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  1. Dearest all, Thank you very much for all your replies to my post. I am overwhelmed by the response (it came up to 20 pages!) I apologize for not responding immediately to your replies. Our internet access has been down for some time. Here are my response/further questions: Bhaktajoy: There is one God. The Chinese may call out to that same Supreme Lord, the Christians may also, the Hindus also, and the Vaisnavas also. He is very beautiful, charming, powerful, and merciful, and He can come and play with you in any relationship. He is not formless, or without a shape. This idea is wrong. My question: According to Islamic belief, God (Allah) has no shape or form, Allah can't be seen, Allah is neither male nor female. This seems to contradict with Vedic teachings if God is said to have a form. Isn't there a real contradiction here? http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islam_beliefs.shtml Bhaktajoy: 'The beginning of consciousness' 'According to the secret teachings, the universe was not first created in matter, but existed prior to material creation in spirit. Imagine a consciousness similar to our own, except that this first consciousness was boundless, a Universal Consciousness. This is God. At some point, the Universal Consciousness desired to express itself. It began to conceive, to imagine, and express Its inner prompting. And so the creation began - light, sound ... eventually stars, galaxies, trees, and rivers.' My question/comment: Thank you very much for the article. After reading it, I am sad that, probably due to my limited mind, I am unable, with an open heart and mind, to accept the description as being factual. Maybe, my brain is used to logic and reasoning because from childhood days I am used to see things around me, wondered why and find reasons for them. Certain things, however, remain as mysteries to me. These include, memory before birth and what happens after death. But the existence of a Universal Consciousness and Its sudden decision to 'express itself' sounds more like a fairy tale. Other parts of the story too sound fictitious, e.g. '….it wasn't long before some of us began to use our wills and express ourselves. At first, we simply imitated the Creator, but eventually we gained experience, and with experience came knowledge and confidence. Then, we truly began to create on our own, adding new dimensions to the spiritual creation, much like a second voice adds to a song by singing harmony with the main melody….'. I wonder if this is more acceptable to other people? Transient: The number of living entities is static. Does not increase nor decrease. However they are innumerable. Because of their volume, it is impossible to count all of them. In our universe, there are innumerable number of planetary systems and they are populated by different living entities. My question/comment: According to biblical literature, Adam and Eve were the first two humans created by God and they multiplied to produce others. Also, after the Great Flood only Noah's family survived who again multiplied and populated the earth. In fact, records show that the population of earth has been increasing. For instance, there were 1.6 billion people in 1950 and in the year 2000 there were 6 billion. Why do you say that the number of living entities is static? Can this statement be taken literally? Real life shows that every living entity multiplies, some producing hundreds or even thousands of offspring. Many human couples produce more than two offspring. Transient: There are 8,400,000 species of life. The 400,000 are human species and we find only several of the species on earth. Outside our universe, there are innumerable number of other universes with innumerable number of galaxies and planetary systems which are populated by innumerable number of living entities. My question/comment: If by 'species' we mean living entities that are able to inter-breed, then there is only one human species. What do you mean when you say there are several human species? Do you mean different races of people? Also you mentioned that in other planetary systems there are innumerable number of living entities. Is there any evidence to this effect? As I understand, scientists are still searching for life on other planets but have yet to succeed. Transient: So the spirit soul, because of his karma that binds him, sometimes goes upwards to live in the planets of the demigods or sometimes goes down to the abominable bodies of insects and microbes. However, in the perspective of eternity, the different bodily existences of the spirit soul is considered fleeting.' My question/comment: Who are demigods and are they real? I trust that the knowledge regarding existence of other planets with demigods is acquired from the Vedic literature. Has such knowledge been verified by observation or other means, or is it beyond the material sense and based on a belief? I will find it more convincing if there are some evidences one can examine for himself/herself. Transient: The theory of evolution espoused by modern science is just that -- a theory and is a fallacy. My question/comment: Evolution though a theory has many hard evidences that is available to anyone who is willing to examine. These evidences are very convincing indeed (e.g. 'Atlas of Prehistoric World' - Discovery Channel). The discovery of many fossils and bones of transitional nature shows that evolution is the only explanation for the change that has occurred over many years in our animal and plant kingdom. For instance, the archaeopteryx lithographica, displaying a distinct blend of major reptilian and avian characteristics and highly resembling the theropod reptiles of its time, is unquestionably a transitional form. Basilosaurus isis is the name given to a whale whose 40-million year old fossilized skeleton features a small pelvis with hind legs. The rhipidistians link the crossopterygian fishes to the icthyostegid amphibians through a clear temporal progression of vertebral and skull characteristics. Diarthrognathus sports both reptilian and mammalian jaw joints. Tetraceratops links the pelycosaurs to the therapsids (the pelycosaurs and therapsids are themselves reptile-mammal transitional forms). In fact, our canine tooth (one of the four pointed conical teeth located between the incisors and the premolars) show that we are descendents of carnivores. How can one say that evolution is a fallacy? Is this conclusion made after studying the theory and the evidences in detail? We should give ourselves equal opportunity to study all available knowledge and draw a conclusion based on what we understand or satisfies us. Examining matters that are beyond our understanding and logic could be just a waste of time, unless our intention is to discover things never before discovered by mankind. Transient: However scriptural evidence is not very much appreciated by one who wants hard evidence. In this case there are many impirical works by different people from different disciplines which produced irrefutable evidence on reincarnation. One such work is by the hypnonist Helen Wambauch who hypnotized more than 10,000 people of their previous lives. Later she checked the places, names, events and objects described by her patients in their past lives to the actual places, names, events and objects and majority of those checked were confirmed to be true. My question/comment: The research done on past lives is, indeed, very convincing. Your explanation sounds equally convincing. I don't have much comment on this but just to say that this is a real mystery to me. Transient: The sufferings brought by nature are natural consequences caused by the actions of the population. My question/comment: I find this difficult to accept because there many natural disasters that are not caused by humans, for example, earthquakes. If what you mean is the natural disaster arise due to their karma, then it is mind boggling why such disasters occur repeatedly in the same region and other countries, like England and Malaysia, are relatively free from natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes). Could it be possible that people born in these regions have good karma? Transient: We should understand how the law of karma works otherwise everything you see becomes confusing. The tradgedy of the ignorant is he always act like fool though he thinks he is very knowledgable. A person who deny God's existence is always a rascal. My question/comment: There are 350 million Buddhists worldwide http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/index.shtml and Buddhist do not believe in a personal creator God. Does this mean that they are all rascals? There could be some real thinkers and philosopher among them. I think it is unfair for one human to pass judgement onto another without examining the reasons behind the other person's assertion. Transient: This phenomenal world has been set into motion by God as a perfect unit and is equipped with all necessary paraphernalia for its development, maintenance and destruction as the case maybe. So it all depends on the living entities how they manage God's resources and God's resources will react accordingly. As far as "innocent children" dying, back to Karma 101. My question/comment: O.k. You said that innocent children suffer and die, probably in an earthquake, because of their bad karma. What about animals and other living creatures that die from natural disasters? Are they too subjected to the law of karma? If the karmic law is a fact, why is one made to suffer in his next life and not the present? Don't we punish our children immediately when they do something wrong? I don't think punishing one in his next life is good because he may not know what is the punishment for because very few people have memory of their previous life! (My apologies if the questions sound arrogant, but it is for the sake of a better understanding). Transient: The movement of the living entities is being managed by higher authorities and everyone is put in its proper place. There is no such thing as accident. You may want to go on studying all these things to its minutest detail to satisfy your curiosity and thirst for the truth and if you have the required intelligence and time and determination there is no doubt that your quest will lead you to appreciate the souvereignty and perfect workings of God on everything. The speculative process that you follow however, is dangerous because you may not have the required intelligence, time and determination to probe everything and this may just lead to your confusion and frustration. There is a better process however and this begins with a humble and sincere heart and a little bit of faith that God has the power to enlighten you and reveal Himself to you and answer your questions from within your heart. The mind is a big wasteland and to dwell in that place only brings thirst and hunger. My question/comment: There are far too many things in this world to learn that it is impossible for one to study all these in minute details in his life time. Leaving the earth without knowing as much as one could means that one's brief stay on this planet has been wasted. Science has made it possible to learn many things about the earth and the universe. Everyone should grab the opportunity to learn about the earth, the natural laws and the living entities before he/she goes because there may not be another chance. Frankly, I wish to be re-born as a normal human over and over again so that I can experience life in this material world forever. This may just be a blind wish! Transient: An unfortunate person who misuses the human body transmigrates to lower species of life. The human body is very important because it is the springboard where a person can get out from the cycle of birth and death because he has the facility to develop his loving relationship with God. When one is born in the lower species of life, he doesn't have this facility. However there is no karmic reaction in the lower species of life. A dog cannot be reborn as a lizard. The evolution of the lower species of life is always going up until a person again takes another human form. My question/comment: Since there is no karmic reaction in the lower species, how does the evolution of lower species go up? There must be some judgement made on the lower life so that it can be re-born as a higher life? If so, what could be the basis of such judgement, especially on microscopic life forms? Audarya lila: We may perceive the needs of individuals based on material circumstances but that is a very limited conception at best. Irregardless of that consideration, we serve others because it brings some satisfaction to ourselves - we feel more complete by helping others. My question/comment: Agree. Serving others without expecting anything in return is what I consider a true human virtue. One who serves others or God with the expectation of a better life or some other personal gain is plain selfishness. In the eyes of others, they appear good, but deep in their hearts they want something in return. Audarya lila: Therefore to judge that a bacterium has no purpose other than to harm humans is myopic at best. (besides e-coli has done much good for humans as well - it is not only responsible for disentery - it is the bacterium of choice for all types of genetic manipulations and cloning. It is a real pioneer in the field of molecular biology.) My question/comment: I quoted the e-coli bacterium just as an example. There are many other bacteria that are harmful or live in places where they never come in contact with humans (for instance, deep in the ground). It is difficult for one to accept the fact that every living entity (including those that we can't see) have been created with a purpose. Audarya lila: The same question can be asked in so many different forms such as - why are some people born in poverty and others with a silver spoon in their mouths? Or why are some born in pious religious families and others in families of thieves and rogues? The simple answer is that life is eternal and didn't begin with the beginning of whatever particular body is being inhabited by any particular spirit soul. Enjoyment and suffering are a result of our karma. My question/comment: There are two reasons why I find it difficult to accept the truth in the last statement. Firstly, when a person commits a hideous crime, say rape and murder, and escapes from the law, probably, due to lack of evidence, he is free as any other man. Due to his bad karma he may be re-born as something less in his next life, say a nematode or plankton. But, is there any explanation why God should punish him in his next life and not the present? Isn't it better to punish him in his present life so that he realizes his wrong doings? Can he remember his misdeeds if he is, say reborn as a toad or a peacock? The second reason is, there are infants born with birth defects and die a few hours after birth. This could be again due to bad karma. But then, they die at such a young age that they don't realize their defects and come to terms with the reality. Why don't God wait for the person to grow up and realize their defects, instead of 'withdrawing' their souls at such an early stage. Could the law of karma, in reality, be just a human imagination? Audarya lila: What we are all looking for is something that makes sense to us and for that, of course, we must rely on our experience and our intellect. We are meant to do so. But you should realize the limitations of such endeavors from the very beginning, otherwise it will only lead to frustration and atheism. Spiritual practices and spiritual experiences are not unreasonable but they are beyond the ability of reason and logic to understand completely.You are seeking after the unlimited with limited tools, that should be clearly understood.You are conscious and it is with conscious experience that spiritual life will become a reality for any practicioner. My question/comment: I understand that our experience and intellect are limited, and also that in seeking God, we are seeking the unlimited with limited tools. With limited tools, isn't it very difficult to understand things that are beyond the ability of reason and logic? Is the effort and time devoted worth understanding something beyond our ability to understand? Isn't it better to focus our life and effort on things that we can understand? There are far too many fascinating things on this planet to study and understand, such as the history of the world, people and places, animal and plant kingdom, solar system and space research and prehistoric life forms. Isn't it more worthwhile studying about our own home, earth, instead of what happens outside once we leave? Accepting the secret teachings, in my view, is just like leaving a small child in the only toy or candy store in town and to tell him to think about his father and where he is going after his visit to the store. If I were the child I will run around the store to see and learn as much as possible. Won't you?
  2. My dearest respected friends, For sometime I have been wandering aimlessly in the realm of spiritual world and scientific facts. After floating in a state of confusion and loss for a while I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from IndiaDivine regarding downloadable writings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and others, including the full version of Bhagavad Gita. I downloaded them immediately and started reading a very fascinating article written by Michael Grant titled 'The Science of Self Realization'. His introduction to His Divine Grace captured my attention and I knew that this was the type of article I have been looking for some time. I am now studying the article like a research paper to get a better understanding of the teachings of His Divine Grace. While reading the first few pages I came across a few statements that I have doubt and would like to discuss on this board. I have quoted the parts of the article which I have doubts followed by my questions. With due respect to the writer, these questions are asked to seek greater knowledge of the teachings and not to undermine the teachings or belittle anyone. If my questions sound offensive, my sincere apologies because I don't know in what better way to ask. I seriously invite my respected learned friends on this board to participate in this discussion as I regard your comments with immense value to me and my faith in the teachings. Here are my doubts: Page 5: 'If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is served, all other parts and parcels will be automatically satisfied' My questions: Why does the Supreme Personality of Godhead need to be served when He is omnipotent and therefore capable of fulfilling all needs? Normally, one serves others who are in need and helpless. Page 5: 'In the Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted by all authorities in transcendental science as the basis of all Vedic knowledge, we understand that not only human beings but all living entities are parts and parcels of God' My question: The term 'all living entities' encompasses too many living creatures that include micro-organisms, viruses, tapeworms, nematodes, cyclops, corals etc. Are they all parts and parces of God? I find it difficult to accept this fact because some of the living entities do not seem to serve any purpose but merely harm humans, e.g. the e-coli bacterium. Page 6: 'We must always remember that this particular form of human life is attained after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration of the spirit soul.' My question: Does the term 'evolution' has the same meaning as the term used in science books, that is, life forms changed over long periods of time by natural selection? Has there been any serious study done to verify that the soul actually transmigrates from one body to another? Any references to such study? Page 6: 'There are swine, dogs, camels, asses, and so on, whose economic necessities are just as important as ours, but the economic questions of these animals and others are solved under primitive conditions, whereas the human being is given all the facilities for leading a comfortable life by the laws of nature.' My question: The laws of nature also brought sufferings to many, such as earthquakes, draught, floods, hurricane. How can we say that human being is given all facilities for leading a comfortable life by the laws of nature? There are many people suffering due to the laws of nature, even now due to flood in parts of Russia, Germany and China. Page 6: 'Why is a man given a better chance to live than swine or other animals?' My question: When we compare the starving children in Somalia and the dog lying on a couch after a sumptuous meal in an Englishman's house, it is difficult to accept the fact that life of humans is always better than animals. Some humans even do no have the freedom that the birds have. Other creatures, like the rattlesnake has the ability to sense variation of the earths's magnetic field and move to a safer location before an earthquake occurs. Humans don't have this ability. Any comments? End of Page 6: 'The Bhagavad-gita very vividly describes how a spirit soul, by the laws of nature, takes his birth and gets a suitable body and sense organs for enjoying matter in the material world.' My question: I have personally seen on TV one siamese twin born with her brain outside the skull and the other baby having a stumped arm. One of them died a few days later. How can one explain this and why the sense organs are sometimes not normal? I have seen even a large colony of tiny ants and bees having perfect body parts whereas one or two human baby is born deformed. These facts are real and hard to deny. Page 8: 'Neither the scientists nor speculative philosophers have yet arrived at any conclusion concerning the cosmic situation. All they have done is posit different theories about it. Some of them say that the material world is real, others say that it is a dream, and yet others say that it is ever existing. In this way different views are held by mundane scholars, but the fact is that no mundane scientist or speculative philosopher has ever discovered the beginning of the cosmos or its limitations. No one can say when it began or how it floats in space. They theoretically propose some laws, like the law of gravitation, but actually they cannot put this law to practical use.' My question: Understanding of the law of gravitation helped scientist to put satellites in orbits, hence allowing us to communicate and predict weather. Understanding the laws of thermodynamics has enabled engineers design power plants, refrigerations and air-conditioners. There are many other examples where scientists and engineers have put the laws of nature into practice. Isn't the last sentence above a sweeping statement undermining the works of scientists and engineers over centuries? Page 18: 'Real advancement means knowing God. If we are lacking knowledge of God, we are not actually advanced. Many rascals deny the existence of God because if there is no God they can continue their sinful activities' My question: Some people deny existence of God because fossil records of pre-historic life forms mislead people to believe that evolution has occurred, that is, life forms change on its own by natural selection and that each creature on this planet came into existence on their own without being created with a purpose. These fossil records provide evidence of many past transitional life forms. They are real and hard to deny their existence. There are also many natural phenomena such as plaques, earthquakes, flood, hurricane, snowstorms etc. that occur so often that people questions the existence of a divine power. Why would God want to confuse people? (I am surprised that His Divine Grace used the word 'rascals') Page 18: 'It may be very nice for them to think that there is no God, but God will not die simply because we deny Him. God is there, and His administration is there. By His orders the sun is rising, the moon is rising, the water flows, and the ocean abides by the tide. Thus everything functions under His order.' (pg. 18) My question: The last sentences says that everthing functions under His order. Does this mean that earthquakes and other natural disasters are the order of God? It is difficult to understand why God would order such distasters that kill thousands of innocent people and even destroy places of worship. Why would God do this to innocent people, including children and helpless animals? (I sincerely hope someone will answer this as I regard the speaker of this sentence as a highly respected and learned individual and this part of the writing conveys a very important message to everyone) 'Mike Robinson: Yes, I think I've got that now. If we could go on from there--you said that how you lived made a difference in your life after death, that there are natural laws that determine your next life. How does the process of transmigration work? Srila Prabhupada: The process is very subtle. The spirit soul is invisible to our material eyes. It is atomic in size. After the destruction of the gross body, which is made up of the senses, blood, bone, fat, and so forth, the subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego goes on working. So at the time of death this subtle body carries the small spirit soul to another gross body. The process is just like air carrying a fragrance. Nobody can see where this rose fragrance is coming from, but we know that it is being carried by the air. You cannot see how, but it is being done. Similarly, the process of transmigration of the soul is very subtle. According to the condition of the mind at the time of death, the minute spirit soul enters into the womb of a particular mother through the semen of a father and then the soul develops a particular type of body given by the mother. It may be a human being, it may be a cat, a dog, or anything.'pg. 22 My question: The underlined portion says that the soul enters through the semen of the father. What I think His Divine Grace meant is that the soul enters the sperm of the father that later fertilizes the egg. But the semen contains millions of sperms that are already alive (up to 500 million in each ejaculation). Since the sperms are already alive, where did each sperm get the soul from? What about the egg, does it have a soul too since it is also alive? (I am sorry for asking such difficult questions, but I need the answers in order to build up my faith in the teachings of His Divine Grace). 'Mike Robinson: Are you saying that we were something else before this life? Srila Prabhupada: Yes.' Pg 22 My question: If we were somethings else less human in our previous life, say a dog, how can the soul transmigrate from dog to human when dogs don't pray or serve God the way humans do? Could this mean that only a human can take the body of another human in his next life? And that humans who reject God will be born as something less human or a less fortunate human but not an animal? Since anything less than human does not pray or serve God it's soul can only be re-born as something lower, say from dog to lizard, and a lizard's soul can enter into the body of something even lower, say a flatworm. In other words, once a soul enters a non-human body it can only go one way, that is further down the animal kingdom. But then, lower down, the number of offsprings produced is much higher that further up. For instance, a dog produces up to 8 puppies whereas a cod produces millions of offspring. Where do all the other souls come from? The numbers don't tie up. Has anyone done any detailed study on this topic?
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