|Christmas origins -- digested others
What better time to scrutinise Christianity&#|
This is an important discussion which we summarized in some detail last week. We continue the discussion here.
December 26 (continuing from December 16)
".. one can see what a pitiful identify crisis even our so-called educated Indians are going through. It is also noteworthy that we have so many various organizations (i refuse to call them ParamparÄs, as they have no traditional backing) such as Brahma KumÄri, who cater to the same trite notion of 'one-ness'. I myself have seen Hindus use MÄyÄ as an excuse to negate their worldly responsibilities toward dharma.
There are two orders of reality spoken of in our ShÄstras, one is the absolute order of reality, which we call Satyam, where as Rajiv ji correctly stated, no duality exists whatsoever. The second is the relative/transactional order of reality, which we call MithyÄ, which is sustained by Satyam, and yet within MithyÄ all transactions take place- including dharma/adharma,...etc..."
"The dilemma is a bit clearer. If tVedanta has universal applicability, we should find glimpses of insight outside the Hindu sphere, even if Hindus are the ones who pursued this doctrine to perfection. Or else, Vedanta is just another one of competing truth-claims. If we assert the former, we open the door to "Christian Vedanta" - after all, we have inferred that Jesus had some Vedantic insight. This route thus opens the door to both Vedanta for everyone (good) and for Vedanta to be digested (bad!)..."
"...Lets say I take the first route, with the following critical enhancement:
I add certain "poison pills" to my universal Vedanta. A poison pill is defined as an ingredient which when swallowed by the Christian theologian will undermine his theology.
For example: (1) anti- history centrism, such as Nicene Creed, (2) affirmation of reincarnation, (3) affirmation of certain mantras that cannot be substituted with anything else - these are poison pills because if the christian swallows them he wont remain christian in the conventional sense.
Vivekananda did not have poison pills included in his formulation, at least not so emphatically and explicitly, and not as ingredients that are mandatory; his ingredients seemed to be optional....
To prevent against the other party removing the poison pill and digesting what remains, I must imbed the poison pill in a manner that cannot be removed. It is not an option. Dharma is NOT to be presented as a buffet or a flea-market where you can randomly pick what you like and reject the rest.
Reverse digestion: My formulation of universal dharma will domesticate Judeo-Christianity if they try to swallow the dharma. Here is how it works: I have explained the metaphor of the tiger and the deer to show how digestion works. I will be explaining a third kind of creature: the porcupine. It cant be swallowed by the tiger because it has poison covered quills which will kill the tiger if swallowed. So the porcupine is not like the vulnerable deer. Yet the porcupine is not a predator like the tiger. It has what may be considered defensive offense: "I dont harm you, but you will get destroyed if you harm me." This complies with ahimsa and mutual respect. "
"... Not all "Christians" believe in Nicene Creed, the infallibility of the Bible, Creation myth etc., yet they remain as christians because they were born in that faith and see no need to change into any other new faith since all the tenets of a new faith may also not be fully in agreement with their intellectual understanding of what religion and spirituality should be, which is to strive towards one's own understanding of the purpose of one's life and its obligation to the peace and welfare of the planet and its inhabitants, both human and all other forms of life as well as the so-called inanimate parts of this earth and its atmosphere.
As you know, I greatly admire your work and the pioneering work that you are doing. I hope that I am right in assuming that you too are aware that neither Hindus or peoples of other faiths like Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, etc., believe 100 percent in everything that their respective religion preach. .."
"The above argument is typical of the anti-essentialism kind of
argument, one that is over used and bookish. Such arguments try to say that the identities or categories being used by the opponent are not perfectly defined, that there are exceptions to these categories, and the boundaries are blurred. Hence, the argument tries to undermine the worthiness of the opponent's thesis. Postmodernists use this argument a lot.
BD gives my response to this postmodernist argument. In effect, such arguments serve to maintain the status quo which happens to be in favor of one side over the other. When blacks critique white supremacy one can say that the same
problems also apply to some blacks. When women try to fight gender bias, they get told that some women also have the same problem. Whenever any kind of group tries to make its case one should expect to hear such an argument. If we back off, the status quo remains, which is why postmodernist thought has worsened the prejudices, not solved them.
Specifically regarding christians and Nicene creed: Yes, many christians do not believe that and one can therefore give each individual christian the following choice:
- Reject the Nicene Creed and history centrism.
- In which case you are fine, but then you must be explicit ....
- You must not be able to deny the other religions the legitimacy of their deities, their narratives, etc. In other words, Christian exclusivity ends.
- Such a person must challenge the relevance of the historical Jesus on the grounds that similar generic teachings are already found in other faiths such as Hinduism.
- Hence it is christianity that gets digested into generic spirituality.
- Evangelism is to be opposed by such a person on the basis that it is causing harm to others and brings nothing of value.
I welcome such christians provided they are clear, sincere, public and firm on these points.
My experience is that typically such postures are insincere and a game to deflect the pressure away. Deep down there is a fixation for Jesus' uniqueness, which in turn is rooted in history centrism, .... "
Venkat responds to Alex:
"We are specifically interested only in those Christians whose actions affects Hindus -- say the Church, the evangelists, missionaries etc. ... Now the question is do those Christians in the former category believe in the "Nicene Creed, the infallibility of the Bible, Creation myth etc." ? If so then, that needs to be critiqued"
Alex responds to Venkat:
"... thank you for your forthright clarification but also point out that I have always been in the forefront of criticizing the proselytizers of all monotheistic faiths, particularly Christian evangelists and fundamentalists.
But, millions like me are not "fringe/lay believers" as you characterize them. They are human beings with no ill will towards any one of any faith, nor are they concerned about converting anyone else or be converted by anyone else. Frankly, for individuals like me, human kindness, civility and mutual respect are more important than the articulations of the merits or any religion over another..."
"Alex is ... especially vocal against Christian proselytizing. His support has been very important over the years. I met him at Swami Dayananda Saraswati's ashram in Pennsylvania in the 1990s, where he attends Vedanta classes. ... we must acknowledge and appreciate individuals like Alex who have stuck their necks out for us many times publicly."
Prahalad shares Alex's review of BD.
Rohit reviews the survey cited by Alex:
"Even though categories are not separated clearly, the last category is well-demarcated. The last category is the only one which says "Jesus is not essential to salvation."
Based on the definition of the last category, it is safe to say that the remaining 79% Christians in other categories carry this essential history-centric belief. That belief is the crux of Nicene creed - rest of the creed builds to that belief. (Only son of God can bring salvation to others. No human cam do this. Because he was raised from dead, he must be divine, son of God as he claimed.) Thus, a large majority (79%) support the essential dogma of Nicene creed..."
Sreedhar asks a straight question:
" If the Brahma Kumari lady feels that doctrine of "oneness" obviates the need for an identity, then why have an organization/collective called the
After all, everything is universal! Why not be without an identity?"