe, is worried that I am becoming a Christian.

He took Bible study, in the years when Malaysia had English schools, and I had stolen his copy of the Gospel of St Luke, when he forbade me from reading it.

Well, first of all, I am not interested in religions. Period. Religion has been the focal point of many wars, violence and disagreements. Not because religion is evil and petty. Nope. People are evil and petty.

Some people compete over every little thing. That's what they do. So fuck 'em.

I have read several Bibles. I have read the Koran, and some pieces of Jewish stuff.

Also exposed to Chinese and Hindu mythology.

When I was younger, I read Seri Rama dan Sita Dewi, which is this region's version of the Ramayana. There are differences. For instance, Hanuman, referred to as Anduman in certain texts, is depicted as the child of Rama and Sita when they were turned into ungka putih (white gibbons) and copulated before being rescued by Laksamana.

Hanuman placed several mountains on his tail and flung them at Rakshasha.

Later in life, I discovered Chinese comics, that depicted a lot of Chinese creation mythology.

For example, when things got started, there was Pangu. Pangu slept between Yin and Yang, which was heaven and earth.

He woke up and stretched for 10,000 years or something like that and separated land and sky. Then, he died. His body became Earth, his blood becomes water, his veins the rivers and oceans. The minerals in his bones became gold, iron and precious gemstones.

His hair became trees and yadda yadda yadda.

One day, the Fire God Zhu Rong fought with the Water God, Gong Gong. Zhu Rong threw Gong Gong to a pillar of the sky, breaking it.

Nu wa had to repair it. She used seven different-coloured stones, and that became the rainbow.

She also cut off the leg of a turtle and propped up the sky with it.

As I got even older, I found the Mahabharata.

Among the stories I remember from Hindu mythology is about Ganesh. He's the Hindu God with an elephant head.

Ganesh is the God of Wisdom, and one day, he was asked by one of the Gods, I think, to stand guard at the entrance of a place, while he goes in, and never to let anyone in.

Ganesh's father happened by and asked to enter, to which Ganesh said no. Enraged, his father - Shiva, I think - chopped his head off.

Then, feeling remorseful, Shiva tried to find a replacement and gave him an elephant's head.

A quick check with Wikipedia shows that there are many variations to the story.

Christian creation myth has the world created by God - the Abrahamic God - in seven days. Islamic tradition has the world created instantaneously, cause God is all powerful and stuff.

Aside from that, most things are similar.

Angels were created from light, while Lucifer(Christian) or Azazel (Islam) is created from fire.

In Islamic tradition, Azazel was the most pious of all angels. So when God decreed that, "One of you will betray me," all the angels asked Azazel, one by one, to pray so that they would not be the one, as Azazel was the most pious of them all.

This Azazel did, forgetting himself in the process. So when the shit hits the fan, hubris took over in his heart and he defied God.

Man was created from earth. Adam was so smart, he gave names and knew of all animals, plants and trees. An amazing feat, considering the fact that some of us nowadays can't recognise mimosa pudica from penicillium notatum.

And some behave like pan paniscus instead of homo sapiens. Oh well.

In some sects of Christianity, there is a belief of Original Sin, which I thought had something to do with women.

Basically, in both Christianity and Islamic traditions, it was Eve/Hawa who persuaded Adam to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge between good and evil - the apple/buah khuldi. So it's always the woman's fault.

Original Sin is when mankind - both Adam and Eve - defied God and committed the first offence ever - eating a forbidden fruit.

So we were cast off from Paradise and doomed forever to whatever until one such day when we would return.

The element of redemption is reflected in many other religions and philosophies such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

In Buddhism, our whole thing is about how to achieve nirvana - enlightenment - which will get us high. I mean, to get us to a higher plane of consciousness, perhaps? That's the original concept of heaven in Buddhist philosophy.

In Hinduism, it is reflected in the concept of Atman, or a higher, conscious self.

The celebration of Deepavali is not merely the 'festival of lights' where people light lamps. It is also the 'awareness of the inner light' or the Atman. Something like that.

My sources are books and textbooks and comic books and the Internet. So treat each sliver of information with a grain of salt. And yes, I am surprised that most people do not remember what they were taught in school. Furthermore, I am recording what I know now here lest I would forget.

I see all religions as an interesting collection of stories. I do not aim to shove any of it down people's throats as the ultimate truth, or any kind of truth for that matter. Only those who are weakest in their faith would seek to get other people to agree with their beliefs. I don't care who you are.