Why I’m an Agnostic

I’m an agnostic because I haven’t given up wondering. And based on what I know to be true, an agnostic is the only thing I can be.

This is a great video and sums up why I’m straddling the fence when it comes to God,  universe and our existence.  My life as a student and a strong proponent of science is obverse to my background of being born in a religious family and being around people with all kinds of faiths and religions.

I’ve been pursuing this subject for years and it seems the more one tries to comprehend this world, the more incomprehensible it turns out to be.

So, is this an act of futility? To question; to be curious and strive for an answer?

Absolutely not. In the end one comes to realize that it is the JOURNEY that matters and not the DESTINATION.  There are things that are going to completely shake your world view and blow your realm of reality; that moment of epiphany!

I love the way this has been recorded; the sound, the images and the voice. They all match up with its contents.

The Origins of Religion (Neolithic Era)

Göbekli Tepe, Şanlıurfa (Turkey) believed to be the oldest temple in the world (ca 10000 BCE). Photo credit: Teomancimit (Creative Commons)

The Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution that took place roughly around 12000 years ago was a cornerstone in shaping the pre-modern/modern world; an impetus transcending the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary specialized societies.

The cultivation of food crops and domestication of animals meant that the wandering ways for survival were no longer necessary. Life wasn’t all about survival. There was time,  to find a higher purpose of life; creativity, art, spirituality, political and social organizations as well as scientific development, which in conjunction with that carried down over the millennia flourished cultural and lifestyle values.

The oldest temple yet discovered is the Göbekli Tepesituated about 15km Northeast from the city of Sanliurfa in Southeastern Turkey and is believed to have been built around 10000 BCE. The ruins of the site suggest that the complex religious practices and rituals had already been well established and was already an essential aspect of life, long before the settlement took place.

Charles C. Mann, in his “The Birth of Religion” in the National Geographic Magazine goes on to say that it might have been “the urge to worship” that actually sparked civilization and settlement and rather than the other way round.

The Origins of Religion (Pre-Neolithic Era)

As we have seen in The most important discovery of man part 1 and part 2, fire gave our ancestors the light to life. It enabled them to ignite to new heights hitherto unaccomplished by any other species in pre-history. We also witnessed how the flame was sanctified across various cultures that saw the rise of priesthood that strengthened as the knowledge of fire manipulation grew profounder over the millennia.

It is not a matter of debate that the seeds of religion were sown hundreds of thousands of years ago, when man first started worshipping; as a means of his reverence for nature – and all that she vouchsafed him. The Urantia book suggests that the first objects to be worshipped were stones and hills, a practice common in Southern India even today. One can speculate that before the taming of fire, they were much more reliant on stone tools for dealing with predators, chopping food etc. This was followed by the worship of trees, plants, animals, elements (air, water, earth, fire) and the heavenly bodies.

The outburst of volcanoes, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, change of seasons were incomprehensible forces of nature which greatly baffled our ancestors. Unlike other primates, as they had strayed into the territory of rational thinking,  it was hard to simply overlook the motifs behind these inexplicable phenomena. And thus the idea of nature being one powerful supreme being  was surmised, one that would eventuate into God and the various rituals in his extolment. 

This, of course is a mere generalization of the events that have taken place over hundreds of thousands of years and this kind of veneration has been subject to geographic location and lifestyle of people. For example, the desert nomads revered the night sky, particularly the moon as it allowed them to travel at night. the phases of the moon and the position of the stars and planets were very important to them for navigation. Sun was rather seen as a deterrent. But for those dwelling in bone-chilling cold of the ice age glaciers, sun and the warmth and light it provided was the ultimate savior.

Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio

I fist came across the Fibonacci Sequence while reading “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. Didn’t really pay much attention at the time. Recently, while surfing through youtube about ancient religions I stumbled across this video and it dawned on me that maybe I should do a bit of research.

I was flabbergasted to know how nature reveals herself in this order of numbers and in profusion; from the florets of sunflower to wave curves to the structure of DNA. When you divide a number in the Fibonacci sequence by its preceding one, the value obtained is close to the Golden Ratio (which is approx. 1.6180339887) and represented by phi (φ). It turns out that the Greeks were the ones to first notice that almost every jaw-dropping pattern that occurs in nature is ruled by this ratio.

It turns out that the Sanskrit scholars of early India were very acquainted with this fingerprint of nature and its use is reflected in various prosodies dating back to 200 BCE. However, it wasn’t until 1202 AD that this sequence was introduced to the west by Leonardo Fibonacci (an Italian mathematician who is also known to have spread the Hindu-Arabic numbering system to Europe).

The following is just a preamble to the Fibonacci series and the Golden ratio but there is more out there. Click here to learn more.

Sameer.

Seto Gumba / White Monastery in Kathmandu

Situated atop the Druk Amitabha mountain, the monastery has been open to the public since not so long ago. The opulent Buddhist/Tibetan architecture with all its intricacies over a vast area of land offers a touch of grandeur amid the hilly terrain where most houses are traditional Nepalese.

I remember several years ago when the monastery was still being built, I used to hike up there almost every evening with my buddies. This time the roads were sealed all the way to the bottom of the hill (leading to the Adeshwor temple and forming a junction with the road leading to Sitapaila and Halchowk) so we would get there on a motorbike. Apart from the magnificent edifices you will also get to witness the enthralling sunset (you can watch this from outside the monastery, too).

The monastery is open to the public only on Saturdays, and has a cafe and a shop inside. The whole area is very well maintained, clean and proper. Peace and tranquility is reflected in every corner. The spectacular panorama of the Kathmandu Valley all around is the icing on the cake.

So if you are in Kathmandu looking for places to visit, make sure you do not miss out on this one! You won’t be disappointed! The nobility of this place will certainly mesmerize you.

A Spiritual Journey in Kathmandu, Nepal

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While back in Nepal this winter clicked this from my mobile on a sunny afternoon while sauntering off to the Swayambhu temple, a complex of stupas and quintessence of the Buddhist heritage of the Kathmandu Valley. The site is one of the most attractive destinations for tourists and offers a unique, panoramic view of the Valley along with its vibrant, spiritual charm. Rested on top of the Swayambhu hill, the temple is also infamous for a very steep hike that leads to it and for getting mobbed by monkeys roaming around – the reason most people like to call it “The Monkey Temple”.