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We Are Not Sinners

The idea of redemption is not really the case in Hinduism. Being already exists deep in the soul. Part of us is becoming, getting more refined, more spiritual. Get into the essence of the soul through meditation; find that part of us already one with God. No one has to redeem us; divinity is within. We just have to find it. Hinduism Today, Publisher's Desk, October, November, December 2012.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha.

Good morning everyone.

Thought I would read for a few minutes part of the October, November, December, Hinduism Today Publisher's Desk.

As some of you recall when I travelled for the first time to Caribbean, specifically Trinidad and Guyana, 2010, I encountered Hinduism, Hindus talking about redemption. And in fact I was asked to give a talk on Lord Siva. And of course, when you talk about the Deities to a group you don't know that well, there's always a possibility that you're presenting the Deities in a way that they're not familiar with so it's confusing.

So, in order to avoid that I asked: "Well, could you say a few things about Lord Siva."

And this pundit mentioned: "Well, Lord Siva is the redeemer."

And I thought about that and said: okay. That's how he encompass the idea of redemption that Lord Siva's the one who redeems you but it's not really the case in Hinduism. And one of the reasons for the presence for that idea there is over the last 15 years or so, not so much in the last few, there was a lot of Christian evangelists from the U.S. went there. And were very aggressive in propagating their faith. And as a result some of those ideas got mixed in with the Hindu ideas. And I would say there was a certain lack of clarity.

So the Publisher Desk is called: "Sinner or Divinity?" And we have three quotations to start with from prominent swamis.

First is from Swami Vivekananda's address to the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago 1893. Of course Swami Vivekananda was very bold and outspoken. He was like our guru, you know, just spoke it like he saw it and didn't care how people reacted.

"Being and becoming are different aspects of the same reality and are only relative to our intelligence. Man has the promise and potentiality of divine realization, of spiritual perfection, and therefore is God in the making; for even his humanity is intelligible only if regarded as an individualized self-expression of God. It is derogatory to human nature, therefore, to attribute sin to man. Besides, God being the sole and supreme Reality, how could a foreign element like sin invade the sanctuary of being? The Hindus refuse to call you sinners. Ye, divinities on earth, sinners? It is a sin to call man so! It is a standing libel on human nature."

I like that quote. The only sin is to call man a sinner. It's a nice idea.

Swami Chinmayananda, founder of Chinmaya Mission has a similar quote:

"Man is essentially divine. But the divinity in him is veiled by the unbroken series of desires and thoughts arising in his bosom. A variety of these grades and concentration of these create the variety of human beings. To remove the encrustation of desires and thoughts, and unfold the divinity inherent in man, is the ultimate goal envisaged by the scriptures."

Then Gurudeva:

"Deep inside we are perfect this very moment, and we have only to discover and live up to this perfection to be whole. We have taken birth in a physical body to grow and evolve into our divine potential. We are inwardly already one with God. Our religion contains the knowledge of how to realize this oneness and not create unwanted experiences along the way."

That's bringing out a slightly -- in addition to what was said before -- it's bringing out a new idea that we're already inwardly one with God. The other two swamis didn't quite say it that way. It relates what Swami, can be related the way I would understand it, to what Swami Vivekananda says in "Being and becoming are different aspects of the same reality..." That's how we started. It's that idea of being and becoming. Part of us is becoming and part of us is being. So the outer part is becoming. Our soul is maturing. We're changing. We're getting more and more spiritual where there's a becoming process involved.

Becoming means there's change. We're getting more refined, getting more spiritual. Being means it already exists. But you go deep enough in the soul you get past the part that's becoming and you get into the part that's being and Gurudeva calls that the essence of the soul. So if we can get into the essence of the soul which is done through meditation, we can find that part of us that's already one with God. Nothing has to happen for that part of us to be one with God; we just have to find it.

Had the pleasure in participating in an inter-faith gathering in Midland Texas for the last few years and someone had asked me five years ago or more, I never would have thought I would be putting Texas and Hinduism in the same sentence. When you think of Texas, at least back then, I never thought very much about Hinduism. But, it's becoming a real stronghold of Hindus due to the medical specialty, specialty institutes there as well as the I.T. Lot of I.T. Apple has it's educational department for example. Handles our educational sales account is in Austin Texas. So we, in Midland, Midland is still very much, I'd say strongly Baptist.

So we had an inter-faith gathering. I won't explain it in detail; don't want to go too long. But, the question that we were answering, five of us, was:

"In your faith is humanity considered a one family."

So, my answer was: "The Hindu belief that gives rise to tolerance of differences in race and nationality is that all of mankind is good; we are all divine beings, souls created by God. Hindus do not accept the concept that some individuals are evil and others are good. Hindus believe that each individual is a soul, a divine being, who is inherently good. Scriptures tell us that each soul is emanated from God, as a spark from a fire, beginning a spiritual journey which leads back to God. All human beings are on this journey, whether they realize it or not."

So that's just saying what we were talking about so far in terms of humanity rather than the individual.

And then the next speaker was the Baptist, Dr. Randel Everett. It was a real great juxtaposition. So you can hear this.

"The idea of the oneness of humanity--this is where Christianity would differ from some of the religions. We do believe in the oneness of humanity but that the oneness of humanity is that we are a fallen people. (No, we are a fallen people.) We do not believe that we are inherently good. We believe we are inherently selfish and self-centered, and that's why we need to be rescued or redeemed--that Christ rescues us from the domain of darkness."

So, very interesting juxtaposition. You can see where that idea redeem comes from.

So I think that's good for this morning. In summary: It's one of the ways in which religions significantly differ. It's this idea of inherently divine or inherently simple. And which are important when the religions kind of get mixed up to strongly affirm that in Hinduism, we're already divine. No one has to redeem us; divinity is in there. We just have to find it.

Have a wonderful day.