The Shared Myth

Thomas said:
Hi Vajradhara -

I posted my reply last night after a long and trying day at work, and in retrospect I find it somewhat curt. If I have offended, I am sorry, and I by no means meant to make little of the effort you made in compiling your post, my response does seem somewhat dismissive.

There are many interesting points, all worthy of their own discussion. Part of my response is my experience in that if I responded to all, then soon the discussion becomes so diverse as to lose its way. If we choose to discuss any particular point, then let us do so as a separate thread, then we can maintain focus on the topic at hand. Again, I read your post not necessarily requiring an answer, but simply as an offering.

* * * * *

If I consider my reaction, there is this:

Cultures across the world have their sacred traditions, from the Native American to the west (of the UK) to Shinto in the East.

Of all these traditions, we of the 'first world' are the only people who actually dismiss their own traditions as somehow bankrupt, meaningless, void, whatever, often without any serious or meaningful investigation. And we do so both from outside, and from within. In so doing this includes not only Christianity, but Judaism and Islam, which then includes all Sufi wisdom.

It is something in the nature of western man that tends towards exteriorisation - hence a history of constant change, movement, novelty, etc. Its dynamism is to be applauded, but the way in which it deserts that which stood it in good stead is a negative and damaging characteristic.

Meanwhile the west picks up eastern traditions and 'skims' them. Your post on yoga is aposite - it was an is a spiritual practice that is only meaningful as part of a total practice - it is a religious observance - we have reduced it to a keep fit regime, and the only time 'spirit' is mention is when we discuss Kundalini or Tantric yoga, which we do because we've heard it means good sex.

In a certain sense the Christian Revelation and the Incarnation 'heads off' this tendency in man - it was a Providential appearance of a Dispensation that forstalled a psychic and spiritual crisis brewing in the Occident - a tendency towards an externalising rationalism on the one hand (from the sacred doctrines of Pythagoras to the secularism of Aristotle) and naturalism on the other.

In the latter case it was successful - manifesting a supernaturalism in the face of cosmolatry, and metaphysic in the face of a Greco-Roman rationalism, but in this man lost his way, rationalism attained an ascendancy and has since manoeuvred itself into a position of authority on everything. Science has become the 'blind faith' of the modern age.

Aside: As research goes on, there is more evidence accruing against the theory of evolution than for it - suvival of the fittest, yes; but that one species can alter its own genetics and mutate into an entirely different species is becoming increasingly impossible to support - yet try stating such to a general audience and you'll be shouted down - not becuae of the evidence, but because science is always right.

* * * * *

Where I most profoundly disagree with Campbell is his failure to perceive the metaphysical content of Scripture - because he can't see it does not mean it is not there, whilst the sages of other traditions see through its manifest forms to its essential metaphysical reality.

'Beresith', for example, the first word of the Bible, means 'in principle' or 'in the principle' rather than 'in the beginning', but Scripture was written for all humanity, not an elite few, and thus its language addresses man as a whole, not purely the intellect.

The Six Days of Creation correspond to the deployment of metaphysical principle, and concords with the Vedas, I am told, to quite a significant degree. The fact that an auther can 'see' the metaphysics of one and not the other causes me to suggest some deficiency or misunderstanding of his insights. Guenon's 'Man and the Multiple States of Being according to the Vedanta' is an exposition of this Asiatic metaphysic, and draws many similarities in doctrine between that and Scripture

The perspective is different, agreed, but to say that one is wanting in light of the other is a mistake.

There - that's my (hopefully) more measured response.

Pax
Thomas

Namaste Thomas,

no, i was not offended. i find it difficult to become offended by what someone posts to me or in response to something i've posted. mainly becuase my understanding is subject to change and it would be quite foolish of me to insist on a particular point of view...

i appreciate that you've taken the time to explain yourself more fully :)

i'm making an assumption that you are a Christian and as such, Campbells mythologizing of the Christian scripture cannot be very well received. this is something that i completely understand. he takes this same approach with the eastern traditions as well...

my personal feeling is that Campbell has a great many things correct and he explains why he believes so in a very convincing fashion. i do not agree with everything that he has written, nor would i expect anyone to do so, however that does not invalidate his other writings.

moreover, you are correct.. it was not so much a posting of questions rather it was posted to provide a frame of reference between discussing east and west traditions. if we can agree to a common frame of reference, even if we may not agree with it in totality, we can engage in a meaningful discussion.

however, without a common frame of reference, the conversation necessarily turns to a pendantic definition game wherein most of the terms being disucssed are understood differently by the participants and require lengthy, time consuming posts to explain what the word or term means.

i had hoped that this was broad enough that we could use it for our frame of reference and proceed with dialog from there.
 
Hi Vajradhara -

Vajradhara said:
in the Indian version it is the god himself that divides and becomes not man alone but all creation; so that everything is a manifestation of that single inhabiting divine substance: there is no other; whereas in the Bible, God and man, from the beginning, are distinct.

In my view this is dictated by perspective, which in the West is subjectivity, as opposed to objectivity in the East.

From the Indian perspective (if I may) God and the cosmos are one, the cosmos has no intrinsic reality - all is illusion - it is a projection or an emanation of the Divine.

In the West, the view accepts 'existence' - accepts a reality that is necessarily 'other than' God, yet owes its existence to none other than God - hence creatio ex nihilo - God brought forth the world from nothing, rather than God fashioned the world from some pre-existing and indeterminate substance.

Vajradhara said:
Man is made in the image of God, indeed, and the breath of God has been breathed into his nostrils; yet his being, his self, is not that of God, nor is it one with the universe.

This is a disputable statement - Scripture says "In him we live and move and have our being" - 'him' being the Son, who is One with the Father. Christ himself is even more forthright in the Gospel of John, in the parable of the vine.

Thus man is separate and distinct as an individual being - a nexus of subjectivity - but his ontological source lies in God. 'There is something uncreated in the soul' as Eckhart says.

Vajradhara said:
The fashioning of the world, of animals, and of Adam (who then became Adam and Eve) was accomplished not within the sphere of divinity but outside of it.

Yes, but man is seen as the only being in all creation who comprises every element of it - mineral, vegetable, animal, human, angelic, spiritual and divine - he is the crossroads in which all creation meets - not so much as one with the universe, but the universe finds one-ness with its Creator in him:

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now" Romans 8:22

Man is the bridge - between creation and creator, he is the place in which the finite and the Infinite meet - thus the catholic title 'Pontifex' which signifies the bridge between the two realms.

pax
Thomas
 
Thomas said:
In my view this is dictated by perspective, which in the West is subjectivity, as opposed to objectivity in the East.

From the Indian perspective (if I may) God and the cosmos are one, the cosmos has no intrinsic reality - all is illusion - it is a projection or an emanation of the Divine.

In the West, the view accepts 'existence' - accepts a reality that is necessarily 'other than' God, yet owes its existence to none other than God - hence creatio ex nihilo - God brought forth the world from nothing, rather than God fashioned the world from some pre-existing and indeterminate substance.

Namaste Thomas,

thank you for the post.

i'll agree that it is, indeed, a matter of perspective (as many things are) however, i don't know that i'd codify them so discretely... in any event, i shall stipulate to those classifications for the purpose of our conversation.

well... i wouldn't go so far as to say that it is all an illusion.. rather (staying with in the Indian paradigm) it's all a dream of Brahma. rather than being a projection or emmanation, creation/reality IS the divine. there is no seperation between them.. no subject/object dichotomy.. until our ego gets involved in the issue that is.

i would agree with your characterization of the western view.. though i understand that there are some sects that may not agree with the view that you've expressed... i think that it's generally the position that is held by Christians.


This is a disputable statement - Scripture says "In him we live and move and have our being" - 'him' being the Son, who is One with the Father. Christ himself is even more forthright in the Gospel of John, in the parable of the vine.

hmm... i would take this as the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus.. though they are both part of the Triune Godhead.. so perhaps, that's more of a sematic issue than anything else...


Thus man is separate and distinct as an individual being - a nexus of subjectivity - but his ontological source lies in God. 'There is something uncreated in the soul' as Eckhart says.

most of the world traditions do posit the existence of a soul or "spirit" that is eternal in some sense. i think that there is, probably, a great deal of difference between cultures and the way that they understand the word "soul" and "spirit". from my world view, for instance, the concept of soul is something very specific which we refute as being real.

however, the Indian view, as expressed in the Vedas and so forth, do also posit a soul or Atman, as it is termed. the Buddhist doctrine is called Anatman, by way of example.


Yes, but man is seen as the only being in all creation who comprises every element of it - mineral, vegetable, animal, human, angelic, spiritual and divine - he is the crossroads in which all creation meets - not so much as one with the universe, but the universe finds one-ness with its Creator in him:

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now" Romans 8:22

Man is the bridge - between creation and creator, he is the place in which the finite and the Infinite meet - thus the catholic title 'Pontifex' which signifies the bridge between the two realms.

pax
Thomas

i would agree that is the view of the Christian tradition.. i would, however, beg to differ. in any event, man is seperate from "creation" as much as an animal is seperate from the creation of a robot. there is simply no connection between them.

in a very real sense... the idea of a historically fallen race of humans means that an historical event must take place to change that dynamic.. it's not a process between one person and God that can be done alone (though i understand the doctrines of the NT sort of change this..) rather, it's a specific historical event that must take place to bring about the reconcilliation between the Creator and the created.

personally, i find it kind of odd really.. and i even felt it was rather odd whilst i was a Christian... perhaps, that is one of the reasons that i left the faith... to many logical disconnects for me to feel intellectually honest about upholding. eh.. but my issues are probably mine alone :)
 
hmmm

in the Indian version it is the god himself that divides and becomes not man alone but all creation; so that everything is a manifestation of that single inhabiting divine substance: there is no other; whereas in the Bible, God and man, from the beginning, are distinct.
actually, vajradhara, there's a lot more to it than what is apparently in the plain text. this episode is known as the "ma'aseh beresheet" (work of Creation) and is undoubtedly the most complicated and mysterious part of the Torah. reams and reams have been written on this episode in the mystical tradition, not least of which is the idea of TzIMTzUM, the idea that the Infinite Divine EIN-SOF (rather like the idea of Eternal Brahma) had to 'contract' make an internal space available in which the created universe could exist. in this way, we understand that All Is Divine and that All exists within the Divine. this also brings us the idea (similar to 'maya') that nothing really Is except for the Divine. likewise, in the beginning, humanity is designed around a spark of the Divine (what is "breathed into the nostrils") - and our souls still contain that Divine spark which is trying to reunite *with* the Divine. therefore, although we can say that "his self, is not that of God, nor is it one with the universe", this really depends on one's perception of what that actually means.

for God is not in things. God is transcendent. God is beheld only by the dead.
actually, judaism holds that G!D Is both immanent *and* transcendent, which is naturally, a paradox. the point is that the Divine Is not subject to natural laws. and, in fact, the Divine Is not "beheld" by anyone or anything. the Divine Is by definition Infinite and that goes for perception too.

through such knowledge, by God's grace, to link one's own will back to that of the Creator.
the notion of "grace" is not a jewish one. i'm not aware of an equivalent. you have to remember that there is really no such thing as "judeo-christian" - judaism is *not* "christianity without jesus"; it's an entirely different system of thought which is actually far closer to hinduism and buddhism than i think you realise. i think the judaism you are criticising is a sunday-school straw man.

it was only after creation that man fell, whereas in the Indian example creation itself was a fall - the fragmentation of a God. and the God is not condemned.
who would do such "condemning"? it also seems you're not aware of what the "fall" is in judaism. there is not really a concept of "original sin" - the 'sinfulness'comes from being *capable* of sinning, which is only possible if there is a choice to sin, which means you need free-will to sin, which is the difference between humanity and angels. obviously adam's choice of free-will was also a choice to sin; but, similarly, it was a choice to *not* sin, despite his brand new freedom of will.

the fall of Adam and Eve was an event within the already created frame of time and space, an accident that should not have taken place.
this is a lot harder to argue from a jewish POV; humanity as we know it would simply not be, so the Torah would be a bit pointless, which is not a POV judaism would ever sustain.

the Indian point of view is metaphysical, poetical; the Biblical, ethical and historical.
this is very far from being the case. the ma'aseh beresheet is the part of the Torah that is most removed from both ethical and historical considerations, entering as it does into the realms of the mythical, the poetic and the mystical - but without an appreciation of how the hebrew works this is unlikely to be obvious. in fact, there is no single "biblical" POV - the mystical tradition contains many different interpretations; the Zohar contains at least seventy for this section alone - and you'd be hard pressed to consider that as ethical or historical!

nor has anyone to wait - or even to hope - for a "day of the Lord." for what has been lost is in each his very self (atman), here and now, requiring only to be sought. Or, as they say: "only when men shall roll up space like a piece of leather will there be an end of sorrow apart from knowing God."
the main difference in opinion between judaism and this "indian view" as far as i can see is to do with the idea of the eternity of the world/cosmos/universe, which we don't support, seeing it as something with both a beginning and an end - at least from a human PoV. and that's only because humans have to live within linear time. the Divine is not subject to linear time.

the question arises [...] as to the identity of the favored community.[G!D]is supposed to have engaged himself miraculously in the enterprise of restoring fallen man through a covenant, a sacrament, or a revealed book, with a view to a general, communal experience of fulfillment yet to come.
this is a misunderstanding of how jews see our particular relationship with G!D - the phrase "'AM SeGULaH", often mistranslated as "chosen people" doesn't really convey that 'chosen' doesn't mean 'better', let alone 'only authorised'. judaism does not consider jews superior - if individual jews feel that, that is their own ignorance and chauvinism. we have our own mission. nor do we consider the world 'corrupt' and our view of humanity is more rounded than merely considering it 'sinful'. the idea of all of humanity coming together in a 'kingdom of righteousness' is an idea that we all have a duty to build a just world together and that history is a spiral progression, not an eternal samsaric circle which we should all try to escape from. what we hope for is for all humanity - including us - to rid ourselves of our 'maya'.

the Indian term "yoga" is dervied from the Sanskrit root verb "yuj" - to link, join or unite - which is related etymologically to "yoke" - a yoke of oxen [....] the psychological linking of the mind to that superordinated principle "by which the mind knows"
we have a similar concept, known as the "'OL MaLChUT Ha-ShaMaYIM" - the 'yoke of the kingdom of heaven', which more or less exactly corresponds to this. the linking is likewise integrative, which is expressed by the associated idea of "YiKhUD" or 'unification'.

That is why religion is all the same- because ancient man all worshipped the same sun, moon and stars, not the "order of the mother right."
nogodnomasters, you seem terribly sure you're right and without something published that we can read, i don't quite know what to do with your theory. of course, we are familiar with astrology and it plays a large part in the mystical tradition, but as jews we are not permitted to let the stars guide us, for then we should be "'avdei kochavim u'mazalot", worshippers of the stars and fates, which would be an abrogation of our responsibility for our own actions. judaism's a bit ambiguous about astrology for this very reason, although there are great authorities who take either side in the debate. however, the structure of the Torah is, needless to say, not considered to be astrological.

As cities fell and turned to dust and other cities became major centers, the text was again altered to reflect proper astrology. This is why the OT texts contradict themselves, but also why they repeat themselves, and why there is no correct timeline for the Bible that corresponds to archaelogy.
from a traditional jewish PoV, this is of course incorrect. quite apart from altering the text, there are quite different reasons for the texts to both contradict themselves as well as repeat themselves. but, as you all know already, i don't subscribe to the documentary hypothesis. nor do i consider the Torah to have to correspond to archaeology, because it's not a historical document from my PoV, but continues to be a document that lives in 'sacred time', if you like.

How do the stars and planets reveal "their" truth to us?
for me, this is of very little interest, for the same reason that we no longer make decisions on the basis of 'heavenly voices' (batei qol).

Meanwhile the west picks up eastern traditions and 'skims' them.
judaism is not a western, let alone "european" religion! in fact it sits much better exactly between east and west.


Science has become the 'blind faith' of the modern age.
i couldn't agree more with this. in fact, the attitude of "science and rationalism and logic are the only games in town" that has been responsible for just as much suffering as its evangelists accuse religion of causing. the way these guys talk about my religion is reminiscent of the way that the mediaeval church did - "backward, primitive, mired in superstition and ignorance, rejecting the light of [for christ read reason]". it is that "the truth is exclusively ours" attitude that prevents us all getting along.

Where I most profoundly disagree with Campbell is his failure to perceive the metaphysical content of Scripture - because he can't see it does not mean it is not there, whilst the sages of other traditions see through its manifest forms to its essential metaphysical reality.
i could say the same thing about the prevailing 'orthodoxy' that the Torah is a redacted document. of course there's evidence for it, but many people don't find it at all convincing.

'Beresith', for example, the first word of the Bible, means 'in principle' or 'in the principle' rather than 'in the beginning', but Scripture was written for all humanity, not an elite few, and thus its language addresses man as a whole, not purely the intellect.
that is only one of the meanings of the word. there are whole midrashim (symbolic readings) written on just the first letter. however, i must take issue with the idea that the Torah addresses humanity as a whole. the laws of the Torah in particular are addressed to us, the jewish community. i don't see any of the people who claim to 'live by the bible' keeping milk and meat separate, refraining from wearing linsey-woolsey, or keeping Shabbat. we didn't ask anyone else to try and apply it to the whole of humanity. the fact that we are obliged to observe it does not make us 'elite' - it makes us *different*.

The Six Days of Creation correspond to the deployment of metaphysical principle, and concords with the Vedas, I am told, to quite a significant degree.
i have heard the same thing many times. actually, i have heard this quite a lot in connection with such fields as quantum physics and superstring theory. not that i am saying that these things "confirm" the Torah, that is not their purpose. it just underlines that the Torah is a lot more sophisticated thanthese sneering rationalists assume.
The Hebrews wrote their history as if it was astrological. Prophecy was based on astrology.
upon what do you base this claim? it runs counter to everything we believe, so it seems somewhat unlikely that the sages of the Talmud neglected to point this out if "clearly the Rabbis knew". are you aware of the multiplicity of views expressed about 'avdei kochavim u'mazalot, sometimes shortened to AKU"M? in many cases, this was amended by non-jewish censors or mistranslated as 'gentile'. either way, although [some of] the rabbis clearly knew a lot about astrology, its authority declined when, as you point out, we realised we had lost the power of prophecy, surviving only to the extent to which it remains within the mystical tradition. if the Torah was based on astrology and the sages believed this, you would have to show me where in the Talmud this is said.

lots of points there, both specific and general. hopefully a complete response.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
Thomas: you have a couple of basic misconceptions. On evolution, there are many things that can be argued (although I am not very interested in arguing them), but that new species do arise from mutated descendants of other species is a matter that is absolutely settled, since it has been observed to occur, many times.
And "anatman" in Buddhism is not the doctrine that there is a soul: it is the OPPOSITE of that; an- is the negative prefix as in an-archy "no government", or anti- etc. Anatman means "no self": it is the doctrine that belief in the existence of a self with sharp boundaries from "other", which eternally remains a separate thing, is an illusion and the cause of suffering.
 
hey! i ordered a cheeseburger!

On evolution, there are many things that can be argued (although I am not very interested in arguing them), but that new species do arise from mutated descendants of other species is a matter that is absolutely settled, since it has been observed to occur, many times.
nor does a sophisticated understanding of the ma'aseh bereisheet, preclude truth for the theory of evolution. the genesis account is *not* an answer to the mechanics of how we got to be the way we are physically, but how we became fully human in the way we now understand. religion and science should both resist the temptation to meddle in, confirm or deny the other's domain competencies.

the doctrine that belief in the existence of a self with sharp boundaries from "other", which eternally remains a separate thing, is an illusion and the cause of suffering.
this is a bit of a grey area, obviously, because from my POV, it appears that the idea that the cosmos is ultimately an illusion is related to the idea that there is no reality but the Divine. in other words, there is, in reality, nothing but EIN-SOF, the Infinite. obviously, behaviour which treats the universe as real will be the cause of suffering - but, from our POV, this is a real case of "the glass is half-empty". there is an aggadic story which says that when G!D decided to create humanity, some of the angels said "don't do that, because they're only going to screw everything up", whereas some of the others said "ah, yes, but they're also going to be capable of compassion". it is this attitude which i feel the 'everything is maya' POV short-changes a bit. this is one of the reasons i think judaism is able more easily to accommodate the samsaric cycle.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bob x said:
Thomas: you have a couple of basic misconceptions. On evolution, there are many things that can be argued (although I am not very interested in arguing them)

Hi Bob - I agree with you there - as mentioned elsewhere, evolution deals with cause and effect, not the First Cause. I find it hard to see why evolution theory cannot sit alongside creation, unless one reads creation literally - but from many sources i have heard that evolution theory is not quite as concrete and watertight as everyone thinks.

'anatman' was not me, btw, so I can't commemnt on that one.

pax,
Thomas
 
bananabrain said:
actually, vajradhara, there's a lot more to it than what is apparently in the plain text. this episode is known as the "ma'aseh beresheet" (work of Creation) and is undoubtedly the most complicated and mysterious part of the Torah. reams and reams have been written on this episode in the mystical tradition, not least of which is the idea of TzIMTzUM, the idea that the Infinite Divine EIN-SOF (rather like the idea of Eternal Brahma) had to 'contract' make an internal space available in which the created universe could exist. in this way, we understand that All Is Divine and that All exists within the Divine. this also brings us the idea (similar to 'maya') that nothing really Is except for the Divine. likewise, in the beginning, humanity is designed around a spark of the Divine (what is "breathed into the nostrils") - and our souls still contain that Divine spark which is trying to reunite *with* the Divine. therefore, although we can say that "his self, is not that of God, nor is it one with the universe", this really depends on one's perception of what that actually means.

Namaste bananabrain,

thank you for the post.

there are many aspects of the Jewish tradition of which i'm not very familiar :) though i happen to be pretty familiar with Gilgul, of all things... but that's probably due to my own inclinations more than anything else.

actually, judaism holds that G!D Is both immanent *and* transcendent, which is naturally, a paradox. the point is that the Divine Is not subject to natural laws. and, in fact, the Divine Is not "beheld" by anyone or anything. the Divine Is by definition Infinite and that goes for perception too.

it seems like a paradox if you view things in a dualistic fashion, from my way of seeing, it seems quite natural :)

the notion of "grace" is not a jewish one. i'm not aware of an equivalent. you have to remember that there is really no such thing as "judeo-christian" - judaism is *not* "christianity without jesus"; it's an entirely different system of thought which is actually far closer to hinduism and buddhism than i think you realise. i think the judaism you are criticising is a sunday-school straw man.

hmm... well... i'm pretty certain that your faith is not all that similiar to mine, though i'm sure there are commonalities between the two traditions.

mind you, i'm not critising any system of worship or belief... the referenced text was from Joseph Campbell.. and i don't think that he was critisizing the system of worship either. at this point in the book, he's outlining, in general terms the fundamental difference in how the two hemispheres see the same myth.

who would do such "condemning"? it also seems you're not aware of what the "fall" is in judaism. there is not really a concept of "original sin" - the 'sinfulness'comes from being *capable* of sinning, which is only possible if there is a choice to sin, which means you need free-will to sin, which is the difference between humanity and angels. obviously adam's choice of free-will was also a choice to sin; but, similarly, it was a choice to *not* sin, despite his brand new freedom of will.

interesting.. very interesting indeed.

so.. you are sinful because you posses the capacity for sin?


this is very far from being the case. the ma'aseh beresheet is the part of the Torah that is most removed from both ethical and historical considerations, entering as it does into the realms of the mythical, the poetic and the mystical - but without an appreciation of how the hebrew works this is unlikely to be obvious. in fact, there is no single "biblical" POV - the mystical tradition contains many different interpretations; the Zohar contains at least seventy for this section alone - and you'd be hard pressed to consider that as ethical or historical!

on the contrary, i think it's very much the case, with some specific exceptions, as you've noted. as this is comparing generalized western traditions and eastern traditiosn at this point, it is not focusing on a specific portion of a specific tradition.


this is a misunderstanding of how jews see our particular relationship with G!D - the phrase "'AM SeGULaH", often mistranslated as "chosen people" doesn't really convey that 'chosen' doesn't mean 'better', let alone 'only authorised'. judaism does not consider jews superior - if individual jews feel that, that is their own ignorance and chauvinism. we have our own mission. nor do we consider the world 'corrupt' and our view of humanity is more rounded than merely considering it 'sinful'. the idea of all of humanity coming together in a 'kingdom of righteousness' is an idea that we all have a duty to build a just world together and that history is a spiral progression, not an eternal samsaric circle which we should all try to escape from. what we hope for is for all humanity - including us - to rid ourselves of our 'maya'.

this isn't specifically targeted towards those of the Jewish faith.. but let's proceed....

i was under no illusions that it means "better" or "superior". in the same sense as my tradition uses the terms Lesser Vehicle, Greater Vehicle and Diamond Vehicle.. it does not mean that the those that practice the Lesser Vehicle are, indeed, inferior to those that practice the Greater or Diamond Vehicles.

our hope, for all sentient beings, humans included, is that we rid ourselves of our defilements. remember... samsara is no different from Nirvana :)
 
judeo-schmudeo-pseudeo

i happen to be pretty familiar with Gilgul, of all things...
of course, gilgul is something of which many jews are either unaware or disapprove of - but it is also one of the things that moves judaism out of the box of western religion tout court.

it seems like a paradox if you view things in a dualistic fashion, from my way of seeing, it seems quite natural
exactly! judaism at its most fundamental level is a rejection of dualism and an affirmation of the Oneness of All and the Allness of One. however, this is most often achieved through what i would term "devekut" - 'cleaving to', in this case, paradox. what i am saying, in short, that only paradox can dislocate us sufficiently to allow us to begin to 'know how to know 'the Divine. it's kind of like the shock method used in zen, except this is achieved in judaism through the use of paradox to break through the barrier of human language.

i'm pretty certain that your faith is not all that similiar to mine, though i'm sure there are commonalities between the two traditions.
i'm not saying that i know what your faith is, but i *am* saying that the "judeo" part of "judeo-christian" , whenever this is mentioned is almost always absolutely unrepresentative of how judaism actually works, especially those parts that are most different from christianity and most similar to hinduism or buddhism. it's reductionist and i therefore detest it. similarly - and i can't say this enough - judaism is NOT a 'western' religion.

so.. you are sinful because you posses the capacity for sin?
to be more precise, humans are not merely sinful. only a being with knowledge of the Divine and sin *together with free will* can sin. this is why the tree in the garden was the tree of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. in the jewish system of thought, we're not so obsessed with the negativity of it all!

on the contrary, i think it's very much the case, with some specific exceptions
in fact, even the most apparently "ethico-historical" parts of the Torah in particular operate on a variety of levels. it's a bit difficult to discuss this as generally as we're doing, though.

as this is comparing generalized western traditions and eastern traditions at this point, it is not focusing on a specific portion of a specific tradition.
OK, but you are categorising judaism merely as a 'western religion', seeing it only in terms of its relationship to christianity, which is really, really misleading - particularly as it ignores the fact that the majority of jewish development, even in the last 2000 years, has taken place outside europe.

in the same sense as my tradition uses the terms Lesser Vehicle, Greater Vehicle and Diamond Vehicle.. it does not mean that the those that practice the Lesser Vehicle are, indeed, inferior to those that practice the Greater or Diamond Vehicles.
yes, but you can see how that might be misleading in both cases!

samsara is no different from Nirvana
then why should people want to escape from one to the other?

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
exactly! judaism at its most fundamental level is a rejection of dualism and an affirmation of the Oneness of All and the Allness of One. however, this is most often achieved through what i would term "devekut" - 'cleaving to', in this case, paradox. what i am saying, in short, that only paradox can dislocate us sufficiently to allow us to begin to 'know how to know 'the Divine. it's kind of like the shock method used in zen, except this is achieved in judaism through the use of paradox to break through the barrier of human language.

Namaste bananabrain,

thank you for the post.

this is a similar phrase to "yoga" a "relinking" of the consciousness with the primordial consciousness. some sects of Zen use this method, called Koan, which is a deliberate contemplation of such seemingly nonsensical things, this is true, though not all sects do.

we seem to be in agreement. the actual experience of the Divine is what is being aimed for.... without conceptual filters.. which seems to be the dicey bit.


i'm not saying that i know what your faith is, but i *am* saying that the "judeo" part of "judeo-christian" , whenever this is mentioned is almost always absolutely unrepresentative of how judaism actually works, especially those parts that are most different from christianity and most similar to hinduism or buddhism. it's reductionist and i therefore detest it. similarly - and i can't say this enough - judaism is NOT a 'western' religion.

i understand the source of your position now, thank you.

in truth, terms like "east" and "west" are simply geographic notations to more easily associate things... often this "easy association" leads one into error. when i say "western" in terms of religion i mean that as viewed from the primary base of my tradition, India/China.

your tradition, from what i know of it, would seem to be more "near east" as it would be termed in the "west" :p

to be more precise, humans are not merely sinful. only a being with knowledge of the Divine and sin *together with free will* can sin. this is why the tree in the garden was the tree of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. in the jewish system of thought, we're not so obsessed with the negativity of it all!

thank you for the clarification. so.. is the knowledge of good and evil knowledge of the Divine? i would presume that it's not free will and i'll presume that it's not sin, is that correct?

then why should people want to escape from one to the other?

b'shalom

bananabrain

actually, they don't :) it's what we term "expiedent means" and is one of the teachings that are expounded in the Hinyana Tipitaka teachings. sometimes, students become confused by some of the words or they do not have the capacity to understand and actualize them completely. thus, expiedent means are used to help people cross to the other shore.
 
Quote: The Hebrews wrote their history as if it was astrological. Prophecy was based on astrology.​
upon what do you base this claim? it runs counter to everything we believe, so it seems somewhat unlikely that the sages of the Talmud neglected to point this out if "clearly the Rabbis knew". are you aware of the multiplicity of views expressed about 'avdei kochavim u'mazalot, sometimes shortened to AKU"M? in many cases, this was amended by non-jewish censors or mistranslated as 'gentile'. either way, although [some of] the rabbis clearly knew a lot about astrology, its authority declined when, as you point out, we realised we had lost the power of prophecy, surviving only to the extent to which it remains within the mystical tradition. if the Torah was based on astrology and the sages believed this, you would have to show me where in the Talmud this is said.


Is is not what we believe that matters it is what they believed. The Babylonian Talmud has numerous astrological references, although they are mostly reffering to the planets. The references in the Talmud are mostly indirect. There is one direct statement that the reason why Jacob had 12 sons was because the zodiac has 12 signs. It goes on to claim Esau had 12 sons also. The stories in the Talmud explain the OT text in light of astrology. For instance, the tent scene of Noah is explained that in the talmud that Noah was "unmanned." This corresponds to other mythologies and fits in exactly with Orion, where the scene takes place. When The summer solstice moved from Leo in Cancer, stories were added Genesis to associate Abraham with Cancer. In the Midrash, there was a miracle birth story of Abraham similar to that of Jesus. This story is specific to the stars of Cancer. There is the "tail" of Adam. His tail or tail bone was supposed to have been what God used to make Eve, not a rib. Adam is Leo. The star Sarcam is the tail of Leo shared with Virgo (Eve). This same star is used in the Samson story when he shares his wife with his friend. Clearly the way the Jews wrote about the stories, providing mythological deatails which supports the astrological matrix would indicate they had detailed knowledge of the exact meaning of the stories well into second and third century AD when they would use zodiac mosaics on the floors of their temples.

The problem came when Israel was defeated by Rome mulitiple times and could not rule the age of Pisces as they had expected would happen. At this point the Rabbis broke ranks.
 
this is a similar phrase to "yoga" a "relinking" of the consciousness with the primordial consciousness.
exactly.
some sects of Zen use this method, called Koan, which is a deliberate contemplation of such seemingly nonsensical things
in judaism it's more *paradoxical* than nonsensical, partly because there is not the perceived need to separate oneself from one's previous unawakened state.

your tradition, from what i know of it, would seem to be more "near east" as it would be termed in the "west"
exactly. judaism isn't theology-led like christianity. it's more behavioural.

is the knowledge of good and evil knowledge of the Divine? i would presume that it's not free will and i'll presume that it's not sin, is that correct?

well, in the G of E story, knowledge of the Divine is taken for granted, as A&E converse with G!D on a regular basis. so i would say probably not. knowledge of good and evil is rather, i would say, knowledge of humanity - which, for angelic beings, would be more of a challenge, being limited by their lack of free-will.

actually, they don't it's what we term "expedient means" and is one of the teachings that are expounded in the Hinyana Tipitaka teachings. sometimes, students become confused by some of the words or they do not have the capacity to understand and actualize them completely. thus, expedient means are used to help people cross to the other shore.
ah, i get it - it's exactly like our "Na'ASeH Ve-NiShM'A" - 'we shall act first, but only ultimately will we understand".

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
Vajradhara Namaste,

I loved your post especially this,

Quote,
in the Indian version it is the god himself that divides and becomes not man alone but all creation; so that everything is a manifestation of that single inhabiting divine substance: there is no other;
 
I agree - makes me imagine Fractal Geometry and the Mandelbrot Set. To my mind, possibly about the simplest way of viewing God in abstract. :)
 

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Stormdancer said:
Vajradhara Namaste,

I loved your post especially this,

Quote,
in the Indian version it is the god himself that divides and becomes not man alone but all creation; so that everything is a manifestation of that single inhabiting divine substance: there is no other;
Namaste Stormdancer,

welcome to the forum.

i'm glad that you enjoyed the post :)

my intention was to give people a common frame of reference... though we may disagree on some of the particulars, as that common frame of reference is what actually permits a discussion without getting bogged down in pendantic details.

indeed... in this version.. there is no other... there is only one. we are deluded into a subject/object dichotomy by our conditioned sense experience and our emotional consciousness.
 
nogodnomasters -

i (and everyone who studies it) am aware that the Talmud mentions astrology quite often. likewise, kabbalistic texts like the Sefer Yetzirah also utilise astrological correspondences. however, it does not follow that because the sages were aware of astrology they therefore believed that the Torah was an astrological text! that's not how Talmudic logic works at all. many minority opinions, or incorrect opinions are stated, because it is important to record the arguments surrounding complex decisions. likewise, they often demonstrate their knowledge in order to make it clear that they are not dismissing things out of ignorance. indeed, one of the qualifications for becoming a member of the Sanhedrin is knowledge of idolatry, witchcraft, demonology, astrology and the occult - otherwise how can one make judgements in these matters?

The stories in the Talmud explain the OT text in light of astrology.
excuse me! firstly, even were that the whole story, that wouldn't mean it was the case. secondly, some opinions may very well do that in some cases, but for you to assume on the basis of this that all opinions are related to astrology is simply astounding, not to mention unbelievable. many of our sages through the ages have been experts in astrology, but i challenge you to show me evidence that there is one of them who as a result states authoritatively that the Torah or even the Talmud is astrological in its essential nature other than inasmuch as the planets are part of the Unity of the universe. obviously G!D as Creator would be responsible for the creation of planets and the astrological systems, but the jewish people's distinguishing characteristic is that we are not "'avdei kokhavim u'mazalot" (usually shortened to AKU"M) - worshippers of stars and fortune, which is the most common talmudic term for an *idolater!*

in other words, although some of the sages clearly indicate that the behaviour of the celestial bodies may give us clues about Divine judgement, it is very sticky ground and can be misleading. therefore, one must be suitably grounded before it is possible to appreciate the significance of stuff like kabbalistic astrology. the sages were not unaware of the attachment of the common people to this field, which is why they had strong opinions about it. later on, this becomes even more overt with text like maimonides' "epistle to yemen", where he castigates the community for having followed a false messiah who appeared to be astrologically favoured and reminds them that freewill requires us to be able to determine our own fate. the accepted talmudic opinion, in short, is that ein mazal l'yisrael, the stars do not determine a jew's destiny.

Clearly the way the Jews wrote about the stories, providing mythological details which supports the astrological matrix would indicate they had detailed knowledge of the exact meaning of the stories well into second and third century AD when they would use zodiac mosaics on the floors of their temples.
firstly, the fact that they knew about the astrological matrix does not prove that the events of the Torah were therefore the same stories as mythologies based on astrology. all that proves is that they had observed the matrix correctly, as had the people who wrote down mythologies based on it! furthermore, the fact that there was anything representational depicted in a synagogue of that era is far more likely to be evidence of hellenistic-influenced laxity. there are even mosaics of that period that depict prophets and the Shekhinah - but it doesn't mean that was OK!

The problem came when Israel was defeated by Rome mulitiple times and could not rule the age of Pisces as they had expected would happen. At this point the Rabbis broke ranks.
far from breaking ranks, this event would have simply provided evidence to support the sages' argument that the stars did not determine our fate! upon what exactly do you base this statement?

it always astounds me how people can make these bizarre claims about judaism and jewish texts, ignoring or dismissing thousands of years of some of the finest minds in human history spending their entire lives exploring every possible aspect of them - do people really think that this stuff hasn't already been thought of and discussed by traditional commentators?

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
Namaste bananabrain,

thank you for the post.

Buddhism also takes this approach and, moreover, lists astrology and fortune telling as Not Right Livelihood.

we are specifically instructed not to earn a living by exploiting peoples superstitions.

to paraphrase on of the finest movie Buddhists that ever walked the silver screen...

"always in motion is the future... difficult to see."

since sentient beings can change their karma, their future is not certain.
 
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Banana Brain,

This is actually not a bizarre subject. The Greek religion/myths are based on astrology. Likewise it has also been shown Babylonian and Egyptian religions on which the OT stories are based are also astrological. Yet somehow, these stories when retold by the Jews lose all their basis in astrology. This does not make any sense.

It is difficult for anyone to say if the ancient Talmud was a majority or minority opinion. Granted it is not the opinion of today, but to make a claim it was only a minority opinion is incorrect.

The zodiac mosiacs come from the Jews, not the Greeks.

Babylonian Talmud “Rav Hanina said to them, [his disciples]: Go out and tell the son of Levi, Not the constellation of the day but the constellation of the hour is the determining influence. He who is born under the constellation of the sun will be a distinguished person: he will eat and drink of his own and his secrets will lie uncovered; if he is a thief, he will have no success. He who is born under Venus will be wealthy and unchaste [immoral]. What is the reason? Because fire was created therein. He who is born under Mercury will be of a retentive memory and wise. What is the reason? Because it [Mercury] is the sun's scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, building and demolishing, demolishing and building. He will eat and drink that which is not his and his secrets will remain hidden: if he is a thief, he will be successful. He who is born under Saturn will be a man whose plans will be frustrated. Others say: All [evil] designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under Zedek [Jupiter] will be a right-doing man [zadkan] Rav Nahman bar Isaac observed: Right-doing in good deeds. He who is born under Mars will be a shedder of blood. Rav Ashi observed: Either a surgeon, a thief, a slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars. Abaye retorted: You too inflict punishment and kill.”

Josephus Antiquates of the Jews 3.185-186 writes: “Sun and moon are indicated by the two sardonyxes [gems] wherewith [the high priest] pinned his robe. As for the twelve stones [breastplate] whether one would prefer to read them in months or the constellations of like number, which the Greeks call the circle of the zodiac, he will not mistake the lawgiver’s intentions.”
Origen writes in Contra Celius: “what is astonishing about the Jews is that they adore the sky and the angels that inhabit it.”

Not only were the Jews lovers of astrology, it seems they were obcessed by it. The story from the garden through Solomon was how they remembered all those constellations, the stars and their meanings. It was simply a memory aid.

The authors of the various Midrashes knew the astrological origin. This is why they told stories about the castration of Noah, the tail of Adam, the miraculous birth of Abraham and the attempt of Nimrod to murder Abraham in the manner of Herod. These stories brought them in line with the Greek interpretation of the constellations. The original Hebrew version differed slightly. My work is far different from what you will find in a Kabbalah.
 
The Greek religion/myths are based on astrology. Likewise it has also been shown Babylonian and Egyptian religions on which the OT stories are based are also astrological. Yet somehow, these stories when retold by the Jews lose all their basis in astrology. This does not make any sense.
except if THE OT STORIES DO NOT, CONTRARY TO YOUR BELIEF ACTUALLY HAVE AN ASTROLOGICAL BASIS! when evidence doesn't support a hypothesis, the normal practice is to regard the hypothesis, rather than the evidence, as deficient - yet you seem to be blaming the text for the fact that your hypothesis doesn't apply to it! deary, deary me.

It is difficult for anyone to say if the ancient Talmud was a majority or minority opinion. Granted it is not the opinion of today, but to make a claim it was only a minority opinion is incorrect.
i'm sorry to have to say this, but you clearly don't know anything about talmudic logic at all. there are long-established rules about how to work out whether talmudic opinions are authoritative or not. you can't simply grab all the astrological bits out of the Talmud and draw your own conclusions! for a start, rav hanina's opinion at least isn't authoritative, as the following shows:

It was stated. Rabbi Hanina said: The planetary influence gives wisdom, the planetary influence gives wealth, and Israel stands under planetary influence, (yesh mazal le'yisrael). Rabbi Yohanan maintained: Israel is immune from planetary influence, (eyn mazal leyisrael).

rabbi yohanan's opinion is considered to outweigh rav hanina's - but then, i doubt you bothered to find that out. secondly, a closer examination of the argument on that page (tractate Shabbat p156a) can also be understood as showing other authorities apparently having a good laugh at rav hanina's expense (this happens more often than you might think in the Talmud, incidentally) and generally being somewhat sarcastic, as in abaye's rather sardonic remark to rabbah, which might be rendered as "well, i don't know about anyone else, but you certainly punish me".

incidentally, if you're interested in what the authoritative opinions on astrology actually are, go and have a look at this, which appears to be reputable: http://home.earthlink.net/~etzahaim/halakha/Superstition.htm - as you will see, it's hardly straightforward, but in no way suggests that the Torah itself is an astrological text.

i've already made rude remarks elsewhere about josephus as a religious authority (deary me) as opposed to a historical one (fairly reliable as long as you take his background and prejudices into account) - that remark about the breastplate of the high priest is pure brown-nosing to his roman audience.
The story from the garden through Solomon was how they remembered all those constellations, the stars and their meanings. It was simply a memory aid.
funny, i suppose we must all be mistaken and you must have spotted something which all the jewish sages missed, for all their learning and familiarity with the languages and traditions.

The authors of the various Midrashes knew the astrological origin. This is why they told stories about the castration of Noah, the tail of Adam, the miraculous birth of Abraham and the attempt of Nimrod to murder Abraham in the manner of Herod. These stories brought them in line with the Greek interpretation of the constellations.
you seem pretty sure you know what the authors of the midrash thought. there are plenty of other explanations which you are choosing to ignore. similarly, because you are choosing to believe that there is an astrological basis for everything, you are behaving no different from people who insist that everything must necessarily have an historical or rational basis - and with considerably less evidence! it's terribly procrustean.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
I too am surprised this has not been discovered before. The work is so basic and apparent once it is pointed out to you. Perhaps it was never discovered because those who looked for it used the whole text, instead of an edited text in the Wellhausean fashion. I discovered it because of Freidman's work, "The Hidden Book in the Bible."

The fact that there are other "explanations" for the stories coincides with the reason why the stories were written and their use. The stars were used for predicting the future. That is why prophecy is all so similar throughout the entire Bible. Those who knew what the stars meant, would be a prophet. This is why there are no specific handbooks explaining the details- it was passed on. It was just alluded to in writing.

Since the future was in the stars, so was the past. The stories of the Bible had a basis in truth (or else this whole prophecy thing could not work). The original text based on the factual history of the characters and times gives me a date of about 2218 BCE for the authorship. 2141 is about the date I get using astrology.

The fact that these stories did happen ADDS credence to my hypothisis if you understand why they were written. In my book I include the historical facts behind the various Bible tales. I show how those facts were blended with astrology to give a remarkable tale. While the plagues of Egypt did occur and Asians were expelled, there was no parting of the Red Sea. The parting of the Red Sea can only be astrological.

The evidence does support the hypotheis, you just have not seen it. In fact the evidence is so overwhelming and so simple to reproduce I hesitate to write about it until it is published. There is a thread I started just on this topic, if you care to continue the debate there.
 
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