27 February 2015

Judge Napolitano: Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Gov't is Dangerous

Nick Gillespie interviews judge Andrew Napolitano regarding taxation, abortion, religion, and government corruption. Very good interview. Runs 25 minutes.

24 February 2015

The Man From Heaven 2

A few years ago I told you about Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a Siberian Lama whose body has been preserved for 87 years. Itigilov's body remains in the state just following death, with soft skin, flexible joints, and liquid blood still in his veins. Recently a new body was discovered, on the black market (I found the black market once, but that's a different story). The man is currently unidentified, but there is speculation that he might have been Itigilov's teacher. The new body appears to be in much worse condition, very dessicated with dark grey skin, but still in a fantastic state of preservation for a body believed to have died 200 years ago. Buddhist art professor from Ulaanbaatar Ganhugiyn Purevbata says that the man is not dead, simply in a deep state of meditation. I'm not ready to say that this unidentified man, or Itigilov for that matter, will spring to life at any moment, but it does allow us to look at the fine line between life and death.

New research from Dr. Sam Parnia is showing that death is not a moment in time, it is a process, and a process that can be reversed many hours, or sometimes days, after a person is traditionally classified as dead. When the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje died in 1981 his heart remained warm for three days following the time he was legally classified as dead. Lama Surya Das, American Dzogchen Buddhist master, says that this state is called tukdam, a period of a few days after death during which the body remains in the same position and does not begin to decay. The mind is said to be in such a deep state of absorption that the body remains preserved, neither dead nor alive, until the person leaves the body behind. After a few days the body will fall over and begin to decay like normal. Up to this point we have hard documented evidence of bodies remaining preserved for a few days, but the idea that a monk can remain in this state for a century or more, according to Surya Das, is just mythology.

The idea of self-mummification (sokushinbutsu in Japanese) to create a "living Buddha" that will last forever might seem at the outset to be a contradiction of impermanence (anicca), but it is better understood in terms of skillful means (upaya). The mummified body, lasting for hundreds of years, serves as a symbol to future generations. The laity need their symbols of hope, their totems, to worship and keep them going in this world of suffering. Some may aspire to become monks, and future monks may themselves may aspire to study the dharma more diligently, and may even take on the difficult practice of self-mummification to serve as inspiration to still future generations.

If you would like to know more there is a documentary floating around the ether somewhere called Mystery of the Tibetan Mummy which tells of a 500 year old self-mummified Tibetan lama and goes into a little detail of Dzogchen practices and the history of sokushinbutsu. If you manage to find a copy feel free to leave a link in the comments section. (I have it on my computer, but I'm not about to incur the wrath of the youtubes for uploading copyrighted material, even if it aired only once and Discovery Channel has no intention of making any more money off of it.)

21 February 2015

God and Attachment

Another lovely video with Kriyananda. Here he talks about gratitude and getting rid of attachments. Everything you have is on loan and must be surrendered one day. Give your fear and worries to God and you'll live in peace.

20 February 2015

The Cause of Economic Trouble

Kriyananda talks about how big government and fiat currency are the cause of our economic troubles. The solution is to establish small communities based around cooperation and simple living rather than greed and welfare (Yogananda's "world brotherhood colonies", now realised under the Ananda villages in the US, Italy, and India).

03 February 2015

Islam: The Untold Story

Tom Holland's documentary film on the early history if Islam. In the 7th century the Arabs came out of nowhere, taking advantage of war and plague that devastated the Roman and Persian empires, conquering most of the known world, but there is very little evidence that these early Arab conquerors were motivated by Islam. Who was the real Muhammad? How was the Quran first written? How much of the official origin story of Islam is real and how much was invented after the fact, a century or more later, to justify the conquests of the Arabs generations earlier? It's well known that the Saudi government has been destroying early Islamic sites for years, including a house that was claimed to be the birthplace of Muhammad. Why would a people willfully erase their own history, unless there is something they are trying to hide?

Tom Holland suggests that the true origins of Islam and Muhammad came not from Arabia, but from the Negev, and it was not until much later that the Mecca story was invented to further distance Islam from Christianity and Judaism. This could explain why the early sites are being destroyed, not because of the danger of idolatry, but because those sites were fakes, built centuries later, and the Wahhabis in the Saudi government don't want anyone - especially devout Muslims - from discovering that the buildings and cemeteries date from well after the life of Muhammad and his companions. It could also explain why the Quran makes more sense when read in Syriac (the language used in the Negev and Sinai at the time) than when read in Arabic.

Runs 71 minutes.

In case of further questions, the author of the program has written a follow up article addressing various criticisms.