Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bhagavad-Gita, the Bible: grief and being human



My final religious studies class was World Religions. I have in the past written about my teacher who was a Wiccan and taught all religions from an eastern slant. She was not a religious studies teacher by profession but headed the Women’s Studies department. We did become friends as I endured her ‘blessed be’ at the end of every class and she endured my evangelical outlook. But realizing I was not going to really receive the teaching I needed on world religions I threw up my hands and spent the rest of my semester exploring, in papers, the difference between Christianity and other world religions.

One of the papers I wrote was entitled, “The Bhagavad-Gita, The New Testament: Grief and Being Human.”

Here is the paper slightly redone including a change in the title:

Both the Bhagavad-Gita and the Bible deal with grief. (1) An emotion that is common among humans. One sacred book affirms grief as an important part of being human, while the other book suggests that grief misleads and directs people away from reality. Exploring both the Bhagavad-Gita and the Bible allows the reader to understand which sacred text affirms people in their humanity.

The negative influence of grief in the Bhagavad-Gita is expressed by Arjuna who, while facing a huge battle, dialogues with Krishna, one of the manifestations of Vishnu and Arjuna’s charioteer. Arjuna expresses his desire not to fight. He is concerned that he will be killing “fathers, and grandfathers, teachers, uncles, sons, brothers, grandsons, father-in-law, dear friends, and many other familiar faces.” (31) Arjuna gives as his argument not only the pain of killing loved ones but also devastation, vice, mixing of caste, and broken families.

Krishna’s reply to him, which sets the basis for the philosophical foundations of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the Gita’s form of renunciation. The Bhagavad-Gita completely sets aside the human act of grief. Krishna says, “Your words are wise, Arjuna, but your sorrow is for nothing. The truly wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead.” (38) And “Death is certain for the born. Rebirth [reincarnation] is certain for the dead. You should not grieve for what is unavoidable.” (38)

His statements are based on the viewpoint, “that which is non-existent can never come into being, and that which is can never cease to be. Those who have known the innermost Reality know also the nature of is and is not.” (36)Here ‘is not’ is the universe; ‘is’ is the one the only reality. The Atman is reality, the one, Brahman within the illusion of the universe including humanity.

According to the Bhagavad-Gita it doesn’t matter which path one takes to realize the Atman within; it may be the “yoga of right action” or contemplation. The important point is that the seeker understands the identity of the Atman as Brahman. Krishna emphasized the monistic world view when he stated “Who sees the separate/lives of all creatures/united in Brahman/brought forth from Brahman/Himself finds Brahman/not subject to change/Is the infinite Atman/without beginning/beyond the gunas [three material strands that define personality].” (105) In other words the Brahman is the same as the Atman, and the world that the Atman operates within is not real but illusion.

While Krishna is pictured as a personal deity, and the followers of Krishna are encouraged toward a more active devotional life (the Bhakti Marga tradition) there is still the view of the non-importance and non-reality of the material world which marks most of the variations of Eastern thought. This allows for a strong development of ethics for the sake of moksha, that is, the realization of Atman as Brahman. But it also destroys the personal emotions of the individual. If one is forgiving and contented, it is also because the individual has not been hurt by the other, nor has he hurt the other. All of that is simply an illusion.

For example, Krishna tells Arjuna, Dream not you do/ The deed of the killer/ Dream not the power/ Is yours to command it.” (37)

The New Testament letter written by Paul to the Thessalonians states, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who sleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (1 Thess. 4:13-14)”

This was not a rebuke, but a word of comfort to those Paul knew had “received the word in much tribulation.” The early Christians had grief but not without hope, and that hope had a great deal to do with the resurrection of the body. In fact, Jesus wept as he stood at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and then he called Lazarus from the tomb.

Paul also wrote to the Corinthian Church, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7: 10)” Because of a worldview that not only posits God as personal and loving, but also as a God who created the universe as a reality out of nothing, the material world has importance. Grief over sin and death is allowed since it is real sin and real loss. The grief only becomes useless when the person experiencing it refuses to turn toward God for gifts, that is, the gift of forgiveness and life. Humans experience grief and joy as reality.

The Bhagavad-Gita only affirms the one, Brahman. All else is illusion. It does not affirm the reality of the universe nor the relationships that promote shared emotions among people. It offers several Eastern ways of moksha, the most important being Bhaki Marga, the way of devotion. And devotion implies detachment from all human emotion. Yet, the goal of such devotion is a loss of distinction between the individual and the one. All but the one reality is erased including the individual.

On the other hand, the Bible affirms not only the personal and transcendent Lord, but the reality of the universe and the distinction of creature from creator. Grief is treated as an important human emotion and belongs not only to humanity but also to the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ.

1.For this I have used, Bhagavad-Gita: The Song of God, Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, Intro, Aldous Huxley, paperback edition(A Mentor Book, New American Library 1972)

39 comments:

John Shuck said...

Hey Viola,

Happy New Year!

In an amazing coincidence, you made a post on the Gita at the same time I made a post about my congregation reading the Gita cover to cover in 2010! Check Gita and Jive.

I have a couple of questions (with no right or wrong answers from my point of view).

1) So what might you be able to appreciate and take from the Gita to enhance your theology, ethics, and compassion?

2) What might those who follow the Gita and those who follow the Bible create together?

Those two questions are the reason I am doing this exercise!

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

John said...

Oh dear!

There you go again.

I have offered a response to this post and John Shuck's post at Gita and Jive and The John A Wilde Blog.

I am an advocate of discovering and appreciating wisdom in all kinds of places and the Bhagavad Gita is definitely one of those places.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

John said...

Great questions, John.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Mohandas Gandhi

Viola Larson said...

John & John: )

This is for both of you. The Bhagavad-Gita has many similiar words to those in the Bible but their meanings are all different. There is an awe about God that appears to be the same- but even that turns out to be different. C.S. Lewis in his book Miracles writes about Christianity and panthism being the two great differences that face each other. That is a good book you should both read it.

Writing about those differences he concludes:

An 'impersonal God' - well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our heads- better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap- best of all. But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband-that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the childen who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ("God's search for man"!)suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that ! Worse still, supposing He had found us?"

We can all work together on what is moral and good as humanity.
Viola Larson,
Sacramento Ca

John Shuck said...

I appreciate the psychology of the Gita. I compared it in a sermon to Paul's letter to the Philippians. Being able to distinguish the self from the circumstances, senses, emotions, etc. is truly liberating and enables us to fully embrace life. I have incorporated much of the philosophy of the BG in my Christian faith.

JS
Eliz., TN

Viola Larson said...

John,
I think you may be missing the point that the Self is Atman which is Brahman and all else is illusion. Not real. You strike me as someone very much into nature, etc. and a anti-supernaturalism so I find it interesting that you like the psychology of the Gita.

John Shuck said...

Viola,

You are putting to fine a point on it. The Gita (like the Bible) can be appreciated from a number of different levels. As with anything, take what is helpful, leave what isn't, and create something new.

I am using this wonderful stanza from the first chapter in worship:

The abstinent run away from what they desire
But carry their desires with them:
When they enter Reality,
They leave their desires behind them.

You could spend a lot of sermons on that!

Blessings,
John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Viola Larson said...

John in that section how do you interpret Reality and how is it that they are able to leave their desires behind?

I always try to put a fine point on what others write, in particular about their beliefs. I feel that is the only way to be respectful to other peoples' beliefs. But then I don't accept the post-modern viewpoint that the author has no say in what they have written.

John Shuck said...

how do you interpret Reality

That is a big question! I am thinking in terms of being able to distinguish oneself from one's senses, emotions, desires. It is more than running away from or suppressing, but of letting go.

How does it happen? Read the rest of the Gita. Meditate. Live 10,000 more lives. I don't know.

But even a partial experience of liberation is helpful. We can have some mastery over our senses.

I took a course in Buddhism by Dr. Charles Ryerson at Princeton. Ryerson, an orthodox Christian, told us that he appreciated and found helpful the teaching of non-attachment when his parents had died. He didn't identify as a Buddhist or a Hindu. He identified as a Christian, yet he found this teaching useful and incorporated it into his life.

That is my question to you that I asked at the beginning. Is there anything of value in the Gita you can take and incorporate into your life?

Or is the Gita for you simply wrong and something that needs to be proven wrong and inferior to your beliefs?

I don't know what you mean by postmodern.

Yes, we should try to understand the texts we are studying in light of their historical, philosophical, and literary setting. Whether this be the Gita or the Bible.

Furthermore, cosmologies change over time and so the interpreter's world always comes into play.

Neither you or I believe in the cosmology of the Bible. The authors were wrong, not because they weren't smart, but because we know more about the universe than they did. That doesn't mean what they wrote doesn't have value. We are always interpreting.

To summarize:

When I said you are putting too fine a point on it, it was a polite way of saying you are being too wooden and simplistic. You aren't getting it.

I am not getting it either, but your dismissive tone toward one of the most ancient and revered philosophies of humankind is less than charitable and incorrect.

Read the end of the Gita. What does Arjuna do? He engages life. He does his duty.

There is beautiful, powerful stuff there. You know me by now. I am a materialist. A philosophical naturalist. I don't believe in reincarnations or resuscitated corpses, three-tiered universes, messiahs returning on clouds, or blue-skinned deities on a literal level. I see these stories as artistic creations that point to the human quest for self-understanding and for understanding of the world in which we have found ourselves.

But that doesn't mean I don't find value in them. I take from them what I can.

Blessings,
John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Viola Larson said...

John before I write anything else. I have to say that I don’t think very many orthodox Christians would consider Dr. Ryerson orthodox. That is not to say they wouldn’t consider him a Christian, they just wouldn’t agree with some of his positions including this one:

"I am an incarnationalist. Christ is present, risen, and working in the world. The Christian task is to try to discern in humility and faith what Christ is doing in a given context. If a Hindu converts, it is the Holy Spirit, it is not me or the church. I know God through Christ, but I think others can know God in other ways. I couldn’t be a Christian if I didn’t think Christ was somehow involved in Hinduism."

I would agree with the first part of that but not the part about people knowing God in other ways or Christ being involved in Hinduism. I think most orthodox Christians would agree with me.

There are several things that I take from the Gita. It is literature that has shaped millions of peoples’ belief system. I should take it seriously. It has beautiful language but it is important that I understand what its words mean to those who hold it sacred. That doesn’t mean I should agree with it but I should respect it for what it is. How could I possibly speak to a Hindu about their religion if I do not take them seriously? How can I speak about Jesus Christ to them if I don’t understand what they believe?

“Yes, we should try to understand the texts we are studying in light of their historical, philosophical, and literary setting.”

You are jumping from seeing something contextually to using something by taking it and reinterpreting it according to your own belief system. And by that I mean you are taking the concept of Reality from the classical Hindu understanding which is the One the only unchanging thing that exists and making it a western concept which includes only the material universe. You are taking the idea of non-attachment and making it a means of releasing grief, etc. when for the Hindu it is recognition that nothing material is, including emotions or good and evil.

I think the Christian must affirm that there is pain and suffering, good and evil and then tell the good news of Jesus Christ who has overcome death and sin.

John Shuck said...

I have to say that I don’t think very many orthodox Christians would consider Dr. Ryerson orthodox.

OK. I have given up long ago trying to discern the mystery of what it takes to get involved in your orthodox group. A pretty small gathering it appears.

I appreciate what you take from the Gita as far as it goes. You tolerate it and want to understand it so you can convert people to your version of Jesus. What about for its own sake? Anything good and true in it that you can incorporate?

You claim to know a lot about what Hindus believe. It isn't like that. They are different as Christians are different, me from you, for example.

You are taking the illusion thing too far. Remember Arjuna did his duty.

Viola Larson said...

I know that Hinduism has variations but I am writing about classical monistic Hinduism. At the popular level many Hindus simply believe in millions of gods. There are even Hindu nationalists. They are the ones, for the most part, who are persecuting Christians in India.

And I think opening up the conversation to about how your 'Christianity' is different than mine is amost danerous: -)

Viola Larson said...

"You are taking the illusion thing too far. Remember Arjuna did his duty."

Arjuna did his duty because he wasn't really killing. Plus a lot more of course.

Doug Hagler said...

"There are even Hindu nationalists. They are the ones, for the most part, who are persecuting Christians in India."

The only thing crazier would be Christian nationalists.

I think that your respective hermeneutics, Viola and John, remain mutually unintelligible even when applied to things outside Christianity.

Am I crazy that I agree with both Lewis and Ryerson as mentioned in this discussion? Probably. I just believe, personally, that the alive God pulling on the other side of the string, the footsteps on the stairs, the one who might even find us, is bigger than anyone's orthodoxy.

At least, that is my hope. If not, then God is just another god, and there are plenty of those to go around.

John Shuck said...

OK,

Back to the original post. It could be a coincidence, but I am guessing you wrote this post in response to the post I made saying our congregation is reading the BG.
That is why I decided to come over and say, Hi.

Your post from what I gather is that the Bible is better and more true that the BG and that your version of Christianity is better and more true than whatever it is you think Hinduism is.

Fine.

I know you don't think I am a Christian. I don't care. I find your version of Christianity rather unpalatable. Yet even so, I find some of the things you write on occasion to be quite lovely and true. I like C.S. Lewis. I read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over when I was a kid and to my kids when they were growing up. (Although, I do find it tiresome to see him brought out to defend Christian exclusivism again and again. That is what I found least attractive about him).

Back to the topic:

I don't think one needs to embrace the entire philosophy of another to find a nugget of truth and value in it. This goes for individuals in conversation with one another and for theological and/or mythical texts.

I also personally think that human beings do need to find areas of common ground (thanks John Wilde) and this includes the humility to be changed by the person very different from us.

Regardless of how right we think we are, we have to create a future together with each other. It is unlikely (outside of ugly, brutal force) that others are going to submit to our way of thinking.

I might suggest that the biggest difference between you and I, Viola, is that you regard religion as a zero sum game. In other words, religion is either right or wrong, true or untrue, good or evil.

Religions (outside of yours) are false doctrines that need correction and conversion. Other religious expressions whether Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, or progressive Christianity fundamentally need refuting.

I tend to think all religion is both/and. All of our religious beliefs are right and wrong, true and untrue, good and evil. I am in no desire to convert people to my religion although I am interested in arguing for my opinion. : )

Ultimately, I am about human beings living together peacefully (at least enough so that our descendants can live). To do that, incorporating wisdom from wherever it can be found can help us.

Again, I have found aspects of the BG to be helpful in this.

Blessings,
John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Viola Larson said...

Okay, Doug,
I give up-I won’t clean house today!

I believe the God pulling on the strings is bigger than orthodoxy also. But God has given us his word and his revelation of himself. That is enough. We are not four blind men all finding different parts of the elephant. God has revealed what he wants us to know about himself and I don’t believe it is found anywhere but in Jesus Christ and the word of God. That non-personal force that we want to use is a personal God who has entered his world.

sfauthor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...

To be honest John, it was your posting that sparked my memory of the paper I had written. I went looking for it and then thought I would use it for a posting. If I had wanted to aim it at you I would have linked to you and mentioned you. I do know how to do that: 0

Of course my view is that the Bible is God’s word. That does not mean that there is not truth in other ideologies, faiths, religions, etc. I believe that saying that all truth is God’s truth. But the very core teachings of classical monistic Hinduism stand in exact opposition to the most basic biblical truths. As C. S. Lewis puts it:

“Pantheism is in fact the permanent natural bent of the human mind; the permanent ordinary level below which man sometimes sinks, under the influence of priestcraft and superstition, but above which his own unaided efforts can never raise him for long. Platonism and Judaism, and Christianity (which has incorporated both) have proved the only things capable of resisting it. It is the attitude into which the human mind automatically falls when left to itself. No wonder we find it congenial. If ‘religion’ means simply what man says about God, and not what God does about man, then Pantheism is religion.”

I believe the common ground that humanity has is that they are created in the image of God. That alone is enough if we understand that the image of God in humanity is to be respected and nurtured.

Pastor Bob said...

An old philosophy joke that might apply to the subject at hand:

The final examine came in the philosophy. The professor has placed a chair at the front of the room. The final exam has only one question: "Prove the chair at the front of the room exists."

One student wrote her name of the front of the exam booklet and two words inside. She turned her booklet in to the professor and walked out. Inside the booklet it said, "What chair?" The student, for course get's an A.

Alternate ending: the same student turned in her booklet with the two words in it and headed for the door. She tripped over the chair. She received an F.

Vital human question: does the universe exist if I say it doesn't?

Viola Larson said...

Bob
A true story. I once had a Chinese Philosophy professor who said he had a student turn in a mostly blank paper on a test with only the sentence that he had experienced Samadhi (absorption into ultimate reality)while taking the test. The Professor failed him.

I like your stories they make a good point. I will take common sense philosophy over metaphysical skepticism any day.

John Shuck said...

But the very core teachings of classical monistic Hinduism stand in exact opposition to the most basic biblical truths.

Only on the surface. You aren't looking deep enough.

You had it right earlier:

We can all work together on what is moral and good as humanity.

That is our deepest and most important truth.

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

reformedpastor said...

Vital human question: does the universe exist if I say it doesn't?

Even more vital question: who says YOU exist?

Final exam answer: "What Bob?" :-)

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

You are all beginning to sound like you need Bishop Berkeley.

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."

"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God."

However, I don't think I agree with even Berkeley on this.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

In Bhagavad-Gita Lord SriKrishna says to Arjuna:
“I taught this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan (sun-god), Vivasvan conveyed it to Manu(his son), and Manu imparted it to (his son) Iksvaku. Thus transmitted to succession from father to son, Arjuna, this Yoga remained known to the Rajarisis (royal sages). It has however long since disappeared from this earth. The same ancient Yoga has this day been imparted to you by Me, because you are My devotee and friend, and also because this is a supreme secret”.
At this Arjuna said: You are of recent origin while the birth of Vivasvan dates back to remote antiquity. How, then, I am to believe that you taught this Yoga at the beginning of creation? Lord SriKrishna said: Arjuna, you and I have passed through many births. I remember them all, you do not remember.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Radha Soami Faith was founded by His Holiness Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj on the prayer of His Holiness Huzur Maharaj who later on became second Spiritual Head of Radha Soami Faith. The prime object of the Radha Soami Faith is the emancipation of all Jeevas (Souls) i.e. to take the entire force of consciousness to its original abode. There is a tradition of succession of Gurus or Spiritual Adepts in Radha Soami Faith. I am one of them as is evident from the following facts or ….

“My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state. HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith.

Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”

Viola Larson said...

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

I see from my feed that you are writing from India. Perhaps you do not undersand that a blog is meant as a place where the subject posted on the front page is what is discussed. It is not a place to promote your self-although I do hope you will write about what you believe.

But let me ask you what do you know about Jesus and who is he to you?

Besides that question what does absorption mean to you. Is that the end of individuality. Or does my question not make any sense to you. But please do tell me what are your opinions about Jesus?

Pastor Bob said...

David

If there is no Bob then why are you talking with me? :)

reformedpastor said...

LOL!

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Viola Larson

If Lord Christ had Wished to reincarnate, Almighty Lord definitely fulfill His Will. Nobody can raise any doubt.

Viola Larson said...

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi,

I am glad to see your affirmation of the will of Jesus Christ. But I have the feeling that you do not quite understand what the incarnation means for Christians. It means more than just a manifestation of God. It means that the eternal Son took on real human flesh and lived with humanity. As our Bible text puts it:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth.”

That means that the Son of God became a baby in Mary’s womb and was born and lived and died and was brought back to life. Not reincarnation (because we believe the material world is real). Jesus who the Bible teaches is both God and human is still human and will return to be physically with us someday. He is the Lord.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

It's true Viola Larson. Either in the case of rebirth or in case of reincarnation the soul has to assume human body of flesh/bones etc.

Viola Larson said...

But is that flesh an illusion or a created reality?

Debbie said...

John Shuck says to Viola, "Religions (outside of yours) are false doctrines that need correction and conversion. Other religious expressions whether Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, or progressive Christianity fundamentally need refuting."

This is a very uncharitable way of saying that Viola believes that Christianity is true, and that when other people propose different beliefs, she shows why she believes Christianity is true instead of those beliefs. It's not an active busybody "these things 'need' to be refuted" attitude, which is Shuck's uncharitable viewpoint. If you (or others) are going to attack her beliefs, then let her defend them and criticize other proposals, without criticizing her for doing so. This would include her blog postings that are in essence defenses of her beliefs against denominational and cultural attitudes/events.

If a person believes in something, that person doesn't just sit back and let people steamroller over it. That's quite different from being a busybody and thinking "I gratuitously need to refute this and I gratuitously need to refute that."

Mac said...

The small snippet on postmodernism holds a small key to a potentially large door on this fascinating discussion.

Forst, postmodernism is misunderstood because it is seen as a new philosphy rather than what it largely it: a reaction/rejection of the arrogance of Modernity. As pirmary a reaction it has not that much to sayin a formative way 9which it is why it lends itself to deconstruction rather than construction.

Rather than react to that the deeper questions seem to be what has ben rejected and where do we go from here...what come next?

On the issue at hand the pluralism under Modernity was largely reductionist at best...reucing each traditon to their lowest common denominators, most often ethics, or some sort of variation on Jospeh Campbell's noble but ultimately misguided attempt for synthesize quite diverse ideas and world-vies into some coe narrative.

As well intentioned as Campbell's attempt was, it did violence to each tradition by reducing true distinctions.

The opportunity that Postmodernism presents with the vacuum that it has left (which will become more and more apparent in the next ten years...about the time average folk begin to get a sense of what it is) is what I call "Depth Pluralism" (yes, copyright Mac 2001), The dieas being that we reduce no tradition but instead allow each faith or non-faith tradition to be as vibrantly what it is. Then we look for both connection and distinction. Both are sen clerly for rhwt they are within which Merton called a "climate of mercy" (unless of course we invite the Huns in with spears,...that could be messy...perhaps they enter the dialog via speaker phone.

No reduction or glossing over. True connection or honest pairing say Christian theology with some Buddhist practice for example...eyt admitted as the dalai Lama has written that there is true diversion in other areas.

main deal is everything gets to be what it is fully. No dilution or forced syncretism.

Of course i have more to say in an upcoming article..but it seemed applicable here.

bet to all

Viola Larson said...

This is a comment that an old friend, Chris (Mac) Mcdonald tried to place on this posting and was unable to, I am doing it for him.

"The small snippet on postmodernism holds a small key to a potentially large door
on this fascinating discussion.

First, postmodernism is misunderstood because it is seen as a new philosophy
rather than what it largely it: a reaction/rejection of the arrogance of
Modernity. As primary a reaction it has not that much to say in a formative way
(which it is why it lends itself to deconstruction rather than construction).

Rather than react to that the deeper questions seem to be what has been rejected
and where do we go from here...what come next?

On the issue at hand the pluralism under Modernity was largely reductionist at
best...reducing each tradition to their lowest common denominators, most often
ethics, or some sort of variation on Joseph Campbell's noble but ultimately
misguided attempt for synthesize quite diverse ideas and world-vies into some
core narrative.

As well intentioned as Campbell's attempt was, it did violence to each tradition
by reducing true distinctions.

The opportunity that Postmodernism presents with the vacuum that it has left
(which will become more and more apparent in the next ten years...about the time
average folk begin to get a sense of what it is) is what I call "Depth
Pluralism" (yes, copyright Mac 2001), The ideas being that we reduce no
tradition but instead allow each faith or non-faith tradition to be as vibrantly
what it is. Then we look for both connection and distinction. Both are seen
clearly for what they are within what Merton called a "climate of mercy" (unless
of course we invite the Huns in with spears...that could be messy...perhaps they
enter the dialog via speaker phone).

No reduction or glossing over. True connection or honest pairing. Like Christian
theology with some Buddhist practice (a nautrual practice that is almost an
antidote to commercialized Christendom) for example...yet admitted as the Dalai
Lama has written that there is true diversion in other main areas.

Main deal is everything gets to be what it is fully. No dilution or forced
syncretism.

Of course I have more to say in an upcoming article...but it seemed applicable
here.

Grace
Mac"

In Love With Krishna said...

Um...this is a bit late for comment, but i found your blog when googling for bhagavad gita.
You say that the Bhagavad Gita recognizes only the Brahman, or the Lord's effulgence.
I'd say you have been reading either the wrong verses there (or out of context), or have been reading a misinterpretation of the same (it's quite possible for many people to derive different meanings of the same verse, especially in a language of sanskrit)
i am sorry if this sounds critical in any way of your post, but the Bhagavad Gita is one of the foremost books to say that the Lord exists in His personal form, and that the Brahman is but His effulgence.
He says- "Those who desire Brahman, go there, ....and those who desire me, eventually come unto Me"
He also banishes talks of the world originating from Brahman by showing His vishwaroopa form to Arjuna.
The Impersonalist form of worshipping God, is in more ways than one, "a way of seeking liberation, (just that), from the repeated cycle of birth and death."
But, ultimately, Krishna, in the BG, speaks to Arjuna, and just asks us to surrender.
He does describe various yogas, but then He says, clearly so, that it would be right to worship His personal form, but not His Impersonal form (sorry, i can't quote verbatim)

Viola Larson said...

In Love with Krishna, some interesting and of course different thoughts. I don't have time to dialogue to day because my thoughts are not there. But I intend to come back and answer you in a few days. Thanks for responding to my posting.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Viola

But is that flesh an illusion or a created reality?

The flesh is reality.

Viola Larson said...

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi,
Could you be a little more clear, it has been several years since I wrote this. Are you speaking of the flesh of Jesus Christ as reality which is true, or of all human flesh or something else?