Monday, May 30, 2011

How Many Past Lives Have We Had?

In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi edited by Seven for Wisdom Quarterly

Buddha, Thailand (PhotAsia/,

Without Discoverable Beginnings

(1) Grass and Sticks
The Buddha said: “Disciples, this samsara [literally, "faring on, wandering on" through rebirths] is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on [through the cycle of repeated births and deaths] hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

[The search for such an ultimate beginning is one of the Four Imponderables.* If pondered and pursued it would be useless and lead to derangement. Yet if such a pursuit could succeed, it would nevertheless not lead to dispassion, enlightenment, and liberation from suffering. If it did lead to the end of suffering, the Buddha would have taught it.]

“Suppose, disciples, a man would cut up whatever grass, sticks, branches, and leaves there are in this Jambudipa [the "Rose Apple Land" or Indian subcontinent] and collect them together into a single heap. Having done so, he would put them down, saying for each one: ‘This is my mother, this my mother's mother.’

“The sequence of that man's mothers and grandmothers would not come to an end, yet the grass, sticks, branches, and leaves in this Jambudipa would be used up and exhausted. For what reason? Disciples, it is because this samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“For such a long time, disciples, you have experienced suffering, anguish, and disaster, and swelled up the cemeteries. It is enough to become disenchanted with all formations, enough to become dispassionate toward them, enough to be liberated from them.” (SN 15:1; II 178)

(2) Balls of Clay
Disciples, this samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving. Suppose, disciples, a man would reduce this great Earth to balls of clay the size of jujube kernels and put them down, saying [for each one]: ‘This is my father, this my father's father.’ The sequence of that man's fathers and grandfathers would not come to an end, yet this great Earth would be used up and exhausted.

For what reason? Disciples, it is because this samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

For such a long time, disciples, you have experienced suffering, anguish, and disaster, and swelled up the cemeteries. It is enough to become disenchanted with all formations, enough to become dispassionate toward them, enough to be liberated from them."
(SN 15:2; II 179)

(3) The Mountain
A certain monk approached the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said: "Venerable sir, how long is an aeon?"

"An aeon is long, monk. It is not easy to count it and say it is so many years, or so many hundreds of years, or so many thousands of years, or so many hundreds of thousands of years."

"Then, venerable sir, is it possible to give a simile?"

“It is possible, monk," the Buddha said. "Suppose, monk, there was a great stone mountain a yojana [seven miles] long, a yojana wide, and a yojana high, without cracks or crevices, one solid mass of rock.

At the end of every hundred years a man would stroke it once with a piece of fine silk cloth. That great stone mountain might by his effort be worn away and eliminated, yet one aeon would still not have elapsed! So long is an aeon, monk.

"And of aeons this long, we have wandered through so many aeons, so many hundreds of aeons, so many thousands of aeons, so many hundreds of thousands of aeons. For what reason? It is because, monk, this samsara is without discoverable beginning.... It is enough to be liberated from them." (SN 15:5; II 181-82)

(4) The River Ganges
At Rajagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel's Sanctuary, a certain brahmin approached the Buddha and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and asked: "Master Gotama, how many aeons have elapsed and gone by?"

Ganges at Varanasi, where Buddhism began in the Deer Park at Sarnath

"Brahmin, many aeons have elapsed and gone by. It is not easy to count them and say there are so many aeons, or so many hundreds of aeons, or so many thousands of aeons, or so many hundreds of thousands of aeons."

“But is it possible to give a simile, Master Gotama?”

“It is possible, brahmin,” the Buddha said. “Imagine, brahmin, the grains of sand between the point where the river Ganges originates and the point where it enters the great ocean: It is not easy to count these and say there are so many grains of sand, or so many hundreds of grains, or so many thousands of grains, or so many hundreds of thousands of grains.

“Brahmin, the aeons that have elapsed and gone by are even more numerous than that! It is not easy to count them and say that there are so many aeons, or so many hundreds of aeons, or so many thousands of aeons, or so many hundreds of thousands of aeons.

“For what reason? It is because, brahmin, this samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“For such a long time, brahmin, you have experienced suffering, anguish, and disaster, and swelled up the cemeteries. It is enough to become disenchanted with all formations, enough to become dispassionate toward them, enough to be liberated from them.” (SN 15:8; II 183-84)

(5) Dog on a Leash
“Monks, this samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not able to be discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“There comes a time, disciples, when the great ocean dries up and evaporates and no longer exists. But still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“There comes a time, disciples, when Mt. Sineru, the king of mountains, burns up and perishes and no longer exists. But still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“There comes a time, disciples, when the great Earth burns up and perishes and no longer exists. But still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and bound by craving.

“Suppose, disciples, a dog were tied up on a leash bound to a strong post. It would just keep on running and revolving around that post. So too, the uninstructed ordinary worldling regards
  1. form as self...
  2. feeling as self...
  3. perception as self...
  4. volitional formations as self...
  5. consciousness as self....
“One just keeps running and revolving around form, around feeling, around perception, around volitional formations, around consciousness [the Five Aggregates of Existence].

“As it keeps on running and revolving around them, it is not freed from form, not freed from feeling, not freed from perception, not freed from volitional formations, not freed from consciousness.

“It is not freed from birth, aging, and death; not freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; not freed from suffering, I say.” (SN 22:99; II 149-50)

*The Four Imponderables
Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (A.IV.7)
These Four Imponderables are not to be pondered (or speculated about). Anyone who persisted in pondering them would come unhinged and experience vexation:
  1. The sphere of a buddha's influence (the buddha-range of a buddha, i.e., the range of powers a buddha develops as a result of becoming a supremely enlightened teacher)...
  2. The jhana-range of one absorbed in jhana (the range of powers it is possible to develop based on the eight meditative absorptions]...
  3. The results (or working out) of karma...
  4. The [first cause, moment, purpose, etc., of the] universe...

Rebirth: Wandering Without End

Bhikkhu Bodhi and Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)

The Buddha's teaching addresses something not immediately perceptible to us: our bondage to the Round of Rebirths.

From the selection of texts on similes regarding the boundless series of rebirths that has been cycling without any discernible beginning in time comes a frightening possibility.

This cycle is called samsara, a Pali/Sanskrit word that suggests the idea of directionless wandering or faring on. No matter how far back in time we may seek a beginning to the universe, there was never a moment of initial creation.

There are, however, periodic "creations" or, more correctly speaking, "impersonal formations" at the beginning of each world-system.

There was no creator; they simply follow a natural cyclical process of evolution and devolution. At times these world-systems are referred to as universes within a multiverse.

But if we reserve the term "universe" to everything in the entire cosmos inclusive of all the countless world-systems, there is no beginning to be found. World-systems last a great aeon (maha-kalpa) passing through four incalculable or uncertain phases: formation, duration, contraction, and an empty time.

This period of calm is followed by yet another formation, another revolution, which may be thought of as a Big Bang. But a Big Bang in no way explains the actual first cause or creation of the universe ("all that is") only another round of development, operation, chaotic dissolution, and quiescence.

Similarly, just as world-systems evolve and dissolve over billions of years, each different but each arising from the former, the same goes for individual rebirths. Each past and future life is a point along an ever-changing line of identity and attachment, the sense that a single entity is carrying on. Aggregates of clinging recur through countless deaths and rebirths.

As in the former case so in the latter, there is no beginning point to be found. Moreover, there would be no benefit to finding one if it became possible to find. For knowing it would not bring about the end of suffering (nirvana).

No matter how far back we may trace any given individual sequence of lives, we can never arrive at a first point.

How long will the Round of Rebirth last?
According to these texts (given in full In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha), even if we were to trace the sequence of our mothers and fathers across world-systems, we would only come upon still more mothers and fathers stretching back into the far horizons.

Moreover, the frightening prospect is that the process is not only beginningless, it is also potentially endless! This may not seem frightful to anyone who does not see suffering -- or grasp the Four Noble Truths even intellectually -- and the potential for far greater suffering due to karma produced in ignorance driven by craving.

As long as ignorance and craving remain intact, the process will continue indefinitely into the future.

For the Buddha and Early Buddhism, this is above all the defining crisis at the heart of the our condition: We are bound to a chain of rebirths, and bound to it by nothing other than our own ignorance and craving.

The pointless wandering on in samsara -- suffering as we chase pleasure, enduring happiness, and security where it cannot be found -- occurs against a cosmic background of inconceivably vast dimensions.

The period of time that it takes for a world system to evolve, reach its phase of maximum expansion, then contract, and disintegrate is called a kappa (Sanskrit, kalpa) or aeon.

The texts offer vivid similes to suggest the duration of the various types of aeons; others offer vivid similes to illustrate the incalculable number of aeons through which we have already wandered interacting in all kinds of relationships with one another.

As beings fare along, wandering and roaming from life to life, shrouded in the darkness of ignorance over what is going on or what is causing the unsatifactoriness and rebirths, they fall again and again into the chasm of birth, aging, sickness, and death.

They fall again and again into the chasm of incomprehensibly woeful realms in the unfortunate destinations -- the worlds of animals, ghosts, monsters, and hellions.

Because their craving propels them forward in a relentless quest for gratification of sensual desires, ambitions, and running from pain, they seldom pause long enough to step back and carefully consider their existential plight.

As Text 1,4(5) states, they just just keep revolving around the Five Aggregates in the way a dog on a leash might run around a post or pillar. Since their ignorance prevents them from recognizing the vicious nature of their condition, they cannot discern even the tracks of a path to deliverance.

Most beings live immersed in the enjoyment of or the search for sensual pleasures. Others -- driven by the need for power, status, and esteem -- pass their lives in vain attempts to fill an unquenchable thirst.

Many, fearful of annihilation at death, construct belief systems that ascribe to their individual selves, their "souls," the prospect of eternal life. They do not perceive that this constructed "self" is perishing at every moment, changing, altering, and hurtling towards destruction.

A few yearn for a path to liberation. But they do not know where to find one. It was precisely to offer such a path that the Buddha has appeared in our midst. Buddhism originally was precisely a path-of-practice to the end of suffering.

Germany to close all nuclear power plants!

Reuters, May 30, 2011

Banner says "ATOMIC POWER, NO THANKS." Demonstrators protest in front of Biblis nuclear power plant on March 20. In the wake of the Fukushina disaster, Germany plans to abandon nuclear energy (Reuters/Ralph Orlowski).

Germany will move out of nuclear power, keeping shut eight suspended reactors and closing the rest by 2022 in response to Japan's Fukushima disaster and following after a dramatic policy reversal by the coalition government at the weekend.

The decision, which came amid mass demonstrations against nuclear power, must be legally validated in parliament and could face strong opposition from utility companies.

Below is a list of the country's seven oldest reactors which were suspended after the Fukushima incident and an eighth, Vattenfall's Kruemmel, which was shut for other reasons. These were going to be shut until at least mid-June for safety reviews and now will probably never restart. More

BBQ Day: Buddhism & Vegetarianism

Soul Curry Magazine (2008), Wisdom Quarterly update (Memorial Day, 2011)

In Buddhism, views on vegetarianism vary from school to school. In the schools of the Theravada and Vajrayana, the act of eating meat is not always prohibited; the larger Mahayana school recommends a vegetarian diet.

This recommendation is based on the firm insistence by the Buddha, in certain Mahayana sutras, that his followers should not eat meat or fish. [Eating often entails that someone kill, which is always condemned as harmful and bearing unwelcome results for all involved when such deeds ripen and their result is met with, which is often quite some time later.]

Interestingly, the accepted legend of the Buddha’s premature passing says that he became sick after accepting an offering of tainted meat from his host Cunda the Blacksmith while traveling. (Some say pork possibly infected with trichinosis although -- as Wisdom Quarterly has gone to pains to clarify -- it was more likely food delightful to pigs, namely, tender but poisonous mushrooms).

Buddha with chief male disciples in Borobudur, Java, Indonesia on Vesak 2011 or 2555 Buddhist Era (PWBaker/Flickr).

The meaning of the relevant word to describe this tainted "food" is however contested: Mamsa is not the usual term for meat. The food was sukara-maddava, which translates as "pig’s delight" and has been interpreted as meaning a kind of truffle, or mushroom delicacy, favored by pigs.

There is a divergence of views within Buddhism as to whether vegetarianism is necessary, with some schools of Buddhism rejecting it as an absolute requirement.

The first precept in Buddhism is usually translated as: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking life. Some Buddhists see this as implying that Buddhists should not eat meat (which almost always entails someone taking the life of a living being for the purpose of someone eating it, except in the case of eating roadkill or old animals that die of natural causes). Others argue that this is not necessarily the case.

Some Buddhists strongly oppose meat-eating on the basis of implicit scriptural injunctions against flesh-eating, issuing from the Buddha himself.

"Vegan" means not using any animal products and, done correctly, is the cleanest and healthiest diet of all.

In the Sukhamala Sutra (AN 3.38), the Buddha describes his family as being wealthy enough to provide non-vegetarian meals even to the servants. After becoming the Buddha, he accepted any food offered with respect as alms, including meat, which in India was very unlikely to be offered to a spiritual seeker.

But there is no reference to him ever eating meat during his seven years as an ascetic striving for enlightenment.

On one occasion, according to the texts, a general sent a servant to purchase meat specifically to offer it as a meal for the Buddha. The Buddha declined, declaring that meat should not be eaten under three circumstances:
  • when one has (1) seen, (2) heard, or (3) suspects that a living being was purposely slaughtered for one to eat, it is not to be eaten. [To eat such flesh, some explain, would be to condone or implicitly approve of killing.]
[The Buddha:] "Jivaka, these are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten. Jivaka, I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for one to eat."

This was laid down as an explicit rule for monastics. The question is, Who are animals in supermarkets killed for? They are killed for the purchaser/consumer, and that is not determined until one buys or consumes the slaughtered and butchered flesh.

But many lay Buddhists, particularly in the Theravada tradition, argue: "Those animals are not killed for anyone. They're just being killed. They're just there. I come by and I buy them." For whom are animals killed the next day, for certainly the butcher would stop killing if no one bought the flesh? When one person hires another person to kill someone (an animal in this case), two are guilty of one murder -- and the one who hired the other is more guilty than the killer.

Valuing life, wise and agnostic Einstein was a vegetarian.

In this particular sutra, the Buddha instructs a monk or nun to accept, without any discrimination, whatever food is offered as alms with goodwill, including meat. One would not, however, consume it.

In the Vanijja Sutra, the Buddha declares that the meat trade (ranching, butchering, dealing in meat) is a wrong means of livelihood: "Monks, lay followers should not engage in five types of business: (1) trade in weapons, (2) trade in human beings, (3) trade in meat, (4) trade in intoxicants, or (5) trade in poisons [such as pesticides]. These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."

In the Nirvana sutra, a Mahayana scripture purporting to give the Buddha’s final teachings, he insists that his followers should not eat any kind of meat or fish. Even vegetarian food that has touched meat should be washed before being eaten. Also it is not permissible for a Buddhist monastic to pick out the non-meat portions of a meal and leave the rest; the whole meat-tainted meal must be rejected.

Eating meat versus killing
Life is destroyed when farmers plough the ground or when food or, during cooking, when insects are caught in the fire. Consequently, some ascetic Jain sources advocate avoidance of activities that are seen to have a more direct connection to killing, including all farming and eating of food, meat, and root vegetables, which results in indirect destruction of animal and plant life. Some "enlightened" Jain monastics, most of whom are nuns, go so far as to practice "self-termination" by self-starvation.

But in Buddhism, it is recognized that existence, by nature, is the cause of direct or indirect suffering and death (samsara). One should certainly avoid gluttony and greedy consumption, which harms oneself and others, while maintaining the healthiest diet and lifestyle possible.

What is most important is leading a life conducive to attaining enlightenment or making the most good karma, which benefits one for a long, long time in the course of endless rebirths.

In the Pali canon, which all Buddhist schools generally consider to be authentic, the Buddha, when asked, refused to institute vegetarianism as an absolute monastic code. [He refused because it was proposed by a scandalous monk, Devadatta (the Buddhist Judas figure), seeking to create a schism in the monastic community by claiming greater purity than the Buddha offered. The Buddha may have had another motive to reject such a strict injunction: His followers would have already known that meat-eating is not wholesome or healthy or generally practiced by spiritual seekers, and to have prohibited would have limited the universal appeal of the Dharma, which is about a lot more than diet.]

Mahayana Buddhism argues that if one pursues the path of the bodhisattva [someone vowing to become a buddha rather than an arhat], one should avoid meat-eating to cultivate compassion for all living beings who suffer and out of compassion for one's own health.

Similarly, in the older Theravada Buddhist school, avoiding meat-eating for the purpose of cultivation of loving-kindness (metta) is also seen to be in accord with the Buddha-Dharma.

In most Buddhist schools, one may adopt vegetarianism if one wishes, but it is never considered appropriate to attack or berate someone else for eating meat.

In Chinese Mahayana, vegetarianism is seen as a prerequisite for pursuing the grand path of the bodhisattva. In this case, one is not simply intent on gaining enlightenment and liberation but on making sure others are freed.

This means one must first become a buddha to actually help "save" them. But long before one helps save them in an ultimate sense (by reaching enlightenment and nirvana), one can help by easing their suffering.

The case for vegetarianism is made more forcefully, often to the extent of accusing those who willfully or carelessly eat meat as lacking compassion.

Chinese Mahayanists do not accept the Pali sutras as definitive when they conflict with later Mahayana sutras [which were not the work of the historical Buddha but people]. Consequently, some do not accept that Gautama Buddha ever ate meat or permitted eating it. This is in accordance with the famous Mahayana Lankavatara sutra.

In the Pali canon, however, the Buddha declared that monastics living on alms accepting meat without preference and without asking or hinting that they want it is karma neutral for them. It is not karma neutral for those who kill or offer animal flesh they paid someone else to kill.

Shakyamuni Buddha Tibetan-style (

As stated, the Buddha explicitly refused to institute vegetarianism in the monastic order. Theravada commentaries explain that the Buddha was making a distinction between the direct destruction of life and eating of already dead meat. Moreover, they point out that cultivation of vegetables also involves proxy killing.

In fact, any act of buying or consuming can be to some extent a cause of some degree of proxy killing [as when a henchman-butcher kills because a Godfather pays him to. One does not kill directly but pays a butcher to kill, and both take on unprofitable karma as a result. When it comes to fruition, which may be in that life, the next life, or in any future life even thousands of years later, both suffer severely. So it is said one should neither kill nor encourage others to kill, neither break the Five Precepts nor encourage anyone to break them].

The Buddha advised his followers to avoid gluttony [a kind of kamesu-micchacara or harmful indulgence of the senses epitomized by sexual misconduct], or any other act of craving which leads to over consumption and harm to others. Meat-eating is a terrible thing for environmental reasons that go beyond the murder of animals and the ruin of ranchers, butchers, and flesh traders.

Certain Mahayana sutras do present the Buddha as very vigorously and unreservedly denouncing the eating of meat, mainly on the grounds that such an act is linked to the spreading of fear among sentient beings. (Allegedly, living animals and spirits sense the odor of death that lingers about the meat-eater and consequently fear for their own lives. Flesh-eating is a common practice of ogres or yakkhas, starving scavenger ghosts or pretas, nagas or cruel reptilians, not humans). Eating flesh violates the bodhisattva’s fundamental vow to cultivate universal compassion.

Moreover according to the Buddha, in the Angulimaliya Sutra, since all beings share the same dhatu (elemental, spiritual principle, or essence) and are intimately related to one another, killing and eating other sentient creatures is tantamount to a form of self-killing and cannibalism.

The [Mahayana] sutras which inveigh against meat-eating include the Nirvana sutra, the Shurangama sutra, the Brahmajala sutra, the Angulimaliya sutra, the Mahamegha sutra, and the Lankavatara sutra, as well as the Buddha’s comments on the negative karmic effects of meat consumption in the Karma sutra.

In the Mahayana version of the "Great Nirvana discourse" (Mahaparinirvana sutra), which presents itself as the final elucidating and definitive Mahayana teachings of the Buddha on the very eve of his final passing. There the Buddha states that "the eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great kindness," adding that all and every kind of meat and fish consumption (even of animals found already dead of natural causes) is prohibited by him.

He specifically rejects the idea that monastics who go out for alms and receive meat as charity from a donor should eat it: “it should be rejected... I say that even meat, fish, wild game, dried hooves, and scraps of meat left over by others constitutes an infraction... I teach the harm arising from meat-eating.”

The Buddha also predicts in this sutra that later monastics will "hold spurious writings to be the authentic Dharma" and will concoct their own sutras and falsely claim that the Buddha allows the eating of meat, but he does not.

A long passage in the Lankavatara sutra shows the Buddha speaking out very forcefully against meat consumption, unequivocally in favor of vegetarianism, since the eating of the flesh of fellow sentient beings is said by him to be incompatible with the compassion that a bodhisattva should be striving to cultivate.

In several other Mahayana scriptures (e.g., the Mahayana Rebirth Tale or Jatakas), the Buddha is seen clearly to indicate that meat-eating is undesirable and karmically unwholesome.

In Tibetan Buddhism, a strong emphasis was placed on the number of esoteric sutras that were transmitted from Northern India. In these sutras, it is clearly stated that the practice of Vajrayana [Tibetan Mahayana, the lightning vehicle] would make vegetarianism unnecessary.

A number of tantric texts frequently recommend alcohol and meat, though not all take such passages literally. Many traditions of the Ganachakra, which is a type of Pancha-makara Puja [Five M's Ritual: meat is mas, fish is matsaya, wine is mada, sex is matihun, and shunning bad company is mudra] prescribe the offering and ingestion of meat and alcohol.

Buddhist views today
In the modern world, attitudes toward vegetarianism vary by location. In Theravada countries of Southeast Asia and the island of Sri Lanka, monastics are allowed by the Disciplinary Rules (vinaya) to accept almost any food that is offered to them including cooked meat -- unless they suspect that animal corpse was slaughtered specifically for them. (There are prohibited animals, such as tigers and bears and elephants, and prohibitions against accepting uncooked foods, along with other minor rules that are interpreted differently).

In China, Korea, and Vietnam, monastics are expected to give up meat-eating. In Taiwan, Buddhist monks, nuns, and most lay followers eat no animal products or fetid (strong smelling) vegetables -- traditionally garlic, asafoetida, shallots, leeks, and mountain onions -- although in modern times this rule is often interpreted to include other vegetables of the onion genus as well as coriander.

This is called Su vegetarianism. In Japan, some clergy practice vegetarianism, and most will do so at least when training at a monastery. But otherwise they typically do eat meat. In Tibet, where vegetables have historically been very scarce, the adopted Disciplinary Rules come from the defunct Sarvastivada school, vegetarianism is very rare.

But the Dalai Lama and other esteemed lamas invite their audiences to adopt vegetarianism when they can. Chatral Rinpoche in particular has stated that anyone who wishes to be his student must be vegetarian.

In the end, what can be collectively said is that it should be left to the sensibilities, aesthetics, environment, and thinking of the individual. Karma means one is responsible for one's own actions and choices. So readers should use their own conscience as a guide and do what they wish to do.

The attempt of and Wisdom Quarterly is to provide information in general and specifically from a Buddhist perspective.

"Memorial Day" explained

Connect the Dots (Pacifica Radio,, Memorial Day 2011, Monday 7:00 - 8:00 am

KPFK Pacifica Southern California Radio
I long to wake up on Memorial Day to find our country at peace with the world. Instead of mourning the young men and women who think they died fighting to protect their country, let us mourn the truth.

Let us mourn the fact that most of the time our beautiful youth died to keep our permanent war economy alive. They died for what Eisenhower referred to as the "military-industrial complex." They died for the power and profit of strangers.

Had they thought of the expression “die for your country” as a public relations con job would they have risked their lives in such massive numbers? Of course not. But profiteers and presidents are so good at selling war… and most of us are so bad at knowing when we’re being manipulated.

It hurts us to recognize that practically since its inception our country has been in a state of perpetual war. This is a cause, not for celebration but for shame.

Listeners feel I’m being disrespectful of our fallen perhaps? Am I not taking into consideration the sacrifice, the“glory” of Memorial Day? Perhaps this should be a day of prayer and religious rituals? Very well. How about this?
No one knows for sure of course, but let’s say God actually is an old guy with a white beard.

And he stood on top of a mountain holding out his arms like Charlton Heston. He had the attention of millions of armed service men and women below him about to be shipped off to war.

What would he say? I don’t know about your God, but my God would roar:

“Stop! You think you’re going off to save Democracy, to protect your country, to create freedom and equality? Know that you are going to protect the oil companies and the drone makers, Halliburton, Blackwater, Bechtel, General Electric, corporate America and the military. More
CONNECT THE DOTS w/ Lila Garrett (&<span class=

Will 2012 change our DNA?


Sexed, Stressed, and Sick (addictions)


For Memorial Day Democracy Now! presented special programming combining the amazing contributions to understanding the root of diseases many think are genetic. He also exposes the complicity of the pharmaceutical industry: Americans, who comprise only 5% of the world's population, are prescribed 66% of the world's psychoactive medications such as Prozac.

Sex addiction is one of the main compulsions in America today, largely stemming from our traumatic childhoods, exposure to ubiquitous porn, our craving for comfort, and religious oppression. (Image: a scene from "Choke,"

They are actually due to childhood trauma, diet, and stress. Canadian physician, disease and addiction expert, and bestselling author Dr. Gabor Maté presents his findings together on one program.

The screen, the screen, we're as addicted to our screens as children are to candy.

This includes his groundbreaking Buddhist work In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction on sex, computer screen, workaholism, drug, excitement, and fast food cravings, which drive feel good brain chemicals.

Internet porn, masturbation, adultery, alcoholism, "acting out," what's at the root of our compulsive/self-soothing behaviors?

From disease to addiction, parenting to childhood ADD (attention deficit disorder), Dr. Maté’s work focuses on the centrality of early childhood experiences on the development of the brain and susceptibility to a wide array of "incurable" diseases and addictions.

Early childhood experiences such as being sexually mole

sted or emotionally traumatized impact everything from behavioral patterns to physical and mental illness. The relationship between emotional stress and disease -- and mental and physical health more broadly -- is often considered controversial within medical orthodoxy.

But Dr. Maté convincingly argues that many doctors seem to have forgotten what was once a commonplace assumption -- that emotions are deeply implicated in the development of illness, addictions, and psychological disorders and, more importantly, in their healing.

Free-floating planets found in the Milky Way

Alok Jha, Science correspondent (
Artist's impression of free floating planet (Illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt)

Astronomers discover 10 more free-floating planets in Milky Way
The planets, found by an international group of researchers, do not orbit any star.

Astronomers have found a clutch of planets that wander alone through interstellar space. The discovery of the objects, which do not orbit any star, will help scientists better understand how planetary systems form and evolve.

See lyrics below

The 10 free-floating planets are thousands of light years in the direction of the central bulge of the Milky Way, towards the constellation of Sagittarius. Their masses and compositions are thought to be equivalent to Jupiter and Saturn -- mainly hydrogen and helium with trace amounts of heavier elements.

"We expect that they were formed around stars and then, during the later stages of planet formation, they get ejected, primarily due to interactions with other planets," said Daniel Bennett, an astronomer at the University of Notre Dame. His team's results were published on Wednesday in Nature. More than 500 exoplanets have been detected in just over a decade of hunting by scientists... More

Literal Buddhist "Heavens" (celestial worlds)

Buddhist "heavens" include life on advanced planets and star systems. The various planes of existence in Buddhist cosmology are celestial spheres -- delineated in measurements. Our tendency is to imagine dimensions and immaterial worlds. But the vast majority of worlds are in fine-material planes where the beings enjoy long life, beauty, radiance (streaming glory), vitality, and few of the limits that hinder human beings. None of those worlds is permanent; all of them fall away, but they last a long time.

The Buddha recommended that monastics become wandering recluses. It was crucial to break the bonds of familial and clan affiliations, provincialism, short-sightedness, and a person's "story" to understand the bigger world with its many ways of being. When the Sangha became more settled, monastics lost this advantage to breaking through the illusion of stability, ease, and personal identity.

Brahmin priests were settled, attached to name and fame, clinging to status and honors. Shramans (wandering ascetics) were originally as free as deer roaming about with robe and bowl and karma as their only support. Today, outsiders have a great advantage. If one feels isolated or misunderstood, one has the opportunity to break through the illusion often besetting more settled and attached members of society.

Beth Gibbons of the band Portishead seems perfectly aware of this two-edged sword that can either build character or deeply wound the spirit:

Please could you stay awhile to share my grief
For its such a lovely day
To have to always feel this way
And the time that I will suffer less
Is when I never have to wake

Wandering stars for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever
Wandering stars for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever

Those who have seen the needle's eye now tread
Like a husk from which all that was now has fled
And the masks that the monsters wear
To feed upon their prey

Wandering stars for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever
Wandering stars for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever

(Always) doubled up inside
Take awhile to shed my grief
(Always) doubled up inside
Taunted, cruel...

Why yoga classes are mostly female

Jason Ashley Wright (, 5/30/11)

Misconceptions keep classes heavily female, instructors say
Despite the threat of tornadoes and hail, Jerry Lamp made it to yoga. Sirens started blaring by the time he made it out of class, padding barefoot from the studio to a bench at Inner Peace Yoga, 7718 E. 91st St., Tulsa, OK.

"I was in pretty rough shape when I started," Lamp said of himself when he started taking yoga in February 2010. "Blood pressure was through the roof. Just generally unhealthy."

Now, 15 pounds lighter with more muscle tone and greater flexibility, Lamp can't get enough of it. "I feel like a deadbeat if I don't do at least one set in a day," Lamp said. "It just keeps getting better."

Yes, he's heard the stereotypes and misconceptions about yoga that "It's for sissies," said Meghan Donnelly, Inner Peace's owner and instructor, who sat on the bench next to Lamp.

"That's a big misconception, that yoga is not manly," she said while we waited between classes, the next one at 8:30 p.m. with five or six guys in their 40s and 50s.

One who braved the storm was Mark Meese. "I always thought of yoga, before I started doing it, as something for women and little weird East Indian guys," said Meese, a general surgeon with Surgical Associates of Tulsa.

He knew yoga had a stigma. "Real men wouldn't do that," he said.

Funny thing is, men invented yoga, Donnelly said -- in India, as many as 3,000, even 4,000 years ago. It's only been in the past few centuries, maybe even as recently as 100 years, that women have been allowed to practice it in public.

In the 1960s and '70s, when yoga started growing in America, most teachers were male, Donnelly said. Now, most are women. And most of those taking classes are female -- 70 percent of her classes. More

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roswell reveals US human experimentation

Bill Weir is a hack who probably did not read the book. Reader Mike ( says only about 1% of the book speaks of the new Roswell theory, whereas 99% contains other information concerning what went on in Area 51 including the men, atomic bombs, spy planes, and other things, some brought to light for the very first time. Annie Jacobsen did a wonderful job on this book regardless of Weir's dissembling.

ROSWELL, New Mexico (AP) – The world famous Roswell "incident" was no UFO. Rather [the latest deceptive claim is that it was] a Russian spacecraft with "grotesque, child-size aviators" developed in human experiments by infamous Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele, according to a theory floated by investigative journalist [and Area 51 author] Annie Jacobsen. [She is only reporting misinformation from her officially placed anonymous source.]

Is it true Roswell UFO was actually a Russian craft?

July 1947, then German designers of stealth technology the Horton Brothers were hunted down all under the purview and direction of American Nazi sympathizer V. Bush (from the famous Bush dynasty).

Jacobsen's book, Area 51: An Uncensored History Of America’s Top Secret Military Base, is about the secretive Nevada base called Area 51. One chapter offers the new Roswell theory, citing an anonymous source who says Joseph Stalin recruited Mengele and sent the craft into US air space in 1947 to spark public hysteria [as happened during the War of the Worlds radio incident].

Like past theories, Jacobsen writes that the US government was involved in a cover-up of the UFO report, which has spawned space alien legend and turned this southern New Mexico town into a tourist attraction. Bill Lyne, who self-published a book called Space Aliens From The Pentagon in 1993, agrees that the Roswell incident was faked. But he thinks the hoax was perpetrated by the US government -- not the Russians.

Roswell UFOs were originally reported to the media then denied ever after with cover story after cover story as suits the Pentagon and US clandestine services.

"They’re just saying what I’ve been saying all along, that it was a hoax," he told the Santa Fe New Mexican. "But that Mengele stuff is a bunch of hogwash because Mengele was recruited by the CIA (rather than the Russians), and he was actually brought to Albuquerque."

Clifford Clift of the Mutual UFO Network (Mufon) in Greeley, Colorado, said he has not seen Jacobsen’s book but has read other articles that suggest the Roswell incident involved German technology. "After researching the claim, I found little truth in this theory," he said.

"It is a stretch. One of my concerns is if they wanted to create panic, why in New Mexico and not New York where there are more people to panic? I would suggest it is another conspiracy theory and, heavens, Mufon knows about conspiracy theories. They do sell books."

The US recruited Mengele for Human Experimentation
Annie Jacobsen appeared on Coast to Coast on Sunday, May 30, 2011 to discuss her book and facts not revealed by Terri Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air." While the entire story is specious, it led to the revelation that Nazi doctor Mengele was recruited by the US as well as working for Russia. His human experimentation not only involved eugenics but the creation of atrocities from dwarves and others the Nazis regarded as "subhuman." She went on to reveal the existence of DUMBs (deep underground military bases) in the form of tunnels that extend nearly a mile down; she was not able to substantiate the presence of vast bases in the area. However, she concluded that every famous myth is at least rooted in truth.

UFO and Alien Disclosure (video)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

30 Days in (Buddhist) Los Angeles

Wisdom Quarterly
(Sunciti Sundaram/

The City of Angels has far too much for Buddhists to do. May means Buddhist X-mas: The Buddha's birthday, great enlightenment (maha-bodhi), and final nirvana are all celebrated on the full-moon day in May.

200 Buddhist monks and nuns from 11 and culturally unique Buddhist countries assembled on the full-moon night of May 17th at Dhammakaya Los Angeles (universal Thai tradition) in Azusa to celebrate 2011 Vesak 2011, 2454 Buddhist Era (WQ).

With a growing number of Buddhist temples and communities, it is being celebrated in various cultural traditions throughout the month. (The Mahayana school celebrates the days over the year, but the older Theravada follows references in the sutras that point out the coincidence).

Brahma Vihara temple, Myanmar Progressive Buddhist Society, Azusa, Los Angeles (WQ)

From May Day to Mother's Day to Labor Day, May is already busy on the American calendar. Add Asian American celebrations from Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Indian, Indonesian, Laotian, Sri Lankan, and Thai communities (Theravada) to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese (Mahayana/Zen) communities to Bhutanese, Nepalese, and Tibetan (Vajrayana) communities, Los Angeles is awash in saffron, yellow, red, white, and, blue.

System of a Down storm L.A. Forum with socially conscious message, May 24, 2011 (WQ)

Then there are the ordinary spiritual events that fill the week, protests, concerts (System of a Down), and pretty soon there's hardly time for work, family, and TV. The last Saturday in May marks the last two Vesak/2600th Buddha Festival celebrations in the Los Angeles area.

2011 Buddha Day Festival (Buddha Purnima) on Saturday, May 28, California Bodhi Vihara, Long Beach, which included Cambodian and Thai dancers, Korean Mahayana Buddhist nuns, monks from many countries, food, and festivities (WQ).
  • The California Bodhi Vihara (Indian Theravada from Chittagong, Bangladesh) is holding its opening ceremony in Long Beach with monks from many traditions, a Bodhi tree planting, exotic Thai and Cambodian dancers, and food galore.
  • Orange County's Sri Lankan community will close out the month with a 1,000 person strong showing at 6:30 pm in the relatively new Anaheim temple.

Shavo and John from System of a Down (SOAD) visit Los Angeles radio station KROQ FM