The Perennial Philosophy

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Tadashi, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Hello, I'm new here. This is actually my first post.
    I have no intention of debating over if the concept I post below is either 'right or wrong', but as a Pluralist myself, I'm just curious... I just want to know... how many of you here are for the "Perennial Philosophy"?? And if so, what is the religion you primarily indentify yourself with?

    Theistic Rationalism, which many Founding Fathers seemed to subscribe to, is the closest to my belief so far. But I'm not an Unitarian (yet). I'm wanting to believe Jesus' divinity or supernatural ability at least. I fervently venerate Jesus either with his divinity or without.


    (from Wikipedia)

    The Perennial Philosophy also referred to as Perennialism, is a perspective within the philosophy of religion which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown.

    Perennialism is a perspective within the philosophy of religion which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown. According to this view, each world religion, including but not limited to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Buddhism, is an interpretation of this universal truth adapted to cater for the psychological, intellectual, and social needs of a given culture of a given period of history. The universal truth which lives at heart of each religion has been re-discovered in each epoch by saints, sages, prophets, and philosophers. These include not only the 'founders' of the world's great religions but also gifted and inspired mystics, theologians, and preachers who have revived already existing religions when they had fallen into empty platitudes and hollow ceremonialism.

    Religious pluralism holds that various world religions are limited by their distinctive historical and cultural contexts and thus there is no single, true religion. There are only many equally valid religions. Each religion is a direct result of humanity’s attempt to grasp and understand the incomprehensible divine reality. Therefore, each religion has an authentic but ultimately inadequate perception of divine reality, producing a partial understanding of the universal truth, which requires syncretism to achieve a complete understanding as well as a path towards salvation or spiritual enlightenment.

    Although perennial philosophy also holds that there is no single true religion, it differs when discussing divine reality. Perennial philosophy states that the divine reality is what allows the universal truth to be understood. Each religion provides its own interpretation of the universal truth, based on its historical and cultural context. Therefore, each religion provides everything required to observe the divine reality and achieve a state in which one will be able to confirm the universal truth and achieve salvation or spiritual enlightenment.

    Thanks to whoever puts his/her 2 cents in.

    Vaya con Dios,
    Tad
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Namaste Tad,

    The Bahai have some similar thoughts, as do we with Unity, not just the Unitarians. (although when I test at belief.net my beliefs rank high in Liberal Quaker and Unitarian thought, vs New Thought)

    In my current paradigm, I believe G!d, 'spoke' to Buddha, Mohamed, Bahaulla, Jesus, .....confucious, Lau Tzu....Tich Nhat Hanh, .....and 'speaks' with us all....it is our reception that is at issue...we are all constrained by our culture, time period, knowledge, language and personal realm of acceptability....some connected with the one, some realized their oneness, and were able to express it better than I but all expressions are limited by the above constraints...heck, it is said Jesus spoke in Aramaic...and we've translated that...a language with very limited words...into all of our languages...in our way.

    I attend at Unity Churches, Christians according to us, blasphemers according to others.
     
  3. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Namaste Wil,
    (I love this greeting! "the divine in me salutes the divine in you"...)

    Thank you very much for the informative and encouraging reply.
    I'm a novice to the field of religion. I was raised as agnostic by my agnostic parents as most Japanese are apathetic to religions (most follow Shinto and Buddhist rituals only as a cultural thing). I wasn't at all interested in religions or spirituality when I was in Japan... never thought it was something that'd require my serious attention.

    But recently, I came to the realization that God indeed exists. Now I'm so fascinated with this new realm of "faith in God" and eager to learn more and more.

    I look forward to learning from this forum (so much to read!).

    Domo Arigato,
    Tad

    P.S. Please forgive my poor writing as English is not my first language. Also, I often don't have enough time to visit forums as frequently as I wish. So I may not always be able to post a reply quickly, but I'll try my best. Thanks much.
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Tadashi-san,

    Kono forum ni kite itadaite, arigatou gozaimashita. Demo, watashi wa chotto bikkuri shite shimaimashita. Naze naraba, "tadashii" ja nakute, "tadashi" no namae no kuzuri wo tsukatte imasu. Omoshiroi!

    -Nikku yori
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Tadashi —
    Definitely a 'trad', as we call ourselves in the UK.

    I was a cradle Catholic, wandered off in my youth, got into Hermeticism, then Platonism, then the Perennial Philosophy — I've got the complete works of René Guénon and have read most of Frithjof Schuon, among others. Marco Pallis, a Tibetan Buddhist, provided the 'key' which brought me back to Catholicism!

    As a matter of general interest, there's a couple of elements of the wiki quote that could do with clarification:
    Universals are not subject to quantification. Universal truth, which is Truth as such, is beyond numbers. This needs to be understood, because a common misconception is that one can bypass the religions and aspire to this 'single, universal truth' directly. Truth is One in the ordinal, not the cardinal, sense.

    ... and simple people.

    This is quite misleading. Each and every authentic (a necessary qualification these days) religion is true, and the same are unlimited in their possibility of realisation, in that they enable union with the Divine, the Transcendent, the One, whatever one wishes to call it ... in that sense they suffer no 'limitation'.

    Oh dear me, this is not right at all. Each religion is entirely cohesive and adequate to attain its end. Syncretism is utterly rejected by the Perennial Tradition. A Buddhist does not need Christianity to 'complete' Buddhism, a Moslem does not need Taoism ...

    Another misleading statement, I think. The commentators of the Perennial Tradition all follow a religious path, and furthermore see that as a necessary component of spiritual realisation. Guénon became a Moslem, so did Schuon, so did Martin Lings. Pallis was Buddhist, Schaya was Jewish, Borella is Catholic, Sherrard was Orthodox ... the point is religion is true ... a false religion is not a religion, it's a pseudo-religion.

    Ah, got there in the end, but this paragraph does rather contradict what the author states above ...

    ... that's often the trouble with Wiki when it's written by people who compile information, rather than write from experience.

    Many people think Aldous Huxley 'invented' or 'discovered' the Perennial Tradition, which is unfortunate. Huxley was attracted to the idea from the ideological viewpoint, but never really got anywhere, declaring himself agnostic, which seems a shame.

    Guénon, Schuon and others recovered this tradition for the West, but really it is always there, in the heart of religion.
     
  6. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Nikku-san,

    Nihongo sugoku jouzu desune! Nihon ni sundakoto aruno desuka?

    "Tadashii" to tsuzuru noha keiyoushi(adjective) toshite tsukau baai desu. Namae de tsukau tokiha "Tadashi" ga ippanteki(common) desu.

    Oai dekite ureshii desu. Dozo yoroshiku!

    Tad
     
  7. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Wow... so much knowledge to assimilate... thank you Thomas!
    As a believer for only about a year, I am in awe of the people so conversant with religions such as yourself!

    So, the point is, I should pick one whichever makes the most sense to me (since each and every authentic religion is true) and stick to it?

    But here's my problem... though as much as I adore Jesus from the bottom of my heart and want to follow his teachings and I will for the most part, I can't believe God will send some of us to Hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    I don't understand why God can't give everyone as many chances as they need since God has all the time he can spare (=eternity) and He loves every single one of His children so dearly. I think this is why I'm drawn to the notion of reincarnation. So, I'm mixing a Hinduism/Buddhism element into my Christian beliefs, probably it's something you don't recommend to do.

    But in the early centuries, there seem to have been some Christians who believed in reincarnation, a notable one would be Origen, though he was later denounced for his controversial beliefs.

    After listening to Bart Ehrman's lectures, I cannot help but to think the canonization of the current scripture is a result of power struggle among many different sects which held a wide variety of beliefs back then. So, there might be some truths that were lost in the process...? If so, we might find those truths in other religions...? This is why a holistic approach to all religions is appealing to me.

    But I may change my position as I explore more... since I just started my faith journey... and various perspectives and insights from people of different persuasions help me rethink and shape my beliefs. I truly thank you for your contribution. I very much appreciate it!

    Tad
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Where do you find Jesus saying G!d will send anyone to hell gnashing?

    Bart is great, but Bart is of the ilk that didn't have a comfort in Christianity or the bible beyond its shortcomings, many others (take a look at Bishop Spong) found the same information and held their faith.

    I was blessed to sit in the wee hours in a hotel lobby listening to the two of them...there are many who see one mistake or one new understanding and then suddenly feel like they have nothing left to believe in....that is a shame...keep studying!!
     
  9. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Almost throughout the gospel of Matthew, one example would be in chapter 13.

    40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (NIV)


    That is true. But I don't think Bart is antagonistic to Christianity. I'd like to think he is trying to find out who the true Jesus was (if that's ever possible). As a believer of Jesus, I consider that a noble pursuit.


    Oh, I didn't know that they (Ehrman & Spong) had a discussion/debate over the historical Jesus? I wonder if I can find it on YouTube...

    Yes, sometimes studying religions intensely can lead one to skepticism... But I know it for certain that I will not ever lose my faith in God no matter what happens. Even IF the Bible was somehow proved to be largely a fabrication (which I totally doubt it'll happen), it still wouldn't make the slightest dent in my faith. I now know it in my gut that God exists and Jesus was an incarnation of Him. There's nothing anyone can say to change my conviction.

    I'll continue to study. Thank you for your encouragement!

    Tad
     
  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Tadashi-san,

    Although I am not a Christian, let me give you some answers to your questions.

    You asked,

    "...I should pick one whichever makes the most sense to me (since each and every authentic religion is true) and stick to it?"

    --> Keep looking around for the best religion for you. As soon as you find ANYTHING wrong with a religion, you should quit that religion as soon as possible, and go find a better religion.

    "...I can't believe God will send some of us to Hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

    --> "God" does not send us to hell, we send ourselves to hell. Yes, hell is a terrible place, but it is the only logical place for terrible people. (But I do not believe that hell is forever. The Bible did not originally teach that hell is forever.)

    "I don't understand why God can't give everyone as many chances as they need..."

    --> "He" does. This is why I believe in reincarnation

    "...I'm mixing a Hinduism/Buddhism element into my Christian beliefs..."

    --> Do you believe Jesus forgives our sins, or do you believe we will be held responsible for our sins?

    "...the canonization of the current scripture is a result of power struggle among many different sects..."

    --> I believe that even the Bible was re-written for political purposes, for example, the way the Bible was intentionally changed to now say that hell is eternal.

    "...there might be some truths that were lost in the process...?"

    --> Many beliefs were lost in the process.

    "If so, we might find those truths in other religions...?"

    --> They can definitely be found in other religions.

    "... since I just started my faith journey..."

    --> Take your time. Enjoy the ride. Please remember that it may take you decades to find the religion that really fits you.

    "Nihon ni sundakoto aruno desuka?"

    --> I lived in Japan for nine years. (I presently live in China.) 再见!
     
  11. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I'm going to advice the opposite to Nick about quitting a religion as he suggest.
    First, I'm not part of any religion, and I don't believe in anything particular.
    Now, the concepts around religion are, at times, REALLY heavy. Lot's of people come through here with literal interpretations of the bible. As with the case of Hell, not every Christian denomination believes in it as a literal physical place. You should sit down with someone who understands the Tradition thoroughly, and preferably in a good way.

    For example, ask Thomas about the Catholic views on hell, they might interest you.
    You should be aware that the war between the Tradition vs. the Individual interpretation has been waged in this forum for many years. You'll probably get lots of good reasons for either here.

    Also, welcome! I hope you stay a while, always good to hear things from new perspective, not sure how many voices we have from the east here.

    I'm also a bit of a Japanese fanboy when it comes to philosophy and classical culture, so I'll probably keep an eye on you from now on.
     
  12. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Nick-san,

    Ohenji arigato!

    So, are you a Hindu or Buddhist? (I don't know what other religions believe in reincarnation...or, Theosophy by any chance? I'm actually intrigued with this New Age religion...)

    Yes, that's a better way to say it. We send ourselves to hell by going against God... but if hell exists, my interpretation is not like the Bible describes (ex. furnace), more like a dark place where you're isolated from God. To me that's bad enough, like suffering deep depression forever... But "if it's not forever" as you believe, I can accept that. Clearly, bad behaviour should suffer consequences (yes, we should be held responsible for our sins), so we will learn a lesson and cry out to God for forgiveness (which He always grants) and will come back to God.

    Oh, you lived in Japan for 9 years... that explains your Japanese skill. But still very impressive, not every 'gaijin' learns Japanese that well. I hear Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn for Westerners, with the grammar structure being totally different from Latin-derived languages. Nikku-san, sugoi!

    それでは、また ;)
    Tad
     
  13. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Thank you, A Cup Of Tea, for your welcome and sage advice! It's always good to hear various different opinions to keep a balance in my thinking.

    I think there are mainly four reasons that are keeping me from becoming a traditional Christian.

    1. The existence of eternal hell, but if it's not eternal, I can understand it.

    2. The teaching that you have to be a believer to go to heaven. (What will happen to my Japanese friends and family? Most of them say they're agnostic, but they're genuinely good people! But Pope Francis said otherwise, so I'm hopeful... but the Church corrected his statement, which confuses me... but anyhow, I love Pope Francis!)

    3. I'm having a very hard time accepting the Old Testament's descriptions of God. (ex. I don't believe God is jealous and punishes our children and grandchildren if we didn't worship Him. And I don't believe God told Samuel to destroy all the Amalekites including women, children, infants, oxen, sheep, camels and donkeys.)

    4. My strong belief in reincarnation.


    I do have a different perspective of my own, which I plan to share with you guys gradually. I'm a bit of an oddball, so my perspective probably doesn't represent that of most Japanese though.

    Also I must admit... I feel embarrassed that even with my Eastern cultural upbringing, I know so little about Eastern religions. I only know a tiny bit about Buddhism, not anywhere in depth. I wasn't religious at all until recently. I was an "apatheist"(someone who considers the question of the existence of god(s) as neither that important nor relevant to their lives) as the majority of Japanese are.

    But that has all changed, I'm now extremely curious about all forms of faith, so joined here :)

    Tad
     
  14. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Metaphysical meaning of hell (mbd) | Truth Unity

     
  15. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Those are very good questions and you should ask religious representatives about them. The internet is...kind of good, but it's just as easy finding information from people who simply don't understand the religion (people here are very good at explaining a religion to people who actually practice that religion). If you've decided that Jesus is your guy there are a couple of different churches to look at, they are often very different from each other. Our own Church of Sweden just got it's first female Archbishop (head of church) last year, which is a bit different from others around the world.

    I have questions! You said your family conducted rituals, of what sort? Shinto, Buddhist? Did you have a personal shrine at home? Did religious rituals ever play a part in school? Like school start or end? Or celebrating religious holidays?

    I hope to visit someday, but it will be a while. And I would most like to visit temples and nature spots. Fuji would be cool.
     
  16. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Thanks wil! Those are very useful knowledge for pondering my current position on hell and reincarnation. Does this mean some people at Unity church, who call themselves a Christian, support (or at least entertain) the idea of reincarnation?

    I have built my own understanding of reincarnation. This earth is the school where our souls learn what compassion truly is. To excel at anything, we go through strenuous training. To excel at compassion, the same thing. It’s very easy to be generous and kind to others when everything is 'rosy' and when it doesn’t cost us much effort. That's why there are so many hurdles(suffering) in this world, so we can train ourselves. Until our souls become Christ-like (or Buddha-like) and attain complete selflessness, we have to stay here and learn as many lives as it takes. When we finally graduate from this school, our souls will ascend to heaven and become one with God. (And eventually every single one of us will.)

    My theory of reincarnation is not at all popular among my Christian friends as you may imagine (all of them are protestants, some Evangelicals, some Lutherans, some nondenominational). Of course they all believe they go to heaven after this life and being that delayed for another lifetime(s) is not acceptable to them, which I completely understand.

    Tad
     
  17. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Yes, that's actually my next plan... I think I'll start sending emails to priests and pastors now that many churches have websites with "contact us." I wanted to first try my questions in forums to see what most folks say, or even if there is a sort-of consensus on these issues...

    A female Archbishop? That's very encouraging! I realize many churches are still hesitant of the idea often citing 1 Timothy 2:12, but I read that the majority of scholars agree that both Timothys were not written by Paul himself. In Romans 16:7, Paul praises Junia (believed to be a woman) as "outstanding among the apostles", suggesting that Paul recognized female apostles in the church.


    My parents are not that religious, so they don't have even any kind of religious ornaments at home (oh, except for a wooden laughing Buddha my mom loves), but my late-grandparents had an small Buddhist alter where they offer food and flowers every day. My grandpa was a Buddhist preacher (not exactly a monk, but something like a Sunday school teacher). But he had no influence on me, I was too young when he passed.

    Rituals we conduct were mostly at funerals (Buddhist style). Pre world wars, weddings were often performed in Shinto style, but Western style (at Christian churches) became more popular among westernized young people thereafter, even though the vast majority of them are not Christians.

    Also a lot of people like to visit shrines (especially for New Years holidays) and donate money or buy some talismans. I don't know how much they actually believe the efficacy of them, but they do it anyway, simply because it's deeply ingrained into our culture.

    I think public schools are completely secular, I don't remember any religious rituals performed there... but our calendar has some religious holidays (related to Shinto) and schools and businesses are closed according to it. But most people don't engage in anything particularly religious but simply enjoy a day off.

    Yes, Japanese shrines and temples are good places to visit even simply from the historical and architectural perspectives. And Mt.Fuji is great, though I recommend going there in summer time, because it can be very cold even in spring at the tourist village located half way to the top, or dress very warmly. :)

    Tad
     
  18. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Tadashi-san,

    I am a Theosophist. Theosophy is not a New Age religion. Theosophy started before the New Age movement started. The New Age movement evolved from Theosophy.
     
    You said,
     
    "…if hell exists, my interpretation is not like the Bible describes (ex. furnace)…"
     
    --> Actually, I think there is some truth to this idea. Many major religions teach of a fiery hell. Many major religions teach of heaven above and hell below. I believe in the idea that, after we die, we ‘float’ on earth in our astral bodies. Astral bodies have specific gravity, and float up or down depending on their specific gravity. Spiritual astral bodies float up and horrible astral bodies float down (because horrible astral bodies are composed of heavier particles than spiritual astral bodies). On the astral plane, there are no physical limitations, and astral bodies can travel down into the earth if they want to. People with horrible astral bodies have heavy astral bodies, so their specific gravity takes them down to a level underground, and the physical limitations of going underground do not stop astral bodies from entering the earth. When horrible astral bodies drift down into the earth, they encounter hot lava and magma. This is one reason why hell is said to be a hot place. The idea of heaven above and a hot, terrible hell below is correct.
     
    "…not every 'gaijin' learns Japanese that well."
     
    --> I agree. I know many Americans who live in Japan and cannot speak Japanese.
     
    "I hear Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn for Westerners…"
     
    --> It is. This brings up the idea of reincarnation. My Japanese ability is surprising good. There is no explanation for it. A very good psychic once told me that I reincarnated in Japan as a Japanese person. The psychic person said that my Japanese language today is good because I didn’t learn Japanese, it was more that I ‘remembered’ it from this previous reincarnation.
     
    "…The teaching that you have to be a believer to go to heaven."
     
    --> I believe that we are not even asked if we believe in Jesus, Buddha, etc., when we go to heaven.
     
    "What will happen to my Japanese friends and family? Most of them say they're agnostic, but they're genuinely good people!"
     
    --> All good people will go to heaven. All good Christians, Buddhists,, Hindus, etc., will go to heaven. It does not matter which religion they belong to. Christians are doing a terrible thing when they say only Christians will go to heaven.
     
    "But Pope Francis said otherwise…"
     
    --> Pope Francis is wrong.
     
    "I'm having a very hard time accepting the Old Testament's descriptions of God."
     
    --> The Old Testament's description of God is wrong.
     
    "I'm a bit of an oddball, so my perspective probably doesn't represent that of most Japanese though."
     
    --> I know what you mean. The most popular religion in Japan is Honganji Buddhism, which is VERY similar to Christianity.
     
    "I know so little about Eastern religions."
     
    --> This forum is a good place to ask questions about Eastern religions. Ask questions!
     
    "Until our souls become Christ-like (or Buddha-like) and attain complete selflessness, we have to stay here and learn as many lives as it takes."
     
    --> I agree.
     
    "When we finally graduate from this school, our souls will ascend to heaven and become one with God."
     
    --> I see heaven as a resting place between reincarnations. But I see us going to nirvana (not to heaven) after we finish our last reincarnation. I believe in both heaven and nirvana, and I don’t see any conflict between the two ideas. Heaven will be a place of rest. Nirvana will be a place of great activity.
     
    "My theory of reincarnation is not at all popular among my Christian friends…"
     
    --> If they are open-minded, you may want to discuss these ideas with them. Do not waste your time discussing these ideas with closed-minded people, whether they are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.
     
  19. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    so what was it that bought you back to Catholicism ?
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    That's the idea.

    Spiritual development is not something one can do half-heartedly, it's a bit like going out with someone, but that person knows you're always looking out for someone better!

    In sport, as in many disciplines, there is the plateau effect. In the beginning there is getting the hang of it, then one starts to make noticeable progress, then, after a while, one reaches the 'plateau' where there seems to be little return for all the effort made.

    Same in the religious/spiritual world. People get to the plateau, can't see the benefits, appear to be making no progress, get fed up, and then something else comes along that promises a quicker fix, or better result.

    There's a saying of the Desert Fathers:
    'A beginner who goes from one monastery to another is like a wild animal who jumps this way and that for fear of the halter.'

    Nor can I. I don't think He does. I think that's the last thing He wants.

    Really, short of saying 'do what the heck you like, it doesn't matter', I can't think what more there is He can do to prevent anyone from facing extinction.

    I am with the mystic Julian of Norwich, she had a vision of hell, and it was empty. There are also other Christian writings that suggest that is the case.

    Current Catholic theology is far more insightful than our medieval forebears, and most people's notions of what Catholic doctrine is about is quite medieval. Being Catholic is far from popular (just look around these forums) and people like to think the worst of us.

    If you want me to discuss why I think hell is a metaphysical necessity, but that it's empty, I'll be glad to.

    I would also point out that Our Lord used the term 'Gehenna', not 'Sheol' (the term used in Hebrew Scripture for the place where the dead reside). Gehenna was a valley outside Jerusalem, regarded as impure ground and used as a rubbish tip where even the unclaimed dead of the city were dumped. So the image He was presenting was not that of demons and all manner of tortures, but of being abandoned, cast out, thrown away ...

    I think He does. You only need one, when you meet Him face to face.

    I rather think the way reincarnation is treated in the West (and in the East, it seems) is again a failure to distinguish between the universal and the particular.

    I find many of the ideas implicit in the common doctrine of reincarnation as very bleak, very pessimistic, almost hopeless ... an infinite number of lives walking round in circles ... no mercy, no compassion ...

    I find it hard to accept that karma as it is represented, an impersonal mechanism which somehow yet manages to judge the person, the movements of the heart, whilst itself possesses not a single shred of humanity ... I find that a very hard and pitiless dogma ...

    But that's me ... again I'm happy to discuss if you want.

    As long as one clearly understands the doctrines. That's why I like the Perennialists — that's my resource for contemporary inter-religious dialogue — but you could look at Br David Steindl-Rast, Bede Griffiths or Thomas Merton, Tariki, a member here, is quite knowledgeable about him.

    I listened to the Dalai Lama talking to the the community of Dominican Friars here in the UK. He opened his talk with "I can't think of anything to say ... I am among friends, what can I say to you that you don't already know?" ... (He also asked about why we didn't accept reincarnation, by the way, and was quite happy with the answer!)

    I would say reincarnation refers to essences and archetypes, not to individuals, thus the function of the Dalai Lama lives one, from one to the next, but that's not the person of the Dalai Lama ...

    I'm afraid you've been led astray there:
    The idea that Origen taught reincarnation was a piece of nonsense fabricated by the Theosophist Geddes MacGregor.

    Origen himself expressly states that he does not believe it, and that it is contrary to Christian doctrine.

    Yet if you search the web, that claim is all over the place and, I wonder, how many of those who make it have actually read Origen? (If they had, it seems to me there's another doctrine far more enticing than reincarnation ;) )

    Origen was denounced for relying too heavily on Platonism (Arius suffered the same problem), but he's back in our 'good books' now! Origen was known as Origen Adamantius — The Man of Steel — a long time before Superman! He was known to dictate 6 separate theological tracts to 6 separate scribes simultaneously, moving from one to the next so that by the time he got round to the first, the man had caught up with what he had said ...

    One of my Patristic heroes, St Maximus the Confessor, 'revised' Platonism according to Scripture, and solving one of the problems that even Plato was aware of, and unable to fix! He was also very caring in his 'loving correction' of the writings of Origen ...

    I don't think it was anywhere near as bad as contemporary critics like to make out — usually with a book to promote — The canon is pretty close to what it was in the 2nd century, and those that were left out, The Shepherd of Hermas, The Song of the Pearl, The Letter of Clement of Rome — we have them all.

    If modern critics had their way, some of the current canon would be taken out of the list, the Letter to Colossians was most probably not written by St Paul, but it contains the most profound metaphysical statement about the nature of Our Lord, and it's contained in a hymn which was reckoned to be sung by the early Christian communities ...

    ... I find scholars are often too partisan. Especially those who are looking to shift books in the popular market!

    ... Rarely are they saints, or spiritually enlightened. Theology and Biblical Criticism is an academic pursuit ... so they criticise a text which opens on to dimensions they are blissfully unaware of. And a materialist academic mindset can bite you in the arse if you're not careful, believe me, I've been bitten.

    Enough to render the religion defective or limited? No.

    Christianity is not a philosophy, it's an encounter.

    The Quest for the Historical Jesus is a fallacy. There is only one Jesus we know of, the Jesus of Scripture, so people filter Scripture according to the measure of their credulity. And they read it with an eye for the letter, not the spirit ... I've had dozen here tell me of this error or that inconsistency ...

    Ask a saint or a mystic if the Bible is insufficient. Really, you'd have to have reached the spiritual horizon of Scripture, and have gone beyond, to be able to say that ... and there's not one source in the Tradition who has ever said that, in fact they all claim the opposite ...

    ... another common assumption is that the great (and popular) mystics, like Eckhart in Catholicism, or Rumi in Islam, operated 'outside the box' of their tradition. It's nonsense. In fact, the great saints and mystics were all profoundly in the tradition, although often suffered at the hands of their contemporaries (but that's human nature for you).

    But rest assured, Christ would not let anyone get so far and then say, "Sorry, but I'm at a loss as to where we go from here ..."

    That's said by those who seek to do the Tradition a disservice.

    I had my 'crisis' and, for a while, threw myself into Soto Zen. (I was a martial artist in my day, san dan in Muso Shinden Ryu iaido/jodo). It didn't work.

    Does that mean I think Soto Zen is defective or limited? No. It's just that it did not talk to me the way Christianity does. I think Dogen, had he appeared to me in zazen, would have said, "Oh, hello ... are you sure you're in the right place?"

    But you can't ride two horses at the same time, that's my point. But there's nothing to stop inter-religious dialogue, nor the understanding of another person's faith. Good God, the more of that the better!

    (What I do get very stubborn and combative about is those who would 'water down' Christianity to make it more palatable ... )

    God walks it with you. Do set time aside to listen, and to talk, with Him.

    Anything you'd like me to expand upon, just say.

    Thomas
     

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