Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses Ancient Indian Knowledge in Contemporary India

The Relevance of Ancient Indian Knowledge in Contemporary India

Bambolim, Goa, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left his hotel at the sea’s edge to drive 35kms inland to the Goa Institute of Management (GIM) in Sanquelim. The Institute, rated one of the leading business schools in the country has 672 full-time and 90 part-time students, 42% of whom are women,and is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The skies were heavy with monsoon clouds, the fields and trees were vivid green, but the roads were remarkably clear due to efficient police traffic management. His Holiness was welcomed on arrival by Director, Ajit Parulekar and the Chairman of the Board, Ashok Chandra, who escorted him through the hall to the stage. When he stepped out onto it an affectionate cheer went up. As is customary, he participated in lighting the inaugural lamp.

Chairman Ashok Chandra, on behalf of the Institute told His Holiness that it was a matter of great pride that he had honoured them by accepting their invitation. He also welcomed Father Romuald d’Souza, who set up the Institute 25 years ago, noting that without the founders’ support there would be no GIM today. He said he liked to believe GIM was special because, like a human being, it asks itself, who am I? what are my values? Ethics and human values are important to GIM, which tries to live by them and inculcate them into its students.

Director Ajit Parulekar spoke enthusiastically of a new partnership between GIM and the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values (DLC) at MIT, which is intended to enhance the learning of ethics in the institute. He mentioned that Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi of DLC regretted being unable to attend today’s function. The partnership aims to set new standards for training in ethics and empathy in order that they permeate all of aspects of civic society. In an uncertain and volatile world this will require the emergence of responsible leadership, to which GIM can make an effective contribution. The Director also mentioned that GIM will oversee the introduction in Goan schools of DLC’s Transformative Teachers program, which has ethics, emotional learning and meaning-making as core components.

Father Romuald d’Souza told His Holiness that GIM has included ethics in its business courses from the beginning, taking a rational approach. He added that by encouraging compassion, forgiveness and mercy the institute aims to educate the heart as well as the brain.

Right at the start of his talk, His Holiness asked Father d’Souza how old he was and was impressed to hear he was 93. He conceded that he was 10 years younger, which he acknowledged in his introduction:

“Respected elder brother, and the rest of you brothers and sisters, I’m extremely happy to be here to share some of my thoughts with you.”

Taking his cue from a slogan on the wall of the hall, ‘the learning never stops at GIM’, he mentioned a Tibetan scholar who famously advised that even if you will die tomorrow, it’s worth studying and learning something today because of the positive impact it can have on the mind.

“We may be conscious on a sensory level, but learning takes place on a mental level,” he continued, “which is why it’s important to pay attention to our mental consciousness. We need to examine our consciousness at a deeper level than our waking state, dominated as it is by sensory experience. Consciousness is subtler when we dream and there are no external sensory distractions. In deep sleep it is even subtler, but the subtlest consciousness manifests at the time of death. Indeed there are some people who are able to access this level of consciousness and their bodies remain fresh for a time after clinical death has taken place. Scientists are investigating this phenomenon to understand what is going on.

“On a sensory level consciousness is related to pleasing sights, sounds, smells, tastes and aspects of touch, including sex. But anger and loving kindness are not sensory experiences. They take place on the level of the mind. Modern education tends to pay more attention to material goals and sensory experience. Although all religious traditions teach about love, tolerance and so forth, in India the longstanding practices for developing a calmly abiding mind (shamatha) and analytical insight (vipashyana) have given rise to a thorough understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions.

“In today’s world, which is facing an emotional crisis, such knowledge is not only relevant, it’s valuable. Scientists tell us they have evidence that basic human nature is compassionate. This is borne out by our common experience of our mother’s care and affection in our infancy, without which we would not survive. Scientists have also observed that constant anger, fear and suspicion undermine our immune system, whereas a compassionate attitude sustains it.

“We are social animals. Altruism attracts friends and brings people together; anger drives them apart.

“Until about 200 years ago, education was the province of religious institutions, which were responsible for instilling a sense of moral principles in their followers. Since education and religious establishments parted company this responsibility has lapsed. We all need moral principles for our own peace of mind, so they should be part of our education. I believe that only in India can modern education be combined with ancient Indian knowledge of the mind and emotions.”

His Holiness observed that although such knowledge developed in India, in the course of time interest in it deteriorated. However, in upholding the Nalanda Tradition, Tibetans kept it alive and have brought it back to the land of its birth. He suggested that reviving ancient Indian understanding of the mind and emotions, reason and logic, in India, is a contribution Tibetans can make. He mentioned that in the re-established Monastic Universities, mostly in Karnataka, there are 10,000 monks and nuns trained and equipped to teach. Many of them today are capable of communicating in English, Hindi, and Kannada, in addition to Tibetan.

He spoke of encouraging Indians settled abroad to invite others to share festivals like Diwali and to discuss longstanding Indian traditions like ahimsa or non-violence. He also contended that as the world’s most populous democratic country, India should show the world that it is possible for religious traditions to live together in harmony.

“We can achieve peace of mind if we tackle our destructive emotions, so the goal of making the 21st century an era of peace and compassion is feasible. It will involve finding solutions to problems in dialogue, not the use of force. Therefore, demilitarization becomes another goal, as does the planned elimination of nuclear weapons. But for any of these goals to be fulfilled, they must be founded first of all on a sense of inner disarmament.”

His Holiness invited questions from the audience and the first questioner wanted to know how to apply ancient Indian knowledge in day to day life. He advised her that it would involve studying the mind and emotions in a rational logical way. He referred to a couple of American cities, one that has declared itself a city of compassion and the other that has redefined itself as a city of kindness. Because of the focus on kindness and compassion and programs associated with them, students in both cities have become noticeably less violent and more ready to help others.

Asked how to find peace of mind, His Holiness recommended taking a more holistic view of problems you face. If you look at them only from one angle, they may seem overwhelming, while from a wider perspective they seem more manageable. He quoted the 8th century Indian master Shantideva who counseled analyzing a challenging situation to discover if it could be overcome. If it could, there’d be no need to worry. Instead you should act. If it couldn’t be overcome, worrying about it wouldn’t help.

His Holiness was invited to talk about a time when he was afraid and he referred to the night of 17th March 1959 when he escaped from Lhasa. His efforts to mediate with the Chinese communist forces had broken down and there seemed no option but to leave. But that involved passing the Chinese military camp in the dark and crossing a large river. He was afraid inasmuch as he didn’t know if he would see the dawn of the following day. Once over the first pass his fear began to subside.

“Chinese communists work on the basis that power comes from the barrel of a gun, from military force. But Tibetans’ strength lies in the truth. The power of the gun is temporarily decisive, but in the long run it is the power of truth that is the longer lasting.” The audience applauded.

“We raised the question of Tibet at the UN to little effect. Nehru told me that the USA would not go to war with China over Tibet and that sooner or later we would have to enter into discussions with the Chinese. Since 1974 we have not sought independence. This has no bearing on what is past. Chinese historical records show that in 7th, 8th and 9th centuries Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan empires flourished. Today, I admire the spirit of the European Union whose members place the common interest before national sovereignty. In such a spirit, if we secured the rights granted us under the Chinese constitution, there could be benefit in our remaining with the PRC.”

To counter the possibility of taking wrong decisions under the influence of negative emotions, His Holiness once again commended taking a more holistic view of the situation. The important thing, His Holiness said, is that responsibility for taking decisions is on your own shoulders. You should reach your decision after careful consideration, then stick to it and follow it through.

He explained that destructive emotions arise out of ignorance, specifically mistaking how things appear for reality. Despite their appearing to have independent or intrinsic existence, when we understand that phenomena arise in dependence on other factors, our tendency to give in to negative emotions becomes thinner.

A final questioner asked what His Holiness thought when he was recognised as the Dalai Lama. He reported that his mother told him that on the day the search party from the Tibetan Government reached his house, he had been especially excited. He ran towards them and recognised several of them—presumably the result of some previous memory.

As to the future of the institution of Dalai Lamas, His Holiness has made it clear since 1969 that whether or not there is a 15th Dalai Lama will be up to the Tibetan people to decide.

“My responsibility now is to see that my day to day life is meaningful. I am guided by the following prayer:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

“I am determined to follow that through. An individual can make a differene. As human beings, you all want to live a happy life. If you’ve found anything I said interesting, share it with your friends—that’s how ideas are spread. If what I said was of little interest, please feel free to forget it. Thank you.”

The hall was again filled with sustained and warm applause.

The Director thanked everyone who had contributed to making the event a success. His Holiness then joined invited guests for lunch, following which he returned to his hotel. Tomorrow he will travel to Bengaluru.

Original link & photos https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/the-relevance-of-ancient-indian-knowledge-in-contemporary-india

Friday, August 10, 2018

SIN & THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL-- Not Prevenient Grace

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

I have, as I’m sure you have too, thought and even agonized over why some of my loved ones seem so disinterested in the gospel. No matter what I say or do, they seem so…in bondage. This is a very personal issue for all of us.

In our opening segment we looked at scriptural foundation for the doctrine of sin. We looked at the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and the inspired interpretation in Romans 5. We noted that the original sin of Adam transferred to us both guilt and a radically corrupt nature. We next noted two areas of inability: we are unable to do any good, and we are unable to seek God for salvation. Most importantly, I tried to stress that one’s view of sin has a radical view on how they will understand grace. Do you believe in Grace ALONE? If so, then you may need to do some reassessing to see if your view of sin is consistent with sola gratia or inconsistent, or even contrary to it. We all are inconsistent in some areas but I think we would all want to do all we could to avoid inconsistency in this most vital area. Grace is everything to a Christian. I was raised Roman Catholic and I am disturbed that the common view of initial response to gospel or salvation amongst evangelicals sounds very similar to Rome: cooperating with grace.

Who saves whom? Does God save sinners—is it 100% of grace? Or does God save, with our help—90 % God and 10% us? Is the initial salvation process totally from God, or a mixture of God and us? Sanctification is undoubtedly cooperative effort but we’re speaking of initial stage of saving work.
So, not with a desire to win an argument, but to accent grace, I need to show again how sinful sin is—especially in the area of our inability to believe, without divine intervention-or regeneration. That is, regeneration precedes faith. Have you ever heard that? It marks the difference between two distinct views of how God saves. You will note that this is the reverse of how contemporary evangelical preachers present the salvation process: you first believe in order to be regenerated. But the bible teaches that God must first regenerate us in order for us to believe. If we truly believe man is dead in sin, it HAS to be that way.

Are we merely near-sighted or are we blind? Are we are gravely ill or dead in sin? Are we employees of sin or slaves of it? Are we hard of hearing or stone-cold deaf? Are we seeking God or fleeing Him? To cast ourselves 100% of the mercy and grace of God, to blast away any remains of pride, we must see how dreadfully lost we are outside of Christ.

Let us examine just the gospel of John and see how consistently and persistently he presents such a bleak picture of mans moral inability to seek salvation. I’m going through this step by step so if you have questions they may be answered in future segments. My focus—salvation is from God, grace alone!

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:13-14) Here we clearly see the confluence of human responsibility and divine initiative. WE receive…WE believe…but the causal factor lying behind that receiving and believing was/is the supernatural act of God—the will of God that brought that decision about. It could not be clearer. God’s will supersedes yours. Divine causality of our belief by regeneration preceding faith. Without divine initiative we could not believe.

Btw in 1:9 Arminian theology misuses this verse to support unbiblical notion of prevenient grace. Does Paul say in Romans 3:21 “But now, God has expressed His prevenient grace…? The notion is antithetical to grace, and I shall return to it.

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born againb he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.c 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘Youd must be born again.’ 8 The winde blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Born again/regeneration required before seeing kingdom. Jesus is speaking of the necessity of being born again to even ‘see’ the kingdom, not to mention enter into it..which He does mention in v 5!

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (6:37) Jesus asserts that the Father gives as a gift (see John 10) some people to Jesus, and these people will come to Him…and He will never cast them out. How many of those that Father has given the Son will come to Him savingly? All of them! But who is it that comes to Jesus for salvation? All those the Father has given Him.

s. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. Notice first that this is a universal negative—NO ONE can come to Me. Perhaps we had same English teacher. In class: can I sharpen my pencil? I’m sure you can! May/Can…Can implies ability. So Jesus is talking about inability. But notice there is a conditional clause—unless Father draws him. Same Greek word is used in James 2:6; Acts 16:19 for ‘drag’ Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? doubt it means ‘woo or persuade’
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. Same word for ‘dragged’ is what is used here, and I doubt it means ‘woo or persuade’

Kittlels Theological Dictionary defines this word :”to compel by irresistible authority”

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” Again, we are told by Jesus that nobody CAN come to Him unless that (ability) is granted to him by Father. This was said in adversarial situation and Jesus was explaining, what he said elsewhere you do not believe me bc you are not My sheep.

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slaveb to sin. (8:34) Enslavement to sin due to their nature.

26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. (10:26)

Notice that Jesus does not say that they are not His sheep because they do not believe, but they do not believe BECAUSE they are not His sheep, or elect. Again, He is inferring inability because of their condition.

So, our main point in this segment is that people are by nature unable to come to God and be saved. No amount of persuasion, eloquence or compassionate pleading can awaken a spiritual corpse from the dead.

Picture a corpse lying on the ground. Would any amount of pleading or forcefulness cause the corpse to rise from the dead? That is most accurate analogy to Eph. 2:1—dead in sin. Only God can breathe life into a valley of dry bones.

Or Lazarus. Did he in any way cooperate in his resurrection? Of course not.

The obvious question that arises is: how can God hold someone accountable for something they are unable to do? Or, put another way, if God commands something then does that not imply the ability to be able to do it? And what of man and free will? And most importantly, how does a non-Christian become saved if they are unable to?

I have labored this point of mans utter inability to come to God or believe in Him for one reason: to highlight GRACE. God does the saving—He has to do the saving if man is this lost…this enslaved…this dead. There is no island of righteousness where a person can lean on to extend a hand to reach out for saving life presearver. They are on bottom of pool drowned.

Seems bleak but this should lead one to life of intense prayer, realizing that this is truly impossible from human perspective. Pleading with God and God does use us to bring about

My Arminian brothers and sisters appeal to ‘prevenient grace’ but in this scenario nobody would reply to a general summons.
Arminian view-man cannot be saved apart from God’s grace., but fallen man must cooperate and assent to God’s grace before God will save him. Prior to regeneration, man has the power to accept or reject the grace that could save him.

Augustinian or biblical view—man is totally dependent on the grace of God for his initial response to gospel.
Arguments against prevenient grace.

It is nowhere stated explicitly in bible. John 1:9 does not teach it. THE PURPOSE OF THE VERSE IS TO SAY THAT THE COMING OF THE TRUE LIGHT EXPOSES AND REVEALS WHERE PEOPLE ARE IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.

1. As exceedingly important as this issue is, it should be splashed all over NT. It is not seen anywhere. Proof texts are out of context eisogesis.
2. Romans 3:8ff rejects prevenient grace. Note in 3:21 Paul does not say: “But God in His prevenient grace…” In 1:18 all of mankind is under God’s curse and wrath for rejecting the Father, which prevenient grace says it is extended to ALL people.
3. Why do some respond and others do not? Why do some make use of prevenient grace and others do not?
4. Are they more righteous, smarter, wiser, more humble, more teachable, more….? Any answer would give grounds for boasting.
5. Is not faith a gift from God? Eph. 2:1-10; Phil. 1:29; 2 Peter 1:1 2 Tim 2:24-26; Acts 5:31; 11:18
6. Suspends work of God on will of man
7. Grace becomes ‘penultimate’ cause of salvation…ultimate cause is our reply.

BY R. C. SPROUL

As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that "comes before" something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with assent to this grace are "elect." Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost.

The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man's spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God's grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn't everyone get the same amount?

Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn't God give the same gift to everybody?

Perhaps it wasn't because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others?
To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, "No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him."

That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn't? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent? (or more humble or broken?)

The $64,000 question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others' don't. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is.

The $64,000 question is, "Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?"

We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God's saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it. (Chosen by God).



Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dalai Lama at the Tibetan Children's Village

Tibetan Children’s Village, Choglamsar, Leh

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India - The road from Choglamsar on the Leh-Manali highway up to the Tibetan Children’s Village School is walled on both sides and climbs like a winding alley. This morning, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived, Tibetans young and old, including bands of drummers and flute players, lined both sides of the road to welcome him.

Walking from his car to the covered stage above the school ground, His Holiness paused now and then to bless groups of the elderly, infirm and handicapped, who were waiting to see him. School officials and former Rajya Sabha Member, Thiksey Rinpoche welcomed him to the stage. The entire gathering stood as a student band performed the Tibetan and Indian National Anthems.

Director Chemey Lhundup gave a brief report of recent developments at the school, focussing particularly on the establishment of a unit to care for children with special needs. This has involved making arrangements for specifically dedicated staff and facilities and has been supported by the Dalai Lama Trust.

Students presented a traditional Tibetan dance.

In his extensive report about the Sonamling Tibetan Settlement, Chief Representative Tseten Wangchuk paid tribute to the late Sonam Dawa, councillor for Thiksey village, who died earlier this year. He mentioned that a Geshe has been teaching a popular introduction to Buddhism to widespread benefit. Other developments included medical camps offering advice on how to prevent illness, as well as providing treatment for those in need. The Men-tsee-khang also travels to different parts of Ladakh offering diagnosis and treatment. Nomads living in Chang Tang come under the Settlement’s care as well as residents in Leh.

The report also touched on cleanliness drives in line with the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat campaign, requests for support to the J&K State Government and the drilling of bore-wells to address the scarcity of water supported by Save the Children Fund. Celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Bakula Rinpoche’s birth were held and in July settlement representatives visited the Tibetan Muslim community in Srinagar. The Chief Representative concluded with prayers for His Holiness’s long life and the fulfilment of his wishes.

Following a traditional dance by members of the Sonamling Settlement, TCV requested His Holiness to present gifts on their behalf to Ladakhi leaders among the guests.

“Homage to Avalokiteshvara,” was how His Holiness opened his address. “Today, I’ve come to this settlement, where a large number of schoolchildren are present, and I’m going to speak to you as a Tibetan from the Land of Snows—in Tibetan. The majority of Tibetans in Tibet and in exile place their trust in me, so I’d like to say a few words to them.

“Tibet is often called the Roof of the World. A Chinese archaeologist told me that ancient remains he had seen suggest that human settlement in Tibet is 35,000 years old, which is quite early by any standards. At one time the country may have been known as Shang-Shung. Then in the 7th century King Songtsen Gampo married a Chinese and a Nepalese princess and through them made a connection with Buddhism. He instigated the creation of written Tibetan, involving an alphabetical script based on the Indian Devanagari and grammar.

“In the 8th century, when King Trisong Detsen wanted to establish Buddhism in Tibet, he invited Shantarakshita. This great scholar from Nalanda introduced a monastic mode of learning. He set up the first monastery at Samye, which included a section for celibate monks, and ordained the first seven Tibetans to see if they could keep the vows.

“Under his direction work began on translating largely Sanskrit Buddhist literature into Tibetan, with the result that today we have the 100 volume collection of the Kangyur—the translated words of the Buddha, and the 225 volumes of the Tengyur—the treatises of subsequent Indian masters. He introduced the approach we still follow today of memorizing the root text, studying commentaries to it and exercising what we’ve learned in debate. This takes the form of refuting others’ points of view, asserting our own and rebutting criticism.

“Shantarakshita was a consummate scholar, a great philosopher and logician, as his writings attest. Thanks to his guidance, the Tibetan language was deeply enriched during the process of translation. Subsequently, through their study and practice Tibetans have ensured the preservation of Buddhism. The commentaries Tibetan masters have written are estimated to number more than 40,000.

“Our Tibetan ancestors fulfilled the wishes of the great trio, Adept Padmasambhava, Abbot Shantarakshita and King Trisong Detsen and spread Buddhism across Tibet. And we who have come after them have kept the tradition alive.

“To prove the truth of the Buddha’s teaching, relying solely on scriptural citation is unsound because of inconsistencies in these various presentations. Later logicians categorised the scriptures into those that can be relied on as definitive and those that are provisional. Logic and reason were the key and the students who were debating here at the start are taking part in that tradition.

“The style with which we Tibetans debate may differ in some respects from the way arguments were conducted in Nalanda. In the 12th century, Sakya Pandita composed a thorough treatise on logic on the basis of which Chapa Chökyi Sengey laid out the rules and style of debate we use today. One consequence is that languages like Hindi, English and Chinese don’t come close to the accuracy with which Buddhist ideas and logical arguments can be expressed in Tibetan. Six million Tibetans are but a drop in the ocean of 7 billion human beings alive today, and yet it is in our language that Buddhism can be most accurately explained and understood.”

His Holiness observed that it is largely the training in logic and reasoned argument that has equipped Tibetan scholars to interact with modern scientists. They have learned more about the material world and the scientists have learned about the mind—in other words the conversation has been of mutual benefit. Study of science has since become a set part of the great monasteries curriculum. This innovation means the monasteries now more closely emulate the situation in Nalanda depicted in Bhavaviveka’s ‘Blaze of Reasoning’ that describes a broad range of contrasting views vying for attention.

“We have faced a lot of difficulties,” His Holiness continued, “yet the Tibetan spirit remains strong. We are not opposed to the Chinese people as such, but narrow-minded, hard-line members of the Chinese Communist Party have given us a hard time. As long as Tibetans seek to preserve their unique characteristics these hard-liners misinterpret it as a wish to separate from China. In the course of our struggle thousands of monasteries and temples were destroyed. Monks were subject to brutal treatment too.

“The teacher of Jamyang Sheypa, who I met on my way to China in 1954, was seized after 1959 and sentenced to be executed. Before the execution was carried out, he asked for a moment to pray and uttered the following verse:

“With the blessing of my holy lamas
I wish that the sufferings of sentient beings
May ripen on me
And all my virtue and happiness may be given to them.

“Similarly, another monk I knew was caught up in the Chinese prison system for 18 years before he was able to come to India. When I talked to him about his experiences, he told me that he had faced danger many times. Thinking he meant a danger to his life, I asked him to tell me about it. He replied that he had several times been in danger of losing compassion for his Chinese persecutors.

“We have fully assimilated Buddhism since it came to Tibet in the 8th century. The Chinese Communists have taken all kinds of steps to brain-wash Tibetans, seeking to obliterate our culture and identity, but in vain because our determination has been unflinching. Today, many people pay attention to Tibetan Buddhism, among them the 400 million Buddhists in China

“Historical documents tell us that in 7th, 8th and 9th centuries three empires flourished—China, Mongolia and Tibet. There is no mention in those Chinese documents of Tibet being part of China.

“Pandit Nehru told me that the USA would not go to war with China over Tibet and that sooner or later we would have to talk to the Chinese. We appealed to the UN without much success and in 1974 decided not to seek independence, but to be prepared to enter into dialogue. Our Middle Way Approach is supported by a majority of Tibetans in Tibet and in exile. And I believe that if the Chinese people understand that Tibetans are not pursuing independence they will have less reason to oppose us. China has changed so much over the last 40 years, I believe we can look forward to further positive change.”

His Holiness remarked that Tibetans in Ladakh have done what they can to keep their knowledge and culture alive. Elsewhere in the world, he said, Tibetans are valued for their manners and integrity. He touched on his retirement in 2011 and his devolving of political responsibility to an elected leadership. He mentioned that where some travellers used to refer to Tibetan Buddhism as Lamaism, there is now a universal recognition that it in fact represents the Indian Nalanda Tradition.

His Holiness concluded with a story of Mao Zedong asking him in 1954 if Tibet had a flag. On hearing they did, he told His Holiness it was important to preserve it and fly it alongside the Red Flag. Therefore, when Chinese embassy staff complain about the flying of Tibetan flags in different places, he encourages supporters to say that Mao Zedong personally gave the Dalai Lama permission to fly it.

In uttering the words of thanks, Dhondup Tsering told His Holiness that his kindness cannot be repaid, but, on behalf of Tibetans in the settlements and in the nomad areas, he prayed that His Holiness live long and that his wishes be fulfilled.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/tibetan-childrens-village-choglamsar-leh

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Satan and Demons

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Satanas, or Hebrew for Satan means Adversary or opponent, and it carried over into the Greek as diabolos—or devil, which means slanderer. The bible has at least 22 different names for Satan, our enemy. How did they come about?

Who are they, where did they come from, and what do they do? I should not have to say this but I do: the bible alone is our all-sufficient and only inspired source of information regarding these beings. Specifically, to use the book of 1 Enoch to ‘fill in the gaps’ of our knowledge does two awful things at once: it implies that the Word of God is insufficient (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17), and using details from this non-canonical book in this manner is adding to the bible, which is explicitly forbidden, condemned by the Holy One who wrote His Word, and a curse is levelled at those who do (Rev. 22:18-19). It is one thing to use a book to help understand the historical setting, but it is quite another thing to use it as ‘template’ through which the bible is read and interpreted, which is being done in increasing frequency. Details regarding Satan and demons from 1 Enoch are being added to the biblical narrative and that is unspeakably prideful. It must stop now. If bible is silent, then we are to be humble and accept that-Deut. 29:29 29“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

How did the notion of a red dressed character, with a pitchfork, who looks like he just left a Halloween party, become an image of Satan? In Medieval Christianity, they believed that Satan’s main sin was pride, and the image was intentionally meant to mock him as a means of defense. They knew he did not really look like that. They thought it would wound his pride…and insult and repel him… he’d slink away. Unfortunately, the next generation kept the imagery but not the explanation.

Satan and his demons are fallen angels. There are elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21, just as elect humans) and non-elect angels. They were/are all angels, of varying kinds and ranks, and they rebelled—but all angels. Now, there are two and only two kinds of supernatural beings—good and bad angels, with many biblical nicknames, so to speak. Satan and demons are pure evil—utterly depraved.

In Genesis 1:31 God declares His benediction upon on the whole of His creation, and we can assume that would include the spirit realm. So, sometime between 1:31 and 3:1 there was a spiritual rebellion in angelic realm. One possibility is that Lucifer was assigned to guard Adam and Eve, hated the newly revealed plan in which he would be subordinate to them, and his fall was essentially simultaneous with human Fall..or slightly before.

3 When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:.’
12 “Howyou are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;c
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.

The prophets often spoke of more than they knew, and I have a hard time seeing how this can only properly apply to human king. Plus, we know that Satan is the ‘god of this world’ so he is the ultimate wicked force behind this human wicked nation (under God sovereignty). But beneath all this is pride. Perhaps in Ezek 28 we have more hints, I don’t know—but we see a guardian cherub in garden. That would place Satan near garden and that he was designed as a warrior.

How Satan, who was sinless and had no external temptation could have sinned is a mystery, but he did.

I think the classic teaching that they fell with him is truth—help explain all the false religion soon after Fall.. I know Heiser and other appeal to Gen. 6:1-4 as fall of angels. However, Dr Wayne Grudem, spent several days studying the ancient Jewish literature on this sin (Midrash, Talmud, Josephus, Philo and apocrypha. Found 18 places where this sin discussed: 9 thought they were humans and 9 thought they were angels. Reading Heiser one gets the impression that it was uniform interpretation amongst second Temple Jews—not true.

I have studied this text and the context is contrast of seed of serpent and seed of woman, leading up to flood, with 4 verses devoted to this episode, with no commentary by Moses. Plus, it says they married and bible says angels do not marry. And this I know: women are being sexually assaulted by demons but they are not getting pregnant. Perhaps it is due to cross species—human with angel….like pig mating with gorilla—not offspring.

What do they do? Destroy and lie. John 8:44/Cain; ‘did God say/”

Demonic influence leads to self-destruction. Any addictive behavior can lead to this. And he hates the truth—exposing his lies, including this.
Satan in OT--6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satanb also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.

1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel (2 Chron. 21:1)
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons; but no mention of exorcisms
NT. Jesus speaks a word and they leave-people marvel. Sign kingdom had arrived.
I have done a study of demons and they are not the spirits of dead Nephillim-that is based on unbiblical source. The bible sees Satan as ‘the prince of demons’, which suggests an identity of nature, but difference in rank. We see this in Matt.9:34 4But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”. Most natural rendering is he is the prince of similar beings. ..not lowly spirits of dead hybrid giants.

“It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25Knowing their thoughts, he said to them (Matt. 12:24)

We see in Matt 25 that devils angels are synonymous with what had been called demons and unclean spirits before are eternally sentenced to hell.

Just as God is Lord of Hosts, Satan copies and is lord of his infernal army. Demons, unclean spirits, devils angels, elemental spirits, principalities and powers, cosmic powers,ect are all synonyms for fallen angles subordinate to Satan, as general.

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon..

What do they do? (kill and lie) Gen, 3:1ff ‘did God say..?” Why would brother kill his own brother?
1. Destroy/kill—John 8:44 murderer…occult activities (Hitler diary..today I made covenant with Satan) have you ever seen self-destructive tendencies of people under demonic influence?
2. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3)
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
With the rise of occult and fascination with paranormal doors are being opened left and right and our culture is becoming demonized.
3. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)—he can be smooth, suave, plausible sounding.
They can appear as anything—they know which buttons to push to attract us
I have encountered directly demons on dozens of occasions. I have had them communicate with me via text and phone calls.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothersb has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Hindering truth or effective gospel witness. (temptation, fear, pride, doubt, envy, confusion)
Demons/Satan cannot read minds—but keen observers and transmit information (psychic detectives). They can be in one place at a time.

. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Today—12—70—whole church. We live in time of Acts. dwell in us”? 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (Eph 6)
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Balance: we fight against the world, the flesh (indwelling sin) and demons. In book of Acts and epistles the usual approach was to deal with sin and obedience. In Corinth with all its problems, he never said to cast out demon of pride, envy, incest, litigation.

26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (Eph. 4:26-27) Habitual sin can lead to giving devil a foothold.

Can a Christian be possessed? No! But we can so open ourselves through persistent serious sin that we can be so oppressed it almost looks like possession.

Should Christians speak directly to demon or pray to God? Command demon directly…that is NT pattern.

Should we be concerned with generational sins? If there is a long history of addiction, pray that God would break futile ways of life by precious blood of lamb and command any spirits to leave.

18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Folks who are dealing with oppression are often very open to gospel. Jesus has won the victory Col 2:15


Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dalai Lama & the Practice of Patience

Teachings at Shewatsel

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India - The sun was already bright and warm when His Holiness the Dalai Lama left his residence at the Shewatsel Phodrang to walk to the teaching pavilion on the adjacent teaching ground. Thiksey Rinpoche and LBA President Tsewang Thinles walked with him. All along the way members of the public pressed against the fence in hope of getting closer to His Holiness. Here and there he stopped to pat a child’s cheek or place his hand on the head of an older man or woman.

In his efforts to be as inclusive as possible His Holiness walked to the furthest corners of the front of the stage to wave to people nearby as well as those in distant parts of the crowd of an estimated 20,000. Meanwhile, nuns from the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies engaged in a dynamic debate in front of the stage. They were followed by students from Ladakh Public School.

After taking his seat on the throne, His Holiness remarked that he was tickled to see that the debating school students included an enthusiastic Sikh boy. He noted how important debate can be in sharpening understanding of the topic under study and thanked the schoolchildren for their contribution. Introductory prayers included the ‘Three Continuums’, which praises the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and the ‘Heart Sutra’.

“Last year we read up to the end of Chapter 6 of the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’,” His Holiness explained, “so we’ll go on from there. Shantideva is reported to have composed this text in the 8th century. It draws on the teachings of the extensive path lineage which Maitreya passed to Asanga and the profound view lineage that comes from Nagarjuna, sometimes referred to as the second Buddha. This teaching can be referred to as representing the great conduct lineage.

“Maitreya’s ‘Ornament for Clear Realization’ explains the implicit content of the perfection of wisdom teachings; Nagarjuna clarifies the explicit content, which is the theory of emptiness. Maitreya’s ‘Sublime Continuum’ explains Buddha nature, while his five treatises as a whole outline the bodhisattva path.”

Alluding to the various schools of Buddhist philosophy, His Holiness observed that the Vaibhashikas (Particularists) and Sautrantikas (Sutra Followers) teach the selflessness of persons, whereas the Chittamatrins (Mind Only School) and Madhyamakas (Middle Way School) teach the selflessness of phenomena as well. While asserting the true existence of consciousness, Chittamatrins deny the external existence of things, which they say are the result of imprints on our minds. His Holiness added that there are quantum physicists who suggest that the conviction that nothing exists objectively tempers emotional response such as attachment.

The Madhyamaka School is primarily divided into the Svatantrika (Autonomist) and the Prasangika (Consequentialist) Schools, although there is a branch of the former which incorporates Yogachara (Practitioners of Yogic Conduct) ideas. Where the Svatantrikas allow some kind of objective existence, the Prasangikas refute any objective or independent existence of things or experiences.

Turning back to the ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, His Holiness told the crowd, “I received transmission and explanation of this work from Khunu Lama Rinpoche, Tenzin Gyaltsen. He was a dedicated practitioner of what it has to say. At one time, as he cultivated practice of the awakening mind of bodhichitta, he would compose an appreciative verse every day. These verses were eventually compiled as the ‘Jewel Lamp’ and it was transmission of this that I sought first. I received the ‘Guide’ afterwards. Because he felt the practice of the awakening mind is so helpful, Khunu Lama Rinpoche asked me to teach it as much as I could.

“‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ can be summarized into three parts—conduct by which you enter into the practice; the actual practice and accomplishment of the practice. It deals with the path leading to enlightenment rooted in the development of wisdom, on the basis of which you cultivate the conduct of a bodhisattva.”

His Holiness reviewed the titles and contents of the chapters of the book in relation to practice of the six perfections. He observed that there is no chapter dedicated to generosity, but the fact that the whole work deals with giving body, resources and virtues makes up for it.

“Of the ten chapters, the most important are Chapter 6 dealing with patience and Chapter 8 entitled meditation,” His Holiness continued. “If we are to cherish others more than ourselves, we need to overcome anger, and patience is the anti-dote to it. Chapter 8 shows that cherishing self alone leads to our ruin. What it primarily teaches is the practice of equalizing and exchanging self with others.”

After reading the first lines of Chapter 7, ‘Having patience I should develop enthusiasm, for awakening will dwell only in those who exert themselves,’ His Holiness mentioned that progress on the path doesn’t depend only on bodhichitta, wisdom is necessary too. The moment you have a genuine experience of bodhichitta, you enter the bodhisattva path, but you still need to train further. After the path of accumulation, the path of preparation involves the combination of a calmly abiding mind and insight focussing on emptiness. You progress to the path of seeing, where you realize emptiness directly and eliminate mental afflictions.

After developing the path of seeing and achieving cessation, you enter into the path of meditation and progress from the second bodhisattva ground to the tenth. Finally, you develop the path of no more learning that is the antidote to the residual stains left by mental afflictions. When all these defilements, including the imprints of negative emotions are cleared, you attain Buddhahood. This five tiered path is reflected in the mantra from the ‘Heart Sutra’.

When the Buddha says, “Tadyata gateh gateh paragateh parasamgateh bodhi svaha” (“It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment”), he is telling his followers to proceed through the five paths:

gateh—the path of accumulation;
gateh—the path of preparation;
paragateh—the path of seeing;
parasamgateh—the path of meditation;
bodhi svaha—the path of no more learning.

“To follow the path requires enthusiasm and effort, but you need to understand the advantages of these qualities. Their opponents are, for example, laziness and low self-esteem. Until you understand that laziness is an obstacle, you won’t be motivated to overcome it.

“Reflecting on impermanence is helpful, as the early verses of Chapter 7 indicate. We are healthy and happy here now, but whether we will all meet again tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Should death come, fame and wealth, friends and family will be of no help. Our only support will be the positive imprints of the virtuous actions we’ve done.

“Today, there are 7 billion human beings in the world and most of them think only of material gain. Very few think about the inner world of the mind. Many of us who look to the Buddha for inspiration neglect to consider that whether we make progress in the path depends on whether we make the effort. We also tend to think of our opponents as outside us, whereas the real enemy is within. The second kind of laziness is attraction to wrong-doing, while the third is low self-esteem, defeatism, thinking, ‘I can’t really do it’. Coming to understand the equality of self and others generates enthusiasm for the path.

“So, having mounted the horse of the awakening mind
That dispels all discouragement and weariness,
Who, when they know of this mind that proceeds from joy to joy,
Would ever lapse into despondency?”

As he read on, His Holiness pointed out that verses 43 & 44 indicate the results of virtue and wrong-doing. He explained that the mention of Vajradhvaja relates to a chapter in the ‘Array of Stalks’ or Avatamsaka Sutra. Shantideva’s advice to dispel despondency is to recall the advice in the chapter on conscientiousness and then joyfully rise to the task.

Having completed his reading of Chapter 7, His Holiness went straight on to Chapter 8, which begins by discussing how to develop concentration and how to surmount what obstructs it. He read briskly up to verse 89 & 90 which is where instruction on developing the awakening mind of bodhichitta and meditating on the equality between self and others begins.

I should protect all beings as I do myself
Because we are all equal in (wanting) pleasure and (not wanting) pain.

The discussion of the advantages of developing and putting compassion into practice and the disadvantages of not doing so culminate at verse 104 with the question----‘But since this compassion will bring me much misery, why should I exert myself to develop it?’—The retort is, ‘Should you contemplate the suffering of living creatures, how could the misery of compassion be more?’

Highlighting the advice that if you’re selfish, you’ll never be happy, His Holiness noted the powerful impact of verse 130.

If I do not actually exchange my happiness
For the, sufferings of others,
I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
And even in cyclic existence shall have no joy.

Verse 140 begins an exercise in exchanging self and others involving reflection on envy, competitiveness and self importance. You are jealous of someone higher than you thinking---he’s honoured, but I am not. You are competitive and wish to excel someone who is your equal and look forward to humiliating someone inferior to you. From verse 155 the faults of self-cherishing are explained.

“The practice of exchanging self and others brings home to us the disadvantages of cherishing yourself instead of others. If you cherish others more than yourself in this life and the next, great benefits will accrue.”

His Holiness looked at his watch and announced, “It’s time for lunch. See you tomorrow.” Waving to the crowd as he left, he drove back to the Phodrang.

original link & photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2018/teachings-at-shewatsel

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Introduction to Systematic Theology: Why Knowing God & Solid Biblical Content is Especially Important in a Pagan Culture

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Theology is applying the whole of the bible to the whole of life. For example, when we study God’s omnipotence, we will ask what does the entire bible say about it, and try to apply it.

My name is Mark Hunnemann and in 1973 I became a Christian, and it was quite a change. I immediately was introduced to JI Packer, John Stott, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, RC Sproul and other wonderful writers who had profound influence upon me…their theology and love for the Lord. Kept me from slipping back into old lifestyle.

I went to seminary and was a pastor for many years and had the honor of preaching the whole counsel of God. I am sitting because this is not church, and I am teaching—not preaching.. I invite you to fact check everything I say. I’ve written a book entitled Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes and working on a second one. I have been deeply involved in helping folks who are struggling with demonic oppression—passion of mine.

 We live a pagan culture in which mind-less experience is the key to spiritualty, but it leads to delusion and oppression. We and our children need as much biblical content as possible, and the most loving thing you can do as a parent and grandparent is to grow in your knowledge and love of God.
In a sense, every Christian is a theologian—for better or for worse—and the ‘for worse’  aspect is no small matter. The epistles and Jesus warn us that heresies are destructive attacks by wolves against God’s sheep; and wolves are not very kind to sheep. Therein lies my passion for this series. Gallop recently did a poll and it left me speechless—the amount of biblical theological ignorance amongst professing Christians is astonishingly high. Breaks my heart. And my passion is to take profound truth and make it understandable and catch on fire! So, I invite you on a journey of discovery together—to delve deeply into the meat of God’s Word. I believe there are many Christians hungering for solid meat and I want to do my humble part to help in that regard.

The bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The ideas that don’t just flit around our brains momentarily, but the ones that penetrate the heart, are the ideas that shape our lives. And ideas have legs. We are what we think. Sound theology is required for a godly life because we have to first know the truth before we can do the truth. So, no Christian can avoid theology. Some may strenuously deny it, but every Christian has a theology.  The issue is do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine? You may be surprised to hear this but every wrong belief I embrace is sin due to not loving God with all of my mind.

Before giving a more concrete basis for studying theology let me address several common misconceptions or concerns—with brief replies.

1. First, does not Jesus teaching about embracing the Kingdom with child-like faith (Mark 10:15) imply a simple faith? Yes, but there is world of difference between child-like faith and child-ish faith. The latter is obstinate and refuses to bow before authority and settles for a diet of spiritual milk. The implicit trust of a child is something we never grow out of but we are to grow to into maturity—solid meat. 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

2. Many Christians have developed an aversion to theology because of their distrust of theologians. I understand…and have experience first hand of the devastating effects of higher-critical methods of ‘scholarship’ which is just a mask for unbelief and often shoddy scholarship. Most seriously, they have vandalized God’s holy Word, and caused serious damage to people. Academia is filled with wolves who are unregenerate pagans who are intellectually arrogant. But please remember that we must not throw out the baby with the bath water; to reject theology is to commit spiritual suicide.

3. The false pietism of our day denigrates the mind. But the pattern in scripture is deep doctrine and then application. EG But we are told in Romans 12:1-2 to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. some emphasize a direct experience with the Holy Spirit, which bypasses the mind,

4. Theology breeds arguments and controversy. Yes, it does because truth implies error, and error must be confronted or we accommodate it by our silence. What kind of world do you want our grandkids to live in? Jesus’s life was a storm cloud of controversy, as was Paul's because truth matters. It is godless controversy we are to avoid, not godly controversy, which is needed. To avoid controversy is to avoid Christ. We are not to argue about non-important issues, and the THE mark of a Christian is love.

5. We have unconsciously been influenced by the relativization and subjectivism of the truth. The concept of truth has changed and this has belittled the importance of the content of truth and the intellect. One of the glories of our faith is that it is a system of coherent, rational truth. It is much more than a system of truth, but not less. We should rejoice in this in light of the content-less spirituality of pagan, New Age. One hand clapping may sound profound but it means nothing rational.  I recently did a video on the  “Cosmic Christ” and I chose this title carefully because I wanted to catch the attention of New Agers and I wanted to accent the cosmic dimension of the atonement-Christus victor. But it was mainly to show the CONTENT of the true Christ vs the myth of the pagan conception of Christ. I next want to do one entitled the Cosmic Christ and His alien, extra-terrestrial righteousness! Hehe  Actually, I am not kidding because the term ‘alien righteousness’ is a theological term for the righteousness of Christ which is extra-terrestrial—outside the earth, and reserved in heaven. See if I can work ET in the title too! His righteousness is imputed to us in justification.

Suppose someone says: why theology? All I need is to love to Jesus. First, which Jesus? (New Age, Jehovas Witness, etc.) Who is He and what did He do? What happened on the cross?  Second, ‘love’ can be defined and expressed in a thousand different ways. And Jesus Himself said: “teaching them ALL that I commanded you.”

Positive role of theology: just as we get to know a person better as we know more about them, so our knowledge of and love for God should grow as we study about His Person and work---in creation and redemption. For our soul to be inflamed with a passion for God then it first has to pass through our minds.  (CS Lewis quote)

I am at a point in life at age 62 where I wish to record the truths of God’s Word. Knowledge without devotion is cold, dead orthodoxy. But devotion without knowledge is irrational instability; one is left vulnerable to being undiscerning to the wiles of the devil…and I see people falling left and right. How can people believe in earthbound spirits? Recently a friend went back to being a witch. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsc and teachers,d 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Avoid syncretism which is blending of non-Christian thought with bible. Solid theology helps avoid that..become discerning. Like eg of bank teller and counterfeit.

Growing in the knowledge of God is a great joy and honor. It is a delight to the soul. Takes effort and discipline, but this is a matter of life and death—even eternal life and death. And this series is designed, by God’s grace, to enable us to love Him more and be more effective in your witness to a lost and broken world. Dig in!



Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dalai Lama Gives Introductory Talk on Buddhism

Dharamsala, HP, India, 27 May 2015 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was given a traditional Tibetan welcome when he arrived at the Upper Tibetan Children’s Village School this morning. A large group of female students sang a traditional welcoming song. As His Holiness walked from his car to the stage he greeted people in the crowd who caught his eye. Approximately 4500 students from Upper and Lower TCV Schools, Gopalpur, Suja and Chauntra TCVs, Sherab Gatsel Lobling, students at various universities and others currently attending a Teacher Training organized by the Education Department of the CTA, were seated under an awning on the Upper TCV basketball court.

Once His Holiness had taken his seat, several groups of lay-people performed exemplary debates directly in front of the stage discussing the three kinds of knowledge, the two methods for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, definitions of the Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths and so forth.

“Today, people from a variety of places have gathered here to listen to an introduction to Buddhism,” His Holiness began. “This is the ninth occasion that we’ve done this and it looks like this might be the biggest yet. Students and teachers from different schools, my greetings to you all - Tashi delek. I’d especially like to greet those who have just debated in front of us and congratulate them for taking an interest in logic and philosophy.

“In Tibet in the past almost no one from the lay community or even from among the nuns engaged in debate. This was one of our shortcomings. In the 56 years we’ve been in exile, I’ve urged people, even those belonging to monasteries and nunneries that had no tradition of study to take it up. Phende Lekshe Ling, Namgyal Monastery, is an example. When it was established by the 7th Dalai Lama he asked the monks of Zhalu Monastery to give the monks of the new monastery training in performing rituals. Like those at Gyumey and Gyutö Tantric Colleges, they were adept, but followed no course of study. That has changed. Similarly, study in the nunneries has succeeded to the point that we will shortly have nuns who have become Geshes or Geshemas.”

He said that the excellent Nalanda tradition had spread across the length and breadth of Tibet and yet the majority of the people did not properly appreciate it. It is a tradition that relies on investigation and analysis, not just scriptural quotation. He cited the Buddha’s advice to his followers not to accept what he taught at face value, but to test it the way a goldsmith satisfies himself of the value of gold.

His Holiness remarked that the psychology and philosophy explained in the Nalanda tradition are of great interest to contemporary scholars and scientists. They are sufficiently impressed to enquire whether its dialectical approach can be applied to other academic disciplines. He feels it can. He mentioned that while Buddhist traditions identify 49 or 51 emotions, the American psychologist Paul Ekman has done extensive research into facial expressions that enable him to identify 15.

When, 40 years ago, His Holiness was thinking of opening a conversation with modern scientists, a Western Buddhist friend cautioned him to be careful saying that science is the killer of religion. He considered this carefully and concluded that, as a tradition based on reason, Buddhism was not vulnerable to this threat. He went ahead and is confident that the results have been mutually beneficial. One result is that monks in the great monasteries re-established in South India now study science as part of their curriculum.

“When I reached Mussoorie in April 1959, most of you were not born. Now I’m in my 81st year and I will definitely not live for another 80 years, but judging by my present physical health I might live another 10 or 20 years. You Tibetans who are young today will have to shoulder the responsibility of preserving our religion and culture. Our brothers and sisters in Tibet are not free to do so. We who have such freedom should exercise it.

“Conditions in Tibet in the past were ripe for change,” His Holiness said. “In retrospect I can see that many things could have been done differently. The 13th Dalai Lama tried to strengthen links between different parts of Tibet because the country was politically fragmented. But what bound all Tibetans together was their Buddhist culture, their respect for and study of the Kangyur and Tengyur. This was also true of the Himalayan and Mongolian regions too.”

His Holiness pointed out that every one of the 7 billion human beings alive today wants to be happy. He clarified that the Bodhisattva ideal is not about abandoning our own happiness, but about giving priority to the happiness of others.

“However,” he asked, “how can you help others if you can’t help yourself? We pray that all beings be free from suffering, but for the prayer to be fulfilled we need to do something about it.”

Recalling his recent discussions with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who also visited TCV, he said that their conclusion was that we need to find happiness without violence, which is something everyone can try to do. He said that it’s clear that if humanity is happy, each of us as individuals will be happy too. He repeated that as human beings we are all responsible for each other; we all have the potential to be kind and affectionate. He also spoke about his commitment as a Buddhist monk to promoting harmony among the world’s religious traditions.

Finally, His Holiness spoke of his commitment to preserving the natural environment of Tibet, something of importance not only to Tibetans but also to maybe 1 billion other people in Asia who depend on the waters of rivers that rise in Tibet.

He also voiced his concern to preserve Tibetan culture, a culture of peace and non-violence, which can make a positive contribution in the wider world. He told the story of a former Tibetan official who had emigrated to the USA and was working cleaning vegetables in a university kitchen. His colleagues noticed that he was carefully rescuing worms and bugs he found on the vegetables, setting them aside and taking them outside to release them at the end of his shift. They asked what he was doing and he told them that Tibetans try not to kill small creatures, but to protect life wherever they can. Shortly afterwards he noticed that several of them were following his example. His Holiness concluded:

“I’ve done what I can to preserve Tibet’s ecology and its compassionate, non-violent culture. Now I’m passing this responsibility to you.”

He announced that he will give a further introduction to Buddhism tomorrow. He will also lead a ceremony for generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta and make time to answer students’ questions. The day after that, he will give an Avalokiteshvara empowerment.