Archive for the ‘Chinese Traditional Religion’ Category

如何與神建立關係?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

聖經教導我們上帝創造萬有,這包括人類在內。上帝是完全與美好的,但人類並不是這樣。神創造人類為一個有選擇自由的道德個體,有能力選擇善或惡。聖經為上帝神聖的書卷,籍着它神啓示我們人如何犯了罪,並虧缺了神的榮耀。

若我要列舉聖經中的一些誡命,它們全都是律法背後的道德基礎,而所有人於某程度上都違反了神的律法。罪是指冒犯了神或他人,無論是敬拜別神,妄稱上帝的名字,或更廣泛的層面是指未能全心全意去愛神。接著的誡命提到不孝敬父母;不可殺人,而憎恨卻等同殺人;不可姦淫,而看著別人便動了淫念的也是犯了姦淫;不可偷盜;不可作假見證陷害別人;不可貪戀別人的財物或房子,這都牽涉到錯誤的慾念和動機。

違反神的誡命導致我們遠離神,甚至與祂永遠隔絕。換句話說,我們變成失落的一群,與神分離,因為神是聖潔的,不能與有罪的共處。罪帶來神的憤怒與審判,不單限於今生,也包括在永恆裡。聖經形容那審判的地方有永不熄滅的火和極大的痛苦。

這情況看似叫人無望,但有一個好信息,就是神差派了彌賽亞來,而祂是無罪的。  祂的職責就是在神面前為人代求,並透過以自己的生命來換取我們的生命,好滿足神公義的要求。

祂不單只為人捨命以換取人神之間的和好,祂更從死裡復活,而現今正等待着信靠祂的人。因此當我們進到死亡,肉身雖死了,但靈魂卻是與主同在,這就是聖經所講的永生。

從而得知,透過真心的悔改並接受耶穌成為我們的救主,認定祂可除去罪孽,並使我們與神和好,這包括接受神為我們的主,從今開始甘心樂意的事奉主。

當我們這樣接受耶穌,祂會讓我們得嘗天堂的滋味,叫聖靈內住在信祂的人,並指教我們如何為主而活。

在這個信仰的歷程,下一步就是水禮或是浸禮, 而後者又被看爲如同在水中的葬禮。這行動象徵着重生,紀念主在我們生命中的作工。透過這個行動去表明並承認,因着靈裡面的轉化而成為一個新人。

整個過程看似簡單,但如何應用卻值得深思。主耶穌正邀請你︰「凡勞苦擔重擔的人可以到我 這裡來,我就使你們得安息 。我心裡柔和謙卑,你們當負我的軛,學我的樣式;這樣,你們心裡 就必得享安息。」

我的朋友,若你今天聽見主呼召你,請你不要硬着心,卻要把你的生命交給這個關顧你心靈的牧者。祂愛你並賜給你出人意外的平安,還有一份不能言喻的喜樂。這並不是說你生命從始會一帆風順,但祂保證不會撇下或掉棄你.

結束之時,我想鼓勵你向神祈禱,求神以一個真確實在的方法向你啓示祂自己,以至你能信靠祂。若你帶着真摯誠實的心,你必不會失望,因主曾用比喻鼓勵我們要嘗嘗主恩的滋味,便知道祂是美善的。啊們!

 

 

其他連結

我信耶穌的見證

How to know God

我信耶穌的見證

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

你好!我叫羅伯特,是來自美國的德州,我想跟你分享一些關於我的事情.。我喜歡先分享我信耶穌的見證,因這對我來說是很重要的。若在二十年前,我心靈經歷過一段很空虛的時期。當我信耶穌後,祂使我得著完全的滿足,現在我擁有更多愛、喜樂與平安,這一切都超過這個世界曾給予過我的。神就是我的摯愛與生命。

若我沒有這樣一個切實的經歷,我老早便往別的地方尋找信仰。我生命之所以有如此的改變,是因我與耶穌建立了一種個人關係,而這是超越宗教與哲學的範疇。這是十分真確和實在的。在我信仰的歷程上,當我來到一個決定性的關口,神徹底地改變了我,突然間我所行、所想與所信都不再一樣。我變得不同了,眾人也察覺到我的轉變。我是重生了,而我知道「重生」並不是一個宗教術語。我在基督裡成了一個新人。我生命中的各種轉變,有些是漸進的,有些卻是立時的。我生命中有些難處,靠著我自己的能力是無法勝過的,但神卻從中釋放了我。耶穌給予我力量勝過很多不同的罪惡,這包括煙癮、淫亂等種種行為。與此同時,我妻子退化的腎和兒子的哮喘也得着醫治。若果我能給予你的只是一點意見,我絶不會浪費你的時間來閲讀我的見證。

你可能說我不會相信你,或者你想我的態度是誠懇但卻是搞錯了。無論如何,我只想請你誠實並真摯地求主向你啓示耶穌的真實。感謝你花時間來閱讀,我祈禱神會豐豐富富地透過這分享來祝福你。

 

 

其他連結

如何與神建立關係?

jesusandjews.com/wordpress/my-personal-testimony-with-jesus/

Chinese Religion Resources

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Four Spiritual Laws

 

 

Jesus Film

 

 

New Testament/Bible

 

 

Audio Bible

Chinese Folk Religion

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Chinese Folk or Traditional Religion is made up of the elements of animism, polytheism and shamanism. Moreover adding to its religious diversity are the beliefs of Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoist thought of which I have previously written about in other posts.

Buddhism

Confucianism

Taoism

Quanzhen

Regarding this system it has been passed down through ancient societal traditions which has been preserved through the vehicle of experience by various cultural practices as incorporating rituals, ceremonies and holidays or festivals that center on such entities as ancestors, hungry ghosts, demons, gods or spirits, saints, etc. Some of these religious experiences include devotional worship or veneration at shenist temples also called joss houses or deity houses as well as ancestral halls and home alters. Other matters include the reenactment of sacred myths, funeral rites, geomancy or feng-shui, burning incense, offerings, pilgrimages, prayers, vows, home alters, recognition of sacred objects, etc., etc.

Anyway I appreciate the spirituality of my Chinese friends as they are at least sensitive to the metaphysical realm but what I question is their ability to rightly discern this spiritual phenomenon as reality. Thus this post is not meant to insult their intelligence or demean their character as they are some of the most powerful, influential and cordial individuals that I have ever met through my various international contacts and I have a great respect for these people even though I  challenge their religious world view as being valid as an absolute truth.  Additionally these dear and precious people are preserving their interdependent spirit through these religious views as a means of maintaining membership within their society and community in respect to a loyalty towards its specific identity and uniqueness. This solidarity of belief I think has been personified through their religious expressions which carries quite a large influence yet lacks the global impact as limited through their regional views apart from a fully corporate; universal and worldwide application which excludes other foreign cultures which is counterintuitive to their concept of a ‘universal god’. However Christianity relieves this tension stating that God so loved the world in reaching out to every tribe, tongue and nation as evidenced by a global church which makes up about 10% of the great nation of China.

Anyway one of the difficulties of this religion is that it contains primitive mythological language with its obvious and deliberately exaggerated stories of folklore that may to some degree have actually have been centered on certain real events and people which over time was embellished through the unreliable process of oral traditions. This is a common occurrence among religions to elevate their heroes to the stature of greatness or godhood as changing their story over the process of time. This reminds me of the Greek mythological characters of which modern day individuals don’t take seriously. Also we can see evidence of this in Asiatic culture such as within Buddhism in which traditional orthodox beliefs were originally atheistic or at best agnostic yet Buddhists often extoll the Buddha as a god. Next there are such characters as the Baxian or the Eight Immortals who were deified after their death and Cheng Huang or the city gods who are protective deities thought to be famous or noble persons who again were deified after their death and who look after the fortunes of the city as well as judging the dead. Furthermore we recognize this in various Eastern cultures with the vast array of charismatic teachers, gurus, yogis, masters  who are honored in giving rise to various cults as solidifying a dependency from their devotees which often lead to the delusional and fantastical beliefs about their spiritual leader. This kind of reverence or honor is also found among the Chinese who have a spiritual master that teaches developmental techniques of cultivating long life and health through breathing techniques, dietetics, gymnastics an sexual techniques with such body and mind practices as to produce supra normal powers and eventually obtaining salvation as an immortal. It is easy to identify how that these individuals can get so wrapped in a personality’s success as they are given a rock star status as a deva even though essentially they are mere men who are subjected to the same weaknesses, failures and the base functions of life just like everyone else.

Which is a segue to my next point in giving examples of these cultural views which coincides with these fictitious beliefs such as the worship or veneration of legendary beings or persons such as the shens which make up a pantheon of various gods/goddesses/spirits who serve at every level or dimension of society in respect to nature (earth), nation, localities or territories and cities as including cultural heroes and demigods, dragons, ancestors, saints and immortals. I am including a partial list of just some of the names of the characters and their roles. These are similar to the unfounded beliefs about the protective and prosperous powers found in the kami of Shintoism and the saints within Catholicism in which there is this same sort of pattern among deifying mere mortals or imaginary characters:

  • First and foremost is the chief or head deity known as Yuhuang or the Jade Emperor who is commonly called Heaven.
  • Pangu is said to be a creator god who is like a primitive hairy giant with horns on his head and clad in furs. Pangu supposedly separated the Yin from the Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the earth and sky which sounds a bit like the Paul Bunyan folk tale that we have here in the US.
  • Guan Yu or Guandi/Guan Gong has influence over the policemen, war, fortune and law as well as showing forgiveness
  • Caishen oversees the gaining and distribution of wealth through fortune.
  • Shoushen stands for a healthy and long life.
  • Fushen symbolizes happiness and joy.
  • Lushen is a god of success in work and life.
  • Huye is a guardian spirit.
  • Mazu is the patroness and goddess of sailors or boatmen.
  • Tudi Gong protects local places such as hills and is associated with wealth as related to minerals and buried treasure.
  • Wenchangdi is the god of student scholars and examinations.
  • Xi Wangmu is considered to be the mother of the Jade emperor and who is said to reign over the paradisiacal mountain and who has the power to make others immortal
  • Yuexia Laoren is a matchmaker who pairs couples.
  • Songzi  Niangniang or Zhusheng Niangniang is the fertility goddess and is worshipped by people who want children or who want their child to be a boy.
  • There are such characters as Zaoshen or Zao Jun  who is said to be the god of the kitchen or lord of the cooking stove and is the spirit overseer of the household as contributing towards a persons life span and longevity. He reports to heaven on the behavior of the family of the house once a year during the Chinese New Year, and is given either sticky rice to render him speech less or honey to sweeten his report. This involves taking the paper icon from above the stove and burning it as sending the message of a smoke signal to heaven. This is followed by a thorough cleaning of the house in which everyone is on their best behavior during the inspection from the celestial deities.
  • Then there is the legend of the weaving maid and the cowherd which this celestial couple can only meet on one night of the year when magpies supposedly form a bridge across the Celestial River or Milky Way. On this day she receives special sacrifices because she is considered a protector of the children.
  • Lastly there is Mulian who is supposedly a monk who visited hell to save his sinful mother as well as other sinful souls.

Anyway these make believe stories have supported the superstitious beliefs within Chinese culture which are much like the Western childhood stories such as the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Furthermore it seems to be a human tendency to gravitate in seeking or worshipping something which often times turns towards the materialistic realm to find a tangible means to identity with an object that is touchable and thus religion wrongfully focuses on the physicality of icons, statues, shrines, amulets, talisman or charms as looking towards a reality in this symbolism which is no more authentic than the fanciful imagination of artists, poets and religious zealots.

These personages may all serve as being practical and purposeful but it does not necessarily correlate with reality as seeing these idols as a lucky charm in meeting the felt needs in attempting to solve the problems of society to somehow manipulate them in order to have a more peaceable and prosperous existence. This may be a way to help control their normal day to day activities in meeting the demands or challenges and desires by making offerings to them or holding beliefs related to their existence however by so doing they have made a god after their own image and likeness which does not facilitate truth except to say that this is what they want to be true. Therfore personal desires do not enter into having a direct correspondence with veracity in that god transcendently exists beyond our personal whims. Perhaps this is an attempt to merge the material and immaterial; the spiritual and natural categories nonetheless this does not guarantee its surety and therefore this application has no real or significant explanatory power and thus misleading.

In regards to the concept of past events many of these stories were developed to help explain unknown natural occurrences giving leeway to the establishment of its unfounded mystical storytelling which has no firm basis for objective truth but rather is established on superstitious beliefs of imagination which carries a strong psychological factor of influence. This is much like the fabled wives tales which were perhaps somehow developed over some sort of coincidental event which caused others to form such ideas that are not factual yet was a means to help alleviate the insecure tension as controlling the unknown or by the mere fascination that comes with mystery and intrigue. This is also a part of modern American culture as people often avoid crossing the path of a black cat or refrain from walking under ladders or breaking a mirror which is said to bring bad luck. These matters are considered as cultural taboos but have no real basis for reality apart from the fearful motivation through the power of suggestion.

Some other superstitious actions within Chinese traditional religion include such things as using firecrackers or bonfires to scare off demons. Offerings and prayers made to deities upon their return from their annual furlough in bringing them good fortune for the New Year. Other actions include eating certain foods for good luck as well as lively colored boat racing to ward off evil spirits and disease. The giving of spirit money to help buy luxuries for their deceased loved ones. As well as how one arranges the furniture in their house.

Other examples is the consumption of strong yellow wine along with a package of calamus, mugwort and banian branches wrapped in lucky red paper and suspended above the gate; colored threads tied around the wrists of children with bags of incense which are hung around the neck to ward off disease causing spirits.

The giving of generous offerings to the Hungry Ghosts which is like a Chinese form of Halloween and includes offering incense sticks, special burial clothes and burning silver paper also known as spirit money. At gateways lamps are hung in which auspicious words are written as well as inviting these Hungry Ghosts to a feeding frenzy by means of a feast where they can eat their fill, even though the food offerings remain untouched, which is said to bring them merit through this religious service.

Then there is Pudu who is said to assist all souls to cross over to the other side of salvation.  Altars are erected and sacrifices offered to poor souls, lanterns are hung from tall beacon posts and pennants are used to guide the spirits to the ritual places; paper and bamboo rafts take candles or small lamps on the waters to help attract the attention of the souls of the drowned. Then on the last day of the month the spirits must return to the subterranean world and the gates are closed for yet another eleven months.

In summary they may succeed through these superstitions to preserve historical traditions, cultural standards, national heritage, societal stability, domestic and generational continuity yet fail to authenticate it as a justifiable system towards reality. There are perhaps Chinese people who don’t take these matters seriously but nonetheless are affectionately and sentimentally attached to these ideologies because of childhood memories and experiences which are near to their hearts which is like some of the celebrations of American society which only has meaning as a cultural event that is centered around family values therefore having no sense of reality.

Also what is controversial about these various beliefs is their dark background as associating with occultist practices as including astrology, spirit mediums, divinations, spirit writing, magicians and healers, dreams, consulting dead ancestors and animals which is proven to be no more effectual than the editorial additions of marketing horoscopes in the local newspapers as generalizing and diagnosing a situation.

Now some of the theological problems center around the subject of death and the afterlife which coincide either with the care given to the deceased or the manner in which one died. The former relates to filial duty and respect on whether or not the corpse was adequately taken care of, with proper provisions for burial and memorial services including the continuance of grave maintenance as well as the sufficient sacrificial nourishment by their patrilineal descendants which is like the ancient Egyptian beliefs in making provision and bringing comfort to their ancestors in the afterlife. If their ancestors are negligible in lacking the proper rituals or if it involves the latter scenario of sustaining a bad or abnormal death the end result would be that these family members will suffer as ghosts and demons even though it is beyond their control in either case. Ironically these catastrophic consequences could offset their personal actions as attempting to gain merit throughout their life only to be annulled by the haphazard neglect of their family members.

This also gives rise to the questionable nature of karmic law which I have previously written about in other posts as involving matters dealing with a previous life of which a person is completely unaware of as needing to right their wrongs without knowing what they did and how much they need to do as a penance to resolve their previous life’s actions. As this belief is not provable it  has served to confuse and oppress a poor soul to suffer from a fatalistic complex as seeing oneself in a condescending and condemning way as accepting or condoning this karmic power in embracing their pain rather than alleviating it. This will also include hindering others to show benevolence towards assisting suffering individuals which may be acting in opposition to karmic retribution.

Another matter of controversy is treating all animals and plants as moral agents who can purify themselves through morality and self-cultivation before and after death  and thereby can ascend the ladder of the spiritual hierarchy as to increase their efficacy and charisma. Yet plants and animals have never been proven or shown to have such conscious abilities thus this concept is no more real than the animation we see on television from cartoon characters or from the  Syfy dramas such as the Planet of the Apes.

Another matter is the inability to prove that reincarnation, rebirth and  a purgatorial realm exists and I am including a video clip from a medical physician who was a former atheist as having a much different view on life after death through near death experiences.

In closing the matter of this religion as being identified as “popular”  deals more with pragmatism than ultimate truth as it handles such matters as the unity of the family including the legacy of their ancestors, protection of their children, longevity, health, blessings and dealing with fear. Yet just because something is considered a popular belief does not mean that it correlates with a valid worldview. For instance in the past when a belief system had failed in Chinese culture then the cult that it supported died out creating a vacuum to form a new one. This kind of subjectivity is also seen in their god concept which means different things for different communities and therefore there is no real sense of absolute truth as it deals with speculative matters based on their communal needs. Conclusively, truth necessarily exists in spite of desires and values making these negotiable postions untenable towards an affirmative reality.

In speaking about fear in the previous paragraph much of what holds a person to the faithfulness of these religious views is the concept of the abiding presence of danger which is operative of many cults which use this same strategy to keep people subjected under their power as maintaining control. This has played out with such ideas as there being resentful ghosts to whom they attempt to bribe or propitiate. This provision of deity support comes out of a fear of retribution towards being neglectful or forgetful about their religious duties and wondering if their petitions will be accepted along with their offering of foods and incense to help avert drought, disease, misfortune, disorder, bad luck, suffering and death in maintaining a harmonious relationship with the unseen world. This sense of dread and worriedness comes through these scare tactics of ghost stories with this portrayal of the restless dead who roam around causing disruption, accidents, illness and it really makes me wonder how sincere and altruistic these followers actually are who may be more motivated out of fear than devotion. This preoccupation with harmful influences can also come through a unfounded paranoia as there being some form of imbalance between the ying and the yang.

In conclusion I do agree with them that there are matters which go beyond merely physical or natural explanations as pointing to a greater and higher reality of which even the mind or conscious innately discerns as a transcendent reality with such matters as moral causality and the grandiose display of nature as representing the teleological design of an omnipotent Creator. .

So I will take this opportunity to propose another truth claim which is not just an attempt to introduce another competing view but rather it is about following truth wherever it may lead you even if it is on the opposite end of your religious spectrum. Likewise perhaps you too have come to question these various and repetitive religious activities as being less than efficacious towards any form of enlightenment in leaving you empty with the inability to satisfy the craving of your soul. Moreover maybe you have become disillusioned with the hype of this salvation as being merited or accrued through self-effort, discipline, meditation, body and spirit possession techniques, personal acts of morality and spirit writing as not really knowing if all your hard labor will really pay off.  Jesus put it this way:

 

Mt:11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

To begin with you may object or dismiss Christianity as being just some Westernized and foreign influence when in reality it was born as an Eastern religion in coming from an Israeli Asian culture which has now enveloped the world landscape and it has been proven to work as Jesus has changed the hearts and lives of millions of people throughout the ages of times and who have come from all cultures and walks of life. Therefore I am including my testimony along with that of many others.

jesusandjews.com/wordpress/my-personal-testimony-with-jesus/

www.cbn.com/700club/features/Amazing/

Lastly I am giving you a bible link and I would encourage you to begin with the Gospel of John. As you read I would simply ask that you meditate or pray to God to simply reveal to you the truth concerning the content of the message in making Jesus personally known to you in such a way so as to believe upon His name. I am hoping and anticipating that there will be some matters in which you can identify with when researching about Jesus as found in the scriptural text and summarized by the following statement:

To start with Jesus is not a statue or figurine that you see on display like a door god in some churches as there is no credible image which can accurately portray His glory and greatness in that He is the Creator of all things including man and that by nature He is both man and God as the chief ancestor of humanity. He serves as a mediator and intercessor on behalf of mankind and His title encompasses the totality of His sovereignty through His rule and reign as the King of kings and Lord of lords who is far above all authorities as He alone is the way, truth and the life.

Jesus is perfect and even though he was tempted with immorality and evil just like we are yet He was without failure. His success and obedience regarding His work and deeds brought eternal merit to all His followers as benefiting from this free gift of salvation which was not accomplished through the rigors of our rituals and practices but rather it is received as trusting in His person and work as we openly confess His name with the promise that those who call upon Him shall be saved. This act of mercy, grace and compassion causes us to become beneficiaries of His great love as we receive the forgiveness from sins or moral failures apart from the wrathful judgment of hell from a holy and righteous God as becoming the heirs of eternal life and immortality in being united with God. In addition to this Jesus has given us everything we need for life and godliness as we gain His peace, joy, and happiness which comes from the intimacy of knowing a personal God as He has conquered death by rising from the dead in declaring His victory over the evils of society as he saves, heals, delivers and protects our spirits/souls as we will ultimately enter His heavenly paradise. So if today you hear his voice I pray that you make a resolution to share in His triumph by receiving this purification which is evidenced as he cleanses a persons heart from all guilt and shame by giving them a new nature by the life force of the Holy Spirit through righteous behavior and actions which honors and pleases God.

 

 

How to have a relationship with God

How to know God

 

Other links

jesusandjews.com/wordpress/2013/07/18/chinese-religion-resources/

 

 

 

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.3, pgs.1605-1606, Daniel L. Overmyer and Joseph A. Adler

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.3, pgs.1613-1621, Vincent Goossaert

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.3, pgs.1640-1644, Laurence G. Thompson

“From the Handbook of World Religions, published by  Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007