Kids Corner


Still Here!
Rapture, O Rapture!




The world was supposed to end two days ago, on Saturday, but no one really knew exactly how. 

How did we get to determining the exact date and hour?  Because the prophecy was made by an 89-year old Christian radio entrepreneur, Harold Camping. But how did he arrive at such a suspiciously precise day and time? Camping claims that his numbers were derived by a mathematical method involving various prophecies and the dates they come up with from his reading of the Christian Bible.  

And then his prophecy gained traction the old fashioned way – a multimillion dollar advertising campaign, paid for and promoted by Camping’s "non-profit" network of over 200 religious radio stations.

This certainly gives new meaning to "non-profit" activity.

But this publicity and advertising required a large audience gullible enough to fall for such hype.  Reports say that believers gave away possessions and money or resigned from jobs, convinced that the end was near. And forget not the collection of millions of dollars of advertising. 

All this foolishness and profligacy in a bad economy as we now have!

Remember that Camping said all this came from his reading of the Bible. 

That’s the danger of reading literally what should be encountered with a poet’s mind.  Don’t forget that too literal a reading of the chapter on Genesis in the Old Testament, and then basing one’s lifestyle on it,  is guaranteed to lead to conflict with our commonsense ideas of morality and fair play; it would also surely run afoul of the law.

A fundamentally premise of Christian and Islamic belief is that of the “Second Coming” and a “Day of Judgment or Atonement.”  And this literally leads one to a day when the world would end, followed by the resurrection to a life eternal for some and not for others.  I think such thinking is a stretch.

I would think such predictions would be totally against any religious teaching and no person of any belief in an infinite God should be expected to entertain them. Why? Because how can the infinite reality that is God be captured by our finite methods and perceptions?

If we accept that this Infinite Reality cannot be fathomed by our intellect or perceived in its totality by our senses, then any predictions - derived from our finite ways, in our finite language, assisted by our finite skills, perceptions or intellect - will remain so much nonsense. Ergo, if any of our prognostications or predictions ever turn out to be true, then it is surely an accident.

Methinks, such predictions are a misreading and misuse of scriptures. 

Words have meanings. What words mean is not fixed for ever; the meaning changes with time, usage, culture and context. The language of scriptures, like poetry, is rife with a superabundance of allegories and metaphors. To read literally what needs to be interpreted metaphorically is to lose all meaning.

But that’s exactly what the likes of Harold Camping do. That there are such fruitcakes around us is not surprising; what is disappointing is that there so many.

Guru Granth Sahib tells us repeatedly in many ways that it is not possible for the finite to comprehend the entirety of the infinite. If there were any boundaries on the infinite, it no longer would remain infinite, but would become finite ... like all of us and all that is around us.

Guru Granth warns us that only the Creator knows what He created, exactly when and why, and the Creator alone knows when exactly the world would end. Yet, there are some Sikhs who remain attached to a book called Sau Sakhis that is full of predictive, and I believe apocryphal, fables; I would think such Sikhs are going against the grain in both Sikhi and commonsense. The book itself is of dubious authorship and authenticity.

But most of us have lives of such quiet desperation, we need to believe in something, anything, and many look for such predictions just as we look for fortune tellers, astrologers and palmists as if they are the life line to a drowning man.

Why not remember that there is no certainty that there is even going to be a next breath – hum aadmi hain ik dami:  our existential reality is of a single breath, as the Guru Granth says. This means that the only moment is now. That is the only reality. To live it fully in a life of hukam is the critical imperative.  

Months before Senator Ted Kennedy died of brain tumor, he knew that he was dying. So every morning he would appear outside his bedroom on the upstairs landing, announce in his rich baritone, “Still Here!” and promptly disappear back into his room.

I have waited a couple of days, just in case.

And, I think, that’s all there is to say about Satrday's flight of imagination.

“Still Here!”

May 23, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Narinder Kaur (Nagpur, India), May 23, 2011, 6:24 AM.

Nice to read.

2: Kirpal Singh (DaytonaBeach, Florida, U.S.A.), May 23, 2011, 9:18 AM.

We are lucky to have exposure to Dr.I.J. Singh's articles to read and reflect to maintain a realistic Sikh perspective, instead of the blind faith promoted by non-Sikh faiths and some Sikhs as well. Please keep up this good work to illuminate our minds based on Guru Granth's teachings.

3: Raj (Canada), May 23, 2011, 10:35 AM.

Every religion and culture have "Sai Babas", "Sri Sri-s", "Harold Campings" and "Maharajs" who would pounce on ordinary folks to make money. They are a form of mafia; their interest is monetary, not spiritual. Remember, we were "ghar ghar hovay dharamsal" for a reason. The light of gurbani is real religion for Sikhs, not the SGPC, DGPC or some babay.

4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), May 23, 2011, 1:49 PM.

I knew of a visiting sant baba, now passed away in the normal mortal fashion. During his brief forays to Malaysia, he managed to create a chapter in his name. His privileged adherents still talk about him in hushed tones and even celebrate his barsis. He claimed to have had specific vibrations and being privy to special knowledge and beliefs. Now, all the babas worth their salt must have a few chelas in tow as managers to run their spiritual supermarket. During his last trip to Malaysia and a subsequent side trip to Singapore, it seems he asked the driver to stop the car at the causeway between Johor and Singapore and looked silently at the sea for about 20 minutes before driving on to Singapore where, on arrival, locked himself in the room for about two days, so sayeth the chela. When he finally emerged he was drenched in sweat and proclaimed that it took him two days to persuade Guru Nanak to save the world. Of course you could purchase these religious favours for your other mundane problems too. It is big business and given enough gullible followers, you could become a founding father and start a thriving franchise to market the cosmic remedies with an eventual firm booking to the kingdom of heaven. If you wish for a quicker trip, join the Taliban or the Al Qaeda but first ensure you leave all your worldly wealth to the sant babas for a suitable testimony for a seat in heaven. "So-ee ajaan kahai mai jaanaa/ jaananhar na chhaanaa ray" [GGS:382.1] - "One who claims to know the Lord is foolish and ignorant; he who truly knows the essence of the Lord's Name can never remain hidden."

5: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), May 24, 2011, 2:24 PM.

Today Harold Camping announced that he did the wrong math; the new date for the end of the world is October 21, 2011.

6: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), May 24, 2011, 3:19 PM.

Gurjender Singh ji: As always, Bill Shakespeare had just the right words for this situation - "Cowards die a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once."

7: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), May 24, 2011, 5:45 PM.

Sher, you are right - and Shakespeare put it well as always; a coward dies a thousand deaths. That's why Guru tells us to first accept the reality and finality of death .... then come to me with your head on the palm of your hand.

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Rapture, O Rapture!"

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