Friday, August 19, 2011

Buddhist Climate Project

Buddhist Climate Project Image
(Environment and Nature) In the run-up to the crucial U.N. Climate Treaty Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Buddhist Declaration on climate change will present to the world's media a unique spiritual view of climate change and our urgent responsibility to address the solutions.

It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. "The Time to Act is Now" is a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr. David Tetsuun Loy and Theravada teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr. John Stanley. The Dalai Lama was the first to sign this declaration. All concerned members of the international Buddhist community are invited to study the document and add their voice by co-signing it HERE.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Buddhism In Mexico Budismo

Buddhism In Mexico Budismo Image
America is not synonymous with the United States, although we use it that way. America is a continent with northern, central, and southern sections. The economic dominance of one part of the north has led to US hegemony (social influence) and military control and distorted the world's view of Americans. Mexico is just to the south of the US because the US stole many parts of Mexico including world-famous California. Just as Buddhism intrigues US citizens, citizens of Mexico and the rest of the Americas are embracing the Dharma. Of course, Buddhism in ancient Mexico and Mesoamerica goes much further back than it does in the US. Particularly striking is the Eagle-men versus Snake-men warring, popular in both Aztec and Buddhist mythology and central to the founding of Mexico and its flag. And there is also the adoration of GuanYin/Guadalupe. Budismo en espanol is no longer limited to Spain.

Budismo GeneralM'as de la mitad de la poblaci'on mundial vive en pa'ises que han recibido una gran influencia de las ideas y pr'acticas budistas. Sin embargo, desde los tiempos de Buda -- quinientos a~nos antes de la aparici'on del cristianismo -- hasta mitad del siglo XX en Occidente no se sab'ia casi nada acerca del Budismo.


No obstante, a mediados del siglo XX esta situaci'on empez'o a cambiar, y se dice que hoy en d'ia el budismo es una de las religiones que con m'as rapidez se extiende en Occidente.


Qu'e es el Budismo? Normalmente consideramos que la religi'on es creer en Dios, o mejor dicho, en creer en cualquiera de sus manifestaciones divinas; sin embargo, en el Budismo no se habla de Dios alguno. Mas

VALLE DE BRAVO, Mexico - In December 2010, a longtime dream of H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche was realized with the internal consecration of the Great Stupa for World Peace at the Chamma Ling retreat center, Mexico.

This huge, sacred structure represents all paths to enlightenment. It is hoped that its presence will help remove obstacles and discord and bring peace and happiness to Mexico and the world.

Among the hundreds of participants at the consecration were Yongdzin Rinpoche, the most senior teacher of the Bon Buddhist tradition of Tibet.

Also in attendance were Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal; Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, spiritual director of Ligmincha Institute; Bon Buddhist masters; representatives of other Buddhist traditions; as well as local native shamans. Video edited by Enrique Garcia.



* Titans (Asuras) of Mexico

Spanish Buddhism

* - Dia de Meditacion por la Paz

* Buddha Channel (multilingual)

* Mujeres Budistas sin Vueltas (blog)

* Mindfulness el la Vida Contidiana (Jon Kabat Zinn)

* Budismo sin Creencias (Stephen Batchelor)

* Sabidura Emocional (Paul Ekman)

* Nechung, El Oraculo del Dalai Lama (Thubten Ngodup)

* Non-English translations of Buddhist Selections

* Buddhist Publication Society (Spanish titles)

* C.O.A. Tataguato (blog)

* Blog de Aguiladorada


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Astronomy Homer And Justice

Astronomy Homer And Justice Image
A 3,000 year old story tied to astronomy. What!

"Researchers hit a homer with 'The Odyssey'"

Using astronomical clues, they date one of literature's most heralded events: Odysseus' slaughter of his wife's suitors. But the finding leaves many questions unanswered.


Thomas H. Maugh II

June 24th, 2008

Los Angeles Times

Delving into a 3,000-year-old mystery using astronomical clues in Homer's "The Odyssey," researchers said Monday they have dated one of the most heralded events of Western literature: Odysseus' slaughter of his wife's suitors upon his return from the Trojan War.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the wily hero who devised the Trojan Horse hefted his mighty bow on April 16, 1178 BC, and executed the unruly crowd who had taken over his home and was trying to force his wife into marriage.

The finding leaves many perennial questions unanswered, such as whether the events portrayed actually occurred or whether the blind poet Homer was the author of the tale.

But the results cast a new sheen of veracity on a story that has existed in a hazy realm of fantasy and history since it was first composed 400 years after the Trojan War.

"They make a wonderfully persuasive case," said Scott Huler, author of a book about his efforts to follow Odysseus' journey. "I do find myself convinced that some of these events Homer described" are based on actual history.

"The Odyssey" tells the story of the king's 10-year journey home after the capture of Troy. Odysseus spent seven of those years as a captive of the nymph Calypso, then was delayed another three by Poseidon, who was angered by the blinding of his son Cyclops.

When he finally arrived at Ithaca, he was angered to find 109 men urging his wife Penelope to accept that her husband was dead and marry one of them. Spurred by Athena, Penelope declared an archery contest with Odysseus' bow, saying she would marry the winner.

Odysseus, in disguise, won the contest, then killed all the suitors as well as a dozen maids who had slept with them.

The key passage in dating the tale is highly ambiguous.

As the suitors are sitting down for their noontime meal, the goddess Athena "confounds their minds" so that they start laughing uncontrollably and see their food spattered with blood.

Then the seer Theoclymenus prophesies their death and passage to Hades, ending with the phrase: "The Sun has been obliterated from the sky, and an unlucky darkness invades the world."

The Greek historian Plutarch interpreted this as signifying a total solar eclipse, and many others have agreed. But modern scholars tend to discount this interpretation, arguing that the passage is simply metaphorical.

Previous researchers have determined that a total solar eclipse occurred in the region over the Ionian Sea on April 16, 1178 BC, which would be in agreement with recent data suggesting the fall of Troy around 1192 to 1184 BC.

To investigate, astronomer Marcelo O. Magnasco of Rockefeller University and Constantino Baikouzis of the Observatorio Astr'onomico de La Plata in Argentina read the text of "The Odyssey" carefully, looking for other astronomical clues.

They found three definitive events:

The day of the slaughter was a new moon - a prerequisite for a solar eclipse.

Six days before the slaughter, Venus was visible and high in the sky.

Twenty-nine days before, the constellations Pleiades and Bo"otes were simultaneously visible at sunset.

They also identified a potential fourth event 33 days before the slaughter. Homer wrote that Hermes, known to the Romans as Mercury, traveled far west to deliver a message and flew all the way back east again. Magnasco and Baikouzis interpreted this to mean that Mercury was high at dawn and near the western edge of its trajectory.

Each of these astronomical events recurs at a different interval, so the precise sequence identified in their reading should be unique.

Using computer analysis, they searched for the sequence between 1250 and 1115 BC, roughly 75 years on either side of the putative date for the fall of Troy.

They found only one sequence, and it coincided with the eclipse of April 16, 1178 BC.

Whether the events of "The Odyssey" occurred or not, the authors are interested, at least, in reopening the debate.

"If we can get a few people to read 'The Odyssey' differently, to look at it and ponder whether there was an actual date inscribed in it, we are happy," Magnasco said.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Buddhism And Human Consciousness

Buddhism And Human Consciousness Image
Since my presentation is entitled "A Buddhist Response to Contemporary Dilemmas of Human Existence," I should begin by spelling out what I mean by the expression "contemporary dilemmas of human existence."

Our root problem, it seems to me, is at its core a problem of consciousness. I would characterize this problem briefly as a fundamental existential dislocation, a dislocation having both cognitive and ethical dimensions.

That is, it involves both a disorientation in our understanding of reality, and a distortion or inversion of the proper scale of values, the scale that would follow from a correct understanding of reality.

Because our root problem is one of consciousness, this means that any viable solution must be framed in terms of a transformation of consciousness. It requires an attempt to arrive at a more accurate grasp of the human situation in its full depth and breadth.

[And it requires] a turning of the mind and heart in a new direction, a direction commensurate with the new understanding, one that brings light and peace rather than strife and distress.

Before I discuss some of the responses that religion might make to the outstanding dilemmas of our age, I propose to offer a critique of the existential dislocation that has spread among such significant portion of humankind today.

Through most of this century, the religious point of view has been defensive. It may now be the time to take the offensive, by scrutinizing closely the dominant modes of thought that lie at the base of our spiritual malaise.

by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Freedom Of Religion Germany Finds Self By Seeing Others

Freedom Of Religion Germany Finds Self By Seeing Others Image
The best way to find out who you are is to create a situation in which you're surrounded by people different from you. You're then a microcosm of broader culture, as Germany demonstrates:

Experts fear new conflicts after a study published this week showed most Germans doubt the Western and Islamic worlds can peacefully coexist. Mistrust of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany appears to be growing....

The case of a Berlin "honor killing," a quarrel over two Bonn students who wore burkas to school and discussions concerning increasing schoolyard violence among immigrant children have all made headlines in the German press recently.

"In view of the diffuse feeling of being under threat, and the suspected intolerance of Islam, the readiness of Germans to show tolerance to the Muslim faith is sinking," Noelle and Petersen wrote.

A philosophical foundation built on tolerance is inherently self-immolating. Unfettered tolerance does not have an answer for intolerance. If tolerance suggests intolerance should moderate, the former is revealed to be a fraud. There are two ways to fight bad intolerance: Combat the bad intolerance with "good" intolerance, or bar the bad intolerance in the first place. Similarly, a functioning democracy requires that a majority of the population support democratic ideals. If the proportion of the population supporting said democratic ideals falls to minority status, democracy dies. Thus, "free" democracies must either amalgamate their supporting elements to fight undemocratic elements within the society, or keep these elements out in the first place. In both cases, the third option is to allow tolerance/democracy to whither away and be replaced by something different.

Of Germany's 82 million people, only 3 million are Muslim. Germans have the luxury of choosing whether to suppress Muslims in Germany, bar more of them from coming in, or allow Islamic culture to increasingly influence Germany's social composition. Recent news doesn't favor the third option:

The case of a Berlin "honor killing," a quarrel over two Bonn students who wore burkas to school and discussions concerning increasing schoolyard violence among immigrant children have all made headlines in the German press recently.Stepping outside of Germany, we could also add the Muslim riots in France, the Madrid and London bombings, vicious hostility toward other religions in Denmark, Theo Van Gogh's slaying in the Netherlands, the cartoon chaos, clashes between Muslims and Aussies down under, 9/11, "ad infinitum". Without even considering the deleterious economic impact a relatively low IQ, welfare-consuming underclass has on free-market-based systems, there is no reason to have lots of Muslims in the West outside of the fallacious argument that diversity is an inherently good thing. That is, multiculturalism not as a means to some end (stronger economy, healthier or more creative or safer society, etc), but a self-evidently desirable end in itself, justifying the burdensome baggage it brings.

Germans overwhelmingly do not view diversity brought by Muslims in a favorable light:

When asked what they associate with the word "Islam," 91 percent of respondents connected the religion to the discrimination of women, and 61 percent called Islam "undemocratic." Eight percent of Germans associated "peacefulness" with Islam.Many Teutons are willing to exercise option one or two (of the three mentioned earlier) in defense of Occidentalism:

About 40 percent of Germans queried were willing to limit the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion if constricting the practice of the Muslim religion could lead to fewer violent Muslims choosing to live in Germany. Over half of those who took part, 56 percent, agreed with the statement, "If some Muslim countries forbid building churches, then it should be forbidden to build mosques here."Western nations hold many values and beliefs in common. It's too bad we are not more unified in dealing with threats to those values and beliefs. US leaders tenaciously believe that a salient presentation of these values will make heathens reject their own beliefs and accept ours. Many European leaders claim to want mutual understanding, a real life application of tolerance suggesting intolerance be more tolerant (and really these two approaches are two sides of the same coin). In the Netherlands they even want desuetude of those most loudly sounding the tocsin:

Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been threatened repeatedly with "execution" by Islamist extremists. She lives in an apartment with bulletproof windows, and is driven to work at the Dutch Parliament by armed guards, who vary the route to outfox would-be hit men.

But an unexpected menace emerged closer to home: her own neighbors. They have fought to evict her, complaining that the presence of a well-known terrorist target in their luxury apartment tower in this Dutch city has upset their family lives and reduced the value of their property.

"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician.

Verhagen believes that killing the messenger will make the message irrelevant. His attitude deserves the rhetorical comparison to the appeasement of the thirties so often spuriosly hurled at the critics of the Iraq and Iran hawks. He's like the ignorant open border Republican drones that attack analysts like Steve Sailer for pointing out that current immigration trends are disastrous for the future of the GOP. If the naysayers would just shut up, the things they are worried about would go away. Ed Gillespie even thinks these things would be good if we'd just ignore all the evidence showing how bad they are.

Verhagen's ilk should heed a few words of wisdom from Hirsi and Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor responsible for the publishing of the Danish Muhammad cartoons:

"They're just sticking their heads in the sand," responds Ms. Hirsi Ali, who dismisses the report as a "political pamphlet to suit the dreams of people who want to believe there is not a problem."...

"I think it is very dangerous to give in to intimidation, because it sends a signal: If you threaten enough, we will do as you please," says Mr. Rose.

I'm reminded of "The Simpsons" episode where Bart buys a delapidated factory. He and Milhouse are rocking back and forth on an elevated platform that is covered in signs warning of the platform's instability. When Milhouse shows unease, Bart pulls down the signs, flings them away, and the two gleefully rock back and forth on the unstable platform.

But I'm encouraged by the thought that if Bart was German, he might not have elected to buy the run-down liability in the first place.


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Monday, August 8, 2011

Buddhism Is Very Different From Hinduism

Buddhism Is Very Different From Hinduism Image
Hindu "saddhus "in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal


Daniel Hopkinson (, Aug. 22, 2009)

Buddhism is very different from Hinduism in several respects:

* In Buddha's teaching there is no concept of gods such as in other theistic religions.
* In Hinduism the God Shiva manifests itself in many forms.

WQ: The Buddha borrowed the prevalent concept of gods and Gods ("devas" and "brahmas") and added to it. The concept is a far less complex pantheon, but there are many, many gods. The concept of what a deity is, indeed, is quite different. Buddhism is a non-theistic (not atheistic) tradition; it does not "rely "on gods but it does believe in them. The various kinds of gods in this and other worlds are subject to karma, rebirth, to downfall, and vary between one another. They are not able to grant liberation from Samsara. Often virtuous, they are not always wise. Sometimes powerful, they are oftentimes dealing with the same issues of vanity, ego, delusion, anger, and greed that humans are wrestling with.

* Another fundamental difference is that while Hinduism condones the caste system Buddhism does not.
* All human beings, in Buddhist beliefs, are equal. One station in life is in the hands of oneself. Karmic law ensures that.

WQ: Indeed, the Buddha did not support the traditional caste system. He regarded one's actions in this life, not one's rebirth into a particular station in life, as the more important thing. One is or is not a "brahmin" by one's actions now. However, one was not accidentally born into one's caste or circumstances. The Buddha pointed out inherent differences between beings. They are all equal in potential but not equal in karma (deeds), wisdom, access to knowledge, habits, and so on. The entire discussion is squashed whenever someone says the Buddha was a Hindu. He was not a Hindu. (There was not even such a thing as "Hindu" at that time).

The Buddha was a wandering ascetic who defied the dominant tradition (Brahmanism) and its Vedic authority. The Buddha rebelled against this authority and found a path to direct realization without the intermediary of priests (such as Protestantism in its utter rejection of Catholic Church orthodoxy and power) or authoritative and unquestionable texts no one but the priestly class even had a chance to handle and study much less interpret.

Reply to Changi 1: Buddhism is very different from Hinduism. Welcome to our discussions. It seems that we have a similar problem with Buddhism and Hinduism as we do in Christianity between Catholics and Protestants, at least in some respects:

* Differences in belief: Some, like you [Changi], have asserted that they are very different, while others assert they are rather similar. It sounds as if we need more discussion and input from anyone who can provide us with some documentation. Thanks for your comments. JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

WQ: Documentation (references to sutras, ancient commentaries, and modern scholarship) is abundant. The two traditions are not very different to the casual observer, no more different than Judaism and Christianity. And in that sense they are "very" different. People cannot tolerate the contrasts between Catholicism and Protestantism, and yet these are the same religion. Buddhism, like Christianity, is a new religion emerging out of Hinduism. The similarities are striking. But the comparisons between Christianity and Judaism are even stronger.

Whether Hinduism and Buddhism are more similar than different has more to do with what one regards as significant. On many significant points, they could not be more different. They sought the same thing ("moksha" or "liberation") but pointed out different means to achieve and different definitions for what constitutes deliverance. With the veneer of details removed, Hinduism is far closer to Christian beliefs than to Buddhism. But Hinduism and Buddhism share a common cultural background that links them.

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