Three Buddhist monks and a driver gang rape a 14 year old girl in West Bengal!

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The arrested four persons are Karan Roka (Driver), Samten Tshedup, Phurba Dorjee and Dawa Dukpa.excluding the driver the rest  three are monks of a monastery at 10 mile.

First it was a rabid mullah in Saudi Arabia who raped his five year old daughter to death because he doubted her virginity. Now we have three Buddhist monks from a monastery in Kalimpong and the driver of the van they were travelling in who have been arrested for gang raping a 14 year old girl.

And as I was saying Buddhist monks are an enlightened lot who follow the path of Lord Buddha, a path of non-violence.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

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Islamisation of Burma?

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NEWS REPORT

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Security forces in western Myanmar fired on rioters who burned hundreds of homes in an outbreak of sectarian violence that killed at least seven people, state-controlled news media reported Saturday, adding that calm had been restored.

The rioting on Friday reflected longstanding tensions in the state of Rakhine between Buddhist residents and Muslims, many of whom are considered to be illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh. Although the root of the problem is localized — centering on the resentment of the settlers — there is fear that the trouble could spread elsewhere because of the religious divide.

The state-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin said security forces had to open fire to restrain the rioters, and state television said soldiers had been deployed to help the police in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was applied, and public gatherings of more than five people banned.

According to the television report, seven people were killed and 17 wounded. It said 494 houses, 19 shops and a guesthouse were burned down.

Myanma Ahlin said that about 1,000 “terrorists” were responsible for the rampage, and that some of them stormed Maungdaw General Hospital. State news media did not otherwise identify the rioters, but the area is 90 percent Muslim, and residents contacted by telephone said the people in the mob were Muslims. The dead were evidently all Buddhists, judging by the names of the victims mentioned in the newspaper, which added that those hurt had knife wounds. It was not clear whether the security forces were responsible for any of the casualties.

The trigger for the latest round of violence was the rape and killing of a young Buddhist girl last month. Three Muslim youths have been put on trial, Myanma Ahlin reported on Saturday. Some anti-Muslim pamphlets were circulated about the crime, apparently inflaming local Buddhists. On June 3, 10 Muslims were killed by a mob that attacked a bus carrying them from a religious gathering in the town of Taungup in Rakhine State.

Whose God is it anyway?

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“I don’t think they (people) are aggressive, I think they are possessive about their religion. That’s why problems occur” – Mrs. Sarah Cohen, speaking to Mark Ulyseas, in Live Encounters.

Is my God greater than your God?
Is my religion better than yours?
And what about atheists…God bless their souls.
And will the Mayan Calendar prove everyone wrong on December 21, 2012?

Does our reaction to words spoken by others about our beliefs, our God, tell us who we are?
Is our reaction merely the ego that resides in us like a recoiling snake ready to strike when confronted with presupposed hatred and bigotry?
Does it really matter what people say or more importantly not say about our religion?

Buddha was a Hindu.

Christ was a Jew.

So why does it make a difference nowadays? Why is there a continuing fragmentation of beliefs morphing into territorial fights for spirituality?

And why are men of the cloth – priests, gurus and “spiritual leaders” exempt from this criticism? Are they not human too?

Why do believers in a faith become filled with anger, defensive and illogical when their faith is questioned?

Is this the ego speaking?

The ego that makes every human being unique.
The ego that fills us with pride, which is sometimes misplaced.
Could it be that the ego in most cases is untrained and therefore lashes out at anything that it perceives threatens its makeshift world of spiritual beliefs?

If people descend into argument and abrasive conversation about someone’s point of belief, why do we respond thereby giving credence to a cretin whose sole aim is to challenge any which way a spiritual belief. Is it so important to confront such people? Or is it wise to listen to their words and contemplate its meaning “before” dismissing them not in anger but in love.

The truth is – If God is with us, who can be against us?
If we have such faith we do not need to joust with those of little faith.
We probably do this because our ego is immature and has yet to find its level.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

The Indian Christian Ascetic – Sadhu Sundar Singh

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India, the country that gave birth to great religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism – continues to be a fertile ground for those seeking spiritual sustenance, a meaning to life, in general. The image of the Sadhu in his orange robes is a common sight. And it was this very image that I encountered the other day that brought to mind the life and times of the Indian Christian Ascetic – Sadhu Sundar Singh 1889-1929.

Here is a brief history of His Life and Times taken from http://www.tentmaker.org/biographies/singh.htm . This article was primarily written by Edward T. Babinski, with further editing and additions by Mercy Aiken.

Sundar Singh was lauded by 20th century evangelical Christians for converting to Christianity around the turn of the century. Even in the 1970s Sundar was highly thought of by evangelical Christians. At that time I heard a Christian radio dramatization of the story of Sundar’s miraculous conversion and his dangerous preaching journeys to India and Tibet, and I bought two books that told his story at evangelical Christian bookstores. The evangelical Christian apologist, Josh McDowell of Josh McDowell ministries, cited Sundar’s conversion in the first and second editions of McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. While reading the evangelical versions of Sundar’s life and teachings, I never once ran across Sundar’s universalistic statements, not until I read Sundar’s own works, along with some of the in-depth biographies that had been written about him nearer his own day.

Sundar was raised a member of the Sikh religion. (Sikhism is a sect within Hinduism that was founded about 1500 A.D. that teaches belief in one God and rejects the caste system and idolatry.) Prior to his conversion, Sundar attended a primary school run by the American Presbyterian Mission where the New Testament was read daily as a “textbook.” Sundar “refused to read the Bible at the daily lessons…To some extent the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false.” Though according to another testimony, Sundar confessed, “Even then, I felt the Divine attractiveness and wonderful power of the Bible.”

In the midst of such confusion and while only fourteen years old, his mother died, and Sundar underwent a crisis of faith. His mother was a loving saintly woman and they were very close. In his anger, Sundar burned a copy of one of the Gospels in public.

“Although I believed that I had done a very good deed by burning the Bible, I felt unhappy,” he said. Within three days Sundar Singh could bear his misery no longer. Late one night in December 1903, he rose from bed and prayed that God reveal himself to him if he really existed. Otherwise — “I planned to throw myself in front of the train which passed by our house.” For seven hours Sundar Singh prayed. “O God, if there is a God, reveal thyself to me tonight.” The next train was due at five o’clock in the morning. The hours passed.

Suddenly the room filled with a glow. A man appeared before him. Sundar Singh heard a voice say, “How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you.” He saw the man’s hands, pierced by nails.

Jesus was the last person Sundar was looking for. After all, Jesus was the ‘foreign god’ of the Christian teachers at his school… Amazed that his vision had taken the unexpected form of Jesus, Sundar was convinced in his heart that Jesus was the true Savior, and that He was alive. Sundar fell on his knees before Him and experienced an astonishing peacefulness which he had never felt before. The vision disappeared, but peace and joy lingered within him.

To meet Christ was only the beginning for Sundar Singh. He was a Sikh. Sikhs had endured terrible persecutions in their early history. As a consequence they were fiercely loyal to their faith and to each other. Conversion to Christianity was considered treachery. Now every effort was made to woo or coerce Sundar Singh back to his ancestral faith.

Despite his family’s please, bribes, and threats, Sundar wanted to be baptized in the Christian faith. After his father spoke words of official rejection over him, Sundar became an outcast from his people. He cut off the hair he had worn long like every Sikh man. Against great opposition, he was baptized on his birthday in 1905, in an English church in Simla.

Conventional Indian churches were willing to grant him a pulpit, but their rules were foreign to his spirit. Indeed, he felt that a key reason the gospel was not accepted in India was because it came in a garb foreign to Indians. He decided to become a sadhu, so that he could dedicate himself to the Lord Jesus. He was convinced that this was the best way to introduce the Gospel to his people since it was the only way which his people were accustomed to. As a sadhu, he wore a yellow robe, lived on the charity of others, abandoned all possession and maintained celibacy. In this lifestyle, he was free to devote himself to the Lord.

Dressed in his thin yellow robe, Sundar Singh took to the road and began a life of spreading the simple message of love and peace and rebirth through Jesus. He carried no money or other possessions, only a New Testament.

“I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord,” he said, “but like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all people of the love of God.”

Sundar journeyed much. He traveled all over India and Ceylon. Between 1918-1919, he visited Malaysia, Japan and China. Between 1920-1922 he went to Western Europe, Australia and Israel. He preached in many cities; Jerusalem, Lima, Berlin and Amsterdam among others. Despite his growing fame, Sundar retained a modest nature, desiring only to follow Jesus’ example: to repay evil with kindness and to win over his enemies by love. This attitude often caused his enemies to feel ashamed of themselves, and caused even his father to become a Christian later in life, and to support Sundar in ministry.

He was quite independent of outward Church authority in all his religious life, thought, and work. He dropped out of a Christian seminary that he briefly attended. Neither did he attach much importance to public worship because in his experience the heart prays better in solitude than in a congregation. He was also highly displeased with what he found when he toured western nations that for centuries had the benefit of the Bible and whose central figure of worship was Jesus. Sundar proclaimed almost prophetic denunciations upon Western Christianity, and laughed at the way the West looked down upon religious men of the East as mere “pagans” and “heathens.”

“People call us heathens,” he said in a conversation with the Archbishop of Upsala. “Just fancy! My mother a heathen! If she were alive now she would certainly be a Christian. But even while she followed her ancestral faith she was so religious that the term ‘heathen’ makes me smile. She prayed to God, she served God, she loved God, far more warmly and deeply than many Christians.”

On another occasion, Sundar said, “I have seen many Christian women, but none of them came up to my mother.” And, conversing with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sundar said: “If I do not see my mother in heaven, I shall ask God to send me to hell so that I may be with her.” Sundar also made plain his view that, “There are many more people among us in India who lead a spiritual life than in the West, although they do not know or confess Christ. It is of course true that people who live in India worship idols; but here in England people worship themselves, and that is still worse. Idol-worshippers seek the truth, but people over here, so far as I can see, seek pleasure and comfort. The people of the West understand how to use electricity and how to fly in the air. The men of the East have sought the truth. Of the three Wise Men who went to Palestine to see Jesus not one was from the West.‘”

He travelled India and Tibet, as well as the rest of the world, with the message that the modern interpretation of Jesus was sadly watered down. Sundar visited Tibet every summer. In 1929, he visited that country again and was never seen again.

Sundar’s Faith for All Mankind

Few Christians know that Sundar was not afraid to raise his voice in favor of “universalism.” He could never deny to all non-Christians the possibility of entering heaven. In 1925 Sundar wrote, “If the Divine spark in the soul cannot be destroyed, then we need despair of no sinner… Since God created men to have fellowship with Himself, they cannot for ever be separated from Him… After long wandering, and by devious paths, sinful man will at last return to Him in whose Image he was created; for this is his final destiny.”

In February, 1929, the year Sundar disappeared on his final missionary trip to Tibet, he was interviewed by several theology students in Calcutta, India, where he answered their questions:

(Question #1) What did the Sadhu think should be our attitude towards non-Christian religions?The old habit of calling them ‘heathen’ should go. The worst ‘heathen’ were among us [Christians]…

(Question #2) Who were right, Christian Fundamentalists or Christian Liberals? — Both were wrong. The Fundamentalists were uncharitable to those who differed from them. That is, they were unchristian. The Liberals sometimes went to the extent of denying the divinity of Christ, which they had no business to do.

(Question #3) Did the Sadhu think there was eternal punishment?There was punishment, but it was not eternal…Everyone after this life would be given a fair chance of making good, and attaining to the measure of fullness the soul was capable of. This might sometimes take ages.”

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Organized religion – a celebration of faith – Part Four

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In this fourth and concluding part one shall celebrate all the wonderful, beautiful and meaningful aspects of organized religion.

Note: The author comes from mixed parentage (father Indian/Irish, mother Spanish/English). He is a Hindu and Catholic with relations scattered across the globe. They include Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. He studied English Literature at a well known Jesuit college and worked with Mother Theresa (in the 70s), Hindu, Muslim and Jewish Charities.

Organized religion may be accused of heinous crimes by self appointed guardians of rationality who question the very essence of its origin, ridicule its dogma and mock its followers. Anyone has the right to voice their opinion or even cast aspersions for this is, apparently, a free world. But is organized religion so insidious and evil as it is made out to be, or, has selective memory been the cause of rancid rumination and recrimination? It is without doubt the later.

One cannot dispute the fact that violence and propaganda continue to be used, sometimes destructively, to upset the tranquility of religiosity. But this is not originating from organized religion per se but from usurpers that have adorned the mask of the faithful to preach hatred for narrow political ends. These warped aficionados of the absurd prance in front of the media extolling the virtues of their own self importance…announcing the dispatching of death squads to senselessly killed unarmed innocent people. And this is just one example of how one organized religion is being misused by people with morals that are elastic.

History is strewn with instances of murderous religious activity which is the result of hunger for power – to subjugate people and fool them into believing that the fight is about Faith. During these upheavals there have been many followers from organized religion that have contributed their time, money and lives to help the defenseless and disenfranchised even though the later may be of another faith. So who remembers these devoted emissaries of peace and love?

The Middle East gave the world three great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And yet we face the insurmountable task of bringing peace to the region. Mohammad and Ashkenazi, my friends from the region believe that they are brothers in alms, begging for peaceful coexistence without the stench of putrefying political ambitions of ‘religious gendarmes’ who claim they represent the faith, an untruth and an embarrassment to organized religion.

Art, poetry, music, education, health care, agriculture, infrastructure and business are some areas that have benefited from organized religion’s involvement in a country. The poor marginalized people continue to be provided succor through development programs that seek to uplift their wretched lives to an acceptable standard of living – clean drinking water, wholesome food and hygienic living conditions. All this is best reflected in areas where natural calamities have occurred. The presence of committed workers of organized religion providing aid in often dangerous situations is now a common daily occurrence.  Some are killed, others kidnapped but still more volunteers continue to come forward because their ‘faith’ is stronger then the frightening reality awaiting them in some war ravaged zone.

India, home to a bouquet of organized religions, has thousands of charities run by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and others : Free health camps (family planning, eye operations, immunization, pre and post natal care, creches for migrant workers etc.),  midday meals, human and animal shelters, clothing, adoption centers and even micro interest free finance to assist women in setting up small businesses.

Some organized religions like Jainism have built hospitals with donations from people of many religious denominations to treat injured animals, tame and wild, without any charge; these also include board and lodging for our feathered friends with broken wings etc.  This is ‘Insaanyat’ (humanity) and most followers of a faith practice this. It is when some renegades discard the concept of humanity, of having humanity for the defenseless/under privileged, that desecration of others beliefs begin. And, at this flash point  power hungry politicians jump on the bandwagon to squeeze the most out of a horrid situation disregarding the blood that is spilled.

Amidst the mayhem of a modern world organized religion is like an anchor for the faithful. It soothes the soul, maintains a balance between the sublime and the ridicule.

The image of mother and child that appears in many organized religions is reflective of the sanctity with which woman is held. A respect for the mother. A genuflection that transcends the trivial words of those that seek to denigrate a belief that is beautiful and soul sustaining.

Organized religion is all this, and much more.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Organized religion – Why is God male? – Part Three

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Part Two in this series presented the viewpoint that organized religion continues to be part of a criminal world – crime & punishment. I thank the following people for spending time responding to Part One & Two: duckham, goaway, jamie_macnab, newsjunkie, haymaker, dickgreendoxon, peterbarnett, roj, cymbeline, candess

“A woman’s experience of giving birth, lactation and menstruation are alien to man and therefore this prompts man to view the woman as a lesser of the two sexes, basically unequal” – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex.

So does God feel the same?

Apparently organized religion has unequivocally projected God or the Creator as a male. Why? Why is God not female, unisex or even asexual? For instance, it is Our Father in Heaven and not Our Mother in Heaven.

Why do we use the terms Mother Nature, Mother Earth and not Father Nature and Father Earth?

Could it be that the subjugation of woman originates from organized religion that has projected God or the Creator as a male entity: The Holy Trinity, Yahweh, Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva, Allah etc.

Some examples of organized religion’s exercise in misogyny.

Bible – The woman’s role is evident in the Adam and Eve saga. The man was seduced by a woman to eat the apple from the forbidden tree.

Qu’ran – Men are to rub dirt on their hands if there is no water to purify them following casual contact with a woman (such as shaking hands).

Hinduism – The pathetic end to Draupadi (Mahabharata) and Sita (Ramayana).

There are numerous examples in organized religion that paint a lurid image of woman while at the same time honoring mothers. Is this a puerile paradox that confirms the findings of Simone de Beauvoir?

Organized religion has an apparent obsession with virgins. The Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ was a virgin and based on this premise the Catholic Church has propagated this concept/belief. Virginity is a recurring theme in the Bible.

In Islam it is believed that a man who enters paradise will be received by 72 virgins.

Judaism – There is much discussion about virgins in temples. In the Jewish scriptures virginity appears for the first time in Genesis.

Hinduism – an excerpt from the Puranas – “The sun-god said: O beautiful Prtha, your meeting with the demigods cannot be fruitless. Therefore, let me place my seed in your womb so that you may bear a son. I shall arrange to keep your virginity intact, since you are still an unmarried girl”

So basically the man can have sexual relations and still be “clean” while the woman must be a virgin to keep her purity till of course a God has intercourse with her or she gets married. One wonders about the fate of a woman who does otherwise?

Does it really matter if Our Blessed Mother Mary was a virgin? And that the Lord Jesus Christ was the immaculate conception? Mother Mary was the mother of Jesus and this should be enough to honor her.

Obviously Man has played the primary role in organizing religion to suit his needs, social, sexual and political to subjugate Woman.

Could it be that organized religion has downgraded the woman of her divine right  by emphasizing her sexual fallibility, while promoting the myth of man’s infallibility by distorting the truth in the Scriptures?

To be concluded in Part Four…

Organized Religion – Crime & Punishment – Part Two

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Part One in this series centered around the question of whether organized religion is a necessary evil or a business. This writer has received many emails extolling the virtues of organized religion and berating him for being a fashionable atheist. Unfortunately, the later is incorrect and the former, debatable.

Organized religion has continued to be part of a criminal world. It subjugates women (whipping, burning, deforming their genitals, stoning and more); threatens wayward followers with Hell; propagates the concept of bad Karma like returning as a dog in another life or whatever; uses social ostracization as a weapon and more; promoting mindless acts of killing innocent unarmed people with the reward of being welcomed and serviced by virgins in the Afterlife.

Leading organized religions of the world have been responsible for wars, genocide, mass murder, annihilation of civilizations, torture, and more. And this continues unabated -pedophilia, rape, sodomy, pillage, abuse of human rights.

So why is it that organized religion generates so much violence, hate and other criminal activity when it is supposed to be promoting, peace, love and salvation of the soul?

It is said that history, as we know it, is written by victors and rewritten by those who fiddle with Holy Books to suit individual megalomaniac agendas.

The Lord Jesus Christ was Jewish not Christian, Lord Buddha was Hindu not  Buddhist, and Prophet Muhammad (?). None of these “Holy Men or Prophets” started a business. Yet their teachings have been distorted by self appointed men of the cloth who have engineered splinter groups that now number in the thousands – each preaching a ‘niche’ brand of theology, each garnering a slice of the profits in cash and kind.

On the sidelines stand the Jews, who claim to be the chosen people of God. They rightly remind the world of the genocide they suffered in the last century but periodically commit acts of inhumanity against Palestinians.

And, have we forgotten the Spanish Conquistadors who destroyed a civilization and welcomed conversion, often with the sword? And what about the Crusades against the Muslims? And what did the Muslims do after this in the name of Allah?

Organized religion has insidiously divided society, countries and destroyed vibrant and flourishing cultures. The flock is conditioned like sheep to follow the shepherd who carries a stick, a warning to those that seek an egress from stifling rituals and costly ceremonies. Interestingly most people become defensive when this subject is broached. Examples of saints and their service to mankind, miracles etc. are quoted as if these are certificates of merit and good behavior. It is reasoned by followers that there is more good than bad in organized religion.

If this is so, then why is there a steep rise in murderous activity, the Us and Them factor, the exclusive ‘believer’ clubs and regional religious rhetoric according to race, color, language and caste? Surprisingly this is not restricted to the Middle East or Asia but is present and flourishing in North America, where ironically the term “family” reigns supreme; it implies admittance to a religious affiliation on a national scale permeating all stratas of society, a powerful influence on policy makers.

Organized religion also fosters a curious blend of racism and colonialism – civilizing nonbelievers in dress, language, rituals and peddling the dream of everlasting life by presenting exclusivity of Beliefs, the last word not the good word. And in many other cases circumnavigating the minefield of casteism to lure the gullible to the Brotherhood. The litany of phrases and euphemisms sandwiched between well packaged utterances and displays of sagacity sets the trap.

People continue to fall prey because they are like dogs, Pack animals. And it is the Pack that gives them an identity and a sense of security; the price includes succumbing to the surreptitious machinations of organized religion and its byproducts, crime and punishment.

In the words of Hannah, a Russian musician and a close friend, who lost her grandfather in the Gulag during Stalin’s era, “People need organized religion to protect them while they are busy surviving life”.

Could it be that organized religion with its debilitating side effect is singularly responsible for the ongoing dilution of Faith?

And/or have we confused organized religion with Faith?

To be continued in Part Three…

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