Friday, April 14, 2017

Catching up with alt-radio legend Jack Blood; visiting "The Shopping Malls of Heaven" with Saeed Kauser

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Jack Blood

First hour: Jack Blood is one of the great American radio voices...and one of the original voices of 9/11 truth. Now he's playing in a band called Dead On Cue – I like their FB page. They're playing live in Seattle 4.23 / 5.16 / 5.25 / 7.8 – Olympia 6.10 (Paranoia Mag Art show) – Portland 6.11 (Skype Studios LIVE).

Second hour: Saeed Kauser discusses his new book The Shopping Malls of Heaven: 

"Have you ever wondered what it will be like? Will it be a physical place or a spiritual one? Will there be houses in heaven? Will we eat and drink? Will we go shopping? The Shopping Malls of Heaven and the Meaning of Life provides specific answers to these questions and offers a vivid picture of the life that awaits us once we pass from this earth."

Based mainly on Islamic tradition, but also science (and a good science fiction imagination) The Shopping Malls of Heaven is a great conversation starter. So tune in to the conversation!

7 comments:

  1. Hi Kevin,

    The question that I felt I should have answered better was the one about you desiring to live a simple life, while the material pleasures if heaven seems to be excessive and contrary to a simple life.

    The question that I had anticipated and answered in the book was slightly different: someone wanting spiritual pleasure instead material. I said in the book that the regular meetings with God will provide a spiritually uplifting experience and have been described as the greatest pleasure of heaven.

    A better answer to your question may be that the reason why spiritually inclined people prefer a simpler life is that a materialistic life in this world come at a huge cost. To be wealthy you have to spend time and effort in making money and have to be more aggressive. In addition, you have to push other people; your employees to work harder for you and your clients to pay for your goods and services. You have less time for worshipping God and for being with family and friends. You have to compromise your values to fit into the system. Stress levels go up. Levels of pride and arrogance go up and less fortunate people start resenting you. Sometimes you have to cut corners, break the law and bribe officials. We can go on and on about the downsides of success. So being wealthy and having material possessions in this world comes at a high cost, which makes it an unpleasant thing.

    Compare people today with people living 2,000 years ago. Almost everyone today lives like a king of 2,000 years ago in terms of material possessions, medical care etc. If/when Jesus comes back now would he be riding a donkey or be driven in a nice car? It would make absolutely no sense for him to ride a donkey. So similarly, heaven will be a lot more advanced and when we go there we will live the lifestyle that it common there.

    In heaven you will get everything without compromising any values, so it will be a lot more pleasurable to enjoy material luxuries. People will be living like kings and queens and I think that people will find themselves fitting into that kind of lifestyle very naturally.

    People in higher ranks of heaven will have more material possessions and will also get to spend more time with God, increasing to twice a day for those in the highest ranks. So material and spiritual benefits with go up together.

    There is a resource constraint in this world but none in the next. So there will be no reason not to live as well as our rank allows.

    This book was about what heaven is like and the next one I am planning to write will be about how to go to heaven. I will make it into a kind of textbook with a lot of graphs and diagrams to explain concepts. The aim is to simplify things and provide a logical manual of dos and don'ts that will help people go to heaven.

    I plan to create a YouTube video about the similarity between NDE visions and Islamic descriptions of heaven.

    Best regards

    Saeed

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    1. HI Saeed,

      Thank you for this clarification. I acknowledge your point that people might find heaven’s gigantic mansions, armies of servants, and vast material possessions natural and easy to adjust to, even if they wouldn’t feel that way in this life. Allah can certainly adjust our nature and psychology if He so wills.

      But I’m not sure you fully understand my own personal objection. You write: "Compare people today with people living 2,000 years ago. Almost everyone today lives like a king of 2,000 years ago in terms of material possessions, medical care etc.” That is true. But are people any happier today? And is their happiness related to the size of their houses, and the number of their personal possessions and servants?

      I think heaven is related to inner peace, not to anything in the material world. The Qur’an speaks of Allah welcoming the nafs al-mutma’inna (the peaceful soul) into paradise. All the wisdom traditions including Islamic ones recognize that inner peace comes from achieving what the Buddhists call non-attachment, and what Islam sees as annihilating the nafs al-amara bis-su'– that is, no longer having any egotistical desire, but instead being selflessly ecstatic exactly where one is, without the slightest urge or need to move an inch or even take another breath. (I got somewhat close to that state ones while doing salaat underwater in the Wisconsin River, remaining underwater for five to ten minutes without breathing while in the final sujood of asr salaat.) The more one is bogged down in the material world and encumbered with material possessions, the harder it becomes to achieve this kind of state, as the holy men and women from all traditions unanimously testify.

      Personally I am horrified at the thought of having servants, living in a bigger house than the modest one that I live in, and having even more personal possessions than I currently possess. And I loathe technological progress. I wish technological advancement had stopped with the bicycle. Thoreau was right that the we don’t ride the railroad, it rides us; and anyone who needs to get somewhere faster than they can walk (I would say bike) is in a miserable condition. Though as a writer and editor in the competitive marketplace I have no choice but to use technological tools, I am happiest writing with a pen, and would happily trade this laptop for a manual typewriter if I could do so and still support my family. Material things get in the way of the contemplative life, regardless of whether one is given them or has to work for them.

      (continued)

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    2. I don’t think I am outside the norm in saying I would be miserable if someone gave me huge mansions, lots of servants and material stuff, etc. Some of the most miserable people on earth are wealthy people who inherited their fortunes; while those who have earned their own fortunes are almost universally demonic. (Al haaku mut takathur Hatta zurtumul-maqaabir…) People who win the lottery often squander their money, and rarely are any happier after they won than they were before.

      There is a social science field called “happiness research.” It has found that the only way that money makes people happy is by removing anxiety about not having enough food, shelter, or minimal social status. So in the USA or Canada today, going from $5,000 or $10,000 to $30,000 per year or so does make people happier; but after that first $30k or so, money does not increase happiness at all, and may even diminish it. Therefore, large mansions, lots of consumer goods, and armies of servants DO NOT make people happy. Therefore if your paradise is indeed the real one, Allah massively changes our nature after we pass through death, and turns us into people who have little in common with the people we are here on earth.

      The reason why material goods and money don’t make people happy is obvious. Satisfaction is always relative. So, for example, when you are extremely thirsty, a glass of plain water is far more delicious than the most exquisite nectar would be if you were not so thirsty. The same is true with hunger, comfort, social approval, and other pleasures and satisfactions. Therefore a poor person who has to work all day without eating or drinking, and comes home and drinks water and eats a crust of bread, enjoys that meal far more than does a millionaire who has a $500 gourmet dinner in the evening, after having had a $500 gourmet lunch that afternoon.

      There is a reason that the people closest to janna are called the fuqara’ (a word that means both "poor person” and “Sufi mystic”). By achieving non-attachment to ego desires, they get close to the “inner janna” in this life, and will likely achieve a high station in paradise. As I read Qur’an, it is advocating precisely this kind of simple, humble way of life. (The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, ate and drank sparingly, ate meat only once every 40 day, lived extremely humbly, and left no material possessions when he died except for his wives’ extremely simple huts; this even after he achieved a position where he could have easily taken over the biggest mansion in Mecca.)

      So as I see it, the images of paradise are not meant literally, but are allegorical, metaphorical, symbolic attempts to express in language something that is far, far beyond language…something that involves the soul becoming so peaceful that it is able to experience ecstasies in the next life far beyond anything in this one.

      Wa Allahu a’lam

      Kevin

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    3. Hello Kevin,

      I absolutely agree with your aversion to luxuries in this life. It is exactly what Islam recommends, and in my case, the more I focus on the afterlife the more this world seems insignificant and the more I yearn for a simpler lifestyle. I was telling a friend only a few days ago that I would like to escape the rat race, grow a long beard and go away to live in a simple, one-room cottage in the mountains somewhere. But, obviously, that amounts to running away from obligations to family and society, and not recommended, so I can't do that.

      The next world is a totally different universe and comes with it's own reality. The rules of this world do not apply there. All the innumerable negative consequences of acquiring wealth do not exist there. We are told to worship God here; in heaven formal worship would have been abashed. We are told not to drink alcohol but in heaven it will flow like water.

      Some people even argue that a physical existence in heaven is abhorrent. They only want a perpetual spiritual existence devoid of any physical body. But it has been made abundantly clear that heaven will be a physical place. In that case we will need to live a material life in addition to a spiritual one. That means that we need a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear etc.

      God will be creating everything by his saying 'be and it is' so there will be no resource constraints. In that case it makes logical sense to give everyone everything to their heart's desire and beyond. God will be the host and we will be his guests.

      I mentioned in the book that God will keep asking people if he can do anything else for them. If someone wants to lead a very simple life I'm sure that could be arranged as easily as anything else. But my inclination is to believe that even the most ascetic person from this world will be happy with the luxuries of heaven once they realize that there is no downside to it.

      Regards

      Saeed

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  2. "I would be miserable if someone gave me huge mansions, lots of servants and material stuff, etc".

    If it is a GIFT from Allah, I would gladly take it (here as well as in the hereafter) and consider myself very fortunate (to say the least) that Allah Has even considered Making me a gift.

    As such, I will leave it to the "hollier-than-thou" individuals to look down on the luxuries of Paradise as described in the Quran and Hadiths.

    Some people with sufi tendencies or not - assigning themselves hollier-than-thou status - start belittling the Gift of Allah (Paradise) to the servants He is pleased with, under the pretext that they love Allah and that is enough for them. It is almost as if they join the poisonous tongues when they state that God is "bribing" his followers with Paradise.

    Don't beg Allah to humble you by allowing you to experience your earthly dark side along with earthly hardship.

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    1. It isn't about being holier than thou. I just don't want a huge mansion, much less a whole bunch of them! I already have the whole earth to roam around on, if I feel like roaming. That is the real gift of God. "And Allah has spread out the earth for you as a carpet..." Mansions would be an affliction, like diseases or piles of rubbish. I would have to spend time figuring out how to get rid of them, and that would take me away from things I would rather be doing.

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  3. Trump’s giving US military total authorization for war...means war. Just as plain and simple as that, isn’t it? Can the military even back down after all Trump’s stupid ass remarks now that Trump has just dumped the shit right in their laps? Those generals of “his” may have been talking tough up to this point but got to wonder what they are thinking now or if they can maybe extricate themselves somehow without looking foolish. Hard to believe ‘Trump’s generals’ really think they go can into total domination mode now or ever.

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