Exploring Immortality And Time

Today’s post comes from Matheus Yuhlung, a Christian blogger who is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy and currently lives in New Delhi, India. Matheus’ post today reflects the same philosophical spirit as his post on inspiration, but this time Matheus explores the concepts of immortality and time. This is a post that will make you think, and urges us all to explore these concepts on our own journeys.
Time, Philosophy, India, Prague, Travel, InterfaithIn the morning I was reading George H Morrison’s sermon entitled The Springs of Endurance where he quoted St. Augustine as saying: God is patient, because He is eternal; and it set me off thinking, can that be the same for us human beings as well? So I went off exploring the idea.
Things standing shall fall, but the moving ever shall stay.–Basavanna
 
This quote from an ancient Indian poet,  offers a contemplation on the temple of God as a state of being rather than a thing built with bricks and stones. These lines are the concluding verses of a poem where he is singing of how his soul is going to live forever (housing his God in the depth of his heart) while the temples that are standing now shall fail in the test of time.
 
Though originally written to a fictitious and formless god call Siva, those two sentences from the poem quoted above reminded me of what Apostle Paul wrote: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
  
Once, we had a pastor visit us from the Bible Society of India; and though he was young, he looked old as he was extremely thin and had an impoverished figure. He spoke in a low tone, in broken English with a heavy rural accent, yet, it was such a blessing to hear him speak.
 
The breath that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils, he said as he waved his shaky, skinny hands back and forth from the pulpit as if he was trying to contain his uncontainable ardour for Christ, that breath, he said again, still runs through, and inside, you and me and that is what that makes us cry with an upward longingness.
 
I believe anxiety and impatience gets us only when we limit ourselves under the matrix of time and space. The fact that God is always on time (though it may not seem like it to us) is because God is eternal, and is outside of time. The old Indian philosophers were very much aware that their souls were eternal, so much so that Sankara ended up saying: Brahm satyam jagat mithya – which can be loosely translated as: “Only Brahm is real and everything else is an illusion.”
 
For them ‘Brahm’ was an eternal-world soul, while ‘jagat’ meant the world. They believed the latter to be a complete illusion, a consequence of human ignorance. Hence, they ignored its existence in complete totality. Interesting, isn’t it?
 
Truly speaking though, time is real. This world is real and so is eternity. I sometimes like to think our bodies became mortal (and so did time and space) only when Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit. If that is true, we’re living simultaneously both in eternity and in time, only separated by a thin delay of mortality.
 
Anyhow, if we’re immortal beings, eternal,  shouldn’t we be patient with our lives as well, in the same way God is patient with us? Should we seek to believe and live out our faith and let God take care of the rest?
 
This whole exploration, these deep concepts are complicated, but I love it how Hermann Hesse puts it in his book Siddhartha, writing:
 
But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man … wholly Sansara or wholly Nirvana; … This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real. Time is not real, Govinda. I have realized this repeatedly. And if time is not real, then the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity … is also an illusion.
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Inspiration as Communion, Combustion, and Co-existance

Today’s inspiring post on inspiration and connection comes from Matheus Yuhlung. Matheus is a Christian blogger who is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy and currently lives in New Delhi, India. This beautiful post in is one part theory and one part poetry, and all parts wisdom. 

Fireworks, Interfaith, Celebration, Inspiration

It is often said that the communion between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit was so spectacularly un-containable that they had to create men to join in their blissful co-existence. Though, there really are no theological grounds or scriptural references to support such sayings; it still never fails to fascinate me.

As a Christian, my greatest source of inspirations has always been the Bible; which in turn is said to be inspired by God himself. And yet, I can’t help but be inspired by things that are not based on scriptures too, like the one I mentioned above.

The way I see it, the act of being inspired and inspiring others is both a conscious and a subconscious act. It’s like a need-based dependency, where we are obligated to take a chunk out of another being’s soul or to give ours to them, to motivate each other in our spiritual sojourning.

For this, we hand pick some sources and curate it with utter care and imbibe the inspirations we cultivate from them in our lives. While, there are some sources through which inspirations just grow in our souls when we come in contact with them, say: culture, people, education, art et cetera.

But as much as inspirations can act as a metaphysical adhesive that glues us together for good, it can also work in the opposite direction as well; and so Rabindranath Tagore wrote:

My song has put off her adornments. She has no pride of dress and decoration. Ornaments would mar our union; they would come between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers.

Ornaments of my soul i.e. ego and its siblings called pride and vanity would certainly mar our union and this is one thing that I’m most uninspired to do.

But, if life is a spontaneous combustion of a great blue flame, the act of being inspired and inspiring others, I believe, becomes the intricate entwining of our souls that forms the very basic elements of hydrogen and oxygen that burns this great blue flame of our spiritual co-existence. And if in such a flame, I’m by the very nature of my being obliged to burn; I’ll put my best effort, to try to burn with the finest particles of my soul.

For more from Matheus find him on twitter:  @matheusyuhlung  

The Top 10 Tradition

We would be remiss to end this month of exploring tradition without addressing the “Top Ten” tradition. As 2013 comes to an end we all want to look back at what the year has held. We have selected ten posts, not because they are the best, or the most popular, but because they have represented some important moments from 2013. Even though we have only selected ten, (hey! it’s tradition!), the top thing to remember from 2013 that everyone’s journey is special and filled with wisdom, love …and lint.

  1. A Crazy World — A beautiful post about life and loss in war-torn Syria
  2. Mosaic — An artistic representation of the beauty and the diversity of humanity
  3. Eating our Values — A post about living one’s values through what one chooses to eat
  4. Creating Spirituality — A poignant post about religion, creativity and spiritual experiences
  5. In Defense of Prayer — A story about grief, confusion, prayer and atheism
  6. Doomsday for DOMA — A post that marks the end of the Defense of Marriage Act in the United States
  7. Heifer International and My Brother’s Gifts —  A sweet post about keeping a loved one’s spirit alive
  8. Manu Temple — A post from Jenni Taylor about a beautiful exchange in India
  9. Strangers and Angels — a post from Autumn Elizabeth about a beautiful exchange in Chicago
  10. The Proverbial Women —  the post that started it all…

Heifer International in the Spare Change Spotlight

Today, we introduce another great organization that could use your spare change. Heifer International fights poverty and hunger all over the world, while maintaining a commitment to environmental sustainability.

It is impossible to talk about food without talking about hunger. Some of us are fortunate enough to only experience hunger as a desire to eat, but for those who are served by Heifer International, food means life and continued hunger means death.

We believe all people deserve dignity, opportunity, and a future free from hunger. We believe we provide the tools of transformation to bring about that opportunity.

Heifer International works all over the world to end hunger and poverty, and they need your help. There are lots of ways to get involved via their website, or check out their amazing Gift Catalog. By buying a flock of chicks as presents, you not only help spread the word about Heifer International’s work, but you also actually give a flock of chicks to someone who needs it!

Tomorrow, we will have a personal post about the ways Heifer Gifts can change even the giver’s life.  For today, we leave you with the words of Vineeta Sharma speaking about her experience with Heifer International and their incredible set of values that guide all their work.

I finally got an opportunity to attend the Cornerstones Training taking place at Alwar, Rajasthan, India. The training started with a candle-lighting ceremony. Interestingly, each participant had to light the other one’s candle. By the time the last partaker’s candle was lit, the training hall had kindled beautifully, exuding brightness and positivity reaching every corner of the room and perhaps the corner of our hearts as well! It was a sight! 

I learned that the Cornerstones in Heifer’s perspective are  time-tested principles and values that are followed in order to make development ecologically sound, socially just, culturally appropriate and economically viable. They constitute the holistic approach to development to which Heifer International will always aspire and strive for.

Vineeta Sharma of Heifer India 

Sophia Sighting: Manali, India

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By: Jenni Taylor

Location: Manali, India

I took this picture in Manali while visiting a Buddhist temple. Circumambulate is a bit of a funny word, one we don’t use very often, but refers to making a slow and somewhat meandering circle. People came to the temple and made their slow circle around, including a smaller circle around the prayer wheels. Sophia spoke to me through this funny looking sign.  Faith journeys may be frustrating, circular, confusing and sometimes seemingly without purpose. Sometimes it  feels like I am right back where I started even though I have spent  a long time travelling. But guess what? We are still growing, still moving, still learning and experiencing and going deeper, even when we don’t realize it. Nothing is meaningless or in vain. So, circumambulate, and enjoy the journey.

The Darkness

By: Jenni Taylor

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

During my time in Kolkata, India I was able to visit the Mother House, where the Sisters of Charity carry on the work of Mother Teresa. The building itself is difficult to find, and unmarked except for a simple wooden door and a gold colored name plate on the side that reads Mother’s name. Two little boys had been sitting on the doorstep making paper airplanes as we waited for the door to be opened. I figured that happened when she was still around, too.

A sister, in the same blue and white sari that Mother Teresa was famous for wearing, led us quietly to the tomb. Other sisters were kneeling nearby and singing a hymn quietly together. A few women from the neighborhood passed back and forth through the open entry way, clearly on business. There weren’t many of us, but Indians, Westerners, and Europeans sat together in silence, listening to the hymn and looking at the tomb. It read, “Love one another as I have loved you”. Flower petals were placed carefully below, also reading, “love begins at home.”

A few minutes later we explored the tiny museum next door with some of Mother Teresa’s belongings and her life story. I stopped in front of one poster called “The Darkness.”

I’ve heard Mother Teresa’s name my whole life. I’ve even read a few of her books, mostly simple sermons on loving the poor and the spiritually needy. But somehow I had missed this important piece.

Basically, Mother Teresa wrote down her intense conversations with God, but she eventually reached a point where she could no longer feel him or hear him. She called this The Darkness, and Jesus was the Absent One.

Reading that felt like a rock in my heart. I know it sounds silly, but I wish she had still been there so I could give her a hug and let her know she wasn’t alone. I’ve been in the darkness before. I have a feeling I’m not alone in that either, but I hardly expected company such as Mother Teresa. Doubt is not something to mess with. It’s hard, it’s hurtful, it’s painful and it’s the loneliest place on earth.

I don’t have all the answers. Knowing one of the most famous Christian women on earth didn’t have all the answers either is simultaneously encouraging and scary as hell. But there’s something about faith.

If you are in The Darkness, good. It’s a process and it may hurt more than anything else has ever hurt you before. But stick it out. Don’t give up. Keep questioning and searching and pulling and reaching and live a life of love, even when that love feels so far away. God is there.

Maybe Mother Teresa couldn’t feel God for a while, but hearing the hymn of the other women who have given their lives to her and God’s work, he was there, he was multiplied, and the world was changed.  If it comes down to a decision, faith or feeling, choose faith. I can’t promise anything, but I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

Sophia Sighting: Himalayas

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By: Jenni Taylor

Location: Himachal Pradesh, North India

While travelling through North India, my group and I stopped for breakfast on the side of the road. We were surrounded by mountains, and could watch the river beneath the drop off. Below the coffee shop, I sneaked a peek at a grandfather teaching his granddaughter how to walk. He saw me watching and looked up with a smile. I could see Sophia here in the shadow of the mountains, love being passed down the generations from his wrinkled hands to her baby fat ones. Age, place, language, culture and time did not matter here. Just family love, smiling up at me.

Manu Temple

By: Jenni Taylor

I met a woman today. I smiled at her and she half smiled back. I motioned to my camera, asking permission to snap a photo. She nodded her head graciously and gave another half smile as I clicked away.

She was crouched on the ground, listening to the other temple women chatting nearby as they all kneaded the wool in their hands around simple wooden spindles, wrapping yards of yarn around their elbows and arms as the strands became longer. They were all in the sun, soaking up the heat from the ancient stones beneath them.

It was March, but the nights were still bitter and the sunshine was a treat in this valley of the Himalayas. Men, women and children were all around them, taking off their shoes, entering the temple, ringing the bell above the door to awaken the gods and taking pictures of their families on this particular holy day. The women continued their work, mostly oblivious to the movement around them. One women lay down on the stone to take a cat nap in the warm sunshine.

I entered the temple, came out again, snapped the picture of the woman sitting alone, continued walking around. A sign told the story of Manu and the flood, and how the caste system had been created. For some reason I came back to her. There was something about her wrinkles and her half smile and her loneliness setting her apart from the other old women. I wanted to give her something, anything. I began to dig through my purse. Money? No. She’s not a beggar. Chapstick? That’s just silly. I finally found a pair of pink woolen mittens at the bottom of my bag. Perfect. I walked up to the woman for a second time, this time coming close and bringing my hands together in the traditional Indian namaste greeting. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but it was enough.

I bowed to her, smiled, and handed her the mittens. She chuckled a bit from surprise, but took them and gave me a deep nod, with a real smile this time. As I walked away, the other women had stepped closer, murmuring about the gift and the unexpected bit of good fortune. She was gently tugging the mittens on and wiggling her thumbs in their warmth. I bowed to her again before leaving and she smiled, waving a pink hand at me before I disappeared around the corner.

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