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Passions in Poetry

Peace of Mind After All These Years

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Stephanos
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25 posted 12-24-2005 08:20 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Your analogy, I think, says much about your arguments, Stephen, and serves well to strengthen Baba's/Michael's point.


I can think of at least one River (described in the book of Revelation) that is not described as finite.  Who is limiting God now?  To say that he can't have definition and still be divine, is a limiting statement.


"Infinite" in Hindu philosophy and "eternal" in Christian Theology are two different things.  One is absolutely inclusive, the other is absolutely determinate.  There is a difference.  If God is determinate of things being good and others being not good ... if God has a personality ... if God has definable attributes then all-inclusiveness doesn't fit with his revelation to us.  


That's my point... not that Baba is completely wrong.  I actually agree with him. that by the grace of God, people who hold different religions can still see much truth and be prepared, as it were, for the gospel ... the gospel both affirming, and correcting certain things.  And in a way that's true of the most "Christian" settings too.  I just have to insist that he is still himself, not the impersonal "ALL" of Hinduism, New-age philosophy, and Neo-orthodoxy.  If God makes any distinctions between righteousness and unrighteousness, or between truth and non-truth, the river has banks, no matter how infinite it is.    

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-24-2005 08:53 AM).]

Ron
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26 posted 12-24-2005 01:30 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I just have to insist that he is still himself, not the impersonal "ALL" of Hinduism, New-age philosophy, and Neo-orthodoxy.

I'm not quite as willing to tell God what He can and can't be, Stephen. Nor am I so convinced He has told me all He has to tell.

Parent, child, lover, best friend -- I doubt I know anyone well enough to definitively define them as a human being. I don't think I know even myself that well. Forgive me if I'm unwilling to accept that God is so simple.


Essorant
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27 posted 12-24-2005 04:02 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

But saying that God is neccessarily complex, and always too complex to be understood, is also putting a limitation on him.  

Surely if something as little as a crumb may be simple and understood, someone as mighty as God can be too.      

Baba Michi
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28 posted 12-24-2005 04:48 PM       View Profile for Baba Michi   Email Baba Michi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Baba Michi

  JCP, it may be that Stephanos believes in only one way, but I respect that, and am not trying to change anyone's beliefs on this forum.  I just really love to argue.  Stephanos, this has been a wonderful debate, and afterwards, I look forward to ending this destructive conflict and ruling the galaxy as father and son.  

  With that said... I'd like to begin by reasserting my criterion for what constitutes a "correct" spiritual path as opposed to just flying off in the wrong direction.  I never said that being happy with one's beliefs is a sign that their beliefs are valid, or that any path will do.  I said that production and cultivation of the fruits of the spirit- kindness, compassion, humility, selfless love, wisdom, patience, etc. are the telltale signs of one who is on good terms with God.  Examples of bad paths?  Scientology, Satanism, and anyone whose cult involves suicide.  I do not think that they are correct by any means, and so I am not a relativist.  

  Absolute objectivism intersects and corrects subjectivity when the invidvidual sits down to pray, meditate, do yoga, whatever, with an incorrect concept or question about how they should live their lives in accordance with the Spirit, and during this time with God, the correction comes through insight.  To put it another way, I believe that God has different plans for everyone, and it is up to the individual to tune in and listen to what it is.  Therefore, the objective fact is that God works with everyone in different ways, so that everyone's spiritual path is unique.  They all share common qualities, which is the objective factor, but the subjective factor can not come from simple obedience to society's rules and ideas about God.  It comes from within.  

I never said that one finds salvation without Jesus.  However, conflict between Christianity and other religions occur because of limited definitions of Jesus Christ.  Hastily answering the question "What and who is/was Jesus?" is the problem.  As with God, defining Jesus creates limited mental scenarios which give rise to the type of questions children always ask, the most common being "What happens to the people who've never heard of him?"  If we confine recognition of Jesus to be something which merely occurs at the physical level, as I've said before, then we have not grasped his glory or his sacrifice in the most critical ways. Yes, Jesus was a real person, the Son of God, who performed miracles, but as such, he was also a highly spiritual being, free of illusion, and most capable of putting spiritual truths into their approximate human language equivalents.  Concentrating on the historical background of his physical personage is a rich, educational pursuit, but not central to his message of love.   Spiritualizing Jesus's message is the most useful and productive thing anyone could possibly do with it, because spiritual truth is, really, the only constant truth.  Everything else is in a state of constant flux and change.  

  The naturalness with which my mind reports to me is no indicator of whether or not the subject of its report is being correctly interpreted.  Our natural inclinations are generally based on habit and prior experience, and are certainly useful for mundane affairs, but in dealing with something as complex and transcendent as Jesus's message, we must go way deeper than "what our minds naturally tell us."  

  I certainly don't doubt the textual accuracy of the bible.  Making it out to be some kind've flawed document is, of course, a copout, and generally used by people who don't want to take the time to think about it, and that's something I think we can all agree on.  However, if an "ephemeral" interpretation of the scriptures causes us to throw out doctrines which prevent us from condescending to other religions, I think it is a line of thought worth pursuing.  Yes, my interpretations of the scriptures are very fluid, and very spiritual, but that's because I believe it ought to be applicable in any situation anywhere, at any point in earth's history or future.  Spiritual truths are by their very nature fluid and, well, spiritual.  Attaching them to physical, transient events and circumstances may serve quite well for particular cultures at particular times, but spiritual truths do not require physical details in order to be valid, and with a literal, physical interpretation, one is presented with the contradictions which plague cross-culture religious dialogue.  Eastern religions are not often based on historical events and places, but that far from renders them invalid or inferior to christian beliefs.  A spiritual truth is a spiritual truth, regardless of its historical/sociological circumstances, and the sooner a person can cut the fat and get to the heart of what's most important, the better, which is what buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism try to do.    

If scientists were to disprove (this is, of course, theoretical; i believe in all Jesus's miracles because my intuition tells me he truly was awesome like that) that Jesus had actually performed any of the miracles it was purported he did, it wouldn't matter in the slightest to someone who had benefited from his teachings and met him in their own heart.  Spiritual truths are the only valid guidelines by which to live, and basing the validity of Jesus solely, or even mostly, on physical circumstances only distorts his message.

I also believe that wrong beliefs can hurt, but if one defines wrong beliefs simply as "different than one's own" then they are isolating themselves from others, and this is against Jesus's message of loving others freely and without reservation.  There can not be condescension mixed into one's love and respect.  

  When moving from unknown to unknown, one develops a sense of humility about the ignorance of the human state of being, that we cannot truly "know" anything intellectually, and forces one to live a more spiritually virtuous life.  Dogma is a substitution for real spiritual knowledge and experience.  

As for my statements about scientific law, I should've gone ahead into that topic while I was on it.  Every scientific law ever put forth by man has been later shown to be false or severely flawed, and the current ones are, as we speak, being re-examined.  With the advent of quantum mechanics, re-examination of basic concepts about gravity, time, the "emptiness" of space, and the possiblity that everything is inter-connected are what scientists have their hands full with right now.  Science constantly uproots itself in an attempt to get to the bottom of things, and in the process, shows that we human beings build our picture of the universe on top of shakey, constantly-changing "laws", observed and filtered by a limited, biological organ.  When I said "always", I did not mean it in an eternal sense, only in the sense that a given phenomenon has not been observed which would prove otherwise.  But that could change at any time, as it is currently for many of the basic "laws" that we used to hold as solid.  

Baba Michi
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29 posted 12-24-2005 05:20 PM       View Profile for Baba Michi   Email Baba Michi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Baba Michi

Again, Buddhism...

  First of all, the aim of buddhism is not to destroy or abolish anything, least of all the Self.  It is to become non-attached to desire and the Self in order to experience Absolute Reality.  Being non-attached to something does not mean pushing it away or destroying it.  That's detachment.  Neither is it embracing- attachment.  It is a state of peace and harmony with all things that is the natural result of quieting the mind and becoming aware.  The moral or qualitative nature of enlightenment as opposed to non-enlightenment is likewise lacking in any such inherent value.  

  The assignment of values to ideas, actions, or things, depends on the objective of the one assigning.  The Buddha's lifegoal was to show as many people as possible the way he had discovered to enlightenment.  Therefore, values of "good and "evil" (actually, these terms are not used in buddhism;  instead, actions are classified as to whether they are "skillful" or "unskillful" in relation to the goal of waking up) are merely temporary concepts, as I've said before, adopted in order to achieve that goal, and are not rightly part of buddhist metaphysical concepts.  Siddhartha Gautama did not criticize the lifestyles of the rich, because he thought they were inherently bad or evil.  He was merely pointing out that such habits do not promote enlightenment.  As to the "betterness" of enlightenment as opposed to other states of being, an experienced buddhist does not use subjunctive forms of grammar in reference to it.  There is no "should be" "ought to have been"  or "would be better" about enlightenment.  That is why buddhists see no reason to run around trying to convert as many people as possible.  It's simply an option, a way, and they do not view it as superior to other states of being.  It just so happens that many people find the idea of enlightenment preferable; however, this is not indicative of buddhist thought, but a commonly held perception independent of buddhist doctrine.  
  If accounts of the buddha's life are to be taken the least bit seriously, then no, pure bliss is not outside observation.  I still don't see why you find Karma to be an irrational concept.  It's very useful.  As you sow, so shall you reap and all that good stuff, what goes around comes around, etc.  Karma is just the name given to a property of the universe, stemming from the essential oneness of all things.  It logically follows that, in order to be at harmony with the universe, one takes into account its properties and the ways it works.  Arranging one's working methods around an undeniable force in the universe is not "attributing too much" to it, any more than putting engines on airplanes is attributing too much to gravity.    
Baba Michi
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30 posted 12-24-2005 06:16 PM       View Profile for Baba Michi   Email Baba Michi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Baba Michi

And as for Hinduism...

  I never said that Hindus approach the primary question of spirituality "more directly" than Christians do.  I merely contend that to say that Christians do it more directly or more accurately is presumptuous.
  Yes, Hindus do hold their arms very wide, but is there such a thing as "too wide" when dealing with infinity?  Furthermore, saying that their picture of "who/what God is" is extremely ambiguous is completely inaccurate.  Multiple accounts of him/her are given, yes.  They are often abstract and require long contemplation, yes, but they are not all that difficult once you've spent some time getting comfortable with them.  Any Hindu will tell you that the idea of there being many gods is only to account for the fact that God has so many qualities (being infinite and all), but that one God is something at the root of Hindu tradition.  In fact, sometimes instead of using the name of a particular deity, some texts simply say "aspect."  
  God, as viewed by Hinduism, is certainly not featureless or lacking in personality, a statement that makes me wonder just how much Hindu literature you've actually read.  I firmly believe that the idea of God having many aspects is also a very strong theme within the bible, and is perfectly compatible with Hinduism.  Hindus could even be said to be more descriptive of God.  In fact, many Hindus are exclusively monotheists.  Others believe that the divine is in everything in the natural world, and I agree with them.  If the Holy Spirit isn't breathing life into the world, what is?  Implying that the Hindu perception of God as having many different manifestations is idolatrous is like saying that Christians are hypocrites for talking to burning bushes or for worshipping three Gods; the level of contemplation given to the trinity is also necessary for the study of hinduism.  
  
  Spiritual discrimination, used within the Buddhist or Hindu context, is, as I've said before, not an explicit statement about the state or arrangment of the universe itself.  Discrimination is cultivated and used so that we can see through the illusions of ignorant views aobut life in order to experience its essential oneness.  This is not to say that illusions are not part of the universe, that they are bad, or that buddhists/hindus try to destroy them.  In the interests of living a spiritually rich life, one cultivates discrimination and steers clear of illusion in order to bring themselves closer to God.  So, simply put:

Step 1:  illusion of separateness
Step 2:  use of discrimination
Step 3:  experience of oneness

They are not mutually exclusive elements, but rather different steps of the same equation, much as Water isn't "contradictory" to chemical bonding or hydrogen.  
  
  Believing that the judeo-christian definitions or qualitative experiences with God are more valid than those of other religions is undefendable.  God never came down with the explicit purpose of trying to explain exactly who he was or how he worked.  Therefore, we can conclude that this is not information he thought was all that important in our spiritual walks.  He will guide us towards towards him/herself in whatever way he/she sees fit, and if illustrating notions of itself in different manifestations helps, then so be it.  That is the Hindu take on defining God.  

In other words, although the judeo-christian view of God is nowhere near as nonspecific as buddhism or hinduism, in order to explain to other religions why christianity has a more accurate view of him they would have to prove that any given quality of God within the said religions was completely false, in a definite way.

Baba Michi
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31 posted 12-24-2005 06:51 PM       View Profile for Baba Michi   Email Baba Michi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Baba Michi

This is my last point for the evening...  *backs slowly away as he is menaced with a lightsaber, cradling hewn hand*  I'LL NEVER JOIN YOU!

  Essorant, you have a good point.  That is why, when asked if enlightened monks became reborn, the Buddha simply said:  The term "reborn" does not apply, the term "not reborn" does not apply, and the terms "both reborn and not reborn" do not apply.  He is profound, immeasurable, unfathomable, like the great ocean...  

Acceptance of Jesus depends first on determining who he is.  If Jesus were simply a man, or the Son of God in any isolated sort of way, then salvation would, according to his written word, be made possible only through knowledge of said personage.  However, Jesus is identified as part of an inseperable, indivisible, eternal trinity, and that means that dealing with one aspect, one any level of one's being, of the trinity (the Holy Spirit or the Father) means that they are simultaneously dealing with all aspects of the trinity.  Therefore, if, due to prompting by one's conscience, discontent with life, or whatever, a person chooses to align their consciousness (that is to say, their mind, body, and soul) with that inner presence, then they are as saved as saved can get, and will not need introduction to any gospel in the afterlife, because they will have already accepted Jesus in the most intimate way.  Therefore, a path must be chosen (and not just any path, a good'un) which cultivates the qualities necessary for such an inner relationship, and it is my assertion that Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism are equal to one another in this regard.  

  Well... having safely dispelled any ideas that I might have a social life, I will now retire to bed.     Frohe Weihnacht, alle!
Stephanos
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32 posted 12-26-2005 10:17 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Baba,

It has been an enjoyable interchange.  And I do appreciate your humor and your courtesy.              


Let's continue ...

quote:
I never said that one finds salvation without Jesus.  However, conflict between Christianity and other religions occur because of limited definitions of Jesus Christ.  Hastily answering the question "What and who is/was Jesus?" is the problem.  As with God, defining Jesus creates limited mental scenarios which give rise to the type of questions children always ask, the most common being "What happens to the people who've never heard of him?"



No, you never said that  But are you adquately addressing the problem of a too wide, non-specific definition of Christ?  I've conceded your point about truth in other religions ... even Christ at work in other religious settings.  How I marvel and appreciate how gracious God was to the Magi, (in the Nativity story in the Bible), who were probably Babylonian astrologers.  Here was a very eastern, even occultic pagan tradition, out of which came ardent worshippers of Christ.  The wideness of God's power and influence are astounding, and often, from unexpected quarters, we see such examples.  Of course, Babylon did have a strain of influence through the Old Testament Daniel, of the One True God.  And who knows but that example of Daniel didn't create a crude but passionate following outside of Israel, of Israel's God?  But if not, can we realistically imagine that the discovery of Christ by the Magi, merely resulted in them returning home to the same religious expressions, without reform, correction, or renunciation?  I can't.    


You've already rightly said that Christ, being the Son of God, was also a historical person.  That alone, warrants close attention to what he said and did.  You've already rightly said that trumping up historical faults with the Bible is avoidance of the issue.  So, what best makes sense out of the kinds of things Jesus actually said?  The attempt to harmonize Hindu/ Buddhist philosophy with Jesus, is an enterprise which tends to leave us with large portions of text, unexplained and unelucidated.  And worse, those excerpts in their own context, if read in an ordinary way, deny or contradict the all-inclusiveness of Eastern religion.  


And don't misrepresent my use of the word "ordinary".  It would be very easy to take my description of "ordinary reading", and make it seem unimaginative or unspiritual, and the sycretistic way therefore "extraordinary". What I really mean by "ordinary", is the most common and contextual way we would read any text.  It is not flying away from the text to force it into another system, or a preconceived view, but reading as you would read other narrative / historical texts.  


The same phenomenon happened, I think, with your use of "spiritual" versus "physical".  The connotation of the word "spiritual" (in the sense of being the opposite of unspiritual) is a positive one.  So if your intepretation of a scripture is more "spiritual", and mine more "physical", you seem to gain by the positive connotation of the word, because mine is assumed to be unspiritual.  But the word spiritual, as the opposite of physical, is a  totally different sense of the word.  And the positive connotation shouldn't be counted on.  Actually spiritual and physical are both neutral words, as far as being sacred (ie spiritual) is concerned.  A demonic spirit is "spiritual" in one sense, but nevertheless devilish in nature.  A loving mother breastfeeding her infant is "physical" in once sense, but nevertheless can be sacred.  I just wanted to clarify that.  


So, this "ordinary" way of reading and understanding text, is what is lost, when one tries to allow the Hindu/Buddhist system to absorb the Christian God, as it has millions of other gods.  Others refer to this different approach of things as "exoteric" versus "esoteric" interpretation.  Sadly, "exoteric interpretation" is maligned with bad connotations again ... of being too-strict, narrow, unimaginative, unspiritual.  "Esoteric interpretations", however, are laced with positive descriptions of being liberated, enlightened, unbound by man's rules, spiritual etc ...  


While there are spiritual truths in scripture, and deep symbolic poetic interpretations (I have nothing against that).  They still must not ignore or contradict the ground-level interpretation, of what was done or said in space-time.  If the spiritual contradicts and actually refutes the physical, then we have gone astray, by dividing the word of God against itself into a Kirkegaardian dualism.  And it's not that I'm against speculating and seeing what truth may be seen in scripture.  But unless a person has truly wrestled with the New Testament words as simple reportage of a historical person who claimed to be divine, I don't think he's really fitted for such speculation.  Because there is no corrective anchor to keep one away from the rocks.  


I wonder how many are struggling on the rocks even now, ideologically speaking, overwhelmed by post-modern thought or Eastern philosophy .  I wonder, for instance, if some professing Christians are now finding it difficult to even say that the statements  "Jesus is the son of God" and "Jesus is not the son of God" must be mutually exclusive.  The Bible says expressly that our faith stands upon the one, and falls upon the other.  

quote:
Concentrating on the historical background of his physical personage is a rich, educational pursuit, but not central to his message of love.   Spiritualizing Jesus's message is the most useful and productive thing anyone could possibly do with it, because spiritual truth is, really, the only constant truth.  Everything else is in a state of constant flux and change.



This is an example of what I was mentioning before.  Does the Bible seem to suggest that the historical aspect of Christ is "not central" to his message of love?  I would say that it is central enough, that without it we fall into heresy.  If you study Church history, Docetism was the error of those who divorced Christ from human history.  It has been refuted quite thoroughly using the testimony of scripture.  It was espoused mainly by the Gnostics, who leaned more toward such a "spiritual" interpretation of Jesus Christ.  It's interesting that the Gnostics did not have much success in supporting their views from the earliest writings of the New Testament.  They went on to write their views in additional texts (pseudepigraphal).  Why?  Because that annoying tendency for men to read texts, as if they actually meant what they said, made the apostolic texts inadequate for the purposes of Gnosticism.


Everything is in flux or change, including the space-time history of Jesus Christ?  Consider the following scriptures, and ask yourself how central historical facts are, to the message of the gospel:


"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-6)

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

(1 Corinthians 15:12-17)


Again, if I may respectfully say ... The Hindu/Buddhist system can easily absorb the Christian History as just another "divine" text, without the need of it being historically or spiritually true.  But that results in nothing but an emasculation of any text with exclusive truth claims.  It deconstructs the text, as it were, and then says, "What it really means is ... Hinduism".  When things in the historic text are pointed out, which tend to counter that view, the Hindu system has that covered.  History is either denied, or made insignificant based on a fiat of Eastern Philosophy.  Therefore it can be ignored, or reinterpreted in a purely aphoristic way ... divorced from reality, and the need to think about what Christ really said.  Christ becomes a nebulous sage, that is admired for the generalized glow of persona and imagery, rather than for his very real body of teaching, and his very real actions.


quote:
but in dealing with something as complex and transcendent as Jesus's message, we must go way deeper than "what our minds naturally tell us."


Why do we have to abandon "what our minds naturally tell us" about a text, to go way deeper?  We only have to do that if we accept the fracturing dualism that a Pantheistic view of The Bible creates ... a dichotomy between history and "spiritual" truth.


quote:
Eastern religions are not often based on historical events and places, but that far from renders them invalid or inferior to christian beliefs.  A spiritual truth is a spiritual truth, regardless of its historical/sociological circumstances, and the sooner a person can cut the fat and get to the heart of what's most important, the better, which is what buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism try to do.



I agree, and spiritual truths can even be derived from stories that didn't actually happen.  Consider Greek Myths or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  But when something really happened (as you concede the New Testament to be accurate in its history), is there any need to choose or divide?   History and Spiritual Truth are equally important, why not accept both.  The distinction, is artificial.  


quote:
f scientists were to disprove (this is, of course, theoretical; i believe in all Jesus's miracles because my intuition tells me he truly was awesome like that) that Jesus had actually performed any of the miracles it was purported he did, it wouldn't matter in the slightest to someone who had benefited from his teachings and met him in their own heart.



Consider the scriptures I quoted earlier. Wouldn't you at least admit that the Bible (as a whole) says differently, if you take it as it reads?  It would be more honest to say that you lean toward the Pantheistic view, rather than the Biblical one, than to try and say the Bible is really affirming the Pantheistic.  Here is an example of where, to maintain your view, you'll have to completely disregard, deny, or trivialize a significant portion of scripture that plainly states that if Christianity were just another aphoristic philosophical religion, and not stubbornly historical, that such faith would be futile.      


quote:
When moving from unknown to unknown, one develops a sense of humility about the ignorance of the human state of being, that we cannot truly "know" anything intellectually, and forces one to live a more spiritually virtuous life.



So your epistemology is that you can't know anything intellectually?  Then why are you debating on a philosophy forum as if you really know that you can't know anything?  

Stubbornness, unwillingness to hear, anger, lack of humility, can all be a result of dogmatic belief.  But you can't say that's the cause.  The human heart, sinful, and selfish is the cause.  Am I ever that way?  I'm sure I am, and when I'm a Jerk, I want to apologize.  But you must understand that anti-dogma is one of the most doggedly dogmatic dogmas in town.  Just think about Mike.  I missed THE bus didn't I?              


quote:
  Dogma is a substitution for real spiritual knowledge and experience.



Another false dichotomy.  It may be, but it need not be.  Some of the most virtuous people I've known are very dogmatic as far as religious beliefs are concerned.


quote:
First of all, the aim of Buddhism is not to destroy or abolish anything, least of all the Self.



What about the teaching of anatta (no self)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

quote:
As to the "betterness" of enlightenment as opposed to other states of being, an experienced buddhist does not use subjunctive forms of grammar in reference to it.  There is no "should be" "ought to have been"  or "would be better" about enlightenment.



Perhaps with a monistic view of reality, it is hard to speak with subjective forms of grammar.  But even if that's the case, Buddhist teaching is not without prescriptive language ... which emphasizes one thing and not another.  Such prescriptive language, and even the word "enlightenment" itself holds the concept of "good / better" inherently.  The Buddhist may deny such a connotation, but the attractiveness of his teaching depends upon it.  The Buddhist himself also has to feel that enlightenment is a truly better path, or he wouldn't be urging and teaching others to take that path as well.  Consider the bodhisattva of Buddhism: an enlightened teacher who out of compassion, has refused to enter nirvana in order to help others along the way of enlightenment.  What sense would compassion make if there were no real category of "good"?  Remember I am not arguing that Buddhists don't deny such in their doctrines, but only that they do so inconsistently with their practice and teachings.

quote:
I still don't see why you find Karma to be an irrational concept.  It's very useful.  As you sow, so shall you reap and all that good stuff, what goes around comes around, etc.



It's not irrational.  But it is incompatible with the metaphysical views of Buddhism ... in which all actions and motives should really be indistinguishable, both pragmatically and morally.  But here is this "thing" in the universe which sets up a hierarchy.  A hierarchy within a monistic system makes no sense.  If it stands "above" the monad of nature, then it has ceased to be monistic, and is more compatible with the Judeo-Christian view.  Karma actually imposes a dualism upon a closed system ... a clue that something is wrong with idea of a closed cyclical cosmos.

quote:
Yes, Hindus do hold their arms very wide, but is there such a thing as "too wide" when dealing with infinity?



I would say so, seeing that infinity is literally everything.  If everything is God, including contradiction, and non-truth, good and bad, life and death, etc ... then such a statement is indeed too wide to be meaningful.  You even lose God in the mix.  It's more irrational to say that everything is God, than simply to say everything is everything.  Why else do you think that Hindus worship Kali, a female representation of God with fangs and skulls hanging about her neck?  Because even the terrifying aspects of the universe, death, sickness, and cruelty, are all a part of what has always been ... what Hindus might call "god".  Distinction has been lost so that ugliness and futility is also considered part of the divine.


quote:
Acceptance of Jesus depends first on determining who he is.



Again, saying that believing that the Biblical view of Jesus is "limited", and to proceed to absorb and Christianity into a Pantheistic worldview,  is to accept something other than Christianity.  The Gnostics were refuted by the early Church for that same kind of doctrine.  One thing for certain, that view is heterodox.  And it would be more consistent for you to just say, "I disagree with the Bible when it asserts the exclusivity of Salvation through Jesus Christ, and align myself more with a monistic, pantheistic world view."      


Essorant:
quote:
But saying that God is neccessarily complex, and always too complex to be understood, is also putting a limitation on him.  

Surely if something as little as a crumb may be simple and understood, someone as mighty as God can be too.


That is very true, Ess. We shouldn't confuse exhaustive knowledge with genuine knowledge.  


Stephen


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-27-2005 01:36 AM).]

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"That is very true, Ess. We shouldn't confuse exhaustive knowledge with genuine knowledge.
Stephen"
excuse me, but have I been asleep or something? for I am not familiar with this distinction (but please, can you make it a short explanation? lol, thanks)
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I guess the short of it is this ... Whenever claims of Biblical certainty are made, or claims of divine revelation, someone inevitably attempts to refute it with the fact of our inability to know everything.  Because we are finite, it is said, we can never know anything about an infinite God.  But it does not follow that because we are finite, that God cannot communicate to us true knowledge about himself.  Especially if we are really created "in his image" with some capacity to communicate.  So knowledge need not be exhaustive (or to the fullest extent) in order to be genuine knowledge.


Stephen
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quote:
I wonder, for instance, if some professing Christians are now finding it difficult to even say that the statements  "Jesus is the son of God" and "Jesus is not the son of God" must be mutually exclusive.

Within the realms of omnipotence, how can any two things be mutually exclusive?
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36 posted 12-27-2005 12:22 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron:
quote:
Within the realms of omnipotence, how can any two things be mutually exclusive?



According to your view ... omnipotence and any two things which are mutually exclusive, are mutually exclusive?


When you do away with proper antithesis, and make God's omnipotence to be all-inclusive, rather than the power to do all things worthy of doing (determined by him), excluding non-sense, lying, doing evil, etc ...  haven't you stepped outside of a Biblical definition of omnipotence, and accepted your own philosophical one?

Stephen.
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quote:
When you do away with proper antithesis, and make God's omnipotence to be all-inclusive, rather than the power to do all things worthy of doing (determined by him), excluding non-sense, lying, doing evil, etc ...  haven't you stepped outside of a Biblical definition of omnipotence, and accepted your own philosophical one?

Biblical definition of omnipotence, Stephen? I'm not sure I've ever seen one of those?

Doesn't matter. Even if we let you define omnipotence any way you wish, Stephen, once defined, as the words I've highlighted above might suggest, it passes beyond your personal control of it. Logically, you can no more tell us what God deems worthy of doing than you can presume to tell us what God can or can't do.

If God wants to do something that seems to defy mortal comprehension, like, oh I don't know, be three beings that are only one being, I for one won't try to tell Him that He can't. Similarly, if He wants to reveal a Contradictory Truth to Buddha or Muhammad, it won't be me calling Him a liar any time soon. Limitations, where they exist, are mine, and I would be a fool to try to impose my own lack of full understanding on God. The child sees contradictions that only make the adult smile knowingly.

The very existence of God creates paradoxes. Whether one rejects them as contradictions or accepts them as miracles, the paradoxes will nonetheless remain.


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38 posted 12-27-2005 05:27 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

But where is Satan, "The Father of Lies" in your equation?  The Judeo-Christian God doesn't acknowledge everything as truth.  The "determined by him" part is exactly right, you can underscore that, and I'll even help.  But a written revelation, full of antithesis, says that much of it has been revealed.  

You accuse me of determining truth for God.  And yet I only encourage a plain-man's reading of the words of scripture, to support my case, not philosophical jujitsu.  You however won't even speak to me on that basal level of coming to terms with scripture.  How does leaping always to Quantam mechanics, or a post-modern epistemology, get to the heart of the matter?  


Your position sounds credible, as a thinking Christian, until you actually suggested maybe Jesus could be the son of God, and not the son of God at the same time. Could you actually comment on that theologically, and try and help me come to a real-world understanding of how such a thing might be, and how it might be compatible with orthodox faith?  If not, perhaps we'll just agree to disagree again, and drop this portion of the discussion for now.      


Stephen.
JesusChristPose
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"You accuse me of determining truth for God.  And yet I only encourage a plain-man's reading of the words of scripture, to support my case, not philosophical jujitsu."

~ Many men, and women too, read the words of scripture and many of those people understand it quite differently from each other.  I can't determine truth for God, but I can respect practically all religions while understanding that the Creator does not rely on one way for His/Her people to "connect" with Him/Her.

~ I think I have said this before, but I'll say it again anyway... Why would any person believe that God, having created so many different types of people, cultures, languages, etc., limit Himself to only one way in understanding, so that Her people could be eventually "saved?"

That doesn't make sense to me at all. There is no doubt in my mind, that in every religion, God's truth can be found, and it is only through the human-kind, where the flaws, half-truths, lies, etc. originated and have grown to what we have today.
  

"If this grand panaorama before me is what you call God... then God is not dead."

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smiling here, JCP.
Yep. S(HE) is above all our human descriptions and beyond our cubby-hole positions.
That's IF there is any entity out there behind those clouds.
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quote:
~ Many men, and women too, read the words of scripture and many of those people understand it quite differently from each other.

True, but don't you concede that the Bible (when read as any other text might be read) states that salvation comes exclusively through the person of Jesus Christ?


Why not just say that you disagree with the Bible on this point, rather than to force it into a totally different system?


No one who wants to argue the "many paths" view ... is really addressing the texts of scripture.  Rather they are belaboring the point of their own philosophical views.  And to maintain such a view, is to do so at the expense of exegetical integrity, not with the support of it.  The evidence for what I'm saying?  Specific passages never get talked about ... but deftly avoided.  


Is anyone (who believes such a view) gonna be brave enough to admit that?  Is it because "Biblical" prestige and respect is to be had on one's side, even if it means to revise it?  I think a good lesson from the Gnostics is in order here!  (those good old fashioned type heretics, who admitted their departure from Biblical orthodoxy) They wrote addendums, because it wasn't beneficial for their new dogmas, to use the stubbornly orthodox texts.  But those were the days when one had to argue from texts to make much headway.  Today there seems to be a reliance upon a general philosophical presupposition (deconstructionism) which makes the text either irrelevant, or too fluid to say anything definite.  


This general mood is not as easily retained however, when the Biblical text is actually read.  It is simply my challenge that if anyone will explore what the Bible says, for themselves, resisting the prejudice that it is simply another mystically ambiguous text, they will find at least, that it honestly doesn't lend a verbal support of everythingism.  Then one may find themselves becoming more free, to either agree with, or disagree with it's fundamental message, and less constrained and dictated by the spirit of the age, which is an absolute denial of absolutes, and amalgamation at all costs.  


Stephen.
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Ron and Stephanos:

You guys could save yourselves a lot of time if you realized you should be talking about God's sovereignty rather than his omnipotence.  Sure He's powerful ... He's God.  What's far more interesting than His power, however, is that nothing - nomatter how terrible it might seem at any given time - escapes His will.

Stephanos, your reference to the Magi (actually, Magians ... Medo-Persian, I think, rather than Babylonian, but I could be wrong) is an excellent example of God's sovereignty.  After the Babylonians destroyed the Jewish Temple and exhiled the Jews from their homeland, a very superstitious cast of people living in and around the Babylonian emperial territory (the Magians) became exposed to the Hebrew faith, including the writings of the prophet Isaiah.  The Magians who purportedly saved Jesus' life would never have known of the significance of his birth had it not been for the cruelty of the Babylonians.

Enjoying this from the sidelines ... wish I had more time to play.

Baba:

quote:
Therefore, if, due to prompting by one's conscience, discontent with life, or whatever, a person chooses to align their consciousness (that is to say, their mind, body, and soul) with that inner presence, then they are as saved as saved can get, and will not need introduction to any gospel in the afterlife, because they will have already accepted Jesus in the most intimate way.  Therefore, a path must be chosen (and not just any path, a good'un) which cultivates the qualities necessary for such an inner relationship, and it is my assertion that Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism are equal to one another in this regard.


Sounds good, but it simply doesn't demonstrate a fundamental understanding of Christology - the Atonement, propitiation, justification, the meaning of "second Adam," or even the very purpose of or need for the Incarnation.  Why would God "clothe" Himself in flesh if all man needed to do was take the bypass directly to God's "inner" being?  Maybe my problem is that I'm assuming the Jesus that Paul worshipped is the Jesus of history.  If Paul was mistaken, then surely I'm mistaken as well and you are right.  But if Paul is not, then ...

Mandamus
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Mandamus:
quote:
Maybe my problem is that I'm assuming the Jesus that Paul worshipped is the Jesus of history.

And maybe my problem is that I'm assuming that the Biblical writers could write well enough to make that point clear.    


Stephen.
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quote:
Your position sounds credible, as a thinking Christian, until you actually suggested maybe Jesus could be the son of God, and not the son of God at the same time. Could you actually comment on that theologically, and try and help me come to a real-world understanding of how such a thing might be, and how it might be compatible with orthodox faith?

Real-world understanding, Stephen? I guess it depends on your world. In my real world water doesn't turn to wine and dead men don't get up and walk. So, no, I can't offer any real-world understanding. If I could, of course, there would be no need for faith.

As to being compatible with orthodox faith, that again is going to depend on whose orthodoxy you want to pursue.

Still, I think most would probably insist that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the son of God, since of course Jesus IS God. Then again, the Father is also God, so your choice of wording is certainly (I wanted to say understandable, but I doubt any really understand it) not unusual. That would mean Jesus is the son of God in the sense that the Father is God, but Jesus is not the son of God in the sense that He's not the son of Himself or of the Holy Spirit.

Am I just arguing silly semantics? Maybe. Or maybe human language and logic were never designed to accommodate the infinite. I might be arguing that you've already accepted, through faith, countless paradoxes that can't possibly be explained in your real-world life, not because those paradoxes make sense to you, but only because you have become habituated to them over the course of your whole life. To believe that Jesus is at once the Son of God and, simultaneously and eternally, IS God is to already accept a paradox as true, poor choice of words notwithstanding.

quote:
There is no doubt in my mind, that in every religion, God's truth can be found, and it is only through the human-kind, where the flaws, half-truths, lies, etc. originated and have grown to what we have today.

I envy you, Mike, that lack of doubt.

I have many doubts, including a very strong one that "every" religion contains God's truth, and an even stronger one that ANY religion contains (or is even capable of containing) the whole truth. However, my strongest doubts are still reserved for my own limitations. I doubt I am able to tell which religions are true and which are complete fabrications.

Fortunately, I also doubt the fate of humanity will ever rest on what I do or don't known.


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"I have many doubts, including a very strong one that "every" religion contains God's truth, and an even stronger one that ANY religion contains (or is even capable of containing) the whole truth. However, my strongest doubts are still reserved for my own limitations. I doubt I am able to tell which religions are true and which are complete fabrications."


~ I understand your point, Ron. I think maybe I should word it differently. Not religions, but I believe there people who worship in various religions, who understand certain truths given to them by God - each in his/her own way.
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46 posted 12-27-2005 10:15 PM       View Profile for JesusChristPose   Email JesusChristPose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JesusChristPose

"True, but don't you concede that the Bible (when read as any other text might be read) states that salvation comes exclusively through the person of Jesus Christ?"

~ For those people who can understand that particular way. Who are we to say that God, Jesus in this case, (as the trinity still bothers me and I can't understand it and actually find it to be false... which if I am wrong about that, why would God not allow one of his creations find the Trinity doctrine to be true, especially since this person, me, has prayed for understanding) the entity, or spirit if you will that is known as Jesus by those people of that era, hasn't made himself known to other cultures, in other religions, and that the human kind titled that same spirit - Jesus -in one instance and not in others?

"No one who wants to argue the "many paths" view ... is really addressing the texts of scripture.  Rather they are belaboring the point of their own philosophical views."

~ We been down that road before. Even Jesus says, "In vain do they worship me, believing in doctrines of men." Philosophy of men has crept into the meaning of the Bible long long time ago.

"And to maintain such a view, is to do so at the expense of exegetical integrity, not with the support of it.  The evidence for what I'm saying?  Specific passages never get talked about ... but deftly avoided."

~ I have never deftly avoided any biblical passages. I simply disagree with how you, and many others, interpret it.
  

"If this grand panaorama before me is what you call God... then God is not dead."

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47 posted 12-27-2005 10:19 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron:
quote:
I might be arguing that you've already accepted, through faith, countless paradoxes that can't possibly be explained in your real-world life, not because those paradoxes make sense to you, but only because you have become habituated to them over the course of your whole life. To believe that Jesus is at once the Son of God and, simultaneously and eternally, IS God is to already accept a paradox as true, poor choice of words notwithstanding.

Now we're getting somewhere, and I see some very common ground.  You're right that I do accept paradoxes by faith, and not because they make complete "sense" to me.  But I think it's safe to say that the ones I accept (concerning God) are expressed and given assent in the pages of the Bible.  The Trinity for example.  


But there are other paradoxes which are not given assent in the Bible, and are actually refuted by the scriptures.  Let me suggest a few easy ones:  


God is wicked / God is good.  
God is a liar / It is impossible for God to lie
God has a personality (like a person) / God has no personality (like an idol of stone)
God created mankind/  Mankind created god.


If I will concede your point about apparant paradoxes, that Lions sometimes lie down with lambs, would you consider conceding my point about true paradoxes? ... that in reality do not rest together, and never will?  If you choose to remain agnostic about knowing which are which ... fine.  A partial concession will suit me for now.  I think the discomfort of an unbroken agnosticism will perhaps help you to at least doubt it, from time to time.  


And if I may say so, I think you deny certain paradoxes more than you admit.  For you to ever say and believe that "Jesus is Lord", you have to believe that the contrary is not true.  And the barest profession of Christianity, denies a paradox somewhere ... and to defend those kinds of paradoxes, I believe, would put one's faith in Jeopardy.  


Don't you remember how Peter was commended by Jesus himself for saying "You are the Christ, the son of the living God"?  That kind of confidence is good to have, and not surrender to the spirit of the age.  But maybe you exist Ron (my own personal paradox? lol), to remind me that Peter, immediately after his noble profession of faith, was also rebuked and corrected for not accepting a Paradox ... "This shall never happen to you!".


There's probably something in that story for the both of us.     But anyway, I think maybe I understand you a bit better now.  I hope maybe you are understanding me some better too.  


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-27-2005 11:03 PM).]

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quote:
Who are we to say that God, Jesus in this case ... hasn't made himself known to other cultures, in other religions, and that the human kind titled that same spirit - Jesus -in one instance and not in others?


If it is Jesus, how would you know it?  Do you believe in a Jesus of History?  If Jesus said everything that he said, concerning many things, then we find a number of things incompatible, in other religions.  If you want to say that Jesus is the author of what truth is in other religions, I have no problem with that.  That's actually what I believe.  But to say all religious beliefs are truth, and that all of it is a revelation of Jesus, is to not believe in the Jesus Christ of history, since so much does not comport.  And so, you may keep the word "Jesus", but that's not the Historical Jesus of Christian scriptures.  For example, even your question of one culture naming a "spirit" Jesus, is not in line with the historical account in the book of Luke, where the name "Jesus" is given to a human baby, through an angel.


I actually don't have a problem with you doubting whether or not scripture is an accurate portrayal of the historical Jesus ... if that's your position.  Of course, I disagree, and think that it's history is solid.  But if you are going to doubt that, then we are back at point of asking why don't you simply deny the Bible?  


If you're going to believe a doctrine of "all paths lead to god" ... why call him "Jesus" at all?  What is your connection point to a man who walked this earth and was named Jesus?  Why would you want to retain even that?  I'm just curious.


quote:
We been down that road before. Even Jesus says, "In vain do they worship me, believing in doctrines of men." Philosophy of men has crept into the meaning of the Bible long long time ago.



This illustrates my point.  You're doubting the integrity of the scriptures themselves, but using a part of those scriptures to make your point.  How do you know the saying of Jesus you quoted, is not a part of what was corrupted in scripture?  How do you differentiate?  What is your criteria for an acceptable scripture, or an unacceptable one?  


Stephen  
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quote:
If I will concede your point about apparant paradoxes, that Lions sometimes lie down with lambs, would you consider conceding my point about true paradoxes? ... that in reality do not rest together, and never will?  If you choose to remain agnostic about knowing which are which ... fine.  A partial concession will suit me for now.

Rest easy, then, my friend, because I certainly never tried to say that everything is a paradox or that all paradoxes are necessarily manifest. I simply refuse to restrain God by human logic, especially my own.

quote:
God is a liar / It is impossible for God to lie

I thought that an interesting choice of examples, Stephen, because you inadvertently create the classical Liar's Paradox when you attempt to prove or disprove either assertion by using scripture, i.e., the Word of God.

Still, I think God's veracity is probably at the very heart of this discussion. I don't believe God has ever directly lied to humanity, if only because there is no conceivable need for God to lie (not to mention that omnipotence insures that the Word of God immediately becomes the reality of man). However, I also believe God has never told any of us the WHOLE truth, because frankly, that would make the recipient of the whole truth into a god. I don't even have any reason to believe that God has told all of us the same truth. Some might argue our inability to grasp the entirety of God creates a very necessary lie of omission?

The bottom line is that even when I believe I know what God has told me, I can never know what God has not told me, and -- here's the paradox -- I can never be sure it won't appear to contradict what He has already said. My only real certainty (and certainty is always just another word for faith) is that it won't matter.


 
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