Contacting God & Eastern Religions

Ian Goddard (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 14:54:30 -0400

At 10:14 AM 4/21/98 -0700, Yak Wax wrote:

>I recently watched "Contact" (I'm probably the last to do so on this
>list) and something's been annoying me ever since. In the movie it is
>claimed that 95% of the worlds population believe in a "Supreme Being"
>and therefore anyone who doesn't believe in God shouldn't represent
>Earth. Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't Hinduism the most
>'popular' religion? Even if it's not, my point is that many religions
>have more than one god, so I would presume that 95% of the worlds
>population don't believe in a "Supreme Being" or "God" (which I take
>to mean one Supreme Being, after all how many Supreme Beings can you

IAN: Hinduism does have one supreme being, Brahman.
It is said that all the other gods, such a Shiva,
Kali, Gahnesh, Uma... are but faces of the supreme
being that is Brahman. Brahman has no form or personal
identity and is said to be "The Great Void -- in zero
mechanics, this it the zero-sum of all difference.

Of course, Hinduism is an extremely complex system
of "sub-religions," each with it's own unique spin.

The example of Buddhism and Taoism tend to fit with
your argument, but not in that they have many gods,
but that their concept of a "supreme being" is very
difficult to define, and not dissimilar from Brahman
in that the supreme is nonpersonal and void, or zero.
I believe that zero mechanics maps out this "supreme
being" and absolves the need for religious mystique
and custom

>Added to this, it's a well know fact that religious groups
>don't exactly appreciate each other's views. Anyone advocating the
>Christian God isn't likely to go down well with other religions that
>make up the majority of that 95%...

IAN: We've been brought up in a world where religion,
almost as a rule, defines all others as bound for hell,
as false religions, or even Satanic plots to deceive.
Hindus and Buddhists are far more tolerant of other
religions than we see in Christian tradition, which
is pretty much defined by the claim that all non-
believers are bound for hell. Hinduism embraces
Buddha as a great saint and even Jesus in many
cases. This may be a good strategy to keep the
folks at home, so to say. If your religion embraces
all religions, it may also embrace all people, i.e.,
have a large and profitable following. Why leave
Hinduism for Buddhism if Buddha is also a Hindu saint?

Here's a good quote from The Oxford Companion to
Philosophy (page 355) that highlights the far-more-
tolerant nature of eastern religious traditions:

"Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is a
nonproselytizing religion based on the Vedic
principle that 'Reality is one, but different
religious teachers speak of it differently'."

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