History

As a 2,500-year old religion, Buddhism has a rich and diverse past
  • Opening the Door... Paid Member

    The Buddha slowly circled the funeral pyre three times. Before he lit the funeral pyre, he said, "Birth, old age, sickness, and death occur in the life of all persons. We should reflect on birth, old age, sickness, and death every day in order to prevent ourselves from becoming lost in desires and in order to be able to create a life filled with peace, joy, and contentment. A person who has attained the Way looks on birth, old age, sickness, and death with equanimity. The true nature of all dharmas is that there is neither birth nor death, neither production nor destruction, neither increasing nor decreasing." Once lit, flames consumed the pyre. The sound of gongs and drums intertwined with chanting. The people of Kapilavatthu attended in great numbers to see the Buddha light the king's funeral pyre. More »
  • The Original Ray Paid Member

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    The Trials of Dandaron Paid Member

    Sometime during the cold dark night of February 22, 1937, four trucks from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (NKVD) pulled up outside the nondescript boardinghouse next to the Tibetan Buddhist temple on Primorski Prospekt in the north of Leningrad (St. Petersburg). Four plainclothes officers positioned themselves around the building while a gaggle of others marched inside to arrest Ostov Budayev, a Buryat-Mongol lama. Budayev was bundled into the back of a truck and ordered to squat on the floor. After rounding up the night's remaining quota of political subversives, the trucks returned to the NKVD building on Liteinyi Prospekt and packed Budayev into an underground cell. More »
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    The Mysterious Madame B. Paid Member

    In 1934, an unpublished middle-aged writer named Henry Miller, living in poverty in Paris, had what he termed “an awakening.” He had read occult literature all his life, had just been reading Madame Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled, but was not given to mystical experience. As he recalled years later, One day after I had looked at a photograph of [Madame Blavatsky’s] face—she had the face of a pig, almost, but fascinating—I was hypnotized by her eyes and I had a complete vision of her as if she were in the room. More »
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    Confessions of a Buddhist Political Junkie Paid Member

    In the late seventies and early eighties I would escape every few months from my political work in Jimmy Carter’s White House to play chess with my old friend and Buddhist teacher, Geshe Wangyal, in Washington, New Jersey. From dawn till night the long silences, laughs, and wild accusations of cheating could be heard throughout the house. Meditative serenity sought by those looking for the “Wisdom of the East” was hard to find in his retreat center. More »
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    Sailing to Fusang Paid Member

    The quincentenary of Christopher Columbus' voyage has inspired a welcome re-visioning of that momentous and cataclysmic event. Nowadays, none but the most myopically Eurocentric embrace the myth that Columbus "discovered" America in 1492. That feat, we now know, was accomplished tens of thousands of years ago by small bands of explorers—the ancestors of Native Americans—who crossed over the Bering Strait into the Western hemisphere. In turn, they were followed by a motley crew, some possibly real, some probably not, which included Japanese fishermen landing in Peru around 3000 B.C.E.; Jews finding refuge from Roman persecution during the first century C.E. in what is called today the Tennessee River Valley; the Irish monk Saint Brendan reaching America in a curragh, or skin boat, some time in the sixth century; Leif Eriksson visiting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia circa the year 1000, followed by the Welsh Prince Madoc in the twelfth century. More »