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Articles tagged as Philosophy

  • Scholarship and Devotion: Can They Co-Exist?

    Can a scholar be a true believer? Can a believer be a good scholar? Two parts of a problem that has exercised many in the West since at least the Enlightenment. Prof. Keith Ward, Regius Professor Emeritus of Divinity at the University of Oxford, takes a fresh look at the conundrum by examining some of the main problems and outlining a few principles that may help modern-day devotee-scholars.

  • ISKCON Vaisnavas Win Macedonian Essay Competition

    ISKCON Vaisnavas Atmarama das and Viracandra das have taken the first and third place in the National Best Philosophy Essay Competition, organized by the Philosophical Society of Macedonia and publishers Az-Buki.

  • Understanding the Art and Science of Krishna Consciousness: An Attempt at Reconciliation
    A quick glance at the many ISKCON-related websites tells us much, not least that there are differences of opinion about what Srila Prabhupada taught and different approaches to implementing his teachings. Naturally, we all think that our particular interpretation is "the" correct one, and that the Other is fundamentally errant.
  • What Price for Freedom?
    We all want our freedoms, but it seems they are not so free. Recent figures reveal that the cost of freeing Iraq and hopefully the rest of us from tyrants and terrorists is well over one trillion dollars and rising. Then there is the grisly cost of casualties, over ninety thousand dead and innumerable others injured.
  • When Karma Comes Knocking

    The Sanskrit word “Karma” found its way into the English dictionary long ago so today even the most conservative American has a sense of what it means. Since then John Lennon sang: “Instant Karma Is Going To Get You,” and bumper stickers mock: “Don’t let your Karma Run Over My Dogma.“ But Karma is no joking matter.

  • Nimai: The "Most Philosophical Third Grader in America"

    "Kids Philosophy Slam" a national essay competition in the US for kids K-12 recently declared Nimai C. Agarwal, a nine year Krishna devotee from Germantown, MD to be the "Most philosophical third grader in America."

    Nimai, a third grader home schooled by his parents, won the first prize in the 2008 essay contest by Philosophy slam (philosophyslam.org) amongst the third graders.

  • In Memoriam: Jahnavi Jennifer Haggard

    Religious movements are historical, sociological, philosophical, and hopefully, divine phenomenon. They are also the sum total of the contributions, influence and sacrifices of many men and women, both big and small. In the history yet to be written of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, (ISKCON) many persons will be noted for their contributions, both positive and negative, to this great social enterprise.

  • Radhastami and Today's Political Climate

    America is considered a progressive country, but unlike a number of other nations, thus far it has never elected a woman as head of state. Of course, there are many contributing social factors, but one of them should be considered: more than 90% of Americans profess to believe in God. Is it possible that the numerical disparity between males and females in positions of political leadership in the U.S. has been influenced by the major religious traditions, which portray the Supreme Being in predominantly masculine terms?

  • Why Does God Let us Suffer?
    This question has probably caused more people to lose their faith than anything else. Why does God sit peacefully in his cloud or wherever, feet up and smoking his pipe, while we suffer all kinds of grim miseries down here on earth?
  • Finding Contentment Amidst a Consumer Culture

    It’s the question on everyone’s minds, and one with an increasingly elusive answer in today’s world. The society we live in seems determined to convince us that we should be dissatisfied with what we have, and that if we get something else – something “better” – we’ll be happy.

  • Rights and Obligations in the Vedic Social Ideal

    In 1971, the idea of animal rights was “way out there,” a notion of the lunatic fringe. Yet this highly radical extension of civil rights to animals was contained within Prabhupada’s exposition of monarchism—a most conservative political philosophy, to say the least.

  • On David Hume and Pointing

    Sometime in the 1730’s, a young Scottish philosopher tried, and failed, to find himself. David Hume reflected upon this experience in his first book, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739). The passage is much quoted and anthologized. I encountered it frequently as an undergraduate philosophy major, for my teachers regarded it as a watershed in Western philosophy.

  • Sense Gratification: An Essay in Pathology

    The Sanskrit word bhoga means ‘pleasures’ or ‘enjoyments’. What kinds? The pleasures born (ja) from samsparsha, ‘the bringing into contact’—implicitly, the contact of the senses with their appropriate objects.

    This is what we mean by “sense gratification”: enjoying the pleasures that arise when the eyes, or nose, or tongue, the hands, skin, or genitals comes together with their particular objects.

  • An Essay in Pathology - Part Two

    Having a beginning (adi) and end (anta) qualifies all pleasures in the material world. For that reason, one who is actually wise (budha) seeks no enjoyment from them.

    It is a fact that in this temporal world we hold not title to, we have no actual possession of, anything we enjoy. Our lease here on happiness is fragile and fleeting.

  • A Successful Death: Hospice Nurse Shares Faith Experience
    In Krishna consciousness, life is a preparation for one moment -- the moment of death. Devotees of Lord Krishna believe that whatever a person thinks about at that crucial moment determines the next destination of the soul. Therefore, they hope to think about Lord Krishna at the moment of death and thereby return to His home in the spiritual world.
  • A Fable
    News reaches the world that the troubled inhabitants of Lokastan have begun to perish in steadily increasing numbers from a contagion. The disease organism is reportedly so virulent that all exposed fall ill and nearly all the ill die.
  • "God"?

    What the punctuation in the title indicates:

    Quotation marks: Draping the word God in quotation marks indicates that we are first concerned with the signifier, not the signified. (Compare these two sentences: I am interested in God. I am interested in “God.”)

    Question mark: The mark of interrogation backstopping “God” points us next to questions concerning the concept or idea of God. What does it mean? Aren’t there many different meanings? Isn’t the meaning often vague or ambiguous?

  • Conviction

    Doubt is the motor of the modern mentality, the indefatigable engine that drives the spirit of our age. Such doubt was honored with an early recognition in the essays of the Renaissance courtier Michel de Montaigne: “We are, I know not how, double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.”

  • The Notion of ‘Free Speech’ in ISKCON
    Does anyone remember the Telex machine? I guess even the question reveals my age. It’s like asking does anyone remember slide rulers or carbon paper. They are devices of the past. Like Linotype machines, spirit duplicators and pink negative correction fluid, they have all been washed away by the digital tidal wave.
  • Gaura Pūrṇimā 523

    Five hundred and twenty three years ago, on a full moon night in the month of Govinda, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in the world, the avatāra descended to deliver Kṛṣṇa prema to the extremely fallen people of this Kali-yuga.

  • Lessons from Slumdog Millionaire
    According to USA Today, "When Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars on Saturday night, its triumph provided as uplifting a story line as the movie itself. For such an unlikely film to win - independent, low budget, much of it in a foreign language - underscores an American strength that's sometimes forgotten: the ability, as a nation of immigrants, to embrace and assimilate people from different cultures."
  • Lord Caitanya and the Renaissance of Devotion (Part 1)
    India in the fifteenth century was underwent a renaissance almost the opposite of the European one; scholars have called it the “bhakti renaissance,” a great rebirth of devotion to God. The preeminent figure of this powerful religious upsurge was Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
  • Lord Caitanya and the Renaissance of Devotion (Part 2)
    Kṛṣṇa’s appearance as Lord Caitanya is really Kṛṣṇa’s own tribute and testament to the overwhelming attractiveness of pure devotional service and, especially, of His pure devotee. Moreover, when Kṛṣṇa assumes the features of His own greatest devotee, He has, in fact, a particular devotee in mind: His highest and most intimate devotee. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
  • Aristotle, the Somali Pirates and Yoga

    6th Street and 23th Avenue, it’s clearly the most patriotic intersection in town. A star-spangled red, white, and blue painted building on one corner, and diagonally opposite an intrusively large signboard that continually boasts inspirational sayings. The latest edition of the signboard reads, “America 3, Pirates 0.”

  • The Social Role of Cows
    Throughout history many traditional societies have centered on a particular animal, and the relations the people develop with that animal influence the values of the whole society. We think of the role of buffalo in shaping the lives and values of the Native Americans of the Plains. Similarly, we think of the Laplanders and their reindeer, or even the New England whaling villagers and the whales.
  • Doctors of Happiness
    The latest findings of Dr. Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor both funny and smart, derived from assiduous research into (human) happiness, have revealed to him an important truth that will already be familiar to students of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
  • Mom, Spiritual Economics and Bhakti-yoga

    You are standing outside a burning building. The flames and smoke are getting denser, but there is still one way to enter the building. Trapped inside it are the following beings:

    1. Your beloved mother.
    2. A Nobel-prize-winning scientist that is close to discovering a cure for cancer.
    3. A highly intelligent ape that may unlock the secrets of the missing link.
  • The Economy in Three Modes - Part II

    Knowledge of the three modes (guṇa-traya) proves to be fruitful on a variety of levels. The principles that offer insight into the working of individuals also illuminate the characteristics of entire cultures or civilizations.

  • The Power of Saying No

    In the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel and others started a revealing study of four year old children at a preschool on the Stanford University campus. The four-year-olds were offered a proposal involving getting a marshmallow (a kind of sweet candy). If they could wait for about twenty minutes till the person giving the candy returned after doing a small task, they would get two candies. If they couldn’t wait till then, they would get only one candy – but they would get it instantly.

  • Sanskrit, Character, and Bipartisanship

    Character matters, especially in a world where surety is fast becoming a thing of the past, in a communication age where according to Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message,” and philosophers of language are still pondering the question, "What is meaning?"

  • Flowers of Devotion
    Spanning the cusp between the 15th and 16th centuries, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught and exemplified complete absorption in divine love through the chanting of the names of God. Mahāprabhu propagated a spiritual discipline that carries the guided practitioner through clearly demarcated stages, beginning with a tentative interest (adau śraddhā) and culminating in an extraordinary exultation of ecstatic spiritual emotions (prema).
  • Paternalism and the Guru-Disciple Relationship
    Paternalism is based on the premise that it better to keep people, especially those people judged from a position of superiority to be vulnerable, in ignorance rather than given knowledge and the consequent rights and responsibilities. Not only is paternalism debilitating, but its effects can linger for decades. I’m living proof.
  • Compassion, Kant and Rats
    You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker. Its message, "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty!", has a natural appeal, doesn’t it? But, you probably don't know the real story behind this message. According to 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant, the message this bumper sticker is promoting is unethical behavior, and that those who follow it should not be considered moral persons!
  • A Résumé Builder from the Life of Bhaktivinode Thakur
    Sure the job market is tough right now. But, if you’re focused you can still be successful in finding the job that’s right for you. O Spiritual Warrior, your success will be in direct proportion to your ability to do two things: first, to meet the most pressing needs of a potential employer; and second your ability to utilize skills which give you an advantage over other applicants.
  • Morality, Love, and Srimati Radharani

    In Western philosophy it seems like a strange idea that God could be limited or controlled by something else. But in the devotional religious traditions of India where Krishna is worshiped as God, the idea that God is controlled by love is what makes Him so glorious.

  • Turned Off by Religion
    Has anyone heard the story of a devout atheist who became convinced that he was God after meeting a Hindu? While certain free-thinkers and skeptics are susceptible to changes of belief, many of them are intelligent and caring people, in the material sense.
  • What's In That Punch?

    Philosophers and scientists, dedicated to spreading the Word of Atheism, find no greater sport than to ponder upon the deficiencies of the universe. Congratulating one another for having transcended the magic spell, they make grand plans to enlighten the gullible ones.

  • We Are Born, We Live, We Die

    Three undisputed facts of humanity’s complex existence. But what is to come before and after these things, and why? An ancient philosophy could help us live more harmoniusly in the modern world.

  • For the Love of Wisdom

    Philosophy means the love of wisdom, the ability to separate truth from error, reality from illusion, and the subsequent discernment as to correct action. Professional philosophers use the word in specific ways according to which type of reality and illusion they are talking about.

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