The Foundation


Oprah Winfrey's Faith

Recently I was reading a book written by Stephen Mansfield titled, "Where has Oprah taken us?". In it he outlines the religious influence of the World’s most Famous Woman. Mansfield carefully reconstructs Oprah’s experiences and shows how they reflect her life’s journey. In the end, Mansfield raises a question, "Is this a story of us - of a generation desperately searching for something meaningful to believe in?"

To understand Oprah’s faith one must first understand Monism and its distinction from Monotheism since these are mutually exclusive.

The school of Monotheism teaches that there is One God, the creator of all things including man. However, man having sinned is separated from God, and, God provides a unique Way of Salvation to man to restore his/her relationship back to God.

The school of Monism teaches that there is only one reality or thing or substance; everything else is ‘maya’ or illusion. If we call this ‘one thing’ God, then man becomes God since there cannot be God and man (two things or dualism). So in the school of monism, we become God! The cycle of birth or reincarnation is the process/vehicle through which man unites into God.

In the 'Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religious and the Occult', by George A Mather and Larry A Nichols, the authors indicate that a key step to embracing monism is Personal Transformation,

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION. Whichever path an individual chooses, several goals are on the horizon. The first is "personal transformation." This entails undergoing a person mystical or psychic experience that will usually result in a paradigm shift from an "old world" belief system to a realization of "New Age" or "Aquarian" beliefs. The first step in this transformational process is to embrace a monistic worldview. Again, this does not come through cognition of propositional truths or creedal formulations, but rather, through mystical experience.

As indicated by Mather and Nichols, the transformation does not come thru the exposition of truth, but rather, through mystical experience. Marianne Williamson, a key influence in Oprah's life, believes that much of our present reality is an illusion. If we could see clearly, we would understand that all things are one and that there is no separateness. She teaches, "We only think we’re separated because we have bodies, when in truth, we have bodies because we think we are separated." According to Williamson, that is why we experience death, lack, pain, limitations, etc. Williamson redefines foundational Christian terms and then indulges in the Hindu concept of the Third Eye or Urna, which is typically opened thru some mystical experience with the help of a guru.

Apart from Marianne Williamson, the person who had the greatest spiritual impact on Oprah’s life is Eckhart Tolle. Tolle in his book A New Earth writes, "The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I AM". In the same book Tolle after quoting from the Hindu Upanishads writes, "God, the scripture is saying, is formless consciousness and the essence of who you are". In essence, God is not someone external but accessible in our deepest self. Mansfield writes, "it is intriguing to note that Tolle’s core ideas are virtually indistinguishable from Hinduism".

Another person with deep impact on Oprah is Gary Zukav. He introduced her to the concept of the human soul similar to the Hindu concept of atma or "higher self", which undergoes a constant cycle of reincarnation. Zukav replaces the Christian concept of sin with the Hindu understanding of karma (action or deed). Another key source of Hindu influence in Oprah’s life is Deepak Chopra. Mansfield writes, "There is no evidence for what Chopra teaches, nor is there even an attempt to hide the religious underpinnings of his science. On recordings of some of his teachings, he reads at length from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures. His books, fiction and nonfiction, lead us to the Hindu worldview: humans are divine minds seeking liberation from an artificial world to become one with Brahama, the divine energy of the universe". Chopra, like the others, believes the places we came from, the things we trusted all our lives, people we have invested in, etc. are illusions!

Since Hinduism is the foundation of these teachings and beliefs, let’s define certain key facts in the development of religion in India. The first and most important is the significance of Sanskrit since the Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are written in Sanskrit. Many consider these writings over 5,000 years old, however, this is not true. The significant early epigraphic evidence on languages employed in India comes from the inscriptions of Asoka inscribed in third century B.C. Asoka took care that his messages were understood by all and generally he used what is classified as Prakrit in his inscriptions. Even more remarkable is the fact, which has been recently discovered, that for those people who at the time lived in Afghanistan, his message was given in Greek as well as Aramaic. One of the Greek inscriptions is a translation of the Kalinga Edict, and the Greek of the inscriptions is not inferior in style to the classical Greek of Greek literature. In such circumstances neglect of Sanskrit by Asoka, if the language was in use, would be contrary to all his practice.

The first evidence of Sanskrit is attested by an inscription dating around A.D.150 in the Brahmi script inscribed by Rudradamana, the Saka Satrap of Ujjayini, on the same rock on which the Fourteen Rock Edicts of Asoka were also found. Thus in any Sanskrit literature such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras or Bhagavad Gita, the Christian influence can be seen since they were all written after the 2nd c AD.

The second key fact is the land of India was one of the most affluent in the world in the 1st c AD. South India had excellent trade relations with the Roman Empire during the 1st c AD, which leads to cultural and religious exchanges, and, the apostle Thomas was martyred in Mylapore, South India.

The third key fact is monism historically began in India with the 7th-century thinker Gaudapada and was further developed by Adi Sankara into a philosophy called Advaita after 8th c AD. Advaita claims that this truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion. Advaita teaches that there is no becoming either of a thing by itself or out of some other thing. It teaches that there is no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (all-soul). Individuals may be temporarily delineated just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space. When the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space.

The fourth key fact is that the Hindu scriptures were corrupted during the Rajput era. Alberuni, a 11th century traveler describes the Indian scribes as careless, and not taking pains to produce correct and well-collated copies. In consequence, the highest results of the author’s mental development are lost by their negligence, and his book becomes already in the first or second copy so full of faults. Fundamentally, the Christian influenced Hindu scriptures were corrupted rendering them unreliable without bibliographical evidence.

One of the respected texts of India, the Brahma Sutras, indicate that Brahman who is omniscient, omnipotent and all merciful, can only be known by the scriptures which are the source of right knowledge (Sutras 1.1.2-1.1.3). Thus to realize Truth, mankind need a Standard, The Scriptures. After analysis, only the Bible from Genesis to Revelation remains as the Standard for all mankind. They are the Holy Scriptures and are the written reliable witness to God's revelation. Every portion of Scripture has its particular place in God's total revelation and Jesus Christ is the focus and supreme revelation of God, He is the Living Word.

Man was created in the image of God, but was never God. Jesus Christ said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father, but by me. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

We have one life to choose.

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