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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Buddhism, based on the
teachings of Siddhartha Gautama



Quotations involving Buddhism:

bullet"Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity" A widely cited, but apparently spurious quotation attributed to Albert Einstein 1
bullet"The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances." Atisha.
bullet"If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion." Lin-Chi.
bullet"Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life." Thich Nhat Hanh.
bullet"When the mind begins to become still, we then begin to truly see it. When you first try to stabilize and pacify the mind, initially it will become very busy because it's not accustomed to being still. In fact, it doesn't even necessarily want to become still, but it is essential to get a hold of the mind to recognize its nature. This practice is extremely important. ... Eventually you will find yourself in a state where your mind is clear and open all the time. It is just like when the clouds are removed from the sky and the sun can clearly be seen, shining all the time. This is coming close to the state of liberation, liberation from all traces of suffering. ... The truth of this practice is universal. It isn't necessary to call it a religion to practice it. Whether one is a Hindu or a Moslem or a Christian or a Buddhist simply doesn't matter. Anyone can practice this because this is the nature of the mind, the nature of everyone's mind. If you can get a handle on your mind, and pacify it in this way, you will definitely experience these results, and you will see them in your daily life situation. There is no need to put this into any kind of category, any kind of "ism." Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche

Is Buddhism a religion?

Whether Buddhism is or is not a religion depends upon how you define "religion."

Many groups recognize Buddhism as a religion:

bulletCensus offices and public opinion pollsters generally recognize Buddhism as a religion.
bulletBooks that describe the religions of the world generally cover Buddhism along with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.
bulletEven the Boy Scouts of America, who root out and expel Atheists, Agnostics and homosexuals, accept Buddhists as members.
bulletThe Government of Canada denies registration of religious charities unless they teach the belief in one or more Gods or Goddesses. However, they allow Buddhist faith groups to register.

The Drepung Loseling Institute states:

"Like all major religions, Buddhism contains an explanation of the origin of existence, a morality, and a specific set of rituals and behaviors. ... Buddhism presents a transformational goal, a desire to improve one's situation, and a distinct moral code. 5

Kerry Trembath writes that Buddhism is not what we call a "top-down religion" -- one in which a deity reveals religious and spiritual truths to humanity. It is a "bottom-up religion" created by humans as an attempt to express spiritual concepts:

"Buddhism does not deny the existence of gods or of other worlds, and indeed the devotional practices of many Buddhist traditions involve the veneration and invocation of special beings such as Avalokitesvara (known as Kwan Yin to many Chinese, or Kannon to the Japanese). However, at its core Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and, unlike other world religions, Buddhism is not a doctrine of revelation. The Buddha did not claim to be the bearer of a message from on high. He made it clear that what he taught he had discovered for himself through his own efforts."

"The Buddha himself is revered not as a deity or supernatural being but as a very special kind of human being. He was a human who achieved the ultimate in development of his human potential. The Buddha taught that this achievement is within the reach of every human being, and he spent his life teaching a practical methodology which, if followed with purity of mind and great diligence, would enable others to reach the same objective. In other words, he taught a method rather than a doctrine. When questioned about the validity of his teachings, the Buddha did not refer to the higher authority of a deity. He explained that his teachings were based on his own direct personal experience, and he invited all who were interested to test for themselves whether the method he taught was effective."

However, some definitions of "religion" strictly require a belief in the existence of one or more supernatural deities. That would disqualify most branches of Buddhism from being considered as religious groups.



With about 365 milliion followers -- 6% of the world's population -- Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. It is exceeded in numbers only by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Buddhism was founded in Northern India by Siddhartha Gautama. However, Buddhists believe that there were countless Buddhas before him and that there will be many more after him. In the sixth century BCE, Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened)

Buddhism later died out in India, but had become established in Sri Lanka. From there, it expanded across Asia, evolving into two or three main forms:

bulletTheravada Buddhism (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Therevada) "has been the dominant school of Buddhism in most of Southeast Asia since the thirteenth century, with the establishment of the monarchies in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos."
bulletMahayana Buddhism (sometimes called Northern Buddhism) is largely found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia.
bulletVajray─üna Buddhism (a.k.a. Tantric Buddhism, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, or True Words Sect). Some consider this to be a part of Mahayana Buddhism; others view it as a third Buddhist path.

To these might be added:

bulletTibetan Buddhism. This developed largely in isolation from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism because of the remoteness of Tibet.
bulletZen Buddhism. This developed from within the Chinese Mahayana school known as Chan. Zen Buddhism is becoming increasingly popular in the West.

Since the late 19th century:

bulletModern Buddhism has emerged as a truly international movement. It started as an attempt to produce a single form of Buddhism, without local accretions, that all Buddhists could embrace.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A recent post from the blog of Fr. Jordan Stratford.


Wikipedia is deleting ALL articles on Contemporary Gnosticism

An entire NRM has been declared unworthy in the eyes of Wikipedia and is being systematically erased. The Apostolic Johannite Church, the Alexandrian Gnostic Church, the Ecclesia Gnostica, Gnostic authors and university professors, even this article on modern Gnosticism itself are on the chopping block or have already been deleted.

We're talking about independently published books, peer-reviewed academic authors, university and college course materials, internationally published news stories – all of these sources are being dismissed as either not relevant or not reliable. Given the AJCs coverage in US News, and the EG's coverage in the LA Times as well as the definitive work on the Independent Sacramental Movement, these churches don't have the "reliable third party source" chops for a few powerful Wikipedia editors.

Given that Gnosticism straddles esoteric Christianity, Paganism, Jungian thought and even Buddhism, what chance does Asatru or Druidry or Hellenismos have of maintaining a presence on Wikipedia when their populations are so much smaller and the level of academic interest is marginal (though, I argue, significant and noteworthy)? Most of these vital and important movements have a fraction of the independent cred that Gnosticism possesses. Even PanGaia magazine, a newstand publication with a print run of 8,000 copies that I've personally seen on the racks in 3 different cities, is dismissed snidely as a "web" publication (and therefore irrelevant). So someone with 30 articles and 30,000 readers on Witchvox doesn't stand much of a chance of withstanding scrutiny, I suppose.

Where's the activity in New Religious Movements? On the 'net, and in academic journals. And yet suddenly these don't matter, according to some.

As a friend suggested, we'd best stick to our knitting: we have work to do and patients to visit and volunteer hours to clock and services to perform. And she's completely right. We'll survive this tempest in a teapot.

But I do wonder about the actual usefulness of Wikipedia as a resource for NRM researchers should these various independent and Pagan organizations cease to officially "exist" according to a few self-appointed mods.

U P D A T E :

"Regarding your post on Wikipedia and deletion of Gnosticism articles: Deletion has been canceled for Wikipedia article "Gnosticism in Modern Times"."


Now, this article needs a LOT of work and is certainly not up to, I think, anybody's standards (especially with all that Crowley and Vogelin in there, oy vey) but it's a voice at the table, and that's all we're asking for.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My way was obscured and I sought the direction forward. You stood at the entrance to a cleared Path.

Taking up your walking-stick/Bishop's Crozier in one hand and grasping your sword in the other, you walked forward with me.

But it was your walking-stick that kept me from stumbling and your sword-arm that kept the Path clear when no others were there to walk it with you

I Thank you that you grasped that sword and wield it as you do.

Now we have some others that walk with *us*.


shamelessly lifted from Noetic Apprehenson

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is Ash Wednsday?
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers.
Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. They are mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.
The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
When is Ash Wednesday 2009? Visit the 2009

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Valentinus
Valentinus was a second century Christian mystic and poet. He is sometimes refered to as a "Gnostic" because of the importance that mystical knowledge (gnosis) plays in his thought. Valentinus was born in Phrebonis in upper Egypt about 100 AD and educated in nearby Alexandria. There he became a disciple of the Christian teacher Theudas who had been a disciple of Saint Paul. He claimed that Theudas taught him secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle.
Like many early Christian mystics, Valentinus claimed that that he had a vision of the risen Christ. Following his vision, he began his career as a Christian teacher at Alexandria around 120AD. His esoteric theology quickly attracted a large following in Egypt and Syria. In 136 AD, he went to Rome after stopping briefly in Cyprus. At Rome he quickly rose to prominence and was widely respected for his eloquence. He was so well regarded in the Roman church that in 143 AD he was a candidate for the office of bishop. It seems likely he refused the position. He continued to teach in Rome for at least ten more years.
Nothing certain is known of his later career. He may have died at Rome around 155 AD. According to a late source, he left Rome and went to Cyprus. Some of the legends about "Saint Valentine" probably reflect the lasting prestige he enjoyed at Rome. After Valentinus' death, his disciples further developed his ideas and spread them throughout the Roman Empire.
(An excellent introduction to Valentinus and his tradition is given by Dr. Stephan Hoeller in Valentinus: A Gnostic for All Seasons, available in this Archives.)
Valentinus
Valentinus was a second century Christian mystic and poet. He is sometimes refered to as a "Gnostic" because of the importance that mystical knowledge (gnosis) plays in his thought. Valentinus was born in Phrebonis in upper Egypt about 100 AD and educated in nearby Alexandria. There he became a disciple of the Christian teacher Theudas who had been a disciple of Saint Paul. He claimed that Theudas taught him secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle.
Like many early Christian mystics, Valentinus claimed that that he had a vision of the risen Christ. Following his vision, he began his career as a Christian teacher at Alexandria around 120AD. His esoteric theology quickly attracted a large following in Egypt and Syria. In 136 AD, he went to Rome after stopping briefly in Cyprus. At Rome he quickly rose to prominence and was widely respected for his eloquence. He was so well regarded in the Roman church that in 143 AD he was a candidate for the office of bishop. It seems likely he refused the position. He continued to teach in Rome for at least ten more years.
Nothing certain is known of his later career. He may have died at Rome around 155 AD. According to a late source, he left Rome and went to Cyprus. Some of the legends about "Saint Valentine" probably reflect the lasting prestige he enjoyed at Rome. After Valentinus' death, his disciples further developed his ideas and spread them throughout the Roman Empire.
(An excellent introduction to Valentinus and his tradition is given by Dr. Stephan Hoeller in Valentinus: A Gnostic for All Seasons, available in this Archives.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

GNOSTIC ROSARY

Sign of the cross
Nous(forehead), Christos(heart), Pistis(left shoulder), Sofia(right shoulder). Amen.

3 Faces
Hail Sophia, filled with light, the Christ is with you. Blessed art thou among Aeons, and blessed is the liberator of thy light, Jesus. Holy Sophia, Mother of all, pray to the light for us thy children, now and in our hour of darkness. Amen (x3)

Triangle/Connector
Almighty God, whose footstool is the highest firmament: Great Ruler of heaven and all the powers therein: Hear the prayer of thy servant who has put his/her trust in thee. Supply my needs from day to day. Command thy heavenly host to comfort and succor me. That it may be to thy glory and unto the good of men. Forgive me my transgressions as I forgive my brothers and sisters. Be present with me, strengthen and sustain me. For I am but an instrument in thy hands. Let me not fall into temptation, but defend me from all danger and evil. Let thy mighty power ever guard and protect me, thou great fount of knowledge and wisdom. Instruct thy servant by thy holy presence, guide and support me now and forever. Amen

Diamonds
Glory be to the Father, Mother, Son and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

10 Small beads
· Most Compassionate
· Ever Merciful
· Bringer of Peace
· Creator of Life
· All Knowing
· Supreme Healer
· Holy Father
· Holy Mother
· Holy Child
· Holy Sprit
Large Bead
Father, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hated, let me bring love.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me shine your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in forgiving that we receive;
It is pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen
Repeat for the next three decades.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chanukah in a Nutshell


Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah we also recite Hallel and the Al HaNissim prayer to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."

Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.