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Tripartite Knowledge of God

 
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 06:03 am
Hola all,

Now that I've got a new laptop with a more regularized Internet connection I can participate more now than I had been as of late.

Not too long ago I had an epiphany. Having read the Bhagavad-Gita several times, I was familiar with the three disciplines, or yogas, employed in it to experience God (here personified as Krishna): karma, jnana, and bhakti: action, knowledge, and faith. So I was meditating on the nature of the Christian Trinity for unrelated reasons when it hit me: Each part of the Trinity corresponds to one of the Gitan yogas: God the Father to karma or ritual, God the Son (Jesus) to bhakti or devotion, and the Holy Spirit to jnana or the mystic, that is, the Trinity is more than anything else a metaphor for the three ways we experience God (that God is three) and yet a realization that the God we experience in these ways is still the same God (that God is one).

So to review, the Bhagavad-Gita names three systems of belief:

Right action, that is, karmayoga or ritual,
Right thought, that is, jnanayoga or mystical, and
Right belief, that is, bhaktiyoga or devotional.

Since Jesus is a bhakti figure (I'm working on a proof the essence of which is that one who aspires to be a bhakti figure must have a credible claim for divinity {John}) and God the Father is a karma figure (as in the Laws of the Torah), it's not a great stretch to see the Holy Spirit as a jnana figure, especially since when it's invoked it's usually represented as conferring some sort of sacred knowledge (or inspiration).

See?
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 07:25 am
@hammersklavier,
Is the knowledge of God tripartite, or is God tripartite?
Regards,
John
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 07:45 am
@jgweed,
Hey!

Interesting thoughts, thank you. I have not read the Bhagavad-Gita, so my understanding of the Hindu aspects is extremely limited. But I can speak to the Christian interpretation on the Trinity

hammersklavier;77622 wrote:

the Trinity is more than anything else a metaphor for the three ways we experience God (that God is three) and yet a realization that the God we experience in these ways is still the same God (that God is one).
See?


I think this is exactly correct. The idea of the Trinity originates in the thought of three Cappadochian Church Fathers

Cappadocian Fathers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For these men, the Trinity was a meditative tool, in essentially the same manner as you have come to realize. So, I think your Christian interpretation is spot on thus far, which only makes me even more excited to hear more of your interpretation of the Hindu ideas as they relate to the Christian Trinity.

One thing to bear in mind is that in Trinitarian theology, the work of each hypostases is inseparable from that of the others. From my very limited understanding of the Hindu thought, this seems to be a feature they share - right action, right thought, and right belief are all mutually dependent. When one suffers, so do the others. If right thought is hindered, right action and right belief will also be hindered. The two ideas, Christian and Hindu, appear to be analogous in this way as well.
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 10:59 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;77638 wrote:
Hey!

Interesting thoughts, thank you. I have not read the Bhagavad-Gita, so my understanding of the Hindu aspects is extremely limited. But I can speak to the Christian interpretation on the Trinity



I think this is exactly correct. The idea of the Trinity originates in the thought of three Cappadochian Church Fathers

Cappadocian Fathers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For these men, the Trinity was a meditative tool, in essentially the same manner as you have come to realize. So, I think your Christian interpretation is spot on thus far, which only makes me even more excited to hear more of your interpretation of the Hindu ideas as they relate to the Christian Trinity.

One thing to bear in mind is that in Trinitarian theology, the work of each hypostases is inseparable from that of the others. From my very limited understanding of the Hindu thought, this seems to be a feature they share - right action, right thought, and right belief are all mutually dependent. When one suffers, so do the others. If right thought is hindered, right action and right belief will also be hindered. The two ideas, Christian and Hindu, appear to be analogous in this way as well.

Exactly. I also think all religions are dependent on this triad, but that each faith, and each sect within that faith, stress one of these three aspects to the detriment of the other aspects. Hinduism is the only one to have equal emphasis in the literature on all three, but that's because it's incredibly ancient and is an unbroken tradition, such that each of the three had its own era to develop. The Christian Bible is analogous, but since the Old Testament (where the ritual aspects developed) belongs more in the Jewish tradition rather than the Christian one, it can hardly be said to be unbroken in quite the same way the Hindu texts are.

Buddhism shows this quite elegantly: Theravada = Ritual, Zen = Mysitcal, and Jingtu (Pure Land) = devotional, such that there's a sect devoted to the emphasis of each in the tradition. Christianity once had major sects (Paulines and Gnostics) for both the devotional and mystical traditions; it's kind of sad that then the devotional sect won out they suppressed the mystical one.

JG--They way we approach God is tripartite. God is still a unity.
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 04:11 am
@hammersklavier,
I like your thinking here. It shows there is so much more depth and diversity to the varieties of spiritual intuition than the monochrome 'belief vs non-belief' that we seem stuck with most of the time.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jul, 2009 12:42 am
@jeeprs,
hammersklavier;77839 wrote:
I also think all religions are dependent on this triad


Where is this present in Taoism?

And I'm not so sure about your interpretation of Buddhism, in this case. I'm not sure why you would suggest that Theravada emphasizes ritual over direct experience... while Theravada is a bit more conservative in that they emphasize the wisdom of elders, they are as concerned with every element of the eightfold path as they are the particular right action.

I also find it strange that you would mention Pure Land and omit Tibetan Buddhism. Pure Land is simply an aspect of the Mahayana tradition, and only became an independent tradition in the 13th century in Japan. And if we look at the various Buddhist sects, Tibetan Buddhism appears to be equally concerned with ritual, meditative practice and what you call devotion.
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 05:09 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;78074 wrote:
Where is this present in Taoism?

And I'm not so sure about your interpretation of Buddhism, in this case. I'm not sure why you would suggest that Theravada emphasizes ritual over direct experience... while Theravada is a bit more conservative in that they emphasize the wisdom of elders, they are as concerned with every element of the eightfold path as they are the particular right action.

I also find it strange that you would mention Pure Land and omit Tibetan Buddhism. Pure Land is simply an aspect of the Mahayana tradition, and only became an independent tradition in the 13th century in Japan. And if we look at the various Buddhist sects, Tibetan Buddhism appears to be equally concerned with ritual, meditative practice and what you call devotion.

Actually, neither Confucianism nor Taoism are religions so much as applied philosophies, like...philosophy. If you were to look at Taoism as a religion, though, it would definitely fall under the 'mystical' focus, just as Confucianism has a clear 'ritual' focus.

As for your issues with my portrayal of Buddhism, you are absolutely correct! I looked back on it and I realized that it is indeed an absurd oversimplification...although a useful one.

Since we're on the issue of philosophy...I wonder if philosophy, as we see it, is an outgrowth of pagan religion in much the same way that, say, Gnosticism is an outgrowth of earlier Judeo-Christian ideas and philosophies?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Jul, 2009 09:51 pm
@hammersklavier,
If we are not going to call Taoism a religion, then we should probably not call Buddhism a religion; Robert Thurman argues that Buddhism is not a religion.

Gnosticism existed prior to Christianity, and existed in some cases independently from Christianity. Some scholars object to the term "Gnostic" as it is most commonly used because there are some groups, called Gnostics, who have nothing in common except that they were/are fringe spiritual sects in their society.

Western philosophy could be seen as an outgrowth of pagan religion - for the earliest and most significant western philosophers, philosophy was an intensely spiritual practice: note how Aristotle invents his own God!
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 05:08 am
@hammersklavier,
It should be considered that dharma is not religion. You might say, well what is dharma then? To which the answer is, there is no single word in English which corresponds with dharma, nor has there been any specific discipline or realm of knowledge or practise which corresponds with it. It has some elements of religion, some of philosophy, some of science, and some ideas which are extrinsic to anything in the Western philosophy. Interesting article on the comparison at ??? Veda: Dharma and Religion
0 Replies
 
 

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