Friday, December 12, 2008

Non Nobis Domine et Te Deum to dua Gloria

I'm not exactly what you would call a terribly religious person. I find claims to hold the exclusive truth of be distasteful and as I get older, I find that the more people claim that they have exclusive franchise to the devine usually don't. 

I am probably as multifaithed as it gets. I make it a point to cross myself everytime I pass a church, touch my hand against the heart everytime I pass a mosque and clasp my hands together and bow evertime I pass a temple. This is I suppose the cynical Chinese in me doing what is commonly called "Paying Insurance," when it comes to the devine. For me, I like to think I am just aknowledging that the devine and what is holy is everywhere. I mean, the look of serenity of a Buddhist monk is Godly. Then again, so is a Christian Choir at full blast and the recital of the Koran (this is especially true when you stand 300 metres above sea level when the call to prayer sounds). 

God, for want of a better name has a funny way with human beings. There is probably no subject that causes more bitter division than religion. Just look at the Middle East. Back in the 1200's we had the Crusades and today, you have conflict between three religions claiming to worship the same God. Pradoxically, there is no other subject that has inspired humanity to its best - just look at the music and litterature that is produced in the world today - God was the inspiration. 

For me, I'm not sure about dealing with God. I mean, I cannot claim to speak to him or to have met the devine in person. As such I am not about to gointo the business of distributing "God" business. I leave that to the likes of my ex-wife's pastor, Fred who seemed to live quite comfortably on a mere 10 percent of his followers daily salary. I'll always remember him telling people, "Isn't it great, we've claimed one back from Buddhism/Hinduism/Islam and we're growing everyday." What he really meant was,"Isn't it great, I'm getting 10 percent of an extra person's salary instead of it going to Buddhism/Hinduism/Islam." 

Seriously, I think we need to look beyond the difference between people who claim to have God and God's actual glory. I'm inclined to think of the Shakespear's Henry V, who insisted that glory would goto God after his understaffed English Army crushed the French at the Battle of Agincourt. 

Ok, most of us don't have the opportunity to win a battle against a larger foe with a small force, but I think there's a way for us to experience God's glory, which on the face of things is not terribly gloroius - namely giving back to the less fortunate. 

If you look through the religious text of the main religions, you'll find a universal truism, a call for the fortunate to help those who are less so. It is therefore not unreasonable to suspect that the devine exist within the actions of helping the less fortunate.

I remember my father telling me that part of his good fortune was having someone from somewhere give him a job whenever it looked like funds were drying up. It was, he believed a result of looking after people other than himself and in fairness to my father, the man has helped friends and family. Likewise, Mark, my favourite littigator proves to point when he matches his high paying clients with pro-bono work (zen being one of them). 

Let's look to the global scene. Who is the richest man in the world? For the better part of nearly two decades it's been Bill Gates, the Chairman of Microsoft. Say what you like of Mr Gates but he's not only made money for himself but he's made many other people rich and better off. Now, the second question here is, who is the world's biggest giver of money? The answer is once again Bill Gates. Not only is Mr Gates head of the world's largest foundation, he's actually giving his time to ensure that his giving is effective. How is it possible that Bill Gates continues to have pots of money while he tries very hard to give it away? 

Green Day has a point when it tells us that "Nice Guys Finish Last." If you are too nice you can get taken advantage of and there are times when you need to be ruthless. I usually end up being too nice to short and fat things that have baby sized hands and feet. I often tell Zen that she should bless the day she was born the opposite of sexy.

But is being a good person a disaster in being a success. I think not. In fact, I'm inclined to agree with Vinod when he says that, "Good Guys Always Win." The guys who get ahead by foul means usually end up being pulled down by those very same means. The guys who keep their humanity and remember to give back usually achieve success, which is admitedly not always material - a case of "What does a man gain if he gains the world at the cost of his eternal soul." 

No comments: