The Eastern Worldview, Karma and Natural Disasters

I came across an article on the Cold Case Christianity website titled “Where is God During Natural Disasters“, and it got me thinking about how other worldviews address this question.

Cold Case Christianity
They may not deal specifically with God, but how do they address the loss of life, pain and suffering that happen from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Would they call it EVIL?

EVERYONE needs to be able to offer an answer to this question because EVERYONE has a worldview whether they realize it or not. Christians and atheists debate this subject, but what about Hindus or those from an Eastern worldview?

Image result for path to shiva

The Himalayan Academy has an interesting book called “The Path to Siva – A Catechism for Youth” that addresses various subjects including natural disasters, evil and its ties to karma. As the name implies, it was written to “inspire youth to know and follow that venerable way of wisdom embodied in the Saiva Siddhanta traditions of South India and Sri Lanka.”  Let’s see what it says.

The law that causes an object to fall to the Earth we call gravity. The law that governs the reaction of thoughts, words and deeds we call karma. It is an automatic system of divine justice. By this law, what we sow, we will reap…Gurudeva said, “You are the writer of your own destiny, the master of your ship through life.”…Karma applies not only to individuals but to groups, communities and nations. [“What is Karma”, Number 31]

In the highest sense, there is no good or bad. God did not create evil as a force distinct from good. He granted to souls the divine laws of dharma and karma along with the freedom to act as they wish in the great ocean of experience…As Saivites, we do not see a sharp contrast of good and evil in the world. [“What About Evil, Hell and Sin?”, Number 25]

Each soul is created by God Siva from Himself. Siva’s nature is pure love. So, goodness, compassion, understanding and joy are natural qualities of the soul.. Since God is everywhere and in all things, there can be no place for evil. Evil is often looked upon as a force against God. But we know that all forces are God’s forces, even mean, hurtful actions...Yes, bad things do happen. Still, the wise never blame God, for they know such things are the return of our self-created karmas, tough lessons that help us learn and mature…Knowing this, the wise accept suffering from any source, be it hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, famine, wars, disease or
personal tragedies. [“Are Souls and World Essentially Good?”, Number 24]

These are some interesting and I would say foreign beliefs to many people. If you read anything about karma it is usually stated as a “divine law“, “a science” or something similar. As stated above, it is “an automatic system of divine justice“.  Hmmm…how does this exactly work?

Q: If karma is an impersonal law, like the law of gravity how can it mete out justice?

Q: If justice can be meted out, how is it really just when the vast majority of people have no memory of what they did to cause themselves to be in the painful situation they are experiencing?

This would be analogous to the police showing up to your house unannounced with a search warrant, arresting you and putting you into jail for the rest of your life and not telling you what you did to deserve your punishment.

Q: How is justice meted the first time you enter onto the wheel of samsara? What would you have done for example to be born a dalit/untouchable or an animal?

Based on the Hindu/Eastern pantheistic worldview, if ALL IS GOD and GOD IS ALL then there is no distinction between good and evil. If you say something is EVIL, then you are saying God or the Ultimate Reality is EVIL which a person can’t do if they are to be consistent.  This is exactly what is acknowledged above in the Path to Shiva book. So if God isn’t part of the equation, it has to be your own doing and the return of your own negative karma that has caused the condition you are in.

Image result for garuda purana

The Garuda Purana is one of eighteen Mahapurana texts in Hinduism, and many chapters are a dialogue between Vishnu and his bird mount Garuda. Some of the dialogue is as follows:

Garuda it is most difficult to get human birth among all these births. This human birth is most sacred of all births…Holding these it is the human birth that is most exalted. In that human birth there are Brahmins, kshatriyas, vaisikas and sudra, thus four sects of people.

Among the humans too the Brahmin life still exalted. Among the Brahmin persons, the one who are involved in the studies of Vedas and understanding of the puranas lead a better life in comparison to one’s leading mundane lives getting embroiled in day to day living and squabbles…it is the human birth which leads to swarga and getting mukthi.

The Garuda Purana also provides details on the fate of those who commit various sins and earn negative karma.

Those who, self-indulgent, do not worship Siva, Sivâ, Hari, Sûrya, Ganesa, the wise, and the good teachers,–these certainly go to hell.

the murderer of a virgin becomes leprous…who steals a book-is born blind…who steals food becomes a rat; who steals grain becomes a locust

The pupil who does not serve his teacher becomes an animal,–an ass or a cow.

Who hates mother, father and teacher, who quarrels with sister and brother, is destroyed when an embryo in the womb, even for a thousand births

The stealer of gold attains the condition of a worm, an insect and a bird

These and other signs and births, O Lord of Birds, are seen to be the karma of the embodied, made by themselves in this world. Thus the makers of bad karma, having experienced the tortures of hell, are born with the residues of their sins, in these stated forms. Then, obtaining for thousands of lives the bodies of animals, they suffer from carrying burdens and other miseries. Having experienced as a bird the misery of cold, rain and heat, he afterwards reaches the human state, when the good and evil are balanced.

Karma which has been made, whether good or evil, must inevitably be suffered. Karma not suffered does not fade away even in tens of millions of ages.

 

Image result for karma and diseases sivananda

According to Swami Sivananda, the diseases we suffer from the birth  are all products of actions done by us in previous times. See the table below for some of the diseases one is said to get based on specific negative karmic actions in previous lives.

Karma Diseases
Who insults others, breaks promises, causes great disappointment to another, deprives one of his property, disgraces others in public Gets mental agony and pain.
Who plugs up or blocks up the hole of a rat or a snake, who catches fish and causes them to die by suffocation, who stifles the life of any creature Gets Asthma, lung diseases, pleurisy, bronchitis (severe), pneumonia, etc.
Who indulges with prostitutes, commits adultery, and leads an impure life Gets leprosy.

 

Who casts lustful look on women, who eyes others’ property, whose heart burns at others’ well-being, who visits nautch-parties Gets permanent eye-diseases.
Who is hypocritic, who under the guise of goodness and virtue continuously torments others with petty tyranny, who constantly ill-treats, beats and deals harshly with little children Gets bad itches and skin diseases.
Lawyers and advocates who twist truth and falsehood in court-cases Get colour-blindness, saint vitus’s dance, squint-eye and cataract; are born with a deformed body and afflicted with loss of memory.
Cruel doctors who ill-treat patients, and give worthless medicines charging high rates, who inject aqua and charge high fees, Are born as women and have womb-disease. Their conceptions and delivery will be attended by severe complication, pain and will mostly result in abortion
Who torture people in prisons Will be born cripples and paralytic and will suffer from chronic nervous pains and rheumatic troubles.
Capitalists who extract forced labour from workers, and pay them very low wages in factories, etc., Suffer from Asthma, great suffocation, and tumour in the brain with unbearable pain, and will also become subject to gout, rheumatism, lumbago and hunch back

 

Image result for karma the ancient science of cause and effect

In the book “Karma – The Ancient Science of Cause and Effect“, Jeffrey Armstrong gives more details about how this system of divine justice actually works. It’s interesting he uses the word “science” when talking about karma. On page 10 of the book he says, “We initiate an action and at a certain time in the future, we reap the fruit of our deeds…’As you sow, so you shall reap.’ Karma is the science of our actions and their outcomes.”  This is a mere assertion that karma is a “science” and is nowhere substantiated in the book.

Mr. Armstrong describes our existence here on earth as being in a park gaining different experiences along the way.  There are also mandatory park rules that need to be followed, and the key players in the operation of the park are divine beings or “gods” called “devas” or “devis“.  These gods have power over and manage certain departments or forces of nature analogous to someone being in charge of the water department, electricity, gas, etc.  As Mr. Armstrongs says:

The devas are crucial to the understanding of karma, since they are the delivery system for our long-forgotten parcels of karma...everything we do creates a stream of karma packets, letters, and packages with out names on them, which is constantly being “returned to sender.”

So using the delivery system analogy, the devas make sure humans are held accountable for their actions by making sure they receive the effects of their karma. In order for this delivery system to work efficiently,

the many souls in the park have to be brought together again and again in various situations in order to pay back debts to each other…the devas sometimes need to control our actions in order to position us next to someone with whom we have old karma to pay or receive…All of the inexplicable and unavoidable coincidences, accidents, or enforced circumstances in our lived are the actions of the devic air traffic control department.

So everything that happens to you, good or bad, is a result of karma you have sown. So for example, if you get into a car accident why would you sue the person who hit you? You are only receiving your deserved parcel of karma from the devas. To interfere with the just distribution of your karma would appear to generate more negative karma for you.

Image result for The science of karma dadashri

The book “The Science of Karma” by Pujya Dadashri is written as a series of questions from a Questioner to Mr. Dadashri.  Hmmm….there is the word “science” used with karma to try to lend some sense of credibility.  Below is an exchange about how karma is managed and controlled. Let’s see if the answer agrees with that given by Mr. Armstrong in his book. Is there a contingent of devas managing and orchestrating the karmic delivery system?

Questioner: So who manages all this?

Dadashri: The rules of karma are such that when you create karma, the result will come naturally and automatically.

Questioner: Who decides the fruits of karmas we have to experience? Who makes us experience these?

Dadashri: They do not need to be decided. The karma itself does this. It happens on its own.

Questioner: Then who governs the rules of karma?

Dadashri: When two atoms of Hydrogen and one of Oxygen come together, we automatically get water. That is the rule of karma.

Questioner: But somebody must have made that rule?

Dadashri: Nobody makes the rules; otherwise there would be a creator. Nobody has to make the rules. This puzzle has come about on its own governed by the laws of science…this world is run only by Scientific Circumstantial Evidences.

Dadashri: If someone were needed to deliver karma-fruits, then he would have to have a gigantic office. Everything runs scientifically. There is no need for a middleman. When the time is up for maturation of karma, it automatically comes into effect. Just like these mangoes that ripen automatically. (pgs. 37-38)

He further states the effects of karma and who is responsible:

The existence of bondage lies entirely on you, you are responsible for it. Everything is your own projection…Everything you encounter is your own design; nobody else is responsible for it. For endless lives, you have been responsible, “wholly and solely.” (pg. 17 & 18)

The responsibility is your own. You are wholly and solely responsible. When a person gets shot, he is suffering the effect of his past life’s karma. (pg. 23)

Karma requires time to come into fruition; for some people it may take five hundred to even a thousand years to mature. (pg. 37)

From the above we see that Mr. Dadashri contradicts what is stated by Mr. Armstrong as to how the whole karmic delivery system works. As he says “There is no need for a middleman (i.e. devas).  Who is correct? How is any of this scientific?

Let’s recap what has been stated by proponents of the concept of karma:

  1. Everything you encounter is your own design. You are wholly and solely responsible. What you sow you will reap
  2. The devas control various forces or departments of nature (i.e. hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.)
  3. The devas control the delivery of your parcels of karma
  4. The devas bring people together in order to pay back karmic debt
  5. The devas don’t control the delivery of your parcels of karma. The results of karma will come naturally and automatically. There is no need for a middleman (i.e. devas)
  6. When a person gets shot, he is suffering the effect of his past life’s karma.
  7. knowing such things are the return of our self-created karmas, the wise accept suffering from any source, be it hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, famine, wars, disease or personal tragedies

 

In an article titled “There is no Injustice” taken from a theosophy website it says:

Madame Blavatsky has said in “The Secret Doctrine” that it is only this teaching of the Law of Karma that will ever satisfy the mind and heart of the intelligent and thinking person who seeks answers to such pertinent questions as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and “Why do disasters happen?” and “Why do some people suffer?” and so forth.

At some point, either earlier in the present lifetime or in a preceding lifetime, the person must have behaved in an unpleasant, harmful, negative, or inappropriate way, and committed what Buddhist teachings call “non-virtuous actions.” For every action, there must be and always will be a corresponding reaction at some future point…What we reap is what we have sown.

There is no Divine Being behind this Law of Universal Balance, Harmony, and Equilibrium. It is simply LAW, uncreated, eternal, and immutable, the Law inherent in the Universe. It just simply is

if we find any people particularly marked out for persecution, we may be sure that as egos in other times they had been the offenders and are reaping what they sowed…“There is no injustice. What we see as apparent injustice seems so because we do not see the causes which have produced the present ill effects.

Karma is the key-note to all conditions, for it governs the smallest atom as well as the highest spiritual being; it governs men, animals, worlds, and periods of evolution, in their individual actions and in their collective interactions.

Below are questions from a reader about the above article on the Theosophy website with a response.

Q: How does Karma explain the Holocaust and the millions of victims. Were these victims perhaps ALL former agents of the Inquisition or some other past madness?

Q: How about the hundreds of schoolgirls captured by Nigeria’s Islamist sect Boko Haram who have subsequently been subjected to rape, forced marriage and coerced participation in ambushes OR the citizens of North Korea who for their “sins” against the state will have 3 generations of their families executed?

Q: Are children raped or otherwise abused by their parents/relatives or family “friends” living their presence as they set up for themselves in their past? Of course, I can go on and on…

Q: No such thing as innocent victims?

The reply to questions above is given below:

If these awful situations are not due to the Karma of the souls involved, then what are they due to? And if Karma is an accurate explanation for SOME things, how can it not be valid for ALL things?

But a study of Theosophy and careful thought over its doctrines of Karma and reincarnation leads one to conclude that these MUST all be Karmic consequences. The particular past action that puts one person in such a position may be quite different and may have occurred in quite another time, place, and era, from that which puts another in the same position at the same time. But in all cases everything proceeds according to the Law of Karma – the Law of self-created destiny – and so yes, it is true in one sense that there are no “innocent victims.”

Through past actions and deeds, each soul has indeed fashioned for itself its own experiences and circumstances, whether pleasurable or painful… Their Karma caused their pain…

 

Image result for 911 attacks magazine

So based on what we’ve seen about the karmic delivery system, we would have to believe that all those tragically killed in the 911 World Trade Center attacks were deserving of what happened to them and were either (1) brought together at the same time by the devas to mete out justice that was deserved or (2) it happened naturally and automatically without intervention from the devas. The same would be true of those who die in hurricanes, tornadoes, other natural disasters, mass killings, etc.

Those of an Eastern worldview believe the soul or “atman” is eternal. You will eventually be reincarnated, gain additional experience in the park and go through 100’s or 1,000’s of lifetimes until you finally escape the cycle of birth, death and re-birth. There should not be a feeling of outrage or tragedy from events as noted above. The people that were part of these tragedies and disasters are only getting what they karmically deserve.  It is just part of the automatic system of divine justice.

I wonder if other people who hold to an Eastern worldview would agree with Mr. Armstrong or Mr. Dadashri’s explanations of how karma works?  I have a feeling there isn’t a consensus on the subject.

 

 

Advertisements

Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) Academy Self-Study Courses

SES Academyhttps://academy.ses.edu/

SES has launched a new website for their Lay Institute and are in the process of redesigning it in order to be more accessible and affordable. The Lay Institute will be rebranded as the SES Academy and will provide free courses or at a low cost. The new website has a more modern look and feel, allows for the automatic grading of quizzes, and will give SES greater flexibility in development. Upon completion of the course you will receive a certificate of completion signed by the Director of Online Education.

Currently there are two Courses available:

Christian Apologetics

  • Why Apologetics?
  • Truth About Reality is Knowable
  • The Opposite of True is False
  • It is True that the Theistic God Exists
  • If God Exists, Then Miracles are Possible
  • Miracles Can Be Used to Confirm a Message from God
  • The New Testament is Historically Reliable
  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus Taught the Bible is the Word of God
  • The Bible is the Word of God

Biblical Studies

Module 1: The Old Testament

  • Documentary Hypothesis
  • Canon of the OT
  • Reliability of the OT
  • History of the OT
  • Pentateuch
  • Historical Literature
  • Wisdom Literature
  • Prophetic Books
  • OT Usage in the NT
  • Prophecy in the OT

Module 2: The New Testament

  • Intertestamental Period • Canon of the NT
  • Reliability of the NT
  • The Gospels and Acts • Pauline Epistles
  • Johannine Writings
  • Petrine Epistles
  • General Epistles
  • Revelation
  • Prophecy in the NT

Kimo Hussey Ukulele Workshop

I attended a multi-day Ukulele workshop with Kimo Hussey that was held in Kingwood, Texas north of Houston from June 7-9, 2018.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean, text and water

Kimo has a unique two finger style of playing the ukulele, and is an excellent teacher with a humble demeanor. He travels all over the world giving workshops and performances spreading the joy of ukulele. If you ever have a chance to attend one, make it a priority. Thanks go out to Grant Keillor for having the vision to organize an event like this, and to Kenneth Fowler who helped with video taping the workshop sessions. The plan is to make the video available as a way to pass on Kimo’s legacy and joy of the ukulele to others.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoorKimo in his element teaching ukulele

 

Image may contain: indoorWe were also privileged to have several world class ukulele builders in attendance who displayed their ukuleles and gave sessions as part of the workshop

Image result for kinnard ukuleleKinnard Ukuleles was one of the ukulele builders who attended the workshop

Image result for lichty guitarsLichty Guitars was also in attendance with some of their custom ukuleles

 

Image may contain: 1 person, on stageKimo on stage performing

 

See below for raw unedited video from the Friday evening concert.

 

Another video of Kimo playing “Killing Me Softly”

Was Jesus a Buddhist Monk?

A Facebook friend recently posted the following on his Timeline:

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk

https://www.enlightened-consciousness.com/bbc-documentary-jesus-was-a-buddhist-monk-named-issa-who-spent-16-years-in-india-tibet/

The link is to an article from a website titled “Enlightened-Consciousness.com” and talks about a BBC Documentary that attempts to show that during the ages of 13-29 Jesus traveled to Tibet and the surrounding regions and became a Buddhist monk. These are sometimes called the “silent years” because it is said that nothing is recorded in Biblical, Western or Middle eastern sources about the details of Jesus’ life during this time period. We will return to this claim later.

The article describes a Russian doctor by the name of Nicolas Notovich who broke his leg while traveling in Tibet and ended up recuperating in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Hemis in the city of Leh. It is claimed one of the monks showed him document(s) in Tibetan titled “The Life of Saint Issa” of which Notovich translated 200 of the 224 verses. Nicolas Notovich documented his travels in a book he wrote in 1894 titled “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” which is available online.  One source can be downloaded at the link below:

https://www.globalgreyebooks.com/unknown-life-of-jesus-christ-ebook/

Image result for unknown life of christ pdf

 

The website says the lama stated the following about Jesus:

“...one lama explained to Notovitch the full scope and extreme level of enlightenment that Jesus had reached.”

Issa [Jesus] is a great prophet, one of the first after the twenty-two Buddhas…”

He is greater than any one of all the Dalai Lamas, for he constitutes part of the spirituality of our Lord…”

***Remember these descriptions of Jesus as we look at some of the verses from the Tibetan document that was supposedly translated***

 

The article also says that Jesus was tutored by Vedic scholars in the sacred Buddhist texts from the age of 13 to 29. It seems odd that Vedic scholars, those who study the Hindu Vedas, would be tutoring Jesus for 16 years in sacred Buddhist texts.

The article goes on to say that Jesus didn’t die from crucifixion, returned to the regions of India, Afghanistan and Tibet and lived there until he was 80 years old. It is believed He is buried at the Roza Bal shrine at Srinagar in India-controlled Kashmir.

Interestingly, on page 14 of his book “Jesus in India“, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad says:

“...he [Jesus] died at the age of 120 years at Srinagar, Kashmir, where his tomb is still to be found in the Khan Yar quarter.

That’s quite a difference in the age that Jesus died. Which is it, 80 years old or 120 years old?

 

Image result for roza bal in srinagar

A picture of the Roza Bal shrine is shone above, and a Wikipedia entry states the following:

The Roza Bal or Rauza Bal or Rozabal is the name of a shrine located in the Khanyaar quarter in Downtown area of Srinagar in Kashmir. The word rauza means tomb, the word bal mean place. Locals believe a sage is buried here, Yuzasaf or Yuz Asaf (or Youza Asouph), alongside another Muslim holy man, Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin.

The shrine was relatively unknown until the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed in 1899 that it is actually the tomb of Jesus. This view is maintained by Ahmadis today, though it is rejected by the local Sunni caretakers of the shrine, one of whom said “the theory that Jesus is buried anywhere on the face of the earth is blasphemous to Islam.

I don’t have time to delve into the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam here, but it has an interesting history and its adherents are considered “kafirs” or heretics by many Muslims. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has written a book titled “Jesus in India“.

Image result for jesus in india mirza ahmad

 

We will look at some of the translated verses below from the Buddhist documents that are referenced in Nicolas Notovich’s book:

Issa denied the divine inspiration of the Vedas and the Puranas,…” (V, 12)

Issa denied the Trimurti and the incarnation of Para-Brahman in Vishnu, Siva, and other gods...” (V, 14)

“The great creator has divided His power with no other being; far less with inanimate objects, as you have been taught to believe, for He alone is omnipotent and all-sufficient. (V, 17)

“Those who deprive their brothers of divine happiness will themselves be deprived of it; and the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas shall become the Sudras of the Sudras, with whom the Eternal will stay forever.” (V, 23)

Pray not to idols, for they cannot hear you; hearken not to the Vedas where the truth is altered...” (V, 26)

“Even as a father shows kindness toward his children, so will God judge men after death, in conformity with His merciful laws. He will never humiliate his child by casting his soul for chastisement into the body of a beast.” (VI, 11)

 

Nicolas Notovich has a section in his book after the translations titled “Resume” where he expands on various things. He mentions there were two manuscripts written in Tibetan that the Lama read from about Issa or Jesus. These manuscripts were originally written in Pali with the details about Jesus supposedly given by merchants arriving from Judea in the same year “his death occurred“.  He further says:

“The details concerning Jesus, given in the chronicles, are disconnected and mingled with accounts of other contemporaneous events to which they bear no relation.”

“They seem to have been written during the first years following the death of Jesus…”

I have arranged all the fragments concerning the life of Issa in chronological order and have taken pains to impress upon them the character of unity, in which they were absolutely lacking.”

They “seem to have been written”???

He then acknowledges the contradiction between the Buddhist manuscripts and the Gospel accounts of Jesus in the New Testament. He goes on to say:

“But I trust that everybody will agree with me in assuming that the version which I present to the public, one compiled three or four years after the death of Jesus, from the accounts of eye-witnesses and contemporaries, has much more probability of being in conformity with truth than the accounts of the Gospels, the composition of which was effected at different epochs and at periods much posterior to the occurrence of the events.”

Hmmm….why should we assume this to be true or trust and agree with Mr. Notovich? We know nothing about the supposed eye-witness merchants who may have heard stories and rumors about what had happened.  Further on he talks about Jesus spending six years in Djagguernat studying the “language of the country and the Sanscrit...”  He adds:

He (Jesus) found much to blame in Brahminical laws and usages, and publicly
joined issue with the Brahmins, who in vain endeavored to convince him of the sacred character of their established customs...the Brahmins had obscured the great principle of monotheism by misinterpreting Brahma’s own words, and laying excessive stress upon observance of the exterior ceremonials of the cult.”

“…he (Jesus) attacked the very life of Brahminism, its system of gods, its doctrine and its “trimurti” (trinity), the angular stone of this religion.”

Mr. Notovich goes on to discuss the Trimurti consisting of the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as well as other Hindu gods and goddesses such as Lakshmi, Kali, Ganesa, Indra, Rama and Krishna. He then says:

Jesus denied the existence of all these hierarchic absurdities of gods, which darken the great principle of monotheism. When the Brahmins saw that Jesus, who, instead of becoming one of their party, as they had hoped, turned out to be their adversary, and that the people began to embrace his doctrine, they resolved to kill him but his servants, who were greatly attached to him, forewarned him of the threatening danger, and he took refuge in the mountains of Nepaul.”

 

Let’s summarize what the Jesus is recorded to have said in these Buddhist documents as well as what Mr. Notovich wrote in his “Resume” section.

  1. Issa denied the divine inspiration of the Vedas and the Puranas,…” (V, 12)
  2. Issa denied the Trimurti and the incarnation of Para-Brahman in Vishnu, Siva, and other gods...” (V, 14)
  3. “The great creator has divided His power with no other being; far less with inanimate objects, as you have been taught to believe, for He alone is omnipotent and all-sufficient. (V, 17)
  4. “Those who deprive their brothers of divine happiness will themselves be deprived of it; and the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas shall become the Sudras of the Sudras, with whom the Eternal will stay forever.” (V, 23)
  5. Pray not to idols, for they cannot hear you; hearken not to the Vedas where the truth is altered...” (V, 26)
  6. “Even as a father shows kindness toward his children, so will God judge men after death, in conformity with His merciful laws. He will never humiliate his child by casting his soul for chastisement into the body of a beast.” (VI, 11)
  7. He (Jesus) found much to blame in Brahminical laws and usages, and publicly joined issue with the Brahmins,the Brahmins had obscured the great principle of monotheism by misinterpreting Brahma’s own words
  8. ...he (Jesus) attacked the very life of Brahminism, its system of gods, its doctrine and its “trimurti” (trinity)…
  9. Jesus denied the existence of all these hierarchic absurdities of gods, which darken the great principle of monotheism

 

These are damming things said against the religion of Hinduism attributed to Jesus who is supposed to have been a highly enlightened prophet. He also appears to speak negatively of being reborn as an animal. This not only speaks negatively against Hinduism but Buddhism as well.

If people want to use this book to support the claim Jesus traveled to India and surrounding regions, they also need to use it to support the claim that in His HIGHLY ELIGHTENED state He believed many things taught in Hinduism to be false. 

***Especially if you are a Hindu, this is the last book you would want to endorse or use as evidence of Jesus coming to India or the surrounding region*** 

 

Finally, is the New Testament truly silent on what Jesus did between the ages of 13 and 29? See below for various verses that I believe address this subject:

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 (NIV)

  • At the age of 12 Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and was subject to them. Other translations say “obedient to them.”  There is nothing to infer that he left Nazareth and went to India.

 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, Mark 4:16 (NIV)

  • Since Jesus had a custom of entering into the synagouge, this had to have been ongoing and it is reasonable to infer this had been going on during his time in Nazareth from the age of 12 to 29.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” Luke 4:23 (NIV)

  • Jesus uses the quote from Proverbs to refer to His hometown of Nazareth —(i.e. where he had been living)

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3 (NIV)

  • Here read of Jesus again in His hometown of Nazareth and people in the synagogue saying “Isn’t this the carpenter?” They didn’t say Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?  They knew Jesus had taken up the trade of his father and worked in Nazareth until the start of His ministry. If Jesus supposedly left for India at a young age and had been away from Nazareth for about 17 years, upon His return it doesn’t make sense to then refer to Him as a carpenter. 


See below for videos that also deal with this subject.

 

Image result for biblequest TV did jesus live in India

Mindfulness Meditation & Contemplative and Centering Prayer

Below is a link to Part 1 of an EWTN Women of Grace broadcast on “Exposing the Truth About Mindfulness Meditation” that I happened upon recently. It peaked my interest because I like to study world religions, and had visited a Christian meditation group at a church in my area about a month before, and will relate my experience further down below in the post.

EWTN Women og Grace_Minfulness

 

http://www.womenofgrace.com/en-us/media/tv/default.aspx#s_1676_1

It was interesting to hear that the program participants felt contemplative and centering prayer were also incompatible with a traditional understanding of meditation from a Christian/Biblical perspective. I say “interesting” because contemplative and centering prayer groups seem somewhat common among Catholic and Episcopal churches, and yet these practices were being called into question on a major Catholic broadcast network. In the city I live in and surrounding area, of the 22 locations listed by the World Community for Christian Meditation website (http://wccm-usa.org/):

  • 13 were Catholic Churches
  • 6 were Episcopal
  • 3 were other
    • Presbyterian
    • Methodist
    • YMCA

Below is a definition from Wikipedia about Mindfulness meditation:

“Mindfulness meditation involves the process of developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment.. bring attention to either the sensations of breathing in the proximity of one’s nostrils or to the movements of the abdomen when breathing in and out.”

Here is further information about mindfulness and its ties to Buddhism from the Wikipedia entry:

“Mindfulness as a modern, Western practice is founded on modern vipassana, and the training of sati, which means “moment to moment awareness of present events”, but also “remembering to be aware of something”. It leads to insight into the true nature of reality, namely the three marks of existence, the impermanence of and the unsatisfactoriness of every conditioned thing that exists, and non-self. With this insight, the practitioner becomes a socalled Sotāpanna, a “stream-enterer”, the first stage on the path to liberation. Vipassana is practiced in tandem with samatha, and also plays a central role in other Buddhist traditions.

According to Paul Williams, referring to Erich Frauwallner, mindfulness provided the way in early Buddhism to liberation, “constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths.

According to Rhys Davids, the doctrine of mindfulness is “perhaps the most important” after the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

 

Definitions:

vipassana:   to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.

sati:   mindfulness or awareness, a spiritual or psychological faculty (indriya) that forms an essential part of Buddhist practice.

three marks of existence:   In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics of all existence and beings, namely impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anattā) These three characteristics are mentioned in verses 277, 278 and 279 of the Dhammapada

samatha:   the Buddhist practice of calming the mind and its ‘formations’. This is done by practicing single-pointed meditation most commonly through mindfulness of breathing.

Four Noble Truths:

  • All existence is suffering (dhukka) which can be translated as suffering, anguish, pain or unsatisfactoriness
  • The cause of suffering is craving or desire. We suffer because of our mistaken belief that we are a separate, independent self.
  • The cessation of suffering comes with the cessation of craving
  • The Eightfold path leads to the end of suffering

Eightfold Path

  1. Right Understanding or Perfect Vision
  2. Right Resolve or Perfect Emotion
  3. Right Speech or Perfect Speech
  4. Right Action or Perfect Action
  5. Right Livelihood or Perfect Livelihood
  6. Right Effort or Perfect Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness or Perfect Awareness
  8. ​Right Meditation or Perfect Samadhi

We see that mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhism and is one of the elements of the Eightfold Path. It is the process of focusing one’s attention on the present with the MAIN OBJECTIVE being INSIGHT INTO THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY which is the Three Marks of Existence, namely:

  • impermanence (anicca),
  • unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha), and
  • non-self (anattā)

Given this insight, one is on the path to self-liberation. Part of this understanding is the doctrine of anatta or non-self that states there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in living beings. The mistaken belief that we have a permanent self/soul keeps us embedded in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth or samsara. Hinduism parts ways with Buddhism by believing that there is a permanent self or soul. Right Mindfulness or Mindfulness meditation along with the other elements on the Eightfold Path are believed to help one eventually achieve nirvana.

I E-mailed two of the leaders of the Christian meditation groups near where I live about what to expect. Their replies are given below:

We begin with a reading, then move into silence and stillness using an internally-spoken mantra or prayer word/phrase for 20 minutes (we recommend Ma-Ra-Na-Tha), then experience some quiet music before using the rest of our time together in discussion, questions, and community building.”

Sit down. Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Then interiorly, silently begin to recite a single word – a prayer word or mantra. We recommend the ancient Christian prayer-word “Maranatha”. Say it as four equal syllables. Breathe normally and give your full attention to the word as you say it, silently, gently, faithfully and  – above all – simply. Start with 20 minutes and work your way to a half hour.”

The comment about being still and repeating a mantra or prayer word such as “Marantha” are common to both. They both also recommended saying it as four syllables with one saying “give your full attention to the word as you say it.”

mantra: a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation; sacred utterance believed to have spiritual power

This made me think of Hinduism and the mantra “Om” or “Aum”.  In “A Survey of Hinduism” by Klaus Klostermaier he says:

The most famous powerful and most mysterious of all mantras is OM (AUM) also called (pravana), the primeval mantraA mantra need not have an intelligible word meaning; it is the sound equivalent of reality and at the same time the medium by which this otherwise transcendent reality is reached. OM is not a concept of something but it is the Sabda-brahman, the Supreme Being in the form of sound…OM—this syllable is the whole world. It’s further explanation is: the past, the present, and the future—everything is just the word OM…OM is the atman (self).

Om In Decorated Yellowhttps://www.freeimages.com/search/om

I have read that “AUM” is the unstruck sound that resonates throughout the universe, is pronounced as three syllables A-U-M, and being a mantra is meant to aid in concentration. This sounds very similar to the four syllable word “Ma-Ra-Na-Tha” suggested to be used in the Christian contemplative prayer groups. However, I don’t believe they would say that the word “Maranatha” has any spiritual power. Instead of repeating the word “Maranatha” I recited the 23rd Psalm because this seems more in line with what Scripture says in the way of meditation. It’s not an emptying of your mind to focus on the present or your breathing, but to focus on the Scripture or Word of God. It is not meant to come to the realization of non-self, but to draw your “self“, that is created in the image of God, closer to oneness with the Creator God of the Bible.

Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
(Psalm 1:2, HCSB)

I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. (Psalm 119:15, HCSB)

The Contemplative prayer group started off with a woman striking a small bronze bowl three times, followed by a reading from a set curriculum. We then silently “meditated” or stilled and focused our mind for about 20 minutes. An older gentleman was sitting across from me on a cushion on the floor with his legs crossed. Another woman and I were sitting upright on a couch. The room was fairly dark with light coming through an open window, and there was an electronic candle on the table. It did have a kind of “Eastern” vibe or feeling to it. Afterwards I chatted with the gentleman for a little bit, and he mentioned a priest who lived in Japan who had syncretized Buddhist teaching with Catholicism. The gentleman didn’t seem to have an issue with this even though they contradict on certain beliefs such that both can’t be true, and have a totally different worldview and “end game” they are trying to reach.

It was an interesting experience, but will I go again?  No.