Exclusivity - The Only Way?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Did you know that you can interpret the idea or thought of "exclusivity" even within the scriptures of the oldest religion in the world? Check it out. The quote below is from the Hindu faith founded by Krishna which still has followers even today:

"Thou too, when heart and mind are fixed on Me,
Shalt surely come to Me! All come who cleave
With never-wavering will of firmest faith,
Owning none other Gods: all come to Me,
The Uttermost, Purusha, Holiest!"

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Owning none other Gods: all come to Me" - I could interpret that as a strong notion of exclusivity and that Lord Krishna is the only way to find God. But of course the most famous quote of exclusivity is from the Christian faith:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

(King James Bible, John 14:6)

This is most often, and understandably, interpreted as Jesus meaning that He is the only way. But is that truly what He meant? In the Bible, Jesus sometimes speaks as an Individual and sometimes speaks as if He is God Himself. All Manifestations of God do this. But which way is He speaking here? It does make a difference.

In these quotes, I believe that both Krishna and Jesus are speaking as God, not as individuals. They are speaking as Conduits and Reflections of the divine Spirit and/or Word of God. Therefore, what is meant is that "God" or "the Holy Spirit" within Them is the only way.

It is like focusing on the "Light" within the "Lamp", rather than on the "Lamp" itself. It is that "Light" that is the only way. If you look at it this way it is easy to reconcile the idea of "exclusivity" and find how all the Manifestations came from the same one true God and all could honestly declare They were "The Way".

What do you think about different religions claiming to be the "only way" to God? I am going to try and find quotes from some of the other major world religions that center around this same theme. If you know of any, please post them. I think this is an important discussion.

Love thy Neighbor

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christianity is the largest and most widespread religion in the world, so I wanted to devote some time to one of its most well-known teachings - "love thy neighbor".  Here are some passages:
  • "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."  (12:28-31 - King James Bible, Mark)
  • "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."  (3:10-11 - King James Bible, 1 John)
  • "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  (5:14 - King James Bible, Galatians)
  • "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."  (15:12 - King James Bible, John)
All these quotes are saying the same thing to me - be loving to your fellow man.  So, my question is, what do you think would happen if mankind started to truly follow this commandment?  World Peace?  Elimination of Prejudice?  Seems to me that it all comes back to love.  So truly, what would happen?

Do we create our own pain?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This one is for you Aminda!

"Mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a defiled mind is to draw pain after oneself, like a wheel behind the feet of the animal drawing it.

Mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a peaceful mind, is to draw happiness after oneself, like an inseparable shadow."

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

I absolutely love this quote!  I think it is a very powerful metaphor for what we do to ourselves.  Not that I think ALL pain is self-created.  But I do believe there is opportunity in all that life has to offer (including the challenges that can bring pain) and to me those opportunities are beautiful and a grace from God.  I totally agree that if we approach life from a peaceful state of mind, then we will experience a much happier existence while we are here. 

The challenge is to CREATE that state of mind!  That is why I am going to go to Yoga class with Aminda.  ;-)

The Meaning of Life

Sunday, October 11, 2009

One thing that I feel very grateful for is that as a Baha'i, I actually know the "meaning of life" and it is really very simple.  It boils down to two things - to learn to know God (read His writings, reflect on their meanings and meditate upon them) and to worship Him (love Him by putting what we know into action - prayer, compassion, humility, detachment).  That answer makes complete sense to me.  Although there are only those two things, it really amounts to a lot of work and in my opinion is enough to keep me challenged for a long time to come.  ;-)

Here are some writings from the Baha'i Faith on the purpose of life...

"I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee."  (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 313)

"The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol."  (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 70)

"The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves."  (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 287)

What do you believe to be the meaning of life?  Please share your own thoughts, quotes and experiences from your spiritual journey!

Detachment from material things

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My dog Buddy, is an animal, so obviously he does not really approach life from a spiritual state of mind, striving to acquire heavenly virtues and be detached from the material world...see below...

That's ok though, I don't think he is much of a theologian. But as I grow older I find more and more value in being detached and I feel more capable of being detached - from food, from possessions, from politics, from expectations of others. The list could go on and on - really anything worldly. I mean, don't all religions teach that this world is fleeting and that our focus should be on a spiritual level, even while yet on this earth? Since my blog is focused on scriptures, here is a Baha'i quote to ponder...

"No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth."

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 3)

What do you think about detachment? Do you find value in it? Do you have a favorite quote about detachment to share from your religion?

Let's start with the basics, shall we?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The GOLDEN RULE can be found in ALL the major world religions. Here is a small random sampling:

  • Hinduism... "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done unto you." - Mahabharata 5:1517

  • Judaism... "That which is hateful unto you, do not impose on others." - Talmud, Shabbat 31a

  • Buddhism... "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Udana-Varga 5:18

  • Christianity... "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" - Luke 6:31

  • Zoroastrianism... "That nature only is good when it refrains from doing unto another whatever is not good for its own self" - Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

  • Sikhism... "The minds of all are like precious jewels; to harm them is not good at all." - Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 41 - Shaloks Of Shaykh Fareed Jee

  • Islam... "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." - Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."

  • Taoism... "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." - T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien.

  • Baha'i Faith... "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." - Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah,71

In my opinion, this common thread alone should tell us that there is an intrinsic and essential truth to them all which then really begs the question - Why is it so difficult to believe that maybe they all came from God? What do you think? (I realize that this is my first post and I am probably not going to get any responses, but you gotta start somewhere right?)

Powered by Blogger.
Baha'i Ring
© WebRing Inc.
Baha'i Ring
<< Prev | Ring Hub | Join | Rate| Next >>
Thank you for visiting!