Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today we will begin a two-week exploration of Native American Spirituality influenced by the Episcopal Diocese's "Peace Village" kit.

from Johnny Mike, Dine and Verdell Primeaux, Oglala/Yankton Sioux/Ponca

trans: "Hear Our Prayer because you gave us these prayers and songs
in a holy manner, Great Spirit, hear our humble prayers."


Oh, our Mother the Earth; oh, our Father the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts that you love
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
Oh, our Mother the Earth, oh, our Father the Sky!

from Herbert Joseph Spinden, trans., Songs of the Tewa, 1933.

MUSIC: "Katsitsy Tha": trans.: "Tribute to Mother Earth and Women's Contributions", performed by Joanne Shenandoah, Hadenosaunee/Iroquis

Opening Comments by Elders Gourd Woman, Hidatsa/Dakotah (Mary Louise Defender Wilson) and Eagle Heart, Ojibwe (Francis Cree)

American Indian religions are highly differentiated; therefore, they cannot be described in generalities.

Contact with European and Euro-American cultures led to change often drastically even to the point of extinction.

The surviving groups are remarkable for their ability to cope with change and cultural deprivation by adapting and borrowing from the non-Indian world making it possible for their survival. That in itself is testimony to their extraordinary character.

The Primal Foundations - Universal and Fundamental to virtually all North American Indian religious traditions past and present include these traits:

What is referred to as "religion" is not a separate aspect of what it means to be American Indian. There is no world for "religion" in any American Indian language. It is clearer or more accurate to use the term "traditions".

Language is more than a means of communication. Words carry special potency. What is spoken to named is really present - not as symbol or in duality. "Words in their sounds are born in the breath of the being from whom they proceed.". Breath is a life principal - words are sacred and must be used with care and responsibility. They are enhanced by the understanding that breath is within our Spiritual Center. Even an unspoken thought has potency and potential. Especially in ritual and ceremony. The recitation of a creation myth is actual not symbolic. It is not bound by time - referred to as "the immediacy of now" - it is a continuation of creation.

The perception of arts and crafts by American Indians are sacred. The natural materials used manifest sacred powers in accord with their particular nature and place of origin and the completed form becomes "what it is" - not in duality or separate from but an "embodiment" of its sacred nature.

Time and process is circular, cyclical, reciprocal not linear and are re-expressed in most aspects such as architectural styles and ritual and ceremony reflecting the cosmos.

There is a special quality and intensity of "Interrelationship" with their natural environment - not separate from but born of and with - A sense of place.


A Reading from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Marvin Meyer)

The Savior replied, "All natures, all formed things, all creatures exist in and with each other..."

From "The Rain Song", Tohono O'Odham/Papago tradition translated from The Sacred.

"At the edge of the mountain, a cloud hangs.
And there my heart, my heart, my heart hangs with it.
At the edge of the mountain, a cloud trembles.
And there my heart, my heart, my heart trembles with it."

From Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk), Lakota/Oglala Sioux

Peace...comes within the Souls of [humankind] when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that his center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."

Music: "Wilma Mankillers Song", performed by The Mankillers, Choctaw/Towa/Paiute

Commentary on Native American Spirituality



CLOSING PRAYER ( read together)

Navajo Night Chant (Kenneth Lincoln, trans.)

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In Beauty it is finished.

Music: "Mystic Nature" Jay Begaye and Everitt White, Dine/Navajo

Resources for today's gathering:

Beck, Peggy V., anna Lee Walters, Nia Francisco, ed., The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life (Tsaile, Arizona: The Navajo Community College Press, 1977).

Begaye, Jay and Everitt White. The Long Walk-Hweeldi. Canyon Records. 1999.

Eagle Heart and Gourd Woman. The Elders Speak. Makche Word. 1995.

Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk). Words of Power: Voices from Indian America, Ed. Norbert S. Hill, Jr. (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1994).

Lincoln, Kenneth. ed. & trans. Native American Renaissance (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1983), 47.

Mankillers. "All Woman Northern Drum." Weaving the Strands. Red Feather Music. 1998.

Meyer, Marvin. ed. & trans. The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (San Francisco: HarperCollin, 2005), 37.

Mike, Johnny and Verdell Primeaux. Walk In Beauty. Canyon Records. 1995.

Shenandoah, Joanne. "Matriarch" Weaving The Strands. Red Feather Music, 1998.

Spinden, Herbert Joseph, trans., "Songs of the Tewa, 1933". The Multi-Cultural Southwest: A Reader, Ed.A. Gabriel Melendez, M. Jane Young, Patricia Moore, Patrick Pynes (Tuscon: Univ. of Arizona Press, 2001), 23

Other sources of interest:; Joint Resolution to acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the US Government regarding Indian tribes and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States.

October is National American Indian Heritage Month.

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our conversation. Thank you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday, August 29, 2007

OPENING MUSIC - Jennifer Keeney, flute


Today we continue our two-week exploration of Islam with the help of the "Peace Village" kit compiled by the Episcopal Diocese. This week, we will study more fully what it means to be Shi'a and Sunni, the role of women in Islamic society, Islamic dress, and the concept of "jihad".


About Islam, compiled from various sources as noted.

Islam, as a religion, is characterized by its sober rituals and absence of ceremony. However, there are a few symbols that have become associated with Islam. Most recognizable is the prayer-carpet, which, along with the surrounding area, must be spotlessly clean. Prayer beads may be used when reciting the 99 full names of Allah. The beads are in sections of 33 and are also used to recite prayers of thanksgiving to Allah for his blessings. The most important "symbol" is the Qur'an, the non-created and incarnate word of God. Muslims worship in a mosque on Friday, the "Day of Gathering", and the holy day of the Muslim week. The mosque consists of a large prayer hall, a mezzanine at the back of the hall set aside for women, a minaret from which the call to prayer is given, a hollow alcove which indicates the direction of Mecca, a preachers pulpit, and an ablutions hall where believers must cleanse themselves before prayer. (1)

Islam has not broken into denominations as has Christianity. However, Islam allows for divergence of opinion, and three major groups have emerged. The Sunnis represent approximately 90 percent of the worldwide community of Muslims. They are the "People of the Sunna", those who follow the "normative" example of the Prophet Muhammad. The Shi'a, a term which originally meant "partisans" or "followers", are those who believe that the proper successor to Muhammad should have been his cousin "Ali". Sunnis and Shi'ites agree on basic elements of doctrine and practice. The disagreement is one of leadership and the role of the Imam, who is a representative of the Prophet appointed by God to continue the Prophet's work. The imam's task is to interpret the inner, spiritual meaning of the Qur'an, as well as its outer, literal meaning. The Sufis are the mystics of Islam. They are not a separate group, but practice their mysticism in addition to the usual observances. Sufi thinkers see spiritual discipline as a way to ultimate enlightenment, but to achieve this enlightenment, it is necessary to die to the self and life entirely to God. (2)

A Reading from Songs of Kabir

THE moon shines in my body, but my blind eyes cannot see it:
The moon is within me, and so is the sun.
The unstruck drum of Eternity is sounded within me; but my deaf ears cannot hear it.
So long as man clamours for the I and the Mind, his works are as naught:
When all love of the I and the Mine is dead, then the work of the Lord is done.
For work has no other aim than the getting of knowledge:
When that comes, then work is put away.

MUSIC - Jennifer Keeney, flute

The Qur'an itself insists on the equality of men and women. Women may keep their own name when they marry and retain the right to independent ownership of her own property, which she may dispose of as she wishes. Although women have the right to inherit property, she only receives one-half portion that a man inherits. This is believed to be fair as she keeps her own wealth that she brings into her marriage, as well as her husband's need for the resources to support h is family. There is no legal hindrance to women seeking a profession or work outside the home. Contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an, many Muslim cultures continue to dominate women. Cultural norms that are not Islamic in origin (the seclusion of women, moral double standards, and customs of dress) as well as more strict interpretation of the Qur'an are used to justify this domination. (2)

A Reading from the Qur'an, Sura 4: Women; 1, 34

l. O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you.

34. Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beads apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

Music - Jennifer Keeney, flute

All Muslims, men as well as women, are expected to dress modestly. This takes many different forms in Muslim societies around the world. Usually this means loose fitting clothing for men with the addition of the veil for women. The veil is a symbol of a woman's inviolability, respectability and modesty. In countries such as Iran, the Sudan, and Afghanistan, wearing the veil is enforced by law. Other countries such as Turkey and Tunisia either prohibit wearing religious clothing in public or fight enforcement of wearing the veil. Women in many Arabian countries have worn the veil for centuries and are completely accustomed to it. The Qur'anic ideal is that women should wear a veil any time they leave their homes. (1)

A Reading from the Qur'an, Sura 24: The Light; 30-31

30. Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do.

31. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brother's sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn until Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.

Music - Jennifer Keeney, flute

The concept of "jihad" or "holy war" is explained by Muslims as being the struggle that takes places within an individuals soul to conquer the temptation to choose evil over good. This is referred to as the "great jihad". The "lesser jihad" is what takes place when the body of Islam itself is under attack. The Qur'an calls Islam the religion of peace, and terrorism is expressly prohibited. The vast majority of Muslims find acts of wholesale destruction and the killing of innocent men, women and children detestable. (2,3)

A Reading from the Qur'an, Sura 60: She Who Is Tested; 5-9

5. Our Lord! Make us not a prey for those who disbelieve, and forgive us, our Lord! Lo! Thou, only Thou, are the Mighty, the Wise.
6. Verily ye have in them a goodly pattern for everyone who looketh to Allah and the Last Day. And whosoever may turn away, lo! still Allah, He is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise.
7. It may be that Allah will ordain love between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. Allah is Mighty and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
8. Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not our from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers.
9. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them - (All) such are wrong-doers.

(1) Chebel, Malek, Symbols of Islam, Assouline Publishing, New York, 2000.
(2) Marston Speight, God is One: The Way of Islam, Friendship Press, New York, 2001
(3) J.A.Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, Darussalam Publishers, Houston, TX 1997.

Music - Jennifer Keeney, flute

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene

1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter., what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7) Now I see you contending against the women like the adversaries.
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.
10) And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach.

Call to Conversation

Closing Music - Jennifer Keeney, flute

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007



Today we will begin a two-week exploration of Islam with the help of the "Peace Village" kit compiled by the Episcopal Diocese. This week, we will explore general information about Islam. Next week, we will study more fully what it means to be Shi'a and Sunni, the role of women in Islamic society, Islamic dress, and the concept of "jihad".


Sura 1. al-Fatihah: The Opening

1. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
2. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
3. The Beneficent, the Merciful.
4. Master of the Day of Judgment,
5. Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
6. Show us the straight path,
7. The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those
who go astray.

About Islam, compiled from various sources as noted.

The religion of Islam is the acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of God which He revealed to H is last prophet, Muhammad. For the Muslim, there is only one, unique, incomparable God. He has no son or partner. God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, the Sovereign, and the Sustainer of everything in the whole universe. Nothing happens that is not His will; He is the All-wise and all knowing. If one wants something from God, he or she can ask God directly, with no need for anyone else to intercede. Islam rejects that God has any human characteristics or is incarnate in any human being. These ideas are blasphemous. Allah is the Arabic word which means God (the one and only true Tod). God is also referred to as Allah in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Muslims believe in the existence of angels, who worship God, obey him, and act only by his command. Among the Angels is Gabriel, who brought the Qur'an to Muhammad. God revealed books to His messengers, among which is the Qu'ran. There have been many prophets and messengers of God, including Adam, Noah, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them), however, His last and final messenger was the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims also believe in the day of Judgment (the Day of Resurrection) as well as in Al-Qadar, which is Divine Predestination. Belief in Divine Predestination, however, does not mean that human beings do not have free will. Human beings are free to choose right or wrong and are responsible for their choices.

The Qur'an is the last revealed word of God and is the primary source of every Muslim's faith and practice. It addresses all subjects of concern to human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, transactions, and law, with the basic theme being the relationship between God and His creatures. The Qur'an provides guidelines and detailed teachings for a just society, proper human conduct, and an equitable economic system. The Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad in Arabic only, so any translation is not the Qur'an or a version of the Qur'an, but only a translation of the meaning of the Qur'an. 1

The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca between 569 and 571. His father died before his birth and his mother shortly after. Muhammad was cared for by his grandfather, but on his death was raised by an uncle. Although illiterate for h is entire life, Muhammad gained a reputation for absolute integrity. 2 At the age of 40, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him with the first of the revelations which came to be known as the Qur'an. The revelations continued for 23 years. Muhammad began to recite the Qur'an and preach the truths taught to him by God, but he and his followers began to be persecuted. God commanded them to emigrate, and this emigration marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Before his death at the age of 63, the majority of the Arabian Peninsula had become Muslim, and within a century, Islam had spread to Spain and China. 1 It is inappropriate to call Muslims "Mohammedan" as this creates a false analogy about the religion of Islam. Unlike Christians, who worship Christ, Muslims do not worship Mohammad.

If not for the spread of Islam, which instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation, many scientific developments would not have taken place. Muslim scientists were responsible for advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Algebra, the Arabic numerals, the the concept of zero were brought to medieval Europe by Muslims. The astrolabe, the quadrant, and navigational maps were developed by Muslims.

Jesus (peace be upon him) is respected and revered by Muslims and is considered one of God's greatest messengers to mankind. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth, and there is a chapter devoted to his mother, Mary. Jesus was born miraculously by the command of God, just as Adam was brought into being without a father or mother. He performed many miracles during his prophetic mission, but was not crucified. God placed the likeness of Jesus on another man, who was crucified in his place, while Jesus was raised up to Him. Muhammad and Jesus did not come to change the belief in one God, but to confirm and renew the messages of the earlier prophets. 1

The Five Pillars of Islam form the framework of a Muslim's life. These Five Pillars are the testimony of faith, prayer, giving support to the needy, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) for those who are able. The Testimony of Faith is "There is no true God but God (Allah) and Muhammad is the Messenger of God". Prayer is performed five times a day; at dawn, noon mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. Giving support to the needy (Zakat) encourages new growth and ones possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for others. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is beneficial to physical health and is a method of spiritual self-purification. The Pilgrimage to Makkah is an obligation for those who are able and includes wearing special simple clothes, circling the Kaaba seven times, as well as asking God for forgiveness. 1

1 I.A. Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, Darussalam, Publishers and Distributors, Houston, TX. 1997.
2 R. Marston Speight, God is One: The Way of Islam, Friendship Press, Cincinnati, OH, 2001.

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene

"Attachment to matter gives rise to passion against nature. Thus trouble arises in the whole body;

This is why I tell you 'Be in harmony. . .' If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature.

Those who have ears, let them hear."

After saying this, the Blessed One greeted them all, saying: "Peace be with you-may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you!"

(Betty Adam, The Magdalene Mystique, Appendix B, Jean-Yves LeLoup translation, pp.134-145)



Sura 35

1. Praise be to Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who appointeth the angels messengers having wings two, three and four. He multiplieth in creation what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things.
2. That which Allah openeth unto mankind of mercy none can withhold it; and that which He withholdeth none can release thereafter. He is the Mighty, the Wise.
3. O mankind! Remember Allah's grace toward you! Is there any creator other than Allah who provideth for you from the sky and the earth? There is no God save Him. Whither then are ye turned?

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Greetings from His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to Buddhist Women:

Converting other people to Buddhism is not my concern. I am interested in how we Buddhists can contribute to human society. The Buddha gave us an example of contentment and tolerance, through serving others unselfishly. I believe that his teachings and example can still contribute to global peace and individual happiness.
The Buddha was born an ordinary person like ourselves. But after observing the suffering of human beings, that they grow old, fall sick and die, he totally renounced the worldly way of life in his determination to find a solution. Having undertaken severe physical penances, he purified and illumined his mind through intense meditation and attained supreme enlightenment. He showed that purifying the mind is not easy. It takes a lot of time and hard work. But this is also true of any human enterprise. You need tremendous willpower and determination right from the start, accepting that there will be many obstacles, and resolving that despite them all you will continue until you have attained your goal.
Moved by a spontaneous concern to help others, the Buddha spent the rest of his life as a homeless monk, sharing his experience with everyone who wished to listen. Both the view of dependent arising and his advise not to harm anyone, but to help whoever you can, emphasize the practice of nonviolence. This remains one of the most potent forces for good in the world today, for nonviolence means to be of service to our fellow beings.
It is the nature of human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity. If we accept that others have a right to peace and happiness equal to our own, do we not have a responsibility to help those in need? All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned, tortured or discriminated against. The question of human rights is so fundamentally important that there should be no difference of views on this.
Our rich diversity of cultures and tradition should help to strengthen fundamental human rights in all communities. Mere tradition can never justify violations of human rights. Thus, discrimination against persons of a different race, against women, and against weaker sections of society may be traditional in some places, but because they are inconsistent with universally recognized human rights, these forms of behavior should change. The universal principle of the equality of all human beings must take precedence.
Whenever Buddhism has taken root in a new land there has always been a certain variation in the style in which it is observed. This evolves over time. The Buddha himself taught different things according to the place, the occasion and the situation of those who were listening to him. What distinguishes the contemporary situation is that almost the entire array of Buddhist traditions that evolved in different lands are now accessible to anyone who is interested. Especially heartening is that Buddhist women are casting off traditional and outmoded restraints and dedicating themselves to implementing and promoting Buddhist practice.
Peaceful living is about trusting those on whom we depend and caring for those who depend on us. Even if only a few individuals try to create mental peace and happiness within themselves and act responsibly and kind-heartedly towards others, they will have a positive influence in their community. As well as being equally capable, women have an equal responsibility to do this.
Remembering the kind influence of my own mother, I pray that women working for inner peace and, through that, peace in the world, may be blessed with success.

--From a message sent by His Holiness to the fourth International Conference of Buddhist Women, held in Ladakh, August 1995. (Reprinted from Sakyadita, the magazine of the International Assoc. of Buddhist Women, Spring, 1996)


About Tibetan Buddhism, compiled from various sources as noted.

Due to the difficulties of gaining access to this mountainous region and the absence of established trade routes, Buddhism did not enter Tibet until the eighth century. The form of Buddhism which flourished there is known variously as Tantra, Vajrayana ("The Vehicle of the Thunderbolt"), or - because of the frequent use it makes of magical formulas and chants - Mantrayana.
The Vajrayana adopts Mahayana philosophy and cosmology and adds a rich symbolism and set of religious practices of its own. The core of the movement is a set of arcane treatises known as Tantras, composed in India in the latter part of the first millennium. The Tantras makes use of mystical diagrams (mandalas) and magic formulas (mantras), and are written in a mysterious 'twilight language' (sandhyabhasa) to which only initiates have the key. Initiation is given by a guru "Tibetan: lama" who then teaches the esoteric meaning of the words and symbols to his students. Based on the view that nirvana and samsaara are not different, the Tantras teach that anything - even desire - can profitably be used as a means to liberation. The passions come to be regarded not as inherently wicked by simply as a powerful form of energy which - rather like electricity - can be used for many purposes. Sexual desire, in particular, formerly regarded as the greatest obstacle to religious progress for monks, came to be seen as a potent force which, if properly harnessed, could accelerate spiritual development.

--from Damien Keown, Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1996), 80-83

Thunderbolt Scepter and Bell

Thunderbolt scepter and bell, Vajra and Ghanta, Dorie and Drilbu, are the most frequently encountered objects on the Diamond Path (Vajrayana). Together they represent both the most ordinary and the most complex symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Whether present in solitary meditation or in the vast gatherings that mark monastic life, their role is essential; without them rites and ceremonies are hardly conceivable.
Unified, they form a symbol which is associated with the incorruptible purity of the diamond, with the truth that no force, no weapon, can destroy. Simultaneously, but in another register, they represent the victory of knowledge over ignorance, the mystery of spirit over the "poisons" that tarnish existence.
The thunderbolt scepter, held in the practitioner's right hand, is a token of stability of the method, while the bell, in his left hand, is a reminder of the wisdom of impermanence. Equilibrium between the two is established through ritual gestures, the mudra. In the hands of the masters of esoteric interpretation, this inseparable pair signifies the unity of masculine power and of feminine energy, or the emblem of the dual unity of absolute and relative truths.

--Claude B. Levenson, Forward by the Dalai Lama, Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism (Barnes & Noble, 2003),48.

The Prayer Wheel

...The khorten, commonly called the 'prayer wheel', is undoubtedly the Buddhist ritual object best known to the profane, as well as being the pilgrim's dearest companion. Another name for it is the chos-kor, which means 'to turn the doctrine' and refers to the first teaching of the Buddha, when he set the Wheel of the Law in motion.
From the smallest to the largest, the prayer wheel always consists of a hollow cylindrical body, usually of metal, engraved with mystic emblems or prayers. It is penetrated along its axis by a rod provided with a handle, if portable, or with two clips if it is fixed to a stand.
Enclosed in the chos-kor are sacred texts or invocations (mantra), written on paper or parchment. The cylinder of the wheel is rotated in the same direction as the sun, and each turn is the equivalent of a reading of the prayers enclosed within. Set in motion, the wheel emits a gentle ticking sound in pace with the walker's rhythm. According to the faithful, this attests to the flight of the prayers thus scattered to the four winds. The portable prayer wheel is fitted with a ball at the end of a small chain fixed midway along the metal body; with a flick of the wrist, the person carrying the wheel sets its twirling rhythm.

--Claude B.Levenson, Forward by the Dalai Lama, Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism(Barnes & Noble,2003),30.

Sacred Mantra: Om Mani Peme Hung

This millennial litany is both the symbol of Buddhist life in Tibet and the expression of a way of being...The Tibetans pronounce it om mani peme hung, and its simplest translation would be 'om jewel of the lotus om'. For the common believer, its incantatory recitation suffices to ensure his spiritual well-being. For the advanced adept, the complexity of the successive layers of meaning of each of the sounds, taken individually or as a whole, unveils the thousand and eight facets of reality - or illusion. The origin of this mantra is associated with Chenresig- Avalokitesvara, the Great Compassionate One. He is the supreme Protector of Tibet, and is incarnated in the Dalai Lama, who thereby remains the spiritual and temporal leader against all
...Om is the body, the speech and the mind of the disciple, at the same time as those of a Buddha: it symbolizes their metamorphosis, or the attainment of Enlightenment. Mani, the Jewel proper, grants all wishes and signifies the supreme goal to which one aspires. Peme, the lotus flower, embodies wisdom, particularly that of the perfect void. And hung expresses the indivisibility, the indissociable unity of method and wisdom.
Roughly speaking, the Great Tibetan Mantra states that the practice of a way, by the inseparable union of wisdom and appropriate means, can serve to transform a common body, speech and mind into the perfectly pure equivalent of a Buddha: a whole program of life based on discipline and reflection, pushed to absolute limits, until the attainment of full Enlightenment.

--Claude B. Levenson, Forward by the Dalai Lama, Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism(Barnes & Noble,2003),34.

The Rosary (Mala)

The Mala is a rosary in the Buddhist manner, one of the essential attributes of the pilgrim and of many deities. It has 108 beads, and is used to recite prayers, but above all, to count the number of repetitions of a particular formula, intoned to a select deity.

The mani happens to enjoy the greatest favor. A widespread practice, which may be individual or collective, is to repeat this mantra a million times, for purification, or to increase one's merits. The exercise also helps to calm and clarify one's thoughts, which is the indispensable preparatory phase for meditation.

--Claude B. Levenson, Forward by the Dalai Lama,Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism(Barnes & Noble,2003),36.

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary (trans. Karen King)

Mary responded, "I will teach you about what is hidden from you." And she began to speak these words to them.

She said,"I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, 'Lord, I saw you today in a vision.' He answered me, 'How wonderful you are for not wavering at seeing me! For where the mind is, there is the treasure.'

"The soul replied, saying,'What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been destroyed, and my desire has been brought to an end, and ignorance has died. In a [wor]ld, I was set loose from a world [an]d in a type, from a type which is above, and (from) the chain of forgetfulness which exists in time. From this hour on, for the time of the due season of the aeon, I will receive rest i[n] silence.'"

After Mary had said these things, she was silent, since it was up to this point that the Savior had spoken to her.

--from Karen King, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle



"There is not a single aspect of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha's teachings which is not contained in Avalokiteshvara's six syllable mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" [Tibetan: Om Mani Peme Hung], and as such the qualities of the "mani" are praised again and again the the Sutras and Tantras...Whether happy or sad, if we take the "mani" as our refuge, Chenrezig will never forsake us, spontaneous devotion will arise in our minds and the Great Vehicle will effortlessly be realized."

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche--Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones


Om Mani Peme Hung

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