Friday, September 30, 2011

Language Of The Sufis

Language Of The Sufis Image
Person figures prominently in expressions of mystic understanding of the three main faiths that originate in the Near East. The spare forms of personal pronouns in marked constructions constitute a keying, in Goffman's terms, of mystic discourse, as in the well-known `I-Thou' of Martin Buber, or `I in them and Thou in me' of St. John (17:23).

Sufi Islam even contrasts the religious law, the mystic path, and the Truth in such terms:

Of the religious law (its truth is):


I and Thou;

As for the mystic path (its truth is):


I am Thou and Thou art I.

But the Truth Itself (is):


Neither I nor Thou, only He.

ash-shari'atu: ana wa anta;

at-tariqatu: ana anta wa anta ana;

al-haqiqatu: la ana wa la anta, huwa.

- Siraj ed-Din


The third person pronominal reference in the last line above, `only He', works to obviate any sense of separation or duality that reference to the first and second person, `the persons of instances of discourse', might imply. In Sufism one strives to move beyond the `I-Thou' polarity in relations with one's spiritual master, and beyond the `this' of `this world'. It is an attempt to move beyond human subjectivity, to return to the greater Subjectivity, as Becker puts it, not of God but of His loving.

For Sufis understand Creation actively in terms of God's longing to be known. That the pronoun for this greater subjectivity is the third person, the `non-person' according to Benveniste's characterization, but either the `absent one' or the `concealed' or `hidden one' (al-gha'ib) according to Arab grammarians, casts at the very least another potential frame on the third person.

- from the paper, Person in epitaphs of a line of Sufi Babas: continuity and change by Frances Trix of Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA. paper published in: Journal of Language Sciences. vol.21, 1999.

- graphics credit: Susan St. Thomas / one of Sonoma County, Californias famous visionary fine artists, Susan draws her artistic inspirations from dreams, myths and spiritual traditions of the world, weaving beautiful watercolor magic. visit her online art gallery here.[+] Please visit MysticSaint.Info For full multimedia experience and enjoy special music.

Blessings,
Sadiq



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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buddha Boys

Buddha Boys Image
There is, of course, only one Buddha Boy. His name is Ram Bahadur Bomjon, now PALDEN DORJE, a teen sitting and fasting in the jungles of Nepal. But others also loosely get called by the same thing. Novices ("samaneras", "little ascetics") are Buddhist-monks-in-training who keep Ten Precepts as a means of earning great merit for themselves and their families.

They usually ordain temporarily and may sometimes be seen engaged in childish mischief. Since they are not monks but only trainees, such behavior is common and within the bounds of monastic discipline. They are being raised to be responsible members of society not the monastery. Very few go on to become recluses ("samanas"). Nevertheless, because they meditate and dress like miniature monks, they are sometimes called "Buddha Boys."

Thousands of years ago, the historical Buddha's son RAHULA (depicted above on a Laotian monastery wall) became the first novice at the age of 7, making him the youngest person to be ordained, a custom that continues to this day in countries like Thailand, Tibet, and elsewhere throughout Asia.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Is There A Buddhist Bible

Is There A Buddhist Bible Image
C.C. Liu, A. Wells, P. MacPherson (Wisdom Quarterly)No, there is no Buddhist Bible. But not to worry, for there are many candidates.

(It should be remembered that there never used to be a Christian Bible either. Councils put together an international bestseller by getting rid of most of the gospels, doctrines, stories, and alternative interpretations floating around the ancient world: See what got left out).

If ever one wanted a "Buddhist Bible," there are scriptures, sacred texts, a living oral tradition (of meditation instructions), and commentaries that could be put together into a very Good Book. But to be complete that book -- composed of the Tripitaka (Discourses, Disciplinary rules for monastics, and the Higher Teachings) -- would have to be enormous.

So there is a popular, easy to carry, and easy to enjoy version called the Dhammapada ("Footprint of the Dharma"). It contains hundreds of shorthand verses. These sayings are pearls of wisdom, which are often illustrated and accompanied by their origin stories.

A better Buddhist Bible might be the Nikayas (all the sutras combined). But there are too many. And there's too much repetition, which is useful for chanting but frustrating for reading. Instead, anthologies like In the Buddha's Words serve as condensed treasuries.

Finally, there is a world-famous summary of the Teachings, What the Buddha Taught, that explains a great deal without including sutras. There are also sectarian texts, and now there's even a Buddhist Bible iPhone app.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

2500 Yrs Later Tibetan Buddhists On Women

2500 Yrs Later Tibetan Buddhists On Women Image
2,500 YEARS AFTER THE BUDDHA, TIBETAN BUDDHISTS ACKNOWLEDGE WOMEN"Buddhist women are celebrating a landmark victory: In April, the renowned Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, conferred the degree of "Geshe" -- the Tibetan equivalent of Ph.D. -- to Ven. Kelsang Wangmo, a German [Vajrayana Buddhist] nun.



This is a first in many ways: Traditionally, "Geshe" degrees are conferred on monks after 12 or more years of rigorous study in Buddhist philosophy. For the first time in history, a nun has now received the degree. Even more surprising, it was conferred on a Western woman.



Ven. Kelsang Wangmo [PICTURED HERE] was finally rewarded for mastering the strenuous course of study in higher [Tibetan] Buddhist philosophy. She had already been teaching philosophy at the Institute for more than five years.



So why is this such a big deal, and why did it take so long? In the West, the first female professorship was awarded to a woman at a European university in 1732. Almost 300 years ago scientist LAURA BASSI taught physics at the University of Bologna. And more than 2,500 [now almost 2,600] years ago the Buddha allowed women into the monastic order ["Sangha"]. He did this by ordaining his foster mother, Maha Prajapati.



She and 500 like-minded [Shakyan] women donned saffron robes, shaved their heads, and walked 350 miles barefoot to show their unwavering determination. But it was only after Ven. Ananda intervened on their behalf that the Buddha finally granted their request -- a revolutionary decision in India at the time.



[This was a first for a world religion, but it was not a first for India. Not long before, the Buddha's contemporary MAHAVIRA, the founder of JAINISM, admitted women into a wandering ascetic order similar to Buddhism's.]


by Michaela Haas



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Sunday, September 11, 2011

About Polytheism 1

About Polytheism 1 Image
Polytheism, Pantheism, or Panentheism: Shedding Light on Pagan Theology



Author: Eldyohr Posted: June 8th. 2008 on Witchvox.com



An interesting article on Pagan theology, which I think misses a couple of points. Please forgive my boldness in taking this on - Pagan theology is a hobby of mine. I don't consider it as important to our movement as, say, ritual practice or meditation, but it makes a fun pass-time. I'll begin by quoting:


Eldohyr says:



"A modern scientific perspective will tend to reject polytheism because of its incompatibility with our understanding of nature. If there really were different, independent gods in charge of all the different aspects of reality, then we shouldn't necessarily have a set of natural laws that are common to all parts of reality. The laws of physics would not need to apply to chemistry and the laws of chemistry would not need to apply to biology, and so on. Scientific order would find no basis if multiple gods were working at potentially cross-purposes."



There are several reasons why traditional polytheisms (and I'll be working from a perspective of Indo-European traditional Paganism - not much reference to Africa or China...) didn't have this sort of problem in practice.



First, the universe is generally described as formed from some universal first principle - usually this is the 'Body' of the First being...Ymir among the Norse, Purusha among the Vedic peoples. This First Being's nature is the all-nature of the created world, in which even the Gods exist. Divinity doesn't transcend this nature - it arises in it.



Polytheistic deities are not, generally, omniscient or omnipotent. They are not capable of remaking (all of) reality at will, they are subject to fate and to the acts of other gods, even grateful for the worship of mortals and willing to make deals with us. The Gods work *through* the natural laws, not outside them (usually). So there's no real danger of various gods making different 'natures' in different places - we're all One Substance, held together by the Web of Fate (and even the Fates are triple).



"There is also a self-defeating nature to the polytheistic denial of ultimate unity. Everything cannot be radically pluralistic. We live in a uni-verse not a multi-verse. Indeed, the polytheistic position is offered as a unified system of thought. But in presenting a unified thought about ultimate reality, they deny the very philosophy they are advocating."



Traditional polytheism always includes some variety of Monism - a category the author missed. Monism, as found in such systems as Vedanta, holds that all manifest existence is a part of One Great Whatsis. The nature of the Whatsis varies from culture to culture. Most often I think it's fair to call it One Great Process, in which the sum of the actions of all beings creates reality as we all find it, the reality in which both gods and mortals live. This One Process isn't willfull - it doesn't have a plan, it isn't a person - all such decisions must be made by the individuals who dance the Dance. Some radical monism has become near monotheism, especially under influence of invading monotheistic systems, but all ancient Indo-European Pagan systems have a monistic component.



If there are polytheistic Pagans that haven't noticed this, I do think they need to have a look. However, even the above two principles - Original Unity and Non-omni - cover a lot of these objections.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Buddhist Goddesses

Buddhist Goddesses Image
Wisdom Quarterly inspired by Brian Schell's Women in Buddhism (dailybuddhism.com)



Kwan Yin in Tibet: "Every person whose heart is moved by love and compassion, who deeply and sincerely acts for the benefit of others without concern for fame, profit, social position, or recognition expresses the activity of Chenrezig" (Bokar Rinpoche).



There are highly respected historical women in Buddhism, such as the Buddha's chief female disciples Khema Theri, Uppalavanna Theri, Maha Pajapati (the Buddha's stepmother and the first woman ordained as a nun), Maya Devi (the Buddha's birth mother), accomplished monastics and enlightened lay women. But no female is more famous than the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, Kwan Yin.



She is a bodhisattva, a being vowing to become a buddha to rescue others from suffering. She is also known as Kwannon, Kannon, Kuanyin, Guanyin, Guanshi'yin, and many other names throughout the East. Just as famously, she is the inspiration for many characteristics attributed to Mother Mary.



She is the feminine manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the male bodhisattva of compassion in Indian Buddhist lore. The name means "the lord who looks down." She remains male in Japan as Kannon Bosatsu, but even there is often depicted as female; the same happens in Tibet. Many believe that Kwan Yin is "both" masculine and feminine, male and female, yin and yang as called for by the situation. Such is the capacity of a "goddess" (devi).



Of course historically, Avalokita, as the bodhisattva of compassion is also known, was male. But in art as well as myth he evolved, combining with or being influenced by similar Chinese female characters to create the "goddess" the world knows as Kwan Yin.



She is depicted as a beautiful and graceful lady in flowing robes, extending mercy and comfort, sitting in meditation, overcoming dragons, and sometimes appearing in the manner of a Hindu deity with many arms (indicating the ability to do many things simultaneously). There are countless variations of stories, legends, prayers, and imagery for Kwan Yin. One very common origin-tale speaks of an exceedingly compassionate girl sentenced to death by her father. Her mantra is very famous.



Avalokiteshvara forms a protective trinity along with Manjushri and Vajrapani. He is the protector of the Lotus family of devas, which also includes Amitabha and Tara (wildmind.org)



Dharma protecting deity, an avian-hybrid kinnara (richard-seaman.com)


* Transcendence in India



* Women in Buddhism (DailyBuddhism.com)

* Religion21.com: Buddhism in the 21st Century



* Who are the Taras and Mother Goddess Green Tara?



Combining many characters: Considered a manifestation of Benzaiten by some, Kichijoten by others (Sanskrit = 'Sri-devi, Lakmi), the Buddhist goddess of beauty, luck, prosperity, and merit. "Daibenkudoku-ten is a manifestation of Kichijoten. Of Hindu origin. Born from the sea, the wife of Vishnu. It is believed that she grants prosperity and good luck. In Buddhism, she is worshipped as the wife of Bishamonten and the daughter of the Dragon King and Kishimojin (Sanskrit = Hariti). In Buddhism, she too presides over prosperity" (Sanjusangendo temple catalog).

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