Personal god

A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person[1] instead of as an impersonal force, such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being".

In the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, God is described as being a personal creator, speaking in the first person and showing emotion such as anger and pride, and sometimes appearing in anthropomorphic shape.[2] In the Pentateuch, for example, God talks with and instructs his prophets and is conceived as possessing volition, emotions (such as anger, grief and happiness), intention, and other attributes characteristic of a human person. Personal relationships with God may be described in the same ways as human relationships, such as a Father, as in Christianity, or a Friend as in Sufism.[3]

A 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center reported that, of U.S. adults, 60% view that "God is a person with whom people can have a relationship," while 25% believe that "God is an impersonal force."[4] A 2008 survey by the National Opinion Research Center reports that 67.5% of U.S. adults believe in a personal god.[5] The 2014 Religious Landscape survey conducted by Pew reported that 57% of U.S. adults believe in a personal god.[6]

Views

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

Jewish theology states that God is not a person. However, there exist frequent references to anthropomorphic characteristics of God in the Hebrew Bible such as the "Hand of God." Judaism holds that these are to be taken only as figures of speech. Their purpose is to make God more comprehensible to the human reader. As God is beyond human understanding, there are different ways of describing him. He is said to be both personal and impersonal, he has a relationship with his creation but is beyond all relationships.[7]

Christianity

In the case of the Christian belief in the Trinity, whether the Holy Spirit is impersonal – or personal,[8] is the subject of dispute,[9] with experts in pneumatology debating the matter. Jesus (or God the Son) and God the Father are believed to be two persons or aspects of the same god. Jesus is of the same ousia or substance as God the Father, manifested in three hypostases or persons (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Nontrinitarian Christians dispute that Jesus is a "hypostasis" or person of God.

Islam

Most Islamic sources teach that God is a personal God, he speaks in the Quran in first person and has personal attributes, yet the Quran still maintain the God is unique in nature and substance and has no similarity to anything else.[10] Islam also teaches that God is beyond comprehension and the best way for Muslims to have a relationship of God is to obey his commands.[11]

The Quran asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world: a unique and indivisible being who is independent of the entire creation.[12] The Qur'an clearly opposes conceiving God as resembling "the creation" and it maintains that whatever image a believer has of God is not God, and that he is truly transcendental. According to the Qur'an:[12]

"Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." (Sura 112:1-4, Yusuf Ali)
Thy Lord is self-sufficient, full of Mercy: if it were God's will, God could destroy you, and in your place appoint whom God will as your successors, even as God raised you up from the posterity of other people." (Sura 6:133, Yusuf Ali)

Baha'i

In the Baha'i Faith God is described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty".[13][14] Although transcendent and inaccessible directly, his image is reflected in his creation. The purpose of creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its creator.[15] God communicates his will and purpose to humanity through intermediaries, known as Manifestations of God, who are the prophets and messengers that have founded religions from prehistoric times up to the present day.[16]

Other religions/ viewpoints

Jainism

Jainism explicitly denies existence of non-personal transcendent god and explicitly affirms existence of personal gods. All gods in Jainism are personal.

One of the major point of dispute between Digambara and Shwetambara is the gender of the gods. Digambara gods can only be men and any man of at least eight years of age can become god if he follows the right procedure.

Jain gods are eternal, but they are not beginningless. Also, Jain gods are all omniscient, but not omnipotent. They are sometimes called quasi-gods due to this reason.

Gods are said to be free from the following eighteen imperfections:[17]

  1. janma – (re)birth;
  2. jarā – old-age;
  3. triśā – thirst;
  4. kśudhā – hunger;
  5. vismaya – astonishment;
  6. arati – displeasure;
  7. kheda – regret;
  8. roga – sickness;
  9. śoka – grief;
  10. mada – pride;
  11. moha – delusion;
  12. bhaya – fear;
  13. nidrā – sleep;
  14. cintā – anxiety;
  15. sveda – perspiration;
  16. rāga – attachment;
  17. dveśa – aversion; and
  18. maraņa – death.

The four infinitudes of god are (ananta cātuṣṭaya) are:[17]

  1. ananta jñāna, infinite knowledge
  2. ananta darśana, perfect perception due to the destruction of all darśanāvaraṇīya karmas
  3. ananta sukha, infinite bliss
  4. ananta vīrya – infinite energy

Those who re-establish the Jain faith are called Tirthankaras. They have additional attributes. Tirthankaras revitalize the sangha, the fourfold order consisting of male saints (sādhus), female saints (sādhvis), male householders (śrāvaka) and female householders (Śrāvika).

The first Tirthankara of the current time cycle was Ṛṣabhanātha, and the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara was Mahavira, who lived from 599 BCE to 527 BCE.

Jain texts mention forty-six attributes of arihants or tirthankaras. These attributes comprise four infinitudes (ananta chatushtaya), thirty-four miraculous happenings (atiśaya), and eight splendours (prātihārya).[17]

The eight splendours (prātihārya) are:[18]

  1. aśokavrikśa – the Ashoka tree;
  2. siṃhāsana– bejeweled throne;
  3. chatra – three-tier canopy;
  4. bhāmadal – halo of unmatched luminance;
  5. divya dhvani – divine voice of the Lord without lip movement;
  6. puśpavarśā – shower of fragrant flowers;
  7. camara – waving of sixty-four majestic hand-fans; and
  8. dundubhi – dulcet sound of kettle-drums and other musical instruments.

At the time of nirvana (final release), the arihant sheds off the remaining four aghati karmas:

  1. Nama (physical structure forming) Karma
  2. Gotra (status forming) Karma,
  3. Vedniya (pain and pleasure causing) Karma,
  4. Ayushya (life span determining) Karma.

And float at the top of the universe without losing their individuality and with the same shape and size as the body at the time of release.

Hinduism

Vaishnavism and Shaivism,[19] traditions of Hinduism, subscribe to an ultimate personal nature of God. The Vishnu Sahasranama[20] declares the person of Vishnu as both the Paramatma (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God) while the Rudram describes the same about Shiva. In Krishna-centered theology (Krishna is seen as a form of Vishnu by most, except Gaudiya Vaishnavism) the title Svayam Bhagavan is used exclusively to designate Krishna in his personal feature,[21][22] it refers to Gaudiya Vaishnava, the Nimbarka Sampradaya and followers of Vallabha, while the person of Vishnu and Narayana is sometimes referred to as the ultimate personal god of other Vaishnava traditions.[23][24]

Deism

In general, most deists view God as a personal God. This is illustrated by the 17th-century assertions of Lord Edward Herbert, universally regarded as the Father of English deism, which stated that there is one Supreme God, and he ought to be worshiped.[25] However, deism is a general belief encompassing people with varying specific beliefs, and the notion of God as a personal God cannot be ascribed to all deists.

Classical deism

Classical deists who adhere to Herbert's common notion certainly believe in a personal God, because those notions include the belief that God dispenses rewards and punishments both in this life and after it.[25] This is not something which would be done by an impersonal force. However, a personal relationship with God is not contemplated, since living a virtuous and pious life is seen as the primary means of worshiping God.[25]

Christian Deism

Christian deism is a term applied both to Christians who incorporate deistic principles into their beliefs and to deists who follow the moral teachings of Jesus without believing in his divinity.[26] With regard to those who are essentially deists who follow the moral teachings of Jesus, these are a subset of classical deists. Consequently, they believe in a personal God, but they do not necessarily believe in a personal relationship with God.

Humanistic deism

Humanistic deists accept the core principles of deism but incorporate humanistic beliefs into their faith.[27] Thus, humanistic deists believe in a personal God who created the universe. The key element that separates humanistic deists from other deists is the emphasis on the importance of human development over religious development and on the relationships among human beings over the relationships between humans and God.[27][28] Those who self-identify as humanistic deists may take an approach based upon what is found in classical deism and allow their worship of God to manifest itself primarily (or exclusively) in the manner in which they treat others. Other humanistic deists may prioritize their relationships with other human beings over their relationship with God, yet still maintain a personal relationship with the Supreme Being.

Pandeism

Pandeists believe that in the process of creating the universe, God underwent a metamorphosis from a conscious and sentient being or force to an unconscious and unresponsive entity by becoming the universe.[29] Consequently, pandeists do not believe that a personal God currently exists.

Polydeism

Polydeists reject the notion that one Supreme Being would have created the universe and then left it to its own devices which is a common belief shared by many deists. Rather, they conclude that several gods who are superhuman but not omnipotent each created parts of the universe.[30] Polydeists hold an affirmative belief that the gods who created the universe are completely uninvolved in the world and pose no threat and offer no hope to humanity.[31] Polydeists see living virtuous and pious lives as the primary components of worshiping God, firmly adhering to one of the common notions set forth by Herbert.[25] Thus, polydeists believe that there are several personal Gods. Yet, they do not believe they can have a relationship with any of them.

Scientific deism

Scientific deists believe, based on an analysis utilizing the scientific method, that a personal God created the universe. This analysis finds no evidence of a purpose God may have had for creation of the universe or evidence that God attempted to communicate such purpose to humanity. It therefore concludes that there is no purpose to creation other than that which human beings choose to make for themselves.[32] Thus, scientific deists believe in a personal God, but generally do not believe in relationships between God and human beings, since there is no proof of a purpose for creation.

Spiritual deism

Spiritual deism is a belief in the core principles of deism with an emphasis on spirituality including the connections between humans and each other, nature and God. Within spiritual deism, there is an absolute belief in a personal God as the creator of the universe along with the ability to build a spiritual relationship with God.[33] While Spiritual deism is nondogmatic, its followers generally believe that there can be no progress for mankind without a belief in a personal God.[34]

Arguments

An impersonal god does not choose between different possibilities and cannot enforce any preference on its creations. An argument for why the God is personal comes from the notion that science cannot explain the base of its rules.[35] According to that, we cannot find any reason for why the laws and constants of the science are what they are.[36]

To make it more clear, we can consider a painting image. Without regarding a person who decides and chooses to paint it, there is no justification for the colors and lines on the paper. "We may assume that a painting is a result of sticking particles of dye in different colors on paper. By taking the brush into account, it will become more clear why many particles of the same color are placed close to each other resulting in regions with green, regions with yellow and so on. But without recognizing a person as the creator of the painting who uses the brush to paint various regions of the paper in specific colors, it is impossible to explain why some parts are colored in green, some parts in yellow and some parts in other colors. Any effort to justify the painting will not give something more than an incomplete description of the process that the dye ingredients have displaced from their package to the paper surface."[36]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's concepts of God". Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  2. ^ Williams, W. Wesley, "A study of anthropomorphic theophany and Visio Dei in the Hebrew Bible, the Qur'an and early Sunni Islam", University of Michigan, March 2009
  3. ^ "The man who realizes God as a friend is never lonely in the world, neither in this world nor in the hereafter. There is always a friend, a friend in the crowd, a friend in the solitude; or while he is asleep, unconscious of this outer world, and when he is awake and conscious of it. In both cases the friend is there in his thought, in his imagination, in his heart, in his soul." Inayat Khan, quoted from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
  4. ^ "Chapter 1: Religious Beliefs and Practices". U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Beliefs and Practices. Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 1 June 2008. II. Religious Beliefs: God.
  5. ^ Smith, Tom W. (18 April 2012). "Beliefs about God across Time and Countries" (PDF). NORC at the University of Chicago. Table 3: Believing in a Personal God (2008).
  6. ^ "Most Christians Believe in a Personal God, Others Tend to See God as Impersonal Force". U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious. Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 29 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Judaism 101: The Nature of G-d". Jewfaq.org. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  8. ^ Fairchild, Mary. "Who Is the Holy Spirit? Third Person of the Trinity". Christianity.about.com. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Is the Holy Spirit a Person or an Impersonal Force?". Spotlightministries.org.uk. 8 December 1973. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  10. ^ Quran,112 Surat al ikhlas
  11. ^ Norcliffe (1999), p.32-33
  12. ^ a b Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  13. ^ Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
  14. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1944). God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 139. ISBN 0-87743-020-9.
  15. ^ Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
  16. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1991). The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 113–114. ISBN 0-87743-231-7.
  17. ^ a b c Jain 2014, p. 3.
  18. ^ Jain 2013, p. 181.
  19. ^ Satguru Sivaya, Subramuniyaswami. "Dancing with Shiva". Himalayan Academy. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  20. ^ "Sri Vishnu Sahasaranama - Transliteration and Translation of Chanting". Swami-krishnananda.org. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-40548-3.
  22. ^ Gupta, Ravi M. (2004). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta: Acintyabhedabheda in Jiva Gosvami's Catursutri tika. University Of Oxford.
  23. ^ Delmonico, N. (2004). "The History Of Indic Monotheism And Modern Chaitanya Vaishnavism". The Hare Krishna Movement: the Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12256-6. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
  24. ^ Elkman, S.M.; Gosvami, J. (1986). Jiva Gosvamin's Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Movement. Motilal Banarsidass Pub.
  25. ^ a b c d González, Justo L. (1985). The Reformation to the Present Day. The Story of Christianity. 2. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-06-063316-5. LCCN 83049187.
  26. ^ "Christian Deism". Enlightenment Deism. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  27. ^ a b Jone, Brian (9 October 2006). "Just Ask! Brian "Humanistic" Jones about Deism". ReligiousFreaks.com. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  28. ^ Coon, Carl (16 July 2000). "Humanism vs. Atheism". Progressive Humanism. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  29. ^ Große, Gottfried; Plinius Secundus, Gaius (1787). Naturgeschichte: Mit Erläuternden Anmerkungen (in German). p. 165. ISBN 978-1175254436. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  30. ^ Broad, C. D. (1953). Religion, Philosophy and Psychical Research: Selected Essays. New York, New York: Harcourt, Brace. pp. 159–174. ASIN B0000CIFVR. LCCN 53005653.
  31. ^ Bowman, Jr., Robert M. (1997). "Apologetics from Genesis to Revelation" (Essay).
  32. ^ deVerum, Alumno (12 March 2012). "Scientific Deism Explained". Institute of Noetic Sciences. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  33. ^ Clendenen, Chuck. "Deism in Practice". Spiritual But Not Religious. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  34. ^ "Spiritual-Deism". Yahoo! Groups. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  35. ^ Seddiq, M. "Science fails to define base of its rules | God Existence Arguments". On The Signs. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  36. ^ a b Seddiq, M. "Why is God not impersonal?". On The Signs. Retrieved 20 September 2018.

References

External links

Christianity

Atheism in Hinduism

Atheism (Sanskrit: निरीश्वरवाद, nir-īśvara-vāda, lit. "statement of no Lord", "doctrine of godlessness") or disbelief in God or gods has been a historically propounded viewpoint in many of the orthodox and heterodox streams of Hindu philosophies. In Indian philosophy, three schools of thought are commonly referred to as nastika for rejecting the doctrine of Vedas: Jainism, Buddhism and Cārvāka.Hinduism is a religion, but also a philosophy. Among the various schools of Hindu philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga and Mimamsa while not rejecting either the Vedas or the Brahman, typically reject a personal God, creator God, or a God with attributes. While Samkhya and Yoga rejected the idea of an eternal, self-caused, creator God, Mimamsa argued that the Vedas could not have been authored by a deity.

Some schools of thought view the path of atheism as a valid one but difficult to follow in matters of spirituality.

Bhakti

Bhakti (Sanskrit: भक्ति) literally means "attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity". In Hinduism, it refers to devotion to, and love for, a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. In ancient texts such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the term simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor, while in the Bhagavad Gita, it connotes one of the possible paths of spirituality and towards moksha, as in bhakti marga.Bhakti in Indian religions is "emotional devotionalism", particularly to a personal god or to spiritual ideas. The term also refers to a movement, pioneered by Alvars and Nayanars, that developed around the gods Vishnu (Vaishnavism), Brahma (Brahmanism), Shiva (Shaivism) and Devi (Shaktism) in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. It grew rapidly in India after the 12th century in the various Hindu traditions, possibly in response to the arrival of Islam in India.Bhakti ideas have inspired many popular texts and saint-poets in India. The Bhagavata Purana, for example, is a Krishna-related text associated with the Bhakti movement in Hinduism. Bhakti is also found in other religions practiced in India, and it has influenced interactions between Christianity and Hinduism in the modern era. Nirguni bhakti (devotion to the divine without attributes) is found in Sikhism, as well as Hinduism. Outside India, emotional devotion is found in some Southeast Asian and East Asian Buddhist traditions, and it is sometimes referred to as Bhatti.

Bhakti yoga

Bhakti yoga, also called Bhakti marga (literally the path of Bhakti), is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards a personal god. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. The tradition has ancient roots. Bhakti is mentioned in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor. Bhakti yoga as one of three spiritual paths for salvation is discussed in depth by the Bhagavad Gita.The personal god varies with the devotee. It may include a god or goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Parvati, Durga among others.

The Bhakti marga involving these deities grew with the Bhakti Movement, starting about the mid-1st millennium CE, from Tamil Nadu in South India. The movement was led by the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars. Their ideas and practices inspired bhakti poetry and devotion throughout India over the 12th-18th century CE. Bhakti marga is a part of the religious practice in Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.

God in Abrahamic religions

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called Abrahamic religions because they all accept the tradition of the God (known as Yahweh in Hebrew and Allah in Arabic) that revealed himself to the prophet Abraham. The theological traditions of all Abrahamic religions are thus to some extent influenced by the depiction of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, and the historical development of monotheism in the history of Judaism.

The Abrahamic God in this sense is the conception of God that remains a common attribute of all three traditions. God is conceived of as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and as the creator of the universe. God is further held to have the properties of holiness, justice, omni-benevolence and omnipresence. Proponents of Abrahamic faiths believe that God is also transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time and therefore not subject to anything within his creation, but at the same time a personal God, involved, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures.

God in Judaism

In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which later came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one, indivisible, and incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism generally emphasize that God is personal yet also transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal.The names of God used most often in the Hebrew Bible are the Tetragrammaton (YHWH Hebrew: יהוה) and Elohim. Other names of God in traditional Judaism include El Shaddai and Shekhinah.

God in the Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í view of God is essentially monotheistic. God is the imperishable, uncreated being who is the source of all existence. He is described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty". Though transcendent and inaccessible directly, his image is reflected in his creation. The purpose of creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its creator. God communicates his will and purpose to humanity through intermediaries, known as Manifestations of God, who are the prophets and messengers that have founded religions from prehistoric times up to the present day.

Ishvara

Ishvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर, IAST: Īśvara) is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.In Shaivism and for almost all Hindus, Ishvara is synonymous with "Shiva", sometimes as Maheshvara or Parameshvara meaning the "Supreme lord", or as an Ishta-deva (personal god). For a few Vaishnavists, it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual's preference from Hinduism's polytheistic canon of deities. In modern sectarian movements such as Arya Samaj and Brahmoism, Ishvara takes the form of a monotheistic God. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any "personal deity" or "spiritual inspiration". In Advaita Vedanta school, Ishvara is a monistic Universal Absolute that connects and is the Oneness in everyone and everything.

Jnana yoga

Jñāna yoga, also known as Jnanamarga, is one of the several spiritual paths in Hinduism that emphasizes the "path of knowledge", also known as the "path of self-realization". It is one of the three classical paths (margas) for moksha (salvation, liberation). The other two are karma yoga (path of action, karmamarga) and bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to a personal god, bhaktimarga). Later, new movements within Hinduism added raja yoga as a fourth spiritual path, but it is not universally accepted as distinct from the other three.The jnana yoga is a spiritual practice that pursues knowledge with questions such as "who am I, what am I" among others. The practitioner studies usually with the aid of a counsellor (guru), meditates, reflects, and reaches liberating insights on the nature of his own Self (Atman, soul) and its relationship to the metaphysical concept called Brahman in Hinduism. The jnanamarga ideas are discussed in ancient and medieval era Hindu scriptures and texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

Karma yoga

Karma yoga, also called Karma marga, is one of the four spiritual paths in Hinduism, one based on the "yoga of action". To a karma yogi, right work done well is a form of prayer. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Raja yoga, Jnana yoga (path of knowledge) and Bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to a personal god). The three paths are not mutually exclusive in Hinduism, but the relative emphasis between Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga varies by the individual.Of the paths to spiritual liberation in Hinduism, karma yoga is the path of unselfish action. It teaches that a spiritual seeker should act according to dharma, without being attached to the fruits or personal consequences. Karma Yoga, states the Bhagavad Gita, purifies the mind. It leads one to consider dharma of work, and the work according to one's dharma, doing god's work and in that sense becoming and being "like unto god Krishna" in every moment of one's life.

Kumārila Bhaṭṭa

Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (fl. roughly 700) was a Hindu or brahminical philosopher and Mīmāṃsā scholar from medieval India. He is famous for many of his various theses on Mimamsa, such as Mimamsaslokavarttika. Bhaṭṭa was a staunch believer in the supreme validity of Vedic injunction, a great champion of Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā and a confirmed ritualist. The Varttika is mainly written as a subcommentary of Sabara's commentary on Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutras. His philosophy is classified by some scholars as existential realism.Scholars differ as regards Kumārila Bhaṭṭa's views on a personal God. For example, Manikka Vachakar believed that Bhaṭṭa promoted a personal God (saguna brahman), which conflicts with the Mīmāṃsā school. In his Varttika, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa goes to great lengths to argue against the theory of a creator God and held that the actions enjoined in the Veda had definite results without an external interference.

Kumārila is also credited with the logical formulation of the Mimamsic belief that the Vedas are unauthored (apauruṣeyā). In particular, his defence against medieval Buddhist positions on Vedic rituals is noteworthy. Some believe that this contributed to the decline of Buddhism in India, because his lifetime coincides with the period in which Buddhism began to decline. Indeed, his dialectical success against Buddhists is confirmed by Buddhist historian Taranatha, who reports that Kumārila defeated disciples of Buddhapalkita, Bhavya, Dharmadasa, Dignaga and others. His work strongly influenced other schools of Indian philosophy, with the exception that while Mimamsa considers the Upanishads to be subservient to the Vedas, the Vedanta school does not think so.

Panchayatana puja

Panchayatana puja (IAST Pañcāyatana pūjā) is a system of worship ('puja') in the Smartism sampradaya, which is one of 4 major sampradaya of Hinduism. and also the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. It consists of the worship of five deities set in a quincunx pattern, the five deities being Shiva, Vishnu, Devi or Parvati, Surya and an Ishta Devata such as Kartikeya or Ganesha or any personal god of devotee's preference. Sometimes the Ishta Devata is the sixth deity in the mandala.Panchayatana puja has been attributed to Adi Shankara, the 8th century CE Hindu philosopher. It is a practice that became popular in medieval India. However, archaeological evidence suggests that this practice long predates the birth of Adi Shankara. Many Panchayatana mandalas and temples have been uncovered that are from the Gupta Empire period, and one Panchayatana set from the village of Nand (about 24 kilometers from Ajmer) has been dated to belong to the Kushan Empire era (pre-300 CE). The Kushan period set includes Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Brahma and one deity whose identity is unclear. According to James Harle, major Hindu temples from 1st millennium CE embed the pancayatana architecture very commonly, from Odisha to Karnataka to Kashmir; and the temples containing fusion deities such as Harihara (half Shiva, half Vishnu) are set in Panchayatana worship style.

Philosophically, the Smarta tradition emphasizes that all idols (murti) are icons of saguna Brahman, a means to realizing the abstract Ultimate Reality called nirguna Brahman. The five or six icons are seen by Smartas as multiple representations of the one Saguna Brahman (i.e., a personal God with form), rather than as distinct beings. The ultimate goal in this practice is to transition past the use of icons, then follow a philosophical and meditative path to understanding the oneness of Atman (soul, self) and Brahman – as "That art Thou".Depending on the tradition followed by Smarta households, one of these deities is kept in the center and the other four corners of a square surrounding it. Either an iconic idol(s) or aniconic representation(s) or a combination for each deity is used. The five may be represented as simply as five kinds of stones called a Pancayatana puja set, or just five marks drawn on the floor. This arrangement is also represented in Smarta Pancayatana temples found in India, with one central shrine, and four smaller shrines at the corners of a square.Panchayatana puja has predominantly been a tradition within Hinduism. However, the Udasis – a tradition that reveres the Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhism - also worship the five panchayatana deities.

Ramanuja

Ramanuja (traditionally, 1017–1137 CE; IAST: Rāmānujā; [ɽaːmaːnʊdʑɐ] ) was an Indian theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.Ramanuja's guru was Yādava Prakāśa, a scholar who was a part of the more ancient Advaita Vedānta monastic tradition. Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Ramanuja disagreed with his guru and the non-dualistic Advaita Vedānta, and instead followed the footsteps of Indian Alvārs tradition, the scholars Nāthamuni and Yamunāchārya. Ramanuja is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta, and his disciples were likely authors of texts such as the Shatyayaniya Upanishad. Ramanuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.His Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) philosophy has competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya, and Advaita (monism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja's case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.

Religious and philosophical views of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein's religious views have been widely studied and often misunderstood. Einstein stated that he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza. He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naïve. He clarified however that, "I am not an atheist", preferring to call himself an agnostic, or a "religious nonbeliever." Einstein also stated he did not believe in life after death, adding "one life is enough for me." He was closely involved in his lifetime with several humanist groups.

Secular theology

The field of secular theology, a subfield of liberal theology advocated by Anglican bishop John A. T. Robinson somewhat paradoxically combines secularism and theology. Recognized in the 1960s, it was influenced both by neo-orthodoxy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harvey Cox, and the existentialism of Søren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich. Secular theology digested modern movements like the Death of God Theology propagated by Thomas J. J. Altizer or the philosophical existentialism of Paul Tillich and eased the introduction of such ideas into the theological mainstream and made constructive evaluations, as well as contributions, to them.John Shelby Spong advocates a nuanced approach to scripture, as opposed to Biblical literalism, informed by scholarship and compassion which he argues can be consistent with both Christian tradition and a contemporary understanding of the universe. Secular theology holds that theism has lost credibility as a valid conception of God's nature. It rejects the concept of a personal God and embraces the status of Jesus Christ, Christology and Christian eschatology as Christian mythology without basis in historical events.The movement chiefly came about as a response to general dissatisfaction with the Christian establishment's tendency to lapse into "provincialism" when presented with the "unusual" theological ideas common during the 1960s. The movement also suggested the legitimacy of seeking the holy outside the church itself. Thereby it suggests that the church did not have exclusive rights to divine inspiration. In a sense, this incorporated a strong sense of continuous revelation in which truth of the religious sort was sought out in poetry, music, art, or even the pub and in the street.Certain other religions besides Christianity have developed secular theologies and applied these to core concepts of their own traditions. Notable among such movements has been the Reconstructionist Judaism of Mordecai Kaplan, which understands God and the universe in a manner concordant with Deweyan naturalism.In Hinduism, the Advaita school of theology is generally regarded as non-theistic as it accepts all interpretations of God or Ishvara.

Shvetashvatara Upanishad

The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Sanskrit:श्वेताश्वतरोपनिशद or श्वेताश्वतर उपनिषद्, IAST: Śvetāśvataropaniṣad or Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text embedded in the Yajurveda. It is listed as number 14 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. The Upanishad contains 113 mantras or verses in six chapters.The Upanishad is one of the 33 Upanishads from Taittiriyas, and associated with the Shvetashvatara tradition within Karakas sakha of the Yajurveda. It is a part of the "black" Yajurveda, with the term "black" implying "the un-arranged, motley collection" of content in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" (well arranged) Yajurveda where Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Isha Upanishad are embedded.The chronology of Maitrayaniya Upanishad is contested, but generally accepted to be a late period Upanishadic composition. The text includes a closing credit to sage Shvetashvatara, considered the author of the Upanishad. However, scholars believe that while sections of the text shows an individual stamp by its style, verses and other sections were interpolated and expanded over time; the Upanishad as it exists now is the work of more than one author.The Shvetashvatara Upanishad opens with metaphysical questions about the primal cause of all existence, its origin, its end, and what role, if any, time, nature, necessity, chance, and the spirit had as the primal cause. It then develops its answer, concluding that "the Universal Soul exists in every individual, it expresses itself in every creature, everything in the world is a projection of it, and that there is Oneness, a unity of souls in one and only Self". The text is notable for its discussion of the concept of personal god – Ishvara, and suggesting it to be a path to one's own Highest Self. The text is also notable for its multiple mentions of both Rudra and Shiva, along with other Vedic deities, and of crystallization of Shiva as a central theme.The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a Principal Upanishad of Hinduism, commented by many of its ancient and medieval scholars. It is a foundational text of the philosophy of Shaivism, as well as the Yoga and Vedanta schools of Hinduism. Some 19th century scholars initially suggested that Shvetashvatara Upanishad is sectarian or possibly influenced by Christianity, hypotheses that were disputed, later discarded by scholars.

Theism

Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of the Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism (also referred to as classical theism) – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.Atheism is commonly understood as rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism, i.e. the rejection of belief in God or gods. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism.

Theological noncognitivism

Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.

Ur-Ningirsu

Ur-Ningirsu (Sumerian: 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄑𒍣𒁕, DNin-ḡiš-zi-da) also Ur-Ningirsu II, was a ruler (ensi) of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled c. 2110 BC. He was the son of the previous ruler of Lagash named Gudea.A statue of Ur-Ningirsu is shared by The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, and the Musée du Louvre, as they own separately the head and the body of the statue, respectively. The statue has an inscription in the back, which reads:

For Ningišzida, his (personal) god, Ur-Ningirsu, ruler of Lagash, son of Gudea, ruler of Lagash, who built Ningirsu’s Eninnu, fashioned his (own) statue. I am the one beloved of his (personal) god; let my life be long - (this is how) he named that statue for his (Ningirsu’s) sake, and he brought it to him into his House

Will of God

The will of God, divine will, or God's plan is the concept of a God having a plan for humanity. Ascribing a volition or a plan to a God generally implies a personal God (God regarded as a person with mind, emotions, will).

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