Posts posted by suchandra
That is the way I see it as well. Many people are distracted from the real quality and value of these books by such controversial remarks. Still, like you said, many if not most of his followers insist that they are justified and valid. They still propose to build a 'Vedic Planetarium' where the Sun is closer to the Earth than Moon simply because 'Prabhupada said so'.
The books of Narayana Maharaja or Sridhara Maharaja do not seem to generate such emotions in readers. They may not be into the subject matter of these books, but at least they are not turned off by such controversial remarks.
It is basically neophyte Vaishnavas who have problems with Prabhupada saying that there's a Moon further away from the Sun. Many non-Vaishnavas, however, have no problem with such statements.
For example, in kali-yuga no devas come to the Earth, they stay away. So when devas speak of Moon, do they refer to the Moon of our Earth? Of course do they speak of the Moon in heaven, what they consider as real Moon. Only backwoodsmen refer to the Moon rotating around our planet as the real Moon in heaven.
I am looking for advice on how to find a guru. I was advised a sadhana for astrological purposes and just wondering how do people go about finding a guru.
Thanks and Regards.
A genuine guru comes in a succession, also known as parampara, disciplic succession. Srimad-Bhagavatam 12. Canto says, in this age there would be an epidemic of false gurus. Just like someone wants to get a diamond. If we don't have proper knowledge how to test a diamond we easily get cheated.
So in the Vedas this is a huge topic, how to find a genuine guru.
The very term "guru" made Srila Prabhupada ask, what kind of guru?
Presently we even have, Wall Street Guru, Fashion Guru, Wine Guru, High Society Guru, etc. etc. Although, gu means darknes and ru means light, so actually a real guru is someone who should bring us to spiritual enlightenment.
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah
I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.
Michele Leanne (Paxton) Bird (aka Madhurya Radha devi dasi), 42, left her material body behind in West Jordan, Utah, during the morning of Monday, December 22, 2008. Michele had a great compassion for all living entities, particularly the vulnerable. Her compassion was the result of her deeply-held religious beliefs that also sustained her through a painful, multi-faceted health condition, which plagued her for the last fourteen years of her life.
Through all her suffering she never felt that God had forsaken her and she took great comfort from the lessons imparted by a great spiritual master, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who translated and commented on the timeless scripture, Bhagavad-Gita as It Is. It was from this oldest of scriptures that she learned the true nature of the soul, why and how we journey through this difficult world, astray from the Supreme Lord, and what fate awaits us at the time we must depart. Deeply committed to learning these principles, she studied the Gita under the guidance of a teacher and had made great strides in understanding the circumstances of her own situation and the circumstances of the souls in the world around her.
Born on June 6, 1966, in Roseburg, Oregon, to William and Bonnie Paxton, Michele is survived by her husband, best friend, and devoted companion of 24 years, Jerry Bird, of West Jordan, Utah; by her father, Bill (Hope) Paxton and step-sister, Kim (Dave) Smith, all Hillsboro, Oregon; step-brother, Bob (Dorothy) Sims of Bonners Ferry, Idaho; sister, Linda King (Phillip Alden); nephew, Ben (Fawn) King, all of Roseburg; brother, Dwight (Laurie) Coder of Eagle Creek, Oregon; nieces, Heather, Shellsea, Courtney, Savanna, Kindahl, and Mickinzie; brother, Bruce Coder; sister-in-law, Joan Coder, both Salem, Oregon; father-in-law, Stan (Rita) Bird of Oakland, Oregon; mother-in-law, Shirley Bird (Gary Vaughn), of Sweet Home, Oregon; sister-in-law, Lisa (Tom) Daniels; niece, Olivia Daniels, all Portland, Oregon; and by numerous other family members and friends. Her mother, Bonnie, and sister, Victoria predeceased Michele.
Michele loved and always wanted to protect animals, children, the elderly, and anyone who was less fortunate, in need, or in distress. She touched many people in this short lifetime, including co-workers, customers, and clients in the grocery, bakery, and art supply businesses in Roseburg, Springfield, and Eugene, Oregon, and Redding, California; in the insurance business in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and as a hospice-care volunteer in Salt Lake County, Utah. Her enthusiastic participation endeared her to everyone she met, including many of the care-givers she befriended during her long illness. Michele had faith and strength that allowed her to hide her conditions behind a smile through much of her illness, showing great compassion toward others while enduring daily pain.
As the Lord has now seen fit to engage her in a different way, we gratefully entrust our earthly angel to His care and shelter.
This is notable, people still believe that Swami Vivekananda is a pure devotee of Lord Krsna. "But the best part in the Yoga Book is the explaination of Bhakti and its application in real life."
By Swami Vivekananda, Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga describes the way to reach perfection through the performance of daily work in a non-attached spirit (i.e. Karma-Yoga - the path of selfless action) and by sublimating human affection into divine love (i.e. Bhakti-Yoga - the path of divine love). Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga, along with Jnna-Yoga and Rja-Yoga, are considered classics and outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. Swami Vivekananda’s deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, and broad human sympathy shine forth in these works and offer inspiration to all spiritual seekers.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars The Ultimate Yoga Resource
Swami Vivekananda is, without a doubt, the best resource for learning and maintaining a practice in any of the four major yogas. I highly recommend this title as well as his titles on Jnana and Raja yogas as they complement one another beautifully. In Vedic science, and particular, the teaching of yoga, most Yoga Books written are very complex and often difficult to understand in such a way that one can put the knowledge to use. Not so with Swami Vivekananda. He is direct and easy to comprehend, while at the same time he is passing on profound and useful concepts. His texts are the foundation of my Yoga library.
5 Stars An eloquent and true voice of loving wisdom.
This work remains a clasic and offers within one pair of covers understanding of an effective and proven path to spiritual balance. I have known this work most of my life, as I am the third generation of my family in the United States aware and helped by knowing Vedanta. Rarely have vision, knowledge and clarity of voice been combined with such felicity as in this work, which I place above almost all other works on religion, faith, spirit and spiritual practice. After almost half a century of spiritual seeking, paractice in Christianity, Zen, Eastern faiths, and now my personal daily spirital unfolding of practice of loving kindness and service, I have come to see that the path described by the Swami in this work is one which we all share in fact, if not in name; service to all and to our loved ones IS the highest and easiest and hardest daily practice. I predict that this work will never go out of print, and I am glad that we retain the gift of this and other printed works to aid us all.
2 Stars Overestimated?
It resulted from lectures about the topics and does not cover the topics deep enough. But although the other yogas from Vivekananda are quite interesting, I was somewhat disappointed with this one. This does not mean, that there would be no good statements in this Yoga Book, but just not enough of them. Both, karma yogis and bhakti yogis would probaly prefer other Yoga Books. One may still want to read it, to get a better understanding of Vivekanandas idea of the spiritual path.
5 Stars Love Everybody, Everybody Work.
Mountains of hatred can by crushed using this Yoga Book as a tool. Strong characters can be built using this Yoga Book as a tool. Explaination of the Karma Yoga is very good. The Ramayana and Mahabharat have been narrated well. But the best part in the Yoga Book is the explaination of Bhakti and its application in real life. The Yoga Book teaches you to love Everybody. This Yoga Book will touch you and question you if you are a bhakt.
29) Read the Bhagavad Gita. Written between the fifth and second century BC, the Gita is not just a sacred scripture, but a philosophical and spiritual guide to life."
Who said life has to be mundane. Start the New Year with some cool, funky and down right wacky things from our list. Live a little and no you don’t have to thank us for the stories you will have to tell your friends at the next get together.
by WAVE TEAM
1 Go backpacking with Rs 2000 in your pocket. Find out the McCandless in you - discover your people, your country and yourself.
2 Read the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. Even if you manage to read only a couple of pages, this book, although biased in its ideology, will shed some light into the political changes of the past.
3 Walk barefoot from Lazimpat to Darbar Marg. This one is just for kicks and we are sure you haven't done it before. People may stare, but what the heck, you're the one having fun… if you don't get tapeworms.
4 Eat momos in Kalikasthan The smell will entice you and your taste buds will thank you for days to come. We can't say the same about your stomach though.
5 Read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. See it from the feminist viewpoint. Read this influential book that helped spark the contemporary women's movement in 1963 by talking about the lack of fulfillment in women's lives at that time.
6 Go to Bhaktapur and have a cup of Juju Dhau. Sweet, refreshing and yummy!
7 Spend a day in Maitighar's Mandala.
Get a bag of peanuts, and laze around for a bit–where everyone can see you or see what no one else can. But remember not to start protesting, it's restricted. 8 Start sorting out your garbage. It's your garbage and cleaning it up is your responsibility.
9 Take rounds in Patan Dhoka bus across the city for an entire afternoon. A round-about trip in the bus may annoy the conductor, but it's a great way to chat with a good friend and to notice sites that are normally overlooked.
10 Go to Khasa to buy cheap electronics. iPods for Rs 2500, TVs for Rs 6000, HiFi for Rs 4000 and take this – a full blown 5.1 surround sound system for Rs 2000, need we say more other than don't expect any warranties.
11 Take a bath at Tatopani. If not for the gloriously hot water and supposedly one with healing powers just for the bus ride.
12 Eat samosas at Tip Top, New Road. Don't go by the rumors, there are no rats in the samosas. Sink in to a big hearty piece of samosa dipped in lipsmacking imli achar.
13 Go go-carting in Hul Chowk. Speed, a formula-one feel and no traffic rules, get your traffic frustrations out!!!
14 Hug a tree and kiss it. Literally be a tree-hugger.
15 Cook a proper meal for your parents. They feed you, they put a roof over your head, now show some respect. Believe us, it has huge benefits.
16 Take a road trip across the East-West highway. You will see more of Nepal than you ever will. Also, don't forget to take a detour to visit places like Biratnagar, Lumbini, Nepalgunj and many more.
17 Write a journal. Its cathartic and it will surely make you laugh and cry when you read it in the years to come.
18 Watch old classic movies like Gone with the wind. The movies today just don't match up and if you think otherwise, Frankly my dear I don't give a damn!
19 Visit all the temples in Kathmandu. Be proud of living in the city of gods where each stone represents a deity and an untold history.
20 Bury a time capsule with a couple of friends. Bury the memories to keep them alive for the longest time.
21 Host a dohori competition. See the wit and humor and create some poetry of your own.
22 Try a foreign dish. Yes, we know we all love our daal-bhat to death, but every once in a while try a dish completely unknown to you.
23 The Color Purple–Alice Walker. A revolutionary novel, this book deals with the struggles of black women, feminism and racial struggles. Winner of the Pulitzer prize, this is a book that warms the heart.
24 Go to the middle of Tudikhel and scream. Get those lungs working. People may think you are crazy but it's relieving and empowering to get all those bad vibes outta you.
25 Swim in the Phewa Tal. Although some parts may be murky but how many people do you know who have done that. Try at your own risk.
26 Run all the way up to Dharahara. It may not be a skyscraper but it is the highest building we have so why not make use of it.
27 Go bird-watching in Shivapuri. The sites are awesome in the early morning light and Nepal plays hosts to one of the most diverse collection of birds in the world.
28 Meditate at Osho Tapoban. Close to the city, this is the best place to get the feel of the ascetic world in the Valley.
29 Read the Bhagavad Gita. Written between the fifth and second century BC, the Gita is not just a sacred scripture, but a philosophical and spiritual guide to life.
30 Visit all the world heritage sites in Nepal. This will not only help you with a possible future career as a tourist guide but also help you realise the immense cultural heritage we have.
31 Drink a bottle of soda in Ranjana Galli. The most authentic and refreshing bottle of soda, in flavors you couldn't have ever imagined. There's nothing like the sweet, colourful sodas in a hot, sweltering day or even cold for that matters.
32 Dump fancy restaurants. Khaja Pasals jindabadd!! Ditch the overpriced food and the nosy waiters; go for the homely environment and most importantly tasty and cheap food.
33 Read a poem by Sylvia Plath.
Read Plath when you're depressed. Her confessional style of poetry may be gloomy, but her skill as a poet is one thing to marvel at.
34 Go to Phoksundo Taal. Referred as the jewel of Dolpo, Phoksundo Taal has the clearest blue waters. Along with the backdrop of magnificent snow-capped mountains, this view is a must see.
35 Eat freshly fried rainbow trout in Kakani. Hard to breed and slightly heavy on the pocket every morsel of rainbow trout will leave you wanting for more.
36 Search your name in googlism.com. You will be amazed to see the number of times your name has been used in totally random articles.s
37 Have a plate of dahi-puri at Anmol, Bhatbhateni. With completely random ingredients, this snack is a cool cousin to the spicy pani puri.
38 Eikso cheese. The strong taste of the Eikso is hard to take at first. But after a while powerful taste will get you hooked.
39 Go to Ilam to drink freshly brewed tea. By far the most commonly drunk beverage, tea from Ilam captures the essence of this small hill town.
40 Eat Sausages from a thela. Its cheap, it's tasty and it's fun when shared with a few friends.41 Read a poem by ee cummings. His poems, known to be unconventional in their word usage and grammar, are refreshing to read.
42 Catch, cook and eat a fish. What's more satisfying than a quiet day by the lake (or river), the enthrallment of catching your own fish and then the enjoyment of a fulfilling meal at the end of the day.
43 Make a documentary. Let it be of your mundane life or a senior in school you totally adore. Its always fun to document your life even if you haven't done anything spectacular.
44 Wear a funny hat. Show some hat-titude!
45 Learn to play the sarangi. Nepali rendition of a guitar, the sarangi's melancholic sound will pull at your heart strings.
46 Go bald! Be done with brushing, gelling and blow drying. Feel free! Go Britney!
47 Get a Tattoo in Nepali. If Saif could copy Beckham why not you? Make sure you don't regret it later though.
48 Take a salsa lesson. Bring some rhythm to those feet and dance your troubles away
49 Learn Chinese. Don't you know, the Chinese are going to take over the world? [hehehe]
50 Feed a street child. We've all had those glaring eyes plead at us with palms wide open. Instead of giving them money to spend on dendrite, give them something to eat, they probably are hungry.
51 Spend a quiet day to yourself.
There is nothing like zoning out from the noisiness of the world and introspecting alone. It's guaranteed to put things into perspective.
52 Read folk tales of Nepal. We've heard it from our grandparents as children, and no matter how old you get it's still magic.
53 Speak in Shakespearean English for an entire day. No one might understand you but hey, its fun being a dork even if it's for a day.
54 Comment on all your friends in Facebook. Comment on every walls and picture and be involved.
55 Learn sign language. Communicating with just your hands can be as invigorating as using your mouth.
56 Dance on the streets. People might think you are mad but it will leave you with a memory like no other.
57 Wake up early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Watch the beauty of day come to life right in front of your eyes.
58 Go rock climbing in Pasang Lhamu Mountaineering Institute. Take a day off and climb up one of the walls or take a course here to get some adventure right here in Kathmandu.
59 Go mountain biking to Chobar.It has the perfect paths for mountain biking – both uphill and downhill. These winding roads were the location for the Asian Mountain Biking Championships just a month ago.
60 Pretend to be sick and take a day off. Playing hooky for the day. Sometimes you just need a break.
61 Host a movie marathon and invite all your friends. There's nothing better than watching your favorite movies with the people you love, at the comfort of your own home. Don't forget the popcorn for an authentic movie experience.
62 Go to a protest rally. Stand up for a cause, make an active participation and be involved in the cause that you really believe in. Trust us, it'll make you feel good.
63 Hack into somebody's email account and send random letters. It's the modern way of eavesdropping. Remember this is for fun so don't harm anyone in the process.
64 Peace out. Don't start a fight with a micro bus conductor over torn money or fake student ID card.
65 Make an oil painting. You might not be Picasso but the art peice will be your own modern art.
66 Listen to your favorite song all day long. It will add a spring to your step and everybody likes happy people.
67 Go white-water rafting in the Bhote Koshi. One of the most dangerous rivers in the world to raft in, feel the adrenaline rush as you are thrown around by the river.
68 Own and raise a virtual pet. They don't occupy space neither do they pee on your carpet nor do they demand attention
69 Be a party crasher! But leave the moment people start pointing at you and talking.
70 See a Danfe for real. The beauty of our national bird might just evoke some patriotism in you.
71 Sleep under the stars in a sleeping bag. Try it and you will know why we recommend it.
72 Study hard, party harder!! All work and no play never made Jack the most popular boy in school
73 Read all the Harry Potter books back to back. Sink into the imaginary world of Harry Potter for a few days–live, eat and breathe a parallel universe that JK Rowling has created and earned millions from. It might just inspire you to push your imagination a little more.
74 Watch the sunset in Khopra, Annapurna. Off the beaten track, the sunset from Khopra is a feast for the eyes and unlike any other.
75 Open a youth club in your community and do something. Its time to give back to the community you live in for what you give is what you get.s
76 Get to know your neighbors. They are the closest people you will have at the time of trouble.
77 Give anonymously to a charity. The feeling of giving is more satisfying when you do it without any expectations.
78 Sport a wacky hairdo. Trying something new every now and then with your look has a very refreshing effect. A hair-cut is the best way to feel like a completely new person.
79 Write someone an anonymous love letter. They always make people smile and when the receiver has a grin on his/her face you will know you put it there. But don't go overboard and become a stalker.
80 Startup a conversation with a total stranger. You might find a friend in them if not, it will help you kill time.
81 Watch all the Bond movies. It will have you saying your surname before your name for the rest of the day and who can resist the action, the pretty girls and Mr Bond himself.
82 Switch off your mobile phone for a week. After the first day you will wonder why you even bought one in the first place. Life will go on.
83 Pretend to be a tourist for a day. Dress up (or down), fake an accent and hang a camera around your neck while deliberately asking people for directions. You will see how helpful Nepalis are…..if they actually believe you, that is.
84 Write a letter to your unborn grandchildren. When they are finally born, they will either think you are a weirdo or will thank you for being so thoughtful.
85 Refuse to speak for an entire day. You can find out how many people like talking to you.
86 Shout "Nahiiin!" in the middle of a movie when someone's mobile phone rings It might just remind them to put their phone on vibration mode in respect to others.
87 Be more politically aware. It always helps to know how your life is going to be affected by the people who are running the country.
88 Learn about the history of Nepal. It helps to know where you come from.
89 Volunteer at a rehabilitation center or an orphanage.
The children will touch your heart and will leave you with a feeling of gratitude towards your parents.
90 Shower in a waterfall. As the water comes crashing down on your head you will surely wonder why you've waited so long to do this.
91 Get together with friends and clean up your community. Take the initiative, covering your nose every time you walk past a garbage pile isn't the answer.
92 Listen to a river flow.Listening to the rush of water crashing on the rocks has its own way of calming you.
93 Learn Karate. Self defense, kick some ass or just build up your self confidence
94 Sing the National Anthem in front of Singha Darbar.Hey, its a song and it might just wake up the ministers inside to do something.
95 Go bungee-jumping in Last Resort. The ultimate adrenaline-pumping adventure, go there to face the roaring Bhote Koshi and to push your own limits.
96 Get someone to draw your portrait. But don't go over-the-top by hanging it in your living room. Its something just for you.
97 Get a new skill or a new hobby. Just anything new! It's absolutely exhilarating to get your mind focused on something fresh and new. Starting at the basics and learning as you go will be challenging and fun.
98 Spend a whole day in bed. You will feel the safest and relaxed in your own little cocoon.
99 Go paragliding in Pokhara.See the city of lakes in its full glory with a breathtaking view of the Machchapuchre range. It's the closest thing to having your own wings.
100 Read all the issues of WAVE Need we say more
Vaishnava seva dasa (Web servant), ISKCON Chowpatty, General Surgeon, Bhaktivedanta Hospital -Mumbai, India, http://ringtones.iskcondesiretree.info/
<table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Bhaje Radhika Ramana1</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">157 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefd0" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Bhaje Radhika Ramana2</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">405 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Bhajo Bhai</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">293 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefd0" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Daya nita 2</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">175 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Daya nitai1</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">97 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefd0" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Daya Nitai Caitanya</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">133 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Gandarvika Giridhari</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">253 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefd0" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Gandarvika Giridhari2</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">254 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Gaura Nityanand Bol</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">278 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefd0" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Gauranga bolite</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">323 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#d0d0d0"><td></td></tr></tbody></table><table bgcolor="#efefef" border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top"></td><td valign="top">Gauranga bolite 2</td></tr></tbody></table></td><td align="right">315 KB MP3</td></tr></tbody></table>
The Gospel of Thomas
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> "These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas Thomas the Twin recorded.
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be disturbed. When one is disturbed, one will be amazed, and will reign over all."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Behold, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds in the sky will get there before you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will get there before you. Rather, the kingdom is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and embody poverty."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Know what is within your sight, and what is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "I have thrown fire on the world and, behold, I am guarding it until it is ablaze."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me with someone, and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. You have become intoxicated because you have drunk from the bubbling spring that I have tended." And he took Thomas and withdrew, and told him three things. When Thomas came back to his friends, they asked him, "What did Jesus tell you?" Thomas said to them, "If I tell you even one of the things he told me, you will pick up rocks and stone me. Then fire will come forth from the rocks and devour you."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us about the end." Jesus said, "Have you already discovered the beginning, that now you can seek after the end? For where the beginning is, the end will be. Blessed is one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end, and will not taste death."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Blessed is one who came to life before coming to life."</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings, these stones will serve you."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the kingdom." They said to him, "Then shall we enter the kingdom as babies?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female, when you make eyes replacing an eye, a hand replacing a hand, a foot replacing a foot, and an image replacing an image, then you will enter the kingdom."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are alone and chosen: you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> His disciples said to him, "When will the final rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "What you look for has already come, but you do not know it."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "I disclose my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Whoever knows everything but lacks within lacks everything."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: all came forth from me, and all attained to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Pick up a stone, and you will find me there."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Whoever is close to me is close to the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within is hidden in the Father's image of light. He will reveal himself, but his image is hidden by his light."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "When you see a likeness of yourself, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you, and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will be able to tolerate!"
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "When you make the two into one, you will become sons of man, and when you say, 'Mountain, move!' it will move."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will be like me, and I shall be that person, and what is hidden will be revealed to that one."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> Jesus says, "Whoever finds self is worth more than the world."
</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%"> His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?It will not come by looking for it. Nor will it do to say, 'Behold, over here!' or 'Behold, over there!' Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out on the Earth, but people do not see it." (Gospel of Thomas)
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The Apocalyptic Texts
Among the Christian Gnostic writings were no less than five separate apocalypses. Here they are.
The First Apocalypse of James contains the secret teachings of Christ that were given to James the Just, the Lord's brother. In it, James refers to Jesus as "rabbi." Jesus warns James to leave Jerusalem, for the city is a dwelling place of a great number of "archons" or evil angels. Jerusalem is stigmatized as the city which "gives the cup of bitterness to the sons of light." Jesus coaches James on what to say when he is judged and challenged by the "toll collectors" of heaven in order to pass through the gates of heaven.
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Apocalypse of Peter is a record of the vision of Peter the apostle in which he speaks with Christ in the spirit. In this, Peter is clearly seen as the true successor to Christ and the founder of the Gnostic community. In the vision, Peter first sees hostile priests who seem to be intent upon stoning him and Christ to death. Next, Peter recalls the crucifixion during which Jesus stood nearby talking with him.
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="100%"> Peter asks, "Who is this one glad and laughing on the tree (i.e., cross)? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="100%"> Christ replies, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshy part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."
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Peter seemed to realize that it would be a long time before his book was read and understood, for he writes:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "These things, then, which you saw you shall present to those of another race who are not of this age."
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He seems to be right, as this apocalypse has only just seen the light of day before we enter the age that many believe will begin with the second coming of Christ.
The Apocalypse of Paul
The Apocalypse of Paul is an account of the apostle's ascent into heaven and what he found there, with instructions for other souls on how to conduct themselves during judgment. One of the most interesting aspects of this text is that it corresponds to events found in the New Testament and includes references to reincarnation. Several Christian Gnostic texts combine the ideas of reincarnation and union with God.
As Paul passes through the fourth heaven, he witnesses a soul being punished for murder. This soul is brought "out of the land of the dead" (i.e., Earth) by angels where three witnesses charge the soul with murder. The soul looks sorrowfully down and is cast down into a body that has been prepared for it. The book describes Paul's journey through the heavens, which is also symbolic for the Gnostic process of union with God.
The New Testament contains a letter by the apostle Paul to the Christians in the city of Corinth, Greece, where he had founded a church on his first visit there. The Christians at this church were being divided by the teachings of so-called "false teachers" that were infiltrating the church there and Paul wrote a letter telling them to not forget what they were taught by Paul. These "false teachers" were trying to get people to follow their teachings and not Paul's. In order to put these false teachers to shame, Paul rebukes the Corinthians by using false pride and boasting about himself and telling the church why he is more qualified than the false teachers. He tells them of his sufferings and how he was once stoned and left for dead (2 Cor. 11:23-26). The letter goes on to say:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows. And I know that this person - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows - was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that humans are not permitted to tell." (2 Cor. 12:1-4)
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In the above passage, Paul continued his "boasting" by telling about visions and revelations he had received from the Lord. "I know a person in Christ" means that he was speaking about himself. He explained that he didn't know if he was taken up in his body or in his spirit, but he was in paradise ("the third heaven"). This incident cannot be positively identified with a recorded event in Paul's career, although some think this may have been when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20). Paul told about this incident to show that he had been uniquely touched by God.
Many people are unaware of this passage of the Bible and that it is a near-death experience which Paul had. The person who wrote most of the New Testament, the sacred writings of orthodox Christianity, had a near-death experience which he based his authority as an apostle of Christ to the Corinthian church. It can even be argued that his near-death experience directly or indirectly inspired his epistles.
The Apocalypse of Paul reveals how each soul must rise as best it can after death through a hierarchy of heavens and face the increasingly difficult challenges posed by the guardian angels of each heaven. The journey begins with Paul meeting a child on the mountain of Jericho on the way to heaven (symbolized by Jerusalem). This child turns out to be the Holy Spirit, who takes Paul first to the third heaven.
The Holy Spirit warns Paul to keep his wits about him for they are about to enter the realm of "principalities ... archangels and powers and the whole race of demons." The Holy Spirit also mentions that they will pass "one that reveals bodies to a soul-seed," that is, the being that takes souls and plants them in new bodies for reincarnation. For the soul who wished to ascend to the highest heaven, reincarnation was to be avoided.
When Paul reaches the fourth heaven, the Holy Spirit encourages him to look down upon his body which he has left behind on the mountain of Jericho. As Paul ascends, he witnesses in the fourth heaven the judgment and punishment of another soul. He says, "I saw the angels resembling gods ... bringing a soul out of the land of the dead." The soul has been resurrected so that it can be judged, one of the four events promised for the end of the world. The angels were whipping it.
The soul spoke, saying, "What sin was it that I committed in the world?" The "toll collector" of this heavenly gate accuses the soul. The soul replies, "Bring witnesses! Let them show you in what body I committed lawless deeds." Three bodies rise up as witnesses and accuse the soul of anger and envy, and finally murder. When the soul heard these things, it gazed downwards in sorrow ... It was cast down.
At this point we expect the soul to be cast into hell, as in later Christian doctrine, but no: "the soul that had been cast down went to a body which had been prepared for it," and was reincarnated.
Paul, somewhat shaken by this experience, was beckoned forward by the Holy Spirit and allowed to pass through the gate of the fifth heaven. Here he saw his fellow apostles and "a great angel in the fifth heaven holding an iron rod in his hand." This angel and three other angels, with whips in their hands, scourge the souls of the dead and drive them on to judgment. Paul remains with the Holy Spirit and the gates to the sixth heaven swing open effortlessly before him.
In the sixth heaven, Paul sees a strong light shining down on him from the heaven above. He is motioned by the "toll collector" through the gates of the seventh heaven. Here, he sees "an old man filled with light and whose garment was white. His throne, which is in the seventh heaven, was brighter than the sun by seven times." This old man bears a striking resemblance to Jehovah as he is described in the vision of Ezekiel.
The old man asks, "Where are you going, Paul?" Only reluctantly, after some encouragement from the Holy Spirit, does Paul speak with him and give the Gnostic sign he has learned. The eighth heaven then opens and Paul ascends. Here he embraces the twelve disciples, most of whom he has not met before, and together they rise to the ninth heaven. Finally, Paul reaches the tenth and highest heaven, where he is transformed.
The Suppression of Christian Gnosticism
The Christian Gnostics believed in reincarnation and the preexistence of the soul. They refused to believe in a resurrection of corpses at the end of time. They emphasized meeting Jesus on a spiritual level to become liberated and attain permanent citizenship in heaven. The Church of Rome of the second century A.D., on the other hand, declared that those who deny a Last Day resurrection of corpses are heretics.
Many Christian Gnostics regarded themselves as part of the organized body of Christians of the early church. However, as the organized Church gained political control of the Roman Empire, the Christian Gnostics were persecuted by the organized Church and many were martyred. The Christian Gnostic tradition is one of many branches of early Christianity labeled as heretical by the early Church fathers. The Gnostic influences and writings were cut out of official Church doctrines as heresy. Because of their suspected Christian Gnostic origins, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation was almost rejected from the New Testament. Nevertheless, the organized Church succeeded in hiding its Christian Gnostic doctrines.
It is not surprising that the orthodox Church bishops edited out the practical spiritual knowledge which was once an integral part of Christianity and was known and practiced by the apostle Paul. For these fathers, it was far more convenient and gratifying for their egos to assert that spiritual grace could only be attained through them as Christ's representatives on Earth. To control the masses, the political organization of the church declared that salvation was attained only through the church rituals and through the priesthood. Salvation through a personal mystical experience with Christ apart from the organized church was cast away. In a move that is very likely to have met with the disapproval of Christ himself, the worldly political aspirations of a few priests won out over the spiritual enlightenment of the many.
And as it is with any religion or movement, the successors of its founder decided which things to keep and which to throw out. The organized Church discarded the spiritual knowledge of Christian Gnosticism as being too dangerous and kept the concept of blind acceptance of church doctrine.
Ultimately, the organized Church declared Christian Gnosticism a heresy and began killing those who adhered to its doctrines. Thus the powerful Roman Church began its crusade of eliminating all rivals to its authority. Christian Gnosticism was obliterated and relatively little historical and theological information was left to fully understand early Christian history. This all changed in 1945 with the discovery of the Gnostic Christian scriptures discovered in Egypt. Then in 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls of early Jewish Gnostic writings occurred. Today, with many Christians wondering if the Second Coming of Christ is soon to happen, it may not be a coincidence that these secret writings have come to surface after two thousand years of being hidden. Finally, after two thousands years, the secret is finally out again. <table id="table350" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr> <td width="50%" height="20">
</td> </tr> <tr> <td width="50%"> "The soul has neither beginning nor end… [They] come into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of their previous lives" - Origen
The Theology of Christian Gnosticism
According to Gnostic theology, a series of "falling away" from the Whole that is God occurred in eternity which resulted in all that there is today. After the first "fall", the divine consciousness descended to the level of the divided consciousness; now after another "fall", it has fallen even further, into the depths of the unconscious; it has been "forgotten." It is now humanity's privilege to discover the potential realms of human existence and face the great challenge of the "ascension of consciousness" through the Man-God-Spirit transformation.
Once souls fell into the lower levels of consciousness, they became enamored of it and burned with the desire to experience the pleasures of matter. The souls then no longer wanted to disengage itself from these lower levels. Thus the world was born. From that moment souls forgot themselves. They forgot they original habitation, their true center and eternal being.
Gnosticism proceeds from one fundamental insight: this world in which we find ourselves is thoroughly and irretrievably less than holy. The soul is trapped in a prison of flesh, and the flesh is intrinsically less than divine. According to Gnostic theology, the creation of the cosmos came about as the result of a tragicomic mistake: the fall of the soul from God. Thanks to the advent of Christ in the lower realms of consciousness, the power of reconciling the fallen souls has been given to restore the One-ness and usher in the kingdom of light over the kingdom of flesh and matter. The unity of the Godhead is assured thanks to the introduction of the new uniting force, the Logos, the part of God who acts in the flesh and the material. It is important to distinguish the Logos (Christ) from the soul named Jesus. Any person has the potential of becoming a Logos but it was the soul known as Jesus who actually incarnated as a Logos and therefore became a Christ on Earth.
We, as humans, cannot comprehend the omnipotent power available to us until we utilize the Christ power. When we effectively use the divine "Christ awareness" we have the ability to help in the liberation of the imprisoned "sparks of divinity" from flesh and rejoin them to the Source. The divine plan of creation will become complete as the divine outpouring of Christ gnosis liberates humanity from ignorance. The result of this will be the redemption of all human beings.
The Christ power can only liberate souls through the call and revelation of Christ gnosis to, "Awake, remember who you are and where you come from!" But since the soul cannot by itself hear the gnosis, the Christ power resorts to elaborate strategies to create the conditions for which all souls will be saved.
Christian Gnostics felt that initiation into the Cosmic Christ gnosis is inseparable from "the light which lighteth every person coming into the world." It is this light within, our Higher Self, which each individual must bring to at-one-ment with the divine Source if liberation is to occur.
As more and more people hear the call to "Wake up!" and attain the Christ gnosis and become liberated, their souls are received back into the bosom of Divine Consciousness. The soul becomes free from unholy flesh and the cycle of birth and rebirth. Christian Gnostics seek to achieve this by cultivating the Higher Self within people to seek reunification with the Godhead. But each soul returning to its divine source must, after death, pass through the various levels of consciousness. Sometimes Christian Gnostics describe seven of these heavenly realms, other times ten.
Christian Gnostic Writings
The quote from Jesus from the Christian Gnostic gospel, the Book of Thomas the Contender, describes Jesus teaching reincarnation:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "Watch and pray that you may not be born in the flesh, but that you may leave the bitter bondage of this life." (Book of Thomas the Contender 9:5)
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In another part of the Book of Thomas the Contender, Jesus tells the disciple Thomas that after death, those people who were once believers but have remained attached to things of "transitory beauty," will be consumed "in their concern about life" and will be "brought back to the visible realm."
The following quote from Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas affirms Jesus teaching reincarnation to his disciples:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will bear!" (Gospel of Thomas, saying 84)
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More excerpts from this very interesting gospel will be profiled later.
In the Secret Book of John, written by 185 A.D. at the latest, reincarnation is placed at the center of the discussion concerning the salvation of souls. The following is a summary of the Secret Book of John's perspective on reincarnation.
Everyone has drunk from the water of forgetfulness and lives in a state of ignorance. Some people are able to overcome ignorance by having the life-giving Spirit descend upon them. These souls "will be saved and will become perfect," that is, escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. John asks Jesus what will happen to those who do not attain salvation. They are hurled down "into forgetfulness" and thrown into "prison," the Christian Gnostic symbol for a new body.
Jesus says the only way for these souls to escape is to acquire knowledge after coming from forgetfulness. A soul can accomplish this by finding a teacher who can lead the soul in the right direction:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "This soul needs to follow another soul in whom the Spirit of life dwells, because she is saved through the Spirit. Then she will never be thrust into flesh again." (Secret Book of John 14:20)
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Another Christian Gnostic book, the Pistis Sophia (Greek for "Faith Wisdom"), outlines a system of punishment and rewards that includes reincarnation. The book explains the differences in one's fate as a result of past-life actions. A "man who curses" will be given a body that is continually "troubled in heart." A "man who slanders" will be given an "oppressed" body. A thief will be given a "lame, crooked and blind body." A "proud" and "scornful" man will be given "a lame and ugly body" that "everyone continually despises." From this, we can see how this Earth, as well as hell, is a place of education through suffering.
According to the Pistis Sophia, some souls experience hell as a place of shadows and torture. However, after these souls pass through hell, they return to Earth for further experiences. Only a relatively few extremely evil souls are not permitted to reincarnate. These souls are cast into "outer darkness" until a time when they are "destroyed and dissolved."
The Pistis Sophia combines the ideas of reincarnation and divine union in a verse beginning with the question:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "[What happens to] a man who has committed no sin, but done good persistently, but has not found the mysteries?" (Pistis Sophia)
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The Pistis Sophia reveals such a soul will receive "a cup filled with thoughts and wisdom," allowing the soul to remember its divine origin and pursue the "mysteries of the light" until it finds them and is able to "inherit the light forever." To "inherit the light forever" is a Gnostic term for union with God.
In the Gospel of Phillip, Jesus makes a clear distinction between the resurrection of the spirit (i.e., spiritual rebirth) and the resurrection of the body (i.e., physical rebirth, reincarnation):
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "People who say they will first die and then arise are mistaken. If they do not first receive resurrection while they are alive, once they have died they will receive nothing." (Gospel of Philip 73:1-4)
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In the Apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church, is the following verse:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "I was given a sound body to live in because I was already good." (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20)
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This verse raises the following question: How is it possible to get a body after you have already been good, unless reincarnation is true?
Among the works of the Christian Gnostics are some of the early gospels, including secret gospels which were not preserved in the New Testament. The Gospel of Thomas was the first gospel ever written and is considered by scholars to be the most reliable gospel. Much of this gospel contains sayings of Jesus that are contained in the four New Testament gospels.
The Christian Gnostic gospels reveal a clear and strong vision of the resurrection as a past and present event. Below is a verse from the Gospel of Thomas that shows the "resurrection" to be a past event:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "His followers said to him, 'When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?' He said to them, 'What you look for has come, but you do not know it.'" (Gospel of Thomas, saying 51)
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In the verse above, Jesus says the resurrection and the kingdom are already here. In Gnostic terms, this quote from Jesus refers to a person's past "resurrection" (i.e., physical rebirth, reincarnation) and the fact that we are already living in the kingdom of God which exists within us. Only through the Christ gnosis can this kingdom be realized and the cycle of resurrection end.
The sayings that are presented below are excerpts of the Gospel of Thomas that are not present in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
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Reincarnation and the Early Christians
</td> </tr> <tr> <td height="20"> </td> </tr> </tbody></table> In December, 1945, early Christian writings containing many secrets of the early Christian religion were found in upper Egypt, a location where many Christians fled during the Roman invasion of Jerusalem. Undisturbed since their concealment almost two thousand years ago, these manuscripts of Christian mysticism rank in importance with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These writings affirmed the existence of the doctrine of reincarnation being taught among the early Jews and Christians. These Christian mystics, referred to as Christian Gnostics, were ultimately destroyed by the orthodox Church for being heretics. Their sacred writings were destroyed and hidden with the belief that they would be revealed at an appropriate time in the future. The discovery in 1945 yielded writings that included some long lost gospels, some of which were written earlier than the known gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Brian A. Bain, M.A., has this to say about the 1945 discovery:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "Long considered to be heretical, ancient Gnostic Christian texts unearthed this century display compelling similarities between Gnostic conceptions of life and death and modern near-death experiences. The Gnostic texts devoted extensive tracts to what readers could expect to encounter when they died. Other passages make numerous allusions to near-death-like experiences that can be realized in this life, most notably the human encounter with a divine light. The Gnostic Christian literature gives us one more example of NDEs and similar experiences in the ancient world."
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Another interesting fact comes from Edgar Cayce (a near-death experiencer) who affirmed that Gnosticism is the highest form of Christianity.
The Christian Gnostics were regarded by some as a new Jewish sect who believed they had finally found the long-awaited Messiah and not a new religion. Some of the apostles became Gnostic and because of this, Christianity could well have grown up as a Gnostic religion had it not been for their eventual persecution by the organized Church centuries later.
The Secret Teachings of Jesus
An important Christian Gnostic teaching was the "Logos" which in Greek is translated as "the image of the Word." It is an important concept found in the gospel of John:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
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Logos is the part of God that acts in the world. It is the perfect unity of the human and the divine. This is affirmed by John when he wrote that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." When John stated that Jesus is the Logos, he is stating that Jesus became the Logos, the Christ. The Logos is the divine "spark" of God within humans that needs to awakened. Everyone has the "image of the Word (Logos)" within them and it is for this reason that Genesis describes humanity as created "in the image and likeness of God." The Logos is the divine Spirit in humanity. By using the Christian Gnostic idea of the Logos, John is not only affirming the preexistence and divinity of Jesus, but he is affirming that all sons of God created in the "image of the Word" as Jesus was, preexisted in spirit before being born. In other words, every human is an incarnation of the Logos and every human has to potential of becoming like Jesus, a manifestation of the human-divine unity. Every human can be a "Christ" and because of this, every soul will eventually be drawn back to God.
The Roman Church misunderstood what the Logos was in John and incorrectly concluded from this that only Jesus is divine - the Word made flesh. The orthodox Church either rejected or ignored this Christian Gnostic concept found in John. This may have been a factor when the gospel of John was almost rejected from New Testament canon when it was being put together. This was during a time when Christian Gnosticism became an enemy of the organized Church. Nevertheless, it was the idea of the preexistence of the soul and its corresponding doctrine of reincarnation that the Roman Church had great difficulty with.
The Christian Gnostics emphasized spiritual knowledge rather blind faith as the road to salvation. They indicated that they possessed secret knowledge (i.e., "gnosis" in Greek) concerning the hidden meaning of the "resurrection." This was a part of the secret teachings of Jesus handed down to them by the apostles. This special knowledge was restricted to people who were given the public teachings of Christianity before qualifying to be initiated and receive the secret teachings. In contrast, the very term "Catholic" means "universal", implying that anyone could become a member of the Church by adhering to the public teachings of faith and rituals. The Christian Gnostics were harsh critics of the orthodox Church. The Christian Gnostics accused the Church of watering down the gospel in order to popularize it for the masses. The orthodox Church stressed salvation through faith alone and by the rituals of the Church.
This secret gnosis emphasized spiritual "resurrection" (i.e,. spiritual rebirth) and physical "resurrection" (i.e., reincarnation) as opposed to a resurrection defined as people sleeping in their graves until it is time their corpses to crawl out of their graves at the last day. Christian Gnostics held the view that if spiritual resurrection was not attained in one lifetime, then the soul would be subjected to as many reincarnations as it takes until spiritual rebirth is attained.
One of the great Church leaders was Clement of Alexandria in Egypt (150-211 A.D.) who indicated that he possessed the secret teaching handed down from the apostles.
In the Gnostic text entitled The Secret Gospel of Mark, one of the Christian Gnostic texts discovered in 1945, describes Jesus performing secret initiation rituals. Before the discovery of this secret gospel, our only knowledge of it came from a letter written by Clement. Clement quotes from this secret gospel and refers to it as, "a more spiritual gospel for the use of those who were being perfected." He also states, "It even yet is most carefully guarded [by the church at Alexandria], being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries." Clement mentions elsewhere that Jesus revealed a secret teaching to those who were "capable of receiving it and being molded by it" He also affirmed that, "The gnosis (secret knowledge) itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles." (Miscell. Book VI, Chapter 7)
The existence of a secret teaching can be found in the New Testament:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding…'” (Mark 4:11-12)
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance." (Matt. 13:11-12)
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." (1 Cor. 2:6-8)
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God." (1 Cor. 4:1)
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and Earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." (Matt. 11:25-26)
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Paul wrote about teachings which are taught to spiritual "babies," teachings about righteousness for the more mature, and then teachings for the spiritually mature. Paul reveals this fact immediately after equating Melchizedek to Jesus by stating:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)
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According to tradition, after the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, the author of the Gospel of Mark established a church in Alexandria, Egypt. Mark may also have been the author of a "secret gospel" containing more advanced teaching for those being initiated into the Christian mysteries. This secret gospel contains passages portraying Jesus teaching secret doctrines.
The Champion for the Secret Teachings of Jesus
As the orthodox church in Rome gained more and more political power the more it viewed secret teachings as a threat to their own public teachings. But the Church leader who made the final and greatest attempt to revive the secret teachings of Jesus within the orthodox teachings was the first Church Father named Origen (183-253 A.D.) of Alexandria in Egypt who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandra. Origen was the first person since Paul to develop a system of theology around the teachings of Jesus. His effort was the first within the orthodox church to systematize a theology on so vast a scale. Although Origen defended orthodoxy, he included in his system the wisdom of the Christian Gnostics. His theology was a perfect synthesis of "orthodox" and "gnostic" teachings and came the closest to reviving the "Lost Christianity" of the original sects, communities and schools, at a time when the Christian Gnosticism was falling into disrepute. Unfortunately, hundreds of years later, the Church declared him a heretic and his teachings as heresy mostly because they affirmed preexistence and therefore reincarnation.
Origen had this to say about the secret teachings of Jesus:
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</td> </tr> <tr> <td> “[Jesus] conversed with His disciples in private, and especially in their sacred retreats, concerning the Gospel of God; but the words which He uttered have not been preserved, because it appeared to the evangelists that they could not be adequately conveyed to the multitude in writing or in speech… and they saw… what things were to be committed to writing, and how this was to be done, and what was by no means to be written to the multitude, and what was to be expressed in words, and what was not to be so conveyed”. (Contra Celsus, Chap. VI. 18)
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Concerning these secret teachings, Clement stated:
<table id="table337" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="85%"><tbody><tr> <td height="10">
</td> </tr> <tr> <td> “James the Righteous, John and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge. They imparted it to the other apostles, to the seventy…” (Outlines Book VI)
ART OF HEALING
By DR AMIR FARID ISAHAK
A gathering in India of different religions and different people offers hope for the unity of religions.
I RECENTLY spent nearly two weeks as a vegan, interfaith explorer and peace-pilgrim at the world headquarters of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness, more popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement) at Sri Mayapur, West Bengal, India.
I was there with about 300 members and youths of URI (United Religions Initiative, www.uri.org) for our triennial global assembly, hosted by ISKCON and the Bhaktivedanta Institute of Manipur.
Mayapur is about 100km north of Kolkatta, but the journey by 4WD took three hours because the road was full of potholes and the trip was more like an obstacle race, zigzagging to avoid craters, rickshaws, bicycles, cars and cows. Then there were the oncoming buses and over-laden lorries threatening to smash us head-on as the vehicles on both sides took turns transgressing into the wrong side. I was praying frantically through much of the journey, which was appropriate as I was going there as a “pilgrim” of peace!
Mayapur is the spiritual centre of Hare Krishna devotees. It is located just beside the sacred Ganga (Ganges) river in the agricultural heartland away from the hustle and bustle of Kolkatta.
Interfaith prayer at Mayapur.
The temple complex is walled like a castle, and on the outskirts are numerous stalls, shops, eateries and hotels catering to the pilgrims and tourists alike. Inside is a small town with several temples, halls, restaurants, hostels, apartments and meeting venues. There is a bank, communications and Internet station, travel agency and other services that the thousands living inside and outside may require.
There are also schools and several sacred places in the surrounding area. Transport to the neighbouring towns or places of interest is easily available, and one can even cross the Gangga on a boat or ferry across to the small town of Navadip.
Although it was approaching winter then, global warming showed its impact this year, as it was unusually warm, being cool only at night. I had gone there expecting the worst, bringing winter gear to protect me from the biting cold, but it turned out that even a T-shirt was sufficient.
And although the place was well maintained in terms of cleanliness and food preparation compared to what you may expect of India, the water supply was still suspect. The dry, dusty conditions made it worse. No matter how much precaution we all took, many still ended-up with diarrhoea or fever. Some got really sick.
Apart from us, there were hundreds of their devotees from all over the world who were there on their own pilgrimage, while many also came as volunteers for our global assembly. Just like us, they came from all the continents. I was fortunate to have been dinner guests of a Hare Krishna devotee couple from Moldova and Ukraine. There were also many African devotees who were very active in the dancing and singing.
Just outside the gates there is a well-planned housing estate where most of the Western devotees stay. Many are permanent residents with their children attending nearby schools, while others divide their time between their homelands and this spiritual home.
There was always activity in Mayapur. The singing and dancing in the main temple started at 4.30am. Since my room was just nearby, it served as my wake-up call, since my own prayer time was about that time too. Their devotional chanting, singing and dancing would go on at scheduled times throughout the day, often ending past midnight.
Every Saturday night, there was a festival with a parade headed by a decorated elephant, followed by a chariot carrying the deities, and devotees chanting and dancing down the streets within the compound. Thousands of devotees and tourists would throng Mayapur during each festival, more so if there were special events or celebrations.
Even though men and women freely mixed, there were strict rules against touching, holding hands, hugging or kissing in public. In fact, at the entrance, there was a sign which says “No playing; no games; no mundane music”. Before we went there, we were already warned about the no-hugging, no-meat, no-smoking and no-caffeine rules, but they actually allowed caffeinated-coffee for the URI group. That was the only compromise.
The vegetarian food was always delicious. I had never seen more varieties of fruit and veggie dishes, and enjoyed all of them. Many of us became sluggish in the first few days because we ate too much, trying to savour every dish that was new to us.
It was only after cutting down the portions and avoiding the sugary desserts that I felt energetic again, and managed to lose the weight gained previously. Our food was lovingly cooked and served by volunteers from all over the world, so the spread was also international.
After almost two weeks of being a strict vegan (the food also excluded onions, garlic or leek as these can arouse the libido and hamper the spiritual quest), I hope it will help me drastically cut down on my meat intake for the rest of my life. I have been espousing a low-meat diet and must practise what I preach.
The URI plenary sessions were held at a temporary structure erected at the site of the future Sri Mayapur Vedic Temple, which will be the largest Hindu temple in the world. When it is completed, it will bring many thousands more to Mayapur. It will dwarf the current icon, the Samadhi Temple, dedicated to the movement’s founder, His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Mayapur is the spiritual centre of Hare Krishna devotees. It is located just beside the sacred Ganga (Ganges) river in the agricultural heartland away from the hustle and bustle of Kolkatta.
Unity of religions
URI, which was established in 2000, is the fastest growing global interfaith movement. It is grassroots-based, being composed of over 400 interfaith groups (called “Cooperation Circles” or CC) spread all over the world.
Each group is made up of people of diverse religions, faiths or spiritual traditions doing any activity that promotes enduring interfaith cooperation and helps end religiously-motivated violence. Activities may include interfaith dialogues, sports, mountain-climbing, dance, music, art or anything you can think of. Together, over one million people are directly or indirectly involved in our activities.
So you can imagine how fun and activity-filled it was when 300 of us gathered for the Global Assembly at Mayapur. Our theme was “Pilgrims of Peace – Many Paths, One Purpose”. There were songs, dances and story-telling from the Sufis, Native Americans, indigenous South Americans and others, interspersed with prayers, plays and performances from every region of the world.
Our hosts further enriched our experience with their continuous chanting, dancing, processions and prayers.
Of course there were the serious meetings too, but we always had sing-and-dance interludes whenever the meetings got too long or too boring.
And probably for the first time, the Jewish Sabbath, Christian Mass, and Muslim azan (the call to prayer) and Friday Prayer were held in Mayapur. The prayers of all the other religions were also heard as our programme was full of such prayer occasions. We have proven that the people of all faiths can unite for peace, and have fun together, while keeping true to their respective beliefs.
If you would like to be part of this global family, do write to me. If you already have a group of friends from different religions doing any activity that promote harmonious living among yourselves, I encourage you to form a CC. If you already have a society or organisation that promotes peace among religions, then you should get it registered as a CC too.
A charter for unity, peace and prosperity
As we celebrate the New Year, I would like to invite you to join me in this declaration: “We, the people of all races and religions of Malaysia, unite to promote a safe, harmonious and prosperous society, to end racial and religious conflicts, and to work for peace, justice and equity in our beloved country.”
I hope this declaration will be a starting point for those of us who love this country. I hope we can then work together towards a Charter for unity, peace and prosperity that will help us achieve that elusive dream – a united Malaysia where every citizen feels equally at home, has equal opportunities, and be equally proud of being a Malaysian.
My duty is not just to help heal those who are physically sick or spiritually weak, but also to help heal the rift that has surreptitiously crept in between the people of different races and religions here since our fathers and mothers proudly and sincerely held their hands together and cried “Merdeka” over 50 years ago.
Now we, their children, are not so united any more, and it’s anybody’s guess what is simmering below the calm surface of “official unity” as displayed through open houses and other programmes. I hope many of you will join hands with me to achieve this dream.
May God answer our prayers, bless this country, and bless us all. Salam, Peace.
Dr Amir Farid Isahak is a medical specialist who practises holistic, aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine. He is a qigong master and founder of SuperQigong. For further information, e-mail email@example.com.
The views expressed are those of the writer and readers are advised to always consult expert advice before undertaking any changes to their lifestyles. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
Hmm.., you really think so? And isn't that just evolution 'at work'? Anyway, I guarantee that overall genetics (DNA; live; the origin of species; etc.) is far too complex for us (humans) to control. So, don't worry about it..
Creationist argue that whenever you leave things like a pile of laundry it will never evolve to something better but rather getting worse. And this is fact, out of it is own without the touch of spirit, matter doesn't evolve into a higher quality. So this whole idea of evolution, dead matter evolving out of its own into complex valuable materials, just by giving it enough time, is wrong, not proven, not within our experience. Dead matter rather deteriorates, the opposite direction.
A free-market-economy (capitalism) depends on global competition between locally different producers of (basically) the same consumer-goods. The overall idea is that a competitive market will ultimately improve the quality of everything, and all consumers/humanity will benefit.
Why do you think 'eugenetics programs' will be started!?
The first duty of a government is to make sure that there's no joblessness.
As a saying goes, an idle mind is the devil's workshop.
Hence the battle to end all battles coming?
The jobs Obama is going to create are going to be centered around defending the global elitists interests from the angry mobs and informing on people that will be resistant to the tyranny.
The pussy footed preachers from all religions will tell the people to lye down and don't fight the tyranny.
Seems like what Prabhupada said about simple living is coming by default, although it seems that the non-Vaishnavas are more determined to take up the challenge.
Voluntary Creative Simplicity
by: Dravinaksa dasa
Jan 02, 2008 — As the following article shows, there is a movement toward "Voluntary Creative Simplicity." Srila Prabhupada talked about this in 1970. Are devotees ready to take the plunge? Read on:
<center> How we went from $42,000 to $6,500 and lived to tell about it! By L. Kevin & Donna Philippe-Johnson
</center> As a middle class American, it's been difficult for me to understand how we are supposed to make a living when there are so many things working against us. How can we go on day after day with the rising cost of food, fuel, utilities, car insurance, taxes and health care, while dealing with the insecurity of unemployment? In the past, whenever I considered these things, I felt a hopeless sense of impending doom in the pit of my stomach. There is so much talk about how to solve these issues, but nothing ever seems to stop the downward spiral of struggle and stress that millions of folks are experiencing.
Like many working people, my life went along fine during the 1980s. I had a good paying job ($42,000 a year) and though I didn't enjoy the kind of work I was doing as an industrial draftsman, receiving a steady paycheck every week kept me going without much complaint. But then came the Gulf War in the 1990s and after that point I faced nine layoffs over the span of 10 years. By the time September 11 happened, I hadn't been able to maintain steady employment in the petrochemical industry for over a decade. I would work about three or four months, then back again to the unemployment line.
It was at this point that I realized that something was wrong. The life strategy I had grown up to believe in was no longer working and there didn't seem to be any answers. Obviously no one was going to get me out of this, so I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and figure out a way to redefine my basic approach to living.
Lucky for me, I have an adventurous wife. She was on the same page with me and was willing to make some drastic changes in our lifestyle. As a committed team, we decided to figure out another way to survive despite these uncertain, hard economic times. Since we didn't have a lot of money and because it was getting harder to find steady employment, we decided to rethink our basic values in order to create a life for ourselves where we could be independent and free of needing a career or a full-time job.
And for us, that meant first and foremost, moving to the country. If we were going to be poor, we thought, at least it would be better to be poor in the country. That way we could grow our own food and reduce our expenses. Eventually we discovered that there were others who felt the same way we did. Today there is a small, but growing movement in this country towards a lifestyle we call "Voluntary Creative Simplicity."
We decided to start over, to shake loose from all the things holding us down. We got rid of all the stuff we didn't need and worked on paying off debt. Then canceling our credit cards and using cash, we followed an efficient financial plan that taught how to track every penny. By doing this we were able eventually to save a little bit of money. (See the book entitled, Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin.)
Also, we wanted to be strong and healthy to do the work required for this basic lifestyle so we changed our eating habits. We broke away from the standard American fast food, pre-packaged supermarket diet in favor of organically grown whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, fermented dairy, nuts, seeds and sprouts and eliminated all junk foods and prescription drugs. We started exercising regularly by walking, practicing yoga, and gardening. Since we no longer wanted to pay health insurance premiums, we decided to start a special savings account ($1,000) just for emergency first-aid treatment. And of course we got rid of the cell phone, cable television and Internet bills and greatly minimized our use of air conditioning. The beginning of the path to the simple life was a process of elimination in every aspect of our lives.
Eventually we found 2-1/2 acres of land, 35 miles out of the city. Inspired by our new vision, one summer we said goodbye to the city, permanently moved out to our new place and set up a dome tent to live in. We happily lived in our tent that summer while clearing the land and constructing a rustic 10' by 12' room with a sleeping loft. We did this on a "pay-as-you-go" plan, hauling all the materials in the back of our old pickup truck. Never having built anything before, we worked hard and gained the skill of building our own shelter.
As the tiny outbuilding took shape, next came the installation of an underground cistern for collecting rainwater, and finally, the construction of our three-room (500 square foot) cabin. Since we had to borrow $9,000 to purchase the property, I continued to take whatever jobs I could find (drafting, clerk work, courier, dishwasher, bakery assistant, etc.) while Donna stayed busy working on our organic garden, planting fruit trees and composting. She enjoys learning about native plants and healing herbs that she can grow.
Over the next few years, while working toward our goals of self-reliance and independence, we became stronger, healthier and more confident in our ability to rely on our own skills. It was quite an empowering experience. We learned how to build things, grow our own food, take responsibility for our own health, and best of all, we learned how to laugh and have fun again. The simple joys and true pleasures of fresh, home-grown food, watching everything grow and prosper in harmony, working with our own hands and spending quality time together replaced all of the costly false values that had occupied our time before.
Gradually we paid off the land, finished the cabin and succeeded in minimizing our basic utility costs. We began to notice that our expenses were decreasing as the quality of our life was increasing. As long as we stayed home and didn't travel to a steady job we really didn't need very much money. The lifestyle of voluntary creative simplicity was resulting in compounding efficiency and improvement in every area of our lives. Soon, we saw the proof of the inefficiency of working a full-time job. After figuring in the work-related expenses of one job, I realized that my take home pay was only $3 an hour! At that point I was convinced that it was far more cost effective to stay home, grow our own food, split our own firewood and bake our own bread than it was to travel to a job day after day. Yet we still needed some form of income.
Though we had reduced the amount we needed to around $540 a month (way below the poverty level in America), we still had to find a way to generate that income without relying on full-time employment. Once we had succeeded in drastically reducing the amount of money we needed, I knew it would be easy to earn this income by working odd jobs such as building rustic furniture, playing guitar for tips, simple carpentry, part-time drafting, office work, plumbing, etc. However, there was one thing I really loved to do...bake handmade whole-grain sourdough bread in an outdoor wood-fired clay oven! I had always shared my bread with friends and family, but it never really occurred to me to do it as a way to earn extra money.
We soon discovered that there was no authentic, handmade sourdough bread being produced in our area, and little by little, people began asking if they could trade or buy from us. Within a year we had enough bread customers to generate the supplemental income needed to meet our modest expenses. And now there is even more demand and a waiting list of neighbors and friends who want our bread regularly. They know our bread is special because the organic wheat is freshly hand milled, the loaves are lovingly made entirely by hand and baked in our outdoor clay oven. (See our article, "A Homemade Clay Oven and Naturally Fermented Sourdough Bread," in the July/August 2005 issue of COUNTRYSIDE.)
We want to let others know there is a wide open market for this kind of specialty bread, even in very small towns like ours, because so many people, for various reasons, are unable or unwilling to make it for themselves. In fact, there is such a demand for this unique artisan bread that many people are perfectly willing to pay us $4.50 a loaf! Anyone who wants to earn a little extra cash, say $50-$100 a week or more, should consider learning this valuable skill, then educating and sharing in their local community. We continuously hand out educational material about the health benefits of sourdough bread, offer informative presentations in our local community and give out free bread samples.
Our system of distribution is arranged like a "bread co-op." There are regular customers who buy a batch of six loaves at a time, which we deliver fresh to them once a month. An added bonus of learning this skill is the inexpensive, incredibly delicious, wholesome bread that we make for ourselves, which helps reduce our food bill. This is just an example of how a valuable skill such as this can be financially supportive when you are living and thinking small.
While the key to the lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, is "thinking small," many people still believe the opposite is true-"bigger is better." For example, people often tell us we should invest in a commercial bakery and produce more sourdough bread. But in order to expand and make a career out of baking and selling bread, we would have to go into debt to purchase commercial mixers, freezers and large ovens, work longer hours and face the mountain of bureaucratic permits, codes, fees and restrictions. As a result, the simple, authentic handmade artisan bread that our customers love would have to be sacrificed in favor of expanding volume and making more money. Everybody loses but the bankers and the bureaucrats. We would fall right back in the same old trap, getting into debt and sacrificing our freedom and quality of life for a job. This is an example of compounding inefficiency.
The downfall of many people who would like to break the bonds of stress and financial enslavement to the system is their tendency to think too big. But we must realize that this has been programmed into us by the industrial society and loan institutions, all attempting to excite and feed our insatiable desires. Friends, it takes a lot of mindful awareness to break free of all these traps. It also requires an ability to improvise and adapt towards an alternative model. The lifestyle of voluntary simplicity is one option and the resulting benefits are transformational.
The point I'm making is this: many of us can no longer think in terms of having a lifetime career anymore. For whatever reason, things are changing in this country. Outsourcing and cheaper labor costs in other countries will continue to eliminate jobs in the United States. And though the opportunity still exists to work, we must understand that it may be only temporary. While continuing to work at a job or career one should be wise and set up a plan to survive without steady employment for certain periods of time if necessary.
This could mean storing some supplies, purchasing a piece of property where a small shelter, tent or tipi can be erected if necessary, or getting out of the city and into the country where one can provide food for themselves. My old Grandpa used to say, "all the troubles in this country began when people stopped growing their own food." And he was right. The younglings of this modern age don't even know what real food is, much less how to grow or prepare it! This has to change. (That's another reason we promote sourdough bread baking. It is time to start a "slow-food" movement).
Thinking small is one of the most intelligent and powerful things one can do. Consciously reducing one's life down to the simple basics is the secret to happiness. And it is so easy. What is the solution? This is our advice, especially to young people:
"Don't get in debt, don't think in terms of a career (work at a job for one reason only, to get paid so you can buy a place to live and grow some food), live in a small shelter, unload unnecessary stuff, reduce monthly expenses, extract yourself from the enslavement of modern technological materialism, stay healthy by exercising, eat a simple, wholesome diet, develop some practical skills, practice your art or trade and serve your local community. Teach your children to value true pleasures. Real wealth is perishable: food, health, trees, flowers, herbs, healthy soil, clean water, fresh air, friends and art. Learn to value and appreciate these above all else."
Of course we realize that everyone has to creatively work out their own unique plan according to their particular circumstances, especially if there are children to raise. (We have six grown children.) But with "small thinking," so many opportunities open up and the more one can release, the more freedom there is to experience with each passing year.
If someone would have suggested to us ten years ago that there was a way for the two of us to live on much less, build our own little hut, buy our freedom, give up steady employment, work fewer hours, become happy, healthy, debt free, self-reliant, and live fearlessly without health insurance, I would have told them they were crazy. This has been an incredible, radical journey for us, but now we know from first hand experience that with vision, patience, self-discipline and courage, it is possible to create such a reality.
Creative voluntary simplicity expands faster than inflation. For those who can do it, instead of thinking too big and chasing after more money to find happiness and security, the answer can truly be summed up in the words of the Greek philosopher, Diogenes: "True freedom is in the minimum of needs."
Kevin and Donna have an instructional video (VHS format only) on baking naturally fermented sourdough bread for $30. This includes the video, a set of written instructions, a packet of starter culture and shipping costs. Send check or money order to L. Kevin Johnson, 4402 Gilead Rd., Clinton, LA 70722.
Pani Poori - The King of Indian Chat
on <a class="timestamp-link" href="http://letusallcook.blogspot.com/2008/12/pani-poori-king-of-indian-chat.html" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" title="2008-12-23T08:20:00-08:00">Tuesday, December 23, 2008</abbr> Pani Poori - This is one of the most famous Indian Chat recipe that many die for. I really can't explain the taste of this recipe. You must experience it. The combination of sweetness and sourness makes this recipe unique and stand out from rest of the crowd. It is made differently in each part of India. For example, the Gujaratis make this more sweeter.
Ok now you may ask me where can I eat this? The best place to eat this is from roadside shops in India. Oh! of course we cannot find road side shops in other countries,especially in the US and UK. So here is a homemade recipe of Pani Poori to satisfy your cravings. You must give this a try. The best chat I have ever eaten! I know many will join me in this statement.
To make Poori:
1 cup of suji(Semolina) (makes more than 50 pooris)
salt to taste
1 1/2 tsp of all purpose flour
To make Pani:
1 cup tamarind juice
1/2 tsp Black salt or chatt masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp of pepper power
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
1/2 tsp of sugar
few cilantro and mint leaves - crush them in a blender
Boiled chick peas
chopped boiled potatoes
To make Poori:
In a bowl add the suji(Semolina) and salt. Mix well.
Add warm water and mix.
Add the AP flour and mix well.
Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.
The dough must be a tight dough.
Add few drops of oil to the dough and knead for 4-5 min and rest it for 15-20 minutes.
In a table/where you are going to roll the puri, apply oil and take dough and roll it to a very thin dough.
Take a bottle cover/cutter which cuts the dough into small round shape.
In oil, deep fry these pooris. They have to puff like balloons.
To make Pani:
In a bowl, add cold water and the tamarind juice. Add all the other ingredients required for making pani.
How to eat Pani Poori:
This is the best part. I bet when you start eating you can never stop.
Take 1 poori, crack open so that you can add the fillings.
Add 1 tsp of all the stuffing ingredients mentioned.
Dip the Poori into the Pani and immediately take it to your mouth.
Eat each poori as a whole to get this recipe right.
Repeat this process till you are out of Pooris.
Writing about this makes me drool. Do let me know if you have tried this recipe at home.
Interview: ‘Third party behind Mumbai attack’
Chetan Upadhyaya – Sify December 31, 2008
A war between India and Pakistan is unthinkable, believes Shah Zaman Khan, Minister, Press, at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
The war hysteria in both nations is being fuelled by “one common enemy that does not want India and Pakistan to be friends,” the senior Pakistani diplomat asserts. “What we have seen in Mumbai is altogether a third party conspiracy.”
Khan, who has a Master’s Degree in Economics, joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1978, and has served as Joint Secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in Islamabad and Director General of the troubled North West Frontier Province before being posted to New Delhi in late 2007.
“The media has created all these clouds and in a week or two, all these clouds of war are expected to vanish,” Khan told Chetan Upadhyaya of the Satya Foundation in an exclusive interview. Khan also answered two other questions from people who phoned in during this interview.
The war of words between India and Pakistan is at its peak. Media reports warn about heightened tensions and a possible war between the countries…
In my opinion, neither the public nor the leadership in India and Pakistan want any war. Whatever talks we are hearing about the war, it is all due to the media hype. The media has created all these clouds and in a week or two, all these clouds of war will vanish completely. And once again, India and Pakistan will hopefully resume the normal dialogue and talk process.
If two Germanys can reunite, why can't India and Pakistan? We were separated just 61 years ago, and the wounds and pain still linger. So many explosions in Pakistan and in India. Do you think that the time has come when we promote the concept of no boundary and no guns and bombs?
In my opinion, India and Pakistan can stay as two different entities, but in a dignified way. They can present an example of two friends who live separately, but harmoniously. The border is a geographical reality, and we cannot deny its existence. Every country has its own sovereignty and independence. We can maintain the individual existence and still maintain peace, friendship and brotherhood. We can live like good friends. What we have seen in Mumbai is altogether a third party conspiracy. There is one common enemy that does not want India and Pakistan to be friends. It is very necessary to remove that common enemy and that is possible only when we have mutual cooperation and trust and India and Pakistan help each other in eradicating this common enemy. Let the two countries not exploit each other’s weaknesses rather help each other in these trying conditions.
All this is the result of an international conspiracy?
Yes, it is all their game and both of us are suffering. It is high time that both India and Pakistan start accepting the reality and unite against international conspiracies. Let’s not be exploited by others. We must not allow ourselves to play in the hands of others.
Could you elaborate?
In order to promote their arms and ammunition, some powers are trying to ignite war between India and Pakistan. The arms lobby is forcing these powers to go with the “divide and rule” policy. This will stop only when India and Pakistan start realising that they are 'lost' brothers. The majority of us love each other. Only few rotten fish cannot continue to pollute the entire pond...! We must fight the terror collectively, without falling prey to the negative elements, which want both India and Pakistan to be broken into pieces. We all want peace and silence. The whole region is sick of the bloodshed and mayhem. After all, who knows the plight of terrorism more than Pakistan? We lost so many leaders and common men and women and innocent children. So many of our women became widows. If there are no wars, both India and Pakistan can spend more money on education, agriculture, industry, environment and employment. If we stand collectively, Pakistan and India together can show to the world that two brothers can finish the terrorism together and ensure complete peace... We are determined to give fatal blow to terrorism.
There are many organisations in South Asia that want a 'Mahasangh' of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China. What do you think?
I agree with you that there should be openhearted dialogue and discussion between the people of these countries. The thoughts and emotions should find an expression. And the conspiracy of the ‘superpower’ should be exposed properly. I will not speak for the merger. All countries have their own sanctities and sovereignties and without disturbing the natural makeup of the countries, we can still go forward in the direction of complete peace and brotherhood. We must promote the political, social, cultural and economic collaboration between these countries so that there is no more bitterness and fighting amongst us. Only this way can we can develop together and create a world where there is no forward and no backward. Everyone will get equal opportunities for expansion and growth without disturbing the peace and tranquility of others. And when there is equal progress at the economic and political levels, the borders get weakened automatically. If you travel in Europe, you never come to know where is the beginning or end of the boundary of one country. You don’t need permission to go from one place to another. The same situation can come here if we can make progress in political, social and economic fields. We must start seeing each other’s progress in correct light and with a positive state of mind. We must take pride in each other’s progress. With changed state of mind, the concept of border will change and we will witness a new world.
In a recent interview with satyafoundation.com, the RSS chief, Mr. K.S. Sudarshan, said that there are good people in every religion and society and it is our duty to live in mutual harmony with each other. He also said that terrorism should not be linked to any particular religion. How do you see this?
I fully agree with Mr. Sudarshan that terrorists have no religion. They are mindless people who have actually no association with any one nation or religion. I also fully agree with his statement that there are good people, both in India and Pakistan. And as a result, we have witnessed so much of dialogue and the wave of mutual cooperation and peace process in the past few years. If one can remember, just before the Mumbai crisis, there was an atmosphere of goodwill and talks at the senior level. We believe that good people on both sides of the border are doing exemplary work for good relations and will continue with this for peace and tranquility. Let me say it categorically that this is only a temporary phase of tension, which will defuse very soon.
Do you think there is need for educating the masses, especially school students, about the real meaning of religion?
Yes, I agree with you. No religion is actually in favour of killing innocents. It is against the very nature of humanity. We need to educate our children at a very early age about the good effects of friendship and brotherhood. We need to tell them that we may live in different countries and follow different methods of worshipping the God, but in reality, love is the common and the foremost aim of our lives. In-fact Islam is the religion of peace. The very word “Islam” means peace. Killing of a human being is strictly forbidden in this religion. It propagates love and affection.
Can Student Exchange Programmes work as catalyst for spreading love and real understanding between India and Pakistan?
Yes, this is one area, which according to me, is not fully tapped yet. Children are very innocent and they do not harbour ill feelings. They are so unbiased and nearer to God. So, they can play a very important role, but a lot of efforts for such programmes need to be taken jointly by both the countries on a war footing.
Mr. Khan, this is Dr. P.H. Mishra, in Delhi: India and Pakistan were two brothers. How did they go away from each other?
I see it as some international conspiracy to create confusion and hatred amongst us. Unfortunately some of us get swayed by their Divide and Rule policy, as a result of which all are suffering. Few fish are polluting the whole pond and it is high time we expose the foreign hand in igniting the battle between the two neighbours.
Dr. Adinath Upadhyaya, Varanasi: Mr Khan, Will the Pakistani government take concrete steps or just offer lip service for ending the terrorism? Has Pakistan any time-bound and result-oriented action plan to eradicate the terrorism?
We are trying our level best, but the best thing is to give us some time. Pakistan is going through a difficult phase of its history. Its role as a front line state in the war on terror must be recognized. No one should doubt its sincerity in fighting the scourge of terrorism. It’s sacrifices in both men and material in the bloody war launched since 9/11 cannot be matched by any single country or the NATO together.
Chetan Upadhyaya is a journalist and holistic healer who contributes extensively to various newspapers/magazines. He also conducts programmes and workshops for Stress Management and total awakening of mind through music, meditation, yoga and natural lifestyle under the guidance of his Guru, Yogi Shri Ashish Chatterjee. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
US-India Business Alliance gets new name
Washington, Jan 3: The US-India Business Alliance, a Washington-based trade organisation working towards improving economic ties between the two countries, now has a new name.
It would henceforth be called Alliance for US-India Business (AUSB).
Announcing the name change yesterday, AUSB said in a statement this will "emphasise and reflect" the growing strategic, political, economic and cultural bonds between the two countries.
"We are re-dedicating ourselves so as to remain on the cutting edge of where we need to be to offer all companies virtually a 'one-stop shop' when it comes to entering the market or expanding already existing operations, whether a large company or an SME, whether in the US or in India," said Sanjay Puri, President and CEO of AUSIB.
The US-India Business Alliance was formed in 2004. At that time the US-India trade was about USD 20 billion.
"This has since more than doubled to USD 42 billion. Along with this increased commerce, many other developments affecting business have occurred," the statement said.
With the signing of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, AUSB said the two countries are slowly moving toward a unique 'alliance' of shared interests.
"This emerging alliance is vital to the most important issues facing humanity - terrorism, national security, and economic development. USIBA's new name reflects the reality of this relationship," it said.
Latest photo 30 dec 2008
<!--- blog subject ---> Chicken Guinea disease?
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"Bhakti Raghava Maharaja, who had been suspected to have a contagious disease called Chicken Guinea, was also in the Bhaktivedanta hospital, in a room opposite to Jayapataka Maharaja's. So, we went to see him.
Maharaja was sitting on a chair in front of his deities, chanting. When I tried to embrace him, Maharaja tried to resist because of his infection. But I insisted, saying, “I touch you to get purified myself.” Maharaja looked very embarrassed and kept on saying, “please, please.”
I met him after many, many years. We remembered the early days in Mayapur. We used to be so close and rendered so many services together.
His condition is much better now. In a couple of days he will be discharged from the hospital. He has many preaching projects developing in different parts of India, and he told us how he was going to spend time in different places and eventualy come to Mayapur for the GBC meeting."
<!-- HEADLINE --> Prince Rama of Ayodhya merges Krishna, pop music
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Prince Rama of Ayodha with, from left, Michael Collins, Taraka Larson and Mimai Larson, performs Saturday at Wayward Council. Prince Rama of Ayodha with, from left, Michael Collins, Taraka Larson and Mimai Larson, performs Saturday at Wayward Council.
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<!-- /BYLINE --> <!-- PUBDATE --> Published: Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 11:12 a.m.
<!-- /PUBDATE --> If you've lived in Gainesville long enough, there is a good chance you've met a person who is a Hare Krishna. If you are a student at the University of Florida, then it's an impossibility to have missed the lines of students waiting for their vegetarian meals from the Krishna Student Center every afternoon in the Plaza of the Americas.
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<!-- /GRAY BOX ARTICLE CONTENT--> The plaza is unofficial Krishna turf, and while the dozens of students scattered with paper plates are unmistakable to most, the sounds of the music and the image of the plaza are inextricable.
Bells ring in a steadfast rhythm, with the incessancy of a Salvation Army worker at Christmas. The usual two drums alternate beat for beat and lay the foundation for the slow, lingering chants of "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama."
Until now I thought that for all intents and purposes, the drum circle, chant combo was the extent of Krishna music, that even George Harrison at his most spiritual moments was as close as I would come to hearing the synthesis of Krishna and pop music. Prince Rama of Ayodhya then pried open the lock on my brain, and answered the mystery.
The trio, based out of Boston, formed somewhere in a Florida swamp at a Hare Krishna farm. Taraka Larson, Nimai Larson and Michael Collins quickly grew in the Boston scene and eventually toured Europe. Now, they're coming to Gainesville for a Saturday show at Wayward Council, a venue with a growing reputation for booking ultra-alternative, national acts. They will be promoting their 2008 album "Threshold Dances" for the British label Cosmos.
Prince Rama's music has mysticism, spiritualism and heavy Eastern influences. But for all the beauty that rises out of the dense mixture of guitars, synthesizers, tribal drums, conchs, bells and chants lies the reality that most listeners don't really get it.
The aural pleasure in their music is present, and it will certainly pique the interest of world music fans and Hare Krishnas, but the ritualistic arrangement and performance of the songs, which has been known to include werewolf summings-up and Sanskrit invocations, may get lost in translation for a first time listener, or even a 100-time listener.
The simplicity of the lunch-time drum circle is comforting, but the expansion of sound and the way they compartmentalize long "jams" into four-minute structures is what has warranted a cult following for Prince Rama.
In trying to find a reference point I can offer only one band, and that is Dead Can Dance, and even then I am probably thinking in terms far too Western. There is a sensible and admirable charm in playing music that sounds modern and 4000 years old at the same time, and hopefully Prince Rama will deliver it. Alongside them will be Posupulenn, and Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands.
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The show on Sunday at 1982 Bar may not carry the mystique or cultural appeal of its predecessor but it's a show that still deserves to be mentioned. Paint Me Irrational, a young quintet-turned-quartet based in Gainesville will head up a melodic rock show that has a tweeny commercial appeal.
The music at this show is going to be radio-catchy in a New Found Glory, Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy sort of way, which strikes me as poignantly contemporary. The pop-punk, melodi-core movement has grown considerably over the last four years and the rise of bands like Paramore, and Panic At The Disco only cement the genre's popularity. These bands, including The Bride Wore Black from Queens, N.Y., are capitalizing on a cultural shift in pop music and doing it respectfully.
Expect the expected, and enjoy the soft, sentimentalism of Paint Me Irrational and the synth and auto-tune laden rock vignettes of The Bride Wore Black, because frankly, it's hard not to.
Other notable shows and events this week are Green Room Rockers, The Neighborhood Watch and Alex Baugh and The Crazy Carls at 1982 Bar on Wednesday night; and Theory of Disorder, Pictures of Winter and What Lies Beneath The Tide at The Backstage Lounge also on Wednesday night.
<!--- blog subject ---> Items for sale from Dhanistha
<!--- blog body ---> Moving Sale by Danistha devi dasi Posted January 1, 2009
The following list of Prabhupada books in original format and content are for sale:
1. Old soft Prabhupada complete "red" gitas with sanskrit 1972-75 $30./ea. ($3.00 each USA shipping);
2. hard bound original sanskrit Prabhupada gitas 1970's $60./ea. ($3.00 shipping);
3. Krsna Books = good condition large hard back (silver dust covers) original volumes in 2 parts $25./ea. or set of two volumes for $40. ($4.00 per book shipping USA only);
4. Teaching of Lord Chaitanya, Teachings of Queen Kunti, Teachings of Kapila, Science of Self Realization, 1970's all hard back with dust covers $10./ea. (shipping $2.00);
5. soft back 'mini' black original gitas no changes full sanskrit and content @ $5.00 each ($2.00 shipping) 8 for $35.00 ($2.00 each shipping);
6. Prabhupada Letter Books very rare only 500 sets in print! No more allowed to be printed. printed in Mexico by BBT Archives in 1980's. hard bound very beautiful in 5 volumes. There are thousands of letters from Prabhupada to his disciples in these volumes uncensored - no sound bites -$500.00 for the set firm (shipping $25.00);
7.VIDEO TAPES...Prabhupada memory videos on vhs tapes $5./ea. 40 tapes in the set for $200. (plus shipping of $40.00);
8. VIDEO TAPES...BBT archival Prabhupada lectures, interviews, walks etc. on video tapes 20 tapes in the set @ $5./ea. (set for $100. plus $20.00 shipping);
9. new original Prabhupada gitas in full with sanskrit and plates like the old Prabhupada gitas of the 1970' but new printing...only $5./ea. ($3./ea. shipping) (or buy 20 books for $90. plus $3./ea. book shipping charges);
for inquiries: dhanistha108@ or just send USA postal money order or bank money order/cashier's check with return address phone and order enclosed to: Deborah Yarber/ Route 1 Box 267A
Stonefort, Illinois 62987 Please allow two weeks for delivery.
VIPs avoid Lord Jagannath
Statesman News Service
PURI, Jan. 1: Ministers and bureaucrats stayed away from visiting Lord Jagannath temple today even as activists of the Srikhetra Milita Sangram Samiti maintained vigil at entry points to debar entry of VIP vehicles as a mark of protest.
The Samiti had declared that it would not allow ministers and bureaucrats to enter the town for the blessings of the Lord on New Year’s Day. The Samiti has been demanding settlement of land related issues, scrapping of the Vedanta varsity project etc.
Not a single beacon-flashing vehicle entered the town today, said Samiti activists who were patrolling the entry points.
Meanwhile, a section of the sevayats of the temple too sported black badges as a mark of protest. The sevayats have listed out separate demands, which also include land related issues and certain controversial amendments to the law governing the temple.
Sensing trouble, most of the ministers stayed away from Puri today. Chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik had declared that he would not visit the temple in view of the protests.
On the other hand, thousands of devotees thronged the temple for the New Year blessings of the Lord.
I don't have a taste for Prabhupada's purports.
Why Prabhupada's purports? Did Prabhupada write his own purports? Since Prabhupada quoted from so many Vaishnava sources how one can say these are all Prabhupada's purports? Prabhupada also presented so many original quotes by previous acaryas, is this also to be rejected when someone finds out, "I don't have a taste for Prabhupada's purports"?
Prabhupada: Oh, thank you. You have read some of my books?
Guest (2): Yes.
Prabhupada: They are not my books. I am simply translating. They are written by Vyasadeva, the original Vedic scholar. So there are now many secular states. Our Vedic idea of secular state is the government must be responsible of proper execution of religious system. It doesn’t matter whether one is Hindu or one is Christian, one is Mohammedan or Buddhist. It doesn’t matter. But it is a government duty to see that one who is professing as Hindu whether he’s executing the Hindu principles of religion properly. That is government. Just like government gives license to so many businesses. One man is selling liquor, wine, government issues license. So the government inspector, excise inspector, goes and sees that the man is doing business according to the license. Government should not be callous that “You may go on with your so-called religion, we don’t care for it.” No. That is not government. Government’s duty is to see, just like for example, Christians, their commandment, first commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” It is the government’s duty to see that anyone who is professing Christian, “Why he’s killing?” Immediately he should be punished that “You are professing as Christian and you are killing.” This is government. Similarly, Buddhist religion also, ahiṁsa. Ahiṁsa paramaṁ buddhiḥ. The government duty should see. And the ultimate test of first-class religion is: the follower has developed love of God. If he does not know anything about God, or if he has not developed love of God, then he has simply wasted time. It may be any religion. That is ultimate test because religion means, it has got relationship with God. Otherwise what is the meaning of religion? Any religion, it doesn’t matter. The process should be quest of God. What is God? What is Absolute Truth? Wherefrom everything has come? What is we… what we are? What is our relationship with God? This science. Religion means this science. In the Vedānta-sūtra, it is said, athāto brahma jijñāsā. This human life is meant for understanding the Absolute Truth. Otherwise, what is the difference between cats and dogs and human beings? If simply eating, sleeping, and sex life, and defend is the business of human life, then these things are there in the animal life also. They also eat. They also sleep. They have also sex life, and they also defend according to their capacity. We defend with atomic bomb and they defend their own nails and claws. The different spirit is there. So that is not the aim of human life. The aim of human life—this opportunity’s given by nature to have a human form of life—is to understand God. Nobody can deny—unless he is a crazy fellow—the existence of God. That is not possible. There must be. I may know it or not know it, it doesn’t matter. Therefore religion means to understand God and to awaken your dormant love for God. This is religion. Now there may be difference of process, according to country, time, people. Therefore, it is the duty of the government, it is the duty of the government… Hare Kṛṣṇa (someone enters). Formerly the kings, they were regularly supervising that their citizens were properly executing religious culture. That was government’s duty. Catur-varṇyaṁ maya sristam guṇa-karma- vibhagasaḥ [Bg. 4.13]. So now government is callous about religion. I’m very glad to know that your government has left some department to supervise. What is your function in this department?
with His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
February 26, 1973, Jakarta
Imax is perfect showcase for India’s natural beauty, colorful spectacle
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Friday, January 02, 2009
Part travelogue, part primer, “Mystic India,” an Imax film opening Saturday at Fernbank, is an eye-popping display of natural beauty and man-made spectacles framed by the spiritual journey of a legendary 18th-century Hindu yogi.
In this tale, the precocious sage Neelkanth left home at 11 and spent seven years traveling 8,000 miles through the vast subcontinent seeking truth and dispensing wisdom. His travels take us from the snow-capped Himalayas to the beaches of Kerala, with visits to intricately carved temples and rapturous ceremonies along the way.
<!--startclickprintinclude--><!--begintext--> He settled in southern India and, renamed Bhagwan Swaminarayan, founded the sect to which the Hindu temple that opened in 2007 in Lilburn belongs. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu organization that promotes his principles through good works, seeds the captivating images with information about India’s accomplishments and the sect’s beliefs.
Imax is the perfect vehicle to convey India’s sensory intensity, particularly the pervasive presence of color and pattern and diverse geography. Yet, as a sort of Hindu bible story, the film’s vision of India is so sanitized —- everything is spanking clean, everyone happy and well-fed —- that the country comes to feel more like a Bollywood set than a real place.
Still, in the face of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a reminder of the religious violence that has marred India’s history, and the brutality and squalor revealed in the film “Slumdog Millionaire,” Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s message of love, tolerance and unity bears repeating.
An Imax film directed by Keith Melton.
Not rated. Opens Saturday at Fernbank Museum of Natural History; runs through Feb. 13. $13, adults; $12, students/seniors; $11, children 12 and under; $8, for museum members. 767 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-929-6400, www.fernbankmuseum.org.
Bottom line: A legendary yogi’s spiritual journey set against gorgeous scenery and colorful ceremonies makes for pleasurable viewing, despite occasional hokiness.
Could humanity dispel its animality?
I wish to make my observations/comments on Bertram Perera’s letter on the above topic that appeared in ‘The Island’ recently (19 December 2008). The Buddha was against all forms of killing – not only against wanton killing, like hunting for sport as stated by Mr. Perera in his letter.He was an ‘embodiment’ of ‘Ahimsa’ (Compassion) and ‘Mettha’ (loving kindness) and therefore it is difficult to accept that the Buddha would have advocated that human beings consume/eat meat when he said, ‘Eat what you need’.
There is abundant evidence that the Buddha in the latter part of his life denounced the practice of meat- eating. The Lankavatra Sutra and the Dhammapada are highly critical of the heartless practice of killing animals for food. The Lankavatra Sutra eloquently denounces non-vegetarianism in no uncertain terms.
To the query by Mr. Perera as to ‘what is the farmer to do with the spent animal that has outlived its usefulness’, my answer is Mother ‘Nature’ will know how to deal with this problem by bringing about a ‘manageable’ population size of the spent animal (as quoted by Mr. Perera), through deaths occurring from such natural causes as, ageing, disease injury/trauma in a manner similar to what happens to the human population all over the world!
Any thought, word or deed that directly or indirectly results in the destruction of life is surely contrary to the spirit of Buddhism where much emphasis is placed on purity, non-violence, compassion and respect for life.
I totally agree with Mr. Perera on the following statement/remarks in his letter viz, "It is inexplicable why Buddhist society does not worry about the hog, the goat, the turkey, the duck and the chicken to the extent it worries about the cow. They too are living and feel pain. Is it because the cow provides milk to the human baby?"
Another popular misconception which prevails in the minds of many Hindus is that only cow’s flesh (beef) is taboo or forbidden to them. This is because they consider the cow to be a ‘sacred’ animal. This is a travesty of the truth: it may be so in ‘popular’ Hinduism but not so according to the tenets of true or properly understood Hinduism. To the creator the lives of all animals are ‘on par’!
Prof. M. Sivasuriya,
By Robert Rock 31 December 2008
I want to ask you to take a moment and see if you can recapture your thoughts and feelings about when you truly believed in Santa Claus. What was it like? Can you remember? If you can’t remember, we can at least capture something of the feeling by observing children of today. There is Santa, at the North Pole, spending each whole year getting ready for Christmas. Building toys for all the children in the world. Keeping track of each one of them, and what they want as they go through an entire year of new growth and discovery. But also keeping track of how they are behaving. Keeping a book with good and bad marks in columns, and adding up the totals during the twelfth month.
Santa loves children. He likes to see them happy, that’s why he gives them their favorite toys. He likes himself too. That’s why he’s so fat. He is friendly and jolly, but also can be very stern when needed.
I don’t remember how I felt when I experienced believing in Santa, but I do remember when I began not to believe because that was far more traumatic. And that may be the reason it is still in memory. I remember looking up the chimney one day when no one was looking, and seeing it was terribly dirty, and far too small to pass his body through. I pondered why grownups believe something like this. Does his body become smaller when he tries to pass through? And are there smaller chimneys in the world than the one we have? And are there people who don’t have chimneys - like Indians? I dismissed those questions for the moment, but the doubt stuck with me. I also noticed his moustache seemed to be glued on. If it wasn’t real, was he real? Then I wondered how he could get around to all the children in the world in one night. Nothing seemed to add up, except the grownups insisted he was real. Now I had two problems - one with Santa, and one with my parents. What was I to believe? I never really resolved this dilemma as a child. Things just gradually took a different shape. But deep down at some level the matter is still unresolved. Because I never really confronted the grownups, just hid the hurt, and made my own silent decision. It could have been a growing experience for both of us - the confrontation, and resulting mutual acceptance of the truth. I have forgotten the day when I finally gave up believing in Santa, it was so gradual. But now I believe in him in a different way - because he is good for young children.
Have you sensed by now that I’m making a comparison between Santa Claus and God? Let’s take a look. God loves us. He wants to see us happy. He gives us many of the things we ask for. Even in other religions, he is also known as loving - as the compassionate one, the merciful. Wise, all seeing. But, also like Santa, God can be very stern, doesn’t hesitate to punish, historically has been known to be quite vengeful.
While these are characteristics of the god of early Judaism, don’t we still believe this? Don’t we every day ask for something from God? Don’t we give thanks when something is received, especially when not deserved? Don’t we feel guilty about some of the things we do? Don’t we worry God might even know our thoughts, and judge us accordingly? It is immature for us to believe in Santa Claus at our age, but is it immature to believe in God much the same way? Maybe - maybe not.
Don’t judge yourself for the way you believe. Don’t judge others for the way they believe. If it works for us - for them - no one has anything to say about it. But I am troubled often at my belief in a Santa Claus God. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. If God truly loves us, why let millions in Africa die from starvation, from the cruelty of others - from plane crashes and auto accidents? The praying hundreds that went down with the Titanic. It can be explained, but it can’t be explained.
Is there another kind of God? - rather, is there another way to perceive of God - another way to experience God - than as a great Santa Claus? For example, we’ve been hearing that the kingdom of God is within us ever since Jesus uttered these words, but how good are we at achieving this? It’s far easier to think of God being outside of us somewhere in heaven or outside beyond the universe, rather than being in ourselves. I can’t help but question why God would think so highly of me as to place a part of him in me. I don’t regard myself as that deserving. We are all far more familiar with praying to God - “out there” than in here. So, what is the truth? How do we proceed toward a better understanding of God, than we presently have, and a better ability to sustain a personal contact with God?
Six thousand years ago these same questions were not only being asked, but the answers were recorded - in India. Writings which eventually became known as the Vedas, where centuries of discoveries were passed down from generation to generation, each new group of seekers studying the preceding writings of those before, and adding their newly maturing discoveries to the record. Until the answers that began to take shape were so believable and so true to everyday life, their writings developed into their present “New Testament,” the Upanishads, the Mahabarata, the B’havagad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. The theology, or philosophy behind these latest writings is known as Vedanta - “Veda - ante” - or the last of the Vedas. Their answers were so highly developed, they still apply to our present day needs - but the seeking continues, especially in the West, where they have recently been found to have relevance not only to Christianity, but to Islam (Sufism) and to reform Judaism. What did the Vedic writers discover, that is speaking so clearly to us today? Does it give us a clue to something beyond a Santa Claus God? Yes it does, and Jesus knew about it too, though not necessarily through the Hindus.
But before proceeding further, I want to ask if anyone is troubled by my references to non-Christian teachings. For instance, are you uncomfortable with mention of Hinduism as a guide to Christian belief? If so, may I read a brief passage from our hymnal - the footnote of hymn No. 581. (Read)
Let me continue by also reading a brief passage from a new book that came out just this year — p. ix, of “Children of Immortal Bliss”
The core Vedantic ideas of unity of existence, universality of religious truth and our indwelling divine nature no longer seem as strange to us as they did only 75 to 100 years ago when the general belief was that God was distant, in His heaven, and “the judge of the earth.” Many in the West who want a better understanding of God in human affairs no longer to this model, but feel that God may not be so distant after all. This is a momentous step forward. These and other related beliefs have been slowly filtering into Western consciousness, principally through the influence of Vedanta and other Eastern teachings.”
But where does this leave us? As revelatory as this is, are we to begin giving up our Christian belief, and begin following Hindu teachings? I think not. Let’s look at some of the sayings of Jesus:
Matt 7:7 “Ask, it will be given to you,” “Seek, you will find,” ” Knock, it will be opened for you”
Thomas: 2: “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find.” “When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will rule over all.”
Luke 17:20, The coming of God’s Imperial rule: “People are not going to be able to say ‘Look, here it is!’ or Over there!’ On the contrary, God’s imperial rule is right there in your presence.”
Thomas 3:3 “If your leaders say to you: ‘Look, the Father’s imperial rule is in the sky.’ - then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea’, then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Father’s imperial rule is within you, and is outside you.”
Jesus was a master at speaking in multiple meanings such that listeners of all levels heard something of value for them. Those that believed God was in the sky, watching, heard that he loved them. Those who suspected there was something more to it than this - heard something else. We are no different. We hear what we want to hear.
But did Jesus know something about Vedic teachings? Scholars say it’s not impossible, since his town of Nazareth was on a trade route through which much of the world passed at the time. Or did he make these same discoveries because he simply delved so deep into himself, and found the same inner realizations as the people of the Vedas? We don’t know. Regardless, these ideas point to a path we can now follow that leads us beyond the Santa Claus God. Are you interested in discovering this for yourself?
You don’t have to. But it might be very interesting. It’s only a matter of choice. If the familiar God we worship, pray to and sing to is enough, then it is enough. But if it is not, then: “To thine own self be true” - seek for what you need. Again, a Hindu story in the Mahabarata spoke to this dilemma over a thousand years ago: Here the story is one of the god Krishna advising his troubled earthly follower Arjuna.
“For those who are not ready for the higher teachings … the B’havagadGita provides a compromise. Krishna says in effect, ‘If these ideas are too much for you … then throw the burden on me. If you can’t live up to these truths of the scriptures. If Truth is too strong for you, if you don’t know what the Self means, if you… can’t follow such an austere path … then throw all the burden on me. I will save you. Worship me and I will carry you across the ocean of worldliness to the other shore.”
Another way this has been said is: “Come to me all you who weary and heavy laden.”
So for some, Jesus saves. But those for whom this is not working must search further.
I am a Christian because that’s how I was raised, and I don’t want anything else.
But if my religion contains truths that other religions have, that I simply haven’t discovered yet - am I to ignore them because they call God Brahma - or Allah - or Great Spirit? Is not God one?
Western civilization has been coming to this point of honoring and discovering the Self within - through secular activities, like psychoanalysis, medicines, drugs and other inner-realization methods, but far less through our Christian religion. Are we now ready to take another look at what has been known all along in religious paths for thousands of years?
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within us and outside us. We have worshipped God for centuries - outside of us, but we have very little history in experiencing God within us. For most of us this is a great uncharted territory. But when we want to explore it, exactly how do we find and foster this inner self - how do we experience the God that Jesus says is within us?
It is a discipline requiring new study, search, and experimentation - and many more sermons. But it is enough for the moment to re-introduce these thoughts which many of us have heard before, in the hope of tweaking interest in venturing a closer and more sustained look.
While it is true, the Santa Claus God can be very good to us, if you need something beyond this, then maintain an openness to these new ideas - ones that might actually be very old ideas.
Secrets of Ascendants
in Vedic Astrology (Jyotisha)
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This is of course a wrong understanding that a life is spoiled by having a relationship with Saturn. For devotees of Krishna, Saturn grants perfect guidance in spiritual life. However, those who seek for material illusions like material wealth, they are afraid of Saturn because Saturn tells them to seek for spiritual advancement. But since the materialists don't want to make spiritual advancement but only seek for material advancement they say, "your life is spoiled by Saturn". Saturn on the other side, can also offer material opulence.