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[From Disqus Blog: Discussion on Faith & Religion: Karmic Debt: Lynn Cunningham.]
[Responding to blog post in general.]
The Sanskrit term karma means “work”, or “action”.
I like to think of it in terms of inertia.
The cartoon version makes it about “good” and “bad”, but really it is no different that the universal law of “cause and effect” applied to subjective experience.
It makes no sense to even consider it without also looking at the effect of “ahamkara” the “I maker” or Ego.
The personal and therefore relative sense of self that blinds the “individual” to its True nature. The absolute and therefore Singlular Self that is God. The undivided.
This confusion of identity results in the maze of relationships and opposites. This is “maya”. The illusion of “self and other”. The deeper into that maze, the more karma defines “reality”. Christians should equate this to “sin” or “The fall from Grace”.
Redemption from this situation is “moksha”, or liberation from the the entanglements of karma. It is the realization of, and subsequent actualization in ones experience, that God and I are One. Christians should equate this to “The Father and I are One”.
It’s not rocket science but does require attention to, and appreciation of the process.
Reincarnation, which is often associated with this understanding, is the acknowledgement that once a body, in this case the field of personal effect, is set in motion it tends to stay in motion. The mature understanding is that all experience is perfectly complementary to existence. If intention is on enlightenment then that is the fruition of the “work”.
Birth and Death is no more representative of ETERNITY than Birth, Death and Rebirth.
Lynne Cunningham – “What about when, even though reluctantly, one does a deed that benefits someone else at one’s own expense, but one’s underlying intent was to ‘practice’ the principle of unselfishness? There are Bible scriptures alluding to this, (i.e., the parable of the widow’s mite, and others)…yet, isn’t there attachment/desire present even when attempting to raise one’s level of consciousness?“
This world that we live in is best seen as an opportunity to practice.
Since “Awakening” cannot be mistaken for any”thing” else, what does it matter to what degree “we” are falling short.
By Grace we learn to recognize “gaining ideas”. The karma of that is instant and subtle.
If God is all, who bestows Grace? Who receives it?
Lynne Cunningham – “That’s an interesting question! It might take awhile to formulate an answer.But meanwhile…why are there the artificial separations? Why are there many people? Why are there people at all? (though this might be going outside the scope of the original discussion) Still, one question brings on another. Why even ask questions when they, and the answers to them, would be in a way irrelevant?“
Primordial infinitude of nothing, is infinite potential.
The emergent characteristic of infinite potential is Existence/Experience.
It’s own nature compounding upon itself.
In other words God, experiencing nature as limitation.
Natalie D. – “Karma is Hindu, not Christian.“
Karma is a fundamental quality underlying Creation.
Hinduism and Christianity are religions.
Lynne Cunningham responding to the above – “That’s just why it’s easy to incorporate religions other than Christianity into one’s personal philosophy.“
If we are interested in knowing God, then that is what will happen.
Attachment to a particular religion or philosophy will eventually give way to “enlightenment”. All distinction of this and that, good and bad, no longer needed.
Natalie D. – “Christians don’t believe in karma, and definitely not in this world. We believe in grace.“
For me Grace is the perfect complementary matching of my actions and intentions to outcomes.
When it comes down to it, everything that happens is custom made for each of us. We are guided constantly.
It is the nature of the great Truth that God is All.
Lynne Cunningham responding to the above. – “My heart leaps with happiness to contemplate those things you’ve mentioned…but is ‘happiness’ a step in the right direction, or is it just one more face of ‘desire’? (I’m very attached to happiness! lol)“
I’m happy that you are happy. But am well aware that tomorrow I may be sad.
That is the name of the game here, but the perfect complementarity of the pair is a clue.
Lynne Cunningham – “The fact that sadness inevitably comes isn’t a daunting prospect, and actually brings happiness into sharper relief…one puzzling issue, though, in regards to the Christian idea of heaven is that people will ‘always be happy.’ How happy, or in what sense? I would imagine that the happiness then would be based in having only good people around and in not ever going through the wrenching experience of losing loved ones, and in not getting sick ever again. The thing is, we don’t KNOW. It’s all just speculation. That’s frustrating.“
The Christian theology is dualistic and therefore can not come up with a different conception than you described.
I prefer a non-dualist or monist theology whenever I can find it,
God is not outside of creation. Therefore the absolute and the relative are interdependent.
This requires an ability to be comfortable “not knowing”. To accept fundamental paradox.
As for happiness and sadness; In the relative state of Creation, each is dependent on the other.
But in the absolute state as Creator, there is no division. No other.
For instance in the Hindu theology, or at least in schools like advaita-vedanta, the subjective experience of the nature of God is referred to as SatChidAnanda (Being, Consciousness, Bliss).
It is Ananda or Bliss which gets parsed into Happiness and Pain when filtered through the prism of relativity.
Lynne Cunningham – “But wouldn’t it be boring to simply ‘be’ eternally, if awareness remains an element? To my mind, boredom = hell. (This demonstrates my present inability to extricate from dualistic mentality…can there actually be those for whom it’s possible?) Shades of Sisyphus!! lol“
There is no should-or-shouldn’t attached to this. It is just what is possible.
The connection to the source being seamless. Ever present.
Part of the problem envisioning that, is the baggage of time. Which is a product of body and mind.
Eternity is a dimensionless and timeless state. As in just NOW.
It’s not an endlessly long time. That would indeed be difficult to fill with projects, and come up with rent for.
This is all beside the point anyway. Can’t think our way to heaven. It’s not a product of Mind.
Lynne Cunningham – “We never know from what quarter the next round of unhappiness will come, and so can live happily (or at any rate, peacefully) in a sense of ‘suspended animation’ until it does.“
The Yogis would guide us to a mastery of a non-reactive acceptance of “what is”.
Neither for or against. A non-grasping mind. Not This – Not This. etc.
But that requires an intuition of “enlightenment”. A readiness for “seeing” beyond the world of attraction and aversion. The love of the NOW.
Lynne Cunningham – “Isn’t ‘love’ one big all-encompassing attraction zone? Would achieving enlightenment make irrelevant love as it’s commonly known? (That prospect seems un-desirable!)“
How is love commonly known? Is it the turmoil finding and loosing it that we are attached to? Or, loving some and not loving others?
If it is a steady state, imperishable and constant, then I’d say that that is “enlightenment”.
Lynne Cunningham – “Perhaps we all find ourselves somewhere on the continuum… hopefully the tumultuous ‘drama’ version is outgrown as soon as hormones stabilize, at which time mature adults have the opportunity to experience love in ever-widening rings and formats. Altruistic love in particular has always intrigued me, the fact that people can and often do step far beyond their comfort zone for those they have never met. This, I would say, comes closest to my understanding of what would be a primary element of enlightenment.“
Lynne Cunningham – “We’re so programmed into reactive mode that it would surely require a great deal of practice to achieve an acceptance mentality…one hindrance would be those who interpret non-reactivity as weakness, and would prey upon it; survival pokes its nose above-ground! Dealing with one’s internal state of affairs seems challenge enough, but are there auxiliary techniques for dealing with external forces?“
I only know from my own life. Not sure what your’s would be like.
This is just something one does with ones days. Like practicing music. There are stages. All happening at once sometimes.
An appreciation of synchronicity and significance. The feedback from events. The challenge of being honest. The challenge of catching yourself interpreting from a bias.
Road rage. And the layers of ego that arise as you try to distance yourself from it. Authentic mindfulness practice. …. eventually.
This is enough for now. Thanks again.
Brian Le Blanc – “Christians are told that they have dominion over the land and the animals within it. Animals were put on this earth specifically for whatever we might need them for.“
Never heard this before!!
In pre-Christian terms, aren’t you you talking about before the the big boondoggle? Surely that was a game changer. These days it’s just the prevailing attitude.
In Ecosystem terms, where we all live, we are food for each other.
The ideal of compassion and respect, would be due out of Love for fellow life forms. For all Creation. God’s proxy in this sometimes beautiful exile.
Brian Le Blanc – “This is in your bible, Genesis 1:26-29 to be exact. Not to mention that prevailing theme that everything that we see and discover is ultimately created with our specific species in mind.“
That was somebody in antiquity using their intuition to describe how things work. Having become aware as a human being.
My more contemporary take on this, i.e. “in God’s image”, means our sense of awareness is rooted in the Infinitude of God.
The “I am”.
Since that Infinitude is undivided. Our self awareness is God’s.
Any dominion over creation ought to flow from that understanding and be therefore harmless.
But, there is a glitch. You may have noticed this.
Brian Le Blanc – “I actually agree with your view on the bible. It is the product of ignorant farmers with no clue about how the universe works.“
And we now know how the universe works?
“I do find it strange how you can still consider this book reliable in any way.“
Not sure what “reliable” means but since I see God as All. I was able to find inspiration there. The red letter editions were helpful. A background in Yoga and other monist schools, even more so.
It is not that difficult to filter out the misleading interpretations that one encounters. They are quite predictable.
“I do find it strange how you can still consider this book reliable in any way.“
Reliable for what? I don’t need it to be anything. It is a powerful tale, and metaphor, but daily life is no less potent.
The value that a monist puts on equanimity comes in handy. It helps us to not add anything extra.
“If you accept that thousands of other God’s have been created from uneducated opinions of ancient civilizations, why is this one any different for you?“
There is evolution at work here. When Jesus says that “I and the Father are One” he’s bringing those bronze and iron age farmers and fisher folk closer to the REAL. It misses the point to make him a deity. That is just backsliding.
But why linger over any this? What’s next?