31 Jul

Does Prayer Alleviate Suffering?

Nearly every religion employs the idea of prayer, and most people view prayers as a way to alleviate their suffering. If such a thing were possible, it would encourage the sinner to continue sinning and use prayer to be pardoned. Conversely, if such a thing were impossible, then the skeptic could ask: If God can take away my suffering, then why doesn’t He? Is He too weak to take away the suffering or is He not kind enough to pardon my sins? Both alternatives present problems, and this post discusses why sometimes prayer works, and other times it does not. It also discusses the purpose of prayer, which is not to remove the external causes of suffering, but the internal attitude that creates it.

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08 Apr

The Cycle of Guna and Karma

The term guna indicates what we desire, and the term karma indicates what we deserve; both exist as possibilities, but their combination in time produces the cycle of birth and death. This is the essence of the Vedic science discussed in an earlier post where guna, karma, and kāla were described as three laws of nature. This post takes that description forward and elaborates on the unique role played by karma and its significance in the creation of experiences. The post also discusses the law of karma at length and describes how the consequences of our actions are produced through an interaction between guna and karma, which produce one another, and their interaction creates a cycle.

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31 Jan

The Four Ethers of Sāńkhya Philosophy

Sāńkhya describes four ethers—vaikhari, madhyama, pasyanti, and para—which are successively deeper aspects of the material world and contain different phenomena. The understanding of the successive ethers depends on the understanding of the previous ether. In that sense, there are four tiers of causality and each such tier must be fully understood to obtain a complete understanding of material nature. This post attempts to describe these four ethers and their respective differences. I will begin with the problems of causality in the grossest ether called vaikhari which comprises material objects and their sensations, and use it to develop an understanding of the higher ethers. This, like the previous post, is a difficult topic, and reader patience is needed to get through to the end. But since it builds on the previous post, hopefully some of the difficulties will seem easier due to repetition, which helps us build familiarity over time.

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