Quote: "I pass the test. I will diminish, and go into the West."
You may think these are the words of of a rail passenger at Paddington station, but they are in fact the words of Galadriel in the The Fellowship of the Ring. As we wave goodbye to many government services, that must now diminish, we welcome the Big Society, where unemployed public servants now do their old jobs for nothing.
Society is like the human body. There must be an armpit, where all the smelly bits of fluff accumulate. Then there is the nose, where we sniff the state of social cohesion. The bowel removes the unwanted parts and the whole body is supported by the big toe. All must act in unison if the body is to support and sustain itself.
As it says in Alice in Wonderland, "I quite agree with you," said the Duchess; "and the moral of that is--'Be what you would seem to be'--or if you'd like it put more simply--'Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'"
And so we see the kindness and importance of the voluntary sector, working with the big toe and all the parts of the body.
President Mubarak of Egypt must be feeling increasingly isolated. Other countries such as Jordan and Syria look on uneasily.
As Bill said to Ben in The Flowerpot Men, "flobba-lobba-dobba-lob", or what goes around comes around. This can be seen in the Trumpton Town Hall Clock, telling the time, steadily, sensibly; never too quickly, never too slowly; telling the time for Trumpton.
The heroes of Watch with Mother often valued the wisdom of age. We revere the likes of Captain Snort of Pippin Fort near Chigley.
Captain Snort is a soldier man,
Scarlet and gold a soldier man.
He'll work a boy as hard as he can,
To turn him into a soldier man.
But paradoxically, it encourages the elderly not to linger. As Sergeant Major Grout said to Captain Snort, "Atten-TION, isn't it about time you retired and let me take over old chap?"
Watch with Mother is full of instances of one series giving way to another. Muffin the Mule gives way to Andy Pandy, which in turn stands aside for Chigley, near Camberwick Green, In Trumptonshire. There is therefore an "orderly transition" as is being hoped for in many Middle East countries.
Sometimes we just know when it's time to go. There comes a point where we know that we have outstayed our welcome, that it's time to move on, that we're no longer relevant or meaningful, that we've said all that we have to say and there's no more to be said, when we find ourselves repeating the same tired, old, outdated platitudes day after day after day.
Perhaps the words of Lady Rosemary to Sir Basil, in The Herbs might be relevant here. "My name is Lady Rosemary,you'll find you cannot fool me. I have eyes both sharp and quick,to help me see through every trick."
Let us hope that President Mubarak has been listening to this broadcast.
Wednesday, 26 January, 2011, 08:58 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)
I want to talk to you about a recent news story. It's a story of sexism and whether a woman "assistant referee" can really understand the offside rule.
Alternatively, I'd like to talk to you about Karma. You see the universe is a big cosmic computer that adds up all the good things that people do and all the bad things that people do and decides whether to give them a good time or a bad time in their next life.
Obviously a computer programme that analysed and sifts through every single action of every single human being would be immensely complex and some people have dismissed this as ridiculous, but Tesco can already figure out what groceries I buy from my loyalty card, so maybe it isn't as ridiculous as you think. The secret is that the universe does it all automatically. We can be sure of this because a Sanskrit poet said so and they're usually pretty reliable.
We usually think young people are only interested in the X Factor or student fees. Surprisingly, it turns out that young people are not as shallow and materialistic after all. A recent study by a group dedicated to religious education, found that young people just love it - religious education that is. When asked "Do you think studying lots of different religions will increase your understanding of lots of different religions?", 80% replied yes. 20% thought that studying religion would not increase their understanding of religion.
This just goes to show how young people yearn for spirituality, mysticism and general transcendental woo-woo stuff. Apparently, even atheists, who you'd think would want to remain completely ignorant about other people's belief systems, think studying religion can teach you more about religion. Isn't that just amazing? This shows that even atheists yearn for spirituality, mysticism and general transcendental woo-woo stuff.
Young people also want to debate right and wrong. This is, of course, exactly what religion encourages you to do, as long as you end up agreeing with what a particular religion's fixed list of rights and wrongs are.
One of the Hindu Big Books of Magic Stuff, and we have many, tells the tale of Prahlada. As a young boy, Prahlada showed signs of being interested in spirituality, mysticism and general transcendental woo-woo stuff. Fearing that the boy may turn out to be a useless, gibbering idiot, his father sent him to be educated, but it didn't work. This too shows the latent desire in all young people to study spirituality, mysticism and general transcendental woo-woo stuff.
Some (i.e. atheists) think that religion should be confined to the home. I'd like to deliberately equate religious practise with the study of comparative religion, which they are also uniformly against. This narrow minded, dogmatic view of some (i.e. atheists) should be contrasted with my more enlightened view that children should be taught about many diverse religions. Once again this shows how spirituality, mysticism and general transcendental woo-woo stuff leads to a better way of doing things.
We need RE in schools. The only way to help young people develop their own individual morality, is to examine all the contradictory views of the world's religions.
Christmas shopping with children has become even more hellish than normal, due to the range of products aimed at the sexualisation of young children. This is because all businesses do what Milton Friedman tells them to and aim to maximise profits at all costs. This is why governments are needed to regulate business.
Hindu teaching supports this. We Hindus believe that parents should look after their children. Parents should take responsibility, or "prawn salad" - which is the Hindu word for "responsibility", for their children. One of the Hindu holy books says parents should look after their children, so it must be true. Children are actually reincarnated souls on an eternal journey of spiritual development, which is why it's so important to look after them.
Hindus also believe that children should have a childhood. Radio 4 listeners would do well to learn from this and allow their own children to have a childhood. However children should also be gradually introduced to the prawn salads of adulthood while at the same time not depriving them of a childhood.
The real problem is not simply that inappropriate clothing or toys are being marketed at children, but that adult society highlights all the wrong values.
Saturday, 6 November, 2010, 08:47 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly Platitudinous)
Happy Diwali everyone!
By an incredible coincidence, Diwali, which always falls between mid-October and mid-November, took place on November 5th this year.
Guy Fawkes night used to be a happy celebration of burning Catholics. By an even more incredible coincidence, Diwali is also about Rama burning his wife to make sure she was still chaste after her abduction and confinement (you know what these women are like). That way Rama's honour could be satisfied.
Diwali is a great festival of lights and exchanging pleasantries. As one kind card said yesterday, "May the milk of a thousand sacred cows rain down upon you, may your letterbox be free of Halal kebab leaflets and may you live a life devoid of the scourge of haemorrhoids."
Two years ago, I told you that Diwali was all about homecoming like the return of 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment to their barracks at Colchester. Last year I explained that Hindu theology had advanced in leaps and bounds since two years ago and that Diwali was really about leadership and that Afghanistan would be much better off if the Muslims would adopt Hindu principles.
We now know that these theories are false and wrong and laughably childish. The true meaning of Diwali is about discovering the spiritual light of the soul.
And partying, letting off fireworks and generally having a good time.
President Obama has become embroiled in the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. While Muslims undoubtedly have a right to build a mosque there, some think that doing so where the landing gear from one of the 911 planes fell, might be considered a little insensitive, not to say triumphalist.
The owner of the building complains that it will not only be a mosque, but also a cultural centre. It will have a swimming pool, where properly attired people of an appropriate gender will be able to swim. He sees the Cordoba project as an opportunity to build even stronger bridges between Muslims and Christians than it has already achieved.
What is the answer to this conflict between two of the world's major religions? The answer, naturally, is to be found in another, correct, religion. Our Big Book of Magic Stuff, the Bhagavad Gita, explains that there are three cunning ways to resolve a dispute.
Method 1. Stick your fingers in your ears and shout "LA LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING!".
Method 2. Go to war and annihilate your opponent.
Method 3. Attempt to find a compromise acceptable to both sides.
In a measure of its sheer holiness, our Big Book of Magic Stuff recommends method 3. So this is my advice to Americans worried about the Ground Zero Mosque, try to find some sort of compromise solution. I don't have anything specific to suggest like situating the mosque a bit further away, in a different country perhaps, or dropping the obviously provocative swimming pool. For people of goodwill from the right wing, neo-conservative, rabidly anti-Obama Tea Party and their opposite numbers on the triumphalist wing of Islam, this is surely not too much to ask?
Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?
Someone said there's an England match on this afternoon. But why do people get so excited about football? After all, it's only a game. It's not as if most people's lives are going to be significantly changed by the result this afternoon. Yet enthusiasm for the game is a worldwide phenomenon. Did you know, there are more members of FIFA than the UN? Not a lot of people know that.
As it happens there is an ancient Hindu text that explains people's obsession with football. A football game is in fact an illusion that doesn't really exist. Fans give themselves over to that illusion and start to get excited when they imagine England get possession and get upset when they lose possession. This is like life in general, which is another illusion, this time taking place inside the illusion of the football game.
The more we tie ourselves to material things, as many non-Hindu Radio 4 listeners tend to do, the more we get caught up with this illusion within an illusion within an illusion that is materialism within life within a football game. In fact, it is widely known that poor people are much happier than rich people. So George Osborne yesterday was actually just trying to spread a little happiness around.
So, now that I'm aware of the illusory nature of football, please, please, please, please can we get through to the knockout stage? Please?
Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 08:54 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Science, Vedas, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita..., Akhandadhi DasRating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)
Yesterday's Reith Lecture by Prof Martin Rees, ponders the question of what we'll never know. Will we ever fully understand consciousness? Or will we ever have a complete unified theory of physics? Maybe there are some things that are just too mysteriously mysterious for us to understand. In fact, this actually is the case. The human brain, for all its complexity, is made of matter and isn't really built to handle the ultimate truth about the universe, much less about invisible magic stuff. To understand the true nature of the universe we need some outside assistance, from invisible magic beings. Throughout history, revelations from invisible magic beings have been so much more useful and productive than mere science alone.
As it says in the fourth book of Star Wars, "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." Still, you should continue to deploy your limited brain power to try and understand something of the universe. As it says in the second book of Harry Potter "Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world."
It's all so big and incomprehensible and mysterious and mystical and really, really full of deeply meaningful stuff that we can't understand.
£20 million of lottery money is being used to set up a new voluntary organisation in Wales. It will attempt to combat loneliness among the elderly. As Mother Theresa said "Loneliness can be a terrible form of suffering, but then suffering's really good for you!"
But why do people feel lonely? Can it be because we evolved as social creatures who rely on interaction with other human beings to define part of our identity? Could it be that we instinctively seek out companionship because humans have always lived in groups? Does the added security and wide diversity within groups provide humans with a strong competitive advantage? Even if there is any evidence to support this theory, and I don't know because I couldn't be bothered to look, it would only be a scientific explanation. Understanding something in scientific terms diminishes it, makes it less real, valueless, silly and just completely rubbish and horrible. Therefore the only possible alternative explanation, the Hindu one, must be correct.
Unlike the unsatisfactory and just plain stupid scientific theory, there's just loads of evidence that our desire for company is based on our invisible magic bits. Your invisible magic bit has existed for all eternity even though you don't remember any of it. It was created by the Invisible Magic Friend (obviously not at any particular point in time, because then it wouldn't be eternal, but nevertheless "created" in a sort of mystical, woo-woo, non-temporal fashion by non-temporally saying "let there be invisible magic stuff that'll just hang around not really doing anything for a few billion years" ). As you can see, this is a much more sensible and intellectually fulfilling, spiritual, explanation of why humans seek the company of others.
As with all other problems, the solution to loneliness among the elderly is meditation. This needn't be a lonely activity since you can meditate with others, singing and chanting. For full effect, the singing and chanting is best done in a language you don't understand. This'll really get you in touch with your invisible magic bit.
A Bangladeshi poet said something very wise about this, so I must be right.