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 Blooming Stars

The Kingdom of God

             The principle of double-law (not doing the good I want, and doing the evil I do not want (Romans, 7:19) in Christianity and the strong tendency to sin (papa vasana) – the arch enemy of humans - in Hinduism (Bhagavad Gita, III: 36) are supposed to keep humans away from holiness. In Buddhism it is the desire for attaining what cannot be attained that militates against holiness and ultimately nirvana, the final goal. For Christians the tendency to sin comes from the belief of original sin that allhumans partake in. For Hindus the tendency to sin comes from the belief of accumulated bad actions coming from past births. Christians accepting Christ through baptism as savior, and disposing themselves for grace through ongoing repentance and confession prepare for salvation and afterlife with God in beatific vision.

            Hindus through good actions break the chain of re-births, move from ignorance or nescience (avidya) to true knowledge and wisdom (vidya), and finally merge with God (Paramatman). Buddhists learning to desire only what can be attained, neither more nor less, through the eight-fold path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration wipe away the karmic accumulations of the past, become Buddhas (enlightened ones), and achieve nirvana. Christians achieve their salvation in one life. Hindus and Buddhists require many rebirths or lives to realize their liberation (moksha or mukti).

            The most interesting thing is that holiness to which everyone is called to, and that is actually everyone’s birthright, has become exceedingly difficult and almost impossible for us to achieve because of convoluted thinking and consequent intricate and complex belief systems that have been constructed, that have programmed humans, and that ordinary believers do not even dare to question. In earlier years, questioning or mere doubting an article of faith or a religious dogma could land a person in grave trouble such as serious discriminations, ostracism, or even loss of life. Inquisition instituted in the dark middle Ages by the magisterium (teaching authority) of the Catholic Church is an instance of a grave blot on humanity that resulted in the loss of many lives. In Fyodor Dostoeveskiy’s Grand Inquisitor (from the famous novel, Brothers Karamazov: Book V) Christ revisits earth during the period of Inquisition and is arrested as a heretic by the Grand Inquisitor, a cardinal. Christ, suspected of heresy, is examined for the purity and orthodoxy of Christian doctrine and teaching.

            In theocratic societies ruled by Muslims, not having the “right or correct belief” or religious practices can end up in public flogging, mutilation of limbs, or even execution. Socrates was condemned to death by his society for his convictions. He was accused of corrupting the youth of his day by what is famously known today as the Socratic Method. Christ in his days was condemned by the high priest in his society for the announcement of the Kingdom of God. Gandhi was first ostracized by his religious community for crossing the ocean going to England for studies to become a barrister, and then assassinated by the religious fanatics for the principles and values that he stood for. Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot dead for preaching racial justice. Not long ago a low caste person could have been instantly killed for coming close to a caste person. In olden days, and perhaps even now, for a believer the life of a Kafir (infidel) or pagan had no use. Freedom to choose and make decisions, the most distinguishing and the most precious endowment given to humans by God, is the right that has been trampled upon, in my view, the most. There is no greater travesty of truth than this.

 

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