Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Most Important Search

The search for truth is something which I have been engaged in all my life. It is also something which has led me to study science, history, scriptures, and all manner of things, that I might be able to put together an idea in my mind of what is truth. I believe that all truth emerges from a common, perfect source and that all truth can eventually be reconciled with all other truth. I know that truth can suffer from the limitations of bias, but that there can be truthful experiences that have no bias to them in their purity and clarity.

I know that there is a God. I can’t prove that to anyone else. All my proofs are internal experiences, but they are proofs nonetheless. From that knowledge, I arrange all the rest of my learning and experiences around that pillar, hoping for further light and knowledge needed to fill in the gaps, to remove the biases, and to reconcile with what I think to be true with what I know to be true.

There is what I wish, in my limited, mortal folly, to be true. There is what, if it were true, would make for fewer struggles in my life. But truth is not a matter of wishing or convenience. When I discover a truth, I must change my life to conform to that knowledge, for I do not want to deny truth with my thoughts, actions, or beliefs.

In that, the search for truth is, at the same time, a process of self-purification. I have to be tolerant in my process. When I see things in others that prick my heart and remind me of my own struggles in that respect, I have to be patient and allow that, for them, wherever they may be in their search for truth – if even they are actively looking – they have not yet decided to be as I wish to be. My struggles are not necessarily their struggles, and I have to be tolerant and patient, especially if I am called upon to explain why I do this or why I do not do that.

My search is not a static one. At no point can I say, “Here is all truth and in knowing this, I need seek after no more learning.” I have my own manner of approaching God, but I can learn from others who have their own manners of approaching God. I am, at heart, a pluralist. I believe that I am on the right path, but I allow that I can still receive navigation signals to guide me further.

There are, to be sure, signals that deliberately try to mislead me. Discerning between those and the signals of truth is a massive, internal struggle. Yet, I must be patient and tolerant. I must forgive those that, in their incomplete knowledge and error, have decided that worldly gain is the greatest thing to attain in this life and that dishonesty is justified in the getting of that gain. I must forgive them because one of the truths that I have learned is that I cannot continue on my search for truth if I have not forgiven all.

Like forgiveness, there are many things that I must get right in my life if I expect to be able to continue successfully to search for truth. I don’t have to get them all right all at once, but the more right I have them, the better order I have in my life, the more efficiently I make progress towards my goal of finding that complete, wonderful truth.

I have always invited all I know to join me in my search, even if they do not walk exactly in the path that I have taken. While I am saddened when I see my invitation to go unanswered, I delight when I see someone show progress in living the kind of tolerant, patient, forgiving, faithful, disciplined, and compassionate life that is necessary in order to be able to best search for and find truth.

What Makes It Beautiful?

As I make ready to leave Hyderabad, I have to reflect on the beauty of the city. For it is not cleanliness or skillfulness of craftsmanship that makes a thing truly beautiful. It is devotion, it is love, it is dedication. That makes something or someone truly beautiful. Eyes do not always see beauty: it is felt in the heart, it pierces the soul.

Today I went to Birla Mandir here in Hyderabad. The asphalt burned my bare feet – I have a blister – but those things will heal and I will still have the beautiful memory of the place. And why? Because of the devotion that I felt there.

Although I do not share an identical faith with the people who worshiped there, I do share a yearning for contact with a power greater than me. Finding that connection is not only done in prayer and fasting, but acts of devotion that extend and reach out to other people. When we touch lives for good, we have a chance to make the world more beautiful.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, it is taught that there are three ways to live life: with inertia, with passion, or with true disciplined devotion. Inertia is the basest of those ways: one does nothing, live passes over and flows around. The inert person is useless to others, for he takes no action.

Passion is better than inertia, but it lacks discipline. One may crusade to do what is right, with great stridency, but one’s laws are not perfect laws. Passion can lead to excess, which can lead to pain for others. Passions can lead to harm.

But disciplined devotion – dharma – means that one lives actively, but within bounds set by one who is wiser and more knowledgeable than one’s self. The bounds require at times to restrain one’s passions. The bounds require at times action when one would rather not take action. The bounds require that one be not as one is naturally, but to be a person that lives above that level and who strives to bring peace, joy, and love into the world through compassionate service.

As I walked through the Birla Mandir with my friends, I thought of these things. And though I may not approach God in the same manner as they do, I do cherish that teaching of the Gita, as it is something that is true. It is something that, if I apply to my life, will make me a more perfect person.

For if we all approach God with sincere intent, we will one day all arrive at the same place. If we all live our lives with devotion, compassion, and love, all bound up in the discipline of a higher rule, we will make the earth a place where more people will have sincere intent. We will make the earth a place where it will be easier to find God.

And that world, I assure you, will be a beautiful place.

Paradise Biryani

Not a paid endorsement. That being said, they served up *7* cups of rice – *1.5* liters of rice – cooked very well with plenty of sauces. It was delicious, but I hit my “cheap and best” value mark after getting the eggs and about 2 cups of rice. My friend Andy had the chicken biryani, and there was about a half of a chicken in there, easily. I loved it, but next time I eat there, I will plan ahead on how I’m going to do it.

And for 140 rupees – just less than $2 US – this was a fantastic bargain. For it to be so good for so cheap, it’s amazing. And I will nosh on it again. It’s got a killer good blend of herbs and spices, like all great local hero fast food should have. The biryani in the 5-star restaurant at the hotel was better, sure, but this stuff is a *very* close second. If you’re down to your last 200 rupees and wonder what you’ll eat for the next 2 days in Hyderabad, the answer is simple: Paradise Biryani. You’ll live like a king off of that big ol’ bag of deeeeee-licious rice!

Video evidence of how big this pile of rice is:

In Memoriam, Dear Children…

There are times when the cosmos seems to be an idiot: blind, thrashing, killing innocents indiscriminately. My heart mourns for the family of a dear friend, who has suffered the loss of a child, as my family endured in 2001. Such anguish, such grief, such violence… the cold feeling of death penetrates the body and it feels no hunger that can be satisfied. It endures a sadness without end. It experiences a wound without closure. The shock passes over, the pain lingers long, and though one becomes accustomed to the pain, one never truly ceases to feel it, not entirely.

Even so, God is Love, and healing may still be found, though bitter experience may still make it hard to find. Healing may still be found.

God rest thy soul, good child. Thy light was dimmed too soon, but it shall burn brightly in a day yet to come.

God rest thy souls, friends and survivors. The search for meaning is difficult, even impossible at times, but meaning can be found. One must never abandon hope.

God rest thy souls, mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers. These are the sharpest tears you will ever shed. Your eyes will be cut raw with their passing. Even so, in the days to come, never abandon hope. Never abandon faith. Never abandon the pure love of Christ.

The sun eventually rises anew, and in that dawn, there is the hope, the promise of a new life and an ending to the pain.

Never lose that hope. Never.

The day will come again when Jarom Webb and Zoe Hastings will smile and laugh again. Until that day comes, never lose that hope.


First Full Day in Hyderabad

Since everyone had the day off, my work colleagues in Hyderabad took me and my fellow American traveler to Charminar, Mekkah Masjid, and Golconda Fort. I’ve posted those pictures on my Facebook page, so I’ll leave those sights to those pictures. Here, I want to talk about my non-photographic impressions.

First, the smells of India. Yes, there are spots where the sewage is noticeable, but those have been very few. Instead, the overwhelming aroma is of spices and fragrant incense. Everywhere I’ve been, I could smell the perfumes of spice in the air. It’s wonderful. I’ll never be able to enter an Indian market again without remembering the bazaar in Hyderabad.

Next, the tastes. I’m at a hotel with an amazing restaurant, and I’m tasting things I never dreamed possible. It’s a different palate, sure, but again, the spices penetrate the mind and heart and win me over, every time. I have to be careful what I put on my plate, because I will clean it, totally. And while I could order French toast or waffles for breakfast, I want to try the Indian offerings while I’m here. So far, it’s been amazing, and I don’t see any break in the action. I’ll be adventurous, and order something different each day. Today was upma with sambar. Out of this world. It’s like grits with masala.

Now, the sounds. Horns all the time on the streets. Peacock calls on occasion. Hindi, Urdu, and Telugu whizzing past my ears, with me being able to pick up scraps of the Hindi and Urdu. Bargaining. Sharp rebukes. Kindnesses. Grace and gratitude, it’s all here. I’ve slept very well in my quiet room, but the noise of the city is its heartbeat.

You might gather that I’m loving my trip here. You would be correct in that observation. Now I need to start my second full day here…

God’s Purpose

“For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39

God’s purpose is clear: this verse reveals the love and care that motivated His creation of the universe as a place where we could, with His guidance and planning, pass through trials that we might be able to learn better how to love one another. By loving one another, we become more like God, for God is Love.

Quote of the Day

“It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art; yet will expect to win a knowledge of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons. The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject. They who pass opinion on the gospel without having given it intimate and careful study are not lovers of truth, and their opinions are worthless. To secure a testimony, then, study must accompany desire and prayer.”
– John A. Widtsoe
Evidences and Reconciliations