All posts by Aradhana Devi Dasi

Why an AYURVEDIC DIET ?

BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Ayurvedic Food Combining

For many, the concept of food combining—the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not—is entirely new, and somewhat foreign. But according to Ayurveda, it is an essential part of understanding how to eat properly, just as discovering one’s constitution and state of imbalance is important for one’s Ayurvedic self-discovery. Careful food combining can dramatically improve the quality of digestion, support the body in receiving a deeper level of nourishment, and positively impact our overall health.

However, most people in the modern world are accustomed to eating a number of foods that do not usually digest well together (like fruit with nuts, or beans with cheese). So why does it matter? The Ayurvedic perspective is that each food has a distinct combination of tastes and energies—and a corresponding effect on both the digestive system and on the body as a whole. Combining foods with radically different energetics can overwhelm the digestive fire (agni) and can cause indigestion, fermentation, gas, bloating, and the creation of toxins.1 This is why proper food combining is so important. Of course, certain combinations disturb the digestive tract more than others—an important consideration if this practice is entirely new to you. Regardless of your particular habits or symptoms, paying attention to how you combine foods can provide a valuable opportunity for insight, healing, and improved health. Remember, food combining is not about imposing black and white rules. It is one among many powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving digestive health and overall wellness.

A Balanced Approach to Food Combining

It is usually best to embrace the idea of food combining slowly and gently, allowing plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations. Some of the recommended adjustments are relatively simple; others can require a major recalibration in our habits, or be met with resistance. Often, simply developing an awareness of the improper food combinations that you eat somewhat regularly is a great place to start. Notice which foods you combine that may be difficult to digest together, and how often you indulge in them. Become aware of how you feel afterward. Do these choices affect your energy level, your digestion, your elimination, the coating on your tongue? Are particular combinations more noticeably influential than others? These are all important pieces of information. They can confirm the importance of proper food combining and can help each of us to identify the food combinations that are the most disruptive to our systems.

When you are feeling motivated and decide that you are ready to start adapting your diet to accommodate more supportive food combinations, consider tackling just one change at a time. Perhaps you’ll start by eating fruits alone, rather than in combination with other foods. Over time, you can gradually progress toward the ideal. While it would certainly be nice to avoid improper food combinations altogether, reducing their frequency can also be incredibly beneficial. If you do find that some specific food combinations are more problematic for you or your loved ones than others, focus your efforts on changing just those in the beginning. The most important first step is to become aware of your needs and your habits; from there, you can evolve an approach to food combining that works for you.

Combinations to Reduce or Avoid

The following list highlights incompatible foods and offers suggestions for more appropriate combinations. It is meant to be a helpful guide, not an exhaustive list. In fact, you may be aware of other combinations that do not work for your body. Honor those instincts. Because this resource is meant to help you determine optimal combinations at a glance, there is some repetition. Combinations listed in all caps are particularly challenging.

Compatible and Incompatible Foods: A List

Yes, some of these are staple combinations in many households. Pizza and a number of other beloved Italian dishes combine nightshades with cheese. And who among us hasn’t enjoyed beans with cheese at some time or another? Then there’s the fruit and yogurt taboo… So much for about 80% of all available store-bought varieties of yogurt; next time you indulge in a fruit-flavored yogurt, pay attention to how your digestion feels afterwards.In addition, there are some specific preparations that are challenging when combined with particular foods.

Supportive Food Combinations in Ayurveda
All of these rules can feel overwhelming, even irritatingly complicated. But, the rationale behind proper food combining really does make sense. Ultimately, combining mismatched foods generates ama , a toxic substance that is often at the root of imbalance and disease.2 But, for those of you who would like to understand a little more about HOW and WHY these food combinations tax our bodies, here are a few specific examples:

Bananas and Milk

Though commonly eaten together, bananas and milk are challenging to digest together because their qualities are so different. Bananas are heating while milk is cooling. That alone is problematic. Further, bananas become sour as they break down. So now our digestive fire has to process a sour substance and milk at the same time. Ever added a squeeze of lemon to milk? Or maybe you’ve poured a little milk into a tangy, fruity tea… only to watch it curdle instantly? What happens to these mismatched foods in the digestive tract is not much different. When bananas and milk are eaten together, their opposing qualities tend to smother the digestive fire and can disrupt the balance of intestinal flora, which results in the creation of toxins. This combination also frequently causes congestion, colds, coughs, allergies, hives, and rashes.2 A similar situation arises when we combine any sour fruit with milk.3

Eating Fruits Alone

The reason fruits are best enjoyed on their own is that fruit is usually somewhat acidic, fairly simple to digest, and often digests quite quickly. When fruits are eaten with other foods, there is usually a significant discrepancy between the amount of time required to properly digest the fruit versus the more complex food. Inhibited by the more complex food, the fruit tends to move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas, and bloating. In addition, the combination typically introduces a number of conflicting qualities into the digestive tract all at once, which has the potential to overwhelm or stifle the digestive fire.

Nightshades and Cheese

This combination is simply too taxing for the digestive fire. A nightshade is a common name for a member of the plant family Solanaceae, which includes potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cayenne peppers, paprika, tobacco, henbane, belladonna, datura, and over 2,500 other plants. Nightshades contain alkaloids, primarily as a means of defense against being damaged by insects. The alkaloids can be anywhere from mildly to fatally toxic to humans. As a result, diverse cultures around the world have long held an intriguing relationship with the nightshade family. Some have been used to make poisons, some contain incredibly addictive compounds such as nicotine, some are mind altering, and others create an incredible sensation of heat in the mouth.4 The bottom line is that nightshades contain a complex array of compounds that, once ingested, lead to a potentially dramatic cascade of chemical reactions in the body. Ayurvedically speaking, all nightshades are believed to be somewhat difficult to digest and to have the capacity to disturb the doshas. When we mix these inherently challenging nightshades with cheese—which is heavy, oily, and also difficult to digest—we can quickly overtax the digestive fire.

Beans and Cheese

Beans and cheese are similar in that they both tend to be heavy and are often difficult to digest. In order to break down properly, they both require a good deal of digestive strength. But, the similarities end there. Beans tend to taste mostly astringent and sweet, can be either heating or cooling (depending on the type of bean), and usually have a pungent post-digestive effect. Cheese, on the other hand, tastes predominantly sour, is almost always heating, and usually has a sour post-digestive effect. The post-digestive effect of different foods occurs once that food has moved into the colon; it affects the urine, feces, sweat and tissues—sometimes even at the cellular level. Two foods with distinct post-digestive effects are typically quite different from one another. This is the case with beans and cheese; when they are eaten together, they tend to overwhelm and confuse the digestive fire. Meanwhile, their combined heaviness makes them even more difficult to process, often resulting in poor digestion and the accumulation of ama.

Ease Into It

Embracing the wisdom of food combining slowly helps us to cultivate a refined awareness around how our dietary choices affect us. This heightened sensitivity can be an invaluable asset, regardless of how quickly we are able to replace improper food combinations with more supportive ones. Be gentle with yourself, progressing at a pace that works for you. You might find it helpful, on occasion, to take a moment to reflect on how your digestion and your overall sense of wellness have changed over time. Proper food combining tends to awaken the body’s innate intelligence, so for most, embracing good food combining habits gets easier with time and practice.

Much of the information contained in this article came from Dr. Vasant and Usha Lad’s cookbook: Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Our deepest gratitude to them both for sharing an enlightened understanding of how to eat Ayurvedically.

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The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for “fire,” is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die. Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. So the importance of agni in Ayurveda simply cannot be understated.

Thank you ~ Banyan Botanicals

WHAT IS KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS?

By Ananta Sesa Dasa

The Vedic Times organisation follows the principles of Vaishanavism. Many supporters of the VTO are well versed in Krishna Consciousness; however, since the VTO welcomes every spiritual seeker, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to discuss the history and philosophy of the movement.

History
Krishna Consciousness is our original spiritual understanding, which means that its history is actually as old as the universe. However, we will start the history a little more recently.

The Vedic culture (Veda means sacred knowledge) began in India over 5000 years ago. This culture is so named because of it’s spiritual and ritualistic adherence to the Vedas. The four Vedas (Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda) were delivered to the people of India by Vyasadeva in order to make this most ancient wisdom available to all. The Vedas are very technical and difficult for the common person to understand, so other writings were brought into being as a way of bringing wisdom and truth to the less intelligent of society. These works were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Contained within the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad-Gita, considered by many to be the Bible of the Hindus, but of course, it is really the Bible of humanity.

The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a conversation held between the great warrior, Arjuna, and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Taking the role of guru, or spiritual coach, Krishna carefully guides Arjuna towards spiritual awakening and full knowledge. This text is left as humanity’s instruction manual. Its teachings are simple and to the point, but sadly, human ego drove some to abandon the true message of Krishna Consciousness, and instead to manipulate it to serve their own sense gratification for power and wealth.

Because of this corruption, Lord Krishna entered the world. This time, he appeared as a devotee of Krishna called Lord Caitanya (1486-1534). Caitanya fought against the corruption caused by ego and initiated a spiritual awakening through the sankirtan movement. The sankirtan movement, which is the chanting of the holy names, is the simplest method of reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness.

The teachings of Lord Caitanya have been passed down from guru to initiate for the last 500 years, which brings us to the founder of Krishna Consciousness in the West, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977). Shortly before his death in 1933, Prabhupada’s teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, instructed him to bring this ancient knowledge to the West. Prabhupada was finally able to make this a reality in 1965.

Swami Prabhupada arrived in New York in the fall of 1965 virtually penniless, but he was able to set up a small store front temple at the former Matchless Gifts giftshop on 2nd Street. From there he began to chant, give teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other important scriptures. Very slowly people started to notice, listen, and begin to follow the teachings from this spiritual coach. As the 60s moved on, and with the help of some prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison, the movement grew in popularity and attracted many followers. (It attracted our own Gurudas in 1967).

During the final years of his life, Prabhupada travelled around the world 14 times and wrote over 50 books. He worked tirelessly to make Krishna Consciousness the world-wide movement that it is today.


Philosophy

The basic philosophy of Krishna Consciousness begins with the idea that we are not the physical bodies that we believe we are. Material conditioning has made us accept many falsehoods. Instead, we are spirit soul, which is part and parcel of Krishna.

In the beginning, humans existed in their original constitutional position, as the appendages of God. There was no sense of ego or desire to become anything more. We simply served the Lord and fulfilled His Divine Will. However, as time went on, a false ego developed within humans. This ego insisted that mankind was not just an appendage of God, but rather was its own person. With that mentality, desire for sense gratification developed and grew.

The created world had so many allurements, beauty, sex, wealth, power, entertainments, and so forth, that humanity forgot its true nature. As a result, we spent our time seeking these allurements and trying to find happiness within them. Of course, this is impossible. Any happiness found in this world is temporary, and when it is gone, it leaves a gap that brings misery. Suffering is the common state of existence for one who has forgotten one’s true nature.

True happiness can only be found in the eternal, which means letting go of all our temporary attachments and surrendering to Krishna. By doing so, we may return to our original constitutional positions as servitors of the Lord and find genuine happiness through that service. But how do we do this?

Lord Caitanya taught that the easiest method for reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness, our love of Krishna and understanding of our true self, was through the chanting of the Holy Names of God. Within the Vedic traditions, the name of God, the image of God, or anything else associated with God is identical to God. So, when we chant the names of God, we are bringing Him into our presence.


The greatest desire of humanity is to see and know God. “I really want to see you Lord,” George Harrison sang in My Sweet Lord. There is a great deal of doubt and skepticism in this world about the existence of God, even from so-called believers. Like Doubting Thomas, they want proof, but it seems no proof is forthcoming. Another line from Harrison; however, says “it won’t take long my Lord”. This is acknowledgement that if one begins the process of chanting the Holy Names that one will quickly experience God and have the proof that is desired. One will soon be in the presence of God.

The Maha-Mantra
The chanting that Lord Caitanya spoke of is called the Maha-Mantra (the Great Mantra). It is comprised of three of the names of God: Hare, Krishna, and Rama.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Hare is the spiritual energy of God, and also represents the feminine aspect of the divine as Radha. Krishna, a name that implies universal attraction, is the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Rama, who entered the world in human form, is the supreme enjoyer. It is through Him that we find true happiness. (Readers from a Christian background may find a strong similarity to the Trinity. Krishna would equate to God the Father, Rama to God the Son, and Hare as the Holy Spirit.)

Lord Caitanya taught that a devotee of Krishna should chant this mantra on a string of japa beads (similar to a rosary). The string contains 108 beads, and one chants the mantra once on each bead. After 108 times, one round of japa is completed. Caitanya advised that one should chant 64 rounds each day. In this way, the mind would constantly be focused upon Krishna to the exclusion of everything else. Recent spiritual guides, such as Srila Prabhupada, have lessened the number to 16 rounds per day due to the pressures and duties of modern life.

The key point is to ensure that one is constantly thinking of Krishna. The process of Bhakti-yoga requires that one offer devotional service to the Lord with love. So, one’s actions should be directed toward the service of the Lord and one should always be thinking of the Lord. In this way, one will remember and regain one’s original position as servitor of the Lord, and not be bothered by suffering from the illusions of the material world.

Geopathic Stress & Earth Acupunture

Intelligence or chaos ~ Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Intelligence or chaos ~ the teleological argument

A book written by Hari Krsna das (Henk Keilman)

“The numerical coincidences (necessary for an anthropic universe) could be regarded as evidence of design. The delicate fine tuning in the values of the constants, necessary so that the various different branches of physics can dovetail so felicitously, might be attributed to God. It is hard to resist the the impression that present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in the numbers, has been rather carefully thought out.”

Paul Davies PhD, physicist

3D illustration of neurons (brain cells) and nerve synapses in the human brain, the most complicated organ of the human body. The human brain consists of an average of 100 billion neurons and the human body consists of about 75 trillion cells. The complexity and the organizational level of the human body and brain are indescribable. But even the structure of the smallest atom, the hydrogen atom, appears to have a complexity and a structured balance that cannot be comprehended. From the smallest sub-atomic particle, up to the living organisms and clusters of Milky Way systems, the universe is permeated with an indescribable level of organised complexity

The first atheistic proposition: complexity is the result of chance and chaos

Most committed and outspoken atheists come from the world of science and philosophy. Dawkins and Baggini for instance, are considered to be authoritative academics. They believe in the scientific method and they often consciously position themselves as being completely opposite religion— which they call ‘superstition’ — to show that they represent reason. They suggest that religion belongs to the realm of emotions and feelings, where people can vent the thought that they ‘feel that there has to be something more’. They are firmly convinced that there is no, and that there cannot be any rational or scientific foundation for the proposition that the universe arises from and is governed by an intelligent power.

Please continue reading or download your free PDF here.

‘INTELLIGENCE OR CHAOS’ ~ The Fallacy of Atheism

‘INTELLIGENCE OR CHAOS’
The Fallacy of Atheism

A book by Hari Krishna Das (Henk Keilman)

Chapter 1
The mystery of existence

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible at all” Albert Einstein

Unimaginably large numbers!

When I look out of the window of my study to the world outside, I see the world as we know it. I see trees, gardens and buildings in bright sunlight, except for the shadow of the occasional cloud passing overhead. Around me, life is taking its course. Nothing remarkable, as you might say; everything is just as we know it. However, behind this everyday reality is a universe of an almost unimaginable size and complexity.

We can forget this universe so easily in our daily routine of work, grocery shopping and enjoying our free time, but it is nevertheless always present, just behind that blue or cloudy sky, and it is full of truly astonishing phenomena. Take the phenomenon of light for example, which makes all life on this planet possible. It is only because of light that we can actually see anything of the world around us, yet rarely do we consider that this light has just made a huge cosmic journey simply to get here. Emanating from what we call the sun, a relatively small star known as a ‘yellow dwarf’ in astronomer’s jargon, the light that reaches our planet earth has traveled 150 million kilometers at a speed of about 300,000 kilometers per second taking roughly just 8 minutes to complete the journey.

The sun may be small compared to other stars, but the force that she produces is still unimaginably powerful. Every second our star produces an amount of energy that equals the explosion of 1 trillion hydrogen bombs of 1 megaton. In this same second, the sun produces enough energy to keep the entire world economy going for 500,000 years based on our current energy usage. Due to the enormous amounts of energy being produced and the speed at which it travels, we can feel the influence of the sun almost immediately despite her distance from earth. On a hot summer’s day, her heat can be unbearable and we are grateful just to find a spot in the shade.

However, the sun is only a glowing pin-head compared to the total size of the universe. To be really impressed by the cosmos, we have to wait until the sun disappears behind the horizon and darkness sets in. After sunset, the true scale of the universe becomes more apparent as numerous stars, star systems and other celestial bodies appear in the night sky. For those of us not living in towns and cities and not hindered by light pollution the night sky would be filled with thousands of stars. Nonetheless, no matter how impressive a view, we would only be witnessing a tiny part of the entire universe, a fraction of a fraction of an immeasurably large space.

Our solar system with its 8 planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

For those who really want to understand the universe we have to enter the domain of extremely large numbers. The distances within our own solar system are already enormous. Earth is part of a collection of nine planets, including the lonely outer dwarf planet Pluto. The distance from the sun to Pluto is, on average, 5 billion kilometers. If we were to travel by spaceship at the impressive speed of 60,000 kilometers per hour, then we would need to travel for 10 years to cover this distance. But if we zoom out further, then our solar system disappears into nothing. Our collection of planets is a minuscule part of a much larger entity; a galaxy called the Milky Way. The distance from one side of this system to the other side is 100,000 light years. One light year is the distance that light travels in one year at the speed of 300.000 km per second, or 9.4 trillion (9,400,000,000,000) kilometers. If we continued to travel in the spaceship that took us to Pluto at the same speed, it would take us 1.8 billion years to travel from one side of the Milky Way to the other.

Nevertheless, we would still be safely within our own star system. However, if we ventured to travel to our next nearest major star system, the Andromeda galaxy, then we would have to cover a distance of 2.4 million light years. If we continued to travel at this same speed, it would take us no less than 43.2 billion years! These distances are simply beyond human comprehension. We can hardly pronounce such numbers, let alone imagine them. Who does not, from time to time, look up to the stars in the sky and wonder with slight apprehension where it all ends?

The Andromeda star system is located at a distance of 2,4 million lightyears from our solar system.

As large as the universe is, however, so the inhabitants of this planet appear to be insignificant and small, and I am not just referring to our size. One only has to watch CNN to be faced with the crude facts; a civil war raging in one part of the world, some bomb attacks in another part, which is pretty much a daily menu of news facts. Of course, we also invent medication, we build sea walls and dams to protect millions from drowning and we create institutes that advance prosperity and social justice. Art, culture and science are also expressions of human activities, aimed at positive human development. However, looking at our own history, we mostly seem to be specialised in warfare and fighting each other. According to a New York Times article published on July 6 2003, over the past 3,400 years humans have been entirely at peace for just 268 years, or just 8% of recorded history. That means there were wars going on for 3.132 years somewhere on the planet. These wars have claimed between 150 million to 1 billion casualties. That’s not a very good statistic, and it says a lot about the human condition. The relative peace of the past 65 years is mainly due to the existence of nuclear weapons, which make it impossible for us to have large scale wars. While most wars, in hindsight and almost without exception, seem to be useless, a nuclear war is useless in advance. The so-called MAD doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction is an insurmountable obstacle to any potential aggressor based on even the most primitive calculations.

Nevertheless, smaller wars and battles continue as humans fight a complicated battle in their struggle for survival against real or alleged enemies and threats. This battle is fought with intensive emotions and is literally of vital importance to each individual. But placed into perspective, these great and small human activities take place against the backdrop of nature and the infinite universe. Only one hundred kilometers of atmosphere separate us from the unreal reality of this immeasurable, unimaginable universe. These one hundred kilometers above our earth are the boundaries of the tiny bubble in which earthly existence takes place. This tiny bubble, earth and its atmosphere, floats in an immeasurable ocean of cosmic energies of outright extra-terrestrial proportions.

The difference between the immeasurable universe and human worries is surreal. It is a remarkable contrast; the cold, uninterested magnitude of the universe set against the intense emotions and awareness of our minuscule existence, occurring simultaneously and of course, both equally real. But, what is ‘real’? Why does reality exist? Just like everyone looks at the stars now and then and wonders about the vastness of the universe, everyone will sooner or later also wonder why we exist and why everything around us exists. Sometimes reality seems unreal, intangible and even dreamlike whilst at other times reality feels like a strong and tangible presence. What is most remarkable is that reality appears to be inflexible and it does not seem to be interested in us or our well-being. Both the world and the universe just exist, distant and indifferent; at least so it seems. In the words of Richard Dawkins:

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

This causes humans many problems. We wonder, why is there something instead of just nothing? Why does reality exist the way it does? Why is reality at every level so immensely complicated? And why is reality permeated with undesirable things such as old age, disease and death and other types of suffering. Is there an explanation other then the one provided by Dawkins above, or is that it.

These questions lay the foundation for this book. They are the starting-point towards the question that defines the mystery of existence and that is the most important question that humans can ask themselves: Does God exist or not? Does existence – small or gigantic – spring from an unconscious and unintelligent chaos, or is it created by awareness and intelligence and does it have a purpose and a design? The answer to these questions provides an insight into the role and position of humans in the universe. Do our lives have meaning or is our existence toally lacking any purpose? Do humans exist with an intention, or do we just float around in the cosmos without ever achieving anything? Or, as the famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell put it so strikingly: “Man is an unfortunate accident, a sideshow in the material universe – an odd accident in a forgotten corner.”

Ultimately, we are of course all interested, out of normal self interest, in our own position and perspective in life. At the deepest level, this perspective is completely determined by the answer to the question of whether God exists or not.

Thanks to: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
The Andromeda system is situated at an impressive distance of 2.4 million light-years away from us. This distance is nothing compared to the distance to NGC 1300, a spiral-shaped star system that is situated at a distance of 61 million light-years away from us in the Eridanus constellation. The star system has a cross- section of about 110,000 light-years; just slightly bigger than our own Milky Way.

Philosophical analyses has shown that this question, is the determining factor for the way we view reality and the universe. All philosophies can, in the end, be divided into two fundamental categories. The first category is atheistic in its core and states that the origin and the functioning of reality is based on chaos and coincidence. The second category is theistic in its core and regards the universe as an organic reality that was created and is managed by intelligence. Other philosophies that are essentially agnostic – and therefore do not explicitly state whether God exists or not – are often considered to be atheistic. In many cases, they will say that the intelligent coordination of the universe is an improbability. Therefore, they implicitly – and based on elimination – have a preference for chaos and coincidence as the most probable explanation for the origin of the universe.

Of course, within each of these categories there is a huge diversity of philosophies with many differences in nuance. Nonetheless, the dividing line is striking and this has an all-determining effect on all aspects of a philosophy, such as the theory of knowledge (epistemology), the theory on the nature of being (ontology), theories concerning moral values and meaning (ethics) and, in the end, the description or perception of our physical and scientific reality (physics and metaphysics). Indeed, social and political ideologies are also largely defined by this split. Denying or confirming the existence of God therefore leads to opposite philosophies and completely opposite answers as far as the origin and meaning of existence is concerned. Do our lives have a deeper meaning, or are our lives meaningless; a random evolutionary accident? Is man just a product of matter, or is there another type of energy that defines our consciousness and our individuality? Is death the absolute end of our lives, or do our lives continue beyond the boundaries of death? Is there a final heavenly (or hellish) destination past earthly existence, or is our short earthly existence the beginning, middle and end of the story? Theistic or atheistic philosophies will answer these questions in totally opposite ways leading to very different world perspectives which strongly affect everything we think, say and do. Even scientific disciplines such as physics and cosmology are strongly influenced, both directly and indirectly, by the dividing line between atheism and theism. As an interesting side note, it is precisely these sciences, combined with mathematics, that contain the initial answers to the question of whether the universe is governed by chaos or intelligence and thus, whether God exists or not. Given the impact this question has on our life, individually and in society, this really is the most important question that humans can ask themselves.

The images of this rich set of star systems are made by La Silla Observatory of the ESO in Chile. The thousands of star systems that are situated in this small area of the firmament provide us with a look into the distant past of the universe and makes us realise again how enormously large the cosmos is. Just underneath the bright stars in the centre of this image there is a group of star systems called Abell 226. The Abell group is situated at a distance of some billions of light-years away from us. Behind these objects there are even more star systems, they are less bright though, but still at even greater distances of about 9 up to 10 billion light-years. The light we see today coming from these systems has therefore traveled for 9 up to 10 billion years in order to reach us. This also means that we are looking back in time at a universe that existed 10 billion years ago.

This book attempts to answer this question, not by serving dogmas, but by critical analyses, based on philosophical and scientific research. This book compares the scientific and philosophical arguments in favour of the existence of God or against the existence of God and puts atheism against theism, chaos against design. It does this by focusing on some important changes in scientific thought, especially in the area of physics and cosmology where new and completely revolutionary discoveries have been made. These discoveries and insights reveal a universe that is infinitely complex, infinitely organized and infinitely mysterious. The level of organized complexity is so huge that this can only be explained logically by the presence of an all-pervading intelligence and an omnipresent awareness. Such an all-pervading intelligence can be called by any name and each label can be granted to it. God, of course, is the most obvious name: all-pervading intelligence and omnipresent awareness are qualifications that can only be attributed to God. The problem however is that the term God is burdened with a controversial history, created by humans. These are all controversies that, almost without exception, stem from ignorance, sectarianism, fanaticism or a corrupted desire for power. The intention of this book is to demonstrate, based on objective and scientific foundations, that intelligence and consciousness are the driving forces behind the universe, regardless of the burdened history of what that implies. This burdened history is what it is, but it does not alter the reality of these new scientific insights and the philosophical consequences of these insights. Where science directed humanity towards materialism and atheism over the past 200 years, we now see a way of thinking in the opposite direction. This direction is of a spiritual nature and implies a scientific rehabilitation of God. The facts that science has revealed over the past decades confirm that a universe without God is simply untenable, despite desperate and sometimes exotic attempts to do so. If we consider all the arguments, there can only be one logical conclusion: the universe is governed by intelligence and consciousness.

Whether God exists

This, therefore, is the central theme of the book, as the (sub)title indicates: ‘Intelligence or chaos: the misconception of atheism.’ This book discusses the scientific and philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God, atheism versus theism, and in scientific terms, intelligence and design versus chaos and coincidence. There will be few people who do not know the term ‘God’, but on the other hand it is a concept with a wide range of interpretations. Therefore, it is important and necessary to define and describe the concept of God. With respect to this, I do not intend to get caught up in analyses and definitions that are too technical, but I intend to focus on the general, common meaning of the concept God. This meaning is mostly associated with the manner in which the nature and the being of God is described. For instance, is he personal or impersonal; is he one with his creation and the universe or is he transcendental and outside of his creation? Is he personally involved with the universe or is he in control at a distance? What are his qualities and attributes? There are mainly two visions regarding the being and the nature of God, monotheism and monism.

Within these categories are several schools of thought with important nuances and differences, but this book will primarily deal with the core concepts. Monotheism states that one divine Supreme Being exists that has personal, transcendent characteristics. Monotheism also states that the world— the universe— is an emanation and creation of God. According to this vision, both God and his emanations are eternal energies. The Christian doctrine deviates somewhat from this view, since creation is not considered to be an emanation, but as something that was created by God out of nothing. This is called ‘creatio ex nihilo’ by Christian theologians. Here, but also in other aspects, there are nuanced differences between the various monotheistic traditions. What the different monotheistic schools do agree on is the absolute unity of God, which is at its core both personal and transcendental. Within this unity there is, however, a multitude of diversity: first of all, between God and His energies, and accordingly, between His energies mutually. This principle is the essence of monotheism.

In Christianity the unity of God is not entirely without controversy; the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is really three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and not one person. Effectively, and implicitly most Christian theologians see God as fundamentally One, yet simultaneously many, or three in this instance. Despite this nuance, Christianity is generally accepted as a monotheistic religion. Quoting the words of Jesus in John 5.44: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” Jesus was clearly of the opinion, as was official Jewish doctrine at the time, that God is one.

Richard Dawkins during the launch of his campaign in 2008, where London buses were decorated with atheist slogans.

Monism also states that there is one divine Supreme Being. The difference is, however, that this Supreme Being is impersonal by nature. The monotheistic God is often associated with an impersonal, all-embracing, undifferentiated, and infinite state of pure energy, made of pure and impersonal consciousness. According to monism, it is only this state of absolute unity that is real and the universe, with its diversity and multitude, is just an illusionary reflection of this divine energy.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered to be monotheistic religions. However, despite many misconceptions, Hinduism is also, at its core and by origin, a monotheistic doctrine. The philosophical core of Hinduism is mainly founded on the Vedanta philosophy, which is of a monotheistic nature. On the other hand, Buddhism and certain movements within the Vedanta school, such as Advaita Vedanta, are monistic by nature. The famous Dutch philosopher Spinoza (1632 – 1677) was also a monist who saw the world as the expression of an underlying, all-embracing and impersonal reality. Spinoza identified this underlying reality with God. The doctrine of Spinoza was an important influence on the thinking of Albert Einstein. Einstein believed in Spinoza’s image of God: ‘… a God that revealed Himself in the systematic harmony of the universe’. He did not believe in a God that interfered with the fate and the actions of man.

The two main movements, monotheism and monism have numerous variants such as pantheism, panentheism, polytheism, and deism. The first, pantheism is a variant to monism. According to pantheism, God only manifests Himself in the universe and does not differ from the universe in every respect. Deism and panentheism are sub-divisions of monotheism. Deism is a movement that has been popular amongst Western scientists and emerged as a result the scientific revolution in the 17th century followed by the Enlightenment in Europe and the United States during the 18th century. Deism is a form of monotheism, with the distinction being that the deistic God does not interfere directly in the world, in human affairs and nature. The latter is, according to deism, governed by the laws of nature, which were ultimately created by God. Panentheism is a concept that is perhaps not quite so familiar. It means that God is transcendent and above creation and, at the same time, He is immanent and manifests Himself in creation. Effectively, it is not really different from monotheism, which also acknowledges the simultaneous transcendence and immanence of God. Polytheism, the believe in many gods and goddesses, is sometimes a disguised form of monotheism. The pantheon of gods are effectively demi-gods and part of a divine hierarchy. For instance in Hinduism demi-gods are charged with ruling and managing the universe on behalf of, and in the service of the supreme God. Other traditions such as the polytheism found in ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome are truly polytheistic, whereby the different gods and goddesses are considered to be separate entities each with their own individual powers.

In the following treatment of theism and atheism, I primarily refer to the two main groups of theistic philosophies, which are monotheism and monism. For the sake of convenience, I indicate both traditions in this book as theistic. In later chapters, the differences between these two traditions will be explained further.

In religions and theistic philosophies, in both monotheistic and monistic variants, God is defined as the Supreme Being, almighty, all-knowing, omnipresent, eternal and infinite: the creator and maintainer of the universe and of all life in the universe. Furthermore, God is described as loving and merciful. A theistic world view assumes that such a being, in whatever shape or form, exists. Moreover, this implies that the universe is an organic unity, governed from an intelligent and conscious centre.

The four propositions of atheism

The atheistic world view denies the existence of such a Supreme Being and denies that the universe is an organic unity governed by an intelligent centre. Apart from admitting that there are some basic, blind laws of nature, atheism claims that the universe consists of an infinite number of material particles that reside in an infinite and empty space. Since the particles are fundamentally separated by space, they are independent and therefore on a large scale governed by coincidence and chaos. Atheism also denies the existence of another reality, apart from or next to the material reality. One of the most leading advocates of this worldview is, without question, the ethologist and biologist Richard Dawkins. He even placed atheistic advertisements on London city buses. In his book ‘The God Delusion’ he defines atheism as follows:

“An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t yet understand. If there is something that appears to lie beyond the natural world as it is now imperfectly understood, we hope eventually to understand it and embrace it within the natural.“

Another atheistic thinker Dawkins quotes is Julian Baggini. He explains atheism in his book ‘Atheism, A Very Short Introduction’ as follows:

“What most atheists do believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values – in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.”

Based on these definitions, but also based on the definitions of other atheistic thinkers, atheism is founded on four propositions or basic assumptions:

  1. The universe consists of material particles that exist independent of each other and that move independent of each other within the infinite void. The total of the movements and interactions of these particles is governed by coincidence and chaos, combined with a number of simple and blind laws of nature. This is also called ‘pluralism’.
  2. There is no central intelligent coordination within the universe and the universe is not an organic unity. There exists nothing apart from or outside the perceptible, physical material reality or the world of matter.

Proposition 1 and 2 together are also called ‘materialism’.

3. Even if there were to be a beginning of the universe, the origin of the universe has to be ultimately simple. God is by definition a complex being and, therefore, He cannot be the ultimate cause. The existence of a complex being such as God would demand that He would have been created by something else.

4. The universe is imperfect from a human perspective. That imperfection manifests itself most clearly in the presence of useless suffering that each living creature is faced with. This contradicts and undermines the position of God as almighty and merciful.

The first two propositions together are called ‘materialism’; it holds the view that matter is the only real substance in the universe. In this view, it is also emphasized that matter may be one substance, but that this substance is split up into innumerable particles. These particles are separated from each other by empty space. Materialism states that this combination of material particles and empty space is eternal and that there is a no cause for this.

The third proposition makes an exception to this, since it does state that there is a possible cause of the universe. This proposition claims that, should the universe have a cause at all, then this cause must ultimately be simple. This proposition is very relevant since modern cosmology assumes that the universe did have a beginning and has not always been there, nor will it always be here.

The fourth proposition is the most important one, since in the end most atheistic arguments can be reduced to this, or are indirectly derived from this. Consciously or unconsciously, atheists refer to the issue of the imperfect universe and the suffering in the world as the most probable reason why God could not exist. In the following chapters, the above-mentioned four propositions will be discussed in detail and refuted one by one relying on scientific and logical arguments.

Quotation of Einstein, cited by Fred Hoyle in ‘The Intelligent Universe’ Richard Dawkins
Bertrand Russell “Religion and Science (Oxford University Press, 1961)
Richard Dawkins in the “God delusion” page 35
Richard Dawkins in the “God delusion” page 34

To be continued

The ‘Vedic Times’ Retreat in Paraty ~ Brazil

Join us near the costal ‘historical monument’ town of Paraty, Rio de Janeiro State ~ Brazil

The Eco-Village and the Hotel Dharma Shala are in the mountainous jungle on the coast of Rio.

The Eco-Village has:
Many waterfalls in the mountains, near gorgeous preserved beaches; vegetable gardens, cows, exotic tropical birds, wild bananas, tropical fruit trees, fresh ‘ahimsa milk’ and a beautiful temple.

The Retreat offers:
Vegetarian and Vegan organic meals
Daily hikes to different waterfalls
Chanting & Asana Yoga classes
Ayurvedic teachings
Vegetarian & Vegan Cooking classes
Kirtan (spiritual music sessions)
‘Cinema and the Psyche’ workshop

Massages, one to one therapy with the Ayurveda, Natural Medicine Doctors and Counselors, day or half-day visits to the historic town and preserved beaches nearby can be arranged but are not included.

We will also have music and other performances during a bonfire on the last night.

HOSTING AND GIVING SEMINARS

ARADHANA DEVI DASI: Chanting Yoga ~ Mantra Meditation
MATTHEW JOSEPH MORREALE: Cinema and the Psyche workshop.  ‘Cinema and the Psyche’ is an exploring into the nature of cinema, the psyche and how they interrelate.
KIRTAN: (spiritual music) bhajan leaders from Brazil

Ana Lucia Alves (Aradhana dd) and Matt Morreale

ROOMS ~ SEMINARS ~ PRICES
Seven Days and Six Nights

For Prices, Packages and the booking form to secure your place, please contact us.

Many beautiful and spacious rooms

Package prices include all seminars and workshops, its certificates and all meals. Not included: Flights and pickup /drop off at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport.  Pick-ups with our Van (12 persons) cost $60 each way.