Category Archives: Christ

Spiritual echoes in the Tao Te Ching, Bhagavad Gita and the Bible

tgb1Here are some remarkable spiritual echoes from the 3 ancient texts namely the Tao Te Ching by the Chinese sage Lao Tzu, the Bhagavad Gita as propounded by Sri Krishna and Jesus Christ in his sermon on the mount in the Bible.

It amazing that there are so many parallels in the Tao Te Ching,  the Gita and the Bible. What is more interesting is that these happened many millennia ago at 3 different places on the earth.

So here goes …

In the Tao Te Ching, the Tao is described as ‘the changeless’  and ‘the formless’. Similarly the Gita talks of the Brahman, which is beyond the senses, intellect and the mind,   as ‘changeless, tasteless, odorless and colorless’. These texts discuss the need for the attainment of  this Tao or the Brahman as the ultimate goal of man

Echoes in the Tao Te Ching and the Gita

Both the Tao and the Gita suggest that we need to perform actions without a desire or an attachment to the fruits or results

Tao: “All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show itself;
they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership;
they go through their processes, and there is no expectation (of a reward for the results).”

Gita: “Perform your duty in the spirit of ‘niskama-karma’ or desireless action. Offer the fruits and the results thereof to God”

The Tao-te-Ching and the Gita discuss that one who knows and has attained the Brahman or enlightenment do not care to speak about it as the Tao & the Brahman cannot be described verbally. The Brahman & Tao are beyond verbalization and can only be experienced.

Tao: “He who knows (the Tao) does not (care to) speak (about it);
he who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it.””

Gita: “He who knows (the Brahman) talks not, he who talks knows not (the Brahman)”

Regarding action, both the Tao and the Gita discuss that for those who have attained enlightenment performing action becomes unnecessary. These enlightened souls transcend action completely.

Tao: “He diminishes it and again diminishes it, till he arrives at doing nothing (on purpose).
Having arrived at this point of non-action, there is nothing which he does not do.”

Gita: “A true Brahman is one who has renounced action through devotion and whose doubt has been removed by knowledge and is composed in his self is not bound by karma”

Echoes in the Tao Te Ching and the Bible

The Tao and the Bible suggest that gentleness and flexibility can overcome power and inflexibility. In the Tao Te Ching the example of gentle water eroding the strongest rocks is provided as an example of this principle.

Tao : “The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.”

Bible: “The meek shall rule the world.” (Thanks to Steve Tanner for pointing out that ‘the meek’ in this context refers to a person who is moderate in his/her approach and who does not go to extremes)

Both the Bible and the Tao Te Ching underscore the importance of forgiveness. They extol the need to be shower kindness and blessings even on those who treat you with derision and contempt.

Tao : “To those who are good (to me), I am good;
and to those who are not good (to me), I am also good;—
and thus (all) get to be good.
To those who are sincere (with me), I am sincere;
and to those who are not sincere (with me), I am also sincere;—
and thus (all) get to be sincere.”

Bible: “Love thy enemy”.
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who treat you with disdain..
Show your right cheek if somebody slaps your left.”

Echoes in the Bible and the Gita

The Gita and the Bible re-iterate the fact that we should not judge or form opinions about others when we ourselves are not faultless

Bible: Judge not, lest ye be judged. Condemn not, lest ye be condemned.

Gita: Enlightened men are those who see the same in a Brahmana with learning, a cow, an elephant or a dog. In other words the yogi does not form opinions or judgments about others. A true yogi treats all persons with the same footing.

Another common thread in the Bible and the Gita is that we need to look into ourselves to understand the divine

Bible : The kingdom  of God cometh not with observation. For behold, the kingdom of the God is within you.

Gita: Above the senses, the mind and the intellect is the Atman which is within you. In the Upanishad’s this is also mentioned as “Tat tvam asi”, “Thou art that”.  The Atman is inside you and we become aware of it through self-inquiry.

The Gita and the Bible enjoin us to cut desire at the root.

Bible: You cannot serve God and Mammon at the same. Here Mammon refers to the desire for wealth.

Gita:  Perform ‘niskama-karma’ or desireless action.

It is really amazing that these 3 enlightened souls had such remarkable clarity and similarity in their view of the path towards enlightenment.

Travel lightly in life!

travelerPeace in life is a continuum and cannot simply be isolated instances of freedom from discord. But peace in life is a mirage. We never seem to attain it and are usually burdened with worries, anxieties, fears, animosities and the like.

To get anywhere even close to peace and happiness in life the first thing we need to do is to travel light in life.  Here are some prescriptive processes that will take you closer to peace in life. As mentioned above they are prescriptive and they are processes and will need to be followed in your journey through life

Let go of animosity and hatred: This is the cardinal principle of living lightly and is embodied in Lord Jesus Christ’s immortal words “Love thy enemy”. One needn’t be religious to understand the brilliance in the above statement. Letting go of hatred is simply “smart mental energy management”. Harboring hatred and venom for another can sap your energy and strength. So simply let go and better still forgive and forget.

Strive for mental poise: Here is another no-brainer and is the utterance of Lord Krishna in the Gita “A true yogi is one who is unruffled by praise or criticism”.  You don’t have to be a yogi to realize the truth in the above statement. Praise usually makes us excited and giddy headed. Our head could swell with exaggerated pride. This is often very tiring. Similarly criticism can make us feel crushed and hurt. This is another mental energy sapper. So we need to be able to consciously brush off both praise and criticism,

Take on problems head-on: As I mentioned in my earlier post “Life sucks … big time”. All of us are given a unique set of problems to handle in life. There are no exceptions. So handle your problems head-on. Don’t put away the issues you face in life. It is your problem and your responsibility to get it solved. So get cracking and start to work towards possible solutions.

Don’t procrastinate: This is another important step to travel lightly in life. Having a large to-do-list is bad. In fact go ahead and banish the to-do list from your life.  Whatever you need to do for yourself, your family or in your profession get started and have them completed. In my opinion a ‘to-do’ list is really a ‘to-nag’ list. The tasks in your list have the dirty habit of lurking in the recesses of your mind and robbing you of your peace.

So get started. The first step is always the best step.

Let go of hatred, practice mental poise, take your problems on your chin and avoid procrastination.

Unclutter your mind.

Travel light in life!

On God and religion

Many people believe in God and  in the divinity of the Creator. There are some who will pray fervently, others will chant bhajans or still others will perform rituals. To many of us thinking, praying or chanting hymns gives us a feel-good feeling. We feel a warm glow when we imagine a more powerful Creator above us.

Then there are those who will pray to God to grant them their wishes. They will pray for a long life, wealth or other rewards in life.  Others will pray to God to solve their problems in life. They will live in a imaginary world where their problems of the world is solved through divine intervention.

God to all these people is nothing more than a religious fix.

Unfortunately in all these activities we tend to turn a blind eye to the central teaching of any religion. Behind every God there is a religion. The religions teach us to practice humility, compassion, love, forgiveness and integrity.  We are supposed to avoid anger, hatred or lust.

However most of us perform ritualistic prayers or bhajans and return to our nasty selves very single time.  We forget the values that our religions propound and behave in petty ways. A Krishna Jayanthi should remind us of the need to do our duty in a selfless manner. A Christmas should make us more loving and forgiving. Buddha Jayanthi should make us more non-violent.

Many great souls have re-iterated that it is sufficient to chant the name of God. We take this literally and chant the Lord’s name mindlessly. In reality we should be reminded of the great principles in the religion and we should make a habit of practicing them.

Rather than wishing problems away and praying for divine intervention it would make better sense to confront issues while asking for God’ s assistance in making right decisions.

Rather that requesting God to grant you success and good thing’s life it is better that we take bold initiatives while remembering the sacrifices and the teachings of the religion.

God & religion are not fixes for our problems. In reality they are true north pointers of right action and right behavior.

Learn to unthink

Yes. We have to consciously learn to “unthink”. This may seem odd. After all what is “unthinking”. According to me “unthinking” is the need to stop a thought in its tracks and consciously think on another line contrary to our innate tendencies. Let give you an example. When someone insults you, our natural tendency is to get angry. Why? Because our egos have been hurt and we feel the strong urge to retaliate and give a piece of our mind to that somebody. We react this way because of our conditioning, because of years of programming handed down to us through the ages that insults have to be responded in equal measure with anger.

 

It here we need to pause and reflect. Can we instead of reacting with anger, extinguish immediately the surging fury in us and instead smile and act gracious towards our offender. This is what I mean that we have to unthink the insult. As Christ says, “love your enemy. Be kind to those you hate you”. In other words we have to go against the grain of our programmed and predictable behavior and respond with graciousness and magnanimity.

 

We have to consciously unthink in these cases. As humans we all crave for recognition and fear criticism. We want those words of praise for the acts that we do. We want recognition. We want respect.  “I” have done this. “I” Have achieved this gets in the way. In these situations also we need to “unthink”.

We have to get rid of the “I am the doer” and “I am the change agent”. This is what the Gita tells us. We are not really the agents we believe we are. It is all in God’s plan. We just fit in the grand scheme of things and really we cannot take credit for the success or failure of what we do. In other words we have to learn to “unthink”

 

The ability to not just act according to our pre-dispositions, according to our programmed behavior is extremely difficult to do. In most cases we just behave in certain ways without even thinking just because our reasoning mind tells us do so.

 

But beyond the reasoning mind of us mere mortals are the great teaching of Jesus  or Christ which requires to step back, unthink and then act.

Life’s lessons from the Gita & the Bible

Here a list of key lessons from the Gita and the Bible. These are really difficult lessons to practice in daily life but well worth trying.

– Maintain your poise towards success or failure, pleasure or pain, sorrow or joy (A true yogi is one who has transcended the dualities – Gita)

– Maintain your equanimity at all times. Do not swayed by praise or criticism ( A true yogi is neither elated at praise nor is he upset by criticism – Gita). If we have this attitude we will not crave for recognition nor will fear criticism

– Treat everyone equally without bias or partiality (To a true yogi a brahmin, an outcast or a dog is one and the same – Gita). We should not form opinions or pass judgments on others.

– Repay with love when an act of unkindness (Love your enemy – Bible).

– Never harbor any hatred towards anybody at anytime (Forgive those who hurt you. Pray for those who persecute you – Bible). It never helps to nurse a grudge against anyone. A grudge is an unnecessary burden than be destroyed utterly only through forgiveness.

– Give and give freely. Do not trumpet your acts of charity (Your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing – Bible)

– Avoid finding fault with others or criticizing another (Judge not, lest ye be judged. Condemn not, lest ye be condemned – Bible)

– Perform all actions without any ulterior motive (Do your duty without any desire for the fruits of your actions – Gita)

These lessons from the Gita and the Bible are truly eternal in their concept. They are living lessons that will live till eternity

 

The mind has its own reasons

“The mind has its own reasons” may come as a surprise. But this is very true. While we may consciously reason and want to react in a certain way, when a situation presents itself we react instantaneously based on our internal conditioning. In other words we behave according to the reasoning of our mind.

We may read profound philosophy, be able to articulate noble ideas and thoughts. But in our daily lives when someone attacks our ego we react with anger. All our spirituality and philosophy simply goes up in smoke. We may cool down as an afterthought.

What this indicates to us is that intellectual understanding of spirituality is one thing but adherence to it in real life is completely different. It is not enough that we understand spirituality. We have to internalize it through constant practice.

We have to be able to remove the deep programming that is within us. We have to peel layer by layer this conditioning of ours. It is not easy to react with kindness when somebody is mean to us. Generations of conditioning will make us spew venom in retaliation to meanness. Is there a way to remove this conditioning?

In my opinion, spirituality like any other discipline requires years of practice and a constant unswerving devotion to God. We must through practice internalize good values in our lives.

It is only then will be able to be unruffled by “criticism or praise” as the Gita requires us. It is only then will be able to “love our enemy” as suggested by Christ.

But to achieve such a state in life is no easy task and requires discipline, and an in-depth understanding of our own mind. We must dispel all the cobwebs of evil in our mind.

Only then can we lead a truly virtuous life.

The puzzle of life – The Hindu, Christian and Buddhist view

Life is a puzzle at best. Different religions and religious philosophies have different approaches to life and the way to handle it. While at one end of the spectrum all religions are the same, at the other end they are unique and look at life from a completely different angle. This post tries to look at 3 of major religions of the world and their approach to life and how to conduct ourselves

Buddhism: Buddhism answers the essential question “What is life?” The root of all existence,according to Buddhism, is human suffering. Buddha expounds that life is suffering, in his four noble truths. Buddhism further clarifies that suffering is born of attachment, cessation of suffering is attainable and the path to cessation is based on taking the middle path given in his eight-fold path.

Hinduism: Hinduism essentially answers the question as to “how should one lead life?” According to Lord Krishna in the Gita, one should perform one’s duty with detachment and without any concern for the fruits of the action. We should perform all actions as a sacrifice to God in the full awareness that it is the Creator who is the doer of all actions. Further the Gita tells us that it is better to do what is intrinsic to one’s nature rather than just do something for another.

Christianity: The central message of Christianity is “how should one behave”. The bible requires us love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself. In fact, Jesus goes to the extent of requiring us to love where we would want to hate or in other words we are to “love our enemy”. The Bible also enjoins us to forgive those who err against us, pray for those who despise us. We are to lead a life of love, compassion and mercy.

While all the religions require us to conduct our lives with highest moral principles they essentially show a different path.