Is America a Christian Nation?

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I don’t mind the US being a “Christian nation.”

I do mind Christians forcing their beliefs on the individual.

Morality and Religion are not the same thing.

I loosely follow Buddhism. I call myself a Chaotic Buddhist. I give freely and constantly to causes that I believe worthy. I do not believe in the divinity of Ieshua or that the God of Abraham is the one God. I don’t believe or disbelieve in God, a God or the Gods. I believe that they may be there but that, if they exist, they do not involve themselves with our affairs. If they do, they’re either incompetent or evil…or just plain unable to communicate effectively. All of the religious writings that I’ve read are…well, let’s just say that they’re poorly written and not convincing. The Books of the people of Abraham read like a schizophrenic madman communicated them.

More than that, every moral teaching in them can be found in the teachings, wisdom and writings of Shakyamuni (the Buddha), Zoroaster and Mani. Zoroaster and Mani probably took theirs from that of the Sumerian prophets and teachers. Buddha probably learned from some older monk on the path to nibbana as well.

Morality is not unique to Roman Christianity. It wasn’t even unique to Ieshua from whose followers the Roman State stole Christianity.

The US need not be a Christian Nation. It need only be a moral nation.

I’m not saying that Christianity was NOT a foundational supporting system of the United States of America. It undoubtedly was such. Some of the founders were devout followers of Christ Jesus. Some were deists who generally worshiped “Providence” or the “Creator.” It is a debate that will go on until all tongues are silenced. Nonetheless, it is an unnecessary debate.

Christians have been violent and immoral throughout their history. Christians have murdered enmasse, at least, as many of their fellow humans as did the atheists and communists and communist atheists. Muslims have acted likewise. As have the Jews. Buddhists have done the same. Hindus…maybe more as human sacrifice was a greater part of their orthodoxy.

It matters not. Moral people act differently than religious people and morality is not synonymous with religiosity.

America needs to be a moral Nation.

No moral Nation has ever had a Vietnam War and an LBJ. That was, from beginning to end, an immoral war and that President lied to the American people in order to back us into that war and then sacrificed thousands of young Americans to maintain that facade.

America has had epochs of morality and epochs of immorality. Chattel slavery was immoral. The Civil War was immoral. Jim Crow was immoral. No nation that produced the War on Drugs or which empowered such inhuman filth as J. Edgar Hoover is completely moral. I could go on and on with this.

Bringing the light of Liberty to the world was moral.

The many missions upon which Americans have been sent out to selflessly help others in the world was morality.

Though done for less than selfless reasons, the Monroe Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were moral acts.

I know of no Nation which has been all moral or immoral. No people such as this has yet existed.

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Buddhist Veneration

Buddhist Veneration

In the Theravada tradition, it is customary to pay homage to the Buddha, recite the Three Refuges and undertake to observe the Pancca Sila (Pansil) on visiting a place of worship or at the start of a Buddhist ceremony. One can recite the following stanzas by oneself or invite a Buddhist monk to administer them.
The monk will recite each stanza in the ancient language of Pali and the devotee should repeat it after him
Vandana (Homage)
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa Honour to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the fully Enlightened One
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa Honour to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the fully Enlightened One
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa Honour to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the fully Enlightened One
Tisarana (The Three Refuges)
Buddham saranam gacchami I go to the Buddha as my refuge
Dhammam saranam gacchami I go to the Dhamma as my refuge
Sangham saranam gacchami I go to the Sangha as my refuge
Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam gacchami For the second time, I go to the Buddha for my refuge
Dutiyampi Dhammam Saranam gacchami For the second time, I go to the Dhamma for my refuge
Dutiyampi Sangham Saranam gacchami For the second time, I go to the Sangha for my refuge
Tatiyampi Buddham Saranam gacchami For the third time, I go to the Buddha for my refuge
Tatiyampi Dhammam Saranam gacchami For the third time, I go to the Dhamma for my refuge
Tatiyampi Sangham Saranam gacchami For the third time, I go to the Sangha for my refuge
Pancca Sila (The Five Precepts)
1.Panatipata veramani sikkapadam samadiyami I take the precept to abstain from killing
2.Addinnadana veramani sikkapadam samadiyami I take the precept to abstain from taking that which is not given
3.Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I take the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct
4.Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I take the precept to abstain from false speech
5.Sura-meraya-majja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam
samadiyami
 

as borrowed from

I take the precept to abstain from intoxicants 


Question all things…

“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” — Buddha

Rambling Through Laos

Spent the past week in Laos on my Visa run.

Had a great time with Unny.  Can’t wait to do it again.  It’s so cool traveling with her.  Everything seems more enjoyable to me.

We spent a couple of days doing the backpacker gig.  Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiene.  Kayaking and drowning in the Nam Khan!  Then we flew back home and the plane damn near kills us…well, the pilot or the wind

But we made it and I laughed my ass off while the girl next to me puked her guts out!

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Buddhism ~ The Four Vows

However innumerable sentient beings, I vow to save them.

However inexhaustible the passions, I vow to extinguish them.

However immeasurable the dharmas, I vow to master them.

However incomparable the Buddha’s truth, I vow to attain it.

Buddha

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought,
happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. “

This picture painted by the Mexican artist Octavio Ocampo is called “Buddha” but what is the symbolism behind the peaceful face? Isn’t it what is meant by the word “Enlightenment”? Look closer and you will see that the symbols of different religions are parts of one person. Isn’t it because all the religions are like flowers on the same tree and enlightenment means realization of the virtues which are the same in all the religions?

The chin of Buddha is made of his disciples bowing in namaskar. The lower lip is like the sahasrara chakra (1000-petal from Sanskrit). Ears are represented by Shri Ganesha and Shri Kalki. There is the tree of life constituting the forehead and the dove representing the Holy Spirit in the area of the fontanel bone. This is to name a few. May be you will also see something else.

Excellent Blog on the Hand Gestures and Postures of the Buddha

Although it reflects poorly on the speaker, it is not uncommon to hear the comment, “all of these temples look the same to me.” The best way to remedy this easy boredom with historical and religious monuments is knowledge. Knowing what to look for and how to differentiate between different structures will make for a much more interesting experience.

Buddha images were not made during the first few centuries after the life of Lord Buddha. They first appeared during the 1st and 2nd century A.D. in India. Almost immediately, a set of rules developed on how the Buddha should be depicted. It is worth remembering that a Buddha image is considered to be a hypostatis, endowed with supernatural powers and therefore has to be properly rendered. The Buddha is believed to have 32 major characteristics (and more minor ones).

Some examples that can be seen on Buddha sculptures are:

  • The Buddha is flat footed
  • Long and slender fingers and toes (often with the four fingers of both hands and the five toes of each foot of the same length)
  • A tuft of hair between the eyebrows
  • Head like a royal turban (or with a protuberance on top of the skull)
  • No furrow between the shoulders
  • Although not strictly listed as a major characteristic, Buddha images also have distended ear-lobes (from wearing heavy rings in early life)

The Buddha is always in one of four postures deemed suitable : Sitting, Standing, Walking or Reclining Postures. The dress of the Buddha is the monastic robe, draped over both shoulders, or with the right shoulder bare.

There are six major hand gestures of the Buddha (called mudra in Sanskrit).

[original article at baanjochim.wordpress.com]

Paintings from Vietnam

 

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This is the ubiquitous Vietnamese Schoolgirl. Every city in Vietnam from Chau Doc to Saigon to Da Nang to Hanoi, they wear these Ao Dai and can be seen coming and going to University. There is something exotic about these girls in these long dresses. They cover them from neck to ankle and they are so waif like. It’s pure feminine. Hard to forget. And the little girls going to and from school are adorable as well.

Cham Buddha

 

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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa

The above is Pali. The language of Siddhartha Shakyamuni the Buddha. It means:

Homage to the Exhalted One; Perfectly enlightened by Himself

Buddhists will chant this three times while bowing three times when they enter a Buddhist Temple. It’s not so much worshipping of the Buddha as it is paying homage to him for passing on the way. The Middle Path. The path to Nirvana. The escape from the cycle of suffering.

I had been looking for a painting of Buddha for a year.  Something that struck me as true.  I think that I’ve been too heavily influenced by my time in Cambodia.  This Buddha has a strong Khmer influence.  The ears.  The hair.  It even has a strong resemblence to Jayavarman VII who is known as the Buddhist King.  This painting is the origin of the tattoo on my left shoulder.

Cosmic Apsara

 

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This painting is the Cham interpretation of the Apsara. It has a cosmic feel about it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was as if she were floating above in Mount Meru watching us as we mortals toiled away our days on this earth.

Buddha and the adoring Nun

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This painting is totally taboo in Buddhist culture. A female is not supposed to touch the Buddha nor should a female touch a Monk. Yet, the portrayal of the act in this painting speaks to me of a devotion and a love so deep as to make defiance of tradition and custom not only possible but eminently obligatory.

The first three paintings I purchased in Hoi An, Vietnam. Hoi An is one of the oldest port cities in all of Asia. Marco Polo and Genghis Khan both visited this city. European, Chinese, Japanese merchants all traded their wares at this port. Travelers from all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East stopped over on their way to the markets of the world.

I picked up the fourth painting in Saigon in the backpacker district around Pham Ngu Lao area. This area has many of these art shops. The artists here will paint anything for you. All you need do is give them a picture. They’re quite talented young people.