Religion: China, once officially atheist, now booming with religion.

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Religion: DAVIS, Calif. (RNS) When Ian Johnson first went to China as a student three decades ago, he pronounced religion there “dead.”But Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist now based in Berlin and Beijing, has witnessed a transformation, one he documents in “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao,” published in April. China is experiencing “one of the great religious revivals of our time,” Johnson writes. “Across China, hundreds of temples, mosques and churches open each year, attracting millions of new worshippers. … Faith and values are returning…

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Hollywood composer writes Mass for his mother

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hollywood-composer:(RNS) Most sons send their mom a card or maybe some flowers for Mother’s Day. Film composer Stephen Edwards, a Catholic, wrote his mom a requiem Mass, complete with 50-voice children’s choir, a 100-voice adult choir and 50 musicians. Oh, and he got it performed at the Vatican and it aired on Italian television. Hollywood composer:This weekend, “Requiem for My Mother,” an hourlong documentary about Edwards, his mom and the staging of the requiem, airs on most PBS stations. Edwards, who is 55 and has scored dozens of films and television shows, talked with…

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No other artist mixed religion and sex like Prince

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religion :(RNS) When Prince died a year ago, he was called a game changer, an iconoclast, an innovator and a sex god by critics, fellow musicians, friends and fans. But one word lost in the grief and shock was “Christian.” Prince Rogers Nelson, whose 40 albums and 100 singles sold over 100 million records worldwide, was found dead from an overdose of painkillers in Paisley Park, his Minnesota mansion, on April 21, 2016. The 57-year-old singer, songwriter and musician created music that was as infused with his own deep faith…

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Reformation exhibit highlights art as teaching tool and propaganda

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Reformation exhibit :MINNEAPOLIS (RNS) When it came to art, Martin Luther was much more interested in music than in the visual arts. He once called music “half a sacrament” and said, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” But Luther also recognized images had the power to teach ­– a powerful form of communication the church could use, said David Morgan, professor and chair of the department of religious studies at Duke University. “So from the beginning, he defended the…

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How the earthly and divine came together on the walls of a Basque church

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Basque church:ANTEZANA DE FORONDA, Spain (RNS) The Iglesia de San Miguel is the pride of this tiny town in Spain’s Basque Country. Yet the 16th-century church, with its spectacular wooden carvings and baroque altarpiece, had fallen on hard times. Residents had saved the church once, decades ago, when they mobilized to fight an airport extension, just steps away from their beloved sanctuary. In recent years, forces of nature and passage of time were taking their toll on the town shrine. “We saw our cultural identity slipping away,” explained Diego Bermejo, a…

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Bruce Herman’s unconventional path to success as a Christian artist

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Bruce Herman’s :GLOUCESTER, Mass. (RNS) On two walls in the sky-lit studio of artist Bruce Herman hangs a set of eight intimate portraits. Each face locks eyes directly with the viewer’s and won’t let go, as if crying out to forge a personal connection and unload a life’s story. The effect is mesmerizing and makes each painting worth thousands. But admirers of Herman’s work aren’t going to find it for sale in any gallery. That’s because this Christian artist has blazed an unconventional trail to success in the arts marketplace.…

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Exhibit explores Israeli artists’ complex relationship with Jesus

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Exhibit explores Israeli artists’ complex relationship with Jesus Jesus:JERUSALEM (RNS) At the center of the Israel Museum’s blockbuster exhibit “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art” is a life-size photograph of a woman draped in black caressing the head of a small baby asleep on her lap. Micha Kirshner’s 1988 image “Aisha El-Kord, Khan Younis Refugee Camp” may evoke the politics of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it just as powerfully conjures the pietà, or the Roman Catholic tradition of painting and sculpture in which the Virgin Mary holds the dead body…

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Wonderfully made: How churches are seizing on gallery spaces for art

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churches:LEXINGTON, Mass. (RNS) When psychologist Bob Bass retired five years ago, he knew his photography hobby would be good for his spiritual well-being. But he never expected an evangelical megachurch would help him, a liberal Unitarian, become a full-fledged artist. That’s what’s happened through the Grace Chapel Art Gallery in Lexington, Mass., one of hundreds that have cropped up or expanded in U.S. churches over the past decade. At Grace, a simple hallway has become a destination, not only for local art lovers but also for budding talents like Bass,…

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Christians find God in US national parks

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Christians :BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Utah (Deseret News) The short, black cross is almost an afterthought, wheeled out of a supply closet moments before introductions begin. Its arrival wraps up 20 minutes of guitar practice and nervous chatter, all part of prepping for a weekly worship service. “You have to sing loud and help me out,” says Gabrielle Sheeley, a 20-year-old college student from upstate New York, to the three young people sitting near her on the edge of a wooden stage. The cross sits in a supply closet six…

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The ’Splainer: What is Laylat al-Qadr, Muslims’ ‘Night of Destiny

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Splainer:(RNS) The ’Splainer (as in “You’ve got some ’splaining to do”) is an occasional feature in which the RNS staff gives you everything you need to know about current events to hold your own at the water cooler. The attack early Monday (June 19) at a mosque overflowing with worshippers in London, which injured 11 people — and which British Prime Minister Theresa May called a “sickening” terrorist attack — occurred during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the most intensive period of the Islamic holy month. Security forces are on…

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Pope tells NFL legends he backs a ‘different’ kind of football

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pope:VATICAN CITY (RNS) It may not have been his kind of “football,” and he may not have much use for his new helmet, but Pope Francis welcomed a group of NFL veterans and told them their sport has “virtues.”Curtis Martin, Ronnie Lott, Floyd Little and other Hall of Famers met with the pope for a private audience and presented him with his own personalized jersey emblazoned with “Papa Francesco” and the numeral 1, as well as a signed gold helmet. “As many of you know, I am an avid follower…

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What About the Real World

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C H A P T E R   3 What About the Real World?  Real World:Looking from the Belly  Looking from the Heart adds richness to experience and opens up whole new dimensions to daily life, and yet often there is resistance to truly resting in the Heart. It can seem impractical or too vulnerable to consistently view the world in such an expanded, open, uncensored way. So we often return to our old habit of looking through the mind and its false sense of being in control. The mind…

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Another Way to Sense Your World

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C H A P T E R   2   Another Way to Sense Your World   World :The Flexibility of Perspective  Despite the habitual tendency to look out from your head, it is actually quite simple to move the point where your perspective originates from. Some have suggested that dyslexics have an unusually flexible perspective that moves so freely that, in a sense, they can see words on a page from both the front and back. As a result, they can see letters in their usual order and also…

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We Are All Baby Ducks

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C H A P T E R   1   We Are All Baby Ducks  Baby Ducks:You may think it matters what happens. But what if the only thing that matters is where you are experiencing from, where you are looking from? What if you could experience all of life from a spacious, open perspective where anything can happen and there is room for all of it, where there is no need to pick and choose, to put up barriers or resist any of it, where nothing is a problem…

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ATTAINMENT (Arudha)

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CHAPTER IV ATTAINMENT (Arudha) 1.Arudha:What is the state of attainment of knowledge? It is firm and effortless abidance in the Self in which the mind which has become one with the Self does not subsequently emerge again at any time. That is, just as everyone usually and naturally has the idea, ‘I am not a goat nor a cow nor any other animal but a human’, when he thinks of his body, so also when he has the idea ‘I am not the principles (tattwas) beginning with the body and…

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EXPERIENCE (Anubhava)

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CHAPTER  III EXPERIENCE (Anubhava) Anubhava:1. What is the light of consciousness? It is the self-luminous existence-consciousness which reveals to the seer the world of names and forms both inside and outside. The existence of this existence-consciousness can be inferred by the objects illuminated by it. It does not become the object of consciousness. 2. What is knowledge (vijnana)? It is that tranquil state of existence-consciousness which is experienced by the aspirant and which is like the waveless ocean or the motionless ether. 3. Anubhava:What is bliss? It is the experience…

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PRACTICE (Abhyasa)

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CHAPTER  II PRACTICE (Abhyasa) Abhyasa:1. What is the method of practice? As the Self of a person who tries to attain Self-realization is not different from him and as there is nothing other than or superior to him to be attained by him, Self-realization being only the realization of one’s own nature, the seeker of liberation realizes, without doubts or misconceptions, his real nature by distinguishing the eternal from the transient, and never swerves from his natural state. This is known as the practice of knowledge. This is the enquiry…

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INSTRUCTION

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CHAPTER  I INSTRUCTION INSTRUCTION:(Upadesa) 1. What are the marks of a real teacher (Sadguru)? Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye, unshakeable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances, etc. 2. What are the marks of an earnest disciple (sadsishya)? An intense longing for the removal of sorrow and attainment of joy and an intense aversion for all kinds of mundane pleasure. 3. What are the characteristics of instruction (upadesa)? The word ‘upadesa’ means, ‘near the place or seat’ (upa – near, desa…

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RENUNCIATION

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CHAPTER  XI RENUNCIATION RENUNCIATION:In this chapter the entire effacement of thought is said to be the only true sannyasa (renunciation*). Sannyasa or renunciation is not the discarding of external things but of the ego. To such renouncers* (sannyasins) there exists no difference between solitude and active life. The Rishi Vasistha says: ‘Just as a man, whose mind is preoccupied, is not aware of what is in front of him, so also the Sage, though engaged in work, is not the doer thereof, because his mind is immersed in the Self…

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH OF KNOWLEDGE

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CHAPTER  X THE  EIGHTFOLD  PATH  OF  KNOWLEDGE KNOWLEDGE:In this chapter is described the jnanamarga (the path of Knowledge) which leads to Self-Realization through realization that the Supreme is One and Indivisible. Detailed description of the phases of jnana ashtanga (the eightfold path of Knowledge) such as yama and niyama is beyond the scope of this small work. Exhalation in this path means giving up the two aspects of name and form, of body and world. Inhalation is taking in (grasping) the sat (being), chit 40 Words of Grace (consciousness), ananda…

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH OF YOGA

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CHAPTER  IX THE  EIGHTFOLD  PATH  OF  YOGA EIGHTFOLD  PATH:In this chapter is described the path of yoga for obtaining Self-Realization, getting control of the mind through control of breath. For achieving devotion in the form of meditation described in the previous chapter, steps like yama and niyama (the first two stages in ashtanga or eightfold yoga, explained below) are prescribed. These have two forms, one of the nature of yoga and the other of jnana. Control over breath is yoga. Elimination of the mind is jnana. Which of these comes…

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LIBERATION

CHAPTER VIII   LIBERATION LIBERATION:This chapter teaches that Liberation can indeed be obtained by constant and prolonged meditation on the Self in the form of  ‘Sivoham’ (I am Siva) which means ‘I am Atman’.  The characteristics of  Jivanmukti (Liberation in this life) and Videhamukti (Liberation after death) are described. Because the individual self, which is nothing but the mind, has lost the knowledge of its identity with the real Self, and has enmeshed itself in bondage, its search for the Self, its own eternal primal nature, resembles that of the…

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WORSHIP OF GOD

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CHAPTER VII WORSHIP  OF  GOD worship:In this chapter it is said that perennial awareness of the Self is real worship and penance (tapas). The purpose of worshipping the Impersonal Supreme Being is the incessant remembrance of the truth that you are Brahman, because the meditation ‘I am Brahman’ comprises sacrifice, gifts, penance, ritual, prayer, yoga and worship. The only way to overcome obstructions to your meditation is to forbid the mind to dwell on them and to introvert it into the Self and there witness unconcernedly all that happens; there…

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KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUPREME SELF

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CHAPTER VI KNOWLEDGE  OF  THE  SUPREME  SELF SUPREME SELF:In this chapter is described the method of realizing the Self. When the mind in the form of the ego, which takes the body for the Self and strays outwards, is curbed within the Heart the sense of ‘I’ in the body relinquished, and enquiry made with a still mind as to who it is that dwells in the body, a subtle illumination will be experienced as ‘I-I’ which is no other than the Absolute, SUPREME SELF:the Self, seated in the lotus…

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THE SUPREME BEING

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CHAPTER  V THE  SUPREME  BEING SUPREME:In this chapter it is shown that the form of the Self is the form of God and He is in the form of ‘I-I’ The universal principle underlying the correspondence between the ideas ‘within’ and the objects ‘without’ is the true significance of the term ‘mind’. Therefore, SUPREME:the body and the world which appear as external to oneself are only mental reflections. SUPREME:It is only the Heart that manifests in all these forms. In the Core of the all-comprehensive Heart, that is, in the…

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THE EGO (JIVA)

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CHAPTER  IV THE  EGO (JIVA)  EGO:In this chapter the Self (Atma) itself is said to be the ego (Jiva) and the nature of the ego is explained. The mind is nothing else than the ‘I’-thought. The mind and the ego are one and the same. Intellect, will, ego, and individuality  are  collectively the same  mind.  It  is  like a man 26 Words of Grace being variously described according to his different activities. The individual is nothing else than the ego which, again is only the mind. Simultaneously with the rise…

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THE WORLD

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CHAPTER III THE  WORLD WORLD:In this chapter it is shown that the world has no reality of its own and does not exist apart from the Self. Creation: The main purpose of the scriptures is to expose the illusory nature of the world and to reveal the Supreme Spirit as the only Reality. They have built up the theory of creation with this sole end in view. They even go into details and entertain the lowest order of seekers with the narration of the 1 successive appearance of the Spirit,…

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THE MIND

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CHAPTER II THE  MIND MIND:In this chapter are described briefly the nature of the mind, its states and location According to the Hindu scriptures an entity known as the ‘mind’, is derived from the subtle essence of the food consumed; which flourishes as love, hatred, lust, anger, and so on; which is the totality of mentality, intellect, desire, and ego; which, although it has such diverse functions, bears the generic name ‘mind’, which is objectified as the insentient objects cognized by us; which, though itself insentient, appears to be sentient,…

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WHO AM I

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CHAPTER I WHO  AM  I ? enquiry:In this chapter is given clearly the path of enquiry into the Self, or ‘Who Am I?’ Is not the sense of ‘I’ natural to all beings, expressed in all their feelings as ‘I came’, ‘I went’, ‘I did’, or ‘I was’? On questioning what this is, we find that the body is identified with ‘I’ because movements and similar functions pertain to the body. Can the body then be this ‘I-consciousness’? It was not there 1 before birth, it is composed of the…

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THE FUTURE

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CHAPTER 36 THE FUTURE Back to the Table of Contents future:Question: I  thought  I  just  read  in  Chapter  Twenty-Seven  that  time  doesn’t  exist. What are you doing calling the last chapter in this book “The Future?” Answer: You’re right. FUTURE:But I also said in Chapter Twenty that “I can still dream;” and that’s what I’d like to do – dream a little about the future – as long as I don’t get attached to the fulfillment of those dreams. Actually, toward the end of your time in the cocoon, you…

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