God’s Multiple Roles

Hinduism sets forth a comprehensive world view. However, the breadth, depth, and boundlessness of this view may perplex those unaccustomed to following alternative trains of thought. For example, though Hindus take God’s multiple roles of Creator, Preserver, Destroyer for granted, others may consider these roles in conflict, failing to take into account that they represent the cycles followed by the universe.

Similarly, non-Hindus may consider worshipping an absolute God incongruent with worshipping the many gods in the Hindu mythological pantheon. These super beings illustrated in books and posters and on big and little screens live in the other worlds or in the imagination. But shouldn’t we wonder at our imagination? Isn’t imagination also a world? Isn’t the source of human thoughts and ideas as real as the universe? Isn’t the output of the human mind as real as the world which is illusory in itself?

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. Read more at www.irinaspage.com.

Behavior Influencing Karma

 

Different Hindus perceive the relationship between God and karma in different ways. Some go as far as to say that karma determines the future and God does not exist or matter at all. Some equate the divine force with karma or believe that God creates karma and hence see no issue regarding interaction between the two.

Yet other individuals and Hindu schools of thought, more conventionally, see God as the dispense of karma, which He possibly tempers with divine mercy. Whatever their particular viewpoint, Hindu philosophers and laymen agree with the viewpoint that good behavior earns merit and improves their karma and that misfortune is the product of prior bad behavior. Even those who do not fully believe in karmic power generally consider the idea of karma a plausible guideline for ethical living.

What are your views on karma? Do you feel your good behavior earns merit and that your misfortune is a product of your prior poor behavior? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

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

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.

 

Nervousness

Nervousness presents itself as a sense of urgency. At this time the world feels nervous. Everyone is in a hurry and everything is urgent.  It’s all hurry up, even if it winds up as hurry up and wait.

Advertisements rush us. We are told that whatever we do, we have to do it right away. No chance to think things over. No time to enjoy making choices.

Whatever it is that we are pushed into buying, or wish to buy, we are told that it will soon cease to be available. Or else the price will rise. Or we are urged to hurry into buying things as significant as a new car or a new home so as not to waste “a whole day.” We can buy or sell our cars in an instant at a place called “carvana,” suggestive of a nirvana-like caravan. It is all urgent, efficient, joyless and tense. No human interaction required.

No wonder we are feeling increasingly isolated, frenetic, and nervous.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com

 

 

Wonder

Everything we read or see or hear is processed through our experience, be it first hand or second hand or even more remote.

What I wonder about the most, are things people have no idea about. We cannot imagine shapes, or thoughts, or ideas that are entirely alien.

All our notions, be they of aliens, beings, creations, machines, natural phenomena, or whatever are permutations and combinations of familiar stuff. They are notions of what is known, and hence, fathomable. They relate to something we have seen, or heard, or touched, or tasted, or felt, or smelled, or inherited, or understood either first hand or via some communication from someone else.

I wonder if there is anything else out there: colors beyond those that exist in our rainbow, or beings that differ from those whose ancestry we have traced, or substances that are beyond our conception. I wonder what else could exist.

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

 

Democracy

 

Churchill is believed to have said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” Most of us who live in democracies think this is absolutely true. Also, most of us pretty much take our democracies for granted. We think it is a given in our nations and that it will last for the foreseeable future.

We do not realize, that government by the people, of the people and for the people may not endure. We forget that democracy did not last even two centuries in Greece, where it was born and that it is not the order of the world any more than other forms of government. Dictatorships, benevolent and malevolent, oligarchies, communism, imperialism and ebb and flow on our planet.

I am frightened by the fragility of democracy. I worry about the tensions that threaten it. I think the demise of democracy is a scary prospect and I hear alarm bells ringing across the globe and at home.

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