Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Hidden History of the Buddha

WARNING: Historical evidence and theories presented here are controversial and do not serve the vested interests of Nepal, India, or Iran. Truth eventually prevails.

Photo of the Buddha, Sage of the Sakyas, whose appears far more Aryan (i.e., Iranian) than east Indian. He was from a "neighboring land," referred to himself as descended from the "Solar race" with blue eyes and "golden" skin (Wisdom Quarterly).

Zarathustra and Gautama in a Non-Jonesian Framework
Pre-edited text by [renegade historian] Dr. Ranajit Pal

The blunder of Palibothra by Sir William Jones [the Jones in Jonesian] and the forgery of Lumbini by Dr. A. Fuhrer[1] have not only wrecked Indology but also [distorted] world history... Jones’ false theory has inundated even the history of Jesus Christ [St. Issa], whose link with Seistan remains unnoticed.

Another casualty was Zoroaster [Zarathustra]... W. B. Henning writes: "…there is scarcely a point on which there is unanimity; Zoroaster’s time and place, the religion he inherited from his forefathers, the message he brought, his aim, his community, the development of his church, the history of the Avesta -- each scholar will dissent from his fellows on one point or another."[2]

Long before Henning, the great Orientalist M. Rostovtzeff of Yale, wrote in 1922, “We know but little of the history and archaeology of Central Asia and of the Iranian world.”[3]

The actual shape of the Indian empire is unknown. It was in constant flux with influence as far west as the Near East and as far east as the South China Sea (WQ).

And even after 80 years, this remains essentially true with regard to history, if not archaeology.

R. N. Frye candidly admits failure[4]: "Zarathustra, or Zoroaster as the Greeks called him, presents many problems, and it is discouraging that after so many years of research we do not know when or where he lived or even precisely his teachings."

However, the learned Harvard scholar is unaware that a British forgery lies at the root of the malady. Sanity cannot be brought back to Iranian history without noting that India and Iran were once interlinked geographically. A similar reform is needed in Indology[5].

The Buddha was fair ("golden") in contrast to many of his followers in Magadha (WQ).

D. Chakrabarti of Cambridge has written about some failings of colonial Indology[6]. But he is unaware that the most damaging legacy from the colonial era, which affects the histories of both India and Iran, is Sir William Jones’ false identification of Palibothra.

A study of the Iranian and Indian texts including the Buddhist Jataka Tales in a non-Jonesian framework merges the histories of Zoroaster and Gotama [Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha] and points at the existence of an ancient holy land in Seistan.

Ancient "India" (Bharat in the Mahabharata) was a vast, loosely aligned amalgamation of clans, kingdoms, and territories linked by trade and cultural exchanges (WQ).

An India within Iran
Vedic scholars like Hillerbrandt and Brunnhofer realized that in regard to the ancient era, the term Indo-Iranian is often preferable to "Indian" or "Iranian." But a similar awareness is lacking vis-à-vis the Avesta [Zoroastrian scriptures,].

Iranian researchers have justly rejoiced over the stunning archaeological finds at Jiroft[7]. But they seem to be unaware that Alexander the Great had found Indians in this area and defeated them.

The common heritage of the Indians and Iranians goes back to their nomadic past[8]. Yet it is important to note that even in the 4th century BC, during Alexander's expedition southeast, Iran was called India.

This India within Iran was known to Herodotus, who wrote that there were Indians in the Gedrosia area. Eminent scholars like Arnold Toynbee and Sir Charles Eliot were also aware of the geographical overlap.

Eliot wrote[9], "Our geographical and political phraseology about India and Persia obscures the fact that in many periods the frontier between the two countries was uncertain or not drawn as now."

Toynbee was a historian of the world and noted the shifting nature of India’s boundary: "...and we can already see the beginnings of this progressive extension of the name ‘Indian’ in Herodotus’ usage."

That Gedrosia and Carmania were within greater India was stressed by Vincent Smith. Eliot clearly saw a role of Iran in early Buddhism.

He boldly suggested that the Buddhist paradise Sukhavati may be linked to the Avestan land of Saukavastan.

G. Gnoli reckons that the oldest areas known to the Iranians were Afghanistan and areas to its east[10], which can only be partly true in view of the great antiquity of Jiroft. Like Frye, Gnoli misses that India and Iran were once interlinked.

A corollary of Gnoli’s claim is that the Avesta is related not only to the RigVeda but also to Buddhist texts.

G. Azarpay of Berkeley has described a Sasanian silver plate depicting a Buddhist Jataka Tale. The Jatakas are a common cultural heritage of both the Indian and Iranians [called Aryans in ancient times].

Dr. D. B. Spooner’s statement that Gotama and Chandragupta were from Iran[11] created a sensation in 1915. But this was rejected by uninformed Jonesian writers.

In this context it is crucial to note that the linking of Gotama with Eastern India was a forgery with no archaeological basis.

Once Gotama, whose title was Sakya, is de-linked from the East, he turns out to be the same as Gaumata[12] of Sakyavati (Sikayavatish) mentioned in the Behistun record.

Even with detailed descriptions of Kapilavastu, the Buddha's far off Sakyan birthplace, its location remains uncertain: Nepal wants to be on the Buddhist tourist circuit, whereas Muslims prefer infidels not come to Kuh-i Khwaja in Seistan (WQ).

Fuhrer's Fraud: Epigraphy and Archaeology of India and Nepal
In any sober history it is crucial to eliminate falsification by ancient authors, misjudgment by historians, loss of artifacts due to earthquakes and floods, and most importantly, archaeological fraud.

Prof. Kyle McCarter, an eminent paleographer at Johns Hopkins University, warns of a “forgery hysteria” that has gripped archaeology circles in Israel[13]. But the problem is far more serious in Indian and Nepalese archaeology[14].

Here even artifacts "unearthed" in professional excavations a century ago need scrutiny [15].

Alarmingly Fuhrer, an editor for Epigraphia Indica, went on rampage with numerous archaeological frauds that have destroyed the very basis of Indian archaeology.

Recently, the British scholar T. A. Phelps[16] has boldly exposed Fuhrer's crimes linked to his so-called discovery of Lumbini [the Buddha's alleged birthplace in Eastern India, modern Nepal].

In his official Progress Report as Archaeological Surveyor that year, Fuhrer copied large slabs of text from a report by Buhler on Sanchi inscriptions, transposing both text and inscriptions, almost verbatim, into the report on his own excavations at a completely different site.

Astonishingly, this wholesale and extensive plagiarism appears to have passed completely unnoticed during this period (including, apparently, by Buhler himself, with whom Fuhrer was soon afterwards in correspondence).

He also -- and more ominously, perhaps, in the light of later events -- fraudulently incised a Brahmi inscription on to a stone statue in the Lucknow Museum at this time, an event which also passed unnoticed.

Phelps rightly suspects that Fuhrer's crimes were exploited by the British Imperialists for subverting history. More>>



Abhidhamma: Free Live Online Seminar

The Abhidhamma is the Buddha's "Higher Teachings" addressing ultimate truths.
  • What: Live, Two-Way Online Seminar
  • When: Once a month, beginning at the end of January, 2011
  • Languages: one class in English, one in Chinese (specify)
  • Instructor: Sayalay Susila is an accomplished Theravada Buddhist nun, Vipassana (Insight) meditation instructor, and graduate of the University of Science in Malaysia. Sayalay practiced under the renowned Burmese meditation master Sayadaw U. Pandita. Thereafter, she undertook a course of study with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw at Pa Auk Forest Monastery focusing on Serenity and Insight practices as well as Abhidharma, Sutra, and Pali studies. She is well known for her clear and lucid Abhidhamma teaching and its application to dailly life, having taught in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, as well as in Buddhist Centers across Canada, the United States, and Australia. Her talks and Powerpoint presentations are widely praised as vivid and precise. She has two books in print, The Nine Attributes of the Buddha (Chinese) and Unraveling the Mysteries of Mind & Body through Abhidhamma (English). She speaks fluent English, Chinese, and Burmese.
  • More information and to register, (860) 869-5350. DETAILS
Only enough registered participants will make this event possible!

Buddhist Himalayas by Train (Tibet-Nepal)

Himalaya Overland: China to Nepal on the Quighai-Lhasa, the highest railway in the world, then onward by land-cruiser to Everest Base Camp (

China begins extension of railway to Nepal
China has started work to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway from Lhasa, Tibet, towards the Nepal border, RSS reported. According to Chinese media, the 157 mile (253 km) long railway project is set to link the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to Xigaze within four years.

Xigaze City is located southwest of Lhasa, which lies at the foot of Mt. Everest (called Chomolongma in Tibetan and Sagarmatha in Nepali) and the border of Nepal. China expects the railway link to help speed up Tibet’s social and economic development.

A railway project that will link Lhasa to the eastern Tibetan city of Nyingchi with another route to the Nepal border are currently in the planning phase.

In October of last year, prime minister Madhav Kumar of Nepal also urged China to extend the Beijing-Lhasa railway line to Kathmandu, keeping in view to develop the economic infrastructure on Himalayan transit points between Nepal and China. Source

Buddha Boy beats locals?

"I took minor action against them after taking them under control when they came to disrupt my meditation. I let them go after they apologized," Republica quotes a second hand source as saying.

Did Buddha Boy really stand up to instigators? Nepal's most famous meditator, Ram Bahadur Bomjon (Palden Dorje), came to international prominence as a teenager in 2005 by fasting (completely abstaining from food and water) in the forest while meditating.

To this day, no reports of the fast being broken have come to the attention of Wisdom Quarterly. Buddha Boy got his name by behaving like Siddhartha, the historical Buddha, who is also thought to have been born in modern Nepal (although this is disputed) when it was a part of greater India. He then meditated for six years to reach enlightenment. Similarly, Buddha Boy has said he needs six years of intense, undisturbed meditation.

Following in Gautama Buddha's footsteps

Bomjon is now being investigated along with his attendants for scuffling with 17 local villagers. Various reports explain that the villagers came to disturb his meditation, provoking him by jumping on his platform and mimmicking him. Other reports point out that the villagers were criticized for engaging in Hindu animal sacrifices at Nepal's 2009 Goddess Gadhimai festival. Buddha Boy took a very unpopular stand in Nepal by condemning the ritual slaughter.

Buddha Boy on animal cruelty

Reports claim Bomjon admitted he and his attendants struck villagers with hands and sticks. His story is that they climbed onto his meditation platform and mimicked him. "I was therefore forced to [slap them two or three times]," a BBC reports him as saying.

Nepal's Republica quotes the president of his support group as claiming that Bomjon had said, "I took minor action against them after taking them under control when they came to disrupt my meditation. I let them go after they apologized."

The villagers -- perhaps hoping to parlay the situation into a monetary settlement or perhaps to discredit the Buddhist Bomjon in a Hindu country -- say they were beaten relentlessly even after they apologized. One man had a head injury that he said resulted from being hit with an axe handle. The villagers, who said they were innocently foraging for fruits and vegetables before they were assaulted, have filed formal complaints with local police.

The Hindustan Times reports that Buddha Boy has let it be known that he cannot be bothered to attend a court hearing. He is, after all, a saddhu (religious mendicant) in a society that still holds such recluses in the highest regard, awe, and even fear.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Stonehenge Boy" found; Buddha Boy Batters?

Stonehenge has existed in various forms for more than 5,000 years. Was it the center of a sun-worshipping culture, an astronomical calendar, a healing site drawing pilgrims from across Europe like a prehistoric version of Lourdes? (

LONDON (AP) — A wealthy young teenager buried near Britain's mysterious Stonehenge monument came from the Mediterranean hundreds of miles away, scientists said Wednesday, proof of the site's international importance as a travel destination in prehistoric times.

Stonehenge Boy, proof of international importance even in prehistoric times (Wessex Archaeology)

The teen — dubbed "The Boy with the Amber Necklace" because he was unearthed with a cluster of amber beads around his neck — is one of several sets of foreign remains found around the ancient ring of imposing stones, whose exact purpose remains unknown.

The British Geological Survey's Jane Evans said that the find, radiocarbon dated to 1,550 B.C., "highlights the diversity of people who came to Stonehenge from across Europe," a statement backed by Bournemouth University's Timothy Darvill, a Stonehenge scholar uninvolved with the discovery.

"The find adds considerable weight to the idea that people traveled long distances to visit Stonehenge, which must therefore have had a big reputation as a cult center," Darvill said in an e-mail Wednesday. "Long distance travel was certainly more common at this time than we generally think." More>>

Buddha Boy Batters Instigators
August, 2010
Nepal's famous Buddha Boy, Ram Bahadur Bomjon (Ven. Palden Dorje) the teenager who fasted while meditating like a modern version of Siddhartha, is now being investigated along with his attendants for allegedly assaulting 17 local villagers. Why? Disturbing his meditation, provoking him, and moreover offering animal sacrifices at the unbelievably cruel Hindu Gadhimai festival. More>>

Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Remove Distracting Thoughts (MN 20)

Siddhartha reached enlightenment by reflecting on the unworthiness of unskillful thoughts. This produces shame-born-of-self-respect (hiri). Considering the danger in such thoughts produces a fear-of-wrongdoing (ottappa), which is born out of respect for others.

Wisdom Quarterly translation (MN 20: Vitakkasanthana Sutra)

JETA'S GROVE, Savatthi (Ancient India) - Thus have I heard. In Anathapindika's Park, the Buddha addressed the monastics: "When pursuing the higher mind [the eight meditative attainments, namely, the eight jhanas] one should give attention to five signs [nimittas, explained in the commentary as the following five strategies]:

"The Legend of Buddha" film directed by S.S. Phalke, artwork by Kingdom Animasia, Manila, animated backgrounds by Chennai artists (

  1. "If when giving attention to some sign, and owing to that sign, there arise unskillful, unwholesome thoughts -- connected with desire, aversion, or delusion -- then instead give attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome and skillful. By turning attention from one to the other then such unskillful, unwholesome thoughts will subside and be abandoned. Just as if a carpenter were to knock out a coarse peg with a new turning from an unwholesome to a wholesome thought, the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated [calm and collected, at ease and purified, appeased and strengthened].
  2. "If although having turned one's attention the mind is still distracted by unskillful, unwholesome thoughts then one should examine the danger in those thoughts: 'Such thoughts, being unwholesome, are reprehensible and result in suffering!' This examination results in their abandonment. Just as if a beautiful youth fond of ornaments were to have the carcass of a snake, dog, or human hung around his or her neck would on that account become horrified, humiliated, and disgusted -- so too with the examination of the danger in unwholesome thoughts: One abandons them, and the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated.
  3. "If when examining the danger, the mind is still distracted by unskillful, unwholesome thoughts, then one should forget those thoughts and not give any attention to them. By doing so such thoughts subside and are abandoned. Then the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated. Just as if one, not wanting to see what had come into view, were to either turn away or shut one's too when one forgets and does not give attention to such thoughts...the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated.
  4. "If when forgetting and not giving attention, the mind is still distracted by unskillful, unwholesome thoughts, then one should [stop the cause of the thought by way of inquiry: tracing the thought to its cause, and that thought to its cause, and so on; this, according to the commentary, is what it means to] still the thought-formation of those thoughts. [As explained by Bhikkhu Bodhi from the commentary, "such inquiry brings about a slackening and eventually the cessation of the flow of unwholesome thought."] It is just as if one walking quickly were to consider, 'Why am I walking quickly? What if I walk slowly?' and by such consideration would walk slowly, or walking slowly might consider, 'Why am I walking slowly? What if I stand still?' and by such consideration would stand still, or standing still might consider, 'Why am I standing still? What if I sit?' and by such consideration would sit, or sitting might consider, 'Why am I sitting? What if I lie down?' and by such consideration might lie down. In each case one would substitute a gross activity for a more subtle one. In the same way, when stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated.
  5. "If when giving attention in this way the mind is still distracted by unskillful, unwholesome thoughts then by clenching one's teeth and pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth, one should overcome, restrain, and suppress [an unwholesome state of] mind with [a wholesome state of] mind. Just as if a strong person were to seize a weaker one by the head or shoulders and thereby overcome and suppress that person so too...the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated.

"When giving attention to some sign and on account of it distracting thoughts arise that are unskillful and unwholesome, one should give attention to a thought connected with what is skillful and wholesome. Thereby the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated. When examining the danger in those thoughts... When forgetting and not giving attention to those thoughts... When stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts... When overcoming them by force...the mind becomes steady, quiet, one-pointed, and concentrated.

"This person is then called a master of the courses of thought. This person will think whatever thought is wished and not think any thought not wished. One has cut off craving, thrown off the fetters, and by completely penetrating conceit has made an end of suffering" [become fully enlightened]. When the Buddha had spoken, the monastics were delighted with the instructions.

  • See also Discourse 20 in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications) by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi.

News of the World: richest people in America

More students delay college for a "gap year"
Taking a year off is catching on with students looking for adventure and to avoid burnout. Less likely to graduate? - Volunteering abroad - Gates hails school movie - DREAM Act dies in Senate

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson shoot up the rankings. Same No. 1 for 17 years - True instant millionaires - Billionaire money habits - Where to stash cash - Five mistakes everyone should make

Two new dinosaur species discovered
Fossils found in the Utah desert include the most ornate-headed dinosaur known to man. And a four-ton, 22-foot beast - Came from lost continent - Treasure trove of fossils

Equinox marked with global celebrations
People around the world ring in the change of seasons with the help of symbolic traditions. Dramatic photos - Effect of season change - Treat for skywatchers - Fall foliage peak

How "unknown" revolt altered U.S. history
A "sharp and bloody firefight" 200 years ago carved out a tiny, independent republic in Louisiana. Its name - Flag's complex history - Lost language unearthed - 200 years of Oktoberfest

City rolls out Yoga Pose parking-ticket ploy
A Massachusetts city hopes Zen-like images will change attitudes, but some drivers aren't pleased. "I don't like it." - Parallel parking tips - Traffic violation etiquette - Calif. city salary scandal

Teen takes blame for Twitter chaos
A 17-year-old Australian admits he exposed a security flaw that led to a massive hacker attack. How he did it - Twitter patches flaw - Most popular on Twitter - Czechs halt "Street View"

Stacks of Hundred Dollar Bills (ThinkStock) Millionaire's gift sparks Web curiosity
An American man leaves a whopping $8 million to an unusual recipient halfway across the world. Why he did it - More about the recipient - Another million-dollar gift - Most endangered list

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dreams that Predict the Future (Jataka 77)

Maitreya ("friend") is the buddha-to-come. But he will not appear until the Dharma has disappeared (when no one is left practicing it) and the ordinary human lifespan has increased to thousands of years (Candletree/Flickr).

Things to Come
Jataka Tales (

King Brahmadatta knelt down before the holy man then sat next to him. He asked, "Your reverence, can you tell me the meanings of my 16 prophetic dreams?"

"Of course I can," said the forest monk. "Tell them to me, beginning with the first eight."

The king replied, "These were the first eight dreams:

"Roaring bulls with no fight, midget trees bearing fruit, cows sucking milk from calves, calves pulling carts with bulls trailing behind, a horse eating with two mouths, a jackal urinating in a golden bowl [pictured above], a she-jackal eating a rope maker's rope, one overflowing pot with all the rest empty."

"Tell me more about your first dream," said the monk.

"Your reverence, I saw four pure black bulls who came from the four directions to fight in the palace courtyard. People came from miles around to see the bulls fight. But they only pretended to fight, roared at each other, and went back where they came from."

"O king," said the holy man, "this dream tells of things that will not happen in your lifetime or in mine. In the far-off future, kings will be unwholesome and stingy. The people too will be unwholesome. Goodness will be decreasing while evil increases. The seasons will be out of whack, with sunstroke on winter days and snow storms on summer days.

"The skies will be dry, with poor clouds and little water. Harvests will be small and people will starve. Then dark clouds will come from the four directions, but even after much thunder and lightning, they will depart without letting rain fall -- just like the roaring bulls who leave without fighting. More>>
  • "The Sixteen Dreams" (Mahasupina Jataka, No. 77)
    One morning, when his brahmin ministers went to the palace to pay their respects to Pasenadi, the king of Kosala and to see how he had slept, they found him lying in terror, unable to get out bed. “How could I sleep?” exclaimed the king. “Just before daybreak I dreamed 16 incredible dreams, and I have been lying here terrified ever since!
  • "The Sixteen Dreams" and Burma: There is a dramatic sequence of paintings hanging in pagoda walkways and monasteries throughout Burma. The story on which these paintings are based is Buddhist but not exclusively Burmese. When one understands the meaning, it becomes obvious why the paintings have become so popular in Burma.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sunday is Pagan Pride Day (Los Angeles)

Food available on site, but picnic lunches are encouraged as are food-drive donations.

Everyone is invited to unite in a free and open marketplace of ideas: On Sunday (Sept. 26, 10 am - 5:30 pm) come learn from Los Angeles and Orange County Pagans as they network and give back to the community. Wiccans will learn about Druids, heathens about shamans, Earth Goddess fans about Gwan Yin Buddhist devotees, atheists about environmentalists -- all as Christians heckle from the sidelines.

  • Rituals different paths with everyone welcome to attend
  • Workshops sharing insights on Rune reading, magick, herbs
  • Authors Pagan-themed books signed and questions answered
  • Entertainment music and merriment to enlighten
  • Vendors herbs, oils, soap, jewelry, clothing, books, crystals
  • Food stalls on site throughout the day
  • Kids color, crafts, storytelling in special area (no day care)

New species of Ape discovered in Asia

Scientists discover new ape species in Asia
BERLIN (AFP) — German scientists said on Tuesday they had discovered a new rare and endangered ape species in the tropical rainforests between Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia by its distinctive song. The new type of crested gibbon, one of the most endangered primate species in the world, is called the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon or Nomascus annamensis, a statement from the German Primate Centre (DPZ) said. "The discovery of a new species of ape is a minor sensation," said Christian Roos from the DPZ. "An analysis of the frequency and tempo of their calls, along with genetic research, show that this is, in fact, a new species." More>>

Ancient temple ruins dot Cambodia (video)

Ancient temple ruins dot Cambodia's countryside

SIEM REAP, Cambodia – Tourists gather every day before dawn to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, a 12th-century Buddhist temple and the grandest legacy of Cambodia's once mighty Khmer empire. Even at 5:00 a.m., the heat and humidity is enough to make the visitors break into a sweat.

More than 1 million people come annually to see the remains of the Khmer temples that dot the sprawling Angkor region, 145 miles (230 km) northwest of the country's capital, Phnom Penh. For Cambodians, the temples are nothing less than a symbol of their nation; an outline of Angkor Wat adorns the national flag.

A nearby temple, Wat Thmei, also includes a reminder of a dark chapter in recent Cambodian history. A memorial stupa houses bones and skulls from the victims of the "killing fields," who were executed by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime [headed by Duch, a Christian convert who was recently convicted of crimes against humanity] that ruled in the late 1970s.

Today, Angkor is a vital contributor to the poor nation's economy, with almost all visitors to the country traveling to the ruins. After a hot day visiting the temples, tourists head to the bars and Western-style air-conditioned restaurants in the nearby town of Siem Reap. Source

Lindsay Lohan back in Jail

BEVERLY HILLS, California – Lindsay Lohan returned to court Friday to face a new judge but a likely familiar result — jail, rehab, or judgment postponed. The troubled starlet has publicly acknowledged failing a court-mandated drug test, which could trigger a 30-day jail sentence. But as with most things involving Lohan's three-year-old court case, the script isn't set. More>>

Amsterdam Buddhist temple burglars caught

AMSTERDAM (CBS6) -- Police arrested two men accused of stealing Buddhist statues, and believed to be connected with other area robberies, from a Buddhist temple Tuesday.

Gerald Skrocki sent photos of the damage, saying eight statues were stolen, two of which were jewel-encrusted and imported from China. He added, "The donation box was broken into and cash taken as well as the theft of an amplifier and speaker system, and copper piping."

Several stolen items have been recovered. But police are continuing to look for a third suspect, Harry Delvalle, who is believed to have fled to the Rochester, NY area. Video

Rock Gardening vs. Crop Circles (Zen)

The largest rock garden in Japan, Koyasan, is located on Mt. Koya behind Kongobuji temple, built by Osaka Castle creator Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Nimarb/Flickr).

What is the point of arranging rocks? Finding the answer depends on where you look -- the outcome or the process. The outcome is just some nicely arranged rocks. But a process generating serenity and contemplation of the Four Great Elements (maha-bhuta), symbolic of peace, that's priceless.

Why do some people trample fields of grain to make crop circles? No doubt some cirlces are hoaxes, and it may have all started as a hoax. But gun-toting farmers are not tolerant of crop damage. It is not surprising that there is something more to it. Zen-curious good aliens (akasha-devas in Buddhist terms) out to send symbolic messages? Sit in awe. Or garden and leave others in awe.

Jade Buddha World Tour (video)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Should Christians practice Yoga? (cartoon)

No, Christians should not practice yoga. Let them be fat and inflexible. What does it matter? Jesus may have been a yogi, a wandering ascetic meditator -- but why should his followers be?

Let them wear stiff gray suits and throat-chakra choking ties; that's what the Church wants. And who are Christians to question Church officials?

If someone is sincerely torn between religion and health, there are now many "Christian Yoga" resources (just like Christian karate classes).

Having done yoga for years, there has rarely been a Hindu anywhere near a mat, even in India. But yoga is for every body, especially any temple calling itself "Flabby-for-the-Lord."

All this is needless controversy and ironically reveals the fact that most American yogis have never done "yoga" -- an eight limbed integral science of health and spirituality. Instead, most of us have had to subsist on a watered down diet of one limb (asanas).

Call it "stretching" or "calesthenics," and don't tell anyone at Bible study. Or just take Pilates. Better yet, pray on it. That's the fundamentalist answer to everything.

The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?
...Yoga seems almost mainstream in America. It was not always so. No one tells the story of yoga in America better than Stefanie Syman, whose recent book, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, is a masterpiece of cultural history.

Syman, an engaging author who is also a fifteen-year devotee of yoga, tells this story well.

Her book actually opens with a scene from this year’s annual White House Easter Egg Roll. President Barack Obama made a few comments and then introduced First Lady Michelle Obama, who said:

“Our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We’ve got yoga, we’ve got dancing, we’ve got storytelling, we’ve got Easter-egg decorating.”

Syman describes the yoga on the White House lawn as “sanitized, sanctioned, and family-friendly,” and she noted the rather amazing fact that a practice once seen as so exotic and even dangerous was now included as an activity sufficiently safe and mainstream for children.

In her words:

"There certainly was no better proof that Americans had assimilated this spiritual discipline. We had turned a technique for God realization that had, at various points in time, enjoined its adherents to reduce their diet to rice, milk, and a few vegetables, fix their minds on a set of, to us, incomprehensible syllables, and self-administer daily enemas (without the benefit of equipment), to name just a few of its prerequisites, into an activity suitable for children.

"Though yoga has no coherent tradition in India, being preserved instead by thousands of gurus and hundreds of lineages, each of which makes a unique claim to authenticity, we had managed to turn it into a singular thing: a way to stay healthy and relaxed."

In her book, Syman tells the fascinating story of how yoga was transformed in the American mind from a foreign and “even heathen” practice into a cultural reality that is widely admired and practiced. More>>