Birth and Rebirth in the Buddhist Religion

According to Buddhist thought, the soul does not retain its attributes at death any more than a wave retains its identity when it dissipates in the ocean. An analogy often used to illustrate Buddhism’s perspective of the cycle of birth and rebirth is that of a candle that lights another candle as it flickers and becomes extinguished.

Buddhist belief in the process of birth and rebirth is validated by the testimony of Lord Buddha Himself, who upon enlightenment came to know all the details of His hundreds or thousands of past lives. He stated that His present life would be His last. Although Lord Buddha would not include God in His teachings and did not claim to be divine, His followers came to worship Him.

Buddhists pay Him homage, if not as God, then as the Enlightened One and Hindus see Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver.

Read more about Birth and Rebirth in the Buddhist Religion in On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar.

The Legend of Ganesh/Ganpati

 

Several legends explain how Ganesh/Ganpati got an elephant’s head. The most popular one tells that his mother Parvati created him out of the sandalwood paste on her body and of the river Ganges. Then she told him to guard her bathroom while she bathed.

Lord Shiva, Parvati’s husband, had been away and when he returned he did not recognize his son and was angry at Ganesh for keeping him away from his wife. As a result, Shiva struck off Ganesh’s head.

Parvati became devastated. To comfort her, Shiva promised to restore Ganesh to life. He told his attendants to bring him the head of any sleeping being they found who was facing north. In a while, the attendants returned with an elephant head which Lord Shiva affixed to Ganesh.

Parvati was not consoled. She told Shiva that no one would respect her son with a big elephant head on his shoulders. So Lord Shiva promised that all worshippers would forever pray to Ganpati before praying to God and would invoke Ganpati’s blessings before beginning any important undertaking in life.

In this manner, Ganpati became the leader of the people, the lord of success, the remover of obstacles, and the destroyer of evil. He is honored in most Hindu homes and establishments and people celebrate him every year in a big ten-day-long festival held in August or September. True to Shiva’s word, Ganpati has become a part of every Hindu’s life.

 

You can read more from On Hinduism and other titles, by Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

Paths to God

 

The Karmayogi does everything for God.

His mind is on God while he acts.

He wakes, sleeps, hears, touches,

smells, speaks, and breathes thinking of God.

He understands that he himself does nothing

But that God does everything through him.

God uses him to get things done.

The person who offers all he does to God

Is as untouched by sin as a lotus leaf by water.

The Karmayogi is pure.

(Gita 5:6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

 

 

Yoga is the path which people can follow to become one with God. It is the path of attaining perfection so that we can know God and then merge into Him. A variety of paths can take us perfection, but they all come together at the end. However, the twists and turns along the way have created many views within Hinduism.

Hindu schools of thought are organized into different systems that go back to Vedic times and continue to evolve and flourish today. The distinctions between them turn on slightly different perspectives of God’s nature and of what the best paths to the goal of self-realization may be. Self-realization means finding God within ourselves. It is enlightening or seeing God’s light and becoming freed from the cycle of birth and death. Enlightenment leads to becoming one with the absolute eternal spirit that transcends the universe.

Read more from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/on-hinduism/

See the World in God

Goddess Aditi

 

God said:

“Look! I am in hundreds of thousands

of different forms and colors and shapes.

See in me all twelve sons of Aditi,

the eight Vasus,

the eleven Rudras who are gods of destruction, the twins

who are the gods’ doctors, the forty-nine

wind gods, and many, many other

wonderful forms never seen before.

Arjun, see in my body, the whole world

and anything else you want to see.”

                                              Gita, Chapter 11, verses 5, 6, 7

 

Aditi is the mother of the gods. Her twelve sons represent the signs of the zodiac and the Vasus represent the elements of the universe or aspects of nature. It is Lord Krishna’s intention in this verse to encompass the totality of creation and to open the vision of everything to us. Not only that, but additionally He tells us that everything is whatever we wish to see.

 

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

Conflict

Human beings have been struggling with conflict forever. We are conflicted within ourselves and we engage in problematic conflict with others. Even though we cannot survive alone and need interaction with others to live successfully, we struggle to get along well.

Consider this: Babies who are not held and coddled do not take nourishment and die. At the same time, as soon as they grow up a bit one of their earliest words is “no.” “No” comes right along with mama or da or brr for whatever or bum for bang.

Conflict arises from inter-dependency, boundaries, needs, wants and identification or mere irritation. We have conflicts on individual, familial, societal and national levels. It never goes away and can at times be all around us.

Sometimes it is purposeful and sometimes it is meaningless. Conflict may be suppressed, or it may bubble up or it may become violent, but it doesn’t go away. If it resolved, new conflict eventually sprouts up.

We act out conflict to diffuse it by playing games and organizing competitions where we practice sportsmanship. We create laws, we make alliances, we sign treaties and we hold elections in hopes of averting conflicts that could destroy us. That is the good part of our nature. Happily, so far, we have survived conflict. But now we wonder if the newest conflicts will arise when or if humans confront alien species and we worry over how they will turn out.

Rad more from Irina at www.irinaspage.com

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.

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.

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.