Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Temptation of Jesus and Spiritual Warfare

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

We are continuing in our series on the events in the life of Christ that are crucial for our understanding of who He is and what He accomplished for us. Last time we looked at His baptism, and immediately after His baptism, Mark tells us that the Holy Spirit ‘drove’ Jesus into the wilderness (same word used when Jesus drove out demons). Perhaps this was to be seen as last of preparatory episodes before public ministry began in earnest. Once He was ordained and anointed for His public ministry, the Spirit leads the Lord Jesus as the Warrior King to march into an all-out assault on enemy occupied territory. This was holy war of the highest and holiest order—against unholiness and utter depravity. It was the devil who trembled and every demon in the world was probably in attendance.

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:1-11)

I mentioned Jesus being ‘driven’…but is misleading to think of Jesus being dragged along, as if He needed encouragement: no, the idea is that the Spirit and Jesus worked in tandem to relentlessly wreck havoc on the enemy. Indeed the inseparable bond of the two, and the Spirits hovering over Jesus during this event and His entire ministry is important to know. As Basil said ‘they were inseparable companions’. This was holy war against an exceedingly unholy foe. It seems foolish beyond belief that the devil would take Jesus on, but evil is irrational—meaning there is no understanding it.

It is reasonable to assume that Jesus had been the target of Satan from the beginning, and His entire life was spiritual warfare. Indeed, there is no way to adequately understand Jesus’ ministry without realizing that Jesus battled the evil one constantly, and that one of His main foci was to destroy Satan and his works.

It is noteworthy that in the Lukan account, this episode is preceded by a genealogy from Jesus to Adam. This inclusio  suggests that the entire human history between Adam and Jesus, and that the temptation and victory of Jesus, are to be interpreted in contrast to Adams previous failure in his capacity as representative of human race. This is a re-run of Eden. Jesus is second/last Adam. We see this in Romans 5. 18 Therefore, as one trespassf led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessg leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18-19) As CS Lewis said, ‘Jesus danced Adam’s steps backwards’.

Contrast between 2 Adams:

Note contrast of location. Adam was in plush garden. Perfect environment; no lack of anything. But Jesus was in the midst of treeless, furnace-like wilderness, where all there is are vipers and scorpions. The location itself was foreboding and inhospitable for human habitation—epitome of fall.

Adam was in company of his wife as helpmate vs Jesus as all alone. Loneliness…and remember that man being alone  received first malediction recorded—in garden before Eve created. Think of the torment people go through in solitary confinement, bereft of any human contact. I remember one of the old prisons that is a paranormal investigators hot spot was a place designed to keep people totally isolated—drove many insane. Maybe Transallegany..I can’t remember but I got involved indirectly…mans phone caught on fire.

Adam lived in a gourmet restaurant with countless fruits to eat from, and his belly was content. But Jesus was on 40 day fast… literally starving. Unlike me, He did not live according to feelings, but set his face like flint in this prolonged battle. And the tense in Greek indicates that Jesus was being tempted continually. The last three are the culmination, and He is probably already worn out in every way.

Similarity—point of attack. Adam and Jesus’ temptation centered on the truthfulness, authority and trustworthiness of God’s Word.

To Eve Satan said: “has God said”? At first Satan was very subtle with Eve. “If God puts any restrictions on you, that means you are not free”. Then Satan outright contradicted God and called Him a liar, and said Adam and Eve would be as god. They trusted their senses, their own subjective intuition—became autonomous in their thinking. Adam was passive in his leadership/protection of the family. They gave the devil a foothold and he took full advantage and overwhelmed them with his superior intellect and insidious tempting. 1 Cor. 10:13 is for ‘front door’ temptations not when he’s already been let into your living room. Need to stop temptation in the bud.

It is obvious that Satan was an observer of Jesus’ baptism because he picks up on the very language the Father used to address Jesus-- “IF you are the Son of God, command these stones…” And as we are told in Eph 6 Jesus picks up the Sword of the Spirit and quotes from Deuteronomy-man does not live bread alone…but by every Word… I will starve before I deny My Father’s truthfulness.”

 Frustrated Satan, picks up on the tactic and quotes scripture himself—using same word ‘gegrepetai’. And ironically, he quotes from the very psalm that folks in deliverance use all the time, Psalm 91. I’ve used many times in demon infested homes. But so does Satan, but out of context. And Jesus replies:” You obviously forgot the first rule of hermeneutics—don’t set one text of Word against another—compare scripture with scripture..” do not tempt God.” Tempting God means putting yourself in a situation in which it would take a miracle to extract you from it.

Then Satan has the mind boggling audacity to ask God almighty to bow down and worship him—promising the Creator all the kingdoms of the world. Forgetting they were already Jesus’…though Satan had limited authority given him by God. And this agitates Jesus and He informs the evil one that God alone is to be worshipped, and with that He tells Satan to get lost. It was over. He lost. Battle won! And the devil departs, until an opportune time.

Three times Jesus was tempted and each time He replied ‘gegrepetai’…the sense is that, though written in past, it has abiding authority. The Sword of the Spirit of Truth—the Holy Spirit works in and through His Word. We need to realize that while this was a power encounter, it was first a truth encounter, and then the power was unleashed. We need to have same hunger, same worship, same respect for God's Word. Unlike Satan, we need to be willing to humble ourselves before God’s Word and embrace beliefs that, may seem to our pea brains to be irreconcilable—at least unable to explain how both can be true. For example, God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

His whole life Jesus would be tempted off and on by Satan himself. Not a demon, but Satan himself, and I doubt any of us will ever face Satan himself in our lifetimes. His weakest demon is powerful enough to thrash me to shreds if not for God’s protection. I have seen the work of demons in person and I have seen the power of God in abolishing them through His Word and Jesus’ Name.

In applying this, often it is difficult in knowing if temptation emanates from indwelling sin or from outside, demonic source. But quoting scripture outloud can be of immense help in either situation. Sometimes we literally have to run. Last night on FB, I had a friend request and when I turned to it, it was hard core porn. That is something men need to run away from.

The devil hates the truth and so we can expect that he will do all he can to water truth down, and I am trying to expose folks to full counsel of God, rediscovered in the Reformation. It is sad that once what was so common then, and their successors the puritans, the doctrines of grace—are considered by many evangelicals to be aberrations. Martin Luther spoke often of how he was attacked by Satan himself—and I believe it because the precious gospel had been eclipsed in darkness in an anti-millennium from 500-1,500 AD. Is there no end to devils mimicry? Luther stood as single man against the church and Holy Roman Empire and was valiant for truth of gospel of grace alone.

This episode reminds us that God is passionate about sound theology and sound living…orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

In the end, angels came and ministered to Jesus—angels, who with the Holy Spirit, had been there the entire time. Praise God that Jesus did dance Adam’s steps backwards, and this was a prelude to the cross and the ultimate showdown…slaughter of Satan. And ultimately thrown into hell. Christus Victor—the Warrior King! Jesus Christ!  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, August 28, 2018

Visiting the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education

Bengaluru, India - The last engagement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s current Indian tour was a visit to The Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education (DLIHE). Early this morning, under skies that were clearer than they have been for some days, he drove out of Bengaluru city to the Institute at Sheshagrihalli on the Mysore road.

He was welcomed by women singing and was offered the traditional Tibetan ‘chema changphu’ as he arrived. Escorted into the new Men’s Hostel block, he was invited to unveil a commemorative plaque to mark its inauguration. He greeted members of the boards of the Staub Kaiser Foundation and the Giuseppe Kaiser Foundation of Switzerland that have supported the construction.

In the Institute’s Office His Holiness met with 23 Geshes who have been studying English and Chinese intensively with the support of the Dalai Lama Trust. Sitting down with them he first asked which monasteries they belonged to, how many had been born in Tibet and where.

“Over the last 60 years we’ve had new experiences,” he told them. “In Tibet we studied according to the instructions first laid down by Shantarakshita who Trisong Detsen invited to Tibet in 8th century. Followers of the Pali tradition rely on citing the authority of the scriptures when they explain the Four Noble Truths and their attributes. This is what a group of Thai scholars I met recently told me. In contrast to this, our tradition, which originated at Nalanda University, follows the path of those with sharp faculties by relying on reason. We have inherited this wonderful tradition due to the kindness of Shantarakshita and the hard work of the religious kings.

“These days we have been holding discussions with modern scientists. When we talk about quantum physics they appreciate our explanation of dependent arising. We too have learned from them. The scientific view of cosmology, for example, leaves no place for Mt Meru. We have also followed Nalanda masters in examining whether teachings of the Buddha should be taken literally or classed as interpretable.

“When I first thought about engaging scientists in discussions, a Western friend warned me to be careful saying, ‘Science is the killer of religion’. I then considered the Buddha’s advice not to take what he taught at face value, but to examine it as a goldsmith tests gold and decided there wasn’t much risk. However, when I suggested that monks learn English and science as part of their curriculum, there were senior monks in the monasteries who were initially concerned that it would distract them.

“Learning other languages as you are doing is important. It’s a way for you to serve others. In our prayers we say, ‘I generate bodhichitta and call upon all sentient beings as my guests...’, but we need to do something practical as you are doing.

His Holiness walked out to the amphitheatre that stands in the midst of the Institute’s buildings where an estimated 6000 people had gathered. He stopped to greet some people and comfort others who were sobbing, overwhelmed by the opportunity to be so close to him. As usual, His Holiness took time to greet the crowd from the front of the stage before he sat down.

In her summary report, Principal Dr B Tsering welcomed His Holiness as well as the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore, Prof R Rangappa, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bangalore, Prof KR Venugopal, in addition to the donors from Switzerland. She reported that so far students have been able to earn BA degrees, but plans are afoot to start an MA program, and to follow this up with BA, B Com, BCA and so forth in addition to prospects for offering PhDs and other specializations. So far 275 students have graduated from DLIHE.

The Principal also mentioned that students have the opportunity to learn about secular ethics. Meanwhile young Tibetans from abroad have been coming to the Institute to participate in intensive training in Tibetan language and culture. She concluded by voicing a wish that His Holiness live long and that all his aspirations may be fulfilled.

President of TCV, Thupten Dorjee’s remarks touched on the support DLIHE has received in terms of sponsorship. He was followed by Prof R Rangappa, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore. He observed that that what distinguishes DLIHE from other institutes of higher learning is that it isn’t first and foremost concerned with making money. Here, he said, students learn the art and science of living. He expressed his support for efforts to keep a high level of Tibetan in use because once the language of culture is lost, everything is lost. He offered congratulations to the Institute for what has been achieved so far.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bangalore, Prof KR Venugopal in his turn also mentioned how honoured he felt to be in His Holiness’s presence. He assured students and staff that the BA, BCA and B Com courses should be available later this year. He promised students that any problems brought to him at the University of Bangalore would be solved there and then.

“This academic Institution started from scratch, but has been steadily growing,” His Holiness remarked. “Now it has become something to be proud of. These two Vice-Chancellors have assured us of their support and on behalf of the 6 million people of Tibet I would like to thank them.

“India and Tibet have unique and longstanding relations. Ordinary Indians are aware of Tibet because the sacred Mt Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, is there. It’s a place of pilgrimage for them. For Tibetans, India is where the Buddha lived and taught.

“We’ve heard about the programs that are being developed and I give them my whole-hearted support.

“We are not just refugees; we are exiles from the oppression that has taken place in Tibet. We must never forget the people of Tibet, because they have no freedom and we are their representatives.

“Chinese archaeologists have found evidence of a Tibetan culture dating back 35,000 years. Visitors from Kyrgyzstan showed me a photograph of a Tibetan Mani stone that had been found on a coffin buried in their country, which indicates how far Tibetan influence extended at one time.

“When King Songtsen Gampo married a Chinese princess, she brought the Jowo statue of the Buddha with her to Tibet. I’ve seen the alcove in a temple in the old Chinese capital of Xi’an where it used to sit. When I was there it was also pointed out to me that in times past the Tibetan army had laid siege to the city right outside its walls.

“Chinese documents show that in 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries three distinct empires flourished: China, Mongolia and Tibet. Scholars have also told me that historical records from the T’ang to the Manchu dynasties make no mention at all of Tibet being part of China. If there were any such references, it seems they may have been made by Tibetan Lamas seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Chinese Emperor.

“Samye Monastery was set up by Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava. It was there that, under Shantarakshita’s direction, translation of Sanskrit Buddhist literature into Tibetan began. This resulted in Kangyur and Tengyur we have today. Shantarakshita was not only a profound philosopher; he was also a shrewd logician. He introduced the study of both philosophy and logic to Tibetans. Some Chinese scholars have suggested that use of reason and logic is what enables Buddhists to interact so well with scientists.”

Over the last almost 70 years, His Holiness observed, Tibetans have undergone untold sufferings. Since the People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet and attacked Lithang before marching on Lhasa, their records indicate that 300,000 Tibetans were killed. Having swallowed Tibet and failed to digest it, it seems that hardliners are increasingly concerned about having to regurgitate it.

Even though Tibetans in Tibet are under such oppression their spirit and determination remain strong. Whether they are Buddhists or not, they don’t forget that they are Tibetan. Up to now 152 people have committed self-immolation in protest at the situation in their homeland. They could have attacked and harmed others, but scrupulously undertook only to harm themselves.

His Holiness told the audience that he’d heard that people say that while he’s alive they will remain non-violent, but after that, who knows. He has appealed to them to remain non-violent whatever the circumstances. He said that he still hopes to see positive change in Tibet.

“We are a unique people with a unique culture that we have every reason to be proud of. Never forget that you are Tibetan. In the early days people worked very hard to clear the jungle here in Karnataka to enable schools and so forth to be built. The generation that re-established the Monastic Universities have virtually all gone, but the fruit of their deeds remains. In those early days they came to me to complain that it was so hot they were convinced they would die. When I came again, I was able to tease them that they were still alive after all. I told them - ‘Never give up.’ These days you have much better facilities, but you also have greater opportunities.

“Finally, I want to mention my latest commitment to try to revive interest in ancient Indian knowledge regarding the workings of the mind and emotions in this country. I hope this Institute may be able to play a part in this.”

Dawa Tsering, Vice-Principal of DLIHE offered words of thanks, concluding with prayers for His Holiness’s long life.

His Holiness then drove from the Institute directly to Bangalore airport from where he flew to Delhi. Tomorrow, he will return to Dharamsala.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Hypostatic Union of Christ: How His Two Natures Relate

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

How did Jesus’ human knowledge interact with His divine/omniscient knowledge?! How did they coexist?

We have seen that Jesus is God Incarnate; truly God and truly man. What was it like for Jesus to live with two natures? The best answer is: we do not know! This is the mystery of mysteries; the psychology of how Jesus lived by moment as both God and man is an impenetrable mystery with no human analogy. Incarnation is movement from God to man, and not man to God.

However, we can say a few things without fear of overstepping proper biblical boundaries. ‘Hypostatic union’ refers to the combination of Jesus’ two natures in one Person (Gk. Hypostasis) Perhaps it would be appropriate to start with the best statement on the dual nature of Christ, written over 1,500 years ago at the Council of Chalcedon. It does not attempt to actually explain the mystery in positive way; a psychological elaboration, which is impossible!

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; (ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως – in duabus naturis inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter) the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person (prosopon) and one Subsistence (hypostasis), not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεόν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

This Creed was accepted by Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants. It is less a definition than a denial of certain errors. It sets up-guard rails against unwarranted speculation and heresy. At the time certain groups were either tending to unite or divide the two natures of Christ in such a way that was not acceptable. The four famous adverbs: without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation addressed these concerns. Current preachers need to re-familiarize themselves with these truths when preaching on Christ because, unwittingly, some preachers come close to transgressing one of the boundaries (e.g. saying Jesus knew advanced Calculus as a child—touching His human nature, He did not even know what that was). The first two accent the distinctness of the two natures of Christ, and the second two accent the inseparability/unity of Jesus’ Person.

This language reverses the language used in discussing the Trinity; three Persons with one Nature. Chalcedonian Christology affirms on Person with two natures. A nature (physis) is a group of attributes; a person is a being who has those attributes. So, Jesus has human attributes and divine attributes.

It is supremely perplexing as to how deity and humanity can exist in the same person. It is significant, that contrary to the ‘we’ language of the Trinity, Jesus always spoke of Himself as ‘I’ or the singular attributed to Him—even though He has two natures. As a general pattern, since the purpose of the Incarnation was His humbling, Jesus usually limited His specifically divine attributes. Amazingly, He lived for the better part of 30 years in Nazareth (other than when He was in Egypt) and nobody had a clue as to His divinity. He cloaked it very well! The cross beckoned and that was a call to weakness and humiliation. Exaltation—humiliation—back to exaltation is pattern. While working hard with His dad in the carpentry shop, He simultaneously upheld the universe and was omnipresent (and all the divine attributes—just the outward glory was cloaked).

Touching His human nature, Jesus did not know the timing of His return, but His divine nature did. It is hard to fathom, with all the divine knowledge at His disposal, that He could be ignorant of the timing of His own return. The important thing to know is that the self-limitation is voluntary. If you think about it, there is a certain logic to it—a true human would not have that kind of knowledge. And He was truly human. I cannot think of an appropriate analogy; it is the sacred mystery of mysteries.

This has led to discussions of the communication of attributes (koinonia idiomaton, communicatio idiomatum) This is the question of how Jesus’ unique hypostatic union affects His being, individual natures, and particular attributes. For example, we have seen that Jesus has a human and  divine attribute of knowledge. But how incredible that one person should have two distinct faculties of knowledge! And do they sit beside each other like two separate compartments? It is hard not to imagine His omniscience ‘seeping’ into His human brain, as when discussing in the temple as a 12- year-old boy. But we must resist divinizing His human mind or humanizing His divine attributes…kind of ‘superman’. As a sinless human,  the boy Jesus had a crystal clear mind that was unaffected by the Fall/sin. (see more on my upcoming discussion of ‘Temple Discussion’)

If we are not careful with our answers we will commit the very heresies that give rise to the Chalcedonian statement itself. VII. “Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.” The WCF distinguishes between two classes of actions, each ‘proper to’ one nature or the other. I think that miracles are proper to His divine nature and hunger to His human nature. But we must remember that natures as such do not do anything. A nature is a collection of attributes (which don’t act)—only persons, who possess those attributes, act. Bottom line, it was Jesus Himself that did miracles and it was Jesus Himself who hungered. We should not say ‘His divine nature did so and so’, and ‘His human nature did so and so’. It was Jesus Himself acting or thinking, sometimes emphasizing one nature. His divine and human natures enabled Him to do/experience various things, but it was Jesus Himself (not His attributes or natures) who did them.

Is there a sense in which the two natures affect each other? This is difficult to answer. We need to remember that even in Jesus there is Creator/creature distinction-- more intimate than anywhere else in universe, but His divinity and humanity are distinct. The 2 natures cannot be changed or confused but they cannot be divided or separated either. They constitute one Person. In closing let me give an example. Jesus’ body (human nature) resides in heaven, and cannot (contrary to Lutheran sacramental theology) be omnipresent. His body cannot be ubiquitous. But Jesus is with us always, until the end of the age (Matt 28) because He is also divine. What a blessed and comforting mystery: Jesus is in heaven praying for us, and here with us personally. 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, August 21, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses Indian Wisdom

Vidyaloke Talk for All Citizens - Indian Wisdom and the Modern World

Bengaluru, India - This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned to the ballroom of the hotel where he is staying to address a packed audience of more than 1000. He was again given a traditional welcome, lit a lamp and paid his respects before the sacred images set up at the back of the stage. He scanned the faces of members of the audience and waved to them before he sat down. In his introduction Veer Singh referred to His Holiness as an extraordinary human being. He observed that when he hears people praise his simplicity, his joy, his childlike innocence, he reminds himself that His Holiness manifests these qualities because he is a spiritual practitioner.

“Good morning everybody, I hope you all got enough sleep so you won’t doze off and discourage me during my talk.” His Holiness teased the audience. “‘Ancient Wisdom in Modern India’ is one of my favourite subjects. Despite the material, technological and scientific developments we see around us, we are passing through an emotional crisis. I don’t think prayer alone is an effective way of stabilizing the community.

“More important is to bring about your own peace of mind. To do that requires knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions and an understanding of reality. What’s crucial is training the mind, for just as we value physical hygiene, we ought also to appreciate emotional hygiene.

“We can do this in a secular context, without bias towards any particular religious tradition. I use the word secular in the way it is understood in India to imply respect for all spiritual traditions, and even for the views of those who have no faith. Some of my western friends feel that the term implies disrespect for religion. Be that as it may, my concern is to see how individuals can become peaceful, joyful people regardless of their religious allegiance. And in this connection I believe that many elements of ancient Indian wisdom can be applied in practical and realistic way.

“Since all religious traditions involve human beings, they all convey a message related to human values like love and compassion. Theistic traditions base these on faith in a creator God. However, in this country, India, three traditions emerged that don’t found their practice on belief in God—a branch of the Samkhya Tradition, Jainism and Buddhism. They deal with consciousness and accept a succession of lives.”

His Holiness suggested that the memories some people have of their previous lives suggests there is something to remember. He mentioned two girls he has met, one in Patiala and another in Kanpur, who had clear and vivid memories of their previous lives. They each identified their previous family. Another case he cited involved a boy born in Tibet, who insisted to his parents that he belonged in India. They brought him to Dharamsala where he told them that he had lived in South India. When they brought him to Ganden monastery he was able to show them his old house, pointing to a box where they would find his glasses. American psychiatrist Ian Stevenson researched and collated many such stories from different parts of the world.

His Holiness observed that, particularly since the discovery of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, brain specialists have begun to acknowledge that there may be more to consciousness than being a mere function of the brain. According to Dharmakirti something that is not consciousness cannot give rise to consciousness, but his explanation is quite rough compared to modern knowledge of the function of the brain. His Holiness recalled mentioning to a scientist that if you are quiet, you can give rise to different emotions simply on the basis of thought. He conceded that that seemed to be what was happening, but didn’t necessarily accept it.

There are said to be levels of consciousness that differ according to their subtlety. The coarsest level of consciousness is our normal waking state, filled with sensory awareness. Subtler than that are the dream state, deep sleep state and what happens when we faint. Subtlest is the consciousness that manifests at the time of death.

For non-Buddhists the self has an important role in rebirth, but Buddhism refutes the existence of a permanent, single, autonomous self, stating that the self is designated on the basis of the five psycho-physical aggregates.

The Vaibhasikas or Particularists, the most basic of the four main Buddhist schools of thought, speak of things coming into being, enduring, decaying and disintegrating. Other schools speak of things changing from moment to moment and refer to a substantial cause and cooperative conditions. In terms of consciousness, the substantial cause must be a previous moment of consciousness.

His Holiness explained that the Vaibhasikas and Sautrantikas, or Sutra Followers, only speak of the selflessness of persons. The Chittamatrin, or Mind Only School, also accept the selflessness of phenomena, but they assert that nothing exists externally. They also assert that visual consciousness and its object, for example, are non-dual. They say a visual object appears as a result of imprints on the mind. This may help counter attachment to external things, but does little to counter a disturbing emotion like hatred that is part of our inner world.

His Holiness went on to state the Madhyamaka, or Middle Way, view that whether or not things exist externally, the mind has no intrinsic existence. In explaining the Perfection of Wisdom teachings, Nagarjuna emphasised dependent arising. His Holiness cited two verses from ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’:

That which is dependent origination
Is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.
There does not exist anything
That is not dependently arisen.
Therefore there does not exist anything
That is not empty.

To say form is empty is not to deny physical existence. Nagarjuna says that someone who is able to see dependent arising can understand the Four Noble Truths - true suffering, cause, cessation and path.

His Holiness clarified that the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths first and that the Perfection of Wisdom came later. Explained along with the Four Noble Truths were the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, which outline how suffering and its causes arise and how they can be ended.

His Holiness cited another verse from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ that he compared to what American psychiatrist Aaron Beck told him. Experience treating people with problems to do with anger has taught Beck that when we are angry we see the object or focus of our anger as 100% negative, but 90% of that feeling is just mental projection.

Through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is Liberation;
Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thoughts and
These come from mental fabrications.
Fabrication ceases through emptiness

The misconceptions that give rise to karma and mental afflictions come from mental fabrication—and that is ended through emptiness.

In his ‘Entry into the Middle Way’ (Madhyamakavatara), Chandrakirti establishes that no part of a chariot by itself is the chariot. This does not mean that there is no chariot, it functions and exists on a conventional level.

“We need to practise using our intelligence to the full,” His Holiness advised. “Thinking about emptiness is of immense help in weakening our destructive emotions. The two books I’ve mentioned, ‘Fundamental Wisdom’ and Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ are powerful weapons with which to challenge the inner enemy of self-centredness and defeat our destructive emotions. Compared to these, all the visualizations of deities and so on are relatively ineffective.

“This life can become meaningful, guaranteeing that the next life will be fortunate too. Since the teacher has spent a great deal of time on this, you can’t expect to make great achievements in a short time. You have to study, analyse and meditate on what you have learned.”

The audience responded with applause. In the last few minutes of the session His Holiness answered several questions from them. He talked about cultivating compassion. He expressed his approval of organ donation and moves to encourage vegetarianism. Asked how to make everyone happy, he answered, “First, smile.”

He reminded his listeners that the Buddha had been born a prince, but after becoming a monk he lived like a beggar. He noted that despite his education as a lawyer, Mahatma Gandhi also lived like a humble, lowly person.

Finally, a schoolboy told His Holiness that he had had to play the role of Dalai Lama in a school exercise and had learned a lot about His Holiness. Nevertheless, he wanted to ask him directly if he actually practises compassion and if so, how he does it. His Holiness repeated advice he gave yesterday about the value of carefully studying Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’.

“Read it and compare what it says to your own experience. And when you are acting as the Dalai Lama, don’t forget to smile and then smile some more.”

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

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.


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.


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:

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 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.