Vasu Murti

Articles
The Writings of Vasu Murti

Human Rights - Social Justice - Animal Rights - Peace - Love - Compassion - Kindness - Gentleness - Religion - Soul - Spirit - Knowledge - Wisdom - Politics - Science - Environment - Vegan - Vegetarian - God - Humans - Animals

| Home | Books | Publications | Articles | Email |

Radical Tolerance

 Katie Engelhart writes on Salon.com:
 
"Organized Atheism is now a franchise."Yesterday, The Sunday Assembly —the London-based 'Atheist Church' announced a new 'global missionary tour.'"
 
In the early '80s, in Mother Jones and/or The Progressive, there were classified ads for "evangelical agnosticism." 
 
This is news?
 
In his 1985 book, The Hare Krishna Explosion, Hayagriva dasa (Professor Howard Wheeler) describes his meeting A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966:
 
"I want to chant in one of the parks nearby," Swamiji suddenly tells us one morning. "I leave it to you to decide where."
 
Chanting publicly? We all sit in surprised silence. Evangelical Krishnaism? What will people think?
 
----
 
Hey, it's a free country, right?
 
The First Amendment?
 
In a secular democracy like the United States, the government is neutral toward all belief AND disbelief. 
 
"Evangelical Krishnaism" is permitted, so why not evangelical agnosticism, atheism, etc.?

“The Unitarian Church has this idea of ‘radical tolerance.’ It respects everything. It’s all good. Well that’s fine on one level, but at some point it becomes a little diluted.” 
 
That's what my friend Chris, a liberal Protestant, said about the Unitarians. 
 
The character of Judge Harry Stone from the '80s sitcom Night Court similarly said, "I try to keep an open mind, but not so open that my brain falls out."
 
My friend Greg, raised Catholic, similarly said that New Agers are "too speculative." 
 
While New Agers are open to Eastern religions, Native American spirituality, and other so-called "pagan" beliefs, they lack a set of revealed scriptures, core beliefs, etc.
 
But how tolerant are the liberal churches? 
 
My friend Rankin, a former Missionary Baptist minister, mentioned a liberal church where he said one could quote from the Bhagavad-gita only if one were to refer to "the prophet Krishna," rather than refer to Lord Krishna as an avatar, or incarnation of God (what to speak of pointing out that Jesus Christ is not God, but the "son of God").
 
In biology, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe calculated the probability of proteins forming from the random interaction of amino acids–the building blocks of life.They found the odds were one out of ten to the 40,000th power!
 
Given these extreme odds, it’s hard to imagine the self-organization of matter without the deliberate intervention of some kind of higher power(s) or intelligence(s).
 
ALL life is thus precious and sacred. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Francis Crick has admitted, “the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.”
 
Intelligent Design does not directly prove the existence of God... it merely infers that it's a logical possibility.A Christian, Gene Carman, commented on Salon.com:
 
"God is a matter of faith, as in contrast to fact. So, what is faith? Faith is 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...'"
 
A leap of faith is required because the existence of God can neither be proven nor disproven. We've come to this material world to forget God.
 
Madhavendra Puri dasa (Steve Bernath) of the Bhaktivedanta Institute said the Vaishnavaite Hindu objection to natural selection is that Darwin posited a mechanism to explain the origin and varieties of different species through blind natural processes, without any kind of intelligent direction or design.
 
A Hindu sannyassi (monk) said we can't talk about "spiritual life" unless we first admit we are spirit. We are not these physical bodies. 
 
We are spirits in the material world.

In a 1979 essay entitled, "Abortion and the Language of the Unconscious," contemporary Hindu spiritual master Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler) distinguishes between the conscious self and the temporary physical body: 

"The idea that life is the property of souls is derisively referred to by mechanistic thinkers as 'vitalism or 'animism.' It has been a singular failure of materialistic science to demonstrate how out of a world composed of nothing but matter something arises that *experiences* matter." 

In his 1977 book, Readings in Vedic Literature: the Tradition Speaks for Itself, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami explains:

"The verbal root jiv means 'to live, be, or remain alive,' and the noun jiva refers to the individual living being, or soul. According to the Vedic analysis, the living being (jiva) is separate from the body, yet, within each and every body (including those of men, beasts, birds and plants) an individual soul (jiva) resides. Individual consciousness is the symptom of the jiva's presence. Although the body is perishable, the jiva is eternal."

Each of us has no way of knowing if the phenomenal world around us is real. The existence of the conscious self is the only thing each of us can know with any absolute certainty, through direct perception: self-awareness. (cogito ergo sum), or "I think, therefore I am." 

This is the supreme realization of Western philosophy, as posited by Rene Descartes, and Descartes erred (or deliberately misled!) in ascribing consciousness only to human beings. 

According to the Vedic literatures, Lord Brahma, the first created being, awakens and finds himself in darkness. The only thing he can know with any absolute certainty is his own existence. Taking a leap of faith, he prays to a higher power (the Supreme Lord) and all is revealed.

Madhavendra Puri dasa (Steve Bernath) of the Bhaktivedanta Institute said in 1986 that if it could be proven scientifically that the conscious self is separate and distinct from the physical body and arguably is forced to transmigrate from body to body, in 8,400,000 species of life, then it would mean we've slipped up (fallen from grace)...into a condition of life where we do not know God or other living entities by direct perception, but only ourselves. We've come to this material world not only to forget God, but to think that we can become God, that our individual consciousness is the center of the universe, and everyone and everything around us exists for our own gratification.

In a 1980 essay, "Immortal Longings," Ravindra-svarupa dasa writes: 
"Selves are beings that experience, centers of consciousness, subjects. Matter does not experience; it is without subjectivity; it is completely an object. Selves live; matter is lifeless. When the selves enter the alien, material energy, they acquire and animate bodies made out of lifeless matter. 

(The word "inanimate" literally means "without spirit" in Latin!) 

"Now the self thinks of itself as a product of nature, as an object created and destroyed in time. As the body is damaged by disease and injury, as it disintegrates with age, and as it dies, the self thinks, 'This is happening to *me.*' 

"Thus, the self enters the interminable horror of material existence, a nightmare of carnage from which it cannot awake. As one body is destroyed, nature transfers him to another, to undergo a similar destruction. 

"The self moves blindly through these bodies, driven by an overwhelming appetite for enjoyment... through interminable bodily incarcerations, hurtling us over and over into forms that fill us with fear, suffer the onslaught of injury and disease, disintegrate while we still occupy them, and are destroyed. 

"In reality, none of this happens to us, but we have erroneously identified ourselves with the body and have thereby taken these torments upon us. Death is an illusion we have imposed upon ourselves by our desire to enjoy this world." 

My friend John Antypas, half-Jewish and half-Christian, said in the spring of 1985, that I was merely repeating familiar Christian theology, the apostle Paul writing: 

"...if you live in a fleshly way, you will die. But if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, then you will live... death, where is thy sting?"

Return to: Articles

© 1998-2013 Vasu Murti