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Universalism

Welcome to Salvation Mountain by slworking2

Image by slworking2 via Flickr

1 – In some areas of Christian theology universalism is the belief that everyone will be saved in the fullness of time. Because God is loving, merciful and understanding, some Christians do not believe that God would permit an everlasting hell. Recent versions of this theology exclude for need for Jesus and argue that all persons will be saved in all religions, paths and life-situations.

2 – Another religious application of the idea of universalism is that all human beings need some kind of religion, its rites and moral code.

3 – In philosophy universals are apparently changeless ideals, like Plato‘s forms. Philosophers have also debated whether universals actually exist in themselves or simply as a product of language (i.e. conceptualism).

Related Posts » Origen, William of Ockham


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Untouchables

Untouchable village III by Mira John

Untouchable village III by Mira John via Flickr

Traditionally, the so-called “untouchables” are the social outcasts in Hindu India.

Untouchables have been marginalized to the extent of not belonging even to the lowest (Sudras) of the four recognized castes.

Still loathed by many as ritually impure, untouchables are considered outsiders and physical contact is often avoided by members of higher castes.

Mohatma Gandhi decried this state of affairs, calling the untouchables harijans (“the children of God”). Likewise many bhakti (devotional) saints, like the Bauls of West Bengal, protest through song and openly affiliate with and embrace the so-called untouchables within their inner circle.

English: A school of untouchables near Bangalo...

A school of untouchables near Bangalore, by Lady Ottoline Morrell (died 1938). See source website for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In contemporary India attitudes are evolving toward a more enlightened, inclusive view but caste-based discrimination persists, just as class-based discrimination is alive and unwell in most corners of the word.

The practice of untouchability was made illegal by the Constitution of India in 1950 and the former untouchables, being a mixed population, now call themselves Dalit.

Related Posts » Brahmin, Caste System, Kshatriya, Sudra, Vaisna


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Upanisads

Srimad Guru Adi Shankaracharya

Srimad Guru Adi Shankaracharya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Upanisads (Skt. “sit near the teacher”) are Hindu religious texts (circa 1000-600 BCE) known as part of the Vedanta (Skt. “the end of the Veda“).

As hindu-blog points out, the Upanisads are based on a longstanding oral tradition of uncertain duration, making precise dating extremely difficult:

The Upanishads and Vedas were rendered orally and were passed on for generations before being written. Nobody is sure about the actual dates of these texts.¹

But there is some debate here, and some scholars say these scriptures became formally known as the Upanisads around 800 CE.

The Upanisads are premised on the idea that a sacred teacher (guru) imparts esoteric mystical knowledge to those ready to learn. This type of learning is said to be mostly experiential instead of conceptual.

The texts contain several key Hindu images. One of the most accessible, found in the Mundaka-Upanisad, is that of two birds sitting on a tree. One bird eats the sweet fruit on the branches while the other watches. The eater symbolizes the active, temporal and perishable aspects of creation, while the watcher symbolizes an immovable, omniscient and eternal Self.

In another important Upanisad, the Katha-Upanisad, a young man, Nachiketa, seeks the wisdom of immortality by entering into dialogue with his teacher Yama (death). Yama initially advises Nachiketa to pursue anything else but this particular question because of its inherent difficulties. But the young man persists and, after recognizing his sincerity and determination to achieve ultimate truth, Yama begins to instruct Nachiketa on the nature of the eternal self, as he understands it.

English: Photograph of Max Muller as a young man

Photograph of Max Muller as a young man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the teaching devices Yama uses is the “chariot analogy.” The following excerpt is from Max Müller‘s translation:

‘Know the Self to be sitting in the chariot, the body to be the chariot, the intellect (buddhi) the charioteer, and the mind the reins.’

‘The senses they call the horses, the objects of the senses their roads. When he (the Highest Self) is in union with the body, the senses, and the mind, then wise people call him the Enjoyer.’

‘He who has no understanding and whose mind (the reins) is never firmly held, his senses (horses) are unmanageable, like vicious horses of a charioteer.’

‘But he who has understanding and whose mind is always firmly held, his senses are under control, like good horses of a charioteer.’

‘He who has no understanding, who is unmindful and always impure, never reaches that place, but enters into the round of births.’

‘But he who has understanding, who is mindful and always pure, reaches indeed that place, from whence he is not born again.’²

Altogether there are over 200 Upanisads, but not all are seen as equally important.

¹ http://earthpages.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/upanisads/#comments

² http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe15/

Related Posts »  Atman, AUM, Hinduism, Max Müller, Sutra, Veda, Vedanta


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Uranus

You are Here by Chris Christner

You are Here by Chris Christner

Uranus (Gk: Ouranos [úːranos] = “sky” or “heaven“)

In astronomy Uranus is the 7th planet orbiting our sun, between Saturn and Neptune.

In Greek myth Uranus personifies the sky or possibly the Greek view of Heaven, although most scholars emphasize the idea of the physical sky.

Uranus’ cultic worship is rare, but Hesiod makes ample reference to him in the Theogony. With Gaia, Uranus’ offspring are the Titans, the Cyclops and the Hecatonchires.

Not exactly the best father, Uranus generally despised his offspring and thrust them down to Tartarus, a dark and gloomy underworld. Uranus was later overpowered and castrated by his son Cronus, on the insistence of Gaia. This act separated Heaven and Earth.

Mutilasi Uranus

Mutilasi Uranus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some variants of the myth say that Uranus’ castration by Cronus led to the birth of Aphrodite because his genitals fell to and churned up the sea.

Pierre Grimal notes another variant of the Uranus tradition recorded by Diodorus Siculus. Here Uranus is portrayed as the first king of the Atlantes. The Atlantes apparently were a fair, God-fearing race living on the shores by an ocean. In this version of the myth, Uranus was also a skilled astronomer. He devised the first calendar that predicted major events. After fathering 45 children and receiving divine honors at his death, he eventually came to be identified with the sky.¹

Related posts » Aphrodite, Aquarius, Athena, Furies, Hesiod, Titans

¹ Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology p. 463.


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Uriel

Katrine De Candole as Uriel in Dominion – Image via Tumblr

Uriel is one of the four Catholic Archangels, along with Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. He is not mentioned in the Bible but appears in various apocryphal works—that is, texts similar to the Bible but not fully accepted by a major Christian religion.

Occult and paranormal writers¹ have picked up on the apocryphal writings about Uriel and added their own, perhaps, fanciful interpretations about him (or her).

A similar doubt has been raised about the Catholic interpretation of Uriel. Non-Catholics say that many Catholic teachings are non-biblical, humanly created fictions.

This has contributed to an ongoing debate between Catholics and non-Catholics about the alleged authority of the Catholic Tradition. Contemporary Catholics believe (or appear to believe) that the Catholic faith articulates the authentic teachings of Christ as given to the apostles and recorded in scripture. They also believe (or appear to believe) that these teachings are preserved, present and developed through a legitimate and holy apostolic tradition. Again, Non-Catholics tend to see this belief as spurious.

Uriel is also mentioned in works of fiction, such as John Milton‘s Paradise Lost, where the sharp-sighted angel acts as God’s eyes and helps Raphael to defeat the pagan god, Adramelech.

¹ A broader scope is outlined here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriel

Related Posts » Angels, Catholicism


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Utopia

Image via Tumblr

Utopia [Gk: not a place] is a word coined by St. Thomas More in 1516, in a book by the same title. Utopia depicts an ideal society created on a fictional island in the Atlantic ocean. More’s friend Erasmus helped him edit the work.

The Oxford English Dictionary looks back to 1551 with:

1551 (title), A fruteful and pleasaunt Worke of the beste state of a publyque weale, and of the newe yle called Utopia; written in Latine by Syr Thomas More knyght [publ. 1516], and translated into Englyshe by Raphe Robynson.

The word was later used by the French writer François Rabelais (c. 1494-1553) for the name of an ideal island. And many others followed suit.¹

Ari Moore adds: “A similar and equally interesting term is “eutopia,” meaning, “a good place.”²

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia

² http://earthpages.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/utopia/#comments

Related Posts » Atlantis


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Vedanta

English: Photograph of Radhakrishnan taken at ...

Renowned Indian scholar, Radhakrishnan, at a reception in Stockholm, 1949. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vedanta is a school of Hindu religion and philosophy and a Sanskrit term meaning “the end of the Veda.” Its three main texts are:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana (injunctive texts), and the Śruti prasthāna (the starting point of revelation)
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya prasthana or Yukti prasthana (logical text)
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana prasthana (practical text), and the Smriti prasthāna (the starting point of remembered tradition)¹

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanta

Related Posts » Veda, Atman, Hinduism, Radhakrishnan, Sankara, Upanisads

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