Following the thesis of Weisman’s article for the Seed Magazine, this essay will further furnish evidence in support of its claims. This essay will argue that much of the distilled wisdom of Buddhist thought is congruent with modern findings in neuroscience.
Of late Buddhism has found a following in the West. The major reason is that it is seen as a practical and philosophical system than a dogmatic religion. For example, the practice of meditation is far from being an esoteric mystical aspiration. There are palpable everyday benefits arising from regular meditation practice. Just as working out in the gym is good for the body, the daily practice of meditation is seen as a mind-exercise. To the extent that the mind is a manifestation of the physiology of the brain, meditation can also be seen as a brain exercise. Neuroplasticity is the term used by neurologists for describing the mutability of brain structures. Just as a body builder can shape and grow his muscles . . . Read More
Consciously or not, Stalin conjoins religion and politics. Why?
Religion, especially the monotheistic religions profess the idea of damnation and divine retribution for sinners. Stalin must have thought that where bullets and the baton are inadequate in suppressing dissent, the fear of God would serve as a complete deterrent. Another explanation for Stalin’s mixing of politics and religion is to develop cult followership. In religion, we find how the revealed word of God is never contested. It would suit Stalin’s totalitarian agenda quite well to have the citizens worship him as a cult figure. By encouraging religion, Stalin is promoting certain personality traits that are complementary to running a totalitarian regime.
What is the point of having numerous Stalins? (the plaster of Paris busts in the basement)
Although Stalin was a man in possession of enormous political power, deep inside he was very insecure. Some consider . . . Read More
Both the chosen texts talk about the importance of faith in our social lives. The two authors, Jim Wallis and Sharon Salzberg, do not strictly equate faith with religion. While basing their arguments on Christian and Buddhist doctrines respectively, they attempt to portray faith as a communal activity. Moreover, they both suggest that, though religious faith is a subjective experience and springs from one’s heart, it is crucial to shaping politics and culture of a society.
Jim Wallis’ Get out of the House More Often is an invocation to be a social being. Too often, too many of us are so accustomed to living in our comfort zones, that we lose out on growing our spiritual selves. Based on his first-hand observations and experiences as a priest, as well as drawing from numerous anecdotes of his peers and friends, Wallis constructs a powerful essay on community service. But instead of serving our own interests and inclinations, he argues, it is only when we serve the . . . Read More
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world. It evolved in the Indian subcontinent over 5000 years ago and has a rich body of literature. Unlike monotheistic religions such as Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is polytheistic, with thousands of deities and gods being worshipped. Even in terms of ethnography and culture there is a rich diversity of Hindu expression. The sacred rituals and beliefs related to Hinduism vary across ethnic communities in India. The Hindu scriptures explain morality in the form of legends and myths. More than a religion per se, Hinduism can be looked at as a philosophical system. The key themes of this system are that of the interconnectedness of life, repercussions of good and bad deeds (karma), the temporariness of earthly existence and the aspiration toward liberation from it (moksha). Texts such as the Upanishads and epics such as Ramayana and Mahabaratha serve as mediums of this philosophic discourse.
In Geeta Kothari’s short story the . . . Read More
Desiderius Erasmus is one of the most influential Catholic theologians in the entire history of the faith. He is remembered not only as a prominent member of the Church but also as a great Humanist. He took a middle path approach to resolving conflicts between religion and rationalism. He was despised by both sides for his preference for compromise over conflict. But his positions and views were based on pragmatism and not cowardice. The proper way, for Erasmus, was to never resort to fanaticism even if one is right. He understood well the nature of evil and he too hoped to see truth replace error and right triumph over wrong. But
“he showed discretion in his choice of tactics. If you wish to bring about peacefully true and lasting reforms, you do not, like the fanatics, indiscriminately attack not only the ideas you oppose but also the honesty, integrity, and sincerity of those who hold them. If you wish to convince a person he should change his ways, . . . Read More
The Inferno (Hell) is the first part of The Divine Comedy, followed by the Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Heaven). It is a classic Christian theological text that uses strong poetic imagination and allegorical allusion. Though originally written in Italian between 1308 and 1321 AD, the work is widely translated and its themes are drawn upon by generations of writers since. Written in first person narrative, the comedy is about the imaginative events and experiences of Dante (and his companion poet Virgil) as he traverses through Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso in his afterlife. Dante meets both mythological and real people during his long voyage. He also comes across mythological creatures that pose moral dilemmas and questions to him. By successfully resolving such challenges, Dante (and by extension anyone with faith in Christ) steadily attains spiritual salvation. The rest of this essay will dwell on the monsters, . . . Read More
Although Augustine of Hippo’s early life was disordered and undisciplined, his adult life is marked by maturity and spiritual searching. His steadfast spiritual journey – one identified with penance and dedication – will lead him to a profound understanding of the message of Christ. He attains a refined reverence for the omnipotent will of God. Although St. Augustine lived at an age that was far removed from St. Francis Assisi’s, some of the values cherished and preached by the latter is easily applicable to the former’s life. Reverence is one such Franciscan value that is represented by Augustine’s lifelong spiritual journey. The rest of this essay will highlight this connection by citing relevant passages from the Confessions as well as scholarly commentary given upon it.
One of the early influences on St. Augustine was the Greek theologian Plotinus, whose famous words ‘alone with the Alone’ made an impact on the young aspirant. This peculiar theory . . . Read More
Charles Darwin’s publication of the theory of evolution through natural selection is one of the pivotal moments in the history of science. But the theory was unveiled only in the middle of 19th century, by when great strides have already been made in other fields of science. Yet, when compared to the complexity and cumbersomeness of theories in the fields of astronomy, quantum physics or discrete mathematics, Darwin’s theory is remarkable for its simplicity. Despite this fact the theory has generated a lot of controversy – both among the general public and among intellectuals. Leading the aggression are the religiously orthodox, who see a threat to the tenets of their faith. To overcome their insecurities they adopt one of two approaches. First, they try to reject evolution as valid scientific theory for want of adequate evidence supporting it. When this fails, they co-opt the theory into a religious understanding and project the process of evolution as God’s . . . Read More
Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination. The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology. Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past. In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity. There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998) This essay will elaborate how theological . . . Read More
Jorge Luis Borges is famous for his short stories. The Gospel According to Mark is an allegorical take on the time-worn story of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It excels in all the essential features of good short fiction. In particular, as this essay will argue, its theme, symbolisms, tone and style showcase the Borges’ mastery of the form. These elements unite and complement one another to produce a cohesive and powerful piece of fiction.
The most powerful element in The Gospel is its theme. The writer draws upon an ancient and codified biblical theme of sacrifice. Just as Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for the salvation of his fellow brethren so does Espinosa end up being crucified. But in Espinosa’s case it was involuntary and much to his shock. This deviation from the original story comes to define the short story, for by transposing an eternal religious myth upon a real-life situation it questions the significance and meaning of the original . . . Read More