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Buddhist teacher shares practical tools that relieved his self-hatred, worry – The Durango Herald

Posted: October 29, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Yong Oh was searching for a refuge from his stress and negative emotions 13 years ago when he committed to Buddhist teachings.

It felt like I was being tossed and turned by my mind, said Oh, a teacher at the Durango Dharma Center.

Nationally, many are turning to meditation and mindfulness rooted in Buddhism in search of peace from internal strife, he said. The National Center for Health Statistics found late last year that 14.2% of adults were meditating in 2017, up from 4.1% in 2012.

In Ohs case, the Buddhist teachings have provided relief from self-judgment, self-hatred and worry.

The practice also helped him cope with tragedy. A car crash four years ago killed his father and left his mother with brain damage, he said. After the accident, he became his mothers caretaker and later took on an intense travel schedule to learn the Buddhist teachings.

There is no way, I think, I could have managed it without this practice, he said.

Oh, 47, now shares Buddhist practices with others at retreats across the country and as a member of the Dharma Centers spiritual leadership council. He also answers questions from meditation practitioners on Ten Percent Happier, a phone app for people seeking to improve their sleep, mindfulness and relationships.

He is the first new member on the Dharma Centers spiritual leadership council in eight years and was invited to join because of his deep level of training, said Erin Treat, the resident teacher.

Having Yong join our council means theres a deepened breadth and depth of local leadership, she said.

The Durango Dharma Center attracts about 130 residents to weekly Monday night meetings and is growing, she said.

Oh said he now enjoys teaching, but it was tough at first as an introvert something that had guided his life in the past.

Overcoming obstaclesAs an introvert, Oh was drawn to a career in acupuncture.

Previously, he worked as a graphic designer in New York City. He left the city in 2006 to practice acupuncture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and dove into his Buddhist practice. Oh was born in South Korea, and his heritage may have influenced his interest in the practice, he said.

He loved the practice and eventually started teaching, but found it excruciating in the beginning because he was afraid of public speaking. At one point, on his way to teach a class, he remembered thinking: Maybe if I get into a car accident, I wont have to teach, he said.

But Oh kept saying yes to training opportunities to further his teaching abilities. He is now in a four-year program through the Insight Meditation Society, learning to lead residential meditation retreats.

At some point, I started to enjoy it rather than it being an ordeal I just had to endure and get through, he said.

He moved to Durango about three years ago and was drawn by the size and caliber of the Dharma Center.

Center board member and volunteer Kate Siber said she appreciates Ohs style of teaching and the example he sets for practitioners.

There is something about his presence that feels very calm and grounded and steady, and that can be very supportive to people, she said.

The meditation practice itself helps practitioners achieve greater resilience to stress and respond to life events from a place of balance and clarity, Siber said.

Mindfulness has the power to amplify the joyful things and the wonderful things of life and also seems to make the challenging things land more softly, Siber said.

To help more people feel comfortable at the Dharma Center, Oh started the People of Color Sangha over the summer. Sangha means community.

While Buddhism was practiced for thousands of years in Asia, the Insight Meditation tradition that Oh is training in was brought to the U.S. in the 1970s by American Jewish teachers who learned the practices while traveling in Asia. In the decades since, the practice has drawn many white, upper class practitioners, Oh said.

There have been people who have been attracted to dharma who havent felt welcome or safe, or its just been too intimidating to go into a place where they are going to be the only person of color, he said.

The new group at the Durango Dharma Center is intended to help those who self-identify as a person of color to find support.

The idea isnt that we are trying to separate ourselves out. Its a little bit of extra support for people who might need it, he said.

The center has also started a group for those who are gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex, queer and nonbinary.

The groups are intended to create deliberate spaces of belonging to encourage an environment of ease, relaxation and trust, Treat said.

Its a deeper culture of belonging and welcome, she said.

The groups also represent the growth of mindfulness practice and Buddhism in town, she said.

There is a group for nearly everyone who wants to participate, she said.

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Buddhist teacher shares practical tools that relieved his self-hatred, worry - The Durango Herald

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Buddhist art and origins at London display – Outlook India

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Buddhist art and origins at London display

London, Oct 29 (IANSlife) Now open at Londons British Library, a significant exhibition on Buddhism is exploring the roots, philosophy and contemporary relevance of one of the worlds major religions, from its beginnings in north India in the 6th century BCE, to having over 500 million followers across the world today.

Titled ''Buddhism'', the magnificent 120-object show has on display rare treasures, from colourful scrolls, painted wall hangings to embellished folding books, highlighting the art contained within Buddhist manuscripts and early printed works.

The exhibition also features contemporary art from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan as well as ritual objects used in Buddhist practice that provide a window into everyday life in Buddhist communities in the 21st century.

Encompassing the life of the Buddha, Buddhist philosophy, the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist practice today, highlight items include:

1. A 7.6 metre-long 19th century Burmese illustrated manuscript detailing the early life of the Buddha.

2. The most comprehensive woodblock-printed work depicting and describing scenes from the life of the Buddha, including 208 beautiful hand-coloured illustrations from China, created in 1808.

3. A copy of the Lotus Sutra in a lavishly decorated scroll from Japan, written in gold and silver ink on indigo-dyed paper dating back to 1636, one of the most popular and most influential Buddhist texts of Mahayana Buddhism.

4. A rare Buddhist manuscript in the shape of a bar of gold from Thailand dated 1917, known as ''Sankhara bhajani kyam'', going on display for the first time.

5. The ''Hyakumanto darani'' or ''One Million Pagoda Dharani,'' the oldest extant examples of printing in Japan and some of the earliest in the world, dating 764-770 CE.

6. One of the oldest illustrated extant palm leaf manuscripts, ''Pancharaksha'', an illustrated ritual text on the Five Protections from Nepal, dated 1130-1150 CE.

7. A lavishly gilded and lacquered Thai palm leaf manuscript with new research revealing it was commissioned by a queen of Siam, with a silk cover designed by her, demonstrating the role of women in Buddhism, 19th century.

8. An 18th-century copy of the Tibetan Book ''Bar do thos grol'', a guide through the stages between death and rebirth, commonly known in the West as ''Tibetan Book of the Dead,'' which helped popularise Buddhism in the 20th century in Europe.

It runs from October 25, 2019 to February 23, 2020 and spans 20 countries over 2,000 years.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at



Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: IANS

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Buddhist art and origins at London display - Outlook India

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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1,500 Dalits from across Gujarat embrace Buddhism for equality – The Indian Express

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Buddhist monks at an event organised by Gujarat chapter of Buddhas Light International Association, an international Buddhist organisation, in Ahmedabad, on Sunday. (Express Photo: Javed Raja)

Around 1,500 Dalits from different parts of Gujarat resolved to follow Buddhism at a function organised at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial in Shahibaug area of Ahmedabad on Sunday.

The function, organised by the Gujarat chapter of Buddhas Light International Association (BLIA), an international Buddhist organisation, was presided over by Hsin Bau, the religious head of BLIA, and Buddhist monk from Taiwan. A number of Buddhist monks from India and abroad took part. People took the pledge to follow Buddhism after getting themselves registered with BLIA for the function.

Those who were present on the occasion included former BLIA president of Gujarat chapter and current Congress MLA from Dasada constituency Naushad Solanki and former BJP MP Ratilal Varma.

Current president of Gujarat chapter of BLIA Tushar Shripal said nearly 1,400 persons got themselves registered for the programme. Solanki, an Elder Adviser of BLIA in Gujarat, said that there were many people among the 1,400-odd people who took the pledge to follow Buddhism for the first time.

Manjula Makwana, a resident of Surendranagar in Saurashtra, who embraced Buddhism along with her husband, Ghanshyam Makwana, and three children at the function, said, Equality is the only reason for us to embrace Buddhism. As Hindus we did not find equality We are witnessing lot of discrimination and atrocities against people of Scheduled Caste (Dalits). Surendranagar is notorious for it.

Nisarg Parmar, an engineer from Naroda area of Ahmedabad who is pursuing his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), was another Dalit who pledged to follow Buddhism a the function. As many as around 25 persons from Nisargs extended family took the pledge to follow Buddhism at the function.

Speaking to The Indian Express on reasons behind his pledge, Parmar said, We used to follow Hinduism. But we do not like the discrimination and caste hierarchy in it. Buddhism is preaching equality. So, today we have taken the pledge to follow Buddhism I want India to be the best in the world. But I think one of the biggest hurdles in its progress is this caste system that discriminates people and treats them unequally, he added.

Recently, on Vijayadashami or Dussehra, around 500 Dalits from different parts of Gujarat embraced Buddhism at three separate functions in Ahmedabad city, Mehsana and Idar of Sabarkantha district.

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1,500 Dalits from across Gujarat embrace Buddhism for equality - The Indian Express

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Toward a Circumscribed Relativism: Another Mind Bubble from an Aging Western Zen Priest – Patheos

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The disparity between common Japanese religious practices and belief-centric views of religion was again brought into relief when a prominent psychology professor from the US, who was temporarily visiting my lab in Japan, encountered the domestic co-existence of Buddhist and Shinto altars. Most traditional family homes in Japan house both a Buddhist altar to honour deceased relatives (butsudan) and a Shinto altar, called a god-shelf (kami-dana), to bring blessings. This pluralistic practice goes largely unremarked upon by Japanese people, but it can be striking for those from more exclusive religious backgrounds. When the US professor learned of the practice, he turned to a Japanese colleague and asked if he had two altars in his home. Yes, at his familys house, he answered. The professor asked in astonishment which of the two systems, if either, was the one that he really believed in. My Japanese colleague was puzzled. Neither, he said, and then clarified: or maybe both! He had never really thought much about whether he believed in altars before, he explained.

Christopher Kavanagh

I am a Buddhist. Buddhism, specifically Zen Buddhism, more precisely Soto Zen and koan introspection as a piece, centers my life. It focuses my attention, it guides ever step I take. It is who I am.

I am a Buddhist, if a Buddhist of a liberal sort. Of course that liberalism speaks to the profound assumptions with which I engage the world.

In my case its as someone who embraces the modern and post modern scientific world view. In his book the Universe in a Single Atom the Dalai Lama says If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims. I believe that. And that privileging of the scientific investigation very much influences how I engage my religion.

And there are other things that weave into who I am and how I engage the world, and what I understand of my Buddhism.I am especially aware of how I engage Buddhism is heavily marked by my Christian upbringing and my graduate studies in a contemporary, if liberal, Protestant seminary,itself a member of a pan-religious theological union, through which I wandered learning much of the methodologies with which I engage spirituality and the world.

For instance, when trying to understand ordination within Japanese-derived Soto Zen, I relied about equally on historical analysis of Vinaya ordination and its reform in Japan, together with the Christian ordination notions of ontological and functional ministries. Then in trying to understand the ritual life of a Soto priest I found myself immediately seeing it through my earlier critical analysis of the Christian Eucharist.

Within this I see how I recapitulate in the most personal terms how a religion enters a culture and begins immediately to adapt and to re-interpret.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

And, you know, thats okay.

In his article that I cite at the beginning of this briefest of reflections, itself more a tease toward something larger, cognitive antropologist Christopher Kavanagh throws away a phrase, circumscribed relativism. I find it delicious. And compelling.

Relativism, the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute. But modified by circumscribed, to define or mark off carefully. With emphasis on carefully. With respect. With humility.

We are, in speaking of religion, approaching the most important things of our human lives, the questions and the findings of meaning and purpose. Nothing less.

So, as we approach that burning bush, (am I doing it again?), we need to take off our shoes and approach humbly.

Its absolutely critical we understand ourselves and our limitations. So, deep looking is called for. But, also to respect the mysteries of our human condition, and maybe, to accept that wisdom arises where it arises. Wisdom cannot be contained. Not even by the greatest of systems.So, while I fully embrace the great story of evolution, I find I can only understand it through poetry. And poetry is always self-contradictory.

It will never be either or. It will always be both and

It will always be messy. It will always be seen obliquely, through the corner of the eye rather than straight on, through a glass darkly, rather than through plate glass.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant Success in Circuit liesToo bright for our infirm DelightThe Truths superb surpriseAs Lightning to the Children easedWith explanation kindThe Truth must dazzle graduallyOr every man be blind

A little darker. Perhaps.

But, much more true

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Toward a Circumscribed Relativism: Another Mind Bubble from an Aging Western Zen Priest - Patheos

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Interdependent Web: Expanding circles of compassion –

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This week, several Unitarian Universalists addressed themes of identity, belonging, inclusion, and welcome.

Doug Muder sorts through a liberal view of intervention.

When we do decide to pull out of a country, we need a withdrawal plan rather than just a tweet announcing our departure. First, we need a plan to get our own people out of the country safely. And second, we need to do right by the people who have helped us, and who will likely be targeted for death after we leave. If nothing else, that means doing something Trump hates to do: welcoming refugees to the United States. (The Weekly Sift, October 21)

Celebrating the recent historic spacewalk by two female astronauts, Erika Hewitt points to previous delays as an example of diversity falling short of true inclusion.

Remember (especially if you identify as male) that wherever you go, systems and structures were built with ONE kind of person in mind, and often the obstacles dont appear until its too late. This is also true of white supremacy culture, ableism culture, and all of the other invisible snares of oppression. Lets keep snipping those snares, one cord at a time. (Facebook, October 18)

James Ford reflects on what it means to claim a Buddhist identity.

I believe the only appropriate way of understanding the precepts regarding sexuality turn on respect and care and mutuality. . . . I assert these positions I hold are Buddhist, if a liberal Buddhist.

Others, I know, think this means I am not a Buddhist. Or, at best, a marginal Buddhist.

But then many Buddhists think the same about Zen Buddhists in general.

The upshot is probably, while quite important, the question of who and who is not a Buddhist is going to remain ambiguous. The deal, as I see it, in a sort of bottom line way is not Buddhism, but Buddhisms

And, me, Im comfortable with that. (Monkey Mind, October 24)

Dan Harper writes that you dont need to be affiliated with a congregation to be a UU.

What is permanent about Unitarian Universalism? That you live an ethical life. That you challenge yourself to use your reason to engage with religion. That you allow yourself to doubt. That you allow your religious attitudes to change and evolve. That you value the Western religious tradition of which anglophone Unitarian Universalism is a part, while remaining open to insights from non-Western religious traditions. That you are in conversation with other UUs.

That last point deserves elaboration: How can non-affiliated UUs stay in conversation with other UUS? Through sudden villages, conferences and gatherings of a few days or a week where you get to meet other UUs face-to-face. Through reading UU writers, and listening to UU podcasts. Through online contacts: social media, blogs, email, whatever. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 23)

John Beckett answers the question of how a polytheist can be a Unitarian.

The first thing to understand is that contemporary Unitarian Universalism is not the Unitarian Christianity of Channing, the Universalism of Murray and Ballou, or the Transcendentalism of Emerson. Nor for that matter is it the Humanism of the mid-20th century. It is the direct descendant of all those traditions and it contains elements of them, but it has evolved into something quite different.

Contemporary Unitarian Universalism is based not on common creeds or theologies, but rather on shared values, beginning with the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Those shared values are why monotheists, polytheists, and non-theists can gather together . . . and worship together. UU worship does not affirm the primacy of any deities or beliefs about deities. Rather, it affirms the primacy of living together in a way that is respectful, sustainable, and mutually supportive. (Under the Ancient Oaks, October 24)

David Breeden describes the concentric circles of human connection first imagined by the Greek stoic philosopher Hierocles.

A decolonized, cosmopolitan Humanism calls us to widen our circles.

Yet, herein lies a problem: What if the concentric circles dont keep expanding because of national policy? If you happen to live in the United States, for example, many of your fellow citizens see no need to expand the circles to include other animals, the citizens of other nations, or the planet. Many Americans wish only to be a circle of Americans.

In this way, from a practical viewpoint, the building out of Heirocles circles breaks down.

How do we live an ethical life of expanding circles of compassion when a majority of our fellow citizens dont wish to draw the circle wider?

Thats the question that contemporary Humanists are working hard to answer. (Medium, October 24)

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Interdependent Web: Expanding circles of compassion -

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Diwali Greetings: Diwali Wishes in English and How to Say Happy Diwali in Hindi – Newsweek

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While Diwali is a cause for massive celebration in India, Hinduism is a minority religion in the United States. So, when it comes to acknowledging the holiday, people may be wondering, "What's the appropriate message?"

Diwali, also known by the Sanskrit word Deepavali, is a five-day festival and one of the most important Hindu festivals in India. Over the years, the holiday has become one that's celebrated across India by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists. Often called the "festival of lights," the holiday celebrates the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Occurring annually on the 15th day of the month of Kartik on the Hindu calendar, this year, celebrations began on Friday, but the main day is Sunday. Deepavali means "rows of lighted lamps," according to BBC, and during Diwali, houses, shops and public places will be decorated with small oil lamps called diyals.

Given the joyous nature of the holiday, if you chat with friends who observe Diwali, it's perfectly appropriate to wish them a "Happy Diwali."

If "Happy Diwali," is a bit simple for your style and you're looking for something with a little more oomph to it, try one of these recommendations from the Times of India:

Another greeting option to send is "Shubh Diwali," meaning "Happy Diwali" in Hindi, one of the two official languages of India.

The story of Diwali varies based on location, according to National Geographic, although every tale plays into the theme of good triumphing over evil. In Northern India, its origin goes back to Rama, a major deity, defeating Ravana, a demon-king. People in Southern India celebrate it as the day the god Krishna, defeated the demon Narakasura. In Western India, Diwali is the day the god Vishnu sent the demon king Bali to rule the netherworld.

For Sikhs, Diwali is a day to celebrate the release of the Sixth Guru Hargobind from captivity, according to the Hindu American Foundation. Jains consider the day that Lord Mahavira achieved enlightenment. Some Buddhists also commemorate the occasion as the day Ashok Vajiayadashami embraced Buddhism as his faith.

Although Diwali lasts five days, the main celebration occurs on the third day, known as Lakshmi Puja. On that day, people prepare to welcome Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, by keeping their homes spotlessly clean, according to the Times of India. People will also deliver sweet treats and gifts to their friends and family.

Diwali celebrations are most prominent in India, but people across the globe will commemorate the holiday.

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Diwali Greetings: Diwali Wishes in English and How to Say Happy Diwali in Hindi - Newsweek

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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Long ago, by the Sarayu – The Indian Express

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The site of Ayodhya, at least till the end of the 6th or early 5th century BC, was considered too forested for human habitation. (Photo: Vishal Srivastava)

Gautama Buddhas Phena Sutta (The Foam) is said to have been composed in Ayodhya. On a certain occasion, when he was staying here, he thus addressed the brethren:

Like to a ball of foam this body is:Like to a bubble blown these feelings are:Like to a mirage unsubstantialPerception: pithless as a plantain trunkThe activities: a phantom, consciousness.

Millennia later, when John Stratton Hawley, a professor of religion from Barnard College, New York, visited Ayodhya a month after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, he asked; Where is all that rubble?

He was told that it had mostly been carted off. That said, however, the mosque itself was not made of huge blocks of stone. It had used large bricks of the old Jaunpuri style. This is something Hawley and his co-writer Vasudha Narayanan concluded in The Life of Hinduism (2006). So the expectation of finding massive blocks of stones as rubble was misplaced.

But beyond the rubble, or the absence of it, and the temple-versus-mosque tension that Ayodhya now evokes, the Phena Sutta brings to mind the many other strands of India which can be found in reference to Ayodhya.

The site of Ayodhya, at least till the end of the 6th or early 5th century BC, was considered too forested for human habitation. Its early inhabitants are said to have come from the regions to the south and west of the area and were a part of the urban iron age culture known as the Northern Black Polished Ware Culture.

In Mauryan times, it is believed that Buddhism and Jainism prospered here. Saketa, found in ancient Buddhist texts, and Vishaka, Vinaya or Vinita, mentioned in Jain texts can be identified with Ayodhya. The oldest religious tradition at Saketa appears to have been the worship of tribal images. Uttarakuru, where Mahavira preached, had a shrine of Yaksha Pasamiya.

The Buddhist scripture Samyutta Nikaya speaks of the Buddha dwelling in Ayojjha. Historian BC Law in Historical Geography of Ancient India (1954) says that Ayojjha represents the Sanskrit Ayodhya of the Ramayana and the A-yu-te of Hiuen Tsiang.

Another traveller from China, Fa-Hien, called it Sha-Che. Fa-Hien, who visited around 400 AD, wrote, the country yielded good crops, was luxuriant in fruit and flower, and had a genial climate. The people had agreeable ways, were fond of good works, and devoted to practical learning. There were above 100 Buddhist monasteries, and more than 3,000 Brethren who were students of both the Vehicles

When Hiuen Tsang visited Ayodhya (7th century AD), it had become an important religious centre under the Guptas. He found 1,000 monasteries and 3,000 monks studying books of both the Great (Mahayana) and the Little (Hinayana) Vehicles of Buddhism.

BC Law also points out that Ayodhya was the birthplace of the first and fourth Jain Tirthankaras. It is called Ishvakubhumi in Jain writings, and the first Tirthankara, Rishabhanatha, is believed to have been born here. Prof BB Lal, former director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India, conducted excavations in Ayodhya between 1975-76 and found a terracotta image showing a Jain ascetic. Ascribed to the 4th century AD, it is the oldest image found in Ayodhya.

The Mani Parbat, one of the oldest mounds of the city, which archaeologist AE Cunningham photographed in the 1860s, is where Buddha is said to have preached from. (This has become part of Hindu folklore, and is believed to be part of the hill, containing the sanjeevani herb, that Hanuman carried from the Himalayas to revive the injured Lakshmana on the battlefield.)

By the close of the 6th and early 5th century, BCE, Ayodhya is said to have emerged as an important marketplace as it was at the junction of two important highways. During the period of the Buddha and the Mahavira, merchants became significant, financially supporting preachers. There was a lot of riverine trade, too, as boats carried goods such as slaves, commodities of everyday use, ghee, honey, beeswax, lac, condiments and stones. The intense activity is established by the large number of coins found in Ayodhya. The coins disappeared after the first two centuries AD, perhaps reflecting a slowdown in economic activity. According to John Allan in the Catalogue of the Coins of Ancient India (1936), Ayodhya experienced a shortage of gold coins after the 5th century AD. They were later found only in the 11th century AD.

The tussle to stake ownership over Ayodhya, and define it by the Hindu-Muslim question, has concealed the myriad other factors that have gone into making the city and, by implication, India.

Lord Ram as a bodhisattva in the Anamaka Jataka. Or Vimalsuris Paumachariyam (a Jain version of the Ramayana) which characterises the Rama Katha characters as creations of the Jain tradition? That is another story. Or stories.

Long ago, by the Sarayu - The Indian Express

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October 29th, 2019 at 8:45 pm

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WIWYK: Different faiths have more in common than not – The Alestle

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While 2019s Celebration of World Faiths focused on the importance of taking care of the Earth in various different religions, many speakers conveyed another valuable lesson: the importance of getting in touch with ones spiritual side, regardless of religious affiliation.

The event featured the Assisi Declarations on Nature, formed when leaders from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism gathered to discuss how their faiths could help protect and save an ailing Earth.

Not everyone has to identify with the same religion:

Because she does not believe in the superiority in any one religion or faith, first-year graduate art therapy counseling student Daisy Yen said she finds it important to partake in events such as the Celebration of World Faiths.

Yen read the Buddhist Declaration in accordance with her personal beliefs at the event Saturday night. However, Yen said she did not do this in the hopes of converting anybody to Buddhism.

I personally dont feel like any religion is superior, or better, than any others, but I think its important that you have a belief its kind of the anchor for your soul, Yen said. So, I dont mean to promote Buddhism, it depends on what you feel you have a connection to. Thats why I came to this ceremony its not only for Buddhism, its not only for Christians, its for every religion, and I have respect for all of them.

On a personal level, Yen said she identifies with the Zen school of Buddhism, which heavily relies on meditation.

For meditation you basically try to have a clear mind, Yen said. One of the sayings is everyone is like a mirror. When the mirror is clean, its supposed to be able to reflect everything clearly. You can make a good decision if you have a very clear mind. However, when theres dust on the mirror, then its hard for you to see things clearly and you may not be able to make good decisions. So its very important that you polish, you clean, your mirror, which stands for your mind.

Yen said being mindful of both ones thoughts and actions is the core of her faith, and this stems from the belief in reincarnation.

For Buddhism, we believe that you have a past life. You have a past life and you have your future life, so whatever you are doing today, whatever happens to you today is a result from your past life, and all the good or bad things youre doing will contribute to your next life, Yen said. So, youre encouraged to be very aware of what youre doing right now. I think its very good to be mindful, and I think mindfulness would be the core.

No one faith is better than others:

Similar to the sentiments of Yen, Yolande Scholler said she also feels no one faith is more important than others.

I believe that were all spiritual beings, and I think on that level of being a spiritual being, theres no such thing as distinctions between different religions, so its all boiling down to the same essence basically, in my opinion, Scholler said.

This very belief inspired Scholler, a second-year social work graduate student from the Netherlands, to start Mantra, a meditation-focused group for those of all different faith backgrounds, even though she individually practices Hinduism.

Its a way to deepen your spirituality, Scholler said. So, you can follow a specific path and you dont have to change it, you can just stick to that, or you can have no path at all it would still be beneficial.

Mantra is currently studying the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu text from which Scholler read at the Celebration of World Faiths event.

Red Cedar Circlewelcomes all:

At the beginning of the event, the Red Cedar Circle performed Grandmother Song, a tribute to Grandmother Earth, and Tall Cedar Tree, a prayer for the plants. According to the program, these praises originate from the Pacific Northwest Coast Salish Lummi Tribe.

The Red Cedar Circle meets at the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability at noon on the first Saturday of every even month. Member Kathy Matthews said the SiSiWis tradition-based group welcomes anybody to attend their gatherings.

We welcome one and all, Matthews said. We welcome all faiths. As long as you are of a peaceful mind, then you are more than welcome to join us and share your own stories and beliefs. We are open.

According to Matthews, SiSiWis means sacred breath, and the tradition originated as a means to bring different groups together.

Red Cedar Circle comes from the SiSiWis medicine tradition of the Pacific Northwest, Matthews said. That tradition comes from some of the core [families] in that area from way back. It was actually a tradition that came into being as a way to bring all those tribes in that area together.

Matthews said because of this, peace is at the very core of the tradition.

Thats how the tradition was put together, to bring peace to all those peoples up there, and so I believe that is the one base purpose for it being brought out into the world: peace, respect, love, Matthews said.

For more information on events at The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability, visit their calendar of events on their website.

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WIWYK: Different faiths have more in common than not - The Alestle

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October 24th, 2019 at 5:46 am

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Why a Moment of Compassion Can Change Everything in Business (and Life!) – Forbes

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Compassion. Its an action of little effort with impacts that reverberate far beyond that singular moment.

From brightening up a strangers day to clinching a dream business deal thanks to an authentic connection, empathy often creates overwhelmingly positive ripples. Yet it often feels increasingly distant in our modern world.

So, why dont we give compassion the credit and attention it deserves?

Thats what Thupten Jinpa, a Cambridge University alumni, author of A Fearless Heart, longtime translator to the Dalai Lama, and former Tibetan monk wondered.

Thupten Jinpa

With a lifetime immersed in Buddhist philosophies, Jinpa inherently knew there were more perks to compassion than morality alone. But also as a scholar, he wanted to prove it through science.

Jinpa worked alongside Stanford University to design an 8-week course calledCompassion Cultivation Training (CCT).Now offered worldwide, CCT teaches students practical, evidence-based methods of integrating empathy and compassion into their everyday lives. So far, theyve guided everyone from school teachers to CEOs to Silicon Valley police chiefs on instilling conscious empathy.

He also established a nonprofit called the Compassion Institute. Here, Jinpa and his colleagues study the physical and psychological benefits behind mindful, compassionate living.

The more we can live consciously, Jinpa says, the happier we are.

Building a Life of Compassion

Before emerging as a leader in compassionate studies, Thupten Jinpa was a young Tibetan refugee growing up in India. And, it was actually as a child that he first met the Dalai Lama.

The legendary spiritual luminary visited Jinpas boarding school, which was run by Tibetan Buddhist monks. During this visit, the then six-year-old Jinpa was chosen to hold the Dalai Lamas hand and walk alongside him during his stay. Though he knew this man was an important figure, Jinpa didnt fully understand just how so.

I just knew he was my boss boss, Jinpa laughs.

Still, its hard not to think that this early bond somehow guided his future pathespecially since he soon adamantly wanted to become a monk himself.

Aside from his interaction with the Dalai Lama, Jinpa was also enthralled with the monks he regularly saw around him. As an incredibly bright, yet academically bored, student, Jinpa loved the intellectual debates that were commonplace within the monastic order.

There was also an undeniable aura that drew the boy in. They all looked radiant, he says. There was a level of serenity that you don't see in ordinary peoples faces.

So, despite his own fatherwho was a monk himselfbeing against his son joining a monastery, Jinpas strong will won out. At just eleven, he became a Tibetan Buddhist monka role hed remain in for the next eleven years. Those years were probably the best years of my life, Jinpa recalls. It was just amazing.

For the first time I was able to plunge into what inspired me. It was intellectually stimulating. My colleagues were very impressive. The combination of practice, intellectual scholarship, self-study, retreats, and debate...It was just perfect.

It was also during this time that Jinpa reconnected with the Dalai Lama who was seeking a one-off substitute for his regular English translator. With a reputation for his solid grasp of the language, Jinpa was given the opportunity. When people were taken aback by his talent, he was given the role full-time.

Since then, 1985 to be exact, Jinpa has worked closely with the Dalai Lama as they travel the globe to spread his message of peace, kindness and compassionthree things at the core of Tibetan Buddhism.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there's a whole mythology of compassion, Jinpa says. If people talk about the attributes of individuals, compassion is seen as the best.

He also began realizing how radical the Dalai Lamas teachings were. Though no doubt rooted in Buddhist traditions, he ingeniously adapts his wisdom so its consumable within the secular, mainstream world.

He genuinely believes that theres something in the mental training techniques that the Buddhist traditions have developed, and that they can be adapted, says Jinpa. Basically, if it touches upon the fundamental human experiencehuman lifethen it should be translatable.

After years of inspiration by the Dalai Lama, Jinpa began feeling called towards a purpose beyond life as a monk. Two years of contemplation later, he decided to leave the monastic life behind in pursuit of higher educationand an opportunity to teach the value of compassion to a greater audience.

Though the change didnt necessarily mean hed have to leave his role as translator, Jinpa was still nervous to let his boss know. But as youd likely expect, the Dalai Lama showed nothing but grace.

He responded, Jinpa recalls, I would be lying if I said that I'm not saddened by your decision, and for the monastic community to lose someone of your caliber. But, I've known you for a long time and I know you did not make this decision lightly.

So, with the Dalai Lamas blessingand a scholarship to Cambridge University to study philosophy and religious studiesJinpa began a path as an advocate for a more practical, universal, and academic understanding of compassion.

The Science of Compassion

If compassion is so integral to humanity, why does it seem to be lacking within modern society?

As part of his studies at Cambridge, work with the Compassion Institute, and beyond, Jinpas made it his mission to explore and promote the fascinating intersection of psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and kindness.

Alongside a team of scientists, psychologists, and even the Dalai Lama himself, Jinpa and his team have been analyzing the merits of mindful compassion for yearsand what theyve learned has been illuminating.

The beauty of learning to extend empathy beyond the normal circle is that even though you may have difficulties with another person, says Jinpa, your handling of that relationship never lets you forget the humanity of the other person.

That gives you tremendous stability and strength.

In life, we often dont have a choice in what happens. However, we do have a choice in how we respond. This is why the teachings of mindfulness and compassion are so powerful, he says. Mindfulness gives us the ability to take a step back and recognize our choices.

Though recognizing the humanity within everyone positively affects us and others within nearly every aspect of life, just imagine the benefits within the workplace alone.

Whether were the intern, the CEO, or the client, we all have flaws, strengths, histories, and motivations. By both acknowledging each others humanity, we can often reach an authentic, effective solution faster than ever.

Jinpas especially seeing workplace benefits within the healthcare industryan industry fraught with stress and burnoutand often lacking in compassion when people need it most.

Not only do physicians, nurses and other medical professionals deserve empathy for their too-often unappreciated laborso do the patients who are treated everyday. In fact, studies are showing that compassion makes patients feel better both emotionally and physically.

Jinpa points to various studies showing that, on average, it took physicians only forty seconds of compassion to make a marked difference on a patients overall well-being and decrease physician burnout.

By taking the short amount of time to build even a short, but genuine, relationship, both parties feel better about whatever challenges may lie ahead. At that moment, theres no doctor and patient. Instead, its just two humans working towards a mutual goalhealth.

Forty seconds can make all the difference, says Jinpa.

Were All Just Human

If compassion is such an important quality, why do humans ignore kindness?

Jinpa learned that so much of our modern culture has been molded by whats considered Darwinian evolutionary thinkingor survival of the fittest. The pursuit of self-interest is seen as the ultimate explanation of human behavior, he says.

Kindness too often gets in the way of that. With the complexities of todays concept of success, compassion often only kicks in during critical, painful or emotional moments. After all, if we dont receive compassion from others during a life-or-death situationwe die.

We too often ignore, overlook or even bury the impulse, says Jinpa. Until recently, compassion was kept within religion or morality. The Dalai Lama took it out, naturalized it, and made it part of the human experience. Now, Jinpas encouraging us all to do the same.

So, how can we all start integrating compassion into our own lives?

First off, Jinpa recommends that we think of integrating compassion into our life as a shift in perspective more than anything. Its not altering how you do things. Instead, its just viewing it all through a compassionate lens.

Its about becoming more aware about when your emotions are kicking in and being able to regulate them, he says.

He also suggests practicing awareness of your actions.

Awareness sets a certain standard for when youre confronted with a situation. Where you might be tempted to do something that is harmful, youre instead able to bring in your mindfulness training and say, Well, this is unbecoming of me. This is against my values.

That's one reason why regular contemplative practice is so powerful. It gives us the ability to bring mindfulness and awareness when it's needed.

Essentially, the more practice you have at mindfully stopping your mental impulses through methods and tools like regular meditation, the easier itll be when it matters most.

Then, when a moment emerges where youd once act impulsively without thought, youll instead stop, thinkand act with kindness.

Want to hear my entire conversation with Thupten Jinpa? You'll learn more about his life as a Tibetan Monk, the science and psychology behind compassion and kindness, how hes using compassion training to treat PTSD, what his relationship with the Dalai Lama was like, and so much more.

Listen to the entire conversation on my donothing podcast now and visit for more information. Also, connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep up with my company imageOne here.

Read the rest here:
Why a Moment of Compassion Can Change Everything in Business (and Life!) - Forbes

Written by admin

October 24th, 2019 at 5:45 am

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

A Hidden Trove of Japanese Buddhist Art Revealed in New Jersey – Tricycle

Posted: October 23, 2019 at 2:43 pm

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The reservoirs of an important art museum are deep, locked, and mostly invisible. The Newark Museum, occupying an urban block in New Jersey next to Rutgers University, houses a widely respected Tibetan Buddhist art collection, which His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has toured five times. Yet few people may be aware that the museum owns an equally impressive Japanese Buddhist art collection because most of it has never been on display.

In a new exhibition, Beyond Zen: Japanese Buddhism Revealed, on view through January 5, 2020, the museum has brought out what it calls baroque Buddhism: paintings, objects of pilgrimage, shrine ornaments, and gloriously gowned bodhisattvas and household-shrine buddhas. They abide in golden palaces, gem-studded gardens, under silken canopies. Aesthetics are ornate and materials are luxurious: gold, silver, lacquer, silk, and porcelain.

The exhibition provides a rare chance to peer deeper into the Newark Museums rich collections and offers insights into the evolution of Buddhism in Japan, especially in the Edo period (16031868). Much of the museums Japanese Buddhist art was acquired in 1909 from a Western collector who traveled through the countryside, buying what he liked and creating a casual but illuminating cross-section of Buddhism in pre-modern Japan. These sorts of objects are not often on view in art museums, not because they lack beauty but because curators do not consider them to be antique enough. The works speak to Japans reverence for Buddhism and the religions familiar presence within the daily lives of ordinary people. The arts baroque qualities filled a demand.

At the entrance of the exhibition, a scowling wooden temple guardian, Zocho-ten, the Guardian of the South, offers a glimpse into a more distant era. The sculpture is said to be from the Heian period (7941185) and is typical of the wrathful defenders early Japanese Buddhists called on to help defeat the enemies of enlightenment. Its unusual in this exhibition because of both its great age and its having been purchased by the museum in 1965.

Guest curator Midori Oka, associate director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, selected around 50 objects for the show, ranging from sculpture and paintings to tiny votive pieces and netsuke [miniature sculptures worn with traditional Japanese dress]. Overall, she chose for dramatic emotion, vibrant imagery, and a wide view of Buddhisms appeal. Golden clouds hand-painted on the gallery walls lift ones spirits and recall the gilded aesthetic that created the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, suggesting a continuity between the Muromachi (13361573) and Edo periods. An elegant, wooden museum-built frame divides the gallery into two rooms. The dramatic entry houses four silk-scroll paintings of different manifestations of Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion, all four not seen together till now. These and other objects in the exhibition are described below:

Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion: Four hanging scrolls, painted in teal, coral, black and gold on silk in the Meiji period (18681912), depict four of Kannons many manifestations: Fish Basket Kannon, Merciful Mother, Willow Branch Kannon, and the bodhisattva unadorned by other identities. Kannons robes are elegant, transparent and gauzy, draped and ornamented, and gloriously opulent, as befits a well-heeled bodhisattva wishing to convince humans of the elevating supremacy of compassion.

Bodhidharma (Daruma), Zen Patriarch: Zen practitioners will be familiar with conventional black-ink drawings of a starkly sober Bodhidharma staring wide-eyedhis eyelids legendarily cut off so that he can meditate without closing his eyesin a vaporous white space. This wooden Bodhidharma, however, wears a flowing red-lacquer robe that flips up in the wind blowing across his forehead and lifts off his feet. The flapping robe is a traditional imagining of the tale of Bodhidharmas miraculous crossing of the Yangtze River on a reed. He is on his way to spend nine years meditating in a cave. Made in the Taisho period (19121926), the statue feels modern and cinematic, and Bodhidharma looks like an action figure whipping through time and space.

Jizo: In the Edo, an artist envisioned a brilliance for the bodhisattva Jizo (Skt., Ksitigarbha), who rescues children and beings lost in hell. Sculptures of Jizo can be inelegant and lumpy, a squat figure formed from clay, or refined and elegant, as this one is. Here, the artist has given the bodhisattva the golden robes and aureole of a standing buddha. The face, with its high forehead, has the deepened gaze and unshakable serenity of ultimate wisdom. We recognize that Jizo has the power to reach even into the worst suffering.

Scenes of Hell: Dramatic visions of hell have always been appealing to artists. From the Edo period, this handscrollcreated with ink and vibrant color on paperitemizes both the garments that new arrivals will wear (to determine the weight of their sins, the curator writes) and the dark destinations that await them. Demons and writhing snakes skewer we humans, roast us in red flames, and boil us in grinning pots, having great fun at our expense.

Bodhisattva Seishi: In Pure Land Buddhism, the power of wisdom (Seishi) merges with the saving grace of Kannon and the inexpressible magnificence of Amida, Buddha of Boundless Light, to manifest enlightenment. Yet this lovingly carved wooden bodhisattva from the Kamakura period (11851392) is more personable and humble than we might expect from one with such a heavy duty. Traditionally, Seishi and Kannon are attendants of Amida. This statue is probably from an altar set that showed Amida at the center and Seishi and Kannon on either side. Seishi bends in gassho, hands together, a gesture of oneness. Viewed from the front, the bodhisattva appears to be magically beseeching us. Are we to cast aside our petty concerns and join him on the path?

Amida Buddha: In this Edo-period scroll, a dying soul (off-camera, so to speak) is welcomed into the Western Paradise (Jodo) where gold-robed Amida Buddha sits on a lotus throne amid stupendous scenery. Kannon leads an entourage to welcome the newcomer. Jizo, Seishi, and 23 other celestial beings have joined the party. Singing and playing heavenly instruments, they float on pearly clouds in the land of enlightened peace and beauty. Just in case you thought you might prefer hell.

The monks path: In four ink-and-color Edo-period scrolls, each with 24 scenes, the monk Tokuhon (17581818) is shown in his severe self-mortification and tireless missionary work (the exhibition text says) as he traverses the path of good deeds and miracles. He has many adventures, he meets with diverse beings and humans, and he assembles a whole novels worth of stories. Hes an ascetic wanderer whose life is nonetheless rich and lustrous. Monks and nuns used these etoki paintingsbased on handscrollsas a kind of slide show for spiritual and moral instruction.

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A Hidden Trove of Japanese Buddhist Art Revealed in New Jersey - Tricycle

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October 23rd, 2019 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

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