GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

92. Eastern Religions | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 9 [Part 2]

September 15, 2022 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Richard Oxenberg
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
92. Eastern Religions | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 9 [Part 2]
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Philosophical and spiritual dialogues sharing a new perspective on Eastern religions from God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. Explore Eastern religions as experiences with God in uniquely intrinsic ways, from deep within one's self, and discover how Eastern spirituality guided human spiritual development and the growth of God's story and evolution.

While Jesus and Buddha share words of empathy and compassion, Western and Eastern religions have distinctive histories with God and interact with the Divine in very different ways.

Consider a new perspective on Hinduism and understand reincarnation as a learning process. Within infinite worlds and lives, each lifetime is a pursuit of Karma, or balance, utilizing Dharma as a call from each person's talents and story to achieve spiritual living.

Listen to a new view on Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism as revelations of harmony, compassion, and empathy, but with a new insightful twist on God's perspective of Buddha's revelation.

Join host Scott Langdon for this profound conversation between Dr. Jerry L. Martin and Dr. Richard Oxenberg of philosophy and religion, daring to consider God's perspective in the series Two Philosophers Wrestle With God, Dialogue 9- Eastern Religions.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin is a philosopher and author of the true story, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher and is the founding chairman of the Theology Without Walls group at the American Academy of Religion.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg is a professor at Endicott College and has published numerous articles on ethics and theology, including: On the Meaning of Human Being: Heidegger and the Bible in Dialogue.

Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.

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Related Episodes: [Two Philosophers Wrestle With God] World Religions [Part 1] [Part 2]; The Nature of Human Beings [Part 1] [Part 2]

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Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 92. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:12] Hello and welcome to Episode 92 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, your host to the second part of the ninth dialogue between doctors Jerry Martin and Richard Oxenberg, where we take you today as we continue with our series Where Two Philosophers Wrestle With God. In episode 92, the discussion of how God was developing, learning and communicating through the Eastern religious traditions continues. Richard points out some of the more broadly known understandings of these religious traditions, and Jerry explains what he was told about how God was active in and through these religious traditions. Here now is part two of dialogue number nine. I hope you enjoy the episode. We begin with Richard speaking first. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:02] Another thing, the way in which the idea of Atman seems to (maybe) be different from the Eastern conception is the notion that the Atman itself is growing, right? It's not just the same from one life to the other. There is a process, or a progress that the Atman itself is undergoing. And is becoming-- You want to say a little bit about that? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:26] Well, the word learning is used. The Atman is learning as it goes from one life to another. It's one point at which, and the outcome remembers. So, it really is a bit like the one point the analogy is made with an actress who plays one part and then another part in different plays, or the same part again, and another play, or the following night, you know. But it's the same actress, and the actress remembers the various roles she has had and is probably learning to be an actress. And now, if we also think of her more complex life, being an actress on stage takes part of her life, but she's also, let's say, a wife, and a mother, and a member of the PTA, as well, and who knows what else? She might be a cellist, as well, or who knows what? And of course, she is the one person engaged in these different roles, learning from each, growing from each, and the Atman, the soul that goes on from one life to the next, is acquiring these aspects, or experiences, or traits. Not quite clear what that residue is, other than it's called learning, and it certainly includes memory. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:03:44] And the goal is not to, I mean, I think you say at one point, or God says at one point, the goal is not to break the chain of reincarnation. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:01] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:04:03] And that, again, is somewhat different from the classical point of view that we get in Eastern religion, where you're trying to finally stop the cycle, or escape the cycle of birth and death. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:20] Yeah, right. They saw that as a trap. You're trapped on the wheel of karma, so you've got to go through, do it over, and over, and over. You know, it's just so horrible. And they wonder, they want liberation from the wheel of karma, and none that is in God: An Autobiography. There are multiple worlds, and each one is deeply meaningful, each is a life that adds to the whole totality of worlds. You know, you're doing your part, you might say, in cooperation with the divine, to actualize all of these many, many possibilities. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:00] Right. But there is an idea of karma, right? Or at least it's mentioned. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:05] The term is used, not carefully defined, I would say. But yeah, there's an... Occasionally, it's used in a key way, as if, you know, your karma does seem to have something to do with what your task is from one life to the next. And at one point it's said, it's not to pay your penalties, it's not because you lived you were a bad person before, now you're going to suffer, or have to work it off. It's not that. Nevertheless, the phrase is used, you need to kind of balance your life. So, you're... and that might just mean, you know, like a musician, you've done this kind of music, but you need to balance that out with doing, you know, you've got rhythm down, but you need to get subtle notes in too, not just boom, boom, boom. So, you need to balance things from one life to the next, or it may have been one sided, in any way, any life is going to be one sided. So, there's always something to be left out that another life has a chance to balance. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:06:16] Yeah. At one point, it's page 229, God says, "The key to karma is Dharma.”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:33] That's right. And here, again, it's very unlike classical Hinduism, where Dharma was your social role, and that's the theological foundation of the caste system. Which, as most Hindus I know today, reject the class system. It's a kind of social, rigidification of a valid insight. You know what, your karma in this life, in other words, something like your task in this life is to pay attention to your Dharma. And your Dharma is by looking at your situation around you and figure out what does it behoove you to do in light of your being a child with these parents, being a neighbor of these neighbors, and being in this kind of political community, having these talents and not having these other talents, having these challenges. I saw somebody on television who just had a terrible, terrible temper that was, you know, led to violence, and he found out working out in the gym helped. So, he was working on, you know, noting his situation, and the Dharma that follows from happening, who knows, body chemistry that leads to losing a temper, and so he knows how to cope with that.  

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:07:57] Well, it always comes back to the one quote that always seemed to me to almost be the center of the book. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Really? 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Which is on page 312. God is saying this is the ultimate meaning of it all. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:16] Mm hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:17] And you say, "It has to do with karma?" And God says, "Yes. In a sense I have a project to complete." Actually, this is the Atman of God that is speaking. “I have a project to complete. It is in the nature of reality that the world, the totality of worlds plus me is here for a purpose. There is a goal.” You say, “then what is the goal?”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:42] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:43] And God says, “The goal is completeness. Connectedness to create the many and to pull them back into the one.” 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:53] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:54] Right? That seems to be the big, overall dance. Right? That this Atman of God, which is the ultimate ontological potentiality of all things, gives rise to this almost unimaginable diversity. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:13] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:09:14] Of distinct things. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Then has to be brought into a kind of harmonious whole. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:22] I gather the drawing into one doesn't mean- it's not like Plotinus, that you've got to draw everything back into a single, simple unity, but what you just said, Richard, which is harmony. It's as though you've got a bunch of people showing up with musical instruments, and now you've got to make music out of it that actually fits rather than just being a cacophony. And, you know, an awful lot of life in the world is a cacophony. It's a great bunch of people stridently doing different things at odds with one another and contending in opinions. You know, everything from opinions, to actions, to institutions, and lifestyles, and so forth. Well, it's to have them somehow in harmony with one another, and when they're in harmony with one another, then the diversity becomes very rich, very fulfilled, and the totality is very rich and fulfilled. The totality, the unity of the simple one, is not a whole lot of actualizations of value there. But in these multiple worlds, with rich diversity, and all these different souls enacting lives, to the extent one can bring them into some kind of harmony, then one is getting somewhere that matters. And at one point, one of the passages in this section, I think it was actually about the Chinese, rather than in India, but it's compared to a kind of music group. Have you seen this? I'm not a musician enough to participate, but I've seen it and thought it was quite a phenomenon, where they come together, each bringing their own instrument. One kind of starts a tune or something, and the others kind of play on it. Sometimes taking turns of who's doing the lead and kind of developing the music around them. Sometimes it's a jazz version, but I've heard other versions that aren't. And so, these various instruments start coming together rather spontaneously, though, often the people know each other, but they start creating. Creating, because they're not creating something that's already been created, they're not enacting a score, they're creating new music in harmony with one another, knowing how to play off one another. That's a talent, if we can learn that in life, how to successfully play one another. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And I guess what's being said-- well, two things I guess I'll say. The first is that this discussion of harmony kind of naturally leads or flows into the discussion about Chinese religion in the book. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right? Because I think it's emphasized that at the core of Chinese religion is this notion of harmony. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right? We see it in Daoism, right? In terms of having to harmonize or balance out these two apparently opposing tendencies. Right. The yin and the yang in nature. But somehow the Daoist master is one who achieves harmony within those two poles. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right. And we see a similar kind of pursuit of harmony in Confucianism. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Where it's focused on the harmony of human relationships. And we see a similar kind of pursuit of harmony in Confucianism. Yes. Where? Where it's focused on the harmony of human relationships. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:56] Mm hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:12:56] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:58] That would be a lot like the Karma is Dharma line that Confucius very much emphasizes one's social roles, and the kind of seven sacred relationships, and so forth. If you enact those properly, then you have social harmony. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:13:19] Right. And as Confucius sees it, the social role isn't simply, at least as I understand it, not just a role prescribed to you by society. It's the role that you must play in order for that relationship to achieve its good. Right? So, it's a natural good that one is striving for within the bounds of society. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:46] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:13:47] And then, you know, I guess the question then becomes, what kind of a person does one have to be, in order to achieve this kind of harmony, right? And this then may perhaps lead us into Hindu religion. There's a quote-- let me take a look if I can find it, where God seemed to say what is critically important, or significant about Hindu religion, and Eastern religion-- The quote is on 199, "The people of India received more truly and clearly than anyone. That's the way to reach me, is through the inside that I am the Ur-consciousness of each individual's consciousness.”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:43] Yes. Right. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:14:45] So that is one of the distinctions between the East and the West, right? Where the West has tended to envision God as almost a radical other issuing commands, the East has tried to find God deeply within. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:08] Yes. Yes. Yes. And that gives me-- God says, here, it's a sort of, I can't remember, a kind of almost revolutionary discovery, and not just in human development, but in God's development as well, because we have to remember with each of these, God is discovering something about the divine self. As people react in different ways, and says about the Chinese, He discovered Himself as cosmic harmony. As a kind of, what it's one point He calls the divine hum to the universe. And, here, He's discovering Himself as connected in this extremely intimate way, a way that almost amounts to pure identity, to the individuals' insides, you know, the individual's most intimate aspect, and God's most intimate aspect, the individual's most intimate aspect, interact so closely that it's almost, according to God: An Autobiography, mistaken for an identity. It's not quite an identity, but it's this extremely close affinity. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:16:20] And it's interesting, you know, because you talked about karma as a kind of balancing out, and it's almost as if there's focus on the inner identity with God, helps to balance out the focus in the Western religion, on the idea of God as delivering commands. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Good point. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right. As an other who is delivering commands. And in a sense, there seems to be the idea that it is through experiencing God in this inward way, that we are then better enabled to live in this harmonious way with nature and others. Right? I think there's a quote about that on page 202 where you're talking about the Hindu doctrine of detachment. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:14] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:18:04] One of the ways in which Hinduism understands the problem of life, is that people become attached to finite things, and that puts an over emphasis on those finite things, which creates greed and all sorts of things. And since these finite things are finite, that also creates a kind of radical insecurity, because if you're trying to find your security through something that is itself insecure, you know, it's like clinging to a sinking boat in order to keep yourself from drowning. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:37] But that's the Buddhist insight, mainly. What you just said could be stated as the essence of Buddhism, that we cling to things that are themselves insubstantial. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:18:50] Right. Right. But here's an interesting quote from 202, God is saying, "What detachment does. Yes. Is to put you on my side of the great line. The great divide." The divide being, I think, the subject and object, or the divine of the creation and the creator- that divide, right? So, detachment from the things of the world, you know, allows you to create an attachment, or an identity with the divine. And then it goes on, "There is a physical reality and you can identify with that. And there is a divine reality and you can identify with that. "

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:30] Yeah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:19:30] If you detach from things first," First you have to detach from the physical, right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:35] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:19:36] "You cannot do your full work in conjunction with me without detachment.” So, that's the sort of, great insight of the Hindu model, or the Eastern model of religion. But the idea here, as you then point out, is that the purpose of detachment is not disengagement. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:02] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:02] Right? It's not to escape the world, but it's to more fully move into the world. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:09] To engage it on behalf of divine purposes rather than acting out of your own ego, greed, lust, etc. But it's to act in the-- These very words about detachment, the most famous text is in the Bhagavad Gita, where they said in the context of convincing Arjuna to fight in the battle. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:34] To fight in the battle, exactly. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:36] How to fight in the battle, but he's got to try to win, because the other side is bad. He's got to try to win.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:42] That's his Karma, right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:44] That's right. That's right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:45] That's his Dharma, he must fulfill that Dharma. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:48] Yes, exactly, but when you fight, whether you're going to win or not, it's not in your hands. And you don't fight, although you're trying to win, it's not as though you want to appropriate the victory as a kind of possession at the end. That's not the goal. It's to do your duty. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:11] Right. And my understanding-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:13] And be in partnership with the divine represented here by Krishna. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:19] Right. And the reason that you fight is not to promote yourself as an ego. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:27] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:28] Right. The reason to fight is to achieve the good, to fight for this better, more ideal, more harmonious world. Sometimes, you know, if you're fighting against the Nazis, I guess, you have to really fight. This is why the Bhagavad Gita, I guess, could have become such a favorite of Gandhi. People talk about how Gandhi could have admired this story about war–

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:07] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:08] Being such a pacifist. But, you know, he strongly believed that all of this spiritual awareness was to lead to engagement in the world, to make the world a better place. Right. And that's what he understood the Bhagavad Gita to be talking about.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:26] Sure. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:28] And so you have a God who speaks of Shankara, “was a great man and understood in great depth what he understood. But what he understood was extremely one sided.”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:43] Yes. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:44] Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:45] Yes. He veered off so far, to what in the West we would call a monastic idealism, so far in the direction of the world not being real, that the God of God: An Autobiography, constantly corrects that in various contexts, and it's not an illusion, it's quite real. There are real consequences from engaging the world. It's not a play that's some Hindu-- 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Hiva, Maya? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Try to talk about as if there's a kind of divine play going on almost for idle amusement, for whatever, kind of itself, maybe a creative thing. But no, no. The world is quite real. Suffering is real. Victory and loss or reality. The Nazis killing people are real, and our defeating the Nazis is real. This is all quite real. Shankara understood, very deeply, the one truth I take it, is the truth you were articulating from the book, Richard, that deep way in which the self and the divine are intimately related, and that our task is to honor that relationship, and to live out that relationship, and not to be pulled. The world is real, but that also means it offers all these temptations, and snares, and delusions. So, the fundamental truth that Shankara understood is- no, in terms of life priorities, grabbing on to things around you is not, quote, real. You know, its very low priority, it's anti-priority because it gets in the way of what you should be doing, including getting in the way of doing your duty in the world, your proper Dharma. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:24:56] Right. And not just low priority, but actually that it least in the wrong direction.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:02] Actually, leads to the wrong direction. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:03] And yeah, that's a basic theme, it seemed to me, running through the book-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:06] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:07] That the world is real. That the concreteness, the granularity of reality is not something you should escape. It's something that you-- it's sort of where the action is, where the rubber hits the road. Right? Even the God beyond God is not adequate in Himself. He's only adequate, only becomes adequate, through the creation of real reality, where we are called to fulfill our Dharma, and fight the good fight, and so forth. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:46] That's exactly right. Exactly right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:49] But at the same time that we're called to do that, and this is a basic theme, it seemed to me, at the Bhagavad Gita- at the same time that we're called to do that, we need to also recognize that we are-- the wins and losses of this world are not ultimate. Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:09] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:10] That there is a higher reality in which everything is okay at some ultimate level that you can tap into, and feel some sense of that okayness, even now as you go out to fight the good fight. Right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:28] Yes. Yeah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:29] Maybe we should just say a little bit, we haven't said much about Buddhism.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:10] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:27:11] As I've mentioned to you, I was a little surprised about what seemed to me to be maybe a slightly dismissive, minimalizing attitude toward Buddhism in the book, and I just wondered if you could, you know-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:26] Well, God says it was not a major revelation. The Buddha was a remarkable individual, and he had a wonderful message in terms of compassion, and especially in that concept of the bodhisattva, where even the most actualized person ready to do what Buddha thinks the aim of life should be, which is to move off into, I'm now forgetting the term, the Buddhist term--

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Nirvana. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Nirvana, yeah. To move off into Nirvana, the bodhisattvas sacrifice himself or herself to stay in the world until every other single person achieves Nirvana. Well, that's a wonderful, wonderful image and lesson, but God directly completely rejects the Buddhist version of the way in which the world is not real, which would be an overstatement, as it probably is for the Hindus, also. The whole chain of causation that the Buddha speaks of, I don't know if I prayed about that in detail, I more got God's verdict, but it's that Buddha was trying to solve the problem of suffering. Suffering is caused by attachment to things. Things are themselves, he decides, ephemeral. They're not self-sustaining, and as soon as you see that they're ephemeral, you won't suffer anymore. Well, God does not think they're ephemeral. Buddha has no sense of the gritty nature of reality, of this as being the arena in which everything counts. That there's actual work to do in this world, not just to escape it, or to (I'm using some language that isn't quite accurate here) not just to rise above it, let's say, and see it in a different way as radically less real and certainly not as unsustaining. That just doesn't understand the nature of the world, and of our role in the world. I take it that that's the problem here. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:29:33] I'm thinking of the Mahayana in Buddhism, which emphasizes the role of the bodhisattvas and the going out into the world to relieve suffering. And that seems to bring us back into, you know, you should be engaged with the world, or doesn't it? You know, I guess I know a lot of people who find a great deal of comfort in the Buddhist idea. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Of course. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And they don't think of it as so much promoting a kind of absolute detachment, you know, or disengagement as, once again, you know, allowing someone to tap into what in the Mahayana tradition called the Buddha nature, which is that in us that transcends our sense of clinging to this sinking ship. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:55:57] Mm hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:55:57] Right? So that we can then live in the world in a harmonious way. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:30:35] Well, that may be as likely as all the religions. I prayed about the early text, the things closest to the revelation. So, I prayed about the polycanon, basically, which I take to be the foundational, revelatory, or enlightenment text of the Buddha. There are then all these developments, which I did not go into. I became aware of the bodhisattvas, but I take it, Richard, everything you said is just the one-part God endorsed. He rejects metaphysics. He thinks the lesson of compassion is powerful., but I think it says that the Buddha had such a fine sensibility that he virtually felt everybody else's suffering. That's getting very, you talk about I feel your pain, he really did just feel people's pain

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:31:36] And in that sense. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:37] And look to do something about it. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:31:39] And that's an interesting parallel between Buddha and Jesus. Right? I mean, both of them are deeply connected to the suffering of humanity and trying to find ways to heal it. Anyway, it's all very interesting. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:32:00] Yes. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:32:01] What I guess I thought-- we already did some of it today, in the context of the discussion of Eastern religion, but I guess maybe we can focus on it more specifically next time, is actually talk about if we think of these two Western and Eastern as balancing each other out, maybe we can talk about where we find that balance in the text. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes, yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Which I think we do find, you know, as we say, this sort of needing to find God on the inside in order to express God in one's external life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right. And it's kind of fascinating, and another fascinating thing that's not so much discussed in the book, but that is an implication of it, is that where this balance does not occur, we kind of get a perversion of the religion. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:02] Oh. Maybe. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:33:04] And that itself is part of the problem with religion in the world, and that may be one of the reasons why it's important for us to try and see how these different traditions balance each other out. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:18] Yes, because each one, in a sense, grabs on to one big truth, one fundamental truth, and develops that to the nth degree. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:33:32] Yeah. Yeah. Are you familiar with a preface to Sherwood Anderson's, Winesburg, Ohio?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin No. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Yeah, and the preface of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, he talks about an author, who is sitting in his bed and watching all these grotesque faces go by in his mind's eye, and finally, he asks himself, what is the source of their grotesqueness? And the answer is that they are all grotesque because they have seized hold of one truth to the exclusion of all the other truths. And in some sense, maybe the religions of the world have that grotesqueness about them to some degree. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:22] Yeah. Yes. Well, it's a natural human tendency. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Yeah. Yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Well, thank you, Richard. Fascinating discussion, I appreciate your taking the lead in these dialogues. 

Scott Langdon [00:34:50] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions@godanautobiography.com and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.

Reincarnation: A Learning Process
Karma: A Balance
Dharma: A Calling
Diverse Harmony
Buddhist Insight: Detachment
The Spiritual Fight For Good: Bhagavad Gita And Shankara
Buddhism In A Material World: A Message Of Compassion And Empathy
Jesus and Buddha: Parallels and Differences
Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio
Outro And Contact Information