Buddhism and business

Enlighten your wallets here

Enlighten your wallets here

Zen and the art of moneymaking

Local officials make a packet from a religion of self-denial

The Economist
Jun 27th 2015 | SANYA |

THE white steel lady overlooking the South China Sea has three heads, three bodies and toenails bigger than human heads. Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, stands atop a temple on a man-made islet, each of her heads facing a different way. Her public-relations staff call the six-year task of putting her there, in the resort town of Sanya on tropical Hainan island, “the number one statue-project in China”. The structure’s height, at 108 metres, was intended to be auspicious: Buddhists consider the number sacred.

Good fortune was certainly on the minds of local officials when they approved the project, in which the local government has a share. It was intended to be a money-spinner. It costs 60 yuan ($9.66) just to get in the lift that whisks visitors up to pray at those giant feet. That is on top of 126 yuan to enter the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone with its Auspicious Garden, Temple of 33 Guanyins and colourful Dharma Door of Non-Duality with its 94,000 portals. Guanyin is clearly not intended as a magnet for the faithful who have given up worldly possessions. Visitors are gouged without compassion, even having to pay for tassels “blessed” by souvenir salespeople. Gift stores are everywhere, selling knick-knacks such as prayer beads and Buddhist statuary. For visitors who want to sleep in the presence of Guanyin, a room at the site’s hotel can cost more than $280.

Continue reading

Ancient Buddhist scripture found near Beijing

6c0b840a2e3816fb442816CNTV, June 29, 2015

A sacred Buddhist scripture was found in a suburb of Beijing. The ‘Lotus Sutra’ – supposedly wrested from a realm of snake gods – is one of the religion’s most important and influential texts, and this find is the earliest known translation in Chinese.

The manuscript came to light near the Yunju Temple in Fangshan District. Centered on the themes of Peace and harmonious coexistence, it embodies the highest level of teaching in Buddhist philosophy.

This is the most complete Chinese translation found to date – a cause for celebration because other versions found in Dunhuang and other parts of China are mainly incomplete segments.

“Since its appearance in China in the third century, the Lotus Sutra has been regarded as one of the most illustrious scriptures in the Mahayana Buddhist canon. This is the first time that we’ve found a complete version. Based on this, we can trace its impact throughout China’s history,” said Luo Zhao, researcher on World Religions of Chinese Academy of Social Science.

Several strands of Buddhism are derived from this source – some regard it as the Buddha’s ultimate message, set down during his lifetime and then stored in a realm of snake gods for five hundred years.


Creation of a Healing Sand Mandala (Arkansas)

unnamedThe Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas presents:

The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Schedule of Events:

July 14th – 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Opening Ceremony
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Creating the Mandala
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM Creating the Mandala

July 15th – 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Creating the Mandala
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM Creating the Mandala

July 14th – 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Creating the Mandala
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Creating the Mandala
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Closing Ceremony

Barefoot Ballroom of the Basin Park Hotel
12 Spring Street Eureka Springs, AR 72632


The event will be free to the public
Suggested donation of $10/person to benefit the Mystical Arts of Tibet
There will be activities for children throughout the event

Using millions of grains of colored sand, the monks will create an elaborate and ancient Healing Medicine Sand Mandala. Each day over a 3 day period, the community is invited from 9 AM until 12 noon and 2 PM until 5 PM, to watch the monks build a sand mandala that has been recreated for over 2500 years. When the sand painting is complete, the monks deliberately sweep away the painting, offering half the sand to the community members who are there at the closing ceremony and then offering the other half of the sand to the earth. During the day, talks, a children’s mandala table and other events are planned. There will also be a Dharma Store where various items can be purchased.

See the the flyer here:
Mandala Flyer

Recently posted on Academia.edu on Buddhist art

Review: Siudmak, John. The Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Ancient Kashmir and its Influences. Vol. 28, Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section 2, South Asia. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2013.by Christian Luczanits
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 77, no. 3 (2014): 600-601.

A Fifteenth Century Biography of Lha bla ma Ye shes ‘od (947-1019/24): Part One: Its Prolegomenon and Propheciesby Leonard van der Kuijp

Circle of Bliss (File 1)
by John Huntington
Introduction Historical background

Circle of Bliss (File 2)
by John Huntington
Potential of transformation Environment of transformation Primordial teachers The goal

Circle of Bliss (File 3)
by John Huntington
Mother of all Buddhas Beginning the process Taking refuge

Circle of Bliss (File 4)
by John Huntington
Becoming a Bodhisattva Vajrasattva Secret instructions Cakrasamvara and Vajravarahi (Part 1)

Circle of Bliss (File 5)
by John Huntington
Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi (Part 2) Vajravarahi Mandalas Forms of Chakrasamvara (Part 1)

Circle of Bliss (File 6)
by John Huntington
Forms of Chakrasamvara (Part 2) Ritual Implements Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini (part 1) Continue reading

Rare ceramic of second century BC found in Chhattisgarh mud fort

Times of India
Rashmi Drolia, TNN | Jun 30, 2015, 02.55AM IST

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DAMROO, BALODA BAZAAR (Chhattisgarh): Rare ceramic pieces of northern black polished ware (NBPW) dating back to second century BC was unearthed from a 2000-year-old mud fort site at Damroo in Baloda Bazaar-Bhatapara district of Chhattisgarh.

These artefacts are usually found in Taxila in Pakistan, Hastinapura, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Patna and Champa in Bihar, Saurashtra in Gujarat, Tilorakot in Nepal and Koraikal near Pondicherry, said state archaeology department officials. Excavation of rarest of rare ceramic has now included the 40-acre Damroo site into the elite club.

The pottery is considered unique as it’s moulded and well navigated with fine clay. That it has not been found in abundance indicates it was among precious pottery found in ancient period which was used mainly by the royals or Buddhist monks. Continue reading

An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism

9780199948215_450An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism
Lars Fogelin
OUP USA Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology
264 pages | 30 line and 30 halftones | 235x156mm
978-0-19-994821-5 | Hardback | 25 June 2015

An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism is a comprehensive survey of Indian Buddhism from its origins in the 6th century BCE, through its ascendance in the 1st millennium CE, and its eventual decline in mainland South Asia by the mid-2nd millennium CE. Weaving together studies of archaeological remains, architecture, iconography, inscriptions, and Buddhist historical sources, this book uncovers the quotidian concerns and practices of Buddhist monks and nuns (the sangha), and their lay adherents—concerns and practices often obscured in studies of Buddhism premised largely, if not exclusively, on Buddhist texts. At the heart of Indian Buddhism lies a persistent social contradiction between the desire for individual asceticism versus the need to maintain a coherent community of Buddhists. Before the early 1st millennium CE, the sangha relied heavily on the patronage of kings, guilds, and ordinary Buddhists to support themselves. During this period, the sangha emphasized the communal elements of Buddhism as they sought to establish themselves as the leaders of a coherent religious order. By the mid-1st millennium CE, Buddhist monasteries had become powerful political and economic institutions with extensive landholdings and wealth. This new economic self-sufficiency allowed the sangha to limit their day-to-day interaction with the laity and begin to more fully satisfy their ascetic desires for the first time. This withdrawal from regular interaction with the laity led to the collapse of Buddhism in India in the early-to-mid 2nd millennium CE. In contrast to the ever-changing religious practices of the Buddhist sangha, the Buddhist laity were more conservative—maintaining their religious practices for almost two millennia, even as they nominally shifted their allegiances to rival religious orders. This book also serves as an exemplar for the archaeological study of long-term religious change through the perspectives of practice theory, materiality, and semiotics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – The Material of Religion
Chapter 3 – From the Buddha to Ashoka: c. 600 – 200 BCE
Chapter 4 – The Sangha and the Laity: c. 200 BCE – 200 CE
Chapter 5 – The Beginnings of Mahayana Buddhism, Buddha Images, and Monastic Isolation: c. 100 – 600 CE
Chapter 6 – Lay Buddhism and Religious Syncretism in the First Millennium CE
Chapter 7 – The Consolidation and Collapse of Monastic Buddhism: c. 600 – 1400 CE

Lars Fogelin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Religion, Archaeology, and the Material World as well as Archaeology of Early Buddhism.

A Sense of the Whole: Reading Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End

A Sense of the Whole Jacket1A Sense of the Whole: Reading Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End
Edited by Mark Gonnerman
352pp. | June 2015 | US$28.00 | ISBN 9781619024564 (Hardcover)
Berkeley: Counterpoint Press

Buddhist poet Gary Snyder once introduced a reading with reference to whitewater rapids, saying most of his writing is like a Class III run where you will do just fine on your own, but that Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996) is more like Class V: if you’re going to make it to take-out, you might need a guide. As a collection of commentaries and background readings, this companion volume to Snyder’s remarkable creative accomplishment enhances each reader’s ability to find their way into and through this adventurous and engaging work of art.

In 1997, Mark Gonnerman organized a yearlong research workshop on Mountains and Rivers Without End at the Stanford Humanities Center. Members of what came to be known among faculty, students, and diverse community members as the Mountains & Rivers Workshop met regularly to read and discuss Snyder’s epic poem. Here the poem served as a commons that turned the multiversity into a university once again.

The Workshop invited writers, teachers and scholars from North America and Japan to speak on various aspects of Snyder’s great accomplishment. This book captures the excitement of these gatherings and invites readers to enter the poem through essays and talks by David Abram, Wendell Berry, Carl Bielefeldt, Tim Dean, Jim Dodge, Mark Gonnerman, Robert Hass, Stephanie Kaza, Julia Martin, Michael McClure, Nanao Sakaki, and Katsunori Yamazato. It includes an interview with Gary Snyder, appendices, and other resources for further study.

From the Introduction
Mountains and Rivers Without End evades simple classificatory schemes. Is it an “American epic poem” (M&R dust jacket)? A multimedia poem cycle? A contribution to American mythology? A collection of poems depicting major ecosystem types? Is it a spiritual autobiography—a pilgrim’s progress—aimed at effecting some kind of religious conversion? Is this “a sort of sūtra—an extended poetic, philosophic, and mythic narrative of the female Buddha Tārā” (M&R 158)? Or is this book a score for the kind of live performance the poet has envisioned and experimented with since 1957? Is the work a thought experiment—a creative, critical Buddhist commentary—on the place of art in human religious life? Though I will concentrate on the last of these possibilities here, the attentive reader will discover that Snyder’s creative effort entails all of the above and more.

Mark Gonnerman was educated at St. Olaf College, Harvard Divinity School, and Stanford University, where he was a Lieberman Fellow. He is currently a professor and Director of the William James Center for Consciousness Studies at Sofia University in Palo Alto. He and Meri Mitsuyoshi share householder life in San Jose, California. Visit www.futureprimitives.info