Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Is thinking man really superior?
From ancient times, man has tried to find out whether there is anything beyond death. Those who built the Egyptian pyramids thought that living was a part of death, that dying was only going over to the other side. So they carried to the grave their gold, their cattle and even their slaves to continue living as before.
Every religion has a different explanation. Some talk of a resurrection on Judgment Day when God Almighty will come with a list of all the good deeds and bad deeds of each and every human being that ever appeared on this planet since Adam. The judgment will be either eternal heaven or eternal hell.

The Indians believed in something called reincarnation which is different from resurrection. All offshoots of Hinduism have similar beliefs. Resurrection is only once, while reincarnation is a continuous process. The word rebirth is more common with those who follow Gautama, the Buddha.

Even some modern scientists claim that people who have ‘died’ and come back to continue living, remember having experienced extraordinary ‘after death’ states such as light, beauty, music and so on. The famous Hollywood actor Peter Sellers claimed that he saw such things after ‘death.’

There are others who doubt such claims. Did they really die? Real death means a stoppage of oxygen to the brain. After several minutes the brain deteriorates. Therefore, can a dead brain have any recollection whatsoever?

As most of us are disinclined to be disturbed, we prefer to follow the easy way of accepting what a man in religious garb tell us. So as Christians, Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims or as rationalists or atheists, we prefer to adopt a ready made answer, and that is the end of all enquiry.

Arguably, man is the only living being who claims to have a religion. However, man is also the only living organism that seems to be waging war with his fellow human beings for psychological reasons.

Man is also in conflict with nature, the trees, the waterways, the atmosphere. Animals do not contribute towards air pollution, garbage, the contamination of the rivers, ponds and the sea. Global warming is not a crime for which the animals are responsible.

Evidently, animals do not have philosophers or priests or books or ideologies. That may be the very reason why animals live in comparative harmony and peace.

There is no credit crunch in the animal world. There are no Sakvithis in the animal world. There are no suicide-bombers and terrorists in the animal world. But there are no schools and universities too in the animal world.

We have educational institutions. We have even free education from the primary level, to the university. Then what has gone wrong? Surely, our educational system is all wrong. Everywhere in the world politicians are taking control of education. In Sri Lanka, too, a political appointee called the Minister of Education controls everything from the admission of pupils to Year One right up to the university. See the mess in government schools and universities. There is bribery and corruption even among leading school principals!

If 200,000 students qualify for higher education, only 20,000 will get places at a university that is more often closed than open, due to riots.

Government teachers go on strike every time their union leaders tell them to. Government teachers will refuse to mark answer scripts if their union bosses tell them to. This happens too often.

Education, in the hands of any politician, is disastrous. A politician appoints, transfers, promotes teachers and school principals according to party affiliation. There are political spies in every government school.

A politician is always confused. Being confused he creates educators who are equally confused. Every change of government is followed by a change of school principals or a transfer of teachers to remote areas.

Because our minds are so confused with the problems of the modern world, because our lives are so empty, we try to see if there is another existence after death. So we engage in rituals, superstitions and dogma hoping that the priests at least will open for us a door which is beyond death.

Man has proved himself far below the animals in the field of psychology. It is high time we learnt how to live without psychological divisions.

Jayatissa Perera
www island.lk

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