Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The God Who Created the God Who Created the God

Religious philosophers tend to argue in favor of an original intelligent cause as an answer for the question of our origins. It stands to reason, they argue, that an original cause be accepted to avoid the paradox of beginninglessness. The original cause being of course a monotheistic god, who is assumed perfect and benevolent.

From these roots come the marked difference in the linear and finite versus cyclic and infinite models of the Occident and the Orient, along with some wildly varying concepts of god or its equivalent. When it comes to god and gods, much is assumed and little is certain.

The pursuit for an original cause is much like a walk in Escher's paradox.

Original Cause as a Non-Solution

Proposing that there is an original cause is philosophically unsatisfactory, inasmuch as the original cause always remains incomprehensible to us smaller units, its originality unproven in the face of the possibility that our original cause is but the a link in a chain of causation. The concept of a greater creator merely begs the question whether there might be more creators at work somewhere up the pyramid of creations.

If there is one creator god for the existence we know, it is in fact entirely plausible that there may be any number of other, more compassive gods further up the line of creations, the extent of which we'd never be able to decipher as either infinite or finite. The seemingly definitive solution of an original cause now effectively returns to square one, once again face to face with the paradox of infinity and beginninglessness.

Brahma, the Hindu demiurge, is born from a lotus growing from Vishnu's navel.

Hierarchy of Creator Gods in Indic Lore

The Vaishnavite mythology, found throughout the Puranic lore, posits the existence of a single eternal transcendent deity, Vishnu, who dwells beyond the world of creations, and also permeates the creation as its supporting substratum. At the dawn of creation Vishnu, lying at the bottom of each of the universes he created, let a lotus sprout from his navel, atop which awoke Brahma, the creator god of the Hindu trinity, set to organize the elements of the cosmos provided by Vishnu.

This prime creator, in turn, set forth a number of Prajapatis, progenitors of mankind and diverse species, along with a number of sages to impart wisdom to the creation. In a fair number of epics the lesser gods, created by Brahma, mistake their immediate creator to be the supreme creating deity and the original cause, and in fact he is found to be so deluded on a number of occasions himself.

The god Brahma also features in early Buddhist lore as one among a number of Brahmas, each presiding over their own Brahma-worlds, fancying themselves as creator gods, frequently original causes in their own right. These Brahmas feature in a number of legends from the Buddha's cosmic adventures, and it was in fact Brahma Sahampati who urged the Buddha to go forth and preach the dharma in the wake of his enlightenment.

The theology of some Vaishnavas, most notably the Gaudiya tradition and the Hare Krishnas, further posits that Krishna is, rather than an avatar of Vishnu, in fact the original source god, of whom Vishnu is an extension for purposes of creation. Yet they are in some respects identical, one deity and one mind, and yet again different in some minute manners. Overall, I get the effect of calling to an office for the person responsible, only to be routed around in circles until the line breaks. No wonder some prefer speaking face to face, whether it's gods or service personnel.

Not surprisingly, adherents of the Shaiva school likewise claim Shiva to be the supreme god, as again the Shaktas insist that Shakti is the ultimate mother-godhead, of which Shiva, Vishnu and the rest spring forth. Faced with the immense plurality and conflicting opinions of the Indic gods, good old Christian monotheism might begin to seem like a welcome breeze of fresh air. If so, please breathe to your liking before starting the following section.

David Tarleton: The Aeon Sophia at the Birth of the Demiurge

Gnostic Demiurge and Judeo-Christian Creator God

I recall a lively conversation I once had with an elderly Jehovah's Witness. He was adamant that the mainstream Christian Church was wrong in claiming that Jesus was God, while he was in fact the first creation, as also god's instrument for the making of the creation that sprang forth — all standard Jehovah's Witness theology.

Incidentally I was also once filled in into the higher secret of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, again by an elderly gentleman somewhere in northern Finland. All was fine with my theology, but the fact that I was a monk at the time. Skipping the preliminaries, he related how we, as married couples, are to evolve and one day become creator gods and goddesses of our own universes.

To make things even more confusing on the Judeo-Christian front, we are confronted with the question of their god being perhaps a legion of gods, as the plural address Elohim and covenants to "not have any other gods" indicate. How much do the Elohim have in common with the gods of the Olympos mountain, the Egyptian Pantheon and the Hindu gods of Himalaya?

It was the Gnostic tradition that first identified the Judean God as a so-called Demiurge, an inferior and imperfect deity responsible for the creation of an imperfect world. Gnostic estimates of the lesser deity span from an embodiment of evil to merely an imperfect yet benevolent being. The Gnostics view the birth of the Demiurge as an accident that was never meant to happen, in effect describing an unplanned pregnancy leading to the birth of a defective god.

In contrast to demiurge are the eternal Pleroma, self-manifest beings transcending our dimension, ascension among whom is the final destination of the humans. As fascinating as it is, one can't help but wonder whether there might be yet another layer of causation beyond the supposedly eternal Pleroma, who as a matter of fact sound remarkably similar to the residents of the Immaterial Realms of the Buddhist cosmology, who are again superceded by the cryptic nirvana.

The Judeo-Christian God's wrath in the Genesis incident over Adam's acquisition of classified knowledge is interesting in its own right. We even find the following admission in God's own words (3.21): "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." Interestingly, the serpent was right over the fruit's effects, while God was in fact trying to prevent access with threats of death upon eating. Now that ought to get the conspiracy theorists running!

Left: Intimidating Jaffa servant of an Egyptian Goa'uld. Right: The Ori grant supernatural powers to their Priors.

Evil Gods of Science Fiction

The well-documented traits of the God Institution have also found their way into popular entertainment. For an example, the popular TV-series Stargate features two separate races of malevolent beings posing and worshiped as gods, only to be overthrown by their subjects in due course.

The Goa'uld, evil and technologically advanced power-hungry parasites, used humans for slavery for millennia in the guise of various Egyptian, Greek and Oriental gods, posing as immortal lords and the creators. The Goa'uld were snake-like creatures who bonded with human hosts, integrating themselves with the hosts' spinal cord and the brain. (Incidentally the often-controversial kundalini-energy of Hindu Tantrics literally means "female serpent" and, when activated, rises up the spinal cord and yields psychic powers.)

Again the Ori, an ascendend incorporeal species, inspired massive crusades to have everyone worship them, for they gained power through the energy sapped from lower sentient beings. For them, the religion is a conduit for transferring upwards the energy expended by the worshipers. In return for worship and absolute dedication, they offered their followers a false promise of ascension, unwilling as they were to share of their power. Really, exactly how many of the available promises of afterlife are guaranteed real deals? It's a pity religions don't come bundled with a money-back guarantee.

While there would be a number of other juicy examples to illustrate the concept, let's focus on the gist of the idea, namely the assumed integrity and benevolence of the said god or gods. There is no reason to assume that a more powerful being would have also evolved in benevolence, even if the religions of the world do tend to take the goodness of their gods for granted. Hey, the gods of the Zoroastrians being the demons of the Brahmanas and vice versa, one or other of the gods out there has got to be evil! And evil or not, faithfully worshiped by devout followers.

Something is fundamentally wrong with the above scenario.

Final Thoughts

The final day of reckoning pending and yet to be proven, there are few compelling reasons for worshiping one authoritarian god or the other. Given the insubstantiability of the said claims of absolute originality, omnipotence and omniscience, there is little reason to accept demands of allegiance. Neither claims of rightful ownership of our souls or threats of damnation or annihilation can serve as a basis for a healthy, working relationship. If there's one thing that puts me off on so many levels, it is intimidation.

If some choose to voluntarily pursue the worship of a god or several gods or goddesses, whether it be for solace, pleasure, profit or wisdom, I don't see it as objectionable as long as the relationship remains non-abusive. If a god or the gods are real, existing and sentient beings, it stands to reason that our free will ought to be respected, and all forms of life, regardless of evolutionary level, ought to have certain rights. Just like we also treat nature and animals, eh? Do unto them as he did unto us...

Coming from a god who created hell, a promise that he can save me from going to hell isn't exactly playing it fair. You cannot create a threat and then play the good guy for alleviating the threat! When a threat is produced to gain advantage from the object of threat, it is called coercion. Use of coercion with self-produced ultimatums spanning infinity cannot be the work of a a truthful, loving and benevolent being.

Not that I'm an atheist. Atheism as a concept is far too limited, as is theism along with its bretheren ideologies. Pantheism and monistic nondualism are high on my chart of working elements for a coherent overall picture of existence. No single theory in itself seems to be adequate for capturing the essence of existence, and a comprehensive Theory of Everything is yet to be written. Be that as it may, it seems evident that the era of authoritarian creator gods is nearing its inevitable end.

Further Reading

Brahma (Buddhism): A fascinating gloss on the role of the god Brahma in Buddhist lore, little known to many Hindu adherents who fancy Brahma as a Hindu deity. Ironic as it is, the god of the Brahmanas was identified as one of the Brahmas known to the Buddha long before the Puranas began to grow into their current renditions!

Brahma (Hinduism): A good overview of the Hindu lore of creation, the birth of Brahma, who was to become one of the popular Hindu trinity, and the subsequent gods he created for the sake of expanding his domain. Path to Deification: How we evolve into gods, as understood in the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Gnosticism: Pleroma and the Demiurge. Goa'uld and Ori: Two fictive races of false gods in the Stargate universe.


Vegman said...

Have you seen this?

Will the real Buddha Avatar please stand up?

Are you a follower of the real Buddha or the bogus Buddha?

Neil said...

Interesting Ananda (thx for sharing your thoughts), a plethora of entities for sure, and thoughts and oddities too. Big old wheel hey...good old world too.

In regards to the Mormon theology, imagine this, 'you' really dig the kundalini thing and opening of the heart. You meet a lovely lady and it all mixes real good. You find love and the company of her fully satisfying. You join the Mormon Church, find out that marriage can be sealed for eternity with each other - you and her I mean. And the potential for love is ever-new and increasing for eternity. Would you go for it?

Or, would you hold to the theology that we are not these bodies, that family life is a cause for bondage. That, at death its the last good byes with your lover for eternity - ofcourse unless you both have some karma to sought out, then you both have to come back to the 'prison house' ;) to deal with it again. What would you choose?

And imagine this: If you do the Mormon thing you can even seal your kids to be with you for eternity. With a Hierarchy of Gods above you, to learn from. And then you can grow and grow in the Celestial forever.

But, then comes the Gaudiya and tells you, 'ah that sounds like demigods and you would still be conditioned!'

Maybe Bob Marley was right!!! {@_@} When he said 'if that cap fits, wear it.' Such a simple man...who loved company of ladies too ;)

It is a faith things I reckon, what we want to be in life...

Anyhow, I dig Joseph Smith ever since I met an elderly Mormon couple who used to invite me for very nice cooked fried chicken (years ago). And believe me, they loved each other deeply...and didn't really have to talk too much to communicate with each other. Their energy was flowing very nicely ;)

Here is a good read from a Santo Daime man, it just about sums it up for me (about love), but hey I have always been in the mode of ignorance and worshipped spirits! Spiritualsim was always my thing. Be sure to be true I say! But oh man, forever I will be grateful for all the teachers of love...and most especially the beauty of devotion. And an extremely kind bhakti teacher...

Oh yeah here is the Santo Daime wisdom, Daime means 'give me'. A nice lady guided me to this book, there is hope yet. Dig these words Ananda, they are very beautiful and contradict nothing I have learnt so far:

"...Divine love is our goal. To reach it, we need to understand that all we know about love, from the most bold and voluptuous passions to the most ecstatic and refined flights, is nothing but a phase on the progressive limb to Divine Love. Love's battles is the struggle for the transmutation of dense energy into divine, ethereal, elemental, and angelic energy. The volupuousness of forms, textures, and touch is substituted by the volatility of subtle emanantions in which higher consciousness is contemplated.

Love can become an unending well of obscure desires and karmic redundancies or a supreme realization, a dive to our most profound origins. Because it was love that brought God to manifest creation. And it is for love and only through love that He reveals this secret to consciousness and to the heart..."

by Alex Polari De Alverga, Forest of Visions

I will post some Joseph Smith teachings soon, to share why I think he is way cool. Its all about tolerance, and at the same time believing from the heart what one has seen in one's heart. To be sure to be true.

Neil said...

Here is Joseph Smith on Tolerance. I can easily think of many christian, muslim, and jewish groups who could do well to read this. What to say of myself:

We can cultivate harmony in our communities by respecting the freedom of all people to believe according to their own conscience.

Articles of Faith 1:11: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”11

“We deem it a just principle, and it is one the force of which we believe ought to be duly considered by every individual, that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. Consequently, then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts.”12

“I have the most liberal sentiments, and feelings of charity towards all sects, parties, and denominations; and the rights and liberties of conscience, I hold most sacred and dear, and despise no man for differing with me in matters of opinion.”13

“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

“It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers while they dandled me on their knees. …

“If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.”14

“We ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangely present themselves, and are so congenial to human nature, against our friends, neighbors, and brethren of the world, who choose to differ from us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God.”15

“When we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be free, possessing unalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws of nature and of self-preservation, to think and act and say as they please, while they maintain a due respect to the rights and privileges of all other creatures, infringing upon none. This doctrine I do most heartily subscribe to and practice.”16

“All persons are entitled to their agency, for God has so ordained it. He has constituted mankind moral agents, and given them power to choose good or evil; to seek after that which is good, by pursuing the pathway of holiness in this life, which brings peace of mind, and joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a fulness of joy and happiness at His right hand hereafter; or to pursue an evil course, going on in sin and rebellion against God, thereby bringing condemnation to their souls in this world, and an eternal loss in the world to come. Since the God of heaven has left these things optional with every individual, we do not wish to deprive them of it. We only wish to act the part of a faithful watchman, agreeable to the word of the Lord to Ezekiel the prophet (Ezekiel chap. 33, verses 2, 3, 4, 5), and leave it for others to do as seemeth them good.”17

“It is one of the first principles of my life, and one that I have cultivated from my childhood, having been taught it by my father, to allow every one the liberty of conscience. … In my feelings I am always ready to die for the protection of the weak and oppressed in their just rights.”18

“Meddle not with any man for his religion: all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong.”19

“We will … cultivate peace and friendship with all, mind our own business, and come off with flying colors, respected, because, in respecting others, we respect ourselves.”20

“Although I never feel to force my doctrine upon any person, I rejoice to see prejudice give way to truth, and the traditions of men dispersed by the pure principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”21

Mr. Ananda said...

Good points on the family-centered vs. bondage approaches. It certainly is an appealing offer, that is, if one chooses to believe deification along with your family is possible, and moreover is as easy as the LDS would have it.

Then again, if one wants it easy, supposedly just chanting Hare Krishna once is enough to clear you up of sins and give you the merits equivalent to hundreds of Vedic sacrifices, giving you one-step access to heavens. Speaking of Vedic, the family unit was in fact more central to the ancient Brahmanas than it was in the post-Upanishadic renunciate traditions many of us are more familiar with.

They certainly do go one step beyond the ordinary Christian box, I'll grant them that. While some of their ideas come across as a bit sketchy to me, overall I do have a positive impression of them.

Two LDS brothers once even offered to help me with the production of some booklets I was printing for Narayana Maharaja back in the days... No doubt just a way to become more acquainted and sway us over by demonstration of their virtue, but a nice offer nevertheless.

As it stands, heaven is in our heads and hearts, and I have enough heaven as it is to keep me from embarking on yet another cosmic mission under someone's tutelage.

Mr. Ananda said...

Vegman: Have you seen this? Will the real Buddha Avatar please stand up? Are you a follower of the real Buddha or the bogus Buddha?

The whole theory about the other, real Buddha is sketchy at best. I first ran across the idea in Bhaktiprajnana Keshava's writings. They're taking a positively odd route there.

To begin with, the Buddha was incorported into the Hindu lore after his life — the "prediction" lore is a fabrication to give Hinduism an edge over Buddhism. How bizarre that some are now trying to separate him from the same, positing "another" Buddha who was avatara proper, of which practically nothing is known.

The whole "secret mission" thing is a sham every bit as much with Buddha as it is with Shankara's purported hidden mission. Even if admittedly the latter, and his gurus in particular, did bridge Vedanta and Buddhism closer to each other, it sure didn't lead the Buddhists back to the Vedas, as the cosmic plan was supposed to be.

Speaking of Shankara, note how he refers "mistakenly" to the Buddha as Sugata, making it quite evident that Sakyamuni Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama is being spoken of. With regards to Raghunath Chakravarti's commentary on Amarakosha, he shows absolutely nothing to back up his opinions. Why would Sakyamuni, "the Sage of the Sakyas", be a reference to some totally obscure and unknown Vishnu-avatara instead of the Buddha who hailed from the Sakyan clan?

I notice BB Tirtha translates "Sakyamuni" as "eminent sage".... I suppose you can do that, but it's a bit absurd considering the historical Buddha is repeatedly and consistently referred to as Sakyamuni (in Mahayana-sources), and in fact most of the ephitets found in the Amara-kosha citation are commonly featured across Buddhist texts. And even the whole Amara-kosha was compiled by Amarasimha, a Jain or Buddhist scholar in the court of emperor Chandragupta II. Now why on earth would he have gone on about some obscure and unknown Vishnu-avatar Buddha in his dictionary?

Who is Raghunatha Cakravarti, anyway? You see him cited almost exclusively only in the context of his commentary on this one section of Amarakosha. The only reference I can find aside that comes from an edition of Amarakosa with Jatarupa's commentary, where Raghunatha Cakravartin is credited as a 17th-century author of a commentary Trikanda-cintamani. Even the few references to Trikanda-cintamani out there seem to primarily be recyclings of his Buddha-comments.

Again, who is Raghunatha Cakravartin? What's his background? What's his tradition? What are his arguments? If you can't refer to supporting arguments, at least you need a reason to assume the author holds some authority for making a statement. Why does his opinion matter? Can I quote any 17th century commentary of my liking on a 4th century text, and just assume it's all totally valid and authoritative? It seems to me that BB Tirtha is building his flaky Buddha house with a deck of cards. Not that you could blame him for this, he just follows the Hindu apologist league and its centuries of ingenious interpretations.

Mr. Ananda said...

Here's a demonstration how to prove that elephants journey across the sky.


hastinAm AkAze gacchanti ||

"The elephants journey across the sky."

From the above, we can easily understand that elephants journey across the sky.


You just get any damn thing written in Sanskrit, and it becomes instantly authoritative regardless of who wrote it, when, and why. This is a very poor standard of evidence, there is no actual argumentation to prove the point as logical. All there is are appeals to faith in a mish-mash of Sanskrit statements.

mmfiore said...

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neil said...

Finishing of a good book Ananda, "Holotropic Mind by Stan Grof" and read a quote just now that may relate to the theme of this thread in some way. Remember 'if that cap fits wear it' ;) well here is the quote:

'As in the quantum wave theories of modern physics, the Void may be perceived as being made up of an infinite number of 'quanta', that is, bits and pieces that make up complete sets of possibilities for virtually anything to occur. By 'choosing' a particular reality, that reality is created in consciousness. pg 171 ch. beyond a shared reality. end quote.'

Correct me if I am wrong, but I do recall within the Vedanta Sutra there is a similar concept in regards to the potency of the Atma.

What amazes me is that within the collective different manifestations have appeared, and many of the realities have a dominion aspect. For example Jesus is supreme, or Krsna etc etc. And then polemics, and ongoing developing offences. And then the collective grows and evolves...

There would be much peace in the world if we simply honored our choice of spiritual reality and gave others the same grace. The way I feel lately in my heart is that, 'this is the way the Organism wishes to move.'

But hey, each can choose. Let's hope its not Kyle or Cartman and the comic Jihad! ;) cya

Neil said...

Rather than dominion, which seems so natural and easy, maybe to see the beauty can raise something to its heights. I have always seen the Krsna conception that way. And Jesus? Very kind human love that embraces the the shaman who dies, goes under, then rises to heal.

Hesitant Iconoclast said...

In what way do you think atheism is limited?

Brooks said...

when you view all of existence as being like a dream or an illusion (as viewed in Mahayana Buddhism and apparently Advaita Vedanta), then there's no need for a creator, b/c there's no creation in the first place

Mr. Ananda ∴ μ α ω λ said...

It is like this... Said Iam Thatiam Once for All!

╠══════► ∞ ♥ ∞ [ONE-LOVE]
╠═════► ∞ ☯ ∞ — ☺|☻ ═► [Quantum-Bipolar-Bliss]
╠════► ☺☺|☺☻|☻☺|☻☻ ═► [Solar-Lunar-Binary]
╠═══► ☺☺☺|☺☺☻|☺☻☺|☺☻☻ [Solar-Ternary]
╠══► ☻☺☺|☻☺☻|☻☻☺|☻☻☻ ═► [Lunar-Ternary]
╠═ ◄ ≡ ☺ ≡ ☯ ≡ ☻ ≡ ► ═╣ [ Mirror World = Above & Outside ]
╠═══ ∞ ♥ ∞ ☯ ∞ ♥ ∞ ═══╣ ALL-AS-ONE: ONE-LOVE-AXIS!
╠═ ◄ ≡ ☻ ≡ ☯ ≡ ☺ ≡ ► ═╣ [ Mirror Brain = Below & Inside ]
╠══► ☺☻☻|☺☻☺|☺☺☻|☺☺☺ ═► [Solar-Ternary]
╠═══► ☻☻☻|☻☻☺|☻☺☻|☻☺☺ [Lunar-Ternary]
╠════► ☻☻|☻☺|☺☻|☺☺ ═► [Lunar-Solar-Binary]
╠═════► ∞ ☯ ∞ — ☻|☺ ═► [Bipolar-Quantum-Bliss]
╠══════► ∞ ♥ ∞ [ONE-LOVE]

@@@ IN-YOUR-TUBES: Wisdom Matrix ≡ Sahasrara Celestial Lifecycle Harvester

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