Knowledge

In Chapter 7 of the Gita, Lord Krishna speaks of knowing God. It is hard to put the meaning of knowing God or knowing anything for that matter into words. But without a doubt, there are some things we know or at least we feel like we know.

I wonder what the difference is between thinking or feeling we know and actually knowing. I suppose the distinction only makes a difference when we speak of matters which others take seriously. To opine or feel or believe that we love someone is no different from loving someone. However, when it comes to science, or politics or faith, knowledge that does not conform to what others have confirmed or what our society may lead to dangerous action.

To know is not the same as to understand or to believe. Understanding and belief often lead to knowledge, but they are not knowledge itself.

Read more from The Gita at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

Virtue and Vice

One man’s virtue is another man’s vice and vice versa. Virtue is defined in various dictionaries in multiple ways that imply values like morality, goodness and integrity. In Eastern religions merit equates to “punya” which is action that earns good karma.

Antonyms of virtue include words like vice and evil. Evil is also an antonym of merit as are words like demerit and deficiency. The opposite of “punya” is “pap” which means sin. Sin earns bad karma.

Although virtue and vice must be considered in context, the fact that people and schools of thought differ in their views of these values can create problems. Such divergent views are particularly harmful when some seek to impose their personal notions upon others.

We cannot go wrong if we apply our beliefs regarding good and evil to ourselves rather than to judgements about others. This is not to say that we cannot praise those who perform acts that uplift us all or to criticize those whose acts shock our conscience. It is also not to prevent societies from imposing norms upon its citizens. But in terms of personal values and conduct, we should use our conscience to govern ourselves and seek to persuade only those who care about what we think.

Read more from blogs from Irina Gajjar here.

Notions of God

In Chapter 8 of The Gita, Lord Krishna gives us a descriptive view of God’s characteristics. Even assuming we believe in a supreme divine force, this view stretches the limits of our intellect and

imagination. Lord Krishna Himself acknowledges that Brahma, the spirit of God, exists beyond what our mind understands. But He encourages our efforts to grasp what we cannot grasp because, He tells us, God can be reached by the wise.

Brahma exists beyond ignorance and shines like the sun. Brahma is Time. He endures for thousands of ages consisting of thousands of days and thousands of nights. Brahma Is permanent and indestructible. He is beyond the world. Brahma is the origin of everything and He is the resting place of those who are liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

Regardless of whether or not we believe or hope to believe, the possibility of Brahma can fill a huge void in our spirit. If we carry a spark of divinity within ourselves, we have a place and a role in the universe.

See On Hinduism, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar.

Sharing or Not

I think sharing is a difficult concept. It is particularly difficult for children and it is a cause of distress to parents who see their little ones clobber one another before giving up a toy, attention, or even a part of themselves when they are expected to hug or kiss or greet someone they don’t feel like hugging or kissing or greeting at the moment if at all.

As adults we are selectively reluctant to share. We understand that information is power and that giving up information may be embarrassing or cause embarrassment or unlock aspects of ourselves that we want to keep to ourselves. At the same time, we seek information about others with mixed motives. We are compassionate, we wish to help and at the same time we enjoy gossip. Thus, sharing may not always be caring.

I have been going through my brain to find sayings, preachings or teachings that promote sharing. Nothing specific came to mind.

So, if we want to be fine human beings, do we really have to share? I think the answer is, it depends.

Read more from the works of Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

Are We Really Seeing the Truth?

Many of us want answers to questions of our existence, the reality of God, eternity, the soul, the meaning of truth and other such matters.

On the other hand, most of us know or realize that these answers are not available to our human minds. Still we persist in our quest. I think we do this to a large extent because the exercise is mentally fun. Most of us who pursue such truths intellectually are not really prepared for revelations that evade or defy the limits of our understanding.

Lord Buddha taught that we should not worry about understanding that which is beyond our grasp, but should focus instead on virtuous behavior and our karma. Early Buddhism did not consider God at all, but later Buddhist could not manage without a deity and decided that Lord Buddha embodied God Himself.

See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

Ahimsa

Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is a Hindu principle that means we should live in harmony with the universe. We should be considerate of all creatures and all natural forces and live in balance with them. We should be compassionate. We should exercise self-control and not go into frenzy to satisfy our desires, treading on the toes of those who stand in our way. We should be at peace within ourselves and with the world. We should not needlessly hurt others in any way. However, we should do what our duty demands.

While Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all endorse the doctrine of Ashimsa, they consider it differently. Buddhism bans killing along with stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxication. Jainism opposes all killing categorically. Hindu tenets are not so specific. They go to motive. Hinduism des not oppose killing. Rather, it opposes senseless killing. The distinction is difficult ti put into words. The effects of an act depends on the thoughts that engendered it. The doer of the act must decide whether an act is hurtful or not and whether it is necessary or not. It is the quality of the actor’s nature that determines if her or she makes the right and good decision and that sets karma in motion, for better or for worse. While a wise person performs acts that are in keeping with universal harmony, an anger driven fool is likely to commit acts of unwarranted violence.

Violence and destruction is not always harmful. Burning fields to improve their fertility is a good thing. It is different from starting a wildfire that will burn and destroy forests. The Gita speaks of a moral war, explaining that the soul cannot be killed and that the body does not matter at all. The Mhabharata and the Gita illustrate rather than explain what constitutes a moral war. Lord Krishna speaks on the “Battlefield of Dharma.” The noble hero, Arjun, does not want to slay his enemy. He does not want a kingdom, or victory, or pleasures. He would rather his enemy kill him and kill them. Lord Krishna convinces Arjun to fight, leaving the outcome of the war in God’s hands:

Do not care if your fighting brings pleasure or pain,

Victory or defeat.

Just do your duty.

In this way you will be free.

(Gita 2:38)

 

Read more from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

A Fictional Horoscope

The following horoscope of a fictional character initially came from my imagination. The actual horoscope followed several months later and matched everything I had planned for the baby. The astrological reading was based on a birth date and hour. In my novel, I blended the details already developed for the character, including her name, with the details sent to me by a reputed astrologer.

Here is how it starts:

“This reading is for Sheela Landau, a strong girl born in Kumbh Rashi (sign of the water jug). The time and place of her birth -3:50 a.m., January 1, 2001, Houston Texas, USA- indicate that she would benefit from a name that begins with the sound Sh, S, or G.

“Sheela comes to her family with a strong need to complete the development that was cut short in her last life. She has chosen parents that have the power and intelligence to help her, but to use their power to the fullest, they will have to find ways to cope with Sheela’s stubbornness.

“In her most recent previous life Sheela belonged to an educated and religious family that lived in a large city on the eastern coast of America. She had one half-sister and no brothers. Her father was an immigrant who left the country of his birth at a young age. He died prematurely, and his baby daughter was raised by a loving stepfather. Her mother was conceived in Europe, but was born in America. The mother was a professional and her insistence on working outside the home, even though she had a well-to-do husband and children, created something of a scandal in her time.

“Sheela was lean, agile and graceful. As a child, she silently longed to study ballet, but she never expressed this longing to her parents because she thought she was too tall to become a dancer. Her dream of becoming a dancer was one of many unfulfilled dreams.

“In her present life Sheela will reunite with two souls remembered from at least one earlier life. These souls and Sheela’s soul will meet again in at least one future incarnation.

. . .

Read The Pokhraj, by Irina Gajjar to the rest of this horoscope and to consider how much a good astrologer might foresee, even in the case of an imaginary person.

Moving to Other Worlds 

 

 

I believe that we travel in and out of other worlds. We appear, vanish, die and daydream ourselves away from our universe, or galaxy. Who knows what is really going on with all this. But I feel certain that what we think does not come out of the blue and there is enough literature, fiction, history and speculation about the nature of universes or multiverses to give my notion substance, if not validation.  

In one of my fictional works, the following passage describes a mysterious disappearance that is a kind of time/space travel. It pertains to a person whose parents vanished: 

Recollection flooded Liera. He had heard the concert that played only once before, the night prior to his parents’ disappearance. It was the final evening of his summer holiday and his mother and father had taken him to hear the Antarctic Rim Symphony that was on tour in New New York. The next morning, he returned to the Academy, one of the finest boarding schools in the Second Rim. Seven days later the Director summoned him and told him that he had been classified as an orphan.  

“What do you mean my parents disappeared. People do not disappear,” Ira shouted. 

But people do disappear. The real questions are what happens next and where were they before they appeared. 

See New New York, 3000 Years Later by Irina Gajjar. 

God, King of the Universe  

 

The notion of God as the King of the Universe feels odd to me because it humanizes a force that I view see as way beyond humankind. Still, personification of the Lord occurs throughout most major religions. Imagining God as our King reflects our human need to envision divinity in our image and to empower it as our ruler.  

In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells us He has many forms including prayers, fire, sweets, eternity, perpetuity, destruction and the heat in the sun. Yet, further to God’s absoluteness, endlessness and everythingness, He specifically tells us that He is our King:  

I am the king of the Universe. 

I am its Father and Mother and Grandfather. 

I am making things and taking things  apart. 

I am being born and dying 

and I am living forever. 

                         —  The Gita, Chapter 9, Verses 17 and 18  

 

These passages give believers freedom to shape their belief in any respectful way they can.  

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