Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Buddha Nature" revealed by Drug?

Alex Grey discusses his direct experience with a mind expanding, shamanic substance. The drug (an entheogen) in question is the sacramental Ayahuasca -- an Amazon tea brewed from a jungle vine and tree bark.

More than psychedelic and/or hallucinogenic properties, the molecule of consciousness (DMT) it contains is said to have the ability (like ancient manna, soma, amrita, and the divine or immortal nectar) to put one in communication with otherwise unseen beings. Grey claims its effects are those spoken of in Buddhist meditation and enlightenment.

Its serotonergic effects are indeed analogous to those of Prozac and other synthetic pharmaceuticals aimed at rebalancing brain chemistry -- without the toxic side effects of consuming fluoride and other excipients.

The (Creative) Power of Sound

David Wilcock is the reincarnation of America's most famous psychic, Edgar_Cayce known as the Sleeping Prophet because of his ability to heal and reveal. Here he is lecturing in Los Angeles at the Conscious Life Expo 2008. Wilcock explains how sound creates form. The following video uses binaural beats for the creation of a profoundly meditative mental state -- one characterized by theta brain waves.

Flu: Don't Blame it on Babe

WHO: Don't call it "swine flu"
Confusion about the nature of the virus has put pigs in danger and hurt the pork industry. » Its new name

Who is Donald "Flu" Rumsfeld?

Pentagon chief and head of the Department of War (euphemism: "defense")

Donald Rumsfeld -- masterful media deceptions or strong sociopathic tendencies?

Rumsfeld, asked to resign, returns to civilian life a multimillionaire (having misplaced billions in Iraq War funding without being held responsible)

Vast Sky (Ken Wilber)

Genpo Merzel Roshi • Bernie Glassman Roshi • Ken Wilber

Organization: Vast Sky, a non-profit organization founded by three of the most progressive thinkers in the world today.

Mission: To raise the consciousness of the human race to a level that will compassionately and intelligently confront the complex problems we face today both individually and collectively.

Tools: At Vast Sky you'll find maps, knowledge, and methods informed by the hearts and minds of its three founders to equip you for the serious task ahead.

First Step: Sign up for the Vast Sky Newsletter and get involved.

Iraq WAR Ends! (...for UK)

Brian Murphy (AP)
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraq war formally ended for British forces today [4/30/09] as America's main battlefield ally handed control of the oil-rich Basra area [not that this was ever about oil] to U.S. commanders and prepared to ship out most of its remaining 4,000 troops.

A U.S. flag was raised over the British base outside the southern city of Basra...
PHOTO: Major General Andy Salmon (C-L) embraces US Army Major General Michael Oates as he hands him control of forces in the Basra area on 3/31/09. British forces formally ended combat operations in Iraq 4/30/09, one month ahead of schedule, after a solemn ceremony to remember their dead comrades from six years of warfare (AFP/File/Essam al-Sudani).

Medicine Timeline

Medical Timeline (interactive) -- various forms to treatment (

Title: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) book published
Time: circa 2697 BCE to 2nd century BCE
Event: The first Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, is said to be the author of the first classic work on Traditional Chinese Medicine (c. 2697). The text itself is compiled by unknown authors in 200 BC. The first herbal medicine and acupuncture needles appear around 2500 BCE.

Based on Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, TCM sees health as harmony within the body as well as between the body and the universe. The main disciplines in TCM are acupuncture, herbology, tui na (massage and manipulation), diet therapy and therapeutic exercises like Tai Qi and Qi Gong.

Title: Ayurvedic forms of healing are developed
Time: 1200 BCE
Event: Ayurvedic Medicine sees health as happiness and harmony in the soul, mind and senses, as well as a balance of body processes. By the time it is documented in philosophical texts called the Vedas, Ayurvedic Medicine is an already-practiced ancient health care tradition of India. Literally, it means life (ayur) knowledge (veda). This “life knowledge” was discovered and taught by many Hindu Rishis or sages who meditated on the meaning of life and health.

Time: Early to mid 1800s-1900s
Title: [Western] Allopathic medicine emerges as the primary Western medical model
Event: Allopathy is the type of medicine most familiar to westerners today. Allopathy is a biologically based approach to healing. For instance, if a patient has high blood pressure, an allopathic physician might give him/her a drug that lowers blood pressure.

In 1848, the allopathic rationalists create the American Medical Association (AMA) and gain a strong organizational edge. Even though many American clinics once relied on homeopathy and naturopathy, allopathic medicine quickly rises to dominance. Allopathy’s popularity is due to successful scientific progress including the production of certain vaccines and development of specific drugs that treat disease.

During this same era, the discovery of antibiotics triggers rapid growth of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacy evolves as an enabling discipline to allopathic medicine, helping it to achieve and maintain its dominance through many successful treatments and cures. More>>

FEAR: What to do about the Flu

I. Ronic (WQ Special Correspondent)
MEGALOPOLIS, Gaia -- Be afraid, very afraid. Fear, that's the most important thing! Fear prevents least it feels like it does. Okay, it causes illness. But fear makes you feel like you're doing something useful. So obey authorities, be fearful, and don't bother them with questions.

Instead, help out: Demand your local government purchase flu vaccines and allopathic drugs from large pharmaceutical cor-porations. Especially if Rumsfeld is on their board. Price should be no object. Do it for the kids. Big Pharma is your friend, and we're here for you. I mean, they're here for us. A drug is not a drug if it's used as medicine.

Who's to say the price is to high anyway? "Price goug-ing" helps the economy. And you do want to help the economy, don't you?? Gouging is in the eye of the gouger.

Discourage foreign travel. (Sorry, no refunds). So don't bother the attendant at the ticket counter. We might have to call security. Just be glad you didn't go. Stay home. Avoid other people. Watch more TV. Shop the Web.

We have a great special on surgical masks. Nothing sells like fear. We can hardly keep them in stock. So get yours now, be the first on your block, show those Jones who's who. And remember, be afraid, very afraid, even more afraid than that.

PHOTOS: Rumsfeld at the Pentagon; foreign tourists wearing surgical masks in Mexico

Explaining Swine Flu

Now that the reasons for the outbreak have been exposed, and given that WQ has provided a cure, the question Rumsfeld and others should answer is why pigs have not been found with the virus.

Explaining swine flu
Why are pigs, not birds, at the center of this most recent epidemic? » Mutated with bird and human flu
Definition: "pandemic" simply means a local epidemic that gets larger or moves out into the world. It naturally occurs every year. Tens of thousands commonly die.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New College Rejection Letters

College rejections that hurt
Read letters from mean to just plain confusing. » Harvard nicest?

Top Stories

WHO says swine flu pandemic is imminent
World takes drastic steps to contain swine flu
Swine flu an epidemic of losses for Mexico economy

Huge ice chunks break away from Antarctic shelf
AP NewsBreak: US wants to move on climate change

Truth about Swine Flu exposed!

The Swine Flu Epidemic in Mexico and the Resort to Military Rule (April 28, 2009)

Play show directly from the Internet by clicking "play" link. Or download (instructions) the show to your hard drive then listen. This allows you to rewind and forward, a feature not available directly from the Net, which requires starting the show again from the very beginning. Home>>

  • Startling revelations laying bare US operational plans
  • Uncompromising, fact-intensive exposés of the hidden workings of a system addicted to permanent war
  • Methodical examination of "terror" as rationale for taking away rights under the cover of false-flag operations

Taking Aim Audio Archives
Programs ©
Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone. Audio files may be copied for personal use and to play for organizations, but not sold. For high-quality audio
click here. To broadcast, contact Online book: Hidden History...

Radical Women

NOTE: In an ongoing effort to oppose centuries of bias and discrimination (sexism), WQ supports those at the forefront of the women's movement. WQ may not agree with all means, but achieving equality is paramount. In a Buddhist context, women are equal. WQ supports full Theravadan ordination, parity in the workplace, and the egalitarian ideals of the Enlightenment. WQ, therefore, also supports radical women.
A trailblazing socialist feminist organization, Radical Women is the revolutionary wing of the women's movement and a strong feminist voice within the Left.

Immersed in the daily struggle subduing racism, sexism, homophobia, and labor exploitation, Radical Women views women's leadership as decisive to world revolution and trains women to take their place in the forefront of the struggle.

RW is an autonomous, all-women's group. It has socialist affiliations on the basis of mutual respect, solidarity, and shared socialist feminist ideals.

Get involved if you want to change the world and collaborate with a feisty bunch of rebel grrlz of all colors, genders, and ages. Everyone has something to learn, teach, and contribute!

Comedy: Religion, Human Rights

Most young people today reject the label "religion" (just like the labels "liberal" and "feminist" are rejected). Instead, we are "spiritual." We are progressive and egalitarian. What went wrong with these words? People were too stuffy, too full of themselves, too angry. "We all want a revolution," the Beatles will tell you. We just don't want to be inconvenienced.

"Give me convenience or give me death" Jello Biafra is famous for singing. Bob Marley and other icons knew better and therefore couldn't be tolerated by the military-industrial-pharmaceutical complex. It's all about awakening consciousness.

Just about everything the government, consumer-capitalists, and drug-makers do is aimed at putting people to sleep. Sometimes comedy -- Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher -- can help wake us up.

Feminism: Who's Afraid of Naomi Wolf?


Feminism is the radical notion that men and women are equal. It should not be assumed that any religion has always taught this. Modern interpretations may. But all major traditions were corrupted at some point. Something went astray in the world: a movement violently usurped men's and women's "feminine" sensibilities (such as emotional intelligence).

Instead, the movement has led us toward words over pictures, rigid logic over fluid intuition, and we are left to idealize objectivity over immediacy. A hardness, rigidity, fearfulness, and smallness has been left in place of wholeness and integration. But there is still time and a way to wholeness if we but recognize the problem. Humor (like that of Ali G) helps. Who's afraid of Naomi Wolf (author, advocate, feminist) is a play on the famous theatrical work "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Harem (

The Shocking life of Devadatta

Women and Enlightenment

Great Mandala Study Group (

Devadatta [swallowed by the earth] (Gohonzon #19, Devil King of the Sixth Heaven).

[NOTE: This article deals with how one Buddhist group has come to terms with Devadatta's alarming and unbelievable behavior as a Judas-figure in Buddhism. Soka Gakkai, a Japanese movement, has turned a negative character into a representative of our shadow side. Devadatta is dealt with not as a satanic figure so much as a transformative and redemptive one. This is done alongside the young, semi-human Dragon King's Daughter, a yin symbol of feminine enlightenment. Thus, the approach and information are more magical and archetypal than literal].

Devadatta’s life is so very low that even the earth cannot hold him. In the picture above, his foot begins to sink into the earth [as soon as he climbs off his death cot. He suddenly grew very ill after repeatedly betraying the Buddha and had to be carried around on a cot due to the severity of his symptoms. Realizing that he was going to die, he wanted to get to the Buddha to apologize.]

He represents:
  • the "evil" [greedy, hateful, deluded, and fearful] nature in all of us
  • the inseparability of past present and future
  • opposition as fuel to Buddhist practice
He is on the Gohonzon because, in this form of Buddhism [Soka Gakkai], instead of burying our negative internal nature, we embrace our own internal fears and delusions as a part of life.

We work constantly on enlightening this part of our life. We realize that when we call forth Buddhahood from our lives -- through chanting Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo -- these fears and delusions dissipate like dew in the morning sun.

Dragon King’s Daughter (Gohonzon #22, Eight Great Dragon Kings)

Of all Shakyamuni’s teachings, only in the Lotus Sutra do women attain enlightenment.

[Of course, in the Theravada tradition -- the oldest authentic teachings of the historical Buddha -- women, both nuns and laywomen, frequently attain enlightenment. The Therigatha is a collection of their accounts of becoming enlightened. Furthermore, although almost forgotten, the Buddha had two chief female disciples, one foremost in "wisdom," the other in "supernatural powers," Khema and Uppalavanna respectively. His stepmother, Maha Pajapati Gotami, is responsible for founding the bhikkhuni Sangha, or "Order of Buddhist Nuns," based on the argument that women are equally able to attain enlightenment in this very life.]

Shakyamuni challenges our misconception that time is needed to attain enlightenment. He also challenges us to realize that enlightened life exists not just in old learned men, but in the very young as well. That’s why there is no distinction among believers. The Dragon [Naga] King’s Daughter is:
  • not fully human [but half naga, or hybrid reptilian]
  • female
  • she attained enlightenment in an instant
Two different pictures of the Dragon King's Daughter [above and right]. In one, she is offering a jewel to the Buddha.

Enlightenment is a state of life that is even difficult for Buddhas to fully comprehend. Yet, this state of life is available to us at every moment. The Dragon King’s Daughter represents attaining that enlightenment at this moment and then perceiving our life from this state. We use this wisdom available to us to constantly move our lives in a positive and happy direction.

Devadatta and the Dragon King’s Daughter Together
(From "Persecution by Sword and Staff")

"The fifth scroll contains the heart of the Lotus Sutra, for it reveals that the dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood in her present form. Devadatta represents the spiritual aspect of enlightenment, and the dragon king’s daughter, the physical aspect. The principle of attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form can be found nowhere else in the Buddha’s entire lifetime of teachings."

The key point is that no matter what your spiritual state of life and no matter what your physical condition, the joy and wisdom of Buddhahood is always available to you at this moment.

Pork? Mushroom? How the Buddha Died

The Buddha's last illness: the result of eating sukara-maddava, pork or mushroom (LINK).

The Buddha is shown here leaving Cunda's the Blacksmith's house. He eventually walked a great distance to Kusinara (modern Kushinagar, India, site of an enormous Tibetan reliquary and monument), where he intended to pass into final nirvana at an out of the way site Ananda found very strange. The final passing took place between two Sala trees, and the Buddha explained to Ananda the very strategic reasons for the site.

Passing away into final nirvana (parinibbana): Instructing his last disciple, Subhadda the Wanderer, the Buddha entered nirvana for the final time on the full moon day in the month of Vesakha. This is part of the reason for annual Vesak celebrations throughout the world. It is the same day he attained he was born and attained enlightenment.

Cunda the Blacksmith offered the Buddha a meal. As an alms gatherer, the Buddha accepted his offer for lunch the following day. Together with the Sangha, the Buddha attended. But seeing the food -- sukara maddava ("pig's delight") -- being offered, he asked Cunda to only serve it to him and bury the rest.

What is a meal of "Pig's Delight"?
British Buddhist scholar Maurice Walshe

I have chosen this ambiguous expression to translate the controversial term sukara-maddava (sukara = "pig," maddava = "mild, gentle, soft," also "withered"). It could therefore mean either "the tender parts of a pig" or "what pigs enjoy" (cf. note 46 in The Last Days of the Buddha, Wheel Publication 67-69, BPS 1964, see note 363 [below]).

What is quite clear is that the old commentators did not know for certain what it did mean. DA [Digha Nikaya (Lengthy Discourses) Commentary (Sumangalavilasini by Buddhaghosa, see p. 50)] gives three possibilities:

  1. The flesh of a wild pig, neither too young nor too old, which had come to hand without being killed,
  2. soft boiled rice cooked with "the five products of the cow," or
  3. a kind of elixir of life (rasayana) (cf. next note).


Modern interpreters from Rhys Davids onwards have favored truffles [which pig's love and are obtained by having pigs root for them] as a plausible explanation, and some evidence for this has been adduced.

Trevor Ling , in Note 31 to his revision of the Rhys Davids translation of this Sutta [The Buddha's Philosophy of Man (Everyman's Library, London 1981, p. 218)], remarks: "This explanation seems intended to avoid offense to vegetarian readers or hearers. Rhys Davids's statement that Buddhists 'have been mostly vegetarians, and are increasingly so,' is difficult to accept."

Be that as it may (and in fact Eastern Theravada Buddhists have rarely been vegetarians, though some are now almost certainly under Western influence!), the question of vegetarianism has frequently been raised in the Buddhist field.

The standard Theravada position is set out in the Jivaka Sutta (MN 55), in which the Buddha tells Jivaka that monks must not eat the meat of any animal concerning which they have

  • seen,
  • heard, or
  • suspect

that it was specially killed for them. The Buddha rejected Devadatta's proposal to forbid meat-eating altogether to the monks.

[Devadata is the Buddhist of a backbiting Judas or proud Lucifer figure, who repeatedly attempted to assassinate the Buddha. This was not a sincere request by Devadatta., Rather, it was part of a plot to discredit the Buddha as not being austere enough to run the Sangha; Devadatta used the Buddha's unwillingness to consent to it to cause a schism in the Sangha. He then formed his own short-lived splinter group, impersonating the fully enlightened Buddha in the process instituting this and other mandatory austerities. The Buddha left it to nuns, monks, and followers to be vegetarians if they chose without making it mandatory. He soon became very ill, urgently sought out the Buddha to apologize for his misguided views but, it is said, was swallowed by earth before he could do so because the earth was unable to bear the gravity of his misdeeds.]

Living on alms as they did in the conditions of rural India at the time, they would either have gravely embarrassed those who offered them food, or starved if they had refused all meat. At the same time, under modern conditions, especially in the West, the question does arise as to whether the Sangha might not educate the laity into offering only vegetarian food. Many Western Buddhists (and not only Mahayanists) are in fact vegetarians today.

In many schools of Mahayana Buddhism, vegetarianism is the rule, and some writers have indulged in polemics against the Theravada school on this score. This, whatever may be said, has not always been purely for reasons of compassion. Shinran Shonin, the founder o the Shin School in Japan, abolished compulsory vegetarianism along with celibacy because he construed it a penitential practice.


The reference to an elixir noted above is interesting. E. Lamotte, The Teaching of Vimalakirti (English translation, PTS, London 1976), p. 313f., has an interesting and learned note in which he refers to deities mentioned in MN 36, who offered to insert a special divine essence into the Bodhisatta's pores to keep him alive, at the time of his extreme austerities.

He compares the Buddha's last meal with the wondrous food served to the Boddhisattvas by Vimalakriti, which takes seven days to digest, whereas the sukara-maddava eaten by the Buddha can only be digested by the Tathagata [another name for the Buddha] (or so we are told). The trouble was, of course, that in fact even the Tathagata failed to digest it! Cf. also SN 7.1.9.


With this Sutta [Sanskrit, sutra, "discourse"], Mrs. Bennett's volume of abridged translations comes to an end. Of greater value was The Last Days of the Buddha, translated by Sister Vajira and revised by Francis Story, with notes by the Ven. Nyanaponika Mahathera (Wheel Publication 67-69, BPS, Kandy 1964).

The Sutta is a composite one, many portions of which are found separately in other parts of the Canon, as listed by Rhys Davids. No doubt it contains the basic facts about the Buddha's last days, but various late and more than dubious elements have been incorporated in it -- a process which continued in the later Sanskrit versions (produced by the Sarvastivadins and other schools), which are known to us mainly from the Chinese and Tibetan translations (though some Sanskrit fragments have been found). For E. Waldschmidt's (German) study of these, see A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism (2nd ed., London 1907), pp. 123-147.

It should perhaps be mentioned that the (expanded, Sanskrit-based) Mahaparinirvana Sutra is sometimes cited as evidence for the belief in a supreme self in Mahayana Buddhism. One Chinese version does indeed contain a passage to this effect, but this is a late interpolation, and is not representative of the general Mahayana position.

Buddha dies; Swine Sacrificed out of FEAR

Egypt will slaughter all its pigs out of fear of swine flu (AP).

The Buddha's last meal from which he became sick and passed away was at the house of Cunda, the blacksmith's son (

Non-vegetarian Buddhists don't avoid pork. But maybe they should. While historically in dispute, pork killed the Buddha. The dispute centers around the name of the dish offered to him -- "pig's delight" (sukara maddava) -- which could also refer to mushroom (truffles).

Neither seems suitable as "food." However, wandering mendicants do not have the luxury of choosing what they are offered. It is said that the Buddha well knew what the consequences of this meal would be. He asked the donor to only serve it to him and to bury the rest. The entire episode, coming well before the Buddha's final passing, is preserved in the Maha Parinibbana Sutta (D.II,127) of the Digha Nikaya (the "Great Final Passing Discourse of the Collection of Lengthy Discourses").

The following story illustrates a great Buddhist truth. All wrongdoing (harmful karma) has only four sources, four motivations, four roots: delusion, greed, aversion, and fear.

Egypt to Slaughter all of its Pigs out of Fear

Health worker sprays chemicals to disinfect local pig farm in Cairo, 4/27/09. Authorities will kill about 350,000 pigs (AP/Mohammed Ahmed).

CAIRO – Egypt began killing the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country today as a precau-tionary measure against the spread of swine flu -- even though no cases have been reported here yet, the Health Ministry said.

The move immediately provoked resistance from pig farmers. At one large pig farming center just north of Cairo, farmers refused to cooperate with Health Ministry workers, who came to slaughter the animals. And the workers left without carrying out the government order.

"It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country's slaughterhouses," Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly told reporters after a Cabinet meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork due to religious restrictions. But the animals are raised and consumed by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population. More>>

US cyber security "embarrassing"

Maggie Shiels, Technology reporter (BBC News, Silicon Valley)

Experts say the cyber threat is increasing at an accelerating rate.

America's cybersecurity has been described as "broken" by one industry expert and as "childlike" by another.

The criticism comes as President Obama prepares to release the results of a review he ordered.

Tim Mather, chief security strategist for RSA, told BBC News "the approach we have relied on for years has effectively run out of steam."

Meanwhile, Alan Paller from the SANS Institute said the government's cyber defenses were "embarrassing." More>>

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dinosaurs survived massive asteroid impact

Artist's conception of asteroid impact leading to mass extinction (; msnbc).

The great impact of an asteroid that might have wiped out the dinosaurs apparently didn't get all of them. New fossil evidence suggests some dinosaurs survived for up to half a million years after the impact in remote parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
The whole idea that a space rock destroyed the dinosaurs has become controversial in recent years. Many scientists now suspect other factors were involved, from increased volcanic activity to climate change. Either way, some 70 percent of life on Earth perished, and an asteroid impact almost surely played a role. More>>

AFP: News Direct

Columbia University: East Asian Library

Looking for a specific title or author, or want to conduct a subject search? Start with WORLDCAT — the single largest bibliographic database of library holdings around the world. Be aware that most of Columbia University's East Asian holdings (including thousands of Tibetan records) have not yet been uploaded to WorldCat.

If a title in WorldCat displays no holdings icon for Columbia University Libraries, search the University's online catalog CLIO. It is likely that the item is in our collection. If not, Columbia faculty and students can submit requests through Interlibrary Loan or BorrowDirect (a more rapid service drawing from a consortium of research libraries in the region).

Of course, several key institutions with Tibetan Studies resources do not subscribe to WorldCat. Their catalogs must be searched separately, which can be done online for the following:
Print catalogs of Tibetan collections in the United States and elsewhere may list additional holdings (often rare) that are not listed in WorldCat. The following list of print catalogs is arranged by geographic location: North America, Western and Eastern Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. More>>

New Marriage Options

Say "I do...for now"
With divorce rates rising, some countries are proposing nuptials with renewable contracts. » Pros and cons

Flu, Flu, Government Flu (cure)

WQ announces cure for "swine flu"! The cure is threefold: Colloidal silver wipes out the virus. Good nutrition keeps the body strong. And a loving mind/heart (since "fear" is a form of dosa, hate/aversion in Buddhist psychological terms) helps keep your wits about you.

WARNING: Profanity. "Government Flu" (performed by the Dead Kennedys)
The Pharmaceutical Industry used a 1976 "swine flu" scare to cause a health catastrophe. Harmful vaccinations were pressed on everyone for an epidemic scare that never materialized. What did materialize, however, was disease brought on by the vaccine. Flu shots harm. Vaccinations in children have led to an exponential increase in autism. Vaccines do not work for future flus -- ask your doctor. Even she'll admit it. You're taxing your immune system to no advantage. With a six-month lag time, anyone being inoculated is being given a vaccine for a disease that is no longer a risk (due to viral mutations).

All American Girl says: The swine flu was created in a test tube by the government/NWO as part of a master plan. It's a means of world control and one way to usher in Martial Law.

Bollywood Love story

"Slumdog Millionaire" costars are dating
Future Bond girl Freida Pinto, 24, and Dev Patel, 19, continually denied they were dating, but the gossipy truth comes out. » Oh, mom

Homosexuality and Buddhism: "Pandakas"

Pandaka literally means "eunuch." Generally, it is understood to be a transsexual or at the very least a transgender, often deviant, individual "lacking maleness." Homosexuality as understood today is not as it was understood in ancient India or even how it is understood today in various parts of Asia.

Leonard Zwilling
"It is evident, then, that we are dealing with a variety of sexual dysfunctions and variations categorized under the general rubric "pandaka," and the reason for this is that they all share the common quality of being "napumsaka," "lacking maleness." That is, for one reason or another they fail to meet the normative sex role expectations for an adult male.

"In the Vinaya literature [the Monastic Disciplinary Code] references to pandakas are made almost invariably within the context of sexual, specifically homosexual, behavior, and we find in many societies a tendency to label a boy or man who participates in homosexual activity as not being a "real man."[16]

"Even as early as the period of the Atharva Veda, pandakas were viewed as a distinct group, different from ordinary males and females, and apparently transvestite. The Vinaya, in fact, goes so far as to distinguish sexual activity between normative males from sexual relations between a socially normative male and a pandaka.[17]

"The pandaka was also viewed as possessing a distinct psychological makeup. According to Buddhaghosa [by far the most famous ancient scholar in Theravada Buddhism] pandakas are full of defiling passions (ussanakilesa); their lusts are unquenchable (avupasantaparilaha); and they are dominated by their libido (parilahavegabhibhuta) and the desire for lovers just like prostitutes (vesiya) and coarse young girls (thulakumarika).[18]

"Thus the pandaka is distinguished not by homosexual behavior per se, but by the failure to fulfill male role expectations, was considered in some degree to share the behavior and psychological characteristics of the stereotypical "bad" woman.

"For Vasubandhu, the psychological makeup of the pandaka is such as to have significant ramifications for his ability to practice religion. On the one hand, pandakas are incapable of religious discipline (samvara) because to an inordinate degree they possess the defiling passions of both sexes...and they lack the sense of modesty and shame...necessary to counteract them.[19].
Buddhist monks pictured outside a nightspot on Patpong Road, Bangkok, an infamous commercial sex zone (Photo: AP; story:

"On the other hand, paradoxically, the pandakas also... I can only speculate that this view of the pandaka as lascivious, shameless, unfilial, and vacillating is based on the social disabilities incurred by the pandaka as a member of a stigmatized and outcasted group, such as is formed by their present-day counterparts, the hinjras,[22] as well as on the inability or unwillingness of such offspring to bring satisfaction to their parents either in this life by producing children or in the afterlife owing to their disqualification from funerary and after death rites.[23]

"As for the etiology of the homosexual condition, Indian Buddhist tradition, at least as represented by Buddhaghosa, agrees for the most part with traditional Indian medical thought in seeing it as being essentially an organic disorder, although one with an important psychological component.[24]

"Buddhaghosa begins his analysis by pointing out that men and women obviously differ not only in what we call primary and secondary sexual characteristics, but in interests and inclinations as well....

"Also, a number of rules laid down in monastic law are meant to minimize the occasions for homosexual activity inevitable in closed, same-sex communities; for example it is forbidden for two novices to share the same bedcover[35] and it is not allowed for two novices to serve one monk; this rule having been promulgated after it was discovered that two novices had each committed a sexual offense with the other.[36]

"As to the ordination of the sexually nonconformist male, it will certainly be no surprise to find ordination denied to such individuals and that such denial has solid canonical authority.

As with all the rules in the system of Buddhist monastic law [Vinaya], this regulation purportedly arose in response to a specific set of circumstances that in the Pali tradition are recounted in the Pandaka-vatthu section of the Mahavagga.[37]

"The account is short enough, and of interest for the light it sheds on the perceived characteristics of pandakas, that I give it here in its entirety:

"At that time a certain pandaka was ordained among the monks. He approached a number of young monks and said: 'Come, Venerable Ones, defile me' (etha, mam ayasmanto dusetha). The monks reproached him: 'Begone pandaka, away with you! What have we to do with that?'

"Reproached by the monks he approached a number of large, stout novices. 'Come, Venerable Ones, defile me.' The novices reproached him: 'Begone pandaka, away with you! What have we to do with that?'

"Reproached by the novices he approached the elephant keepers and the grooms and said: 'Come, Sirs, defile me.' The elephant keepers and grooms defiled him.

"They grumbled, became angry and irritated: 'These recluses, these followers of the Buddha are pandakas and those who are not pandakas defile pandakas. Thus do they all lack discipline.'

"Monks heard those elephant keepers and grooms who grumbled, were angry, and irritated and those monks told this matter to the Blessed One who said: 'Monks, if a pandaka is not ordained, let him not be ordained. If he is already ordained let him be expelled.'"[38]

A similar prohibition would appear to be extended to the sexually nonconformist woman as well. According to the Cullavagga,[39] among the individuals to be denied ordination are the animitta and the itthipandaka. The latter, by analogy with the male pandaka, would seem to be no more than the female of the species and the equivalent of the narisanda, or lesbian, of the medical literature.[40]...

"Beyond the prohibition against ordination, Asanga, like Vasubandhu, goes so far as to refuse the pandaka recognition as a layman on the grounds that such persons are unfit to associate with or serve the samgha [Sangha] although, as a concession and perhaps reflecting a broader Mahayana perspective, he does allow them to practice the path of a layman if they so desire,[42] presumably without receiving recognition as a layman.

"Interestingly enough, the proto-Mahayana text Mahavastu recognizes that even such a highly advanced practitioner as a fourth stage bodhisattva may backslide owing to homosexual activity.[43]

"Although no explicit references to homosexuality are found in the Nikayas [the canonical divisions of the written Dharma], the collection of the Buddha's discourses in the Pali tradition, in the Puggalappasada-sutta of the Anguttara-nikaya[44] there is what may be construed as a warning to monks against homoerotic feelings.

"The Buddha warns that a monk who is devoted (abhippasanna) to another, who thinks: 'This person is dear and pleasing (priyo manapo) to me,' will be adversely affected if his friend is suspended or expelled by the Order, leaves, becomes mentally unbalanced, or dies.

"And again, Buddhaghosa, in commenting on a passage in the Cakkavatti-sutta of the Digha Nikaya,[45] describing the progressive degeneration in the life span of human beings following upon their increasing corporeality and sinfulness, takes the expression 'wrong conduct' (micchadhamma) as 'the sexual desire of men for men and women for women.'[46]

"In associating homosexuality with decline and decadence Buddhaghosa is undoubtedly reflecting a commonly held view of his time, a view also expressed in the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata.[47]

"In the sutra literature of Sanskrit Buddhism..."

Tibetan Buddhism understudied at UC

"Leading Buddhist Studies Program Eyes Tibetan Gap"
Angilee Shah (UCLA International Institute)

UCLA has an impressive collection of Tibetan-language texts, says Robert Buswell.

Center events on Tibetan Buddhism are part of an effort to create a UCLA chair in the field. On May 23, 2007 a high-ranking Buddhist abbot and a University of Michigan professor read the poetry of a modern Tibetan monk in the original language and in English translation.

Berkeley, CA (USA) -- A quick search of UCLA's library collections returns 472 entries of Tibetan language texts. The problem is that no one at UCLA is devoted to studying them.
"The only area that we really don't cover right now is Tibet," says UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies Director Robert Buswell, a scholar of the religious tradition in Korea.

Home to four professors and looking to hire more, UCLA has the largest faculty for Buddhist studies in the Western world and the largest U.S. enrollments in courses on Buddhism. Two UCLA art historians specialize in Buddhism, and faculty members from several other departments have strong interests. More>>

"Etiquette Guide" for Effeminate Monks

It is customary for Thai men to [temporarily] enter the monkhood for training at least once.

(BBC [and WQ]) -- A Buddhist preacher [revered monk of long standing in the Sangha] in Thailand has announced plans for new guidelines aimed at curbing the flamboyant behavior of gay and transgender monks.

The "good manners" curriculum -- the country's first -- is being introduced in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

The senior monk told the BBC he was particularly concerned by effeminate activities among novices [who are not monks and are therefore only bound to ten rather than the 227 rules monks follow] such as the wearing of make-up and tight robes.

More than 90% of the Thai population are followers of [Theravada] Buddhism.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok says tales of monks [who are actually only temporarily-ordained novices, samaneras, not "monks"] behaving badly are nothing new in Thailand.

In recent years, they have been accused of abuses of their exalted position in society that range from amassing dozens of luxury cars, to running fake amulet scams, to violating their vows of celibacy, our correspondent says.

Senior monk Phra ["Venerable"] Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedhi told the BBC he would address issues like smoking, drinking alcohol, walking, and going to the toilet properly, which are all detailed in the traditional 75 Dharma principles of Buddhism, and the 227 precepts for [fully-ordained] monks.

He was especially concerned, he said, by the flamboyant behavior of gay and transgender [novices, who are technically pandakas and therefore ineligible to become "monks"], who can often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses, and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows. [Thailand accepts a third gender known as kathoey, "transsexuals," who also existed in ancient India and in the Buddha's time were referred to as pandakas, and even in indigenous American tribes, such as the Chumash].

Thailand has a very large and visible population of transgender men [pandakas]. And Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood [as celibate novices]. But he hoped his course could at least persuade them to curb their more extrovert habits.

If successful, the "good manners" course, at the Novice Demonstration School, would be replicated at other Buddhist monasteries and seminaries, he said. Source

  • Book: Sexuality and the World's Religions (Machacek & Wilcox)
  • Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender (Edited by Jose Ignacio Cabezon, SUNY)
  • "Pandakas" are discussed in Chapter 9 (pp. 203-214) "Homosexuality as Seen in Indian Buddhist Texts" by Leonard Zwilling