Search Results for Islam
Islam [Arabic: surrender] is the religion of Muslims, based on the text of the Koran (or Qur’an).
Islam contains 5 pillars of fundamental belief and practice:
- Ash-Shahada – the belief in only one God.
- Salat – daily prayer, with body facing Mecca, taking place at sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nighttime.
- Sawm – fasting that is obligatory at puberty and also during the 9th month of the Islamic year (Ramadan), believed to be the period when the Koran was written. Eating and drinking is prohibited from dawn to sunset during Ramadan.
- Zakat - giving alms to the less fortunate, the amount being 2.5% of one’s total income.
- Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Moslems are obliged to take at least once in a lifetime. Hajj ideally is taken on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the Islamic year.
The Sunni branch of Islam is comprised of about 85% of contemporary Muslims and is often regarded as orthodox form of this religion.
The Shi’ite branch, mostly in Iran, Persia and partly in Iraq, represent about 10% of today’s Muslims.
Historically speaking, the Shi’ites and Sunnis split over a disagreement about the legitimacy of Mohammad’s successors (Caliphs)—not entirely unlike the Protestant refusal to recognize the authority of the Catholic Papacy.
The mystically based, unorthodox branch of Sufism arose partly as a reaction to the beliefs and standardized practices of orthodox Islam. In response, aspects of orthodox Islam have been critical of Sufism, especially in regard to the Sufi belief that a person can be “one” with God.
- The Muslim Next Door (thechristianpundit.org)
- Stephen Schwartz: Islamic Sufism and Jewish Kabbalah: Shining a Light on Their Hidden History (huffingtonpost.com)
- ANALYSIS: Seeking a Spiritual Guide (thinkaloudtoday.wordpress.com)
- Why are Pakistan’s ‘moderate’ clerics defending Salman Taseer’s murderer? | Hamad Ali (guardian.co.uk)
- What are these pillars suposed to do in islam (wiki.answers.com)
- Ibn al-Rwanadi’s concluding thoughts on the history of Islam. (paulmarcelrene.wordpress.com)
- Reblog: Saudi Arabia: Anticipation of Hajj (americanbedu.com)
- SUFISM: Tariqahs (thinkaloudtoday.wordpress.com)
- What is an interesting Islam fact (wiki.answers.com)
Five Pillars of Islam » Islam
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Around the 6th century CE Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite‘s The Celestial Hierarchy outlined three groups of hierarchically arranged angels. And angels are mentioned in the Jewish Kabbala as inhabiting seven heavenly halls.
Both Jewish and Christian (especially Catholic and Baptist) cosmologies differentiate angels from gods—unlike gods, angels are never worshipped. Instead angels are revered or called upon as beings created by God.
However, the study of world religions is far from easy. And misunderstandings and uncertainties lead many to question this difference. For example, some gods in the Zoroastrian Avesta or the Hindu pantheon are worshipped as deities subservient to or representing a single God. And some casual observers liken these to angels without asking if the character and function of angels and gods could possibly differ.
In a somewhat Christianized Neoplatonism we find that Proclus (4th century CE) adapts ancient Greek philosophy in relation to otherworldly beings:
In the commentaries of Proclus (4th century, under Christian rule) on the Timaeus of Plato, Proclus uses the terminology of “angelic” (aggelikos) and “angel” (aggelos) in relation to metaphysical beings. According to Aristotle, just as there is a First Mover, so, too, must there be spiritual secondary movers.¹
Mystically inclined Christians tend to believe that angels are slightly more dignified than human beings, as evident in the Old Testament:
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:6-8 NIV).
Gnostics, on the other hand, generally regard human beings as superior to angels. For Gnostics, angels serve God by serving humanity.
Jewish apocalyptic literature tells the story of the fall of the angel Satan – the author of all lies and evil – and his dark angels in terms of their unwillingness to humble themselves before mankind. And Jesus Christ sees Satan fall in the New Testament story:
I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18).
Contemporary beliefs about angels take a different tone from the more traditional understanding. Some writers suggest that the warm, loving presence of angelic beings can be felt in every part of the body, almost like a romantic, sensual relationship.
This idea is found in the 19th century novel Ardath: The Story of a Dead Self by Marie Corelli (1889):
And by and by, as each mellifluous stanza sounded softly on his ears, a strangely solemn tranquility swept over him,–a most soothing halcyon calm, as though some passing angel’s hand had touched his brow in benediction…Ah! ’tis a glittering pathway in the skies whereon men and the angels meet and know each other! …she stretched out her hands toward him: “Speak to me, dearest one!” she murmured wistfully–”Tell me,–am I welcome?” “O exquisite humility!–O beautiful maiden-timid hesitation! Was she,–even she, God’s Angel, so far removed from pride, as to be uncertain of her lover’s reception of such a gift of love? Roused from his half-swooning sense of wonder, he caught those gentle hands, and laid them tenderly against his breast,–tremblingly, and all devoutly, he drew the lovely, yielding form into his arms, close to his heart,–with dazzled sight he gazed down into that pure, perfect face, those clear and holy eyes shining like new- created stars beneath the soft cloud of clustering fair hair!
And yet Corelli also mentions the stunning beauty of evil angels:
His countenance, darkly threatening and defiant, was yet beautiful with the evil beauty of a rebellious and fallen angel.
Throughout history many believe they have been guided by a guardian angel.
St. Basil writes,
Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (Catholic Catechism, par 336).
The philosopher Leibniz (1646 – 1716) claimed that angels communicate with a universal language, and began to develop a universal symbolic language that would help human beings communicate among universities.²
The Roman Catholic catechism doesn’t place too much emphasis on angels but does affirm their existence as servants of God and man.
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession (Catholic Catechism, par 336).
Glorifying God, Catholic angels are said to be spiritual powers whose perfection – in contrast to Gnostic belief – surpasses that of human beings. Created by God, Catholic angels are inferior to Christ and the prophets but nearer to God, making them higher than human beings.
As for the contemporary notion that angels and aliens (ETs) are simply different cultural representations of the same basic essence, the American evangelist Billy Graham, among others, insists that angels and aliens are mutually exclusive.³
² Geert Lovink says “Leibniz also philosophized about a computer based on a binary numerical system. In 1679 he wrote, ”Despite its length, the binary system, in other words counting with 0 and 1, is scientifically the most fundamental system, and leads to new discoveries. When numbers are reduced to 0 and 1, a beautiful order prevails everywhere” (See “The Archeology of Computer Assemblage” 1992 at http://www.mediamatic.net/article-8664-en.html).
- Fallen Angel (reeablog.wordpress.com)
- “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” (markatstpauls.wordpress.com)
- When a Politician Lies, an Angel Gets His Wings #tgdn #tcot (politicalbrian.wordpress.com)
- Gaurdian angel? (tiaralewis67.wordpress.com)
- Chuck Missler: Return Of The Nephilim! The Biblical Perspective on the Modern UFO-Alien Phenomena! (socioecohistory.wordpress.com)
Allah is the Arabic word for God.
After a revelation given to the prophet Mohammed on Mount Hira, the name Allah referred to a single God. Previously the Arabic term Allah designated a supreme God among other gods.
The name was previously used by pagan Meccans as a reference to a creator deity, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia. The concepts associated with the term Allah (as a deity) differ among religious traditions. In pre-Islamic Arabia amongst pagan Arabs, Allah was not considered the sole divinity, having associates and companions, sons and daughters–a concept that was deleted under the process of Islamization. In Islam, the name Allah is the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name, and all other divine names are believed to refer back to Allah. Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent.
Muslims believe that Mohammed is the greatest among many prophets to have walked the earth. As a prophet, Muslims believe that Mohammed is not equal to God, but is Allah’s great messenger. Muslims also believe that the word Allah is not the same as the ninety-nine beautiful names of God mentioned in the Koran.² On this point ABU ABDILLAH comments:
the word ALLAH is a word or name of God that encompasses all the ninety-nine other names that he the beneficent has. all the names of god are unique ans signify his majestic being and existence and all of these attributes belong to one “ALLAH”³
Arabic Christians use the term Allah to refer to ‘God, the Father’ (Allah al-ab).
³ From this entry’s comments.
- Christians not surprised at Allah ban, it was Umno trying to gain favour, says BBC (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- Allah is not exclusive to Islam, says Emirati editorial (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- ‘Allah’ Means ‘God,’ Unless You’re a Christian in Malaysia (world.time.com)
- The Malaysian ‘Allah’ ban is about putting minorities in their place | Nesrine Malik (theguardian.com)
- Word ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to Islam (dinmerican.wordpress.com)
- Malaysia court rules non-Muslims can’t use ‘Allah’ (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Non-Muslims cannot use ‘Allah’: Malaysian court (ibnlive.in.com)
For Hindus Brahman is a concept that describes an eternal and entirely impersonal Ultimate Reality. In the Sanksrit, Brahman is the neuter form of Brahma. Many believe this Hindu idea is equivalent to the Jewish, Islamic and Christian conception of an absolute, single God. And the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism are said to be different manifestations of the one, all-pervading ground of Brahman.
The equivalency of the Hindu Brahman with the Middle Eastern monotheistic view of God may seem valid, especially when viewed from the surface. But a closer look reveals that, in some schools of Hinduism, the Brahman differs from the idea of God as depicted in other monotheistic religions. Sankara, for instance, believed the individual soul can merge and become one with the Brahman. Ramanuja, on the other hand, believed in the permanence of individual souls. Somewhat like Ramanuja’s interpretation, in orthodox Middle Eastern religions one doesn’t merge with but engages in a reverential “I-thou” relationship with God.
But the line between these two ways of understanding the individual and God is often blurred. Unorthodox Middle Eastern religions, for instance, exhibit beliefs similar to Sankara’s idea of the Brahman (e.g. Sufism). And the language used by Catholic saints such as St. Faustina Kowalska often approaches the idea of absolute unity, where a saint tries to be totally immersed in the Godhead.
At the same time, Catholic saints differ from some Hindu saints on one very important point. Catholics reflect and participate in the Divine glory without claiming to be identical to God’s all-pervading power and wisdom. This particular kind of humility is not found in some branches of Hinduism. For example, Hindu holy men like Sri Ramakrishna claim they are avatars, which is something very different from being a mere saint. Even the highest saint in Orthodox and Catholic Christianity, the Virgin Mary, is said to have been born without taint of original sin and, as such, reflects the Holy Trinity. But, contrary to the Hindu avatar, she does not claim to be identical to God
This much being said, many believe that Jesus Christ was a man who believed he was equal to God. But this claim differs from other religions in that Christians – that is, followers of Christ – do not believe that this kind of ultimate identity with God is possible for themselves. For Christians, Christ is unique. The one and only Son. All Christians (except for the Virgin Mary) are born with the taint of original sin. So they generally see themselves as works in progress instead of liberated, enlightened or incarnated super-beings.
In short, the Christian loves and has an ongoing relationship with God, but doesn’t believe him or herself to be God.
- Religious Reunification (nalonmit.wordpress.com)
- Mudgala Purana (ganeshaexperience.wordpress.com)
- Hinduism (hinduaikyavedi.wordpress.com)
- Maya (spiritualityandus.wordpress.com)
- Hinduism (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
- Christians As Brahmins New Method Of Religious Coversion (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- Why do we Consider Shridevi as our Greatest Divine Mother? (rudrakshayoga.wordpress.com)
- Ancient Wisdom or Perennial Philosophy – Part 1 (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
The Bauls are the wandering devotional minstrels of West Bengal, India. They belong to a longstanding bardic tradition that poetically glorifies God while rebuking worldly hypocrisy. Many practice left hand tantra. And living off alms, they are the peace, love and freedom “hippies” of West Bengal.
Today their timeless songs may be heard on trains and at public fairs called melas. The Bauls’ poetry had a tremendous influence on the Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, the outstanding Bengali figure who founded the open air, asram-style Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan.
But perhaps most important about the Bauls, they manage to accept people from both Islam (Sufism) and Hinduism (Vaishnavas) in a country where the tension between these two religious groups is usually so thick you could cut with a knife.
- Review: Two books on Bauls (enfolding.org)
- Tagore-Ocampo memorabilia reveals enigmatic relationship (vancouverdesi.com)
- Where a poet’s vision lives on (ndtv.com)
- Mamata Banerjee paints with artists (vancouverdesi.com)
- Tagore-Ocampo memorabilia reveals enigmatic relationship (indiavision.com)
Cults and Religions – What’s the difference?
Many debate the differences between religion and cults. Some say there’s no difference. In other words, religions are cults and cults are religions. But this kind of thinking arguably doesn’t do justice to the complexities of faith and the supernatural.
One difference seems to be that, in a cult, a charismatic leader is undeservedly glorified. Some say that this would make Abraham, Jesus Christ, Mohammad, Buddha and Mahavira cult leaders. But cults also display a relatively short longevity (after the leader dies, the cult dwindles away). This didn’t happen in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Jainism. So they can’t be called cults by that standard.
Another difference is that cults typically isolate new members from their families and unbelievers. Religions tend to be less drastic, with most (not all, mind you) accepting interfaith relationships.
Steven Hassan, an expert on cults, says
Since all destructive cults believe that the ends justify the means, they believe themselves to be above the law. As long as they believe that what they are doing is “right” and “just,” many of them think nothing of lying, stealing, cheating, or unethically using mind control to accomplish their ends. They violate, in the most profound and fundamental way, the civil liberties of the people they recruit. They turn unsuspecting people into slaves. ¹
Others say the difference between religions and cults is a matter of degree, especially with those religions and cults that attract, institutionally legitimize and reproduce authoritarian personality types and the legalistic beliefs and structured practices that these individuals participate in.
In these instances, religious or cultic affiliation apparently provides a convenient means for the psychologically immature to overlook unresolved emotional issues. Accordingly, some critics of religion maintain that religious affiliation provides a safe but essentially cowardly means for unleashing centuries of culturally and perhaps genetically inherited anger onto those who don’t wish to sacrifice their free will to the dictates of an institution. These critics say that most religious institutions must incorporate (or reject) new developments within the context of their limiting teachings and traditions.
This too, seems somewhat simplistic. For religious believers will often say they are fully choosing to cooperate with God’s will as progressively revealed to them within their particular religious organization. Apparently there’s a richness in their spiritual life that the secular critics just don’t get. And individuals belonging to orgqanizations seen by outsiders as cults often say the same thing. “You don’t understand…”
This can make it difficult to tell the difference between a religion and a cult. Meanwhile, many new religions are cropping up. And some say they’re nothing more than cheap covers created by creepy masterminds aiming to get tax breaks on donations made by gullible believers.
When in doubt, draw a chart
One of the definitions for “cult” in Merriam-Websters dictionary is: “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents.”
The following chart compares some of the main beliefs and practices found within religions and cults. This is not the final word. The items in each column don’t universally apply and many of the distinctions made in this chart are debatable. In keeping with the classical sociologist Max Weber, however, this chart offers ideal types.
Ideal types are generalized constructs. They don’t provide precise definitions and they’re not comprehensive. But they are thought-provoking. And that’s their main purpose.
Above chart elaborates on many sources, including Gregg Stebben’s Everything You Need to Know About Religion (The Pocket Professor, Denis Boyles ed., New York: Pocket Books, 1999: 25-26).
¹ Steven Hassan, Combatting Cult Mind Control, Rochester: Park Street Press, 1988, p. 36.
- The beauty and the pain of fundamentalist religion (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Scientology Founder’s Great Grandson Denounces Religion As A Dangerous Cult! (perezhilton.com)
- Granddaughter Of Westboro Baptist Church Founder Defects From Hate-Cult To Speak Out (VIDEO) (addictinginfo.org)
- Scientology should NOT be protected as a religion… (girlygirl.typepad.com)
- Mexican Authorities Raid Sex Slavery Cult Led By Reincarnated Christ Figure (disinfo.com)
- Claimed By The Cult: A Mother’s Fight To Rescue Her Son-Author Recounts Experience Saving Her Son From A Religious Cult (paramuspost.com)
- Author Geneva Paulson Recounts Experience Saving Her Son from a Religious Cult in New Book (prweb.com)
- “Cathy Don’t Go”: A religious cult’s lost new-wave gem (chicagoreader.com)
Contemporary Catholics believe that the Catholic faith follows the authentic teachings of Christ as given to the apostles and recorded in scripture, these teachings being preserved, present and developed through a legitimate and holy apostolic tradition.
Catholics comprise the single largest body of religious believers on the planet, and about half of all Christians.
The Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches together form the “Catholic Church”, or “Roman Catholic Church”, the world’s largest single religious body and the largest Christian church, comprising over half of all Christians (1.1 billion Christians of 2.1 billion) and nearly one-sixth of the world’s population.¹
- Catholic (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Islamists Kill Scores at Nigerian Roman Catholic Church (nationalreview.com)
- Joe Biden’s Religion: Catholicism or Leftism? (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
- 5 YouTube Videos that Turn Heads TOWARDS Catholicism (ignitumtoday.com)
- Catholicism: A Catholic View of Halloween (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
- Catholicism fast becoming the dominant US religion new poll shows — As Protestant numbers decline, Catholics now come center stage (irishcentral.com)
- Life on a prayer for Jimmy Savile (thecommentator.com)
- How the vice-presidential debate emphasized ‘single-issue’ Catholicism – Articles (religionnews.com)
- 50 years after Vatican II began (coffeeringstheology.wordpress.com)
- Catholicism and Sex Shops: The Struggle for Poland’s Soul (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
The definition of evil is informed by one’s core beliefs, and different kinds of arguments try to explain its existence.
Some materialists and scientists scoff at the idea of evil as if it were an antiquated legacy from a superstitious past.
Violent criminals are usually described in the news in psychiatric terms. Murderers are often reported as having a mental illness instead of being possessed by the devil. However, sometimes callous murderers are called “monsters” so the idea of evil can creep in to our essentially scientific worldview.
Meanwhile, savage tyrants and warlords are often viewed through a historical or, perhaps, political lens.
Evil in Christian theology
A basic theological distinction exists between natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil includes “acts of God” such as floods, earthquakes and avalanches. Moral evil is a conscious human choice to turn away from God’s will and participate in some action harmful to self and possibly others.
Duns Scotus classified “intrinsic evil” as acts that are inherently evil and accordingly prohibited. But intrinsically evil acts are not evil because they are prohibited.
In Christian theology evil is often seen as a necessary component of God’s plan of salvation. Here one accepts as an article of faith that God permits evil for some greater good, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
A Christian school of thought, begun by Irenaeus and popularized by John Hick, argues that evil is permitted, but not caused, by God. Why, one might ask, would an all-powerful God permit evil? According to the Irenian school, the answer lies in the idea of ‘soul making.’ A soul freely choosing to abstain from evil is of greater value than one that automatically avoids evil like a programmed robot. The free soul apparently better glorifies God than would a sinless automaton.
Although evil may ravage, test and torment good souls living on earth, the true goal of our finite, earthly life is to be made worthy of eternal heavenly life. According to this perspective the evils of the world act as a crucible. Souls not succumbing to but resisting evil are purified and strengthened toward the good. Evil, then, is necessary. It acts as a kind of hammer that pounds out the soul’s impurities.
God permits some evils lest the good things should be obstructed.
Another Christian argument, influenced by Plato‘s idea of the Forms, is given by St. Augustine. Augustine sees evil as a privatio boni—the absence of good. According to this view, since God is good, evil must be where God is not present. Therefore God doesn’t create evil. It’s a choice. But the theological debates get complicated here, and some ask whether Augustine’s theodicy holds up for both natural and moral evil.
Different branches of Christianity hold different views about what happens to evil souls in the afterlife. Some Churches damn sinners eternally. Martin Luther, for instance, believed that some souls are predestined for hell. Meanwhile, some contemporary Christians pray for the liberation of souls in hell while others do not.¹ And the Catholic Purgatory is neither heaven nor hell, but a difficult preparation for heaven.
Evil in non-Christian religions
Evil in Islam is similar to that of Christianity. But for Muslims it is evil to suggest that Christ is one with God (John 10:30). And the prohibitions in the Koran differ from those of the New Testament. Notably, killing is permitted in the Koran in some circumstances (see http://www.yoel.info/koranwarpassages.htm and http://www.islamreview.com/articles/jihadholywarversesinthekoran.shtml), whereas the very thought of killing is denounced in the New Testament. Many branches of Christianity do, however, entertain the idea of a Just War.
In Hinduism a different view of evil is presented. Evil is permitted to maintain a proper balance of sacred heat or power (tapas) within the universe. Aspects of Hinduism speak to the reality of hell for evildoers. But evil in Hinduism is mostly viewed in terms of personal ignorance and spiritual development, making hellish punishments temporary instead of eternal.
According to this perspective, the evil soul reincarnates on earth until it is cleansed of the ignorance that influenced it to commit bad deeds. This differs dramatically from the Catholic view that souls in hell are eternally damned and, strangely enough, would never want to leave. Unlike the Christian, the Hindu aspires to transcend apparently relative ideas about good and evil through an experiential knowledge of universal truth.
Accordingly, the goal of Hinduism differs from both Christianity and Islam. For the Hindu, heaven is a halfway house on the road to ultimate realization. The reincarnating soul may enjoy periodic visits to different heavens but, though the round of rebirth, it eventually transcends all heavens and ultimately achieves the greatest good of the Brahman. A similar but in some ways different view of evil is presented in Taoism.
An interesting but often overlooked question is whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu heavens and hells are identical in character. The celebrated Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade notes that heavens and hells are described differently among world religions. But do they all feel the same? We can’t really know but my guess is NO.
Most cultures around the world at some point in history have seen evil as a cause of mental or physical illness. This view is prevalent in Shamanism. And some religious writers, such as the Catholic, Michael Brown, say they feel the presence of evil almost anywhere.
And on the inferiority of evil as compared to good, W. H. Auden writes in A Certain World:
Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.
¹ See this excellent discussion: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=329730
- The freewill defense (St. Augustine of Hippo): Part 1 (thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com)
- One’s Good and the Other is Evil (conservativetickler.wordpress.com)
- Why God Won’t Allow Me to Heaven (ichosethebluepill.wordpress.com)
- A Scene from “Doctor Faustus” (alyssajmammano.wordpress.com)
- Medieval Good (ideasandotherstuff.wordpress.com)
- What is evil? (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)
- Random Musings: the concept of a ‘just war’ (jmatthanbrown.wordpress.com)
- A reading from the Church Fathers: Love the Sinner Hate the Sin (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
Fasting seems to take five main forms. The first type is found in most traditional religions where specific calendar days or portions of days are set aside for fasting. This type of fasting helps to honor and identify with a religious figure, past events within a religion, or people for whom the religion expresses concern—e.g. the poor.
Fasting on specific calendar days is also said to bring one closer to God. This kind of regular fast sets up the proper conditions for atonement and the expression of gratitude. And some religious people fast to commemorate the dead—that is, mourning and fasting go hand in hand within many faith traditions.
Another type of fasting is found in orthodox religions, particularly Catholicism, where a spiritual aspirant (such as a nun or monk) obtains special permission from a superior to fast in order to mortify natural desires and become closer to God. This arguably isn’t so different from fasting on predetermined calendar days, except that it’s an individualistic instead of a communal fast.
A third type of fasting occurs in other forms of spirituality, such as shamanism and Asian mysticism. Here the practitioner, usually a Shaman, Lama or Guru takes it upon him or herself to abstain from eating to repel or purge evil spirits, become cleansed of spiritual pollution and, in the process, attain higher levels of realization.
Fasting in this instance is usually regarded as a sacrifice that benefits a teacher-healer. It also enables the healer to better help other souls that are still fettered by sin and ignorance.
This healer-disciple approach is not entirely different from Christian teaching and practice. Advanced Christian saints like Faustina Kowalska fasted regularly and apparently “took the sins” of others.
In the New Testament Jesus says some demons can only be purged through a combination of prayer and fasting.
But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
However, the Christian saint would never take personal responsibility while interceding for others. All glory and honor is always given to God. By way of contrast, in some non-Christian traditions the teacher is said to be equal to God or God on Earth.
A fourth and more contemporary type of fasting is found when special (usually berry) drinks are taken within a proscribed plan to apparently improve one’s health and sense of well-being. This type of medical/scientific fasting arguably is not qualitatively different from more spiritually-based fasts.
But the conceptual framework concerning cause and effect differs among modern and traditional fasts.
The contemporary medical fast emphasizes physiology, health and biological cleansing, while traditional fasts look to spiritual powers, self-discipline and the purification of the soul.
A fifth type of fasting is political, usually but not always with religious overtones. These types of fasts, also known as a hunger strike, are taken to draw attention to some severe social problem or injustice. In some instances, force feeding by authorities can be a legal procedure.¹
- Fasting Made Me Angry (calvinvoices.wordpress.com)
- Thursday Thoughts: Fasting and Following (jimkane.wordpress.com)
- Guru (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Letter to God: Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity (epages.wordpress.com)
- The Biltrix of Fasting on Fish (biltrix.com)
- Lenten Reflection 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 12. (vinodjohn.wordpress.com)
- Everyone, Catholic or Not, Should Fast for Lent (thegreatone22.wordpress.com)
- Tough Issues of Christianity – Fasting (ptl2010.com)
- The Christian fast (godguysandgirls.wordpress.com)
- Living life in the fast lane (newstatesman.com)