Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Future of America (Not)

No offense, all due respect and all, but I think the whole damn country has some kind of Christ Complex, meaning a notion that some one person, any person, can make a difference and make things better. I like Obama but I think America is going down no matter who is at the helm. I know this sounds perverse of me but I would love to see Obama haters get their person of choice, a Republican I suppose, in the White House, and then see the country go down the tubes even faster and OH will I laugh my ass off.... but I dont have much longer to live so I dont really have any vested interest in the success or failure of America.... but I just see failure as inevitable from forces at work for a century and no one person, not even Jesus H. Christ Himself, could make any difference...

Learn to write Chinese for $10 per month

This seems like an AWESOME way to learn how to write Chinese characters for only $10 per month. They have a free demo which is very impressive. I think I could save $10 on paper alone! (ha ha... thats a JOKE) ... Rosetta On-line support avg. $22 per month but this looks better because writing is important.

The Interconnectedness of All

There is one (of many) Buddhist sayings that nothing happens by chance and if, as you walk through a huge crowd of people, your arm brushes for a moment against someone, then it is because you were deeply connected to that person in former lifetimes, either as their child, parent, spouse, student, teacher, enemy, friend. Now whether or not such a thing can be true, the manner in which it EMPOWERS us to think of the interconnectedness of all beings can only be a good and positive force in our life and in the world.

Accents in Asia

Question to my Google Plus friend:  With a fluency in Thai, Mandarin and Japanese (plus of course English) you are in a unique position to make observations, comparisons about the similarities and differences in these respective cultures. I would certainly enjoy reading your reflections on how your multicultural/multilingual education and experience has shaped/changed your views and understanding of our human experience.  Here is a silly question: Americans find the FRENCH accent so romantic but there are other languages which give a harsh and guttural impression.  Are there certain accents in Asia that are exotic and others that are harsh or comic? Also, when Chinese and Japanese speakers use cell phones, do they key in pinyin and then select the Hanji characters or do they have some way to enter actual strokes (which I imagine would be laborious.)

Crime and Punishment

A Facebook friend of mine and St. John's Great Book Program fellow alumnus posted the following strange question on his wall:

Here's how I imagine William Buell might think about liberal, moderate and conservative views of crime and punishment. For an extreme liberal 0% of the punished are guilty and 100% of the punished are innocent; For a moderate liberal 25% of the punished are guilty and 75% of the punished are innocent; for a moderate 50% of the punished are guilty and 50% of the punished are innocent; for a moderate conservative 75% of the punished are guilty and 25% of the punished are innocent; for an extreme conservative 100% of the punished are guilty and 0% of the punished are innocent. Am I right?

Here is my reply:

Aaron, I had to squint at this to figure out what it is and I am guessing that some rogue application has taken over your account and is programmatically posting these puzzles on people's walls. In answer to the actual question as to what I think, as a self-identified Agnostic Hindu-Buddhist I would have to agree with prophet Samuel that God is the only knower of hearts and sole judge. Also, I do not believe that people can really be neatly sorted into categories of thought along some kind of Mo's scale of conservatism. So, what is this strange application that has taken over Aaron's account and how many other walls has this been posted on? What did Einstein say about mathematics? To the extent that mathematics is perfect it has no connection to reality and to the extent that mathematics has an application in reality then it is imperfect. I am not certain I could even say something mathematically precise about Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

As I slowly awoke from my nap and my mind cleared I realized that I must Google search on some phrases to see if this post is a meme of some sort making its way about the internet but this seems not to be the case. Next I must ask myself how one defines and recognizes the varying degrees of conservative and liberal and to realize that these words have meant different things at different periods in history. Next we must ask what is meant by guilt and innocence. If all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and if there is such a thing as original sin then all are guilty and Apostle Paul is chief among them. Yet if all who accept Christ are mystically cleansed by Christs substitutional atonement on the cross then perhaps all are guilty but many are forgiven. So we must add notions of pardon, forgiveness, acquittal, mistrials with prejudice, etc. to our notion of guilt or innocence. The midwives Shiphrah and Puah who willfully disobeyed Pharaoh's order of infanticide, yet Shiphrah and Puah were examples of civil disobedience. Obviously Rosa Parks was technically in violation of the law when she sat in the front of a bus but ultimately she received a presidential award for her courage and civil disobedience.

Next I must inquire into the nature of punishment and also bear in mind the Constitution's notion of "cruel and unusual punishment." If notions of karma are correct then our very actions carry with then a karmic form of punishment and reward like Newton's Third Law. We divide the law into civil and criminal and there are punishments associated with both but in criminal the verdict of the jury must be "beyond the shadow of a doubt" while in civil cases it is only some majority vote of the jury necessary for conviction. Also, we must consider the function of punishments as either preventive measures to discourage misconduct and as instruments of reform to restore the criminal to a higher level of civic ethical consciousness.

Ever since I gave up tobacco and alcohol four years ago I personally see it as criminal for someone to needlessly abuse their body and jeopardize their health which such habits and yet I would not advocate passing laws to criminalize tobacco/alcohol use since we know from past experience with Prohibition that such laws create more problems than they solve. I suppose this sort of discussion leads to the Platonic/Socratic notions of what virtue itself is and how one ought to live one's life. In the parable of the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins, they were ALL VIRGINS in the sense that they were not guilty of crimes and possessed some degree of purity BUT the foolish virgins LACKED sufficient OIL in their lamps to last until the coming of the bridegroom, and in Greek the word for OIL closely resembles the word for eleemosynary acts of charity and kindness. The same may be said of that fellow who buried his one talent until the master returned for that man was not dishonest or guilty of theft but he was guilty in the sense that he was not a good steward and did not strive selflessly to make the world better for others by creating increase.

I should have added that purity "virginity" is necessary but not sufficient for salvation/redemption. We must not simply avoid wrong doing but we must try wherever and whenever possible to do good and not that quid-pro-quo sort of good which comes with its own reward but a selfless good work which some might describe as the result of "causeless mercy."

One incredibly insightful person on Facebook once explained to me that a "conservative" is often someone who is less curious by nature and has some wealth or power that they want to conserve so they desire a status-quo or perhaps even a reactionary return to some former golden age in history. A progressive or liberal is more curious and wants to see if things might change for the better and they have less wealth or power to conserve so their concern is more for the lower and disadvantaged majority than for the elite and privileged minority. She also explained to me the theory that the two party (Democratic-Republican) system may simply be sock puppets to disguise the real power underlying the parties which is that industrial-military complex that Eisenhower spoke of in his parting address.

I realized that I should brush up on what Eisenhower said

Military–industrial complex (MIC), or Military–industrial-congressional complex[1] (MICC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. These relationships include political contributions, political approval for defense spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and beneficial legislation and oversight of the industry. It is a type of iron triangle.

A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guérin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, "an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs."

I am reminded of Rabbi Abraham Heschel's remark in Volume one of "The Prophets" that "few are guilty but all are responsible."

Here is an interesting excerpt from the above Eisenhower link:

The phrase was thought to have been "war-based" industrial complex before becoming "military" in later drafts of Eisenhower's speech, a claim passed on only by oral history. Geoffrey Perret, in his biography of Eisenhower, claims that a draft of the speech the phrase was "military-industrial-congressional complex", indicating the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry, but that the third term was dropped from the final version to placate politicians. James Ledbetter calls this a "stubborn misconception" not supported by any evidence; likewise a claim by Douglas Brinkley that it was originally "military-industrial-scientific complex". Additionally, Henry Giroux claims that it was originally "military-industrial-academic complex". The actual authors of the speech were Eisenhower's speechwriters Ralph E. Williams and Malcolm Moos.

The most constructive thing we can do is to step outside the stereotypical partisan box of Republican-Democrat-Conservative-Progressive and look beyond the straw-men of individual guilt so as to see the collective guilt of our failure as a society, for there is no "reward" for the innocence of the foolish virgins or the honest failure of the one talent stewards in the sense of Camus' poignant phrase "Posterity, that paltry eternity."  But there IS a punishment for our collective guilt as a world society and that punishment is economic and ecological collapse and extinction.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dream Interpretation, Freud, Jung

Well, from the point of view that one goes to analysis to be "helped" and to make the subconscious conscious then consent, assent would seem essential ... but saying THAT is very different from implying that anyone can interpret their own dreams...  certainly one may LEARN from therapy how to have self insight, but if one were so gifted as to have the intuitive ability for self-analysis then they would not need therapy .... the old adage of Socrates from the Delphic Oracle "know thyself."  

The best book I ever read is by Sheldon Kopp "If You See the Buddha On the Road, Kill Him" (from an old Zen koan). Kopp discusses 10 or so patients. One was named "Willo" (neuter) because her parents had wanted a boy and wanted to call the boy Willis, but when they were disappointed with a girl the could not bring themselves to name her "Willa" (feminine).  I read the book 30 years ago and only a few things stick in my mind. Another of Kopp's patients fretted over how he would get by after termination and Kopp explained that "when that time comes you will have internalized me just as one internalizes a parent's voice which continues to say 'turn off the lights' long after they have passed away."   By the way, Freud, in the early days, was so anxious for patients that he would actually provide a few of the needy ones with food and clothing.  Freud wanted his theories and methods to live on after him and was acutely aware of the rampant Antisemitism so Freud picked Jung as an heir, spokesperson.  I have a book here about the Freud/Jung breakup entitled "Years of Friendship; Years of Loss" which grew out of a graduate student's paper at NYU.  

Freud was a giant but he was overshadowed by Jung's intellect, in my estimation. It is also interesting that Alfred Adler was head of the Vienna Circle in those early days. Karen Horney, part of that circle I think, (pronounced Horn-EYE) was possible the first female in Germany to earn a medical degree.

Jesus wept - 2

Contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologians point out that "you will never see a SMILING icon" and they term this the "gladdening sorrow" of Orthodoxy. I know one fellow who at midnight of the Easter Resurrection posted a youtube clip of Jesus and the thieves on the cross singing a musical. I asked him if that were not in poor taste and he explained that HIS Jesus has a great sense of humor and will not mind such a post at Easter midnight. I feel sorry for such people and have no use for a jolly God of stand-up comedy. Jesus called the pharisees "a generation of vipers" and said "you shall be judged for every idle word which proceeds from your lips." Gandhi explains in his autobiographical "Experiments in Truth" WHY he rejects Christianity as his personal religion and it is because he would see British Christians sin in the most casual fashion and when he questioned them they would explain "Oh, but we are constantly mystically cleansed in our baptismal waters by the blood of Christ's substitutional atonement." Gandhi explains "I do not seek to ESCAPE the consequences of my wrong-doing but, if possible, I seek to extinguish wrong-doing at its very source."

Jesus wept

A popular Bible trivia question is "What is the shortest verse" and the answer is "Jesus wept" which occurs during the raising of Lazarus. The Gospels of the first centuries were written in Greek in all capital letters (no lower case) and WITH NO SPACES between words. I spent a year in a Paltalk Catholic Chat and one sanctimonious old man afflicted with the sin of scrupulosity would scold anyone who typed "god" in lower case so I told him he is full of baloney. Hebrew also has no lower case either. Anyway, the early century Greek Orthodox theologians made the observation, regarding the verse "Jesus wept", that Christ resonated in compassion with the mourners EVEN THOUGH he knew that the next moment he would RAISE Lazarus from the dead. Greek oral tradition has it that Lazarus became a bishop in the early church. Lazarus was so sobered by his experience of death that he only laughed ONCE in his life after his resurrection, and it was when he saw a thief stealing an earthen vessel (pot) and he said "Look! Clay stealing clay!"

I meant to point out that separating scripture into canons and assigning verse numbers did not take place for the first several centuries. In fact it is interesting that the heretic Marcion was the first to suggest that there should be a formal canon of acceptable books of the Bible. Martin Luther referred to the Epistle of James as "a straw scripture" because it said "faith without works is dead" which reminds me of Bonhoeffer's "cheap grace" , grace without paying the cost of discipleship. For that matter, the heretic Origen was the first to coin the term "Theotokos" (birth-giver of God) for the Virgin Mary which is a very important term in Orthodoxy among Greeks and also Russians (Bogoroditsa).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Windows Secure Boot Would Exclude Linux

Computer scientists warn that proposed changes in firmware specifications may make it impossible to run “unauthorised” operating systems such as Linux and FreeBSD on PCs.

Proposed changes to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware specifications would mean PCs would only boot from a digitally signed image derived from a keychain rooted in keys built into the PC. Microsoft is pushing to make this mandatory in a move that could not be overridden by users and would effectively exclude alternative operating systems, according to Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University and other observers.

I would say that the various governmental powers that be in this world come down on Microsoft with SUCH a crushing blow that they will find it hard to survive because what they are attempting to do should they advocate such changes is to make competition impossible. Many countries have actually standardized on Linux for government and university. I would say that should such a measure take effect then very soon an industry would blossom selling linux compatible machines and then the whole thieving corrupt pact of proprietary corporate giants could crawl off in a corner somewhere and die a slow death which in my opinion is a fate they richly deserve.

The Dangers of Life in the Closet

I think Lura is on the right track in asking that we see the Bible contextually in the light of bygone centuries and try to re-evaluate what is needful in our own times. Some might be puzzled as to why I bring up things like the movie Zentropa (Europa) or Jorge Luis Borges and accuse me of being somehow off topic BUT the views of modern and even postmodern thinkers are essential if we are to engage in the reevaluation which Lura suggests is needful.

Here is a true story regarding my first wife. She was raised a Protestant in Rockford Illinois. She attended one year at a college which was not (what is the word, recognized, sanctioned... I forget...  AHA, ACCREDITED) but it was a religious college where all the males became pastors and all the females became wives of pastors. Her best female friend majored in music and married a man who became pastor of a church. She directed the choir. They had several children. Each Christmas she would send out a mimeographed (ok nowadays it is xeroxed) letter to all her many friends detailing the highlights of the past year. One Christmas a letter arrived saying that the pastor had been attacked and beaten.  Later the news broke that said pastor had been frequenting a park lavatory and soliciting sex so as often happens he was beaten on one occasion and ultimately he was arrested by under-cover police. Of course the pastor lost his job at the church. My ex-wife tried to contact her girl friend but the woman was so humiliated that she would not respond.  How said that this man was born with a same sex attraction but was so conditioned to find it wrong that he did the ultimate to distance himself from his inclination by becoming a pastor, only to succumb to his desires in a furtive and destructive fashion.

My wife converted to Old Calender ultra-conservative Greek Orthodoxy because that was my background and she was content in that for 13 years.  She once remarked that on one side of Rockford there was "The Church of Christ WITH Music" , a congregation which did not see pianos or pipe organs as sinful, while across town there was "The Church of Christ WITHOUT Music" which of course sang only a capella, realizing that musical instruments are ungodly.

The Difference Between Redemption and Salvation

I took a 2 year (once a week) Bible study class with Brother Jerry, a Marist Brother. I once asked him how he would respond to the question "Are you saved?"  He replied "I would say I am REDEEMED." So I asked him "What is the difference between redemption and salvation?"  

He explained it this way:

"Imagine 10 men who are in prison. A good person comes and pays their fines and bail.  The jailor unlocks the ten cell doors. Eight of the prisoners choose to avail themselves of the freedom, arise, and leave the prison. Two of the men choose not to leave.  All ten have been redeemed. Only eight chose to participate with that redemption and be saved."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Partial Magic in the Quixote - Jorge Luis Borges

This play of strange ambiguities culminates in the second part; the protagonists have read the first part, the protagonists of the Quixote are, at the same time, readers of the Quixote. Here it is inevitable to recall the case of Shakespeare, who includes on the stage of Hamlet another stage where a tragedy more or less like that of Hamlet is presented; the imperfect correspondence of the principal and secondary works lessens the efficacy of this inclusion. An artifice analogous to Cervantes', and even more astounding, figures in the Ramayana, the poem of Valmiki, which narrates the deeds of Rama and his war with the demons. In the last book, the sons of Rama, who do not know who their father is, seek shelter in a forest, where an ascetic teaches them to read. This teacher is, strangely enough, Valmiki; the book they study, the Ramayana. Rama orders a sacrifice of horses; Valmiki and his pupils attend this feast. The latter, accompanied by their lute, sing the Ramayana. Rama hears his own story, recognizes his own sons and then rewards the poet. . . Something similar is created by accident in the Thousand and One Nights. This collection of fantastic tales duplicates and reduplicates to the point of vertigo the ramifications of a central story in later and subordinate stories, but does not attempt to gradate its realities, and the effect (which should have been profound) is superficial, like a Persian carpet. The opening story of the series is well known: the terrible pledge of the king who every night marries a virgin who is then decapitated at dawn, and the resolution of Scheherazade, who distracts the king with her fables until a thousand and one nights have gone by and she shows him their son. The necessity of completing a thousand and one sections obliged the copyists of the work to make all manner of interpolations. None is more perturbing than that of the six hundred and second night, magical among all the nights. On that night, the king hears from the queen his own story. He hears the beginning of the
story, which comprises all the others and also -- monstrously -- itself. Does the reader clearly grasp the vast possibility of this interpolation, the curious danger? That the queen may persist and the motionless king hear forever the truncated story of the Thousand and One Nights, now infinite and circular. . . The inventions of philosophy are no less fantastic than those of art: Josiah Royce, in the first volume of his work The World and the Individual (1899), has formulated the following: "Let us imagine that a portion of the soil of England has been leveled off perfectly and that on it a cartographer traces a map of England. The job is perfect; there is no detail of the soil of England, no matter how minute, that is not registered on the map; everything has there its correspondence. This map, in such a case, should contain a map of the map, which should contain a map of the map of the map, and so on to infinity."

Why does it disturb us that the map be included in the map and the thousand and one nights in the book of the Thousand and One Nights? Why does it disturb us that Don Quixote be a reader of the Quixote and Hamlet a spectator of Hamlet? I believe I have found the reason: these inversions suggest that if the characters of a fictional work can be readers or spectators, we, its readers or spectators, can be fictitious.

In 1833, Carlyle observed that the history of the universe is an infinite sacred book that all men write and read and try to understand, and in which they are also written. - Jorge Louis Borges

Making a stand v. dancing about

Laura - sorry I overlooked your excellent question : "If the rhetoric you eschew is not going to work, what will?"

First, I would like to point out that my worthy interlocutor David states that he finds little value in MY style of rhetoric and along with Voltaire I defend to my death his right to disagree with me. But I in turn exercise my right to state that I see the rhetorical style of David as of little value (and perhaps even destructive) in the sense that David is skilled in the art of "making the weaker argument defeat the stronger" (one of the accusations at Socrates trial) but in fact David says nothing of substance, makes no stand, and reveals nothing about his own personal convictions.  David does in one post excuse himself for "dancing about the issue" and I commend his candor for dancing is all that I see David doing. David HINTS at the possibility of "substantive discourse" yet when I mention that he hastens to deny that he himself possess any of that substantive discourse.

I don't believe in dancing in discourse but rather in standing still and making a stand even if it should prove to be in error.  I agree with Lura in her position that changing times call for changing values and standards. 

Laura asks me what style of rhetoric or argument WILL work and I assume that by WORK she means uniting/unifying all Christians into one believing body and I say that NO RHETORIC or position or apologetic will ever achieve that.  Jesus himself asks the poignant question "when I return shall I even find faith." Jesus prays for unity in the garden of Gethsemane saying "Father, all those whom you have given me MAY THEY BE ONE even as you and I are one." And yet we see over the course of the first 1000 years of Christian history that 7 ecumenical councils were convened to address the host of doctrinal disagreements from Arians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Gnostics, et al, culminating in 1054 in the mutual anesthetization of each other by Rome and Constantinople.  So we see East and West go their different ways and 600 years later or so we see the Reformation followed by the counter-Reformation followed by the splintering of Protestants into something like 2000 different sectarian division evidenced by our bus ride down DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn.

My personal position (and I am willing to openly take a stand) is that I have been straight all of my life but Questioning (as the Q in LGBTQ indicates.) I believe that sexual orientation is not something that we choose but something that we discover sometimes at the tender age of 4 or 5.  I believe that all religions change and evolve and undergo sectarian divisions.  I grew up in a decade of the 1950s when homosexuality was so condemned that one was terrified to even contemplate the question of whether one could be attracted to the same sex.

I invite David to make a stand and tell us something substantive about his orientation, views and values. E.g. what is your sexual orientation; do you believe that sexual orientation is a choice; what is your religion/denomination; do you believe that there is only one true denomination/creed and that all others are in error and doomed; ... and I suppose I can think of a host of other questions to ask David. Now whether he chooses to take a stand and answer any of these questions remains to be seen and should he choose to remain silent and anonymous in his closet then I shall certainly respect that choice. 

Jorge Luis Borges, Theologian

I am searching for a link to Jorge Luis Borges short story "The Heretic" to suggest it as a paradigm for understanding along with the scene from Zentropa.  Borges addressed such issues in several stories  

“Heresy is another word for freedom of thought. ... Jorge Luis Borges

The above is a useful collection of essays on Borges... I think HIS style of reasoning about reality has some value in these dialogues about right/wrong, good/evil, who is a REAL Christian, etc. as opposed to the Manichean good guys/bad guys view of people like G.W. Bush 

DeKalb Ave. Theology III

Serious, very serious question: Was Jesus "attacking" the pharisees when he called them "a generation of vipers" or was he simply rendering a diagnosis similar to "you have cancer."

If we look at the following parable

it is obvious that the first group are like the demagogues of the television megaministries and they are CONVINCED that their salvation is guaranteed but Jesus calls them evil-doers; while a second group is convinced that they have done nothing worthy... SO convinced in fact that when Jesus welcomes them into the kingdom for feeding and clothing him, they ARGUE with him and ask "WHEN did we do all these things?"  Can you imagine someone standing before a fierce magistrate, exonerated, exculpated, and they ARGUE that they are in face GUILTY?

There is a wonderful INDIE movie , "Zentropa" , about a young, idealistic German-American man who decides to return to Germany during the post WWII occupation and help in the reconstruction. In an opening scene the youth meets an old German Catholic priest and asks "Since BOTH sides prayed to God for victory, but only one side can be right, how does God choose."   The priest quotes the verse which says "Since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth."

The point the old priest is making is that there is not some absolute, black and white, right/wrong, good/evil... but rather, ones position, the side one takes, is subjective and contextual BUT the sincerity with which one pursues ones ideal is absolute and may be measured against the hypocrisy. There is grace for those who pay the price of the cost of discipleship and then there is "cheap grace" for those who seek to say Corban and escape paying the price of the cost of discipleship.

DeKalb Theology 2

By the way I think that Lura makes the excellent point that life 2000 years ago is very different from life today and ALSO, that some of the scriptural verses written 2000 years ago to address life then were the subjective opinions or "rhetoric" of individual authors and NOT necessarily the Holy Spirit using prophets and scribes like a sock puppet.  One of the four Gospels commences with words something like "Wherefore as others have written of these events I thought it proper that I too should write..."   now I will have to google on the exact source... but such words certainly sound like the subjective opinions of an individual author and not a proclamation of the Holy Spirit channeled in a state of trance.  And there are other verses which in my mind illustrate the subjective opinions of the individual author.


Luke 1
 1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. 

David  I must study your posts.  If I were to see a person with all the symptoms of cancer and I were to say "I think you have cancer" I would not be attacking them even though they might see my words an attack; I am simply offering a diagnosis. I see the American political system afflicted with a spiritual cancer which prevents decent atheists, agnostics, Mormons, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and others from running for president. I see people like Newt Gingrich, Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Joel Osteen and a host of others as demonic for a variety of reasons.  I see Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a host of others as worthy for a variety of different reasons/qualities.  You David, strike me as a person SO learned and SO politically correct that you run the risk of writing much and saying little, but perhaps I am mistaken in this and I shall reread this thread with care.

Dekalb Avenue Theology

This is NOT a joke (though perhaps some of you are aware of it) - There are some gay men in Reform Judaism who are very literalist/fundamentalist in their interpretation of the Torah where is says "you shall not LIE with a male as with a female" so they reason that if all their sexual activity is done while standing they are in observance of the commandment.  Now, I neither condemn nor commend those who interpret such a verse literally. What those men seek is peace of mind, I assume, that they may participate in some spiritual practice of their choosing and also have a conjugal relationship of their choosing and feel accepted by all and by their personal inner voice of conscience.

This is a good thread because it has engaged my thoughts during the past day and it is good when we think and when we challenge others to think. My solution to all these disputes is what I have come to call "DeKalb Avenue Theology."  There is an avenue which runs the length of Brooklyn from North to South and one may travel that avenue on the B38 bus. As you ride for an hour or so and gaze out the window you will quite literally see from one to THREE store front churches on almost every block. I am tempted to take my camera and make that ride and create a FLICKR album of all those churches.  One church had a huge billboard advertising that "Bishop Sally" presides over the church.  Now I dare say many of these churches are founded by individuals with no particular depth of theological training other than the ability to read the Bible and no particular denominational affiliation. They simply decided that they understand what Christianity means and what a church should be and they opened their store front church and found some people who are pleased to join their congregation.  Now what is wrong with that?  Why dont they seek to engage all the other store front churches on DeKalb in ecumenical dialogues to perhaps unite them all into one great Church of Dekalb, perhaps under Archbishop Sally. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


Put a hundred nouns and adjectives on a page and you have "raw data." Add one verb to make a predication and you have "rhetoric." Everything that claims anything is some form of rhetoric.

Seeking the Lowest Common Denominator

David: Frankly, I think they are fine examples of the kind of rhetoric that is getting in the way of substantive discussion and progress on this issue (and so many others) within the Church (let me stress, on both sides too). Per 1 Peter 3:15, everyone is indeed "always ready to give an answer" but forgets to "do this with gentleness and respect.." I apologize for perhaps, at best, dancing on that line myself in this post. Not knowing either of you very well, I can only imagine that the dismissive and disrespectful attitude that pervades the cutting remarks above comes out of a deep frustration and hurt in the way your opponents have behaved. I am very sympathetic to that. Nothing hurts so much as "friendly fire" from your spiritual brothers-in-arms. All I'm asking is that the next time some fool rhetorically bitch-slaps you in the name of Christ, to remember that Jesus himself tells us to "turn the other cheek" and not to respond in kind.

William: Jesus didn't seem to be too worried about peoples feelings when he called that crowd of pharisees a "generation of vipers."  I was just recently looking at I Peter 3:15 and from memory I recall something like "Always be ready to give answer when asked what reason you have to hope BUT dwell cautious and fearful as a stranger."  The dis-"HONORABLE" Newt Gingrich married his high school geometry teacher (which isn't exactly forbidden but its kind of weird) and now he is on, what , wife three or four, and his adulterous affair became public at a time when he was engaged in Bill Clinton's case. So why is it that no one seeks to criminalize divorce since divorce is one of the few things Christ condemned?  So now let me take a look at I Peter 3:15 and see how close I came. .... OK, I guess what I read was leaning towards "MEEKNESS AND FEAR" and I was struck by the uniqueness of 1 Peter 3:16 in the Douay-Rheims tranlation "But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."  So the sense I get from the passage is to speak out your apologetic but WATCH OUT, be meek and fearful, because the world is a dangerous place. I did not get the sense that one should sugar-coat words and be patronizing to avoid making people FEEL BAD. Damn they SHOULD FEEL BAD.  Why does Christianity spend so much time looking at Jesus nailed on a cross?  America is a disgusting, hypocritical failure as a Christian society and yet they pat themselves on the back and speak in terms of "exceptionalism" as if the founding fathers were such Bible-loving Christ-loving Christians.  Billy Graham stood outside the White House each presidency from Truman on trying to suck up power and influence. The ONLY president that refused to let Graham in the White House for a prayer breakfast was JIMMY CARTER, who said "the White House is not the place for that sort of thing." Besides, Paul talks about taking someone aside, first, privately, and then in the company of two or three, and if they do not repent then expel them from the congregation.  People who grovel to find the obsequious lowest common denominator which appeals to everyone will wind up with something so watered down that it is worthless.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why did you choose Rosetta Stone Mandarin

My wife suddenly asked if I wanted a Rosetta Stone course for $480 and which language so I immediately said Mandarin... because 1.2 billion people speak it, it fascinates me, I want to experience pictograms.. I would NEVER have begged, nagged her for the money for such a purchase... if I had a second choice it would be Hindi... which is spoken by 1 billion.. also , i am a 20 minute walk from Chinatown and my building has many Mandarin speakers...
also, gradual economic dominance, importance of China... not that I will EVER be fluent, and it is doubtful that I could become even COMPETENT, FUNCTIONAL... but... I want to see if 62 year old can still learn another language

Mandarin Song Non-Stop Sadness by Huang Shujun

Here is a tiny url link to the Google Documents spreadsheet which shows the vocabulary for the lyrics.

I will gradually fill in the pinyin phonetics and meanings and you will see the updates whenever you visit.

I was able to generate the vocabulary list as follows:

1.) past the pictograms into a Rich Text Format Document opened in
Microsoft Word or a Google Document.  Put spaces around each character either manually 
or by creating a Macro to repeated click right arrow and space and right arrow

Sub Macro2()
' Macro2 Macro
' Macro recorded 9/16/2011 by
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    ... etc .... the more you repeat the faster it works
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
End Sub

Once each character is separated by spaces you can copy and paste the lyrics into:

I was able to download the video using Real Player and then convert it to MP3 so I can listen to it on my Blackberry and Coby player and learn to sing it which will help my Mandarin.

Here is the Youtube link

This all started with a KISS when I posted:

吻 = Wěn = Kiss ... which might be useful if you could get a Chinese person to stand still for a few minutes.
亲吻和拥抱马不停蹄 - Qīnwěn hé yǒngbào mǎbùtíngtí - Kiss and hug non-stop.

If we break down the word for non-stop:
马 - horse
不- not
停 - stop
蹄 - hoof

When I put the Chinese characters back into it comes out : Non-stop kissing and hugging.

Speaking of "non-stop" - Here is a tranlation of the lyrics of a song-----Non-stop sadness Authors: Huang Shujun Composer: Huang Shujun

I will always remember the boy when the back door of the Vivian family agreed to pray for an eternal Oh! Will break my heart the memory of

Her eyes mist warm hands soft voice mercy of my mind the last words she said

She said: the distance of the world has a bright future waiting for you girls and cute boys! Gypsy, I do not deserve to stay attracted to you as I do not cry Oh ...

Oh the sadness ...... I am non-stop non-stop Oh ...... I ran to the far non-stop non-stop I am sad to be here

I will always remember June last year, Juan-Juan closed the rear door when she ran away tears Oh! I mist her face expressionless eyes warm hands soft voice that no longer belongs to me only the last words

She said: I know I can only live in your most lonely days lonely lovely boy! Gypsy's you I'm just a little memory soon you forget

Oh the sadness ...... I am non-stop non-stop Oh ...... I ran to the far non-stop non-stop I want to forget the sad Oh ...... here's my sad non-stop non-stop and ran to the far Oh. sad ..... my non-stop non-stop to where I am actually going to.

The Lyrics for NON-STOP Sadness :


我永远记得少年的时候在薇薇家的后门祈求一个永恒的约定喔! 令我心碎的记忆


她说:远方的世界有着一位姑娘和美好前程等着你可爱的男孩! 吉普赛的我不值得你为我停留倾心喔...不要哭泣


我永远记得去年的六月当娟娟关上车门她泪奔而去喔! 我面无表情她那凄迷的眼睛温暖的小手轻柔的声音再也不属于我只有那最后的话语

她说:我知道我只能活在你最寂寞孤独的日子里可爱的男孩! 吉普赛的你我只是你一个小小的回忆很快你就忘记



Mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng zuòcí: Huángshūjùn zuòqǔ: Huángshūjùn Wǒ yǒngyuǎn jìde shàonián de shíhou zài wēi wēi jiā de hòumén qíqiú yīgè yǒnghéng de yuēdìng ō! Lìng wǒ xīn suì de jìyì Tā nà qīmí de yǎnjīng wēnnuǎn de xiǎoshǒu qīngróu de shēngyīn liánmǐnzhe wǒ de xīnyì shuōzhe tā zuìhòu de huàyǔ Tā shuō: Yuǎnfāng de shìjiè yǒuzhe yī wèi gūniang hé měihǎo qiánchéng děngzhe nǐ kě'ài de nánhái! Jípǔ sài de wǒ bù zhídé nǐ wèi wǒ tíngliú qīngxīn ō... Bùyào kūqì Ō...... Wǒ mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng mǎbùtíngtí xiàng yuǎnfāng bēn qù ō...... Wǒ mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng mǎbùtíngtí wǒ lái dào zhèlǐ Wǒ yǒngyuǎn jìde qùnián de liù yuè dāng juān juān guānshàng chēmén tā lèi bēn ér qù ō! Wǒ miàn wú biǎoqíng tā nà qīmí de yǎnjīng wēnnuǎn de xiǎoshǒu qīngróu de shēngyīn zài yě bù shǔyú wǒ zhǐyǒu nà zuìhòu de huàyǔ Tā shuō: Wǒ zhīdào wǒ zhǐ néng huó zài nǐ zuì jìmò gūdú de rìzi lǐ kě'ài de nánhái! Jípǔ sài de nǐ wǒ zhǐshì nǐ yīgè xiǎo xiǎo de huíyì hěn kuài nǐ jiù wàngjì Ō...... Wǒ mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng mǎbùtíngtí xiàng yuǎnfāng bēn qù ō...... Wǒ mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng mǎbùtíngtí wǒ yào wàngjì zhèlǐ ō...... Wǒ mǎbùtíngtí de yōushāng mǎbùtíngtí

Friday, September 16, 2011

Post at Tom's China Blog

Great review! Very accurate! This is my 3rd week working intensively on Rosetta Stone Mandarin
I created a wordpress blog to post regarding my progress.

I found free software that accepts words in any language including Mandarin idiograms and will build a vocabulary sorted by frequency of word occurrence.  I paste characters and pinyin into a Google Document (spreadsheet and powerpoint also work). I export to RTF (Rich Text Format).  I build a slide show of characters, pinyin, translation, and links to pronunciation and stroke order of how to write and all this is at my wordpress blog.

I cannot make progress without resorting to translations. I search on pinyin or on pictograms and I depend heavily on  .  I would like to connect with other Mandarin learners in Google Plus Social Network and/or Facebook.

I am some of which is my Chinese study and the rest is blogging/essays.

I paste my vocabulary into Google Spreadsheet and then add flash cards to the Google Documents power point slide show.

Google Plus "HANGOUTS" would be a great way for several people to practice speaking or for a native Mandarin speaker studying English to work with a native English speaker studying Mandarin.

Google Plus


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary and Slide Show Flash Cards

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mandarin and other languages text analyzer

This free text analyzer seems to work with Mandarin. I am experimenting with it now. It should word for any language.

A Chinese Cat in the Hat

English speakers are amused by "The Cat in the Hat" .  Well, as I study Rosetta Stone 

Mandarin I discover a similar rhyme in Chinese 

这只猫在帽子里。Cat in the hat

zhè zhī māo zài mào zi lǐ.

帽子裡  mào zi lǐ = HAT AND  貓   māo = CAT

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My First Rosetta Stone Webinar

I signed up for a time and date (which is required) and received an email invitation link for tonight, Tuesday, at 8pm sharp.

The webinar software is AWESOME.  To the left is a place for slide shows. Upper right is a video image of the speaker. 

I think the software is TotalE Social Cisco Webex Training Center  (pronounced Total-eee)

260 people attended this orientation of first time Rosetta Stone Users (I have Mandarin)

Studio sessions with 4 learners and one native speaker instructer may be scheduled.

When you purchase a language course (Mandarin 5 Levels) then 3 months of on-line activity for ONE student is offered. Extra on-line time starts at $25 for one month up to $149 for 15 months but averages $20 per month in volume.

Up to five learners (say family members) may use one course.  One course may be installed on a maximum of TWO computers. If you need to use other computers it must be DEACTIVED on one and activated on the third which is kind of a drag.  There is a page and a Twitter @RosettaSuccess

You may use Iphones and Ipads.  Nothing is available yet for Android and nothing can really be said about that.

On line games and activities are available as Solo, Duo and Symbio. Solo is you against the computer. Duo/Symbio involves you connecting with a native speaker of the language YOU are trying to learn who is also a student of YOUR native language.

You should finish Level I before you schedule an on line Studio session. There are "milestones" where the computer will aggressively test your abilities and only when you pass all milestones and all on line studios will you be eligible to receive a Rosetta Stone certificate of completion.

Some universities and colleges have begun to use Rosetta Stone courses.

Vallabh and Pushti Marga (Path of Grace)

Someone at mentioned in their post that they speak
Braj Bhasha.

It gives me a twinge of nostalgia to see Braj Bhasha language
mentioned. This is the language of the Asta Chap poets of the
Vallabhacharya lineage of the Pushti Marga. An American when to India
and learned that language, and became initiated in that lineage as
Shyam Das. He translated Asta Chap poets, 84 Vaishnavas, and various
works from masters of that grihastha lineage like "Ocean of Grace'.

If I am not mistaken, the Vallabh lineage are Bramhavadins, (sorry
for spelling) ... that all things are Brahman, as opposed to

In one of the footnotes of Shyam das books... he explains how the
brother of Tulsidas went off to become a devotee of the Vallabh
lineage, and to serve Sri Nathji (if my memory serves me, which it
often does not lately).

Tulsidas went to visit his brother. Tulsidas, being such a devotee of
Lord Ram, did not want to bow to anyone who did not hold the Bow (and
arrow). But Lord Krsna in His mercy transformed his Moorty into that
of Lord Ram, just long enough for Tulidas to make offerings.

That foot note goes on to explain that fierce devotion to only one
particular form of the Lord is not an insult to the other forms, but
is a give which God grants to that devotee.

My native language is English. When I was 20 I decided Americans are
boring to know only one language, so I learned to speak Greek very
well, and to get by in Russian.

There is one particular verse in the Old Testament which has caught
my attention through the years. I find myself refering to it

Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and
our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

When I thing about those years that I was immersed in the
spirituality of Saints like Vallabh, Chaitanya, Janeshwar, Madhva;
and then I compare it to the spirituality of the Old Testament, the
New Testament and the Qur'an, .... well I'm sorry I just have to say
that those "Hindu" spiritualities are so sweet and pure, and the
Abrahamic religions are such "filthy rags"; all one hears about in
Abrahamic religions is sin death punishment lust hatred murder wars,
threats, promises, violence.

I wish everyone could experience what I have experienced in
these "Hindu" spiritualities. But that is not possible. It is
possible only for one who is ready; one who has experiences the
necessary samskaras of previous births.

That is why it makes no sense to convert the entire world to "one
true faith" through rational argument and reasoning (or with a

That is why God provides so many religions.

A saint once said "The true miracle of God is that each person
believes themselves to be in possession of the one true faith; to be
the most special devotees of the Lord. It is this 'Maya" or Illusion
which gives us the strength to pursue our devotions."

The Lathe of Heaven, a Taoist Sci-Fi by Ursula K. Le Guin

There is much philosophy and religion to be found in

"The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula K. Le Guin
ISBN 0-380-01320-7 (AVON books).

The PBS movie version of this science fiction novel was broadcast
recently, followed by an interview of Ursula Le Guin by Bill Moyers.
She states that the title and the novel itself are inspired by Taoist

It is a story about a man named George Orr, who has "effective
dreams". His dreams literally transform reality; when he awakes,
both present and the past have been altered to agree with the "new
reality" which he has dreamed. A scientist, William Haber, discovers
George's ability and tries to harness it in order to "FIX" everything
that seems to be wrong with the world. Each attempt makes the world
slightly worse in some unforeseen way. One might see in Dr. Haber's
passion to "FIX" the world the folly of those social activits
who equate spirituality with "good deed" doing and charitable works,
and who attempt to "eliminate poverty" (even though both Moses and
Jesus emphatically say "the poor shall always be with you").

The struggle between George Orr and Dr. Haber represent (for me
anyway) the differences between the East and the West: Eastern
religion vs Western Religion; Eastern philosophies vs Western

Dr. Haber is eventually "destroyed"; his mind is destroyed in his
megalomaniacal attempt to acquire effective dreaming for himself. He
practically destroys all of existence as his own effective dream
regresses back to the primordial "big bang". In the scene where the
dreaming Dr. Haber approachs the nothingness of that Void, one is
reminded of the first chapter of Genesis, and the hebrew term "tohu
va bohu", (for my thoughts on this please see my browser page:
"Tohu Bohu - Hebrew in Genesis for 'without form and void' - Page 240"


The "effective dream" which transforms reality reminds one of Lord
Vishnu asleep, whose dreaming bubbles and froths countless universes
and Lilas. In college, I read a poem by Goethe in English
translation. The last line said "foams forth to God His own
infinitude". I wish I could find that poem again.

Each chapter heading starts with a quotation. Here are a few of the
quotes from The Lathe of Heaven:

Confucius and you are both dreams, and I who say you are dreams am
myself a dream. This is a paradox. Tomorrow a wise man may explain
it; that "tomorrow" will not be for ten thousand generations. -Chuang
Tse: II

Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn
by learning. They do not work by working. They do not reason by using
reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a
high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed upon the
Lathe of Heaven.-Chuang

When the Great Way is lost, we get benovelance and righteousness. -

Heaven and Earth are not humane - Lao Tse V

Those who dream of feasting awake to lamentation - Chuang Tse II

I will add to these two quotes of my own from the Bible:

God has put eternity in the heart of man, yet no one can find out the
work that God does from beginning to end. - Ecclesiastes 3:11

And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all
things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given
to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.-Ecclesiastes 1:13

Virtue and Happiness


someone wrote:

Many philosophers have tried to prove that God exists. Some of the
various proofs became so famous that they were given names. Likewise,
with equal vigour many philosophers have challenged these proofs. In
18th century, Kant suggested that the proof of Gods existence was not
provable and that some other aspect of reason must be considered as
the source of the idea of God. He postulated that the existence of
God was the grounds for the necessary connection between virtue and
happiness. Subsequently, Kierkegaard suggests three levels of
existence for humanity. The first is his "aesthetic stage",
the second his "ethical stage" and the third his "religious" stage.
He who lives at the "aesthetic stage" grasps enjoyment. Good is
whatever is beautiful, satisfying or pleasant. He is a slave to his
desires and moods. "Ethical man" tries to live by the law of morels.
Whether he acts correctly or not in a given situation is less
important than that he has in fact a view of what is ethical and
attempts to act "correctly". (Socrates) Kirkigaard's idea of
the "religious man", is postulated from the idea that "ethical man"
comes to realise that lack of knowledge of situations from an ethical
viewpoint will lead him necessarily to making inaccurate ethical

This leads to a sense of guilt and the need to leap by an act of
faith into a "religious existence" The idea of faith in the
connection between virtuous living and happiness seems to be an
important motivator for many Christians in making their leap to
a "religious existence". I am interested to know to what extent this
statement applies to different religious philosophies.

Sitaram's response:

Excellent post!

So many Religions have a quid-pro-quo aspect (something for
something). IF you do these good things, and abstain from these bad
things, THEN you will receive and enjoy THESE good things, OTHERWISE,
you will be deprived of good things and suffer these BAD things.

In Christianity, we see that the soul has a beginning in time: Psalm
139:6 "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in
thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were
fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" and Hebrews 9:27 "And
it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
So he soul is immortal, but not eternal, for it has a beginning in
time. And based on the Judgment, the soul is either contemned to
everlasting death (the worm that does not die, the wailing, the
gnashing of teeth), or it is rewarded with everlasting life ; Isaiah
64:4 "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor
perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee,
what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." And 1
Corinthians 2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love him."

In Hinduism, we read in the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna telling
Arjuna, "There was never a time when you were not or when I was not.
You do not remember your births but I remember all my re-births and
incarnations." So, in Hinduism, the soul (jiva, atman) has NO
BEGINNING in time, It is a spark from the great Light of Brahman. The
soul is truly ETERNAL as opposed to the simple IMMORTALITY of
Christianity. But, it seems to me that Hinduism goes beyond the QUID-
PRO-QUO mentality. Lord Krishna says in the Gita that He receives all
worship, offerings and prayers, even from those ignorant of His
true nature. And on the walls of the ancient Temple of Sri
Vinkanteshera in Tirupati there is an inscription which says "All
offerings everyware, come to Me." In fact, else where in the Gita,
Lord Krsna says "Out of THOUSANDS , hardly ONE seeks me, and out of
THOUSANDS WHO DO seek Me, hardly ONE comprehends my true nature. So
we see here a concept of God who does not expect all mankind to know
Him or understand Him or to have correct doctrinal belief concerning
Him. How different this picture of God is from the Old
Testament verses in which God says "My name is Jealous", Exodus
34:14 "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name
is Jealous, is a jealous God."

Our modern physics understands matter as primordial atoms, made of
even more primordial sub-atomic particles, whose origin in time is
perhaps the first moment of the Big Bang, but otherwise unknown. And
these atoms and sub-atomic particles are RECYCLED in a sort of
TRANSMIGRATION, as nebulous gas clouds congeal to form suns, and suns
cast out streams which become planets, and planets give off material
to become moons, and the atoms which yesterday were in an apple tree,
are today a part of my bloodstream, and tomorrow will be in
a mosquitoes wing. Also, in modern physics, we see great laws of
preservation or conservation of matter and energy in the various aws
of thermodynamics and in Einstein's equations. And yet, for Jewish,
Christian and Islamic theologies, each soul is created once, and
never recycled.

I once heard an Islamic theologian say that, since God (Allah)
desired to create the world, He must of necessity create it as OTHER
than Himself, and since He is PERFECT, therefore, of necessity, the
world that He creates must be OTHER, and therefore IMPERFECT. This
NECESSITY which God is under must be POWERFUL INDEED, if it can
constrain God's actions!

I read another theologian elsewhere (I cant remember where) saying
that since God had nothing but Himself, He created the world OUT OF
HIMSELF. Now this notion sounds more Hindu. Consciousness IN ANYFORM,
whether a humans, a dogs, or a mosquito's is a spark from that
CONSCIOUSNESS which is Brahman.

In Isaiah 55:7,8 we read "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his THOUGHTS: and let him return unto the LORD, and
he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly
pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than
your thoughts." In this passage, we see God having THOUGHTS
(i.e. CONSCIOUSNESS), albeit not at the same level or quality as

Jesus mentions that a sparrow, which is sold for a few cents, cannot
fall from the sky, but the Heavenly Father knows. Most westerners
envision God somewhere in Heaven with his Supernatural TELESCOPE
watching that sparrow fall from heaven. But from the point of view of
the Svetasvatara Upanisad (which describes each being as a tree with
two birds, one the individual doer, and the other the Paramatman
beholder, God), God does not see the sparrow fall from His Heavenly
Telescope, from some distant vantage point, BUT FROM INSIDE THE
SPARROW, as the INDWELLING Paramatman. Western theologies (and I
consider Islam western, despite the geography of Mecca) consider the
material universe as something which God creates as separate from
Himself. He winds it up and sets it running, like the Energizer
Bunny of Duracel Battery Fame. God gives the material universe a set
of immutable laws, and gives creatures free-will, and then stands
back to see what happens, intervening only occasionally to suspend
those physical laws in the form of a miracle. Some western theologies
even posit that God intentionally limits himself and gives up some of
His Omniscience and Omnipotence, and sacrifices His Divine
Foreknowledge of all future events, in order to make this Energizer
Bunny Universe of ours work properly. And, of course, there is ONLY
ONE UNIVERSE, which, in parallel with the western concept of the
Soul, was created at a point in time, but which IS NOT IMMORTAL. At
some point, as we read in Isaiah 34:4 an Revelation g:14 "And all the
host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled
together as a scroll: as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a
falling fig from the fig tree……. And the heaven departed as a
when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved
out of their places." Hence, in the Western view, the TIME-SPACE
continuum ceases, much like Stephen Hawkings "A Brief History of
Time". And at the End of Time, at the End of Space, we read in the
Book of Revelation 7:15-17 "Therefore are they before the throne of
God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth
on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any
heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed
them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." TIME-SPACE ceases, and it
is GOD who becomes their LIGHT, their FOOD, their RAYMENT, their
SHELTER. And is not this concept in Revelation, of God being the
space, light, food and raiment, IS NOT THIS CONCEPT STRANGELY
PANTHEISTIC (namely that God IS all things). One of the words in the
Torah for God is MAKOM, which means PLACE or SPACE. Hence, the
Talmudic saying, "God is the PLACE of the Universe. God is not IN the
Universe." In face the Jewish Mystical Kaballah has a notion of Tsim
Tsum (or Zim Zum, which means CONTRACTION or WITHDRAWEL). God is such
WITHDRAW, to make a PLACE (Makom) for the Universe. Strangely, for
western minds, the physical, material universe is somehow dirty and
defiling, and it is blasphemous to suggest that God IS the Universe,
or that the Universe is somehow MADE out of Godstuff. And yet these
theologies insist that God is "everywhere present and fillest all
things" (as in the ancient Greek prayer 'O Pantaxou paron kai ta
Panta pleiron').

Modern Physics and our friend Stephen Hawkings postulates that there
throughout our universe. Some physicists postulate that our very
Universe itself is INSIDE a black hole. The notion is that inside
each black hole is ANOTHER BIG BANG, another expanding TIME-SPACE
Continuum, a Reimann-Space, finite but unbounded. Now Hinduism sees
Creation, Preservation, and Destruction as a continuous cycle. This
Black Hole notion extends such a notion to a MULTITUDE OF UNIVERSES
(Big Bangs) all nicely tucked one inside the other, like N-
Dimensional Russian Dolls (where each doll has a smaller doll
inside). And each "Universe" might be at a different stage of
development, each with its Avatars, its Lord Rams battling Ravanna,
its Lord Krishnas playing their flutes, its Buddhas awakening and its
Christs resurrecting.

Getting back to our QUID PRO QUO observation about western
theologies, we may contrast with a story from the Mahabharat (I would
love to know the chapter and verse if someone has it please email).
There is a King and Queen who are driven into exile from their
kingdom and are forced to live in a simple hut in sight of the
majestic Himalaya Mountains. The King is a very religious
person and always performs his prayers and offerings, in good times
and in
bad. One day, the Queen emerges from their impoverished hut and sees
the King ardently engaged in prayer and worship. She asks him, "Why
do you continue to worship God so ardently, seeing that we have been
deprived of all our riches, and live in such poverty?" The King
points to the majestic Himalaya Mountains in the distance and
says, "See how grand, majestic and beautiful the Himalayas are! Do
those mountains bear some guilt for our misfortunes? Should
I cease to gaze upon them and admire them and praise them, and spite
my eyes and my senses to behold them no more, simply because of my

Only a very few actual writings and prayers have come down to us from
Lord Chaitanya , the sixteenth century Vaishnav saint. One of those
prayers basically says, "O Lord, I do not ask for money, or
pleasures, or even liberation from the cycle of birth and death, but
only to serve at Your Lotus Feet life after life, even if your foot
should crush me." We see that when Lord Ram shot the wicked Balin,
who had usurped his brothers throne, Lord Ram had compassion upon him
and offered to heal his wound. But Balin replied, "How many lifetimes
might come and go without receiving the honor to die at
the hand of the Lords' Avatar." So Balin was seeking Union and
Moksha, rather that further life and enjoyments.

Christianity has a curious habit of asking other people for their
prayers. "Pray for me because I am sick. Pray for my parents. Pray
for my son and daughter. Pray for that nation torn by war, plague and
famine." Epictetus made an interesting observation in his Discourses.
He wrote, "Why do you pray to Jupiter for the safety of your son
before he embarks upon a long journey.
Why not ask Jupiter for the Equanimity of an Even-Keeled Spirit, to
endure whatever good or bad fortune might result." Lord Krishnas,
similarly, says to Arjuna, "It is necessary that Joys and Sorrows
should enter each persons life, but he who endures them with
Equanimity and a balanced spirit is the True Yogin and master of the
Self." The Western, quid pro quo notion of prayer is to ask for
something. The Hindu notion is that each good and ill that we suffer
is our very own doing; a karmic consequence of some thought or
action from this life or a previous life. And furthermore, each good
and ill that we suffer is for our benefit. King Solomon basically
said (if I may paraphrase his writings) : "Every son whom the Lord
loves he chastens every one whom He receives, and places their souls
in the fire of adversity, until they reach a seven-fold purity like
gold in the furnace." There is a sort of impertinence in the notion
of asking God to alter our circumstances, if they are for our own
benefit and instruction. Such supplicatory prayer is almost a
lack of faith in Divine Wisdom, Mercy and Providence and a sort of
insult to God. And the insult is compounded when we do not even offer
such prayers ourselves but ask others to do it for us. If we had an
important favor to ask of a King, and we sent a relative, to ask on
our behalf, what would that King thing. It is for a busy King to
dispatch a messenger to us, and we are honored by such a visit but it
is our place to petition in person, if we are to even petition at

The early Greek theologians told a parable about the three types of
devotion of believers; the Slave, the Hired Hand, and the true-born
Son. The Slave acts out of fear of punishment. The Hired Hand acts
from hope of reward. The true-born Son acts neither from fear of
punishment nor from hope of reward but from selfless love of the
Father. I am somehow reminded at this moment, as I write these words,
of Chaitanya's words concerning "the Lord's CAUSELESS MERCY", and
that verse in the Gita where Lord Krishna says (paraphrasing),
"What my Devotee has achieved, I preserve from birth to birth, and
what my Devotee lacks, I supplement and provide through Grace." In
the oddest sort of way, we see that God does not create the physical
Universe, or sentient beings as His goal. What God CREATES or RE-
CREATES, IS GOD. Even an Greek Bishop of the first centuries
said, "God became man so that Man might become

Atheists and Agnostics might speak about man creating God.
Theologians might speak about God creating the Universe and mankind.
But there is in Hinduism, I suspect, some talk of God CREATING GOD
through the perfection of all beings in His Divine Lila or Pass-

(reply from Sidhartha):


I read through your post. Interesting. I am reminded of an answer I
received for my question regarding creation.

This individual pointed me to a fractal video (those cool iterative
pictures). He told me look at it, that is Brahman he said, and then
he set the fractal into motion, and the movie went into one of the
fractals aspects, and he said, that is you, and the movie kept
zooming into the aspect and then after a few zooms, the original
fractal came at me again.

I thought this to be a nice analogy of Brahman. The Supreme without a
beginning in time nor an end. So the person suggested that the
question regarding creation is trivial, because one cannot put a
finger on where it all began.

Religions and Mathematics

Religions and Mathematics

Let me focus on this interesting statement you made and say a few

I personally dont believe in many of the beliefs in Upanishads, or in
Bhagvat-Geeta, but I respect them all the same just as I respect
Newton and acknowledge his contributions to Science though I dont
take all his equations to be true.

Now, we all know that Newtonian mechanics works just fine to measure
the trajectory of cannon balls, and even the motions of the planets
(within an acceptable degree of accuracy). But it does not word for
intergalactic phenomena or subatomic phenomena.

Same is true with Euclidean geometry. Gausse measured the triangle
formed by three mountain peaks and, within the limits of instrumental
accuracy, could not determine whether the interior triangles were
EXACTLY the sum of two right angles (180 degrees), or whether they
EXCEEDED 180 (as hyperbolic geometry dictates) or FELL SHORT (as
elliptical geometry predicts).

And yet Euclidean geometry, fine for fields, and mountain peaks and
architecture, is not suitable for intergalactic or subatomic space.
One must look to a Reimannian model of "finite but unbounded", or
some other non-Euclidean model.

The mathematical constant PI , taken to ten decimal places, is
adequate to measure the circumference of the perceptible universe to
within the accuracy of one foot. Need more accuracy? Take more
decimal places! Take all you like! PI is an INFINITE irrational
sequence of non repeating numbers. You may approach AS CLOSE AS YOU
LIKE (but you can NEVER be precise and exact). This is the nature of
incommensurability between the finite and the infinite; between the
material and the spiritual.

Religions are not much different. What does Lord Krsna say in the
Gita. Some people say "Vasudeva is all". Others worship various demi-
Gods. Yet others worship demon and rakshasa Gods. Others worship
ghosts. Krsna says that ALL WORSHIP comes to Him, even from people
who are totally ignorant of His nature.

And whatever we worship, the Gita says thats where we go. We get what
we want. If we worship the demiGods, we go to them. If we worship
Jesus or Allah, we go to Jesus or Allah.

My point is, within the CONTEXT of a devotee's nature, based on the
gunas and karma of past lives, their particular religion IS ACCURATE
ENOUGH for that context. Just like Euclid and Newton are fine in the
context of cannon ball trajectories. Lord Krsna ALSO mentions those
individuals who, because of their particular nature, turn everything
about and call DHARMA as adharma, and make adharma into Dharma.

So what this all boils down to is simply that, "Truth is relative and
in context". Truth is a particular truth in the context of a given
axiomatic system (where certain things are assumed on FAITH. For if
EVERYTHING were to be proved and derived, it would be an INFINITE

So a Euclidean geometer TAKES ON FAITH the Axioms "a point is that
which has no part" and "a line is a breadthless length".

Axios in Greek means "worthy" (worthy of being accepted
unquestioningly as something apriori and obvious).

When a Greek Bishop ordains a new priest, the congregation shouts
three times "Axios! Axios! Axios!" (worthy of being accepted without

If we cannot find absolute truth even in MATHEMATICS or Physics, but
realize that everything is realtive to separate, mutually exclusive
axiomatic systems, then why should we assume that there is one true
religion and that all the rest are false, since there is a close
analogy between religious systems of beliefs and mathematical
axiomatic systems.


: Sankar

: hi. thanks for your thought-provoking reply.

: : I think Hinduism deserves to be called a religion. As you said,
it is exploratory rather than revelatory. However, it has all the
trappings of religion (rituals, places of worship, gods, priests).
The concept of "bhakti" exists within Hinduism as within other
religions. Even great Hindu philosophers and intellectuals have been
devotees of some god or the other (although they made it clear that
such devotion is not inconsistent with their philosophies). In this
sense, it certainly is a religion like any other. Indeed, I think
the "institutionalized religion" aspect of Hinduism is necessary for
its very survival. That is why, in a previous post, I also
raised the question of "trivialization" of Hindu practices (the
corruption of the caste system, observance of trivial customs while
ignoring the important ones) and the claims of being "orthodox
Hindus" by unqualified persons.

: I think our difference is based on the different definitions
of 'religion' and 'hinduism' we seem to follow. Of course hinduism
includes many different streams of religion-like things, I dont think
it is a single 'religion', because though there are rituals, places
of worship etc., you are not forced to follow any of them in order to
be a hindu, as there is no structure that defines hinduism per se. It
is more like a superset of a lot of strongly interacting religious
streams, but again that is not a right definition. It may be defined
as a 'super-religion' different in internal and external
manifestations from the semitic 'religions'. By the way I have the
religions in mind when I define a 'religion'.

: I wholeheartedly agree that some sort of institutionalization may be
neccessary for hinduism to survive in these times of arrogant
evangelisation, but lets not lose the awe-inspiring beauty of our

It is true that Hinduism lays stress on logical reasoning and this
sets it far apart from Middle eastern religions. However, in the
final analysis, its beliefs (as set down in the Upanishads, the most
fundamental philosophical works) are as non-verifiable as any other
religious belief. So, in my opinion, the definition of Hinduism as a
religion is quite valid.

Once more, you talk about 'panths'. I dont know of any well defined
and universally accepted set of beliefs in Hinduism that can not be
questioned. Even vedas could be, and have been throughout our
history. I personally dont believe in many of the beliefs in
Upanishads, or in Bhagvat-Geeta, but I respect them all the same just
as I respect Newton and acknowledge his contributions to Science
though I dont take all his equations to be true.

In my opinion, defining hinduism as a 'religion' is a big demotion for
something much greater.

: : Maybe someday, some learned Hindu will incorporate quantum
mechanics into Hindu philosophy in a non-trivial way - why not ?

: That should not be too difficult! As long as they dont try to take
over each-other's territory. We will have another pseudo-science on
our hand then.

Aha, but are you free to have Islam without the Qur'an? Or Islam
without the "prophet" Muhammad?

Are you free to be Muslim and drink wine?

It is amusing to see all the imagery of wine in the Rubaiyyat of Omar
Khayam, which also contains the seeds of Sufi movement.

Historically in Hinduism, we have seen both men and women become
spiritual leaders considered as Avatars by their devotees. Can
Muslims also become charismat avataric spiritual leaders with large
numbers of followers?

Shirdi Sai Baba lived in an old, abandoned Masjid. Was Shirdi Sai
Baba a Muslim?

One Sufi Martyr exclaimed "I am Allah" which is a very Vedantic
sentiment; but the Orthodox Muslims executed him for blasphemy.

My point is, ONE IS FORCED to confess or accept Muhammad as the seal
of the prophets, and accept all sorts of beliefs that make the
personality of "prophet" Muhammad as the finest and noblest example
of humanity which ever walked the earth.

If one DOES NOT accept these beliefs about the person of Muhammad,
then one is really not a genuine Muslim.

You say that every Muslim relates to god, Allah, DIRECTLY. How can
this be. Not even "prophet" Muhammad got to speak to Allah directly!
Everything was through the Angel Gabreel. Muhammad never heard or saw
Allah (even though the Qur'an mentions that Allah somehow has hands
and feet, and sits upon a throne). And yet the "Sayings of Muhammad"
preserved in Hadith state that the devil is present at every call to
prayer, and performs certain distracting irreverant acts, and then
proceeds to whisper DIRECTLY into the ear of each and every

Does noone find it odd that the Devil has such a direct line of
communication with each and every human being, whereas Allah could
not even talk to Muhammad, but used Gabreel as an intermediary.

The Qur'an is constantly saying "Ascribe no partner to Allah", but
that is EXACTLY what Gabreel seems to be, a partner to Allan. Why,
Allah seems HELPLESS without him!


: So is in Islam ,every man relates to god ,Allah directly,there is
no priest or pope intervening.Exploratory nature of hinduism is not
unioque to hinduism but probably all religions thats why you have
saints in christians,sant in hindus & sufis,in moslems.I dont buy
this distinction between hinduism & islam.Islam gives you any space
in the world to worship not a mandir or mosque. What more
availability of god to common man can there be in any other
religion.There is no exclusivity of brahmin with holy book or purohit
to perform puja /.
This is an excellent distinction, "exploratory as opposed to
revelatory". I have not seen this before, said in this fashion.

: : A religion based solely on the eye witness of one or two figures
from the shadowy mists antiquity leaves more room for doubting than a
religion which invites the devotee to experience divinity first hand
in a subjective fashion.

: : ===============================

: : : Another difference is that Hinduism is an exploratory
philosophy as opposed to a revelatory one. Every person is free to
search for knowledge/God. There are no fixed points in Hindu thought
and God is equally available to anyone who searches. That precludes
the messiahs/prophets in the semitic sense of the term.
What is wrong with "inventing your own religion". Muhammad obviously
invented his own religion, and one billion people in the world think
that its wonderful (and 5 billion people dont think its wonderful).

Why should I be any different that Muhammad?

Why would God be less inclined to speak directly to me, than to
Moses, or Muhammad, or any other human being for that matter?


Lord Indra's Web

Buddha said: "As a net is made up of a series of ties, so everything
in this world is connected by a series of ties. If anyone thinks
that the mesh of a net is an independent, isolated thing, he is
mistaken. It is called a net because it is made up of a series of
interconnected meshes, and each mesh has its place and
responsibility in relation to other meshes."

Perhaps there are more black holes in the universe than visible
stars, each one smaller than our moon, like little black pearls,
radiant. And beyond the event horizon, inside, ANOTHER BIG BANG
expanding space-time continuum;

BUDDHAS awakening, Christ childs in the manger, young Krisnas playing
their flutes.

Perhaps there are many black holes, each with a big bang universe

And inside that universe, and other black holes, other Universes,
all tucked one inside the other; worlds within worlds, universes
within universes.

The Universe of universes is Indra's web; each crossing of the web
has an eye which sees all the other eyes.

: ======================

Liked and agree with the subject 100%. But I would try and rework
this piece a bit more and make it a classic!! Looks like a piece
which flowed on paper...or is it a keyboard...A very good first
draft, but certainly should be worked on.


(a poem posted at

Innernet versus internet

As I was speeding down the freeway
In rush hour traffic to go to work that day
I was talking to the person at the wheel
Telling him about the way I feel
He was engrossed in digital thoughts
This was afterall the generation of dotcoms
Where people are preoccupied with the internet site
And surf the world wide web when they have respite

While they forget about the web they weave
And how their family and love they leave
To go after success in ecommerce
And develop some remote resource
The cobwebs of the mind still remain
Even though some obscure field they may redefine
While search engines are at the tip of their finger
Their childrens birthdays they have to search their memory to remember
This makes me ponder
What makes one a winner
Is it knowing the world wide web to a tee
Or is it the way you weave the web of life
To feel unburdened and free.

Bhagavad-Gita Take-Home Lessons

Subj: Gita Take-Home Lessons

Posted by Sitaram6465 on June 18, 2000 at 14:17:52:

: (1) What is the relevance of Bhagavath Geetha of few thousand years
to us Living in US today?

As Krsna says: "it is inevitable that pleasures and sufferings shall
come to each of us, but that person who remains unmoved by fortune or
misfortune, pleasure or pain, is a true Yogin (as in english cognage
Yoke, to be joined together with God, like a yoked pair of oxen,
which is similar to UNION, which is not far removed from Communion).

In one word EQUANIMITY, an even keeled balanced spirit in the face of
all things.

: (2) What is the take home lesson?

Some take home lessons?

1.) God is so merciful that God graciously receives ALL FORMS OF
WORSHIP, even from those TOTALLY ignorant of God's true nature.

2.) God views ALL BEINGS the same, none is hateful or dear (compare a
verse from a different religions scripture which says "Be thou APES,
despised!") Although it is also true that though God is the same to
all, at the same time God is very close to His devotee. In the
geometry of Euclidean space, if point A is close to point B, then
point B is EQUALLY close to point A, but in SPIRITUAL GEOMETRY,
though God is EQUALLY close to EACH OF US, it does not necessarily
follow that each of us is equally close to God.

: (3) How? What are the teachings we can use it to uplift ourselves
or to become better?

"There has never been a time when I was not or when YOU were not. I
remember all My Births. You do not remember yours. ..... even though
a person be THE WORST OF SINNERS... when he becomes devoted to Me he
shall quickly be purified,... for he has come to that right
resolution ... (saying Vasudeva is all)...

for That person who comes to see ME , in all things, in all
creatures, no other puja or tapas is necessary...

You will be born again and again, until you "get it right" (dummy!)

: (4) What are the principles or teaching of Lord Krishna, which we
can use in our daily, lives TODAYHERE IN THIS COUNTRY.

Your own duty or dharma, even though done imperfectly is far better
than doing the dharma of another, however excellent it might seem to
you... (so if it seems like you are ment to enter the family
business, do your best, and dont pine away to be a movie star... and
if you are a movie star, do your best, dont pine away for the privacy
of the ordinary life, or why you cannot ever be certain if people
really "love you for yourself"....

: (5) How reading Bhagavd Githa changed your life. IN What way? Are
you better person today than before reading Geetha?

"I am the sacrifice, I am the fire, I am the ghee that is poured into
the fire, I am the Pujari who poors,..... My true nature is more
radiant that 1000 suns, .... although all things are mine and I have
no goals or desires, yet I never cease My activity... and were I to
cease my Activity for one single instant... then COUNTLESS WORLDS and
beings would perish..... and yet all those worlds and beings are
supported from moment to moment by BUT A SINGLE SPARK OF MY ENERGY
AND MAGNIFICANCE.... of sacrifices I am Japa (silent repetition), of
syllables I am AUM, .... I am Ram of Warriors, I am Shiva , I am
Brahman.... I am being and non-being... I am death itself, and
destruction, and I am life and creation.... " But most of all..... I
am your intimate friend and associate,.... I am waiting to play my
flute for you, I am waiting for you to join Me in my Divine Lilas....

If you can but internalize something of the above, which I have
quickly typed from memory, paraphrasing, then you will not be able to
repeat it to yourself without you face becoming wet with tears and
your skin raised with goose bumps, as I am at this moment....

I hope the above helps in some way to answer some of your questions...


: As usual we started quoting slokas (most of us knew few slokas by
heart, or suggested to read commentary by this author or that author.
: Or started selling the story once upon a timeDharma Kshetre Kuru
Kshetreetc ---
: - Bhavad Githa is Universal applies to all times-Universal to all
people etc.
: Eternaland What is it Universal for today every body evaded or gave
nonspecific answers Beta---------Etc
: But when the above questions are repeated we had no answer to the
: Since there are lot of learned people in this form I respectfully
request them to
: Educate us.
: : Thanks Sita Ram for answering these questions.I lookforward
forany other posts and comments
: : Thanks again.
: : Venkateswara
: : (I will-compile them and give it to the youth Group
: : SitaRam You are very prompt in your reply:)

Sitaram's reply:

Glad if I can help.

If I am prompt in my reply, it is because I have enternalized what I
say over a period of years and it has become part of me.

I say that, not to boast, but to point out to those few who might be
interested, that this is our task, if we are to make spiritual

St. Paul speaks of people being "vessels of clay" (clay pots) in
which God places His treasures of gold.

Whatever path we choose, whatever scripture, whatever Name of God,
with form or formless, we must become the very embodiment of that
scripture, that Name, that Form. It must become as natural as our
breath and it must flow from every pour like our sweat. And when we
pass through a room, our presense and passing should leave that
fragrence of divinity.

If you read "Way of the Pilgrim" by an anonymous Russian author just
before the revolution, you will see how the poor pilgrim, with a
withered arm, who cannot work, becomes literally an embodiment of the
Jesus prayer (Prayer of the heart) which he constantly repeats, and
the Gospels and Philokalia which he constantly reads.

The first 100 pages of Doestoevsky's "Brothers karamazov" describes
that same transformation in the monk Zossima (whose real life model
was the real monk that Doestovsky met at the Optina Pust monastery,
Father Amvrosy). This is the ultimate monastic process, the ultimate
process of sanctification. Of the nine forms of devotional
excellence, Shravana, Kirtana, Smarana, padasevena, Arcana, vandana,
shakya, dasya... the final one is ATMANIVEDANA,... the sacrifice of
self, of ego, upon the alter of bhakti (devotion)....

If we can achieve that,... then .... as St. Paul said "the old man
has died, but Christ lives in me."

This is the only manner in which there is a "living faith".

As Gandhi once said, "MY LIFE is my message".

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