Redefining Religious terms

Vajradhara

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Namaste all,

in the Karma thread on this section of the forum, we see that there are many different views on what Karma is and how it works and why it works and so forth.

Karma is a very specific teaching in both Sanatan Dharma and Buddha Dharma, though slightly different in their full ramifications.

so... my question is....

how is it that folks find it acceptable to redefine religious terms to suit their understanding?

are there not words that are meant to convey specific means in every religious tradition? are we free to simply reinterpet these terms to suit our needs or are we obligated to try to understand and implement the teachings as they are presented?

if we are free to redefine terms, is there any value in a system of tradition where spiritual teachings are passed on from one to another in a systemic fashion?
 
Dear Vajradhara

"Karma is a very specific teaching in both Sanatan Dharma and Buddha Dharma, though slightly different in their full ramifications:

Also in Hinduism how many other religions?

"so... my question is....how is it that folks find it acceptable to redefine religious terms to suit their understanding?"

My view is that the universe is a constantly evolving creation, as our perceptions and realities change so does our understanding of this universe.

"are there not words that are meant to convey specific means in every religious tradition? are we free to simply reinterpet these terms to suit our needs or are we obligated to try to understand and implement the teachings as they are presented?"

That is each individuals free will, doesn't the original interpretation depend on the terms of the relationship with the religious tradition and its originators?

"if we are free to redefine terms, is there any value in a system of tradition where spiritual teachings are passed on from one to another in a systemic fashion?"

Isn't human life constantly being redefined as we raise our consciousness further and further? Shamans used drugs to achieve higher states of consciousness but yet we do not need to do that any more.

So I guess it is about following the heart and soul in holy communion and being true to self. For instance we talked about the symbology and the importance of the sword of truth mentioned in the bible. I feel one of the problems has been that many translators have added their own slant based upon their own understanding at the time.

I can see the importance and value on what you are saying and the importance of keeping a tradition pure, but in so doing are we not keeping ourselves in the past? And in so doing not allowing new insights and understandings to enrich our lives?

I then asked myself how would I feel if the terms used in the oral traditional of Reiki were redefined? The new consciousness of spiritual people are doing this all the time, as they become more aware of the nature of reality and direct communion with their higher selves and the spiritual realms. Individual's are taking their power back from rules and regulations and I view this daily, the more that people wake up to their own divinity the more it is creating sweeping changes.

So is the question not for you for yourself? How does it feel to share other's understanding and appreciation?

Does religious tradition allow us to embrace everyone in oneness, total acceptance and unconditional love? If it does I cannot see that there is a problem.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
 
Namaste Sacredstar,

thank you for the post.

Sacredstar said:
Also in Hinduism how many other religions?
i'm sorry, i don't understand the question. Sanatan Dharma is what Western folks call Hinduism and Buddha Dharma is what you'd call Buddhism. i'm aware of this same teaching, in some form or another, in other religious traditions, however, they do not denote it in the same fashion.

"so... my question is....how is it that folks find it acceptable to redefine religious terms to suit their understanding?"

My view is that the universe is a constantly evolving creation, as our perceptions and realities change so does our understanding of this universe.
i'm not clear in which way you are responding to the query. are you saying that because human perception seems to be changing, that we are free to change the definition of terms as we see fit, according to our understanding?

That is each individuals free will, doesn't the original interpretation depend on the terms of the relationship with the religious tradition and its originators?
free will to interpet terms as they like? is that a skillful means to make spiritual progress?

the original meaing, i would submit, is a bit different than an interepetation of said meaning, wouldn't you agree? one may or may not have the full sense of what is being taught, thus, a reinterpetation may result in more, rather than less, confusion.

Isn't human life constantly being redefined as we raise our consciousness further and further?
not as far as i know.

Shamans used drugs to achieve higher states of consciousness but yet we do not need to do that any more.
we never "needed" to do that. these states of consciousness were always present. ethenogens are useful substances in that they can induce the altered state of consciousness, even if a being isn't spiritual prepared for such an undertaking. hence, the long tradition of Shamans initiating the next Shaman into the mystery.

So I guess it is about following the heart and soul in holy communion and being true to self.
which is why i'm asking about the redefineing of the term "karma." from the Buddhist view, at least, there is no soul and no self and the heart is just a pump to move blood through your body. we understand these terms to be metaphors for something else, usually, experiences within the subtle energy body, the chakra system and all of that sort of thing.

so.. your view of Karma is more consistent with the Sanatan Dharma (Hindu) view, where they do have things like a self or soul and all of that sort of thing.

do you also believe that there is no opportunity to mitigate the reaping of your karmic deeds?

I can see the importance and value on what you are saying and the importance of keeping a tradition pure, but in so doing are we not keeping ourselves in the past? And in so doing not allowing new insights and understandings to enrich our lives?
nope, not from where i sit. naturally, my answers are predicated on my own understandings.. nevertheless, understanding the meaning of specific religious terms and phrases is predicated on ones understanding of the culture and millieu in which these things were taught. we are not likely to come to a correct cognition of these things based on our own imagineings.

I then asked myself how would I feel if the terms used in the oral traditional of Reiki were redefined? The new consciousness of spiritual people are doing this all the time, as they become more aware of the nature of reality and direct communion with their higher selves and the spiritual realms. Individual's are taking their power back from rules and regulations and I view this daily, the more that people wake up to their own divinity the more it is creating sweeping changes.
how on earth can you have a discussion if everyone is using their own defintions of the words? you'll plainly mean different things even using the exact same term, don't you find this more confusing than anything else?

So is the question not for you for yourself? How does it feel to share other's understanding and appreciation?
well... you'll understand that i don't share someone elses' understanding or appreicate as these are aspects of individual experience which are beyond the ability of humans to propogate via language, in my view. if you are asking how i feel when someone shares' their understanding of the Dharma, then that's a rather different thing. i feel quite pleased. of course, both of the people engaged in the disucssion about Dharma realize that it's a relative discussion and that are terms are not really what we're talking about.

Does religious tradition allow us to embrace everyone in oneness, total acceptance and unconditional love?
i'm not sure what you are asking. can you clarify or ask it in another way?
 
Dear Vajradhara

"Sanatan Dharma is what Western folks call Hinduism"

Thank you for that clarification I am 95% un-aware of the different aspects of Hinduism.

I will do my best to respond to the rest of your questions after I have eaten.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
 
Namaste Vajradhara

thank you for the post.

Quote:
"so... my question is....how is it that folks find it acceptable to redefine religious terms to suit their understanding?"

My view is that the universe is a constantly evolving creation, as our perceptions and realities change so does our understanding of this universe.

Quote:
im not clear in which way you are responding to the query. are you saying that because human perception seems to be changing, that we are free to change the definition of terms as we see fit, according to our understanding?

Yes in tune with human consciousness today, but if the way I refer to karma is offensive to Buddhists and Hindu's, then I would be happy to cease using it, because the term itself isn't important to me. Although we do use the term in past life healing work due to the fact that we are healing actions from past lives, that also shape shifted transgenerationally.

The most important thing to me is people not terms, and the term cause and effect is sufficient for the work that I do, especially now that we have science to back it up.


Quote:
That is each individuals free will, doesn't the original interpretation depend on the terms of the relationship with the religious tradition and its originators? Free will to interpet terms as they like? is that a skillful means to make spiritual progress?

Well some people make spiritual progress through religious tradition, but more and more people are now making spiritual progress in direct communion with the source. So each to their own, and from my perspective ALL are to be honored for their uniqueness, sacred divinity and individual choices.

Quote:
"the original meaning, i would submit, is a bit different than an interepetation of said meaning, wouldn't you agree? one may or may not have the full sense of what is being taught, thus, a reinterpetation may result in more, rather than less, confusion."

I would say that it all depends on intent and origination.

Quote:
we never "needed" to do that. these states of consciousness were always present. ethenogens are useful substances in that they can induce the altered state of consciousness, even if a being isn't spiritual prepared for such an undertaking. hence, the long tradition of Shamans initiating the next Shaman into the mystery.

Do you feel that consciousness has changed or is changing?

Quote:
which is why i'm asking about the redefineing of the term "karma." from the Buddhist view, at least, there is no soul and no self and the heart is just a pump to move blood through your body. we understand these terms to be metaphors for something else, usually, experiences within the subtle energy body, the chakra system and all of that sort of thing.

OK so it is just a difference in terms because in our reality, the soul is the subtle energy system and this includes the aura, chakra's, merridians-nadi's.
As far as the heart is concerned, Dr Paul Pearsall wrote an amazing book about heart transplants called 'Hearts Code' the research carried out proved that by transplanting the heart the receivers gained memories they did not have before. e.g. a little girl was able to describe the murder and the murderer of the heart that she received. A Hells Angel stopped eating junk food and starting listening to classical musical. The donor listened to classical music. This research is now extended to all organs. It was only today that I was reviewing the lastest research on www.heartmath.org where the scientific papers talk about the heart communicating intelligently with the brain, so we now know that the heart is much more then a pump which confirms what ancient Egyptians believed. It also begs the question about the mention of blood in the bible and blood transfusions. Due to the fact that every cell carries memory and as a mind of its own.

Quote:
"do you also believe that there is no opportunity to mitigate the reaping of your karmic deeds?"

No I accept that we have a choice and can change 85% of everything.

Quote:
I then asked myself how would I feel if the terms used in the oral traditional of Reiki were redefined? The new consciousness of spiritual people are doing this all the time, as they become more aware of the nature of reality and direct communion with their higher selves and the spiritual realms. Individual's are taking their power back from rules and regulations and I view this daily, the more that people wake up to their own divinity the more it is creating sweeping changes.

Quote:
"how on earth can you have a discussion if everyone is using their own defintions of the words? you'll plainly mean different things even using the exact same term, don't you find this more confusing than anything else?"

It adds to the art of communication, understanding and appreciation of where the other person is coming from.

Quote:
Does religious tradition allow us to embrace everyone in oneness, total acceptance and unconditional love? i'm not sure what you are asking. can you clarify or ask it in another way?

What is more important embracing people or religious tradition?

I love you and thank you for your patience and willingness to understand.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
 
Namaste, Vajradhara...

I think that the redefining of terms - religious or not - is inherent in our humanity. Even concrete terms will vary between individuals. If I hand you what is usually referred to in my house as an "orange" you may not recognize it as an orange, but as a clementine - others will call it a tangerine. If we have this variance in concrete objects in what we call them, how much more will we have a divergence in non-concrete ideas and concepts?

Karma is one of those terms that is used as a convenient shorthand by many folks - the concept of actions having consequences is common enough that it becomes a natural tendency to appropriate the term of karma (from either base tradition) into the framework of ones own belief - adding and deleting various "baggage" with it.

My thought is that we all have our own version of a belief system - no matter how close it is to a standard doctrine, we have our own spin on it - that's part of what makes us human. (Not to mention the interesting philosophical discussion on whether you and I see the color "blue" as the same shade - which may explain some of the interesting color combinations I see around me as I sit in the airport typing this....) Because the word is a shorthand for the entire concept and framework in which that concept resides, there's no one absolute meaning, which leads to the drift you talked about in the start of this thread...

... Bruce
 
I'm always a bit uncomfortable using terms I'm not totally familiar with, it seems like playing with a hand grenade. But I agree that a lot of religious terms (such as karma) have become "mainstreamed", but I don't think it takes away the terms significance. It just adds to it. As brucegdc pointed out, different terms mean differnt things to different people :)
 
I'm always a bit uncomfortable using terms I'm not totally familiar with, it seems like playing with a hand grenade. I agree that a lot of religious terms (such as karma) have become "mainstreamed", but I don't think it takes away the terms' significance. If anything it adds to it. Granted, some people like to throw around a lot of jargon without having the slightest idea what it means, but that's no reason to banish the use of a word altogether. As brucegdc pointed out, every word means something different to every one of us :) That doesn't mean that blue isn't still blue, or a house isn't still a house. We are dynamic, and our views change with time, as we each change the way we express ourselves, so will society as a whole.
 
Namaste SacredStar,

thank you for the post.

by the by... if you want to quote someone, like i'm doing with you, type
(put in a name said:
sort like this
vajradhara i've left off the last said:
or you wouldn't see the command :)



Sacredstar said:
Yes in tune with human consciousness today, but if the way I refer to karma is offensive to Buddhists and Hindu's, then I would be happy to cease using it, because the term itself isn't important to me. Although we do use the term in past life healing work due to the fact that we are healing actions from past lives, that also shape shifted transgenerationally.
my point is that this term means different things, depending on the tradition from which it is being taken. you are taking, from what i can see, the Sanatan Dharma version, which is very different than the Buddhist teaching.

The most important thing to me is people not terms, and the term cause and effect is sufficient for the work that I do, especially now that we have science to back it up.
then, wouldn't it be more compassionate to teach them the real meaning of the term, if it's going to be used? i'm not really an "ignorance equals bliss" person, seeing as how i'm a Buddhist and whatnot :)

Sacredstar said:
Well some people make spiritual progress through religious tradition, but more and more people are now making spiritual progress in direct communion with the source.
what makes you think that this is any more or less than it has been throughout history? would you deem that the shamanistic religions have contact with this "source"?

So each to their own, and from my perspective ALL are to be honored for their uniqueness, sacred divinity and individual choices.
indeed. which is really not germane to the discussion, in my view.

Vajradhara said:
Quote:
"the original meaning, i would submit, is a bit different than an interepetation of said meaning, wouldn't you agree? one may or may not have the full sense of what is being taught, thus, a reinterpetation may result in more, rather than less, confusion."
SacredStar said:
I would say that it all depends on intent and origination.
and how would you go about discerning that?


Do you feel that consciousness has changed or is changing?
depends on what you mean by the term consciousness :)

i'll take it at face value... consciousness arises in a succession of moments, each conditioned by the one prior to it. it is both changing and unchanging and it is neither changing or unchanging.

OK so it is just a difference in terms because in our reality,
are you suggesting that there is more than one reality?

the soul is the subtle energy system and this includes the aura, chakra's, merridians-nadi's.
well.. heck. why not just call them cheeseburgers then? why try to use the same terms redefined in the way that you please? why not just use new terms?

As far as the heart is concerned, Dr Paul Pearsall wrote an amazing book about heart transplants called 'Hearts Code' the research carried out proved
an aside... proof is a property of a formal system. the human body is not a formal system, ergo we don't have 'Proof', we have "evidence". rather different things. in any case... i'm happy to research this and i'll see what i can find on Pubmed.

Due to the fact that every cell carries memory and as a mind of its own.
how have you determined that a skin cell has a mind? is this mind capable of thinking? does it have any qualities which we could identify as it's mind?

It adds to the art of communication, understanding and appreciation of where the other person is coming from.
are you saying that people using the same words with different meanings adds to communication rather than hinders it? goodness. i hope you don't get a job at the IEEE :)

What is more important embracing people or religious tradition?
do you mean "hug" when you say "embrace"? well... hugging people is much more enjoyable, for me at least, than hugging religious scripture.

I love you and thank you for your patience and willingness to understand.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
and i you :)
 
Dear Vajradhara

Originally posted by (Vajradhara
my point is that this term means different things, depending on the tradition from which it is being taken. you are taking, from what i can see, the Sanatan Dharma version, which is very different than the Buddhist teaching.
(quote=Vajradhara)

OK

Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
then, wouldn't it be more compassionate to teach them the real meaning of the term, if it's going to be used?

Please explain how you view cause and effect?

Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)i'm not really an "ignorance equals bliss" person, seeing as how i'm a Buddhist and whatnot.


Ah....innocence is so much softer

Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
what makes you think that this is any more or less than it has been throughout history? would you deem that the shamanistic religions have contact with this "source"?

I am not a shaman so I cannot speak for them and their sources.

Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
and how would you go about discerning that?

For myself through the experience of seeing and hearing.


Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
i'll take it at face value... consciousness arises in a succession of moments, each conditioned by the one prior to it. it is both changing and unchanging and it is neither changing or unchanging.


Well differ here....


Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
are you suggesting that there is more than one reality?


Yes


Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
the soul is the subtle energy system and this includes the aura, chakra's, merridians-nadi's. well.. heck. why not just call them cheeseburgers then? why try to use the same terms redefined in the way that you please? why not just use new terms?

Because this is now generally accepted in complementry medicine and energy healing therapies.

Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
"evidence".


I accept


Originally posted by (quote=Vajradhara)
how have you determined that a skin cell has a mind? is this mind capable of thinking? does it have any qualities which we could identify as it's mind?


For the full monty you would need to view Bruce Liptons Phd work (2 hour video) for the latest in scientific breakthroughs in new biology. www.brucelipton.com His research was running at the same time as the Human Genome Project - for the metaphysics I can PM you.

Hugs

"You are sacred and a treasure to behold, count your blessings as if you are counting gold. The world is your oyster and you are the pearl of wisdom sitting inside a shell of love" Quan Yin

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar

PS still can't get the hang of these quotes.......sorry!
 
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I always have to ask someone to define their terms for me. Sometimes what we are discussing needs refinement before it can move forward. Using a Jewish example, if someone asked me what I believed about henotheism, I would ask them to define it. Using a Christian example, if someone asked a Christological question, I would ask them to define it. Using the latter example, if it means "belief in Jesus as the literal Son of God", I would say that's not what my Christology is.

In short, asking to define terms doesn't bog down conversation; if anything, it begins dialogue, and helps me structure where you are coming from. It is basic human processing to redefine terms for yourself, so while it is frustrating some words get loaded and you don't know what they mean, it is still necessary to define them so I can answer the question where they are.
 
Namaste Bruce,

thank you for the post.

i hope you are doing well.

brucegdc said:
I think that the redefining of terms - religious or not - is inherent in our humanity. Even concrete terms will vary between individuals. If I hand you what is usually referred to in my house as an "orange" you may not recognize it as an orange, but as a clementine - others will call it a tangerine. If we have this variance in concrete objects in what we call them, how much more will we have a divergence in non-concrete ideas and concepts?
i agree that this is true, however, i'm not sure that it's a positive thing... at least in terms of communication and exchange of ideas.

it's all well and good for you and i to have different understandings of the same thing.. heck, i wouldn't expect it otherwise... however, when a term has been defined in a specific fashion, such that it's nearly a "universal" term, there is an inherent meaning in the term, content, if you will, that is being communicated.

as you know... it is my view that words are simply linguistic symbols that we use to try to express our expereinces to others. if we are using the same words with different meanings, i fear that we'll never have any type of real exchange of ideas.... and i'm really interested in that very thing.

Karma is one of those terms that is used as a convenient shorthand by many folks - the concept of actions having consequences is common enough that it becomes a natural tendency to appropriate the term of karma (from either base tradition) into the framework of ones own belief - adding and deleting various "baggage" with it.
herein is where i've a bit of an issue. as i noted above, i would certainly expect that people would have different experiences with this concept and, as such, perhaps even have different explanations. at the same time, this doctrine has been promulgated for nearly 6,000 years with only one derivation. in an of itself, that, in my view, lends a certain legitimacy in learning what the term is actually trying to communicate.

for instance, read my thread on the buddhist view of Karma and you'll see that it's a bit more extensive than the lay person may initially suspect.

My thought is that we all have our own version of a belief system - no matter how close it is to a standard doctrine, we have our own spin on it - that's part of what makes us human.
[/qutoe]

i agree. i hope that my point on this isn't being viewed as a dogmatic, orthodox adherent to a specific meaning of a term. my issue is with communication and the exchange of ideas and ways to make that easier amongst humans.

(Not to mention the interesting philosophical discussion on whether you and I see the color "blue" as the same shade - which may explain some of the interesting color combinations I see around me as I sit in the airport typing this....)
indeed. being as i'm color blind and all :D

Because the word is a shorthand for the entire concept and framework in which that concept resides, there's no one absolute meaning, which leads to the drift you talked about in the start of this thread...

... Bruce
and whilst we can intellectually assent to the language drift, i think that there is little to be done about this actually. it's rather like computers in a sense. there is a standard term that is used to describe the storage device that resides inside the machine where the operating system is stored. this is the hard drive. this term applies to no other part of the machine, however, you may find some people that refer to the 3.5" floppy as a "hard drive" since it doesn't bend.

terms are standardized to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas. the words, in and of themselves, are fairly unimportant with the narrow exception of conveying ideas.

of course.. this is just my view :)
 
Dear Vajradhara

Interesting that you chose a computer, hard drive and floppy disk for your analogy.

Well this is my analogy:

Buddha planted a profound seed of wisdom and that seed grew into a compassionate tree. There were many branches and many leaves upon the branches and in time the tree bore fruit. The tree provided shade and protection from the storms, just being near the tree you can feel its love.

Then birds came and ate from the pure fruit, the birds fed on the wisdom and this saved them from death. The birds valued the precious gift of life, so they began to share the story with other birds, so they too may be helped.

Whilst paying homage to the bestower of the seed, the bird discovered that the legacy of truth could be expressed in very simple terms. In this way the wisdom learnt could reach the hearts of flocks of birds, who came to look within. Now many more birds have risen like the phoenix from the ashes and they are helping to transform world.

But never did the bird forget the one that saved it's life.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
 
I'm going to try to explain my thoughts on this topic in secular terms since, despite having a background in a few languages other than English, I can't really find the right words to explain myself except by going through the secular world.

This reminds me of an example of a difference between English and one of the Inuit languages: describing snow. English has "flurries", "snow", "snow showers" and "blizzard", whereas the Inuit have at least 50 different words describing snow and, contained within each word, is a complete description of the consistency, the direction, the force of, when it fell, its position (falling, fell, might fall), and other pieces of information that, at one time in the particular Inuit population's existance, meant the difference between life and death to the people.

The same thing can be said about religious terminology. Outside the particular community, the group could be speaking gobbledygook, but within the community, the jargon speaks volumes.

Am I making sense?

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
Namaste Phyllis,

thank you for the post.

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine said:
This reminds me of an example of a difference between English and one of the Inuit languages: describing snow. English has "flurries", "snow", "snow showers" and "blizzard", whereas the Inuit have at least 50 different words describing snow and, contained within each word, is a complete description of the consistency, the direction, the force of, when it fell, its position (falling, fell, might fall), and other pieces of information that, at one time in the particular Inuit population's existance, meant the difference between life and death to the people.

The same thing can be said about religious terminology. Outside the particular community, the group could be speaking gobbledygook, but within the community, the jargon speaks volumes.

Am I making sense?

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
yes, i think you are making a lot of sense :) it's like the difference between the lay persons use of the word "theory" and the scientists use of the word "theory", they mean vastly different things!!
 
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