For example, I do believe in God. It's not necessarily the Christian God. As I have often said before, to me God is one. A greater force, a Supreme Being. I merely use the term God for simplification. I also usually use he, just because it's a lot easier that way. I don't need to justify myself for that. I know what I believe. And I also believe in Gods. I believe in Krishna. He feels me with so much love, so much awe and fascination. How could I not? And Jesus, I agree with most of the things he taught. Apollo, Shiva... so many wonderful Gods that I love to look up to. It feels me with incredible spiritual power to think of them, to believe they're actually there and they're powerful and divine.
For the longest time I've tortured myself over it. I've been angsting over the fact whether I've chosen the "right God", been meandering left and right to seek out the spiritual life to make me happy. And then I saw the truth. My personal truth. I realized that it's all just one. Just like Krishna said. People may be worshipping "lower Gods" but their praise all just goes to him and if they receive something from these Gods they in fact receive them through him. Now, I don't think there are any lower Gods, but I rather think there is one unified thing and it takes the shape of the God you choose to worship. I'm so sure of that, I could never abandon this thought. And it makes me so happy, because now I know why I've never been able to decide on just one God.
Now, I don't see why this is wrong. I mean, I KNOW it's not wrong. But people still manage to make me feel bad over it. I've tried to relate my ideas to this list. The discussion was "Comfort". And to me it was clear that only my faith gives me comfort because I feel safe and harbored and I know that I can turn to my God any time I want to and need to. And instead of seeing my point and accepting it, they do their best to disassemble it and ridicule it. I mean, I don't shirk a discussion and I like a critical argumentation, but when I constantly feel like I'm not taken seriously then it just hurts me. Especially since the discussion doesn't take place in English and I just can't express myself this well in another language. Kinda depressing, considering that... oh well. It's just weird, but I can only really discuss my faith in English properly. And these people use so many strange words and long sentences and Latin phrases that I constantly feel like I'm talking to my half-uncle. I feel so stupid! Like a school kid! And I hate this! I'm not stupid! I'm actually quite intelligent and I too know other languages and my fair share of Latin and yet I'm just stunned when a sentences goes on for 20 lines and uses words such as "proselyte", "object fixation" and something about teddybears and Poland. I don't appreciate being made to feel stupid.
So I'm being told that my believing in God (or Gods) actually is an attempt to substitute the teddybear I used to have as a child! I find that so offensive! And yet when I complain I'm being told that I can't take criticism, am not able to have an adult discussion and am acting like a sulky kid. In essence. And that annoys me even more, but when I complain again it only gets worse. Gods and my faith are made out to be a fairytale, stories created by man and it all just infuriates me. I find it so disrespectful! And I don't understand why it's so lame to believe in God? Is that not allowed anymore these days? Do we all have to denounce the believe in something higher than us, something divine? And why is it wrong to try to personify them?
What's even worse is that nobody seems to listen to me. In my post I started out in a similar fashion as I did here. I listed a couple of Gods that fill me with this unspeakable feeling of awe and reverence. And promptly I was stamped the polytheist who uses these Gods to "intoxicate" herself with and performs odd rituals. I've pointed out again and again that they have obviously failed to grasp anything I said, because I have quite clearly stated that I do believe in one singular Supreme Being. But no, instead I'm told that this is a far too dodgy term and not really a term but just some silly idea.
I'm just fed up with it. It's painfully obvious that this isn't a place for me. These people seem to spend their entire day trying to rationalize away the existence of God or any higher force. And I don't want any part in that. I don't want to rid myself of Gods. I want them here, with me. I want to know there's something I can rely on sometimes that isn't human. But apparently modern people don't do that anymore these days. Well, screw you guys, I'm going home.
By Rajiv Malhotra
In the Bhagavad Gita, God appears in human form as Krishna, to guide Arjuna in the fight/don't fight dilemma that Arjuna faces. What might this 18 chapter holiest of the Hindu scriptures teach us in the dilemma we now face concerning global terrorism? Krishna's advice fits neither of the two extremes that are presently dominating the media debate: At one end are the majority of Americans who promote revenge against the terrorists, as a notion of justice - an eye for an eye. At the other end is a minority of anti-war activists who want no violence, and instead advocate that the US should take the blame for having caused hatred against itself. The Gita's message rejects BOTH these. Its short-term message for this situation pertains to the ethics of war, and its long-term message calls for systemic changes required by both Islam and the West in order to harmonize humanity.
Krishna scolds Arjuna for his initial attitude of abandonment, saying that there is a global evil that must be dealt with; Arjuna is the best qualified one to fight this evil given his training, capabilities, and position. This is God's work and not his own. By analogy, one could argue that the US must play Arjuna's role, being positioned as the only superpower and having the resources to carry this out. In Hindu dharma, a ruler has the obligation to protect the public from such menaces, and to abandon this role would be irresponsible. God's advice to Arjuna is: "Engage in battle with equanimity and without getting overwhelmed by the extremes of joy and sorrow, gain and loss, and thus you won't incur sin."
A just war ("dharma-yudh" = war-as-duty) should not be for revenge but for the prevention of terrorism in the future. The Hindu idea of justice is in the form of karmic consequence; but these consequences are for God to take care of, whenever and however he chooses. The Gita emphasizes one's rightful action, but always letting God take care of the fruits. Therefore, from President Bush down to the pilots making the strikes, the attitude should be one of doing duty for the sake of ridding society of evil, and not for revenge.
Furthermore, the response has to be relevant and proportional. The Gita does not condone indiscriminate "carpet bombing". Since karma is individual and merit based, there cannot be racial profiling against anyone.
It is also made clear in the Gita that Arjuna has nothing personal to gain from winning. He does not seek power, wealth, fame or glory. Hence, it is not an act to be carried out by the ego and must be free of selfish motives. Applying this to the present dilemma, there are some implications:
- The US should not be motivated for the sake of securing its oil supply, as that would be a selfish act.
- The US should not focus on ending only the terrorism that is against the US, but rather, it should deal equally with all terrorism that hurts anyone in the world, including remote corners where the US does not perceive a direct selfish interest at this time. Everything is totally interconnected as per Indian cosmogony, and there is no morality in segregating the US's selfish interests from the interests of humanity at large. Unfortunately, Senator Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, amongst other policymakers, has defined the area of US interests to be from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, which means that the Indian subcontinent's Islamic terrorism remains a blind spot.
- The US cannot aid terrorists one year by classifying them as freedom fighters against a US enemy, and fight them the next year when they turn sour.
- For decades, Saudi Arabia has sponsored Wahhabi Islam, a fundamentalist variety of Islam, and funded 'madrassas' (religious schools) to expand the market share of Islam in poor countries. Madrassas often teach Islamic extremism and triumphalism, and then some of the youth advance into the hands of jihad preachers who are linked to some madrassas if not in charge of them. Yet, given their importance to the US oil supply, the Saudis have not been taken to task.
- Pakistan created the Taliban, with US funding and weapons, to fight a jihad against the Soviets. This is not emphasized today by the US media, as it might embarrass prior presidencies and some of the senior cabinet members today who played a role in those governments. We must also ask whether strengthening the dictatorial Army rule in Pakistan, and thus subverting democracy, is in the best interests of Pakistan's citizens. US media has stated that 15% to 20% of Pakistanis are Talibanized, and given its population of 140 million, that is larger than the total population of Afghanistan. Pakistan has openly hosted Bin Laden's operating bases to attack civilian targets in India, killing more Indians than any other nationality from terrorism over the past five years.
[cut, read the rest here]
Well, my points are these. First off, we mustn't forget that this article was written in late 2001, so there is no direct reference to the Iraq war yet. However, it's still scary how well it fits, isn't it? This article doesn't condone Bush's actions, but rather relates when they would by justifyable. And why they're not.
Perhaps a little bit about the background of the Gita would be helpful.
Arjuna fought a battle he was obliged to fight in order to save his people and reinstall order and justice. He, being one of the five Pandu princes, was banished and expelled from his land by his cousin Duryodhana who was the eldest of one-hundred brothers. Seeing the hardship and pain inflicted on his people by this unfair treatment, Arjuna and his four brothers returned to the land of the Kuru to fight for what was rightfully his and save his people from further prosecution. At the dawn of the battle, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, who has become his friend and companion as a reward for his fortitude and nobility of character, to drive his war chariot to a position where he may witness the two contending parties. Upon surveying the raging battle between dear ones on both sides, Arjuna is overcome with horror and refuses to engage in such a fratricidal war. He throws down his weapons and declares that he would rather die than shed the blood of his kinsmen on the other side.
Lord Krishna then explains to him in the epic that is known as the Bhagavad-Gita the importance of performing one's duty in accordance with ones nature, the existence of the hidden self and the omnipresence of God. He relates to Arjuna such basic concepts as the nature of our existence, the nature of our true self, our true relationship with God, the truth about action and inaction, the correct meaning of knowledge and ignorance, the inborn qualities of man and how they bind him to the mortal world, the meaning of true devotion, the right attitude towards the external world, and so on. Thus enlightened Arjuna is able to partake in the battle and reclaim his people's position.
The difference here is that Arjuna recognizes his duty and acts accordingly. He does not desire power, fame or wealth, he merely does what is necessary. Bush's motives are questionable, at best. He claims that he is too accepting his duty as defender of the world. However, the target of his warfare isn't the evil he is seeking to extinguish, but innocent people who have no relation to the ones he is fighting. If Bush was targetting specifically camps of Bin-Laden and other terrorist groups directly and evidently related to acts of terrorism against the United States, I doubt a lot of people would object. But he's not. He's carpet-bombing an area where there might be something bad going on but we're not really sure and we just think they're terrorists because, well. Because. This is where all his good intentions are inevitably annihilated.
Furthermore, even if everything Bush did was justified and supported, his motivations are essentially selfish. He does this to protect himself and his allies whereas such an act would only then be excuseable if the desire to protect was extended to allies, strangers and even non-supporters. Not to mention the obvious hypocrisy involved, born from the notion of "My enemy's enemies are my friends" and "Who isn't with me is against me".
I think the Bhagavad-Gita is pretty clear about this. So, in the light of this sacred text it is safe to say the Bush is heading the wrong way. You mustn't oppose all fighting either, because sometimes it is necessary to fight for what needs to be preserved, but fashioning these justifications after your own selfish desires is wrong.
Okay, that's just my two cents. Any input?
Enough of wealth and righteous deeds!
In the dark forest of the world
What peace of mind can they bring you?
-Ashtavakra Gita 10:7
* * *
Say, "Humankind! The Truth has come to you from
your Lord. He that follows it for the good of his own
soul, and whosoever goes astray does so to his own
detriment. I am not a warder over you."
-Qur'an, Yunus, Surah 10:108
* * *
Security is not the absence of danger, but the
presence of God, no matter what the danger.
Why? Because I loved the multitude of these Gods. Their stories, their "humanness" in a way. They made mistakes, they were angry, they loved, hated, desired. I liked the idea of someone powerful who could still fail. And I also liked that those Gods expressed themselves through art, music, poetry. I was missing that in the belief I was brought up in. But of course I realized those Gods were gone. Long gone… I was searching for stories, for legends that confirmed that they still existed… but somehow it was clear that they were gone. I was sad.
I kept looking. I read up on Buddhism, but it never really caught on for me. Whereas I found the teachings inspiring and certainly true, I realized that I needed a Divine Being I could feel safe with. Then I found Krishna and I submerged in studying him. He was fascinating, his teachings, the legends around him and also his looks. All Hindu Gods gave me this inexplicable feeling of awe when I looked at their brilliant blue skin, red palms and rich decoration. I felt their Godliness. In the Bhagavad-Gita he says,
"There is nothing superior to Me. Everything existing is connected to Me like pearls on a thread. I am the sweetness of flavor in water; the radiant luster of the sun and the moon; the primordial root syllable Om within all the Vedas; the subsonic element of sound in ether and the ability in man. I am the original fragrance in the Earth, the brilliance in blazing fire and the vitality of all beings; I am tolerance in those who perform austerities." (7:7-9)Later on he says,
"Whichever demigod a particular devotee desires with faith to worship, I surely sustain firmly that faith in him. Endowed with that firm faith the devotee executes worship of this demigod and sanctioned by Me solely obtains that which he desired from that demigod." (7:21-22)I was deeply moved by this. It was a concept I had never really considered until then. Could it be that even though I might worship a certain deity I am in fact worshipping something superior to that without being aware of it? I didn't understand that thought fully yet then, but I harbored it in my heart. I soon realized that whereas Lord Krishna had my deepest admiration I could not handle his worshippers whose policies I rejected. But I held him there and I kept looking.
Jesus. I admired him for what he means to the world now, regardless of what he might have been in reality. A very trivial reason for manifesting my belief in him was the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Up till then I thought I didn't really believe in Jesus. It was long before I even started looking beyond what I was taught. I thought there can only be God and nobody else. No virgin, no saints. A human son made no sense.
Then I started listening to the words of this musical and I began to understand Jesus. What a fighter he was, how troubled he was by the people suddenly starting to see him as the Messiah, following him. How he hated his destiny and didn't understand why he of all people had been chosen to fulfil it. He didn't understand his own significance, was scared and insecure. And I felt sympathy for Judas who only wanted to change things and felt betrayed and abandoned as Jesus began to matter more than all the things he said. Judas was jealous of the people who got Jesus' attention now and it led him to betray the man he loved the most.
All these things I understood now, and I understood the concept of incarnation as well. The concept of Divine Energy. After all these years of reading and searching I finally understood. God isn't one person. God is a Supreme Being, a force superior to everything and everyone. God is merely a word of convenience for this Supreme Being. No one can say they don't believe in God, because no matter what they believe in it is this Supreme Being and it takes the form of whatever makes you most comfortable with. All the Gods I loved and worshipped, they all were there and they all were okay. There is monotheism, but there's also polytheism. There's every single deity ever in existence. This Superior Being is Krishna and Apollo and the Christian God and Thor and Allah and Jesus and the Archangels and Osiris and everyone else. I stopped looking now, stopped trying to find the ultimate religion. I realized it all was good and it all was true.
After this long digression I return to my original thought which was that my belief reflects my personality. I think this long and winding road to what I believe now had a fundamental part in my development as a person. I see in my own example that the thing parents need to give to their children is a sense of spirituality. Raising a child without the concept of religion will inevitably lead to a general lack of receptivity and understanding when it comes to such things. I'm glad my mother at least tried to make me Protestant, because this gave me an invaluable basis to grow and progress the way I did. I have a basic set of morals developed through a sense of right and wrong that I earned by reading so many different teachings. I'm very grateful for that.
Just got this in on FFN-Slashers-Unite. Priceless! ^_^
The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident, and posted on the Internet.
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.
a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
e) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?
i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.
- Unitarian Universalists: The Unitarian Universalist Association’s stance is to protect the personal right to choose abortion. Other contemporary views include working for equality for homosexuals, gender equality, a secular approach to divorce and remarriage, working to end poverty, promoting peace and non-violence, and environmental protection.
Comment: Those are good. They can stay ^_^.
- Reform Judaism: Judaism holds that human life begins upon first breath, and Jewish law requires abortion if necessary to save the mother’s life prior to birth. Most believe potential human life should never be terminated casually, but it is generally regarded as a personal decision especially within the first 40 days of pregnancy. Homosexuality: Homosexuals are God’s creation, and Jewish instruction is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Reform (and Conservative) Judaism have a long history of support for homosexual rights.
Comment: Cool, too!
- Liberal Quaker: Views vary, some maintaining that abortion violates Quaker commitment to nonviolence, but some view the right to choose abortion as an aspect of equal rights for women, and/or as a personal matter between the woman and God. The American Friends Service Committee (an independent Quaker organization with participants of many faiths that provides international programs for economic and social justice, peace, humanitarian aid) supports the woman’s right to choose abortion per her own conscience.
Comment: No mentioning of homosexuality... suspicious. But their stance on abortion is okay.
- Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants: Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Comment: I don't like the abortian thing, but I guess it's okay to say so. Supporting gay rights is a plus.
Convert now! (sorry no link...)
- Roman Catholic: Abortion is considered to be a form of murder, an act worthy of excommunication. Homosexuality is a sin. Divorce is a sin. Women are afforded the highest regard as mothers and wives. Marriage is considered a sacrament and permanent; divorce and remarriage are not acceptable unless the first marriage is annulled. Remarriage after divorce results in inability to receive sacraments.
- Jehova's Witnesses: Abortion is wrong. Homosexuality is a serious sin. Gender roles are defined -- men are the head of the household and women are loving caretakers who assist the husband in teaching the children. Divorce is permitted under certain circumstances, but Jehovah hates remarriage unless the divorce occured as a result of adultery. Service occurredarmed forces or any form of allegiance to government is prohibited; one must only show allegiance to the Kingdom of Christ. Blood transfusions, along with ingesting blood, are considered wrong, as God said the soul is in the blood. Bone marrow transplants are left to the individual conscience. (Note: all other forms of medical treatment are acceptable.)
Comment: Idiots, go to hell! Or wherever they go... grrrrrr...
Don't you dare, but... convert now!
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons): Abortion is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong and homosexual rights vehemently opposed. The divine role of woman is mother and wife, helper to the husband. Men are regarded as the head of the family, provider, leader, and teacher. Marriage is regarded as eternal, but divorce is permitted if necessary. In keeping with the belief that doing good works is essential for salvation and is Christian, Mormons established a "welfare" program. Mormons practice monthly fasts and give fast offerings to assist the needy.
Comment: Welcome to the 21st century. That's all I'm going to say.
- Seventh Day Adventists: Abortion has moral consequences, but the church accepts compelling reasons for a woman to choose abortion -- after counseling, the final decision is regarded as her own. Homosexuality is forbidden. Gender equality and womens rights are promoted, but women are not permitted at the highest levels of the church hierarchy and are generally regarded as subordinate to men. Marriage is permanent and divorce only permitted on grounds of adultery. Working for peace is encouraged by the SDA church as a Christian value. Many SDAs refuse combat status in the armed forces, and the church urges strict control of semi- and automatic assault weapons. The church supports community activities for equal rights and justice, antipoverty, education, and the direct provision of health care facilities.
Comment: It's sorta repeating now, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, yeah... yadda-yadda, got the drift. Subordinate, eh?
Convert now! (if you must)
- Christian Science: The church claims no position on abortion. Reliance on conventional medicine is considered a sin. Physicians cause illness. Homosexuality is often regarded negatively, a belief that requires healing through Christian Science practices -- the Mother Church has not announced opposition to this view.
Comment: Healing, eh? No thank you.
- Humanism: The American Humanist Association endorses elective abortion. Other contemporary views include working for equality for homosexuals, gender equality, a secular approach to divorce and remarriage, working to end poverty, promoting peace and non-violence, and environmental protection.
Comment: Good, good!
- Several forms of Buddhism: Abortion is considered murder, and all violent acts cause horrific karmic consequence. Homosexuality in itself is not specifically condemned by scripture, but opinions vary, especially among various Buddhist cultures -- e.g. USA Buddhists are generally very accepting while Asian Buddhists are generally strongly opposed to homosexuality. It is believed that divorce wouldn't occur if one follows Buddhist precepts, but a couple is not condemned if they separate due to vast personal differences. Gender roles are generally traditional (e.g. woman as child caretakers and men as providers), but less rigid as contemporary demands are made on women (e.g. working women).
Comment: Hmm, not sure... The feminist inside of me is howling.
- Hinduism: Abortion is considered an abominable, as the fetus deserves protection. Views on homosexuality range from neutral to strong opposition, in part because sexual activity itself is generally regarded as contrary to enlightenment and, as such, is only acceptable within marriage for procreation. Divorce and remarriage is traditionally and culturally unacceptable, although not prohibited by the scriptures. Divorce and remarriage of widows is becoming more common, however, among Hindus.
Comment: Too bad, the sex thing... *snickers*
- Sikhism: Abortion is a sin. Homosexuality is not addressed in scripture, but one source indicated that it is considered as part of one's karma, and subjects the person to psychic imbalance between female and male energies, which could lead to self-destructive behaviors. Gender equality is a stated position and is emphasized in practice. Remarriage of widows is permitted.
Comment: Hm, I can see where it's coming from. I don't necessarily agree, but it seems at least reasonable, if you believe in the devine balance of man and woman. Gender equality is cool.
- Islam: Found no statement about contemporary issues. Suspicious. No statement, no conversion. Period.
- New Age: Abortion is not condemned, as there is no official doctrine. Generally adherents are supportive of a woman’s right to choose abortion.
Comment: What about gays? *blinks*
- Scientology: Scientology regards homosexuality as an illness. Based on the belief that you cannot free yourself spiritually without working to free others, Scientology has founded and supports many organizations for social betterment, particularly in the areas of drug abuse, crime, psychiatric abuse, government abuse of law, human rights, religious freedom, education, and morality. Scientology strongly favors the use of their methodology for spiritual/mental healing over the use of conventional treatment.
Comment: *growls and mutters curses* #
Convert... now! *DON'T*
- Neo-Pagan: Abortion is not condemned, as there is no official doctrine. Beliefs about abortion range from “pro-life” to “pro-choice.” Views on divorce, homosexuality, and gender equality are generally very supportive of human differences, equality, and personal choice. Many believe that involvement in community action, especially regarding environmental concerns, is integral to the belief in human interdependence and worship of the Earth Mother.
Comment: Very nice ^_^.