Yajnarthat-karmano-nyatra lokoyam karmabandhanah;
Tadartham karma kaunteya muktasangah samachara.
"The world is bound by actions other than those performed for the sake of sacrifice; therefore, Arjuna, son of Kunti, perform action for that sake -- for sacrifice alone -- free from attachment."
-- Bhagavad Gita 3:9
30 December 2008
He makes a pathetic and not undignified figure, this eager, slightly-built Irishman,
with his subtle mind, his studious habits, his deeply reverent spirit,
his almost fanatical devotion to the wise men of former days,
Pagan or Christian, who had lived in the light of a wider civilisation:
called upon to fight the battles of the West with arms forged in the East,
and reprimanded even in the hour of conquest for having transgressed the rules of the field.
Alice Gardner, Studies in John the Scot.
He deviated from the path of the Latins
while he kept his eyes intently fixed on the Greeks;
wherefore he was reputed an heretic.
William of Malmesbury, de Pontificibus.
17 December 2008
This week, Anne Rice is taking questions from Beliefnet Community members. Check it out, and join in--there is still time to set up your profile, join the group, and ask Ms. Rice a question.-- Patton Todd, "Text Messages"The best part of the exchange so far, in my opinion:From member Zero-Equals-Infinity:
The more I think of Sri Ramakrishna’s bhakti, the more I am wonderstruck. Keshab Sen repeats the name of Hari, meditates on God, so he (Thakur [a.k.a., Sri Ramakrishna]) immediately ran to meet him. Keshab at once became his own. He then did not listen to the Captain. That Keshab went to a foreign land, ate with white men, gave his daughter in marriage in a different caste -- all these matters vanished.-- The Kathamrita, Volume I, Section XIII, Chapter Nine
“I take only cherries. I have nothing to do with thorns.” In the bond of bhakti the believers in God with form and believers in God without form become the same; the Hindus, the Muslims and the Christians all become one and also the four varnas [castes]. Bhakti be victorious! Blessed you are Sri Ramakrishna! Victory to you! You have embodied the universal view of sanatana dharma (the eternal religion). It is perhaps for this reason that you have such an attraction! You embrace the followers of all religions as your own without any difference! You have but one test it is that of bhakti. You only see whether a person has love for God within, whether he has bhakti or not. If that is there, he immediately becomes your very own. If you see bhakti in a Hindu, he is at once your own. And if a Muslim has bhakti for Allah, he is also your own. If a Christian has the love for Jesus, he is also your near and dear one. You say that all rivers coming from different directions, from different regions fall into the same one ocean.Thakur does not consider this world as a dream. If that be so, it will "lose weight". It is not mayavada; it is Vishishtadvaitavada. This is because he does not consider the jiva and the world as imaginary. He doesn’t think them to be an illusion. God is real, so are men and the world. Brahman is qualified with jiva and the world. You cannot get the whole of the bel fruit if you take away seeds and its shell.
16 December 2008
All human-divine incarnations (Zarathustra, Krishna, Christ, Buddha, e.g.) are manifestations of the primal realizer, the adi-Buddha, the revealer of Heart-Beloved. Various manifestations are necessary, due to the variously changing conditions of human societies, but the true adi-Buddha remains the constant realizer, though in different forms. The adi-Buddha is the primal Prophet, the primal Avatar, the primal Christ, and the primal Sufi.
15 December 2008
""God is a Spirit" (or, more accurately translated, "God is Spirit"), declares the Scripture (John iv. 24), "and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."What does it mean to "deny matter"? From a Christian Science perspective, Spirit is one thing and matter is another thing completely. But such a perspective posits two ultimates: Spirit (or God) and matter (or not-Spirit). However, Spirit is Infinite and All, thus precluding the existence of anything not Spirit. If Spirit is All, one has at least two possible implications: (1) matter, as non-Spirit, doesn't exist; or (2) matter, apparently non-Spirit, is actually Spirit, perhaps Spirit in a different form (since Spirit is Infinite, Spirit could manifest in Infinite number of forms, including matter). Christian Science takes the first implication, but the second implication is more consistent with both reason and experience.
If God is Spirit, and God is All, surely there can be no matter, for the divine All must be Spirit....
Hence my conscientious position, in the denial of matter, rests on the fact that matter usurps the authority of God, Spirit; and the nature and character of matter, the antipode of Spirit, include all that denies and defies Spirit, in quantity or quality."
-- Mary Baker Eddy. Unity of Good. Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist. 1908. 31; in Mary Baker Eddy. Prose Works Other Than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist. 1925.
There is one way that the Christian Science perspective may be accurate, and that way involves defining matter not as a form of being, but as a psychological dynamic. If matter is the assumption that something non-Spirit does in fact exist, then matter could reasonably be rejected and denied. In other words, the problem is not that what we call matter exists; the problem is in mentally presuming that what we call matter is separate from Spirit, not-God.
11 December 2008
Salman Hameed teaches astronomy and religious studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has lectured in Pakistan on reconciling evolution with Islam.
Hameed spoke with New Scientist about the rise of creationism in the Muslim world, what scientists can do to promote evolution there, and why he thinks Richard Dawkins and other atheists will push Muslims away from evolution.
How is evolution perceived in Muslim countries?
If you ask the question of whether you accept evolution or not, we find that a large portion of people, vast majorities, reject evolution. Compared to the US, where 40% are comfortable with evolution, in the Muslim countries that would go down to 10, 15, or 20%. In Turkey, one of the more secular Muslim countries, the level is between 22 and 25%.
Why the low acceptance rates?
Evolution has not been in the public discourse, so it depends on what people believe evolution is. Right now, there is a misperception that evolution equals atheism.
Are there any religious teachings in the Koran or elsewhere that conflict with evolution, as some creationists claim is the case with the Bible?
The Koran itself does not provide a single clear-cut verse that contradicts evolution.
One of the big evolution problems from the US creationist perspective is the age of the Earth. Logically speaking, if you believe in a 6000 or 10,000 year-old Earth, then you have to reject evolution
In the Muslim countries, young Earth creationism is nonexistent. The Koran is very vague about creation stories, specifically regarding the creation of the universe. If you accept an old Earth, then it makes it relatively easier to accept evolution.
Then what is the basis for Islamic opposition to evolution?
In some instances, evolution becomes a symbol for Western dominance and a sign of modernity. Evolution can act as a lighting rod, as a symbol of the West and everything that is bad about the West - usually translated as material culture or materialism.
10 December 2008
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
The first day corresponds to the Sun, the ruler of the first day, called "Sunday". The Sun is symbolized by fire. The Sun is the light source of the solar system ("and there was light"). Virtue: Faith; vice: pride.
6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."
7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
The second day corresponds to the Moon, the ruler of the second day, called "Moon-day" or "Monday". The Moon is symbolized by water, and with the Sun, both symbolize the tantric and eucharistic com/union of fire and water, spirit and matter. The Moon is responsible for the movement of the watery tides on earth ("to separate water from water"). Virtue: Happiness; vice: envy.
9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
The third day ("Tuesday") is ruled by Mars (known to the ancient Germans as "Tiu"). In astrology, Mars is exalted in Capricorn, an earth sign -- thus "let dry ground appear". Once dry ground has formed, seed-bearing plants and trees can evolve. Plants are able to photosynthesize, to transform one form of energy (sunlight) into another (sugar). Transformation is a characteristic of the constellation of Scorpio, which is ruled by the planet Mars. Virtue: Vigor; vice: anger.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
The fourth day ("Wednesday") is ruled by Mercury (whom the ancient Germanics knew as "Woden" or "Odin"). Mercury is the messenger of the Gods, the communicator, the one who specializes in creating language, letters, and other "signs" as means of "mark"-ing and "govern"-ing knowledge. The stars and the planets served as the first "language" that our early human ancestors felt the need to decipher, decode, and understand; a language of the Bright Ones in which existed the keys of birth and death, the keys to measuring "seasons and days and years". Virtue: Wisdom; vice: intellectual greed.
20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.Jupiter (known as "Thor" by the early Germanics) rules "Thursday", the fifth day. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, growth, and generosity. Thus, the fifth day is the first day that Yahweh Allah commands that His creation "be fruitful and increase in number". In astrology, Jupiter is associated both with water ("great creatures of the sea") and with ether, the most spiritual of all the elements ("let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky"). Virtue: Generosity; vice: material gluttony.
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
The sixth day ("Friday") is named after the Germanic Goddess "Freya", who corresponds to the Roman Goddess "Venus", who herself is related to the sixth planet of the same name. Though Venus in astrology is a masculine planet, it also has many feminine associations. Thus, on the sixth day, we see the appearance of gender, of masculinity and femininity together, as both being parts of the image of Yahweh Allah. Venus is the planet of passion, of the urge to "rule" and "subdue", as seen in the story of Parasurama, a Hindu personage who symbolizes Venus. Venus also is associated with fruit and flowers, indicative of the initial diet of Yahweh Allah's human creations, a diet that was vegetarian or even vegan. (Yahweh Allah allowed humanity to eat meat, only after the subsidence of the Great Flood.) Virtue: L0ve-Compassion; vice: physical lust.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. [NIV]
Finally, on the seventh day, Yahweh Allah rested, peacefully. The seventh day is "Saturday", ruled by the seventh planet "Saturn", whose name in Sanskrit -- "Shani" -- means "Peace" and "Rest". Shani is related to "Shankara", or "The Peace-Maker", a Sanskrit name for God, the Holy One, Who, though in motion, is always at Peace. Virtue: Temperance; vice: sloth.
06 December 2008
We are told that "Zarathushtra was descended from a kingly family," and also that the first converts to his doctrines were of the ruling caste. But the priesthood, "the Kavis and the Karapans, often succeeded in bringing the rulers over to their side." So we find that, in this fight, the princes of the land divided themselves into two opposite parties, as we find in India in the Kurukshetra war. "With the princes have the Kavis and the Karapans united, in order to corrupt man by their evil deeds." Among the princes that stood against Zarathushtra, as his enemies, the mighty Bendva might be included, who is mentioned in Yasna, 49, 1-2. From the context we may surmise that he stood on the side of the infidels. A family or a race of princely blood were probably the Grehma (Yasna, 32, 12-14). Regarding them it is said that they "having allied with the Kavis and the Karapans, have established their power in order to overpower the prophet and his partisans. In fact, the opposition between the pious and the impious, the believers and the unbelievers, seem very often to have led to open combat. The prophet prays to Ahura that he may grant victory to his own, when both the armies rush together in combat, whereby they can cause defeat among the wicked, and procure for them strife and trouble."
There is evidence in our Indian legends that in ancient India also there have been fights between the representatives of the orthodox faith and the Kshatriyas, who, owing to their own special vocation, had a comparative freedom of mind about the religion of external observances. The proofs are strong enough to lead us to believe that the monotheistic religious movement had its origin and principal support in the kingly caste of those days, though a great number of them fought to oppose it.
I have discussed in another place the growth in ancient India of the moral and spiritual element in her religion which had accompanied the Indian Aryan people from the time of the Indo-Iranian age, showing how the struggle with its antagonistic force has continued all through the history of India. I have shown how the revolution which accompanied the teachings of Zarathushtra, breaking out into severe fights, had its close analogy in the religious revolution in India whose ideals are still preserved in the Bhagavadgita.
It is interesting to note that the growth of the same ideal in the same race in different geographical situations has produced results that, in spite of their unity, have some aspect of difference. The Iranian monotheism is more ethical, while the Indian is more metaphysical in its character. Such a difference in their respective spiritual developments was owing, no doubt, to the more active vigour of life in the old Persians and the contemplative quietude of mind in the Indians. This distinction in the latter arises in a great measure out of the climatic conditions of the country, the easy fertility of the soil and the great stretch of plains in Northern India affording no constant obstacles in physical nature to be daily overcome by man, while the climate of Persia is more bracing and the surface of the soil more rugged. The Zoroastrian ideal has accepted the challenge of the principle of evil and has enlisted itself in the fight on the side of Ahura Mazda, the great, the good, the wise. In India, although the ethical side is not absent, the emphasis has been more strongly laid on subjective realisation through a stoical suppression of desire, and the attainment of a perfect equanimity of mind by cultivating indifference to all causes of joy and sorrow. Here the idea, over which the minds of men brooded for ages, in an introspective intensity of silence, was that man as a spiritual being had to realise the truth by breaking through his sheath of self. All the desires and feelings that limit his being are keeping him shut in from the region of spiritual freedom.
In man the spirit of creation is waiting to find its ultimate release in an ineffable illumination of Truth. The aspiration of India is for attaining the infinite in the spirit of man. On the other hand, as I have said before, the ideal of Zoroastrian Persia is distinctly ethical. It sends its call to men to work together with the Eternal Spirit of Good in spreading and maintaining Kshatra, the Kingdom of Righteousness, against all attacks of evil. This ideal gives us our place as collaborators with God in distributing His blessings over the world.
"Clear is this all to the man of wisdom as to the man who carefully thinks; he who upholds Truth with all the might of his power, he who upholds Truth the utmost in his word and deed, he, indeed, is thy most valued helper, O Mazda Ahura!"-Yasna, 31-22.
It is, in fact, of supreme moment to us that the human world is in an incessant state of war between that which will save us and that which will drag us into the abyss of disaster. Our one hope lies in the fact that Ahura Mazda is on our side if we choose the right course. The law of warfare is severe in its character; it allows no compromise.
"None of you:" says Zarathushtra, "shall find the doctrine and precepts of the wicked; because thereby he will bring grief and death in his house and village, in his land and people! No, grip your sword and cut them down!"-Yasna, 31, 18.
-- Rabindranath Tagore, Forward to The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra
04 December 2008
Each of the seven children's chronicles is based on one of the seven planets that comprised the heavens in medieval astrology, says a scholar whose theory is examined in the programme.
The explanation comes after more than five decades of literary and theological debate over whether Lewis devised the fantasies with a pattern in mind or created characters and events at random.
It is put forward by Reverend Dr Michael Ward, in his book Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis.
Norman Stone, director and producer of The Narnia Code, to be screened on BBC2 at Easter, says the theory is the "best explanation yet" for the chimerical nature of the books.
All phenomena are anitya, or impermanent.
All phenomena are dukkha, or incapable of providing total satisfaction.
All phenomena are anatman, or not-self.
The last mark has been the most controversial, often interpreted as meaning that Buddhism denies personhood, the soul, individuality, or a whole mess of other conceptions.
"Not-self" is none of these.
To lack a self means this: to lack total ownership of any phenomenon. There is nothing that we, as humans, completely own. This is true, because (1) all things change, and thus escape total ownership; and (2) no thing provides complete satisfaction, even if we would want it to, thus demonstrating the lack of complete ownership.
Is there anything that you, who own nothing, can call your own?
16 November 2008
13 November 2008
08 November 2008
The supreme light that shines in my heart
The Lord who fed Sambandhar and Appar
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
The Great Ancient, the Goal of Yogis
The Supreme Purusha that dwells in the Puri
The Adi Deva, whom the Vedas sing of
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
The pillar of light which baffled Brahma and Vishnu
The ocean of mercy who saved Markandeya
The Lord of Madurai whom the Pandya beat
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
The supreme Teacher who taught the four
The Adi Deva who has assumed the five
Parama, Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa and Antaryamin,
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
The Lord who pervades the universe
The thread-soul, the Sutratman,
The over-soul, the purport of Srutis
Him I saw at the abode, of Rishis.
The effulgence who is above the Three
Who exists even after the Pralaya
Who saved Kannappa and Sundarar
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
He who drank the poison and saved the world,
He who danced at Chidambaram,
He who shines as the Jyotirlinga
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
He who brought the jackal-horses to Pandya
He who gave pearl-palanquin to Sambandhar
He who is the essence of Panchakshara
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
He who dwells in Banares and Vedas,
In Ramesvar, Arunachal and Kanchi,
In the hearts of all beings
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
He who pleaded on behalf of Darumi
He who dwells in Kailas with Uma
He who restored the eyesight of Sundarar
Him I saw at the abode of Rishis.
05 November 2008
02 November 2008
Outspoken atheist Professor Richard Dawkins is to warn children of the dangers in believing "anti-scientific" fairytales such as Harry Potter.
Prof Dawkins will write a book aimed at youngsters where he will discuss whether stories like the successful JK Rowling series have a "pernicious" effect on children.
The 67-year-old, who recently resigned from his position at Oxford University, says he intends to look at the effects of "bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards".
25 October 2008
All Things Considered, October 24, 2008 · Religious language trips off Barack Obama's tongue as if he were a native of the Bible Belt.
From the moment he emerged on the national scene, he has spoken to believers in a language few Democrats have mastered: the language of the Bible and of a personal relationship with God.
Sometimes he shares his adult conversion story, describing how he knelt beneath the cross at his Chicago church: "I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me," he says. "I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works."
Sometimes he speaks of sin and personal responsibility: "When a gangbanger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels someone has disrespected him," he told a group of religious progressives in 2006, "We've got a moral problem. There's a hole in that young man's heart."
And sometimes he borrows code words, not from hymns, but from Christian rock star Michael W. Smith, such as when he proclaimed at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "We worship an awesome God in the blue states!"
It is this ease with religion that has helped Obama win over voters of various religious stripes — including Catholics who traditionally have voted Republican....
19 October 2008
Master (with a smile): "Do you know my attitude? Books, scriptures, and things like that only point out the way to reach God. After finding the way, what more need is there of books and scriptures? Then comes the time for action.
"A man received a letter from home informing him that certain presents were to be sent to his relatives. The names of the articles were given in the letter. As he was about to go shopping for them, he found that the letter was missing. He began anxiously to search for it, several others joining in the search. For a long time they continued to search. When at last the letter was discovered, his joy knew no bounds. With great eagerness he opened the letter and read it. It said that he was to buy five seers of sweets, a piece of cloth, and a few other things. Then he did not need the letter any more, for it had served its purpose. Putting it aside, he went out to buy the things. How long is such a letter necessary? As long as its contents are not known. When the contents are known one proceeds to carry out the directions.
"In the scriptures you will find the way to realize God. But after getting all the information about the path, you must begin to work. Only then can you attain your goal.
"The almanac forecasts the rainfall tor the year. You may squeeze the book, but you won't get a drop of water — not even a single drop." (Laughter.)
Consider the following proposition as a key to understanding the Catholic-Christian approach to theology:
The proper Catholic-Christian answer to any theological question is always
"both/and," rather than "either/or."
At first glance, this might seem ridiculous or contradictory. Isn't God absolute? Isn't there just one truth, as opposed to error? Indeed, this proposal does not imply that a statement and its direct negation are both true ("A is B" and "A is not B"). It would obviously be false to claim, for example, that "God is Love" and "God is not Love," or "Jesus is divine" and "Jesus is not divine."
However, just as every coin has both a "heads" and a "tails" side, just as every battery has both a "positive" and a "negative" terminal, and just as the earth has both a North Pole and a South Pole, so also there are always (at least) two "sides" or "poles" to the Catholic-Christian answer to any theological question. These opposite poles often seem far apart and difficult to hold together. It is rarely easy to understand and balance both sides of an issue, just as we can't easily see both sides of a coin at the same time (without a mirror, at least!). Yet the "opposite" sides are seldom really "contradictions," even if there may be some strong "tensions" between them.
For example, Christians believe that Jesus is both God and human. To a non-Christian, this might seem ridiculous. Even for a Christian, it is hard to understand or explain. How can anything or anyone be both divine and human? Or how can God be both transcendent and immanent? Or how can the Bible be both the Word of God and human literature? Can both creation and evolution be true somehow? Can both science and religion be reconciled? The Catholic answer to all these questions is YES, both the one side and its opposite not only can, but must be held together in tension, even if they seem to be contradictory, in order to understand the whole truth, the whole of the complex reality.
15 October 2008
[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Geralyn Wolf of the Diocese of Rhode Island has inhibited the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding for publicly professing her adherence to the Muslim faith.
The notice states that the diocesan “Standing Committee has determined that Dr. Redding abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church by formal admission into a religious body not in communion with the Episcopal Church. The bishop has affirmed that determination.”
The inhibition prevents Redding from “exercising the gifts and spiritual authority conferred on her by ordination and from public ministry” and is in force until March 31, 2009. In accordance with Episcopal canons, unless Redding “reclaims” her Christian faith, said Wolf in an interview, the inhibition will automatically lead to a deposition, ending Redding’s priesthood.
“In the process of deposition, we shouldn’t dismiss each other easily,” the bishop said.
According to the “notice of inhibition,” dated September 30 and signed by Wolf, “Dr. Redding has acknowledged taking her Shahadah to become a Muslim.”
07 October 2008
Gegrüsst seist du, Maria, voll der Gnade;
der Herr ist mit dir;
du bist gebenedeit unter den Frauen
und gebenedeit ist die Frucht deines Leibes, Jesus.
Heilige Maria Mutter Gottes,
bitte für uns Sünder,
jetzt und in der Stunde unseres Todes.
04 October 2008
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Great Rishi, Mighty Indra, Eternal Guru, Kshatriya of Shankara." [Paraphrase of Isaiah 9:6]
02 October 2008
16 September 2008
"I have not said that a Guru is not necessary. But a Guru need not always be in human form. First a person thinks that he is an inferior and that there is a superior, all-knowing, all powerful God who controls his own and the world's destiny and worships him or does Bhakti. When he reaches a certain stage and becomes fit for enlightenment, the same God whom he was worshipping comes as Guru and leads him on. That Guru comes only to tell him 'That God is within yourself. Dive within and realize'. God, Guru and the Self are the same."
09 September 2008
08 September 2008
We human beings have long acquired the habit of creating dichotomies and opposition, and our understandings of scriptural texts and traditions have not avoided this tendency. We frequently find polarity imposed as a device of convenience: tradition versus reform, meditator versus scholar, etc. Some Buddhist teachers may fall into such dichotomies. Ajahn Buddhadasa is one who does not. For him, the middle way is about finding the right course between extremes.
Ajahn Buddhadasa grew up during a time of great change in Thai society, as aggressive western “civilization” and imperialism made deep inroads. This change brought about many benefits such as roads, schools, and advances in health care, but much destruction resulted as well. The forests of Thailand diminished from over 90% to just 10%, prostitution became rampant, and traditional modes of life have disappeared. Many in Thailand responded to the pressure to westernize by embracing and profiting from it. Others took the opposite approach, resisting and refusing what the West had to offer. Ajahn Buddhadasa sought the middle way between these opposing alternatives.
The organizing element in Ajahn Buddhadasa’s response to Western imperialism and modernization was the Dhamma. This may seem self-evident, but it wasn’t true of the political-economic elite or even the majority of Thai monks, especially the senior monks who were often much more interested in maintaining tradition and privilege than in living from Dhammic principles. One of Ajahn Buddhadasa’s most notable qualities was his ability to hold the Dhamma at the center—not a bookish, memorized Dhamma, but a living, creative expression of it. He and others, such as Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn, represent some of the healthiest Asian responses to the tremendous economic, political, and military pressure emanating from the violent capitalist-driven ideology of the West.
Faced with the dichotomy of slavishly following or stubbornly refusing the progress of Westernization, Ajahn Buddhadasa felt that there were many things to learn from the West. Like the Dalai Lama, he was fascinated by science. When he was a young monk, he cherished the typewriter given to him by an early benefactor. He experimented with radios and early recording equipment, and was an excellent photographer. He read Freud and other psychologists, and philosophers like Hegel and Marx. He believed there was a way to use some Western developments constructively. Instead of blindly refusing them, he thought that one should learn how to adapt them - understanding them while being mindful of their potential dangers.
He thought that Asian peoples could learn from what those in the West were thinking and doing, without surrendering their own wisdom. Many Thai students in Europe and in Western-style educational systems were being told by their European teachers that they came from an “inferior civilization.” There were some who believed what they were told. Fortunately, others did not. Ajahn Buddhadasa emerged as the main Thai voice pointing out that Europe had created nothing comparable to Buddhism, while acknowledging the economic and military advancement of the West. He presented the view that Asian Buddhism had an attitude much more fitting with science than Christianity, and a kind of wisdom largely missing in the West.
Ajahn Buddhadasa taught that in order to wisely absorb what is coming from the West, and to filter what is unhealthy, we need to stay grounded in an understanding of Buddha-Dhamma. This had a great influence on Thai society, especially among the progressive elite. Though the meaning is a bit different for those of us born in the West, the dilemma remains: we live in a culture that is very powerful and has some healthy, creative aspects, but also a tremendous amount of violence and destruction. How are we going to sort through this? In which principles can we ground ourselves?
Another dichotomy occurs between conservative and radical. The Thai activist and scholar Sulak Sivaraksa coined the term “radical conservatism” to describe Ajahn Buddhadasa. In some ways Ajahn Buddhadasa was conservative. He thought that Southern Thai culture was healthy, balanced, and wise, and he wanted to help conserve it. He was also conservative, in certain respects, regarding Buddhism, believing that Buddhism needed to stay grounded in its past without being stuck there.
At the same time he was radical. Ajahn Buddhadasa honored the Buddhist tradition that had developed over 2500 years, but he also recognized that the many changes it had been through were not in keeping with its core. In trying to understand and preserve the tradition, he endeavored to find the original and essential aspects of Buddhism through carefully reading and studying the Pali suttas. He insisted on reviving core threads of Buddha-Dhamma—teachings such as suññata (emptiness) and tathata (thusness) —that were in danger of being obliterated by certain elements of traditional Theravada Buddhism. Although this could be considered a conservative activity, it seemed very radical to the monastic hierarchy. Rather than end up on one side or the other of this conservative-progressive dichotomy, he was able to be progressively conservative and conservatively progressive, avoiding a common ideological lock-down.
Another key dichotomy he addressed is that of lay versus monastic. Senior monks discouraged him from teaching anatta (not-self) and paticcasamuppada (dependent co-origination) to lay people on grounds that it would “confuse them.” But in good conscience Ajahn Buddhadhasa could not stop. He argued that these dhammas are core to Buddhism, and all people who want to end suffering have a right to learn them. For him, ending suffering is not a monastic issue, or even a Buddhist issue, but a human issue. He took on the work of making the Dhamma available to anyone who might be interested, whether they were lay or ordained, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Sikh (and he had students from all of these traditions).
Ajahn Buddhadasa also challenged the meditation versus daily-life practice dichotomy. The term ‘Dhamma practice’ is often used as a euphemism for meditation both in the West and in
Asia. When people say ‘practice’ they are referring to the practice of sitting on a cushion or doing walking meditation, and sometimes specifically on retreat or in a formal setting. This has raised questions and created confusion about how to practice in daily-life, and how to respond to the demands, complexities, and needs of the world we live in.
Central to Ajahn Buddhadasa’s approach is the idea that “Dhamma is duty; duty is Dhamma.” Dhamma practice comes down to doing our duty, which inspires a further investigation into the nature of that duty. For some of us our duty is something dictated to us by our family. The government tells us about our patriotic duty. Capitalism tells us about our duty to consume to keep the economy strong. Ajahn Buddhadasa believed that duty must be discovered by and for ourselves. We should be mindful of messages from our family, government, culture, and economic system, but in the end it is our own responsibility to identify. Sometimes it’s about taking care of the body, sometimes it’s about one’s profession, and sometimes it’s about social action. Ultimately the core duty is to let go of self and to be free of suffering.
Finally, there is the spiritual versus worldly dichotomy. There are teachers of Theravada who believe in a clear duality between samsara and Nibbana, the worldly and transcendent. And there is much in the West that dichotomizes these as well, including leftist political traditions that want to abolish religion and be simply materialistic. There are others with the opposite bias: “Forget politics and forget social issues, all you have to do is practice, practice, practice and escape to Nibbana.”
While Ajahn Buddhadasa didn’t believe that samsara (worldly) and Nibbana (transcendent) are one and the same, he did insist that Nibbana is found only in the midst of the world. For him the way to end suffering could only be found through suffering. He described Nibbana as “the coolest point in the furnace.”
The Dhamma perspective that made all this bridging possible is an understanding, both intellectual and experiential, of idappaccayata—the universal natural law that all things happen because of causes and conditions. Nothing is static, absolute, or fixed. Seeing this, we avoid becoming trapped in ideology, positions, and dichotomies. Ajahn Buddhadasa believed that an approach which may have worked for a while may also finally reach its limit. The more we understand that everything depends on causes and conditions, that nothing is fixed, the easier it will be to navigate the intellectual and ideological dichotomies of our world, and to follow the middle way of non-suffering in this lifetime.
06 September 2008
05 September 2008
The presence of God is the presence of Nature.
Nature is God.
The study of Nature is the study of God.
God and Nature: two sides of the same Reality.
God -- the Great, Starry-Bright Nothing --
gives birth to
Nature -- the Awesome, Solar-Lucid Something.
To see Nature is to see the Buddha.
To love Nature is to love the Christ.
To see through Nature is to see as the Buddha.
To love beyond Nature is to love as the Christ.
To see God as the Heart of Nature is to be the Buddha.
To love God as the Heart of Nature is to be the Christ.
25 August 2008
"Some of the God-fire in your heart must have rubbed off on your letter I received last evening. I read it to Baba and the look on His face was very deep. His message for you is that you are very fortunate to experience this Love and that you should, "Plunge in, unafraid."
It immediately brought to my mind something Baba told us one evening just before the accident and made us repeat it a few times. It is the lines of an Urdu couplet by a mystic poet: "Understand well this Love is no joke; it is an Ocean of Fire in which you have to plunge deep and drown yourself."
The road of the mind is narrow, and for a dnyani (seeker) it is a long journey. The road of the heart, however, has no limits and it's the most direct to God. For the dnyani there are a thousand questions to all of which the bhakti (lover) has one answer — and it is all-sufficient and satisfying."
-- Mani Irani
22 August 2008
One can find volumes and volumes of prose and poetry about love, but there are very, very few persons who have found love and experienced it. No amount of reading, listening and learning can ever tell you what love is. Regardless of how much I explain love to you, you will understand it less and less if you think you can grasp it through the intellect or imagination.
Hafiz describes the bare truth about love when he says:
Janab-e ishqra dargah basi bala tar-azaq'l ast: Kasi in astan busad kay jan der astin darad.
The majesty of love lies far beyond the reach of intellect;
only one who has his life up his sleeve dares kiss the threshold of love.
The difference between love and intellect is something like that between night and day; they exist in relation to one another and yet as two different things. Love is real intelligence capable of realizing truth; intellect is best suited to know all about duality, which is born of ignorance and is entirely ignorance. When the sun rises, night is transformed into day. Just so, when love manifests, not-knowing (ignorance) is turned into conscious-knowing (knowledge).
In spite of the difference between a keenly intelligent person and a very unintelligent person, each is equally capable of experiencing love. The quality which determines one's capacity for love is not one's wit or wisdom, but one's readiness to lay down life itself for the beloved, and yet remain alive. One must, so to speak, slough off body, energy, mind and all else, and become dust under the feet of the beloved. This dust of a lover who cannot remain alive without God — just as an ordinary man cannot live without breath — is then transformed into the beloved. Thus man becomes God.
-- Meher Baba
So be it. Svaha!
21 August 2008
1. External Conformity: "[The] stage of external conformity to religious injunctions or traditions is known as the pursuit of Shariat or Karma-Kanda. It covers actions like the offering of daily prayers, visiting of holy places, performance of duties prescribed by scriptures and observance of well established rules of the ethical codes generally accepted by the moral consciousness of the times. The stage of external conformity is useful in its own way as a spiritual discipline; but it is by no means free from evil effects, for it not only tends to make a man dry, rigid and mechanical, but it often nourishes some kind of subtle egotism....
Even at the stage of Shariat or Karma-Kanda allegiance to religions is not infrequently a source of inspiration for many selfless and noble acts for, while these dogmas or creeds are blindly accepted, they are often held with a fervour and enthusiasm which supply a dynamic element to the ideology which has been accepted by the person for the moment. Dogmas and creeds, as compared with barren views and doctrines, have the distinct advantage of being embraced not only by the intellect but also by the heart. They cover and affect a wider part of personality than purely theoretical opinions.
Dogmas and creeds generally, however, are as much a source of evil as of good, because in them the guiding vision is clouded owing to degeneration or suspension of critical thinking. If allegiance to creeds and dogmas has sometimes done good to the individual or to the community to which he belongs, it has more often done harm. Though the mind and heart are involved in allegiance to dogmas and creeds, both function in such case under the serious handicap of suspension of thought. Hence dogmas and creeds do not contribute to unmixed good."
2. Spiritual Emancipation: "The soul often spends several lives in gathering the lessons of external conformity; but there always comes a time when it tires of external conformity and becomes more interested in the realities of the inner life. When the worldly man takes to this higher kind of search he might be said to have become an aspirant. Like the insect which passes on through metamorphosis to the next stage of existence, the soul transcends the phase of external conformity (i.e., Shariat or Karma-Kanda) and enters upon the path of spiritual emancipation (i.e., Tarikat or Moksha-Marga). In this higher phase the soul is no longer satisfied by external conformity with certain rules, but wants to acquire those qualifications which would make its inner life spiritually beautiful....
The rise from Shariat or Karma-Kanda to Tarikat or Moksha-Marga is not to be interpreted therefore as being merely a departure from external conformity. It is not a change from conventionality to idiosyncrasy, from the usual to the unusual, but it is a change from a life of thoughtless acceptance of established traditions, to a mode of being which is based upon thoughtful appreciation of the difference between the important and the unimportant. It is a change from a state of implicit ignorance to a state of critical thoughtfulness. At the stage of mere external conformity the spiritual ignorance of man is often so complete that he does not even realise that he is ignorant. But when the person is being awakened and enters the Path he begins by realising the need for true light. In the initial stages the effort to attain this light takes the form of intellectual discrimination between the lasting and the transitory, the true and the false, the real and the unreal, the important and the unimportant....
When a person gives up uncritically accepted dogmas and creeds in favour of views and doctrines to which he has devoted thought, there is a certain amount of advance insofar as his mind has now begun to think and critically examine its beliefs. Very often, however, the newly held beliefs are seen to lack the fervour and enthusiasm which characterised allegiance to dogmas and creeds. If these newly held beliefs lack motive power, they belong only to the superficial aspect of life and they hang loosely upon the person like an overcoat. The mind has been emancipated from the domination of uncultured emotion, but this is often achieved by sacrificing the co-operation of the heart. If the results of critical thought are to be spiritually fruitful, they must again invade and recapture the heart so as to enlist its co-operative functioning.
In other words, the ideas which have been accepted after critical examination must again be released into active life if they are to yield their full benefit. In the process of practical life they often undergo a healthy transformation and become more soundly interwoven with the very fabric of life.
The transition from external conformity (i.e., Shariat or Karma-Kanda) to the life of inner realities (i.e., Tarikat or Moksha-Marga) involves two steps: (i) freeing the mind from the inertia of uncritical acceptance based upon blind imitation and stirring it to critical thinking, and (ii) bringing the results of critical and discriminative thinking into practical life. In order to be spiritually fruitful, thinking must be not only critical but creative. Critical and creative thinking leads to spiritual preparation by cultivating those qualities which contribute towards the perfection and balancing of the mind and the heart and the release of unfettered divine life."
19 August 2008
The cultivation of mind is the cultivation of nature.
Nature is Mind.
The love of nature is the love of mind.
Mind and Nature: two sides of the same reality.
Psychology is Cosmology.
Buddha: The purification of mind is the purification of nature.
Christ: The creation of nature is the creation of the mind.
Buddha: To unbound mind is to unbound nature.
Christ: To save nature is to save the mind.
Buddha: To act with wisdom and compassion is to act intelligently with the mind and gently with nature.
Christ: To love God and others is to love the mind and nature.
Mind is Nature. Nature is Mind.
Psychology is Cosmology.
16 August 2008
"My husband, Jeff, and I (Arlene) had heard of Baba from different people in 1975 before we met each other. I was very fascinated when I first heard about Him and purchased God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose by Meher Baba.
In 1980 my husband and I started talking about Baba and contacted Kitty Davy at the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach to order some books. When the box of books came, The Perfect Master, a biography of Meher Baba, was at the top of the box, face up. As soon as Jeff got the box opened for me, I saw Baba's picture on the cover and experienced His beautiful love. Remembering was so sweet, I cried and cried. After a while I could talk and said to Jeff, "I remember, I remember."
I called my twin sister Eileen and told her I had something to show her. She came over right away and when I handed her the book she too said, "I remember knowing Him." Now a flood of thoughts came pouring in. The memory of the summer of 1937; little seven year old twin sisters standing in their play house; the first visit from their beautiful play companion.
As Eileen recalls, "Our friend was sitting across the room in His white robe and sandals, looking radiant and happy. Our little hearts jumped with joy. And we said, 'You will play with us now, you will play with us now.' He nodded His head, smiled happily and put His arms out to welcome us. We ran to Him, to receive His warm embrace. It felt like we were melting into Him.
"Such wonderful visits we remember, like the time we put our mother's big hats on His head. And with each hat we put on, He would make a funny face.
"We remember how much He loved to look in our play purses and always seemed surprised at what He found. How we laughed together. Our most cherished remembrance was serving tea."
Reminiscing about the days we had tea with Baba is always special, Baba sitting and looking so sweet with saucer and tea cup in His beautiful hands. A feeling of something very special seemed to come over us. As we lifted our cups to our lips, Baba's eyes seemed to water and shine with a flow that made our little hearts seem to know He was saying, "I love you, my little ones."
On one visit, Baba put His hands out, palms up, and we knew to put our hands in His. He closed His hands over ours and held our hands in His as He drew us over to Himself. We stood looking into His beautiful face for a long time it seems, enjoying every minute.
He showed us a mischievous side of Himself. We would play a game of slipping our fingers into His. He would pretend He couldn't catch them. Then, just as we thought we were winning, He would close His fingers and catch us every time. How that made us laugh with excitement.
We played hide and seek with Baba. We would put scarves over our heads and He would pull them off, one by one. The expression of joy that would come over His face as he found us hiding under the last one — words cannot describe His beautiful face.
Eileen remembers with delight, "We enjoyed playing that we were actresses on stage. We asked our mother if she would help us fix up a stage setting. She drew a rope across our summer kitchen (that's a small room off the main kitchen). That is where Baba always appeared to us. She hung old drapes over the rope and we took many an extra curtain call there for our playmate, Baba.
"When we came into the summer kitchen one summer morning to play actresses, we saw Baba sitting on the stage. He looked very natural sitting there. As we performed our tap dance and singing and a little play, He would clap and clap. He made us feel so happy and uninhibited. He always made us feel we were pleasing Him. He never spoke but we never noticed or were affected by His silence. His love was so full and everything we did was so pleasing to Him that we only wanted to do more and more. We were never embarrassed even though we were very shy.
"There was one thing He would never let us do and that was touch His feet. He insisted on obedience but he was so loving with it. We never questioned Him, never thought of doing so.
"The last time he appeared to us, He was standing and He said, 'You have seen me for a little while and in a little while I will come again and you will know me. Now I must go and you will not remember these times.' Then his body split into two — two of Him. He went away very quickly into both of us at the same time. Right into us and from that moment until 43 years later, when my sister opened the box and saw Baba's picture on The Perfect Master, she hadn't remembered that He had appeared to us. Neither had I until my sister called me over to her house and I saw His picture and suddenly recalled that He had been with us so long ago. But in Baba's time, it was only a little while."
13 August 2008
55 Maxims for Christian Living
by Fr. Thomas Hopko
1. Be always with Christ.
2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.
5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
7. Eat good foods in moderation.
8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.
9. Spend some time in silence every day.
10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
11. Go to liturgical services regularly
12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.
14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
15. Read the scriptures regularly.
16. Read good books a little at a time.
17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
18. Be an ordinary person.
19. Be polite with everyone.
20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
22. Exercise regularly.
23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.
24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.
25. Be faithful in little things.
26. Do your work, and then forget it.
27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
28. Face reality.
29. Be grateful in all things.
30. Be cheerfull.
31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
32. Never bring attention to yourself.
33. Listen when people talk to you.
34. Be awake and be attentive.
35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.
37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.
40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.
43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
45. Be defined and bound by God alone.
46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.
47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.
49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your wretchedness.
54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.
55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.
12 August 2008
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Pictures of a turbaned Joseph and sari-clad Mary with baby Jesus in an "Indianised" version of the Bible is set to create waves across the country. In a unique experiment, the Catholic Church is coming out with a version of the Bible with verses from ancient Indian texts like the Upanishads and Vedas to explain the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.This is an unprecedented attempt to encourage a contextual reading and understanding of the Bible, says the church spokesman, Paul Thelakat.
"The Biblical text remains the same but verses from Vedas and Upanishads have been used to interpret Christian teachings," says Thelakat. As far as Catholics are concerned, they have to live and interpret their Christian faith and scriptures within the given culture, he adds.
Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Sosa Pakiam, in his preface to the Bible, says a unique feature of the new Bible is that it has many references to the spiritual message and Biblical values found in the scriptures of other great Indian religions.
11 August 2008
08 August 2008
"An Indian will listen to his guru, nod his head, and go home and, even if he's a deeply religious person, ignore fifty per cent of what the guru has told him, because his own sense of the world tells him to do that," an Indian man who is well versed in Yogic culture said to me recently. But Westerners who jump heart first into a cloistered Indian subculture do not always find it easy to distinguish what is spiritual from what is Indian-or merely the whim of the guru."
05 August 2008
Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic™ knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic™ will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing.
Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.
The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.
Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.
1. Hinduism (100%) 2. Mahayana Buddhism (98%) 3. Neo-Pagan (98%) 4. Jainism (94%) 5. Sikhism (93%) 6. New Age (79%) 7. Bahá'í Faith (78%) 8. Unitarian Universalism (75%) 9. Orthodox Judaism (74%) 10. Liberal Quakers (73%) 11. Reform Judaism (69%) 12. Theravada Buddhism (63%) 13. Islam (62%) 14. New Thought (49%) 15. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (48%) 16. Orthodox Quaker (48%) 17. Taoism (46%) 18. Scientology (44%) 19. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (38%) 20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (36%) 21. Secular Humanism (35%) 22. Seventh Day Adventist (35%) 23. Eastern Orthodox (29%) 24. Roman Catholic (29%) 25. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (27%) 26. Jehovah's Witness (27%) 27. Nontheist (21%)
31 July 2008
Some members of a religion would say that, if you don't agree 100% in all matters of doctrine and practice, then you shouldn't be a member of the religion in question. Balderdash! Poppycock! They're flimflamming, bamboozling, hoodwinking with such statements. From an Abrahamic perspective, God may not have created this world imperfect, but He certainly has allowed it to continue in such a state of being, and to search for perfection in religion (which is certainly composed of imperfect beings and ideas) is about as smart as to search for perfection in a human being.
The purpose of religion is spiritual transmission, not perfection in either doctrine or practice. Start from the baseline that all religions are imperfect and mistaken, to one degree or another. For some, such a realization might lead them to dispense with religion altogether. For others, it might lead them to remain in the religion to which they currently belong. For some others, it opens up a different sort of possibility: the question becomes, which religion exhibits spiritually potency, doctrinal differences and institutional failings notwithstanding?
There are two ways to approach the spiritual life. One way is the way of submission: one simply accepts whatever a particular religious tradition teaches as being true and good. The way of submission is a venerable path, but it's not the only choice. Unfortunately, the way of submission has dominated much of Christian history.
The second way is the way of "come and see", scientific-tantra, noetic experimentation, or spiritual empiricism: one tests the doctrines and practices within one's own body-mind, adopting what proves true and good, and putting to the side what does not. The way of scientific-tantra has not dominated Christian history and practice, but it does exist.
26 July 2008
because ideas and words are very different.
At the level of the experience and embodiment of the heart, the religions are the same,
because there is no religion there.
Truly, there is no need to convert from one religion to another.
When you know
that Christ is the "I am" of Advaita...
that Allah is the Power of Nirvana...
then you can praise Siva during Mass,
and take refuge in the Buddha in the Mosque.
24 July 2008
1. First noble truth: the truth of compassion (or "karuna") and wisdom (or "prajna"). Compassion and wisdom make life on earth enjoyable.
2. Second noble truth: the origin of compassion and wisdom exists in the realization that all beings seek and deserve compassion and wisdom, as relief from the frustrations and sufferings of life.
3. Third noble truth: family life is an excellent environment in which to practice compassion and wisdom. Spouse and children are living Buddhas, ready to teach us what we need to know and what we need to open our hearts to.
4. Fourth noble truth: compassion and wisdom are cultivated via the noble eightfold path.