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So...anything specific that you're interested in discussing?

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So...

 

Really no comments just a link? Why bother with a forum just post this shit to twitter... The point of a forum is to discuss. What are we discussing again???

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Too bad. I would have enjoyed having a discussion on Hinduism on this forum.

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I would like to discuss it too. I like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.

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Me too. I'm curious about the actual practices of modern Hindus as opposed to the philosophy.

 

Heh, that's something I might be able to actually discuss intelligently.  I perform the practices, even though I'm not sure I believe in any of the philosophy.

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I grew up fundy Christian, but became attracted to Hinduism around 15 years ago.  I love the legends and especially enjoy the practice of Kirtan (chanting), but I don't believe in god/gods. For me the traditions represent aspects of our humanity, and bring people together in some way, especially the community singing of kirtan.  I never felt this connection to tradition in Christianity.

 

Got to visit India in January of this year....I saw such a beauty in Hinduism (and Buddhism as well) that deepened my appreciation.  But for me the gods and goddesses represent parts of me, you, and everyone we know......Hindu Humanism maybe???

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Me too. I'm curious about the actual practices of modern Hindus as opposed to the philosophy.

 

Heh, that's something I might be able to actually discuss intelligently.  I perform the practices, even though I'm not sure I believe in any of the philosophy.

 

Hello Bhim, from your last sentence I am guessing that you may be agnostic on reincarnation.  Anyway, do you have a take on it?  Esp. stories that some child said or did stuff that seemed to suggest s/he had been an identified person in a past life?  The whole thing seems incoherent to me, whether in its Pythagorean/Platonist or its eastern variety, since I can't see how a person, whose identity is formed by life experiences and has a genetic basis, can be identical with an occult soul that lacks these features.

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Me too. I'm curious about the actual practices of modern Hindus as opposed to the philosophy.

 

Heh, that's something I might be able to actually discuss intelligently.  I perform the practices, even though I'm not sure I believe in any of the philosophy.

 

 

Which practices?

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I think the pracices probably are pujas (ritual feasts) and chants/prayers. Yes?

 

Do you have a guru, Bhim?

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I grew up fundy Christian, but became attracted to Hinduism around 15 years ago.  I love the legends and especially enjoy the practice of Kirtan (chanting), but I don't believe in god/gods. For me the traditions represent aspects of our humanity, and bring people together in some way, especially the community singing of kirtan.  I never felt this connection to tradition in Christianity.

 

Got to visit India in January of this year....I saw such a beauty in Hinduism (and Buddhism as well) that deepened my appreciation.  But for me the gods and goddesses represent parts of me, you, and everyone we know......Hindu Humanism maybe???

 

Yes, likewise for me it's largely the legends that I find most appealing about Hinduism.  Mind you, these were my bedtime stories growing up, so there's probably an element of familiarity to it.

 

 

Hello Bhim, from your last sentence I am guessing that you may be agnostic on reincarnation.  Anyway, do you have a take on it?  Esp. stories that some child said or did stuff that seemed to suggest s/he had been an identified person in a past life?  The whole thing seems incoherent to me, whether in its Pythagorean/Platonist or its eastern variety, since I can't see how a person, whose identity is formed by life experiences and has a genetic basis, can be identical with an occult soul that lacks these features.

 

 

 

As you say, I'd have to claim agnosticism, not only on the issue of reincarnation but pretty much all of Hinduism's supernatural claims.  I certainly wouldn't use the label "atheist" to describe myself though, since I aspire to one day believe in Hindu claims concerning the supernatural realm.

 

That said, it's hard not to be skeptical about recollections of past lives.  The problem is that whenever reincarnation is opened up to a possible test such as this, it seems to always fail the test.  People remember anachronistic details, are shown to have fabricated stories, etc.  I'm also not quite clear on why some people are supposed to remember past lives and others don't.  However, the idea of recalling a past life is consistent with a Hindu view of reincarnation.  Unlike the Buddhist take on the same doctrine, Hinduism teaches that our souls put on and discard lives in the same way a person puts on clothes at the beginning of the day and takes them off at the end.  I guess it's not clear, though, whether your sense of identity comes from your soul or your life experiences.

 

I think the pracices probably are pujas (ritual feasts) and chants/prayers. Yes?

 

Do you have a guru, Bhim?

 

Ths is pretty much how I would have answered Noggy's question.  I practice Hinduism by doing pujas, reciting sholkas, and going to temples.  Really this practice stems more from my desire to retreat as far from Christianity as possible (specifically into what I grew up with) rather than from any actual belief in Hinduism.  This is one of the convenient things about Hinduism though; unlike evangelical Christianity there are practices that one can obey, irrespective of belief or intellectual assent.

 

It's often said that every Hindu should have a guru.  As of yet I don't, though I would like to seek one out at some point in the near future.

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I grew up fundy Christian, but became attracted to Hinduism around 15 years ago.  I love the legends and especially enjoy the practice of Kirtan (chanting), but I don't believe in god/gods. For me the traditions represent aspects of our humanity, and bring people together in some way, especially the community singing of kirtan.  I never felt this connection to tradition in Christianity.

 

Got to visit India in January of this year....I saw such a beauty in Hinduism (and Buddhism as well) that deepened my appreciation.  But for me the gods and goddesses represent parts of me, you, and everyone we know......Hindu Humanism maybe???

 

Yes, likewise for me it's largely the legends that I find most appealing about Hinduism.  Mind you, these were my bedtime stories growing up, so there's probably an element of familiarity to it.

 

 

Hello Bhim, from your last sentence I am guessing that you may be agnostic on reincarnation.  Anyway, do you have a take on it?  Esp. stories that some child said or did stuff that seemed to suggest s/he had been an identified person in a past life?  The whole thing seems incoherent to me, whether in its Pythagorean/Platonist or its eastern variety, since I can't see how a person, whose identity is formed by life experiences and has a genetic basis, can be identical with an occult soul that lacks these features.

 

As you say, I'd have to claim agnosticism, not only on the issue of reincarnation but pretty much all of Hinduism's supernatural claims.  I certainly wouldn't use the label "atheist" to describe myself though, since I aspire to one day believe in Hindu claims concerning the supernatural realm.

Why?

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Bhim:  Regarding reincarnation, have you read the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson? He dedicated his life to compiling evidence for reincarnation, with a great many stories of children remembering past lives, and their bodies even had marks where they were shot, hung, run over, etc., when they died in an earlier life. All this really impressed me. One of his books is "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation". There used to be a few volumes of these books that I used to take out of the library when I was in high school. I think Stevenson compiled 3,000 or so stories.

 

I think that Tibetan Buddhism is very close to Hinduism. They have pujas, which they call tsoks, they chant sadhanas, they certainly believe in reincarnation and the idea is very similar to Hinduism; although they have a complicated philosophy that involves "emanations" where it isn't like an unchanging and concrete soul that incarnates, but habits and memories, which could go to several different bodies. There is also an intermediate stage of 40 days or less, before the next  incarnation where the person is in the Bardo and encounters all kinds of different experiences, as well.

 

You are right that in Hinduism, and also in Buddhism, belief is not required. That is one of the great things about it.   I studied the Advaita Vedanta of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and his guru, whose  name I can't spell, read books by several of Maharaj's students, and I studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism.

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Hello Bhim, from your last sentence I am guessing that you may be agnostic on reincarnation.  Anyway, do you have a take on it?  Esp. stories that some child said or did stuff that seemed to suggest s/he had been an identified person in a past life?  The whole thing seems incoherent to me, whether in its Pythagorean/Platonist or its eastern variety, since I can't see how a person, whose identity is formed by life experiences and has a genetic basis, can be identical with an occult soul that lacks these features.

 

 

 

As you say, I'd have to claim agnosticism, not only on the issue of reincarnation but pretty much all of Hinduism's supernatural claims.  I certainly wouldn't use the label "atheist" to describe myself though, since I aspire to one day believe in Hindu claims concerning the supernatural realm.

 

That said, it's hard not to be skeptical about recollections of past lives.  The problem is that whenever reincarnation is opened up to a possible test such as this, it seems to always fail the test.  People remember anachronistic details, are shown to have fabricated stories, etc.  I'm also not quite clear on why some people are supposed to remember past lives and others don't.  However, the idea of recalling a past life is consistent with a Hindu view of reincarnation.  Unlike the Buddhist take on the same doctrine, Hinduism teaches that our souls put on and discard lives in the same way a person puts on clothes at the beginning of the day and takes them off at the end.  I guess it's not clear, though, whether your sense of identity comes from your soul or your life experiences.

 

 

 

Thanks, Bhim.  Your "clothes" metaphor is like depictions of reincarnation in Plato. 

 

Like Ralet, I'm wondering why you aspire to believe in Hindu claims about the supernatural realm some day.

 

Cheers, F

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Bhim:  Regarding reincarnation, have you read the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson? He dedicated his life to compiling evidence for reincarnation, with a great many stories of children remembering past lives, and their bodies even had marks where they were shot, hung, run over, etc., when they died in an earlier life. All this really impressed me. One of his books is "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation". There used to be a few volumes of these books that I used to take out of the library when I was in high school. I think Stevenson compiled 3,000 or so stories.

 

Hi Deva.  This is interesting.  In the past I've never been impressed by supposed evidences for reincarnation or recollection of past lives, but of course I'm fully open to the idea.  Maybe when I have some free time I'll check this out, thanks.

 

Thanks, Bhim.  Your "clothes" metaphor is like depictions of reincarnation in Plato. 

 

Like Ralet, I'm wondering why you aspire to believe in Hindu claims about the supernatural realm some day.

 

Cheers, F

 

 

Also interesting, I didn't know that Plato makes this analogy.  It actually isn't my own; it comes from chapter 2, verse 22 of the Bhagavad Gita, which likens reincarnation to putting on new clothes.

 

As to yours and Ralet's question, as I've said before when it comes to spirituality the question "what's true?" has always been secondary, in my mind, to "what works?"  I realize that might sound strange coming from a trained scientist, but I try to be very practical in this matter.  Now, that's probably why I bought into Christianity in the first place despite the overwhelming disparity between Christian doctrine and reality, but it's also why I ultimately left (i.e. it stopped working).  As a person I know I'm simply not well-suited to atheism, and lack of belief in the supernatural is not a position I'd personally like to hold.  At the moment I unfortunately see very little evidence for the supernatural, but despite this I think my life would be somewhat enhanced by believing in the supernatural claims of Hinduism nonetheless.  I think this gives one more spiritual fulfillment in the practice of this particular religion, as opposed to practicing without belief.  Or to be more specific, I think it would give me more spiritual fulfillment.

 

Don't know if that explanation made much sense, but you and Ralet (or anyone else) can feel free to question me further if you'd like.

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As to yours and Ralet's question, as I've said before when it comes to spirituality the question "what's true?" has always been secondary, in my mind, to "what works?"  I realize that might sound strange coming from a trained scientist, but I try to be very practical in this matter.

 

Actually, I found that a big difference for me between a scientific mindset and the fundy mindset I grew up with is that science is ok with collecting truths, where truths mean "things that keep working out in reality", whereas the fundies are all freaked out about The Singular Absolute Truth and can't accept conditional truths (or anything that sounds like relativism or uncertainty). As a fundy, I was frustrated that I only had a collection of true things about god and ethics and was very upset that I couldn't discern the Absolute Rules that all the particulars are derived from. I was sure there was One Right Answer to every conflict in life, and never any grey areas. But science helped me see that, though it's still about pursuing the big picture patterns that uninte phenominon, the truths we have figured out about the particular are still valuable. Even "untruths" that are mere approximations of The Truth are still true enough within certain limits, and a helluva lot easy to work with than the Real Truths - and that knowing when it's acceptable to use a true-enough simplification is a sign of intelligence, not of moral failure.

 

I personally am quite happy to think of myself as an atheist and to consider anything supernatural to be not-true, yet... some of it I can still useful. I tend to think of it as "archetypes" instead of gods if I go that route, and that humans are storytellers and that it's ok to suspend disbelief temporarily in order to absorb a healthy moral from a fictional story. Sometimes it's just fun to play "what-if" and explore the implications of a cosmology (in the religious, not scientifc, sense) that I don't believe in.

 

 

On the original topic, I'm a little fuzzy on whether Braham is a deity or some philisophical Ground of Being beyond the gods. And has that even been consistent throughout history? I read a book about the Vedic religion once that seemed to suggest that there was an idea of some sort of impersonal Order that the gods were a sort of outpouring of? And that the power of the gods is sorta in aligning with that higher truth? And that the purpose of rituals is to take the broken human world and make it align more with the ideal. Kinda reminds me of the Kemetic idea of Ma'at. But I'm not sure how many nuances of those beliefs I didn't understand, and whether or not that's how Hindus today believe. I suppose my questions are: Is Brahman a deity, and how does Brahman relate to the [other?] gods?

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The transcendent in this sense is supposed to be transcendent of everything, all words and all thought. How does it go? 

 

"The tongue has never soiled it with a name." 

 

The Gods, all metaphors for a mystery that transcends all thinking. 

 

I don't really see how the supernatural ties into literal existence in the context of Eastern transcendental doctrine. Even reincarnation for that matter. I think it was in the Power of Myth interviews where Bill Moyer asks Joseph Campbell if reincarnation is metaphor and he sharply responds, "of course reincarnation is a metaphor." 

 

Talking about the question of absolute ultimates is to head in the direction of something that only be touched on by way of metaphor and analogy. I'd say that reincarnation is a metaphor for the mystery of life and death. Some people get confused - as Christians do - and mistake the language of mythology as hard fact. Thinking we literally reincarnate is hardly different than thinking that we literally fly off to some magical realm far away called heaven. And the so-called proofs for reincarnation are hardly different than the so-called proofs for Christians going off to heaven. None add up to scrutiny. For instance the idea of having a bullet wound in a current body because you were shot in a past life. WTF does a current living body have to do with a deceased one? The more you get into it the more foolish it will become and why? 

 

Because that's what happens when metaphorical mythology is taken as hard concrete historical fact. It's a slippery slope.

 

And if the climax of a spiritual experience is coming to a transcendental realization then these historical and literal wags are curves in the road, road blocks even, keeping the eyes off the price wouldn't you think?  

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Bhim:  Regarding reincarnation, have you read the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson? He dedicated his life to compiling evidence for reincarnation, with a great many stories of children remembering past lives, and their bodies even had marks where they were shot, hung, run over, etc., when they died in an earlier life. All this really impressed me. One of his books is "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation". There used to be a few volumes of these books that I used to take out of the library when I was in high school. I think Stevenson compiled 3,000 or so stories.

 

Hi Deva.  This is interesting.  In the past I've never been impressed by supposed evidences for reincarnation or recollection of past lives, but of course I'm fully open to the idea.  Maybe when I have some free time I'll check this out, thanks.

 

Thanks, Bhim.  Your "clothes" metaphor is like depictions of reincarnation in Plato. 

 

Like Ralet, I'm wondering why you aspire to believe in Hindu claims about the supernatural realm some day.

 

Cheers, F

 

 

Also interesting, I didn't know that Plato makes this analogy.  It actually isn't my own; it comes from chapter 2, verse 22 of the Bhagavad Gita, which likens reincarnation to putting on new clothes.

 

As to yours and Ralet's question, as I've said before when it comes to spirituality the question "what's true?" has always been secondary, in my mind, to "what works?"  I realize that might sound strange coming from a trained scientist, but I try to be very practical in this matter.  Now, that's probably why I bought into Christianity in the first place despite the overwhelming disparity between Christian doctrine and reality, but it's also why I ultimately left (i.e. it stopped working). 

 

But religious experiences "work" because at some point you have to believe the religion/gods are true/real, so you accept it as the "truth". I understand that faith and religious experiences are fulfilling and I wish I could have something like that, but I think it is not possible to make yourself believe. I assume you came to christianity because of outer influences and indoctrination by other people, so it wasn't an active decision to believe. Even if you can believe in the supernatural claims one day, don't you think it will stop working at some point again, because you start doubting? Why do you want to put yourself through this process again?

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The transcendent in this sense is supposed to be transcendent of everything, all words and all thought. How does it go? 

 

"The tongue has never soiled it with a name." 

 

The Gods, all metaphors for a mystery that transcends all thinking. 

 

I don't really see how the supernatural ties into literal existence in the context of Eastern transcendental doctrine. Even reincarnation for that matter. I think it was in the Power of Myth interviews where Bill Moyer asks Joseph Campbell if reincarnation is metaphor and he sharply responds, "of course reincarnation is a metaphor." 

 

Talking about the question of absolute ultimates is to head in the direction of something that only be touched on by way of metaphor and analogy. I'd say that reincarnation is a metaphor for the mystery of life and death. Some people get confused - as Christians do - and mistake the language of mythology as hard fact. Thinking we literally reincarnate is hardly different than thinking that we literally fly off to some magical realm far away called heaven. And the so-called proofs for reincarnation are hardly different than the so-called proofs for Christians going off to heaven. None add up to scrutiny. For instance the idea of having a bullet wound in a current body because you were shot in a past life. WTF does a current living body have to do with a deceased one? The more you get into it the more foolish it will become and why? 

 

Because that's what happens when metaphorical mythology is taken as hard concrete historical fact. It's a slippery slope.

 

And if the climax of a spiritual experience is coming to a transcendental realization then these historical and literal wags are curves in the road, road blocks even, keeping the eyes off the price wouldn't you think?  

 

Indeed.

 

In the end proof is proof. It is not a nice mythilogical guess for any reason. Either it holds water or it leaks and I have never seen a religion, belief in a god(s) or transcindental anything that had hard proof or any proof for that matter.

 

Why can't people accept that just because we don't know and we don't understand is no reason to keep using methods of old superstition to answer anything. We live in an age of technology and science. Why can't they put down the fear that drives such small beliefs. I know why I am just ranting a bit. Sorry.

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The transcendent in this sense is supposed to be transcendent of everything, all words and all thought. How does it go? 

 

"The tongue has never soiled it with a name." 

 

The Gods, all metaphors for a mystery that transcends all thinking. 

 

I don't really see how the supernatural ties into literal existence in the context of Eastern transcendental doctrine. Even reincarnation for that matter. I think it was in the Power of Myth interviews where Bill Moyer asks Joseph Campbell if reincarnation is metaphor and he sharply responds, "of course reincarnation is a metaphor." 

 

Talking about the question of absolute ultimates is to head in the direction of something that only be touched on by way of metaphor and analogy. I'd say that reincarnation is a metaphor for the mystery of life and death. Some people get confused - as Christians do - and mistake the language of mythology as hard fact. Thinking we literally reincarnate is hardly different than thinking that we literally fly off to some magical realm far away called heaven. And the so-called proofs for reincarnation are hardly different than the so-called proofs for Christians going off to heaven. None add up to scrutiny. For instance the idea of having a bullet wound in a current body because you were shot in a past life. WTF does a current living body have to do with a deceased one? The more you get into it the more foolish it will become and why? 

 

Because that's what happens when metaphorical mythology is taken as hard concrete historical fact. It's a slippery slope.

 

And if the climax of a spiritual experience is coming to a transcendental realization then these historical and literal wags are curves in the road, road blocks even, keeping the eyes off the price wouldn't you think?  

I agree with you to an extent. But I disagree that the proofs for reincarnation are no better than the so-called proofs of heaven. The proofs of reincarnation are extensive and documented. True, they are stories only, and it is not scientific proof such that we can at this particular time reproduce in a lab. But it is proof of a kind. I suppose this kind of proof, which consists of quite a few accounts, isn't persuasive in the scientific sense of the word. But Ian Stevenson studied this phenomenon to explain some odd psychological occurrences he could not otherwise account for. 

 

A metaphor is a symbolic representation of something that is real.  If you say reincarnation is a metaphor for life and death, you have to show how it relates. Reincarnation postulates a continuity of the core of what makes "you" what you are after physical death. It is a particular type of continuity, not a broad one like saying "life and death".. How, then, is it a metaphor of life and death and not something much more that that? Just saying "life and death" doesn't really mean much.

 

Yet, you do say it is a mystery, and so that word "mystery" is your saving grace. I can accept that.

 

We cannot with absolute certainty say what happens after death. But to me the balance of the evidence is that life continues in another form. I don't know, but I have read some very compelling evidence that death is not the end - literally.

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I think you sort of get where I'm going. 

 

The mystery part is key. The first function of a traditional mythology is the mystical function. This is keying in on the mystery factor underlying the whole of existence, the existence of anything and everything. Why does anything even exist at all? This is an absolute mystery to the mind. If something exists now, could there have been a point where nothing existed at all? These are questions the human mind has tangled with from ancients times to the forefront of modern cosmological speculation. 

 

And these types of questions are no better answered now than they were back then. The best we have now is the concept of a multiverse - of infinite parallel universes extending forever with no fixed beginning or end. In that past we simply called that an eternal "God." Now it's merely a speculative summary of the natural universe and what may lie beyond, forever. What we conceptualized as Supernatural is simply the Natural, from a modern angle. 

 

But do you see where I'm going with the mystery thing? 

 

The first function is relevant. These Hindu Gods, for instance, are metaphors for the actual mystery of existence itself. The part that's literal here, and I agree there is a literal part to it, is simply existence itself. And existence is natural. What ever exists, exists as a natural part of existence whether extending out infinitely or whatever.

 

What is natural is grounded in a potentially infinitely out of reach mystery underlying it all and 'ingrained into it all'. Existence is literal, it's underlying mystery is philosophical and ingrained into every aspect of existence. The religious function is address to the mystery underlying and ingrained into everything. The Hindu's ought to be more in tune with this than the Christians though, because Eastern religion makes it quite more obvious that metaphor is being used and that the transcendent has to do with going beyond all categories of thought. 

 

At the end of the day no matter what religious terms or language we use, we are doing nothing more than speaking about the mystery underlying all of existence which is beyond naming or conceptualizing. All concepts fall short of what we're actually trying to get at because it's a mystery infinitely out of reach. And that leads into every other topic such as reincarnation and others.  Something like the mystery of life and death is straight away tied into the first function of mythology as described above. 

 

I'm a bit of an Idealist Pantheist and I readily suspect that mind and existence are the same exact thing. I don't claim it as hard fact but I do suspect that consciousness is primary. And it makes me mystical in that way. But even then, the mystery underlying the very existence of a primary consciousness is absolute. This still funnels down to the first function and what Campbell called "the mystery of the metaphor." My spiritual experience has been to look past supernatural imagery, past cosmological models, past concepts of any type to the great unknown and accept that it's, well, unknown. And then relate that great unknown back to my personal existence. It's nothing to be afraid of, it's simply the core of my own being and the being of all beings. I am eternal in the sense that I exist and "I am" therefore an aspect of existence itself, which could not have possibly began and can not possibly end. It just mysteriously exists with no fixed meaning or reason for existing in the first place. It is what is. And "I am what I am", and you are what you are... 

 

How I relate that to reincarnation is that everything we are is the endlessly recycling fabric and structure of existence itself, the eternal. Reincarnation, to me, seems like a tool used to point back to this deeply philosophical human realization about the mystery of mere existence relating to our own personal existence. As long as I stay focused on the root core and hold to the notion that deep deep down I am merely existence itself here in human form experiencing consciousness from a human perspective, well then I can see that "I am all that ever was, is, or shall ever be." I find deep insight in the Neith / Isis inscription at Sais.

 

This is true in a strict sense. The Goddess symbolism can lead the mind down a path of self recognition and identification if you understand it in reference to your self. What's the Hindu parallel to this? Aditi / Devaki? The great virgin who gives rise to the sun and yet retains her status as virgin - "No mortal man hath me unveiled." This is straight away pointing and directing the mind into melting into the mystery of mere existence, the whole. Existence gives rise to forms and images and then takes them back again but all along these forms and images that appear to come and go, never came and went anywhere. It's perpetual. What seems to come and go is completely visual. Existence has held steady right through it all. We're perpetual too as long as we understand that we're it, that great mystery of the metaphor which has always been and will always be.

 

We don't know exactly the mystery of life and death, or the creation of the world for that matter. 

 

These myths try to explain it in simple terms. But I don't think the life and death concepts are any more literal than the creation concepts are literal. They all merely point back to the mystery underlying it all and can help the mind along into pushing away the fear of the great unknown by understanding that we are that. We are the great unknown attempting to reveal it's own secrets....

 

That may or may not make sense. 

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But religious experiences "work" because at some point you have to believe the religion/gods are true/real, so you accept it as the "truth". I understand that faith and religious experiences are fulfilling and I wish I could have something like that, but I think it is not possible to make yourself believe. I assume you came to christianity because of outer influences and indoctrination by other people, so it wasn't an active decision to believe. Even if you can believe in the supernatural claims one day, don't you think it will stop working at some point again, because you start doubting? Why do you want to put yourself through this process again?

 

 

 

 

These are some good points you raise.

 

So first, I'd point out that I'm not sure that religious experiences "work" only when one moves toward belief in the religion.  It's rather strange for me to say that, given that I've said I aspire to believe in the truth claims of Hinduism.  But I do think that I could have a fulfilling experience in this religion even if I don't ultimately come to believe in it.  Secondly, with regards to the idea of belief as an active choice: as we've discussed in the thread on this very subject, I don't know that the question has an easy answer.  We're talking about the nature of free will here, and that's very much an open question among philosophers.  I go with the assumption that I can in fact decide what I believe.  But I admit I can't say for certain whether that's true or not.

 

Finally, there's your question of whether I might start doubting my religious belief due to its ceasing to work.  Maybe I'm a bit out of the ordinary here, but doubt is not something I've ever really experienced in the religious sense.  Like I've said before, I didn't initially convert to Christianity because I doubted Hinduism.  And when I left Christianity, my transition to disbelief happened within the span of a few days, and there wasn't much of a doubting period at all.  For me, belief seems to follow the decision to adopt a certain position.  Maybe that's backwards, but it's always been the way I've operated.  I first chose to be a Christian, and then the belief followed.  I later chose to leave Christianity, and only at that point did I stop believing.  So if I ever stop believing in Hinduism again, it'll be because it stopped working.  Having said that, I think I've had enough religious conversion for one lifetime, so I doubt I'll ever change religions again.  My bad experience with Jesus (to put it mildly) has let me see the folly in that!

 

As a corollary, since I've never gone through a doubting process for any serious length of time, I've never really experienced the anguish that many go through as they struggle with their lack of faith.  So this likewise isn't something I'm ever worried about experiencing myself.  It may be that at an intellectual level, I approach religion from a far more practical standpoint than most people...

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Joshpantera: Thank you for explaining. Now that you have gone into more detail, I see where you are coming from. Perhaps I am still a shade more literalistic when it comes to reincarnation, but I totally understand and agree that mystery is at the heart of existence.

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