Vegetarian Ideal

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true;
the other is to refuse to accept what is true."
(Soren Kierkegaard)

Mahatma Gandhi's 63rd Death Anniversary...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ecology of Self

A Buddhist Ecology of Self

I saw that ordinary people believe they have a self and that everyone they meet has a self. They think of it as within the body. Because it is not like that, I have shown that the self is not there in the way it is thought to be. This is expedient means, the right medicine.

But that does not mean there is no self. What is the self? If something is true, is real, is constant, is a foundation of a nature that is unchanging, this can be called the self. For the sake of sentient beings, in all the truths I have taught, there is such a self.
-- Buddha, in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra

There are two distinct versions of the Mahaparinirvana sutra, a fundamental text whose subject is the final days and sayings of the Buddha's life. The version in the early Buddhist Pali Canon, like other texts of that tradition, denies that there is any real self. The citation above is from the Mahayana Buddhist sutra (first two centuries CE) that offers a quite different view of human self. Are these two traditions of Buddhism actually disagreeing with each other? It depends on what we mean by "the self." And that is not just a subject for introspection. It has significant implications for how we see and interact with our world.

Early life:

There is something universal and endearing in the drawings of very young children. These stick figures, box houses and animals and the relationships among them are also our first models of ourselves. They express our earliest understanding of who we are, without the rigidity of the conscious self that we acquire by about six years old, the age of reason.

Up to two years of age, an infant's brain operates mainly at the lowest EEG frequency delta waves of less than 4 cycles per second. From two to six years old, progressively more theta waves of 4-8 cycles/second become the norm. In adults, both these frequencies are characteristic of hypnotic trance they are suggestible and programmable states, linked to the subconscious mind. Young children subconsciously model the information they need to survive and thrive in the home, in the process absorbing many of their parents' beliefs and behaviors.

We don't much employ the higher frequency beta waves of active, focused consciousness (over 12 cycles/second) until puberty. By that time we believe the emerging adolescent self is within our body. Sometimes we are painfully aware it might not actually "be there" in the way our peers seem to assume, but we're not usually aware of an alternative understanding.

Schooling does not often help. Rather than investigating what the self really is, and what brings it happiness, contemporary education has become a largely utilitarian project. It orients us outwardly to social competition for identity, job, consumer goods and a mate. It reduces the totality of the self to a narrowly-focused ego and social self.

Self-esteem vs self-destructiveness:

What about the key emotional factor of self-esteem? The Dalai Lama has remarked that our mother is our first guru. And the psychologist Erich Fromm pointed out that there is nothing more conducive to giving a child the experience of what love, joy and happiness are than being loved by a mother who loves herself. Indeed, self-acceptance and self-appreciation are the basis of self-esteem.

Neuroscientist Simon Baron-Cohen calls these qualities an internal pot of gold that good parents share with their offspring. What their fortunate children absorb is a lifetime capacity for empathy, resilience and love. Sadly, as everyone knows, there are other instances where the pot contains baser, or even toxic elements that become seeds of later self-destructiveness.

The ecological self:

The philosopher Arne Naess was a co-founder of Deep Ecology. He observed that people who are mature in their relationships can spontaneously identify with all living beings. He proposed that humans have an ecological self, which consists of that with which we identify. To take one pressing example, the Earth in all its splendor and biodiversity is now at risk of runaway global warming caused by our burning of fossil fuels. It will not be spared this devastating fate unless many of us realize and express strong identification with the whole community of life.


Naess believed that as we develop and mature through the fulfilment of our inherent potentialities, the self deepens and broadens. This process, which he termed self-realization, is not the one-dimensional, narcissistic fulfilment of ego trips. Genuine self-realization leads us to see ourselves in others. We take pleasure in their self-realization as well as our own. In fact, there is awareness that the self-realization of others is not separate from our own.

That understanding provides a much sounder basis than moral exhortation to help us accomplish something beautiful, resilient and environmentally sustainable. It has a special relevance for our response to the global ecological crisis, because both environmental science and ethics have (so far) failed to overturn the deceits of consumerism.

The consumer self:

When "self-realization" is misinterpreted as a lifetime of ego trips, we gulibly identify with the simulated realities of the media, and the consumer goods its advertisements promote. The weaker our intrinsic self-esteem, the more likely we are to develop what social psychologist Clive Hamilton calls a consumer self.

A transformation in the meaning of consumption from "meeting needs" to a way of "acquiring identity" has been going on for decades. Contemporary advertising builds up powerful symbolic associations between products and attractive psychological states. Compelling as they are, neither the products nor their associations provide any genuine identity or fulfillment.

At the core of the consumer self is a gnawing dissatisfaction that keeps it addicted to getting and spending. Economic growth, Hamilton points out, no longer creates happiness. Unhappiness sustains economic growth. The consumer self is a victim of corporate psychopathic fiction.

The universal Self:

What the Buddha calls the real, foundational and unchanging self in our beginning quotation above is termed the Self in Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta. For the Buddhist non-dual system of Dzogchen, the Self is a synonym for the Buddha-nature and the ground of all.

Gandhi, the great proponent of nonviolent social activism, saw no distinction between non-duality and social action: "I believe in advaita. I believe in the essential unity of all that lives -- What I want to achieve is self-realization, to see God face-to-face, to attain liberation. All my ventures in the political field are directed to this same end."

Ecological philosopher Thomas Berry extended this identification to the whole universe as "a communion of subjects, rather than a collection of objects." There is practical importance in such principles. They can sustain us as we work to replace the grandiose self-destructiveness of our civilization with a new ecological modesty and wisdom. Thomas Berry eloquently expressed the appropriate sense of proportion as follows: "It is false to say that humanity is the most excellent being in the universe. The most excellent being in the universe is the universe itself."

"Everything is interwoven, and the web is holy."

Marcus Aurelius

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, January 27, 2012

Attridge and Kelsay on the Study of Religion - YouTube

Attridge and Kelsay on the Study of Religion - YouTube: ""

aded by on Oct 7, 2008

Harold Attridge, Dean of the Yale Divinity School, interviews John Kelsay Distinguished Research Professor and Richard L. Rubenstein Professor of Religion at Florida State University on the topics of Christianity, Islam, 9/11 and the study of religion.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sand Mandella

Construction and destruction of a sand Mandala by the Dalai Lama, from Werner Herzog documentary "Wheel of Time"
Nonprofits & Activism
Werner Herzog
Dalai Lama
Standard YouTube License

ed by forgottendiamonds on Jan 20, 2010

Tibetan Monks painstakingly spend five days t0 design and place tiny grains of sand to create a beautiful work of temporary art. On day 6 they scoop up the sand and place it in a body of water, releasing the energy of the project back into the community.


Nonprofits & Activism
crow collection of asian art
dallas arts district
time lapse
Standard YouTube License

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Glenbow Museum Online Exhibitions


Tibet, c. 14th century A.D.
gilt bronze
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Java, Indonesia, 9th century A.D.
volcanic stone
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Walking Buddha
Sukothai, Thailand, 14th-15th century A.D.
wood, paint, lacquer, mother-of-pearl
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Preaching Buddha
Gandhara (Swat Valley), 3rd-4th century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Fasting Buddha
Gandhara Region, 2nd-3rd century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Amida Buddha
Japan, Heian period, 10th-11th century A.D., 
later restorations to hands and feet
carved wood block, traces of gesso
Glenbow Collection
Gift of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Images of the Buddha recall important moments during the life of the Buddha himself, and the teachings which followed from them. As a starving ascetic, a resplendent prince, and an infinitely wise and dignified teacher, the Buddha in art offers a glimpse of the richness and complexity of the Buddhist faith.

Buddhism, unlike Hinduism, is a religion with an historical founder. Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of the Sakya clan, was born in the 6th century B.C.E., just inside the modern border of Nepal. Deeply moved by the inevitability of human suffering and death, the Buddha sought insight and peace of mind through self-denial, and finally, through the realization of the Middle Way. This philosophy of life consists of moral, ethical, and spiritual guidelines which help the believer to lead a happy, constructive, and responsible life.

The hand gestures of the Buddha - or mudras - convey specific meanings to the devotee. In this way, the language of art becomes the language of faith.  Here, the Buddha touches the ground; an act known as "calling the earth to witness," or "bhumisparsa mudra." In this example, the Buddha marks the precise moment when he has achieved enlightenment.  As he seeks to share the insights he has gained, his fingers intertwine into a form called "Wheel of the Law," or "dharmachakra mudra."

Buddhist images of wisdom, love, and compassion were created by people of various cultures, using indigenous materials and artistic conventions.  The Japanese carving of Amida Buddha has the fluid drapery folds and subtly expanded stomach characteristic of this period of Japanese Buddhist woodblock carving.

The Pure Land Sect of Japanese Buddhism is devoted to the Amida Buddha, or Buddha of Infinite Light. The marks of wisdom and enlightenment, like the protuberance on the top of his head (ushnisha) and the small, circular form between his eyebrows (urna) have been integrated into a work of art whose gentle rhythms and subtle, lifelike contours convey the profound tranquillity essential to the Buddhist faith. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goddess at the

"Elohim," the name for the creative power in Genesis, is a female
plural, a fact that generations of learned rabbis and Christian
theologians have all explained as merely grammatical convention. The
King James and most other Bibles translate it as "God," but if you take
the grammar literally, it seems to mean "goddesses." Al Shaddai, god of
battles, appears later, and YHWH, mispronounced Jehovah, later still.

--Robert Anton Wilson


Hissing snakes rise and coil from around her skull, and brandishing instruments of death, she defies and destroys obstacles to faith.

Then, once again, her hideous fury is calmed, and the gaunt and ferocious warrior is transformed into a benevolent and warmly feminine companion.

Four thousand years ago, female terracotta figurines were made by the peoples of the Indus Valley, and may be the earliest historical evidence of goddess worship. In the early medieval period of Hinduism, from about 300 B.C.E., the goddess as Shakti, or divine power, arises from temples and texts in her full glory.

Kali, the Dark Mother, is the giver of life and the source of life's end. Here, she stands on top of two recumbent figures. These are two versions of Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction. One is unconscious, and the other conscious. Kali arises triumphantly from the awakening Shiva, as an embodiment of his universal power.

The female divine was elevated to independent status in the 6th century C.E., in a Hindu text called the Devi-Mahatmya, or Hymn of Praise to the Great Goddess.

At about the same time, images of goddesses began to appear in Buddhist art. This magnificent, complex, and unfinished high relief sculpture of the goddess Tara from Eastern India tells a story in stone. In one of her right hands, she proffers a closed lotus to the worshipper. This symbolizes the night, during which time she protects her faithful devotees. 

South India, 17th-18th century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Central India, 10th-12th century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

India, Chola Period, 12th-13th century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Kanya Kali
Punjab, North India, 15th-16th century A.D.
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Eastern India, 12th century A.D.
grey stone
Collection of Bumper Development Corporation Ltd.

Copyright © 2012 Glenbow Museum

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Kinds of Intelligence by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi Classic Famous Poet - All Poetry.

Two Kinds of Intelligence by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi Classic Famous Poet - All Poetry.:

"Two Kinds of Intelligence by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi"
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It's fluid,
and it doesn't move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.

Editor notes
From the translations of Rumi by Coleman Barks

Jalal al-Din Rumi was born on September 30, 1207 in Balkh (Afghanistan). His father Baha' Walad was descended from the first caliph Abu Bakr and was influenced by the ideas of Ahmad Ghazali, brother of the famous philosopher. Baha' Walad's sermons were published and still exist as Divine Sciences (Ma'arif). He fled the Mongols with his son in 1219, and it was reported that at Nishapur young Rumi met 'Attar, who gave him a copy of his Book of Mysteries (Asrar-nama). After a pilgrimage to Mecca and other travels, the family went to Rum (Anatolia). Baha' Walad was given an important teaching position in the capital at Konya (Iconium) in 1228 by Seljuk king 'Ala' al-Din Kayqubad (r. 1219-1236) and his vizier Mu'in al-Din. Rumi married and had a son, who later wrote his biography. In 1231 Rumi succeeded his late father as a religious teacher. His father's friend Burhan al-Din arrived and for nine years taught Rumi Sufism. Rumi probably met the philosopher ibn al-Arabi at Damascus.

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“When the demon become Buddha, you should subdue him and let him become Buddha by dealing with the demon as Buddha.

When the Buddha becomes Buddha, you should intend to become Buddha and let him become Buddha by dealing with the Buddha as Buddha.

When the person becomes Buddha, you should harmonize him and let him become Buddha by dealing with the person as Buddha.

You should know that there is a passage to freedom the moment you deal with something as Buddha.”

Dogen Zenji

Thursday, January 12, 2012

“The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books.

“It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books – a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.”
Albert Einstein

“The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.”
- Ilya Prigogine (Chemist-Physicist)
Recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry
I. Prigogine, N. Gregair, A. Babbyabtz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28

“The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see,” Davies adds, “even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life — almost contrived — you might say a ‘put-up job’.”
- Dr. Paul Davies (noted author and Professor
of Theoretical Physics at Adelaide University)

“…how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values.”
- Professor Steven Weinberg
(Nobel Laureate in High Energy Physics,
writing in the journal “Scientific American”.)

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
- Isaac Newton
(“General Scholium,” in Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1687)

16O has exactly the right nuclear energy level either to prevent all the carbon from turning into oxygen or to facilitate sufficient production of 16O for life. Fred Hoyle, who discovered these coincidences in 1953, concluded that “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”
- Hoyle, Fred. “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,”
in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20. (1982), p.16

“I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”
- Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy)
Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.

“Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word ‘miraculous’ without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word.”
- George Ellis (British astrophysicist)
Ellis, G.F.R. 1993. The Anthropic Principle: Laws and Environments.
The Anthropic Principle, F. Bertola and U.Curi, ed. New York, Cambridge University Press, p. 30

“We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
- John O’Keefe (astronomer at NASA)
Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 200.

“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.”
- Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics)
Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.

“It is, for example, impossible for evolution to account for the fact than one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together.”
“It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”
- Anthony Flew
Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author, and debater

As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather, Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?
George Greenstein (American astronomer)
Greenstein, George. The Symbiotic, Universe: Life and Mind in the Cosmos.
(New York: William Morrow, (1988), pp. 26-27

“What turns a mere piece of matter from being mere matter into an animated being? What gives certain special physical patterns in the universe the mysterious privilege of feeling sensations and having experiences?”
- D.R. Hofstadter

“When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.”
- Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics)
Tipler, F.J. 1994. The Physics Of Immortality. New York, Doubleday, Preface.

“A life-giving factor lies at the centre of the whole machinery and design of the world.”
- John Wheeler (American physicist)
Wheeler, John A. “Foreword,” in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler. (Oxford, U. K.: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. vii

“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”
- Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias, co-discoverer of the radiation afterglow
(Quoted in Walter Bradley, “The ‘Just-so’ Universe: The Fine-Tuning of Constants and Conditions in the Cosmos,”
in William Dembski and James Kushiner, eds., Signs of Intelligence. 168)

“We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world. We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible, to the gravity that glues us to an Earth that would otherwise send us spinning off into space, or to the atoms of which we are made and on whose stability we fundamentally depend. Except for children (who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions), few of us spend much time wondering why nature is the way it is; where the cosmos came from, or whether it was always here; if time will one day flow backward and effects precede causes; or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans can know.”
- Carl Sagan
(From an introduction to “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking)

“This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth… [But] for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; [and] as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
- Robert Jastrow
(God and the Astronomers [New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1978], 116.
Professor Jastrow was the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute,
now director of the Mount Wilson Institute and its observatory.)

“As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”
- George Greenstein (astronomer)
Greenstein, G. 1988. The Symbiotic Universe. New York: William Morrow, p.27.

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption … For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneous liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”
- Aldous Huxley     (REPORT, June 1966.)   “Confession of Professed Atheist,” 

“All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. But we believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, that it is hard for us to imagine that it did”.
- Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr. Harold C. Urey


Prayer - Jewish Practice

Prayer - Jewish Practice:


Why We Pray
By Sholom Ber Dubov
If G-d knows what we need, why do we need to pray?
1DownloadListen (46:46)

Prayer: A Hard Day’s Night
By Moshe New
Discover the two dimensions of prayer as we explore which prayer is the first of the day: the morning or evening prayer?
1DownloadListen (41:35)

How to Use Prayer as a Meditative Tool
By Ari Shishler
Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost the art of meditative prayer. Chassidic philosophy offers a comprehensive approach to rekindling the meditative experience within prayer. Rabbi Shishler offers a glimpse into the spiritual journey called prayer.
DownloadListen (1:01:34)

Rabbi Ari Shishler is the director of Chabad of Strathavon, South Africa

The Jewish Meditation Series
Guidance on Mindful Prayer
By Tzvi Freeman
In order to give one’s words wings with which they may fly, we endeavor to infuse them with meditative intentions. Learning to inspire prayer with meditation greatly enhances the experience and imbues it with enhanced meaning and reach. This series offers guided meditations appropriate to everyday prayer.

The Three Daily Prayers
By Yehuda Leib Schapiro
This class details the special significance and unique quality of each of the three daily prayers; Shacharit (morning), Mincha (afternoon) and Maariv (evening).
DownloadListen (51:28)

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In everlasting memory of our founder, Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen, pioneer of Torah, Judaism and Jewish information on the web

© 2001-2011 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Look To This Day

And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.

--Phil Ochs

*source: ( )

Look to this day:

For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.

The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

View: Kalidasa Poems

An Indian poet and dramatist, Kalidasa lived sometime between the reign of Agnimitra, the second Shunga king (c. 170 BC) who was the hero of one of his dramas, and the Aihole inscription of AD 634 which praises Kalidasa's poetic skills. Most scholars now associate him with the reign of Candra Gupta II (reigned c. 380-c. 415).

Little is known about Kalidasa's life. According to legend, the poet was known for his beauty which brought him to the attention of a princess who married him. However, as legend has it, Kalidasa had grown up without much education, and the princess was ashamed of his ignorance and coarseness. A devoted worshipper of the goddess Kali (his name means literally Kali's slave), Kalidasa is said to have called upon his goddess for help and was rewarded with a sudden and extraordinary gift of wit. He is then said to have become the most brilliant of the "nine gems" at the court of the fabulous king Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Legend also has it that he was murdered by a courtesan in Sri Lanka during the reign of Kumaradasa.

Kalidasa's second play, generally considered his masterpiece, is the Shakuntala which tells the story of another king, Dushyanta, who falls in love with another girl of lowly birth, the lovely Shakuntala. This time, the couple is happily married and things seem to be going smoothly until Fate intervenes. When the king is called back to court by some pressing business, his new bride unintentionally offends a saint who puts a curse on her, erasing the young girl entirely from the king's memory. Softening, however, the saint concedes that the king's memory will return when Shakuntala returns to him the ring he gave her. This seems easy enough--that is, until the girl loses the ring while bathing. And to make matters worse, she soon discovers that she is pregnant with the king's child. But true love is destined to win the day, and when a fisherman finds the ring, the king's memory returns and all is well. Shakuntala is remarkable not only for it's beautiful love poetry, but also for its abundant humor which marks the play from beginning to end.

The last of Kalidasa's surviving plays, Vikramorvashe or Urvashi Conquered by Valor, is more mystical than the earlier plays. This time, the king (Pururavas) falls in love with a celestial nymph named Urvashi. After writing her mortal suitor a love letter on a birch leaf, Urvashi returns to the heavens to perform in a celestial play. However, she is so smitten that she misses her cue and pronounces her lover's name during the performance. As a punishment for ruining the play, Urvashi is banished from heaven, but cursed to return the moment her human lover lays eyes on the child that she will bear him. After a series of mishaps, including Urvashi's temporary transformation into a vine, the curse is eventually lifted, and the lovers are allowed to remain together on Earth. Vikramorvashe is filled poetic beauty and a fanciful humor that is reminiscent of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In addition to his plays, Kalidasa wrote two surviving epic poems Raghuvamsha ("Dynasty of Raghu") and Kumarasambhava ("Birth of the War God"), as well as the lyric "Meghaduta" ("Cloud Messenger"). He is generally considered to be the greatest Indian writer of any epoch.


THE autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice-stems in her hair
And lilies in her face.
In flowers of grasses she is clad;
And as she moves along,
Birds greet her with their cooing glad
Like bracelets' tinkling song.
A diadem adorns the night
Of multitudinous stars;
Her silken robe is white moonlight,
Set free from cloudy bars;
And on her face (the radiant moon)
Bewitching smiles are shown:
She seems a slender maid, who soon
Will be a woman grown.
Over the rice-fields, laden plants
Are shivering to the breeze;
While in his brisk caresses dance
The blossomed-burdened trees;
He ruffles every lily-pond
Where blossoms kiss and part,
And stirs with lover's fancies fond
The young man's eager heart.

This English translation of "Autumn" was composed by Arthur W. Ryder (1877-1938)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

File:Massive golden buddha on the sumit of Eimei Shan.jpg

Mount Emei in Sichuan Western China
View from top of Emei Shan. Sea of clouds.

File:Guangfu pavilion at Mount Emei.JPG
Guangfu pavilion, with summit visible in background

 Bao Guo Temple in Emei Mountain

Buddhist temple at Mt Emei

Shaolin Temples gate.

Mount Emei is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, and is traditionally regarded as the bodhimaṇḍa, or place of enlightenment, of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra.

16th and 17th century sources allude to the practice of martial arts in the monasteries of Mount Emei[4] made the earliest extant reference to the Shaolin Monastery as Chinese boxing's place of origin.[5]

Buddhist architecture on Emei

This is the location of the first Buddhist temple built in China in the 1st century CE.  The site has seventy-six Buddhist monasteries of the Ming and Qing period, most of them located near the mountain top. The monasteries demonstrate a flexible architectural style that adapts to the landscape. Some, such as the halls of Baoguosi, are built on terraces of varying levels, while others, including the structures of Leiyinsi, are on raised stilts. Here the fixed plans of Buddhist monasteries of earlier periods were modified or ignored in order to make full use of the natural scenery. The buildings of Qingyinge are laid out in an irregular plot on the narrow piece of land between the Black Dragon River and the White Dragon River. The site is large and the winding foot path is 50 km, taking several days to walk.

Cable cars ease the ascent to the two temples at Jinding (3,077 m), an hour's hike from the mountain's peak.

Visitors to Mount Emei will likely see dozens of Tibetan Macaques who can often be viewed taking food from tourists. Local merchants sell nuts for tourists to feed the monkeys. Some monkeys may be seen eating human food such as potato chips and even drinking soda from discarded bottles.

Tibetan macaque