The Foolish Cannot Know God

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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?

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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?

 

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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? 

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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

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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

 

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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.

The Hindu Calendar

Excerpt from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

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In Hindu thought, God alone creates, sustains, and destroys time. God also has the power to expand and contract time. As time cannot be realized apart from God, God is time. Brahma’s sleep and wake cycles make time happen.

When Brahma sleeps, the universe ceases to be.
When He awakens, He recreates it.
Brahma’s day lasts a thousand ages and Brahma’s night lasts a thousand more.
Only the wise know this truth about Time. (Gita 8:17)

Hindu astronomical and astrological studies measure time differently for different worlds and differently again for God. Fine-tuned calculations show that ancient sages perceived our planet as part of a much bigger universe or universes or multiverses brought in and out of being by God.

Several parallel worlds exist with their own space-time on multiple planes. As humans we have just begun to skirt their edges but using our minds as vehicles and our calculations as fuel, we have been traveling throughout the universe for millennia.

Human time is limited. It is short. According to the ancient Hindu calendar, a human year consists of 360 days divided into twelve solar months or thirteen lunar months. The lunar months are divided into fortnights of about 14 days each that are composed of one waxing and one waning lunar cycle.

Two months make a season and three seasons a semester, or half a year. Two semesters add up to a year. An extra month added every third year reconciles the lunar calendar to the solar calendar.

Ancestral time is the time experienced by our ancestors who have moved on to other worlds and other dimensions. Their time lasts much longer than human time. A human fortnight consisting of approximately fourteen days equals one ancestral day. An ancestral year is 5,040 human days.

The lifespan of ancestors is one hundred of their years or 504,000 human days which equate to nearly one thousand four hundred human years. Time experienced in the worlds of gods and demons—superhuman powers endowed with divine and demonic characteristics—is even longer.

A human year, calculated as three hundred and sixty human days in the Hindu calendar, equals one day and night cycle for gods and demons. Thus, the one hundred year lifespan of deities and demons adds up to about thirty-six thousand human years.

Far greater than any other time is Brahma’s time which Hinduism reckons in kalpas or eons that in turn are composed of ages. Hindus have divided Brahma’s kalpas into four ages or yugas during which cosmic order has consistently deteriorated and human behavior worsened. The yugas become progressively shorter in duration.

The earliest yuga lasted over one million, seven hundred thousand years and the current yuga, known as the Kali Yuga which dawned about 3000 bce is expected to last for only 432,000 years. According to Hindu cosmology, Brahma undertook creation of the cosmos two kalpas ago. This works out to 8.64 billion years, several billion years less than the estimated age of the universe according to modern science.

The most recent scientific calculation estimates that the universe came into being after the big bang about 13.7 billion years ago give or take one hundred and twenty million years. Hinduism envisions Brahma’s existence in terms of billions and even trillions of years. It visualizes the scope of creation as infinite.

Modern science has not really spoken on how much longer the universe or world or our planet will last. Nor has it spoken on what its scope may be. It is reasonable to consider these two questions interlinked. The duration of the universe must depend on what it encompasses.

The Hindu vision is of a universe that expands and contracts in time and space, one that moves in and out of reality and in and out of consciousness, a universe that dissolves and regenerates itself, that is created by God and that is God. But God is more than the universe. God’s greatness is enormous but it can also be miniscule and even if the universe ceases to be, God does not. Thus, God and creation are as infinitesimal as they are infinite.

To Read More from On Hinduism, visit Irina’s Amazon Page or website.

 

 

The Gita on True Happiness

 

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According to the Bhagavad Gita, the purpose of reaching God is to attain true happiness. Here is what Lord Krishna says:

Those who truly love Me know

I am God of the whole world.

They know I am the friend of all

They who really love Me

Know everlasting peacefulness

And everlasting happiness.

The Gita, Chapter 5

These words are quintessential in their simplicity and universality. At the same time philosophers could write and many have written volumes on how to interpret them.

In Chapter five, Lord Krishna discusses the best path to salvation. Arjun wants to know whether the pursuit of knowledge and renunciation are better than the performance of good actions. The answers in this chapter are as simple or complex as one wishes to make them.

On the one hand, the clear answer is that good action is the better path because it is easier. On the other hand, this reply differs from passages in Chapter 4 where we were told that knowledge is the best path to salvation as knowledge is the boat that crosses over the ocean of sin.

Some of us wonder about these contradictions. Scholars explain that the chosen paths depend on the choosers. More specifically the choice depends on the nature of the soul of the seekers of God or happiness or peace. Yet not all of us are perplexed by inconsistencies. We just know that the paths converge.

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

 

The God of Hinduism

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Hinduism sees God as One infinite power. That power issues forth in countless forms just like a flame emits countless sparks. Many of God’s forms take on human attributes while others appear in any form we can envision.

The explanation that Hindus believe in One God with many names is true, but God is beyond names and forms. God materializes as any aspect of the universe, or of multiverses. God is everything, though everything is not God.

The world is perpetually changing and moving, subject to the forces of creation, destruction and regeneration. God is immutable, eternal, untouched by the dimensions that limit the cosmos. God is beyond time and is time itself.

In other words, in the universe only God is not illusory. Only God is real and God is the only reality. Philosophers like to debate the question of whether God created man or man created God. Religions consider God man’s Creator whereas science suggests that the natural course of evolution created humanity. But the debate dissolves if we consider God the cause of evolution. Hindus view God as “That” which existed before the universe began and will exist after the universe ends.

Hinduism perceives God as the only reality that is not forever in a state of flux. From this perspective, God is the only truth. The Hindu view that reality is illusory and unreal because it is impermanent has fascinating implications. If the tangible world is unreal, the world of our ideas, thoughts, and imaginations is no more unreal—or less real—than the world we can see and touch.

These worlds must be of equal magnitude. Thus, ideas about multiverses as well as multiverses themselves can be real. Collective or individual concepts of godlike beings or demonic creatures may be real. Possibilities like time travel or alien encounters can be realities, foreseeable even for human beings.

To accept the idea that reality is fluid and intangible is to accommodate an open ended world view, a world view that can incorporate flights of fancy, one that can extend beyond the present reach of human intelligence.

Excerpt from On Hinduism. To read more visit Irina’s website at www.irinaspage.com

 

Back to the Future

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Two hundred and forty years ago, in 1776, the United States of America exited Britain, after winning a hard fought revolutionary war. Now Britain has decided to exit the European Union after peaceful vote called Brexit. One way or another, the alignment and realignment of peoples is ongoing.

In 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, but now there are thoughts of reconsidering. Most of the people of Scotland would rather stick with Europe rather than with England.

The people of London, distressed at the prospect of Brexit, expressed an interest in becoming an independent city state, like Athens and Rome used to be. While these and other city states of old enjoyed autonomy, problems with self-defense and external pressure caused their ultimate downfall.

Perhaps the most impressive modern city state is Singapore. This small economic powerhouse has thrived, but not democratically. Its government exerts strict controls over the people. In Singapore, different religions and cultures co-exist harmoniously because strife is severely punished. Imports of chewing gum are prohibited. Not flushing a public toilet is a crime. Thus, gum does not stick to people’s shoes or under tables and public toilets are tolerable. All said and done, Singapore is not only prosperous, but also cosmopolitan and really pleasant.

Could we once again have cities turning into independent city states and collapsing? Could more or larger dictatorships succeed by using the carrot of prosperity and organized society along with the stick of public floggings, expulsion and more?

Who knows? The future repeats history over and over again, but not in exactly the same way.

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