Archive for the ‘Hinduism’ Category

What does it mean to say ‘I believe in God’? As the modern phrase puts it, ‘It’s complicated.’  So why do so many people insist that it’s not? (more…)

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About God: a verse from the Hindu scriptures:

His form cannot be glimpsed,
None may see Him with the eye:
Whose should know Him with heart and mind
As dwelling in the heart, becomes immortal!

Svetasvatara Upanishad 20
from Hindu scriptures; trans. R C Zaehner. London, 1992 p267

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Dipping further into Hindu scripture yields the following: yet another sign of mankind’s ceaseless and fruitless attempts to define the indefinable:

It moves.  It moves not.
It is far, yet It is near:
It is within this whole universe,
And yet It is without it.

Those who see all beings in the Self,
And the Self in all beings
Will never shrink from It.

When once one understands that in oneself
The Self’s become all beings,
When once one’s seen the unity,
What room is there for sorrow?  What room for perplexity?

(Isa Upanishad, verses 5 – 7)

These words were written between 1200 and 800BCE – centuries before St John’s Gospel.

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Last week I came across a copy of R C Zaehner’s translations of Hindu scriptures, bought it and have since been discovering all sort of gems, like this stanza (The Bhagavad-Gita, 4:39):

A man of faith, intent on wisdom,
His senses all restrained, will wisdom win;
And, wisdom won, he’ll come right soon
To perfect peace.

This is almost completely paralleled in the Bible, in the lovely text, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). The nearest equivalent I can find in the Arberry transcription of the Holy Qu’ran is “And God summons to the Abode of Peace, and He guides whomsoever He will to a straight path… “(Sura 10:25).

To complete a quartet of such insights, let us end with a slightly different perspective, a Stoic text written by an emperor:

“Nowhere can a man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul”  (Marcus Aurelius  Meditations 4:3)

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My recent reading is bringing home to me what I should have realised long ago; that successive attempts to ‘define God’ or ‘prove’ that God exists, or do the opposite, are pursued only by people whose mindsets are steeped in the materialism and individualism typical of Western culture.  Were it not for the rise of radical Islam since 2001, this essentially sterile debate would have run out years ago, for want of fuel and under pressure from new concerns and ideas. (more…)

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The argument so far: whatever we, as believer or non-believer alike, refer to as “God” is subject to the God Paradox. This is the paradox that, to be truly ‘godlike’, anything we label as such must necessarily be outside our human frame of reference.  That is the only frame available to us.  Within that frame we can say that either something ‘is’ or it is not.  So the “God” concept is, in our terms or in any terms meaningful to us, literally non-existent. (more…)

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