Friday, January 30, 2009

Tara



The Bodhisattva-Goddess Tara
from wildmind

Tara means "star," "planet," or "she who ferries across." She is a bodhisattva embodying compassion in the female form of a young goddess. She is often considered to be such an advanced bodhisattva that she is actually a Buddha.

Tara’s name is said to derive from the verb meaning "to cross" or "to traverse". In Pali the verb tarati means "to get to the other side." This word is cognate with the Latin "trans" (across). The word Tara also literally means "star."

An interesting overlap between these two senses is the use of stars in navigation. The Pole Star, used at least for millennia to guide travelers, was known as Dhruva-Tara (the immovable star). Tara becomes a focal point on the far shore that helps us guide our lives in a safe direction. We can take her enlightened qualities of wisdom and compassion as our guide, moment by moment, as we navigate our lives.

A third meaning of "tara" is "the pupil of the eye," again suggesting a focal point and conveying a sense that Tara watches over those who navigate the treacherous waters of life in search of the further shore of liberation.

Tara’s name in Tibetan is Dölma, which means "She Who Saves." She is seen as guarding against the Eight Great Terrors of lions, elephants, fire, snakes, robbers, imprisonment, shipwreck or drowning, and man-eating demons. In each case these terrors are symbolic of spiritual dangers. For example, the First Dalai Lama described the demons against which Tara offers protection as being our self-consuming spiritual doubts.









Erica Cassill



Fine Art America

Padmasambhava 2

The Seven Line Prayer

From Lotsawa House

Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche
Ngagyur Nyingma Series

Accomplishing the Lama through the Seven Line Prayer:

A Special Teaching from the Lama Sangdü

The Terma Revelation of Guru Chöwang

Homage to the yidam deity!

Fortunate men and women of the future,

Sons and daughters of an enlightened family,

When you turn to me, the guru of Orgyen, for refuge,

Take yourself to an isolated place, and

Make deep feelings arise of melancholy at impermanence,

And disgust with samsara—this is vital.

Then rely on me completely, heart and soul.

Reflect how every kind of refuge, all your hopes,

Are all fulfilled and complete within me, the guru of Orgyen.

Whether in happiness or in sorrow,

Have total trust and confidence in me.

No need to make offerings or praise;

Set aside all accumulating;

Simply let devotion flood your body, speech and mind, and

Pray, pray with these seven lines:

HUNG

ORGYEN YUL GYI NUB JANG TSAM

In the north-west of the land of Orgyen,

PEMA KESAR DONGPO LA

In the heart of a lotus flower,

YATSEN CHOK GI NGÖ DRUP NYÉ

Endowed with the most marvellous attainments,

PEMA JUNG NÉ SHYÉ SU DRAK

You are renowned as the Lotus-born,

KHOR DU KHANDRO MANGPÖ KOR

Surrounded by many hosts of dakinis.

KHYÉ KYI JÉ SU DAK DRUP KYI

Following in your footsteps

CHIN GYI LAP CHIR SHEK SU SOL

I pray to you: come and bless me with your grace!

GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUM

Pray in this way, over and over again.

Create a feeling of yearning and longing

So intense that tears spring from your eyes.

If the rapture of devotion overwhelms you,

Breathe out strongly, and then leave everything as it is.

Clear and awake, focused and undistracted, look within.

For children of mine who pray like this,

It goes without saying that they will have my protection,

For they will be the sons and daughters of the buddhas of past, present and future.

They will receive complete empowerment into the awareness of their own enlightened mind.

Their samadhi will be so powerful and stable, that wisdom will naturally blossom and expand.

This great blessing, which arises of its own accord,

Will dispel all the suffering that will ripen on you, or be experienced by others.

When your mind is transformed, others’ perceptions will simultaneously change,

You will accomplish enlightened activity,

And all noble qualities will be complete within you.

May the sons and daughters of my heart meet with this extraordinary skilful means, one which ripens and liberates into the dharmakaya realization of my enlightened being.

A practice with a uniquely powerful blessing, the seven line prayer is exceptionally profound; so let this instruction be an extremely secret treasure of my enlightened mind. May it meet with one who possesses a mind of wisdom, and is endowed with great compassion, called Chökyi Wangchuk.

© Rigpa Translations

Padmasambhava

Padmasambhava

from Rangjung Yeshe Gomde

A Short Biography
Jamgon Kongtrul the First

Now follows a short life story of Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmakara or Padmasambhava, extracted from the Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, a collection of life stories of the 108 main tertons written by Jamgon Kongtrul the First and found in Volume I of his Treasury of Precious Termas – the Rinchen Terdzo:

Padmakara has influenced countless beings through the Vajrayana teachings and in particular through the activity of the profound terma treasures. This great master was not an ordinary person on the path or just a noble being on one of the bodhisattva bhumis but an emanation of both Buddha Amitabha and Shakyamuni who appeared in order to tame the human beings and spirits difficult to convert.
Even the great bodhisattvas are incapable of fully explaining his life example but in brief I will narrate it as follows.
In the dharmakaya realm of the Luminous Vajra Essence he has by nature attained perfect enlightenment since the very beginning as the liberated ground of primordial purity. He is renowned as the original protector, Unchanging Light.
Buddha Immense OceanIn the self-manifest sambhogakaya realm of the Thunder of the Drum of Perfection, he spontaneously manifested as the boundless wisdom array of the five families of Buddha Immense Ocean possessing the five certainties.
As the external manifestation of this self-appearing display, in the countless sceneries of bodily forms in buddhafields of the five families comprised of the semi-manifest natural nirmanakaya realms of Mahabrahma, he appears to all the bodhisattvas on the ten bhumis. Since these all are the cloud banks of Guru Rinpoche's wisdom display, the 'inexhaustible wheel of adornment,' he is known as the All-Holding Lotus.
By the power of these wisdom displays he appears in countless worlds of the ten directions as the magical apparition of nirmanakayas who tame beings. In particular, it is taught that only in this Saha world-system he illuminates fifty worlds with the lamp of the teachings of Sutra and Tantra appearing as the eight manifestations to tame beings in the different parts of the world.
The Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal had a vision in which she saw a manifestation of Guru Rinpoche called Immense Vajra Ocean in the direction to the east. Each of the pores in his body held one billion realms and in each realm there were one billion world systems. In each of these world systems there were one billion Guru Rinpoches who each created one billion emanations. Each of these emanations carried out the activity of taming one billion disciples. She then saw the same display in each of the other directions and in the center.
In this world of Jambudvipa, Guru Rinpoche is known as just one nirmanakaya who tames beings but according to the different capacities and giftedness of people he is perceived in various ways. The history of the Oral Transmission of Kilaya and most Indian sources explain that he was born as the son of a king or a minister in Uddiyana; while the terma treasures for the most part narrate that he was miraculously born. In some texts he is said to have appeared from a bolt of lightning at the summit of Mount Malaya. Each of these wondrous stories differ in many ways. This is indeed a topic that lies far beyond the reach of an ordinary person's intellect.
I shall now limit the explanation down to a mere seed, the life of Guru Rinpoche according to miraculous birth as it appears in the terma teachings.
In the land of Uddiyana situated to the west of Bodhgaya there was an island in a huge lake on which appeared a multicolored lotus flower through the blessings of the buddhas. Buddha Amitabha sent from his heart center a golden vajra marked with the letter HRIH into the bud of this lotus flower which miraculously turned into a small child eight years of age holding a vajra and a lotus and adorned with the major and minor marks. The child remained there teaching the profound Dharma to the devas and dakinis on the island.
At that time Indrabodhi, who was the king of the country, had no sons. He had already emptied out his treasury by making offerings to the Three Jewels and giving alms to the poor. As a last resort, in order to find a wishfulfilling jewel he embarked on a journey with his minister Krishnadhara on the great lake. On their return first Krishnadhara and later King Indrabodhi met the miraculous child. The king regarded him as an answer to his prayers for a son and brought him to the palace where he was given the name Padmakara, the Lotus Born. Padmakara was then asked to sit on a throne made of precious gems and given lavish offerings by all the people.
The prince grew up, bringing countless beings to maturation through his youthful sports and games. He married Prabhadhari and ruled the kingdom of Uddiyana in accordance with the Dharma. At that time he perceived that he would be unable to accomplish the immense welfare of other beings by governing a country so he asked Indrabodhi permission to leave which was not granted. In an act of play, he then pretended that his trident slipped out of his hand; it fell and killed the son of one of the ministers. He was then sentenced to be expelled to a charnel ground. He remained in Cool Grove, Joyful Forest and Sosaling, engaging in the conduct of yogic disciplines. During this time he received empowerment and blessings from the two dakinis Tamer of Mara and Sustainer of Bliss. When bringing all the dakinis of the charnel grounds under his command, he was known as Shantarakshita.
Padmakara returned to Uddiyana, to the island in Lake Danakosha where he practiced Secret Mantra and the symbolic language of the dakinis through which he brought the dakinis on the island under his command. He then practiced in the Rugged Forest and was blessed with a vision of Vajra Yogini. He bound under oath all the nagas of the lakes as well as the planetary spirits and was invested with supernatural powers by all the dakas and dakinis. Thus he became renowned as Dorje Drakpo Tsal, Wrathful Vajra Power.Vajra Throne in Bodhgaya
He then journeyed to the Vajra Throne in Bodhgaya where he showed many miracles. People asked who he was and when he replied that he was a self-appeared buddha they did not believe but instead defamed him. Seeing the many reasons to have a teacher, he went to Zahor where he took ordination from Prabhahasti and was given the name Shakya Senge. He received the teaching on Yoga Tantra eighteen times and had visions of the deities. The he went to the female master Kungamo who was the wisdom dakini Guhya Jñana appearing in the form of a nun. He asked for empowerment and she changed him into the letter HUNG which she then swallowed and emitted through her lotus. Inside her body he was bestowed the entire outer, inner and secret empowerments and purified of the three obscurations.
Later, he met the eight great knowledge-holders and received the Eight Sadhana Sections. He received the Magical Net from the great master Buddha Guhya and Dzogchen from Shri Singha. In this way he studied and received all the sutras, tantras and sciences from numerous learned and accomplished masters of India. He became adept by learning a topic just once and had visions of all the deities even without practicing. At this time he was known as Loden Choksey and he displayed the manner of perfecting the vidyadhara level of maturation.
He then went to the country of Zahor where he magnetized Mandarava, a qualified dakini who was the daughter of King Vihardhara. Taking her as his sadhana support, they practiced for three months in the Maratika Cave after which Buddha Amitayus appeared in person, conferred empowerment upon them and blessed them to be inseparable from himself. They were given one billion tantras on longevity and accomplished the vidyadhara level of life-mastery. Having attained the vajra body beyond birth and death, they went back to teach the kingdom of Zahor. When begging for alms, they were arrested by the king and his ministers and burned alive. The master and his consort inspired faith by displaying the miracle of transforming the pyre into a cool lake in the center of which they sat on a lotus flower. They caused all the people to embrace Dharma practice and established them in the state beyond falling back into samsara.
Padmakara then returned to convert the people of Uddiyana. While begging for alms, he was recognized and burned in a huge pyre of sandal wood. The master and his consort again appeared unharmed on a lotus flower in the center of a lake wearing a garland of skulls to symbolize liberating all sentient beings from samsara. Because of showing this miracle he was then renowned as Padma Totreng Tsal, Powerful Lotus of the Garland of Skulls. He remained in Uddiyana for 13 years as the king's teacher and established the whole kingdom in Dharma practice. During this time he gave the empowerment and teachings for the Dharma Ocean Embodying All Teachings (Kadu Chokyi Gyamtso), through which the king and queen as well as all the destined ones accomplished the supreme vidyadhara level. He was then known as Padma Raja, the Lotus King.
In accordance with a prophesy in the Sutra on Magical Perception, Padmakara transformed himself into the monk Wangpo Dey in order to convert King Ashoka. Having established Ashoka in unshakable faith, during a single night he erected in this world one million stupas containing the relics of the Tathagata. He also subdued several non-Buddhist teachers, was poisoned by one king but remained unharmed. When he then was thrown into the river he made the river flow upstream and danced about in mid-air. Through that he became known as Powerful Garuda Youth.
Moreover, Padmakara manifested himself in the form of Acharya Padmavajra, the master who revealed the Hevajra Tantra, as well as the Brahmin Saraha, Dombi Heruka, Virupa, Kalacharya and many other siddhas. He practiced in the great charnel grounds where he taught the Secret Mantra to the dakinis. He subdued the outer and inner mundane spirits and named them protectors of the Dharma. At that time he became known as Nyima Özer.Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya
When five hundred Non-Buddhist teachers were about to defeat the Dharma in debate at Bodhgaya, Padmakara challenged them and was victorious. Some of the teachers resorted to evil spells, but Padmakara scattered them by means of a wrathful mantra given by the dakini Tamer of Mara. The rest converted to Buddhism and the banner of the Dharma was raised to the skies. At that time he became known as Senge Dradrok. Up to this point he had exhausted the three defilements and resided on the vidyadhara level of life-mastery, the stage of having fully perfected the supreme path.
Proceeding to the cave of Yanglesho situated between India and Nepal he met Shakya Devi, the daughter of a Nepalese King, whom he accepted as his sadhana support and consort. While practicing Vishuddha Heruka three powerful spirits created obstacles, preventing rainfall for three years and causing disease and famine. Padmakara sent messengers to India asking his masters for a teaching that could counteract these obstacles. Two men returned loaded with Kilaya scriptures and the obstacles were spontaneously pacified the very moment they arrived with the scriptures in Nepal. Padmakara and his consort then attained the supreme siddhi and abided on the vidyadhara level of mahamudra.
Guru Rinpoche perceived that the practice of Vishuddha Heruka brings great accomplishment. But that practice is like traveling trader who meets with many hindrances, whereas Kilaya is like an indispensable escort. Due to this coincidence Guru Rinpoche he composed many sadhanas combining the two herukas. At this place he also bound under oath the sixteen mundane protectors of Vajra Kilaya.
Padmakara visited other ancient kingdoms where he taught the Dharma: Hurmudzu in the vicinity of Uddiyana, Sikojhara, Dharmakosha, Rugma, Tirahuti, Kamarupa, and Kancha, as well as many others. It is not sure when he went to the land of Droding, but the tantric teachings he gave there on Hevajra, Guhyachandra Bindu, Vishuddha, Hayagriva, Kilaya and Mamo are still continued this present day.
Padmakara is generally regarded to have lived in India for 3600 years benefiting the teachings and sentient beings. But it seems that learned people accept that to be half-years and simply a generalization.
In order to convert people in Mongolia and China Padmakara emanated in the form of the King Ngonshe Chen and the yogi Tobden. Moreover, he appeared in the country of Shangshung as the miraculously born child Tavi Hricha who gave the instructions on the hearing lineage of Dzogchen and led many worthy disciples to the attainment of the rainbow body.
In this way Padmakara's activity for bringing people to the path of liberation by means of appearing in various places, in various forms, speaking various languages is indeed beyond measure.
Now I will describe how Padmakara came here to the land of Tibet. When King Trisong Deutsen, himself an emanation of Manjushri, was twenty years of age he formed a strong aspiration to spread the sacred teachings of the Dharma. He invited Khenpo Bodhisattva from India who taught about dependent origination and the ten virtuous actions. A year later the foundation was laid for a huge temple but the spirits of Tibet created obstacles and prevented the building. In accordance with the Khenpo's prediction, the king sent five runners to invite the great master Padmakara to come. Having foreknowledge of this, Padmakara had already gone to Mang-Yul between Nepal and Tibet. On the way to Central Tibet, he went via Ngari, Tsang and Dokham and miraculously visited all of the districts where he bound under oath the 12 Tenma Goddesses, the 13 Gurlha and 21 Genyen as well as many other powerful spirits.
At the Tamarisk Forest at Red Rock he met the king of Tibet where he proceeded to the top of Hepori to bring the gods and demons under his command. He laid the foundation for Samye and saw it through to completion, employing also the gods and demons who had earlier hindered the building. In five years the work was completed for the temple complex of Glorious Samye, the Unchanging and Spontaneously Accomplished Temple, including the three temples of the queens, which was built to resemble Mount Sumeru surrounded by the four continents, eight subcontinents, sun and moon, and the wall of iron mountains. During the consecration ceremony five wondrous signs occurred.
Kangyur - the TripitakaThe king then wished to translate the scriptures and establish the Dharma so he had many intelligent Tibetan boys study to become translators. Inviting other masters of the Tripitaka from India, he had the Khenpo ordain the first seven monks and gradually establish an ordained sangha. The Khenpo Bodhisattva and Padmakara and the other panditas together with Vairotsana, Kawa Paltsek and Chog-ro Lui Gyaltsen and the other translators then rendered into Tibetan all the existent Buddhist scriptures on Sutra and Tantra as well as most of the treatises explaining them.
Vairotsana and Namkhai Nyingpo were sent to India where Vairotsana studied Dzogchen with Shri Singha while Namkhai Nyingpo received the teachings on Vishuddha Heruka from the great master Hungkara. They both attained accomplishment and spread the teachings in Tibet.Samye Chimphu
King Trisong Deutsen then requested empowerment and instruction from Padmakara. At Chimphu, the hermitage above Samye, the great master disclosed the mandala of Eight Heruka Sadhanas into which he initiated nine chief disciples including the king. Each of them were entrusted with a specific transmission and all nine attained siddhi through practicing the respective teaching.
Padmakara gave numberless other profound and extraordinary teachings connected with the three inner tantras to many destined students headed by the king and his sons and the twenty-five disciples in Lhodrak, Tidro and many other places.Tidro at Drikung
Guru Rinpoche remained in Tibet for 55 years and six months; 48 years while the king was alive and seven years and six months afterwards. He arrived when the king was 21 (810 A.D.). The king passed away at the age of 69. Padmakara stayed for a few years after that before leaving for the land of the rakshas.
Padmakara visited in person the 20 snow mountains of Ngari, the 21 places of practice in Central Tibet and Tsang, the 25 sacred places of Dokham, the three hidden valleys, and numerous other places each of which he blessed to be a sacred place of practice. Knowing that a descendant of the king would later try to destroy Buddhism in Tibet, he gave many predictions for the future. Conferring with the king and the close disciples, Padmakara concealed countless terma teachings headed by the eight personal treasures of the king, the five great mind treasures, and the 25 profound treasures. The reasons for hiding these termas were to prevent the teachings of Secret Mantra to be destroyed, to avoid that the Vajrayana is corrupted or modified by intellectuals, to preserve the blessings and to benefit future disciples. For each of these hidden treasures Padmakara predicted the time of the disclosure, the person who would reveal them, and the destined recipients who would hold the teachings. He manifested in the terrifying wrathful form of crazy wisdom in the thirteen places named Tiger's Nest binding all the mundane spirits under oath to serve the Dharma and entrusted them to guard the terma treasures. At that time he was named Dorje Drollo.
To inspire faith in future generations, he left an imprint of his body at Bumtang, hand prints at Namtso Chugmo and footprints at Paro Drakar as well as in innumerable other places of practice.
After the death of King Trisong Deutsen, Padmakara placed Mutig Tsenpo on the throne. He performed a drubchen at Tramdruk where he entrusted the profound teachings to Gyalsey Lhaje, the second prince, and gave him the prophesy that he would benefit beings by becoming a revealer of the hidden treasures in thirteen future lives.
It is impossible to count exactly how many students in Tibet received empowerment from Padmakara in person, but the most renowned are the original twenty-five disciples, the intermediate 25 disciples and the later 17 and 21 disciples. There were 80 of his students who attained rainbow body at Yerpa and also the 108 meditators at Chuwori, the 30 tantrikas at Yangdzong, the 55 realized ones at Sheldrag. Of female disciples there were the 25 dakini students and seven yoginis. Many of these close had blood lines that have continued until the present day.
When about to leave for the land of rakshas to the southwest, the king, the ministers and all the disciples tried to dissuade Padmakara from parting but to no avail. He gave each of them extensive advice and teachings and departed from the pass of Gungtang, riding on a horse or a lion, accompanied by numerous divine beings making offerings. At the summit of the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain on the Chamara continent he liberated Raksha Totreng, the king of the rakshas, and assumed his form. After that, he miraculously created the palace of Lotus Light endowed with inconceivable decorations and also emanated a replica of himself on each of the surrounding eight islands where they reside as kings who teach the eight heruka sadhanas.
At present he dwells on the vidyadhara level of spontaneous presence in the form of the regent of Vajradhara, unshakable for as long as samsara remains. Full of compassion he sends out emanations to benefit beings. Even after the teachings of the Vinaya have perished he will appear among the tantric practitioners. There will be many destined disciples who attain rainbow body. In the future, when Buddha Maitreya appears in this world, Padmakara will emanate as Drowa Kundul and spread the teachings of Secret Mantra to all worthy people.
This short biography is just a partial narration which conforms to what was perceived by some ordinary students.

Translated by the Erik Pema Kunsang, and included in Dakini Teachings, © Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1990.

Books about or by Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born Master of Uddiyana

Books about or by the Lotus-Born Master of Uddiyana

Other names: Pemajungney (Skt. Padmakara, the "One Originated from the Lotus"), Totrengtsal,

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OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG


The Syllable by Syllable Commentary Explaining the Benefits and Advantages of the Vajra Guru Mantra











Death


KING'S CAPUCHINS' CATACOMBS OF PALERMO ITALY



The Sedlec Ossuary

Tibetan Skeleton Dance


Tibetan Sky Burial




Death and Dying in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition
The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible


Prophet of God, using the Lord's power, summons two bears to rip 42 children to pieces for calling him "Baldy." Most Christians will not believe it when you tell them it is in the Bible. Go to the links below and find out what else is in there.

And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:23-24


Dwindling in Unbelief

Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”


Just a weeks ago, the new 111th Congress was sworn in on Capitol Hill.

That means there are dozens of freshman members settling into their offices right now, figuring out their legislative priorities for the coming weeks and months.

We have to tell the new Congress just how important it is to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act – legislation that will repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and replace it with a non-discrimination law.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is already busy at work, scheduling meetings with Senators and Representatives to talk about the importance of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in this legislative cycle. But they don't want to walk into these offices alone - they want us there with them. SLDN wants to be able to hand each office a stack of thousands of names of people across the country committed to lifting the ban.

I've already signed their petition. Will you sign it too?

http://www.sldn.org/congress

Thanks!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Online Meditation Timer

Tricycle had this posted on their blog. Treeleaf Zendo has an online meditation timer. Choose between 10, 20, 30 or 40 minutes and if you want to start out with a chanting of the Heart Sutra. They also have mp3 versions you can download.

Today is INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY


From Gay Wisdom

Why today?
Well on this date in 1945 the Soviet Red Army arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland and liberated the survivors.

This is the day to remember the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi) regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler. Some scholars extend this definition to include the Nazi's systematic murder of Roma; Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war; ethnic Poles; the disabled; Homosexual men; and political and religious opponents. Taking into account all the victims of Nazi persecution, the total number of victims would be between nine and 11 million.

Between 1933-45, more than 100,000 men were arrested and registered by police as homosexuals ("Rosa Listen" or "Pink Lists"), and of these, some 50,000 were officially sentenced. Most of these men spent time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of the total sentenced were incarcerated in concentration camps. It is unclear how many of these 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the concentration camps. The leading scholar Ruediger Lautman however believes that the death rate in concentration camps of imprisoned homosexuals may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors, and were also persecuted by their fellow inmates. This was a factor in the relatively high death rate for homosexuals, compared to other "anti-social groups".

More recently however German state television channel Deutsche Welle updated this figure to "almost 55,000" deaths following the study of documents from archives in East Germany that had been inaccessible to researchers for decades after the war.

After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries. Some that did escape were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years. It was not until the 1980s that governments acknowledged this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the Gay community. This period still provokes controversy, however.

In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution regarding the Holocaust where the persecution of homosexuals was mentioned.

THE PINK TRIANGLE
One of the oldest symbols of the modern Gay rights movement is the pink triangle, which originated from the Nazi concentration camp badges that Homosexuals were required to wear on their clothing. It is estimated that as many as 220,000 Gays and Lesbians perished alongside the 6,000,000 Jews whom the Nazis exterminated in their death camps during World War II as part of Hitler's so-called final solution. For this reason, the Pink Triangle is used both as an identification symbol and as a memento to remind both its wearers and the general public of the atrocities that Gays suffered under Nazi persecutors. ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) also adopted the inverted pink triangle to symbolize the "active fight back" against the disease "rather than a passive resignation to fate."

Monday, January 26, 2009

“According to Buddhist Tradition”: Gays, Lesbians, and Sexual Misconduct



Posted at Shambhala Sun

Buddhist Reverend Danny Fisher has sparked a well-thought thread over at his blog, concerning the Dalai Lama’s stance on homosexuality. Danny deftly unearths key statements the Dalai Lama has made over the years on the issue, and points readers to what the late AIDS activist Steve Peskind wrote as a “Buddhist response” in the Shambhala Sun, back in 1998. Peskind’s communication campaign resulted in an historic meeting between the Dalai Lama and seven gay and lesbian leaders in San Francisco.

Peskind is no longer with us; he died in 2004. But his Shambhala Sun article is just as relevant today as it was back in 1998, and we’re pleased to offer you that again—read on.

, by Steve Peskind (from the March ‘98 Shambhala Sun)

Leaving the Fairmount Hotel in San Francisco, having just met with the Dalai Lama, the words, “according to Buddhist tradition” reverberated in my head. Stepping out into the June sunlight, I felt tired, calm, enormously grateful—and disappointed.

I was grateful for the Dalai Lama’s willingness to meet with gays and lesbians to discuss their concerns about Buddhist teachings on sexual misconduct, and for the press release from the Office of Tibet supporting human rights regardless of sexual orientation. But I was disappointed that he chose not to speak personally and directly, beyond Buddhist tradition, to the real harm of some of these misconduct teachings, and their irrelevance for modern Buddhists and others. I wondered, does the Dalai Lama, whom many consider the embodiment of Avalokiteshvara, who “hears the cries of all sentient beings and responds skillfully,” really hear the cries of sexual minority Buddhists?

The story of our meeting with the Dalai Lama begins with an article in the February/March, 1994 issue of OUT magazine, which quoted the Dalai Lama as saying: “If someone comes to me and asks whether it is okay or not, I will first ask if you have some religious vows to uphold. Then my next question is, What is your companion’s opinion? If you both agree, then I think I would say, if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay.”
Gay men, lesbians, and others reveled in reading the OUT article. We copied the article, sent it home, sent it…everywhere! We reprinted it in community newsletters that made their way around the world. A major spiritual leader, “the favorite lama of the world” as a friend referred to him, had finally told it like it is. We thought.

But in 1996, North Atlantic Books published Beyond Dogma: Dialogues and Discourses, a collection of talks and discussions from the Dalai Lama’s 1993 visit to France. On page 46 he responds to the questions, “What are proper sexual attitudes? What do you think of homosexuality, for example?” The Dalai Lama replies: “A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else….Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact. Is this clear?”

My immediate reaction on reading this was: “No. This is not clear!” Was the natural behavior of my sexual orientation a violation of the moral precepts of Tibetan Buddhism and consequently negative karma in itself? As a sexually active gay man, a longtime Buddhist practitioner, and an AIDS services provider for the last 16 years, I asked myself, “What happens when `new’ Buddhists, often refugees from harshly judgmental Divine Revelatory religions, read this? What about men and women around the world living and dying with AIDS? How will they feel?”

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Gay Buddhist Fellowship
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The Collected Works of Shinran


The central message of Buddha tells us that we are all worthy of salvation just as we are. Whether we are saints or sinners, male or female, black or white, ignorant or wise, straight or gay, believers or non-believers, Amida, the unseen caring spiritual force surrounding and penetrating us, ceaselessly works to liberate all beings from confusion and suffering. This is the universe's accomplished primordial promise, symbolized as the Primal Vow. Importantly, Shin Buddhism affirms that no one is left behind to suffer endless cycles of births and deaths and that there is no final judgement, end times or eternal hell. On the contrary, due to the Primal Vow, all beings are saved, just as they are. Shin Buddhist Beliefs and Practices











Smaller Amida Sutra Part 1


Smaller Amida Sutra Part 2


Smaller Amida Sutra Part 3


Smaller Amida Sutra Part 4

God is a Lesbian

This is an excerpt from Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on July 20, 1998 in Plum Village, France.


Question : "Dear Thay, I feel very well and safe here in Plum Village, but there were times in my life when I experienced discrimination, so there is one question which really interests me. What does Buddhism say about homosexuality?"

Reply: "Discrimination is something that many of us know, and there were times when we wanted to cry out for justice. You might be tempted by violent means in order for injustice to be removed. There are very many of us who are seeking non-violent means in order to remove injustice and discrimination imposed on us. Sometimes those discriminating against us act in the name of God, of the truth. We may belong to the third world, or we may belong to a particular race, we may be people of color, we may be gay or lesbian, and we have been discriminated against for thousands of years. So how to work on it, how to liberate ourselves from the suffering of being a victim of discrimination and oppression? In Christianity it is said that God created everything, including man, and there is a distinction made between the creator and the creature. The creature is something created by God. When I look at a rose, a tulip, or a chrysanthemum, I know, I see, I think, that this flower is a creation of God. Because I have been practicing as a Buddhist, I know that between the creator and the created there must be some kind of link, otherwise creation would not be possible. So the chrysanthemum can say that God is a flower, and I agree, because there must be the element "flower" in God so that the flower could become a reality. So the flower has the right to say that God is a flower.

The white person has the right to say that God is white, and the black person also has the right to say that God is black. In fact, if you go to Africa, you’ll see that the Virgin Mary is black. If you don’t make the statue of the Virgin Mary black, it does not inspire people. Because to us the black people, "black is beautiful," so a black person has the right to say that God is black, and in fact I also believe that God is black, but God is not only black, God is also white, God is also a flower. So when a lesbian thinks of her relationship with God, if she practices deeply, she can find out that God is also a lesbian. Otherwise how could you be there? God is a lesbian, that is what I think, and God is gay also. God is no less. God is a lesbian, but also a gay, a black a white, a chrysanthemum. It is because you don’t understand that, that you discriminate.


When you discriminate against the black or the white, or the flower, or the lesbian, you discriminate against God, which is the basic goodness in you. You create suffering all around you, and you create suffering within yourself, and it is delusion, ignorance, that is the basis of your action, your attitude of discrimination. If the people who are victims of discrimination practice looking deeply, they will say that I share the same wonderful relationship with God, I have no complex. Those who discriminate against me, do so because of their ignorance. "God, please forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing." If you reach that kind of insight, you will no longer get angry at that person who discriminates against you, and you might have compassion toward him or her. You will say: "He does not know what he is doing. He is creating a lot of suffering around him and within him. I will try to help him." So your heart opens like a flower and suffering is no longer there, you have no complex at all, and you turn to be a bodhisattva in helping the people who have been discriminating against you. That is the way I see it, out of my practice of looking deeply, so one day I made the statement that God is a lesbian, and this is my insight.

Buddhachannel

Plum Village

Impermanence


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Beauty in Decay

White Ashes


On White Ashes (Hakkotsu no Gobunshø)
This letter by Rennyo Shonin is usually read by Shin ministers at funeral services.

Now, if we look realistically at the nature of human life, we see that it is fleeting and unpredictable, illusive almost. Birth, life and death pass by in the twinkling of an eye. Thus we never hear of the human body lasting for ten thousand years.

And who today can keep the body young and healthy for even one hundred years? Yes, how quickly our lives slip away. Whether I am the first or someone else, whether today or tomorrow, our lives on earth do indeed one day come to an end. Life seems to vanish unseen like ground water, or to evaporate like the morning dew on the summer lawn.

Thus our bodies may be radiant with health in the morning, but by evening they may be white ashes. If the right causes and conditions prevail, our two eyes are closed forever, our breathing ceases and our bodies lose the glow of life. Our relatives in great numbers and with great wealth can assemble, but they are powerless to change our situation. Even the rites and rituals of grief and mourning change nothing. All we can do is prepare the body for cremation; all that is left is white ashes.

In view of these facts, does it not make sense to focus on the things we can change? We cannot control the passing away of both young and old alike, but each of us can take refuge in the Buddha of Infinite Life who promises to embrace, without exception, all beings who but recite his Holy Name - Namo Amida Buddha. This you can do here and now, freeing yourself of any worries concerning your future life.

With friendly reverence, I remain,

Rennyo (1414-1499)

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