CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM – MY OBSERVATIONS

CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM – MY OBSERVATIONS

ON TWO CONCURRENT RELIGIOUS EVENTS

(I first wrote this article in 1990)

This is a very special time in the lives of the followers of two world religions – Christianity and Islam. For Christians it is the time of Good Friday and Easter that mark the death and the resurrection of Jesus. For Muslims it is the month of Ramadan when all devout Muslims observe a fast, from sunrise to sun set each day, and then feast at night. We shall examine the significance of each of them in this essay.

Jesus was a great spiritual personality, who was born nineteen hundred and ninety four* years ago (4 B.C.) in Bethlehem. Christians accept him as the Son of God and the saviour of the world. Unfortunately, many people do not know of most of the life of Jesus. They know of his birth, and when he was taken to Egypt to escape death by Herod. They know about when he was brought to Jerusalem at the age of twelve, and when he confounded the Rabbis in the Sanhedrin. The next time they learn of him is at the age of thirty, when he began to preach on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. His teachings culminated with the Sermon on the Mount.

As happens with nearly all saints, saviours and prophets of the world, the average people and the established church or religion, do not understand them. This happened in the case of Jesus when he was persecuted by the chief priest Caiaphas and was handed over for trial to Herod and Pontius Pilate. He was eventually hanged on the cross on Mount Golgotha.

There is evidence that Jesus travelled in those ‘missing’ years to Egypt, the Middle East and to India. He studied the Upanishads of India, and the Yogic practices and psychic healing. One teacher of spiritual healing mentioned in this relationship is Udraka 1. Jesus also learned from travelling holy men with whom he had discussions, as he was growing up.

Concerning his death on the cross, there is some doubt. He belonged to a very close-knit group of Essenes. During the storm which arose, and when all the Roman soldiers fled for shelter, it is felt that his Essene brothers removed him from the cross and nursed him back to health. It was thus that he was subsequently able to visit his disciples, to comfort them and to give them further teachings. If he rose from the sepulchre on the third day and ascended to heaven, then why did he, or what need did he have, to appear to his disciples on earth? He had already instructed them in everything that they needed to know and to do after his departure.

For the Islamic people the fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars that must be observed by the faithful. The other four pillars are: (l) to accept Allah as God and Mohammed as His Messenger; (2) to pray five times a day, turning towards Mecca; (3) to give alms for the welfare of the less fortunate people and (4) to go on pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s life time.

It is all well and proper to observe certain rites and ceremonies, in order to uphold the standards of one’s religion. By fasting the whole day and eating at night has some merit in it, as it teaches forbearance and discipline. But some Muslims eat delicacies at night and gain weight which would negate the good done by the fasting. Another practice of Muslims is ‘Id-al-Fitr’. This is a feast celebrated at the end of Ramadan when animals are slaughtered and, in a festive mood, the people enjoy a sumptuous feast. In order to carry through with their spiritual gain through the month, it would have been more appropriate if they treated the animals by giving them a feast, instead of feasting on them. I think that a loving, merciful, humane and compassionate Allah would like that much better. After all, it is our duty to protect innocent animals, as their lives are just as important to them as ours are to us. The commandment “thou shalt not kill” is not observed in these practices at all.

Recently in our local newspaper, there was a lengthy article on eating to protect the environment and the earth. It gave many reasons why people should not eat meat but should be vegetarians. In that article Dr. Klaper, whom I had known before he moved to the United States, stated: “I will not eat anything that can run away from me and have sex.” This may be a humorous way of looking at the situation but it does make sense. It excludes all animals from the diet.

First and foremost, religion is a path towards a goal, and what one does in religious practices must be geared towards increasing knowledge and understanding of a spiritual goal. It must not bring harm to any living creature. Religion must be understood properly, and people should not feel guilt or fear and thus follow the religion. Christians are told that they are all sinners and that Jesus died for their sins. Driving such guilt into the hearts of adherents is not the way of God. The same Bible also teaches: “As you sow, so also you shall reap.” How can Jesus die for your sins, when you have to reap what you have sown in your life? How can Jesus, who died nearly two thousand years ago, save you from your sins at this time, or save those who existed before him, or those who never heard of him, and who had no clue about him at all? The positive way of accepting Jesus is that he was a God-realized person who gave his teachings for the salvation of humanity, and not to lull ourselves into believing that he died for our sins.

God is All Merciful and Loving and would also like his devotees to be merciful and loving. Both Muslims and Christians will agree with this. Yet, both of them slaughter animals and perpetrate religious wars; some even use chemical and germ warfare against their fellow human beings. Do they think that they can get away with it? How can God be satisfied with their behavior? We must weigh what we are doing and see whether it makes universal sense. Does is fit in with ‘natural law’ which is the preservation and improvement of all life. Does it increase love, understanding, compassion, humility and forgiveness in our hearts, and does it remove the selfish, greedy, hateful and killing instincts from our minds? Be your own judge.

 

  1. #3 And Jesus sought to learn the Hindu art of healing, and became the pupil of Udraka, greatest of the Hindu healers. 4 Udraka taught the uses of the waters, plants and earths; of heat and cold; sunshine and shade; of light and dark. 5 He said, The laws of nature are the laws of health, and he who lives according to these laws is never sick. (The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, Chapter 3)

 

*as of 1990

 

Christianity, Islam, Ramadan, Good Friday, Thou shalt not kill, Jesus, Mohammed,

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NATURE- THE BEST RECYCLER

NATURE – THE BEST RECYCLER

Think of a world filled with man-made garbage,
Then think that you have to live with it.
And as time inevitably goes by,
You find yourself choked for healthy space.
Non-biodegradables are now companions,
That threaten your health and wellbeing.
You begin to think “What a mess we made,”
But it is now too late –
Since land and water are polluted,
And noxious gases spew into the atmosphere.
That is the land and the water you use,
And you merrily breathe the polluted air.
Then you become sick and wonder why?
You will not blame yourself as the cause,
Since it is the farthest thing from your mind.
Here comes the research scientist and declares,
“This environment is polluted: toxic chemicals abound.”
“Why does the government not clean up the mess?”
You find yourself musing, not accepting the blame.
It would have been supremely wise,
If you had recycled and prevented the pollution.
Now to the rescue comes the city – the guardian angel,
And institutes recycling by political decree.
A cleaner environment is a blessing to all,
And we can now enjoy the cleaner outdoors.
But wait: did nature not teach us to recycle,
As she has done for countless eons.
Perhaps we failed to be keen observers.
She recycles everything that is born and dies.
She recycles you and me, animals and plants too.
The earth is the source of all physical beings,
That are the abode of the spirit and consciousness.
And all have to return to the earth – our mother earth!
Nature also recycles water, and we call it the water cycle.
It evaporates from the waters on earth,
Then returns it as rainfall to support life.
Think of the carbon dioxide we breathe out.
It fills all plants with joy. They grow luxuriantly.
They pay us back with oxygen so we can live.
All things in nature follow cycles – a recycling.
Let us then follow nature’s perpetual recycling,
And diligently recycle to a better and healthier life!

Dr. Jagessar Das

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MAYA

 

MAYA

 

Maya is a beautiful and poetic name,

And it is an apt name for a darling girl.

But the beautiful name beguiles us,

Blinding us to her innate complexity.

In common parlance Maya is attractive,

Urging our hungry senses for fulfillment.

We seek her in possessions and pleasures,

And in fame and in honorific titles.

We seek her in sophisticated company,

And in pursuit of an exuberant lifestyle.

She beckons us to enjoy the worldly life,

Forgetting that we have a higher purpose-

To know our divine and eternal Self,

And to awaken to a state of Nirvana.

Consider what the ancient sages taught,

And what modern mystics intuitively know,

That the body is a vehicle for the soul.

The body perishes as inscribed in the genes,

But the soul is divine and it cannot die.

The soul is a ray of God’s divine energy

That energizes all visible and invisible things,

Whether on earth or in the majestic universe.

But Maya is more than all of these!

She is God’s projecting power to “create”

As is made clear in India’s Vedantism.

Without her the differentiation into “things”

From God the primordial, Eternal Being,

Just would not manifest in endless variety.

Let us then accord to Maya her due status –

She has the power to project endless variety,

But also to veil the Reality from our senses.

So to understand her and to escape her guile,

We must still our senses that are ever outgoing,

And through meditation, go on an inner journey.

There we will see that we are in Divinity,

And we will bask in the bliss of this knowledge.

We will see Maya’s role in the scheme of things,   

And feel empowered as we savor the taste of freedom!

 

Dr. Jagessar Das

 

maya, mystics, Eternal Being, Vedantism, eternal,

 

 

 

 

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TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #8 – RELIGION’S ULTIMATE GOAL

TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #8 – 

 RELIGION’S ULTIMATE GOAL

 

RELIGION! The very word conjures up the positive feelings of faith, hope, reverence and salvation. In many others it conjures up the negative feelings of brainwashing its adherents, priest-craft, moneymaking, unproven dogmas, and that religion preys upon the gullibility of people. Still, there are others in whom religion conjures up hardly any sentiment at all. Such diversity of reactions, or lack of them, depends on the varying levels of religious awareness of people. Some people believe, without questioning, in what is written in their holy books, or in what they are taught by religious teachers. Some people question all the basic tenets on which religion is based, and, by not finding adequate answers, they relegate religion to the “dusty storage areas” of their minds. Some people become atheists and deny the existence of God, while others become agnostics because they do not know whether or not God exists. Thus there are these four categories of people:

  1. Those who believe in God and adhere to a religion;
  2. Those who are atheists and deny the existence of God, and thus follow no religion;
  3. Those who are agnostics, not knowing whether or not God exists, and thus they “sit on the fence”, and
  4. Mystics who get only a fleeting glance, or none at all from the public. The reason is that its adherents follow no organized religion, and seek no praise or recognition, but quietly endeavor to realize God within themselves and in others. To this group belong the saints and saviors of the world. To this group God is the only Reality on which the transitory manifestations of the world and the universe depend for their existence. In this article I shall outline what religion really is, and how it can be used to achieve the goal that its adherents wish to achieve. 

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to define religion. The word is derived from Latin “re” which means “again”, and “ligere” which means to “bind or tie”. It thus means to “re-unite or bind again.” Now, what needs to be re-united or bound together again? The answer to this question will supply the foundation on which religion exists. Religion deals with the Soul and God. The soul is often erroneously thought to be separate from God, and it is the work of religion to make its followers realize the unity of the Soul and God. The Soul is Spirit, and God is Spirit. Neither can be sub-divided. “Re-uniting” them is thus the sole function of religion. All other virtues, good deeds, forms of worship, love, charity, kindness, purity of heart, etc., are mere details that prepare the person for realization of that unity. Knowledge obtained by constant training and practice, and not mere belief, is necessary for this realization. This experience is called Self-Realization, or God Realization, or Liberation, or Salvation of the Soul. When the soul becomes aware of its own Eternity, it must, by definition, be saved, and religion has served its purpose.  

As you can see, the goal of life is Self-Realization, which is the same as God Realization. Religion is only the means by which this realization takes place. Yet there are many people who make religion the goal instead of the means, and end up causing much religious strife, confusion, intolerance, bigotry and hypocrisy. If we are to progress spiritually, we must effectively use religion as a tool to achieve the desired end. Professor Allport stated: “Religion is the search for a value underlying all things, and as such is the most comprehensive of all the possible philosophies of life. A deeply moving religious experience is not readily forgotten, but is likely to remain as a focus of thought and desire”. The “value underlying all things” is God, Who is Omnipresent. Lord Buddha said: “The gift of religion exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of religion exceeds all sweetness; the delight of religion exceeds all delight; the extinction of thirst overcomes all things.”

Religion is said to be the lengthened shadow of one man. Such a man is a saint, a prophet, a saviour, or a Satguru (Eternal Teacher). There have been many of them in the world. Their pure “shadows”, however, have been distorted by “clouds” super-imposed by well-meaning religionists who are often swept up by “Religious Mania”, and lose sight of a logical, simple and natural approach to a religious life. Such religionists, though zealously motivated, are at varying levels of spiritual darkness, or conversely, of spiritual wisdom. Spiritual enlightenment comes only when the mind is set free from the various prevailing dogmas and doctrines, and is allowed to inquire within where the seat of all wisdom resides. In this connection Allan Watts stated “The work of the church ends when the knowledge of God begins.” Spiritual ignorance is the greatest handicap to a spiritual life, and spiritual ignorance is rampant in the world. How then can people derive any benefit from the religious life they are following?

Over seventy-five percent of the world’s population belongs to a religion. Examine the current problems in the world, and examine the hearts of people and try to correlate the world situation with the number of religious people in the world. Can you not allow yourself to ask the question: “What is religion doing for the world?” Think of the wars and bloodshed of innocent victims; the murders, suicides, abortions, child sexual abuse, pornography; hate, greed, intolerance, anger, selfishness, cheating, stealing, lying, bribery, etc. One does not need to extend the list further. How can people have peace, harmony and love when so many things all around are disruptive and anxiety producing? The infallible Law of Karma will definitely see to it that suffering continues until everyone cleans his or her spiritual house. In connection with the suffering in the world, Guru Kabir Saheb stated, “The secret of escape from this plight is within your body. But you do not find it because, with lamp in hand, you search for it outside of yourself.” The whole creation is engulfed in the fire of passions and sorrows, and consumed by worldly desires and ambitions. Without the knowledge imparted by the Master, man, the bond-slave, will keep on wandering aimlessly. Guru Kabir Saheb said, “Listen dear seeker! A day will come when you will have to pass from here, leaving behind even the loincloth covering your nakedness. Of what value are all your worldly desires?

What then do we need to do to improve the world and ourselves? The world’s wellbeing depends on the well being of each one of us. In order to make any progress, we must first set the mind free from the shackles of those religious teachings that are not consistent with the realization of the unity of the Soul and God. This unity can be realized only when life is purified to the utmost, by discarding all passions of lust, anger, attachment, greed and egotism, and replacing them with love, service, charity, compassion, humility, forgiveness and meditation. These must be practiced from childhood, so that the personality can be molded into a spiritual one, and they must be practiced daily so that they become automatic manifestations of the personality. Only then can the purified soul realize its UNITY with the pure Being of God. This is the ultimate goal of all of us that the masters teach us.

Dr. Jagessar Das

 

Religion, atheists, agnostics, mystics, love, charity, compassion.

 

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A HEALTHY BODY AND A HEALTHY MIND (LATIN: MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO)

A HEALTHY BODY AND A HEALTHY MIND (LATIN: MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO)

Health is a subject of concern for most people. Thus you see people engage in various activities in order to try to restore health. Doctor’s offices, outpatients’ clinics, and hospitals are full of patients seeking help with their diseases. Some people go to various other types of health practitioners for physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbalism, etc. People use water cures, mineral baths, mudpacks and mud baths. Some will use tissues and extracts from animals and plants, and some will try to find cures in minerals and metals. Many try to find cures in rituals, magic and amulets, while others try diet therapy, climate therapy and fasting. Others travel to medicinal baths and hot springs in far off places, or go to Mexican practitioners for cure of cancers, while others will seek bloodless surgery in the Philippines.(One of my patients went to the Philippines for this without any benefit.) People all over the world are preoccupied with health. Governments are spending an ever-increasing amount of their budget to cover health costs, and there seems to be no end in sight. Ill health seems to be like a cancer eroding the wellbeing of the people of the world.

The word ‘health’ comes from the word ‘heal’ – to cure or to make whole. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, or social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” At a glance, this definition will appear to include everything that is necessary in order to consider a person healthy. But it leaves out spiritual health that can form the basis for health in all of the other spheres of life.

  If we indulge in activities that are contrary to nature, then it is nature’s way to make us sick. That occurs because of the operation of the law of cause and effect. That same principle holds at all times for maintaining proper health. A person may take up physical training and be in good athletic shape, but if he eats improperly, or attends raucous parties and oversleeps, he will likely become ill with something. Another person may be careful with his diet, hygiene, exercise, etc., but is selfish or greedy and hates others. For such a person it will be difficult to remain healthy. Again, a person might take care of his physical health in admirable ways, but deep down he is full of lust, ego, and vanity. It will be difficult for him to remain healthy. A further example can be the person who practices all the obvious health habits, but yet has no compassion for the feelings of others, or of the suffering of other creatures. He may engage in ‘sports-hunting’ and ‘sports-fishing’ and take joy in doing so. He may hunt the baby seals for their white coats, and other animals for their furs and their skins, and take great pride in making his business successful. Sooner or later such a person may cease to be healthy because many of his actions are directed against nature. He is indulging in actions that will inevitably have a reaction against him.(I understand that people would say that is their living. I do not think human reasons will overturn Divine law.)

  Now, consider the whole world. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are seeing everybody in the world preoccupied with their various types of activities. See if you can judge which ones are doing things to promote the health of themselves and those around them. You will be hard pressed to find the people who are really taking care of themselves in a “total way.” How many do you not see in evil actions, actions hurting others, even animals and nature; others sitting in the beer parlors and smoking, others gossiping, or plotting against someone else to do some violence; and then those that show apathy and lack of respect, sympathy, and caring for others. If you could see the minds of many, you will see that they are cauldrons seething with passions, ego, pride, greed, hate and anger. You will see that some minds are callous; others self-centered, while others are revengeful. Others have a stream of negative emotions filling them. Some are full of fear, dejection, anxiety and opportunism, preying on the simplicity and gullibility of others. You will even see prominent religious leaders full of unholy intentions, and seeking self-aggrandizement and amassing fortunes at the expense of trusting folks. In a world such as this, is it difficult to see why disease and suffering of all types must continue? Can you not see that the answer to the health problem does not lie in medicines, or the laying on of hands, or the drinking of concoctions, or visiting exotic places for whatever cures they have to offer. These may offer temporary help by re-arranging conditions in your mind, environment, or body, but they cannot solve the problem of disease in the long run. (Of course, there are many good people around, but this article deals with disease, so I have mentioned the “negative” behavior that can be the basis of disease.)

  Now, let us consider a simple formula for maintaining good health. The late Swami Sivananda said that the six best doctors in the world are: 1. Nutritious diet; (2) Clean water; (3) Sunlight; (4) Adequate exercise; (5) Adequate rest, and (6) Fresh air.

  Examine this list carefully and you will see that it contains all the basic ingredients for maintaining a healthy physical life. In this context he was not discussing the mental, social and spiritual aspects of health.

It would be good if you will take a moment and ponder on the issues I have raised in this article. While making this consideration, always keep in the back of your mind that whatever you sow, that is what you will also reap. This law is universal and unalterable, just like the law of gravity. You may seek help, guidance and advice from others, but make it your duty to maintain your own health.

 

Dr. Jagessar Das

Health, disease, mind, patients, hospitals, medicines, Swami Sivananda

 

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JAYANTI OF SANT SHIROMANI SATGURU KABIR SAHEB

619TH JAYANTI OF SANT SHIROMANI 
SATGURU KABIR SAHEB – JUNE 9, 2017
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This auspicious occasion was celebrated by organizing various events on the life and works of this most well known mystic poet saint of the masses in India and abroad by his followers. One such celebration was organized by Dr. J. Das, President of Guru Kabir Association Of Canada, at his residence in Surrey. It was a small and beautiful gathering consisting of people from various faiths. In fact, it was a true replica of Satguru Kabir’s message and teachings on equality and brotherhood of mankind. Satguru’s message holds true even today. The importance of his message and teachings have increased for the present day society world-wide, which is in tatters on account of unfounded dogmas, rituals, orthodoxical ideologies and fundamentalism. Paying tribute to Sant Shiromani Kabir, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi said, “Sant Kabir Das Ji was a path-breaking and progressive reformist. He dreamt of a just and equal society.”

Satguru Kabir lived from 1398 to 1518 A.D. According to legend, a brahmin widow abandoned her new born baby at the bank of a pond in Kashi, (now Varanasi) in the darkness of night. As the day dawned, Neema and Neeru, an issueless Muslim couple, spotted the child and adopted him taking it as a gift from God. The child was named Kabir. In Muslim faith, Al-Kabir is one of the 99 names of Allah. In Arabic, it means ‘great’. Being of a low caste and poor background, the couple could not afford schooling for Kabir. He took his parental profession of weaving. From his childhood Kabir was of poetic and spiritual inclination. Initially, Sant Ramanand, a Bhakti movement saint whose reputation was at its height at that time, refused to initiate him. Kabir had to devise a trick to get Ram Nam from Ramanand.

Medieval India (1200-1700 AD) is known for the flourishing of the Bhakti Movement. This Movement was to awaken the ignorant masses about the dogmatic, divisive, ritualistic and superstitious practices of Hinduism and Islam. Kabir Saheb, Ravi Das, Nanak Dev, Farid, Namdev and Chaitanya were the main exponents of this Movement. Among all the above sants, Kabir is considered as the “ Sant Shiromani” – a sant par excellence. 

His teachings are in the forms of Dohas, Bhajans, Shabdas and Sakhis. Kabir’s main works are: Bijak, Granthavali, Shabdavali and Anurag Sagar. The substance of his teaching is fearlessness in spiritual life, purity in thought, word and deed, universal unconditional love for all people, including all living beings in the universe. He taught people the true religion of the heart instead of rituals and austerities. He was a crusader in his religious approach. He was against all hypocrisy and caste distinctions. He believed in the theory of Karma and affinity for all, and hatred and malice towards none. He was against an ascetic way of life and advocated a life of a householder. Till his last day, he kept himself engaged in his weaving profession. He was not in favour of amassing material wealth. He needed material wealth to the bare minimum. He was a Trinity of Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. At present he is revered equally by the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. He was a proponent of Nirgun Bhakti – a loving devotion to a formless Supreme Being. He taught surat shabad yoga or the yoga of attuning oneself to the inner divine melody – Peevat Ramrus lagi Khumari. 

In the introduction to her book “ A Weaver Named Kabir” Charlotte Vaudeville, a French scholar and writer stated, “Kabir is one of the best-known and most revered names in Indian tradition. From the Punjab to Bengal and from the Himalayan frontiers to South India, he has long been hailed by Hindus and Muslims alike as a great mystic and bold religious reformer…..In Indian religious history, Kabir is unique: to the Hindus, he is a Vaishnava bhakta, to Muslims a pir, to Sikhs a bhagat to the sectarian Kabir-panthis an avatar of the Supreme Being, to modern patriots, Kabir is the champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, to neo-vedantis a promoter of the Universal religion or the Religion of Man…”

There are more than 500 verses of Kabir in the Guru Granth Saheb, the holy scripture and the Guru forever of the Sikhs. Teachings of Satguru Kabir and that of Sikhism are akin. He met with strong opposition from Pandits and Maulivis alike. Sultan Sikandar Lodhi attempted to punish him by various means, but could not succeed. Lately, he was exiled from Kashi. The King of Kashi, Dharamdas, Mir Taqi, Ganaka, Pipa, Dhanna and Sadana were his renowned disciples and followers. 

Kabir breathed his last in 1518 at Magahar. In his memory the Hindus made a temple and the Muslims a tomb next to each other. 

In the wake of hatred all around on account of religious bigotry, lack of dialogue, and intolerance of others’ point of view, the following advice of Kabir Saheb is very relevant today: “Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye; Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye.” (Keep your critic/opponent close to you; give him shelter in your courtyard. That way, you do not need soap and water to keep your character clean.” Very rarely do we get to know our faults from our friends – and never from sycophants. Only a critic, holding different opinions, can tell us our shortcomings. 

The intellectuals respect Kabir not because he was a Hindu or a Muslim but a human being who preached love and affection, and had the courage to speak against all extremist ideologies and inequality on the basis of caste and birth without any hesitation. 

By Zile Singh
Ambassador (Retd.) 
———————-

Image may contain: 1 person, glasses
 
 
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JAYANTI OF SATGURU KABIR SAHEB.

619TH. JAYANTI OF SATGURU KABIR SAHEB.

Kabir Panthis all over the world are celebrating the 619th. Jayanti of Satguru Kabir Saheb. His teaching was impartial and non-sectarian, and has significance for people of any religion. He uttered, “kabir khade bazar mein, mange sab ki khair; na kahun se dosti, na kahun se bair.” He is in the public bazar wishing the welfare of all people. He did not consider some people as friends, and some as enemy. He said that he was not a Hindu or a Muslim, as these are labels that cannot be attached to the soul. The soul is the spirit of God dwelling in the depth of the heart of people of all religions, and also in the hearts of those who have no religion. Kabir Saheb did not try to reform any religion. He wanted to reform the hearts of people so they could realize the Truth and the Reality that they were. He wanted people to be consciously united with God, so he sang, “santo sahaj samadhi bhali.” Be aware of your natural unity with God.

Satguru Kabir was one of the foremost mystic saints of India. He was a weaver who taught that every person should earn his own living, but spare no effort in seeking the welfare of others. He is called the Father of Hindi Poetry such that “in a thousand years of Hindi literature, there has not been quite another.” Kabir taught on every aspect of human life – from the mundane to the sublime. He was a saint for all seasons, for all reasons. He was a revolutionary who sang against the tyranny of the powerful and privileged. He was a mahatma who taught love, tolerance and understanding amongst all people saying that we all have the same blood flowing in our veins; we are all born in the same way, and drink our mother’s milk; we all have the same flesh, skin and bones, and come from the same Divine source. By what knowledge then have we become different? His songs appealed to the hearts and minds of people. Among his followers were kings and paupers, priests and lay persons, who could identify with his teachings of love and brotherhood of all. Kabir was a lover of the Divine, and taught melodiously that the Beloved we seek is not far, but within us – we need only to open our spiritual eyes and behold Him. 

On this Jayanti it would be good to focus on the main principles Kabir Saheb taught: 

SALIENT PRINCIPLES OF KABIR PANTH 

1. Realize God within yourself through Sahaj Samadhi (Natural Union) and Surat Shabda Yoga.  
2. Practice purity in thought, word and deed, and serve God by serving humanity.
3. Love all people as yourself. There are no castes but Humanity before God.
4. Do not kill other creatures. Life is dear to them as yours is to you. Be compassionate. Avoid the grave consequences of Karma attached to killing.
5. Be a vegetarian, as this is the healthiest, least violent and the most humanitarian diet, conducive to spiritual growth. 
6. Get rid of the negative passions of lust, anger, greed, attachments and egoism.
7. Avoid all intoxicating drinks, drugs and smoking.
8. Obtain a qualified guru and follow his instructions and serve him/her.
9. Use spiritual discrimination to learn the Real from the unreal.  
Do not be fooled by false teachers, or be led astray by evil influences.
10. Be truthful always. There is no austerity greater than truth. 
11. Meditate regularly and realize your true Self, which is the Self-Existent Master within.
12. Be kind and charitable to the poor realizing that God dwells in him as in you. 

Dr. Jagessar Das

Kabir, Kabir Panth, Samadhi, Vegetarian, Surat Shabd Yoga

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THE “NEW” RELIGION?

 

THE “NEW” RELIGION?

 

In another essay, I mentioned that popular religion was a failure. There has to be some justification for such a statement. If popular religion is a failure, and most people all over the world feel the need for religion, then what do we do? We need to “create” a religion that makes us feel, understand and know our unity with God. After all, the very word “re-ligion” means to re-unite. We need to re-unite ourselves with God. But it is not really a re-uniting, but a realization of our already existent unity with God. Popular religions as practiced, do not help us to realize this unity with God. Yet, this ought to be the main function of religions. If religions could achieve this one core attribute, then religions would have achieved its goal. Here is what Swami Vivekananda said, “Religion is the manifestation of Divinity in man.” And Alan Watts said, “The work of the church ends when the knowledge of God begins.”

 

Let us see if we can develop some understanding of this unity. We must, however, realize that we are using our finite and limited knowledge to try to understand the Infinite Being that is Omniscient or All Knowledge. Let us start by thinking of matter, which is all material things, whether it is a gas, a liquid or a solid. Our bodies are made up of all three. Let us also consider energy that consists of heat, light, sound, magnetism and electricity. Can you think of any form of energy existing without matter? How can heat exist if there is no matter. How can electricity or magnetism exist? Similarly, we know that matter cannot exist without energy. Energy is in the wood that we burn to produce fire and heat. Light can come only from material things. Electricity can exist only if there are material things through which it can exist. Sound can exist only if there are material things to make it exist. So matter and energy must always exist together.

 

Now let us consider time and space. Can you think of matter existing if there were no space? We think of space existing in three dimensions, but nearly always between objects that consist of matter. Also within matter, there are atoms that consist of nuclei and electrons that are full of space between them. Thus matter and space must exist together. Can you think of any time existing without space? If events could not take place in space then, how could time exist? This is why scientists think of space-time as a continuum. So far then, we see a connection between time, space, matter and energy. Now, all of these appear to us to be different, because we have certain perceptions of them as being different. What is it that perceives them as being different?

 

We now come to the consideration of consciousness. With our limited consciousness we perceive certain differences in all of them. But what made them different and still co-existing from the very “beginning of time”. Or we can ask, how did they come into existence in the first place? There had to be a Conscious Principle that had to “motivate” the very existence of all of these. Now we know from our experience, that consciousness, as we know it, cannot exist without the energy in our body, or the matter, or the space or time. How did they all come about?

 

Can you imagine all of these coming from nothing? Of course, nothing can come from nothing. So there had to be “something”. But what? This is where the mystery of God comes in. And this is where our human ability to understand God stops. But we cannot deny the fact that there is existence of all of the things mentioned. And we can see that none can exist without the other. So they all had to exist from the very “beginning” if there were a beginning. Now, our scriptures and saints have said that God exists. Perhaps God is only another name for the combination of all of the things that exist. That includes us, and all the material things we see around us, including every type of matter, energy, space, and time. And all of these exist in us, and outside of us, at the same time. All matter consists of protons, neutrons and electrons. These sub atomic particles are of the same nature in every type of matter. Thus gold, iron, water, air, sun, moon, and humans – all things- have the same basic building blocks. How much more united can we get? So what exists? Is it not only God? Is it not God manifesting as you? Or as the tree? Or as the animal? Or as fire? Or as air, water and earth? Is it not only God manifesting as the sun, moon, stars, galaxies and everything else? No popular religion helps us to understand and realize this unity of “All Existence.” And it is the realization of this great unity that gives us enlightenment and inner peace and bliss. It is this realization that gives us our eternity. It is this realization that makes us understand our brotherhood in God. It is because popular religions do not give us this realization, that it is proper to say that popular religion is a failure. We need the “New Religion.” Satguru Kabir, emphasizing the same principle said, “jab mein tha, tab hari nahin, ab hari hai mein nahin (when I was aware of myself, then I felt separate from God; now I am aware that God is, and I dissolved into Him.”

 

Dr. Jagessar Das

 

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ARE YOU POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE?

ARE YOU POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE?

 

We need to focus our attention on the purpose of life. Consider the number of people in the world that spend a lot of time, energy and money, attending church, prayers, pilgrimages, reading, studying, scripture study groups, and temples at home. On a world scale countless people are involved, and they spend huge sums of money in trying to achieve something in life. What are they trying to achieve? And are they really achieving what they have set out to achieve? We need to consider that because we are in the same situation.

 

We know from teachings in the scriptures that we have a purpose in life, and that is to realize God, and develop other righteous attributes. But in order to achieve these, there are many processes involved. One such process is to know the negative and positive qualities in life. Now, what are some of the positive things we try to achieve by becoming religious, and by attending church services? A Few of them are truth, peace, love, faith, charity, contentment, forgiveness, honesty, sharing, understanding, compassion, self-realization and spirituality. Naming all of these is to focus our attention on them. I am sure that everyone who believes that there is God and go to church and offer prayers, instinctively know that these are attributes that we have to develop. But we lose focus. We forget about these attributes, so we have to refocus on them.

 

How about the negative qualities that we must know, and to avoid them. Some of these are stealing, greed, jealousy, gossip, hate, selfishness, ego, anger, lust, vanity, pride, and lack of compassion, understanding, caring and humility.

 

People all over the world are going to their places of worship, are praying, listening to sermons, participating in rituals, studying scriptures, and go on pilgrimages. Do you think that people are developing the desirable attributes? Think about the news around the world. There are conflicts based on religion, race and politics in several countries. People are being killed in large numbers by bombs, nerve gas, beheadings, guns, and hunger. Countless people are injured, and families are destroyed, and many become refugees. When people commit these atrocities to other people, then where are the noble attributes? If we do not manifest these, then we are not living a spiritual life. Our spirituality just becomes a show. It is empty. It is of no real benefit. And in the end we are condemning ourselves because we are not living the positive attributes, but living the negativity.

 

Apart from the violence just mentioned, also be aware of the ones mentioned above. Greed seeks wealth. Ego seeks fame, recognition and a sense of superiority. Jealousy compares one person with another, and impels him to be better. Gossiping is talking about other people often in a negative way. The rule is, “If you cannot say something good about somebody, do not say anything.” “You must do unto others, as you would have them do unto you” is the golden rule we need to follow. Hate is another evil attribute that causes a great deal of animosity, leading to racial, religious, political and social conflicts. Children say: “I hate….” The word “hate” is in their vocabulary, and becomes easy to act out. Remove the word hate. There is no need to hate anything. You may not like something, but you don’t have to hate it?

Selfishness asserts, “What’s in it for me.” How often are we motivated by generosity? Many people are selfish. Of course, some are more selfish than others. But selfishness is something that we have to give up because God has given us abundantly. He has given us life and everything in nature that sustains us – earth, sunlight, water, fresh air, and food. He has also given us inter-dependence. He supplied plants that produced oxygen for us, and plants use the carbon dioxide that we produce. Just as God is generous to us, let us be generous towards others, including everything in nature. According to your ability, be generous with money, compassion, time, love, understanding, empathy and support.

 

Anger eats away at people. The anger boils within, or towards other people or circumstances and they end up creating violence, killing, poisoning, stabbing, shooting, etc.

 

Lust is of several kinds, and is widespread. Soldiers may take women as sex slaves. Lust in women is called nymphomania, and in men it is called satyriasis. Then there is lust for money, ego satisfaction, power and dominance. Ego is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to spiritual life. It is opposite to humility. God gave you the gift of life, not the gift of ego. As the soul you have a direct connection with God. So where is room for ego? God would have none of your ego, so abandon it.

 

In spiritual life you have to realize that as a human beings with body, mind, consciousness, feelings, emotion, and all the “equipment” you need to act as human beings called “homo sapiens” (man with wisdom). So accept life with gratitude and humility. We recognize that God is our Master, and our Father, and He gave us life and consciousness. When we do not have this knowledge focused in our mind, we are in spiritual ignorance. When you are truly aware of your connection with God, then you live in God consciousness. It gives you bliss. Happiness comes and goes but bliss is permanent. There is nothing temporary about God. God is always a positive Power.

 

When you have knowledge of God, it does not leave you. It is an experience, obtained in a state called Samadhi. Samadhi means that you have seen the reality of God, expressing everywhere in this universe. God is not only in a certain place, or in a heaven or in paradise. But God is manifesting everywhere in this universe through His Omnipresence. He manifests in us.

 

Let us be aware of our connection with God, with one another and with all life and all of nature. We would then live in universal harmony.

 

 

Dr. Jagessar Das

 

Life, church, prayers, omnipresence, anger, greed, lust, golden rule.

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TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #7

TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #7
 
 
We have previously discussed the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. In this essay we need to explore what is meant by the omniscience of God. Since all of us are limited in our ability to know the Infinite and Absolute Being, we can nevertheless try to formulate some ideas of what omniscience can possibly mean. Let us say that we need to “stretch” our minds so that we develop a greater understanding of nature and how we fit into it.
 
Omniscience is derived from the Latin Omnis (all) and sciens (knowing). In Hindi or Sanskrit it is sarvagya. The question now is what or who is all-knowing, and what does all-knowing mean. The universe is infinite and as far as anyone can tell, it is eternal, so how can we form any ideas about omniscience that applies on the universal level? Fortunately we have intelligence that helps us to understand things if we apply it both objectively and subjectively to seek knowledge.
 
Knowledge is derived by certain means, and all people seeking knowledge use them consciously or unconsciously. The means are:
 
1. Observation. We observe things and events all around us, and we develop an awareness that certain things always happen under the same circumstances. For example, if you apply heat to water, it would become hot and then evaporate. This can be repeated by anyone anywhere, and the same results would occur. This then becomes knowledge.
 
2. Experimentation. This involves keen observation, measurement and recording of the results. Others repeat the experiment, and if the same results are obtained, then this becomes knowledge. All scientists use this method and scientific knowledge increases over time. All the scientific advancements around us are derived by this method, and we are all benefiting, as our lives have been made better.
 
3. Analogy. This involves comparing things and events, and if they always bear the same relationships, then we develop knowledge. A simple example would be, whenever there is smoke there must be fire.
 
4. Intuition. This type of knowledge develops from within oneself. Expressions such as “I have a hunch”, “I just got a bright idea”, or “I woke up with this idea”. Spiritual knowledge is nearly entirely intuitive knowledge, as we realize this at a personal level. It is an inner experience, and cannot often be explained in a meaningful way to others.
 
5. Authority. This is knowledge derived from authoritative sources such as books, scriptures and experts in different fields of knowledge. A great deal of our knowledge is derived from this last category.
 
There is an overlap in all of these ways of obtaining knowledge, but no matter how each of us derives knowledge, our type and level of knowledge vary, so no two of us can have exactly the same knowledge at any time in our lives. In the acquisition of knowledge by any means we have to use our rational ability, and mentally categorize them in memory for use as is needed.
 
Now coming back to omniscience, who has the capacity to have all the knowledge in the universe? Certainly, it could not be a person for people have finite abilities, and cannot grasp infinite knowledge. So again we must return to God as the only Being that has this ability. Just as we have ascribed omnipotence and omnipresence to God, just so we must ascribe omniscience to Him. All the knowledge that people have is merely partial discoveries of the knowledge already present in nature, in the universe and in God’s mind. But since we have a tiny fraction of the intelligence of God, we are able to have a tiny fraction of God’s knowledge. But sometimes we get carried away by our ego and assert our importance, forgetting that God holds the strings to our puppet-like lives. We need to accept any knowledge we have with a good dose of humility.
 
We can look at omnipresence from two viewpoints:
 
1. God’s viewpoint. This, as already mentioned, is that all knowledge is “contained” in God, and manifest in the universe. The intricate biochemistry and biological functions in all of us are beyond our full understanding. Even if we know why a function occurs in us, we do not know how it occurs. Similarly, we have minimal knowledge of our solar system, and next to nothing of the infinite universe. Yet all the knowledge is in God’s mind, and only He knows how and why we are all here, and our ultimate destiny.
 
2. Human viewpoint. In spiritual teaching it is often stated that if you know the basic component of things then you do not have to know the individual things in their various forms. For example, if you know gold, then you know that it is gold in the bangles, earrings, brooches, necklaces etc. If you know clay, then you know that everything made of clay is just clay. If you know one mountain, what need is there to try to know every mountain? By extension, if you know the basic component of all things in the universe, then you do not have to know each thing in the universe. This type of knowledge is meaningful only after you have withdrawn your physical senses from the material universe, and turned your mind inwards to “see” the basis of all existence. When you know God, is there any need to know in detail all the things that proceeded from God? You now know the source. This is the teaching of the masters.
 
Dr. Jagessar Das
 
Web. www.kabir.ca
 
omniscience, intuition, analogy (inference), experimentation, observation, infinite knowledge
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