Right but repulsive

More discussion of Christopher Hitchens on Guardian.uk. Right but Repulsive. A lot of people seem to be undergoing the same kinds of inner conflict as expressed on this discussion forum. The atheists are very strong and mostly well-informed. They do, however, have a limited fund of vision. One person discusses the hope for a "spiritual atheism" which is what Buddhism and Mayavada are.

Sorry I don't have the time to comment. I am in Vrindavan, still recovering from my bus ride from Hardwar. And the internet is a lot less fun here than in my protected domain of Rishikesh.


Anonymous said…
"One person discusses the hope for a "spiritual atheism" which is what Buddhism and Mayavada are."

Buddhism is not "spiritual atheism", that is a very uninformed opinion from theistic based religions.

Atheism means against God, Theism is for God.

Buddhism is neither, it is really closer to gnostic.

The Buddha neither accepted or rejected God, and theistic based religions do not understand this.


Anonymous said…
My God, that description of Hitchens, its just like Nitai!
Anonymous said…
btw, both are wrong.
Jagadananda Das said…
I am sorry, Jijaji, but all those word-jugglery defenses of Buddhism ("neither accepted nor rejected God, but theistic-based religions do not understand this") and Advaita-vada don't cut it. Quite simply, as stated by the Bhagavata, brahman, paramatma and bhagavan are three names of the non-dual Absolute. But the perspectives are different, so the names and concepts differ.

Bhagavan realization is about realizing the personal God, for which other realizations may be assimilated, but for which they do not have absolute value because they are considered incomplete.

Because Buddhism or Advaita vada, in their pure forms, ultimately cast bhakti aside, we have limited interest in them. That is all. Indifference ("neither accepting nor rejecting") is not bhakti. I think you mean agnostic. Gnosticism is a weird bag more akin in spirit to Tantra or neo-Platonism, which is Advaita-vada in Greek dress.

Anyway, Jijaji, I am not going to argue with you on this. The condescension comes from you, not from me.
Jagadananda Das said…
I must confess that exactly the same idea crossed my mind when I read that article about Hitchens.
Anonymous said…
When I say Buddhism is closer to Gnostic, what I am referring to it not the Gnostics themselves, that flourished along side Christianity.

I am referring to the 'term' Gnostic, certainly not "Agnostic" The Buddha was not Agnostic not even a tiny bit, but again closer to what the term Gnostic means, which is 'Knowing' or direct perception, seeing for ones self truth rather than taking the word of priests or dogmatic scriptures.

These are not 'word-jugglery defenses of Buddhism' at all, it is just the stance they take, of course it sounds that way to a theist.
Anonymous said…
Believing in a personal god is not synonymous with sectarianism (although it seems that way indeed)

Let us put more love into the equasion !
Jagadananda Das said…
Look, what I am saying is this: Most of the criticisms of theism have a genuine basis, and can be understood as critiques of a beginning level of devotion. So I am open to most of the arguments of Buddhists, atheists and whatnot.

Brahma, Paramatma and Bhagavan are one and the same Absolute, perceived in different ways.

However, whatever value I see elsewhere, I accept the sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana of my tradition. I don't consider this sectarianism, but rather a more complete view of the Absolute than any which places the personal God subordinate to an impersonal feature or to a personal feature that is limited to a relation with this world.

Most people seem to resist this personal understanding because of the flaws of overenthusiastic beginners with incomplete understanding. This is like condemning opera for the caterwauling of amateurs. I am sorry for that. As far as I am concerned, it is just one of the many pitfalls on the way to perfection.

So, that is why I call you out, Jijaji, as a word juggler. The standard is the ultimate goal of prema to the divine person who is the Soul of our soul. If you see perfection of spiritual life in any other terms, then it is not the same as mine, so don't try to pretend that it is.

Respect others, learn from them where something can be learned, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Jagadananda Das said…
With regards to "right but repulsive." From the point of view of the rasika sampradayas, you cannot be right and repulsive at the same time.

There are many unpleasant truths that must be encountered on the path to spiritual perfection. But each unpleasant truth is one that has been covering some "taste."

The taste of a Hitchens is, as the author of the article and some readers stated, one that is akin to vira-rasa. It is something that many true believers get, even though he would deny that he is a true believer. He would say that he is a "true doubter" or something. Basically, he is a neti neti guy.

But that is his rasa. It is a feeble and ego-based rasa that ultimately does not go very far because it has no ground. He is doing a service, no doubt, by pointing out the flaws and inadequacies of most myths and practices. But he has not uncovered the essence of why people believe. It is all in the same Freudian mold of "childishness" and "illusion."

The transcendentalists were the first to point a finger and say, "This is illusion." He has caught part of the illusion, but not the basic, underlying, real illusion.

Anyway, I am not much of a debater or scholar, as I prove to myself every day. My apologies to anyone who has difficulty with me.
Anonymous said…
"So, that is why I call you out, Jijaji, as a word juggler."

Yes I am juggling juggling words in expert manner, just see..

"The standard is the ultimate goal of prema to the divine person who is the Soul of our soul"

This is the standard for you perhaps and that is fine with me, but it is not THE standard for all, and to think it so is nothing short of messianic zeal.

"If you see perfection of spiritual life in any other terms, then it is not the same as mine, so don't try to pretend that it is"

I have to say this is such a strange statement, no one is pretending anything. Now who is juggling the words?

"Respect others, learn from them where something can be learned, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"

Spiritual paths change differently for different people, many people throughout the history of mankind have given up previous spiritual paths to discover one that is better and more suited for themselves and of course this always unsettles the status quo, what to do?
I say be true to your heart and go with the flow, you yourself have certainly done this.
Why should we all end up in the same destination?
And to think there is only ONE destination for us all is just illogical and has something to due with ego and insecurity, thus you see ALL the religions saying we are number one, the best, all out trying to convert others to their way of thinking. It's like nationalism, our country is best, your country stinks, we will smash you if you are against us but join us and we will support you in every possible way.

Anonymous said…
There is this line from those who take to defending/explaining Budhism that "you don't understand, Budhism is neither this nor that, you just don't understand...", and 'round and 'round in a close circuit of repetition of the negative. But what IS Budhism, then? It seems that beyond the fresh enthusiasm of newcomers, more advanced Budhists refrain from these attempts at 'logic', but rather busy themselves in finding their way out of the initial folly of self elimination. Real Budhists understand that self elimination is just another version of the task of self preservation advocated by their theist counterparts, only without conclusion and therefore a sense of possibility. So I am with you Jagat when you rightly call the spade of these infant Budhists "word jugglery". Because when one is willing, really really willing to understand that proposition, there is literally nothing to understand: your are to make up your own individual reality without any recourse to a sense of another. In other words, the self must exist to not exist. I can't imagine a more shifting, contradictory, humanly embarrassing concept. A childish spiritual tantrum if there ever was one. But that's just alright from a personalist perspective. We Gaudiyas believe Krsna advented as Budha to intervene with a humanity which was running around madly brandishing scissors. When the dangerous instrument was taking from its hands, the resulting tantrum is what is known as Budhism. Time to grow up.
Jagadananda Das said…
Alright, so then you agree that our goals in spiritual life are different, and your goal is superior to mine. How superior, because mine is full of "messianic zeal."

Dear Jijaji, this is why I say that you are the one who is condescending. It is so interesting to see how liberal and enlightened persons like yourself are so convinced of their own superiority and yet do not see it as a superiority complex, only being right. If someone else has similar strength of conviction, they are full of "messianic zeal" or whatever.

You never had this problem with me when I mentioned Osho favorably. Was there not a little bit of glee in your heart when you thought, "Oh now Jagat is one of us and is coming over to the side of light"?

I have never said that we should all end up at the same destination. You don't seem to hear me, Jijaji. When I say that Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan are all the SAME TRUTH seen from different perspectives, that gives you perfect freedom to follow the path that you want.

But this is my blog, am I not allowed to follow _my_ path here? Am I to contort myself in various ways to please those who don't recognize that the divine imperative is a personal one?

Jai Sri Radhe!
Jagadananda Das said…
Thank you, Anonymous, for bringing this discussion back to a philosophical basis. The basis for Buddhism and all the rest of these negationist philosophies is resistance to the personal divine imperative. However you dress it up in false liberal dress, it comes back to the idea of "having the kingdom of God without God."
Anonymous said…
I am not a newcomer to this at all, I took Osho Sannyas in 1994.

I wish you well and will leave you and your blog alone.

Anonymous said…
'More answers to Swami Prem Ananda' is a masterpiece !

Jagat, please continue this way. Your blog is one of the most divers, openminded en tolerant. Grown-up-theism.
Jagadananda Das said…
No need for you to avoid me, Jijaji. I still consider you a friend.
Anonymous said…
I just want to know on what basis you call Advaitam 'atheism'?

You think God is a person, but BG 9.11 states that He only came down (asritam) in a human form. Indicating at least that He is not human. It is clearly indicated here and elsewhere that He is not human or embodied (akaayam) and hence not a person. Why then, do you assert your view of God as a petty flute playing blue boy surrounded by voluptuous women and cows, that is, as an embodied human, when the Truth is far more grand.

You have no understanding of Advaitam or you don't want to accept it because you were brought up in an Abrahamic tradition and hence don't accept Upanishads, Brahma Sutra, Yoga Vasishta etc. In fact, you people don't even quote from Ramayan and Mahabharat which extol the Lord and his glories, simply because you are afraid people will read these texts and come to realise the Truth about BrahmGyan which does not exclude Bhakti. To suggest that non-dualism does not include Sagunopasana is laughable. In fact, para Bhakti truly is the means of Bliss. But what you teach is Apara Bhakti. An external Bhakti.

A Bhakti of pomp and show, building sky high temples and marble idols and then milking money from the uninitiated by making an equally vulgar show of distorted comprehension of shastra. If you want to be more humble than a blade of grass, why then do you come out blasting other faiths without any reason? That does not sound very humble to me. I have never seen Sannyasis of the Ekadandi order do the same, perhaps it is because they are more enlightened than yourselves.

Mind you, I am not enlightened. However, I know which path to follow and which path to not follow (ie yours, surprise surprise). It is below me to mock a faith, place labels on them like atheist etc. when there is no proof of the same. You can block my comment all you want...but you can't hide behind that facade. Christians have already made a fool of themselves, you guys will soon follow it seems.

More and more Vedantists will realise the correct path and leave your organisation, it is already happening and true Bhaktas and BrahmGyanis will emerge.

Hari Om

PS - you need not tell me that you consider me a friend - I'd rather have a knowledgeable enemy.
Jagadananda Das said…
First of all, Mahesh, I have no organization, so it may be that you are confusing me with someone else.

Second, a-theism. Theism is a reference to a personal God. The ultimate goal of Advaita-vada is to eliminate the Server-servant, or personal relationship with God. So it is very clearly atheism.

However, I agree with much of what you say. A theism not founded in advaita-vada, or the unitarian understanding of God and "non-God" is an incomplete and superficial theism.
Anonymous said…
My understanding is that you clearly follow the philosophy of ISKCON, which I was referring to. I now realise that you may be a part of the Gaudiya Math or some related sampraday - please clarify.

Advaita only eliminates the server-servant relationship with God once the disciple has established a server-servant relationship with the Guru. The reason being is that now God has sent the Guru to show the correct path to God, who is non-different than us in an incomprehensible manner so long as we are conditioned/have not been delivered by a Guru. Swami Ramkrishna Paramhamsa practised bhakti to both Lord Krishna and Kali Mata, but his Guru Totapuri gave him a glimpse of the true nature of God, after which he left this childish play and practised Sadhana and thus realised that the truth was that he was never born, and thus he would never die - as it is for all of us. We all will dissolve back 'into' Brahm, with that, so also will dissolve all these misconceptions that the material senses propagate.

However, this does not mean that the personal relationship with God is sought to be 'Eliminated'. It is automatically eliminated since God and Devotee become one in a celestial embrace, which by the way, is very different from the 'oneness' that Kansa and Sisupala had achieved with the Lord. Everyone who is an impersonalist at some point was a personalist or a superficial impersonalist. It is odd that the term 'Impersonalist' is used as if 'Personalist' is the default standard. Rather the term should be monist and non-monist. One can be a monist and still have a personal relation with God. See Adi Sankara, Sant Gyaneshwar, Tulsidas, Tukaram, Meerabai, Samarth Ramdas, Kabir, Ravidas, Shirdi Sai Baba, and even Vyasa himself. The point is, God is NOT a human. He is not embodied or with a form. But these attributes may be given to destroy the ego and firm oneself in sadhana, after which, Guru is the torch.

This is not my opinion. I only suggest that you kindly look into these matters more deeply. Thank you for pointing out that theism without a unitarian concept is superficial. You are much older than me, thus you are wiser, but I am offended if people call advaitists atheists. It is a derogatory term just like Mayavadi and no amount of semantics will reconcile this fact. When someone calls a dark-skinned person the N-word, he is not telling a lie, but the usage of the word itself is offensive. In the same way, Atheist, Mayavadi etc are used. Please refrain from using these words, unless you are prepared for more colourful comments from people like me
Jagadananda Das said…
Still jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.
Jagadananda Das said…
The worst assumption, of course, is that God would create the world for no reason. If mukti were to return to the primordial undifferentiated state, the creation would have no meaning.

We feel that love of God is best expressed when God takes human form. But since human form is one of God's possibilities, how can it be considered inferior? Through form love can be exchanged in rasa, raso vai sah. yam hy evayam labdhvanandi bhavati. The rasa is in the labdhva.

If God has both form and is formless, clearly form is superior to formlessness, except for those whose overdeveloped intellect does not permit them to understand love.

You may call it childish, but perhaps you are the one who needs to think about it a little more.
Unknown said…
No where in my reply did I mention that God created anything for no reason. I think it is you who are jumping to conclusions. The primeval Purusha, Swayambhu, had a desire to create, and hence did the causal ocean manifest into which He placed His seed and entered into the waters Himself (which is why He is called Vishnu or Narayan). Please see RV Mandala X v 121, Manusmriti 1.1-10, Matsya Puran (2.25-30). So in fact, creation did have a reason.

You are echoing my sentiments in the second paragraph, but in the third para of your reply, once again, you use this term 'superior'. Why do you choose such words? Until now, you have shown no scriptural reference to support your claims. The Swayambhu that is mentioned in all the Shastras is equated with the True Nature of Lord Krishna, bhaavam, which is formless, but manifested of His own accord, which is the literal translation of Swayambhu.

I once again repeat that Bhakti to an image of deity is the medicine of this age, and it pleases the Lord most. But the jnani is also the dearest to the Lord. The Lord is beyond sense perception - then what to talk of the Truth being that He has a form. Form is 'superior' to formlessness only to please the Lord by His worship, if that is what you mean, but if you mean that an embodied God is 'superior' to an unembodied one - meaning that Saguna state is 'superior' to the Unmanifest, you must be joking - there is only evidence for the opposite. The Bhagavad Gita Ch 7-18 clearly shows that, if proper sanskrit translation is used.

By the way, the Bhakti that you experience also is formless, unless you want to determine the chemical nature of love, which science has yet to determine (and probably never will).

Finally, NO - I am not overly intellectual - if that is what you mean. I don't 'understand' love, just as you don't understand it. Yes, I do feel love for God. And it is not childish for an unitiated or a youthful person to believe in idols - in fact, young people who do not have a guru MUST do Sagunopasana. But It is childish for an aged man, who has been initiated and is now at the dusk of his life, who has studied scriptures to still believe in JUST the idols or images to be God. They should have reached the state where they feel God through every atom that surrounds the param bhava, the Atman. Any standard less than that, means he was not a bhakta.

Hari Om

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