Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category

The wisdom of Kabbalah

Kabbalah

The teachings of Kabbalah have long provided wisdom and practical instruction for spiritual development. In a previous post (A seaside morning meditation  (Kabbalah) we covered Kabbalah meditation practices.

For your enjoyment and thought provoking opportunity, here are some Kabbalah traditional stories. These highlight its practice and display the ethical/spiritual side of the teachings.

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THE DANCING EGG

Once, the family of Mr. Time and Mrs. Space gave birth to boy triplets. The one who was born first was called Yesterday. The next one born was called Today. And the last one born was called Tomorrow.
One day, many years later, they were walking in the forest together, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, and they were having a discussion about the nature of existence: where did they come from, why were they here, where were they going, and so on . . .

Suddenly, a bird flew from a tree and landed near them. To their amazement, she began to speak: “For the one among you who can answer this riddle, I will transform myself into a beautiful princess and live with him forever.”

The riddle was: “How can an egg dance without breaking?”

Yesterday said, “I’ve seen worlds and time but I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Tomorrow said, “I have no experience with such nonsense and I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Today said, “I think I have an idea. There’s one way an egg can dance without breaking and that’s by being a mime.”

So the bird transformed herself into a beautiful princess.

And then, she did something even more surprising. She reached into her pocket and took out an invisible egg. With a flourish, she cracked the egg into an invisible pan and proceeded to cook it over the invisible fire that she had prepared for the purpose.

When the egg was done, she offered some to Yesterday and Tomorrow. Then she took half of the cracked shell, transformed it into a crown, and placed it on Today’s head, making him a prince. She placed the other half on her own head. Today smiled. They kissed a tender kiss.

And the clever princess took hold of Today’s hand and away they danced — stopping now and then to pirouette, hand-in-hand together.

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A FISH STORY

Once, there was a fish who lived in the great ocean, and because the water was transparent, and always conveniently out of the way of his nose when he moved along, he didn’t know he was in the ocean.

Well, one day the fish did a very dangerous thing for a fish. He began to think: “Surely I am a most remarkable being, since I can move around like this in the middle of empty space.”

Then the fish became confused because of thinking about moving and swimming and he suddenly had an anxiety paroxysm, and thought that he had forgotten how. At that moment he looked down and saw the yawning chasm of the ocean depths, and he was terrified that he would drop.

Then he thought: “If I could catch hold of my tail in my mouth, I could hold myself up.” And so he curled himself up and snapped at his tail. Unfortunately, his spine wasn’t quite supple enough, so he missed.

As he went on trying to catch hold of his tail, the yawning black abyss below became ever more terrible, and he was brought to the edge of a total nervous breakdown.

The fish was about to give up, when the ocean, which had been watching with mixed feelings of pity and amusement, said, “What are you doing?”

“Oh,” said the fish, “I’m terrified of falling into the deep dark abyss, and I’m trying to catch hold of my tail in my mouth to hold myself up.” So the ocean said, “Well, you’ve been trying that for a long time now, and you still haven’t fallen down. How come?”

“Oh, of course, I haven’t fallen down yet,” said the fish, “Because, because — I’m swimming!”

“Well,” came the reply, “I am the Great Ocean, in which you live and move and are able to be a fish, and I have given all of myself to you in which to swim, and I support you all the time you swim. But here you, instead of exploring the length, breadth, depth, and height of my expanse, are wasting your time pursuing your own end.”

From then on, the fish put his own end behind him (where it belonged) and set out to explore the Great Ocean.

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The Horizon

As a child, I was fascinated with the horizon. I clearly remember my first encounter with this mysterious moving edge.

One day after school I found myself walking unconsciously in an unfamiliar direction. Suddenly I realized that I had gone far away into the fields. Looking to the horizon, with those majestic mountains of my birth place calling like a flute, I told myself: I should be home now, dinner will be waiting, my family is going to worry about me.

But under those blue skies the landscape captivated me entirely. I stood immobilized by awe. The thought formed: I want to go to the horizon, I want to live on the edge of the world, I want to be where the horizon is.

And my legs walked and walked and walked. The only focal point ahead of me was a single tree on the horizon line. One majestic tree. My fascination increased.

As I walked I decided: I’m going to meet this tree, it must be the tree of life itself. I had learned about the tree of life in school and now I was headed straight towards it. I could think no other thoughts. I could see only the tree.

The afternoon sun warmed me and I was not tired of walking. I just wanted to meet the horizon and rest under the tree. With the whole heart of a determined child I wanted to sit under that tree.

And then, I was looking up through its outstretched branches.

In the haze of my fatigue I concluded that this must be the edge of the world, surely. I had reached my destination. I sat down under the tree and read. And I understood, or pretended to understand, what I read.

Before I knew it the sun was going down and I had to get back home. I stood up and looked beyond the tree, and there, amazingly, was another horizon. I made a few attempts to walk toward it. I turned right, left, and found the horizon on all sides calling me, embracing me.

As one sage said, “I wandered in pursuit of my own self. I was the traveler and I am the destination.” In all of my travels since then I have walked toward that horizon and that tree.

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The Beginning

Once upon a time, after a great cataclysm that almost obliterated life on this planet, a small group of peasants, who were very old, were the only survivors of the global disaster. They were struggling to survive by farming the blighted earth. But the earth was so damaged that their efforts to cultivate a few food crops were in vain.
Finally, in desperation, one aged man, wiser and more courageous than the rest, proposed to go out into the world in search of food. The other villagers were too frightened, discouraged, and weakened by illness and hunger to accompany him, so he decided to set out alone.

He found a path into the large dark forest that stood on the edge of the village fields. As he entered the forest’s shadowy depths, he began to feel uneasy, and with good cause. No sooner had he reached a point where he could no longer see the village fields behind him, than a host of strange and fearsome creatures began to attack him. An upright writhing serpent crept up behind him, a hairy crawling beast without a name threatened his ankles, a sharp talons flying thing with great flapping wings descended from the sky upon him.

Despite his terror and infirmities, for he was very old, the man fended off the terrifying apparitions as best he could, know he had to continue on his quest for food.

Suddenly he heard a sound like none he had ever heard before a haunting wail of utter misery, the thin and pitiful cry of an abandoned child. He could not possibly ignore it. He stepped off the path and made his way through the trees and underbrush, following the needy cry as if entranced

Pushing aside a leafy branch, he stepped into a small clearing. He saw before him the ruins of an ancient temple, its stone walls covered with moss, its cracked columns grown round with vines. The cries seemed to come from within the temple, so he mounted the worn stone steps and entered through a low, arched doorway.

Once his eyes had adjusted to the dim light inside, he saw a small figure huddled in front of a simple altar. It was moaning softly, rocking back and forth, its head bent upon its knees and half hidden by its encircling arms. He crossed the uneven marble floor and knelt in front of the strange little being. Reaching out a weathered hand, he lifted its head so that he could look at its face.

But what was this? The being had no face; its head was featureless, a smooth white oval, without eye or mouth or nose or ear, as blank and seamless as an egg.

He drew back, horrified, staring at this human form that looked sightlessly towards him for a moment and then quickly covered its terrible blank face with its hands, as if anguished by the revelation of its deformity.

The old man remained motionless, battling his impulse to flee from this travesty of humankind. Frightened and bewildered as he was, he sensed that the creature was suffering almost beyond belief. Tears came to his eyes and he felt his heart expand. Instinctively he reached out to the poor miserable creature and embraced it. It collapsed against him, its shoulders shaking with sobs.

Steeling himself against the horror of that blank visage, he cradled its head gently in his hands and turned it up towards him. Gazing intently at its eyeless face, as if to will a response into existence, he caressed the featureless oval. Its skin was soft and flawless, like that of a baby.

He felt an odd sensation growing in his hands. They were warm, so warm that they tingled. They seemed to move without his willing them to do so. Quickly they began to mold the little creature’s smooth resilient flesh, making an indentation for eyes, shaping a nose, a mouth, ears. His hands moved now more rapidly and deftly until a fully human face, which seemed to have been waiting for a touch such as his to take form, looked back at him.

For a long moment, he and the newborn person gazed into each other’s eyes. And then the person, whose fresh and perfect features reminded him of everyone who had ever been dear to him in the past and who might become so in the future, smiled. With this benevolent and grateful smile, which the old man matched with a joyous smile of his own, the two joined hands and walked out together into the waiting world.

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The Great Puzzle

Remember, that every movement breathes. Move silently between the thought and the movement. Pierce the space and stillness with the gentle movements of your body. Think horizontal. Think vertical. Integrate both with one conscious movement. The breath, movement and consciousness is the power and miracle of being and moving. As you move inside the silence of yourself, gently touch and be touched.

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The Oath That Could Not be Fulfilled

“The deceased, despite their intentions and promises, are unable to reveal to the living their experience in death.”

Rabbenu Jehiel, the father of Rabbenu Asher, had a friend in his city who, like him, was exceedingly devout. The two very dear friends were both elderly men of deeds who exemplified high levels of both learning and piety. They took a mutual oath that the first to die would appear in his friends dream to tell him what occurs in death and to reveal the path of the soul after death.

On the day that his friend died, when Rabbenu Jehiel was in the cemetery prior to the burial, he stood and said to those assembled, “Listen my masters, my friend who lies here dead before me and I took an oath together, and so I remind him in your presence, to fulfill his oath.” Then everyone noticed that the deceased’s coffin was shaking somewhat, and they opened his coffin thinking that the dead one may have come to life. But only his eyelashes moved, and it was agreed by all that the blinking of his eyes was a sign that he was unable to disclose anything.

Nevertheless, thirty days later, the deceased Hasid came and appeared to the rabbi, Rabbenu Jehiel, requesting his forgiveness concerning the oath, for he was not permitted to tell him anything.

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From Affliction to Rest

“A student who witnesses a scene of affliction is able, through Tikkun Olam, to bring the afflicted to a state of rest.”

One day the sage Rabbi Jacob Abulafia came before my teacher, the Ari. My master spoke first and said to him, “Your honor want to go to Egypt and requests of me that I write a letter for him,” And Abulafia answered, “Yes, it is so my master.” The Ari continued,” May my master go in peace and may the Lord be with you on your journey. Indeed, great benefit will come of your going there because it is a matter of necessity.”

He asked him, “What is the necessity?” that was after all, a journey of his own choosing. The Ari responded, “Upon your safe return you will surely fathom my words.” My master immediately wrote the letter on his behalf and gave it to him, warning him yet again concerning this matter and urging him to proceed quickly with his journey. And so he did.

He set out and journey to Egypt where he was greatly honored out of respect for the Rabbi and for himself. Afterward he set out to return home to Safed, may it be built and established quickly in our days. He left with a caravan. One day the members of the caravan were resting as was their custom, and the sage also rested. And as he got down from the donkey, a deep sleep immediately came over him and he slept for about an hour. When the others got up to go they woke the sage from his sleep. He rose and untied the donkey, and the donkey strayed. And again the wise man was overcome by deep sleep and slept about two hours. Seeing no one when he awoke, he shuddered and shook and began to run about in a state of trembling and great distress.

As evening approached he saw a plower and oxen coming into view. He rejoiced and thought, “I will go with them,” and he ran toward them. On reaching the site, he noticed that the plower was cruelly beating the oxen. A little while later he saw that the plower had turned into an ox and the ox had become a man who placed a burden upon the other and began to beat him harshly. This continued for some time. The sage was terrified. He had no place to flee since he did not know where he might find an inhabited place, and he was exceedingly agitated because he could make no sense of any of this. And he wrote from him all the acts of penance and the ascetic practices that he had to fulfill in order to attain Tikkun for the souls of those men.

And they appeared to the sage in a dream and said to him, “May the Lord bless you. May your mind know rest just as our souls found rest from the very day that you commended to perform the acts of penance that the Rabbi indicated to you. For with the very first acts of penance on your part we were brought out from the difficult labor that you saw and were allowed to enter into Gehenna (Hell). Similarly, with every further act of penance that you performed, we were brought out from a heavier to a lighter yoke until we were brought into our own place (our present place).

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The Stench of Pride

“A proud person is more odious than a dead animal”

It happened that a Hasid, walking along the way, met up with Elijah the prophet, and walking together, they came upon an animal carcass that had been thrown out along the path. The carcass gave off such a terrible stench that the Hasid raised his nose to keep from having to smell the animal. Elijah, however, passed close by the carcass without reacting.

Later, they saw a man in the distance coming toward them and walking with a pronounced gait, and though he was still some distance away, Elijah the prophet raised his hand to his nose. When the Hasid asked the prophet why he had not reacted when they passed by the dead animal, Elijah explained that this man, in displaying such pride, gave off a greater stench that did the carcass.

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The Relativity of Wealth

“A parable of the relativity of piety”

Two men each have a thousand gold coins. One lives in a village where none of the villagers possess anything approximating that amount of money, and without a doubt, he considers himself superior to his fellow villagers. The other, who resides in a city of many merchants and officials, regards his wealth as amounting to very little, and it is as nothing in his eyes.

Similarly, one who is distant from God and from his Holy beings and devout ones considers himself superior to whoever is of lower level that his. But the pious who are always aware of God’s Presence humble themselves to the ground before Him, for in their reflecting upon the level of God and of His holy beings and His devout ones, they are ever humble in their own eyes.

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Devotion to Prayer

“A great sage is praying with such intense devotion that he is unaware of guests who come to his house”

Three great sages once came to the house of our teacher and Rabbi Mordecai Masnut, a man of great learning and wealth and piety, in connection with a matter relating to a mitzvah. Among them was Rabbi Abba Mari. They found Rabbi Masnut sitting upon his knees, his face directed upward with his hands spread out, reciting the blessing after meals. So intense was his devotion that he paid no attention to the learned men who had come to his home. He was even unaware that anyone had entered.

Then, upon completing his prayer and reciting the final blessing over a cup of wine, he stood up and greeted his guests, “May your coming be in peace. Do not regard my oversight as a sin, but forgive me, for I was engaged in a conversation with my Maker.”

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Kabbalah quotes …

“Misdirected life force is the activity in disease process. Disease has no energy save what it borrows from the life of the organism. It is by adjusting the life force that healing must be brought about, and it is the sun as transformer and distributor of primal spiritual energy that must be utilized in this process, for life and the sun are so intimately connected.”

“Rhythm is the basis of life, not steady forward progress. The forces of creation, destruction, and preservation have a whirling, dynamic interaction.”

“Every phase of evolution commences by being in a state of unstable force and proceeds through organization to equilibrium. Equilibrium having been achieved, no further development is possible without once more oversetting the A journey of a thousand miles starts in front of your feet. Whosoever acts spoils it. Whosoever keeps loses it.”

“The pure impulse of dynamic creation is formless; and being formless, the creation it gives rise to can assume any and every form.”

“Force never moves in a straight line, but always in a curve vast as the universe, and therefore eventually returns whence it issued forth, but upon a higher arc, for the universe has progressed since it started.”

“I was looking for something. I mean, I’d begun practicing yoga and, you know, I was looking for the answers to life. … I know there’s more to life than making lots of money and being successful and even getting married and having a family.”

Love is the single most necessary ingredient for human happiness, and relationships, and it is the purest expression of the soul making it also a Godly act.

There is selfish, narcissistic, indulgent, self centered love, and selfless, giving, caring, love.

The essence of the soul like a diamond buried in the ground is always a diamond and although the diamond may be covered with grime and is in the need of a good polish, it is nonetheless a brilliant stone.

A gentile once came to Hillel and asked him to teach him the entire Torah / Bible while he stands on one foot. “What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to them and the rest is the commentary of this principle.” Hillel the greatest sage in his time unequivocally stated that the entire Torah is for one goal and that is to teach man how to be nice to one another.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that when a Jew is happy for another Jews successes and is sad over his losses this is dearer to God than the prayers of Rabbi Yishmoel Cohen Godal in the Kodesh Hakodoshim on Yom Kippur. So when you are genuinely happy for your fellows successes and when you are genuinely sad over their losses than you have given God greater joy than Rabbi Yishmoel Cohen Godal (the holiest Jew of his time) when he was praying in the Kodesh Hakodoshim (the holiest place in the world) on Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year).

Rabbi Aikvah says “Love your friend as you love yourself” is the founding principle of the Torah / Bible.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that it makes sense that a soul will come down to this world and live sixty seventy years in order to do for a fellow a favor; a materiel favor, and certainly a spiritual favor.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that the main mitzvah/commandment of “Love your friend as you love yourself” is to think about things that cause you to love your friends.

Love is a reciprocal feeling. Just as water/mirror will mirror the face that peers into it similarly love is a reflection of hearts.

Posted by John Kirszenberg on January 30th, 2012 Comments Off

Every day is a Holiday

Happy New Year

I have often thought that the Western Calendar would have been better served by making either Perihelion Earth Day or the Winter Solstice the beginning – January 1st of each New Year.  It’s far better than that current no nothing date.

On Perihelion Earth Day (January 4, 2012 at 20:00 Eastern Time) we can celebrate the Earth’s closest orbital approach to the Sun.

On the Winter Solstice (December 21, 2011 at 12:30 am Eastern Time) we can celebrate the shortest day of the year.  So what better reason is there to celebrate the Winter Solstice as the first day of each New Year, as January 1st, since daylight hours are now getting progressively longer.

Even though the Winter Solstice is already claimed as the birthday for more than one religious founder, there is still enough room to change December 21st – to January 1st and start the New Year with additional joy.

Other births celebrated on the Winter Solstice:
Horus (c. 3000 BCE)
Osiris (c. 3000 BCE)
Attis of Phrygia (c.1400 BCE)
Krishna (c. 1400 BCE)
Zoroaster/Zarathustra (c. 1000 BCE)
Mithra of Persia (c. 600 BCE)
Heracles (c. 800 BCE)
Dionysus (c. 186 BCE)
Tammuz (c. 400 BCE)
Adonis (c. 200 BCE)
Jesus Christ (c. 4 BCE)
Hermes
Bacchus
Prometheus

Historians refute that most of those founders were really born on (or around) the Winter Solstice.  It’s just that there is no much religious meaning associated with that event; celebrating the coming out of darkness (the shortest day of the year) into the light (moving toward summer) as a parallel to the ascent of human spirit.

When we meditate we dive into the unbounded bliss of life, the source of all human history.  Each step of transcendence or settling of the mind brings us closer to attainment.  As joy increases along the path, each day becomes a holiday.

Every day is a Holiday when we meditate.

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Holidays have been established to honor and celebrate various events in human history.

How do you say “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year” in your language?

Albanian: Gezur Krislinjden
Arabic: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Bengali: Shubho Barodin
Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian: Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou
Chile: Feliz Navidad
Chinese (Cantonese): Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Corsican: Pace e salute
Croatian: Sretan Bozic
Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish: Glaedelig Jul
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
Egyptian: Colo sana wintom tiebeen
English: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Eskimo: Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo
Estonian: Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi
Finish: Hyvää Joulua or Hauskaa Joulua
Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French: Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur
German: Froehliche Weihnachten und ein gluckliches Neues Jahr
Greek: Kala Christougenna Kieftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew: Mo’adim Lesimkha. Shana Tova
Hindi: Shubh Naya Baras
Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyiunnepeket & Boldog Új Évet
Icelandic: Gledileg Jol og Farsaelt Komandi ar
Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian: Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Nuovo
Latvian: Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu
Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu
Macedonian: Streken Bozhik
Malayalam: Puthuvalsara Aashamsakal
Maltese: Nixtieklek Milied tajjeb u is-sena t-tabja
Mandarin: Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
Maori: Meri Kirihimete
Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh
Mongolian: Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye
Norwegian: God Jul og Godt Nyttår
Oriya: Sukhamaya christmass ebang khusibhara naba barsa
Papua: New Guinea Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
Philippines: Maligayang Pasco at Manigong Bagong Taon
Poland: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese: Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo
Punjabi: Nave sal di mubaraka
Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha
Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele
Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
Scots-Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh
Serbian: Hristos se rodi
Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Slovak: ciid wanaagsan iyo sanad cusub oo fiican
Slovenia: Vesel Bozic in Srecno novo leto!
Somalis: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Spanish: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Swedish: God Jul och Gott Nytt År
Sudanese: Wilujeng Natal Sareng Warsa Enggal
Tamil: Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Thai: Suksan Wan Christmas lae Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian: Veseloho Vam Rizdva i Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku
Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vanina: Bon Natale a Tutti
Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh – Chuc Mung Tan Nien
Welsh: Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

§§

Here is a short list of National Holidays.

Argentina
• 1 January – New Year’s Day
• variable Date – Carnival Monday
• variable Date – Carnival Tuesday
• 24 March – Día Nacional de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia (ley 26.085)
• 2 April – Día del Veterano y de los Caídos en la Guerra de Malvinas (ley 26.110)
• variable date – Maundy Thursda
• variable date – Good Friday
• 1 May – Labour Day
• 25 May – Anniversary of the May Revolution
• 20 June(next Mon after) – Paso a la Inmortalidad del General Manuel Belgrano
• 9 July – Anniversary of the Argentine Declaration of Independence
• 17 August(next Mon after) – Paso a la Inmortalidad del General José de San Martín
• 12 October(next Mon after) – Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural
• 20 November – Day of National Sovereignty. Anniversary of the Battle of Vuelta de Obligado
• 8 December – Inmaculada Concepción de María
• 25 December – Christmas Day ( Celebrating the birth of Christ, for certain religions)

Azerbaijan 
• 1–2 January – New Year’s Day
• 20 January – Black January Martyr’s Day
• 8 March – International Women’s Day
• 20–21 March – Nowruz
• 9 May – Victory over Fascism Day (9 May)
• 28 May – Republic Day
• 15 June – National Salvation Day
• 26 June – Army and Navy Day
• 12 November – Constitution Day
• 31 December – International Solidarity Day
• (variable) Eid ul-Fitr Ramazan Bayrami
• (variable) Eid al-Adha Gurban Bayrami

Chile 
• 1 January – New Year’s Day
• March/April – Good Friday
• March/April – Holy Saturday
• 1 May – Labor Day
• 21 May – Navy Day
• 29 June – Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (usually moved to the closest Monday)
• 16 July – Our Lady of Mount Carmel
• 15 August – Assumption of Mary
• 18 September – Independence Day
• 19 September – Glories of the Army Day
• 12 October – Columbus Day (usually moved to the closest Monday)
• 31 October – Reformation Day
• 1 November – All Saints
• 8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
• 25 December – Christmas Day

Fiji 
• 3 January – New Year’s Day
• 14 February – Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday
• 22 April – Good Friday
• 23 April – Easter Saturday
• 25 April – Easter Monday
• 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
• 10 October – Fiji Day
• 26 October – Diwali
• 26 December – Christmas Day
• 27 December – Boxing Day

France
• 1 January – Jour de l’an – New Year’s Day
• April – Lundi de Pâques – Easter Monday
• 1 May – Fête du travail – Labour Day
• 8 May – Victoire 1945 – VE Day
• May – Ascension – 40 days after Easter
• May/June – Pentecôte – Monday after Pentecost
• 14 July – Fête nationale – Bastille Day
• 15 August – Assomption – Assumption of Mary
• 1 November – Toussaint – All Saints
• 11 November – Armistice 1918 – Armistice Day
• 25 December – Noël – Christmas Day

Italy
• 1 January – New Year’s Day
• 6 January – Epiphany
• 17 March – National Day (2011 only)
• (variable) – Easter Sunday
• (variable) – Easter Monday
• 25 April – Liberation Day
• 1 May – International Labour Day
• 2 June – Anniversary of the Republic
• 15 August – Ferragosto or Assumption of Mary
• 1 November – All Saints’ Day
• 8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
• 25 December – Christmas Day
• 26 December – Saint Stephen

Nepal
• 1 January – New Year’s Day
• 14 and 15 January – Makar Sankranti
• 20 January – Saraswati Puja
• 12 February – Maha Shivaratri
• 24 February – Education Day
• 28 February and 1 March – Phagu Purnima
• 14 April – Nepali New Year
• 24 August – Raksha Bandhan
• 25 August – Gaijatra
• 1 September – Krishna Janmashtami
• 10 September – Dar Khane Din
• 11 September – [ Teej in Nepal, fasting by women ]
• 8 to 24 October – Dashain
• 4 to 7 November – dipawali or tihar

Pakistan
• 5 February Kashmir Day – National Solidarity Day (1990)
• 23 March – Pakistan Islamic Republic Day (1956)
• 1 May – Labor Day
• 14 August – Independence Day (1947)
• 9 November – Iqbal Day (1877)
• 25 December – Birthday of Quaid-e-Azam (Jinnah Day) (1876) / Christmas

Peru
• 1 January – New Year
• Easter – Good Friday, Easter Sunday
• 1 May – Labour Day
• 29 June – Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
• 28 July, 29 July – Independence Day
• 30 August – Saint Rose of Lima
• 8 October – Naval Battle of Angamos
• 1 November – All Saints’ Day
• 8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
• 24 December – Christmas Eve
• 25 December – Christmas Day

Saudi Arabia
• 23 September – National Day (unification of the kingdoms Nejd and Hejaz 1932)
• Eid ul-Fitr – The end of Ramadan on the 1st of Shawwal.
• Eid Al-Adha – The 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja.

Tanzania
• 1 January – New Year’s Day
• 10 January – Eid El Haj
• 12 January – Zanzibar Revolution Day
• 7 April – Heroes Day (Zanzibar)
• 10 April – Maulid Day
• 14 April – Good Friday
• 17 April – Easter Monday
• 26 April – Union Day
• 1 May – Worker’s Day
• 7 July – Dar es Salaam – International Trade Fair Day
• 8 August – Farmer’s Day
• 14 October – Nyerere Day
• 23 October – Eid El Fitr Celebration
• 24 October – Eid El Fitr Celebration
• 9 December – Independence Republic Day
• 24 December – Christmas Eve
• 25 December – Christmas Day
• 26 December – Boxing Day
• 30 December – Eid El Haj

§§

Every day is a holiday to celebrate the miracle of life.

The play of Being (lila) wraps us in the field of time and opportunity.  From unconsciousness we have awoken.

Build strong family ties and friendship with everyone you meet.  They are all expressions of yourself.

Celebrate your national and religious heritage, but remember that we all come from that same unbounded source.  The infinite expresses itself through different channels in time and space.  So celebrate everyone’s Holiday as your own, since it truly is.

Any one way is not THE way.  Be open to everything.  Accept everyone as they already are.  Infinite paths lead to that same eternal silent place.

One religion or philosophy is not better than another.  All can lead to the source of life.  As a tree has multiple branches, so to religions expound that same never-ending truth, only clothed in different languages, customs, leaders, books, buildings, and social norms.  Except all, reject none.

Help the needy because one day in the past you too were in that same position.

Today retire to your special place and meditate.

Open your heart and mind.  Reach out to your fellow man, woman, and child.  Although we seemingly tread different paths and face different challenges, they are in essence all but the same.

Namaste

Posted by John Kirszenberg on December 24th, 2011 Comments Off

Changing attitudes, rap music and the constitution of mind

Lipetsk Church, Russia

This was a milestone for Milenka.  For the first time ever she listened to rap music and really enjoyed it.  Gone were the stereotypes and preconceptions.

But it was not always that way.

Tuesday indeed was a special day for the Ivanov family.  For at 3:04 pm on the 10th of May, 1983, their second daughter was born.  Weighing in at only 3.1 kg, Milenka (the small one) seemed to be an ideal name for this new bundle of joy.

The Ivanov family lived in the small town of Lipetsk, located along the Voronezh River, some distance southeast of Moscow.  Although renowned for their mud baths and visiting Russian dignitaries, Borislav (Milenka’s father) worked at the metal stamping plant.

From an early age Milenka had a knack for making friends.  In preschool, kindergarten and later in High School her jovial attitude, bright outlook on life, and her ability to relate to people made her an ideal companion.  She had an air about her; one would almost say a magical attraction.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 she was only six years old.  Too young to fully understand what had happened.  But by High School had greatly benefited from the opening up of the Soviet Union to the rest of the world.

Although capitalism and democracy pushed forward in starts and fits, Russian society opened up to Western and Eastern ideas.  Religious missionaries from around the globe arrived eager to entice and convert the population.  The Russian Orthodox Church had a great revival and the vast majority of the townsfolk once again attended services.

When Buddhism made its way into Lipetsk it was quickly labeled a “cult” by the locals.  But several brave souls, including Milenka, were open minded and eager to learn new things. She embraced mindfulness, compassion, and several forms of Vipassana meditation. She practiced every day.

When she first heard rap music several years ago she felt repulsed by the lyrics, which seem to degrade women and glamorize inappropriate sexual activity.   That impression (samskara) stuck with her for years and prompted Milenka to turn the radio off whenever that music came on.

But today Milenka added rap music to her list of favorites.  How did that happen?

Several years of meditation had softened her personality and she had become less judgmental.  She still recognized some lyrics as being detrimental to life, but she could see underneath that and move to the rhythm and beat of the music.  And once past that initial mental barrier Milenka sought out and found a wealth of wholesome and uplifting rap songs.  Experience no longer offered her a stark choice between right or wrong.  It simply is.  She just naturally gravitated toward uplifting and growth promoting activity.  The samskaras had been dissolved.

Viewed from a psycho/physiological standpoint Milenka’s mind underwent real changes.

Akasha, which is often referred to as the elemental either, is acted upon by Prana to create the human aspects of body and mind.  Prana is the life force of the universe, with its localized manifestation as human breath.

Independent of which school of philosophy you choose to follow, it is general accepted that there are various manifestations/functions of prana and mind.

Functions of the vital energy prana
* Prana – draws atmospheric air into the system
* Apana – throws out of the body what is not needed
* Samana – Draws in and carries food to very part of the body
* Vyana – Causes very part of the body to keep its shape
* Udana – redirects the currents of life back to their centers, the heart and brain.

Functions of the mind
* Pramana – the means of knowledge;
perception (Pratyaksha – 5 sense organs)
inference (Anumana)
authority (Agama)
* Viparyaya – false knowledge;
ignorance (Vidya, Tamas)
egoism (Asmita Moha)
retention (Raga, Mahamoha)
repulsion (Tamisra, Dvesha)
tanacity of life (Abhinivesha, Andhatamisra)
* Vikalpa – imagination
* Nidra – sleep
* Smriti – memory

It’s also very interesting to note the relationship between the organs of action, sensory perception, and the essential elements of creation.  This is how it all comes together.

Jnanendriyas – senses Tanmatras – sensations Karmendriyas – organs of action Mahabhutas – physical elements
Nose Smelling Generation Earth
Tongue Tasting Excreting Water
Eye Seeing Walking Fire
Skin Touching Grasping Air
Ear Hearing Speaking Space

There are many studies that demonstrate changing brain wave patterns over time due to the practice of meditation.

Brain wave type Frequency (Hz) Location Description
Delta 0 – 4 Frontal in adults and posterior in children

The highest amplitudes wave

Sleep.  But in meditation this activity correlates to increased experience of the unconscious mind.
Theta 4 – 8 Various Relaxed attention; associated with meditative and creative states
Alpha 8 – 13 Posterior regions of both sides of the brain Increased wakefulness and physical rest.  Deeper meditation states create more alpha waves. Also the source of the spontaneous wondering of the mind in meditation.
Beta 13 – 30 Both sides of the brain, symmetrically distributed, frontal lobes The alert and busy working brain
Gamma 30 – 1000 Somatosensory cortex Active during sensory (taste, hearing, etc.) input, use of short term memory, and recognition of objects, cognitive or motor functioning.  Increases during mindfulness meditation and/or intense focusing of the mind.  Increased moral feeling and compassion.  Higher frequency waves are produced by longer term meditators.
Mu 8 – 13 Sensorimotor cortex Motor neurons at rest

Since the 1970’s hundreds of scientific studies have shown the positive affects of meditation on the brain, heart and body.

In the fall of 2005 the Dalai Lama gave an inaugural address at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, DC.  More than 10,000 neuroscientists attended.

The constitution of the mind determines which brain waves it can create, and at what intensity.  As the constitution becomes more refined (through natural human evolution or the greatly accelerated process of meditation) the brain becomes more capable of creating intelligent focused thought.  More of the brain participates in the construction of thought, feeling, perception, and cognitive thinking.

Milenka overcame her distaste for rap music without purposely trying to do it.  It just happened naturally through time as meditation softened and expanded her awareness and feelings.

We can spend years trying to overcome our various personal limitations.  Everyone has different challenges.  It’s better to address the root cause that allows human challenges to surface and become issues – the mind not functioning at its full potential.

By strengthening the brain/mind all aspects of human psychology/physiology are enhanced.  Defeat the problem before it arises.

Lay the groundwork so that problems do not arise.  Meditate every day to live life on the supreme level of eternal happiness and bliss.

Posted by John Kirszenberg on July 17th, 2011 Comments Off

Ancient Greek Philosophy; as relevant today as it was centuries past

During the early period of the Greek empire Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 – 475 BCE) made significant contributions to emerging philosophical thought. Although his predecessors focused on the unchanging nature of the universe (the essence of matter) Heraclitus brought to light its ever changing aspect.

Heraclitus believed that change was a fundamental part to the universe. He had said, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.” And no doubt some of his views were born from his early childhood realization that he to would die one day, “in sixty years or less.”

To Heraclitus the universe was in constant motion, as in “The Music of the Spheres.” He was a naturalist and believed that all things were administrated via logic. In another time and place he could have easily been labeled a teacher of Taoist beliefs (re: creation & destruction).

Heraclitus of Ephesus

I hope that you will enjoy the following translation (by I. Bywater) of some of his thoughts and ideas…

It is wise to hearken, not to me, but to my Word, and to confess that all things are one.

Though this Word is true evermore, yet men are as unable to understand it when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For, though all things come to pass in accordance with this Word, men seem as if they had no experience of them, when they make trial of words and deeds such as I set forth, dividing each thing according to its kind and showing how it truly is. But other men know not what they are doing when awake, even as they forget what they do in sleep.

Fools when they do hear are like the deaf: of them does the saying bear witness that they are absent when present.

Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men if they have souls that understand not their language.

The many do not take heed of such things as those they meet with, nor do they mark them when they are taught, though they think they do.

Knowing not how to listen nor how to speak.

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult.

Those who seek for gold dig up much earth and find a little.

Nature loves to hide.

The lord whose is the oracle at Delphoi neither utters nor hides his meaning, but shows it by a sign.

The things that can be seen, heard, and learned are what I prize the most.

The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears.

Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchos, practised scientific inquiry beyond all other men, and making a selection of these writings, claimed for his own wisdom what was but a knowledge of many things and an imposture.

Of all whose discourses I have heard, there is not one who attains to understanding that wisdom is apart from all.

Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things.

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever shall be an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.

The transformations of Fire are, first of all, sea; and half of the sea is earth, half whirlwind.

All things are an exchange for Fire, and Fire for all things, even as wares for gold and gold for wares.

Lunar craters Heraclitus and Licetus

( Heraclitus & Licetus A pair of craters located in the southern highlands region of the Moon. Heraclitus is 55 miles across, has a central crest and large crater (Heraclitus D) near the top of this image giving it the appearence of a ladybug. Licetus, located below Heraclitus is 45 miles in diameter.)

How can one hide from that which never sets?

If there were no sun it would be night, for all the other stars could do.

The sun is new every day.

God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger; but he takes various shapes, just as fire, hen it is mingled with spices, is named according to the savour of each.

If all things were turned to smoke, the nostrils would distinguish them.

Cold things become warm, and what is warm cools; what is wet dries, and the parched is moistened.

It scatters and it gathers; it advances and retires.

You cannot step twice into the same rivers; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.

War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some men, some bond and some free.

Men do not know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre.

It is the opposite which is good for us.

The hidden attunement is better than the open.

Let us not conjecture at random about the greatest things.

Men that love wisdom must be acquainted with very many things indeed.

The straight and the crooked path of the fuller’s comb is one and the same.

Asses would rather have straw than gold.

Oxen are happy when they find bitter vetches to eat.

The sea is the purest and the impurest water. Fish can drink it, and it is good for them; to men it is undrinkable and destructive.

Swine wash in the mire, and barnyard fowls in dust.

Good and ill are one.

Couples are things whole and things not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.

Men would not have known the name of justice if these things were not.

To God all things are fair and good and right, but men hold some things wrong and some right.

We must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being and pass away (?) through strife.

All the things we see when awake are death, even as all we see in slumber are sleep.

The wise is one only. It is unwilling and willing to be called by the name of Zeus.

The bow is called life but its work is death.

Mortals are immortals and immortals are mortals, the one living the others’ death and dying the others’ life.

For it is death to souls to become water, and death to water to become earth. But water comes from earth; and from water, soul

The way up and the way down is one and the same.

In the circumference of a circle the beginning and end are common.

You will not find the boundaries of soul by travelling in any direction, so deep is the measure of it.

Man kindles a light for himself in the night-time, when he has died but is alive. The sleeper, whose vision has been put out, lights up from the dead; he that is awake lights up from the sleeping.

And it is the same thing in us that is quick and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former.

Time is a child playing draughts, the kingly power is a child’s.

I have sought for myself.

We step and do not step into the same rivers; we are and are not.

It is a weariness to labour for the same masters and be ruled by them.

It rests by changing.

When they are born, they wish to live and to meet with their dooms—or rather to rest—and they leave children behind them to meet with their dooms in turn.

A man may be a grandfather in thirty years.

Those who are asleep are fellow-workers (in what goes on in the world).

Thought is common to all.

Those who speak with understanding must hold fast to what is common to all as a city holds fast to its law, and even more strongly. For all human laws are fed by the one divine law. It prevails as much as it will, and suffices for all things with something to spare.

So we must follow the common, yet though my Word is common, the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.

The waking have one common world, but the sleeping turn aside each into a world of his own.

The way of man has no wisdom, but that of God has.

Man is called a baby by God, even as a child by a man.

Wantonness needs putting out, even more than a house on fire.

It is not good for men to get all they wish to get. It is sickness that makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, plenty; weariness, rest.

It is hard to fight with one’s heart’s desire. Whatever it wishes to get, it purchases at the cost of soul.

It is best to hide folly; but it is hard in times of relaxation, over our cups.

Dogs bark at every one they do not know.

The wise man is not known because of men’s want of belief.

The fool is fluttered at every word.

The most esteemed of them knows but fancies, and holds fast to them, yet of a truth justice shall overtake the artificers of lies and the false witnesses.

One day is like any other.

Man’s character is his fate.

There awaits men when they die such things as they look not for nor dream of.

———————————————————————————————————————

Meditation develops both the analytical and philosophical qualities of mind.  Spend a few minutes each day with eyes closed delving into the source of thought, absolute bliss consciousness.

Posted by John Kirszenberg on July 8th, 2011 Comments Off

Mandalas – spiritual symbol, meditation aid, and subtle energy of the cosmos

Healing Mandala

Mandalas are very beautiful.  They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle,” but is also referred to as sacred art with religious significance.  They are described as being symbolic representations of the Universe, complete within itself, with every part being an expression of the Whole.

The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates, containing a circle with a central point. Each gate is in the shape of the letter T.  In Vajrayana Buddhism, which is a Tibetan teaching, mandalas are also created in the exquisite media of sand paintings.

Practitioners of meditation have used Mandalas for centuries.  Employed as a teaching tool, an aid for meditation (the object of contemplation/concentration), or to establish a sacred space, spiritual aspirants the world over marvel in their beauty and efficacy.

All monks at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are required to learn how to construct mandalas as part of their training

There are four main types of traditional Mandalas.

1. The Maha-Mandala:
The Maha (great) Mandala depicts our entire universe, replete with images of human beings living in harmony with each other, and an interdependent cosmos.

2. Samaya Mandala:
Samaya is a Sanskrit word that means vow.  These Mandalas usually portray spiritual adherents (buddhas to be) in allegiance to the sublime quest.  Human bodies may be in a yoga posture (Mudra), or holding flowers, or grasping other objects signifying their vow.

3. Dharma Mandala:
Dharma in Sanskrit means teaching.  The passage of knowledge to the student can consist of the sacred names of Buddha, and sutras – educational literary compositions.

Here is the “Eight Great Awakenings Sutra,”

Buddhist Disciples! At all times, day and night, sincerely recite and bear in mind these eight truths that cause great people to awaken.

The First Awakening: The world is impermanent. Countries are perilous and fragile. The body is a source of pain, ultimately empty. The five skandhas are not the true self. Life and Death is nothing but a series of transformations—hallucinatory, unreal, uncontrollable. The intellect is a wellspring of turpitude, the body a breeding ground of offenses. Investigate and contemplate these truths. Gradually break free of death and rebirth.

The Second Awakening: Too much desire brings pain. Death and rebirth are wearisome ordeals, originating from our thoughts of greed and lust. By lessening desires we can realize absolute truth and enjoy peace, freedom, and health in body and mind.

The Third Awakening: Our minds are never satisfied or content with just enough. The more we obtain, the more we want. Thus we create offenses and perform evil deeds. Bodhisattvas don’t wish to make these mistakes. Instead, they choose to be content. They nurture the Way, living a quiet life in humble surroundings—their sole occupation, cultivating wisdom.

The Fourth Awakening: Idleness and self-indulgence are the downfall of people. With unflagging vigor, great people break through their afflictions and baseness. They vanquish and defeat the four kinds of demons, and escape from the prison of the five skandhas.

The Fifth Awakening: Stupidity and ignorance are the cause of death and rebirth. Bodhisattvas apply themselves and deeply appreciate study and erudition, constantly striving to expand their wisdom and refine their eloquence. Nothing brings them greater joy than teaching and transforming living beings.

The Sixth Awakening: Suffering in poverty breeds deep resentment. Wealth unfairly distributed creates ill-will and conflict among people. Thus, Bodhisattvas practice giving. They treat friend and foe alike. They do not harbor grudges or despise amoral people.

The Seventh Awakening: The five desires are a source of offenses and grief. Truly great people, laity included, are not blighted by worldly pleasures. Instead, they aspire to don the three-piece precept robe and the blessing bowl of monastic life. Their ultimate ambition is to leave the home life and to cultivate the Path with impeccable purity. Their virtuous qualities are lofty and sublime; their attitude towards all creatures, kind and compassionate.

The Eighth Awakening: Like a blazing inferno, birth and death are plagued with suffering and affliction. Therefore, great people resolve to cultivate the Great Vehicle, to rescue all beings, to endure hardship on behalf of others, and to lead everyone to ultimate happiness.

These are the Eight Truths that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great people awaken to. Once awakened, they even more energetically continue to cultivate the Path. Steeping themselves in kindness and compassion, they grow in wisdom. They sail the Dharma ship across to Nirvana’s shore, and then return on the sea of birth and death to rescue living beings. They use these Eight Truths to show the proper course for living beings, causing them to recognize the anguish of birth and death. They inspire all to forsake the five desires, and to cultivate their minds in the manner of Sages.

If Buddhist disciples recite this Sutra on the Eight Awakenings, and constantly ponder its meaning, they will certainly eradicate boundless offenses, advance towards Bodhi, and will quickly realize Proper Enlightenment. They will always be free of birth and death, and will abide in eternal bliss.

(Original Translated by Shramana An Shr Gao of the Latter Han Dynasty, translated from Chinese into English by Buddhist Text Translation Society, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Talmage, California)

4. Karma Mandala:
Karma in Sanskrit means action.   These Mandalas feature the functioning of the universe, people’s actions, and the Buddha’s teaching to save all from a life of ignorance and desire – to break the cycle of birth and rebirth.

Sand Mandala

The Sand Mandala is usually square. They often contain rings and rays.  The outer ring symbolizes wisdom, strength, resilience and surrender to the cosmic spirit.  Possessing those human qualities are necessary in order to approach the Mandala center, which represents eternal being and existence.

Within the rings appear more squares, representing a four-walled, gated palace.  The presence of the Buddha resides at the center.

Once a sand Mandala is completed the natural ebb/tide and flow of the river sweeps it up, symbolizing the constantly changing nature of Life.

There are many other types of Mandalas as variations in form and meaning differ among the various branches of Buddhism.

Kalachakra Mandala

The Vajradhatu Mandala depicts the world of the Buddhas.

The Garbhakosa Mandala depicts the genuineness of the Buddhas as described in the Mahavairocana Sutra (Great Sun Sutra).

Many Mandalas have an associated text called a “tantra.”  This text is used to advise adherents on how best to draw the Mandala, create and visualize it in meditation, and which mantras should be used during the ritual.

The term “Mandala” can also refer to Buddhist perspective and practices.  In Vajrayana Buddhism mandalas are used as offerings and considered to be part of the preliminary practices.  Shingon Buddhism, a Japanese branch of Vajrayana, uses Mandalas for rituals.  The “Mandala of the Womb Realm” and the “Mandala of the Diamond Realm” are often used in initiation rituals.  In Nichiren Buddhism the mandala consist of a hanging paper scroll or wooden tablet.  Inscriptions on the scroll depict protective Buddhist deities, concepts, and the fundamentals of Buddha’s enlightenment.   The “Larger Sutra” and the “Contemplative Sutra” are employed by the Pure Land branch of Buddhism to depict the glories worlds.

Geometric Mandala

There is another important aspect of Mandalas that is hardly ever discussed.  And that is, when the mind is very settled in meditation, a moving kaleidoscope of colors and shapes (Geometric Mandalas) can appear to your inner sight.

Subtle (astral) energy fluctuations often appear as visual images during meditation.

It’s now time for you to experiment.

Sit comfortably and close your eyes.  After about a minute begin your normal meditation practice.  Meditate for 10-minutes.

Now with the eyes still closed, focus your inward vision on the area between your eyebrows.  This is often called the “inner eye.”  Just sit quietly and patiently, and be attentive to whatever you see.

If you decide to use a blindfold or a sleeping mask to block out any stray light, that is fine so long as there is no pressure on the eyes.  Do not strain.

You may see nothing, or you may see colors coming into and out of view; purple splotches dissolving into other colors of the rainbow.

Sometimes there is white light, while at other times it may appear as golden.

At even deeper levels of meditation/silence Mandalas will appear.  They are round symmetric images, constantly changing shape and color.  They can best be described as an ever changing pattern, like that of a turning kaleidoscope.

These are rotating and moving geometric designs.  There are no embedded figures, deities, or symbols.  As the subtle energy of the etheric layer of creation comes more into view for you, its dynamic activity can be seen more clearly.

The following website has an interactive display of what a mandala looks like, and its constant state of motion.

http://www.subtlebody-images.com/moving/mandalas.html

(courtesy Subtlebody images).

At even deeper levels of conscious silence the “third eye” (your spiritual eye) may be seen as a golden halo surrounding a blue circle, in the center of which pulsates a five pointed white star.

And at even deeper levels for the Enlightened, the siddhis as described by Patanjali’s “Yoga Aphorisms” manuscript, can also be seen; arrangements of stars and other wonders.

But no matter where you are on your journey, whether you see anything or not, continue forward with your daily meditation practice.  Each and every day we take yet another step toward unfolding our full potential.

As we travel on this beautiful and precious planetary landscape that we call the Earth look about and take notice of the multitude of creation, life in its expressed diversity becoming more complex and aware of itself.   We are separate and yet one with the cosmos. May the narrow river of our lives open as we rush onto the ocean.   All is offered to us.  As lightning flashes in the sky during a storm and brightens our view, so to the practice of meditation illuminates our way.

Posted by John Kirszenberg on May 17th, 2011 Comments Off

Expanding human perception

All too often we define what “is real” based upon our sensory perception.

If we can see, touch and smell a flower – we call it real.  At the dinner table we taste our food and partake in conversation.  That seems to be real.  When we experience the thrill of discovery, or the pain of physical suffering, our ego catalogs that as real.  Electrical impulses from our body travel to the brain where an interpretation takes place.

In whatever activity we participate in, the Self is seemingly overshadowed by the strength of sensory perception.  It is real to us for now because that’s where our consciousness is centered (in time/space).  Later on in Enlightenment, due to the expansion of knowledge and awareness, we realize that the waking state, the “clear consciousness of day,” is but a stepping stone onto higher levels of perception.

“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the
immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the
sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual
self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego,
grieves and is sad. But when he recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and
beholds his glory, he grieves no more.”
(Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1,2)

The history of the human race is the story of the unfoldment of awareness.

The current round of human evolution, after that of Atlantis is you believe in those stories, started about 35,000 years ago with further refinement of Cro-Magnon man.  For the first 25,000 years or so, progress was made in social, hunting, language, and adaptability skills.

• 10,000 years ago, most humans lived as hunter-gatherers.
• 6,000 years ago, civilizations developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt’s Nile Valley, and the Indus Valley.
• 2,000 – 3,000 years ago, Persia, India, China, Rome, and Greek empires existed.

Substantial intellectual growth took a giant leap forward during the Greek empire.

Aristotle

Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) – philosopher and scientist
Quotes …
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Law is mind without reason.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.
All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.
A friend is a second self.

Pythagoras (570 – 495, BCE) – philosopher and mathematician, know for the Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2).

Socrates (469 – 399, BCE) – classical Greek Athenian philosopher.

Hippocrates (460 – 370, BCE) – physician and proponent of the medical Hippocratic Oath.

Plato (428 – 347, BCE) – philosopher, mathematician and student of Socrates.

Euclid (300, BC) – an Egyptian and Greek mathematician in the Greek colony of Alexandria.  Today in our High Schools we study Euclidian geometry.

Archimedes (287 – 212, BCE) – mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer.

Eratosthenes (276 – 195, BCE) – mathematician, poet, geographer and astronomer.  The first to accurately calculate the circumference (i.e., size) of the earth.

After the Greek awakening not much scientifically happened for the next 1,400 years.  Then in the 1600′s, about 400 years ago, it began again in earnest. That’s when the current scientific method and our identification and understanding in the functioning of the laws of nature began to seriously unfold.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) – developed the heliocentric (sun centered) theory of the universe.

Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601) – was a Danish astronomer who painstakingly measured (e.g., position) the movement of planets and other celestial objects in the night sky.  These measurements were used by Kepler and others.

Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) – physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, who showed that the Earth is not the center of the universe.

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) – mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, who formulated the laws of planetary motion.

René Descartes (1596 – 1650) – French philosopher.

Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662) – mathematician, physicist, inventor and writer, who invented the mechanical calculator.

Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727) – English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who invented calculus and formulated our understanding of the law of gravity.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) – is supposed to have first proved conclusively that lightning was indeed electricity, through some kite experiments.

Allesandro Volta (1745 – 1827) – created one of the first electric batteries.

Hans Christian Oersted (1777 – 1851) and Andre Ampere (1775 – 1836) proved the unity between electricity and magnetism.

Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) invented the first electric motor.

James Clark Maxwell (1831 – 1879) through his theory of electromagnetism, conclusively proved the unity between electricity and magnetism and proved that light was an electromagnetic wave.

Heinrich Hertz (1857 – 1894) and Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937) were the first to transmit electromagnetic waves.

• 1987 J.J. Thomson discovered the electron
• 1900 Planck discovers the quantum nature of energy
• 1903 The Wright brothers successfully demonstrate motor powered flight
• 1905 Einstein publishes the special theory of relativity
• 1906 Reginald Fessenden  invented radio broadcasting
• 1913 Rutherford and Bohr describe atomic structure
• 1915 Einstein announces the general theory of relativity
• 1924 Hubble identifies a new galaxy
• 1925 John Logie Baird  invented the television
• 1928 – 1945, Fleming discovers penicillin
• 1929 Hubble finds proof that the universe is expanding
• 1932James Chadwick describes the nucleus of the atom as composed of protons and neutrons
• 1947 Transistor is invented
• 1953 Watson and Crick describe structure of DNA
• 1954  First successful kidney transplant
• 1958 Jack Kilby made the first microchip, the start of miniaturization of technology
• 1959 Leakey family discovers human ancestors
• 1964 Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse
• 1965 Penzias and Wilson discover cosmic microwave radiation
• 1969  US Apollo astronauts walk on the moon
• 1973 Martin Cooper of Motorola created the first mobile phone
• 1976 Cosmic string theory introduced
• 1989 Tim Berners-Lee creator of the World Wide Web
• 1990 Hubble space telescope launched
• 1997 Ian Wilmut headed team that produced the first cloned sheep – Dolly
• 1997 Larry Page and Sergey Brin created internet Google search
• 2004 Mark Zuckerberg with his Harvard college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes created Facebook
• 2006 Jack Dorsey created Twitter

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Based upon the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, why is it that human beings developed the sense of sight (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, 400 nm-700 nm wavelength) over such a tiny sliver?  Why don’t we see radio waves?

It’s actually all very logical.  Based on the properties of the earth’s atmosphere, the different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the practical size of human eyes, it was natural for human sight to develop solely in the visual light range.

Earth’s atmosphere:
Gama rays, x-rays and most ultraviolet radiation do not reach the Earth’s surface.

Radio waves do pass through the atmosphere, but in order to see them with the same resolution as our visual sight, our eyes would have to be 10,000 times larger.  The difficulty is also compounded because the sun emits less than one billionth as many radio waves, as compared to the visual range.

Some infrared radiation makes it to the Earth’s surface, but some is also reflected back into space.  Water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs some.  To see infrared radiation, our eyes would need to be 5 to 10 times larger.

So today, in order to extend our perception of the world, we developed and depend upon various instruments.

Chandra x-ray Telescope

The history of the human race is the story of the expansion of awareness.  We are actively exploring the physical realm, while making headway into understanding the more subtle planes of creation.

Our body experiences sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.  Augmented by refined human consciousness, more subtle and silent levels of creation open up to our view.

Meditation serves as a Rosetta Stone for unlocking the mysteries of the universe.  As more people discover the benefits and bliss of meditation, and practice it daily, the human race will take ever larger leaps into expanded fields of knowledge, growth,  and happiness.

From the state of Enlightenment to that of Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (GC) the field of the Self comes further into view.  Upon Unit Consciousness (UC) no aspect of creation, relative or absolute, remains hidden from sensory perception.  The Self is experienced subjectively and objectively.  The circle of life is now complete.

On the trails of time we walk seeking opportunities for growth and freedom.  We long to uncover our true nature.  Clad in selfish desires and short sighted goals, we slowly move toward our true destiny – realization of the eternal Self.

Meditate each day to accelerate your growth, to hasten the day when you shake hands with the absolute and encompass your full human potential.

Posted by John Kirszenberg on May 8th, 2011 Comments Off