Sunday, July 29, 2007

Taoism Gi Il

Taoism Gi Il Image
My mother died of brain cancer two years ago today. I chronicled much of this ordeal at my blog, Kevin's Walk. Since today is Friday, a day I've designated for religion-related discussion, I thought I'd pass along a famous story about the Chinese Taoist philosopher Chuang-tzu, who is said to have acted strangely when his wife died:

When Chuang Tzu's wife died, his friend Hui Tzu came to offer his condolences and found Chuang Tzu hunkered down, drumming on a potter pan and singing.

Hui Tzu said, "You lived with her, raised children with her, and grew old together. Even weeping is not enough, but now you are drumming and singing. Is it a bit too much?"

Chuang Tzu said, "That is not how it is. When she just died, how could I not feel grief? But I looked deeply into it and saw that she was lifeless before she was born. She was also formless and there was not any energy. Somewhere in the vast imperceptible universe there was a change, an infusion of energy, and then she was born into form, and into life. Now the form has changed again, and she is dead. Such death and life are like the natural cycle of the four seasons. My dead wife is now resting between heaven and earth. If I wail at the top of my voice to express my grief, it would certainly show a failure to understand what is fated. Therefore I stopped." (Chapter 18)

This version of the story is taken from here.

Different cultures develop different ways of dealing with death and mourning. In Korea, which carries on the old Chinese tradition of venerating one's ancestors, people typically have a "jaesa" (), a ceremony for previous generations. While it may sound morbid, I suppose this day could be described as a "death day," the closed-parenthesis counterpart of a birthday. But is it really all that morbid to celebrate the transition from life to death? Far from being morbid, the day could be seen as a kind of ritualized symmetry.

Today, then, I and my family commemorate my mother's death. While it pains me that I can no longer hug her or hold her hand, I'm grateful for the care and wisdom she imparted.

"I love you and miss you, Mom."

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Rosicrucian Mysteries

The Rosicrucian Mysteries Cover

Book: The Rosicrucian Mysteries by Max Heindel

Before entering upon an explanation of the teachings of the Rosicrucians, it may be well to say a word about them and about the place they hold in the evolution of humanity. For reasons to be given later these teachings advocate the dualistic view; they hold that man is a Spirit enfolding all the powers of God as the seed enfolds the plant, and that these powers are being slowly unfolded by a series of existences in a gradually improving earthy body; also that this process of development has been performed under the guidance of exalted Beings who are yet ordering our steps, though in a decreasing measure, as we gradually acquire intellect and will. These exalted Beings, though unseen to the physical eyes, are nevertheless potent factors in all affairs of life, and give to the various groups of humanity lessons which will most efficiently promote the growth of their spiritual powers. In fact, the earth may be likened to a vast training school in which there are pupils of varying age and ability as we find it in one of our own schools. There are the savages, living and worshipping under most primitive conditions, seeing in stick or stone a God. Then, as man progresses onwards and upwards in the scale of civilization, we find a higher and higher conception of Deity, which has flowered here in our Western World in the beautiful Christian religion that now furnishes our spiritual inspiration and incentive to improve.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Brahma Sutras

Brahma Sutras Cover

Book: Brahma Sutras by Sri Swami Sivananda

It need not be over-emphasised that the Brahma Sutras, or the Nyaya-Prasthana of the triad of Indian Philosophical treatises hold supreme sway over the later rationalistic and scholastic developments. Right from the mighty brain of Sankara down to the master-intellects like Sriharsha, Chitsukha and Madhusudana, the main polemics have been occupied with the task of establishing the doctrine of Absolute Monism and refuting the views contrary to it, by appeal to logic as well as authority alike, which find their seeds already sown in the Brahma Sutras. The founder of a new religious and philosophical school had simply to write a new commentary on the Brahma Sutras so that his view may be accepted by the mass of people. Such is the authority of the Brahma Sutras, the work of Baadarayana.

Commentaries there have been many on the Brahma Sutras, but either they are too short and insufficient to be useful for a comprehensive study of the Sutras, or are extremely tough and abstruse to be utilised by men of ordinary understanding. This work of Swami Sivananda is of a Unique type in itself, unrivalled by any other. This commentary is neither too short to be useless, nor too verbose to be unintelligible, but follows a via media course, useful to one and all, mainly the spiritual aspirants, who want thought, not mere word.

Swamiji has got his own inimitable way of writing, which is a boon to the inquisitive student on the spiritual path. All real aspirants after Truth should possess this book, for it is a guide-light that is capable of steering them across the sea of ignorance and doubt. Swamiji has left nothing unsaid that may be useful to the student of the Brahma Sutras, and in addition has given useful information which will not be found in other notes and commentaries. The division of each Pada into the relevant Adhikaranas marking at the same time the number of Sutras they contain, the subject matter they treat of, and the accompaniment of each Sutra by the serial number from the very beginning is for the use and guidance of the student. An elaborate introduction precedes the work in addition to a short introduction and a summary of the different Adhikaranas preceding each Pada.

These are all a boon to the student of the Brahma Sutras for which the incomparable Swamiji has to be eulogised. Each Sutra also contains a word-byword meaning and a running translation. More need not be said than that the production is a marvellous one. Swamiji has completed his annotations on the Prasthanatraya with his Brahma Sutras. His writings are too famous to necessitate further introduction. The text of the Brahma Sutras has been included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purposes of meditation.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Agnosticism Conflating Atheists With The Unchurched

Agnosticism Conflating Atheists With The Unchurched Image
I've had lengthy conversations with two Christian friends recently on the question of atheists and people who do not go to church. I found that they confuse the two types of people and conflate roles and characteristics. In a conversation about prison ministry, they repeated the Christian canard that prisons are full of atheists. I countered with statistics showing that almost all inmates believed in god or professed a religion of some sort. My friends asserted that prisoners declare a believe in God, but they are atheists. Their reasoning was simple, if they were Christians, they would not be in prison. I usually get a headache at this point.

I explained that atheists are people who assert that there are no gods. People who profess a believe in God are theists, but they may not be Christians because they do not subscribe to a specific Christian theology. I refer to theists who fit in this category as the unchurched, a term I learned from a pastor. I think it fits. There are lots of unchurched and few atheists. What bothers me is that many lay Christians do not see it this way. They often refer to what I call the unchurched as atheists or event agnostics. It is maddening.

My only weapon is dialog. I repeat myself as often as I can. I tell the story every time the question comes up. I even ask that my friends re-tell the story. I think its important to clarify things so that it paints the proper characterization. I'm not looking for god. I'm not interested in going to church or in religion at all. I think I speak for my fellow atheists. We are not the droids you are looking for. Technorati Tags: Atheism

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Near Death Experiences Exploring The Mind Body Connection

Near Death Experiences Exploring The Mind Body Connection Cover

Book: Near Death Experiences Exploring The Mind Body Connection by Ornella Corazza

The completion of this book was a fascinating and arduous journey, which would not have been possible without meeting many people who provided me with plenty of encouragement and numerous inspiring discussions. Amongst these, special thanks go to Cosimo Zene, who helped this project at every step with his criticism, charm and sense of humour. I owe a special gratitude to Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick, who introduced me to the field of near-death studies and who stimulated my critical thinking during our numerous meetings in both London and Tokyo. My sincere appreciation also goes to Paul Badham and Karl Jansen, for supporting me with valuable guidance and profound insights. I also owe a debt to Susumu Shimazono who made it possible for me to take part in his 21st Century COE program on the 'Construction of Death and Life Studies' at the University of Tokyo, one of my most life-changing experiences. There I met friends and scholars who were of great help and inspiration, especially Allan Kellehear, Yasuo Yuasa, Hiroshi Motoyama, Carl Becker and Yoshi Honda.

I should also like to thank The Japan Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for the generous funding that made my research in Japan possible. My editor Lesley Riddle and the rest of the team at Routledge made the process of revising for publication both constructive and pleasant, despite all the challenges of writing a book in my third language. I also benefited from Paul Marshall’s vigilant eye and useful suggestions. Several other scholars and friends contributed to this work: Fabrizio Schifano, Shigenori Nagatomo, Lucia Dolce, David Lorimer, Cherie Sutherland, David Fontana, Rupert Sheldrake, Chris French, James Robinson, Fulvia Cariglia, Giuseppe Festa, David Luke and Sidney Chang.
I should also like to acknowledge the help of those who agreed to be interviewed for this project and the religious Experience Research Centre at the University of Wales, Lampeter, for supporting me with invaluable material, which made much of this book possible.

To my family, for their love and support, I reserve a very special gratitude. Finally, a thought of gratitude goes to the memories of two marvellous teachers, Laura Huxley and Yasuo Yuasa, who taught me so much about the possibility of a deep harmony between body, mind and spirit during our lifetime, which will continue to inspire my work to an indefinite degree. Ornella Corazza London May 2008.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

50 Of The Most Powerful Spells On The Face Of Earth

50 Of The Most Powerful Spells On The Face Of Earth Cover

Book: 50 Of The Most Powerful Spells On The Face Of Earth by Anonymous

We're going to give you a great book, that took many years to compile. It's called "50 of the Most Powerful Spells On The Face Of Earth". That's 50 weeks of free spells... Almost an entire year. And all of this is even before seeing what we've got in the store for you with our weekly spells.

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Buddhist Cosmology In German Mythology

Buddhist Cosmology In German Mythology Image
All of the elements in Indian, Buddhist, and Eastern philosophy made their way into German pre-Christian mythology. It was also absorbed by Greek and Roman cultures. Indeed, these ancient elements run through all cultures and can be traced at least as far back as the Sumerians of the Near East.

They have been trivialized as "fairy tales" or intellectualized as archetypes and been made to symbolize facts that have been simplified by weaving them into personified tales with comprehensible human-like motives. The great epics of Sumer such as Gilgamesh, the Vedas, Greek and Roman lore all harken back to stories known to all humanity but each adapted to particular cultures.

While the Buddha recognized these elements -- and spoke of them frequently to form what was later standardized as Buddhist cosmology -- he was not the first to be aware of them. He spoke of the things (worlds, inhabitants) familiar to ancient Indians and explained those things not familiar to them -- namely, how those worlds came to be, the karma leading to rebirth in those realms, and liberation from the entire round of discontent ("dukkha") in incessant rebirth. Wagner immortalized these Pagan stories in opera as the Ring Cycle.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hesiod The Homeric Hymns And Homerica

Hesiod The Homeric Hymns And Homerica Cover

Book: Hesiod The Homeric Hymns And Homerica by Hugh Evelyn White

This publication contains translations of the following works: Hesiod: Works and Days, The Theogony, fragments of The Catalogues of Women and the Eoiae, The Shield of Heracles (attributed to Hesiod), and fragments of various works attributed to Hesiod. Homer: The Homeric Hymns, The Epigrams of Homer” (both attributed to Homer). Various: Fragments of the Epic Cycle (parts of which are sometimes attributed to Homer), fragments of other epic poems attributed to Homer, The Battle of Frogs and Mice, and The Contest of Homer and Hesiod.

THIS VOLUME CONTAINS practically all that remains of the post-homeric and pre-academic epic poetry. I have for the most part formed my own text. In the case of Hesiod I have been able to use independent collations of several MSS. by Dr. W.H.D. Rouse; otherwise I have depended on the apparatus criticus of the several editions, especially that of Rzach (1902). The arrangement adopted in this edition, by which the complete and fragmentary poems are restored to the order in which they would probably have appeared had the Hesiodic corpus survived intact, is unusual, but should not need apology; the true place for the “Catalogues” (for example), fragmentary as they are, is certainly after the “Theogony.”

Of the fragments of the Epic Cycle I have given only such as seemed to possess distinct importance or interest, and in doing so have relied mostly upon Kinkel’s collection and on the fifth volume of the Oxford Homer (1912). The Texts of the “Batrachomyomachia” and of the “Contest of Homer and Hesiod” are those of Baumeister and Flach respectively: where I have diverged from these, the fact has been noted.

NOTE: Greek words at times appear in ALL CAPS. In text notations are in red and surrounded by parentheses and hyperlinked to the corresponding section’s endnotes.

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