I just read Chopra's latest book on the after life and what it holds. The majority of the book is some what inspiring and is almost entirely based on hindu beliefs. While his intentions seem to be good he also misquotes scientists and in some sections flat-out lies!
Chopra says that prayer has been scientifically proven to help heal the sick!
"The results of such experiments have been startlingly positive." pps 246-247
But I remember reading in Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," that all of the studies that have been done have proven that prayer has no effect on patients, and in the studies where the patients knew they were being prayed for, actually did worse!
So how can Chopra make such a claim?
He made the study himself with duke university. (www.noetic.org ) In this study he took cardiac patients that were to have some sort of serious procedure and assigned them to one of two groups. In one group the patients were not given any sort of spiritual or alternative medical help. In the other group they were given healing touching, prayer, meditation and sensory image therapy. Guess which one did better?
This is what he based his whole belief in prayer off of!
While I can respect him for trying to bridge the gap between the religious and the right, I can't help but point out he is going in the wrong direction.
This book is basically a watered-down, fluffed-up version of Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion."
On last thing about evolution, if you have time you should read this:
Also the Dalai Lama's "The universe in a single atom" is an excellent example of where religion and science should intersect.
I have been thinking about giving up meat for awhile but now have become committed to it. I am having some difficulty in finding recipes and sources for vegetarians.
I am not adopting this life style out of any statement or as judging that eating meat is wrong. In fact I quite enjoyed meat dishes, but have decided to adopt this diet as an "exercise" to help me in my life.
I have found this quote invaluable:
"Fasting is useful, when mind co-operates with starving body, when it cultivates a distaste for the objects that are denied to the body."
Like I said before This is not a post to condemn eating meat, it is a post to ask for help. I'm hungry any suggestions?
I'm reading the Autobiography of Gandhi and this section really stuck out at me. It's from the beginning chapters where he is reflecting on his childhood:
Only Christianity was at the time an exception. I developed a sort of dislike for it. And for a reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school and hold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could no endure this. I must have stood there to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade me from repeating the experiment. About the same time, I heard of a well known Hindu having been converted to Christianity. It was the Town that, when he was baptized, he had t eat beef and drink liquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in European costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religion that compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change one's own clothes did not deserve the name.
About the same time Mohandas had doubts about his own faith and his brother responded, "When you grow up, you will be able to solve these doubts yourself."
The idea of the universe to the general public is this infinite plain of existence that makes up our reality. One thought process farther we find ourselves thinking of the big bang and the expansion of the universe as a whole. So we have this idea in our head of a giant balloon being inflated from an internal spark. In any case people visualize the darkness of space and see that as the content of the universe and some invisible field that ends in the edge of the known universe. Known because this is what we know by looking up. The next step is that of speculation instead of deductive reasoning, because we ask ourselves what is out side of our little bubble of existence? This idea is flawed though because it is similar to asking whether it ever snows above the clouds.
The darkness of space and outer space is not the universe. This concept of what the universe is has been misleading for too long. The darkness of space is simply that Space. The mater and anti-mater that occupy some of the space is what our actual universe is. When the big bang occurred it did not expand out a bubble of black space and continue to push this invisible curtain of space ever outward, the blackness was already their. The big bang pushed mater outward.
The planets, dust, galaxies all of material existence burst from a singularity and moved out in an outward expansion that is traceable today. When scientists say that the universe is expanding, they are not referring to a glass ceiling but rather to the stellar drift of know planets. This expansion has been well documented. Most recently their has been some excitement to the idea due to the discovery a large black hole in our own galaxy that I causing our planet as well as vast other cosmic materials to spiral in a handle bar like swirl. The really fascinating part of this discovery is that of trace remnants of light particles left behind indicating planets have gone into this black hole and then been sling shot out at an incredible speed.
This concept of planets being launched into other galaxy is fascinating when you take into count the inevitability of life from the seemingly random and improbable formation of inorganic materials coming together to form life. The probability of life in our universe is that of 1: to an infinite number. While this seems like an extraordinary coincidence to have life in our universe we can deductively reason that we do because I am here and as the Rene Descartes once said, “I think, therefore I am.”
The point to all of this is that our galaxy is not isolated from other know galaxies. We look up at the constellations and feel small and insignificant compared to how far the distance is between our two galaxies but that gap has been bridged before. Our mater and “their” mater have been the same at one point in time. Imagine this for a second, what we see as a seemingly improbable distance to cover has already been traversed and the materials that make up distant worlds are the very same that make up ours. We are not so far away or isolated in our corner of this universe after all.
If you realize that we are carbon based organism and go solely off of that you will quickly realize that the materials of our world are what makes up us. Like the old saying goes “you are what you eat.” When you imbibe water that substance becomes apart of you. Don’t believe me? Weigh yourself before you drink water and then after, obviously you have gained exactly the same material onto yourself. If you have thoughts about coming from the ground and cannot simply take the bibles word of coming from clay you should look more closely to soil. The ground you walk on is there because of all that has come before you. Look at our moon, it is dead. The ground has neither the same color nor consistency as ours. The dust that makes up the moon is jagged because of the lack of wind and friction to wear down the edges and the make up of the actual ground itself is that of sand. Every planet that does not have life is at best simply a planet of Dunes.
The organic byproducts of life left behind form what we see in our gardens. The very make up of soil is the building blocks of life. We have coal, oil and natural gas from ancient forest growths that have been covered over with sediment and compressed into their very basic elements. These very same elements are burned by us and released into our atmosphere only to be rained back upon us or more prominently absorbed by our oceans. Which in turn are either absorbed by us as dissolved solids in our water or inhaled as an air particle. Our food is also made from these very same elements as well. Now, expand this concept to our moon. Our moon is actually a junk of earth that was knocked off during a prehistoric meteor strike. Our moon is us, we are our moon.
Take all of the above concepts and realize that in all of the infinite time the world has been here as we have known it that there has been this intermingling or “canoodling” or materials and you the vastness of space seems to melt away. In Christianity the concept of a transcendental God is a prominent theology and statements from prominent Christian philosophers are consistent. For example Marcus J. Borg says:
“And if the universe was enormous, maybe even infinite, where did a God “out there” fit in? Either I had to think of God as a being within the universe or else as “beyond” the universe (which made God very far away, at best). The bigger the universe got, the farther away God seemed. God began to seem quite remote.” 1
This “remoteness” is lost when you take in the interconnection of the entire world and the universe as a whole. We are literally everything that ever was and everything that will ever be. What I am made up of will make up one day my grandchildren or that of a few sprigs of grass that a great man will see being clipped and weep for the lose of a relative. This concept is simply an expansion on cause and effect. I exist so one day I will cease to exist. I am made up of material that was before me, so one day others will be made up of me.
1) Borg, Marcus J., “the God We Never Knew.” (HarperSanFansico, 1998) pg. 22
On the Feelings of Hot and Cold in Religious Practice
It should be noted that with religions and more importantly within practices their can be some misguiding. With the original Shackyamuni Buddha or Gotama he realized as a small child the “collective coolness” that leads you towards the path of enlightenment.
By meditating daily on the ardor of love and what it meant to apply this emotion to all living things including a few blades of grass Gotama was able to further himself. Gotama used this emotional compass to guide him away from the Ascetics of the old way into a dharma all his own. This spiritual compass is important to realize.
When I was attending a Christian church I felt nothing towards their God. I felt completely void of insight or feeling towards the practice of the parishioners. I discovered that when I adopted seclusion as my practice and furthered my own theology or a-theology independently I felt warmth to my studying.
During this period of being utterly lost on my chosen practice I tried to study all concepts of every faith to find what path should be my own. But I soon discovered that finding the right religion to fit me was pointless because conformity is not the solution. The idea is to free you from the limitations of elementary thoughts. Gotama upon achieving enlightenment under the bodhi tree does not say “I am liberated,” but “It is liberated!”1
This statement is not limited to just Buddha’s mind but to that of all human thought because when he tried to establish his own method of practice he ran into the simple fact that the human mind cannot achieve this concept of liberation over night or separate their attachments without first going through similar exercise that he himself undertook.
However it should be noted that after reaching enlightenment Gotama told or better said re-told the four noble truths. Gotama claimed these concepts of enlightenment have been said in previous existences but have been lost in time. These concepts of suffering and the derivation of suffering are not new concepts but rational conclusions that all people come to. The fourth noble is, “there is a method for achieving this goal which is the eight fold path.”
The eight fold path it should be noted though is not just the exclusive path to enlightenment but rather a byproduct of the journey. When you approach the truth of a situation you can feel a warmth of wisdom on your approach. In life we feel this regularly in life for example when a significant other feels content from a good dinner made by you or speaking thoughtful words to them.
This idea of using hot and cold to guide us is funny when you think about it because as children didn’t we use the same technique to find the “hidden treasure?” So, it should not be so foreign to us to realize that we should use the same concept in determining faith and theological facts.
If a practice leads you to fill cold or distant from what you are told is the final conclusion then you have strayed from your path. If a practice gives you the strength to move on in the direction you deem worthy that use that practice as it is intended, a stepping stone. Once you have moved beyond a concept do not pay it any more attention because it was simply a previous stage that should be discarded upon reaching the next.
This is why within religions their should be multiple practices, if there is not then we should not see this short fall for as a failure of the organization but rather as a limitation of the followers. An attempt to move them on should be made as well. But, the warmth of wisdom and insight should be your guiding light to achieve liberation and true happiness. Having the right mind, thought, action, etc., will follow as you reach these stages of understanding and spiritual growth.
1 Armstrong, Karen, “Buddha.” (Penguin lives, New York) 2001. pg. 85
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