Saturday, November 30, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Cracking the Ice of Delusion

The highest expression of our human nature is to purify our minds. To clear away the clouds, the sheets of snow, the ice that we’re encased in.

—Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni, “The Dharma of Snow”


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Friday, November 29, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: How to Truly Address Dissatisfaction

Consumerism promotes desire and dissatisfaction, the very source of suffering, as explained in the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. … What is unique about the Buddhist approach is that it goes to the very root of the urge for more, the desire, the hook that keeps us constantly searching for what will relieve our dissatisfaction.

—Interview with Stephanie Kaza by John Elder, “Ego in the Shopping Cart”


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Via White Crane Institute / MICHAEL COHEN




1997 -
On this date the pioneering gay singer-songwriter MICHAEL COHEN died (b: 1951). Sadly, Cohen has largely been forgotten, but his first album is considered one of the first, if not the first album by a major label by an openly Gay musician.
Released in 1973 on the Folkways label, Cohen's album made no bones about its nature. Titled "What Did You Expect: Songs about the Experiences of Being Gay", it consisted of nine songs that recounted Cohen's coming-out experience, ballads about his lover and a cover of a song by Leonard Cohen (no relation that we know of). The liner notes reveal that he lived in New York and was a taxi driver and very connected to the art scene in the early 70s. That's about it. He recorded two more albums (one more for Folkways, Some Of Us Had To Live" and the third on a smaller label).
But after that Cohen dropped off the radar. The music though is still fantastic and well produced and although comparisons are never great, Cohen's voice is reminiscent of a smoother Jim Croce. But you give it a listen and tell us what you think. Thanks to the gift of the Folkways archive to the Smithsonian, we can all still hear Cohen's work and even download the two Folkways albums via the Smithsonian Folkways website at http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=1461 and http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=1462
He is definitely someone to know about and listen to. For more about Cohen visit the fantastic Queer Music Heritage site's Michael Cohen page at http://www.queermusicheritage.com/jun2005mc.html

Via White Crane Institute: This Day in Gay History November 28:




1944 -
RITA MAE BROWN American writer, born; Best known for her mysteries and other novels (Rubyfruit Jungle), she is also an Emmy-nominated screenwriter. In the 1960s, Brown attended the University of Florida but was expelled; she states that it was for her participation in a civil rights rally. She moved to New York and attended New York University, where she received a degree in classics and English. Later she received another degree in cinematography from the New York School of Visial Arts. She also holds a doctorate in political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.
In the late 1960s, Brown turned her attention to politics. She became active in the American Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the Gay Liberation movement and the feminist movement. She cofounded the Student Homophile League and participated in the Stonewall Uprising (pg 243 of the 1997 edition of "Rita Will": "There stood Martha Shelley and I in a sea of rioting Gay men...'Martha, we'd better get the hell out of here.'") in New York City. She took an administrative position with the fledgling National Organization for Women, but angrily resigned in February 1970 over Betty Friedan’s anti-Gay remarks and NOW's attempts to distance itself from Lesbian organizations. She played a leading role in the "Lavender Menace" zap of the Second Congress to Unite Women on May 1, 1970, which protested Friedan's remarks and the exclusion of Lesbians from the women's movement.
In the early 1970s, she became a founding member of The Furies Collective, a Lesbian feminist newspaper collective which held that heterosexuality was the root of all oppression. She is the former girlfriend of tennis player Martina Navratilova, actress and writer Fannie Flagg, socialite Judy Nelson and politician Elaine Noble. Brown enjoys American fox hunting and is master of her Fox Hunt Club. She has also played polo and started the woman-only Blue Ridge Polo Club.
The woman is funny, she’s deadly serious, and you’d better damn well listen up. She’s just like Molly Bolt, the heroine of her semi-autobiographical Rubyfruit Jungle who locks her adoptive mother in the root cellar. She’s a born fighter and doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone. She’d be awfully hard to take if it weren’t for the fact that she’s right in what she says almost all the time. And she says exactly what most people don’t want to hear. Like, for example, “I don’t think there is a ‘Gay lifestyle.’ I think that’s superficial crap all that talk about Gay culture. A couple of restaurants on Castro Street and a couple of magazines do not constitute culture. Michelangelo is culture. Virginia Woolf is culture. So let’s don’t confuse our terms. Wearing earrings is not culture, that’s a fad and it passes. I think we’ve blown superficial characteristics out of proportion…”

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: A Thanksgiving Blessing

We receive this food in gratitude from all beings who helped to bring it to our table, and vow to respond in turn to those in need with wisdom and compassion.

—Lama Shabkar, “A Vegetarian Thanksgiving”


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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Via Ram Dass // Words of Wisdom - November 27, 2019 đź’Ś


"Ours is a journey toward simplicity, toward quietness, toward a kind of joy that is not in time. In this journey out of time to 'NowHere', we are leaving behind every model we have had of who we thought we were.

This journey involves a transformation of our being so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It's a journey that takes us from primary identification with our psyche to identification with our souls, then to identification with God, and ultimately beyond any identification at all.

Life is an incredible curriculum in which we live richly and passionately as a way of awakening to the deepest truths of our being. As a soul, I have only one motive: to merge with God. As a soul, I live in the moment, in each rich and precious moment, and I am filled with contentment."


- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Developing Tolerance of Differing Views

The key to developing tolerance is to separate the validity of an idea from the validity of the person holding the idea. Behind every idea is a motivation that is shaped by hopes and fears. If we are able to identify this underlying motivation, we will see the wish to find happiness and to be free from suffering.

—Khentrul Rinpoche, “Unity in Difference”


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Via Lion's Roar: Buddhism’s Next 40 Years: Right Activism


I believe modern thought’s greatest contribution to Buddhism is to our understanding of the second noble truth—the causes of suffering.

According to Buddhism, the root cause of suffering is ego, our mistaken belief in a solid, separate, and continuous self, and the three poisons we use to protect it—aggression, attachment, and ignorance. We act selfishly in service to a non-existent self.

This is Buddhism’s essential, life-changing insight. By understanding and acting on it, we can reduce, and maybe even end, the suffering of beings. The second noble truth is the diagnosis that leads to the cure, and today our diagnosis is more accurate than ever.

Buddhism traditionally said that the cause of suffering was personal and individual. Now to the personal causes of suffering we have added the psychological and the political.

We understand how suffering and trauma are passed down within families, generation to generation. We work to break the cycle.

We see how ego and the three poisons operate on a vast scale in our political, social, and economic systems. We take action against injustice and work for a more caring society to fulfil our basic vow as Buddhists—to reduce suffering. Buddhists are political because suffering is political.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Uncover Your Great Determination

When the great root of faith and the great ball of doubt are present, great determination will arise. Great determination is a strong resolve that wells up from the bottom of our gut and spurs us on. We already believe that we ourselves are intrinsically awake; we only need discover what is within us.

—Koun Yamada, “Great Faith, Great Doubt, Great Determination”


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Monday, November 25, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: The Power of Small Transformations

We are constantly being transformed when we travel on the path. While we may be the same individual on one level, on another level we are different. There is always continuity, and yet at each major turning point on the journey we have become transformed because certain habits have dropped away.

—Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, “Letting Go of Spiritual Experience”


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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Learning to Be Human

Fact is, we practice being human in every waking moment. And the more mindfully we practice, the more often our conflicts dissolve, the more easily we create new possibilities for relationship and community.

—Philip Simmons, “Learning to Fall”


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Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 24, 2019 đź’Ś





"The witness is your leverage in the game. The witness 'me' isn't trying to change any of the other 'me's'. It's not an evaluator or a judge; it's not the superego. It doesn't care about anything. It just observes. 'Hmmm, there she or he is doing that again.' That witness place inside you is your centering device, your rudder.

The witness is part of your soul. It's witnessing your incarnation, this lifetime, from the heart-mind. It's the beginning of discrimination between your soul and your ego, your real Self and your self in the incarnation.

Once you begin to live in this witness place, you begin to shift your identification from the roles and thought forms. As you witness yourself, the process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one."

- Ram Dass -

Vis White Crane: This Day in Gay History November 24

 

1632 - BARUCH SPINOZADutch philosopher was born (d.1677); One of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, he laid the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism.
By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, Spinoza is also considered one of Western philosophy's definitive ethicists. He was raised and educated in the Orthodox Jewish fashion, also studying Latin and was thoroughly familiar with European humanism. What exactly is it that caused him to be excommunicated from the synagogue when he was only twenty-four years old?
Many scholars have speculated that the horror Spinoza inspired in the Jewish community may have come not only from his espousal of advanced economic theories, but from his espousal, as well, of "Greek love" among impressionable students in the liberal circle where he taught. A Dutch physician, J. Roderpoort, wrote at The Hague in 1897: “Spinoza excites the youth to respect women not at all and to give themselves to debauchery.” 
Was Spinoza merely teaching the Greek and Roman classics, with their inevitable passages on pederasty? What were Roderpoort’s motives for discrediting the Jewish philosopher? Was Spinoza, in fact a pederast? It’s all open to speculation.

Via Daily Dharma: Our Enduring Buddha Nature

We are still in the ocean of samsara; we have not yet gotten our heads fully out of the water. We have roamed about in one confused state of experience after the other, endlessly. At the same time, we haven’t lost our buddha nature.

—Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, “Taking Your Future Into Your Own Hands”


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Friday, November 22, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Make Peace with the Present

Letting things be, without obsessing to change or improve them, could be seen as a highly developed form of compassion, one of the most central of all Buddhist virtues.

—Rita M. Gross, “Buddhist History for Buddhist Practitioners”


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Buddhism and Science: lecture by Prof. C. K. Raju


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: How to Live Without Regret

The Buddha’s teachings are about cultivating the beautiful and the good, the seeds of possibility that live in every human heart: generosity, kindness, and compassion. These qualities ennoble our hearts and leave no residue of regret in our minds.

—Christina Feldman, “Doing, Being, and the Great In-Between”


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Via Gay Wisdom: This Day in Gay History November 21 - VOLTAIRE

1694 -
VOLTAIRE, French philosopher, born (d: 1778); born François-Marie Arouet, better known by the nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher known for his wit, philosophical sport, and defense of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform despite strict censorship laws and harsh penalties for those who broke them. A satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize Christian dogma and the French institutions of his day. The name "Voltaire," which he adopted in 1718 not only as a pen name but also in daily use, is an anagram of the Latinized spelling of his surname "Arouet" and the letters of the sobriquet "le jeune" ("the younger"): AROVET Le Ieune. The name also echoes in reversed order the syllables of a familial château in the Poitou region: "Airvault".
In terms of religious texts, Voltaire was largely of the opinion that the Bible was 1) an outdated legal and/or moral reference, 2) by and large a metaphor, but one that perhaps taught some good lessons, and 3) a work of Man, not a divine gift. These beliefs did not hinder his religious practice (It is a line from one of his poems that translates "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.") though it did gain him somewhat of a bad reputation in the Catholic Church. He is best known today for his novel, Candide.
Voltaire blew hot and cold on the subject of homosexuality. Although he is known to have sampled the delights of same-sex love on one occasion, he nonetheless admonished a friend who wanted to try it a second time, “Once, a philosopher,” he proclaimed, “twice, a sodomite!” He was locked in a love-hate relationship with Frederick the Great, with whom he spent agonizing, ecstatic years. In her biography of Voltaire, Nancy Mitford writes that “nobody who studies the life of Voltaire can doubt that he had homosexual tendencies, and one wonders whether his feelings for the king were not exacerbated by unrequited passion.” Whatever his personal reservations about homosexuality, the famous French writer was forthright in declaring that sodomy, “when not accompanied by violence, should not fall under the sway of criminal law, for it does not violate the rights of any man.” We will never know why Voltaire once signed a letter to a male friend, “E vi baccio il catzo,” which, politely translated means, “I kiss your rod.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Social Action - Ram Dass Full Lecture 1980



From the 'Ashram Without Walls' series, Ram Dass discusses how we can align our aspirations with our actions. We learn to listen in order to discover our dharmic role, as we honor our incarnation in every unfolding step. "Don't get lost in the many and forget the one, don't get lost in the one and forget the many". (San Francisco, CA - 4/15/1980) Please click the following link for additional teachings on service: https://www.ramdass.org/service-is-a-... 

Photos: David Lenfest, Rameshwar Das

The Plane of Pure Love - Ram Dass


Via Lion's Roar: The Path of Gratitude


The Path of Gratitude
The goal of Shin Buddhism’s central practice, nembutsu, is not to attain buddhahood for ourselves, says Jeff Wilson, but to express gratitude for all we have received.
Shinran understood Amida as buddhanature. As he puts it, “Buddhanature is none other than Tathagata [Buddha]. This Tathagata pervades the countless worlds; it fills the hearts and minds of the ocean of all beings. Thus, plants, trees, and land all attain buddhahood.”

Liberation is therefore always naturally avail­able and needn’t be chased after endlessly. Shinran taught that we must give up attachment to our ego-laden efforts to become enlightened and relax back into the embrace of inconceivable wisdom and never-abandoning compassion. In this way, we are freed from our anxieties and pettiness. Our practice, then, stops being about attaining buddhahood for ourselves and instead becomes about expressing gratitude for all that we have received. This is a way of life that deep­ens as the years pass; as Shinran put it, “My joy grows even fuller, my gratitude and indebted­ness ever more compelling.” 
 

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 20, 2019 đź’Ś


"Of course it's embarrassing not to always be infinitely wise, but I feel that what we can offer each other is our truth of the process of growing, and that means we fall on our face again and again.

Sri Aurobindo says, 'You get up, you take a step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step,' and that's the journey of awakening.

If you were awakened already, you wouldn't do that, so my suggestion is that you relax and don't expect that you will always make the wisest decisions, and just realize that sometimes you make a decision, and it wasn't the right one, and then you change it."

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Embark on the Path of Enlightenment

Supreme enlightenment encompasses a path that we can comprehend, a way by which we can understand the universe as it exists and by which we can live in harmony with all things in the universe.

—Nikkyo Niwano, “The Austerities of the Bodhisattva”


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USA for UNHCR: "Somewhere" performed by Portland, Maine's Pihcintu Chorus.


 
"Somewhere" performed by Portland, Maine's Pihcintu Chorus. Pihcintu is comprised of refugee and immigrant girls from 22 countries who have made Portland, Maine their new home. They come from countries like Burkina Faso, Iraq, Vietnam and El Salvador. Many fled war, violence and persecution, but have found safety in the Pine Tree State’s vibrant refugee community. 
 
Learn more at www.unrefugees.org
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tablet of the Universe

by Abdu'l-Bahá

translated by Anonymous.
published in Makátib-i 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Volume 1, pages 13-32
1997
originally written as "Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih".
Praise be to God Who hath ever caused His Names and Attributes to penetrate the degrees of existence; Who hath made the effects of those Names and Attributes to shine resplendent and their signs to be firmly established in both the hidden and manifest worlds. By them He hath made the holy realities that are informed by His grace and are the recipients of His outpourings to be the sole revealers of all that pertaineth unto Him, and hath caused them to move through the firmament of perfection in arcs of descent and ascent. He hath ordained these Names and Attributes to be the first and foremost origin and cause of being in the world of creation and the source of the different grades of realities in the degrees of existence. When, through its power of attraction and propagation, the Day-Star of Names and Attributes shone upon the hidden realities in the heart of the unseen realm, they issued forth, were spread abroad, scattered about, set in order, became the recipients of the grace of God and His outpourings, and were made to be the sole manifestations of the Divine conditions and Eternal signs. Emerging from behind the veils, they appeared clothed in raiments of light, moving in the firmament of the unity of God, in orbits of sanctity and circles of glorification.
Thus the suns of the praise of the one true God moved resplendent in a vast, infinite space, capable neither of being defined by limits nor contained within the compass of signs and allusions. All praise be to Him Who was its Author and Creator, Who spread it out, and adorned it with countless lamps and never-fading luminaries: 'None knoweth the hosts of thy Lord save Him' (Qur'an, 74:31). He made the circuits of these luminous divine orbs to be their lofty and celestial spheres; and He made the bodies of these spiritual spheres to be subtle and soft, flowing and liquid, undulating and vibrating, in such manner that these refulgent orbs swim in the circumferences of the spheres, and move in their vast space by the aid of their Creator and Maker, their Ordainer and Fashioner.

Divine and all-encompassing Wisdom hath ordained that motion be an inseparable concomitant of existence, whether inherently or accidentally, spiritually or materially. This movement must be governed by some check or rein, some regulator or director, otherwise order will be disrupted and the spheres and bodies will fall from the heavens. For this reason God brought into being a universal attractive force between these bodies to hold sway over them and govern them, a force deriving from the firm ties, the mighty correspondence and affinity that exist between the realities of these limitless worlds. By the operation of this attractive force those holy and resplendent suns, with their luminous worlds, satellites and planets, circling and orbiting in their heavens, at once exerted attraction and were subject to it, induced motion and were themselves moved, began orbiting and set into orbit other bodies, shone forth and caused others to shine. In this manner they became arranged in a perfectly ordered system, each one a handiwork of consummate fashioning and manifest beauty, each one an enduring creation and a conclusive proof. Glory be to Him Who attracted them, laid firm hold on them, imbued them with effulgence, ordered them and set them in motion; and far from His glory be that which any of his creatures can affirm of Him or attribute to Him.

O thou the recipient of overflowing bounties from the billowing, the surging, the Most Great Ocean, whose waves beat against the shores of the nations. Blessed art thou inasmuch as thou hast sought the shelter of the strong Pillar and taken refuge in the impregnable Stronghold, the station of complete servitude to thy Glorious and All-Praised Lord. Thou hast rid thyself of baseless suppositions and sanctified thyself from intellectual imaginings, hastening to the fountain-head of truths and mysteries, and thirsting for the well-spring of the river of knowledge where the seas meet and the rivers return.

Know thou that the expressions of the creative hand of God throughout His limitless worlds are themselves limitless. Limitations are a characteristic of the finite, and restriction is a quality of existent things, not of the reality of existence.
This being the case, how can one, without proof or testimony, conceive of creation being bound by limits? Gaze with penetrating vision into this new cycle. Hast thou seen any matter in which God is bounded by limits which He cannot overstep? Nay, by the excellence of His glory! On the contrary, His tokens have encompassed all things and are sanctified and exalted beyond computation in the world of creation.

These are spiritual truths relating to the spiritual world. In like manner, from these spiritual realities infer truths about the material world. For physical things are signs and imprints of spiritual things; every lower thing is an image and counterpart of a higher thing. Nay, earthly and heavenly, material and spiritual, accidental and essential, particular and universal, structure and foundation, appearance and reality and the essence of all things, both inward and outward -- all of these are connected one with another and are interrelated in such a manner that you will find that drops are patterned after seas, and that atoms are structured after suns in proportion to their capacities and potentialities. For particulars in relation to what is below them are universals, and what are great universals in the sight of those whose eyes are veiled are in fact particulars in relation to the realities and beings which are superior to them. Universal and particular are in reality incidental and relative considerations. The mercy of thy Lord, verily, encompasseth all things!

Know then that the all-embracing framework that governs existence includes within its compass every existent being - particular or universal - whether outwardly or inwardly, secretly or openly. Just as particulars are infinite in number, so also universals, on the material plane, and the great realities of the universe are without number and beyond computation. The Dawning Places of Unity, the Daysprings of Singleness and the Suns of Holiness are also sanctified beyond the bounds of number, and the luminous spiritual worlds are exalted above limits and restrictions. In like manner the worlds of bodily existence the mind of no man can reckon nor the understanding of the learned comprehend. Consider the following well-known tradition and examine its meanings indicative of the vastness of the cosmos and its awesome limitless expanse: 'God, exalted be He, fashioned one hundred thousand, thousand lamps and suspended the Throne, the earth, the heavens and whatsoever is between them, even Heaven and Hell -- all of these in a single lamp. And only God knows what is in the rest of the lamps.' The fact that philosophers and sages have posited limits and restrictions for such matters is to be explained by the limitations of people~s minds and perceptions and the blindness of the followers of allusions, whose natures and intellects have been rendered dull and inanimate by the interposition of many veils.

Every cycle and dispensation has its own distinctive character, its allotted measure of Grace. The realities of things are manifested in a degree proportionate to their stations, ranks, receptivity and capacity. For instance, regard the human reality, its spiritual perfections, the properties and virtues of the soul: their appearance and manifestation, their propagation and growth depend in degree upon the stage of development reached in the course of this earthly life, which ranges from the condition of the primal germ to the highest stations of mature development. The same principle is to be found in the whole of existence, seen and unseen.

Consider this marvelous cycle, this great matchless dispensation and say: Glorified be God, Lord of the Exalted Throne, for He hath manifested the Sun of Oneness and the Eternal Reality from this lofty and majestic, this mighty and ancient Horizon in such wise that when its ardent penetrating rays shone upon the empty worlds and desolate realms the realities of all things and the universal meanings sprang forth and were renewed through its regenerative power the hidden mysteries of the sciences, which discover the divine realities, were made known, and the guarded, preserved Secret and the Hidden Sign became manifest. For this sublime cycle, this most great Dawntide is the dispensation of truths and mysteries, of the gathering-up of the affairs of the Merciful in the centre of lights, and of the appearance of the hidden treasures in the midmost heart of the worlds of Thy Lord, the Almighty, the Unconstrained. In the reality of drops seas of divine verses surge and in the essence of atoms suns of names and attributes are manifest. In our times scientists are discovering in the strata of rocks secrets that their predecessors could not discover in perspicuous tablets of light. That is because in this most great manifestation, without investigation or deduction the gates of revelation and discovery have been thrown wide open.

The birds of men's thoughts have escaped from the snares of superstitions, and the veils have been rent asunder and removed from those mysteries which previously held sway over men.

As weakness and evanescence are inherent in the nature of the contingent world, it was not possible that it should sustain a complete manifestation of the signs and evidences of this Revelation, which hath shone forth from the Summit of Sinai, except in a gradual manner. For this reason wilt thou discern, when thou dost look about thee with joyful gaze and uplifted vision, the tokens of this great, brilliant Luminary, see the lights of wisdom shining from the horizons on all regions, gather the luminous pearls which are cast forth by this surging, restless and billowing Ocean, and drink from the clear sweet founts which spring forth from the outpourings of this bountiful showering rain-cloud. Blessed is he who hath not been prevented by the intervening veils of profitless and fanciful sciences from beholding the verities of true knowledge and from perceiving its inmost essence in the Day of God. Joy to him who hath removed the veil and gone forth amongst the peoples of the world with penetrating vision when the eyes of all are transfixed in awe at the effulgence of the All-Powerful. Woe to him who on the Day of Judgement is raised up blind, who neglected to remember his most glorious Lord, whose ears were deaf to the call which was raised in this all-highest Paradise.

Say: 'O my God! Wert Thou to create in every limb of my body tongues speaking, in the most eloquent of languages, pure clear meanings, far surpassing the limitations of signs and allusions, and were these tongues to praise Thee and thank Thee throughout ages and cycles, yet would they fail to discharge the full measure of gratitude I owe Thee for Thy grace and bounty in having enabled me to believe in the Manifestation of Thy Divine mercy, the Day-spring of Thy oneness, the Dawning-place of Thy mighty signs and the Repository of the secrets of Thy transcendent sovereignty in the midmost heart of the world. "And by whichsoever ye call upon Him, most beauteous are His Names" (17:110). Likewise would they fail befittingly to fulfil the debt of thanks I owe Thee for having removed from my eyes the veil that obstructed my vision, for having caused me to hearken to the melodies of the Birds of Holiness upon the branches of the Tree of Immortality and for having given me to quaff the pure water of the camphor cup from the hand of the Cupbearer of Thy gracious providence in this most great, this most exalted, most holy, blessed and august Manifestation.'

O thou who wingest thy flight in the spacious realms of the love of God! Know thou that the knowledges and disciplines, the arts and sciences which appeared in previous dispensations, when compared to the divine questions, the eternal verities and the universal mysteries which have become unveiled, manifest and brilliant in their meridian glory in this resplendent Revelation, are nothing more than allusions and metaphors, nay, they are hardly better than superstitious fancies. For the all-embracing universal Reality is, in the eyes of thy Lord, analogous to the all-embracing human reality which passes in the course of its early development through infancy, childhood and youth. Even though these various stages may manifest certain of the characteristics and virtues of man, yet what are these early manifestations in comparison to the perfections of the mind, the truths of the Kingdom and the mysteries of God, with which the reality of man becomes plentifully endowed after reaching maturity -- the period of its fullest expression?

For this reason thou must weigh all matters in the balance of this Cause and heed not the idle talk of the blind in heart and those who are captives of delusions and vain imaginations. Such talk is, to those possessed of insight, nothing more than fanciful stories and empty tales. Nay, rather thou shouldst investigate all things in a methodical and scientific way, and by clear proofs, perspicuous signs and incontrovertible evidences, seek to discover the undisclosed verities and the hidden mysteries which are concealed in the inmost heart of the realities of the universe. To those to whom God hath granted insight, whose inner natures are illumined, whose outer natures are refined, whose hearts are pure and whose minds are open and receptive, it is not acceptable, in this great and majestic cycle, to rely unquestioningly on the views of others in matters such as these. Conventional wisdoms and precepts based upon illusion and fancy, and to which no knowledgeable, experienced and intelligent person can reconcile himself, are today, in the sight of the truly learned. nothing more than 'deranged dreams'.
Praise be to Him Who hath illumined men's minds with the light of truth shining forth from the Dawning-place of Revelation. Glorified be the Lord of Majesty for breaking down the barriers, tearing asunder the veils, dispelling the darkness, bursting the chains of allusion, cleaving the fetters of imagination, freeing men's minds from the tyranny of conjecture, and liberating the birds of thought in the apogee of human hearts, so that they may soar with the wings of delight in the worlds of existence and with penetrating insight rend the veils woven by the spiders of fancy in these lofty chambers and high pavilions.

Know then, with regard to the mathematical sciences, that it was only in this distinguished age, this great century, that their scope was widened, their unresolved difficulties solved, their rules systematized, and their diversity realized. The discoveries made by earlier philosophers and the views they held were not established upon a firm basis or a sound foundation for they wished to confine the worlds of God within the smallest compass and narrowest limit and were quite unable to conceive what lay beyond; even claiming that there was neither void nor matter, but merely nothingness. This view is at variance with and contrary to all the divine truths and heavenly secrets. Indeed, if thou dost compare the ideal world to the human world and apply spiritual principles to physical matters thou wilt discover that this view is flimsier than a spider's web, because, just as the luminous spiritual worlds are sanctified above computation or limitation, so too are the physical worlds in this vast immensity of space. This is a secret of which God hath apprised His servants through His grace and mercy in order to demonstrate the idleness of the fancies of those who disbelieve in God, and to expose the baselessness of the arguments of those who are wandering blindly in their heedlessness, that the edifice they have built out of their vain imaginings may crumble and their profitless pursuits be discredited and fall into disrepute.

For their eyes have been blinded from beholding the worlds of God and their minds have fallen short of comprehending the mysteries of the Kingdom in this resplendent Vision. They believed that these worlds were contained in this small circuit, which in relation to the worlds of God is of no more account than the black in the eye of an ant in an infinity of space, even as He saith, and He speaketh the truth: 'None knoweth the hosts of thy Lord, save Him.'

With regard to that which hath been mentioned concerning the seven spheres and the seven heavens referred to in the Books revealed by the Dawning-places of Light and Repositories of Secrets in previous ages, such references were dictated by the conventional wisdom prevailing in those times, for every cycle hath its own characteristics which are determined by the capacities of the people and their readiness to accept fresh revelations of the truth from behind the veil. All things are ordained by God according to a given measure. When the Prophets spoke of the celestial spheres what they intended was no more than the orbits of the planets falling within that greater world that embraces the sun and its attendant planetary system. For the planets circling this sun are in seven degrees in respect to mass, volume, visibility and brilliancy. The orbit of the first of these is one of the spheres of this solar world and one of the heavens of finite extent that falls within the circumference of this all-encompassing circle. The same pattern is true for all the brilliant stars shining in the face of the heavens, every one of which is a sun with its own solar world containing planets and satellites. When thou gazeth at the planets with the naked eye, without the interposition of magnifying mirrors, they will appear to be in seven degrees. The orbit or circuit of each of these degrees is an upraised heaven and an encircling sphere in the world of existence.

Know then that, as hath been clearly handed down in the accounts of old, these great orbits and circuits fall within subtle, fluid, clear, liquid, undulating and vibrating bodies, and that the heavens are a restrained wave because a void is impossible and inconceivable. All that may be said is that the celestial bodies and the material bodies of the ethereal regions differ in respect of some of the substances and elements from which they are constituted, the quantities and proportions of these that go into their composition, the peculiar characteristics causing the difference in the outward effects of these bodies, and the properties that emanate from them in rich abundance. The celestial bodies that surround the material bodies also differ one from another in respect of subtlety, fluidity, and weight. It cannot be otherwise for a void is impossible.

The existence of a container implies the existence of something contained; what is contained can hardly be other than a body, but the bodies of the celestial spheres are in the utmost degree of subtlety, lightness and fluidity as bodies may be of diverse kinds: solid like rocks, malleable like metals and minerals, fluid like water and air. Lighter still they may be of a kind that ascends heavenwards, such as that which is used in dirigibles; and lighter than all of these are fire, electricity and lightning. All of these are bodies in reality, but some of them are weightless. In like manner thy Lord hath created in these vast heavens manifold bodies without limit or number, which the minds of men can neither compute nor encompass. Souls are bewildered when they attempt to understand them and confounded by a mere glimpse of them.

As for those who claim that the celestial spheres are massive, solid and contiguous with each other; that they are glassy, transparent and penetrable to the light of other bodies; capable of neither being cleft asunder nor welded back together; forever impermeable and imperishable -- these thoughts are mere suppositions and surmises made by people who have not understood the meaning of the brilliant verse that clearly states: 'All swim in a celestial sphere' (21:34, 36:40). The import of this verse is clear inasmuch as the act of swimming cannot be conceived of except in yielding, fluid, liquid bodies, and is quite impossible in solid, resistant bodies. Look, then, with discerning vision into this clear, conclusive and manifest proof.

Consider the fancies of the philosophers and observe how they wandered distractedly in the wilderness of philosophical preconceptions and erroneous beliefs for which the Mighty, Self-Subsistent King hath sent down no proof. As for the view that the earth revolves around the sun, that it is one of the bright planets of this solar system, and that the diurnal movement that brings about sunrise and sunset is caused by the rotation of the earth about its axis -- these are not modern ideas nor discoveries of recent times. On the contrary, the first person to state that the earth moved about the sun was the sage Pythagoras, one of the five pillars of wisdom, a defender of its sanctuary and unfolder of its secrets. He it was who recognized this truth 500 years before the advent of Christ and reasoned that the sun was a center in relation to the earth, because of its fieriness. He was followed in this view by the philosopher Plato in his latter days. 

Aristarchus composed a treatise in 280 B.C. in which he affirmed that the earth revolves about the sun and around its own axis. However, he did not found this view upon clear evidences, convincing arguments, and positive proofs derived from the laws of geometry and the principles of mathematics; rather he based it on a mere presentiment, an apprehension, an intuition. Most of the sages of old, though, because they viewed the visible world with their physical eyes and perceived it with their outward senses only, when they observed the stars and the heavenly bodies, concluded that it was the sun that was in motion and the earth that was still. Among them was the Alexandrian, Ptolemy, Roman citizen, renowned for his knowledge of astronomy and history. He was a professor at the school of Alexandria in the second century A.D. He chose the foundation of his system from a body of ancient principles, founded upon it his observations, and drew up an almanac based on the idea that the sun is in motion and the earth is still. Because of the sway and influence of the Roman people and their dominion over all nations, his system became well-known and the fame of his almanac and astronomical observations spread far and wide throughout the earth. He wrote a book on the science of astronomy and mathematics called Almagest.

In the first centuries of Islam, Al-Farabi translated this book into Arabic, and the views it propounded became well known to Muslim scholars. These views they followed and imitated without careful scrutiny and investigation and without fully comprehending the meanings of some of the Divine verses. For He hath said, and His word is the truth: 'All swim in a celestial sphere.' In this blessed verse it was clearly established that all the brilliant stars and heavenly bodies throughout the expanse of these lofty heavens, this vast, limitless space, and this earth too, are in motion, travelling in their orbits and swimming in their spheres and circuits. ~lore grave than their misinterpretation of the preceding verse was the inadequacy of their attempts to interpret the other blessed verse, which indicates that the sun moves about its own center and axis. He hath said: 'And the sun moves in a fixed place of its own' (36:38). Their minds were baffled, their souls perplexed, and their faculties unequal to the task of perceiving its meanings, for they wished to make it conform to the rules of Ptolemy, mentioned above, and to harmonize it with the almanac which he had drawn up. They were not, however, able to reconcile the two texts and for this reason had to have recourse to implausible explanations, such as the claim advanced by some that the words 'in a fixed place of its own' were originally 'it has no fixed place', the word for 'in' having become mistakenly confused with the word for 'no' [in the Arabic text]; or the claim made by others that by 'fixed place' is meant the Day of Judgement, at which time the sun will cease from its orbiting and motion -- this despite the fact that it is plainly stated in this verse that the sun's motion is about its own axis and center.

Know then that those mathematical questions which have stood the test of scrutiny and about the soundness of which there is no doubt are those that are supported by incontrovertible and logically binding proofs and by the rules of geometry as applied to astronomy; that are based on observations of the stars and careful astronomical research, and are in conformity with the principles of the universal themes expounded in the divine sciences. For it is by applying the outward world to the inner, the high to the low, the small to the large, the general to the particular that, with abundant clearness, it becometh apparent that the new rules arrived at by the science of astronomy are in closer accord with the universal divine principles than the other erroneous theories and propositions, as we have explained and illustrated.

The observations of Copernicus and his almanac have been more accurately compiled and more thoroughly and carefully researched than the other almanacs. Living at the turn of the fifteenth century A.D., he pursued his astronomical observations for a period of 36 years before publicly announcing the now famous system of laws that were the fruit of his studies; and were it not for our wish to be brief and concise we would have explained for thee the details of the system and summarized its repercussions. The guidance we have given on this subject, however, is sufficient for those with a seeing eye and clear insight.

Say: Exalted be the Self-Subsistent King, by Whose manifestation the veil of fancy hath been torn asunder; by which the sincere ones have dispensed with all else but Him through love for His manifest Beauty, a Beauty that revealeth the realities of things, seen and unseen, and exposeth the fanciful misconceptions and erroneous beliefs in the sciences; by which those that long to behold His Face have become apprised of the Hidden Secret, the Concealed and Treasured Symbol; by which they have soared on the wings of penetrating vision to the apex of reunion, the well-spring of happiness, and the station of blissful contentment, heard the sweet melodies of the birds on the boughs of the forests of revelation, bathed at the pure spring, drunk from the oceans of life in the world of light, and become intoxicated from the cup tempered at the camphor fountain in this manifest and resplendent Day, calling on their Lord in soul-entrancing accents, the like of which ear hath not heard amidst the gardens and meadows of Paradise, saying: 'I call upon Thee, O my God and my Beloved, with the tongue of my inmost spirit, with my face set towards the Day-Spring of Thy Unity and the Dawning-Place of the Sun of Thy Sublime Oneness, sweetening my breath with praise of Thee and thanks to the Center of Thy Divine mercy, for having created me, undeserving as I am, by Thy heavenly favor, in this majestic cycle and unique manifestation. For this is the Day which Thou hast singled out from amongst all ages for the dawning of the Sun of Thy Truth, whose brilliant rays illumine all the horizons, the Day in which Thou hast showered forth Thy grace, made perfect Thy proof and fulfilled Thy testimony, the Day in which Thou hast perfected Thy bestowals and bounties unto such of Thy creatures as are wholly devoted unto Thee. Verily, Thou hast honored them by attainment to that Day for which the chosen ones of God, i~ the remoteness of their separation, would have sacrificed their spirits, yearning to inhale a single breath of the fragrances spread abroad in such a Day, and longing to behold traces of the lights that shine forth above its heaven.

Thou, in truth, hast crowned me, through Thy gracious favor, in the midmost heart of creation, with this luminous diadem and seated me upon the throne of Thy love amidst all the peoples of the earth. And Thou hast aided me to remain steadfast in Thy Cause, through which the mightiest powers amongst the concourse of thy creation were made to shake and tremble, and the foundations of all beings in the realms of invention and creation to quake. I ask Thee, O King of the seen and the unseen, by Thine Ancient Beauty and the radiance of Thy Holy Countenance and Wondrous Being, to preserve us from vain imaginings and evil whisperings, and to assist us to be persevering and constant, firm and unwavering in Thy Cause. Thou, verily, art the Great Giver, the All-Bountiful, the Most Compassionate!'

Via Ram Dass: Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram

“This is the mantra of Maharajji, of Hanuman. ‘Sri’ could be translated as honorable or radiant. ‘Ram’ is not Rama, the man, the being; Ram is the absolute, it’s God, it’s a name of God. The game of mantra is most usually the names of God, it’s reciting the names of God. And it’s a way of tuning yourself to the absolute through love, and through honor. This is a devotional practice, this particular mantra. So it’s radiant Ram, radiant absolute, which is beyond radiance but it’s leading you there, radiant absolute. Jai means hail or I acknowledge. Hail, hail, hail. Hail Ram, hail, hail Ram. That’s all it means. The concepts behind it aren’t what it’s about, it’s a feeling quality of an emotional opening and offering and bringing God into your heart, bringing the absolute into your heart.” 

– Ram Dass

Via Daily Dharma: What Is Self-Liberation?

The liberation of Buddhism is liberation from self, not liberation of self.

—Dharmavidya David Brazier, “Performing the Ritual of Life”


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Via Daily Dharma: Recommit to Your Practice

Peace and clarity arrive through understanding patterns and the underlying nature of our minds, rather than through stopping our thoughts, achieving some special state, or having a particular experience. When we remember and trust this, letting go of our expectations and ideas, we can find more space to refocus and recommit to our daily practice.

—Oren Jay Sofer, “Why Can’t I Get to the Cushion?”


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Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 13, 2019 đź’Ś


"The curriculum of Seva (service) provides us with information about our strengths, and we discover how these contribute to genuinely helpful service. Each time we drop our masks and meet heart-to-heart, reassuring one another simply by the quality of our presence, we experience a profound bond which we intuitively understand is nourishing everyone. Each time we quiet our mind, our listening becomes sharp and clear, deep and perceptive; we realize that we know more than we thought we knew, and can reach out and hear, as if from inside, the heart of someone's pain. Each time we are able to remain open to suffering, despite our fear and defensiveness, we sense a love in us which becomes increasingly unconditional."

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Treat Your Emotions with Kindness

When feelings of fear or discomfort arise in the practice, as they sometimes do, we treat them [by] experiencing the feelings in a nonattached way, surrounding them with mindfulness and lovingkindness, and realizing that they are not ultimately a part of us.

—Bodhipaksa, “What You’re Made Of”


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Via Daily Dharma: The Experience of Lineage

In a lineage, what is it that is passed on? The answer to this question becomes incredibly complex and articulated over time as one participates with the teacher and other human beings in dharma practice and just plain ordinary life. The experience becomes so multifaceted and nuanced that it is inexpressible.

—Sandy Boucher, “Rivers of Constant Movement”


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Via Daily Dharma: The Two Sides of Hope and Fear

The Buddha’s teaching says that hope is just the flip side of fear, and fear the flip side of hope. The best thing is just to stay awake and watch it, watch yourself, and feel everything as it is right now.

—Kaz Suzuki, “A Caregiver’s Story: Kaz Suzuki”


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Via Daily Dharma: Living in Community

Perhaps that’s the clue about the happiness inherent in caring connections: The frightened “I” who struggles is replaced by the “we” who do this difficult life together, looking after one other.

—Sylvia Boorstein, “Riding the Wave”


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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 17, 2019 đź’Ś

"After a while, you come to appreciate that what you can offer another human being is to work on yourself to be a statement of what it is you have found in the way you live your life. One of the things you have found or will find is the ability to appreciate what is, as it is, in equanimity and compassion and love that isn't conditional; that is, you don't love a person more because they are happier the way you think they should be.

What you cultivate in yourself is the garden in which they can grow, and you offer your consciousness and the spaciousness to hear it."

- Ram Dass -

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: An Enduring Love

In this world where everyone dies, where every song ends, where every achievement is undone, where every treasure is lost, all of us are left behind. All of us leave. But everywhere and always there is the hum of continuing. Though always incomplete, always there is the sound of love, forever and at the core unfinished.

—Douglas Penick, “On the Departure of a Beloved Brother”


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Monday, November 11, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Benefitting the World

By the time it gets to war, violence is already way down the line. But in the same way love can also start right here, in the home in each one of us. We need to learn ways of expressing the pure energy of our feelings—anger and hate feelings especially—in a healthier direction that’s beneficial to the world.

—Interview with Maxine Hong Kingston by Trevor Carolan, “Helping Veterans Turn War into Art”


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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Change Your Mind to Change Your Life

Your problems won’t change; only you can change. That’s the point.

—Gento Steve Krieger, “Growing Ground”


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Via Daily Dharma: Can We All Practice Nonviolence?

Nonviolence is not some exalted regimen that can be practiced only by a monk or a master; it also pertains to the way one interacts with a child, vacuums a carpet, or waits in line.

—Kenneth Kraft, “Meditation in Action”


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Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - November 10, 2019 đź’Ś



"You are existing at many planes simultaneously at this moment. The only reason you don’t know of your other identities is because you’re so attached to this one. But this one or that one; don’t get lost, don’t stick anywhere. It’s just more stuff. Go for broke, awake totally. "

- Ram Dass -

GratedĂŁo!


Friday, November 8, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Transforming Suffering into Wisdom

Buddhism is a method of transforming the deep misunderstanding of the world that causes unhappiness into a wisdom that recognizes the impermanent, changing nature of everything we grasp—most significantly our selves.

—David Patt, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who? The Commodification of Buddhism in the American Marketplace”


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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: A Precious Opportunity

Gratitude, the simple and profound feeling of being thankful, is the foundation of all generosity…Generosity requires that we relinquish something, and this is impossible if we are not glad for what we have.

—Sallie Tisdale, “As If There is Nothing to Lose

Via Daily Dharma: Center in the Present Moment

The mundane aspects of everyday life can serve as a kind of god or beacon. These are the daily reminders that can center us in the present moment, and that help us to remember the ways in which we are all connected.

—Caitlin Van Dusen, “The Essence of Absence”


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