Saturday, 31 March 2007

Buddhist Lent Rains Retreat Begins

Buddhist Lent Rains Retreat Begins Image
Buddhist monks on "Asanha Puja" Day, the eve of Buddhist Lent, in Nakhon Pathom province, outerBangkok, 7-26-10

VASSA (the annual Rains Retreat) is observed as it has been from the time of the Buddha. The rainy season in northern India led to the institution of a monastic rule to go into retreat for intensive practice. Buddhist recluses were originally "wandering ascetics" ("samanas"). But the rainy season meant a burst of new life -- crops, amphibians, insects, and sprouts all covered the land -- all of which would be harmed if wanderers were to tread on them.

So like other ascetic traditions of his day, the Buddha responded to requests to have his disciples take up temporary residence in one location rather than wandering about. This period is utilized for intensive meditation practice, study, and teaching. Lay Buddhists visit temples and abbeys to practice as well, sometimes adopting Eight Precepts for the day.This tradition is observed throughout Los Angeles and other ethnically diverse cities with THERAVADA temples. The Los Angeles Buddhist "Vihara" (a Sri Lankan monastery) in Pasadena has weekly Dharma sermons, free meals ("dana"), and meditation instruction for visitors. These are all echoes of a much more vibrant living tradition in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and other Buddhist countries that keep the original Indian ideal going.

There it is a big deal that monks will be taking up residence. A special ceremony was held in each American Theravada temple this past weekend (in accordance with the lunar calendar) "inviting" monks to observe the Rains Retreat for the next three months. The Dhammakaya Thai Buddhist temple also temporarily ordained men wishing to observe "Vassa" as monastics.

* The connections to be drawn with LENT are no coincidence. Customary acts of self-purification, for example ALMSGIVING and fasting, in Christianity were directly borrowed from Eastern practices.

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Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Wonderlane Amazing Buddhist Journey

Wonderlane Amazing Buddhist Journey Image
Statue of the Buddha in the Earth touching mudra" ("Bhumisparsha"), the most beautiful in the world

The Buddhist photographer WONDERLANE ( plans to attend a third Kalachakra in Washington D.C. in July of 2011 with a plan to honor a commitment to practice.


Alexander Berzin ( the Manjushri Root Tantra, the Buddha is said to have prophesied that a Sakya Monastery would cause his teachings to flourish in the Land of Snows [Tibetan plateau]. It is said the site of this monastery was also prophesied by Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava. Several "stupas" [burial mounds for the relics of enlightened individuals and revered teachers] had already been built at the monastery's future location, when Atisha (982-1053) stopped there in 1040.

He saw on the mountainside a syllable "Hrih"," seven "Dhih"," and one "Hung" and prophesied that an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, seven of Manjushri, and one of Vajrapani would grace this site. In 1073, Konchog-gyelpo (1034-1102) of the Kon ('Khon) family established the Pelden Sakya Monastery ("gompa") in Tsang province in central Tibet. The monastery, and subsequently the tradition he founded, derived its name from the color of the soil of its location. "Sakya" means literally "gray earth."

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Monday, 26 March 2007

Recollecting The Buddha

Recollecting The Buddha Image
Ven. Chandananda (free weekly meditation and Dharma classes, Tuesdays 7:00-8:30 pm, Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara, Pasadena, CA)

Four Protective Meditations

There are four practices that protect and advance an the individual who undertakes them. These four are: (1) Recollection of the Buddha, (2) loving-kindness, (3) the unattractiveness of the body, and (4) mindfulness of death. The virtuous meditator is wise to cultivate these four protections. An intelligent approach is to first develop the recollection of the Buddha ("buddhanussati") by contemplating the great sage's excellent unbounded qualities:

Recollecting the Buddha

1. Destroyed he alone all the
defilements without a trace
Fully purified was his mental-continuum,
And he was ever worthy of offerings.

2. Having perfectly understood
all temporal phenomena in every way
The sage alone
attained to omniscience.

3. With knowledge born of insight,
with conduct born of virtue,
endowed with accomplishments was he,
as the sun in the sky.

4. He attained th best state.
Never in vain were his words.
Knower in full of the threefold [sensual,
fine material, immaterial
] world was he.

5. By his ocean-like virtue
highest of all beings became he
and with methods diverse
the tameable he tamed.

6. For the entire world he alone,
teacher of all beings became.
The blessed Noble One of qualities supreme
a treasury of all [ten] perfections was he.

7. He was wise in all ways
towards all beings compassionate
For his own and the good of others as well
Further high virtue had he.


In about the 6th century B.C.E., Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family. When he was a young adult his experiences with the outside world drove him to seek out a greater understanding of life and spiritual fulfilment.

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Sunday, 25 March 2007

The Buddha Birthday

The Buddha Birthday Image
Thousands of Taiwanese hold candles during the Taiwan National Buddha's Birthday celebration in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. VESAK (celebrated on or near the full moon day on the Indian calendar's lunar month of "Vesakha") is the historical Buddha's birthday, enlightenment day, and passing into nirvana day. It is celebrated worldwide roughly in May on the Gregorian calendar.

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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Buddhist Religious Days In Thailand

Buddhist Religious Days In Thailand Image
Buddhist customs in THAILAND have been influenced by many Hindu beliefs. The association of a color with each day, for example, is one such custom. It is illustrated by this series of stamps celebrating important Buddhist religious days. Thais attach particular significance to the color of the day on which they were born.

2000: "Asalha-"PUJA Day, Red - Sunday
2001: "Visakha-puja" Day, Yellow - Monday
2002: "Magha-puja" Day, Pink - Tuesday
2003: "Asalha-puja" Day, Green - Wednesday
2004: "Visakha-puja" Day, Orange - Thursday
2005: "Magha-puja" Day, Blue - Friday
2006: "Visakha-puja" Day, Purple - Saturday

"Asalhapuja" Day is the full moon day of the 8th lunar month (the day following the full moon). This day commemorates THE BUDDHA'S FIRST SERMON following his enlightenment. The sermon was given to the FIVE ASCETICS in the forest. The Buddha taught them to follow the "Middle Way" -- to avoid either extreme of sensual indulgence or mortifying asceticism, lust and penance. After this sermon the senior ascetic, A~n~na-KONDA~n~nA, was ordained as the first Buddhist monk. He became the foundation of the Buddhist Monastic Order, the "Sangha.

"Visakhapuja" Day is the full moon day of the 6th lunar month. This day commemorates VESAK (the birth, enlightenment, and NIRVANA-IZATION of the Buddha, all of which occurred on the full moon day of the Indian month of Vesakha). All these events occurred years apart but on the same day: The Buddha was born on this day in 623 BC, attained enlightenment in 588 BC, and died in 543 BC (passed into final nirvana). Of course, the dates are disputed, most famously by DR. PAL.

"Maghapuja" Day is the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month. This SANGHA DAY commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 disciples of the Buddha nine months after his enlightenment. Each of the disciples had been ordained directly by the Buddha. The meeting took place 44 years before the start of the Budddhist Era (587 BC). The Buddha gave a sermon at this meeting, expressing the principal ideas of his teaching and how they apply to everyday life.

On all of these days Thai Buddhists usually give alms to monastics, meditate, and otherwise make merit at temples around the country.

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Thursday, 22 March 2007

Celtic Buddhism In The Secret Of Kells Film

Celtic Buddhism In The Secret Of Kells Film Image
I love this animated feature because it has such strong Buddhist themes. It's pre-Patrick, pre-Catholic, rooting back to the Celtic/Pagan past of Ireland. St. Patrick and the Church are sacrosanct, yet something Gaelic and forest-centered still touches the people. That cannot be taken away by pedophile priests, the Vatican hierarchy, or British oppression. "The Secret of the Kells" gets back to that "deva"-centered, pre-colonization epoch for the Emerald Isle with this timeless story of good (Nature) overcoming evil (our basest instincts). Every person has an inner-child and a little Irish in them, namely, a spirit of goodness that transcends co-opted ideas like Good Friday.

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Monday, 19 March 2007

Invisible History Buddhist Afghanistan

Invisible History Buddhist Afghanistan Image
"Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story "tells the story of how Afghanistan brought the United States [like Russia and England beforehand] to this strange place in time after nearly six decades of American policy in Eurasia. VIDEO: The Story Explained with Pictures

The authors visit San Francisco, Los Angeles

"Afghanistan" is older than America with a complex, multi-ethnic culture, deep roots in mystical [pre-Islamic] Zoroastrian and Sufi traditions. It has played a pivotal role in the rise and fall of empires.

"Invisible History" provides sobering facts and details every American should have known about America's secret war, but were never told. What was the real story behind the propaganda? More

"Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire" focuses on the AfPak strategy and the importance of the Durand/Zero Line. That line is the border separating Pakistan from Afghanistan, referred to by the military and intelligence community as the Zero Line.

The U.S. fought on the side of extremist-political Islam from Pakistan during the 1980s and against it from Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

It is therefore appropriate to think of the Durand/Zero line as the place where America's intentions face themselves -- the alpha and omega of nearly 60 years of American policy in EURASIA. The Durand Line is visible on a map. The Zero Line is not.

by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

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