Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Texas Faith 3: What's the role of emotion in shaping religious faith?

Here is another new series,
Recently I was invited to participate in the Texas Faith Panel. This new column in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie/Editorial Columnist describes as follows ,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
This weeks question.President Barack Obama has made it clear that he wanted a Supreme Court justice with a sense of empathy. Since then, a debate has ballooned up about what empathy means.

Some see it as a code word for judicial activism. Some see it as a trait needed to understand a litigant. The New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote last week that:

"People without social emotions like empathy are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row....But because we're emotional creatures in an idiosyncratic world, it's prudent to have judges who are cautious, incrementalist and minimalist."

I'm not looking for your views on whether Sonia Sotomayor would make a good justice, but I am interested in your thoughts about the role -- and limits -- of emotion in guiding individuals.

People of faith clearly have been known to be passionate about their beliefs. The joy they have in their faith often is seen as a positive, even by skeptics.

But here's the question of the week: How much can anyone rely upon emotion in shaping their religious experience and the way they act in the world?
and here was the response:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

There is no possibility of personal relationship without emotion. Religion means to develop one's loving relationship with God. Such a relationship involves emotion.

The soul is different from the body as a driver is different from his vehicle. Emotion is properly utilized when the individual acts upon the spiritual emotions of the soul, selfless service to God, rather than just the selfish motivations of the body.

There are 9 stages in developing ones spiritual perfection, a loving relationship with God. They are as follows:

1)Shraddha, Initial faith, then one seeks, 2)Sadhu Sanga, Saintly association, by such association one begins, 3)Bhajana-Kriya, Engaging in service with devotion, which causes, 4)Anarta nivritti, The unwanted tendencies in the heart to be eradicated, which is then followed by 5)Nistha, Firm faith which leads to, 6)Ruchi, Pure taste for devotion to God 7)Asakti, Actual attachment to God, 8)Bhava, Preliminary love of God, 9)Prema, Full in loving relationship with the Lord.

If one is governed by emotions that are motivated by the desires and needs of the material body and mind, one will be stunted in their spiritual growth. However if one purifies the mind, as in stage 4, from all lust, greed, envy, etc, then one can properly utilize ones emotions in spiritual growth.

As Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita Ch6.4-6,
"A person is said to be elevated in yoga when, having renounced all material desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in fruitive activities.

One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy."

Hare Krishna :)
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

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