Essays

— The Book of —
Continuing Creation:
A Spiritual Path Based on Nature, Reason, and Science

Book Essays will be posted week-by-week, as they are written.  Each Essay stands alone, independent of the others; but you will want to read the INTRODUCTION and HOW TO READ THIS BOOK first (they are both very short), and then read the OVERVIEW.  The 27-page Overview presents all the major concepts in the Book of G>O>D>.   A list of all the eventual Essays appears in the right-hand column — titles of posted Essays are in bold; titles of Essays still being written are in not in bold.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF CONTINUING CREATION

This Overview of the Book of Continuing Creation, 27 pages long, captures most of the main ideas in this collection of Essays. It addresses the central role of Nature, processes of Complexity, Emergence, Evolution, Consciousness, Morality, Virtue, the Purpose of Life, Living a Fulfilled Life, Spirituality, Meditation, Problems in the Old Religions, God versus G>O>D>, the Big Bang, Mysteries in Science & in Mathematics, Overpopulation, Humanism, Process Theology, Love, Inspirational People from History, Postmodernism, Primal Spirituality, Suffering & Evil, Prayer, and Ceremonies & Symbols in the Practice of Continuing Creation.

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ANSWERING EVOLUTION’S CRITICS

This Essay answers common challenges posed by evolution’s opponents. These include: “The eagle’s eye is so complex, it must have been designed by a Creator.” “How can wondrous creatures come about by chance?” “There are too many gaps in the fossil record for evolution to be true.” “Why don’t we ever see evolution happen?” The fossil record does not reflect gradual change.” “The only evidence for evolution are long-dead fossils.” “If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” “Evolution can’t account for morality; morality was handed down by God.” “The Second Law of Thermodynamics proves that evolution is impossible.”

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COMPLEXITY AND CONTINUING CREATION

Complex Systems are the full flowering of Continuing Creation here on Earth. Complex systems include crystalizing minerals, simmering water, tornadoes, a one-celled bacterium, bird flocks in flight, human bodies, the brain, bicycles with riders, money, governments, ecologies, religions, bodies of law, steel mills, computers, music, the Way of G>O>D> itself, and the entire universe it is creating. Why are Complex Systems vitally important to the Way of Continuing Creation?  Because they show how Continuing Creation itself takes place. Continuing Creation (which we also call The Way or Path of G>O>D>: The Growing> Organizing> Direction of the Cosmos) is itself a Complex System.  It both describes and is described by all the principles and processes we will talk about in this Essay. This Essay is where we peer into the mechanics of the one and only miracle of the universe, which is Continuing Creation of G>O>D>: The Growing> Organizing> Direction> of the Cosmos.  Understanding these natural processes dispels the need for us humans to weave fictional explanations involving magic and supernatural beings. We’ll start by describing a few examples of complex systems – a living thing (or things) called the slime mold, mineral crystal formation, simmering water, tornadoes, ant colonies, and free-market economies. For each one, we will mention a number of its important system properties and processes. Then we’ll talk more about why such systems are important for the Path of G>O>D>. We will go on to present additional examples of complex systems and discuss important general aspects of complexity in greater detail.

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CYBORGS, TRANSHUMANISM, and IMMORTALITY

Technology will change the minds and bodies of human beings over the next half-century. These technological avenues include treatment of disease, surgical repairs, artificial organs and appliances, and genetic engineering. We also talk about the pros and cons of becoming “transhuman” cyborgs, of uploading our “personhoods” into computer simulations, and about what may result when computers “wake up” by themselves in a watershed moment dubbed the “Technological Singularity.”

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DEALING WITH DEATH ON THE PATH OF G>O>D>

Every religion and every spiritual path provides a way for followers to deal with death – the death of loved ones, and our own eventual deaths. While the Old Religions deal with Death by creating myths of heaven and reincarnation, the Spiritual Path of Continuing Creation does it by rationally explaining how death actually makes life possible, and even makes life more fulfilling. Moreover, individual death makes it possible for genes to mutate and evolve new creatures who can try themselves out on Earth. To deal with death rationally, we must understand the following things: 1. that our imaginary “afterlives” would not be particularly enjoyable; 2. that the dead have no consciousness after death; 3. that life goes on for others after we die, as does the process of Life; 4. that Life depends on, and is interwoven with, death; 5. that humans are not more sacred than other creatures; 6. that we should make the most out of this life while we can. 7. that death itself is not painful or evil; 8. that by leaving a legacy, we each achieve a kind of immortality; 9. that technology will reduce aging and lengthen lives; and 10.Understand both the opportunities and the dangers of Transhumanism.

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Evaluating Hinduism

Hinduism is an unlikely mix of abstract theology and a huge cast of wild and weird gods and goddesses.   In this Essay, The Book of Continuing Creation evaluates Hinduism. We find many Strengths in Hinduism’s abstract theology, and many Shortcomings in …

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EVALUATING JESUS’ TEACHING

This Essay looks at the religion that Jesus taught while he was alive, as revealed by the Gospels and many decades of scholarship. (A later Essay looks at the supernatural religion that was created around Jesus after his death.) This present Essay answers questions including: How does Jesus’ teaching compare to the Spiritual Path of Continuing Creation? How many of the New Testament passages attributed to Jesus were actually his own words? Why did Jesus fail to teach Family Values? Should Followers of Jesus really give away all their possessions? Is it practical to Love our enemies? What did Jesus mean by “The Kingdom of God,” and how would it come about? Would people reach The Kingdom of God here on Earth, or only in Heaven after their deaths? What was Jesus’ greatest contribution to Western civilization? Did Jesus say he was the “Son of God, the Messiah, or The Son of Man,” and what do these three expressions each mean? Many Biblical scholars say that Jesus preached “Radical Social Leveling” and “Radical Sharing.” Are those also doctrines of Communism? How did Jesus regard and treat women? What did Jesus teach about the protecting Earth’s creatures and the environment?

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HOW TO READ THIS BOOK OF ESSAYS

This short one-page chapter provides tips on how to read Book of Continuing Creation. Chapters do not need to be read in order; each chapter can be read as an independent essay. Throughout the Book, the phrases, “Continuing Creation” and “G>O>D>: the Growing>Organizing>Direction of the Cosmos” are used interchangeably. We also briefly talk about updates, footnotes, and our dedication to freedom of religion.

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INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF CONTINUING CREATION

A short Introduction to the Book of Continuing Creation: The Growing>Organizing>Direction of the Cosmos.

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IS GOD LOVE? IS G>O>D> LOVE?

When people say “God is Love,” they most often mean that God is 100% composed of love, or “God equals Love.”  And when people say that God is Love, they are usually talking about the human type of Love – warm, intimate, caring, emotional, conscious, in …

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IS THIS BOOK FOR YOU?

Is the Book of Continuing Creation For You? If you can agree with at least 3 of the fifty very short statements in this Essay, then this Book is something you should read. Here are a few of those statements: 1. If you feel more spiritual when you look at a waterfall than when your Sunday preacher talks about “original sin”? 2. If you like to see a spiritual path that celebrates human creativity as much as it does human compassion? 3. If you agree that Jesus did NOT turn water into wine, but you agree that Thomas Edison DID invent the phonograph? 4. If you would you like to learn how a robust spiritual system can be based on Nature, Reason, and Science?

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LEADING A FULFILLED AND HAPPY LIFE

This Essay tells how people can lead Fulfilled and Happy lives by following the Spiritual Path of G>O>D>: The Growing> Organizing> Direction> of the Cosmos. Every year, popular new self-help books come out selling some easy-fix way to reach personal fulfillment. Unlike these books, we will not over simplify the process of personal growth. Since the Book of Continuing Creation is based on Nature, Reason, and Science, our advice about conducting a Fulfilled Life will be consistent with those three things. Therefore, readers will see that much of our advice in this Essay follows common sense and common knowledge – neither of which is easy to practice. This Essay presents our “Seven Elements of a Fulfilled and Happy Life,” “Nine Elements of Flow,” “Seven Steps of Cultivating Fulfillment & Growth,” our “List of Daily Practices,” “Four Daily Mantras,” and our “Strategies for Life Renewal

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LEADING A MORAL LIFE

This chapter lists the moral precepts of the Path of Continuing Creation. Since humanity’s traditional moral laws (such as “Do not murder another human being”) are hard-won products of our biological and social evolution, almost all of them are carried over to the Book of G>O>D>, with some adjustments. We also add a number of non-traditional moral precepts which are required for life in the Third Millennium. These include, “No one shall biologically father or mother more than two children;” “No one shall murder any creature, animal or plant, who is a member of a threatened or endangered species nor kill or harm any animal for food and clothing;” “Weave our lives into the Pattern of G>O>D>, and the Pattern of G>O>D> into tour lives;” and “Love and Care for our children.” Additional Chapters describe how to Lead a Virtuous Life, and How to Lead a Fulfilled and Happy life.

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LEADING A VIRTUOUS LIFE

This is an important Essay in the Book of Continuing Creation, because our Spiritual Path is action-oriented; and Virtue means pointing our actions along the same creative and constructive trajectory as taken by the Growing>Organizing>Direction itself. We present both our own List of Virtues, as well as a number of important historical Lists — Greek, Roman, Taoist, Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic. Remarkably, all the historical Lists are quite similar, proving that Virtue in Humans emerges naturally from our evolution as intelligent, social animals. Virtues are traits that enhance the process of cooperation. However, there are important cultural differences between the historical Lists. For example, Christian Virtues tend toward sharing and non-aggression, while Roman Virtues tend toward duty and assertiveness. Our own List of Virtues is well-suited to free and modern lives of creativity, learning, and constructive work. Our List also includes Virtues For the Environment.

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MATHEMATICS AND CONTINUING CREATION

Is mathematics the “language of God?” Or, as we will ask in this Book, “Is mathematics the language of G>O>D>?” We will discuss that at length, but one thing is certain:  knowing just a few things about mathematics can greatly augment our appreciation of G>O>D>: The Growing>Organizing>Direction of Continuing Creation. How does mathematics augment our appreciation of Continuing Creation? By showing us the logical steps that create the Patterns we describe in our sister-Essay, Patterns in Continuing Creation. Those logical steps are described in the language of mathematics.  Mathematics can also describe the processes by which forces move and assemble matter that we describe in our Essay, Physics and Continuing Creation.

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OVERPOPULATION THREATENS CONTINUING CREATION

This chapter lists the moral precepts of the Path of Continuing Creation. Since humanity’s traditional moral laws (such as “Do not murder another human being”) are hard-won products of our biological and social evolution, almost all of them are carried over to the Book of G>O>D>, with some adjustments. We also add a number of non-traditional moral precepts which are required for life in the Third Millennium. These include, “No one shall biologically father or mother more than two children;” “No one shall murder any creature, animal or plant, who is a member of a threatened or endangered species nor kill or harm any animal for food and clothing;” “Weave our lives into the Pattern of G>O>D>, and the Pattern of G>O>D> into tour lives;” and “Love and Care for our children.” Additional Chapters describe how to Lead a Virtuous Life, and How to Lead a Fulfilled and Happy life.

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PATTERNS OF INFORMATION — HOW G>O>D> WORKS

“If there is no difference, there is no information. If everything is black, “Black” has no meaning. In computer machine language there is no information until there is at least one “1” in a field of “0’s”. So differences create information. When the stars fuse hydrogen atoms into the 92 heavier elements (e.g., oxygen, carbon, and gold), tremendous amounts of new information are created, since all the elements are different from each other. Elements combine to make compounds, and compounds combine to make living things. At each step, differences and information are added, producing organization, pattern, and complexity. This Chapter goes on to discuss boundaries, frames-of-reference, self-similarity, quasi-crystals, Penrose Tiles, and the emergence of “Meaning.” Also — can information exist without perception? Can there be Creation without Destruction? Why is the idea of “Non-duality” a false path for Followers of G>O>D>?”

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SUFFERING AND EVIL – CAUSES & RESPONSES

The main question of this Chapter is, “How can God be completely good when suffering and evil exist in the world?” Humans do not suffer because Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Suffering results from natural disasters, and from the evolved violent competition between species and between individual organisms. Germs assault Humans because the germs seek to eat and reproduce. Ants, chimpanzees, and Humans make war on members of their own species who live in other “tribes.” In addition to physical suffering, Humans also endure psychic suffering such as depression and anxiety, because our advanced minds are able to relive old experiences and foresee new ones. This Chapter looks at physical and mental strategies for combatting suffering. These include physically fixing the source of the suffering; and mentally moderating the experience of suffering in our minds. Evil occurs in Humans when they violate moral standards, usually with intent. Evil likely stems from survival and reproductive impulses that an offender’s mind has repeatedly twisted and magnified out of control. This Chapter also asks: Is death “suffering?” Is war evil? Is suicide evil? Does free will require existence of suffering and/or evil?

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WHY RADICAL SHARING & UNIVERSAL LOVE DON’T WORK

Jesus exhorts his followers to “Sell all your possessions and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21), but this doctrine of “Radical Sharing” is highly impractical. If all the world’s wealth were evenly distributed among all the world’s people, everyone would poor. To further cultural and technological Creation, much Humanity’s wealth must be invested, and to be invested it must first must be concentrated. We all know that “it is better to teach people to fish than to give them all your fish.” Jesus exhorts everyone to “hate father and mother, wife and children (Luke 14:25-26 and 33), but our Human biological evolution rightly insists that we must love and provide for our families first and foremost. Without the anchor of families, all civilization is lost. And rather than share all wealth among all people, we must devote considerable resources to saving other species and their ecosystems, in order to preserve Humanity’s very existence on the Earth.

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  1. Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure, 2002, Bantam Books and Transworld Publishers, p. 107 – 108, IBSN 978-0-7679-1574-8
  2. Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism: A New Look at the World’s Oldest Religion, second edition, 2009, Alpha Books, Penguin Books, p.81. IBSN 978-1-59257-905-1.
  3. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 6.
  4. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, 2010, Harper One p. 139.
  5. Lucas F. Johnston and Whitney Bauman, Science and Religion: One Planet, Many Possibilities, 2014, Routledge, p. 179.
  6. “Hinduism on the Religious Other,” Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University, Accessed 9-13-2019. https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/hinduism-on-the-religious-other.
  7. Johnsen, Ibid., p.83.
  8. Laura Emerson, letter to J.X. Mason of 10-28-19.
  9. Prothero, Ibid., p. 132.
  10. Prothero, Ibid., p. 131-168.
  11. Prothero, Ibid., p. 134.
  12. Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, 1993, (Ballantine Books), p. 28.
  13. Mahadev Chakravarti, The Concept of Rudra-Siva Through the Ages (Second Revised Ed.), 1986, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, pp 1-9. ISBN 81-208-0053-2.
  14. Prothero, Ibid., p. 141.
  15. Prothero, Ibid., p. 140.
  16. Johnsen, Ibid., pp. 212-14.
  17. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 214.
  18. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 81.
  19. Laura Emerson
  20. Laura Emerson, Ibid.
  21. Swaminathan Venkataraman and Pawan Deshpande, "Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste." Hindu American Foundation, Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  22. Prothero, Ibid., p. 145.
  23. Patrick Olivelle, Upaniṣhads, 1998, Oxford University Press, p. xxxvii. ISBN 978-0192835765.
  24. Prothero, Ibid., p. 164.
  25. Prothero, Ibid., p. 149.
  26. Armstrong, Ibid., pp. 29-30
  27. Deepak Chopra, "What Is Consciousness & Where Is It?," discussion with Rudolph Tanzi, Menas Kafatos and Lothar Schäfer, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2013. See also Attila Grandpierre, Deepak Chopra, P. Murali Doraiswamy, Rudolph Tanzi, Menas C. Kafatos, "A Multidisciplinary Approach to Mind and Consciousness," NeuroQuantology, 11(4), December 2013, pp. 607–617. 
  28. Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter #4, translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1988, Harper & Row.
  29. “Baruch Spinoza,” Wikipedia, retrieved 9-15-2109.
  30. Johnsen, Ibid., p.134.
  31. Johnsen, Ibid., p.3.
  32. J. Charpentier, “A Treatise on Hindu Cosmography from the Seventeenth Century,” Brit. Mus. MS. Sloane 2748 A, Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, 1924, 3(2), pp. 317-342, citing John Hay, De rebus Japonicis, Indicis, and Peruanis epistulæ recentiores, Antwerp, 1605, p. 803f.
  33. Devdutt Pattanaik, “East vs. West – The Myths that Mystify,” TED Talk accessed 9-15-2019. https://www.ted.com/talks/devdutt_pattanaik?language=en
  34. Akhilesh Sivakumar, “The Meaning of Life According to Hinduism,” Philosophy 1100H Blog, Accessed 10-23-19, Ohio State University, https://u.osu.edu/group5/2014/10/12/the-meaning-of-life-according-to-hinduism/comment-page-1/.
  35. Herbert Ellinger, Hinduism, 1996, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-1-56338-161-4.
  36. Johnsen, Ibid., p.17.
  37. Professor Gavin Flood, Hindu Concepts, BBC on Religions, 8-24-2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/concepts/concepts_1.shtml.
  38. Professor Gavin Flood, Hindu Concepts, BBC on Religions, 8-24-2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/concepts/concepts_1.shtml
  39. See “Indo-Pakistani Wars and Conflicts,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_wars_and_conflicts.
  40. Ram Shanker Misra, The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo, July, 1998 Motilal Banarsidass,publishers. ISBN-10: 8120813294; Also ISBN-13: 978-8120813298.
  41. film documentary, Black Hole Apocalypse, 2018, NOVA, https://www.netflix.com/Title/81121172.
  42. Laura Emerson, a letter from India to J.X. Mason, 2019.
  43. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 149.
  44. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 150.
  45. Professor Gavin Flood, Hindu Concepts, BBC on Religions, 8-24-2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/concepts/concepts_1.shtml
  46. Johnsen, Ibid., p.162.
  47. Johnsen, Ibid., p.278.
  48. Judith Lasater, “Beginning the Journey,” Yoga Journal, Nov-Dec (1998), pp. 42-48.
  49. The Reverend Mark Edmiston-Lange, sermon at the Emerson Unitarian Church, Houston, Texas, circa 2008. See also the Bible’s Book of Joshua.
  50. SV Bharti, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: With the Exposition of Vyasa, 2001, Motilal Banarsidas, Appendix I, pages 672-680. ISBN 978-8120818255.
  51. K. N. Aiyar, Thirty Minor Upanishads, 1914, Kessinger Publishing, Chapter 22, pages 173-176. ISBN 978-1164026419
  52. See the Wikipedia article on Virtue -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue#Hinduism.
  53. Krishan Yuvraj, "The Vedic Origins of the Doctrine of Karma," South Asian Studies, 1988, 4(1): pp. 51–55. doi:10.1080/02666030.1988.9628366. See also Krishan Yuvraj, The Doctrine of Karma: Its Origin and Development in Brāhmaṇical, Buddhist, and Jaina Traditions, 1997, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 4, 12, 17–19; and for context see 1–27. ISBN 978-81-208-1233-8.
  54. Macdonald, Ibid., p. 51.
  55. Macdonald, Ibid., p. 75.
  56. Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, 1996, Cambridge University Press, p. 96.
  57. Stephen Prothero, Ibid., pp. 131-168.
  58. Prothero, Ibid., p. 146.
  59. Prothero, Ibid., pp. 144-45. See also, Klaus Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism (3rd ed.), 2007, State University of New York Press. pp. 46–52, 76–77. ISBN 978-0791470824.  See also, Jeffrey Brodd, World Religions, 2003, Saint Mary's Press, ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5.
  60. Prothero, Ibid., p. 146.
  61. Macdonald, Ibid., p. 32.
  62. Johnsen, Ibid., pp. 267-8.
  63. Prothero, Ibid., p. 172.
  64. Prothero, Ibid., p. 153.
  65. Prothero, Ibid., p. 151.
  66. S. Parmeshwaranand, Encyclopedia of the Śaivism. 2004, Sarup & Sons, pp. 210–217. ISBN 978-81-7625-427-4.
  67. Prothero, Ibid., p. 190.
  68. Johnsen, Ibid., pp.293-4.
  69. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 290.
  70. Prothero, Ibid., p. 154.
  71. Prothero, Ibid., p. 132.
  72. Johnsen, Ibid., p.147.
  73. Prothero, Ibid., p. 134.
  74. Johnsen, Ibid., p/ 145.
  75. James G. Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2002, The Rosen Publishing Group, Vol A-M, pp. 147. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  76. Encyclopedia Britannica. See https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hinduism/Tantrism#ref303757.
  77. Prothero, Ibid., p. 152.
  78. Prothero, Ibid., p. 153.
  79. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 297.
  80. Prothero, Ibid., p. 159.
  81. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 258.
  82. Linda Johnsen, Ibid., p. 83.
  83. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 131.
  84. Prothero, Ibid., p. 159.
  85. Linda Johnsen, Ibid. p. 4
  86. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 350.
  87. Prothero, Ibid., pp. 131 & 134.
  88. Prothero, Ibid., pp. 161-2.
  89. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 255 and 361.
  90. Julius J. Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd edition, 2009, Routledge, p. 8. ISBN 978-0-415-45677-7.
  91. Prothero, Ibid., p. 165-7.
  92. Prothero, Ibid., p. 167-8.
  93. Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism, 2009, Alpha Books (Penguin) p. 195.
  94. Linda Johnsen, Ibid., p. 196.
  95. Linda Johnsen, Ibid., pp. 200-202.
  96. Linda Johnsen, Ibid., pp. 203-4.
  97. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 168.
  98. Monier-Williams, Monier. Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, University of Washington.
  99. David R. Kinsley,The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West, 1989, State University of New York Press. See also Laura Amazzone, Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power, 2012, University Press of America.
  100. Johnsen, Ibid., pp. 222-3.
  101. Johnsen, Ibid., p.360.
  102. Prothero, Ibid., pp. 133 & 159.
  103. Prothero, Ibid., pp.155 & 164-5.
  104. River Ganges

    Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, ed., The Rig Veda: An Anthology: One Hundred and Eight Hymns, 2007, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140449891.
  105. Johnsen, Ibid., p.149.
  106. Barnara Bradley Hagerty, “What You Need to Know About Hare Krishnas,” NPR, broadcast of May 22, 2008. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90643796
  107. Prothero, Ibid., p. 168.
  108. Johnsen, Ibid., p. 6.
  109. Prothero, Ibid., p. 135.