Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Buddhist Circuit A Spiritual Pilgrimage

The Buddhist Circuit A Spiritual Pilgrimage Image
IANS, Wisdom Quarterly, Lama Yeshe Archive, UNESCO, New York Times

KAPILAVASTU, Uttar Pradesh, India (Nepalese border) - The U.P. government may be trying to project itself as a champion of Buddhism, yet the Buddha's original home Kapilavastu, along the India-Nepal border, lies in utter neglect.

[If standard history were to be believed,] back in 563 BCE, Queen Maya Devi comfortably traversed a distance of 6 miles (10 km) from her husband King Suddhodana's kingdom, Kapilavastu, to her parental home [passing through] Lumbini, Nepal [on the way to her parent's home to become a mother according to Indian custom], where she gave birth to Siddhartha, who later became the legendary Buddha Gautama. But that may not be possible today.

Tens of thousands of foreign tourists exploring the "Buddhist circuit" have to take a detour of at least 33 miles (53 km) due to the modern absence of a good road link of 12 miles (20 km) between today's "Kapilvastu" and "Lumbini."

The Humble Road to the Noble Truths in India and Nepal (Ralph Frammolino/NY Times)

* [Sadly, both of these locations are likely not archeologically correct. But they are geo-politically correct. The real sites in India's former Northwest Frontier Province are now war-torn Afghanistan (the real Kapilavastu near Bamiyan) northwest of Kabul (with the real Lumbini likely located in Baluchistan where Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan meet). Of course, setting the exact coordinates is controversial, as Dr. Ranajit Pal well knows and Wisdom Quarterly is finding out.]

"What is worse is that this detour is usually packed with trucks as it is one of the main trade routes between the two countries [India and Nepal]," Shamim Ahmad, a cab driver, told IANS.

"Often, the long wait at the Sonauli border is so disgusting for foreign tourists that they choose to give up one or two places on the Buddhist circuit," he added.

The exact location of Kapilavastu has become a matter of contention, with some regarding Tilaurakot in Nepal's Rupandehi as the site of the ancient kingdom.

Currently UNESCO, with funding from Japan [and a recent massive contribution from China], is conducting a three-year excavation there (with tourist patronage courtesy of Kosai Hotel].

But Nepal has not built a serviceable road from the Indian border at Kakrahwa -- less than a half mile (500 meters
) from the Kapilavastu stupa -- to the Buddha's birthplace at Lumbini. Neither have Indian authorities bothered to persuade Kathmandu [capital of Nepal] to facilitate the easy movement of Buddhist pilgrims through the border, many have complained.

It has not struck the Uttar Pradesh state government to build a direct road link between Kapilavastu and Sravasti, both being significant stops along the much talked about Buddhist circuit.

"There is a narrow, dilapidated road connecting Sonauli to Kapilavastu and further down to Sravasti; all that is required to be done is to build it into a proper highway," said Indrajeet Gupta, a local grocer.

* The Pilgrimage of Buddhism and a Buddhist Pilgrimage
* The Earth Beneath Your Feet - Sacred Land (California's Harbin Hot Springs)
* "Where the Buddha Walked" (available for much less in Asia)
* Celebrating Bodhi Day (with a Circle of Friends)
* The Buddha walks into a bar... (A Guide To Life for a New Generation)

The Buddha on undertaking a pilgrimage

Disciples, after my passing away, if all the sons and daughters of good family with confidence [in the Buddha's enlightenment, the efficacy of the Buddha-Dhar ma to bring one to enlightenment, and the accomplishment of the Noble Sangha], so long as they live, go to four sacred places, they should go and bear in mind:

* Here at Lumbini the Enlightened One was born.
* Here at Bodhgaya he attained enlightenment.
* Here at Sarnath he set rolling the wheel of wheel of Dharma.
* Here at Kushinagar he entered parinirvana.

Disciple, after my final passing away there will be customary marks of respect such as circumambulation of these places and prostration to them.

Thus it should be told: For those who have confidence in my deeds and awareness of their own will travel to higher states.

After my final passing away, the new monastics who come and ask about the Doctrine should be told of these four places and advised that a pilgrimage [due to focusing on the good and overcoming hardship] to them will help purify [outweigh, frustrate, mitigate, replace] their previously accumulated negative karma, even [it is said] the five heinous actions.

The 8 Places of Pilgrimage

Jeremy Russell (Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive)

* Introduction
* Lumbini-birthplace of the Buddha
* Bodhgaya-site of Buddha's enlightenment
* Sarnath-first turning of the Wheel of Dharma
* Rajgir-second turning of the Wheel of Dharma
* Shravasti-teachings in the Jetavana Grove
* Sankashya-the Buddha descended from Tusita
* Nalanda-site of the great Buddhist university
* Kushinagar-where the Buddha entered nirvana
* Conclusion and Books Consulted

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Discouraged Meditator And The Buddha

A Discouraged Meditator And The Buddha Image
Easing into meditation like an ecstatic whirling dervish (Susykeys/

A DEVA named Kamada had been trying to follow the Buddha's teachings but found the task too demanding.

He was dispirited, even a little depressed, as human meditators sometimes feel when no apparent "progress" can be seen in our practice and we begin losing sight of the long-term perspective.

Discouraged, Kamada complained to the Buddha about how difficult it is to practice the DHARMA.

The Buddha, taking a positive approach, did not coddle or comfort the "deva." Instead, he praised recluses who leave the household life to work steadfastly towards the goal of happiness and a final end of all suffering:

"O Kamada, they do even what is difficult to do,

The trainees who are well composed in virtue,

Steadfast in their hearts.

For one who has entered the wandering life,

There comes contentment that brings happiness.

Kamada remained disconsolate insisting on the difficulties:

"Blessed One, it is hard to win this serene contentment!"The Buddha emphasized that some beings do it, explaining that they are those "who love to achieve the mastery of the heart, whose minds both day and night, love to meditate."

But many people meditate without becoming enlightened or even coming close to enlightenment.

It is not meditation itself that frees hearts and minds from obstructions. It is meditation on the universal characteristics of change, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness that leads to the ultimate contentment. Practicing to know-and-see these three universal characteristics leads to detachment from worldly concerns.

Kamada continued to complain, stressing that it is hard to compose the mind.

The Buddha gently agreed that the task of balancing the mind -- as opposed to either straining it or slacking off -- is not easy and added:

"Yet that which is hard to compose, they compose it." And calming their restless minds, they attain the stages of enlightenment, realization, and awakening.

Still the "deva" Kamada complained: "The path is impassable and uneven, Blessed One!" It was as if he were craving some magic to make everything easy.

"Buddhas", unlike magicians, teach in a different way. They point, show, instruct, and rouse listeners to make effort. Happiness is not the goal; happiness is the way! Passing through successive stages of bliss (JHANA), one enters upon the path of insight ("vipassana").

No happiness along the way can match nirvana. But we ourselves -- whether we are light beings or fortunate humans -- must put forth the energy to practice the path. Liberation takes consistent, persistent, diligent effort: not straining, not slacking, but always balancing.

The light being Kamada complained some more because training the mind seemed like an endless task. And the Buddha continued to encourage him:

"Though the path is impassable and uneven,

The noble ones walk along it, Kamada.

The ignoble fall head first,

Fall down on the uneven path.

But the path of the noble ones is even,

For the noble are even amidst the uneven
" (KS I, 68-69; SN 2:6).


* Stages of Meditation

The stages of meditation outlined apply to all methods -- breathing, visualization, single image focus, mantra... Meditation is the cornerstone to building a happier, healthier you.

by Wisdom Quarterly and Susan Elbaum Jootla

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Feminist Spirituality

Feminist Spirituality Image
Wicca is known as a magic-based (spelled magick by the Ancients) religion taken from ancient Pagan practices. Wiccan beliefs however vary by region, because there is no orthodox method of Wicca practice.

However, there are numerous published works and teachings that most Wiccans followers adhere to. If you are interested in understanding Wicca spells beliefs and practices, you will want to read on.

The majority of Wiccan followers or Wiccans worship a Goddess and God who they consider to be equal and complimentary beings. Relatively, the deities are represented by the moon and sun. The Triple Goddess is believed to have the aspects of the "Maiden" and the "Mother Crone". And numerous Wiccan worshippers believe that the Goddess had to predate her companion since she is the giver of all life.

Another common belief is that the Goddess and the God both can take form in the Wiccan coven's body during the ceremony or ritual. And although they believe in deities, the afterlife concept is not significantly upheld within the Wiccan religion.

There are numerous texts used in the Wiccan religion, and one such example is the "Wiccan Rede". Basically, this text postulates "and it harms none, do what ye will". This means that so long as someone's actions do not harm other people, they are free to pursue them.

The Law of Three is another common law within the Wicca religion. This concept states that whatever negative and positive actions a person puts out in the world, these actions would be returned to that being in three times.

Performance of the Wicca magic rituals are by practitioners, or a coven. For the ritual to begin, a circle must be casted by invoking the cardinal points: East (air), West (water), North (earth), and South (fire). These four elements represent every being and action in the world.

Once the circle is cast, the practitioners or covens perform the prayers to the Goddess and God, and the spells can be cast. Special rituals can be performed if the ritual is performed on a seasonal holiday. After the ceremony or ritual is completed, the Wiccans then thank the participation of the God and Goddess, and the circle is then closed by the practitioner.

Additionally, there are numerous seasonal observances or holidays in the Wicca religion. It is commonly believed that the Full moon can bring about the Esbat ritual. Additionally, there are the eight Sabbats (four of which are cross quarter days: Samhain, Lammas, Imbolic, and Beltane) which are also seasonal observances by the Wiccan followers. Other celebrated festivals observed by Wiccan followers are the autumn and Spring Equinoxes, and the winter and Summer solstices,

The practices and beliefs of the Wiccan religion are very interesting as we can see. Numerous people today follow these basic practises today as the Wicca practice is no longer viewed with negativity and secrecy. The Wicca religion is a very sacred religion. It is indeed one of the most spiritual religions in conventional society!

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Buddhism In Mexico

Buddhism In Mexico Image
The World's Lorne Matalon visits a touring display of ancient Tibetan relics in Mexico City and tells us how Buddhism is gaining popularity in mostly-Catholic Mexico.


Book Reviewer Brian Bruya (

"If there is a lake, the swans would go there." So said the 16th Karmapa when asked why he visited America in 1976. Of course, the Karmapa wasn't the first swan to go to the lake. In a BOOK of immense scope, Rick Fields surveys the history of Buddhism in America.

From the quasi-legendary Fu-sang in the 6th Century, to Asian immigrant communities, to the latest trends in American Buddhism, Fields goes in depth. Writing as a storyteller as much as a historian, he takes us back to the earliest European contacts with Buddhism.

Most notably, he covers Sir William Jones, who was about to go to America on the recommendation of Ben Franklin when at the last minute he fortunately chose to visit India instead. His work would influence the American Transcendentalists and eventually the great Theosophist and first American convert to Buddhism, Henry Steel Olcott.

A sympathetic writer, Fields is also meticulously inclusive. Besides the obvious transmitters, like Zen pioneers D.T. Suzuki and Roshi Philip Kapleau, Fields traces the forgotten influences of Paul Carus, Ernest Fenollosa, and Dharmapala. One memorable story is of the ex-Navy submarine mechanic Heng Ju, who walked (three steps then a kowtow) from San Francisco all the way to Seattle for a berry pie. Fields has countless stories that make "How the Swans Came to the Lake" a priceless contribution not only to Buddhism in America but to Buddhism itself.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cryptozoology And Religion

Cryptozoology And Religion Image
Interesting overview article on cryptozoology and religion, by Joe Laycock at Science and Religion Today, suggesting a parallel between fringe science efforts and religious fundamentalism. He argues that both attempt to re-sacralize a world stripped of mystery by science, specifically natural selection and evolution. Though perhaps sacralize isn't the proper term, more an issue of both approaching the sublime.

Laycock notes that Creationists have turned to cryptozoology to back up some of their beliefs. He does not discuss that some cryptozoological expeditions have a Creationist agenda to them, as attempts to find living Mesozoic reptiles such as dinosaurs or pteradons, in order to support Young Earth Creationism. But that's alright, it's not meant to be a tome.

But there is a bigger issue. Laycock doesn't really pinpoint why the two have started to cross paths. Yes, there is the sacralization thing, the sense of wonder. But that applies to many things, and it is why people who are interested in science issues can in many cases find common ground in activities rejected by mainstream science (like cryptozoology), as they focus on mystery and wonder. There is the Young Earth aspect or similar "prove the scriptures" elements (Bigfoot as Children of Cain in some ideologies, etc.).

But there's another aspect, and that's their nature vis-a-vis the mainstream: both are forbidden. In his book A Culture of Conspiracy, Michael Barkun uses the concept of stigmatized knowledge to explain how seemingly incompatible conspiracy memes transfer back and forth between religious, racist, political, and paranormal (specifically UFO) narratives and communities. One reason is that they are all labeled by the mainstream press, academia, science, and the political structure as being forbidden, rejected, or otherwise not just wrong, but excessively wrong. Once labeled as such, these concepts don't go away so much as start to transfer and hybridize within a pool of stigmatized knowledge.

Creationism is rejected by the scientific community, and forbidden by law (in the US where Creationism is most potent) in public schools. Cryptozoology isn't outlawed in public schools, but it simply wouldn't be taught, and it is rejected by the mainstream scientific community. Elements of both have particular beefs and interests in the fossil record and with evolution. Perhaps it isn't surprising that the two worlds have collided a bit, just as cryptozoology, once fully identified with secular materialist hunts for living species, has also developed an arm concerned with thought forms, UFOs, and psychic creatures.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Buddhas Of Afghanistan

The Buddhas Of Afghanistan Image
Afghan girls walk past the empty seat of one of the two Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images).


The GuardianCoinciding with the 10th anniversary of the DESTRUCTION of the Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban, an EXHIBITION opened at the British Museum this week showcasing more than 200 examples of AFGHANISTAN'S CULTURAL HERITAGE over the last 4,000 years. The exhibition, which has toured internationally since 2006, was inaugurated by President Karzai on Tuesday. Among the items on show are 2,000-year-old artefacts from the ancient city of Bagram, north of today's capital, Kabul. "These are an extraordinary set of ivories stolen from the National Museum in Kabul, bought by a London dealer specifically to return them...

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

General Observations On Religion By A Religious Liberal

General Observations On Religion By A Religious Liberal Cover

General Observations:

- In human society, religion is arguably the most powerful and pervasive force in human life. Some have suggested that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than of any other institution. Yet, in the end, organized religion is nothing more than a system of beliefs built around a particular idea of how things are. Unfortunately, when the religious ideas turn into dogmas and doctrines, they become largely unchallengeable, and cause problems that are almost impossible to solve.
- Many believers, particularly from the conservative wing of the world's religions, accept that complete knowledge of religious and spiritual matters has been revealed to humanity in ancient times through a holy book(s). However, most secularists and religious liberals suggest that we fool ourselves if we imagine that our present ideas about religious and spiritual matters cover more than a tiny fraction of the truth still to be discovered. We are not even at the threshold of our understanding of the ultimate mysteries. We are part of a reality which confronts us with questions on these matters, and we were given an intelligence which cannot rest until we obtain some answers to these questions. However imperfect and provisional these answer may be, we must not stop looking for them.
- Most people are not aware that the majority of the conflicting truth-claims of the different religious traditions, as well as their main doctrinal differences, concern answers to questions that are not relevant, questions that are not answerable, questions that have no answers, or questions that lead to circular arguments. On the other hand, topics that are really important are seldom discussed. This may be because the matter under discussion is difficult to deal with, or that we are simply reluctant to jeopardize outworn or vested interests. Together with providing wrong answers to right questions this practice leads to rigidity of thought.
- If there is only one truth, why should the messages given by the different religions be so confusingly different? Why should there be so many revelations that do not agree with each other, and which all bear the hallmarks of the time and place of their conception? Are the present religions just a phase of a continuous evolution toward one universal religion?

Swami Vivekananda commented as follows:

"Had it been the will of an all-wise and all-merciful Creator that only one of the great religions should exist and the rest should die, it would have become a fact long, long ago. If there were a fact that only one of these religions was true and all the rest were false, by this time it would have covered the whole world." 1

This statement, which evidently sees the plurality of religions as natural, has a serious flaw. It does not consider the time factor. i.e. can six thousand years be considered a long, long time for God, when there are billions of years of history yet to come?

- The spiritual basis for religious tolerance is the recognition of the common source of all the world’s great faiths.
- Among the basic human rights, the right to follow one’s conscience in matters of religion and belief is undoubtedly one of the most cherished.
- Our picture of the ultimate reality is influenced by an unavoidable selection effect – that of our existence. Our human mind always sees everything from a limited and hence incomplete perspective: It is most difficult to discuss any religious issue without taking sides. In this respect, consider the damage done in religious schools, where children in their earliest years are encouraged to view life through the prism of a particular religious doctrine and cultural prejudices, thus acquiring a biased view for life.
- We are better informed that our parents and grandparents were. We must use this extra knowledge. If we want to resolve some of the difficulties religions face, our deliberations will have to be brought down from the level of theological abstractions to the level of specific problems that are urgent and typical. Some help may come from philosophy, but the expectations do not seem to be particularly bright – by its very nature, philosophy is rather inconclusive.
- Religions rarely publicize their opponents’ true views, perhaps because they might be found persuasive. It is considered far better to put a spin on things oneself, to show how absurd the opposition’s ideas are, how problematic, how dangerous. Do we really know what the early Christian heretics, such as Marcion, taught when most of what we know about him is derived from attacks on his ideas by orthodox writers' ?
- There is a widely accepted practice, primarily in academia, to base answers to religious problems upon arbitrary definitions, debatable terminology, contentious assumptions violating the basic tenets of elementary physics, and untestable notions. So far, few object to this approach.
- Although universal religion is still just an utopia, a determined attempt should be made at the reconciliation of different systems of belief, which would leave room for intelligent disagreement.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim

On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim Cover

Book review: On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim by Jeremiah How

A COMPLETE history of this Order would necessarily involve an account of most of the Rites prevalent last century which devoted themselves to Templary, Theosophic, Hermetic and Occult research. Suffice it for this article to give the reader a general impression upon the more important points of the Rite.

The leading fact is, that prior to the year 1721 some of the English Masons of the York Rite, which last century was known as a Templar Tie of Seven Degrees, were well acquainted with the ancient mystical language of those occult fraternities who boaster the gnosis, or wisdom of old Egypt, and were the, in 1721, addressed as the ‘higher class’ of Masons. The Continental brethren developed this Hermetic element to an almost incredible extent. Martinez Paschalis, who was a German, of poor parents, born about the year 1700, after having acquired a knowledge of Greek and Latin at the age of sixteen years, journeyed to Turnkey, Arabia and Damascus, and obtaining imitation into the Temple Mysteries of the East, upon his return, established a particular Order of Rose-Croix, or Elected Cohens, which influenced greatly all the Masonry of his century, and especially some of the Orders from which the Rite of Memphis drew its inspiration.

Download Jeremiah How's eBook: On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emotional Alchemy

Emotional Alchemy Image
Depends on which branch of buddism it is. some allow for relationships, some allow families, some require celibacy, and some are tantric- meaning that they practice a sacred ritual of incarnating their divine beings, and then making love with them. In Tibet, sometimes these women are called Dakini's (witch queens). In branches of Tibetian Tantra, sometimes the monks, in meditation, visualize their wisdom as small women, and then make mental love to them. It signifies that their wisdom is married to their mind.

Its hard for us to think of viewing relationships that way, but we have not successfully journeyed to the void (legally speaking). The void is a very difficult state of awareness to maintain for even minutes, much less go there frequently. The aim of this type of meditation, is to progressively approach a place where they can maintain this void-ness for increasingly longer periods of time. Buddha is venerated for two primary reasons:

he perceived the incompleteness of the various stages of enlightenment - from India and the aesthetic practice, thru the Himalyas, to Tibet, and its religion of Bon. He perceived that true Nirvana was rare and momentary. And he perceived the state beyond Nirvana - The Void, the one really true reality, composed of an absence of all things we see, know or perceive. This is refered to as the OneTrue Space, Where no form holds, and all that is perceivable is the infinite white concious, The One. The place of origin. The one thing that is real and true, and never alters form, no matter what your personal religion beleives, the one unchanging factor to exist. eternal. bliss and pure awareness in tandem, generated by love for all beings, and your desire to have them see the one true place as well.

To Acheive by due diligence., meaning, he understood what he was, what he was capable of, and what he was not capable of, and progressively practice, to exercise, if you will, to make himself fit to have the energy and focus to work to this state of voidness. To make it short, one day he, i guess, was prepared. At any rate, he (having learned how to stay alive in the flesh for months and years on water and breath.) sat down under The Bodhi Tree, and took a vow that he would not leave this place until he died or acheived enlightement - refered to as "Vanquishing the 10,000 Worlds" - leaving behind the form of flesh and mind, and keep moving, until there was nothing but nothing.
After acheiving this state - the state called Buddha, he was from then on, a living in the flesh, person who perceived from the Void of Purity, yet was able to talk to you here, and communicate to the world. To give teachings, - sutras- guides in different formats, for techniques to be used to approach this state of Buddha. The point of Buddhas teachings was to emphasize that each incarnate being - insect, critter, human, had the absolute right to also approach, to progress thru the 10,000 worlds, and that they could, with due diligence, also be of Buddha. Indeed, His Holiness Dalai Lama 14, maintains that each of us are - now - buddhas. The problem is we forget and do not remember. The plan, i guess it could be said, is that each being that enters the void - stays there, or comes home here, to aid and assist others to enter the void. Eternal Clarity does not die. the body does. Enter Eternal Clarity, then you don't notice the changing from body to purified spirit.

so back to relationships, so you can see that we, as feeling and sensual and indulgent humans, seldom find the stength to desire that kind of conciousness, so we cannot, at this stage, make decisions from that space. but we can practice.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama, wrote a book as a man, a monk in the modern world. he wanted one teaching for acheiving this state to be accessible to anyone that read it, irrespective if they were buddhist.

As a human man his name is Tenzin Gyatcho (sp.) and his book is: "The Opening Of The Wisdom Eye"

Anthropology Of Religion

Anthropology Of Religion Image
*Creation myths from all corners of the world describe the
involvement of people with the events of creation, as if
human ancestors had actually witnessed the formation of the

One of the long-standing puzzles of mythology concerns the
role of people in ancient traditions. Philosophers within
the literalist Judeo-Christian tradition have long scratched
their heads over the question how the author of the creation
story contained in Genesis 1, reputedly Moses, could have
known about the things that had transpired before the
formation of Adam on the sixth day. But a similar dilemma is
posed by the creation accounts of illiterate societies
around the world.

The drawing shown above was made in 1869 by Paiore, a man
from the Paumotu group of islands in Tuamotu, Polynesia, to
illustrate the ancestors' role in the lifting up of the
layered heavens at the time of creation. The Toba Batak
people, of Sumatra, describe the condition of the world
prior to creation as if people somehow already existed to
witness this state of chaos: "In the very beginning, in
by-gone times, when the middleworld in which we live did not
yet exist, there was only the sea; there was one sea and
there was a thick darkness, (so dense that) people could not
see their hands before their faces."

The Navaho, of Arizona, relate how the first 'people'
declared that "We must have light" to bring an end to this
perpetual night. "The first three worlds were neither good
nor healthful. They moved all the time and made the people

And speaking of the distant time when "The whole world was
" and "There was just light", long before the "separation
between Sky and Earth
", the Makiritare, of Venezuela,
observe that "the people were always happy. They had life.
They couldn't die."

'Ancestors' play a prominent role in creation myths
worldwide, closely interacting with the gods in a distant
epoch Eliade called illud tempus or 'that time'. But does
this really mean that creation myths contain genuine
information about the prehistoric activities of mankind?
Just who are these 'people' who ostensibly lived even before
the 'gods' undertook the work of creation?

The question has traditionally been treated as a
chronological problem, to the effect that human beings
according to myths worldwide have existed as long as the
world itself. To take that seriously would mean either that
humans are really billions of years old or that the world is
really just a few thousand years old - two alternatives that
are equally absurd and unscientific. On a catastrophist
paradigm, the conundrum can be resolved far more easily. Two
complementary and often overlapping solutions present

First, if the mythical set of events collectively known as
'creation stories' is not really about the absolute physical
origins of the universe, the earth and life on earth, but
about the latest in a series of catastrophic episodes in the
recent history of the planet, accompanied by major
instabilities in the geomagnetic field, it becomes only
natural that ancient descriptions of these turbulent events
read like eye-witness accounts. If the acts of creation were
really cosmic occurrences happening during the Holocene, the
prehistoric races of mankind would have observed what
transpired. Interpreting these drastically transformative
events as the creation of a new earth and a new sky -
perhaps in a historical succession of such events - the
paradox of people seeing how the gods made the world,
including mankind itself, would present itself inevitably.

And second, the 'people' that were apparently engaged in
supernatural activities, such as an ascent to the sky by
means of the axis mundi, need not really have been human
beings of flesh and blood. Euhemerism is an early school of
mythology that held that the protagonists of the ancient
myths - the gods and certainly the 'ancestors' - were really
human beings whose deeds had been exaggerated.

Yet in a way, it would be nave to interpret such
'ancestors' literally as members of the species Homo
sapiens, tantamount to explaining the cosmological role of
the feathered serpent or the ouroboros in reptilian terms.
This impression is easily dismantled from the
anthropological perspective of 'totemism'.

Traditional societies almost without exception identified
and worshipped their legendary 'ancestors' not only in the
form of human beings, but of animals, plants and countless
other aspects of nature, based on a fundamental belief that
humans are really animals and vice versa. Thus, a wallaby
clan in indigenous Australia would regard themselves as
wallabies, sprung from a wallaby ancestor, and so on.
Against this background, traditions about 'ancestors' and
'early people' need not necessarily refer to real people
after all.

The 'people' populating the mythical world at the time of
creation are characterised by two key features: They are as
easily situated on the surface of the earth as in the sky,
moving up and down along the axis mundi and in close rapport
with the gods. And they are often interchangeable with the
'stars', being described as the 'stars' at the time they
still lived on earth or, conversely, as 'people' before they
turned into stars.

The universal obsession with myths of catasterism springs
from the archaic idea that the stars are 'sky people'
opposed to us 'earth people', who had to die and 'go to
' to reach that state. Making the shortest shrift of
Von Dniken-like scenarios involving 'aliens' coming down
from space, this analysis offers the promising insight that
the 'people' of creation were actually luminous forms seen
in the sky.

It has been proposed that the axis mundi, along with other
archetypal features of the mythical landscape, was a
semi-permanent formation of glowing plasma seen in the
earth's atmosphere and ionosphere at a time that the
geomagnetic field suffered from severe instabilities. The
'people' observed in and around the world axis - who are
also described as 'seeds', 'ancestors', 'animals', 'stars'
and so on - will have been little sparks of glowing plasma
that were emitted by the central column like meteors issued
in meteor showers.

Both in the laboratory and in space, plasma has been known
to behave in a surprisingly life-like way, as if imbued with
a will of its own. The surprisingly life-like properties of
these little blobs of star-like lights will have contributed
to their incorporation into human memories as the first
'people' doing divine deeds in the era of creation. With the
progression of time, the actual ancestors, who were the
anonymous earth-bound eyewitnesses to the plasma spectacles,
will have been confounded with these more proactive and
rather less 'ordinary' celestial ancestors.

Contributed by Rens Van der Sluijs

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Robert Ellwood - The Encyclopedia Of World Religions
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations

The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations Cover

Book: The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations by Paracelsus

THE COELUM PHILOSOPHORUM, OR BOOK OF VEXATIONS; By PHILIPPUS THEOPHRASTUS PARACELSUS. THE SCIENCE AND NATURE OF ALCHEMY, AND WHAT OPINION SHOULD BE FORMED THEREOF. Regulated by the Seven Rules or Fundamental Canons according to the seven commonly known Metals; and containing a Preface with certain Treatises and Appendices.

YOU who are skilled in Alchemy, and as many others as promise yourselves great riches or chiefly desire to make gold and silver, which Alchemy in different ways promises and teaches; equally, too, you who willingly undergo toil and vexations, and wish not to be freed from them, until you have attained your rewards, and the fulfilment of the promises made to you; experience teaches this every day, that out of thousands of you not even one accomplishes his desire. Is this a failure of Nature or of Art? I say, no; but it is rather the fault of fate, or of the unskilfulness of the operator. Since, therefore, the characters of the sign of the stars and planets of heaven, together with the other names, inverted words, receipts, materials, and instruments are thoroughly well known to such as are acquainted with this art, it would be altogether superfluous to recur to these same subjects in the present book, although the use of such signs, names, and characters at the proper time is by no means without advantage.

But herein will be noticed another way of treating Alchemy different from the previous method, and deduced by Seven Canons from the sevenfold series of the metals. This, indeed, will not give scope for a pompous parade of words, but, nevertheless, in the consideration of those Canons everything which should be separated from Alchemy will be treated at sufficient length, and, moreover, many secrets of other things are herein contained. Hence, too, result certain marvellous speculations and new operations which frequently differ from the writings and opinions of ancient operators and natural philosophers, but have been discovered and confirmed by full proof and experimentation.

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Taoism The Road To Immortality

Taoism The Road To Immortality Cover

Book review: Taoism The Road To Immortality by John Blofeld

This was one of the first books I read on Taoism which described the Taoist life as it actually was lived. Although a scholarly work at heart, like all of Blofeld'd books, it never ceases to delight with wonderful anecdotes and descriptions. Blofeld has a gift for taking what seems at times to be dry, esoteric stuff, breathing life into it and making it shine.

A religion with roots stretching back nearly five thousand years, Taoism combines elements of folklore, occult sciences, cosmology, yoga, meditation, poetry, and exalted mysticism. Mysterious and charmingly poetic, it is a living remnant of a way of life which has almost vanished from the world.

In this comprehensive study, John Blofeld explains the fundamental concepts of Taoism, tells many stories of ancient masters, and provides incisive reflections on Taoist verse. He writes in a colorful and unique way about his visits to Taoist hermitages in China and his interchanges with contemporary masters. Taoist yoga, a little known aspect of Taoist practice, is also discussed in detail. This book captures the spirit of the Tao, communicating the serenity and timeless wisdom of this tradition.

This book is a treasure, a gift, meant to be savored, and read with the care and sensitivity which thankfully produced it. As noted, Blofeld is a wonderful writer, a sedulous scholar, a first-hand observer, and a gifted story-teller.

Find John Blofeld's book in
Taoism The Road To Immortality

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition

Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition Cover

Book: Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition by Robert Mathiesen

This is an extract from: Byzantine Magic edited by Henry Maguire © 1995 Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University Washington, D.C. Printed in the United States of America published by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection Washington, D.C.

Ethnographers and folklorists interested in the Orthodox Slays have long been aware of the rich oral traditions of magic in that part of the world, and have been collecting and studying texts of magical foildore for well over a century.
Particularly valuable are the extensive collections of East Slavic folk incantations published long ago by L. Majkov and by N. Vinogradov, but South Slavic materials are also available in quantity.

Philologists and historians, in sharp contrast, have paid little systematic attention to the corresponding written traditions of magic and the Occult Sciences among the medieval Orthodox Slays. Some Magical Texts havebeenpublished,
and others studied, but always only in passing, by scholars who were pursuing other interests, such as describing manuscripts or editing texts for the historical study of literature, language, the Bible, liturgy, church history, the
sciences—in short, of anything and everything except magic in its own right. This neglect of magic as a subject of scholarship is only partly the consequence of a kind of rationalistic or scientific distaste for magic itself, or of
discomfort in the presence of magicians who took their magic seriously. It is also due to the intractability of the magical texts themselves.

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Books in PDF format to read:

Donald Tyson - The Magican Workbook Practicing The Rituals Of The Western Tradition
Marcus Cordey - Magical Theory And Tradition
Robert Mathiesen - Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Telepathy And The Etheric Vehicle

Telepathy And The Etheric Vehicle Cover

Book: Telepathy And The Etheric Vehicle by Alice Bailey

Occultism is concerned with the scientific facts behind the spiritual idealisms many accept because of a natural human tendency to idealise. One of the most highly idealised concepts is that of the brotherhood of man. Occultism shows that the scientific basis for that ideal rests on the fact of the one etheric structure underlying all forms within the solar system, energised and held in being by one life force. Mankind is, therefore, one in life and in form; he is merely unaware of unity in his own consciousness. And evolution is essentially the means by which he becomes progressively conscious of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. In this whole process the faculties of man play an important part - the five objective senses with their five higher spiritual counterparts. The mental principle or faculty is of tremendous importance to humanity at this stage in his evolutionary unfoldment. The three-fold mind unifies as one faculty the higher or abstract mind, the soul - the son of mind, and the lower concrete mind. As this condition of mental fusion and control develops, the disciple is learning to use the mind in new ways, particularly in wielding energy which, as it vitalises and animates his etheric body, influences through radiation his effect on others. It is through this conscious, controlled use of mental energy that telepathic communication can be scientifically established with other minds by means of the etheric structure common to all. And by the same means the mind of the disciple, or of a group of disciples developing group consciousness, can be impressed by the clarity of thought and purpose of those members of the spiritual Hierarchy concerned with the working out of the Plan for humanity.

The spiritual Hierarchy, we are told, works only through the minds of disciples, using the science of impression, and only for the purposes of the Plan. The impression is conveyed as a stream of ideas - those ideas inherent in the Plan for man - which the disciple or the group can then interpret and translate into self-chosen action. The form of telepathy now developing within the spiritually awakened aspirants of the world is not, therefore, that of the solar plexus centre which is of the animal nature, but the result of a mental polarisation and penetration in consciousness towards the soul and the Triad. This produces an open channel of communication in two directions - vertically towards the spiritual Hierarchy of the planet, seeking to impress the Plan on all receptive minds, and horizontally towards the minds of men united within the mental substance of human consciousness as one. The second part of this book discusses the etheric structure of the planet and the solar system of which each man and each form is an integral part; the pattern of the triangle in controlling energy flow and establishing a continuity of circulation through the whole system is of immediate importance to humanity. We are involved in the life of the Planetary Logos - in Him we live and move and have our being - and we are a contributing part of the present effort to bring the etheric body under the influence of the soul, symbolised by the triangle. To the extent, and at the rate, that we succeed, so is the planetary etheric structure changing in form to become more consciously integrated into the energy system of which our planet is one small unit. So the living process of unity is exemplified - the part contributing to the whole, and the whole affecting the part through every cell and atom of every grade of substance which it contains. Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle is part of a set of 24 books by Alice A. Bailey, written in cooperation with a Tibetan teacher between 1919-1949, constitute a continuation of the Ageless Wisdom--a body of esoteric teaching handed down from ancient times.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

A Dream Of Gnostic Christianity Buddhism

A Dream Of Gnostic Christianity Buddhism Image
The Essenes were a progressive sect -- the first monastic Jews influenced by BUDDHISM IN FARAWAY KASHMIR, which had a significant Jewish population ("Jesus in India, "Kersten Holger).

ELAINE PAGELS and her scholarship on THE LOST GOSPELS has painted a much more sympathetic and sensible picture of original Christianity than the "Church Fathers" or secretive Vatican officials. What were the patriarchs hiding when they covered up the Buddhist-Christian connection?

BBC documentary examines the question, "Did Jesus Die?" At minute 25 it takes a very logical and grounded turn with surprising conclusions that demonstrate that the "Three Wise Men" were Buddhist monks who found Jesus (a "tulku") and returned for him near puberty. They trained him in a Buddhist monastery (Hemis Gompa), and he spread the Buddhist philosophy, survived the crucifixion, and escaped back to a Jewish enclave in Kashmir, Afghanistan, where he died at the age of 80.

There had never been anything like celibate monasticism in Judaism. Lone hermits going into the desert was learned from the mystical East, influenced by Buddhist shamanism ("shraman", "recluse" wandering asceticism) that ran counter to corrupt temple-priest craft (Brahmanism).

Inspiring Wisdom Quarterly follower M. BEGUINE is a Gnostic Christian following the tradition of the Apostolic Johannite Church. She is living out her religious vocation as a solitary recluse in private vows in the spirit of Mary Theotokos, Mary Magdalene, Brighid of Ireland, and Dorothy Day with special places of honor for Julian of Norwich and Hildegard von Bingen.

Her apostolate is mainly intercessory prayer and supporting and participating in her parish. Presently, she is in the process of adapting a hermitical RULE TO LIFE ("Vinaya") to her particular circumstances and conditions involving health and location.

She lives in a major urban area in a large high-rise apartment building rather than the common dream of many city dwellers, a more rural setting. She is excited to be at the beginning of a religious formation laying out the plans and structure of her chosen vocation. Read more about her adventure at (G)NOSTIC NUNNERY.

(Gnostic Teachings) Why were ancient Christian texts buried -- and why have they remained virtually unknown for nearly 2,000 years? Their suppression as banned documents, and their burial on the cliff at Nag Hammadi, it turns out, were both part of a struggle critical for the formation of early Christianity. The Nag Hammadi and other texts, which circulated at the beginning of the Christian era, were denounced as heresy by orthodox Christians in the middle of the 2nd century. "We have known that many early followers of Christ were condemned by other Christians as heretics, but nearly all we knew about them came from what their opponents wrote attacking them - Elaine Pagels, "The Gnostic Gospels" (New York: Vintage, 1989).

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Panchanga Tantra The Magic Of The Indian Calendar System

Panchanga Tantra The Magic Of The Indian Calendar System Cover

Book: Panchanga Tantra The Magic Of The Indian Calendar System by Regulagedda Akshay

The fable of Apara Ganita and the Mystical Garden of Enchanted Numbers is obviously fictional. The inspiration is Leelavati Ganitam, a chapter in the ancient mathematical treatise, the Siddhanta Siromani, written by Bhaskaracharya in 1150CE. The Leelavati Ganitam is fascinating not only for its treatment of indeterminate analysis and a method to solve Pell’s Equation, but also, as a Canadian university’s website on mathematical history puts it, for its poetic conversation between the narrator and a narratee named Leelavati1. The similarity between this poetic construct and the conversation between Apara Ganita and the dwara palika is probably noticeable. Frame stories are not common for scientific research papers, but they certainly have a historical precedent.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Book Of The Words

The Book Of The Words Cover

Book: The Book Of The Words by Albert Pike

Here's Pike at his best! Masonry is permeated with powerful symbolism-both verbal and pictorial-that arouses the mental, spiritual, and intellectual life of those who use them. This extremely interesting study, once limited to 150 copies, gives the correct spelling of, and analyzes all the "significant words" (pass words, etc.) in, the Scottish Rite from the 1st through 30th degrees inclusive. In addition to being an etymological dictionary Pike explains WHY any given word was chosen for a given degree thereby revealing THE HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF EACH WORD. Illustrated and highly recommended!

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Constitutions Of The Freemasons 1734

The Constitutions Of The Freemasons 1734 Cover

Book: The Constitutions Of The Freemasons 1734 by James Anderson

This is an online electronic edition of the the first Masonic book printed in America, which was produced in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, and was a reprint of a work by James Anderson (who is identified as the author in an appendix) printed in London in 1723. This is the seminal work of American Masonry, edited and published by one of the founding fathers, and of great importance to the development of colonial society and the formation of the Republic.

The work contains a 40-page history of Masonry: from Adam to the reign of King George I, including, among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Hiram Abif, Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus Caesar, Vitruvius, King Athelstan the Saxon, Inigo Jones, and James I of England. There are extended descriptions of the Seven Wonders of the World, viz. 1) the Great Pyramid, 2) Solomon’s Temple, 3) the City and Hanging-Gardens of Babylon, 4) the Mausoleum or Tomb of Mausolus, King of Caria, 5) the Lighthouse of Pharos at Alexandria, 6) Phidias’s statue of Jupiter Olympius in Achaia, and 7) the Colossus at Rhodes (although some maintain the 5th is the Obelisk of Semiramis).

It is a celebration of the science of Geometry and the Royal Art of Architecture, as practiced from ancient times until the then-current revival of the Roman or Augustan Style. “The Charges of a Free-Mason” and the “General Regulations” concern rules of conduct for individuals and of governance for Lodges and their officers. The work also includes five songs to be sung at meetings, one of which—“A New Song”—appears in print for the first time and may have been composed by Franklin.

The document suggests that Masonry, in its modern Anglo-American form, was rooted in Old Testament exegesis (“So that the Israelites, at their leaving Egypt, were a whole Kingdom of Masons, under the Conduct of their GRAND MASTER MOSES”) and in contemporary Protestant ideals of morality, merit, and political equality.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Buddhism Finds New Home In United States

Buddhism Finds New Home In United States Image
It's a beautiful Sunday morning. And while many people are on their way to the local Christian church, members of the Saddhama Vipassana Meditation Center are venturing 45 minutes outside of Richmond city limits to Louisa County. The SVM Center is a new Buddhist monastery. The members, mostly Vietnamese-American families, sit cross legged on the floor awaiting the morning sermon.

It's not only Asian Americans celebrating Buddhism. Despite popular western religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, many people from all nationalities in the United States are finding comfort in Eastern religions, specifically Buddhism. These people have various stories and reasons for the unfamiliar lifestyle. But most of the reasons come down to one basic answer.

"Buddhism is a way of living. By 'a way of living,' I mean that you don't have to become anything. You could be a Christian practicing Buddhism, because it's just a way of living. That's it, there's no title, there's no name for it..."

by Porterjl (Ground Report, Feb. 7, 2010)

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