Are we worshiping the same God ?

wil

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a figment of your imagination
If you put all on an equal footing. I do not.

Even if one does, the point is to pick one, and give it your best shot surely?

One will never know unless one 'goes for it' as the saying goes. Sitting on the fence is not an option. It's the good heart that inherits heaven, not the feint-hearted.
Namaste Thomas,

Now of course if one is in the black/white, right/wrong, dualistic mode than of course one would think that their religion is the only one and true religion and that everyone else is wrong.

And in regards to pick one, although I have, I just don't know. Since I believe every experience that man has had with G!d has gone through the filter of what man believes, understands and thinks...what man felt suited to write down was swayed by his needing to be right and accepted by his peers...which further distorted the truth. So like the analogy Brian posted regarding the sea....all are true based on that personal and societal belief of the prophet that received....but they are only true for that prophet/viewer....hence it is a combination of which that is true.

So while the select one and run with it has its advantages, running with blinders on to what is going on around you has its disadvantages. So while yes, I chose to choose one, I still know I have much to gain by having an open mind in regards to the others....

as I believe all paths....
 

taijasi

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Beautifully put, wil! :)

Andrew said:
God doesn't care which religion I belong to, or even if I am religious at all!
Thomas said:
I suppose that depends on where one positions one's deity and one's religion — cosmologically I think you're probably right, but then cosmological religions have an a priori limitation or ceiling, and do not necessarily require a dialogue with the Divine at all, there being a cascade of veils and symbols from high cosmology to simple humanism ...
Here is where I would say you're mistaken, Thomas. What is this arbitrary distinction you're drawing between "cosmological religions" and metacosmology, anyway? Isn't it just a clever attempt at precisely the kind of elitism which you yourself claim to detest, yet which you apparently cannot even pull your own self away from? :eek:

Always, you see, there will be some effort to remove oneself to higher ground, and - however subtly - present one's own beliefs as curiously superior to those of the man standing next to you (or, the fella in the other church, the man who prays to God under a different name). For, if we really ponder it, what else can possibly be meant by using such a phrase as "an unmediated dialogue between creature and Creator"?

Claiming such, imho, says more about what is missing in our religion - than what is present. It is, in fact, no different than the televangelists who stand on stage and presume to be the mouthpiece of the Almighty God. Clearly they are not, and it does not take a rocket scientist, a divinity degree, or anything more than a moderate amount of spiritual discernment to witness the mockery that is being made of both God, and of Religion.

Truly did the Great Lord of Civilization (Christ's `Brother') speak when He said that fully 2/3rds of all the world's evils ... can be attributed to Organized Religion. So long as the elitism persists, however cleverly we may try to disguise it, this unfortunate set of circumstances will also continue.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian, but he did not feel a need to put others down to elevate himself, nor did he find it helpful or necessary to speak of Christianity as somehow greater than, superior to, other religions. He did not regard Christians as better people, or more beloved by God than people of other faiths. And while he must surely have loved Christ Jesus and the Christian example (for why else would he have been a Christian Minister!) ... he wrote at least one excellent paper on the influence of the Mystery Religions - predating Christianity - upon the early Christian Church. [It is well worth reading!]

Mother Teresa, another of the greatest Saints of the 20th Century and perhaps of all times, also showed us that in serving God, we do not need to feel superior, or look for some kind of artificial distinction between ourselves and others ... either on religious grounds, or on basis of race, skin color ... even social caste, or status, so unjustly emphasized in modern India. I dare say that a great number of the people to whom she ministered were ignorant even of their own Hindu religion, or certainly its more metaphysical aspects & subtleties. No doubt Mother Teresa spoke with them of the Christian Ideal(s), yet she saw them first, as people, and only secondly, as Hindus, Christians, etc. ;)

So, when I say that God does not care which religion we belong to (if any), but only that we remain true to our chosen Principles & Ideal(s), I don't mean that in any kind of qualified sense, Thomas. I don't mean, "IF we are speaking of yadda, yadda type of religion," vs. some other. No, that, I'm afraid, is but a not-so-subtle attempt to evade the real point.

You can press me, on logical grounds, if you wish, by saying, "Oh, but Andrew, now you are begging the question! We are discussing whether or not there is in fact ONE GREAT GOD Whom & Which we are all worshipping, under whatever circumstances and conditions we have chosen (or which our faith dictates)!"

Quite right, Thomas, I am begging such a question. I am saying, quite simply, YES, there is One - and only One - Great & Mighty, living God ... though this Deity has the many faces of God(s), as presented by the world's great religions of ALL times (past, present AND future!), for its `masks,' or Personae. Christianity knows this God one way, and Hinduism knows Deity in another way. Buddhism, like Taoism, are perhaps in this category you speak of as more cosmological, but these are adjectives that only describe the respective religions ... in terms of belief systems.

Our task, I would humbly suggest, is to try and get beyond this business of "MY religion says X, while YOUR religion says Y." And we may do this in two very important ways:

One, try to remember that the person next to you (how is it you put that, Thomas? "In the pew beside us?") ... is a PERSON, first, just like you, and maybe a Muslim, or a Buddhist, a Christian or a Jew, only second. Being a PERSON first, means that we are all undergoing the exact same set of experiences here on Earth, with variation occurring only as a result of conditioning - be that geographic, cultural, psychological, or yes, religious. But the HUMANITY aspect ... comes FIRST.

The second way for us to avoid getting lost in semantics and in the muddled mess of mind and mental gymnastics ... is to try, even just for a moment, to imagine the Unconditional, Unlimited, Perfect LOVE of Deity. Through such a lens (or the complete lack thereof, as some would put it), God surely sees us, and knows us, exactly as we are. We are accepted, and each & every one of us loved alike, with all our human imperfections & shortcomings, such that NOTHING we can do - absolutely NOTHING - will either increase God's Love for us, nor decrease God's Love for us. The only thing that changes, is how much, and how well, we are able to accept this freely offered Gift (which Christians call `Grace') ... and in so accepting it, how much & how well we are able to pass this Gift on to others, sharing God's love between Brother & Brother (or Sister & Sister, as some would have it), even as God shares it unfailingly & ever-Perfectly with us. :)

~+~+~

Another discussion, if we wish to have one, might honestly and legitimately ask: To what extent does a given religion, during a given era, and relevant to a given `people' (culture, nation, ethnic group) seem to meet the goals of its Founders, and/or the NEEDS of the people in question?

Then we could certainly lay out Buddhism, relative either to the India of 2500 years ago, or the India of today, or perhaps relative to the Tibetans, the Bhutanese, or the Japanese of an appropriate & specific era ... and we could examine Buddhism on its own terms, which will still afford for an overall fit within the original question that started this thread.

We can do the same with Christianity, keeping careful attention that we do not broaden the investigation too greatly. After all, Christianity has its tens of thousands of sects, or denominations, though even a comparison of the four main divisions would be worthwhile (as also of the four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, for example). The question would not be, do all of these types of Christianity (and Christians) worship the same God, but rather, how effective has Eastern Orthodoxy (Roman Catholicism, mainstream Protestantism, as well as Independent Christianity) been ... in leading people to God (or to Christ), or something to that effect.

This, at any rate, is what I hear you saying, Thomas, and I view this as a separate question entirely, relative to: Are we all worshipping the same Great Being?

Shakespeare said it best: A rose by any other name (is STILL A ROSE, AHEM!!!) ...

- and don't forget, "More matter, LESS ART." ;)

Namaskar,

~Andrew

(But of course, if all one is trying to say is something like, "Oh, I'm very passionate about MY religion, I LIKE my religion, and ... it does it for ME!" ... then of course, by all means, Three Cheers! And this is plenty good cause for whatever celebration & festivity one feels appropriate! N'est pas? :D)
 

Thomas

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Hi Wil —

Now of course if one is in the black/white, right/wrong, dualistic mode than of course one would think that their religion is the only one and true religion and that everyone else is wrong.

"Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No man cometh to the Father, but by me."
John 14:6

Pretty unequivocal in my book.
But then, if you and Andrew had read what I have written, I never said that anyones' religion is wrong — in fact I said they are all 'true'.

In fact I would counter that both of you are trying to make black and white what is a nuanced position.

You see I don't think it's as simple as that. I think in the prevalent mode of relativism, the solution to difference is, rather than discern and determine the relationship between the different religious tendencies and manifestations, it's easier just to paint everything white, and reduce everything to the same thing. It is this that leads to the notion that everyone is right, which is patently a nonsense.

As I have stated before, this is a misguided egalitariansism.

And in regards to pick one, although I have, I just don't know. Since I believe every experience that man has had with G!d has gone through the filter of what man believes, understands and thinks...what man felt suited to write down was swayed by his needing to be right and accepted by his peers...which further distorted the truth.
Then I don't see how you can claim to 'believe' in anything except fallibility and uncertainty, when you undermine the data of faith right from the outset. It's like saying, "I believe in Jesus Christ, but before that, I believe He might be wrong."

Again, you treat sacred texts under the same rules as any other text ... this is a dictum of the historical Critical Method, and has been rejected by Continental philosophy ... so your thesis is your thesis, but in my book it's not the case, by a long stretch. Based on your argument one could say Jesus was directed by His need 'to be right and accepted by his peers' yet the evidence says otherwise.

So like the analogy Brian posted regarding the sea....all are true based on that personal and societal belief of the prophet that received....but they are only true for that prophet/viewer....hence it is a combination of which that is true.
This is back to the 'all truth is relative' and is a product of the post-60s philosophy of 'there's no such thing as truth, only narrative'. I don't buy it ... I did for a while, but I don't anymore.

So while the select one and run with it has its advantages, running with blinders on to what is going on around you has its disadvantages. So while yes, I chose to choose one, I still know I have much to gain by having an open mind in regards to the others....
But I don't believe you have selected anything other than your own presuppositions. You have selected on your own terms, and filter accordingly, so I would say it is you who wears the blinders, beofre you even came to the question of religion ... you certainly cannot claim to an open mind, let alone an open heart.

I think the rest of Jesus' dialogue with Philip (John 14:8-12) refutes precisely your position.

Thomas
 

Thomas

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Here is where I would say you're mistaken, Thomas. What is this arbitrary distinction you're drawing between "cosmological religions" and metacosmology, anyway? Isn't it just a clever attempt at precisely the kind of elitism which you yourself claim to detest, yet which you apparently cannot even pull your own self away from? :eek:

No ... the distinction is hardly arbitraray (I can explain in detail if you require) ... and how can Christianity be elitist? Our doors are open to anyone to wealk in on our most sacred rites, we are probably the most abused religion on earth at the moment, and are being killed in numbers from South America to China.

I cannot help but think, as a proponent of TS, that "people in glass houses ..." — as TS never ceases to inform all and sundry that it alone is in possession of the truth of their religion.

Thomas
 

taijasi

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No ... the distinction is hardly arbitraray (I can explain in detail if you require) ... and how can Christianity be elitist? Our doors are open to anyone to wealk in on our most sacred rites, we are probably the most abused religion on earth at the moment, and are being killed in numbers from South America to China.
HA HA! The Roman Catholic Church, notoriously and universally accepted as certainly being the most dogmatic religious institution in human history (!) ... with some of the STRICTEST requirements when it comes to what you may question, what you may NOT question, just what IS and what IS NOT safe (by way of proscription) for your soul's Salvation, yadda yadda - including penalty of torture and death (in an era not so far gone) to those who have DARED to courageously hold their ground as freethinkers or conscientious objectors ... and yet you are telling me there is no elitism in that? Oh good grief!

No elitism in a doctrine such as Domine Iesus which says, not just that Christianity is first above other religions, when it comes to accuracy & `validity,' but that Roman Catholicism is even ahead of the game vs. all other Christian traditions & denominations!?!

But Thomas, the real elitism to which I refer is not one which I have noticed as characteristic of most Catholics. Nor of most Christians. No, when I say elitism, I mean the attitude that there is some kind of a Member's Only Club, and that our Christian (or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Theosophical) Faith or beliefs somehow gives us VIP status in God's Kingdom (and/or upon earth) ... simply by our blind credulity, our unquestioning obedience to a dated list of commandments, or perhaps due to our intellectual prowess - gained through decades of perusal of all manner of obscure materials not normally available to the average churchgoer or Sunday-only practictioner.

It doesn't matter WHY we feel justified in wanting to lord it over others, and the saddest part is that this is really a twofold, or doubly shameful habit - no matter who happens to be giving it expression. On the one hand, there is the imposition of one's own will upon others, attempting to sway people, rather than simply educating them - and allowing them to make their own choice based on the facts that have been presented (and also based on the quality, or style of the presentation itself, notwithstanding the manipulations of the more Jesuitical sophists & casuists, who will stop at nothing to do their lord's bidding).

But this goes one, nasty step farther, when we paint the picture of the aforementioned `Member's Only Club,' and suggest (or emphasize) to the party in question that we somehow already have select status within such a club, such that the Lord's Favor shines upon us as no other (be they in the synagogue down the street, or even in the Christian church - of another denomination - right next door!) ... I mean, come on, WE are the ones who are RIGHT, and this means all others MUST BE WRONG!

Thomas, this is the kind of thing that disgusts me!

Back to my point. ONE GOD, billions of human souls. God's Love? Like Sunlight, raying forth to all alike. This is not whitewashing anything. This is a refusal to accept your presentation, or ANYONE's presentation, of a God that plays favorites, a God that refuses to Love those who do not pronounce the Divine Word a certain way, or attend Mass once a week, or pray facing Mecca five times a day. Nonsense! These are specific, and VALUED traditions, practices that MAKE SENSE to those who choose to honor them, and which CLEARLY have benefit to plenty of the practitioners concerned.

But to say that, "MY religion is better than YOUR religion, because WE have a SPECIAL, UNIQUE, TOTALLY DISTINCT formulation of the Trinity" ... or, "a SPECIAL, UNIQUE, TOTALLY DISTINCT forumation of the notion of God's Forgiveness & Compassion," etc. ... such a claim IS ELITIST!!!

It is spiritual smugness, no matter how subtle it may be in our thinking and in our philosophizing!

I cannot help but think, as a proponent of TS, that "people in glass houses ..." — as TS never ceases to inform all and sundry that it alone is in possession of the truth of their religion.
Now you see, Thomas, if I happen to make a claim regarding the Truth ... certainly as pertinent to the notion that all of us are actually worshipping the same God (whether we know it or not) ... I will be able to back that up. I find no wrong, and no proverbial bone to pick, with those who find their Spiritual Ideal in Jesus of Nazareth, just as those who wish to emulate and follow Sri Krishna, or Zoroaster, or the Buddha also impress me as potentially pious & devout. It is the folks who wish to go around telling others, that ONLY THEIR OWN religion is "the correct one," while the other person's is, of course, invariably "wrong" (or inappropriate, less accurate, etc.) ... these are the mongrels, the doers of injustice, those who blaspheme, and who make a MOCKERY of God and of Religion!!!

We can talk turkey if you like, though I suspect we are pretty much on the same page ...

~Andrew
 

cyberpi

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Resurrection and reincarnation are very similar... I don't see how a believer in Jesus and the gospels can say with a straight face that reincarnation does not exist. It looks to me like another one of the very real differences between Christianity... and what Jesus said and did.

Perhaps to some it seems that the water only runs down a stream once. Or that a tree falls and never lives again. Oh well... that is their belief I guess.
 

Dondi

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Resurrection and reincarnation are very similar... I don't see how a believer in Jesus and the gospels can say with a straight face that reincarnation does not exist. It looks to me like another one of the very real differences between Christianity... and what Jesus said and did.

How so? I'd be interested in how you get reincarnation out of the gospels, let alone the rest of Scripture.
 

cyberpi

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How so? I'd be interested in how you get reincarnation out of the gospels, let alone the rest of Scripture.
The body is a temple. Maybe that is why many only worship from one temple?

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

That IS reincarnation... in Jesus' words. What attributes of reincarnation would differ from John 3:13? It is perfectly worded in my opinion.

I'd also suggest that it takes a lot more redirected energy to resurrect than it does to reincarnate, and the gospel provides not just one example, but two examples. Both Jesus and Lazareth. Take for example the multiplying of fish and bread... did Jesus have wheat fields, a bakery, and a fish pond hidden out back... or did fish and bread multiply in the baskets? If I believe in that capability who am I to disbelieve reincarnation? Reincarnation is far easier and Jesus literally spelled it out... as I read it.

Regardless, I submit that ressurection is a form of reincarnation... a return of the exact (or similar) form. If one believes in the capability of resurrection, then surely one has already accepted reincarnation. To illustrate... where was Jesus and Lazareth during the days in between?
 

taijasi

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(Here's 3 MORE passages for you, Dondi, if you look carefully ... ;))

Thank you, cyberpi, for pointing out the similarity between Reincarnation and the Resurrection. :)

We can observe, any of us, that all Life is cyclical, and this applies to the Spirit just as to the physical world. I was not familiar with the passage you mention, John 3:13, but I am well aware of the additional overwhelming evidence that Christ Jesus taught Reincarnation openly, and unequivocably ... and that it was in fact a teaching accepted by many an early Christian.

Witness, for example, the following admonition, as Jesus expresses his shock over Nicodemus' ignorance:
"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" - John 3:10
We also know that Jesus cast light on John the Baptist's prior incarnation as Elijah, when He confirmed for the disciples that the old prophecy had already been fulfilled ... and that they had missed the connection entirely. How the Bible-wranglers do love to dispute on this point, yet how clear it is that Jesus is making the connection between two incarnations of ONE Soul.

Many esotericists are familiar with THREE of Jesus' own prior incarnations, beginning with Joshua, Son of Nun, who succeeded Moses ... and ending with Joshua from the Book of Zechariah (appearing as Jeshua, during the time of Ezra, in between). Appollonius of Tyana, a figure with striking similiarities to Jesus of Nazareth, is also believed to have been Jesus' own immediate reincarnation, following the Resurrection. This puts him into a category not unlike the Eastern tradition of Bodhisattvas, who reincarnate voluntarily to "help alleviate the sufferings of the world." And esotericists also sometimes understand Jesus as a `Lord of Compassion' in his Current incarnation (Syrian) ... whereas others Adepts are usually spoken of as `Masters of the Wisdom' (similar, but not quite the same).

The Christ Himself, the Eldest Brother of Humanity, is believed by many to have been Sri Krishna, of Hinduism, and also to have appeared in a lesser-known incarnation ... which will not likely be recorded in any history books. Several centuries after overshadowing His disciple Jesus, it can be ascertained that the Christ was able to take up the etheric body (physical vital soul, or nephesh) of St. Patrick, presumably because of the exceeding purity and careful preparation of the latter. This amounts to reincarnation of a sort, because it marks the closest degree to which Christ has been able to DIRECTLY incarnate within Humanity, as an Individuality.

A more recent effort was made to overshadow the Indian disciple Jiddu Krishnamurti, in the 1920s, but this was only partially successful. Many, many thousands of esotericists fully expect Christ's physical Reappearance ~2025AD ... and I should sure like to think that we will have moved beyond petty disputes over "whose religion" is the biggest (wait wait wait, that's penis, my bad), or "who's got the most money - err, I mean, adherents," etc. etc. etc.

And let us also not forget the very clear indication of Revelation 3:12, wherein it is written:
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out"
Now in the spirit of free inquiry, of free will, and in the nature of the type of education which Christ Jesus exemplified and embodied, we are all free - every single one of us - to ponder the doctrine of rebirth, and to accept it or reject it as we see fit.

I have utmost faith that in good time, it will be demonstrated through ordinary empirical science that there is a Soul, and that it is this Immortal Soul which does reincarnate. Certainly there have been some erroneous teachings, probably within every religion, as to the precise details and workings of Rebirth. But relative to the current discussion, even just to come to some measure of agreement, or acceptance, that Rebirth is a Universal Law ... would be a step forward. And this, of course, is a matter of individual recognition and acceptance, when & only when the overwhelming weight of evidence swings our opinion in that direction. :)

I wanted to stop there, but it might be worth mentioning a couple more things.

One, is that the Buddhists, Vajradhara here at C-R as a prime example, but plenty of others who express an interest in Buddhist philosophy or who have chosen Buddhism as their path, will dispute (by way of affirmation) the doctrine of anatman (or `no-soul') just as vigorously as the Christian fundamentalist will dispute (by way of contesting) the doctrine of Rebirth. Why is this so?

Is it not, when we really consider it, for the best of all possible reasons? Giving the Buddhist, or the Fundamentalist Christian the doubt, is it not precisely because each sincerely believes that His Master did NOT teach that doctrine which is being attributed to Him? While the Christ is understood, on the one hand, to have taught Resurrection ... do not most Christians dispute Rebirth just because they THINK Christ did not teach it? And will not the good Buddhist affirm the doctrine of anatman, exactly because he is certain that the Buddha taught NO Soul, while - quite naturally - the Buddha did teach Rebirth, as well as the existence of SOMEthing (Consciousness, perhaps) which must be able to experience Nirvana!

So you see, I think the hangups we have, are in most cases due primarily to a matter of tradition, and of what we have been TAUGHT to believe, and to accept as PRESUMABLY what x, y or z Great Teacher is SAID to have preached or taught. And on that grounds alone, I would affirm: You should not believe in a thing simply because some Great One tells you it is so, even if this is your life-sworn Master, and EVEN IF you know that "His or Her words are Gospel." This is the WRONG reason entirely to accept a doctrine, and if you swallow it whole, it's your own darn fault for getting the bellyache! :p

Let's drive the point entirely home with a good example from the Theosophical teachings. Much investigation was done, I think by Leadbeater, Jinarajadasa, Arundale, maybe Besant, and others, which eventually led to indications being made as to just how long a given Soul might spend in Devachan, or the Heaven-world - where we go between incarnations. All this is well & good, and was surely done in the spirit of science and earnest investigation ... and the hope was to show people that these things CAN be studied, and understood, if not nearly as fully as shall one day be possible (when Humanity is further enlightened).

But how accurate, and how helpful, was all this work to show just how long a given Soul would spend between births ... or even to illustrate exactly what Devachan would be like? Consider the following indication from one of the Theosophical Masters, the Tibetan, writing via Alice Bailey. The quote is lengthy, but a good point is made:
The occultists of the world, through the theosophical societies and other occult bodies, so-called, have greatly damaged the presentation of the truth anent reincarnation through the unnecessary, unimportant, inaccurate and purely speculative details which they give out as truths anent the processes of death and the circumstances of man after death. These details are largely dependent upon the clairvoyant vision of astral psychics of prominence in the Theosophical Society. Yet in the Scriptures of the world these details are not given, and H.P.B. in The Secret Doctrine gave none. An instance of this inaccurate and foolish attempt to throw light upon the theory of rebirth can be seen in the time limits imposed upon departed human souls between incarnations on the physical plane and the return to physical rebirth—so many years of absence are proclaimed, dependent upon the age of the departed soul and its place upon the ladder of evolution. If, we are told, the soul is very advanced, absence from the physical plane is prolonged, whereas the reverse is the case. Advanced souls and those whose intellectual capacity is rapidly developing come back with great rapidity, owing to their sensitive response to the pull of obligations, interests and responsibilities already established upon the physical plane. People are apt to forget that time is the sequence of events and of states of [Page 404] consciousness as registered by the physical brain. Where no physical brain exists, what humanity understands by time is nonexistent. The removal of the barriers of the form, stage by stage, brings an increasing realisation of the Eternal Now. In the case of those who have passed through the door of death and who still continue to think in terms of time, it is due to glamour and to the persistence of a powerful thoughtform. It indicates polarisation upon the astral plane; this is the plane upon which leading Theosophical writers and psychics have worked, and upon which they have based their writings. They are quite sincere in what they say, but omit to recognise the illusory nature of all findings based on astral clairvoyance. --Esoteric Healing, by Alice Bailey
namaskar,

~andrew
 

Thomas

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Resurrection and reincarnation are very similar... I don't see how a believer in Jesus and the gospels can say with a straight face that reincarnation does not exist. It looks to me like another one of the very real differences between Christianity... and what Jesus said and did.

I think you misunderstand the crucial difference between reincarnation and resurrection — ther two are no way the same. Christianity is a religion of resurrection, not reincarnation.

Thomas
 

Neemai

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Yes. To a greater or lesser degree.

Nicely put.

In one sense you could say that all devotional based religious practices are in some way worshipping the same God, because ultimately God in the monotheistic sense is the source of everything. But according to how and where you direct your devotion, some forms of worship would be more direct than others (depending on your point of view).

Welcome to the forums Vrindavan ! :)

Jaya Vrindavan Dharm!


... Neemai
 
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Thomas

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In one sense you could say that all devotional based religious practices are in some way worshipping the same God, because ultimately God in the monotheistic sense is the source of everything. But according to how and where you direct your devotion, some forms of worship would be more direct than others (depending on your point of view).

And nicely put, Neemai, in return!

But in the West you're not allowed to think or say such things, as this flies in the face of the philosophy of relativism.

Thomas
 

Thomas

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Let's once and for all please stop this nonsense that Christianity taught or believed in reincarnation.

One might argue today that an argument for reincarnation can be read into Scripture, but the arguments presented so far usually founder on the misunderstanding of the text itself, and certainly the main weight of scholarship does not support some very ideosyncratic interpretations.

The fact remains however that reincarnation was never taught by Jesus, the Apostles, the Fathers, nor the Church — were it so, it would have been taught explicitly.

Shirley MacLaine, for example, is one of many with the mistaken notion that Origen (specifically) taught reincarnation, probably from Reincarnation in Christianity, by Geddes MacGregor, published by the Theosophical Publishing House, in 1978.

MacGreggor speculates (my emphasis) that Origen’s texts written in support of the belief in reincarnation somehow disappeared or were suppressed. Admitting he has no evidence, MacGregor nonetheless asserts: "I am convinced he taught reincarnation in some form" (58)[/b].

This is the Philosophy of Relativism in plain sight — "I believe this, so it must be true — if there's no evidence, then someone removed it."

MacGregor's fabricated evidence is quoted widely by Theosophical sources, even though the 'quote' is demonstrably someone's invention.

I am reminded of the 'evidence' that HPB sought to be received back into the Orthodox Faith towards the end of her life. It's a fact: "Although an ex-Theosophist and Orthodox convert told this writer that Blavatsky died repentant and reconciled to the Russian Church in her last days, this has not been confirmed"
Theosophy

But then, by MacGregor's rule, it doesn't need to be. I am convinced she did, even though "In her youth she rejected Orthodox Christianity and, in fact, proclaimed "a venomous hatred of Christianity" throughout her whole life (Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind the Myth).

+++

Let's return to what Christianity has to say on the subject of reincarnation:

Irenaeus
"We may undermine [the Hellenists’] doctrine as to transmigration from body to body by this fact—that souls remember nothing whatever of the events which took place in their previous states of existence. For if they were sent forth with this object, that they should have experience of every kind of action, they must of necessity retain a remembrance of those things which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up those in which they were still deficient, and not by always hovering, without intermission, through the same pursuits, spend their labor wretchedly in vain. . . . With reference to these objections, Plato . . . attempted no kind of proof, but simply replied dogmatically that when souls enter into this life they are caused to drink of oblivion by that demon who watches their entrance, before they effect an entrance into the bodies. It escaped him that he fell into another, greater perplexity. For if the cup of oblivion, after it has been drunk, can obliterate the memory of all the deeds that have been done, how, O Plato, do you obtain the knowledge of this fact . . . ?" (Against Heresies 2:33:1–2 [A.D. 189]).

Tertullian
"Come now, if some philosopher affirms, as Laberius holds, following an opinion of Pythagoras, that a man may have his origin from a mule, a serpent from a woman, and with skill of speech twists every argument to prove his view, will he not gain an acceptance for it [among the pagans], and work in some conviction that on account of this, they should abstain from eating animal food? May anyone have the persuasion that he should abstain, lest, by chance, in his beef he eats some ancestor of his? But if a Christian promises the return of a man from a man, and the very actual Gaius [resurrected] from Gaius . . . they will not . . . grant him a hearing. If there is any ground for the moving to and fro of human souls into different bodies, why may they not return to the very matter they have left . . . ?" (Apology 48 [A.D. 197]).

Origen
"[Scripture says] ‘And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" and he said, "I am not"’ [John 1:21]. No one can fail to remember in this connection what Jesus says of John: ‘If you will receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come’ [Matt. 11:14]. How then does John come to say to those who ask him, ‘Are you Elijah?’—‘I am not’? . . . One might say that John did not know that he was Elijah. This will be the explanation of those who find in our passage a support for their doctrine of reincarnation, as if the soul clothed itself in a fresh body and did not quite remember its former lives. . . . [H]owever, a churchman, who repudiates the doctrine of reincarnation as a false one and does not admit that the soul of John was ever Elijah, may appeal to the above-quoted words of the angel, and point out that it is not the soul of Elijah that is spoken of at John’s birth, but the spirit and power of Elijah" (Commentary on John 6:7 [A.D. 229]).

"As for the spirits of the prophets, these are given to them by God and are spoken of as being in a manner their property [slaves], as ‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets’ [1 Cor. 14:32] and ‘The spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha’ [2 Kgs. 2:15]. Thus, it is said, there is nothing absurd in supposing that John, ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah,’ turned the hearts of the fathers to the children and that it was on account of this spirit that he was called ‘Elijah who is to come’" (ibid.).

"If the doctrine [of reincarnation] was widely current, ought not John to have hesitated to pronounce upon it, lest his soul had actually been in Elijah? And here our churchman will appeal to history, and will bid his antagonists [to] ask experts of the secret doctrines of the Hebrews if they do really entertain such a belief. For if it should appear that they do not, then the argument based on that supposition is shown to be quite baseless" (ibid.).

"Someone might say, however, that Herod and some of those of the people held the false dogma of the transmigration of souls into bodies, in consequence of which they thought that the former John had appeared again by a fresh birth, and had come from the dead into life as Jesus. But the time between the birth of John and the birth of Jesus, which was not more than six months, does not permit this false opinion to be considered credible. And perhaps rather some such idea as this was in the mind of Herod, that the powers which worked in John had passed over to Jesus, in consequence of which he was thought by the people to be John the Baptist. And one might use the following line of argument: Just as because the spirit and the power of Elijah, and not because of his soul, it is said about John, ‘This is Elijah who is to come’ [Matt. 11:14] . . . so Herod thought that the powers in John’s case worked in him works of baptism and teaching—for John did not do one miracle [John 10:41]—but in Jesus [they worked] miraculous portents" (Commentary on Matthew 10:20 [A.D. 248]).

"Now the Canaanite woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying, ‘Lord, help me,’ but he answered and said, ‘It is not possible to take the children’s bread and cast it to the little dogs.’ . . . [O]thers, then, who are strangers to the doctrine of the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the bodies of dogs, according to their varying degree of wickedness; but we . . . do not find this at all in the divine Scripture" (ibid., 11:17).

"In this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures" (ibid., 13:1).

...

"But if . . . the Greeks, who introduce the doctrine of transmigration, laying down things in harmony with it, do not acknowledge that the world is coming to corruption, it is fitting that when they have looked the scriptures straight in the face which plainly declare that the world will perish, they should either disbelieve them or invent a series of arguments in regard to the interpretation of things concerning the consummation; which even if they wish they will not be able to do" (ibid.).

Lactantius
"What of Pythagoras, who was first called a philosopher, who judged that souls were indeed immortal, but that they passed into other bodies, either of cattle or of birds or of beasts? Would it not have been better that they should be destroyed, together with their bodies, than thus to be condemned to pass into the bodies of other animals? Would it not be better not to exist at all than, after having had the form of a man, to live as a swine or a dog? And the foolish man, to gain credit for his saying, said that he himself had been Euphorbus in the Trojan war, and that when he had been slain he passed into other figures of animals, and at last became Pythagoras. O happy man!—to whom alone so great a memory was given! Or rather unhappy, who when changed into a sheep was not permitted to be ignorant of what he was! And would to heaven that he [Pythagoras] alone had been thus senseless!" (Epitome of the Divine Institutes 36 [A.D. 317]).

Gregory of Nyssa
"If one should search carefully, he will find that their doctrine is of necessity brought down to this. They tell us that one of their sages said that he, being one and the same person, was born a man, and afterward assumed the form of a woman, and flew about with the birds, and grew as a bush, and obtained the life of an aquatic creature—and he who said these things of himself did not, so far as I can judge, go far from the truth, for such doctrines as this—of saying that one should pass through many changes—are really fitting for the chatter of frogs or jackdaws or the stupidity of fishes or the insensibility of trees" (The Making of Man 28:3 [A.D. 379]).

Ambrose of Milan
"It is a cause for wonder that though they [the heathen] . . . say that souls pass and migrate into other bodies. . . . But let those who have not been taught doubt [the resurrection]. For us who have read the law, the prophets, the apostles, and the gospel, it is not lawful to doubt" (Belief in the Resurrection 65–66 [A.D. 380]).

"But is their opinion preferable who say that our souls, when they have passed out of these bodies, migrate into the bodies of beasts or of various other living creatures? . . . For what is so like a marvel as to believe that men could have been changed into the forms of beasts? How much greater a marvel, however, would it be that the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of a beast so opposed to that of man, and being capable of reason should be able to pass over to an irrational animal, than that the form of the body should have been changed?" (ibid., 127).

John Chrysostom
"As for doctrines on the soul, there is nothing excessively shameful that they [the disciples of Plato and Pythagoras] have left unsaid, asserting that the souls of men become flies and gnats and bushes and that God himself is a [similar] soul, with some other the like indecencies. . . . At one time he says that the soul is of the substance of God; at another, after having exalted it thus immoderately and impiously, he exceeds again in a different way, and treats it with insult, making it pass into swine and asses and other animals of yet less esteem than these" (Homilies on John 2:3, 6 [A.D. 391]).

Basil the Great
"[A]void the nonsense of those arrogant philosophers who do not blush to liken their soul to that of a dog, who say that they have themselves formerly been women, shrubs, or fish. Have they ever been fish? I do not know, but I do not fear to affirm that in their writings they show less sense than fish" (The Six Days’ Work 8:2 [A.D. 393]).

Thomas
 

wil

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Let's once and for all please stop this nonsense that Christianity taught or believed in reincarnation....The fact remains however that reincarnation was never taught by Jesus, the Apostles, the Fathers, nor the Church — were it so, it would have been taught explicitly.
It is my understanding that reincarnation was a common belief during the time of Jesus...

And I believe if it was to be denied it would have been denied explicitly.

Your indication that it should stop once and for all is for not, as it appears that it has been so pervasively discussed throughout Christianity that every century you could find a quote against it! Seems to me some mighty fine thinkers were arguing the other side of the coin all these years to get these folks so defensive.

What we resist persists...me thinks they protest too much.
 

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It is my understanding that reincarnation was a common belief during the time of Jesus...

Among the Greeks yes, but not among the Jews, or at least, not among those of Jewish orthodoxy.

The Wisdom Literature of the OT comprise some of the latests documents in the canon, I think the Book of Wisdom was just 100 years prior to Christ. Here we can read intimations of the immortality of the soul (or at least speculation about an alternative eschatology), rather than the sleep of Sheol, and trace the influence of Hellenism (the author of Wisdom was an Alexandrian Jew) — but nothing about reincarnation, the pre-existence of souls, etc., which is part and parcel of the package.

And I believe if it was to be denied it would have been denied explicitly.
If it was ever raised explicitly.

Your indication that it should stop once and for all is for not, as it appears that it has been so pervasively discussed throughout Christianity that every century you could find a quote against it! Seems to me some mighty fine thinkers were arguing the other side of the coin all these years to get these folks so defensive.
Everybody says that, but no-one produces any evidence.

The fact is that had it ever been an issue, it would have either been accepted or refuted in doctrine ... but as it has never been seriously mentioned by any Council of the Church, it was never a serious issue ... and the fact that the Fathers, from the 2nd century on, dismissed it as nothing to do with christian teaching, pretty well evidences the fact that it was never taught in any way by orthodoxy.

I know everyone would like it to be so, but it just ain't.

Thomas
 

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I know everyone would like it to be so, but it just ain't.
Everyone? many? or a few?

Most Jews I know don't speak much about afterlife, their focus is on this life. But over the years asking, most don't have an opinion about reincarnation...rejecting or accepting...some believe in it, some don't...again hereafter isn't a focus...
 

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Everyone? many? or a few?

Most Jews I know don't speak much about afterlife, their focus is on this life. But over the years asking, most don't have an opinion about reincarnation...rejecting or accepting...some believe in it, some don't...again hereafter isn't a focus...

Hardly a sound argument, is it?

If there is evidence of the discussion of the topic, bring it on ... otherwise it's all assumption without foundation.

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Actually, I'm reminded of the work of John Henry Newman.

He began writing a book as an Anglican vicar, called "The Development of Christian Doctrine" — he started it as an Anglican, and finished it as a Catholic.

Newman came to realise that if a Christian of the first centuries came to earth today, the only religion they would recognise is Catholicism, the others having changed so radically from what they believed. In that sense, Catholicism is 'aithentic' in that it hasn't been reinvented as time goes on, but remaind true to its initial foundation.

So, my response to this question:
"Re: Are we worshiping the same God ?"
is, if we're talking Christian denominations ... no we are not ... and the fact remains that the Christ that is 'common' today is not the Christ the Apostles, Disciples, or followers, knew, believed in or preached, but a 'Christ of the Enlightenment', reduced to a comfortable shadow by relativism, the Historical Critical method and sophistry.

Thomas
 

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Actually, I'm reminded of the work of John Henry Newman.

He began writing a book as an Anglican vicar, called "The Development of Christian Doctrine" — he started it as an Anglican, and finished it as a Catholic.

Newman came to realise that if a Christian of the first centuries came to earth today, the only religion they would recognise is Catholicism, the others having changed so radically from what they believed. In that sense, Catholicism is 'aithentic' in that it hasn't been reinvented as time goes on, but remaind true to its initial foundation.

So, my response to this question:
"Re: Are we worshiping the same God ?"
is, if we're talking Christian denominations ... no we are not ... and the fact remains that the Christ that is 'common' today is not the Christ the Apostles, Disciples, or followers, knew, believed in or preached, but a 'Christ of the Enlightenment', reduced to a comfortable shadow by relativism, the Historical Critical method and sophistry.

Thomas
I love your knowledge Thomas, but give me a break! I don't hold a candle to your book learning and education, but you've got to get out man! It is absolutely wonderful that you love your denomination, but the my way or the high way arrogance is absolutely incredible.
Newman came to realise that if a Christian of the first centuries came to earth today, the only religion they would recognise is Catholicism, the others having changed so radically from what they believed
Surely this isn't the only author that states that...I'll bet there is an evangelical, a Baptist, a Jewish, a Methodist.....authors that all feel the same way....and ministers, preachers of all denominations...surely you don't think Catholics have a corner on the market 'we are right and you are wrong'....

Started out Anglican and ended up Catholic....right here on these boards we have a Christian who in her research ended up Muslim, we had another one who started out Amish and ended up progressive Christian....both through research and soul searching...it happens, folks change and grow and find something that suits them.

Thomas if we are not worshiping the same G!d then you must be a polytheist there must be other gods that we are worshiping....

Catholicism suits HIM, it suits YOU, it doesn't suit the rest of the world and not everyone buys the Popes we are the only one and true religion, just like not everyone bought John Paul's statement about followers of other faiths being in heaven.

Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in our midst and Paul spoke of Christ in you and have in you the mind that Christ had.... Seems to me that was early Christianity... And do I think that the early Christians would recognize all the saints to hang around ones neck, the rosary, the statuary, the celibacy, the big hats, the huge churches, the call and response, the Eucharist? You know I just don't think so...but I admit, I could be wrong.
 
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