Monday, March 31, 2008

How People View The Status Of Religions Other Than Their Own

How People View The Status Of Religions Other Than Their Own Cover According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major World Religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified worldwide. 1

These religions and faith groups teach very different belief systems. This naturally raises the question of where religious truth is to be found. To many believers, particularly religious conservatives, religious truth is of paramount importance. They believe that one must be saved by embracing the truth before being eligible to avoid Hell and attain Heaven after death.

Many people regard their own denomination or faith group within their own religion to possess total religious truth; other denominations are seen to exhibit some error; other religions are often considered to be in serious error and are sometimes viewed as in opposition to the truth. Within evangelical Christianity, other religions are sometimes referred to as being led by Satan or some of his demons.

There are four main methods of viewing other denominations and religions:
- Extreme Particularism: This is the belief that one's own faith group possesses all of the truth, as revealed to their religion, alone, by God. Other faith groups and religions worship demons and are led by Satan. Few if any of them will be saved.

- Exclusivism: One's own group possesses the truth as God revealed it to them. Other religious groups are in serious error, and place the latter's members in grave peril regarding salvation.

In recent years, some theologians have objected to the term "exclusivism" because of its negative connotation. They prefer the term "particularism" Within Christianity, this belief system takes two main forms:

- Agnostic Particularism: Salvation is attained through belief in Christ alone as Lord and Savior. However, it may be possible for those who have not heard of Christianity, the Gospel or Jesus Christ to be saved and attain Heaven after death.

- Traditional Particularism: Salvation is attained only through an explicit knowledge and faith in Christ. The vast majority of humans -- even those who have never heard of Jesus -- will spend eternity being tortured in Hell

- Inclusivism: One's own group possesses the truth; other religious groups contain parts of the truth. The latter's believers are less likely to be saved.

- Pluralism: All group's beliefs and practices are equally valid, when interpreted within their own culture. Salvation is for all.

Speaking generally, in most of the world's main religions:
- The liberal/progressive wing accepts pluralism,
- The conservative wing teaches inclusivism, and
- The very conservative wing believes in exclusivism, and
- The fundamentalist wing teaches extreme particularism.

Unfortunately, the term "religious pluralism" has other unrelated meanings.
- One is as a synonym for religious diversity: the fact that there exists a variety of religious beliefs in a given country or other geographic area. Thus, religious pluralism in North America -- in the sense of the U.S. and Canada being religiously diverse -- is a statement of fact.
- The other meaning of "religious diversity:" that all religious are equally valid, when evaluated within their culture of origin.

Of course, if one evaluates a religion in practical areas, like its teachings on the status of women, on the status of sexual and racial minorities, etc., on the death penalty, on corporal punishment of children, promotion of religious freedom, promotion of religious oppression, etc. not all religions are equally "good."

Books in PDF format to read:

James Braid - Observations On Trance Or Human Hybernation
Solomonic Grimoires - Lemegeton Ii The Lesser Key Of Solomon Theurgia Goetia
Anonymous - The Teachings Of The Rosicrucians Of The 16th And 17th Centuries
Chantepie De La Saussaye - The Religion Of The Teutons

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The History Of Yoga

The History Of Yoga Image
Our knowledge of yoga comes to us mostly from the "Yoga Sutras" of Patanjali, who lived some time in the early Christian era. The "Yoga Sutras" is the most authoritative ancient scriptures on yoga. However, Patanjali did not invent the system of yoga. It was practiced on the Indian subcontinent much before Patanjali by the followers of Jainism, Shaivism [Hinduism], Buddhism, and many ascetic traditions -- some of which were later integrated into the Vedic religion.

The Indus people were probably familiar with some aspects of yoga. Followers of the "Samkhya" School used yoga as the means to liberate themselves from the hold of Prakriti. The "Samkhya" philosophy was probably the oldest of the Indian traditions to use yoga for spiritual liberation.

JAIN YOGA


The Jain yoga is also considered to be one of the most ancient yoga systems practiced on the Indian subcontinent. It focused more on self-denial and restraint to the extent of self-mortification as the means to liberation.

BUDDHIST YOGA


The Buddha was against hurting the body for spiritual aims. He advocated a softer approach or the Middle Path in which the emphasis was more on using right means to achieve right ends. The ancient Buddhist yoga consisted of the practice of "dhyana" [jhana] or "meditation" and becoming aware of breath and bodily sensations to cultivate mindfulness.

VEDIC TRADITION


The third part of the video deals with yoga in the Vedic tradition and concepts of yoga mentioned in some of the earliest Upanishads:

* "Katha Upanishad"
* "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad"
* "Svetasvatara Upanished"

It also describes how Vedic rituals were internalized for the purposes of self-realization.

* Justin Blaha through Prof. Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Powell II (OpenSourceBuddhism.org). This piece offers a basic but fairly thorough introduction to the ancient Jain tradition and compares it with core aspects of Buddhism. Similarities and differences are soon apparent.



You also may enjoy this free books:

Samuel Croxall - The Secret History Of Pythagoras
Joseph Ennemoser - The History Of Magic Vol 2

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Satanism Today An Encyclopedia Of Religion Folklore And Popular Culture

Satanism Today An Encyclopedia Of Religion Folklore And Popular Culture Cover

Book: Satanism Today An Encyclopedia Of Religion Folklore And Popular Culture by James Lewis

Proposing "to survey contemporary images of the Devil," this book examines not only "religious Satanism" but also various satanic organizations, traditions, and personalities. The general focus is on the Christian-Jewish-Islamic tradition of Satan, but there are articles discussing Buddhism and Taoism and their somewhat different demons and hells. Lewis also explores the contribution of Zoroastrianism to both Satan and the concept of hell in the three great monotheisms and the influence of aleister crowley and Anton LaVey on the modern satanist movement.

Several entries address Satanic Ritual abuse, both in individual cases and as a broader topic. One of the appendixes to the book is the 1992 FBI report on satanic ritual abuse that generally demolished the concept. Other appendixes contain samples of contemporary satanic writings and a survey Lewis did of satanists.

The book is in dictionary format. Articles range from a few sentences to several two-column pages in length. Most articles have see also references and a list of further reading, much of it recent. Where appropriate, Web sites are also listed, as many satanist organizations have considerable Internet activity.

The author or editor of numerous reference works on popular and fringe religions (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions) as well as UFOs, Theosophy, dreams, and witchcraft, Lewis (religious studies, Univ. of Wisconsin, Stevens Point) has written the first thoroughgoing study of contemporary Satanism. He treats a sensational topic without being sensationalistic, offering undergraduates and lay readers scholarly and reasonably objective assessments. Some 300 articles cover beings, symbols, religious beliefs, and popular media portrayals of Satan and hell, each with cross references and a short bibliography. Particularly interesting entries cover "backward masking," the supposed insertion of words recorded backwards on vinyl analog discs; Chick Publications, a publisher of frightening Christian tracts graphically depicting hell and damnation; and Dungeons & Dragons, the role-playing game that many parents thought led to Satanic behavior. (An article on runes, however, appears peripheral.) Lewis also discusses many films relating to Satanism but, strangely, not recent, popular demon-related television programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A chronology traces the cultic background to modern Satanism, and appendixes of sample documents include the 1992 FBI study of "satanic ritual abuse" that stemmed accusations of such abuse. In fact, the articles on the ritual-abuse phenomenon and its ultimate debunking are worth the price of the book. Michael Newton's Raising Hell: An Encyclopedia of Devil Worship and Satanic Crime (o.p.) covers similar territory but is not as au courant and is heavier on the blood and gore.

Buy James Lewis's book: Satanism Today An Encyclopedia Of Religion Folklore And Popular Culture

Books in PDF format to read:

Scott Cunningham - Cunningham Encyclopedia Of Wicca In The Kitchen
Scott Cunningham - Cunninghams Encyclopedia Of Crystal Gem And Metal Magic
Robert Ellwood - The Encyclopedia Of World Religions
Lady Sabrina - The Witchs Master Grimoire An Encyclopedia Of Charms Spells Formulas And Magical Rites

The Ripley Scroll

The Ripley Scroll Cover

Book: The Ripley Scroll by Anonymous

The Ripley Scroll is an important 15th century work of emblematic symbolism. Twenty one copies are known, dating from the early 16th century to the mid-17th. There are two different forms of the symbolism, with 17 manuscripts of the main version, and 4 manuscripts of the variant form. There are very wide variations in the English text on the different manuscripts, and for the text here I have modernized and unified a number of versions. This is not a properly researched edition, but a reworking of the text into a modern readable form. I add the engravings of the Scroll printed in David Beuther, Universal und Particularia... Hamburg, 1718.

Download Anonymous's eBook: The Ripley Scroll

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Early History Of Shintoism

Early History Of Shintoism Cover The origins of Shinto are hidden in the mists of time. According to the Historical Chronicles of ancient Japan, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, AD712) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicle of Japan, AD720), the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami presented the sanshu no jingi or Imperial Regalia to her grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto. He in turn passed them on to his descendants, the emperors, the first of whom was Emperor Jimmu. The regalia (see below) are symbols of the legitimacy and authority of the emperor, who was considered to be divine until as late as the end of World War II.

Shinto only received an actual name and became in any way systemized in the late 6th century AD, in order to distinguish it from Buddhism and Confucianism, newly introduced from China. Eager to keep up with their neighbors to the west, the Imperial court adopted Buddhism and many other aspects of Chinese culture and innovation. The emperors also became Buddhist, though Shinto continued to be practiced at court and at a few of the major shrines. The foreign and native Religions continued to assimilate for over a thousand years. In the late 8th century, under the great teacher Kukai, Shinto and Buddhism were united as a new doctrine called Ryobu Shinto (the Shinto of two kinds).

Books in PDF format to read:

Arthur Edward Waite - The Real History Of The Rosicrucians Part Iii
Arthur Edward Waite - The Real History Of The Rosicrucians Part I
William Phelon - Our Story Of Atlantis

Monday, March 24, 2008

2012 Buddhist Prophecy

2012 Buddhist Prophecy Image
Is time running out in the countdown to 2012? In this dream interpretation the Buddha predicts the future based on moral and ethical decay, which we can do something about, rather than the calendar, which we cannot (mayanprophecy2012).

SIXTEEN DREAMS ("Jataka" 77)

King Pasenadi of Kosala once had 16 frightening dreams. His court chaplains, brahmin advisers, offered to interpret them.

As the king recounted the dreams, the brahmins looked worried. Wringing their hands they said, "These dreams portend one of three calamities: harm to your kingdom, your wealth, or your life."

The Brahminical "solution" they offered was a ritual animal sacrifice reminiscent of the Jewish and outmoded Christian practice of slaughtering RED HEIFERS and sacrificial lambs, a practice that unfortunately still lingers in Hinduism (as in Nepal).

Queen Mallika advised him to seek out best of all brahmins in the human and "deva" worlds, the Buddha, rather than the advice of his court brahmins.

Thanks to Queen Mallika, the king has his fears allayed by the Buddha.

JETAVANA, India - The king arrived at the monastery, paid his respects, and told the Buddha about his 16 bewildering dreams:

1. "Four black bulls came together from the four directions with every intention to fight. A great crowd gathered to see them fight, but they were bluffing and dispersed. What will come of it?" The Buddha explained: "This was a dream of the distant future when rulers are stingy, citizens corrupt, the world upside down, and good is declining while bad is increasing. At that time, no rain will fall from the heavens, monsoons will forget their season, crops will wither, and famine will spread across the land. Immense clouds will gather, farmers will rush to bring in the rice they had spread to dry in the sun, workers will take their tools and hurry to repair the reservoir walls. Thunder will roar, and lightning will flash from the clouds. However, just as the bulls in your dream did not fight, these clouds will retreat without giving rain. This is what shall come of this dream. But this dream applies to the remote future. The brahmins only said what they said to profit and have their livelihood from it. What was the second dream, sire?"

There are "weather gods," extraterrestrial "devas" with the power to interfere with meterological events (Dream 1), just as there are unseen elemental "nature spirits" or "bhumi-devas "(Dream 10).

2. "My second dream was about tiny trees and shrubs that burst through the soil. When they were only a few inches high, they flowered and fruited. Sire, this dream will be realized in future when the world has fallen into decay and the average human lifespan is short. Passions then will be so strong that even very young girls will live with men, get pregnant, and have children symbolized by the the flowers and fruit."

3. "I saw cows suckling from their own newborn calves. This dream will come when age is no longer respected. In the future young people will have no regard for parents or parents-in-law. They will handle the family estate themselves. If they please they will give food and clothing to the old folks but not if it does not suit them. The aged, destitute and dependent, will survive only by the favor and whim of their own children, like big cows suckled by newborn calves."

4. "Men unyoked a team of strong, sturdy oxen, and replaced them with young steers, too weak to draw the load. Those young steers refused to pull. The wagons did not move at all? In the future, in the days of corrupt rulers, unjust and stingy leaders will not honor wise leaders skilled in diplomacy. They will not appoint experienced, learned judges to the courts. On the contrary, they will honor the very young and foolish and appoint inexperienced and unprincipled judges to the courts. Naturally, these appointees, due to ignorance of statecraft and the law, will not be able to bear the burden of their responsibilities. Because of incompetence they will have to throw off the yoke of public office. When that happens, the aged and wise will remember being passed over. And even though they are able to cope with the difficulties, they will refuse to help, saying: 'It is no business of ours since we have become outsiders.' They will remain aloof, and the government will fall to ruins. It will be just as when young steers yoked instead of a team of sturdy oxen."

5. "I saw an incredible horse with a mouth on each side of its head being fed fodder on both sides. That dreadful horse ate voraciously with both its mouths. In the days of corrupt and irresponsible leaders, covetous people will be appointed judges. These despicable magistrates, blind to virtue and honesty, will take bribes from both sides. That is, they will be doubly corrupt, eating with two mouths at once."

6. "I saw people holding out a brightly polished golden bowl, which must have been worth a fortune. They were actually begging an old jackal to pee in it. Then I saw the repulsive beast do just that. In the remote future, when immoral rulers from royal lines mistrust the established administrators, preferring instead the low of the country. Because of the rulers' blindness, nobles will decline and the low will be raised to the status of leaders. Naturally, the great families will give their daughters to them in marriage. The union of the noble with the ignoble will be like the urinating of the old jackal into the golden bowl."

7. "I saw a man braiding rope. As he worked, he dropped the finished rope at his feet. Under his bench, unknown to him, lay a hungry pregnant jackal kept eating the rope just as fast as he braided it. In far off days women will crave men, strong drink, extravagant clothes, jewelry, and base entertainments. In their profligacy these women will get drunk with their lovers and carry on shamelessly. In so doing they will neglect their homes and families. They will pawn household valuables, selling everything for drink and amusements, even the means of future earnings. Just as the hungry jackal under the bench ate the rope of the rope-maker, so these women will squander the savings earned by their families."

8. "At a palace gate there stood a big pitcher full to the brim. Around it stood many empty pitchers. From all directions there came a steady stream of people carrying pots of water they poured into the already full pitcher. The water from the full pitcher kept overflowing wastefully soaking into the sand. Still the people came and poured more and more water. Not a single person even glanced at the empty pitchers more in need of filling. In the future when the world is in decline, the country will grow weak, and its leaders will be poorer and more demanding. These rulers in their poverty and selfishness will make the whole country work exclusively for them. They will force citizens to neglect their own work and to labor for them. For the rulers' sake they will plant sugar cane, make sugar-mills, and boil down molasses. For the rulers' sake they will plant flower gardens and orchards and gather fruits. They will harvest the crops and fill the storerooms and warehouses to overflowing, but they will be unable even to glance at their own empty stores at home. It will be like filling and overfilling the full pitcher, heedless of the needy, empty ones."

9. "I saw a deep pool with sloping banks overgrown with lotuses. From all directions, a wide variety of animals came to drink water from that pool. Strangely, the deep water in the middle was terribly muddy. But the water at the edges, where all those thirsty creatures had descended into the pool, was unaccountably clear and sparkling. When rulers grow increasingly corrupt, ruling capriciously according to their own whim and pleasure, they will not make judgments according to what is right. Being greedy, they will grow fat on lucrative deals and bribes. Showing no mercy or compassion to their people, they will be fierce and cruel. These rulers will amass wealth by crushing their subjects like stalks of sugar cane in a mill and by taxing them to the last cent. Unable to pay these oppressive taxes, citizens will abandon villages, towns, and cities and flee like refugees to the borders. The heart of the country will be a wilderness, while the remote areas along the borders will teem with people. The country will be just like the pool, muddy in the middle and clear at the edges."

10. "I saw rice cooking in a pot but never getting done. By 'never getting done' I mean that it looked as if the cooking were going on in three distinct stages sharply delineated and separate from each other: One part of the rice was sodden, another part was hard and raw, and the third part looked like it was perfectly cooked. In days to come leaders will become corrupt. The administrators [noble caste] will follow the leader's example and so will the elite educated class [brahmin caste]. The townspeople, the merchants, and at last even the laborers will become corrupt. Eventually, everyone in the country, the sages and even the "devas" of the land, will become immoral. Even the winds that blow over the realm of such a corrupt leader will grow cruel and lawless. Because even the skies and the spirits of the skies over that land will be disturbed, they will cause a drought. Rain will never fall on the whole territory at once. It may rain in the upper districts, but in the lower it will not. In one place a heavy downpour will damage the crops, while in another area the crops will wither from drought. The crops sown within a single country -- like the rice in the pot -- shall have no uniform character."

11. "I saw rancid buttermilk being bartered for precious sandalwood worth a fortune in gold. In the distant future, when my teaching is waning [note the Buddha's teaching was predicted to remain uncorrupted for 1,000 years], there will be many greedy, shameless monastics, who for the sake of their bellies dare to preach the very words in which I have warned against greed! Because they desert the liberating-Dharma to gratify their stomachs, and because they sided with holders of various views, their preaching will not lead to nirvana. Their only thought as they preach will be to use fine words and sweet voices to induce lay believers to give them costly robes, delicate food, and every comfort. Others will seat themselves beside the highways, at busy street corners, or at the doors of rulers' palaces where they will stoop to preach for money, even for a pittance! Thus these monastics will barter away my teaching that leads to liberation from suffering for food, robes, or coins! They will be like those who exchanged precious sandalwood worth a fortune in pure gold for rancid buttermilk."

12. "I saw dried gourds sinking in the water. In the days of unjust rulers, when the world is upside down, when leaders favor the low rather than the noble, the low will become great leaders, while the nobles will sink into poverty. In the leader's court and in the courts of justice, the words of the low alone will be recognized. Like the dried gourds, they will be firmly established. In the assemblies of monastics it will be the same. Whenever there are inquiries about proper behavior, rules of conduct, or rules of discipline, only the counsel of wicked, corrupt monastics will be considered. The advice of modest monastics will be ignored. It will be as when the empty pumpkins sank."

13. "I saw huge blocks of solid stone as big as houses floating like dried gourds on water. At a time of corrupt rulers who honor the low, who become great leaders, while the nobles fade into obscurity. The nobles will receive no respect, while ignorant upstarts are granted honors. In the ruler's court and in law courts, the words of nobles, learned in the law, will drift idly by like those solid stones. They will not penetrate deep into the hearts of people. When the wise speak, the ignorant will merely laugh at them with scorn, saying 'What is it these individuals are saying?' In the monastic assemblies as well, people will not respect the excellent elders. Their words will not sink deep but will drift idly by, just like those rocks floating on water."

14. "I saw tiny frogs, no bigger than miniature flowers, swiftly pursuing huge black snakes and devouring them. In future days when the world is declining, at that time human passions will be so strong that husbands will be thoroughly infatuated with childish brides. Men will lose all judgment and self-respect. And being completely smitten, they will place their infantile wives in charge of everything -- servants, livestock, granaries, gold and silver, everything in the house. Should the over-fond husband presume to ask for some money or a favorite robe, he will be told to mind his own business and not to be so inquisitive about property in "her" house. These abusive young wives will exercise power over their husbands as if their men were hired servants or slaves. It will be like the tiny frogs that gobbled up the big black snakes."

15. "I saw a village crow, a vile creature with all the ten vices,* attended by an entourage of Mallard ducks, beautiful birds with feathers of golden sheen. In the reign of weakling rulers there will be some who know nothing about governing. They will be fools and cowards who understand neither battle nor the art of leadership. Fearing that they may be deposed in a revolt or revolution, they will elevate even their servants, bath-attendants, barbers, and the like [that is, loyal but shockingly unqualified people] to positions of power. These rulers will ignore the real administrators. Cut off from favor and unable to support themselves, the real administrators will be reduced to kissing up like sycophants to the upstart rulers, as when the crow had regal Mallard ducks for a retinue. And, sire, your sixteenth dream?"

16. "I saw goats chasing leopards and eating them. At the sight of goats in the distance, the leopards were stricken with terror and fled to hide in thickets quaking with fear. Such was my dream. What will come of it? This dream too will not have its fulfillment until the time of immoral rulers. The low will be raised to important posts and will become the favorites of the administration. Real administrators will sink into obscurity and distress. Gaining power in courts of law because of such favor, the low will claim the ancestral estates of the impoverished traditional leaders, demanding their titles and property. When the real owners plead for their rights in court, the ruler's MINIONS will have them beaten and tortured, then taken by the throat and thrown out with words of scorn: 'That ought to teach you to know your place, fools!' they will shout. 'How dare you dispute it? The ruler shall hear of your insolence, then we will have your hands and feet chopped off!' At this, the terrified nobles will agree that black is white and that their own estates belong to these upstarts. They will then hurry off and cower in agony and fear. Likewise, at that time, unprincipled monastics will harass good and worthy recluses until the worthy ones flee from the monasteries to the forest. This oppression of real nobles by the low and of good monastics by bad ones will be like the intimidation of leopards by goats. However, you have nothing to fear from this. This dream like the others only refers to the future."

When the Buddha had reassured the king and explained the dreams, he added: "It was neither truth nor love that prompted those brahmins to make the prophecies they did. It was greed and selfishness that led them to prescribe such animal sacrifices."

Then he said, "Nor are you the first to have had these dreams. They were dreamed by rulers in the past as well. Then, as now, brahmins found in them a pretext for sacrifices." At King Pasenadi's request, the Buddha then recounted this story of the past:

* "PAST LIFE PROPHECY (SIXTEEN DREAMS)"

*The crow's ten bad habits or "vices" are that it is: destructive, reckless, greedy, gluttonous, rough, merciless, weak, noisy, forgetful, and wasteful.

You also may enjoy this free books:

Rodolfo Amadeo Lanciani - Pagan And Christian Rome
Sepharial - The Basis Of Scripture Prophecy

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Greek King Questions On Buddhism

The Greek King Questions On Buddhism Image
QUESTIONS OF KING [MEANANDER]BOOK I, Secular Narrative (Sacred-texts.com, Wisdom Quarterly edit)

1. King Milinda, at S^agala the famous town of yore,To N^agasena, the world famous sage, repaired.(So the deep Ganges to the deeper ocean flows.)To him, the eloquent, the bearer of the torchOf Truth, dispeller of the darkness of [human]'s minds,Subtle and knotty questions did he put, many,Turning on many points. Then were solutions givenProfound in meaning, gaining access to the heart,Sweet to the ear, and passing wonderful and strange.For N^agasena's talk plunged to the hidden depthsOf "Vinaya" and of "Abhidharma" (discipline and psychology)

Unravelling all the meshes of the sutras' net,Glittering the while with metaphors and reasoning high.Come then! Apply the mind, and let the heart rejoice,And hearken to these subtle questionings, all groundsOf doubt well fitted to resolve.

The Milindapanha in German (payer.de)

2. Thus hath it been handed down by tradition -- There is in the country of the Yonakas a great center of trade, a city called S^agala, situated in a delightful country well watered and hilly, abounding in parks and gardens and groves and lakes and resevoirs, a paradise of rivers and mountains and woods. Wise architects have laid it out, and its people know of no oppression, since all their enemies and adversaries have been put down. Brave is its defense, with many and various strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways, and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated. Well laid out are its streets, squares, cross roads, and marketplaces. Well displayed are the innumerable sorts of costly merchandise with which its shops are filled.

It is richly adorned with hundreds of alms-halls of various kinds. And it is splendid with hundreds of thousands of magnificent mansions ["vimana", spacecraft, UFO ships], which rise aloft like the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Its streets are filled with elephants, horses, carriages, and foot-passengers, frequented by groups of handsome men and beautiful women, and crowded by men of all sorts and conditions, brahmins, nobles, laborers, and servants. They resound with cries of "Welcome!" to teachers of every creed. And the city is the resort of the leading people of each of the differing sects. Shops are there for the sale of Benares muslin, of Kotumbara stuffs, and of other cloths of various kinds. And sweet odors are exhaled from the bazaars, where all sorts of flowers and perfumes are tastefully set out. Jewels are there in plenty, such as human hearts desire. And guilds of traders in all sorts of finery display their goods in the bazaars that face all quarters of the sky. So full is the city of money and of gold and silver ware, of copper and stoneware, that it is a very mine of dazzling treasures. And there is laid up there much store of property and corn and things of value in warehouses -- foods and drinks of every sort, syrups, and candies of every kind. In wealth it rivals Uttara-kuru, and in glory it is as ^Alakamand^a, the city of the gods (sky-"devas").

3. Having said thus much we must now relate the previous birth history of these two persons (King Milinda and Ven. N^agasena) and the various sorts of puzzles. This shall be done under six heads:

* Their previous history ("pubba-yoga")
* The Milinda problems
* Questions as to distinguishing characteristics
* Puzzles arising out of contradictory statements
* Puzzles arising out of ambiguity
* Discussions turning on metaphor.

And of these the Milinda problems are in two divisions -- questions as to distinctive characteristics, and questions aiming at the dispelling of doubt and the puzzles arising out of contradictory statements in two divisions, the long chapter and the problems in the life of the recluse.

PREVIOUS HISTORY ("pubba-yoga")

4. By "pubba-yoga" is meant their past karma (deeds in this or previous lives). Long ago, they say, when Kassapa the Buddha was spreading the Dharma, there dwelled in one community near the Ganges river a great company of members of the Order (Sangha).

There the monastics, true to established rules and duties, rose early in the morning, and taking long-handled brooms, would sweep out the courtyard and collect the rubbish into a heap, meditating all the while on the virtues of the Buddha.

5. One day a monk told a novice to remove the heap of dust. But he, as if he did not hear, went about his business. And on being called a second time, and a third, he still went his way as if he had not heard. Then the monk, angry with so intractable a novice, dealt him a blow with the broom stick.

This time, not daring to refuse, he set about the task but crying while doing so. And as he did so he muttered to himself this first aspiration: "May I, by reason of this meritorious act of throwing out the rubbish, in each successive life in which I may be born up to the time when I attain nirv^ana, be as powerful and glorious as the midday sun!"

6. When he had finished his work he went to the riverside to bathe. And on beholding the mighty billows of the Ganges river seething and surging, he uttered this second aspiration: "May I, in each successive life in which I may be born till I attain nirv^ana, possess the power of saying the right thing, and saying it instantly, under any circumstance that may arise, carrying all before me like this mighty surge!"

7. Now that monk, after he had put the broom away in the broom closet, had likewise wandered down to the riverside to bathe. And as he walked he happened to overhear what the novice was saying. Then thinking: "If this fellow, on the ground of such an act of merit, which after all was instigated by me, can harbor hopes like this, what can I not attain to?" And he too made a wish: "In each successive life in which I may be born till I attain nirv^ana, may I too be ready in saying the right thing at once. And more especially may I have the power of unravelling and of solving each problem and each puzzling question this young man may put -- carrying all before me like this mighty surge!"

8. Then for the whole period between one supremely enlightened "buddha" and the next, these two people wandered from existence to existence among "devas" and humans. And the historical Buddha saw them too. And just as he did to the son of Moggal^i and to Tissa the Elder, so to them also did he foretell their future, saying: "Many years after I have passed away will these two reappear, and the subtle Doctrine and Discipline taught by me will they two explain, unravelling and disentangling its difficulties by questions put and metaphors adduced.'

9. Of the two the novice became the king of the city of S^agala in India, by the name Milinda, learned, eloquent, wise, and able. He was a faithful observer of all the various acts of devotion and ceremony enjoined by his own sacred vows concerning things past, present, and to come. Many were the arts and sciences he knew -- sacred tradition and secular studies: the "S^ankhya, Yoga, Ny^aya," and "Vaiseshika" systems of philosophy, arithmetic, music, medicine, the four "Vedas", the "Pur^anas", and the "Itih^asas"; astronomy, magic, causation, and spells; the study of war, poetry, transportation -- the whole nineteen.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beliefs Of Messianic Judaism

Beliefs Of Messianic Judaism Cover Most believers would probably accept the definition of a Messianic Jew as "a person who was born Jewish or converted to Judaism, who is a 'genuine believer' in Yeshua [Jesus], and who acknowledges his Jewishness." 1
- "A tenet of Messianic Judaism asserts that when a Jew accepts a Jewish Messiah, born in a Jewish land, who was foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures, such a Jew does not become a Gentile. In fact, he becomes a completed Jew -- a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah." 2
- Those of the "Evangelic" wing of Messianic Judaism hold theological beliefs which are essentially identical to those of Evangelical Christianity, including: G-d as a Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the virgin birth; sinless life; resurrection; ascension and future second coming, salvation , inerrancy of the Bible, etc. 3,4
- They believe that their religious practices and beliefs are very similar to that experienced by a 1st century CE Jewish Christian movement (also known as The Way or the Nazarenes). This was one of about two dozen religious movements which were active at the time, including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, followers of John the Baptist, Essenes, Gnostics, Herodians, Pauline Christians, etc. The Jewish Christians was composed of Jewish reformers; their group was founded by Jesus' disciples, lead by James -- the brother of Jesus, -- and largely concentrated in Jerusalem. Historians and theologians differ in their beliefs about the 1st century Jewish Christians:
- Many religious liberals believe that the Jewish Christians considered themselves to be a reform movement within Judaism. They sacrificed in the Temple, observed all of the Jewish holy days and dietary restrictions, and circumcised their male children. They worshiped G-d as a unity, and viewed Jesus as a human prophet and teacher, not a deity or part of a deity.
- Evangelical Christians generally believe that the Christian movement centered in Jerusalem differed little from the Pauline Christians, except that the former circumcised their male children, observed Jewish dietary laws, and worshiped in the Temple. They viewed Jesus as the Son of God, as one personality within the Trinity, as the Messiah, and as their savior.

Messianic Jews generally pattern their beliefs after the Evangelical Christian view of the 1st century Jewish Christians. For this reason, they are generally considered to be Christians by the larger Jewish community.
- Some believe that Yeshua will return to earth in the "Second Coming" only when a sufficient number of Jews accept him as their Messiah and Savior. Others believe that Jesus may come at any time.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Witchcraft And Sorcery

Witchcraft And Sorcery Cover Witchcraft and sorcery are almost identical terms as both use the magic spells, mystical or paranormal means to harness occult forces to produce desired results. Ideally speaking, persons pursuing witchcraft do not aim at producing evil results. Somehow the term sorcery is used pejoratively to denote the use of supernatural powers to produce unnatural and negative course of events.

Another factor that differentiates witchcraft from sorcery is that while sorcery can be learnt and practiced by anyone, witchcraft is considered to result from inherent mystical powers and is practiced by invisible means. Modern witches, however, claim that witchcraft can be acquired through learning as well.

Both Witchcraft And Sorcery have existed since times immemorial in all the societies and cultures around the world. In ancient Greece, witchcraft existed as early as the time when Homer lived. The legendary Medea was considered as the best known sorceress in classical times. The Roman Horace describes two witches in his famous Satires. There are several references to witches in Bible. Saul (1 Samuel 28) consulted Witch of Endor.

Though witches were hounded and persecuted as being aligned with evil spirits in the past ages, Witchcraft has acquired respectability with the passage of time. It has washed away the stigma attached to it and cleared many popular misconceptions about it.

In twentieth century, witchcraft movement termed as Wicca the Craft, the Wisecraft is professed and practiced as religion.
The term wicca comes from an old English word wicca which has its origin from the Germanic root ‘wic’ and means ‘to bend or turn’. A witch is supposed to bend or turn the course of events for a good cause. Earlier the female practitioners of witchcraft were called witches, while their male counterparts were called wizards. But now the term witch is used both for male and female practitioners of witchcraft.

Witchcraft as a religion was developed in the United Kingdom by Gerald B Gardner, a British civil servant. Gardner had a life long interest in occult and supernatural forces. Witchcraft is now openly and proudly practiced in almost all the English Speaking countries including the United States of America besides many traditional societies and cultures around the world. In Africa people seek medical aid for external physical problems and consult witch doctors for internal illnesses.

It is now widely believed that witches cast their spells for good objectives like love, health and wealth. Genuine believers in witchcraft do not cause harm to others. They worship God or deity or Mother Nature which is believed to possess both male and female aspects. They, however, emphasize on the female aspect or the Goddess side of the deity. Wicca is a religion of fertility. It celebrates the seasonal cycles of the nature that are central to the farming communities. The religious rites are tied to the cycles of moon which is the symbol of the power of the Goddess and also the seasons of the year.

Religious witches use their craft for the benefit of the people. They religiously follow their golden rule called The Wiccan Rede which says: "An' it harm none, do what ye will.” They believe in the theory of karma that any act of witchcraft will return to its practitioner magnified three folds, whether it is good or evil.

Wicca is the most democratic and free religion in the world. There is no central authority. The witches work in loosely organized groups called covens. Some covens are made up exclusively of women, some of men while others have mixed membership. There are witches who do not join any coven at all and practice their faith alone as solitaries.

Modern witchcraft is a recreation of pagan, folk and magical rites selected from the major cultures and societies across the world such as Babylonian, Celtic, Egyptian, ancient Greek, Roman, and Sumerian Buddhism, Hinduism, and the rites of American Indians.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Steganographia Secret Writing

Steganographia Secret Writing Cover

Book: Steganographia Secret Writing by Johannes Trithemius

This is Trithemius’ most notorious work. On the surface it is a system of angel magic, but within is a highly sophisticated system of cryptography. It claims to contain a synthesis of the science of knowledge, the art of memory, magic, an accelerated language learning system, and a method of sending messages without symbols or messenger. In private circulation, the Steganographia brought such a reaction of fear that he decided it should never be published. He reportedly destroyed the more extreme portions (presumably instructions for prophecy/divination) but it continued to circulate in mss form and was eventually published posthumously in 1606. Many of the details of the spirits described here also occur in Lemegeton.

Download Johannes Trithemius's eBook: Steganographia Secret Writing

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