Canaan

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Vimalakirti, May 16, 2005.

  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    Re: Canaan - conclusion

    look, i don't generally mind that sort of thing, but the "twinkle in your eye", as it were, didn't come across - plus this is a PoV i have heard espoused with perfect seriousness and no reverence at all on many occasions. it just seemed the wrong side of nasty.

    heh. frankly, i'm generally a lot less rabid once i get to know you. it's just that it was your first post and, as such, i'd had little chance to catch your tone. now i have and it feels a lot less stiff.

    actually, i agree with you - but first, get to know your audience/interlocutors, then you'll be less likely to get off on the wrong foot.

    leaving aside the fact that i do not consider the Torah to have "writers", i agree - but i maintain that this idea is not responsible for the survival and influence of Torah's - although it may explain the physical survival and bloodymindedness of the jewish people.

    indeed, the texts themselves, when you come to study them, are of a degree of complexity and sophistication that it is hard after a while to conceive of them as human - let alone edited together by primitive tribesmen over a thousand years.

    OK, i understand your point is to provoke discussion. but pointing out that it is tendentious is also a way of discussing it!

    good! CR *shouldn't* be all hearts and flowers. if all we are, ultimately, is a bunch of moderate, reasonable people congratulating each other on our openmindedness and avoiding controversy, how are we ever going to reach those who are different from us in our own communities? as my friend, the muslim liberation theologian farid esack is fond of saying: "is there life after tea?" my point is that we need to get to know each other well enough to engage with these difficult issues, not charge straight into the hard stuff.

    not at all! a complicated solution is still a solution. what is bothering me is, as my teacher says, "it's difficult to be passionate about moderation - extremes are far more compelling."

    simple solutions, like slogans, are elegant in their brutality and take advantage of the natural human penchant for heuristics, rationalism and rules of thumb. spirituality is nothing if not the study and practice of the exceptional aspects of humanity.

    i couldn't agree more. welcome to the forum. have you read rodger kamenetz's "the jew in the lotus"? its about the encounter between the dalai lama and a group of rabbis (quite a few of whom i know) in the early 90s. very illuminating.

    oh, absolutely - i am "giddy with agreement", as you put it. in this respect judaism and buddhism in particular have much in common.

    i agree again. however, judaism and, i suspect, the eastern traditions, nonetheless agree that signs are levers for us to move ourselves and the universe.

    umph. i think a rational belief in enlightenment or nirvana is a failure of nerve. attachment to logic and reason is nonetheless an attachment and, in this area, i believe it is a crutch as much as the need to believe that "the Big Beard In The Sky Agrees With Me Kicking This Heathen In The Nuts".

    as do i. so our difference is perhaps one of degree. to equate the Divine Will with *human* inerrancy is perhaps the most profound idolatry.

    but who is to define "wholesome", "unwholesome", "mind", or "choice"? this is perhaps what the most profound paradox of the abrahamic tradition illustrates - submission to the Divine Will as channelled from the Text through human interpretation gives us the most sublime freedom through our own uncompelled choice.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. Vimalakirti

    Vimalakirti Well-Known Member

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  3. Vimalakirti

    Vimalakirti Well-Known Member

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    Re: Canaan - conclusion

     
  4. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Canaan - conclusion

    Dear Vimalakirti,

    I'm sure you are going to find many like-minded souls if you stay around and continue to post here at CR (which I sincerely hope you will).

    I have not read Tolstoy extensively, nor any biographies about him, so it is likely my knowledge about his theology is lacking. The subtitle of the translation I read of TKOGIWY is: Christianity not as a mystic religion but as a new theory of life.

    I havn't read the Jeffersonian Bible, but I have heard of it. Likewise Elizabeth Cady Stanton's feminist revision of the Bible. Yes, Paul causes just as many problems as he solves, doens't he :) . I find Paul's writings fascinating for these reasons. I'm not a Bible scholar but it does seem clear that not every epistle attributed to Paul was actually written by him, which may account for some of the seeming conflict. Taking away Paul eviscerates Christianity, as you say below.

    I have heard it said that you will find the Jesus you are looking for, and it seems to me that this is often true. But once He has hooked you you might find He asks things of you you haven't bargained for :) . Path of one has a recent post in the Jesus and other saviors thread of monotheism ( http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?p=31787#post31787 ) that I think nicely addresses the core similarities, and differences, we see between religions (kudos, path of one). What you describe above, about finding the parallel teachings, letting them work to bring us closer (to each other and to God), but also maintaining and respecting that the different religions and Manifestations of the More are, well, distinct, resonates with me also.

    Well, I'm not sure that Paul intended to set up an ideological tone of conformity and intolerance. As far as I know Paul expected the world to end before the end of his life. But, when the world did not literally end (and I really am not sure what the early Christ followers believed about this), as the Word spread there was need for organization, which you begin to see emerge in the NT epistles. I'd have to re-study them all to see if the proto-church really starts to be described in detail in the letters believed to be authentic to Paul. I admit, I know what you mean about the ideological tone we see emerging in some of the epistles of the NT. This is why I have come to see the NT writings as human products, albeit divinely inspired.

    Well, I see this worrisome use of love as a bludgeon too. (Inflammatory remark edited out). But, I've never attributed this it Paul, or any of the writings in the NT in particular for that matter. Maybe a careful reading with an eye towards this would bring it out, but that would happen with any scripture or writing. Take your story for example. Now that I've heard more of your voice here I bet I would read it differently. That's why we have the emphasis of humility when reading scripture.

    Yup. :)

    peace,
    lunamoth
     
  5. Vimalakirti

    Vimalakirti Well-Known Member

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    Re: Canaan - conclusion

    i couldn't agree more. welcome to the forum. have you read rodger kamenetz's "the jew in the lotus"? its about the encounter between the dalai lama and a group of rabbis (quite a few of whom i know) in the early 90s. very illuminating.

    Thanks. I have noticed that book. I'll check it out.

    umph. i think a rational belief in enlightenment or nirvana is a failure of nerve. attachment to logic and reason is nonetheless an attachment and, in this area, i believe it is a crutch as much as the need to believe that "the Big Beard In The Sky Agrees With Me Kicking This Heathen In The Nuts".

    Of course you're right. I was only saying that as an outsider to the tradition of Divine Will, I don't have anything except my feeble reason to judge by, and so have nothing really useful to say on the subject.

    but who is to define "wholesome", "unwholesome", "mind", or "choice"? this is perhaps what the most profound paradox of the abrahamic tradition illustrates - submission to the Divine Will as channelled from the Text through human interpretation gives us the most sublime freedom through our own uncompelled choice.

    Thanks for your positive words and all your reponses in this post, most of which as you've noticed I wouldn't quibble with. You've encouraged me to better inform myself on the kabbalah. I've always had a vaguely positive view of it but very little knowledge of it in detail.

    This whole exchange reminds me of the recent comment from the new pope about the curse of relativism and modern secular society. And I think he's right - modern corporate/consumer culture is a moral vacuume. The problem for me is that this correct diagnosis is coupled with the creaking machinery of a whole absolutist, dogmatic structure, in short, ideology, which on principle has to see other spiritual traditions as defective. Even with the various efforts at interfaith dialogue, the last pope for example, wrote a book called Threshold of Hope in which he once again asserted - if in milder terms than in the past, granted - the exclusive monopoly on truth divinely held by the Roman Catholic Church.

    Of course, the Catholic Church is only one of the most emblematic examples of religious ideology - their like 900 page catechism regulating every aspect of human life and thought makes for a big target! I think too many religious leaders and institutions are missing the boat when it comes to the common enemy. They need to be making allies among as many traditions as they can manage, rather than struggling to promote their own brand against all others. Unfortunately, too many again are locked into credal traditions - which they don't even recognize as ideology - and are unable to distinguish the difference between pluralism and relativism. Relativism is the self-refuting notion that one truth is as good as another. Pluralism is the recognition that the truth is indeed one - since by definition we all inhabit the same universe - but the expressions or evocation of it owing to the realities of the human mind, emotions and language is bound to be plural. It entails tolerance but doesn't exclude fair judgements of value. Buddhist truth doesn't replace Christian truth; neither is it a defective version of what Christians or Jews or Muslims know better. It overlaps and supplements; it's not superior but brings its own strengths and weaknesses.

    Yikes, I do go on. The upshot: as I think these postings have brought out, we have a choice between two kingdoms, the inner, experiential kingdom (promised land, covenant) represented by the best of all traditions - by kabbalah, for example, if I can judge by some of the views you've expressed here - which is capable of dialogue, leading away from suffering and toward truth; and the outer, political kingdom (creeds, will to power, Canaan), which is incapable of dialogue, leads toward suffering and away from truth. For religions to survive and to defeat the common enemy, the secular void, they need to build and strengthen their inner kingdoms and slowly transform the outer into a support rather than a barrier.

    And let the drums roll! Where do I get off throwing out such grand pronouncements? I am a windbag of the first order. Such are the horrors of online fora for the morally feeble like myself who can resist everything except temptation.


    Thanks again for your sharp & interesting input.

    Take care. Michael.
     
  6. Vimalakirti

    Vimalakirti Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again to everyone for their input. I must say goodby, at least for now. I find I have no self control for these things and I'm in danger of becoming that guy in a bathrobe polemicising if that's a word into the cool of cyberspace and into the wee hours indefinitely and to the point of nervous collapse. My wife would take exception. So cheers & blessings! Michael.
     
  7. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Good point, V! Save yourself before it's too late, and don't forget to light candles for the rest of us stuck here in cyber-purgatory.

    peace,
    lunamoth
     
  8. earl

    earl ?

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    Vimilakirti, I saw your comment re having a foot in each camp-Christian & Buddhist-I take it. That tends to me my stomping grounds too. There are days I think the combo is a good complementarity & days when I think I'm simply at war with myself. But, I've never been able to let go of either pole: theism or non-theism, God or enlightenment, as I see them both expressing some deep, ultimate, complementary truths. Of course, my theism is of the apophatic variety-buddhism for me is a form of personal apophaticism as well. With apophatic theism, I question and release every partial confining notion of "God" & with Buddhism, do the same thing re my "self."

    There is an adage that all mystics of differing religions feel closer to other mystics than they do members of their own religion who are not of a mystical bent; similar to the other old adage re all mystics speak the same language. There is certainly great truth in that as the more one confines oneself to the exoteric & doctrinal aspect of religions, the more differences seem to be there. the more one looks at and "feels" religions from the inside, esoteric, and/or mystical aspect, the more commonality. To me that represents the poles of multiplicty and unity, kataphatic and apophatic theology if you wish to use Christian terminolgy.

    The irony seems to be we have to start somewhere on our religious/spiritual journey as regards beliefs-having them that is-while progress seems to be in part a function of how willing we are to be flexible with them.

    I'm a fan of the modern Jungianwriter, Thomas Moore and particularly enjoyed his book, "The Soul's Religion," in which he says:

    "As important as it is to believe, it is even more important not to believe. Pure belief is too thick. There is no room for movement and no motive for refelction. When belief is rigid, it is infinitely more dangerous than unbelief."

    He speaks fruther of the importance of "spiritual emptiness:" "Spiritual emptiness is not only an open mind but also an open self. We have to get ourselves out of the way-our explanations, our goals, our habits, and our anxieties...If any religious or spiritual act is lacking sacred emptiness, it becomes full of itself and turns into its opposite, a defensive edifice against the cleansing power of mystery. Spiritual teachings are of two kinds: those that are heavy and opaque, consisting of spiritual facts and required teachings, and those that are light and transparent, always pointing beyond themselves and never fully graspable."

    Whether of Buddhist-type inclinations or theistic ones, we are all as St. Francis of Assisi said "looking for what is looking." While our finger and gaze points toward the moon, the moon looks back & we wonder. Take care, Earl
     
  9. Vimalakirti

    Vimalakirti Well-Known Member

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    Okay, you've brought me briefly out of retirement to acknowledge your long & thoughtful post. But this is it! I'll be outta here! I'm reminded of D.T. Suzuki who in his essays on Zen talked about Meister Eckhart and the idea of spiritual poverty as it applied to Zen. So I hear you, brother. Let's all go practice what we preach.
     
  10. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Vimalakirti,
    There is a man who has posted on a number of different boards, and always the same story, told in many different ways. He appears and disapears in brief interlude. He is as his story line, and always the final question left hanging, somewhere between here and there. Were you once known also as
    "pondering?"
     
  11. dattaswami

    dattaswami Interfaith Forums

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    Unity of religions in the Universe
    (Conversation between SWAMI and a Christian Father)

    Recently, I had the fortune to accompany Swami in a train journey from Narasaraopet to Vijayawada. A Christian father was our co-passenger. The conversation between Swami and the Christian father took place as given below.

    Father: Those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ are destined to be consigned to the flames of liquid fire in Hell. This is the declaration of our faith.


    SWAMI: Does that mean that there is no salvation to all the devotees on this earth prior to the incarnation of Jesus Christ? If so, all those devotees were subjects of prejudice of God, as they were deprived of that revelation, their successors had?


    Father: God is impartial in that subject. He gave Jehovah to mankind for their salvation before the incarnation of Jesus.

    SWAMI: Fine! If that be so, devotees of this land have no knowledge of either Jehovah or Jesus Christ prior to the arrival of Vasco da Gama. Vasco da Gama discovered India and only later on, the Christian literature that speaks of Jehovah or Jesus came to India. All those innocents, who lived before the arrival of Vasco da Gama deprived of the revelations of either Jehovah or Jesus Christ, were consigned to the flames of the ‘liquid fire’ for no fault of theirs. They were not to regenerate by taking human births again and reclaim the salvation since the doctrine of the faith you follow has no place for the rebirth of the soul.

    Does this mean that God intended to provide the revelation only to a handful in a small country and deny the opportunity to all those living in rest of the world? Why did God reveal Himself at a particular point of time, in a particular land, to a particular section alone? Does that not inflict the God with prejudice?

    FATHER: No faith is free from such blame. Does not the faith you belong to, charge the non-believers of your faith to the same danger of hell? All mortals in other land, not aware of the virtues of the faith you follow, are subjects of the same punishment in hell! Does this also not inflict God with Prejudice?

    SWAMI: There are enthusiasts who are fans in every faith. Christian enthusiasts maintain that non-believers in Jehovah or Jesus Christ shall be subjects for the flames of the liquid fire. Hindu enthusiasts maintain that non-believers of Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva shall be subjects for affliction in hell. They further introduce and adopt sectarian salvation, which limits itself to certain sections only. Followers of different sects castigate each other by such warnings.

    All these partisans fail to appreciate the unity in thought of all the world religions. All these ‘approaches’ to God, afflict Him with Prejudice. The only way to keep God unblemished is to perceive His generosity correctly.

    The same single God revealed Himself distinctly in different places, in different times, to different people in different forms. He granted the same enlightenment to all in different tongues. All those faithful attain salvation upon receiving the enlightenment. Those who fail to receive are subjected to the liquid fire in hell. This approach towards God makes him unblemished. The God of all religions is one and the same. He may appear to be different due to differences in His approach to different people, in different times, in different forms and in different tongues. He nurtures all with same compassion.

    The sea receives all the rivers in the same way, whether they are straight or curved. The devotion is important and not the religion or path. If the straight river becomes proud and mocks at the curved river, God will see that the straight river will never reach Him. By His will, people will build a dam on that river to divert all the water!

    Every one needs to follow the path assigned in his faith to attain salvation. Every religion has different levels of spiritual enlightenment. One should move up to the higher level for comprehension of the total enlightenment. Such enlightenment alone is the means of salvation.

    These levels of enlightenment in each religion are similar to the levels of education. Different religions are similar to different language mediums. The content of the curriculum is same in all the language mediums. A pupil of a certain language should strive to reach higher levels of knowledge in the same medium of his choice. He is a pilgrim in pursuit of divinity. His medium is his opportunity. It is neither superior nor inferior to any other medium. He need not move on to another language medium to uplift himself. All the language mediums are different religions at different levels of knowledge. A school student studying science in a particular medium (language) need not change his medium, because even if he changes, the syllabus will not be changed. He should strive to change his syllabus by raising his standard of knowledge and reach to college level in the same medium. The school and college levels exist in every medium. A school student does not become a college student just by changing the medium of his class. He becomes a college student only, when the level of his knowledge rises up. Similarly, a devotee of any religion should try to reach the higher spiritual level in his own religion. His spiritual level is not raised by changing his religion. Every religion has the lower and higher levels of spiritualism meant for devotees of corresponding stages. Religion is the medium and spiritualism is the curriculum or syllabus with different levels (school level, college level etc.,) present in the same religion.

    One shall strive to reach the higher levels of knowledge that are carved out in his own faith. No one needs to move on to another faith for higher level of knowledge for the will of final salvation. All faiths lead to the same destination. In any path, you will have to proceed vertically to reach the goal. At any point of your path, if you travel horizontally, you will reach the same point of level in another path, which is a waste. The realization of this truth alone ensures harmony among different faiths of the world. Failure to perceive the truth will not make anyone enlightened.

    When Swami concluded like this, the Christian Father stood and touched his heart in the model of a cross and said, "We believe that Jesus will be born again. Yes. Jesus is again born now. Nobody else can explain like this. I am fully convinced''.

    When we came to our house, Swami told me, "See, the Christian father did not rigidly limit his mind with conservatism. Every religion contains good and broad-minded devotees. My effort of propagation of knowledge is for such devotees who are present in every religion in this world''.




    ANIL ANTONY
     
  12. sangam

    sangam Member

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    go home and read wilfredo pareto. i wish i had time to expound his views but unfortunately i am eternaly short of time. happy reading
     

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