Sages of the New Covenant
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02. What is difference between Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven?
There is general notion that both are same and some scholars would say that the Kingdom of Heaven was mentioned in the Gospel of Matthews (Gospel of Matthew was believed to have written to teach about Christ to the Jews.) as they were expecting a Messiah to establish a righteous rule. But I see a clear distinction, which is very much evident in the Prayer taught by Jesus itself, He makes it clear that the His Kingdom in Earth and the His Kingdom in Heaven. (Matt. 6 : 9 – 15) .
Kingdom of God is what one could experience in heart, as Kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:20-21) or live (Jew Jerusalem) on Earth. Kingdom of Heaven is what one could get after the Final Judgment Day; hence it is not in this Earth.
Let me try to be as brief as possible by citing few verses from The Bible.
When Pontius Pilate asked about His Kingdom by Pontius Pilate, He replied: “ My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." (John 18:36).
In the parable of Ten Virgins, all ten were waiting for the bridegroom, which means they all were in the Kingdom of God. But they the foolish five were thinking that by loving their God alone they would qualify to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is more clear in the following verses: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ But the other wise five had earned additional oil by loving the neighbors (Parable of Good Samaritan- Luke 10 : 25 - 37) as well to inherit Eternal Life.
From the parables of Talents (Matt. 25 : 14 – 30), Laborer (Matt. 20 : 1 – 16), Dragnet, (Matt. 13 : 47 – 50), one can understand that these parable talks about a kingdom after the Final Judgment Day and reward in the Kingdom of Heaven is determined by faithfulness to opportunity, what God gave you.
In a nutshell I could conclude that being and living in the Kingdom of God is just holding the Passport with which one could apply for the VISA to the Kingdom of Heaven. But mere possession of the passport in the Kingdom of God, will not qualify us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Canaan was a Biblical nation in the areas of modern Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and parts of Jordan and Syria. Canaan, grandson of Noah occupied this very fertile land in the Mediterranean region. "Milk and Honey" is used as a metaphor to mean "all good things". Since Ham, father of Canaan had seen the nakedness of Noah, Noah cursed that Ham's son Canaan. According to the curse, Canaan would be servant to the other brother's of Ham, namely Shem and Japheth.
Abraham was the tenth generation removed from Noah, being a direct descendant of Shem, (Noah's son), the father of all the "Semitic" peoples. Canaan was the land that was promised to Abraham by God, (when he was 99 years old, a year before Isaac was born) that his descendants would possess. Aron and Moses were seventh generation descendant of Abraham. As per the blessings of Abraham, Eleazar (son of Aron) and Joshua (15th-generation descendant of Abraham) inherited the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham. With the inheritance of Canaan by the descendants of Shem, one can construe that the the curse of Noah too got fulfilled in the process.
I would attribute two reasons:
Probably, Canaan could have fermented wine to please his grandfather with the grapes that was available in abundance in the Valley of Eshcol. That is why, Noah must have singled out Canaan from the other sons (Cush, Mizraim and Put) of Ham and cursed Canaan alone.
" ... a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" - Gen. 2:24
According to Jewish tradition the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, with the exception of the last eight verses of Deuteronomy which describe his death. Today, the majority of scholars agree that the Torah does not have a single author, and that its composition took place over centuries. From the late 19th century there was a general consensus around the documentary hypothesis, which suggests that the five books were created c.450 BCE by combining four originally independent sources, known as the Jahwist, or J (about 900 BCE), the Elohist, or E (about 800 BCE), the Deuteronomist, or D, (about 600 BCE), and the Priestly source, or P (about 500 BCE). Hence this particular verse (Gen. 2:24) need not be considered that it imply to Adam and Eve. This must have been the views of the composers of Pentateuch, taking into consideration of the marital conflicts that must have existed during their time - 450 BCE. This particular verse is often quoted during Christian marriages and the main aim of the author of this verse is to drive home the following message:
"Unity in diversity. Man and wife need to live in harmony, shedding their different nature of their respective metamorphosis, in their developmental years, culture and so on and so forth; which means man and wife need to live with consensus, so that they can show respect and love for each other."
Let me try to amplify the meaning of Gen. 2:24 still further as follows:
As long as there is this feeling of separation, love cannot be known. Love is the experience of unity. The demolition of walls, the fusion of two energies is what the experience of love is. Love is the ecstasy when the walls between two people crumble down, when two lives meet, when two lives unite. When such a harmony exists between two people I call it love.
During copulation, man and wife almost become one flesh. The nature of the sex energy goads it to flow towards love, but the hurdle of “I” has fenced it in like a wall and so love cannot flow. Please remember, love is born when individuality vanishes, when “I” and “the other” are no more. Whatsoever remains when everything, the limitless - but no “I”. With that attainment, all barriers crumble and the onrush of the ever-ready Ganges (love) take place.
Love can be born out of emptiness (nirvana). Only a void is capable of merging with another void; only zero can unite totally with another zero. Not two individuals, but two vacuums can meet, because there is no barrier. All else has walls; a vacuum has none.
Genetically speaking, this verse is relevent in the case of Adam and Eve as well. A genetic engineer can give more insight into this issue. But let me try to illustrate with my limited knowledge on biology.
The following is the reasons to keep the Eagle Lecterns in the Cathedrals:
An eagle lectern is a lectern in the shape of an eagle on whose outstretched wings the Bible rests. They are very common in Christian churches and cathedrals, which were built during the 19th centuries. To me eagle lectern is just an artifact; but the symbolism of the eagle derived from the belief that:
The eagle is the symbol used to depict John the Apostle, whose writing most clearly witnesses the light and divinity of Christ. In art, John, as the presumed author of the Gospel, is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height to which he rose in the first chapter of his gospel. The eagle came to represent the inspiration of the gospels.
The tradition of using eagle-shaped lecterns predates the Reformation. Medieval examples survive in a number of English churches, including the church of St Margaret in Kings Lynn, and the church of St Mary in Ottery St Mary. The Dunkeld Lectern is a notable eagle lectern. In Tamizh Nadu, we can see the eagle lectern at the St George's Cathedral, Chennai and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Palayamkottai.
The word catholic derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning "universal", which comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning "on the whole", "according to the whole" or "in general". The word in English can mean either "including a wide variety of things; all-embracing".
Most of the mainline protestant churches like the Anglicans Presbyterians, and some Methodists believe that their churches are "Catholic" in the sense that they are in continuity with the original universal church founded by the Apostles. Some Protestant churches avoid using the term completely, to the extent among many Lutherans of reciting the Creed with the word "Christian" in place of "catholic".
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) also used the term "Catholic" to distinguish the "true" church from heretical groups. When Nicene Creed was formed in 381AD, it segregated the Arians (which later emerged as Islam) as a heretical group. Hence, Unitarians, Nestorian and the Thomasine Christians of India like the Saivites and Vaishnavites will NOT be part of the Catholic church.
Methodists and Presbyterians believe their denominations (despite the fact they originated much later) owe their origins to the Apostles and the early church, but do not claim descent from ancient church structures such as the episcopate. However, both of these churches hold that they are a part of the catholic (universal) church. Only to make the difference between the Protestants and those come under the control of the Pope, the term 'Roman Catholic' is being used. As such, according to one viewpoint, for those who "belong to the Church," the term Methodist Catholic, or Presbyterian Catholic, or Baptist Catholic, is as proper as the term Roman Catholic.
In Christian countries, cremation fell out of favour due to the Christian belief in the physical resurrection of the body, and as a mark of difference from the Iron Age European pre-Christian Pagan religions, which usually cremated their dead. In Medieval Europe, cremation was practiced only on special occasions when there were many corpses to be disposed of simultaneously after a battle, after an epidemic or during famine, and there was an imminent danger of disease spread.
The rise in cremations reflects many factors: concern for land use; the expense of traditional funerals; the loss of community and a sense of "place" in modern transient society. The Protestant Churches approved cremation earlier than the Catholic Church with the rationale being "God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as He can resurrect a bowl of dust. In 1963, the Pope lifted the ban on cremation, and in 1966 allowed Catholic priests to officiate at cremation ceremonies. Until 1997, Church regulations used to stipulate that cremation has to take place after a funeral service. Such funeral services are conducted in the same manner as traditional burials up to the point of committal, where the body is taken to the crematorium instead of being buried. A burial service is performed after the cremation is completed. In 1997, the funeral rite was modified so that church funerals can take place when the body has already been cremated. In such cases, the ashes are placed in an urn or another worthy vessel, brought into the church and placed on a stand near the Easter candle. During the church service, and during the committal rite, prayers that make reference to the body are modified. Any prayers that refer to the "Body" of the deceased are replaced with "Earthly Remains."
Cremation generally involves the application of high temperature, typically between 1400 and 2100 Degrees Fahrenheit (760 to 1150 Deg. C), to a wooden box or casket which contains a dead body. The body and container are almost completely consumed; the cremated remains consist of bone fragments and particles. The remains usually weigh from 4 to 8 pounds (1.8 to 3.6 kg). The bone fragments are then processed in a machine until they resemble coarse sand, light gray in color.
The Church requires reverent disposition of the ashes which means that the ashes are to be buried or entombed in an appropriate container, such as an urn. The Church does not permit the scattering of ashes or keeping them at home.
Why were Christians so concerned about proper disposal of the body? Here are four reasons:
When Paul offered his body to be burned (1 Cor. 13:3), he was speaking of martyrdom, not cremation. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) has a few references to the disposal by burning in fire. Some verses describe executions by Philistines or Babylonians. Burning of bodies and objects in ancient Israel were mostly reserved for idols, criminals or enemies. Most of the key people in the Old Testament were buried. In fact, it was considered a dishonor to the people of Israel not to receive a proper burial. Most of the people who were burned to death in the Bible were receiving a punishment.
George Bernard Shaw glorified cremation as a process meant only for people of higher order like the Irish. Cremation was the normal practice of Greeks and Romans. Many of them believed in the immortality of the soul and saw no reason to give special attention to the body. Hindus, with their doctrine of reincarnation, still practice cremation, because of the Hellenistic influence in their religious practices. From this one can be sure that cremation is an Aryan practice. People come to Varanasi to die, so that they can escape re-birth and believe that those who die at Varanasi goes straight to heaven. Burning of the body is considered a sanctifying act. As Sadhus, Children and female virgins are considered pure in Hinduism; hence their body is left-afloat into the Ganges without burning.
Dr E Stanley Jones mortal remains were cremated as per his wish and buried in Sat Tal Christian Ashram (the mother os all the Christian Ashrams started by him), Sat Tal, India nad at Maryland, USA, his home town.
Jewish practices are similar to the Dravidians, which goes well with the burial as well. Archaeological findings of pottery and relics in several places in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Adichanallur corresponded with the findings of the earlier Indus Valley Civilisation. The dead people wear buried in crouching position in terracotta coffins. The "Muddu Makkal Thazhi" (terracotta coffins) confirms that the dravidian mode of funeral is burial or Samadhi. Hence, followers of Saivaism and Vishnavism (both are heretical Christianity of Apostle Thomas) are expected to follow the Dravidian / Jewish / Christian practices.
With the rising cost of funeral expenses today, many people are choosing cremation instead of burial. Even Rt. Rev. Devasagayam, C.S.I. Bishop in the Diocese of Madras advocates cremation to save space in the cemeteries. For for who desires to cremate their mortal remains, my suggestion is: DONATE YOUR BODY PARTS, before cremation. I have donated my body with the exception of Skin, Bones and Skull. Adam was created from the Earth; hence it is proper to send the mortal reamins back to Earth and I desire to be buried in standing position to minimise the space for burial of my moral remains. Those who need help to sign their pledge for Organ Donation, may contact me.
The Chandogya Upanishad compares Acharya to the cow that nourishes us with its milk. The cow expects nothing in return. It gives with no expectations for itself, and it gives with affection and complete selflessness. It is the Acharya who helps us to move to God.
Imagine a man, who, unfortunately, has no legs. The royal elephant is on its way to the palace. The man sees it and wishes he could be seated on the elephant. But this is not possible, given his inability to stand up, so the mahout whispers something in elephant's ears, and the elephant bends down on its knees. The mahout then hoists the man on to the elephant's back. Thus seated, the man makes a round the streets of the town. Those seeing him wonder if he is the king himself. They do not know he does not have legs, and has been helped by the mahout.
The one who plays the role of the mahout is the Acharya.
The one who seeks an enlightened person is a Shisheya. It is not the guru who has to be a worthy one. The disciple who seeks knowledge from him must also be worthy of receiving the knowledge. If milk is poured in a vessel that has not been properly cleaned, the milk will get spoilt. In the same way, the person seeking knowledge must have pure thoughts; otherwise, no amount of instruction from the guru will help him.
There are many essential qualities that an Acharya should have. He must be in complete control of his senses and must never fall prey to common human frailties like envy.
An example from the Ramayana illustrates how an Acharya should behave. Rama went to Kaikeyi's palace and learnt that He was not going to be crowned. When He came out, Lakshmana was waiting for Him with an umbrella. Rama told Lakshmana that He would no longer require an umbrella. He then looked at all the decorations that had been put in place in Ayodhya for His coronation.
Anyone else in Rama's position would have been envious of Bharata, who was to be crowned instead of Him. But Rama felt no envy. He looked at the decorations, and in his mind He blessed Bharata and wished for the coronation to go off smoothly. This kind of affection is what an Acharya also should bear towards others. An Acharya too must be free of envy.
An Acharya should speak gentle words. He must never be harsh with anyone. His conduct should be above criticism. He should be like Christ-like, a person who will instantly command respect. He should want others to experience that joy he has himself enjoyed on getting close to God.
He should expect nothing in return from his disciples. However well read he may be, he should never show off his learning, but must be like an ignorant child. He should be easily approachable.
He should never lose his temper. He should be quick to forgive others' mistakes. He should be the confidant of his disciples, who should feel comfortable with him to share their feelings without fear. It is important for us to know what the qualities of a good Acharya are so that we may identify one.
There are many ways of worshiping God. One is by listening to His praise being sung. Another way is to perform Yagas, which is nullified in the cross by Christ, by offering Himself as the ultimate Yaga.The other way is through penance. One more is delving deep into the religious texts. Most of the church services offer the following: Songs of Praise to God, Penance (in the form of fasting and prayer), Yagasala (sacrificial offering) and Bible Study. Hence, the best way to worship is visiting the church and reveal his / her Bhakti.
Please understand that there are various stages in the path of Bhakti depending on each individual’s involvement. In a heightened state of bhakti, the individual sees only God everywhere and is always steeped in communion with Him. Others who are not so advanced in bhakti would lean towards God only intermittently. Yet another category of totally self-centered people exist who have no room for God in their thoughts. Unable to rise above their selfish steak, they cling on to their ego. This is a dangerous trend because a loaded mind is the biggest hurdle in the path of God realization. Sage Narada advises that an aspiring Bhakta needs to train himself to rise above the selfish state.
Gaining bhakti is not easy, and it has to take root in one’s consciousness so that a unique bond with God is built. But it is achievable, once we surrender all our actions to God. In the following verse Jesus was referring to the act of bhakti only:
"Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’* This is the first and great commandment."
- Matt. 22: 37 & 38
* - Psalm 110:1
Bhakti takes us closer to God. It must be Bhakti that expects nothing in return from God. The true Bhakta seeks no rewards for his bhakti. Unfortunately, with the advent of prosperity theology, people come to churches, only if the pastor talks about multiplying the material wealth / finances. Alas bhakti is reduced to this state.
We can compare bhakta to the performer of Karagattam (In this dance, the performers balance the water pot on their head very beautifully.) - a folk dance of Tamizh Nadu. The performer of Karagattam, need to be have great sense of balance and be oblivious of what around him. His mind is only on the dance, which requires the skill to balance the Karagam; so also in the case of a bhaktas. They might go about their daily routine, but their mind is focused always on God.
A bhakta holds on to God with unconditional love and gain balanced attitude to life and will not be affected by joy or sorrow and he would derive courage to deal with the problems and challenge that come his / her way. When a bhakta exhibits unconditional love, God reciprocates bhakta’s unconditional love in equal measure. Unconditional love was best demonstrated by the widow of Saribath, who fed the prophet Elijah.
One can draw a close parallel to the unconditional love of a bhakta towards God to that of mythological characters - Kuchela and Lord Krishna. Kuchela’s love for Krishna prompted that latter to relish the simple gift – beaten rice – of his childhood friend Krishna. When Kuchela gave what he had to Krishna, in return Lord Krishna blessed him in unexpected ways, which put an end to Kuchela’s material poverty.
Creation and the Creator can’t be separated, for all Creation is His and exists because of His will. The same logic is applicable to dance. Can a dancer and his dance be separated and viewed separately? Without the dancer, there is no dance. But a painter and his paintings can be viewed as separate entities. So can a sculptor and his sculptures. The dancer (creator) and the dance (creation) can not be separated. That is why in Hindu mythology, Lord Siva is portrayed as cosmic dancer.
Like dance, the song and the singer can not be separated. In the church, if the worshiper, who is engrossed in the song forgets his/her Self and start dancing, he is surrendering him/her to God. Here singing and dancing becomes the best form of worship, because, in dancing the Creator (God) manifests in the creation (human being). But if the dance is performed consciously, adopting some specific dance movement, then the dance just becomes a performance / show and a show / performance do not come under the category of Bhakthi. When I say dance, it is just the rhythmic waving of the body (hovering over in the air) to a music - a Nirguna (without any attributes) dance. Dances such as hip hop, Interpretative, classical and Step dances do not come under the purview of Nirguna dances, as they all have a set of pattern of movement the dancer has to train him / her self.
We find no reference to Christ to have danced in the synagogue; nor to have taught anything about dancing. King David danced in Bhakthi. During my Dance Meditation sessions, many participants had 'Vision of God experience', which demonstrate the usefulness of dancing in moving closer to God. Dancing is a personal choice and dance devoid of bhakthi will be a hindrance to the other worshipers and such dances should not be encouraged.
Jesus is not against rich people; but He was apprehensive about what they do with their riches. We need to get inspiration from the life stories of people like Ramtideva. It teaches us valuable lesson in sharing and caring for fellow beings. The following is the briefing:
King Rantideva spent his entire wealth to feed the hungry and the distressed people with all the resources that was available at his disposal. During the famine, he undertook a penance by fasting and prayer for 48 days, risking his life. While breaking the fast some one offered a porridge; but he did not hesitate to give up the last morsel of food and little quantity of water to all those who came demanded, that he was about to partake. He stated that he did not seek the bliss or attainment of ashta siddhis or even freedom from the the curse of this World. His only desire was to empathize with the sufferings of beings and serve them so that their misery could be alleviated.
Those who want to read a elaborated story of King Rantideva click on the following link:
This is what Jesus Christ expected from the Young Ruler who had great possessions (Matt. 19:16–22). But the reply of Jesus made him sad. But Zacchaeus, just did it (Luke 19 : 1 -10) and got Salvation on the very day itself. Even before coming of Jesus Christ, giving gifts or parting with one's wealth is an important part of Yagasala (sacrifical offering).
At the threshold of the Kali Yuga, Kali Purusha, whose role was to dilute the moral values and standards found it difficult to establish himself, because Parikshit reign was characterized by an impeachable adherence to dharma. Kali confronted the king Parikshit to give permission for him to enter his kingdom (World). With great reluctance, Parikshit granted five places in which Kali could reside, namely: Gambling, Alcoholism, Prostitution, Hunting and GOLD.
Is it not astonishing to know Gold finding a place in the list? Gold is not only a metal to mould jewels, but also a monetary system in which the ‘standard economic unit’ of account is a fixed to ‘mass of gold’. Money was serving as an agent for the Kali purusha in deteriorating the moral values, that is why, Christ said the following:
“...I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
This saying was Jesus’ response to a young rich man who had asked Him what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments, to which the man stated he had done. Jesus responded, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young man became sad and was unwilling to do this. Jesus then spoke this response, leaving his disciples astonished. This particular statement is mentioned in three gospels (Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:24-25, & Luke 18:24-25), because adherence to austerity is very important for the followers of Christ.
Love for Gold (money) creates inequality in the society. Let me try to drive home this economic theory with the following illustration:
In marriages a small amount of gold – in the form of a ring in the West and in the form of a mangalasutra or thaali in India is used as a ritual. Hence let us consider one sovereign of gold as an ENTITLEMENT for all those who want to enter into matrimony. When people develop love for gold jewelries and go on buying at every possible temptations that they get from the traders of gold – like the promotions they do on Akshaya Tritiya, the prize of gold escalates. I have come across ladies who wear one and a half kilograms of gold during family functions. This amass of gold of a section of a society, deprives the economically marginalized to buy not even one sovereign of gold for their marriage ritual. Here, the love for Gold, serves as a factor of DEPRIVATION of their entitlement.
The evil of Gold do not stop with this deprivation alone. Love for gold prompts jealousy in the mind, which leads people to rob and sometimes culminates in murder in the process of taking passion from the other.
Those who understand the economic phenomenon would agree with me that the same process – Deprivation of Entitlement - created famine in Ireland 1840, as people living in England could give a better price for staple food of the Irish - potato – as a fodder crop for their livestock. This is also true in Today’s India. Though huge volume –sufficient enough to feed every one in India - of rice is produced, nearly 40 percent of the population go hungry to bed, as the rice traders get better price in the Global market.
Based on this logic, we promote austere life-style among the Christians and appose Prosperity Theology, which is widely unleashed by many Evangelists.
In the story of Ajamila, though he was raised as a pious man, Ajamila slips into sinful activities and continued his sinful life till the end if his life. But he recite the name of the God unknowingly and the graceful God send his angels to prevent the messengers of Death taking his soul to hell for punishment. Those who have not heard the story, please read the story by clicking on the following link:
This story is to teach the humanity how merciful God is. But in the story Ajamila recite God's name unknowingly. In the Play of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Dr Faustus sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge consciously and similarly did not try to seek God's intervention consciously and honored the his commitment to devil in utter helpless (shameful) state.
Hence my answer is ABSOLUTELY, God will deliver the sinners even if he / she seek God at the last moment. This is what Jesus tried to convey to us in the Parable of the Laborers (Matt. 20:1-16). " .. the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen". But the seeking need to be a conscious effort, realizing His forgiving nature. God makes us worthy of His grace moment we send an SOS message to Him with total surrender. He is not going to throw our sins in our face and ask us to explain our conduct, when we surrender. It is enough for God that we have at last sought the refuge of His feet, and He will happily accept our surrender.
"I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." - Luke 15:7
Therefore, we can have no excuse for not surrendering to Him. No matter how wrong our actions have been so far, He will still accept our surrender.
Let me try to explain with the story of Elephant leader Gajendra.
Gajendra was the Leader of elephants. One hot day, he proceeded to the lake with his family to cool off in its fresh waters. But from within the lake a crocodile appeared who attacked him and would not let go of him. When the family and relatives saw ‘death’ coming close to Gajendra, and everyone realized that everything was lost, they left Gajendra alone. The elephant leader Gajendra, who tried to save himself from the crocodile for many years, understood that it would be by his effort but by God's GRACE that he could be saved and called out to the prime source of the entire universe and creation for help. Gajendra prayed to God to save him and God came and attacked the crocodile and saved the elephant king Gajendra.
Elephant is powerful only in a land and crocodile is powerful in water. In this story, for several years, elephant-leader Gajendra was thinking that he is powerful and was capable of rescuing himself from crocodile - an animal, which an elephant could just crush under his feet, if the attacker was on the land. When Gajendra realized that he is not a wrong battle-ground, he shed all his ego and surrendered to God and sought His help.
When we are boastful, we have not surrendered to God. If people are thinking that by virtue of their good deeds and righteousness that they can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they are miserably mistaken. Mahabali (on whose honor ONAM festival is celebrated in Kerala) was a righteous king. This righteousness blinded him to begin his Ashvamedha Yaga to gain mastery over the World and and to give deaf ears to his guru Sukracharya, only to be killed by God. From the story of Mahabali, we can understand that our righteousness alone will not qualify us to the Kingdom of Heaven and on the contrary total surrender to receive the grace of God alone get a place in the Kingdom of God.
Though, there is no time period mentioned in the Bible about the time Earth was created and the other events that took place to prior / later the Creation, a hypothetical calculation could be made.
Yuga is a period of time that pertains to not only to the Earth, but to the entire Universe.
Krita (Satya) yuga is the first time period. During the twilight period of the Satya Yuga, the Fall of the Angel too took place. Krita Yuga ended with the Sixth Day of Creation. (Gen. 2 : 1). During this Yuga truthfulness ruled all over the universe.
In each Yugas that followed Krita Yuga, God made two interventions - one Intervention of Hope and another an Intervention of Correction.
God tried to start the truthfulness with Adam in the beginning of the Treta Yuga. With the sinning of Adam and Eve, the stewardship of the Earth was transferred to the Fallen Angel (Satan). During the twilight period of Treta Yuga, the Great Deluge took place. During this period, there was 75 percent righteousness in this World. In this yuga, creation of Adam and Eve was the Hope and the Great Deluge was the corrective measure.
God once again tried to promote truthfulness in this Earth by blessing Noah and his sons (Gen.9:1), which signifies the beginning of the Dwapara yuga. and culminated with the death of Terah (Gen. 11 : 32). During this period there was 50 percent righteousness in this World. During the twilight period of Dwapara yuga, God confused the languages of the earth and people got scattered all over the face of the Earth. During the twilight period of Dwapara Yuga, Abram was born. In this yuga, blessing Noah was the Hope and confusing the language was the corrective measure.
God pitched hope on Abram and made him to depart from his own country, so that God can bring a righteous community in the land of Canaan, through the descendants of Abram (Abraham). The beginning of Kali yuga started with the circumcision and renaming of Abram. Rough calculation could indicate that February 17th and 18th in the year 3102 BC God must have entered into a Covenant with Abraham to retain righteousness at least among a section of the 'Chosen People'. God extended the scope of 'Chosen People' by shedding His blood on the Cross, during this yuga as well. During the Kali yuga, the life expectancy of the people too reduced to 100 years. This period will culminate in the Last Judgment and reestablishment of righteousness (Kingdom of God). In covenant with Abraham was the Hope and God's avatar as Jesus Christ was the corrective measure.
I am not a genetic engineer to give details of the constellation of the genome that bring forth streaked, speckled and spotted fur on their skin. But I can give an analogy from the life of Sage Vasishta.
Sage Vasishta used to spend long hours of reciting Vedic chants. When Sage Vassishta’s daughter-in-law was pregnant, one day Vashishta heard the fetus in the womb reciting Vedas and he was astounded. The fetus must have absorbed what it was hearing around and was able to recite the chants.
Similarly, Jacob has tried to create a Mental Picture / Model, by exposing the white which was in the rods before his flocks, so that they would bring forth streaked, speckled and spotted fur on their skin. We think in pictures, and these pictures become our inner reality. Hence, Jacob leveraged the power of the sub-conscious mind of his flocks - the white patched what the flocks had seen in rods must have affected the formation of the pigments of the unborn.
If Dr Wayne W Dyer had to answer this questions, he would have said: “Jacob saw it, when he believed it !!!
From Acts 14:15 one can conclude that God do not have an attribute, it is human imagination, which want to describe God in the nature and form they had experienced in the past. It is like placing a crystal, which is colorless besides a red flower; and the redness what one see in the crystal at that moment is false. Still the simple and sure path of bakhti advocates chanting God's name. This we can learn from the story of Yudhishtira.
Yudhishtira, the very embodiment of dharma, felt disturbed at the misery and suffering Mahabharata war had unleashed. Krishna directs Yudhishtira to learn about the nuances of dharma from Bhishma. Yudhishtira approached Bhishma, while the latter was waiting the end of his life term on a bed of arrows and sought Bhishma's advice on how one could gain peace of mind in the world. Bhisham extols the one thousand name of God, where in each name celebrates His infinite glory.
Hence, if the 1000 Praises of Blessing TV illustrates God's omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence with the following statements like: - He is the greatest Lord; He is the very epitome of purity, auspiciousness, and the one and only refuge for all beings. He is ever alert to the welfare of all human beings without any partiality and extends His help to those who seek Him with love and devotion. All can hope to transcend sin of Adam only through His grace for He alone can grant salvation, the ultimate goal of every human beings. - then it is right to do so, which Psalmist too had done.
To claim the 'Born Again Status", we need not be a ex-robber, ex-rapist, ex-prostitute or an ex-murderer. Indian scriptures say: once we know the greatness of Ashtakshara mantra - "Aum Namo" (saluting the universal God) - we can be sure to have spiritually born. Hence, the moment of realization of the nature of the atma (soul) is the moment of spiritual-birth or 'born again'. When we understand that we belong to God (with total surrender), we can claim that we are born again.
Speaking in tongue is a sign to the non-believers (1Cor. 14:22) to know the presence of Holy-spirit in a particular individual. In Act 2: 2-11, we read when the devote men had gathered in Jerusalem from every nation under the sky, Holy-spirit filled the people they began to speak on other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the utterance. No doubt, speaking in tongue is an external manifestation of God’s Spirit filling the human beings. As the gathering consisted of people from Parthia (north-eastern Iran and south western Afghanistan), Medea (north-western portions of present-day Iran) , Elamite (southwest Iran), Mesopotamia (Arabian Plateau, corresponding to today’s Iraq, mostly, but also parts of modern-day Iran, Syria and Turkey), Judea (the mountainous southern part of the region known as Land of Israel and Palestine, roughly corresponding to the southern West Bank and northern Negev desert in Israel), Cappadocia (region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine [Black Sea] largely in Nevşehir Province, in Turkey), Pontus (northeastern Turkey), Asia, Phrygia (west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey), Pamphylia (modern day Antalya province, Turkey), Egypt, Libya, Cyrene (city near present-day Shahhat, Libya), Rome, Crete (the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece) and Arabia (Gulf-countries) whatever they were speaking, the Galileans were able to understand in the Galilean dialect of Aramaic language; which prompted them to say to one another: “Look, are not those who speak Galileans?” To summarize, one can say everyone was able to comprehend in their own mother tongue whatever others when they were filled by the Holy-spirit.
In addition, from 1 Cor. 12: 8-10, we understand that making speeches in several languages and translating the speech made in the other language into to the local language, itself considered a Spiritual Gift. This point is affirmed by the following verses: “If anyone speaks in tongue (language other than the local one). Let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret (translate). But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God (in silence).” (1Cor. 14:27&28).
In the Thamizh Epic, Manimegali (மணிமேகலை), we come across a "Speaking in Tongue Experience". The following is the story:
Sadhuvan, a seafarer cum Chetti (businessman) after a ship-wreck at the Bay of Bengal reaches mountainous regions of Nagaliam. While he was sleeping there, the local tribes have spotted him and encircled him thinking that they are going to have a wonderful feast on his flesh. When they woke him up, Sadhuvan spoke in the language of that particular Nagaliam tribes. Since he spoke in their dialect, they abandoned the their project of eating his flesh and took Sadhuvan to their Chieftain. When Sadhuvan was able to talk to their leader, very fluently in their language, he received favor not only from the Chieftain but also from all the tribes, which facilitated his safe return to his country.
Sadhuvan was almost like vagabond, before the ship-wreck. It is possible that he must have lamented about his trespassing in life and God must have put him through a spiritual encounter and spoke to the tribals in their language, who woke him up from sleep with the fervent hope of feasting on his flesh. After speaking in tongue experience, Sadhuvan takes the tribes of Nagaliam to a ‘Spiritual Discovery’ by explaining the presence of Soul in the body and ‘life-after-death’, by saying the following:
மயக்குங் கள்ளும் மன்னுயிர் கோறலும்
கயக்கறு மாக்கள் கடிந்தனர் கேளாய்
பிறந்தவர் சாதலும் இறந்தவர் பிறத்தலும்
உறங்கலும் விழித்தலும் போன்றது உண்மையின்
நல்லறம் செய்வோர் நல்லுல கடைதலும்
அல்லறம் செய்வோர் அருநர கடைதலும்
உண்டென உணர்தலின் உரவோர் களைந்தனர்
(ஆதிரை பிச்சையிட்ட காதை: 84-90)
In a nutshell one can say, this speaking in tongue experience, prepared the vagabond-Sadhuvan to come back to his wife Aathirai, who was the first one to offer alms to Manimgegali, the mendicant nun, who possessed the 'cornucopia vessel' that never go empty of food.
Sadhuvan has never learnt the language of the tribes of Nagalim. But God has filled him with his holy spirit and he spoke in the language of the locals. This is what Speaking in Tongue.
From 1 Co. 14:2 & 4, we learn that those who speak in tongue doesn’t speak to men but to God. In addition those who speak in tongue edifies oneself. But we need to keep this the following verse in mind:
“… If I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying or by teaching.” (6th verse)
“…. Unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” (9th verse)
“ If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. (14th verse)
“I would rather speak five words with my understanding that I may teach others also, than ten thousand in a tongue [alien language]” (19th verse)
The 40th verse, says: “Let all things be done decently and in order”. Hence, Gabar, a wonderful Christian mystic, introduced this meditation technique based on Gossalia. It is said that people would come to Gabar with all kinds of questions about enlightenment and he would simply answer with nonsensical sounds. At first people thought he was crazy and that no one would come to listen. But hundreds of people came and he ended up having more disciples than any other mystic of his time.
He just talked nonsense, a constant stream of sounds and words with no commas or periods, no sentence structure. He enjoyed himself. He would laugh as if he was telling jokes and then he would start all over again. By and by, the disciples, who continually increased in number, realized that just by sitting near him, listening to his gibberish, their minds became more and more silent. And that was his whole purpose: to bring them into a state of meditation, to bring them in touch with their own inner silence. This great mystic answered their questions by taking them deep inside themselves, beyond the mind where their own answers lay.
What you see in the present day churches are similar to Gabar’s method of meditation, which is why congregation is encouraged to repeat a particular word, like “Al rabba … rabba”. Gibberish Meditation is a wonderful tool to move towards inner silence. This meditation introduced by Gabar, later popularized by the a Sufi mystic named Jabbar about hundred years ago. I am sure you may be interested to know how Gibberish works and the following is my briefing:
The mind thinks in terms of words. Gibberish helps to break up this pattern of continuous verbalization. Without suppressing your thoughts, you can throw them out using the Gibberish meditation. It is a wonderful way to release physical, mental and emotional stress.
It may be done at any time of the day while alone or in a group. All that you have to do is gaze into the sky for ten to fifteen minutes. Then start singing la… la… la… Forget everything, just sing la…la…la…Soon it will begin to change its color, sounds may change into words, even foreign words. Keep it up for twenty minutes. Bring out everything from inside, all the repressed thoughts.
Gibberish helps you to clear
your mind of all the craziness
that has piled in your mind
for centuries. Allow yourself
to express whatever needs to be
expressed within you.
This is an excellent method to release all physical, mental and emotional pressures. OSHO Rajanish employed this type of meditation in his commune and called this meditation as: “Devavani”. I have used this meditation in my OADE programs and attune the participations to the further advanced meditation techniques.
If you are interested in doing this methodical manner to speak in tongues, I suggest the following four stages:
While sitting, close your eyes and begin to say nonsense sounds – any sounds or words, so long as they make no sense. Just speak any language that you don't know! Allow yourself to express whatever needs to be expressed within you. Throw everything out. The mind thinks, always, in terms of words. Gibberish helps to break up this pattern of continual verbalization. Without suppressing your thoughts, you can throw them out. Let your body likewise be expressive.
After some minutes of Gibberish, there is a drumbeat, at which point the Gibberish stops. God’s voice then guides the listener into a space of deep silence, stillness and relaxation, saying, for example, “Be silent, close your eyes...no movement of the body – feel frozen. Go inwards, deeper and deeper, just like an arrow. Penetrate all the layers and hit the center of your existence.”
Another drumbeat and, without arranging yourself, just allow yourself to fall down "like a bag of rice," so you are lying, utterly still and relaxed, on your back as you are guided even more deeply into a silent stillness.
At the final drumbeat, God’s voice guides you back to a sitting position, with the reminder to carry the glimpse of silent awareness one may have had into everyday activities.
You can do this technique at any time of day. To start with you might want to try 5 minutes of gibberish followed by 5 minutes of silence. Then build up to 15, 20, or 30 minutes of gibberish followed by the equivalent time of silent sitting. I suggest that you eat lightly one hour before you do this meditation. In this 1-hour meditation a gentle, unfamiliar language moves and speaks through the meditator, who becomes an empty vessel, where God can fill him / her mind with His Peace. It deeply relaxes the mind and creates inner peace. If done last thing at night, it also creates a profound sleep.
“Though I (believers) speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (1Cor. 13:1)
“God is not the author of confusion but of peace. – 1 Cor. 14:33
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