Some random musings: concept of God, world’s end, death, Buddhism, religious art, etc.
When someone concedes your humanity in a debate or argument, you can always retort thus:
“How kind of you to think me capable of human feelings.”
That zinger will likely be a surprise to your opponent(s). Here are a couple other quips (or barbs) for keeping in your verbal arsenal.
“Of what use is a lamp to a man who is blind?” (Applicable when you have laid the facts out and your opponent refuses to honor the facts.)
“Of what use are words of wisdom to the man who is unwise?” (Then, simply walk away. This is also known as a “parting shot“. Most applicable for when you have secured that better job elsewhere, and you want to give your imminently former employer a little dose of humility.)
Cannot recall who said the first quote, but we think the latter one is ours.
We go a little heavy in subject matter today because of an uncontrollable urge to do so. We are presently being victimized by this uncontrollable urge. (We cannot always do such fun essays as “Summer girls again”. Well, we thought it was fun.) As always, with all of our essays, reader discretion is advised. (No threat to your sanity is intended.)
Does man create his concept of God in his (man’s) own image? We throw this out to the blogosphere as many people the world over do foist upon or impute their personal views on to God. You see this at times when church men abuse their authority, and do not have solid reasoning nor facts nor Scriptural support upon which to base their positions on some issues. As well, people who have lived in a harsh environment all their lives and have known only bloody and violent experiences seem to have a concept or understanding of God as being very harsh and stern. We are thinking here of the desert wastelands of the Middle East and all the petty, warring kingdoms there over the past 5 millenia.
It can be rather distressing to think of God as being a stern, old man sitting on a cloud waiting anxiously to hurl a thunderbolt at us for any and all infractions. Taken to an extreme, this view can lead a person to despair. And, despair is a dangerous and potentially very destructive emotion. (We have firsthand experience with clinical depression and despair can lead to depression.) Do not take us wrong. We encourage, even urge, people to strive to live decent, moral, and charitable lives (loving lives).
In India, Krishna is always portrayed in art as jovial, and almost always as a young man in the prime of life (and health and strength and beauty). When not portrayed as a young man, He is portrayed as a playful child. A different people, having had different experiences, and with a different concept, or understanding, of God. (The Vedas, the Scriptures of India, are the world’s oldest scriptures.)
Let’s fairly quickly dispense with end of the world hysteria and nonsense. No, the world will not end on the winter solstice (northern hemisphere) in 2012 (as the Mayan calendar seems to indicate). Nor, will the world end on (St.) Valentine’s Day in 2025 (I just pulled that one out of the air). We hear of many diverse interpretations of the last book in the Bible, Revelation. We think it is better to look at it the way Billy Graham, televangelist, addressed it back in the 1980s on one of his televised “crusades”.
Mr. Graham said that when you die, that is the end of the world for you. Pretty basic, right? Yet, profound. He meant that we cannot know when the world will end. But, we all recognize that we all are under a life sentence in this world and will one day die. It may be 50 years from now, or it may be next month, but we will all, each of us, one day die. We can all agree on that. Therefore, do not get caught up in idle speculations or needless worries about the end of the world. But, rather, put effort into living a constructive life (not always easy to do!) and becoming a more loving, caring human being as you go through your life. Recognize that your mortality serves as a reminder for you to try to make the most out of each day and to question your life’s priorities.
As to death, what is it that dies? Here, once again, we irritate atheists and adherents of “scientism”, and we make no apology for doing so. The soul leaves the body and the body dies. The soul, or spiritual monad, takes with it the life force and the body naturally dies and breaks down. But, you say we cannot locate nor measure the “soul”. Not surprising for 2 reasons (perhaps, really one and the same reason.). 1. Your instruments, basically extensions of man’s physical senses, are very limited and are imperfect. These laboratory instruments have limitations. You theorize about (the existence of) quarks, leptons, mesons and bosons based largely on mathematical equations, and seeing hints or effects of their presence in these atomic research labs (such as CERN in Europe or at Stanford University (Stanford Linear Accelerator) in California, USA). We are giving you an effect of the soul – when it departs the body dies. 2. The spiritual monad can exist both in the material universe (this world) and on a spiritual plane of existence (that you choose to deny the possibility of). As such, it is hardly surprising that with its finer texture, being of a finer more rarified “substance” so to speak, you cannot capture it with your crude and very limited, gross material instruments.
We did not always believe this, but after 35 years of asking these type questions and looking for answers everywhere in this world, we now accept this position and it is the only one that makes any sense to us. We believe that consciousness continues after bodily death. The soul is not dependent upon the body, but rather the body depends on the continued presence of the soul.
Buddhism, to be blunt, we found to be a dead end. Notwithstanding our affection for Zen with its practical and common sense insights, its aesthetic appeal, and our appreciation of Zen inspired art, we are not Buddhists. We need personal devotion (bhakti) to a personal God. God is a person! He has a supremely transcendant personality. God is not some impersonal Absolute (an idea in the minds of many idealist philosophers East and West down through the centuries). Buddhism does not address the issue of God’s existence. However, we seem to recall that the Pure Land sect with its devotion to Amida Buddha approaches, if not actually has become, a religion of personal devotion to a godlike being.
For those struggling with achieving a belief in God, we did, in our earlier essay on chanting the holy names of God, encourage you to chant the Maha Mantra. The transcendental sound qualities (vibrations) of the holy names will reach deep down into your psyche and in time you will find that you can believe. This helped us more than 20 years ago when we similarly struggled with achieving a strong faith. Why not consider trying it, before letting your myopic skepticism prevent you from doing so? (The essay referred to is filed under the category Religion – eastern on the right sidebar of our blog.)
Also, you may be interested in this earlier essay:
We finish by sharing some beautiful examples of religious art. “Art could be man’s future, if there were no negative factors in the equation – but there are.” This quote is from The Outer Limits’ episode “Guests” (1963). Man’s timeless and perennial aspirations have been conveyed to us through his artistic works. (Please view all 10 images as there are some very beautiful ones at the end.)
Krishna is known as the reservoir of pleasure, and Radha, His consort, is His pleasure potency.
Krishna in the atom is courtesy of freehdwallpapergallery.blogspot.com. The Supreme Lord permeates and infuses the material creation with His energy. Yet He has a supremely transcendant personality.
Here is a painting of Krishna and Radha (we have misplaced the source for this one).
Lord Krishna is courtesy of santabanta.com.
Radha drawing water and Krishna is courtesy of god-wallpapers.info.
Shifting to scenes from The Bhagavad Gita (The Song of The Lord), here is Krishna revealing His true overwhelming expanded form to Arjuna. This image is courtesy of network54.com.
This beautiful painting (below) is of Krishna with Arjuna and is courtesy of naturalplane.blogspot.com.
This image is from srajahiyer.sulekha.com. It appears to be a reversed image to the one above.
The next 3 images are courtesy of indian-god-photos.blogspot.com.
Krishna and Radha again. A very beautiful painting.
One more image of (for some) the Creator of the universe.