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 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.