Friday, December 31, 2010

Anger is Easy to Manage

Wisdom Quarterly edit Wikipedia on anger

Anger in Buddhism is defined here as "being unable to bear the object, or the intention to cause harm to the object." Anger is a stronger exaggeration of aversion (dosa) and in meditation is considered one of the Five Hindrances.

Buddhist monastics are full time practitioners of the Dharma who also sometimes get angry. However, the difference is that a spiritual person is aware of the arising emotion, the danger in, and the escape from this and other unchecked hindrances.

How can it be handled? In response to the question, "Is any anger acceptable in Buddhism?' the Dalai Lama answered:

"Buddhism in general teaches that anger is a destructive emotion and although anger might have some positive effects in terms of survival or moral outrage, I do not accept that anger of any kind as a virtuous emotion nor aggression as constructive behavior. The Buddha Gautama has taught that there are three basic kleshas at the root of samsara (bondage, illusion) and the vicious cycle of rebirth: These are greed, hatred, and delusion -- also translatable as attachment, anger, and ignorance. They bring us confusion and misery rather than peace, happiness, and fulfillment. It is in our own self-interest to purify and transform them" (Urban Dharma Newsletter).

Buddhist scholar and author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has also explained the Buddha's teaching on the spiritual imperative of identifying anger and overcoming it by transforming difficulties:

When things go wrong in our lives and we encounter difficult situations, we tend to regard the situation itself as our problem. But in reality whatever problems we experience come from the side of the mind. If we responded to difficult situations with a positive mind they would not be problems for us. Eventually, we might even regard them as challenges or opportunities for growth and development. Problems arise only if we respond to difficulties with a negative state of mind. Therefore, if we want to be free from problems, we must transform our mind (How to Solve our Human Problems).

The Buddha pointed out some of the immediate harm that comes from anger, as opposed to the benefits of cultivating loving-kindness:

An angry person becomes ugly and sleeps poorly. Gaining a profit, one turns it into a loss, doing damage in word and deed. A person overwhelmed by anger destroys a store of wealth. Maddened by anger, one destroys one's status. Relatives, friends, and colleagues avoid the angry person. Anger brings on loss. Anger inflames the mind. One does not realize that danger is born from within. An angry person does not know that benefit is born there, too. An angry person does not see the Dharma. A person conquered by anger is in a mass of darkness. One takes pleasure in bad deeds as if they were good. But later when anger subsides, one suffers as if burned. One is spoiled, blotted out, like fire enveloped in smoke. When anger spreads, when a person becomes angry, one has no shame, no fear of wrongdoing, is not respectful in speech. For a person overcome by anger, nothing gives light ("Seven Things that Befall an Angry Person," Kodhana Sutra, AN 7.60).

So how does one easily manage anger? The first thing is to recognize it as a problem. So long as we think it's a benefit -- anger strengthens me, it keeps me alive, it motivates me to take action, and so on -- we will not seek to overcome it. However, when we recognize that in addition to any benefits, there are grave dangers in all anger, we can begin to eagerly take the steps:

The Anger-Eating Demon (Buddhist story)

Updated tale retold by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera (author of the Buddhist Dictionary)
"Demon" (asura) on Sakka's throne eating anger of the sky-devas (mooligaisidhan)

The Anger-Eating Demon (retold)
Ven. Nyanaponika, Wisdom Quarterly edit, SN 22 (Grouped Discourses)
Once there lived a "demon" (asura) who had a peculiar diet: He fed on the anger of others.

His feeding ground was the human world. And there was no lack of food for him. For he found it easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national even racial hatred. So to stir up a willingness for combatants to fight was not very difficult.

Whenever he succeeded, he could gorge himself during a war without much further effort. Once war is started, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people.

The demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from overeating, being content with gnawing on a small piece of resentment here and there.

Spaceport 33 (the Tavatimsa akasha-deva world)

But as often happens as a result of success, he became overbearing. One day feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the devas [shining ones]?"

Reflecting on where best to feed, he chose Tavatimsa, the Space World of the 33 Devas, ruled by Sakka, King of the Devas. He knew that although they were far above petty and selfish quarrels, only a few of the beings there had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion.

So by a psychic feat he transferred himself to that space realm. He was lucky enough to come at a time when King Sakka was away. There was no one in the large audience hall. So the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne. He waited quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a sullen feast. Soon some of the celestial inhabitants came to the hall.

They could hardly believe their eyes to see this disgusting monster sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Recovering from their initial shock, they began to shout and lament:

"Oh, demon! How dare you sit on the throne of our ruler? What gall! What a crime! You should be cast headlong into the lowest hells, straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Get out! Get out!"

He started to ooze a smoky-red-glowing aura

While the devas grew angrier and angrier, the demon was delighted in his feast. Moment by moment gorging, he grew in size, in strength, in power. But the anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze as a smoky-red-glowing aura. This vexing mist kept the devas at a distance and dimmed their natural radiance.

Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall. It grew into a dazzling light from which the deva-king Sakka emerged.

Sakka, because he had entered the undeflectable stream that leads to nirvana, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke screen created by the anger of the devas parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne.

"Welcome, friend! Please remain seated, relax. I can take another chair. May I offer you a drink out of hospitality? Our timeless Amrita (nectar) is good. Or if you prefer a stronger brew, some [entheogenic] Soma?"

While Sakka spoke these genuinely friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved.

Anger-Eating Demon (original)
Wisdom Quarterly translation based on (Section 93, SN xi.3.2)
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Buddha was staying in Savatthi at Jetavana monastery in Anathapindika's Park. There the Blessed One addressed the monastics:

"Bhikkhus!" "Bhagwan (lord)!" they replied. Then he told this tale:

"Once upon a time, O monastics, a certain sickly and decrepit demon took his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the [Tavatimsa- and Catumaharajika- world] devas. The devas, O monastics, of the Suite of the Thirty-three [Tavatimsa spaceport] were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly:

" 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly looking and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the devas!"

Now, O monastics, as the devas of the Suite of the Thirty-three were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly, in that same proportion did the demon grow handsomer, better looking, and more pleasing.

Then, O monastics, the devas of the Suite of the Thirty-three drew close to Sakka, the leader of the devas. Having drawn near, they spoke to as follows:

"Sir, a sickly and decrepit demon has come here and taken his seat on your throne. And the devas of the Suite of the Thirty-three, sir, are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly: 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the devas.' And, sir, as the devas of the Suite of the Thirty-three are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly, in that same proportion does the demon grow handsomer, better-looking, and more pleasing. Sir, surely now, it must be an anger-eating demon."

Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the devas approached the anger-eating demon. He threw his upper garment over his shoulder and, planting his right knee on the ground, stretched out his joined palms to the demon, and three times announced himself:

"Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the devas! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the devas! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the devas!"

The more, O monastics, Sakka leader of the devas, proclaimed his name, the more sickly and decrepit the demon became and soon disappeared. Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the gods, resumed his seat and used the occasion to induce in the devas a more fitting frame of mind, by means of the following stanzas:

"My mind is not so easily cast down,
Nor does it lightly swerve from its own course;
And, O, long angry can I never be,
For anger finds no dwelling place in me.

"I never in anger utter harsh words,
And never proclaim my virtue's fame;
Instead myself I seek to keep subdued
In the interest of my future weal."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Desire, Anger, and Addiction (cartoon)

If desire is a game of "cat and mouse," anger must be all about cats and dogs.

A 12-step program not centered on a common godly "higher power"? One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps by Kevin Griffin points out that addicts are experts at desire. But desire is not the only way we give in to our addiction (to sex, drugs, food, drink, sugar, caffeine, emotions, or what not; what won't we crave, grasp at, and cling to?)

The other popular route to giving in is resentment. Resentment is a manifestation of aversion. We think about greed all the time. We central problem in Buddhism is that we cling to the "constituents of being" (forms, feelings, perceptions, volitions, conscious states) for a start. Then we run to anything we imagine we will find pleasant and run from the unpleasant.

This does not leave a lot of room for freewill and self-determination -- except for one amazing thing.

When we look with bare awareness (dispassionate observation), that is, when we remain "mindful" of whatever arises in us, we are not controlled by it. Now, the next moment we may go back to being under its control. But so long as we're looking at it, facing it, observing without judging or resisting it, it has no control over us. Things can pull us or scare us off, but we don't have to move if we observe instead.

Meditation, then, just means staying aware of whatever is arising -- sometimes taking it not one day at a time but one breath at a time.

Why? The mind only holds one thing at a time. (This is a fundamental truth in Buddhist psychology laid bare in the Abhidharma for all to eventually experience). So we are either consumed by experience or standing outside that consumption looking at it.

Desire arises, awareness of it arises. Aversion arises, awareness of it arises. So long as awareness does not arise, we are just our desire and anger. But by looking, it all starts to seem funny. What I thought was mine, that's not mine. It arises dependent on its conditions (and what we've associated with it).

When tose supporting conditions subside -- and they will always subside -- it will subside. I'm stressed, I want a cigarette/orgasm/drink or I want to vent. The only link is the one we associated by practice.

With this, that comes to be; with the ceasing of this, that ceased to be. Why am I angry/resentful? Because someone did something and that emotion had become my customary way of responding. A woman stood up and said, "I'm unhappy because of my mother!" The therapist replied, "Great, send her to me, I'll treat her, and you'll get better." It of course does not work that way.

We're all the problem we need; the solution is right here, too. If I'm angry because I'm angry -- not because of external conditions I'm "choosing" (the choice may have been made far sooner when we developed the habit) to be angry about. So I can be unangry right now without anything else changing. It's that amazing, that easy, that doable. But only right now. That's all there ever is. Stay mindful of all that is.

A third way addiction kicks in is... In fact, all Five Hindrances provoke our addictions.

Buddhist 12-Step Recovery (audio)

Judith Ragir, audio on AA, Zen, Theravada [Vipassana], and Tibetan Buddhism12 Step Audio Lectures

“12 Step Audio Lectures” Judith Ragir

These lectures were recorded at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in an effort to bring together 12-Step recovery work, Buddhism, and meditation. My mission, as stated often in the lectures or at the beginning of the meeting is:

(1) to help people understand how to meditate, encourage daily meditation, and give support for sustaining a practice once established, and (2) to help make the translation from a mainly Christian-based language in the 12-Steps to the non-theistic language of Buddhism.

The main principles of Buddhism are interwoven and mirrored in the Steps. We can discern and explore where specific Buddhist practices fall into the organization of the Steps. For thirty years, I have practiced Buddhism and the 12-Steps, side-by-side, with profound results.

Each community could learn from one another. From my point of view, American Buddhists can enrich their understanding of Sangha and the dismantling of destructive patterns from Steps 4 through 9 as practiced in Recovery. The Recovery community can learn much from mindfulness practice and meditation that is such a rich treasure in Buddhism. Combined, they provide an unshakable transformative process for us all.

Series 1: Practicing the Specific Steps

  • Interrupting Patterns (38:46, 15 Jan 2004)
  • Kill the Buddha (44:32, 22 Jan 2004)
  • Spiritual Stability (1:01:31, 29 Jan 2004)
  • Step 2-3, Faith (1:06:39, 5 Feb 2004)
  • Third Step, Prayer (57:03, 12 Feb 2004)
  • Stop, Calm, Rest, Heal (1:02:45, 26 Feb 2004)
  • Dismantling Patterns (1:17:16, 4 Mar 2004)
  • Dismantling Patterns 2, Divine Abodes (1:14:07, 11 Mar 2004)
  • Amends and Forgiveness (1:08:35, 8 Apr 2004)
  • Step 5, Confession, Repentance (49:04, 25 Apr 2004)
  • Mindfulness (56:51, 6 May 2004)

Series 2: Practicing the Specific Steps

  • Step 1, Illusion of Control (53:04, 13 May 2004)
  • Step 2, Power greater and sanity (44:41, 27 May 2004)
  • Step 3, Let Go and Let God (1:20:47, 17 Jun 2004)
  • Step 4, Anger (1:17:06, 24 Jun 2004)
  • Step 4, Fear (1:15:47, 1 Jul 2004)
  • Divine Abodes (1:14:34, 15 Jul 2004)
  • Step 5, Confession (1:07:42, 22 Jul 2004)
  • Step 6, Dismantling Patterns (50:30, 29 Jul 2004)
  • Step 6 and 7, Willingness and Grace (50:33, 26 Aug 2004)
  • Step 7 and 8, Forgiveness (1:13:17, 2 Sep 2004)
  • Step 8 and 9 Forgiveness II (1:17:38, 9 Sep 2004)
  • Don’t Talking of Others Faults (46:12, 16 Sep 2004)
  • Amends, Formula for Regret (45:12, 30 Sep 2004)
  • Step 9, Promises (47:46, 7 Oct 2004)
  • Step 10, Mindfulness (45:53, 14 Oct 2004)
  • Step 11, 5th Sense (45:43, 21 Oct 2004)
  • Step 11, Prayer, Call and Response (55:50, 28 Oct 2004)
  • Step 11, Relief of the Bondage of Self (51:33, 4 Nov 2004)
  • Step 12, Bodhisattva Vow (48:08, 11 Nov 2004)
  • Joys and Problems of Step 12 Services (52:33, 18 Nov 2004)

Series 3: Practicing with Difficulties and Tonglen

  • Transforming Difficulties (34:18, 2 Dec 2004)
  • Transforming Difficulties into the Path (46:13, 16 Dec 2004)
  • Learning Tonglen (1:07:07, 6 Jan 2005)
  • Tonglen Instructions (20:14, 13 Jan 2005)
  • Tonglen Meditations (1:11:44, 20 Jan 2005)
  • Continuing Q and A about Tonglen (1:20:51, 27 Jan 2005)

Series 4: Practicing the Specific Steps

  • Serenity and Mindfulness (45:12, 17 Feb 2005)
  • Step 1, Big mind, Small mind (44:44, 3 Mar 2005)
  • Step 2, Reliance not Defiance (48:09, 24 Mar 2005)
  • Step 3, A Hole in the Donut, Letting Go (47:23, 14 Apr 2005)
  • Step 5, Reliance, Regret, Change (48:50, 12 May 2005)
  • Step 4, Anger #1 (48:36, 19 May 2005)
  • Step 4, Anger #2 (47:24, 26 May 2005)
  • Step 4, Sex (55:34, 2 Jun 2005)
  • Step 4, Money (50:00, 30 Jun 2005)
  • Step 5, Regret and Community (47:13, 7 Jul 2005)
  • Step 6-7 Grace (50:52, 14 Jul 2005)
  • Japan Trip (52:11, 1 Sep 2005)
  • Steps 4-7 Dismantling Patterns (46:46, 8 Sep 2005)
  • One day at a time (50:14, 22 Sep 2005)
  • Do the next appropriate action (47:05, 29 Sep 2005)
  • 12 Step Retreat, Q&A on meditation (38:22, 5 Nov 2005)
  • 12 Step Retreat, Presence (27:34, 5 Nov 2005)
  • Step 8 Forgiveness (1:18:50, 10 Nov 2005)
  • Step 9, amends, right speech & precepts (40:48, 1 Dec 2005)
  • Step 10, “Don’t be hatin’” (44:21, 12 Jan 2006)
  • Step 10, Anger transformation and meditation (1:17:30, 2 Feb 2006)
  • Step 10, Precepts and right speech (47:52, 9 Feb 2006)
  • Step 11, Thy will not my will be done (translated) (46:13, 23 Feb 2006)
  • Step 12, Selfless Service (47:35, 23 March 2006)
  • Step 11, The Energy of Prayer (38:51, 25 May 2006)

Top Selected excerpts:

“During the course of my recovery, I’ve done a lot of co-dependency work. I’ve done a lot of... sexual and emotional abuse work. I have kind've done the gamut of program things. I [met] Katagiri Roshi in 1973. So Zen and Buddhist practice has been part of my life through the whole time that I’ve been working in recovery. So I feel like I really worked very hard to combine the two transformative spiritual paths. Both paths are about transforming your life, and they work really well together....

“There’s a lot of different types of Buddhism right? Zen and Tibetan and Theravadan Vipassana are the main ones that are in America right now. And Zen is a wonderful tradition. It’s my main tradition. But there wasn’t much emotional practices for me in Zen. Zen kind of sits you in the absolute, and you just have to fend for yourself. And the way I fended for myself was by doing the Steps.” (Lecture 1, at around 1:00)

“...Our first thing is to blame others. But actually, when I investigate it, there is a pattern in me that got hooked. And I’m just running the pattern. And in order to be liberated or free, we have to understand our patterning. And we have to not hook them. Learning how not…. Learning to identify patterns, and learning how to strengthen your mind, so you don’t pick up the hook when the pattern goes by. You can just let the patterning go by, and you can stay in the present moment.” (Lecture 1, at around 24:00)

© 2004 Judith Ragir

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sex? Amish romance novels

Jill Miller (Newsweek)
"Amish romance novel" is not an oxymoron. It's a publishing success story saturating the market:

“We’re seeing Amish fiction splintering into everything imaginable -- Shakers, Puritans,” says Steve Oates, marketing vice president for Bethany House, the Christian publisher whose author Beverly Lewis is the biggest name in Amish fiction.

“We call it ‘bonnet fiction.’ You slap a bonnet on the cover and double the sales.” The Thorn, Lewis’s most recent book, has sold 280,000 copies since its publication in September. Lewis herself has sold more than 13 million books in all.

Modeled on the bodice rippers that generations of women have read for escape, Amish romances follow familiar plotlines: An innocent girl, torn between a hot, dangerous boy and a cute, upstanding one, has to make a choice. Disapproving parents, difficult siblings, nosy neighbors -- not to mention the warring impulses of lust and restraint -- need to be wrestled with and vanquished.

But the best part is that in the bonnet books, passion is beside the point. The aspiration here, for the Amish heroine (and, by extension, her readers), is inner peace, a stable and cohesive community, and obedient children. Sex, if it occurs at all, happens offstage. “We’ll wait till our wedding day to lip-kiss,” says the blond (and bland) beau near the end of The Thorn. They won't even kiss on the page. More>>

More Mushrooms than "Messiahs"

Christianity has little to do with Rabbi Jesus
Wisdom Quarterly (INVESTIGATION)
Why do Christians preach the Dharma? Why do Jews love Tibetan Buddhism, yoga?

Why does Wisdom Quarterly delve into "Christian" ideas, myths, and traditions? The reason is that Christianity is an amalgam of faiths from ancient India and the Near East. Therefore, the amazing thing we aim to communicate is that what passes as Christianity isn't really "Christian."

There are entire bodies of Vedic, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Ethno-mycological literature -- which Catholicism in particular has shamelessly appropriated and reinterpreted -- that explain the odd artifacts of a religion attributed a gentle rabbi who was merely used as a cover story. (See video).

The Christian religion is not about Christ's life. It should be, it would be nice if it were (with his Zen parables and Tibetan Buddhist training), but it is not.

The earliest Christian forefathers were keeping alive psychedelic references and trans-shamanic lore of much older traditions -- like Moses and his tribe surviving on manna in the desert.

Buddhism, particularly messianic Mahayana (waiting for the return of the Maitreya / Messiah) and Vajrayana in northern India-Ladakh-Tibet, apparently fed Jewish spiritual thinking long before Christianity was composed and forced on the world through Roman and European conquest (hegemony).

The wisdom of the East is referred to time and again as, for example, in the story of the Three Wise Men. There were, according to the Bible, Three Wise Men from the East who came to give gifts to the star-child (devaputra or "son of god," lowercase because "god" here simply indicates deva). This is astrotheology, not history.

Holger Kersten (Jesus Lived in India, Chp. 4, Penguin Books India) explains that the "wise men" were Buddhist monks. This is not to say that the story is of a single human event. It is clearly an astrotheological reference to annual celestial cycles. But the human version echoes the theme of Tibetan Buddhist monks searching for a Tulku in the West among the Essenes.

The Essenes of Judea, yogis and eaters of manna, were an ancient Buddhistic-monastic community among Jews. Their spiritual and hygienic practices were unprecedented in the history of Judaism but were common in India.

It's remarkable where one finds confirmation for so many disparate ideas covered in the pages of Wisdom Quarterly!

Jesus was not the Christos (John Marco Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross)

For here we have a story of entheogenic mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), the gateway to shaman visions used by countless spiritual traditions, revealing the real history behind the construction of Judeo-Christian symbolism and mythology. (In this case, not naming the mushroom but anthropomorphizing it with stories of a religious teacher is mythologizing).

Buddhists and Muslims seem more in touch with the original human Jesus, St. Issa (Isa in Arabic) than the Jewish-Roman Paul. Why?

Paul was encoding a psychedelic religion and its practices in a syncretic amalgam or collection of faiths that would sweep the world. Originally, it had more to do with mushrooms than messiahs.

People were simply re-fed a pot of gumbo their indigenous beliefs all contributed to. This explains why the Vatican grounds contain such an inexplicable mishmash of exotic artifacts and symbols. There are Greek and Greco-Indian as well as Theravada-Therapeutae and Gnostic mystic elements for a start. The Vatican itself was built over on an enormous temple-complex dedicated to Mithra. Most of what is said about Jesus today was first said about Mithra.

Mithraism was Roman astrotheology (the stars forming the basis of religion) before renaming and reinterpreting things in "Christian" terms. The word "catholic," after all, simply means "universal." And the plan worked, making this Roman mishmash the largest religion in the world. Catholicism was the Roman Empire's way of conquering the world after failing to conquer it by war.

So the religions of the world have a lot to talk about with one another, a great deal to share, and a much to be friends about.

  • For instance, Wisdom Quarterly's research strongly indicates that Sakka, King of the [Tavatimsa world and Catumaharajika] Devas, is none other than archangel St. Michael (who cast demons/asuras out of lower celestial world).

Jesus (and Mithra) may be the ideal "savior" (bodhisattva) for Christians. But ancient Jews knew he was not the "messiah" they were awaiting, from stories of Maitreya they picked up from the East. Moreover, he is certainly not the Buddha "Maitreya."

Jesus as Messiah?
Rabbi Simmons (
Q: Why did the majority of the Jewish world reject Jesus as the Messiah, and why did the first Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah?
A: It is important to understand why Jews don't believe in Jesus. The purpose is not to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position. The more data that's available, the better informed choices people can make about their spiritual path. Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because: More>>

PHOTOS: Rabbi Jesus (, the Buddha and Christ (, Maitreya Buddha statue from Gandhara (Norton Simon Museum of Art), Mithra stone relief (

"Sacred Mushroom and the Cross" (video)

Opinion and explanation: The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (Travis Jay Christofil)

The myth of Jesus Christ was to encompass all gods and all mythologies -- Pagan, Jewish...Buddhist.

Buddhist Therapeutae (Theravada)
Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit (Therapeutae)
The similarities between Therapeutae tradition and Buddhist monasticism, which was established several centuries earlier, combined with Indian evidence of Buddhist missionary activity to the Mediterranean region around 250 BCE (the Edicts of Ashoka), have been pointed out (Ref).

Buddhism spread due to King Ashoka (260-218 BCE) according to the Edicts of Ashoka

Linguist Zacharias P. Thundy suggests that the word "Therapeutae" is simply the Hellenization of the Indian (Pali language) word for traditional Buddhists, Theravada.[Ref]

Egypt had intense trade and cultural contacts with India during this period, as described in the 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

Astro-theology: Worship of Space
Jordan Maxwell (
The Judeo-Christian Bible tells a wonderful story. It is, in fact, often referred to as "The Greatest Story Ever Told." And so it is! Here's why:

In the Christian Bible's New Testament, a provocative and most serious challenge is laid on the whole of Christianity.

"[I]f Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (I Cor 15:14, 15, 17).

In the New Testament there is a warning given to all who would build a house. Namely, before you lay the foundation, find out what the foundation itself will rest on -- solid rock, or sand? The reason is obvious. Said another way, "We need to stand under the foundation to get a true under-standing."

Let's closely examine the original, conceptual foundations of the faith and then decide "if Christ be not risen." In order to do that, we must go back, not 2,000 years to the birth of Christ, but 8,000 to 10,000 years to the birth of modern man.

For when one seeks to establish foundations, one must begin at the beginning. Many thousands of years ago in what we refer to as the the "primordial world" of the ancients, human life was a far different experience. Retelling an ancient story>>

The Largest Database on the Human Race

Why does it seem to be the mission and focus of the Mormon religion to collect information on genealogies? [It is as if they want Edgar Cayce's Akashic Records here on Earth.]

They have got a vault carved into the solid granite of a mountain 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. There they store information about the births, marriages, and deaths of over 2 billion people, the largest single database on the details of the human race in the world.

Buried 600 feet into the mountain, protected by two nine-ton and one 14-ton doors built to withstand a nuclear blast...with five billion documents stored on 1 ½ million rolls of microfilm and 1 ½ million microfiche, wtih 25,000 volunteers currently working to scan and index it all (

Why the secrecy? Why the vaults? What is the real mission of this organization?, a subscription-based service started by members of the LDS church, has 900,000 subscribers and is growing. In May 2007, they dumped the military records of all the soldiers who fought in all of the US wars, 90 million of them, online.

How did this organization get unrestricted access to census records?
Strange how the recent census did not ask for names yet all the previous census records put together the names with the data. claims to have come across a comment in a document that one day a little known, obscure doctrine will be uncovered from the archives of the Mormon church in Salt Lake City which will reveal information regarding our previous lives in the First Estate. [This earthly present life is considered the Second Estate.] More>>

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Child who Reached Enlightenment

Ven. Sri K. Dhammananda and Wisdom Quarterly translation

"Irrigators lead the waters;
Fletchers bend their arrows;
Carpenters shape raw wood;
But the wise control themselves."
(Dhp. 80)

VI:5 The Wise Control Themselves (Pandita)
Young Pandita was the son of a well known man in Savatthi. He became a novice-monk when he was very young. Seven days after becoming a novice he was following Ven. Sariputra on almsround.

As he walked he noticed some farmers irrigating by channeling water into their fields and asked Sariputra, "Venerable sir, can water which has no mind be guided wherever one wishes?"

"Yes, it can be guided wherever one wishes," replied Sariputra as they continued on their way.

The novice Pandita next noticed fletchers making arrows by heating and straightening them. Farther along, he came across carpenters sawing, cutting, and planing timber to create such things as cart wheels.

All of this led him to ponder: "If water which is without mind can be guided wherever one wishes, and if crooked bamboo which is also without mind can be straightened, and if raw timber which is also without mind can be made into useful things, why couldn't I, having mind, be able to tame my own consciousness by practicing serenity and insight meditation?"

There and then he asked permission from Sariputra to return to his room in the monastery.

There he diligently and persistently put forward balanced-effort practicing the mindfulness meditation of contemplating the body. Unseen devas helped by keeping the monastery and its surroundings very quiet and peaceful. Soon thereafter Pandita attained non-returning, the third stage of enlightenment.

By then Sariputra was returning to the monastery. The Buddha saw the situation with his supernormal power of knowing. Understanding that Pandita had already attained non-returning, he also saw that with continued practice the young novice could soon attain full enlightenment (arhatship).

The Buddha therefore decided to delay Sariputra and keep him from entering the novice's room.

The Buddha went to the door and kept Sariputra engaged -- putting some questions to him. And while that conversation was taking place, Pandita attained full enlightenment on the eighth day after ordaining as a novice.

In this connection, the Buddha uttered this verse: "When one is earnestly practicing the Dharma, even devas give protection and keep guard. I myself kept Sariputra engaged at the door so that Pandita could attain the goal."

Tibetan Lama's Meditation Cures Gangrene

NYU researchers are studying his brain
John Johnson (Newser, Dec. 26, 2010)

An intriguing story in the Daily Beast about the divide between Eastern and Western medicine: When a Tibetan lama consulted three American doctors about his gangrene, all of them wanted to amputate his leg immediately.

He ignored them and instead followed the advice of his mentor, the Dalai Lama, who told him to meditate.

It took the better part of a year, but the gangrene eventually disappeared. Now a group of doctors at NYU has begun studying the lama's brain as he meditates to see if they can shed light on any possible connections.

The lama is expert at Tsa Lung meditation, whose practitioners visualize a "wind" moving through the body and removing impurities, writes Maureen Seaberg.

A medical anthropologist involved in the study writes: "Research shows that mental imagery directed to sites of the body, both superficial as well as deeper tissues, can with practice eventually lead to increased local blood flow, metabolic activity, and oxygenation. Such increases could in principle combat even powerful bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, which not only can be the cause of gangrene, but is now often times resistant to antibiotics.” Full story

How Yoga is "Totally Zen"

Zen Yogini Stephanie Churchill (
What is "Zen"? Zen is a Japanese word derived from the Chinese word Chán, which itself is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means jhana (absorption), "meditation," or "deep meditative state."

Meditation is the next layer to add to a yoga practice once one has become established in yoga postures and breathing.

Building a yoga practice bit by bit takes work, just like anything one really wants to succeed at in life. Indeed, yoga is a life skill. And in the hectic world we live in, meditation is as essential as yoga -- nurturing mind and body. They compliment each other. But in yoga the real work does not begin until one learns how to meditate.

Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom to attain enlightenment, de-emphasizing theoretical knowledge for direct realization through meditation and Dharma practice.

For then one can tap into internal as well as external energy. If everyone meditated there would be a lot less hostility in the world. This is how powerful, transformational, and crucial meditation can be to health and happiness for everyone. Just as there are many meditation methods, there are many yoga styles, with something to suit everyone.

Moments of time connected by nothing but breath and clear presence [or mindfulness of breathing and clear comprehension, as described in the Satipatthana Sutra] are the crux of meditation.

Finding things one might have lost along the way, meditation is engaged in to reconnect to source energy. Deep relaxation can be achieved by regular practice of meditation. Awareness of oneself [body, feelings, intentions, and mental states] and others can be cultivated by means of [fourfold mindfulness] meditation.

When we were babies we had no constant ticker tape of thoughts trailing our every move. We can return to that pure, innocent awareness. More>>

UFOs are fun, so why the fear? (video)

No one says so, but those of us in the editing room at Wisdom Quarterly can't help but feel that people think UFOs are ridiculous. The PR campaign launched in the 1950s has been so successful that they can't be discussed at all without smirking.

However, we're in awe of how much of a role extraterrestrial intelligence(s) play in religion, mythology, and history. ETs may not matter in the grand scheme of things -- namely, in everyone's own individual quest for enlightenment and liberation from suffering.

But they sure have helped form the societies we live in and the civilizations we've known. Why invisible "angels" would be easier to believe in than evasive "aliens" able to cloak themselves, whether for good or ill, is beyond our thinking.

There are many things people will not believe in until full disclosure -- and no one will say that this is what we had been saying for years. So before that day comes, bear in mind:

  • They're not one thing; there are many space aliens.
  • They're not invading because others are protecting.
  • They're not any more scary than the diversity here.
  • They're not "coming"; they've been here all along.
  • They're not green and short and all Simpsony.

They can be Nordic in appearance and, when described in ancient India as gandharvas, are much more beautiful than earthly humans. Finally, although the three world religions speak of "extraterrestrials" incessantly, still the majority of us believe that they can be no more than mythical. But they're fun, so enjoy our openminded coverage of UFOs in ancient texts and modern videos.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nirvana: "O, what happiness!"

Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda and Wisdom Quarterly translation
The Buddha radiated an aura of six colored rays in this Dhammapada (79) origin story.

One who drinks of the Dharma
Lives happily and serene in mind
For the wise ever in that Truth delight
Revealed by the Noble Ones (Dhp. 79)

VI:4 King and Court attain Sainthood
King Maha Kappina ruled in Kukkutavati (in the vicinity of Afghanistan-Pakistan-Kashmir). He had a queen named Anoja and a large retinue of ministers to help oversee the territory he ruled.

One day the king, accompanied by several of his ministers, was in the park. There they met traveling merchants from the prosperous city of Savatthi. On hearing about the Buddha (the enlightened teacher), Dharma (the teachings leading to enlightenment), and Sangha (the enlightened students) from these merchants, they set out for Savatthi.

The Buddha saw them in a vision coming towards Savatthi and intuited that they had the capacity to attain enlightenment. He therefore went and waited for them under a large banyan tree on the bank of the river.

Great Kappina and his ministers came by the river and saw a marvelous figure under a banyan tree. The Buddha was radiating six colorful rays from his body as they approached and bowed. He then delivered a sutra to the group. And as they listened to the discourse, the king and all his ministers realized the Dharma (stream entry) and became members of the Sangha.

Sangha can mean the instructed "Monastic Order" or the accomplished "Noble Order." They had just become ennobled members of the "accomplished community of Buddhist disciples" in reaching stream entry by penetrating the Four Noble Truths.

Meanwhile, Queen Anoja, on hearing that the king had gone to Savatthi, sent for the wives of the ministers. Together they followed the king's path. Eventually they, too, came to the banyan tree by the river. And seeing the Buddha with a halo of six colors, they bowed in reverence.

But the Buddha exercised supernormal power so that they did not see the men. If they had seen them in saffron robes with shaven heads, their minds would have been perturbed leaving them unable to realize the Dharma.

The queen enquired if the Buddha had seen the king and his retinue. The Buddha responded, "Sit and soon you will be able to see them even here." The queen and the other wives were overjoyed, so they sat down. The Buddha then delivered another sutra. And at the end of this discourse the king and his ministers attained full enlightenment -- sainthood -- and became arhats.

The queen and the other wives attained stream entry, the first stage of enlightenment. And at that very instant, the queen and her party saw the newly admitted monks. They recognized them as their former husbands.

The women followed suit and asked admission from the Buddha. They were directed to continue to Savatthi. There they entered the Monastic Order as Buddhist nuns and very soon they also attained full enlightenment.

The Buddha then returned to Jetavana monastery accompanied by the new monks. There Venerable Kappina resting by day or night would often exclaim: "O, what happiness! O, what happiness!" (Aho sukham! Aho sukham! )

The other monks on hearing him repeat this so often finally reported the matter to the Buddha. "Great Kappina having tasted the Dharma," the Buddha explained, "lives happily with a serene mind and repeats these words of exultation referring to nirvana."

One who drinks of the Dharma
Lives happily and serene in mind
For the wise ever in that Truth delight
Revealed by the Noble Ones.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mushrooms and the Origins of Christmas

(LINK) James Arthur* on the hidden origins of Christmas in the Western world

Telepathy-inducing telepathine (harmonious harmaline) containing mushrooms have their ritual use originating in major world religions. Of course, when these religions go mainstream, such use is discouraged and its history denied or replaced by something innocuous that does not work. Christianity/Catholicism/Judaism is an excellent using the "sacrament" of wine and bread instead of the original substance or "bread of life," which was manna, mushrooms. In India it was ambrosia, the nectar of the gods (space, sky, and earth devas) and soma.

To even contemplate using mushrooms as entheogens is to incur the wrath of religieux, rationalists, and the policing powers of the state. Why? There is a concerted effort to prevent direct spiritual experience; it must be mediated and controlled by an elite and educated priestly caste, just as in ancient times. The Buddhist shramanas (Pali, samanas, "wandering ascetics") or shamans would not submit to the authority of the brahmanas or brahmins, and as warriors they took up the Quest.

But the history of the "Pagan" European and Norse Scandinavian use of mushrooms (eaten by reindeer and Siberian shamans) is so steeped in Christian-Christmas lore as to seem ridiculously obvious. For example, What is found to the delight of the discoverer suddenly appearing under pine trees in the forests of the great north? Red-and-white Amanita muscaria mushrooms!

What is found to the delight of the discoverer suddenly appearing under pine trees in Christian living rooms? Red-and-white wrapped gifts! It's no mere coincidence occurring at astronomical odds. There are countless examples revealing the connections. Wisdom Quarterly has covered the topic (of entheogens) extensively in past articles.

LINK: "Hidden Mysteries of Christmas Unveiled"

(GnosticMedia) Astronomy has a lot to do with it. The first half covers the reason for talking about Jesus Christ and the Three Kings of the East and myths surrounding them, whereas the second half discusses Santa Claus and the details of our otherwise inexplicable Western Christmas Eve traditions.

*JAMES ARTHUR: Having become fascinated with religions of all types at an early age, James Arthur hurtled into deep study for 25 years. He discovered works by Ethnomycology pioneers R. Gordon Wasson and John Marco Allegro. He set out on a quest to unravel the mysterious meanings and implications of sacramental ingestion of plants in a religious context. In 1976 Wasson told Arthur that, in his opinion, Arthur was the world's leading expert in the field of Ethnomycology as it pertains to Christianity. He also referred to him as his dear friend.

James Arthur has been a long time Student of Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of Lama Tharchin Rimpoche, Lama Lodro, and many others. Arthur's Tibetan name is Dorje Drolod. He is also an ordained Christian priest and is therefore very familiar with Christianity. (He does not condone the practices of any priests; in fact, he advises against joining any priesthood, religion, church, or organization that requires a sworn oath or blind acceptance of a belief-system). Arthur exposes both faults and positive aspects of religion to break the bonds of our upbringing and indoctrination thereby empowering the individual. He considers study of all religions. valuable.

Sex Sutra puts iPad in "awkward position"

Cult of [with commentary and images by Wisdom Quarterly]

A freak but moist flower
tangles my lungs, knits into my heart,
crawls up my throat
and sucks like octopi on my tongue.
- "The Love Plant," US poet Anne Sexton

A small publishing company called Peter Pauper Press announced an iPad version of a print book called The Little Black Book of Kama Sutra. [Kama refers to "sexual pleasure," not karma, and a sutra is any discourse on a single "thread" or theme].

The book is part of a continuing series of “Little Black Books” and “Little Pink Books.” Other titles include The Little Black Book of [how to break the fifth Buddhist precept] and The Little Pink Book of Etiquette.

The Kama Sutra book is very much in line with a growing trend of publishing books as interactive apps instead of as e-books. The only trouble is that the book is sexual in nature [there goes the third precept*] and illustrated with photographs [of alluring positions that will make one wish one had practiced more yoga].

The publisher isn’t even going to try to get it past Apple censors [why is Apple, Inc. going the way of Google? It's because prescribed morality is good for business. And what's good for business will be shoved down consumers' throats]. But instead [the publisher] intends to distribute independently rather than through the iTunes App Store.

The Kama Sutra puts Apple in an awkward position.

The content is really an Indian religious text [on sex and sensual enjoyment because India did not always have the hang ups about sex we and it now do] that predates the fall of the Roman Empire.

For Apple to simply ban such works (note that Apple has not banned, and reportedly will not be given the opportunity to ban, the book) is to risk a thriving black market in content that many may prefer to Apple’s own store or worse, a reputation for having an inferior set of content maps to Google’s Android platform. More>>

[It all comes back to business and labeling users "consumers" until we believe that's all we are and are meant to be. We'll we've got a message for Apple: Love the computers. But, hey Jobs, relax on taking over the world by dominating every infotainment platform that arises, because the tentacles of two rapacious Bill Gates octopusses (octopi) are going to strangle us all. But that's what American-style Capitalism is all about. So on second thought, yeah, ban books, limit iPhones to AT&T, and conquer the e-book experience. It's the "American" way.]