Krishna says in Gita, "In the beginning, the world was created with an agreement between gods and human beings. The humans to propitiate the gods through fire rituals, and gods giving abundant wealth" ...reminds us in modern language "you scratch my back , and I will scratch your back!! " :) :) Is acquiring wealth, the purpose of life? probably not...but if that is what people want, there is a method prescribed (and not ignored)...UNLIKE the ascetic model.
Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, begins with an invocation to Fire “Agnimeele purohitam, yajnasya devam ritvijam, hotaaram RATNA dhaatamam” ( meaning :Fire, the high priest of sacrifice, the divine, the ministrant, who is
the offerer of greatest wealth). In rituals , fire is the medium used to offer many things to gods and goddesses, in return for wealth (ratna)
God is the owner of everything. Ascetic teachers who were recluse and basically responsible for many teachings, often took a stand against money/wealth... If you are wealthy, you will be deluded and ignore God.. that was the concern.
"Be My Guest" - Free Book by Conrad Hilton. He grew up without even a reading desk, didn't have money to pay for his construction workers and he went and prayed. His book "Be my Guest" freely available if you stay there.
In Gita, 3:12, there is a verse which is often ignored by commentators:
"istan bhogan hi vo deva, dasyante yajna-bhavitah" meaning "the devas can give you the enjoyments of life, by fire rituals" or "gods can give you whatever you want so that you may enjoy those things"..
In Gita, 3:11, similar train of thought, the word "parasparam" is used to denote the mutual relationship between the human and the gods for each other's benefit.
" devaan bhaavayataanena te deva bhaavayantu vah, parasparam bhaavayantah shreyah paramavaapsyatha
Meaning: "You will make the deities prosper through this fire ritual, and the deities will make you prosper. By mutually making each other prosperous, you will attain the highest good"
Bible says " ASK, and it shall be given!'
Albert Einstein famously said " Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind".. Advantage of science is that its discoveries are mainstream..and its discoveries follow a peer-reviewed and repeatable process which can be tested by anyone, so inclined. Religions can become negative when they are run like an institution, can get very fundamentalistic, The religious scriptures are experiences of the mystics, and it is not a repeatable process. Though these days, with increased information sharing, we are seeing more and more convincing evidences of mystical experiences that only a few were privy to, in the past. Scientific methodology doesn't accommodate miracles, and science do not yet have tools to understand the spirit.....On the other hand, we have religious teachers going and teaching without any proof.
Vivekananda once said " Science and religion will meet and shake hands"
One such topic is the belief in angels, gods and goddesses and how such alien intelligence can be used to help with worldly problems.. "Our scientific and technological civilization has killed our belief/trust in angels, gods and goddesses and we have dumped them. But if you talk to people, they will say that God has dumped them :) :) Religious texts often remind us that human life is the most precious gift, because it is the highest state of evolution of the soul, where the pursuit of God is possible. We often appreciate everyday things in life, like a new car or a house or other innumerable things in life...but how many of us remember God, thank god or appreciate the free air or nature or just the fact that we are alive!
Just because we can't see the angels and gods with our eyes, it does not mean that they don't exist.. If you revisit the scriptures of various religions, you will find a different story. Many ancient traditions and cultures seem to have perfected the art of contacting these subtle beings from other galaxies and use them to help with human situations..In Indian tradition, they are called "devas or devatas", literally meaning "bright beings"...somewhat like "angels" in the Abrahamic religions.
In Old Testament, for example, God tells Moses that "whereever you go, my angel will go and protect you, and will tell you everything before it happens"
In Bible, when Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers, his disciple Peter drew his sword to fight with them, but Jesus said "No, don't fight, put the sword down; those who live by the sword, will die by the sword...if my father had wanted to help me, HE WOULD HAVE SENT AN ANGEL!!" So Jesus seem to be in touch with the angels!
So an angel (or a god or a goddess) can do that human beings cannot!
Jesus did several miracles in his life and he attributed all of it to the "Holy spirit" ...If we listen to people like Benny Hinn, who wrote extensively on Holy Spirit, we will see that the Holy Spirit is a BEING, a persona!
It was the Holy spirit who helped Mother Mary to conceive Jesus (hence she is called Virgin Mary), all miracles of Jesus were possible due to Holy spirit, and it was the Holy spirit who helped Jesus to resurrect.
In Hinduism, you will find pretty extensive array of literature on gods and goddesses...so much so that there are particular gods for for doing particular things! (not that they can't do other things)..For example, Ganesha's special abilities to remove obstacles!
In the recent times, Obama revealed that he carries around an assortment of objects including a Cross, Hanuman statue, etc,saying they gave him inspiration if he is ever feeling 'tired or discouraged'.
I lost my father in 2014 and that is when I really started digging into the spiritual aspects of Father's day!
The father may be present (if you are lucky) or absent..but we still carry our father within us, in our DNA, in our genes ..and this is a scientific fact...We inherit many things from our parents,grandparents... our body, many features and even behavioral characteristics, our strengths and weaknesses...it is just amazing how much we are connected with our forefathers!
In spirituality, it is lot more involved than just genes and DNA...it is said that even our mind and soul are deeply connected with our parents, grand parents etc.. Many cultures even have the practice of giving a grand father's name to a new-born child, as there is deeply held belief that these soul groups reincarnate in the same family, again and again.
In India, we have this practice called Tarpanam, an offering made to ancestors! This is a ritual which can often produce dramatic changes in one's life with a small investment in time. Serious life situations in finance, health and relationships have dramatically improved after performance of these rituals...
This is very different from sitting in meditation trying to grapple with the mind...While performing ancestor rituals, there is a natural connection, love and emotions involved, greatly helping the process. Ancestor rituals are typically a case of "mutual help" ...see notes below.
We will revisit the topic of ancestor rituals and how they can help our life situations at a later time. The only point I want to make now is that taking care of one's aging parents (including father) is of immense importance not only from an ethical standpoint....From a spiritual standpoint, once that person leaves the bondage of the body, that spirit gets the abilities to know and control some of our destinies as well.
Thank you for attending our session last Sunday.. Thanks to Kumarji for facilitating a very lively and entertaining discussion on a topic which is otherwise esoteric and hard to comprehend! Three of us further continued the conversation for another hour after the meet up, outside the building :)
Thanks also to the references made to other upanishadic texts as well.. Advaita (Non-duality or the path of knowledge) is considered as the most direct path to enlightenment is the essence of all Upanishads, as exemplified in the work called "I am That" by the great master, Nisarga Datta.
On another note, another wonderful person named Praveen has kindly contributed the following books to our spiritual library. We are much obliged to him.
We will shortly update our list of books to share at http://www.neospirituality.org/books-to-share.html
Our next meet up would be on Sunday, July 1st.
" When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." Lao Tzu, 533 BC
Most of us need success in both material and spiritual pursuits! We discussed previously, how our thoughts decide pretty much everything! ..and the most powerful thought is the name of God!
The names of God, regardless of which tradition one belongs to, are the most powerful thoughts. Repeating it over and over again is called repeating a mantra and probably is the easiest way to stay in touch God, throughout the day.
The Meaning of Yahweh!
One famous mantra in the Indian context is Na Ma Si Va Ya ... the letters of which are typically identified with each of the five elements of creation.
It is interesting to note that in the Jewish tradition, the last two letters "Yah Weh" , was the god of the Israelites, whose name was revealed to Moses as four Hebrew letters (YHWH)...also known as Jehowah! As Judaism became a universal rather than merely local religion, the more common noun, Elohim was begun to be used. Also, the divine name was regarded as too sacred to be uttered!
In our prior posts, we discussed two mantras below for specific puposes. You may check our blogs/youtube for more info on these sounds.
" You have to give up strategizing, and then surrender. That is the time that God can enter."