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Is Jesus Coming Back?
By Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD
(Courtesy of Dr. Deepak Chopra and Intentblog.com)
Taking the Bible literally makes no sense to moderate and liberal Christians, and one of the most urgent tenets of literalism, that Jesus will soon return to Earth to render judgment and save the righteous, seems like a fantasy.
Secular society has no need for Jesus to return. It leaves each citizen to privately choose a religion, or not to choose one, and all other maters fall outside the realm of faith.
So it came as a shock to secular society when millions of people couldn't take their minds off the return of Jesus, so much so that Judgment Day colors everything else they think about--family, relationships, morals, business, politics. Speaking for myself, I came to terms with this issue in the following way:
We are indeed waiting for the return of Jesus, and in this "we" I include those non-Christians who want to live in a tolerant, compassionate relationship with everyone. But if Jesus returns, there are three choices of who he will be. The first Jesus was historical, a rabbi living in first-century Palestine whose life profoundly changed religious belief in the West. The second Jesus is the core of a religion, which has its particular dogmas, rituals, priests, churches, and scriptures.
These two Jesuses are undeniably real, but the second one--the Jesus of organized religion--has been subject to human whim and change. Right now, if you are not a fundamentalist, he seems to have been hijacked in the service of intolerance, bigotry, and war. A religion that began in the name of love has reached almost its exact opposite--not for the first time, of course.
The third Jesus is not rigidly sectarian. He falls into the world tradition of spirituality. This Jesus speaks for peace and love; his morality includes all peoples; his Father is a universal deity. I was well acquainted with the third Jesus as a child in India. I could love and revere him. It never occurred to me that he would ever become an enemy. This Jesus doesn't speak of non-Christians as pagans. He raises human nature to its highest ideal, along with the saints and sages who have guided humanity for centuries.
I don't think that well-intentioned fundamentalists mean to pervert the third Jesus; I suspect they've never heard of him. He has one great disadvantage, however. You can't own him. You can't say "he's all mine and nobody else's." The third Jesus won't work if you need to justify a war, if you need evil enemies, or you want to brand "them" as godless.
Sadly, many fundamentalists need Jesus for all these purposes. So the third Jesus might not return to them, but if Christianity is to survive among moderate and liberal believers, who used to be the mainstream of the religion, won't it take the return of the third Jesus? The first one is long deceased, the second has fallen prey to politics and narrow-mindedness.
What alternative is there? Loss of faith and a slide into deeper and deeper meaninglessness. that would be a terrible fate for all of us, not just the Christians.
Time Magazine heralded Deepak Chopra as one of the 100 heroes and icons of the century, and credited him as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine." Entertainment Weekly described Deepak Chopra as "Hollywood�s man of the moment, one of publishing�s best-selling and most prolific self-help authors." He is the author of more than 40 books and more than 100 audio, video and CD-Rom titles. He has been published on every continent, and in dozens of languages and his worldwide book sales exceed twenty million copies. Over a dozen of his books have landed on the New York Times Best-seller list. Toastmaster International recognized him as one of the top five outstanding speakers in the world. Through his over two decades of work since leaving his medical practice, Deepak continues to revolutionize common wisdom about the crucial connection between body, mind, spirit, and healing. His mission of "bridging the technological miracles of the west with the wisdom of the east" remains his thrust and provides the basis for his recognition as one of India�s historically greatest ambassadors to the west. Chopra has been a keynote speaker at several academic institutions including Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, Kellogg School of Management, Stanford Business School and Wharton.
By Ravi Kulkarni
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong"
- Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness. It is astonishing that that wonderful word invokes a negative imagery. Somehow forgiveness is something to be done by the great people or God. You are always encouraged seek forgiveness rather than forgive. Let’s look at the dictionary definition of the word forgive:
1 a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult> b: to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)
Please note the definition 2. It is all about feeling. It never ceases to amaze me how the original meanings of words contain such profound wisdom.
Resentment leads to spitefulness and the two feed upon each other like hungry wolves. What can be more satisfying than vengeance extracted when the enemy is most vulnerable. Just like two fencers, the two opponents have a go at each other alternatively. Finally, unlike in the sport, there are only losers, no winners. We have all seen people carrying the burden of hate all their life, as if it is a precious asset that they must safeguard and preserve at all costs.
Being a firm Covey believer, I will look at the benefits of forgiveness in four spheres of life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
We live by emotions. Because of our attachment and love, we care for our young and our family. We make value judgments, using our emotions. However, there are "good" and "bad" emotions. Good emotions are what are called the positive emotions such as love, happiness, empathy etc. Bad emotions are the ones like anger, hatred and jealousy. When I carry my resentment about an incident (such someone insulted me in front of others), I generate other "bad" emotions such as anger and hatred. My behavior is perceptibly altered when I feel resentful about someone. This can result in further squabbles and more resentment results. I begin to be anxious, nervous and irritable whenever I have to deal with that person. We encounter people who are extremely capable otherwise, but have a tough time working with others. There are surveys that have indicated that people, who score low on EQ, tend to be less effective than even those who have comparatively lower IQ but higher EQ. Forgiveness provides a powerful tool to keep runaway emotions in check and develop better interpersonal relations.
Physical benefits are most obvious when the effects of anger and other strong emotions on the heart are considered. Research has shown that people who are content live a happier and longer life. Body accumulates stress when negative emotions like anger, resentment and jealousy build up. Hypertension, weakened immune system, ulcers, and old age diseases like Alzheimer’s are only some of the negative effects of stress. They even have a term for acute afflictions that are caused by the emotions: psychosomatic illnesses.
It stands to reason that we all make mistakes one way or the other. We frequently hurt people around us. These actions do result in bad feelings and resentment against us. We do not want such feelings to be carried forward for perpetuity. We implicitly seek their forgiveness, even if we are not generous enough to actually ask for it. However, when we do not forgive others, the hypocrisy of the situation begins to bear upon our intellect. It erodes our courage and moral authority.
We are connected to other beings by virtue of a common thread of humanity. I would like to believe that there is something more common to all of us than the mere genes, brains and possessions. This connectedness provides us a framework for human relationships. As hatred only increases overall unhappiness in the humanity, it must be obvious that as we give up resentment, we become more loving, we connect with more people. When we renounce hatred, our spirit becomes free to act on other more pressing needs of the other three dimensions: physical, mental and emotional.
In conclusion, all four aspects of our being are benefited by forgiveness. Like a muscle it can be built by practice: start forgiving today in a small way. But most importantly, we must all remember to forgive ourselves for being petty, jealous, angry or depressed. After all we are capable of much more.
Ravi Kulkarni is an IT professional working for IBM. His interests include parenting, philosophy, music and current events. He lives with his wife and two children in Phoenix.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.
All Material © Copyright Kavita Chhibber and respective authors.
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