Daheshism and the Journey of Life
Copyright 1993 by Mounir Murad
Table of Contents:
An Interpretation by the
National Gallery of Art
(reprinted by permission)
The Voyage of Life by Thomas Cole (1801-1848) is a pictorial allegory of Everyman's passage through Life's four traditional stages: Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age. The message of the series reflects precisely the mood of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, when life was shorter and death more commonplace, yet there was an overriding optimism in the infinite promise of the youthful nation. Reinforcing the Voyager's (our own) actions, appearance, and gestures, the landscape settings in these paintings are treated as participants in the allegory by establishing appropriate moods for the stages of man's evolution. At the same time, just as they symbolize Christian passage, the landscapes also symbolize stages in seasonal and diurnal history, showing the evolution from earth's spring lushness to its autumnal withdrawal and the passage of day from morning till night. But into this final dark oblivion, a bright salvation shines eternally.
Note that the sands in the hourglass, held by the figure of the Hour at the prow of the boat, continue to run out as the series progresses, and that the smiling Hours carved around the edge of the craft become ever more distraught until at last their faces are smashed beyond recognition in the sudden last descent down the chute to the sea, where all life eventually returns. In all four pictures Cole envisages man facing life alone, except that in Childhood and Youth flights of tiny birds (near the center of each picture) appear insignificant in nature's immensity.
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
The Voyage of Life: Childhood
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund,
Copyright 1993 National Gallery of Art
As the artist phrased it, "a stream is seen issuing from a deep cavern, in the side of a craggy and precipitous mountain, whose summit is hidden in clouds. From out the cave glides a boat, whose golden prow and sides are sculptured into figures of the Hours; steered by an Angelic Form, and laden with buds and flowers, it bears a laughing Infant, whose varied course the artist has attempted to delineate . The Dark cavern and brooding sky is emblematic of our earthly origin, and the mysterious Past. The Boat, composed of Figures of the Hours images the thought that we are borne on down the Stream of Life. The rosy light of the morning, the luxuriant flowers and plants, are emblems of the joyousness of early life."
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
The Voyage of Life: Youth
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund,
Copyright 1993 National Gallery of Art
Young manhood takes over the helm of the boat, brashly confident, as yet unaware of, and feeling no need for, a Guardian Spirit, who stands aside and lets him take the helm. Just before Youth can debark to follow the illusory road to an equally illusory dream castle, the River of Life suddenly begins to become turbulent, and abruptly veers to the right, a premonition that this young traveler is about to face up to the problems of Manhood. An increasing agitation of the River may be glimpsed at spaces through the trees, suggesting yet more difficult trials to come.
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
The Voyage of Life: Manhood
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund,
Copyright 1993 National Gallery of Art
For Cole, middle age was a time of many temptations, including tendencies to suicide, intemperance, and murder, all of which Cole has personified with ghostly forms in the sky above. Now Man has entered a wilderness, with a storm-swept yellow sky in the distance to remind him of his inevitable timetable. The tiller of the boat is lost, and the voyager can no longer control his destiny. For the first time, he doubts his own ability to cope with life, and he beseeches heaven imploringly. Still, however, Man greedily guards the worldly property he has amassed, half concealed in the boat, though a great urn has slipped free to suggest that in the end everything tangible is lost.
To the right of the painting, trees stand riven by tempests, and the increasingly agitated River of Life, now a torrent, presages Man's final battle. His Guardian Spirit, still invisible to the traveler, watches calmly from the clouds, not forgetful, but with an air of solicitude.
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
The Voyage of Life: Old Age
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund,
Copyright 1993 National Gallery of Art
According to the artist, "Portentous clouds are brooding over a vast and midnight Ocean. A few barren rocks are seen through the gloom-the last shores of the world." The boat, Man's temporal body, has exhausted its inward force, and floats lifeless on a dead ocean. The hourglass that has measured his time is gone; the Hours, too. The traveler's worldly accumulations have been scattered and no longer have meaning for him. For the first time his Guardian Spirit appears, standing before him and pointing to the glorious light that has suddenly and inexplicably opened through a whirlwind rising nearby from the sea. Angels descend to welcome Man to the Haven of Immortal Life.
About a decade ago, when I was 23 years old, I wrote a prose poem that at that time was a good reflection of my attitude toward life. I read it again recently and found it still to be a good reflection, with the exception that I was then naive on two counts, namely, friendship and love. I will elaborate on these issues in the body of this book. The title of the prose poem is "The Journey," the same journey in the title of this book. This "Journey" is symbolic and is a brief summary of our understanding of life, its meaning, and its purpose. Although the prose poem employs symbolism and alludes to the mystical nature of life, I present it to the reader as a means of obtaining a glimpse of what is to follow:
There was a time that I recall,
Where play was joy, and joy was life.
I don't recall when it began,
And I don't know why it had to end.
Once, and in a moment of solitude I had a
"memory replay" of those childhood days,
Where I was able to see all of my friends again.
It was so real that I almost called each one of
them by name.
I recalled the games that we played,
The laughs that we had, and the innocence of
But those days did not last long.
They ended when I was told by my father that I
have a journey to take.
Puzzled and confused I was, nevertheless
according to him it was a must.
Where to? How? What for? I asked.
His answer was:
There is a lady who loves you,
Actually she loved you from the beginning, and
she will wait for you for as long as it takes.
Just follow the crowd, he said, for they are taking
similar journeys, and she will find you among them.
Once you see her your journey will be over, and
you will know it.
I commenced the journey.
The path was upward sloping.
May I be your companion? I asked the first
person my eyes fell upon.
He looked at me in a maze, did not answer, and
continued his journey.
I never knew why.
I repeated the same question to every man
and woman that I encountered.
Most followed his steps, and very few accepted
As companions we had a chance to know
As companions we helped each other when the
path we took was bumpy and dangerous.
As companions we found the will to follow the path.
I was very close to one, and she became my lover.
We've gained some companions while passing
through the path, and we've lost a lot more,
for they have reached their destination.
My journey is long and exhausting, but I
dare not stop.
It is the kind of thing that once you've started
you just can't stop.
The bond between some of us grew stronger
and stronger, as the journey became longer
The path was getting narrower and bumpier as
we reached the peak of the slope.
We've lost quite a few companions at the peak,
but gained only a few.
The path did not end there, and instead it became
downward sloping, and bumpier than ever.
As I continue this journey I pray harder and
harder every day that the path doesn't get
bumpier, and voice the following cry to the
lady in search of me:
Where are you lady?
What is taking you so long?
In the year 1842, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) painted a set of four oil paintings entitled The Voyage of Life (see the book's prelude). As the title indicates, the artist likened life to a voyage. The word voyage has a number of implications: (1) Any voyage must have a starting point. (2) Any voyage must have a destination. (3) Any voyage must have a duration. (4) Any voyage is a continuation of some sort of existence. (5) There is a continuity of existence after the voyage is complete. What is this voyage? Why does it have to exist? What existed before the voyage? What will happen after the destination is reached? Why is it short for some, long for others? Why is it easier for some, harder for others?
Daheshism deals with these issues and many others, and what you are about to read in this book is truly unusual. Daheshism is a revolution in the human approach to philosophy, life, and religion. It is a new garment for the body of traditional thought and belief. The aim of Daheshism is to provide a universal belief that encompasses all other beliefs. It accomplishes synthesis rather than fragmentation of religious beliefs and expansion rather than contraction of philosophical thought. However, be warned that in reading this book, a high level of open-mindedness is required. If you start reading this book with the firm idea that what you currently believe in is not open to change, please proceed no further, for Daheshism and this book are not meant for you. It takes a very open-minded person to understand and appreciate the Daheshist philosophy, and even so, it may be too much for some people to handle.
The purpose of this book is not to provide a rehearsed sermon about what is right and what is wrong. I am sure that all readers can distinguish between the two. Neither is it the purpose of this book to completely bypass the reader's beliefs. On the contrary, this book uses those beliefs as foundation poles of a structure and builds on them. It is no secret that I hope to convert the reader to my way of thinking and to Daheshism; however, it is sufficient for me to present the arguments and counterarguments in the hope that they will provoke the reader to think and, in doing so, to draw his or her own conclusions.
I have no doubt that after reading this book, many readers will think me a lunatic, a hypocrite, an enemy of organized religion, and a mentally unbalanced individual, but I hope that many others will see it differently. When Noah was under strict divine orders to build an ark of a certain size, the people of his time probably thought him insane. Noah and his family were also looked on as abnormal because they did not share the general morality of their peers. The same thing happened to Jesus Christ. He was called a hypocrite, a sorcerer, and Satan by the clergy and most of the people. Being an intellectual outcast in a society is not necessarily a bad position to be in as long as you are convinced of the moral appropriateness of your cause.
It is important to state clearly here that I am merely expressing my understanding of Daheshist beliefs. I view myself as just another frustrated soul dissatisfied with the status quo of religion, philosophy, economics, the fine arts, and just about every other aspect of life you can think of. I reach out to others who hold similar views and ask them to compare their views with mine. My sole purpose in life is to understand more about the spiritual world and how it relates to our existence. My motives are nonmaterialistic and will always be such. The contents of this book reflect the truest insight into my beliefs in life, and here I present them to you for your inspection.
Chapter 1 To Be or Not to Be
A group of people are flying from one city to another. As they approach their destination, the landing gear fails to engage. After many futile attempts to get it to work, the pilot announces to the passengers that he is going to attempt an emergency landing and that the passengers should assume the crash position. All the passengers look helpless and nervous. No one can blame them, for all of a sudden they may have an unscheduled and premature encounter with "death." Some break down in tears and began to pray to God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints, and others for a safe landing, and why not? If they survive the crash, their prayers will have been worthwhile, and if not, at least they will be better prepared to "meet their Maker." For those passengers who are atheists, the moment of "nothingness" may have arrived. A quick thought flickers through each of their minds: "What if there is a God? What if I was wrong? What will be my fate?" The flicker is supplanted by a stronger thought: "Nah, stop this nonsense." The runway is now prepared for the crash, and the pilot tries to land. After a few harsh bumps, vibrations, and noise, the jet comes to a halt, the emergency doors are opened, and all the passengers are safe. At that instant, a frail smile appears on every face-they are still shaken by the experience. Some of the passengers look at each other and say, "Thank God we are alive."
Why do we hold on to life so tightly and resist losing it? Is it the fear of the unknown? Why don't we think of what happens to us after death on a daily basis? Do we have to get into a scenario similar to the one above before we start thinking about it? Those of us who do think and talk about this subject are criticized by others as being negative, morbid, or depressed or as suffering from a psychological disorder. Now that we are about to enter into the twenty-first century, are we so obsessed with the materialistic things in life, the tools and gizmos that the advancement of science has been able to provide, that we ignore the spiritual aspect? How many of us reflect on our life on a daily basis? How do we define life? Do we really exist? Is everything that we see in life real? These and many other questions should be addressed by the human race on a regular basis.
What is reality? Is there such a thing as an absolute reality? Or is reality just perceived? How about the truth? Is there an absolute truth? Or is it, too, only perceived? It is not the purpose of this book to study the historical theories of reality and being, but it is very interesting to mention them briefly, and the reader, if interested, can research them later. The study of existence belongs to a branch of metaphysics called ontology. There are three philosophical theories of reality: monism, dualism, and pluralism. In monism, derived from the Greek mono, the world is reduced to a single reality. Monism itself is divided into three schools of thought: materialism, idealism, and neutralism. Materialism states that the only reality is that of matter and that everything in existence can be reduced to material elements. Idealism states that the only reality is that of the mind and that everything in existence is a perception (that is, the Universe does not exist beyond what is being perceived). Neutralism states that reality is something else-mind and matter are both just manifestations of it. Dualism states that there are two realities, mind and matter. The reality of matter makes up the mechanized world, and that of mind makes up the souls-immaterial and immortal. Pluralism states that reality cannot simply be reduced either to mind or matter or to mind and matter but has many different manifestations, of which mind and matter are only two.
Now let me ask you to ponder life for a while, and then let me pose the following question: Do you exist? You are likely to say, "What a silly question. Of course I exist. I can see you and you can see me. If I pinch myself it hurts, and if I cut myself, I bleed. If I stab myself, I die. Besides pain, I experience love, I can swim, laugh, sing, climb a mountain, drive a car, go to college, hit somebody, get married, have sex, engage in intellectual discussions. Therefore I exist." This seems to be a logical answer and you are probably absolutely correct, but what you have just stated as a proof of your existence may not exist in the first place. Let me elaborate on this issue: At times you may experience pain or love; you see things, people, places; you walk, think, play, cry, laugh, sing, climb a mountain, swim, go to college, hit somebody, get married, have sex, drive a car, plane, or boat, get engaged in intellectual discussions. You "exist" and nobody can convince you otherwise, but all of a sudden your alarm clock rings, your hand reaches out to shut it off, and now you are awake, now you truly "exist." Oops! I thought you existed back when you experienced all those things mentioned earlier. Evidently it was just a dream, which is logically an extension of your current existence! All right, I concede that it was just a dream, and now you are back to "real life," but what if an alarm clock is about to go off and wake you up to "real existence"?
Do you get it now? What is perceived to be real may not be real at all. The dream that we just mentioned is real only to you and is part of your reality. Although this reality appears to be different for each individual, there exists a reality that encompasses the entire Universe. It is this reality with which we are concerned. Our entire life resembles a dream, where each one of us is waiting for some alarm clock to go off, wake us up, and bring us face to face with our true existence. Dr. Dahesh argued this issue at one time by saying that people are sleeping and that when they die, they wake up. Welcome to the world of multiple realities. Now allow me to ask you the same question: Do you exist? How will you answer it? Will you answer in exactly the same way you did before? Will you attempt to find a different way to prove your existence? Or did I get you so confused that you will say, "I am not sure whether I exist or not." If each of our perceived existences is no more than a dream belonging to another existence of a different reality, then how would we know that the existence in that different reality is the real existence and not just another dream belonging to still a different reality?
By now you probably think I am crazy, that I have lost control of my mental capacity, that I belong in a nuthouse. This brings up another question: Who is sane? Is it everybody outside the nuthouse? Or is it everybody inside? This is a relative question. The people in the nuthouse may think they are normal and sane and that everyone else is not, while we see ourselves as normal and sane and see them as crazy. Who is right? Let's not forget what history taught us in the case of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) when he argued that science and religion should be treated as two truths that will never conflict with each other. When he supported the view that our Sun is stationary and that the Earth and the other planets revolve around it, he was considered by the Church to be a hypocrite and a madman. He was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life and was finally forced to recant.
The question remains: Is life the way we know it the ultimate reality? Before you answer this question, please allow me to introduce the following scenario: If we go back in time to a few hours before Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies, to the natives, what they see in front of them is their world, and their reality. Nothing beyond the water is likely to exist. The water is infinite, and Earth is flat. If they remain isolated, it may take them hundreds if not thousands of years to determine that Earth is not flat and for them to be able to build a sturdy sailboat that allows them to venture into the unknown of the supposedly infinite waters. As long as their reality does not intersect with that of others, they remain convinced that no other reality exists. When their reality and that of the Europeans crossed the moment Columbus landed, they experienced a great setback to the way they thought. Now they are in a state of confusion. Everything they believed to be true about their existence has been shattered. Similarly, we may be living a reality that can be shattered by an encounter with another reality. But what could such a reality be?
The reality that I am talking about is the absolute reality and not another partial reality. It is complicated and far from the way we expect it to be. Our reality is analogous to a fairy tale told to a three-year-old child. The child absorbs the fairy tale and accepts it in his or her mind as reality, and nobody can convince this child otherwise. Some may protest by saying, "Are we so ignorant that we cannot figure out what is real and what is not? By saying such a thing you are insulting our intelligence." To those people I say, look at it in any way, shape, or form, but in my opinion we are at the kindergarten level when it comes to understanding absolute reality. What we experience is a very narrow and camouflaged version of absolute reality. When a child asks how babies are born, the parents patiently tell the child the story of the birds and the bees. We have the birds-and-bees version of reality.
So how do we get closer to understanding absolute reality? Can we get closer to it through science? Science can explain only the current physical reality of life and is in no position to venture into the realm of spiritual reality. Should we meditate away a good chunk of our lives in the hope that some sort of light will shine on us and show us the way? Or maybe something will hit us on the head and make us say, "Eureka." How about religion? Doesn't it make sense to approach absolute reality through a detailed study of the holy books? I think so, but only up to a certain point, because the messages of the holy books are in some cases very simplistic and were meant for the human beings of at least 1.4 millennia ago. In other cases, the holy books are too cryptic, and some passages are nonsensical if read by a twentieth-century individual. The following illustrates this point:
According to the Old Testament, God created the Universe, including Adam and Eve, in six days and rested on the seventh. If you trace Biblical chronology from Adam to the present, you would estimate the Creation to have occurred about 6000 years ago. This is contrary to what scientific discoveries indicate. Fossils of hard-bodied living creatures date back well over 700,000,000 (700 million) years. We may eventually find older fossils of hard-bodied creatures on Earth. Microfossil traces of single-cell life forms date back as far as 3,500,000,000 (3.5 billion) years. Using radioisotopic dating, the Earth is estimated to have been in existence for 4,550,000,000 (4.55 billion) years.
Is the Bible wrong? Before I attempt to answer this question, a number of issues must be addressed.
Where did life come from?
There are scientists who believe that life on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the Universe may have formed by itself, by accident, that there was no Creator and no predesign. Certain laboratory experiments have been conducted in the hope of producing a living cell, the basic unit of life. In these experiments, the conditions resembling those of our evolving planet about 3.5 billion years ago were duplicated, and with the help of electric sparks and other factors, amino acids and proteins were produced. However, all experiments have failed to produce a single living cell.
From the scientific viewpoint, everything in existence must have a beginning of some sort. Things do not appear out of nothing. If we try to trace their origin, sooner or later we will reach a dead end. For example, if we say that it is raining, we are implying that the evaporation of water from the Earth's surface causes a certain amount of moisture to develop in the atmosphere. This moisture is carried by air jets until it collides with a cold front, which causes condensation that falls back to the surface of the Earth in the form of rain. This cycle repeats indefinitely as long as the conditions are appropriate. The question is, How did the water come into existence? Which came first, the moisture in the atmosphere that condensed or the water that evaporated from seas and oceans? No matter which one we select as our answer, what created it?
If we talk about a new-born baby, we are indirectly talking about the product of a female egg and a male sperm. The question is this: Where did the first female egg and male sperm come from? Were they the product of a chemical reaction? If so, what elements were involved? What external forces were applied, and what created these elements? Even if we were able to discover their source, how was the first human being conceived without a womb? Which came first, the baby or the egg? If we say the egg, what created the egg? If we say the baby, what created the baby?
Likewise, other theories claim that life on Earth may have come from other parts of the Universe, carried here by meteorites or comet fragments. Even if these theories are accurate, how did life exist aboard a meteorite or comet? How did it survive entry into Earth's atmosphere? Where did it come from? And how did such life produce the complex structures of living creatures on Earth?
How long did it take to create the Universe?
When we are told that the Universe was created in six days, are we talking about Earth days? Remember that each Earth day represents a complete 360-degree rotation of the planet. Because, by definition, the Earth and the other planets of the solar system revolve around the Sun once a year, an Earth year is longer than a year on Mercury and considerably shorter than a year on Jupiter or Saturn. The Sun revolves around the Milky Way galaxy once every 230 million Earth years (one solar year). As you can see, time is a relative measurement, and without further clarification of the six-day creation reference point, we have no idea what period of time one God's day represents.
What is the origin of evil?
"And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9) This clearly indicates that evil was in existence before the fall of Adam and Eve. If God is "all good" and the sole Creator, why did evil come into existence? Why doesn't Genesis mention anything about it? Some theories propose that evil may have come into existence after a group of angels rebelled against God and were transformed from good into evil beings. In reality, no one knows.
If Adam was created by a power that is "all good," why was it necessary to test Adam's goodness? What does this mean? What are the consequences of choosing evil? According to the Bible: "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." (Genesis 3:3) So if Adam and Eve had not eaten from this tree, they might have lived forever. Instead, because they ate the fruit, they were condemned to die: "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:19) Was it really a serpent that tempted Eve? Did Adam and Eve communicate with all animals, or was the serpent another symbol for Satan?
Was the forbidden fruit just a fruit?
According to all holy books, God is very merciful. Based on this quality of His, doesn't it seem odd to you that God would condemn Adam and Eve to death for eating a forbidden fruit? Or is this fruit really a symbol of something else, such as sex? Why else would they feel ashamed for being nude after eating this "forbidden fruit" and use leaves to cover their bodies? Could it be that abstinence from sex was one of the fundamental tests that Adam and Eve had to pass in their life, yet failed?
How did the descendants of Adam populate the Earth?
Were Adam and Eve really the first humanlike creatures on Earth, or did they coexist with other humanlike creatures? When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they had two sons, Cain and Abel. When Cain killed Abel, " the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." (Genesis 4:15) Who was there besides Adam and Eve to kill him? Adam was 130 years old when his third son, Seth, was born.
Now consider this passage: "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch." (Genesis 4:17) But where did Cain's wife come from? Also, why was Cain building a city? How many inhabitants of Earth were there to justify building a city? And here is another passage: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:4) Who were these giants? If the male descendants of Adam were known as the "sons of God," why were the daughters called "daughters of men," unless they were not Adam's descendants? All indications lead me to believe that the Earth was already inhabited by human beings when Adam and Eve were driven out from the Garden of Eden.
This brings me back to the question posed earlier: Is the Bible wrong, or are our scientific data wrong? I believe that they are both correct. Theologians are correct in saying that Adam lived and fathered his first descendants less than 10,000 years ago, but they are incorrect in linking the presence of Adam and Eve to the beginning of life on Earth. The scientific evidence available to us today is overwhelming and unrefutable. The Earth has gone through billions of years of development and has always supported some form of life. Since science cannot be called upon to provide the answers, and we can't rely on the holy books for clear answers, then is our only choice to resort to the field of metaphysics?
Once we start digging into the field of metaphysics, we run across many theories of existence, and with each theory, a number of associated interpretations. We begin to ask ourselves if reality is strictly materialistic. Idealistic? Neutralistic? Dualistic? Pluralistic? We analyze each theory and put it up against our beliefs in life, and it either clicks or it doesn't. Most of the ontological theories have valid arguments, and now after going through thousands of pages of research, are we any closer to discovering absolute reality? I don't think so. The child who asks how babies are born and is told the story of the birds and the bees will continue to hold such a belief. The mind of the child is programmed with this information, and the reprogramming that occurs when the father, mother, brother, sister, friend, or sex education teacher reveals to the child that babies come as a result of sexual intercourse between a male and a female is usually traumatic.
Absolute reality is not something we can research. It can be way beyond what human beings can understand. Little by little and over thousands of years, small portions of absolute reality are revealed to us, usually through the words of a "Prophet," but never the entire reality. Once the small portions of absolute reality are accepted and grasped, our life is no longer the same. Consider, for example, the effect that Christianity had on people 2000 years ago. Who among the converts at that time ever thought that to obtain eternal life, forgiveness, compassion, and love had to be applied in everyday life and were corequisites with the belief in God? Clearly, Christianity added a little bit of information about reality, and now, after 2000 years, we are desperately ready for more.
Chapter 2 The Daheshist Philosophical Beliefs
Can science come up with answers to the following questions: Is there a Creator? What is the purpose of our creation? Is there an ultimate reality? Did we exist before our birth? Will we exist after our death? Is our behavior predetermined, or is it subject to free will? Who are we? If there were scientific facts that could be used to answer these questions, there would be no such thing as philosophy. Because science is incapable of addressing such issues, philosophy has emerged as a discipline. Once a subject becomes fully explainable by scientific facts, it ceases to be a philosophical issue. Philosophers study every issue that science cannot address and then formulate theories that attempt to explain each issue. These philosophical views are very diverse. Each philosopher sees things in a certain way, and almost always, the philosopher's views are influenced by his or her beliefs in life.
Take, for example, the issue of abortion. Science can fully explain the process of bearing a child from the moment the female egg becomes fertile up to the point of birth. If at any point during her pregnancy a woman decides to have an abortion, science can provide the answer on how best to do it, whether through the use of drugs or through a surgical procedure. The problem begins when the morality of abortion is questioned. Is an abortion the same as killing a human being? Proponents of a woman's right to an abortion do not think so. Most of them believe that the fetus is not a human being, that life as a human being begins at birth. Whenever the pregnant woman decides to abort her pregnancy, she should be able to do so because it is her own body that is affected. Opponents of abortion argue otherwise, that the life of the human being begins at the moment of conception (that is, when the female egg is fertilized). Deliberately aborting a pregnancy is the same as killing another human being. Science can never determine whether life begins at conception or birth because life is an abstract thing. What is life? So the issue becomes an ethical one, a playground for philosophy. If science is ever capable of providing a definite answer, then the entire issue of abortion will be resolved one way or the other.
The abortion example is a rather simplistic one compared with the issues of existence and creation. Philosophers since the dawn of history have tackled these issues, and many, many philosophies have developed. We must ask two interrelated questions: Since all such philosophical views are not in agreement with each other, does this mean that only one of them can be correct? If so, how do we determine which view is the correct one? A definitive answer to these questions would imply that the selected philosophy managed to unravel and explain everything that needs to be explained in life. In my opinion, such a philosophy can never exist within the framework of human existence. The reasons for this will become obvious in the following chapters. Almost all philosophies contain some elements of truth, but none of them contains the whole truth. Trying to develop an accurate theory of reality is just like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the picture looks like and with two-thirds of the pieces missing. With only a third of the pieces available, we are expected to predict the whole picture. If we are lucky, we will be able to assemble some pieces to form a small fraction of the image, but in no way is the whole picture predicted. This is the case with the best of the available philosophies. Once assembled, these partial images can fit anywhere in the plane of the puzzle.
The Daheshist philosophical beliefs are in no way an explanation of the entire picture. They do not claim to provide answers to such questions as, What is God? What is the purpose in our creation? Why does evil exist? These questions and many others are beyond the scope of Daheshism. However, the Daheshist philosophical beliefs do answer a number of questions that are impossible to explain traditionally. They provide additional pieces to add to our jigsaw puzzle so that we can get a little bit closer to the entire picture. Daheshism also provides the exact position of some of the partial images in the puzzle plane so that we don't need to keep on guessing about their location.
Partial Image 1: God
Let's take it one step at a time and assume for a while that our existence, the way we understand it, is the real existence. The first question that comes to mind is, How did we come to exist? There are two widely held views on this subject. The first and most common is the theist view, which states that we were created by a supernatural power (God). The second is the atheist view, which rejects the concept of God and attributes our existence first to an accident and then to an evolutionary process.
Scientifically speaking, we can trace back the existence of life at the most primitive level (single-cell life forms) about 3.5 billion years. For about a billion years before that, it is believed that conditions on Earth were not conducive to life. According to the atheist view, life forms developed strictly as a chemical reaction in which organic molecules joined to form amino acids, which in turn joined in long strings to form peptides. Peptides can form chains to make up proteins, which in turn react with other material to form protoplasm, which is the complex fluid found in cells. But this is not the whole story, because inside the nuclei of cells there exist two complex types of molecules, RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), that contain all the necessary information for the cell to reproduce. In other words, the cell contains engineering blueprints. Each living species, whether human, animal, or plant, is a collection of these cells. Scientific experiments so far have failed to produce a single living cell. The question remains, Is our existence an accident or is it preconceived?
Illustration 1. Our Sun is a star in a galaxy called the Milky Way
that contains 100 billion Stars. Our galaxy is one of thousands
if not millions of galaxies that form the Universe.
Photograph courtesy of NASA.
If we assume that the formation of life on Earth was nothing more than a chemical reaction, then what created the essential elements used in the process? According to the latest theories, Earth was formed at the same time as our Sun, about 4.5 billion years ago, by means of collisions of planetesimals from the dust clouds of the solar nebula. Our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy, where our Sun is one star of 100 billion (see Illustration 1). There are thousands if not millions of galaxies similar to ours that make up the Universe. From where did this vast Universe come? Scientists have detected that galaxies are moving out and away from each other in a rather uniform way. By extrapolating their movement backward, scientists have concluded that all the galaxies originated from the same point 10-20 billion years ago. The galaxies formed and became separate as a result of an explosion of some sort; hence the Big Bang theory. Cosmic particles from the explosion, after cooling off, condensed to form the various stars and planets that make up the galaxies.
What exploded in the Big Bang? Scientists have developed a model to attempt to explain what exploded and how it came into existence. Their model is called the Inflationary Universe Model. According to this model, without going into too much technical detail, at Planck time (10-43 seconds after the Big Bang), particles and antiparticles (mass) may have appeared out of "nothing" as a result of quantum fluctuations. For this to happen, an excited state of vacuum must be present. Under certain conditions, the newly created mass undergoes a massive expansion that resembles an explosion, namely, the Big Bang. From where did the excited state of vacuum come? This excited vacuum is hardly "nothing." No matter how far scientists go to prove that the Universe created itself, they reach a point where they must have a preexisting condition. So atheists cannot prove that the world created itself, nor can theists prove that it did not. This leads many to the belief that God's existence can be neither proved nor disproved. This state is referred to as agnosticism.
But wait a second. Are we expected to prove or disprove the existence of God based on the natural laws of the Universe? What if there is a force beyond the natural laws of the Universe? How can we even begin to understand this force, let alone explain it scientifically? Atheists generally believe that the Universe is strictly materialistic in nature (the monistic materialistic/naturalistic/mechanistic view). They claim that the burden of proof for the existence of God is upon the theist and that the theist cannot supply the proof. I ask them again to prove scientifically that the Universe created itself from "nothing" without any preexisting conditions, that is, without any time-space relationship or an excited-vacuum state. I also ask them to take all the matter in the world and create a single living cell. In my opinion, Galileo was absolutely correct in saying that religion and science are two truths that should never conflict. One deals with the supernatural essence of God, and the other deals with the natural laws of the Universe that God created.
So if there is a force that created the Universe yet is beyond the natural laws of the Universe, what do we know about it? Nothing that we can look up in scientific books gives us a single clue. If we search in religious books, we gain a little bit of information. Some holy books call this Creating Force God, Allah, Yahweh, or Jehovah. What we learn about this Creating Force is that it is pure, loving, caring, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, merciful, generous, patient, sincere, and many other things. We also learn that the Creating Force requires our absolute obedience and awe. Holy books are full of descriptions of incidents when man deviated from the laws set forth by God and was punished as a result (Noah's flood, Lot's Sodom and Gomorra). What things boil down to is faith in the existence and eternity of God. If we exist, it is because God created us. This is a fundamental component of Daheshist philosophy.
It is bad enough to have to ask the question, Do you exist?, let alone to ask the question, Why do you exist? There can only be one correct answer to the latter question. However, if this question is posed to different people, it will yield many answers depending on the philosophical beliefs of each individual. Most likely, none of the answers will be correct. Some groups of people who believe in the Creator have gone so far in their attempt to find an answer to the question of why we were created as to commit heresy. Take the example of Edgar Casey and his followers. In a publication called Be Still and Know, by Mary Ann Woodward, you will find the following:
God created man that he might become a companion to Him. Thus we were created as equal or as co-creators; so are we also a part of this One Force.
And in a question posed to Edgar Casey:
Q: The first problem concerns the reason for creation. Should this be given as God's desire to experience Himself, God's desire for companionship, God's desire for expression-or in some other way?
A: God's desire for companionship and expression.
How did Edgar Casey and his followers arrive at this conclusion? How can they even begin to understand what God is, let alone what his needs are? In reality, nobody in this world knows what the purpose is in creating the Universe and everything in it. "We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport: We created them not except for just ends: But most of them do not understand." (Sura XLIV: Dukhãn 38-39).
Take the view of those of the Christian faith, who believe that Jesus Christ is God, that he came to us in the form of a human being to save us by subjecting himself to ridicule, beating, insults, and crucifixion by the creatures he supposedly created! Where in the Bible does Jesus claim he is God? Actually, for those who are very familiar with the Bible, Jesus even refused to be called "good master" because he was not perfect. "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God." (Mark 10:18) Besides, if Jesus Christ was God, to whom was he praying just before he was delivered? Would God pray to Himself? Also, when he was on the cross, why did he say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) If Jesus Christ is God, then his question is illogical and nonsensical. Another component of Daheshist philosophy is the rejection of Jesus Christ as God Almighty. Jesus Christ is viewed as a great Prophet. Jesus Christ was merely a messenger of God, albeit a great one, who descended to Earth to deliver a message to us. His message of love, compassion, and righteousness is accepted unconditionally by any individual who believes in the Daheshist philosophy.
Partial Image 2: Religions
Nothing is more distressing than seeing the way religions are practiced today. People from all walks of life follow religious sects as if blindfolded, while others have turned away from religion to atheism because some of the things they have heard or read make no sense. Still others have turned to cults because they offer another way of life or alternative explanations to those of traditional religions. The formation of cults has, in some cases, led to disasters, such as the Jim Jones tragedy in Guyana or the David Koresh tragedy in Waco, Texas. Christianity is now divided into hundreds of sects; Islam and Judaism are also divided. Every sect claims to be "correct." How can we determine who is right and who is wrong? Unfortunately, people have forgotten the very essence of religions: seeking the truth about our existence and our relationship with the Creator.
But how can you seek the truth if you are raised not to question what your priest or religious leaders tell you? If you are a Christian, please read the New Testament and try to analyze what it says. If you are a Moslem, please read and analyze the Koran. If you are a Jew, read and analyze the Old Testament. A true intellectual will not take things for granted but will research the subject matter for as long as is necessary to form an opinion. No matter which religion you belong to or which holy book you believe in, the underlying essence of all religions is the same. This is another component of Daheshist philosophy. All religions call for
- The belief in one Creator, no matter whether you call this creating force God,
Allah, or some other name.
- Decent and righteous human behavior.
- The belief in life after death.
Since the essence of all religions is the same, does it really matter how you worship your Creator? Does it really matter which church, mosque, or synagogue you attend, which food you eat, or whether you face Mecca when you pray? In some ways it does matter, and in others it doesn't. It is very important to separate the essence of a religion from the social application of that religion. A religion comes into existence at a certain time and in a certain place for a certain group of people. It develops in a form these people can accept, at their level of comprehension. Islam, for example, came to the mostly pagan people of the Arabian Peninsula in a form that was appropriate for their life-style and understanding.
As a religion evolves, its essence is accompanied by a set of practices developed by its founder and later by its followers. Thus, religious holidays come into existence to mark significant events, prayer evolves in a form that cannot easily be forgotten, and specific rules develop to govern marriage, death, health, and other aspects of life. Jews today are following many of the same social customs that have been practiced since Moses; Christians, since Jesus Christ; and Moslems, since Mohammed.
Even the youngest of these three religions is about 1400 years old. Isn't it about time people looked at traditional laws and questioned how applicable they are to life in the twentieth century? Does it make sense to incite a religious revolution to force the people of the twentieth century to adhere strictly to rules that were first imposed on the people of the sixth century? Is the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism, white Christian supremacy, or Jewish fundamentalism a positive direction for this era?
Some religions develop to complement older religions. Christianity is one of these. "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Leviticus 24:20) from Judaism is replaced in Christianity by "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:39) In the first century, Jews were ready to shake loose the social rules and regulations they had inherited a few thousand years earlier and move on to a more mature level. Jesus Christ challenged these social rules without contradicting the Ten Commandments.
This is illustrated in several Biblical passages when Jesus Christ violates the traditions of the Sabbath. "And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do." (Mark 7:6-8) "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17)
Islam, on the other hand, came to pagan nations, and in no way does it reject Judaism or Christianity. As a matter of fact, Jews and Christians were not forced to convert during the Islamic expansion. "Those who believe (in the Koran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Sura ii:Baqara 62) Islam explains further some of the incidents mentioned in the Bible, such as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Some Moslems argue that since Islam came last and since it is a message from the Divine Power, then the laws of Islam supersede all the laws of other religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, that the Koran is the only Holy Book to be read and accepted, and that everything else is null and void. Some may provide as an example a law that is passed by a government that repeals a previous law. It is really unfair to compare the laws of a Divine Book with the laws created by man. Man enacts laws to reflect what is perceived to be the common good of a society. These laws need not be moral nor acceptable by the Divine Power. As an example, if the U.S. government enacts a law that makes homosexual marriages legal, such a law is not necessarily for the better. If man repeals a law and enacts another, it is because human rationality demands it, and it is really insignificant. When it comes to holy books, this is not the case. Prophets come to complement the works of other Prophets and to explain more than what was explained earlier but not to destroy the teachings of the earlier ones. The way I see them, holy books are nothing but the foundations we must have to obtain a coherent structure.
Since the essence of all religions is the same, any individual who seeks to broaden his or her understanding of religions should feel free to study all holy books, stripping away the social aspects of each and then comparing them without bias. The acceptance of all the Prophets of God (Jesus Christ, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Dahesh, and others) and the true advocates of peace and social reform (Gandhi, Martin Luther, and others) is another component of Daheshist philosophy. When asked what my religion is, I reply that I am a Jew, a Christian, a Moslem, and a follower of many other faiths, all in one, for I am a Daheshist. Once you understand that the essence of a religion is what really counts, your attitude toward other religions will change. When an individual understands this, he or she can work to crush the religious barriers that lead nations to war or to mend the wounds of a civil war fueled by religious hatred. "The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee-and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus; namely, that ye should remain steadfast in Religion, and make no divisions therein." (Sura xlii:Shura 13)
Some argue that it is impossible to be a Christian, a Jew, a Moslem, and a follower of other faiths at the same time. How can somebody be all three, a Republican, a Democrat, and an independent, at the same time? My answer to such an argument is that it is inappropriate to pass on the political analogy of Republican versus Democrat versus independent as a logical argument. In politics and human life such an analogy is acceptable, but for a spiritual truth it is not. There is only one truth. It may take on different forms, yet it is only one. As long as you think in terms of your holy book and your religion as the only truth, it will remain difficult for you to understand how to believe in all religions. Not until you open your mind and think rationally and without bias will you realize this state of mind.
But how can you believe in all religions, knowing that there are major differences between them? There are major differences between what each religion calls for and between what is being practiced. In the New Testament, for example, Jesus Christ never claims that he is God; however, Christians all over the world believe that he is. The Koran rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ and views him as a great Prophet. Likewise, Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, but the Koran says that he was not. How can such a problem be reconciled? As far as the crucifixion is concerned, both the Bible and the Koran are correct. The people at that time did see Jesus Christ on the cross, and they did see him die, but what they did not know is that it was simply a transfiguration by a spiritual entity. It was a spiritual look-alike and not Jesus Christ the human Prophet who was on the cross. Jesus the man was not crucified because he requested not to be. "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) The Koran is correct in saying, "But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them." (Sura iv:Nisaa 157)
So as you can see, Christians and Moslems are calling for the same thing; however, what is being practiced today puts them at odds. Just because Jews refuse to accept that Jesus Christ did come does not make their religion wrong. Each Christian and Moslem believes in the Old Testament, but they only accept the contents of their holy book as "the only truth." I have no problem accepting Judaism, even though Jews do not believe that Jesus Christ came. Similarly, I believe that Mohammed is a Prophet, unlike most Christians, who reject this notion, but this does not make Christianity wrong. Similarly, I believe that Dahesh is a Prophet, unlike what some Jews, Christians, Moslems, and others say, but that does not make Judaism, Christianity, or Islam wrong.
Keep in mind, however, that the accuracy of the Old and New Testaments are in question. There is no denying that many of the events mentioned did take place, but certain details have been added, and others have been deleted. The various pieces of the New Testament, for example, were not collected in one volume until hundreds of years after Jesus Christ. Similarly, it could be argued that the Old Testament is a collection of many scrolls that were written at different times and by different people. The writers may or may not have necessarily been the Prophets themselves, and the actual writing may have occurred long after the death of the Prophets.
The original messages of most religions, then, were probably altered through repeated recitation before they were written down. As these writings were compiled, essential material may have been lost, and nonessential material may have been added. As any holy book (except the Koran) was translated from its original language, further error may have been introduced. Improperly chosen words may have had a significant effect on meaning.
The interpretation of holy books is yet another matter to consider. The interpretation of the same text by different people centuries apart may differ significantly. Likewise, the interpretation of the same text by different people at the same time who have different cultural or educational backgrounds may also differ significantly. The many quotes from the Koran used in this book are translations from the original Arabic text by A. Yusuf Ali (1934 and 1938). In his notes about the interpretation of the Koran, he states:
Our difficulties in interpretation often arise from various causes, of which I will mention just a few:
1-Arabic words in the Text have acquired other meanings than those which were understood by the Apostle and his Companions. All living languages undergo such transformations.
2-Even since the early Commentators wrote, the Arabic language has further developed, and later Commentators often abandon the interpretations of earlier Commentators without sufficient reason.
3-Classical Arabic has a vocabulary in which the meaning of each root-word is so comprehensive that it is difficult to interpret it in a modern analytical language word for word, or by the use of the same word in all places where the original word occurs in the Text. An Arabic word is often a full ray of light; when a translator looks at it through the prism of a modern analytical language, he misses a great deal of its meaning by confining his attention to one particular colour.
4-An opposite error sometimes arises because in certain matters the rich vocabulary of the Qur'an distinguishes between things and ideas of a certain kind by special words, for which there is only a general word in English.
5- man's intelligence is limited at its very best. In the same individual it grows and declines according to the strength of his powers and the width of his experience. If we take mankind collectively the variations are even greater from age to age and from people to people.
Prophets differ in their social rules and regulations because each religion comes to a certain group of people at a certain time and place. Most Prophets receive strict divine orders as far as what is acceptable and what is not, but some of the social rules and regulations are put into practice after the Prophet's death. There is no doubt in my mind that Islam was appropriate for the people of the Arabian peninsula 1400 years ago, but it is incorrect to assume that it is appropriate for the entire world until doomsday. God alone knows what is best for a particular people and age. No traditional religion is the only truth or the only solution for this era and the future.
It is extremely painful to hear of a war or a regional conflict that is fueled by religious hatred. History has given us many examples of such conflicts. The Christian Crusades of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries attempted to free the Holy Land from the hands of the Moslems. There have been many such wars in modern times: the wars between the Arabs and Israel; the civil wars in Cyprus, Lebanon, Ireland, and Bosnia; and the conflicts in India between Sïkh and Hindu, Moslem and Hindu, and Sïkh and Moslem. Such conflicts are actually economic or territorial, with a religious facade. Why is it that some members of one religion look down on those of another? How can such people be absolutely sure that they are right and that others are wrong? What role do religious leaders play in fueling such behavior?
If you travel by car from Jeddah to Taïf in Saudi Arabia, you reach a point where the road is closed to everyone but Moslems because it passes through Mecca. People of other faiths must take a long detour, commonly called "the Road of the Infidels." Are the Moslems of Saudi Arabia following the true spirit of Mohammed's message? What makes these Moslems think they are pure but other people are unclean?
It is time for such barriers to be removed. Unlike political barriers, such as the Berlin Wall, which lasted for only a few decades, the barriers of religious hatred and discrimination have endured for centuries. How can fathers and mothers raise their children to look down on-even hate-those of other faiths? How can such hatred be reversed? Can the people of Lebanon, Bosnia, and other places heal their wounds overnight? Is the son able to forgive the group that killed his father? The American Civil War ended more than a century ago, yet racial hatred and discrimination persist in the hearts of some Americans. Religious civil wars have the same consequences.
Truly rational people, rather than adopt the hatred fostered by religious wars, first try to understand what their own religion teaches and then what the "opposing" religion teaches. But the ultimate force to change, to bring an end to hatred, can only come from within people's hearts.
Partial Image 3: Houses of Worship
About two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ entered the Great Temple in Jerusalem and became very angry: "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Matthew 21:12-13) It is also fitting to review what Jesus Christ thought of the "men of the cloth" of his time:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ. ...
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. ...
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the Prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. ...
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
In the Koran: "O ye who believe! There are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the Way of God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of God: announce unto them a most grievous penalty." (Sura ix:Tauba 34)
In many ways, some of today's men of the cloth are not much different from those at the time of Jesus, and in many cases they have surpassed them in hypocrisy and selfish behavior. This is not to say that all men of the cloth are like that. Most of the clergy have initially been driven to become such by high moral values and the feeling that they should help humanity and at the same time get closer to God. However, in many cases, after their initial enthusiasm has cooled off, the weakness of the human spirit and body dominates. Now the conflict between good and evil within them is stronger than ever. First, they have a public image to uphold and cannot openly give in to their desires. Second, many have an oath of celibacy to reckon with, and this is where the irony begins.
We are all human, and we all have physical and non-physical needs, but it is improper to preach chastity while secretly carrying on illicit love affairs. This is the same as lying. Would a society tolerate the idea of having a police officer-who took an oath to enforce the law-accept bribes and allow the law be violated? Why should the clergy be any different? It is very sad to read in the papers about the scandals that involve the clergy. How should society react to child molestation and rape by the clergy? How can parents, after reading about such scandals, trust that their children are perfectly safe in the hands of the clergy? How about the financial misconduct of some? I was shocked to hear on an investigative TV program that 35-50 percent of Catholic priests are gay, and it is not unlikely that similar numbers can be found among other sects. I am not here to judge them, nor do I have the ability to read their thoughts, but I have lost faith in them. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and so-called "houses of prayer" are not true to the religions they claim to represent, and many of them are run by deceitful people. This is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
A little more than a year ago, I visited St. Paul's Cathedral in London. At the main entrance, I went to the door on the left and was told by two priests that I had to use the door on the right. I went to the door on the right and opened it, and I was dazzled by the sight of three priests standing behind cash registers. I paid the admission fee, and entered the main hall. At that point I was shocked to see two or three souvenir shops. I asked myself, "How is this scene different from the one Jesus Christ encountered when he entered the Great Temple?" Incidentally, on my way out, I saw the same two priests who told me to use the right-hand door running after a woman because she somehow entered through the wrong door (that is, the door without the cash registers).
Without clergy, how can people pray to God? "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:5-6) This one-to-one relationship between each one of us and the Creator is precisely what is called for under the Daheshist philosophical beliefs. This is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
Partial Image 4: Life and Death
Why are we born on Earth? Who are we? Did we exist before our birth? Where are we going after death? Is there life beyond this planet, or are we all alone in this Universe? Did we have a choice about whether or not to live this life, or was it forced on us by our parents? By God? What is the purpose of our existence? Why are we born so much different from each other? Why are some people born wealthy while others are born very poor? Why are some people born with great talents-Mozart, Einstein, Shakespeare-while others have no exceptional talents, hardly any talents, or even mental retardation? Why are some people born with a physical defect, such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis, while others are born healthy? Why is one person born in an African country while another is born in Western Europe or the United States? Why are some born into a compassionate and loving family environment while others are born into a mean and hateful environment? Why do some people love their brothers and sisters so much while others cannot stand being with them for a minute? Is man the only living entity with a soul? Do animals have feelings? What about plants?
These are a few of the things that are puzzling about life. Most people look at life in a simplistic way and ignore what is not very obvious. Take, for example, the words of Sevak Das, as published by Abiding Publications: "Joy as happiness and fulfillment is obviously the terminal goal of all life." And "In the beginning there was Joy. Joy was Awareness. Awareness was Joy. It still is that way. It will always be that way. Joy is infinite. Awareness is infinite. Being is Joy. Joy is Being. Being is Awareness. Awareness is Being." What seems to be missing here is the presence of linkage. Why do we exist the way we do? What is our relationship with other species? How do we fit in this vast Universe? What is to become of us after death? From where did we come? Why are we so different from each other? These and many other issues are just as important to explore and understand to have a meaningful philosophy of life. The words of Sevak Das are beautiful. Harmony with the Universe and other creatures should be achieved, but again, what is missing here is why? If joy is the purpose of our existence, allow me to ask the following question: How did Sevak Das arrive at this conclusion? Is it written anywhere in the holy books that it is so? Is it spoken that way by a Prophet? Or should we simply accept his word that it is?
So what is life all about? Is it the number of physical assets we collect? The amount of money we have in the bank? The kind of car we drive? The size of the house we live in? The neighborhood we are in? The schools we attend? The number of children we have? The physical and intellectual characteristics of each individual? The position we hold in a profession? The status in society that we may hold? The amount of time we spend studying and reading? The amount of pleasurable moments we have in sports and other physical activities? The amount of sex we have? The sharing and giving? The compassion and love toward others? The love of nature and its creatures? The hard work or its avoidance? The social groups we belong to? The church, mosque, temple, or synagogue we attend? The food we eat? The country we live in? The language we speak? Some may say it is all of these things and more; others may say it is only a few of these things; and very few may say that although many of these things are needed to have a meaningful life, they do not define what life is all about. This last happens to be the view of Daheshist philosophy.
Atheists view these things as the fundamentals of life. Once life is no more, then you have nothingness. To them I say, "If this is what life is all about, then I don't want it. Give me a single reason why I should continue to live." It is interesting to note that many atheists hold ideals in life. Even though they do not believe in a Creator or an afterlife, they distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, for no other purpose than to improve the quality of their perceived life and to pass on such a life to their offspring. Some of them are activists for a cleaner environment and sound political and social structures, and of course, some of them just don't give a damn.
The understanding of people from the teachings of holy books is the existence of life after death. Man needs to live righteously and follow the rules set forth in holy books to attain a blissful eternal life, where pain and misery are no more. If a person deviates from the rules set forth in holy books and lives a life of evil and wickedness, then an eternal life of misery and pain awaits him or her. Thus, the general understanding that people grasp from traditional religious teachings about life after death is the mutually exclusive nature of heaven and hell. Man can either go to heaven or go to hell. Life after death is viewed as one of two poles: One is bright, joyful, and good, while the other is dark, miserable, and evil (see Illustration 2).
It is commonly believed that after death, man will go either to Heaven or to Hell.In the past, Catholicism introduced "limbo," or nothingness, for non-Catholics. Catholics believed that non-Catholics would enter into a state of eternal "unsatisfied longing" as their only torment because they would not be exposed to the sight of God. This was one of the most negative beliefs in Catholic doctrine. How could Catholics have believed that every non-Catholic is doomed?
The concept of heaven and hell seems simple enough, but let me ask you the following questions: Is it not written that "the wages of sin is death"? (Romans 6:23) Who among us is sinless? Does this mean that we are all doomed? If you ask the clergy about this, they tell you that God forgives, so don't worry about it. If this is the case, then what is to stop a man from committing every evil act he can think of and, right before death, repenting and asking sincerely for forgiveness? Is this man destined to go to heaven to join those who lived their entire lives righteously? Why did God drown all of humanity in the days of Noah? How come God didn't wait until they died? Why didn't God forgive them? Were they all doomed to go to hell? Something is dead wrong here, and I don't think that we have the entire picture. We have to remember that the youngest of the main religions is about 1400 years old. Could it be that people at that time were incapable of understanding a more comprehensive explanation of heaven and hell? Any individual who reads the New Testament will run into the following verses: Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (Matthew 15:15-16)
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. (Mark 4:34)
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
The answer given to a child when it asks where babies come from is usually the story of the birds and the bees. I think that holy books give us precisely the birds-and-bees version of the truth. There are, however, many verses in all holy books that allude to the absolute truth about heaven and hell, but before we begin to explore them, a number of issues need to be addressed.
All holy books state that God is just, fair, and loving, among many other qualities. But how do we explain the presence of unequal suffering on Earth? Why is one person born healthy while another is born with a physical ailment? Why is one person born in the United States, where medicine and food are plentiful, while another is born in a poor African country, where famine and disease may not allow the child to survive childhood? Why is one person born wealthy while another is born in absolute poverty? If you ask the clergy, they tell you that this is the will of God and that each is judged according to his or her experiences. This makes absolutely no sense at all. If we are to be tested by God, then why give one person an easier test than another person? A poor individual may work two jobs to make ends meet, while a middle-class or wealthy individual need not do this. Likewise, the poor person has to suffer from hunger and diseases and lack of medicine, warm clothing, and shelter. But why are we not all subjected to the same conditions on Earth? Why is one person born blind, yet another is born with full sight? Why do some people have a harder life than others? Why are some people, such as Einstein and Mozart, born with exceptional talents while others are born with few or are even retarded?
If we probe the holy books for answers, the picture becomes a little bit clearer: "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1-2). In other words, an association is made between sins and physical defects. But how could this man be paying for his sins if he was born blind? For this to be true, there must have been a previous life. This relationship between sins and physical defects is clearly stated by Jesus Christ: "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?" (Mark 2:9) That is, to forgive him for his sins is to cure his physical defect. And "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." (John 5:14) "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:11-13) How could Elijah be John the Baptist? Doesn't this imply that there is a previous life and an afterlife, in other words, reincarnation?
From the Koran: "How can ye reject the faith in God? Seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return." (Sura ii:Baqara 28) Our current life is nothing but a small chapter in the book of life. The leaping from one chapter to another is accomplished through reincarnation. This is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
Now that we have established the point that each individual existed prior to birth and will exist again in another life after death, we ask, Why? What purpose does reincarnation serve? It is very important to understand that whatever we do in this life affects the next life-or possibly the next several lives-and whatever we did in past lives affects this life and possibly subsequent lives. Whatever we plant, we harvest.Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness. (Sura xlii:Shura 30)
Such are the men whom God has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.
(Sura xlvii:Muhammad 23)
Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings .
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. (Psalms 18:20)This changes the entire picture of fairness. Now we understand that the child in the poor African country "deserved" to be born there for reasons only the Almighty knows.
Because God is just and fair, and since we are far away from perfection and cannot live our entire life without sin, reincarnation serves to give each of us a clean start. We will be punished for evil deeds that we have committed in our previous lives, and we will be rewarded for our good deeds. If each individual received full punishment in this life for his or her transgressions, life would be a living hell. But because God is merciful, in many cases we do not receive our punishment all at once or to its fullest; however, not all our transgressions are entirely forgiven: " and that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth." (Job 11:6)
The cycle of reincarnation continues as long as a single sin is committed. Now we understand what was meant by "For the wages of sin is death ." (Romans 6:23) Once we are sinless, eternal life awaits us, and death is no more. On the other hand, if we continue to regress, eternal suffering is our destiny. From this viewpoint, when we look around us and see the healthy and the sick, the wealthy and the poor, the talented and the ignorant, we realize that we are governed by a just and universal system. "Those who reject our signs are deaf and dumb,-in the midst of darkness profound: whom God willeth, he leaveth to wander: whom He willeth, He placeth on the Way that is Straight." (Sura vi:Anaam 39)
So how does this change our visualization of heaven and hell? Now, instead of showing heaven and hell as being mutually exclusive and existing external to Earth (see Illustration 2), they are shown as opposite ends of a spectrum of possibilities. There exist the purest of materialistic worlds, and these are the utmost paradise; moreover, there exist the darkest of worlds, and these are the utmost inferno. Everything in between is a combination and an order of magnitude. According to this definition, we live in a world where flashes of suffering and happiness are combined at various levels to form our life. In other words, on Earth we feel at times that we are in a hell-like environment and at other times in a heaven-like environment (see Illustration 3). It is impossible to move from any reference point to the utmost paradise in one step. This requires perfection and experiences beyond our comprehension, and who is perfect? Likewise, multiple reincarnation cycles prevent the regression to the utmost inferno. The belief in a universal system of justice that monitors our evil versus righteous behavior and implements the corresponding retribution is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
After every life cycle, depending on our deeds, we may fall anywhere in the spectrum.Our life on Earth need not be only in human form. It extends to all species to include animal life, vegetation, and even inanimate matter. They all have emotions and the freedom to choose between good and evil. It is very possible that each one of us in a previous life may have existed as an animal, a plant, or an inanimate object, and it is quite possible that we may take on such a life in the future. Although animals cannot speak to us using our languages, they have no problem communicating with each other using their own language(s). Animals have a world of their own with rules that govern it. They have to choose between good and evil, just as we do. We cannot communicate with them, for a reason that is kept unknown to us. According to the Koran, "There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end." (Sura vi:Anaam 38) In the Old Testament, "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee: and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10). The belief that all living species on Earth have souls is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
How can people read these lines from the holy books and declare that only members of the human species have a soul? What about the story of Balaam and the ass? (Numbers 22:23-33) Briefly, the ass that Balaam was riding saw the angel of the Lord that was about to take Balaam's life and tried to avoid it three times. When it was impossible to avoid the angel any longer, and after Balaam had beaten the ass three times, the ass was allowed to talk and asked Balaam why he had beaten her three times. Then Balaam was allowed to see the angel, and the angel of the Lord explained to him that the ass had saved him three times, and if it hadn't been for the ass, he would have been dead. The Koran also talks about animal life in a story about Solomon during one of his travels (Sura xxvii:Naml 17-19). An ant detects the nearing of Solomon's caravan and warns the other ants that they should hide so that Solomon won't crush them underfoot without his knowing. Solomon understands what the ant has said, smiles, and thanks the Lord for his blessings.
The Koran contains numerous verses about animals and other life forms: Seest thou not that it is God Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And God knows well all that they do. (Sura xxiv:Nur 41)
And the herbs and the trees-both (alike) bow in adoration. (Sura lv:Rahman 6)
We have decreed Death to be your common lot, and We are not to be frustrated from changing your Forms and creating you (again) in (Forms) that ye know not.
(Sura lvi: Waqia 60-61)
Say: 'Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from God? Those who incurred the curse of God and His wrath, those of whom some he transformed into apes and swine, Those who worshipped Evil;-These are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even Path!' (Sura v:Maida 63)
They say: 'What! When we are reduced to bones and dust, should we really be raised up (to be) a new creation?' Say: '(Nay!) be ye stones or iron, or created matter which, in your minds, is hardest (to be raised up)!-(yet shall ye be raised up)!'
(Sura xvii:Bani Israil 49:51) At this point, try to visualize this system as being universal. It is not only a system that is applicable to all life forms on Earth but a system that encompasses the entire Universe, with millions of galaxies and hundreds of millions of stars in each galaxy. We now understand what is meant by "In my Father's house are many mansions " (John 14:2) and by "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory." (1 Corinthians 15:41) Inhabitants of other worlds need not have human form or be made of flesh and blood. Each world is governed by certain rules that are only applicable to it. Some worlds, such as Earth, may be materialistic in nature. Others may be even more materialistic, and some may be less materialistic. The belief in other life forms throughout the Universe is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
We should not look at death as a bad thing but as a new beginning. As long as the individual lives his or her life righteously, there is nothing to worry about. If the deceased person did not lead a righteous existence, may God have mercy on him or her, for the suffering he or she undergoes in the next life may be extreme.
How many times have you felt that you have been in a certain place, even though it was your first time there? You may see a person for the first time and feel as though you have known this person for years as if he or she is your lost brother or sister, and joy fills your heart. Toward another person, you may feel indifferent; toward still another, you may feel hatred for no reason at all-or perhaps there is a reason. Your feelings may be the result of an encounter in a previous life.
One important aspect of reincarnation is that no one (except by a revelation through a Prophet of God to accomplish a specific objective) knows anything about his or her previous lives, so we can choose freely between good and evil, not out of fear. Can you imagine living your life knowing that in a previous life you had committed a horrible act? If the same situation occurs again, will you refrain from sin because you remember the punishment you received for your action in a past life, or will you refrain because the good in you triumphs over evil? If any individual claims knowledge of your past life or lives, you should not believe these claims unless you have solid proof that he or she is a Prophet sent by God.
Partial Image 5: Mechanics of Life
When holy books talk about the soul, are they actually talking about a fully bounded entity, or is the soul more dynamic? Traditionally, the soul is looked at as being an immortal entity that begins its existence with the birth of a child, maintains this existence along with the human body until death, and then has an existence separate from the human body for eternity. With reincarnation, the soul may have begun its existence before any time-and-space relationship existed (that is, before the Big Bang 10­p;20 billion years ago) and will continue to exist even after any time-and-space relationship ceases to exist (if ever). As long as there is reincarnation, the soul will always be linked to some sort of material existence (human, animal, plant, inanimate, or alien).
How can we identify what the soul is and how it relates to the rest of the souls in the Universe? Before we attempt to accomplish this task, allow me to ask a few simple questions: Why are there religious rules that forbid sexual promiscuity, sexual relationships between members of the same family or the same gender, and cross-species sexual intercourse? How about gambling? Or getting drunk? Since all these things may bring some people bodily pleasure, why did God forbid them all? Is God just trying to make our lives more difficult, or is there a reason behind it? The main reason behind such laws is the existence of spiritual fluids. The belief in spiritual fluids as the essence of existence is another component of Daheshist philosophy.
What are these spiritual fluids? Are they visible or invisible? Can they be detected? If they exist, why, then, don't holy books mention anything about them? In the simplest of terms, spiritual fluids are the extension of the spirit to the animate or inanimate world. They are the links to the eternal spirit that holy books talk about. They are spiritual cosmic frequency waves that are beyond the detection capability of our scientific instruments. Nor are they subject to the natural laws of the Universe. A collection of a certain number of spiritual fluids is collectively referred to as the soul. Spiritual fluids are divided into two groups: The first group is unique to a specific world. In the case of Earth, a unique collection of spiritual fluids makes up every species. For simplicity, we will call these Group 1-Earthly spiritual fluids.
Group 1-Earthly spiritual fluids are responsible for instructing atoms to combine in certain patterns to form organic or inorganic molecules. Spiritual fluids instruct the organic molecules to join to form amino acids. Spiritual fluids also instruct amino acids to join in long strings to form peptides, which in turn are instructed to form in chains to make up proteins. Proteins are instructed to react with other material to form protoplasm, which is the complex fluid found in cells. Spiritual fluids also instruct two types of molecules to form within each cell, namely, the RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules that contain all the necessary information for the cell to reproduce. Spiritual fluids instruct the different cells to combine in a certain pattern to form organs, which collectively make up each member of a species. For example, there is a unique collection of spiritual fluids that makes up a human being, another that makes up a dog, a cat, a deer, an ant, a tree, a plant. Besides being responsible for the formation of species, spiritual fluids also determine gender, skin color, and geographical location, among other things.
There are common spiritual fluids that are shared among the members of each species, and there are spiritual fluids that are shared between species. For example, most species that exist on this planet are born with sexual tendencies and the need to live with other members of the same species. On the other hand, some species are born with certain instincts (spiritual fluids) to help them survive or hunt for food. So far, we have been talking about Group 1-Earthly spiritual fluids, which are the type that govern our physical existence on Earth.
We will call the second group of spiritual fluids Group 2 spiritual fluids; these are cosmic and determine the character of the species. Qualities such as good behavior, love, devotion, compassion, trust, faith, loyalty, courage, truthfulness, and other redeeming attributes are extensions from the upper worlds, while envy, selfishness, hate, jealousy, greed, hurtfulness, and other degrading attributes are extensions from the lower worlds. Each one of us exhibits a combination of good and bad traits (Group 2 spiritual fluids). Thus, as each individual promotes the higher qualities, the individual elevates his or her spiritual fluids to a higher level, and if the individual promotes the lower qualities, that individual degrades his or her spiritual fluids to a lower level.
Each species exhibits what is called the prime spiritual fluid. This is the spiritual fluid that is primarily responsible for life. If the prime spiritual fluid leaves an individual, the phenomenon called "death" takes place, and another life begins somewhere in the Universe, depending on the level of this soul's Group 2 spiritual fluids as a result of all past lives. As an example of a spiritual link, suppose that a member of a species is involved in a very noble cause. This action may trigger the materialization of a Group 2 spiritual fluid in a different place in the Universe, where it takes on a certain form of life after the death of the individual on Earth, or even a concurrent life. This new life is determined by the Group 1­p;World 1 spiritual fluids that are particular to that world and by the Group 2 spiritual fluids of the soul. As a reward for the noble actions, the conditions in the new or concurrent life are much better than those on Earth. For example, there may not be disease or famine in the new world. Such a world may be thousands of years ahead of Earth intellectually and scientifically.
Likewise, if a member of a species is involved in a highly immoral activity, this may trigger the materialization of a Group 2 spiritual fluid elsewhere in the Universe, where it takes on another form of life after the death of the Earthly individual, or even a concurrent life. Again, this new life is determined by the Group 1­p;World 2 spiritual fluids that are particular to that world and by the Group 2 spiritual fluids of the soul. As punishment for the immoral act, the conditions in the new or concurrent life are much worse than those on Earth. For example, diseases and natural disasters may be prevalent. Such a world may be thousands of years behind Earth intellectually and scientifically.
There are 150 levels of lower worlds and 150 levels of upper worlds. Level 150 of the lower worlds is defined as the utmost inferno, while Level 150 of the upper worlds is defined as the utmost paradise. Unfortunately, holy books only refer to heaven and hell without mentioning anything else in between. The lower and upper worlds are characterized by a materialistic existence. Beyond this materialistic existence, there are 150 levels of the spiritual world. We don't know much about this spiritual world-it is God's world and is the source of Jesus Christ and all other Prophets and the home of all spirits.
Every spiritual fluid of a particular soul links this soul with a material world, either a lower world (lw) or an upper world (uw). The presence of a Group 2 spiritual fluid in any world means that an existence of some form must take place. As a very simple example, in Illustration 4, Soul 1 has a concurrent existence in uw1, uw3, lw1, lw2, and lw4, while Soul 2 has a concurrent existence in uw2, lw1, lw3, and lw150. It is not clear how many concurrent existences are permissible for each soul. The vastness of the Universe may have existed to prevent interference by species of lower-level worlds in the affairs of species of upper-level worlds; however, the opposite may not necessarily be true. Species of an upper world are more advanced scientifically and spiritually than are those of a lower world, but since their existence is materialistic in nature, they are most likely bound by the speed of light as the highest speed at which they can travel, unless some spiritual intervention is necessary to accomplish a certain objective.
A simplified example of a soul's concurrent existence within the materialistic upper and lower worlds.Just as Prophets come to Earth on a mission, so are they sent to other worlds for guidance. Each level consists of millions if not billions of worlds. In other words, there may be billions of worlds that are at the same spiritual level as Earth. Earth is ranked as Level 1 of the lower worlds. Once a spiritual fluid of a soul, through thousands if not millions of reincarnation cycles throughout the Universe, manages to rid itself of the tendencies of the lower worlds and move up to the highest possible level of the upper worlds, it reaches the level of perfection and enters the world of the spirits; that is, it has no more links to the material worlds for eternity. As long as any spirit is linked to a single Group 2 spiritual fluid (lower or upper) anywhere in the Universe, reincarnation will take place. How each spirit is related to other spirits in the spiritual world is unknown to us. The more elevated the Group 2 spiritual fluids connected to a spirit are, the higher the rank of that spirit in the spiritual world, likewise, the more degraded the Group 2 spiritual fluids connected to a spirit are, the lower the rank of that spirit in the spiritual world.
Group 2 spiritual fluids can easily be exchanged when one person interacts with others. It is for this specific reason that prolonged exposure to evil groups tends to have a negative impact on us, while exposure to righteous groups tends to have a positive impact. In other words, "bad apples spoil good apples." The exchange of spiritual fluids is even more pronounced in the case of sexual relationships.
When a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, they basically agree to merge some of their Group 2 spiritual fluids. It is for this specific reason that promiscuous sexual behavior is forbidden in most religions, although traditional religion does not explain why. Such a merger of Group 2 spiritual fluids, especially with those of many individuals, can be catastrophic. Individuals can be linked with each other for many lives to come, thus hindering their spiritual progression toward the upper worlds. At some point in time they may take on a life as husband and wife; in other lives, as father and daughter, father and son, mother and son, mother and daughter, brother and brother, brother and sister, or any other relationship.
Unless artificially prevented, the outcome of such a merger of Group 2 spiritual fluids is typically the birth of a child who is an extension of both individuals. The Group 1­p;Earthly spiritual fluids provide the cell and organ engineering that is needed, depending on the makeup of the man and woman (commonly known as genetic traits). The child may exhibit any physical ailments that exist in the parents; for example, if either of the parents has diabetes, there is a good chance that the child will contract diabetes at some time. In addition to this, the Group 1 spiritual fluids of the parents may not be very compatible, and the resulting child may be retarded or deformed. Such would be the case when both parents and child deserved to be in this situation for reasons pertaining to divine justice. The Group 2 spiritual fluids determine the character of the child. Because some of the parents' Group 2 spiritual fluids merged to produce the child, the child will exhibit some of the traits (spiritual fluids) that the parents exhibit. For example, the child may pick up greed and loyalty from the father and envy and jealousy from the mother, or vice versa, or any other possible combination. Haven't you heard the common saying "It runs in the family"? Of course, things are more complicated than this simplistic overview.
Because the child exhibits the Group 2 spiritual fluids of two souls, as it promotes the higher qualities, the child elevates the Group 2 spiritual fluids of both souls. Similarly, as the child promotes the lower qualities, the child degrades the Group 2 spiritual fluids of both souls. From this viewpoint, married couples should think through the matter thoroughly before deciding to bring a child into this world. The more extensions (children) of our spiritual fluids, the greater the risk of degrading the Group 2 spiritual fluids.
In the case of marriage between family members, as with a brother and sister, the Group 2 spiritual fluids of both are extensions of the same two souls. Group 1­p;Earthly spiritual fluids detect such a relationship, and the resulting child can be genetically deformed. In other words, for a reason unknown to us, a second-generation merger of Group 2 spiritual fluids of any two souls is forbidden; this is reflected explicitly in all major religions.
Chapter 3 Cause and Effect, Life's Realities and Ambiguities
Many of the things in life that we take for granted are not as simple as we might think. For example, what could be simpler than rain itself? Rain replenishes our wells, waters the land so that vegetation can grow, provides drinking water for all creatures, cleans pollution from the air, and provides ample water for washing our clothes and cars and for bathing. Sometimes, too much rain falls in a certain area and causes flooding, damage to property, loss of life, and other hardships. People call this an act of nature and bad luck, but why did this act of nature target a certain geographical area? Why would a tornado hit a certain town? Is it luck? "Seest thou not that God makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap?-Then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases. The vivid flash of His lightning well-nigh blinds the sight." (Sura xxiv:Nur 43)
If you believe that such a violent act of nature is nothing but a random occurrence, think again. These occurrences are no more random than Noah's flood. Although we cannot directly observe it, there exists a system of cause and effect that governs the world we live in. Nothing meaningful happens randomly or without a reason. "Luck" does not exist. When you are gambling and toss a pair of dice, the outcome is purely statistical. If you happen to roll a pair of sixes, it is because you had one chance in 36 (6 X 6) of rolling them. Incidents like this are not meaningful and serve no purpose.
On the other hand, suppose that while reading a book, you suddenly get an urge to go to the supermarket and pick up some milk. As you are driving to the store, another car comes out of nowhere, runs a stop sign, and slams into your car, severely injuring the other driver but leaving you unharmed. Is this incident a random occurrence, or was it meant to happen? The other driver swears that he didn't see the stop sign. What made you leave at that particular time? Why did this "accident" take place?
An earthquake may hit a city and seriously damage most buildings; some may even collapse. Immediately, rescue teams spring into action and work around the clock to find survivors. After days of being buried under the rubble, one individual is rescued, but all other members of his family are found dead. Is this luck? Why did the earthquake hit this particular city in the first place? Why are some people devastated while others are not harmed at all? Why does one man survive but the rest of his family die? Why does this survivor sustain so much pain and suffering? "No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: That is truly easy for God:" (Sura lvii:Hadid 22)
An airline passenger decides at the last minute to take another flight. Later, he hears on the news that a passenger plane has crashed and all passengers have been killed. To his shock, it is the flight that he was supposed to have taken. What made him alter his travel schedule at that moment? Was it a stroke of luck that he missed the flight, or was it somehow prearranged? Another plane crashes, and only a handful of passengers survive. Why do these particular passengers survive and not the others?
Why do accidents happen? Are they what we think they are, or are they carefully executed arrangements? You may have heard this phrase from physics that describes the behavior of forces: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." In the just universal system that we live under, the same principle applies, but the phrase used to describe it is "cause and effect." That is, for every cause, there is an equal effect. Such an effect may be either positive or negative. If you inflict pain on another individual, pain will be inflicted on you. If you cheat and steal, you will pay back your victims, voluntarily or involuntarily. On the other hand, if you live righteously and do nothing but good, the effect will be positive, and you will be rewarded in this life or in a life or lives to come. Such negative and positive reactions summarize what happens to us in real life. Even if it takes tens of incarnations to happen, there will be a reaction to each of your actions. It is quite possible that the results of your actions will occur not only in this world but in others. "(Remember also) Qarun, Pharaoh, and Haman: there came to them Moses with Clear Signs, but they behaved with insolence on the earth; yet they could not overreach (Us). Each one of them We seized for his crime: of them against some We sent a violent tornado (with showers of stones); some were caught by a (mighty) Blast; some We caused the Earth to swallow up; and some We drowned (in the waters): It was not God Who injured (or oppressed) them: They injured (and oppressed) their own souls." (Sura xxix:Ankabut 39-40).
This is where the big blur comes: If Christ's teachings replaced the maxim "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" with "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39), does this mean that Jews were taught incorrectly? How can one religion state something that is later reversed by a complementary religion? Unfortunately, the principle of "an eye for an eye" is interpreted as meaning that you should take revenge with your own hands, but this is not necessarily what the saying meant. The cause and effect (action and reaction) are automatic, and even after many, many incarnations, the effect or reaction may present itself as an opportunity to settle the account with the individual who caused you harm in the first place. Once this opportunity arrives, you may be avenged, and the requirements of the just universal system that we live under will be satisfied. This is not an invitation to violence: The settling of accounts could manifest itself in the form of an "accident" (that is, an event that is prearranged by supernatural forces) without the knowledge of the individuals involved. In some cases, the opportunity to inflict harm is presented in the form of a choice, and when such an opportunity arises, it is up to us to follow Jesus Christ's teaching and forgive. In so doing, we elevate our spirits to a higher level.
A country permits an individual to become a leader, and during his or her rule, the country either regresses or prospers. That the individual becomes a leader is not a random occurrence. The people of that country deserve to have that leader. For example, Abraham Lincoln led the United States during a period of bloody civil war, but as a result, the Union was preserved and the evil of slavery was abolished. The United States deserved to have a leader like Lincoln. As a result, the country prospered and became the greatest nation on Earth. It is hard to envision what would have happened if the North had lost the Civil War or if the secession from the Union had gone unchallenged.
What could be more devastating than World War II and the killing of millions of people from all nations, the suffering of hundreds of millions, and the virtual destruction of most of Europe? To most people, it seems that World War II was an unfortunate development of conditions and incidents that led the way to its happening, but in reality, it was no more than a vast and carefully executed plan that originated from the Divine Power. How could the Divine Power allow such a horror to take place? Under the universal system of cause and effect, such harm would not have been inflicted on people unless they had deviated in a previous life or lives from righteous living and behavior.
You may recall from your reading of the Old Testament that when the Israelites embraced evil and worshipped the gods of others, other nations were allowed to conquer them, killing tens of thousands and inflicting pain, slavery, and hardship on the remainder. If we accept these events as having been staged by God, why should we have a problem accepting that other wars were staged as well?
What have the people of the former Soviet Union done to deserve almost 75 years of repressed freedom, substandard economic conditions, and the purges of millions of their citizens by Stalin? Only the Almighty knows, but if these people hadn't deviated-in a past life-from righteous living and behavior, none of these things would have happened to them. The behavior that led to the unfortunate circumstances may not have originated within the boundaries of that country. For example, a U.S. citizen may have done many evil things in life, and as a partial punishment, the individual may have had to live his or her next life in a country where freedom was repressed, such as the former Soviet Union.
Where do we draw the line between what is predestined and what is not? If humans remembered their previous lives, it would be easier, but we don't. If an individual decides to drink or take drugs, later drives a car, and gets involved in an accident that severely injures the driver of another car, does it mean the other driver "deserved" to be injured? Not necessarily. The drunk or drug addict inflicted harm on another individual, and as a result, universal justice will be served in this life or in lives to come. Did you think that drinking to excess was forbidden by all religions for no reason? When an individual purposely loses control over his or her consciousness and commits acts that harm others, that individual is responsible for such actions.
Some may protest, "What is the harm in drinking or using drugs in the privacy of our homes, where no harm is likely to come to anyone?" First, numbing your feelings to escape reality is not a solution, and second, many children throughout history have gone to bed hungry or unclothed because their parents threw their money away on gambling, drugs, or alcohol. This money could have been used to buy food and clothing and college education. There is nothing wrong with the moderate consumption of light alcoholic beverages, especially with meals. After all, Jesus Christ turned water into wine and later consumed wine with his disciples during the Last Supper. However, to waste money on meaningless vices is inappropriate even though we may not hurt anyone. These funds would be better spent on needy people or worthy causes.
Suppose you are driving a car, and all of a sudden, a cat crosses the street directly in front of you. Do you slam on the brakes and try to avoid killing it? Or do you continue driving as if the cat were an insignificant thing? If you try your best to avoid running over the cat, and you fail, you are not to be blamed. That's probably the way things were destined to happen. If you succeed in avoiding it, you can feel good and thank God that the animal's death is not on your conscience. However, if you don't attempt to miss the cat, you are likely to be held responsible and to receive some sort of punishment later. Sometimes, people don't realize that a cat has as much right to live as any human being, that it may have kittens depending on it for survival, or that it may belong to people who are very attached to it. If it were a wild animal rather than a domestic cat that you were about to hit, things would be no different.
An individual may be in good health and live comfortably. This individual may marry, and soon, one disaster after another may be inflicted on him or her, filling the individual's heart with sadness. Another individual may have the opposite happen when he or she marries: Poverty is replaced with prosperity, and happiness fills the individual's heart. Is there a relationship between these marriages and the dramatic change in the life of each of these individuals? In my opinion, there is.
When people get married or when they just have sexual relations, they automatically share some of the spiritual fluids that make each individual unique in life. Thus, a man's spiritual fluids will influence a woman's, and hers will influence his. This influence can be positive, negative, or both. It is quite possible to be positively influenced in certain respects and, at the same time, negatively influenced in others. The common saying "Behind every great man, there is a woman" should, in my opinion, be replaced with "Behind every great man, there is a woman; behind every great woman, a man; behind every miserable man, a woman; behind every miserable woman, a man."
This is not meant to be an attack on marriage, because whether we like it or not, the life of a man or a woman in the absence of the other can be very empty and painful. At the same time, attempting to find a mate who is compatible with your spiritual fluids is a waste of time. Spiritual fluids are not visible, nor are they something you can research.
No one knows how marriage is going to influence your life or the many lives to come. The system of cause and effect applies no matter what. For example, if your spouse committed horrible deeds in a previous life and, as a result, he or she becomes completely paralyzed during your marriage, you may have to spend a large portion of your income on medical bills. In addition to the financial burden, can you imagine how much pain your spouse's suffering would cause you, even though you had nothing to do with his or her past deeds? Of course, you could play it safe and never get married, but that would be a personal choice. "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman." (1 Corinthians 7:1)
The other negative aspect of a marriage is the presence of children. When you have children, whether you like it or not, you take on the responsibility for bringing them into this world to satisfy your desire to be a father or a mother. Your children will naturally inherit many traits (spiritual fluids) from you and your spouse, but they will eventually set their own course in life. They may turn out to be decent human beings, or they may turn out to be "the scum of the earth." Having children can be problematic for two reasons: First, you are spiritually responsible, up to a certain point, for their behavior, and they may indirectly hinder your own spiritual progression because they are an extension of you. Second, children may cause you and your spouse pain when they go astray.
Ignorant people argue that it is a moral duty to reproduce, that it is important for someone to carry on the family name and take care of you in your old age. My response to them is, "Nonsense." At one time, it was important for people to reproduce and populate the Earth; however, if you look around, you will realize that the Earth's population will soon reach 10 billion. If you think that pollution, disposal of wastes, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer are bad right now, just think how much worse they could get. Besides, isn't it more noble when you have desires to become a parent to find and adopt a homeless or abandoned child and provide the child with a better life? In Brazil, for example, there are three million homeless children who are forced to become involved in shameful and illegal acts in order to survive.
The point I am trying to make is this: As individuals, our life at one time could have begun as "all choice." After one or more incarnations, the choices of one life become the destiny of another. In other words, our life is sometimes controlled by predestined incidents that are nothing but the results of our previous actions, and there is nothing we can do about it, because universal justice must be served. On the other hand, part of our life is controlled by the choices of others. This is obvious when another individual inflicts harm on us for no reason. Finally, many of the actions in our life are nothing but our own clear choices. The hardest part is to distinguish between who is hurting us as an action of his clear choice and who is hurting us as the result of the choices we made in previous lives. Since we don't know which is which, we should not rush to place blame.
A nonliteral translation of an old Middle-Eastern saying explains this clearly: "Don't get too upset because of a mishap, for it may have happened for your own good." As an example, you may lose your car keys and spend ten minutes looking for them in every possible place. Finally, you find them and wonder how they got there. You may become angry because you are now running late, but what if this incident was prearranged for a reason? Suppose that if you had not been detained for those ten minutes, somebody would have harmed you in some way out of free choice, but because you "deserved" to be rescued, some Divine intervention was necessary. How do you feel about your lost keys now?
At times you may find yourself in a difficult situation, with no one likely to help, but somehow, a total stranger appears at the right moment and helps you out. Certainly, there are many "good Samaritans" on Earth, but how did it happen that such an individual was present at the right time and place? Could it be that this individual was "inspired" to be there so you would receive help? Could this person be repaying a debt to you from another life? How can we be sure that such an individual is just another human being like you and me? What if this individual doesn't really exist but is a transfiguration of a supernatural entity?
People tend to rule out intervention from the spiritual world because it doesn't appear likely or even possible to them. When people think of the spiritual world, they often think of a roaring inferno, angels emitting blinding white light, and awesome and powerful voices. But the spiritual world is not necessarily like that. The "angels" that appeared in human form to help Lot and his family flee Sodom and Gomorra looked no different from any other human being. Actually, they were so real that the people of that time lusted after them. What about the "man" with whom Jacob wrestled all night, only to discover that he was an angel of God?
A popular story from the early Christian era tells of a group of Christians who hid in a cave to escape death at the hands of the Romans. They prayed fervently that their lives would be spared, and God answered their prayers by causing them to sleep for 309 years. When they woke up, they noticed nothing unusual, but when they were forced to leave the cave to seek food, they were shocked to discover that Christianity was by then widespread and that the people they once knew were no longer alive. After talking to the people they encountered, they learned that it had been 309 years since they had disappeared. The Koran corroborates this story, which can be read in Sura xviii:Kahf.
Can there be a scientific explanation for this occurrence? Unless supernatural forces truly intervened, how could such an incident have taken place 1600 years ago, especially when it is not even possible to prolong life in this manner with our best twentieth-century technology? How could Daniel have survived in the lions' den?
These and many other incidents throughout the holy books tend to reinforce the idea of intervention by supernatural forces. But some incidents may not be so supernatural after all. Consider, for example, Ezekiel's vision of the Cherub. Did he actually describe a beast? If Ezekiel saw an airplane at that time, do you think that he would have described it as a machine, or as a beast that looked like a bird? What if his vision was simply a description of a spaceship?
How could Jonah have survived for three days inside a living whale? Could any scientist demonstrate that a human being has a chance of surviving inside the digestive system of a whale for three full days and emerging intact? How would an individual from that time describe a submarine if he saw one? Would he have described it as a machine or as a great fish?
The point I am trying to make is this: Certain incidents from the holy books are truly supernatural, but some incidents seem to be nonsense if scrutinized and interpreted literally by a rational twentieth-century human being. However, if these incidents are analyzed in a wider context, they become plausible.
Chapter 4 Ethics, Illusions, and the Final Days
In the introduction to this book, I stated that my views about life a decade ago were naive when it came to friendship and love. Although it is a common Daheshist belief that friendship and love rarely exist in their true form on earth, somehow I refused to come to such a conclusion until I had had a chance to experience humanity and prove it to myself. In the prose poem, I wrote,
May I be your companion? I asked the first
person my eyes fell upon.
He looked at me in a maze, did not answer, and
continued his journey.
I never knew why.
I repeated the same question to every man and
woman that I encountered.
Most followed his steps, and very few accepted
As companions we found the will to follow
I was very close to one, and she became
We've gained some companions while passing
through the path, and we've lost a lot more,
for they have reached their destination.
After a decade of self-delusion, I find it appropriate to make the following corrections to these two sections of the prose poem:
May I be your companion? I asked the first
person my eyes fell upon.
He looked at me in a maze, did not answer,
and continued his journey.
I never knew why.
I repeated the same question to every man and
woman that I encountered.
All followed his steps, and none accepted my offer.
Lonely, I followed the path.
Alone, I reluctantly found the will to follow
I was never close to anyone.
I have gained no companions while passing
through the path.
The reader may protest by saying, "Just because you have failed to develop friendships and find your true love, it doesn't mean that others have not!" My answer to them is, your definition of love and friendship is different from mine. For most people, any individual who is "friendly enough" and shares some common interests with us is a "friend." As long as that individual fills our need for companionship, plays sports with us, or puts a smile on our face, then he or she is labeled as a friend. How many such friendships can withstand the harsh tests of life? How many times have so-called friends stabbed you in the back without your knowledge? How many of those so-called friends would love to carry on a sexual affair with your spouse if the conditions were right? Today, most so-called friends are attached to each other by selfish materialistic or personal needs.
Likewise, for most people, when two individuals are physically attracted to each other and possess some common interests, then each one of them claims to have found his or her "true love." Is it really love, or is it lust and the desire for companionship? How many of these relationships are superficial, how many are strictly physical, and how many are based on economic arrangements? How long will it take before one of them secretly or openly decides that he or she needs to sexually experience another individual? To make things even worse, many people have come to accept gay relationships as being as legitimate as heterosexual ones, that it is perfectly acceptable to have two men or two women be openly sexually involved under the banner of "true love."
Although it is always dangerous to generalize, it is my opinion that "true love" and "friendship" are rare if not extinct. According to my definition of friendship and true love, they are one and the same and have absolutely nothing to do with sex or materialistic needs. They are the merging of the souls through the exchange of like spiritual fluids. There is nothing that either of the two souls would wish for itself separate from the other. It is perfect harmony, and as with anything that is perfect, it cannot exist on Earth.
The same is true for happiness. Most people hold the view that our goal in life is to pursue happiness. But what is happiness? How do people define happiness? For most people, happiness is a state of mind that comes as a result of experiencing physical pleasure, be it sex, gambling, sports, driving a fancy car or boat, living in a beautiful house, collecting money, taking a trip, climbing a mountain, lying down on the beach, or raising children. My definition of happiness is the lack of pain, be it physical or mental. Since this is an impossibility, happiness in its purest form does not exist on Earth. Everything that is tied to physical pleasures is not happiness but an illusion.
As we approach the close of the second millennium a.d., we find humanity obsessed with the physical pleasures of this world to the point that materialism has become the god of many. As a result, the morality of many people has changed. To obtain physical pleasures you need money, and if you don't have money, you work like a robot to get it, or you steal, cheat, sell drugs, or kill. Visit any of the world's large cities and see for yourself. There is hardly a day that passes without significant violence. Our schools and children are exposed to drugs and drug dealers. There is hardly a movie in the theaters that doesn't contain explicit and profane language, complete nudity, and sex scenes. It has become expected, and people are disappointed if it is not there. Any teenager who makes it beyond eighteen years of age and is still a virgin is considered by many to be abnormal. Just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, I read that four out of five Soviet schoolgirls have engaged in sex in exchange for money.
The music that many people hear over the airwaves, in bars, and in concerts contains sexually explicit lyrics or lyrics that are demeaning to the listener. The beat of the music is torture to the ears and mind. It often seems to me that it has to have come from the lower worlds. If any of the masters, such as Beethoven or Mozart, were alive to hear the music that is being played today, they would surely have a heart attack. Even those who claim to be attached to the world of classical music listen to some of the twentieth-century composers who failed to emulate the masters and instead produced works that are cacophonous and have no emotional content. The world of visual arts is no different. So-called modern painters who produce abstract works are fooling themselves and others. Their "chicken scratches" are meaningless and ugly. Contemporary sculpture is no better. Some modern sculpture is no more than junk.
Men are wearing earrings, women are obsessed with cosmetics, perfumes, tanning, and clothing. Both men and women are obsessed with physical fitness, sports, and whatever gives them physical pleasure. Bars have become the typical pickup joints where men and women meet. The question to ask here is, Is this a sign of advancement or regression of civilization? No century has seen as much bloodshed as the twentieth century. We have lived through two world wars, and many other regional conflicts.
At times, the justice system worldwide is extremely biased and heavily influenced by political or religious groups; at other times, it is absolutely corrupt. Some of the decisions made by the United Nations are biased; a system of double standards is regularly applied and controlled by the major players (namely, the big industrial nations). How much longer can humanity survive this decline in moral values and ethics?
Holy books speak of Judgment Day or Doomsday and describe the signs that will indicate when this day will come. Judgment Day will bring an end to the current life cycle on Earth and begin another; however, the next life cycle will not necessarily begin immediately after the current life cycle. It may take thousands or even millions of years for a new cycle to begin.
Such would be the case if a large-scale nuclear war were to take place, creating deadly radiation that would extinguish life on Earth for a long time. Or the next life cycle may actually begin immediately after the current life cycle. Just as the current life cycle began with Noah and his family after the Flood, with only a handful of people and animals surviving and repopulating the Earth, it is possible for a similar transition to take place in the future. But it is not likely.
In the New Testament it is written, "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-29)
In the Koran it is written, "Generations before you we destroyed when they did wrong: their Apostles came to them with Clear Signs, but they would not believe! Thus do We requite those who sin! Then We made you heirs in the land after them, to see how ye would behave! (Sura x:Yunus 13-14) "The day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed),-Even as We produced the first Creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: Truly shall We fulfill it. Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): 'My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.'" (Sura xxi:Anbiyãa 104-105)
In the Old Testament it is written, "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." (Isaiah 24:1-5)
The Earth has gone through hundreds of life cycles. During these cycles, the inhabitants of the Earth reach a certain level of evil and wickedness, despite the warnings of the Prophets of their time, making it necessary for the Creator to destroy civilization and start over. All signs lead me to believe that the current life cycle is about to end. All the predictions of the holy books are coming true: "Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death." (Mark 13:12) "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:7-14)
The world has become very materialistic. People will do just about anything for money. Our existence has become very confused. True friends are rare if not nonexistent. Today, so-called friends are attached to each other by selfish materialistic or personal needs. True love is equally rare, and most marriages are based on physical needs and economic arrangements. Wickedness on Earth is increasing, morality is declining, and sexual deviation and promiscuity have become an acceptable part of life for the majority, far exceeding the immorality of the people of Sodom and Gomorra. Some churches have begun performing marriage ceremonies for homosexual male and female couples. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
Diseases such as cancer and AIDS are spreading, the environment is being destroyed by acid rain, pollution, and other abuses of the human race, and the ozone layer is deteriorating. When the Earth's population doubles in a few years, such problems will become even more pronounced. Our self-destruction is becoming increasingly likely.
We are in a very dangerous period, a time in which it is possible for an extremist to possess nuclear weapons or to become the leader of a nation that is capable of building weapons of mass destruction. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light ." (Matthew 24:29) "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (1 Peter 3:10)
According to the scientist Carl Sagan, in the aftermath of a nuclear war, the dust and smoke from the explosions will remain in the atmosphere for a long time and block the sun's rays from reaching the surface of the planet. This will prevent the Earth's surface from absorbing heat, and a phenomenon called "nuclear winter" will take place. Temperatures will plummet, making the Earth far less conducive to life. If there are people who survive the immediate destruction and radiation of a widespread nuclear disaster, they may not survive nuclear winter.
In 1945, Dr. Dahesh published a book called Memoirs of a Dinar. In this book, the dinar, a coin, tells its life story, beginning from the moment its metal was extracted from the mine. The book recounts how the metal was transformed into a coin, how the coin passed from one owner to another for decades, and what people would do to get it. The book also talks about an unexpected and terrifying destruction of Earth. According to the book, while both the United States and Russia reside under a false sense of safety, an unsuspected nation will vow revenge from the superpowers and will launch nuclear weapons and destroy Earth. Will this actually happen or not?
This may seem farfetched to you, but some of the conditions that will lead the way to this incident are present. The Soviet Union has collapsed, and Russia and the United States are reducing their nuclear arsenals. Defense spending by the superpowers has been slashed, and acquisition of nuclear weapons by other nations may become easier.
Some people may wonder why destruction is inevitable. Remember that this life is nothing but a small chapter in our existence and that we have been given "another chance" many, many times. However, without a change in our attitude and behavior, there may come a time when continued life on Earth becomes counterproductive. If the present decline in morality is any indication, most people have already regressed. Another thing to keep in mind is that with the continued abuse of nature, it may be difficult for the Earth to support life without further and more severe hardships, whether in the form of the rapid spread of disease or that of respiratory and physical ailments caused by polluted air, water, and food. Total destruction of the Earth could really be a merciful act by God.
Chapter 5 Who Is Dr. Dahesh?
Saleem El-Ashi was born in Jerusalem on June 1, 1909. His parents moved to Lebanon when he was an infant. Saleem's father died when he was 11 years old. His mother had to work hard to raise him and his sisters. Except for a few months spent in the American Mission orphanage in Lebanon, he never went to school or attended college, but he exhibited a love of literature and the visual arts. He began to write prose while he was in his teens. In the 1920's Saleem El-Ashi moved back to Palestine and lived in Bethlehem. He became famous in Palestine for the "supernatural powers" he had exhibited since childhood. Most people interpreted his supernatural powers as witchcraft and sorcery. His reputation grew. As the name Israel was assigned spiritually to Jacob, so was the name Dahesh assigned to Saleem. The exact translation of Dahesh is "astounding." By publishing some of his early works, he managed to acquire enough money to pursue his other goals in life.
Dahesh traveled throughout the Middle East and Europe and received a certificate from the Société Psychique Internationale on May 6, 1930, and a doctorate in psychic research from the Sage Institute in Paris on May 22, 1930, for his ability to transgress the laws of nature. About 150 experts in the field of supernatural studies witnessed the 20-year-old man, at his request, be placed in a casket, which was sealed and then submerged at the bottom of the Seine River for seven days under tight surveillance. After the seven-day period was over, the casket was pulled out and the seal inspected. The experts confirmed that the seal was intact. When the seal was broken and the casket opened, the miracle man had a smile on his face and was in perfect health.
In the 1930's Dr. Dahesh took up residence in Beirut. On March 23, 1942, he declared the beginning of a spiritual movement named Daheshism. He called for the unity of religions and the return to righteous human behavior. His supernatural powers gave him credibility as a Prophet. Can you imagine how many people would have believed in Jesus Christ had he not exhibited supernatural powers? At that time only a handful of people believed in Dr. Dahesh as a Prophet. These included Marie Hadad-the sister-in-law of the then Lebanese President, Bechara El-Khoury-and her immediate family. Religious leaders in Lebanon and Bechara El-Khoury opposed Dr. Dahesh and, with the help of Bechara's wife, Laure El-Khoury, tried to force Marie Hadad and her family to abandon their belief in Daheshism. When she and her family refused, the President ordered her imprisonment on several occasions. At one point she remained in jail for one year. He also had her committed to a mental institution, where the physicians found her to be completely sane and had to release her.
When political tactics failed, Bechara El-Khoury and his brother-in-law, Michel Cheeha, employed thugs to assassinate Dr. Dahesh, but all attempts failed. On August 28, 1944, Dr. Dahesh was ambushed, beaten, jailed without cause for 13 days, deprived of his Lebanese citizenship (in direct violation of the Lebanese constitution), and expelled from Lebanon. When he was caught in the Iranian region of Azerbaidjan in 1947, he had no papers to prove his identity, and because a bloody revolution was taking place, he was mistaken for a spy. As a result he was blindfolded and executed by a firing squad in Azerbaidjan on July 1, 1947. The execution was photographed and documented.
However, it was not Dr. Dahesh the human who was executed. It was a look-alike spiritual entity that took his place. The same thing happened at the time of the Crucifixion. People saw Jesus Christ on the cross, but the Koran says " they killed him not, Nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them ." (Sura iv:Nisaa 157) In other words, a look-alike was crucified. Because the look-alike is a spiritual entity, it doesn't obey the laws of nature. Jesus Christ's look-alike was resurrected, and so was the look-alike of Dr. Dahesh. In Daheshism, the spiritual entity is referred to as a spiritual personality. Dr. Dahesh had six spiritual personalities, and some people were able to see them all at the same time. As Bechara El-Khoury celebrated, Dr. Dahesh, the human, was back in Lebanon, preparing a large-scale media attack on his oppressors.
During this entire period, no one in Lebanon stood up for Dr. Dahesh's rights. Dr. Dahesh was baffled by this fact and in some of his writings mentions that in the nineteenth century, Émile Zola risked his life and career when he stood up and defended Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish French military officer accused of treason, but that in Dahesh's own case, no one dared stand up to his accusers. The news media in Lebanon closed their eyes and ears and allowed this to happen, thus conspiring with the Lebanese government. Dr. Dahesh wrote and distributed leaflets, pamphlets, and books known as the "Black Books." These publications attacked the character of the Lebanese President, his government, the clergy, and the media. Through these daring publications, Dr. Dahesh presented the true facts of his case to the public, where he exposed the nature of the Lebanese president and his scandals. The contents of the Black Books contributed to the general public uprising against the regime of the Lebanese President on September 18, 1952.
Dr. Dahesh regained his Lebanese citizenship during the presidency of Camille Chamoun. He resided in Lebanon until 1976, where he advocated Daheshism, wrote, taught, and traveled. He wrote more than 100 books-all in Arabic-that covered a wide range of literature. Some of his books are written in verse, some in poetry, while others are novels and short stories. All of his books are currently being translated into many languages. After 1976, Dr. Dahesh traveled throughout the world studying and writing about people, their culture, and spirituality.
Dr. Dahesh's writings cover a variety of topics, but the main theme is consistent throughout: Man has deviated from righteous behavior and followed a materialistic life. That life is a mirage that will soon fade, and then the truth will appear as clearly as can be. Many of his writings are very sad, and in many of his pieces, he serenades death and wishes for the moment of rendezvous. He has had enough of this life, its misery, lawlessness, pretension, and pain, and the behavior of human beings and their lack of faith in God.
I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Dahesh for many years, beginning in my childhood. I talked, dined, and traveled with him. On the surface, he appeared to be as ordinary as any other human being. He had a sense of humor and a compassionate personality. He was a modest and simple man. His diet consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables (especially onions), and cheese. He loved and collected art and books from all over the globe. Deep down, he was sophisticated, shrewd, ethical, righteous, and wise. He was unable to perform a single miracle unless it was time for it to happen and there was a reason for it. It was the same with Jesus Christ: "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." (John 2:3­p;4) Of the many supernatural acts I witnessed with my own eyes, I will describe only four:
When I was 16 years old, I had a friend called Joseph. Joseph and I were very close, and many were the times we talked about Dr. Dahesh, his message, and his powers. One day, I asked him if he would be willing to go with me to visit Dr. Dahesh, and he agreed. I called Dr. Dahesh and asked him if I could bring my friend with me, and he agreed. So it was that Joseph and I went to see Dr. Dahesh. He greeted us, sat about six feet away from us, and asked Joseph to take an ordinary sheet of paper. Then he asked Joseph to tear the paper into four pieces of equal size. Dr. Dahesh asked my friend to write on each piece the name of a Prophet, and then he asked my friend to fold each one many times and mix them so that it was impossible to know which was which. Then he asked him to select one of the four pieces, put that piece in the palm of his hand, and close his hand tightly. At that point Dr. Dahesh began to write in the air with his finger while describing what he was writing. At one point he purposely made a mistake and said that he would put an X over the word and write the correct word. When he was done, he asked Joseph to open his hand and then unfold the piece of paper. When he did, it had the name of one of the Prophets, as well as every single word that Dr. Dahesh had written in the air, including the X over the word that had been crossed out. Joseph unfolded the other three pieces to make sure that there was no duplication of names, and there was none.
When I was 21, while I was a guest of Dr. Dahesh in Beirut, we were sitting and chatting with a group of people, and there was a deck of playing cards on the table. Dr. Dahesh asked me to shuffle the cards thoroughly, select one card, look at it, and not show it to him. Then he rolled up his right shirtsleeve, took the card that was in my hand (a jack), and without looking rubbed it a few times on his arm. All of a sudden, the word queen was imprinted in ink on his arm. He returned the card to me, I looked at it again, and it was still a jack. I said to myself, "Something is not right here! How could the Supernatural Power make such an error?" I was also surprised that the other people who were sitting with us and witnessed this did not say something to that effect. After a few minutes, Dr. Dahesh walked toward one of the other rooms and asked me to follow him. I did, still holding the jack in my hand. He asked me what I thought had happened, and when I was just about to tell him about the error, I looked at the card in my hand. It was a queen! Either it had been a queen all along, and everyone in the room except me had seen the card as a queen, or the card was transformed instantaneously while I was holding it in my hand. Either way it would have been a supernatural act.
During the same period, Dr. Dahesh had a number of books being printed. He had taken delivery of one of them a few days earlier. I was alone in the hallway, and he came to me with a copy in his hand and told me he would like me to have it. I gladly accepted, but I insisted on paying for it, since printing is not free. He said, "Very well, as you please." I gave him the money in U.S. currency, and as soon as he took the money, he put it in his palm, closed it, and asked me, "Where is it?" I replied, "It is in your hand." He opened his hand and nothing was there. He then asked me, "What do you think happened here?" I replied that a spiritual fluid must have been placed on it to make it invisible. He said, "Follow me." We went to one of the rooms, in which he had a chest, and he asked me to open the top drawer. I tried to open it, but it was locked. He drew the Daheshist symbol (a five-pole star) on it, and asked me to try again. I did, and this time it opened. I looked inside the drawer, and among many other objects, there was the money I had given him for the book. A piece of paper that had the words "from Mounir" written on it was placed over the money. My answer had been incorrect, for the money had not become invisible but instead had dematerialized and then rematerialized in a different location.
During the early 1980's, Dr. Dahesh came to visit us in Virginia. He stayed at my sister's apartment. When his visit came to an end, he asked me to stop by and pick him up early in the morning and drive him to New York. He was holding a piece of candy in his hand, and as we were walking from the bedroom to the living room, he stopped in the hallway and smashed the piece of candy against the wall. When he released his hand I expected the smashed piece of candy to fall to the floor, and it did-I heard the piece of candy drop, but nothing was there. Then I realized that the candy had penetrated the drywall without damaging it and fallen through on the other side.
So who is Dr. Dahesh? If you had had a chance to ask him this question, he would probably have replied, "Who do you think I am?" When Jesus was asked by the high priest whether he was the Messiah or not, Jesus answered, " Thou hast said: ." (Matthew 26:64) The followers of Dr. Dahesh have no doubt about who he is, but since he had supernatural powers and performed many of the same miracles that Jesus performed, other people have gone so far as to accuse him of being Satan, the Anti-Christ, a magician and sorcerer, and other vile things. This is not surprising, because people accused Jesus Christ of the same things: "And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Be-el-ze-bub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand but hath an end."
Moslems remain firm in their belief that Mohammed was the last of Prophets: "Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets ." (Sura xxxiii:Ahzab 40). So Moslems do not see Dr. Dahesh as a Prophet. The followers of Dr. Dahesh believe firmly that no Prophet in the same class as Mohammed, Jesus Christ, and Moses is likely to come, that the era of the great Prophets is long gone; however, a number of Prophets of a different class-advocates of peace and religious reconstruction, such as Gandhi-have come. Which category does Dr. Dahesh fall under?
Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to come. They rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah because he did not fit in with their expectations of the Messiah. They expected the Messiah to come and rule over them as a king, to rid them of Roman rule, and return the glory of the Jews as King David had. Jesus Christ did not fit this picture. He was the son of a carpenter, and as simple and humble as could be. Similarly, Christians are waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ. When he comes it will be Judgment Day. They expect him to make a spectacular appearance and gather up all the believers. Moslems are also expecting the second coming of Jesus Christ: "And (Jesus) shall be a sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of judgment)." (Sura xliii:Zukhruf 61) According to the followers of Dr. Dahesh, Jews have missed Jesus Christ for the second time, and Christians and Moslems have also failed to recognize him. By now you may have guessed that Dr. Dahesh's life is regarded as the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Summary of the Basic
•If we exist it is because God created us.
•Jesus Christ is rejected as God Almighty.
•The underlying essence of all religions is the same.
•All of God's Prophets (Jesus Christ, Moses, Mohammed,
Gandhi, Buddha, Dahesh, and others) are accepted.
•Churches, mosques, synagogues, and other so-called "houses ofprayer"
are not true to the religions they claim to represent, and many of themare
run by deceitful and evil people.
•A one-to-one relationship exists between each one of us and the Creator.
There is no need for clergy as mediators.
•Our current life is nothing but a small chapter in the Book of Life.
The leaping from one chapter to another is accomplished by reincarnation.
•A universal justice system monitors our evil versus righteous behavior
and implements the corresponding retribution.
•All matter and living species on Earth are linked to souls.
•Other life forms exist throughout the Universe.
•Spiritual fluids are the essence of existence.
The Books of Dr. Dahesh (a collection of over 100 books),
New York: The Daheshist Publishing Co., Ltd.
Brax, G., An Introduction to Daheshism,
New York: The Daheshist Publishing Co., Ltd. 1993.
Brax, G., Lights Upon Dr. Dahesh and Daheshism,
New York: The Daheshist Publishing Co., Ltd., 1986.
Brockelmann, Karl, History of Islamic Nations:
A Translation, Beirut: House of Education for the Millions, 1939.
Hartmann, William, The History of Earth,
New York: Workman, 1991.
Holy Bible (authorized King James version),
New York: American Bible Society, 1982.
Holy Qur'an (A. Yusuf Ali, Trans.).
Lightman, Alan, Time for the Stars,
New York: Viking Penguin, 1992.