Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

It is strange why people would celebrate the advent of a new year. Surely a new year brings them closer to death? So is a new year celebration a celebration of death, a strange morbid festival of anticipated release? And if humanity and the universe have expiry dates, would not the turning of the wheel move all things one notch closer towards the end?

Yet a new year also brings new possibilities and new birth: both literal and metaphorical. Even death and destruction are typically the heralds of new dawn. A festival of death is no more or less than a festival of change, and therefore of life. And once intelligence has evolved, the ultimate fate of the universe is no longer fixed, even if physical laws decree universal darkness.

And underlining our celebrations is perhaps also a vague intuitive faith in the teleological movement of time, an amorphous sense that life and the universe are moving towards some goal and consummation. Certainly many religions express the vision of a New Creation, or a Satya Yuga, that will come about in the 'fullness of time', whether cyclical or linear. Perhaps our new year celebrations are secular expressions of this archetypal faith.

For myself, I do not concern myself too much with the distant future of the New Jerusalem. But I do gaze with both sadness and hope into the prospects of the next few centuries. I look forward to the birth of a new civilisation. I look forward to an age where humanity's inner and spiritual powers would acquire an ampler and more opulent sweep. On the ruins of the old, a culture will arise where humanity's inner wealth would richly complement the external knowledge that have accrued over the last few centuries.

It was in this spirit that I wrote my Atlantean stories. Whether one literally believes in Atlantis is not important, for it represents a dream, a vision of a civilisation where humans are more truly human. Imperfect the Atlanteans may be, but they do not live impoverished lives of seeming opulence. The highest of them live close to a sun of everlasting splendor; the middling folks are free citizens of inner realms whose doors are barred and shut to almost all today. Even the lowest and most materially engrossed enjoy capacities of intellect and perception and strength that would be well above average today. It is a civilisation where wisdom, whether intellectual, spiritual and 'occult', attain heights that are rarely surpassed in the last ten thousand years. It is a nation where art and beauty ascend fiery peaks, and yet a nation where art is humbly infused into every aspect of life. No civilisation could match the universal Atlantean achievement in almost every field of Mind.

I believe that such a civilisation would be born in the centuries ahead to break the fall of the old, and perhaps to war against the rising evil that would seek to enthrone man as God himself through pride and technology.

2010 comes, and with it, the approach of the Atlantean descent.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

School (still in progress)

Due to 'resource constraints' this month, did not manage to do much more than add a garbled addition to the story...

Atos looked into a night of entombed stars. Eternal, calm yet pitiful, two universal eyes gazed back; and from them came a cosmic raven with wings out-stretched. It birthed entropic Presences, nameless Immensities drawing existence from non-existence, looming with titan scope over a dying world. They shrouded the horizon of Tarasha Lehi, the home of Flame

An immense mouth gaped, a spreading chasm of night. From it came a buzzing, like the frenzies of bees in a nightmare parade. A storm of machines exploded, flying, crawling, swarming, tortured and fused with seeing darkness and wreathed in spells that rot the light. They came, matter animated with spirits gorged by death’s milk, terrible weapons blighting Flame. Around them were the roar and stench of charging soldiers twisted by slicing energies and burning machines driving flesh. Barely human, with minds empty of all but a terrible Will, they came on at unnatural speeds, their bodies chained to the word of the Six.

Next came rings upon rings of blood-drenched sorcerers. Standing on flying machines, organised in circles, they chanted madness and waved their staves of rot and doom. They invoked curses, they hymned the Abyss, they twisted to inferno’s tunes. They drew upon their god and the nameless Presences of death, and hurled their wills against the Border of Light that ever retreated. It was their moment, the day when the Eleven would fail at last.

Then came the great Abomination, the skyscraper of Hell. Carved out of a great Atlantean hill, and filled with numberless corpses compacted, it was the living temple of Moloch, the fallen prince once a god, now a demon and master of the Six. The Abomination floated forward, planted firm on vast slow-flying machines, its dark Blood-Eye feeding the army with ecstatic torment and shielding it with an energy mocking life; furious and rapid, yet suffused with the stench of cadaverous mountains. Thus protected, the army of the Abomination had overwhelmed the Towers of Flame and destroyed their Guardians.

In spirit, a Word was shouted, and a vast Flame fell. Atos’ spirit form became lightning pregnant with ocean fire as his storm songs surged. And reaching above, Atos called on the Eleven. Yet they were remote. The wide, august potencies native to their Plane were too far removed from the cramped and narrow confines of the ignorant Earth. Even in the land of their descendants, even in the being of their great disciple, they could not put forth their full might. The great Work had taken too long and now it was too late.

Nevertheless, Atos raised his staff, its tip a terrible blue-white star.

A huge Presence struck first, its Will unflinching and hatred cosmic. Fire rose and Darkness smite. Atos felt the Six combining, their wills one with the Will of their god. Claws of fierce flame leapt, gigantic swords of tearing doom. But Light exploded into Night. A divine eagle with eleven-hued wings rose up like a huge fortress of white flames The claws were ripped apart like thin paper.

The eagle of the Word thrust into adamantine darkness hunting Prey, its victorious dawn spreading. Sweeping aside resistance, Atos’s spell stabbed deep into the Abomination and bound the huge Darkness with greater chains. The Blood Eye faltered, its fire smothered.

From afar, a diamond white staff was raised high.

A star-force besieged the Eye like an ocean crushing in; a Word foreign and ecstatic devoured from within. The Six faltered as their god, the son of Death, was eaten by ruthless Light. Chains of fire pulled, and for a while it appeared as if Moloch would be hurled, mortally broken, back into the abyss.

But only for a while. Not all of Atos’ power could force Moloch out or destroy him. The dark prince endured, though torn by luminous wounds that would never heal. He called on his slaves. The Six rallied, chanting mighty spells and summoning the Presences of Death. They came, looming, like clouds of claws, like a dead night full of eyes. They challenged the burning spirit wielding Flame.

The ancient fall of man fought his ascension. The primal sin wrestled first rising. Bloodshed of the Earth overwhelmed the dreams of peace. A burning continent, a burning city of the Tarasha, destroyed the triumph of the Light. Too little, too late was the goodness of man. Tenebrous claws ripped into the emissary of the Eleven.

A thunder of yellow Light and Atos was free. But the Blood-Eye flamed anew, its darkness resurrected. The eagle of Light became splinters quickly swallowed by overwhelming Night. Atos’ exorcism had failed. He withdrew, defeated. A monstrous laugh mocked him, echoed by a thousand Presences, immense and nameless revolving around a Nether God. Death would conquer; hell would reign. Tarasha Lehe would fall.


A great white desk of fine wood; many chairs, tucked into desks; a little library, with books neatly shelved. The evacuation was sudden, but the students had left their classroom in its usual condition. Order and beauty, Atlantean virtues, reigned here.

Atos smiled a little as he walked around. He could visualise the classroom as it once was, matching faces with desks, voices with silences, and lives with emptiness. As he turned a corner, splashed with light from the noontime sun, he found himself at a map of Tarasha Lehe, carefully pinned onto a wall. He stretched forth his fingers and touched Salem, the great fortress—the target of the Six. All the Towers of Flame had fallen, and the army of the Six was closing in. The surviving Guardians had gathered at Salem for a last stand. Part of Atos too, a portion of his being was there, feeding them light. But most of him was here, in this classroom, in the Academy. He will need all his Power for what had to be done.

He paused, concentrating within, musing on the sweet Flame that was always in him and above him. That, and only That was the real solution. Yet now, flame of another kind was needed.

He sighed, his hand slowly sliding from the frozen map. In a vast luminous peace, an ocean fire, he felt sorrow—stirrings of a Mother forced to slay her children. Turning away and raising his head, he looked out of the window. His classroom was in of the Academy’s great towers. He could see Salem soaring, its diamond Fire adamantine and unyielding, its towers like brilliant swords challenging Night. Beyond that, he could see a starless gloom that ever grew. He knew what was there.

He turned back to his classroom. For centuries, he had taught here. Though revered as the herald of the Eleven and the founder of the Guardians of the Flame, he had long ceased to engage in political or military work. He left that to the young ones. The Council was capable and wise, and given the circumstances, Tonfe and his commanders did an excellent job containing the dark Atlanteans. For himself, he needed peace and time to find a solution to the menace of the Six and the corrupted Stones. In addition, he knew that the future of Atlantis was ultimately fought and won not on the battlefields of Egypt or India or even Tarasha Lehe, but in the minds and spirits of her young. Thus, he became a teacher, taking a small class each year at the Academy.

Many of his students had become Guardians. Many of his students were out there now, preparing for the onslaught of the Six. Tonfe himself was at its walls. Many had also perished over the centuries, or had been corrupted by bloodshed.

Atos paused at the open door, looking around at the empty desks, hearing the voices and the dreams of long ago.

‘Farewell, old friend,’ he whispered. And he walked out and shut the door.

Down at the Academy gardens, Atos paced quickly. He was headed for the library. The silence was broken by shards of bird songs, and then a swirl of electric breeze, a tantalising life. Next to an old cedar burst out a cackling blue fire fused with multi-colored clouds swirling, a large sky-blue eye with tendrils of cold light.

Atos silently greeted the school Intelligence as its radiance sparkled in the shadows of trees. Created centuries ago, its tireless consciousness animated the army of machines that swept the grounds, ordered the library, trimmed the grass, guarded the compound; it had performed its thousand tasks with perfectionist zeal, and it would continue forever though the school would never open again. Machine-like though it might be, it was sentient and self-aware, though it knew itself not as a separate individuality, but as a portion of the Flame.

‘It feels so empty.’

Atos nodded. He too could feel the void. For those who look with eyes of Flame, and not those of flesh, the Academy was always radiant, especially with the Fire of Wisdom, one of the Eleven Rays. The Elder Philosopher had made his home there, putting forth a portion of himself at this great seat of education.

‘Why remain at a place that is already of the past?” Atos asked.

‘ For I sense the setting of many suns. Of death swallowing beauty. Of an age in its death throes, of the footfalls of a new and perilous age. I feel the sadness of the Flame. And I mourn the corpse of an old friend.’

Atos nodded, eyes lost in forlorn time. He would miss the Academy, the great school of the Art. He knew nothing like it would ever be built again until perhaps a distant age—when Atlantis rose again.

‘Come with me. Your mission here is ended. And come with the Order if you wish, when this age passes.”

The Intelligence grew still, inward and contemplating. It seemed to muse on the Academy’s soaring towers of learning, its massive stores of knowledge, its numberless pillars that rose like eternal trees, uplifting the weight of Light that was Atlantis. Then the blue eye hovered near, gently looking at its creator.

‘ Teacher, I will come,” it said quietly. Across the campus, quietness spread as machines slowed and gently ceased. In one more corner of Tarasha Lehe, high works and sculptured symphonies began transforming into silence and dream.

As the Intelligence began to fade, withdrawing its presence from the school forever, it looked into Atos’ sadness.

“I remember the boy you brought from Egypt. His sacrifice will not be in vain—though I know this will not console you.”

The boy who became the terror of the Tarasha, a serpent and lion of the light, and the commander of the Order who now stood at the gates of Salem. Atos looked across the training field of the Academy, over scattered hard rocks, across time that stretched into a distant green. There he was.

Tonfe was ablaze, clutching a small round stone that housed a hidden sun. A shard of white lightning, a luminous crystal orb, hovered in front of his out-stretched fingers; his dusty robes, badly ripped, revealed flesh that tore the evening dark with diamond light. Tonfe turned to Atos and smiled, his lips fiercely curled up in fire, his eyes lost in killing light.

The boy had summoned the white fire for the first time. He was fifteen.

In another time, another space, a boy lay on a bed, eyes lit by curtained light. He murmured a song interweaved with the music of home-bound birds, songs riding on sweet winds that bring sleep. His palm, scarred and almost warm, rested on an ancient hand. Atos gently touched the forehead of the boy, whose eyes closed in unaccustomed peace.

Soaring above Salem, another part of Atos watched a large army of men and women dressed in seamless white robes. A man, grim and huge, was at their head.

The man walked towards the growing mist, head hung, arms drooping, eyes shining with grey dreams of brooding night. The low light of dusk revealed white and red: a smooth, thin linen of Atlantean white streaked with the blood of battles. He held his staff firm, but wearily.

He raised his palm, an ascending star.

In his reverie, Atos had arrived. He pulled back most of his consciousness. He looked at the massive domed building ahead, ringed by beings of stone, in various poses, often eccentric and awkward, manifesting the frozen presence of the lost Melchis. Fronting giant pillars of sweeping stone lightning ringed by silver words, these statues rose from waters of flickering sunlight. Behind them, carved on a massive door, were sweeping golden lines celebrating the freedom of shining space. They blossomed into a vast silver-golden carving of the Tarasha, the eleven-hued truth that crowns the arduous climax of knowledge’s climb.

Starlight burnt in Atos’ eyes as he neared the massive doors of wood and stone. He waved a hand--the door parted, revealing a vast cavern illuminated by peace. He walked deep into the air of the Tarasha, the library of the Academy, the home of a hundred thousand tomes. Here was knowledge accumulated over 10 millennia, and faithfully preserved.

He cut into darkness, into the fragrance of shadowy books and mysterious scrolls. The staff had taken what they could in their hurried flight. Yet much remained, including the most precious. To that, Atos was headed, moving on well-worn paths through a maze of shelves, his footsteps echoing into cavernous night.

He reached a door—though to all others, there was only a seamless marble wall guarded by two massive pillars. Atos raised his left hand and opened his palm. A soft glow spread outwards, elongating, stretching—then a sharp light was made flesh. Atos lifted his staff and pointed.

A groan and a heavy rumble of massive weights shifting, and the wall parted. Crossing over, descending into warm depths, Atos moved down white steps past walls of strange beauty: ships with great sails parting rippling waters of ancient stars; a landing near sharp mountains and steep cliffs; construction and mighty works of stone rising. Unlike the other hidden rooms of the Guardians, this passageway was free of traps and massive defenses. What was here needed no protection.

At the end of the passage way was a smooth white cloth emblazoned with a chalice of eleven feathers rising like searing ether flames.

Kneeling in heart, Atos entered the holy of holies, the heart of the Atlantean Fire on earth: the abode of the eleven master Stones.

Ten millennia ago, when Atlantis was first settled, eleven master Melchis convened a great council where they discussed the future of their race. There were extensive debates, of visions seen from different perspectives, of knotted threads of time being interpreted and unraveled. The Flame spoke through multiple tongues and revealed multiple futures. Atlantis had been settled. The few had become many, the tribes, nations. Back in the womb of Africa, the Atlanteans were a small tribe that traversed the deserts and the grasslands under the cover of the stars, a people of song and Flame guided by king-shamans gifted with Light. Now, they were becoming a great people scattered across a continent.

Still in progress:

In a high mountain lost to memory, the Eleven gathered. Like stars around Light eternal. The Flame, eleven hued sat around a circle in eleven human forms, hierarchs of Flame, one and eleven and mighty. Meeting in a secret cavern, hewn by the Art and hidden deep, the first of many that would eventually be dredged into the mother soil of Atlantis.

The Old One, the Head of the Eleven. the High Priest, the Hierarch of love and fire and peace, the beloved of the Most High. Future generations would know him as Melchizedek, King of righteousness, King of peace. Next in rank and stature were two: the Lady of justice, beautiful, swift, and powerful, a queen who smites the wicked and straightens the crooked, a warrior who crushes evil and hurls down the proud; the ancient Sage, the Elder philosopher and the son of Wisdom, the serene patron of all arts that seek truth, and the teacher supreme who shows the way. Next in rank were the Eight: the Lady of beauty, the patroness of architecture, painting, sculpture, music and all the arts that incarnate beauty; the Healer who closes the wounds of earth; the Exorcist who casts out the adversaries and who washes clean the filth of the Abyss; the General, commander of the Atlantean host and the patron of the arts of war, the Guardian of all guardians; the Poet who sings the magic and the word and the patron of the Altantean tongue and its great literature; the Mathematician who express the rhythmic symphonies of the divine Mind in luminous thoughts; the Melchi of the Blue Flame, the scientist supreme that gives humanity the empowering knowledge of occult and manifest Nature; the Mad Mage, guardian of Miracles, foremost of those who practice the divine chemistry—the teacher of Atos. The 9 Atlantean Kings and the 2 Queens, the Eleven, the human faces of the Flame, Masters of science and miracles, who had conquered the highest worlds of the Flame, and manifest perfectly the eleven gifts of the wonderful Fire

There were discussions: of the future glimpsed through different threads of Light and fate, of the Flame speaking with many voices. To continue wandering under the silver stars, singing the wonders of inner beauty and outer flame—that was one way. Yet this way had been tried since time immemorial, and it was limited. The Flame had perhaps attained its fullest breadth, its greatest heights possible under the limited existence of the Atlantean nomads. The achievements of the 11 and their disciples represented the culmination of this way of life. High and splendid vistas had been conquered; the highest Kingdoms of the Flame had been secured; the way of the Shaman had reached its luminous end. The achievements of the Atlantean Prophets, their spiritual mastery and occult lore, would be unmatched for countless generations.

Yet to widen, to broaden, to allow the Flame and Spirit His fullest expression on earth, a new form of life was needed: in the safe isle of Atlantis, shielded by oceans, a civilisation of peace could flourish.

The decision was made. The 11 and their disciples would give their fullest blessings to the birth of Atlantean civilisations. Together, with the elders of the seven tribes, they laid the foundation of the Holy City; they laid the cornerstone of the future Temple of the Flame.

Only then could the Flame fully blossom, with architecture and the splendid arts, the growth of commerce and government, the golden flood of literature and philosophy, the growth of the army of Flame and the great Return to the African homelands.

Yet as the seven nations grew, as cities blossomed and commerce and agriculture expanded, the effloresecence of civlisation distracted the Atlateans from their inner pursuits, even thougj they serve as the vehicle, the medium through which the high transcendent Flame was weaved on earth. Incarnation came at a prize; a lowering, a sacrifice of the deepest and innermost.

Thus was the Flame widened in breadth, while its heart gradually became obscured, and lost, except in the dwindling numbers of the Melchis. The Melchis, though their lives were far longer than that of ordinary men, were still mortal.

A second Council was held. The Eleven and their chief disciples and all the surviving Melchis were present.

Only then could there be the Rain, the transmuting Power that transfigure.
The Melchis had become few. The growth of the population had far surpassed the growth of the Melchis. Even in the days of wandering, there were never many who were suitable for the Flame. The paths were perilous; the powers many and dangerous. Few were those of that age or any age, who chose a high transcendent Fire as their home and destiny; who were willing to cut their ties with earth—pull out all desires, even innocuous ones, obstructing pride and ego of every kind, and the blind obscurity of the body. All these had to be sacrificed and transmuted.

And unlike most of the spiritual paths of later ages, the way of the Melchis embraced the mastery of Nature from the very beginning. Knowledge of cosmic laws and powers, their mathematical dance and elegant formulations, the skilful and orderly manipulations by Word and Will—these skills were possessed by most Melchis. The King of this Art was the Melchi of the Blue Flame. In a far distant age, physical science, inspired by hidden sources, would reincarnate an echo of the lost Art. Yet the reincarnation was but a chained serpent of earth that for all its wonders, could only vaguely ape its ancestor who dwells in shining space. Though forgotten, the Melchi of the Blue Flame still reigns, still the hidden Guardian of all science.

Some Melchis chose a more dangerous path. Some Melchis perceived the Force of Miracles, a mad pell-mell Puissance that laughs on the edges of the worlds, a clash and violence and divine Gift that uses all laws and yet obeys none but the supreme Will.

The Laugh that draws the flames of the worlds, that breaks the mould and splinters the borders, that mixes reluctant bedmates and manifest the impossible. This disruptive Art, mischievous and mad, a divine chemistry, complemented the disciplined and serene Science of the Blue Flame.

Armed with Science and Miracle, and submitted to the Flame, the Melchis became the lords of nature, exerting the power of mind and spirit over all inferior energies. The Eleven, together with their own specialities, through the gifts of the Flame became Masters of miracles, the Masters of the divine Laugh. They partly reversed the helplessness that was the fruit of Adam’s fall.

Yet for all their lore and power, they could not compel their people to follow after their path. Their people could only trail behind, and had already began wandering off the way. They could not bring their people along to the luminous kingdom in which they dwell.

Finally, as visions were sifted and the words of fate fell; the great devcision was made. The 11 Melchis would perpetuate their presence eternally in 11 Vessels, Master Stones. These Stones would be complemented by a vast network of Stones around Atlantis that would in turn reflect and channel their Presence and Flame.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life's Best Defense (response to xx)

I don't have time to complete the Atlantean short story this month. Indeed, I am only an hour or so away from October. Fortunately, the comment by xxRememberedxx has given me a good idea. Tks. =)

Xx alerted me to the presence of a 'Voluntary Human Extinction Movement'. It has a very interesting website full of morbid insights and black humor (though I generally do not agree with the movement's arguments). Basically the movement believes in ending humanity to save the earth.

From that website, I read an article by James Lovelock (the sage of Gaia) predicting climatic apocalypse. At the end of the article were these interesting lines:

"Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe."

In humanity, life has become self-conscious. And we are more than that. We are life's best defense, the biosphere's only hope. Those who advocate the end of humanity, indirectly advocates the probable extinction of all life on earth.

That may sound strange when humans are such obvious villains. Yet in the long run, the sun will run out of fuel--becoming a red giant that will burn up all life on earth, before dwindling to become a dead white dwarf. For now at least, humanity is the only species that could preserve mother Gaia. There are many ways to do this. For instance, we could fly off to another star, or given that we have many billions of years to think about the problem, find a way to reverse the sun's 'natural' death. Or we can simply build a new sun. Within 400 years we have progressed from wooden boats to moon-landing crafts. What could we potentially accomplish in a few more billion years?

And in the really long run, the universe could face a 'cold death' or a 'heat death'--which amounts to the same thing for life, actually. Again, intelligence, a transcendental one in this case, is life's only hope. Out of all the species on earth, human beings have the best chance of changing cosmic destiny, of building a new universe, or simply morphing into something else altogether.

One may of course argue that human extinction may allow a kinder and sweeter intelligent species to evolve. But this is to play with odds we do not understand. What are the chances of intelligence evolving a second time? We do not really know. Given what is at stake, do we wish to gamble? And why should any successor intelligent species necessarily be any kinder or wiser?

If consciousness is valuable, if life is priceless, then I suppose we must bear with ourselves. Till something greater comes.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Where did the Atlanteans go?

Somebody has been bugging me to post. However, I am reading an extremely interesting book. Yet, I suppose I will want to keep up my one-month-one-post habit...

So nothing sophisticated.

Any faithful reader of this lonely blog would know that Atlantis is one of my pet topics. Perhaps many would wonder why a staunch Christian would indulge in such New Age 'nonsense'. This post will not offer any explanation. I would carelessly assume that Atlantis existed in some form and obliterated itself at some point. And then I would move on. This sort of speed things up a little, yea.

So, Atlantis fell. An advanced civilisation possessed of inner and outer science--a glorious achievement of humanity lasting between 5000-10000 years? Who knows? I don't. So where did the survivors go? Let us consider a few possibilities.

Scenario 1: The Atlanteans never existed and we don't really have to consider this question. Fortunately, this elegant solution has been rendered impossible by my preemptive assumption two paragraphs ago.

Scenario 2: The Atlanteans deliberately obliterated all visible signs of themselves. If the Atlanteans could wage a war that made an entire continent disappear, a thorough cleaning of this kind would not be peculiarly difficult. The bigger question is why they would trouble themselves to undertake a literally fruitless project. Indeed, why didn't they rebuild? Perhaps they could not. Too weakened, maybe dying of some mysterious plague or of monstrous insects (grasshoppers maybe). But if so, they should be too feeble to demolish their grand works. Or destruction is always more fun and easier than creation. Or perhaps at the end of the war, there was not much left to demolish. Possible too--except that there has been NO unmistakeable signs of Atlanteans or their works. If they did clean up their traces deliberately, it must have been a meticulously organised work. Still, why bother? Perhaps they wanted to be forgotten. Perhaps they knew that whatever humans can remember we can always recreate. After all, they were humans, not gods. What they could do, we certainly can do. Perhaps they looked at themselves, did not like what they see, and did not want future generations to become like them. Perhaps we have become like them, or dwarfed versions anyway, in the end. They should have saved the effort, or maybe they postponed our emulation and that might prove to be our salvation.

Scenario 3: The Atlanteans wiped out most of their works. But they deliberately left a few tantalising hints of their presence. They even left their technology or magic intact somewhere. While the field of pyramids and sphinx have inspired many books from the lunatic fringe, there is a particularly interesting (and sane) book by geologist Robert M. Schoch called 'Pyramid Quest' (published 2005) that summarises many of the interesting mysteries of the Giza complex. One of them happens to be the water erosion features of the Sphinx, with all that may entail. Certainly I think the book makes a pretty convincing case that conventional Egyptology may have severely underestimated the date of construction of the pyramids and the Sphinx. An Atlantean connection? Maybe.

Guess it may also have the 'feel' of Giza itself that has inspired so much interest. I certainly cannot forget it though it has been 9 years since I left it.

New Age? Who cares. I seek truth wherever it is found. What is madness in one age will turn out to be the genius of another. Though that may imply another age of waiting.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Economics and Ethics III

This post is more accurately called ‘Financial Economics and Spirituality’.

It is relatively easy to believe that one can breath the rarefied air of spirituality while serving as a doctor, a nurse, a social worker or a teacher. After all, Christ himself is a teacher, a healer, a contemplative and a servant.

But can pursuing a vocation in finance be a way to divine union? Can a CEO of a bank, a branch manager, the Federal Reserve Chairman, the Finance Minister, an accountant tread an alternative journey into the divine darkness and light?

Just a short consideration on what the ‘commandments’ of a financial spirituality would look like:

Love the Spirit of Finance with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Wisdom, power and authority are from God. We believe that political kings can be anointed and that bishops and priests are endowed with sacred Power by the Holy Spirit. Is it therefore anything strange, if the kings of wealth, the captains of our financial institutions, have an anointing of their own? And by further extension, is it so unusual if finance workers in general have this anointing too, though to a lesser degree?

Indeed, both reason and inner experience can verify that the Spirit of God moves in the world of finance, as it moves in the world of politics, education, medicine or religion. A divine Fire, similar in essence though not in external manifestation to the Spirit that graces a Church or a school or a hospital, can be found illuminating the institutions of finance.

The catch is that generally people are attracted to a financial vocation not by any spiritual calling, but by the prospect of riches. Love money with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength is the implicit guiding principle of many who work in this field. The gifts of the Spirit, the power to multiply metaphorical or literal bread, are typically misused for egotistic ends.

Yet the true apex of finance is not to be the Federal Reserve Chairman or a ‘Master of the Universe’ or the richest human on earth. The true acme of financial achievement is to be completely one with the Spirit that governs all finance, to be a servant-king that shares the throne of the Lord (Revelations 3:21). And the first condition must be to eradicate all love of money, for such idolatry can only hinder one’s upward thrust—God admits to his presence only those who sincerely love Him for his own sake, and not those who hypocritically seek Him for earthly riches. Given the function and gifts of the Spirit of finance, the love of money is an especially potent temptation and deviation.

‘Love one another as I have loved you.’

The foundation of true love is obedience. One cannot really love God without at the same time seeking and obeying his Will. And one cannot fulfill His will thoroughly unless one is set aflame by Love divine.

Thus one seeks to love the Spirit of Finance by obedience. And by obedience, one finds love that brings obedience to perfection.

And in this realm, what would the will of the Spirit be? To govern financial resources, however much or little, with prudence, vision and a spirit of stewardship; to serve, to give oneself generously to one’s clients; to multiply wealth and bread for all, to promote the larger financial interests of one’s country or even the world. And ultimately, to do all these because it is the divine Will to do so, with no attachment to external reward or fame.

And the real reward? The increasing Presence of the Fire, His light and bliss and inner riches. And an increasing capacity and wisdom to govern wealth and to use it well. And an increasingly boundless and illimitable authority over the forces of wealth

Patience and the Dark Night

Finance and commerce are fields where the powers and principles of earth and darkness hold almost complete sway. Given the nature of these disciplines, this is of course understandable, and to some extent, inevitable.

To bring the fire of spirituality to these fields would be a long, arduous task. The doors would not open with ease. Even with grace. Much patience is needed, especially in the purgation process where one’s desires for money are potent and recurrent and natural. True, the Spirit and his messengers are the ultimate governors of finance—but many too, are the forces who work on the dark and egotistic minds and spirits that are common in this field.

For precisely because the rewards of this path potentially include the fruits that the children of earth most covet: money, worldly power, fame, success, vainglory and so on, the nature of the aspirant must go through a thorough cleansing before the inner revelation of the Spirit of Finance can be thorough. One must be thoroughly sincere and be free hidden agendas and the chains of darkness.

Needless to say, it is a long wait. Yet a divine finance is no impossible chimera, but one strand in the eventual transformation of the earth.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Labor Day

Labor day.

‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’ For those who are convinced that true joy can only be found in God, in the Divine, in a Fire that transcends our human bounds, there can only be one way to live: to do what is right, even when, well, we do not always know what is right. To obey the inner fire when it comes, or our best moral sense and conscience, is the indispensable foundation of a spiritual life—a life in which we seek to know and taste the love and wonders of God.

We have faith because we choose to obey the One who demands faith. We seek God because it is his will. We yearn for him because he yearns for us. We walk in his way into loneliness, contempt, misunderstandings, betrayals and darkness. We bear the Cross and the crown of thorns and the whips and scourges of friends and foes visible and invisible. We walk, because we know that the resurrection follows the cross, and always has and always will.

We walk, for great dawns have flaming come after countless nights,. We walk, because our prize is Christ and his Fire.

And if the Lord calls us to loneliness, to places where no one can understand your actions, your thinking, your real aims...when one is excluded even from the communities that should rightly be home, the communities that ought to be our solace in our painful flight, when one is excluded from the Fire yet to come, yet destined in one’s heart and in luminous oceans above, when one believes things that no one else does, when even one’s own mind and heart can curl in contempt at thoughts and visions—then may your will be done, Lord.

Yet even in the darkest night we know we will not be down in this strange and winding and lonely path, if One has not willed it. And it is ultimately for the good of all. Though why this must be the way I do not know.

Home, home, home. So far, far away. The love we seek too, far away, yet growing, growing. Light, kindly Light, strange Light, new Light, that dawns anew and yet old on this earth? When will people understand?

One must walk on, burdened by earth and sin, till there is only Flame.

It is labor day.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Was asked to reflect on the question on how to cater to the differing needs of pupils. An answer:

By being humble, by never giving up, by caring.

Perhaps we take on a new class, anxious to impose a 1-Year Plan honed by years of successful experience. We have the goals, we have the means, we have the knowledge, and we efficiently churn out identical academic merchandise of high quality. Faced with stubborn materials and deviating wills, we attempt to melt and break so that a greater good can be served--good as we define it.  And perhaps most are happy with the results attained. Parents and most students leave with desired grades and a flat contentment made possible by their ignorance of greater possibilities. Those who are shrivelled by this approach are deemed misfits, rebels and under-achievers and discarded in the scrap heap to be recycled into appropriate streams. Principals and school leaders credit the efficient teacher for his productivity and reliability. Perhaps he gets promoted and re-creates an entire school in his image. Surely, a good educator is one trusted to churn out uniform rows and rows of identical 'A's through One True Plan, and cloning such good educators will be for the greater good of human civilisation.  

Industrial production is highly efficient when mass-producing material goods. But in education, we are dealing with infinitely complex spirits, minds, wills, bodies.  In literature, one can read of how several beings can reside in one body, how the darkest soul can harbor flaming stars, how the saint may shroud the beast, how strength may be a portent of greatest weakness, and how folly is often the sage-child destined for Wisdom's crown. Not only are we immensely different from each other, we are seldom what we seem. And we are usually not what we could be, for we are each capable of transfiguration. Gnothi seauton, know thyself, advises the Greek, and this is already a formidable task. How then can we stand before the wonder of another human being and purports to know what is in another person, and more, what is best for the other person?

We can only guess. And make the best guess we can till the dawn comes. Humility is the appropriate attitude for the wise teacher who knows that we do not truly know. To recognise that we too, like our pupils, are on a quest of understanding. To be humble, and to strive on persistently, to always seek to know the depths of our pupils, to know their needs, their abilities, manifest or hidden, and their ways of learning and receiving, their dreams. This cannot be done by one survey, one talk, or a cursory glance--the teacher must persevere to love and to understand, and perhaps still, at the end of it all, to be satisfied with half-lights and many shadows. To endure the pain of frequent failure, of being unable to reach the hearts and minds of our pupils and to aid them on their journey, to endure the even greater pain of being an unwitting obstacle on the path of one's students--this is the steep path of a teacher who seeks to bring out the deepest and best in his pupils, to bring out the unique gifts that they and only they can give the world.  

To bring out what is hidden, to bring out what is true and not merely to impart a superficial good.To awaken understanding and passion in ways that enrich and not smother the hidden symphonies of unique souls--because we care.    If that is what we believe in, if we care, then to cater to the needs of one's pupils consist primarily not of technique or methodologies, though techniques and methodologies have their place and are required. The essence of true education is passion, vision and perseverance. Of a soul willing to stumble in darkness for love, and stumble on, till destined flames rise triumphant in the night.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Economics and Ethics II

I realised belatedly that the month of Feb has come to an end and I have yet to post anything!

A quick and (unfortunately) somewhat raw piece:

When a person obtains a substantial stash of cash, he gets richer. But when a nation increases its stock of money, it very often ends up poorer. In the 16th-17th century, Spain imported huge stocks of silver from its mines in South America, especially the fabled caverns of Potosi. And for a while, it was good. Its financial and military power appeared supreme. Yet, as the supply of silver, which was essentially money in those days, grew without any proportional increase in its demand, the value of silver began to fall. Or to put it another way, prices across the continent began a steady climb. Spain’s silver mountains did not in the end translate into lasting wealth. Inflation took away much of the silvery lustre, and tempted by financial hubris into unsustainable wars, Spain soon lost its brief place in the sun.

Put succinctly, the wealth of nations does not consist of silver or gold or dollars. Nor does finding caves of gold or silver, or printing lots of money, translate by themselves into the true wealth of nations.

Real national wealth, as Adam Smith pointed out 200 years ago, is the amount of goods and services produced in a nation, which in turn is inextricably related to the productivity of its citizens. Money is fundamentally a medium of exchange that circulates a given amount of goods and services. If we increase the stock of money but do not proportionally increase the goods and services it is meant to circulate, the value of money falls, or to put it another way, the prices of goods and services increase. Money is only worth as much as the amount of goods and services it can command or circulate, and it can only serve as a store of value, of wealth, if it is suitably scarce.

And thus economics supports the notion that the real determinant of national wealth is more the values of its citizens, than the amount of gold/money stashed in everyone’s coffers. Simple old-fashioned diligence, frugality and integrity are the foundations of productivity and true prosperity:

A hardworking population is one that is inherently more productive than a lazy population with the same skills and technology. Beyond that, diligent workers are more likely to discover technological innovations (if only because they spend a longer time at their jobs and are more motivated to do their jobs better) that elevate productivity. For the young, diligence tends to improve educational achievement, and hence increase the accumulation of productivity-enhancing human capital. And in the long run, a more highly skilled population in turn is more able to innovate.

A thrifty population is one that saves. Ignoring the conditions of a financial panic (where lending can grind to a halt), higher saving rates generally leads to greater investment in productivity-enhancing capital goods and innovations. One main reason is that interest rates tend to fall in nations with high saving rates (due to the abundant supply of loanable funds), easing credit conditions and thus promoting business and government investment.

A population with integrity is one in which contracts are respected and where trade can flourish. The main utility and marvel of trade is that it allows specialisation, allowing individuals and nations to produce goods and services that they are best at (they produce in their areas of comparative advantage). This in turn increases productivity and national wealth. Trust, which results from a citizenry with integrity, is also the foundation of finance, which oils the wheels of commerce and industry.

It is therefore not so much accumulated cash that increases wealth, but accumulated virtue.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Economics and Ethics I

Economics helps us to navigate in a world of scarcity. It helps us to make the best use of finite resources to satisfy our unlimited desires, and helps us to make intelligent decisions based on a rational evaluation of costs and benefits.

Thus economics is concerned with efficiency, satisfaction and costs. It does not obviously have anything to do with man’s ethical endeavors—especially if we take the traditional view of virtue-ethics where an ethical life is one that is lived according to certain values, like the four cardinal virtues of classical culture: temperance, wisdom, justice and prudence.

Yet when we analyse problems according to economics, it guides us quite consistently to actions and choices that could quite rightly be considered ‘virtuous’. As I hope to show in a series of articles, the rational life recommended by economic analysis overlaps significantly with the virtuous life recommended by the great ethical and religious systems of the world.

My first article will discuss the concept of utility and its implications.

Utility refers to the satisfaction, the pleasure, received by human beings. While most economists today do not think we can precisely measure utility or compare the quantities of utility received by different individuals at different times (though it was once believed that utility could be quantified objectively and rendered into units called utils), the theories and principles based on the concept of utility remain insightful and apt descriptions of human psychology and economic behavior.

First, we consider the law of diminishing marginal utility.

There can be no doubt that we derive much greater utility from the first unit of any good consumed, as compared to say, the hundredth consecutive unit consumed. The first cheeseburger may taste great and yield enormous utility, but the seventh cheeseburger eaten at the same meal may well be a torment (negative utility). Your first washing machine may well be greeted with ecstasy, but the tenth washing machine purchased would likely bring as much joy as an equivalent amount of scrap metal and plastic (assuming you cannot easily sell the machine). Thus marginal utility, the additional utility brought about by one additional unit of goods/services consumed, falls as the consumption of a particular good/service rises.

In essence, the law of diminishing marginal utility implies that the total satisfaction (the total utility) from any material good is inherently limited, since the marginal utility from consuming consecutive units of that good falls, and will turn eventually to disutility (negative utility) beyond a certain point. Economics does not tell us that money cannot buy happiness; indeed, it can, to a limited extent. But it buys happiness at an ever-decreasing rate.

Indeed, this fundamental insight is encapsulated in the principle that the marginal utility of money itself diminishes as income grows. The more money you have, the higher your total consumption of all goods and services, and the less utility you will gain from an increase in consumption made possible by an increase in income. A naked beggar in Mumbai may value a 1 rupee increase in income as much as life itself, it being a last defense against starvation and death. A 1 rupee income increase for an investment banker in Mumbai’s finance district with an annual income of 100,000 rupees may mean little to nothing. The increase in consumption to the investment banker is simply not meaningful in terms of utility, given what he is already consuming.

Greed, therefore, is not good. To pile up mountains of gold for selfish use is a highly inefficient way to gain happiness in a world of scarce resources—of scarce time, especially. It appears that the law of diminishing marginal utility counsels us to lead a life of temperance. When consuming any material good, there is a point which we should not pass if we wish to maximise our enjoyment. To enjoy in moderation is both an economical and ethical way to proceed. And once a certain amount of material wealth is secured, it is no longer efficient to continue hoarding. At some point, one should stop looking at wealth as a means of increasing personal consumption—perhaps one could derive greater happiness from giving it away. Perhaps one could undertake or promote the creation of art and beauty, the pursuit of knowledge, of justice, of God himself.

In addition, as JS Mill long ago pointed out, the diminishing utility of income is one of the strongest reasons for the redistribution of wealth. Removing $100 from Bill Gates will cause hardly a twinge of sorrow, but giving it to a beggar in downtown Seattle vastly increases utility. The sum of social utility thus increases when income is redistributed from the rich to the poor. Indeed, in an idealised case where redistribution is cost-free, and where the marginal utility function is similar for all human beings, the optimal social outcome is one in which incomes are similar for all. Of course, given the very real costs of redistribution, like the reduced incentives to work (for the rich) and the administrative costs of any redistribution program, the optimal outcome is still one of economic inequality.

But the basic implication of the diminishing utility of income remains: redistribution of wealth is one of the most important ways to increase the happiness of society as a whole. Economics thus supports, with rational justifications, the ideals of social justice recommended by most, if not all, the great religions and ethical systems of humanity.