Friday, October 19, 2012

De Baptism

De Baptism Image
I've long been of the opinion that the ritual of infant baptism as practiced by many mainstream Christian denominations is essentially pointless from a spiritual and magical perspective. My reasoning? If we assume that the Christian concept of salvation is based on spiritual realization, we must also take into account the basic truth that nobody else can do spiritual work for us. The problem with infant baptism is quite simply that while participating in a religious ritual led by another person can help speed one's spiritual progress, an infant really has no idea what is going on. Some babies just cry through the whole thing and find the water used unpleasant, which seems to me as about as far from a genuine spiritual awakening as I can imagine.

While baptism does serve a social function, it seems to me that people could get their socialization in clubs or organizations that are not religious in nature. This strikes me as a better state of affairs on the grounds that it would ensure that human politics and spiritual realization do not become conflated with each other. I'll add that this is not limited to churches, and the same point could be made about many magical orders and societies. There's a reason that when Aleister Crowley first put together his plan for A.'.A.'. he forbade socialization among its members. He had seen firsthand what political struggle had done to the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and had played a significant part in it himself acting as Mathers' representative in London during the "revolt of the Adepts."

Several new websites are now offering "de-baptism" certificates for those who wish to formally leave their Christian Churches. While requesting a certificate from a website is at least as pointless as an infant baptism ritual from a spiritual perspective, its political significance cannot be overlooked.

The idea of getting "de-baptized"-- or having your name officially deleted from the baptismal registry-- is relatively new, but one which the Catholic Church is beginning to take seriously, and with grave concern.

The movement may have begun just a decade ago when Terry Sanderson, head of the National Secular Society in Britain, posted an unofficial "de-baptism certificate" on the society's website, mostly as a joke. To date it has been downloaded at least 100,000 times.

"It was a joke to begin with, but now it has taken on a new significance because there are so many people who are anxious to leave the church that they are actually taking it seriously now, and they want some way to make their break with the church formal," Sanderson told VOA. "Often the church won't acknowledge their desire to leave."

Many disenfranchised ex-parishioners have begun to take it a step further, seeking official, legal acknowledgement for de-baptism. For instance, 71-year-old Frenchman Rene Lebouvier recently filed a lawsuit against the church after his initial request to have his name crossed off the church's baptismal registry was denied. Last October, a lower court in Normandy ruled in his favor, making him the first man to be officially de-baptized, though a local bishop has filed an appeal.

The very existence of de-baptism demonstrates the extent to which people have become angry with the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of ongoing scandals and the continued embrace of political positions very much at odds with those of the modern world. It remains to be seen if the current surge in de-baptisms represents a trend, or if it is simply the latest Internet craze that will fade as quickly as it emerged.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meaning Of Tao

Meaning Of Tao Image
Couple of days back (24th Aug, 2006) i was initiated in a Tao temple here in Singapore. i went there to quench my thirst about Tao Philosophy. being someone interested in comparative religion, i found it interesting to co-relate between the Tao Philosophy and Judio-Christian-Islamic philosophy. Tao is one of the most ancient philosophy, also it refers to the ancient/folk religion of ancient China. on the other hand islam is the last major monotheistic religion, the most modern philosophy in terms of religious ideas. yet the fabric that binds the two is amazing and ever refreshing to discover.

The very meaning of Tao is very enigmatic. Literally it means 'the Way', or 'the Path', although it means much more. Those who are familiar with the undescribable nature of the Supreme Spirit (Param-Atma in Hindu terminology) the Abstract description of God, can easily co-relate the idea of Eternal Tao and the unfathomable idea of God. From Taoist sacred texts we find:

The Tao that can be told is not the Eternal Tao;

The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.

The Nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

It is the same Judio-Christian-Muslim idea of God. The idea that God can not be named was so great in Judaic tradition, they still write God as G-d as a symbol of respect and to mean that God can not be named in reality. In Quran we also find this idea of God as an impersonal reality far beyond human intellect. Quran says clearly, "Glory to be God, the Lord of Inaccessibility, above everything that they describe" (37:180) or in simpler terms, "Nothing is like Him" (42:11).

Quoting from the wikipedia on Tao: There is the 'Great Tao', that is the source of and guiding principle behind all the processes of the universe. Beyond being and non-being, prior to space and time, Tao is the intelligent ordering principle behind the unceasing flow of change in the natural world. In this sense Tao gains great cosmological and metaphysical significance comparable to the theistic concept of God (particularly the first person of the Christian Trinity) ; the Greek concept of the logos; or the Dharma in Indian religions.

thus when as a muslim i recognize the symbology of Tao and can relate it to the abstract transcendental idea of God in other religion including that of Islam, it was easier for me to appreciate the Taoists when they say, 'everything comes from the TAO'. i had no problem agreeing with the idea that everything began from the God, Al Azim (another name of God found in Quran, meaning incomparably Great) and Al Badi (the Originator).

Remembering the opening chapter of the Quran, namely AlFatiha - i was saying to myself that in every prayer muslims pray for the Tao. you wonder how?

Remember the quranic verse when it says,

Ihdina aLssirata almustaqeema.

Guide us on the straight path. (chapter 1, verse 6, the Quran)

Now Tao exactly means the Path. so if the Quran was in chinese instead of arabic we had to read it as 'Tao' and in essence we basically praying to Eternal Tao (that is the God transcendental) for the tao (the path, the dhamma, the guidance).

Also if you read Tao Te Ching, the way it describes the Eternal Tao, you can co-relate with the names of God mentioned in the Quran, for example: Al Waajid - God The All Perceiving;

Al Badi - God The Originator.

For a more scholarly explanation pls read this article by Sachiko Murata that talks about the Tao of Islam. its a very refreshing article not only for muslims but for all.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ideas Of The Sufi

Ideas Of The Sufi Image
One of my friend, Viktor asked, "Can you post some about what Sufi really is? I mean, I read the wikipedia entry, but I'm still not smarter. What does it mean for you? IS IT A FAITH? IS THIS KIND OF A SUCCESSOR TO ISLAM? Or how does it fit in the entire religous cosmos?"

Thanks Viktor for asking. Not everything can be defined. Sufi idea is one such thing. You can't define Divine Love, can you ? (but u can realize it, u can atleast try to explain it with certain limitations). You have to realize the truth in your heart cause its so subtle and at the same time, so grand, words are not enough.

To make things clear at first, Sufi Idea is NOT FAITH. Sufism is philosophy among the religions and it is a religion among the philosophies. It is realization of God, devotion and love. It is not a successor to Islam, but it continues even after Islam.

Sufis are mystics and the central idea of Sufism is believed to have existed from the beginning of creation. All Messengers, Biblical Prophets are Mystics. Traces of Sufism or Mysticism are to be found in all periods of History. Abraham, Moses, Jesus propagated the Divine Love, Sufism until the coming of Muhammad, by whom THIS BROTHERHOOD WAS FORMED, while it is advanced by Ali and later spiritual personalities.

The Sufi SEES THE TRUTH IN EVERY RELIGION. They understand the hidden message in all faith because each are longing for the same goal, uniting with the Ultimate Soul, God, Heaven in Father who created Man in His own image, with His own Spirit.

If invited to offer prayers in a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple, the Sufi is ready to do so, knowing that all people worship the same God, the Only Being, no matter what Name they use. YET THE SUFI'S TRUE HOUSE OF WORSHIP IS THE HUMAN HEART, IN WHICH THE DIVINE BELOVED LIVES.

Sufism is a religion for those who wish to learn religion from it, a philosophy for those wanting wisdom from it, a mystical path for any who would be guided by it to the unfoldment of the Soul, and yet it is beyond all these things. It is the Light of Life, which is the sustenance of every soul. Sufism is the Message of Love, Harmony, and Beauty

The tendency of the Sufi IS TO UNITE HUMANITY than to differ. That is why they readily appreciate and seek the inner beauty of the teachings of all spiritual leaders becaues all souls are inspired by the One God. Not distraced by the outer differences but able to seeing the "inner reality", they can transcend beyond any forms, culture, language and even religious faith.

Sufism is the ancient school of wisdom. The Mysticism that was only taught to very close disciples of Jesus and also Muhammad are often quoted inspirations. If you are seeking to undestand life and yourself, then you can call yourself Sufi. Every seeker after the ultimate truth is really a Sufi.

For more detail, you can read from the following links,

10 Sufi Thoughts,

History of the Sufis and Unity of Religious Ideas,

Spirit of Sufism and Sufism.

I may go on quoting many things about Sufi, but its better to leave it to you to discover more.

Surely all inspirations come from our Beloved God and He only shows the path whoever seeks for it. As Jesus said, "I SAY UNTO YOU, ASK, AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN YOU; SEEK, AND YE SHALL FIND; KNOCK, AND IT SHALL BE OPENED UNTO YOU"."

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