Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Developing Generosity of Spirit

Have you ever been a victim of circumstance? Or do you get what's coming to you every single time?

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," Galatians VI. It is said that this means that your thoughts and deeds, good or bad, will repay you in kind. What you give, you get back. The thoughts and feelings that occupy your mind, will attract circumstances to your life of the same quality.

Another example: You may love some people and dislike others. You are, therefore, sowing mixed seeds. Therefore, what you reap will be equally mixed, blessings and suffering. Can you see this law of cause and effect in your life? If you can find a way to see everyone in their highest potential, to see the good in all, would you reach the abundance in life that for many, represents heaven on earth? By seeing the good in all, would all good come your way?

Without question, the world can be an unfriendly and cold place to live. Encouraging others around us so that they can shine is a gift that we all can offer each other. In fact, is there really a better gift to extend? When we remember that it is more important to extend love than to be number one or front and center, we express our belief in the importance of being generous of spirit.

What do YOU think?

Artwork by Nancy Standlee. Many thanks.

107 comments:

Alexander M Zoltai said...

"If you can find a way to see everyone in their highest potential, to see the good in all, would you reach the abundance in life that for many, represents heaven on earth?"

This reminded me of this:

"It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving-kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and loving-kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 445)

~ Alex

Derek said...

Yes, I could see this karma at work in my life when I first took up Zen practice. Through zazen (meditation), I became very aware of those I had a problem with, and sometimes they may have been fleeting meeting with a person who had upset me in some way. But I have found, that the real issue was with me or my conditioned mind (ego), and would mentally be saying things like, "don't let them get away with it!" or "how dare he/she say that to me!"... You know the sort of thing?

In zazen these "indignant" thoughts would really surface big time, and I would even imagine myself saying something what I "should have said" to get a one-up-man-ship or to "put them in their place!" It would even be most uncomfortable at times as I couldn't do anything with the frustration I was feeling.

But Zen practice teaches you to do nothing but observe and it was quite amazing the way these petty conflicts always would resolve themselves. I could then think of the "offending" person without feeling anything and the incident would become "so what?"

It seems to me, that when we "attack" others if only in our thoughts, we are creating bad karma for our selves. More evidence that "all is one".

Lee said...

It sounds an awful lot like 'the golden rule' to me. Do you reap what you sow? There is still a little bit inside me that believes this may well be the case.

I was talking today to somebody about human rights, and he posited that there is no such thing, that all human rights are written on bits of paper, and not intrinsic to human kind.

I strongly disagree and ask that if he thinks about hs own life a little does he find that one of his stronger motivations is to live life how he wants to.

I would expect that the vast majority of us would answer yes to this question. We want to enjoy the freedom to do as we please to think how we want, to enjoy at least some freedom of individuality and expression of such.

It seems to me that if I want to enjoy this, then I am not that different from the rest of us. How then to best enable others rights, whilst not trampling over your own?

Perhaps obtaining this balancing act, is one of life's great secrets, heh, and perhaps not.

Juan said...

I believe in those basic principals, though in effect the golden rule is more subtle. 'Good' people are subjected to suffering, and 'bad' people are rewarded. Good people who suffer do not see the suffering as punishment and are able to bear it more gracefully. Bad people who are rewarded cannot recognize it, or cannot enjoy it the same as one who is blameless. This is true, because I wish it to be so. :)

If you give instead of take, no matter what happens in life, you know that the good that is returned to you you deserve, and the bad you do not.

Molly Brogan said...

For me, the idea of generosity of spirit, would mean imagining that these people find loving and fulfilling relationships, and treating them in our thoughts and deeds, as if this is, indeed, their path. When Neville advises us to "imagine something wonderful for yourself and another" he understands that others reflect to us our own inner workings, and that by treating them with love and seeing the good in them, we treat ourselves the same way.

Bainjot said...

There is definitely importance of being generous of spirit. The difficult thing is that when we are treated badly by anyone it is hard to ignore it and we instinctively retaliate.

I am a Hindu and we believe that it is because of our karma (actions - good or bad)that we are here and the only way to moksha (salvation) is to be free from them. So by doing good we will reap the benefits of good karma and eventually reach realization and be free from this duality.

Of course it is easily said than done, and the essence is to go on with your life and be to others as you would expect yourself to be treated regardless of what befalls you.

Interesting stuff this - isn't it?

Lee said...

Hey Bainjot,

Welcome! Yes it is very interesting, this thing called life is full of the interesting, the sad, the painful, the good, and most of the funny.

I mean if you look right, you can find humour mostly anywhere.

Josh said...

I'm with you Bainjot. I a firm believer in Karma. But I think there are other forces that sometimes override it. Either that or it is very sensitive.

Sandra said...

Generosity comes in all forms. We often do well with people we like or people we know. But true generosity can come in the form of the people we don’t like. We can still wish them well and acknowledge that they have a place in the universe. When we are able to do that, we balance the intent to a place of love.

Mahalia said...

It's not what you think you ARE; it's what you THINK you Are!

Molly Brogan said...

Generosity of spirit can certainly be accomplished with thought. One of Neville Goddard's (mystic) sayings is "Think of something wonderful for yourself and another." If our thoughts create our reality, than being generous in our thoughts will bring a generosity of spirit into our life that translates into peace and joy.

Thomas said...

I agree with Josh,I am not a Hindu myself but I do follow some Hindu principles and I,we are all victims of karma burdened by ourself in our past lives.The terrible things we did in our previous life will come back and hit us,and so on and so forth.We,as human beings will always make mistakes and and we will have no recollection of our mistakes therefore our karma will always haunt us.We will always remain on this earth unless we live out our duties and fulfill our destinies.Weather it be billions of years we will only go home when we are called home.

Vamadevananda said...

My, my, Tom !

You have a large heart to have even considered the possibility, in truth.

Thomas said...

Maybe,but this is the only logical and rational way at looking our situation on earth.What other possibility can there be?

Molly Brogan said...

I must say that to look out at everyone, and see them as becoming, in their highest potential and, in spite of their apparent mistakes and foibles, as doing the best they can in grace of with their karma - then you truly do have generosity of spirit, Thomas.

Thomas said...

Well one must really try to do this or one will create a bigger stack of karma letters.

Molly Brogan said...

There is a point, in the development of the soul, when it is released from the karmic wheel and becomes more of a receptacle for eternal identity. At this point, soul as intermediary between person and spirit is no longer needed. Souls steps aside and allows direct experience with spirit, serving in a more supportive role, as the keeper of the memory archive. Also at this point, we can consciously understand that not all of life is governed by the same laws of cause and effect. When we understand that their is one cause (divine will), our soul can retire and enjoy a more integrated role in our life, without having to do the dirty work of reminding us of our karma.

Thomas said...

I would think that ones soul was at rest on Gods side side but one may think many things.

Keith said...

Whew. Not easy to do. But I'm sure it must be more complex than that. No good in a Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler.

ornamentalmind said...

There may be 'no good in a Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler." when it comes to history. When it comes to 'reality', not so much.

Thomas said...

Well these two people were the same as us.If they took that path then what is to say we will not.How do we know that I will not become the next deadliest terrorist on this earth,so in reality it can it is very important.

Molly Brogan said...

VERY important.

Keith said...

Everything exists from the perspective of the observer. But God is the ultimate observer, in my opinion, and his perspective alone really matters. Perhaps Adolf Hitler was quite insane and God takes that into account. Perhaps Saddam was similarly deranged in his capacity to think. Maybe people like them will someday be another Mother Teresa.

Molly Brogan said...

I agree, the perspective of God is the ultimate viewpoint. If we are taking the point of the witness from God within us, all viewpoints matter and all are integral.

Pat said...

Also, there's the old 'what if things had been slightly different' kind of scenario. For example, if Hitler hadn't been set on decimating the Jewish population, maybe he would have focused more on trying to achieve nuclear weapons and would have used them throughout Europe killing countless many more across the continent. It's difficult enough to know the mind of another, but to know the mind of God, in toto, is just beyond our capacity. If God is omniscient, then, I'm afraid, Hitler was as vital to the whole as is any of us. Irrespective of how he was or is perceived, God seemed to think him necessary and space-time stands as a testament to that.

Thomas said...

Well god even finds it necessary for us to go to the loo.Many lives will change because of that,even the smallest things can cause major trouble.

Pat said...

It's not just humans that leave waste behind them; it's a function of all forms of life. In fact, some of us humans take great pride in being able to discern the highest qualities of, what is essentially, 'yeast piss'. Wee take lovely fresh fruit juices and put these lovely little yeast cells into the mix, seal it up, and wait for the little buds to eat up the natural sugars and pee out their alcohol, so that we can relish imbibing the resulting mix.

Thomas said...

That's the think none of what we have is truly ours,we are bounded by our wants and needs.

Pat said...

Whilst I agree that we are bounded by our needs, what we desire (want) can change and if we cannot change what we want, then we are obsessed and have a pathological relationship with our desires.

Thomas said...

Well our needs cause our suffering.The need for food, shelter, sex.These are suffering exercises.

Pat said...

The need for sex? As an individual, we have no God-given right to procreate. Although we have been given the means to procreate, we have a social structure that allows for competition in that regard. As for the God-given right to have an orgasm, one doesn't require another individual to cause that effect. If one is suffering from a lack of sex, one can handle that oneself and there's no need for anyone to suffer.
If you're discussing the need to love and be loved, then suffering in that regard is clearly an emotional attitude.
Personally, I would prefer to be in a relationship, but it's just not on the cards at the moment. But I only suffer if I choose to wallow in self-pity. And, one can perhaps suffer more when IN a relationship, if it's not working. At the moment, I'm single, so why not go with that?
With respect to the requirements of food and shelter, these are different breeds. Food is a requirement for all forms of life, so we are not special in that regard. Shelter is required due to our human frailty. We used to live in caves and that was good enough to have gotten many to survive beyond that point. A tumbledown shack in a shantytown may seem like a palace to a man who bedded down in a 7-foot by 3-foot cleft in the rock.
Suffering is an attitude.

Bainjot said...

Hey Molly

you have really started a great discussion topic - and some very interesting points made.

Your discription of the Soul at this point, is the point of Self- Realization. To get to this stage is a feat in itself but once there, things become much clearer and then nothing really seems to matter and the 'soul steps aside and allows direct experience with spirit....' (surrender). After all as Lord Krishna says in the Bhagwad Gita; there is no reason to lament for the body and the greivances therein, it is after all just a body and will die in due course - THE SOUL OF COURSE NEVER DIES. Of course due to karma you will have to repeat the cycle of birth and death until as Mr. Tom states ..'we will only go home when we are called home'.................

Keith said...

And let us not forget the butterfly effect. The tiniest of factors may make an incredible difference. The plans to make a submarine were once thrown into a tizzy because someone put a decimal point in the wrong place. A kind word or gesture may be all it takes to cause a person to take a different path. An insult, even a misunderstood facial expression can result in a deep-seated prejudice.

Thomas said...

Brilliant comment and realization.

Molly Brogan said...

I think that generosity of spirit must begin with oneself. Can you be generous enough with yourself to allow the emergence of your highest potential? Can you see all aspects of yourself (including what you leave in the loo) and integral parts of life that all have an importance and a value? "knock and the door shall be opened to you." I don't see much suffering in that! What kind of life would you give
yourself? What attitude, emotion, viewpoint would best facilitate that? The butterfly effect is possible at the level of being where there is no separation, so what is effecting other effects us because there is only Brahman - the only limitations you have are the self imposed. But you have to have patience, and faith.

Pat said...

Absolutely. In the Butterfly Effect, we find that everything matters. Almost, seemingly, that the smaller the event, the wider the implications, thus Schroedinger's Cat's life depending on a seemingly random radio-decay. So, I HAVE to finish this cigarette, as the universe requires its smoke and ash. ;-)

Keith said...

Which leads me to a completely different topic. In Heaven, according to a spiritualist (James van Praague or something spelled silmilarly to that) its been suggested that you can indulge in vices like smoking and there are no negative health consquences. One guy who communicated with his daughter (he was the "dead" one) said that when he realized he had died the first thing he did on the other side was have a shot of whiskey.

Molly Brogan said...

I think, that in the spirit of generosity of spirit, we can say that heaven is what you make of it. And allow for those with developmental delays, and everyone, their identity with grace and blessing.

Thomas said...

Well this is a good thought and nobody can return a comment of wrongness.

Pat said...

If the afterlife is anything like lucid dreaming, then it would be exactly what we make it. If we're not happy with what we've done, we damn ourselves. What could be more fair? Whereas, if we can live with what we've done, and see it as a functional part of the whole of space-time, then why shouldn't we be relatively care-free about it?

Keith said...

I think that is in line with traditional Islamic thinking. All of us are eventually destined for Heaven. But according to classical writer Dante (The Divine Comedy) some people choose Hell. Who knows! It is supposed to be the part of a wise man to always choose the good or the lesser of two evils. You don't like pain and suffering? Then choose good over evil. Otherwise, the laws of karma dictate that you will have consequences for the choices you make. Sounds a bit simplistic, but why not? There is an equal reaction for every action. It is more complicated than that I suppose, but that is basically it. I have read that satanists want to have Heaven for themselves right now and not wait. Yea, well it's pay as you go! You be naughty now and you may eventually get to the proper Heaven anyways, but why bring more suffering upon yourself and others in the meantime? In the end we all end up going back to the source, but why put blessedness off in the meantime? Hell is just a word for being apart from God.

Thomas said...

We, have along our life not lived with what we have done.We have
constantly questioned God about our burdens.So we all will go to a
damed place.

Keith said...

No reason to think that you and me are not God. Literally, we are both (and everyone else is) eternal, infinite, and destined for godhood. Evil is illusion (I say possibly) because everything that happens happens to God.

Keith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pat said...

Truer words are rarely spoken. There is only one actor in the universe, God. And we are vectors of and for that. Good, too, is as illusory as evil, as they are just perceptions. I believe that God is the set of all energy, of which I am a subset, that is, a 4- dimensional slice of the whole. We are God in that we are energy, and, through energy, we are linked to the entirety. The universe is the seething kettle of existence that is God.

Keith said...

Yes but I feel if anything can be judged to have more reality than something else, it is God whose existence is most real. God can be in many places at one time, since even science tells us space and time are "things," that were created at the big bang. God exists outside of time and space. He can be anywhere and everywhere at the same time.

Pat said...

The universe presents us with events. If we see them as obstacles, they will block our way. I remember walking through the woods not far from where I currently live and seeing a tree growing up right in the middle of what was an old Roman road. Was it an obstacle in the road? Yes and no. It was a tree, much more than just an obstacle in the old pathway but a living thing, probably with parents and children, of a sort, living around it with a multitude of other animals (birds, squirrels and insects) living in it.

Keith said...

One word in Chinese for crisis is the same word for opportunity.

Pat said...

God needn't be outside space-time to be omnipresent. That's where my take on string theory begins. If the energy that exists is joined in the Calabi-Yau space, which IS (according to string theory) a functional part of space, then all that is required for omnipresence is that junction. If the entire universe is a function of one entity of stringy energy, then God can be everywhere energy is throughout all space and time without having to be outside of it in any sense.

Keith said...

The complex too simple to understand
The simple too plain to comprehend

Pat said...

Reminds me of a couple of lines from a poem a friend of mine had written:

Simple in its complexity,
Complex in its simplicity.

Keith said...

We are all part of a single all-pervading consciousness. I think it is reasonable to think that if we are all immersed in the earth's magnetic field then our brains are all telepathically linked -- perhaps in a quantum physics sort of way. The title of my poem is Cosmic Dust in the Solar Wind.

Pat said...

Yes, I believe that our consciousness is a 2-d slice of what is God's 3-d consciousness. Due to the constraints placed upon our consciousness through its interface with the 4-d space-time (our brain/ nervous system), we have a 'flatland' kind of consciousness with respect to that which is God's. His consciousness IS all of that which we see as our varying individual awarenesses. And, of course, God's awareness/consciousness isn't bound to just human awareness but extends to any awareness that is.
Then, of course, there's the theory of quantum consciousness as propounded by Penrose and Hameroff: http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/penrose-hameroff/orchOR.html

Their work looks at microtubulin in nerve cells as forming a structure that allows a means of controlling local quantum flux and using that 'field' as a coherent mind. Thus, the brain is an interface to quantum flux. Of course, it says nothing of what's on the other side of the flux. In a string theory paradigm, the other side of quantum flux is in the Calabi-Yau space and, since we can't get there, it's hard to say anything about it for certain. But, we can speculate.
I'm a believer in that, when we think, we fetch into 'the mind of God' and retrieve our thoughts. In much the same way as the bus on a computer chip fetches into the dataspace and retrieves it back into memory, our consciousness fetches into the pool of abstracts that are 'the Mind of God' and retrieves it to our brain.

Vamadevananda said...

What you say is the common refrain, undeniable.

I'd rather see them, the differences among them, as a consequence of choices each one them made in their lives, when facing situations, as they grew up in time !

Whether those choices were free or not, look up the thread " Free Choice."

Thomas said...

Then is goodness not an illusion then if we can say evil is.

Molly Brogan said...

Evil is only an illusion as it is valued as "bad". Opposition, on many levels, is the force that evokes change. Neither good nor bad but a process that allows evolution. As humans, we are taught early in our lives to see things as good and bad by our parents who want to provide us with guardrails so that we don't wander off the road too far. As adulthood blossoms, we learn the everything in life has value, and that opposites can be reconciled to the greater good - meaning God. All of life is god and from god and with god. Very good.

Keith said...

I think you have to ask if there is ultimate truth and how would that apply. As humans we must proceed with concepts of good and evil or we become muddled, deranged, and dysfunctional. But God experiences (IMO) as the Bible puts it, "Peace that surpasses understanding." God is not moved by good or evil, because only good exists at the highest perspective that is God's. God does not experience hate or anger. And indeed, as Benedict Spinoza wrote, and I quote: "God neither loves nor hates anyone."

Keith said...

Okay I'll bite. It is hard to deny that free will is an illusion. Ast the big bang it began -- the chaotic banging and bouncing against each other of trillions upon trillions of "billiard balls." And that is all that's been going on since then, with pockets of space in which, by random chance, a degree of organization just came about by pure blind luck and happenstance. But even in our brains the molecules, atoms and electrons are just like billiard balls banging around and bouncing against each other, and that is what produces consciousness. For every action is an equal and opposite reaction. We do not choose anything. It just appears that way.

Pat said...

That, together with the fact that our 4-d space-time is a continuum, that is, an object that IS all space and time and everything in it. The future is as much already a part of it as is the past from the perspective of the whole, but, from inside it, we, as humans, see our relative part. We're like actors in the film of the universe. The whole story is on the reel, but we only appear 'on screen' for our timeframe. Although we are, will always be, and have always been, on the reel.

Keith said...

I knew it, reality is like Tivo. God can fast-forward, rewind, pause, or slow down and freeze frame us.

Pat said...

He doesn't have to. He IS all of it. But I think it's fair to say He has pretty good recall. A bit of a Universal Tivo that constantly records everything throughout the universe from every angle of awareness throughout all of time all at once.

Molly Brogan said...

I think it is pretty simple. God is the realm of infinite possibility. We choose possibility (free will) to create our individual experience. At some point in the journey, the two are integrated - the one and the many.

Bainjot said...

I agree, yes we are destined for heaven in this human form but it's up to us to decide which path we take. Heaven and Hell are both in our minds and we associate good with Heaven and bad with Hell. Our mind is a key instrument of our five senses including our eyes and our speech. Our senses can lead us into false perception and take us to Hell or guide us and appreciate our true nature(our Soul), where we are never apart from God............

Keith said...

Yea. Well, some things may call for just a small helping of faith in something greater than ourselves, and unless we can take that leap of faith we can't get out of a rut of logic bound reasoning and denial.

Bainjot said...

As previously stated by various members already, our thoughts seem to control our mind and thus creates the illusion, but this is because of our 'karma', we reap what we sow, and pay for it. However, God is so gracious he allows us to break from this cycle of birth and death if we so wish to do so.

Therefore, we should not allow our thoughts to control our mind which creates this mist of illusion and concentrate on the truth (our own true being). Ultimately we are all part and parcel of God and yes, everything that happens through him and by him.

Keith said...

And if anyone should say "why?" just respond "why not?". As it is written in Tao tradition, this universe will end and then a new one will sprout. At the end every tear shall be wiped away, we will all be joined with the source, and we will be the source. Maybe we'll say, "Let's go on the roller coaster ride again!" But I would never want to discount the suffering of innocents, or things like the horror of the Holocaust. I just think there are explanations for such things that we as mere humans can not adequately appreciate, and/or fathom from our wee perspectives. But there are explanations. God is a good God, merciful, and there is Divine Justice.

Pat said...

Surely, you would agree that it is better to give charity out of a fear of God, than not to give it at all? There are levels of charity. Although this form of charity isn't high on the list of good reasons for giving charity, it definitely deserves a place on the list.

Lee said...

Heh free will huh.

That all depends on how you want to define what 'free will' is. we do indeed have the freedom of choice, and the freedom to act or not act a certain way. Yes it is true that we are limited in our choices by genetics, and up bringing, and 'mindset'.

Rather like an elephant cannot choose to grow wings and fly, this does not negate the elephant's freedom to protect it's young or let it die.

Keith said...

You had no choice but to write that. A former associate of mine said he
ought to punch me in the nose and then say, "Well there is no free will so I
couldn't help it." I replied, "Correct, and that is my excuse for punching
you in the nose and giving you a black eye in return."

Lee said...

I strongly disagree. I could of course have choosen to 'put it another way', the words I choose to use, I did so, out of free choice. Can you really show how I didn't?

Keith said...

We really do not know if there is free will or not. We proceed as though there is in order to keep functioning and not get convoluted in our intent and motivation. If free will does not exist then it is an illusion that it does.

Pat said...

Maya, my friend. Our free will is a gift of Maya and long may she grant it us. ;-)

Pat said...

As I've said, if Einstein is right about space-time being a continuum, then that is conclusive evidence that the future is as much a set part of the whole as is the past. One appears to have a choice because we can't remember or otherwise access the future. And it is that lack of knowledge that casts the illusion of freedom in front of our will. It is this illusion that 'allows' you to acknowledge the implications of a continuum or not. The fact that your words are, now, a part of our past, we can see how they are a unchangable part of the whole. Just prior to writing them, though, your only access to them was through a conscious creative process. But this process is God's creative process, not ours and it is His will that forces our hands. We are vectors for the will of God and any seeming discrepancies that we see in varying wills amongst us s because we don't get the full picture.

It is an illusion. And it's a perfect one. By that, I mean that as long as we have no access to the future, like we do with the past, me will always see the future as mutable, simply because we can't see it. The illusion is inescapable, so, for practical purposes, we still have the responsibility to do the best we can, that is, make the best choices possible. But know that, ultimately, the future is already there and we're just walking our way there.

Keith said...

It is disturbing, disquieting and downright distasteful to suppose that there is no free will. I do not really mean it when I say there is no free will. I'm just toying with the concept. But I can see how and why someone might argue that there is no free will. Do we choose to be born?

Molly Brogan said...

I think that all possibility is the realm of God, and we choose possibility, according to our viewpoint and in the moment. Yet if we are coexisting in an infinite number of possible realms, we are, in the same moment, living all different possibilities, each from a different viewpoint. As space time opens and all possibility is reached, each one limited viewpoint is simultaneously one in the all possibility. Everything you can imagine, you are. As you are experiencing yourself in separation from others, you are choosing with your free will, which possibility to include in your viewpoint to shape your experience. You can change by choosing again. As long as you are separate and limited, the choice remains. There is a level of being where all possibility and all viewpoints are realized. Here, the choice is all of everything. This is the God within us.

Keith said...

Benedict Spinoza wrote that God created everything that could be conceived of by his infinite intellect. I'd just like to add that Spinoza also said matter was not lacking to accomplish this. I think it makes sense that the universe is made of positive and negative energy and if they canceled each other out (like matter and anti-matter coming together) it would add up to zero. So God could make as much as he wanted from nothing with absolutely no limitations. God could have made an infinite number of universes just as easily as he made one.

Pat said...

Whilst I agree that 'The Many Worlds Theory' is a valid possibility, but I don't think it's necessary if one has a relatively infinite amount of time. I say 'relatively' because all you require is enough time to explore every possibility; now that may be a very long time indeed, but it is not technically infinite. Anyway, all that is required is a geometrical approach to space-time. We know that space-time is expanding but we don't know all the specifics of the mechanism involved.
It would seem to me that the easiest solution is an M-Theory solution involving a 5-dimensional membrane. From our 4-d view of it, we see it like the membrane of a balloon expanding and forcing the galaxies ON and IN that membrane to be farther apart. If, though, that fifth spatial dimension folded the balloon in such a way that, at the farthest extremity of its expansion, it 'opened up' into the area at the centre of the balloon that is, in the centre of the vacant space surrounded by the membrane), the result would be a sequence of Big Bangs that would allow for nature (God) to explore, in successive universes, all possibilities. One simple fold of space is all it would take to let the geometry take it from there.
In my opinion, God's elegant like that. Besides, as God, 'what time there is' is all yours. Is it just because I'm male, but I see God as not multiprocessing when He doesn't have to. Why not sit back and take it all in...focus. {God thinking...The laws of physics were created for multitasking, let them do it, create a 3-d consciousness and sublet it to 'living things' on a 2-d basis. That way, they're OK and you're OK.} ;-)

Keith said...

Well, like something somebody once said, "I don't think God plays dice with the universe."

Vamadevananda said...

Keith, you almost sound as if you come face to face with the truth : oftentimes that is what is " disturbing, disquieting and downright distasteful !"

Keith said...

I agree, but as a theologian I heard said to the effect, "Why should we believe that?" It doesn't benefit us to think that there is no free will. He said, (paraphrased) "It is like saying we are all brains sitting in vats and just being electrically stimulated by a mad scientist." "Why should we believe that?" It suits us to live out our lives as though we have free will. To be moral and ethical in our choices, and indeed, to pursue a faith. As moral and ethical beings we have a pretty good idea of what is right and what is wrong. The reason we have this sense -- makes sense -- particularly if there is a God who has given us a foundation for morality and ethics.

Vamadevananda said...

You're welcome to your view and belief, Keith !

Indeed, you are free to fashion your life, your choices in life, your belief and value system, and the resulting world view, just as what you reckon is true and good for you.

So are others, everyone included ! That's when the conflicts, overlaps and encroachments surface.

I too believe that God has left us free, to make our choices !

Pat said...

How do we know right from wrong? An event can be seen by some to be right and by others to be wrong. The Twin Towers is a classic example. It is seen by various people as both good and bad, right and wrong. Personally, I believe that good and evil are perceptions that arise from our understanding of events rather than events actually BEING good or evil.

Vamadevananda said...

Pat, since you've waxed eloquently about awareness, is our " understanding of events " of any value ? If yes, then our good and evil categories are also valuable !

BEING a peodophile is BEING evil ; BEING a racist is BEING evil ; BEING a habitual bully, who violates the weak, is also BEING evil ... and so on.

Chazwin said...

Most people would agree with your judgment that the above things are bad, but calling them "evil" assumes an absolute truth that may not apply in all circumstances. Providing extra help to black children in the inner cities of the USA might be considered to be a good thing, but it is BY DEFINITION racist: the same policy discriminates against poor white and Asian children in the same schools. Many would consider that the American attack of Iraq which saw the death of over 300 children in the first 2 weeks as "child abuse", others would say that Bush was on a mission from god to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein. Is killing wrong? I have killed chickens to eat them, and many buy dead animals every day for food - is that evil? Is there a difference between killing a dear for fun and killing for food. surely the crime is against the animal and death affects each animal the same way by depriving of life. Is killing a flea of a different level of evil from killing a fluffy bunny, or a 28 week old fetus?

Vamadevananda said...

Chaz, my post was not to raise a debate, of the debating society kind !

You know evil when you see one, assuming you yourself are of a good heart. That's what you want to oppose with all your might and being.

Molly Brogan said...

Good and evil exist as a way of describing opposing events, acts, properties, characteristics. There is a level of being where opposition is reconciled and no longer required for change.

"I say 'relatively' because all you require is enough time to explore every possibility; now that may be a very long time indeed, but it is not technically infinite."

Pat, I am not sure about this. It would apply to linear time, yes. There is a state of consciousness referred to as "no time" where we are not, in the moment, experiencing any viewpoint. This, by the way, can be a shared experience. And here I speak from experience. There is also a state of being referred to as "all time" or cosmic consciousness, where all viewpoints are known and experienced simultaneously. This happens in the instant, time to hop from one to the next is not necessary. Although this is what folks often call past life regression. Here, the question is, are we indeed experiencing a past life of our own, or have we actually lived every life - and are living every life - there is to live in all time. How close to BEING God the witness, can we get?

"Why not sit back and take it all in...focus. {God thinking...The laws of physics were created for multitasking, let them do it, create a 3-d consciousness and sublet it to 'living things' on a 2-d basis. That way, they're OK and you're OK.} ;-)"

Very nice. And yet, the experience on the unity AND the separation is still expressed. The witness requires an experience. At some levels, time as we know it, is not required.

Keith said...

Thanks. I reject the naysayers words that Einstein was an atheist. There's a big difference between no God and not a personal God!

Chazwin said...

"Chaz, my post was not to raise a debate, of the debating society kind !"

"You know evil when you see one, assuming you yourself are of a good heart. That's what you want to oppose with all your might and being."

But if it were that easy then there would be no wars and other types of conflict in the world. The only path to peace is to realise that there are no moral absolutes and that this fact is the only means by which we can hope to understand other cultures.
Goodness for a Nazi is to exterminate all Jews. If you can't figure that out then there is only one course open - demand that your personal moral distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil are the only ones, then all you have to do is extirpate all that are non- believers in your moral code. I'll bet if I dug deep enough I would find some aspect of your personal belief that you consider to be universal that was repugnant to me, and the same goes for you looking at me.

"Thanks. I reject the naysayers words that Einstein was an atheist. There's a big difference between no God and not a personal God!"

Not really. Nearly all theists that I know consider god to 1) created the universe, 2) has a personality, 3) is conscious, 4) intervenes in people's lives, 5) is knowing. Einstein believed none of this. He is most accurately described as a monist, agnostic, some say deist but this is going to far. Theist is not a fair description. Einstein's god was little different from Spinoza's god, and he was roundly condemned and persecuted as an atheist all his life.

Molly Brogan said...

"From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.... I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our being." - Albert Einstein

Keith said...

I do not claim to be a prophet, but somehow I know intuitively that the Koran is much like the Bible and it is not meant for us to take every single word literally. The words you refer to were sort of like sermon words and -- like a sermon that was spoken to a specific people at a specific time. Hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. We should think of the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran as tools, but tools can be misused. These writings contain a lot of history. They are living documents, and they require interpretation according to changing times and conditions. All these books are college-level reading. All of them require commentaries, and most have various translations. All of them require us to use our brains to glean the proper meaning as it applies to us. The Jews have used the words, "right action," to mean that re-interpretation of the sacred writings into concepts of right action are appropriate for modern day peoples. One example is the fact that it is just not practical for no one whatsoever within a town's borders to not do any work on the Sabbath. Nor is it appropriate to sacrifice lambs and goats, and offer burnt offerings the same way they thousands of years when they did.

Pat said...

Yes, and Spinoza was no atheist; he was condemned and persecuted in what were, essentially witch hunts. You might as well say all atheists who are intelligent are agnostic because we all know they don't know for sure. To be fair, though, Einstein did accept Spinoza's God because it made sense. The same as I do.

Pat said...

"Pat, since you've waxed eloquently about awareness, is our " understanding of events " of any value ? If yes, then our good and evil categories are also valuable!"

Oh I don't doubt their value at all. Our perceptions are a huge amount of the processing we do and are one of our most treasured tools; but there are many forms of perception. Our physical senses are highly susceptible to being fooled. There are countless optical illusions and radio thrived for years on audio illusions like crumpling paper for sounding like fire. Our perception of good and evil, though, is in a different category or sense. It's more like a logic gate where we test an event against certain rules and the event falls out as either good or evil, but, as it depends on the observers particular set of tests, it's completely subjective. To me, this weighs heavily as it is evidence that we don't have an 'objective' set of rules for the logic of testing good and evil.

"BEING a peodophile is BEING evil ; BEING a racist is BEING evil ; BEING a habitual bully, who violates the weak, is also BEING evil ...and so on."

All these are examples of a person acting in a way that calls for others to make a subjective judgment on those actions. Each could have mitigating circumstances which would make them less abhorrent. Many people would succumb to acting in a way perceived to be evil, if a gun was held to their head compelling them to 'do or die'. And, if some chose to die, some would view that as senseless whilst others would view it as noble.
If the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, had revealed one and only one set of guidelines for human behaviour, then the possibility of an objective human moral and ethic becomes more plausible; but that isn't the case. Instead, we have a number of proposed guidebooks and each differ in some way. While they share many aspects, there are still enough differences in them as to call all of them into question. Surely, if there was a personal God that took great care in tending to humanity, there would only have been one guide sent, and, thoughtfully, sent at a time when it would be demonstrably verifiable. Of course, this time hasn't come yet but the fact that we already have guides that came at less careful timings, it seems that God is not a personal God.
I'm afraid that God sees evil as necessary, as evidenced by our ability to perceive it so readily in our world. It serves a very useful purpose, which is why our perception of it needs to be honed. We can learn from evil. It's the scientific method for the soul. We can view evil as a failing--a failure to act in a way that is completely in tune with our highest ideals. Of course, those ideals are also likely to be subjective, but this only raises the importance of the relationship one has with oneself. Thus Polonius' advice: "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

Keith said...

Seems to me chaz just wrote that Einstein's concept of God is debatable. I happen to call myself a liberal theist, but I am open to God being more unfathomable than the typical Christian concept of unfathomable. Benedict Spinoza is a hero of mine.

Pat said...

Everybody wants Einstein to think like them. Truth is, Einstein was intellectually honest enough to know that he didn't know what the truth about God was. In my opinion, Spinoza was about as right as one could have gotten in his day.

ornamentalmind said...

While perhaps a misuse of language, I find myself more in the line of identifying with being a gnostic/atheist.

Keith said...

The definition of gnostic is rather startling in case you haven't delved into it. Some "Gnostics," to be sure, believed that there is a God, alright. And get this, that the God of the Old Testament is the Devil!

Pat said...

I like it! So, you had a momentary lapse of insanity and realised there was no God and you know it to be so true you'd bet your soul on it. Given the paradigm, it's not so risky. ;-)

Vamadevananda said...

Pat, I am not inclined to logic of things nor shall be drawn into a courtroom debate !

Evil has a meaning only in the context of man, where there is intent and the capacity to critically review the intent. A rock, an animal, or a child cannot be termed as evil.

With the above context, evil is what it does, as a matter one's nature, repeatedly : the harm, the pain, the misery, the unhappiness, the causing and spreading of ignorance in Vedantic terms, among one and many.

And, the only purpose why evil exists is so that the good can summon the clarity and strength to either cure it or oppose it to finish !

Pat said...

Well THAT'S learning from it, isn't it? One wouldn't know one without the other. But, on a deeper level, evil is The Many to The One. There is one path of Dharma, though it has multiple qualities, IT is 'The Property' (worth having), as it were. All other paths are 'Not Dharma'.

ornamentalmind said...

Pat, this "...But, on a deeper level, evil is The Many to The One...." troubles me greatly. In no way do I see the eternal cyclical process of the one to the many to the one to the many...as having anything to do with evil. Do I misunderstand your post???

Pat said...

It was an oblique reference to being true to oneself. For every endeavour we take up, there is one 'best solution' that will move us towards our goals with the least amount of residual flak for our fellow humans (and other lifeforms). All the 'other' solutions are less desirable.

Keith said...

Irony, paradox. The spice of life, eh? Well, I seek truth and I will entertain wild notions if by any chance I arrive at a concept of reality that more closely approximates reality. In my current worldview and of the cosmos I do think (cough) there may be aspects of reality that does merit closer examination.

Chris said...

I couldn't agree more with you here, Keith.

Do you believe, as literal history, the miracles of the new testament?

Keith said...

I believe it is possible. I suppose this may sound funny, but I believe if I was asked that question under a lie detector and said "Probably yes," that the machine would register it as a truthful response.

Chris said...

It takes no faith at all to be an atheist. In fact, it's what's left when you take faith away. Nor does it take faith to use personal best judgement over the course of a lifetime, to educate yourself on physics and the physical world, and giving each idea a rigorous academic shake before allowing it to join your world view, or to replace a previously existing idea. Brilliantly, I don't even have to worry about ever being "wrong", because science is ever evolving, and accepting that, I accept that my understanding of the physical world will also shift and change and evolve over time, as more finite knowledge becomes available. I feel no loss whatsoever in living in a world founded in empiricism, and decorated in speculation.

Pat said...

Good thing too. As that's what we should have until a real proof of God comes along, if it does. But I wonder, if a proof of the existence of God were to present itself somehow, how let down would atheists feel? I reckon some might take it on the chin but I imagine a few would suffer as strong a mental collapse as might a firm believer if presented with conclusive proof there was no God.
Scientific paradigm shifts are expected but a conclusive proof in this regard would present more than a paradigm shift, as it would effect change in thinking across more than just science, as its implications, one way or another, affect religion, philosophy, morality and ethics. It would have a far greater social impact than any scientific paradigm shift could imagine. Thinking about the implications of how such a proof might effect society, it might be better for society if there IS a God. If it were discovered, for certain, that there was not, I reckon a fair percentage of the population would risk criminal behaviour knowing there was no eternal recompense. And fanatics, who would never accept the 'fact', could become more vicious than ever.

Hanblechia said...

Wacantognaka, the Lakota word for generosity, means to contribute to the well-being of one's people and all life by sharing and giving freely. This sharing is not just of objects and possessions, but of emotions like sympathy, compassion, kindness.

It also means to be generous with one's personal time. The act of giving and not looking for anything in return can make you a better person and make you happy.

Giveaways have always been part of Lakota society. At important events, the family gathers their many gifts and belongings and sets them out to give away to people in the community. An old Lakota saying translates as "What you give away, you keep. What you keep you lose".

No matter what race or nationality or tribe, people have found when you reach out to help others in your community, you become less focused on yourself and more in harmony with the world. This helps us to walk in balance.