Friday, 26 October 2007

Another Conversation With A Christian Perhaps: "What Dreams May Come"

*************************************************************************************
Further to the last "conversation" I was wondering if CP would be willing to continue "cakap kosong" with me in a seemingly pointless conversation. The following is my post to that effect:

From: Cheah Keat Swee
Sent: 26 October, 2007 02.05 AM
Subject: For CP. What Dreams May Come


Dear CP,

Once again, I would thank you for the recent conversation. It was indeed meant only to be a conversation and nothing more. As in any conversation the “to each his own” premise is well underpinned. Superfluous to even mention it, I should think.

Perhaps you could humor me some more. I would like to refer to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be,” Hamlet wonders whether to commit suicide in the face of overwhelming misery and anxiety.
…….To die, to sleep;
To sleep; perchance to dream: aye there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

Are you familiar with the above?

KS
.......CONTINUES IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

22 comments:

Suet Fun said...

KS/CP

Another take on the afterlife by one of my favourite poets, poet laureate B.Collins.

Afterlife - by Billy Collins

While you are preparing for sleep, brushing your teeth
or riffling through a magazine in bed
the dead of the day are setting out on their journey

They are moving off in all imaginable directions
each according to his own belief
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal
that everyone is right, as it turns out
You go to the place you always thought you would go
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head

Some are being shot up a funnel of flashing colours
into a zone of light, white as a January sun
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air-conditioned room full of food and chorus girls

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals - eagles and leopards - one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit
ready to begin another life in a more simple key

while others float off into some benign vagueness
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves
He will bring them to the mouth of a furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they would return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow


Suet

Nic Ong said...

Suet, this is funny and sad at the same time. It helps one to see life differently, don’t waste it, and just do it now (whatever you have been dreaming to do).

If my conscious can live on after I die, I want to look horribly ugly, and wish people can see me, so that I can scare the shit out of them. (evil laugh.. her-ha-ha-ha-ha..)

I doubt that can happen - the conscious after death part.

Ok, back to work.



nic

Suet Fun said...

Nic, that's why I really like B.Collins. He's smart and funny and profound. A rare combo. We rarely get A Happy Meal in real life, and if someone hands us one, we should be so grateful. :) Have a great day, and so sorry we could not catch up last couple of days.

Check this one out (from "The Apple That Astonished Paris")

Introduction to poetry

I asked them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a colour slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe its way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


Suet

Ching Pin said...

KS,

To answer your original question, yes, I am familiar with the passage from Hamlet. In fact I just recently bought a complete edition of Shakespeare's works to replace the copy that I gave away when I left Singapore.

I think the extract you quoted shows Hamlet hesitating about committing suicide because he was afraid of "what dreams may come" after death.

I have not seen the movie "What Dreams May Come" that you mentioned some time ago when I brought up the movie "Dead Poets Society".

Nic & Suet

Let me share a very touching poem that was read out to the deceased at a recent Christian funeral that I attended.

CP

LEAVE-TAKING
By Sandra Bury

When the coming of your death
Became an awareness on the planet
Some wondrous events began.
The word went out that you were preparing to leave,
To leave this place that you call home.

The word was heard by the wind
And it promised to blow
Under you and push you.

The clouds heard the wind and billowed for joy.
"You may land on us and float for a while."

The rain said, "I'll wash the air clean,"
While each star polished itself to a brilliant shine.

In the presence of your impending death the earth prepared to send
you forth.
The gravity that has held you so tightly began to lose
its grip.
It called, "Let loose, Let loose,
Let loose and fly."

As you began to float, a squirrel noticed and remembered how you
saved,
Saved those things that were important.

He told the rabbit, who told the turtle, who told the bird.
"She's coming," they whispered.
The bird sang your memories a joyous release.
The song was heard by a lone wolf.

The lone wolf stood on a cold tundra howling her appreciation of all
the lessons you learned so well.

Some distant great pines heard the howl and knew of your leaving.
They swayed, releasing their fragrance to waft with you.

The fragrance was gathered in by the swiftest of hawks, flown high
with the wisdom that the great hawks knows.

The hawk told a passing eagle who swooped and soared until,
Finding your spirit loose on the wind,
Carried it forward to a joyous rainbow.

The rainbow said, "Come, I've been waiting.
The colors are all for you!"

When the moon heard this, it shouted
"Prepare! A life well lived is approaching!"

The stars again polished their shine
Until the illumination penetrated the system.

Your soul saw and knew it was going home.
Home to the light, home to the sun and home beyond home, beyond home.

And it met with all that it had always known:
The silent and brilliant mystery.
The source.

The entire mystery burst with the splendor of
"welcome, welcome, we have been waiting."
The source, with all the ancestors gathered round,
Enfolded you and danced your coming.

While far away, in the world you had known,
A group of your loves and friends
Gathered to speak your praises,
To sing your leaving and
To forever remember.

KSCheah said...

Hi SF/Nic

SF, simple and nice just like your own succinct style - small wonder why Billy Collins is one of your favorites.

I think BC was inspired by the Vedas. His “Afterlife” is a potpourri of afterlife possibilities depending on the individual’s belief and this is what the rishis or sages of Vedic India spoke of – Akasha (and the so called secret that Lazarus was silent about). This Akasha or field of consciousness is probably also that which Nic is doubtful about.


KS

KSCheah said...

CP,

It’s the tail trying to wag the dog actually. That movie was titled quoting Shakespeare (both literally and contextually) and I was actually trying to draw your attention to the movie. You are right about me mentioning the movie quite a while ago; at least longer than the time (after my Jeannie’s passing) I seem to be overtly “fixated” with the subject of death/life.

I am sure you are familiar with the oxymoron, “virtual reality”. Can you see a reason how this may not actually be an oxymoron?


KS

KSCheah said...

SF,

Replacing esotericism with perception eroticism……….perceive whichever way we want; which can give a ccok stand mah….Hahahaha

KS
-----------------------------------
From: Edwardian_Tigers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Edwardian_Tigers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Suet Fun Liew
Sent: 26 October 2007 10:48
To: dwardian_Tigers@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: For CP. What Dreams May Come

Nic, that's why I really like B.Collins. He's smart and funny and profound. A rare combo. We rarely get A Happy Meal in real life, and if someone hands us one, we should be so grateful. :) Have a great day, and so sorry we could not catch up last couple of days.

Check this one out (from "The Apple That Astonished Paris")

Introduction to poetry

I asked them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a colour slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe its way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do is
tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Suet Fun said...

End to end, the spectrum offers interesting options and yup, whatever turns you on.:)

Suet

Nic Ong said...

Suet, I like this one too, how true.

No worries, we can catch up again another time. Go have your single malt and enjoy the wonder years.


nic

Nic Ong said...

CP, thanks for sharing. Pretty new age.


nic

Ching Pin said...

KS,

The family of the deceased requested for the poem to be included in the funeral order of service, and apparently the officiating pastor had no objection.

CP

KSCheah said...

My thoughts exactly Nic. That was why I asked CP.

It sounded more like pantheism or panentheism.

KS

-------------------------------

In Edwardian_Tigers@yahoogroups.com,"Nicholas ONG" wrote:

CP, thanks for sharing. Pretty new age.

nic

http://cynicviews.blogspot.com/

Suet Fun said...

End to end, the spectrum offers interesting options and yup, whatever turns you on.:)


Suet

----- Original Message ----
From: Cheah
Subject: RE: For CP. What Dreams May Come

SF,

Replacing esotericism with perception eroticism……….perceive whichever way we want; which can give a ccok stand mah….Hahahaha



KS

Ching Pin said...

Nic/KS

I don't think the poem was meant to be taken literally. It's an example of personification, where inanimate objects and animals are represented as speaking like human beings.

CP

---"tygremania" cheah wrote:

My thoughts exactly Nic. That was why I asked CP.

It sounded more like pantheism or panentheism.

KS

Suet Fun said...

CP

Thanks for the poem. The Hindus believe that the atman (individual soul) eventually returns to the Brahman (great /collective soul), and in many beliefs this is echoed in different ways. Wordsworth touted pantheism and repeatedly spoke of nature as a teacher, mother, lover and indeed a part of Man, as Man is part of nature.

KS/CP/Nic

And so our minds seek answers. When I lost my father and mother, 20 years apart from each, I found that whether I was 25 or 45, I was no wiser to understand the vagaries of our existence. Who, indeed says wisdom comes with age? We may think we understand, we may think we can rationalise, we think we may have been through it all. But when we lose those whom we love, the nearest and the best to us, we are hopelessly lost.

There are no answers, only stories. And maybe dreams, hopes. And while all that fills the arc of our existence, before and after, what we only have is now. The blinding, irrevocable truth. Make good then.


Suet

Nic Ong said...

Suet,

Yes, you’re right, for everything that we debated about - before & after, what we really need & have to live is, now.

(eh.. that will actually bring me back to atheism….ha!) Good weekend.

nic

KSCheah said...

Nic,

The “now” factor may be a fallacy and that was the reason why I was talking to CP about linear time. I was very much like you and shifted from being an atheist to an agnostic to a secular humanist to now, enquiring (not searching). I try to be “detached” as your recently posted article says.

I used to think that if I lived my life according to certain precepts like; do not kill, do not steal, helping others to the best of your ability, etc. I would be in Heaven if there is such a thing. Anything to do with the magnitude and creation of the universe I felt was superfluous to try to understand so why knock my head against the wall? I had and have no need for Religion which I believe, is Man interpreted. I for one cannot live by Faith alone.

I think I can define the conceptual framework of my beliefs by quoting Spinoza: “God is not He who is, but That which is”

It is the “That” which I am enquiring by exploring.

KS

Suet Fun said...

Whatever you conceive Him to be, or not

Nic,

Ah...a mind-bending subject-God, or not. Wars have been fought, dinners have been left cold, gloves-off polemics exchanged for all eternity. In my limited experience, no one has ever been able to persuade another to agree amicably, except when they embrace, unequivocally, the same faith. However, it makes for a riveting discussion. :)

If there's a god, he will be highly amused that we labour so hard, so long to disagree on his existence, or his nature.

If there's no god, well, its more mental masturbation or stubborn persistence to convince everyone we are right.

All this, while life passes by and we play at god by creating right-angled watermelons and black tomato sauce. Sum total of years of evolution.


Have a great week,

Suet

KSCheah said...

SF,

I do not think anyone was preaching here and as CP put it, “to each his own”. What I cannot understand was his reluctance to engage in further “conversation” as if the literal Christian abhors logic. Honestly, I was and am searching; mental masturbation perhaps. I was not trying to convince anyone otherwise.

Since CP is the closest thing here to an authority on Christianity (I know Liz goes to church too) I wanted to get a perspective. Actually, CP’s conversation was essentially with Deepak Chopra! I was comparing two schools (Hindu/Christian) of thought about mortality.

This country would be a better place if more of us can talk openly about our beliefs and non-beliefs, rather than just pay lip service to our so called multi-cultural and multi-religious society and co-existence. Take Islam for instance, if most Muslims here think it is sacrilegious for a non-Muslim to discuss Islam, why was there an impressive array of local Islamic intelligentsia hanging on to every word that came out of Karen Armstrong’s mouth recently. I can only conclude that they would not think so.

Hidup Bangsa Malaysia!


KS

Suet Fun said...

KS

I have been following the discussion with keen interest, and understand your thread. My personal opinion is that no matter how many books we read, no matter who we listen to, the answer is in our hearts. Whoever created us knew what he was doing, because I believe we have a built-in capacity to recognise good and bad, and understand right and wrong. When I say heart, I speak not merely about emotions, but a kind of heightened awareness of ourselves and the world around us. When we respond at that level, without the "domestication" of teaching, maybe we find the kernel of our existence. Maybe.

I must confess that I generally distrust organised religion and thought, believing that our own intellectual take is often flawed by our personal prejudices and predilection. That our own stabs at intellectualizing the nature of life and the universe may often be shrouded by our personal motives, sometimes at a sub-conscious level, sometimes on a very conscious, deliberate level.

As for bangsa Malaysia, as long as there is institutionalised segregation, I don't believe its evolution is possible. Its lip service and feel good, but the walls keep growing.

"The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity"

Suet

KSCheah said...

SF,

I think any reflection on religious/spiritual/life cannot and should not be divorced from personal prejudices, predilection and motives. As the person doing the reflecting, continuous introspection is critical for me. I agree that “our own stabs at intellectualizing the nature of life and the universe may often be shrouded by our personal motives” and this is always at the back of my mind; I try to be consciously aware even of the sub-conscious and of course the deliberate. Introspection.

The walls of institutionalized segregation can only be torn down by those who “benefit” from it. I think what we are witnessing with the “growing walls” is utter paranoia and panic in the face of unexpected public reactions to matters that were once consider sacred or taboo. Feel good for whom? It can only get worse before it can get better. Let’s hope it would not be too late for the nation.


KS

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