Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: 4th Sun After New Sunday, Discipleship
Volume 7 No. 416 May 19, 2017
 

IV. General Weekly Features

Family Special: Five Essentials for Moms

by Dr. James Dobson, Family Talk

There is no more important job in the universe than to raise a child to love God, live productively, and serve humanity. The responsibilities of effective parenthood are staggeringly heavy at times. Children are terribly dependent on their parents and the task of meeting their needs is a full-time job.

Raising kids properly is one of life's richest challenges. It is not uncommon for a mother, particularly, to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of her parental assignment. In many homes, she is the primary protector for each child's health, education, intellect, personality, character, and emotional stability. As such, she must serve as physician, nurse, psychologist, teacher, minister, cook and policeman. Since in many cases she is with the children longer each day than her husband, she is the chief disciplinarian and main giver of security and love.

Furthermore, Mom's responsibilities extend far beyond her children. She must also meet her obligations to her husband, her church, her relatives, her friends, and often times, her employer. Each of these areas demands her best effort, and the conscientious mother often finds herself racing through the day in a breathless attempt to be all things to all people.

There are occasions in the life of every mother when she looks in the mirror and asks, "How am I going to make it through this day?"

HERE ARE FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR MOMS.

1. RESERVE TIME FOR YOURSELF.

It is important for a mother to put herself on the priority list, too. At least once a week she should play tennis, go bowling or shopping, stop by the gym, or simply "waste" an occasional afternoon. It is unhealthy for anyone to work all the time, and the entire family will profit from her periodic recreation.

Even more important is the protection and maintenance of romance in her marriage. A husband and wife should have a date every week or two, leaving the children at home and forgetting the day's problems for an evening. If the family's finances seemingly prohibit such activities, I suggest that other expenditures be re-examined. I believe that money spent on togetherness will yield many more benefits than an additional piece of furniture or a newer automobile.

2. DON'T STRUGGLE WITH THINGS YOU CAN'T CHANGE.

The first principle of mental health is to learn to accept the inevitable. To do otherwise is to run with the brakes on. Too many people make themselves unhappy over insignificant irritants which should be ignored. In these cases, contentment is no more stable than the weakest link in the chain of circumstances surrounding their lives. All but one of the conditions in a particular woman's life might be perfect: she has good health, a devoted husband, happy children, plenty of food, warmth and shelter, and a personal challenge. Nevertheless, she might be miserable because she doesn't like her mother-in-law. This one negative element can be allowed to overshadow all the good fortune surrounding her.

Life has enough crises in it without magnifying our troubles during good times, yet peace of mind is often surrendered for such insignificant causes. I wonder how many women are discontented today because they don't have something which either wasn't invented or wasn't fashionable just fifty years ago. Men and women should recognize that dissatisfaction with life can become nothing more than a bad habit--a costly attitude that can rob them of life's pleasures.

3. DON'T DEAL WITH BIG PROBLEMS LATE AT NIGHT.

Fatigue does strange things to human perception. After a hard day, the most simple tasks may appear insurmountable. All problems seem more unsolvable at night, and the decisions that are reached then may be more emotional than rational. When couples discuss finances or other family problems in the wee hours, they are asking for trouble. Their tolerance to frustration is low, often leading to fights which should never have occurred. Tension and hostility can be avoided by simply delaying important topics until morning. A good night's sleep and a rich cup of coffee can go a long way toward defusing the problem.

4. TRY MAKING A LIST.

When the work load gets particularly heavy there is comfort to be found in making a list of the duties to be performed. The advantages of writing down one's responsibilities are threefold: (1) You know you won't forget anything. (2) You guarantee that the most important jobs will get done first. Thus, if you don't get finished by the end of the day, you will have at least done the items that were most critical. (3) You leave a record of accomplishments by crossing tasks off the list as they are completed.

5. SEEK DIVINE ASSISTANCE.

The concepts of marriage and parenthood were not human inventions. God, in his infinite wisdom, created and ordained the family as the basic unit of procreation and companionship. The solutions to the problems of modern parenthood can be found through the power of prayer and personal appeal to the Creator. Indeed, I believe parents should commit themselves to daily prayer and supplication on behalf of their children. The task is too scary on our own, and there is not enough knowledge on the books (including this one) to guarantee the outcome of our parenting duties. We desperately need divine help with the job! Most of these recommendations were first written in the Scripture, dating back at least two thousand years to biblical times.

About The Author:

Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, "Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk." He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn't Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.

Source: Excerpted from Dr. Dobson's book The New Dare to Discipline (Copyright 1970/1992, Published by Tyndale Publishers) and is used with permission.

Family Special: The Christian Family is a Domestic Church

by By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian family is called to be a 'domestic church' on mission in the world.

We actually live in Church. We were baptized into the Lord and we now live in His Body. The Christian family IS a church, the smallest and most vital cell of that Body. The extended church community is a family of families. This understanding is more than piety--it is sound ecclesiology, solid anthropology, in fact it is reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus. It can lead us to holiness and happiness.

"But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way." (1Cor. 12:31) I woke up in church this morning. Not on a cold dark floor or surrounded by votive candles and stained glass, but next to my partner in faith, my best friend, my beloved wife of 34 years, Laurine.

We are staying overnight this Christmas at the home of our oldest daughter. She wanted to host Christmas this year for the first time. She is the first of our five grown children. Her home is filled to overflowing with love, and the floors are filled with our children who were able to travel here, our grandchildren, and a rambunctious little dog. Together, we form an ecclesial community in the home. I was truly "in Church" this morning.

From antiquity the Christian Family has been called "the domestic church." Perhaps the most often quoted use of the term is from the "Golden Mouth", the Bishop John Chrysostom, writing in Antioch (the city where they were first called Christians) in the fourth century.

After all, the church is a relational reality, "when two or three are gathered." said the Lord. (Matt. 18:20) Also, at least within the Catholic and Orthodox Church, Christian Marriage is a Sacrament. In other words, it is a participation in- and sign of- the Life of the Trinity! As the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, we are "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1)

Yet, how often do we really view this way of life in this way?

Even the most sincere Christians can still live out their Christian life with a certain dualism. They see themselves as living "in the world" and "going to Church." Family life sometimes gets included in "the world" or perhaps it is seen as a part of a "duty in the Lord" which often "competes" with the Christian mission.

Please understand, as a Catholic/Orthodox Christian, I love to frequent beautiful Church buildings and to participate in the beauty of liturgical worship. However, the point I am trying to make is a vital one. We actually live in Church. We were baptized into the Lord and we now live in His Body. The Christian family IS a church, the smallest and most vital cell of that Body. The extended church community is a family of families. This understanding is more than piety--it is sound ecclesiology, solid anthropology, in fact it is reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus.

The day will soon burst into a flurry of activity with a unique ritual pattern. To the untrained eye, it would look rather "hectic". But with the eyes of domestic faith, my wife Laurine and I will try to see the deeper purpose. All those years of raising children, and now trying to raise grandchildren, we have come to comprehend the mystery hidden in the routine.

There is almost a liturgical sameness to the pattern that emerges after so many years- by practice, developed spiritual purpose, and just plain ordinary human repetition. But it can all become transforming when lived out "in Christ". It is here, where the "rubber hits the road" for most Christians. It is here that the universal call to holiness, in all its real, earthy, incarnation is lived out-in all of its humanness and ordinariness.

Here is also where true progress in the spiritual life can find its raw material. The question becomes whether we who are called to live Christian marriage and family as a vocation do so by seeking to respond to grace and by developing the eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to accept the hidden invitations to love found beneath the surface of the daily "stuff" of Christian Marriage and Family life.

The Greek word translated "emptied" in an extraordinary passage in the letter to the Philippian Christians is "kenosis." St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning our call to enter into the self emptying of Jesus, "Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself. "(Phil. 2:5)

This Greek word refers to the voluntary pouring out-like water-of oneself in an act of sacrificial love. This "emptying" is the proper response of the love of a Christian for the One who first loved us. It is also the very heart of the vocation of Christian marriage and family life. There is a "domestic kenosis", a domestic emptying out which comes in the ordinary "stuff" of daily life in a Christian family. There is a "domestic ascesis", a way of living an ascetical life, when we embrace the very real struggles involved in living this out as a vocation in Christ.

However, we need to move from the realm of fuzzy feelings or theological theory to reality - the emptying is lived out in a unique and grace filled way in Christian marriage and family life. As Christian spouses, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, we need to have our eyes opened like the disciples on the Road, the way, to Emmaus. (Luke 24: 13ff) This call of married love and family life is more than a covenant (though it is that), more than an ordinance (though it is that) - it is an invitation to sacrificial love--to holiness. Christian Marriage is a Sacrament, a participation in the very life of God through which and for which we are given grace, the very Life of God.

When the right choices are made in this life of "domestic kenosis", we cooperate with the Lord's invitation to follow Him by exercising our human freedom; we choose to give ourselves away in love to the "other." In so doing, we are gradually transformed into an image, a living icon, of Jesus Christ and we actually participate in His Kenosis. This way of holiness is not easy, as anyone who has lived the vocation for more than three months can attest, but make no mistake; it is a very real path to holiness. It is also a wonderful one. The true challenge lies in the choices we make, daily, hourly, and even moment-by-moment.

The same two trees still grow in the garden of domestic life that appeared in the first garden called Eden. They both invite the exercise of our human freedom. There is one like the one in Eden where the first Eve said, "no I will not serve." We are always tempted to choose the "fruit" of this tree of self centeredness whenever we seek to hide from the call and refuse to love, by emptying ourselves "kenotically"

Then, there is the one that resembles the tree on Calvary where the "second Eve,"(as the fathers of the Church called Mary, the Mother of Jesus) stood with the beloved disciple John, beheld her crucified Son and her Lord who was "Love Incarnate", and again proclaimed her "Fiat", her "yes." In doing so she models the response of all Christians for all time.

However, as it was with the Mother of the Lord, (both when the angel Gabriel came and made that extraordinary announcement, and again on that mountain when she beheld her Son and Savior), the choice is our own--- to be made daily, even hourly. With these choices, presented to us from the moment we open our eyes every morning to the time we close them at night, we proceed on the way of the Cross through death and into the eternal now of Resurrected life in Jesus Christ.

That is the more excellent way, the way of love. That is the Way of holiness. That is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Holy Family.

Source: Catholic Online  

Self Improvement: How to Change Your Course in Life

By Craig Ballantyne

""Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent, because without discipline you would sink into chaos."
– Paulo Coelho

You're about to discover how to get more done, make more money, and still get home on time for dinner. Today you're going to walk away with 5 personal rules for your life that will make you a better business owner and parent.

But before I do that, I want you to think about what's been keeping you up at night. What are those pains and pinches causing you stress and anxiety?

Everyone has them. Even me. In fact, I once had stress so bad that it sent me to the hospital twice. The year was 2006 and that was when I hit rock bottom. Back then I was still a part-time personal trainer and my online business was just beginning to take off.

Things were going well. Too well. I ended up becoming so successful (thanks to my business coach) that I was able to quit my job as a personal trainer and now I had ALL the freedom in the world. I had the freedom to get up when I wanted... to stay out late... to chase girls every night of the week... And it brought me to my knees.

That's the Paradox of Freedom – too much freedom often leads to stress and anxiety.

Look at the Johnny Depps of the world, the rich kids of Instagram, the rock stars that OD on pills, the business gurus making tons of money but with home lives in shambles because they lack structure and discipline in their personal life...

Too Much Money + No Rules = A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Back in 2006, the paradox of freedom gave me severe anxiety and panic attacks. For six weeks straight, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, I felt as if I was having a heart attack. There were tingles from the top of my head down to my fingertips. I had a tight chest, elevated heart rate, and I couldn't breathe.

It was so intense that twice during those six weeks I walked into an emergency room in Toronto and said, "I think I'm having a heart attack."

(And let me tell you, if ever walk into a busy emergency room and want to get to the front of the line, just say you're having a heart attack. They'll take you to the back right away!)

It was the LOWEST point of my life. There I was, a 30-year old world-famous personal trainer, an exercise guru with his workouts featured in Men's Health magazine each month, and I thought I was going to die.

I tried everything to get healthy again. I did meditation, Qi Gong, and Yoga...I even bought a puppy because I read that petting a dog reduced anxiety. But the dog I bought, old Bally, didn't want to play fetch, didn't want to walk around the block, and cried every time I left him at home because he was so anxious.

And suddenly I realized that I had bought the dog version of me!

Fortunately, by turning over every rock and investigating every natural therapy, I was finally able to overcome my anxiety in May of 2006. And what I discovered during my struggles was the importance of having STRUCTURE in your life.

Here's the Paradox of Structure: The more structure and discipline you have in your life, the more freedom you will earn and enjoy.

Now you might be thinking, "Craig, that just doesn't make any sense."

Hear me out. Or at least listen to Paulo Coelho, the famous author of The Alchemist, who said it much more eloquently than me when he wrote:

"Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent, because without discipline you would sink into chaos."

Think about how this applies to your every day life. It doesn't matter where you live, your city has red lights and stop signs, and you obey them. Why? Those are the rules of the road, and when you follow these rules, you get to your destination safely, and you can enjoy the freedom of being there. The rules of the road give you freedom and security.

That's the perfect analogy for having rules for your life. Besides, you already live by personal rules, you just haven't taken the time to think about them and write them down.

If you follow the Paleo diet (or any kind of diet), you have nutrition rules. If you do Cross-Fit or bodybuilding, you have exercise rules. If you're a parent and you enforce a bedtime on your children, you have rules for their life. So yes, everyone follows rules.

Now it's a matter of building the best rules for you so that you get better results.

There are 5 rules you need for your life:

Rule #1: Be Consistent to Bed and Getting Up in the Morning

Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week is the best thing you can do for consistent all-day energy levels. Of course, there will be a couple of nights per week when you stay up late. That's fine. But you must never stray too far from your wake-up time. Don't sleep in. That sets off a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep the next night and feeling tired for the following two or three days. Instead, wake up on time and compensate with a mid-day nap or go to bed earlier the next night.

Rule #2: Focus on Your #1 Priority for 15 Minutes in the Morning

To get ahead in life you need to focus on what matters. The best time to do that is in the morning when you are without distractions. Set a rule that you work on your number one priority in life for at least fifteen minutes after you wake-up. That could be Bible study, fixing your finances, figuring out a marketing plan to make more sales, or spending that time in exercise to regain your health. Fifteen minutes might sound insignificant, but done six (or seven days) a week for months on end brings incredible results.

Rule #3: Have One Health Habit that Makes a Major Impact On Your Wellbeing

Everyone should have a health rule that sets the foundation of all other habits for your health and wellbeing. It might describe your eating philosophy (Paleo, vegan, etc.) or perhaps the type and frequency of exercise or stress reduction you do ("I take a one-hour hike in the fresh air three times per week" or "I lift weights three times per week for twenty minutes" or "I never miss a morning meditation session of 10 minutes").

Rule #4: Do One Wealth Building Action Step Each Day

ETR's founder, Mark Ford, taught us to become wealthier every day, even if it is just by a few dollars. And so we should all have a rule that helps us do so. For example, a sales professional might have a rule that "I make 5 sales calls before lunch every work day." A writer might choose to "write 1,500 words before 2 p.m. each day" (Stephen King follows a similar rule, for example). Whatever your role, there is a way to structure a wealth building rule that gets you closer to your financial freedom.

Rule #5: Have a NOT To Do to Keep You Out of Trouble!

It's important to know and act on your number one priority in life. It's almost equally as important to know — and avoid — the things you should not do. If you don't believe me, just ask one of the world's wealthiest men.

"The difference between successful people and really successful people," Warren Buffett once said, "is that really successful people say no to almost everything."

Your rule might be "No drinking alcohol during the work week" or "I don't check personal email until after 7 p.m." or a rule like mine that says, "I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals."

Create your rules. Print them out. Keep them in front of you at all times.

Your rules will bring you structure. Your structure will bring you TRUE freedom.

But without structure, you'll suffer from "too much freedom."

Yes, too much freedom is a 1st World Problem, but listen, this is the world you live in. This is your reality. Forget about the criticisms of others. Your first-world problems are holding you back, and it's time to fix this, otherwise it will only get worse if you wait to take care of it. Without the right structure in your life you'll miss out on the true freedom and independence you should be enjoying. You'll be working too hard, sacrificing too much, and harming yourself in your neverending quest to help others.

This can't go on. Your days of martyring yourself for others are over. You've done the work, paid your dues, and you deserve a life. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you're not letting money and time slip through your hands, because being overwhelmed and anxious causing exactly this to happen. I know. Trust me.

When you lose time, it's gone forever… your idea of success must change... It's not about money... You must treat time, not money, as your ultimate prize in life.

Click here to get a free success tool to overcome your obstacles and plan your Perfect Day.

About the Author:

raig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes "politically-incorrect" advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig's secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision....

2016 © Early to Rise Publishing – All Rights Reserved

Inspiration: Your Dream Power

by Patricia Stepler

It was late October and my son, Danny and I stopped at our mailbox before we went to the local diner for some food. I handed the mail to Danny and he looked through during our less than mile drive. As we arrived at the diner he discovered the envelope that held his scholarship award. He said to me, "Mom, wouldn't it be funny if this is a full scholarship?"

At the age of twelve Danny told me a phrase that I would hear many times during the next six years, "Mom, you don't have to worry about me, I'm going to get you a scholarship." At the time we had one daughter in college and another one ready to start upon graduation from high school and Danny realized the financial burden it had on our family. He was athletic and knew he wanted to play a sport in college. He just needed to decide which sport - football, basketball or baseball.

We sat in the car looking at the envelope from Piedmont College, a small Division III school in Georgia approximately 600 miles away. It was at a camp that previous July that we heard of this school for the very first time. In August, as the baseball coach started to recruit Danny we went to visit the school. We were told to expect a third to a half as a scholarship offer, and yet Danny had worked hard for six years and believed he would receive a full scholarship offer.

As he carefully began to open the envelope images flashed through my mind of all the difficulties and struggles he had overcome to arrive at this point. The day he was born he was airlifted to a major hospital with a collapsed lung to dealing with Juvenile Diabetes since age eight and multiple other issues. Then there was the disappointments of not getting on the baseball team he wanted or times others laughed at him and tried to discourage him as an athlete. Through all of this he kept a positive attitude and continued to achieve and accomplish goal after goal like clockwork always staying focused on the ultimate dream. And now he was holding that dream in his hand.

As he went through the papers in the envelope, he finally arrived at the one that stated his scholarship amount. Our eyes went from the award to each other as with smiles, laughter, and hugs he had indeed accomplished the ultimate dream. All the struggles, roadblocks, health issues, disappointments were no longer important. He had given his all putting consistent action behind his dream. He had not allowed the many obstacles to deter his effort. Yes, six plus years of hard work had paid off in a big way. Yet Danny did not do anything that any other child could not also accomplish.

The difference was Danny did not give up on his dream even when he was tested multiple times during the years. Danny believed in his dream and focused on the steps that were necessary to accomplish his goal. Far too often children and adults quit too soon. The road is always going to have bumps and potholes along the way. It may appear that some have a smooth road, but I guarantee you that is not the case and certainly not the case for Danny.

Danny had many times that would have discouraged many children from continuing. He had so many obstacles to and situations to overcome. He found many times that when one opportunity for achievement did not come his way as expected another better one would open.

Danny thought he knew every piece in the puzzle and when those pieces did not fall in place, I would tell him, "Danny there is a reason this happened and eventually we will find the answer." Make life an adventure and realize that you are not in control as much as you would like to believe.

A year ago, when Danny was a freshman in college, I asked him if he liked the school he was attending. I did not want him to think that he had to stay 600 miles away from home if he was not happy. He looked at me and told me how much he liked the area and the school and then he said something that showed his wisdom. He said, "I don't know why I am here, but I feel like there is a reason that I was brought to this school. Eventually I will discover the reason."

There is a greater Power out there that has the answers we do not. We must trust and have faith that the result we are looking for will come even though we may be discouraged at the moment. So often when we do not get what we want it is because there is something better coming our way. The most important thing you can do is to stay focused daily on your dream and build the image of what you want. That is Your Dream Power.

About The Author:

Patricia has just released her first book, 'Your Dream Power'. She has also created a program that goes along with the study of the book that is available to individuals and schools. The program relates Your Dream Power to stories of famous people, quotes, and interjected worksheets that help children internalize the teaching of the Power Messages. Get your copy and learn more about Patricia: www.yourdreampowerbook.com

Why Indians Don't Give Back to Society

by Raj Varadarajan

Some characteristics unite Indians. The most visible is our opportunism.

Why don't we worship Brahma? We know he's part of the Hindu trinity as the creator, but we worship Vishnu, manager of the cosmos, and Shiva, its eventual destroyer. The answer lies not in religion, but in culture. But in what way does our religion shape our culture?

Weber explained the success of capitalism in the US, Germany and Britain as coming from their populations' Protestant faith. This ethic, or culture, was missing from the Catholic populations of South America, Italy and Spain. Protestants, Weber said, extended Christianity's message of doing good deeds, to doing work well. Industry and enterprise had an ultimate motive: public good. That explains the philanthropists of the US, from John D. Rockefeller to Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates.

What explains the behaviour of Indians? What explains the anarchy of our cities? To find out, we must ask how our behaviour is different.

Some characteristics unite Indians. The most visible is our opportunism. One good way to judge a society is to see it in motion. On the road, we observe the opportunism in the behaviour of the Indian driver. Where traffic halts on one side of the road in India, motorists will encroach the oncoming side because there is space available there. If that leads to both sides being blocked, that is fine, as long as we maintain our advantage over people behind us or next to us. This is because the other man cannot be trusted to stay in his place.

The Indian's instinct is to jump the traffic light if he is convinced that the signal is not policed. If he gets flagged down by the police, his instinct is to bolt. In an accident, his instinct is to flee. Fatal motoring cases in India are a grim record of how the driver ran over people and drove away.

We show the pattern of what is called a Hobbesian society: one in which there is low trust between people. This instinct of me-versus-the-world leads to irrational behaviour, demonstrated when Indians board flights. We form a mob at the entrance, and as the flight is announced, scramble for the plane even though all tickets are numbered. Airlines modify their boarding announcements for Indians taking international flights.

Our opportunism necessarily means that we do not understand collective good. Indians will litter if they are not policed. Someone else will always pick up the rubbish we throw. Thailand's toilets are used by as many people as India's toilets are, but they are likely to be not just clean but spotless. This is because that's how the users leave them, not the cleaners.

The Indian's reluctance to embrace collective good hurts his state. A study of income-tax compliance between 1965 and 1993 in India (Elsevier Science/Das- Gupta, Lahiri and Mookherjee) concluded that 'declining assessment intensity had a significant negative effect' on compliance, while 'traditional enforcement tools (searches, penalties and prosecution activity) had only a limited effect' on Indians. The authors puzzled over the fact that "India's income tax performance (was) below the average of countries with similar GDP per capita."

We do not think stealing from the state is a bad thing, and our ambiguity extends to corruption, which also we do not view in absolute terms. Political parties in India understand this and corruption is not an issue in Indian politics. Politicians who are demonstrably corrupt, recorded on camera taking a bribe or saying appalling things, or convicted by a court, can hold legitimate hope of a comeback - unthinkable in the West.

The opportunist is necessarily good at adapting, and that explains the success of Indians abroad. We can follow someone else's rules well, even if we can't enforce them at home ourselves. The Indian in the US is peerless at the Spelling Bee because the formula of committing things to memory, which in India passes for knowledge, comes naturally to him. But this talent for adapting and memorizing is not the same as a talent for creation.

The question is: Why are we opportunists?

In his great work 'Crowds and Power', Elias Canetti observed that the rewards religions promised their faithful were all far off, in the afterlife. This is because a short goal would demand demonstration from God and create skeptics instead of believers. There is an exception to this in Hinduism. Hinduism is not about the other world. There is no after life in Hinduism and rebirth is always on earth. The goal is to be released entirely and our death rites and beliefs -- funeral in Kashi -- seek freedom from rebirth.

Christianity and Islam are about how to enter heaven; Hinduism is about how not to return to earth, because it's a rotten place. Naipaul opens his finest novel with the words "The world is what it is", and Wittgenstein ("The world is all that is the case") opens his Tractatus similarly.

Hinduism recognizes that the world is irredeemable: It is what it is. Perhaps this is where the Hindu gets his world view -- which is zero-sum -- from. We might say that he takes the pessimistic view of society and of his fellow man. But why?

The Hindu devotee's relationship with God is transactional: I give you this, you give me that. God must be petitioned and placated to swing the universe's blessings towards you. God gives you something not through the miracle, and this is what makes Hinduism different, but by swinging that something away from someone else. This is the primary lesson of the Vedic fire sacrifice. There is no benefit to one without loss to another. Religion is about bending god's influence towards you through pleas, and appeasement, through offerings.

Society has no role in your advancement and there is no reason to give back to it (in any way, including leaving the toilets clean behind you) because it hasn't given you anything in the first place. That is why Indian industrialists are not philanthropists. Rockefeller always gave a tenth of his earnings to the Church, and then donated hundreds of millions, fighting hookworm and educating black women. Bill Gates gave $25 billion (around Rs 1.2 trillion), and his cause is fighting malaria, which does not even affect Americans. Warren Buffett gave away $30 billion, almost his entire fortune. Andrew Carnegie built 2,500 libraries. Dhirubhai Ambani International School has annual fees starting at Rs 47,500 (with a Rs 24,000 admission fee) and Mukesh Ambani¹s daughter was made head girl.

An interesting thing to know is this: Has our culture shaped our faith or has our faith shaped our culture? I cannot say. To return to the question we started with: Why is Brahma not worshipped? The answer is obvious: He has nothing to offer us. What he could do for us, create the universe, he has already done. There is no gain in petitioning him now....

Source: IIT Discussion Group

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