Michael Sternbach

The Dao Bums
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by Michael Sternbach

  1. On 23.1.2021 at 2:06 PM, Bindi said:

    Here’s a parallel theme, but the positions that are taken are completely opposite. In Thomas - 


    14 Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give alms, you will harm your spirits.


    In the NT gospels¬†Jesus enjoins unostentatious almsgiving, together with prayer and fasting, as one of the pillars of the religious life (Mt 6.1‚Äst16.¬†There are 100‚Äôs of other references to the value of charity, prayer and fasting, this one is just representative).¬†


      Hide contents


    Matthew 6

    New International Version

    Giving to the Needy

    6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

    ‚Äú‚ÄėOur Father¬†in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    10 your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us today our daily bread.
    12 And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
        but deliver us from the evil one.’

    14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


    16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.






    So one has to choose on these specific topics, fasting, prayer and charity, between Thomas and the NT, it can’t be both. 


    Why not? Truths are always bipolar, so to speak.


    Your example actually only serves to illustrate, what I have been thinking all along: The Gospel of Thomas represents Jesus' more esoteric teachings, meant for initiates, as opposed to what he was telling the crowd.


    We can suppose that the apostles were advanced 'cultivators', well familiar with the benefits of fasting, prayer and charity. Yet there may be times when such practices become self-serving and it's best to ease off on them - in order to simply be than to constantly try to become.


    This is reminiscent of the zen story of a master watching a practitioner meditating in order to become a Buddha. He then started polishing a brick and, when asked by the meditating man what he was doing that for, replied that he was trying to turn the brick into a diamond!


    Much of what Jesus shared - especially in the Gospel of Thomas! - was that kind of 'zen teaching', seemingly paradoxical and easily misunderstood by his general audience. 




    55 Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be my disciple, and whoever does not hate brothers and sisters, and carry the cross as I do, will not be worthy of me."


    Mt 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

    Mt 10:37-38, Lk 14:26


    Wouldn’t you like to know which was the authentic text? So that following it you can brush up on hating your father and mother and brothers and sisters, or alternatively you can keep loving them but just love Jesus more. Knowing which came first, and was therefore closer to what Jesus actually said, would help in making that choice.


    While either suggestion may seem like sensible advice for certain situations :D, first off, I don't think Jesus was recommending to literally hate anybody. It could be a poor translation, or a purposeful exaggeration used by Jesus to make sure he gets the message across (alas, the texts tell us nothing about the kind of voice, facial expression and gestures that accompanied his words).


    Furthermore, the two statements are not contradicting each other, they only differ in pithiness. Either way, the message can be read as: "As long as you follow the ways of those around you [primarily], you will not be fit to follow your divine self [the inner Christ]."




    Well yes I‚Äôd take the Pali canon more seriously, and I‚Äôd go on my take on it first.¬†This¬†is an article regarding the Pali canon by an author who has the same intent in regards to Buddhism as I have in Christianity. He describes how in the second council 100 years after the Buddha dies the¬†Mahasangikas desired a more visionary and mystical ‚ÄėDharma‚Äô¬†practice that would establish the Buddha as a god and one of many Buddha-gods extending without limit to the past and future, as well as claiming¬†that the Buddha‚Äôs life as a human being was merely an apparition.¬†

    This revisionism seems to parallel the gnostic revisionism that was going on in Christianity, the original voice is overwritten by more visionary and mystical perspectives, and these seem to have a wide appeal. I’m not interested in these secondary voices, I’m only interested in the original voice.


    Whereas I believe that Gnosticism, in some of its many forms, was in fact the most faithful expression of Jesus' philosophy. In fact, it was at the very root of the latter.



    Yes but there’s a conspiracy theory for everything under the sun anyway. I have looked into this particular theory, maybe a year or so ago, and I wouldn’t waste my time in pursuing it any further.


    Nor was I suggesting that. I only brought this up to underline that we have so little hard evidence for what actually happened back then that there is no reason to reject the Gospel of Thomas on "historical" grounds.

  2. 13 hours ago, Bindi said:

    Similar¬†in its form as a collection of sayings of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death, not similar in content. Have you read ‚ÄúQ‚ÄĚ?¬†Here is a link.


    That's no more than one of over a dozen attempts to reconstruct "Q" from commonalities found in Luke and Matthew. For all we know, the actual "Q" was lost to posterity a very long time ago.


    The history of academic research into the origin of the canonical Gospels is rather involved. The most widely accepted theory today seems to be the so-called Two-Source Hypothesis, stating that Luke and Matthew are based on Mark as their "narrative source" and on that ever elusive "Q" as their "sayings source". But there are  proposals that suppose four and more sources as well.


    Since the Gospel of Thomas was found, the assumption that it constitutes at least one of the source texts also gained lots of support. Moreover, it revived interest in the question of the derivation of the Gospels in general.


    Personally, I do see many parallels between its contents and Jesus' teachings according to the New Testament. That said, I make no particular claims as to the exact role it may have played in the derivation of other Gospels.



    If you were talking about ‚ÄúQ‚ÄĚ I would happily agree.¬†


    Does that mean that, for you, the value of a metaphysical text stands and falls with its apparent "authenticity"? To me, such considerations are of academic interest, at best. What really matters is their intrinsic value for the cultivator today, regardless of their authorship.



    Jesus lost a lot of sleep over the Pharisees interpretation of the Law,¬†and the Buddha didn‚Äôt accept blending of myth and reality regarding his words, calling it slander if ‚ÄúOne who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata‚ÄĚ.¬†I don‚Äôt see why I need to blur the lines regarding their words.¬†


    Well, when it comes to Buddhism, only the Pali canon can seem relevant to you then! And even here you will be confronted with the fact that various schools have different takes on what texts are to be included, not to mention extant variant readings of particular passages.



    P.S. I’m not against you or anyone having gnostic beliefs, if that’s what does it for you good luck to you, what I’m against is saying these are the words of Jesus. 


    Gnosticism is an umbrella term. In my metaphysical search, I draw on many sources, some of which are indeed expressions of various kinds of Gnosticism.


    Please note that in my previous post, I referred to the Gospel of Thomas as "Jesus' words of wisdom" to differentiate it from a supposed source of information focussed on his life. Little can be said in the latter regard from a rigorous academic perspective, though. As you probably know, even the very existence of Jesus is sometimes being disputed today.


    Telling from the content of the Gospel of Thomas without a doubt these are the words of a Sage - timelessly true and relevant in my view. And I see no reason why we should not identify their author with the historical Jesus.

  3. 15 hours ago, dmattwads said:


    The same can be said for many books that actually made it into the Bible as well as many of the sutras. It's commonly recognized that many of these were not written by the author that claims authorship.


    And this would include the four Gospels that made it into the Bible! For that matter, the Gospel of Thomas is supposed to be identical with the elusive source text that the four "official" ones are based on by some researchers - or at least originated close to it.


    Personally, I doubt the former (i.e. more extreme) position, as the Gospel of Thomas does not offer any of the details about the life of Jesus and the people around him which the Biblical Gospels are so articulate on.


    Rather, it focusses on Jesus' words of wisdom and is on par with other foundational texts of that kind in my view, e.g., with the Dao De Jing and the Bhagavadgitta - regardless of who wrote it.


    15 hours ago, dmattwads said:

    This tends to be more of a problem in the Western mind than in the Eastern mind..


    Yes, the modern Western mind is very discerning in this regard. It goes without saying that it's often exceedingly difficult to tell what is historically true from what is not, and in some rather profound respects, it doesn't really matter anyway.


    Man needs myths and legends that resonate on an archetypical level. For a modern example, there are many who draw inspiration from the Star Wars saga, knowing full well that it's all imaginary to begin with. Since alot of people contributed to the narrative over the decades, certain inconsistencies occurred, so a cannon of films and books etc was officially acknowledged eventually... :lol: That's how far the parallels to religions go in this case!


    The blending of myth and reality is characteristic of metaphysical systems in general and would best be taken for granted by their representatives. It is really only the Fundamentalists that are losing sleep over the question in which part of the whale Jonah could most likely have survived as long as he did...

    • Like 2

  4. 18 hours ago, Bindi said:

    From the ¬†Wikipedia article¬†‚ÄúThe text's ‚Äė [gospel of Thomas]¬†authorship by¬†Thomas the Apostle¬†is rejected by modern scholars‚ÄĚ.¬†


    I am aware of that, note that I wrote "if". However, academic views are constantly changing and tend to represent "the most recent state of error", so I generally take them with a grain of salt.

  5. 5 minutes ago, dwai said:

    Apparently, Teresa was afraid of being persecuted, so she kept her book "Life" secret. The Catholic church only accepted her work 6 years after her death. Not all of them need have been persecuted, but enough were for there to be genuine fear of it. But as I wrote earlier, I've not particularly been interested in Christianity -- what I know is from contact with some scholarly friends. 

    This I have heard, but it seems the Western branch is the more popular/dominant branch. Even in India, though there is supposed to have been St. Thomas/his followers from when he was alive, Catholicism is most popular (I studied in a catholic school as a kid ;)).



    Is there actually a Church though that considers St. Thomas to be its founder?

  6. 15 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

    I think people use the word "science" to try to make it more acceptable to skeptics. But Buddhism is not really a science in my mind. We don't develop hypotheses on our own and design experiments to test them, controlling variables, relying on peer review and so forth. Rather, we are presented with a series of truths and a method to realize those truths (taking precepts, practicing meditation, etc.), but the ultimate goal is to be free and free from suffering. In this way, it is more like an art that is handed down from person. 


    Also, unlike science, Buddhism has a moral component that is essential. Science creates medicine and nuclear bombs. Buddhism is designed to create Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. 


    Finally, much of science relies on the idea of objectivity, whereas spiritual practice is necessarily subjective. 


    When you get to the Tibetan side, it get very magical. 



    I think it depends on your definition of what qualifies as 'science'. It is true that the term generally refers to a positivist approach to things ever since the so-called scientific revolution. On another forum, I once pissed off a university professor by telling her that I don't accept this modern definition. :lol:


    That being said, it applies rigorously only to natural science anyway. Humanities are quite a different animal.

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1

  7. 5 hours ago, steve said:


    From a Bön perspective (quite consistent with Buddhism and with which I'm most familiar), there are several ways or paths each of which has a unique perspective and paradigm - causal paths (shamanism would fit here best but overlaps with others), sutric, tantric, and dzogchen paths. Each has a unique view, practice, conduct, and fruition with unique characteristics. 


    Yes, but what are the differences between the Buddhist perspective and the Shamanistic perspective in your opinion?

    • Like 1

  8. On 17/01/2021 at 7:12 PM, steve said:


    I think there are fundamental and important differences between the world view of Buddhism and the world view of shamanism.


    Care to elaborate on this?


    On 17/01/2021 at 7:12 PM, steve said:

    Each can be used to understand the other, IMO. 

    Each are valid from their own perspective. 

    The two are merged in the Tibetan Bön tradition, one of the reasons I feel so strongly drawn to it. 

    For me, the scientific aspect of Buddhism is related to how we apply it to our own experience.

    We start with a hypothesis, the methods of Buddhism can ease our experience of suffering and lead to personal growth and liberation.

    We test that hypothesis by engaging in study and practice and observing the effects they have on our lives. 



    • Like 1

  9. 2 hours ago, Taomeow said:


    Necessary.  Uh-huh.  Two Chinese proverbs come to mind.  Locking the door when the thieves are already inside the house.  Locking the stable after the horse has escaped.  


    There isn't and has never been any scientific justification.  This kind of response was actually very seriously considered before, during the 1957-1958 H2N2 ("Asian flu") pandemic (4 million deaths), and found by all epidemiologists and virologists of the world counterproductive, unnecessary, and harmful (and therefore was never implemented) precisely for this reason: there was overwhelming scientific evidence that once the virus of this level of contagion is circulating in the population, it is 100% impossible to 1) stop it with these measures and 2) avoid much deadlier consequences of a lockdown due to a multitude of factors.  One might say that was backward science and now we have advanced science -- and one would be absolutely wrong.  It wasn't backward science.  It was real solid epidemiology rooted in historical and scientific facts, currently replaced by party lines and political/profiteering agendas.  Xi was the one who invented the lockdown.  Of course he had helpers, but ultimately it was his decision and no one else's.  The WHO followed his lead, not vice versa.  He is not a scientist and not an epidemiologist.  






    What are the sources of your information regarding the experts' response during previous pandemics?


    Would you happen to have some links to share?

    • Like 1

  10. 57 minutes ago, themiddleway said:

    Some of you may have seen this animation do the rounds from the FT,  

    and explanation below why its misleading,  'if you torture the data long enough...'




    Excellent question! How many influenza cases have been diagnosed as such in the past? As compared to covid-19 cases at present?


    How many of the flu infected even consulted a doctor AND were given the correct diagnosis?


    Very interesting! Thanks.

  11. 22 hours ago, Bindi said:



    Vaccine rumours debunked: Microchips, 'altered DNA' and more.


    'Altered DNA' claims

    The fear that a vaccine will somehow change your DNA is one we've seen aired regularly on social media.

    The BBC asked three independent scientists about this. They said that the coronavirus vaccine would not alter human DNA.



    Please note that I was specifically referring to DNA vaccines (not to mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine), several of which are currently in the clinical testing phase for use as a prophylactic against covid-19. In the case of DNA vaccines, it indeed cannot be ruled out that the foreign DNA locally alters the genome, as numerous researchers wrote in peer reviewed journals in recent years. This could, for instance, lead to the activation of oncogenes or deactivation of anticarcinogenic sequences, causing cancer tumors to develop years later. Such local alterations are extremely hard to identify and will most likely show themselves only by the outbreak of the disease they triggered.






    Very similar concerns have been raised regarding viral vector vaccines (especially DNA viruses). The Oxford-AstraSeneca vaccine belongs into that latter category, as it's based on a genetically modified chimpanzee  adenovirus. That kind of vaccine comes with similar long-term risks like aforementioned DNA vaccines due to its integration into the cell nucleus before the body would start producing the desired antigens. See Patric U. B. Vogel: COVID-19 - Suche nach einem Impfstoff, Springer Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Wiesbaden, p. 24.


    Note that no less than 2.4 billion doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been preordered worldwide already by october 2020 (when it was still in the testing phase) and that its clinical application began about a week ago in the UK.

  12. On 9.1.2021 at 2:18 AM, dmattwads said:

    What is it?


    First, you will have to find an affirmation that expresses your goal to have more money in your life. Use the present tense and phrase it using the three personal pronouns, as in:


    I, dmattwads, blah blah blah

    You, dmattwads, ...

    He, dmattwads, ...


    I could suggest one, but I prefer you create one that works for you yourself.

  13. 24 minutes ago, dmattwads said:


    No I don't think that's it. Sour grapes isn't really my style.


    Would you like to try an exercise involving writing that might help you identify the beliefs that keep you from getting money?

  14. 19 hours ago, dmattwads said:

    To be honest I'm not really sure why I feel the way I do about money.





    It could also be that you depreciate money because you harbour a negative belief that you can never get much of it anyway.


    Sour grapes, you know.

  15. 2 hours ago, dmattwads said:


    That part I get. What I don't get is why knowing that it is important why I don't like the topic nevertheless.


    Well, figuring out what you don't like about money would be an important step towards changing your attitude regarding it - hence towards attracting it more easily!


    Here are a few possibilities:


    Do you believe that wealth inevitably corrupts one's character?


    Do you feel that material gain would make you a less spiritual person?


    Or simply that it would make your life more complicated?

    • Thanks 1

  16. 36 minutes ago, dmattwads said:


    Well I do know that one of the reasons I was reluctant to begin this topic is because I hate the topic of money. I don't know why, but I do. But I am also getting tired of not having enough either.


    Then it's time to take a deeper look into the various ways having money would benefit you and those you care for, I'd say.

    • Like 1

  17. 7 minutes ago, dmattwads said:


    I'm not only responding to you but clearing a few more general assumptions in general with out getting to specific and personal. I actually have very few wants. I live in a simple but comfortable small apartment, drive a clean and reliable economy car, have enough to eat, and live in a safe area all of which I am grateful for. 


    On the other hand while I have a skill and work long and hard I've noticed that no matter where I live, or what I do, I always never have enough. I don't spend lavishly at all, but just to survive I am going further into debt and this is just to buy food and necessities. If I make more, then suddenly more unexpected bills materialize to bring me back to the not making quite enough balance. I have for various reasons beyond my control several large expenses that are beyond my means to keep up with.


    I assume this is my karma as I have with similar situations in the past that were the same no matter where I was nor what I did. In the past I focused on different aspects of karma and I saw these areas of my life gradually improve but now I am at a place in my life where money is the issue.


    I just feel in general that if I ever do ask advice about money I am told the usual advice that I already know and do. I live simply, I have very little and am content with such. What I am dealing with now is not greed, but survival. I was hoping someone had been down this route and knew of the behind the scenes doings of these things. 


    The term 'karma' simply means 'action'. It originally referred to the kind of magical ritual the brahmins were engaging in to make sure the ruler would be successful with his endeavours. Later its meaning was extended to include the "mind seeds" that one is planting in general.


    That implies that the causes of our success or lack thereof lie in ourselves. There is no cosmic authority that judges us and rewards or punishes us accordingly.


    True that each individual is born with a set of psychological traits that predispose them to creating certain situations. These have to do with the lessons we are supposed to learn in a given incarnation.


    The foremost lesson to unterstand is that we are creators in the flesh. Our physical experience always reflects our beliefs and expectations. There is no other rule.


    Even people cursing us have no power over us other than the influence we allow them to have. Again, that ties in with our beliefs.


    Magical charms do nothing by themselves. But they may help to keep us focussed on the results we wish to achieve. In a manner of speaking, they serve as a reminder to our inner self. But whether we employ them or not, it is the messages that we send to ourselves that make all the difference.


    If your dad told you that you will never have success in life and you bought that, then it is this negative belief about yourself that you first need to change.


    If you believe that you don't deserve much because of what you have done in this or a former life, or because it would be unfair to those who have less than you, then your circumstances will surely reflect that belief.


    If you long for a richer life in financial terms, yet you think that there is some kind of spiritual merit in living with no more than what you need for your bare survival, then it is again your attitude that you need to reconsider.


    Use visualization and affirmation to help you alter your beliefs and create new expectations on a profound level in a meditative state. More specific instructions can be provided on request.


    Again: Your only limitations are those that you impose upon yourself. You create your own reality.



    • Like 1

  18. 19 minutes ago, anshino23 said:


    Do you mean mRNA based vaccines? Those are the new types such as the one's marketed in the US by both Pfizer and Moderna that have never been used or investigated before outside of cancer research. There's a good overview of the different types in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html


    I agree with you that we can't know the long-term consequences for either type though. With mRNA vaccines I would be concerned with possible immune system or epigenetic effects. 


    No, I meant the DNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 that are currently under development.




    Those are the ones that could potentially alter the DNA sequence per se according to medical research.


    Auto-immune reactions are probably a concern with either type.

    • Thanks 2