Monday, November 3, 2008

Marine Air - One call Does it All

By: Omar W. Rosales

I’ve taken several weeks off the blog, catching up with work and finishing a Trailer. Recently, I came across a stunning photo of a V-22 Osprey. Wow! What a cool shot.

The V-22 is a medium lift tiltrotor aircraft that’s designed to replace the aging fleet of CH-46 helicopters. The V-22, or Osprey, has the unique ability to take off like a helicopter, then tilt its rotors and fly like a plane. This gives the Osprey increased range and higher altitude capabilities.

Flying in Marine helicopters was always fun. I never felt safer in the air, than with Marine pilots and Marine aircrew, flying in Marine aircraft. As safe as it is, its also very dangerous. My good friend Jerry died in a helicopter crash, while flying a combat mission in Iraq.

This demonstrates that war is indiscriminate, taking precious lives of both young and old, feeble and strong, brave and the not-so-brave. Ultimately, war is perhaps humankind’s most terrible and destructive invention.

Yet peace comes from within. If our leaders have inner peace, they are less likely to find conflict with those around them and then exacerbate fragile situations. Without inner peace, there is constant turmoil. War within, leads to war without.

Next week, we’ll look at the Final Realization of Buddhism – that we are more connected than we believe and that the Buddha-mind is the ultimate transcendant point of consciousness.

- Omar W. Rosales

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Afternoon with the Dalai Lama

By: Omar W. Rosales

So anyways - the day of the meeting. We arrive at about 11AM. The morning teaching program has just ended, so we wander past the crowds from the monastery, until we reach the reception center.

Once inside, I tell the guards of our appointment, and they call Tenzin Takla (the Dalai Lama's Nephew and scheduler). As we're waiting, a girl comes in followed by her boyfriend. She appears hysterical and is making all sorts of weird singing noises, like she's in some sort of ecstatic trance. Bill gives her some water, and she collapses into her boyfriend's arms.

The day before, in the reception area, was a woman claiming to be a French Diplomat, and wanting to see His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. She was dressed in a tight t-shirt, spandex, and crocs. Yeah right. Note to self, if you claim to be a diplomat, don't show up at the Embassy in Spandex and Crocs. So, the Spandex woman shoves her passport and business card into the guard's face. "Look - diplomat! See my card?". Note to self numero 2, if you are a diplomat, the office should already be expecting you. No way, you're just going to show up and demand to see His Holiness.

So back to the day of our interview, we're waiting in the office with the hysterical girl, then the guards motion us in. After several searches, we're cleared to enter the compound. No cellphones.

We walk a short path up to the Treaty House. I call it the Treaty House, because it looks like Peace Accords are signed here. Three rooms, a big conference room, and a small kitchen. The guards (Indian-trained Tibetan commandos) have already brought our cameras and sound gear up. Inside the conference room are two of the biggest monks I've ever seen. One is 6'3" 220lbs and the other is 6'1" 210 lbs, solid. The big monks ask if we need to rearrange furniture. The bigger one (probably nicknamed "Tiny") manhandles a solid wood table, without even breaking a sweat . . . and after a few moments of rearranging, the room is ready. Cameras are set up. Roll film, roll sound.

After a couple of minutes, Tenzin Takla walks in. I speak with him for a moment. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, is on the way.

Bill is changing something on one of the cameras last minute, when all of a sudden, the Dalai Lama walks in.

He's tall! He's about 5'9", but a bit hunched over a bit because of his back. We sit down. The Dalai Lama mikes himself, sound check and we're off.

I speak to His Holiness about my questions, about my dreams. I tell him about our program, and he nods. It was amazing.

It was amazing! After 40 minutes, all my questions were answered. We spoke about Global Warming and Cloning. The Buddha and Nirvana. And culture, why its important to preserve culture.

At the very end, he stands so that we may all take a picture with him. He then approaches me, close. The Lord Buddha clasped my hand, with his. "Holiness" I say. "Please don't leave us. We love you too much." He says, "Don't worry, I have no plans to leave. Not just yet." The Dalai Lama smiled. And the Lord Buddha's hand provided me comfort.

I presented him our gift. A new Swiss Army knife with Barometer, Altimeter, Temperature, Time, and an LED light. (His Holiness the Dalai Lama collects Swiss Army knives and timepieces). He thanked me, then put the gift in his monk's bag, underneath the folds to his robe. We said our goodbyes. Then he left.

For five years, I traveled the world to find Spiritual Masters. High and low, from deserts to oceans, I've risked my life to find Messages for Humanity. Inner Peace, the Environment, and the search for our immortal souls. And you know what? The final realization is that you don't have to go to India, or Central America, or anywhere else to find comfort. The secret to Heaven lies within. That's what the Buddha taught me . . .

And that was the second time I met His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

- Omar W. Rosales

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From India, With Love

We're in India right now, completing the second half of "Heaven in Exile", our Feature about the Tibetan Issue, 50 years after the Chinese Invasion of 1959.

Dharamsala is amazing. Its unlike anyother place on Earth.

I'll post some pics soon . . . when I figure out how to use this large silver wafer, with a glowing apple on it.

The food is excellent - mutton (lamb), chicken, and lots of curry. Will post more soon . . .

- Omar W. Rosales

Friday, August 29, 2008

Archaeology 201

Archaeologists today unearthed an unusual burial in Greece. A solid gold wreath, in addition to a set of human remains, was found in a clay pot, amongst other burials.

Hmmmm . . . that’s interesting. This is where Archaeology is combined with detective work and logic. The typical burials in Greece, at about 500 B.C. were fairly elaborate. There was a ritual mourning period, funerary monument, and public burial.

Bodies were interred in a state of repose, never in jars or huddled down. The only culture that actually put bones into jars were the Tibetans. Even the Egyptians used canopic jars, but only to store body organs.

So, we have a jar, a gold wreath, and some remains. Typically, the gold wreath would symbolize rulership or a member of the royal family. The person burying the deceased had great reverence and respect for either folklore, customs, or the interred person (this is why the gold wreath was not plundered nor stolen by the caretaker). Radiocarbon dating would give us the relative date of the jar, and of the bones. In addition, the burial is fairly clandestine, since there were no similar burials nearby (no other remains in jars).

An educated wild guess would say that, this is a burial of a member of the royal lineage. Perhaps an heir, perhaps an illegitimate child. Perhaps there was fear that the decedent might be exhumed, this is why the burial was done in secret. It was someone important enough to place a gold wreath and hide the burial. But perhaps too provocative to bury openly, with the proper honors.

But again, this is just a guess. Why these remains were interred, along with a gold wreath . . . more than likely, we’ll never be sure . . .

- Omar W. Rosales

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Will the Real Bigfoot Please Stand Up?

So, there’s a hurricane in the Gulf, we leave to India next week, and I’m writing about Bigfoot. That sounds right about normal. We won’t mention my dreams of my friends the Lwa, but you get the idea.

It was revealed last week that the two gentlemen claiming to have captured Bigfoot and placed it in a large ice cooler were hucksters, propagating a less-than-compelling hoax upon the unsuspecting American public. Really? C’mon

So you mean to tell me two guys from the sticks didn’t manage to capture Bigfoot? That they failed to accomplish what no Explorer, Expedition Leader, Sherpa, Mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary, Backpacker, Hiker, Hunter, Soldier, Television Show, Reality Show, Journalist or other person has ever done? Duh!

Its always good to be a skeptic. You should always check your information. There’s a lot of gray areas when we deal with Social Sciences such as Humanities, Anthropology, and Archaeology. You should verify your sources. Some authors will actually appropriate cultural symbology and pass it off as their own. Worse, is when authors make up entire accounts of countries they’ve never been to, and fabricate the work of healers that don’t exist. Not only are they stealing another’s culture, they’re purposefully misleading. Its basically cultural theft combined with Plastic Shamanism.

There was no Walkabout in Australia, that yielded a Mutant Message. There’s no Sisterhood of the Shields, and there was no Don Juan. All these are invented shamans and fictional accounts. Which takes away from the real shamanic work and the sacrifice of real shamanic practitioners, who work to sustain indigenous culture and sacred religious traditions.

Please, do your research. Find out about shamans and indigenous healing traditions. Explore your world. But, don’t believe everything you see or hear . . .

- Omar W. Rosales

P.S. If you see Bigfoot, tell him I’ll meet him at that Fancy Restaurant called “I-HOP”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On Angels

A friend recently asked, “I'm studying angels, so what do you know?” Hmmmm, let’s see . . .

Angels are extremely powerful supernatural beings. On a day-to-day basis, and in your spiritual practice, one shouldn’t see angels nor want to see angels. Seeing angels usually symbolizes the presence of danger. And not all angels are holy.

The word ‘Angel’ comes from the Greek word ‘angelos’, which means messenger. In their communications with humanity, angels are usually messengers of God’s word – bringing important instructions, epiphanies, and messages. Physically, angels are said to be hermaphrodites, having both male and female sexual organs (non-functioning). Traditionally, angels don’t have eyes or souls. Some angels are also said to be resentful of human beings, because God placed humans above angels by giving the human beings a soul.

During the Middle Ages, scholars devoted years to figuring out Angels’ mysteries. Angels also are divided in Orders, which indicate their closeness to God. The orders are divided into spheres: First Sphere, Second Sphere, and Third Sphere. The First Sphere consists of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. In the Second Sphere, we find Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. In the Third Sphere are Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

The most widely-known types of angels are the Archangels, which represent God’s primary messengers to humankind. The four Archangels are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. Archangel Michael is depicted with a flaming sword, and is said to be the commander of the Army of God. Michael (or Meek-e-el) means “Who is like God?” and was the war cry shouted as the War in Heaven began and the rebellious angels were cast down. According to legend, the Fifth Archangel grabbed Archangel Michael by the wings as Satanel was being cast out of heaven, but God intervened and saved Michael. The fallen angels became demons, destined to plague humanity until the End of Days, with the Morning Star as their terrible leader.

Archangel Michael is sometimes called ‘St. Michael’, but Archangel Michael was never a human being. Gabriel is the Angel of Death. Most biblical accounts refer to Gabriel as a fearful creature that would carry out the unmerciful will of God. To appease Gabriel, mystics would leave out food and say, “Upon him be Peace,” as Gabriel would appear, so as to subdue the angel. Gabriel is also said to be the final angel to blow his trumpet, in the End of Days, as the final plagues are unleashed upon humanity and the Earth. Accounts differ as to purpose and personalities of Raphael and Uriel.

Angels are said to have no Free Will or volition, but then this presents a dichotomy, because how do we explain the War in Heaven? Angels can appear as small sparks of light, but usually pass unseen by human beings, unless the angels allow themselves to be seen. Normally, you wouldn’t call upon angels for assistance in day-to-day life. They have very specific purposes, and usually don’t appear unless it’s a time of tribulation or danger.

The highest Angel is the Metatron. Metatron is the shortened Greek form of ‘meta thronons’ or ‘the one that sits behind the throne’. In Talamudic traditions, the Metatron is God’s scribe and the only other entity (besides God) that is allowed to sit down in heaven.

That’s basically about it. Personally, I’ve only seen an angel once in my lifetime. I was waking out of a deep sleep and saw one stand at the corner of my bedroom. It was amazing. I would say it was about 8 feet tall, enormous, glowing, in white robes, and with white-feathered wings. It was more incandescent, than fully physical and solid in form. I’m unsure if I was in danger, but I’m thankful for the being’s protection.

- Omar W. Rosales

Monday, July 28, 2008

Meeting His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Every once in awhile, fortune shines upon us and we receive a remarkable opportunity. This last week was extraordinary as we spent time with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In Madison, WI for a Tenshug, or Long Life Ceremony, His Holiness provided us with an amazing glimpse into Tibetan Buddhism.

The week was filled with Tibetan food (momos and beef), language, dances, songs, ceremonies, customs, crafts, artwork – almost all the aspects of culture. The AP later reported that it was the largest gathering of Tibetans in the United States and Canada, ever.

As part of the ceremony we received the

Bodhisattva vows, teachings on Kamalashila, lectures on Santideva (pronounced Shawn-tee-de-va), long-life blessings, and questions and answers with His Holiness. We learned about the connection between Karma and Connectedness. That if you believe in Karma, then you must also acknowledge the dependent phenomena aspect, as well. Since one person’s actions bring about good or bad Karma, that resultant/ return Karma usually comes from another person. Thereby, Karma is connectedness since others’ return actions arise from our own Karma. (Get it?)

At the very end of the ceremony, we set up our crew close to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has very good skin tone, he looks very tan and fit. Most of the time, on TV, he looks extremely pale. But, he looked good. We spent the next several hours filming the Tibetan-only lectures and program. We heard from the Karshag or Tibetan Parliament, we heard from the Prime Minister on the state of Ministerial Departments, and we heard about the future of this great culture and people. It was a nascent democracy-in-action, it was a stepping stone for freedom as a small group of leaders met and planned the future for their struggling country. I thought about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1789, the Magna Carta in 1215, and Ancient Greece - all places where democracy was formed and basic human rights flourished.

Religion, democracy, spirituality, culture, reincarnation, transcendence of the Soul – all these were discussed at the Tenshug. At the very end, His Holiness rose, he greeted us personally, and we greeted him. I had very interesting dreams that night. And that was the day we met the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet . . .

Tashi Delek!


- Omar W. Rosales

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fake Skulls, Real Lies

Today, there was a news story about the Smithsonian Institution and the British Museum discovering that the Crystal Skulls in their collection were not Pre-Columbian, but probably made in the 19th Century. Duh!

Its been known for sometime in Archaeological circles, that the Crystal Skulls are not authentic.
They are cut from quartz crystal, and are magnificent works-of-art, but they are not Mixtec, Mexica (Aztec), or Maya, Zapotec, or Olmec in origin. The skulls’ origin can be found in the shop of an Austrian glass cutter, c.1840, who was employed to produce a skull in crystal. The cutter found the job so profitable, that a few more skulls were made and sold to the highest biddesr. At the time, there was a resurgence in the interest of artifacts from MesoAmerica and Central America, as well as the Mexica and Maya civilizations.

A few crystal skulls have been found, that actually date from the Post-Classic Maya Civilization and Mexica Civilizations, but these artifacts are quite small and typically no larger than a golf ball.
More importantly, religious elites at the time would never have allowed the veneration of such ritual artifacts, as a large crystal skull, because it would take away importance from Maya or Aztec ruling elite.

In MesoAmerica, we see the absorption of important religious symbology and iconography (including the sun god, and Quetzalcoatl) into the religious iconography utilized by the elites.
The elites wanted to be associated with these deities, and even held ceremonies to closely associate themselves with these symbols. But, they did not allow the worship of these symbols outright. It was simply too powerful, too unstable, and too dangerous for the elite power structure to allow this type of worship as more emphasis would eventually be placed on the artifacts, than on the kings themselves. The only civilization that actively worshiped artifacts and/or worshiped the dead was the Inca. The Inca mummies had lands, voted in council meetings, and were given tribute. But this was the only culture to do this, even the Egyptians would subsequently break into prior Pharaoh’s tombs . . .

So of course, the Crystal Skulls were fakes.
The religious elites of the Maya and Aztec Civilizations would never have allowed them to exist. Power, or the mythos of power, has to lie in the hands of the God-King, not the artifact. Because the artifact could be stolen, and the God-King replaced. Even if an artifact had power, the elites would never admit it. It would be too dangerous and threatening to the social structure – taking away power from the King.

The most powerful religious symbols were always hidden. Its interesting . . . fifteen hundred years later, has anything really changed?



Monday, June 16, 2008

The Future is Here! Hydrogen Cars Arrive . . .

Monday, June 16th brought us an unexpected surprise. Honda announced the release of its Hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity. The Clarity is a concept-car made reality. Fueled by Hydrogen, its byproducts are oxygen, heat, and water.

Stylish and roomy, the Clarity provides us a glimpse of what the cars of the future may look like. Available only in SoCal, near the areas of Torrance and Santa Monica, the Clarity is being offered for the lease price of $600 per month.

Its always a good idea to do things that help the environment, from recycling plastic bags and cans, to buying recycled paper towels. Buddhists tell us that the Universe is made up of four elements – Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. And as we grow in technological prowess, we must maintain our commitment to our planet. Lest our creations overcome us. Bravo Honda!

- OWR.

P.S. Our interview with Robert Thurman is posted here:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Question of the Week - Memorial Day

This week’s column is dedicated to the memory of those who have served their country. There are two major holidays in the United States that commemorate and recognize those with military service – Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Veterans Day, also known as ‘Armistice Day’ is held on the 11th day of the 11th month, to thank our nations’ veterans.

Armistice Day was the symbolic end of World War I – the War to End all Wars, and was observed on the 11th minute of the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month, or when the Allies and Germany ceased hostilities on the Western Front in 1918. Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954, by an act of Congress.

Memorial Day or ‘Decoration Day’ began in 1866 and was meant to honor Union Soldiers who died serving their country. After World II, recognition of Memorial Day became more widespread, and in 1968, the United States Congress decreed Memorial Day a national holiday.

For myself, Memorial Day also has a personal meaning.

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 1144-05
November 03, 2005
Media Contact: Marine Corps Public Affairs - (703) 614-4309 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Major Gerald M. Bloomfield II, 38, of Ypsilanti, Michigan
Captain Michael D. Martino, 32, of Fairfax, Virginia

Both Marines died November 2, 2005, when their AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed while flying in support of security and stabilization operations near Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Both Marines were with Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, their unit was attached to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II MEF (Forward).

The crash is currently under investigation.

I was very much taken aback by my good friend’s death. Jerry or “Beav” was an outstanding pilot, a good man, and an amazing friend.

Ultimately, all wars are wrong, and we can never replace those who gave their lives. But we CAN honor the memory of those who served, and actively create a world of Peace.

Beav, we won’t soon forget you. I know you’re up there somewhere, watching over us, and smiling. I thank you for your friendship and your integrity. You are missed!

Semper Fidelis,
Omar W. Rosales

Friday, May 2, 2008

Question of the Week - Dr. Robert Thurman

I had the honor and privilege this weekend to spend time with Professor Robert Thurman. Dr. Thurman is the Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, as well as the President of Tibet House. In town for several events at UBC, I had an exclusive interview with Professor Thurman about his new book, “Why the Dalai Lama Matters”.

Warm and engaging, Professor Thurman is one of my personal heroes. An excerpt of the interview will be posted shortly. . .

One of the things Professor Thurman spoke about was China’s characterization (really a mischaracterization) of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He said that the Dalai Lama recently received an upgrade from being a “Wolf in Monk’s Robes” to a “Jackal in Monk’s Robes”. Of course, everyone knows that the Dalai Lama is person of Peace, similar to Ghandi or MLK or Kennedy, symbolizing the greatness of human potential and human spirit, that is present in all of us.

Its difficult for the His Holiness to respond to these baseless accusations. The whole situation with the Tibetan Uprising has placed Dharamsala in a very difficult position, with the Government-in-Exile taking most of the blame, but having little control over the protestors, or the Chinese response, or even the Chinese propaganda machine. In fact, the Chinese have been negotiating with the Dalai Lama’s representatives since 1995, but they still downplay his Holiness' importance.

With regard to a Global Civilization Matrix, Buddhism can indeed play an important role in our lives. As a model for Democracy, Peace, Understanding, and Compassion, Buddhism is not a religion, but a philosophy. That’s what the Dharma is - it is the “do” or the “Way” of life.

The other big thing to consider is that Buddhism is not the road to ‘Nothingness’. And ‘Nothingness’ is not the same as ‘Emptiness’. These terms are vastly different. Nothingness, is just that – nothing. While Emptiness means ‘To be free of’. So when we say, one of the goals of Buddhism is ‘Emptiness’, this means we want to be Empty of Hate, Empty of Fear, Empty of Envy, and Empty of Greed. Remember the Wheel of Life, and the three animal vices? Exactly.

The goal is to rid ourselves of the delusion of ignorance, the delusion of separation, to Empty our Prejudices, so there is no separation between the Object and the Observer. So, we realize, that ultimately, we are all One. Buddhism is not disintegration, but Unity. A Unity with the Cosmos . . .

Its hard when people say things about us that are untrue. But I think you should measure a person by their actions and their words. What do their friends and peers say about them? Does this person walk in a path of harmony with the planet? Do they live the Dharma? Are their actions beneficial to the sum of humanity? And lastly, of course everyone knows that the Dalai Lama isnt a Jackal. Especially the Chinese . . .

- O.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Question of the Week - Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Nope, I haven’t been lost in the Amazon rain forest, or spending a Walkabout near Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory of Australia. Actually busy with PrePro. Its like learning a completely different language. There’s a Grip, that doesn’t grip a thing because of the union, an artist that paints with sound (Foley), a Photography Director that uses no still cameras, and an Executive Producer that produces mainly headaches . . . Where’s my translator?!? Someone needs to make a Lonely Planet guide to the world of Film Production, now that would be a good book!

But really, I think we’re going to shift to a Monthly format for the Question of the Week or perhaps a Bi-Weekly Dispatch. Since we’re on the topic of books, people often ask, “What are good books about Psychic Ability and/or How do I increase my Psychic Skills?” (This is where the Sound Designer cues the Woo-ooo-OOOhhh space music, and the DP flashes a quick green card on the screen with white letters that read “Visualize Swirled Peas” and spins it a bit)

So, what are good books to increase your Psychic Ability?

One of my favorite books is “Psychic Living” by my good friend and fellow psychic Stacey Ann Wolf. Stacey was actually a producer for MTV Total Request Live for a bit, before she jumped headfirst into the psychic world. She lives in Manhattan, is very hip, and actually spent 30 minutes with me one day explaining the Ins-and-Outs of the NYC Subway system. Did I tell you she was really cool?

Anyways, the book explains basic psychic phenomena, but also gives you simple and easy exercises to follow. There’s a whole school of thought that actually compares ritual belief systems and whether or not a ritualized belief is more effective, if its more complex. The simple answer is no. It has nothing to do with complexity. It has to do with what you believe. If you believe that something requires 30 steps and non-stop ritual dance for 30 hours, then hooray. But if you believe that the same ritual can be done in 30 minutes, with 3 steps, then double-hooray. It really comes down yo your beliefs and auric/energetic field. (Sounds like another good book topic).

But, I definitely recommend this book, because its easy to read, its fun, and it subdues alot of the fear-based hocus-pocus nonsense out of the realm of spiritual work.

Another excellent book is Everyday Karma by my good friend and fellow author, Dr. Carmen Harra, Ph.D. Dr. Harra is a really neat lady. She’s from Romania, was a famous singer, and then decided to emigrate to the United States solely on dreams and intuition. At the age of 45, she started her Ph.D. Yes, started! She’s an amazing woman, a gifted psychic, and an inspiration to everyone.

Everyday Karma really breaks down the primary Universal Law of Karma. You cannot read this book, and not be changed. It will affect your performance at work, home, and school. But it will also make you ponder your interactions. After reading it, and living for a couple of weeks, you begin to wonder if there is some sort of tally sheet or invisible film crew following you around, because Wow! Karma is real. But Karma isn’t a burden . . . its an opportunity. A chance to really help those around you and improve the planet in very positive way.

The last book I recommend is by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. His Holiness (or HH) the Dalai Lama has written almost 30 books on Buddhism. But, one of the best has to be Path to Enlightenment.

Its very easy to read, extremely rich in character, and teaches the lessons of Buddhism in a very subtle way. I think it was only printed two hardbound editions. So, if you can find a First Edition hardbound copy, buy it. Its definitely a good book.

Well, back to the Unreal world of film and those finger sandwiches, made of white bread and some type of meat disguised as Tuna!

- O.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Question of the Week - Buddhist Trifecta, Part III

This week, we’ll wrap up the Buddhist Trifecta with three more questions:

1. What is the Nakhon Pathom Pagoda or the Phra Pathom Chedi?
2. Why do monks throw rice during ceremonies?
What are mudras?

Bonus: Who is the Tai Citu? (Hint: its not the star in the Constellation Cetus)

1. The Nakhon Pathom Pagoda (also known as the Phra Pathom Chedi) is the largest stupa in the world, standing 127m or 417ft. It is located in Nakhon Pathom province of Southern Thailand and was built around 350 A.D./C.E. In 2005, the monument was nominated to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

2. The throwing of rice by monks is symbolic of one of these ritual functions, depending on the type of ceremony: 1) Spreading the Dharma, 2) Offering flowers to deities, 3) Dissolving wrathful deities into the sky.

3. Mudras are hand gestures performed during Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies, signifying the offering of prayers to the deities.

Bonus: The Tai Citu is one of the oldest Tulku lineages in Tibetan Buddhism, going back to 1407. Again, Tulkus are reincarnated Buddhist Masters. Chokyi Gyaltsen was the first incarnation to bear the name Tai Situ, a title given to him by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. Gyaltsen became a close disciple of the Fifth Karmapa. As there is a close affinity between Master and Disciple, that allows Buddhists to be reincarnated with the same group of individuals, so do the reincarnations of the Karmapa and the Tai Situ follow. We see the same reincarnation patterns with His Holiness the Karmapa and HE Kalu Rinpoche, as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and HE Panchen Lama.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buddhist Trifecta, Part II

Continuing the Buddhist Trifecta . .

  1. What is Saranth?
  2. What is a Prayer wheel?
  3. What is Theravada Buddhism?

1. Saranth is the place where Gautauma Buddha first began his teaching of the Dharma or the Path. About 5 weeks after his Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Gautauma Buddha was traveling to meet some friends. On the way, he came across the unpassable Ganges. The local chieftain disliked traveling philosophers and would not allow Buddha use of the boat ferry. Gautauma Buddha gathered his energy, meditated, with in a single focused act, was able to jump across the entire span. He soon gained followers on the opposite bank, near Saranth and started teaching the Way or Do of the Dharma. The followers now became the Sangha or Buddhist community.

When you hear monks say, “I seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,” they are saying, “I look to the Master, the Teachings, and the Community” for assistance on my journey to achieve Enlightenment for the benefit of all Sentient beings.

2. A prayer wheel can be large or small, and contains individual slips of paper upon which are written unique prayers. The prayer wheel is hollow and usually shaped like a cylinder, placed on an axis from which to spin the wheel. When the wheel is spun, the individual slips of paper in the drum move around and the prayers are lifted towards the heavens. When illiteracy was common, prayer wheels were a way for the community to send forth written prayers, without having to read the prayer.

3. Theravada Buddhism is the type of Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asian countries to include Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. Theravada is the original form of Buddhism that developed shortly after the Buddhist diaspora led by Sidhartha Gautauma Buddha. The basis of Theravada is rooted in analysis, and the understanding of external and internal factors that ultimately either lead towards, or away from Enlightenment. The cause of suffering is craving and delusion. By letting go of delusion, one no longer has the craving (attachment). Moreover, it is up to the individual adherent to formulate a path to Enlightenment. The pantheon of deities is not responsible for an individual’s self-realization or Enlightenment. Rather, it is up to the individual to achieve self-realization, the escape from samsara, and the liberation of the consciousness.

“General Chang, You cannot liberate me. I can only liberate myself.”

- His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet