Leon the tourguide

Leon the tourguide
Leon the Tour Guide

Friday, July 29, 2011

Religious laws aren't made to be kept

Today,as usual, I received my usual supply of emails about how primitve Sharia law is.  
I personally don't think that quoting Muslim law really reflects the way Muslims generally behave.

The law, particularly religious law, is an ideal and there is an enormous gap between the way people live and the ideal set out in religion.

Normal people don't try to achieve the ideal. This is true for all religions.

We can spend hours trying to theorize why religions, in the name of god, make such laws. Most of them are exremely primitive, like the one my friend quoted, and no matter how much time we spend trying to figure out their purpose we'll never get to the end of it. It's therefore a pretty useless endeavour.

The important thing to understand about laws is that people must only obey laws which they can understand or at least have a reasonable appreciation of the purpose of carrying them out. For example I have a good idea why there's a law forbidding me to park my car in certain places so that even when I don't completely understand why a paricular place has no parking I still keep that law.

But the law of marrying a child or the law of not eating pork etc. etc doesn't really make sense in any circumstances.

It's crazy, in my opinion to try to carry out those laws, to carry out laws that I don't understand the purpose, is madness (excuse me all you religious people).

People should not, under any circumstances try to carry out those laws, they should not try to live up to something that claims to be an ideal just because someone said it was given by god.

Those laws are inscrutable. Only god knows why they should be followed.

No human being should try to follow a law which is inscrutable.

We follow laws today, in modern society, not becaus they are god given but because we understand why they need to be followed. We understand purpose of laws that we keep.

Many religious laws aren't understandable and are therefore best simply neglected, as we say in Judaism, untill the Messsiah comes to explain those laws to us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Imagination and reality

Reality is all around us. All we need to do is to look at it, accept it as it is, live in it, making it part of our lives and it becomes the essence of our happiness and enjoyment of life.

Being blind to reality, creating a fictitious image of what we think is reality, in our minds only leads to constant disappointment and misery for ourselves and for others who we falsely regard as causing the obliteration of our image and hence disappointment.

Seeing that a false image exists in our minds only, while reality is everywhere, there is a constant clash between the two, the false image and reality. The result is a feeling of disappointment accompanied by anger and eventually taking action which can harm reality.

Allow me to give you an example from real life.

A person, with a poor self image usually thinks that others also have a poor image of him but he doesn't try to change the way he sees himself, instead he tries to change the way he thinks others see him.

He does this by creating, in his mind; a situation which he believes will bring accolades of admiration from those around him.

Many people like this, choose an imaginary tour which, they believe, few people before them have done, say a tour of Israel, which is famous for its wars, generals, archaeologists, luxury cars and luxury hotels.

For example a winning combination for an imaginary tour that one can tell the folks back home about, would be a tour guide who is also a general and an archaeologist who picks you up, in a stylish debonair flourish at the airport and whisks you to a 5 star hotel where you sip cocktails by the pool while listening to the "general" telling his great exploits of heroism in a charming, broken English with a Hebrew accent.

What happens when the image is shattered? What happens when, instead of a general a very ordinary, elderly guy (myself) appears to drive and guide you for the next 7 days. No flourishes and no airs only plain information and a few stories about historical events in Israel?

At first you are sick with disappointment and you feel like canceling the whole tour but you can't because the guide (myself) absolutely fulfills the contract you have prepaid, leaving you no grounds for a refund. You decide to let him guide you but you suffer because he gives you no cause for dissatisfaction and dismissal, in fact he's quite good, but you suffer because the image you had has been shattered and as far as you're concerned this tour guide (myself) has shattered it.

You bide your time to punish this tour guide for shattering your dream. Finally when the tour is long behind you, you send a letter to the agent telling them how boring and disappointing this guide was, you even manage to find some points which smack of inefficiency.

You have had your revenge on the person who shattered your dream and you have damaged the good name the tour guide (myself), who in fact gave you nothing but good, honest service.

Your intention was simply to cause hurt and you have done that and nothing else. But you have had your revenge and now you feel better.

I write this out of a feeling of hurt having received painful blows in return for love and kindness.

This is a rare event. Not many people are fortunate enough to meet a person who they treat with kindness and gives them blows and hurts them in return.

Ultimately I feel elevated because I have transcended the feeling of hurt and can look down on it as an eagle looks down on a dying creature. He doesn't feel even one iota of sadness. He just accepts it because that is the reality of the world.

Reality is all around us. All we need to do is to look at it, accept it as it is, live in it, making it part of our lives and it becomes the essence of our happiness and enjoyment of life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tyranny and Anti-Semitism

My friend Matthew wrote:
"I concur with this article and the concerning trend it alerts us to. The irony is that the Left Wing American Jewish Community and Academics who are afraid to support Israel because they might sacrifice academic advancement are the same people who will turn to Israel to ask her to save them and provide them a place of refuge when the persecution escalates from academic and professional intimidation to mass murder and genocide.

History has proven that one consistently precedes the other."

This reminded me of one of Aesop's Fables:
The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.
The Wolf and the Lamb A WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me.” “Indeed,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, “I was not then born.” Then said the Wolf, “You feed in my pasture.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “You drink of my well.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations.”  Translated by George Fyler Townsend. Aesop's Fables (p. 15). Amazon Digital Services, Inc..

Ant-Semites are a real bunch of tyrants. Just like the lion in Aesop's Fable, above or the original Nazis themselves they are branding the Jews "Nazis" just to find a pretext for their hate campaign, which, if tolerated could become a tyranical regime.

Anti-Semitism seems to be just a part of a much bigger movement with aims much more far reaching than causing inconvenience to Jewish students on Berkely campus.

This movement has added anti-Israel to it's objectives and that also isn't it's main objective but also another part of it's main objective, which is to establish a tyrannical regime wherever and whenever possible.

People joining these anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organisations would strongly deny that they intend to establish a totalitarian state somewhere. They would insist that they oppose totalitarianism. They are unwittingly throwing their weight behind totalitarian forces.

But my friend Matthew is right; when they find themselves persecuted by the tyranny they've have unwittingly helped to establish they will seek the help of non tyrannical states like Israel.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

About Me

About Me

My lifestory.
My meditation.
Make the best of life.

My lifestory.

I considered myself lucky from the day I was born, well from as early as I can remember thinking, which must have been about the day I was born in Krugersdorp.

I lay, tightly wrapped in lovely white, starched sheets in a cot facing a wall covered in plaster with a pleasant light green coloured, wavy hair comb design, whose lines my eyes traced eagerly in the hope of finding their beginning or their end. I found neither and came to the conclusion that good things are circular; a good painting never ends, neither a good song or a good feeling. Bad things had beginnings and ends.

Today I can only guess that someone had placed me, lying on my right side, facing the wall, without any possibility of turning around because they thought it healthy, but to this day my right leg is weaker than my left leg because of the numbness it suffered then.

I loved learning so I eagerly awaited my first school day because someone had lied to me that school is a place to learn things. From the moment I found out the truth, that school is just a place to regurgitate what your teachers told you I began to suffer. But I knew that suffering, like all bad things came to an end, so 12 years of suffering past over me.

My suffering was the result of a radical discrepancy between what I was supposed to learn at school and what I learned on my own; one didn't get good grades from learning things not taught in school.

I became a teacher to rectify this situation for the next generation but I gave it up after 10 years and settled in Israel where I became a tour guide.

I have lived in Jerusalem, at exactly the place I'd always dreamed of living, namely, Mt.Scopus, overlooking the mountains of Moab and I've managed to see my 4 sons grow up. This also is a never ending process.

I have a wonderful wife and I'm madly in love with her, a granddaughter by the name of Tamar, who is just like me, a grandson by the name of Ophir, another by the name of Alon and now the latest addition is Eitan.

I love my work and even after 35 years of guiding I still feel as if I'm always going out on my very first tour.

My meditation

I believe that there are many people who follow my philosophy of life, some do it conciously, like myself but some people do it automatically and are happy without ever knowing why, they just accept it as the natural way of life.

People like myself who have to conciously learn this philosophy have to work at it all their lives and even then they don't achieve complete happiness. That is a very  idealistic situation.

It's helped me feel better but the moment I stop and try to live without it I go back into depression. It's like a tablet that one takes almost every minute of the day.

I have printed my meditation on my business card. I don't suggest that it'll help everybody or that it'll help quickly or permanently but it changed my life.

It goes like this:

"Whatever befalls me will not disturb my mental joy because being unhappy I will not accomplish what I want and my virtue will diminish."

I think that only if a person really wants to heal his sadness this will help him but if he doesn't really want to heal his sadness it won't help.

I also recommend reading a book by the Dalai Lama called "Healing anger". I found it very difficult to read and understand but after reading it about 3 times it helped me, even though I didn't completely understand it.

Complete understanding like complete happiness is a goal to strive for all our lives and very few people achieve it but it is possible and it is worthile trying to achieve it.

Make the best of life

Everything in life is so sudden and so surprising, we simply don't know what's going to happen next.

We just have to accept and respect and adjust to living in the new situation.

Let's all try to enjoy those close to us, to be kind to them and give them encouragement in everything they di,

Let's enjoy our kids and our family for a good long life