Articles and Opinion
Answers to questions on serious topics
Forgiveness, 9//11 Attacks, Karma and Being Late
I'm an atheist. I think you are having delusions. You remind me of an old man reading books who cannot differentiate reality from illusion. What can u say about that?
First I would like to thank you for being honest, direct to the point and for using polite language. I am not lost in delusions and I know fact and reality from illusion. It is a problem really for outsiders, specially for atheist who want proof of everything, to believe in God. I would like very much to pray for you and save your soul but I cannot. You have to stand on your own two feet.
I have read your article about forgiveness. The reason that we ask forgiveness from somebody is that we have done something wrong to him, and being frail humans, we will likely to be committing the same blunder. You propose so many things in your article but you have discounted the fact that it is precisely from God from whom we are asking forgiveness because as humans we are both weak and frail.
The reason I stay away from Christianity is just as what you have said. The followers of that religion are portrayed as weaklings and meek as lambs wherein they have to turn to God for their frailty. What they should realize is they have the strength in themselves to correct their mistakes, accept penance for them, and to repay their debts in some other way. The founders of the religion in the old days wanted to have a hold on their followers so they taught them that they are weak and that they need God to overcome their mistakes and if they were not forgiven by the party whom they had wronged, God will understand and forgive them nevertheless and everything will be alright. Forgiveness, you know, does not come from anybody else or from any God. Neither is a man forgiven because he suddenly desires to change; he is forgiven when he takes action to right the wrong he has committed.
Sometime during my career as an employee, I had worked for different bosses. There was a bunch of these guys who would find fault at everything but after a minute of light reflection or so would say "sorry" to us employees. Saying sorry was a habitual utterance for them but what good was it if the other fellow was already insulted or inured? The word had lost its meaning and it was totally inconceivable to them to follow up their remorse with a kind action. I believe that if religions do not teach that God is so readily accommodating and forgiving of the mistakes of the followers, then they will exercise more caution before acting and harming somebody.
It is very well to believe in a God who is all forgiving in one was living during the early times of the church when people were a bit more simple and naive to help them clean their guilt and conscience so they could carry on with their daily life, but today this concept is being abused and stretched.
What I am teaching is that the act of forgiveness does not stem from a divine source, but a virtue or characteristic which man can definitely take action himself to receive it. What I am teaching is not penance. Penance is the act of contrition whereby the sinner tries to repay or erase his sins by some kind of suffering or positive action. I have divided the virtue of forgiveness into three separate acts: correcting or righting the mistake which had been done, accepting gracefully the punishment imposed as a result of the sin committed, and offering a positive action as "extra" which is different from the correcting measures earlier mentioned. It may be noticed that I did not mention "sincere repentance" and "avoidance of repetition of commission". The reason is that although sincerity might be genuine, it does not affect anything outside the person feeling it. Many a criminal might have sincerely felt regret and remorse over their horrible actions at one time in their lives, but these feelings must be translated into corrective and beneficial measures and actions to receive forgiveness. It is the mark of the hypocrite to cry and ask for mercy without exerting any physical effort to correct his mistake.
Society takes steps, too, to ensure the nonrepetition of commission of serious offenses to protect its members and offering them an environment of security to carry on with their meaningful endeavors. This is the purpose of penalties and fines, imprisonment, exile and banishment.
What do you think of the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S.?
Terrorism is one of the worst acts to hit modern society. It targets innocent, unarmed civilians without warning; it does not target the military, but the ordinary citizen to achieve a shocking effect. It tries to strike fear in the citizenry and in the government it wants to destroy. Whether it is for an idealist, political or religious cause, it does not justify the murder and carnage as a result, and instead of frightening the government or institution it tries to topple, it just make the authorities more resolved to go after them. Terrorists, in their pursuit of their ideals, have forgotten that those who are in the government and in power will not just step down. Civilized society abhors violence but when it is threatened or attacked there is no reason for it not to use forceful military solutions.
After the Americans had destroyed most of the Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, they went to the Philippines for a joint Philippine-US military exercise which had been planned before September 11. When the US forces arrived in the country, there were demonstrations and rallies against the Philippine government for supporting the exercise. In spite of the fact that it was already established that the Abu Sayyaf, a local terrorist group had links with the Al Qaeda, many still wanted the Americans out What puzzled me was how the demonstrators did not want the US to help the Filipino soldiers fight the terrorist group which was causing localized economic setbacks. Fortunately, these demonstrators are just a very small minority of the population. and most Filipinos, like all other decent citizens in the world, would prefer to end wars and terrorist acts to achieve lasting peace.
Security and surveillance may increase but the risk is always there. How can governments prevent suicide bombers and terrorist from committing such acts when they believe they are religious martyrs dying for a cause? There should be a new focus on civilized society's educational system whereby teachings of any nature promoting separatism, racial pride, religious fervor, and others counter to mainstream society will be banned. For example, although I am teaching a new religion with a new concept of God in a hierarchy and I am promoting belief in karma and reincarnation, I am still for a democratic way of living. I don't encourage believers of my religion to drop out of their society and instill changes. I would prefer that they blend with their neighbors, their social culture and get on with their daily life. A religion should not be disruptive of society. I believe the success of a new religion depends on how not vocal its followers are in praising their new religion and trying to get new converts but how peace and tranquility has settled inside them. There is a feeling of confidence, trust and inner peace that what they believe in is the true religion. There are no feelings of imaginary persecution and internal turmoil. He respect the rights of others, not only in his town but in the international community, to choose to live peacefully. Because he has inner peace, then he understands them.
In this modern age, people who were born, grew up and lived under democracy with freedom of speech, religion and others will not just give up their liberty to a leader, religious or not. And this is not realized by persons who have dreams of becoming dictators and tyrants. Thinking that they will be uplifting the economic and moral life of their subjects, they try to impose new cultures and different ways of living which the populace abhors, leading to resistance and the downfall of the authoritarian rule. These people are not really out to change their society for the better; they have a hidden agenda. A good leader does not choke his followers by limiting their freedom; they follow him not purely because of his charisma but because he makes sense. A word of warning too: be careful of a person who oozes with charisma, he can easily mislead with good intentions. It is not a good yardstick by which to gauge a leader.
I have friends and relatives who are always late in their meetings and appointments, leaving the other party who is supposed to meet them, waiting for longer than expected. Will they (the late comers) get some kind of bad karma?
Yes, they will have bad karma for being late. Let us talk about people who arrange for appointments and meetings and then they come in late, (not the office meetings, conferences or the like because these have been preset) are different. Obviously, if you are frequently late to your work, or even just in your classes, you get a reprimand after so many tardiness. In your personal appointments and meetings with friends and relatives, you don't get a washover from the person who has been waiting for your arrival out of politeness, but you get something else - karma. Except for unusual, unpredictable occurrences, there is no reason why a person should be late in an appointment which he himself agreed to, and may even have helped set-up.
These people who are always late for an appointment have very little regard for their fellowman; they don't mind the other fellow waiting for them, wasting precious hours. They don't leave early for their appointment because they assume that the other fellow will be late anyway. If the appointment is at ten o'clock, then they leave at ten o'clock, ignorant that it's that time that they should be at their meeting place. I have known many friends, associates and relatives who leave their house at the time we were supposed to meet, giving some sorry excuse later, usually because of heavy traffic. Well, they had put onto themselves bad karma twice already: first, by wasting the other person's precious time, and secondly by making up an excuse which is not true. Even if the other person who was made to wait had all the time in the world doing nothing, there is still no justifiable reason to make an appointment for him and then arrive late. It is still karma on the part of the person who is habitually late. He does not own the other person's time and by making him wait, he is responsible for what he might have accomplished during those lost hours.
Here's a tip so as not to get late for personal meetings and appointments. Before agreeing to the time and place of the meeting, estimate your travel time from your house or from your place of origin (including the traffic situation, any stops you might make on the way such as filling up with petrol), the available parking space at the appointed place, as well as how long it takes you to dress up and groom. If you're just coming from a meeting and you're not sure what time it's going to end, then give an allowance of an hour or two. If you think you need more time either start earlier, or tell the other party before hand, while you are still discussing the venue, etc. to set the appointment at a later time. If you think you are going to be late, then instead of setting the appointment at 10 o'clock, set it at 10:30 or at 11. If you think you're still going to be late, then set it after lunch, say 2:00. If you think you can't make it at that exact time, there's always the next day, but if you really try, you can always make it at the first attempt.
What is important is don't say yes to an appointment when you know you can't be there at the designated place and time. Never prejudge the other party that he will be late. If you happen to have arrived early, then you can do a little window shopping not far from the appointed place or read a book. If the other person is late, try to wait for 30 minutes more, and then you can leave if you wish depending on your patience level. If his travel time is two hours or less, I think an extra 30 minutes of waiting on your part is enough. But with cell phones, pagers, and other gizmos just a click away, there is no reason why either one of you can't call the other. You may feel classy being late but there's a price for it.