http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... September 30, 2003


In This Issue:

1. The Monk and the Alligator ...by Crispin Day
2. Anchorage Woman Prepares to Enter the Priesthood SHIN BUDDHIST:
3. Voice from a Thai girl ...Buddhist ordination
...Sawasdee Kha
4. Ordination of Buddhist women
5. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
Mahabodhi Institute
6. Book/Movie Review: Kosmic Consciousness ...by Ken Wilber


1. The Monk and the Alligator ...by Crispin Day


Like some high school football star, Spirituality is hip and gaining popularity in the halls of American society.  Unfortunately, the nature of popularity dictates that whatever is good must be hyped, spun, re-produced, mass-marketed, and that you must sell the shit out of it.  If it is so cool, we all want a piece of it.  Why we all voted for nice-guy quarterback Dirk Reader to be class president I will never know. He didn’t do his last name any justice.  Maybe we thought that by affirming him he would come to our parties and give us tips on what “cool” was.

When it comes to popularity, by the time that "something good" undergoes all the rigors of mass-production, replication, and marketing, so that everyone can have some, it usually loses meaning, and becomes worthless, empty, stupid, and hardly resembles what it began as.

Allow me to illustrate with a parable:

Joe plays guitar.  He hates the music industry and all the greed and consumerism that are rampant in it.  So he says, "Screw 'em," and he picks up his guitar and plays his music in local dives.  He sings about how rotten greed and consumerism are.

Before long, he has a cult following.  Swarms of kids are singing along about how rotten greed and consumerism are. They take it to the streets.  They start telling all their friends about Joe.  A year or two later Joe gets "discovered" and goes on to become a big rock star.

While Joe sells millions of units at Wal-Mart’s worldwide, his songs still “ring true,” packed with references to the rottenness of greed and consumerism.  

All the kids wear over-priced T-shirts and visit Joe’s official banner-filled web site that says greed and consumerism are rotten.  Joe does interviews to promote his next album, and he is always sure to tell everyone how rotten greed and consumerism are.  

You get the point.

Cross reference the hipness of spirituality.  From MTV to MIT, spirituality has gained uncanny legitimacy in our culture.  Even atheists claim be intensely spiritual people. 

Alannis Morriset and other celebs are not the only ones who can throw the word "spirituality" around.  Doctors and scientists in so-called "rationalistic" fields are declaring more and more often that "spirituality" is a matter of great importance.

So what's the deal?  Are people genuinely committed to seeking "truth" (or nothingness) at all costs?  Has humanity begun to care?  Are we taking another stab at the age old questions:  What are we doing here?  What is the meaning of life?

Well, let's put it this way:  If someone buys a mass produced T-shirt made in Indonesia that says "Corporate greed sucks!", does it still mean something?  Probably.  But it sure as hell is a half-hearted effort. 

And so it seems to be with popular spirituality.

I'll even offer myself up as a negative example:  

Over the last couple years, I have found Buddhism to be more and more alluring.  But is it fashion or substance?  Is it because I know the first thing about Buddhism?

The reality is, my attraction to Buddhism has little or nothing to do with what Buddhists actually believe and adhere to.

1.  I like Buddhism because I watched "Seven Years in Tibet" and I thought the Dalai Lama was cool, and I thought the way the Chinese communist government treated the Tibetan Buddhists sucked. 

2.  I like Buddhism because I think the architecture on Buddhist temples in the Eastern hemisphere is funky and cool. 

3. I like Buddhism because I think the red robes and bald heads of the monks look dope. 

4.  I like Buddhism because hearing monks chant "ohm" on TV is better than most live rock shows I've seen. 

5.  I like Buddhism because I didn't grow up with it and it is mysterious and different and appealing. 

6.  I like Buddhism because the Beastie Boys like Buddhism and I like the Beastie Boys.

Sure I can read a couple of school books and act like I know something.  Sure I can memorize the eight-fold path and learn to say things like, "All life is suffering."  But does that make me a Buddhist? 

Whether it does or doesn't, the premise remains empty.  I want to be a Buddhist because I want a funky red robe NOT because I think Buddhism is true or right or better or even inherently good.

Incidentally, Buddhism became less cool to me when I read that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys quit snowboarding as part of his renunciation.  Unfortunately, I like snowboarding even more than I like the Beastie Boys.  And so ended my fascination with Buddhism. Authentic spirituality (if such a thing exists) is simply not the American way.  "Spirituality" has far more sex appeal than related words like "commitment", "dedication", and "sacrifice".  "Take up your consumerism and following your desire" is a sweet sounding mantra .

And this provides part of the reason why we never feel the need to argue or even dialogue openly about spirituality as a culture.  Because whatever we believe, whatever we do to understand ourselves as spiritual beings, we all have the same religion anyway.  Namely, we all belong to the Church of Self. 

A very common yet unrecognized source of spiritual sentiment is simply self worship.  According to the tenets of the Church of Self, what you believe is inconsequential.  Truth, and whether or not it exists, is also inconsequential.  Whatever, whenever, however much or little you dabble in spirituality, the point is that you please yourself.  Serve your god through the pursuit of happiness, the accumulation of wealth, fame, sex, and power.  And if necessary, hold onto some vague idea of "spirituality" to convince yourself you have depth of character.

Popular spirituality can be a lot like plastic surgery: it gives us a necessary lift but it doesn't really change anything.  We don't want to be on the side of truth.  We want truth to be on our side!  We are the deities!

The TV evangelist slogan, "God has a wonderful plan for your life!" was a brilliant invention.  It says, "God will play for your team if you join our church".  That's exactly the slick crap we love to hear.  These Brill cream preachers seem to have missed that the Bible's heroes were people who suffered and were usually killed for their spirituality (Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, etc.)

So which is better?  Self-love or truth?  Maybe they're not mutually exclusive and it's a moot point.  But I conclude with a Beastie Boys album title:  "Check Your Head"!  Do you have a soul, or do you just wear the T-shirt?

2. Anchorage woman prepares to enter the priesthood SHIN BUDDHIST: Ordination ceremony set for Oct. 15. By S. JANE SZABO Anchorage Daily News (Published: September 26, 2003)


On July 28, Diane Johnson Van Parijs celebrated her 40th birthday at Red Robin Restaurant. It was a rollicking good time, with burgers, kids crawling under the table and a "Happy Birthday" serenade by the waiters.

On Oct. 15, she will celebrate another birthday of sorts. Her head will be shaved, and she will be officially ordained with her Buddhist name, Jishin ("Compassionate Heart/Mind"). Van Parijs will become a Buddhist priest, rare for a Western woman in the Shin Buddhist tradition and most likely a first for an Alaskan.

With a work history that started in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, continued to making hoagie sandwiches, secretarial and computer work and doing henna tattoos, it could be said that it took Van Parijs time to find her niche. But Buddhism, more about process than product, sees the spiritual quest as a life's work.

An early milestone on that path was a discovery she made about hypocrisy after her family moved in 1973 from the Philadelphia and New Jersey area to North Carolina. She was used to a culturally mixed milieu, not the clearly defined racial lines of her new home.

"I had always been taught to respect everyone, not to put anybody down because of their differences. Going from that environment to a little town in North Carolina and being faced with this racial bias was just horrible," she said. "Even at 10 years old, I remember being very offended to see how black people were treated differently. I guess my focus was that injustice. White people. Black people. You live on this side of town. We live on this side. There was a very clear-cut line of who can do what, and I just found that very offensive."

The religious dimension of this hit home when she was ostracized because of an interracial romance in high school. When the minister of the Protestant church her family attended called to criticize, the family quit the church.

"It seemed that all we'd been taught about loving your neighbor just went out the window with one phone call," she said. "So why aren't folks practicing what they preach, and why didn't people stand up for the right thing to do?"

After a failed marriage, she moved to Anchorage in 1986 to join her mother, Lynn Peterson, sister Karen Zane and aunt Wendy Talbott.

In those years, Van Parijs occasionally accompanied family members to a local Lutheran church, but she wasn't making a connection there, she said. "I've always felt a very spiritual, inner knowledge, but where and how it was going to manifest as far as in a church, temple, synogogue, I was not sure. I just kind of left it up to the universe to figure that out."

Van Parijs moved to Portland, Ore., for a while, and it was there that she discovered Buddhism. Through the job she landed at Providence Portland Medical Center, she began working with HIV-positive and AIDS patients, and when one died, she attended his funeral, a Buddhist service.

She was immediately drawn to Buddhism and later decided to attend a class on Zazen, a type of meditation in Soto Zen Buddhism.

"I walked into the temple, sat down on a cushion, and it was just like the weight of the world had come off my shoulders," she said. "It felt like 'This is what I've been looking for all my life. This is where I'm supposed to be.' "

She was led to Shin Buddhism and learned more of it during an e-mail romance with the Rev. Bruno "Yuho" Van Parijs, a Shin Buddhist priest from Antwerp, Belgium, whom she would eventually marry. About five years ago, they started the White Lotus Center, which recently moved to 123 E. 11th Ave. It is a branch of Yuho's temple, Jukoji, the Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Temple in Antwerp.

At the White Lotus Center, the typical scene blends American reality with the Shin Buddhist tradition. The children -- granddaughter Amya Johnson, 4; and children Arnesto Soc, 6, and Spencer Brown, 13 -- ride their scooters or play Barbies in the temple space in the living room. Daughter Kalynn Johnson, 20, practices opera singing as part of her UAA studies. Pop tarts in the toaster, towels in the dryer and dogs jumping on the couch are the norm, along with cushions, Japanese calligraphy and Buddha statues. In the library, tomes like "The Collected Works of Shinran Shonin" share the shelves with Dr. Seuss.

"Every day's life is your practice," Van Parijs said. "Everything that we do is the Dharma. The teaching is infused in that."

Just living won't make you a Buddhist priest, though. It has taken eight years of study, with steps along the way, such as when Van Parijs received Kikyoshiki, confirmation of her Buddhist name, in Dusseldorf in 2000. She did much reading and studied, in particular, the three Pure Land sutras. She talked with scholars at conferences. She and her husband spent a year and a half putting the entire collected works of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the tradition, on the Internet.

Meanwhile, she brought the annual Buddhist gathering Change Your Mind Day to Anchorage, organized the first Alaska Buddhist Conference in November 2000, and was president of Interfaith Council of Anchorage from 2001-03 and now is a board member.

Van Parijs says that her husband, a university professor, was her teacher, but studying Buddhism is not what people would expect in terms of universities, research papers, tests and degrees.

"It's living life in the Dharma. It is a lifetime of study. It just doesn't stop," she said.

"Ordination does not mean 'Oh, you know it all now. Go on your way.' It's a beginning. It's a commitment to study and spread the Dharma within this tradition. It's that commitment of the heart that is most important for me."

In June, it was announced that a Tokudo (Ordination) for Foreigners was going to be held. It has been nine years since the last ordination ceremony for foreigners has been held within the Jodo Shinshu Tradition of Buddhism.

Van Parijs submitted her application, which included information about her activities and the recommendation of three priests. After being accepted, she began to prepare for the 11 days of intense training she'll undertake in October. The candidates wear special robes, and spend each day from 5 a.m. until the evening in services, lectures and study.

The morning of Oct. 15, she and the other candidates will be taken for Tonsuring, in which the head is shaved to symbolize letting go of the ego. The ceremony will take three hours in the evening, and is so powerful that it is protected by guards and no guests can be present. After her new birth as a Buddhist priest, Van Parijs will be the resident priest at the White Lotus Center.

3. Voice from a Thai girl ...Buddhist ordination ...Date: 8 April 2003  ...Sawasdee Kha,


Last Saturday, I had a chance to join an ordination of a son of my father’s friend. I thought that, “Ah! Great! I could get some pictures and post in my page”. That’s why I am writing about it now.

I cut some part of a book called, “Essays on Thailand” where mentioned about Buddhist ordination. It will be shown in Italic dark blue font. I hope it would be useful for you guys who would like to know more about Buddhism.

Thai word for “ordination” is “Buad Pra”. “Pra” means a Buddhist monk who has to be complied with 227 Buddhist precepts.

One of the greatest things in the life of a Thai man is ordination, which is regarded as an act of a great merit dedicated to his parents. It is a Thai custom for a young man to enter the monkhood for a certain period of time in their life, but usually before marriage as Thai people believe that of a man enters the monkhood after marriage his wife is certain to receive half of the merit in stead of his parents who need most of the merit so that they will be born in heaven after death. To enable their parents achieve this goal, most Thai men therefore take this opportunity to express their gratitude to their parents by entering into the monkhood immediately after they reach a mature age of not less than 20 years old.

Any Thai man who wants to ordain before 20 years old or any +20 years old man think he couldn’t follow 275 monk’s rules, could select to be a novice (or as we call in Thai as “Sam-Ma-Nain” and we call ordination for a novice as “Buad Nain”). Then, there are a lot less strictly rules he has to comply.

A man who has not been ordained is not considered a mature adult and he seems to gain less respect from his community while a man who has already been ordained will be called “Thit”, which derived from the word “Bundhit” (Really! I haven’t known about this before, Me). Bundhit means “a learned man” or “scholar” (presently, it also means a person who graduated from university or college, Me). Thus, in the countryside, we will frequently hear the elder people call the already ordained man beginning with “Thit” and then to be followed by the person’s name.

Recently, a man who has not been ordained isn’t disrespected as much as it might happen in the past. I think we more realize that some men have lots responsibilities so that they couldn’t stay in monkhood even for a week.

Though ordination can be performed at any time of the year, it usually takes place in July or August of each year, which marks the beginning of the rainy season as during this period monks throughout the country are committed to stay only in their respective temples throughout a 3-month Rains Retreat or “Khao Phansa” in Thai.

Indeed, the ordination ceremony is a religious event in which the entire village is drawn to take part. The participants gain merit by accompanying the “Nak” or the “white-robed shaven head candidate for monkhood” in a colorful procession to the temple. The procession is very joyous and elegant as the Nak’s relatives and friends dance to the music in a festival mood.

In brief, the formal ceremony begins with the oral examination of the ordainee’s equalifications. Some of the questions to be answered by the ordainee are, “Are you male? Are you free from debt? Have you your parents’ permission to become monk?” (From the ordination I joined, I saw that my father was asked to sign a form, which I guessed it was the permission form. I think this form has been used not long time ago”, Me) All these questions are meant to ensure that the young man has been really relieved of all worldly burdens so that he can devote most of his time for religious studies during this valuable time of his life. After fulfilling the prescribed regulations, the ordainee will then be given the yellow robe and hear his first admonition before becoming a full monk.

At the end of the 3-month Rains Retreat and after the Kathin robe is presented to their temple, (Kratin is one of a religious event done at the end of Khao Phansa period. At the Kratin, people, in the past, would give monks the yellow robe made by them, but presently we buy it and give to monks. Me) some monks will leave the monkhood and become a laymen while some other still continue their monkhood for a longer period and some may spend their entire life in the monkhood for the profit of attaining enlightment in the many lives to come. However, this depends on the individual’s merit and his endurance in preserving the 227-Buddhist precepts. Sometimes, it is very unfortunate that a young man is able to stay in the monkhood just only for a few days, even then he also gains merit from this good deed”

Presently, the period of ordination is round 1-2 weeks due to work constraints. However, regarding labour regulation of Thailand, a man is allowed to leave for ordination for maximum 1 month, but only once. 

Apart from this information, I also have some pictures I took from this event, which could give you more idea of ordination. Please be informed that all posted photos were taken on the ordination day only. Sometimes, there would be "Nak" celebration a night before.

I would like to share the merit I gained from this event with all you guys. Hope all good things will happen in your life and have good health.

Take care, Me

4. Ordination of Buddhist women



Controversy over the ordination of women is not confined to the Christian churches; it is also a hot-button issue in Buddhist countries. Venerable Dhammanada Bhikkuni is a Buddhist nun living in Thailand, where the ordination of women to the Buddhist priesthood is attracting political attention.

Details or Transcript:

Stephen Crittenden: I want to introduce you to one of the most prominent women in Thailand. The Venerable Dhammanada Bhikkuni is a former university professor ordained as a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka two years ago. She now heads a monastery and temple at Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok.

There are around 300,000 Buddhist monks in Thailand, but Thailand’s Therevada tradition doesn’t allow for the full ordination of women. Thai women can take religious vows, shave their heads and wear white, but they have a fairly servile position in comparison to monks.

Dhammanada Bhikkuni has embarked on a campaign to change all that. She wants the Buddhist Sanga Council in Thailand to introduce women’s ordination, and she’s gone to the Thai Senate to enlist support.

Women may not be ordained in Thailand, but that’s not the case in some other parts of the Buddhist world. The ordination of women was apparently practised in the Buddha’s own time, and has been handed down through various lineages, in Tibet and China, Japan and Sri Lanka – and many Australians will know the name Tensin Palmo, perhaps the most famous Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition.

Well as you’re about to hear, issues of lineage are treated with the utmost importance in the Buddhist tradition. Dhammanada Bhikkuni spoke to me from her monastery outside Bangkok.

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Countries like South East Asian countries, we never had any ordination before, so it is something new for this area. But otherwise it was practised by the Buddha himself.

Stephen Crittenden: How much is the opposition to the ordination of women something that comes out of Thai society, or South East Asian society?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: I think there is some misunderstanding about reading the texts, you know. They got stuck with the idea that we must be ordained by dual ordination – dual ordination meaning that I must be ordained first by the nuns’ order, and then the monks’ order. The fact that we never had ordained nuns in our country, therefore we cannot have ordination, full stop. But I would like to make that full stop a comma, to say that when we cannot have ordination from this country, we look around and we find some other countries where the order of nuns still survives. We could happily take, ask for lineage from them, and that has been done in the past. We did not have Thai monks, we did not have Buddhist monks in our country, and we invited lineage from Sri Lanka. So the Sri Lankan lineages started the Thai monks, also in Myanmar, and in Cambodia. So then the monks can do that, I don’t see why women cannot do it.

Stephen Crittenden: And that’s what you did yourself.

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Yes. Well, when we cannot receive ordination simply because we don’t have a fully ordained nun in our country, so I seek for other countries where they actually have fully ordained nuns. And the lineage of the fully ordained nun never stops from the Buddha’s time, it continued from India to Sri Lanka to China, and now back to Sri Lanka, and now coming back to Thailand.

Stephen Crittenden: And you told me that when you returned to Thailand, after having been ordained yourself, you came up against a lot of opposition. Was it from Thai men, or from male Buddhist monks particularly?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: To speak the truth, actually, there were only a couple of senior monks who did not like the idea. But the problem with that is it’s blown up by the media, because now the media is accessible to everywhere. The majority of people, including the monks, I would say they really did not know what was right or what was wrong, or what was possible.

Stephen Crittenden: And how much support is there from women, for example, in Thailand? Is this something where social values are changing at a grassroots level, and the religious leaders are the ones having trouble catching up?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: I think it is – this pocket of knowledge has been neglected in our country for a long time, and it is up to us Buddhists. You know, the Buddhist text is never limited only to some people, no, it’s accessible to everyone. But the study of Buddhism had never been done in academic levels. Just like even in the West, you know, the study of religion as academic subjects only happened one hundred years ago, that also is the same problem that we have in our country. Something that is handed down by tradition we need to question.

Stephen Crittenden: So how much support is there from ordinary Thai people?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: I think right now our society is very open, and the internet, with the mass media, Thai society, the upper class, middle class, they are educated, and they are willing and they are open with this change, particularly for women. Don’t forget that women are half the world’s population. This is the new alternative access for women for their spiritual path.

Stephen Crittenden: Now, am I right in thinking that you have appealed to the Thai Senate? and I’m interested in why you’ve done that, because I understand that it’s not politicians who can really make this ruling, that’s something that’s only really up to the ruling council of the Buddhist Sangha. Am I right about that?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Well, whether the Sangha is going to accept or not, you know, the Sangha says now they also wait for the public. You know the Sangha – meaning community of monks and nuns – really has no power if they are not supported by the people. Even from the Buddha’s time, monks and nuns, whatever they do, is this correct or not correct, acceptable or not acceptable, it is up to the lay people. Because the lay people are the ones who support us. So there is a spirit of Buddhism that we have to follow, at the same time whether this is going to be a possibility opening for the future or not, depending on how we prove ourselves and how the society – meaning lay people, lay women and lay men – accept us and support us. Even the 300,000 monks in our country, they are supported by the people. If the people stop supporting them, they cannot live.

Stephen Crittenden: And is this why the views of the Parliament are important?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: It is important, because if there is no opening for the existence of ordained women in the law itself, it is injustice, it’s a human right issue.

Stephen Crittenden: What is the position of the law in Thailand on this issue?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: This is the complication in Thai law. They do not speak directly on the community of monks, but the community of Thai monks developed in such a way that it is closely connected to the official side, you know, so they go side by side.

Stephen Crittenden: So they’re connected with the State?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: So you cannot say that it is completely secular, and this one is completely on the Buddhist Sangha side.

Stephen Crittenden: So what the politicians say is important.

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: I think it is addition – something that adds to the Bill of the Sangha. We just need one word to add there, you know, the Sangha actually means – the Buddha meant Sangha means community of monks and nuns. But at present in our country, people tend to understand that when we say Sangha community, we tend to mean community only of the monks. And that is not correct according to the spirit of Buddhism.

Stephen Crittenden: How has the Thai Parliament responded? Are they showing signs, is the Senate showing signs of support for this idea at this stage?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Well, I am very positive, because the Deputy of the Prime Minister himself, spoke in the Parliament, and they actually spent fifty minutes discussing on this issue. And he actually sent the report that was done by the sub-committee of the Senators to the Supreme Patriarch already.

Stephen Crittenden: So what’s the next step?

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Right now I think the Senators are working on getting people educated on the issue. And when the voice of the public is more positive, I’m sure the Sangha will listen.

Stephen Crittenden: Well I wish you the best of luck. It’s wonderful having you on the program, and thank you for joining us in Australia.

Dhammanada Bhikkuni: Thank you, you’re most welcome.

Stephen Crittenden: The Venerable Dhammanada Bhikkuni speaking from Thailand.

Guests on this program: Venerable Dhammanada Bhikkuni Buddhist nun, Bangkok

5. Mahabodhi Institute


Welcome to the homepage of the Mahabodhi Institute (MBI), an internet-based education program dedicated to the study and application of the principles of Mindful Living as they relate to social reform, environmentalism, and world peace.

Started in 1992 out of the need for American Buddhists to have a better knowledge of the life of the Buddha, not just the meditative and devotional practices of the different sects, the Institute turned to the "Buddhist Catechism" and created the correspondence course that would later become the Online Edition of the Buddhist Catechism.

Today, under the direction of the Mahabodhi Maitri Mandala in America, the Institute continues to advocate a core Buddhism that is not only humanistic, but also grounded in the Bodhisattva ideal.

The Fourteen Common Beliefs of Buddhism

The Fourteen Common Beliefs of Buddhism are the foundation of what is shared in common between all schools of Buddhism and are based on the original Propositions agreed upon by delegates from both the Theravada and Mahayana schools in 1891.

These commonly held beliefs are as follows:

1. Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and compassion to all people, without distinction; and unswerving kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.

2. There was no creation and the universe was evolved, functioning according to law, not according to the behest of any Supreme Being.

3. The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural. They have been taught in successive world-periods by illuminated beings called Buddhas, the name Buddha meaning "Awakened".

4. The fourth teacher in the present world-period was Gautama Buddha, who was born to a royal family in India. He is an historical person and his name was Siddhartha Guatama.

5. Gautama Buddha taught that ignorance produced from the Dual Mind results in craving and clinging, the consequence of which is suffering. To get rid of suffering it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.

6. When ignorance is destroyed, the cycle of dependent origination is broken, with craving, clinging, and the consequential suffering ceasing to exist.

7. The dispersion of this ignorance can be attained by the persevering practice of embracing the Bodhisattva ideal in conduct, the development of natural and correct intelligence, wisdom in thought, and refraining from sense desires and clinging.

8. The perfected individual attains through meditation the highest state of peace called Nirvana.

9. Gautama Buddha taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, which are:

(1) Suffering is universal;

(2) The source of Suffering is clinging and craving to sense desires through the Dual Mind, which never is satiated.

(3) The elimination of the source of Suffering, which is called the Supreme Truth;

(4) The basic means by which Suffering is elimated is by following the Noble Eightfold Path --- Right Belief; Right Thought or Attitude; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Means of Livelihood; Right Exertion or Intention; Right Mindfulness; and Right Meditation.

10. Right Meditation leads to spiritual awakening, or the development of a Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every person.

11. The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the Buddha himself, is:

To refrain from all error,

To develop virtue,

And to purify the mind.

12. The universe is subject to a natural causation known as Karma, each person having antecedant causes for the effects which he or she now experiences.

13. The obstacles to the attainment of good karma may be removed by the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Buddhism: (1) to refrain from killing; (2) to refrain from stealing; (3) to refrain from sexual misconduct; (4) to refrain from lying; (5) to refrain from substances that cause intoxication. Five other precepts which need not be mentioned here should also be observed by those who would attain, more quickly than the average person, the release from misery and rebirth.

14. Buddhism discourages all superstitious practices. The Buddha taught it to be the duty of parents to have their children educated in science and literature. He also taught that no one should believe what is spoken by any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by tradition, unless it accords with direct experience.

The Bodhisattva's Prayer

Of all the prayers in the universe, none is as powerful as the Bodhisattva Prayer. The Bodhisattva Prayer is the aspiration to lead all sentient to complete enlightenment and liberation from the six realms of suffering known as samsara.

The thought of "I" or "self" is the only obstacle to reaching enlightenment and liberation. If the "I" can be dissolved without enmity then you will become enlightened. Constantly remaining in that view is liberation. When the thought of "self" arises in your mind it is like a cloud gathering in the sky blocking the natural radiance of your true nature. Continually clinging on to the thought of "self" even more clouds gather creating a thunderstorm of discursive thoughts, emotions and actions that only serve to increase the delusion of self and its suffering. The best way to disperse the delusion of "self" is to become selfless by thinking of others more than yourself and develop love, compassion, and wisdom towards all sentient beings, from a single insect on a single blade of grass to the highest wisdom of Samantabhadra. With this aspiration the awakening of Bodhicitta will dawn in your mind stream dispersing the dark clouds of a thousand eons bringing the natural clear light awareness to the forefront of your being.

Some people say that practice makes perfect. But, we say that only perfect practice makes perfect. Imperfect practice only makes imperfect. What goes in is what comes out. A religion or spiritual practice that liberates their practitioners is Buddhism. A religion or spiritual practice that doesn't is a cult. You can practice one billion Buddha tantras for one billion years but if you still haven't developed the awakened mind of Bodhicitta you still won't be any closer to enlightenment. Chan Master Huihai once said, "if you keep searching for the Buddha you will spend an eternity in samsara and never see a single one. But, if you can see the nature of your own mind for just an instant then you will see all of the Buddhas in the entire universe". Our original nature is none other than the Buddha itself; compassionate wakefulness free from all attachments to the five skandhas of thoughts, feelings, conceptions, impulses and consciousness.

To dispel the demon of "self" and all the clouds that arises from the delusion of "self" the Lord Buddha in his infinite wisdom taught us the unexcelled method of increasing our own enlightenment and wisdom by wishing the same for others. If you pray for someone else's enlightenment without a thought of reward then the karma of that prayer comes right back to you bestowing all of the blessing of enlightenment upon you. If you pray for one hundred people to reach enlightenment then the karma comes back to you one hundred times. Now, if you wish for all of the sentient beings in the entire universe to become fully and completely enlightened then think of the results and immense blessings that will rain down upon such aspirations. This is the path of the Bodhisattva. Being selfless the self is dissolved, and if there is no self, there is no place for suffering to attach itself to.

As long as sentient being remain in samsara may I too remain so that I may inspire them to recognize their own true nature, free from both attachment and aversion, hope and fear!!!

May I be a protector for those without protection,
A leader for those who journey,
And a boat, a bridge, a passage for those desiring the further shore.

May the pain of every living creature be completely cleared away.

May I be the doctor and the medicine, and may I be the nurse
for all the sick beings of the world until everyone is healed.

Just like space and the elements such as earth,
May I always support the life of the boundless creatures.

And until they pass away from pain, may I also be the source of life
for all the realms of varied beings that reach unto the ends of space

--- Shantideva

6. Kosmic Consciousness ...by Ken Wilber


10 Audio CD'S, Over 12 hours of revelatory insights

Audio CD Description

"Just who is Ken Wilber?" For more than 30 years, a rising tide of readers enthralled by this visionary philosopher’s map of human potential have asked this question about the famously "low profile" author. Finally, early this year, Wilber—the author of A Brief History of Everything and Grace and Grit—agreed to create a series of in-depth dialogues on audio for the first time ever. The result is Kosmic Consciousness: a landmark recording that invites us to experience a full-length audio learning course with this celebrated thinker.

Listeners will be surprised and delighted to discover the Ken Wilber behind the writer’s pen—spontaneous, irreverent, and incredibly passionate about how each of us can participate in the unfolding of human consciousness. Through over 12 hours of revelatory insights, Kosmic Consciousness explores: The integral map of the Kosmos (the universe that includes the physical cosmos as well as the realms of consciousness and Spirit), the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, discovering your "multiple intelligences", using altered states, male and female sexuality, how meditation accelerates personal growth, prayer, does it work?, integral perspectives on individuals spanning Jung to Piaget, Baryshnikov to Nietzsche, Jesus to the Buddha, and much more.


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