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    Mysticism in World Religions

    What's in a Word? (2 of 2)

    Sunday, July 5, 2015, 6:06 PM [General]
    Posted By: Ronkrumpos

     The Vedas, most sacred to Hindus, were rejected by Buddhists who also defined many Sanskrit words differently. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, are most revered by Jews and are studied by most Christians. Practices and customs may vary between countries, as apparent among the predominately Muslim states, or blend in local mythology, such as in Hinduism on Bali. Doctrine for any one religion may differ between its divisions or their branches, like within the many Protestant denominations.
        In Vedanta, Brahman is considered as the One God; Hindus of Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism may worship a chosen God, Goddess or incarnation (avatar) who emanates from Brahman. In Judaism, behavior and worship may vary among movements: Conservative, Hasidism, Orthodox, and Reform. Mahayana Buddhists rely on guidance of others and prayer; Theravada stresses self-reliance and good works; Vajrayana has secret rituals and metaphysics. Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and other Christians differ often on grace, the Trinity and sources of doctrine. Ibadi, Shi’a and Sunni Islamic sects disagree on Muhammad’s successors and on the status of imams; Sufi orders among them may worship differently.
        Hindu texts written in classical Sanskrit sometimes changed when translated into India’s 22 modern languages or into English. The Hebrew Bible varied in Greek and Latin; except for Protestants, the canon of Christianity’s Old Testament included many books not in Judaism’s canon. Buddhist texts in Pali and Sanskrit were often interpreted differently in other Asian languages and Ch’an/Zen downplays the use of scriptures. The New Testament has had many changes during translations, literal and idiomatic. The Qur’an was written only in Arabic for more than 1,200 years; first translations were in the early 1900’s, but are not considered true Qur’an.
        Reading the mystics of all religions can help to overcome these many apparent differences. Mysticism’s message seems to be a consensus: The essence of the One is the essence of All. Although the ultimate Reality is the same, each experience of it can vary. That applies to each mystic as well as between mystics.
    Note: For the eight main Hindu Deities and more than 100 devas/devis see alphabetical_order

    (29 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life" at my free ebook on comparative mysticism)

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    What's in a Word? (1 of 2)

    Saturday, June 27, 2015, 6:05 PM [General]
    Posted By: Ronkrumpos

        The word God, as used in English, is Allah in Arabic, Brahman in Sanskrit and ha-Shem (the Name) in Hebrew. God is Theos in Greek, the first written language of the New Testament. Nirvana in Buddhist Sanskrit can also mean absolute Truth: ultimate Reality.
        Hinduism had no one founder; the Vedas advanced orally about 200 years before being recorded in Sanskrit from ca. 1300–600 BCE. The Hebrew Bible developed at least 300 years after Moses, ca. 1000–400 BCE. Gautama had been born a Hindu and taught in Prakrit; Buddhism’s first written canon was in Pali nearly 400 years later, ca. 17 BCE. Jesus was born a Jew and preached in Aramaic; the New Testament had evolved from ca. 100–367 CE. Muhammad spoke Arabic; the written Qur’an was formed within 30 years of his death in 632 CE. Scholars do not agree on those dates.*
        Hindu scriptures also refer to Isvara, a more personal aspect of Brahman, and often to Vishnu and Shiva, two of Brahman’s trinity, plus incarnations in Krishna and Rama. The Hebrew Bible uses the sacred, unspoken, YHVH (YHWH) for God; Adonai replaces it when reading Jewish scriptures. Ha-Shem is used in conversation. Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles may consider the Dharmakaya (“dharma-body” or Buddha- nature) more correct than Nirvana, final realization of the Theravada. In the first written New Testament, Jesus referred to God as Abba (Father) and Lord applied to both the persons of the Father and the Son in the Trinity. In the Qur’an, al-Haqq (the Truth, the Reality) is supremely the title of Allah. Islam has “99 Beautiful Names” for Allah’s perfection; other faiths credit many attributes to God. 
        Many other religions have different words for God and a few, as in Buddhism, do not include a Supreme Being or Creator. Some give God personal qualities, while most speak of God as a spiritual omnipresence or an all-pervading force. Among the other religions which are still practiced today: Aboriginal traditions, African tribal beliefs, Baha’i, Druze, Jainism, Native American faiths, Polynesian spirit worship, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Yoruba, and Zoroastrianism. There are hundreds of religions and faiths.
    * Some scholars say that the oral traditions of Hindu and Jewish texts were first written in the 3rd Century BCE and the New Testament in the 1st Century CE (AD).  Comparative religions use BCE or CE, Common Era, for the Christian BC or AD; ca. means approximate dates.
    Note: Five of the largest religions are mentioned in order of their usual historical origins. All had originated in Asia (India and the Near East), but Judaism, Christianity and Islam are herein referred to as “Western” (yet the biggest Muslim populations are in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India). Shinto of Japan - larger than Judaism - worships “kami,” heavenly and earthly divine powers shared by some humans.

    (27 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life" at my free ebook on comparative mysticism)

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    Duel of the dual

    Saturday, June 20, 2015, 2:13 PM [General]
    Posted By: Ronkrumpos

        “Conscience” is a misused and misunderstood word. “Have you no conscience?,” ask people of a person who does something which seems to them to be so obviously wrong. Each person has a dual conscience and, occasionally, these two sides do engage in a duel.
        Socrates said that conscience was the inner warning voice of God. Among Stoics it was a divine spark in man. Throughout the Middle Ages, conscience, synderesis in Greek, was universally binding rules of conduct. Religious interpretations later changed in psychiatry.
        Sigmund Freud had coined a new term for conscience; he called it “superego.” This was self-imposed standards of behavior we learned from parents and our community, rather than from a divine source. People who transgressed those rules felt guilt. Carl Jung, Freud’s famous contemporary, said that conscience was an archetype of a “collective unconscious”; content from society is learned later. Most religions still view conscience as the foundation of morality.
        Sri Aurobindo said “...true original Conscience in us is deeper than constructed and conventional conscience of the moralist, for it is this which points always towards Truth and Right and Beauty, towards Love and Harmony and all that is a divine possibility in us.” Perhaps conscience can be viewed as a double-pane window, with the self in between. On one side, it looks toward ego and free will to obey community’s laws. On the other side, it is toward the soul and divine will to follow universal law. They often converge to dictate the same, or a similar, course of conduct...and sometimes not.
        The moral dilemma is when these two views conflict. Disobey the laws of society and you might be ostracized and/or go to prison. Disobeying divine law is a sin in most Western religions and causes bad karma, negative consequences, in Eastern faiths. Divine law, or dharma in Sanskrit - logos in Greek - is fundamental within both Hinduism and Buddhism. It has many definitions and applications.*
        The laws of our community, or religion, should be followed only when they do not conflict with divine law. Intuitive, innate and interior conscience tells us, without words, what divine will dictates. Reasoned, learned and exterior conscience tells us, with words, what society or religion expects, or demands, of us. Mystics listen to the divine silent voice. It requires listening beyond the self.
        Divine conscience is “knowing in your heart” rather than in your mind. In these essays it does occur three times. “It motivates you to respond to the divine will which the soul, through your conscience, tells you is right.” It is that critical observer of our self: innate with respect to the divine, not the superego related to our community. “Surface soul is a self’s reflection in the divine; conscience opens the soul’s depths to reflect the divine essence in this self’s life.”
    *Dharma, or logos, can also mean the source of world order, cosmic reason, moral teachings, individual duty, etc. Unlike dharma, logos more commonly refers to human reason, e.g. logic. In Christianity, Logos is God’s Word (wisdom) incarnate in Jesus.

    (29 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life" at my free ebook on comparative mysticism)

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