The Bible Code is a best selling book by Michael Drosnin which, if anything, demonstrates the popular craving for novelty and a sense of wonder.
I’ve talked to otherwise intelligent people who are impressed by this highly questionable book. But when you try to talk with them intelligently about what it says, they’ll usually blank out. They don’t want their fun ruined.
The author claims that meaningful words may be discerned when an ELS (Equidistant Letter Sequence) method is used to rearrange transliterated Bible characters.
Critics note that the same kind of results can be found when the method is applied to non-biblical books. Also, the choosing of the specific grid pattern is not well explained. The inside book cover merely says that “the computer” generated the pattern. No explanation is given as why a certain number of rows and columns were chosen for the matrix found in The Bible Code.
- Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes (cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/torah.html)
- Whitmore, Shakespeare, and the Bible Code? (centurygirlblog.wordpress.com)
- Voice of the Bible is Key Factor to Audio Bible Appeal (prweb.com)
- Prophecy & Utopia – Torah bible codes, says some thing big will happen in 2013 (disclose.tv)
- The Genetic Code is not a synonym for the Bible Code [Pharyngula] (scienceblogs.com)
- Teacher fired for Bible: Substitute teacher sacked for giving out a Bible (simplyjuliana.com)
The Bar Mitzvah [Hebrew "son of the law"] is a Jewish rite of passage where a young male aged 13 or young female aged 12 comes of age and officially accepts full religious responsibilities. The term also refers to the person for whom the ceremony is observed. Strictly speaking, the Bar Mitzvah is for boys and the Bat Mitzvah is for girls. But often the term Bar Mitzvah is used for both genders.
The modern form of the Bar Mitzvah is not described in the Jewish Bible. But the books of Exodus and Numbers do mention the importance of attaining the age of majority, which back then was recognized as age 20. It’s not until the Talmud that we find the term “Bar Mitzvah.”
- Presenting: The Dopest Bar Mitzvah Invitation in History! (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- 31 Reasons Why Bar & Bat Mitzvah’s Were The Best (buzzfeed.com)
- Book Review: Danny Siegel’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah Book (journeytomitzvah.com)
- Great Moments In Rappers Performing At Bar Mitzvah Parties (complex.com)
- Happy Purim and Pesach, 2013 Bar Mitzvah awaits your donation now! (midnightabbi1eligoldsmith.wordpress.com)
- Avery’s “Bark Mitzvah” (cardstore.com)
- More Etiquette for Bar & Bat Mitzvah Guests (coffeeshoprabbi.com)
- What’s in a Mitzvah? (journeytomitzvah.com)
- Mazelmoments To Release New Reports On The Latest in Weddings, Bar & Bat Mitzvah Party Planning for 2013 (prweb.com)
- Before he’s a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) was an Indian guru from W. Bengal. He was popular in the West and based in NYC until his death.
Credible in the eyes of some, listed as a cult leader by the French National Assembly Commission for Cult Investigation, Chinmoy ran a restaurant chain where devotees clothed themselves in traditional Indian attire.
Chinmoy used to write books about reincarnation and the meaning of life, as well as compose meditation music and lift weights. Not too long before his death he declared that his devotees were not allowed to marry nor have children.
To this kedarvideo adds:
That his disciples should remain single was part of his philosophy during all his teachings and not only before his passing. And this is common among all serious spiritual and religious paths and is also being practiced by most of the world’s monks and nuns. To read more on Sri Chinmoy’s life you can also check his website http://www.srichinmoy.org. » See in context
Kedarvideo’s claim is debatable. Just because someone is single does not necessarily make them “serious” (i.e. deep and close to God). And to ban marriage seems to imply that married people cannot be deep or close to God. In the eyes of most major religions this stance is both impractical and discriminatory.
When interested in Sri Chinmoy after studying in India, I attended a meeting for possible recruits. At that meeting a person who was related to a disciple called out that the disciple in question was ignoring his/her spouse and family at the expense of driving long hours to be with other Chinmoy disciples in NYC. This was my first exposure to the kind of tensions that can arise when a person embraces a new religious path that family members are not sympathetic to.
- “I Am not the Body; I Am the Soul” – Breaking Limits with Sri Chinmoy (1earthnow.wordpress.com)
- Sleepless 500km run for charity (stuff.co.nz)
- How We Judge Others Is How We Judge Ourselves (tinybuddha.com)
The idea of chance has several meanings. For this entry I’ll be focusing on the belief that things just happen with no rhyme or reason—that is, that some events are impossible to predict and also have no overriding cause or meaning. While this definition combines several hair-splitting philosophical views,¹ it does seem to capture the general mood of what we mean by the idea of chance.
While some seem to see the idea of chance as the logical answer in view of certain observations, it’s not. It is nothing more than a human concept. And to attribute something to chance implies a basic assumption that can’t be proved—namely, that some events randomly occur with no overriding plan, purpose or meaning. This belief can arise when people are faced with large amounts of data too vast to discern an overriding plan and purpose (as with the various data encountered in daily life).
Some statisticians, of course, would reply that the belief in an overriding purpose cannot be proved either.
My point is that the one commonality among the belief in chance and the belief in a divine or cosmic plan is belief itself.
Many religious persons freely admit that they believe. They may claim that their beliefs are supported (but not proved by) experience combined with reason. But rarely will a sincerely religious person claim to know, and if they do, upon further questioning they’d probably admit that their supposed “knowledge” is really belief, or reason to believe.²
On the other hand, some superficial and, perhaps, a few duplicitous scientists claim that their hypotheses – proposed explanations tied into a particular approach – are “proved” by observation and reason. This isn’t really true science but many scientists and lay persons fall into this kind of believing without admitting it, or even knowing that they’re just fooling themselves (and usually others).³
Again, the bottom line in this discussion of chance is that both religious and scientific viewpoints appear to be premised on belief.
² Granted, there are always fanatics who claim to “know” and cannot (or don’t want to) momentarily step aside from their beliefs.
³ This being one definition of scientism.
- Christian physicist Ian Hutchinson criticizes scientism (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…4 (ubcgcu.org)
- Jerry Fodor’s Idiosyncratic Understanding of ‘Scientism’ (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- Alternative to Scientism…Point 2 (ubcgcu.org)
- What is Scientism? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- What is Left for Philosophy to Do? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- help, i sound like my mother!…the power of our subconscious beliefs (rhubarbandstars.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…3 (ubcgcu.org)
- A Difference In Beliefs. (euphoricobsession.wordpress.com)
While many New Age believers cite the belief in chakras as a surefire science of body and spirit, they usually don’t realize that chakra theories vary significantly among different Asian religious traditions.
Texts and teachings present different numbers of chakras. Also different physical structures are considered chakras. David Gordon White thus emphasizes:
The chakras are, in the most general sense, ‘wheels’ or alleged centers of power located along the spine, beginning at the anus/base and ending at the crown of the head.
Spiritual energy is said to travel in a channel (nadi) upward along the spine, homogenizing at each chakra much like floors along an elevator route. Individuals at various stages of spiritual development focus on and identify their consciousness with respectively different chakras (energy centers). The anus/base chakra is said to contain the lowest and crudest of spiritual energies, while the crown/top chakra is associated with ultimate spiritual awareness, beyond the confines of desire, the body, space and time, etc.
In this regard, Hinduism outlines a variety of spiritual tantras (rules, disciplines, theories). Although those outlined in the Kubjikamata Tantra became more or less standardized, with chakras specified at the anus, reproductive organs, navel, heart, throat, between the eyes and the ‘thousand-petalled lotus’ at the crown of the head.
In Hindu mythic belief raw power (Shakti) resides at the anus/base. Once awakened she rises, serpent-like, energizing each chakra as she passes upward, ultimately to unite with Siva at the crown chakra. At this point the aspirant allegedly experiences absolute bliss by virtue of linking personal consciousness with absolute reality or God.
By way of contrast, some Buddhist Tantras mention only four chakras, located at the navel, heart, throat and between the eyes/crown of the head.
Again, some people seem to accept one chakra theory as the gospel truth. In reality, however, there are many competing theories. The tendency for some to hold fast to a single chakra theory might have something to do with the human desire to understand and control. Rather than humbly acknowledging our human limitations concerning ultimate reality, some suppose they’ve got it all figured out with a manmade theory. Ironically, this narrow-minded, closed off attitude may hinder an experience of the mystery and grace of God.
Another sad possibility is that vulnerable people with a bit of money but not much knowledge are hoodwinked by manipulative, sham gurus and cheesy New Age teachers who’ll do anything they can to keep their wealthy clients on the hook.
- My First Set Of Chakra Stones (kristencoffin.wordpress.com)
- Learning About Chakras (thedailysisterhood.wordpress.com)
- Chakra Affirmations (reflectionsonlifethusfar.wordpress.com)
- Guest Post: An Introduction to Energy Healing and the Chakras (brendamarroyauthor.com)
- Chakra Meditation Exercise (greaterlifenow.wordpress.com)
- The Relaxed Soul: The Power of Chi Given Unconditionally (omtimes.com)
- My Second Set Of Chakra Stones (kristencoffin.wordpress.com)
The terms contemplation and meditation are often used synonymously. In Christian mysticism, however, contemplation is regarded as a higher and nobler activity than mere meditation. As the scholar of religion, Evelyn Underhill, puts it:
Now meditation is a half-way house between thinking and contemplating: and as a discipline, it derives its chief value from this transitional character.¹
This definition represents a developmental approach. Instead of being ‘this or that,’ as so many fundamentalists and conservatives tend to depict the world, meditation leads to contemplation. Along these lines, many Christians hope that those who don’t understand the unique beauty of their contemplative experience would come to realize it with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
Contemplation emphasizes and encourages an inner union of the individual with God, which, at some point, involves intercession. By way of contrast, meditation doesn’t necessarily imply the existence of the individual or God, as we find in most forms of Buddhism.
Some Buddhists, however, use the word contemplation within their own social and religious framework. Whether or not Buddhists entirely escape the cultural assumptions and obligations bound up within that religion, as so many claim to, seems highly debatable.
In Catholicism, contemplation (as intercession) is recognized as a type of work distinct from more visibly active works, such as teaching or ditch digging. However, not all Catholics – to include priests, monks and sisters – immediately recognize this type of work when present in saintly individuals. Some Catholics are arguably just too thick (or perverse) to see a holy person when they’re right in front of their eyes.
For instance, St. Faustina Kowalska is now hailed as a great contemplative saint within mainstream Catholicism. But in her Divine Mercy Diary she writes that she encountered harsh skepticism from some of her religious superiors who really should have known better.
Perhaps part of the difficulty in recognizing bona fide saints whose contemplation is, in fact, their main work has to do with cultural preconceptions and stereotypes about the idea of holiness. We tend to applaud people who make their good works highly visible. Imagine, for example, a churchgoer who’s having clandestine sex with her minister and cheating on her husband. As long as everyone thinks she’s a “good Christian,” organizing religious events and sitting on the boards of charities, she can fool almost everyone into thinking she’s a saint.
Aside from religious hypocrites who never try to improve their immoral behavior, as in the above scenario, many people expect a saint to be flawless and without sin. This too is misguided.
In addition, the psychologically injured or, perhaps, spiritually deceived among us might claim to be saints when they’re not. And then, if that’s not enough, there’s the reality of outright charlatans and hoaxers. Taken together, these pseudo and potential saints complicate the picture as to just what a saint is. At least, they do in the eyes of humanity.
At a Catholic Mass the following was written in the church bulletin. No mention is made of intercession, which arguably is crucial to the contemplative life. But this brief passage probably represents the average Catholic’s understanding of the idea of contemplation:
In contemplative prayer, we learn to create silence to allow God to transform us; to strive to create a peace which surpasses all understanding; and to heal the wounds of a lifetime.²
¹ Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism: A little book for normal people (London, Dent: 1914), p. 46.
² From “Contemplative Prayer Workshop” in Bulletin (September 5, 2010), St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto, Canada.
- Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 5) (epages.wordpress.com)
- How to find a good spiritual director… (rcspiritualdirection.com)
- Meditation in the Church (pilgrimpassing.com)
- Most Buddhists don’t Meditate??? (responsiveuniverse.wordpress.com)
- A Jar of Ointment, the Marines, and Seeds………… (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
- Introduction to Christian Mysticism through Evening at Emory (anamchara.com)
- “Old-Fashioned” Sisters, “Newfangled” Nuns, Numbers and Habits – UPDATED (patheos.com)
- The Feast of Saint Hildegard (anamchara.com)
- Seven Point Cause and Effect Meditation (jampasmandala.wordpress.com)
- Old-fashioned nuns say the past is key to the future – Articles (religionnews.com)
Dyophysitism is the religious doctrine, defined in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, declaring that Christ possesses a dual nature, one entirely Divine and the other entirely human.
The term has also been applied to Nestorian beliefs, although theologians continue to debate whether or not this is justified.
Related Posts » Monophysitism
- Sempiternus Rex (en.wikipedia.org)
- Jesus Christ: Truly Human, Truly God (factorysense.wordpress.com)
- When Truths Collide-Part 5 (steveatwood.wordpress.com)
- “Tasting Heaven on Earth” (gaudetetheology.wordpress.com)
- Debating doctrine with charity – is that possible? (signposts02.wordpress.com)
- Crysologus (bythepen.me)
- The Inane Notion of Religious Pluralism (inchristus.wordpress.com)
The Diamond Sutra is a well-known Buddhist work of thirty-two chapters, taking the form of a dialogue between the Sakyamuni Buddha and the disciple, Subhuti. It comes from a Mahayana school of Buddhism known as the perfection of wisdom school (Prajñāpāramitā), and therefore is also known as part of the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras.
The Diamond Sutra or “Diamond Cutter” is unique in that it involves a dialogue between an enlightened being and a mere disciple, whereas other dialogues within the collection are usually between the Buddha and other achieved bodhisattvas.¹
A copy in Chinese translation is, according to the British Museum, the earliest surviving complete book with a date (May 11, 868 CE), and it’s the only surviving copy we have of this text.²
Contextually, the Diamond Sutra purports that all of what we take for reality is said to be a projection of the mind. True reality, it claims, is sunyata (emptiness). It also advocates other Buddhist staples like detachment and non-abiding (avoiding conditioned mental constructs).
¹ S. G. F. Brandon ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1971), p. 507.
Related Posts » Heart Sutra
- kopopli (moopli.wordpress.com)
- Overview (tiltedcandle.wordpress.com)
- The transitory nature of created things (thewondrousdharma.com)
- Sutra of the Buddha’s Teaching on Amitabha Buddha ( Sukhavativyuha Sutra – Amitabha Sutra ) (chandra2002id.wordpress.com)
- Psychologists rediscover what the Buddha taught (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
- List of Seven (1): Short Masterpieces of Non-Duality (truthlesstruth.wordpress.com)
The Dhammapada is a highly influential collection of 423 verses 26 sections within the Pali Canon of Indian Theravada Buddhism, traditionally ascribed to the Buddha himself. Basically an anthology of sayings, the Dhammapada deals with avoiding worldly desire and cultivating wisdom and joy.
In verse 78 we have the universal idea:
Don’t keep friends with ugly souls; avoid evil souls. Keep friends with beautiful souls; associate with those whose souls are good.
Within the New Testament (NT) story we find the rough parallel where Jesus loves his enemies but doesn’t allow them to destroy him before his allotted time to die (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59). While some vulgar interpretations of the NT see this as cowardice or a shrinking away from the spiritually ugly, a more mature perspective sees it for what it is, namely, wisdom.
- The power of thought (thewondrousdharma.com)
- If you meet the evil one on the road… (evolutionsangha.wordpress.com)
- Psychologists rediscover what the Buddha taught (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
- A Prayer (realityinprogress.wordpress.com)
- How Are You Meeting Every Situation? (realmanure.wordpress.com)
- Buddhist concepts.pptx [autosaved] (slideshare.net)
- Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he’s not the first | Vishvapani Blomfield (guardian.co.uk)
- Buddhism Series – the 7 Sets! – introduction (tiltedcandle.wordpress.com)
- International Buddhist Festival. (inkstainedteeth.wordpress.com)
- Merit, what and why? (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
Most religious and mythological traditions attest to the reality of demons. For the most part, demons are regarded as dark, evil spiritual beings whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc on individuals and the world.
In Hinduism, demons appear in the Puranas as Rakshakas (evil beings capable of shape-shifting) and tramp souls. Also in Hinduism the, at one time, god-like asuras of the Vedas devolve into demonic spirit beings which, the mystic Sri Aurobindo says, try to place false and harmful ideas into the minds of impressionable, vulnerable human beings.
In Tibetan Buddhism, immediately after a person dies a priest reads the Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud over the dead body, instructing the departed soul how to avoid different spiritual lights and deceptions that demonic beings use to try to trick the deceased into falling into another earthly incarnation. And Mahayana Buddhism portrays many hells, each presided over by horrific entities
In China demons are thought to be able to inhabit dead bodies and haunt various places, both inside and out.
Demons in China… are capable of animating dead bodies, haunting cemeteries, cross roads, and the homes of relatives. Some live in Hades…others inhabit the air. Many are hungry ghosts, the spirits of those who have had no proper burial or who have no decendants to feed them sacrifices.¹
Traditional Roman Catholicism doesn’t envision the demon in terms of a psychoanalytic, physiological id or Jungian shadow archetype, as is fashionable in some circles today. Instead, traditional Catholicism makes no bones about the belief in demons. The Prayer Against Satan and The Rebellious Angels, published in 1961 by order of H. H. Pope Leo XIII refers to various “spirits of wickedness,” “diabolical legions” and “infernal invaders” that are to be driven away with the help of this solemn prayer.
Contemporary Catholicism, however, is incorporating secular and psychiatric perspectives on demons, but arguably in a clunky manner that seems to conform to ancient and medieval styles of analyzing issues. This shouldn’t be surprising as certain aspects of Catholic theological discourse borrow from Aristotelian and Thomist analytical categories and modes of analysis. And as history suggests, deeply entrenched patterns of thought and practice usually take time to be positively redirected.
In secular society alleged demons are often described as nothing more than a product of the imagination, hallucinations, an arrested or disturbed personality, mutated chromosomes, or the much debated idea of chemical imbalances. Along these lines the Catholic Catechism makes a sharp distinction between “the presence of the Evil One,” on the one hand, and current understandings of mental illness on the other:
The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.²
In contrast to the arguably underdeveloped either/or perspective outlined above, a more productive and responsible approach would intelligently consider different perspectives — physiological, psychological, cultural, transpersonal and spiritual — using as many of the analytical tools that are available to us in the 21st century.
Having said that, we should also keep in mind the very real possibility that God could permit a fundamentally good and ‘well adjusted’ person to be afflicted by evil, as we find, for instance, in the Old Testament Book of Job.
Related Posts » Aliens, Alien Possession Theory, Anathema, Angels, Avesta, Bodhi Tree, Bosch (Hieronymus), Christianity, Discernment, Fallen Angels, Hero, Jinn, Lilith, Madness, Mandala, Michael (St.), Miracles, Occam’s razor, Possession, Psychosis, Rakshakas, Shaman, Spiritual Attack, UFO, Underworld
¹ S. G. F. Brandon, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 230.
² Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1673.
- Audio of exorcism performed in Germany, 1976 (NoiseMadeMeDoIt.com)
- Woman Says ‘Exorcist’ Priest Abused Her (courthousenews.com)
- The Religious Demon Thrives Off of Your Investment (pamsheppardpublishing.com)
- Modern Possession (moinarc.wordpress.com)
- As Bad As You Thought?: The Devil Inside (houseofgeekery.com)
- They Don’t Have Enough Problems? Jewish Demonic Possession Returns (reason.com)
- Angels and Demons (probings.wordpress.com)
- Faith, not spinning heads, takes center stage in ‘Exorcist’ play – Articles (wilmingtonfavs.com)
- Clergyman Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman During Exorcism Rituals (dreamindemon.com)
- Teen Girl Exorcism Squad: Three Arizona Girls Claim to Cast Out Demons (purestrange.wordpress.com)