Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rescuing Afghanistan's Buddhist history

Compiled by Wisdom Quarterly, , AFP, Science Religion News
"The Lost Buddhas of Afghanistan" ()

Last year [2010] the French archeological mission cooperating with the Afghan National Institute of Archeology began an excavation of an ancient Buddhist settlement at the Mes Aynak temple complex and mine.

Mes Aynak has the second-largest known unexploited copper deposits in the world. The team is racing to rescue as much as possible before the Chinese mining work begins.

Sacred buried treasure can be found throughout Afghanistan (Wall Street Journal)

The Afghan government awarded mining rights to the China Metallurgical Group Corporation [in collaboration with the Chinese government], which is keen to begin work at the site, 25 miles (40 km) from the capital Kabul.

First the Taliban mindlessly dynamited 1,500+ year old statues of the Buddha, the tallest in the world. Now a massive ancient Buddhist monastery is under threat in Afghanistan from a copper and rare earth mining company.

Mining in Afghanistan (NPR)

[This is so valuable to China that it recently pledged $3 billion to Nepal to build up its Lumbini as the Buddha's birthplace. This diverts attention from its more probable location in Islamic Afghanistan, which has many precious archeological sites that neither Chinese capitalists, atheist-communists, nor Afghani Muslims want more attention for.]

A Chinese company intends to blow up an ancient Buddhist monastery south of Kabul to make way for a massive copper mine. The plan has sparked outrage among Afghan and French archeologists, who have recently uncovered more than 100 statues within a large spiritual complex that includes seven burial mounds (stupas) built to house the relics of saints.

Located in a mountainous region southeast of Kabul, Mes Aynak is a hill topped by a 4500-square-meter monastery. [Monasteries were often built near precious metal deposits, which were used to create sacred art on the site.]

Although the site was spotted by archaeologists in the 1960s, it was never excavated. During the late 1990s, the hill was home to an al-Qaida " training camp," according to a 2004 report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

In recent years, looters damaged much of the monastic complex in search of antiquities, according to Nader Rassouli, director of Afghanistan's National Institute of Archaeology in Kabul, which is also participating in the current excavations.

Two millennia ago, this region served as a critical conduit in the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and China, says T. Richard Blurton, an archaeologist and curator at London's British Museum who has excavated in Afghanistan. He says Mes Aynak can provide new data on both the origin and demise of Buddhism in this culturally fertile region.
  • See more at Science Religion News with a link to a paid article in Science and AFP.
  • NOTE: Because Chinese mining in Afghanistan threatens an ancient tomb complex, Afghan archeologists have unofficially only been given a short time to excavate the site, which due to the US war and other limitations is actually only long enough to describe what is there. But will this informal delay be honored before mining and the site's destruction begins?
  • Rescuing Afghanistan's Buddhist history at Mes Aynak

US wars to cost $4 trillion, report finds

The Department of War (aka, the Pentagon) Did they ever figure out what hit it?

A new report out of Brown University estimates that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--together with the counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan--will, all told, cost $4 trillion and leave 225,000 dead, both civilians and soldiers.

Afghanistan is the Land of the Buddha, the original Kapilavastu, with the largest statues in the world. But archeologists are not likely to uncover its wonders before Chinese mining interests destroy artifacts in Mes Aynak and elsewhere.
The group of economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists involved in the project estimated that the cost of caring for the veterans injured in the wars will reach $1 trillion in 30 or 40 years.

In estimating the $4 trillion total, they did not take into account the $5.3 billion in reconstruction spending the government has promised Afghanistan, state and local contributions to veteran care, interest payments on war debt, or the costs of Medicare for veterans when they reach 65.

Elite warriors, each costing $1,000,000/year, needed to defeat Iron Age pastoralists? (

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has assessed the federal price tag for the wars at $1.8 trillion through 2021. The report says that is a gross underestimate, predicting that the government has already paid $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion. More

Shocking release of U.S. documents on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – The Afghan government said Monday it was “shocked” as it sifted through tens of thousands of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic reports on the war in Afghanistan that a whistleblower website posted a day earlier. “The Afghan government is shocked with the report that has opened the reality of the Afghan war,” said Siamak Herawi, a government spokesman. -- a whistleblower website...

The Cost of US war on the World

Wisdom Quarterly (ANALYSIS)

Even if Pres. Obama came to office promising to pull out of Afghanistan, he changed his mind. Almost immediately, he sent in more invading and occupying troops. There was more than one major surges. He recently reluctantly said he would bring a fraction of them back.
But the fact is, there are more soldiers there now than there ever have been. This will be true even if he gets around to withdrawing some a year from now as he promised. How many soldiers in the field? There are a quarter US million soldiers in Afghanistan, it is said, but that must also include Iraq, CIA boots in Libya, and elsewhere. Why are there any in Afghanistan? No one knows. The Russians were greatly interested, so interested that it became their "Vietnam."

Robert Gates, Secretary of War, before presidential award and passing the job off to CIA head (

More shocking and less well known is the sad truth that even as poorly paid, PTSD-suffering "soldiers" are withdrawn, "private contractors" are sent in. There are more boots on the ground and more entering all the time.

The same happened -- thanks to Halliburton and Blackwater and Xe and other private-corporate armies -- in Iraq. Paid mercenaries do more and cost much more than regular military service personnel.
So even if all US soldiers were brought home, the secret, publicly-funded private-war would rage on. Pres. Obama is a hypocrite, and now he's a warmonger. Gates, the former head of the Pentagon (today being his last day) was not cooperating. But Leon Panetta, former CIA chief, should do as told, using his clandestine skills to promote corporate interests sitting in his new Pentagon office.

We argue and worry about gay marriage, gay soldiers, Washington sex scandals. Meanwhile, ultra-violence plays out all over the world sponsored by US taxpayers and secret sources of money (like the lucrative illegal drug trade):
  • Libya (an illegal war, but Obama doesn't mind that)
  • Yemen
  • Egypt
  • Pakistan (those drones have to prove they were worth it)
  • Iraq (the forgotten war)
  • secret conflicts (in China, space, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Bahrain, and who can forget the war on our homeland) plus the
  • United States' longest running war ever, Afghanistan.

Sex: A Christian Approach (audio)

Dennis Rainey (KKLA radio, June 1, 2011)

Things That Go Bump in the Night, Part 2

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Tim and Joy Downs continue discussing the four fundamental sexual differences between men and women in a refresher course they call ‘Serving in Bed 101’, recorded on a recent FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It cruise. Download Transcript
Play Audio Podcast Download

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Buddha's Sister: "Beautiful Joy"

Myanmarpedia (Burmese Buddhist records) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Enthralled with her own beauty and popularity even as a nun, Sundari Nanda managed to break free and become enlightened (

Sundari Nanda
was the the stepsister of Prince Siddhattha (who years later became the Buddha), the daughter of his father King Suddhodana and his adoptive mother Queen Maha Pajapati Gotami (the sister of Siddhattha's biological mother).

Because she brought great pleasure and joy to her parents, she was named Nanda, which means joy and pleasure. Nanda grew up to be extremely graceful and beautiful and was often referred to as Sundari Nanda or "Nanda the Beautiful."

When her mother, Queen Maha Pajapati, and other Sakyan ladies gave up the household life to take up the spiritual life, Sundari Nanda decided to join them. However, she did not do so out of confidence in the Buddha or the Dhamma. She was ordained as a nun to conform to the wishes of her relatives, whom she loved greatly.

Lovely Nanda was very popular and respected by everyone. People were touched by the sight of a stunning royal daughter, the sister of the Buddha, wandering the streets for alms in the simple saffron robes of a nun.

Her mind, however, was not on her enlightenment and emancipation from rebirth and suffering (samsara). She was instead enthralled with her beauty and popularity.

She knew this was not in keeping with the high ideals of the Noble Order. Afraid that the Buddha would admonish her for her vanity and preoccupation with beauty and popularity, she avoided seeing him.

One day the Buddha called for all of the female monastics in residence near him to come one at a time for instruction. Sundari Nanda did not comply because she felt guilty and did not want to face him. The Buddha then called for her specifically. She came and he gave her spiritual instruction that emphasized all of her good qualities.

Even though this discourse made her feel joyful and uplifted, the Buddha realized that her mind/heart (citta or stream of consciousness) was not yet ready for a liberating discourse on the Four Noble Truths.

Seeing that she was still enthralled with her beauty, he created an exquisite vision of a beautiful youthful maiden whose beauty surpassed lovely Nanda’s own radiance. He then caused the image to suddenly age before her eyes.

Sundari Nanda's vision: Beauty fades quickly with time lapse magic.

Sundari Nanda saw the beautiful maiden shrivel, her skin growing wrinkled and discolored, her hair turning grey and falling out. She saw the exquisite form collapse with in frailty and finally die, bloat, and disintegrate into a mass of foul liquid, and bones, and dust.

As the body decomposed becoming an unspeakably ugly sight, bloated with worms and giving a stench, lovely Nanda realized the nature of this body with which she had been so preoccupied. Disillusioned and finally freed of the fetter of a long held attachment, her mind was ready to see clearly the profound teaching of the Buddha's Dhamma (Dharma).

The Buddha then explained to her the liberating Doctrine of impermanence and the hidden repulsive aspects of her very beautiful body. He gave her the loathsomeness of the body (in 32 parts) as her special subject of meditation.

Because of her strong attraction to her beauty -- even in light of the vision that had temporarily freed her of it -- it was necessary for her to contemplate the loathsomeness of the body to penetrate the Truth.

In no long time, Sundari Nanda attained full enlightenment (became an arahant) and expressed her struggle for this supreme attainment and the bliss of nibbana (nirvana) as follows:

“Nanda, behold this body,
Ailing, impure, and putrid,
Develop the meditation on the foul,
Make the mind unified, well composed.
As is this so was that,
As is that so this will be [cause and effect],
Putrid, exhaling a foul odor,
A thing in which fools delight.
Inspecting it as it is,
Unwearying by day and night,
With my own wisdom I pierced right through,
And so saw for myself.
As I dwelled ever heedful,
Dissecting it with methodical attention
[parsing the body into its contituent parts with the mind],
I saw this body as it really is,
Both inside and outside, internal and external.
Then I became disenchanted with this body,
My inward attachment faded away.
Being diligent and detached at heart,
I live in peace, fully quenched.”
– (Therigatha 82-86)

(Gnostic Nunnery)

The Buddha's Sister: Sundari Nanda

Wisdom Quarterly
The mysterious pull of beauty is revealed and undone when we see it clearly according to its true nature as composite with an illusory stability.

Sundari Nanda, Suddhodana and Maha Pajapati's daughter, the Buddha's half-sister

Soon after his birth, Prince Siddhartha's mother (Maha Maya Devi) passed away. He was adopted by her younger sister, King Suddhodana's other wife, Maha Prajapati. She was later to become history's first Buddhist nun.

When she was born, Princess Nanda was lovingly welcomed by her parents: Her father was King Suddhodana, the father of the Buddha; her mother was Mahaprajapati. Nanda's name means "joy, contentment, and pleasure." She was so named because her parents were especially joyous about the newborn's arrival.

Nanda was known in her childhood for being extremely beautiful, well-bred, and graceful. To distinguish her from other Sakyans -- the Buddha's extended family -- with the same name, like her brother, she came to be known as Rupa Nanda ("one of delightful form") and Sundari Nanda ("beautiful Nanda").

Over time, many members of her family, the Sakyans of Kapilavastu [likely located in the vicinity of Bamiyan, Afghanistan -- sakya literally meaning "grey earth" according to Wonderlane -- formerly the mountainous desert northwest of India, or less likely but as is traditionally held, southern Nepal] left the worldly life. They renounced it for the ascetic life, inspired by the enlightenment of Prince Siddhartha, who came to be called the "Sage of the Sakyas" (Shakyamuni).

Among them was her and the Buddha's brother, Nanda, and their cousins Ananda and Anurudha, who were two of the Buddha’s leading disciples. When their mother became the first nun, many other royal Shakyan ladies, including Siddhartha's former wife, Princess Yasodharā, became Buddhist monastics.

So Sundari Nanda also renounced the burdensome household life. But unlike many of the others, who sought the best guidance, she did not do it out of

  • confidence in the Buddha's enlightenment
  • confidence in the efficacy of the Dharma to bring one to enlightenment
  • confidence in the success of that Noble Sangha who followed the Path (the Buddha-Dharma) laid out for quickly reaching enlightenment.

She did it out of love for and attachment to her relatives and a feeling that she belonged with them.

It soon became obvious that Sundari Nanda was not focused on her life as an ascetic nun. Her thoughts were mainly centered on her beauty and popularity with the people, characteristics she enjoyed due to the ripening of meritorious actions performed in past lives. This welcome karmic inheritance became an impediment to Sundari Nanda. She neglected to reinforce it with new merit (profitable karma or weighty good actions).

She felt guilty that she was not living up to the lofty expectations of others. She was far from the goal so many members of the Shakyan royal family had left the home life for. And she felt certain the Buddha would censure her. So for a long time, she avoided him.

One day the Buddha requested all the nuns come to him individually to hear the teaching. Sundari Nanda disregarded the request. The Buddha asked for her to be called explicitly. She presented herself but her demeanor was abashed and anxious. The Buddha wisely appealed to her positive qualities, so she became willing to listen and delighted in his words.

When the Buddha knew the conversation had raised her spirits and made her joyful and ready to accept the Dharma, he began to teach her. Since Sundari Nanda was preoccupied with her physical beauty, he used his psychic powers to produce a vision of a stunningly beautiful woman, one more gorgeous than Sundari Nanda.

The woman then began to age rapidly and forcefully right in front of her. As a result, Sundari Nanda could see in explicit detail what humans otherwise only notice after decades or an entire lifespan: Youth recedes, health and beauty fade, decay and signs aging appear -- wrinkles, hair greying and loss, decline in faculties.

The vision deeply affected Sundari Nanda; she was shaken to the core. Having seen the image, the Buddha could explain the universal mark of radical impermanence [which is not about eventual aging, but moment-to-moment rising and falling of the Five Aggregates] to her in such a manner that she penetrated the truth entirely and thereby attained the first stage of enlightenment, certainty of future liberation, stream-entry.

As a meditation subject, the Buddha advised her to contemplate the impermanent and unpleasant aspects of the body -- to see it as it truly is and thereby be liberated by that truth. This is a systematic contemplation -- the first of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness -- not simply an epiphany (satori) based on a vision of the future loss of beauty. Sundari Nanda persevered for extended periods of practice "diligent and courageous day and night." She described it as recorded in the "Verses of Enlightened Nuns" (Therigatha 82-86):

Ill, impure, and offensive as well,
Nanda, see this jumbled mass [the body].
Toward the unlovely, develop mind
Well-composed to singleness.

As is this, so was that
As that, so will this likewise be.
Exhaling foulness, evil odors,
A thing delighted in by fools.

Diligently inspecting it, just as it is,
By day and night thus seeing it,
With my own wisdom having seen,
I turned away, dispassionate.

With diligence, carefully
I examined the body
And saw this as it really is --
Both within and without.

No longer lusting but quenched
Within this body then was I:
By diligence from fetters freed,
Peaceful was I and quite cool.

As Sundari Nanda had once been infatuated with her physical appearance, it was necessary for her to apply the meditation on bodily unattractiveness to counterbalance that powerful tendency and bias and find equanimity (impartiality).

Later the Buddha recognized his half-sister as being the foremost amongst female monastics who practiced meditative absorption (jhana) -- like the chief female disciple Uppalavanna and chief male disciple Mahamoggallana. This meant that she not only followed the analytical way of insight, but was expert in the foundational stages of serenity.

Enjoying this pure supersensual well-being, she no longer needed any sensual distractions. She enjoyed inner peace at will, in spite of having become a member of the Sangha out of attachment to her loved ones.

I admit it, I'm a doting parent. I want an enlightened child. I show this to her, but she only laughs. She's not getting any younger you know.

Spiritual Makeover: Christine, Buddhist Nun

Thomas (
Raised in Alberta, Canada and a Buddhist for many years, she wanted to become a Tibetan nun, renouncing the household life, a life-altering decision made with confidence.

[Ani] Christine is only the second Western Buddhist nun I have ever met. The first nun, whom we met a couple of weeks ago at Dargye Gompa (monastery), was an ascetic, standoffish German woman who had no interest in talking to us.

Ani Christine is different. She would always have a smile on her face and say hi when we passed each other in the hostel. This was my chance to talk to her and satisfy my curiosity about who she was, so I approached her to find out.

I think she was surprised that I came up to her because many people, as she told me later, shied away from talking to her maybe out of fear of asking the wrong questions. I wasn’t afraid and asked all the wrong questions anyway:

She patiently answered my questions with a great deal of humor and did not seem to be insulted at all.

Ani Christine became a nun only two weeks ago. Her excitement about becoming a nun is so contagious that we can’t help but feel completely happy for her. While talking about her past, she eagerly showed us some “before pictures” of herself with long hair and Western clothes taken only a few weeks ago and admitted that she had never had short hair.

She looks totally cute, though, with her buzz cut and her red [Tibetan] nun outfit, which she recently bought in a clothes store catering to nuns and monks. More

What would Buddha do?
Thomas has kept the color confidential. But Wisdom Quarterly posed the same question to Theravada Buddhist monks who follow the ancient monastic tradition. We Americans are uptight Puritans when it comes to asking anything that might be embarassing. But the monks were very relaxed and amused (bemused?) We posed the question this way: "If we ordain, what underwear will we wear, what color?" They smiled, not understanding. "Westerners ask the strangest things," they confided. But we wanted a complete "spirtual makeover." So we pressed on until they laughed and assured us -- "Any kind you want, any color, whatever you need!" We were sad, of course. We were hoping to gird our loins with, I don't know, something that would make us part of the Brotherhood of the traveling robes. You know, ancient saffron wraps that aid meditation and reduce lust. A Hindu yogi later showed us an interesting orange adjustable girding. It looks like a headband. But he laughed when we tried to put it on our heads. It ties like a bikini wrap and can be used for zazen but probably not yoga due to shifting and loosening. Monastics are human and kinder than average folk.

Wandering and Wandering: Spiritual Travel

UFOs filmed over London (video)

Mass sightings in New York were explained away with nonsense stories of "balloons." Never mind that the timelines did not coincide. And the craft over the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Palestine (occupied by Israel), although simultaneously filmed by various witnesses, was turned into a joke by subsequent fake footage.

Pyramidal (not triangular) craft over Moscow and other cities, triangular UFOs over the US, lights over China... how much evidence does a skeptic need? It is not a lack of evidence that keeps people from believing. It is the fear of ridicule and expulsion (from a job, position, university, media outlet).

() UFOs over London's BBC Radio 1 Building. It took over a week but it was finally possible to capture these alien crafts (vimanas) on camera on a clear day and even get a close-up. The sighting was attracting a crowd as they appeared. Fortunately, this mass sighting cannot easily be debunked, for it was filmed from multiple angles by various witnesses, in addition to all the witness who did not film it.

VIDEO: A big part of history is missing

CODE PINK for Peace

Jewish threats: No Gaza Peace Flotilla (video)

(, June 27, 2011) A flotilla carrying humanitarian aid bound for Gaza is set to depart from Greece. Israel has already warned that it will not let the convoy reach its destination [even if it has to kill defenseless peace activists like it did last time]. It also said foreign journalists who take part will be banned from working in Israel for 10 years.

Imagine Jewish Americans standing up to the nearly all-powerful Israel (in cahoots with the US Department of War and our many clandestine services). It's amazing. It gives me hopes that the outrageous criminal behavior of Israel, who calls it "defense" and "victimization" while Palestine withers away strangled by a capricious blockade, repeated infiltration by tanks and soldiers, aerial bombing, wall building, land usurpation, checkpoints... It's too much.


It was too much years ago. How Gaza has survived, as a helpless "Arab world" looks on, is unknown. And why the US government presses Israel to utterly destroy it makes less sense. It's all very biblical, as if the powers that be insist on an end time narrative spelled out in Middle Eastern terms. Armageddon is a place after all. It is more famous for a future war to be waged there if Israel and Western powers have their way. One Israel is worth ten CIAs, a CIA official once observed. We [the CIA, Pentagon, NSA, DOD] need it. But is incurring the hatred of the world as we collude in extravagant ways with Israel to cover our war crimes and theirs? Those veto votes sure come in handy. Germany, the world's monetary ruler, can't even get hold of such a vote. Palestine can't even get NATO recognition.

We have to remember, "Israel" is a complete fabrication with subsequent biblical justification, not the other way around as we are told. History has to adjust to fit the human plans on the ground. And any scholar who points out discrepancies is quickly dismissed, denounced, and when possible destroyed. Yet people speak out against anti-Arab injustice. Conscience compels us even as allegiance to Judaism or Zionism compels many American and Israeli Jews to muzzle themselves, sit on their hands, look the other way, or actually try to defend the right wing Israeli government no matter what. And Christian fundamentalists in America leap on the bandwagon to make points with a tribal God they feel sure wants them to destroy "infidels" (like Arabs in the Holy Land) and defend the "chosen people" no matter what.

The End? Calamities and sky changes (video)

() This video was released to accompany a radio appearance by L.A. Marzulli June 28, 2011 on Coast to Coast AM. Do ancient prophetic texts refer to the times we are living in? What is happening with our Moon? Magnetic north is moving, and airports are having to readjust their equipment, so does this signal an impending pole shift? Bird and fish deaths? Massive earthquakes in a ring spreading across the planet? Floods and peculiar weather? "Watchers 2" investigates these events. Full DVD available at

Author Marzulli discussed his latest research on biblical prophecy, which suggests that the recent increase in global turmoil, calamities, and Earth changes are the "birth pangs" of the apocalypse. April 2011 had the deadliest weather in American history. Along with the Fukushima earthquake in March and other strange events (SEE INCREDIBLE LIST), Marzulli concludes that we are in an unprecedented period. "Something's been let attack humankind in a way that we've never seen, and it's manifesting in earthquakes and volcanic activity," he warns.

There seems to be a new body in our solar system that is affecting the lunar surface. Our Moon now has an anomalous rotation. This could be what Bible prophecy refers to as "signs in the heavens." The more ancient Book of Enoch states: "the moon shall alter her order and not appear at her time," he notes. "When we plug in Planet X, Nibiru, Elenin, Comet Honda, and others that seem to be manifesting in the sky -- what are we really looking at? It's alarming in my opinion," Marzulli commented, adding that we may be witnessing the effects of a cosmic war taking place in a dimension that we do not see. More

January 7, 2009 L.A. Marzulli interview on Coast to Coast

Alien implants? Dr. Leir has proof (video)

Last night L.A. Marzulli related a strange scientific tale on Coast to Coast AM. Research is being done on alien implants by Dr. Roger Leir. These devices have been surgically removed from patients. However, they then seem to reconstruct themselves within 24 hours. It is possible that the implants are being used to alter human DNA. Both Marzulli and Dr. Leir conjecture that such technology might be a prototype for the biblical prophecy known as the "mark of the beast" (666). In a coming deception humankind will be offered an implanted chip by being told that it is able to extend the average human lifespan to 500 disease-free years. Would they then not only accept but demand it?

Incredible events that cannot be explained

Keeping up with the Cold War Joneses (video)

Wisdom Quarterly

The human experimentation going on underground in subterranean military bases is astounding but hidden. Whatever Dr. Mengele and his boss were promoting or permitting, the US did not want to be left behind. There was not only a space race, but a weapons race, supernatural race (remote viewing), and a eugenics/medical advances race. The Russians and the Nazis before them could not be allowed to surpass the Americans.

What were the Russians up to? We find that out only through leaks since there is no central clearing house for the former Soviet Union and its many members. But as things get so advanced, it seems silly to hide early experiment and proofs of principle. The bodiless dog is just that. It is so unbelievable -- heartless clinical vivisection -- that it is easier to view it as Cold War anti-USSR propaganda instead. But it is real and it merely hints and all that is happening on and below American soil.

It may hurt the feelings of the parents of children afflicted with a rare premature-aging condition; nevertheless, one cannot help but notice how much these youthful individuals resemble human-extraterrestrial hybrids, the result of implantation or subsequent failed genetic manipulation.

Cloning and hybrid DNA experiments have been going on for decades (and nagas have been conducting them much longer) -- possibly producing Bigfoot type humanoids from the manipulation of close genetic relatives.

First contact took place long ago, and those many and varied unearthly beings gave the Pentagon and other above-top-secret movers and shakers a history lesson about the planet that bears little resemblance to anything we will find in textbooks. Hidden archeology, advanced alien technology, everything but immovable megalithic structures are denied, dismissed, and actively denounced. We are not allowed to know. But someone does. And from time to time, bits and pieces are leaked.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Radical Acceptance" - Tara Brach

Guided meditations on radical acceptance by Dr. Tara Brach (

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense. - Rumi, Sufi poet

Something is Wrong With Me
"When I was in college, I went off to the mountains for a weekend of hiking with an older, wiser friend of twenty-two. After we set up our tent, we sat by a stream, watching the water swirl around rocks and talking about our lives. At one point she described how she was learning to be 'her own best friend.' A huge wave of sadness came over me, and I broke down sobbing. I was the furthest thing from my own best friend. I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, relentless, nit-picking, driving, often invisible but always on the job. I knew I would never treat a friend the way I treated myself, without mercy or kindness.

"My guiding assumption was 'Something is fundamentally wrong with me,' and I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self. I drove myself in academics, was a fervent political activist and devoted myself to a very full social life. I avoided pain (and created more) with an addiction to food and a preoccupation with achievement. My pursuit of pleasure was sometimes wholesome -- in nature, with friends -- but it also included an impulsive kind of thrill-seeking through recreational drugs, sex, and other adventures. In the eyes of the world, I was highly functional. Internally, I was anxious, driven and often depressed. I didn't feel at peace with an y part of my life.

"Feeling not okay went hand in hand with deep loneliness. In my early teens I sometimes imagined that I was living inside a transparent orb that separated me from the people and life around me...." - Tara Brach

Tara Brach, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist and Buddhist meditation teacher in the tradition of Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Center (who wrote the foreword), first-time author Tara Brach offers readers a rich compendium of stories and techniques designed to help awaken from what she calls "the trance of unworthiness."

The sense of self-hatred and fearful isolation that afflicts so many people in the West can be transformed with the steady application of a loving attention infused with the insights of the Buddhist tradition, according to Brach.

Interweaving stories from her own life as a hardworking single mother with many wonderful anecdotes culled from her therapy practice and her work as a leader of meditation retreats, Brach offers myriad examples of how our pain can become a doorway to love and liberation.

An older Catholic woman in one of Brach's weekend workshops, for example, recounts how she learned to ask her God to help hold her pain. Like Brach's colleagues Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, and others in the Insight-meditation (Vipassana) tradition, Brach is open-minded about where she gathers inspiration.

Garnishing her gentle advice and guided meditation with beautiful bits of poetry and well-loved if familiar Dharma stories, Brach describes what it can mean to open to the reality of other people, to live in love, to belong to the world.

Obviously the fruit of the author's own long and honest search, this is a consoling and practical guide that can help people find a light within themselves (Reed Business Information, Inc.)

  • "Radical Acceptance offers gentle wisdom and tender healing, a most excellent medicine for our unworthiness and longing. Breathe, soften, and let these compassionate teachings bless your heart." — Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
  • Why we argue (Parable of the Blind Men)

    John D. Ireland (translator), Wisdom Quarterly edit, Inspired Utterances (Ud. 6.4)
    Buddhist novice meditating above the tangled canopy (Mattravel/

    Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at the multi-millionaire's monastery.

    At that time there were a number of recluses and brahmins, wanderers of various sects, living around Savatthi. They were of various views, of various beliefs, of various opinions. And they relied for their support [by reasoning] based on their various views.

    • There were some recluses and brahmins who asserted and held this view: "The world is eternal; only this is true, any other (view) is false."
    • There were some recluses and brahmins who asserted: "The world is not eternal; only this is true, any other (view) is false."
    • There were some who asserted: "The world is finite...
    • The world is infinite...
    • The life-principle and the body are the same...
    • The life-principle and the body are different...
    • The Tathagata [person who has attained liberation from samsara, such as the Buddha] exists beyond death [of the body]...
    • The Tathagata does not exist beyond death...
    • The Tathagata both exists and does not exist beyond death...
    • The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist beyond death; only this is true, any other (view) is false."

    And they lived quarrelsome, disputing, and wrangling, wounding one another with verbal darts, saying:

    • "Dharma [liberating truth] is like this
    • Dharma is not like that!
    • Dharma is not like this
    • Dharma is like that!"

    Then a number of Buddhist monastics, having put on their robes in the forenoon and taken their bowls and outer cloaks, entered Savatthi for almsfood. Having walked in Savatthi for almsfood and returned after the meal, they approached the Buddha, prostrated themselves, sat down to one side, and said:

    "At present, venerable sir, there are a number of recluses and brahmins, wanderers of various sects, living around Savatthi. They are of various views... saying: 'Dharma is like this!... Dharma is like that!'"

    [The Buddha replied:] "The wanderers of other sects, disciples, are blind, not seeing. They do not know what is [karmically] beneficial [in terms of practice now and future results from profitable and unprofitable actions willed, performed, and accumulated]; they do not know what is harmful. They do not know what is Dharma; they do not know what is non-Dharma.

    "Not knowing what is beneficial and what is harmful, not knowing what is Dharma and what is non-Dharma, they are quarrelsome... saying: 'Dharma is like this!... Dharma is like that!'

    "Formerly, disciples, there was a certain king in this very city of Savatthi. And that king addressed a man: 'Come now, my good man, bring together all those persons in Savatthi who have been blind from birth.'

    "'Yes, your majesty,' that man replied, and after detaining all the blind people in Savatthi, he approached the king and said, 'All the blind people in Savatthi have been brought together, your majesty.'

    "'Now, my good man, show the blind people an elephant.'

    "'Very well, your majesty,' the man replied to the king, and he presented an elephant to the blind people, saying, 'This, blind people, is an elephant.'

    The blind men examine an elephant (

    "To some of the blind people he presented the head of the elephant, saying, 'This is an elephant.' To some he presented an ear of the elephant, saying, 'This is an elephant.' To some he presented a tusk... the trunk... the body... the foot... the hindquarters... the tail... the tuft at the end of the tail, saying, 'This is an elephant.'

    "Then, disciples, the man, having shown the elephant to the blind people, went to the king and said, 'The blind people have been shown the elephant, your majesty. Now do as you see fit.' Then the king approached those blind people and said, 'Have you been shown the elephant?'

    "'Yes, your majesty, we have been shown the elephant.'

    "'Tell me, blind people, what is an elephant like?'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the head of the elephant replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the ear of the elephant replied. 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the tusk of the elephant replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a ploughshare.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the trunk replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a plough pole.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the body replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a storeroom.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the foot replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a post.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the hindquarters replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a mortar.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the tail replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a pestle.'

    "Those blind people who had been shown the tuft at the end of the tail replied, 'An elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.'

    "Saying 'An elephant is like this, an elephant is not like that! An elephant is not like this, an elephant is like that!' they fought each other with their fists. And the king was delighted (with the spectacle).

    "Even so, disciples, are those wanderers of various sects blind, not seeing... saying, "Dharma is like this!... Dharma is like that!'"

    Then, on realizing the significance, the Buddha made this inspired utterance on this occasion:

    Some recluses and brahmins, so called,
    Are deeply attached to their own views;
    People who only see one side of things
    Engage in quarrels and disputes.

    Source: ATI - For free distribution only, as a gift of Dharma (dhamma-dana).

    Gay Marriage, Pandakas, and Kinnars

    Wisdom Quarterly (ANALYSIS)
    Philadelphia woman flies the gay-pride rainbow flag at a Washington, D.C., march for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights in 2000. Created in San Francisco in 1978, the flag grew in popularity after the murder of Harvey Milk (

    How we as Americans will handle the ancient experience of having a third or mixed gender in society will show the world. But we have much to learn. There is nothing new about it. While there are many stories of how odd self expression is ostracized, stories of their acceptance and integration are buried.

    On this ancient land, the indigenous people had a tradition called the berdache. Males who felt like women trapped in a female body (or presumably vice versa) were adopted into the female role and married off to a male. That male was not regarded as gay or a berdache for marrying a man because that biological male was now socially accepted as a female in the tribe.

    Much to our Puritanical consternation as Westerners and some deep gender bias, which may be biologically-rooted or completely socially-constructed, this offends us. Gender-bending is unsettling enough if we ourselves are not bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or questioning. But role reversal and flipping categories contrary to our birth-nature can be shocking.

    In Buddhism as in Western science, gender may be fluid but biological sex is fixed. Long before the language of DNA and XX/XY chromosomes, Buddhist psychology understood that derived materiality had a sex/gender component. There is an element that determines one's biological sex at conception.

    Apparently, due to karma, many things can cross wires after that. In gestation, before birth, hormones may not trigger sex stereotypical features, impulses, or reflexes. Men in India who displayed aberrant tendencies (cross-dressing, non-normative role displays, transsexuality) were labelled pandakas ("perverts," "eunuchs," "odd fellows"). We misunderstand this to mean our definition of "homosexual." But neither then nor now does this characterization fit.

    It's not about homosexual, bisexual, or pansexual desires. It's about not feeling right. Rather than accepting our karmic inheritance -- which may seem very unfair (and who regards results of past actions as "fair" in subsequent lives?) -- we struggle against it. It often makes us miserable and society, being discomfited, can be very antagonistic.

    The solution is not that everyone be bisexual. It is enough that people be accepting. No one needs to be gay, but it seems we do need to be fair and kind to one another. Is reserving marriage for some and not others "fair" or "kind"?

    Gays (however we wish to define it, from LGBTQ to "freaks and weirdos") have been gay no matter what society has done to them. And the aberrant behavior, drug addiction, and acting out seem to be more a reaction to poor and unfair treatment forcing secrecy than anything inherent in gender-malleable expressions.

    Molestation is post-conception. It can confuse many things -- sexuality, gender roles, rage, codependency, PTSD, and so on. Molestation and nonsexual childhood trauma is the great secret of our Puritanical culture from Europe to England to America. There is a taboo to ever talk about it or its lasting aftereffects. If it expresses itself as gender-aberrant behavior, it is squashed and secreted away as indicative of the unspeakable (molestation).

    Although it seems that there is much more sexual molestation going on now than in the past (within families, not by strangers), it must not have been uncommon in the past. It often leads to promiscuity, shutting down, suicide, and flamboyant parades and displays.

    Kinnar (pandakas) protesting for civil rights, Islamabad (

    Pandakas in India
    What does Buddhism have to teach us? The Buddha was not against gays. While they were not allowed to become monastics, which entails celibacy, there was no reason in the world they could not become Buddhists or members of the real Sangha. (The "real"community is the Noble Sangha, those who have entered upon the stages of enlightenment even as lay followers).

    Murderers (Angulimala), vain and sexually promiscuous individuals (various ancient noble nuns come to mind, such as one of the Buddha's chief disciples, Ven. Uppalavanna), lepers (Suppabuddha), slaves and outcasts, prostitutes (Ambapali) -- the Path is open to all, and everyone is capable of attaining something unless so serious a karma absolutely frustrates their attainment. But even so, anyone is able to make a great deal of merit by practicing.

    What Buddhist Psychology (Abhidharma or "Higher Teachings") has to say about the determination of biological sex -- or sexual dimorphism as a quality of the material particles that make up the body -- is fascinating but probably boring. It is explained as a characteristic of "derived materiality."

    An examination of it needs more expert guidance than studying biology. It is on par with particle physics. The only living expert we are aware of, and with whom we have discussed these issues, is Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. But he is far more interested in leading meditators to see it directly for themselves than to speak of it in abstract or hypothetical terms. So if one seeks him out, be prepared to practice virtue, sit, attain absorption, and be ready to practice insight-meditation -- in that order.

    His teaching students -- Sayalay (Ayya) Susila (Malaysia), Ven. Dhammadipa (Czechoslovakia), Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder (California), Shaila Catherine (California) -- might respond to inquiries regarding. But they, too, are certain to prefer speaking to sincere spiritual seekers rather than theoreticians and speculators.

    There were pandakas ("pansexuals," "perverts") in the past. There are pandakas today. The sexism that existed before the Buddha and reasserted itself in the male-dominated Sangha (who subordinated Buddhist nuns after the Buddha's passing but early enough to have made it seem as if the Buddha was on board and actually started that subordination by setting up extra rules, garudhammas, for bhikkhunis).

    This gives Buddhism a black eye it does not deserve. Originally, the Dharma was not sexist. It was radically progressive in India. But the backdrop of oppression was not overcome. Males and females were segregated, and this segregation intensified in the Buddha's two Monastic Orders (male and female). Pandakas were not allowed because the goal of monasticism is to overcome sensual craving. And the promiscuity pandakas are infamous for meant people would not believe they could contain their impulses even to a normative human degree, which is hard enough.

    Not only pandakas, many groups are not allowed to become fully ordained monastics in Buddhism. For example, certain diseases prevent one, even harmless and non-transmissible ones like vitiligo. So Michael Jackson would not have been able to become a fully ordained Buddhist monk -- even if his other aberrant behaviors (with drugs, with children, with flamboyant displays) would not have prevented him.

    Wisdom Quarterly was talking to someone in India -- thanks to US corporations making so much use of customer care call centers. The operator had never heard the word "pandaka" and had no idea there was an annual Pandaka Parade in India. That is, until a description of this word was given. Then, perfectly familiar with that, yelled out, "Oh, you mean kinnar!"

    Kinnar, as in kinnaras (garudas), the mysterious avian-hybrids of Indian mythology incorporated into Buddhist cosmology. Griffins, angels, serpent-hating-eagles, beautiful bird headed people capable of flight (in massive garuda aircraft).

    The kinnar are of India and South Asia (hijra) are the kathoey of Buddhist Thailand.

    Flighty "Fairies"
    Wisdom Quarterly edit of Kinnar
    In the culture of South Asia, hijras (in Islam a word related to flight and migration, Hindi: हिजड़ा, chakka in Kannada, khusra in Punjabi, kojja in Telugu are physiological males who have feminine gender identity, women's clothing, and adopt other feminine gender roles.

    Hijras have a long recorded history in the Indian subcontinent, which was formerly Buddhist and now has a massive Muslim population (of over 100 million) from the Mughal Empire period onwards. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual, and part survival.

    In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-hijra communities, led by a guru or chief.[1][2] These communities have sustained themselves over generations by "adopting" young boys who are rejected by or who flee their family of origin (due to molestation, abuse, or rejection).[3] Many work as prostitutes for survival.[4]

    The word hijra is Urdu, derived from the Arabic root hjr, has the sense of flying away, migrating, or "leaving one's tribe"[5]. It has been borrowed into Hindi, the dominant language of India.

    The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite," where "the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition."[6] However, in general hijras are born with typically male physiology, only a few having been born with male intersex variations.[7]

    Historically, ceremonial initiation into the hijra community is rumored to have involved removal of a boy's penis, testicles, and scrotum, without anesthetic, at or around puberty. However, according to the Mumbai (Bombay) health organization The Humsafar Trust, only eight percent of hijra visiting their clinic are nirwaan (castrated).

    Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have been lobbying for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or "third gender," which is neither man nor woman.[8]