Monday, January 19, 2015

Dalai Lama: Explaining a Human Approach to World Peace

Kolkata, West Bengal, India, 13 January 2015 - This morning, Ms Anuradha Lohia, Vice Chancellor of the Presidency University, and Mr Debajyoti Konar, the Registrar, received His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he arrived at the University and escorted him to the University's Derozio Hall. The West Bengal Minister of State for Education, Mr Partha Chatterjee joined His Holiness and the Vice Chancellor on the stage.

The Vice Chancellor offered both guests a bouquet of flowers, a shawl and a framed photograph of the University before introducing His Holiness to the faculty, students and other guests in the audience. She began by remarking:

“We have an epitome of peace amongst us today."

She recounted the University's proud contribution to education in India since its foundation nearly 200 years ago and mentioned the thinkers, freedom fighters and leaders numbered amongst its alumni. Before inviting him to address the gathering she described His Holiness as being extraordinarily human while at the same time an evident embodiment of wisdom and compassion.

“Elder brothers and sisters, and younger brothers and sisters,” he began, “it is indeed a great honour for me to speak here at the oldest of modern Indian educational institutions”

He mentioned that as he was on his way to the University this morning he was thinking about what he might say about ‘A Human Approach to World Peace’. It struck him that thousands of years ago human beings must have had various ways of solving problems and conflicts among themselves. Then they developed weapons, beginning perhaps with knives and arrows. This trend has culminated today in weapons of immense destructive potential. They were developed by scientists with the finest brains and the highest education, which, while it may not have been their intention, is focussed on refining the means to kill.

“We must change this inclination to resort to the use of force, employing weapons, to solve problems. Differences are bound to arise between us, but we must find ways of resolving that are peaceful and not destructive. Even on an individual level from time to time we encounter conflicts with others, but we have to try to find ways of resolving them through dialogue. In the same way, we need to find ways of solving problems on family, community, national and global levels by talking them through. By implementing ahimsa, non-violence, we have the opportunity to avoid violence and develop a more human approach to resolving conflicts peacefully.”

He chuckled and said that while the core of his talk might be the ancient concept of ahimsa, it remains keenly relevant today and there is something appropriate about an elderly person, nearly eighty years old, speaking about something ancient at this oldest of universities.

“I am one of you,” he continued. “Mentally, emotionally and physically we are the same. We all wish to live a happy life. In addition, we all have the same right to fulfil this goal. And we all have the potential to do so for the simple reason that future is not fixed, it can be changed. Therefore, we should live in hope that we really can overcome whatever problems we face.”

His Holiness explained that hope is fundamental to our lives. When we lose hope it can shorten our lives and in the worst case induce us to commit suicide, which is a terrible outcome. He suggested that when we face problems we should assess the situation from a wider perspective, because there is always a hopeful aspect to be found, no matter how desperate things may seem. He remarked that even religion is intended to make us happy. Nobody is religious in order to be miserable.

In the warm conditions that prevailed on the stage, His Holiness reached for the ceremonial shawl he had been offered earlier to mop his brow, observing to the audience:

“I have no interest formality!”

The hall resounded with laughter and His Holiness resumed what he was saying.

“Because we are social animals, we need affection. This begins with the unconditional love of the mother-child relationship. When there is love and respect between us it naturally reduces the suspicion that ruins our peace of mind. Today, psychologists and other scientists confirm this. They have found that constant fear and anxiety destroys our immune system. As the Vice Chancellor told you earlier, this old person studied Buddhist philosophy back in Tibet, but becoming a refugee has given me the opportunity to hold discussions with scientists over the last thirty years and more. As a result we have learned that if we can combine traditional values with scientific findings it can be of great benefit to humanity at large.”

His Holiness observed that to address the moral crises the world faces today, we cannot rely on religious tradition alone because this will not appeal to all 7 billion people alive today. We need instead an approach to moral values that appeals to believers and non-believers alike.

“For example, a religious approach to ethical values is not suitable in a secular education system. Therefore, what we need today is to adopt an approach akin to India's more than three thousand year tradition of secular practice that views those with religious faith and those with none with equal respect.”

His Holiness noted that he often refers to himself as a messenger of India because of the efforts he makes to promote inter-religious harmony and non-violence, both of which are ancient Indian traditions, in the wider world.

“Today, the world is being torn apart by religious intolerance and even people of same faith, such as Shia and Sunni Muslims or Christians of one denomination or another, attack each other in the name of religion. At such a time, India’s living tradition of religious co-existence can be a beacon to the rest of the world. As a student of the ancient Nalanda tradition, I am quite actively engaged in spreading this message. But isn’t it time for you Indians to be active too in promoting your age old traditions?”

He referred to the great Abbot Shantarakshita from the 8th century CE and Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana from the 10th-11th centuries, both of them Bengalis who accepted the invitations of Tibetan kings to come to Tibet. His Holiness called on today’s Bengalis to emulate these ancient masters in working for the wider benefit of humanity. He suggested conducting programmes to raise awareness of the role the traditional Indian values of non-violence, religious pluralism and secular ethics can make in building a more peaceful world. Key to this is the development of compassion, which we are all shown at the start of our lives by our mother.

His Holiness elaborated on the importance of cultivating constructive emotions while reducing destructive emotions. Positive emotions are conducive to good health, while negative emotions undermine it.

“I sometimes feel my body seems to tell me ‘Because your mind is calm, I can survive longer!’ If I were full of anger, jealousy and hatred my body might complain, ‘I can’t support you because of your emotional ups and downs.’ However, unfortunately, when it comes to my knees there doesn't seem to be any link to the mind of compassion. Perhaps, I should ask scientists to seek out such a link.”

Once again, laughter filled the hall. His Holiness reiterated that peace of mind is the key to good health. And the key to peace of mind today is not necessarily religion but secular ethics. He told the audience he is looking forward to meeting scientists in the US next month to finalise a draft curriculum for introducing secular ethics into the secular school system.

When a member of the audience asked if world peace could be achieved by all human beings at the same time, His Holiness’s answer was:

“At the same time - impossible!”

He mentioned the final statement of the recent Nobel Peace Laureates' Summit he attended in Rome in which the laureates set a goal for the elimination of nuclear weapons as soon as possible. By their very existence they pose a great danger. He emphasised that mass destruction means destroying not only soldiers, but innumerable innocent people too, children among them. He repeated again that the only genuine option for creating peace is dialogue. The ground can be laid for this and for countering discrimination against women and the poor by educating the population in warm-heartedness. His Holiness encouraged the young people in the audience, who belong to the generation of the 21st century, to cultivate vision, determination and patience in resolving the problems bequeathed them by the generation that belonged to the 20th century - among whom His Holiness included himself, the Vice Chancellor and the Minister of Education.

The Vice Chancellor expressed profuse thanks to His Holiness for his talk and the event concluded with the University Choir singing ‘We shall Overcome’ in Bengali interspersed with English and Hindi.

In the afternoon, His Holiness addressed members and guests of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (MCC) Kolkata chapter, on the Meaning and Purpose of Education. The West Bengal Minister of State for Education, Mr Partha Chatterjee was again among the guests, who also included students from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. His Holiness emphasised the importance of education in combining modern knowledge and understanding with traditional values to produce people who will take a responsible role in society. He again stressed the need for vision, determination and not losing sight of the goal:

“Sustaining your hope is crucial to keeping yourselves going and fulfilling the goal of your education.”

original link and photos

Demons vs. You -- You Don't Stand a Chance, Part 2

Continued from: Demons vs. You -- You Don't Stand a Chance, Part 1

Continuation of this five part series blog I will cover and inform all of the readers on an important aspect in the realm of spiritual warfare.  In this part two I continue this discussion regarding the fundamental aspects of having a balanced aspect or approach so to speak when it comes to engaging demons as Christians.

Now there are many foolish Christians who think that it is no big deal if they attend séances, play with or keep Ouija boards and even worse try their hand at exorcisms.   As professed people in Christ let us learn from the act of Sceva’s foolish sons (Acts 19:13-16).  We are not go anywhere near demons unless we have received specific orders from God.

The only time it is safe for a person to approach demons is when the person is doing so from behind the Holy Spirit’s broad back.  Thus if the Holy Spirit is not out in front of you then you are asking for a serious beating from a demon.  God just might let you have one in order to teach you some respect for the demon and ultimately God.

Now that’s one side of the coin as we should fear the power of demons and recognize that we are no match for them.  Therefore let’s flip the coin over so to speak and talk about the second side.  When we are walking in step with God, we do not need to fear demons at all.  Thus this is the key to it all, walking righteous with God.

Demons are like a downed electrical wire which are sizzling and sparking upon the ground.  Only an idiot would try to pick up this sparking wire with bare hands.  However, when that wire is jerking about, threatening the safety of others, there are strategic ways to deal with it.

Therefore in comparison, we are to never seek out demons unless the Holy Spirit has given us specific orders to do so. While we’re busy being obedient Christians, Satan is going to send his unholy soldiers after us in hordes. When Satan is the one initiating the battle, we definitely need to take a defensive stance behind the Holy Spirit.

Now the first step in defending oneself against demons is to realize how they were able to get so close to you in the first place. The Holy Spirit is the one and only source of protection between all human souls and the armies of Satan.  We are not place visions of our own guardian angels defending us.  Why?  God is intensely jealous and God gets quite upset when we start admiring other creatures God has made and not him directly.

All admiration and gratitude for spiritual protection must be directed at God alone.  One must not get lazy in this arena.  We are not to carry little angel figurines and no fantasizing about your guardian angel either.  Such behavior enrages the Holy Spirit against us.  Therefore why would you want to offend the One who is protecting you?  As far as we should be concerned, angels are God’s business alone.

From our previous blog “God’s Will” you have learned that God gives permission for demons to attack.  Understand that Satan can’t invade your personal space unless the Holy Spirit intentionally gives him an opening.  Hence it is important that a person see God as actively allowing the demons to harass you as tests, especially those who God favors (i.e. Job).

If you fail to see this as anything else, you might miss the lesson that God is trying to teach you.  If there was a snarling wolf on the other side of your door and I suddenly yanked it open to let the wolf at you, you would naturally begin to question our so called friendship. The wolf will attack as you expected it to do so.  However, what you don’t understand is why I opened the door to begin with?

The same way, we recoil from the image of the Holy Spirit opening the door for demons to attack us.  Woefully, this is exactly what is happening.  So if the Holy Spirit didn’t lower the hedge around us, the demons would never get anywhere close to you.  When we ignore the Holy Spirit’s significant role as our protector, we are free to go about defending ourselves in a wrong manner, which is why God allows this to happen.   For further clarification go back to my blog “God’s Will – the breaking of the human.”

A person will fight and struggle in their own strength, all the while calling out for God to jump in and help us.  When God finally removes the demons off of us, we think God only jumped in because we did the right behavior God was wanting from us now.  We tend to think we prayed the right words, confessed enough sins, or worked up enough emotions to stir God to move on our behalf.  Sadly, this is totally backwards and does not align with God.

Therefore was as Christians need to learn a whole new approach to spiritual warfare that you cannot just go and cast demons out.  God places a calling upon you for God qualifies the called.  This not about fighting with fists and muscle, it is about learning the ways of the Lord.  Every time demons leap upon you, the first response should be to say to the Holy Spirit “teach me what you want me to learn.”

God is always teaching us.  The Holy Spirit never lets demons at you to see how good you are at holding them off in your own strength, as you will never be able to hold off demons by yourself.  More so to determine if you desire to walk with God as God calls a person to do.

In our next blog we will further discuss demons vs. you and how you don’t stand a chance!

Written by Rev. Bradley Luoma

Demons vs. You -- You Don't Stand a Chance, Part 1

In this five part series blog I will cover and inform all of the readers on an important aspect in the realm of spiritual warfare.  In part one I will layout the fundamental aspects of having a balanced aspect when it comes to demons.  So here we jump into this important view that Christians should attain is a balanced view of demons and how to defeat them.

Those of you who are not Christians or don’t accept God stand ZERO chance of defeating a demon. Therefore a balanced view of demons is necessary for good spiritual warfare.  Now one might expect this blog to deviate over into an in-depth discussion of spiritual warfare and how we as Christians need not be afraid of the devil.

It is a dangerous lack of fear which is causing many souls to unwisely deviate into very terrible traps of torment. Therefore to start one needs to be afraid of demons—very afraid.  On another level a person needs to be fearless as well.  Now both of these mentalities need to exist at the same time and for different reasons. If you drop either one of these mentalities, you will become spiritually vulnerable.  So let’s start with why you need to be afraid of demons.

Demons are not human and have never been a living being.   People however do not understand exactly what they are as no human does.  Yet demons are experts on the subject of humans, including you the reader.  Demons have had a much further head start against you and me.  They have been studying, testing and defeating the human race since the beginning of Creation.  This sober fact should hit you like a freight train that most souls end up in Hell when they die.

So therefore what does this tell you the reader?  This should scream to you from the mountain tops about how confident demons are when it comes to defeating humans.  They are quite cocky, and with good reason they have a right to be!  Every demon is much like a military general who hardly ever lose a battle.  Therefore these large mega churches give a Christian attendee a false sense of confidence.  Just know that the unsaved far outnumber the saved in this world.  Even within the high ranks of Christianity, demons have many souls in their service.

As the reader of this blog you need to get an understanding of demonic power in perspective that you can fathom. Imagine if you can trying to stand on the surface of the sun which is liquid molten.  Now I know that is hard to do but try to imagine this for a second.  How long do you think you would be able to last on liquid molten?  What if you were suited up in some protective special equipment before you got shoved out of the spacecraft how do you think you would fare?  Can you think of any man made material that can possibly protect you from 9,000 degrees plus of heat?

Now even if you could stand on the surface for a few seconds, you would drop down below the surface where the estimated temperature would be about a cool 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. Now when it comes to dealing with demons, we as Christians suit ourselves up with special prayers, proper bible verses, special blessed oil, holy water and we carry large blessed crucifixes.  At that point people think they are ready to take on the powers of Hell and those people are delusional.

It is God and only God, the Alpha and Omega who can and will protect a person from demons.  It is God alone, not God along with our assistance and certainly not you with God’s assistance.  In our minds we feel that we can see pictures of ourselves prodding the Holy Spirit into action with our faith filled prayers.

Let me state this, God is not a donkey that we must poke into motion with sticks.  God does what God wants to do and how God wants to do it, end of story.  So let me be crystal clear, no human being helps God exorcise demons out of an afflicted person. It is God who drives them out all by his will.  All the anointed oil and fervent praying is totally powerless because it is God who does this act.

Many Christians who have done deliverances or exorcisms have become quite delusional when it comes to spiritual warfare. Too often these Christians view themselves as leading the charge against the armies of Satan while the Holy Spirit brings up the rear.  What extremely flawed reasoning is occurring as this puts those Christians in line for brutal defeat.

In reality, it is God who must lead every battle against demons.  If we fail to allow God first there is no battle, there’s only the Christians who get mowed down by the demons.  Now how hard is it for a person to win an arm wrestling contest with an infant?

That type of contest is not a challenge that is a joke. So when Christians try to come against demons on their own, the demons are laughing at our senselessness. The only reason this person could walk away in one piece would be due to the Holy Spirit rushing in.  It is the Holy Spirit that snatches people from dangers of demons much like a mother snatching her child out of the path of a speeding car on a road.  Sadly, many of us refuse to witness God’s intervening hand and thus we walk away thinking “we sure showed those demons a thing or two.”

Understand that you are no match for demons.  This is step one in learning proper spiritual warfare skills.  So then should you be afraid of the power they possess? Absolutely.  Any person should be afraid of demons as much as being afraid of a rabid lion which just surged into your afternoon picnic.  A demon can destroy a person to shreds without even trying. Thus a person is no match for them so you need to stay away.   Therefore don’t go playing around demonic strongholds and think you won’t be hurt!

In our next blog we will further discuss demons vs. you and how you don’t stand a chance! Here's the link to part 2.

Rev. Bradley Luoma