New Podcast Series

Hi everyone

I am happy to announce the launch of my new podcast series:

Happiness Through Spirituality

For thousands of years, religious philosophies were interpreted in isolation, in cultural or geographical silos. Till only recently, much spiritual literature was yet to be translated to languages understood by the general public; their secrets locked in by the ancient, antiquated languages in which they were received. Now with the advent of globalism and the dawn of the age of information accessibility, there has been no greater time in human history than now, to access, interpret and combine religious philosophies such that one religion can add to the understanding of another, and vice versa. In so doing, the ancient yet eternal truths of the world’s religions can be better understood and implemented so that we can experience the deep, lasting, and profound state of happiness that spirituality is designed to help us achieve. With my fortunate exposure to both Christian and Hindu philosophy, and with deep respect and love, I have combined information and practical tools from the works of arguably some of the greatest spiritual leaders ever to walk the planet to serve the purpose of enhancing my happiness, and now through this podcast, the happiness of others.

If you can benefit from this content, please do join me in this podcast series via the following website:

https://happinessthroughspirituality.buzzsprout.com/

New episodes to be posted regularly.

With loving regards

Natasha Subbiah

My Ego and I

There is a word that describes the phenomenon of mistakenly associating with the physical body, its desires, its accomplishments, and its status and that word is ego.

My father once said, “A seed looks at a tree and can never imagine that it has the potential to be a tree. It must be prepared to disintegrate (give up itself) so that it can realise its full potential.”

This can be said for ourselves too. We have to give up our individual egos, disintegrate that which we think we are, to be able to become something else, to be able to grow in spirituality and manifest our inherent potential. The ego is a force that often consumes us and redirects our thoughts away from growth. It is counterproductive to fostering the brotherhood that Jesus preached. We turn away from peace, to ride the wave of superficial elation from being hailed as talented, superior, better, or more – only to later experience the fall from glory as we are ignored, forgotten, and perhaps even insulted. Distracted by our thirsty egos, we fail at executing our roles within society with selflessness and, as a result, society crumbles under the weight of these elaborately constructed mental burdens. How do we escape this all-consuming wave of destruction inflicted by our very own egos, knowing that we can never be fully accepted or liked by everyone? How do we prevent the inflation of our egos in times of prosperity and cushion ourselves from the likely blows as different people interpret our “failures” and “successes” in different ways?

To accurately define ego it is necessary to look at what ego is not. Ego is not to be confused with self-confidence and self-respect. Ego comes about from comparison with others. Self-confidence and self-respect are independent of others; it is valuing yourself for yourself and without the need to compare yourself to anyone or put anyone else down. It is a positive feeling and is a necessary trait for both worldly and spiritual success. Therefore, for a full solution, we will need to keep our self-respect and self-confidence intact while diminishing our egos. Sounds tricky, doesn’t it?

The ego can be a player in two scenarios: One in which we are overly smitten with ourselves and our accomplishments or forms and feel superior to others, and the other is when we feel less than others, or broken, and dejected – our egos are hurt, and this pushes us into despair and even depression. Both are manifestations of ego that arise from an attachment to those things that are not our true Selves, what has changed between the scenarios is only the circumstances around that ego Self. These two manifestations of ego are not usually mutually exclusive in individuals; a person can dart between the two, some staying in one scenario more than others. Even the most pompous among us seek the endorsement of others and feel dejected when we do not receive it unequivocally, leaving us vacillating between the two scenarios constantly. When we follow our ego without discrimination, our paths are littered with pitfalls, and our minds are pulled towards manifestations of a false and temporary world – a world that depends on comparisons which are created within our minds.

To cast off the heavy cloak of our egos, we must acknowledge that we are not our bodies; we are not our careers; we are not our progeny; we are not our accomplishments – we are our Spirits. The rest are all temporary manifestations and, therefore, not true because truth is that which is permanent. I was a Perumal (my maiden surname), and then my name changed – but I did not cease to be; I was an engineer, and then I left work to be a mum – but I did not cease to be. I am a mum, and one day my children will go off to make their own lives – but I shall not cease to be. I am the owner of this project, and if this project fails – I shall not cease to be. I am my body, but my body too will perish in death, and yet still, I shall not cease to be. These are not what I am. These are merely names, forms, and roles. It is easy to say this in theory, but we often still associate ourselves with these things and, like heavy anchors, they weigh us down and keep us from swimming in an ocean of freedom and bliss – which can only be experienced when we acknowledge that we are complete and whole outside of all of these things. If we have accumulated or achieved much in a worldly sense, then we may become possessive, always thinking of how to maintain the facade of moreness; or we may become greedy, wondering how to accumulate even more to compete in our new social class. If we don’t have or have failed to achieve or receive, we are often anxiously obsessing over how to gain or regain respect, roles, relationships, or objects. And the cycle is endless. For peace, for true-fullness and satisfaction, we must break the cycle by breaking our association with these superficial definitions of ourselves. When our egos are in a slump, we must remind ourselves that our true Selves are not affected by the storms of the world; our true selves remain unscathed and perfect.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Page 7 Matthew 6:19-21)

Contemplation: Contemplate on the impermanence of all the worldly things, positions, and titles on which we focus. Recognise that we are not our titles, positions, bodies, or names, as these are temporary manifestations and are not a part of our true-Selves.

Meditate on your Spirit, which is your real and eternal identity.

In the definition of ego, we discussed that the difference between ego and self-confidence is that the ego arises through comparison with others. This is also known as competitiveness. Ego arises from a sense of separation from God and from others (in whom God dwells as Spirit) – but in truth, we are all inextricably connected.

To appreciate our connection, each of us has to acknowledge that we are all created by God, connected to God, and therefore connected through God. All others are also Spirit, this is an eternal truth, and we should keep this truth in our awareness, not placing unnecessary importance on name, appearance, role, and position. The scriptures of the Hindu religion are the Vedas, from which come the Upanishads. The Upanishads teach us that variety, and multiplicity is but a delusion caused by circumstances. The soul/spirit (or atma) is a fragment of God Himself and all are unified by this commonality. If we truly accept this, competitiveness will dwindle and fade, and we will begin to experience a sense of love and unity with all. By constantly reminding ourselves of this, it could enable us to let go of our egos and experience the true and lasting peace of oneness.

Through this knowledge, we must foster love for all others and know and see them all as our very own brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children. Pride will dissolve by the strength of this love.

Contemplation: Contemplate that all others emerge from the same source and are constituted of the same stuff (both physically and spiritually). Acknowledge that all others are equally deserving of God’s love and grace based on this.

Meditation: Imagine a light within yourself. This light is your spirit, it is loving, it is joyous, and it is beautiful. Imagine this same light in your family members and friends. Now imagine this light in all others, in all parts of the world. Let the light within each of you grow till all the lights merge into one. Meditate on the oneness that you experience, as if you are everyone, and everyone is you. All are your limbs, and all are your eyes.

Activity: Serve those that are not in your family or social circle. See the goodness in these people: by acknowledging that other mothers/fathers love their children as much as you do yours, by seeing other children as your own, by breaking down the social barriers created in your mind through years of brainwashing, and acknowledging that all people, whether underprivileged, elderly, sickly, people of different religions, races, genders or social classes are all more like you than you previously took the time to appreciate. By serving these people in whatever way you can, however small, you can connect with them on a human to human level, and they can bless you with the appreciation of our inherent connection and oneness and broaden your ability to love all.

Jesus gives us another clue to overcoming our egos.

Mathew 16, verses 24 to 26 states:

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? “

Here, Jesus asks us to deny ourselves to be His disciple – which is, in my interpretation, a request for us to deny our egos. We are asked to forsake the world with its fleeting trophies, to take up a spiritual path, a path with a focus on God and our souls. Of course, we need that which we need to sustain our bodies, and God is not asking us to neglect ourselves or our duties when asking us to push out the world – but Jesus is referring here to the theatre of our minds and where our focus lies. The exaggerated focus on the body and its various roles in the world can distract us from God and our true and most pressing purpose. Let us look closely at Jesus’ words, “…whoever loses their life for me will find it.”. The words, “for me,” could indicate one or both of two things. One, that when we turn away from the world it should be done with the clear intention of being for God for the benefit of finding one’s life (which may be an analogy for one’s Spirit); and two, that when we turn away from the world, we should make sure to fill the void that the world now leaves, with God. With reference to the latter of the two interpretations, perhaps it could work the opposite way too – fill ourselves up with thoughts of God, and our egos will be pushed out. This is another way to subdue the ego! In English, this is known as devotion to God, but in Sanskrit, it is known as Bhakti Yoga. We will cover more on this exciting topic later in the book.

However, another egocentric pitfall lurks around the corner of even this solution, one that we must be wary of – the spiritual ego. When we do see benefit from focusing on God and start to have spiritual experiences, it must not then fill us with a sense of superiority – this will surely stop the progress that we were making.

Meditation: Breathe in and out deeply. With each deep breath in imagine God’s loving energy flow into you. With each breath out, feel your ego shrink. As more space is being made for God by expelling your ego with your breath, feel God infusing every cell of your being.

How can we detach ourselves from the ego when we are performing tasks that so easily bind us to it? Well, we know that it is God that gives us the energy, the life-force, and talents to perform all our actions. Therefore, when starting new projects or engaging in your current ventures and tasks, have confidence in God’s ability and not your own. By doing this, you immediately shift the ego off yourself and onto God, turning your work into an act of recognition of God’s greatness – an act of worship. All good work can then be instruments of spiritual growth. This radical change in mindset could become more natural to you if you spend some time tuning into God to receive inspiration for your work. If it is not that kind of work, you can also pray to God to give you wisdom and strength to perform a high standard of work, with a spirit of gratitude for the opportunity to serve society. In this way, you can make the shift from thinking that you are the doer, to God is the doer, much easier.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please guide my steps in this work. Please inspire my thoughts, words, and actions so that they are in-line with Your own. Help me to be an instrument of Your will dear Lord, and work through me. Dearest Lord, thank You for the abilities that you have gifted me with to enable me to perform the tasks that You have given me the opportunity to accomplish thus far. Lord, please give me the strength and wisdom further to put the best-efforts into this work, and thereafter Lord, please take the results of this work, for the work is yours, the results too are Yours. Lord, as You decide on the outcome, please give me the strength and wisdom to accept whatever that outcome is. I am Yours.

Freeing ourselves from ego must include detachment from our failures and successes. To accomplish this, it is effective to appreciate that God has a plan for each of us and see all successes and failures as decisions of God. When the odds seem to be in our favour, and we are on an upward trajectory in some sphere of our lives, we must keep reminding ourselves that it is not necessarily because we are better than others that we have succeeded, but because our merit (immediate or distant-past) plus the plan for what is best for our development, and the Grace of God have coincided. Our hard work alone cannot get us very far, nor do we need to thank lady luck – all that is occurring is part of a grand plan in our growth and the growth of humanity, especially now, at this time when the world is on the cusp of a new spiritual age (the Golden age) as indicated by Sathya Sai Baba. This assigned path, be it success or failure or stagnancy, is what is best for our development at this time or for the development of those in our spheres.

When all results, positive or negative, are assigned to God and His will, we must still put in our best efforts to make sure that His will is realised in His time and that our lack of initiative, drive, perseverance, or energy is not what impedes the flow of destiny.

We should also always remember that God can also take away from us as easily as He has given to us. This will help to prevent us from getting too bashful when in the throes of our apparent success.

So we always get what is best for us? I suppose this can only be completely true if we choose to learn and retain the lessons that that situation has presented to us and grow as a result of it.

When best does not seem best, (it may even seem worst), we must remind ourselves that we cannot view the future or the past; we have only a limited vision of the current scope or situation, and our “best” option may be a short-sighted one. When we fail, like with success, we know this may merely be the best route for our growth or an indication of whether our efforts were adequate and if more growth is required from us before we can walk down the path of success. Either way, “failure” is not something that should weigh heavily on us. Failures are momentary and fleeting experiences, they should be treated as stepping stones (or learning stones) and should be judged with the equanimity and indifference that we judge other, less disappointing life experiences. Easier said than done – I know. But when we can do this, we will free ourselves from “failure” altogether.

Whether it is success or failure that is the result, when we experience a sense of surrender to God (coupled with hard work), then there will be less room for our egos to frolic in and we will accept all results of all endeavours as yet another gift from God, with an equal eye, with equal joy, whatever that outcome may be.

Contemplation: Contemplate on giving gratitude to God for all past results, whether successful or not. Thank God for the opportunities to be a part of these processes as well as the opportunities to learn, and benefit from them. Surrender all present and future works to God. Ask for strength and wisdom to accomplish any unfulfilled tasks, if it is His will for you to do so. Ask for God to take the burden of the results of the tasks onto His shoulders. Ask God for strength should the results of these processes be negative. Give up worrying about the results henceforth. If worry comes back, then repeat the contemplation.

 

The ego strengthens itself through attachment with the world. Not to say that we should not associate with the world, but, by banishing the perception that our happiness arises from the results of our worldly endeavours, we can redefine the concept of success in our lives. In practice, this means that we no longer gauge our success based on the measurements of others in the world, but rather by the peace and joy we experience from within ourselves, and from the closeness we feel to God. This is the truest measure of success in this world and beyond.

Contemplation: Evaluate your levels of joy and peace. If you are not as joyful and peaceful as you would like to be, give-up the expectation that worldly events, achievements, or possessions will bring you this peace and joy. Determine where you need to disinvest time in gathering worldly things or accolades and reinvest this in gathering inward peace and happiness. Devote more time to refining your mental stillness, your purity, your connection with God and His creation, and your resulting joy.

 

But we have already acquired a lot through effort in this world and we hope to continue to do so. So how do we enjoy the “fruits of our worldly successes” without allowing our egos to grow? We, let the successes, achievements, and possessions acquired thus far be a reminder and indication of God’s immense and unconditional love for us and not a mental congratulations to our own ego’s, or our own efforts. This shift in focus can allow even the enjoyment of these things to become a positive action of worship instead of a tribute to our egos. This small change in mindset could turn even the regular into the auspicious. This is known as gratitude. For example, if you, when admiring your adorable children or lovely garden, do so with gratitude to God, then you can admire and enjoy them without that adding to your personal ego, but instead, allowing it to add to the glory of God in your inner vision.

Contemplation: As you go about your day (or night), give thanks to God for the opportunity to have all your experiences, possessions, people, and roles. Everyone has something to be thankful for. The warm sunlight on your back, the air that animates you, the sky that paints a new picture for you each hour of each day, or the blanket on a chilly day. Everything good around us can bring about this feeling. Contemplate everything to be as a result of God’s grace and love.

 

And lastly, don’t take yourself so seriously. Be that guy that trips and falls and then laughs at himself. Much too often we face despair and frustration only because we have taken ourselves or our work too seriously. Play life like a game, putting your best foot forward without becoming too attached to the results. Shrug off that heavy burden of your ego and walk (or dance) about lightly and joyously.

I have been fortunate to experience some great blows to my ego in the last short while, and these have been some of the most valuable lessons of my life. Now, it would be dishonest of me to pretend that this has been an easy process for me. Be that as it may, I know the uncomfortable situations have been necessary for my growth – a time to evaluate my weaknesses, face my desires, and those things that may distract me from my most righteous path so that I can walk towards the light of wisdom with greater speed. Indeed it is only at those times that I manage to resist the pull of my ego that I have access to the joy that springs from deep within me.

So my 7 stroke plan to abolish the ego is summarised as follows:

  1. Recognise that we are Spirit and not our titles, positions, bodies, or names. These are temporary and not a part of our true-Selves.
  2. Acknowledge that all others are also Spirit, emerging from the same source and constituted of the same stuff – equal and equally deserving of God’s love. Do not compete with your brothers and sisters.
  3. Place little importance on the mirages of the world and focus our attention on attaining that which is most valuable – communion with God.
  4. Have confidence in God’s abilities instead of your own. Acknowledge Him as the power, inspiration, and energy behind all noble efforts.
  5. Assign all results to God. Do not take credit for success or blame for failure. But do seek to learn from these experiences and better yourself.
  6. Redefine success. See success as a measure of joy and peace.
  7. See all that we have as a result of God’s grace and love and remove ourselves from the equation so that our ego is not artificially inflated – have gratitude.
  8. Don’t take yourself too seriously :-).

Jesus is the model of egolessness as He knowingly sacrificed all and allowed Himself to be publicly humiliated, violently abused, and crucified for the good of humanity. Let us learn from His example and drop our “I”ness to develop selflessness and act for the common good.

“Those who are free from false prestige, illusion and false association, who understand the eternal, who are done with material lust, who are freed from the dualities of happiness and distress, and who, unbewildered, know how to surrender unto the Supreme Person attain to that eternal kingdom.” Sri Krishna (Page 503 of Bhagavat Gita)

For more from me, listen to my podcast Happiness Through Spirituality https://happinessthroughspirituality.buzzsprout.com/

or follow me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/UnityMum.


 

Science and Religion

This morning on the day we received the first close up images of Pluto (Yes, I wrote this article a while ago) I read an article that made me realise that people perceive science and religion to be at odds with each other. Scientific minds often think that proving the capabilities of science is in turn discrediting the revelations of religion. In my experience with religion and science, I find that this is often not the case.

There are religious theories that fit very well with what science accepts and there are many religious and spiritual philosophies that are based firmly in logic. Religion however, takes this logic one step further to the realms that science has not yet reached and it is here that we often have to rely on faith.

Let us look at a few examples of religious philosophies that tie into scientific laws and experiences.

Let us look at the law of Karma, concisely explained in the Bible by, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”. The scientific equivalent, Newton’s third law, states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In comparison to Newton’s Third Law, the Law of Karma can be described as: for every action (including thoughts, words and deeds) there is an equal (in energy) and opposite (where the actor becomes the acted upon) reaction. One can see that the physical law (Newton/s) and the spiritual law (Karma) mirrors and therefore validates each other at least to an extent.

However, the law of Karma is much more complex, with the resulting action not necessarily manifesting immediately. Maybe our results are stored as potential energy such as that in a compressed spring, only to be released when our infinitely wise Heavenly Father lifts his finger off the “spring”. The laws that govern the result and timing of the resulting action may not be as easy to uncover by us mere mortals as it would be with our related law of motion. Given that there can be a time lapse before a result is manifest, it is important to note that an impending result can be changed by performing actions with the opposite motive.

The defining differences between the two laws in my mind is that the Law of Karma is governed by motive which is a subtle energy that is difficult to observe and quantify; whereas the Third Law of Motion is governed by physical energies of motion (such as Kinetic and Potential energy) which is more easily observable and quantifiable.

But the main reason the Law of Karma may be difficult to observe is that we may not be able to observe the period over which results of actions are manifest. The world may appear very unjust if the law of Karma is not viewed hand in hand with the philosophy of reincarnation. Hindu’s believe that the fruits of actions will not necessarily materialise in your present life but may only come to pass in future lives if the said soul is reborn. If the soul is not reborn and merges with God, then that souls Karmic debt has been fully repaid. However, people of the Christian faith do not believe in reincarnation but rather in a final judgement after death. Maybe this is where we reap our balance of negative or positive thoughts, words and deeds… ? Whatever the case may be, it is easy for me to believe that the law of karmic energies mirrors the laws of physical energies. Most importantly, this law serves my hope for a divinely built in universal justice system.

Another interesting example that links Science and Spirituality that comes to mind is the big bang theory. Hinduism has spoken of the Universe coming to being with a “big bang” long before science as we know it even began. Hinduism goes further by describing the actual sound of the big bang as Aum or Om. The frequency of this very first vibration still resonates in all parts of the universe according to Hindus. God is believed to be the source of this sound that energised the universe. The Aum is therefore the most basic sound also described as God itself in the form of sound energy and is believed to be the form (in the form of sound) of God Himself. This Big Bang Theory may also be reflected in the Bible if my interpretation is correct with the words: (John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

The most basic shape is worshipped by the Hindu’s as an ellipsoid or Shiva Lingam. The ellipsoid symbolises the duality in nature and also forms a fundamental part in the workings of nature since the planets chart an elliptical course around the sun and electrons in an atom move in an elliptical shape around the central nucleus.

Science and religion can and do support and validate each other. Yes, it is probably impossible for our limited minds to try and fully understand and explain this amazing and complex existence of ours. It has to be enough to just experience the love of God and appreciate that which He reveals to us through science and religion.

I would love to hear of more examples of how Science and Religion relate in your religion. Please drop me a note in the comment section below if you can enlighten us further.

by Natasha Subbiah

If you would like to receive updates on my latest posts, follow Unity Mama on Facebook.

The day Trump picked up the Bible…

It is a time of great sorrow as we confront the reality of racism. Whether it is subtle or overt, as was the case in George Floyd’s murder, it is always destructive and always painful. Many of you would have seen the video clips of the U.S. president brandishing the Bible in front of a church for a photo op, after clearing out peaceful ‘Black Lives Matter’ protestors. Following is what I think President Donald Trump should have said when he picked up that Bible…

“Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship represent much of society, that seek to foster peace both inwardly and socially. Religious doctrines are useful tools to help us find that peace and to help us reflect it in our actions. This Book is one of those doctrines that embraces the philosophy that we all embody the Spirit of God, and it attests to the fact that our bodies are only temporary coverings of the divinity within it, and that the differences that arise in the body, due to race, environment, and circumstances are all inconsequential. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit is installed in all of us – irrespective of outward differences. That the spirit is divided between us, and yet is one, proves that we are all joined in spirit under a loving and protective God. It does more than prove our brotherhood and sisterhood, it proves our oneness. If we could take the time to acknowledge that He who loves us so much abides in each of us, how then could we hurt each other? If we could start seeing ourselves and others for what we are, an embodiment of spirit, of divinity itself, this country and this world could become a haven of peace, joy, equality, equal opportunity, non-violence, and love.

The events around George Floyd’s murder have brought the pain of racism to light and it can no longer be ignored, excused or accepted as the norm. Many white Americans may have learned some poor lessons growing up, where different rules of social ethics applied to different people, but, like many other White Americans, it is time to use discrimination to unlearn these false teachings and undo these false practices. It is time to see people for what they are, their fears, their ambitions, their loves, their preferences, their sadness, their potential, and their spirits. It is time to drop the irrational thinking on which racism is founded and embrace Jesus’ message of love wholeheartedly. Each of us must feel valued in this deeply connected society for us all to find our true worth.

I ask the black community for forgiveness for not actively taking up the cause of social inequalities sooner, and I hope that I can do much more for you, with your help and guidance, through what is left of my term. “

… and I wish he said all of this with the protestors still present. The day Trump picked up the Holy Bible could have been a significant day in the history of the world, but alas, it was only a photo op. My hope is that this failure by a group of police officers and a president, which represents a failure by society, ignites a lasting change in America, here in distant South Africa and the rest of the world. May we be united, as we are in spirit.

By Natasha Subbiah

For more from me, follow Unity Mama’s Facebook Page.

Similarities between Christianity and Hinduism

I make-up one half of an interfaith marriage – with two religions, Christianity and Hinduism, both being practised in our home. I, therefore, have had the good fortune of drawing from Christianity and Hinduism simultaneously and have thus been able to compare the teachings of both religions in parallel. I have witnessed in awe, the splendour of God’s love and power many times, through the beautiful narratives of both religions. I am aware that on a superficial level, Christianity and Hinduism may appear to be polarised, but the more I learn about each religion the more I appreciate that they have many philosophical similarities. From the privileged position of being exposed to both religions, here are some of the reasons I find these two beautiful religions to be comparable.

 

– 1- Value Based

Indeed the most imperative similarity is the emphasis both religions place on morality and good character displayed in virtuous thoughts, words and actions. The scriptures of both religions abound with lessons on how to live a life free from sins such as envy, dishonesty, violence, egoism, sloth and lust; it provides us with ways to practise positive values, all springing from the core value of love. Indeed the topic of love is touched on prominently in both religions, with both love for God and love for our fellow human featuring almost continuously through the scriptures.

 

– 2- Both Religions are Monotheistic (Believe in the Existence of One God)

It is widely accepted that Christianity is a monotheistic religion, which means that Christians believe in one God. But did you know that Hinduism is also monotheistic? This may not seem like the case from a cursory glance at Hindu religious practices but study of the Hindu scriptures would reveal that Hindus practice belief in one ultimate Godhead who is ultimately nameless, formless and genderless. The numerous names and forms that one would observe a Hindu praying to are creations of the one Godhead in whom God manifests. Hindus believe that God has taken on many forms and therefore names, throughout human existence (and even well before that), but that ultimately He is one nameless and formless being; much like the one God who manifests as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Christian Religion.

 

– 3- Belief in Consequences of One’s Actions and the Ability to Redeem Oneself Through Faith in God

“As you sow, so shall you reap.” may well be the most famous idiom that has its roots in the bible. Other examples from the Bible that refer to consequences of one’s actions are as follows:

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of  righteousness.

Galatians 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

The law of Karma described in Hinduism also describes how actions (including words and thoughts) would evoke either negative or positive consequences depending on the action and the intention behind the action.

However, both religions offer opportunities for redemption or absolution of sin through faith in God. This should not be considered to be a deviation from the rules governing consequences. However, faith in God is in itself an action (in the form of thought) that has tremendously powerful positive consequences which can absolve sin when deemed appropriate by God.

 

-4- Belief in the Power of Faith to Achieve the Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal of Hinduism is described as the complete awareness of one’s union with God, which also signals the end of the cycle of birth and death (reincarnation) for that particular soul. Hinduism maps out a few methods through which one could achieve the ultimate goal. One of them is Bhakthi Yoga which is the path of faith in God. This has been described as the most joyous way of reaching God.

Similarly, Christianity places great emphasis on achieving salvation by having faith in God through Jesus. Most Christians believe that this is the sole path to God.

Hindus are not limited in the form of God they show devotion to and are free to choose even Jesus as that form, or bypass all forms to show devotion to the formless God (although this is said to be a more difficult thing for the mind to achieve).

 

-5- Belief that God is Within Each of Us

Both Christianity and Hinduism subscribe to the belief that God (or a part of God) resides within each of us. Christianity describes the phenomenon as the Holy Spirit. The Hindus describe, arguably, the same phenomenon as the Atma. In both religions there is a spiritual link between the indwelling Holy Spirit or Atma and God. So much so that the Hindu’s often refer to God as Paramatma meaning supreme Atma, probably to elucidate the connection between God and ourselves. Both religions state that the Holy Spirit or Atma and God are in essence one.

 

-6- Belief in Spiritual Benefits Acquired by Submerging in Water

Both Hindus and Christians consider water to be holy. For Hindus, submerging in water at one of India’s holy rivers (with correct intention and regard) is believed to offer spiritual purification. Christians submerge themselves in water during a tradition that is particularly significant to Christians, known as Baptism which signifies purification of the soul and spiritual rebirth, when performed with correct intention.

 

I am certain that there are many more similarities between Christianity and Hinduism and indeed between all the major religions of the world. I hope that contemplating on these similarities would infuse people of different religions with the will to connect with more sincerity, love, sensitivity and respect so that we may exemplify Jesus’ teaching of “love your neighbour as yourself” (Mathew 19:19) and usher in an era of peace on this blessed blue and green planet.

By Natasha Subbiah

For more from me, listen to my podcast, Happiness Through Spirituality: https://happinessthroughspirituality.buzzsprout.com/

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Fear or Faith

In my study of religious philosophy I have come across two fundamental emotions or values from which all other emotions or values originate. The first may not surprise you, it is “love”, the root emotion to most positive feelings such as empathy, compassion, duty, non-violence, patriotism, faith etc. The other  opposing emotion is “fear”, from which most negative emotions or values are spun, such as jealousy, anger, frustration, competitiveness etc.

When testing these fundamental emotions whilst observing religious people over social media and news platforms, most religious people who are newsworthy or who are prompted to speak out openly seem to be driven by one of these base emotions. Most of us will probably be motivated by a mix of these two emotions, but leaning heavily towards one side produces two very different kind of religious aspirants within the very same religion.  This has become exceedingly apparent in the times of the Trump presidency. There is the kind of Christian that is seemingly motivated by fear, whose fears are manifest as racism and religious intolerance, the irrational need to own guns and invest more in defence and security, including an expensive border wall. On the other hand, there are the Trump detractor Christians, who, driven by love, insist on protecting the victims of war regardless of their religious inclination or race, who would rather invest money in humanitarian causes than defence. These Christians, like the great Mother Teresa, driven by love, are able to see Jesus in all.

Every major religion produces many different kinds of followers, depending, I would say, on their motivating feelings and their intentions. These differences in motivation produce very different world views and naturally very different outcomes.

We can say that religion is the cause of most major conflicts in the world today. I am convinced that religion, by itself, is not the problem; but rather, it is the motivating emotions behind each person’s chosen religion (regardless of what that religion is) that is the problem. If we were to live in a world where the religious were motivated by true, divine, unconditional, unprejudiced, boundless love; then our world would flourish and we would usher in the Golden Age that many of us await.

I am often able to relate more to my husband who is of a different religion to me, than others of my own religion. This is because the variation within religious groups dictate that the traditional means of dividing and judging people based on religion is actually very ineffective. We should rather be judged on how much of love we have in our hearts; and since this is impractical with our limited senses, maybe we should leave the judging and the grouping to God.