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Thread: On Faith

  1. #1

    Question On Faith

    Hello all, I had meant to post here more frequently since I joined long ago, but my own busy life has prevented me from having the time to do so.

    As mentioned in my first post, I'm what most people would call an atheist (more in the Carl Sagan sense than the Richard Dawkins sense), but I do have an avid interest in religion and those who believe. Being raised in Canada I am fairly well-versed in Western believer's arguments.

    The question I would like o hear your answers to is: what convinces you that Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma is, well... Sanatana Dharma, so to speak? I've read the principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and some modern interpretations by philosophers such as Ghandi, Aurobindo, Easwaran and Radhakrishnan. I'll confess that I like the Hindu concept of the relationship between the human soul, God, and the Universe but I can't see why that makes them any more true than say, the Christian view. Well, that's not entirely true, but my point still stands.


    Why do you believe? Or do you know? What reason do you have for your beliefs? I've heard the responses of those who follow the Abrahamic religions, but now I'm interested to hear from Dharmic believers.

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    Re: On Faith

    Hello Cytosine
    With respect, there is a difference to satisfying the overwhelming impulse to know the Divine, than to understand comparative religions. One can read the Upanishads or the Quran and still feel that they need "proof of God". The point is that academic research will just sound like more words and one will need to put initial research on hold and instead one may benefit most from finding answers for themselves before progressing further. This may lead one to any faith, but the point is that it becomes something significant and rewarding for you (the individual).

    Please don't think I am being patronising, but I hope to answer your question from this different angle.

    For me, I was seeking answers which rang true with my observations of life. It was a long search which lead me to Sanatana Dharma. For me it was strongly intellectual or jñana yoga and I even now preserver to understand puja, bhakti and the fascinating ways to Gods and Goddesses. I never set out to be "Hindu" or to find a religion or identity.

    I hope that adds some ideas

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    Re: On Faith

    I think Snip has given a very good answer to your query.

    I will add a few more.

    1. Hinduism is not based on believing (as Christianity and Islam) but based on query and the thirst for knowing the TRUTH. That is why all the upanishads and Gita are query based scriptures.

    Until and unless one is convinced and satisfied, it has the capability to answer. The part in bold indicates that it is the SD.

    2. The people at the lowest level of information will not be able to differentiate the different religions. As they move up and up through more and more thirst for knowledge of creation, self and God, they start understanding the differences in the religions.

    I can say that - Christianity and Islam are limited to school level knowledge in terms of spiritual education whereas hinduism is school- college and highest degree level of knowledge.

    Love and best wishes

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    Re: On Faith

    Quote Originally Posted by Cytosine View Post
    Hello all, I had meant to post here more frequently since I joined long ago, but my own busy life has prevented me from having the time to do so.

    As mentioned in my first post, I'm what most people would call an atheist (more in the Carl Sagan sense than the Richard Dawkins sense), but I do have an avid interest in religion and those who believe. Being raised in Canada I am fairly well-versed in Western believer's arguments.

    The question I would like o hear your answers to is: what convinces you that Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma is, well... Sanatana Dharma, so to speak? I've read the principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and some modern interpretations by philosophers such as Ghandi, Aurobindo, Easwaran and Radhakrishnan. I'll confess that I like the Hindu concept of the relationship between the human soul, God, and the Universe but I can't see why that makes them any more true than say, the Christian view. Well, that's not entirely true, but my point still stands.


    Why do you believe? Or do you know? What reason do you have for your beliefs? I've heard the responses of those who follow the Abrahamic religions, but now I'm interested to hear from Dharmic believers.
    Interesting question. Please do not take this as any offense, but I think your very posture of inquiry assumes a Western, Christian mindset. I've noticed that Christian evangelists will often approach me and ask "what do you believe about...?" And then they'll question me on the afterlife, creation of the universe, sin/judgment, or whatever. In evangelical Christianity, it seems to me that there's a strong emphasis on intellectual assent to various points of doctrine, and there's a tacit assumption that one's religion is based on his stances on a variety of predetermined issues. There's all this talk about being "convinced that Jesus is the Christ" or "convicted of sin."

    But anyway, to answer your question directly, I'm a Hindu because I was raised that way. It's part of my cultural identity as an Indian (which is especially important when you were born in the West), and it's something I've always done. I'd probably go to temples, do pujas, etc. even if I didn't believe in God.

    Which is not to say I don't believe in God. Many here will tell you that faith isn't a matter of reading Scriptures and believing; you have to have your own experiences with God. I have not had any major experiences myself, but I know many people who have. And I sense that there is a certain wisdom to Hindu philosophy, which personally convinces me to reject atheism as a possibility. Not that I'd argue with an atheist. I can't disprove him anymore than he can disprove my belief.

    Now this says nothing about what religion among the major world faiths is objectively true, but everything of the divine that I've seen has been in Hinduism. If others can get those experiences elsewhere, then that's good for them. Personally I don't believe in religious conversion, especially not to Western religions, so I have no desire to investigate other faiths.

    Anyway, I hope this helps, and please feel free to inquire further.

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    Re: On Faith

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté Cytosine,

    You mention the following:
    Why do you believe? Or do you know? What reason do you have for your beliefs?
    I think your question is well-founded and deserves a thoughtful repsonse. Many HDF members have offered valuable responses and if I may I'd like to add one more.

    You are talking of śraddhā and this is defined as faith , trust , confidence , trustfulness , faithfulness , belief in , but it is so much more. The key to this śraddhā that we find in sanātana¹ dharma is predicated upon ārṣa jñāna. Many know this but thought it was worthy to repeat what this is.
    • ārṣa - relating or belonging to or derived from ṛṣi-s (some spell rishi's) seers of truth, of Reality;
    • and we know jñāna is knowledge.
    So sanātana dharma is anchored upon, founded in, and supported by the knowledge of the seers of Reality. This is why sanātana dharma is so profound, so insightful. It comes to us via the seers that know, the exponents of Reality. That is, those seers that are exponents of this Infinite Being of Intelligence and can speak from direct personal experience.

    That is why this śraddhā is strong. There are those that are amongst us ( or have been here) on this good earth that are exponents of Reality.
    Some of us have or had the opportunity to be with these beings and are blessed for that time spent. This strengthens this śraddhā because we see these beings that are the exponents of this Being while on earth.

    Now that said this next part ( IMHO) is the cream. This experience of Reality can be had by all . That is, Reality, expansion of consciousness, Being is svatāsiddha. The notion of Being is self-revealed, self-known on a personal -subjective -intimate level. It is svatā +siddha
    • svatā = the state of belonging to one's self , ownership as sva स्व = one's own , my own.
    • siddha = accomplished , fulfilled , effected , gained , acquired, well-known
    This is the beauty of śraddhā in sanātana dharma , it can be self-proved. One can take to a technique or find the right teacher and begin to unfold this Reality within themselves.

    Hence the upaniṣad-s, the ved, various āgama's give us knowledge , then we ourselves can have the practical experience ourselves - this is the notion of svatāsiddha. If we just read about all the saints and ṛṣi-s their experinces remain on the page and not in our own being.

    This faith is to be practiced, experienced, that is why it is so grand , so profund a view of the Truth. It needn't stay dormant within a book, but can be lively within ourselves, personal, real, direct.

    praṇām

    words

    sanātana is defined as eternal , perpetual , permanent , everlasting , primeval , ancient
    • With the long ā this word could be looked as as sanā-atana or sana-atana or sana-ātan-a
    • sanā is defined as 'of old' and we can quickly see the connection to 'eternal'.
    • sana - is defined as 'lasting long' , again the connection to 'everlasting'
    • atana is a passer on, or the act of passing on
    • ātan is to extend or stretch over , penetrate , spread , overspread (said of the light) , illuminate
    dharma is from dhṛ - that which upholds, preserves , keeps ; and dharma then is defined as that which is established or firm , steadfast

    So this sanātana dharma is that which upholds (dhṛ), establishes firm that which ancient ( sanā ) and ever lasting (sana) that spreads over (ātan) and is passed on (atana).
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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