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Your religious persuasion (or there lack of)
1) Christianity (all forms, Catholicism, Christian Protestants, Christian Orthodox)
50%
 50%  [ 35 ]
2) Atheism
20%
 20%  [ 14 ]
3) Agnostic (Don't Know)
14%
 14%  [ 10 ]
4) Theist with no organized religion
8%
 8%  [ 6 ]
5) Other
5%
 5%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 69

Author Message
don muntean





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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

don muntean wrote:


Photo of the statue - without lighting effects:



First photo:



Just redid this photograph - as the other is too blue - the lighting for this one is much more like it is in person, Hey Vishnu!





Still better photo shows the accent lighting near perfectly! So clear a macro picture that the powder dust glitter looks like big specks/spots! I have had to be inventive with the lighting! LOL! I have a blue spot, a black fluorescent and a multicolor LED set up! I thought the blue spot would be enough but it wasn't - the LED lighting is what makes the difference!



Last edited by don muntean on Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:37 am; edited 1 time in total
don muntean





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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Jesus has always been a part of my heart and soul...



"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." [1 John 2.22]

"Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What 'is' his name, and what 'is' his son's name, if thou knowest?" [Proverbs 30.4]

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself. In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." [Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8]

"Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be. Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated." [Bhagavad Gita 9.11-12]

"Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme." [Bhagavad Gita 7.24]

''Thus the Lord of the universes maintains all planets inhabited by demigods, men and lower animals. Assuming the roles of incarnations, He performs pastimes to reclaim those in the mode of pure goodness." [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.34]

"So all the incarnations of the Lord are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is no scope for an imposter to become an incarnation, for an incarnation must be mentioned in the scriptures. An incarnation does not declare Himself to be an incarnation of the Lord, but great sages agree by the symptoms mentioned in the revealed scriptures. The features of the incarnation and the particular type of mission which He has to execute are mentioned in the revealed scriptures." [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.5, purport]

God is so perfect!

...when Moses encountered God he asked, 'what is Your Name' - God replied: "I-shall-be that I-shall-be." - or in other-words 'I am whomever I want to be'!

‎[note: I made this picture from others]


Last edited by don muntean on Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:41 am; edited 2 times in total
don muntean





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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a 'thought provoking' picture I put together...



He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, both in their happiness and distress, O Arjuna! [Bhagavad Gita 6.32]

When we feel that God has left our sides - it isn't true - sometimes one might look at those who are in a very fallen state as 'forsaken' by God - but in fact - no living being is ever forsaken by God...

"Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul." [Bhagavad Gita 13.23]

[Commentary]

It is stated here that the Supersoul, who is always with the individual soul, is the representation of the Supreme Lord. He is not an ordinary living entity. Because the monist philosophers take the knower of the body to be one, they think that there is no difference between the Supersoul and the individual soul.

To clarify this, the Lord says that He is the representation of Paramatma in every body. He is different from the individual soul; He is parah, transcendental.

The individual soul enjoys the activities of a particular field, but the Supersoul is present not as finite enjoyer nor as one taking part in bodily activities, but as the witness, overseer, permitter and supreme enjoyer.

His name is Paramatma, not atma, and He is transcendental.

It is distinctly clear that the atma and Paramatma are different.

The Supersoul, the Paramatma, has legs and hands everywhere, but the individual soul does not. And because He is the Supreme Lord, He is present within to sanction the individual soul's desiring material enjoyment.

Without the sanction of the Supreme Soul, the individual soul cannot do anything. The individual is bhakta or the sustained, and He is bhukta or the maintainer. There are innumerable living entities, and He is staying in them as a friend.

The fact is that individual living entities are eternally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and both of them are very intimately related as friends.

But the living entity has the tendency to reject the sanction of the Supreme Lord and act independantly in an attempt to dominate the supreme nature, and because he has this tendency, he is called the marginal energy of the Supreme Lord.

The living entity can be situated either in the material energy or the spiritual energy.

As long as he is conditioned by the material energy, the Supreme Lord, as his friend, the Supersoul, stays with him just to get him to return to the spiritual energy.

The Lord is always eager to take him back to the spiritual energy, but due to his minute independence, the individual entity is continually rejecting the association of spiritual light.

This misuse of independence is the cause of his material strife in the conditioned nature. [...]
don muntean





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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

don muntean wrote:
don muntean wrote:


Photo of the statue - without lighting effects:



First photo:



Just redid this photograph - as the other is too blue - the lighting for this one is much more like it is in person, Hey Vishnu!





Still better photo shows the accent lighting near perfectly! So clear a macro picture that the powder dust glitter looks like big specks/spots! I have had to be inventive with the lighting! LOL! I have a blue spot, a black fluorescent and a multicolor LED set up! I thought the blue spot would be enough but it wasn't - the LED lighting is what makes the difference!



One last attempt at the 'as it is' perfect photo:



Huge sized:

http://img24.imageshack.us/img.....shnu02.jpg

‎"A serpent, by nature, is envious of other living entities, even though they be faultless. When a serpent bites another creature, it is not necessarily because the other creature is at fault; it is the habit of the serpent to bite innocent... creatures." [SB 4.3.17, purport]

Serpents are reviled in all cultures as a symbol of envy and evil.

One should note that the serpents behind Vishnu are not 'serpents' - it's one divine 'serpent' and His name is Vasuki - it is the cosmic energy.

People often misunderstand that...
don muntean





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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

don muntean wrote:
One more picture to share, this statue is seen in the other picture in behind the Gaura Nitai, this is an important Avatar of God - Narasimha:



This brief description of the ancient story of Lord Narasimha as described in the Bhagavata Purana:

There was once a great demon who was overwhelmed with rage: his brother Hiranyaksa had just been killed by the incarnation of Vishnu known as Lord Varaha. Thus he became very determined to become the emperor of the entire universe. In order to increase his power, he performed very powerful austerities. This penance was so severe that it disturbed the demigods. In fact, the demigods requested Lord Brahma to stop him. The chief of the demigods, Lord Brahma, therefore descended to pacify him by granting him a wish.

"Please grant that I not be killed by any created living being," commanded Hiranyakasipu, "that I not die inside or outside any residence, during the daytime or night, nor on the ground or in the sky; that I not be killed by any being created by you, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal indeed that I not meet death from any entity, either living or non-living; that I have no competitor; that I have sole lordship over all living entities and presiding deities, and that I acquire all mystic powers."

After Brahma had granted him all these requests, Hiranyakasipu very swiftly conquered all the planets in the universe, took up residence in the lavish palace of King Indra, and forced the demigods to bow down to his feet. He even stole the sacrificial oblations meant for the demigods. Intoxicated physically by wine and mentally by power, Hiranyakasipu ruled the universe very severely.

During this time his queen, Kayadhu, returned to the palace of her husband and bore him a son, Prahlada. He was a reservoir of all transcendental qualities because he was a pure devotee of Lord Visnu. Determined to understand the Absolute Truth, he had full control over his senses and mind. He was kind to all living creatures and the best friend of everyone. Toward respectable persons he behaved just like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, and to his equals he was always like a sympathetic brother. Always very humble, he considered his teachers and spiritual masters to be as good as the Lord Himself. Indeed, he was completely free of any pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, and aristocratic birth.

Hiranyakasipu wanted to raise his son to be a powerful demon, but Prahlada only wanted to learn about devotional service to Lord Visnu. After Prahlada attended school for some time, Hiranyakasipu took him on his lap and affectionately inquired, "My dear son, please tell me about your favorite subject in school."

Fearlessly, Prahlada said, "Hearing (sravanam) and chanting (kirtanam) about the holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord; remembering (smaranam) them; serving the lotus feet of the Lord (pada-sevanam); offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia (arcanam); offering prayers to the Lord (vandanam); becoming His servant (dasyam); considering the Lord one’s best friend (sakhyam); and surrendering to Him (atma-nivedanam, in other words, serving Him with body, mind and words); these nine processes are known as pure devotional service, and I consider anyone who has dedicated his life to service of Lord Visnu through these nine methods to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge."

Blinded by anger, Hiranyakasipu threw Prahlada from his lap onto the ground. "Servants! Take him away and kill him at once!" he screamed. However, Prahlada just sat silently and meditated on the Personality of Godhead, and the demons’ weapons had no effect on him. Seeing this Hiranyakasipu became fearful and contrived various ways to kill his son. His servants threw Prahlada beneath an elephant’s feet; they cast him into the midst of huge, fearful snakes; they cursed him with destructive spells; they hurled him from a hilltop; they gave him poison; they starved him; they exposed him to severe cold, winds, fire and water; they threw heavy stones to crush him. Hiranyakasipu even sent his sister Holika to burn him, but instead she herself was burned. But throughout these trials Prahlada was simply absorbed in thoughts of Lord Visnu, and thus he remained unharmed. Hiranyakasipu became very anxious about what to do next.

"You say there is a being superior to me," said Hiranyakasipu, "but where is He? If He is present everywhere, then why is He not present in this pillar you see before you? Do you think He is in this pillar?" "Yes," Prahlada answered, "He is there."

Hiranyakasipu's rage flared more and more. "Because you are speaking so much nonsense, I shall now sever your head from your body. Now let me see your most worshipable God come to protect you. I want to see it." Cursing him again and again, Hiranyakasipu took up his sword, got up from his royal throne, and with great anger struck his fist against the column.

Then from within the very pillar that he had singled out came a wonderful half-man, half-lion form never before seen. The Lord’s form was extremely fearsome because of His angry eyes, which resembled molten gold; His shining mane, which expanded the dimensions of His fearful face; His deadly teeth; and His razor-sharp tongue. Lord Nrsimha then proceeded to battle with the wasp-like Hiranyakasipu.

Finally at twilight, Lord Nrsimha captured Hiranyakasipu and placed him in His lap on the doorway of the assembly hall. As He began ripping the demon to pieces with His many, many hands, Lord Nrsimha’s mouth and mane became sprinkled with drops of blood, and His fierce eyes, full of anger, were impossible to look at....Lord Nrsimha uprooted Hiranyakasipu’s heart and finally threw him aside and destroyed an army of Hiranyakasipu’s faithful followers.

By His transcendental cleverness, Lord Nrsimhadeva was able to kill Hiranyakasipu without contradicting any of Lord Brahma’s benedictions. The execution took place neither inside nor outside, but in the doorway; neither on land nor in sky, but on the Lord’s lap; neither during the day nor during the night, but at twilight; neither by man, beast, or demigod nor by any created being, but by the Personality of Godhead; and not by any weapon, but by the Lord's own lotus hand, relieving the whole universe of Hiranyakasipu’s demonic activities.

The Bhagavata Purana further narrates: even after killing Hiranyakashipu, none of the present demigods are able to calm Narasimha's fury, not even Shiva. So all the gods and goddesses call his consort, Lakshmi, but she is also unable to do so. Then, at the request of Brahma, Prahlada is presented to Narasimha, and finally he is calmed by the prayers of his devotee. Before parting, Narasimha rewards the wise Prahlada by crowning him as the king.

Having been protected by the Lord, Prahlada Maharaja offered many prayers in a voice that faltered with love:

"My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, please, therefore, allow Your angry feature to diminish, now that my evil father Hiranyakasipu has been killed . . . [The saintly persons] will always remember Your auspicious and fearsome incarnation, for it frees them from fear. In this way, my Lord, You appear in various incarnations as a human being, an animal, a great saint, a demigod, a fish or a tortoise, thus maintaining the entire creation in different planetary systems and killing the demoniac principles."

A note about this incarnation of God - we ought not think that this narration is glorifying violence [like some sick Hollywood movie] - in fact it is the opposite! Of course, one must understand the 'extreme' Hitler-like nature of Hiranyakashipu - the offending individual, who thus found his demise and then we can see the noted display of 'anger' in God within context.

While God can manifest [indulge] His anger - we cannot, yes some of God's incarnations are very merciful and - some are not.


Here is a really awesome painting of God's Nrsimhadeva incarnation - this is very close to the descriptions found in Srimad Bhagavatam:

don muntean





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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vedic Thoughts....

My dear beautiful wife, you have said that one may go to a friend's house without being invited, and this is true, provided such a friend does not find fault with the guest because of bodily identification and thereby become angry towards him.

Although the six qualities education, austerity, wealth, beauty, youth and heritage are for the highly elevated, one who is proud of possessing them becomes blind, and thus he loses his good sense...

One should not go to anyone's house, even on the consideration of his being a relative or a friend, when the man is disturbed in his mind and looks upon the guest with raised eyebrows and angry eyes.

If one is hurt by the arrows of an enemy, one is not as aggrieved as when cut by the unkind words of a relative, for such grief continues to rend one's heart day and night. [Srimad Bhagavatam 4.3.16-19]

Failing to conquer this irrepressible enemy, the mind, whose urges are intolerable and who torments the heart, many people are completely bewildered and create useless quarrel with others. Thus they conclude that other people are either their friends, their enemies or parties indifferent to them. [SB 11.23.48]

No other force besides his own mental confusion makes the soul experience happiness and distress. His perception of friends, neutral parties and enemies and the whole material life he builds around this perception are simply created out of ignorance. [SB 11.23.59]

--------

In this material world there are as many living entities as atoms. Among these living entities, a very few are human beings, and among them, few are interested in following religious principles. [SB 6.14.3]

O King, as small particles of sand sometimes come together and are sometimes separated due to the force of the waves, the living entities who have accepted material bodies sometimes come together and are sometimes separated by the force of time. [SB 6.15.3]

Many planks and sticks, unable to stay together, are carried away by the force of a river's waves. Similarly, although we are intimately related with friends and family members, we are unable to stay together because of our varied past deeds and the waves of time. [SB 10.5.25]

The spirit soul, the living entity, has no death, for he is eternal and inexhaustible. Being free from material contamination, he can go anywhere in the material or spiritual worlds. He is fully aware and completely different from the material body, but because of being misled by misuse of his slight independence, he is obliged to accept subtle and gross bodies created by the material energy and thus be subjected to so-called material happiness and distress. Therefore, no one should lament for the passing of the spirit soul from the body. [SB 7.2.22]
don muntean





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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

don muntean wrote:
As part of any faith pursuit, everyone needs a 'space' where they can focus their spiritual practices - here is my 'restored' space, it's pretty much complete and I do like it!

A good space for devotional meditations & Bhakti-Yoga...just in time to celebrate 'Diwali' 'The Festival of Lights' on October 26th!









As cheesy as it looks I sure hope no one looks down on my faith and this expression of it... I should note that the camera flash totally ruins the colored lighting effects i have going on. My camera doesn't have an ISO low enough to capture a clear picture in that low of light.


So I tried and tried for a better picture and here is one that's much closer to what it's like in person:



Full size:

http://img11.imageshack.us/img.....ge1bem.jpg







Better?
don muntean





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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is a great 37 year old article:

The World We Live In

In the Thirteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna, the perfect student, requested Krishna, the perfect teacher, to present a detailed analysis of the phenomenal world. Such a study of material nature, for the purpose of distinguishing matter from spirit, is known as Sankhya philosophy.

The Lord replied to Arjuna's request by briefly explaining the twenty-four material elements (illustrated on the following pages) that comprise the material world. These elements are Krishna's external, or inferior, energy, but they exist eternally in some form or another.

We find ourselves now in a temporary combination of these material elements called the material world, which, by the arrangement of the Lord, is complete in itself because these elements provide the complete resources for its existence and maintenance.

Therefore by studying these elements, one can understand himself, his body, the world in which he lives and the relationship between the three.

Gradually one can learn to distinguish oneself, as superior, spiritual energy, from the inferior, material energy and, one can scientifically realize that the original source of both these energies is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna. When our consciousness returns to its original purity, we can understand all these very clearly.

Our vision now, however, is clouded by false ego, which is the basic principle of material existence. False ego means the acceptance of the body to be oneself. Thus our bodily designations, such as American, Russian, black, white, Christian, Hindu, man, woman, fat, thin, stupid and intelligent, are manifestations of false ego.

Our real ego is spiritual, for we are tiny spiritual parts of the supreme living entity, Krishna.

Since we are actually spiritual souls, our only connection with our material bodies and minds is that we dwell within them for fifty or a hundred years. Bhagavad-gita therefore compares the gross or visible body to a coat, and it compares the subtle body—consisting of mind and intelligence—to a shirt.

The person within, however, is different from the bodily shirt and coat. His misidentification with this body is called false ego. And in the illusion created by false ego, one thinks that by material arrangements and plans he will become happy.

We can understand to some extent that the body we have is a symptom of our desires and activities. That is why we can tell so much about a person simply by looking at him. As it is said, the face is the index of the mind.

We have forgotten, however, that before we had this body we had another body, and we do not know that when this present body is finished we will be forced to accept another. In other words, our present body and activities reflect our previous body and activities and give the background for the next.

The man who likes to eat without discrimination may attain the body of a hog, for hogs eat anything and everything.

One who has fixed his consciousness on godly qualities will change to the form of a demigod. And one who is Krishna-conscious will be transferred to Krishna's abode in the spiritual world to associate with the Supreme Lord.

Thus, at the time of death the consciousness we have created will carry us to our next body.

We may ask, who knows my consciousness at the time of death? Who is to say what future body I deserve?

Krishna knows. An expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead lives in the heart with the spiritual soul, just as one friend sits with another. One friend, the soul, is trying to enjoy life by gratifying his senses.

The other friend, however, the Supersoul, is simply watching, for He is the transcendental witness, overseer, permitter and supreme enjoyer. He is the constant companion and the most dear friend of every conditioned soul because it is He only who fulfills our desires, both in this life and in the next.

As we may smell the aroma of a rose by being near it, so Krishna, as the Supersoul in the heart, knows exactly what we want, and in due course (even though it may not be the best for us and even though He may not want to give it to us), He rewards us with a body just suited to our desires.

This science of the transmigration of the soul is yet unknown to material scientists, although Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has presented it authoritatively and practically in Bhagavad-gita and although great teachers and saintly persons have accepted it throughout the ages.

Krishna says, “The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Bg. 15.8) Air, being subtle, cannot be contaminated, but it may carry fair or foul odors.

Similarly, the spiritual soul is completely, pure; it is eternal, full of bliss and knowledge, and it cannot be materially contaminated. It does, however, carry our material desires, which force us to accept one body after another in this material world to fulfill those desires.

Lord Krishna continues, "The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects." (Bg. 15.9)

The five knowledge-acquiring senses (the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch) and the five working senses (the voice, legs, hands, evacuating organs and reproductive organs) seek and interact with the five objects of the senses (form, sound, smell, taste and touch), under the direction of the mind.

This interaction produces desire, hatred, pleasure or pain, depending on how each set of senses responds to its objects. Thus we can understand why one man's food is another's poison; why we are repelled by stool, for example, which for the hog is a sought-after meal.

The example of Arjuna shows how bodily relationships (which are also material interactions) cause material perplexity.

Because of bodily and mental relationships, Arjuna was averse to fighting his kinsmen in the Battle of Kurukeshetra. Krishna therefore spoke Bhagavad-gita to teach Arjuna (and ourselves as well) the highest criterion of happiness, transcendental to the relative and flickering actions and reactions of the twenty-four material elements.

The Lord said, "The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." (Bg. 15.7)

Although the soul is always pure, it comes under the control of nature when trapped within a material body because the body, being composed of the twenty-four material elements, acts according to the laws of nature, which govern those elements. The embodied living entity has no power to change those laws.

Suppose he is put into the body of a dog. He must then act like a dog; he must bark with his vocal cords, he must eat food suitable for a dog, he must raise his leg in a certain way, and so on. In the same way, human beings, under the dictation of the mind, are also forced by the laws of nature to accept or reject different sense objects.

The difference between animals and humans is that we have higher intelligence, enabling us to understand who we are—that we are actually not material but spiritual entities and that as spiritual souls we can be liberated from our embarrassing position in this material world when we wholeheartedly accept and follow the process given to us by bona fide spiritual authorities. That is the sum and substance of the Krishna consciousness philosophy.

Krishna Himself says, “This divine energy of Mine [the material energy] is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg. 7.14)

Krishna, the Supreme Lord, can be compared to a king, for as a king, being the lawmaker, is beyond all the laws in his kingdom and even has the power to pardon prisoners, so Krishna, the cause of all causes, is beyond the control of nature, and His devotee, who by His grace has understood His glories, is freed from material control.

Such a devotee feels full in himself and is callous to material happiness or distress. He is liberated from the urges of the mind and senses.

A person in such transcendental consciousness still has desires, he still accepts and rejects, but he accepts anything favorable and rejects anything unfavorable for the execution of devotional service. He has no interest separate from that of the Lord.

To become free from the influence of material energy, we have to change our consciousness. How?

Krishna says: "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me and become My devotee. Offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." (Bg. 9.34)

Thus we can liberate ourselves from repeated births and deaths by learning how to control our minds so that we become absorbed in Krishna consciousness. The mind is always engaged in some kind of thought, but one's thoughts will be restricted to the actions and reactions of the twenty-four material elements unless and until one engages in spiritual hearing and spiritual chanting, following the example of a bona fide teacher.

Factually the whole material creation consists only of different names for the material elements and has no more significance than the babble of sea waves.

The only links we have with the real, spiritual world are God's representatives who throughout the ages have passed down His confidential, transcendental knowledge, without whimsically changing it. When our thoughts connect with this spiritual line, they will transcend material qualities, and we will then be able to overcome the laws of nature. Otherwise not.

In trying to satisfy their illusory desires, which spring from the interactions of the elements, materialists remain bound by the stringent laws of material nature as if by iron chains. They do not know that the material sciences in which they take shelter deal only with the gross elements and the objects of the senses, and nothing more.

Philosophers and psychologists who study mental activities also have only fragmental knowledge because they do not know the ultimate source, Krishna. "The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature," the Lord says in the Gita. "But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this." (Bg. 15.10)

Srila Prabhupada comments on this verse: "Every living entity is quitting his body under certain circumstances and enjoying under certain circumstances under the spell of material nature.

As a result, he is suffering different kinds of happiness and distress, under the illusion of sense enjoyment. Persons who are everlastingly fooled by lust and desire lose all power of understanding their change of body and their stay in a particular body. They cannot comprehend it.

Those who have developed spiritual knowledge, however, can see that the spirit is different from the body and is changing its body and enjoying in different ways. A person in knowledge can understand how the conditioned living entity is suffering in this material existence.

Therefore those who are highly developed in Krishna consciousness try their best to give this knowledge to the people in general, for their conditional life is very much troublesome. They should come out of it and be Krishna conscious and liberate themselves to transfer to the spiritual world." [originally published in BTG magazine in 1975]
hatrock





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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was baptised Ukrainian Greek Orthodox but my parents never went or took me to church.

While being babysat by various family friends, I ended up having to go to various church sermons--Catholic, Presbyterian, United, and others. I had no idea what was going on.

My father taught me lessons while doing household carpentry using the tools of the trade as symbols of morality and ethics... the square--be honest with people, the level--we are all equal, the plumb bob--maintain good posture, the measuring tape--always measure twice and use the brain before the muscle.

Although we performed nativity scenes in elementary school, I didn't really learn about the whole story of Jesus the Christ until university from my girlfriend at the time who was Presbyterian and said it's a pretty relaxed-fun religion with a focus on music, which we both loved sharing.

Years later, I then began studying various religions and religious history on my own.

Then it wasn't until about 2007 when I was working in Kansas that a new friend subtly introduced me to Buddhism, where I read books and learned more about it. And the more I learned about it, the more I really liked it and how much it fit with my views and beliefs.

I wouldn't say I'm a Buddhist by any means, but learning and trying to practise it has certainly helped with my happiness, dealing with my ego, and interacting with friends and new people.
don muntean





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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hatrock wrote:
I was baptised Ukrainian Greek Orthodox but my parents never went or took me to church.

While being babysat by various family friends, I ended up having to go to various church sermons--Catholic, Presbyterian, United, and others. I had no idea what was going on.

My father taught me lessons while doing household carpentry using the tools of the trade as symbols of morality and ethics... the square--be honest with people, the level--we are all equal, the plumb bob--maintain good posture, the measuring tape--always measure twice and use the brain before the muscle.

Although we performed nativity scenes in elementary school, I didn't really learn about the whole story of Jesus the Christ until university from my girlfriend at the time who was Presbyterian and said it's a pretty relaxed-fun religion with a focus on music, which we both loved sharing.

Years later, I then began studying various religions and religious history on my own.

Then it wasn't until about 2007 when I was working in Kansas that a new friend subtly introduced me to Buddhism, where I read books and learned more about it. And the more I learned about it, the more I really liked it and how much it fit with my views and beliefs.

I wouldn't say I'm a Buddhist by any means, but learning and trying to practise it has certainly helped with my happiness, dealing with my ego, and interacting with friends and new people.


Sometimes it's the search itself that brings the subtle yet great feelings that we call insight!

Have you looked deeply at their ideas? What is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist's spiritual practices? What is the Buddhist position on God and the Soul?

The essentially 'nihilist' goal of the Buddhist teachings is interesting - in that they do not believe in God nor in an individual Soul - they are voidist in the strictest sense of the word.

It is interesting to note that according to the Vedas - Buddha IS an incarnation of Lord Vishnu - God! Why He appeared in this Form and preached an atheistic voidist path is very interesting indeed!!

Q:

dealing with my ego

R:

What do you mean by "ego"? What is our ego anyway?

According to the Vedas 'ego' is wrapped up in identity and sense of identity.

In the western sense ego is taken to mean something akin to 'self-centered' arrogance - i.e.: egotistical.

In the Vedas we learn that we have two ego's - a real ego and - a false ego.

False ego is comprised of an illusory sense that this material body we're embodied within is 'us' - that we we are this body and - it's material designations [man women black white Canadian American this that this that etc.,] are our factual identity.

Thus 'false ego' - is an illusory identification with the body - the 'covering' of our real ego - or our true identity, i.e.: eternal individual spirit souls.

The Vedas have a great deal to say about this subject! You can read more here if you're so inclined:

http://prabhupadabooks.com

On the left at that site you will find the navigation tree - just click into each category and you see all the materials available. Books, lectures, conversations and letters.

These awesome books are translations of the ancient spiritual classics - from Bhagavad Gita to Srimad Bhagavatam etc., there are lots of other smaller books there too based on these classics as well. Srila Prabhupada gave over 1900 lectures between 1965-1977 - these are found there along with the replies to thousands of letters - where Srila Prabupada was giving even more insights. There is a search feature too!

Q:

My father taught me lessons while doing household carpentry using the tools of the trade as symbols of morality and ethics... the square--be honest with people, the level--we are all equal, the plumb bob--maintain good posture, the measuring tape--always measure twice and use the brain before the muscle.

R:

Very nice! I really like that.
don muntean





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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Labels and other Fake Designations

If we ask any man, any common man on the street, what he is, he will reply, "I am this body."

He may give some further explanation by saying that he is Christian, or Hindu, or Jewish, or that he is Mr. So-and-So, or whatever, but all these are simply designations he attaches to the body.

In other words, they all arise from the body. When a person says that he is an American, he is referring to the body because by some accident or reason he is born into the land of America and so takes the title of an American, but that is also artificial because the land is neither American nor French, nor Chinese, nor Russian, nor anything-land is land.

We have simply artificially created some boundaries and said, "This is America, this is Canada, this is Mexico, Europe, Asia, India."

These are our concoctions, for we do not find that these lands were originally divided in this way. Three or four hundred years ago this land was not even known as America, nor was it even inhabited by white men from Europe.

Even a thousand years ago Europe was inhabited by different peoples and called different names. These are all designations that are constantly changing.

In actuality the land is neither, India, Europe, Asia or whatever-we simply give it these designations in accordance with time and influence.

Just as we give the land designations, we also give our bodies designations, but no one can say what his designations were before birth. Who can say that he was American, Chinese, European or whatever?

We are thinking that after leaving this body we will continue as American or Indian or Russian. But although we may live in America during this life, we may be in China in the next, for we are constantly changing our bodies. Who can say that he is not changing bodies?

When we are born from the womb of our mother, our body is very small.

Now, where is that body? Where is the body we had as a boy?

We may have photographs that remind us what the body was like in past years, but we cannot say where that body has gone.

The body may change, yet we have the feeling that we do not change. "I am the same man," we think, "and in my childhood I looked like this or like that."

Where have those years gone? They have vanished along with the body and everything that came in contact with it. But although everything is changing at every moment, we are still sticking to our bodily identification so that when we are asked what we are, we give an answer that is somehow or other related to this body. Is this not crazy?

Nonetheless, even when we have resolved to take to the path of self-realization, maya or illusion persists.

By self-realization a person may come to realize that he is not the body but a spiritual soul. What then is his position? Void? Impersonal?

People think that after the demise of this body there is nothing but nirvana or void.

The impersonalists similarly say that as soon as the body is finished, one's personal identity is finished also.

In actuality, however, the body can never be identified with the living entity any more than a car can be identified with its driver. A person may direct a car wherever he wishes, but when he gets out of the car he does not think that his personality is gone. [Srila Prabhupada]
don muntean





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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are we pawns in the hands of fate, architects of our own fortune, or both?

James Oliver Huberty was a pent-up, out-of-work gun nut with a grudge against the world. Finally he snapped. One day last July, Huberty armed himself and went "hunting humans." Storming into a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California, he opened fire.

By the time a police marksman dropped him seventy-five minutes later, he had killed twenty-one people and wounded eighteen others. News of Huberty's rampage shocked the nation. It was the worst one-day, one-man massacre in U.S. history. For days afterward, across America, the golden arches—symbol of the McDonald's restaurants—stood as a grim reminder of the tragedy in San Ysidro.

The morning after the massacre, three passengers seated near me on a train into Philadelphia were discussing the incident. One of them defended Huberty, saying he had been a victim of circumstances beyond his control, "a pawn in the hands of fate." It had been his destiny to kill. The other two disagreed. Huberty, they said, had had the freedom to do otherwise. He didn't have to commit murder. Both sides were giving reasons to support their views.

Before I could decide whether to break into their conversation, however, all three got off the train, leaving me to ponder over this problem and to reflect on the Krishna conscious solution.

The philosophical question of fate versus free will is an old one.

Are our thoughts and actions completely determined by forces over which we have no control? Or, are we free to decide for ourselves, to be the captains of our fate?

Most of us are inclined to think we are free. The idea that our subjective sense of choice might be illusory, we find hard to accept.

It goes against the grain of our instinctive consciousness, against our sense of human dignity, and against our sense of morality. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence in favor of determinism, and the question of fate versus free will remains a controversial issue.

Many theories, along with their various supporting arguments, exist in favor of both free will and determinism.

Consider determinism. For hundreds of years, the main argument in favor of this view was religious. God, being all-powerful and all-knowing, was considered to have predetermined all that would happen in the future. He knew every choice we would ever make.

Everything, therefore, must be predetermined by His prior knowledge and prior decisions.

Another argument for determinism, called the metaphysical argument, is based on the maxim "Every event must have a cause." The idea here is that inasmuch as the belief is widely held that all physical events must have a cause, there is no justifiable reason why the same should not apply to mental events.

Acceptance of physical determinism and rejection of mental determinism would be arbitrary. For one who accepts this maxim, it stands to reason that determinism is irrefutable.

In the modern day, however, the strongest argument in favor of determinism comes from science.

Discoveries in the fields of psychology, physiology, neurology, and pharmacology indicate that the determinist's dream of being able to predict all facets of human behavior may soon come true. Behavioral scientists anticipate a time when an examination of the biological and psychological characteristics of an infant will enable them to write his life's story before he lives it.

In short, the evidence available today regarding human motivation and how human attitudes are affected makes a strong case for determinism.

Still others argue in favor of free will. William James, in his essay "The Dilemma of Determinism," points out that we undeniably have attitudes and experiences that make sense only if we are free agents. For example, our feelings of regret or remorse make no sense if our lives are strictly determined.

Determinism puts us in a "curious logical predicament," James writes, wherein murder and other heinous acts are no longer sinful or immoral and regret for things we have done becomes an absurdity and an error. For what is the use of regret or remorse if abominable acts absolutely cannot be avoided?

Apart from feelings of remorse and regret being meaningless, legal and ethical judgments also become meaningless, James points out. As Huberty's protagonist on the train was arguing, we cannot attribute responsibility to criminals for their crimes if they have no choice. If we are merely pawns in the hands of fate, how can we be punishable for doing what we couldn't possibly have avoided?

If we say, "Well, punishment is also predetermined," then punishment loses all moral significance, If we then claim that punishment is useful because it can alter the factors that determine a criminal's behavior, then we must assume the judges are free agents in their decision to punish. This simply proves that for morality to be meaningful, someone must be assumed free.

Finally, an argument that is sometimes made in favor of free will is that if determinism is true, those who believe in free will are determined to be that way. In that case, what is the use of discussing fate and free will?

Discussion implies freedom to decide the matter one way or the other. The very fact that determinists bother to argue the question shows their implicit acceptance that some free will exists. Or they must agree that they have been engaged by fate to waste their time arguing, another "curious logical predicament."

The Krisha consciousness philosophy, I'm happy to say, can reconcile the two poles of the fate-and-free-will controversy. This may startle some of our readers.

Generally, those who have only a cursory knowledge of the Krishna conscious philosophical system assume it is deterministic, because it embraces the idea of karma. According to the popular conception of the law of karma, all human actions are the result of some previous action. This is clearly a deterministic concept.

Naturally, therefore, some of our readers may wonder where free will fits into the Krishna conscious scheme.

We get our understanding of the reconciliation between fate and free will from the Bhagavad-gita.

The first relevant bit of information given in the Gita is that we are not our material bodies; we are eternal spirit souls who occupy material bodies. Once this is at least theoretically accepted, we can go on to understand the extent to which we are determined and the extent to which we have free will.

As spiritual beings, we are all part and parcel of the original and supreme spiritual person, God. That means we are qualitatively of the same nature as God. Just as a tiny gold nugget contains, in minute degree, all the chemical properties of the huge gold mine, so we, the individual spiritual entities, have all the spiritual qualities of God in minute quantity. Qualitatively we are one with God, but quantitatively we are not. God is infinite, and we are infinitesimal. We can never be equal to Him.

The Bhagavad-gita informs us that God's identity is Krishna. He is the possessor of all opulences—wealth, beauty, knowledge, strength, fame, and renunciation—without limit. We, being part and parcel of Him, have these same opulences, but to a far lesser degree. God is the supreme creator, and we too have some creative ability.

God is the supreme independent person, and we too have minute independence, or free will. Because of our finite nature, however, our natural condition is to be dependent on God. In other words, although we have free will, still, because of our minuteness, our highest beatitude is to be sheltered and controlled by God.

Our minute free will is manifest, however, in the form of our prerogative to choose between staying under Krishna's control in the spiritual world, His abode, or coming to the material world and trying to enjoy apart from Krishna.

Krishna creates the material world to facilitate those souls who choose to leave the spiritual world.

Since the material sense objects and our spiritual senses do not interact, material nature awards us material bodies equipped with material senses so we can try to lord it over nature and enjoy. At the same time, nature conditions us to forget our original identity and characteristics.

This condition is called maya, illusion. Because of this illusion, we try our utmost to squeeze out pleasure and happiness from this material world.

Actually, we cannot control the material energy of God. Our material bodies are mechanisms produced by nature and are completely subject to the laws governing matter. All we are free to do is desire according to our conceptions of material enjoyment. And the material nature, acting as God's agent, fulfills our desires.

Bewildered by our misidentification with the body as our true self, we foolishly think ourselves the doers of activities in this world. In actuality these activities are carried out by the material nature as conducted by its three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance.

Goodness, passion, and ignorance are the three phases in which material nature operates.

A person in the mode of goodness is wiser than persons in the other modes. He has greater knowledge and is less affected by the material miseries. He likes clean surroundings and has few vices. The representative type of this mode is the poet or philosopher.

The mode of passion is symptomized by attraction between male and female. This attraction leads to intense longings for sense gratification and motivates one to seek honor in society, acquire many possessions, and become entangled in family affairs. A person in the mode of passion must struggle and work very hard to please his spouse and maintain his prestige. In the modern day, the mode of passion is considered the standard of happiness. Everyone feverishly tries to enjoy his senses at virtually any cost, the net result being greater and greater illusion.

Gradually the illusion becomes so deep that the mode of passion is transformed into the mode of ignorance.

The mode of ignorance is the opposite of the mode of goodness. A person in this mode is degraded to the lowest status of human life, and even lower, into the animal species. His intelligence becomes so covered that he loses all interest in cultivating knowledge. He is unclean, lazy, and dull. He is not interested in spiritual understanding; rather, he is addicted to intoxication and too much sleep. Such unfortunate persons populate the skid rows of the world. They are virtually unable to do anything to benefit themselves. Ultimately the mode of ignorance leads to madness.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna explains how every activity in this material world is associated with one of these three modes. For example, there is faith in the mode of goodness, in the mode of passion, and in the mode of ignorance. The same is true of food, knowledge, acts of charity, work, understanding, determination, and even happiness. At every moment our bodies are under the influence of these modes. When we sleep or take intoxicants, that's the mode of ignorance. When we indulge in sex, that's the mode of passion. And when we philosophize about life's meaning, that's the mode of goodness.

Whenever we choose a particular course of action in terms of our desire for material enjoyment, we are in fact agreeing, knowingly or unknowingly, to become influenced by the mode associated with that particular choice.

In other words, our free will in this material world is limited only to choices within the modes of nature. In our original condition we are transcendental to these modes, but upon coming to this material world, we lose our freedom to act outside of their influence.

Material nature, although allowing us only a limited choice, deludes us into thinking we are completely free. But our freedom is like that of a prisoner who has the privilege to choose between a first-, second-, or third-class prison cell. He has three choices, but in all cases he is still in prison. Like a prison, the three modes of nature restrict our original free will.

The instinctive sense of free will that we now feel is factual, but it is only partially realized.

Our destiny in this material world is determined by a combination of our partial free will and the three modes of material nature. According to our previous karma, we are destined to face certain situations in this life.

In those situations we have a certain amount of freedom to choose how we want to react.

Once we choose, we come under the control of the mode associated with our choice, and we are obliged to accept the consequences, be they happy or miserable.

Huberty, for example, was destined to lose his job and to have a generally hard life. He reacted to all this by going berserk and killing, which is in the mode of ignorance.

He could have slept it off, or he could have sought help through religion, or even psychiatry. But blinded by his frustrated desire to lord it over the material world, he came under the influence of the mode of passion, which later became transformed into wrath (ignorance). Then he was locked in. He felt compelled to go hunting humans.

In his heart he knew better, but he could not surmount the conditioning influence of the mode of ignorance.

Conditioning by the modes of nature is so strong that we tend to make the same choices again and again, even when we know our choice is detrimental to our long-range self-interest. This conditioning also accounts for why determinists are able to gather so much scientific data in support of their theory.

As we all know, force of habit is extremely difficult to break. We have our partial free will, but even then we become so conditioned that our partial free will is scarcely used. We just make the same choices again and again. Thus. for a given set of circumstances our choices and actions become predictable.

Fate and free will, as described in the Bhagavad-gita, are analogous to the relationship between the state, the law-abiding citizen, and the criminals in prison.

A citizen is considered free only if he obeys the laws of the state. If he breaks the law, he goes to jail. A prisoner may enjoy limited freedom to choose between reading a book or writing a letter: between Jell-0 or ice-cream for dessert; between work in the barber shop or in the kitchen. But he is not free to abandon the prison altogether. By comparison, the free citizen is in a better position, but both are controlled by the law.

Practically, the only unconditioned exercise of their free will is in their decision to choose between being a good citizen or a criminal.

Similarly, as eternal spirit souls, we are forever free to choose between being a free citizen of the spiritual world or an imprisoned citizen in the material world. The choice is entirely up to us. In the spiritual world we voluntarily agree to be controlled by Krishna, in love. As a result, we relish perpetual transcendental bliss in the association of the pure devotees of God.

In the material world we are controlled by Krishna also, but through His agent material nature in the form of the three modes. Here we must undergo repeated birth, old age, disease, and death, as well as other concomitant physical and mental miseries.

From the above description, it is clear that Huberty was responsible for his shooting spree. After all, he chose to come to the material world, and of all possible choices, he made the decision that obliged him to mow down twenty-one people.

He could have done otherwise, but he didn't.

Furthermore, we can understand that in spite of the law of karma, moral and legal judgments are still relevant, because we do have some limited choice to react morally or immorally to the various situations we encounter due to our past karma, and because we have choices, our feelings of regret and remorse are also valid.

Please note, however, that from a purely spiritual point of view, the exercise of our limited free will in this material world is of relatively little significance. It simply isn't our natural position to be here in the first place.

A liberated soul, a free citizen of the spiritual world, understands that all aspects of life in the material world—whether in goodness, passion, or ignorance, whether moral or immoral—are unnatural and undesirable for the soul.

The Bhagavad-gita further informs us that we need not remain here; we can be liberated. By proper understanding of our spiritual position, the nature of this material world, the nature of the spiritual world, and the nature of Krishna, we can become enlightened and free from entanglement in the three modes of nature.

We can gain this understanding by a careful study of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. There the process of liberation, called bhakti-yoga, the path of pure devotional service, is also given. Devotional service is transcendental to the stringent rule of the three modes of nature. The decision to perform devotional service is, therefore, the best use of our free will. Similarly, your reading BACK TO GODHEAD magazine is a liberating, devotional activity. It is not under the jurisdiction of nature's modes. It is an act of your original free will. [originally published in BTG in 1984]
don muntean





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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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