“Every individual has a destiny that has to be worked through.”
Welcome to 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.
Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.
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Season Two - Episode Twenty Eight
GOD: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - THE PODCAST
JLM - Narrator (Jerry L. Martin) - voiced by Scott Langdon
Jerry - Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon
GOD - The Voice of God - voiced by Jerry L. Martin, who heard the voice
Four thousand years ago, the same terror that had swept into the Persia of Zoroaster's youth thundered through the mountain passes of northwestern India. The quiet lives of farmers and herders of prehistoric India were "rudely and ruthlessly interrupted." The invaders were, an ancient scribe writes, "a host whose onslaught was like a hurricane, a people who had never known a city." They knew something more powerful--the warhorse.
They were called Aryans because they came through Iran, and they swept all before them, not only into India, but as far south as Mesopotamia and as far west as Greece. These warriors were not literate, but they brought a rich oral tradition, an offshoot of the Old Religion of Zoroaster's day. Their scriptures, the Vedas, are still sacred for Hindus today.
Be quiet and listen. There are two trajectories, East and West.
The West is from early polytheism,
a sense as we have discussed of the awe of nature
and something like a Buberian I-Thou with animals and the like.
It moves from that to the ancient empires understanding Me
as the Ruler of the Universe
and trying to line up their order with Mine.
This involves, not just awe,
but understanding that I am normative, that I set the standard. Notice how that is both same and different with the Chinese,
for whom it is not a vertical relation but a horizontal one—
for them, I am normative in the sense of being
the order in which they are already immersed
and must just get in swing with.
Back to the West, I revealed Myself to Israel in a dramatic fashion.
Lord, the Indian materials seem completely different from the historical encounter with the God of Israel.
When you read more Hindu materials,
you will start seeing that I had a development there
analogous to My Old Testament development.
But also look to pre-Aryan religion.
Remember the remarkable "guru" figure
in prehistoric Mohendo-jaro that looks like a yogi in meditation. That was already a very spiritually receptive phase.
The Upanishads, a later Hindu scripture,
show a radical turn inward and also a kind of monotheism.
Here the Atman was born.
I revealed Myself as the Brahman who is identical with the Atman. This is a very complex relation
and its relation to the God of Israel is complex.
The Atman is the Self behind the self. The Brahman is the one ultimate reality that encompasses everything. This Brahman is not to be confused with the term, Brahmin, which is the name for the priestly class.
The Hindu revelation is very old, very profound.
Do not assume that other revelations
fit into the Hebrew framework.
They all fit into a larger framework.
None is primary or the master narrative,
though some are more adequate than others.
When you read the strange tales of the gods,
listen for My voice and then ask Me about it.
In the Vedic tradition, the god of victory of the Old Religion was replaced by Indra, an amoral warrior-god, said to be "bountiful to his followers, valiant in combat, reckless, drinking deep of soma," the intoxicating elixir of the gods. He fights his supplicants' battles, demands lavish offerings in return, and rewards them with riches.
In one of the Vedic stories, great demons, led by the monstrous dragon Vitra, attack the gods and threaten to destroy them. The young Indra, "the thunder-bolt wielder," takes them on alone. Indra prevails and, from the body of the slain monster, fashions the world.
That is suggestive, Lord. I get the impression of You . . .
. . . young, heady, taming the chaos . . .
. . . establishing Dike, the Tao, Rta.
Greek, Taoist, and Vedic terms for cosmic order.
And this elemental resistance to the Divine is what the world is.
It requires a battle.
And we are partners in this ongoing battle.
There are three streams of Hindu religious life. The earliest texts, the Vedas, taught proper ritual, a tradition transmitted through priests, the Brahmins. Closely related was the dharma – the duties -- of one’s social role. This was the way of Action. Next, the Upanishads teach spiritual liberation through meditation and spiritual understanding. This is the way of Knowledge. Meanwhile, the Puranas, stories of gods such as Vishnu and Shiva, inspire a more personal relation to the gods. This is the way of Devotion.
Are all three ways – of Action, of Knowledge, and of Devotion -- aspects of Your message?
So all three are true?
Yes, in some important respect.
I get the sense that ritual is important as a sacrifice, a setting aside something for God, a dedication of one's life to God.
And what about the Puranas, the stories of the gods?
The Puranas are important, not so much for their specific content, as for their understanding of Me as personal.
Personal in what sense? Aren't they all just myths, not reports of actual encounters with God?
They look like that but they are not.
They have the glimmer of Me as really a Person.
Since I did not have for them
the dramatic presentation of My revelation to Israel,
they didn't have a "real history" view of Me,
but they did have an intimate, personal relation to Me.
They understood that I was a god they could
call on for help, relate to, and personally worship,
as we see in the scene in the Mahabharata epic
about Draupadi's sari.
When the rightful king gambled away his beautiful wife, the wicked victor ordered that she be disrobed in public. Hearing her cries, the divine Krishna ensured that, like a magician's handkerchiefs being drawn out of his sleeve, the unwrapping of her sari never came to an end. She remained clothed.
Devotion to a particular god primarily takes the form of darshan--seeing the god and being seen by him or her. Not every Hindu icon carries the presence of a god, but those in properly dedicated temples do.
In addition, in times of trouble, an avatar--a god in human form--appears. When Gandhi studied Christianity, he found it quite incredible that Christians believe in only one incarnation. Hindus believe there have been many.
It seems that Hindus have no problem accepting Jesus. They simply regard him as another avatar.
I send individuals from time to time to "heal the world."
But that is not "God made flesh."
All people are, in a sense, God made flesh.
People come into the world for their own purposes –
their own mission or task in life –
but the goal of all mankind is, in a sense, to heal the world.
That means none are especially divine?
No, that concept -- classifying them as divine or not –
doesn’t work well.
What is 'healing the world'?
That’s a big topic.
Briefly, every individual has a destiny
that has to be worked through.
As we have explored, this includes Me.
And we work through our destinies in tandem, together,
in interaction with one another.
“Saving," "healing," "descent," "ascent" are not quite right.
There is a general unfolding.
Every individual has a crucial role to play.
Lord, Krishna is quoted as saying: "I am the goal of the wise man and I am the way.' That sounds like Jesus: 'I am the way, the truth, and the light."
There is a Way, and it is exemplified
in great individuals, in great souls.
Since there is, in a sense, One way, the language is apt.
Why the egocentric formulation--'I am the way'?
That comes from the individual's feeling so merged with Me,
or so identical with the Way, that the language feels natural.
The way of the good person is the Way.
An "incomparable book," the nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called it. He was speaking of the Upanishads shortly after they had been translated in the West -- "the highest of human wisdom . . . almost supernatural in conception." To this day, philosophers, writers, and even scientists have echoed that praise.
The key theme of these ancient Hindu scriptures is the unity of all things. Their central insight is that “the Atman is the Brahman.” There is a deeper Self or Soul behind the self or personality as we ordinarily experience it, and this deeper Self is identical with the One Reality that transcends all categories.
The Indian relates to Me through an aspect of the Self
that relates to, or is identical with, Me in My total form.
It is, or at least feels, quite impersonal.