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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Enlightenment

At the Trinity Senatorial Hustings the Vice Dean Rev. Houghton was kind enough to ask a question. I felt it appropriate to answer using the Bible as a basis for my reply. There was an audible intake of breath from the parishioners, as if I had committed some great trespass. I was never afraid to question authority however. The 'divine right' philosophy died out in the seventeenth century, no one is born to it, I adopt an approach to people of, 'you have to earn my respect', speaking to Rev. Houghton at the end of the hustings I must say that indeed he did.

The development of my personal morality has undergone several distinct stages; first I was told what was right and wrong, then I formulated my own moral code, then I decided that having a fixed moral code was unworkable and that each situation would have to be judged on its own merits.
Some lotus flowers blossom, others do not, some clog in the mud
some tangle in the weeds. Does the same apply to souls?

This is equalled in all laws which state that you should do [whatever the law says] unless it is reasonable to do otherwise - you then have to convince a Court that it was reasonable to do otherwise, if you get called on it. But the primary decision is not deciding whether you can convince a Court it was reasonable, but what you truly consider to be the reasonable course of action. At the end of the day a judge is only ever going to give his opinion and whilst that opinion may land you in prison, it does not mean he is correct. It is most unlikely that justice will be the pre-eminent concern in his mind.

In order to question one's own beliefs the best place to start is by examining the contrary opinions, but many simple differences have caused no end of hostility through the ages that it is preferable to examine the basic similarities which exist in them all.

Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by karma; that the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives and its next incarnation is always dependent on how the previous life was lived. Buddhism teaches that the path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are all concerned with attaining heaven. There is a common thread of self-improvement and attainment of perfection, which runs through them all, once you strip away the decoration, the mysticism and the magic.

The other common thread is that suffering is the path to enlightenment or pain is a great teacher or necessity is the mother of invention. This is my fundamental issue with the welfare state. When everything is handed to you on a plate where is the drive to self-improvement? To my mind it is the mud that clogs the lotus blossom of a soul and prevents it flowering.

The question Rev. Houghton asked was whether the candidates believed that Jersey should increase its overseas aid as a proportion of its GNI. Whilst other candidates either thought it should if monies allowed or should not. My answer was that charity is only charity if done privately, as Jesus taught. It as wrong for the government to steal my money so that it could make a show of being generous at my expense. In any case how were these countries ever going to learn to stop wasting their money on guns and concentrate on improving the lives of their people when they knew that they were going to get continuing handouts from other countries.