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Featured Some thoughts about the difference between Hinduism and the Abrahamic Faiths

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by LuisDantas, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Recent threads made me wonder whether a key difference between the two groups are not, generally speaking, centered on the contrast between an expectation of a submission to authority in the Abrahamics (be that authority God or some form of prophet, guide or priest) while the Dharmic Faiths such as Hinduism don't really have such a notion.

    Instead, Dharmics seem to learn from teachers and establish some form and degree of relationship of mutual trust with them. There is no particular expectation of faithfulness to written scripture, and there is very often an expectation of instead actualizing the teachings in oneself.

    The end result are frequent but usually uneventful disagreements and divergent understandings and interpretations. Perhaps so frequent that they are perceived as unavoidable and inconsequential.

    I may be mistaken, but I also get the sense that most adherents end up learning from other religious teachers to some extent and building their own personal doctrines from bits and pieces taken from various sources and customized by personal understanding.

    That probably sounds odd for some. But I don't know that a better strategy for religion exists.
     
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  2. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Addressing the portion in red

    I've told you this before, I don't think you have an academic grasp on the Abrahamic faiths themselves. In one form or another, people who want to get to the truth submits to something of authority. Dharmic faiths are no different:

    Sikhism (monotheistic):

    Need for a Guru

    The Ultimate Truth is also unique, not understood by the intellect. It does not match any preconceived human ideas. This is why the Guru is compulsory, but only on the final path, the path to ultimate Truth. When the seeker submits to the Guru with this humility, the Guru quietly plants the way to Truth in his heart. This is called Naam.

    Source:Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People

    In Sikhism there is a word called "Hukam" similar to Islam's concept of submitting to the will of God. Hukam means "command" or "divine order." similar to Islam, this also designates opening up Sikh scripture to attain guidance from God on various situations. This, is also similar to Islam concerning a believer seeking guidance from the Creator.

    Source:Concept of Hukam (Will) | Sikhism: Sikh Religion, Beliefs, Philosophy and Principles

    Hinduism (Pantheistic):

    And he who serves Me with the yoga of unswerving devotion, transcending these qualities [binary opposites, like good and evil, pain and pleasure] is ready for liberation in Brahman.

    — Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14, Verse 26

    Chapter 14, Verse 26 – Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda

    Always think of me, be devoted to me, worship me, and offer obeisance to me. Doing so, you will certainly come to me. This is my pledge to you, for you are very dear to me.

    -Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18 verse 65

    Chapter 18, Verse 65 – Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda

    Prophets, similar to Yogis, Gurus, or whatever are teachers and keepers of truth (and the law) so in a lot of ways obedience to them is obligatory to reach whatever end the believer is trying to reach similar to those of the Abrahamic faiths. So I'm not sure of your distinction.
     
    #2 Epic Beard Man, Aug 8, 2018
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  3. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    I would have to disagree with you there Luis (but this is "general religious debates" anyway, so I'm in the right place!).

    In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Greek tradition has a venerable history of elders and disciples. In Russia, this developed into the institution of starets:


    Starets | Eastern Orthodox religion


    Starets, (Slavic translation of Greek gerōn, “elder”), plural STARTSY, in Eastern Orthodoxy, a monastic spiritual leader. Eastern Christian monasticism understood itself as a way of life that aimed at a real experience of the future kingdom of God; the starets, as one who had already achieved this experience, was the charismatic spiritual guide who could aid others in attaining spiritual progress and success. In eremitic, or Hesychastic, monasticism, which flourished from the 4th and 5th centuries throughout Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, monastic obedience consisted primarily in the personal relationship between the gerōn and the disciple.

    As you can see from the encyclopedic entry above, whether in the form of the 4th - 5th century and later Byzantine geron in Hesychast mysticism or the starets in the Slavic world, the system was oriented around the direct and internalized experience of the teachings as mediated through an unbroken chain of spiritual masters and disciples. The fundamental importance of having a guide for practice and advice was emphasised as follows by Saint Nikiphoros the Hesychast in his short work On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart (1276):


    Concentrate your intellect and lead it into the respiratory passage through which the breath passes into your heart. Put pressure on your intellect and compel it to descend with your inhaled breath into your heart. Once it has entered there [. . .] train it not to leave your heart quickly, for at first it is strongly disinclined to remain constrained and circumscribed in this way. But once it becomes accustomed to remaining there, it no longer desires to wander outside. For the kingdom of heaven is within us (Luke 17:21).

    Most if not all of those who attain this greatest of gifts [attentiveness, prosochē ] do so chiefly through being taught. To be sure, a few without being taught receive it directly from God through the ardour of their endeavour and the fervour of their faith; but what is rare does not constitute the norm. That is why we should search for an unerring guide, so that under his instruction we may learn how to deal with the shortcomings whenever we deviate left or right from the axis of attentiveness. Since such a guide will himself have been tested, he will be able to make these things clear to us and will unambiguously disclose the spiritual path to us so that we can follow it easily. If you have no such guide you must search diligently for one.


    A very similar dynamic became formalised in a ritual setting among Sufi Muslims, where the teacher was known as a pir:


    Pir (Sufism) - Wikipedia


    Pir or Peer (Persian: پیر‬‎, literally "old [person]", "elder"[1]) is a title for a Sufi master or spiritual guide. They are also referred to as a Hazrat or Shaikh, which is Arabic for Old Man. The title is often translated into English as "saint" and could be interpreted as "Elder". In Sufism a Pir's role is to guide and instruct his disciples on the Sufi path . This is often done by general lessons (called Suhbas) and individual guidance. Other words that refer to a Pir include, Murshid (Arabic: مرشد‎, meaning "guide" or "teacher"), Sheikh and Sarkar(Persian word meaning Master, Lord). In Alevism, Pir's are considered a direct descendant of Ali.

    The title Peer Baba (पीर बाबा) is common in Hindi used to give a salutation to Sufi masters or similarly honored persons. After their death people visit their tombs (dargah) (मक़बरा) maqbara).

    The path of Sufism starts when a student takes an oath of allegiance with a teacher called Bai'ath or Bay'ah[citation needed] (Arabic word meaning "transaction") where he swears allegiance at the hands of his Pir and repents from all his previous sins. After that, the student is called a Murid (Arabic word meaning committed one). From here, his batin (inward) journey starts.

    A Pir usually has authorizations to be a teacher for one (or more) tariqahs (method). A Tariqah may have more than one Pir at a time. A Pir is accorded that status by his Shaikh by way of Khilafat or Khilafah (Arabic word meaning succession). Khilafat is the process in which a Shaikh identifies one of his disciples as his successor (khalifah). A Pir can have more than one khalifah. The term Pir is also used by Nizari Ismailis whose missionaries in the past have used the title Pir. The current Nizari Ismaili Imam Agha Khan is also the Pir within the Nizari Ismaili Shia sect.


    And should you be in any doubt about the fact that Abrahamic gerons/starets'/pirs also, when expediency demands, shed "any particular expectation of faithfulness to written scripture", it should be borne in mind that the 19th century Russian Orthodox manual of spiritual life entitled The Way of the Pilgrim (a manual written by an anonymous wandering "Starets") explicitly permits an aspiring mendicant to fall under the tutelage of a Muslim pir if they cannot find a Christian starets in their locale. Why? Because spiritual guidance, even from an elder of another religious tradition, was considered preferable to having no contact with a teacher.

    After all, the Sufi aim of fana (self-annihilation) through the practice of dhikr (remembrance of God, relying upon postures, recitation, control of breath and focus upon the heart) is almost indistinguishable from the Christian pursuit of theosis (union with God, which the Syriac mystics of the Church of the East in the 7th - 8th century called tullaqa (annihilation)) through the practice of hesychia (prayer of stillness) again by following a psychosomatic method (albeit in both cases the practice can only prepare one and open them up to the Divine Light, not compel the grace of God). i.e. Compare the thoughts of Al-Ghazali, the great Islamic philosopher of Sufism:


    "...Now, when this state prevails, it is called in relation to him who experiences it, Extinction, nay, Extinction of Extinction, for the soul has become extinct to itself, extinct to its own extinction, for it becomes unconscious of itself and unconscious of its own unconsciousness, since were it conscious of its own unconsciousness, it would be conscious of itself. In relation to the man immersed in this state, the state is called, in the language of metaphor,' Identity'; in the language of reality,' Unification..."

    - Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111), Islamic theologian, jurist, philosopher & Sufi mystic


    With his earlier Christian predecessor St John of Dalyatha, also known as John Saba:


    "...The ground on which I have been proceeding has been altered before me. My intelligence has been astonished by the marvel which You provoke and henceforth I know myself as not existing...

    My soul from then on was remaining as if in annihilation but without passing away. Friends were blotted out of my heart, unloved as enemies from of old. When I became weak, for a time He left me like this, amazed at Him and what is His. From that time I was existing without mind as non-existing, without perception, without vision, and without hearing, but in amazement and great stillness. There is no movement or knowledge there since in the experienced one knowledge has forgotten itself and even how to know...

    [The soul] is supremely illumined again and penetrates into the holy and greatly resplendent light. It gets absorbed in the glory of vision and is amazed. [Then] everything is lifted from its sight as being non-existent, and [the soul] forgets itself, being united to the light of the glory of the Majesty. It is captivated by its beauty and sees the glorious Persons [of the Trinity] through knowledge, that is, through unknowing, which is higher than all knowledge and all those who know
    ..."

    - Saint John of Dalyatha (8th century), Letter 4,16; Discourse 8


    There are very real differences between the Dharmic and Abrahamic religions but I certainly don't consider this to be one of them.
     
    #3 Vouthon, Aug 8, 2018
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  4. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I think Sufi Mystics, and ancient monasteries (a few still in existence) of Eastern orthodoxy do indeed have parallels to Hindu sampradaya and monastery systems. Monks of all religions have something quite fundamental in common ... they're monks! But this surely isn't mainstream Islam or Christianity, probably less than 1% by population.There are also parallels between certain proselytizing Gaudiya Vaishnavite groups and fundamentalism Christianity. But nor is that version of Hinduism mainstream.

    So Luis, I agree with you.
     
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  5. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    There is a big difference you are missing. Hindu philosophy ends in non-dualism (God and creation are not-two). Krishna and Arjuna are One but only Krishna knows that and Arjuna does not yet. When All is One; who submits to whom? It is different. The end goal of Hinduism is Self (God) Realization.

    Gurus and yoga paths are in then seen as temporary purveyors of road maps and not the end goal.

    In Abrahamic religion the duality (God and creation are two) remains so the end goal is more submission (or really alignment) with God.
     
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  6. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Correct. Its Windows vs Linux essentially.
     
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  7. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    What does this have to do with me commenting on Luis' view concerning the following?

    "difference between the two groups are not, generally speaking, centered on the contrast between an expectation of a submission to authority in the Abrahamics (be that authority God or some form of prophet, guide or priest) while the Dharmic Faiths such as Hinduism don't really have such a notion."

    Unless he wasn't clear in this comment, he is alluding to the idea that Abrahamic faiths expect submission and the other does not require submission.

    My point thereafter was to demonstrate that submission in form or another is espoused in Dharmic faiths as well, and although one may say it differs, submission, willful or not, is stated in both religious philosophies.

    The same can be said for the Jew, the Muslim, or the Christian. When we seek truth we also seek self-realization whether it is a realization of our own existence of existence its very self! Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus, "What is Truth?" But regarding your comment I'd like for you to show me a source whether there is no duality in Hinduism and that God is merely a function of the human self, and not some external deity.

    As I understand it, the end goal well, one of several meanings of the end goal in the Abrahamic faith is to be cognizant of the Creator. To understand God's existence and action in the universe, to uphold with is good, and to continue learning and growing exponentially and positively. Through this process which one learns all the days of their life, is a continuous journey and self-realization whether one is cognizant of it or not or later at some point, is a continuous process. Divine providence according to the Abrahamic faith which is similar to Dharmic faiths is about understanding things through divine providence and that all things truthful come from that.
     
  8. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I am here thinking primarily of protestant Christianity, orthodox Islam and institutional Catholicism. They are still the majority and has been for a long time now.
     
  9. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Submission is not necessary in Hinduism, but its one way certainly.
    In Islam submission is necessary, correct?
     
  10. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Depends on who you ask. Muslims say all life forms submit to God willingly and unwillingly. A verse in the Qur'an says the following:

    "Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, "Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion." They said, "We have come willingly."

    Surah 41:11

    Of course the above is regarding the gas that was the primordial universe when it came to existence after the big bang I believe. the important part that I understood from several readings is that the idea of submission is twofold. We humans or life forms for that matter submit unwilling to the biochemical laws our bodies were born with. We breathe air involuntary (or voluntary). We do things in accordance to the neurotransmitters firing in our brains. We all submit to a law that we did not design is the Islamic understanding of one aspect. The second aspect from my understanding is submission from a more metaphysical theological approach.

    For example in Islam God is like a very good car salesman (forgive me for the salesman analogy)

    God: "Hello friend, let me show you my deluxe model car. This car is our exclusive, our one of a kind. This car is fully equipped. Sun roof, your choice of Dre Beats or Bose sound System. Power Steering, dashboard monitor with rearview camera as well as automatic driver system to drive you to your destination when you don't have to. Driver, and passenger airbags along with extra safety features for passengers in the rear. Heat and Cool controlled seating.

    You: "Wow!"

    God: "Yup and I'm going to lend you in on a little secret. this car will last you 20 years and all you have to do is keep up with the maintenance. If you are successful in keeping maintaining this car, it will break down but I promise you this car will be not only reliable but comfortable for you and your passengers, and not to mention this car is cheap and affordable, what do you say?"


    The idea behind this analogy is that we are in the midst of truth which is this wonderful car God is offering. Fully loaded and everything however the choice is still ours whether we want to buy it or not. Even if we do buy it all we have to do is maintain it which can be analogous to the Muslim that prays five times a day. To maintain a healthy conscience of God, and the daily sayings of Muhammad his prophet. But, like any sale we can choose to walk away.

    As the Qur'an says:

    "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things."

    -Surah 2:256

    Although I gave you an in-depth explanation to accurately answer your question submission is necessary and not necessary so its both. But either way, all of us submit in one form or another.
     
  11. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    One submits voluntarily or involuntarily, but submit one must. That is the understanding yes?
    That is not what Hinduism maintains. The relation there is more of a master engineer and her interns. The interns follow her to learn and gain mastery themselves, and after that go their own way independently. So a Guru or a God fails in his/her role as teacher if his/her disciples do not become self-realized and self-actualized Being like he/she herself is.
     
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  12. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    That is my understanding (which I explained the scientifc concept of submission thouroughly).


    Then I think you failed to understand the concept of submission at least from the philosophical perspective of Islam.

    The same can be said about the prophets. The prophets were teachers of divine law, and that divine law requires believers to be investigators in the world so that if one understands the world, then one can understand the self. Averroes in his philosophical account of prophecy writes:

    The sharī‘ah [that is, religious law or religious teaching to be followed, RCT] specific to the philosophers (ash-sharī‘ah al-khāṣṣa bi-l-ḥukamā’) is the investigation of all beings, since the Creator is not worshipped by a worship more noble than the knowledge of those things that He produced which lead to the knowledge in truth of His essence — may He be exalted! That [investigation philosophers undertake] is the most noble of the works belonging to Him and the most favored of them that we do in God’s presence. How great is it that one perform this service which is the most noble of services and one take it on with this compliant obedience which is the most sublime of obediences! (Averroes 1952, 10.11-16).

    Self-realization is taught in Islamic theology because life is all in unison and so again by understanding one, you may understand the other.
     
  13. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I don't think you are understanding what I am saying. A fully realized rishi or a realized Buddha is no longer needing to submit to anything or anyone whatsoever. Such a being is actually equal to God/Brahman and hence is not subject to any other form of God...Allah, Jesus, Vishnu, Siva...whatever. Submission to God/Brahman/Buddha is not the point, actually becoming God/Brahman/Buddha is the point.

    Do you understand? Muhammad is not equal to Allah, but in Buddhism all Buddhas are equal to each other and in Hinduism all realized rishis, and the great Gods are equal to one another and to Brahman. There is nothing greater. A Muslim is not expected to become Allah, but a Buddhist is expected to become Buddha and a Hindu is expected to become Brahman (or a personal manifestation thereof).
     
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  14. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    I see your point
     
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  15. Loviatar

    Loviatar Red Tory/SpongeBob Conservative

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    It seems to me like Luis definitely has a point here. Not so much related to teachers, many Dharmic traditions have strong traditions of submission to teachers as part of one's path to enlightenment. Sikhism, most Vaishnavism, Theravada Buddhism, some forms of Tibetan Buddhism. Piecemeal taking bits and pieces from various teachers seems more akin to Western Buddhism and Hinduism, certain other forms of Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen as a whole.

    But as Sayak points out, their respective ideas on submission to a deity are entirely different. Abrahamic believers see God as the first mover of the universe, who it's one's basic duty to submit to; some panentheistic Abrahamics also express a desire for unity with said deity, but that deity is still the sole entity synonymous with "the all." Meanwhile, Dharmics see any manifestation of divinity as not encompassing the all, just as part of it or beings on the cyclical path of merger with it. So, they're seen as guides significantly wiser than most people, but submission to them and enlightenment are not synonymous.
     
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  16. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    The Abrahamic God is paternal; a stern father. He is a combination rule maker, enforcer and judge. Obey His rules and He'll allow you to stay in His heaven; break them and He'll condemn you. He's always watching.

    The Hindu Gods are just personified qualities or aspects of Nature. They're focusing tools for those choosing a devotional yoga as a spiritual path. They're not rule makers or judges.
    In Hinduism the rules are mechanical, like gravity or heat. "Penalties" are automatic, like a broken foot if you drop a rock on it or a burned hand from grasping a hot pan. There's no judgement or intentionality involved.

    NB: Like all things Hindu, nothing is hard and fast. There are exceptions to everything.
     
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  17. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Yay!! :D
     
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  18. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Catholicism is virtually indistinguishable from Eastern Orthodoxy in this respect. The wandering starets of Russian Orthodoxy had his counterpart in the Western Catholic office of friar (remember Friar Tuck from Robin Hood?) and within monasteries every monk had an elder acting as his spiritual teacher and confessor.

    We were the same church for 1,000 years after all, so practically everything that happened in that first millennium to one applies to the other.

    As for Protestantism, there are established mystical traditions among the Quakers (i.e. George Fox), Lutherans (i.e. Jakob Boehme), Anglicans and Anabaptists.

    In terms of Islam, there wasn't originally any gulf between Sufism and the orthodoxy of the ulema in the middle ages. In fact, Sufism was normative and widely practised. This distinction came about as a result of the birth of Wahhabism and Salafism in modernity, both of which tried to "reform" and "purify" Islam by cleansing it of all 'heretical' practices like the veneration of Sufi walis (saints), praying with beads, practising dhikr as a path to fana and so on.

    Consider how Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th century Hanbali theologian and jurist whose hardline views on things like jihad inspired modern Islamism and who was persecuted by the orthodox scholars of his day for his literalism, was himself a member of the Qadiriyya Sufi order founded by the twelfth-century mystic and saint Abdul-Qadir Gilani.

    Even the "extremists" back then were members of Sufi tariqahs.

    Islamic culture was very different in those days.
     
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  19. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Yes but all Christians are expected to become God through the doctrine of theosis. (Experientially of course through grace, rather than ontologically in essence but subject/object dichotomy really does break down in terms of perception and awareness). This dogma is central to Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, in addition to being both scriptural and patristic in origin.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


    Catechism of the Catholic Church - "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary"


    "The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” (source: Article 460, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”)

    New Testament source: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” - 2 Peter 1:4

    Patristic: St. Athanasius (ca 298–373) who saidGod became man that man might become God".

    And St. Catherine of Genoa:


    “…God became man in order to make me God; therefore I want to be changed completely into pure God…”

    - Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), Italian Catholic mystic

    A good description of theosis from a Latin Catholic perspective is provided by John Ruysbroeck, a beatus of the Catholic Church who lived in 14th century Belgium, in his Little Book of Enlightenment or Clarification (also known as the Book of Supreme Truth) which can be read in its entirety here:

    godconsciousness.com/bookofsupremetruth.htm

    In this text he states very clearly:


    Behold, I have said this: that the contemplative lover of God is united with God through means, and also without means, and thirdly, without difference or distinction; and this I find in nature, and in grace, and also in glory...We must all be lifted up above ourselves into God, and become one spirit with God in love; and then we shall be blessed. And therefore mark my words and my meaning, and understand me aright as to what is the condition and the way to our eternal blessedness.

    It will either happen in this life by the grace of God or in the next by means of enjoyment of the Beatific Vision.
     
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  20. Kirran

    Kirran
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    I think actually there is traction to the idea of conscious or unconscious submission within a dharmic worldview. This is essentially an acknowledgement that in the context of the world of phenomena, everything proceeds according to what one might call the will of God, or destiny, or whatever you like. An awareness of this is one aspect of the fruits of cultivating a witnessing rather than a doing attitude.
     
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