So. Go ahead and want. Want to gain release from suffering. Want to gain merit. Want to go to heaven. Want to go to nibbana. Go ahead and want as much as you like, because it's all part of the path. It's not the case that all wanting is craving (tanha). If we think that all wanting is craving, then if we don't let there be craving, it's as if we were dead. No wanting, no anything: Is that what it means not to have defilement or craving? Is that kind of person anything special? It's nothing special at all, because it's a dead person. They're all over the place. A person who isn't dead has to want this and that — just be careful that you don't go wanting in the wrong direction, that's all. If you want in the wrong direction, it's craving and defilement. If you want in the right direction, it's the path, so make sure you understand this.
-- Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
27 April 2007
25 April 2007
The “centralization” thing seems fishy to me. Who’s the central authority for Jews and Muslims? If the VA does have single organizations in mind that it believes represent all Jews or all Muslims, how do the other Jews and Muslims feel about that?
True, there is no “one” centralized authority for all Jews, or all Muslims, or all Christians. But there is The Episcopal Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and so forth. Of course, there are Wiccan religious organizations, as well.
Notice the former requirements for a religion in order for its emblem to be recognized by the VA:
1. A written request from the recognized head of the religious group,
2. A list of national officers, and
3. A membership tally.
A religion like Wicca, even though it does possess some level of organizational structure, is not dependent upon such structure. It is commonly accepted among Wiccans that one can be a Wiccan without joining a coven, or without being initiated by a priestess or priest. In a nation broadly pervaded by Christianity, where Christianity serves as the model of what a real religion entails (community, belief, sacred text, particular ideas of divinity, etc.), Wicca can certainly appear not “really” a religion, as something people just “make up”. And, indeed, there is tremendous potential for Wiccan creativity in the construction of their Book of Shadows and magickal rituals. Within a Christian framework, that’s not “religion” — religion has a defined Deity (preferably masculine), a defined founder (preferably male), a defined doctrine (preferably written in sacred texts and conciliar documents); religion, moreover, does not involve nudity, or sex, or invoking spirits — things Wiccans have been known to include in their rituals.(By contrast, even Scientologists and Eckankarists are not known for engaging in such distinctive behavior!) From a historically Christian perspective held by many Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, Wicca might be “spiritual”, but it’s not “religious”.
The definitions that the VA formerly used to define what counts as a religion, originated out of a Christian matrix. I’m not saying that’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just that in 21st-century America, governmental administrations have to be aware of the tendency to judge all religious and spiritual paths, in terms of how much they fit into traditionally Christian notions of organizational and ritual characteristics of what “religion” really is.
Without having read all 30,000 documents created by the VA, I would just have to strongly suspect that some of the VA decision-making process involved a conscious and unconscious comparison (and not just at the level of centralized organization, I agree!) of Wicca with Christianity and other formally recognized religions, with Wicca coming up with the short end of the stick.
April 23, 2007
The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday.
A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.
Eleven families nationwide are waiting for grave markers with the pentacle, said Selena Fox, a Wiccan high priestess with Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wis., a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
After more than 10 years, Wiccans are now allowed to have the pentacle in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of Wiccan military. Now, you might ask yourself, "What took them so long?!" I'm glad you asked.
How do you define a religion? OK, not "you" personally, but the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Until 2005, the VA included in its definition of "religion" the necessity of a central headquarters or centralized authority. Since Wiccans lack such a centralized authority, let alone a "headquarters", Wicca was not seen as a real, bona fide, religion. It might be spiritual, but a religion?? Nah! The following is from a Washington Post story from 2006:
The "central authority" requirement was lifted in 2005, so one might argue that that's why it took more than 10 years for the Wiccan request to go through. But even 2 years is apparently a long time by VA standards, so why the prolongation? Conspiracy theories abound, and I'm sure the political climate had something to do with it. Wiccans don't exactly have a pure reputation in America. Many people automatically (or after due consideration) lump Wiccans along with Satanists, demon-worships, dreaded polytheists, pertinacious pagans, and general undesirables. I need not go into why all that is incorrect on this blog. Suffice it to say that many persons see the existence of Wicca as an affront to their own religious tradition, and are (thus, understandably) not too keen on having Wicca recognized -- in any form whatsoever -- by the U. S. federal authorities. But freedom of religion for one, means freedom of religion for all. (See also this.)
Department spokeswoman Josephine Schuda said VA turned down Wiccans in the past because religious groups used to be required to list a headquarters or central authority, which Wicca does not have. But that requirement was eliminated last year, she noted.
There's another issue here, though: what counts as religion in First Amendment definition? Must it be organized with a central authority? Or does it merely have to involve belief in, and practice directed towards, what is super-natural? I'll leave that for another day.
20 April 2007
I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like. Love says "I am everything". Wisdom says "I am nothing". Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.
-- Nisargadatta Maharaj
18 April 2007
The path of accomplishment threads through the entire cosmos. From Betelgeuse to Sol, from volcanic hot-springs to Icelandic glaciers, from the wetlands of the barrier islands to the snowy deserts of Inner Mongolia, from amoebic competition to the electro-magnetic domiciles of the bodily-naked ape, all things are done via accomplishment.
Awakening (Sanskrit budh, as in buddha) and Accomplishing (Sanskrit sidh, as in siddha) unite at the root. Awakening represents the Beloved; Accomplishing, the Jivanta. To manifest both creates a Buddha, a BuddhaSiddha.
17 April 2007
In the Christian tradition, then, one proposes Mary-Jesus, or MiryamYeshu.
16 April 2007
The Name "Yeshu Christos" may be pronounced like so: Yee (rhymes with, or r.w., "say") Shuu (r.w. "shoe") Krii (r.w. "sea") Stoos (r.w. "dose"). In Sonic Theology, "Yee" refers to the Sanskrit "yee" or "yei", meaning "one who"; "Shuu" refers to the root "shu", meaning "to grow, to increase"; and "Krii-Stos" links to "kristi", meaning "the human race".
Yeshu Christos is He who enriches the human race and, by extension, all beings.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13; New American Bible).
What, precisely, is this "Alpha and Omega", this "beginning" and this "end"? The Indic Shivology of Shaiva Siddhanta may be of some help. Shaiva Siddhanta classifies all reality into 36 categories of existence, or 36 "tattvas", from beginning to end. The first 5 tattvas are purely Spiritual:
1) Siva tattva: Parashakti-Nada (Satchidananda, pure consciousness)
2) Shakti tattva: Parameshvara-Bindu(Nataraja, Personal God), energy, light and love
3) Sadashiva tattva: the power of revealment (Sadashiva)
4) Ishvara tattva: the power of concealment (Maheshvara)
5) Shuddhavidya tattva: dharma, pure knowing, the powers of
dissolution (Rudra), preservation (Vishnu) and creation (Brahma)
The next 7 tattvas are a mixture of Spiritual and Material:
6) maya tattva: mirific energy
7) kala tattva: time
8) niyati tattva: karma
9) kala tattva: creativity, aptitude
10) vidya tattva: knowledge
11) raga tattva: attachment, desire
12) purusha tattva: the soul shrouded by the above five tattvas
The last 24 tattvas are purely Material:
13) prakriti tattva: primal nature
14) buddhi tattva: intellect
15) ahamkara tattva: external ego
16) manas tattva: instinctive mind
17) shrotra tattva: hearing (ears)
18) tvak tattva: touching (skin)
19) chakshu tattva: seeing (eyes)
20) rasana tattva: tasting (tongue)
21) ghrana tattva: smelling (nose)
22) vak tattva: speech (voice)
23) pani tattva: grasping (hands)
24) pada tattva: walking (feet)
25) payu tattva: excretion (anus)
26) upastha tattva: procreation (genitals)
27) shabdha tattva: sound
28) sparsha tattva: feel/palpation
29) rupa tattva: form
30) rasa tattva: taste
31) gandha tattva: odor
32) akasha tattva: ether
33) vayu tattva: air
34) tejas tattva: fire
35) apas tattva: water
36) prithivi tattva: earth
Not delimited by any of these categories of existence is the "non-tattva", or "atattva":
Atattva: Parasiva (Sivalinga, Absolute Reality), beyond all categories
Yeshu Christos, speaking from the position of Atattva, embraces all tattvas, from Shiva tattva to Prithivi tattva, from beginning to end, Alpha to Omega. Only He Who is aware of all tattvas, and thus non-identical to, yet non-separate from, the tattvas, can include the tattvas. Yeshu Christos is Shiva and Shakti; Creator-Brahma, Preserver-Vishnu, and Dissoluter-Rudra; desire, knowledge, and time; intellect, instinct, and the senses; all the elements, from ether, to air, fire, water, and earth; energy, atoms, molecules, life, plants, animals, man, and woman.
When the Name is spoken, everything is consumed.
15 April 2007
All great ones had their teachers. All the sages, saints, prophets, world teachers, incarnations, great men have had their own Gurus, however great they might have been. Svetaketu learnt the nature of Truth from Uddalaka, Maitreyi from Yajnavalkya, Bhrigu from Varuna, Narada from Sanatkumara, Nachiketas from Yama, Indra from Prajapati; and several others humbly went to wise ones, observed strict Brahmacharya, practised rigorous discipline, and learnt Brahma-Vidya from them.
Lord Krishna sat at the feet of His Guru Sandipani. Lord Rama had Guru Vasishtha who gave Him Upadesa. Lord Jesus sought John to be baptised by him on the banks of the river Jordan. Even Devas have Brihaspati as their Guru. Even the greatest among the divine beings sat at the feet of Guru Dakshinamurti.
-- Swami Sivananda
14 April 2007
Ekameva: God and Only God
Shiva: The Bearer of Good News
Utthana: The Resurrection
Chit: Pure Awareness
Rukmavat: He Who Wears Gold
Ishta-Devata: The Attractive One
Senanih: The Lord of Hosts
Tarakarih: The Vanquisher of Tyrants
Ojas: The Water of Life
Shankarah: The Prince of Peace
In Sonic Theology, the Aramaic-Greek name "Yeshu Christos" (or "Jesus Christ") contains a set of initial letters sonically linked to Sanskritic terms of Divinity, Transcendence, and Spirituality. Embedded within this name, then, exists a summary of the Indic Revelations.
03 April 2007
I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; take up and read."
-- St. Augustine
The Beloved has produced two books for us to read: the Book of Nature, and the Book of God. The Book of Nature is the Beloved's Creation, Light, Atoms, Molecules, Life, Plants, Animals, and Men and Women. The Book of God is the Buddha, the Christ, and silent, unwritten, and written words thereof, such as the Bible, the Qur'an, and the Vedas.
The Book of Nature is the Jivanta.
The Book of God is the Buddha.
The Guru is not just the Buddha, the Christ, but also the Jivanta, the Creation.
Read any Book, and that Book will take you to the Beloved.
02 April 2007
CC.com: Yesterday you said Orthodoxy was not just one denomination among many. What is the dialogue with evangelicals trying to accomplish, or how do you make that point to evangelicals who do see Orthodoxy as one of many denominations?
Fr. Hopko: I deal with that issue in Speaking the Truth in Love also, because dialogical is the way that it's done. You encounter, you speak, you have to listen in order to relate, so there's always a missionary dimension to dialogue. But it's also a dimension of testimony, it's also a willingness to have yourself tested. Okay, you think that we're wrong -- say why. Let's talk about it.
If we're all Christians, we all love Jesus, we all want the truth, and we don't agree about what that is, we'd better talk about it, and try to have enough dialogue so that we know what we actually disagree about! John Courtney Murray once said, "We don't know enough about each other even to disagree accurately." We've been separated from the Latin West for 900 years!
However, there are all these dangers. The danger could be exactly toward denominationalism. Even at Trinity Western the other night, when an evangelical who doesn't have a concept of the historical church and the sacramental church says, "I agree with everything you said," sometimes I'm tempted to say, "No you don't!" Because if you're inventing worship every week, and you don't believe that there's a church in history or that it all started in reality in the 16th century, you don't believe what we believe!
Now, the fact that we quote the Bible and talk about how Jesus saves us, you might relate to and believe in it, but the minute you come to how you access it, how it becomes yours, how you live it out -- I still think that there are incredible differences between evangelicals and Eastern Orthodox. Because for us, the Church is part of the gospel. Let me put it this way: The gospel implies the Church.
Fr. Florovsky used to talk about ecumenism in time, as well as in space. Who are you with in the past? You name any century, and we'll tell you who our guys were, and we'll tell you where we think the Church was, and we'll tell you where we think it wasn't, at least not in its fullness, where it became defective. In the early Church, we're with the so-called Catholics and not with the Gnostics and the Montanists. After the 4th century, we're with Athanasius, Basil, Gregory and the Nicene communities. In the 5th century, we're with the Chalcedonian communities, and in the later centuries, we're with Photius as against the papacy.
We have a history that we deeply identify with. We speak about Gregory and Basil as if they were our contemporaries, because mystically they are -- they are! And that's one thing that I think evangelicals, at least in their organic traditions, don't relate to.
In fact, a lot of times, as a matter of fact, they don't even know about it. They don't have the foggiest idea who these people even are. I've met United Church of Canada people who didn't know what the Nicene Creed was, and they were at a [World Council of Churches] Faith and Order Commission meeting representing their church! Seriously.
Then they say, "Why do you need it, it's Greek philosophy, it's old-fashioned, no modern person can relate to it." I remember in Russia once, I was there at a meeting exactly on the Nicene Creed, with Catholics and Protestants from all over the world -- it was an international meeting, sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission -- and the English-speaking Protestants were always on my case every day, because I could speak English, about, "Why do you do this, this is irrelevant, la la la."
And then we went to St. Sergius monastery outside Moscow, and there were all these people -- it was under Communism still -- the blind, the lame, all these people were out there in the middle of the night singing and singing, and these Protestants were out there looking at them and they're crying and saying, "I never saw such a piety," and then they said, "By the way, what are they singing?" and I said, "Well, they're just singing the outdated Nicene Creed that no one knows anything about." [laughs]
They were singing the Nicene Creed! And these people were just arguing that it's irrelevant, nobody cares about it, nobody knows what it is -- well, the one thing you had to do if you were Orthodox was to memorize the Nicene Creed and to know how to sing it. So that's the kind of thing that people find shocking.
I remember Desmond Tutu and his wife were at one service, and I heard her lean over to him and say, "I didn't know white folks could sing like this." So that's what the meetings can hopefully overcome and produce, some kind of new understanding of things, not caricatures.
01 April 2007
[by] Raimon Panikkar
Is there Christ after Christendom and Christianity?
Sunrise would not be dawn if nothing preceded it, nor would sunset be twilight if it did not yield to something else. They mutually suppose each other but are not identical. It is in this sense that I speak not of the sunset of Christianity but of the dawn of Christianness. "Behold! I am making all things new!" (Rev. 21:5)The word "Christian" may be the adjective of Christendom (a civilization), of Christianity (a religion), or of Christianness (a personal -- not individualistic spirituality). During the period of so-called Christian culture in medieval Europe, it was almost impossible to be Christian without belonging to Christendom. And until quite recently it was very difficult to profess oneself a Christian without confessing the Christian creed (Christianity). Today, however, there are more and more people who consider the possibility of being Christian as a personal attitude, even without belonging to Christendom or totally adhering to doctrinal dogmas of Christianity, insofar as the former represents institutional structures and the latter a special doctrinal set-up. I am not speaking of an individualistic position but of a personal attitude, keeping in mind that "person" always implies community. Christian commitment is indeed ecclesial, but this word is not simply a synonym for an established organization. Ecclesia (church), strictly speaking, implies an organism, and an organism requires a soul, a life. An organization only requires an idea, a reason for its existence....
Christianness is a new but also an ancient form of Christic existence. It was known from the beginning to many mystics and contemplatives but was unable to take a sociological form -- that is, the ecclesial shape that is now becoming visible. It implies a state of awareness and life manifest in a twofold liberation. This means, first, liberation from a fixed and determined political order, which until recently was regarded as indispensable for the practice of "Christian values" (Christendom). It is also a liberation from identifying being Christian with the acceptance of a determined series of Christian doctrines (Christianity). In other words, this new Christic self-understanding does not find itself linked to any determined political order or with a fixed intellectual system. Christianness is neither a new political form nor a new intellectual creed; it is a commitment which, although it needs specific expressions and a concrete political order to manifest itself, does not identify itself with any of these things.
The "Inner Trinity" is that world of meaning that exists within the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This inner world does not contradict the outer tradition, but adds further dimensions to that outer tradition's meaning.
In Sonic Theology, Abba, the Father, inherently includes God the Mother (the Heart) and God the Father (the Beloved). The Father greets you at the door, and He leads you to the Mother who is in the living room, sitting near the hearth (Heart) of the home (Aum). If you can't stand up in front of the Father when He opens the door, then the Mother will forever remain inaccessible. Knock, and enter therein the welcome of the Divine.
The Holy Spirit becomes the Daughter; the causal, or root, form of the Creation. The Daughter exemplifies Wisdom, the Wisdom that gives constant birth to the rest of Creation, to ten thousand Children. The Holy Spirit has always already proceeded from the Father (and, thus, the Mother), way back into infinity; and will always already proceed from the Father (and, thus, the Mother) way onward into eternity.
The Son synonymizes the Buddha, the Christ. The Son exemplifies pure Love, the silence and simplicity that celebrates the ever-present communion of the Mother and the Father with the Daughter and Her Children. Men and Women of all times and places (including Yeshu and Miriam, Siddhartha and Tara, Vardhamana and Mallinath, Krishna and Radha, and Rama and Sita) are Sons, even if some Sons have forgotten how to celebrate! Jivantayana is the renunciation of forgetfulness, the remembering of celebration.