gossip

  • Great minds discuss ideas. Ordinary minds discuss events. Small minds gossip about others

    mehdz mudavohrner khaghapar guh veejhen,
    sorvoragahn martik ohrvah yeghahdzner,
    buhzdik martik oureesh martotz kuhteerner

  • When (a rumor is) spoken mouth to mouth, it becomes a big deal( literally a big beam)

    perneh perahn guhlah keran

    As a rumor is spread mouth to mouth it evolves in exaggerations and becomes much more or different than the actual truth. The word “keran” in Armenian means a beam, post, stake or rafter. In other words something big. Rumors tend to evolve into something much more than the truth.

  • Stay far away from the wicked (gossipy) tongue don’t make it a intimate part of the family the dog that brings bones from outside will take bones he finds at home away

    hehrou bahheh chahralehzoun
    mee uhnehr zahyn uhndahnee
    shounuhn vor vosghor guh pereh doun
    dounen vosghor guh danee

    It is wise not to gossip about others or speak badly of anyone especially amongst family members.
    You never know who will spread such words to others. When gossip becomes a habit, it can go both ways (in the family and outside the family).
    Like the dog that brings stranger’s bones (or gossip) home, the same dog will carry away the bones (gossip) he gets in the house and leaves it with strangers.

 

good-wishes

  • He who causes suffering to the oppressed, will one day see his evil acts redressed

    juhnshuvadz mahrtotz dahrabahnk dahss–neh, ohrmuh bahdeejuh kehzee guh hahss-neh

  • The thief and the shopkeeper both pray, “God protect me!”

    The thief and the shopkeeper both pray, “God protect me!”
    koghuh yehv vahjahraganuh yehrgoussuh gaghohtehn, “Ahstvahdz bah-habahn.”

    There was once a shopkeeper. One night, as he closed his shop, he said a prayer, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I pray may the devil be cursed and may My Lord protect my shop from any and all thieves. Amen.” At the same time with the fall of night, a thief was leaving his house. He prayed, “My dear God, I am Your most wretched slave. I have no recourse but to steal for a living to feed my poor family. Let me steal from the greedy shopkeeper. Protect me, Oh Lord, that I may return tonight with enough food to feed my wife and children.”

    The question to ask is, “Whose prayer will God satisfy?” It is not an easy thing to be God. Imagine how many prayers He must hear everyday that beg for outcomes that are beneficial for one and detrimental to another.

    When materialistically inclined persons pray to God, they ask Him to satisfy their desires. They ask God for desirable things or goals they want to achieve even if it causes loss to another person. Such people want God to become their order supplier. The truth is that God will satisfy our desires to the extent that we deserve, but not as much as we may desire. Pious activities rendered in previous lives and this life result in positive reactions that we are destined to receive. The opposite is also true. Therefore, whatever good or bad we encounter in this life is a result of our previous activities. We are subject to such a destiny as long as we remain mired in material desires, motives and attachments.

    Only God knows what deeds a person did in previous lives and this life. His supreme accounting and system of justice determines the outcome. In the example of the shopkeeper and the thief, it could be that the shopkeeper stole from the thief in a previous life. In the present life, the shopkeeper’s destiny will be that the thief will rob his store. Or, it may be that the shopkeeper was a genuinely pious man in previous lives and this life and the thief a bad man. Therefore, God may protect the shopkeeper from theft. The intricacies of karma or the law of action and reaction are very complicated to understand because we do not know the karmic history of each person. Only God knows.

    There is another story from the Nasraddin Hodja tradition that presents a different point of view. The Hodja had two daughters. One was married to a farmer, and the other to a bricklayer. One day he visited the one who had married the farmer. She said to her father, “My husband has finished planting wheat. If it rains in the next few days, we will have a bumper crop, and my husband has promised to buy me a new dress. I am praying for rain.”

    The following day the Hodja visited his other daughter who was married to the bricklayer. She said to her father that her husband had just finished making a large number of bricks. “He laid them on the ground to dry. If it doesn’t rain in the next few weeks, he will make a lot of money by selling them. And he has promised to buy me a new dress. I am praying that it doesn’t rain.”

    Later, the Hodja thought to himself, “The sower prays for rain, the bricklayer for dry weather, and God will give to each his wish.”

    Will God give to each his wish? The Middle Eastern story of the Hodja gives the impression that God is an order supplier. But there is a piece of the puzzle missing. Every human being has the ability to desire by his free will. One can desire anything they want. The quality of the desires depends on one’s perception of reality which can range from ignorance to enlightenment. In ignorance, one desires material benefits that are by nature temporary and eventually taken away from us by nature and the passage of time. With enlightenment, we learn to develop spiritual desires that are free of selfish interests and aimed at the unique purpose of pleasing God. The results of such desires are permanent and can never be lost.

    As stated above, “The truth is that God will satisfy our desires to the extent that we deserve, but not as much as we may desire.” However, there are many people today who give seminars in which they instruct people who want to believe that the universe can be ordered to supply the desires of ordinary men. One simply needs to pay money to learn the technique of how to think positively and order the universe to supply. The following is an introduction to a course that promises such rewards, “How To Use Universal Laws To Your Advantage – It is vitally important to understand how universal laws work. Only by complying with these laws will you effortlessly achieve health, happiness, love and abundance.”

    The attempt to adjust to or manipulate laws for self benefit without paying attention to the law maker and His intention behind the laws is atheism. Laws are made to stop certain types of behavior which are deemed detrimental and encourage other types of behavior which are desirable. In the particular case of universal laws, detrimental is considered anything that takes one’s attention away from God such as selfish sense gratification. New Age teachers purport that man can learn to conform to universal laws so that he can obtain the objects of his desires. This is a more sophisticated method to obtain temporary enjoyment such as sustained sense pleasures, longevity, fame, wealth, power, beauty, etc. But, all these material successes will end as everything material does.

    When the teacher doesn’t explain the difference between material and spiritual desires, he misleads the student to think that God or the universe is his order supplier. Material desires are only satisfied to the extent that we deserve by the law of karma. Spiritual desires are satisfied to the extent that they are genuinely free of self-interest and solely for the purpose of pleasing God. Such pure desires are not subject to the laws of karma (action and reaction). This is vividly explained in the Bhagavad-gita,

    “One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results (temporary material pleasures).”

    “Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge.”

    “Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.”

    “Those persons who execute their duties according to My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully, without envy, become free from the bondage of fruitive (materially self-interested) actions.”

    “But those who, out of envy, disregard these teachings and do not follow them are to be considered bereft of all knowledge, befooled, and ruined in their endeavors for perfection.”

    “Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows the nature he has acquired from the three modes (goodness, passion and ignorance). What can repression accomplish?”

    “There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.” (Bg 3. 28-34)

    The dualities of attachment and aversion (love/hate), happiness and distress, desire and lamentation, etc. are the result of actions inspired by selfish acts aimed at dominating and controlling persons and material objects for personal gratification. One can understand with proper guidance that nothing in this world belongs to any individual person, but that everything belongs to God, the Supreme Lord. Acting in such consciousness of God, one does not falsely claim proprietorship for oneself, family, ethnic group, nation, or humanity, etc. With such elevated consciousness one realizes that it is impossible to be happy independent of the cooperation of God because the eternal constitutional position of the living entity is to become subordinate to the desires of the Lord.

    There was once a mendicant saint who entered the capital city of a king who was very proud of his material opulence. The king was very meticulous about his possessions especially his royal palace. One day he noticed that some poor people had set up a tent in the shade of his palace’s outer walls. He became upset that such rag tag people were daring to live under the shade of his palace walls. The king issued a royal order that anyone who dared infringe even on the shade of his palace walls would be put to death.

    When the saintly mendicant heard this stern decree, he decided to camp out under the shade of the king’s palace walls. News of the saint’s defiant act was reported to the king. He became outraged. Accompanied by many of his royal guards, he walked outside his palace to confront the saint. He saw the holy man reclining under the shade of the palace walls in a very relaxed mood. When the angry king approached, the saint smiled and and welcomed him with the words, “Hail to the mighty king of kings, may God protect and bless you with long life.” The king was not impressed. He began to shout, “Why do you defy my royal order? How dare you recline under the shade of my palace walls. I will have your head cut off, you insolent beggar!”
    The saint calmly looked at the king without even the slightest trace of fear. He said,

    “My dear king, how can you pretend that these palace walls belong to you?”
    “Of course, they belong to me. Everything belongs to me in my kingdom,” said the king.
    “Did it belong to you before you were born?” asked the saint.
    “It belonged to my father.”
    “And before that, who did it belong to?”
    “My father defeated Shah Abbas whose dynasty ended when he was killed.”
    “And when will your dynasty end?”
    “Stop talking nonsense you fool.”
    “Oh king, the truth is that you are temporarily staying in this palace like a renter. One day another person will replace you and then another and another. Your dynasty will also end like all the others before you. Your claim to proprietorship is an illusion,” said the saint.
    The king remained silent. The saint looked deeply into his eyes and a glow of compassion passed from the saint to the king.

    The king reflected a moment. He said, “Get out of here before I have you killed.” The saint smiled and walked slowly away.
    The saint’s words were poignantly true. We come to this world for a short time and pretend that we own and control material possessions.

    For example, there is an interesting story about the Armenian Zeytoun Bible that is the subject of litigation. See the following:

    “Armenian Church Sues Getty Over ‘Magical’ Bible
    Originally posted Jun 2nd 2010 9:12 AM PDT by TMZ Staff
    The Western branch of “the oldest organized Christian Church in the world” is suing the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A., demanding the return of 7 pages from a “magical” 750-year-old bible that was allegedly stolen during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1918.
    In documents filed yesterday in L.A. County Superior Court, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America claims The Getty Museum “acted in complete disregard” for the Church’s rights in 1994 when it bought “stolen” pages of the Zeyt’un Gospels Bible.

    The Church claims the Zeytoun Bible was created for Constantine I by “the master illuminator Toros Roslin” in 1256, and is one of Armenia’s most valued national treasures. The Church believes the book “wielded supernatural powers.”

    When the Turks invaded Armenia in 1915, the suit claims, descendants of a royal Armenian family fled with the Bible, with whom it was thought to be safe. Yet, when the Bible was returned to Armenia following WWII, 7 key pages were missing … pages that turned up at The Getty Museum.

    The Church claims it learned the Getty Museum had the pages in 2007, but the Getty has refused to return it. Now, the Church is asking the court to order the pages returned, and for damages of $35 million.”

    Proprietorship in the material world is temporary and thus illusory. We may believe we own something, but such thoughts are far from the truth. We come in this world empty-handed and we leave empty-handed. The one thing that can sustain us during our short life and after death is faith in God and His instructions. Lord Krishna says, “For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next…One who acts in devotional service, renouncing the fruits of his actions, and whose doubts have been destroyed by transcendental knowledge, is situated factually in the self. Thus he is not bound by the reactions of work…(Bg 4. 40-41)

    Reactive work or actions that are performed for self-interest without the desire to please God will always result in entangling reactions by the laws of karma or action and reaction. Such actions bind us to remain in the cycle of birth and death. Take for example the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is an interminable dispute about ownership of land. Two people claim ownership of the same piece of land. Can they resolve this dispute peacefully? If they both understand that only God is the ultimate proprietor, then they may be able to resolve the dispute. If they both claim proprietorship, the problem will never be resolved. They are in an impasse until one or the other prevails militarily.

    Previously the Ottoman Turks decided to eliminate the entire Armenian population in Anatolia. They massacred more than three quarters of the Armenian population. Although there are few Armenian families left in Anatolia and very few remains of the Armenian civilization that existed there for 4000 years, still the Armenian people continue to exist with their culture, religion and sovereign country. Massacre or genocide has never been an effective means to erase the existence of a people. The Armenian Question is still a nemesis for the Turkish government one hundred years after the attempted extermination of the Armenians by the Turks. Rather than accept responsibility for the wholesale butchery of the Armenians, the modern Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the systematic, Ottoman government planned and executed genocide.

    By nature, people like to carry out the order of a competent and intelligent person. If the mind of an individual is out of control, one becomes the servant of lust, anger, greed, and illusion and serves their whims. If however, one can control the mind and senses, then it is possible to understand that God’s instructions are the best guide for living a productive and peaceful life.
    The mind is the focus of the yoga practice. Lord Krishna says, “As the strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.” (Bg 2.67) Later Arjuna tells Krishna, “The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.”

    The mind should be directed by the superior intelligence. However, the mind can be diverted to the senses that become engaged in sense gratification and it is overwhelmed by the temporary sensations of happiness and distress. A human being has five highly developed senses and anyone one of which can detract the mind from the form-direction of the superior intelligence. In material existence one is subjected to the influence of the mind and senses. The pure soul becomes entangled in the material world because the mind is influenced by the false ego. Ego means “I am.”

    It is that subtle aspect of every individual that attempts to identify oneself or affirms a personal identity. When one identifies the “I am” with matter and affirms “I am this body, this family, this ethnic group, this nation, this car, this house, this bank account, this woman’s husband, this child’s father, this music, this type of behavior, this clothing style, this etc.” then the individual wrongly identifies with temporary material things and becomes wrongly directed toward dominating and enjoying such things.

    The real ego is identifying oneself as the eternal servant of God as Lord Jesus did by dedicating Himself to serving the will of His Father. Jesus demonstrated the correct identification of self or real ego. He engaged solely in serving His heavenly Father and was liberated or resurrected from the dead and rose to heaven to the right side of His Father for eternity.

    The mind should be trained so that it will not be attracted by the glitter of material nature. The senses should be engaged in positive acts of devotion and avoid as much as possible or minimize sensual actives that excite the senses and inflame the mind to excessively gratify oneself. Alcoholic drinks, drugs, pornography, gambling, meat, obsessive desire to get rich and own many gadgets, the attempt to accumulate power, prestige and fame, quest for domination and control over others are all different aspects of the false ego’s attempts lord it over nature and enjoy. A general rule of life is “the more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence.”

    The Vedic wisdom says “For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from sense objects is the cause of liberation.” (Amrta-bindu Upanisad)

    A example of a controlled mind detached from sense objects that leads to liberation, is Lord Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the desert. The devil appeared before Him and tried to tempt Him to forsake His Father God and trust him. Lord Jesus was offered three temptations:
    1. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Mt 4:3 – 4) Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

    Materialistic persons often challenge believers to show some miracle so that they can be convinced to have faith. The devil similarly challenges Lord Jesus to show a miracle so that he may believe in Him. He asks Jesus to use His Godly powers for himself by turning stones to bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus’ answer was profound. The life of a servant of God is one of inspiration and faith based on the word of God. If one follows the word of God simply for a living or for a material purpose, his faith can easily be shaken by material adversity. Lord Jesus demonstrates that the life of a true believer is guided not by material motives, but by faith and adherence to the word of God.

    There is a beautiful prayer in Bengali by the 17th century saint Narottam das Thakur that says, “My only wish is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from his (spiritual master’s) lotus mouth.” The spiritual master is the representative of God who repeats the His words or the revealed scriptures without any change.

    Lord Jesus as the son of God was not tempted by the devil’s challenge because He took shelter in the words of the Bible. The Devil demanded to see a miracle before he was willing to believe in God.

    The life of a believer however is based on faith in the word of God. He becomes more steadfast by following the teachings through self control, daily practice and good association of other believers. When one is guided daily by the words of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, one sees the hand of God guiding him at every step. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, God gives the knowledge by which one comes to Him to the sincere believer who endeavors honestly to follow His instructions. God’s mercy to His servant is to give the intelligence by which one makes the right decisions to stay on the path leading to Him and not be sidetracked by temporary temptations for sense gratification.

    There are three things that can tempt a person: profit, distinction and adoration.
    These three desires are prominent in the life of a person who has strong desires for sexual enjoyment. To make oneself more attractive, one seeks profit or money, distinction and eventually worship. The wife of Mao Zedong, Jiang Qing, once said that better than sex is worship (receiving worship). Dictators such as Hitler, Mao, Stalin and others demanded worship which gave them an intense thrill.

    Lord Jesus was not interested either in sense gratification, nor its concomitant factors such as profit, distinction and adoration. He was more interested in serving the will of God than serving His own bodily needs. Lord Krishna says, “…without sacrifice one can never live happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next.(Bg 4.31) Jesus was immune to the devil’s temptations because of His unflinching determination to serve His Father.

    2. Next, the devil demonstrated his ability to cite scripture (the Bible) and use it to tempt Jesus. He quoted, “He will give his angels charge of you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91) Satan took Jesus to the highest point of the temple and challenged him to hurl himself down. Jesus refused to put Himself to the test. (Mt 4:5 – 7) Jesus also quoted a Bible verse, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”  (Deuteronomy 6:16)

    The devil, like many people today, wants God to reveal Himself without having the appropriate humility and surrender to the will of God so that such a revelation can happen. The process to create a favorable exchange between the student and the pure teacher is explained by Lord Krishna, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service to him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” (Bg 4.34) The student must have preliminary qualities such as humility or submissiveness to show he is free of false prestige. Then he can ask important questions and render service to the teacher. Such qualities as submissiveness, unselfish service and asking important questions encourage the teacher to reveal confidential knowledge to the student. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual teacher is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned teacher will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses him with genuine spiritual understanding.

    Passing the test of the spiritual master or teacher is essential. There are two stories that illustrate this crucial point. The first one shows what happens when one fails the test.
    There was a disciple of a guru. One day a farmer came with his horse. The horse had a huge bulge in his neck and could hardly breathe. The farmer begged the guru to save the life of his only horse on which his livelihood depended. The guru examined the bulge and called his disciple to bring a wooden hammer. The guru said a prayer and give a loud bang on the bulge with the hammer. The horse seemed to choke and then swallow. The bulge disappeared and the horse was cured of its choking for breath.

    The disciple picked up the hammer and immediately left the guru. He wrongly concluded that the hammer had magical powers and could cure all diseases and afflictions. He went to a far off village and set up shop as a miracle cure-all doctor. The next day, a man came with a terrible infection and swelling to get a cure from the new miracle doctor. The disciple said, “I have the cure for your ailment.” He raised the hammer, said a prayer and whacked the swollen neck infection of the man with his guru’s wooden hammer. The force of the hammer strike was so powerful that the man died of a broken neck. The relatives of the sick man called the police who arrested the miracle doctor. The trial date was set. The miracle doctor claimed he learned his medical practice from his guru who was also summoned to appear on the court date. When the day arrived, the first witness was the guru. The judge asked him why he taught his disciple such a crude treatment protocol as striking a man with a wooden hammer. The guru smiled and explained to the judge. “Sir, I am not a teacher of medical science. I am a spiritual master. However, one day a farmer came to see me with his horse. The animal had somehow swallowed a coconut and was choking to death. I simply cracked the coconut with my wooden hammer so that the animal could swallow it. My disciple saw an opportunity to get rich. He grabbed the hammer without understanding what happened and left without my permission. He wrongly concluded that the hammer had some magical curative powers. He is a rascal and deserves whatever punishment you give him for his crime.”

    The next story illustrates the importance of genuine humility by the disciple before acceptance of a spiritual teacher. There was once a very famous scholar of astrology in India. He had a reputation of being the greatest astrologer and erudite mathematician of India during his time. The astrologer’s father was a famous and learned holy man. One day the father instructed his son that he should become the disciple of such and such guru. The obedient son immediately approached the guru and asked for initiation as his disciple. The guru informed him that he was not qualified to become his guru because he (the guru) was illiterate and the young man was the most literate and famous astrologer and mathematician. People would laugh that such an erudite young man took initiation from an illiterate guru. The astrologer agreed and left. He returned to see his father and explained what happened. The father became very upset and ordered his son to return and beg for initiation. He warned his son to not return unless he was initiated by the so- called illiterate guru.

    The astrologer was dismayed. He had never seen his father so upset and adamant. He became fearful of being rejected a second time. He realized that the illiterate guru was a man of unparalleled spiritual purity. The astrologer realized that the illiterate guru had rejected him not because of his claimed ignorance. He was a fully self-realized soul. The guru must have detected that he (the astrologer) was falsely proud of his education. Such pride blinded him from understanding the spiritual purity and power of the guru. With his father’s help, the astrologer became determined to become the illiterate guru’s disciple.

    When the illiterate guru was walking across a bridge that crossed a tributary of the Ganges, the astrologer ran toward him and fell at his feet. He begged him for initiation. The guru insisted again that he was not qualified to initiate such a well-educated young scholar. The astrologer then began to cry. He implored the guru to initiate him. He explained that he was a fool who was puffed with with false pride due to his education. Actually he knew nothing about genuine spirituality. He needed the help and guidance of a genuine guru. He was so desperate to receive the mercy of the guru that he was prepared to commit suicide if the guru refused him again. The guru looked at him carefully with his penetrating glance. He said again that he was not qualified. The astrologer stepped up to put his leg over the fence of the bridge as if to ready himself to jump. He said again, “Please, I beg you, accept me as your most fallen and humble disciple. I cannot live without your guidance. How can I ever overcome my false pride and arrogance unless you discipline me and guide me. The guru was please by his determination and sincerity. He said, “Very well, follow me, my son.”

    The second story illustrates the importance of accepting a spiritual guide with humility and submissiveness. The life of Jesus illustrates the seriousness of accepting the instructions of God with humility and submissiveness. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed to His Father, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”(Luke 22:41-42). The word “cup” is interpreted to mean “death on the cross.” Jesus expressed a certain reluctance to be crucified. Yet, when he says, “not my will, but yours” to mean that Christ desired not to go to the cross, but He was willing to set aside his own desires and instead follow God’s will that He be crucified. Jesus manifested the ideal behavior of a disciple who in spite of his own personal preference, is willing to abandon all personal considerations to serve the will of His Father (or the spiritual instructor).

    The challenging attitude of the devil disqualified him to receive spiritual knowledge from Jesus. Both the teacher and the student must be qualified by following the spiritual path which requires self-control, discipline, self-sacrifice and a soft heart of compassion, freedom from fanaticism and ill-reasoned opinions not based on scriptural evidence.

    The basic discipline to follow is avoiding the four activities of sinful life: illicit sex, gambling and philosophical speculation, meat eating, intoxication. One must replace these sinful activities with spiritual endeavors: regularly reciting the holy scriptures and discussing them, eating only sanctified vegetarian foods offered first to God, reciting and glorifying the name of God and engaging in acts of devotion under the guidance of a genuine spiritual teacher. A teacher or disciple who smokes, drinks, eats meat and philanders cannot understand, teach or comprehend higher order spiritual truths. The devil failed the test.

    3. The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

    The false ego has two aspects: one is the desire to dominate and control nature and men, and two is to enjoy what one controls and in the process become strongly attached to the temporary things or people one enjoys. Thus an eternal individual soul becomes hopelessly entangled with the temporary material objects and mortal persons that he pretends to dominate.
    The devil tried to tempt Jesus with dominion and control of all the kingdoms of the world. Such a desire is the root cause of man’s false ego, which is an attempt to own and control part or all of God’s creation. If one has a wrong concept of proprietorship thinking “something belongs to me” when in reality everything belongs to God, such a person will endeavor to “steal” God’s property. Everything in creation is meant to be used for the pleasure of God. When we use things for our own selfish pleasures, we commit sinful activities and become prisoners of our own lust and greed and the laws of material nature entangle us in the cycle of birth and death.

    The devil asked Jesus to serve him instead of God, he offered the false promise of dominion over God’s creation. Such a desire is “criminal” and thus punishable if one acts on it. Sinful life begins by forgetting God’s dominion over everything and attempting to own, control and enjoy separate from Him. Our life of suffering begins when we believe such a false premise and use it as the guiding principle of our life.

    The correct premise about the purpose of life is the following. Like Adam and Eve, we wrongly used our limited free will and chose to disobey God’s instructions. Our free will is limited to accepting or rejecting God’s instructions. By accepting to follow God’s instructions, we are protected by Him and can live eternally in His transcendental abode without anxiety and fully immersed in the loving acts of reciprocal exchanges with God and His eternal servants. By rejecting, we come to the material world of birth and death where we are given an opportunity to pretend we are a “little god” who tries to establish dominion and control over some small part of the temporary material creation and attempt to enjoy it separately from God. But the truth is that the material world is actually a prison where the inmates are given a chance to correct their false mentality of selfish proprietorship and illicit enjoyment through self-realization and acts of devotion to God.

    The beginning of self-realization is understanding that one’s real identity is not the temporary changing body, but the eternal soul within the body that manifests as consciousness. When the consciousness is contaminated with false concepts, the individual tries to compete with God for dominion in the material world. When the consciousness is purified, the individual becomes the servant of God and employs everything material in the service of God for His pleasure. The eternal individual soul within the body is the servant of the eternal individual God who accompanies him as the witness and overseer of everything he does.

    Jesus demonstrated that the false of promises of the devil must be rejected when we are trained properly in understanding our real position in this world. We have come here because we turned against God by disregarding His instructions. This errant mentality can be corrected at any time and we can adjust our thoughts and activity to use everything in creation in the service of God without entertaining any false concepts of ourselves as anything but the eternal servant of God. Just as a cashier in a bank receives the cash box in the morning. He proceeds to accept deposits and pay out disbursements all day. At no time does the honest cashier think that the bank’s cash box belongs to him. At the end of the day, the cashier fills out the credit and balance sheet and returns the cash box intact with the correct balance. At the end of the month, the cashier receives a salary for services rendered. If the cashier takes some money from the box for his own enjoyment, he becomes a thief and is prosecuted. If he works honestly never considering wrongly that the bank’s money belongs to him, he is never entangled in legal actions and can live peacefully and without anxiety. Trouble and anxiety is caused by attempting to take something that doesn’t belong to us.

    The temptation of Jesus by the devil is very instructive because it demonstrates the ways and means to free ourselves from the cycle of birth and death in the material world. Understanding and following the example of Jesus, the Son of God, and other great saintly persons in Vedic history is the only way we can free ourselves of illusory concepts and rightly be situated in the service of God and eternal salvation.

  • They went toward the odor of the BBQ, but it turned out to be the burial of an ass

    khorovadzee hohdee kuhnatzeen, ehss eheen taghghoum

    This is a very witty proverb that brilliantly illustrates the dry folk humor of Armenia. The BBQ is one of the favorite pastimes of Armenia. Roasting a dead carcass is a real treat for Armenians. But, in truth, it is a dead carcass being roasted on a fire. Is there any difference between the carcass of a dead and decaying ass being laid to rest or a dead ass being roasted on a charcoal fire? Both have the fetid smell of decaying flesh.

    Imagine the surprise! Instead of joining a barbecue, the persons following their nose found the carcass of the decaying ass being placed in a grave.

  • What God has written can never be erased.

    asdvadzuh yeteh kuhradzeh, togh avreh – literally, if God has written it, try to destroy it.

    This proverb means that it is impossible to change or destroy the word of God. Of course, so many cleaver people try to destroy or alter the word of God beginning with the devil in the Garden of Eden. Yet, the truth of God’s words always prevails in time.

    There is another Armenian proverb that says, “God is always with the righteous.” (asdvadzuh sheedageen hed eh)

    If we remain faithful to the word of God then all problems in life will be resolved and those who sincerely follow will see the truth of God’s word in all things. The following is an opinion I have written that underlines the basic flaw in modern man’s thinking that has caused untold suffering. Simply realigning ourselves to the truth of God’s proprietorship over all things in existence can cure the ills of mankind.

  • Neither should the skewer burn nor the roast

    vohch sahmpouruh ayreeh, vohch khorovadzuh

    This is a good wish that when two people are partners in a business neither one or the other should not be burned or a loser. It conveys the meaning that the business partners should both prosper.

  • Don’t see the devil (death) and don’t read your resignation

    vohchuh sadanahn dehs yev vohchuh ahl huhrahjahreemkuh garthah

    This is a negative way to say something positive. In other words, may you never see the devil (death) and may you never read your resignation.

  • May God protect this child, and may the priest marry the child when grown to maturity

    dehruh bahheh, dehrdheruh buhsageh

    This is a pari maghtuhk or good wish one may say to the parents of a young child. May the Lord protect your child, and may the priest marry this child in due time.

  • With a good heart wish for a cow for your neighbor, that God may give you two

    pari seerdov tuhratzeeit haseevin gohv muh tzangah vor astduhvahdz kezi yergou dah

  • May tragedy remain far away

    Portsank Herou muhnah

    A street person once asked me for a handout. I was distributing free food that day. I gave a a plate with a large amount of delicious cooked food. After he ate, he approached me and asked respectfully, “Is there any advice you can give me that will help me out of my misery?”

    Three advises

    Only ask God because no one else can give you but God.

    Wealth and knowledge are acquired with patience and perseverance as a cup is filled with water drop by drop.

    Never give up.  Something of value is attained by humble and determined action helped along by the mercy of God.

    He thought carefully about the three points, but he was still trying to comprehend how they would help him. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. How can one remedy a situation wherein we are our own worst enemy due to weakness. Human weakness requires more than good advice. There needs to be the loving touch of a person or persons whose protective warmth and affection encourages the soul and gives hope for bettering ourselves. Without the personal touch and continual good example of caring persons, all the advice in the world remains theoretical and distant. The greatest civilizing force in this world is love, not exactly law. Laws are necessary, but love makes them pertinent to our lives and inspires us to follow them. I realized the best way I could help a fellow being and myself was to express my respectful affection for God and His sacred creatures. The simple way to do this from my experience is to give and receive gifts, give and receive food, and share and listen to endearing thoughts about the goodness of God and all His children. These six are clean and gentile types of loving exchanges that everyone who needs to be in an environment of love can easily accept without compromising their integrity or self-respect. After thinking like this I looked at the man and said, “Share the love that God is giving you with others, then you will be healed of all misgivings.” He was able to understand this because he saw an example of my friends and I trying to do this very thing. Example speaks louder than precept. Our example instructs or destructs more than our words. If the example is steady and uninterrupted, then people take it seriously.

  • Don’t give the evil eye

    Achkt (eye) mi uhneer

  • Scratch your butt

    Vorut khereh

    My mother would always say this after a good wish or successful occasion. It means literally scratch your behind so that good luck does not stop shining on you. My mother would also say, “Knock on wood,” as if this also would preserve one’s good luck.

  • May I draw your pain to me

    Tsavuh kashem

  • May I bear your pain or burden (or take away your pain)

    Tsavut daneem

  • For the person who wishes me ill, let God shower His goodness on him

    Kesh ouzoghin asduhvadzuh pari togh dah

  • May you receive a thousand more gifts and may they be used (to your satisfaction) or May this gift be renewed a thousand times and may it become old (or used a thousand times to your satisfaction)

    Hazaruh nor uhlah hazaruh hin uhlah

    Whenever anyone receives a gift, the onlookers say “Hazaruh nor ehlah hazaruh hin ehlah – May you receive a thousand more gifts and may they be used (to your satisfaction) or May this gift be renewed a thousand times and may it become old (or used a thousand times to your satisfaction).” This is a pari maghtunk – a good wish.

 

good-deeds

  • Drink water (to digest it)

    vuhrayehn chour khuhmeh

    When an endeavor is hopeless or will have a negative impact, one uses this saying to indicate that the effort should be renounced or one should give up hope to achieve it.

    There are other sayings that have the same meaning such as vuhrahn keedz kahsseh – draw a line or x over it; and, vuhrahss kuhreh – write it (off) on me.

  • The heart of a good person and the depth of the ocean are both for us profoundly deep

    pahree martoun seeduh yehv dzohvoun ahntountuh, yehrgooshsnahl mehz hamar chahpehn ahveli khorh yehn

  • Do good, and even if you throw it into the water, it will return to you one day- a story by Hovhaness Toumanian

    There was and there wasn’t a poor man who worked for a fisherman. By working from early morning to late afternoon, he was able to earn six fish a day, He sold four and kept two to feed his wife and himself. It was a meager life, but he earned enough to live without begging.

    One day, the fisherman caught a colorful, small fish. He told his helper to put the fish away safely. The poor helper looked at the fish and began to reflect,

    “This young fish must be scared. It surely has feelings of sorrow and joy and love of family like us humans. How sad it is that we brutally catch such small creatures for our selfish needs.”

    The fish began to speak to the poor man with a human voice.

    “Brother Man, I was happily playing with my friends and forgot to be careful. The fisherman caught me in his net. My parents and young friends are certainly in anxiety, praying I am not caught by the cruel fisherman. But alas, I am out of the water, suffering and dying. Please have mercy on me. Throw me back into the cool, refreshing waters of the river so I can grow up for the pleasure of my parents.”
    The little fish gasped for its last breath.

    The poor man felt sorry for the little fish. He threw the fish back into the river and said,

    “Go my littler friend and play again with the other fish. I don’t want your anxious parents waiting in vain for you.”

    The fisherman, saw the poor man throw the fish back into the river, became upset.

    “I work so hard to catch the fish and you throw it back again into the water. I don’t want you to work for me anymore. Go away and never come back again.”

    The poor man returned home saddened and depressed. Deep in his thoughts of self pity, he was stopped by a human-like monster with a young cow. The poor man was frightened by the monster’s ugly mien.

    “Hello,” said the Monster. “Why are you looking so sad.”

    The poor man told his story. He was depressed because he did not know how he would earn a living. He was even more discouraged about telling his frail wife.

    “I might be able to help you,” said the Monster. “I will let you borrow my cow for three years. She will give you ample supply of nutritious milk everyday so that you and your wife never go hungry. There is
    one condition. After the three years are up, I will come and ask you some questions. If you can answer them, the cow will be yours for the keeping. If you cannot answer the questions, you and your wife will belong to me. I will do whatever I want with you. Will you accept my offer?”

    The poor man thought about his desperate condition. “I’ll take the cow, Sir,” he said. “My wife and I can live for three years and then we will see if I can answer your questions.” He took the cow and went back to his modest home.

    The three years passed quickly. The cow supplied plenty of milk as promised.

    The poor man and his sat were worried thinking that the Monster would soon arrive. They did not have the confidence that they would answer his questions. As the fateful day approached, they were
    in deep anxiety about their fate.

    One evening, a handsome youth approached their home. He knocked on the door. They were at first afraid he was the Monster. To their relief, he turned out to be a very gentle young man looking for a place to stay the night. They warned him, however, that something terrible might occur during the night. They told the young man, “We borrowed a wonderful cow from a Monster for three years. The three year period is over tonight. The Monster will come to our door and ask us questions. If we answer the questions correctly, the cow will belong to us and the Monster will go away. If we can’t answer the questions, the Monster will take us as his servant for the rest of our lives. You must not stay here so that no harm comes to you.”

    The youth insisted he would share their destiny saying, “Whatever happens to you, will happen to me too.”

    At midnight, there was a loud knock at the door. “Who is there,” said the poor man.

    It is me, the Monster. Three years are over, now you must answer my questions.”

    The poor man said to his wife, “I am afraid we will not be able to answer his questions.”

    The young man spoke to the couple, “Please don’t fret, I’ll answer the questions of the Monster.”
    He went to the door.

    The Monster getting impatient called out, “I am waiting for you.”

    The youth replied from behind the closed door, “And I am here ready to answer your questions.”

    The Monster said, “Where are you from?”

    “From over the Sea.”

    “How did you get here?”

    “Riding a lame flea.”

    “Then the Sea must have been very small.”

    “Not at all. Even an eagle couldn’t fly over it.”

    “Then the eagle must have been a fledgling.”

    “Not at all. The shadow of his wings covers a whole city!”

    “Then the city must be very small.”

    “Not at all. A hare couldn’t run from one end of it to another.”

    “Then that hare must be a very small one.”

    “Not at all. Its hide would be large enough to make a fur coat for a grown-up man, and a warm cap as well.”

    “Then the man must be a dwarf.”

    “Not at all. If a cock were to crow at his feet, the sound of the cock’s crowing would not reach the man’s ears, he is so tall.”

    “Then the man must be deaf.”

    “Not at all. He could hear a deer grazing on a blade of grass, far away in the mountains.”

    The Monster was confounded. He didn’t know what questions to ask ask. He stood at the door in silence, then disappeared into the dark night.

    The poor man and his wife were amazed.

    When dawn came, the young man prepared to leave.

    “Please stay with us,” said the couple. “You saved our lives. Let us serve you with hospitality and thank you.”

    “You don’t have to thank me. I must be on my way,” replied the young man.

    “Then please tell us who you are,” pleaded the poor man.

    “Do you remember the proverb, ‘Do good, and even if you throw it into the water, it will return to you one day?” I am that little talking fish that you showed kindness to and threw back into the river!”

    Before the couple had time to fully understand his words, he vanished.

 

gold

  • A gold coin is small but its value great (literally – a gold coin is small, but its price is heavy)

    vohssgeen mahnuhr eh, keenuh dzahnuhr eh

  • The goldsmith knows the value of gold

    vohsgou ahrzehkuh vohgehreechuh geehmahnah

god

  • Start by the known to understand the unknown

    keetdzadzeet mahseen khosheh vohr cheekitdzadzeet hahsguhnahs

    A young man (18 years old) who was one week away from starting college listened to a talk I was giving about the existence of God. He asked an impassioned question, “How can you prove that God exists? How can you convince an atheist that there is a real God? How can you convince a man who is an expert of material science that there is a supernatural God?

    I asked the young man three questions that I considered important to establish a foundation on which I would base my answer. He answered them all in the affirmative.

    “Do you believe that there are phenomenon that exist that you cannot see or hear?”

    “Yes, I do. There are radio waves or electromagnetic waves that can transmit information. A human being does not perceive them unless there is a radio antenna which can pick up the radio signals along with a radio tuner or resonator that can tune in to a particular frequency. There are also television waves and many other wavelengths and frequencies that can transmit images along with information.”

    “Would you admit that your senses of perception are limited in their ability to receive information?”

    “Yes, I know that the senses of a human being have a limitation on their range of perception. My eyes can’t see what is on the other side of a wall. Human ears have a limited range of perception of sounds in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.”

    “If a tree falls down and kills someone in a foreign country, how can you know that such an event actually happened?”

    “If the evening news reports the event, I can know it happened.”

    “Can you verify if it happened?”

    “Most probably not, I won’t have the time or desire to travel to the foreign country to verify the event.”

    “Then the only way you have knowledge of the event is by trusting the authority of the
    news organization that reports it.”

    “Yes.”

    “Therefore, we can assume that most of the information that we receive is based on trust in the authority of a person which can be a news anchor or news agency, a university professor, an author, a relative or anyone we accept as a trusted expert.”

    When I attended a science class in elementary school, I learned that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth. To this day, I have never verified on my own if the distance from the earth to the sun is truly 93 million miles. In order to pass a science test, I was given a multiple choice question: “How far is the sun from the earth?” The choices were 93 miles, 9,300 miles, 93,000 miles or 93 million miles. I answered 93 million miles. I received an A on my test for the correct answer. Yet, I never verified if the sun is actually 93 million miles or 92.5 million miles or 93.5 million miles away from the earth. I will never know for sure. It is also a fact that scientists may improve their instruments or techniques of measurement and later say that the sun is 98 million miles away.

    The question of verification is crucial. “How does one really know that something is true or false. One may receive knowledge from a trusted authority, but how can one verify that it is factual. Sometimes even authorities make mistakes or they may mislead others for their own purposes.

    An authority is a person who has knowledge of a subject. There are two main categories of knowledge which are mundane knowledge and transcendental knowledge.

    Mundane knowledge of this material world based on human observation, measurement and experimentation is always evolving because of the four fundamental defects of every human observer. The defects are: man makes mistakes; he is easily subject to illusion; he has imperfect or limited senses of perception; he has a cheating propensity. Material knowledge is often seen to be true in a limited frame of reference, but when the frame of reference increases, it is no longer true. Therefore, it is relative to certain conditions. An example is Newton’s three laws of motion that form the basis of classical mechanics.
    Transcendental knowledge concerns knowledge of what is beyond this material universe. The eternal spiritual world is beyond the capacity of observation, measurement and experimentation of man’s limited senses. Man cannot even observe and measure the full extent of the material universe, then how can he understand the spiritual world which is beyond the range of normal observation? Therefore, it is necessary to take assistance of the Vedas, which are coming from the highest authority Krishna, the Supreme Lord of the spiritual and material worlds.

    The Vedic knowledge is not experimental knowledge arrived at by men with imperfect senses. It is the truth that can be verified by men with imperfect senses by acceptance and practical application in their life. There are three criterions or conditions that are required to be sure that a statement of transcendental fact is true. First, the fact must be stated in the Vedas of which the highest threshold of authority are the Upanisads, the Srimad Bhagavatam, and the Bhagavad-gita. Second, authorized Vaisnava acaryas (saintly teachers) confirm and exemplify the same principles given in the Vedas. The acaryas come in the line of disciplic succession of Brahma, Sri Laxsmi, the four Kumaras and Lord Siva. The four Vaisnava lineages accept that Lord Krishna or Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although the four sampradayas affirm the same truth, the lineage of Brahma in which Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared has preserved the most evolved representation of the transcendental reality. Third, the statements and actions of the present teacher or guru is in accordance and confirms the first two. There is a triangle of confirmation with three points that must concur: sastra (Vedic scripture), sadhu (previous saints in disciplic succession) and guru (the present teacher). When these three conditions are confirmed, one can be assured that the transcendental knowledge one receives is true for all time and in all conditions unless there is a caveat that the particular knowledge is limited to certain conditions.

    Mundane knowledge is always conditioned by the three modes of material nature and thus is full of imperfections and limitations. Transcendental knowledge is free of any taint by the three modes of material nature.

    If we accept transcendental knowledge from the Vedas confirmed by previous acaryas and the present bona fide guru, then we can directly acknowledge that God exists and is real and eternally the Supreme Personality. If someone does not accept the authority of the Vedas, then we can use the method of speaking about the known to understand the unknown.

    We begin with the most simple and direct presentation by asking a skeptical person if they believe they are a person. Most people will admit that they are a distinct person. I have, however, met people who deny that they are a person. In those cases, I ask them what they would do if I urinated on them or beat them with a stick. They invariably say, they would resist or protest or protect themselves or fight back. This proves that they are a distinct person because a chair or wall would not protest. Next, I ask, “Are your mother and father persons and their mothers and fathers and so on back in your family lineage.” If they answer yes. I then ask, “Do you think anyone one of your previous relatives was a non-person?” Most of the time, they answer no. Therefore, the original person is God. Once a person admits that they are a distinct individual, it is not difficult to prove the existence of God, the original person or ancestor.

    In some cases, people argue that they believe that their original ancestor might have been a monkey or a single celled bacteria, etc. They insist that God is a character out of a fairy tale and that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution explains the origin of all species without any need or reference to God. The following six steps of logical thought will help an atheist accept that there is a superior intelligent being in the universe that is the author of universal laws that govern all movements.

    1. Descartes, a French philosopher, eliminated everything in his thoughts of which he could not be sure of its existence. H arrived at the following conclusion after eliminating everything but one: “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum which means in French – “Je pense donc Je suis”; English: “I think, therefore I am,”is a philosophical Latin statement proposed by René Descartes. The simple meaning of the phrase is that someone wondering whether or not he exists is, in and of itself, proof that he does exist – at the very least, there must be an “I” who does the thinking. The phrase became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it can form a foundation for all knowledge. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception or mistake, the very act of doubting one’s own existence serves as proof of the reality of one’s own existence, or at least that of one’s thought.

    2. I can understand from the above that I exist as a thinker and observer. I observe things and thus there is a difference between the seer and the seen. I see objects. Therefore, there is a difference between the objects I see and myself as the seer. For example, I see my arm. If my arm is detached from my body, I continue to see it. It is obvious that there is a difference between the seer and the seen. Whether my arm is attached to my body or not, I still am the seer and I am different than the object I see.

    3. The objects I perceive, the organs I use to perceive and the process of
    perception have all been supplied to me. I did not create them, nor do I understand, control or maintain them. Therefore, I am not independent in the process of perception. For example, I use the internet. I did not create the internet, I do not control or own the internet, nor do I understand how the internet works. Yet, I am able to use the internet. My use of the internet depends on many other people and organizations that control it. I am dependent on them to use it. The same applies to my ability to perceive.

    4. My power of seeing or perception is limited. Every human being is born with four fundamental defects: we make mistakes, we are subject to illusion, our senses are imperfect and we have a cheating propensity. Thus we are conditioned by our body and the forces of nature that influence our body. We are dependent and limited. We cannot see around corners or through walls or at a great distance. We can’t hear radio waves unless we have a radio. We can’t see television waves unless we have a television. Our senses are limited. Even with powerful instruments to help us extend our perception, our senses are still limited.

    5. The seer is fundamentally different than the seen by virtue of the fact that the seer feels dissatisfaction due to the limitations of conditioned material existence. For example, a golfer is about to putt the golf ball into the hole. He carefully putts but the ball misses the hole. He feels dissatisfaction and frustration. The golf ball, however, feels nothing because it does not possess consciousness like the golfer. The consciousness of the golfer expressed by his dissatisfaction at missing the putt indicates that the golfer is different than the golf ball. The golf ball is made of a combination of matter but does not possess consciousness. The golfer is dissatisfied because he has consciousness.

    Consciousness is more than a combination of matter. The golfer’s body like the golf ball is made of matter, but there is another dimension in the body of the golfer that is not a product of material combination. That is his consciousness. Feelings of love, attachment, dissatisfaction, etc. indicate that a person has a non-material dimension that perceives and feels experiences in the material body. These conscious feelings can radically alter one’s behavior and expressions.

    The fact that consciousness is not a product of material combination is evident at the moment of death. Right before death, a person is still conscious. When the person dies, the body loses consciousness. After death, it becomes evident that consciousness is not merely a combination of matter because the same material body is still present but it is lacking consciousness. If the body and consciousness are both merely a combination of chemicals, then why can’t the doctors revive the body by injecting whatever chemicals are missing? The answer is that consciousness is not a product of material combination. In fact, why don’t scientists carefully measure a body before and right after death to determine what chemicals are missing so that they can inject them into the body of the deceased and revive him? Obviously, they have tried but they cannot succeed in manipulating chemicals to stop death or bring a dead body back to life. Therefore, the golf ball is simply a combination of matter, but the golfer is matter animated by consciousness which is the symptom of an individual non-material soul.

    6. Something cannot be animate without an intelligent person behind it. Intelligence gives direction like a higher authority. A living being cannot see or move or eat or do anything without the use of intelligence. Everyone is dependent on their own intelligence or that of a superior being.

    For example, a boy purchases a scale model train set. He assembles it at home. He connects the electrical control panel to an electrical outlet and begins to enjoy running the train. The train moves forward or backward and comes to a halt by the will of the boy. The boy did not create the train set. The boy purchased the set that was created and manufactured by other persons who had the superior intelligence to design and manufacture it. The boy simply assembled the train set according to instructions by the manufacturer and then enjoys running it by his will.

    There are three things to note: there is matter that can be organized and manipulated, there is the intelligence of an individual living being (the boy in this example), and there is the superior intelligence of the person or persons that conceived and made the train set.

    Similarly, there is a superior intelligence that has ordered this world that we live in. Due to the incredible engineering of this world, we are able to function in it and use the many facilities that seem to be automatic. Like the boy and the train set, or the user of the internet, we do not understand how the world works, but we are able to use it or order a small part of it according to our will. There is the law of gravity, the principles of aerodynamics, thermodynamics, the precise movement of planets, tides, etc., that are studied by scientists who then produce different conveyances based on the pre-existing laws and principles that govern the universe. The scientist abstracts the architectural designs and universal laws he sees in nature; then, by using his intelligence he collects the raw materials existing in nature and transforms them to make an airplane, car, or computer. In summary, he studies the amazing ingenuity of the superior intelligent being in the universe and attempts to imitate it on a much smaller scale. It is evident that there is a superior scientist with superior intelligence that has ordered the universe and is maintaining it in a wonderful way. The scientists of this world simply imitate what they observe.

    Without intelligence nothing can move. For example, I purchase all the materials for building a house and then store them on an empty lot ready to build it. But, if I follow the Darwinian principles of natural selection, genetic mutation, trial and error and random combination and permutation and hope that my house will be built by chance, it will never happen. Do you think the house will be built on my plot of land like Darwin claims the species evolved or modern followers of him claim the world was created by chance? Unless there are superior intelligent persons to direct the construction of the house and the workers to do it, it will never be built. It certainly cannot be constructed by the building materials themselves or by chance occurrence of events! Matter can only move because of superior intelligence moving and guiding it in a precise way.

    We can safely and logically conclude that something cannot be animate without an intelligent person behind it. Therefore, there is a supremely intelligent person behind the entire material creation that is guiding it and his subordinates at every step. Just as there are so many intelligent people in this world guiding and molding matter into many conveyances for their purposes.

    Let say I walk into the Microsoft campus and declare that the computer software company began by accident and developed by itself and that no intelligent individual(s) was behind its creation, development and continuation. What do you think the response would be? It is obvious that a psychological evaluation team would be called to determine whether I was a mentally disturbed person making such outrageously false statements. It is obvious if you visit the Microsoft Campus that it was begun, developed and continuously maintained by a group of highly intelligent persons. There is no other explanation for its continued success until today. But Microsoft is insignificant in comparison with the complexity, grandeur, and incredible technology manifest in the universe.

    A man is considered crazy to express the thoughts that Microsoft started by accident and is continuing without any intelligent persons ordering and guiding it. Similarly, anyone who claims the universe with its incredible complexity and perfect movements happened by accident and that there is no intelligent superior person behind it, should also be considered crazy.

    The earth revolves on its axis about 1200 miles and hour. The earth also revolves around the sun at about 2000 miles per hour. The sun also revolves on a universal orbit at another incredible speed. All these movements are going on in a synchronized manner. The movements are so perfect that we don’t feel any shaking or discomfort. Due to the exactness of these colossal movements we are able to keep time in a precise way. These movements are ordered and maintained with a regularity that seems mysterious. Is this all going on randomly? Obviously not!

    As there is intelligence behind the movement of a car, airplane, bicycle, etc. so there is a superior intelligence behind the movement of the sun, moon, earth and all things.
    The above logical development of thought can be accepted by any honest thinker.

    To understand more specifically about the Supreme intelligent person behind the creation and maintenance of the material world and its innumerable entities, one must take guidance from Vedic authority because it is transcendental knowledge beyond our range of experience with material senses. However, we can speak of the known to understand the unknown.

    For example, we can analyze our clothing like a cotton shirt or dress that is printed with multiple colors and designs. One must first start with raw cotton which grows in nature. Humans did not create the cotton plant. We may cultivate and harvest it, but we did not create it. The raw cotton is made into thread and the thread is woven into cloth. The cloth is cut in a specific pattern and stitched. It is dyed either before the stitching or after and may also be printed with multi-colored designs. Not one step in this process is random. Now compare the complexity of the shirt to that of nature. Any sane person can understand that nature could not have been created by a random process. Thus we start by the known to understand the unknown.

  • I have no one to love

    A lonely person once met a holy man. He begged the saint to teach him wisdom by which he could overcome his loneliness and become content with his life. The saint advised him to love God with all his heart and soul. The lonely man said, “How can I love God when I have never seen Him. I don’t know anything tangible about Him.”

    The saint asked the lonely man if he loved anyone. He answered, “I have no one in my life that I love. My only comfort is the companionship of a little lamb that I care for because its mother was killed by wolves. For some unknown reason, the wolves left the lamb unharmed.”

    The saint said, “Love the little creature with all your heart and soul, and remember that God spared the lamb. The saint left.

    The lonely man pondered the words of the saint. He tended the lamb with care and affection convinced that God spared the life of the lamb to fill the void in his life. After five years, the saint returned to find the lonely man again. He was curious to know if he was satisfied with his life. The man greeted the saint with a contented smile and warm greetings. He honored the saint with kind words and offered him food and drink. The saint noticed that the man seemed transformed. His eyes were no longer sad. He spoke with a joyful tone.

    The man explained he was no longer lonely because he followed the saint’s instructions. He cared for the lamb as he would his own child and meditated on the miracle of how the lamb escaped the fate of his mother. He thought about the mysterious ways God arranges events in life. Eventually with his changed temperament he developed faith in the protective hand of God. He began to thank God everyday for filling the terrible void in his life. His continual recognition of the grace of the Almighty evolved into a genuine feeling of love for God. After all, it was God who provided him with the helpless lamb which opened his eyes to the Divine’s mysterious ways.

  • When God’s grace mercifully gazes on you, the lamb of sacrifice will come by itself to your door.

    ahsduhdzoh ahckuh vohr kaghtzur leehnee, madaghee kahruhn eerahn vodkov goukah tourrut

  • Lies are spoken to mask the truth. But, they serve later to reveal the truth.

    geghdzuh soud guh khoseh vor juhstmahrdoutioun dzahdzgeh. Paiytz juhstmahrdoutioun vehrchahbehss geghdzoutioun guh haiydneh

    A man who always lied was asked “Does truth exist?” He said, “Yes!”

    A man who always told the truth was asked, “Does truth exist?” He said, “Yes!”

    The liar was asked, “Do lies exist?” “You may qualify your statement for clarity sake.”
    He replied, “Yes,” “Lies exist for the purpose of hiding the truth.”

    The truthful man was asked, “Do lies exist?” “You may clarify your statement for clarity sake.”
    He replied, “Yes,” “Lies will eventually reveal the truth.”

    Both the liar and the honest man answered yes to both questions. The second question, however, revealed that the liar said yes to the first question to mask the truth rather than tell the truth. The motives of the two were revealed by their qualifying statements to the second question. Although they both answered yes to the second question, they had differing points of view about the outcome of a lie.
    The liar sees the lie as a way to hide the truth. The honest man considers that a lie will eventually reveal the truth.

    There is proverb in Armenian that says, “The clouds will never completely hide the sun.” The proverb reveals that the truth will eventually come out just as the sun will eventually shine through the clouds.

    An sad example of the above is the Turkish government that adamantly refuses to recognize that their predecessors, the Young Turks committed a government organized genocide against the Armenians of Turkey from 1915 to 1918. The present government of Turkey should learn from Turkish proverbs the timeless wisdom that says, “A candle that truth kindles is not extinguished though the whole world tries to blow it out. (Bir sem (mum) ki hak yaka, dunya uflese sonmez)
    Rather than attempt to rewrite history by denying the Turkish government sponsored the genocide
    of Turkey’s Armenians, the present Turkish elected officials should admit the truth knowing well that “The sun cannot be plastered with clay.” (Gunes balcikla sivanmaz) What is so obvious cannot be hidden; truth will always prevail.

    There are many governments of the world that have recognized the Turkish massacre of the Armenians. The government of Turkey reacts by threatening economic and political reprisal to those governments. But Turkish wisdom says “The eyes of a bat are hurt by light.” (rencide olunur dide-i huffas ziyadan)This proverb implies that the guilty and the ignorant dislike the truth.

    At their best, proverbs contain pearls of universal truth. Turkish proverbs are no different. More wise men of Turkey must step forward and rely on their own ancient proverbial wisdom to admit the butchery of the Armenian people was instigated and organized by the Turkish government with the goal of eliminating the Armenian from Eastern Turkey. The truth is that up until 1915, there was a slow and relentless genocide of the Armenians in Anatolia. In 1915, the Turkish government decided to finish the job by carefully organizing a genocide to finally rid the interior lands of the Armenians. It is said in Turkish, “The hangman does not know the word “mercy.”” (zalim merhamet bilmez) The Turkish government showed no mercy to the Armenians in 1915.

    It should be remembered, “Do not provoke the curse of the oppressed; it will take effect sooner or later.” (alma mazlumum ahini; cikar aheste, aheste)

    One of the greatest Muslim philosophers, named El Ghazali, wrote “The Revival of Religious Sciences” (Arabic: احياء علوم الدين‎ Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din or Ihya’ul Ulumuddin). In this book he speaks about a Muslim companion of the Prophet Muhammed named Hudhayfah. He had three qualities which particularly impressed the Prophet Muhammad; his unique intelligence, quick wit, and his ability to keep a secret even under persistent questioning. The Prophet Muhammad was to utilize the special strengths of each companion. A primary problem the Muslims encountered were hypocrites who had superficially accepted Islam while simultaneously plotting against the Muslim community. Because of Hudhayfah’s ability to keep a secret, Muhammad told him the names of the hypocrites, a trust not bestowed upon others. Hudhayfah was commissioned to watch their movements and follow their activities. The hypocrites, because their secrecy and intimate knowledge of the developments and plans of the Muslims, presented a greater threat to the community than external enemies. From this time onwards, Hudhayfah was called The Keeper of the Secret of the Messenger of Allah, remaining faithful to his pledge of secrecy.

    Hudhayfah said, “at the time of the Prophet Mohammed, there were things which made the man who repeated them a hypocrite as long as he lived. Now, however, I hear these same things repeated ten times a day, and no one seems to mind.” A certain learned man said, the person closest to hypocrisy is he who deems himself free thereof. Hudhayfah also said, hypocrites are more numerous today than they were at the time of the Prophet. At that time they used to conceal their hypocrisy; now they are not ashamed to reveal it. Such hypocrisy militates against the reality of belief as well as against its perfectness. It is something concealed and subtle: the farthest removed from it are those who are constantly afraid of it, while those who deem themselves free of it are they who are nearest to it.”

    El-Ghazzali relates a story of a man who told Hudhayfah, “Verily I fear I am a hypocrite.” To which Hudhayfah replied, “Fear not. If you were a hypocrite you would not have feared hypocrisy. Verily hypocrisy does not fear hypocrisy.”

    The attempt by the modern Turkish government to deny the massacre of the Armenians of Turkey was a genocide or planned and organized systematic extermination is the example of detestable hypocrisy. There are educated Turks who also find such hypocrisy disgusting. Yet, if they voice their opinion, they will be prosecuted for denigrating the Turkish people and government.

    Turkish wisdom says, “The candle of the tricky person is soon burned out.” (hilekarin mumu cok surmez) Yet, the Turkish government has maintained its innocence of genocide for over 90 years. In fact, Turkey accuses the Armenians of treasonous activity that justified Turkey’s “population transfer” of Armenians that results in the murder and forced death of 1.5 million Armenians. It is said in Turkish, “The crooked person who is not caught is more upright than the bey (nobleman).
    (tutulmayan ugru (hirsiz) beydan dogru)

    Material prosperity, military strength, fear-mongering and other forms of intimidation, false scholarship that attempts to alter the truth of historical record will not make a wrong right or exonerate the responsibility of genocide. The modern Turkish government must recognize and accept its responsibility for the past crimes against the Armenian people who were brutally massacred. The few survivors were forced to leave their ancient homeland of Western Armenia.

    The Turkish government should learn the wisdom from the ancient wisdom, “The ship of a liar does not sail or literally, if you descend a well with the rope of a liar, you will remain in the well.” (yalancinin ipi ile kuyuya inen, kuyu dibinde kalir)

  • OOPS – Object Oriented Programming

    Object Oriented Process for Software (Development) – OOPS

    OOPS

    It is said in the Bible that man is made in the image of God. This statement implies that by carefully studying ourselves we can understand many things about God. We can use such a process to begin to understand the mystery and complexity of the universe. A question that has always fascinated man is “How did this universe come about? There are many speculative theories about the origin of the universe. One that is invoked today is called the Big Bang Theory. Rather than imagine something that we can never prove definitively, it is better to begin with our own experience and rational sense to understand the mystery of creation. One glaring anomaly of modern scientific theories that attempt to explain the origin of the universe is that they claim there is no intelligent person guiding it.

    Man is developing new inventions every day. One example of this is the creation or development of a computer program. A popular methodology used by major software corporations for computer program creation is Object Oriented Programming also known as OOPS. A careful analysis of this methodology will reveal that creation is not something that takes place by accident or without superior intelligent guidance. No one who knows about OOPS would dare say that the creation of a computer program happens randomly without the guidance of an intelligent person. With this said, we can analyze all the complicated steps required to create a computer program.

    The purpose of OOPS is to employ a rational methodology that can avoid or quickly correct mistakes of logic or design in the process of program development. OOPS requires that each stage of development must be rigorously verified to be free of mistakes of logic or design before going to the next stage.

    The creation of a computer program begins by defining a problem. When there is a problem, there is a desire to find a solution. A project manager will consult experts in different disciplines that are related to the problem. The expert consultants will brainstorm possible solutions and present their conclusions to a core group of programming experts under the guidance of a project manager. The project manager is responsible to create a functional specification for the features of the product.
    Each of the proposed solution is evaluated and one is chosen around which all the team of experts rally to make it operational.
    The creation of a computer program begins by defining a problem. When there is a problem, there is a desire to find a solution. A program manager will consult experts in different disciplines that are related to the problem. The expert consultants will brainstorm possible solutions and present their conclusions to a core group of programming experts under the guidance of a project manager. The project manager is responsible to create a functional specification for the features of the product and each proposed solution is evaluated based on the following factors:

    -the feasibility of solving problems based on computer science
    -resource constraints such as manpower, money, time
    -review of competitors
    -study existing market competition, determine how to differentiate the new product,if necessary hire an outside company to do market research to determine what specifications of a new product will appeal to public demand
    -make sure the new product aligns with the overall strategy of the company.

    The solution that best corresponds to the above factors is chosen to produce a new product. Then, the expert consultants concentrate their efforts to make it operational.
    1- The first step after the determination is to define the functional specification for all features of the solution. The team comes up with a “high level” design of the solution. The program manager or team leader creates a plan how each particular feature of the solution will work.

    In other words, the OOPS process begins with intelligent people who define a problem and use their rational powers to find a solution. Right from the beginning of the creation or development, there is guided intelligence without any trace of accident, hazard or random combinations. Each step is guided by intelligent decision making of a team of experts.

    In a typical software program there may be from 3000 or more functions or features. Let us examine just one feature of the Internet Explorer (MS). In this program there is the Tool option. When you mouse over it there is a drop down window that shows a menu option called the pop up blocker. If you mouse over or click on it, you will see two options from which to choose. The first option is the turn on or off the pop up blocker. If you turn it on, you can proceed with the second option. This feature permits you to choose a particular website whose pop up you can accept whereas all others are blocked. There are many features like the pop up one in the Internet Explorer (MS).

    Once the functional specifications are created, there will be a review meeting where all the stake holders of the product will examine the function’s specifications. The meeting will be attended by the product manager, software architects, the development manager, the development lead, the test manager and senior developers.

    The program manager’s responsibility is to convince all the stake holders that this feature or functionality should be implemented as part of the final product. This is an example of a very minor feature of a program.

    2- In the next step, the development manager or lead will work with a product architect to create an architecture and design document. These are technical documents. The architect already has an overall product design which is the “big picture.” He knows the product’s “eco-system,” or how everything works together. He understands how the feature will impact the entire system. The architect updates the architect’s document or creates one. Once this is completed, the software development or lead will create the design of that particular feature.

    Now the architecture document (or specification) and the design document are both ready for review.

    3- A meeting of the stake holders will be called to make a review of the design and architecture. It will go on until everyone is convinced. If necessary #1 and #2 can be repeated again for other features that integrate with the one in question. After everything is done and everyone is satisfied intellectually that the feature or features are ready for the next step, the implementation phase begins.

    4- In the implementation phase or stage, the developers take the design document and start coding using computer language. Once the coding is completed , there is a code review of the implementation which is a very rigorous and tedious process. Even though this system of checks and balances is so thorough, any software consultant will admit that there has never been a new system that has been launched without “bugs.” In fact, there has never been a “bug free” software. Every man-made program is only near perfect. Software companies continually upgrade their programs to eliminate defects. But, the upgrades often create new defects and unforeseen issues.

    After the code review is completed, the test phase begins. The test or quality control engineers will perform many different types of testing such as functional, integration, performance, stability and reliability. These are called high level categories. If the tests certify that the feature is ready for launch, then it goes to the next phase. What we have detailed is the process that is followed for only one feature. There can be a minimum of 3000 features in a typical program.

    5- Once all the features are completed, they are “bundled” into the “build” which means the features are grouped together to form a product. DVDs are created of the “build” and given to manufacturers who will label or brand the product with a catchy name and “obfuscate” or confuse the arrangement of the internal structure of the binary files so that the other software pirates cannot do reverse engineering of the programs. When this step is completed, the advertisement, business deals, marketing and launch date are organized to go public with the product.

    After every launch of a new product, there is a post-mortem evaluation of what went well and what did not. This evaluation examines the resource, service and process gaps.

    In conclusion, OOPS is a structured approach to solving a problem by creating a software program. It has many checks and balances in place to insure that the program functions exactly the way the end user would like it to perform. At every step of the process, intelligent persons are required to advance it. Nothing is left to hazard or random combinations and permutations. In other words, the whole process from start to finish is intelligence driven by highly educated persons whose conscious intervention keeps the process moving coherently and according to a design plan.

    Creation of a system that orders matter with function and design requires intelligence and guidance at every step. It is not a random process that happens haphazardly without the intervention and guidance of intelligent persons. Anyone who has engaged in a creation and development project knows irrefutably that chance, random permutations and
    combinations would never result in a finished product that satisfies the end user and functions in a predictable way.

    However, when educated persons speak about the creation of the universe, they develop a selective amnesia and make claims that the universe developed without the intervention of s supreme intelligent being. Their own experience in life contradicts such a conclusion.

    Man is made in the image of God. He is a secondary creator. God creates the primary elements and man can rearrange them to create functional objects. Both types of creation, primary and secondary, require an intelligent being to produce a functionally designed object that works predictably.

  • God doesn’t bestow all His blessing on the same person

    ahstvahdz ahmehn shnorhk mee mahtoun chee dahr

  • If God closes one door, He can open a thousand more

    ahstvahdz mehg tuhruh guh pahgeh, hahzahr tuhruh guh patzeh

  • If God’s eyes radiate His sweet mercy on you, all the obstacles are removed from your path to H

    Ahsdoudzoh ahckuh vohr kahghtzur ullah, ahrkelknehruh guh patzveen jahmpout vuhrah

  • God provides for the care of the helpless

    Ahnohkouhteen hohkuh ahstuhvadz guh hohkah

  • Mosquitoes, Bugs, Flies and God

    One day the mosquitoes spoke with God,

    “Lord, you have given us a stinger nose to suck blood. You have created man with fresh blood. You gave us little bodies with wings so we can fly away when we are in danger. We can quickly fly from one man to another to bite and suck blood as much as we want. We have been truly blessed by you. But we have a terrible enemy. Why did you ever create the cruel wind. For no reason, the wind blows us away when we are drinking the tasty blood. We are pushed away helplessly. We are no match for the wind. Please eliminate the wind so that we can live peacefully.”

    God said, “All my creation is dear to Me. I cannot eliminate the wind without giving him a chance to defend himself. I’ll call him to come and explain his actions. Perhaps, we can find a solution to suit everyone.”

    As the wind approached God, all the mosquitoes were blown away. God could not make a decision because now the mosquitoes were not present. God told the wind that the mosquitoes complained about him. However, He could not proceed with the case until they came back. The mosquitoes could not come back as long as the wind was with God.

    An elder mosquito organized a meeting with other bugs and flies to find a way to destroy the wind. When they all assembled, the mosquitoes spoke first.

    “Dear brothers, thank you for assembling together today to discuss our common interest. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. It is in our interest to help each other to overcome our weaknesses so that we can thrive in the face of life’s challenges. We mosquitoes have an enemy, the wind. We need your help to get rid of the wind. We can’t peacefully suck the blood of man without the wind blowing us away. Please make your suggestions how we can eliminate this wind.”

    The bugs spoke. “This life is full of illusions due to our imperfect senses. The distant sound of a drum seems pleasant only because it is far away. The grass is always greener on the far hill. A businessman thinks that the life of a teacher is better than his because the teacher has several months vacation. And our brother mosquitoes think that we bed bugs are better off. Actually we are much more miserable. Listen to our tale. We don’t have a stinger like you. We have many sneaky tricks so that we suck man’s blood without causing any pain. Man sleeps soundly as we quietly suck his blood. We hide in holes and cracks, in the mattress, under the sheets, wherever we are unseen.. If we are seen or caught, we remain motionless and pretend to be dead. But cruel man crushes us. There is no way for us to escape. You mosquitoes are fortunate to have wings to fly away to safety. If we talk to God, we will ask him either to give us bugs wings or make man without eyes. Then we will be happy and have no more complaints.”

    The flies spoke up next. “Brothers, in our opinion you are much more fortunate than we are. The mosquitoes hardly make any noise when they land on man’s skin to suck blood and the bed bugs move about unseen and unheard. But, God has made us flies with strong wings and sturdy bodies that make noise. When we land on man’s body to get a taste, he drives us away with a good slap. If we are fast enough to get away, we may go for many days without even a drop of blood. Let us pray to God to create man without hands.”

    Imagine how difficult it is to be God. So many prayers and requests are directed to God that benefit one and disadvantage another. God must make hard decisions based on the ultimate welfare of each entity. There are lessons to be learned and blessings for which we can thank God. The lessons are just as valuable as the blessings. In fact, the lessons are blessings in disguise. We can be thankful for both the lessons and the blessings. Then we will be on the fast track to return to the eternal kingdom of God.

    Our life on this earth has some conveniences and inconveniences. Good and bad are always present as day and night, happiness and distress, riches and poverty. When one is
    not content with his destiny, he becomes restless and considers himself unfortunate like the mosquitoes, bugs and flies. As hard as we try, we cannot escape our allotted happiness and distress in life. We have earned both by our actions in previous lives. The most materially successful person and the most destitute both suffer and enjoy based on their actions from previous lives and in this life. We determine our own destiny by the choices we make and the actions we choose to perform. Whatever I decide to do today, I will receive the reaction some time in the future either in this life or a future life. Similarly, whatever I am experiencing today in terms of happiness and distress, I can understand as the reactions to acts I performed in the past either in this life or previous lives. The Vedas affirm the individual soul has full eternity before birth in a material body and after death. There was never a time that the soul did not exist, nor will it ever cease to exist. Therefore, the soul can be either eternally liberated or eternally in the material world of birth and death. This is the reason why it can transmigrate from one body to another in this material world and be subject to the laws of karma until it awakens and does the necessary to escape from this vicious cycle.

    I may complain about my fate, but I must understand that I am the cause of my happiness and distress. No one else can be blamed. But how do I know this is true? It is confirmed by the Bible and the ancient Vedic scriptures and, in particular the Bhagavad-gita.

    The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 KJV); “and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23c KJV)

    BG 13.20: “Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature.”

    The Bhagavad-gita (Bg) gives very detailed information about causes of the suffering and enjoyment of the living entities. In verse Bg 13.20, it says that both living entities meaning everything that lives including plants, insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and human beings have an eternal and individual soul that is temporarily covered by a material body. All the souls are equal in their potential to achieve love of God and return to the eternal spiritual world. However, the temporary material body limits their potential. It is only in the human form that the soul can liberate itself from material entanglement. All living entities gradually move up to the human form by the process of evolution of consciousness. There is no evolution of bodies like Darwin theorized. All the different species of material bodies are created with the creation of the universe. The evolutionary process occurs when the living entity transmigrates from one species to another according to the type of consciousness for enjoying the material sense pleasures. Among the species lower than human beings the evolutionary process is systematic elevation or progression to the human form. It is only in the human form that limited free will is exercised and one can go up or down according to the type of consciousness developed and the merits or demerits one accumulates by his actions during the lifetime.

    The material nature and the living entity are both eternal. They existed before the creation. The material nature goes through two stages, manifestation and non -manifestation. It continues to exist even when it is not manifest but it goes into a dormant stage wherein the time factor and the modes of material nature do not interact. At the same time, the living entity continues to exist. As long as the living entity maintains material attachments at the moment of death, it must remain in the material creation in a dormant stage waiting for the next manifestation to continue its entanglement. Every manifestation is a chance for the living entity in the human form to free itself from material entanglement and return to the eternal spiritual world. The destiny of the living entity is to understand that it does not belong in the material world where there is illusory happiness and much suffering.

    The living entity is originally the spiritual part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but due to his rebellious nature, he is conditioned within material nature. One can fall even from the spiritual world due to the living entity’s limited free will. It is possible that the living entity becomes attracted by the allure of the material world. The allegorical story of the Adam and Eve gives an indication how such a thing is possible. Eve was convinced by the Devil that God was hiding a greater pleasure than she had ever known before. He convinced her to disobey God’s instruction and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and evil. Once she did so, she became ashamed and then convinced Adam to do the same. God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to suffer in the material world. Later, Jesus came to redeem mankind by teaching them to resist the temptations of the Devil and submit to the will of God by following His instructions. Thus, they can again return to the heavenly paradise of eternal life without suffering.

    All the transformations that we see in the material world such as the changing of our body from youth to old age, or the changing of seasons, etc. are produced by the material nature and its three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance under the influence of the time factor. Everything in the material world is a mixture or blend of these three modes. A man may be good with his children. Then, he may become passionate with his wife. Later, he may become addicted to ignorant activities like drinking and drugs. At every moment these modes are influencing us to act in one way or another which binds us to material life. It is only under the influence of the mode of goodness that one can understand what is happening and attempt to free oneself from the cyclical chain of birth and death. Our soul is eternal but it is chained by the illusory allure of the material world very similar to a thirsty man seeing water in the desert and walking into the desert seeking water. There is no real water in the desert but he sees a mirage and walks into the hot sands to his death.

    Once we come to the material world, we receive a material body which is controlled by the forces of nature. We think we are the controller, but the truth is that we are forced to do everything by the laws of nature acting on our material body. For example, we get hungry. Did we choose to get hungry? No. Then we are forced to eat and drink water not because we want to eat and drink but because we are forced. We are forced to sleep, to work, to get old, get sick and die. All the time we believe falsely that we are the doer. The truth is that the body we have and the destiny attributed to the particular body by our previous karma forces us to enjoy and suffer. Enjoyments and suffering come by the force of destiny.

    Our free will is limited to either accepting the instructions of God and living by them and eventually attain liberation or rejecting them and becoming entrapped by the laws of material nature of action and reaction until we come to our senses. Adam and Eve similarly remained in the Garden of Eden as long as they voluntarily chose to follow God’s instructions. When they disobeyed, they were forced to leave and come under the laws of nature which are controlled by God. Jesus, the son of God, according to the Christian belief, gives a chance for humankind to free themselves from this entrapment by again following the instructions of God and believing in the redeeming power of Jesus. I use the example of Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ because most people in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition know the Biblical history.

    The Bhagavad-gita continues,

    BG 13.21: Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.

    Birth in a particular body, disease, old age, and death during our life are all caused by material nature which is acting under the control of God. However, the happiness and distress we experience is caused by our desires and acts. God is not responsible for the happiness and distress we encounter. We have the free will to accept or reject God’s instructions. If we accept, we are protected by God. If we reject, we are put under the control of the laws of action and reaction in nature until we realize our folly and rectify our behavior.
    In the material world, everyone is struggling hard to acquire different kinds of pleasure for the body. One receives a body and senses which are instruments for gratifying desire. The living entity is blessed or damned according to past desire and activity (karma). Once one is placed in a particular body he receives suffering and enjoyment due to his past deeds and desires. If one is put into the body of a dog, he must act like a dog. That is the law of nature. For example, if I buy a plane ticket to go somewhere and board the plane. My destiny is tied up with that of the plane. If it goes down, I go down with it.
    God always accompanies the soul of the living entity as the friend and overseer. If we decide to surrender to God, He takes care to help us break our unwholesome attachment to temporary material pleasures and suffering and free ourselves from the cycle of birth and death.

    The Bhagavad-gita continues,

    BG 13.22: The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species.

    During our lifetime, we experience an amazing mysterious transformation. We change our body dramatically from a tiny embryo in the womb of our mother to a baby, then childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age and death. We change our body but remain the same person witnessing all the changes. This is a mystery. Where is the body we had when we were in the womb of our mother. Where is our body during our childhood. In truth, we have had many different bodies in this lifetime while remaining the same person. This is a mystery that we do not reflect upon seriously. What does it mean? It means that the witness is different than the body. The witness is remaining the same while the body is changing. This is one fundamental indication that the witness is an eternal soul represented by consciousness and the body is like a material covering that is constantly changing. The last change is death during which the soul discards a used and wasted body.
    The Vedas explain death in the following way. There is no death for the soul just as there is no birth for the soul. It is a part and parcel of God and is fully eternal. (This is affirmed in the BG 2.20) What appears as death pertains only to the body. However, there are two material bodies that cover the soul’s eternal spiritual body. The gross material body is made up of the five primary gross material elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether or space. The subtle material body which is the second covering of the soul is made up of mind, intelligence and false ego.
    At the time of death, only the gross material body dies. The subtle material body, which is the repository of the soul’s material desires and memories of past deeds, is much more durable than the gross material body. It will last as long as the soul remains attached to dominating and enjoying the material nature. The goal of Vedic education is to purify the mind, intelligence and the false ego from the misconceptions that keep the soul bound up to the unnecessary cycle of birth and death.

    The subtle body carries the soul at the point of death to its next material body which is determined by higher authorities according to the actions one has performed during life and the reactions one deserves as well as the unfinished desires one has at the moment of death. One receives a suitable body to continue the quest for illusory sense enjoyment and its concomitant sufferings. Therefore, the change of gross material body is due to attachment to material existence. As long as one remains captivated by the illusory allurements of material happiness, one continues to transmigrate from one temporary body to another. Because the soul is eternal, this transmigration can continue eternally if the individual does not wake up and understand the reality of his situation.

    The false ego that drives the individual in his folly of illusion is the desire to dominate or lord it over material nature and enjoy it.The more he enjoys the more he becomes attached to temporary material pleasures. Thus, he is placed in various circumstances that invariably end up as misery under the influence of material desire. The eternal soul is sometimes a heavenly being, sometimes an earthly member of mankind, sometimes a beast, a bird, a worm, an aquatic, a saintly man or a bug. In every incarnation or birth in a gross material body the soul thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet, the truth is, he is being controlled by the forces or laws of nature. These laws are created by God just as a government has penal laws and builds a jail for the small percentage of criminal types in society. The laws of karma are the penal laws and the material body full of material desires is the jail.
    The entrapment of the soul is explained in this verse BG 13.22. It is due to association with the modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. For example, a child is born seemingly innocent. He or she does not manifest peculiar behavior immediately that can be classified as anti-social, psychopathic, murderous, drug addiction, thievery, sexual addiction, bi-polar, suicidal, etc. However, as the child grows older, he or she associates with the different modes of nature in the environment of the home, school, church,etc. This association can be real or virtual. For example, the child may become addicted to video games. Each game creates an environment of goodness, passion or ignorance, Usually, it is passion and ignorance. The child lives in that virtual environment and becomes seriously affected by it.

    The purpose of Vedic education is to rise above the influence of the modes of nature and become transcendental to them or unaffected by them. Just as Jesus was able to resist the temptations of the Devil, so every person must learn to resist the temptations of the false material pleasures and dedicate oneself to the higher purpose of life.

    There is no real pleasure in this world unless one is freed from the vicious cycle of birth and death. We can all admit that our hope is that modern science can stop inevitable death. That is the ultimate goal of science. Along the way to achieving this goal, science offers us increased facilities for temporary pleasures. This appears as a sort of incentive to keep our hopes up that science will one day stop old age and death which is our real enemy as seekers of sense enjoyment.

    Vedic education teaches us to transfer our mental preoccupation from enjoying temporary pleasures and temporary objects of pleasure to the eternal reality of spiritual life and truth. This is called God consciousness or Krishna consciousness. Christians call it Christ consciousness. Becoming fully conscious of Jesus Christ, the son of God, and His ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of mankind is the meditative means for a Christian to rise above the influence of the modes of nature. Similarly, in the Vedic path, one meditates on Lord Krishna, the father of Christ, and the eternal instructions given by Himself and His representatives for elevating oneself from the cycle of birth and death. There are two operative elements, one’s personal endeavor and the causeless mercy of Lord Krishna and His representatives. The mercy of God prevails but one must still endeavor to follow because we have limited free will that we exercise at every moment to either follow or not. This is called Krishna consciousness.

    Unless one is Krishna conscious, his material consciousness will oblige him to transfer from one temporary material body to another because of material desires. But such desires can be changed to transcendental desires to please Lord Krishna. That crucial change can only be effected by continually hearing this transcendental knowledge explained by genuine and authoritative persons who can repeat the words of Lord Krishna without adulteration. The paradigmatic example is Arjuna who hears the science of God from Krishna. Arjuna accepts Krishna as his teacher and submits himself to humbly hear the Vedic knowledge. Lord Krishna is the original teacher or guru of the Vedic knowledge. Anyone who claims to be a teacher of Vedic knowledge must precisely repeat the original words of the Lord without any change for the knowledge to be effective.

    The result of hearing from Lord Krishna or His bona fide representative is one loses the immemorial desire to dominate material nature, and gradually and proportionately, as he reduces his desire to dominate, he comes to enjoy spiritual happiness. This is the real destiny of man. Not that he should rot forever in the cycle of birth and death chasing illusory happiness and suffering untold distress. His destiny is to be with God and his saintly servants and enjoy unending happiness in the spiritual world where there is no birth, old age disease and death.

  • All good qualities awaken in one who serves God faithfully

    All good qualities awaken in one who serves God faithfully.
    keedoutiahn pohlohr pahree hahdgoutiounnehruh zahrkahnoum yehn nuhrah mohd, ohv hahsehl eh hahvahdahreem dzahraiyoutiahn ahsteejahnuh

    There was and there wasn’t a poor Armenian family. The father’s name was Hampar (short for Hampartzoum which means the resurrection of Christ in Armenian). The mother’s name was Vehanouh which means the sweetest person you can meet. Their only son was named Krikor. He was named after the most famous saint of Armenia, Krikor Lousahvoritch (Krikor or Saint Gregory the Illuminator). They were loyal members of their church and attended the mass every Sunday. They prayed that Lord Jesus bless their child and also give them health to work hard and earn an honest living.

    The father and mother toiled long hours on hand looms making kilims or oriental rugs. When Krikor was five years old, they also taught him how to work a small child’s loom. It would take three to six months to finish a rug and then Hampar had to struggle to sell it. After tens years, the family was able to save an adequate amount of money to build a small house on a plot of land in their ancestral village.

    Hampar slowly built the house with the help of relatives. He used what little spare time he had to work on it. It took three years to finish it. The day the family moved into their new house, Vehanoush had an eerie premonition. That night she dreamed that the house would burn down. The dream reoccurred for three days. She discussed her dream with Hampar. He was horrified. They had struggled so hard and long to have their own house. What to do? His wife was very worried and her anxiety affected Hampar. He went to a village fortune teller. An old woman who was expert at reading the coffee grinds left over in a cup after drinking Turkish coffee. She concurred that the house would soon burn down.

    Hampar decided to sell the house. It took one month to find a buyer and agree on a fair price. He was able to get back the money he spent to build it. The family moved out of the house and back into the small rented cottage they lived in before. Soon after a group of marauding thieves robbed the new inhabitants of the house and set it on fire. It burned to the ground. It was a shock to everyone except Hampar and Vehanoush.

    Although they felt relieved at selling the house and retrieving their hard earned money, they both became anxious. They locked the door and closed all the windows of their cottage. They were frightened that the thieves might come to rob and maybe kill them because they had all the cash from the sale of their house hidden in the cottage. What if the family that purchased their house told the thieves that Hampar and Vehanoush had the cash from the recent sale? They couldn’t sleep all night. The next day, they both went to a wealthy local merchant who was known as an honest man. His name was Hrant Agha. They explained their fear of being robbed. Hrant Agha reassured them of his trustworthiness. They entrusted their savings with him and he issued them a receipt. They returned home feeling safe and relieved of their anxiety.

    Several days later, during the darkness of night, the same group of thieves attacked the compound of Hrant Agha and forced him to open his safe and robbed him of all his money. Hearing this devastating news the next day, Hampar and Vehanoush ran to Hrant Agha’s house to find out about their money. The Agha had been beaten and was in no condition to see them. They worried about their money day and night. After a few days they were able to meet with Hrant Agha. He spoke slowly and gravely. He told them that they were very fortunate because he did not put their money in his safe. He had another safe in a secret place. He offered to return the money. Hampar and Vehanoush nearly fainted when they heard the good news.

    Hrant Agha gave them their money back. The two thanked him and left to return to their cottage. Again they felt anxiety and fear carrying the money. What to do? Perhaps they were next on the robbers’ list of victims. The next day, Hampar went to see the Armenian priest Haiyr Gomidas. When Hampar explained how much he was experiencing fear and anxiety about having his cash savings hidden in his cottage, the priest comforted him with the following words.

    “Hampar jahn, listen to me. We Armenians have always worked hard and stayed true to our Lord Jesus, our apostolic church, our forefathers, our mother tongue and its beautiful alphabet, our ancestral land and our honor. We have suffered many hardships as a conquered nation at the hands of the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Kurds and others who have all done horrible things to our people. Yet, we have somehow persevered and maintained our identity and self respect. Just as bad people are known by their cruelty, good people are known by their honorable and kind acts. We are born of the earth and we shall return to the earth, but our honor and good deeds will remain long after we are gone. Hampar jahn, you have always been an honest hard-working man. You have never been rich but yet, you have managed to live honorably and God has provided your minimum needs. Try to understand that your personal honor earned from years of honest work and good behavior is your real wealth.”

    “There was once a bird of prey that swooped down and caught a fish with its claws and started to fly back to its nest. A flock of wild crows pursued the bird which tried to escape their harassment. But everywhere the bird flew it was followed by the flock of crows that cawed and screeched. The bird became exhausted and let go of the fish. The crows forgot the bird of prey and flew toward the fish. The bird lost the fish, but felt relieved that it was no longer followed by the disturbing crows. It realized that the crows were interested in the fish above all.”

    “Hampar jahn, there is safety in humble living as long as you are able to secure the minimum needs for your family. We all have a certain destiny that we must understand realistically. Tigran the Great had the destiny to conquer and manage the great Armenian empire from the Caspian to the Black sea to Jerusalem. We also have our destiny which is given by our Lord Jesus and His Father. Regardless of the greatness or smallness of that destiny in material terms, we can still leave a lasting legacy by developing our character of self discipline, love, charity, kindness, and compassion. Think of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was mocked, dishonored, crucified. He died on the cross seemingly a poor and destitute prisoner of the great Roman empire. He was labeled by the priests of his own people as a fraud and an object of mockery. Yet, due to his faithfulness to determination to follow the Will of His Father, He resurrected from the dead and rose to heaven to the right side of His Father for eternal glory. He died to wash our sins. He is our Savior by His humility and faithfulness to His Father.”

    “Hampar jahn, this is the real destiny of our people. We must follow the example of Jesus. We must not be afraid of living a humble life with just our minimum needs. God Almighty is the friend of the poor and the savior of the meek. Whatever we have over and above our minimum needs we should use in the service of the Lord. You are a father and your son lives with you fed everyday by your good wife and cared for and loved. Hampar Jahn, we have too many young children you don’t have a father or mother or whose parents are too poor to provide for them. Our village church needs to build a small orphanage for these poor children so that we can educate them, care for them and love them.”

    Hampar and Vehanoush donated their savings to the church. A small but needed orphanage building was constructed and their names were posted on the building as recognition for their donation. By giving the donation, they no longer felt any fear or anxiety. They received respect and friendly esteem for their kindness. Hampar and Vehanoush also continued to make small but regular donations whenever they could for the maintenance of the orphanage. Sometimes one or two orphans would visit them and sometimes stay overnight in their small cottage. Haiyr Gomidas had taught them to say certain prayers before sleeping at night. They prayed to Lord Jesus,

    “Dear Lord, thank you for your kindness and protection. We are orphans living in your house and feel safe and happy. May we always remain your humble servants. Also Lord, please protect and comfort Hampar haiyrik and Vehanoush Maiyrik and Krikor aghparig. Bless them in their goodness and humility.”

    Hampar and Vehanoush had tears in their eyes hearing these innocent and sincere prayers. They thanked Lord Jesus that Haiyr Gomidas helped them to understand their real destiny. They understood how undue attachment to material things brings anxiety, fear and grief. They thanked the Lord that they were able to have the faith to do the Lord’s work without hesitation or resentment. They felt fulfilled and safe in their humble life of prayer, hard work and faithfulness to God and each other.

  • The man who always said Glory to God and His Wisdom

    The man who always said, “Glory to God and His Wisdom,
    Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”

    There was and there wasn’t a humble man whose faith in God was staunch. He was never bewildered or shaken in his faith regardless of what happened to him or his family. He had a wife and two children. They lived in a small cottage. He earned his living by transporting goods on his donkey. He took good care of the donkey treating it like a member of the family.

    Whatever he did, he first would give praise to God:
    “Pahrk kez Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”

    After completing his work he would repeat the same. When someone said hello to him, he would give praise to God. In fact, he would repeat his praise of God every opportunity he had. It was second nature for him to praise God.

    He was a happy man who was satisfied with what God gave him. He never forgot to thank God for his meager existence with his family. His wife and children were poor but happy. They always had their minimum needs and enjoyed their family life.

    The friends and co-workers of the humble man decided to test his sincerity. One day they stole his donkey and took it deep into the forest. They tied the animal near a basin of water and left him. When they returned, it was time to work. They all assembled with their donkeys. The humble man came on foot. They asked:

    “Where is your donkey, brother? The humble man said:

    “Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun – Glory to God and His Wisdom, I think someone has stolen my donkey.”

    His friends said:”Ask your God to find the donkey!” They went on their way toward a neighboring village where there was work. The humble man prayed that day and stayed with his family.

    That evening there were loud cries and noises coming from the village. The humble man went toward the commotion. He saw his friends who had returned from the day’s work. But, they were very distraught. He asked one of them, “What happened?”

    “On the way to the next village, we were stopped by a large group of bandits. They made us dismount our donkeys. They whipped us and took whatever possession we had along with all our donkeys.”

    “Parhk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun, Glory to God and His wisdom.”
    “tzahvut dahnem, May I take your suffering on me,” said the humble man.
    “Ahstvahdzuh vohghohrmeh tzehz muhgheetahroutian yehv bahstbahnoutian meechohtznehrov uhntmeest, May God bless you by consoling you and protecting you always,” he added.

    The victims looked at the humble man and said: “You have nothing to worry about because Your God has blessed and protected you. We stole your donkey and hid it in the forest as a joke. We’ll show you where it is. The joke is on us.”

  • Accept everything that happens to us as the mercy of God

    There was and there wasn’t a king who was very generous. He had a minister who was a sage whose understanding of spiritual truth was profound. The king’s adviser would often repeat the following words of wisdom, “everything that happens is the mercy of God.” The king became annoyed by the minister repeating this statement. He challenged the minister, “It is absurd to say that everything that happens is the mercy of God. How can that be when there are so many tragedies in life. Are the miseries of life the mercy of God?” The king was not pleased by the minister’s conviction.

    In that kingdom, there was a custom that the farmers followed. Before selling any harvest, the farmers would bring the first fruits of the trees to the king for his pleasure. It was the beginning of the mango season. A farmer brought his finest mangoes and offered them to the king. The king asked for a knife to cut the mangoes to share them with his minister and family members. When the king cut the fruit, he accidentally cut his little finger very badly. Blood gushed out of his finger. The minister quickly stopped the bleeding by applying pressure with a cloth. The finger was washed and tightly bound with a clean cloth. The minister inadvertently said to the king, “You are very fortunate.
    Something good will come from cutting your finger. It is surely the mercy of God”

    The king became very upset by the minister’s words. He said, “I am really disturbed with your senseless repetition. In what way am I benefited by cutting my finger and losing blood? There is pain and discomfort and it will take some time for my finger to heal. What good or divine mercy is there? I think you are very stupid to continually repeat this thought for everything that happens. It is not appropriate. Stop it!”

    The following day, the king ordered the minister to make preparations for a hunt. They left in the morning. They went into a dense forest to hunt wild deer. At one point they tied their horses and went on foot. It was a hot day. They finished their ration of water and later became very thirsty. They came upon an abandoned well. The minister tried to go down the well head first with the king holding his feet. They hoped the well was not very deep and perhaps they could find good water. But the king’s injured finger made his grip lose strength and he loosened his hold. The minister fell head first into the well. Fortunately, the well was not more than 12 feet deep and the water at the bottom was four feet deep. The minister was injured but not mortally. He was able to stand up in the water shaken but alive.

    The king apologized. He told the minister he would return quickly with something to help him out of the well. The king began to look for a branch of a tree or anything to help pull the minister out of the well. But destiny had another plan for the king. While searching in the deep forest, he was captured by a tribe of cannibals. They took the king to their head priest who was eager to find a good human specimen to offer as sacrifice for their gods. The priest ordered his men to keep the king tied up overnight so that they could prepare him for sacrifice the next morning.

    That night the king prayed that God may help him in this hopeless situation. He thought of the minister trapped in the well. Ironically, he became convinced more than ever that everything that happens is not always good and certainly not the mercy of God.

    Early the next morning, the priest ordered the king stripped for examination of his body to make sure that he was a suitable offering for their gods. The priest noticed the injured finger of the king. He unwrapped the finger and saw the deep cut and some blood. This sight was very disappointing for the priest. The king was unacceptable as an offering because his body was not perfectly clean of imperfections. The cut finger and the blood made the king’s body unfit for sacrifice. The priest ordered the king released and warned him to immediately leave their forest and never to return.

    The king was stunned and perplexed by his odd change of fate. He rushed back to find the well. When he finally reached the well, he called for the minister. His minister answered in a feeble voice that he was still alive. The king found a broken branch and used it to pulled the minister out of the well. They both rushed out of the forest to find their horses.

    When they were safely back in the castle, they discussed their strange experience. The king was visibly shaken and very thankful. He said to the minister, “I understand your statement that everything that happens is for some good purpose. If I had not cut my finger, I would not have been saved from being offered as an human sacrifice.” The king added, “But I am sure that your falling in the well was not the mercy of God.”

    The minister smiled and said, “If I did not fall into the well, I would have been sacrificed by the cannibals because I have no cut or imperfection on my body.” The king was dumbfounded by his answer. It was true. The minister continued, “There is more to this ordeal than meets the eye. I fell into the well and stayed all night in that dark and damp hole. But in every tragedy there is some blessing. I felt strange objects in one corner of the well. I could not make out what they were in the darkness. When daylight came, I saw that they were very precious objects made of gold. I cannot estimate now how many objects were there, but I think we should go back there with your soldiers and see for ourselves. The king was intrigued.

    The next day they returned with a large contingent of soldiers. They discovered many objects made of pure gold. In fact, they began to dig deeper into the well and found hundreds of more golden objects. It was a veritable fortune of gold. When they returned safely back to the palace, the king asked the minister to talk in private. He confided in him that he never thought that he would become convinced like the minister that everything that happens whether good or bad is the mercy of God. He said, “My dear friend, I want to give you half of my kingdom. Let us live always in friendship. The minister was very grateful. He said, “Dear King, I don’t need to own land or dominion. I am very satisfied being your servant. In fact, all the gold that we have discovered is yours. My only request is that you should use it to glorify God and help all the citizens of your great kingdom.”

    The king was humbled by the generosity and good wishes of the minister. He commanded the minister to take charge of his treasury and dispense the new found wealth for the benefit of his subjects so that no family or person be bereft of the necessities of life. He instructed him to build wonderful houses of worship and schools so that his people have spiritual and material education. In this way, the kingdom became prosperous and the people developed spiritual qualities of goodness.

    The king, minister and the people had their dreams fulfilled. May you also find fulfillment in life.

  • God is not cheap

    Direct experience of God is not a difficult goal. The first question is whether you are qualified to recognize God if you see him. There was once an antique dealer who attended an antique dealer’s fair. He stopped at one table and noticed a straw basket with old coins in it. There was a a card with $60 written on it. He asked the dealer, a lady, if she would accept a counter offer on the basket with coins. She said she was ready to hear his offer. He proposed $ 20 for the basket. She scoffed at him saying it cost her more money than that to buy the basket full of old coins. He scuffled the coins in his hand and observed them. He offered$ 35 and not one penny more. She said, “I’ll take $ 40 or nothing.” He said, “Sold.” He paid the money and went home. Sometime later there was a newspaper article with the headline, “Antique dealer finds rare coin worth $ 100,000. The question is how come the antique dealer recognized that there was one coin in the basket that was very valuable and the lady antique dealer who owned the basket could not? He obviously had the training and experience that permitted him to recognize the coin whereas the lady antique dealer could not.

    If you want to recognize God you need some training so that you don’t just walk past him. When a scientist publishes his experimental findings, he publishes in such a way as to permit other scientists in other parts of the world to duplicate his experiments so that they can verify the same results. If the results are not verifiable, then there may be grounds to refute the work as unscientific. The research scientist must explain under what conditions the experiment was performed, the ingredients, the temperature, the control groups, the observation techniques, etc., etc. If a scientist in another part of the world can duplicate the experiment and get the same results, then the original work is deemed valid scientific research. In the same way, finding God is an explicit endeavor with verifiable steps and conditions. If everything is followed correctly you are sure to see God. The beginning stage is clearing away all obstacles to seeing God. There are don’t and do’s that are required to create a favorable environment for the experience. Just as the research scientist explains the conditions, materials, ambient temperature, ingredients, etc for performing the experiment successfully, one needs to eliminate four things and accept four things in order to prepare oneself to see God. The dos and don’ts for clearing obstacles follow:
    Don’ts: no meat, fish or eggs; no intoxication including coffee and tea; no sex out of wedlock; and no gambling or mental speculation.

    Dos: Chant the names of God everyday at least two hours a day, eat only vegetarian food that is first prepared for and offered to God on a home alter, read daily holy scriptures that explain the reality of God’s presence, offer humble service to God’s servants.

    These four don’ts and dos create a favorable atmosphere for realization of God’s omnipresence.
    These are the pre-conditions for the experiment to see God. What is noteworthy is that the experiment to see God is not an academic process. It is not an ascending process like everything we normally experience. If I study such and such and pass a test I get my certificate. Seeing God is a descending process. When we develop the proper attitude and qualities, God reveals Himself to us at His own sweet will. The difference is that in the material world we first desire something and then work for it. In spiritual life we first deserve and continue to work to please God. If He is pleased then He may choose to appear before us. He is not obliged. He will, however, feel obliged if we develop genuine love and devotion. He is attracted by pure love.

    The dos and don’ts’ importance cannot be emphasized too much. There are four universal principals of spiritual life: truthfulness, austerity, cleanliness and mercifulness.
    Truthfulness is destroyed by gambling and mental speculation.

    Understanding what mental speculation is and how it differs from bona fide philosophical speculation is instructive. Everything is known by the psychological action of the mind. Mental speculation is the random or haphazard activity of the brain to understand everything and making theories with hypothetical “if” and “maybe’s.”
    Villagers in Southeast Asia noticed that baby scorpions came out of rice paddy fields at a certain time every year. They speculated that scorpions are born from rice paddy fields. They did not notice that the mother scorpion first laid her eggs in the paddy fields and the heat and fermentation in the fields was and ideal environment for hatching the scorpion eggs.

    By mental speculation we propose different theories and explanations that are not based on any facts but seem plausible to our imperfect mind. There were once two fish looking at the moon.

    First fish: Hey, what’s that up there.
    Second fish: It’s a fish.
    First fish: Why is it shiny?
    Second fish: Because it is a shiny fish.
    First fish: Oh, now I understand.
    This is an example of speculation. It is assuming something as true that has no factual basis. The speculation may seem plausible because we have no information of the real facts. It is said,
    “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.”

    Because our senses are imperfect it is impossible to arrive at true knowledge by a process of mental speculation. Seeing, hearing, tasting smelling, touching are all imperfect ways to acquire information. We may try to perfect them by using instruments to amplify our perception. We are still limited and imperfect even with the scientific instruments. When I observe an airplane taking off and I follow it with my eyes as it rises into the sky, at a certain point, it disappears from my vision. Can I conclude that the airplane no longer exists because I saw it disappear from my vision? My vision is imperfect. The airplane continues to exist. I just can’t see it with my imperfect eyes and limited position. Even with the best telescope I will eventually lose vision of the airplane.
    There are many things I cannot perceive, yet they exist regardless of my perception. Right now there are radio waves everywhere. Unless I have a radio I cannot perceive them. It is only when I have the proper instrument that I am able to perceive them. There are many things that are present right now but I cannot perceive them. I need to purify or perfect my senses so that I can perceive them. Most of the things I perceive are within three dimensions. Yet, there is reality in 4 or more dimensions that, for now, I cannot perceive. Should I deny their existence because I can’t see or hear them?
    If I claim I will not accept any knowledge that another person gives me either through direct contact or through books, rather, I will only accept knowledge that I perceive through direct experience myself. Then the only solution is to perfect your senses. The abovementioned dos and don’ts are a proven way to improve our senses and powers of perception.

    If we reject this process saying that it is unrealistic or that anything spiritually inspired is bogus then what option do we have? The only option will be mental speculation. There is really no other “effective” way to perfect our powers of perception than the above mentioned dos and don’ts. I say this for the following reasons: The four rules of no meat eating, no gambling, no illicit sex, and no intoxication are essential for elevating the mental powers which include the physical senses. The don’ts are necessary for the cultivation of progressive qualities which are:

    Mercifulness - which is destroyed by intoxication
    Truthfulness - which is destroyed by gambling and mental speculation
    Cleanliness - which is destroyed by illicit sex
    Austerity - which is destroyed by meat eating

    In order to experience God in a sustained and practical way I can strive for these four qualities by avoiding those habits that destroy them and performing those activities that nurture them to fruition such as chanting the names of God daily, (Ex. The Hare Krishna Mantra, or other bona fide names), reading holy scripture (Ex. Bhagavad-gita or other bona fide scripture), offering vegetarian food to God and eating only after the offering, and performing unselfish acts of devotion without any expectation of pecuniary return that are prescribed by the teacher. By following these simple guidelines one will very quickly develop the qualification and strong desire to see God face to face.
    These four qualities are the universal principles of progressive spiritual life. One must develop them to be qualified to recognize and see God.

    After reading your response to my last letter I realize that you set up straw man arguments by referring to people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and others like the Fundamentalist Christians.
    Lumping me in with these people is convenient for make points that seem to undermine or refute my thoughts, but, in truth, it is inaccurate. Pointing to hypocrisy or inconsistencies in other people who claim to be religious leaders or some sort of enlightened prophets of modern adherents of Christianity is a straw man argument. You set up a person who has obvious problems, knock him down and claim this justifies negating everything I have written. I am not Falwell, Robinson, or a fundamentalist Christian. What is interesting is that these persons would attack my ideas much more vehemently than you. They would reject most of what I am saying. If you are going to set up a straw man argument, then at least choose people that would first agree with my thoughts and then show that they are hypocrites.

    When I write to you, I do so as a friend and confidante who I have a lot of affection for and remember from my youthful days. Epithets and third party associations are useful tools for trying to win an argument. If I say, “You look exactly like the man that robbed my car.” That is equal to saying you are a thief. If you make allusions to Falwell, and Robinson as if to say “all you religious guys are like these two bigots,” then there is a “fog of pre-conceived assumptions” that preclude rational thought of the points made.

  • What appears like a mystery to man is actually God’s will

    khorourt mahrtgan, gahmk astoudzoh
    (Literally, mystery for man, God’s will)

    How the universe is working remains a mystery to most people. This is because people are unaware of certain essential facts of life. Two such important facts are:

    (1) There is a Supreme God who is the ultimate creator and controller of everything, but He remains a neutral observer meaning He does not love or hate anyone. He simply gives people what they deserve without prejudice.

    (2) Men suffer due to their own actions performed in the present life and previous lives due to the misuse of their limited free will.

    These two points can be summarized by “Man proposes and God disposes.” Man desires a particular situation and God facilitates his obtaining his desire. The following discussion will try to elaborate on the exercise of man’s free will.

    God has endowed every human being with limited free will. We cannot “will” the sun to come up or go down, or death to stop, or the planets to stop moving. But, we can “will” that we give up certain types of behavior, or regulate our activities to attain a goal, or save money to purchase a gift, etc. Our free will is limited, but it is never stopped or prohibited by God.

    What are the limits of our free will?

    We are limited to either accept God’s instructions to guide us in life, or reject those instructions and live our life as if independent of God’s will.

    If God is all powerful, then why doesn’t He force us to follow His instructions?

    The nature of relationship with God is one of pure love. Love cannot be attained unless one has the free will to choose to love. If it is forced or programmed, then it is not real love. We are endowed with free will so that we can develop love and affection for God and He can reciprocate with His love.

    What happens if we choose not to follow God’s instructions?

    By refusing to follow God’s instructions we become subject to the laws of material nature or karmic laws. This happens because we become a competitor of God who is the ultimate controller and enjoyer of everything. By ignoring or rejecting God’s instructions we attempt to become the controller and enjoyer of material nature. The false ego is based on the conviction, “I am the controller and I am the enjoyer.” The laws of karma act on us to remedy our rebellious nature. Because we have an eternal soul, it is possible to remain rebellious eternally. But, a human being at any time can choose to accept God’s instructions and become free of the binding effects of karma and repeated birth and death.

    How does false ego originate and what is it?

    The mind is the center of all the activities of the senses. When we hear or see desirable sense pleasures, the mind becomes the reservoir of desires for sense gratification. As one contemplates these possibilities for sense pleasures, the mind and senses become agitated with lust. Lust is the excessive or obsessive desire for sense gratification and especially sexual pleasures and its concomitant needs of profit, distinction and adoration. The intelligence becomes seized by such lustful desires. Intelligence refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective. The mind records and stores in the memory information from the other senses. The intelligence determines the beneficial or detrimental effects of those experiences or thoughts. If the intelligence is corrupted by lusty desires, it can not correctly analyze whether such experiences and desires are good or bad for oneself. By the influence of lusty intelligence the soul is influenced to acquire the false ego and identify itself with the mind and senses and bodily pleasures. The soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakenly accepts this as true happiness.

    The ego of the individual is “I am.” The contaminated ego is “I am the lord of all I see. I am the enjoyer.” This world remains a place of strife because every living being thinks that he is the lord (controller) and the enjoyer of the material world. This inevitably leads to conflict. Material ego (false consciousness) has two psychic divisions. One is that I am the creator (controller), and the other is that I am the enjoyer. The following logical thought will help to understand our real position.I

    If we, the living entities are the controller and enjoyer, then we would not be controlled by anything. But, the truth is that we are being controlled at every step. For example, we are forced to eat due to hunger, then we are forced to evacuate. We are forced to sleep, then wake up and work to maintain ourselves. We are forced to breathe, to blink our eyes, etc. We don’t know how we digest food, yet it is essential to maintain our life. We are not in control of our own heart beat. We work to be happy, yet suffering is forced on us despite our every effort to avoid it. We are forced to get old, sick and die. We did not chose to be born. Every material function is forced on us and these functions are going on without our conscious control. The movement of the sun, earth, the change of seasons, rains, currents of rivers, wind, etc., are all vital functions on which our existence depends. They are being conducted without our control or understanding. Thus, we are neither independent nor are we the controller or creator. Yet, due to our false ego, we think we are the controller and with this misconception we continue in material existence attached to the temporary body and its miseries.

    It is evident that we are not the controller and we are in every circumstance controlled and dependent. If we understand these facts, we can begin the process of gradually surrendering to the will of God and following His instructions. This will immediately release us from the cycle of self-inflicted suffering due to ignorance. Suffering in life is caused by not accepting to follow the instructions of the Supreme Controller. By acting either in defiance or ignorance of God’s instructions, we become responsible for our acts and the resultant reactions. Thus, suffering in life is due to our own actions.

    There are many seeming contradictions in life when one does not understand that man has limited free will and is never independent of God’s will and the laws of nature, which act under God’s supervision. The two most frequently cited are:

    1. Why is there so much human suffering and evil if God is the Supreme Controller and all good?

    This question is addressed by two verses in the Bhagavad-gita 5.14-15,

    The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature. (Bg 5.14)

    Nor does the Supreme Lord assume anyone’s sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge. (Bg.5.15)

    According to the Vedic knowledge, a living entity is a soul who is placed in a material body according to the laws of karma. This is determined by the activities and desires of a living being. Each person gets what they deserve.

    The temporary body is the cause of varieties of activities and their resultant reactions. As soon as we enter a particular body, we are obliged to act in certain ways as determined by the body and the forces of nature (modes of material nature, goodness, passion and ignorance) which act on it.

    For beings who have the human form of body, they suffer or enjoy the results of activities of the body by wrongly identifying with the it. It is due to ignorance that is the result of many lifetimes of false identification with the body that is the cause of bodily suffering and distress. This is called material conditioning.

    The sojourn of the living being in the material body is figuratively referred to as living in “the city of the body.” While in the body, one think he is it’s master. The truth is one is not the proprietor or the controller of the body’s actions and reactions. An embodied living being is always struggling for existence, which means the laws of nature are continually imposing limits on one’s range of sense pleasure and he is continually struggling against those constraints.

    If the living entity can become unaffected by the activities of the body, he becomes free from the reactions as well. This is possible only in the human body. The beginning of spiritual understanding is differentiating between the material body and the conscious soul, who is temporarily placed in the body. Thus, it is possible for the conscious soul within the body to become aloof or unaffected by the activities of the body.

    Animals are completely controlled by instinct. They do not have the developed intellect nor the limited free will of a human being. They must wait until the evolutionary process of consciousness brings them to the human form which is endowed with intellect and free will so that they can understand their real position.

    The Supreme Being or God is undisturbed by the sinful or pious activities of living beings. He is equal to all living beings and does not create a particular situation for anyone. It is the living being who desires to be put into certain conditions of life, and thereby the chain of action and reaction begins. The living entity cannot fulfill his desires without the help of the omnipotent Supreme God. The individual human being has limited free will. But many facilities must be supplied in order for the living being to satisfy his desires. For example, one needs to have a body capable of movement (legs, arms and strength, eyesight, speech, etc.) All these and many more facilities are supplied by God so that the individual can fulfill his desires.

    If the living being is bewildered in his desires, God allows him to fulfill those desires because He does not interfere with man’s limited free will. However, God is never responsible for the actions and reactions of the particular situation which may be desired. Bewildered by false identification with the body, the individual mistakenly identifies with it and becomes subjected to the temporary happiness and misery of life. For example, there are so many men in the world. If a woman becomes attached to one particular man and decides to marry him, she shares his happiness and misery in life. By identifying herself as the wife of a man, her husband, she becomes affected by his activities in life. Later, she might decide to disassociate herself from her husband and eventually remain unattached and no longer affected by his activities. In the same way, it is possible to become aloof from the activities of the body (eating, sleeping, mating, defending) which are in truth forced upon us. Then one is no longer affected by the happiness and distress of the body.

    God is present in the heart of every living being as the witness and permitter of every act. As the witness, God can understand the desires of the living entity. Material desire is a subtle form of conditioning. If the living entity persists in his material desires, God facilitates him to fulfill them as he deserves. This can be summarized as “Man proposes and God disposes.”

    The individual is not independent in fulfilling his desires. God does not interfere with the exercise of the limited free will of the living entities. He remains neutral toward everyone. God neither hates nor likes anyone, although it may appear He does. The embodied soul causes his own bewilderment by his desire to avoid God’s advice coming through the holy scriptures. In every stage of existence the living entity remains dependent on God for the fulfillment of his desires..

    When the living being becomes frustrated and miserable, he often blames God for his plight. This is a mistake. God remains neutral so as not to interfere with the limited free will of a person. Otherwise, there would be no possibility of real love. God simply gives each person what they deserve based on their actions in this life and previous lives. He is not the cause of a person’s suffering. If someone chooses to forget God, then the Lord helps him do it. If someone wants to remember and approach God, then the Lords helps him. In every case, God remains neutral in order to give everyone a chance to exercise their limited free will. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Bg 18.63) Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna all the intricacies of action and reaction (karma), then He leaves it up to Arjuna to decide what course of action he will take. Thus the material destiny of everyone is determined by their own desires and actions. But, the spiritual destiny of a person is never predetermined. God gives everyone the freedom to choose Him at any time regardless of his material destiny. By correct use of our free will we can end our cycle of birth and death

    The laws of karma can be bewildering because one may receive reactions to acts they performed in a previous life for which they have no way of consciously remembering. This causes confusion because a person cannot see a causal relation between a previous act and the present reaction. It is essential to understand that the soul is eternal and it is changing bodies from one life to another. The reactions to one’s activities in a previous life may be forwarded to the next life and one suffers or enjoys accordingly.

    We can understand the above point in the following way. Every normal person is working with the goal to be happy. They hope for peace and prosperity so that they can be happy. In spite of every precaution, still misery comes as old age, sickness, death, accidents, natural catastrophes, etc. Also, we sometimes have good fortune even though we did not expect it. This should convince us that happiness and misery are experienced by us in a way that we cannot always predict. According to the Vedic knowledge, this is because happiness and misery are preordained due to the activities we performed in a previous life. What is not preordained is our ability to accept God’s instructions, follow them and change our destiny.

    Disregarding God’s instructions due to ignorance can be corrected. But willful disregard of God’s instructions is the beginning of evil.
    When a person becomes outright envious of God and tries to destroy belief and worship of God, he begins to perpetrate evil acts that hurt others and himself. For example, a child that rebels against his parents’ authority can sometimes become so disturbed that he may kill them or himself. Evil begins by disdain of authority. The supreme authority is God and His instructions.

    2. If God knows everything past, present and future, then how can there be free will?

    We are being controlled by outside forces. As in any organization, there is always one controller over another in an hierarchical organizational structure. Because I am being controlled, I can understand that there is an organized control system acting on me and this implies that there is an hierarchical organization with an ultimate controller running the show. Otherwise, I could not be specifically controlled. My digestion, breathing, heart beat, the changing seasons, the tides, the movement of planets, and all observed phenomena are proof of specific control because everything is being orchestrated in a precise and organized system.

    In any town or city there are controllers for traffic, police, taxes, water and electricity, health, education, courts, garbage collection, city government, etc. If there are so many controllers for a little town or city, how can we say that there are no controllers for the gigantic universal affairs. Just as in the city there is the mayor, who is the chief controller overseeing all the other controllers in the city government, so in the universe there is an ultimate controller overseeing all the subordinate controllers.

    From this reasoning, I can understand that I am being controlled, I am not completely independent and that there is an elaborate organizational structure with an ultimate controller in charge. If this is so, then how can anyone claim that we exercise free will. Further, it is said that God is all-knowing, all powerful and knows past, present, and future. How can anyone have free will if God already knows what will happen and is ultimately controlling everything? The answer is the following.

    There are many situations where we act under the control of an external authority, yet we exercise our free will. For example, when I drive a car, I drive under the control and authority of state and federal authorities who have built the roads and made so many laws regulating cars and driving. I must pass a test to get a license to drive. I must pay fees and follow the codes of safe driving. I must respect all the signs and specific lights such as stop lights, stop signs, speed limits, etc. If I comply with all the rules, I am free to go anywhere I want. If I disregard or break the rules my freedom of choice will be curtailed progressively until I either comply or all my rights to drive will be taken away. If I egregiously break the law I can be put in jail and forbidden to drive. Even though I act under the control of an external authority, my freedom of choice is not hampered as long as I follow the rules of driving. I can drive anywhere I want as long as I follow the rules. Indeed, following the rules gives me the widest range of free will to drive. When I choose not to follow the rules, my freedom to drive is progressively diminished and eventually canceled completely.

    Our free will is not removed because God knows our future nor is our future predetermined without any hope of change. Someone may be sitting on a branch of a tree and sawing it off where the branch meets the trunk. Seeing this, I know that the person will eventually saw the branch off and fall down. I know the future of that person. Such knowledge does not preclude that person from continuing to saw off the branch and fall. Nor does my understanding of the probable future preclude that person from heeding my advice and saving himself from falling. Every person has two possible destinies. One destiny evolves by following the laws of society and learning the merits of good conduct and prudent action and the other by disregarding them. More profoundly, by following God’s instructions, one can change destiny; or, disregarding them, one becomes subject to the laws of material nature and is entrapped in reactive work or karmic destiny.

    When a company manufactures a machine like a washing machine, they also print a manual of instruction how to operate the machine so the user can get maximum use and satisfaction from it. If I purchase the machine and ignore the manual of instruction, I may not get the full use of the machine’s potential as well as perform some function in ignorance that may damage the machine. God created this world and has given His manual of instruction, the holy scriptures, how to live here and achieve our maximum potential. At any time, I may choose to follow His instructions or ignore them. If I follow His instructions, then God knows my future. If I don’t follow them, He also knows my future. In both cases, my free will is still intact and enables me to choose between the two options. God knows the future in either case.

 

generosity

  • Saint Gabriel – the psychopompe

    (Psychopompe (from the Greek word (psychopompos), literally meaning the “guide of souls”) are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage)

    Long, long ago before we were in this world, a mother and father had a son who was the object of their love. They could never bear to be separated from their lovely son.

    The years went by and the boy reached adulthood and his parents began to age. The parents decided to send their son to a foreign country for education and to learn about other cultures. The parents were wealthy. They wanted their son to become an apprentice of a businessman so that he could one day manage their wealth and sustain himself after marriage.

    The parents made an agreement with traveling merchants, who agreed to educate their son while he traveled with their caravan. The merchants went from town to town and beyond to foreign countries selling their wares and purchasing new merchandise. It would be an ideal experience for the son to learn business dealings firsthand.

    The merchants went far and wide with their new apprentice. The caravan arrived at a lonely, vast prairie where the merchants stopped for the night. The apprentice was given the duty to stay awake all night to guard the caravan while the others slept. The youth made rounds of the caravan and each time ventured farther away. He took the opportunity to familiarize himself with the prairie. There were many flowers and tall grasses. His continual walking made him thirsty. He looked for a source of pure water. At the foot of a hill that was covered with flowers, he found a spring. Fortunately, the night was lighted by the full moon. He bent over the spring and satisfied his thirst with the sweet water. When he stood up, he saw hoary vision of an old man standing near him. The youth was somewhat frightened by the sudden appearance of the old man. He questioned him.

    “Old man, who are you? What are you doing here in this desolate place so late at night?”

    “It is none of your business! You satisfied your thirst, so get on your way.”
    The youth was intrigued by the old man. He pressed him to find out who he was. Seeing the youth’s determination to question him, the old man answered his queries.

    “You want to know who am I? I am the Archangel Gabriel, the conductor of souls that die!”

    Hearing that the old man was “the conductor of dead soul,” frightened the youth. He became pale.

    Yet, the youth was frightened and curious at the same time. He hesitated leaving, then decided to continue questioning the old man.

    “Old man, if you are really the conductor of dead souls, tell me please, how do you take the soul of a dying man?”

    The old man replied, “Your question is a very grave and serious one. Since you ask sincerely, I cannot refuse an answer. You go to the nearest village. There is a deathly sick man whose soul I must take. Go and see him and you will witness how I take the soul of a dying man.”

    With the answer to his question, the youth became determined to witness the imminent death of the sick man. The youth returned to guard the caravan. Early the next. morning,
    The merchants decided to set up their wares in the next village. The youth did not tell them about his strange encounter with the old man. He was pleased that the merchants decided to stop in the next village.

    That evening after the sale of wares, the youth ventured toward to house of the deathly sick man. As he neared the house, he could hear the soft crying of the women. He asked permission to enter the bedroom where the man was dying. When the youth entered the bedroom, he was shocked to see the angel of death holding the head of the dying man as if in a deadly struggle. Suddenly the sick man’s face became limp and he breathed his last. The Archangel Gabriel looked at the youth and said, “Are you satisfied?”

    The youth was frightened by what he saw. He exited the bedroom and waited outside for St. Gabriel. Soon the hoary saint appeared and said, “My son, did you see how I extracted the soul of the dying man?”

    “Yes, I witnessed it. However, I have another serious question to ask you. But please, do not refuse to answer me. Oh, good-hearted saint, please tell me the day and the hour of my death.”

    “If I tell you, my dear boy, you will despair and regret you ever dared ask me such a question!”

    The youth, however, pleaded that the saint tell him the eventful day of his death. Seeing the youth’s determination to know is hour of death, Saint Gabriel repeated again that such a revelation would cause the youth great mental pain and anguish. The young man continued to insist he wanted to know.

    “So be it,” said Saint Gabriel. “I will take your soul on your wedding night when you and your bride retire.”

    Hearing this news, the youth felt devastated.

    After traveling for five years with the caravan of merchants, the youth learned well the art of business and finance. He became homesick for his parents. Determined to see them again, he left the caravan and ventured home.

    His return caused great joy for his parents. They prayed out loud, “Glory to God, our only child is again with us safe and sound. He has matured into a educated young man. Now, our duty is to find him a suitable wife.”

    When the young man heard his parents wish, he felt discouraged inwardly. He regretted returning home. But, he could not disappoint his parents who fervently wanted him to marry and have children to continue their family name for future generations.

    He requested his parents to give him a few days to think about their wish for him. He wrestled with the thought in his mind and finally came to a conclusion that he could accept. He thought, “I am the son of wealthy parents. If I marry the daughter of wealthy parents like mine, after my death, she will most probably remarry. My parents will not have anyone to pass their wealth to when they die. However, if I marry the daughter of a poor family, after my death, such a girl will not dare get remarried for fear that she will
    not inherit my parent’s wealth. Thus, the poor girl will inherit all the wealth of my parents and I will have done a noble, charitable act by marrying her.”

    After a few days, the young man told his parents that he would comply with their wish for him to get married. He insisted on one condition. He would only consent to marry the daughter of a poor family.

    The parents agreed to their son’s wish. They found several respectable intermediaries to ask families of their acquaintance if they had a marriageable daughter. The father made his own inquiries in a neighboring town. He was informed that there was a very modest family with seven daughters. The parents were honest and faithful Christians and their daughters were all obedient. He was introduced to the family. When the mother and daughters saw such a rich and prominent man enter their meager home, they hid behind a curtain and the father of the girls felt somewhat self-conscious about his poor appearance and was tongue-tied. The rich father excused himself and went to the town’s bazaar and purchased clothes for all the family members. He had the clothes delivered by the merchant with a note that he would return the next day.

    When he knocked at the door of the poor family, he was greeted greated by the parents and the shy daughters. After some polite discussion, the rich father revealed his purpose of seeking a suitable marriageable girl for his son.

    The poor mother was shocked. She said, “My dear lord, is it possible that such a wealthy and respectable man as you seeks to marry his son to a daughter of such a lowly family as ours. Do you really want to connect your noble family with ours? I sincerely think you should not entertain such an unconventional idea.”

    The rich father gently persisted and finally the poor mother consented to let one of her daughters marry the rich man’s son.

    The rich father returned home and arranged for carpenters and other home improvement professionals make significant improvements to the home of the poor family. He engaged an interior decorator to refurbish the entire house with amenities such as tapestries, rugs and new furniture. The poor family’s dwelling was soon trans formed into a small but opulent home.

    The poor family was also given ample funds to maintain themselves and also participate in making the arrangements for their daughter’s dowry and marriage. The wedding day arrived and everyone was excited to witness the marriage of the rich young man to the daughter of the modest family. After the marriage, there was a procession of the two families and their relatives that accompanied the newly weds to their new home. The musicians played the flutes and zourna along with the davul and tambourines. The people danced with joy and the newly weds were showered with flower petals and rice as they rode horse drawn buggy.

    Finally, the newly weds were in their new house and all the guests said goodbye and left except the young man’s parents. The new bride retired to her nuptial bedroom. But the young man looked sad and worried. His parents were perplexed by his sad demeanor. He fervently held his parent’s hands and kissed them gently thanking them for their years of sacrifice and love. They were somewhat taken aback by his emotion. Little did they understand that he was saying farewell to them for eternity.

    The young man’s parents left thinking how their son was so moved to express such powerful words of love for them. At first they were shocked by what seemed to be a profound sadness on his part. Then they realized that their boy was expressing profound love and respect for them. They too were moved to tears by his words. The young man waited for a while on the steps of his house as his parents walked away.

    When he turned to enter the house, there was the archangel Gabriel waiting for him in the living room house. Saint Gabriel and the young groom were alone.

    Saint Gabriel was holding two lit candles with two ornate red roses. The saint spoke softly to the young man.

    “Very well done, my son. You have acted wisely and generously by marrying the poor girl and helping her family out of poverty for the rest of their lives. I will spare you the horror of death on your nuptial night. I bless you to live a long life because your gracious example of sacrifice to help the poor and underprivileged will serve as an example to inspire the youth of your generation. I pray that other young men and women learn the merits of such noble behavior that you have voluntarily exemplified.”

    Thus, the noble young man was spared death by his acts of charity for the poor and respect and love for his parents. May the reader also achieve the benediction of God and fruition of his or her most cherished desires.

  • The more a man is generous, the better his future will be

    vorkan mart aradatzehr ullah, aynkan abakahn pari gullah

    There was a poor Armenian priest with a young daughter. His wife had died during childbirth.The priest would go see the king everyday during his public audience. The priest would repeat a phrase he learned when he was a young boy.

    “Dear King, may you live long, ‘the more a man is generous, the better his future will be.’”

    The king would give him a silver coin for his good counsel. The priest
    would use the silver coin to maintain his small church and feed his daughter.

    One day, the king thought, “Why am I giving the priest a silver coin everyday for repeating the same sentence. Why does he say the same thing everyday? Is he mocking me as if I am not generous?”

    When the priest came for the audience, the king asked, “Why do you repeat the same phrase every time you see me? Are you making fun of me?”

    The priest said, “No Sire.”

    “Today, I will give you nothing. When you explain why you repeat the same thing everyday, I will reward you. If not, I will punish you severely,” said the king.

    The priest returned home in despair. The phrase he repeated everyday to the king was by habit. His father had taught him and he repeated it because it had a good message and encouraged people to be generous. He was not sure if such an explanation would satisfy the king.

    His young daughter approached the priest. “Father, why are you looking so worried? Has something happened?”

    “I am not sure you can help,” said the priest. “You are so young and innocent. The king will kill me unless I explain why I repeat the phrase
    ‘The more a man is generous, the better his future will be,’ everyday when I see him.”

    The daughter asked the priest to send a note to the king asking him to visit the church and speak to his young daughter. She would explain why the priest repeated the same proverb every day to the king.

    The next day the king came to see the young girl. She told him she could explain the meaning, but it was more important that he hear it from a saintly young hermit who lived in the same cave where Narekgatzi lived centuries before on the bank of Lake Van.

    The king found the young hermit and asked him why the priest always repeated the same phrase. The saintly hermit began to shed tears. He advised the king to hear the meaning from a leper woman who lived in a cave near the Sourp Garabed monastery on the outskirts of Mush.

    The king found the leper woman and asked her why the priest always repeated the same phrase to him.

    She began to speak in a solemn tone. “Listen, great king, may you live long. In your former life, you were a very generous man who gave most of the profit from his business to to the poor and needy. You and you saintly wife, whose heart was pure, were satisfied to live a modest life so that you could do good to others. You had an only son who was always obedient to you. He was married to a woman who was greedy. Soon after you died, your wife also died and, by a quirk of fate you son died after a few years. The greedy wife of your son inherited the business and wealth. She was not interested in giving in charity. She used the wealth in a selfish and self-serving way.”

    “Your wife is now the daughter of the priest. Your son is the hermit. And I am your son’s wife. Look what has happened to me for being greedy and unkind to the poor! I am suffering terribly because I did not use my hands to give to the poor. They are now shriveled and stumps of suffering. It was necessary that you hear this explanation from me.”

    The king returned to his palace and became more determined than ever to share his good fortune and wealth with the needy and do good for all his kingdom’s subjects.

 

frustration

  • What (bits and pieces of grain) will the bird eat if the water mill has no water (to make it work)

    chour counetzogh chahghahtzuh eench uhneh aroun

  • I know the means (to solve my problem), but I don’t have the means (to do it).

    Jhar kihdhem paytz jhar chounem

 

frugality

  • If you want little you will find plenty (in life) or one who is satisfied with little will find plenty

    Keechov kohatzoghuh shaduh guh kuhtneh

    There is wisdom in self control. Limitless desires cause unending misery. Most of us do not really know what we need. We desire things that are not necessary and obtaining them complicates our life so that our attention is diverted from what is essential. Even if we obtain many things, we are never really satisfied.

    What is more detrimental: never being satisfied with more and more accumulated things, or being satisfied with little?

    Little means the essential things in life, respect for family, good relationships, minimum material needs and maximum time for spiritual inquiry and sharing love with others.

    A drowning man screamed for help. A man approached in a row boat and offered him two tickets to a rock concert, a free ticket for a dinner at Denny’s, an airline ticket for a vacation in Mexico, etc. The drowning man refused his kind gifts and begged him,

    “Please lift me out of the water to the safety of your boat.”

    The drowning man knew exactly what was most essential for him and asked for it without being deviated by useless things. We are all drowning in the ocean of old age, disease and death, but we cannot see what we really want for our ultimate good. We clutter our life with so many useless things that divert our attention from the real purpose of life.

 

fright

  • Fearless – ahnyehrgiough

    An old man once claimed that he was without fear
    Of ghosts, goblins or strange things that might appear
    Superstitions of the ignorant, old wives tales
    Made up stories to daunt and cause the mind to ail

    He boasted to his friends, “Send me anywhere
    Where there are evil spirits that might scare
    One friend asked, “Can you stay overnight
    in a graveyard without deep sleep or fright?”

    “Oh sure,” he said without hesitation
    “I’ll brave the night with no trepidation.”
    That night he stayed in that hoary, dark place
    til dawn no apparition, not a trace

    “Just see,” he said, “ghosts and ghouls don’t exist
    Though I stayed throughout the night in their midst.”
    He walked out the graveyard with happy mien
    Musing why silly folks fear the unseen

    Unnoticed were briars with thorns on the ground
    That caught his long cloak, pulled back without sound
    Shocked out of his wits as if dragged to death
    Imagined evil ghosts and exhaled his last breath

 

friends

  • You may be squeezed into a small space, but give plenty of room to your friend

    kehz nehgh ahrah, uhngehrochut degh ahrah

  • Everyone who says hello is not necessarily a friend

    ahmehn pahrehv duhvogh pahrehgahm cheh

  • The friend who helps me and the enemy who does me no harm, make a pair of earrings.

  • As mills require two stones, so friendship requires two heads.

  • Friendship is not born of words alone.

    paregamoutioun meeahyne khosgohv chee dzuhnveer

  • You can recognize real friend in troubled times

    paregamuh portzankee metch eh janahchoum

  • The (clay) pot tumbled and found a lid

    buhdoukuh kuhldohrvetzahv, khoup kuhdhav

    This saying conveys the meaning that two people have found each other (as in a compatible union).

  • We can never again becomes friends, because you are suffering from the loss of life of your son and I, my tail

    mehnk aylyevus chehnk gurnarh parehgamanahl eerahrou,
    vorovheddehv toun giankee yev yes botchee tzahv ouneenk

    There is a story behind this proverbial saying. Snakes have often been an important part of Armenian folk beliefs. Armenians have entertained the belief that each house had a guardian snake or house snake that brought good fortune (paroroutioun barkevogh in Armenian or bharakeht in Turkish , which means blessing). Snakes also were known for being attracted to a woman’s beauty and melodious singing.

    One day a seven or eight year old boy played with the house snake and carelessly used a pen knife to cut the snake’s tail. The pain of the wound enraged the snake who bit the small boy. The snake crawled away from the house. The small boy died shortly after from the snake’s poison.

    Years passed. The house which the snake left was plagued by bad fortune.The father of the house experienced business losses and all the members of the family had troubles. The family friends and acquaintances attributed the misfortunes to the departure of the house snake.

    The father of the house began to travel far and wide to find the snake. Finally, one day on a large boulder the snake appeared before the father and heard his entreaties. The snake said, “Here I am.”

    The father pleaded that the snake return to the house. He explained the misfortunes that plagued the family since the departure of the snake. He stated that he was convinced that all the misfortune was caused by the departure of the snake. He then swore to forgive the snake for poisoning his son if he returned with him to the house. The snake refused to return and explained, “We can never again becomes friends, because you are suffering from your loss of life (your son) and I, my tail.” This statement has become a proverb to this day.

    If we ignore the folk belief in the benefits of prosperity and good fortune by having a snake living in the proximity of the home, we can discover other truisms in this proverb. Notice the father is ready to forgive the snake but the snake is not ready to forgive the father’s boy. It is very significant. Snakes are actually very envious creatures. They have a poisoned tongue and slitter in dark places waiting for unsuspecting prey. They never forgive especially if they are disturbed. For the most part, their poison is lethal and acts very quickly causing a horrible death. They can be vengeful.

    Satan is portrayed as a snake in the story of Adam and Eve. He spitefully caused the fall of the couple from the grace of God and their carefree existence in paradise.

    Poisonous snakes can never be domesticated like other animals. Their nature is to be envious and reptiles of prey. The only recourse is to break their fangs and force them to eject all their poison. Then and only then can the snake’s ferocious nature be curbed without fear of being poisoned to death.

    There are many meanings to decipher from this story and proverb. When a person manifests an envious and unforgiving nature they are as dangerous as a poisonous snake. Such a person cannot be placated by anything except the complete undoing of their so-called adversary. There is a difference between envy and jealousy. When one is jealous of someone else they covet what the other person has. Once they attain the same or better, then their jealousy subsides. However, an envious person is never satisfied by attaining the same or better than another. They will only be satisfied when the other person loses everything they have. An envious person is the most dangerous because they are never satisfied until the other person is destroyed.

    There was once a two-headed snake. The two heads would argue incessantly. They hated each other although they were attached to the same body. One day, one of the two decided to end this constant torture so he swallowed poison and they both died.

    The question in my mind is does one evolve blessings or good fortune by having a house snake? There are many other snake stories interwoven in Armenian folklore and real experiences of the people. I will illustrate more of them. What they convey is that there is a definite personality and individual identity of each snake.

    The snakes are treated as persons that people talk to and relate to in the normal course of life. Snakes have certain powers that Armenians and other ancient people have recognized. Armenians even offered a certain veneration to snakes as the following story illustrates. This is a story told by a gentleman named Bhaghdasar Kevorkian.

    “My beautiful mother’s home was next to a huge cave. In her house there was a a passage way to a small room. My beautiful mother would enter that small room every Saturday night and light a candle and pray to her patron saints. One Saturday night as was her habit she lit a candle and left it burning. The next day (Sunday morning) when she entered the room she saw a snaked curled up next to the candle. The snake was observing the candle which was nearly burned out. My mother talked to the snake. “haidhe, knah aysdeghen, ays sourp degh eh – Away with you, go away from here, this is a holy place.” The snake quietly went away. Another gentleman remembers the following from his childhood. “In his family house in Turkey, he remembered a pantry room where there was an open space or large crevice in one wall. His mother told him that their house snake ( bahhabahn otzin – the protective snake of their house) lived in that large crevice. His mother considered the snake as protecting and blessing their house. She would regularly lite a candle for the snake every day.

    There were certain persons who were expert in the art of otz gahb (literally “tying a snake” or saying certain words and murmuring phrases that rendered the snake immovable or stationary for a period of time). The snake could only move when the expert in otz gahb released them from the spell that was cast on them. Mrs. Hripseme Aslanian has related a true experience she had. She was born in Chounkoush, Turkey. When she was eight years old (1915), she witnessed the massacre of her family and relatives by Turkish soldiers. She was left an orphan and was saved from death by a Turkish family that took her to a nearby village and raised her. Around 1932, she accompanied the Turkish family back to Chounkoush for a wedding. When in Chounkoush, she asked permission of her adoptive father to go back to to see the ruins of her family home in the abandoned section of town where the Armenians once lived. She searched the ruins of the Armenian quarter and found the remains of her family home. The desolation and loneliness of that place affected her so much that she sat down under a tree and began to cry pitiably remembering her family and the horrors they suffered. She gradually fainted from the pain and sorrow of the remembrance. When her adoptive family did not see her return, they began to search for her. They found her in a unconscious stupor laying on the ground under a tree. They also saw a snake that was curled up very close to her. The snake was the “house snake” that lived in her family house during her childhood. Thinking she was poisoned by the snake, one of the men pulled his gun to kill the snake.

    But another man, stopped him. He then used his powers to incapacitate the snake or “tie it” by murmuring prayers or incantations that he knew. The snake was motionless due to the incantations. They revived the girl and examined her to see if she was bitten by the snake. When it was determined she was not bitten by the snake, the snake expert released the snake from his mesmerized stupor and ordered it, “Go back to your place”. The snake slide back into the ruins of her family house.

    It is said, “Poor Chounkush, even your snakes are gladdened when they see a live Armenian.”

  • Don’t get into the same sac with a dog

    sahn hed dohbrahguh mee muhdnar

    Don’t get into the same sac with a dog.

    Don’t associate yourself with unworthy people.

  • Bad friends are like hot coals: if they don’t burn you, they make your hand black

    Vad parehgamner mogheeree bes yen, yeteh tzerkut chee aieeryi guh sevtzeneh

  • They are two halves of the same apple

    Meg kntzoree ghes en

    This proverb is used to show a remarkable resemblance between two persons.