Sparks from a fire
Yesterday on the way to work, I listened to the “Thought for the day” on Radio 4. This program allows people with a variety of beliefs to give a three or four minute talk on a subject of their choosing. This particular talk was by the Rabbi Lionel Blue, and he talked about what a Kabbalist had told him about his view of God. The image he used was of God being nothing in the beginning, then withdrawing part of himself to leave a void. Into this void he sent divine sparks of himself.
According to the Kabbalist, the purpose of our creation is to allow these divine sparks to find their way back to God, to make him whole again.
It struck me how similar this is to the symbolism of the Mundaka Upanishad: Continue reading →
Is this what multiculturalism means?
Last week the Prime Minister, David Cameron said that “multiculturalism has failed“. This raises a number of questions:
- What does he mean by this?
- Is he right?
- What does this mean for Hindus?
- Does David Cameron expect Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Buddhists all to abandon their individual cultures and beliefs?
Understanding this is important, because similar statements have been made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard, and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar. First of all, I will look at this question: “what is multiculturalism?”.
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Hindus and Jews share more than just a symbol
A few days ago I read some comments that were rather disparaging of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The commenter was a Hindu who lumped all Abrahamic religions together as proselytising and intolerant. Of course there are many Christians and Muslims who are tolerant and accepting of other beliefs, but as far as Judaism is concerned the accusation misses totally, it goes against the faith’s basic teachings. Unfortunately the linked comments are not the only time I have seen this “lumping together” of Judaism with Christianity and Islam on the web.
Judaism is not a proselytising religion. Though accepting converts, Judaism does not actively seek them. In fact traditionally people wanting to convert are turned away three times before being accepted. Jews do not want everyone in the world to become Jewish. Just like Hindus they believe that this is their way, but others may follow a different path. But what do Jews think about Hinduism?
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When is conversion Ethical?
To what extent should a religion welcome converts, and should a religion actively seek converts? There are many schools within Hinduism, and many different answers to this question.
I have previously written about Hinduism’s attitude towards newcomers, and how most typical Hindus don’t actively attempt to proselytise. This was illustrated in our mandir recently. We often have visits from school groups learning about religions practised in the city, and occasionally we have adult groups visiting. One day when I came to the mandir for arti there was a group from a nearby church. When the arti had finished some of the visitors came over and talked to us, and one of them asked if I was a convert. One of the other Hindus present said that he wanted the visitors to be clear that Hindus do not try to convert people. If people come and are interested they will welcome and help them, but they don’t actively seek converts. I have heard it said that Hinduism should be offered like sweets on a plate. If someone wants to take them then they are welcome, but they are equally welcome to decline the offer and move on. This is certainly far more restrained than the practice of religions which actively proselytise, but is it sufficient to ensure that people who convert have really accepted the faith and have positive reasons for joining? To answer this question I will take a side-step and look at the acceptance of converts in Judaism.
Some time ago I wrote about the similarities between Hinduism and Mystic Judaism.I thought that it might be interesting to look at the similarities and differences between Judaism’s ten commandments and the Hindu yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances). I made a diagram, which is not very easy to publish on WordPress. The best I can do is make a pdf version available and insert an image. You will have to click on the image to see the whole thing, and possibly zoom in :
I have used solid lines where there is a direct connection or even equivalence, and dotted lines where there is some sort of relation. Continue reading →
Can't see the wood for the trees?
I have recently written two posts that were intended mainly to show non-Hindus what the Hindu religion is like, and convey the world’s reactions to Hindus. I have had some very positive comments and some that make me think that some people are not reading them the way that I intended. I am therefore writing a brief explanation of each post.
This post was intended to convey the Hindu attitude of inclusivity. I also wanted to show that there is a long history of inclusivity and tolerance, that Hinduism has never been hostile to those of other faiths just because of their beliefs. Continue reading →
Hinduism is more correctly referred to as sanatana dharma, which can be translated as the eternal way or the eternal law. In this post I hope to demonstrate that Hinduism can claim to be the eternal way, a claim that other religions cannot make. I will also show why Hinduism is the true religion.
First of all I need to define what I mean by the true religion. I do not define true religion to mean the only path, or means to spiritual realisation (moksha, enlightenment or heaven). By that definition Hinduism is not “the true religion”, there is no one true religion in that sense, people can reach enlightenment on other paths. What I mean by true religion is that Hinduism gives the clearest path, with methods and instructions for finding God, and that all that is valid in other religions can be found in Hinduism.
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Posted in christian right, hinduism, judaism, other religions, religion
Tagged buddha, buddhism, christianity, eternity, islamic, sanatana dharma, spirituality, taoism, true religion, yoga
Is religion evolving or devolving. Most Hindus believe that religion is devolving. In past yugas or eras knowledge of God and our spiritual nature was better known. We are currently living in the Kali Yuga, the lowest of ages, where false and misleading religions will appear. In previous yugas knowledge of God was better, in the Satya Yuga or golden age everyone knew God and lived in ritiousness.
This idea of the golden age is seen in many religions. Even Islam and Christianity believe in the Jewish story of the garden of Eden. Native American religions talk of a time when men spoke to the Gods and animal spirits or “totems”. The Australian aborigines speak of a dreamtime, when the tribal laws were laid down.
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First of all let me say that this is a huge subject, of which I have only just scratched the surface. It would be possible to spend years studying Judaism, it has many subtleties and complexes that my brief study will have missed.
At first glance the key concept of the unity of God may appear as a direct opposite to the Hindu idea of one God with many manifestations. If we look at the Zohar, a collection of works on Kabbbalah (Jewish Mysticism) we can see that there is a concept of different aspects of God in the Jewish tree of life.
Continue reading →