§251 My Kumbaya warning lamp, and why it doesn’t go off on “UBUNTU”October 18, 2008
Whenever I hear words like “Zen”, or “Karma” or “Good energy” or “Dalai Lama”, or “reincarnation” or “yoga” my “Kumbaya warning lamp” start blinking in my head. I start to think “ooookey, here’s another crazy hippie”.
Why is that? Because they’re all connected to religions that I believe are false? Then why doesn’t it go off regarding Ubuntu? Why do I embrace Ubuntu but reject zen and karma? Is there anything that connects all above but are not connected to Ubuntu?
Well, the first striking thing is that they are all eastern religions. But this isn’t enough. Is there a significant difference between the eastern religions and the african? Aren’t they all about humanity?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m sick and tired of the Eastern religion’s influence on the Western world. They’ve tried to start with yoga in my son’s kindergarten, and I’m one of the parents who have been able to stop it. To me it’s idol worshipping, and I don’t want my son there.
Maybe it’s because of that quote I heard from Shirley MacLaine about the holocaust “That wasn’t so bad. Only their bodies died. And in any case, the jews had very bad national Karma” (Quote taken from swedish website http://gluefox.com/orel/nage.shtm and his reference is an article about New Age in “Svenska Journalen” nr 8, 1991).
Maybe it’s because the entire Eastern thinking about reincarnation and karma (in hinduism) and nirvana (in buddhism) is too much… erasing the individualism. Too much denying yourself. The hindu idea of the atma that needs to be unified with the brahma and the buddhist idea of the extinction of the individualism in nirvana. Yes, it’s humanity, and we are all one. But it’s erasing the individual. Me not like. Maybe I’m too simplific, and I’m sure there are many who would argue with me over this point. But anyway…
Maybe I haven’t studied the eastern philosophies enough. Maybe I should? No. I don’t want to. I feel a shiver whenever I hear one of those words. I’m not sure I could take it. Is it because of years and years of convincing myself that this is bad because it’s a foreign religion? Probably. So what?
I think the main reason is the vagueness. It’s all too blurry, the eastern philosophies. Yes, I can be spiritual. But I can’t believe that two contradicting ideas are both true to different persons. I can’t believe that God is an energy that goes through everything and all. I can’t believe that the world is an illusion and we are actually all one. I can’t believe that there’s no such thing as good and bad, or right and wrong. I can’t believe that ideas like “moral” and “sin” is man made.
I believe in a God who Is. He is an individual. He has created a world for us. He expect things from us. He watches every move we make. He is by definition good. He has tied himself to promises voluntarily out of love to us, despite his omnipotence and omniscience. There is such a thing as sin and righteousness. There is such a thing as moral. There is such a thing as right or wrong. My God is righteous and just and cannot compromise with sin (God cannot – now there’s a thought). He is loving and forgiving and does forgive sin – without compromising with it. By sending us his son to die on the cross so we could have eternal life. He is above us. We can never understand him fully. We might never understand why he needed to punish the incarnation of himself so that he could forgive us for following the instincts he gave us instead of the moral compass he gave us. We might never understand why he allows the suffering of the righteous. We might never understand why he created mosquitoes. But he is real. He has touched me. He is not an undefinable blur. Yes there are many strange and mystical things in the spiritual realm. But should we seek that? Really? Shouldn’t we focus on here and now, and what God expects from us now?
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
(Deut. 29:29) KJV
Does God change his mind or doesn’t he change his mind? One of the biblical authors was deliberately condradictional about that to show us that we cannot understand Him
” Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
‘It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king’ ”
“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent”
(verse 29, same chapter) KJV
Ubuntu is not about any of this. Ubuntu is about humanity. The concept is in the Bible, it’s in almost every religion, including the eastern ones. Why? Because we are all created by the same God, and this is something that he has put in everyone’s mind.
“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them”
The original ubuntu philosophy of Africa do have a few flaws of course. According to Wikipedia LOuw (1998) says that “the person one is to become by behaving with humanity is an ancestor worthy of respect or veneration. Those who uphold the principle of ubuntu throughout their lives will, in death, achieve a unity with those still living”. This is of course ancestor worshipping, which I of course am against. I also read that it can also lead to destruction of individualism if taken too far. Wiki quotes someone who says that “it is taboo to call elderly people by their given names; instead they are called by their surnames. This has the effect of banishing individualism and replacing it with a representative role, in which the individual effectively stands for the people among whom he comes from at all times”.
However, the concept of Ubuntu is the unviersal divine one. Or, at least I believe it to be divine. If taken to the political level one might see it as socialism. It’s not completely true. Socialism is to believe that the government should forcefully impose Ubuntu on society by taking from the rich and give to the poor. A capitalistic believer in ubuntu would rather say that it is the individual’s responsibility to live in accordance with Ubuntu, which would involve caring for others, giving to the needy, etc.
I will not quote the thousands of verses there are in the Bible that embrace the concept of Ubuntu. I will quote Jeremiah 22. The judgement of God upon the non-ubuntu kings of Judah.
“This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: ‘Hear the word of the LORD to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hands of their oppressors those who have been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin”
Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his subjects work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.’
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar
and decorates it in red.
“Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.
He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the LORD.
“But your eyes and your heart
are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood
and on oppression and extortion.”
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