Dallas Morning News,
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.
Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote last week about Chanukah, describing it as “the holiday celebrating the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, the powerless over the powerful.”
He went on to say that Chanukah is about “understanding that when we connect with the transformative power of the universe, the Force of Healing and Transformation, YHVH, we become aware that the powerless can become powerful, that oppression of any sort is in contradiction to the fundamental nature of human beings as loving, kind, generous, free, creative, intelligent, attuned to beauty, caring for and needing each other beings created in the image of God. When that energy and awareness permeates our consciousness, no ruling elite and no system of exploitation can possibly last for very long.”
Of course, this also is the month when Christians will hear much about bringing joy to the world, peace on earth and goodwill to all.
But is that so? Is it really possible to heal the world?
Some whose theology predicts an end-times see the world as marching from bad to worse, with God intervening at the end. Others hold to a theology that sees them as being used by God to bring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Still others are neither so fatalistic nor optimistic.
Where do you stand? What does your faith tradition say about healing the world?
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
This temporary material world serves as an impetus for us souls to give up a false lordship over the temporary. Actually we are not our bodies, we are not black, white, Republican, Democrat, and so on. We are an eternal spirit soul inhabiting a temporary vehicle. This vehicle has four major problems that everyone overlooks: old age, disease, death and then birth again.
In our factual existence there is no death or old age. Therefore, to really have a heavenly life means to have a life free from death. Just as one cannot truly enjoy a meal that you know would be your last, so similarly no soul will find satisfaction in the temporary. That is how the material world is designed. It is designed as temporary and thus is always dissatisfying, and that will not change.
However, those who are in constant contact with the Supreme find ever new bliss and satisfaction in that relationship. Such bliss in relation to the eternal is ever increasing and can be experienced in this world.
As time goes on, social culture decreases and materialism will increase. That is called Kali Yuga, but this also creates a clearer view that the temporary cannot satisfy.
So as things get worse, a few intelligent or fortunate souls can see the futility of material advancement and thus take shelter of the eternal. Those who take shelter of God will find their hearts gradually become godly and thus they can experience heaven even in hell, what to speak of Earth.
The greatest charity one can do is learning how to love God and teaching others to do so. In this way, one can create a golden age.