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Archive for January, 2007

Both transcendence (nirgun) and immanence (sagun) aspects play an important part in the awareness of spiritual life. Transcendence requires an expansion of our awareness through Grace, while immanence requires for the Divine to be brought to our level of understanding.

The Opening Stanza of the Sikh Morning Prayer, Japuji Sahib, offers an exploration of transcendental attributes from a unique perspective. Contemplation of Transcendent qualities of the Supreme Soul, Paramatman, will fashion our own soul.

Here is a rendering of the Opening Stanza of Japuji Sahib called Ml Mantra with explanatory notes below each attribute:

1 OM Manifest,

1-on-kr

Please read Connectedness in Ik Onkar Symbol for a detailed explaination of this attribute. It is a transcendent quality that is both manifest and yet always remains unchangeable in its oneness. Ordinarily our mind is in dualistic thought, dividing reality into categories, labels and opposites. During a mystical encounter with the underlying Oneness behind appearances we are granted an undivided, non-dualistic vision.

Truename,

Satinmu

Satya, derived from Sanskrit root “to be,” refers to “existence,” “being” and “consciousness.” The truth rests in conscious awareness. Therefore, Ikonkar and Satinam together can be translated as “The One Onkar, whose name is existence.”

Creator Person,

Kart Purukhu

This attribute signifies that the doer of all actions is the Supreme. By ascribing all actions to a higher power, we can control pride and ego.

Fearless,

Nirbhao

In our life, we have fears – fears of economic hardship, political instability, crime, war and ultimately of death. These fears originate from attaching ourselves to temporally real and changeable aspects of life. When, however, we recognize the eternal ultimate reality behind appearances all our fears are erased from our mind.

Without hatred,

Nirvairu

Hatred can often be rooted in our own projected fears. When we fail to examine our own shortcomings, we have to tendency to see them in others. If we examine our own heart, we would recognize that what we hate in others is often an aspect of us that we have hidden from awareness.

As we connect to the Real, we lose our fears and no longer need to feel hostility to others, since our self regains its natural confidence in knowing its real spiritual worth.

Eternal form,

Akal Mrat

The physical forms in the temporal world are not eternal. This is a quality of the spirit-soul, atman, as the eternal form.

Unincarnated,

Ajn

Literally “not of the womb,” hence unincarnated. This also shows transcendence over transmigration of the soul from countless births and deaths. The Real is omnipresent and cannot be limited to any human birth.

Self-existent.

Saibhang

In the natural world, existence depends upon an external cause. A human being came into existence through parents. Even one-celled organisms derived their existence from the division of a “parent” cell through fission. Fire cannot burn without fuel and in an ecosystem a balance is achieved through the interdependence of various animals upon one another.

Self-existence means that your personal existence is no longer dependent on something outside you. The Real is complete on its own and requires no other support for its existence.

By Guru’s Grace

Gur parsdi

We believe that we create all changes in our life, yet the presence of a Higher Power in our lives can transform us. Our belief of independent action is only true to the extent that we are guided and inspired by Divine Grace. Personal effort has a place, yet it yields to Grace to refashion the senses, the heart and mind. We have difficulty controlling or forcing change in our lives on our own, though with sincere prayer we find strength to persevere.

We are like farmers of our consciousness, who through our efforts till the soil with meditation, plant the seeds of good action, and take out weeds of egoism. Yet without Grace like the farmer waiting for rain during a drought, our efforts will not yield harvest and at such trying times our faith is tested.

When the time is right, Grace will enter our life. We cannot control when it comes and instead we develop gratitude for all gifts including our life at all times – whether good or fraught with difficulties.

See also:

First Verse of Sikh Morning Prayer (Japuji Sahib): Path to Truth

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 Oprah Winfrey Show

On Wednesday 31 January 2007: The Oprah Winfrey Show promises to be exciting featuring guests who have survived disasters – those who lived through avalanche, electricity and even a fiery plane crash.

Oprah.com even has a Survival Quiz to assess if you’d make it in the wild. If you scored low on Oprah’s quiz, don’t fret just visit Discovery Channel for fascinating survival stories and tips.

Oprah had covered this topic on a previous show on 11 March 1997, which explored why some people have better chance of survival after a diasaster than others. Both broadcasts have the same title: “Would You Survive.” Even if the show is a repeat, it’s still a fascinating topic.

After survival of a head-on collision three years ago, I have become more aware of safety issues. At those critical moments, our reactions and those of others around us can make all the difference.

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 Gary Zukav

This Wednesday Gary Zukav, the author of Seat of the Soul and many other insightful books, is scheduled to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. So check your local listings to see him.

He will speak on marriage as a “spiritual partnership” instead of a traditional marriage or relationship modelled around survival needs, where a couple are emotionally distant but work together to achieve survival goals in life.

“The energy dynamic itself is very different in a traditional marriage than it is in a spiritual partnership,” Gary says. The spiritual partnership requires people to work together for “something more” unlike a traditional marriage which doesn’t have this dynamic.

“In practical terms, we’re talking about getting to know yourself—getting to know what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, what you’re intending, what your fears are, and what your loves are,” Gary says. “That is, what it means while you’re walking on the earth.”

The idea of another person, a soul mate, who “completes” you is considered a myth by Gary. He adds: “”Only you can complete yourself. No one can complete you for you.”

The expectation that someone else can complete you will after the honeymoon phase lead to disappointment, since your expectations of the other person were unreasonable. Instead of appreciating another person for who they are and realizing your own capacity for love and self-discovery, your sense of self becomes dependent on a romanticized ideal of your partner.

A spiritual partnership is more than just creating material comfort for one another, it is about spiritual growth. “It means that your intention is to become aware and responsible for yourself,” Gary says.

According to Gary, spiritual partnerships have four main requirements—commitment, compassion, courage and conscious communication.

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Why I Am Opposed to War:

A Time To Break Silence

Excerpts of speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.delivered at New
Yorks Riverside Church on April 4, 1967.

 

 

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud:

Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?

Why are you joining the voices of dissent?

Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask.

And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others, have been waging in America.

A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor both black and white through the Poverty Program. Then came the build-up in Vietnam, and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube.

So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. It became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.

My third reason grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.

But, they asked, what about Vietnam?

They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home. I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.”

In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed from the shackles they still wear.

Another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the “brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war.

Washingtons Regime Change in Vietnam

The Vietnamese proclaimed their independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony.

Before the end of the war, we were meeting 80 percent of the French war costs. After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho Chi Minh should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.

The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by increasing numbers of US troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers destroy their precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least 20 casualties from American firepower for each Viet Cong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children.

Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and non-violence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know of his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

The Lies that Lead the US to War

It must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreements. They remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the President claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North.

We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for our troops must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create a hell for the poor.

I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam and the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of her people.

We must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed. Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

A Far Deeper Malady

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy, and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. We will be marching and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of US military “advisors” in Venezuela. The need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

The words of John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and America Needs a Revolution of Values

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just.”

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.”

This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from re-ordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.

Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are the days that demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must, with positive action, seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before.

We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.

If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter but beautiful struggle for a new world. Our brothers wait eagerly for our response. The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

 

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YOGA IN NEXUS

A Neo Novel

Most people have set images of yoga in terms of flexible postures, yet that is only one aspect of a varied practice. In Nexus, Deborah and Arvind were influenced by different aspects of yoga along with other practices that foster spiritual growth. Our novel explores them through the journey of a group of people looking to overcome pain.

Nexus takes place at a spiritual retreat, where individual transformation of each person is encouraged through the practice of yoga, meditation, visualization, and psychological and spiritual insights. So on Nexus Novel Blog, we will present aspects of these practices in order to foster understanding and personal growth. We hope that our site and book will inspire others.

DEFINITION OF YOGA

Yoga is derived from Proto-Indo-European root yeug meaning “to join” or “to unite.” It allows for the release of energy blocks that impede the free flow of vital energy found in breath, called prana () in India and Chi or Qi in China. Through meditative yoga techniques, the mind becomes easily focused and purified of extraneous thoughts.

Ultimately, yoga looks to unite the mind, body and spirit. Since tension at any level will impede progress in other areas, so whether the focus is on development of the body, mind or spirit, it will still bring holistic benefits.

Statue of Yogi from Indus Valley Civilization
Statue of Yogi from Indus Valley Civilization circa 3000 BCE

FORMS OF YOGA

People are attracted to yoga for different reasons. Individuals focused on the body respond to any yoga with a focus on physical postures, while those attuned to introspection respond well to meditative exercises. Due to the variety of motivations for practicing yoga, various forms of yoga have developed over time.

CLASSICAL YOGA

The classical form of yoga found in the aphorisms of the sage Patanjali from around the 2nd century recommends eight practices called ashtanga. They are as follow:

  1. Yama Five restraints of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual purity and non-possessiveness
  2. Niyama Five Practices of purity, contentment, introspection, and self-surrender
  3. Asana Physical postures
  4. Pranayama Control of the breath
  5. Pratyahara Withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana Focused attention on a single object
  7. Dhyana Contemplation
  8. Samadhi Non-dualistic state of mind

A Painting of Patanjali

Painting of Patanjali

The yoga outlined by Patanjali is called Ashtanga or Raja (“Royal”) Yoga, since it follows the royal path of first disciplining the mind. The mind controls the body, and so the emphasis in Raja Yoga is on development of the mind.

HATHA YOGA

Yoga Posture

In contrast to Patanjali’s approach, Yogi Swatmarama, 15 century sage of India, introduced the system of Hatha Yoga through compiling the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This form of yoga is most familiar to Westerners. It starts with a focus on the health of the physical body, which can then lead to the purification of the mind and vital energy (prana).

Hatha Yoga is influenced by Tantra, a group of esoteric traditions that originated in India. Tantric ideas influenced the imagery of rotating energy vortices called Chakras (Sanskrit , “circle” or “spinning wheel”) and the kundalini energy lying dormant at the base of the spine. Even though many forms of yoga have developed over time, classical yoga of Patanjali and Hatha Yoga offers a unique contrast between them.

IMPORTANCE OF SANKHYA PHILOSOPHY

Yoga has roots in Sankhya, which is one of the eight philosophical schools in Hinduism. It regards the universe as comprised of two eternal realities, consciousness called purusha and the source of manifestation called prakriti. The duality between purusha-prakriti becomes an impediment through misidentification of limitless consciousness with only the physical body. Dicriminate knowledge can allow for the eternal and temporal to be differentiated, which is the conscious purusha and unconscious prakriti. The school is often called Sankhya-yoga because of the strong influence of sankhya on yoga.

So next time you associate yoga merely with a posture, recognize yoga is a rich and varied practice that can be multi-faceted.

Note: Deborah has experienced many aspects of yoga in her life experiences as a Certified Yoga Instructor and as a student of Swami Vishnudevanda, from philosophical discussions to physical and mental practice. Arvind has likewise delved into many aspects of yoga through personal study and practice. Through both of their understanding, they bring subtle aspects of yoga into the experience of Nexus.

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Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis can produce an altered state of consciousness, similar to day-dreaming or being engrossed in an activity. When engrossed in a TV show or while driving on a highway we experience this altered state. In light to medium hypnosis a person is aware of their surroundings, and is receptive to positive suggestions. Hypnosis is used to change habits or to alleviate certain symptoms.

What happens?

During hypnosis you enter a relaxed state, in which breathing, heart and metabolism slows down. The conscious mind can rest, leaving the unconscious or subconscious mind open to suggestion. The subconscious mind is where our emotions, dreams, hopes and motivations reside.

Ordinarily we use only 10% of our conscious mind for daily tasks, the greater part of our mind is composed of the subconscious mind, which can create lasting changes for well-being and health.

The use of trance states to facilitate healing dates back to ancient practices in healing temples and shrines. Modern hypnotherapy developed from Anton Mesmer’s in the 1800s. Later psychologists and neurobiologists expanded our understanding of hypnosis.

Psychiatrist Milton Erickson (1901-80) used therapeutic metaphor and story to help clients. In my own work as a hypnotherapist, I have successfully used Erickson’s techniques with clients. His style offers a permissive style of hypnosis suitable for most people.

For most therapeutic uses of hypnotherapy a light or medium-trance is sufficient, in which the client remains fully aware of their surroundings. Some people decide to go into deeper trance states without conscious awareness. The state of hypnosis is induced by your own mind listening to the suggestions given by a hypnotherapist. After people have experienced hypnosis, I train them to use self-hypnosis to direct their own healing.

Self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis involves self-induction using four stages of relaxation: deepening (mentally counting down from ten to one into an increasingly relaxed state), application of suggestions, and formal ending (mentally counting up from 1 to 5 into a fully alert consciousness).

In self-hypnosis, the individual plays a dual role of giving and receiving suggestions. Therefore, a person needs to remain consciously aware in order to give themselves suggestions for improvement and healing. Suggestions are positive statements given to the subconscious mind during the relaxed state.

What’s it used for?

Hypnotherapy is used for anxiety, mild depression, phobias, addictions, weight problems, pain and insomnia. Any illness with psychosomatic roots can be helped through hypnosis. The relaxed state offered by hypnosis also promotes healing and deep relaxation.

Arvind Singh is a trained hypnotherapist, speaker and writer who uses hypnotherapy along with guided visualization and breath therapy to help clients. His experience as a Hypnotherapist along with Deborah Morrison’s experience as a Counsellor has offered them insights for writing NEXUS: A Neo Novel.

 

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Most world religions include teachings on forgiveness, which provide guidance for the practice of forgiveness. Here are some examples of forgiveness understood from different traditions:

BUDDHISM

Forgiveness is a practice for removing unhealthy emotions that would otherwise cause harm to our mental well-being. Hatred leaves a lasting effect on our karma (“actions”) and forgiveness creates emotions with a wholesome effect. Buddhism questions the reality of passions that give rise to anger through meditation and insight. After examination, we realize that anger is only an impermanent emotion that we can fully experience and then release.

The basic problem in Buddhist psychology is that emotions like anger and hatred are based on projections and ignorance, not on wisdom and awareness. The elimination of anger is a lengthy process but through mindfulness Buddhism is confident that an individual will realize anger is only temporal like many other mental states.

Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective by the Dalai Lama is a wonderful guide on releasing anger. Here are three Buddhist quotes on the folly of anger:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else but you are the one who gets burned” — The Buddha

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” — The Buddha

“It is natural for the immature to harm others. Getting angry with them is like resenting a fire for burning.” — Shantideva

Wheel of Dharma

Wheel of Dharma, Symbolizing the Cycle of Rebirth & Death.

SIKHISM

Forgiveness () is viewed as the remedy to anger (). You forgive an offender when aroused by compassion. Compassion generates peace, tranquility, humility and co-operation in human interactions. The act of forgiveness is considered a divine gift, not the work of human agency. Otherwise, pride () would increase when we take personal credit, which would impede our spiritual progress.

Anger is often considered the result of unfulfilled desire. If a person fulfills our desires and wants, we feel love for them but when they impede our desires anger can well up. The ego can easily feel slighted, embarrassed, belittled or in some other way be offended. As we learn to discipline our mind through meditation on the Word, our ego and anger naturally turn to compassion and forgiveness. Since anger and forgiveness are considered opposites, the human mind can only contain one of them at a given time.

Here are some verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures, that capture the essence of forgiveness:

“To practice forgiveness is fasting, good conduct and contentment” — Guru Arjan Dev, page 223

“Where there is forgiveness, there God resides — Kabir, page 137

“Dispelled is anger as forgiveness is grasped” –Guru Amar Das, page 233

Ik Onkar
Ik Onkar symbol of Sikhism. To further understand this symbol read Connectedness in Ik Onkar Symbol.

While Eastern religions take a more psychological view of forgiveness, Abrahamic religions share a distinctly moral view that varies from idealism of Christianity to relative pragmatism of Islam and Judaism:

JUDAISM

Ideally a person who has caused harm, needs to sincerely apologize, then the wronged person is religiously bound to forgive. However, even without an apology, forgiveness is considered a pious act (Deot 6:9). Teshuva (, literally “Returning”) is a way of atoning, which requires cessation of harmful act, regret over act, confession and repetence. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement when Jews particularly strive to perform teshuva. Two relevant Jewish quotes on forgiveness:

It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit.” — Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 2:10

“Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.” — Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4

Star of David

The Star of Davidd. See Connectedness: Star of David & Sri Yantra for an exploration of its symbolism.

CHRISTIANITY

In Christian teachings forgiveness of others plays an important role in spiritual life. The Lord’s Prayer best exemplifies this attitude, notably in these words: ” And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” ( Matthew 6:9-13). The final words uttered by Christ during his suffering reinforce the importance of forgiveness: “”Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). We also find instruction to love your enemies and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:9 & Luke 6:27-31). Another beautiful expression of forgiveness and understanding is St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

“Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. ”

The Crucifix

The suffering of Christ is a central theme in Christianity. The symbolic aspects of the Cross are explored in Connectedness of Heaven & Earth: Symbolism of Cross & Tree

ISLAM

The word Islam is derived from the Semitic word slm meaning “peace” and forgiveness is a prerequisite for genuine peace. The Quran makes some allowance for violence but only to defend faith, property or life. Still forgiveness is held as the better course of action whenever possible: “They avoid gross sins and vice, and when angered they forgive.” (Quran 42:37). In terms of clemecy, we find this passage: “Although the just penalty for an injustice is an equivalent retribution, those who pardon and maintain righteousness are rewarded by God. He does not love the unjust” (Qur’an 42:40).

Crescent-Moon

The Star & Crescent Moon, which is a recognizable symbol of Islam

Note: Forgiveness is a central theme in our novel NEXUS available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Chapters-Indigo.

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