Awakened at 4AM by the ancient songs of the mullahs echoing through the mountain valleys calling the Muslim faithful to prayer. This same process is going on throughout the planet wherever there are those of the Islamic faith. A rooster crows, perhaps awakened by the sound. The rain pours down augmenting the universal nature of the process. Another rooster greets the morning as if they too have their ancient song to start the day. The mullah song intermingled with the roosters crowing and the falling rain evokes wonder at the mystery of creation – the global unity between man, animal and nature.
This bonding experience is one reason why the Muslim religion has spread so far relatively quickly. Islam preaches an egalitarian message that unites humanity under one roof. To join is to belong – rich/poor, male/female, young/old. All races are welcome. Unfortunately, instead of allowing the process to enfold naturally, the Islamic establishment has erected rules, and even laws, enforcing participation. In Malaysia, one must change one’s name and religion to marry a Muslim. (It is not so strict in Java, as Martin married a Muslim and was allowed to remain the same.) The Islamic political system provides advantages to those who join and penalties for those who prefer to keep their own beliefs. The universal consequence of the quest for power seems to be intolerance and prejudice. Ah well, such is the human condition. Neither roosters, nor rain, demand such a commitment.
And how interesting it is that sound is the chosen medium for this unifying experience. Flung by human vocal chords, these ephemeral packets of information hurtle through the atmosphere. The sail of the ear either catches these sound bytes as they pass by or they disappear forever. Perhaps the same song is repeated at another time and place, but the original has evaporated, like steam from a kettle. Many sleep through this early morning call to prayer, unaffected in the least, while others feel a connection with brothers and sisters throughout the planet.
And what does science have to say about this mystical, yet transitory, experience? Nothing at all. Dressed in their supposedly objective white lab coats, scientists hem and haw, mumbling something incoherent about the automatic collisions of atoms and molecules upon the eardrums; perhaps evoking their magnificent random as a way of understanding this global group bonding experience – or maybe even stating blandly that our genes employ this method to reproduce themselves and survive. Entranced by digital world, the rigid precision of 1’s and 0s – the progeny of dots and dashes, they embrace matter and reject life. Worshipping exactitude over meaning, they create an umbrella that discretizes existence. Because this perspective is able to explain so much, they presume that it explains everything.
While providing toys beyond imagining, this shallow mode of apprehending the world stops short of meaning. Blinded by the concrete logic of sight, they are unable to understand the connectivity of sound. For instance, how does a 1 and 0 touch? How do they relate to each other? Where is the past, present and future in the digital world? The instantaneous world of 1s and 0s doesn’t extend a moment into time. All meaning is derived from humans digesting the dry, should we say dead, information via a natural algorithm, called the Cell Equation by the Author.
The mullah chants, the rooster crows and the rain evokes a gentle rhythm from the roof. Without digestion Muslims don’t hear the message, roosters don’t join together for their joyful chorus, and the rain merely falls with no one to experience the wonder. To appreciate and respect these little packets of sound, living systems must digest and translated discretized information into a form that connects past and future in a unified bundle.
In my humble head, these multitude of sounds connect with neural networks that evoke memories of today's experience of a live volcano, complete with poisonous sulfur fumes that made us dizzy.
We saw, heard and smelled this marvelous natural event after a long drive through the plains of western Java.
Our 10-hour journey was dotted with flowing rice fields, rubber plantations, an abundance of insane traffic, and myriad small communities doing their human thing. Smiles on their faces, the natives connected with each other in intimate surroundings in order to survive and even thrive as a collective community. These fleeting memories scratched upon this piece of reconstituted wood combine with a wonderful lunch of a whole fried fish, head and all, fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and fruit drinks at a nicely decorated air-conditioned restaurant along the way.
Above all, we remember the warmth of the human connection between the Laurie/Don couple and Martin Nga’s entourage, including family, friends, and drivers.
After the volcano, we drive to a marvelous mountainside resort, complete with a thermal pool, heated by the volcano and containing sulfur. Laurie and I eat fresh pineapple, the best ever, in our own private wood cabin surrounded by lush vegetation. And now the pitter-patter of the rain, the crowing of roosters, and the call to prayer. I wonder why I am so blessed for this moment in time. And I remember the Deal. Testify to the Divine in the midst of the secular world of Materialism. Intoxicated with the pleasures of matter, many get lost in the desert of emptiness and forget meaning. My Dharma is to act as a reminder.