Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Relating the Eastern and Western Traditions in America

The corresponding video can be viewed at:

5/6/2011 11:45 am (et) Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 11:45 am (et).
5/6/2011 11:52 am (et) Susan: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 11:52 am (et).
5/6/2011 11:54 am (et) DC Rao: logs in on 5/6/2011 11:54 am (et).
5/6/2011 12:02 pm (et) RevMark2U: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:02 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:03 pm (et) Moderator: Welcome! This is Rebecca from the InterFaith Conference (IFC) and I will be your moderator. As this is still new, let me explain how this will work. On the right, you will see a video playing of our current topic to get the conversation going. If you have a comment and/or question send it along to me, the moderator. As long as I deem it appropriate, the comment will be posted to everyone and the speaker will have the opportunity to answer your question.
5/6/2011 12:03 pm (et) Moderator: Today, our topic is ‘Relating the Eastern and Western Traditions in America’ with Jerry Krell, President of Auteur Productions and filmmaker (‘The Asian and Abrahamic Religions: A Divine Encounter in America’) offering a reflection and standing by. More information and the documentaries are available at and We also have DC Rao, a Hindu member of IFC’s board, present.
5/6/2011 12:03 pm (et) Jerry Krell: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:03 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:03 pm (et) Moderator: As always, I would like to remind you of the rules of our engagement. This is a respectful place where we come together to learn more about the religions of the world. Whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions that are posed in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks, they will not be posted. Also, this is a place of learning, so please refrain from ‘soapboxing.’ If there are any issues or questions about this, they can be submitted along with the comments pertaining to our topic. I am here to make this a pleasant and educational experience for all, so enjoy and remember there are no stupid questions, just hostile ones!
5/6/2011 12:04 pm (et) Moderator: You can now view the beginning comments and the trailer for the film on the right. As you listen, please feel free to start sending questions or comments (YES, we want your comments). Also, the video will remain within the sidebar, so feel free to return to it as you wish. Our chat window automatically refreshes to keep the flow going, but if you wish to view the whole of the conversation, just hit the archive button. And lastly, PLEASE do not use double quotes as it led to some issues.
5/6/2011 12:08 pm (et) NORMAN: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:08 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:08 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I wish there were a Christian minister or Catholic priest present, because one question I have is: why are the Asian religions a mystery to many members of your churches?
5/6/2011 12:09 pm (et) interfaith1017: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:09 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:10 pm (et) DC Rao: in the Hindu tradition there is a saying that ignorance is beginningless. it ends when we gain knowledge. so peole do not know about asian religinos until osme ffort is made to teach themabout it!
5/6/2011 12:10 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: As a Catholic, I would say just because it is so different. I mean some of the beliefs are almost exactly contrary to our own, meaning the difference between liberation and salvation.
5/6/2011 12:11 pm (et) DC Rao: i am not sure i know the difference between liberation and salvation
5/6/2011 12:11 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: It is almost easier to relate to other Abrahamic traditions because we can point to common beliefs and shard scripture.
5/6/2011 12:12 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Please correct me if I get this wrong, but liberation is about shedding ties to the world and others while salvation is about entering in a relationship.
5/6/2011 12:15 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: DC, is this a correct interpretation of the goals of some of the Asian traditions?
5/6/2011 12:16 pm (et) DC Rao: when i enter into a relationship with God, it helps me ranscend the sorrows that inevitably come with human relationships and also makes more meaningful my engagement in the world.
5/6/2011 12:16 pm (et) DC Rao: read transcend, not rescend
5/6/2011 12:17 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: OK, perhaps the issues arise then in the non-theistic traditions then, like some forms of Buddhism.
5/6/2011 12:17 pm (et) DC Rao: is there a buddhist present?
5/6/2011 12:18 pm (et) maynardm: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:18 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:18 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U: I am intrigued by the neuroscience of it these days, Andrew Newberg and others. There do seem to be two distinctly different spiritual experiences. One is of a "presence," of a "Thou," with which/whom one can enter a relationship. The other is of a falling away of ego-boundaries, a liberation from the usual confines and definitions of our "selves." The first tends to be "theistic," the second tends to be "non-theistic," but it all gets more fluid than this, too.
5/6/2011 12:19 pm (et) DC Rao: Susan, what does entering a relationship mean to you as a Catholic?
5/6/2011 12:19 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: What intrigues me about Hinduism, so-called, is the room it gives for both of these experiences, from Bakhti yoga to Vedanta.
5/6/2011 12:20 pm (et) DC Rao: Hindu sages long ago recognised that peole are different: some lng for a personal relatinship; some are comforatble with seeking understanding.
5/6/2011 12:21 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: It does not sound dissimilar to what you described. A relationship with God enriches my own experience of the world by paying tribute to the One 'in charge'
5/6/2011 12:21 pm (et) Hengist: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:21 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:22 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Perhaps that is also part of why it is so different? Christianity does not always allow for such disagreements among its adherents, I mean to the extent that one is non-theist or theist.
5/6/2011 12:22 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: In making the film, what did the interactions among the two trends look like Jerry?
5/6/2011 12:22 pm (et) DC Rao: for us, the One is more than being 'in charge'. the supreme is the source of all that i am. ll
5/6/2011 12:23 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Yes DC, I must agree, I guess I was trying to take a shortcut with that one...
5/6/2011 12:24 pm (et) Clarkifc: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/6/2011 12:24 pm (et).
5/6/2011 12:24 pm (et) DC Rao: Mark, if i believe in a Supreme Being that is without form, am i theist or non-theist?
5/6/2011 12:25 pm (et) DC Rao: Susan, we all take short cuts. sometimes they work, sometimes not!
5/6/2011 12:26 pm (et) Jerry Krell: I defer to DC our film consultant in regards to susan's question to me
5/6/2011 12:26 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: There are Christians these days, however, who do allow that sort of inclusiveness. I think of John B. Cobb, Jr. and other dialoguers. So I wonder why that hasn't spread? What's the
5/6/2011 12:26 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: >DC: Excellent question, and one that I've churned for a long time!
5/6/2011 12:27 pm (et) DC Rao: re Susan's question, one must let the viewer be the judge of that!
5/6/2011 12:28 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: But what was it about I guess daily interactions that led you to wanting to make the film?
5/6/2011 12:28 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: What if all of these ways of looking at the Divine
are valid? If the Divine is within, without, the partner in all of our doings, a loving but firm parent, an environment in which we learn to function, a collection of ideals. Is light a wave or a particle? What is the consequence of having assumed validity of multiple views of the Divine, which, according to our logic, are mutually exclusive.

5/6/2011 12:28 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: There are some who say that the Emptiness or Creative Void of the Buddhists functions very much like a God functions for theists, even though the content, the substance is very different.
5/6/2011 12:29 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I could be down with that, Hengist.
5/6/2011 12:29 pm (et) DC Rao: as a Hindu, i believe that the Supreme Being is all powerful i.e. can choose to be with form or without!
5/6/2011 12:30 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: It all depends on how you set up the experiment, so to speak.
5/6/2011 12:31 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I myself simply have no experience of such a Thou, of a Supreme Being. As one philosopher said, 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.'
5/6/2011 12:31 pm (et) DC Rao: the notion that if your veiw is different from mine and i accept it, i must reject what i believe, is a major stumbling block to meaningful dialogue between religions.
5/6/2011 12:31 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: I think that all of our supreme Being imagery seems to exclude any form of logical limits.
5/6/2011 12:32 pm (et) DC Rao: our scriptures say that the supreme being is 'beyond the reach of thought' and certainly beyond the rech of words.
5/6/2011 12:34 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Our Scriptures and tradition for that matter point to the same.
5/6/2011 12:34 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: However, I guess that doesn't stop many from making exclusivist claims.
5/6/2011 12:34 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: What if the Supreme Being is beyond existence? If the Supreme Being caused 'being' to be possible.
5/6/2011 12:35 pm (et) DC Rao: while we find difficulty in experiencing the Divine, we all certainly can experience our own existence. Hindu philosophy uses that as a spring board to experience the divine within us.
5/6/2011 12:35 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: There being no scripture with supernatural origin for me, I can only speak from my experience.
5/6/2011 12:36 pm (et) DC Rao: what i wonder is why exclusivist claims have such attraction.
5/6/2011 12:36 pm (et) Moderator: maynardm said: beyond the reach of thought and words is certainly consistent with the Juddaic sense and implicit in the Christian affirmation. It is very explicit in the Psalms.
5/6/2011 12:37 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: But just because we can't say everything about the Supreme Being, can't we say something? That is the point of Scripture and Jesus in the Christian tradition. However, if that is what we know, the differences are more difficult to make sense of
5/6/2011 12:37 pm (et) DC Rao: so here is something we can all celebrate! then why so much argument??
5/6/2011 12:38 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: i think that is a slight answer to your question DC. We hold on so tightly to what we do know.
5/6/2011 12:38 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: In the final analysis, experience is all that any of us really has, whether that of senses, feelings, rational evaluation, etc.
5/6/2011 12:38 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: While it was a quarter step in the right direction, I was very bothered by one aspect
5/6/2011 12:38 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Way too much it relied on Christian clergy explicating Buddhism.
5/6/2011 12:39 pm (et) Moderator: maynardm said: in my expewrience the exclusivist claim is made by those who need certainty, those who cannot accept the indeterminancy of existence.
5/6/2011 12:39 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Also explaining Hinduism and Sikhism, although a better job was done with Sikhs explaining Sikhism. So that much was good.
5/6/2011 12:39 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: We argue because humans have a need to define boundaries, set limits, assess the circumstances of interaction, which makes the idea of trying to
define something which is limitless somewhat fantastic.

5/6/2011 12:40 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I completely agree with Hengist, and setting boundaries may not be the issue but the problem is trying to make those boundaries impervious by making a buffer zone, so the traditions begin to push on one another.
5/6/2011 12:41 pm (et) DC Rao: part of the Jain philosophy is the belief that there are ALWAYS many viewpoints and no one of them should be taken as exclusively true.
5/6/2011 12:41 pm (et) Moderator: Clarkifc said: Jerry, what were the suprises in doing this film?
5/6/2011 12:41 pm (et) DC Rao: The Vedas say 'truth is one, the WISE know it by manynames.
5/6/2011 12:42 pm (et) DC Rao: jerry, are you responding to Mark's comment? re
5/6/2011 12:45 pm (et) DC Rao: Keep in mind the audience to which this documentary is addressed: those Americans who know little or nothing about the eastern religions. People find statements more credible when they are made by someone they know or have reason to trust i.e. people somewhat like themselves. So when a Jewish Rabbi says that the Hindu practice of worshipping
images of deities is no way similar to the practice of idol worship condemned in the Jewish scriptures, or that Sikhism is definitely a religion of the Book, people are more inclined to
understand and accept these facts.

5/6/2011 12:48 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I still would wish for a Buddhist or a Hindu to make a statement. Then let the rabbi or minister ask a question of clarification, and then perhaps make a statement to fellow Jews or Christians or Muslims. Then let the Buddhist or Hindu or Jain respond. Dialogue!
5/6/2011 12:48 pm (et) Jerry Krell: The doc serves as a catalyst for dialgoue and I am always pleasently surprised at the direction, and the new insights that emenate from that dialogue. As witnessed by todays conversation..
5/6/2011 12:49 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I think that 'coddling,' if I may call it such, is a HUGE part of the problem and part of why Christians are so ignorant of the Asian religions.
5/6/2011 12:50 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I guess, but at the same time you have to meet people where they are or you get through to no one.
5/6/2011 12:50 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: What if it should prove that the scriptures and principal statements of any religion prove to offer new insights when looked at from another belief system's point of view. Different visions through different glasses, as it were. Then such insight might then prove valuable to that belief groups adherents.
5/6/2011 12:50 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: My 'coddling' remark was a follow up to my previous remark, not a response to Jerry.
5/6/2011 12:51 pm (et) DC Rao: Mark, i think Susan has a good point. we have to deal with the situation as we find it.
5/6/2011 12:51 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: My proposed strategy would, I think, meet people where they are at.
5/6/2011 12:52 pm (et) Moderator: So that comment came in right before your response DC, and I was just slow to approve it.
5/6/2011 12:52 pm (et) DC Rao: re Hengist: i have a Catholic who studies the Bhagavad Gita with me weekly for some years, and that has led her to being a better Catholic and she has enrolled for a masters in pastoral counselling.
5/6/2011 12:52 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: So where are people at and where is the meeting place?
5/6/2011 12:53 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: That was to Mark.
5/6/2011 12:53 pm (et) DC Rao: we can only deal with people who are willing to learn and help make it easy for them to do so
5/6/2011 12:54 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Good question, Susan. Are people 'at' scared about this? Or something else?
5/6/2011 12:55 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Well, usually different does equal scared...which is unfortunate.
5/6/2011 12:55 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: Can we convince people that not to experience the point of view of other belief systems is to really miss something valuable, in an existential sense?
5/6/2011 12:55 pm (et) DC Rao: Susan, you hve jsut quoted an Upanishad that says: where we see difference, there is fear.
5/6/2011 12:56 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Susan & DC, that's limbic brain or alligator brain talking. And I agree it's there.
5/6/2011 12:57 pm (et) Moderator: Ok All, it is again that time of the week where we must say good-bye, so any final thoughts, please get them down.
5/6/2011 12:57 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: When we see difference, then we are near....
5/6/2011 12:57 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: So, as to 'where people can meet,' how do we help them and ourselves to activate the prefrontal cortex, the over-riders of the limbic, scared brain?
5/6/2011 12:57 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: And whose job is that with each tradition?
5/6/2011 12:58 pm (et) DC Rao: unfortunately, somereligous teaching reinforces the fear. how can we work to change that?
5/6/2011 12:58 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Yes, right on, DC
5/6/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: It's a good, incomplete place to end, begging for more....
5/6/2011 1:00 pm (et) DC Rao: this dialogue ahs shown that we have more to share than we know
5/6/2011 1:00 pm (et) Jerry Krell: Dc's quote" Where there is difference there is fear. Another strong motivation for making the doc. To help people to confront prejudice and stereotypes and learn to understatnd and respect one another!
5/6/2011 1:01 pm (et) Hengist: private message to Moderator: logs off on 5/6/2011 1:01 pm (et).
5/6/2011 1:03 pm (et) Moderator: Thank you for your participation today. If you would like to reach our speaker, please contact me at We hope to see you back here next week. Next week, we will hear from Tom Wolfe on ‘Ten Steps of Relations Among Religions: What Should We Aim For?’ Stay tuned for the schedule for the next few months which will be posted on IFC’s website ( by the end of the week!
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