Jul 22, 2007

Christianity and TAR

On an ongoing basis, I have been corresponding by email with several readers concerning TAR. Two of them mentioned that they are Roman Catholics, and had some questions, comments and thoughts about TAR from a Christian perspective.

As a starting point, let me point out that I am not a Christian, and what follows are merely my own views. My additional qualifier is that if you are not a Christian, then the rest of the post may make no sense to you and you can stop reading right around here. (This qualifier is similar to
the one that I had previously used, when I wrote about TAR from the Buddhist perspective).

No person who considers himself a true Christian can at the same time logically dismiss TAR. The Christian faith is incompatible with a disbelief in TAR. This is because prayer and the effects of prayer are an integral aspect of Christianity, and prayer is also a fundamental example of thought affecting reality.

The Bible has numerous examples of people calling on God for help or guidance. In response, the help or guidance comes, and specific events begin occurring in reality.

Sometimes these events are mild and subtle, and they occur in the person's "internal" reality. For example, he receives, or he believes he receives, a message or instruction from within. Sometimes the events are big and unmistakeable, and they occur in the "external" reality (a drastic example would be the ten major calamities which Moses, through God, inflicted on Egypt).

Events can also be drastic and powerful within the person's internal reality (such as a very direct, "loud" message or instruction from within) or they can be mild and subtle in the external reality (for example, the person prays for help on a personal problem, and a few small events then happen in his external reality to solve his problem).

As a Christian, you probably have personally experienced, and/or know of other fellow Christians who have experienced, such events, in the four main permutations as described above. In other words, there are many examples - they are not merely biblical or historical.

So far, we have seen that prayer is a form of thought. You can regard it as a deliberate form of thought that a Christian adopts, when he seeks to establish a direct connection with the divine. What about other kinds of thoughts, that is to say, the kind of thoughts that a Christian thinks, not when he is praying, but merely going around his daily routine - driving, working, showering, feeding the cat etc?

The Christian God, as described in the Bible, is an omniscient one. Okay, that is subject to some debate among the theologians (there are some technical complications arising in connection with free will) but let's just make that assumption for the purposes of the present discussion.

The basic point is that even if you're not praying, the Christian God knows what's on your mind, yes? If you wish to have a much more direct connection with God, you will pray. But even if you don't, God knows what you're thinking, and what's happening in your life, and for that matter, just about everything else in your reality (think falling sparrows - Matthew 10:29).

Once you see the interrelationships, you will understand better the more "absolute" types of argument about how thought affects reality. Within the Christian framework, we could say that since every one of your thoughts is heard by God, and God has omnipotent powers over everything in your reality, every thought of yours has at least the potential to affect some aspect of your reality, because God can orchestrate it.

And perhaps you will even understand why the Buddhists place emphasis on disciplining the mind and the kind of thoughts that go through it. For example, in Buddhism, it is insufficient to refrain from doing cruel acts - one must endeavour not to think cruel thoughts at all.

(For Christians, I would add this - even if God always knows what's on your mind, it's when you pray that He knows you really want His attention. So that's when He'll give his attention to you. So pray, ok? Don't stop praying just because He always knows what's on your mind anyway).

One big difficulty that many Christians will have with TAR is that they may feel slightly appalled at the idea of altering their thoughts so as to get what they desire in reality - especially if what they desire are materialistic or physical or "selfish" in nature (for example sex, money, power, material things etc). The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want - instead He may have his own very specific plans on what you should be doing and where you should go (think Jonah and the whale).

These are points which I will discuss in future (this post is long enough). Suffice to say for now that a lot of the difficulty stems from the idea that you are not God - that there is a separation between "you" and "God" and that there could be a difference between what you want and what He wants.
In my opinion, this difficulty is an illusion, because the "you" does not even exist - there is in fact no separation between "you" and the rest of reality, or beween "you" and "God", whatever that is. But as I said, more on that, another time. It's a complex idea, not explainable in just a few short paragraphs.

We'll end today's post with some biblical verses, which I invite the Christians to reread and think about, with TAR in mind. This is taken from Matthew 7:7 and 7:8, and is part of one of the longest, most extensive set of public teachings (I think) given by Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
Don't take my word for it, on anything I've said in this article - I'm not even Christian, remember? This post is just food for thought. Go think about it for yourself. If you still have lots of questions after that, try asking your own Christian God directly for the answers. That, in my experience, tends to work quite well too. Ask, and it will be given.

41 comments:

Kaffein said...

I respect your opinions, Mr Wang.

But in terms of Christianity, I kinda disagree with lots of your statements and will like to comment on some of them.

"The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want - instead He may have his own very specific plans on what you should be doing and where you should go (think Jonah and the whale)."

I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping. Perhaps it's your POV, so you are entitled to your them.

My family and I are Christians first and foremost. Not that I am in a position to speak on behalf of God, I can only write about Him as much as my experiences with Him go. For me and my family concerned (though I cannot say for other Christians), my God always supplies all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

I repeat, always. In other words, my prayers are always answered.

And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him. If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc. He met every to their needs and their desires. But that is another topic which I shan't dwell upon.

Oh one might say, that's >2000 years ago. Look at the Jews today. See how this small tiny race are movers and shakers, impacting the world we live in. How many are well-known scientists, inventors, nobel-prize winners, etc?

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

It has been misquoted. If you read the context, esp before those verses, what Jesus is saying: God is NOT like this.

You don't need to knock, seek and beg to be let in or for God to listen to you and then supply. Just as a father already knows his child's desires (I'm sure you already knew what your children wanted before they asked), God is even more loving and concerned about our wants and desires than we can ever imagine.

And pray tell me, Mr Wang, why do you want your child to ask of you? Do we need to be formal with our kids that they must ask to receive? Or are we as adults playing hard to get? Or perhaps they must earn it to ask?

Or do we, as earthly parents, freely give even before their asking?

Yes, if we as earthly parents can feel joyful when we are able to provide, how much MORE does our heavenly Father longs to give? Actually had He already not given His best - Jesus His Son? If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Of course, this is one of the basis of Christianity: we cannot because He can.

And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

On a personal note, I long to hear my daughter ask of me. Why? Because I love her and she loves me. And even before she can utter the first words, I have already given to her.

Cheers, Kaffein

Mr Wang Says So said...

Actually, Kaffein, you agree completely with me. You merely misunderstood my post, that is all.

For example, you quoted this part of my post:

"The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want - instead He may have his own very specific plans on what you should be doing and where you should go (think Jonah and the whale)."

.... and you interpreted me as saying that I personally think that there is a big difficulty.

This is incorrect. If you read my post in proper context:

"One big difficulty that many Christians will have with TAR is that they may feel slightly appalled at the idea of altering their thoughts so as to get what they desire in reality - especially if what they desire are materialistic or physical or "selfish" in nature (for example sex, money, power, material things etc). The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want"

.... you will see that I am merely anticipating two likely difficulties that some Christians may have, with the TAR concept. Not that I am struggling with these points as conceptual difficulties myself.

As for this:

"I repeat, always. In other words, my prayers are always answered."

.... sure, I have no difficulties with that. If you have been following my previous posts, you would know that. Thoughts affect reality; and deep thoughts affect reality deeply.

In other words, if you deeply believe something (whatever that something may be), then it will appear in your reality. And faith is simply another word for "deep belief".

In other words, if you deeply believe that you are going to receive X because you asked God for it, then yes, X will appear in your reality.

Mr Wang Says So said...

As for the parental question, it is not as obvious as you might think.

For example, earthly parents may want for their child things that the child does not want for himself. The earthly parents may want those things for selfish reasons, or for unselfish reasons (ie they genuinely believe that those things are best for the child), and those things may or may not be the best things for the child.

Rather common, everyday examples: choice of study, choice of marriage partner, choice of religion. I am sure you know of Christian parents who object when the child wants to convert to another religion;

or non-Christian parents who are upset when the child wants to convert to Christianity.

The point I made about the Christian God having a personality and ideas of His own is best understood in contradistinction with, say, Buddhism (where there is no equivalent of such an omniscient entity) or with secular TAR concepts (where no divine entity lays down any Ten Commandments or rules about what you can or cannot do on Sunday). As a theoretical question, suppose for example you pray to your Christian God to assist you to carry out what, in Christian teachings, is regarded as sinful. No need for drastic examples such as murder etc, just select a more "human" and "everyday" example - such as a Christian who prays for certain things such as continued bliss, happiness, romance and good sex in her premarital relationship with a man.

Now a secular TAR practitioner should have no issues with using a TAR practice to making that happen. The question is whether you (or a Christian) would have issues using prayer for such a purpose, and whether God would answer such prayers. It may be possibly be argued that a "good" Christian would not, in the first place, be engaged in a premarital relationship, but then this line of reasoning seems to lead eventually to the conclusion that God doesn't answer all prayers, but only those by "good" Christians. This may or may not be correct - that is not my point; my point, in my post, was merely to highlight that these are the kinds of difficulties which emerge when there is "God" and he has distinct ideas of his own - like "Jonah SHOULD go THERE to preach THIS, and if he doesn't, I'll get a WHALE to swallow him and BRING him there."

~[z][x]~ said...

Very strangely, I am very much more inclined to Mr Wang's understanding than kaffein's, albeit being Christian myself.

I apologize to Mr Wang and the other readers, but I would like to have a go, (yet again) at the Prosperity Gospel:


"I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping."

I don't quite get it, kaffein. What is it about Mr Wang's highlighting of the story of Jonah as an example of the common belief - "God's thoughts might be different from ours, our desires might be different from his" that you are disagreeing with, exactly?



"And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him."

There are MANY poor, faithful Christians living in third-world countries today. Why is it that these Christians never become as rich as say, many from the mega-churches in Singapore? You might think they lack faith. Many of them, however, would realize that they have received a contentment that no materialistic gain can offer. They do pray to get rich, but they might not, and they do not mind because they know God knows what is best for them! And that, I think, is what Christianity is about.


If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc.

Was Job a typo? Because Job had like, everything taken away from him. Job's tragic story, his questioning, and his coming back to faith stand as countervailing evidence to your Prosperity-Gospel theology: God DOES NOT need to bless us with material wealth to be GOOD.


It has been misquoted.

Yes, these 'wealth-promising' verses have often been misunderstood. Especially when Christians forget Jesus' reminders in Matthew 6:19 and 6:32-33.


If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Because He knows that these other "needs" can so very often, distract/blind us from his 'best'? If not, why in the world would Jesus have said "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)?


And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

But surely, He showers his grace as well, in many other ways, to those who are not materialistically 'blessed'. Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'"


No offense meant, kaffein. It is just that I really disagree with what is being taught in many churches in Singapore today. And you sounded uncannily like them. Would love to hear what you have to say, though. Thanks.

Scyver said...

Hey Mr Wang,

Check out this book "Conversations with God" by Neale Donald Walsh. Its concept is really similar to yours, especially on the belief that there is no gap between "you" and "GOd".

If fact, neale believes that we are all God, in one way or another, as He has made us all in his likeness.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I have read a few of Neale's books before. I will blog about Neale in the future. A very interesting fellow ....

As for the current exchange between ZX and Kaffein, ZX's comments are a reflection of the "difficulty" which I had referred to in my main post. Although the specific examples chosen relate to financial wealth, they could extend to a wide variety of other things. Root difficulty as I said, arises from the idea of God having a distinct mind and ideas of his own.

Suppose for instance that his plan for you is to go to africa and spread his Good Word there as a missionary. However your own intention is to work in Singapore as an IT programmer or TCS actor. will God answer your prayers to help you get a job as an IT programmer/ TCS actor? Or will he orchestrate a series of events which keep pushing you towards your "true calling" in Africa?

Such difficulties automatically follow, once the adopted concept of God is one who has an identity and personality of his own, while you have your own separate identity and personality.

One possible resolution of this difficulty is the Christian who says "I will do whatever God wants", but it then follows that you cannot pray successfully for your own non-god-related personal wishes, desires or intentions. At best you can pray for help, guidance, inspiration etc to do what God wants. And while your prayers may then all be answered, the scope of your prayers is therefore circumscribed, at least theoretically.

Kaffein said...

Hi Mr Wang & ~[z][x]~
This discussion can get long, ardous and theological. I have no intention to lead this to a heated debate about the Christian faith for I'm certain this is not Mr Wang's intention. I am also not here to convince or convert anyone. To each individual person, whatever you believe is your choice and I respect your decision.

This will be my last reply. If anyone wants to continue, do so at my blog. I’m most happy to discuss further.

Now back to some points I want to highlight.

>Mr Wang wrote:
"In other words, if you deeply believe something (whatever that something may be), then it will appear in your reality. And faith is simply another word for "deep belief".

In other words, if you deeply believe that you are going to receive X because you asked God for it, then yes, X will appear in your reality."

>Kaffein reply:
There is a difference between Christian faith and personal faith.

*** Christian faith NOT equal Deep belief ***

To put it simply, Christian faith is "when I see God's faithfulness through Jesus Christ, God sees my faith". I cannot, therefore God can.

Deep belief doesn't move God's hand. Many of the Pharisees in Jesus time had a deep belief in God and their laws. But God was not moved by their efforts. Nor was He impressed.

So I disagree with trying to put personal belief with the Christian faith. It's totally opposite. The more you trust in yourself, the more God steps back.
I'm not sure if understand this part.

However if you are saying in the capacity in personal belief and motivation, I agree totally. What I belief can somewhat affect how I want the outcom to be. That's one of the basis of positive thinking, motivation.

> Mr Wang Says So said...
Kaffein wrote: "I repeat, always. In other words, my prayers are always answered."

.... sure, I have no difficulties with that. If you have been following my previous posts, you would know that. Thoughts affect reality; and deep thoughts affect reality deeply.

In other words, if you deeply believe something (whatever that something may be), then it will appear in your reality. And faith is simply another word for "deep belief".

In other words, if you deeply believe that you are going to receive X because you asked God for it, then yes, X will appear in your reality.

> Kaffein:
Again if you say this in a personal capacity by my effort or strength and thoughts, whatever a man puts his mind, his hands and believe in it, I'm sure it will come to pass.

However, with the God of the Christian faith, it is quite the opposite. This is what I wish to communicate. The more one trusts in his works and self-beliefs, the more God withdraws. yes you can achieve, but you will have to sustain it. It is those who say I cannot that God says I can. And He will.

As for the Father-earthly parenting, all I'm saying is God is NOT like us. We, earthly parents, can be selfish in our desires and think best for our children. However God is far from it. And God always gives us the free choice to choose our wants and desires (be it selfish or magnanimous).

And yes God has his own personality and ideas. However He does not impose them upon you. The choice is up to you.

... now to reply to ZX's comments.

Cheers,
Kaffein

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yup, your comment actually illustrates what I mean. The more you perceive yourself as a separate self, and the more you perceive that self as being separate from God, the more you will draw distinctions between "your own effort", "your own thoughts", "your own thoughts", on one hand, and on the other hand, the "separate actions" of God.

Conversely the more closely you identify your self with God, the smaller these distinctions grow. In other words, there is less and less of the idea that you are a self separate from God; there is less and less distinction between your "own" thoughts and "deeds"; and those of God.

An extreme example of a human being whose identification of himself as a self separate from God is very, very, very low would be Jesus. The distinction becomes blurred - we can argue about the complexities of the Holy Trinity but in a nutshell the distinction has become blurred.

Kaffein said...

Please publish this as ZX expects a reply. This will be my last post on this topic.

---
> ~[z][x]~ said...
Very strangely, I am very much more inclined to Mr Wang's understanding than kaffein's, albeit being Christian myself. I apologize to Mr Wang and the other readers, but I would like to have a go, (yet again) at the Prosperity Gospel:

> Kaffein:
Prosperity gospel? Hmmm never heard of it. I have only heard of THE GOSPEL, which means GOOD NEWS. Whether one thinks prosperity is good or not, it's up to individuals.
For me I choose to believe my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. That includes material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping."

I don't quite get it, kaffein. What is it about Mr Wang's highlighting of the story of Jonah as an example of the common belief - "God's thoughts might be different from ours, our desires might be different from his" that you are disagreeing with, exactly?

> Kaffein:
Erm, I never remarked about Mr Wang's comments on Jonah. I was saying Mr Wang's perception of how one receives from God is based on how he believed it to be given to him. I just disagreed when he used the Christian faith link to it.

As for Jonah, you know what, God can pick another person to preach to the Ninevites. It wasn't God 'mis-using' his force, power, will to make Jonah follow his plans and purposes. Jonah was a prophet of God. He had made his life to be the God’s mouthpiece or whatever God told him to say. But he chose otherwise.

You know if I’d zap Jonah for disobeying me if I’m God and got another prophet to do his job. That’s why we make lousy gods. The God I know gives everyone a free choice to listen to or follow Him. Jonah's case was an example of how God loves even the wicked person and not just the Jews.

You see, God had a distinct plan when He did what He had to do to Jonah. Yet Jonah still had a choice throughout! But there was a deeper meaning why God ‘moved’ to get Jonah to preach to the Ninevites.

Jonah, being a Jew, didn't like the Gentiles. Even worse, he was hoping the message didn’t reach them so they wouldn’t repent and God would have to zap the Ninevites!. God's hand moved and ‘forced’ Jonah was to show Jonah that He loved the Gentiles as much as the Jews.

So did Jonah learn finally? Was he a better prophet after that? Don’t you think Jonah now understands God’s love better?

So to entirely say God distinctly had other plans/ideas for Jonah is true. Yet God gives everyone his free choice. God, who is not limited by space and time, knows Jonah will finally realize and go to the Ninevites to preach. And the Ninevites will repent.

That is the story of Jonah.

In the past, God's thoughts and ways were unknown and a mystery. But Jesus has said, the fullness of God has been revealed through Him. Who God is, Jesus is. So I think this verse about God's thoughts are different from ours is a bit misquoted. If you had known and received Jesus, the Holy Spirit in you will reveal God's purposes in your life. This is a different topic entirely now.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him."

There are MANY poor, faithful Christians living in third-world countries today. Why is it that these Christians never become as rich as say, many from the mega-churches in Singapore? You might think they lack faith. Many of them, however, would realize that they have received a contentment that no materialistic gain can offer. They do pray to get rich, but they might not, and they do not mind because they know God knows what is best for them! And that, I think, is what Christianity is about.

> Kaffein reply:
I never said there aren’t any poor Christians. They could have lived poorly because of the country, social, politic and economic reasons. They are there because they were born there. There are many reasons.

But frankly speaking, do you think they want to be in that situation? Don't say just Christians, even non-Christians will want to leave that country given a choice. I’ve never doubted a Christian’s faith should he wish to leave the 3rd world country.

Yet do you think the norm of selling one's daughters to become prostitutes because the country is in poverty is good? So do you think it is a blessing and glorifying to God to be poor? Yet I don't understand why Christians think poverty is good (IMHO). Prosperity gospel? Nope, just plain common sense.

I’m not interested in any prosperity gospel. I am interested in THE prosperity and provider. His name is Jesus.

There are many members in the body of Christ, living and serving in different locations and at different capacity. Some live in the 3rd world countries, others more affluent countries. Some are called into 3rd world countries to live amongst the people, to reach to them, to be the hands and feet of the body of Christ. Some are called into wealth mgmt, investment (Joseph, Abraham, Solomon, etc) and so through the financial wisdom God had given, the riches are used to bless the orphanages and ministries to help these missionaries. Others are called to be the mouth (eg. Pastors, preachers, evangelists), the ears, the eyes, etc.

Let's not limit how Christians should be. If your believe being poor glorifies God, it’s your choice. For me and my house, I choose to want to bless others, be it spiritual or material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc.

Was Job a typo? Because Job had like, everything taken away from him. Job's tragic story, his questioning, and his coming back to faith stand as countervailing evidence to your Prosperity-Gospel theology: God DOES NOT need to bless us with material wealth to be GOOD.

> Kaffein reply:
Did you read the whole of Job, ZX? Or did you only like the part where Job was poor and lost everything?

1. Firstly, Job wished there was someone who could stand in the gap for him. In his time, he didn't have Christ to mediate on behalf of him. Now we have Jesus Christ who is our great High Priest and Mediator. So can Satan stand before God and accuse Christians now and take all blessings from them? That’s was what Job (and David) was hoping to have!

2. Second, did you ever read the end of Job story? Everything that was taken was given back to him, and even much more. So the question is not whether God had blessed Job us with material wealth (my bible says he did), but whether Job took it or not. My bible says Job was the richest man alive then.

3. Thirdly, if you read carefully, who was it that blessed Job? It was God. If according to you, Job should give all away. Or did you believe that Job was struck down because he had so many things? If I’m reading the correct bible, it says God was the one who blessed Job and protected him.

4. If going by what you say again about God not needing to bless us materially, that means God shouldn't even bless Job after taking everything away from him, right? My bible tells me God blessed Job even more than what he had at first before Satan took them away! If I follow you, that meant Job should tell God, “No don't give me anymore stuff!”. Erm, that's not what my bible tells me.

5. Lastly, it was Satan who made a bargain with God. He lost. According to the book of law, Satan had not only to pay back what he stole from Job, but much more. So it's always a risk when Satan attacks a Christian.

I'm not sure if you can use Job as a good example because it's a one-off situation. I can see more richness and blessings of many others than the one-off Job in the Old Testaments. Yet in the end, Job was even richer. So somehow your support for Job doesn’t stand.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Yes, these 'wealth-promising' verses have often been misunderstood. Especially when Christians forget Jesus' reminders in Matthew 6:19 and 6:32-33.

> Kaffein reply:
Look at the context and whole chapter in Matt 6:19. He's talking about the Pharisees who often are showing off their fasting, flaunting their wealth and giving tithes to let everyone see how holy they are. I don’t believe Jesus was calling us hypocrites at all.

The LOVE of money is the root of evil. It is not money itself. A man with $10 can be greedier than a multi-millionaire. The problem isn't about money but our hearts.

The key verse is found in v21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus didn't say you shouldn't be rich, but if you put riches before God, money is your god. I'm quite sure you have misquoted.

Matthew 6:32-33.
"32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Again the key verse you've missed out is your Heavenly Father knows you need them. Them means material things which the pagans run after. Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness: what do these refer to?

Jesus refered the Kingdom to the new covenant God is going to make with the people. Many times, Jesus said: The Kingdom of God is here. His righteousness? Only one qualifies that name and that’s Jesus.

So this verse means seek God through Jesus, and all these things (includes material things) will be added unto you. Because the things he referred to were the very material things that pagans run after.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Because He knows that these other "needs" can so very often, distract/blind us from his 'best'? If not, why in the world would Jesus have said "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)?

> Kaffein reply:
Again you have misunderstood what Jesus said.

Jesus wasn't saying the rich man couldn't enter because he had great wealth. The rich man had great wealth and he did not want to let go of it. That was his god. The rich man also boasted in his works: honouring his parens, not murdering and loving his neighbours as himself. The man was basically proud because he boasted in many things he thought himself better than others.

So Jesus pointed to him his weakness. That is his love for his great wealth. And the trust in his own efforts to enter the kingdom of God.

Remember Jesus said anyone who wants to follow Him must deny himself and his family? Yet I don't see Christians denying parents or their wives for the matter? Isn't it contradicting the law which says to honor your parents?

Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. If your hand causes you to sin, chop it off. Better to enter the kingdom maimed than to be thrown outside.

So why don't we all gouge our eyes and chop our hands? Which of us can safely say we don't have envious, jealous and wandering eyes? Or our hands have never done anything wrong?

What Jesus is saying is no one, by their own efforts can enter the Kindgom of God. That's why we need a saviour.

If I take Jesus' meaning literally, that means I should be poor and maimed and blind. Yet Jesus healed the blind! Why would He do that since the eye caused me to sin and not enter the kingdom? Likewise, God should not bless Job, or David or anyone of us at all? Yet again why am I working? Better if I go to the countryside and be a farmer and grow just enough for me and family.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

But surely, He showers his grace as well, in many other ways, to those who are not materialistically 'blessed'. Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'"

> Kaffein reply:
Ahhh the key word is LOVE OF MONEY. Not don't have money. I can have $10 in my pocket, yet I'm not satisfied. I can be a multi-millionaire, yet I'm not fulfilled. So it’s not the money but the love of it.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
No offense meant, kaffein. It is just that I really disagree with what is being taught in many churches in Singapore today. And you sounded uncannily like them. Would love to hear what you have to say, though. Thanks.

> Kaffein reply:
None taken. To each our own understanding. I just think you have missed out much of what God has in store for you.

You see, if I'm wrong, I'm still saved by grace, be it I’m rich or not. Well, if you are wrong, then you suffer needlessly on this earth.

Cheers,
Kaffein

Kaffein said...

ZX,
Perhaps you wish to discuss further on my blog. Let's not clutter this space so we can see other views.

Kaffein

Mr Wang Says So said...

"You know if I’d zap Jonah for disobeying me if I’m God and got another prophet to do his job. That’s why we make lousy gods. The God I know gives everyone a free choice to listen to or follow Him."

This is not strictly relevant to my post, but in case you didn't notice, in the Old Testatment lots of people did get zapped by God for disobedience. You know, great floods, cities turned to salt, deaths of 1st firstborns ...

"Samuel 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Here He is relatively kinder, the virgins are spared:

"Numbers 31:15 And Moses said to them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD, in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 31:18 But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

War & destruction aplenty here:

"Jos. 11:19 There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all [other] they took in battle. 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, [and] that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses."

And here the cattle are spared:

"Deut. 2:33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. 2:34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones of every city, we left none to remain. 2:35 Only the cattle we took for a prey to ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took."

Etc etc.

Kaffein said...

Mr Wang said so...
"This is not strictly relevant to my post, but in case you didn't notice, in the Old Testatment lots of people did get zapped by God for disobedience. You know, great floods, cities turned to salt, deaths of 1st firstborns ..."

It will be quite hard to explain in a few sentences.

Before the Law (or 10 commandments) was given, God gave grace and mercy. Doesn't mean God allowed sin to reign over the land. God is slow to anger and abounding in love.

If if man sinned, he ought to die. So if he did, God is just in following that. So God's destruction eg, on Sodom and Gormorah, was because their hearts were so hardened that they no longer hear God. God in fact waited for them to repent.

There are many instances when God didn't zap people. Eg Cain didn't die when he murdered Abel. That's why Abel's blood called for vengence, justice.

You see, the Israelites or thereafter only got zapped after the Law was given. These very same people boasted to God that they are able to do whatever God told them.

Wasn't it interesting that before the Law was given, they murmured in front of the Red Sea and didn't die? And even after they complained and God still provided?

Yet immediately after the Law was given, the first murmuring had people dying.

This is what Paul wrote in the Romans. Before the Law was given, man lived by God's grace and mercy. Man had a conscience (or in-built moral values). However this conscience can be seared and numbed.

However, when the Law was given, it pointed that man was imperfect. The Law itself is perfect and holy. It demands perfection and the keeping of it to be blessed. The breaking of 1 law = breaking of All laws, ie if one lies, he is also guilty of commiting adultery. There is no big or small sin in God's eyes.

Failure to keep it usually results in death, curses, diseases, etc. And these were rightly mentioned in the verses you wrote.

The Law shows that no man can boasts of his works and efforts to enter the Kingdom. Yet it does not tell man how they can reach God's standard of holiness which is perfect. It cannot save man but can only point to his weaknesses through Adam's sin.

That's why we need a Saviour. Someone who identifies with us (must be a man), and also perfect and sinless to fulfill the Law (divine like God). Someone who will stand in the gap for us and for God.

His name is Jesus. And when He died, His blood called out grace and mercy (not justice, vengence as Abel's blood cried out).

Those who think they can, He cannot save them like the Pharisees. Only those who say "Lord, I cannot Lord but You can" will be saved. That's why Jesus says I've come for the sick and lost, not the well and self-righteous.

Cheers,
Kaffein

PS. Mr Wang, it's up to you to publish this post. I've promised to keep it to the last previously.

JB said...

No person who considers himself a true Christian can at the same time logically dismiss TAR.

Logically speaking, a Christian can dismiss TAR.

The Christian belief holds that no matter how hard a person prays or believe, UNLESS God allows it, (because your wish may contradict with HIS Divine Plan) that prayer CAN go unanswered. This is fundamentally different with TAR which holds that if a person TRULY believes hard enough, that wish WILL come true.

However, both are similar in that they are based on a self-fulfilling belief system that cannot be negated or falsified.

The TAR believer will explain that a person did not get his wish because he didn't believe enough and the good Christian will respond, "It's God's will that my prayers went unanswered."

gunievere said...

Mr Wang, thanks for posting this entry.

I would like to ask how come you know so much about christianity when you're not a practitioner of the faith? Did you study or practise the religion deeply before?

I'm asking because you write like you understand the faith a lot. I'm a christian and what you say is really a new view for me. Never heard it before. I want to be open-minded but I also want to be cautious at the same time. So thats why I'm asking about where you got the knowledge of christianity.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yes I understand your concern. You suspect I may be the devil's agent in disguise, right? LOL.
Wait till you read what I have to say about the connection between hindu teachings and theories in modern physics about the creation and expansion of the universe.

Basically I don't really believe that any school of thought, whether it's science or philosophy or christianity or buddhism or anything else, as having any exclusive claims on ultimate truths. But I believe that if you view and experience several of these systems, and pick out the commonalities, then you come closer to those ultimate truths, especially if you use both sides of your brain and match that with your personal experiences.
In the inquiries into any Really Big Question, I see the people who rely on any single framework as rather disadvantaged. Eg the person who insists that anything not mentioned in his particular holy text must be false, is as disadvantaged as the person who rejects anything not strictly proven according to the scientific method - the same goes for the person who relies solely on strict logic to the exclusion of his personal intuition and experience, and the person who relies solely on personal experience and intuition, to the exclusion of logic.

Mr Wang Says So said...

The christian may see TAR as valid, with the additional qualifier that God is the organising principle, who as a separate entity may also have his own ideas on how reality should be organised.

Eg prayer (a form of thought) can bring about a miracle (an otherwise inexplicable change in reality) IF God is agreeable. But the closer you are to God (that is, the lesser the separation and the deeper the faith), the greater the likelihood that your thought will affect reality in the desired way (God being much more likely to answer the prayers of the faithful converted, rather than the wicked, the pagans, the heathens etc).

As for falsifiability or verifiability, those who do not trust their own experience will probably have some difficulties. They will have to wait for the scientists and their little experiments with human intention (those few scientists, that is, who can obtain funding at all for such obscure research which won't lead to the latest new lucrative techie products or bestselling drugs).

JB said...

The christian may see TAR as valid, with the additional qualifier that God is the organising principle,

TAR is contingent on belief. Prayer is contingent on God's Will. These are fundamentally different beliefs and irreconcilable.

As for falsifiability or verifiability, those who do not trust their own experience will probably have some difficulties. They will have to wait for the scientists and their little experiments with human intention...

Establishing truth or falsity is extremely important. "Personal experience" is hardly the way to establish what is true.

How does one know that a vision he had of Thor throwing lightning rods is real or a mere hallucination?

For instance, President Bush claims God talks to him and told him to invade Iraq. It's a shame that God didn't tell him there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Belief without evidence can be downright dangerous. Just ask the Iraqis.

Mr Wang Says So said...

That is incorrect. Prayer is not contingent on god's will. Prayer is contingent on whether you decide to pray or not. Naturally if you do not choose to pray, then you will have no prayers for God to answer.

As for the authenticity of personal experience, people trust it to different degrees on different topics. Whether or not your mother loves you cannot be proven in accordance with the scientific method. However, those who automatically assume that the unfalsifiable is therefore false probably end up making lots of mistakes. And not only with their mothers.

JB said...

That is incorrect. Prayer is not contingent on god's will. Prayer is contingent on whether you decide to pray or not. Naturally if you do not choose to pray, then you will have no prayers for God to answer.

I will rephrase although it should have been crystal clear when read in context.

TAR(holds that the answers to wishes coming true) is contingent on BELIEF.

The Christian belief (holds that the answers to prayers) is contingent on GOD's WILL.

These are fundamentally different beliefs and irreconcilable.

However, those who automatically assume that the unfalsifiable is therefore false probably end up making lots of mistakes. And not only with their mothers.

I agree that mindless cynics would probably think it false without evidence.

Logical skeptics would rightly consider what has not been proven a mere "belief" or conjecture.

It would be equally illogical to base it on 'personal experience' without real evidence and assume that it is "true".

The believers are the ones who make these leaps of illogic and *trust* their 'personal experience' to be true. And this is fact.

Mr Wang Says So said...

You may be right. In your own reality, you probably are. What you may not appreciate is the subjectivity of the terms you have used - such as "proven", "logic", "illogic", "mindless", "conjecture" and so on.

Eg a person suddenly chooses to convert to christianity (in the firm belief that Jesus is the true saviour). To some other people, eg staunch Christians, this would be sensible, logical behaviour; proof, for them, comes in the form of their personal relationships with Jesus, the extensive teachings of the church; personal testimonies from fellow
Christians etc - in other words, to them, the evidence is abundant and the matter is proven beyond doubt.

To staunch atheists, however, such a decision to convert would appear to be illogical and stupid and the belief in jesus as saviour would appear to be eminently mindless, since the proposition that there could be eternal life after death is highly against mainstream science and the assertion that a man could die and rise three days later is not merely pseudoscientific, but utterly unscientific.

Realities, as I said, vary sharply with our own thoughts and beliefs. Your own thoughts create your own reality.

I am also in partial agreement with your point about personal experience. To know whether a ribeye steak is very good, some people only need to eat it. To know whether a piece of music, some people only need to listen. Others have less trust in their personal experience: they doubt their taste buds and ears. They need to check the restaurant reviews, verify the professional qualifications of the chef, do a survey among their friends, read the music critic's comments about the song, ascertain how high the song climbed on the charts, how well the album sold, and so on.

Sometimes this ends up as the error of mistaking a map for the territory. In meditation, we sometimes say that the person has confused a thing, with its description.

JB said...

Sometimes this ends up as the error of mistaking a map for the territory. In meditation, we sometimes say that the person has confused a thing, with its description.

The error is yours, both in the map analogy (false analogy) and equivocation of the word reality.

The reality in the first instance is a subjective one - your like or dislike of certain foods or your subjective opinion of a work of art or other people's religious beliefs.

The reality that we are discussing is measurable and testable.

When you fall from a very high cliff and land on your head the skull cracks and your brain ends up as mush and you die. When a lorry knocks you down at speed you die.

There is nothing subjective about it. When you die you stay dead. No one is going to dispute whether you are partially alive or partially dead.

Mr Wang Says So said...

No doubt such events, in your reality, would lead to such consequences, for your beliefs and thoughts create your reality, including those aspects of your reality that tell you that there are such things as "me", "you" and "death", and how such things operate and function.

Of course, everything you know or think you know about "death", and "me", is basically (a) what your senses have perceived of "death", (b) what your senses have perceived about "me", and (c) how your mind has been interpreting those perceptions since the time you first perceived of "me" and first perceived of "death" and indeed first perceived of "you". So yes, your mind IS your universe, I agree.

And if from tomorrow you never perceived Mr Wang's existence again, and forgot all about him and never thought of him again, then yes, in your reality he would never die, but simply cease to exist.

Meanwhile Schrodinger's cat is still neither dead nor alive, and you continue to be composed of an extremely large number of subatomic particles blinking in.and out of existence and perpetually influenced and influencing the behaviour of every other subatomic particle in the universe with which they have ever experienced quantum entanglement, at any time since the beginning of time.

Aha, what a scientifically precise statement I've just made.

Mr Wang Says So said...

In case you still do not see it, you are merely assuming an answer to einstein's old question. "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?". In your case, it could be something like this; "if a body falls off a high cliff and no one ever observes it, does the skull still crack?".

All you know or think you know of reality is that which you have perceived and interpreted, and you know nothing of what you have not perceived and not interpreted. What you HAVE perceived and interpreted becomes "real" for you - in other words, your mind is your universe and your thoughts create your reality.

Mr Wang Says So said...

To put it more succinctly, your external objective reality is whatever you perceive external objective reality to be.

You see now why Buddha said what he said about reality and illusion?

JB said...

In case you still do not see it, you are merely assuming an answer to einstein's old question. "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Yes, I do see. This discussion has now gone off-tangent and turned into a metaphysical discussion.

You see now why Buddha said what he said about reality and illusion?

Yes, *your* version of it.

As you should know the Buddha would not discuss metaphysical matters, since such discussions do little to help people overcome suffering. These discussions can themselves become objects of attachment. Besides, I am not here to offer MY understanding of Buddhism or which school of Buddhism attracts me intellectually.

However, I will respond as follows and then I will leave the debate.

The "illusion" which you equate with a reality that only exist in our minds isn't the "illusion" the Buddha really meant.

The "illusion" is that our world/reality is permanent. The truth is that our world and reality is impermanent.

The solution to overcoming suffering is through a transformation of consciousness that allows experience to be different as perceived. This transformed consciousness does not alter, for example, the inevitability of death or loss of a loved one (our reality/Samsara) but allows one to overcome one of the THREE great flaws of all beings in Samsara - nitya (Pali anicca) "impermanence". the ability to abandon attachments to states of being that cannot continue to exist permanently. This is to achieve 'Non attachment'.

I will not elaborate on the other two, anatman (Pali anatta) "no-self, no-soul, no-ego" and
duhkha (Pali dukka) "suffering, misery, sorrow" as it isn't necessary for the point I wish to make.

To equate your understanding of a reality(Samsara) that exists only in our minds is to say there is no reality/Samsara. If this is true, then there is no world of Suffering Attachment and Ego and accordingly no need to practice the Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.

We can merely think Enlightenment and it will happen in our reality.

This is deluded thinking and to mis-understand the real meaning of the veil of ILLUSION in Buddhistic belief.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, that is your understanding, and in my opinion, your understanding is not quite right. Nver mind, there is no need to quibble. I will just leave you with some food for thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_in_Buddhism

There are different views of reality in Buddhism. Some teachers (e.g., the mahasiddha Tilopa) even discouraged any intellectual activity, including philosophy. See also Buddha Shakyamuni's position on some philosophical questions and his famous arrow parable.

"Some views of reality in Buddhism are relevant to the issue of dependent origination and some to teachings beyond cause and effect. Examples are discussed below.

Some consider that the concept of the unreality of "reality" is confusing. They posit that, in Buddhism, the perceived reality is considered illusory not in the sense that reality is a fantasy or unreal, but that our perceptions and preconditions mislead us to believe that we are separate from the elements that we are made of. Reality, in Buddhist thought, would be described as the manifestation of karma, part of the process of impermanence, similar to the Hindu concept of Maya.

Other schools of thought in Buddhism (e.g., Dzogchen), consider perceived reality literally unreal. As a prominent contemporary teacher puts it: "In a real sense, all the visions that we see in our lifetime are like a big dream [...]".[1] In this context, the term 'visions' denotes not only visual perceptions, but appearances perceived through all senses, including sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations ....

We can look at the concepts of impermanence and not-self in objective terms, for example by deconstructing the concept of an object such as a flower and seeing that the flower is made up entirely of non-flower elements like soil, nutrients, photosynthetic energy, rain water and the effort of the people who grew the flower. All of these things, according to the Diamond Sutra (see: The Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra, Diamond Cutter Sutra) 'inter-are' with each other to manifest what we call a 'flower'. In other words, there is no essence arisen from nothingness that is unique and personal to any being. In particular, there is neither a human soul that lives on beyond the death of the physical body nor one that is extinguished at death since, strictly speaking, there is nothing to extinguish. The relative reality (i.e., the illusory perceived reality) comes from our belief that we are separate from the rest of the things in the universe and, at times, at odds with the processes of nature and other beings. The ultimate or absolute reality, in Buddhist thought, shows that we are inter-connected with all things. The concept of non-discrimination expands on this by saying that, while a chair is different from a flower, they 'inter-are' because they are each made of non-flower and non-chair elements. Ultimately those elements are the same, so the distinction between chair and flower is one of quantity not of quality.

.........

According to contemporary teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, all appearances perceived during the whole life of an individual, through all senses, including sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations in their totality, are like a big dream. It is claimed that, on careful examination, the dream of life and regular nightly dreams are not very different, and that in their essential nature there is no difference between them.

The non-essential difference between the dreaming state and ordinary waking experience is that the latter is more concrete and linked to attachment; the dreaming experience while sleeping is slightly detached.

.....

What appears as a world of apparently external phenomena, is the energy of the individual him or herself. There is nothing external or separate from the individual. Everything that manifests in the individual's field of experience is a continuum. This is the 'Great Perfection' that is discovered in Dzogchen practice.[5]:

Anonymous said...

>You see now why Buddha said what he said about reality and illusion?

And what exactly did he say? If I am not mistaken, this is the essence of what he said about reality and illusion:

---------------------------
Illusion - there is a entity called soul, that exist permanently independent of the body, much as a driver (soul) exist independent of a car (physical body).

Reality - A living thing is constituted from several physical + non-physical parts, none of which by itself resembles the living thing (and therefore none can, by definition, be called a soul), but which together form the living thing. E.g. hydrogen + oxygen = water, but neither hydrogen nor oxygen has the property of water and therfore they are not the "soul" of water. And indeed there is no "mini-water" inside water that we can call a soul. Rebirth is more like a continuity eg. Asfter water is electrolysed ("dead"), the oxygen of the former water now combining with say, carbon to form carbon monoxide (a new physical body). So once you realise there is no soul, you will realise that there is nothing that can or need to be saved by any god...
--------------------------


And so, the objective of Buddhism is to dispel the above illusion, and to understand the abovementioned reality - an **OBJECTIVE** reality, as far as Buddhism is concerned.

Tell me, where on earth did Buddha ever say anything to along your line of: "your external objective reality is whatever you perceive external objective reality to be" and therefore there is no single true objective reality?

Anonymous said...

Buddhism - there does not exist a self (defined as a soul - a mini-you) that is independent from "reality" (i.e. the outside world). And this is not a philosophical issue or a way of thinking. "There does not exist" because it literally does not exist in the scientific/objective sense i.e. you cannot find a soul within a human, just as you cannot find a "mini-water" within water. Humans are composed of various physical + non-physical parts, none of which can be called a soul, just as water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, but neither hydrogen nor oxygen is the soul of water! Therefore, the way to enlightenment is to investigate (via meditative ability ultimately) and recognise this **objective** true truth and then once you realise that there is no permanent soul for you to save, you should..... and thus reach enlightenment.


Mr Wang - there is no separation of self from reality because firstly reality is what you (self) think it is, and secondly, what you think can affect your reality, so the two are one and the same.

--------------------------

It is pretty clear that Buddhism is talking about A and Mr. Wang is talking about B. They do not contradict each other. They are just different topics! I talk apple, you talk orange. That's what jb and i are trying to point out.

But alas, Mr. Wang doesn't see it at all. He pick up a concept in Buddhism (no self), and choose to re-define it and apply it to suit his (totally different) topic and then claim that it is supported by Buddhism, or as he puts it: "You see now why Buddha said what he said about reality and illusion?!"

No. I don't see! Buddha was talking about reality and illusion in a different way from what you are talking about, as detailed above.

Anonymous said...

X and TAR
----------------
Thoughts, of course, affect reality. Everybody can accept that. However, they differ in the *degree* of influence thoughts can have on reality. And Mr. Wang is advocating a very large influence.

Mr. Wang first tried to get support from Buddhism. But in Buddhism, the karmic result of wholesome/unwholesome thoughts are often non-physical (eg. an purer/impure mind) as opposed to physical (i.e. some event occurring physically as a result of your thoughts). So TAR and Buddhism are two different topic.

Then, Mr. Wang try to get support from Christianity. But, Christianity is about: thoughts (prayers) -> God -> God granting such prayers (or not granting). And Mr. Wang is advocating something without an intermediary: thoughts -> reality altered. How does Mr. Wang expect Christians to support TAR based on Christianity. Once you take out the God factor, by definition, you are already not talking about Christianity. Just because Christians believe God can answer their prayers, it does not follow that minus the God factor, they will accept that "prayers" (thoughts) can still change reality. Indeed, if that's what they believe, then they do not need God - self effort is sufficient. And so again, TAR and Christianity are two different topic - in fact, opposite topics since TAR takes God out of the equation.

And so, it is the same when Mr Wang ventured into quantum physics etc. His "X and TAR" topics are all bombarded by the X-ist!

But I note that when Mr. Wang quote that Dilbert cartoon creator, there was less controversy. So I think that's the way to go: Mr. Wang should talk about "TAR and TAR", not "Buddhism/Christianity/Hinduism and TAR". TAR is a "religion" by itself. If you talk about its successful followers, the testimonies will lend support. In fact, the best testimony is from you: you can talk about how TAR affected you in details, how you planted the deep thought of doubling your income during one of your meditation, and how you end up with a series of event that you believed occurred because of that, and how indeed, your income became doubled. That is more interesting, more convincing, and less controversial than attempting to link it with religion and science.

Just a suggestion.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, what you may not see, even though I've pointed out in different ways in different posts and comments, that I do not rely on any particular school of thought as exclusive "evidence" of anything I say. In fact I consider my examples really as examples, illustrations, if you like - and they may be drawn from buddhism, christianity, physics, psychology, neuroscience, personal anecdotes from my readers, applied finance, biofeedback research, meditation, Berkeleyan philosophy etc. Anywhere, really, since thought affects reality, and reality is necessarily bigger than any such school of thought.

This is the struggle that I suspect some of my readers are having - they are testing their understanding of what I'm saying, against the particular system they are most inclined towards.

So for instance if I use an example from quantum physicists, such a reader might say: "not all quantum physicists agree with that" and if I use an example from christianity, another two readers may start disagreeing over their respective understanding of the bible; if I used an illustration from buddhism, a reader may said, "in the school of buddhism that I personally subscribe to, this is not the way we are taught", and if I invite readers to investigate their personal experience, another such reader may say, "I think it is foolish for me to trust my own personal experience."

My invitation to readers is to attempt to see reality as something wider than their individually preferred school of thought. In other words, to explore the possibility that whatever reality is, it is wider than its description in the Bible, and therefore cannot be completely understood, tested or experienced, by reference to the bible. It is wider than its description in scientific papers on quantum physics published in peer-reviewed journals, and therefore cannot be completely understood, tested or experienced by reference to our current understanding of quantum physics. It is wider than its description in Buddhist scriptures, and therefore annot be fully tested, comprehended or experienced by reference to the buddhist scriptures. It is wider than berkeleyan philosophy, rosenthal' effect, scott adams etc etc.

It may be that we are inherently incapable of fully comprehending, testing or experiencing reality. I do believe that if we keep an open mind and explore what all these different systems say, instead of confining ourselves to the rules, discoveries, beliefs and teachings of any one system, we can come closer to a richer and more accurate understanding. A recent example I mentioned would be the unusual friendship between quantum physicist david bohm and indian spiritual guru J Krishnamurti, who had numerous discussions on reality, space, time and consciousness.

It would have been a meaningless dialogue, however, if Bohm had kept saying "Krishna, stop, stop! What you are saying is unacceptable because it hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed physics journal" or if Krishna kept saying, "david, stop stop!
What you're saying about your lab results is unacceptable because it goes against Hindu teachings."

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anon 9:27 am, just read your comment, good suggestion, I understand what you say, but my significant other blog detailing my personal TAR experiments is, well, too personal although I know many people would find the successes quite mindblowing and shocking. Anyway there will always be skeptics - even if I could fly, they would say, "yes but can you go to outer space?" and if I could, they would say, "yes, but could you make it to the moon?" And if I could, they would say,"yes, how about to the end of the solar system ... And the next ... And the next?" And now you see why jesus was very wise in deciding not to perform magic tricks for the sake of entertaining the pharisees.

PZ said...

Anyway there will always be skeptics - even if I could fly, they would say, "yes but can you go to outer space?"

I love fantasies and out-of-this world thinking!

I think Tolkien, Middle-earth, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, Orcs and Gandalf are really cool. I really do.

If you really could fly, as a logical sceptic. I would want evidence. And if true I would be a worthy disciple. To fly as a bird. Way Cool!

I would not be so silly as to ask whether you can fly to outer space.

I might, however, ask whether a space suit and breathing apparatus are necessary. Or whether you have enough propulsion to help you escape planet Earth's gravitational force.

Now those queries would not be too unreasonable I trust? :-)

PZ

hunguptodry said...

how about some good old rolling stones wisdom ...

"u don't always get what u want"

TAR or not.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"U don't always get what you want."

Yes you're right. You don't always get what you want.

Most TAR schools would explain the most likely cause as the result of focusing on what you don't want, rather than what you want. Eg you want an exciting job, but you keep thinking all day about how extremely boring your job is. The consequence of the focus of your thoughts is that you create and sustain a reality where your job is extremely boring. However, if you knew how to use TAR techniques to control what is often described as the "direction" of your thoughts, you would be able to transform your reality into one where your job is exciting.

In one interesting case that I was told about, a banker wanted to do a certain kind of work (relating to corporate social responsibility) but (a) she had no experience, (b) she did not want any paycut and (c) her bank did not have any such position. She applied a TAR technique, and a few months later, the bank created such a role, and she secured it, with no paycut, beating several other external candidates who had much more experience and in fact asked for much lower pay.

The skeptics will say that this is nonsense, or just coincidence, or that Mr Wang is just telling lies. Of course, TAR practitioners will not think that there is anything strange or unusual at all, about the account I have just given - in fact, it's a fairly mundane example. Many successful professionals, btw, regularly use TAR for career purposes; they just don't like to admit it.

For my own latest career move (earlier this year), I similarly did not go looking in external reality for the job I wanted. In other words, I sent out no resumes, checked no job ads, called no one. I merely specified in my mind, using TAR, the kind of jobs I would be interested in. Three headhunters coldcalled me in the next two weeks on five job opportunities, each matching quite closely the kind of role I had envisioned for myself.

Etc etc. Usual TAR stuff, surprising only to non-TAR practitioners.

Mr Wang Says So said...

For further examples of TAR in the sphere of career/occupation, refer to my two earlier posts about scott adam ("I want to be an internationally syndicated cartoonist"- positive affirmations) and the reader who was a "struggling underachiever" but transformed himself into a "successful professional" and TAR'd his way into Harvard and Insead, thru goal-writing exercises (as quoted in my post) and another TAR technique known as the "vision board" (this he informed me in a subsequent email).

Again the skeptics who want to disbelieve will always have room to believe (a consequence of TAR itsel). But really, who would know the secret of scott's success better than scott himself? Who would know the secret of P's success better than P himself?

The skeptics? Hahaaha.

Kay said...

Hey Mr Wang,

I have been reading your posts on TAR so far and it has been interesting but it was a bit too similar with the Christian Doctrine. Ever since u posted some stuff on TAR, i knew that there will be a day where there will be some links between Christianity and TAR which u will post :)

I thought i can contribute something too from the point of a Christian but i just want to state beforehand that i come from a charismatic / pentecostal background and i am currently attending a non-denominational church so my views may not be that conventional and besides i want to keep my post not so much as a discourse on the differences between denominational doctrines but just offering some viewpoints of mine. Just to put it on note, i am no pastor too either :)

As Christians, when we pray, we are called to have faith and that is to believe that the things we pray and ask for will come to pass and of course we must also ask in accordance with His will. Now according to the Bible, the definition as quoted from the New Living Translation,

Hebrews 11:1 - Faith is the confidence of that we hope for will actually happen; it gives an assurance about things we cannot see.

Another suitable passage is taken from,

Mark 21:21 - Then Jesus told them, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen.

The key word in both passages in believe.

So every time we make a prayer to God, we must believe that such a prayer must come to pass. In the thoughts that we think, we try to create an inner reality in us such that the prayer we have prayed about has come to pass already and in the outer reality, it is about to take place soon. To create such an inner reality, we expel thoughts such as the fear of not seeing the prayer coming to pass and so on. In short, we must believe in the prayer that we have made will be answered by God and in order to induce such a belief, we must discern and control the thoughts that we think.

Now the main difference lies in this. I am a Christian because i believe that the prayer i have made will be answered and be fulfilled by God and NOT because my thoughts
alone has altered my outer reality into what i want it to be. From the viewpoint of TAR, a prayer will be answered because the thoughts of the person who make a prayer will alter his outer reality.

Just a side note, i think the posting of biblical passages should not be posted out of context. They should not just be lifted out of the Bible and it's meaning be taken literally. One should also consider the context and the background of the paragraph from which the verses were taken from. Well i have not really read carefully through the post that you made but merely taken a quick look at it so if u think i have misunderstood what u are trying to say, do point it out :)

Cheers,
Kay

Mr Wang Says So said...

Sure, kay, and I will offer you another angle to look at it.

In every religion, there is this idea of "prayer", and in every religion, the idea of "faith" as a vital component of prayer, also exists. And of course in every religion, the relevant gods answer the relevant believers' prayers.

The christian decides to think in a certain way (he prays) and somewhere in those thoughts, he has the idea of "jesus", and he also has faith (or deep belief / trust / confidence) that the prayer will be answered. Lo and behold, the prayer is answered.

The muslim also decides to think in a certain way
(he prays) and somewhere in those thoughts, he has the idea of "allah" and he also has faith (or deep belief / trust / confidence) that the prayer will be answered. Lo and behold, the prayer is answered.

The kuan yin or ganesha or other worshipper decides to think in a certain way (he prays) and somewhere in those thoughts, he has the idea of "kuan yin" or "ganesha" or other god, and he also has faith (or deep belief / trust /confidence) that the prayer will ne answered and lo and behold the prayer is answered.

The secular TAR practitioner decides to think in a certain way (he does a TAR exercise) and in those thoughts he holds no idea of any divine entity, but he does have faith (deep belief / trust / confidence) that his thoughts will come true. Lo and behold, the thoughts come true.

The parallels are striking, are they not. I do not attempt to offer any definitive answers but I think that readers may identify some interesting possibilities for themselves.

One is that "God" does not really care what name you address him by, or if you do not have a name for him at all (as in the case of the secular TAR practitioner). The real prerequisite is faith/trust/confidence/positivity or whatever you choose to call it.

Another possibility is that our thoughts so profoundly create reality that whatever version of god or gods we believe in, become true in our respective realities and accordingly answer prayers, especially those made in faith (which is after all a mental thing, a form of thought, if you like). Secular TAR bypasses one stage of this, skipping the "god as arbiter" stage between thought and reality.

A third possibility, very Jainist, is that God is ultimately everywhere, all-powerful and is of all things, that is, we too are creations of God, and part of God itself, and therefore (unsurprisingly) connected to all of reality, and able to influence it through our intentions, in local as well as nonlocal ways (to borrow a term from quantum physics).

Yet another possibility is that God is an interesting but not strictly necessary concept to explain how the universe works. Thought affects reality, and certain types of thought (eg "prayer") potentially affect reality more directly and powerful. "God" is one name for the organising principle behind all this, another name could simply be "karma".

And of course there are other possibilities.

PZ said...

Mr. Wang said...

For my own latest career move (earlier this year), I similarly did not go looking in external reality for the job I wanted. I merely specified in my mind, using TAR, Three headhunters coldcalled me in the next two weeks on five job opportunities..

After a bitter divorce, my friend swore off relationships for good. The very next week he met his future wife to be in Tokyo while on a job attachment.

His new insight and theory is - Swear against A happening and A will happen! And soon too!!!

His logic? *A* happened after he swore against *A*.

"Post hoc, ergo, propter hoc".

I pointed out his fallacious reasoning and he replied,

"Who would know the secret of P's success better than P himself?"

And he laughed mockingly and maniacally, "You Sceptics, hahahaha."

PZ

Danielsg said...

TAR is so similar to 'law of attraction' of The Secret.

It says:

1. The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction.

2. the law of attraction says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.

3. Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source - you.

4. You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with you thoughts. If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts.

5. Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life.

6. Your thoughts become things.

Interesting concert. Its more than the above ofcourse. I will stop here.

expat@large said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I was bored slash pissed tonight and I've just caught up with (lightly skimming) your posts for the last few months (which I had been studiously ignoring) and I'm pleased to report this:

You have totally lost it.

Gaga.

Gone.

Pfffchunnng, out the window.

I was going to blog about how totally lost you are, but there is no point.

You are so TOTALLY lost, you think you are found. And that sir, is scary.

cheers

E@L

p.s. You might like to disambiguate TAR on Wikipedia because I still have no idea what (oops, I nearly said "on earth", but this is obviously a place you no longer inhabit) you and your mates are raving about.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Pssst, E@L. One of your blogging buddies (the one you were trying to lose weight together with) is into TAR as well. He uses a different term for it, that is all.

TAR is my own personal term ("thought affects reality") for something that has gone and is still going by several different names. Its most recent advocate is a fellow countryman (woman, rather) of yours - rhonda byrne. You must be out of touch with your hometown (where I am right now).