So today, September 15, is the Sabbath in the Christian tradition, a day of rest and divine contemplation. Here’s a solution to (some of) the world’s problems: what if all Christians, Jews and Muslims observed all three Sabbaths from now on ? What if they devoted Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week to leisure activities, being with their families and loved ones, divine study, learning, reading and rest and recreation. Here at the Castle of the Muses, where we honour all faiths, we tend to observe Sundays as a special Christian Sabbath, Saturday as the Jewish Sabbath, and Friday as the Muslim Sabbath. If everyone did this, worldwide, it would solve the problems of unemployment at a stroke, since all Muslims, Christians and Jews would only work a 4 day week, thus meaning that an awful lot of other employees would need to be recruited to fill their posts on their three days off. So the secularists, pagans, Buddhist and Hindus etc. could all find themselves lots of extra work and unemployment be ended globally, at a stroke. What if, to fantasise a little further, the Christians Muslims and Jews throughout the world all pledged not to fight, hurt or harm one another, recognising at last that they all worship the same ultimate reality (under different names) and furthermore pledging not to attack, harm or kill members of their own religion (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Shiah, Sunni etc.) So then the three day universal Sabbath could be observed worldwide by all the followers of these three mainstream monotheistic faiths. On their extra Sabbath days, they could even study each other’s religions, and read each other’s sacred scriptures, and commentaries, and study guides, of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish Christian holy books and works by their learned scholars, commentators and philosophers respectively. Personally speaking, I am sure this is what the founders of all these three faiths, such as Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Jesus, Peter, Thomas, Mary, John, Muhammad, Ali, Abu Bakr, Jafaar as Sadiq etc. would all have wanted. In our own small way at the Castle of the Muses, this is what we already try to observe, “as if” there were already worldwide agreement and truce between the great faiths of humanity. We need to start seeing them all as Windows onto the divine unknowable, each with their own magnificent stained glass, of varying hues and colours, rather than as locked doors. The more you study each of them, he more you realise what inexhaustible gems of wisdom are concealed within each of them. This is also why we take time each day to remember the lives and works of the great saints and sags of each of the planet’s major spiritual lineages. Today, for Christianity, we honoured Samuel Pufendorf, 1632-1694, a German Protestant philosopher of law who wrote about international law and was one o he founders of that discipline. He was born in Germany and studied at Jena and Leipzig, then served as tutor to the sons of the Swedish Ambassador to Copenhagen, and was there when war broke out between Denmark and Sweden. He was promptly imprisoned by the Danes as politically suspect. While in prison he thought out the basic structure of his greatest work, Elementae Jurisprudentiae Universalis (1660) which he dedicated to the Elector of Palatine, who then made him Professor of the Law of Nations at the University of Heidelberg in 1661. He later served as Prof of Law at Lund in Sweden, which the current author has visited, (and which has a superb cathedral whose pillars in the crypt are wreathed with leaves like trees) and there he wrote his second masterpiece, de Jure Naturae et Gentium . He was afterwards appointed Swedish historiographer Royal to King Karl X1 and while serving there published a History of Sweden from the times of Gustav 2 Adolf to the death of Queen Kristina. In 1668 he was invited to Berlin by the Elector of Brandenburg to write the history of Frederick William the Great Elector. Such an intellectually active career, falling as it did in the course of the long 17th century, when Europe went up in flames in so many parts (including Britain’s civil wars) and the 30 yeas war raged, which more suffering and damage to central Europe than ever before, as studied in the recent masterpiece by Prof Peter H Wilson “Europe’s Tragedy: a new history of the thirty yeas War” (Penguin, 2010), meant that Pufendorf had a ring side seat, so to speak, at the birth of the modern world, in which the nation state system itself was forged into being by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. What Europeans discovered, to their great cost, is that unless there is some kind of realisation that there is an overarching international framework governing the relations between nations, and to which by and large they adhere, by force of conscience, shame, habit and moral opprobrium, then chaos, mayhem, destruction and violence can result. Pufendorf proposed therefore that there must be some kind of overarching moral intelligence or spiritual unity that governs the affairs of all nations and their inter-relationships, regardless of religion, dogma, or denomination, and that laws of common sense, reason, and collective intelligence, can figure out what these are. His insights for peace thinking are therefore of paramount importance. He also argued, like Kant did later, that without a Divine Being to take account of our deeds post mortem, morality would lack its basic sanctions and ethical seriousness, It is precisely because we live on after death and are individually accountable for our actions here during our brief sojourn on earth, that a system of collective morality such as international law, is also feasible. If was criminals escape the International criminal court, they are nevertheless answerable to the court of heaven, so Pufendorf argued. Today at the Castle we also celebrated the work of Suppabuddha. He was the son of Añjana and Yasodhara, a Koliyan prince. He had two children Bhaddakaccānā (who later became Buddha’s wife Yasodhara) and Devadatta, from his wife Amitā. He had two sisters, Māyā, who gave birth to Gautama Buddha, and Pajāpatī as well as a brother, Dandapāni. As the mother of Buddha was Maya, he became the uncle to the Buddha, as well as the father of his wife, meaning that Buddha married his cousin. This is all fascinating stuff, and psychohistorians would want to study in detail he complex familial relationships out of which Buddha emerged into the world. For this, scholarship needs to produce a detailed Prosopography of all the friends, relationships, disciples, students and teachers of Buddha, culled from the numerous primary and secondary sources that are available, so we can work out in exact details who was related to whom and through which lineages, both in familial as well as intellectual terms. Sadly, as yet, historians and philosophers and Buddhologists have not yet produced such a work. The author of this blog would be very happy to spend some months compiling it – any offers of help ? The Buddhist Society library, SOAS, the internet, the Tibetan Library in Dharamsala, the University of Oxford, the Royal Asiatic Society, and many Buddhist scholarly groups and Scotties could benefit and perhaps contribute to such a work. One reason it hasn’t been done, is that most Buddhists, including probably Buddha himself, regarded name and form (nama rupa) as immaterial accidents of fate, and were not really interested in the details of history, or this or that narrative, or this or that sequence of events. So Buddhist historiography per se never really got off the ground, in any truly scientific manner of speaking, but was more concerned with salvation history, right from the beginning. This contrasts however with Western scientific views of history, which ultimately can be traced back to Ancient greek historical sources, plus a strong influence from Judaeo-Christian emphasis on personhood and the sacredness of family life, where events, causes, consequences and personalities do actual matter a great deal. To produce a Prosopography along the lines indicated would hopefully satisfy both schools of thought. For Hinduism, we
Celebrated Santanu, a Hindu King who fell in love with and married the Goddess Ganga, and together they sired the Vasus. We also honoured Olmsted, Frederick Law 1822-1903, who was the first superintendent, co-designer and chief architect, of Central Park, in New York, was an avant garde farmer, and an influential writer. Having wandered happily in Central Park, site of numerous movies scenes, we should all spare a happy thought for Olmstead’s work. He also designed the grounds of ht e 1893 Chicago World Exposition, where the World Parliament of Religions first met. One hundred years later it reconvened in 1993, at Bangalore and Chicago and the current author had the good fortune to attend the gathering in Bangalore. Today we also celebrated Theano the daughter of Pythagoras, as well as Abul Quasim al Gurgani of Tus, a famous Sufi Muslim. We honoured too the memory of Albert Weiss 1879-1931 a Jewish social psychologist who first coined and used, in a scientific sense, the term “social status”. We also honoured the famous Chinese King Wen, (1152 – 1056 BC), founder of the Chou Dynasty, who devised the I Ching order of 64 hexagrams while unjustly in prison under tyrant the Chou Hsin for 7 years, in about 1080—1073 BC. It is King Wen who is credited with having stacked the eight trigrams in their various permutations to create the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. He is also said to have written the judgements which are appended to each hexagram. The most commonly used sequence of the 64 hexagrams is attributed to him and is therefore usually referred to as the King Wen sequence. After his death, King Wen’s son, King Wu, overthrew the tyrant of the Sahang Dynasty and established the Chou dynasty, which was the first time China had ever been really united as one. It lasted till 256 BC and had 34 kings during a period of over 800 years. It was during the Chou dynasty that both Confucius and Lao Tzu taught and flourished. King Wen has gone down in Chinese history as one of the greatest sages and benefactors of mankind. Long after he died, in the writings of the Taoist sage Yang Hsiung (33BC – 18 AD), is the following passage: “”Someone asks – is it true that every five hundred years a sage will appear ? I reply – Yao, Shun and Yu were rulers and ministers, and they came one after another. Sages King Wen, King Wu and the Duke of Chou were father and sons and they lived at the same time. Confucius lived several hundred years after the previous sage. Inferring the future on the basis of the past, we do not know whether one sage will appear in a thousand years or a thousand sages will appear in one year”. Nor it could be added, do we still know this. In my own PhD thesis I dared to ask: what living, contemporary and modern sages have been alive and walking on planet earth from 1945-2001, and what have they said in their writings and teachings about the possibility of peace on this planet, now. To sum up the findings in brief:: after detailed research on several hundred of the, including many philosophers, historians, esotericists and mystics and saints, each of us has to access our own “inner sage” and realise our own enlightenment, realise our own at-one-ment, and in turn, illuminate, educate and energise, others. The Sage we need now, who will and can open the Golden Gate, is within each of us in incarnation already. We also celebrated Baba Dayal Das, claimed by some to be the 11th Sikh Guru, still followed by Nirankharis. Also we honoured the memory of poetess Kathleen Raine, (1908-2003) whom the current author had a long chat with following a Blake Society lecture once at St James Church in Piccadilly in the 1980’s. For freemasonry we honour the work of Madero, Francisco 1873-1913, and for women Pan Chao 45-115 AD, a Chinese scholar and historian. She completed the work of he father, the History of the Han Dynasty, and also taught the Empress Teng astronomy, mathematics and poetry. Among her other works we Advice to Women, which was used as a key text in Confucian China, plus 16 books of poetry, narratives and essays. A study was made of her life by N.L Swann, called Pan Chao: Foremost Woman Scholar of China (1932).
With such amazing thinkers as all these having been active in history, it is apparent that we truly do need a three day interfaith Sabbath peace agreement on this planet, merely for us all to find the time required to study, document, analyse, compare and appreciate the great works that previous generations have done. Wouldn’t this be a far more noble and worthwhile task than bombing, hurting, maiming, killing and destroying each other ?