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ChloeB

Yoga, bible and sacred texts

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I am working towards teaching certification for yoga to have yoga classes for patients at the hospital where I work so I've been studying Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text that is concerned with the struggle of self-mastery, as is yoga, despite how much of that is lost in the trademarked strip mall studios like Bikram flooded with flocks of soccer moms, but yoga is about more than just the postures and why it has the potential to be physically and mentally beneficial to patients. Anyway, in studying this text, it is always understood these characters are not literal characters and the dialogue is not an external one, but an internal one focusing on the forces of light and the forces of good in the heart of man, the character Arjuna representing the everyman and Krishna respresenting our deepest self which is divine. And what strikes me in this, when you read a text this way, not literal, but symbolic and metaphorical, how much more you gain from it and not getting hung up on if this person really existed or if this event really happened, but the meaning is deeper imo. So my question is, why do we not see the Bible the same, at what point was it decided that this all needed to be historical characters that really lived (and again when that is insisted upon, the focus gets shifted to if they really existed and not the deeper meaning of their story)? Is it certain this was the intention of the authors of these stories?

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This is all the advice I have to offer on this subject, and I'll keep it short and sweet.

New Testament: Jesus was a cool dude and essentially reiterates the golden rule found in any ethical dogma 'Do unto others as you would upon yourself', which coincidentally fits perfectly in Buddhist ideas of how we are all one, Indra's Net, everything is everything, etc. Lots of interesting ideas if you strip away the nonsense.

Old Testament: Read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Realize the Old Testament may or may not be a giant metaphor for man's transition from hunter/gather society to agricultural settlements and how this ruined our relationship with the earth.

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This is all the advice I have to offer on this subject, and I'll keep it short and sweet.

New Testament: Jesus was a cool dude and essentially reiterates the golden rule found in any ethical dogma 'Do unto others as you would upon yourself', which coincidentally fits perfectly in Buddhist ideas of how we are all one, Indra's Net, everything is everything, etc. Lots of interesting ideas if you strip away the nonsense.

Old Testament: Read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Realize the Old Testament may or may not be a giant metaphor for man's transition from hunter/gather society to agricultural settlements and how this ruined our relationship with the earth.

Also if you're feeling lazy regarding Ismael:

Ishmael proposes that the story of Genesis was written by the Semites and later adapted to work within Hebrew and Christian belief structures. He proposes that Abel's extinction metaphorically represents the nomadic Semites' losing in their conflict with agriculturalists. As they were driven further into the Arabian peninsula, the Semites became isolated from other herding cultures and, according to Ishmael, illustrated their plight through oral history, which was later adopted into the Hebrew book of Genesis.

Ishmael denies that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was forbidden to humans simply to test humans' self-control. Instead, he proposes that eating of the Tree would not actually give humans divine knowledge but would only make humans believe they had been given it, and that the Tree represents the choice to bear the responsibility of deciding which species live and which die. This is a decision agricultural peoples (i.e. Takers) make when deciding which organisms to cultivate, which to displace, and which to kill in protection of the first.

Ishmael explains that the Fall of Adam represents the Semitic belief that, once mankind usurps this responsibility - historically decided through natural ecology (i.e. food chains) - that mankind will perish. He cites as fulfillment of this prophecy contemporary environmental crises such as endangered or extinct species, global warming, and modern mental illnesses.

[From wikipedia. Article has more in depth summary if this interests you.]

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This is all the advice I have to offer on this subject, and I'll keep it short and sweet.

New Testament: Jesus was a cool dude and essentially reiterates the golden rule found in any ethical dogma 'Do unto others as you would upon yourself', which coincidentally fits perfectly in Buddhist ideas of how we are all one, Indra's Net, everything is everything, etc. Lots of interesting ideas if you strip away the nonsense.

Old Testament: Read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Realize the Old Testament may or may not be a giant metaphor for man's transition from hunter/gather society to agricultural settlements and how this ruined our relationship with the earth.

Yeah you know because the reason God didn't like Cain's offering was really vague or not clear, something else always seemed to be going on and I agree with this, that it had to do with an hunter/gatherer vs. agrarian culture conflict and it's not an isolated story. Joseph Campbell talks about a Iroquois story about 2 twin brothers, one named Plant Boy or Sprout (agrarian) and Flint (hunter). In that story though, the roles are reversed, Flint kills his mother when he's born and the story obviously came from the perspective of the agrarian culture, as both stories seem to be an attempt to denigrate the culture they have conquered.

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Yeah you know because the reason God didn't like Cain's offering was really vague or not clear, something else always seemed to be going on and I agree with this, that it had to do with an hunter/gatherer vs. agrarian culture conflict and it's not an isolated story. Joseph Campbell talks about a Iroquois story about 2 twin brothers, one named Plant Boy or Sprout (agrarian) and Flint (hunter). In that story though, the roles are reversed, Flint kills his mother when he's born and the story obviously came from the perspective of the agrarian culture, as both stories seem to be an attempt to denigrate the culture they have conquered.

Joseph Campbell is awesome. Do you possibly have the source to that talk/essay?

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I am working towards teaching certification for yoga to have yoga classes for patients at the hospital where I work so I've been studying Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text that is concerned with the struggle of self-mastery, as is yoga, despite how much of that is lost in the trademarked strip mall studios like Bikram flooded with flocks of soccer moms, but yoga is about more than just the postures and why it has the potential to be physically and mentally beneficial to patients. Anyway, in studying this text, it is always understood these characters are not literal characters and the dialogue is not an external one, but an internal one focusing on the forces of light and the forces of good in the heart of man, the character Arjuna representing the everyman and Krishna respresenting our deepest self which is divine. And what strikes me in this, when you read a text this way, not literal, but symbolic and metaphorical, how much more you gain from it and not getting hung up on if this person really existed or if this event really happened, but the meaning is deeper imo. So my question is, why do we not see the Bible the same, at what point was it decided that this all needed to be historical characters that really lived (and again when that is insisted upon, the focus gets shifted to if they really existed and not the deeper meaning of their story)? Is it certain this was the intention of the authors of these stories?

Does an author 'own' what other people may make of what he/she writes?

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I think he's the greatest. Yes, I sure do, it was in Power of Myth - http://books.google....ant boy&f=false

Jesus christ. Pulling this quote out from a few pages down...

"At last comes the great moment. There has been a celebration of real sexual orgy, the breaking of all rules. The young boys who are being initiated into manhood are now to have their first sexual experience. There is a great shed of enormous logs supported by two uprights. A young woman comes in ornamented as a deity, and she is brought to lie down in this place beneath the great roof...And when the last boy is with her in full embrace, the supports are withdrawn, the logs drop, and the couple is killed. There is union of male and female again, as they were in the beginning, before separation took place...then the little couple is pulled out and roasted and eaten that very evening."

Is that uh...true? That was quite damn graphic from Mr. Campbell.

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Does an author 'own' what other people may make of what he/she writes?

No, I would hope that would never be the case.

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Jesus christ. Pulling this quote out from a few pages down...

"At last comes the great moment. There has been a celebration of real sexual orgy, the breaking of all rules. The young boys who are being initiated into manhood are now to have their first sexual experience. There is a great shed of enormous logs supported by two uprights. A young woman comes in ornamented as a deity, and she is brought to lie down in this place beneath the great roof...And when the last boy is with her in full embrace, the supports are withdrawn, the logs drop, and the couple is killed. There is union of male and female again, as they were in the beginning, before separation took place...then the little couple is pulled out and roasted and eaten that very evening."

Is that uh...true? That was quite damn graphic from Mr. Campbell.

Omg, I forgot about that. It's been some time since I read that and watched the videos, but that Plant Boy and Flint and Cain and Abel things stuck with me always. But yes, talk about graphic, then the little couple is pulled out and roasted, wow. Interesting thing he said though, in a hunting culture when a sacrifice is made, is is a gift or a bribe to a deity, like with Cain and Abel and when a sacrifice is made in a planting culture, the figure itself is the god, the person who dies becomes the food, like Christ. That whole book fascinates me. I need to read it again.

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Old Testament: Read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Realize the Old Testament may or may not be a giant metaphor for man's transition from hunter/gather society to agricultural settlements and how this ruined our relationship with the earth.

I thought that a large part of OT was meant to be the political hoax by king Josiah?

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I thought that a large part of OT was meant to be the political hoax by king Josiah?

Er- not sure/aware of this. Why not elaborate?

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I read views, listen to discussions, hear opinions of others,

a multitude of ideas, profound truths could have been missed by

a large section of humanity; due to the human need to be obsessed with

finding the sequence of events, rather than the essence of what we can extract.

A lot of our discussions are entertaining, amusements for our minds, but the distilled essence

needs to be considered.

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Posted (edited)

ChloeB

For the past several days, I've been off galavanting in the wider world, and so haven't had access to this thread.

Interesting to hear that you are working on therapeutic yoga, and of course I wish you all the best with your certification.

The Bhagavad Gita surely does invite interpretation. Arjuna has a better moral character, I think, than Every(wo)man. He would lay down his arms rather than slaughter his way to the top. Faced with Arjuna's refusal to obey an immoral order, Krishna reacted... well, it seems to me that we hanged the Krishnas of this world after Nuremberg. I suppose gods get away with it.

I don't necessarily dispute that "Cain and Abel" reflects a tension between ways of life (not just agricultural vs. hunter-gatherer, but rural vs. urban, and maybe some other dichotomies, too). As you think about the story, maybe consider that it might not originally have been set during the second human generation. Genesis is an edited-together work, editied much later than the component stories were composed. All that links this story to the First Couple is that the boys's mother is named "Mother" (Eve) and her husband was the man (Adam). The first time the Original Woman is called Eve is at 3:20, in a throway verse just moments before the Cain and Abel opener. There are already people out there who might kill Cain - where did they come from?

So, C&A may have once been a story about a much later time than the second human generation, I think. In any case, I would guess that by the time the tale was written down (and almost surely before it was edited into this "book" within the larger Jewish Bible), the concern might not have been hunter-gatherer vs settled agriculture, but more the rural south (Judea) vs. the cosmopolitan north (Israel), and why God ever tolerated those northern weirdoes at all.

Food for thought.

Omg, I forgot about that.

How could you forget that? :) 

Edited by eight bits
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Posted (edited)

No, I would hope that would never be the case.

So, when you asked...

So my question is, why do we not see the Bible the same, at what point was it decided that this all needed to be historical characters that really lived (and again when that is insisted upon, the focus gets shifted to if they really existed and not the deeper meaning of their story)? Is it certain this was the intention of the authors of these stories?

...you were not suggesting that some Christians, who read the biblical narrative as if it was real events - rather than metaphor and allegory like the Yoga Sutras or Bhagavad Gita - grant the author of that scripture "ownership" over it's meaning?

Edited by Leonardo

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I am working towards teaching certification for yoga to have yoga classes for patients at the hospital where I work so I've been studying Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text that is concerned with the struggle of self-mastery, as is yoga, despite how much of that is lost in the trademarked strip mall studios like Bikram flooded with flocks of soccer moms, but yoga is about more than just the postures and why it has the potential to be physically and mentally beneficial to patients. Anyway, in studying this text, it is always understood these characters are not literal characters and the dialogue is not an external one, but an internal one focusing on the forces of light and the forces of good in the heart of man, the character Arjuna representing the everyman and Krishna respresenting our deepest self which is divine. And what strikes me in this, when you read a text this way, not literal, but symbolic and metaphorical, how much more you gain from it and not getting hung up on if this person really existed or if this event really happened, but the meaning is deeper imo. So my question is, why do we not see the Bible the same, at what point was it decided that this all needed to be historical characters that really lived (and again when that is insisted upon, the focus gets shifted to if they really existed and not the deeper meaning of their story)? Is it certain this was the intention of the authors of these stories?

I think literal interpretation has a valuable place in studying, too. Literal interpretation can and does weave threads of wisdom amongst the great works of Literature, to the kernels of advice that find themselves to us personally.

For example: from the Bible

Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7:3-5

From Buddhism :

“It is to see the faults of others, but difficult to see once own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one's own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.” http://thinkexist.com/quotation/it_is_to_see_the_faults_of_others-but_difficult/155121.html

From a Nigerian proverb:

"A he-goat doesn’t realize that he smells" (Happiness Hypothesis, Pg. 63).

All of these quotes in essence convey the same wisdom, same message. Regardless, if the interpretation is metaphor, proverb, symbolic, or literal interpretation it can contribute to ones journey to self awareness.

Edited by Sherapy
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In Hindu scriptures it not important whether or not you believe the characters are real the universe is going to do its thing anyway. In Christianity if you don't believe that Jesus and God is real and died a on a cross, then you don't get an afterlife. So if you have to prove to yourself and everyone else it is the truth and nothing but the truth and the only truth you have to except all the craziness like the flood and walking on water, so you can say Jesus raising from the dead is true story. IMO.

Edited by GreenmansGod
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In Hindu scriptures it not important whether or not you believe the characters are real the universe is going to do its thing anyway. In Christianity if you don't believe that Jesus and God is real and died a on a cross, then you don't get an afterlife. So if you have to prove to yourself and everyone else it is the truth and nothing but the truth and the only truth you have to except all the craziness like the flood and walking on water, so you can say Jesus raising from the dead is true story. IMO.

I think I am one of those that uses my life to reflect and adhere to the truths that appeal to me, by walking the path and seeing where it leads me. I think it is similar to the Christian that finds their truth in the afterlife, or the Buddhist who walks in ahimsa. Except my truth of choice is of a liberal nature, meaning I gravitate towards open ended explorations, and I commit to this with the same vigour and passion a person who believes in an afterlife would I suspect, lol. For me, these type of conceptual explorations serve as opportunities for me to explore the shadows and see where I end up, Not unlike Plato's, Allegory of the Cave, I don't want to can get stuck in the darkness of my own ignorance because I only see my own take/perceptions as the truth.

Edited by Sherapy
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A piece of the Bhagavad Gita that always struck me is when Krishna as Arjun's chariot driver tells Arjun that ----sorry from memory I can't quote it--- it's not what you believe in that's important but the strength of how you believe. It was pretty profound for me at that time. Still is actually.

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I am working towards teaching certification for yoga to have yoga classes for patients at the hospital where I work so I've been studying Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text that is concerned with the struggle of self-mastery, as is yoga, despite how much of that is lost in the trademarked strip mall studios like Bikram flooded with flocks of soccer moms, but yoga is about more than just the postures and why it has the potential to be physically and mentally beneficial to patients. Anyway, in studying this text, it is always understood these characters are not literal characters and the dialogue is not an external one, but an internal one focusing on the forces of light and the forces of good in the heart of man, the character Arjuna representing the everyman and Krishna respresenting our deepest self which is divine. And what strikes me in this, when you read a text this way, not literal, but symbolic and metaphorical, how much more you gain from it and not getting hung up on if this person really existed or if this event really happened, but the meaning is deeper imo. So my question is, why do we not see the Bible the same, at what point was it decided that this all needed to be historical characters that really lived (and again when that is insisted upon, the focus gets shifted to if they really existed and not the deeper meaning of their story)? Is it certain this was the intention of the authors of these stories?

First time I've come across this post Chloe and I was so pleased with what you have espoused that I have bypassed all commentary just to thank you for your eloquence. Yes, yes and yes - I have learned the same from my gnostic teacher, the battle is internal - suddenly the bible made sense, I highly recommend anyone to really consider what they read in this aspect, it changed so much for me and the Bhagavad Gita is also what I have to thank for that, along with those who helped me comprehend it in the same light you have now done.

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A piece of the Bhagavad Gita that always struck me is when Krishna as Arjun's chariot driver tells Arjun that ----sorry from memory I can't quote it--- it's not what you believe in that's important but the strength of how you believe. It was pretty profound for me at that time. Still is actually.

I always remember the line "Me, I am always in action". I believe it was within the same scene, it was quite a long chat that one. :yes:

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First time I've come across this post Chloe and I was so pleased with what you have espoused that I have bypassed all commentary just to thank you for your eloquence. Yes, yes and yes - I have learned the same from my gnostic teacher, the battle is internal - suddenly the bible made sense, I highly recommend anyone to really consider what they read in this aspect, it changed so much for me and the Bhagavad Gita is also what I have to thank for that, along with those who helped me comprehend it in the same light you have now done.

Very well said, the bible can be read metaphorically and symbolically. In fact, any of the sacred texts can be.

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First time I've come across this post Chloe and I was so pleased with what you have espoused that I have bypassed all commentary just to thank you for your eloquence. Yes, yes and yes - I have learned the same from my gnostic teacher, the battle is internal - suddenly the bible made sense, I highly recommend anyone to really consider what they read in this aspect, it changed so much for me and the Bhagavad Gita is also what I have to thank for that, along with those who helped me comprehend it in the same light you have now done.

Thank you. I've heard myth described as a false thing that reveals a great truth, I just loved that. Just puts a different perspective on these religious texts when someone says, oh they're just myth and also when you get off the hangup of the literal interpretation, it opens a new world to them.

Edited by ChloeB
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Very well said, the bible can be read metaphorically and symbolically. In fact, any of the sacred texts can be.

Well, most definitely large portions of the old testament can be. I do believe Jesus was a historical figure who represented man that has overcome himself aka: a true Son of God, the events of his life tell of what men who have not done so and are lost in fascination with the material do to the truth when it is presented to them. The ego will do whatever it takes to blind us from the truth, even killing the messenger.

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Well, most definitely large portions of the old testament can be. I do believe Jesus was a historical figure who represented man that has overcome himself aka: a true Son of God, the events of his life tell of what men who have not done so and are lost in fascination with the material do to the truth when it is presented to them. The ego will do whatever it takes to blind us from the truth, even killing the messenger.

Mentioning that, Jesus representative of a man who has overcome himself and looking at his death symbolically, I think about that because the asanas (poses) of yoga are are a means to an end, quieting of the mind and connecting to deeper self and your breath, a surrender of ego for a time to hear a voice deeper, whether you call that God or your higher self or grace, but yoga practice tyspically always ends with the corpse pose and that is considered the most important pose of all, all of what you have worked up to leading to that. You can see the parallels in the sacrifice, surrender, death, resurrection of Jesus, imo.

Edited by ChloeB
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