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The American Jewish Romance with Buddhism – Mosaic

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Of those American Buddhists whose ancestors did not come from Buddhist countries, some 30 percent are thought to be Jewish. As Emily Sigalow documents in her book American JewBu, this phenomenon can be traced back to the first person in the U.S. to convert to Buddhism (a Jewish textile merchant) and to Barry Goldwaters second cousin (a Buddhist priest), but really hit its stride after World War II, when the Beatniks discovered Buddhist meditation. Jesse Kellerman reflects on his own encounter with Buddhism in his review:

[O]n my honeymoon, my wife and I traveled through Southeast Asia. One of our first stops in Bangkok was Wat Traimit, home to a five-ton Buddha made of solid gold. Sammy, our guide, . . . handed me a small piece of gold leaf and invited me to place it as an offering. . . . I shrugged and started forward. Then my heart began to pound as I realized what was happening. At last the moment had arrived: my latent pagan nature had, somehow, come to fruition.

I could not, unfortunately, do that. I apologized. I meant no offense. I just couldnt.

This gut-level aversion to idolatry, which took Kellerman by surprise at the time, helps him realize what these Jewish Buddhists are missing:

A religion that fails to transferto other locations, other times, other mindsis not a religion; its a lone weirdo shouting on a street corner. Everywhere Buddhism has traveled, it has molded to the shape of the place: Thailand, Burma, China, the Park Slope Jewish Center. Diaspora Judaism arguably provides the best example of survival through its peculiar combination of rigidity and adaptation. At the same time, I cannot and do not want to deny the melancholy of deracination. The terror I felt in Wat Traimit, that sudden threat of loss of self, ought not to be suppressed. These tensions strengthen us; they remind us that identity is local, temporal, and anti-fragile.

Siddhartha Gautama found enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, under the Bodhi Fig Tree. My ancestors, the Levites, stood on the Temple steps, singing psalms while the priests waded barefoot through blood and sacrificial smoke.

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More about: American Jewry, Buddhism, Idolatry, Judaism

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The American Jewish Romance with Buddhism - Mosaic

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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Ernest & Dorothy Hunt: Early Links in the Golden Chain of Buddhism Coming West – Patheos

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Ernest Hunt was born in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England, on the 16th of August, in 1878.

Its said he encountered Buddhism in Asia as a merchant marine. It is said that he was preparing for ordination as an Anglican priest when he decided his heart led him to formally convert to Buddhism. One version I heard had him making the decision on the eve of his scheduled ordination. That seems unlikely, but I do like the sense of conflict and his trying to find a right path within his own life.

In 1915 Ernest and his wife Dorothy (ne Poulton) decided to move to Hawaii, which they considered still a part of the West, but where Buddhism had a significant place within the culture. In Hawaii he took a job at a sugar plantation.

Ernest was an avid student of the Buddha dharma and eventually received a degree from the Burma Buddhist Mission. Dorothy was also deeply investigating the great matter. Sadly, the sexism of the era and the lack of documentation readily available online leaves her more a shade than a fully rounded figure. In truth today Ernest is only a bit better known.

Beginning in the 1920s Ernest and Dorothy began teaching Buddhist religious education classes, mostly for the children of Japanese workers on the plantation. Within a few years nearly 13,000 children were registered in the various programs theyd established within the Honpa Hongwanji.

In 1924 Ernest and Dorothy were both ordained priests within the Shin tradition.The Honpa represent the largest of the Pure Land schools in Japan. Their continental North American branch would organize as the Buddhist Churches of America. Although as with most other Japanese sects, the Hawaiian organizations and the continental organizations would have separate institutions.

In 1926 Bishop Yemyo Imamura appointed Reverend Hunt as head of the English-language department. The initial plan was to reach out to Japanese descent people. Quickly the Hunts began to reach out to people of European descent, as well.

The Reverends Hunt began to compose various hymns and other documents. Shinkaku, his ordination name, first translated a book of ceremonies, and from there wrote various pamphlets on doctrine and other aspects of Buddhist teaching. This included a catechism for the Sunday school program. Among the notable features was how universalist his message was, usually not even mentioning the Shin schools founder Shinran Shonen.

He was a founder with the equally remarkable Robert Stuart Clifton, best known as the Venerable Sumangalo, of a Western Buddhist Order, (not to be confused with the later organization the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). By 1928 it had approximately sixty members, all converts. Reverend Shinkaku saw the order as non-sectarian. The next year he aligned this ecumenical Buddhist work with that of a Chinese missionary, the Venerable Tai Hsu. Reverend Hunts vision was focused on metta as a path of compassion and love.

Ernest Hunts pamphlet, An Outline of Buddhism: The Religion of Wisdom and Compassion would be reprinted numerous times. He wrote extensively.As well as editing four volumes of the HawaiianBuddhist Annual and the institutes magazine, Navayana,were all part of a prodigious effort to reach out to the European-descent community.

He, his spouse Dorothy, and A. Raymond Zorn collaborated in composing a number of hymns, many of which continue to be used within the larger Shin Buddhist community. They also survive in the Sutras and Gathas published by the Hawaii Soto Zen Mission. And opening the service book of the Long Brach Buddhist Church (an independent non-denominational Buddhist community not aligned with the Buddhist Churches in America) shows a number of these hymns, as well. These hymns are interesting for a number of reasons, not least their Christian and often what Id have to characterize as theosophical echoes.

Sadly Bishop Imamuradied in 1932. And his successor, Bishop Kuchiba Gikyo wanted a purer commitment to the Pure Land. And the Hunts broader, even universalist Buddhism seemed well off that mark. In 1935 Reverend Hunts project was disbanded by the new bishop.

With this the Hunts moved to the Soto community. Which at least in that moment was more receptive to their broad and ecumenical Buddhism. I also suspect their success in establishing religious education programming outweighed their light commitment to the finer nuances of Soto Zen.

In 1953 Shinkaku was ordained Osho by the Venerable Zenkyo Komagata, Sotoshu sokan, or bishop for Hawaii. With this Ernest Shinkaku Hunt became the first person of European descent to be ordained a full priest within the Soto school.

As I mentioned above, Dorothy and Ernest Hunt have mostly been lost to history. Which is too bad. Theyre both significant figures in the formation of convert Buddhism in the West.

Dorothy, for instance, composed a gatha, the Golden Chain. Slightly adapted over the years it goes:

I am a link in Amida Buddhas golden chain of love that stretches around the world. In gratitude may I keep my link bright and strong.

I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.

I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds.

May every link in Amida Buddhas golden chain of love be bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.

Promise

We thank the Buddha for showing us the way of freedom.

We will endeavor to walk in his noble path, everyday of our lives.

Mygoogle searches revealed a little about Ernest but less about Dorothy. While Ive found a couple of pictures of Ernest, I was unable to find one of her. I did, however, stumble on an obituary for their daughter, Dorothy Poulton Hunt Gillis who died in 2016 at the age of ninety-seven.

For fifty years she, the younger Dorothy, led the Island Paradise Academy in Kaimuki. The obituary notes that the school was founded by her mother who led it from the 1030s until her retirement in the 1060s. Basically, thats it.

The Golden Chain appears to be the one Dorothys many poems set to music that has continued on to this day.The Golden Chain is a beloved verse within North American Shin or Pure Land Buddhist communities, especiallythose associated with the Buddhist Churches of America. Whole generations of BCA members know this verse by heart.

Ernest Shinkaku Hunt died in Honolulu in 1968. He was 90 years old.

Dorothy, who was born in 1886, died at 97 in 1983.

However, the Golden Chain continues

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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Tara Goddess of Compassion and Savior of the Suffering – Ancient Origins

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Tara is an important bodhisattva, i.e. someone on the path towards Buddhahood, in Buddhism, especially in Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism). Tara is considered to be a female figure and there are various stories regarding how she came into being. In one of these tales, for instance, she was a princess who lived many millions of years ago, while in another, she is said to have been born from a tear of Avalokiteshvara, another bodhisattva.

Tara is most commonly regarded to be a goddess of compassion, and her two most common forms are the Green Tara and White Tara. Nevertheless, this bodhisattva also exists in various other forms on Tibetan temple banners, as many as 21 Taras may be depicted, each form having its own symbolism.

White Tara statue in Kathmandu Nepal. Source: Jerry / Adobe Stock.

The name Tara means star in Sanskrit and the bodhisattva is likened to the North Star, as it is her role to guide those who are lost onto the path of enlightenment. In the Tibetan language, she is known also as Sgrol-ma, which may be translated to mean she who saves. Once again, this name reflects the role that Tara plays in Buddhism, i.e. as a savior.

Needless to say, Tara saves the faithful by showing them the way to enlightenment. Apart from that, Tara is believed to protect her devotees from various calamities and to help them overcome the many obstacles that they may encounter in their lives.

There are a number of different tales concerning how Tara came into being. In one of these myths, she is thought to be the female counterpart of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion and mercy. In the myth, Avalokiteshvara, who worked ceaselessly for all who suffer, looked at the world, and realized that the task at hand was so much greater than he had expected. Moreover, all his hard work did little to alleviate the suffering of the world.

Avalokiteshvara, Taras male counterpart. (Pharos / Public Domain )

Realizing this, Avalokiteshvara fell into despair and began to weep. In one version, the tears of the bodhisattva fell onto the ground and formed a lake. From the waters of the lake a lotus emerged and revealed Tara as it opened.

In another, a lotus bloomed from Avalokiteshvaras tears and Tara appeared as the flower opened. Tara comforted Avalokiteshvara and told him that she would work with him to free all beings from suffering.

Another version of the story is provided by Taranatha, a Tibetan Lama who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. In this version, Tara is said to have been a mortal woman before becoming a bodhisattva. Prior to becoming a bodhisattva, Tara was a princess who lived millions of years ago.

This princess was named Yeshe Dawa, which means Moon of Primordial Awareness or Wisdom Moon. The princess was a great devotee of the Buddha of her time, Tonyo Drupa, and made many offerings to him over thousands of lifetimes. As she advanced on the path of enlightenment, she eventually came before the Buddha, and took the Bodhisattva Vow.

The monks who were present recognized her potential and urged her to pray for a male rebirth so that she may continue her progress on the path of enlightenment. The princess, however, saw the error in the monks point of view and told them that male and female are merely classifications created by the unenlightened minds of this world. The princess then made a vow as long as suffering continued in the world, she would take on a female body to lead all beings to enlightenment.

In yet another story, which was prevalent in Tibet during the 7th century AD, Tara was believed to be the incarnation of every pious woman. In particular, the bodhisattva became associated with the two wives of the first Buddhist king of Tibet, Srong-brtsan-sgam-po also written as Songsten Gampo), who is credited with the foundation of the Tibetan Empire. Srong-brtsan-sgam-pos power extended well beyond the Tibetan Plateau and he ruled over Nepal as well as parts of India and China.

As Srong-brtsan-sgam-po commissioned a court scholar to create the Tibetan written language , which is based on an Indo-European model, his reign marks the beginning of recorded history in Tibet. Furthermore, Srong-brtsan-sgam-po is credited with the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet through his two wives.

One of the kings wives was a princess from China by the name of Wencheng, while the other was a Nepalese princess by the name of Bhrikuti. Both of the kings wives are believed to be incarnations of Tara, the former being White Tara whereas the latter Green Tara.

Songtsen Gampo (center), Princess Wencheng - White Tara (right), and Princess Bhrikuti - Green Tara (left). (Mistvan / Public Domain)

Green Tara and White Tara are the two most popular forms of the bodhisattva. Green Tara is known also as Shyama Tara in Sanskrit and Sgrol-ljang in Tibetan, while White Tara is known as Sita Tara in Sanskrit and Sgrol-dkar in Tibetan. According to a variation of the myth which states that Tara emerged from the tears of Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara was born from the tears of his left eye while White Tara from those of his right eye.

The two Taras represent different values but complement each other in many ways. For instance, Green Tara is normally depicted with a half-open lotus, which represents night. While on the other hand, White Tara is usually portrayed with a lotus in full bloom, thus representing day. In some instances, White Tara is shown with three lotuses the first as a seed (representing the Buddha Kashyapa of the past), the second in full bloom (representing the present Buddha Shakyamuni), and the third is ready to bloom (representing the future Buddha Maitreya).

Green Tara is also believed to be the embodiment of activity, and in art, she is often shown in a posture of ease and readiness for action. Incidentally, green is regarded to be the color of action and accomplishment, which is the reason for the skin of Green Tara being depicted in this color. White, on the other hand, is believed to be the color of purity, wisdom, and truth, and White Tara is the embodiment of grace, serenity, and love, specifically the love of a mother for her child.

The Green Tara is known as the Buddha of enlightened activity. (Kannadiga / Public Domain )

In Tibetan iconography, Green Tara is commonly shown with her left leg folded in the contemplative position. Her right leg, however, is outstretched, indicating that she is prepared to spring into action at any given moment. Green Taras right hand is in the boon-giving mudra (gesture), which symbolizes her generosity towards all living beings, while her left hand is in the refuge mudra, denoting her role as a protectress.

Green Tara is believed to protect her followers from eight obscurations, which are as follows: lions (pride), wild elephants (delusion and ignorance), fires (hatred and anger), snakes (jealousy), bandit and thieves (wrong views, including fanatical ones), bondage (avarice and miserliness), floods (desire and attachment), and evil spirits and demons (deluded doubts).

White Tara, on the other hand, is normally shown seated in the diamond lotus position, with the soles of her feet pointing upwards. This posture is meant to symbolize the bodhisattvas grace and calm. The mudras in both of White Taras hands are the same as Green Taras. Although White Tara is supposed to represent serenity, it does not mean that she is a passive figure, as she too is believed to help her devotees overcome obstacles, especially those that block their path towards enlightenment.

It may be added that in Mongolia, there is a popular form of White Tara known as Tara of the Seven Eyes. This form of White Tara is shown with a third eye on her face, as well as an eye on each of her palms, and on the soles of her feet, making it seven in total. The seven eyes are meant to symbolize the bodhisattvas vigilance and her ability to see all the suffering in the world.

WhiteTara statue with seven eyes. (Magnus Manske / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Although Green Tara and White Tara are the most popular forms of this bodhisattva, she has other forms as well. In Tibetan temple banners, for instance, Green Tara may be depicted as the central Tara, with other Taras around her. The number of Taras on these banners frequently reach up to 21, a number that is based on an Indian text called Homage to the Twenty-One Taras , which arrived in Tibet during the 12th century.

The 20 Taras surrounding the central Green Tara are divided into four colors white, yellow, red, and black. These colors represent the four types of enlightened activity. White represents the activity of pacifying, for example, overcoming sickness, or causes of untimely death; yellow the activity of increasing, specifically ones positive qualities that would facilitate peace and happiness in ones life; red the activity of overpowering, in particular external forces that cannot be tamed through the first two activities; and black the activity of wrath, which refers to the use of forceful methods for achieving activities of enlightened purposes that cannot be attained via other means.

Green Tara in the center and the Blue, Red, White, and Yellow Taras in the corners. (Fountain Posters / Public Domain )

It may be added that in some instances, there are also blue Taras and this color is supposed to represent the subduing of anger and its transformation into compassion. Each of the 20 Taras has her own name, which include: The Invincible Queen (known also as Tara who Eliminates Conflicts and Bad Dreams, white); The Giver of Supreme Virtue (known also as Tara who Increases, yellow); The Destroyer of Opposing Forces (known also as Tara who Blazes in Flames, red); and The Invincible (known also as Tara who Crushes Others' Forces, black).

The great popularity of Tara is evident in the many works of art that depict this bodhisattva in all her forms. Apart from paintings and temple banners, statues of Tara are also very common, normally sculpted from stone or cast in metal. Such statues have found their way into the galleries of museums all around the world, far away from where they were originally made.

For instance, a statue of Tara on display in New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art is originally from the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. This statue is dated to the 14th century and is made of a gilt copper alloy with color. Additionally, the statue is richly inlaid with semi-precious stones.

The right hand of the statue is lowered, clasping a flower bud delicately, and is in the boon-giving mudra, while its left shoulder is adorned with a lotus in full bloom, and its left hand in the refuge mudra. It is speculated that this statue most likely represents White Tara, on the basis of the lotus in full bloom.

Lastly, it may be said that another statue of Tara, found in the British Museum in London, was featured on the BBCs A History of the World in 100 Objects . Unlike its counterpart in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this statue originated from Sri Lanka and was made between the 8th and 9th centuries AD. This statue, which is almost life-size, was cast in one piece of solid bronze and was gilded in gold.

Life-size sculpture of Tara cast in bronze and gilded. The eyes and the elaborately arranged hair were doubtless inlaid with precious stones. Sri Lanka, 7th - 8th century. (Mistvan / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

At this time in Sri Lanka, large bronze statues were cast by pouring the molten metal around a hollow clay core. Since this Tara was cast as a single piece of solid bronze, it means that the person who commissioned the statue was able to obtain a large quantity of this alloy. In addition, he/she would have also been able to obtain the service of a master craftsman, as great skill and experience were required for this kind of work.

As is common in the depiction of Taras, this statue is shown completely topless, with full and perfectly rounded breasts. Interestingly, when the statue first arrived in the British Museum during the 1830s, it was considered to be overly erotic and did not suit the sensibilities of the British public at the time. Therefore, it was immediately kept in the storerooms for the next 30 years and permission to view the object was only granted to specialist scholars upon request.

The ancient people of Sri Lanka, however, had no problem merging divinity and sensuality. The huge amount of resources needed to create the statue, as well as the way the ancient inhabitants of Sri Lankans perceived religion are just some of the many fascinating details revealed by the statue. Other information revealed by this statue include trade, not only in goods, but also in ideas and relations between the different religions and linguistic groups in that part of the world during the late 1st millennium AD.

Top image: Buddhist goddess. Credit: neenawat555 / Adobe Stock

By Wu Mingren

Buddhism and Religions. 2013. Tara - Mother of Tibetan Buddhism . [Online] Available at: https://buddhism.redzambala.com/buddhism/buddha-aspects/tara-mother-of-t...

Kane, L. 2015. Limitless Tara, Beyond the Green: Buddha, Bodhisattva, Savior, Mother of all the Buddhas, Hindu Maa Tara, Goddess of Many Colors, Consort of Buddhas, Wisdom Mother, Action Hero . [Online] Available at: https://buddhaweekly.com/limitless-tara-beyond-green-buddha-bodhisattva-savior-mother-buddhas-hindu-maa-tara-goddess-many-colors-consort-buddhas-wisdom-mother-action-hero/

Larson, K. 2005. When Buddha Chooses to Be a Woman . [Online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/07/arts/design/when-buddha-chooses-to-be-a-woman.html

Maitreya Project. 2019. Tara - The Mother of All Buddhas . [Online] Available at: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Subjects/Tantra/Practices-%20%28Sadhanas%20and%20commentaries%29/Tara/Tara%20-%20The%20Mother%20of%20All%20Buddhas/Tara,%20the%20Mother%20of%20all%20Buddhas.htm

Mull, A. 2004. Tara and Tibetan Buddhism: The Emergence of the Feminine Divine . [Online] Available at: https://abroad.emory.edu/_customtags/ct_FileRetrieve.cfm?File_ID=5997

O'Brien, B. 2018. Buddhist Goddess and Archetype of Compassion . [Online] Available at: https://www.learnreligions.com/tara-archetype-of-compassion-450180

ReligionFacts. 2017. Tara. [Online] Available at: http://www.religionfacts.com/tara

The BBC. 2014. E pisode 54 - Statue of Tara . [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/transcripts/episode54/

The British Museum. 2019. Gilded bronze figure of Tara;The goddess Tara . [Online] Available at: https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=251954&partId=1

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Avalokiteshvara. [Online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Avalokiteshvara

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2019. Srong-brtsan-sgam-po. [Online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Srong-brtsan-sgam-po

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2017. Tara. [Online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tara-Buddhist-goddess

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2019. Tara, the Buddhist Savior . [Online] Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/50799

Watt, J. 2012. Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Who Is Tara? . [Online] Available at: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/himalayan-buddhist-art-101-who-tara/

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Tara Goddess of Compassion and Savior of the Suffering - Ancient Origins

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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Buddhism and poetry in Japan during the Nara Period – Modern Tokyo Times

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Buddhism and poetry in Japan during the Nara Period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yamabe no Akahito belongs to the world of eighth-century Japan when Nara was the cradle of high culture in this nation. In truth, the jigsaw of his life is extremely difficult to piece together. Hence, his relationship with the devoutly Buddhist Emperor Shmu is of major importance.

Indeed, much of the poems that endure the passages of time are related to Shmu. This relates to Yamabe composing poems during the journeys of the Emperor. Therefore, one can imagine privilege, high culture, meeting people of influence, and visiting the holy places of Buddhism and Shintoism.

In a lovely poem by Yamabe, he gracefully writes:

When lily-seed dark Night has fallen, By the red-oak growing Along the clear rivers edge The plovers constantly call

By reading such words of simplicity but full of grace one can imagine the serene view that was bestowed on Yamabe during his travels. So images conjure the mind based on such lovely words and one can only imagine a blissful still night by the river.

In a past article, I comment, His fifty surviving exquisite poems written between 724-736 enabled this poet to become one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. These poems were written in the Manyoshu an ancient anthology that contains his sublime work. Of the fifty poems, thirteen are choka (long poems) and the other thirty-seven are tanka (short poems).

The poem below, says more about the values of the time and how faith and nature naturally overlapped. Immediately, you can feel the past of Shintoism and the current trends of the impact of Buddhism. Therefore, the poem titled All-Knowing speaks more to the historical soul and sheds light on the mysterious properties of nature influenced by Shintoism.

All-knowing, My great lord: From the eternal palace, Wherein we serve, On the field of Sahiga, Looking back At the isles far offshore: Where on the fresh, clean shoreline With the blowing of the wind, Breakers roar And with the ebbing of the tide, They go cutting jewelled seaweed: From the age of gods An awesome, Jewelled mountain isle.

Turning to Emperor Shmu, his legacy is multiple in relation to Nara and encompassing the whole of Japan. This notably relates to the provincial temples system that entrenched Buddhism to a much greater degree. Shmu also commissioned the spring and autumnal equinox to be observed under the ohigan holiday. Also, after abdicating, Shmu became a holy Buddhist priest the first emperor to retire and take up Buddhist robes. Interestingly, Shmu is venerated in Nara at a memorial belonging to the Shinto faith. Therefore, the fusions of Buddhism and Shintoism in life followed equally in death.

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/lily-seed/ Lily-Seed by Yamabe no Akahito

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/all-knowing-the-eternal-palace/ All-Knowing by Yamabe no Akahito

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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The mysterious Irishman who was the first westerner ordained a Buddhist monk – The Irish Times

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Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 07:10 Updated: Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 09:45

U Dhammaloka dressed in the traditional attire of a Burmese monk in 1902. Photograph: The Buddhist Society

The first Irish people to set foot in what is now Argentina were two cabin boys from Galway, William and John, who were brothers but their surnames were not recorded. The pairsailed with Ferdinand Magellan during the first successful expedition to circumnavigation the world in 1520. Francis ONeill, a young emigrant who also served in such a capacity aboard a transatlantic sailing vessel would later go on to become chief of police in Chicago and a man who, more than any other, helped to preserve Irelands rich traditional music heritage. In the early 1870s another Irish-born cabin boy arrived on the shores of the eastern United States and began a remarkable journey that would take him across two continents and into the history books.

Likely a native of Booterstown in Co Dublin our mysterious emigrant appears to have gone by many names. At one time or another he referred to himself as Laurence Carroll, William Colvin or Lawrence ORourke alongside a number of other aliases. Once in the US he effectively became a migrant labourer and worked a series of odd jobs all across the country that eventually took him to the west coast. Having been effectively homeless for over a decade he often found himself an adversary of local lawmen and railway security alike, the latter because of his habit of sneaking aboard freight cars and riding the rails for free. Were told he also had a propensity for violence and a predilection for alcohol, and may have immersed himself in trade unionism, anarchism or another form of anti-establishment radicalism. By the early 1880s he was once again working at sea, this time aboard packet ships in the Pacific before staying behind in Yokohama in Japan, perhaps against his will.

From Japan he made his way to south-east Asia eventually arriving in the British-controlled region of the recently truncated Kingdom of Burma prior to its complete annexation by the British Empire in 1885. Having initially worked in Lower Burma as a tally clerk in the port of Rangoon (Yangon) he met many Burmese monks and began to take a keen interest in Theravada Buddhism, the dominant local religion in the region. He ended up living in the Tavoy monastery and soon decided to become a novice monk himself. After a five-year novitiate he was ordained a Bhikku or full monk, and adopted the name Dhammaloka. It is most likely that this ceremony took place prior to 1899, which would mean he may potentially hold the distinction of becoming the first westerner to become a Buddhist monk.

After a brief period teaching students and novices at the monastery he embarked on a speaking tour across the country and further afield visiting and founding schools and associations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore, Siam (Thailand), Japan, Malaysia and even Australia. He soon began to speak out against the activities of Christian missionaries and denounced their attempts to undermine the Buddhist faith of the Burmese people. His speeches frequently rebuked British colonials for failing to respect the religious and societal norms of the locals and his criticisms of the work of the proselyting Baptists, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and others were often merely veiled attacks on imperialism itself. His campaigns should be viewed within the context of the wider pan-Asian Buddhist Revival primarily sparked by western colonialism and modernity taking place across the continent at the same time that he played a key role in.

He quickly attained celebrity status and his position as a white European who nevertheless actively resisted the colonial system meant he was uniquely positioned to communicate the plight of the Burmese people internationally, and even to challenge the proclamations of the missionaries themselves on theological grounds. The British administration grew frustrated with his efforts to undermine their authority and fearful that his vitriolic public speeches would enflame the large crowds who came to hear him speak and rouse them into open rebellion. He was charged with and found guilty of sedition in a celebrated trial and following a failed appeal against the sentence in early 1911 appears to have left the country, possibly moving to Bangkok.

This firebrand Irishman, who won the respect and admiration of the Burmese people, was widely forgotten in his native country for most of the 20th century. However thanks largely to the efforts of an international research network led by Dr Laurence Cox of Maynooth University, Dr Alicia Turner of York University in Toronto and Prof Brian Bocking of University College Cork we now know a great deal more about the enigmatic migr Dubliner.

This Extraordinary Emigrants article was written by Nathan Mannion, senior curator of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublins Docklands, an interactive museum that tells the story of how the Irish shaped and influenced the world.

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The mysterious Irishman who was the first westerner ordained a Buddhist monk - The Irish Times

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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CHINA Sichuan, the government closes a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers – AsiaNews

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Beijing saysactivities carried out within the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom are"illegal". For the Tibetan diaspora, the goal is to reduce the religious and moral influence of the founding monk, a disciple of the Larung Gar academy.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Beijing government has closed a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers in Sichuan. This was reported by the director of the centers, Khenpo Sodargye, founder of the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom, with various offices in the Chinese province.

According to the authorities, "illegal activities" are carried out within the centers. NGO International Campaign for Tibet (Ict), broke the news claimingthe goal instead isto "limit the religious and moral influence" of the monk, a disciple of the famous Tibetan study center Larung Gar, who has been targeted by Beijing for several years.

The founder of the Institute declares that all prayer centers have been closed since 30 December. In his interview yesterday with Ict, a Washington-based association that defends the Tibetan cause, he stresses that "he will continue to love the nation as well as religion." Then he asked people to ignore any fundraising requests made on behalf of the Institute.

The Sodargye network is affiliated to the Larung Gar center (in Garze, western Sichuan). It is one of the most important Buddhist academies built in the 1980s thanks to the commitment of the monk Jigme Phuntsok, who attracted tens of thousands of faithful and monks around him to deepen their faith and study the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.

Since 2004, the year of the founder's death, the center has been run by a group of authoritative monks, chosen democratically. Subsequently, since 2017, the Sichuan prefecture has entrusted the management to six Tibetans, all members of the Chinese Communist Party. The hill on which the academy stands was also targeted by the authorities: in 2016 an urban restructuring was ordered, which in fact destroyed many homes and chased away most of the residents.

According to Radio Free Asia, between 2017 and 2018 the Chinese authorities removed at least 4,820 monks and nuns, forcing them to return to their countries of origin, depriving them of the opportunity to deepen their religious formation. In addition, since 2001 they have destroyed about 7 thousand monastic residences. According to Ict, the expulsions and demolitions in Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, another Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of "a political strategy in progress", aimed at controlling the influence and growth of "these important centers of study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism ".

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CHINA Sichuan, the government closes a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers - AsiaNews

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:44 pm

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After you have a panic attack on live TV, being 10 percent happier is a good start to a changed life – The Boston Globe

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His heart was beating as if it would burst through his chest. He had trouble breathing.

It felt like the world was ending, he said.

Harris grew up in Newton. His mother was a pathologist at Mass. General. His father was the chief of radiation oncology at the Brigham. Harriss first stop was a doctor, who concluded the panic attack was the result of his using cocaine and ecstasy, sporadic self-medication that began after spending several years covering war in the Middle East.

He had a disturbing realization. He liked the adrenaline rush he got from war reporting. He was using drugs to re-create it.

I knew I had to change things, he said.

By coincidence, Peter Jennings, his boss and mentor at ABC, put him on the faith and spirituality beat. Just by doing his job, he got interested in meditation.

A lifelong agnostic, he brought along a healthy sense of skepticism, wary of the gurus in flowing robes and New Age sloganeering.

One of his ABC colleagues, Felicia Biberica, recommended a book by Eckhart Tolle, a German-born spiritual author. At first, Harris dismissed it as hippy codswallop. But Tolle triggered something, if only the realization that we all have a voice in our head, a voice that often tells us to do the things we regret.

Harris interviewed Tolle, finding him correct, but not useful. He tells us how our minds work, but not what we can do about it.

Harriss wife, a physician, responded to that complaint by giving him a book by Mark Epstein, a psychiatrist who writes about the overlap of psychology and Buddhism.

The Buddha had something you can do: meditation, Harris said. I had two thoughts: I should start doing this, and its a good story.

Harris read a lot. The books helped, but they also left him thinking he could make all the flowery language and emerging science more accessible, less intimidating to a much wider audience.

I spent five years writing a book, he said.

He got the title for it when another colleague, Chris Sebastian, expressed astonishment that he went on a meditation retreat in Barre, in central Massachusetts.

It makes me 10 percent happier, Harris told her.

Harriss 2014 book, 10% Happier, was a New York Times bestseller. He resisted a publishers suggestion to up the percentage in the title.

There are no silver bullets, he said, meaning you have to do the work, which for him was meditating up to two hours a day. Joseph Goldstein, the teacher who had the biggest impact on Harris, still lives at the Buddhist center in Barre.

Harris acknowledges that as a natural skeptic, he is the most unlikely meditation evangelist. But the science, and even his wife, tells him meditation can make him happier and, as he likes to put it, less of a jerk. Hes wary of calling himself a Buddhist.

I dont view Buddhism as a religion, he said. Theres an expression I like: Its not something to believe in, its something to do.

He created a free Ten Percent Happier podcast with ABC, which produced its 220th episode this week, and a paid subscription app that he runs himself with a staff that works out of a nondescript office in downtown Boston.

I wonder, would I keep going on retreats and practice and read if it wasnt my job? he says. My sense is I would. Its something Im deeply drawn to. Its useful that I get paid to do this. But at the end of the day, Im a storyteller and this is constantly fueling the content.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.

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After you have a panic attack on live TV, being 10 percent happier is a good start to a changed life - The Boston Globe

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Protection of Sinhala Buddhists will ensure religious freedom – PM – Ceylon Daily News

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DONATION OF TRIPITAKA TABS TO MAHA SANGHA: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa donated Tablet PCs containing the Tripitaka to the Maha Sangha at the Vibhajjavada Dhamma Sangayana event held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Picture courtesy Presidents Media Division.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that religious freedom within the country will be ensured only if Sinhala Buddhists are protected.

A unitary state, safeguarding the Buddhists and Sinhalese are all combined together. When we go back in history, it is clearly visible that religious freedom within the country will be secure and strengthened only if the Sinhala Buddhists are protected.

The Sinhala Buddhists are capable of ensuring the freedom of other religions, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at an event held to donate Tripitaka and Atta Katha in digital format to 5,000 members of the Maha Sangha at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium last Saturday (4).

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa further said that even though new technology is misused in several ways, the importance of technology is highlighted in meritorious acts like this.

In order to protect and nurture Buddhism , Labunoruwakanda Aranya Senasanaya under the guidance of Dharmacharya Ven. Mankadawala Sudassana Thera organized this event to donate Tripitaka Dhamma scripts, Atta Katha, Pali-Sinhala dictionaries in digital format to 5,000 monks.

It is not practicable to print huge number of books including Tripitaka Dhamma scripts and Atta Katha.But with the technology we can guarantee that every Buddhist monk possesses Tripitaka Dhamma scripts and Atta Katha, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister further said that the Tripitakaya is an important part of the worlds intellectual heritage.

Eventhough the origins of Buddhism are not initiated from Sri Lanka,we are the protectors of Theravada Buddhism. New technology must be used for the propagation of Buddhism. Buddhists across the world should appreciate the efforts taken by the Labunoruwakanda Aranya Senasanaya for safeguarding Buddhism, he added.

The Prime Minister said that when considering the results of the last Presidential election it is clearly visible that any force that moves against Buddhism is rejected by the general public.

We also must think twice regarding the fate of Buddhism, if the forces that moved against the Sinhalese and Buddhists came into power. We must be strong after facing all these challenges. The Maha Sangha played the most pivotal role by helping to save the country, Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa also pledged his fullest support for the uplift of the Buddha Sasana and considered that donating tablets containing the Tripitaka, Atta Katha and Pali-Sinhala dictionaries is a great move to uplift the entire nation.

The Vibhajjavada Dhamma Sangayana organized the ceremony to donate Tripitaka Dhamma scripts to 5,000 monks for the continued sustenance of Buddhism.

The concluding ceremony of the event was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

This Dhamma Sangayana was organized by Labunoruwa Aranya Senasana under the guidance of Dharmacharya Ven. Mankadawala Sudassana Thera of the Labunorukanda Aranya in Anuradhapura and Sasanadhipathi Shashrapathi Rajakeeya Panditha Ven. Kothmale Kumara Kassapa Thera.

The event included orations and an open discussion with the participation of members of the Maha Sangha to discuss ways and means of preserving the original teachings of the Buddha.

The meritorious act of presenting Tripitaka and Atta Katha in digital format to 5000 members of the clergy was also held.

The President and the Prime Minister presented Tripitaka tabs to Maha Sanga.

The 10-year Vibhajjavadee Plan for the uplift of Buddhism and the proposal to set up Theravada Dhamma Script Donation Fund to provide Tripitaka Dhamma texts to temples around the country free of charge were also presented to the President and the Prime Minister.

The Maha Sangha including the Maha Nayake Theras of the Tri-Nikayas and Anu Nayake Theras, former President Maithripala Sirisena, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Ministers and MPs participated on this occasion.

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Protection of Sinhala Buddhists will ensure religious freedom - PM - Ceylon Daily News

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The Buddhas Words Open Up Ancient Worlds at the British Library – Tricycle

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A new exhibition draws on a massive collection of rare texts and early printed works to trace the dharma throughout the ages.

Buddhism has one of the richest textual traditions of any world religion. While many Buddhist teachings implore us to look beyond our language and concepts, the written word and awakening have been closely connected since the earliest days of the dharma.The British Library recently opened a major new exhibitionsimply called Buddhismthat explores this important relationship between textuality and spirituality with a collection that spans around 20 countries and 2,000 years.

We have designed the exhibit with everyone in mind, said lead curator Jana Igunma. We wanted to display the diversity of Buddhist art and, at the same time, show the strong continuity of the life of the Buddha and his teachings in scripture. Accompanying the librarys largest-ever display of Buddhist treasures will be a series of meditation classes and lectures on Buddhist art history, music, dance, ethics, the contributions of women, calligraphy, and more. The events program will conclude with a two-day international conference on translation, transmission, and the preservation of Buddhist texts and practices from February 78, 2020. Buddhism runs through February 23.

The exhibition begins by recounting the life of the Buddha and his past lives through scripture, sculpture, scroll paintings, and votive objects. From his enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and first sermon at Deer Park to his passing away (mahaparinirvana) and the distribution of his relics, viewers will gain a fuller picture of how the Buddhas long career was artistically represented and understood within and outside the Buddhist world. We see the Buddhas miraculous birth at Lumbini Grove in a woodblock print from Eastern Tibet, his encounter with the four sights (Siddhartha Gautamas first inspiration to end suffering: an elderly man, a sick man, a deceased man, and an ascetic) in a hand-painted Chinese book, his renunciation of royal privilege and family life in a 7.6-meter-long Burmese accordion-style codex, and his temptation by the demon Mara is depicted in vivid colors in a Nepalese translation of the Lalitavistara Sutra.

Nearby is a 15th-century copy of the book Barlaam and Josaphat, a Christian romance inspired by the life of the Buddha, opened to a page with an engraving of Josaphat, the Christianized Prince Siddhartha (whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word for bodhisattva), giving up his worldly life. Printed in Germany around 1470, this story was the Middle Ages equivalent of a bestseller, and it saw many translations, including Arabic, Georgian, Hebrew, Slavic, and Ethiopic versions.

European encounters with Buddhism are not the main focus, but there are traces of British patronage and power throughout the exhibition. This is intentional, and part of a wider effort of British institutions to confront their colonial histories and explore alternative ways of exhibiting Asian objects, many of which were stolen or otherwise procured during the countrys imperial expansion.

A contemporary Thai-style thangka painting, for example, depicts traditional scenes from the Vessantara Jataka, one of the Buddhas birth tales in which he perfected generosity. Occupying the typical place for donors on the composition are William Shakespeare and English officialsa playful and somewhat satirical nod to the British Library, which commissioned the piece in 2019.

For many, the stories in these illuminated scriptures may raise the question of whether the Buddha was a historical or purely mythical figure. While interesting, this question is not the best way to approach the exhibit or the tradition itself, explained Vishvapani Blomfield, an author and Triratna Buddhist meditation teacher, during his inaugural lecture at the library on October 25. Instead, he argued, viewers should use their imagination to enter the mental world that these texts evoke and describe, so we can come closer to seeing them in their full context.

Some of the more remarkable texts invite us to stretch our imagination back to the early centuries CE. A collection of 2,000-year-old birch bark scroll fragments contain texts from the Tripitaka (the three baskets comprising the Theravada Buddhist canon) and are among the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts in the world. It was discovered inside a clay water vessel in the historical region of Gandhara (located in modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), which was a vibrant center of cultural exchange on the Silk Road that enabled Buddhism to spread from India to East Asia. Other fragments from the Buddhist canon in the exhibit date back to the 5th century. Written in Pyu script and hammered onto gold sheets, extracts from the Vinaya Pitaka, excavated in Burma in the late 1890s, spell out rules of discipline for Theravadan monastics.

The Hyakumant Dharani or One Million Pagoda Dharani, dating 764-770 CE. Courtesy British Library Board Illustrated palm leaf Pancharaksha, from 12th-century Nepal. Courtesy British Library Board

Another emphasis in the collection is how the spread of Buddhist ideas and value systems across Asia impacted the development of new writing and printing techniques. The Hyakumanto Dharani, or One Million Pagoda Dharani [a chant or incantation] commissioned in the late 760s under Japanese Empress Shotoku, is one of the oldest existing examples of printing in Japan (and in the world). Likewise, the illustrated palm leaf Pancharaksha, a ritual text on the Five Protectors from 12th-century Nepal, testifies to the printing technologies being developed in the medieval period. There is even a station where you can touch some of the materials commonly used in manuscript production, such as palm leaves, mulberry paper, and silk. Made from paper, wood, cloth, mother of pearl, ivory, or gold, the 120 illuminated texts are exceptionally varied, but the care put into each work binds them.

Other works, like the Jataka Tales from Southeast Asia, are filled with folk wisdom and lessons about virtuous qualities. The collection also contains rare copies of the Lotus Sutra found in caves near Dunhuang, China, and various translations of the Diamond Sutra from China, Tibet, and Koreakey Mahayana sutras that convey cornerstone philosophical tenets, including Buddhist teachings on non-attachment and emptiness.

Despite the exhibitions heavy focus on text, Buddhism is not all about doctrine. It has flourished over the millennia through the living practices of its devotees, and the final section of the gallery contextualizes this idea. Copying the words of the Buddha was and still is considered a highly meritorious act. Memorizing, chanting, and listening to the recitation of sutras remains a significant part of ritual life for monastic and lay communities worldwide. The library further encourages an experiential understanding of the displayed works through an accompanying soundscape, an ambient blend of birdsong, flowing water, and gongs.

Just before leaving, viewers will pass three short films by Hong Kong-based visual artist Stanley Wong that bring to life a popular passage from the Heart Sutra, one of the many sutras found in a body of literature known as the Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Wisdom. With a calligraphy brush and wet ink, the artist paints the words form is emptiness, emptiness is form in large Chinese characters on paved ground. Once etched, the inscription quickly fades away.

The same principle can be applied to the words of the Buddha. Scripture from antiquity to the present may be preserved in libraries and museums, but, as the Buddhism exhibition makes clear through its collection, the enduring resonance of the Buddhas teachings comes from the way they are rewritten into peoples lives in each and every era.

Buddhism is on display at the British Library through February 23, 2020. Tickets for the exhibition and events program can be purchased here: http://www.bl.uk

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The Buddhas Words Open Up Ancient Worlds at the British Library - Tricycle

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December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

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Buddhist Drug and Alcohol Rehab – Addiction Center

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As is the case with all religions, practitioners of Buddhism sometimes suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol. If this happens, experts agree that the best way to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety is to attend a treatment program where patients receive professional help and support. Luckily, there are many Buddhist drug and alcohol rehab options available, along with many other non-Buddhist programs that offer quality care and dedicated support to Buddhists seeking recovery.

Buddhism is a religion that promotes themes such as karma, reincarnation, compassion, and non-attachment.

Buddhism contain several principles that can help condition someone to abstain or reduce dependency on harmful chemicals. Like the 12 Steps, Buddhisms spiritual concepts can help teach someone about deeper values and accountability. In understanding how cravings and attachment work in a Buddhist context, individuals can apply these principles to substance use disorders and consider this in addition to detox and medications in treatment. Two collections of doctrines used to reduce suffering include the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The term dukkha represents suffering that is inevitable in humankind. To exist is to suffer, and it cannot be avoided.

We cause our suffering by craving and failing to be accountable. Oftentimes, we can blame others before taking accountability for our shortcomings and cravings. The Buddha believes the root of suffering is purely mental and clinging to things that hurt us.

Ending cravings starts with letting go of the things we are attached to. This can include unhealthy or healthy relationshipsand unhealthy substances, modes of thoughts, or habits. We can change our beliefs and the way we react to external events. Understanding that life is temporary can encourage us to release things which cause suffering.

One way to escape suffering and gain enlightenment is through the Eightfold Path. This is a set of principles which encourage a Buddhist lifestyle that can produce peace, balance, and self-control. The Eightfold Path, sometimes called The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows:

Attachment can manifest in trauma, self-destructive habits, or negative lifestyle practices. Buddhist non-attachment encourages peace of mind and self-preservation. Factoring the idea of non-attachment in alcohol or drugs with the awareness that meditation can bring peace is a powerful step in attaining positive change. Buddhism also mirrors spiritual themes in 12-Step programs such as embracing a higher power and taking control of ones life. Life can range from relationships, to the relationship with ones self and ones habits. For example, Step 1 of the 12 Steps admits to powerlessness. Understanding one is powerless can signal the suffering those battling withdrawals and cravings for harmful substances experience.

Taking inventory of ones thoughts, words and actions bear a similarity to mindfulness. This is the act of practicing self-awareness and observing thoughts, usually in a meditative state, and allowing them to pass without attachment or judgement. Once individuals seeking recovery in treatment facilities gain exposure to such ideas, undergo traditional treatment methods, and meditate, true change can begin.

Fighting addiction brings several discouraging and difficult symptoms; shame, guilt, and a loss of control are a few common side effects. Thankfully, there are facilities available to assist you in overcoming substance abuse problems with themes of meditation, mindfulness, and faith-based 12-Step programs. Take charge of your future, and contact a dedicated treatment professional today.

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December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

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