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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Against the Idea of Eternal Hell Based on Free Will

By Charles Feldman (Prana)

Vedanta says that we are all divine. This makes sense, but I sometimes wonder: What if we are making a mistake, and those who say that if we don't belong to their creed, we are going to eternal hell, are right?
 

The argument that Christians usually give for suffering and eternal hell is that we have free will, and in order to bless people with free will, God allows suffering.

I have read two Christian versions of what happens in eternal hell. One version says that those in hell regret what they have done, but it is too late to change things by that time. The other version says that those in hell never change, and they eternally continue to reject God.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Cause of All Our Problems: Three Views

By Charles (Prana) Feldman

Those who believe that they have the only valid religious path may say that disobedience is the cause of all of our problems. They may go so far as to say that there is a war going on in the world between their version of their religion and everyone else. They may even say that if we don't obey their authority, we go to hell.

Those opposed to religion may say that obedience is the cause of all of our problems. They may say that religion causes sectarian violence, the destruction of the environment, and racism, sexism, and homophobia. They believe that we need to ditch religion if humanity is to have any hope of surviving in the world.

There is another point of view, which is that of Vedanta. Ignorance, or finitude, causes all of our problems. Vedanta says that the world is God's play. If there were no bad guys, there would be no good guys. Nothing in the finite world is all good or all bad. Nothing in the finite world is permanent. What we need to do is to realize our identity with God, the Infinite, or Satchidananda, and we will attain immortality as pure Being, Awareness, and Bliss.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Practicing Bhakti

By Abhijeet Kislay

Using just the power of thought, if a person tries to distance oneself from one’s body and mind via the sheer power of “Not This, Not This,” and remains established as “That” -- This is the process of the Jnani. Unless a real experience happens where that person sees themselves completely separated from the body-mind, this step generally ends up in farce intellectualism or a plain white lie. Though from the outside, that person thumps their fist and says that “I am That,” if it is not a reality within, it is best categorized as an attempt or worse, hypocrisy. Time and again spiritual teachers have cautioned seekers about this.

Now it is widely understood that directly using the above method of a Jnani is not easy, as most of us lack proper qualifications in the starting. Another method more natural and easy that is prescribed freely for the same end-result is the path of Bhakti. That very Brahman, that the seeker was so adamant earlier to seek an identity unto immediately, is now seen as a separate entity as the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-Free, the Almighty Ishvara whose own nature is inexpressible Love.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

God in Every Experience

By Abhijeet Kislay

Last time, we looked at the process of deification of the world given by Swami Vivekananda. This time, let us see how this is true from the angle of the Existence (Sat) aspect of Vedanta logically. Here we will be taking the help of the lecture: "God in every experience" by Swami Sarvapriyananda to keep the discussion coherent.
 
God hides in every experience that we have and is revealed as the Consciousness that enables us to have these experiences of seeing, hearing, talking, thinking, feeling etc. Let us take the example of seeing an object and try to understand this experience in four stages.

 1.  Here is a coffee-cup that I am seeing right now.

 2. Is it just a coffee-cup? Well, think deeply: Is it just a coffee-cup or an experience of coffee-cup? Yes! I am seeing a coffee-cup. Thus just by two logical steps, we see that it is shallow to think of an object independently. The observer (or the subject) has to come into picture.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Deification of the World

By Abhijeet Kislay

The great gift that Swami Vivekananda brought with his angle of the Vedantic teachings was to practicalize Vedanta so that it can be held as an ideal even by a common man. One major step in this regard can be seen in his lecture titled “God in Everything” delivered in London in 1896.

Some excerpts clarify how he elucidated Vedanta for modern times:

“Here I can only lay before you what the Vedanta seeks to teach, and that is the deification of the world. The Vedanta does not in reality denounce the world. The ideal of renunciation nowhere attains such a height as in the teachings of the Vedanta. But, at the same time, dry suicidal advice is not intended; it really means deification of the world -- giving up the world as we think of it, as we know it, as it appears to us -- and to know what it really is. Deify it; it is God alone.”

Then he beautifully explains the above with a common everyday example for a householder:

We have to cover  everything with the Lord Himself, not by a false sort of optimism, not by blinding our eyes to the evil, but by really seeing God in everything. What is meant? You can have your wife; it does not mean that you are to abandon her, but that you are to see God in the wife. Give up your children; what does that mean? To turn them out of doors, as some human brutes do in every country? Certainly not. That is diabolism; it is not religion. But see God in your children. So, in everything. In life and in death, in happiness and in misery, the Lord is equally present.”

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Power of Philosophy

By Abhijeet Kislay 

A great Swami used to say time and again that: “Academic philosophers are puzzled by their books, but the Real Philosophers are puzzled by life that surrounds them.”

Philosophy achieves this because it is but a concentrated mixture of Principled Truths that have come into existence after deep realizations that humans have gotten over last thousands of centuries. (At least this definition of philosophy is the one that interests me and will be discussed in this post.) 

One way to test a statement as Truth (or Principle) vs. intellectual-jumble is to see if the same principle can hold true through the test of time and space. And when these truths are put into our lives, these gives us tools to rely on!

In this post, we will try to don the hat of a Real Philosopher and see some insights from this kind of philosophy.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Dichotomy of the Ego Function of the Mind

 By Abhijeet Kislay

As per the small booklet “The MIND and its control” by Swami Budhananda, the mind in its functional aspect has four faculties:
1.  Manas is that modification of the internal instrument (antahkarana) which considers the pros and cons of a subject. 
2.  Buddhi is that modification of the internal instrument which determines. 
3.  Citta is that modification of the internal instrument which remembers. 
4.  Ahamkara is that modification of the inner instrument which is characterized by self-consciousness.
The Ahamkara (translated as Ego in English) is the function of the mind which tries to appropriate actions done by various parts of the body-mind to a central Identity (the small self). This function of the mind, as such, is not a bad thing. It is because of this function that we can as a unified single perform actions in the world.

A simple example would be:
  
While working say in the office, we don’t say that, “Oh it is my hand that is typing the document and it is my eyes that is reviewing the email.” Rather, we say that I typed the document and I reviewed the email.