All suffering is born of desire.
I would say this is one of the central tenets of Eastern thought. That 'desire' (or kaamam) is the fountainhead of all suffering. "Where there is no desire, all things are at peace."
For a long time, this was a puzzle for me. How can a man and mankind progress without wanting? Doesn't all action spring from desire? Isn't all effort a result of wanting? In practise, most effort is like that.
But that is precisely what Eastern schools militate against. True art is purposeless and aimless. True englightenment, it seems, comes when one learns to engage in everything one does completely, whole-heartedly without desire. Interestingly, we should also not want this habit of not wanting.
This is so simple to conceptualize but so difficult to actualize.
Hindu theology perceives heaven and hell to be as much a part of duality as truth/falsehood, good/evil, pleasure/pain, being/non-existence.
The pleasures and delights of heaven and the desire for them are considered to be as much BONDAGE and therefore a spiritual impediment as any number of other things which constitute spiritual impediments.
Even the desire for liberation/salvation is considered an impediment to that very liberation which is ardently sought.
It is the West's failure to understand duality, which leads to the folly of trying to eliminate evil, and have only good, eliminate poverty and have only wealth, or convert all people to ONE TRUE FAITH, in one lifetime.
It is a very evident historical fact that such unanimous agreement has never been reached in the past 2000 yrs, and will never be reached. This provides evidence for the necessity of rebirth, and gradual spiritual ripening of individual souls.
In the Gita 7:3, Lord Krsna says: "Of thousands of people, scarcely anyone strives for spiritual perfection; and even of the striving and perfected, scarcely anyone knows ME in truth."
This indicates that God does not expect all humanity to come to some unanimous one single true faith, within a single lifetime..but suggests a gradual process of ripening..over many lifetimes.. with only a small knowledgeable minority existing at any one time.
"God has put eternity in the heart of man, yet no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end". - Ecclesiastes 3:11
"And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith".-Ecclesiastes 1:13
Read Jesus parable of poor sick man Lazarus. It was the sickness and suffering that SAVED Lazarus, and the wealth and physical comfort that damned the rich man. Jesus and Moses BOTH SAY "The poor SHALL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU"; they never say, eliminate world poverty or eliminate all sickness and suffering.
The Beatitudes of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount say "Blessed are the peace makers..." but the Old and New Testaments both declare that wars and rumors of wars shall be with mankind until the end. So obviously Scriptures do not support the social activist do-gooders who equate religion with eliminating poverty, sickness and wars.
I do not believe that a merciful God creates satans or hells or tortures for all eternity with no hope of reform. RATHER, I believe that dualities like good/evil, truth/falsehood, wealth/poverty have a divine purpose. Therefore I DONT HAVE THE PROBLEM that Christians fretting do about ANTI-CHRIST and Armeggadon and the mark of the beast.
Why create a heaven and a hell when this world exists and a soul may be reborn as many times as necessary to be purified through suffering?
Is God is SO weak that He cannot speak to us directly in our hearts? Must God send an army of thousands upon thousands of blind, stumbling, pompous, self-righteous, deluded fools who cannot agree with one another to speak with us on God's behalf?
If there is a purpose to sickness and suffering, why do people constantly seek healing miracles?
But if there is NO PURPOSE to sickness and suffering, then WHY anticipate mercy and favors from the CREATOR of such a world?
If God is eternally perfect (complete) AND perfectly WISE, then here is a problem: Since God is COMPLETE, there was no need for creation. Therefore, God performed a meaningless, senseless act. Yet that contradicts gods WISDOM. But, if there WAS A PURPOSE for creation, then GOD lacked something PRIOR to creation, WHICH contradicts God's completeness
One would think that God must possess all virtues. If humility is a virtue, and God possesses humility, then why would God desire to glorify Himself?
The Unitarian Bishop Ullathorne, in the 1800's, wrote "Although God is everywhere present, God is not everywhere accessible, but only in the depths of the heart, the innermost recesses of the human spirit"
If logic is sufficient, why the need for gospels, incarnation, crucifixion, ressurection? Why could not the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle sufficed?
IF THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT WERE REALLY TRUE: "Merely asking the right questions will reveal the Truth to an honest and open-minded person - here are the right questions!", then WHY HAS NOT ALL OF HUMANITY REACHED UNILATERAL ACCORD AND AGREEMENT ON ANY PHILOSOPHICAL OR POLITICAL ISSUE in the past 4000 years?
Belief and Faith are a gift. They do not come through explanation or logical argument or Aristotelian syllogistic reasoning such as A implies B, B implies C, and C implies that God is such and such a nature and Religion XYZ is the "One True Faith"
A teaching or practice or belief is like a rowboat, to cross a river. But once you reach your destination of the other shore, your SPIRITUAL destination, you abandon the rowboat, you do not stagger about with it on your shoulder.
Is anyone really so naive as to believe that if everyone were one religion that they would suddenly be less selfish, less greedy, less lazy, less judgemental, less dishonest? Do you really believe that the fundamental aspects of flawed human nature would suddenly be transformed?
Think about the Tower of Babel and how God humbled mankind with a multiplicity of languages and the resulting confusion (by the way, here is an example of God creating confusion, which is a form of deception or illusion).
Is not the multiplicity of religions in the world today very humbling? Would we not be much more vain and proud if we really did have ONE TRUE FAITH?
There may be a divine purpose to the multiplicity of religions and the internal contradictions of sacred scripture, almost like a Divine Koan. Maybe God is really a transcendental Zen Master!
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones". - Isaiah 57:15
Isaiah 64:6: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
Jesus COMMANDED you to read the Old Testament "SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES, for therein will ye find eternal life" ... the first Epistle was not written until after 50 A.D, and the Gospels were not finished until 100 years later!!! Therefore, Jesus was telling you to read THE OLD TESTAMENT. And the "christian church" obviously existed without ANY NEW TESTAMENT for a number of years!
In the Bible it is written, "with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE", so how can it be impossible for God to lie?
The REAL miracle of God is the following Paradox: All religions believe that they are the most intimate servants,lovers and devotees of God and that what they have is the ONLY TRUTH. It PRECISELY this ILLUSION that allows us to practice our devotions.
Centuries before Christ, centuries before Moses, Zoroastrian religion lays a legitimate claim on being the first religion to preach a Messiah, (named Soshuant ... which sounds like Yeshua, Joshua), . born of a virgin.
Also first religion to have.... a satan figure... a struggle between good and evil... a judgement.... a "lake of fire" in which the righteous are nourished but the wicked burned.
It is interesting that in Zoroastrian theology, after the judgement, the wicked are properly punished for a period but ultimately, all souls are saved and dwell with God (a concept of PURGATORY).
Zoroastrians strictly forbid conversion to their religion. They believe that God created a different religion for each tribe (ethnicity)... and that there is an "angel" for each nation... composed of the "righteous" from that nation... standing before the Throne of God.. (Ecumenical Inter-Faith concept).
The earliest mention of Sheol (Hell) is Deuteronomy Chapter 32.... which also mentions the burning fire of God's anger... but there is no connection between "hell" and "fire".
It is also ch.32 of Deuteronomy where we find the first of the two occurrences in old testament of word FAITH (the second is in Habbakuk Ch 2:4)... but it means FAITH-fullness to Mitzvahs (commandments)... not Faith in St. Pauls sense of PISTIS.
HISTORICALLY the very FIRST book to be printed (with wood block techniques) was the Buddhist scriptures, THE DIAMOND SUTRA, in CHINA. It took many centuries for that technology to print the Judaeo-Christian Bible.
Now wouldn’t you think that God would arrange for some inspiration to mass produce the TRUE SCRIPTURES, as opposed to "Satan’s lies".
Here is an HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION, which I frequently pose in Yahoo Christian chat rooms:
Would you truly accept eternal torment from God, knowing it is Gods will for you, if you knew that bowing the knee ONCE to satan would GUARANTEE YOU a place in HEAVEN next to JESUS (and if God confirmed that you would), WOULD YOU PASS UP THE OPPORTUNITY to avoid Gods eternal righteous punishment, simply because you dont want to worship SATAN ONCE???
In otherwords, very simply put, would you be willing to suffer an ETERNITY OF TORMENT for the sake of RIGHTEOUSNESS or would you be willing to commit one act of UNRIGHTEOUSNESS if you were guaranteed eternal paradise and salvation as a result of that unrighteousness?
Well, if you say that you are unwilling to commit that one act of unrighteousness in exchange for salvation, and if you're sincere in your answer, then you have more character than I gave you credit for. But then you must realize, you and I have much in common, since my religion does not believe in hell or satan, and my religion believes that YOUR RELIGION INVENTED HELL AND SATAN and that your CONCEPT of god is the closest thing to satan. Therefore, surely you can understand why I would choose eternal torment over worshiping YOUR GOD.
Julian the Apostate: Jewish Law and Christian Truth (3rd Century, Pagan Emperor of Rome)
". . . the God of the Bible is jealous. The Scriptures explicitly record God as saying, "I am a jealous God." What kind of God can this be? "If a man is jealous and envious you think him blameworthy, whereas if God is called jealous do you think it a divine quality?"
"Take the story of the serpent in the garden of Eden. What kind of God is it, who would create men and women without the knowledge of good and evil? How can a good God create human beings without giving them wisdom, the capacity to be able to discriminate good and evil? If one takes the story at its face value, it is the serpent who should be praised, for it was the serpent who taught men and women moral responsibility."
Julian's philosophy: "The true God is a spiritual being who is Lord of all and is known by all. All humankind, without being taught, have come to believe in some sort of divinity. This God who is far superior to the national or sectional gods of the various nations does not reveal himself at particular times and places. He is known to all men and women of good will who have trained their minds and spirits to contemplate God, and it is insolent for Christians to think that they have received a special revelation unknown to others."
One frequently hears people say: "God bless you all". I often respond; "Why would not God bless all things, all creatures, at every instant, not by will or intention, but simply as the sunlight and rain bathes all,blessing by Being, as an essential attribute of God? And why would God need your invitation to bless? How presumptuous, and typically western!"
The day the astronauts walked on the moon, a very famous Greek Orthodox theologian, Constantine Kavarnos, laughed and commented "Man has succeeded in walking on the moon, but... he is still the same fallen nature as the folks in Homer's epics, man has conquered nature, but not the Self".
If Jesus is the SALVATION of the minority who accept Him, DOES IT NOT STAND TO REASON that Jesus MUST ALSO equally be the DAMNATION of the majority who reject Him, for WHY ELSE are they damned, other than the fact that they rejected Christ?
In The Gospel of Luke when asked "Shall many be saved?" Jesus answers: "The gate is narrow, the way difficult, and few are there that find it" Such is the world of dualities, Jesus is both SALVATION and DAMNATION.
I see a problem regarding those who believe in Scriptural Inerrancy, holding that divinely revealed scripture is perfect, and if there is any "seeming" contradiction or flaw in the scriptures, then there is also "hidden" within those same scriptures the "resolution" to the seeming contradiction.
Why would God create human beings as hopelessly flawed and fallen, with no "built in" remedy for self-perfection, as IMPERFECT BEINGS, and yet create or inspire "Inerrant Scriptural writings" which ARE PERFECT, and which furthermore contain within themselves the means to resolve or dispel any seeming imperfection?
Of course, if mankind HAD been created as perfect beings (or at least beings who could IMPROVE themselves through their own endeavors) they would not NEED a Divinely Revealed Perfect Scripture or a Saviour or Salvation through Grace.
Since Hinduism and Buddhism were ALREADY well established for centuries prior to the lifetime of Jesus, and since Jesus is believed to be God, and therefore, omniscient, knowing all future events, then why is there not one single mention of Buddhism or Hinduism?
Not one single mention of Buddhism or Hinduism, or their alleged falsehood, in any of the Gospels, AND YET there is much mention and warning of false teachers, and deception in the last times?
Since God has Omniscient foreknowledge of all future events, if TRUE DOCTRINE were so important, then surely God, foreknowing the various disputes regarding Trinity, or Christ's Divinity, or Purgatory, or Transubstantiation, would have inspired additional, more detailed scriptural verses, to eliminate doubts and disputes on key doctrines.