To say Hinduism is complicated is like saying the universe is big. That might be true, but it doesn’t give you an idea of just how big it is. Then again, what else would you expect from one of the world’s oldest, best-preserved religions with thousands of pages to pour over and dozens of divisions in thinking?
This is why I’m covering just the basics of Hindu philosophy, the profound ideas of Brahman, Atman, and the illusion of separateness, and how these concepts encourage peace.
It all starts with Brahman.
I love sci-fi fantasy and fantasy stories, but many sci-fi and fantasy writers run into a huge problem when they create their worlds: exposition.
The more complex the world, the more they must explain to their reader. Maybe it’s the political lay of the land, the relationships between galactic empires, or the magic and technology characters use to fight each other.
In any case, the more different a world is from our own, the more it needs explaining. Of course, the best way is to show, not tell. …
How did we become human? I’m not talking about primitive Homo sapiens, I’m talking about the recognizable humans we think of today, ones with expansive languages, cultures, and social dynamics.
You might think the answer is the simple, straightforward one we’ve all heard before, the answer repeated in mythologies around the world: Fire.
Fire lit up the night and allowed us to stay awake longer, telling stories and constructing tools. …
Eckhart Tolle says, “In the greater scheme of things, human beings are meant to evolve into conscious beings, and those who don’t will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness.”
But do those “unconscious” humans really suffer the consequences? What consequences? As it is, there are many people who get away with making other people suffer — their crimes aren’t discovered or, if they are, the legal system lets them go, maybe with a slap on the wrist, or sometimes less than that if they’re wealthy or influential.
You’ve probably heard this ancient Indian fable before. Six blind men touch different parts of an elephant and come to completely different conclusions about what an elephant is.
People generally use this story to warn against claiming absolute authority on a subject based on subjective experience. That’s all well and good except when they use it to dispute the accuracy of scientific knowledge and say, “Scientists are blind! They don’t know the true form of the elephant! They’re just touching different parts and assuming.”
Those critics are partly right but mostly wrong.
While science doesn’t have the answers to everything and probably never will, this fable of the elephant just doesn’t hold up in critiques against science. A simple fact knocks it over like limp linguini. …
This is not a comfortable question. Too often when people ask this, they don’t want the true answer, they want whatever allows them to sleep soundly at night. If that’s you, click away. You might be happier for it.
Look, humans don’t know everything about the universe — there’s more of what we don’t know than what we do know — but we do know at least two things.
One, we know everything you and I are made of. We already have the language to describe the most basic parts of the universe — all the elementary particles and the forces moving them around, including the ones inside our bodies. …
Who’s to blame for society’s troubles? The society as a whole? The individuals and groups within society?
According to Eckhart Tolle, it’s a matter of “negative energy fields.”
Tolle is a so-called spiritual teacher best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, both of which were very popular. But as we all know, popularity doesn’t make someone right.
I’ll admit some of Tolle’s work has helped me find more peace and calm, however, accepting everything a person says just because you like specific parts of it is like eating a broccoli and tree bark sandwich: you’re better off separating the good from the bad rather than trying to stomach the whole thing. …
“Before you get going in the morning say to yourself, ‘Today I’ll meet people who are meddlers, ingrates, bullies, cheaters, envious and antisocial people. All of this happens because they don’t know the difference between what’s good and what’s bad.’” — Marcus Aurelius, To Himself 2.1
For many modern Stoics seeking to imitate icons like Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, this mantra is an empowering way to start the day. …
Getting into the practice of meditation is like an old cow peeing in a bucket, says Buddhist monk Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.
At first, not much comes out, just a little trickle, and it’s tough to squirt out even that tiny amount.
But over time, these tiny trickles can fill a whole bucket. We have to be patient. We have to relax and let go. If we try to force it out all at once like a young cow trying to pee, we might run into some problems, not the least of which is disappointment and shame.
Why can’t I pee as fast as I want to pee? we might think. I feel like other people can pee quickly, but I seem to struggle with every drop. At this rate, I’ll never fill this bucket! …
Peace of mind is hard to find these days and I’d say it’s harder to find than ever before because, while the world is just as full of suffering as it’s ever been, social media shoves it in our faces, unfiltered, every day.
Despite this, I’m less stressed than I’ve been in a long time and I owe that in large part to mental health counseling, prescribed medications, and most recently meditation.
I wish I had known about this particular meditation in college — before an exam, after an exam, hell, during an exam. I could’ve used some peace of mind throughout the chaotic grind of study sessions, last-minute projects, half-baked group presentations, and understaffed clubs and volunteer work. …