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Reagan’s 1987 UN speech on ‘alien threat’ resonates now

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Steve Hammons

(This article was featured 7/26/15 in “Knapp’s News” on the Coast to Coast AM radio show website. “Coast” has the largest late-night radio audience in the U.S. Award-winning investigative journalist George Knapp of KLAS-TV News in Las Vegas is a popular “C2C” host.)

On Sept. 21, 1987, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave an address to the United Nations General Assembly. In an often-quoted section of his speech, Reagan asked rhetorical questions and commented about the nations and cultures of the world uniting in common efforts to live in peace and avoid wars and bloodshed.

“Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity,” Reagan said.

“Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond,” Reagan proposed.

“I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”

In these statements, Reagan seems to be noting that in addition to the diverse cultures and societies around the world, we should also keep in mind the larger human culture. And despite conflicts and wars throughout human history to the present day, this larger human culture has many unifying elements.

UNIFIED HUMANITY

Among these are the major accomplishments of humanity, including the survival of our human species on this planet over hundreds of thousands of years. The development of agriculture, language, education, art, music and technology are common to most human cultures.

Reagan urged us to see the big picture – “how much unites all the members of humanity.” He warned us to take the long view instead of “our obsession with antagonisms of the moment.”

Of course, the nations of the world already engage in significant cooperation on many levels. These include efforts to improve trade and economic prosperity, share cultural resources and viewpoints, protect global public heath, and respond to disasters and humanitarian challenges.

Yet, there is room for significant improvement in how nations and cultures interact, and how individual humans treat one another.

These conflicts, of course, are not just between countries and cultures. Within the many nations and cultures on Earth, we often see internal conflict and strife when people within a society are divided and angry about real or perceived injustice, oppression, ethnic and religious differences or some other cause.

In his address, Reagan theorized that these many sources of discord and conflict around the world “would [quickly] vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” And, he put forth the idea that, “Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond.”

Was Reagan correct? Would certain adverse developments help bring the human race together? Would the human race unify in the face of a devastating impending meteor strike, severe global disease pandemic, worldwide natural disaster or other threat?

THREAT OR BREAKTHROUGH

Reagan appeared to hold an optimistic view of humanity. He seemed to indicate that he felt the human race would pull together in greater unity in the face of a larger danger. As a result, a greater awareness about what we have in common as humans would help us overcome the perpetual wars, death and destruction that have been a large part of the experience of the human race on Earth.

Implicit in his speech, the former president told us that we have the potential to transcend these destructive behaviors and seize opportunities to focus on unifying instincts, developments and events.

Would it really require “an alien threat from outside this world” for the people of Earth to make significant progress toward peace and prosperity instead of perpetual conflict?

Or, might we stumble on this truth without an impending disaster? Can we reach a tipping point when it becomes evident and obvious that our “universal aspirations” are more important and fundamental than war and destructive competition?

Instead of “an alien threat,” what if a positive kind of development emerged? Such a development could include scientific discovery of a remarkable nature or a change in global human psychology and consciousness.

Instead of Reagan’s concept of an “outside, universal threat,” what might happen if there was an inside, universal breakthrough that takes the human race on to the next levels of our development?

About the Author

Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT’S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the “Joint Reconnaissance Study Group” and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown.


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Hindus disheartened at U-turn of Conwy Council in Wales on feeding seagulls

English: River Conwy estuary, North Wales

River Conwy estuary, North Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus are disheartened at the reported U-turn of Conwy County Borough Council in North Wales (United Kingdom) on the issue of fining people for feeding seagulls.

Earlier, the Conwy Council reportedly shelved the plan to fine people for feeding seagulls, and now the Council is reportedly considering instituting a law by year end banning feeding of the birds.

Rajan Zed, who earlier commended the Council for reported shelving of plan to fine people for feeding seagulls respecting the religious sentiments of some communities, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that introducing ban on feeding birds would be blatantly disregarding the sentiments of some communities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked: Was the universal principle of religious freedom not applicable in the Conwy County?

Rajan Zed urged the Conwy Council to show some maturity and respect to some communities who thought feeding birds was an act of kindness and a religious duty, and not draft the proposed law punishing those who fed the birds.

Zed pointed out that feeding birds was intrinsic to Hinduism and many started their day by feeding them.

Rajan Zed further said that birds played an important role in Hinduism and several Hindu deities had birds as their vahana (mount, vehicle): peacock is the vahana of Karttikeya, owl of Lakshmi, swan of Brahma, Garuda of Vishnu, etc. Jatayu was an ally of Rama who attempted to foil the abduction of Sita. Ancient Shvetashvatara Upanishad identified Self with bird: He is the blue bird, he is the green bird.

Zed also requested other counties, cities and towns in Wales to refrain from legislating penalties for feeding birds; besides urging Swansea Council and other seaside resorts to reconsider their fines for feeding the birds.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religions of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Liz Roberts is Conwy County Borough Council’s Chair while Iwan Davies is County’s Chief Executive.


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Rabbis Who Move Us: 13 Woman and 20 Men

Memorial tablet for Regina Jonas, first woman ...

Memorial tablet for Regina Jonas, first woman rabbi ever. Berlin, Krausnickstr. No. 6. Detail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Forward newspaper has published a list of 33 rabbis nominated by lay people, who have had a great influence in their Jewish life. The authors state: Thanks to hundreds of nominations by our readers, we’ve identified 33 of the most inspiring men and women from North America, who are defining and redefining what it means to be a rabbi in the 21st century. To read more about the individual rabbis go to: http://forward.com/specials/americas-most-inspiring-rabbis-2015/#ixzz3gMYDVLd7

In reading these stories, I am struck by the way the modern rabbinate continues to successfully dedicate itself to the traditional qualities of religious and moral leadership. These stories proclaim the power of personal connection through; Jewish study, social action or simple acts of kindness to create more Jewish Jews.

To me as a rabbi who was ordained in 1964, several years before the Hebrew Union Collage ordained the first female rabbi, it was satisfying to see that female rabbi make up 40% of the 33 rabbis; and thus make up a more than half of the non-Orthodox rabbis on the list.

Just think how much better off the Jewish People would be if there were an equal percentage of female rabbis among the various Orthodox groups in North America.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is rabbimaller.com

 


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Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela in Ancient and Recent Times
Kumbh Mela 2015 Nasik

The Kumbh Mela of 2015 is just around the corner. It starts from July 14 at Trimbakeshwar in the Nasik district of Maharashtra. 80 million people are expected to visit Nasik this year as per government estimates.

There will be hordes of people coming to Nasik. Such is the devotion of the masses that they arrive in overcrowded buses and trains which sometimes carry five times more people than their allotted capacity. Then there are those who come by ox-drawn carts, horse backs and camels from far off places. Some ardent devotees come by foot with their bed rolls and puja items stacked on their heads. The Kumbh Mela instills such a deep feeling of reverence and adulation that people forget about their comfort and convenience just to take a dip in the sacred waters and achieve moksha or liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

Kumbh mela is celebrated once every 3 years alternately at four different locations: Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik and Haridwar. Due to the colossal gathering of people and its management, Kumbh Melas have become renowned as the “largest peaceful gathering for faith”.

Importance of Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is an important aspect in the spirituality of India and its significance should be understood. The devotees believe that taking a bath sacred river liberates them from their past sins or karma and escapes the cycle of birth and defeat. Those looking forward to taking a dip in the sacred Godavari River in Nasik in 2015 must understand that by merely taking a dip in the waters does not guarantee absolution. After the shahi snaan (or bathing in the sacred river) one must amend his or her lifestyle choices and lead a path of purity to avoid any karmic reaction. To bathe in the holy river at an auspicious time and thereby achieve moksha, the pilgrims or the devotees travel from far off places enduring physical discomforts (such as harsh climate or sleeping in cramped open spaces etc.).

Although the international interest in Kumbh Mela has risen in recent years, this spectacle of faith had intrigued foreign travelers since the 7th century. Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang is accounted as the first person to document the event during the Magha month of the Hindu calendar (January-February). He witnessed the gathering of almost half a million people on the banks of the river Ganga in Allahabad. The celebration continued for 75 days and the participants includes sages, scholars and the King as well as his ministers.

Later on the renowned saint Shankara popularized the concept of Kumbh mela amongst the masses and soon the attendance of the common people saw a huge rise. Shankara preached about the significance of associating oneself with learned people or sages during the event and this practice is still followed today when people folk around rishis and munis to hear them speak about Vedas and puranas. Other events during this event include discussions on religious doctrines, devotional singing and in particular charity and feeding holy men and women and the needy.

About the Author

Suhita – Rajnish Nair is a content writer working with Rudra Centre, a reputed firm that specializes in spiritual products such as Rudraksha beads…


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Dealing With Denial

I am spotless!

Image by Vanny via Flickr

By: Domenic Marbaniang

One issue that leaders face continually is the issue of denial. “Denial” may be defined as the act of asserting that something alleged is not true. Such assertion may either be verbal or behavioral, or both.  Psychiatrists refer to it as a kind of defense mechanism in which a person denies the reality of certain facts in order to avoid the discomfort associated with them. The denial may be of the reality of a fact or of the seriousness of it, or of both. In many cases, it also appears as a mechanism to avoid responsibility in a given situation. Though, lying is a direct form of denial, there are still others like false justification, caricaturizing, and minimizing that also fall into the category of denial. In this article, we’ll look at denial with regard to leadership situations.

Few examples of denial are as follows:

  • Adam denied his responsibility in the crime at Eden. He projected the blame on Eve, instead, to somehow escape divine censure.
  • Pharaoh denied the greatness of Jehovah despite being struck by the plagues. His political obsession with keeping Israelites as slaves made him minimize the seriousness of God’s command.
  • Saul refused to recognize the choice of David by God for the throne. He imagined that, somehow, what had been prophesied against him wouldn’t happen and that he would retain the throne.
  • The worshippers of Baal kept on hurting themselves in hope that their god would respond.
  • Gehazi denied being elsewhere when he had really gone after Naaman. His memory somehow denied the prophetic ability of Elisha as he succumbed to greed.
  • The Israelites kept doing things against the Law, despite the warnings of the prophets, saying “the Temple is here, the Temple is here”. They were denying God’s definition of holiness and used the Temple as a shield behind which they could do their works of darkness.
  • The people in the days of Haggai refused to build the Temple since they didn’t consider it to be very important.
  • The Pharisees and the Sadducees rejected the claims of Christ despite Scriptural and providential (miraculous) proofs.
  • Peter denied any relationship with Christ in face of persecution.
  • Felix refused to listen to Paul anymore when he began to speak about things pertaining to God’s Kingdom.

Often times, the act of denial leads to a kind of self-deception in which memory itself begins to get conformed to the false tendencies of the will. In such cases, a return is almost impossible since the imagination has already overshadowed reasonability. While denial may be looked at as a defense mechanism of the organism; yet, one must be careful to not deny the role of will in deciding for or against any ideas arising from a situation. One must remember that falsehood is never beneficial at the end.

Voluntary and Involuntary Denial

Voluntary denial refers to that denial which is willful and persistent. It persists in falsehood despite evidences contrary to it. Involuntary denial refers to that in which the decision of the will is absent or delayed. It is mechanical in nature and often is an initial response through a defense mechanism of the organism that seeks to avoid the unpleasant. For instance, when someone hears of the death of a beloved one, the initial response might be disbelief or denial. Such initial response of the organism prevents against hasty shock and might be preparative and directive in the ascertaining of truth.  Such denial doesn’t fall under the purview of morality since the will has not yet been brought into rational accountability in it.

Hamartiological Analysis

Spiritual Roots

In John 8: 44, Jesus declares the Pharisees to be the offspring of the devil. He says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (RSV).

Obviously, the devil was not their genetic father but a father in the sense of their being part of the rebellion of falsehood began by him. Falsehood and lying are natural to the devil since, by rejection of the truth of God, he has turned his back on all truth-values. The demonic kingdom operates basically on falsehood and influences the kingdoms of the world to do so. Worldly politics, religions, and businesses use falsehood as an instrument to gain and retain power over human minds. Jesus categorizes all such leadership practices as demonic in origin. Tendencies towards falsehood are sharp in any intellect that refuses the rule of the Spirit of God.

The Pharisees were incapable of acknowledging Jesus as the Christ of God because their inclinations were in favor of the devil’s desires – “Your will is to do your father’s desires,” He said.  All rejection of God-given leadership is an instance of demonic rebellion (1Jn. 3:12; Jude 1:11; 1Sam. 19:9ff).  Even within Christian leadership, Paul asks Timothy to not include a novice as a candidate for leadership; for it is possible that he become lifted up in pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1Tim. 3:6). Similarly, Christians who haven’t matured and are still carnal can’t properly accept or acknowledge the value of the other in the family of God since they are ruled by worldly standards of acceptance and egotistic desires for self-aggrandizement (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1ff) after the manner of the devil (Isa. 14:12-14).

Spirits of Deception

The tendency to reject demonic influence in hamartiological analysis (or analysis of sinful instances) is a mark left by secular theologies. Of course, there is the danger of extremism in both cases and one need to draw a line of balance. In the preface of his The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

The Bible clearly states that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1Tim. 4:1,2). The warning is against those who renounce the truth by embracing falsehood. This is one way in which cults arise claiming hold over some particularly distinct truth unsupported by the Scriptures. The elements of deception in the world that keep people blinded from the truth of God also fall into the purview of the kingdom of darkness.

The Bible, therefore, exhorts one to be watchful (1Pt. 5:8), never give an occasion to the devil through prideful or resentful anger (Eph. 4:26), and to beware of the wiles and deception of the devil (Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 11:13-15) who attempts to destroy the Body of Christ.

Selfish Carnal Passions

Jude talks about mockers in the last days (those who deride the things and offices of God) as those “who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19). The psalmist draws a picture of their departure from truth in Psalm 1:1:

  • Step 1: Walking after counsel of the ungodly: Placing worldly wisdom and views above the Scripture.
  • Step 2: Standing in the way of sinners: Expressing one’s approval of or neutral opinion regarding things that the Bible expressly calls “sin”.
  • Step 3: Sitting in the seat of the scornful: Assuming the position and the role of the rebel, the derider and opposer of all God’s truth.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” because it’s evident that the enemy of our souls can easily use situations in life to distort reality and confuse decisions. Such followers of sinful flesh easily rebel against all truth. The temptation to give in slowly to the current of worldly opinion is strong and leaders must beware of that.

Dealing with Denial in the Self

Jesus gave the first code of examination when He stipulated,  “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). He told the hypocrite to first remove the beam in his eye before he could remove the mote out of his brother’s eye (v. 5). Self-examination is crucial for a leader’s spiritual health.

Following are some questions that can help ascertain if one is a denier:

  1. Do I try to justify some action of mine that my conscience accuses me of (1Jn. 1:8-10)?
  2. Am I angry with someone for some fault of mine (Gen. 4:5-8)?
  3. Do I feel threatened by someone’s progress (1Sam. 18:7-9)?
  4. Do I have doubts regarding the Bible, God, and ministry (Ex. 32:1ff; Pro.30:9; 1Tim. 4:13-16)?
  5. Am I doing or saying things to make people think of me what is not really true of me (2Cor. 12:6)?
  6. Do I regard the Biblical warnings as not very serious, particularly in connection with my situation (Jer. 7:10)?
  7. Do I consider someone as inferior to or less important than me (Phil. 2:3)?
  8. Do I try to defame or slander someone (behind his back or openly) without regard to any proof in favor of him/her (Prov. 19:5,9)?
  9. Do I wish to be safe, regardless of what happens to others (2Sam. 23:16)?

Following are some ways to deal with denial in one’s self:

  1. Examine oneself in the light of Scriptures (1 Cor. 9:27; Ps.1:2).
  2. Confess and renounce all sin and false justifications (1Jn.1:9).
  3. Be committed to the truth in every situation (2Cor.13:8).
  4. Deny self and seek to please Christ alone in every situation (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 1:10).
  5. Encourage others and invest in them for the glory of God (1Thess.5:11).
  6. Confront sin in others; this guards against compromise (Eph. 5:11; 1Cor. 5:2; 1Tim.5:20).
  7. Make prayer, hearing from God, and fellowship a priority (1Thess. 5:17; Prov. 28:5; Heb.10:25).

Dealing with Denial in Others

One must beware of the following things when confronting denial in others:

  1. Do not be hasty in confrontation (Pro. 14:29; 29:20).
  2. Do not let hearsay cloud your opinion about the other. In fact, do not even let appearance influence your view of the other person for in doing that you can be partner in evil (Jn. 7:24; Pro. 17:4).
  3. Before confronting someone, make sure that you’re first of all in the right (Matt. 7:1-5).
  4. Do not confront unless you’re certain that you need to (Acts 24:25).
  5. Do not confront unless you’re confident that you’re equipped for it (1Tim. 3:16; Tit.1:9).
  6. Listen to the Holy Spirit before you’re going to confront and speak (Jn. 16:7, 8).

The steps of confrontation may be as follows:

  1. Recognize the individuality, dignity, and freedom of the other as given by God (Gen. 1:26).
  2. Be updated about the denier’s latest position. This is important since it’s possible that the denier might already have been feeling remorseful and has repented of his falsehood. One way to do that is to ask questions in that direction. Jesus provides a classic approach to this when He confronts Peter without talking about the three denials he made. On the contrary, He just asks him if he loved Him more than the other things; and when he replied in the affirmative, Christ asked him to work for Him (Jn.21:15-17).
  3. Be confident of your authority from God, not to destroy but to construct (2Cor. 13:10).
  4. Be gentle and caring (Matt.11:29;  2Tim. 2:24; Jas. 3:17)
  5. Only proceed if you’re sure that the person is open to reason, to a fair discussion (Isa. 1:18; Jas.3:17; Prov. 1:5; 10:8).
  6. Remember that God is the one in total control of the situation (Acts 5:34).
  7. Gently show the person the facts of his/her situation and give space for his/her approval or denial of them (Jn. 4:9-19).
  8. Remember that the person reserves the final decision to accept or reject the truth and God oversees it all (Prov. 16:1,2).
  9. Provide answers as long as you’re sure that the denier is honest about his/her questions (1Pt. 3:15).
  10. If you’re unable to answer sufficiently, do not fail to express your disapproval of falsehood in any case (Jn. 9:24-33).
  11. Seek the help of other leaders if necessary (Matt. 18:17).
  12. Aim at restoration (2Cor. 2:4-11).

© Domenic Marbaniang, Published in BASILEIA, April 2009

About the Author

Dean of Post-Graduate Studies, Professor of Theology, Religions, and Missions, Author, Editor of Theological Journal, and Pastor

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/Dealing With Denial


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ISLAMIC AND JEWISH FASTING: A Holy and Spiritually Healthy Diet

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Lack of self discipline will soon put more Americans in a hospital than all infectious diseases combined. About one third of the of the 600,000 Americans who died from various types of cancer last year, died due to their own life style behavior. Smoking, over eating and drinking, and physical inactivity did them in. The same set of self indulgences also afflicted those who died from heart disease last year.

The lack of self restraint so evident in much of modern life leads us first to pleasure seeking, and then increasingly to self induced suffering. Americans spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books and gym memberships but lack the self discipline to restrain themselves from over eating. And young people are leading the way in increasing self indulgence. In the majority of states (30 of 50) the percentage of overweight or obese children is now at or above 30%.

In our consumer driven cultural, we have largely lost the spiritual value of self restraint that is so important in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim tradition. Self-restraint will be the single biggest factor influencing life expectancy in the 21st century. With self-restraint most people will have a good chance to live into their 80s or 90s.

However, indulgent pleasure seeking and lack of self restraint will increasingly cut short the lives of tens of millions of people. Almost all religions have always taught that self restraint is a virtue. Fasting and ritual dietary restrictions are the most wide spread example of spiritual self-restraint and self discipline.

The idea that people, even thin people, should restrict their culinary pleasures sounds outrageous to our 21st century ears. Dieting is hard enough. Why should we torture and afflict ourselves by fasting? Don’t most people think that being happy is the most important thing? Isn’t eating one of the most accessible pleasures we have? Why should religions restrict our pleasures? For example, why should the Torah decree a day of total denial of food and drink for every Jewish adult? (Leviticus 16:29, 23:27). For twenty-four hours Jews (over age 13 and in good health) are supposed to afflict their souls by abstaining from eating or drinking anything at all.

What we do not eat may be even more important than what we do eat. All animals eat, but only humans choose to not eat some foods that are both nutritious and tasty. Some people do not eat meat for religious/ethical reasons. Hindus do not eat beef, and Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, for religious/spiritual reasons.

On Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement Jews do not eat or drink anything at all for twenty-four hours. Every year for the entire the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. The Qur’an says “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint,” Qur’an 2:183. What is the Torah and the Qur’an trying to teach us by decreeing the importance of fasting? What spiritual benefits occur when we fast?

First of all, fasting teaches compassion. It is easy to talk about the world’s problem of hunger. We can feel sorry that millions of people go to bed hungry each day. But not until one can actually feel it in one’s own body is the impact truly there. Compassion based on empathy is much stronger and more consistent than compassion based on pity. This feeling must lead to action. Fasting is never an end in itself; that’s why it has so many different outcomes. But all the other outcomes are of no real moral value if compassion is not enlarged and extended through fasting.

As the prophet Isaiah said, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor”. (Isaiah 58:3-7)

Second, fasting is an exercise in will-power. Most people think they can’t fast because it’s too hard. But actually the discomfort of hunger pangs is relatively minor. A headache, muscle pains from too much exercise, and most certainly a toothache, are all more severe than the pains hunger produces.

I have on occasion fasted for three days, and found that after the first twenty four hours the pain decreases slightly as the stomach becomes numb. The reason it is so hard to fast is because it so easy to stop. Food and drink is all around, and in easy reach; all you have do is take a bite or a sip.

Thus the key to fasting is the will power to decide again and again not to eat or drink. Our society has increasingly become one of self indulgence. We lack self restraint. Fasting goes in direct opposition to our increasing “softness” in life. When people exercise their will-power and fast, they are affirming their self-control and celebrating mastery over themselves. We need continually to prove that we can do it, because we are aware of our frequent failures to be self-disciplined.

The third outcome of fasting is improved physical health. Of course, one twenty-four hour fast will not have any more effect than one day of exercise. Only prolonged and regular fasting promotes health. The annual fast on Yom Kippur can, however, awaken us to the importance of “how much and how often we eat or drink”.

For many years research has shown that when animals are somewhat underfed, receiving a balanced diet at below the normal quantity for maximum physical health, their life spans were prolonged from 50% to 100%. A 20 year study of rhesus monkeys published in Science in July 2009, found that the group on a reduced-calorie diet was two thirds less likely to die from cancer, heart disease or diabetes than those fed the normal diet.

Even if people do not follow a permanent restricted diet, the annual example of a 24 hour fast keeps the issue in mind. Also with all the additives placed in food these days we need to be reminded of the advantage of eating organically. More important, since our society has wide spread problems with overabundance, fasting provides a good lesson in the virtue of denial.

Health problems caused by overeating and over-drinking are the most rapidly growing health problems in affluent Western countries.Thus going without any food, or even water, for a twenty-four hour period challenges us to think very seriously about the benefits of the spiritual teaching; less is more.

Fourth in our list of outcomes, fasting is a positive struggle again our dependencies. We live in a consumer society. We are constantly bombarded by advertising telling us that we must have this or that to be healthy, happy, popular or wise. By fasting we assert that we need not be totally dependent on external things, even such essentials as food. If our most basic need for food and drink can be suspended for twenty-four hours, how much more our needs for all the nonessentials.

Judaism doesn’t advocate asceticism as an end in itself. In fact it’s against Jewish law to deny ourselves normal pleasures. But in our overheated consumer society it is necessary periodically to turn off the constant pressure to consume, and to remind ourselves forcibly that “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Fifth, fasting serves as a penance. Though self inflicted pain may alleviate some guilt, it is much better to reduce one’s guilt by offsetting acts of righteousness to others. This is why, for Jews, contributing to charity is an important part of Yom Kippur. The same is true for Muslims during Ramadan. Indeed, fasting that doesn’t increase compassion is ignored by God. Also, the concept of fasting as penance helps us understand that our suffering can be beneficial.

Contemporary culture desires happiness above all else. Any suffering is seen as unnecessary and indeed evil. Though we occasionally hear people echo values from the past that suffering can help one grow, or that an existence unalloyed with pain would lack certain qualities of greatness, many today seem to think that the primary goal in life is ” to always be happy and free of all discomfort.”

The satisfaction one derives from the self-induced pain of fasting provides insight into a better way of reacting to the externally caused suffering we have to experience anyway. Taking a pill is not always the best way to alleviate pain especially if by doing so we allay the symptoms without reaching the root cause.

Sixth, fasting is good for the soul. It often serves as an aid for spiritual experiences. For most people, especially those who have not fasted regularly before, hunger pains are a distraction. People who are not by nature spiritual/emotional individuals will probably find that a one-day fast is insufficient to help induce an altered state of consciousness. Those who have fasted regularly on Yom Kippur might like to try a two to three day fast (liquids permitted). It is best to go about your daily activities and devote your late evening or early morning to meditation and prayer.

Since you have already fasted for Yom Kippur the easiest way is to simply extend the fast another thirty-six to forty-eight hours. We are prohibited to fast prior to Yom Kippur; eating a good meal prior to Yom Kippur Eve is a mitzvah (religious duty), because Judaism like Islam opposes excessive asceticism.

The seventh outcome of fasting for Jews is the performance of a mitzvah (a religious duty), which is, after all, the one fundamental reason for fasting on Yom Kippur. We do not do mitzvoth (religious duties) in order to benefit ourselves, but because our duty as Jews requires that we do them. Fasting is a very personal mitzvah, with primarily personal consequences. Fasting on Yom Kippur is a personal offering to the God of Israel from each member of the family of Israel.

For over 100 generations Jews have fasted on this day. A personal act of fasting is part of the Jewish people’s covenant with God. The principal reason to fast is to fulfill a mitzvah. The outcome of your fast can be any of a half dozen forms of self-fulfillment. But simply knowing that you have done one of your duties as an adult Jew is the most basic and primary outcome of all.

Finally, fasting should be combined with prayer and the study of Sacred Scriptures (the five books of Moses specifically or Scriptural texts in general). Indeed, the more one studies, the less one needs to fast. A medieval text states, “Better to eat a little and study twice as much, for the study of Torah is superior to fasting.”

Fasting is a very personal, experiential offering. However, though study is also a personal experience, it takes place with a text and/or a teacher. The Divine is often more readily and truly experienced in dialogue with others than in solitary meditation.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is rabbimaller.com

Earthpages does not render medical, legal, financial or other professional services. Those in need of expert assistance are advised to consult an appropriate licensed professional. TOU


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Who Do You Prefer, the Father of the “force”?

Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-Deus - Dios - God

Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-Deus – Dios – God: Caio Basilio via Flickr

Are you one of the many Christians who are into this whole “force of the universe” gospel? Are you more passionately focused in controlling the universe to achieve your personal desires, rather than wanting to do the Father’s will for your life?

It is not actually surprising that people are into the whole “attracting the universe” thing. We live a selfish and self-centered culture in which the Summum Bonum, the highest good, is getting what we want.  “Forget about the Father’s plan, I got my own plan!”

In making our personal plans the Summum Bonum, then it makes sense to “control the universe.” It makes sense to want to be God, for only God has the control over everything. And we want that same power for ourselves.

Many of us cannot totally be blamed for having this kind of philosophy. It was deeply ingrained ever since our childhood. “Pursue your dreams” is what our parents and teachers have taught us. There is nothing wrong in pursuing our dreams, but they are subordinate to God’s will. We were not created to fulfill our selfish goals, but realize God’s.

As Christians, Jesus is our model. Jesus was all about doing the Father’s will, “My food is to do the will of the Father”. Even in His most trying hours the Lord said to the Father, “Not my will but Your will be done.”

Many of us forget that fulfillment only comes in realizing God’s will in our lives. In His will is our peace.

So, have you ever asked God what is His plan for your life?

Or are you too busy trying to control the universe to achieve yours?

About the Author

Daxx Bondoc has been serving the poor with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s sister) since 2004. His works with the poor included Catechesis, Bible studies, organizing and giving retreats. He also helped the sisters with their medical and gift distributions to the poor. As well as accompanying the sisters visit the poor in their homes. He was also a part of founding a lay movement in the Diocese of Antipolo. He is currently working as a web designer/flash animator for an international company. Founder of Inspirationalblogs.com

Article Source: Who Do You Prefer, the Father of the “force”?

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