Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection Day

So after nearly 2 years I am returning to blogging and as you can guess I probably have a lot to say and I'll get to it in due time. I'm sure all seven of you who are following me are ecstatic right now and looking forward to hearing my 2 pesos about things. Hopefully you won't become any dumber after reading my thoughts. I want to write about two unrelated things that crossed my mind today, one is the early history of Christianity and other is death of Sai Baba.

So today is a day of joy for some and day of sadness for others. It is Easter Sunday or also known as Resurrection Day, the day that Jesus Christ rose from the grave according to the Christian tradition. This is the most important day to all Christians, it is the crux of their faith and their theology. Christians are only Christians because they believe and accept that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, three days after he was crucified and died. It is the fundamental reason why they believe that Jesus is God. In the early first few centuries before 325 CE, there was a rather diverse sects of Christianity including ones that did not believe that the actual physical resurrection occurred such as Valentinus of the 2nd century CE. There were numerous branches and visions of Christ and Christianity in the first three centuries of the Common Era. The Nag Hammadi library or also known as the Gnostic Gospels give us a rather varied view of that time period. We know that there was not a singular consensus amongst Christians about the foundational elements of Christianity which today we accept as canon.

This stratification occurred in 325 CE in what is known as the First Council of Nicaea. It is during this council that the dates of Easter were set and decided upon, through disassociating it from the Jewish calender and passover. It was also in this council that the divinity of Jesus Christ was firmly established along with the beginning of fortification of the doctrines starting with the Creed of Nicaea which disavowed and branded as heresy the Arian school of Christianity which held that God the Father created God the Son aka Jesus aka Logos. Basically what the Council started was the beginning of filtering out of any other forms of Christianity. Constantine the Great, the Emperor, used the Council as a method to try and unify the religious power of both Christianity and Paganism under the Roman banner. In particular he wanted to see a unified church but didn't care for the doctrinal issues, which in his mind he wanted all of various groups of Christianity to live in harmony and peace under one unified church. Constantine eventually regretted giving into the views of the First Council of Nicaea because once they decided the doctrinal issues in that council they begin to oppress and persecute any views that opposed theirs especially the Arian views.

In 380 CE, under the Edict of Thessalonica, the Roman state and the Christianity of the Nicaean Council became the only religion allowed. It was the moment when the state and Christianity merged into one entity, this for all purposes is the founding and birth of the Catholic Church. Christianity as it became more and more streamlined became more intolerant towards views that disagreed with its canonized views. It is from this wellspring that nearly all of modern Christianity arises from, with the ideology that their vision of the truth is the only one and all other ideas cannot exist that stand in opposition to their views.

The happiness of the risen Christ is match in the sadness of the dead Sai Baba. Sai Baba, a self-proclaimed Avatara, passed away on April 24, 2011 the same day that Resurrection Day occurred. While this is nothing more than a random coincidence, it does strike a point that even gods die. I have no personal love for Sai Baba, while he may have done many good things in his life and social work, he also is a charlatan in my book. He claimed to be God and in order to support his contention he engaged in numerous cheap parlor tricks like conjuring up vibuthi or sacred ash from his hands or regurgitating up shiva lingams (symbols of shiva, just like the ones you can see in Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom). Its one thing to claim to be a guru or spiritual preceptor but entirely another thing to claim godhood. Its one thing if he really believed he was God but another thing to claim that and still do cheap magic tricks. The latter shows that he knew he was a con-man because if he really did believe in his divinity why would he engaged in magic tricks? It doesn't detracted from whatever good social work he did but it does take away from the type of person he was. He refused to perform his "miracles" under experimental conditions, which usually is an indication that something is amiss. Great Yogis and even tibetan monks will/have allowed themselves to be observed under experimental conditions performing their acts. Swami Rama, who himself was a controversial figure, allowed himself to be tested and the results were rather astounding with him able to control physical acts that are normally understood to be involuntary/automatic like entering different levels of consciousness through Yoga Nidra or the sleep of the yogis, which include slowing heart rate and changing the alpha waves of the brain.

Let me just leave you with this, while I do not have any love or really respect for Sai Baba despite the fact that many people I know worship him, I will say that at least he didn't impose a particular philosophy or view point on people. He did some good work in India but his claims at godhood in conjunction with magic tricks billed as miracles really put him in bad light. India is a land of god-men and I have no doubt another con-man will jump up to fill that void. I guess if their actions and foundations help people this is a fraud that can be marginally accepted. Finally, I think Christianity lost a lot of spiritualism first with the death of Jesus himself (assuming that he existed) and two with the death of plurality of early christian thought. The spiritualism in most modern christianity isn't spiritualism it is imposition of morality and social structure. The mysticism and the attempt at gnosis of the Gnostics and other early christians would have been a wonderful addition to modern Christianity and maybe it would have allowed it to become a faith that more closely aligned with the spiritual ideas that Christ put forth. Next time, I want to discuss the Tea Party movement. Thanks for stopping by.