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Arts/Society Spiritual America: Are More Walking the Dharmic Path?

Discussion in 'Language, Arts & Culture' started by harbansj24, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. harbansj24

    harbansj24
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    We Are All Hindus Now

    America is not a Christian nation. We are, it is true, a nation founded by Christians, and according to a 2008 survey, 76 percent of us continue to identify as Christian (still, that's the lowest percentage in American history). Of course, we are not a Hindu—or Muslim, or Jewish, or Wiccan—nation, either. A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity.

    The Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, says this: "Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names." A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur'an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal. The most traditional, conservative Christians have not been taught to think like this. They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."

    Americans are no longer buying it. According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life"—including 37 percent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone. Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside church is growing. Thirty percent of Americans call themselves "spiritual, not religious," according to a 2009 NEWSWEEK Poll, up from 24 percent in 2005. Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity for "the divine-deli-cafeteria religion" as "very much in the spirit of Hinduism. You're not picking and choosing from different religions, because they're all the same," he says. "It isn't about orthodoxy. It's about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that's great, too."

    Then there's the question of what happens when you die. Christians traditionally believe that bodies and souls are sacred, that together they comprise the "self," and that at the end of time they will be reunited in the Resurrection. You need both, in other words, and you need them forever. Hindus believe no such thing. At death, the body burns on a pyre, while the spirit—where identity resides—escapes. In reincarnation, central to Hinduism, selves come back to earth again and again in different bodies. So here is another way in which Americans are becoming more Hindu: 24 percent of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, according to a 2008 Harris poll. So agnostic are we about the ultimate fates of our bodies that we're burning them—like Hindus—after death. More than a third of Americans now choose cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America, up from 6 percent in 1975. "I do think the more spiritual role of religion tends to deemphasize some of the more starkly literal interpretations of the Resurrection," agrees Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard. So let us all say "om
     
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  3. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Here's another newly opened thread about The secret of the soul > #1
     
  4. Ozarks

    Ozarks
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    I like this post being brought to to the fore on this site. Why? Well for one I agree with the article. It shows what I have been seeing to be true. Cafeteria (buffet style) Christianity is becoming the norm. Why? I have asked and I have seen "why". I believe it centers around two disconnect issues.
    One: Some believe in the words of Jesus but feel the church has become a business and has lost its way. Others feel that the church (which has come to represent Jesus) denies the compassion of God (why would God cast the Dalai Lama into Hell?) and tries to force a definition on God and limiting Him to a narrowly defined box (usually the church).
    Two: Imagine a Christian if you will. Visualize him or her. Western/Northern European right? Think of a Hindu... from India right? And so on. It seems that there is a small group who seek to find a path that is ethnically connected to them. That is why Wiccan, Asatru, Celtic/Druid spirituality and so forth are becoming more popular.
    So the split becomes this; on one hand it is the "many paths to God" belief. Which should erase the concept of ethnicity in relation to faith. On the other hand it is "What is the white guy doing in the Gurdwara?" line of thought. Where ethnicity is a major part of faith and a return to ethnic/tribal beliefs.
    Which is right? Well that depends on the follower. I see and understand both and in both I can find the fingerprints of God.
     
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  5. AusDesi

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    The more Globalisation takes hold, the more older religions and thoughts will change. Similar things happened with Christianity in the past. It is happening with all major religions. Even Hinduism is going through radical change.
     
  6. Satyaban

    Satyaban
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    From my perspective I find the article to overstate the case. I think some of these folks who are mostly young will leave their wiccan and Celtic tribes. More often than not when I mention my beliefs I am considered silly. I can hardly get past reincarnation. I get assailed upon because of our deities and first mention to Christians that they have three and they say "But that is different." I try to explain that we have assigned a lessor deity for every aspect of God as a way of dealing with the immensity of the Absolute.

    Next is the idol thing. "Er do you have a crucifix?", "Do you have an image of a man who looks nothing like the historical Jesus?", "Does your Catholic church have statues in it with visible red hearts in their chests and a huge image of a man hanging from a cross with thorns on his head?" and the answers are basically the same "Oh well that's different we don't pray to them." So I try to explain to them that if you believe that God is present in everything than you can see God in whatever you like but that thing is not God nor is it an image of God because God has no image.

    Well I don't quite see it.

    Peace
    Satyaban
     
  7. AusDesi

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    Ye I think this case applies more to England, Australia and other less religious countries not America.

    Most Aussies I know are either Atheist, Agnostic or consider many paths to god.
     
  8. Ozarks

    Ozarks
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    AusDesi Ji,
    I live in what is called the "Bible belt" in America. A area that is very traditionalist in many views. And while there are many, many churches here there are also a growing number of people who are either non-traditional Christians or non-Christian for the reasons I mentioned above.
    I will also mention that many of the self identified Christians I know really are that because that is the only way they know of. Much of this is changing now because of the internet and cable/satellite tv which introduces other thoughts/ideas into areas that are otherwise remote. This and the generation of baby boomers/hippies that are starting to become senior citizens tend not to have the hard core traditionalist viewpoints of their parents so things are easing up from the peer pressure perspective.
     
  9. Lee

    Lee
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    Is this really about religion or changing societies I wonder?
     
  10. AusDesi

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    Yes its changing societies not religions. As an example. About a 1000 years ago, Indian society was quite liberal towards Sexuality and Revealing clothing. That all changed after Islamic invasion and then blending in of Islamic culture into India.

    Now, sure some people converted to Islam but a vast majority didn't. Yet the purdah system came in, that does not mean Hindus suddenly became Muslims.
     
  11. Satyaban

    Satyaban
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    Namaste

    Sometimes when my conversations lead to someone opining their religious views I question them relative to mine to reveal the sameness through the back door. I never open the subject and often Christians are all too eager to. How many of us have had the experience of being approached and talked to like we were totally unaware of their story?

    When I talk to these folks I speak more in generalities to include karma and God's presence everywhere. The basic are the same aren't they, worship God in your manner and do no harm? If they feel "you must be born again" guess what, I do too but literally.

    Some people seem to react in a positive way while other say if you do not accept Jesus as your lord and savior you are doomed with no chance of redemption. It is then that I mention that I did so as a child and ask if I am still covered and they say "probably not" and I should be "born again" as they say Jesus said. I am not harping on Christianity but the behavior of some people.

    More to the point of the topic the writer may be correct in a general sense but the fundamentalist bent of the Christian churches is very strong and vocal. They are the heart of the Republican Party at the moment and pandered to.

    Peace
    Satyaban
     

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