Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Masks of the Soul by Benjamin Walker, Book Review

submitted by GU

I used to go to a Zen monastery and some days I would sit under the shade of their gazebo and chat with a certain monk. One day told me that another monk from another monastery told him that he would return as a dog because he loved his dogs too much. This was a threat. He felt that it would be okay to come back as a dog because his dogs have a very nice a nice life. We talked about other threats, like having to come back as a dung beetle. I said that I didn’t think that a dung beetle had it so bad either. I would like to come back once as everything that has ever existed. I once watched a dung beetle, and it was busy rolling a piece of dung. I saw no sad expression on his little face. Another friend of mine said that it was better to come back as an animal than to be a woman in India. At that moment in time she was pretty angry when she learned how some women in India are treated.

What is this about religion? There are always threats, or warnings as some like to express it, and this includes all religions.

In his book, Benjamin Walker gives the history of reincarnation as well as giving a case for and against it. I just gave you a case against it in my first paragraph. It is used as a threat in order to make people become what another person wants them to become or how they want them to even act. It is used as a weapon. I don’t do weapons very well.

The belief in reincarnation, according to Walker, is that you can only work off your bad karma or sins on the material plane. Heaven, hell or purgatory cannot do this for you. Of course, as I have been told, gurus can take on your karma, but when they do they really get sick. If I could find a photo,I would show you one of a guru who got sick and whose disciple looks very well now.)So when a soul has been rewarded with heaven or a hell in another realm, that soul still has to return to earth in another body to continue to work off his/her karma. Yes, Hindus and Buddhists both have heavens and hells, but most don’t talk much about the hell aspect of their religion, and some will say heaven and hell are on earth. The only difference is the Buddhist hells are not forever, even though it may feel like it.

And only a perfect being will never have to reincarnate again. See any perfect beings around? Don’t look at the gurus or the priests, etc. for they are only window dressing. Their disciples or lay members may make it to God faster than they, because from what I saw, many are more moral than their teachers and are often shocked and left with a deep feeling of betrayal. Of course, I really don’t wish to take away the fact that there are saints in this world. I have to believe this much.

Now the Druids have a different view of transmigration, “which is it is to experience the different spheres, to learn to distinguish between good and evil, and to learn to appreciate and choose the good. The soul does not become extinct to perish on the death of the body, nor go to any place of torment, but after living for a time with the departed ancestors, it enters into another state of existence in another body in another sphere.” I much prefer the Druid view and think it more reasonable even though rather endless, which I really don't mind.

Reincarnation is also supposed to be a progression, but then why haven’t we seen much progression? After all it has been a very long time for some souls, who, when hypnotized claim that they lived in Atlantis. Since I have only known of a few really good souls, I think that this process is a little slow.

Walker then gives cases of reincarnation, but then he pulls the rug out from under them by exposing some of these cases. The potential Dalai Lamas, he says, can be coached to pick the right items that had belonged to the last Dalai Lama—and this without anyone really realizing it. Or maybe there are akashik records, as some teach, akashik meaning ‘ether’ which constitutes a cosmic library where everything that was ever thought or had done is stored. So when people who speak another language or talk about their past lives under hypnosis they are tapping into these records. These are only a couple of explanations that he tosses out. Never does he say what he really believes, but I would love to know.

Critics of reincarnation oppose it on moral and religious grounds. Well, I can also criticize hell on moral grounds. What kind of God would send someone to hell for eternity for what harm he/she has done in a short lifetime? Or for not believing?

Critics also say, “How many people change their behavior due to the belief in reincarnation?” Good point. As for me, I often wondered, "Why do the gurus just get worse with this teaching?" (Of course now I know after reading the Science of Yoga.) But how many people change due to the teaching of hell? Well, there are those who fear it and do what is right. I had a Buddhist monk tell me that he didn’t do such as such because he didn’t want to go to hell. Then I had a Christian say, “Don’t you want to become a Christian just in case we are right?” Why would I want to do anything out of fear? Why not do the right thing because it is kind or because it is the right thing to do? Why would I even love God out of fear of going to hell? An atheist friend of mine said that to do anything for fear of bad karma or for fear of hell is actually immoral. When you think about it, it she is right.

Critics of reincarnation also say that it makes people callous to the sufferings of others. This is true because I have seen this myself. But Christians are also callous to the sufferings of others. I know a young man who hung himself when he was a Jehovah’s Witness, and the Jehovah's Witnesses said that he deserved to die because he was going against their teachings. We can see this in all religions some of the times.

It is also said by critics that “if the gods have placed a man in a situation of inferiority, it hardly behooves others to try to change the order of things.” Well, I have heard this also being expressed. I was told that since it is their karma, we don’t want to interfer with it, they should work it out by themselves. Whether the West wants to admit it or not it has the same attitude towards the poor and in other cases. Westerners don’t say it is their karma, they say that the poor are just lazy and so deserve what they get. The critics may scream “caste system” in regards to India, but we have our own here.

Walker makes an interesting statement: “The most important and effective of all these measures is said to be faith in the grace of God. All the major religions emphasize the redeeming virtues of faith. This concept, known to the Hindus as bhakti, meaning God’s grace of compassion, was introduced into popular Hinduism through Christian sources in about A.D. 300. Sincere faith following sincere repentance wipes out the effects of sin, frees man from the burden of karma and from the bondage of eternal rebirth. (So that is where they got the concept.)

God’s grace overrides karmic destiny. Karma is founded on law, bhakti is founded on love. Karma is divine justice, bhakti is divine mercy. And for men of faith God’s mercy is greater than God’s justice.”

I am not actually against this belief, and I do like what the early church historian Origen said, “Because of divine mercy all creatures will in time return to God, purified, redeemed and perfected.” This also includes the demonic hierarchy as well as Satan.

Most of all I liked what Albert Einstein said, “"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power that is revealed in the incomprehensible universe forms my idea of God."

As for me, I know that there is a Universal Consciousness of love that permeates everything and is non-judgmental. Other than this I don’t believe that there is anything else that you can know for sure or that you even really need to know.

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