Shikoku Pilgrimage 2016 by Garyo, 3

 

 

Hiking up to Shōsanji, temple 12

 

Shōsanji was the first real mountain temple (7000 feet) on the pilgrimage.  When Kōbō Daishi founded a training place for his teachings on this mountain, there was a legend that told of a large snake living there.  He fought off the snake. The name Shōsanji originates from this legend (Shōsan means “burning mountain.” The snake burnt the mountain, but was subdued and shut in the cave by Kōbō Daishi with the help of Ākāśa-garbha (Space-womb, Limitless Light/Love) Bodhisattva, et al. Kōbō Daishi carved this Bodhisattva’s statue and enshrined it into the newly built temple, named Shōsanji, Burning Mountain Temple).

 

This mountain path is the first real challenge for pilgrims and therefore it is called Henro-korogashi, which means “henro tumbler” (“tumbler,” okiagari-koboshi, rising small Dharma-teacher, ” is a doll with Bodhidharma face in sitting posture with the weight at the bottom, which always sit up whenever pushed down, epitomizing the nana-korobi ya-oki, seven falling eight rising, always rising up whenever falling, the determined aspiration of the ohenro, pilgrim, practitioner to attain the awakening in unconditioned peace, nirvana. Ohenro, pilgrim, has already in the way to follow the Awakened Way in nirvana, unconditioned peace. Aspiration is attainment, egoless enlightenment: eternal essence.)

 

This day was the last day I walked with my Japanese friend Yuko.  After reaching Shōsanji, she and her husband Shigeo went back to Tokyo.  The good thing was that I did not have to carry my heavy backpack up the mountain; Shigeo brought it to the Nabeiwa-sō, a mountain resort of a Sumitomo company, in which I stayed overnight.

 

It was a crisp and beautiful morning when we started our several hours hike of 13 km up the mountain.  I was sure that Kōbō Daishi was with us.

 

 

 

 

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Start of the hiking trail at Fujiidera (temple 11) to Shōsanji (temple 12). The statue of Kōbō  Daishi, with red bibs on his feet, is watching over each pilgrim that begins to walk the path.

 

 

 

 

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Incense holder in front of the Daishi Hall, a place where Kōbō Daishi is venerated

 

 

 

 

 

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Already in the beginning of the trail the path consisted of stairs.

 

 

 

 

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View into the valley with Awa City and Yoshino River in the background

 

 

 

 

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With the elevation, more and more snow covered the path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The beauty of the winter landscape was stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

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The red path markers were even more visible in contrast with the green bamboo forest and the snow-covered grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

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Despite the freezing cold weather, camellias were still blooming.

 

 

 

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All along the way, one can find little statues of Jizos, which are guardians of the Henro. Some Jizos were so old that their bodies were hardly recognizable anymore.

 

 

 

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Statue of the Buddha in Nirvana close to the entrance of Shōsanji

 

 

 

 

 

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It was in the middle of the afternoon when we reached the temple grounds.  There was a steep stairway up to the entrance gate. Before reaching the gate, ancient cedar trees and red lanterns were lined up along the path with a statue of Kōbō Daishi on the left hand side.

I stayed overnight at Nabeiwa-sō, a mountain resort. The house seemed to be made out of paper. It was freezing cold!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Shikoku (Four States or Provinces) | Leave a comment

Shikoku Pilgrimage 2016 by Garyo, 2

 

Tokushima Prefecture, Place of Spiritual Awakening, Temples 1 – 23

 

The start of my pilgrimage at Ryōzenji (temple 1 – 11)

 

Although my Japanese friends were with me at the start of my pilgrimage (they left after temple 12), the start was not easy for me.  I felt totally overwhelmed by just everything – the language I did not know, the customs, the rituals, the path I had to find, the food.  Major doubts about my decision to walk the way entered my mind.  I had no idea how I could meet all these challenges.

 

I started at Ryōzenji, temple 1, like most of the pilgrims do. At the shop, I bought all the things I needed for the pilgrimage as an Ohenro.

 

 

 

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View into the pilgrim’s shop of Ryōzenji

 

Before entering the shop, everybody had to take off the street shoes. On the stand hang many kinds of rosaries (juzu).  I bought a brown one. I also bought nameslips (osame-fuda) and a sedge hat (sugegasa) with the Sanskrit letter A on it; A, as the mother of all sounds, signifies the vow to attain enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

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There were many white vests (hakui and oizuru) and pilgrim’s books (nōkyōchō) to choose from. White not only represents purity and innocence but also the acceptance that one could die any time on the pilgrimage (as clothing the dead).

 

 

 

 

 

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Also, there were different staffs (kongōzue) to buy. It is said that the staff is the embodiment of Kūkai, also known as Kōbō Daishi, who walks with the pilgrim all the time and protects him. On the staff is the inscription “Namu Daishi Henjo Kongo” which means “I take refuge in Daishi, All Illuminating Indestructible (Compassion/Wisdom), thus We two – pilgrims together.”

 

 

 

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There were also different colored stole (wagesa, lit. ring kesa: kashaya robe, decayed color robe of the aspirants, pilgrims) to buy.  Normally, it is an attire for priests only.

 

 

 

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Shigeo and I as Ohenros

 

 

 

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Entrance gate of Ryōzenji, temple Nr. 1.  Before entering the sacred area of a temple, the pilgrim has to bow in gassho (hands in praying position) in front of the gate.

 

 

 

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Daishi Hall of Ryōzenji, the temple where a statue of Kōbō Daishi resides

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Stamp received in the office of Gokurakuji, temple Nr. 2.  When I came back to the temple at the end of my pilgrimage, finishing the circle, I got another set of stamps.  Some pilgrims have walked so often that the entire page is totally red.

 

 

 

 

 

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Konsenji, temple 3, is famous for the Golden Well.  According to a legend, the Konsen (where Konsenji got the name from) is a source of long life.

 

 

 

 

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Detail of the Golden Well.  It is said that if you see your face in the reflection, you will live until 92.  If not, you will die within 3 years.  I did not try it.

 

 

 

 

 

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A sacred stone at Konsenji.  People touch it to get healing for ailments.

Legend tells of a famous warrior’s attendant who was so strong that he could lift this stone in front of the other warriors.

 

 

 

 

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Road to Jizōji, temple 5. This road is typical for the pilgrimage way in this area. The countryside is often urbanized.

 

 

 

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Reflecting pond at Anrakuji, temple Nr. 6

 

When I arrived at Fujiidera, temple 11, it was already after 5 pm. Up to Fujiidera, the distance was about 23 miles. I did not walk all of it, but rode by car to some of the temples. With the coming of the night, heavy snowfall started. I was glad that Yuko and Shigeo were with me.  We stayed overnight in a comfortable business hotel.

 

 

 

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Fujiidera is one of the few Zen (Rinzai) temples along the route.  It is also the first temple south of the Kyu-Yoshino-River (old Yoshino River), a powerful river running through this area.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Shikoku (Four States or Provinces) | Leave a comment

Shikoku Pilgrimage 2016 by Garyo

We are very fortunate to share Garyo’s travelogue with her beautiful pictures again

as repeatedly before – this time Shikoku, Four States, located in the south of Japan,

a completely new world with new language, living, living systems and situations.

Please share her experiences and impressions also with your friends and families:

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

It is a real pleasure for me to be able to share with you my experience of the Shikoku pilgrimage as an Ohenro, a pilgrim walking the approximately 800 miles Shikoku-no-michi route around the island of Shikoku. For years, I carried the secret wish in myself to walk the 88-temple hike, until finally I could do it in spring 2016. The whole pilgrimage took me 54 days, which included a stay at the Zen temple Zuioji for 8 days.

 

The Shikoku Island is divided into 4 prefectures. Each prefecture has been given a Buddhist Dōjō (place of spiritual training) name:

 

 

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Tokushima, Place of Spiritual Awakening

Kochi, Place of Ascetic Training

Ehime, Place of Enlightenment

Kagawa, Place of Nirvana

 

I will structure my report according to these four sections.  However, I started and ended my pilgrimage in Koyasan, the place where Kūkai is buried and in whose footsteps every O-Henro (henro means expansive path traveling for training, honorific o is for respect for this practice, people alongside the path offer warm welcome with respects and refreshments, etc.) walks. Therefore, I will also include my days in Koyasan, a place located south of Osaka on the main island.

 

Due to the nature of the blog, I only can give an overview and have to leave out many details. Despite that, I hope you can get a sense of the pilgrimage and maybe want to walk it too sometime.

 

 

Koyasan (Mt. Koya), 2 Days

 

In the beginning of the 9th century, Kūkai (kū: sky/emptiness, kai: ocean) received permission from emperor Saga to build a monastery on Mt. Koya, a place deep in the mountains and far away from civilization.  It became the center of the Shingon (True Word: Mantra) sect, whose founder was Kūkai.  His teachings are based on the use of mantras, mudras and rituals. This kind of Buddhism is called Esoteric Buddhism.

Koyasan consists today of 120 Buddhist temples and is a World Heritage Site. The Okunoin, where Kūkai is buried, is the most sacred place in Koyasan.  His mausoleum is surrounded by an immense graveyard, where over 200 000 people are buried. The graves are nestled in between ancient cedar trees, some of them more than 1000 years old.

 

 

 

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An over 2 km long walkway leads to the mausoleum of Kūkai, known also as Kōbō (kō: spreading, bō: dharma) Daishi, the great teacher.  It is said that he did not die but rests in eternal meditation to wait for the arrival of Miroku (Maitreya, lit. Friend) Nyorai, the Buddha of the Future. The path is lined by stone lanterns.  Left and right from the path you can see many different shapes of grave markers.  Even today, people want to be buried beside Kōbō Daishi.  Many different big companies also have their commemoration stones here at the cemetery.  One of the big pesticide companies commemorates all the insects it has killed.

 

 

 

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Under the root of a powerful cedar tree sits a little Buddha with offerings in front of him. It is very common to offer money.

 

 

 

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The water fountain is located near the mausoleum.  It was freezing cold when I was there.

 

 

 

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Those two Jizō (Kṣiti-garbha: Earth-wombed) Bosatsus (Boddhisattvas), guardians of children, seem to like the warmth of being cuddled together.

 

 

 

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Entrance to one of the temples close to the Ichinohashi (First) Bridge, the “gate” entering the sacred site of the Okunoin.

 

 

 

 

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This is the inner court of one of the 120 temples in Koyasan. On the left are Rhododendron bushes and a powerful group of Cedar trees.  A heavy rope surrounds the group of Cedar trees, indicating the sacredness of the place. Surrounding ancient trees with a rope is a Shinto (Divine Way) tradition. Shinto is the original religion of Japan based on the veneration of nature.

 

 

 

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Danjogaran (Hall on the Platform) in Koyasan with lecture hall, main treasure and the Konpon Daito (Original Great Tower) Pagoda originally designed and built by Kūkai in the 9th century.  Due to fires, the two story pagoda has been rebuilt many times.

 

 

 

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Here you see a row of Bosatsus (Boddhisattvas) with offerings in front of the temple Hongakuin (Original Awakening Temple) where I stayed overnight. These beings try to save all beings while training under Noyrai, the Buddha of the Future. Many temples provide a place to stay overnight in Koyasan.  These places are called Shukubōs (Lodging Temples, originally for practitioners and followers, later for ordinary travelers).

 

 

 

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Food is served in the Tatami room where you eat and sleep.  Rooms in temples are often cold in winter times. Underneath the table there is a heater to keep your lower body and feet warm.  The table was set for my friends Yuko and Shigeo and myself. A monk served the dinner. On the tray, every dish has its traditional place.  The red lacquered bowl holds the miso soup; on the plate beside is tempura. The blue patterned dish is for rice.  On the table, in the little iron cooking pots heated by a candle, a soup with different vegetables is boiling. The food is delicious.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Shikoku (Four States or Provinces) | Leave a comment

Colorful Colorado Cosmos

Monica, our member, kindly contributed her and Cole’s trip to Colorado :

Tashi Gomang Stupa in Crestone, the Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain National park, and several other beautiful places.

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Posted in Nature | Leave a comment

Commit, Conquer, Communicate, Cooperate, Coexist

 

Good morning!

 

Still sittings make us holy (wholly wholesome) and harmonious. I forwarded the speech Noam Chomsky gave at Riverside Church on January 5th at the 20th anniversary celebration of Democracy Now! to many groups and individuals. He warned that we now face unprecedented threats to survival: nuclear war and environmental catastrophe. It is urgent that we respond without delay, and more urgent on November 8th, that we face these threats directly and soon to avoid a disastrous failure of the human experiment.

 

This is due to human karma, creating the five fictitious sins of self, society, state, species, and symbolism, adapted from Bacon’s four idola of cave, agora, theater, and species. Humans take them as idols, blindly believing and sacrificing sanctity. Karma caused self-survival strife, creating self-centered sins, making mini-max mistakes, self-supreme superstitions, fatal failure fictions. Sin is sapiens’ separation, selfishness, sickness, and suffering of all.

 

The solution of such lies in sitting still, stilling karma, seeing dharma, serving, and saving all. People don’t know karma, much less that all are karma-machines, much less how to cease and cultivate it. They don’t realize nirvana, much less that all can attain it, much less how to serve and save all. It is now urgent, can’t be delayed, to let them know and realize nirvana and awaken in it, and live the awakened life together with all in holy harmony, health, and happiness.

 

How can we serve and save all? We may consider the five Cs: commit, conquer, communicate, cooperate, and coexist.  We must first commit to cultivation in the awakened way with the threefold learning, four holy truths, six perfections, eight holy paths, etc. and conquer bad karmas, communicate, cooperate, and coexist with all always in all possible ways so that we achieve a paradigm shift from karma to dharma, ego to eco, sin to holiness, etc.

1/8/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A mushroom cloud (photo: medium, from Reader Supported News)

 

 

Posted in Cultivation: culture, nuclear disaster, Wholly Wholesome Way/World | Leave a comment

Awakening or Annihilation

 

Good morning!

 

Yesterday I forwarded an article on Trump’s nuke expansion tweet frightening Chomsky, and a national security expert tweeting: But imagine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we are under attack or if it is because a foreign leader said a mean thing on twitter. Chomsky said the Doomsday clock might advance further to midnight. A new nuclear arms race will create Cuban crises in Asia and elsewhere. Trump hinted of a nuke armed South Korea and Japan, which already has a plutonium stockpile for several thousand atomic bombs.

 

Human karma, with the triple poisons of delusion, desire, and divisiveness, has created catastrophic crises of imminent wiping of life from the globe, making fictitious bodies of nation states, corporations, media, education, and religion, allowing nations’ heads to monopolize and manipulate people for their me-ism, materialism, militarism, and money-ism. They may devastate or destroy the whole world just for their egoistic, tribal, national instinct or insanity. Humanity must awaken and act to stop such institutions and insanity.

 

We urgently need a paradigm shift from delusion to awakening, karma to dharma, ego to eco, artificial unidirectional pyramidal civilization to natural cyclical Indra-net culture. We must awaken to the fact that we are all karma-machines with the triple poisons, which allow sinful (separated, selfish, sick) systems causing all suffering, and return to the triple learning of morality, concentration, and prognosis, reuniting with holiness (wholly wholesome, happy). Ninety-nine or a hundred percent of people can awaken in nirvana.

 

Anyone can sit still, still karma, see dharma (form/norm), settle in nirvana (no wind, of karma), serve and save all in awakening in nirvana. Thus, anyone can become Buddha (Awakened One) and live the Buddha life. Less than 1% at the top of pyramidal power politics misuse the state system, etc., and the rest are misused. The more than 90% under them can correct them, if only they awaken and act. In simple sitting anyone can become unmoved by bad karma and observe a global ethic, beyond a tribal one, avoiding annihilation.

 

12/25/16

 

Note

1.  Civilization (= urbanization, struggle for matter and power) started from city states              advanced to nation states with the fivefold calamities of delusion (sin, separation),                bondage, discrimination, exploitation, and extermination. Culture (= cultivation,                  sharing life and heart) started from the Spiritual Revolution (to correct the Civilization        Revolution, typically in universal religions: reunion with holiness) with the fivefold bliss      of awakening (in Dependent Co-origination), freedom, equality, compassion, and peace.

  1. The global ethic issued by the Parliament of the World’s Religions requires anyone, religious or non-religious, to observe the irrevocable directives of no killing, no stealing, no lying, and equal partnership between women and men (adaptation of the Buddhist Five Precepts).
  2. The tribal ethic is limited within the tribe (tribes, villages, city or nation states, religions, etc.) observing no killing, etc. only within their communities, but global ethic or universal ethic should apply to all in the globe (then there should be no wars, weapons, nukes, etc.)
  3. More details may please be referred to in the “Paradigm Shift” (text & diagram) in our website ‘document downloads.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Awakened Way (Buddhism) | Leave a comment

Winter Japan Alps under Circling Constellations

 

The following pictures were contributed by Mr. Masayoshi Hirasawa from Japan:

 

 

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Winter Constellations Circling above Yari-ga-take and Hotaka Mountain Ranges,

Taken from Cho-ga-take

  槍・穂高の天空を巡る冬の星座

蝶ヶ岳より撮影

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hida Mountains (Hida-sanmyaku), Taken from Shirouma-dake

Almost All Japan’s Mountain Peaks of 3,000m Class Included

Front Two Peaks: Shakushi-dake, Yari-ga-take

Middle and Far Peaks: from Left

Yatsu-ga-take Mountain Peaks, Mt. Fuji, Akaishi Mountain Ranges,

Kiso Mountain Ranges, Ushiro Tateyama Mountain Peaks,

Hotaka Mountain Peaks & Yari-ga-take

(Right of Yari-ga-take, listed above), Ontake & Norikura (doubling), Kasa-ga-take

Tateyama, Tsurugi (a part of its foot)

Left below is the Top of the Great Snow Valley (3.5km long)

白馬岳から飛騨山脈を撮ったもの

日本の3千m級の峰々のほぼ全てが入っています

手前の2峰  杓子岳 鑓ヶ岳

中景・遠景   左から

八ヶ岳連峰 富士山 赤石山脈

木曽山脈 後立山連峰

穂高連峰と槍ヶ岳

(鑓の右) 御嶽・乗鞍(重なっている) 笠ヶ岳

立山 剱(の裾の一部)

左下は大雪渓の上部

 

Cf. Shirouma Daisekkei (Mt. Shirouma Great Snow Valley, picture from Wikipedia):

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New Year Pictures from Japan and America

The following pictures were sent from Japan (New Year’s Day Sunrise on Pacific Ocean by Mr. Noriyuki Otsuka) and America (Snow on Washington State Land by Ms. Erin Davis):

 

 

 

 

 

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                                           A Very Happy New Year for You All!

 

 

 

Posted in Happiness | Leave a comment

Ordering Inordinate to Ordinary Order

 

Good morning!

 

At the end of our Rohatsu (Dec. 8) sesshin (embracing/touching the heart: 摂心・接心) commemorating the Buddha’s awakening, we have our ordination. Ordination is ordering into holiness (the holy order). Soto Zen does jukai (giving/receiving precepts: 授戒/受戒) of the Triple Treasure (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha: Community), the Triple Collective Pure Precepts, and the Ten Grave Prohibitory Precepts. As Dogen said (If not with all, it is not the Great Vehicle/Way. Receiving the Buddha’s Precepts is in the same rank as the Buddha), the Pure Precepts embraces all beings and all good dharmas & actions (actual no killing, stealing, lying, etc., as the awakened ones’ actions).

 

As the Triple Learning of morality, concentration, and prognosis (sīla, samādhi, prajńā) is the basis of all Buddhists’ Ways/Paths (truth/ethic). Concentration (next to nirvana) is the core of them, stilling karma, seeing dharmas, and saving moral actions. The Buddha reached nirvana and awakening of the Dharma of Dependent Co-origination (of all dharmas) and karma-dependence (of all living beings). He provided us with the core practice of it (sitting/stilling/seeing/serving/saving) to save all from sin (separation), sickness, suffering, samsara (up/down life like hungry ghosts, fighting devils, etc.), slaying, and succumbing. It is the unparalleled gift to transcend all karmas and calamities.

 

Due to nescience (no witnessing) of nirvana (no-wind, of karma), humans, most advanced in brain/hands (sciences/technologies), became the culprit of inordinate disasters (wars, nukes, pollutions, climate abnormalities, mass extinctions, etc.). In the karma world, people delude themselves with fictions (selves, societies, states, civilizations, etc.), taking fallacies and shames as fortunes and fames, self-inflicting damages, as if spitting against heaven, the Dharma of Dependent Co-origination (interdependence). Hence the paradigm shift from karma to dharma, sin to holiness,  artificial unidirectional civilization (matter/power) to natural cyclical culture (heart/life), ego to eco, etc. essential and inevitable.

 

Religion (from religare) is reunion with holiness (wholly wholesome way/world) from sin (separated sick suffering/samsara), but degenerates into selfishness, superstition, sacrifice of people/plants/planets of/by/for the powerful. Civilization (urbanization, from civitas, city, cf. citadel) ushered wars, slavery, class system, etc. (discrimination, exploitation, destruction). States (from city states to nation states) multiplied them with selfishness (me-ism, materialism, militarism, money-ism) to the brink of total wiping out of life even by a mad man with MAD (mutual assured destruction), deluding and mobilizing masses. Humans must ordain, organize, and order in calm-clearness like Indra-net knot crystals.

 

12/11/16

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Indra-net | Leave a comment

World Without War And Worst One

 

Good morning!

 

We have a good cool Sunday morning after sittings and service, fortunately without the predicted snow. I forwarded to our listserv Ronnie Dugger’s article “Sole Control of the Use of our Nuclear Weapons” in the Reader Supported News. Giving many odd cases of the president’s nuclear code handling and fearing the president’s quality, he advises changing the president’s sole control to that of a special group composed of the president, congress leaders, supreme court judges, et al, following O’Hanlon’s advice.

 

Elaine Scarry contended that this sole control over weapons of mass murder abolishes congress, thus American democracy. She concludes that the constitution (declaration of war by congress) and its second amendment (people’s right to abolish the legislature) require abolishing such weapons (president’s notice of its action to the congress within 60 days makes no sense in the case of nuclear war and winter). The situation is similar to that of other nuclear armed nations. The new weapons abolish the old governing systems.

 

All living beings with four-billion year genes are equally valuable, obliged to all life systems, responsible to continue such systems. No one has the right to kill or annihilate. Under nuclear power, no one is free, equal, or peaceful. Seeking life and destroying it is due to wrong ideologies and institutions, coming from karma. There is no other way than stilling karma in nirvana and awakening and starting an ultimate universal way from karma to dharma, from ego to eco, from money to life, from pyramidal civilization to Indra-net culture.

 

Even if one man is replaced by a team of several people, a nuclear war and war wagers are beyond our imagination. Only abolishing nukes is the wholly wholesome way. The less realistic alternative is to avoid wars (action to oppose or stop), and abolish military forces, and eventually abolish the war institution itself. Nukes and wars have been produced by our fiction and delusion of states, societies, and selves. Sitting, stilling karma is the solution.

 

12/4/16

 

 

 

 

 

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