Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The History of the Buddha's Relic Shrine


The History of the Buddha's Relic Shrine: A Translation of the Sinhala Thupavamsa
Buddhist chronicles have long been had a central place in the study of Buddhism. Scholars, however, have relied almost exclusively on Pali works that were composed by elites for learned audiences, to the neglect of a large number of Buddhist histories written in local languages for popular consumption. The Sinhala Thupavamsa, composed by Parakama Pandita in thirteenth-century Sri Lanka, is an important example of a Buddhist chronicle written in the vernacular Sinhala language. Furthermore, it is among those works that inform public discussion and debate over the place of Buddhism in the Sri Lankan nation state and the role of Buddhist monks in contemporary politics.
In this book Stephen Berkwitz offers the first complete English translation of the Sinhala Thupavamsa. Composed in a literary dialect of Sinhala, it contains a richly descriptive account of how Buddhism spread outside of India, replete with poetic embellishments and interpolations not found in other accounts of those events. Aside from being an important literary work, the Sinhala Thupavamsa. is a text of considerable historical and religious significance.

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Higashi kara (From the East) - Reiko Kimura


Higashi kara (From the East) - Reiko Kimura
This exquisite recording presents five pieces from the repertoire of koto performers in the field known as 'gendai hogaku,' or contemporary music for Japan's traditional instruments. Performers in this field play on the traditional 13-string koto and two of its 20th century variants: the jushichigen ('17 strings', bass koto) and nijugen (literally '20 strings' but now as a rule with 21).

Performers in this field have generally undergone early training in the classical repertoire, but it is very uncommon for them to include pieces from that repertoire in their solo or group recitals. This trend is indicative of a shift in direction, away from the vocal towards the instrumental that is currently shaping the future of new composition for the original and newly-developed versions of Japan's traditional instruments.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

In Search of Wabi Sabi with Marcel Theroux


In Search of Wabi Sabi with Marcel Theroux
British novelist Marcel Theroux is fascinated by Wabi Sabi, a theory of Japanese aesthetics in which imperfection and transience are the touchstone of beauty.

The Japanese say that if you can understand Wabi Sabi, you will understand Japan and the Japanese. Yet at the same time they have immense difficulty in explaining the concept themselves, so Marcel travels across Japan, from Tokyo to Kyoto and then on to the mountains of Fukui, trying to unravel the meaning of this baffling concept that is at the heart of what makes the Japanese tick.

It is a challenging, funny and ultimately moving journey that starts under the bright neon lights and craziness of Tokyo and ends in an austere Zen Temple in the snowy foothills of Japan's eastern mountains.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Man on Cloud Mountain (1992)


The Man on Cloud Mountain : A Video Documentary on Shodo Harada Roshi

Shodo Harada Roshi was born in 1940 in Nara, Japan. He began his Zen training in 1962 when he entered Shofuku-ji monastery in Kobe, Japan, where he trained under Yamada Mumon Roshi (1900-1988) for twenty years. He was then given dharma transmission (inka) and was subsequently made abbot of Sogenji monastery in Okayama, Japan, where he has taught since 1982.
Harada Roshi (Roshi means "teacher") is heir to the teachings of Rinzai sect Zen Buddhism as passed down in Japan from Hakuin and his successors. Harada Roshi's teaching includes the traditional Rinzai practices of daily sutra chanting, zazen (seated meditation), sanzen (private interviews with the teacher), susokkan (breathing), koan ('past cases') study, samu (work), sesshin (intensive retreats), teisho (lectures by the teacher), and takuhatsu (alms receiving). While the outward appearance of this type of training may seem rigorous and spartan to some, it is important to note that Harada's teaching is formed by deep compassion and permeated by the simple and direct Mahayana doctrine that all beings are endowed with the clear, pure Original Buddha Mind. The purpose of our training is to realize this mind in ourselves and in all other beings.

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Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet


Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet
The study of the rise and institutions of the Tibetan empire of the seventh to ninth centuries, and of the continuing development of Tibetan civilization during the obscure period that followed, have aroused growing interest among scholars of Inner Asia in recent decades. The six contributions presented here represent refinements in substance and method characterizing current work in this area. A chapter by Brandon Dotson provides a new perspective on law and divination under the empire, while the post-imperial international relations of the Tsong kha kingdom are analyzed by Bianca Horlemann. In “The History of the Cycle of Birth and Death”, Yoshiro Imaeda’s investigation of a Dunhuang narrative appears in a revised edition, in English for the first time. The problem of oral transmission in relation to the Tibetan Dunhuang texts is then taken up in the contribution of Sam van Schaik. In the final section, Matthew Kapstein and Carmen Meinert consider aspects of Chinese Buddhism in their relation to religious developments in Tibet.

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Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness


Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness
Aldous Huxley called humankind's basic trend toward spiritual growth the "perennial philosophy." According to James Austin, the trend implies a "perennial psychophysiology"--for awakening, or enlightenment, occurs only because the human brain undergoes substantial changes. What are the peak experiences of enlightenment? How could they profoundly enhance, and yet simplify, the workings of the brain? Zen and the Brain summarizes the latest evidence.

The book uses Zen Buddhism as the opening wedge for an extraordinarily wide-ranging exploration of consciousness. In order to understand the brain mechanisms that produce Zen states, one needs some understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the brain. Austin, a neuroscientist and Zen practitioner, interweaves his teachings of the brain with his teachings/personal narrative of Zen. The science, which contains the latest relevant developments in brain research, is both inclusive and rigorous; the Zen sections are clear and evocative. Along the way, Austin covers such topics as similar states in other disciplines and religions, sleep and dreams, mental illness, consciousness-altering drugs, and the social consequences of advanced stages of enlightenment.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Day the Universe Changed (1985)


For the most part this series has nothing to do with Buddhism. However it is a fascinating series that shows how our technology and our mind sets have come into present form. James Burke was truly ahead of the pack with his observations on our world.

The Day the Universe Changed (1985)

The series' primary focus is on the effect of advances in science and technology on western philosophy. The title comes from the philosophical idea that the universe essentially only exists as you perceive it; therefore, if you change your perception of the universe, you have changed the universe itself. To illustrate this idea, James Burke tells the various stories of important scientific discoveries and technological advances and how they fundamentally altered how western civilization perceives the world. The series runs in roughly chronological order, from around the beginning of the Middle Ages to the present.

Full Series

The Day The Universe Changed: "Worlds Without End", 5 of 5 YouTube Clip

The Day The Universe Changed: "Worlds Without End", 4 of 5 YouTube Clip

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Born Again Buddhists - Discovery Channel

Born Again Buddhists - Discovery Channel

Believing that highly-evolved lamas choose to be reborn to lead the rest of us to nirvana, children born at auspicious times are carefully watched for signs of being a reincarnate and are usually identified at a young age by their past-life recall. These people are called tulkus/ reincarnated lamas - the most famous being the Dalai Lama. In the last remaining Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, reincarnation is a very much a way of life. But things have taken a curious turn in recent years. It seems more and more children are claiming to be reincarnates - a situation so worrying, the Bhutanese government has stepped in to oversee the ancient process of identifying reincarnates. Born Again Buddhists unravels the mysteries of this centuries-old Himalayan belief.

Video is in FLV format and contains the commercial breaks as when it originally aired. If you need a video player which handles flash video format, you can use VLC or GOM Player. Both are freeware.

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Various Talks On Being A Monastic










Various Talks On Being A Monastic

Various Buddhist and ecumenical teachers of many lineages discuss what it takes to be a monastic.

These teachers are:
Ajahn Sudanto
Dr. Ananda
W.P. Guruge
Ericka Bryant

Father Alexei Smith
Rev Eko LIttle

Rev Sandra Yarlott
Roshi Wendy Nakao
Venerable Pannyavaro
Venerable Tenzin Kacho

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The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet


The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet
Fawlty Towers meets The Shining in this absorbing tale of business (mis)management. Keen to unravel the mysteries of the East, Alec Le Sueur moves to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to become the marketing manager for a major hotel chain. But what seems like a dream job soon turns into a nightmare as events conspire against him. Rats plague the hotel and infest the air-vents.

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Contexts And Dialogue: Yogacara Buddhism And Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind


Contexts And Dialogue: Yogacara Buddhism And Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind

Are there Buddhist conceptions of the unconscious? If so, are they more Freudian, Jungian, or something else? If not, can Buddhist conceptions be reconciled with the Freudian, Jungian, or other models? These are some of the questions that have motivated modern scholarship to approach alayavijnana, the storehouse consciousness, formulated in Yogâcâra Buddhism as a subliminal reservoir of tendencies, habits, and future possibilities.
Tao Jiang argues convincingly that such questions are inherently problematic because they frame their interpretations of the Buddhist notion largely in terms of responses to modern psychology. He proposes that, if we are to understand alayavijnana properly and compare it with the unconscious responsibly, we need to change the way the questions are posed so that alayavijnana and the unconscious can first be understood within their own contexts and then recontextualized within a dialogical setting. In so doing, certain paradigmatic assumptions embedded in the original frameworks of Buddhist and modern psychological theories are exposed. Jiang brings together Xuan Zang’s alayavijnana and Freud’s and Jung’s unconscious to focus on what the differences are in the thematic concerns of the three theories, why such differences exist in terms of their objectives, and how their methods of theorization contribute to these differences.
Contexts and Dialogue puts forth a fascinating, erudite, and carefully argued presentation of the subliminal mind. It proposes a new paradigm in comparative philosophy that examines the what, why, and how in navigating the similarities and differences of philosophical systems through contextualization and recontextualization.

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Touching the Eternal - Eckhart Tolle


Touching the Eternal - Eckhart Tolle
Through the centuries countless people from around the world have been coming to India, thirsty in their search for truth. Considered to be the birthplace of spirituality, India has produced more great mystics and spiritual teachers than any other country. What more fitting place for Eckhart to speak of the eternal Now? It is here on the banks of the holy Ganga, amidst the snow-capped Himalayas and the tremendous beauty of scarlet sunsets that a group of determined souls from around the globe met to sit together in silence. With Eckhart’s guidance, the rigors of living in India served as teachers pointing to the release of attachment to form and to seeing deeper into the inner. Join them in this transformational experience and allow yourself to be guided through words and stillness into the state of presence. This is the surrendered state of consciousness in which the very limitations of form become an opening into the divine. During this seven day retreat Eckhart speaks with humble authenticity, wisdom and humor on a wide range of subjects.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nagarjuna's Madhymaka: A Philosophical Introduction


Nagarjuna's Madhymaka: A Philosophical Introduction
The Indian philosopher Acarya Nagarjuna the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mahayana Buddhism and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Buddha himself. Indeed, in the Tibetan and East Asian traditions, Nagarjuna is often referred to as the "second Buddha."
This book presents a survey of the whole of Nagarjuna's philosophy based on his key philosophical writings. His primary contribution to Buddhist thought lies in the further development of the concept of sunyata or "emptiness." For Nagarjuna, all phenomena are without any svabhava, literally "own-nature" or "self-nature," and thus without any underlying substance. Particular emphasis is put on discussing Nagarjuna's thinking as philosophy. The present discussion shows how his thoughts on metaphysics, epistemology, the self, language, and truth present a unified theory of reality with considerable systematic appeal.
Jan Westerhoff offers a systematic account of Nagarjuna's philosophical position. He reads Nagarjuna in his own philosophical context, but he does not hesitate to show that the issues of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy have at least family resemblances to issues in European philosophy. This fascinating and much-needed analysis of one of India's most important philosophers is sure to interest and enlighten students of Buddhism and the European tradition alike.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Meditator's Atlas: A Roadmap to the Inner World


Gassho to Lóránt for this book.

Meditator's Atlas: A Roadmap to the Inner World
The Meditator's Atlas truly is a comprehensive and trustworthy "roadmap of the inner world" for anyone who meditates. What makes this book unique is the way Flickstein uses two classic Buddhist texts - the Path of Purification, and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness-to help readers make clear sense out of the new, fascinating, and often challenging states that one may encounter on the long journey to enlightenment. Readers will come away from this book with their own insights clarified and with a helpful sense of what lies ahead. The Meditator's Atlas will also appeal to "spiritual sightseers" - those who just want to enjoy a guided tour of the compelling inner territory of meditation.

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Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka

Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka
Historical, anthropological, and philosophical in approach, Buddha in the Crown is a case study in religious and cultural change. It examines the various ways in which Avalokitesvara, the most well known and proliferated bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism throughout south, southeast, and east Asia, was assimilated into the transforming religious culture of Sri Lanka, one of the most pluralistic in Asia. Exploring the expressions of the bodhisattva's cult in Sanskrit and Sinhala literature, in iconography, epigraphy, ritual, symbol, and myth, the author develops a provocative thesis regarding the dynamics of religious change. Interdisciplinary in scope, addressing a wide variety of issues relating to Buddhist thought and practice, and providing new and original information on the rich cultural history of Sri Lanka, this book will interest students of Buddhism and South Asia.

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urning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism


Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism
Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism is the first book-length study of the theory and practice of "abandoning the body"(self-immolation) in Chinese Buddhism. Although largely ignored by conventional scholarship, the acts of self-immolators (which included not only burning the body, but also being devoured by wild animals, drowning oneself, and self-mummification, among others) form an enduring part of the religious tradition and provide a new perspective on the multifarious dimensions of Buddhist practice in China from the early medieval period to the present time. This book examines the hagiographical accounts of all those who made offerings of their own bodies and places them in historical, social, cultural, and doctrinal context.

Rather than privilege the doctrinal and exegetical interpretations of the tradition, which assume the central importance of the mind and its cultivation, James Benn focuses on the ways in which the heroic ideals of the bodhisattva present in scriptural materials such as the Lotus Sutra played out in the realm of religious practice on the ground. His investigation leads him beyond traditional boundaries between Buddhist studies and sinology and draws on a wide range of canonical, historical, and polemical sources, many of them translated and analyzed for the first time in any language. Focusing on an aspect of religious practice that was seen as both extreme and heroic, Benn brings to the surface a number of deep and unresolved tensions within the religion itself and reveals some hitherto unsuspected aspects of the constantly shifting negotiations between the Buddhist community and the state.

Self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism was controversial, and Burning for the Buddha gives weight to the criticism and defense of the practice both within the Buddhist tradition and without. It places self-immolation in the context of Chinese Mahayana thought and explores its multiple religious, social, and historical roles. These new perspectives on an important mode of Buddhist practice as it was experienced and recorded in traditional China contribute to not only the study of Buddhism, but also the study of religion and the body.

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Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra


Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra
Despite popular and scholarly perceptions of Magadha in northeastern India (modern Bihar) as the center of Indian Buddhism, the essays in this volume collectively make a strong case that the Buddhism of the Krishna River Valley in southeastern India (modern Andhra Pradesh) likewise played a pivotal role in the rise and development of the religion, and profoundly impacted subsequent Buddhist traditions, not only in India and the Indian subcontinent but throughout Southeast and East Asia as well. We are particularly interested in this theme, not only because one of us is originally from Andhra, grew up in the shadow of many of its famous archaeological sites and had an opportunity to study them as a part of pursuing academic degrees, but also because Buddhism in this region has been largely neglected within the scholarship to date. The impetus for this volume also stems from conversations between the editors about the present revival in interest about Buddhism now taking place in Andhra Pradesh among archaeologists, historians, politicians, and the general public. During our conversations, we also realized how a number of our own friends from various disciplines in the scholarly community, archaeologists, art historians, epigraphists, historians of religion, and philosophers, shared interests with us in the significance of Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley. We invited some of these colleagues to participate in panels at the meetings of Association for Asian.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966 - Robert J. Topmiller

The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966 - Robert J. Topmiller

During the Vietnam war, Vietnamese peace activists made extraordinary sacrifices, including self-immolation - to try to end the fighting. This is the first study in English of this vitally important mass movement.

Topmiller examines the Buddhist objections to the war that ultimately led to the Buddhist Crisis of 1966. In one of the first in-depth discussions of an indigenous South Vietnamese peace movement, Topmiller explores the Buddhist led agitation aimed at installing a civilian government through free elections as part of a larger effort to end the fighting in South Vietnam. Based on extensive research and interviews with many participants, the Lotus Unleashed highlights the intense importance of Buddhist efforts, making clear the impact of Vietnamese internal politics on U.S. decision making and the missed opportunities for peace caused by Washington's indifference toward South Vietnamese opinions on the war.

"Tells the story of how the Buddhist inspired Struggle Movement sought to challenge the legitimacy of the government of south Vietnam in the middle years of the 1960s." Contemporary Buddhism.

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The Mantram Handbook: A Practical Guide to Choosing Your Mantram and Calming Your Mind - Eknath Easwaran

The Mantram Handbook: A Practical Guide to Choosing Your Mantram and Calming Your Mind - Eknath Easwaran

The mantram, or mantra, is a short, powerful, spiritual formula from the world’s great traditions, repeated silently in the mind, anytime, anywhere. Examples of mantrams are Rama, Rama, used by Gandhi, or My God and My All, repeated by St. Francis of Assisi, or Om Mane Padme Hum. Easwaran taught the use of the mantram for over forty years as part of his passage meditation program. He explains how the mantram works, and gives practical guidelines for using it to focus our thoughts and access deeper resources of strength, patience, and love. The mantram can help us replenish our energy, release creativity, and heal old conflicts. These resonant phrases work equally well for parents with young children, colleagues at work, couples in a relationship, in illness or depression, and even at the time of death. And Easwaran shows how repetition of the mantram can open the door to a life that is increasingly meaningful and fulfilling.

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Zen Sex: The Way of Making Love


Zen Sex: The Way of Making Love
Zen philosophy teaches that everything from washing dishes to sitting at the computer offers an opportunity to experience the essence of life and attain true wisdom and enlightenment. Zen Sex shows how this philosophy applies no less in the bedroom that in the meditation hall. In the first book to bring together Zen and sex, readers are guided through 'The Seven Ways of the Mind', 'The Seven Ways of the Body', and 'The Seven Ways of the Spirit'. Zen stories and simple steps show both men and women how to create loving relationships, and easy-to-do practices will enable lovers to enhance their sexual and spiritual lives. Philip Roshio Sudo reminds our sex-obsessed age how love-making can become a means to experience the sacredness of life and one another, and how 'Zen Sex is the best sex you can possibly have'.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Philosopher, Practitioner, Politician: the Many Lives of Fazang (643-712)


Philosopher, Practitioner, Politician: the Many Lives of Fazang (643-712)
The Buddhist monk Fazang (643-712), regarded today mainly as a scholastic monk, was in fact one of the greatest metaphysicians in Asia. This biographical - and hagiographical - study of Fazang seeks to explore his other contributions and in so doing to correct some major mis-presentations and misinterpretations existing in modern scholarship. It highlights and uncovers aspects of Fazang’s complicated life which have been neglected or ignored until now.
By experimenting with some methodological innovations in reading medieval Chinese monastic hagio-biography, this study reveals general features, structures and overall governing laws of medieval East Asian monastic hagio-biographic literature. In doing so it is a major contribution to the ongoing discussion among scholars of hagiography in other contexts as well.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Selfless Insight: Zen and the Meditative Transformations of Consciousness


Selfless Insight: Zen and the Meditative Transformations of Consciousness
When neurology researcher James Austin began Zen training, he found that his medical education was inadequate. During the past three decades, he has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. Now, in Selfless Insight, Austin arrives at a fresh synthesis, one that invokes the latest brain research to explain the basis for meditative states and clarifies what Zen awakening implies for our understanding of consciousness.

Austin, author of the widely read Zen and the Brain, reminds us why Zen meditation is not only mindfully attentive but evolves to become increasingly selfless and intuitive. Meditators are gradually learning how to replace over-emotionality with calm, clear, objective comprehension.

In this new book, Austin discusses how meditation trains our attention, reprogramming it toward subtle forms of awareness that are more openly mindful. He explains how our maladaptive notions of self are rooted in interactive brain functions. And he describes how, after the extraordinary, deep states of kensho-satori strike off the roots of the self, a flash of transforming insight-wisdom leads toward ways of living more harmoniously and selflessly.

Selfless Insight is the capstone to Austin's journey both as a creative neuroscientist and as a Zen practitioner. His quest has spanned an era of unprecedented progress in brain research and has helped define the exciting new field of contemplative neuroscience.

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Mirror of Wisdom: Teachings on Emptiness - Tsultim Gyeltsen

Mirror of Wisdom: Teachings on Emptiness - Tsultim Gyeltsen

In this book, Venerable Geshe Gyelsten does indeed help us establish a correct view of emptiness, the ultimate mode of being of all phenomena, which we have to do if we are ever to escape from our beginningless suffering and find the perfect peace and happiness we seek. Basing his explanation of emptiness on The Heart Sutra, the essence of the Buddha's perfection of wisdom teachings, and the emptiness section of a classic Tibetan thought transformation text, Namkha Pel's Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun, Geshe-la compassionately helps us cut through our inability to see reality and sets us firmly on the path to liberation and enlightenment.

Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, a leading Tibetan lama, human rights activist and founder of a Buddhist center in Long Beach, California, passed away Feb. 13, 2009, at the age of 85 following a brief illness. Gyeltsen died at his home at the Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist center, which he founded in 1978, two decades after he fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

A member of the same Buddhist sect as the Dalai Lama, Gyeltsen was known for his traditional approach to Buddhist teaching, He was one of a dwindling number of Tibetan-born teachers who followed the Dalai Lama into exile 50 years ago. Geshe Gyelsten was one of the teachers who brought Buddhism to the West.

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Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun


Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun
Orgyan Chokyi (1675-1729) spent her life in Dolpo, the highest inhabited region of the Nepal Himalayas. Illiterate and expressly forbidden by her master to write her own life story, Orgyan Chokyi received divine inspiration to compose one of the most forthright and engaging spiritual autobiographies of the Tibetan literary tradition. Her life story is the oldest of only four Tibetan autobiographies authored by women. It is also a rare example of writing by a pre-modern Buddhist woman, and thus holds a unique place in Buddhist literature as a whole. Translator Kurtis Schaeffer prefaces the text with an illuminating study of the life and times of Orgyan Chokyi and an extended analysis of the hermitess's view of the relation between gender, suffering, and liberation. Based almost entirely on primary Tibetan documents never before translated, this fascinating book will be of interest to those studying Buddhism, gender and religion, and the culture of the Tibetan world.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

In Search of Myths and Heroes: The Search for Shangri-la


In Search of Myths and Heroes: The Search for Shangri-la - BBC - Michael Wood

Over the last twenty years, Michael Wood has captivated readers and viewers alike with his romantic journeys into the past from In Search of the Trojan Wars to his epic journeys in In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and The Conquistadors.

In this compelling TV series, In Search of Myths and Heroes, Michael goes in search of four of our most powerful myths, one of which is Shangri-la.

The Search for Shangri-la

Wood's search for Shangri-La takes him on a thrilling trek through India, Nepal and Tibet. The tale of the magical hidden valley of Shangri-La was popularized in the 1930s by James Hilton in his novel, Lost Horizon. But, the story of a lost kingdom behind the Himalayas free from war and suffering is descended from a much older Indian myth. When Europeans first caught wind of the tale back in the 16th Century, they set about trying to discover it.

To find the truth behind the legend, Michael follows their track on foot through the Maoist controlled lands of Western Nepal and then on into Tibet. On the way he visits Mount Kailash — the sacred center of the world for all Hindus and Buddhists. Eventually, after hundreds of miles on dirt roads, he reaches the fantastic ruins of the lost city of Tsaparang, which he suggests is the real inspiration behind the myth. "One of the oldest myths of humanity, the paradise myth continues to haunt us today, especially in our time of rapid globalization," Wood concludes. "Whether such a paradise actually existed or not, it represents one of our most basic human desires."

The present Dalai Lama says this about Shambhala:

Nowadays, no one knows where Shambala is. Although it is said to exist, people cannot see it, or communicate with it in an ordinary way. Some people say it is located in another world, others that it is an ideal land, a place of the imagination. Some say it was a real place, which cannot now be found. Some believe there are openings into that world which may be accessed from this. Whatever the truth of that, the search for Shambala traditionally begins as an outer journey that becomes a journey of inner exploration and discovery.

Thanks to mytvblog for the links.

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The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama - Melvyn C. Goldstein


The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama -
Melvyn C. Goldstein
Tensions over the "Tibet Question"--the political status of Tibet--are escalating every day. The Dalai Lama has gained broad international sympathy in his appeals for autonomy from China, yet the Chinese government maintains a hard-line position against it. What is the history of the conflict? Can the two sides come to an acceptable compromise? In this thoughtful analysis, distinguished professor and longtime Tibet analyst Melvyn C. Goldstein presents a balanced and accessible view of the conflict and a proposal for the future.
Tibet's political fortunes have undergone numerous vicissitudes since the fifth Dalai Lama first ascended to political power in Tibet in 1642. In this century, a forty-year period of de facto independence following the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 ended abruptly when the Chinese Communists forcibly incorporated Tibet into their new state and began the series of changes that destroyed much of Tibet's traditional social, cultural, and economic system. After the death of Mao in 1976, the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping quickly produced a change in attitude in Beijing and a major initiative to negotiate with the Dalai Lama to solve the conflict. This failed. With the death of Deng Xiaoping, the future of Tibet is more uncertain than ever, and Goldstein argues that the conflict could easily erupt into violence.
Drawing upon his deep knowledge of the Tibetan culture and people, Goldstein takes us through the history of Tibet, concentrating on the political and cultural negotiations over the status of Tibet from the turn of the century to the present. He describes the role of Tibet in Chinese politics, the feeble and conflicting responses of foreign governments, overtures and rebuffs on both sides, and the nationalistic emotions that are inextricably entwined in the political debate. Ultimately, he presents a plan for a reasoned compromise, identifying key aspects of the conflict and appealing to the United States to play an active diplomatic role. Clearly written and carefully argued, this book will become the definitive source for anyone seeking an understanding of the Tibet Question during this dangerous turning point in its turbulent history.

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The Shaolin Way: 10 Modern Secrets of Survival from a Shaolin Grandmaster - Steve DeMasco, Alli Joseph


The Shaolin Way: 10 Modern Secrets of Survival from a Shaolin Grandmaster - Steve DeMasco, Alli Joseph
Part inspirational memoir, part no-holds-barred survival guide, THE SHAOLIN WAY is the culminated learning of Steve DeMasco. The Shaolin Fighting Monks were born nearly 2,500 years ago in an ancient Buddhist temple in China. Simple farmers and worshipers who were constantly preyed upon by bandits and underhanded rulers, they developed a martial arts style to protect themselves, as well as a philosophy about life and living that still revered to this day. In THE SHAOLIN WAY, Steve uses inspirational stories from his own life to illustrate 10 important principles of individual growth - like getting rid of Ego, Learning to lose Control, not being a Victim and the power of Self-Worth - to prove that everyday people can overcome their own demons - not with fancy kung-fu kicks, but with the mindset of the ancient Shaolin Fighting Monks, who strive for enlightenment every day, and who have become an inspiration throughout the world. Steve DeMasco has since gone on to become a successful lecturer, writer, and instructor. His passion and enthusiasm is unparalleled. He speaks to rape victims, kids in colleges and schools and has throughout his career received accolades and great quotes from everyone he's come into contact with, including former President Bill Clinton.

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Confucianism: A Short Introduction


Confucianism: A Short Introduction
Confucius, one of the most brilliant thinkers in Chinese history, still influences many in the Far East through his writings today. But what is Confucianism, what are its principles, and how did it come to be such an enormously popular philosophy for so many? Confucianism: A Short Introduction answers these and other key questions in a clear, concise manner. Portraying the tradition as seen by Confucian followers, author John Berthrong provides a balanced view of the philosopher and his impact on Chinese life, from families to the imperial state. Capturing the rich complexity of a Confucian lifestyle while addressing key areas, Confucianism: A Short Introduction is a thorough guide to this honored tradition.


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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Experiencing Peace in a War-Torn World - Thich Nhat Hanh


Experiencing Peace in a War-Torn World - Thich Nhat Hanh
World-renowned Vietnamese-born Buddhist teacher, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh talks with Vishakha N. Desai, President, Asia Society, about his controversial and distinguished life as a Buddhist and a voice for peace from the days of the Vietnam War to the ongoing conflicts of the 21st century. Hanh is author of the national bestseller Peace Is Every Step and his new book is The Art of Power. - Asia Society

Presented 10-10-07, Asian Society, New York, NY

The inseparability of spirituality and politics has been brought front-stage by peace advocates such as the Dali Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Quakers and many others. Spiritual practitioners can no longer fantasize about enlightenment while avoiding the cries of the world for help. Thich Nhat Hanh, offers stark, gentle wisdom for living in a world of anger and violence.

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Mourning the Unborn Dead A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America - Jeff Wilson


Mourning the Unborn Dead A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America - Jeff Wilson
Many Western visitors to Japan have been struck by the numerous cemeteries for aborted fetuses, which are characterized by throngs of images of the Bodhisattva Jizo, usually dressed in red baby aprons or other baby garments, and each dedicated to an individual fetus. Abortion is common in Japan and as a consequence one of the frequently performed rituals in Japanese Buddhism is mizuko-kuyo, a ceremony for aborted and miscarried fetuses. Over the past forty years, mizuko-kuyo has gradually come to America, where it has been appropriated by non-Buddhists as well as Buddhist practitioners.

In this book, Jeff Wilson examines how and why Americans of different backgrounds have brought knowledge and performance of this Japanese ceremony to the United States. Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork in Japan and the U.S., as well as the literature in both Japanese and English, Wilson shows that the meaning and purpose of the ritual have changed greatly in the American context. In Japan, mizuko-kuyo is performed to placate the potentially dangerous spirit of the angry fetus. In America, however, it has come to be seen as a way for the mother to mourn and receive solace for her loss. Many American women who learn about mizuko-kuyo are struck by the lack of such a ceremony and see it as filling a very important need. Ceremonies are now performed even for losses that took place many years ago. Wilson's well-written study not only contributes to the growing literature on American Buddhism, but sheds light on a range of significant issues in Buddhist studies, interreligious contact, women's studies, and even bioethics.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Zen, The Eternal Now - Alan Watts


Zen, The Eternal Now - Alan Watts
Best known as an interpreter of Eastern wisdom (specifically Zen Buddhism) for the contemporary West, Alan Wilson Watts was born in Britain on 6 January 1915. While training to become an Anglican priest in Canterbury, he discovered Buddhism from London Bookstores. He worked with D.T. Suzuki and The Buddhist Lodge, becoming editor of their quarterly, The Middle Way. He published his first book, "The Spirit of Zen" in 1935 (revised in 1968). In 1938, he married Eleanor Everett and moved to New York.

He wrote and published several books, then enrolled in Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Illinois; he was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1944. In 1950, he left the priesthood and his first wife, moving to New York with Dorothy Dewitt. In January 1951, he and his new wife moved to California, to a job teaching at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. He was soon invited to speak on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley. He published "The Way of Zen" in 1957, which immediately became a best-seller. Radio syndication and the N.E.T. tv series, "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life" greatly increased his renown. He later received an honorary doctorate of divinity.

Thru his books, tape recordings, radio, television, and public lectures, he developed an audience of millions, in effect becoming an unintentional spokesman for the counterculture movement.

Alan Watts died in his sleep on 16 November 1973, at home aboard the old ferryboat 'Vallejo', in San Francisco Bay; he is survived by his wife and seven children. In recent times, son Mark has compiled and edited many books based on his father's lectures and essays.

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Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan - Sarah J. Horton


Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan - Sarah J. Horton
Large numbers of Buddhist believers regarded Buddhist statues in surprising ways in late- tenth and early eleventh century Japan. Examination of such questions of functionality contributes to a broader view of Buddhist practice at a time when Buddhism was rapidly spreading among many levels of Japanese society. This book focuses particularly on the function of the following types of images: “secret Buddhas” (hibutsu), which are rarely if ever displayed; Buddhas who exchange bodies with sufferers (migawari butsu); and masks of bodhisattvas used in a ritual called mukaeko. Primary sources for these topics include collections of popular tales (setsuwa), poetry, ritual texts, and temple histories (engi).

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The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion and the Chinese Martial Arts - Meir Shahar


The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion and the Chinese Martial Arts - Meir Shahar
"The Shaolin Monastery" charts, for the first time in any language, the history of the Shaolin Temple and the evolution of its world-renowned martial arts. In this meticulously researched and eminently readable study, Meir Shahar considers the economic, political, and religious factors that led Shaolin monks to disregard the Buddhist prohibition against violence and instead create fighting techniques that by the twenty-first century have spread throughout the world. He reveals the intimate connection between monastic violence and the veneration of the violent divinities of Buddhism and analyzes the Shaolin association of martial discipline and the search for spiritual enlightenment.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Cloudless Sky the Mahamudra Path of the Tibetan Kagyu Buddhist School - Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

Cloudless Sky the Mahamudra Path of the Tibetan Kagyu Buddhist School - Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

This book opens the way to a deeper knowledge of mahamudra, a Buddhist system of meditation on the nature of the mind. In providing a detailed commentary on the Vajra Song of the first Jamgön Kongtrül (1813–1899), the author elucidates the stages of ground, path, and fruition for those who wish to meditate according to this system.

"In the purity of its vision, it can be a door that opens, even for a moment, onto the meaning of ground, path, and fruition. . . . Cloudless Sky is perhaps most valuable as part of Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche's transmission, a way for him to continue to function as guide and spiritual friend."—Tricycle

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The Taoist I Ching - Liu I-ming (translated by Thomas Cleary)

The Taoist I Ching - Liu I-ming (translated by Thomas Cleary)

The I Ching, or "Book of Change," is considered the oldest of the Chinese classics and has throughout history commanded unsurpassed prestige and popularity. Containing several layers of text and given numerous levels of interpretation, it has captured continuous attention for well over two thousand years. It has been considered a book of fundamental principles by philosophers, politicians, mystics, alchemists, yogins, diviners, sorcerers, and more recently by scientists and mathematicians.

This first part of the present volume is the text of the I Ching proper—the sixty-four hexagrams plus sayings on the hexagrams and their lines—with the commentary composed by Liu I-ming, a Taoist adept, in 1796. The second part is Liu I-ming's commentary on the two sections added to the I Ching by earlier commentators, believed to be members of the original Confucian school; these two sections are known as the Overall Images and the Mixed Hexagrams. In total, the book illuminates the Taoist inner teachings as practiced in the School of Complete Reality.

Well versed in Buddhism and Confucianism as well as Taoism, Liu I-ming intended his work to be read as a guide to comprehensive self-realization while living an ordinary life in the world. In his attempt to lift the veil of mystery from the esoteric language of the I Ching, he employs the terminology of psychology, sociology, history, myth, and religion. This commentary on the I Ching stands as a major contribution to the elucidation of Chinese spiritual genius.

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Venerable Ajaan Khao Analayo: A True Spiritual Warrior - Maha Boowa Nanasampanno

Venerable Ajaan Khao Analayo: A True Spiritual Warrior - Maha Boowa Nanasampanno (translated by Ajaan Pannavaddho)

A biography of the Thai master Ajahn Khao Analayo and his path of practice and teachings.

Includes: Stepping Forth, Entering the Dhutanga Path, a Special Affinity for Elephants, Ajahn Mun's Ascetic Path, Dhamma Principles in the Heart, the Dhamma Remedy, Locked in Spiritual Combat, the Completely Pure Citta, Return to the Northeast, Visions of Ajahn Mun, Living with Tigers, Cave of the Midday Drum, Master Hunter Boon Nah, Pure Moral Virtues, Benefiting the World, the Burden of the Khandhas, and the Great Kilesa Family.

From inside of book: Dhamma should not be sold like goods in the market place. Permission to reproduce this publication in any way for free distribution, as a gift of Dhamma, is hereby granted and no further permission need be obtained. Reproduction in any way for commercial gain is strictly prohibited.

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Zen Miracles: Finding Peace in an Insane World - Brenda Shoshanna


Zen Miracles: Finding Peace in an Insane World - Brenda Shoshanna
It's virtually axiomatic now that America has its own brand of Zen Buddhism, and the author of this skilled volume proves the point. Shoshanna is a Hasidic Jew who has been both practicing zazen and maintaining a psychotherapy practice for more than 25 years. Here she weaves a fine tapestry out of these splendid, assorted threads. Five sections ("Getting Started," "Cravings and Compulsions," "Letting Go," Dissolving the False Self" and "Zen, God and Enlightenment") use traditional Buddhist and contemporary American stories and quotes and lucid prose to invite anyone and everyone down Zen's calming, clarifying garden path. These forms are supplemented by both provocative koans and "Zen in Action" exercises at the conclusion of each of the 18 short chapters. The last chapter, "Zen and God," might well have been placed first, since it elucidates the neutrality of Zen that can make it completely compatible with other institutionalized or personalized beliefs. This book has less to do with the mechanics of sitting and more to do with the realities of integrating Zen practice into real life. Shoshanna extends an empty and richly filled hand, offering both the sublime and the practical, which are one and the same in the Zen world. This is a highly recommended volume for beginners and new practitioners who are coming to the truth that "to find the answers to your life questions, you must look within. Nothing less will do. Nothing more is needed

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The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation, and Memory - Matthew T. Kapstein


The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation, and Memory - Matthew T. Kapstein

This book explores the Buddhist role in the formation of Tibetan religious thought and identity. In three major sections, the author examines Tibet's eighth-century conversion, sources of dispute within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and the continuing revelation of the teaching in both doctrine and myth.

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The Secret Swami - Sai Baba


The Secret Swami - Sai Baba

It has been estimated that Sri Satya Sai Baba, India's biggest spiritual leader, has up to 30 million devotees around the world. But increasing numbers of former followers are alleging he has sexually abused them or their families. This World investigates. Swamis, otherwise known as yogis or gurus, are the holy men of India, and part of ancient tradition. Sai Baba, 78, is based in Puttaparthi, near Bangalore in southern India. His distinctive 1960s orange robes and Afro hairstyle make him instantly recognisable. As the country's biggest "God-man" - a human being who declares himself divine - he professes to be the reincarnation of a Hindu God-man from the 19th Century.

Sai Baba not only commands huge regular audiences at the local ashram (religious retreat) - where he performs countless "miracles" - he also boasts followers from more than 165 countries world-wide. But as the This World team discovers as they travel from India to California, there are a number of former devotees who have turned away from his teachings, claiming he has ruined their lives. Alaya, a former follower who claims he was sexually abused by the swami, says in the programme: "I remember him saying, if you don't do what I say, your life will be filled with pain and suffering." In an intimate and powerful portrait, Alaya's family talks openly about how they feel they were betrayed. Back in India, there are serious questions to be asked of politicians, who seem to have continuously ignored the problem. Indeed, some would say, the correct position for these politicians appears to be at the feet of Sai Baba. He certainly has friends in high places, and throughout the scandal, his popularity has remained intact. Has this "God-man" been wrongly accused or does his status mean he is immune to criticism?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Spiritual Biography - Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera


A Spiritual Biography - Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera
"Acariya Mun’s life epitomized the Buddhist ideal of the wandering monk intent on renunciation and solitude, walking alone through forests and mountains in search of secluded places that offer body and mind a calm, quiet environment in which to practice meditation for the purpose of transcending all suffering..."


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Masterpieces of the East - BBC

Masterpieces of the East - BBC

A new series revealing the stories behind iconic artefacts from the Indian Subcontinent. Only episodes 2 (The Great Stupa Sculptures) and 6 (The Tara Statue) which relate to Buddhism are posted. Thanks to Dan for the links.

The Great Stupa Sculptures

The 2000-year-old sculptures from Amaravati are among the greatest treasures at the British Museum. Depicting Buddhist themes and events in the life of the Buddha, they once embellished the Great Stupa at Amaravati, one of the most important religious sites of ancient India. From golden age, to ruin, to the rediscovery of its relics, this film tells the history of this once breathtaking monument. It explains, too, the iconography and symbolism of some of its finest surviving sculptures and explores and celebrates the artistic traditions and extraordinary craftsmanship that lie behind them.

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The Tara Statue

Almost life size and made of solid gilded bronze, the statue of the goddess Tara in the British Museum collection is one of the finest examples of South Asian art. She is a figure of exceptional beauty and undeniably sensuous, but her form is also sacred and her aura spiritual. Created as an object of worship, to inspire devotees of Buddhism, she was made some 1200 years ago in Sri Lanka. Her eyes and elaborately arranged hair were doubtless once inlaid with previous stones. This film drawstogether her story, examining her origins and how such a masterpiece was crafted, her original divine function, her discovery and her identity today as a cultural icon in a world museum.

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Chants in Honor of Manjusri - by His Holiness Sakya Trizin

Chants in Honor of Manjusri - by His Holiness Sakya Trizin

This is the first religious album in the world that chiefly records the mantra chanting of Sakya Trizin-one of the Dharma-lords of Tibetan Buddhism, along with his meditation and playing of religious musical instruments. With the theme of Manjusri Bodhisattva, characteristic of Mercy and Wisdom, the gifted Chinese producer and musicians aim to awaken the deepest love and enlightenment of your heart with the work. Feel loved. Feel protected and evolved in Sakya Trizin`s presence!

1. Invocation for Manjusri (Chanted by His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
2. Praise to Manjusri I: Elixir Rain
3. Invocation for Lam-Jrey Lama`s Lineage (chanted by His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
4. Praise to Manjusri II: Yang-Jhen. Samadhi
5. Praise to Manjusri`s Wisdom (chanted by His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
6. Praise to Manjusri III: Praying for My Love
7. Praise to Auspicious Three Treasures /Gun-Chog-Sum Gyi Jrah-Xi
8. Heart Mantra of Manjusri (chanted by His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
9. Pur-Bar Rig-Jzin-Gul: Putting an end to calamity and delusions (chanted by His Holiness Sakya Trizin) 10. In Honor of Manjusri IV: Compassion & Wisdom
11. In Honor of His Holiness Sakya Trizin (for His Holiness Sakya Trizin)
12. In Honor of Manjusri V: Paramidha-To the Other Shore

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Voice From Tara - Kelsang Chukie Tethong

Voice From Tara - Kelsang Chukie Tethong

Considered the finest Tibetan folk singer of her generation, Chukie Tethong spent 11 years at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharmsala, India, learning songs and technique from elders who once sang freely in Tibet, before the Chinese invasion in 1959 - including the late, legendary singing master Lhutsa and Majlhama.

She formed the group Gang Chenpa with her sister Namgyal Lhamo and the itinerant singer Tobden Tyamtso, who they met during the filming of Seven Years In Tibet. Their music appears extensively in the film and that collaboration cemented a commitment to preserve the vitality of true Tibetan folk music - love songs, mountain songs, songs that people used to sing while working in the field or in their workshops...a song tradition that is vanishing from their exiled culture, and from the world.

On this solo album, Chukie's gentle voice relaxes, enveloping the listener with a Tara-like loving and endless kindness.

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Ghandhara: The Renaissance of Buddhism



Ghandhara: The Renaissance of Buddhism
Eurasia” represents a spectacular adventure, a visual conquest of the East in 8 episodes. A magical voyage through time and space, exploring the history, culture and religions that link East and West: from the Persian Empire of Alexander the Great to the huge Mongolian Empire of Kublai Khan, the destinies of highly developed civilizations intermingled until they converged to take the shape of a Eurasian civilization shared by all of us. Babylon, Persepolis, Ai-Khanoum, Baghdad, Rome…are virtually recreated with incomparable realism by computer generated images.

In India in the 6th century BC, Sakyamuni, "a wise man of the Sakya tribe", had been meditating under a tree when, suddenly, he was struck with the comprehension of all things. He became Buddha, meaning the « Illuminated ». His message, based on a pragmatic philosophy, taught how to free oneself from all needs in order to achieve illumination. After the death of the Enlightened One, his disciples – a few monks – began to spread his teachings all over India, from Ceylon to the Himalayan.

Fearing man’s penchant for idol worship, Buddha expressly forbade that his image should be represented in whatever form. Therefore, the Indian philosophers told his life story without ever showing in any form other than that of a simple lotus, a tree or a horse without a rider. The Buddhist missionaries began to build monasteries – they discovered that the local population was a mix of settlers from Greece, Egypt and Antioch as well as descendants from Alexander’s soldiers.

Influenced by Greek sculpture, Buddhism began to represent the Enlightened One in a Hellenised form. The Buddhist philosophy became less abstract and was better understood and henceforth widely adopted. Buddhism is a blend of spirit and culture which is unique in the history of mankind – it achieved the successful encounter of East and West.
Note: Missing English Subs in some sections

BTJunkie

Text as Father: Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature - Alan Cole


Text as Father: Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature - Alan Cole
This beautifully written work sheds new light on the origins and nature of Mahayana Buddhism with close readings of four well-known texts--the Lotus Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Tathagatagarbha Sutra, and Vimalakirtinirdesa. Treating these sutras as literary works rather than as straightforward philosophic or doctrinal treatises, Alan Cole argues that these writings were carefully sculpted to undermine traditional monastic Buddhism and to gain legitimacy and authority for Mahayana Buddhism as it was veering away from Buddhism's older oral and institutional forms. His sophisticated and sustained analysis of the narrative structures and seductive literary strategies used in these sutras suggests that they were specifically written to encourage devotion to the written word instead of other forms of authority, be they human, institutional, or iconic.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why Buddhism?: Westerners in Search of Wisdom - Vicki Mackenzie


Why Buddhism?: Westerners in Search of Wisdom - Vicki Mackenzie
Why Buddhism? is a series of interviews through which Vicki McKenzie (author of Cave in the Snow) explores the reason for Buddhism's growing appeal in western society.

Through personal examples, this book will reveal what Buddhism means to a wide range of people in the UK, Australia and US. The interviews are inspiring and informative, covering the process each person went through in becoming involved in Buddhism, as well as the effect it has had on their lives and any difficulties they've encountered.

The subjects interviewed in Why Buddhism? range from the famous, like composer Phillip Glass, actor Tracy Mann, and author/teacher Robert Thurman, to the heroic, such as the nun who brings Buddhist teachings to hardened criminals in jail, the extraordinary - like the Buddhist diamond merchant, and the ordinary made remarkable - like the woman Queensland woman dying a good Buddhist death.

Popular rather than scholarly in tone, Why Buddhism? should appeal to those of us who are keen to know more about a religion that is much talked about but little understood.

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Wisdom of Buddha: The Samdhinirmochana Sutra - John Powers


Wisdom of Buddha: The Samdhinirmochana Sutra - John Powers
Buddhist scholars everywhere should rejoice. This is the first full translation of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, an important exposition on the nature of existence attributed to the Buddha. This sutra is one of the primary texts of Yogacara, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism. Powers has wisely reproduced the Tibetan text from which he translates on the facing page to aid scholars. Sutras, like all religious tracts, are difficult to read, especially for those unfamiliar with the theological foundation of this form of Buddhism. Luckily for the scholar, the translator has heavily footnoted the more arcane passages and includes a useful bibliography. After reading the text, one wishes that a more comprehensive introduction of Yogacara was included with the translation, but this is a minor criticism of an important addition to the study of Buddhism. Recommended for theological and academic libraries.

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Heart Full of Soul - Krishna Das


Heart Full of Soul - Krishna Das
Night after night, in ashrams and temples, cavernous cathedrals and modest community theaters around the world, Krishna Das sits down behind his harmonium, flanked by his band of supporting musicians, greets the crowd that has gathered to sing, closes his eyes, and begins. And with his opening Om, everyone in the room sets off together on a priceless evening’s journey along the path of devotion.

Heart Full of Soul is a double-CD recording of just such an evening and just such a journey. It is rich with the burnished treasure of the Divine Name, passed back and forth, back and forth between KD and the audience, as they travel together the varied terrain of the heart: from the funky rhythms of “Radhe Radhe Shyam” through the intense longing of “All One (Hare Krishna)” and the balm of “Jaya Bhagavan,” and ending with KD’s joyous version of the gospel classic, “Jesus on the Main Line.”

This is not a single night’s performance caught in amber, but a gift that’s fresh with each listening, drawing us in to join in with Krishna Das in the compelling practice of namakirtan over and over, again and again, whoever and wherever we happen to be.

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