Apocalypse is a big issue for Christians so it’s understandable why a show about God would cover the topic of the end of the world as well. It’s one of those Abrahamic hangups westerners have. There might be another episode about existence of Satan as well while I can’t figure out how to explain this “satan” phenomenon without sounding absurd.
Actually, the subject of apocalypse in the second episode of “The story of God with Morgan Freeman” was introduced rather nicely – when Freeman observed that people have been bitching about world going to dogs since forever. In his mind it was linked to the topic of apocalypse but it must be said that all our recorded history happened when Kali yuga was in full swing already so the world DOES deteriorate with each successive generation. Some of these complaints from elders might be subjective but some definitely have a solid ground under them. Just look how Christianity lost to atheism in just a hundred years.
I mean even Freeman himself should have noticed that things have, indeed, been changing lately at a very accelerated pace. Marriage between men is not only a thing now but questioning it has become publicly condemned. The latest controversy is about men using women’s bathrooms if they feel like women today. I’m not going to write a separate post about it so I’ll just say a few words now.
The war over public bathrooms is raging on and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history – transgender people should be able to use the restroom they want, not the restroom assigned according to genders on their birth certificate. I understand it as a gesture of acceptance of their transformation into a person of a different gsex but I understand the concerns of the opposition as well. I mean do transgender people have certificates themselves? What’s stopping any transvestite from walking into women’s room and claiming a right to use it? I don’t know how much privacy is there in public restrooms in question but if we are talking about things like showers and changing rooms then they might end up displaying their still male genitals to women and/or children. I mean we still have gender separation in restrooms for a reason and most women would freak out if a man took a shower next to them. The progressives tell us to get used to it because the world is “evolving”. Evolving back to cats and dogs more like it. Some parts of our bodies are meant to be private, that sense of shame is one of the things that separates us from animals. As devotees we reject communal baths and changing rooms even when they are gender separated, I mean that when taking a bath one should not display his private parts to anyone, even himself.
I might not be well-informed on this issue of public restrooms, maybe they do have a provision to separate transgenders from transvestites and generic perverts, but if all you need to walk into a women’s bathroom is a desire and a dress then it sounds like a legitimate objection.
Back to apocalypse – I’ve learned that Jews are waiting for the advent of a Messiah, too, albeit their Messiah is going to be human, not God. There won’t be an apocalypse per se but this Messiah is going to rebuild the Temple, the central house of Hebrew worship destroyed shortly after Christ. Any attempt to rebuild this temple right now would be as bad as the apocalypse but the prophecy is that the Messiah is going to bring peace with the neighbors first, which is not going to happen in our lifetimes. I hope when the Jews do get the ability to demolish mosques and churches that stand in the way of their temple rebuilding efforts they’ll remember that they need to get both Christians and Muslims on board first.
I’m not sure there’s apocalypse in Islam but ISIS thinks there is going to be the last stand in some god forgotten village in Syria and, according to their interpretation of scripture, it’s coming very soon, in a matter of years rather than decades or centuries. Might very well turn true if international community finally gets on their case. In today’s news Russians declared that they’ve killed a third of combined ISIS and Al Nusra forces in Syria since they started their bombing campaign a few months ago. Over in Iraq government forces started an assault on Faluja and if that goes well Mosul will surely to follow. It all goes according to ISIS plan so far and I hope their last battle in Dabiq will end up like countless apocalypse predictions by doomsday cults in Christianity, ie nothing happens.
On the science side Freeman visited some researcher who studies pain. They give mild electric shocks to volunteers and measure their responses. What they found out is that people tolerate pain much better if they know exactly when it comes, eg at the end of the countdown. If the shock comes at any arbitrary time their bodies react to it stronger. This, in Freeman’s view, could be an explanation of “our” fascination with the apocalypse (we are not part of that group).
We can offer another explanation – people hope that apocalypse would bring them salvation so it’s a natural desire for liberation from suffering. A conditioned soul has two responses to everything that happens in the material world – like and dislike. Likes lead us to creating karma and dislikes make us strive from liberation from karma. Christians in the west are very much for sensual enjoyment – good food, good wine, warm families, which accounts for their “like” reactions to the world, and their express their dislikes by condemning atheists and expecting the apocalypse. Sometimes they accept some arbitrary date and pin all their hopes on it but nothing ever happens.
On the Indian leg of his tour Freeman did talk to Hindus about apocalypse and they told him that the world goes in circles for eternity. He also went to see a Buddhist llama and got the same answer there as well. While with Buddhists, he tried meditation, too, which was about letting go of the past, stopping worrying about the future, and concentrating in the moment. He says he liked it but maybe he was simply being polite.
The llama he chosen was relatively young, only about thirty years old, and, while Freeman was impressed with his humility, I thought he had unhealthy interest in the goings on of the material civilization. Due to his isolation he knows very little about what it actually is and to me he appeared curious in this “Morgan Freeman” person. To me this kind of curiosity looked un-Buddhist but what do I know. In places like Thailand computer malls are filled with Buddhist monks buying software and computer games, I presume. There’s also porn on offer but I hope they stay clear of it.
In Kṛṣṇa consciousness we learn how to live in the world without getting entangled in it but Buddhists do not have provisions for it, afaik. I don’t understand why this llama learned English, for example. Maybe his is a “political” post where he has to communicate with outsiders but I don’t see necessity of English for spiritual pursuits where his community provides all knowledge that he would ever need.
Personally, I would have chosen a bit more mature Buddhist teacher, one who has lived the world and outgrown it, or one who has never been exposed whatsoever. Good that Freeman didn’t go meet Dalai Lama who travels the world but doesn’t get “one with everything” pizza jokes. That kind of engagement is neither here nor there. He doesn’t know how people live and what they love in life, and he has no time for proper meditation either.
All in all, it was another western man filtering foreign cultures through his own lens. He wanted Buddhists to speak in terms familiar to him and he wanted science to explain people’s interest in apocalypse. I appreciate his interest but he still behaves like a frog in a well in a sense that he still measures everything by his own yardstick. That’s not a way to actually learn something new and change oneself in the process.