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.
Like our parents’ always reminded us, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” But change itself is what makes things different.
While those of us who are no longer young find persistent novelty and presumed improvement disconcerting, our youth enjoy it. They like stuff that is faster and more impactful and they like multiple options. They like endless cereal choices, endless television channels, and multiple options between smaller and smaller or bigger and bigger. They like complexities. They don’t miss plainer, slower, quieter and simpler choices.
There is no value judgment to be made regarding change. It will continue to happen whether we want it to or not. But change needs to be recognized as a force. In particular we need to respect that new stuff presents new experiences and demands both new decision making and new learning. Thus, as parents, teachers, friends and counselors we need to know that change can be overwhelming, and we should not take it for granted or expect others to deal with it alone.
While Lord Krishna continues -in Chapter 11 of The Gita– to overwhelm us with His all encompassing splendor, His wonderful form becomes terrible. Arjun sees that all space between heaven and earth is filled by God and that all worlds are frightened.
In this scary appearance representing Kala or Time, God demonstrates karma in process. Warriors, already doomed, rush into the Lord’s multiple mouths like moths flying into a blazing fire. The Lord assures Arjun that he will prevail in this Great Mahabharata War.
Arjun begs God to reappear in His calm, gentle four armed form, a form which can be seen, Lord Krishna says, through endless love of Him.
Chapter 11 is one of the most dramatic chapters of the Gita. It illustrates not only the ideas, hopes and fears that human beings entertain about their Creator, but also our more sophisticated understanding of dimensions and of the confluenced integration of universes, time and space.
See, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar
In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells us He is born from time to time to protect goodness and destroy evil. He says:
You and I have passed through many births.
I know them all but you do not remember.
I am born from time to time
whenever the good need my protection.
I am born to destroy the bad and help the good.
My birth is divine and those who understand
this become part of Me
and do not have to be born again.
Gita: 4:5; 6; 7
Human beings envision God in a form like ours. Thus we say that He created us like Him or now some of us consider perhaps like Her. At the same time we cannot imagine the Lord being conceived and born in the same fashion as we were.
In my view, the fact that so many of us not only imagine but also believe in miraculous birth validate our notion and make it true. The real question is what does truth mean?
For some answers, see The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, and On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.
Today curiosity is viewed as something good and important. Years ago this was not so much the case. Young people who asked too many questions were not appreciated. Questions interrupted lectures and they embarrassed speakers by potentially revealing ignorance or foolishness or by touching upon prejudicial or personal or prurient matters. In past decades information was not readily available.
Children were told “Curiosity killed the cat,” and it was only under their breath that they muttered “Satisfaction brought it back.” After all a cat is believed to have nine lives.
It is a good thing that curiosity is now recognized as something to be fostered in our youth and in everyone for that matter. I guess the best way to do this is to raise questions rather than to begin with conclusions and then expect those conclusions to be accepted and learned.
At the same time, we do not have to tell everything to everyone at any age. And we should let others make discoveries on their own or find answers or suggestions often available at the touch of a screen.
Visit amazon.com Irina Gajjar’s Page to learn about her work and her views on a variety of matters.
The NORAD blimp, technically named an aerostat, gave us a costly laugh. NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint program between the United States and Canada. NORAD costs a pretty penny and their blimps have been the subject of inquiries that suggest they are really boondoggles. In case you wonder, a boondoggle is an expensive holiday disguised as a business trip or an expensive program that doesn’t work.
This past October, one of the aerostats, larger than a football field, broke its tether and began to free float over Maryland. Chased by military jets it rose to 16,000 feet, finally descending in Pennsylvania. It caused considerable damage, taking down power lines and leaving thousands without electricity.
After several hours it began a droopy descent and touched down but would not deflate so the authorities put it out of its misery with over one hundred shots.
The press followed the aerostat’s journey until the thing was secured and removed. Since then all mention of this bizarre incident has been suppressed.
It looks like the powers that be hope we will forget about it, but let us not.