Monday, February 12, 2018

Temple Hinduism, Meditation And Karma

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By Promod Puri
“Temple-Hinduism” is an expression introduced by Vasudha Narayanan, Professor of Religion, University of Florida. The terminology is not an academic phrasing, nor does it reflect a new sect in Hinduism. It is an interpretation of Hinduism related to the devotional practices of rituals and prayers in temple’s iconological environment.

As we know Hinduism in its liberal and diverse traditions offers a range of options for worshipping and contemplation, temple-Hinduism is the dominant and popular choice of devout Hindus.

An accepted convention among Hindus is to have home shrines, but a temple aside from a place of worship offers visible embodiment of identity to the religion. The instinct vibe of the divine spirit in an idol itself is the prime invitation to the temple.

The overall mood in temple environs causes an ardent psychological conviction that this is the abode of God. It offers a dedicated and disciplined setting for ritual worship, prayers, and contemplation.
The tradition of humility and total submission by devotees further contribute to the consecration of temple environment. Taking off shoes before entering the sacred premises, bowing in front of sacred idols’ sanctum, sitting on the floor, observing silence, are some the very basic and observed customs of Hindu worship etiquettes.

In this spiritual abode the smell of incense, the sight of lighted Diya (clay oil lamp), the ring of the temple bell, the singing of prayers, the reciting and hum of mantras, all create an ambiance of divine feel and resonance to have moments with the divinity. The sanctity of the place is thus defined.

Temple-Hinduism involves routine visits to a temple for ritualistic, devotional, and contemplative purposes. But temple-Hinduism embodying these practices is not mandatory for a devout Hindu. Meditative Hinduism and spiritual yoga disciplines can also be the entitlements of the multi-disciplinary spiritual order of the religion.

In the diverse and secular fundamentals of Hinduism, meditation and yoga are the recognized and rife movements which appeal to both Hindus and non-Hindus.

Meditation in all its varied contemplations is a much-practiced Hindu tradition from ancient to the present times. Hindu meditation is both secular and spiritual in its nature and practice.

Seeking enlightenment is one reverent aspect of meditation which has its Vedic roots in Hindu spiritual traditions. However, the most favored and helpful feature of meditation in our day to day lives is to procreate a tranquil temperament amidst the ceaseless chaos of personal anxieties and worldly troubles.

Meditation basically is an exercise of steering the mind toward a focus during the entire meditative period. And the focus can be any chosen or guru-given mantra, a thought, some auditory sensation like breath, a sacred sound like Om, or even an object. Theoretically, it is a simple and focused discipline, and its practice leads to serenity.

A contemporary observation of Hinduism suggests meditation and yoga are on the same platform from the aspects of spirituality and praxis. The practicality of yoga in offering health benefits has achieved its own universal recognition and acceptance.

The word yoga is derived from its Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ which means to join. The sanctioned concept is that the practice of yoga leads toward the union of Jiva-Atma and Parm-Atma, in other words between the self and the Supreme.

However, the fusion can also be interrupted as between spirituality and physical wellness within the yoga discipline. As such the yoga school of Hinduism offers a unique feature emphasizing that healthy mind and healthy body are complimentary as well as linked to each other through the discipline of yoga.

Despite their bonded identity with Hinduism, the contemporary trends in meditation and yoga “underplay or distance their connections with the word ‘Hindu,’ and some use labels such ‘spiritual’ to emphasize their ‘universal’ content, according to Prof. Narayanan.

In this expanse, the spirituality and exercise of the Hindu faith go beyond temple-Hinduism or the institutions of meditation and yoga.

Hinduism also belongs to those who neither go to temple on regular and ritualistic basis nor do they involve themselves in either meditation or yoga tradition as part of their spiritual pursuits or devotional routines.

Their Hinduism lies in an order often referred as “a way of life.” Here the Hindu theology is induced with divinity in thoughts, words, and deeds based on knowledge and rationality.

In this regime, which I would call Karma Hinduism, ethical and righteous thoughts and karmas guide the management of the self and its divinity. Nonetheless, temple visits,  meditation, and yoga remain complimentary to Karma Hinduism.


(Promod Puri is the author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.” He is also a frequent writer on topics related to Hinduism, politics and human interest.)
Websites:
progressivehindudialogue.com
promodpuri.com
promodpuri.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Politics Of Silence Over Padmaavat Cripples Democracy

By Promod Puri

Silence is golden!

But in India of today, it is not. Rather it is a political, social, and even communal contamination which is almost annihilating the very roots of democracy in the country.

For leaders in power and those who are not, silence is a strategic political tool. In the recent maniacal violence over the film Padmaavat, both the ruling and opposition leaders have remained quite tight-lipped for reasons determined by politics.

Silence is a sinister whip of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which has silenced the top brass of the once mighty Congress. Sonia Gandhi is silenced, and so is her son, party president Rahul Gandhi. Veteran socialist Lalu Prasad Yadav is being silenced, but the Bihar “lion” is still roaring while in jail. Silence gizmo is also being tried against parties who are not members of the big family, aka “parivar,” of the BJP.

On the issue of Padmaavat, the entire Indian film fraternity is silence because that is the norm now. Towering personalities like Amitabh Bachchan must have by now seen the movie secretly but dare not express themselves as for why this hullabaloo.

In the enforced era of silence, known intellectuals and academicians are silent. The fear of reprisal has gripped the intellectual, academic and writer community. For Arundhati Rao, her “ministry” is perhaps advising her to remain silent or already being silenced thru the disturbing court experiences she had a few years ago. The voices of dissent are often blocked out by bridled media as well.

The Indian media, with some exception, is tactically silent as it wants to save some of its credibility as well as keeping a ‘good boy” behavior with the saffron raj.

The raj avails several practices and arrangements to steamroll its rule of silence. Judiciary, the Central Intelligence Bureau, the income tax department, the police forces, media, the vigilante, lynching and murderous goons, fanatics, and bigot ‘bhagats,’ the ignorant middle class, and the social media are the channels to run the Indian democracy toward fascism.

Silence is generating fear in all sections of the Indian society. And that is the social aspect of the rule of silence. Minorities, the lower class and caste, and poor people dare not express themselves in the communal atmosphere as silence is imposed on them.

Silence is breeding apathy. When the Padmaavat controversy started brewing a few months ago, apathy, especially in the middle class, could be sensed from the expression “it is all publicity stunt.”
The democratic traditions of India, which are still intact in its constitution, were established by its author, Dr. Bhumirao Ramji Ambedkar, who broke the century-old silence of the discriminatory social order promulgated in the Manusamriti.

Martin Luthor King condemned silence when he declared: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

But in India of today silence is the governing force which has almost silenced the political, secular, and intellectual sentiments and culture of the nation.

To silence the Silence is the challenge for India now.
promodpuri.com

Side Effects Of Democracy


Democratic freedoms breed authoritarianism. Consolidation of power, achieved through democratic means, is a tempting phenomenon when regimes are slowly being wrapped up in totalitarianism.

Nationalism is aroused, and the fear factor is introduced by scapegoating foreign enemies and targeting the minorities. To streamline the influence of fear several practices and arrangements are mobilized. Judiciary, the intelligence agencies, the income tax department, the police forces, state-sponsored ‘terrorism,’ and the disciplined media are the channels to move democracy toward fascism.

It is a camouflaged and uneven process which the majority and middle class naively get adapted to acceptable disturbance mainly for security reasons.

However, the fear factor permeates into the culture of silence and apathy. And this is where the authoritarianism survives till the next elections if these are not corrupted.

-By Promod Puri
promodpuri.com

Saturday, January 27, 2018

DEMOCRACY DAMAGED BY POLITICAL SILENCE OVER PADMAVAT


Silence is golden!
But in India of today, it is not. Rather it is an epidemic virus which is almost annihilating the very roots of its democracy.
For leaders in power and those who are not silence is a strategic political tool. Both the ruling and opposition leaders have remained quite tight-lipped in the recent maniacal violence over the film Padmavat.
Silence is a whip which has silenced the top brass of the once mighty Congress. It is also being used against other non-BJP parties.
Silence is generating fear and apathy in all sections of the Indian society. When the Padmavat controversy started brewing a few months ago, apathy could be sensed from the expression “it is all publicity stunt.”
In the midst of politics of silence, there are still many social media and a few daring news and views outlets combating against muzzling and threats from hotheaded vigilante outfits and ‘senas,’ to save the democratic traditions embedded in the constitution of India.
The true spirit of Republic Day celebrations in India can only be realized when silence is not used as a political whip to silence the opposition and the public.
By Promod Puri

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Simple Living.... Honored

Simple Thinking-Simple Living has been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Simple Living Blogs on the web.


"I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Simple Thinking-Simple Living has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Simple Living Blogs on the web.


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Founder Feedspot

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Riding The Tide

Poetry Book Review
bookThey say every cloud does have a silver lining. It is natural. It appears along darkest of passing clouds.
But Vancouver-based poet laureate Ashok Bhargava himself created that silver-lining by putting together his latest poetry while he braved through his fight against cancerous clouds hanging over his body and mind.
Riding The Tide” is his latest anthology, which was penned in between the painful and exhausting regimes of chemotherapy. In contemplative moods, thoughts were his genial companions and words were his ardent tools.
In his dreadful ordeal, Ashok survived the big C with often porous layers of infinite positivity. He promised himself to survive.
The victorious hero came out with the bouquet of his poetry as words, plenty of them, falling into their place in natural and divine order.
“…….showering of words
 Pour down
 Delicately
 I am drenched.
“Swaying the elation
 I forget the difference
 Between pain and healing
 Between light and dark
 Between faith and doubts
Between promises our bodies make
And the ones they keep.
During the lonely and dragging moments he spent in this tormented interlude of his life, Ashok sought and found that darkness has a light too. And that makes the “Riding the Tide” an inspiring and optimistic read with an abundance of hope.
“….Even waves lift me up
 When I am about to drown.”
-By Promod Puri


Monday, November 27, 2017

GOD’S CONTEMPLATION IN RATIONAL & PRACTICAL ENVIRONMENTS

The personified God is worshipped as the centralized controlling authority influencing every moment of our lives. Moreover, the symbolic undertaking of God creates the fear factor that He is a punishing Being if not believed in His existence. This fear is one reason for His adoration and ceremonial development.

One can experience His eternal spirit through principled and righteous living, but not in His ritualistic perseverance. Morality does not descend just by believing in His existential image, but it does by knowing Him.
Merely believing that God exists is a ritual.
It is a practice based on our mindset image of His embodiment up there and everywhere. When we form an image of Him, then God gets personified. In this dominant perspective, most people believe in His existence. This devotion does not lead to His real study. The buzzword does not establish a logical understanding about Him or Her. Instead the image and ritual-based god is acknowledged without keen awareness.
And when this stereotyped expression of His existence gets invoked then the devotee does not go beyond that commitment, he or she mistakenly believes and asserts to be a “religious person.”
The formal acceptance of God only signifies His residential existence.
But God does not exist only. Instead, He is a functional institution through which His actuality can be better assessed. In His practical perception, God’s presence is more meaningful, offering rational and pragmatic awareness of Him.
The personified God is worshipped as the centralized controlling authority influencing every moment of our lives. Moreover, the symbolic undertaking of God creates the fear factor that He is a punishing Being if not believed in His existence. This fear is one reason for His adoration and ceremonial development.
The idolization and ceremonial culture motivate the buildup of rituals and customs which restrict God’s correct image and discernment. His personification causes the existential ritual.
But God is not a ritual.
Contrary to our psychic conviction, rituality is not imperative to religiosity.
One can experience His eternal spirit through principled and righteous living, but not in His ritualistic perseverance. Morality does not descend just by believing in His existential image, but it does by knowing Him.

MISGUIDED ROUTE
The pathway to His residency through the maze of rituals, customs, and traditions is a wrong route where atheists get lost and disillusioned. The disappointment is perhaps their dominant logic to reject His existence altogether.
Those who are atheists are not born atheists. And those who believe in God are not inborn believers either. It is the ritual of the belief that He exists along with many other ingenerated customs and traditions which constitute the conviction and inference of His existence. Many of the rituals which are meaningless, vague, and disconnected are the basis of His non-existence for atheists.
However, for believers, existentialism does not institute the syllabus to study God which involves both rational and empirical approach as far as human faculty can go. It is a spiritual navigation to access and sense the reality of His vast world. It is here the dynamics of God resides which can be realized rather than instinctively or impulsively confirming that He exists.
In this age when there is an explosion of knowledge, and people seek rationality in any given thought, critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning make the right approach to revisit our mindset image of God. At the same time, we must admit to the fact that the human mind has a limitation in seeking truth beyond empirical evidence and rational ideations.
BINARY ASPECT OF GOD
To revisit our mindset conception of God and to comprehend His existence, two perspectives can be acknowledged and studied. This binary aspect of God can offer reasonable cause, message, and the totality of His Being in this universe and beyond. In fact, the combination of these two approaches has the potential in logically revealing His existence and realization.
In this call, one approach is of astronomical nature of His universal and celestial existence beyond our observable scientific capabilities. And the second interest deals with the practicality of His spiritual presence along with our relationship with plants, animals, and our environment. In simple words, one aspect of God is Noun, and the other one is Verb.
God is a Noun, and that means He is an Entity which can be discerned thru His creations in this universe and rest of the macrocosm as far as our scientific advancements can take us, and our intellective imaginations can envision.
God’s true nature is beyond His relationship with humans, plants, or animals.  He is equally tied up with all His creations including stones, rocks, dust, water, air, light and other seen and unseen, known and unknown objects.
It is from this perspective that an overview of His astronomical creations both in the celestial world and in the tiniest of atoms is supportive in the study of God.
In a recent article in the academic online publication, The Conversation, Prof. Emily Thomas of Durham University, reveals that our “universe contains at least two trillion galaxies,” and that “the observable universe, the part of it we can see, is around 93 billion light-years across. The whole universe is at least 250 times as large as the observable universe”. Further, he says “our planet is 150m kilometers away from the sun. Earth’s nearest stars, the Alpha Centauri system, are four light years away (that’s around 40 trillion kilometers). Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains anywhere from 100 to 400 billion stars. The observable universe contains around 300 sextillion stars.”
These astronomical numbers in billions and trillions, supported by scientific configurations, merely suggest the unlimited vastness of God’s kingdom containing everything real and imaginable beyond stars, galaxies, and universes.
As we move down from the expanse of the celestial scene of His creations to the smallest sub-atomic field, we find the infrastructure, nature, and behavior of elementary particles which are the building blocks of the universe. Quantum theory deals with the contents and environment in this realm.
The question is: how we can perceive God’s existence in the spatial worlds as well as in the tiniest of atoms. Prof. Thomas admits in his article “the divine is, after all, mysterious.”
While the human quest is exploring His mysteries, the ontology of His existence needs to be expanded on rationally-based knowledge and astute imagination rather than as a cliché of His presence along with the tagged fear factor, miracles, and ceremonial gratitude.
His known or unknown, visible, or non-visible creations in this universe and the celestial worlds, are not enough in our knowledge-based search to accept His existence as an Entity. There is more than what we see, observe, perceive, and discern both thru empiricism and rationalism.
Behind the physical reality, there also is the psychic, metaphysical, and spiritual truth of His creations which completes His ontological profile.
The study we are undertaking gets us a comprehensive understanding of God as an Entity beyond the Noun creations of human beings, plants and animals, rivers and mountains, rocks, stones and dust, air and water, and everything else.
We are exploring God which may lead us to new frontiers, new explanations, and new definitions besides the astronomic, astrophysics and quantum probes confirming the complexities of His creations which are unlimited.
In this evolutionary study, the scientifically acclaimed Big Bang theory needs to be revisited to ascertain what happened before, and seconds after this explosive phenomenon. What caused that explosion, and who caused it to happen. Was there any numinous force managing the cause and the after-cause when things settled down to their respective shapes and positions.
GREATEST ASSET
Besides investigating the Big Bang theory, the role of philosophy and metaphysics is vital in this learning to add and review of our understanding of God which after all is man’s greatest asset since His realization.
In fact, when all the available sciences and faculties, not just astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, philosophy, and metaphysics, are put together, the Entity of God emerges through the challenging and scientific environment as an explicit Reality. In the fusion of metaphysical and scientific thought, we can discern the true nature of His Being for creditable acceptance.
In the faculty of divine learning, the knowledge explored and gained establishes the existence of God more in tune with the logical behavior of the educated and informed contemporary society. Here the God’s status changes from His personified image to a comprehended believability as a functional Head conducting the affairs of His universes.
We human beings believe those are the only living creatures who breathe, move, have some sound, can think and express feelings. The rest, rocks, stones, air, water, etc., we assume, are dead objects. And the space we and all the contents of the universe occupy, without which everything would appear clustered together, is not recognized as an entity.
Scientifically speaking, everything which exists, including “dead” objects are alive if we go into their microscopic depths. In the breakdown of the atom, its sub-parts are always in moving mode. The Superstring theory of Quantum Reality reveals that at the sub-atomic levels matter exists in small strings. In simple words, everything at its final microscopic grade is made up of tiny vibrating strands like in a musical instrument of the violin.
These strings have repeated oscillatory pattern of vibration. Each model presents the string its mass and force, and that confers it the appearance of a particle. And when the components of a particle are vibrant and produce sound, “dead” objects are not dead, but alive.
What is that energy which keeps the sub-atomic particles moving, the earth and many other planets spinning, and keep everything alive in one form or the other? Known physicist Stephen Hawkins says: “If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”
The answers we seek in the “science of God” as Hawkins puts it, can reveal as well as change our whole concept and perception of God which can be more acceptable in our questioning society.
GOD IS ACTION, AND ACTION IS GOD
And once we start getting more answers we can realize that the concept of God moves from His residential existence to more logical and practical setting. Besides, this is where our second approach of God as a Verb appears, and which is the functional concept of Him in every moment of our lives.
When we say God is a Verb, our numinous gear shifts mentally and physically into action, initiated and inspired by Noun God. Here the existence of God can be realized not through sciences and philosophies, but only through moral actions.
Being a Verb and a Noun is a two-faced concept when God becomes action, and action becomes God. The famous statue of dancing Nataraj installed at the Centre for Research in Particle Physics, CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research), in Geneva, signifies the transcendental unifying entity of the dancer and the dance, or the Performer and the Performance.
In action lies the vibe of God. His feel, His recognition are the results of actions which we undertake. In this environment, our mindset actuality of God changes from image-based to action-based.
In action-based reality of God, the keyword is righteousness. And the latter is the place which transforms itself into the existence of His Being. In this context, He is not a physical entity, but He is there in the ambiance of the righteous performance of the act.
Here we are renouncing the residency of God from rituals and customs, and the structural places guarded, controlled and managed by the priest class since antiquity. Instead, His existence is caused by our pious and meditative actions where He resides.
And once we explore and practice God, meaning righteousness, in our logical thoughts and actions, the experience syncs well with the contemporary society seeking rationality and common sense while rejecting baseless and irrational rituals, miracles and fears.
In this prudent direction, our karmas play the crucial role in creating the environment where God is involved in His guiding role. We are seeking the Karma-based God through our righteous or spiritual thoughts and deeds. And when we are in that environment, we are like the Nataraj dancer where Karma is God, and God is Karma.
Karma is a very simple philosophy. It basically means action, deed, or work. It is an act of doing something.  But it is not fate. The latter is the product of Karma. Consciousness and karma together find a meaningful relationship in realizing the concept of God in His action-based reality.
In our ongoing study about the existence of God in rational and practical environments, including all of His visible and invisible, known and known creations across all the universes, as well as our righteous thoughts, imaginations and actions, the very realization of His presence is a prayer in itself. And this the invocation and worship of God which can find ready acceptance in the contemporary logic-based civic society we live in.
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