Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween: Is there a "devil' or a "God"?

Dhr. Seven, Maya, Pat Macpherson, Amber Larson Wisdom Quarterly HALLOWEEN SERIES
Is the Devil "Death" (Mara) personified? (Patrick Woodroffe/
Why do we carve pumpkin jack o' lanterns for Halloween? (
Does Wisdom Quarterly believe in the Christian "devil"? 
Sakka (St. Michael) conquers the titan Vepacitti
No, not as such. Just as we do not believe in a "God" as Christians say. But there is something, and we think that would surprise most readers.
There is little reason to believe in an "all evil" entity motivating unwholesome karma. This would take away the agency of individuals, of ordinary beings to engage in unskillful conduct on their own. By ourselves is "good" and "evil" done or left undone. We often cite the quote, "No one saves us but ourselves; no one can and no one may; we ourselves must walk the path; buddhas only point the way." 
The devil "made" me do it
"Simpsons Bloody Simpsons" with evil Moe Sizlak, Homer, and famous bar patron
There are supernatural agencies. There is the famous case of Maha Moggallana recounting a discussion with Mara Namuci ("the Evil One," the onerous tempter figure who tried to dissuade Siddhartha from liberation during his time under the Bodhi tree and constantly harassed him to stop teaching).

In that sutra (MN 50), a previous mara, Mara Dusi (or Mara "the Corrupter"), incites Brahmins to unduly rebuke enlightened Buddhist monastics then later incites other Brahmins to unduly praise them, each time in the hopes of revealing a defilement Mara Dusi might exploit, each time unsuccessful, but each time leading to heavy karmic results for the Brahmins involved: The first are mostly reborn in miserable destinations, the second are mostly reborn in desirable destinations. How could this be if it were Mara Dusi's karma, not the Brahmin's intentional deeds?
Happy what? - Grumpy Cat (Huffington Post)
 The Commentary goes to great lengths to explain how; it was, in fact, both Mara Dusi's and the Brahmin's doings: Mara Dusi did not "make" them do what they did. He merely filled their heads with blameworthy or praiseworthy visions of the monastics through his supernatural power to influence their minds.
They reacted in a predictable manner as he hoped they would. Seeing visions of hypocrisy, for example, they reviled and cursed the arhat monastics. Mara Dusi met with his karmic results, a dreadful rebirth in Avici, the "waveless" or "unrelenting" infernal waste, a hell of the most horrific torments. The Brahmins went on to meet with their just deserts, which may not sound "fair" to us, but that is mainly because we do not normally realize that the magnitude of our karma does not merely depend on the doer and intention; it also has a great deal to do with the virtue of the recipient. What we do toward enlightened beings -- whether they be stream enterers, once returners, non-returners, arhats -- bears the greatest results.
We got power!
Wonder Women and Super Men
We can be affected by others, both seen and unseen beings. The "devil" can sort of make one do something, sort of. Even we have that power: we can discourage or encourage, lead or mislead, help or ruin others. How difficult is it? But to say that we "make" anyone do anything is not quite correct. We inspire or incite. We can do it for good or ill. 
God, the judge of all deeds? Or is it karma?
That is not to say that these monolithic polar opposite figures, the devil and God, can take all the credit. We are involved. We are co-creators. We are "GOD" (Brahman, the ALL, not to be confused with a personal Brahma), just as Jesus (both the mythical Christ and the historical Jewish radical from Nazareth who bears the mantle of so many Church legends and popular misconceptions) is reputed to have said. We have the potential for "divinity" -- to be reborn as devas ("shining ones," light beings, celestial citizens in superior albeit impermanent space worlds, and even in rarefied immaterial planes of existence, all of which are referred to as "heavens" (sagga). 
"Teacher of gods and humans," the Buddha, Himalayas (Michael Foley/
Buddhist jack o lantern (Tracy Lee/flickr)
As humans we can even reach much higher than that -- to the end of all rebirth and suffering. This goes beyond Maha Brahma, other brahmas, as well as sensual-sphere devas, rupa-devas (fine-material-sphere light beings), and arupa-devas (immaterial-sphere beings). We are capable of enlightenment, be it final knowledge in this very life, or stream entry, which ensures that we are reborn here or elsewhere no more than a maximum of seven times. We would never again be susceptible to falling into births in worlds of deprivation lower than the human plane. One might live for millions of years, even for aeons, in superior worlds before final knowledge and complete liberation. That is more than any ordinary deva or brahma, any angel or god, can claim. It is a "change of lineage" (gotrabhu) from mundane to noble.
The devil in me
What motivates unskillful behavior? Asavas
We are often agents of good, but WE are the Ahriman, the antithesis, members of "Mara's Army" (subject to asavas or "defilements" of the heart/mind, the taints, the fetters), who could be called the Devil. There are demons, asuras (titans), yakkhas (ogres), narakas (denizens of hell), nagas (reptilians), pretas (spirits, ghosts, general shapeshifting troublemakers).
God: angry, sexist, and racist
God (Maha Brahma, YHWH, Allah, the Alpha and the Omega) is not really the "God" adherents think -- an all-good, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent  creator or uncaused first cause of everything in the universe. Those beings (yes, there are many gods of all kinds) may claim or believe themselves to be all that, but they are not. It is hyperbole and overestimation, a deceptive and deluded reputation. They can be so grand and glorious that it seems like they are -- dazzling, long lived, judgmental, humble, vengeful, exalted, arrogant, angry, loving, compassionate, beneficent, equanimous...
Sexism, racism, slavery, war, genocide by and for God? (See the Bible's Book of Judges for murder, mayhem, and human suffering ordered by the angry jealous tribal Jewish God. Who follows a character like this? The world much prefers the peaceful son and the Marys.)
The many visitors from space who manipulated human DNA to make these physical forms as they are did not thereby create the "being" (gandhabba, atman) reborn in this form on this planet. Various theologies attribute this kind of "creation" to the God of their conception of reality. It is as if something (an eternal soul) came out of nothing (dust and breath, materiality and prana). But "we" have gone on and on -- as have all living beings -- in this cycling samsara (the "continued wandering on") or Wheel of Rebirth and Death.
Devils are real
There are "devils," inimical spirits, of all kinds as in China (Greal-Wall-Hikers/flickr)
If, then, there is no devil as Christians say, Is there a being like him? Yes, we think so. This belief of ours comes from a shaman mentioned in the anthropological research of Michael J. Harner (The Sound of Rushing Water, 1968):
"Many times the Christian missionary had told [the shaman medicine man] Mashu of the devil feared by white men. But since he had never seen the spirit, Mashu remained skeptical. Some time later, after drinking natema [the local variety of ayahuasca], Mashu was confronted by this figure of the "white man's devil." Since that time, Mashu has remained convinced of this spirit's reality."
There are many divine goddesses or devis
So we think something exists, some quite scary beings -- devils (maras), serpents/dragons/seamonsters (nagas), demons (yakkhas, asuras), shapeshifters (petas, politicians), avians (garudas), and so on. But one all-inclusive "devil" who is the epitome of evil, the source of everything bad, the defiler of all humankind, who ruined the first Adam and the first Eve? No, these are all oversimplifications based on things that may have actually happened. Early genetic synthetic experiments, a kind of "creationism," led to the Adama, a race of humans, "modern humans" millions of years ago. (See Michael Cremo for the real age of Homo sapien sapiens, modern humans, who are in fact very ancient). This did not happen once, but happens again and again, for samsara is cyclical in staggering stretches of time (kalpas) too big to conceive of. The truth is much stranger than myth and fiction.

"When the dust has settled, and you're born again, maybe as a [Martian], maybe then you'll see that your reality was squashed into banality, was squashed into banality!" - Nick Blinko

"The God-idea"
Ven. Nyanaponika (BPS,, ATI)
Buddhism has sometimes been called an atheistic teaching, either in an approving sense by freethinkers and rationalists or in a derogatory sense by people of theistic persuasion. Only in one way can Buddhism be described as atheistic, namely, in so far as it denies the existence of an eternal, omnipotent God or godhead who is the creator and ordainer of the world.
The word "atheism" -- however, like the word "godless" -- frequently carries a number of disparaging overtones or implications, which in no way apply to the Buddha's teaching. Those who use the word "atheism" often associate it with a materialistic doctrine that knows nothing higher than this world of the senses and the slight happiness it can bestow. Buddhism is nothing of that sort. In this respect it agrees with the teachings of other religions... More

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Devil's media on my TV (video)

Pat Macpherson, Pfc. Sandoval, Wisdom Quarterly;; HALLOWEEN SERIES
Yama (King of the Dead), demon, temple guardian, hell warden (o_0/

(AncientAliensTruth) The real history and legendary exaggeration of "The Devil"
I quite like it.
"Black Metal: The Music of Satan" is a no holds barred documentary on the Black Metal scene in Europe and America from the mind of Bill Zebub. [Uh, Pat, we can't show that video. What, why? It's so funny! BANNED by you-know-who for a scene that is too explicit to air. We're going in a different direction, something on the surprising history of the devil. JERRY SPRINGER? No, the Bible guy.]

(MrB) Have we been duped by evil Hollywood moguls again?
Is the "Jerry Springer Show" fake or an exploration of America's
repugnant underbelly? KCAL 9 News, Los Angeles, investigates.
Some people think of American and Norwegian church burnings and murders when they hear the term "black metal." This documentary is not for those people. Zebub wanted to prove that a documentary about black metal could be entertaining without sensationalism. Sensationalism? Let's go with that! Will the real Scandinavian "Black Metal" please stand up:

(MVDmusicvideo) "Black Metal Satanica" WARNING: Shocking!
"Black Metal Satanica" is an in-depth music documentary. It captures the dark, mystical, and evil history of the genre. Based on Scandinavian Viking lore, it borrows from ancient Viking melodies, lyrics, and mythology dating back to the 11th century. A new wave of musicians give their take on the current state of the music and the extreme, almost inhuman, acts that surround this controversial subculture. Self-mutilation, murder, suicide, church-burning, the desecration of graves and corpses are all covered here in shocking and graphic detail!
Tibetan chakrabhava "Wheel of Existence" sacred tapestry (
Hey, man, it's just musick.
See the artists express themselves candidly while, of course, some embarrass themselves with their detachable facades. But that's entertainment! The show must go on, and the masks must fall off.

From the mind of Grimoire Magazine and films like "Death Metal: Are We Watching You Die?," "Metal Retardation," and "Black Metal: Norwegian Legacy."

This documentary features interviews with bands like King Diamond (Mercyful Fate), Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Venom, Darkthrone, Behemoth, Immortal, Enthroned, Enslaved, Satyricon, Marduk, and many more.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) craze
(The Fine Bros/ Episode 38: "Raver Madness" (new episodes every Tuesday)
  • Does Wisdom Quarterly actually believe in the Christian "devil" or "God" for that matter?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our True Ghost Story (video)

Pat Macpherson, Pfc. Sandoval, Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly HALLOWEEN TEAM

(Dave Symes) Now, kids, obey the nice police. They're only here to protect you from expressing yourselves and saying things you might regret later. This is just like the Battle at Kruger:

(Jason Schlosberg) Now, water buffs, obey the nice lions.
They're only here to eat you alive.

Gary Holt, Tom, Kerry King, Paul (LAW)
One strange (i.e., paranormal) thing did happen at the Slayer concert! It sounds silly to recount it given that one might discuss the societal or interpersonal freak show that most any concert in Hollywood becomes.

Standing, watching the show from the pit -- a sweaty, chaotic mass of humanity pressing in with everyone blocking the view by throwing up "Hang Ten" hand signs -- it was mesmerizing to watch it for a few seconds from the vantage point of a well placed little screen.

The person in front was videotaping through a good quality cellphone with a good size screen. He was holding it up above the fray, so by looking up one had a good vantage point. He was focusing it on Kerry King during a quick guitar solo. We very clearly saw Jeff Hanneman playing guitar with his unmistakeable long blond hair.
Not having previously thought much about who else was now playing guitar on tour with Slayer, we were standing stage right in front of the deafening speakers, 20 feet or so away from the stage where the crush of fans is not all-consuming.

Kerry King (right) and Jeff Hanneman (Jesse Davis biography-tribute video, see below)
Hey, Jeff, I've been waiting. - Just one more solo, Mara! (
Now when the camera came down, we saw Kerry King playing guitar on our right. We rushed forward to figure out who was stage left. Were there five people up there? No. The Hanneman-replacement (Gary Holt) was on his own side of the stage, and he doesn't look anything like Hanneman. We searched and searched the stage from various angles in case someone had fallen back obstructed by the stacks playing rhythm guitar in addition to the duo, who were not interacting but just keeping to their sides.

When the camera and arm came down, it had clearly been pointing at a bald, head-tattooed Kerry King, not a long-haired blond guitarist. They look nothing alike. We assumed that who had been in the frame must have just stepped aside, but no. The sheen of Hanneman's hair magnified and amplified, glowing as luminescent pixels on the screen, left an even greater impression, in jarring contrast to King's baldness.
It is due to karma -- actions willed, carried out, and accumulated -- that one lives.

Flesh eating bacteria destroy a limb (wiki)
Then it dawned on us whose image had been on that camera screen -- that was DEAD Jeff Hanneman! (Hanneman died this year as a result of  liver failure due to years of drug and alcohol abuse and perhaps demons after a mysterious spider bite that led to him contracting a crippling case of necrotizing fasciitis, "flesh-eating disease," which almost led to the amputation of his right arm). His story is told here:

Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013) memorial tribute by Jesse Davis

Did the image appear as a transient interaction between an electronic device and our eyes, the camera capturing and transducing a haint, making visible for a moment what the unaided eye cannot normally see? Or was their a documented intersection of planes: Did Hanneman's image appear on the digital video that person's camera was taking? There was no one on stage who looked anything like Hanneman, certainly no one wielding a guitar. We'll have to go through our messy, poorly lit photos and footage in search of paranormal artifacts.
Edgar Cayce, Sleeping Prophet
But if the person who was filming finds Hanneman on it, please contact us! (Leave a comment in the Comments section with a way to contact you). Up the street at the Magic Castle, private members conduct a seance trying to contact the Great Houdini. It's been almost a century, and they have not reported any success. Here along Sunset Blvd., where a bicyclist once died right in front of the Palladium just before a Slayer show, having been driving without a helmet and being side swiped by a slow moving semi truck (a head is no match for asphalt), a deceased band member steps in, occupies, possesses his erstwhile friend and musical partner for a moment of Hollywood glory on stage together again. 

This really happened, as hokey as it may sound. But "see is believing," and we know what we saw. Without digital evidence there is no sense in others believing. So readers can take comfort in that. Halloween is just a few days away. The Moon is round. And The Veil is thinning in this hemisphere, just as it was a few months ago for Obon in Asia on the other side of the planet. This thinning between the dimensions, the Planes of Existence (as outlined in Buddhist cosmology), allows for the interaction of the worlds here on Earth. We coexist with animals and space-devas ("shining ones") and space-others [asuras, nagas, gandharvas: celestial titans/Annunaki (as explained by Michael "Forbidden Archeologist" Cremo), reptilians/Draconians, and angelic messenger-musicians].

Global Warming, Climate Chaos (forum)

Wisdom Quarterly;

As the New York region marks the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, hurricane-strength winds are battering northern Europe today. At least a dozen people have already been killed across Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. Amidst an increase in extreme weather and unseasonably powerful storms, Democracy Now! takes a look at the movement to confront climate chaos with Mary Robinson, former Irish president and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. She now heads the Mary Robinson Foundation -- Climate Justice, where her efforts include campaigning for the divestment from fossil fuels. "We can no longer invest in companies that are part of the problem of the climate shocks we’re suffering from," Robinson says. "To me it’s a little bit like the energy behind the anti-apartheid movement when I was a student. We were involved because we saw the injustice of it. There’s an injustice in continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies that are part of the problem."
(Film Festivals and Indie Films)

Classical Buddhist art in San Francisco (photos)

Boonlieng Wongchaowart (photog); Wisdom Quarterly; Asian Art Museum of S.F.
The Buddha (levitating) alongside celestial space-devas and possibly from left to right: the Buddha's four chief disciples, the nun Khema, the monks Sariputra and Maha Moggallana, and the nun Uppalavanna (Boonlieng/
The future Buddha Maitreya (boonlieng/

Monday, October 28, 2013

"The Ghost Stories" (Petavatthu)

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Abbot Karunananda (Bodhi Vihara), Wisdom Quarterly; G.P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names  (Pali Text Society)
The "Brown Lady" ghost seen manifesting as ecstoplasm on the staircase (
Seance, circa 1920 (C2C)
PETA VATTHU: The seventh book of the Khuddaka Nikāya (The Miscellany) consists of stories of persons born in the peta (preta, ghost) world owing to karma manifesting as various misdeeds motivated by greed, aversion, and/or delusion.
Dhammapāla wrote on it a commentary called the Peta-vatthu-vannanā, or Petavatthu Atthakathā, which forms part of the Vimalavīlāsinī (GV.60), the commentary on the Vimāna Vatthu, which describes the splendor of various space abodes belonging to different devas, obtained by them as a result of meritorious karma performed in previous lives.
The Realm of Hungry Ghosts (peta loka)
The arhat Mahinda -- the son of the Indian Buddhist emperor Asoka, who together with his enlightened sister Sanghamitta traveled south as missionaries to Sri Lanka with a cutting from the original Bodhi tree the Buddha gained enlightenment under, which is the oldest documented tree in the world and the progenitor of most bodhi trees (Ficus religiosa, sacred fig or pipal) in Buddhist temples today -- preached the Peta Vatthu to Anulā and her companions on the day of his arrival in Anurādhapura, Sri Lanka (according to the island's own history, the Mahavamsa or "Great Chronicle" (Mhv.xiv.58).

What is a peta (Sanskrit preta)? Dr. Gabor Mate, the Canadian drug and addiction specialist, explains that it is a "hungry ghost." This refers to a poltergeist, a German term for a restless, unquiet, or "unclean" spirit, a banshee, a howler, a disturbance.

There are countless worlds. The Buddha categorized them into 31 general planes of existence. Their diversity is unimaginable. Consider, for example, the Animal Realm (tiracchana), which includes lazy tigers and hungry termites, slimy amoeba and my puppy Rocky, and more than a million other kinds of sentient beings. Such is karma that it leads to this specificity in impersonally doling out results.

The ancient Buddhist book that follows the Vimana-vatthu is the Peta-vatthu. It contains stories of beings in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which is in this world but mostly goes unseen. Once when the Buddha's male disciple "foremost in psychic powers," corresponding to the chief female disciple with the same designation (Ven. Uppalavanna), Maha Moggallana surveys an area to find how the hungry ghosts there were reborn into that realm. One passage states, "This woman ate meat and deceived with a lying word" (Petavatthu 3.4). 
In another passage, a hunter kills deer and shares the meat with children every time he arrives back in town. In spite of his generosity, which when it comes to fruition will lead to fortunate and welcome results, the hunter is reborn as a hungry ghost because of murder -- killing of deer and butchering and distributing flesh (Petavatthu 3.1). 

Ghost of Borobudur (Winterlicht/
This happens not because killing animals leads merely to rebirth as a ghost -- it generally leads to far worse -- but because destination depends on when karma ripens. If it should ripen right at the moment of death/rebirth during what is technically called the "rebirth linking consciousness," it is a course of conduct that can lead to a miserable plane of existence, a world of torment far worse than the moderate "plane of deprivation" (apaya) ghosts exist on. The book also contains verses showing that the Buddha was offered vegetarian foods gathered and given out of compassion. Does this mean eating flesh (Dhamma Wheel) thereby causing and encouraging the captivity, cruelty toward, and killing of animals is unwholesome, unskillful behavior? Who can say?

What leads to rebirth in this miserable destination among ghosts? Missing the mark of upholding The Five Precepts:
  1. to abstain from taking the lives of living beings or encouraging others to harm,
  2. to abstain from taking what is not given or encouraging others to steal,
  3. to abstain from sexual misconduct or encouraging others to violate this precept (which Wisdom Quarterly spells out elsewhere from the sutras as having sex with people who are off limits and not as being what we might imagine in our guilt-ridden Christian-Catholic-Jewish context but rather, more generally, as harming others motivated by our sensual lust),
  4. to abstain from false speech (perjury, slander, harshness, babble) or encouraging others to speak falsely,
  5. to abstain from intoxicants that lead one to violate these precepts or encouraging others to become intoxicated occasioning heedlessness.

USA (NSA) spying on Europe (video)

CC Liu, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez,
Barry Obama and Sec'y of State John Kerry on drones and spying (
American activists gather in Washington, D.C. protesting NSA's illegal activities. Democrat Diane Feinstein, who chairs a congressional committee overseeing America's (known) spying apparatus, plans new legislation to shut down protesters by making NSA spying legal (DN).
The Empire is at it again, and it only gets worse with every revelation of intrusive homeland spying, Internet monitoring, and cellphone (mobile) wiretapping. The NSA has been doing it to the nation's allies in Europe as well.

(10-28-13) As new revelations of NSA (National Security Agency) spying stoke the ire of Germany, France, and Spain [and other Eurozone countries], thousands of infuriated Americans marched on Washington, D.C., on Saturday in a rally against government surveillance. Organizers say the protest was the largest to date against NSA monitoring since Edward Snowden’s disclosures became public through Glenn Greenwald and the UK's The Guardian in June.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald
Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who now works for the Government Accountability Project reads a message from Edward Snowden; NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was charged with espionage after he was suspected of revealing information about the agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, also speaks. And New Mexico’s former Republican governor, Gary Johnson, chimes in. More