It is unknown in the Hindu and occult systems, but it occupies a central place in Christianity. Christianity teaches that God created man for immortal life. If there had been no original sin, it would not have been necessary to save man. The effects of sin were so destructive that the Son of God had to come into the world and become man to atone for the sins of mankind. All of us inherit the contagion of sin with all its deadly effects. We are in no condition to free ourselves from sin and to restore ourselves to eternal life by our own personal efforts. If our Lord Jesus Christ had not redeemed our sins on the Cross, we would all be condemned to eternal death, which means not the annihilation of the soul, but rather its consignment to darkness and everlasting torment.
Now, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, the way to salvation is open to everyone. The Blood Which He shed on the Cross serves to cleanse us from sin and to renew our souls. This process is not automatic, however. A personal effort of the will is necessary to believe in Christ, to accept His teachings and to live as a Christian. The concept of salvation is a subject too broad to be treated in detail here.
It is something far greater than a return to the primal bliss of Eden, because it is accompanied by the spiritualization and transfiguration of man and of the whole physical world. Corruption will be swallowed up by incorruption, and the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Blessedness and happiness will correspond to the moral level which one has attained during his earthly life. This is why Christianity calls upon us to multiply the talents which we have been given and to increase our spiritual treasure.
One who sows generously will reap a rich harvest, while one who sows sparingly will also reap a more meager harvest. Hinduism and occultism have a completely different view of the purpose of human life.
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Since they reject original sin and personal immortality, they also reject the necessity of salvation. They devote all their attention to self-development, using various methods of yoga and meditation. Eastern religions regard this as the highest bliss. But, we may ask, what bliss is there when one is unaware of it? How does such "bliss" differ from death? From a Christian point of view, these are word games. In the area of morality, while Christianity draws a very clear and plain distinction between evil and good, these are only relative notions in Hinduism and occultism.
Their moral relativism is a logical consequence of the idea of monism which is fundamental to them: All is one. Of course, in the literature of Hinduism and Theosophy, as in that of any religion, one can read many fine thoughts about virtue; one can find many good counsels and inspirational exhortations. This cannot be credited to their doctrinal system; it is a result of that common sense and inclination to good which God has placed in heart of every man. Everyone, even if he knows nothing about God and the Bible, feels a natural revulsion for vice and gravitates to a life of virtue.
When one becomes more familiar with the philosophy of Hinduism, it becomes apparent that good and evil are relative and subjective concepts. What is regarded as evil by some can lead to good on another level. They are different but completely equal aspects of the Prime Reality; they are both essential for the balance of life and the harmony of the universe. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as sin or vice.
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Neither is there any basic difference between virtuous people and the wicked, between saints and criminals. It is all temporary karma, which will be grist for the mill of reincarnation and will finally be dissolved in the boundless sea of the Prime Reality. Consequently, man is not responsible for his actions; he is only a little wheel in the mechanism of the universe. He may view his actions as being good or evil, but this is only an illusion.
Buddhism went on to work out methods for deliverance from this illusion. Given such an understanding of "salvation," all the practices of the Eastern religions must needs have a completely different content and goal than in Christianity. In place of prayer as living communion with a personal God, they encourage the development of telepathic contact with mahatmas souls and gurus, travel in the astral plane, the repetition of mantras, summoning up spirits, etc. J ust as the idea of salvation holds a central place in Christianity , so also the coming of the Saviour into the world is regarded as a unique and unrepeatable event.
The Only-begotten Son of God clothed Himself in our human nature in order to renew it, and, what is more, to make man a sharer of His divine nature.
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For this reason He ascended into heaven with His transfigured flesh, so that He always remains the God-Man. His fellowship with the human race, His teaching and His personal example, and finally His redemptive suffering on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection from the dead are all inseparable aspects of one great work, the salvation of mankind. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to earth a second time, it will not be to teach or to save, but rather to judge the world and to render to every man according to his deeds.
The teachings of Hinduism and occultism are willing to accept Christ as, at best, one of the avatars , the materializations of Vishnu, i. Although the god of Hinduism is impersonal, he sometimes "becomes incarnate" and assumes the appearance of a man. Such a divine-human being is called an avatar. Followers of Krishna refer to the Bhagavad Gita, which describes a succession of incarnations of deities, supposedly numbering around twenty-one, whereas the Lord Jesus Christ by His one Incarnation came into our world and accomplished the redemption of mankind.
As an example, the god Vishnu, who is responsible for the preservation of the universe, becomes incarnate in the form of Narayana, as the prototype of all the avatars. Thus, Hinduism affirms, "As an infinite number of rivers are born through evaporation and rain from the ocean, which never dries up, so are the incarnations of the Lord without number. Each successive avatar is accorded widespread veneration among Hindus.
Since he is one with the deity, he possesses supernatural power, siddhi , which places him above the laws of karma. His coming to the world is viewed as an act of love. While dwelling in a body, he can display human emotions, but his own spiritual state reaches beyond the boundaries of time and space maya. In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna declares, "I am prince over the demons.
Saint Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, says of the final avatar the Antichrist , "[His] coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" 2 Thess. Christianity teaches that, although we are sinful and stubborn, God never stops caring for us, as a good father cares for his children.
Not only is the totality of our life under His control; He also directs every detail of our life for our benefit. If only we did not resist Him, if only we behaved ourselves as His obedient children, there would be no evil on earth; the earthly life of each one of us would end in eternal happiness in His heavenly kingdom. Men perish only because God does not violate their free will; He does not compel them to believe in Him or to live a righteous life. When we ask God for guidance and help, He has the power to alter the natural course of events and even to do that which is impossible according to human understanding.
In other words, our life is defined not so much by external factors as by our own free will and the Providence of God. The teachings of Hinduism and occultism , which do not believe in a personal God, subject all things to blind cosmic processes. Since there is no higher Reason or Will, and our freedom is an illusion , everything is controlled by fate ; therefore, those who accept the ideas of Hinduism and occultism believe in fate and in astrology. To decipher their future they turn to horoscopes, fortune-telling, card-reading and all kinds of omens.
To justify their belief in the zodiac they cite the influence of the moon over the ebb and flow of the tides and on when seeds sprout and how people feel. We do not dispute the fact that the stars and the moon can influence us to some degree, just as the seasons of the year, the temperature, humidity and a million other internal and external factors influence us; however, they can only influence, while everything is governed by God.
The Christian faith, therefore, teaches us always to turn to God our Saviour for guidance and help. Prayer can accomplish even the impossible, as we know from a multitude of examples. Christianity prepares believers for the Second Coming of Christ, which will take place at the end of the existence of the physical world. When He comes to the earth, the Lord will raise the dead, and then He will pass judgement on all people and demons; all will be dealt with according to their deeds.
The earth and everything on it will be consumed by fire, but God will make "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" 2 Pet. At that time some will enter into eternal life, while others will inherit eternal damnation together with the devil and his angels. The Sacred Scriptures foretell that the time before the end of the world will be a time of apostasy from Christianity, with evil becoming much stronger. A multitude of false prophets will appear and will draw people to their pernicious teachings.
Faith will weaken among men, and they will give themselves to all sorts of vices, while following all kinds of occult practices and worshipping demons. His government will enjoy success because it will exercise the closest control over people. Christianity will be persecuted as an unfounded, outmoded and fanatical religion; the time will come when believers will become confessors of the faith and martyrs.
The moral degradation of humanity will be accompanied by a universal social and personal decline. There will be all-consuming wars and lethal epidemics, famine, earthquakes, "the sea and the waves roaring" and "the powers of heaven shall be shaken" Lk. Fortunately, the rule of Antichrist will not last for long. The Lord Jesus Christ will put an end to him, and will "consume [him] with the spirit of His mouth" 2 Thess.
The teachings of Hinduism and occultism look at the last times in quite a different way. They paint the coming of the great Avatar in the most glowing colors. Supposedly this great messiah and ruler will bring the world tolerance, prosperity, peace and order. With his coming to earth there will begin a new and happy age, paradise on earth. Thus, Hindu and occult teachings confront every aspect of the Christian faith with something of their own, which seems to resemble Christianity but is actually very different.
One who is not trained in theology may have difficulty in distinguishing truth from fiction. Nevertheless, if one turns to the heavenly Father with all his being, he will have a lively feeling of His presence and the warmth of His love in the prayer of the heart. This interior experience will convince him that God is a living Person, One with Whom we can talk, One Who receives our prayers, enlightens our understanding and helps us in our difficulties. In such a living experience of God all the cleverly constructed concepts of Hinduism and occultism fall apart like a house of cards.
Between Christianity and Eastern Religions. God is a personal being, the Creator, Lawgiver and Judge, Who dwells outside of time and space. He is all-perfect and not subject to any processes of evolution or change. The world is not eternal; it was created out of nothing by God, along with time, space and the energy which fills it. God rules over the world and the life of every man. If we obediently follow His will, nothing bad will happen to us, and our heavenly Father will bring us to eternal life. Time is linear.
The creation of the world, the creation of man, the Incarnation of the Son of God and His work of redeeming mankind, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgement and everlasting life are unique and unrepeatable events. Man is a bipartite being, in which soul and body are joined in an everlasting union, which is only temporarily disrupted by death. Man, with his personality and self-awareness, is unique and immortal. Sin is a terrible moral evil, which has done harm to our nature. God is the sole source of religious truth.
Through His prophets and apostles God has taught man what to believe and how to live. These divinely-revealed truths are contained in the Bible. Christ is the Son of God, Who once became incarnate. He is the only Saviour. He will always remain the God-Man. Salvation means that man attains eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a righteous life. The resurrection of the dead will be accomplished by Jesus Christ at the end of the existence of this present world.
Afterwards, everyone will receive what he has deserved, either eternal reward or eternal punishment. It is inadmissible to invent new doctrines. God is an impersonal energy, the prime reality, which goes through stages of birth, development and decline. The world and "God" are the same thing. From all eternity the world goes through cycles of birth, evolution and decay. Fate, destiny and the action of blind cosmic forces determine life of man. He is just a pitiful speck of dust in the cosmic mechanism.
Time is cyclical. The processes of the origin of the world, its evolution and its destruction are ever being repeated. Worlds appear only to be destroyed again. The soul is a temporary condition. After may reincarnations it will be dissolved in nirvana, losing its personality. Divine revelation does not exist. Christ is one of avatars, on a level with Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, Mohammed and others. There is no idea of salvation. The goal of life is self-perfection by following a regimen of yoga and meditation. Multiple reincarnations of the soul will finally end in its being dissolved in the ocean of the Prime Reality nirvana.
A guru is an independent authority, a sort of divinity, who commands complete and unquestioning obedience. If we cast aside the external and unimportant terminology, the state of which we speak may be characterized as a type of trance. With repetition and practice it becomes a condition of spiritual delusion or deception, subject to the activity of unclean spirits. All the Hindu and occult systems present men with an invitation to spiritual enlightenment, but in order to obtain it, they first require the rejection of human reason as a criterion.
It is paradoxical that these systems which above all pretend to reveal the eternal mysteries of our existence declare reason and logic to be the enemies of interior experience, obstacles to spiritual enlightenment. Along with reason they also reject all spiritual authority, including that of objective divine revelation and the experience of Christian saints. Afterwards, whey they have come to, they smile sweetly and suggest, "Try it, and you will be convinced.
The Christian view is that any subjective perception must be tested against the positive authority of the Scriptures and the spiritual experience of the Church. Spiritual enlightenment is state which is familiar to many righteous people. They are unanimous in warning against actively attempting to acquire mystical enlightenment or to evoke it by any sort of method.
It is necessary for man to be cleansed of sin through repentance, to purify his heart which has been soiled by passions and to go humbly towards God — this is the first and most important task of the Christian life. True spiritual enlightenment comes from God, when He is pleased to bestow it. It is as if the world and everything around him no longer existed and time stood still. In this state man feels an ineffable inner peace and compunction.
All the faculties of his soul — reason, perception and will — are brought into a wonderful harmony, and his heart is afire with filial love for God. There is not a trace of that sickly-sweet self-exaltation, that sense of superiority or divinity, which is felt by those who experience occult mystical "enlightenment. Reason is not rejected, but rather enriched by a deeper understanding of these truths. In order to preserve us from putting our trust in ourselves and becoming proud, God ordinarily seems to hide from us the awareness of the presence of His light. Not only do Hindu and occult religions not guard man against deception by the demons; they even recommend and encourage methods which lead to it.
The various exercises of Yoga and meditation offer to free man from the bonds of the flesh and to unite him with the Prime Reality. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that they have opened wide the door which allows the spirits of another world to penetrate the subconscious mind. While it is true that those who have attained mystical enlightenment by occult methods experience extraordinary ecstasy and have a sense of their own divinity, this is an unhealthy and very dangerous state, reminiscent of the narcotic effect of drugs.
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In the following table we shall summarize the differences between the Christian and the occult understanding of spirituality. Man was created for blessedness, but in his present state, under the harmful effects of sin, he is in need of healing. What is most important is to believe in God, to turn to Him in repentance and to undertake a righteous life. The fullness of blessedness and communion with God is reserved for the life to come. The sacraments of Baptism, Confession and Holy Communion cleanse man from his sins and renew his spiritual nature, gradually making him a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer is a conversation with God. Its most important elements are sincerity and attention, in which both mind and heart are directed towards God. In prayer one should not seek a state of exaltation, but rather spiritual healing and strength for a life of virtue. Prayer and meditation on things divine always shine light upon the soul, although God usually does not allow us to feel the full joy of this spiritual light, lest we become proud. Faith and repentance are unnecessary. Anyone can experience bliss whenever he wants.
One must concentrate on an imagined object in such a way as to become one with it. Mystical enlightenment, being the result of a trance and demonic deception, creates a sense of superiority and inner power. Spiritual enlightenment only becomes perceptible in exceptional circumstances, as a gift sent from God. His heart is filled with unutterable peace and love for God, and the visible world seems to cease to exist. In true spiritual enlightenment the truths of the Christian faith become clear and important.
Prayer always requires inner effort and concentration and hence it is not without labor, even for those who have dedicated themselves to the spiritual life. Therefore, prayer, like all of the Christian life, is the "narrow way which leadeth to life. It is always possible to reach mystical enlightenment by following psychic techniques. He is happy because he himself is a god.
Yogic meditation teaches enervation, not thinking about anything. Thus, it is clear that Christian prayer and meditation on things divine, on the one hand, and the Oriental methods of yoga and meditation, on the other, are two completely different paths. They go in opposite directions and lead to completely different results. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" Matt.
C hrist came to save us from the power of the devil and from slavery to sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" John In the sacrament of Baptism man casts off the chains of vice and receives from Christ the power to wage war against his evil inclinations. It is only necessary to enter decisively into combat with sin and to begin to lead a spiritual life to pray, to repent, to receive Holy Communion and to ask God for help.
Note that in the process of overcoming his faults man grows and becomes stronger. This process of interior growth contains the purpose of our earthly life. They promise a complete cure for such serious afflictions as alcoholism, smoking, drug addiction, obesity, excessive sexual desire, etc. Although there is some diversity in their methods, these healers use psychic coding, in which the concentrated energy of the healer brings about an occult effect on the mind of the patient.
This coding, like other occult experiences, requires complete openness, passive attention and unconditional trust in the "healer. What must be understood is that such "healing" can actually be much worse than the illness for which a cure was sought. With their occult methods psychics and hypnotists break down the defenses of the human soul, which protect it from the dark world of the demons.
In its effects this "coding" or psychic healing is like a surgical lobotomy, whereby the prefrontal lobe of the cortex of the brain in a patient is removed. While this surgical procedure removes that part of the brain which controls violent behaviour in psychiatric patients, it also irretrievably excises other higher abilities like sharpness of intellect, emotions, creative aptitudes, and, in particular, the ability to believe in God, to pray, and to lead a Christian life although, if the patient did not lead a spiritual life before the operation, he will probably not even notice the loss of some of his spiritual capabilities.
Kiev: Sophia Particularly sinister were the "coding" seances of Yuri Krivonogov, who worked out a method of "psychotropic" hypnosis, with which he turned hundreds of members of the "White Brotherhood" into walking zombies. This tragic episode was widely reported in the Russian and Ukrainian press in Though there is certainly much room for fraud in this area, there is always a danger of interference from unseen spirits.
For protection from such spirits and from all kinds of spells and charms, the only remedy is the grace of the Holy Spirit , which a faithful Christian receives in the Church, free of charge. A believing Christian should stop being afraid of spells or the "evil eye" and turn wholeheartedly to God for protection and help, by means of prayer, thoughtful reading of the word of God, repentance, regular e. If this is done, then no attack of evil spirits will have any success. H induism arose before B. Since then it has undergone many stages of evolution and division.
The Aryan conquerors brought with them Vedism, a religion of many different gods, whose number was always increasing. These Aryans believed in the transmigration of souls and practiced rites of purification by fire and the cremation of the dead. At first the pagan beliefs of the Aryans were handed down orally, but by B.
This collection of texts made a deep impression on the religious and philosophical development of later Hinduism. Many of the deities of ancient Hinduism, beings of very questionable morality, became the patrons of various sadistic practices and sexual perversion. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls gave rise to the Indian caste system.
Beginning with the sixth century B.
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Hindu asceticism developed in this period, and great authority was given to the guru, or religious teacher. As the basic principles of contemporary Hinduism took shape, primitive pagan polytheism began to be replaced by a principle of monism, according to which everything, including God and the world, are in essence one and the same thing.
This pantheistic idea became a foundation of Hinduism, its cardinal belief. Earthly life came to be regarded as an unceasing series of migrations of the soul sansara , or metempsychosis , and the goal of life was to be liberated from the punishing law of karma. This idea is the basis for the Brahmanic branch of Hinduism. At about the same time Buddhism arose as a reaction against the abuses of the Brahmanic caste system. The latest stage in the development of Hinduism began after the appearance of Christianity.
The literature of the Vedas acquired the importance of sacred scripture, and the religious philosopher Sankara elaborated the idea of maya , according to which all objects and events which we see are an illusion. Asceticism became even more severe, and the awareness of moral duty dharma became part of the way to liberation from the phantom-like nature of the world and union with "the One.
Throughout its entire history Hinduism avoided proselytism or missionary work; however, beginning in the s it started to branch out to the USA when Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of the Indian reformer Ramakrishna, established the Vedanta Society in New York. Many contemporary sects, cults and Eastern religious groups, including Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Christian Science, Freemasonry, Bahai and Scientology, are full of Hindu ideas.
The Vedic literature is a compilation of very diverse religious and philosophical materials, along with a national epic. The first part of the Vedas, the Rig Veda, contains hymns, directions concerning sacrifices, legends and prayers, filled with the spirit of Hindu polytheism. The second part of the Vedas, the Upanishads or Vedanta, which appeared later, holds the religious-philosophical world-view of Hinduism.
While ancient Hinduism included a countless multitude of deities of all sorts, in time they came to be regarded as diverse manifestations of a single principle. The Indian statement, "Brahman is one, and there is no other beside it," seemingly sounds like a confession of monotheism. Brahman, however, is not a transcendental personal Being, but rather a principle which forms the foundation of being. Out of the many ancient pagan deities, three acquired particular importance in Hinduism.
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Brahman came to be seen as the creator-god, Vishnu as the preserver-god, and Shiva as the destroyer-god. In this there is nothing resembling the Christian Trinity, since all three gods are representations of the one impersonal first principle of existence. At the same time, Vishnu was credited with the ability to become incarnate and take on a human form. Since the world consists of pure energy, the materiality of objects is simply an illusion on our part.
Just as a dream exists in the imagination of one who is asleep, our world is a kind of dream of the deity. God is the soul of the world Mahatma , and every individual soul atman is his representation. Hinduism attaches great importance to karma and the transmigration of souls, as we have already noted. From Hinduism this teaching has been carried over into Theosophy, the New Age movement and other Eastern cults. Hinduism does not offer one single method for salvation. One who is not enlightened is compelled to be reincarnated thousands of times before he can attain rest in nirvana.
The existence of heaven and hell is not denied, but they are not considered to be final destinations; they are only transitional stages in the cycles of reincarnation. Since man is a part of the world-soul and therefore a "god," sin is merely an illusion. Feelings of guilt and moral responsibility before a higher Judge are ideas of the superstitious masses.
Vivekananda said, "Sin is to consider someone a sinner. The goal of life, with its many reincarnations, is nirvana - union with Brahman and dissolution in him, or, in other words, the annihilation of personal existence, which is equivalent to eternal death. This is declared to be the highest bliss. While every religion has its own hierarchy and system of government, Hinduism has complete anarchy. Hinduism may find expression in most diverse forms of ritual, from those that are lofty and spiritual to some which are vulgar and cruel.
In some branches of Hinduism one encounters complete aversion to any shedding of blood, while others feature the most bloody types of sacrificial offerings. Hinduism runs the gamut from the strictest asceticism to the wildest depravity. It does not have a common moral code or a standardized form of worship. This saying very accurately conveys the essence of Hinduism as the most changeable and adaptable false religion of mankind. Hinduism does not deny the truth of any other religion, because it considers everything to be one.
Over its long existence Hinduism has absorbed very different beliefs, and has become filled with contradictions, but this does not bother its adherents at all. Despite the amorphous and adaptable character of Hinduism we must not think that it has no dogmas. Its very all-inclusiveness and tolerance spring from its cardinal principle: all is one. This is the basis for all the peculiarities of Hinduism: its diversity, the contradictions of its religious-philosophical ideas and the absence of definite moral norms.
B uddhism sprang from the soil of Hinduism and inherited many elements from it. As with Hinduism, it has no organization and no definite body of doctrine. It is even arguable whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy. Its founder, Buddha, did not consider his ideas to constitute a religion. He did not accept any gods, any doctrines, any beliefs. All the elements of Buddhism, all its rituals, practices, philosophy and art, have as their goal the elimination of the illusion that man exists. Not only man, but everything else in the universe is believed to lack solid content; everything is an illusion.
For this reason whatever Buddhism teaches is usually phrased in negative terms.
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Buddhism is a philosophy of pessimism. Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama B. Much of what we know about him is legendary. It is said that he was a wealthy Indian prince, whose parents tried from his infancy to surround him only with everything pleasant and beautiful. When he grew older and left the palace for the first time, he saw how other people lived, and he was shaken by scenes of extreme poverty and suffering.
Soon afterwards he renounced his wealth, left his wife and children and went off to wander around as a beggar, in search of the truth. Once, when he was in a state of deep meditation, he was struck with the thought that the thirst for life is the cause of all human suffering. If one could eliminate all desire, suffering would cease. Having understood this, he devoted the rest of his life to developing and preaching his idea.
He came to be called Buddha, meaning "the enlightened one," because he had received this enlightenment. Buddha preached against the caste system of his country and taught that all people are equal before God. He encouraged charity and compassion. He called upon all to become monks, because only monks are able to live a life of hardship, so necessary for "enlightenment. Buddha said nothing about a future life, because he thought that such a thing had no relation to reality.
He viewed the ultimate goal of existence as nirvana, a condition of complete rest, free from all thoughts, feelings and desires. This condition he called blessedness. In B. This collection is known as the Tipitaka. The active missionary work of the Indian ruler Asoka - B. Questions about God, the origin of the world and of man and other purely "abstract" matters did not interest Buddha. The point of departure for his system is an analysis of a very practical problem : What causes suffering, and how can one be freed from it?
Buddha laid down four cardinal truths as the foundation of his teaching: 1 Suffering fills all aspects of human life, from birth to death. If one follows the eightfold path indicated by Buddha, he can avoid the law of karma and the fruitless cycles of reincarnation. When freed from all desires, man is finally immersed in the "blessed" state of nirvana ; in other words, his life is extinguished. While the basic idea of Buddhism is extremely simple, the rules for the "path" are very numerous and complex, so that to learn them requires a lifetime.
This fact makes Buddhism the most complex and paradoxical system that exists. Self-mastery is a central theme of Buddhism. Everything that occurs is viewed as a result of "restlessness," "worry" or "ignorance" in the transcendental consciousness of the Absolute Principle. Such "restlessness" is something negative, something which should not exist. One who "learns the truth" that existence should not exist, because it contradicts the essence of the Absolute Principle, has found the path to peace and to ultimate repose in nirvana.
Buddhism preaches a decisive rejection of this world. Its ideal is the annihilation of personal existence. In this respect it is directly opposed to Christianity, for which personhood is the most important thing about man. The Buddhist sage puts all his efforts not into discovering the positive side of existence or into finding the truth, but rather into unmasking the illusory and deceptive nature of life. In this endeavour, partly philosophical, partly mystical, he is always striving to lessen the intensity of existence and to do away with it completely.
Thus his goal is not spiritual growth, as in Christianity, but spiritual extinction. Buddhism regards virtue as a passing phenomenon, which even becomes a hindrance at the higher stages of perfection, since all acts performed in this present life inevitably lead to a new reincarnation. The concept of the Fall and the problem of evil do not figure in Buddhism.
It teaches that "evil must exist along with good, just as light and darkness, pleasure and pain; otherwise, order loses its meaning without chaos, just as the higher is inconceivable without the lower, or pleasure without pain. Since it rejects the idea of a Creator and regards the world as evil, Buddhist philosophy introduces evil into the Absolute itself.
When some incomprehensible "restlessness" or worry arise in the Absolute, it engenders our insignificant" world, which deserves only to be annihilated. Buddhism offers meditation in place of prayer and mystical enlightenment in place of communion with God. In time Buddhism split into two main branches: one more liberal - the Mahayana, meaning great wheel, with a wide path to salvation; the other more conservative - the Theravada, the path of the holy man, of the few. These branches are so different from each other that they could be regarded as different religions.
It emphasizes the ritual side of the Buddhist religion, with the burning of incense, magical ceremonies and occult rituals. The statues of Buddha are accorded divine honor, and a multitude of deities are worshipped. The Tibetan form of Mahayana Buddhism is the most occult of all.
It has a ruling class of priests, the lamas, whose function is to study and interpret the philosophical aspects of Buddhism. It encourages a contemplative mode of life, a life of peacefulness lived at a slow rhythm. Man is called to bring himself into harmony with nature. Its basis is the teachings of the Tipitaka, which invite man to follow a monastic life.
One should dedicate his whole life to Buddhism. The goal of existence is nirvana. The chief virtue is wisdom. The Theravada school avoids ritual and prefers meditation. The idea of God as a personal reality is completely absent. For Zen logical analysis is taboo. It is impossible for one man to teach another anything, and it is equally impossible to learn anything from another.
Each man must free himself from preconceived notions and from the opinions of others. Zen rejects all doctrines and religions. It regards miracles and supernatural phenomena as mirages and illusions. It teaches that reality possesses no objective content; there is only subjective perception. The written word can be useful in the beginning, as an aid to meditation.
Enlightenment is good, but it is not a goal, since Zen insists that it has no goal. What is important is not the future, but only that which is taking place now. Zen believes that human intuition is infallible, and rejects any other authority. Zen recommends self-development by means of intensive exercises of meditation, which is practiced several hours a day. When one meditates, he must free his mind from any attachment to things earthly, not thinking about either evil or good.
The important thing is to concentrate on one thought, fully fathoming its content. All that a man can know comes to him from within. It is most important to feel that one is an organic part of the Whole. At such a moment one experiences a spontaneous state of "enlightenment," which is believed to be the highest form of bliss. In fact, hallucinations and visions of demons are a common result of Zen meditation.
Zen doctrine is chaotic; it affirms nothing and denies nothing; it only shows "the way. Thus it excludes any object of worship, along with sacred Scripture, rites and ceremonies. It does not recognize either virtue or vice, since it considers them to be the fruit of subjective perception. Zen is entirely centered on man and his feeling of well-being; all that goes on around him is unimportant. Zen makes an impression on those who detest dogma and authority. Probably for this reason it is attractive to some contemporary intellectuals, who have had their fill of the incessant stream of soulless information.
There are about million Buddhists. It is the fourth largest religion in the world in terms of numbers. In the U. Modern Buddhism is filled with occultism, magic and contact with the spirit world. Buddhism attracts people by its non-dogmatic character and the ease with which it coexists with various other religions. Esoteric Buddhism invites its adepts to rise above love and hate, good and evil. For such a Buddhist love is as dangerous as hatred, because it chains him to the revolving wheel of this world.
The only state worthy of him is alienation and indifference. At the highest levels of Buddhism it is believed that good and evil, as moral categories, simply do not exist. They belong to the sphere of existence, and the Buddhist must eliminate from himself any desire for existence. Christianity, on the contrary, does not look on desire as evil.
God Himself placed in us a longing to be creative, to improve ourselves, to take joy in life. The problem is that sin has upset the original balance between physical and spiritual desires, and the soul, which should be the master of the body, has become its slave. We have confused the proper hierarchy of values, so that we often strive for the wrong things, even for things which are harmful to us, while we neglect the things that are truly valuable, such as communion with God and our interior life.
Christian life has as its goal to help us to order our thoughts and desires aright and to direct all our efforts towards the attainment of eternal life. T heosophy is a complex mixture of various occult teachings, both ancient and modern, combining Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Kabbala and medieval mysticism with an admixture of Buddhism and filling it out with the fantasies of its foundress, Helen Blavatsky. Theosophy beckons to them with its lofty-sounding catch-phrases: to found a universal brotherhood which will unite people of all races and beliefs; to encourage the study of religion, philosophy and the latest scientific discoveries; to explore the mysterious forces of nature and paranormal phenomena.
While it uses some Christian terminology, Theosophy is thoroughly grounded in a pantheistic world-view. Its ethical teaching rejects the absolute quality of principles of good and evil and free will. It agrees with Hinduism in seeing its followers as subject to the laws of karma. It makes quasi-scientific statements, but these are completely unproven, and rely entirely on the unsubstantiated testimony of its own leaders, who are full of unhealthy mysticism, charlatanism and trick "miracles. Although in numerical terms the Theosophical lodges were never very large, their ideas exerted a powerful influence on the world-view of the upper classes in pre-revolutionary Russia.
Now these ideas have been freely borrowed by various occult societies, especially those of the "new Age" movement. The foundress of Theosophy, Helen Petrovna Blavatsky, was born in Russia in to a family named Hahn, which was of the gentry and of German origin. From her childhood she displayed mediumistic abilities, which led her to be interested in spiritualism. At the age of 17 she was married to an elderly general, Nikolai Blavatsky; the marriage only lasted three months.
After her divorce Blavatsky travelled widely, visiting India and Tibet. Later, in her Theosophical writings, she asserted that during her travels she came into contact with higher bodiless beings, the mahatmas, who revealed to her the mysteries of existence. In she arrived in New York and took up the practice of spiritualism.
In , together with Col. Henry Olcott, she founded her Theosophical Society, which is still in existence. Three years later she again visited India, where, in , together with Olcott, she established the international headquarters of Theosophy in Adyar. When she was publicly exposed as a fraud, she had to leave India, and she began travelling around Europe, tirelessly spreading her occult ideas.
Mme Blavatsky finally settled in London. The Society publicly accused her of resorting to sorcerous practices, using hypnotism and charlatanism. Although her authority was undermined, Blavatsky did not give up. She continued to expend much effort in writing and disseminating her ideas. On closer acquaintance it becomes apparent that she borrowed much from older occult literature, particularly from the Kabbala.
Her major works are the Secret Doctrine and the Voice of Silence. The well-known author Vsevolod Soloviev, who knew Mme Blavatsky very well, accused her of trickery and dishonesty see his work "A Contemporary Priestess of Isis". Mme Blavatsky was short and plump, with a wide-eyed stare, and was known for her eccentric behavior.
Early in life she turned away from the Orthodox faith in which she had been baptized, and she bitterly hated Christianity, so that she devoted all her energy to overthrowing Christian ideas and establishing occultism in their place. In her youth she edited a publication called "Lucifer," whose purpose was to rehabilitate that fallen spirit, and to this, her first love, she remained faithful throughout her life. She was married several times, had various lovers and gave birth to a child out of wedlock.
She was rowdy, frequently used vulgar language, smoked constantly and used narcotics hashish. From the point of view of psychology she represents a complex case of split personality.
This lady guru died in London in After her death Olcott continued to lead the Theosophical Society. It went into a decline, but William Judge was able to give it a new lease on life. She also led the esoteric branch of the Theosophical Society, which specialized in magic and spiritualism. Theosophical lodges, though not numerous, are in existence till the present day in various cities of Europe and America. Now many of the ideas of Theosophy have been adopted by the New Age movement. The same ideas are also held by the Liberal Catholic Church. It is rather difficult to examine and refute the ideas of Theosophy one by one, because they are extremely confused.
Basically, Theosophy is built upon fantasies and unsupported statements. The brazen fictitiousness of these statements knows no limit other than the imagination of the "prophets" of occult teachings. Like the Neoplatonists and Gnostics of the first centuries of Christianity, Theosophy teaches that the sacred books of all religions contain a single secret doctrine, which runs through them all like a red thread. It is only necessary to discover this secret doctrine, and then the unity of all religions will become apparent.
This assertion is, of course, groundless. The Christian Bible holds no secret doctrine. In fact, everything in it is laid out very clearly, so that even simple people can understand the word of God and have a sound foundation for their life. The world is eternal; it periodically goes through cyclical phases of birth, growth and death, in order to appear once again in a new form.
The souls of all people are part of a universal soul which fills all things. The world contains a large number of gods, spirits devas who have a complex hierarchy, based on the numerical correlations of Kabbalism. As in Hinduism, the "God" of Theosophy has a definitely abstract character. He is impersonal and completely passive in relation to the destinies of mankind. Following the ancient Gnostics, Theosophy also ascribes to the Deity a feminine principle, called Sophia wisdom. Theosophy elaborates on the Hindu doctrine, teaching about the day and night of Brahman.
At the entry of Brahman the day , the universe appears, and small particles of Brahman, the "egos" of human beings, are clothed in various bodies, physical, astral, mental, etc. This is what we know as life. At the departure of Brahman the night , everything is destroyed, and human "egos" are once again dissolved in Brahman. And this goes on for ever; worlds arise and are destroyed in an endless closed cycle. Deities, spirits and the souls of men emanate like the Gnostic aeons from the infinite and unknowable Reality. The world and those in it must pass through seven stages of evolution?!
Needless to say, all these assertions are completely arbitrary. While Theosophy is not officially opposed to Christianity, it considers it to be a lower form of religious awareness. Just as in Freemasonry the lower ranks are allowed to profess Christianity, but the higher degrees must join the "true" religion, so also in Theosophy only those who are in the lowest stages of knowledge may go to church and keep Christian customs. Mme Blavatsky bombastically declared, "Truth is higher than religion. She encouraged the study of all religions, contact with them and drawing on their experiences. Theosophy bypasses asceticism, replacing it with contemplative mysticism and the independent study of religious-philosophical ideas.
It insists that one who has learned the methods of Theosophy will be able to penetrate the mysteries of the Egyptian priests and the secrets of the Chaldean astrologers; he will drink deeply of the wisdom of all the ages. Theosophy promises man supernatural powers, such as clairvoyance, telepathy and the ability to influence and subjugate others. Since Theosophy rejects the existence of a supreme Authority or a Will that guides all things, all its assertions are only conjectural, and virtue is a matter of personal preference.
A long with the spread of Indian occult ideas in the West, another ancient Indian invention has also been gaining great popularity. Surprisingly, even many doctors defend Yoga as a "safe and effective" method for achieving physical and mental health. Hinduism understands Yoga, in the widest sense of the word, to mean a course of action which leads to unity with the world-soul. Personally I have a hard time taking chanting seriously, and it can be silly, but it can also be fun. I did find that it is hard to listen to what Fiennes is saying in the background sound track as she demonstrates the chanting, when I was meant to be chanting too.
I found the music in the background somewhat banal. On the whole I preferred the Kundalini workout offered on the DVDs from Ana Brett and Ravi Singh , because it was more playful and it also provides more guidance in how to do the breath of fire. Welcome to Metapsychology. We feature over in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives.
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