Monday, March 30, 2009

Is Buddhism A Religion Or A Philosophy

Is Buddhism A Religion Or A Philosophy Cover Whether Buddhism is, or is not, a religion depends upon how the word "religion" is defined. Lots of people have their favorite definition; some think that theirs is the only valid meaning for the term.

- Some definitions required a religion to include belief in the existence of one or more deities; this would classify most expressions of Buddhism as a non-religious since it is essentially a non-theistic religion.
- Other definitions do not require religion to include belief in a deity; these would probably include Buddhism as a religion.

For example:

- Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition): defines religion as: "any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy."

Buddhism would not be considered a religion under this definition, because it is basically non-theistic: it does not generally involve worship of a supernatural entity.

- Wikipedia once defined religion as: "... a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought."

Buddhism could be considered a religion because its various forms share a system of thought that is considered to be the highest truth. It involves moral codes, practices, values, traditions and rituals.

More recently, Wikipedia have adopted the definition of the late Clifford Geertz, an anthropologist from Princeton: Religion is: "an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, God or gods, or ultimate truth. 2,3

Here again, Buddhism would be considered a religion.
- Anthony F.C. Wallace, a North American anthropologist who specializes in Native American cultures, suggested a definition as: "a set of rituals, rationalized by myth, which mobilizes supernatural powers for the purpose of achieving or preventing transformations of state in man or nature."

Buddhism would not be considered a religion because it does not usually involve belief in supernatural powers.
- Robert Bellah, professor at the University of California, Berkley, in a legal declaration concerning the nature of transcendental meditation (TM), defined religion as: "a set of symbolic forms and acts that relate man to the ultimate conditions of his existence."

If the word "forms" is defined broadly, this would seem to imply that Buddhism is a religion, along with TM.

- H.L. Menken, 20th century editor, person of ideas, satirist, and Agnostic defined religion's "...single function is to give man access to the powers which seem to control his destiny, and its single purpose is to induce those powers to be friendly to him."

This would imply that Buddhism is not a religion, because it does not presuppose the existence of supernatural powers with whom humans can react.

Comments by some Buddhists:
- The Drepung Loseling Institute, a center for Tibetan Buddhist studies, practice and culture, fully accepts Buddhism as a religion. They state:

"Like all major religions, Buddhism contains an explanation of the origin of existence, a morality, and a specific set of rituals and behaviors. ... Buddhism presents a transformational goal, a desire to improve one's situation, and a distinct moral code

- The Late Ven Dr.K.Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Maha Thera JSM wrote:

"The Buddha's message as a religious way of life: 'Keeping away from ail evil deeds, cultivation or life by doing good deeds and punfication of mind from mental impurities'."

"For our purposes, religion may be defined in a very broad sense as a body of moral and philosophical teachings and the acceptance with confidence of such teachings In this sense. Buddhism is a religion."

- Venerable Master Chin Kung of the Buddhist Educational College in Singapore, describes four different types of Buddhism, of which one is:

"... religious Buddhism. Originally, Buddhism was not a religion, but now it has become one. We can no longer deny that there is a 'Buddhist religion' because everywhere we look, Buddhism is displayed as a religion. Unlike the monasteries in the past which held eight-hour classes per day and provided another eight hours for self-cultivation, today's Buddhist 'temples' no longer uphold such a perseverance of the Buddha's Teachings. Today we mainly see people offering to the Buddha statues and praying for blessings and fortune. In this way, Buddhism has been wrongly changed into a religion."

- A number of countries recognize Buddhism as their official religion:
- Bhutan
- Cambodia
- Kalmykia, a republic within the Russian Federation
- Thailand
- Tibet Government in Exile

- Sri Lanka recognizes Theravada Buddhism as occupying "the foremost place" among its religions.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Usc Levine On Punk Rock And Buddhism

Usc Levine On Punk Rock And Buddhism Image
(USC) Following the trend of many self-destructive youths in the United States, DHARMA PUNK Noah Levine's search for meaning in life first led him to punk rock, drinking, drugs, violence, jail, and dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, his search did not end there. Having clearly seen the uselessness of drugs and violence, Levine looked for positive ways to channel his rebellion against what he saw as the lies society tells us. Author of "Dharma Punx, Against the Stream, "and "Heart of the Revolution," Levine (son of famous Buddhist parents STEPHEN AND ONDREA LEVINE) is now a Buddhist teacher, author, and counselor.

At USC on Oct. 29, 2009, Levine talked about how he fueled his anger and energy into the practice of Buddhism to awaken his natural wisdom and compassion. The program is sponsored by the USC OFFICE OF RELIGIOUS LIFE, in association with USC SPECTRUM.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Can One Be Christian And Buddhist

Can One Be Christian And Buddhist Image
Being a Buddhist is not about what one believes, as may be the case in traditional religious "faiths." Whether or not one is a Buddhist is about what one does and what one wants. Principally, in terms of action, does a person go for guidance ("sarana") to the:

* Enlightened One
* Buddhist Teachings (the Dharma)
* Community of Enlightened-Disciples ("arya-sangha")

The question of whether or not one is a "good" Buddhist is another matter altogether. One may ask of oneself, do I even attempt to maintain the Five Precepts?

* To abstain from killing living beings
* To abstain from taking what is not freely given
* To abstain from misconduct with regard to sex and sensuality
* To abstain from false speech (perjury and divisive, harsh, and impertinent talk)
* To abstain from intoxicants that are the basis for transgressing these precepts

The Precepts have a short (not killing, stealing, sexually-misconducting, lying, or drugging oneself) and long form. The long or more detailed form is spelled out in the "Numerical Discourses of the Buddha," Book of the Tens, Discourse 206 (AN X 206). Its contents are a frequent topic of discussion at WQ.

For instance, what constitutes "sexual misconduct"? It's spelled out by the Buddha and not as open to interpretation as people often make out. It does not preclude one from having sex; it precludes hurting people in the process. See "The Extinction of Karma" (AN X 206). What is "lying"? Does it include fibbing or just perjury? Shouldn't we all be celibate and constantly engaged in Noble Silence?

Buddhism is not about a rigid, absolutist morality. Guidelines vary and they very much make sense -- until they're abstracted into simple forms and formulas that are (to Westerners) mindlessly recited.

Eastern Buddhists tend to know the details. So they recite patterned formulas as reminders, crib notes if you will. The same is true of discourses (sutras), which have detailed exegeses, but which are simplified and standardized to make them more memorable and general. They are tightly packed and not meant for literal interpretation. The Buddha did not use words so much as he used terminology. Without being familiar with the technical term (a difficulty compounded by rough translations), one is left with the words. And we know the "words". So we think we know the meaning of the Dharma (the Buddha's teachings). The Buddha praised wide learning.

Finally, what does one want? One is a Buddhist if one wants to be. Otherwise, anyone who inquired about the vision of the Truth handed down as "Buddhism" would be seeking guidance. And any upstanding person with a predilection for basic virtue (since the Buddha did not invent the Five Precepts, nor was he unique in realizing that conduct affects states of mind, leading to calm and clarity or distress and distraction.

Moreover, Buddhism is the Path to enlightenment (liberating realization of the Four Noble Truths
) and nirvana (liberation in this very life from all suffering). Perhaps most people want rebirth in heavenly realms or better conditions here and now or in other future lives here. These are legitimate goals, and they are achievable. But the unique teachings of fully Awakened Ones is towards that grand and final accomplishment of doing all that is good, neglecting all that is harmful, and seeing the truth directly.

In summary, of course you can be a Buddhist and any other religion you like -- as far as Buddhism is concerned. Not that monks have not misguidedly tried to make it an all-or-nothing proposition from time to time in history and at the climactic ending of some traditional sutras. The Buddha's position was always one of free inquiry.

However, your religion (and/or religions) may differ. It may not accept divided attention or allegiance. Warm regard for anyone but the Supreme Being and His prophet -- be it the Jewish ascetic Jesus (Y'shua son of Yusef and Miriam) in the case of YHWH or the Islamic Mohammad in the case of Allah -- could get you thrown out of the bishop's seat in the Church of England.

These are the three world-religions (Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism). Less universal creeds tend to be more polarizing, whereas more "spiritual" traditions tend to be less dogmatic. Therefore, your mileage may vary.

Whatever the case, whatever your choice (whether you make it or it is made for you), you can still benefit from Buddhism the way college students limiting themselves to a single major nevertheless benefit from wide and broad learning.

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What Is A Buddhist Saint

What Is A Buddhist Saint Image
It is good to see ("darshan") holy ones even if they have only suppressed the defilements by meditation, which seems to be the case with inspiring and interconnected Hindu guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (US.ARTOFLIVING.ORG/LOSANGELES).

Hindu saints -- whether yogis, sages, or seers -- are not the same as "saints" (arhats) in Buddhism, they are nevertheless revered. The Buddha said it is good to see saints as ywell as those who have attained the "jhanas" (meditative absorptions).

WHAT IS A "SAINT" IN BUDDHISM?Dharmachari Seven (Wisdom Quarterly)In most religions, attaining these purifying states qualifies one as a saint. In Buddhism, by contrast, it is not these states but insight-wisdom that uproots the defilements of the heart/mind that matters. The absorptions merely "suppress" the defilements -- and it is for this reason that the behavior (hanky panky) of saints can be shocking when scandals are uncovered.

There is no surprise and no contradiction from a Buddhist perspective. A BODHISATTVA (someone who has taken vows to save all living beings before saving him or herself) should not be confused with a Buddhist saint, which refers to someone who has actually reached liberation.

Buddhist "saints" -- fully enlightened individuals -- cannot do certain things. They can seem to do them. For example, they cannot remove things with "thievish intent." But they can remove them. Stealing becomes impossible, but not the appearance of this.

The absorptions suppress this tendency towards greed. And people notice a change. They begin to call someone a "saint" ("saddhu"). That person rises and inevitably falls from grace -- falls from the expectations (misconceptions) we have and hold them to.

The absorptions allow one to exercise "supernatural powers" (psychic feats and marvels). When they fail, because they are very hard to maintain particularly under pressure to perform, many a famous name resorts to tricks. (Satya Sai Baba can clearly be seen employing deceptive sleight of hand tricks all over YouTube).

"The Yoga Gurus" movie trailer (Empty Mind Films)

The same goes for sex. (NITHYANANDA\'S RECENT SEX SCANDAL with the lying and pretending to be celibate will happen again and again so long as real enlightenment has not taken place).

A Buddhist saint is incapable of the sexual act because lust has been eradicated. But during the many stages preceding "full" enlightenment (there are actually more than three as explained in the ancient "Path of Freedom "or "Vimuttimagga"), it is possible to be married, to date, to enjoy sensual pleasures of all kinds. What has changed?

The commentaries analyze the situation in different ways. One way looks at the ten : Three things have been cut off (identity view, doubt, clinging to the belief that mere rites and rituals can possibly result in enlightenment), but there is no magic halo or aura announcing the profound change. The tendencies and habits one developed over an unimaginable number of births have momentum. Those habits do not evaporate at STREAM ENTRY (the first stage of enlightenment).

But when greed (lust), hatred (anger, fear), and delusion (confusion, doubt, perplexity with regard to what is the path and not the path to liberation) are uprooted, all misconduct comes to end. The intentions that decide whether a deed is good, "bad" (productive of suffering for the doer when the act comes to fruition), or neutral have all become good. The Buddha found a way to eradicate the roots of suffering. This is why Buddhism is extraordinary and unique among philosophies, practices, and religions.

When asked if other religions had "saints," the Buddha pointed out that in a tradition where such and such were found would have saints of the first order, the second order, the third order, and arhats. But where these were not found, saints would also be missing. He then pointed out that such and such were to be found in this Dharma, this teaching, this practice (Buddhism). The details may be found elsewhere on Wisdom Quarterly.

All religions do NOT lead to the same goal, even if many good traditions head in the same general direction. If any other philosophy or religion ("dharma") were arriving at enlightenment ("bodhi") and liberation (nirvana), there would have been no reason for the Buddha to strive for the final solution to the problem of suffering 26 or more centuries ago. The heavens are relatively easy to be reborn (born again) into. But realizing nirvana (freedom from all bonds) here and now, while not as easy, is infinitely more secure and blissful than even the highest heaven.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's The Art of Living Foundation's yogic-breathing ("pranayama") technique

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Major Sects Of Tibetan Buddhism

Major Sects Of Tibetan Buddhism Cover Present Tibetan Buddhism can be divided into four sects: Nyingmapa, Kagyupa, Gelugpa, and Sakyapa.

Nyingmapa means 'old' in Tibetan. Nyingmapa is the oldest sect in Tibetan Buddhism. It is also called 'Red sect' because monks in this sect always wear red monk hats. The Kagyupa sect was created in the middle of 11th century, and it is famous for having the most branches in Tibetan Buddhism. Sutra debating, Sera MonasteryIt is called 'white sect' because monks belonging to this sect wear white robes and their temples are painted white. In 14th century, Tsong Khapa created Gelugpa sect. This sect encourages monks to live an austere and unselfish life. Monks of this sect wear yellow hats, so it is called 'yellow sect'. In Tibetan, sakyapa means 'colorful'. Temples of the Sakyapa sect are painted in red, white and black stripes, symbolizing Manjusri Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara and Vajradhara, so it is called the 'colorful sect'.

Lamas playing with mobile phone, Jokhang TempleThere are many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in China, which are worth visiting to experience authentic Tibetan Buddhist culture. Famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries include: Drepung Monastery, Ganden Monastery, Labrang Monastery, Sakya Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ta'er Monastery and Tashilhunpo Monastery.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Religion Belief Mahdi Islam Messiah Coming Soon

Religion Belief Mahdi Islam Messiah Coming Soon Image
Irvin Baxter of Endtime Ministries talks about the endtime signs for the three monotheistic religion and in particular for Islam regarding the last Imam caled Mahdi or Mehdi or Mahdy, are we really in the end of times as prophesied by different scriptures, is what what we are seeing unfolding in front of our eyes these days all around the Middle east and north Africa a sign of something is it the chaos that precedes an order, the Chinese say 'may you live in interesting times "

"Wikipedia ": Mehdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years (according to various interpretations) before the Day of Judgment (yawm al-qiyamah / literally, the Day of Resurrection) and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.

In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "powerful and central religious idea" and closely related to the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, whose return from occultation is deemed analogous with the coming of the Mahdi.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Taoism Where Is Heaven

Taoism Where Is Heaven Image

"So where is Heaven?"

I've read quite a few Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and though, often very descriptive, they never say 'whereabouts' it is they actually visited. Travel descriptions and pictures are all well and good but it's also nice to have a map. Especially if you think you might one day pay a visit yourself.

Usually people say that Heaven is up above us: we go up to Heaven and down for Hell, but that must surely now be an outdated view.

I was pondering this conundrum - not that my bags are packed or anything - but it would be nice to know where certain people are now residing.

When my best friend died his wife gave me quite a few of his books, many of them I still haven't got round to reading. I did, however, open up one yesterday called, "The Magic Of Angels". This is a publication from the Seekers Trust who my friend was associated with. They are a spiritual and healing group in England.

The book is written by C.A. Simpson but the fly leaf states, "Based on the teachings of Dr. Lascelles received through his medium the late Mr. C.A. Simpson." Think of that what you will.

Anyway, here is what the book says about the location of Heaven:

"Heaven, we are informed by the great teachers and masters, does indeed exist, but it exists in the here and now, not in some other place some other time.This leaves us with the conclusion that it must occupy the same place as this earth.

One of the first precepts of philosophy is that two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time. But they can. If one interpenetrates the other as the odour of roses interpenetrates the air, or as water interpenetrates a sponge, then two things can occupy the same place.

This leaves us with the problem of invisibility. If Heaven is here and now interpenetrating not only us ourselves, but everything else on earth, how is it that we are not aware of it?

Perhaps the problem is one of hyper-physics whereby one atomic system can exist within another. This would indicate that there is nothing supernatural about Heaven and that it is a manifestation of a greatly extended nature, vaster and more intricate than science at this stage is capable of measuring.

After all, frontiers of nature have been pushed back so far that many things which are regarded as normal and acceptable (e.g. radio waves for instance and the whole range of cosmic rays) would have been looked upon as both impossible and supernatural a century ago."

Regarding Heaven and it's residents the book states:

"As for the inhabitants of Heaven we might consider Dr. Lascelles' assertion that Heaven is a mirror of this world. If a mirror, then the inhabitants of Heaven would be recognisable, but so also would the buildings, roads and artifacts. Normality would have to be the keynote."

So, according to a dead doctor - who should therefore have the inside info - Heaven is running alongside the earth side by side, intermingled, so to speak. The dead are with us but denseness or vibrational levels mean we can't see them.

And what do the dead in Heaven wear? Clothes - fortunately! To quote the good doctor, "The inhabitants of Heaven wear clothes. It is noteworthy that period costume appears to be the mode more than modern gear. This again suggests that what we call Heaven is, in some mysterious way, furnished by our own consciousness..."

And regarding the variation in NDE visions, this would be dependent on what part of Heaven was seen. Just as our earth varies from country to country and continent to continent, so does Heaven.

Did this answer my question: "Where is Heaven?" Probably not but I've always felt that there are different 'layers' surrounding the earth getting finer and finer. The level we reach after death depends on our personal level of attainment. If we are none too fine, back we come to our earth level for another lesson. This way I can believe both in Heaven and reincarnation.

But there again, it could all be something completely different and one day we'll simply wake up from our dream. The only thing I feel certain about is that we are all immortal.


Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.

"Richard Bach, in Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

Nothing is further than Earth from Heaven: nothing is nearer than Heaven to Earth.

"Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth"

If our Creator has so bountifully provided for our existence here, which is but momentary, and for our temporal wants, which will soon be forgotten, how much more must He have done for our enjoyment in the everlasting world?

"Hosea Ballou"

Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.

"George Bernard Shaw, A Treatise On Parents And Children"

He who seldom thinks of heaven is not likely to get thither; as the only way to hit the mark is to keep the eye fixed upon it.

"Bishop Horne, Aphorisms and Opinions of Dr. George Horne"

The number of levels in Heaven is the number of verses in the Qur'an. Thus, when a reciter of the Qur'an enters into Heaven, it will be said to him: 'Go up one level for every verse that you can recite.' Thus, no one will be in a higher level than the one who has memorized the entire Qur'an.


Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.

"Andrew Jackson"

Name something you like. I bet it's not in heaven. Sex? Sorry, lust is a sin. Can't have it. Your career? Nope. There's no money in heaven; nobody needs to work. Besides, as far as I can tell from studying the scriptures, all you do in heaven is pretty much just sit around all day and praise the Lord. I don't know about you, but I think that after the first, oh, I don't know, 50,000,000 years of that I'd start to get a little bored.

"Rick Reynolds"


Near Death Experience Changes Womans Life

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wondrous Wisdom An Introduction To Studying The Wisdom Of Kabbalah

Wondrous Wisdom An Introduction To Studying The Wisdom Of Kabbalah Cover

Book: Wondrous Wisdom An Introduction To Studying The Wisdom Of Kabbalah by Michael Kellogg

Every teacher has his or her star pupils, and I am proud to say that Mike Kellogg is just such an example. Mike Kellogg is a long-time student of the Ashlag Research Institute (ARI), and the Bnei Baruch – Kabbalah Research & Education Institute. His vast experience in teaching and his eloquence and writing skills are expressed throughout this exquisite composition. His proven success in leading study groups has justly earned him a name as a teacher in his own right, and I am delighted to know that such skillful persons are found in America, a land that has known trials and tribulations in the recent and remote past.

Because this book is written from a perspective of one who used to be a student, who feels the difficulties of a novice, and at the same time, knows first hand the intricacies of American subtleties, I am sure this book will serve its readers well in providing a preface to the wondrous wisdom of Kabbalah. It contains all the basics, and then some. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as Mike claims to have enjoyed writing it. Rav Michael Laitman, Ph.D. Founder and President, Ashlag Research Institute (ARI) Bnei Baruch – Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.

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Michael Kellogg - Wondrous Wisdom An Introduction To Studying The Wisdom Of Kabbalah

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Buddha Nature Soka Gakkai Intl In India

Buddha Nature Soka Gakkai Intl In India Image
Soka Gakkai is Japanese for "value creation." It is a sect from Japan that is growing in popularity in India and America, especially among the young.

Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was in the news recently when Motilal Banarsidass, publisher of spirituality-related books, conferred the first MLBD Indology Award for Indic research and Oriental wisdom on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, who resides in Japan.

So much enthusiasm

At the award function in New Delhi, their infectious enthusiasm to reach out was striking: Young SGI volunteers were waiting to eagerly welcome everyone....

Value creation

As the "society for value creation," members try to live the philosophy of "humanism." They follow Nichiren Buddhism. Nichiren Daishonin was a Japanese Buddhist monk who lived in the 13th century. Nichiren asserted that every individual has the power to become enlightened, to overcome life's inevitable challenges, to live a life of value, and to become a positive influence in the community, society, and the world.

Today with 12 million followers worldwide, SGI focuses on developing positive human potentialities for hope, courage, and altruistic action. Its Indian affiliate, the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) has over 50,000 members, mostly in big cities, but the movement is spreading to small towns.

by Sakina Yusuf Khan

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Actual Origin Of Religious Satanism

Actual Origin Of Religious Satanism Cover
Religious Satanists existed in the 1950's, both in the United States and the UK. But they were little known to the public. There are many beliefs about the origin of modern Satanism:

- It is said to have burst into mass consciousness on Walpurgisnacht, 1966-APR-30, (I Anno Satanas) when Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997). created the Church of Satan. 3 Actually, he founded the relation later in that year.
- Anton is said to have drawn on his previous experience as a lion tamer and sideshow barker, and on his readings into psychology, Magic etc. There does not seem to be any information confirming that he actually held these jobs.
- Anton is said to have been the technical adviser for the movie Rosemary's Baby in 1968. Again, there is no confirmation of this.

LaVey did write a series of books which are essentially the only readily available books on Satanism available in most bookstores. There have been enormous numbers of books about Satanism written by Fundamentalist or other Evangelical Christians. They are readily available through conservative Christian bookstores. However, they are usually unrelated to religious Satanism. They often contain misinformation that is traceable back to the Witch burning times in Europe (circa 1450-1792 CE) rather than to any present or past reality. Another source for their misinformation was the novel called "Michelle Remembers." This was allegedly a documentary about the sexual and physical abuse of a girl by an underground Satanic group. In reality, the book was a work of fiction. However, it triggered a Satanic Panic in 1980, and helped convince millions of people that Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was a clear and present danger. It wasn't real then and it is not today. By the turn of the century, belief in SRA had died down, largely because of the absence of hard evidence that any such crimes had ever been committed.

A number of Satanic periodicals exist. Many other Satanic traditions exist in addition to the Church of Satan. These are mainly found in North America and Europe.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bhutan Queen Mother On Elvis Buddhism

Bhutan Queen Mother On Elvis Buddhism Image
Margherita Stancati (Wall Street Journal,

Bhutanese author and conservationist the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, keeps a grip on the secluded nation's rich traditions while embracing the future.

Bhutan, the tiny, secluded Himalayan Buddhist country nestled between China and India, has long been known as the "Forbidden Kingdom."

First-time visitors could be forgiven for thinking that Bhutan's roughly 700,000 people, including its royals, were living in a time warp. After all, the Internet arrived here before television -- and that was in the late 1990s.

Men typically wear medieval-looking robes, known as "gho", and women don a "kira", the female equivalent. In their free time, the country's elite regularly gather for archery tournaments, Bhutan's national and widely practiced sport.

So outsiders would be justified to expect the members of its much-revered royal family to be as inaccessible as the country may appear. Meet Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, and you'll soon realize you couldn't be further from the truth.

True, Queen Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is a real conservationist when it comes to her country's Himalayan culture and Buddhist heritage. But she is also well-traveled, a literary enthusiast and loves Elvis Presley.

Queen Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is one of four sisters who married Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan's former king, who abdicated in favor of his eldest son a few years ago.

Today, the queen mother, a youthful 55-year old, embodies her country's efforts to reap the benefits of modernity while protecting its traditions.

Queen Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, who was schooled in India's region of Darjeeling, is the patron of Thimphu's Mountain Echoes literary festival that brings together Indian and Bhutanese writers.

An accomplished author herself, in "Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan" she retraces the country's recent history...

You also may enjoy this free books:

Harriet Beecher Stowe - Poganuc People Their Loves And Lives
Jacqueline Stone - Death And The Afterlife In Japanese Buddhism

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Women Of Sufism A Hidden Treasure

Women Of Sufism A Hidden Treasure Cover

Book: Women Of Sufism A Hidden Treasure by Camille Adams Helminski

Helminski was the first woman to publish an English translation of the Qur'an and has built a career out of reprinting classic Sufi materials. This collection of primary sources casts a spotlight on the roles women have played in Sufi history: because Sufism sheds hierarchical and social distinctions in favor of a total consummation with the Beloved (Allah), women have always held an important position, says Helminski. The collection opens with early writings about Sufi women, most of which were written by men, and some of which have only recently been made available in English. Here we learn of Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, an eighth-century saint about whom many legends were composed, and the ninth-century healer Lady Nafisa, who was renowned for her Qur'anic knowledge and whose tomb is still a sacred destination for spiritual pilgrims of many religious traditions. Helminski goes on to offer writings by and about Sufi women up to the present day, including poetry (Rumi has some competition!), folklore, prayers, songs and journal entries. Helminski does a fine job of introducing each subject, placing each shaykha (female teacher) in her historical context and explaining why she should be remembered. Some of the contemporary women are particularly interesting, such as Russian-born Sufi author Irina Tweedie, who describes her gradual path toward Sufism. This collection of women's voices is a rich and varied resource for understanding women of "The Way."

Knowledgeably compiled by Camille Adams Helminski (the first woman to translate a substantial portion of the Qur'an into English and the cofounder and codirector of the Threshold Society in Aptos, California -- an educational foundation in the Mevlevi tradition based on the teachings of Rumi), Women Of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure is a unique anthology of writings and stories by mystic poets, scholars and Sufi saints. The works presented here embody the Sufi world view. Sufi is a the mystical path of Islam with an emphasis on hope and spiritual development. Writings from the time of the Prophet Muhammad down to the present day fill the pages of this powerful and emotional volume of faith and testimony. Women Of Sufism is a welcome and strongly recommended addition to personal and academic Islamic Studies collections in general, and Sufi Studies reading lists in particular.

The book contains many short, penetrating stories about Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, an eighth-century mystic. In the chapter A Doorkeeper of the Heart, one of my favourite tales illustrates how Rabi'a's saintliness did not depend on showiness: "One day Hasan of Basra saw Rabi'a down by the riverside. He came and sat beside her, spread his prayer-rug on the surface of the water, and said, 'Come sit with me and pray.' 'Do you really have to sell yourself in the market of this world to the consumers of the next?' said Rabi'a. Then she unrolled her own prayer-rug in thin air and sat on it. 'What you can do fish can do, Hasan, and what I did any fly can do. Our real work is beyond the work of fish and flies.'"

It is clear from the care people took to write down their dreams that they were important to the Sufis as instruments of the teachings. In this tradition, dreams are considered spiritual realities, often bearing glad tidings and providing a route through which God can communicate with devotees. The chapter Hidden Ways contains the dreams of at-Tirmidhi's wife, which he recorded in his autobiography. The inner link was so strong between husband and wife that she would dream teaching dreams for him.

In another chapter, modern-day scholar Michaela Ozelsel documents her experience of a traditional solitary retreat. Isolated in a small apartment in Istanbul with enough supplies to last forty days, she describes how inner peace unfolded and a "polishing of the heart" occurred.

Women of Sufism is a great resource for understanding women's ongoing search for the Divine. "It is becoming strongly clear that there will continue to be more and more stories of women of Spirit to shareas women in the current era rediscover their rightful role as equal partners on the spiritual path as well as in the world of daily human duties." It is very important that we open to the spiritual knowledge, intelligence and vision of the feminine at this time in history.

Find Camille Adams Helminski's book in
Women Of Sufism A Hidden Treasure

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The Grand Satanic Ritual

The Grand Satanic Ritual Cover

Book: The Grand Satanic Ritual by Vovim Baghie

This is my version of the Grand Satanic Ritual, This Ritual format can be used in Standard Rituals, Thanksgiving Rituals, As well as the invocation and summoning of the Gods. Always bathe before a ritual of any kind, or before the summoning or the invocation of the Gods. As always the clothes that you are wearing - Be it black jeans and a black shirt or Full Ritual robes with red trim - are absolutely clean. It is best to have all the rituals tools upon your Alter consecrated in Father Satan’s name. If you own Ritual Robes, cloaks, or you have specific attire for a ritual, it should also be consecrated [This includes any jewelry worn during a Rituals e.g. a silver Pentagram* or an Equal Armed Cross] *A Pentagram points down and represents the energies of the heavens being drawn down. Where as a Pentacle points up, this represents the energies of the earth being sent upwards into the heavens* Light the candles, light the Incense and fill the Chalice, a Dark liquid is commonly used, be it Guinness draught with a pinch of salt or even coca-cola. The 'prayers' should be written before the actual ritual begins, there should be room on the Alter to hold the written 'prayers' before they are burned. Begin the Ritual by ringing the bell 9 times in a counter-clockwise direction, remembering to hover the bell gently over the altar on the ninth ring. This is done to cleanse the Ritual area, and to open the ritual. - Vovim Baghie

Download Vovim Baghie's eBook: The Grand Satanic Ritual

Books in PDF format to read:

Eleanor Hull - The Northmen In Britain
Frederick Hadland Davis - The Persian Mystics Jami
George Robert Stowe Mead - A Mithraic Ritual
Anton Szandor Lavey - The Satanic Rituals
Vovim Baghie - The Grand Satanic Ritual

Monday, March 2, 2009

Magical Scripts And Cipher Alphabets

Magical Scripts And Cipher Alphabets Cover

Book: Magical Scripts And Cipher Alphabets by Nu Isis Working Group

Also known as the Alphabet of Honorius, the Witches’ Alphabet, etc. It is referred to the Latin alphabet and written left to right (the last character, referred to the Greek Omega, is not generally used as a letter, rather as a period or
separator). This script was popularised by Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia (it appears in lib. III cap. XXIX, De characteribus et sigillis spritiuum), although it may have appeared in earlier works such as the Polygraphia of Trithemius. The alphabet is traditionally ascribed to one ‘Honorius the Theban’, probably the author of the Liber Juratus (the Sworn Book of Honorius), a medieval work on magic, although as far as I am aware this script does not appear in that work.

Download Nu Isis Working Group's eBook: Magical Scripts And Cipher Alphabets

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Son Of God The Life And Philosophy Of Akhnaton King Of Egypt

A Son Of God The Life And Philosophy Of Akhnaton King Of Egypt Cover

Book: A Son Of God The Life And Philosophy Of Akhnaton King Of Egypt by Savitri Devi

Roughly fourteen hundred years before Christ, at the time Egypt was at the height of her power, King Akhnaton Ruled Over that great country for a few years. Akhnaton is one of the very few men who ever put forth such a bold claim. The aim of this book is to show that, in doing so, he was no less justified than any other teacher of the truth, however impressive may appear the success of the latter contrasted with his defeat; however widespread may be his fame, contrasted with the total oblivion in which has lain the Egyptian king for the last thirty-three hundred years. The aim of this book is to show that Akhnaton was one of those few men, and the earliest known, perhaps, among those whose life can be dated.

Download Savitri Devi's eBook: A Son Of God The Life And Philosophy Of Akhnaton King Of Egypt

Books in PDF format to read:

Aleister Crowley - Lecture On The Philosophy Of Magick
Three Initiates - The Kybalion A Study Of The Hermetic Philosophy Of Ancient Egypt And Greece
Savitri Devi - A Son Of God The Life And Philosophy Of Akhnaton King Of Egypt