Today is a very special day for me.
Why? Well, I've come to the end of a seven year journey of trolling internet forums engaging in countless discussions about God and in particular the topic of Christian Apologetics.
This post will be a gradual assembly post, to which I shall add bits and pieces of discussions that I've had with many very clever and some not so clever folks.
Not all the bits and pieces will be from the actual discussions. Some of them will be from books I've read, lectures I've listened to as well as music, poetry and Oriental writings. As a matter of fact, it's going to be a regular smorgasbord of delights. You are most welcome to leave your berries, pearls, one-liners and wisecracks, plus any insightful comments in the appropriate space provided at the end of this page.
For starters, I'm considering a question that my son asked a panel of smarties on the 15.09.2005.
The post title was: "Can you prove the existence of God?"
The post read: 'I was approached recently by a friend who asked me how to prove the existence of God without using the Bible. Can you help?'
1. Here's something to nibble on. The following site has certainly grown, in fact it has changed. It used to be called "apollos", I suspect it was named after 'Saint Apollos (Ἀπολλώς; contracted from Apollonius) an apostle who was also a 1st century Alexandrian Jewish Christian mentioned several times in the New Testament' It's now called "Last Seminary" Though there is certainly a wholesome collection to read, I was immediately attracted to the Philosophy of Religion Articles.
2. The Argument From Conscience by Peter Kreeft is one of several papers (in pdf. format) under the heading 'Moral Argument' at "Last Seminary" and another by C.S Lewis might suffice.
a. The Argument From Conscience by Peter Kreeft
"The simple, intuitive point of the argument from conscience is that everyone in the world knows, deep down, that he is absolutely obligated to be and do good, and this absolute obligation could come only from God. Thus everyone knows God, however obscurely, by this moral intuition, which we usually call conscience. Conscience is the voice of God in the soul. Like all arguments for the existence of God, this one proves only a small part of what we know God to be by divine revelation. But this part is significantly more than the arguments from nature reveal about God because this argument has richer data, a richer starting point."
'And, of course, that raises a very big question. If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling "whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn't it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren't all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?" But then that threw me back into another difficulty.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet.
Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too— for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense.
Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.'
From: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
3. Awareness of God by Illtyd Trethowan is one of several papers (in pdf. format) under the heading 'Religious Experience' at "Last Seminary"
"The belief that God is present to the human mind (or soul) and can be found there is part of the Christian tradition. Many Christian philosophers seem to regard this as the concern only of specially devout persons and of no interest for philosophical purposes. The evidence for it, they think, it too slender to be taken seriously by academic philosophers without particular interest in religion, who tend to regard anything in the nature of religious experience as suspect. So philosophical discussions about religion are usually concerned with rational arguments for and against theism, usually of a technical kind. In this article, I want to suggest that there is another attitude of mind which has become more widely shared as the century has advanced..."
4. Has Religion Evolved ? , Evolution of Morality and Is Human Behavior in the Genes? by Dr. David Lahti ( a series of lectures presented at 'The Faraday Institute of Science and Religion' between July and November 2011.) Also, refer Multi-Media for audio/video recordings of a wide selection of lectures, debates and discussions.)
5. Here are a couple of replies which were presented to my son, in response to his question. (ref: ' my' opening post - above ) The first reply was by a Mormon bishop and the second was an anonymous reply:
I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of ill tidings, but it is not possible to "prove" the existence of God from the Bible, or any other book for that matter. Nor is it possible to "prove" the existence of God using reason alone.
I know that there have been some great thinkers who have come up with arguments for the existence of God, but there are brilliant men who have heard those arguments and have been unconvinced.
If you are looking for "evidence" of God, well that's a bit easier. But again, any evidence will not be absolute or unabiguous nor will it be uncontended.
So your friend can't prove the existence of God, but then again, the nonexistence of God can't be proven either.
It boils down to a matter of faith. Do you choose to believe? What are you willing to stake on that belief? How much will be give up for that faith?
Those are the fundamental issues that each person must wrestle with and come to grips with.
You really can't prove that God exists. It's just the most plausable explenation given the universe we live in and the impressions of God on the human mind: an all powerful, all knowing God made everything and can do anything.
I really believe that the question "Can you prove God exists?" is disingenuous most of the time people ask it. There are some people who are trapped in a logical impasse about the existence of God, but I think most are mad at God for the way the world is. I'd ask the person you're talking to, "Suppose you could know for certain that God is real. What would you think of that?" And start the conversation from there.
6. ( Dr. William Lane Craig - Existence of God (ref: Podcasts @ Reasonable Faith) , Prof. Jeff Scholoss = website etc. )
Evolution and Religion - Prof. Jeff Schloss
7. ( Prof. Alvin Plantinga = website , Dr. Michael Sudduth = website etc. )
God, Design and ID - Prof. Kenneth Miller
Science and Religion : Where The Real Conflict Lies - Professor Alvin Plantinga
What is a properly basic belief? interview with Prof. Alvin Plantinga
Discussing property warrant (in the video) Professor Alvin Plantinga states that , 'A belief has warrant for you if it's produced by cognitive faculties, memory, perception, mathematical, logical, intuition that are functioning properly, not subject to some sort of dysfunctional and the kind of environment they're designed for either by a god or evolution, according to a design plan (so if they're designed they've got a way of working right and a way of working wrong) that's successfully aimed at truth.' ( at 15:40 )
'Belief in God is warranted, only if belief in God is true' Professor Alvin Plantinga.
Science and Religion : Video Discussion at the Veritas Forum : . Alvin Plantinga , Dr. Richard Gale , Dr. Quentin Smith and Dr. William Lane Craig. Wow! Now that's a room full of hothouse flowers.
8. The Extended Mind (pdf) by David Chalmers (Published in Analysis 58:10-23, 1998.) - The Extended Mind Revisited (video: 2009) , David Chalmers on Consciousness , TEDxSydney - David Chalmers - The Extended Mind (video: 2011)
9. Does Evil Disprove God - Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Dr. Alvin Plantinga.
10. The Transcendental and the Transcendent and Pragmatic and Transcendental Arguments for Theism (A Critical Examination ) by Professor Sami Pihlström ( Professor of Practical Philosophy (University of Jyväskylä), Docent of Theoretical Philosophy (University of Helsinki) )
"As an obvious source of relevant examples of transcendental reasoning about the transcendent, I shall consider a particular language-game, or a group of language-games, namely, the religious one(s), and briefly examine two specific problems pertaining to religious language-use, namely, the problem of the existence of God (section 2.1) and the problem of evil (section 2.2). I have chosen to focus (in section 2.1) on a transcendental argument for theism drawn from Charles Taylor’s work, instead of, say, the more explicitly transcendental 'Martin – Frame Debate' on TAG (the transcendental argument for the existence of God) vs. TANG (the transcendental argument for the non-existence of God)."
"Commenting upon some recent literature on the topic, this paper examines two strategies by means of which one might try to defend theism: (1) a pragmatic(Jamesian) strategy, which focuses on the idea that religious belief has beneficial consequences in the believer’s life, and (2) a transcendental (Kantian) strategy, according to which theism is required as a condition of our self-understanding as ethically oriented creatures. Both strategies are found unsatisfactory, unless synthesized and thus supported by each other. While no argument, either pragmatic or transcendental, can demonstrate the existence of God, a pragmatic transcendental argument might have a legitimate role to play in the philosophy of religion. The problem of relativism arises, however. It is concluded that it remains unclear whether a religious believer could justify her or his beliefs to anyone who does not already share those beliefs."
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (stuff that I thought about but forgot to add)
1. Cornelius Van Till - Biography - Resources by Subject.
2. Dr. William Lane Craig's - Existence of God (audio lectures) at Reasonable Faith.
3. Selflessness and Altruism:
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of duty and loyalty. Altruism is a motivation to provide something of value to a party who must be anyone but the self, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (for example, a god, a king), or collective (for example, a government). Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone other than the self (e.g. sacrificing time, energy or possessions) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (for instance from recognition of the giving).
The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it is the opposite of egoism.
From: Alruism @ W.O.E
a. Prof. Viktor Frankl
“Again and again I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run – in the long-run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
b. Prof. Jeff Schloss
Altruism and Selfless Love : Theistic and Naturalistic Perspectives
Washington University, St. Louis
29 March 2010
‘Evolution might be able to explain biological diversity, but can it explain self-giving love? How do we make sense of altruism in a world of competition? In this Veritas Forum, two perspectives are brought to the table—theistic and naturalistic—both from practicing scientists. Jeffrey Schloss is a Professor of Biology at Westmont and a Christian; Robert Sussman is a Professor of Anthropology at Washington University and a non-theist. The event is moderated by Professor in the Laboratory and Genomic Medicine Division at Washington University in St. Louis, S. Joshua Swamidass, MD PhD.’
To watch the video > http://www.veritas.org/Media.aspx#!/v/912
Join the Veritas Forum, to download.
The "End" of Love: Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism, and Human Purpose
Evolutionary evil and a good creation?
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
[i] Matthew 5:43 : Lev. 19:18
For ‘thespian and artistic type’ lovers : Selflessness by John Coltrane (in two parts)
4. Prayer - Meditation - Contemplation and the pursuit of God:
Why would anyone choose a deity who ‘….is untouched by pleasure and pain, good and evil’ yet who it is said, ‘….dances in supreme joy and creates, sustains and destroys with the rhythm of His dancing movements’ who it is also said, ‘….is the most awe-inspiring and terrifying deity, Rudra, with Trisul or trident in His hand’ and who it is said, ‘…. is the source of all knowledge and wisdom’ who it is said, also ‘….conducts the work of creation according to His will and pleasure’ who it is said, ‘….is distinct from Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra’ and who it is said commands, ‘…. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra’ who ‘are the trinities of the world’ who it is said that whoever ‘…. regards the three deities as distinct and different, Siva Purana says, is undoubtedly a devil or evil spirit’ and yet of whom it is said, ‘The most auspicious and useful work beneficial to mankind ever carried out by Lord Siva, is to impart the knowledge of Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana, etc., to the world. He blesses those deserve His grace and who cannot get out of Samsara without His grace. He is not only the World-Teacher but also an ideal example to the Jivanmukta or sage. He teaches by His very actions in His daily life’ ? Is it perhaps because, ‘Lord Siva through His third eye of wisdom burnt passion to ashes’ ? Is it your hope to ‘overcomes waking and sleeping state and through meditation’ and thereby merge yourself ‘…. in the object meditated upon in’ your ‘waking state itself’ ?
Quotes from SIVA TATTVA Chapter 2 from LORD SIVA AND HIS WORSHIP by SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
Or, is this life closer to the ideas of Epicurus?
Those things which without ceasing I have declared to you, those do, and exercise yourself in those, holding them to be the elements of right life. First believe that God is a living being immortal and happy, according to the notion of a god indicated by the common sense of humankind; and so believing, you shall not affirm of him anything that is foreign to his immortality or that does not agree with his blessedness, but you shall believe about him whatever may uphold both his blessedness and immortality. For truly there are gods, and knowledge of them is evident; but they are not such as the multitude believe, seeing that people do not steadfastly maintain the notions they form respecting them. Not the person who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious. For the utterances of the multitude about the gods are not true preconceptions but false assumptions; hence it is that the greatest evils happen to the wicked and the greatest blessings happen to the good from the hand of the gods, seeing that they are always favorable to their own good qualities and take pleasure in people like to themselves, but reject as alien whatever is not of their kind.
( Lives, 10.123 )
Or, is this life closer to the ideas of writers of the book of Acts?
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Acts 17 ( Listen )
The Laws of Manu by George Bühler.
‘ Friedrich Nietzsche is noted to have said “Close the Bible and open the Manu Smriti. It has an affirmation of life, a triumphing agreeable sensation in life and that to draw up a lawbook such as Manu means to permit oneself to get the upper hand, to become perfection, to be ambitious of the highest art of living” ( Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, vol. 1. ) Contra Nietzsche, Nipissing University philosophy professor W.A. Borody has coined the phrase “sublimation-transmogrification logic” to describe the underlying ‘state of mind’ lying behind the ethical teaching of the Manu Smrti—a ‘state of mind’ that would have found Nietzsche’s concept of the Dionysian Übermensch abhorrent, and a ‘state of mind’ or ‘voice’ that has always been radically contested within India’s various philosophical and religious traditions. ( W.A.Borody,“The Manu Smrti and Neo-Secularism”, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol I, No. 9 (Special Issue, July, 2011 )
From: W.O.E – Manusmṛti
The personalities of the Trimurti (Hindu trinity) are also sometimes referred to as Guna avatars, because of their roles of controlling the three modes (gunas) of nature,( 55 ) even though they have not descended upon an earthly planet in the general sense of the term ‘avatar’.
Vishnu – As controller of the mode of goodness ( sattva )
Brahma – Controller of the mode of passion and desire ( rajas ) (Not to be confused with BRAHMAN )
Shiva – Controller of the mode of ignorance ( tamas )
‘….one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe.’ ( The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions , ed. John Bowker, OUP, 1997 )
‘….is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead’ ( Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888—1975) / Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan )
‘…. which is the Divine Ground’ ( The phrase ‘Divine Ground’ was in modern times coined by Aldous Huxley in his widely read comparative study of mysticism The Perennial Philosophy. Divine Ground (Paul Tillich popularized the expression ‘Ground of Being’ to refer to God) is a neutral term to express the common experience of mystics in diverse religious traditions of an Absolute Ground in which phenomena appear to have their root and origin. Theistic religions refer to this ground as God or Godhead whereas Eastern transtheistic religions use terms such as Tao, Dharmakaya or Clear Light. Among modern authors who use the expression ‘Ground’ is Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche (see his book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) ) ‘of all being’
‘…. is conceived as personal (“with qualities”), impersonal (“without qualities”) and/or supreme depending on the philosophical school. Hindus worship Brahman through statues called murtis, almost as a portal to Brahman. Different aspects of Brahman are represented in these murtis.
The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through the doctrine of self-knowledge (atma jnana).’
According to Advaita , a liberated human being ( jivanmukta ) has realised Brahman as his or her own true self (see atman ).
The Mundaka Upanishad ( pdf – SWAMI KRISHNANANDA / pdf – Swami Nikhilananda ) ( ….it is not, like other Mantras , to be used for sacrificial purposes. Its only object is to teach the highest knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman, which cannot be obtained either by sacrifices or by worship (Upasana), but by such teaching only as is imparted in the Upanishad. With its beautiful style, lucid metres, serious wording, and lofty feelings each mantra of this Upanishad gives joyous reading.) says:
AUM – That supreme Brahman is infinite, and this conditioned Brahman is infinite. The infinite proceeds from infinite. If you subtract the infinite from the infinite, the infinite remains alone.
‘ The Satapatha contains the oldest speculation on Brahman, or the Absolute Principle. Jung painted an image of the relation of the individual person to Satapatha Brahman or the Self ….’ Dr. JG Friesen from Jung and Western Mysticism
‘Brahma’s job was creation of the world and all creatures. His name should not be confused with Brahman, who is the supreme God force present within all things.
Brahma is the least worshipped god in Hinduism today. There are only two temples in the whole of India devoted to him, compared with the many thousands devoted to the other two.’
From: BBC Religions – Brahma
Why is Brahma not worshipped so much?
Though there doesn’t seem to be too much written about this, though there are two Hindu myths that indicate that Brahma created the earth and made a very beautiful woman to aid with his job of creation. ‘She was so beautiful that Brahma became infatuated with her, and gazed at her wherever she went. This caused her extreme embarrassment and Shatarupa tried to turn from his gaze.’ ( read more, for the two possible accounts of how things got out of control – Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – I notice that there are no sources, yet. )
“Lord Brahma’s day, consisting of his 12 hours, lasts 4 billion 320 million years, and his night is of the same duration.”
From: Bhaktivedanta VedaBase
‘Brahma’s prayers are recorded in the Brahma-samhita. From this scripture we know that Brahma is a devotee of Om the empty space everlasting peace and abode, and what is home for both material, non-material and spiritual universes. According to Brahma’s authority we can know that Om is the Supreme God. Brahma says: Om is the Supreme God. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes. Brahma lets us know that all Brahma is one of many Brahmas who is one of many material universes which appear from Om’s breathing out.’
Link: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia
THE INCARNATIONS OF LORD VISHNU
There are ten avatars (dashavatara) of Vishnu commonly considered as the most prominent: (refer: The Garuda Purana Texts )
Matsya, the fish that kills Damanaka to save the vedas and saves mankind.
Kurma, the turtle that helps the Devas and Asuras churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality.
Varaha, the boar that rescues the Earth and kills Hiranyaksha.
Narasimha, the one (half-Lion half- human) who defeats the demon Hiranyakashapu (Nara = man, simha = lion).
Vamana. the dwarf that grows into a giant to save the world from King Bali.
Parashurama, A Sage, Rama with the axe, who appeared in the Treta Yuga.
Rama, Sri Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya and killed Demon King Raavana.
Krishna (meaning ‘dark coloured’ or ‘all attractive’ or the Existence of Bliss, ( Vishnu sahasranama, Sankara’s interpretation of the 57th name, Swami Tapasyananda’s translation, pg. 51. ), appeared in the Dwapara Yuga along with his brother
Refer this narrative which is based upon the commentary of Shankaracharya:
(57) Krishnah -The word Krishna means in Sanskrit ‘the dark’. The Truth that is intellectually appreciated, but spiritually not apprehended, is considered as ‘veiled behind some darkness’. Vishnu Sahasranama means the “Thousand Names of Vishnu.”
Balarama, the avatar of Aadi Sesha, the serpent on which Supreme Lord Vishnu sleeps, Svayam Bhagavan’.’ This viewpoint is specific to Bhagavata, Gaudiya, Vallabhacarya and Nimbarka sampradayas. (refer: Sri Dasavatara-stotra and Upaaya )
Kalki (“Eternity”, or “timeless”, destroyer of time or “The Destroyer of foulness”), who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist.
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : VISHNU
A Talk With Ramana Maharshi
‘Apart from its historical usage, the term meditation was introduced as a translation for Eastern spiritual practices, referred to as dhyana in Buddhism and in Hinduism, which comes from the Sanskrit root dhyai, meaning to contemplate or meditate. The term “meditation” in English may also refer to practices from Islamic Sufism, or other traditions such as Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Hesychasm. An edited book about “meditation” published in 2003, for example, included chapter contributions by authors describing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Taoist traditions. Scholars have noted that “the term ‘meditation’ as it has entered contemporary usage” is parallel to the term “contemplation” in Christianity.’
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
‘Apart from its historical usage, the term meditation was introduced as a translation for Eastern spiritual practices, referred to as dhyana in Buddhism and in Hinduism, which comes from the Sanskrit root dhyai, meaning to contemplate or meditate. The term “meditation” in English may also refer to practices from Islamic Sufism, ….’
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
As a meditative state, dhyana is characterized by profound stillness and concentration. It is discussed in the Pali canon (and the parallel agamas) and post-canonical Theravada Buddhist literature , and in other literature. There has been little scientific study of the states so far.’
An Anthology from the Pali Canon by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Live Science: <strong>Study: Zen Meditation Really Does Clear the Mind by Charles Q. ChoiDate: 02 September 2008
Web Extra: Mindfulness for the Masses by Katie Unger
Scientists are taking advantage of new technologies to see exactly what goes on inside the brains of Buddhist monks and other so-called “Olympian” meditators — individuals who meditate intensively and regularly. The neuroscientists hypothesize that regular meditation actually alters the way the brain is wired, and that these changes could be at the heart of claims that meditation can improve health and well-being.
From: Science Explores Meditation’s Effect on the Brain by ALLISON AUBREY
According to the Hindu Yoga Sutra , ( Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati / The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali The Threads of Union Translation by BonGiovanni ) written by Patanjali, dhyana is one of the eight limbs of Yoga, (the other seven being Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, and Samadhi).
The entire Eight Limbs of the Patanjali system are also sometimes referred to as Dhyana, or the meditative path, although strictly speaking, only the last four limbs constitute meditation Pratyahara, Dhyana, Dharana, and Samadhi. The preceding steps are only to prepare the body and mind for meditation.
‘….practices from Islamic Sufism’
‘Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”. Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits”.
The Healing Power of Sufi Meditation by as-Sayyid, Nurjan Mirahmadi (Author), Hedieh Mirahmadi
‘…. Many people Muslim or others were directing themselves to Yoga, Meditation, Reiki and many New Age philosophies. Believing that Sufism does not have these options, much to their surprise Sufism is the custodian for these ancient realities’ a result of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani and the Baraka of our Sultan al-Awliya and all Mashaykh Naqshbandi pushed the renewed concept of Sufi Meditation and went after those teachings to bring the Light of Mawlana Shaykh to these people and direct many of them to the realities of Sayedena Muhammad [s] and Tariqat Naqshbandiyyat-il-`aliyyah.’
From: The Healing Power of Sufi Meditation ( Sufi Meditation – Step by Step )
‘…. or other traditions such as …. and Christian Hesychasm
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
An ancient mystical tradition was lost to the Western world nearly a thousand years ago. Now, at the dawn of the new millennium, this profound yet practical path of transcendence is being rediscovered. Its name is hesychasm, from a Greek root meaning “to be still.”
‘Hesychasm’s roots extend back almost two thousand years to the beginnings of the Christian church. Today much of what we know about this spiritual path has been gleaned from the writings of mystics who populated the Middle Eastern deserts in the fourth century. These early ascetics are known as the Desert Fathers.
In the eleventh century, the Christian church split into the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Catholicism rejected hesychasm, which encouraged individual experiences of the divine. As a result, hesychasm disappeared from Western culture but survived because the Orthodox church embraced and preserved this tradition of quiet meditation.
For the last millennium, hesychasm has remained shrouded in obscurity in the West. Why? One reason is that hesychastic texts preserved by the Orthodox Church were written in Greek or the languages of various eastern European countries. This made them inaccessible to most Westerners. Only recently have classics such as The Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent been translated into English. Another factor has been the cultural and political differences that separated Eastern Europe from the West. The fall of these barriers is permitting greater access to, and understanding of, this spiritual path. ‘ ( read more )
From: Hesychasm: A Christian Path of Transcendence by Mitchell B. Liester
‘…. or other traditions such as Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Hesychasm. ( Daniel Goleman (1988). The meditative mind: The varieties of meditative experience. New York: Tarcher. ) ‘
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
‘So what is meditation really ? ….’
Daniel Goleman discusses Meditation in a two part video playlist: Click Here
Kaballah (lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence (Southern France) and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine. It was popularized in the form of Hassidic Judaism in the 18th century.
Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious Creator and the mortal and finite universe (His creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a denomination in and of itself; it is a set of scriptures that exist outside the traditional Jewish scriptures.
Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions.
It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization.
Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought and constantly uses classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by kabbalists to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional rabbinic literature, their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances. (Primary Source:Kabbalah Online: Imbued with Holiness ‘The relationship of the esoteric to the exoteric in the fourfold Pardes interpretation of Torah and existence.’ )
What is Kabbalah? : What is Kabbalah …And Why? : Beginners Start Here :Introductory
Primary Website: The Kabbalah Centre : Video – Where to begin?
The sacred texts of Judaism : Kabbalah Unveiled
‘…. An edited book about “meditation” published in 2003, for example, included chapter contributions by authors describing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Taoist traditions. ‘
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions by Jonathan Shear
Jonathan Shear is Affiliated Associate Professor of Philosophy at VCU, where he has taught since 1987. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow there, and a Fulbright Scholar in philosophy of science at the London School of Economics. Since the early 1960’s his work has focused on the use of meditation practices and related scientific research to expand our knowledge of human consciousness. He has published and lectured widely in North America, Europe and Asia, and was the founding Managing Editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.
Ruth A. Baer , Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. She conducts research on mindfulness and related processes and teaches and supervises mindfulness and acceptancebased interventions. She is a renowned expert in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulnessbased stress reduction (MBSR).
ASSESSING MINDFULNESS AND ACCEPTANCE PROCESSES IN CLIENTS – Illuminating the Theory and Practice of Change
‘…. Scholars have noted that “the term ‘meditation’ as it has entered contemporary usage” is parallel to the term “contemplation” in Christianity.’
From: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia : Meditation : Etymology
Prayer, meditation and contemplation in Christianity
From meditation to contemplative prayer
In the Western Church, during the 15th century, reforms of the clergy and monastic settings were undertaken by the two Venetians, Lorenzo Giustiniani and Louis Barbo. Both men considered methodical prayer and meditation as essential tools for the reforms they were undertaking.( 28 ) Barbo, who died in 1443, wrote a treatise on prayer titled Forma orationis et meditionis otherwise known as Modus meditandi. He described three types of prayer; vocal prayer, best suited for beginners; meditation, oriented towards those who are more advanced; and contemplation as the highest form of prayer, only obtainable after the meditation stage. Based on the request of Pope Eugene IV, Barbo introduced these methods to Valladolid, Spain and by the end of the 15th century they were being used at the abbey of Montserrat. These methods then influenced Garcias de Cisneros, who in turn influenced Ignatius of Loyola. ( 29 ) ( 30 )
The Eastern Othodox Church has a similar three level hierarchy of prayer.(31 )( 32 ) The first level prayer is again vocal prayer, the second level is meditation (also called “inward prayer” or “discursive prayer”) and the third level is contemplative prayer in which a much closer relationship with God is cultivated. ( 31 )
Jim: Won’t some people say that you have returned to a Christian apologetic that wants to again set up Christianity as the truth over other religions?
Glenn: Well of course some people will say that. Other people say that I am still interpreting Christianity in terms of Hinduism. I am not responsible for how other people think or react. I can only say that, in large part through my studies of Abhishiktananda, I have learned to see Christianity differently, and I know that it is true. This knowing is more than an intellectual acceptance of what Abhishiktananda called "petrified" and "idolatrous" dogma. And this is not to say that God cannot also reveal Himself in other religions. But it seems to me that Christianity does have a distinct emphasis on love as self-giving, following the model of Christ’s kenosis. And this has practical consequences. We must ask why it was that it was a Western friend who came to the aid of Abhishiktananda as he was lying in the street of Rishikesh after his heart attack.
From: An Interview with Dr. J Glenn Friesen - Abhishiktananda
'Hence contemplation is more than a consideration of abstract truths about God, more even than effective meditation on the things we believe. It is awakening, enlightenment and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God's creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply "find" a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery and His own freedom. It is a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its poverty and purity, to follow the Word "wherever He may go."
From: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
5. The Influence of Classical Ideas in the Humanities:
‘….the influence of classical ideas in many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong; for example, the Gilgamesh Epic from Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Vedas and Upanishads in India and various writings attributed to Confucius, Lao-tse and Chuang-tzu in China.‘
From: W.O.E. – Humanities – Classics
For those who may be unfamiliar with any of the above mentioned books or authors, here are a few links that might be helpful to those who are not yet acquainted with them.
1. Ancient Near East : The Epic of Gilgamesh (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
2. The Egyptian Book of the Dead (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
3. The Vedas (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
4. Upanishads (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
5. Confusion and Traditional Chinese Beliefs (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
6. Lao-tse (604BC) – Taoist Texts (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
7. Chuang-tzu(4th century BCE) – Musings of a Chinese Mystic by Lionel Giles (courtesy of Sacred Texts)
‘Chuang-Tze had made himself well acquainted with all the literature of his time, but preferred the views of Lao-Tze; and ranked himself among his followers, so that of the more than ten myriads of characters contained in his published writings the greater part are occupied with metaphorical illustrations of Lao’s doctrines.’ (read more: here or here )
‘Of what is great one must either be silent or speak with greatness. With greatness–that means cynically and with innocence.’ FN
Did Jesus Exist?
From this pilgrim who enjoys reading and studying Evolution, Philosophy and more recently Atheism and Nihilism in Art.
Fossil Finds by rogue66
ps. A while ago I met an Australian bloke who was totally into something he called 'Lay Gnosis' which he explained to me in some detail as well as informing me that my skepticism would be solved by visiting the website AFTERLIFE EVIDENCE (authored by a lawyer Victor Zammit), but one peculiarity stuck out and that was his use of the phrase "GOOGLE-IT"
Well, as I was thinking of a way to end this thread (now that the comments have fizzled out), I decided to do just that and type 'can you prove the existence of god' into my Google browser and post up the results.
Who knows maybe Google will shutdown one day just like Geocities did and there'll be a record of it here.
Here are the links: (from my "GI" / Google It!)
1. CAN YOU PROVE GOD EXISTS? PETER KREEFT
2. CAN YOU PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD? EVERY STUDENT
3. IS THERE A GOD EVERY STUDENT
4. EXISTENCE OF GOD WIKIPEDIA
5. HUNDREDS OF PROOFS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD GODLESSGEEKS
6. CAN SCIENCE BE USED TO PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD THE GUARDIAN
7. IF YOU CAN READ THIS, I CAN PROVE GOD EXISTS COSMIC FINGERPRINTS
8. HOW DO YOU PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD ICHTHYS
9. CAN YOU PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD PLIM REPORT
10. CAN YOU PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD? JOEUSER FORUMS < LIKE A MAP (HERE WE ARE)
1st SA Bluesman and Smeagologist in Cyberspace
Thanks for your comments and may you stay forever young kids.
North Walsham Guide