Monday, November 30, 2009

The Story of Mahayana (Part I)

From its source in India, the Mahayana version of Buddhism spread to Central Asia, China, Japan, mainland Southeast Asia, Java, Sumatra, and even Sri Lanka (Abhayagiri monastery). Also known as the Northern School, it was considered more liberal and progressive than the Southern School (Theravada). Early Theravadins branded Northern Buddhism Acariya-vada, or “Teaching of the Patriarchs.”

Another term accepted by Mahayanists themselves to describe the Northern School is “Bodhisattva-yana,” or the “Bodhisattva Vehicle.” The bodhisattva (enlightenment delayed) is the Mahayana ideal, rather than the Theravadin arhat (immediate enlightenment) ideal.

Mahayana Buddhism is generally practiced in the countries of East Asia, namely, China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. (But usually, Nepal, Tibet, and the rest of Asia are also included under the term of “Northern” Buddhist). Mahayana became the Pan-Asiatic form of Buddhism. But it involved fundamental shifts in doctrine and approach for which there were precedents in earlier schools. Mahayana teaches that neither self (soul) nor dharmas (phenomena) exist.

The Mahayana view, as Nagarjuna puts it, is that “There is no real, independent existence of entities in the factors (pratyaya)” (Madhyama-Karika 1, 5). Mahayana is a populist, devotional movement that prefers worship to practice, but it utilizes Sanskrit, a language used by brahmins, scholars, and the Indian elite, whereas Prakrit (of which Pali is a form) was the language of the people, which the Buddha used to teach the Dharma widely.

In Mahayana, love of creatures (the Indian ideal of ahimsa) is exalted as the highest. A bodhisattva (one bent on becoming a buddha rather than attaining enlightenment as a disciple) is encouraged to offer the merit derived from good deeds for the good of others, just as the Buddha encouraged his disciples and arhats to do. The tension between morality and mysticism which agitated India also entered Mahayana.

Nature and Characteristics
Mahayana adherents adopt the method of non-dualism (advaya). That is, it does not accept that there exist such opposites as nirvana and samsara, or noumena and phenomena, and so on. Mahayana is more inclined towards a mystical approach. Like Hinduism, it believes in the spiritual apprehension of Truth beyond understanding: The conscious self can transcend bodily limitations and commune with, or become immersed in, some higher form of being. (This differs from the Buddha's gradual teaching of the Middle Way and the methodical Theravadin approach to reaching enlightenment and nirvana).

Mahayana is not merely metaphysical, dealing with the basic structure and principles of reality. Its teachings can be regarded as a theoretical, preparatory, instructional manual for the achievement of a desired state or condition. Thus, there is a coexistence of theoretical investigation and supreme experience. The former is the premise, the latter, the consequence.

The convergence of meditative exercises leads to an emptying of thought to reach a point where one proceeds from voidness to voidness and finally to the ultimate where even the minutest thought vanishes. (This corresponds to the goal of Raja yoga and Hinduism where samadhi, or the stilling of all thought-waves or vrittis, is the goal). Rational activity is exercised until it becomes quiescent: prajna (supreme wisdom) itself by successive emptying becomes nullified. Only in doing so does it identify with the unutterable ultimate reality.

Divinization and Multiplicity
In the Mahayana tradition, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni is viewed not merely as a human master and model but also as a supramundane being. Mahayana tends to be devotional and mystical, taking the Buddha almost in a theistic sense. With echoes of the Hindu idea of avatars, it is as if the Supreme Reality (Brahman) descended on earth in human form for the good of mankind.

He does this by multiplying himself and is reflected in a pentad of buddhas: Amitabha, Vairocana, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhava, and Amoghasiddhi. Some of these, usurping the place of Shakyamuni, are revealers of elaborate doctrines and complicated liturgies. The Mahayana concept of this Reality is never as a theistic creator but as Divine Love that out of compassion embodied itself in human form to uplift suffering humanity.

As Mahayana developed, a great deal of literature called Buddhavacana ("Revelation of the Buddha") was circulated, which went far beyond the ancient canons (such as the body of work preserved from the time of the Buddha by the Theravada tradition known as the Pali canon). It was proposed as the highest revelation, superseding prior texts. In this literature the teaching is viewed not as merely of one kind but as on various levels, each adapted to the intellectual capacity and karmic propensities of those who hear it.

The Buddha is no longer simply the historical sage (muni) of the Shakyas (his clan name) but is now supramundane (lokottara). Even the Sangha is of two types, that of this world and that beyond it. The devotion of the Mahayanists gave great impetus to Buddhist art in various forms.

The Bodhisattva Ideal
The Bodhisattva Gwan Shih Yin ("One who hears the cries of the innumerable suffering") is esteemed as the ideal in Mahayana is the Bodhisattva, a saintly figure who has vowed not to enter final nirvana (parinirvana) until the whole human race has achieved salvation with him. The essential premise of the bodhisattva ideal is to generate the thought of enlightenment to fulfill the vow to become a buddha, foregoing entrance into nirvana in order to remain in the world as long as there are creatures to be saved from suffering (which the historical Buddha did not do).

With that vow the aspirant begins the career of a bodhisattva, which traverses 10 stages or spiritual levels and achieves purification through the practice of the Ten Perfections (paramitas). These levels, which become progressively higher, elevate the bodhisattva to the condition of a buddha. The first six levels are preliminary, representing the true practice of the six perfections:
  1. generosity
  2. morality
  3. patience
  4. vigor
  5. concentration
  6. wisdom
Irreversibility occurs as soon as the seventh stage is reached. From this moment the bodhisattva assumes the true "buddha nature," even though further purification and fortification must be achieved in the stages that follow. This is the moment when, having performed his duty, he engages in activity aimed at completely fulfilling the obligations of a bodhisattva.

The difference between this and the preceding six stages is that now the activity is explained as an innate and spontaneous impulse manifested unconstrainedly and therefore not subjected to doubts. Everything is now uncreated, ungenerated; thus, the body of the bodhisattva becomes identified more and more completely with the essential body (dharma-kaya), with buddhahood, and with omniscience.

The Three Buddha Bodies (tri-kaya)

Mahayana Buddhism developed the doctrine of the Three Bodies, which forms the highest doctrine of this school of thought. The three bodies (modes of being) of the Buddha are rooted in the Theravada teachings concerning the physical body (consisting of four elements), the mental body, and the body of the Dharma. It is with the Mahayana, however, that the theory of the three bodies enters into the salvation process and assumes central significance in the doctrine.

The Two Buddhist Schools on Rules

Processon of monastics representing all traditions, Vesak 2009, Orange County (WQ)

There are two distinct Buddhist traditions, the older more "orthodox" Theravada and the newer, more "reformed" Mahayana. (Other traditions, like Zen and Vajrayana, are actually forms of Mahayana Buddhism). People rarely make the distinction because the separation is not absolute. Most of what is known about Buddhism is less to do with the historical Buddha and more to do with the Mahayana school and its teachings.
Buddhist monastics, known as the Sangha, are governed by 227 to 253 rules depending on the school or tradition for males (bhikkhus). There are between 290 and 354 rules, depending on the school or tradition, for females (bhikkhunis). These rules, contained in the Vinaya, are divided into several groups, each entailing a penalty for their breech, depending on its seriousness.

Four rules for males and the first eight for females, known as parajika or "rules of defeat," mean immediate expulsion from the Sangha. The four applying to both sexes are:
  1. sexual intercourse
  2. killing a human being
  3. stealing to the extent that it entails a gaol sentence
  4. claiming miraculous or supernormal powers

Nuns have additional rules related to various physical contacts with males with one relating to concealing from the Sangha the defeat of another. Before his passing, the Buddha instructed that permission was granted for the abandonment or adjustment of minor rules should prevailing conditions demand such a change. These rules apply to all Sangha members irrespective of their Buddhist tradition. The interpretation of the rules, however, differs between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions.

The Theravadins, especially those from Thailand, claim to observe these rules to the letter of the law. But in many cases the following is more in theory than in actual practice. The Mahayanists interpret the rule not to take food at an inappropriate time as not meaning fasting from noon to sunrise, like the Buddha specifies in the Vinaya, but to refrain from eating between mealtimes. The rule of fasting (from solids) from noon one day to sunrise the next might be inappropriate, from a health angle, for monastics living in cold climates such as China, Korea, and Japan.

When one examines why this rule was instituted initially, it is possible to reach the conclusion that it is currently redundant. It was the practice in the Buddha's time for mendicant ascetics to go to a village with bowls to collect alms. To avoid disturbing the villagers unnecessarily, the Buddha ordained that monastics only visit once a day, in the early morning. This would allow the villagers to be free to conduct their day to day affairs without being disturbed by ascetics requiring food. Today, however, people bring food to temples, monasteries, and nunneries or prepare it on the premises. So at least part of the original reason for the restriction may no longer apply. In any case, that is how the Mahayanists have chosen to alter the rule.

In Theravadin countries, the monastics still go on early morning alms rounds. This is, of course, more a matter of maintaining tradition than out of necessity. (It humbles and disciplines a person to recollect that s/he is dependent on the support of others -- and it is just this sort of asceticism that reform movement reject).

There is also a rule prohibiting the handling of "gold and silver," in other words, money. Mahayanists consider this rule a handicap, if it were it to be strictly observed in today's world. So they interpret it as avoiding the accumulation of riches, which leads to greed.

Theravadins split hairs on this rule in that, although most will not touch coins or cash, some might carry credit cards or check books, which they recognize as money. This skirts the letter of the rule but no way skirts the clear spirit of the rule. It is a wrongdoing to be confessed by conscientious ascetics. There is an alternative in place as laid down by the Buddha, and neither school need violate this precept: It is permissible to have money set aside for an individual monastic or collectively for those living together through a steward.

The steward is a responsible layperson (or a ten-precept observer) who handles money and requisites donated. Permissible items and needs, having been donated and deposited with a steward in a monk or nun's name, are then able to be utilized without violating the rule against handling money. More>>

Zen Comics

Ayahuasca cures addictions

( Ayahuasca is the world's most powerful herbal medicine. It is not a "drug" to be thought of as child's play but an entheogen and medicine to be respected. It is used to treat addiction, diabetes, AIDS, cancer, chronic fatigue, asthma, and so on. For other Amazonian herbal remedies available in the Occidental world, visit

This video was shot in tribute to the touching work of the Amazon shaman Elisa Vargas Fernandez. On a trip with John Easterling, founder and CEO of the Amazon Herb Co., she sang a song of love connecting us to shaman roots. The purpose of the trip was to cure a heroin addict the way it had healed an alcoholic, but the focus of the film became about love and access to knowledge regarding health and prosperity. See

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sex and the New Anti-Rape Condom

"RapeX is an anti-rape female condom invented by a South African woman named Sonette Ehlers. As a former employee with the South African Blood Transfusion Service, she treated many rape victims, which served as her inspiration for creating this device. RapeX is a female condom that is inserted into the vagina much like a tampon. It is made of latex, like a normal condom, but it is lined with 'shafts of sharp, inward-facing barbs.' If a man attempts to rape a woman, once he penetrates the woman, the condom would attach itself to the penis and cause severe pain to the man during withdrawal. Ideally, once the man is writhing on the floor, the woman would have enough time to escape the scene. In addition, the perpetrator would be unable to remove the female condom from his penis; he would have to get it surgically removed which would be a tell-tale sign to authorities and help in legal prosecution." More>>
(WQ) One undertakes to uphold the training rule to abstain from sensual misconduct (kamesu micchacara). This precept is often translated too narrowly as relating only to sexual misconduct. But it covers overindulgence in any sensual pleasure, such as gluttony. Clearly, restraint is more beneficial for everyone.
The AP investigated sexual misconduct in American schools, most of which is perpetrated by men with most attention going to women (

The Buddha defined it very specifically as intercourse with ten prohibited persons. The ten are those dependent on or under the "protection" of: (1) father, (2) mother, (3) parents, (4) brother, (5) sister, (6) relatives or clan, or of (7) their religious community; or with (8) those promised [in marriage], (9) protected by law entailing a penalty, and even (10) those betrothed with a garland [or some cultural symbol signifying engagement].

Does this mean that sex is to be avoided? Not at all. This Buddhist precept seems to suggest that sex freely entered into by persons able to consent is fine. Again, overindulgence, as in the case of gluttony, is best avoided. "Misconduct" means trying to fulfill one's desires in a way detrimental to others and society as a whole. When someone becomes independent, then that person is able to make his or her own decisions regarding sex. Have sex if you wish, but avoid sexual misconduct. Buddhists living in this way have much greater peace of mind and therefore a better ability to progress in meditation due to their skillful karma.

Temporary celibacy (even from thoughts of sensual indulgence) during periods of retreat or intensive meditation are an excellent way to move forward even while living in the world. It is expected that monastics, who needn't worry at all about this great time-consuming pursuit, are able to make much more progress. And for them it is vital to abstain completely (even from masturbation) because a serious lapse entails immediate expulsion along with karmic consequences. But we can neither have celibacy imposed on us, nor impose it on any independent person who is unwilling. Doing so has the tendency to yield nothing more than hypocrisy, guilt, shame, and remorse -- none of which are wholesome states of mind, which is particularly ironic when the act itself may not have been unwholesome.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sumerian civilization and Buddhist lore

A true story. A therapist unwittingly discovered some of the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented. Actual footage of her sessions with abductees is the centerpiece of this Hollywood film. Except the "aliens" were already known to humanity: They were very well documented by the Sumerian civilization. In 1972, an actual scale of measurement was established for alien encounters:
  • A UFO sighting is called an encounter of the first kind.
  • Evidence collected is known as the second kind.
  • Extraterrestrial contact is the third kind.
  • The fourth kind is abduction.

The fourth kind has been the most difficult to document -- until now. Set in remote Nome, Alaska, where a disproportionate number of the population has been reported missing every year, psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler began videotaping sessions with traumatized patients.

The Buddhist Story of Sumer

(WQ with Wikipedia) "Sumer" (Sumerian "Land of the Lords of Brightness," Akkadian Šumeru, possibly Biblical Shinar) is a clear reference to Buddhist asuras and/or devas ("beings of light" or "shining ones," frequently translated as "gods" or "demigods" in the Greek sense). Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Iraq (Mesopotamia). The word "Sumeru" is famed in Buddhist lore as a mountain (taken literally by many to be Mt. Kailash in Tibet). But Mt. Sumeru is no ordinary mountain; its proportions are far too big. It is, rather, the axis mundi -- a pole or post against which heights are measured corresponding to various celestial realms as understood by the ancients. These spheres are concentric planes of existence above the Earth in Buddhist cosmography and cosmogony. But the ideas are very old and are also known to the Sumerians, Indians, Zoroastrians, and Greeks.

Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the world. It is known as the Cradle of Civilization. The Sumerian civilization spanned over three-thousand years and began with the first settlement of Eridu in the Ubaid period (mid 6th millennium BC) through the Uruk period (4th millennium BC) and the Dynastic periods (3rd millennium BC) until the rise of Babylonia in the early 2nd millennium BC.

Sumer was the birthplace of writing, the wheel, agriculture, the arch, the plow, irrigation, and many other things -- all of which are credited to extraterrestrial visitors, asuras or titans (giants). In Buddhist lore, the asuras were cast out of Tavatimsa heaven by Sakka, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (The "kings" are the Four Great Kings of the lowest heavenly realm, whereas the "lords" are the "gods of the thirty-three" in superordinate Tavatimsa).

The Tavatimsa devas drove the asuras from their world, it is recorded, tossing them to the base of Mt. Sumeru, on Earth. That this is echoed in Christian mythology is not at all coincidental. This is religious history in numerous civilizations that has since become mythology. The ancient Zoroastrians of the same region (in an area archaeological researcher Dr. Ranajit Pal insists the Buddha was born) worship Ahura-Mazda, which is amazing name or more amazing coincidence. Ahura = asura? The asuras were once light beings devas dwelling in Tavatimsa until Sakka, the King of the Gods (i.e., the devas dwelling in that world) took advantage of their intoxication and threw them out. They have been engaged in a "heavenly war" Christians characterize as between arch angels and demons ever since.

Extraterrestrial technology was given to the Sumerians or left behind by the asuras who enslaved them. The cities of Sumer were therefore the first to practice year-round agriculture (from ca. 5300 BC). By 5000 BC the Sumerians had developed core agricultural techniques including large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and the use of a specialized labor force, particularly along the waterway now known as the Shatt al-Arab, from its Persian Gulf delta to the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The surplus of stored food created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place instead of migrating after crops and grazing land. It also allowed for a much greater population density, and in turn required an extensive labor force and division of labor. This organization led to the development of writing (ca. 3500 BC). The alphabet and script used were apparently also not of human origin.

Sanskrit, one of the principal Buddhist languages (some say the principal), was also brought down from a celestial world. It is called dēva-bhāṣā meaning the "divine language" or the "language of devas or demigods." This is to distinguish it from Prakrit or the artless language spoken by ordinary humans, which is what the Buddha -- as a human speaking to humans -- spoke. Now, all of this may not be true, but it is amazing that so many cultures speak of it as historical fact.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beliefs of All the World's Religions

Himalayan Academy

IF RELIGIONS HAVE EVER CONFUSED or confounded, take heart. The following gathers from hundreds of sources a simple summary of the world's major spiritual paths. The strength of this undertaking, brevity, is also its flaw. Complex and subtle distinctions and exceptions are consciously set aside for the sake of simplicity. There are hundreds of books addressing deeper matters, but none that have attempted a straightforward comparative summary. There is a need for a no nonsense review of religions.

  • EXAMPLE: The goal of Buddhism is nirvana, the end of all suffering, literally, "blowing out." Theravada tradition describes the indescribable as "peace and tranquility." The Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions view it as "neither existence nor nonexistence," "emptiness and the unchanging essence of the Buddha" and "ultimate reality." It is synonymous with release from the bonds of desire, ego, suffering, and rebirth. Escape to reality. Of the ultimate reality it is said, "There is an unborn, an unoriginated, an unmade, an uncompounded...if there were not, no escape from the born, originated, made, and compounded would be possible." Nirvana is peace, happiness, and reality, not annihilation.
Juxtaposing a few major beliefs can highlight how the major world religions and secular philosophies are similar and different. This section will give a good grasp of the essential truths of every major religion practiced today on the planet. It may also dispel the myth that all religions are one, that they all seek to lead by the same means to the same Ultimate Reality. They don't. The 171 beliefs in this study may lead to the realization that one is a Buddhist-Christian-Existentialist or a Taoist-New Age-Materialist... More>>

Ahimsa (Jain sutras by Nithyananda)

(LifeBlissFoundation) From the works of the realized master Paramahamsa Nithyananda, this talk describes how ahimsa (nonviolence) is the supreme religion. Establishing oneself in nonviolence is a foundation to establish oneself in truth. Using powerful examples, Nithyananda explores the Jain sutras in a lecture delivered in Los Angeles.

Beyond Desire (Jain sutras by Nithyananda)

(LifeBlissFoundation) In this talk on the Jain sutras, Swami Nithyananda discusses how we bind ourselves with insecurity and desires. Non-possessiveness (aparigraha) is the antidote. When asked to deeply analyze the situation, we see that we cannot enjoy things when we're bound to hold onto them. Non-possessiveness is always discussed after non-violence because only one established in non-violence is able to liberate oneself from possessions. Dropping desires is foolishness, according to Nithyananda, because increasing one's inner space to accommodate them is the real trick.

Meanwhile, the consensus reality says "grab all you can"

Views Denying the Workings of Karma

Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw The Workings of Kamma (edited by Seven, Wisdom Quarterly)

The 3 Views that Deny the Workings of Karma

There are three wrong views (ditthi) that deny the workings of karma and result:
  1. Inefficiency (akiriya) denies the workings of actions.
  2. Rootlessness (ahetuka) denies the root or cause of results.
  3. Non-Existence (natthika) denies the result of any cause.

This view denies the workings of unskillful and skillful actions. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Purana Kassapa. The Buddha explains how identity view (the belief in an enduring-self, denying egolessness) gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness [the Five Aggregates], monastics, by clinging to [them or to] consciousness, by adhering to [them or to] consciousness, such a view as [inefficiency] arises:

  • ‘If with a razor-rimmed wheel one were to make living beings of this Earth into one mass of flesh, into one heap of flesh, because of this there would be no wrongdoing and no outcome of wrongdoing.
  • 'If one were to go along the south bank of the Ganges river killing and slaughtering, mutilating and encouraging others to mutilate, torturing and encouraging others to torture, because of this there would be no wrongdoing and no outcome of wrongdoing.
  • 'If one were to go along the north bank of the Ganges offering gifts and encouraging others to give gifts, making offerings and encouraging others to make offerings, because of this there would be no merit and no outcome of merit.
  • 'By offering, by taming oneself, by self-control, by speaking truth, there is no merit and no outcome of merit.’"

This wrong view denies the efficiency [effectiveness] of unwholesome and wholesome actions, which is to deny the efficiency of karma.

The rootlessness view holds that events are determined by fate, or by circumstance, or by nature (i.e., "biology is destiny"), denying that events have a root or cause. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Makkhali Gosala. The Buddha explains how identity view gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness, monastics, by clinging to [these or to] consciousness, by adhering to [these or to] consciousness, such a view as [rootlessness] arises:

  • ‘There is no root and there is no cause for the defilement of beings; without root and without cause beings are defiled.
  • 'There is no root and there is no cause for the purification of beings; without root and without cause beings are purified.
  • 'There is no power, there is no energy, there is no [supportive (viriya)] strength, there is
    no [supportive] endurance.
  • 'All beings, all breathers, all creatures, all living beings, are without ability, without power, and without energy: molded by fate, circumstance, and nature, they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes.’"

The "six classes" of pleasure and pain taught here by Makkhali Gosala are a sixfold system of purification that he said has no cause either. This wrong view denies that events have a root or cause, which is to deny that there are causes such as karma.

This view holds that only materiality [form, the body, physicality] has true existence and denies that actions have any result. For that reason, it denies also that there is rebirth, that there are other planes of existence, and denies that there are teachers such as the Buddha who know and see these things. In the Buddha’s time, it was taught by Ajita Kesakambali.

The Buddha explains how the identity view gives rise to such a wrong view: "When there is [materiality, feeling, perception, formations, or] consciousness, monastics, by clinging to [them or to] consciousness, by adhering to [them or to] consciousness, such a view as [nonexistence] arises:

  • 'There is no offering, there is no alms giving, there is no sacrifice; there is no fruit or result of skillful and unskillful karma; there is no this world, there is no other world; there is no [special significance to] mother, there is no father; there are no spontaneously born beings [being born without parents such as celestial and infernal beings]; there are not in the world any ascetics or brahmins, rightly faring, rightly practicing, who (with direct knowledge) having themselves realized this world and the other world declare it.
  • 'This person consists of the four great essentials [elements]. When one dies, earth enters and rejoins the body of the earth; water enters and rejoins the body of water; fire enters and rejoins the fire; wind enters and rejoins wind: the faculties are transformed into space. With the bier as the fifth, pallbearers carry away the corpse. As far as the cemetery is the body known. The bones whiten. Sacrifices end in ashes. A foolish wisdom is this offering.
  • 'When anyone maintains the existence-doctrine [that there is a result of offering, of skillful and unskillful actions, etc.], it is false, idle talk. Fools and the wise, with the breakup of the body, are annihilated, perish, and do not exist after death.’"

This wrong view is an annihilation (uccheda) view, and is the same as the view of materialism. When the Buddha explains basic Right-View (samma-ditthi, a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path), he often contrasts it with this wrong view.

Suu Kyi asks to meet Burma rulers

Aung San Suu Kyi is seeking to co-operate for the "benefit of the nation" (AFP)

( Burma's jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has offered her "co-operation" to the country's military government and seeks a meeting with the top general, her party says.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD), said on [11/16/09] that Aung San Suu Kyi wrote to the military government last week.

"She wrote that she wanted to co-operate for the benefit of the nation and asked to be allowed to explain some facts to the senior general," Nyan Win, who is also a member of her legal team, said. More>>

Taliban suffocate Pakistan-Buddhist heritage

Sajjad Tarakzai (AFP)
TAXILA, Pakistan — Archaeologists warn that the Taliban are destroying Pakistan's ancient Gandhara heritage and rich Buddhist legacy as pilgrimage and foreign research dries up in the country's northwest.

"Militants are the enemies of culture," said Abdul Nasir Khan, curator of Taxila Museum, one of the premier archaeological collections in Pakistan. "It is very clear that if the situation carries on like this, it will destroy our culture and destroy our cultural heritage," he told AFP.

Taxila, a small town around 13 miles (20 km) south of Islamabad, is one of Pakistan's foremost archaeological attractions given its history as a center of Buddhist learning from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century. More>>

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buddhism Dictionary - Download Dictionary - About - Contact - Pali Buddhist Dictionary - Buddhist Glossary - Yoga Dictionary is the Net's midpoint of Buddhist terms. As the Buddha said, "An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea." Following this premise, brings you the best online collection of Buddhist terms and dictionaries on the Web. Within our dictionaries of Buddhism are terms in Sanskrit and Pali translated into English, with precise and thorough explanations. As a bonus, there is also a Yoga dictionary, containing a lively selection of key Yoga terms used by Yoga practitioners the world over. enables the study of key Buddhist terms and the fundamentals of Buddhism.

Call to Awakening (video)

(Innerbalance11) NPW is the time. This is a call to awakening to help others in their awakening. We can all feel the shift in consciousness. We can all sense our personal call to awakening. Become what you know you are capable of becoming.

"Eating Animals" on the American table

Jessica Roy (

Jonathan Safran Foer's beef with factory farms
The exciting author discusses the new book Eating Animals and the hefty cost of cheap food. It is an indictment of the corrupt, large-scale factory farming that dominates the American meat market and issues of food safety. A journalistic work with a novelistic feel, the book is the result of three years investigating the U.S. meat industry... Article
  • Order Your FREE Vegetarian Starter Kit
    Guide with information, tips, and recipes to help you transition to a cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and super healthy plant based diet (
  • PCRM Health: Free Vegetarian Starter Kit
    Includes health articles written by physicians, as well as "The 3-step way to go vegetarian" (
  • Vegetarian Starter Kit (PDF)
    Vegetarian foods are powerful tools for health, the environ-ment, and living a life of wisdom and compassion. Published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (
  • Get A Veg Starter Kit
    Complete the form below to receive your free Veg Starter Kit. This 32-page color magazine explains the benefits of a veg diet (for health, animals, and the planet) (
  • The New Four Food Groups
    The new guidelines (

Going for Rogue: Buddhists for Sarah Palin?

Jerry Kolber (ThreeDollarDinner) more at The Interdependence Project (

Some Buddhists love Barack Obama (a Buddha-like politician). Could others feel the same for pseudo-feminist Sarah Palin? Would they consider going for refuge? Her book Going Rogue has just come out. And she's using the release as another opportunity to prove why she is just another in a long line of folks who have squandered the power of having national attention.

Rather than looking deep into the unifying ideas of her own Christian tradition and transforming her fear, selfishness, and separateness into a positive force in national politics, she continues to peddle and parade...her insecurities in the guise of false morality.

What made her famous a year ago, after going crazy before going rogue (TPM TV)

She does this all while watching over her shoulder for the scantily clad shadow figure of baby daddy Levi Johnston [who's now appearing nude in Playgirl magazine]. This is a great thing for Buddhists.... I am considering starting a club where anyone can come offer compassion to metamorphose anger at public figures into something useful and transformative -- the "Buddhists for Sarah Palin" club. Anyone want to join?

Obama almost doesn't pardon turkey

Obama reluctantly pardons Courage, sentences it to Disneyland (CBS News video link)

"You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office," Obama [a Buddha-like president trying to prove he's a real man's man] exclaimed today. "And then there are moments like this, where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland."

With a light tone and his daughters in tow, Mr. Obama participated in a relatively recent tradition on the day before Thanksgiving: the presidential turkey pardon. Though he eventually raised his hand over "Courage," the bird in question, to offer a pardon, the president suggested he was somewhat reticent to do so.

"That's a good looking bird," Mr. Obama said, later stating that his daughters convinced him to go through with the pardon. "Thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha, because I was planning to eat this sucker, Courage will also be spared this terrible...fate." More>>

The CIA writes books and ads

CIA’s Lost Magic Manual Resurfaces
Noah Shachtman (Nov. 24, 2009)
At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document — and a related paper, on conveying hidden signals — were believed to be destroyed in 1973. But recently, the manuals resurfaced, and have now been published as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.” Topics include working a clandestine partner, slipping a pill into the drink of the unsuspecting, and “surreptitious removal of objects by women.” "Categories: Spies, Secrecy, and Surveillance).

New CIA Recruitment Ads Target Middle Easterners
The Arab American News
DEARBORN, Michigan — CIA officials recently unveiled two new television recruitment ads targeting Middle Easterners to a group of Arab Americans in Dearborn, reports The Arab American News. One ad featured Iranian Americans, while the other featured Arab Americans. According to the news report, the Iranian-American ad depicted Iranians differently... More>>

CIA cookbook dishes up spy tales
Al Kamen (Nov. 25, 2009)
And now, just in time for the holidays, here's something for that special someone who has everything: It's the CIA's latest cookbook, More Spies, Black Ties & Mango Pies. This is the sequel to the spy agency's out-of-print 1997 cookbook. [Julia Child spied for the CIA, so why not a cookbook?] The bureaucracy moves slowly it seems, or maybe good cooking just takes time. Recipes on killing for fun and profit

CIA "mind control" on LA Radio: Dr. Colin Ross
Dr. Ross (pictured) is a psychiatrist and author of Bluebird, the book that exposed the MK-ULTRA BLUEBIRD project that created intelligence operatives programmed via trauma-based "mind control." The MONARCH project, revealed by Cathy O'Brien (pictured) and others, created "sex slaves," persons with extensive sexual programming used to facilitate espionage and blackmail. BLUEBIRD is cited in publicly available CIA documents. More>>

Khmer Rouge torturer expresses remorse

Khmer Rouge Chief Torturer Expresses "Excruciating Remorse"
Cambodia (Fox News) -- The Khmer Rouge's chief torturer and jailer has expressed "excruciating remorse" for more than 14,000 people killed under his watch, Sky News reported. [Formerly a communist in a Buddhist country, he converted to Christianity.]

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," was in charge at a notorious prison during Cambodia's ultra-Maoist revolution of the 1970s. The 67-year-old former math teacher admits being liable for the killings but insists he was serving a mafia-type group "I could not withdraw from," Sky News reported. More>>

"The Killing Fields" is on par with or exceeds in power any war movie ever made.

UFOs from the Akasha Deva world

Leonard David Space Insider columnist (
(MSNBC) In the chronicles of UFO odd-ness, there's been a long-standing oddity — some say folklore, others deem it reality. This saga, now over four decades old, centers on a reported out-of-the-sky incident involving the small town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. More>>

A Nice Jewish Boy: Rabbi Drug Dealer

Drugs-case rabbi "became recluse after wife died"
John Scheerhout (, Nov. 24, 2009)

Baruch Chalomish is accused of running a drug dealing business, a court heard along with a series of testimonials from friends who lavished praise on the rabbi.

The 54-year-old defendant admits possessing drugs but denies two counts of dealing them. Police arrested the rabbi and a convicted drug dealer, Nasir Abbas, when they raided a hotel apartment in Manchester, on January 5. They found 50 grams of cocaine, digital scales, cash, and a cutting agent used to dilute drugs before they are sold on, the jury has been told.

Police also went to Chalomish’s house on Upper Park Road, Salford, and found a further 50 grams of the drug, more cutting agents, and cash. He has said he had spent as much as £1,000-a-week on cocaine and has admitted using prostitutes. Full story
  • "Nice Jewish girls don't go to the drug rehab"
    ( Carla Sosenko's Bubbe has some advice for singer Amy Winehouse: "Amele, We don't know each other, but I saw in the news today that you were "disheveled and unkempt" at your husband's court hearing. I am worried about you, mameleh. You are a Nice Jewish Girl, and your life is going down the toilet."
  • Is religious drug rehab constitutional?
    The American Jewish Congress filed a brief in support of a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to consider the case of a man forced to participate in a religious drug rehabilitation program in order to avoid incarceration and a criminal record. In Hanas v. Michigan, Joseph Hanas was required to attend a Pentacostalist religious drug rehabilitation program under the direct authority of the court that handled the criminal allegations against him. The program mandated Hanas to stay away from his own Catholic church and its clergy.
  • Cocaine, the "Breakfast of Champions," for cruelly treated horses down at the race track

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jain Love Story (celibate nun elopes)

"Missing" [female ascetic] found, had eloped to get married
Times of India

AHMEDABAD, India -- When Kiran Pandya got his sister's call from the city of Mehsana, he could not believe his ears. Pandya, who stormed the Jain fraternity in the city along with police, was shocked to know that his beloved sister, who had taken to Jainism and gotten diksha at the age of 9, now shunned the holy life to marry a youth from the community.

According to sources, Pandya was in the city for last three days searching for his missing sister. Talking to the Times of India (TOI) on Tuesday, Pandya raised questions about the safety and whereabouts of Mahasatiji Ojasvinibai, 28.

"In the wake of strange incidents happening with sadhus and sadhvis [male and female ascetics] of Jainism, I fear that she might have been abducted."

...Jain sangh members told TOI that [the female ascetic] Ojasvinibai met Mr. Ashish Bhavsar, a youth from Viramgam while on Chaturmaas (the four-month Rains Retreat, when ascetics stay at one place) at Mehsana. It was mutual attraction, according to the duo, who decided to get married. As per plan, she left the upashraya and the world of religion behind and donned the new identity of Archana. The duo then went to Bali in Rajasthan for a civil marriage in front of the marriage registrar. More>>


( Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Vasumati. She was the daughter of King Dadhivahan and Queen Dharini of the city of Champapuri.

One day a war broke out between King Dadhivahan and the king of nearby Kosambi. Dadhivahan was defeated and had to run away in despair. When Princess Vasumati and Queen Dharini learned of the defeat, they also decided to escape.

While they were running away a soldier from the enemy army spotted and captured them. Princess Vasumati and her mother were scared not knowing what the soldier would do to them. He told the queen that he would marry her and that he would sell Vasumati. Upon hearing this, the queen went into shock and died.

The soldier immediately felt sorry for his remarks and decided not to make any more comments. He took Vasumati to Kosambi to sell her. When it was Vasumati's turn to be sold in the slave market... More>>