17 thoughts on “Life is One of the Best in Agra. By Stephan Rebernik, Vienna

        • I’m really not sure I’d have the energy, dear Clare! An afternoon with my young granddaughters exhausts me! But yes, don’t they look as if they’re really enjoying their freedom out there on the street and away from phones and gadgets?

            • It was the same for me, and I would disappear with friends for the whole day into the woods and fields surrounding the neighbourhood. It seems inconceivable that parents these days would grant such freedom, and perhaps with good reason.

              • Yes, sadly it is. Have you read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods? The subtitle explains the books premise: “Saving our children from nature deficit disorder”. Even though the author has helped in the national movement to “leave no child inside”, I fear that it is a lost cause as humans’ stumble toward a more insular way of life here in the US.

                I’ve been re-reading your May post and the discussions on Free Will it evoked in the comments. And I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing is really ‘free’ – there is always a cost.

                • I have not read that book, Clare, though am pleased to say that my own grandchildren live down on the South Devon coast here in England, and have plenty of access to both the beautiful countryside, the coastal paths and the shoreline there.

                  Thankyou for taking an interest in the post on Free Will, and do please feel very welcome to comment there with any observations or reactions. It is necessarily quite an elementary look at Free Will, and there is much scope for more sophisticated takes and counter views, of course. Much of the matter rests in how we define the terms, I think it fair to say, and for myself, then Free Will can only meaningfully connote the freedom to consciously will. Others disagree, though I see little evidence to volitionally exercise freedom from the unconscious mind!

                  • Yes, it is always wise to first clarify terms before starting a conversation on any topic. Words, phrases, terms can be and often are interpreted quite ‘originally’ by individuals on so many different levels. I think your definition of Free Will is in line with the connotation I would ascribe to it.

                    Thank you for welcoming me to contribute to the many conversations on your blog. I do enjoy reading and thinking about what is being discussed, but hesitate to jump into the fray. Perhaps when I feel I have a valuable contribution, I’ll take the leap?

                    The South Devon Coast must provide a marvelous environment for children to thrive. I will surely visit someday and see for myself.

                    Your friend, Clare.

                    • Thankyou, dear Clare, and I feel quite certain that any contribution you may possibly make in the future will be intelligent and insightful, as you always are. With all best wishes, Hariod.

                    • Hariod, I am thinking of doing a post entitled “Do Atheists Pray?” I’m wondering what your definition of prayer would be? I know I’ll have to explain the difference between anti-theists, militant atheists and atheists right from the start, but I think “prayer” may hold many connotations for people other than the obvious “making a supplication to God”. Clare

                    • As a practising Buddhist of some 30 years standing, yet also as a non-theistic one, I would say that I pray in some of my concentration meditations, Clare. In Orthodox Buddhism, there are the so-called Four Sublime States*, or Four Divine Abidings. These are practised as formal meditations in which thought is volitionally exercised with concentrated mental focus on 1) Loving Kindness 2) Compassion 3) Sympathetic Joy and 4) Equanimity. None of them invoke deities or intercessory agents of any kind, and in that sense, they are non-theistic. Nonetheless, they are considered to be divine states in that the mind, fully absorbed in such states, is said to inhabit realms akin to those of Buddhist cosmology. Many practising Buddhists, myself included, do not concern themselves with such cosmologies, and whether or not they exist ontologically, or ‘out there’. They are largely cultural adaptations from pre-Buddhistic Hindu culture.

                      To answer your question more generally, then I think my definition of prayer would be the focusing of the mind with the volitional intent of dwelling upon the good. What is the good? All that conduces to the weal and harmony of any or all beings. One can appeal through an intercessionary deity, should one believe in such, or directly as regards the subject upon who thoughts are focussed. I do not see that atheists of any stripe are excluded from the latter. I don’t know how you might feel about such a definition, Clare, and if you wish to discuss it further then please feel free to do so. This is my immediate response, though, and hope it of some worth to you. I look forward to reading the piece greatly; it sounds most interesting.

                      * http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

                    • Yes, Hariod, this was a great help. I realize we are much in line with our thoughts and beliefs. Weldon, our pastor, gave a sermon on silent prayer yesterday and asked us to give it some thought over the summer months. I’ve been giving it some Thinks. I grew up in a Catholic family, have attended the Congregational Church in the past five years, but contend to this day that, although I’m a Christian, I’ve always been an atheist. Weldon keeps telling me that I am very Buddhistic in all of my beliefs. Your explanation helped me to clarify the terms, something we agree must be done at the start of any serious discussion. Thank you, my dear friend. I may just take a slight hiatus from blog writing for a while, but I’ll continue reading and learning. Clare

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