Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dalai Lama on Ethics

Ground-breaking Ceremony for the South Asia Hub of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and a Public Talk

Hyderabad, Telangana, India, 12 February 2017 - A swift drive across Hyderabad this morning brought His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the site on Hitex Road, Madhapur, where the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics is to build its South Asia Hub. This will be a cooperative venture supported by the MIT based think tank and the Telangana State Government.

His Holiness and HE ESL Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana, unveiled the foundation stone together and then took part in a symbolic planting of saplings, which will grow on the campus.  They were joined in these observances by Deputy Chief Minister, Mohammad Mahmood Ali and Minister of Industries, MA&UD and IT Kalvankutla Taraka Rama Rao. The Governor remarked that peace is commonly invoked in Hindu ceremonies. His Holiness agreed and suggested that prayer also needs to be augmented by action such as training the mind.

At the Hitex Open Arena nearby Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi, founder of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values greeted an audience of more than 1000 in the marquee and another 15000 online. He requested the Deputy Chief Minister, Mohammad Mahmood Ali to formally welcome His Holiness and then invited KT Rama Rao to introduce him. His Holiness began his address in his customary way.

“I always begin by greeting an audience as brothers and sisters, because I consider myself to be just one among the 7 billion human beings who I view as brothers and sisters. The way we are born and the way we die is the same whether we are kings, queens, spiritual leaders or beggars. This is why having a sense of the oneness of humanity is important. Wherever I go and whoever I talk to I try to promote this idea in an effort to break down barriers between us. Whenever I can I smile which mostly prompts others to smile in return, making us both happy.

“Although we are physically, mentally and emotionally the same, there are differences between us. I’m Tibetan, I’m Buddhist and I’m the Dalai Lama, but if I emphasize these differences it sets me apart and raises barriers with other people. What we need to do is to pay more attention to the ways in which we are the same as other people.

“Most of the problems we face we create ourselves by stressing secondary differences of nationality, religious faith and so forth. How sad it is that today religion is becoming a cause of conflict and violence. When people are being killed in other parts of the world, we can’t remain complacent, we have to think of how to ensure the well-being of these suffering people.

“Differences of nationality and ideology that were important in the early 20th century seem less powerful today. In Europe, having fought and killed each other for generations, after the Second World War the European Union was created. My physics tutor von Weizsäcker told me that in his youth in every French and German eye the other was an enemy. But, by the 1990s, he said that had all changed. Recognising that nothing good comes from the destruction of war, people had realized that it’s better to live together. It is this spirit of the European Union that I admire and that we need to see adopted in other parts of the world—in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

“In the long run I look forward to a global union and a demilitarized world. As long as human beings are involved there will be some problems, but we need to learn to deal with them through dialogue without resort to the use of force. This will entail developing moral principles because it won’t be achieved on the basis of mistrust and jealousy.”

His Holiness observed that ahimsa is a longstanding Indian tradition that is also not based on fear, but on confidence and compassion. An example is the way religious harmony flourishes here. Indigenous faiths like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism thrive, but the flourishing alongside them of religions from elsewhere indicates real tolerance and mutual respect. Zoroastrianism came from Persia. There are barely 100,000 Parsis in their community in Bombay and yet they live without fear—this is India, he said. Likewise, Jews came and created a community in Cochin. Christians and Muslims came too. Now, Indian Muslims form the second largest Muslim population in the world, larger even than in Pakistan. His Holiness remarked that of course occasional problems crop up, but otherwise India is the only country in the world where all major religions live together in mutual respect.

Comparing the ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and the Indus Valley, His Holiness suggested that the Indus Valley ultimately gave rise to the greatest number of thinkers and varied schools of thought, including Buddhism. Ancient Indian psychology with its profound understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions has much to teach us today.

“More than 30 years ago I entered into discussions with modern scientists that have allowed Buddhists and contemplatives to learn more about the physical world, but also for the scientists to learn about the mind and emotions. Ahimsa—non-violence motivated by karuna—compassion is a way of dealing with destructive emotions. For more than 1000 years we Tibetans have kept these traditions that flourished at Nalanda alive. Modern Indians today have a special opportunity to combine modern education with the values and insights of this ancient Indian heritage. Many young people are already doing so. This Center for Ethics with its various programs and activities is making a contribution in this direction. I appreciate my friend here and the State Government for supporting it.

“The Center is named after the Dalai Lama, but I am just one student of the Nalanda Tradition, a student of Nagarjuna. Nevertheless, when I visit other countries I often tell people I meet that I’m a messenger of ancient Indian knowledge—a son of India. I justify this because my mind is filled with Nalanda thought, while my body has been nourished for 58 years by Indian rice, dal and chapatis.”

Answering the audience’s questions, His Holiness explained that since the majority of the world’s population continue to live in poverty we need to pursue material development. However, this pursuit needs to be coupled with inner or mental development. He reported that not only have scientists established that basic human nature is compassionate, but they have found that constant anger and fear undermines our immune system, while cultivating a compassionate mind strengthens it. He declared that when a significant number of people have no interest in religion, attempts to promote universal values have to take a secular approach.

A questioner who noted the role of education in fostering inner values asked about the role of parents. His Holiness told him that science has shown the positive effects of simple physical contact between mother and child, but what is additionally important is that parents shower their children with affection.

When asked how to prepare for death, His Holiness replied that to some extent it depends on what you believe. He said that if you believe in a loving God, thinking of him, his love and compassion can be helpful as you die. For a Buddhist it would be useful to keep the Buddha’s main message of compassion and things’ lack of independent existence in mind. He added that there are also ways of visualizing the process of death with its eight stages of dissolution in order to prepare for it when it takes place, ending finally with the mind of clear light.

“The best preparation for death,” His Holiness continued, “depends on the way you live, avoiding doing others harm and helping them wherever you can. If you do that you’ll be able to die without any sense of regret. So a peaceful death depends very much on how you’ve lived your life.”

Another young woman wanted to know which is the more effective way to train the mind, cultivating concentration or analytical meditation. His Holiness was forthright in his praise of analysis. He reported the way he does it himself. He analyses his body, mind and feelings. He thinks about impermanence and momentary change. He considers how past, present and future constantly shift. Past and future only exist in relation to the present, but the present is apparently impossible to tie down. He mentioned that he reflects on his body and that it consists of parts—head, hands, feet and trunk and asks himself whether any of the parts by themselves are his the body.

Finally, the moderator asked His Holiness to tell him how he manages to look so young. His Holiness retorted, “That’s my secret,” but then explained how he consistently sleeps for nine hours a night. When wakes up he engages in 4 hours of meditation which contributes to his inner peace. Sleep and meditation, he suggested, contribute to inner peace and inner strength. “If you choose, you too can do it.”

Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi wound up the session with a vote of thanks. First of all he thanked His Holiness for coming and then thanked the many people who had made this inaugural session a success: members of his team and the Government of Telangana in particular.

His Holiness attended a sumptuous official lunch as the guest of the Deputy Chief Minister, following which he drove to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to fly to Amritsar, from where he will drive to Dharamsala tomorrow morning.

Original link with photos http://dalailama.com/news/post/1541-ground-breaking-ceremony-for-the-south-asia-hub-of-the-dalai-lama-center-for-ethics-and-a-public-talk

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What Is The Gift Of Biblical Discernment?

What Is The Gift Of Biblical Discernment?

Hello everybody. I hope you're having a wonderful Sunday so far! I trust you had a great weekend and I hope you enjoy my humble blogs regarding my opinion on the Supernatural from a Christian point of view.... even though I hate calling myself a Christian due to how many of them exhibit poor examples. Remember we will answer for turning people off from getting to know The Lord. Have fun explaining why you called yourself a Christian but wanted to be a hypocrite and judge others using Christ's name in doing so. Remember we really want to be in the book of life. And it's sad because a lot of Christians are not going where they think when they leave this world to the other side. A lot of very bad examples of Christians make us all look bad but please know not all of them are like that. Bad ones ruin it for the good honest ones.

Discernment:

The word discern and its derivatives are translations of the Greek word anakrinoin the New Testament. It means “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine.” Discernment is the ability to properly discriminate or make determinations. It is related to wisdom. The Word of God itself is said to discern the thoughts and intentions of one’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Just as Solomon sought discernment and wisdom (Proverbs 1:2; 1 Kings 3:9-12) to explore the handiwork of God (Ecclesiastes 1:13) and seek out the meaning of life (Ecclesiastes 12:13), so should believers seek “the wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). We must study the Scriptures which are “able to make you aware of the enemy as well as everything you will need to know to keep yourself safe. And Satan is not above God. The Lord is coming and he knows that for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We pray to our Lord the prayer be “I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your words” (Psalm 119:125). The Bible has everything in it all the information how to conduct spiritual warfare when we find ourselves under attack and that's our discernment as well listen to what you might think your gut is telling you until you learn to recognize discernment. The Bible has all that we need. Even spiritual warfare is explained on how we fight the enemy. It's our weapon.

Something that's noteworthy speaking of song I'm finding out not a whole lot of people realize that King Solomon summons demons to do his bidding like building his castle and things to that nature and that's not what God wanted him to do. They say in Solomons last days that he spoke gibberish. Those demons definitely got him back and God only want him and there is such thing as free will. The days up to King Solomon stuff no one could tell he was saying because he was speaking gibberish and talking to people that were not there. Even the wisdom he was blessed with when it comes to having those demons do his bidding had to of known there would be repercussions. The book called The Lesser Keys of Solomon is nothing but a girl matter of how to summon I believe it's 74 demons I think?

The Bible will NEVER leave us defenseless! You see these demons fear Christ. They fear God. They truly do. Like in the Bible when the demon said to Christ "why have you come to torment us before the appointed time?"I believe this was the one where they (the demons) asked to be casted out into the swine. Remember???? I believe it was that depressed man who was possessed by some demons but I could be getting that mixed up with another story in the Bible so forgive me if I mix things up. I know for a fact these things happened in the Bible, my mind is just having a block. Lol. But you get the point that I'm trying to make.

What Is Spiritual Warfare:

Some Christians feel satan and demons are fought, using a variety of methods and prayers depending on the group, mostly prayer and fasting. From a biblical point of view, spiritual warfare is the cosmic war of good versus evil. Many battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world fueled by our enemy; and within every child of God, between the Holy Spirit and the lusts of the carnal flesh. The clear meanings of good and evil, as defined by God rather than man, are revealed within the verses of the Holy Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.  The Book of Daniel, chapter 10 provides one of the most striking examples of spiritual warfare found in Scripture. It's truly worth a read.

Discernment And Testing What We Are Being Taught.

Discernment is valuable (at least for me it was very helpful in the situations as Christians are responsible to test teachings, preaching and prophecy. It Hass to line up with the word of God. The Bereans were considered noble for hearing the teaching of Paul and Silas, receiving them with eagerness and “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). These believers tested the words of the apostles, examining the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught was in line with the Word Of God. It's very important that we do that. All Christians are ultimately responsible for what they choose to believe, no matter whether or not they have been gifted with the spiritual gift of discernment. I just pray and do what I think God wants me to put out there. I always pray before doing a blog to see if the Holy Spirit shows me anything he would like me to share.

When I did two blogs on "Demons and Meth? A Door to Darkness?" and Meth and Demons Part 2 I never dreamed so many people knew about that connection yet. Many people fell victim. Please do read the above-linked blogs as I had to write a second one because the first one really reached out to a lot of people. So please feel free to take a moment to (no matter what you believe in) read "Demons and Meth A Door to Darkness?" if you Google that you will  be surprised how many hits come up. Not to mention all the different stories people are now starting to share and come out a little bit more with it. Since more and more people are it makes others more comfortable. It's no different than when someone claims they have a demon or ghost, it's very hard to make any assumptions until you have done the walk-through and ask the appropriate questions and speak with all witnesses and take notes.

Spiritual Warfare is really one huge blessing the Lord left us with to cast out evil. Think about that. It's sad at times we may have to get dirty in order to handle that but just like Satan dispatches his demons there are Angels doing the same thing except to protect us and guide us in the right direction but we still have our free will. Search online for the paralysis and demons and it goes into more detail about that or you can read one of my blogs that I wrote about it in detail it was called and titled "The incubus and succubus". The enemy and his disgusting vile creatures Will invade you and your body and there's nothing you can you do. If you've  had sleep paralysis know what I'm talking about. The body is still asleep but the brain is awake. I believe it's called a REM cycle. Upon just falling asleep or Just waking up. It's terrifying. And a lot of those cases are natural and known to be medical issue going on  but some believe some  cases are demonic visitation and I think I agree.

Thank you all for stopping by Eye On The Paranormal. Thank you for taking the time to read our blogs.  Feel free to keep commenting the other two blogs I did on " crystal meth and demons". It is still receiving comments, actually both blogs people found help from. They felt better they didn't think they were crazy so you never know who could benefit from it. Just something I wanted to throw in real quick in case you think you have anything to add that would be helpful information on that subject. There's a lot of people struggling to find answers for it. It's definitely something that needs to be addressed already.

Written By Jennifer L Auld

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Dalai Lama on Practicing Love

The following is an excerpt from chapter 11 of Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions by the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron. The authors introduce this chapter with the following overview: “The four immeasurables or ‘boundless states’—love, compassion, joy, and equanimity—are widely taught and practiced in both the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions. They are called ‘immeasurable’ because they are directed toward immeasurable sentient beings with a mind free from partiality and because they are states of jhāna that are not limited by the five hindrances of the desire-realm mind. They are also called the brahmavihāras after the brahmā worlds of the first jhāna, where beings’ minds are gentle. Brahma also implies ‘pure,’ for these four are free from attachment, anger, and apathy. They are called vihāras, or ‘abodes,’ because they are peaceful resting places for our mind.” Below is the section on love.

Since hostility is the opposite of love and prevents its development, we begin by reflecting on the disadvantages of hostility and the benefits of fortitude. Hostility crushes trust and tears apart valued relationships; it destroys our merit and compels us to act in ways we later regret. Fortitude, or patience, is like a soothing balm. It attracts others to us and protects our virtue.

At the beginning, it is important to cultivate love toward specific people in a definite order. Do not begin the cultivation of any of the four immeasurables toward someone to whom you are or could be sexually attracted. The people should be alive because we don’t know what form the deceased are in now.

When cultivating love, begin by using yourself as an example. Contemplate repeatedly, “May I be happy and free from suffering. May I be free from hostility, affliction, and anxiety and live happily.” Generating love toward ourselves isn’t selfish because the goal is to generate love toward all beings, which includes ourselves. We, too, are worthy of love and kindness. This meditation counteracts self-hatred, freeing us to develop our potential.

Then contemplate, “Just as I want to be happy, so too do other beings.” Cultivate love for someone you respect and hold in high regard, such as your spiritual mentor or another teacher. If we begin by cultivating love for a dear one, attachment may easily arise under the guise of love; however, this will not happen toward someone you respect. Recalling the help you have received from this person, contemplate, “May he be happy and free from suffering. May he be free from hostility, affliction, and anxiety and live happily.”

Then extend your love more broadly, first to a dear friend, thinking in the same way as above. When the mind is malleable, generate love for a neutral person, seeing her as a very dear friend. When you can do this, cultivate love for an enemy, seeing her as neutral. “Enemy” means someone you are hostile or critical toward. The person does not have to be one who reciprocates those disturbing emotions.

This step can be difficult because anger or the wish for revenge may arise toward those who have harmed you. If you cannot get past these disturbing emotions, return to meditating on love toward one of the previous persons, and when the mind is drenched in that feeling, again generate love for the enemy.

If hostility persists, apply an antidote, such as the ones offered below. If one doesn’t release the anger, try another. Begin by remembering the disadvantages of hostility. The Buddha details seven disadvantages of anger (AN 7:64): While an enemy may wish us to be ugly, experience pain, lack prosperity, wealth, a good reputation, harmonious relationships, and have an unfortunate rebirth, we bring all these upon ourselves through our own anger. Letting our mind dwell in animosity destroys our virtue and inhibits our spiritual progress.

Hearing others’ disturbing speech often triggers anger in the mind. Here the Buddha counsels us (MN 21:11):

…you should train thus: “Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of love, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading that person with a mind imbued with love, and starting with him, we shall abide pervading the all encompassing world with a mind imbued with love, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without malice.”

This is love in the state of jhāna (Vism 9:44). Such love will carry over when we leave the jhāna state and return to an everyday state of mind. Even if we have not attained jhāna, training our mind to approach all beings with a loving attitude will overwhelm our discomfort, suspicion, and malice and imbue us with ease and affection for all.

Reflecting on the person’s good qualities when he is in a congenial situation enables us to dispel our critical attitude. We can then recall this when he creates trouble. If it is difficult to see any good qualities in the person, generate compassion for him, thinking of the destructive kamma he is creating and the suffering he will experience as a result. There is no use wishing harm to someone who is bringing harm upon himself. It is better to generate compassion for him.

Thinking of the Buddha’s responses to aggression in his previous lives as a bodhisatta can inspire us to forgive others for their faults. The Jātaka collection tells many stories of the bodhisatta’s previous lives in which he responded to aggressors with compassion.

Reflecting that all sentient beings have been our mother, father, siblings, and children, we see that they have all benefited us in the past and that it is therefore unfitting to harbor enmity for them. Our affection and gratitude for others then overpowers any resentment.

We can also ask ourselves, “Who am I angry at? Among the five aggregates in dependence on which this person is called so-and-so, what aggregate am I angry with?” Searching for the real person who is the source of our anger becomes like painting in space.

Another suggestion is to give the person a gift. Others’ hostility toward us and ours toward them subsides when a gift is given and received earnestly.

Once the anger and resentment have dissipated, cultivate love toward the enemy just as you did toward the others.

Reciting the formula “May you be happy and free from suffering! May you be free from hostility, affliction, and anxiety and live happily!” is a tool to help us generate the mental state those words indicate. If the recitation becomes mechanical, express the meaning in your own words. Alternatively, think in more detail about the types of happiness you wish someone to have and imagine her having them. Make the meditation more personal. Slowly your love will arise and gain momentum. After a while the meditation will carry on by itself without need to use the formula.

The next step is to “break down the barriers” by seeing the five individuals—yourself, the respected person, the friend, the neutral person, and the enemy—as equal and generate love for them equally. When the barriers between the five people have been broken down and you are able to extend love equally to all five, simultaneously the counterpart sign appears and access concentration is attained. Repeatedly practicing the counterpart sign, you will attain the full concentration of the first jhāna. With this, the five hindrances have been suppressed, the five absorption factors are present, and the liberation of mind by love (mettācetovimutti) is attained. It is so called because in that absorption the mind is liberated from anger and hostility. This is also called “love as a divine abode.”

Only upon gaining the first jhāna, a meditator (MN 43:31):

…abides pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he abides pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without malice.

To gain this further development of love, extend love to one direction—the east—so that it pervades all sentient beings there. When doing this, begin small, thinking of one dwelling and extending love to everyone there. Then expand love to two dwellings and, gradually, to the town, state, and so forth in one direction. When that meditation is firm, gradually add the beings in the other three cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, and up and down—radiating love in each place, one by one.

Then extend love everywhere without specifying a particular direction, realm of existence, social status, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and so on. Unmarred by negative feelings, grief, or suffering, this immeasurable love is pure, impartial, and unconditional.

Together with extending the range of your love, intensify it by remembering that in our beginningless rebirths we have all been each other’s mothers. This helps to break down feelings of separateness and open our hearts to love all beings as if they were our children. The Mettā Sutta says, “As a mother would, with all her life, protect her only child, so one should develop a boundless heart toward all beings.”

Practicing love as a divine abode entails practicing it at all times when you are awake and in all postures—sitting, standing, lying down, and walking. As meditation continues, the second and third jhānas in the fourfold schema will be gained.

In the early stages of cultivating love, thought and imagination are necessary. But once love is aroused and becomes strong and stable, these are unnecessary. The mind becomes absorbed in the experience of love, and radiating love takes on a momentum of its own.

The liberation of mind by love is practiced with universal pervasion by extending it to all beings, then all breathing things, all creatures, all persons, and all those with a personality. While these five terms are synonymous, meditating on them individually gives us different perspectives on the object of our love. The liberation of mind by love is practiced with specific pervasion by extending love to groups of women, men, ariyas, ordinary beings, devas, human beings, and those born in unfortunate realms.

The liberation of mind by love is cultivated to pervade the ten directions in ten ways, by thinking as above toward all beings in the ten directions and then thinking of the twelve types of beings—the five unspecific and the seven specific—in each of the directions. In addition, each of the phrases in the formula—“be free from hostility,” “be free from affliction,” “be free from anxiety,” and “live happily”—is one meditative absorption, so when combined there are quite a number.

The Buddha said that practitioners of the liberation of mind through love will experience eleven benefits (AN 11:15):

You sleep well; you awaken happily; you do not have bad dreams; you are pleasing to human beings; you are pleasing to spirits; deities protect you; fire, poison, and weapons do not injure you; your mind quickly becomes concentrated; your facial complexion is serene; you die unconfused; and if you do not penetrate further, you fare on to the brahmā world.

Using the liberation of mind by love as the basis for developing insight, you can attain arahantship. This is done by meditating in a jhāna, then leaving that state and analyzing its components. Through doing this, you see that even this blissful state of concentration is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless. Such insight into the three characteristics will lead to the realization of nibbāna and the eradication of all fetters.

original link: http://www.wisdompubs.org/blog/201507/dalai-lama-practicing-love

Saturday, February 11, 2017

REFLECTIONS ON THE CROSS OF CHRIST: Why Did Jesus Die?

Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (an overview of the atonement)

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

1.to absorb the wrath of God
2.to please His Heavenly Father
3.to learn obedience and be ‘perfected’
4.to achieve His own resurrection from the dead
5.to show the wealth of God’s love and grace for sinners
6. to show His own love for us
7.to cancel the legal demands of the Law against us
8.to become a ransom for many
9.for the forgiveness of our sins
10.to provide the basis of our justification
11.to complete the obedience that becomes our righteousness
12.to take away our condemnation
13.to bring us to faith and keep us faithful
14.to make us holy, blameless, and perfect
15.to give us a clear conscience
16.to obtain for us all things that are good for us.
17.to heal us from moral  and physical sickness
18.to give eternal life to all who believe in Him
19.to deliver us from the present evil age.
20.to reconcile us to God
21.TO BRING US TO GOD
22.so that we might belong to Him
23.to give us confident access to the holiest place
24.to become for us the place where we meet God
25.the Eternal High Priest brings the Old testament Priesthood to an end.
26.to become a sympathetic and helpful High Priest
27.to free us from the futility of our ancestry
28.to free us from slavery to sin
29.that we may die to sin and live to righteousness
30.that we would die bear fruit for God
31.to enable us to live for Christ and not ourselves
32.to make the Cross the ground of all our boasting
33.to enable us to live by faith in Him
34.to give marriage its deepest meaning
35.to create a people passionate for good works
36.to call us to follow His example of costly love and humility
37.to create a band of crucified followers
38.to free us from bondage to fear of death
39.that we should be with Him immediately after death
40.to secure our resurrection from the dead.
41. to disarm the rulers and authorities (Satan/demons)
42.to unleash the power of God in the gospel
43.to destroy hostility between races
44.to ransom people from every tribe, language, people, and nations
45.to gather His sheep from around the world
46.to show that we are not saved by rituals or good works
47.to rescue us from final judgment
48.to gain His joy and ours
49.so that we would be crowned with glory and honor
50.to show that the worst evil is meant by God for good.  (see John Piper, Fifty Reasons Jesus came to Die).

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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Dalai Lama Discusses Compassion & Ethics

Talking about Compassion and Ethics to Students at ITAHAAS

New Delhi, India, 6 February 2017 - This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the Convent of Jesus and Mary near the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in New Delhi. He was received on arrival by Smita Vats founder and director of the Indian Traditions Heritage Society (ITAHAAS), an organization born out of a concern that children are becoming increasingly alienated from their traditions and heritage. As he walked to the covered stage in the Convent grounds, the way was lined by smiling school-children in school uniform waving the Indian tricolour. Ms Vats offered His Holiness a heartfelt welcome, remarking too that the skies had cleared and the sun had come out. She told him how much the 1300 students from 80 schools and ITAHAAS delegates were looking forward to listening to him.

His Holiness took this as his cue to begin to speak, but a couple of dozen children were also waiting to sing to him. While they did so, artist Vilas Naik set about creating a portrait of His Holiness using a technique called ‘rapid painting.’ When the children sang their last note, a vivid portrait of His Holiness had emerged. His Holiness resumed his address.

“Whenever I speak to groups of people like you I always begin by greeting them as brothers and sisters and there are reasons for this. We are all human beings, part of the population of 7 billion alive today. The way we are born and affectionately nurtured by our mothers is the same. This is how we survive. Later, we all die the same way. We are physically, mentally and emotionally the same. We share the same kind of feelings of pleasure and pain. And yet we neglect the oneness of human beings and forget that others are our brothers and sisters. Instead we emphasise the secondary differences between us of colour, race, faith and nationality. We view each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, which inevitably provokes conflict.

“Many of the problems we face can only be solved by recognising that others want to live a happy life just as we do. They too thrive when they receive love and affection. Scientists have established that in the early weeks of life, a mother’s physical touch is necessary for the proper growth of the brain. Children who receive the maximum affection at this time grow up to be happy and secure. Scientists have also found that constant anger and fear undermine our immune system, while compassion strengthens it.”

His Holiness gave an example of how we might regard each other as fellow human beings when he described someone lost in a remote and isolated place. If they then stumble across another person they regard them just as a fellow human being with no concern for their nationality, faith or race. He said this is the kind of attitude we need all the time. In the face of overwhelming problems like the growing gap between rich and poor, the natural disasters provoked by climate change and the increases in human population, as well as man-made difficulties like corruption and discrimination on the basis of caste, we need to work together.

He appealed to the young people before him, who all belong to the generation of the 21st century, to be determined to create a happier, more peaceful world. He called on them to use their intelligence in a positive way, to cultivate the warm-heartedness that can be the catalyst of constructive change. He observed that when the education system encourages only materialistic goals with little concern for universal human values, cultivating warm-heartedness can make all the difference.

His Holiness’s answers to students’ questions touched on whether an angry response brings any benefit. He suggested that if you analyse a challenge and find you can cope with it there’s no need to be angry and if you can’t do anything about it, giving in to anger will only make things worse. He mentioned in a similar vein that resorting to a use of force does not provide a lasting solution. He confirmed that establishing peace in the world is dependent on our having inner peace ourselves. He remarked that a family whose members are at peace with themselves, who trust and feel affection for one another will be happy even if they are not materially well off.

He told a student who questioned what effect one young individual can have on the world that he recognised the feeling. However, he pointed out that someone like Mahatma Gandhi could have felt the same way and yet by acting with quiet courage and confidence he had contributed significantly to India’s struggle for freedom. Once again His Holiness reiterated his admiration for India’s long established tradition of pluralism and inter-religious harmony.

Asked by another student what message she could take home with her, His Holiness said “Be a kind and compassionate person. This is the inner beauty that is a key factor to making a better world.”

There were expressions of thanks as the talk came to an end. Scarves were exchanged. As he left the stage His Holiness signed the portrait created earlier and congratulated the artist.

After lunch, before an audience of 150, His Holiness gave an extensive interview to Shekhar Gupta as part of his Off the Cuff series. They talked about how His Holiness stays calm. He told Gupta that he is a student of the Nalanda Tradition, who consistently applies analysis to the situation presented to him and his emotional response to it. He said he always tries to see things from a wider perspective and to remain optimistic. Their discussions touched several times on the existence of God. His Holiness declared that while he follows the path of a Buddhist monk, he recognises that belief in a loving creator God is very powerful.

His Holiness repeated his sense that India today has a special opportunity to combine the benefits of science and technology with the knowledge and insight of ancient India. He explained how the 8th century Tibetan Emperor Trisong Detsen, despite close relations with China, explicitly turned to Indian sources to learn about Buddhism. He invited the preeminent scholar of the day, Shantarakshita, to visit Tibet, which he did with far-reaching effects. Tibetans’ having kept the Nalanda Tradition alive and brought it back to India can be attributed directly to the way Shantarakshita established Buddhism in Tibet in the first place.

When, after Shekhar Gupta had called an end to the conversation, a woman persisted in asking why Buddhism teaches that a woman cannot attain nirvana, His Holiness replied that the Buddha accorded equal opportunities for men and women to practice, ordaining men as Bhikshus and women as Bhikshunis. He mentioned that although nuns had not studied extensively in the past, 40 years ago he had encouraged them to do so. Just recently, he said, this had borne fruit when he awarded the first 20 nuns with the highest doctorates in acknowledgement of their scholarly achievements.

Gupta wound up the interview expressing gratitude for all that His Holiness had had to say and reserving his particular admiration for the fact that he is unique among spiritual figures in being prepared sometimes to answer, “I don’t know.”

Original link + photos http://dalailama.com/news/post/1536-talking-about-compassion-and-ethics-to-students-at-itahaas

Friday, February 3, 2017

SATAN IS GOD/RULER OF THIS WORLD? What Does That Mean?

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

What does it mean to say that Satan is the "god/ruler/prince (archon) of this world"?

"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.(John 14:30, see 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19)

"We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." (1 John 5:19) 

Ummm...that is a pretty strong statement...has it puzzled you, as it has me?

Does it mean that God has delegated the whole earth to Satan--handed the deed over to him, as it were? And if this is the case, then does that mean that every aspect of human culture is intrinsically bad/satanic? Or worse, does it mean that Satan "stole" it from God? Or maybe, God still owns the earth, but has given control over the whole earth to Satan? It sure sounds like some kind of satanic kingdom on earth is being asserted. While in most places, Satan is referred to as the ruler (archon), but in 2 Cor.4:4 (ho theos tou aionos toutou) he is actually referred to as "the god of this world"..."In their case the god of this world as 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.". Yes, the same term used for GOD (theos) is used of Satan in this context...hmmm??!

I raise this question because, on the surface anyway, the phrase "ruler/god of this world" seems to imply some rather nasty or fearful scenarios.Have you ever wondered about this, because it seems to be giving Satan a whole lot of territorial control? (at least until the Last Judgment) And I have noticed that many Christians live in fear due to their interpretation of this phrase--or they have a very negative view of culture in general. It is one of those ideas that tends to color how we view everything else in the bible, so it is important that have a clear/accurate understanding of "the world" and that Satan is "the ruler of this world.".In John 15:18-19 the word kosmos (gk.world) is used  six times!

The bible uses the term world in different ways. Sometimes the world refers to the whole creation of God; or the inhabited earth without any reference to sin..the earth in general. However, the human world has fallen into sin, which the bible reminds us of frequently. So, it often uses the term world--either the spatial term kosmos or the temporal term  aion--(this is crucial) to designate everything opposed to God. Did you get that, because it vastly restricts and clarifies this notion.

Culture is a mixture of good and bad, so it is not referring to culture, per se. The word "world", is being used in an ethical sense--the world is entirely bad. The world is the kingdom of the Evil One; everything that is opposed to God. We should not be conformed to it.. (Rom 12:1-2)  Culture is a broader term than world, and the world is the bad part of culture. It is not our purpose today to discuss the biblical view of culture, but to further refine our understanding of what "god/ruler of this world" means (or does not mean), we need to realize that what we call culture, is not synonymous with world. Simply put, we were/are commanded by the Lord to build culture, in the what reformed theologians call the "cultural mandate." (Gen. 1:28) There are good and bad aspects of our culture, and the bad aspects comprise part of the world.

There is an antithesis, or opposition, between Christ and the world (and Christians are in opposition with the world too). The world hates Jesus because He exposes its evil (Jn. 7:7) The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:17) The world rejoiced when Jesus was killed (16:20) The disciples were not of the world, just as Jesus was not of the world (Jn 17:14), The most arresting antithesis is found in 1 John 2:15-17..."Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of his eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

So, we may say that the world is all aspects of God's creation that are in opposition to God--be it individuals or aspects of culture. It is over this "realm" that Satan is ruler or god. Unbelievers are blinded by Satan and our sinfulness has corrupted much of the culture we live in. There are two kingdoms in opposition--the Kingdom of God/heaven versus the kingdom of darkness. The world versus the Kingdom of God.

I suppose we could say that the world (in this sense) began in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve acted in opposition to God--they did the will of Satan and not God's will. In Genesis 4 we see the "world' in action--close up and ugly.Cain murders his own brother. In Heb 11:4 we see that Abel was justified by faith alone (faith in the future, coming Messiah) but Cain and his sacrifice were displeasing to God. In that tragic story we see the outworking of God's earlier assertion that there would be antithesis/opposition between the seed of the serpent (those whose master is Satan) and the seed of the woman--true believers (Jesus is their Lord). Adam and Eve knew the gospel, shared it with their kids--obviously, at least one of their children was an unbeliever, Cain.

Ever since the Fall, there have been two streams of humanity: those who are of the world, and those who are not of the world...unbelievers and believers. It is important to realize that those who do not serve Christ, are serving Satan whether they are aware of that or not. The world is the satanically energized, Christ hating, and law-despising individuals and aspects of culture. It is is almost by definition isn't it? Whatever is under Satan's influence, he is "ruler" over. The Devil is the ruler of the world only in the sense that he is ruler over any aspects aligned with him and in rebellion against God. And my response is, duh, of course he is! That should be comforting....I would think.

But we need to say more...more of what that phrase does NOT mean. Satan is not in sovereign control of even a square inch of the universe--the Lord, God Almighty is (Eph 1:11) in absolute control over every molecule in His vast creation...including any/all aspects of the world! He can take the wicked actions of wicked men (or demons) and bend them so that they will work together for our good (Rom.8:28)

God is the infinite/personal Creator of all things...including Lucifer, who rebelled in his free-will. The earth (Hebrews) and everything in it belongs to the Lord because He created it(Gen.1:1-2:3; Ps.24:1; 50:12 etc)
The earth is the palace of the Great King--which is also a theater displaying His glory!
Satan's very continued existence is by the word of God's power (Col. 1:16-17)

So, we should flee the world, right? Nope, against what we might think at first, Jesus prays that we would be protected from the Evil One, but  "...I do not ask that You take them out of the world." (John 17:15) We are not of the world, but the Father sends us into the world, just as He sent His Son into the world.(17:11-18) We are to shine as lights in the dark world (Matt. 5:14-16) So, we are to be in the world, but not of the world--which is difficult to keep that balance. As the world hated Jesus, so we shall be hated by the world. Maybe we need to remember that,and not go into an extended funk because our faith was not appreciated. I have resolved recently to persevere through trials better than I had been....and by God's grace, it has been liberating.....

Let me conclude by reminding us that Christ has won the victory over Satan and the world. In John 16:11 it says that Satan has been judged--perfect tense (kekritai) "Has been judged and continues in the state of resulting from that judgment." "Now is the judgment of this world (kosmou); now will the ruler of this world be cast out." (John 14:31)  "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (Jn. 16:33)

Triple amen!!!

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, January 31, 2017

Dalai Lama: Countering Stress & Depression

At a fundamental level, as human beings, we are all the same; each one of us aspires to happiness and each one of us does not wish to suffer. This is why, whenever I have the opportunity, I try to draw people's attention to what as members of the human family we have in common and the deeply interconnected nature of our existence and welfare.

Today, there is increasing recognition, as well as a growing body of scientific evidence, that confirms the close connection between our own states of mind and our happiness. On the one hand, many of us live in societies that are very developed materially, yet among us are many people who are not very happy. Just underneath the beautiful surface of affluence there is a kind of mental unrest, leading to frustration, unnecessary quarrels, reliance on drugs or alcohol, and in the worst case, suicide. There is no guarantee that wealth alone can give you the joy or fulfilment that you seek. The same can be said of your friends too. When you are in an intense state of anger or hatred, even a very close friend appears to you as somehow frosty, or cold, distant, and annoying.

However, as human beings we are gifted with this wonderful human intelligence. Besides that, all human beings have the capacity to be very determined and to direct that strong sense of determination in whatever direction they like. So long as we remember that we have this marvellous gift of human intelligence and a capacity to develop determination and use it in positive ways, we will preserve our underlying mental health. Realizing we have this great human potential gives us a fundamental strength. This recognition can act as a mechanism that enables us to deal with any difficulty, no matter what situation we are facing, without losing hope or sinking into feelings of low self-esteem.

I write this as someone who lost his freedom at the age of 16, then lost his country at the age of 24. Consequently, I have lived in exile for more than 50 years during which we Tibetans have dedicated ourselves to keeping the Tibetan identity alive and preserving our culture and values. On most days the news from Tibet is heartbreaking, and yet none of these challenges gives

grounds for giving up. One of the approaches that I personally find useful is to cultivate the thought: If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. In other words, if there is a solution or a way out of the difficulty, you do not need to be overwhelmed by it. The appropriate action is to seek its solution. Then it is clearly more sensible to spend your energy focussing on the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Alternatively, if there is no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you cannot do anything about it anyway. In that case, the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be for you. This formula, of course, implies directly confronting the problem and taking a realistic view. Otherwise you will be unable to find out whether or not there is a resolution to the problem.

Taking a realistic view and cultivating a proper motivation can also shield you against feelings of fear and anxiety. If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal. Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort. But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.

Again, we may sometimes feel that our whole lives are unsatisfactory, we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by the difficulties that confront us. This happens to us all in varying degrees from time to time. When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune. We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for - food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live - we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past. We must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives. For if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness. This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus we create the conditions of despair itself.

As a Buddhist monk I have learned that what principally upsets our inner peace is what we call disturbing emotions.  All those thoughts, emotions, and mental events which reflect a negative or uncompassionate state of mind inevitably undermine our experience of inner peace. All our negative thoughts and emotions - such as hatred, anger, pride, lust, greed, envy, and so on - are considered to be sources of difficulty, to be disturbing. Negative thoughts and emotions are what obstruct our most basic aspiration - to be happy and to avoid suffering. When we act under their influence, we become oblivious to the impact our actions have on others: they are thus the cause of our destructive behaviour both toward others and to ourselves. Murder, scandal, and deceit all have their origin in disturbing emotions.

This inevitably gives rise to the question - can we train the mind? There are many methods by which to do this. Among these, in the Buddhist tradition, is a special instruction called mind training, which focuses on cultivating concern for others and turning adversity to advantage. It is this pattern of thought, transforming problems into happiness that has enabled the Tibetan people to maintain their dignity and spirit in the face of great difficulties. Indeed I have found this advice of great practical benefit in my own life.

A great Tibetan teacher of mind training once remarked that one of the mind’s most marvellous qualities is that it can be transformed. I have no doubt that those who attempt to transform their minds, overcome their disturbing emotions and achieve a sense of inner peace, will, over a period of time, notice a change in their mental attitudes and responses to people and events. Their minds will become more disciplined and positive. And I am sure they will find their own sense of happiness grow as they contribute to the greater happiness of others. I offer my prayers that everyone who makes this their goal will be blessed with success.


The Dalai Lama

December 31, 2010

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