17 September 2012

Shall we read all the bibles we come across?



'Ask the beasts and they will teach you; and the birds of the air and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you.  Who amongst all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?’
                                                                           (Job 12: 7-9)

The above was sent to me by someone who advises, agrees with me at times and sometimes disagrees, chides gently and is a dear, dear friend.  I am sure she knew that reading the above, the first thought-response would be, ‘I’.  I don’t attribute the unknown to divinity, particularly since I know that the sum total of human knowledge is but a speck of dust compared to the universe of our collective ignorance and therefore it is pretty presumptuous to make emphatic pronouncements.  This is not to say of course that belief and faith are silly.  But my friend, who knows me through and through, knew my answer, so she prefaced the quote with the following:

‘Came across this in my reading today. Thought you would like the music of the language.’
  
Yes, I do.  It reminded me of a note accompanying a gift.  Gerard Raymond, one my late mother’s favorite students, just before he left for New York in the early eighties, gave her a copy of the Holy Bible.  This is what was in that note (paraphrased of course):

‘Dear Madam, this is the greatest literary work I know.’

Speaking strictly for myself, the greatest literature has been the words of Siddhartha Gauthama.  For economy of word, musicality and weight of content, nothing surpasses the sutras, for me, and I interject, ‘I haven’t read all the books nor listened to all the stories in the world from the moment “word” came into being’. 

I am in total agreement with the quote, apart from the query at the end.  It is beautifully put.  A lot of literature can be read as re-wording of this verse.  On the other hand, these lines can be read as reiteration of the essential teachings of the satipattana sutta. 

‘Job’.  A friend, a devout Christian, speaking to me of the trials he has had to undergo of late, spoke of ‘Job’ and those other, more frequently referenced trials.  He was in tears.  I am not a teacher nor prophet nor priest.  All I knew was that he was strong in his faith and I told him that he should remain strong. 

Books inspire.  Good books.  The Bible is a beautiful book.  It inspires even non-believers.  We read according to where we are, who we are, the roads we have walked and the people and ideas we have encountered.  I am not as familiar with the Holy Quran but I have on occasion asked my Muslim friends what Prophet Muhammad has said about one thing or another and they have sent me things to read. 

Beautifully written.  Made a lot of sense.  I, being an atheist, as I said before, drop the divinity part of it, but that does not mean I am not inspired, empowered or enlightened in some way.

Beasts, birds, fish and the earth.  They are metaphors.  Each book is a fish.  Each page a bird.  Each line is a beast.  And each word a particle of earth.  If we want to see it that way.  There are teachers everywhere and there is teaching in all kinds of places.  There are Bibles and there are Bibles.  Some have ‘Holy’ inscribed on cover, but some come without signature. 

It is good to read. 


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3 comments:

Dr. Edward Perera said...

It is not ultimately the "supreme God" or a kind of divinity that decides our destiny but we human beings through our continuous commitment in maintaining mutual understanding, respect and altruism will draw the shape and the size of respective "God" in each human faith.

All the religious statues, paintings and symbols are made by talented human beings and these symbols are regularly worshipped by the other generations in future enabling all these "Gods" and deities to survive on in this planet.

I don't hesitate to "worship" these great artists who converted their marvellous talents to wonderful carvings and paintings. I found the divinity in their talents ans motivation.

PNG said...

I wish ( an impossible dream) that no one is born to a 'faith.

But has to select his or her faith and beliefs later in life.

I agree with Dr. Perera.

Anonymous said...

why is this an 'impossible dream'?
Being 'born to a faith' should not deter anyone from studying other options and making different choices later. Many people do.