Myths of Rapture
Joseph Campbell described the ancient myths that emerged as the religions of
India as myths of rapture. Buddhist and Hindu ideas came from the same ancient
origins. The original ideas are found in the Upanishads that emerged more than
5000 years ago. These “religious traditions” are older and quite different from
the now dominant religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Upanishads are considered to be the more philosophical texts of ancient
India of various origins. Upanishads were orally transmitted stories and
teachings passed from generation to generation that were eventually written as
Sanskrit texts. In contrast to the Bible, a collection of Upanishads is not
concerned with stories and claims of group privilege under one God. The texts
explore ideas about the natural world, human experience and moral order. There
are attempts to understand what lies behind appearances. Upanishads appears as
the great intelligence that originates the universe and links the Self as a
transcendent essence to individual persons. Since a human self originates from
Brahman, with proper conduct and the right understanding, a human self can
return to Brahman.
You can view the Upanishads as early attempts to understand the natural
world and to understand each other. Some of the ideas are sophisticated and
relevant today. Discussions of innate human tendencies and remedies for human
aberrations are among the more relevant. The stories of Gods are fantastic and,
while interesting as historical myths, are expressions of early and local
communities with limited understanding. The central theme that emerges in most
Upanishads is that the human mind is a local inflection of a universal mind,
marred by ignorance and greed.The attachment to the material world is described as an impediment
to be overcome by practicing yoga.
Despite world denial, there are elements of rapture , of immediate
connections with all the expressions of life, connections with the earth, its
plants and animals and connections with spirits that remain present, immanent in
all events that happen.
The term "Hinduism" was an English invention that refers to prolific,
polytheistic expressions, symbols and celebrations common in India. Colorful
costumes, dancing, drumming and singing in the street are normal in Hindu India.
A variety of gods and goddesses express local inflections of Hindu beliefs. One
could argue that every village has its own version of the Hindu religion.
The major Gods are Vishnu, Brahman, Shiva, and Shakti. In the Trimurti
version of Hinduism, three gods interact: Brahman is the creator, Vishnu is the
maintainer or preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer. The Shaivism
traditions view Shiva as the supreme deity. Shakti refers both to a goddess and
a more abstract idea of feminine energy. She may be called 'The Divine Mother'.
In some towns and villages, Shakti is worshiped as the Supreme Being. A more
metaphysical version views Shakti as the power of male deities such as Vishnu or
Shiva. Vishnu's Shakti counterpart is Lakshmi. Parvati is the female Shakti of