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For the benefit of my inquisitive friend steve0 ( the christian apologist )
The seekers |
The Seers were observers of the Eternal Truths as Newton was of Gravity . Well this does not mean they invented the eternal truths of karma ( cause & effect ) , the doctrine of dependant origination , and the theory of conditional existence . Just as Newton was'nt the inventor of Gravity , becoz Gravity has existed before him.They ( the seers )observed these truths through the power of intuition and personal experiance , as Newton demonstrated that gravity existed by the dropping of the apple to earth.These truths of karma ( cause & effect ) and the comprehensive nature of their implications on animate & inanimate objects in this universe is logical , and therefore these are eternal by their very nature, and have been in existance since yore. Any seeker needs just to use a commonsense approach to understand their presence and implications thereof in our midst.
Sanātana Dharma, the Perennial Philosophy, is the one name that has represented Hinduism for many thousands of years. It speaks to the idea that certain spiritual principles hold eternally true, transcending man-made constructs, representing a pure science of consciousness.
Religion to the seeker is the natives search for the divine within the Self, the search to find the One truth that in actuality never was lost. Truth sought with faith shall yield itself in blissful luminescence no matter the race or creed professed. Indeed, all existence, from vegetation and beasts to mankind, are subjects and objects of the eternal Dharma. The Rishis (sages) realized that each man had to work out his own salvation and that everyone's own spiritual experience is vital to the attainment of the ultimate state of the soul's evolution. A blind obedience to authority is the surest prescription for spiritual paralysis.
Sanatana Dharma or THE ETERNAL WAY does not have a starting point in history, does not have a founder, and has no Church. The sages who shaped the Indian religion merely reiterated the teachings of the Vedas, the Indian scriptures (most of which is unwritten). The Vedas are believed to have no origin. In ancient India, the Vedas formed the educational system and broadly comprised all the different spheres of life, such as spiritual, scientific, medical and so on.
From the beginning, India believed in the superiority of intuition or the method of direct perception of the supersensible to intellectual reasoning. The Vedic rishis or seers ' were the first who ever burst into the silent sea' of ultimate being and their utterances about what they saw and heard. The Kena Upanishad says: "The eye does not go thither, nor speech nor mind. We do not know, we do not understand how one can teach it. It is different from the known, it is also above the unknown.
The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature (both) external and internal. This can be done either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy (by one or more) and be free. The doctrine of sin as expounded by Christianity is not accepted by Indians. According to the ancient Indian view, man commits sin, only because of his ignorance of his own true nature. Ignorance of Self is the root cause of all evils in the world. Self-knowledge is thus essential for eliminating evil.
Christianity and Judaism are religions of exile: Man was thrown out of the Garden of Eden resulting in his "fall." Man is not born as a sinner in ancient Indian thought. "Each soul is potentially divine." The Upanishads teach us that Reality is the essence of every created thing, and the same Reality is our real Self, so that each of us is one with the power that created and sustains the universe. In the late nineteenth century, the Dutch poet Willem Kloos (1859-1938) wrote: 揑k ben een god in het diepst van mijn gedachten?( I am a god in the deepest of my thoughts). "God sleeps in the rocks," proclaims the Indian scriptures, "dreams in the plants, stirs toward wakefulness in the animals, and in mankind is awake to his own ego individuality. In the enlightened stage, finally, he awakens to the full reality of who he truly is, in His infinite Self.
The first principle of Indian thought, therefore, is that the ultimate reality is beyond description. It is something that can be experienced only by bringing the mind to a stop; and once experienced, it cannot be described to anyone in terms of the forms of this world. The truth, the ultimate truth, that is to say, is transcendent. it goes past, transcends, all speech all images, anything that can possibly be said. But, as we have just seen, it is not only transcendent, it is also immanent, within all things, Everything in the world, therefore, is to be regarded as its manifestation. There is an important difference her between the Indian and the Western ideas.
Temporal notions in Europe were overturned by an India rooted in eternity. The Bible had been the yardstick for measuring time, but the infinitely vast time cycles of India suggested that the world was much older than anything the Bible spoke of. It seem as if the Indian mind was better prepared for the chronological mutations of Darwinian evolution and astrophysics. The cards in the game of life are given to us, we do not select them. They are traced to our past karma, but we can call as we please, lead what suit we will, and as we play, we gain or loose. And there is freedom. We must also be very careful about our thoughts, because thoughts create, and thoughts also make karmas, good, bad and mixed.
The law of Karma Explained & Simplified for my friend STEVE0
The law of Karma postulates that in this world there are no rewards or punishments; it is simply a case of inevitable consequences. As you sow, so shall you reap. Sometimes others reap what you have sown. There is an interlinking and inter-connection all round and at every level, in time and in space. No one lives, or can possibly live, in isolation. The past is linked to the future, the world to the next, men to their fellow-men, thoughts to actions, actions to reactions, the living spirits to the departed ones. The law of karma governs all.
The entire cosmos is subject to the vicissitudes of time and hence whatever has an origin at a point of time has to come to an end. According to the seers , everything is conditioned by time. The process of creation (Srishti) and dissolution (Pralaya) of the Universe is a periodic cycle in which the entire Cosmos manifests at the time of creation and withdraws at the time of dissolution. The Infinite alone is beyond time - beginningless and endless.
This endless cycle of births and rebirths that all "souls" experience is called "Transmigration". All souls are cursed to experience transmigration, except the Infinite, which is beyond creation or destruction. This Absolute Truth or Ultimate Reality does not perish even though all beings are subject to decay. This unmanifest being is spoken of as the Indestructible, the Supreme Being, God, Almighty. "Yogis" strive to become one with the Absolute Truth, and this oneness is called "Moksha". In other words, it is a state of mind where we are free from encumbrences, where we are indeed the One. "Tat Twam Asi", proclaim the Vedas, meaning "Thou Art That". We simply fail to realize that.
A good analogy to transmigration of the soul is of a person retiring to sleep who wakes up the next morning in the same place. During sleep, the person is unaware of what happens to him. Similarly, the transmigrating soul at birth does not remember its state prior to coming into existence. So, death is also nothing but return to the same state from which one has come to this world. There is a way to transcend this process of transmigration, to which all created beings are subject. This is again presented in different ways by different philosophers of the religion. "Adi Shankara" believes that we are indeed the Absolute Truth, but that the illusion of our worldly lives prevents us from realizing this Truth. Others believe that we are "bonded souls" that merge with the Truth once we achieve the Truth. In brief, however, this transcendental state that we are all asked to strive for is called "Moksha" in Hindu philosophy and "Nirvana" in Buddhist and Jain philosophies.
Clearly, all forms of life on earth do not undergo the same experiences and are not at the same level of existence. Man is the most superior form of life, but there are also billions of life forms which are far less superior than him. Even among us humans, we constantly witness differences in our modes of existence. Some of us are billionaires and some are paupers. Some of us are extremely healthy and some are always disease-prone. There must be a reason for these different experiences that all forms of life go through, even within their own species. The Seers answer to this question is the theory of "Karma".
Karma and rebirth are interrelated concepts in Indian philosophy. According to the theory of Karma, we are all part of a cycle of births and rebirths. This cycle has no beginning nor end. We are simply experiencing the results of our own actions in our journey through this cycle. Each spoke in the cycle is a predecessor to the next spoke. When a cycle moves, all spokes move one after the other in a never-ending chain. Similarly, in the cycle of "Samsara", life forms are spokes that evolve from one experience to another, and from one form to another according to their actions. Good actions cause good effects (Law of Cause and Effects), while bad actions cause bad effects. It is as simple as that.
Our actions bind us to this world, and such bondage-causing action is known as "Karma". The bondage refers to the confinement to this "samsara" just as spokes are confined to the wheel of the cycle. While good actions cause us to be reborn to experience the good effects, bad actions cause us to be reborn to undergo pain and suffering. "Yogis", however, are free of karmic actions and reactions, therefore not bound by the cycle of transmigration. Such a state of everlasting freedom from "samsara" is known as "Moksha". Again, the means to achieving such a state of mind cannot be presribed in a "cook book" manner. There is no specific prescription either. If it were that easy, all of us would be free from "samsara" now. Again, some of us probably wouldn't want to be freed from rebirths, even if given the choice. Remember, this is philosophy and not religion. Religions have doctrines, prescriptions and cook books for happiness; philosophy does not. It is what it is!
Nature & Christianity
In fact, since the start of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the West broke away from Nature and began regarding her as so much inanimate matter to be exploited (a polite word for plunder). That unfortunate attitude, which has resulted in the ruthless abuse we see all over the world, can be traced all the way to the Old Testament and to the Genesis. On that fateful sixth day, Jehovah proclaims, 揕et us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let him rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground....?And he said to newborn man, 揊ill the earth and subdue it?(1:26 & 1:28). Jehovah does not stop there ; for some mysterious reason, he seems to hold the earth responsible for man抯 sins. After generously cursing various nations through a succession of fire-spewing prophets, he turns his wrath to our poor planet : 揝ay to the southern forest : 慣his is what the Sovereign Lord says : I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched??(Ezekiel, 20:47). 揑 will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste among devastated lands?(ibid., 29:10, 12). 揝ee, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it ; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants.... The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered?(Isaiah 24:1, 3). 揅ursed is the ground because of you?(Genesis 3:17). And so on, Book after ranting Book.
The Bible抯 distorted world-view
(1) In the Old Testament, Jehovah explicitly, and on several occasions, makes man the master of all other species and asks him to 搑ule over all creatures?; christians don't dispute this. Yet this 搈astery?is undeniably the seed of his aggressive 搒mash-and-grab?attitude towards all other species, something he does as a matter of course, obviously believing it to be a God-given right (except that he should call it 揓ehovah-given?to avoid confusion).
(2) Jehovah, always prompt to cursing humanity for its supposed sins, seems to hold the earth responsible for them梕lse, why should he so constantly threaten to bring desolation, plunder, ravage etc. upon it ? Again, chritians don't not explain Jehovah抯 inexplicable fury for the earth, which he claims is his own creation. Instead, they repeat the old story of the original sin, implying that man抯 rebellion against Jehovah fully justified the latter抯 divine 搘rath.?But they don't tell us why poor Earth should suffer for man抯 supposed sins. Nor do they realize that the very notion of original sin admits of a gulf between the creator and the creation. In the Indian Vedic conception, which goes back at least six thousand years, there is no 搊riginal sin,?no fall, no rebellion against the creator, no cursing of mankind or of the earth ; there is only one divine universe : 揟ruth is the base that bears the Earth,?says the Rig-Veda (X.85.1).
I would also like to point out that the idea of a fatal divorce brought about by the Bible between God, on one side, and his creation, on the other, is nothing new ; all I did was to present it starkly, as it deserves to be. A number of Western thinkers have said as much, from Voltaire to Jefferson or from Thomas Paine to Gore Vidal, and have pointed out that no such divorce existed in 揚agan?or pre-Christian conceptions.