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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Sepharial - The Basis Of Scripture Prophecy
Frances Billinghurst - Is Wicca The Right Spiritual Path For Me

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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/Flickr.com)

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).

* BUDDHIST MEDITATION


* 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!

You also may enjoy these free books:

George Robert Stowe Mead - A Mithraic Ritual
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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.

BUDDHISM IN ANCIENT MEXICO


Book Reviewer Brian Bruya (Gaia.com)

"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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Aleister Crowley - Rodin In Rime
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