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Hinduism and New Age Misunderstanding of Christianity


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#1 Daniela S.

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 01:46 PM

Greetings to All,

      I have been told that in Hinduism there is a serious misunderstanding of our Orthodox Christian theology, and that this misunderstanding  has also influenced the "New Age" movement here in the West since it borrows heavily (and seemingly arbitrarily) from Hinduism.  I have been told that many who become involved in yoga are eventually taught that Christianity itself somehow grew out of HInduism, and that therefore the truth about God and the nature of humanity resides in the ancient writings, beliefs, and practices of Hinduism, which are being adopted and promoted by modern practitioners of yoga. I have also been told that they believe that our scriptures "borrow" from ancient HIndu writings (apparently some even say that our Lord Jesus Christ spent years in India and "learned" his teachings there ).

    Does anyone know of Orthodox resources for learning how to talk to those immersed in yoga and the "New Age" movement about Christianity? I have acquaintances deeply involved in these things who often start talking to me about "God", "prayer" and "faith", but at the same time seem very patronizing or even hostile toward Christianity. I do not initiate these conversations, yet it seems that the other person is "defensive" during them, apparently threatened by my faith in some way. I often feel completely confused after our conversations, and it seems that although we are using the same vocabulary we are still actually speaking two different languages!



#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:10 PM

 it seems that although we are using the same vocabulary we are still actually speaking two different languages!

Until that is resolved, you will never be able to talk to them effectively.

 

Paul



#3 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:04 AM

New age is so old, there is nothing new in it.

#4 Kosta

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:27 AM

I've heard this before, but these same people can't come up with examples as evidence for their position.they just really want to fuse western and eastern religions.

Hinduism is a firm believer in reincarnation, Christ was completely unaware of such a belief. The entire gospel is about the resurrection of the dead. None of the Abraham religions even practise cremation as our belief is we don't burn the body because it's the same one we will get back in the resurrection. While theres obviously greek concepts in the gospel such as Hades, the idea of the Logos, etc, nothing of Hinduism. Even the equality promoted between the jews and greek gentiles flys in the face of a caste system.

Edited by Kosta, 22 October 2013 - 12:30 AM.


#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 01:12 AM

Hinduism claims its antiquity from the myth that the Vedas pre-date Judaism by centuries. Turns out this probably isn't really true. About the best research has been able to determine, the oldest Vedic texts date no earlier than 1000BC, and the oldest substantiated written texts only date from the 11th century (AD). So the Pentateuch has a much more substantial pedigree and easily pre-dates the Vedas. So who preceded who?

 

 

I love the Depak Chopra story that our Lord had to travel to India and learn from the "masters". The Master learning from fakir "masters"? Really? Honestly? According to what documentation? Can I get a reputable source? Made up perhaps? Gnosticism much?

 

As I think I have said elsewhere, ho is to say that those things similar to Judaism/Christianity found in pagan teachings weren't merely truth intuited or guessed at by men as opposed to Truth revealed from God?



#6 Kosta

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 01:42 AM

Lolol, Deepok Chopra said that? I guess our Lord rejected their teachings then, the parable of the rich man and the beggar can hardly be classified as Hindu influence. Can you imagine a Hindu guru saying the temple of his body will be destroyed but he will raise it up in three days? More like it will be cremated in 3 days and he'll show up as a different creature.

Not much belief in karma neither. Christ said thegood person stores up treasures in heaven, not that it will come back to them in this life. Likewise he denied that the blind man was blind due to some sin of his or his parents.

Edited by Kosta, 22 October 2013 - 01:45 AM.


#7 Daniela S.

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:42 AM

Dear Herman,

    Do you have any particular writings to suggest concerning the dating of the Vedic texts and the Pentateuch? I am very interested in this. It also seems likely to me that cultures "before" Christ could have possessed partial truths which ultimately pointed towards Christ.



#8 Kosta

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:51 AM

Daniela,

When Christ said that the scriptures "they speak of me" did indeed mean all of them. Prophecies of Christ are found in every culture. Fr seraphim Roseeven wrote a book on this "Christ the eternal Tao". Where he saw in Taoism and its writings many things alluding to Christ. So yes different scriptures and myths across different cultures all allude to Christ.

Similar moral teachings are commonly found across most cultures whether they are Native American, Greek, Shinto, African, no need to conclude that everyone collaborated with each other though.

Edited by Kosta, 22 October 2013 - 03:54 AM.


#9 Daniela S.

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:59 AM

It is important to me to learn how to speak to these people with compassion. If we have acquaintances who have known us since before we converted to Christ, surely they will be confused by the changes in our lives and begin to ask questions. I would like to respect their sincerity and actually respond to them in a helpful way, especially since they are initiating the conversations.  I think that polemical statements will just shut them down and ossify their false view of Christianity. I am not suggesting that I should go along with ideas that are in error just to "keep the peace", however.



#10 Daniela S.

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 04:03 AM

Dear Kosta,

   I listened to a lecture on Ancient Faith Radio about the book you spoke of, "Christ the Eternal Tao". I found it very interesting, but I could not absorb it all.  Maybe I will give it another try and read the book instead!



#11 Kosta

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:10 AM

The book gives some of Fr.Seraphim's thoughts on what he thinks is references to Christ and the Tao Te Ching . He also has his own translation of the work but im not too sure how accurate it is.

 

I have Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching softcover by penguin books. I could see why Fr. Seraphim thought highly of this work in light of Orthodox Christianity. And I do mean Orthodox Christianity, because some of the more interesting sayings can be recognized as types of the Theotokos similar to the ones found in the OT. Without a knowledge of Orthodox patristics and theology much in the book would be nonsensical.

 

Few examples:

The gateway of the mysterious female is called the root of heaven and earth. (bk1, ch6)

 

When the gates of heaven open and shut . Are you capable of keeping to the role of the female. (bk1 ch10)

 

One who excels in shutting uses no bolts, yet what he has shut uses no bolts. (bk1 ch22)

 

If your familiar with Orthodox theology,  Ezekial 44.1-3 is explained by the Fathers as a prophecy of the Virgin Birth and her perpetual virginity, The Ezekial prophecy is similar to the above statements, The Theotokos is seen as the ladder that stretches from earth to heaven (sometimes the ladder is seen in certain icons), in that she was the portal through which Christ descended from heaven to Earth.

 

Theres also references in this writing to an 'uncarved block' which mimics the "stone cut without hands" mentioned in Daniel 2.34. The Fathers interpret the stone cut without hands as a prophecy of the Incarnation of the God-man.  We can see a parallel between Daniel's vision and what this Chinese writing says of this uncarved block:

Daniel 2.44.45

44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

 

Tao 1.CH37

Should lords and princes be able to hold fast to it. The myriad creatures will be transformed of their own accord.  After they are transformed, should desire raise its head. I shall press it down with the weight of the nameless uncarved block. The nameless uncarved block is but freedom from desire, and if I cease to desire and remain still, The empire will be at peace of its own accord.

 

These are just some of the similarities that Fr. Seraphim Rose found fascinating and are found in all writings afterall the word scripture is latin for 'writing'.  Christ fulfilled all the prophecies not just ones from the old testament.


Edited by Kosta, 22 October 2013 - 07:16 AM.


#12 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:30 AM

"New Age" is a hodgepodge of ancient beliefs under a modern cover.
 
The confusion of occultism, astrology, world religion, new world order, monism, pantheism, meditation, hypnosis, global peace, and many others are making "New Age" an old recipe offered under new packaging.
 
The followers of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Taoism) and the followers of spiritualistic methods of Far East (yoga, meditation) have nothing to do with New Age.
 
Indeed, the "New Era" consists of a wide range of numerous theosophist variations. The common denominator of all these is that:
  • God is impersonal.
  • All religions, all beliefs inevitably lead to God. 
  • Man has no benefit by following a specific religion.
  • New Age will lead man into self awareness, which is the ultimate goal.
The New Age also has political and cultural goals: 
  • the establishment of a world government,
  • the domination of a specific cultural model: acceptance of all cultures but only after achieving a substantial weakening of specific features, which differentiate one culture from the other.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 22 October 2013 - 10:32 AM.


#13 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:36 AM

I don't claim that Wikipedia is "authoritative" but it is still a useful jumping off point. There are several source links at the bottom of the entries concerning the Vedas for further information. This is not of great use however, since the Hindu sources will simply say that the Vedas existed from "eternity" and this just happened to be one of the times they were made known to mankind. They were, of course, made known to different peoples at different times in different ways; different versions of the "truth" specificially suited for a particular time and place. It almost sort of makes sense if "truth" is a malleable thing, instead of a Person.


Despite some superficial similarities, Hinduism and Christianity are worlds apart, their foundations are completely different. And Lakis, I would not say that New Age contains "ancient" beliefs. This gives them more dignity than they deserve. I would say that it basically consists of warmed-over reappropriations of ancient beliefs that are nothing like what the ancients actually believed. I seriously believe that ancient pagans would be totally disgusted with what neo-paganism and New Agism have done to their beliefs! But that might just be me.

#14 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:12 PM

Phenomena, such as New Era, are based on the human desire to achieve absolute results within a short period of time. For this, when sufficient time elapsed, the dynamics of the phenomenon weakens internally. I have the opinion that the phenomenon of the New Age had exhausted its potential. At least from what I see, the factors that had formed a political agenda based on New Age readjusted their strategy and are now using other tactics.
 
This is the point I want to make: 
 
Hinduism in countries where is dominating, like India, has a history of many centuries through complex social and political processes, and therefore has been embedded as part of the identity of the people. When a Westerner speaks with an Indian on a question of God, it is almost certain that each one is talking about a different thing. For the Indian the fundamental question of God has no definite answer. But, for the Westerner this question is part of the defined issues. Also incompatible is the discussion about polytheism or monotheism: Hinduism accepts monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism (yes, all of them) as valid beliefs. For a Westerner this multiple acceptance is absolutely incomprehensible. My point is that in order to become a follower of Hinduism you have to actually become an Indian. You have to gain another cultural and personal identity and to actually become like a born Indian is.
 
When westerners meet with phenomena such as "New Era" initially are captivated by the diversity and transcendence presented as propositions to live by. Also they are attracted by the presence of an absolute freedom through the proposed psychophysical techniques (yoga, meditation). But also in this case, I think, the Westerner treats all these through the western filter that  carries within. This problem of alienation - similar to the problem of that which wants to be Hindu - has no solution. Because there is no "New Era" experiential model to identify with. 
 
"New Era" is an psychological/ideological/political construction. Its constructors tried to appropriate the empirical background of other beliefs (like Hinduism, apocryphism and other), but this is impossible to achieve in a short period of time. To fill the empirical gap, the New Age was based on the idea of ​​acceptance of everything: all experiences are being accepted as authentic, all cultures are being accepted as valid identities. So, when Hinduism is so complex that you have to become an Indian in order to become a Hindu, New Era proclaimed that you just have to be yourself in order to become a New Era follower. For New Era self awareness is all that is needed (this is accomplished by simple exercises and by following simple rules). Needless to say that the process has already failed, and the political-ideological system developed around New Age already is looking to be housed under a new construction.


#15 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:15 PM

And Lakis, I would not say that New Age contains "ancient" beliefs. This gives them more dignity than they deserve. I would say that it basically consists of warmed-over reappropriations of ancient beliefs that are nothing like what the ancients actually believed. I seriously believe that ancient pagans would be totally disgusted with what neo-paganism and New Agism have done to their beliefs! But that might just be me.

 

I absolutely agree.



#16 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:29 PM

   I have also been told that they believe that our scriptures "borrow" from ancient HIndu writings (apparently some even say that our Lord Jesus Christ spent years in India and "learned" his teachings there ).

 

 
Christianity is handsomely-dowried bride, everyone wants her dowry.


#17 Theophrastus

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:18 PM

Greetings to All,

      I have been told that in Hinduism there is a serious misunderstanding of our Orthodox Christian theology, and that this misunderstanding  has also influenced the "New Age" movement here in the West since it borrows heavily (and seemingly arbitrarily) from Hinduism.  I have been told that many who become involved in yoga are eventually taught that Christianity itself somehow grew out of HInduism, and that therefore the truth about God and the nature of humanity resides in the ancient writings, beliefs, and practices of Hinduism, which are being adopted and promoted by modern practitioners of yoga. I have also been told that they believe that our scriptures "borrow" from ancient HIndu writings (apparently some even say that our Lord Jesus Christ spent years in India and "learned" his teachings there ).

    Does anyone know of Orthodox resources for learning how to talk to those immersed in yoga and the "New Age" movement about Christianity? I have acquaintances deeply involved in these things who often start talking to me about "God", "prayer" and "faith", but at the same time seem very patronizing or even hostile toward Christianity. I do not initiate these conversations, yet it seems that the other person is "defensive" during them, apparently threatened by my faith in some way. I often feel completely confused after our conversations, and it seems that although we are using the same vocabulary we are still actually speaking two different languages!

Greetings,

 

I would say that the first step is to delve into why they feel patronizing or hostile towards Christianity.



#18 Phoebe K.

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:06 PM

Hi all,

 

Having studied the varying beliefs in Hinduism and their are a lot, some aspects do try and appropriate Christ as an aspect of one of their dainties  There is no constant theme though, Hinduism came into contact with Christianity when the apostle Thomas took Christianity to India in the first century, and the relationship has been difficult at times ever since as our faith is so differnt to the world views which make up the Hindu traditions.

 

My aproch to this as to dealing with most controversy of this nature is to follow the advice of Abba Matoes "if someone speaks about some topic, do not argue with him but if he is right, say 'Yes';if he is wrong, say, 'you know what you are saying.' and do not argue with him about what he has said." (from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, saying 11 of Abba Matoes).

 

 We can do a lot more to bring them to the truth by living in humility and the love of Christ than we can by our words, we just need to keep our words constant with our lives (the less we say the easier this is)

 

Phoebe



#19 Daniela S.

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:55 PM

Thank you, Phoebe. That is a beautiful reminder that living out our faith is crucial.. I should remember to pray to God more than I try to talk about God!

#20 Daniela S.

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:41 AM

Greetings,

 

I would say that the first step is to delve into why they feel patronizing or hostile towards Christianity.

Dear Theophrastus,

   You know, that is such a straightforward question that I have been afraid to ask it.  I don't know if I am prepared to handle the response! Although in my experience when people express hostility toward Christianity it is often toward Protestant denominations which they have only encountered through the media. They often have not even heard of Orthodox Christianity.






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