Jul 20

Continuation from previous post on this blog of the conversation between Joe M and Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja

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Jul 18

Beyond the Looking Glass

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(The following is from an online discussion between Joe M and Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja.)

Joe: “. . . you still insist that the source created the energy, and that the energy did not create the source. I think you have it backwards. I don’t see how you can have a source, without the energy to create it. The difference here between us is critical.”

BMP: Because you are conceiving the relation between source and energy as being relatively on the same existential level, like self and other, you are missing the third element, i.e.the transcendental absolute nature of the Source. When the Source is conceived on the absolute platform it can no longer be the result of anything but itself. It is important to understand the difference between the Absolute and relative platforms, and I think Spinoza has made a clear attempt at explaining this difference by his concept of causa sui [cause of itself]. I explained this in my first message to you, but either you seem to have a terrible memory or were not able to understand this the first time. I agree this is an extremely critical point to understand and it will change your whole perspective when you do.

When we understand the Source [I write it with a capital letter to indicate it is an Absolute and not a relative idea] it means the nothing within the relative world-frame can influence it or exert any cause on it at all. Thus the absolute world is called pure, unconditioned, eternal, self-luminous, or as the Bhagavad-gita mentions the transcendental eternal soul cannot be wet by water, burned by fire, killed by a sword, and so on.

While the Absolute cannot be influenced by the relative world, the relative world can be influenced [or more properly, created/manifested] by the Absolute or Transcendental world. We can understand this idea through the example of reflection [this is only an example]. When an object is reflected in a lake, in a mirror, or cast as a shadow, the reflection imitates the original and is caused by the original, but the reflection does not cause the original to act. On the other hand, the activity of the reflection is entirely dependent upon the activity of the original [source of the reflection].

If someone is absorbed in the reflected objects or shadows on the wall and thinks them to be the actual or original world, then this is called Maya. Such a person thinks the reflected objects or shadows have their own spontaneous free will to move as they like, but this is all an illusion. The images in the mirror don’t move, nor are those images formed by the glass and silver of the mirror if they were to be analyzed.

When the reflective material is called matter, then we can understand how the material conception of life is simply an illusion or reflection of the original world of spirit. We will get to further details of that idea in a separate post. For now, I hope this helps to give a clearer understanding of what is involved.

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Jul 03

Johannine Ontotheology and Vedanta

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Johannine Ontotheology and Vedanta
Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph.D.

excerpt —
In the King James version (KJV) of the Bible the apostle John writes:

John 1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Commentary: The meaning appears to be that the Word and God are different, yet identical also. Ordinary understanding doesn’t like contradictions so it tries to ignore the contradiction and simply accept the sameness of Word and God without the difference. However, that is not what John is saying here. He distinguishes the Word from God by stating the Word first, and then using the preposition “with” to connect the Word with God. Finally John then identifies the Word with God. What John is actually saying therefore is that Word and God are different and identical at the same time – a contradiction!

Western philosophy since Aristotle avoids contradiction like the plague. But this identity-in-difference is a very important concept in Vedantic philosophy called bedha-abedha in Sanskrit. So it is not to be swept under the rug without taking it seriously. It forms the basis of a very important conception of the Absolute Reality of Chaitanya Vaisnavism and other similar vaisnava traditions, and even in the Roman Catholic tradition it is the basis of what is known as the Holy Trinity – the Oneness and Difference of God in His three distinct individualities/Persons.

‘In the beginning” means that we must not identify the Word with Jesus Christ right away, as many do. Actually the identity of the Word with Christ will come in John 1.14, so we don’t want to skip over the significance that the other verses play in arriving at that identity. So sticking to John 1.1 we can recognize that the Word [in the original Greek it is Logos and that is translated as Word in the KJV] is related to thought or thinking. Words are used to express or utter [meaning outer or objectify] thoughts [which are internal or subjective]. So we can interpret John 1.1. as saying the thoughts of God are with God, certainly, and they are also God, because a person is only what his/her thoughts make them. Thinking reflected upon itself is what is meant by “I.” Descartes; first indubitability was “I think, thus I am.” He identifies thinking with his being as an ego or I. At the same time thinking and being an “I” are different – we naturally distinguish the two. We naturally presume that “I” am the agent who produces thinking. In the case of John 1.1 the Word [thinking] is conjoined with the Supreme “I” or God. Thus God expresses His thinking as the Word, which makes the Word the offspring or Son of God. So the idea of the Son as produced from God the original “I” is contained in John 1,1.

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Jun 13

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – June 3, 2017

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The Evolution of Consciousness

excerpt –

“We have this human form of life (body) to understand the purpose in life and gain spiritual realization. However, if we did not do any of those things but instead left this body and, let’s say for example, in our next life we became a cat – how, as a cat with lower consciousness can we become aware of spirituality?” Kushum asked. In response, Sripad Puri Maharaja asked Nila Madhava das Prabhu to respond. “For a devotee, or someone that is practicing bhakti (devotion), you will not become a cat in your next life because the spiritual advancement you make, it will always remain with you. It never goes away. Krishna says, ‘I preserve what they have and I carry what they lack,’ we just keep progressing and Krishna keeps giving us more. It is not likely that the devotees will take birth as a cat unless you become like King Bharat, who was on the plane of bhava (almost pure devotion), but his sadhana (spiritual practices) got distracted by a young baby deer. That baby deer’s mother passed away and King Bharat picked it up and took it to his ashram (hermitage) and became attached to it while taking care of that deer. So when he died he became a deer but as a deer he could remember that he practiced devotional service in his previous life. So as a deer he would go to the ashram where the sadhus(saints) lives. He would eat their remnants, whatever they will throw out, he would eat. He would sit close by and listen to Krishna katha (stories of Krishna’s pastimes) from the sages (enlightened souls), then in his next life he was again born as a human (Jadabharat). In this form he was an avadhoot, always behaving like he was crazy but internally he was always thinking of Krishna. So as long as you are practicing bhakti (devotion), there’s no reason you will be a cat in your next life,” Nila Madhava das Prabhu explained then interjected, “Krishna also said, ‘whatever you are thinking about at the time of death, you will achieve without fail.’ In case they are not thinking of Krishna they will have to go through the cycle of Karma (deed) to burn through all their negative karma.”

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Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)

Jun 04

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – May 20, 2017

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The Varieties of Religion

– excerpt –
“Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita ‘ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajamy aham – As they surrender to Me, I reward them accordingly. I reciprocate with them according to their worship of Me.’ Those who want to relate to God in a certain way He gives them the ability to do that. Man proposes and God disposes,” Sripad Puri Maharaja responded. ”One cannot act without God’s sanction. Nothing works without God. Krishna says ‘aham sarvasya prabhavo – I am the source of everything. Everything is coming from Me. I am the cause of all causes. You are not independent of Me but I reciprocate with you,’” Sripad Puri Maharaja explained. “If it’s a spiritual reality that we want or need God provides that – reciprocation between Man and God.”

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Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)

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