Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why is the Buddha big, fat, and happy?

Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly
It is thought that the future Buddha Maitreya will come as a Central Asian (Scythian) king.
Just as not all swastikas are the same, neither are all "Buddhas." Here the true historical Buddha Gautama or Shakyamuni (left) is contrasted with the popular Mahayana Fat Happy Bodhisattva Budai or Hotei (blavatskytheosophy.com).
.
Fat Budai is not "the Buddha."
The Buddha is NOT fat, big and happy perhaps, but not fat. The fat guy is Budai, also known as Hotei.

He's a bodhisattva, a being aspiring for buddhahood and Maitreya/Messiah status as a kind of Mahayana martyr figure who will save all living beings when he's on the verge of enlightenment but will not enter enlightenment as a buddha but rather as a supremely enlightened (samma-sam-buddha arhat who then establishes the Dharma (teaching that leads to liberation) and waits for all living beings to gain insight and cross over this flood of suffering known as samsara, the "Wheel of Life and Death."

The historical Buddha Shakyamuni
It will be a long wait, of course, but Mahayana Buddhists comfort themselves with selfless vows and slogans like "samsara is nirvana." It's a lot like Catholicism, if one thinks about it. Indeed, there are many, many similarities between the later Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") school that departed and extrapolated or interpreted the historical Buddha's teaching to create a more Brahminical/Hindu version for the masses of followers who prefer faith to compassion to wisdom and compassion.

The "Virg Yin" Kwan Yin Bodhisattva
Like Catholicism, Mahayana Buddhism is far more concerned with the Virg Yin (Kwan Yin) than the central teaching figure. When the teacher is mentioned, it is usually not the historical Buddha who is meant but a more cosmic God-like being known as Amitabha. Everyone goes around greeting each other saying Amitofu, as in "all hail the great leader" or "God bless you."

The Western God, all-powerful white man
Great ceremonies and fanfare promote faith, emotions, piety, and devotion rather than meditation, dispassion, mindfulness, or insight. That kind of stuff is left to the monastics, who do not usually practice much either given that they have become priests and priestesses, officiants at social functions such as funerals and "blessing" ceremonies, so many blessin ceremonies. Like Brahmins of the Buddha's time and later Hindu priests, they are the officials who know the secret mantras (prayer-like magic formulae), the way to "God" and "GOD" (Brahma and Brahman), the ones who as God's representatives on Earth can forgive, modify, or even expunge karma for the rich (with a little "indulgence" selling in the old European style).

Veneration of good luck Budai is widespread
Populist Mahayana Buddhism in China is so in line with Roman Catholicism that the official communist government asked the Vatican and Catholic Church to come in and proselytize to have social control the former Confucian-Taoist-Buddhist triumvirate used to exert for social control. Most Mahayana Buddhists do not realize any of this, so it may come as a shock to research and find it out. Religion is a very deeply seated thing most of us are born into, never question, and get no answers for even if we do question.

Future Buddha Maitreya
So we must all respect the fact that 90% of Buddhists follow this school and its Tibetan branch, which is different enough in appearance to call itself Vajrayana while still very much considering itself a form of Mahayana (just ask the 14th Dalai Lama, enemy of the Chinese government, savior of the Tibetan people and quite a few Westerners). For the love of Kwan Yin and Mother Mary, we can all be Catholic and join in the Universalism religion most humans are forced to follow at this time (which is the form followed on another neighboring planet, it is said, where the population has given up freedom for social cohesion, which seems to be the Chinese way, though not at all the American way).

The Buddha is still the Buddha, who spoke of 28 or so buddhas who had preceded him over the aeons, when the world was not so much different than it is now, save for the fact that in the past the devas (angels, gods, space aliens) were visible and no one doubted whether they existed or what they were capable of doing as superhumans who could shapeshift and appear as average humans.

So who's the FAT one?
Budai or Pu-Tai (Chinese and Japanese 布袋, Bùdài, Hotei, Vietnamese Bố Đại) is a Chinese folkloric deity whose name means "Cloth Sack." The name comes from the Santa Claus like bag he is conventionally depicted as carrying.

Budai is usually identified with or seen as a pre-incarnation of Maitreya, the "messiah," the Future Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in Mahayana Buddhist China.

The "messiah" Maitreya
He is almost always shown as fat, jolly, and smiling or laughing. Hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese 笑佛, pinyin Xiào Fó). It is no wonder that in the West, potheads (like Cypress Hill) frequently mistake the image of Budai for the historical Gautama Buddha (Shakyamuni, the "Sage of the Shakya/Scythian Clan). Sitting cross legged he is usually called the Fat Buddha (Chinese 胖佛, pinyin Pàng Fó). More

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer Music Festivals of L.A. (video)

Bliss Bowen (PasadenaWeekly.com); Crystal Quintero, Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; eaglerockmusicfestival.org; EPR.la; FYFfest.com; LAWeekly.com


(Wochit.com) Compton's own Kendrick Lamar and electro-rockers LCD Soundsystem will headline the 2016 FYF Fest, LA's annual two-day music festival in August. Tame Impala, Grace Jones, Young Thug (Jeffrey), Beach House, and Grimes will also perform, marking perhaps the most impressive lineup to date for the festival, which started in 2004 and takes place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park. Last year, Morrissey and Kanye West headlined -- the rapper being a last-minute (though hardly disappointing) replacement for Frank Ocean. Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem will also headline New York's Panorama Festival in July. feeds.mashable.com

Q: With all the music "festivals" going on in Southern California and the world, what are hipsters to do?
 
A: Save their money for this weekend's FYF Fest (fyffest.com) featuring Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala followed by LCD Soundsystem and Grace Jones, plus too many supporting acts to mention.


A view of the lost city, Lost Angels, from the newly reopened Runyon Park (laweekly.com)

.
Roots Revival: Eagle Rock Music Fest

The Eagle Rock Music Festival (ERMF) revives its mission and music this Saturday [8/20/16] with Orgone, Dengue Fever, Leftover Cuties, Jungle Fire, Boogaloo Assassins, and many others

What to do when your eclectic neighborhood music festival grows so popular that its success threatens to alienate the very people it’s intended to celebrate? In the case of Eagle Rock Music Festival, which launched in 1998, the answer was to regroup, downscale and rededicate.
 
Online (lionsroar.com)
In recent years ERMF attendance numbers hit six digits, which presented uncomfortable challenges for the community-oriented event.

Last year it was postponed as organizers took time out to consult with entities including the Los Angeles City Council, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, and Occidental College to study various ways to keep it healthy yet still responsive to the local citizens and businesses it was created to serve.

Shakespeare (iscla.org)
Thus the shift from its usual early-October slot to this Saturday -- presumably a more family-friendly date -- and a strong lineup of mostly homegrown soul, funk, rock, and world artists. More

Echo Park Rising
 

South of Eagle Rock in the direction of DTLA, home of Dodger Stadium which just featured two nights of Guns n' Roses' "Not in this Lifetime" comeback tour, is a part of L.A. called Echo Park.

"Echo Park Rising" (epr.la/schedule) is a celebration of local and relocated bands from around the world. They all come here, Nashville, or New York to make it in the music business. And here they are playing a two-day festival that, sadly, competes with the Eagle Rock Music Fest.

Science: friendship is more like art (audio)

Libby Denkmann, Francine Rios (Take Two/SCPR); CC Liu, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
I have two faces, one for real people and another for Facebook (Huff Post).

What are we watching, Chandler? - Oh, shut up, Rachel. - Yeah, Rachel, just watch.
.
The New York Times hit the Internet with a jolting question on Sunday: Do Your Friends Actually Like You?

In this age of  "likes" on Facebook and Instagram, social media can sometimes make friendships feel insincere. So what does friendship mean in this modern day?

Take Two explored this question with Alexander Nehamas. He is a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, and author of the book, On Friendship.
 
INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Why he studies friendship:

"I think that friendship is an amazingly important relationship in our lives. A life without any friendships is almost incomprehensible. But friendship is not a moral good. In other words, a very good friend can make you do things that are not at all good -- even though they are good friends. 

"There's a proverb that some people use that says, 'A friend can help you move house, a good friend can help you move a body' ...and yet at the same time, not only contemporary philosophy but philosophy from the time of Aristotle on -- at least in the way that we've read Aristotle -- has always thought of friendship as a moral good.

"Aristotle actually seems to believe that only virtuous people can be friends. And since he believes there are very, very few virtuous people in the world, there are very few friendships. And yet when you look around, you see there are friendships between any kind of people, and there is, as they say, honor among thieves as well."     

How friendship is like art:

"Great art can sometimes be very immoral, and yet we still value art, despite the fact that in many cases it goes against all our moral beliefs or commitments.

"So we love art, and we love our friends, and in very interesting ways, not only do they share this non-moral feature, but in both cases, it is an individual that we love, it's a particular work of art that we love, and even if other works of art have similar qualities, we may not like those other works of art.

"The same way that suppose you and I are friends, and I say, 'I like you, I love you because you're very intelligent.' And somebody says, 'Well how about George over there? He's even more intelligent.' And we say, 'I love your particular intelligence, the way you express your intelligence.' 

"All these expressions are ways to express that it's the very individual that we love, not the individual under a general description. And that's the same thing with works of art. So one feature that can be a wonderful feature in a particular work of art, say a particular color in a painting, the same color could destroy a different painting."

How social media has complicated friendships:

"One thing that social media is good for, I think, is to keep a friendship alive. What I don't think is very good is the idea that you can become a friend with somebody simply because you have friended each other on Facebook or whatever it is, because those relationships, they're not individual relationships.

"Because when I put something out on Facebook, I put it out for everyone who has friended me or whom I have friended... So the individual doesn't come in the same way when the relationship starts on social media. 

"I think that sometimes people meet through social media and then they continue their relationship, either in private without involving other people through the media, or personally, they go and meet each other. And then I think a friendship can actually flourish. But the pure use of social media to establish and preserve a friendship I think is hopeless."
  • To listen to the full interview, click HERE.

Friday, August 19, 2016

PORN: a special investigation (video)

BBC; Crystal Quintero, Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly PART I


(Njoy) Jade, 22, graduated with a degree in fashion from Manchester Metropolitan Univ. in the summer of 2015. But rather than work in the world of fashion, Jade -- porn star name "Carly Rae Summers" -- has decided to pursue a career in pornography. This documentary film follows Jade as she embarks on her new full-time career, traveling to shoots in London, Barcelona, and Prague, and explores the practical and ethical issues that surround a young female porn actress in Britain today. Why would a well-educated young woman with a range of career options choose to pursue porn as a career?
 



My new keyboard only has two keys.
(WQ) A frank exploration of the issues that surround pornography and the exploitative porn industry.

What is pornography? Unlike "obscenity," it's easy to spot -- nudity, arousal, prurient interest, debased images, violence, exploitation, harassment, rape, incest, coercion, force, fraud...

Many Westerners in this generation have been brought up on porno -- easy access to every type of boat-floating images, video, and animation.


What is porn?
Advice: Porn (BBC.com)
It is any material (words, sounds, pictures) designed to be sexually arousing. Anatomy pictures may be sexually explicit, but not intended to be arousing. That's the difference.
 
How big is the porn industry?
Yazidi sex slave, post acid attack (AP)
Almost all adults have seen some type of pornographic material by choice or accident. Since the arrival of the internet, pornography is far more readily available and less regulated.
 
Around 25 percent of all internet searches are for pornographic content, and on average almost 30,000 people are looking at porn at any given second.
 
Shockingly, an investigation by the London School of Economics found that 90 percent of youngsters between... More

Jade: Why I Chose Porn
There were social factors in my "choice."
…Summers -- has decided to pursue a career in porn…star in Britain today. Why would a well-educated young woman with a range of career options choose to pursue a career in porn?
"The Tempest" - FREE Shakespeare in the Park, Griffith Park, Los Angeles (iscla.org)
(CBS Los Angeles) Guns n' Roses (GNR) kicks off two nights at Dodger Stadium, L.A.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

SUTRA: More fire in California (Colby Fire)

TheGuardian.com; Ven. Thanissaro (trans.) Sampada Sutra: "Being Consummate" edited by Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
Full moon rises over the Colby Fire off San Gabriel Canyon Road in Azusa, California. Thousands of people were under mandatory evacuation orders overnight (Stuart Palley/Epa).
.
USFS firefighter, Azusa (Stuart Palley/Epa)
"Meditators, there are these five kinds of loss. What are the five?
  1. Loss of relatives
  2. loss of wealth
  3. loss through disease
  4. loss in terms of virtue
  5. loss in terms of views.
"It is not by reason of loss of relatives, wealth, or through disease that beings -- with the breakup of the body, after death -- reappear on the various planes of deprivation, the unfortunate destination, the lower realms, even in hell.
 
"It is by reason of loss in terms of virtue and loss in terms of views that beings -- with the breakup of the body, after death -- reappear on planes of deprivation, the unfortunate destination, lower realms, even in hell. These are the five kinds of loss.
 
"There are these five ways of being consummate. What are the five?
  1. Being consummate in terms of relatives
  2. in terms of wealth
  3. in terms of freedom from disease
  4. in terms of virtue
  5. in terms of views.
"It is not by reason of being consummate in terms of relatives, wealth, or being consummate in terms of freedom from disease that beings -- with the breakup of the body, after death -- reappear in good destinations, even in heavenly world(s).
 
"It is by reason of being consummate in virtue and being consummate in terms of views that beings -- with the breakup of the body, after death -- reappear in good destinations, even in heavenly world(s). These are the five ways of being consummate."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

California high desert burning (Blue Cut Fire)

KPCC FM (scpr.org, 8-17-16); CBS Los Angeles; CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly



Where will the Los Angeles lions go?
A wildfire burning out of control in the mountainous Cajon Pass is heading toward the community of Wrightwood Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Forest officials said.
 
By early Tuesday morning, the Blue Cut Fire had burned 30,000 acres in San Bernardino County and forced school closures and evacuation orders affecting more than 34,000 homes, prompting evacuation orders for more than 80,000 people, including Wrightwood.

This is a developing story. Refresh for the latest information.
UPDATES

Update 4:50 pm 2 C-130 planes added to firefighting efforts

Two military firefighting planes are joining the attack on the Blue Cut Fire. Two C-130 planes equipped with tanks capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant are being sent to the Inland Empire from the Air National Guard Base at Channel Islands, said spokesman Capt. Will Martin.
 
“The C-130s just add some punch to Cal Fire's efforts as they get spread pretty thin with so many fires,” he added.
 
Cal Fire made the request for the additional planes Wednesday morning, and they could be on the fire lines by the evening.
 
The Air National Guard usually uses the C-130s for military transportation and shipping cargo, but they can also be fitted out with the special tanks when need for firefighting, Martin said.

Update 1:45 p.m. Low humidity, high temperatures drive Blue Cut Fire

The critical elements to the Blue Cut Fire, according to the National Weather... More

 

Buddhist archeology around the world

BuddhistChannel.TV; Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
One of the great Buddhas of Bamiyan [Kapilavastu], Afghanistan [Shakya Land]
Wat Umong Suan Puthatham temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Young Thai man venerates statue in hollow stupa, northern Thailand (Alongkot/flickr.com).

Fabled Monkey King's tomb discovered
Jet Li as the Monkey King in "The Forbidden Kingdom" (chinaexpat.com)
.
"Monkey King" movie
China Daily, Jan 30, 2005) Fujian, China - A "tomb" of the legendary Monkey King [Sun Wukong] and his brother has been found on a mountain peak in Shunchang County, Fujian Province. Examination of the tomb in a temple on the highest peak of Baoshan Mountain dates it to between the late Yuan (1271-1368) and early Ming (1368-1644) periods.
 
Maharashtra: Nallasopara Buddhist stupa proves it was once hotbed of Buddhism
(Karan Hiranandani, The India Express, June 26, 2016) Mumbai, India - Inside an obscure protected site in Nallasopara that has been forgotten by the government as well lies a Buddhist stupa, which is evidence to the fact that Sopara or Shurparka, as it is known as historically, was the hotbed of Buddhism back in the day. More 

Endangered Buddhist temple preserved for posterity with VR Tech
(Barbara Eldredge, Curbed, Jul 1, 2016) The high-tech preservationists at CyArk digitally captured this cultural treasure. Taipei, Taiwan - The Hall of the Five Gates in Taiwan’s Lukang Longshan Temple is a mind-blowing work of architecture and religious devotion, featuring an intricately painted spiderweb ceiling and granite columns carved with some of Taiwan’s most famous dragon designs. More

Bagan builders "destroying Buddhists" medieval pagodas
(Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times, June 28, 2016) Bagan, Burma - Experts report that more than 600 pagodas at the 10,300ha Bagan complex have been damaged by unqualified builders. More

(P. Sujatha Varma, The Hindu, May 18, 2016) Amaravati, India - A clue given by residents of Vaikunthapuram, located in the Amaravati region, led veteran archaeologist E. Siva Nagi Reddy to the remains of a 1st Century B.C. Buddhist site atop a hill in the village. More 

Buddhist-era lamps found near Indo-Pak border (TNN, May 13, 2016) Amritsar, India - Earthen lamps dating back to Gautam Buddha's era were found by a villager near the India-Pakistan border in Amritsar district. Balwinder Singh, a resident of Bahadurnagar village situated on the border, found three earthen lamps from a mound. More

Around the World
Buddhist Central Asia to S.E. Asia
Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine