Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-15

Continuing with the topic illusion of control…

The dangers of a single story!!

This is a fantastic talk about the dangers of a single story. Time and again we see how dangerous it is to have mono-cultures. We need multiple stories about everything including the many theories of the world that can show different perspectives of the world.

Santushti and Thanksgiving

Snippet from my upcoming book -

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Santushti (sanskrit: संतुष्टि) or contentment is one of the five Yamas, key personal habits, that is said to be one of the foundational habits of good personal character. But is contentment always desirable? Should one really be contented with their circumstances in life whatever they may be? Shouldn’t one desire to grow? Should poor be contented with their poverty? Should people who have failed be contented with their failures?

The Santushti that Hindu traditions talk about is much more than a simple feeling of satisfaction with our current circumstances. It is more about developing a sense of gratitude through conscious awareness of what one already possesses. It is a human tendency to be excited only until something is gained. Once gained, one gets used to it and slowly turns blind to its presence. A new home, car, TV or a relationship excites for an initial couple of days or a few weeks but one quickly adapts to it and the charm slowly wears off.  Of course this tendency to normalize experiences is a boon when it happens to the pains and difficulties of life. Things and circumstances that feel difficult soon turn into routines and we are desensitized to them. But having this happen to pleasant experiences is the problem. When what is currently exciting wears off, one starts searching for other novel experiences and it becomes our primary fuel to reach higher goals. It is an endless endeavor for at each stage, one adapts to the new novelty and the charm continues to be lost. Life remains an endless sense of lacking that is never remedied.

The habit of Santushti works as in the analogy of a glass half-empty and half-full. It is a simple switch in one’s perspective without altering anything externally. Instead of viewing circumstances as something lacking, one switches to being more aware of what one possesses already. In life, we are lucky in many things and are always lacking in many others. There is a choice to focus either on the possessions and feel a sense of fullness through gratitude, or focus on the many shortcomings and be frustrated. We mainly tend to believe focusing on the lack gives us the drive to achieve more.

Santushti does not mean one does not desire to achieve, it just means one desires to achieve not from a place of emptiness but from a place of fullness. There is a misunderstanding that when we are happy we don’t desire more. We associate contentment and satisfaction with inaction but not with creative force. Through the habit of Santushti, we can understand the unexplored possibilities in what we already are, what we have achieved and possess, all waiting to be discovered. A simple act of conscious awareness of our possessions unleashes creative possibilities that were unnoticed. It is about thinking what more one can improve without any additions.

As the Ishavasya Upanishad says -

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत|

तेन त्यक्तेन भुन्जीताः मा गृधः कस्यस्विध्धानं||

“Everything within Nature’s creations is pervaded by the Master. Therefore enjoy it by making the most of what he has already endowed you. Do not greed for other’s possessions”

The most creative people are the ones who make the most of what they have by surprisingly transforming what others were blind to.  Santushti is that satisfaction which comes from making the most of what one already has and opening up to further improvements from a place of fullness.

Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-14

In this class we discuss the concept of illusion of control. This is one of the most fundamental ideas of Vedanta. We do not ever control the outcomes so better to focus on process which is in our hands.

India’s Strategic Response – Ajit Doval

I am amazed at the clarity of Ajit Doval. He says Islamic fndamentalism is not a threat but anti-nationalism is. Listen to the talk to understand the history of both. This is a must watch. Ajit Doval is National Security Advisor to the current Modi Government. He is considered a super-cop, almost an Indian James Bond -

Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-13

In this class lecture, we discuss Krishna’s ideas about Change management. Two important aspects of Change are – 1. It is caused by something that is relate-able and 2. It should be from within and not forced,

Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-12

In this class lecture, we discuss the concept of Role-Models and how they are important to society. We also look at how the concept of Role-Models was in-built into the tradition by studying world’s oldest Convocation speech from the Taittariya Upanishad -

Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-11

In this class we discuss how the concept of Yajna transforms any activity into a meaningful activity by connecting it to Nature and Society we live in -

Did Jesus really exist? Interesting look into current facts!

An excellent article analyzing the evidence for a historical Jesus. There is absolutely no evidence there ever was a man like it is made out to be -

http://www.alternet.org/belief/5-reasons-suspect-jesus-never-existed


 

5 Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed

A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against whether Jesus lived.

 Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians—most of them Christian—analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth.  Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealot by Reza Aslan and  How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman

But other scholars believe that the gospel stories are actually “historicized mythology.”  In this view, those ancient mythic templates are themselves the kernel. They got filled in with names, places and other real world details as early sects of Jesus worship attempted to understand and defend the devotional traditions they had received.

The notion that Jesus never existed is a minority position.  Of course it is! says David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All . For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving, and analyzing ancient texts. Even today most secular scholars come out of a religious background, and many operate by default under historical presumptions of their former faith.

Fitzgerald is an atheist speaker and writer, popular with secular students and community groups. The internet phenom, Zeitgeist the Movie introduced millions to some of the mythic roots of Christianity. But Zeitgeist and similar works contain known errors and oversimplifications that undermine their credibility. Fitzgerald seeks to correct that by giving young people interesting, accessible information that is grounded in accountable scholarship.

More academic arguments in support of the Jesus Myth theory can be found in the writings of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Carrier, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history uses the tools of his trade to show, among other things, how Christianity might have gotten off the ground without a miracle. Price, by contrast, writes from the perspective of a theologian whose biblical scholarship ultimately formed the basis for his skepticism. It is interesting to note that some of the harshest debunkers of fringe Jesus myth theories like those from Zeitgeist or Joseph Atwill (who tries to argue that the Romans invented Jesus) are from serious Mythicists like Fitzgerald, Carrier and Price.

The arguments on both sides of this question—mythologized history or historicized mythology—fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists—that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed—here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive:

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.  In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.” (pp. 56-57)

2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts. Paul seems unaware of any virgin birth, for example. No wise men, no star in the east, no miracles. Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus. Paul fails to cite Jesus’ authority precisely when it would make his case. What’s more, he never calls the twelve apostles Jesus’ disciples; in fact, he never says Jesus HAD disciples –or a ministry, or did miracles, or gave teachings. He virtually refuses to disclose any other biographical detail, and the few cryptic hints he offers aren’t just vague, but contradict the gospels. The leaders of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem like Peter and James are supposedly Jesus’ own followers and family; but Paul dismisses them as nobodies and repeatedly opposes them for not being true Christians!

Liberal theologian Marcus Borg suggests that people read the books of the New Testament in chronological order to see how early Christianity unfolded.  “Placing the Gospels after Paul makes it clear that as written documents they are not the source of early Christianity but its product. The Gospel — the good news — of and about Jesus existed before the Gospels. They are the products of early Christian communities several decades after Jesus’ historical life and tell us how those communities saw his significance in their historical context.”

3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts. We now know that the four gospels were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not written by them. To make matter sketchier, the name designations happened sometime in second century, around 100 years or more after Christianity supposedly began. For a variety of reasons , the practice of pseudonymous writing was common at the time and many contemporary documents are “signed” by famous figures.  The same is true of the New Testament epistles except for a handful of letters from Paul (6 out of 13) which are broadly thought to be genuine.  But even the gospel stories don’t actually say , “I was there.” Rather, they claim the existence of other witnesses, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has heard the phrase, my aunt knew someone who . . . .

4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other. If you think you know the Jesus story pretty well, I suggest that you pause at this point to test yourself with the 20 question quiz at ExChristian.net.

The gospel of Mark is thought to be the earliest existing “life of Jesus,” and linguistic analysis suggests that Luke and Matthew both simply reworked Mark and added their own corrections and new material. But they contradict each other and, to an even greater degree contradict the much later gospel of John, because they were written with different objectives for different audiences. The incompatible Easter stories offer one example of how much the stories disagree.

5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons.  They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, nonviolent pacifist to borrow from a much longer listassembled by Price . In his words (pp. 15-16), “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage.  But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.”  John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”

For David Fitzgerald, these issues and more lead to a conclusion that he finds inescapable :

Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a Mystery Faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.

In a soon-to-be-released follow up to Nailed, entitled Jesus: Mything in Action, Fitzgeraldargues that the many competing versions proposed by secular scholars are just as problematic as any “Jesus of Faith:” Even if one accepts that there was a real Jesus of Nazareth, the question has little practical meaning: Regardless of whether or not a first century rabbi called Yeshua ben Yosef lived, the “historical Jesus” figures so patiently excavated and re-assembled by secular scholars are themselves fictions.

We may never know for certain what put Christian history in motion. Only time (or perhaps time travel) will tell.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Season-8 – Bhagavad Gita Ch3 Part-10

Season8 starts with this lecture. Summary of chapter3 karma yoga discussed so far.

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