Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Theology No Substitute for God's Presence

Theology is like gossip about God by people who haven't actually met God.

Theology isn't wrong. It's the seeking part of "Seek and you will find." But if we have an inordinate fascination with theology as an end in itself--if we make theology our "stairway to heaven," so to speak--we miss out on fulfilling our purpose in this life, here and now. Indeed, the human body is a finely tuned instrument, specifically designed for one purpose: knowing God (see The Joy of Being, Explained).

Theology is the study of the idea of God. It is at least one step removed from the actuality of God--God's presence. Ushering people into God's presence is the goal toward which religions aim. Once that's been achieved, theology becomes superfluous.

Theology is a description of the idea of God. When you know someone, to the extent you can know anyone--that is, when you've met a person, been in his or her presence--descriptions become unnecessary.

Author and former nun Karen Armstrong expresses the Buddha's view this way:

"Religion is like a raft. Once you get across the river, moor the raft and go on. Don't lug it with you if you don't need it anymore." (For a thorough account of the Buddha's view, see An Excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Book, Buddha)

[See Eckhart Tolle's view on theology here: Excerpt on Theology from Eckhart Tolle's Book, The Power of Now]

Theology is of man (humanity); spirituality is of God.

An Excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Book, Buddha

"Letting go" is one of the keynotes of the Buddha's teaching. The enlightened person did not grab or hold on to even the most authoritative instructions. Everything was transient and nothing lasted. Until his disciples recognized this in every fiber of their being, they would never reach Nibbana. Even his own teachings must be jettisoned, once they had done their job. He once compared them to a raft, telling the story of a traveler who had come to a great expanse of water and desparately needed to get across. There was no bridge, no ferry, so he built a raft and rowed himself across the river.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Moving Refrigerators with Marcus Aurelius and Eckhart Tolle

What is evil to thee does not subsist in the ruling principle of another; nor yet in any turning and mutation of thy corporeal covering. Where is it then? It is in that part of thee in which subsists the power of forming opinions about evils. Let this power then not form opinions, and all is well. And if that which is nearest to it, the poor body, is cut, burnt, filled with matter and rottenness, nevertheless let the part which forms opinions about these things be quiet, that is, let it judge that nothing is either bad or good which can happen equally to the bad man and the good. For that which happens equally to him who lives contrary to nature and to him who lives according to nature, is neither according to nature nor contrary to nature.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IV No. 39

* * *
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

* * *
In Zen they say: "Don't seek the truth. Just cease to cherish opinions."
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, p. 121

* * *
Judge not, lest you be judged.
Jesus, The Holy Bible, Matthew 7: 1
* * * * *

Whenever one is called upon to move refrigerators for a friend (that isn't us in the picture), it is likely in that mode of awakened doing our good friend Eckhart Tolle calls "Acceptance." The other two are "Enjoyment" and "Enthusiasm" (see Monetize Your Life for a complete discussion.)

"Whatever you cannot enjoy doing," he writes in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61), "you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly."

Monday, March 29, 2010

There But For the Grace of God?

This article was originally published by Technorati on 29 March 2010. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

According to a New York Times report, Times Square is down to its last homeless person.

Homelessness has risen in other parts of the Big Apple. But Times Square, one of the many flagships of the NYC brand, has made major inroads towards cleaning up its act, a trend that began back in the early nineties under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Tactics in the war on homelessness have changed over the years in New York. While in the past the emphasis may have been on the stick, today the carrot is more in vogue. Social workers have courted the lone holdout, an African-American man who goes by the handle Heavy (see photo). While their daily offers of free housing have fallen on deaf ears in Heavy's case, he is the last of seven hardcore street people who held out until just last summer.

But Heavy appears to be well respected by the long-time locals around Times Square. He's polite, well-groomed, adequately-dressed, finds coffee to drink, cigarettes to smoke, food to eat, a little spending money from generous strangers. Heavy even has a mission: he says he's "a protector of the neighborhood." And who's to say that he isn't?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Law of Cause and Effect a Tenet of Aristotelian Faith

I went to a religious college for my undergraduate degree. I remember a professor in the Philosophy department answering a question from a student in class, "What in philosophy gives you the most qualms as a man of faith?"

The professor, without hesitation, said, "Immanuel Kant." It would be many years before I would really understand this answer and be in a position to offer the professor a prescription for his troubled mind (though surely he has passed by now, God rest his soul).

His problem with Kant had to do with the latter's view on miracles. Basically, Kant believed that there is no such thing.

Wrote Kant: "If one asks: What is to be understood by the word miracle? it may be explained . . . by saying that they are events in the world the operating laws of whose causes are, and must remain, absolutely unknown to us." (Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Harper Torchbooks, p. 81, cite courtesy of Maverick Philosopher)

In other words, when you see something that appears miraculous, it's only nature functioning according to laws we don't yet understand.

But this view of Kant's is a natural progression from the law of causality (cause and effect), first stated with clarity within Kant's philosophical lineage by our arch nemesis Aristotle. (See The Philosophy of Success elsewhere on this blog). It's Aristotle with whom the professor should have picked his bone, not Kant. Kant's too far gone. He's too far down the line.

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