Friday, December 25, 2015

The Edge of Epiphany

"This is the very perfection of man: to find out his own imperfections" - St Augustine

For a while I've been wanting to write. There have been too many things hovering in my mind and I want to put them into words so that I may transcend their apparent confusion and see them in the light of understanding. Furthermore, it is year-end and Christmas day--usually the time where I take stock of things, where I am now and where I will I be heading.

Or perhaps I'm just looking for an opportunity to rant. There have been things that disturbed me lately and I'd like to get them off my chest. As I write this, Christmas fireworks are going off in the night, redolent of many forgotten festivities of my childhood years.

I write these words here in my hometown--the house where I grew up in. The same table where I sat, poring over interminable pages of tedious textbooks, in preparation for many a dreaded exams.

I've come a long way since, and yet strangely, I'm kind of back to where I began. I was a boy, seeking the Truth. I am now a man with a glimpse of the Truth--like the astronaut Bowman of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as he make the final descend into the mysterious alien Monolith ("My God, it's full of stars!").

All of my life's pursuits--the science, the history, the travels and my entrepreneurial quests, are but attempts to grasp the Eternal Mystery. Everything I do has been, at its core, spiritual in nature. That is the inescapable conclusion that I've come to realize.

I see around me people who have found their calling in the religion of their choice. They have their moments of epiphany and then latch on to what they believe is the Ultimate Answer, one which gives them a purpose and a compass for living. Each believe that they are on the right path, and sometimes exclusively so.

My life's experiences have taught me that at every point in your life, you are like a mountaineer who has scaled what you think is the highest pinnacle, only to find, beyond it, are peaks much higher, with promises of even grander views.

Religion is like that. It provides you with the paths, the tracks, the ropes and harnesses to secure you up the mountaintop. You are promised great views from that vantage points, vistas that will bring tears of ecstasy to your eyes. And yes they often do. The trouble is, they tend to make you stay rooted to the very spot. You look down and yell at the people below you: "Over here, over here!". The view here is stunning. Follow my path; use this track; avoid those pitfalls.

Little do you know, that the journey has only just begun. How little have you seen. How easily deceived you have been with the little epiphanies that you've managed to stumble upon--like an astronomer who raves on the grandeur of the solar system without realizing the greater immensity of stars, galaxies and universes out there.

How important should religion be? As important as the scaffolding that enables a skyscraper to be built. The end-goal is the skyscraper, not the scaffolding. One must not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

What religion should teach us is humility. Humility in the face of awe. Humility in the light of insight. The humility to admit that we don't know more than the next person before us. The idolater is no better or no worse than the one who prostates himself before an invisible Almighty.

We are ultimately, all fellow travellers on the spiritual path. There are still many twists and turns on the path ahead. And when you reach the edge of an apparent epiphany, be extra careful: it could be a very slippery slope.

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