Women in Buddhism: Profiles, Conversations, and Teachings – Lion’s Roar

LionsRoar.com presents a collection of our best teachings from, profiles on, and conversations with women in Buddhism. Featuring Sharon Salzberg, Sister Chan Khong, Pema Chödrön, Dipa Ma, Barbara Rhodes, Tenzin Palmo, Gloria Steinem and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Judith Simmer-Brown, Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Khandro Rinpoche, bell hooks and Eve Ensler, Sylvia Boorstein, and more.

“Tara, the Buddhist Savior,” 12th–early 13th century Nepal. Gilt-copper alloy with color and gold paint. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Though women have always played an important role in the dharma, they haven’t always been given the recognition or rights they deserve. Today, we have many examples of women — historical and contemporary — who’ve paved their own way on the Buddhist path, achieved titles and honors previously reserved for men, and dedicated their lives to spreading the dharma. We hope you’ll find real inspiration, as we have, in the teachings and examples set by the influential Buddhist women featured here.

Women & the Buddhist Community

“Seated Green Tara,” 17th–18th century. courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Since becoming ordained four decades ago, Lama Tsultrim Allione has faced her share of challenges and sexism. Throughout it all, Tara’s vow to work for the benefit of all beings in a woman’s body has been a source of guidance and inspiration.

Grace Schireson, Christina Feldman, Rita Gross, and Lama Palden Drolma discuss how women are defining new roles as Buddhist leaders, teachers, and practitioners.

While women may feel constrained by Buddhist institutions, the dharma itself poses no such limitations, says Joan Sutherland. By connecting with the vast view of no-self, women can discover their own meaningful expressions of the dharma.

Melissa Myozen Blacker recounts how she, as a practitioner and a teacher, has navigated a male-dominated tradition.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, dakinis are seen as unbridled and enlightened feminine energy. Lama Tsultrim Allione on how she discovered her own dakini power.

Author Sandy Boucher introduces the American Buddhist scene—its issues, weaknesses and strengths—to women interested in taking up Buddhist practice.

Gesshin Greenwood offers an alternative to the “male fantasy” of striving for enlightenment.

Sharon Salzberg, Barbara Rhodes, Judith Simmer-Brown & Pat O’Hara on what it means to be a woman dharma teacher and how they’d like to see Buddhism in America evolve. Discussion led by Melvin McLeod.

A quiet movement to reshape our understanding of Zen lineage and history is bringing attention to the forgotten names and voices of women in the tradition. Grace Schireson explains how the Women Ancestors Document came into being and what it means for us.

A report from North American Buddhist Alliance’s first meeting of Buddhist women teachers and leaders, held in 2016.

In Buddhist iconography, compassion is embodied in the bodhisattva Kuan Yin, who is said to manifest wherever beings need help. Engendering such compassion is not only good for others, says Christina Feldman, it is also good for us. By putting others first, we loosen the bonds of our self-fixation, and in doing so, inch closer to our own liberation.

The Ancient Buddhist tale of the Seven Wise Sisters has Zen Teacher Bonnie Myotai Treace thinking about the koan of gender.

Tenzin Palmo. Photo by Olivier Adam.

Dominique Butet and Olivier Adam profile Tibetan nun Tenzin Palmo, who is changing the role of women in Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Translated from French by Susan Maneville.

She’s best known as Thich Nhat Hanh’s invaluable collaborator, but Sister Chan Khong is also a dedicated activist and gifted teacher in her own right. Andrea Miller tells her extraordinary story.

Andrea Miller on the life and spiritual journey of one Deirdre Blomfield-Brown.

The principal figure in Buddhism is the teacher, a role traditionally dominated by men. Andrea Miller profiles three women teachers — Trudy Goodman, Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, and Lama Palden Drolma — who are changing the face of Buddhism and making the teachings whole.

Facing her suffering head-on has made Sharon Salzberg one of today’s most relatable Buddhist teachers. Lindsay Kyte talks to Salzberg about her difficult life’s journey, establishing loving-kindness as a key practice in American Buddhism, and how we can all find real happiness.

“Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind”—it was these words that inspired Sylvia Boorstein to follow the Buddhist path. Steve Silberman talks with her about the challenges of life, from a rough childhood to a post-partum depression, that helped her become such a beloved teacher—and example—of Buddhist virtues.

“I just want people to be liberated.” John DeMont on the radical Buddhism of Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

Ruth Denison, pioneer Buddhist teacher, died in February 2015 after forty years of inspired, innovative teaching. Sandy Boucher, her student and biographer, gives a candid account of the tangles and revelations in chronicling the life of her gifted mentor.

Dipa Ma. Photo by Janice Rubin.

Amy Schmidt and Sara Jenkins tell the inspiring story of Dipa Ma, known as “the patron saint of householders.”

She is demanding of her students and uncompromising about the dharma, and she is a rarity—a prominent Tibetan teacher who is a woman. Trish Deitch Rohrer experiences the provocative and challenging Khandro Rinpoche.

Holly Gayley discusses the power of Padmasambhava’s foremost disciple and consort, Yeshe Tsogyal, and the life of one of her modern emanations.

Eve Ensler & bell hooks on fighting domination and finding love.

One helped transform American society, the other is helping to transform the lives of Buddhist nuns. In an event at the Rubin Museum of Art, feminist trailblazers Gloria Steinem and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo talk candidly about the personal challenges they’ve faced, the progress they’ve seen, and why there’s still more to be done.

Andrea Miller talks with Judy Lief about gender inequality in the Buddhist community, and the importance of female dharma teachers.

Andrea Miller and Karen Maezen Miller discuss the role of women in the contemporary Zen world.
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Buddhist Nuns in the News

A handful of the twenty nuns smile while waiting to be awarded their geshema degrees. Photo by Olivier Adam.

The geshema degree, equivalent to a doctorate, represents the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. It was previously only awarded to men. Photos by Olivier Adam; story by Dominique Butet.

From 2003, the story of the first Thai woman to receive full ordination as a Theravadin nun.

Bhikkhuni Sudhamma traces the origins of Buddhist ordination for women to Queen Anula, Sri Lanka’s first Buddhist nun.

A historic moment in Indonesia.

On His Holiness’s announcement that “[he] would take concrete steps towards restoring nuns’ vows in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.”

For more on developments regarding female Buddhist monastics and teachers, visit LionsRoar.com’s News Archive.

HUA-YEN BUDDHISM THE JEWEL NET OF INDRA PDF

Hua-Yen Buddhism: the jewel net of Indra – Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or view presentation slides online. Cook, Francis H. Published Hua-Yen Buddhism has 41 ratings and 8 reviews. Mike said: I love the Huayen vision, and this book is a lovely introduction to s Cook, now an ad. And yet the many things do not hinder each other. In his book Hua-yen Buddhism : The Jewel Net of Indra (Pennsylvania State University Press.

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Aug 29, Jan van Leent rated it it was amazing Shelves: Aesthetics of Change Bradford P.

Indra’s net – Wikipedia

Wirunwan rated it it was amazing Mar 31, The Practice of Huayan Buddhism, http: This is probably the best and most straightforward English language introduction to Hua-yen thought. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Books by Francis Harold Cook. Brandon Lott rated it liked it Sep 15, Hua-yen is a cosmic ecology, which views all existence as an organic unity, so it has an obvious appeal to the modern individual, both students and layman.

Indra’s net

Authentic English TranslationAgniveer, pp. Thanks for telling us about the problem. None of the other jewels interfere with this. Cook No preview available – Hua-yen Buddhism strongly resembles Whitehead’s process philosophy, and has strong implications for modern philosophy and religion.

Hua-Yen Buddhism

Oct 14, Jennifer rated it it was ok. If all jewels are present within each jewel, it is also the case that if you sit in one jewel you sit in all jewels at the same time. By that net, O Indra, pounce upon all the enemies so that none of the enemies may escape the arrest and punishment.

The net was one of the weapons of the sky-god Indra, used to snare and entangle enemies. My library Help Advanced Book Search. The inverse is also understood in the same way.

A good slim read. If we now o select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number.

Dzieglersf rated it it was amazing May 22, I really enjoyed it, and even though the philosophy can be confusing, it was explained clearly and in many different ways. Not for a novice–well, not for an intermediate for that matter. The progression is infinite, like the jewels of Celestial Lord Indra’s Net: It is called Indra’s Net. This book is a description and analysis het the Buddhlsm form of Buddhism called Hua-yen or Hwa-yeaFlower Ornament, based largely on one of the more systematic treatises of its third patriarch.

This individual jewel can immediately reflect the image of every other jewel.

Just as one goes into one jewel and thus enters every other jewel while never leaving this one jewel, so too one enters any jewel while never leaving this particular jewel. Keeney Limited preview – The Indian Background of Huayen. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true—every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy—is a pearl in Indra’s net. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Huaa-yen is the case with this jewel, this is furthermore the case with all the rest of the jewels—each and every jewel simultaneously and immediately reflects each and every other jewel, ad infinitum.

This stretched my brain and opened my heart – what more could I ask for?

Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra By Francis H. Cook

Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone. Francis Cook’s writing reflects this to some extent, which lends a somewhat dated quality to the discussion, especially early on.

In the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhismwhich follows the Avatamsaka Sutrathe image of “Indra’s net” is used to describe the interconnectedness of the universe. Alison rated it liked it May 29, IndraAvatamsaka Sutraand Huayan school.

The Part and the Whole.

The post HUA-YEN BUDDHISM THE JEWEL NET OF INDRA PDF appeared first on PDF Foundation.

How the Dalai Lama’s dash from Tibet ‘changed the concept of Buddhism’ forever

How the Dalai Lama’s dash from Tibet ‘changed the concept of Buddhism’ forever

Sixty years ago today, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet under the cover of darkness, disguised as a soldier.

Key points:

Amid an uprising against Beijing in Tibet, the Buddhist leader was invited by a senior Chinese general to watch a dance performance.

The unexpected invitation set alarm bells ringing for the Dalai Lama and his senior advisors, who quickly devised an escape route: cross the Himalayas on foot to seek asylum in India.

It also set off a chain of events that Beijing likely could not have predicted, and surely did not intend.

Why did the Dalai Lama flee?

Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and formally incorporated the region into its territory the following year, a source of ongoing controversy to this day (Beijing calls it a “peaceful liberation”).

Tibet’s government, with a then-teenage Dalai Lama at its head, signed a treaty that professed to preserve Buddhism and Tibetan autonomy.

A resistance movement soon emerged in opposition to Chinese rule, and on March 10, 1959, thousands of people surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace to protect him against what they believed was an imminent kidnapping or assassination threat.

Beijing suppressed the uprising with force, and thousands of people were reported killed.

But China — which says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, a claim Tibetans refute — has long defended its rule there, attacking the Dalai Lama and touting its economic development.

The people of Tibet are “extremely grateful for the prosperity that the Communist Party has brought them”, Tibet Party Secretary Wu Yingjie told reporters ahead of the anniversary.

What did it mean for Tibetans?

Some 80,000 Tibetans fled during the crackdown, including Melbourne-based religious leader Zatul Rinpoche.

As an 18-year-old, he says he walked for several nights through mountainous terrain to reach Nepal.

“At first, we thought we could just escape for a few months, then return,” he told the ABC. “Realising that we were not be able to go back — that was very, very hard.”

Tibetans accuse China of ratcheting up repression in the years that followed, and there have been several outbreaks of unrest and protest against Chinese rule in the intervening years.

For those who stayed behind, the absence of the Dalai Lama left a vacuum that’s been impossible to fill.

“It created a huge emptiness for people. He was undoubtedly the most important person in Tibet, and still is for most Tibetans,” said John Powers, a professor at Deakin University who specialises in Tibetan Buddhism.

“The level of reverence is undiminished — if anything it’s probably higher than when he was still there.”

China disputes this, too, with Mr Wu claiming the Dalai Lama hasn’t done a “single good thing” for Tibet since he left.

How has it changed Buddhism?

From his base in Dharamshala, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the Dalai Lama has spread Buddhism’s message far and wide — and garnered support from followers globally for the Free Tibet movement.

He has embraced technology, with a comprehensive website and a larger Twitter following than the Pope (19 million vs 17 million), despite there being an estimated 500 million more Catholics in the world than Buddhists.

Chope Paljor Tsering, a former minister in Tibet’s government-in-exile who now lives in Canberra, told the ABC he felt that “Buddhism has not only survived, but been revived and appreciated … by many cultures around the world”.

“In that sense, His Holiness changed the concept of Buddhism.”

For its part, Beijing has simultaneously clamped down on Tibetan Buddhism while sporadically promoting China as the centre of Buddhism.

Dr Powers said China had unsuccessfully used a “patriotic education” campaign in an attempt to reshape Tibetan interpretations of Buddhism and convince Tibetans of their love the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

And overseas, he said, many Buddhists have viewed pro-Tibet activism as intrinsically interlinked with their religious practice. “That was a natural constituency for the Free Tibet movement,” he said.

What does the future hold?

With the Dalai Lama now in his 80s, the battle between China and exiled Tibetans over Buddhism’s future is heating up.

Traditionally, once the Dalai Lama dies (there have been 14 to date), the next is found — rather than chosen — in a lengthy search by the High Lamas, as he is believed to be able to select the body he reincarnates in.

Generally, but not always, that has been a young boy in Tibet.

However, with the political situation there remaining tense, the current Dalai Lama has suggested the next incarnation will be found outside Tibet, or that perhaps he (or she) won’t be found at all.

“There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad,” he told the BBC in 2014.

“So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama,” he added, though he has also said the decision must ultimately be up to the Tibetan people.

But Chinese authorities want to ensure that the next Dalai Lama is from Tibet, saying they will select a candidate instead.

This has a historical precedent: In 1989, China detained the Panchen Lama — the second most important position in Tibetan Buddhism — shortly after he was identified by the Dalai Lama, and he not been seen since.

The government selected a Beijing-endorsed replacement whose family is loyal to the CCP.

According to Dr Powers, the government would follow the same script by appointing a “puppet Dalai Lama”, while a rival leader outside the country would be recognised by Tibetans.

“The Tibetan exile government is already making plans for this, and they’re going to follow the traditional procedures, and the Chinese government is probably going to make up its own procedures,” Dr Powers said.

The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the story in Chinese: 阅读中文版本

The 12 Steps and Buddhism Archives – White Lotus Judith Ragir

Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in July 2016 at Great Tree Women’s Zen Temple, North Carolina, USA. Speaker: Judith Ragir License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in July 2016 at Great Tree Women’s Zen Temple, North Carolina, USA. Speaker: Judith Ragir License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Download file | Play in new window | Recorded on 2016-07-23

Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in July 2016 at Great Tree Women’s Zen Temple, North Carolina, USA. Speaker: Judith Ragir License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Download file | Play in new window | Recorded on 2016-03-05

Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Peter License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Barry License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Alice License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Diane License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Eric License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Download file | Play in new window | Recorded on 2016-03-03

Talk given during a 12 Steps and Buddhism retreat held in March 2016 at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Speaker: Judith Ragir License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

A Buddhist on a Christian on Buddhism

I have lately drawn attention to viewpoints of Thomas Terry about a connection between Buddhism and the prevalence of corruption in Mongolian society. His allegations on this point do not appear to be an accidental slip of the tongue. On the contrary they seem to be very much part of a general approach of praising the superiority of Christianity through ridiculing and belittling other religions. In the  Mongolian context the main target of his denunciations is Buddhism, the traditional  religion of the country.

As President of Eagle TV Thomas Terry has been given a unique position to promote his religious viewpoints in Mongolian society. His views on Buddhism are regularly published on his blog which figures prominently on the homepage of Eagle TV. As an evangelical Christian Thomas Terry also represents a religious movement which is being aggressively promoted in Mongolia. His viewpoints are assumedly also taken seriously by his Christian Mongolian followers and may even have some influence on the Mongolian public due to the lack of religious knowledge in Mongolia today. They therefore deserve to be seriously scrutinized.

Thomas Terry certainly doesn’t make a secret of his attitude to Buddhism:

Certainly I’m no fan of Buddhism. The teachings of Buddhism cannot hold a candle to the life of Jesus Christ. As I’ve written previously, Christianity is superior to Buddhism ethically, historically, and factually.1.

As we see from the following statement, neither does he hesitate to attack head on the founders of other religions as morally debased individuals:

Consider some of the most respected figures in religious or political history. Moses is revered by the Jews as their lawgiver. Yet Moses was a murderer. Mohammad is honored by 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide as a prophet. Yet Mohammad was a pedophile, having sex with a child bride when she was just nine years of age. Buddha is revered by more than 300 million Buddhists. Yet Buddhism’s founder abandoned his family without warning to search for enlightenment.2

Since he starts out as a crusader attacking Buddhism as inferior one would assume that Thomas Terry had done some serious studies of Buddhism, giving him the knowledge on which to base his allegations about the defects of this religion. Apparently this is not the case. In his statements in his blog he refers to two books comparing various religions with Christianity3. These books have little scholarly value being basically expositions by American evangelical Christians trying to prove the superiority of their own faith. Still this does not hold him back from passing a number of deeply derogatory judgments on Buddhism. I will look at a few of them. As there is limited space for a thorough discussion I will mainly point to passages from the Buddhist scriptures and traditional expositions of the doctrine stating the Buddhist position on the points raised by Thomas Terry.

The Buddha 
At first it should be realized that for Buddhists the Buddha is the Supreme Being born into this world for our sake, as expressed by these words about his birth:

The Bodhisatta, the foremost jewel, unequaled, has been born in Lumbini town in the Sakyan land for the good and happiness of the human world.4

The perspective suggested by Thomas Terry’s statement above about a Buddha abandoning his family is therefore completely unacceptable to Buddhists. The monk Piyadassi Thera gives the traditional view about the Buddha’s leaving his wife in the royal palace:

… he (the Buddha) was overcome by a powerful urge to seek and win the Deathless, to strive for deliverance from old age, illness, misery, and death not only for himself but for all beings (including his wife and child) that suffer. It was his deep compassion that led him to the quest ending in enlightenment, in Buddhahood. It was compassion that now moved his heart towards the great renunciation and opened for him the doors of the golden cage of his home life. It was compassion that made his determination unshakeable even by the last parting glance at his beloved wife asleep with the baby in her arms.5

According to tradition the Buddha returned to his palace after his enlightenment with his wife and son later joining his order as his disciples. In Buddhism love includes ones near ones but is not limited to them, as expressed by the following verse praising the Buddha:

You were kind without being asked, you were loving without reason, you were a friend to the stranger and a kinsman to those without kin.6

Thomas Terry’s harsh remarks about the Buddha therefore go far beyond an objective assessment of the founder of Buddhism being more a character assassination which for that reason is highly repugnant to Buddhists.

The Goal of Buddhism
This is a point were Thomas Terry is not too clear. He talks about “the ultimate eradication of the individual”, that “Buddha came that people might rid themselves of personal existence”, that “Buddhism promises only an arduous, lengthy road toward personal non-existence in a nebulous nirvana”. No wonder that he thinks that “Buddhism is a philosophy where the living hope for an eternal death.” His basic interest, however, does not seem to be to understand Buddhism, but rather to attempt to make Buddhism appear as unattractive as possible to his audience. The question, however, is whether what he says has anything to do with the teachings of Buddhism.

First of all Buddhism never speaks about the highest state as death. On the contrary the achievement of nirvana is often described as the final victory over death as the following scriptural passages about the Buddha declares:

Then I considered thus: Suppose that, being myself subject to birth, aging, sickness and death, to sorrow and defilement, I seek the unaging, unailing, deathless, sorrowless and undefiled state, the supreme security from bondage, Nirvana.7
“Homage to you, … who have won the hard victory, defeating the army of Death, (…).” Thus they pay homage, the devas, to one who has reached the heart’s goal, for they see in him no means that would bring him under Death’s sway. 8

The question is then, what about the Buddhist teaching about the human person? What about the teaching about human being not having an unchanging self nature, that Mr. Terry remarks might refer to? To this question the answer is that the descriptions of Buddhist schools of thought regarding human nature are very sophisticated, analysing the fact of change as well as continuity of human beings. The important thing to remember, however, is the emphasis on the fact (as Buddhism sees it) that we survive our physical death and continue our existence in a new form. As human life as well as other forms of existence only lasts for a limited time this phenomenon of repeated existence has happened innumerable times in the past and will be repeated again until we reach the supreme state of eternal perfection beyond birth and death which Buddhists refers to as nirvana. However, this state cannot, by its very nature, be described through ordinary reasoning. One becomes, like the Buddha: “Deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the ocean.”

The perspective of Buddhism is very broad: happiness in this life, happiness in lives to come, and the supreme happiness of ultimate liberation. However, the point which Thomas Terry doesn’t seem to understand is that absolute reality, which Christians refer to as “God” or “heaven”, while other designations are used by Buddhists, is a topic that is particularly ill suited for diatribes against other religions. It is sad to see a person arguing for the superiority of his religion by issuing claims about another religion that are plainly untrue.

Ethics of Buddhism

Ethics is an area where Thomas Terry has a lot to say:

The whole idea of suffering, desire, and detachment in Buddhism has had an effect on Buddhist societies that most Buddhists themselves do not recognize. Buddhism not only fears suffering, but actually contributes to suffering. By emphasizing detachment and the elimination of desire, Buddhism puts an unnatural barrier on relationships that stifles the fullest possible expressions of mercy and sacrificial love. Certainly there is love in Buddhism, but not the kind of love that we see in the demonstration of Christ on the cross. That is Buddhism’s greatest tragedy. The fullest possible expression of love cannot be experienced without suffering and sacrifice. Buddhism fails to understand this, and thus is a system that has an outward expression of love that is void of a truly impassioned heart.9

Here again we see a rather muddled statement mixing allegations about the state of affairs in Buddhist societies (“unnatural barriers on relationship that stifles the fullest possible expressions of mercy and sacrificial love”) with theories about the causes for such a situation (“emphasizing detachment and the elimination of desire”).  Again, the question is whether this description has anything to do with reality. As we all know, people, whatever their religious label, tend to ignore the ideals of their religions and do in fact often behave contrary to them. The general behavior of people in a society is therefore not a reliable source of knowledge about the ethics of a particular religion. Thomas Terry’s claim that Buddhism “contributes to suffering”, in the way he suggests, is therefore highly problematic. I think for instance that suggesting that  Mongolians are “stifled” in regard to “expressions of mercy” compared to say, Russians or that Thais lack “sacrificial love” compared to, say Americans are highly risky statements that those thus characterized, with good reasons, would find very insulting.

At this point I think is time to clear up some misunderstandings about Buddhism. Contrary to what some falsely claim, Buddhism does not go against what we may call “the pursuit of happiness”. Quite the contrary. Neither does it advice against seeking worldly happiness. What it does advice against is seeking worldly happiness at the expense of others. However, it also points out that there is a happiness higher that that dependent on worldly gains. The shift in focus involved in pursuing this higher happiness generally happen gradually as the individual matures in his understanding of life. There is thus nothing in Buddhism inhibiting the full expression of human emotions in relation to others.

Then there is the claim that Buddhism fails to understand that “love cannot be experienced without suffering and sacrifice”. Again this is a false claim. Love as understood by Buddhism always implies a willingness of self sacrifice, as expressed by the following verse from the Buddhist scriptures:

Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings.10

The willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others have to be cultivated little by little so we get to the state where we may actually do so when needed:

Our Guide instructs us to begin
By giving food or other little charities,
That later, step by step, the habit once acquired,
We may be able to donate our very flesh.11

Sadly, Thomas Terry goes on with claims that are as false as those already put forward:

In religious practices like Buddhism, self-denial is practiced as part of achieving enlightenment. In other words, a person denies self in order to gain something for himself. ….
The model from the Bible is radically different, and far nobler. We deny ourselves in order to benefit other people and God’s kingdom.12

I will not comment here upon his description about the teaching of the Bible. I have included it, though, as it is so typical of his rather childish rhetoric of praising his religion by belittling others. But again he is falsely accusing Buddhism. One of the earliest passages from the Buddhist scriptures recounts how the Buddha told his first sixty monk disciples, who had achieved enlightenment, and thus had nothing more to gain for themselves, to go out in the world to help others achieve the same goal as they had achieved:

Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men.13

This principle has been upheld as fundamental in all traditions of Buddhism. A text often referred to by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the Bodhicaryavatara which includes the following verse:

As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And dispel the miseries of the world.14

A brief study of the Buddhist scriptures should make it abundantly clear that the allegation of Thomas Terry that a Buddhist only “denies self in order to gain something for himself” is utterly false and a grave misrepresentation of Buddhism.

Reasons given for the superiority of Christianity

At this point it may be worth taking a closer look at some of the reasons put forward by Thomas Terry for the superiority of Christianity. One reason emphasised by him in relation to self-denial is the concept of obedience to God. Here15 he mentions Genesis 22: 1-13 where “God” says to Abraham:

Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah.
Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you. …
When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged

the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And
Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.16

As the story goes “God” having tested Abraham’s obedience gave him a goat to kill instead. I think it is not only Buddhists that are horrified rather than impressed by this example of blind obedience going as far as being willing to kill one’s own son as an offering to an imagined “God”! Unfortunately the Bible not only includes praiseworthy injunctions to love ones neighbour and so on but also some highly problematic stories such as 1 Samuel 15, v 1 where “God” actually orders the Jews to carry out wholesale genocide as revenge on a neighbouring tribe :

Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared:
I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came
from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.17

How can a religion sink so abysmally low? I must confess that the answer eludes me. To a Buddhist these biblical passages should at least serve to remind us about the value of Buddhism where stories, such as those just referred to, would be totally unimaginable. They also suggest the need for critical examinations of all claims to represent absolute truth whether from Thomas Terry or any other religious fundamentalist. Or, as the Buddha says in the scriptures:

Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon
tradition, nor upon rumour, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon
specious reasoning, nor upon bias toward a notion pondered over, nor upon another’s
seeming ability, nor upon the consideration ‘The monk is our teacher.’
When you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad, blameable, censured by the wise;
undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them… When you 6
yourselves know: ‘These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and
observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.18

However, Thomas Terry is right about one thing: “Glorifying God is unimportant and irrelevant to Buddhist”. He doesn’t stop with just saying that, though. Here he “lets the cat out of the bag”:

But biblically, to the extent that God is ignored or opposed, people must correspondingly suffer.
… in ignoring God, Buddhists believe they can escape suffering, but this will only perpetuate it
forever. … The very means to escape suffering (true faith in the biblical Christ) is rejected in
favour of a self-salvation, which can only result in eternal suffering. (My emphasis)19

The idea that everyone, however good they may be as human beings, but rejecting “true faith in the biblical Christ” should be punished by “God” with “eternal suffering” in the hereafter is an appalling idea to say the least. However, the horrible callousness of this idea doesn’t seem to bother Thomas Terry as he shouts out these terrible treats to Mongolian Buddhist from the “God” he believes in. I think it is difficult to see this as anything else than religious hate speech! Thomas Terry bases his statements on passages from the Bible, such as Matthew 25:46 which says:
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.20

Thomas Terry also quotes Revelation 20:10-15 which says:
Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining
the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
… And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.21

On this background Thomas Terry’s talk about a “God who expresses love for His creation” begins to sound rather hollow. What kind of love is there when those rejecting “true faith in the biblical Christ” are punished with “eternal suffering” as described above? How much is the hope to “exist forever with a loving God” worth to say a Mongolian Christian if the same “loving God” throws his Buddhist mother into “the lake of fire” to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” merely because she rejects “true faith in the biblical Christ”?. One is reminded by the contrast with Buddhism here:

For the happiness which, though sublime,
Cannot be shared with others,
Pains rather than pleases
Those like you, O Righteous One.22

The problem with Thomas Terry’s evangelical Christianity should be obvious to any discerning person: it is a message which condemns to “eternal suffering” in the hereafter everyone who doesn’t accept its particular offer of salvation. It is therefore a message of fear, intimidation, and intolerance. It is therefore a message that creates divisions and conflicts between human beings. It is therefore a message that teaches its followers to despise other religions. It is therefore a message that Mongolia really doesn’t need. To Buddhists such a message is a false and harmful delusion. As a European Buddhist I am pleased that my Christian friends in my own country have, by and large, thrown away the bigotry of religious fundamentalism. I therefore hope that my Mongolian friends will succeed in preventing their beautiful country from becoming a dumping ground for such destructive beliefs. 7

Notes:

1. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php/20080310085448257
2. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php/20080719182153584
3. On his blog dated Thursday, April 12 2007 he refers to Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions, John Ankerberg and John Weldom, Chapter 4: “Buddhism and Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism,” pages 52-61, and on his blog dated Friday, March 02 2007 he refers to The Illustrated Guide to World Religions, edited by Dean Halverson.
4. Nalaka Sutta v. 688, Khuddhaka Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka
5. Ven Piyadassi: The Buddha, His Life and Teachings, p. 13, http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/lifebuddha.pdf
6. Satpãncãsatka by Matrceta, 2, 11, http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/matrcetahymn.pdf
7. Ariyapariyesana Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka
8. Itivuttaka, 3.33, Khuddaka Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka
9. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php?story=20071029121756744
10. Karaniya Metta Sutta, Khuddaka Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka
11. Bodhicaryavatara, 7, 25
12. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php?story=20070129231613244
13. Mahavagga, I, 20, Vinaya Pitaka
14. Bodhicaryavatara, 10, 2
15. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php?story=20070129231613244
16. NLT version, http://bibleresources.bible.com/bible_nlt.php
17. NLT version, http://bibleresources.bible.com/bible_nlt.php
18. Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, Sutta Pitaka,
19. http://thomasterry.com/blog/article.php?story=20070412115031291
20. NLT version, http://bibleresources.bible.com/bible_nlt.php
21. NLT version, http://bibleresources.bible.com/bible_nlt.php
22. Satpãncãsatka by Matrceta, 2, 23, http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/matrcetahymn.pdf

Buddhism Is Not a Treatment for Mental Illness – Lion’s Roar

A new article in The Atlantic says more Americans with mental illness are turning to Buddhism for mental health treatment. Experts might advise otherwise.

Photo by I Am Ming.

Last week, The Atlantic published an article on the growing number of Americans pursuing Buddhism as a treatment for stress and mental illness. Compared to psychotherapy and psychiatric medication, the article states, some Americans see Buddhism as a low-cost alternative. A week later, The Atlantic published a response from a reader, offering a different take: “It should be addressed that no form of Buddhist practice is a replacement for professional psychological help.”

The response from the reader — who writes that they are a practicing Buddhist with bipolar disorder — is more in line with the popular opinion among Buddhist teachers and mental health professionals. It’s misleading — or potentially dangerous — to see Buddhism as an alternative to mental health treatment.

This piece is fine, but I worry about people turning to Buddhism to “solve” serious mental health problems. Meditation, especially the DIY variety, is not a panacea for depression and other disorders. https://t.co/QTZg6GUs3M

— Daniel Burke (@BurkeCNN) March 8, 2019

In a 2017 Buddhadharma article, psychotherapist Debra Flics wrote, “Many Westerners, when they come to dharma practice, come looking for psychological healing—but this is not what meditation was designed to do.”

There is a common attitude in meditative communities that meditation can — or should — solve mental health issues. In 2017, after meditation teacher Michael Stone died from a drug overdose, his wife Carina wrote about Michael’s struggle with mental illness in Lion’s Roar:

“Michael sought psychiatric help and meds after years of resisting them. He had avoided the bipolar label for as long as he could, which delayed treatment. He hoped to heal himself through practice. This is an all too common theme in yoga and dharma worlds: If you practice deeply enough, you will heal, and if you don’t heal, your practice or something in you is flawed. But meditation is not a panacea, and can even be counterproductive for people with severe challenges.”

In recent years, many mental health professionals have promoted meditation as a compliment to other treatments — like therapy and antidepressants — for working with mental illness. On the advice of a professional, meditation can sometimes support mental health.

Find more information on Buddhism and mental health in our archive and learn about the benefits of meditation and how it works on our “How to Meditate” page.

Shambhala & the Hollow Earth according to Ancient Buddhism

 


“…The land of Shambhala lies in a valley. It is only approachable through a ring of snow peaks like the petals of a lotus … At the centre is a nine-storey crystal mountain which stands over a sacred lake, and a palace adorned with lapis, coral, gems and pearls. Shambala is a kingdom where humanity’s wisdom is spared from the destructions and corruptions of time and history, ready to save the world in its hour of need…”


As Russian philosopher Nicholas Roerich passed through the mountains of Central Asia in 1926, he and his guides were left fascinated when they witnessed an incredible, golden orb floating in the sky.

“…High up in the cloudless sky, they clearly saw a golden spheroidal object moving from the Altai Mountains to the north at tremendous speed. Veering sharply to the south-west, the golden sphere disappeared rapidly beyond the Humboldt Mountains.” – Chapter 4 of Invisible Eagle: The History of Nazi Occultism by Alan Baker.


Image Credit
Image Credit

Did you know that  Dr. Edmund Halley, discoverer of Comet Halley and Royal Astronomer of England also believed that the Earth was hollow on the inside with three “Floors.”

While in modern times many people have come up with a number of theories about the possibility that the Earth is hollow, in time immemorial, many cultures believed the same thing.

Descriptions of the Hollow Earth, Inner Earth and a world inside our own planet can be found in numerous ancient cultures around the globe.

What if Jules Verne’s classic “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” is actually true?

What if somewhere down there, a new world is waiting to be explored, a place where somehow, living beings inhabit the depths of our planet, a place that ancient cultures and civilizations knew existed, or still exists today.

 

What if, it’s actually true?

In fact, you’d be surprised to see how many ancient cultures and religions mention the existence of the world inside our planet.

Interestingly, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh visited his ancestor Utnapishtim in the bowels of the earth.

In Greek mythology, Orpheus tries to rescue Eurydice from the underground hell.

It was believed that the Pharaohs of Egypt communicated with the underworld, which could be accessed via secret tunnels hidden in the pyramids.

Also, according to the Macuxi Indians –an indigenous people who live in the Amazon, in countries such as Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela— they are the descendants of the Sun’s children, the creator of Fire and disease and the protectors of the “inner Earth.”


Is there a world inside our "world"?
Is there a world inside our “world”?

According to the Macuxi natives they were given the task to look out for the entrance and to keep strangers from entering the “hollow Earth.”

Legends from the Macuxi people suggest that those who enter the mysterious cavern travel for three days, only descending giant stairs, which measure around 33” each step.

After the third day, they leave behind their torches and continue their journey “into” the Earth, illuminated by lights that were already present in the caves. Giant lanterns, the size of a watermelon and shining brightly as the sun.

Buddhists believed (and still believe) that millions of people live in Agharta, an underground paradise ruled by the king of the world.

As you can see, there are numerous oral legends and ancient texts that not only speak of the hollow Earth but about mythical lands that exist on our planet.

In fact, many ancient texts can be traced back to a number of different ancient traditions that mention the existence of beings from ‘another’ world that reside WITHIN our own world.

One such world is referred to in Tibetan Buddhism and ancient Hindu traditions and is called the Shambhala.

Shambhala which is a Sanskrit word which translates to ‘place of peace’ or ‘place of silence’ is mentioned not only in Buddhism but is referred to ni ancient texts like the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient scriptures of the Zhang Zhung culture.

Shambhala is the land of the thousand names.

Shambhala is said to be a hidden kingdom that exists inside of our own planet, a magical place which we cannot possibly comprehend and is extremely difficult to find.

Spiritual place or physical location?


Earthly-Shambhala1
Image Credit

Interestingly, according to the Dalai Lama, and a speech he gave in 1985:

Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there. –The Esoteric Codex: Theosophy I

We can make reference to the above mentioned to the spiritual principles that once guided Atlantis, given by Greek Philosopher Plato and other scholars. Manly P. Hall a historian, author and  33rd degree Mason explained it when he wrote:

Before Atlantis sank, its spiritually illuminated Initiates, who realized that their land was doomed because it had departed from the Path of Light, withdrew from the ill-fated continent. Carrying with them the sacred and secret doctrine, these Atlanteans established themselves in Egypt, where they became its first divine rulers. Nearly all the great cosmologic myths forming the foundation of the various sacred books of the world are based upon the Atlantean Mystery Rituals. –The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy.

 

Modern Theosophical tradition further explains that: Shambhala, however, although no erudite Orientalist has yet succeeded in locating it geographically, is an actual land or district, the seat of the greatest brotherhood of spiritual adepts and their chiefs on earth today. From Shambhala at certain times in the history of the world, or more accurately of our own fifth root-race, come forth the messengers or envoys for spiritual and intellectual work among men.

Many people have tried finding Shambala, searching for years all around the planet.

Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D., a lecturer, author and scholar of comparative religion and mythology suggests that Shambhala is in fact round but illustrated as an eight-petalled lotus blossom, which is a symbol of the heart Chakra.

Writing in his book the Way To Shambhala, Bernbaum indicates that the way to Shabala is not CLEAR.

In fact, Shambhala is a physical place that is said to exist within the human real but is also one that is considered as a spiritual realm, not limited to the physical world.

Some might even say it is a supernatural place that even exists within ANOTHER dimension.

This article published by Michael Wood, a BBC journalist makes interesting references about Shambhala. Wood describes the kingdom of Shambhala as a lost empire ‘buried’ somewhere in the Himalayas. According to Wood, the inhabitants of Shambhala live in peace and harmony and are faithful to the principles put forth by Buddhism. Shambhala is a place where war, grief and sorrow do not exist.

The land of Shambhala lies in a valley. It is only approachable through a ring of snow peaks like the petals of a lotus … At the center is a nine-storey crystal mountain which stands over a sacred lake, and a palace adorned with lapis, coral, gems, and pearls. Shambala is a kingdom where humanity’s wisdom is spared from the destructions and corruptions of time and history, ready to save the world in its hour of need.

 The prophecy of Shambala states that each of its 32 kings will rule for 100 years. As their reigns pass, conditions in the outside world will deteriorate. Men will become obsessed with war and pursue power for its own sake and materialism will triumph over all spiritual life. Eventually, an evil tyrant will emerge to oppress the earth in a despotic reign of terror. But just when the world seems on the brink of total downfall and destruction, the mists will lift to reveal the icy mountains of Shambala. Then the 32nd king of Shambala, Rudra Cakrin, will lead a mighty army against the tyrant and his supporters and in a last great battle, they will be destroyed and peace restored. –Origins of Shangri-La By Michael Wood.

The land of Shambhala: A kingdom of another dimension?


in_the_centaurus_constellation_by_arthurblue
Image Credit

But what if Shambhala does in fact exist? What if it isn’t located within our planet but within a different dimension as many authors have proposed? What if we have not been able to find lost lands such as Shambhala and Atlantis because they reside in a different dimension currently unknown to us?

Interestingly, there are many ancient cultures which mention doorways and portals to other dimensions.

Interestingly, located in modern-day Peru, we find the “Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca. Legends speak that in the distant past, great heroes crossed into the land of the gods, enjoying a prosperous and glorious immortal life.

According to legend, during the time of the Spanish conquest, an Incan priest called Amaru Muru, from the temple of the seven rays fled from his temple with a sacred golden disk known as “the key to the gods of the seven rays.“ The priest hid in the mountains of Hayu Brand afraid that the Spanish might take the key from him.

Later the priest arrived at the “Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca, where he showed the key to several priests and shamans of the area. After they had performed a ritual, the door opened with a blue light emanating from it. The priest, Amaru Muru handed the golden disk to one of the shamans and entered the door, he was never seen again.

What if Shambala is located in another dimension? And what if all ancient cultures which speak of these ‘mythical’ lands are actually referring to the same place, located within another dimension that we today ar unable to access?

Curiously, not far from the Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca we come across the Nazca and Palpa lines.

There, among hundreds and even thousands of ancient symbols we find one that is both fascinating and mysterious and simply put, should not exist in Peru.

The Mandala is considered a ritual symbol in Indian religions and represents the universe. Today, the mandala has become a generic term used to describe any diagram, chart or geometrical pattern that represents the cosmos. The Mandala also symbolizes the notion that life is, in fact, a never ending cycle. But what is it doing in Peru? Who created it… and for what purpose?

The Ancient Hindus were among the first people on the planet to use a Mandala spiritually, but the most famous Mandala most of us know are in fact made by Buddhists. In Ancient Sanskrit, Mandala means ‘circle,’ even though the depiction of the symbol may be dominated by a set of squares or triangles, the mandala as a whole is a concentric creation.

Is it possible that the ancient mandala symbol located in the vicinity of the gate of the Gods indicates that thousands of years ago, ancient cultures were aware of the existence of other-dimensional realms like Shambala?

And if so, is it possible that the ancient Mandala symbol is the ultimate evidence that supports this theory?

Shambhala is ever vigilant in the cause of mankind: he sees all the events of earth in his ‘magic mirror’ and the might of his thought penetrates into far-off lands. Uncountable are the inhabitants of Shambhala. Numerous are the splendid new forces and achievements which are being prepared there for humanity.

(Nicholas Roerich, Shambhala: In search of the new era, Rochester, VE: Inner Traditions, 1990)


Journal Reference:

Mysteries of the Kingdom of Shambhala

 

Origins of Shangri-La

 

Shambhala & the Hollow Earth according to Ancient Buddhism | Ancient Code

“…The land of Shambhala lies in a valley. It is only approachable through a ring of snow peaks like the petals of a lotus … At the centre is a nine-storey crystal mountain which stands over a sacred lake, and a palace adorned with lapis, coral, gems and pearls. Shambala is a kingdom where humanity’s wisdom is spared from the destructions and corruptions of time and history, ready to save the world in its hour of need…”

As Russian philosopher Nicholas Roerich passed through the mountains of Central Asia in 1926, he and his guides were left fascinated when they witnessed an incredible, golden orb floating in the sky.

“…High up in the cloudless sky, they clearly saw a golden spheroidal object moving from the Altai Mountains to the north at tremendous speed. Veering sharply to the south-west, the golden sphere disappeared rapidly beyond the Humboldt Mountains.” – Chapter 4 of Invisible Eagle: The History of Nazi Occultism by Alan Baker.

Did you know that  Dr. Edmund Halley, discoverer of Comet Halley and Royal Astronomer of England also believed that the Earth was hollow on the inside with three “Floors.”

While in modern times many people have come up with a number of theories about the possibility that the Earth is hollow, in time immemorial, many cultures believed the same thing.

Descriptions of the Hollow Earth, Inner Earth and a world inside our own planet can be found in numerous ancient cultures around the globe.

What if Jules Verne’s classic “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” is actually true?

What if somewhere down there, a new world is waiting to be explored, a place where somehow, living beings inhabit the depths of our planet, a place that ancient cultures and civilizations knew existed, or still exists today.

What if, it’s actually true?

In fact, you’d be surprised to see how many ancient cultures and religions mention the existence of the world inside our planet.

Interestingly, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh visited his ancestor Utnapishtim in the bowels of the earth.

In Greek mythology, Orpheus tries to rescue Eurydice from the underground hell.

It was believed that the Pharaohs of Egypt communicated with the underworld, which could be accessed via secret tunnels hidden in the pyramids.

Also, according to the Macuxi Indians –an indigenous people who live in the Amazon, in countries such as Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela— they are the descendants of the Sun’s children, the creator of Fire and disease and the protectors of the “inner Earth.”

According to the Macuxi natives they were given the task to look out for the entrance and to keep strangers from entering the “hollow Earth.”

Legends from the Macuxi people suggest that those who enter the mysterious cavern travel for three days, only descending giant stairs, which measure around 33” each step.

After the third day, they leave behind their torches and continue their journey “into” the Earth, illuminated by lights that were already present in the caves. Giant lanterns, the size of a watermelon and shining brightly as the sun.

Buddhists believed (and still believe) that millions of people live in Agharta, an underground paradise ruled by the king of the world.

As you can see, there are numerous oral legends and ancient texts that not only speak of the hollow Earth but about mythical lands that exist on our planet.

In fact, many ancient texts can be traced back to a number of different ancient traditions that mention the existence of beings from ‘another’ world that reside WITHIN our own world.

One such world is referred to in Tibetan Buddhism and ancient Hindu traditions and is called the Shambhala.

Shambhala which is a Sanskrit word which translates to ‘place of peace’ or ‘place of silence’ is mentioned not only in Buddhism but is referred to ni ancient texts like the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient scriptures of the Zhang Zhung culture.

Shambhala is the land of the thousand names.

Shambhala is said to be a hidden kingdom that exists inside of our own planet, a magical place which we cannot possibly comprehend and is extremely difficult to find.

Spiritual place or physical location?

Interestingly, according to the Dalai Lama, and a speech he gave in 1985:

Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there. –The Esoteric Codex: Theosophy I

We can make reference to the above mentioned to the spiritual principles that once guided Atlantis, given by Greek Philosopher Plato and other scholars. Manly P. Hall a historian, author and  33rd degree Mason explained it when he wrote:

Before Atlantis sank, its spiritually illuminated Initiates, who realized that their land was doomed because it had departed from the Path of Light, withdrew from the ill-fated continent. Carrying with them the sacred and secret doctrine, these Atlanteans established themselves in Egypt, where they became its first divine rulers. Nearly all the great cosmologic myths forming the foundation of the various sacred books of the world are based upon the Atlantean Mystery Rituals. –The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy.

Modern Theosophical tradition further explains that: Shambhala, however, although no erudite Orientalist has yet succeeded in locating it geographically, is an actual land or district, the seat of the greatest brotherhood of spiritual adepts and their chiefs on earth today. From Shambhala at certain times in the history of the world, or more accurately of our own fifth root-race, come forth the messengers or envoys for spiritual and intellectual work among men.

Many people have tried finding Shambala, searching for years all around the planet.

 Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D., a lecturer, author and scholar of comparative religion and mythology suggests that Shambhala is in fact round but illustrated as an eight-petalled lotus blossom, which is a symbol of the heart Chakra.

Writing in his book the Way To Shambhala, Bernbaum indicates that the way to Shabala is not CLEAR.

In fact, Shambhala is a physical place that is said to exist within the human real but is also one that is considered as a spiritual realm, not limited to the physical world.

Some might even say it is a supernatural place that even exists within ANOTHER dimension.

This article published by Michael Wood, a BBC journalist makes interesting references about Shambhala. Wood describes the kingdom of Shambhala as a lost empire ‘buried’ somewhere in the Himalayas. According to Wood, the inhabitants of Shambhala live in peace and harmony and are faithful to the principles put forth by Buddhism. Shambhala is a place where war, grief and sorrow do not exist.

The land of Shambhala lies in a valley. It is only approachable through a ring of snow peaks like the petals of a lotus … At the center is a nine-storey crystal mountain which stands over a sacred lake, and a palace adorned with lapis, coral, gems, and pearls. Shambala is a kingdom where humanity’s wisdom is spared from the destructions and corruptions of time and history, ready to save the world in its hour of need.

 The prophecy of Shambala states that each of its 32 kings will rule for 100 years. As their reigns pass, conditions in the outside world will deteriorate. Men will become obsessed with war and pursue power for its own sake and materialism will triumph over all spiritual life. Eventually, an evil tyrant will emerge to oppress the earth in a despotic reign of terror. But just when the world seems on the brink of total downfall and destruction, the mists will lift to reveal the icy mountains of Shambala. Then the 32nd king of Shambala, Rudra Cakrin, will lead a mighty army against the tyrant and his supporters and in a last great battle, they will be destroyed and peace restored. –Origins of Shangri-La By Michael Wood.

The land of Shambhala: A kingdom of another dimension?

But what if Shambhala does in fact exist? What if it isn’t located within our planet but within a different dimension as many authors have proposed? What if we have not been able to find lost lands such as Shambhala and Atlantis because they reside in a different dimension currently unknown to us?

Interestingly, there are many ancient cultures which mention doorways and portals to other dimensions.

Interestingly, located in modern-day Peru, we find the “Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca. Legends speak that in the distant past, great heroes crossed into the land of the gods, enjoying a prosperous and glorious immortal life.

According to legend, during the time of the Spanish conquest, an Incan priest called Amaru Muru, from the temple of the seven rays fled from his temple with a sacred golden disk known as “the key to the gods of the seven rays.“ The priest hid in the mountains of Hayu Brand afraid that the Spanish might take the key from him.

Later the priest arrived at the “Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca, where he showed the key to several priests and shamans of the area. After they had performed a ritual, the door opened with a blue light emanating from it. The priest, Amaru Muru handed the golden disk to one of the shamans and entered the door, he was never seen again.

What if Shambala is located in another dimension? And what if all ancient cultures which speak of these ‘mythical’ lands are actually referring to the same place, located within another dimension that we today ar unable to access?

Curiously, not far from the Gate of the Gods” at Hayu Marca we come across the Nazca and Palpa lines.

There, among hundreds and even thousands of ancient symbols we find one that is both fascinating and mysterious and simply put, should not exist in Peru.

The Mandala is considered a ritual symbol in Indian religions and represents the universe. Today, the mandala has become a generic term used to describe any diagram, chart or geometrical pattern that represents the cosmos. The Mandala also symbolizes the notion that life is, in fact, a never ending cycle. But what is it doing in Peru? Who created it… and for what purpose?

The Ancient Hindus were among the first people on the planet to use a Mandala spiritually, but the most famous Mandala most of us know are in fact made by Buddhists. In Ancient Sanskrit, Mandala means ‘circle,’ even though the depiction of the symbol may be dominated by a set of squares or triangles, the mandala as a whole is a concentric creation.

Is it possible that the ancient mandala symbol located in the vicinity of the gate of the Gods indicates that thousands of years ago, ancient cultures were aware of the existence of other-dimensional realms like Shambala?

And if so, is it possible that the ancient Mandala symbol is the ultimate evidence that supports this theory?

Shambhala is ever vigilant in the cause of mankind: he sees all the events of earth in his ‘magic mirror’ and the might of his thought penetrates into far-off lands. Uncountable are the inhabitants of Shambhala. Numerous are the splendid new forces and achievements which are being prepared there for humanity.

(Nicholas Roerich, Shambhala: In search of the new era, Rochester, VE: Inner Traditions, 1990)

Why I swapped investment banking for Buddhism in Bhutan

Bhutan is one of the few places in the world where you can experience unbroken Buddhist culture. Spirituality is embedded in daily life here. I came because I wanted to meet monks and serious retreatants, and witness first hand what it might mean to dedicate your life to spiritual practice as a Buddhist.

Although this is the Himalayas, you don’t come to here to climb mountains. Mountains are sacred in Bhutan, as are rivers and the earth. The relationship between nature, animals and people is unique. The population is small (around 750,000) but the power of the mountains and nature is enormous. This puts humans in their place: we are not dominant, but a small part of the whole. Respect for nature here is not just lip-service, you see it in action every day. If you want to build a house, you have to ask permission of the earth, and the government ensures that the country maintains 60% forest coverage. You’ll see prayer flags on mountains and on bridges, from where the wind carries the prayers across the country.

Emma Slade in Bhutan

You don’t have to tip your head back to look at the sky; you can stare straight at it. For me, the finest view in Bhutan is from 3,100 metre Dochu-la. From this mountain pass I can admire the view, look directly at the sky, and see the stairs to my lama’s temple. I especially like the way the stability and serenity of the mountains contrasts with the clouds moving high above.

Make a point of meeting monks if you go to Bhutan. Visitors tend to emphasise the wow factor of the buildings, and miss the human element. Real Buddhist culture, and what it means in daily life, is in the people.

Memorial Chorten, Thimphu. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images

Nobody really comes to Bhutan for the food but there are surprises. Down south there are small tasty bananas, and oranges at lower altitudes. Rule number one is to watch out for the chillies. They look photogenic while drying on slatted roofs, but they are intensely fiery. They’re generously sprinkled into a dish called ema datsi, which is red rice with chillies and melted cheese. There are lots of types of tea – sweet tea, butter tea and milk tea. As an ordained nun, I don’t drink alcohol, but locals drink a strong home brew called ara made from maize and potatoes. In the capital, Thimpu, try Central Cafe: its fresh beetroot juice is excellent.

Dish of ema datshi (red rice with chillies and melted cheese). Photograph: Michael Marquand/Getty Images

In Thimphu, stay at Tashi Yoedling (doubles from £30), right by the Memorial Chorten. From its windows you can watch worshippers walking clockwise around the stupa. For fresh bagels and croissants, it’s a half-hour walk to Big Bakery, run by Draktsho, a training institute for young people with special needs.

Don’t miss the ancient capital, Punakha. Its stunning dzong (fortified monastery) sits at the convergence of two rivers, the male Pho Chhu and the female Mo Chhu.Eastern Bhutan is far less visited than the west, with amazing trekking around the semi-nomadic villages of Merak. In Paro, west of Thimphu, there’s a very small three-tiered circular temple called Dungtse Lhakhang. It’s the only one of its kind and wonderfully quiet. There’s no electricity, so take a torch.

Most visitors come in autumn or spring, when the views are best and the weather is dry, but come off peak for a quieter, more reflective experience. Winter is not depressing and grey; it’s all about fresh, clean, sharp air and beautiful blue skies. If you don’t like Christmas, consider Bhutan: there’s really no trace of it.

Punakha Dzong. Photograph: Andrew Stranovsky/Getty Images

Emma Slade is the author of Set Free: a Life-Changing Journey from Banking to Buddhism in Bhutan (Summersdale, £9.99). To buy a copy for £8.49 with UK p&p go to

Why I swapped investment banking for Buddhism in Bhutan

By Interview by Caroline Eden

Why I swapped investment banking for Buddhism in Bhutan

By Interview by Caroline Eden

‘In Bhutan, humans are not dominant, but a small part of the whole’ says Emma Slade on the Himalayan kingdom she regards as her spiritual paradise

‘Respect for nature here is not just lip-service, you see it in action every day.’ Terraced rice fields and the Mo Chhu river in Punakha. Photograph: Ira Block/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

Science and Buddhism Agree: There Is No “You” There

Science and Buddhism Agree: There Is No “You” There

As neuroscience has begun studying the mind, they have looked to those who have mastered the mind. University of British Columbia researchers have verified the Buddhist belief of anatta, or not-self.

Evan Thompson of the University of British Columbia has verified the Buddhist belief of anatta, or not-self. Neuroscience has been interested in Buddhism since the late 1980s, when the Mind and Life Institute was created by HH Dalai Lama and a team of scientists. The science that came out of those first studies gave validation to what monks have known for years — if you train your mind, you can change your brain. As neuroscience has begun studying the mind, they have looked to those who have mastered the mind.

While Buddha didn’t teach anatta to lay people, thinking it might be too confusing, the concept is centered on the idea that there is no consistent self. The belief that we are the same one moment to the next, or one year to the next, is a delusion. Thompson says that “the brain and body is constantly in flux. There is nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.”

[W]hen there is no consistent self, it means that we don’t have to take everything so personally.

It is useful to look at a video of yourself from the past, or read something you wrote years ago. Your interests, perspective, beliefs, attachments, relationships, et al, have all changed in some way. Anatta doesn’t mean there’s no you; it just means that you are constantly changing, constantly evolving, and shape-shifting. Why is this important? Why does it matter if there’s no solid “you” or “me”?

Buddhist teacher Kadam Morten Clausen says Buddhism is a science of the mind:

Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain, argues that when there is no consistent self, it means that we don’t have to take everything so personally. That is, our internal thoughts are only thoughts and don’t define us. External events are only external events and aren’t happening to us personally. Or as Tara Brach says, our thoughts are “real, but not true.”

There is tremendous liberation in not identifying ourselves with thoughts, or a set idea of who we are. It is then that we can grow and change, with the help of neuroplasticity. There is then hope that we can overcome our vices or bad habits (of mind and body), because if we aren’t stuck with the self-limiting beliefs inherent with a consistent self, we may orient ourselves toward becoming more of who we want to be.

The belief that we are the same one moment to the next, or one year to the next, is a delusion.

As science and Eastern thought continue to hang out with each other, there may be more 21st Century studies to back up 2,600-year-old thoughts. But, as HH Dalai Lama said, “Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation. … Suppose that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”

Hearing a pro-science stance from a religious leader is a relief to many. In the end it seems Buddhism and neuroscience have similar goals: What is this thing we call the mind, and how can we use it to make ourselves a little less miserable and a little happier? Maybe even just 10 percent happier, as Dan Harris wrote. If there is no consistent self, it is at least my intention that my ever-changing self be equanimous and, well, 10 percent happier. No matter who I am.

Lori Chandler is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, NY, which is the most unoriginal sentence she has ever written. You can look at her silly drawings on Tumblr, Rad Drawings, or read her silly tweets @LilBoodleChild. Enough about her, she says: how are you?

PHOTO CREDIT: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

Abd al-Ibrahim, whose home was destroyed during fighting, as he rests on his trip to supply water to his family at the house they are squatting in the northern Syrian city of Raqa. October 15, 2018. (Photo credit: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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