Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Buddhism in Aryan-Persian IRAN (map)

IranicaOnline.org; Amber Larson and Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Persian inscriptions link Babylonian king to Siddhartha the Buddha (ancient-origins.net)
Ajina Tepe Buddhist Monastery, 7th-8th centuries, Vakhsh valley, southern Tajikistan, 1 km north of ruins of early medieval town of Chorgul Tepe (religioussitesalongthesilkroad.weebly.com).
Iranian Buddhism: Map shows movement of Buddhism from Saka (Shakyan) Gandhara, the Buddha's country, further west to modern "Middle East" to pre-Islamic Iran (Persia), Sogdia, Kushan Empire, Bactria, Afghanistan, Balkh, Khorasan, India, China, Sakastan, Central Asia (transoxiana.org).
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Iran and Afghanistan (Haldar)
Archeological and architectural monuments of Central Asia, which includes now-Muslim formerly-Buddhist Iran, are mentioned in reports from the 18th and early 19th centuries by European and Russian travelers, merchants, and diplomats.

The Russian Orientalist P. I. Lerkh, who accompanied a minor diplomatic mission, even undertook small-scale excavations. Major archaeological work began, however, only after the Russian conquest of the region, at first it was done by amateurs, especially military officers.

The first professional archaeologist to work in the region was N. I. Veselovskiĭ of the University of St. Petersburg. He undertook minor excavations at several sites in the Tashkent oasis, Farḡāna and, on a larger scale, in Afrāsīāb (q.v.), the site of ancient Samarkand.

Seven trenches were dug in different parts of the city, and a plan of the site was prepared.

Ajina Tepe, preservation, Tajikistan
From the extensive finds the site was dated as “going back to the Greek period” [see Greco-Buddhism]; in fact, it has a much longer history.

At almost the same time, General A. V. Komarov cut a huge trench through the northern mound at Anaw (q.v.) in southern Turkmenistan....

During the first half of the second millennium B.C.E. [before the common era] the primitive agrarian tribes of southern Turkmenistan started migrating eastwards, to northern Afghanistan, southern Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

This map accompanies surrounding text and shows many Buddhist sites in Central Asia.
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Camel, Iran (twitter.com/eranudturan)
Since the ecological conditions of Tajikistan were not favorable for irrigation agriculture, the migrants turned to pasturing [like the Shakyans/Scythians]. Living in close contact with the local steppe tribes, they adopted many aspects of their way of life and burial rites.

In southern Uzbekistan the migrants preserved their way of life, founding fortified settlements like Sapalï Tepe [tell or mound], or large settlements like Jarkutan with a “palace,” a temple, and a large necropolis.

During the second half of the second millennium B.C.E. some steppe tribes started migrating south, entering the zone of primitive agriculture. Many scholars connect this movement with the migration of the Indo-Aryans and the settling of proto-Iranians in Central Asia....

Archeology of the nomadic tribes
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Ajina Tepe reclinging Buddha (RSATSR)
Information obtained from ancient Persian, Greek, Chinese, Syrian, Armenian, Arabic, and other sources -- as well as from the Iranian epic and from linguistic material -- show clearly the important role played by Central Asian nomads in the history of the region and its adjacent territories, in terms of both ethnogenesis and culture.

The archeology of the nomads explores mainly their kurgans [burial mounds, ancient-stupas]. Kurgans of the Saka [Shakyan/Scythian] tribes, dating from the seventh to third centuries B.C.E., can be found in the Semirech’e region (also known as the Yeti Su, “Seven Rivers”), the Aral region, in Fergana, and so on.

The burials were usually single, sometimes dual, rarely collective. In the Pamir region, the corpse was often buried in a flexed position. The form and structure of burial sites varied. Most often they consisted of a pit covered with beams, on top of which was piled a rounded mound or erected a circle of stones. The “royal kurgans”... More

Prince Siddhartha (the Buddha) in Persia

Harvey Kraft (The Buddha from Babylon), Ancient-Origins.net, 5/4/15; Wisdom Quarterly
"Buddha offers fruit to the devil [Mara?]" from 14th century Persian manuscript The Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh ("Compendium of Chronicles"). (Image source)
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Ancient Persian inscriptions link Babylonian King Darius the Great to Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became the Buddha
The Buddha from Babylon
Dramatic evidence has revealed the presence of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, as far west as Persia.

Family seals and records found at Persepolis, the ancient capital of the fourth Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, have been identified and associated with the names of Siddhartha Gautama and his father, Suddhodana Gautama.

The Persepolis Seals identified royals and other important personages within the Persian ruling sphere. Gautama was the name of the royal family of the Saka [Shakya, Sakka, or Scythian Clan] kingdom.

Analysis of Seals PFS 79, PFS 796 and PF 250 found among the collection of important seals in Persepolis, the Persian capital of Emperor Darius I, are purported to be the Gautama family according to an interpretation by Dr. Ranajit Pal (The Dawn of Religions in Afghanistan-Seistan-Gandhara and the Personal Seals of Gotama Buddha and Zoroaster, published in Mithras Reader: An Academic and Religious Journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies. Vol. III, London, 2010, pg. 62).

The family crest bore the etching of a crown-headed king flanked by two totems, each a standing bird-headed winged lion. The Seal of Sedda depiction of a Sramana (Persepolis Seal PFS 79), a Lion-Sun shaman, is based on information gathered from a number of other seals: the name refers to Sedda Arta (Siddhartha), i.e., Siddha (Liberator of) and Arta (Universal Truth).

Persepolis Seal PFS 79 and outline. Seal of Seddha, standing ruler flanked by bird-headed Arya-Sramana priests of Indus-Vedic tradition, linked to Saka tribe (Scythians) royal family of King Suddhodana Gautama, and his son-prince Siddhartha. Seal art courtesy of Oriental Institute, Chicago.

Persepolis Seal PFS 79 and outline. Seal of Seddha, standing ruler flanked by bird-headed Arya-Sramana priests of Indus-Vedic tradition, linked to Saka tribe (Scythians) royal family of King Suddhodana Gautama, and his son Prince Siddhartha. Seal art courtesy of Oriental Institute, Chicago.

The twin guardians each had the body of lion and the head and wings of a mythic sunbird (i.e., Egyptian sun-bearing falcon). The lion and falcon-gryphon motifs represented a pair of shramana [wandering ascetic] shamans. Therefore, the family seal associated with Gautama, described a royal person of the Arya-Vedic tradition.

A similar image of Buddhist iconography shows a Buddha seated on a “lion-throne” under a bejeweled tree with cosmic aides at his side. The Buddhist montage declares his enlightenment under the cosmic Sacred Tree of Illumination.

Possibly a modification of his family seal designed to reflect his new teachings, once Siddhartha Gautama achieves enlightenment this Buddhist emblem comes to represent him seated on the lion-throne under the sacred cosmic tree flanked by two celestial Bodhisattva.



Possibly a modification of his family seal designed to reflect his new teachings, once Siddhartha Gautama achieves enlightenment this Buddhist emblem comes to represent him seated on the lion-throne under the sacred cosmic tree flanked by two celestial bodhisattvas.

What would the family crest of the Gautama family be doing in Persia? Was Siddhartha Gautama connected to the Persian Empire?

The inscriptions of Darius the Great (Persian Darayavaush), Persian emperor for 35 years, boast that the Zoroastrian God Assura Mazda (Persian Ahura Mazda) chose him to take the throne (in 522 BCE) from an usurper named “Gaumâta.”

{NOTE: This is interesting because in the East, three Dharmic religions -- Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism -- are on the side of the Devas ("Shining Ones," "angels") and a god named Maha Brahma. Devas are opposed by Asuras (Assura), "fallen devas" or "Titans," expelled from a celestial world by Sakka, King of the Devas, in the World of the Thirty-Three (Tavatimsa), in a story that echoes the Christian story of Archangel Michael expelling Lucifer (who then gets equated with Satan by everyone except maybe the tiny Yazidi religion) and casting him not into hell actually but down to earth. It has been suggested that the name "Asura" derives from Zoroaster's God the Zoroastrian deity "Ahura [Mazda]," more than its naïve origin-story of "non-beer" (anti-sura) or sworn off drinking alcohol because of the tale that Sakka got them drunk on a kind of brew in that world before he peacefully cast them out onto the base of Mt. Sumeru, this world.}

Darius shrouds the short-lived reign of his predecessor in a power struggle involving deceit, conspiracy, murder, and the prize of the Persian throne. He characterizes “Gaumâta” as an opportunist who illegally grabbed the throne in Babylon while the sitting Persian Emperor Kambujiya was away in Egypt.

Relief carving of Darius the Great
Relief carving of Darius the Great (Iran Chamber)

Written in the Cuneiform script on tablets at Mount Bisutun (aka Behistun) in three different languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a form of Akkadian), the Bisutun Inscriptions may have echoed the name of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became the Buddha [the "Enlightened One" or the "Awakened One"], in the name of a little known King of Babylon.

The inscriptions refer to a religious figure named “Gaumâta,” from whom the Achaemenid Persian Emperor Darius the Great seized the throne in Babylon. Darius painted “Gaumâta” an imposter and illegal ruler, although the description does not seem to fit the highly educated and beloved leader [the Buddha].

Darius identified him as a Magi (practitioner of esoteric knowledge), and sardonically labeled him as a “stargazer.” If the name “Gaumâta” referred to Siddhartha Gautama, this reference would mean that he held a key leadership position in the Magi Order. Moreover, as the headquarters of the Magi was in the temple complex of Esagila ["temple whose top is lofty"], home of the ziggurat tower dubbed “House of the Raised Head,” the designation of “stargazer” suggests that Gautama was involved with Babylon’s star observatory.

Could it be that Siddhartha Gautama was the mysterious King “Gaumâta”? [Dr. Ranajit Pal (ranajitpal.com) would say yes.]

During lifetime of Buddha (b. 563 - d. 483 BCE) when the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt to the Indus, Darius the Great comes to power by overthrowing the stargazer-Magus "Gaumata" in Babylon about whom his Bisutun Inscriptions claim: "he seized the kingdom on July 1, 522 BCE. Then I prayed to Ahuramazda and slew him." Image of Darius reasserting Persian domination stomps on "rebels" with inscriptions etched below.During lifetime of the Buddha (563-483 BCE), when the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt to the Indus, Darius the Great comes to power by overthrowing the stargazer-Magus "Gaumata" in Babylon about whom his Bisutun Inscriptions claim: "he seized the kingdom on July 1, 522 BCE. Then I prayed to Ahura-Mazda and slew him." Image of Darius, reasserting Persian domination, stomps on "rebels" with inscriptions etched below.

The name “Gaumâta” appears to be a variant of Gautama, the Buddha’s family name. In the ancient multilingual land of Babylonia, multiple names and titles with spelling variations referring to the same person were common.

Does evidence of the Babylonian Magi Order’s influences appear in Buddhist literature? Could we discover Mesopotamian references in the Buddhist scriptures?

The earliest mathematical systems, astronomical measurements, and mythological literature were initiated in the ziggurat tower-temples of the Fertile Crescent by the cultures of Sumer/Akkad and Amorite Babylonia. Both Magi and Vedic seers furthered knowledge of a cosmic infrastructure, well known in the Buddha’s time from the Tigris to the Ganges.

Discovering this connection in the Buddhist sutras would challenge the prevailing view that Buddhism was born and developed in isolation exclusively in India [actually simultaneously in Gandhara/Afghanistan, right next to Iran/Persia]. Although the oral legacy of the sutras were assembled and recorded later in India, a Babylonian finding would have major implications regarding the origin, influences, and intentions of the Buddha.

Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. (Wikimedia Commons)

[It sounds like the Buddha]
Described as a compassionate philosopher-cosmologist, “Gaumâta” decreed freedom for slaves, lowered oppressive taxes across the board, and inspired neighbors to respect one another in a city known for its diverse ethnic groups and many languages. His espousal of liberty, human rights, and generosity supports the thesis that “Gaumâta” and Gautama were one and the same person.

Prince Siddharta Gautama shaves the hair off his head as the sign to decline his status as ksatriya (warrior class) and becomes an ascetic hermit, his servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse Kanthaka stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.Prince Siddhartha Gautama shaves the hair off his head as a sign declining his status as a ksatriya (warrior class) royal and becomes an ascetic hermit. His servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse, Kanthaka, stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia. (Wikimedia Commons)

Darius, a military strongman, and a member of the Achaemenid family, prepared for his coup with a propaganda campaign designed to legitimize his overthrow of “Gaumâta.” In his public inscription he referred to his cohorts as witnesses who would confirm the killing of the usurper.

While his story appears to be full of cunning deceptions, the real behind the scenes story of this episode has remained elusive to history. Certainly as Darius had good reason to write history in his own self-interest, what happened has gone undetected for thousands of years because historians know little to nothing about “Gaumâta.”

Of course, if “Gaumâta” was really Siddhartha Gautama, this assassination had to be a lie, because he did go on to become the Buddha. Either someone else was murdered in the name of “Gaumâta,” or Darius shrewdly produced a disinformation campaign designed to cover up what really happened.


With the “death of the imposter,” the new emperor wanted to send a message to supporters of “Gaumâta” that he would not tolerate rebellions and suppressed any hope for the return of this popular leader. But in the wake of the coup 19 rebellions arose throughout the empire. It would take Darius more than a year of brutal military action to crush the liberation-minded communities inspired by “Gaumâta.” Source

I fall asleep when I meditate

Sayalay Susila (sayalaysusila.net), edited by Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly
Q: How do I deal with sleepiness?
A: There are many ways to deal with both kinds of sleepiness, sloth (physical) and torpor (mental). Sometimes, we must find the external cause of sleepiness. For example, don’t meditate right after eating. If you do, you'll be overwhelmed by both sloth and torpor. The same will occur if you meditate when you are already too tired. If sleepiness comes, here's help:
  • Open the eyes. Look at light. This will brighten the mind. [Looking at the internal light also helps]. Reciting some of the Buddha's words and temporarily putting aside the object of meditation will also make the mind more alert. Scanning the body up and down makes the mind more attentive. Pulling on the ears is also extremely effective to energize the brain; there are many acupressure points on the ears that connect right to the brain. Do standing meditation instead of sitting. Worrying about falling down on the person in front of you will probably keep you awake.
I'll also share my own way of staying awake. It is more difficult but very effective. The very moment I notice sloth and torpor, I just look at them, and they are gone. However, this method requires alert mindfulness. Most people are unable to be aware of subtle laziness right when it arises. By the time they notice it, the laziness has already gained momentum – body swaying and head nodding. By this time, it is too late to apply this method. If your mindfulness is precise and you are clear on what is happening in the mind, the moment you know sloth and torpor, they disappear.

Volunteer at Insight LA

Trudy Goodman (InsightLA.org/volunteer); Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

insightLA.org
Volunteering is an exciting way to be part of the InsightLA family. In addition to the deep satisfaction of supporting its many wonderful programs, there are individual benefits as well. Why join the InsightLA Volunteer Team? Here are some reasons people choose to volunteer:
  • To explore the integration of life and Dharma practice
  • To help support and maintain teachers and students
  • To meet fellow meditators and make new friends
  • To be part of a spiritual community or sangha
  • To participate in a special retreat or program
  • To share expertise and knowledge
  • To express generosity
  • To have fun
Take a minute to fill out this short form to be contacted to explore available opportunities: CLICK HERE.
  • The Liberated and Joyful Heart Embodying Care and Love During this festive season, InsightLA is delighted to host a joyful afternoon with Trudy Goodman, Father Greg Boyle, Yogini Seane Corn, George Mumford, and Jack Kornfield as a benefit for InsightLA. Join in for heartfelt stories, transformative inner practices, and inspiring conversation.

How do I overcome worry and doubt?

Sayalay Susila (sayalaysusila.net) edited by Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

Q: How does one overcome worry and doubt?
Meditation Student (MS): I'm up to Day 29 of meditating two hours, first thing in the morning. I don't know how I'm doing it, but it is definitely calming me down. You told me not to write unless I'm beset with defilements. The most significant defilement I am beset with is the defilement of doubt. Even though I've meditated for 28 days, and don't find it "impossibly" difficult (it's definitely the most difficult thing I do), I constantly fear I won't be able to do it.
A: Sayalay Susila (SS): You are worrying about what has not yet happened. I regard worry as an illusion because it is something that has not yet happened and may not happen. Why drain your energy worrying? When worry arises, recognize it and immediately bring your attention to the breath so that your mind does not indulge in worrying. Indulging in worrying makes the worry persistent. When you are worrying about what has not yet happened, you are not living in the present moment. — This will make you unhappy.
MS: Self-doubt with regard to my ability to do difficult things has plagued every area of my life. My whole life, I would have given anything to just let go and trust myself. I don't have that much more of this lifetime left. I would love to live it with some peace and joy and actually be in the present moment. I'm totally willing to put in the effort.
SS: If you want to live in the present moment, you must learn to be aware of arising thoughts, especially worry and doubt. See doubt as a mental phenomenon, not as a self. Doubt is unreal; it becomes real only when you grasp it as “myself” and “mine.” Due to grasping it as “myself,” the mind becomes reactive and the defilement proliferates. If you react with the same pattern all the time, it will become second-nature.
MS: But like everything else, I don't trust the progress I make. I only trust bad things. I'm so afraid of losing the good. I know I will because it’s impermanent, but I seem to think that suffering is permanent. SS: I can see the tendencies or pattern in your thinking. When you only think negatively, you become what you think. You must learn to change the way you think—only then can you change your life. I believe you can do it. Do not let your happiness pass by thinking negatively. You think suffering is permanent because you are grasping suffering as “myself.” Just regard suffering as suffering, not as a self.
MS: I think about your courage and fearlessness and that helps.
SS: My courage comes from not worrying about what has not yet happened, so to speak.
MS: If you have any other suggestions, such as varying the concentration practice with a type of meditation that would help with doubt, please let me know.
SS: Apart from concentration, please practice mindfulness and wisdom, too. Be aware of doubt when it arises, then either ignore it (don't indulge in it—if you indulge in it, you make it real) OR contemplate it as impermanent and as not myself.
(For details on this practice, go to sayalaysusila.net (under Dhamma Collection > eBooks Menu) and read “Moment to Moment Practice.”)
MS: I feel the retreat has changed my inner life, and my husband agrees…
SS: So you can do it, right? This should be enough to generate confidence in yourself and in the Dhamma.
MS: …and of course, I doubt it can last (I mean, the meditating two hours a day). So that's why I'm writing. I need help with this delusion....with the hindrance of doubt.
SS: Good knowledge of the Buddha's teaching helps to dispel doubt. If you have faith in my teaching, go to my website and listen to my talks or read suttas. Doing this will definitely give you happiness and confidence. May you be happy and free from the illusion of worry and doubt.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

World's largest monolithic structure: Kailasa

Ancient Architects Channel; Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, S. Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly


Mystery of Kailasa Buddhist Temple, India

This basalt mountain cliff was impossibly carved top down to make a perfectly laid out stone temple that is the largest monolithic structure in the world: Kailasa Temple, Maharashtra, India.

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(Ancient Architects) The enigmatic Kailasa Buddhist, Hindu, Jain Temple is part of the Ellora Buddhist monastic cave complex in Maharashtra, India, has fascinated researchers for centuries.

It is the world’s largest monolithic structure and without doubt one of the most breathtaking sites on the planet. But it is often overlooked or overshadowed by famous sites like:
  • Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
  • Stonehenge in England
  • The Pyramid of the Sun or Cholula (the world's largest pyramid) in Mexico
  • Borobudur in Java, Indonesia (the world's largest excavated Buddhist temple complex, the size of hill with stone bells on top)
  • Angkor Wat in Angkor, Cambodia (the massive stone Buddhist monastery and surrounding Khmer civilization)
  • Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia (the Indiana Jones-style Temple of Doom discovered near Angkor, where locals claim there are many such massive structures still buried by jungle overgrowth, much like the Amazon and Mayan civilization temples and others in the Americas)
  • Gobekli Tepe in Turkey
  • The Bosnian Pyramid in Bosnia
  • Mes Aynak in Afghanistan (the world's largest unexcavated Buddhist temple complex)
  • Ajina Tepe in Tajikistan
  • Machu Picchu in the Andes in Peru.
The strange "pyramids" of Mt. Kailash
Buddhist Kailasa was subsequently inscribed by Hindu artisans and kings, but it is much older. The psychic Madame Blavatsky says it is much, much older, as she says of the super-ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Kailasa is certainly one of humanity’s greatest architectural achievements, assuming that we humans built it on our own. The ancient architects were very likely aided or instructed and provided with the unknown technology by the Devas or "Ancient Astronauts."

All video images were pulled from Google Images and used for educational purposes only.

Beyond good and evil (Ajahn Chah)

Ajahn Chah (ajahnchah.org) via Ven. Sujato, Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Ajahn Chah (ajahnchah.org)
It's so easy once you understand. It's so simple and direct. When pleasant things arise, understand that they are empty. When unpleasant things arise, see that they are not ours. They pass away.

Don't relate to them as being "me," don't see them as "self" or anyone as the owner of them. He thinks that papaya tree is his. Then why doesn't he feel pain when it's cut down?

If we can understand this then the mind comes into balance. When the mind comes into balance then this is the correct path, the correct Teaching of the Buddha -- the teaching that leads to liberation.

People don't study that which is beyond good and evil. This is what should be studied. "I'm going to be like this, I'm going to be like that," they say. But they never say, "I'm not going to be anything because there really isn't any 'I.'" This they do not study.

FAQs: "I can't meditate!"

Sayalay Susila (sayalaysusila.net) edited by Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly
Q: Sayalay, I just can't meditate. My mind is running so restlessly, jumping here and there like a monkey. That's why I have decided not to meditate, because maybe the time is not quite right just yet.
A: It is mind's nature to be restless. Learn to accept it. And it is precisely for this very reason that one needs a method to calm the mind down and make it more manageable. And that direct method as prescribed by the all-knowing and compassionate supremely-enlightened Buddha, is meditation. You can start with loving-kindness meditation. This meditation makes the mind happy. Happiness produces concentration. Keeping one's precepts well also helps promote happiness, thereby calming and stilling the mind in meditation.

Questions and Answers
Unravelling...Abhidhamma
This is from a small collection of FAQs concerning meditation that Sayalay Susīlā and her Dharma teachers have addressed during Q&A sessions at meditation retreats and Dharma talks. More