Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

30 December 2008

The Lord's Supper: Bhagavad Bhukta

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

The Divine Liturgy, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, is the Christian Form of the Ancient Yajna, the Timeless Tantra, the Primal Puja.

Eoin Erinnacht

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

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.

The best part of the exchange so far, in my opinion:

From member Zero-Equals-Infinity:
Is your return to Christianity an appeal of the forms and narrative, or is a return to the 'beliefs,' and if it is the latter, would you please expand upon how the beliefs that were let go in your college years came to be relevant and vital again? I ask this, because like you, I shed my beliefs in Christianity in my college years, and while I appreciate many aspects of the varieties of Christian tradition, I find the hurdles of literalism and exclusivism which seem to pervuade Christianity intellectually difficult.

Anne Rice's response:
Zero Equals Infinity --- You have asked an elegant question and made an elegant statement. I'm impressed. My return of faith was just that: faith in the existence of God came back to me. Some have said this is a Gift from God, and I would have to say that it feels that way. But I had been asking for faith for a long time. As I said above, I let go of all the sociological and theological questions that were tormenting me. I fell into a great "unknowing." I realized God knew. Some one really was in charge, and some one really knew why evil was allowed to exist and why people suffered. I didn't have to know in order to declare my love for God. So I let the questions go and I let the contradictions go. I returned to the Roman Catholic church and vowed to stay out of the controversies amongst Catholics. I went back to pray, to talk to God in a sacred space, to be with other believers, and I vowed not to argue with anybody about anything. It's hard to live this way. Christians are a people who love to discuss their faith. I want to embrace my fellow believers and non believers. I do not need to theologize or teach or preach. That's how I see it. Of course I saw God in the universe. I saw Him everywhere. My faith was visceral.
-- Patton Todd, "Text Messages"

The More I Think

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.

“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.
-- The Kathamrita, Volume I, Section XIII, Chapter Nine

16 December 2008

The Primal Sruti and Primal Realizer

All humanly composed scriptures (Gathas, Vedas, Bible, al-Qur'an, e.g.) are modifications of the primal scripture, the true sruti, the revelation of Heart-Beloved. Various modifications are necessary, due to the variously changing conditions of human societies, but the true sruti remains the constant against which all scriptures are measured. The true sruti is the primal Gatha, the primal Veda, the primal Bible, the primal al-Qur'an.

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 Spirit

""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."
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.
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.

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

Creationism and Islam

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

The Seven Days of Creation

Within Genesis is an astrologically embedded symbolism. Each day of creation corresponds to one of the seven planets:
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

The Great, the Good, the Wise

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

The Stars of Narnia

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.

Own the Not Self

According to Buddhism, all phenomena are characterized by three marks.

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?

The Green-Letter Bible