We are told by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita that goodness is many things. It includes bravery, purity, contemplation of the soul, worship of God, study of holy texts, strength, straightforwardness, truthfulness, peacefulness, kindness, gentleness, the absence of anger, detachment, repentance for transgressions, forgiveness, humility, truthfulness and vigor.
This is a comprehensive set of qualities. Though most of us would agree that these qualities do represent the better side of humans, some might of us, particularly those of us who are not inclined toward orthodoxy, may question whether the worship of God and the study of holy texts equate with traits like kindness.
I wonder why God, who is all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere seems to have a great need to promote Himself and to persuade us to believe in Him [or Her?] Can’t we just take the force that is God for granted and move on from there?
See Chapter 16 of The Gita, a New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture.
In his introduction to my book On Hinduism, Ravi Heugle questions the validity of the soul’s existence. He equates the soul to the mechanism that moves a watch or clock. Ravi writes:
The soul will render itself superfluous to any consistent description of a life form. In describing a watch, if we understand all mechanisms and principles of operation, no additional idea or concept is necessary to explain its purpose, function of state. I have faith that I do not inhabit my body, but I am because of my body. The establishment of a unified blueprint of life by science will exile the soul and the assumption of the existence of the soul will prove itself to be invalid. Thereafter, the soul will solve serve as a potent synonym for human identity.
I believe this analysis disavows the soul because our human minds lack capacity to define their nature. Yet, lack of definition or explanation does not negate the soul’s existence, even if we can only grasp at the outer edges of its reality.
What is your view of the soul?
See A Skeptic’s Perspective in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.
The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch in 2018. It will be able to fly through time and report back on the formation of the first galaxies. It will be much more powerful than the Hubble and who knows what it could find. I find this to be mind boggling.
Will it find aliens perhaps on the seven new earth-like planets discovered orbiting a dwarf star [only?] 40 light years or two hundred and thirty five trillion miles away? The star has been said to be ultra cool which I guess means not hot at all but it also has to mean cool as in wonderful.
Of course there are those who believe that we have already been visited by aliens who bequeathed us cultures which seemingly popped up fully formed out of the blue in the Middle East, in the Indus Valley and/or in the Americas. While such notions cannot be proved and feel far-fetched, they cannot be disproved either. Nor do we have better explanations for the origins of civilizations.
But now soon we will know a great deal more about the universe, about worlds and possibly about other creatures like or unlike ourselves and we will certainly wind up with even more questions.
See irinaspage.com to explore her works, ideas and philosophy.
My father loved philosophical conversations. He said such talks were about “the philosophy of a matchstick,” suggesting that such conversations do not lead anywhere. What is there to discuss about the stick of a match?
But talks about ideas or philosophies should not be trivialized. They reveal and help formulate beliefs and values. They define boundaries, frames of reference and directions.
Nevertheless discussions about nothing can be problematic when context is missing. While we may talk, or read, or write about beliefs and views, we must also recognize that they mean nothing in the abstract. They lead nowhere without context.
So do they have a point? I think they do. Discussions help us formulate, then refine and finally give a voice to ideas. Thus, they are the foundations upon which actions are built.
Different Hindus perceive the relationship between God and karma in different ways. Some go so 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.
Yet other individuals and Hindu schools of thought, more conventionally, see God as the dispenser of karma, which He tempers with divine mercy. Whatever their particular viewpoint, Hindu philosophers and laymen generally agree with the notion 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, tend to consider the idea of karma a plausible guideline for ethical living.
From On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar, Chapter One, Hindus and Hinduism; also available for purchase on Amazon.
Western society’s interest in India has ebbed and flowed from prehistoric times to the present. Over the millennia, traders travelled to the subcontinent to exchange wares, Aryans horsemen rode in with gray pottery and the great wealth of their sophisticated language and religion, Europeans accidently discovered America seeking Indian riches and spices and the British made India the jewel of their Empire. More recently India captured the world’s attention by gaining independence through a non violent revolution, by her rise as the world’s largest democracy and by her growing economic and inventive strength.
Today, highly educated Indian Americans, mostly Hindu, are becoming a bigger part of the socio-political scene in the United States. Yet, the American people remain perplexed by their beliefs.
Why is this the case? I think a big reason is that Hinduism does not really care about being understood. Hindus make few efforts to rein themselves in, to convince others about the value of their religion, to proselytize or even to worry about being respected as a monotheistic religion. Hindus are happy with their sprawling and rich faith which proudly accepts different philosophical approaches, blends myths with ethics and which encourages spirituality along with the quest for material success.
Non-Hindus exposed to more specific and prescriptive religions may find the choices Hinduism offers confusing, not realizing that Hinduism is based on premises rather than on conclusions. Many believers in other philosophies do not grasp the beauty that lies in a world view that embraces its followers and yet enables them to personalize individual routes to enlightenment.
To better understand and explain Hinduism see The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture and On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.
While we all sense and see our future pushing us around, we cannot quite pinpoint where or what it is or means. We are experiencing it without fathoming it.
In recent living memory, the future had to do with flying and living under the sea. Then came waves that transmitted sound and light and photography over vast distances at great speeds. We foresaw robots that we used even as they used us and became increasingly humanized. More recently, even before our imagination could catch up, we have become confronted by the internet of everything. People are already tiring of surfaces, of androids, of iPhones and iPads and of whatever they have because everything is becoming accessible to everyone.
But does everyone have everything? Do we even understand what the future entails? Where is the future for the hungry, the cold, the weary or the wounded?
There was a time when future hope was for a better kinder world? Now we wonder. Will we on Earth even have a future?
The earliest Hindu references to reincarnation describe journeys to other worlds or realms known as lokas. These worlds represent astral planes to which souls can travel outside of the body after death or when the body attains different levels of consciousness. At the same time, these worlds are viewed as regions in the universe. Thus, Vedic cosmology sees a singularity or oneness in the universe that is reflected in our consciousness. The universe exists beyond us and within us at the same time. It is a multidimensional and a multitemporal cosmos. Souls migrate from one world to another and fro one body to another until, after many lifetimes they yearn to become free.
–From Chapter 6, Karma and Reincarnation, of Irina Gajjar’s book, On Hinduism
In my view, Hindu thought acknowledges the existence of multiple universes which flourish on multiple planes and/or in multiple dimensions. Hindu philosophy embraces much that goes beyond human experience and even beyond what we can fathom.
For example, ancient myths speak of many eras, many creatures and many frames of time. Time is different in the worlds of humans, of ancestors and of gods or demons. But beyond myths, ancient mathematical calculations fully anticipate the most recent and sensitive numbers regarding matters like the speed of light. Thus myths and science intersect.
Like science fiction, myths are a blend of history, prediction, fantasy and symbolism. We should not pooh pooh them as nonsense. These tales contain more grains of truth than we might think. In my view, an important truth is validation of the idea that we humans have the potential to become a multi-planetary if not multi-universal species.
See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar
Are you surprised we found water on Mars? I am not. Why not? Because we were looking for it. We suspected Mars had been filled with oceans millions of years ago. The discovery of liquid water raises the possibility of the existence of life on Mars at some point in time or space.
This discovery furthers my belief that everything humankind conceives has a source. It is my belief that our imagination comes from human experience or instinct that also has a source.
Deep down we know that we are not the only form of life in the universes. How could we be?
Imagination and conception are not necessarily reality or truth in all dimensions. But they are real in some dimension and represent human participation in universal existence.
I think a Creator provided and provides momentum for the being of humankind [as well as other kinds] and with that momentum comes awareness of all that we cannot fathom.
It is true that we are learning more and more and our scientists are empowered with proof, but it is also true that the more we learn, the more we are humbled by how little we know.
See the works of Irina Gajjar, Philosopher, Writer