Does Love Conquer Hate?

 

While love may win over hate in the long run, it does not seem to do so in the short term. Hate and fear move us more than love. They release adrenalin, increase energy, and cause frenetic action. Love, on the other hand, is calming, contemplative and causes restraint.

The notion of going high when others go low is uplifting, but falling is easier than climbing.

So where does this leave us? I think we must recognize two things: First, love can win over hate and it can uplift individuals and societies. Second, we cannot rely on love without taking both offensive and defensive actions against hate. We must love energetically and fight vigorously against hate.

 

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The Bhagavad Gita’s Message

 

While the Bhagavad Gita embodies orthodox Hindu belief, there is considerable flexibility in the interpretation of this belief. In my view, the Gita sets forth pathways to the achievement of goodness which leads to complete happiness. Such goodness brings us revelation and release from the cycle of birth and death.

There are several pathways to become totally good and to attain the bliss faithful Hindus presumably seek. They all result in detachment from the material world and a merger into God. This merger can be achieved through devotional worship, or through pursuit of knowledge, or through performance of good deeds.

The question remains as to how God is defined. What is that which starts out as a spark within us and ends up as the God whom we absorb or who absorbs us?  In the Gita, The Lord Himself provides extensive explanations as to who He is, but in the end the explanations are so inclusive as to become just about everything. God even tells us He is everything, though everything is not God.

It is often said that journeys are not about reaching a destination, but about the journey itself. But the journey of life cannot be meaningful without a destination and for believers the Gita gives meaning and to both.

For more information, check out Irina Gajjar’s book The Gita at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

 

Goodness, Kindness, and Religion

 

Most religions equate goodness with godliness. The idea is that belief in some higher force promotes better behavior. Preachers and teachers explain why or how we will ultimately be rewarded by heaven or karma or the Lord if we do things like turning the other cheek, or forgiving, or praying or obeying authorities or helping our neighbors.

Meanwhile, we also have learned that our human behaviors and tendencies are to a large extent genetic. Our genes determine what foods we like, how open we are to religious beliefs and endless eccentricities in addition to our physical characteristics.

No doubt our circumstances mold our characters somewhat and they certainly affect our levels of happiness, our ability to grow and many behaviors, but I wonder about the human trait that I consider the most important: kindness. What makes some of us much kinder than others? Are there kindness genes?

One thing I have seen is that whatever our religious beliefs or feelings may be, they are not related to kindness. Still religious advice is mostly good especially if we take it as something we should practice rather than something we impose upon others.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

 

UFOs or UMPs

Starting in late in May of this year, reports of UFO’s or Unidentified Flying Objects have been resurrected. The US Military calls these things in the sky Unexplained Military Phenomena and the newest sightings have even become the subject of classified briefings to Congress.

Vague photos appeared on television and can be seen online. Reporting, based on statements from Navy pilots, notes that the objects performed maneuvers which are far beyond the capacity of our forces or of anything known to us.

As in the case of previous UFO sightings or purported sightings, these newest ones have made it into the news. Thus, the issue of extra-terrestrial beings and their potential relationship to humankind becomes hot again. But there are never answers or explanations or even speculations. Instead, invariably, questions around sightings are suddenly dropped like hot potatoes. Why is there never follow up?

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com

Knowledge

Hinduism defines knowledge as more than the acquisition of information. Knowledge pertains first and foremost to knowing God. This covers everything from seeking God, to knowing about God, to understand God, or to feeling God. Chapter seven of the Bhagavad Gita, “Knowing God,” offers a road map to the unveiling of the mystery of life. It explains that of the countless people who exist, only a few seek God and that of those few, only a handful gain a true understanding of divinity.

True knowledge pertains to understanding the Creator who causes the worlds and is the “life principle” or the essence of life. In his incarnation as Lord Krishnas, God says that He is composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason, and the self. He tells us that He is the wetness in water, the light in the moon and sun, and the sacred symbol Om which encompasses God and the Universe:

 

I am the manliness in men

And the smell of the earth

And the brightness in fire.

Ia m life in living things.

I am the seed in all beings.

I am the wisdom in men’s minds.

I am the strength of the strong and the wish in your heart.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. To read more or to buy the book, visit the www.irinaspage.com/onhinduism 

 

(Gita 7:9, 10, 11)

Unity with God

Though Hindus know deeply that the ultimate aim of their faith is to achieve unity with God, daily life and worship generally focus on more immediate results. Karma may take ages to play out, but the laws of cause and effect that are its foundation may also operate more quickly. Divine intervention works hand in hand with karma that is created by human behavior. Thus, worship is a path to enlightenment and simply setting forth on this path has its own validity. Progressing on the path to God is not only about reaching a destination. Making the journey earns merit in itself.

Hindu scriptures and customs consider a wide range of activities as worship: fulfillment of duty, prayer, pursuit of knowledge, honoring elders and teachers, tending to shrines in the home, visiting temples, going on pilgrimages, bathing in holy waters, practicing moderation, fasting, performing rituals, chanting, engaging in meditation and yoga, attending and participating in ceremonies, listening to preachers, performing classical dance, and so on. These activities are incorporated into secular life. Though none of them are singly defining, it is virtually certain that routine customs and occurrences will engage just about every Hindu in some overt forms of worship. Mindsets may differ regarding the value or effect of these variegated activities, but participating in some of them unavoidable.

The vast array of practices that make up worship in Hinduism may befuddle strangers to such rituals. Although most ritualistic acts and sacrifices have specific and generally known purposes, collectively their aim is to enhance the mind’s focus and thereby to extend consciousness. These ceremonies as well as actions undertaken in the name of God or goodness acknowledge and revere a power higher and greater than the power of the human mind or the human heart. Whatever form worship takes, be it worship of God or of another deity, worship in any form acknowledges the existence of something greater than humankind. Chapter four of the Gita, “The Sword of Knowledge,” explains:

 

A puja is a ceremony for God.

It is a sacrifice.

The puja is Brahma [God].

The fire which is part of the puja is Brahma.

The person who performs the puja is Brahma.

Brahma is God’s everlasting power.

We cannot see or hear or feel Brahma.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. Learn more about the book at www.irinaspage.com

God: Beyond the Grasp of Human Thought

While Hinduism understands that God is beyond the grasp of human thought, it also acknowledges God’s tremendous power over our human minds and lives. As the quest for the enlightenment is the quest to become one with God, Hinduism strives to bring humankind to oneness with divinity.

Hindu philosophy gives great importance to the soul or spirit which it distinguishes from the mind as well as from the body. Hinduism equates the spirit with God. Chapter thirteen of the Bhagavad Gita explains that the spirit cannot be described, that it cannot act, that it is always pure and endless as the sun and the sky. God is considered the greatest spirit Thus, to Hindus, finding our soul is akin to finding infinity within us. It equates to achieving perfection which can only be attained by a highly evolved soul, a soul that over many lifetimes has superseded the limitations of humanness.

This excerpt is from Irina Gajjar’s book, On Hinduism. To learn more about this book or other books by Irina, visit the website at www.irinaspage.com.

 

The Hindu Divinity

 

The Hindu Divinity is the flame of truth envisioned by humans to be in harmony with the light that shines within. Because individual perceptions of the absolute differ greatly from one another, Hindu philosophy seamlessly conjoins and separates symbols, ideas, stories, and beliefs that pertain to God or to gods. As God is the Creator, the Destroyer, the Preserver as well as invisible, omnipresent, omnipotent, indestructible, and one with us, there is no perception that any divine representation or symbolism whatsoever could be flawed.

While Hinduism understands that God is beyond the grasp of human thought it acknowledges God’s tremendous power over our human minds and lives. As the quest for enlightenment is the quest to become one with God, Hinduism strives to bring humankind to oneness with divinity.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To learn more about the book or to make a purchase, visit the On Hinduism page.

 

Where Are You Going and What Is in Your Bag?  

 

When I was little, I asked an older lady where she was going. She gave me a look that suggested this was an inappropriate personal question. However, she answered, “I’m going crazy.

I stood somewhat at loss but then she added, “Would you like to come along?”

A few years later, I was climbing a flight of stairs with a neighbor who carried a brown paper bag. I asked what was in the bag and he told me that it was personal. He said I should never ask such a question.

Again I felt bad, but then the gentleman told me that what he had were freshly baked rolls.  To this day I wonder how little we should inquire of our friends and acquaintances.

What do you think?

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

 

God’s Glories

In Chapter 10 of the Gita, God describes Himself to humankind. We have differing views about creation as well as about the existence and nature of a higher power. Some of us question the validity of any assumptions about these notions.

But Lord Krishna speaks in light of orthodox Hindu opinions. He answers doubts about what the Divinity represents by telling us He is the best of whatever the human mind can imagine.

God says He is the most powerful of weapons, the lion of beasts, the holy Ganges of rivers, the cleansing wind, life, death, and the future. He tells us that He is beyond time and He is time itself. He is both the cause and the source of everything. He explains that while no one understands His power, the wise know He causes and moves the world.

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar, Chapter 10.