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Category Archives: Pantheism

Rishe Groner – Tablet Magazine

Posted: May 23, 2017 at 10:34 pm

Recently I fell into the same old discussion with a close girlfriend. As we talked about work, dating, and all the day-to-day trials of New York City women in 2017, she told me that if I stopped assuming that everything would just repeat as it always had, I might actually be able to break the cycle. Then, when she expressed anxiety over peoples criticism of her, I reminded her that her critics might just have problems with how they see themselves. Sounds New Agey, right? For her, it was, sort of: She was speaking the language of mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhist retreats. But me? I was parroting the text Ive spent most of my life studying: the Tanya. And once again, our conversation reached that point of discussion: Can we please start studying the Tanya together?

The original Hasidic self-help book, known as the Tanya, is a compendium of talks and teachings. Its first section, Likkutei Amarim, was apparently written in the late 1790s in Lithuania by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, one of the first leaders of the Hasidic movement of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. (The original edition was said to be lost, and we now work from an 1814 edition.) At a time when practice was defined by intellectualism, not mysticism, Hasidic Judaism was about ecstasy, prayer, divine service, and connection to a rebbe, or master and teacher. Schneur Zalman originated the Chabad branch, which capitalized on the intellectualism of the Jewish scholarly world, bringing its intellectualism to the Hasidic emphasis on experience. Filled with references to Torah, Talmud, and of course, Kabbalah, the Tanya offered an approach to spiritual transformation that was designed to arouse even the headiest, heart-numbed scholar into a genuine love and awe of the divine.

Chabad-Lubavitch is now known more for its ubiquitous Chabad House outreach centers; meanwhile, the movements central text, the Tanya, remains obscure even to many who are touched by the Lubavitchers outreach. And to be fair, its not an immediately accessible read. Tefillin and Shabbat candles are, indeed, easier on-ramps to Jewish practice. So, mere days after my conversation with my friend, I was elated to find, in a Brooklyn bookstore laden with Jewish ritual items and leather-bound tomes, a Tanya for the uninitiated. With a distinct dark green cover and typeface that looked more appropriate for a Williamsburg cafs chalkboard, I pulled off the counter display The Practical Tanya, a new edition adapted by London-born, Brooklyn-based Rabbi Chaim Miller.

With a new translation and explanation of the text, Millers pathbreaking Tanya aims to funnel the teachings into practical steps that embody mystical principles for living ones best life. Schneur Zalman, known in Chabad circles as the Alter Rebbe, meant to write a self-help volume for his Hasidic seekers, to replace interpersonal advisory sessions. It was real advice to real people, Miller told me. He penetrated something about the psyche that was universal, and thats why it hit home. Written in a cerebral, structured way that was unique to Hasidic publications at the time, the Tanya sought to explain the mystical dimensions to an audience of traditional yeshiva students and scholars who otherwise viewed the Hasidic tendency toward Kabbalistic mystical themes as heresy. Through deep grounding in scholarly work, coupled with mystical teachings received from his teachers, the Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Hasidic movement) and Mezericher Maggid (his successor), the Tanyas author created a framework for divine service that reconciled the underlying existential concerns of the average human, no matter his level of scholarshipby normalizing the experience of body and soul through Kabbalistic cosmology and practical self-help.

The Tanya comprises five sections, and so far Miller has adapted only the first, Likkutei Amarim, A Collection of Talks. Also called The Book for In-Betweeners, this section reintroduces a concept, briefly mentioned in the Talmud, of a person who is neither righteous nor wicked yet undergoes the daily struggle, the essential duality inherent within the human psyche. Millers goal is not simply to translate this text but to create the kind of text I can share with people like my friendslovers of self-help books, meditation podcasts, and Facebook posts that remind us to take a deep breath.

I called it The Practical Tanya because I wanted it to hit you, Miller said. How is it relatable? I ask that question on every line. The author of the Tanya provides a system for understanding that you are constantly operating on two levels of consciousness, divine and animal, likened to two souls within one body. What you choose to highlight, to embody, is what manifests, and helps you live a higher life Each daily struggle depends on the two levels, the balance of good and evil, and how a person identifies with their actions on each level. It provides day-to-day reference points, reminding readers that you are not your thoughts or your actions, and change is possible in every minute. Truly, it is the essence of being in the moment.

Validating the struggle helps readers of the Tanya to understand core concerns like laziness, apathy, guilt, depression, and sexual thoughtsmajor concerns, at the time, for traditional Jews and great scholars who couldnt imagine how their commitment to Torah study wouldnt change them from being essentially human. The Tanya describes all of this as essential humanity. Miller, who appreciates contemporary self-help writers like Eckhart Tolle, understands Tanya to be attractive to seekers by allowing them to be irredeemably imperfect at the core. In other sections, the Tanya details more of the cosmology of Kabbalah and how that relates to creation, including the manifestation of the universe based on Gods divine word. This concept helps one see the ultimate importance and significance of their existence and every action because they are all emanations of the divine.

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At the time Hasidism began, it was considered heretical to believe that God, or the Divine Presence, is manifest everywhere, not just in the synagogue. In Hasidism, the Masters teach there is little that is wholly sacred or profane; most is simply that which is yet to be revealed, elevated, and transformed. Today, these ideas are not unfamiliar to those who explore other spiritual frameworks such as yoga, meditation, Buddhism, or Sufismthis kind of pantheism is, of course, New Age, or Eastern Wisdom Traditions 101.

Miller expressed regret that, while referring to the importance of a contemplative meditation practice, todays rabbis often skimp on the explanation. The history and richness of Chabad contemplative practices, passed from teacher to student, were lost as the community was decimated by Stalin and Hitler. In a Jewish world where many consider themselves a bad Jew for not connecting with traditional Judaism taught by institutions, it is it an ideal time to reclaim the Tanya, in a more user-friendly format. It is the optimum time to bring the pathways of the Tanya into the United States urban jungle, as mindfulness, meditation, and spiritual traditions popularize and arrive at the forefront of Western consciousness.

Miller, who is in his early 40s, is the founder of the Brooklyn Holistic Synagogue. But he is best known for his adaptions of Hasidic teachings in translated editions of Torah, Megillat Esther, Tehillim (Psalms), Haftarot, a Friday night prayer book, and a Passover Haggadah, as well as Turning Judaism Outward, a biography of the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe. But he has an unusual history in observant Judaism, which gives him an edge in adapting ancient wisdom to a new audience. He had a typical British Jewish upbringing, in which Judaism was a club where you drank Kiddush wine and judged each other for not being religious enough. The synagogue experience involved reading texts that were incomprehensible, in English, while wearing top hats, and saying a prayer for the queen. I thought I was smart, but I couldnt understand the prayers, he said. Judaism was secretly shameful, something you felt connected to but couldnt understand why, since experientially it was so horrible.

While studying medicine at Leeds College, Miller encountered his first experience with Jewish wisdom. His search for meaning took him to a philosophy bookstore, where he encountered Maimonides. That was an a-ha moment for me, he said. It never dawned on me that there was any intellectual content in Judaism. I never imagined there was any nourishment of the soul or the mind. The search took him to a yeshiva in upstate New York, where the Tanya came his way. I was obsessed, he said. Using an older translation, he became a Tanya junkie, filling it with notes and diagrams. Tanya was about validating struggle. It was relatable. It also introduced this whole Kabbalistic system of symbolism that appealed to me very much. It changed my whole worldview.

Coming from a secular background, with little exposure to Jewish thought, Miller felt frustrated that others might be exposed to Tanya but not given the tools to fully understand it. I wanted to get it out of the book and nourish ourselves with it, he said. I have to revisit the Tanya to bring out its nourishing qualities. As an outsider, I see that as a blessing. It gives the opportunity to reinvigorate our engagement by learning from someone with that energetic enthusiasm.

When he was a boy, Ysoscher Katz, a former Satmar Hasid who now teaches at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the Open Orthodoxy seminary in the Bronx, was expelled from his Satmar yeshiva for studying the Tanya. The book was that revolutionary, and certainly viewed as such by mainstream Orthodoxy and Hasidism. Currently a teacher of the next generation of Modern Orthodox rabbis, Katz recently taught a unit on Hasidism with sections from the Tanya, exploring the dichotomy of living between two worlds, one of intellectual frameworks and traditional study overlaid with mystical experiences and practices of prayer and meditation.

While some view general mysticism as somewhat superficial or lightweight, said Katz, the Tanya is the opposite of that. It is, he said, a cerebral work, but the ideas are embodied and inspiring: Tanya is a prism through which one can come to the world, a method in which one can grapple the complexity of life. It could happen a person isnt looking to change anything in day-to-day practice, but life will change when you start seeing things differently.

Charles Roth studied at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Crown Heights in the 1940s, when he was a child. After leaving Orthodoxy, he moved into humanistic psychology, and became a veteran of many encounter groups. But he still thinks of himself as a student of the Tanya. I have several volumes of Tanya in Hebrew and English translation, and I often encounter many references to Tanya in other things that I study, I often pick it up to check it in the source, Roth said. The purpose of life is to lead a life free of the dominance of ego And, thats a lifetime struggle. Im 91, and I am still in that struggle, but I feel its less of a struggle now than it was 10 years ago. And I attribute that to my studies of Hasidism in general, and the Tanya in particular.

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Rishe Groner, a writer and strategist living in Brooklyn, is the founder of The Genesis.

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Escape into the wild with Maasthi Gudi- The New Indian Express – The New Indian Express

Posted: May 13, 2017 at 5:34 am

The story of Maasthi Gudi, conceived by Duniya Vijay, is about how saving tigers will eventually help us get water.

The daughter (Kriti Kharbanda) of a Range Forest Officer narrates her experience in a forest and her encounter with Maasti (Duniya Vijay) through a TV Channel. An orphan, who lands up in Maasti Gudi forest, he is raised by Madayya (Rangayana Raghu) and Bheemaji (B Jayashree). He grows up to be a mahout for an elephant Drona. But when Bheemajji, through her tantric vision, sees that the forest is headed for trouble, Maasti steps forward to save it. This is followed by a thin storyline of love, revenge and sacrifice.

Two men died while attempting to make Maasthi Gudi. Anil and Uday, who play villains attempted a misadventure to a give shot. What came of it? Does Maasthi Gudi do justice to their giving all for its making? The audience must decide.

The director Nagashekar, who has taken a step beyond his usual romance, has this time dealt with an action movie that also tackles global warming. With Maasthi Gudi, he elaborates on the importance of forests and saving animals from poachers, a subject rarely dealt with. But he seems to have tried to do way too many things by mixing action, love and family bonding with pantheism and ghosts. He ends up confusing the central theme of Save Tiger, Save Forest. Therefore, the movie evokes a mixed response. The film with its great setting in the lap of Nature and with computer graphics looks good, but leaves a viewer feeling a little empty. The makers, who could not portray better climax, are clearly ambitious because they have announced a sequel.

No doubt that Nagashekar and his team have put in a great effort in sending out a message of the need to protect forests, but they could have worked on their narration which flags and loses momentum. Vijay has come out of his comfort zone with him attempting a realistic performance and he has done it whole-heartedly. Amulya too has got into the character of the girl-next-door and Kriti Kharbanda does justice to the character she plays — a Phd holder from London. Actors such as Rangayana Raghu, B Jayashree and Srinivas Murthy ably support the leads but the comedy track by Sadhu Kokila, Bullet Prakash and Tabla Nani is not so sensible.

The films technical team deserves an applause. Cinematographer Satya Heagde makes it a must-see with his striking visuals of the dry forest and the greenbelt. Music by Sadhu Kokila is another reason to watch it, there are soothing songs and a good background score. For all those living in the concrete world, Maasthi Gudi could be a good escape into the wild.

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Dunphy: The growls of empty stomachs – Alton Telegraph

Posted: May 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm

My hometown of Alton, Illinois participated in the National Day of Prayer last Thursday by holding a prayer meeting at the Alton YWCA. According to one media source, participants offered prayers for the church and racial healing, for the sanctity of life, for business, emergency personnel and ministry to the sick, education, the media, the family, government and the military.

Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, celebrated National Day of Prayer by voting to repeal Obamacare. Nothing expresses ones love of God quite like taking health insurance away from millions of people.

A meme dealing with prayer popped up in my Facebook feed the previous week. It featured a photo of Pope Francis as well as a quotation from the pontiff that read: You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. Thats how prayer works.

Well, that was news to this columnist! The prayers I recall from my Catholic childhood generally fell into two categories: those asking forgiveness for a particular transgression; and those requesting divine intervention, such as healing of an illness or injury. I dont recall being taught or told to pray for the hungry. I have vivid memories, however, of being guilt-tripped into eating food I disliked when reminded there were starving people in India who would be glad to have it.

While applauding Francis mandate to feed the hungry, I found the first and last sentences of his quotation puzzling. If one fully intends to feed hungry people, why is it first necessary to pray for their hunger to be alleviated? Yes, I know the Old Testament tells of God feeding the hungry Hebrews with manna as they wandered in the desert. The New Testament tells of Jesus feeding hungry followers with miraculously-multiplied loaves and fishes. But Francis makes it quite clear that hes not depending on divine intervention in this instance. Hes talking about human beings feeding other human beings.

Why is it even necessary to pray for the hungry or even for the hungry to pray for themselves? Jesus clearly states in Matthew 6:7-8, And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. In other words, an omniscient God neednt be told that people are hungry.

When I shared this meme with a Facebook group that discusses pantheism, a New Zealander posted, Forget the first and last sentences. He got it at the second one. I replied that her comment reminded me of Robert Ingersolls famous assertion that The hands that help are better far than lips that pray. Ironically, Ingersolls observation isnt that radically different than James admonition in 2:15-16: Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? The Great Agnostic and Jesus brother agreed that when it comes to alleviating hunger, actions trump words.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. Hunger exists in our nation. According to Hunger Notes, 6.3 million households in 2015 had very low food security, while children were food insecure at times in 3 million households.

While I applaud Francis compassion for the disadvantaged, my commitment to practicality prompts me to make a suggestion. Rather than pray for the hungry and then feed them, I recommend that one feed these people and then pray for them. For those with empty stomachs, even the shortest prayer can seem interminably long.

http://thetelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_dunphy-2-1.jpg

John J. Dunphy is the author of Abolitionism and the Civil War in Southwestern Illinois and Lewis and Clarks Illinois Volunteers. He owns The Second Reading Book Shop in Alton.

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Opposed to Catholicism – Church Militant

Posted: May 6, 2017 at 3:24 am

TRANSCRIPT

“All religions are of equal value and viable paths to God and Heaven.” This is the main attitude that has been adopted by way too many clerics in the Catholic Church these days if even indirectly. They refuse to talk about the superiority, the uniqueness, the special place that Catholicism occupies in relation to all other religions.

All other religions, no matter how well-intended their adherents may be, are false because they are man made. And what we are talking about here are the beliefs, not the individual human beings who hold these beliefs. All people, no matter how mistaken or deluded, are deserving of respect owing to their human dignity. Their beliefs, however, are not deserving of respect. The beliefs are wrong.

A simple analogy might help. If a teacher asks the class what is 7 x 7, and she gets answers that are wrong, those incorrect answers cannot be respected. They are wrong and need to be called wrong. That doesn’t mean the teacher should insult the student but the student needs to be shown that the answer is incorrect. That’s the whole point of being taught in the first place to arrive at truth. There’s also the matter of justice for the student who correctly answers the question. Those who arrive at truth need to be applauded and rewarded for it.

We are all equal in our dignity. We are not equal in our apprehension of the truth. And people who are wrong should not be given the impression that their understandings are correct when they are, in fact, incorrect. To place error alongside truth is wrong on two counts; it rewards error and diminishes truth.

But in the monstrosity of a building, passing itself off as a cathedral in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, this is exactly whats going on. There are a number of alcoves on the sides of the interior where art is exhibited from students at various Catholic schools in the Los Angeles archdiocese. On the walls of the alcoves, you will find paintings done by students from some of the most distinguished Catholic high schools in the archdiocese. Each work also had a placard with a one or two sentence description of their work. And they are loaded with heresy.

Before we show you some of the works, we want everyone to know, we are not going to show the names of the students who painted the images because that would be unfair. We also offer no opinion on the quality of work. Thats not the point of this Vortex. The students are only representing what theyve been taught after all those years of Catholic “education.” The teachers and clergy who have corrupted and malformed their young minds and the senior clergy, which have let this happen will have a lot to answer for when they die.

So now to the images and the students own descriptions of their work. First, we have a piece entitled Drawn to the Light where the Catholic student promotes the idea of Eastern mysticism by saying there is a balance between light and dark. The Yin and the Yang notion completely opposed to Catholicism.

Next, the Wings of Hope, and the hope expressed by the student is the hope of the coming together of all religions. Might as well have a coexist bumper sticker plastered along beside it. Thats indifferentism opposed to Catholicism.

This one is called Pantheism and the student description says that God made man and the rest of creation in His Own image. Pantheism certainly and opposed to Catholicism.

This work is entitled Heaven Only Knows and insists that humans are created from star matter and connected to space. A kind of New Age spirituality. Again opposed to Catholicism.

Of course no display of heretical work would be complete without an ode to homosexuality, and here it is Ode to Orlando where the description says, in effect, everyone is equal and God loves everyone no matter what. What it leaves out is that our moral choices can cut us off from God. God love us, yes. But not all love Him back.

This one called Flamingo the student description says that man and nature complete each other. No, grace completes man, not nature. Opposed to Catholicism.

This one entitled My Spiritual Mandala promotes the Eastern notion that everything is related to everything else and destined to be united in the end. Opposed to Catholicism.

And what heresy parade would be complete without opening the door for false religions like Islam. Which is exactly what this work does. It is a direct quote from the Quran opposed to Catholicism. And again, the students who produced these works are only artistically representing what they’ve learned from their Catholic high schools all across Los Angeles.

Why are these paintings up on the walls in the cathedral, celebrated and presented for all to see and marvel over their depth and profound insights? Any faithful Catholic should be deeply disturbed by this. There are so many things wrong here, its hard to begin to even number all of them.

Why does the archdiocese permit or perhaps even encourage this? Who is checking the schools to ensure that pantheism, eastern mysticism, new age, homosexuality, false religions are not being taught?Judging from these works no one.

And yet, the bishops of America will be gathering in Orlando over the fourth of July weekend with Catholic “leaders” from around the country to figure out whats wrong and how to get Catholics back in the Church. Seriously? You have to have a four-day session to figure that out.

How about stop teaching heresy in the schools and plastering up blasphemous paintings inside the cathedrals? Why these bishops are not terrified of going to Hell is the greatest mystery on earth. They have corrupted the little ones for nearly four generations now. If the so-called Catholic leaders who have been privately invited dont stand up and oppose this sort of thing then they too will be held accountable for not declaring the truth.

This is evil. Period. And how dare the clergy allow this to happen.

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In response to Tim Martin, God exists – Eureka Times Standard

Posted: May 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Tim Martin claims God isnt listening. Without a direct pipeline to God, how would Tim know that, especially since, as an atheist, he claims God doesnt exist? If God is a non-existent entity then He probably lacks hearing aids. Tim is a talented writer. Where does he get that gift from? Possibly God. As a columnist, Tim has written about his love for animals. Wheres that from? God is love; therefore love is of God. Tim is happy as an atheist, yet happiness may also be derived from the Almighty an apparently forgiving source.

Maybe humor also derives from God, who may be amused that those who deny His existence also blame His non-existence for not listening …

Everywhere is evidence of the presence of a magnificent creative force, of intricate and awe-inspiring design, of profound beauty in nature. Pantheism is an ancient belief system meaning God in Nature. Most importantly, despite the persistence of evil, abiding goodness prevails as the chief component of the natural order of the universe.

Its true that prayer in itself may not always change a situation to our liking, yet sincere petitioning to God has within it the capacity to change if not the desired outcome the prayer, the one who prays.

Here is a two-line poem dedicated to Tim Martin:

Just because we cant see the air

Doesnt mean it isnt there.

And a prediction: Non-believers may sometime be surprised, preferably in a good way!

Claudia Nelson, Hydesville

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A war of opposites: Rubbishing Hinduism’s eclectic nature, Hindutva treats any expression of dissent as sedition – Times of India (blog)

Posted: May 2, 2017 at 10:48 pm

I am in search, in this surcharged environment, of the asli (true) Hindu.

There is a wide chasm between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva is a political ideology with intent to capture power. It is in no way related to Hinduism, which is a way of life. Hindutva today is nothing but Hindu fundamentalism. It has no relationship with core Hindu philosophical tenets.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a follower of Swami Vivekananda. The latters enunciation of the core values of Hinduism might help in resisting the denigration of Hindu values through the ideology of Hindutva. In 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions Swami Vivekananda, when commenting on various religions, stated each must assimilate the spirit of the other, and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

Hindutva is an ideology practised by RSS pracharaks who hold the reins of power and the self-proclaimed vigilantes who seek to represent its moral force. Both are attempting to destroy the individuality and the spirit behind those who embrace other religions.

For Swami Vivekananda, Help and not fight, Assimilation and not Destruction, Harmony and Peace and not Dissension should be the banner of every religion. Events of the recent past suggest that Hindutvas essential characteristics are fuelling disharmony and discord.

Swami Vivekanandas dream was to harmonise Vedanta, the Bible and Quran, because he believed that all religions are but expressions of Oneness and that each individual has the right to embrace his religion and choose the path that suits him best. Those who espouse the cause of Hindutva have not understood this meaning of Hinduism. If we continue along this path, the asli Hindu might develop traits that have no resemblance to the tenets of his religion.

Swamijis prophetic words about food and eating habits have a definite bearing on protagonists of Hindutva entering into the kitchens of our households. Swamiji said There is a danger of our religion getting into the kitchen. Our God is the cooking-pot, and our religion is, Dont touch me, I am Holy If this goes on for another century, every one of us will be in a lunatic asylum.

These thoughts enunciated at the end of the 19th century should have guided mankind when embracing the 21st century. What we are witnessing today is ideologues of the 21st century harking back to 18th century mindsets. Our governments are now going to decide on our food habits.

Over the years, the Indian mind symbolised the spirit of tolerance. Many religions and cultures have flourished here. Christianity and Islam have found ample space to walk the path they wish to take. Diverse ideas and thoughts have been freely exchanged. Hindu intellectuals flourished within the courtyard of emperor Akbar. Sufi mystics have influenced lives of people over centuries. Yet, Hindutva seeks to efface the past and to build a divisive future.

The eclectic nature of Hinduism is lost on muscular Hindutva preachers. Even its diverse cultural dimensions are not fully appreciated by those who carry the badge of a pan-Indian cultural identity. Hindutva has a fascist, nationalistic and hegemonic dimension. Its diktats are patriarchal and casteist. The idea of a monolithic Hindu religion is unsuited to the inherent diversity of the people of India.

Hindutva as a movement bristles with rage at the slightest criticism. The asli Hindu is merely a community without a sacred scripture or a founder. What needs protection are the values inherent in the diversity within Hinduism; not the values that Hindutva seeks to impose. Hindutva must not encourage the wanton loss of human lives in an attempt to protect the holy cow.

Hinduism, a loosely knit faith in which all can flourish is antithetical to the concept of a narrow set of beliefs, doctrines and practices. Both pantheism and agnosticism are part of the Hindu religion. Millions of Gods and Goddesses are part of the Hindu faith. The Hindutva narrative has no appetite for multiple strands of faith, schools of philosophy and diversity of tradition.

Violence and untruth have no place in the practice of Hinduism. Mahatma Gandhis fundamental beliefs rested on two pillars: non-violence and Truth. RSS and the Hindutva they espouse believe in rumour mongering.

The spate of violence recently unleashed has made us insecure. Our prime ministers silence on statements offering ransom to behead a chief minister is disturbing. Those unwilling to embrace Hindutva are asked to leave the country. The violence at Una, Dadri and the most recent incident at Alwar are all examples of levels of intolerance not witnessed in this country for years.

Dissent is treated as sedition. Those responsible for law and order silently watch Hindutva brigades create disorder. Events in JNU and University of Hyderabad vitiate the environment of learning by stirring passions. Networks in the social media have become platforms of abuse hurled by those paid to do so. Security forces are sent to academic campuses and protagonists of Hindutva are given a free run for attacking protesting students.

Yoga symbolises discipline. Hindutva elements espouse the cause of yoga and have demonstrated levels of indiscipline not seen before in recent times. Cultural superiority through Hindutva is confused with what represents true culture.

The asli Hindu is silent. It is time for him to stand up and make his presence felt.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Why I Had To Make a Clean Break With Christianity – Patheos – Patheos (blog)

Posted: April 27, 2017 at 1:49 am

Look around the Big Tent of Paganism and youll find connections to virtually every ancestral tradition on Earth. Celtic Reconstructionism and my own Druidry draw on what we know of our ancestors in Britain, Ireland, Gaul, and other places where Celtic culture was prevalent. Heathenry and Asatru draw on the heritage of the Germanic peoples. Kemeticism attempts to revive the beliefs and practices of the ancient Egyptians.

We have to revive and restore these practices because Paganism in Europe and European-dominated countries was interrupted by the near-universal conversion to Christianity. While Christianitys influence has diminished since the Enlightenment and especially over the last hundred years, it remains a dominant force in our culture.

But Christianity was never a wholly new thing in any of its forms. It has mythical roots in Judaism, intellectual roots in Greek philosophy, and folklore roots in every land in which it was established. Some pagan beliefs and practices survived, but they were Christianized. They had to be in medieval and early modern Europe it was impossible to be anything other than a Christian (or possibly a Jew, in some places, at some times, for a while).

These survivals and continuations include magic a lot of magic.

Magic is part of our legacy as humans. It is something weve always done, from the earliest cave paintings to spells in verse to the sigils of chaos magic. Christianity couldnt wipe out magic, it just changed its forms.

Right now were seeing a revival of some Christian magic, particularly on the high magic side. Sorcery and grimoire magic seem to be gaining in popularity. Or maybe Im just paying too much attention to Gordon White, but it sure seems that way to me.

To be clear: this isnt magic worked with the approval of Pope Francis or Pat Robertson there is no such thing. This is magic worked within a monotheist worldview (even if their one God is very different from the God of orthodox Christianity) and drawing on Christian traditions, forms, and structures. Its not all that different from what many of the Revival Druids did and certainly not very different from the magic of Dion Fortune.

Magic doesnt care what you believe magic cares what you do. Work this magic properly and youll get results.

But I cant do this magic. I had to make a clean break with Christianity and I cant go back, not even to work magic with the aid of powerful spirits.

Christians have been arguing over definition of real Christianity ever since the death of the historical Jesus (who I think existed, but that cant be proved and its far from certain). There were many Christianities in its first couple of centuries. Despite the rise of the Catholic Church in the post-Constantine years, Christianity has never been one thing.

Today we have Catholics and Orthodox who claim to be an unbroken line back to the apostles, Protestants who claim to a be a restored and reformed version of the apostolic church, liberal Christians who claim to follow the teachings of the real Jesus, and countless variations on all of the above.

In 2014 Gordon White of Rune Soup made a strong case for a reasonable and non-exclusive Christian context for magic:

the churchy components of Joses Cyprian may represent an emotive barrier for a lot of todays occultists. This is a pity. You all know how I feel about the Church (Goldman Sachs with more paedophiles). But you also know how I feel about the saints. (Not just a modesty curtain for savage gods, but also an uninterrupted continuation of at least three different strands of European customs pertaining to the Dead). Only a moron would confuse a criminal bank run for and by paedophiles for the activities of a grandmotherly herbalist in a Venezuelan barrio.

We need to have more sophisticated eyes. Because there is that which remains.

Gordon isnt wrong, and if I had discovered this at age 10 or so things might have worked out very differently for me. But I didnt.

This was Southern low church Evangelical Protestantism: born again Christianity with an never-ending emphasis on the eternal torments awaiting those who werent saved and the Rapture that could happen at any moment. The people in the church were mostly good folks who meant well, but their theology was bad and questioning it was unimaginable.

At a very early age I realized it didnt make sense, but I didnt have the context to challenge it. By the time I started learning about other religions and the real history of Christianity, it was too late the tentacles of fundamentalism were firmly lodged in my subconscious.

I became a liberal Christian, then a universalist, then a Pagan, but the tentacles of fundamentalism were still there, still frightening me, and still keeping me from becoming who and what I wanted to be. I had to develop a new intellectual foundation, but I could not exorcise my inner fundamentalist with reason alone. It took a good and powerful religious experience to crowd out the remnants of fundamentalism.

My inner fundamentalist is powerless and dying but it is not dead. I dont think it can truly die as long as Im alive those experiences were too strong for too many years too early in my life. And if I feed that spirit, it will revive.

This isnt like being an alcoholic who cant be around alcohol for fear of having a relapse. I occasionally go the Methodist church where my wife sings in the choir. I read Christian bloggers and writers from time to time. Im still interested in the historical origins of Christianity. And I have many Christian friends and relatives who are good people doing good work, both individually and in their churches. None of this causes me any problems.

But theres a huge difference between intellectually exploring Christianity and practicing Christianity, even if that practice takes a very unorthodox, very unfundamentalist approach. The magic of Catholic saints is nothing like the hellfire and brimstone of Baptist preachers, and for many people that difference is enough to accept the good and reject the bad.

But if I open the door through deep magical and devotional practice, my inner fundamentalist will start to rise from the dead. It didnt respond to reason before and it wont respond to reason now this Christianity isnt that Christianity wont mean a thing.

Nothing is worth letting that fear back into my life. I will not open that door, not even for access to two thousand years of magic.

In general I have not found the Many Gods to be jealous. They want what They want, but as long as They get Theirs They dont seem to care who else or Who else you work with.

But if I start working within a system that says (officially, if not always in practice) that the Gods are not really Gods, something is going to change. I would be moving away from a polytheist religious worldview and toward a monotheist religious worldview. If I can see what will happen if I crack open the door that leads to fundamentalism, so can They.

And They are never eager to give up a worshipper, a follower, and a priest.

Last year I caught some flack from the occultist crowd for my post Why I Dont Work With Saint Cyprian. They complained that I presented a very superficial picture of St. Cyprian and that I misplaced a magical spirit in a very specific, very limited view of Christianity that was not his own. Those complaints were valid. And comparing Cyprianic magic to cultural appropriation was a poor rhetorical strategy on my part.

But they also missed the point:

Im not trying to work magic in a Christian context. Im trying to create a Pagan and polytheist context for the ecstatic, oracular, magical, devotional, ancestral religion Im practicing along with many others. While I occasionally dip my toe into the waters of sorcery, at the end of the day Im a devotional polytheist who prefers to worship and work with the mightiest of spirits Gods.

Magic is a part of my religion, but my primary concern is religion, not magic.

The grimoire tradition has centuries of power built up in its methods. As with any tradition, diving deeply into the whole system will bring results faster and with more certainty than picking a bit here and a bit there. Thats why I rant against buffet-style Paganism.

But if much of the magic in the Christian tradition is pagan in origin (and it is), then it can be recovered and reclaimed for contemporary Pagans.

This is not easy. It takes a lot more than substituting Pagan names and terms for Christian names and terms. It requires reading the material carefully, figuring out what the writer was trying to do and how they were trying to do it something thats doubly hard for those of us who cant read the original texts and are dependent on translations. We have to find the Christian elements, which arent always obvious the ancient Mediterranean world was a religious melting pot and what appears to be Christian may actually be, say, Greco-Egyptian in origin. Then we have to make a guess as to what the pre-Christian version looked like, and revise it to be intelligible to us here and now.

Then we have to try it out, see how it works, and hope it doesnt blow up in our faces.

Theres a phrase thats popular among many religious liberals (a group that includes the majority of the Pagan community): there are many paths up the same mountain.

I do not believe this is true. While at the ultimate level I am a pantheist (probably, depending on how you define pantheism) a more accurate phrase would be many paths up many mountains. The particular form of Pagan polytheism I practice is very different from Christianity. Im going to focus my efforts on my religion and not on someone elses religion even if they have some cool magical tech.

So if youre a Christian and youre envious of your Pagan friends, know that theres a long tradition of magic within your religion, even if the Pope or your preacher tells you not to do it. If youre a Pagan with no deep religious baggage, you may be able to work with this magic as a Pagan survival despite its Christian context.

But I cant. The only way I could escape fundamentalism, and the only way I can be sure it never returns to my life, was to make a clean break with Christianity.

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Hitler Was Not a Christian – Splice Today

Posted: April 15, 2017 at 5:22 pm

Although he posed as one for propaganda purposes.

Adolf Hitler was not a Christian. The German dictator was a pantheist.Thats the argument put forward by the new book Hitlers Religion: the Twisted Beliefs That Drove the Third Reichby Richard Weikart, published by Regnery. The book comes along at a good time, offering penetrating research in a milieu where everyone from the alt-right to Black Lives Matter is accused of being Hitler. The Fuhrer is the go-to intellectual comfort food for lazy, virtue-signaling hacks.

Pantheism is the idea that all of nature is God, Weikart, a history professor at California State University, explained to me in a recent interview. Because Hitler thought that nature was God, he thought that following the laws of nature was doing the divine will.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, nature is a creation of God, not God himself. According to Weikart, Hitler believed that God was found in the power of nature, particularly the violent Darwinian struggle for survival. Hitler thought that destroying people he thought as weak or inferior was in perfect accordance with what nature does, Weikart says. After all, in nature, animals get killed, and certain species go extinct. Hitler thought the same thing should go on in human society because he thought certain races were inferior to others, so he thought destroying them was a good thing. This kind of ruthless theology can be found on both extremes of modern politics, from the laissez-faire survival-of-the fittest rants of free market conservatives to the abortion on demand evil of the left (theres also alt-right maestro Richard Spencers sickening pro-abortion musings).

Discerning Hitlers religion is a complicated task. The German dictator often spoke about what religious beliefs he didnt believe in, but never clearly stated which ones he did. He rejected Christianity but also atheism, mysticism, occultism, and neo-paganism. Hitler would often publicly claim to be Christian, even saying in 1922, My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. Yet he also said the following: The Christian-Jewish pestilence is surely approaching its end now. It is simply dreadful, that a religions even been possible, that literally eats its God in Holy Communion.

Hitler of course in public at times did claim to be Christian for propaganda purposes, Weikart says. But if you look more deeply Hitler very often in private was speaking very contemptuously of Christianity. In Mein Kampf he actually calls Christianity spiritual terror, which was destroying the ancient Greco-Roman world. Hitler loved the Greco-Roman world, which he thought was produced by Aryans. He thought Christianity had come along and done a disservice by undermining the Greco-Roman world.

Hitlers Religion reveals pantheism was an idea that was popular in the culture of Austria and Germany in the decades leading up to and in the years following Hitlers birth in 1889. It was part of the Romantic movement that arose in the 18th century as a reaction to the Enlightenment. Pantheism is an open secret in Germany, poet Henrich Heine wrote in 1835.

While admitting that Hitler never came out and declared himself a pantheist, Weikart argues that the German leader fit most comfortably in a scientific and materialistic view of pantheism, and often referred to nature as God and vice versa. To Hitler, says Weikart, Evil and sin was anything that produced biological degeneration.

Despite this evidence, Weikart says, the idea that Hitler was a Christian still pops up in liberal arguments and on atheist websites. One of the reasons they argue that Hitler was a Christian is that they are atheists or agnostics and want to bash Christianity. Theyre wanting to show the evils of Christianity, so making Christianity responsible for the Holocaust meets their idea about Christianity representing all the evils in the world.

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Hitler Was Not a Christian – Splice Today

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Winter is coming; help me turn yarn into warmth – Port Huron Times Herald

Posted: April 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

TalkBack 8:48 a.m. ET April 11, 2017

No Name: About two years ago, I made an appeal through this column for yarn. This yarn was used to make hundreds of winter hats for various charities. The guarantee is that none of these hats are ever sold. While we are at the end of this winter season, I will continue making hats in preparation for winter of 2017. Once again, I am asking for yarn. I hope that as were doing our spring cleaning, well find something that will help with this worthy cause. Please phone me at (810) 385-1131. Thank you very much in advance.

No Name: I see the Kimball Township offices will be closed Friday, April 14, in observance of Good Friday, which is a holiday of no secular significance. Can government offices close to observe strictly religious holidays?

No Name: On the heated storage for boats: Did you think that anybody would allow a man named Mr. Cain an IMS, International Modern School system, that is inclusive with atheism, pantheism, humanism, communism, all these isms under the sun, which is a technological advanced school which always fail because kids are inquisitive, did you ever think the city would say no to that? Just the fact that hes going to raze 150 old trees growing on that beautiful property, you ever think theyd say no to that? You know why? Because this town really doesnt care about its children, its just a free-for-all for anybody to throw their theology at these young people that just come out of the blue.

Again, that electronic device on the pole near Crull school belongs to Verizon. It is used to manage cellular data. In Verizons case, IMS stands for IP Multimedia Subsystem. It doesnt stand for the name of an English-language school in Cairo, Egypt.

No Name: To the limey about St. Pattys Day: You can sit down and you can download Irish slavery. The Irish were the first slaves in the United States, going back to the 16th century.

Mrs. Leeter: I wish to thank a member of the River Church for buying our coffee and donuts at Tim Hortons yesterday. It was greatly appreciated and we will pay it forward.

No Name: I was in town recently for services and it sure does show that they have cleaned up the city and the buildings are looking really good. Can you tell me what goes behind the filtration plant? It looks like all them fishermen live back there in tents while theyre fishing down there. They look like a family camping. Is there a place you rent to stay behind the filtration plant for a week?

When it is cold and windy, the fishermen set up tents as windbreaks. Camping is prohibited.

No Name: Now that you mention smoking in front of the doorway, whats with this smoking porch at the Blue Water Convention Center? That cant be legal. I went to that horrible craft show there and there must have been 40 idiots out smoking on that balcony on the east side of the building. Tell me whose idea that was.

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Families leave thousands of cremated remains behind – Bellingen Courier Sun

Posted: at 8:26 am

1 Apr 2017, 10:30 p.m.

???The sign in the ash storage room of the Sydney crematorium said it all: “Family to collect at a later date.”

???The sign in the ash storage room of the Sydney crematorium said it all: “Family to collect at a later date.”

Bereaved families are leaving the ashes of their loved ones behind in boxes in funeral homes and crematoria at a greater rate than ever before, according to NSW funeral directors and industry sources.

About 67 per cent of the 56,000 people who die in NSW are cremated, and only a third of them are “memorialised” at a cemetery, according to Crematoria and Cemeteries Agency NSW (CCA), the government body set up in 2014 to oversee the industry.

Its figures on the “disposition of ashes” (the volume of ashes scattered at a cemetery or interred) shows only 32.5 per cent are interred, for example in a niche wall, or scattered in a cemetery.

As a result, thousands of boxes of cremated remains are believed to be sitting uncollected and forgotten in funeral directors’ offices and crematoria.

Many families choose to scatter cremated remains across favourite beaches, shoot them into space, or sprinkle them (often surreptitiously, as most councils require permission) on sporting fields and ovals, vineyards and backyards or just leave them in an urn on a mantelpiece.

At one large crematorium in Sydney, which handles 1200 people a year, a storage room contained about 800 boxes of remains.

Despite repeated efforts by staff to contact the families, some ashes date back to 2003.

A collection of smaller boxes on a shelf contained the cremated remains of infants, babies who died only a few days or weeks after birth. The uncollected ashes of one baby date back to June, 2004.

An executive who showed us the facility said the crematorium staff attempted to contact families to ask if they’d like the ashes or if they should be scattered on consecrated grounds, which is done once a month.

Andrew Crook, who owns The Little Funeral Company and previously worked for a large funeral company, makes a huge effort to return ashes to families after a cremation, often driving around Sydney with the ashes in the boot of his car only to be thwarted by families’ lack of interest.

The trend reflects a breakdown in families, and the increasing number of people who live and die alone or are alienated from friends and community, he said.

“It is just really sad,” Mr Crook said. “I have had to do funerals where there is no money, no family, and they are on their third or fourth wife, the kids don’t talk to each other, and at the end of the day you are just left holding the wreckage of someone’s life.”

The chief executive of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Graham Boyd, said sometimes families were too sad to collect the ashes. “One father told me why he did not collect his young boy’s ashes because … his grief was too great to face the reality that his young son had died.”

Mr Boyd argues the rate of memorialisation is more than 8 per cent higher than reflected in the CCA’s figures, and varies widely from cemetery to cemetery.

Mr Boyd said only small percentage of families didn’t collect ashes. “Whenever we scatter or bury such ashes which have not been collected, we place rose petals with them and we, for that moment in time, become the deceased families,” he said

He has written to the CCA to say these numbers don’t include the number of ashes that were scattered on existing graves. For instance, about 250 ashes were placed in existing graves in a year when 3007 cremations had taken place at its crematoria at Woronora and the eastern suburbs It was common for families who chose to cremate a relative to dispose of these ashes in the grave of another family member who had been buried at the cemetery.

The practice of scattering ashes has grown so much – even among Catholics, who are strongly urged to opt for burial – that the Vatican last year issued guidelines saying ashes shouldn’t be kept at home or divided among family members. It was not permitted to scatter ashes in the air, land or sea because it would give the appearance of “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism”, the guidelines by the Congregation for the Faith said.

Many families are also opting for inexpensive no-attendance funerals. It is common for these ashes not to be collected.

While the number of deaths across Australia will double to 300,000 by 2051, IbisWorld forecast that funeral and cremationrevenues would grow slowly, at about 2.5 per cent a year. “Consumers have been increasingly choosing cremations or basic funeral packages over the more expensive burial options,” it said.

About two thirds of people in NSW choose cremation, although the rate varies across NSW. Photo: Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW

???

The story Families leave thousands of cremated remains behind first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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