Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taoism Two Of My Favorite Taoist Passages

Taoism Two Of My Favorite Taoist Passages Image
If someone were to ask me who my favorite philosopher was, I'd say it was Chuang-tzu (known as Jang-ja in Korean). Lao-tzu's "Tao Te Ching" may be more well-known than the "Chuang-tzu," but both works should be taken together as complementary: the dead-seriousness of Lao-tzu needs the lively playfulness of Chuang-tzu.

From each work I have a favorite quote. Let's start with the "Tao Te Ching," which contains one of the most powerful summations of the religious outlook I've ever encountered. From Chapter 29:

Try to make this sacred world

into more than what it is,

and you ruin it.

Try to grasp it,

and you lose it.

It's a concise statement of reality's dynamism, and of how useless it is to hold on to things or people. Like trying to grasp water by tightening one's fist, such an attempt is doomed to fail. You can't grasp reality and force it to stop: you're part of reality, and you're moving, too!

The "Chuang-tzu," though, it more humorous in its approach to the question of how we relate to ultimate reality. Through words and concepts, the classic demonstrates the "uselessness" of words and concepts when you're attempting to integrate yourself with the Absolute. In that spirit, then, my favorite passage from the "Chuang-tzu:"

Now I am going to tell you something...

There is a beginning. There is no beginning of that beginning. There is no beginning of that no beginning of beginning. There is something before the beginning of something and nothing, and something before that. Suddenly there is something and nothing. But between something and nothing, I still don't really know which is something and which is nothing. Now, I've just said something, but I don't really know whether I've said anything or not.

--"Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters," translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, 1974, p. 35

Zen Buddhism, which often takes its cue from philosophical Taoism, speaks of the nondualistic, nondiscursive "don't-know mind," or "beginner's mind," that makes life worth living. In the Christian Bible, the Sermon on the Mount alludes to this non-discriminatory state when Jesus says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:14, Matthew 19:14) Jesus isn't speaking of the "childish" mindset, but of the "childlike" mindset-- one that doesn't waste time and energy drawing boundaries and creating separation.

A recent Korean Seon (Zen) proverb that can be seen on the wall of Hwagye-sa, a temple in Seoul, says, "All 24 hours of the day, don't make anything." The "making," in this case, means the manufacturing of dualistic boundaries: this and that, yes and no, you and me, etc. Such boundaries may have their uses on a practical level, but they obscure the fundamental nonduality of reality.

We're all part of Something Bigger. Whatever that Something is, it's moving. We can't hold on to it, and it's folly to try to explain it. Sure, we can try-- but that Something will elude our grasping minds every time. Better to go with the flow, no?

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yoga For The Body Buddhism For The Heart

Yoga For The Body Buddhism For The Heart Image


Yoga is a total-body workout that will tone and slim more than you might think. JILLIAN MICHAELS'S TOP POSES - LEARN TO LOVE YOGA - 5 LOW-INTENSITY WORKOUTS - WHAT IS YOGA, EXACTLY?


This Wheel of Life ("Samsara") represents all of existence. ["Heaven" is the Deva Realm.] The center axis represents Buddha consciousness, the transcendent fullness of wisdom and compassion. As the wheel turns within the jaws of death, life becomes experiences within each of the dimensions, churned by greed, hatred, and ignorance [delusion].

As Buddha's visionary experience provided a foundation for his awakening, I will interpret and expand upon details of this journey. Since the experience encompasses dimensions related to all existence, mystics throughout the world have somehow connected to these realms.

(Aspects of spiritual experiences are often interpreted from personal perceptions within a cultural and religious context.)

...Within the completeness of perfection, [the Buddha] saw the beauty of everything within life. The simplest rocks appeared like the most valuable metals or jewels. Water seemed to flow through everything, connecting a source of light within all forms. Plants, animals, and humans interacted with joyous harmony. How could he possibly describe this fullness of bliss? Waves of love washed within each breath.

by Aaron Scot

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Buddhism Thrives As China Relaxes Policy

Buddhism Thrives As China Relaxes Policy Image
WUTAISHAN, China - Temples thrive, monks travel far and wide in search of enlightenment, the faithful fill the halls of veneration -- after decades of official atheist policies, Buddhism is making a huge comeback in China.

Nowhere is this revival more apparent than at Wutaishan, the most important of China's four "holy mountains" and home to a sprawling complex of temples, 180 miles (300 kms) southwest of the capital, Beijing.

"I have come to study at Wutaishan because Zen Buddhism, Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, all the different schools from different places, are represented here and mixed together," itinerant monk Master Shi told AFP. "This is the Buddhist holy land. Buddhist monks and nuns from all over China want to come here to study."

Shi, with a shaved head and wearing a grey robe, has visited temples throughout China in search of Buddhist knowledge, repeating a pilgrimage undertaken by generations of monks before him. Besides studying Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa (Tibet), he has visited the Hongfa Temple in Guangdong, south China, and been to the White Horse Temple -- China's oldest Buddhist temple -- in Henan province in the center of the country.

Interest in Buddhism has grown dramatically since the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, a period of communist zeal when religion was largely banned, the clergy persecuted, and many temples and monasteries destroyed. In stark contrast to this era -- during the opening and reform era of the last 30 years -- the totalitarian state has largely allowed religion to develop, albeit within strict parameters.

For decades, the communist-run State Administration for Religious Affairs has said there were "only" about 100 million religious believers in China. But state press reports have recently said that number has grown to 300 million.

In late June, Wutaishan was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nation's cultural arm UNESCO, a move expected to bring more visitors to this holy shrine that houses some of China's oldest Buddhist manuscripts. Currently 53 temples house monks and nuns, while the ruins of more than 150 temples are scattered around hillside terraces or isolated on remote mountain tops. The earliest temples date back to the first century when Buddhism first arrived to China from India.

"Twenty years ago, as we started recovering from the Cultural Revolution, the total number of monks here was just a few hundred," said Yi Bo, spokesman for the Wutaishan Buddhist Association. "Since then Buddhism has not stopped developing. More and more monks have come. The numbers hit 1,000, then 2,000, then 3,000. Three years ago we hit 5,000." At that time the government stepped in and began restricting the number of monks who could study here, he said.

Meanwhile, 2.8 million visitors came to Wutaishan in 2008, bringing in 1.4 billion yuan (roughly 206 million U.S. dollars) in tourist revenues, according to government figures. This year more than 3.1 million visitors are expected.

"The government supports us mainly with policy, but funding for our growth mainly comes from donations from the Buddhist faithful," said Miao Yi, a nun at the Buddhist Institute at the Pushou Temple, China's largest convent.

More than 600 nuns are studying in the Buddhist Institute, which has received generous funding from Buddhists in Hong Kong and Taiwan [prosperious semi-autonomous regions that have seen extraordinary rises in Buddhist affiliation and practice], she said. Still the government remains wary over religion and monks here refused to discuss Tibetan Buddhism or its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who once asked communist leaders if he could make a pilgrimage to Wutaishan's ten Lama temples.

"We must work to support patriotism and national unity. We must embrace the leaders of the Communist Party and the socialist system," Gen Tong, a senior Buddhist leader said on the occasion of 50th anniversary of the Wutaishan Buddhist Association in late 2007. "In the past, [the rulers] of different dynasties were all impressive emperors and were all devout Buddhists," said association spokesman Yi Bo.

If Chinese communist leaders were allowed to publicly adhere to Buddhism, he said, "for sure it would bring a huge benefit to us," he said. --Additional editing by WQ

by Robert J. Saiget

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sumerian Lexicon

Sumerian Lexicon Cover

Book: Sumerian Lexicon by John Alan Halloran

The Sumerian Lexicon by John Alan Halloran is a well-known tool among the new generation of scholars and students, who have downloaded and consulted it (from the web site since the very beginning of the project in 1999. The published version here under review collects 6,400 entries bringing together the lexical contributions of the last half-century of Sumerian studies. Regrettably, the provided list of 96 sources, inexplicably not arranged by year or author but by date of use. is de facto of little use. This printed version of the Sumerian Lexicon improves the electronic Version 3.0 by adding 2,600 new entries, as well as correcting and expanding many of the previous entries and features.

The concise dictionary provides word definition, hamtu and maru forms for some verbs, extensive cross-references to M.-L. Thomsen's The Sumerian Language (Copenhagen 1984), notations of Archaic Frequency of the signs and Emesal equivalents in addition to the main forms. A tentative etymology is sometimes given after a word definition. Perhaps the strongest point of the book is the wide range of actually-used meanings for each word and the large number of entries which makes the lexicon suitable for all kind of research, from the study of pure administrative documents to the analysis of literary texts. On the other hand, the author himself is well aware of the major shortcomings (see the Introduction) of the Sumerian Lexicon: it does not take into account the diachronic development or synchronic variation of the language and it does not quote any examples of word usage. Moreover, the author does not state from which of the sources he derives a particular meaning. However, it would be unfair to ask Halloran's Sumerian Lexicon to go beyond its author's intentions: an encyclopaedic description of the Sumerian language is still a desideratum and it not only requires group effort to be achieved but also the support of future linguistic studies of Sumerian which give fuller consideration to diachronic and synchronic changes. To conclude. Halloran's important book deserves our highest appreciation and gratitude as a highly useful and user-friendly tool ad usum Delphini as well as for experienced Assyriologists and scholars in different fields approaching the "obscure" Sumerian language and literature. --Orientalia Vol. 77 Fasc. 1 (2008)

With 6,400 entries, this is the most complete available lexicon of ancient Sumerian vocabulary. It replaces version 3 of the author's Sumerian Lexicon, which has served an audience of over 380,000 visitors since 1999. This published version adds over 2,600 new entries, and corrects or expands many of the previous entries. Also, following the express wish of a majority of online lexicon users, it has merged together and sorted the logogram words and the compound words into purely alphabetical order. This book will be an indispensable reference for anyone trying to translate Sumerian texts. Also, due to the historical position of ancient Sumer as the world's first urban civilisation, cultural and linguistic archaeologists will discover a wealth of information for research.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Of Spells

Book Of Spells Cover

Book: Book Of Spells by Anonymous

Presenting many spells from many different times and cultures, this book features enticing, exotic, and sometimes slightly erotic magic spells to help readers prosper at work, at play, or in love. This book is a good way to learn about craft and is a good book for people who know more than a little about "witchcraft", or a good book for kids who know a lot more, and want to do some really kick a** spells... but its not a good book for VERY experianced "witches". I reccomend this book because it has spells that really work, but they only work if you are serious, and are good at concentrating and BEING serious, not being wild and hiper during the spell... it is only for mature people who know what they are doing... It does require you go out shopping once in a while, or go to parks and get materials, but most of the things are things that most people already have on hand... Buy this book but be carful and use them right. HAVE FUN!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Toward Homo Noeticus

Toward Homo Noeticus Cover

Book: Toward Homo Noeticus by John White

An interview with John White by Craig Hamilton. Envisioning the earth's future is an exercise in paradox. For while it's hard to imagine a future planet earth dominated by anything other than Homo sapiens, it is perhaps equally hard, given our current course of multilateral destruction, to imagine just what kind of future the earth will have if Homo sapiens continues to dominate. In our quest to find out if and how enlightenment might resolve our global predicament, we came across one intriguing thinker who has dared to stretch his own imagination through and beyond this apparent double bind and has arrived at a solution that is nothing short of evolutionary. According to consciousness researcher John White, despite all trends to the contrary, humanity and the earth do indeed have the makings of a promising future together. But the form of human being that will be here to participate is a primate of a very different order than the human as we know it today. He calls it Homo noeticus—the next step in human evolution.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Babylonian And Assyrian Literature

Babylonian And Assyrian Literature Cover

Book review: Babylonian And Assyrian Literature by Anonymous

The great nation which dwelt in the seventh century before our era on the banks of Tigris and Euphrates flourished in literature as well as in the plastic arts, and had an alphabet of its own. The Assyrians sometimes wrote with a sharp reed, for a pen, upon skins, wooden tablets, or papyrus brought from Egypt. In this case they used cursive letters of a Phoenician character. But when they wished to preserve their written documents, they employed clay tablets, and a stylus whose bevelled point made an
impression like a narrow elongated wedge, or arrow-head. By a combination of these wedges, letters and words were formed by the skilled and practised scribe, who would thus rapidly turn off a vast amount of "copy."

All works of history, poetry, and law were thus written in the cuneiform or old Chaldean characters, and on a substance which could withstand the ravages of time, fire, or water. Hence we have authentic monuments of Assyrian literature in their original form, unglossed, unaltered, and ungarbled, and in this respect Chaldean records are actually superior to those of the Greeks, the Hebrews, or the Romans.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Sepher Yetzirah

The Sepher Yetzirah Cover

Book: The Sepher Yetzirah by William Wynn Westcott

The Sepher Yetzirah is one of the most famous of the ancient
Qabalistic texts. It was first put into writing around 200 C.E. Westcott Translation of the Sepher Yetzirah was a primary source for the rituals and Knowledge Lectures of the Golden Dawn. This is the Third Edition of Westcott’s translation, first published in 1887. A Fourth Revised Edition of the Sepher Yetzirah by Darcy Kuntz, complete with Hebrew text, notes and bibliography, is available from Holmes Publishing Group, P.O. 623, Edmonds, WA 98020.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," or "Book of Formation," is perhaps the oldest Rabbinical treatise of Kabalistic philosophy which is still extant. The great interest which has been evinced of late years in the Hebrew Kabalah, and the modes of thought and doctrine allied to it, has induced me to translate this tractate from the original Hebrew texts, and to collate with them the Latin versions of mediaeval authorities; and the author also published An Introduction to the Kabalah which may be found useful to students.
The "Sepher Yetzirah," although this name means "The Book of Formation," is not in any sense a narrative of Creation, or a substitute Genesis, but is an ancient and instructive philosophical treatise upon one aspect of the origin of the universe and mankind; an aspect at once archaic and essentially Hebrew. The grouping of the processes of origin into an arrangement, at once alphabetic and numeral, is one only to be found in Semitic authors.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spiritual Chivalry Futtuwah In Sufi Way

Spiritual Chivalry Futtuwah In Sufi Way Image
And they feed, for the love of God, the poor, the orphan... (saying),"we feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks".

- The Quran 76:8

"Chivalry means being fair to others, while not expecting fairness in return" - Abu Has Haddad

"Spiritual chivalry means to restrain yourself from causing trouble while giving freely." - Junyad

"Spiritual chivalry means that native and foreigner are the same to you." - Muhammad ibn Ali al-Tirmidihi

"Love all and hate none. Mere talk of peace will avail you naught. Mere talk of God and religion will not take you far. Bring out all the latent powers of your being and reveal the full magnificence of your immortal self.

Be overflowing with peace and joy, and scatter them wherever you are and wherever you go.... Never refuse to bless and help the needy and the poor, the widow, and the orphan, if they come to your door. This is your mission, to serve the people."

- from the final discourse of Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti to his students, one month before his death.

Before Islam appeared, the tradition of chivalry (javanmardi in persian, futuwwaht in arabic) in the Middle East was maintained through the training of men to be chevaliers.

The tradition of chivalry involved consideration for others (morowwat), self-sacrifice (ithar), devotion (fada-kari), the helping of the unfortunate and unprotected, kindness towards all created beings, keeping one's word and self-effacement - all qualities that were later to emerge as the noble attributes of the perfect human being from the point of view of Sufism.

In addition to these attributes of a true human being, the chevaliers were committed to a particular code of etiquette and conventions, from which the main objective and principles of chivalry or javanmardi were derived.

With the appearance of Islam, these chevaliers embraced the religion of Islam while retaining the conventions of chivalry, thereby founding the creed of Sufism on the basis of both Islam and chivalry. Thus, the etiquette of the chevaliers became part of the practice of the khaniqah and of the Sufis.

Gradually, as the philosophy of the Unity of Being (wahdato'l-wojud) and divine love were made more profound and appealing by Sufi masters, the tradition of chivalry, hand-in-hand with it, gained an extraordinary influence and currency. The spirit of Sufism consisted of focusing one's gaze in one direction (towards God) through the power of love, and its method was to cultivate a humane code of ethics, which was equated with that of the chevaliers.

Sufism, then, has both an outward and an inward aspect: its inward aspect consists of traveling the Path and traversing its stations to attain the level of subsistence-through-God (baqa'). Its outward aspect consists of the tradition of chivalry, which constitutes the development of the attributes of perfect human beings.

Sufis must know that they are the standard-bearers of the school of humanity and of the tradition of chivalry in the world today, and they must not allow modern civilization to destroy noble human qualities-a civilization which, from the outward point of view, raises human beings to the greatest heights, while at the same time lowering their inward qualities to a level beneath that of animals. - Chivalry from the writing of Javad Nurbaksh, may God be pleased with him

:: The Golden Tradition of Islamic Chivalry

It is said that the one who exemplified Islamic chivalry in the way of the Holy Prophet, may Peace and Blessings be upon him, most perfectly was Hazreti Ali ibn Abi Talib. There is a story of Imam Ali, may God be pleased with him, that gives us an idea of the spiritual power and sheer faith that it takes to embody Islamic chivalry,

"The perfect example of this level of control and chivalry is demonstrated by the conduct of Hadrat Ali ibn Abu Talib a companion of the Prophe who once, in the midst of battle was about to slay his opponent. As he raised his sword to strike, his enemy spat in his face. Hadrat Ali immediately dropped his sword, refused to strike and walked away from his enemy in the battlefield, "what is wrong with you, why do you not strike?" the man asked. "Because before you spat at me I was fighting you for the sake of Allah Almighty" Ali replied, "but after you spat I was fighting you because I was angry - and as a muslim I can only fight for Allah, never for my own Nafs."

"Upon hearing this, Ali's opponent recongnized the nobility ">via Siafuddin's blog Inheriting A Lifestyle of Islamic Chivalry

Chivalry (futtuwa) and courtesy (adab) are actually essential parts of the Sufi path. Sufism's inward aspect consists of traveling the Path and the traversing its stations to attain the level of subsistence-through-God (baqa). Its outward aspect consists of the tradition of chivalry which constitutes the development of the attributes of perfect humans.

Abdul-Husayn ibn Sam' un on the broad meaning of futuwwah:

"[It] means opposing and arguing little, being fair; preventing errors in oneself and not criticizing the errors of others; trying to correct one's faults; accepting accusations; enduring troubles caused by others; lowering one's ego; being pleasant to both the old and the young, doing good deeds, giving good advice, and accepting advice; loving one's friends; and bearing peacefully with one's enemies."

The classic writing by sufi saint and scholar Ibn Al-Husayn al-Sulami - The Way of Sufi Chivalry, has been used since the tenth century as code of conduct for Chivarly. Here many spiritual masters share their experience of futuwwah. In Arabic, fata literally means a handsome, brave youth. Following the use of the term in the Holy Koran it came to be associated with an ideal, noble person whose hospitality and generosity would enable him to always put others above oneself.

According to Sufis, futuwwah is a state of mind that is animated by selflessness, compassion, kindness, and altruism. This behavior was modeled by the Prophet Muhammad and by other friends and lovers of Allah. The word that describes the Sufi brand of chivalry is adab. They see it as "a continuous act of devotion, for it is a method of constant remembrance of God."

"Alaa inna awliya-ullahi laa khawfan 'alayhim wa laa hum yahzanoon"

"Nay they are the Friends of God, no fear shall come upon them neither shall they grieve." - The Quran, Surah Yunus, 62

What are some of the marks of this code of conduct? Here are a few:

o Be satisfied with little for yourself, and wish much for others.

o Instead of seeking the faults of others, look at your own faults.

o Respond to cruelty with kindness, and do not punish for error.

o Bring joy into the lives of your friends and meet their needs.

o Prefer the well-being and comfort of your brothers over your own, and relieve them of their difficulties.

o The host should serve everything he has to his brother. Even if he has only a drop of water left, he should serve that.

"When the Light of the Heart reflected on the Beauty of the Face that beauty is Futuwwah (Chivalry)". - Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami

"A friend of God must have affection like the Sun. When the sun rises, it is beneficial to all irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Christian, or Hindu.

A friend of God must be generous like a river. We all get water from the river to quench our thirst. It does not discriminate whether we are good or bad or whether we are a relation or a stranger.

A friend of God must display the hospitality like the earth. We are raised and cradled in its lap, and yet it is always under our feet."

- Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Buddhist Story The Anger Eating Demon

Buddhist Story The Anger Eating Demon Image
Updated tale retold by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera (author of the BUDDHIST DICTIONARY)

"Demon" ("asura") on Sakka's throne eating anger of the sky-"devas "(mooligaisidhan)

THE ANGER-EATING DEMON (RETOLD)Ven. Nyanaponika, Wisdom Quarterly edit, SN 22 (Grouped Discourses)

Once there lived a "demon" (ASURA) who had a peculiar diet: He fed on the anger of others.

His feeding ground was the human world. And there was no lack of food for him. For he found it easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national even racial hatred. So to stir up a willingness for combatants to fight was not very difficult. Whenever he succeeded, he could gorge himself during a war without much further effort. Once war is started, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people.

The demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from overeating, being content with gnawing on a small piece of resentment here and there.

Spaceport 33 (the "Tavatimsa akasha-deva" world)

But as often happens as a result of success, he became overbearing. One day feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the DEVAS [shining ones]?"

Reflecting on where best to feed, he chose Tavatimsa, the Space World of the 33 "Devas", ruled by Sakka, King of the "Devas". He knew that although they were far above petty and selfish quarrels, only a few of the beings there had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion.

So by a psychic feat he transferred himself to that space realm. He was lucky enough to come at a time when King Sakka was away. There was no one in the large audience hall. So the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne. He waited quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a SULLEN feast. Soon some of the celestial inhabitants came to the hall.

They could hardly believe their eyes to see this disgusting monster sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Recovering from their initial shock, they began to shout and lament:

"Oh, demon! How dare you sit on the throne of our ruler? What gall! What a crime! You should be cast headlong into the lowest hells, straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Get out! Get out!"

He started to ooze a smoky-red-glowing aura

While the "devas" grew angrier and angrier, the demon was delighted in his feast. Moment by moment gorging, he grew in size, in strength, in power. But the anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze as a smoky-red-glowing aura. This vexing mist kept the "devas" at a distance and dimmed their natural radiance.

Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall. It grew into a dazzling light from which the "deva"-king Sakka emerged.Sakka, because he had entered the undeflectable STREAM THAT LEADS TO NIRVANA, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke screen created by the anger of the "devas" parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne.

"Welcome, friend! Please remain seated, relax. I can take another chair. May I offer you a drink out of hospitality? Our timeless AMRITA (nectar) is good. Or if you prefer a stronger brew, some [entheogenic] SOMA?"

While Sakka spoke these genuinely friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved.


Wisdom Quarterly translation based on (Section 93, SN xi.3.2)

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Buddha was staying in Savatthi at Jetavana monastery in Anathapindika's Park. There the Blessed One addressed the monastics:

"Bhikkhus"! Bhagwan" (lord)!" they replied. Then he told this tale:

"Once upon a time, O monastics, a certain sickly and decrepit demon took his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the ["Tavatimsa"- and "Catumaharajika"- world] "devas". The "devas", O monastics, of the Suite of the Thirty-three [Tavatimsa spaceport] were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly:

" 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly looking and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the "devas"!"

Now, O monastics, as the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly, in that same proportion did the demon grow handsomer, better looking, and more pleasing.

Then, O monastics, the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three drew close to Sakka, the leader of the "devas". Having drawn near, they spoke to as follows:

"Sir, a sickly and decrepit demon has come here and taken his seat on your throne. And the "devas "of the Suite of the Thirty-three, sir, are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly: 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the "devas".' And, sir, as the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly, in that same proportion does the demon grow handsomer, better-looking, and more pleasing. Sir, surely now, it must be an anger-eating demon."

Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the "devas" approached the anger-eating demon. He threw his upper garment over his shoulder and, planting his right knee on the ground, stretched out his joined palms to the demon, and three times announced himself:

"Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"!"

The more, O monastics, Sakka leader of the "devas", proclaimed his name, the more sickly and decrepit the demon became and soon disappeared. Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the gods, resumed his seat and used the occasion to induce in the "devas" a more fitting frame of mind, by means of the following stanzas:

"My mind is not so easily cast down,
Nor does it lightly swerve from its own course;
And, O, long angry can I never be,
For anger finds no dwelling place in me.

"I never in anger utter harsh words,
And never proclaim my virtue's fame;
Instead myself I seek to keep subdued
In the interest of my future weal."

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Vedic Prophecies A New Look Into The Future

The Vedic Prophecies A New Look Into The Future Cover

Book: The Vedic Prophecies A New Look Into The Future by Stephen Knapp

This book is very in-depth, covering not just the Vedic tradition, but other ones as well, since many traditions over-lap the Vedic prophecies, particularly Jesus Christ and Revelations, the book is truly unique. I actually sold this book to a friend while not yet finished with it who was interested and bought another one. Then a friend misplaced that copy (also unfinished) and I bought yet another one. The book is very interesting.

The book also provides shades on a lots of prevailing thoughts/beliefs about how the latter have been distorted with times. An example being the Taj Mahal which is believed to be the Proof of Love of a King for his queen but in fact, it's supposed to be a TEMPLE. You will surely love reading it... Good Reading....

The book does contain "unedited" teachings of the cycles of the world/universe and preditions of the future and even what some of the prophecies that have occurred. It is also a very good reference that puts together a lot of the stories that many people have heard of and are now in danger of being forgotten.

For me, it even served as a historical reference. Much the first few pages explain the different incarnations of God/teachers and what their roles were. This list includes Krishna, Rama, Buddha and most of the others. That is something that I have had difficulty finding elsewhere.

Buy Stephen Knapp's book: The Vedic Prophecies A New Look Into The Future

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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Corpus Hermeticum

The Corpus Hermeticum Cover

Book: The Corpus Hermeticum by George Robert Stowe Mead

The Corpus Hermeticum are the core documents of the Hermetic tradition. Dating from early in the Christian era, they were mistakenly dated to a much earlier period by Church officials (and everyone else) up until the 15th century. Because of this, they were allowed to survive and we seen as an early precursor to what was to be Christianity. We know today that they were, in fact, from the early Christian era, and came out of the turbulent religious seas of Hellenic Egypt.

These are all taken from Mead's translations, which are in the public domain at this point.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Religions Of The World Our World Faiths Animated

Religions Of The World Our World Faiths Animated Cover

Book: Religions Of The World Our World Faiths Animated by Ben Kingsley

Because the movie tries to give you a little info on several religions it's pressed for time and some religious information is not introduced. So that left me confused on a couple of stories. Others stories are very thorough. Overall, I think its a good intro for children to grasp main ideas.

Religions Of The World/Our World Faiths is a superbly produced, 150 minute, full color DVD showcasing a series of 15-minute animated pieces that illustrate the major world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Sufism, Islam, Hinduism (Krishna and Ramayana), and Confucianism. The animated stories chosen to represent and explain each of the world faiths are simply outstanding, being as informative as they are entertaining. Religions Of The World/Our World Faiths is enthusiastically recommended for personal, school, and community library collections as an effective and deftly presented means of teaching ecumenical understanding and religious tolerance to viewers ages 5 to 95!

Find Ben Kingsley's book in
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Buddha Forest Tradition

The Buddha Forest Tradition Image
The Buddha lovingly bundled beholding the Himalayas from behind, Ladakh, India

The wonderful thing about Buddhism originally (the Dharma as taught by the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama) is that it was a forest tradition.

Siddhartha left Kapilavastu, the territory of his family, cut off his hair, discarded his fine clothes, crossed the river in a simple garment and went in search of yogis in the wilderness.

He found Alara Kalama and then Uddaka Ramaputra, wandering ascetics who taught him to meditate in the tradition of mental serenity. This led to a great accomplishment -- self control and a clear heart/mind.But he left it behind as well because he realized that serenity in itself -- even to the tranquil depths of full absorption -- did not lead to final and complete liberation ("moksha").

India had found many routes to the heavens. And many seers could see no further than this. Uddaka Ramaputra's teacher, Rama, had reached the zenith of worlds beyond form. But even that was not outside of "samsara", the interminable Round of Rebirths.

Leaving behind these great teachers, Siddhartha plunged himself into the forest to practice austerities. Everyone understood that this had to be the way to break free of sensuality, the body, and all its temptations and bonds.

What the Buddha realized is what "everybody" knows now: The body is not to blame, but rather attachment and clinging, which are defilements of the mind/heart. Insight brought Siddhartha to this realization. And that realization made him the Buddha. Siddhartha did his striving almost exclusively in the quiet and nurturing atmosphere of the forest, attaining "buddhahood" in a grove of Bo trees (Bodh Gaya).

Legend has it, that on becoming a supremely enligthened teacher ("samma-sa"m-buddha") he remained in the forest, in the vicinity of the Bodhi tree (the sacred and sheltering FIG TREE), staring at unblinkingly in admiration.

Woodland sprites (fairies, earthbound-"devas") had offered to save his life when his fasting had becoming so extreme that he looked dead. "He's dead," one said. The other explained, "No, this is how ascetics behave. We should feed him "deva" food through his pores," they concluded.

"No," Siddhartha aware of their conversation said to them, "that won't be necessary. People think that I am fasting, and were I to be living on subtle "deva" nourishment, it would be deceiving them." But this encouraged Siddhartha to nourish his body with human food.

He came to understand that it was not by rejecting the world and such facts as the constraints of materiality (e.g., the need for nutrition) that one finds freedom. Instead, it is by practicing serenity-and-insight, Zen and "Vipassana" one can say. The first prepares the mind/heart through concentration (calm, collectedness, intensification, and focus). The other aims the laser singularity of consciousness on mindful contemplation of FOUR THINGS that lead to freedom here and now.

They lead the heart to realize nirvana and the complete end of suffering.

Realizing it and deciding to teach others the path of purification, the path to freedom, he walked to another forest in SARNATH, in a deer park outside of the famous ancient Indian city of Varanasi. There he instructed the first Five Disciples, who had formerly practiced austerities with him trying to reach liberation.

Siddhartha returns to the Five Ascetics as the Buddha and sets rolling in motion the Wheel of the Dharma by teaching them the path to enlightenment (History of Buddhism).

When the Five Ascetics reached enlightenment by hearing the DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTRA ("Turning the Wheel of Dharma"), the Buddha began a forest tradition of recluses. Whether lay people came to him or wanderers on a quest for enlightenment, the Buddha's essential advice was the same:

"Here in this Dharma (this Teaching), a meditator who has gone to the forest, or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down cross legged, holding the back sustainably erect [not too stiff, not too lax], arousing mindfulness in front." Of course, before there can be real insight into those four things mentioned before, there must be serenity. Mindfulness is not thinking. There is contemplation and reflection and reviewing ("anussati"), but that occurs as one emerges from the purifying absorptions (JHANAS", zens, ch'ans "as it were).

To gain concentration ("samadhi") to the level of full-absorption one needs mindfulness, which simply means constant-bare-awareness, nonjudgmental attention, non-evaluative holding in consciousness. One avoids two extremes, rigidity and laxity, and balances in the blissful middle, awake but serene.

The Buddha often taught lay people and rulers outside of cities, villages, and hamlets while residing in groves and orchards.Then the Buddha moved from grove to grove -- bamboo, mango... -- from glade to glade, staying outdoors, enjoying the freedom of the left-home life. He developed a great following. He said the home life was constricted and dusty, but renunciation (which need not mean getting rid of anything but simply letting go of the attachment to everything) was open and free:

* "Household life is crowded, constricting, and dusty! A life gone forth is wide open. While living at home, it is not easy to carry out this noble life utterly perfect and pure as [the milky luminous lustre of a] polished conch shell... But suppose I cut off my hair and beard, don a saffron robe, and go forth from home into homelessness? What if I leave behind my fortune, small or large, leave behind my circle of family and friends, small or large? Then doing so out of verifiable-confidence ("saddha") in this Teacher or this Teaching or these well-taught disciples, after past lives of accumulating the right conditions for attaining the expeditious state of a recluse in the Buddha's lineage, surely one has found the surest means of winning the stream that runs towards and merges with the deathless nirvana!"

Before monasteries were built, the Buddha sent his disciples into the forest to live, in no way harming nature, taking their ceramic bowls with them to gather alms food which delighted the people of India to give in a longstanding TRADITION OF DANA. After monasteries were built, the Buddha sent his disciples into the forest to practice. Even at the end of his days before his final passing into nirvana without remainder outdoors in a grove between twin Sal trees, he advised his deva and human disciples who had gathered in the tens of thousands (mostly "devas"):

The Buddha in a bamboo grove, Malaysia

If you would maintain in purity the [monastic] precepts, you should not give yourselves over to buying... You should not covet fields or buildings, nor accumulate servants, attendants, or animals. You should flee from all sorts of property and wealth as you would avoid a fire or a pit. You should not cut down grass or trees, neither break new soil, nor plough the earth....All of these are things which are improper (for a recluse).

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ancient Buddhist Model For Today World

Ancient Buddhist Model For Today World Image
In my ongoing effort to find ways to adapt Buddhism to modern American life, I have long been influenced by the example of Vimala-Kirti, the "householder sage" of ancient India (pictured).

According to the Vimala-Kirti Sutra ("scripture"), Vimala-Kirti was a wealthy layperson or householder who was one of the Buddha's leading lay disciples. Although he was a householder, his wisdom was said to exceed that of all of the Buddha's leading monastic disciples.

Much of the sutra is spent recounting arguments between Vimala-Kirti and the monastic disciples about Buddhist doctrine -- disputes which Vimala-Kirti invariably won. The notion of a layperson's wisdom exceeding that of a monastic is only one of many radical notions put forward by the sutra.

There are several English translations of the Vimala-Kirti Sutra. The one I like best is by Dr. Robert A. Thurman entitled The Holy Teaching of Vimala-Kirti. Dr. Thurman's translation is from the Tibetan, as the Sanskrit original has been lost.

Like the better-known Heart and Diamond Sutras, the Vimala-Kirti Sutra was an important text for the Zen traditions of China and Japan. In many Japanese Zen monasteries even today there is an alcove with a statue of Vimala-Kirti, wearing the hair and clothing of a layperson, expounding the teaching.

In Zen, Vimala-Kirti is best known for his "thunderous silence," referring to the time when he ended a long debate about the essence of wisdom by saying nothing at all. Vimala-Kirti was a popular figure among the ruling classes of ancient China, who could identify with his role in society.

The highest spiritual stage in Zen is called "return to the marketplace," in which the spiritual adept, after long years of spiritual training, returns to society to live as an ordinary person and teach others. Vimala-Kirti is traditionally seen as the embodiment of this highest stage.

This is how the sutra describes Vimala-Kirti's lifestyle:

* He wore the white clothes of a layman, yet lived impeccably like a religious devotee...
* He had a son, a wife, and female attendants...
* [He] made his appearance at the fields of sports and in the casinos, but his aim was always to mature people [there]...
* He engaged in all sorts of businesses, yet had no interest in profit or possessions...
* He visited all the schools to help develop children...
* He was honored as the official among officials because he regulated the functions of government according to the Dharma. More

Japanese to look to ancient traditions for strength

by Lewis Richmond

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Buddha Message To Those Who Doubt

Buddha Message To Those Who Doubt Image
Wisdom Quarterly based on Ven. Soma Thera translation, Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65)

(DhammaCity) Kalama Sutra, readings from the Pali Canon by Sangharakshita.

Message to the Kalamas

1. Thus have I heard. Once the Buddha, while wandering in the country with a large community of monastic disciples, entered a town called Kesaputta. The Kalamas inhabiting Kesaputta said:

* "Reverend Gautama, the monk, the son of the Sakyans, while wandering in the Kosala country, has entered Kesaputta. This good repute has spread about him: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is consummate, fully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and practice, sublime, knower of the worlds, peerless, guide for those to be tamed, teacher of divine and human beings, which he himself has gained through direct knowledge.

The Buddha with a large number of monastics addresses the people of Kesaputta, India.

* He sets forth the Dharma, which good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, possessed of meaning in letter and spirit, and complete in everything. And he proclaims the high life [direct path to enlightenment, brahmacarya] that is perfectly pure. Seeing such consummate ones is good indeed.'"

Asking for Guidance

3. The Kalamas in Kesaputta sitting respectfully to one side said to the Buddha:

"There are some ascetics and brahmins, venerable sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines. The doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces.

"Some other ascetics and brahmins, venerable sir, come to Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines. The doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces.

"Venerable sir, there is doubt, there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend ascetics and brahmins spoke the truth and which falsehood?"

Criterion for Rejection

4. "It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain. Uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon:

* what has been acquired by repeated hearing
* nor upon tradition
* nor upon rumor
* nor upon what is scripture
* nor upon surmise
* nor upon axiom
* nor upon specious reasoning
* nor upon bias toward a notion that has been pondered
* nor upon another's seeming ability
* nor upon the consideration, 'The ascetic is our teacher.'

"But, Kalamas, when you yourselves know":

* These things are bad these things are blameworthy
* these things are censured by the wise
* when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.

Greed, Hate, and Delusion

5. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does greed appear in a person for one's benefit or harm?"

"For harm, venerable sir."

"Kalamas, being given to greed, and being overwhelmed and mentally vanquished by greed, this person takes life, steals, engages in sexual misconduct, tells lies, and prompts another to do likewise. Will that be long for harm and ill?"

"Yes, venerable sir."

6. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does hate appear...?"
7. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does delusion appear...?"
8. "What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things profitable or unprofitable?"

"Unprofitable, venerable sir."

"Blameworthy or not blameworthy?"

"Blameworthy, venerable sir."

"Censured or praised by the wise?"

"Censured, venerable sir."

"When undertaken and observed, do these things lead to harm and ill or not? Or how does it strike you?"

"When undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill. Thus it strikes us here." 9. "Therefore, Kalamas, was it said: 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor... But when you yourselves know: 'These things are unprofitable; these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.'

Criterion for Acceptance

10. "Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor... But, Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are profitable; these things are praiseworthy; these things are lauded by the wise; when undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

Absence of greed, hate, and delusion

11. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does the absence of greed appear in a person for benefit or harm?"

"For benefit, venerable sir."

"Kalamas, not being given to greed, and not being overwhelmed or mentally vanquished by greed, one does not take life, does not steal, does not engage in sexual misconduct, does not tell lies, and does not prompt others to do likewise. Will that be long for one's benefit and happiness?"

"Yes, venerable sir."

12. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does the absence of hate appear in a person for benefit or harm?"

"For benefit, venerable sir."...

13. "What do you think, Kalamas? Does the absence of delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?"...

14. "What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things profitable or unprofitable?"

"Profitable, venerable sir."...

15. "Therefore, Kalamas, was it said: 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor...' But, Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are profitable; these things are not praiseworthy; these things are lauded by the wise; when undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'

The Four Divine Abidings

16. "Kalamas, the disciple of the Noble Ones practices in this way [the four Brahma Viharas or Exalted Dwellings]. Devoid of coveting (greed), devoid of ill will (hate), devoid of confusion (delusion) -- but mindful and clearly comprehending -- dwells pervading with thoughts of loving-kindness

* one quarter [of the world, the cosmos]
* likewise the second
* likewise the third
* likewise the fourth
* so above, below, and across
* one dwells having pervaded all living beings everywhere in the entire world (cosmos) with thoughts of loving-kindness that is free of hate or malice, grown great, exalted, immeasurable (boundless, universal).

"One dwells having pervaded with thoughts of compassion, one quarter, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth, so above, below, and across; one dwells having pervaded all living beings everywhere in the entire world with thoughts of compassion that is free of hate or malice, grown great, exalted, immeasurable.

"One lives having pervaded with thoughts of gladness, one quarter....

"One lives having pervaded with thoughts of equanimity, one quarter....

The Four Solaces

17. "Kalamas, the disciple of the Noble Ones practices in this way. With such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, such a purified mind is one who finds four solaces here and now.

"'Suppose there is a hereafter [existence to come beyond this life] and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill [karma]. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in better worlds, which are possessed of states of bliss.' This is the first solace found by such a person.

"'Suppose there is no hereafter [no rebirth] and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill [no karma]. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe, sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace.

"'Suppose harmful (results) befall the doer of harm. I, however, think of doing no harm to anyone. Then, how can ill (results) affect me?' This is the third solace.

"'Suppose harmful (results) do not befall one who harms others. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace.

"Kalamas, the disciple of the Noble Ones who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, such a purified mind is one who finds, here and now, these four solaces."

The Kalamas' Reaction

"So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Sublime One! Venerable sir, the disciple of the Noble Ones who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, such a purified mind finds, here and now, these four solaces!

"Marvelous, venerable sir! Marvelous, venerable sir! Venerable sir, it is as if a person were to turn upward what had been overturned, or to uncover what was concealed, or to point the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the darkness, thinking: 'Those who have eyes will now be able to see.'

"So has the Dharma been set forth in many ways by the Blessed One. Venerable sir, we go to the Blessed One for guidance, to this Dharma for guidance, and to the Sangha [order of accomplished practitioners] for guidance.

"Venerable sir, may the Blessed One regard us as lay followers who have gone for guidance from this day forward."

* A Look at the Kalama Sutta (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
* The Right to Ask Questions (Larry Rosenberg)

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black Book Of Forbidden Knowledge Lucid Dreaming

Black Book Of Forbidden Knowledge Lucid Dreaming Cover

Book: Black Book Of Forbidden Knowledge Lucid Dreaming by Anonymous

Lucid dreaming is a state in which the sleeper becomes alert and conscious that he or she is dreaming. The imagery in this state is reported to be more vivid than in nonlucid states, and it is difficult to distinguish between the dream and reality. The dreamer is able to control what is dreamed.

Lucid dreaming has formed the central core of virtually every shamanic and mystical practice throughout history. It allows the shaman to visit the spirit realms to gain healing power and insight. In the East, Lucid Dreaming has long been seen as a signpost on the way to enlightenment.

The Goldi shamans of Siberia guide dying or dead subjects through the realms of the otherworld through lucid dreams. Native Americans rely upon conscious dreaming for their vision quests, and consider dreams to be central to life itself, and the Foundation of all spiritual matters.

The Australian Aborignes are the oldest lucid dreamers, but the Tibetan shamans have carried the process of lucid dreaming more exactly into the realm of mysticism. In 12th century Tibet there arose famous schools of Dream Masters who appeared to use lucid dreaming as a powerful method of meditation, which was reported to speed up the process of enlightenment. The Tibetan shaman was always "chosen" through a lucid dream, which transformed the dreamer into a new being.

Many Western subjects entering lucid dreaming for the first time report experiencing nothing comparable in the whole of their waking lives, feeling as if they had been radically changed by the event and mysteriously transformed. The essential purpose of lucid dreamwork is ultimately to wake up. Lucid dreaming helps us Understand that we are just as asleep when we think we are awake, as we are in dreams.

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Buddhism Is Fastest Growing Uk Jail Religion

Buddhism Is Fastest Growing Uk Jail Religion Image
Mural depicting the Buddha's arrival and "Yakkhas" departing (EPA/Mercury News).


Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent (Aug. 5, 2009)

Adherents to the Eastern faith believe in peace and the sanctity of life, which is an excellent turnaround since almost all of the converts to Buddhism that are behind bars in this country are serving lengthy sentences for serious crimes such as violence and sex offenses. Some jails and secure hospitals including Broadmoor have opened shrines known as Buddha Groves on their grounds, and there is a national network of chaplains to cater to the growing population.

Supporters of newly Buddhist prisoners say they also believe the spiritual development they gain in prison will help them once they are released, and prevent them from re-offending. Lord Avebury, a Liberal Democrat peer who is the patron of Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organization, told The Daily Telegraph: "The numbers are quite remarkable. I think one of the reasons is that they convert to Buddhism in prison - it's a reasonable hypothesis that they become interested when inside.

"I think it does enable people to come to terms with their situation. Buddhism gets people away from the idea of material ambitions, and if people are in prison they can't go for those goals anyway. You do have more time to reflect and meditate in jail, and get away from the idea of self."

He went on: "My inclination would be to say it must help people after they leave jail. The whole idea of Buddhism is not to cause harm to anybody, and the person who persists in their faith is likely to be totally recast in their life and must be less likely to re-offend." Lord Avebury said the care offered by the network of Buddhist prison chaplains, who are supported by the Prison Service, would also have encouraged many prisoners to convert, in addition to the existence of shrines in the jail grounds.

"We have an annual celebration at Spring Hill [an open prison in Buckinghamshire where the first Buddha Grove was built]. That's a remarkable place, it's extremely peaceful. Staff go there to meditate as well as prisoners."

Official figures show Britain's 149,157 Buddhists - who believe in gaining spiritual knowledge about the true nature of life and do not worship gods - make up just 0.26 of the general population. In 1997 there were only 226 Buddhists in prisons in England and Wales, but by the end of June 2008 that figure had risen by 669 per cent to reach 1,737 - 2 percent of the 79,734 prison population.

The vast majority (1,194) were White and most were over 30. Only 78 were female.

Detailed statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show that almost all were serving long sentences. In total, 621 were serving terms of four years or more, while a further 521 had been given indeterminate sentences.

The rate of growth of new converts to Buddhism in the jail population outstrips that of converts to Islam:

* Muslim numbers have more than doubled from 3,681 to 9,795 over the past 11 years.
* Christians remain the best-represented group behind bars, with 41,839 worshippers.
* Agnostic (unsure) and those declaring Atheism (no religion) now stand at 27,710.
* Atheists make up 1 percent of the prison population for the first time this year, with only 570 declared adherents to the view that there is "definitely" no God.
* Jewish, or those who claim it, amount to just 220 prisoners - fewer than
* Pagans, 366
* Rastafarians, 340
* Jehovah's Witnesses, 230
* Salvation Army had only 37 members in jail.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "The Prison Service recognizes the positive role faith can play in the lives and rehabilitation of prisoners and is committed to enabling prisoners of all faiths to practice their religion. "Each prison has a multi-faith chaplaincy team to meet the religious and pastoral needs of prisoners and staff. Teams include chaplains and volunteers from a wide range of religions and denominations."

Population in English and Welsh prisons by religion in June 2008

* No religion 26,626
* Church of England 23,039
* Roman Catholic 14,296
* Muslim 9,795
* Buddhist 1,737
* Sikh 648
* Atheist 570
* Agnostic 514
* Hindu 434
* Pagan 366
* Rastafarian 340
* Jehovah's Witness 230
* Jewish 220
* Scientology 3

Source: Ministry of Justice


A significant number of inmates have died as a result. The judges described some prisons operating at nearly 300 percent of capacity, with inmates housed in triple bunk beds placed in gymnasiums and day rooms. "In these overcrowded conditions, inmate-on-inmate violence is almost impossible to prevent, infectious diseases spread more easily, and lockdowns are sometimes the only means by which to maintain control," the judges wrote. In general, the 33-prison system is at nearly double its capacity. Even under the judicial order, the system would remain overcrowded, at 137.5 percent of capacity. Matthew Cate, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, acknowledged that the prisons are severely overcrowded and that conditions in many facilities have been substandard.

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