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World Religions: A Simple Chart

A Comparison of World Religions, Made Easy

World ReligionsDo you sometimes become enamored and enthused by something others might think of as histrionic in your praise of it? Ma’s India has just added a new line of 24 Mini Charts. I’m amazed that someone has so cleverly engineered something that is truly both innovative and useful. Check out the simplified and concise descriptions contained in a World Religions Chart in only 9 x 6 inches. Calling on the words of the poet, Robert Browning, “let me now count the ways,” there are 23 more charts from which to learn:  Astrology, Tarot, Ayurveda, Aromatherapy, Bach Flowers, Buddhist Concepts, Chakras, Dreams, Color Therapy, Crystal Gemstone, Essential Oils, Feng Shui, Goddesses, Herbs, and many, many, more!

Description of world religions

Today I am visiting this world religions chart. On this small, yet colorfully laminated chart is contained reduced explanations of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam—all on one two-sided chart. Refer to this world religions chart at any moment to see just what these world religions are about. Therefore, you are able to compare each religion by its teachings on Cosmology, Sacred Texts, Godhead, Time and The Soul.

Allow me to copy one of the World Religions expression of Confucianism:

“Confucius was born in China in 551 BCE in the state of Lu (Shantung province). He lived during the Chou dynasty, an era known for its moral laxity. Later in life, he wandered through many states of China, giving advice to their rulers. He gathered a small band of students during this time. The last years of his life were spent back in Lu where he devoted himself to teaching. Central to his teaching is the concept of propriety and order. Emphasis is on formal education and instinctive understanding of opposites.

Godhead: None. “Heaven” is a vast, infinite space of yin and yang forces. Cosmology: All life comes from opposing forces of yin and yang.

On Time: Time is undefined. Heaven and earth are unchanging essences.

On The Nature of the Soul: The soul divides into yin and yang qualities and reconfigures to be reborn. Some scholars believe in physical and spiritual immortality.”

World religions chart a true gift

In conclusion, World religions can sometimes confound us in their enormity. To have a chart at one’s fingertips that simplifies and instructs at the same time, is a true gift. I think you will find these little charts to be great gifts to yourself and others. As a result, I am planning to give the astrological chart to my favorite astrologer. I hope she will not think it presumptuous to give an expert in astrology a simple explanation of her work. I think it might be something she might even give to a client when they ask about astrology in general. It might well save her a long winded explanation. As a result, whether you’re in the businesses of Astrology, Tarot, Ayurveda, etc. let’s be thankful for these wonderfully condensed charts. Especially this chart of world religions.

Consequently, if you have a question about “world religions,” or anything else, write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer

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God and the Devil

The Spiritual Explorer talks about how God and the devil pertain to her life

I have long been curious about God and the Devil in terms of how the juxtaposition of these two great archetypes can show elaborately a struggle many of us have explored and experienced in our lives with the so-called higher and lower aspects of ourselves. When I think of how the Devil is to be drawn, I am led to the Devil in the Ryder Waite deck, a scary figure indeed.

God and the devil manifestations

God and the Devil

Devil Card from Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Here in this Waite deck, the Devil is pictured as holding hostage a man and a woman. The interesting thing is that the chains seem loosely drawn upon each which can be interpreted to mean they are not permanent and might be eventually loosened. In addition to two people bound to each other, one can also see it as a struggle within oneself. It also can speak of an addiction that confounds us, a relationship that is not healthy, or my favorite, ignorance of the true self which leads us into making poor choices.

In more contemporary usage, God and the devil can be seen to point out either certain surrender to the worst parts of us or a destructive force that has the capacity to be turned upside down to reveal its divine side. It’s almost yin turning into yang and yang turning into yin, a case for polarity instead of opposition. We see God and the devil as almost twin souls torn apart with a desire to be united with the other.

The twin souls motif of God and the devil has been popular throughout the ages, although considered heretical in some religions. In Paradise Lost written by John Milton in the 17th Century, the poet’s way was to show not only what caused man’s fall, but also the consequences upon the world, both bad and good. For some deep thinkers, there is the philosophy that the good which ultimately evolves as a result of the fall—God’s mercy, the coming of Christ, redemption and salvation—leaves us in a better place, with opportunity for greater good than would have been possible without the fall. This is a philosophy that has also been taken over by New Agers, who seek to extract and even aggrandize any good that can be redeemed from unfortunate circumstances.

God and the devil experienced in human terms

Recently, experiencing a throwback to my food addiction behavior in the light of some extraordinary spiritual progress I believed I was experiencing, I did a three card reading for myself. I do this rarely for myself since I know it is good to respect the tarot and not consult it regularly, thus giving an opportunity to more aptly believe in what the cards reveal.

I pay the most attention to the middle card because I feel that it most accurately reflects the germ of the reading. The other two cards assist in expounding on the middle card’s meaning and significance, offering solutions as to how to solve a relevant challenge or just elaborating and elucidating the middle card’s meaning.

Lo and behold, I received the Devil card in the middle flanked by the Judgment (awakening) and Magician (creativity and manifestation) cards.  Again, most interesting was that I had embarked in the recent past upon a discipline that was bringing me many rewards in terms of greater compassion and awareness. I was feeling much gratified by this practice.

God and the devil as collaborators

I would say then that the two cards flanking the Devil card were where the struggle between God and the Devil becomes clearer, at least in my situation. My teacher, Ma Jaya, had always said that when one embarks upon a spiritual journey searching for God or spirit, the devil comes right along. In my case, the devil was right here as shown in the cards. That awakening and manifestation also appearing was right on, thus giving credence to what Ma had said.

Sometimes I wonder whether that has to be a truism that God and the Devil are always in lockstep and companions to the other or whether one can go to God as it were without conflict or struggle. I don’t want to be naïve, but I have heard of sudden awakenings where one does not revert to addictive behavior in an effort to perhaps cover the fear that might be attendant.

I am hoping that my foray into a more addictive lifestyle is not permanent and that I will awaken in some way begin to identify with a healthier lifestyle and continue with my expansion. While I might be experiencing a return to old behavior, I am trusting that my recent new practice will survive this behavior and that my own story with God and the Devil will find them somehow able to be collaborators and not adversaries. That is my prayer for now: perhaps where God and the devil do not square off with each other and can co-exist and collaborate, part of the combo of earth and heaven.

Or perhaps my practice needs to go deeper. That sounds like this is the ticket.

Stay tuned.

If you have a question about “God and the Devil,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer

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Spiritual Movies: Groundhog Day

Spiritual Movies Series

The Unexpected Spirituality of Groundhog Day

Spiritual MoviesI have long thought Groundhog Day was one of the most spiritual movies I have ever seen. In fact, I must admit that I saw it at least 25 times when it first emerged in 1993. I was looking to extract that piece of wisdom that was both beckoning and confounding to me. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant, disenchanted and disgruntled with life Pittsburgh TV weatherman. One day, he is assigned to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The next morning he wakes up to find himself in a time loop, living the same day over again.

Elements of a Repetitive Act

After indulging in hedonism and attempting suicide, Phil awakens to realize his real life is full of repetition and regret. It’s not just in Punxsutawney. He begins to see that his repetitive, destructive choices lock him into a lifestyle that only brings unhappiness and despair. He also begins to see his manipulations and attempts to seek shallow happiness only further deepen his despair and unhappiness. Realizing the futility of his choices, caught in a time loop, he sees no way out but to kill himself.

Each morning, he awakens to find himself in the same situation. What follows is a series of both humorous and sad attempts to escape this repetition. It behooves us to ask ourselves how we, too, find ourselves in a self-created Groundhog Day in our lives.

Phil awakens to his Groundhog Day

Phil is in a loop. At this point, we see the beginning of an awakening. Suddenly his behavior becomes painfully obvious and he begins to change his usual responses to situations and people around him. The beggar asking for change becomes real to him and Phil does everything he can to take care of him. He begins to invest himself into the life at Punxsutawney and develops relationships.

As a result, he becomes the hero to many of them for his willingness to become part of the community. Phil has begun to awaken. With the awakening, comes the surrender of difficult parts of his personality that actually brought him pain.

There are many examples of awakenings where people turned their lives around. They are usually provoked and encouraged by dreadful happenings in their lives. In the New Testament, St. Paul, who in his zeal to kill Christians, is awakened by the Divine voice of Christ. Contemporarily we have heard of the dramatic awakenings of Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle. Both Katie and Tolle’s awakenings were preceded by depressive and despairing states.

The Groundhog Day syndrome … in other stories

In the Secret Life of Ivan Osokin, a fascinating little book by P.D. Ousspensky, Ivan Osokin was a young man in the grip of what Hindus might call samskaras, deep-rooted behaviors that follow us lifetime after lifetime. After a series of poor choices and bad luck, Mr. Osokin finds himself in front of the house of a magician who promises to send him back to the beginning of his life so that he can make different choices. Returning to his past, however, those same samskaras accompany him and he returns to the present, unchanged and still miserable.

The manner of Phil’s many attempts at suicides was particularly fascinating to me. He had reached his nadir and could not manipulate or figure a way out. Many of us come to that same conclusion, but unfortunately cannot reach beyond that place. Some even succeed in ending their lives. Phil, however, because of his immersion in the time loop, could not even do that. Meeting futility at his own “no exit,” he luckily recreated and re-formed his self and cast aside the cynical and destructive part of his personality.

Is it possible for us to recognize this and change?

Who is blessed to be able to do that? Some people never see that they are the co-creators of their own unhappiness and blame others or themselves for their unfortunate circumstances. I think that is why when we hear of people’s horrific past and see the remarkable strides they have made, we call them heroes.

And heroes they are. Joseph Campbell spoke about the Hero’s Journey, the journey that all of us are called to take in this lifetime. The unfortunate thing is that many of us  have subscribed to an illusion of life by well meaning, but unconscious parents, who tell us to expect an illusion-filled life, where we are fed myths of happiness. As a result, life may produce someone who never learns how to cope with adversity and when it appears, becomes so victimized or disempowered he feels his life is over. The true hero realizes that only he or she can rescue themselves through awareness, desire to change and ultimate surrender. If we are lucky, we receive the gift of faith and spiritual empowerment that are the gifts of surrender.

Heroes sometime emerge after a lifetime with their hearts still intact and begin a life of service. Now they are truly a “hero”. May we all be blessed to lead such lives.

Teachings in the form of spiritual movies can sometimes be the easiest teachings to accept and learn from. I believe this to be true because it’s also entertaining. This combination allows you to take in teachings in small doses, acknowledging a little at time. I look forward to sharing other spiritual movies with you.

If you have a question about “spiritual movies,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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