People Who Brag about Nothing

 

bragging

People who brag about what they do not do annoy me. These types brag that they do not bathe after 11 a.m., or they do not eat potatoes, or they do not drink alcohol or tea or coffee, or they do not use hair brushes, only combs. The may sit in a living room spreading their oily hair and combing out falling strands all over the floor, but they proudly refrain from using a brush.

Reasons for what they do not do may arise from religious or other traditions, or from thin air, or from superstition or from sheer nonsense. Whatever the reasons for not doing stuff, not doing something is nothing to show off about. I personally don’t like walking under ladders or crossing black cats because I am superstitious. But I know this is ridiculous. Someone dear to me is repelled by bananas, but then again she does not act as if banana avoidance is a virtue.

Let’s brag about accomplishments, keep our bragging low key, or even better, let’s not brag. But that is difficult. Years ago a respected elder suggested that it was okay to brag about non-professional achievements, though I do not understand why. Still it is important not to brag about not bragging.

 

 

 

The American Way

 

Unlike many other democracies, the American democracy is adversarial. This means we work on the basis of disagreement. Our political parties, our laws and our courts are founded on the idea that the truth emerges when proponents of opposing positions argue and the people decide judge via a jury or a judge.

The adversarial system is derived from Roman law and it differs from the inquisitorial system which originates in the Napoleonic Code. Curiously, civil courts in the Great State of Louisiana continue to operate more inquisitorially, in accordance with their French heritage. In courtrooms, the adversarial system provides a bigger more dramatic role for attorneys whereas the inquisitorial system entails more probing by the court.

Our adversarial system spills into politics and the two party system which provides a winner and a loser in elections. Thus, for better or for worse, our politics are contested and our government works more on the basis of compromise rather than of collaboration.

eeusv13

In the United States, we do best when we have two strong parties. When one of the parties begins to fall apart, things get out of control. Independent parties do little more than create upsets.

This year Americans are extraordinarily and almost evenly divided in their politics. Our nation is increasingly diverse and our opinions are significantly divided by demographics. Thus, whatever the outcome, a large number of people will be dissatisfied. Hopefully the winners will be able to keep us all calm, accepting and hopeful. But what if they are not able to accomplish this feat? The wait for the outcome is nerve racking.

The Gita on Moderation

krishna_arjuna

 

I am a great fan of moderation. It offers the best of all worlds. Moderation says everything should be practiced in moderation, even moderation. So the practice of moderation does not prohibit an occasional splurge.

The Gita praises moderation. Lord Krishna tells us that a yogi is a wise, calm, devout and happy individual. God adds:

Oh Arjun, a Yogi cannot eat too much or too little.

She cannot sleep too much or too little.

She must measure everything:

eating, sleeping, working and relaxing.

Everything she does should be just right and even.

A Yogi is never afraid.

The Yogi whose mind is concentrating on  God does not shake.

He is steady like a candle in a room where there is no wind.

The Yogi’s mind does not move away from the truth.

 

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar [Ch. 6, Self Control]

 

 

Debate and Aftermath

unknown-6

 

The first presidential debate was more than strange. It seemed surreal. Those of us who have watched prior political debates were shocked. New viewers were probably far more entertained than they expected. I think it is difficult to consider this a good thing because much of the entertainment came at the expense of dignity. And the titillating drama continues.

On the other hand, the 2016 contest is engaging a good chunk of the world and provoking more of us into following the goings on and into thinking and feeling about them. We Americans are compelled to consider who we want to be as a nation and as a member of the world community. We are looking at our media and considering its importance and its interaction with social communication. We are considering the difference between generalization and individualization. We are both embarrassed and proud. We appreciate the importance of our personal participation national and international movements and we are evaluating our values.

This is the good part. Awaiting the outcome is the scary part.

The Foolish Cannot Know God

lord-krishna-110a

In Chapter 15, of the Gita, Lord Krishna says that only the wise and the good can know God. He explains that those whose minds are unformed or lacking substance cannot find God although God is present in everyone’s heart.

While we all opine on the existence of God as the Creator or the Ultimate Spirit, I suppose that the existence of such a force does not rest on human opinion. Yet most believers consider faith a virtue. Hinduism suggests that faith is wisdom.

On the other hand, non-believers view faith as beyond them or irrelevant or nonsensical. These people take a condescending view of the faithful and many consider them gullible at best.

Between believers and non-believers, we find the seekers. Seekers pursue enlightenment and answers. They enjoy the intellectual gymnastics of trying to understand that which is beyond our capacity to understand. Seekers see goodness in the quest which is an end unto itself. They tend not to believe believers and to disparage non-believers for not looking harder for answers.

Personally, I respect believers, non-believers and seekers. I must admit though that in my heart and even in my head, I am a believer. Somehow I feel that I have some knowledge of something powerful that moves my existence and makes sense of life.  Moreover, I think that our conceptions cannot arise out of the blue. Thus our notion of God must come from God

At the same time, I know that in my lifetime, I cannot presume to be sure.

What do you know?

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

What Is Really Reality?

unknown-1

 

In his introduction to On Hinduism, Ravi Heugle disagrees with my views on Reality. Ravi is a self-described skeptic, if not quite an atheist.

From a philosophical perspective, Ravi accepts only that which can be perceived, measured and verified as real. On the other hand, I believe the opposite. I consider that perceptions, measurements and verifications pertain to the material world which is not real because it is impermanent and in a state of flux. I think that reality exists beyond our perception. It transcends dimensional worlds. The Gita explains that reality is eternal. The perceptible world is Maya, or illusion.

What do you think? Share your thoughts by commenting directly on the blog or on Facebook.

See Ravi Heugle’s A Skeptic’s Perspective introducing Irina Gajjar’s . See also, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar.

 

Are America’s Presidential Candidates Disgraceful?

 

hillary-trump_3

A growing number of Americans consider one or both of our candidates for President horrible. As the campaigns between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton become increasingly inflammatory, our responses become increasingly visceral. We alternatively stare at and listen to the candidates rapt and then turn them off distressed. Then we seek media opinions in sync with own.

In fact, most of what candidates say are and sound right. But other things are disturbing. Most problematic are the remarks that reflect our own views. These offer false hope and stifle the alarm bells ringing in our minds and hearts.

This 2016 election is particularly scary. It is not only that the candidates themselves are severely flawed in the eyes of so many people. Even more frightening are the really ugly positions supported by their supporters who are our friends, neighbors and relatives.

Do you care about the elections in the United States? Do you view either of the presidential candidates with shock or glee or embarrassment? Are you worried about where Americans go next or about America’s impact upon the world?

See New New York, 3000 Years Later by Irina Gajjar to understand more about elections.

Is Hinduism Discombobulated? 

Unknown

Discombobulated means confusing. This word suggests that an idea has many pieces which do not seem to fit together very well. For example, Hindus love the elephant headed Lord Ganpati, believe that God is beyond depiction and at the same time worship numerous images of God. These beliefs joined in one world view may perplex some.

Similarly the interaction between the all powerful Divinity and Karma may raise questions in others’ minds.

How do you think the notions of an unfathomable God, of invoking blessings from a human figure with an elephant’s head, of worshipping multiple representations of God and believing in karma work together?

See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar for my views on this and other questions.

Understanding the Existence of God

krishna_arjun

The concept of there being a God is one that is difficult for some people to understand. In this excerpt from On Hinduism, Irina Gajjar explains how The Gita shows God and how you can come to understand and know Him:

The ancients described God millennia ago and however we may visualize God today, the Bhagavad Gita explains:

God is beyond what your mind can understand.
God shines like the sun far beyond the darkness of ignorance.
(Gita 8:8)

Although God cannot be understood by the mind, God can be known by the spirit. In chapter seven of the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that he will understand God after knowing Him. God says that He knows all beings, but they do not know Him.

People cannot see God because confusion and desire cover their minds, but they can reach God by seeking Him.

The Sanskrit language distinguishes between spiritual knowledge (seeing, knowing) and rational knowledge (understanding). We can come to know God only by seeking Him. Trying to understand God is a path to knowing Him, yet we cannot understand God without knowing Him.

This is an apparent paradox, not a real one. It means that we must take steps toward understanding God in order to experience God. While the absolute cannot be understood by our finite mind, it can be known by our infinite soul. However, the soul can only experience the truth if the mind strives for it to do so.

Reason or understanding is a path that leads to spiritual knowledge, but only spiritual knowledge has the power to reveal God. The Gita understands God to be both the knower and the known, or that which we wish to know. He is the great soul, the individual soul called Atman. He is spirit.

God is the knower of the universe and the knower of the “field” which means the human body as well as all embodiment. “Field” refers to place or area, like “field of knowledge.” The term field implies that the body is a place where action or conflict occurs. Lord Krishna delivered the Bhagavad Gita

Read more from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

Wealth

 

Unknown-5

What is the value of wealth?  What can wealth give us? What can wealth buy?

I think the answer to all of the above questions is choice, albeit choice limited by circumstances. Wealth is valuable because it offers options. Wealth gives us opportunities and it buys time.

In my opinion time is a wonderful thing, especially leisure time. Leisure time renews us. It gives us a chance to know ourselves. It lets us rest, and choose our activity or inactivity. It lets us become entertained or even happily bored. It is wonderful.

Leisure is worth much more than stuff. It is one of the best things money can buy.

See Irina Gajjar’s website and Amazon author pages for more on her views and philosophy.