Ancient Egyptian Religion Overview

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Ancient Egyptian Religion Overview:

~ The religion of Ancient Egypt lasted for more than 3,000 years, and was polytheistic, meaning there were a multitude of deities, who were believed to reside within and control the forces of nature.

~ Formal religious practice centered on the pharaoh, or ruler, of Egypt, who was believed to be divine, and acted as intermediary between the people and the gods. His role was to sustain the gods so that they could maintain order in the universe.

~ The Egyptian universe centered on Ma’at, which has several meanings in English, including truth, justice and order. It was fixed and eternal; without it the world would fall apart.

~ The most important myth was of Osiris and Isis. The divine ruler Osiris was murdered by Set (god of chaos), then resurrected by his sister and wife Isis to conceive an heir, Horus. Osiris then became the ruler of the dead, while Horus eventually avenged his father and became king.

~ Egyptians were very concerned about the fate of their souls after death. They believed ka (life-force) left the body upon death and needed to be fed. Ba, or personal spirituality, remained in the body. The goal was to unite ka and ba to create akh.

~ Artistic depictions of gods were not literal representations, as their true nature was considered mysterious. However, symbolic imagery was used to indicate this nature.

~ Temples were the state’s method of sustaining the gods, since their physical images were housed and cared for; temples were not a place for the average person to worship.

Certain animals were worshipped and mummified as representatives of gods.

~ Oracles were used by all classes.

Click to Pray

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The Vatican is going high tech (not a joke) only $110:

“Click to Pray eRosary” – wearable smart device to pray the rosary for peace

In the middle of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network launched the “Click To Pray eRosary” at a press conference in the Vatican on October 15. October is also the month of the Rosary.

The “Click to Pray” eRosary can be worn as a bracelet and links to a mobile app that becomes activated when the user makes the sign of the cross. The beads of the bracelet are made of black agate and hematite, and the digital device is in the shape of a cross.

Early Christianity: Christian vs. Pagan

Same era differing world views:

“We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth?”
~ Symmachus, (340-402 AD) Roman Statesman, Orator, and Man of Letters

“That all superstition of pagans and heathens should be annihilated is what God wants, God commands, God proclaims!”
~ St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) Roman African, Early Christian Theologian.

Three Great Minds

It’s interesting that approximately 2500 years ago three men were born who would change the world, in three distinct parts of the world that would have no interaction with each other. Confucius, The Buddha, and Socrates were born within 100 years of each other whose lives would overlap:

Confucius 551-479 B.C.
The sagacious Confucius, Kongzi, or Master Kung (551-479 B.C.) was a social philosopher whose values became dominant in China only after he died. Advocating living virtuously, he put emphasis on socially appropriate behavior.

Buddha c. 563-483 B.C.
Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher of enlightenment who acquired hundreds of followers in India and founded Buddhism. His teachings were preserved orally for centuries before they were transcribed on palm-leaf scrolls. Siddhartha may have been born c. 563 B.C. to Queen Maya and King Suddhodana of the Shakya in ancient Nepal. By the third century B.C. Buddhism appears to have spread to China.

Socrates c. 470-399 B.C.
Socrates, an Athenian contemporary of Pericles (c. 470 – 399 B.C.), is a central figure in Greek philosophy. Socrates is known for the Socratic method (elenchus), Socratic irony, and the pursuit of knowledge. Socrates is famous for saying that he knows nothing and that the unexamined life is not worth living. He is also well known for stirring up sufficient controversy to be sentenced to a death that he had to carry out by drinking a cup of hemlock. Socrates had important students, including the philosopher Plato.

#Confucius #Buddha #Socrates

Book Review: The Eight Gates of Zen

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This volume has had a profound influence upon my life as I keep returning to it over and over again.  After my illness (liver transplant) I had lost a lot of my faith in Zen and was only practicing once in a while.  A received this gift from a friend who had lived at Zen Mountain Monastery for a time.  I placed in my queue of books to read and there it sat for a few month, but I kept having this nagging feeling that reading this volume would have an immediate impact on my life.

I finally read it through in a couple of days and I have never regretted that decision, as a matter of fact it was one of the best decisions I have made.  The book presents an, “accessible introduction to the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism includes a program of study that encompasses practically every aspect of life.”  Soon after I finished reading it I found myself seeking a teacher.  Living in Jacksonville, Florida that task proved difficult as I could not find someone that met my requirements.  I ended up turning to the internet and listening to the dharma talks of Thich Nhat Hanh, John Daido Loori, and others.  This in no way is  a substitute for having a teacher, but it was the best solution available for me.

This small volume has taught me much and when I find my faith wandering I pick it up and read either excerpts or the whole book again.  I recently was going through one of these spells and decided to read the book.  Since completing it I have found myself a sangha, started this website and am rededicated to walking the path.  I have never felt stronger about my beliefs and I owe a debt of gratitude to John Daido Loori and his book.

The program of study developed by John Daido Loori at Zen Mountain Monastery, from their website:

Zazen

Zazen is the cornerstone of Zen training. Za means “sitting.” Zen—which derives from the Sanskritdhyana—means meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. More than just meditation, however, zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its ability to reveal the true basis of reality. Through zazen, we realize the unity of the self with the ten thousand things, which has the potential to transform our lives and those of others.

Study with a Teacher

Zen is an ancestral lineage that traces itself back to Shakyamuni Buddha. Because it relies on the mind-to-mind transmission of its teachings, personal study with an authentic teacher is pivotal to training. Although fundamentally, teachers have nothing to give, they are indispensable in helping students navigate the difficulties we encounter along the way, directly pointing to our original perfection. In dokusan, private interview, students deal with the questions and insights that emerge out of zazen.

Buddhist Study

The founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, said that Zen does not rely on words and letters. However, most western Buddhist practitioners are not familiar with the historical, philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the tradition, so Buddhist Study is critical to establishing a sound religious practice. Though words are not the same as the reality they describe, when used skillfully, they can act as a medium for direct realization.

Liturgy

Liturgy makes visible the invisible, bringing into awareness the shared experience of a group. In theistic religions, liturgy reaffirms our relationship with God. Zen, by contrast, is nontheistic, so its emphasis is on realizing our Buddha nature, or the nature of the self. All of Zen’s rituals point to the intimacy between the self and the ten thousand things. For an introduction to Zen liturgy, see Celebrating Everyday Life by Daido Roshi.

Right Action

Right Action is the study and practice of the Buddhist Precepts, the moral and ethical teachings of the Buddha. Though the Precepts are based on the experience of no-self, they are designed to function in the world of differences. Thus they define how a Buddha lives in the world. See Daido Roshi’s book on the moral and ethical teachings of Zen Buddhism, The Heart of Being.

Art Practice

From its inception, training at Zen Mountain Monastery has taken up both the traditional Zen arts as well as contemporary arts to deeply study the self. Art practice encompasses the entire creative process: artist and tools, the relationships between artist and subject, artist and object, and object and audience. Together, these interactions show us that creativity is an inherent human process. See Daido Roshi’s book The Zen of Creativity.

Body Practice

Our physical body is our vehicle of self-realization, an experience that encompasses our whole being. The search for self-knowledge is often reduced to a purely mental pursuit. Body practice helps us to unify body, breath and mind through activities ranging from refined practices like Tai Chi to mundane activities like washing our face or eating breakfast.

Work Practice

Work Practice is a reminder that our spiritual practice must move off the cushion and translate into the sacred activity of living and working in the world. A daily caretaking period and formal work practice give us the opportunity to explore labor that is nourishing to ourselves and others. Starting with simple, repetitive tasks, and gradually increasing their complexity, we learn to see how our minds respond to the task at hand.

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla cave temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include Vishnu and the Ganesha. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square metres (23,000 sq ft). Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha’s first sermon.

The temple is composed of five caves of varying size and magnificence. The caves, built at the base of a 150m high rock during the Anuradhapura (1st century BC to 993 AD) and Polonnaruwa times (1073 to 1250), are by far the most impressive of the many cave temples found in Sri Lanka. Access is along the gentle slope of the Dambulla Rock, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding flat lands, which includes the rock fortress Sigiriya, 19 km away. Hindu deities are also represented here, as are the kings Valagamba and Nissankamalla, and Ananda – the Buddha’s most devoted disciple.

#GoldenTempleOfDambulla #Buddhism #SriLanka