Saturday, January 20, 2018

End Of Times: Vision of the World's End

Revelations can be a very intimidating book out of all 66 in the bible. Is very difficult to understand...all we can do is pray to God and ask him to reveal to us what he would like us to know.

Now let's discuss the book of Revelations and the end times in general.

This is a summary in the best format I can offer. Or rather bits and pieces so it's not so overwhelming or puts the brain on overload. From my point of view. I am certainly not stating this is it, no o other views are correct. This is just my humble opinion. The name of the book, Revelation, is a translation of the title in the original New Testament Greek, Apocalypsis the origin of the other name by which the book is now known, the Apocalypse. The Greek term denotes an unveiling or uncovering—thus, a revelation. A very interesting title with very interesting events to come as we are warned.

Many ask why was this book written? Well, as I mentioned above, the book's very name means to reveal —to unveil, to open to understanding what otherwise could not be comprehended. Yet most people believe that this final book of the Bible cannot be understood at all, that its language and symbols are too confusing to make sense. I can understand why. It's very intimidating.

The author of the Book of Revelation is John, who is an exile living on the island of Patmos. Many of the early church fathers believe that he was the same person as the apostle John. However, some believe the writing style of Revelation suggests that the two are not in fact the same, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, although it is possible that the author of Revelation was an apostle of John.

The Book of Revelation's apocalyptic and symbolic language has resulted in a vast array of interpretations. The events depicted are often considered to be an illustration of the early Christian persecutions, but the symbolism is also interpreted quite literally, suggesting that the Book is really about the end of the world, and that the events it describes will occur. Some Christians do not accept the Book of Revelation as canonical, and the decision to accept it in the final list of canonical books was highly controversial, according to the article "Meander Travel: Book of Revelation."

The Vision Of The World's End

Revelation is a book written to reveal the future, and Jesus Christ is the One who does the revealing: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place … Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because. of Him” (Revelation 1:1,7).
Here is the theme of Revelation—the time of the end of the age and the return of Jesus Christ to establish God’s Kingdom on earth.

John explains where he was when he received this vision of the end time: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Revelation 1:9-10).

The Lord’s day (also known as “the day of the Lord” or “the day of Christ” throughout Scripture) is the time of God’s intervention in human affairs when He establishes His Kingdom. (Plainly in this context it does not refer to a particular day of the week for worshipping God. To better understand which day God has set aside for rest and worship, please download or request our free booklet Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest. )
The apostle Paul, referring to this same time, says: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

In another epistle Paul calls it “the day of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). The reason is that Jesus Christ, the Lord, intervenes in a powerful way at this time to take over the world. This is why this end-time period is called the Lord’s day.

John’s vision of the Lord’s day begins in Revelation 4: “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne” (verse 2). After describing the scene in heaven, John focuses on a scroll God holds that lists end-time events. “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1).

Only Jesus Christ, called the Lamb, is worthy to open the seals and unleash these end-time events. When God the Father determines the time is ready, He authorizes Jesus to initiate the events written on the scroll. They include the terrifying end-time occurrences prophesied throughout the Scriptures to take place during the 3 1⁄2 year period.
The seven seals describe the events before and during Christ’s return to rule the earth. “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels …saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’” (Revelation 5:11-12). Here Jesus Christ is being authorized to unleash the final events and then establish His Kingdom.

The first seal (Revelation 6:1-2) represents widespread deception by a false Christianity that began in the days of the apostles (Matthew 24:4 – 5). The second seal (Revelation 6:3-4) refers to the increasing devastation caused by war as the end approaches (Matthew 24:6-7). The third seal (Revelation 6:5-6) represents increasing hunger and famines (Matthew 24:7). Other consequences of war and famine are represented by the fourth seal (Revelation 6:7-8)—such things as disease, plagues and civil unrest that kill many people (Matthew 24:7).

All of the events in the first four seals have been occurring, with varying frequency and intensity, from Christ’s time to our day. But they have greatly intensified over the last century and will grow even worse in the suffering mankind will have to endure nearer the end.

The fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11) brings us directly to the time of the end. It acknowledges the past persecution and martyrdom of God’s servants and announces they will have to wait “a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed,” before God avenges their deaths.

In The book of Matthew 24:9 Jesus tells His followers this will be a time when “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” He also describes it as a time of “great tribulation


The next seal describes how “powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29) after the end-time tribulation and martyrdom of the saints has begun but before God’s wrath is unleashed in “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). These heavenly signs announce the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
Terrifying heavenly signs announce Jesus Christ’s direct intervention in world events to save mankind from itself. This shows that, while God has permitted the previous end-time disasters, Satan has been their driving force. Now God begins to demolish Satan’s kingdom, pouring out His wrath on a rebellious and insolent world.

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:12-17).

Jesus described this sixth sign in His Olivet Prophecy: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption [rescue] draws near” (Luke 21:25-28).

Consequently, in the latter part of the 3 1⁄2 years of Satan’s wrath, God will intervene, first with signs and wonders in the heavens, then by orchestrating His final punishments before Jesus Christ’s return.

Finally the seventh seal is opened (Revelation 8). It describes seven other aspects of end-time events, each announced with a trumpet blast. In the first four of these plagues God strikes the earth and mankind’s environmental support systems. The fifth trumpet’s plague inflicts great pain on those refusing to serve God. In the sixth trumpet plague, God permits an unimaginably destructive and all-out worldwide war to begin (Revelation 8-9).

With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the Bible reveals that “the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7).

This mystery of the end time was briefly alluded to in the Garden of Eden and its meaning glimpsed by the patriarchs and prophets. John writes: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15).

God is in control. Every prophetic detail will be carried out according to His time frame.

As Christ concluded His Olivet Prophecy in Luke 21:34-36, He warned His disciples who would live during the end time: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Please keep in mind you know how this ends. Jesus Christ prevails and satan loses so we should feel a lot of peace and cling to the Father and His Word. It is truth. Satan's time is limited and he knows this. Like I said in my last blog fear is not of God just keep rebuking Satan and his entire Kingdom. They have absolutely no authority over your mind, body, soul and spirit and repeat that daily with authority. Only Jesus Christ resides in you and what you stand for. Just keep Jesus number one in your life and you will be okay my friends. God bless.

Written By Jennifer L Auld

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dalai Lama Discusses How to Awaken Your Mind

Nagarjuna’s ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’
January 14, 2018

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - The sky was cold and foggy this morning as His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove the short distance from the Tibetan Temple to the Kalachakra Maidan, but the sun came out shortly afterwards. An estimated 30,000 people, including 10,000 monks and nuns awaited His Holiness. He greeted people as he walked to the stage from where he saluted the crowd to the front, left and right. He was soon seated on the throne.

Students from the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, young men and women, lay-people and monastics, recited the Mangala Sutta in Pali. They were followed by a group from the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts who sang the verse of refuge and the salutation from Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ to a musical accompaniment.

Finally, a group of Taiwanese chanted the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Chinese. They were among 3300 foreigners from 70 different countries attending this teaching. To meet their needs His Holiness’s words are being simultaneously translated and broadcast locally over FM bands into English, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, Romanian and the Amdo and Tawo Tibetan dialects.

“The last teaching was mostly for an Indian audience and was publicly translated into Hindi,” His Holiness explained by way of introduction. “This time there are many Mongolians among the faithful monastics and lay-people who’ve come to hear the teaching of the Buddha. What’s important to start with is to have a perfect motivation. On the part of the Lama that means not teaching out of any expectation of wealth or fame. Turning the Dharma into a business is very negative. When I learned about Tulku Tsullo’s three commitments—not to eat non-vegetarian food, not to ride animals and not to take any payment for teaching—I was very impressed.

“If there are people who wonder what the Dharma is about, there is no restriction, we have nothing to hide, and everyone is welcome. It’s something we’ve been familiar with for more than a thousand years. At the end of their recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’ the Chinese add a verse that goes as follows:

May the three poisons be eliminated,
May the light of wisdom shine forth,
May we face no inner or outer obstacles
And may we train in the bodhisattva path.

“This tells us that the Chinese are traditionally Buddhist. The wisdom celebrated here isn’t just any knowledge, but the wisdom realizing selflessness. After the ravages of the cultural revolution the Buddhist population in China is growing again.

“In Mongolia too there have been three phases of Buddhism. At the beginning it travelled up the Silk Road and through Mongolia. Then there was the era when Mongolians had relations with the Sakyas and finally the Third Dalai Lama engaged with them. In return they gave him the name Dalai Bakshi. Buddhism mostly spread into Mongolia from Tibet. When I first went there in 1979 there were old monks who couldn’t actually speak to me, but were able to communicate through written Tibetan. They were permitted to practise inside the Ganden Thekchenling Monastery but not outside it.

“Their intense chanting at the top of their voices was very moving. It made me think back to the time of Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, to Yönten Gyatso, the Fourth Dalai Lama, who was born there, and to the Fifth Dalai Lama with whom they had close relations.

“Today, Buddhism is being revived and we still have access to the writings of many great Mongolian masters. It was one of my debate assistants, Ngödrup Tsognyi, a Mongolian, who stimulated my interest in the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) School of Thought. Several hundred Mongolian monks are now studying in the monasteries is South India and I’ve advised them how important it is that they keep up their studies.

“We also have here many people from the Himalayan region and there are many monks and nuns from their communities in our monasteries and nunneries. They have made up the numbers since the flow of monks and nuns out of Tibet has declined, something we can be mutually grateful for.

“There are people here too who are not traditionally Buddhist, who come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. With improved communications and travel facilities many more people have taken an interest in Tibetan religion and culture, have offered us support and have been inspired by the teachings of the Buddha. You are new Buddhists and we old Buddhists of Tibet and the Himalayan Region bid you welcome.”

His Holiness explained that he was going to teach the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ and that the introductory verse derives from the Guhyasamaja Tantra. He mentioned that he had received Nagarjuna’s six texts on reasoning from Serkhong Tsenshab Rinpoche and his ‘Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way’ from Khunu Lama Rinpoche, who was able to compare the Sanskrit and Tibetan editions. He also vouchsafed that he received the ‘Hymn to the Absolute Reality’ from former Ganden Throne-holder, Rizong Rinpoche in the place where he observed his three year retreat.

His Holiness noted that he would, in addition, teach the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ by Ngulchu Thogme Sangpo, someone celebrated in his life as a bodhisattva. A book containing the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’ and the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ in Tibetan, Hindi, Chinese, English and Spanish had been prepared for free distribution by the Organizing Committee of the Mongolian Sungchoe Organization. The Tibetan section included His Holiness’s own composition, ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’, and he elected to read that first.

He read the verses in praise of Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka, Chandrakirti, Shantideva, Shantarakshita and Kamalashila. He noted that Shantideva composed the ‘Compendium of Trainings’ and ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, both of which were among the six texts favoured by the Kadampa masters. He also remarked that it was due to the efforts of the Abbot - Shantarakshita, the Adept - Padmasambhava and the King - Trisong Detsen that Tibetans today are proud to be custodians of the Nalanda Tradition.

His Holiness recalled that under their auspices Samye Monastery was established with sections concerned with translation, discipline, meditation and so forth. Some Chinese teachers in the meditation section contended that meditation pre-empted study. Shantarakshita’s principal disciple Kamalashila was invited from India to challenge them in debate. He won the contest and composed the three volume ‘Stages of Meditation’ as a result.

His Holiness continued to read the verses applauding the masters of the vast lineage—Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Vimuktisena, Haribhadra, Gunaprabha, Shakyaprabha and Atisha. He again extolled the kindness of Atisha, Yeshe Ö and Jangchub Ö for their exertions to restore Buddhism in Tibet in the eleventh century. As he completed his reading of the ‘Praise to the 17 Masters of Nalanda’ he observed that there used to be those who dismissed Tibetan Buddhism as Lamaism. Now he has no hesitation in asserting that Tibetans are followers of the pure Nalanda Tradition. He lamented that Nalanda itself lies in ruins and acknowledged in passing the British role in identifying and unearthing most of the Buddhist sacred sites in India.

Taking up Nagarjuna’s text, His Holiness read every verse of the ‘Commentary on the Awakening Mind’. He read briskly with occasional pause to comment and explain. When he was done he read another concise text with a similar title that was a commentary to the introductory verse from Guhyasamaja.

His Holiness announced that tomorrow he will give the lay-person’s vows, lead a ceremony for generating the awakening mind and perform the preparatory ritual for an Avalokiteshvara empowerment that he will bestow the following day. He also undertook to read ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’.

He returned to Ganden Phelgyeling in warm sunshine.

original link & photos:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dalai Lama Says, "Be a Good Human Being."

The Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma and the Rice Seedling Sutra

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Heavy fog and bitterly cold conditions in Bodhgaya this morning did nothing to subdue the enthusiasm of the more than 50,000 people gathered on the Kalachakra Maidan to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After a short drive from the Tibetan Temple to the top end of a huge marquee, His Holiness too was in a buoyant mood. He smiled, shook outstretched hands and waved to the crowd as he walked up to the front of the stage.

He greeted several of the distinguished Lamas seated around the throne, among whom were the Ganden Tri Rinpoche, the former Ganden Tripa, the Shartse and Jangtse Chöjeys, the Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, and Ling Rinpoche, as well as Abbots, former Abbots and Tulkus.

“Indians are the main disciples today,” His Holiness announced, “and we’ll begin with their recitations in Pali and Sanskrit.”

Adults chanted a series of prayers and praises, including the Mangala Sutta, first in Pali. They were followed by a group of schoolgirls and schoolboys who recited the ‘Heart Sutra’ in Sanskrit.

“After the Buddha had attained enlightenment, he declared, ‘Profound and peaceful, free from complexity, uncompounded luminosity—I have found a nectar-like Dharma. Yet if I were to teach it, no-one would understand, so I shall remain silent here in the forest.’ One reason for this is that existing Indian spiritual traditions asserted the existence of an independent self, a permanent agent going from one life to the next. The Buddha saw that clinging to the notion of an independent self is the root of all other mental afflictions. After realizing selflessness, he saw that it would be incomprehensible to most people if he were to teach about it.

“Nevertheless, in due course he did teach in Sarnath. Later, on Vulture’s Peak in Rajgriha, he taught that things lack intrinsic existence. During the first turning of the wheel of Dharma he explained the truth of suffering and its origins. Then during the second he elaborated in detail on emptiness. The Unravelling of Thought Sutra records that during the third turning of the wheel, he taught about dependent nature, imputed nature and perfect nature. The absence of imputed nature from dependent nature indicates the perfect nature of emptiness. Also, during the third turning of the wheel, the Buddha touched on Buddha nature and the subjective mind of clear light that is the basis for practice of highest yoga tantra.

“Mahakassapa and his followers preserved the teachings including Vinaya and Abhidhamma that became the Pali tradition. Later, when understanding had grown, Nagarjuna and other disciples examined the teachings in the light of reasoning giving rise to what became the Nalanda Tradition. The teaching of the Buddha has faced its ups and downs, and yet, relying on scriptural authority as well as reasoning and analysis, it still survives today.”

His Holiness discussed how the Buddha gave different teachings according to beings’ mental disposition, inclination and capacity. Sometimes he taught that the person carries the aggregates, much as a porter bears a load as if they were separate from each other. Elsewhere he explained that objects that appear to exist externally are not different from the subjective perception of them. At other times he taught that nothing has any inherent existence. The ‘Heart Sutra’ refers to form as emptiness and emptiness as form.

Having taught different things on different occasions, the Buddha admonished his followers, ‘O monks, just as the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing, Examine my words thoroughly and accept them only after you have investigated them—not just out of respect for me’. His Holiness pointed out that modern scientists do not rely on anything like scriptural authority, they observe and conduct research themselves. Then they verify what they have discovered by comparing it to the findings of others and seek a consensus. Today, scientists are taking interest in what Buddhism has to say, much as Einstein predicted.

His Holiness emphasized that Buddhism originated in India, not in China or Tibet, and that masters of Nalanda like Nagarjuna were Indian too. Therefore, His Holiness said, it was propitious that the main disciples today were Indian. For more than 2000 years Buddhism has spread across Asia, so it would be appropriate if the Nalanda Tradition that has been kept alive in Tibet were to be re-established today in India.

His Holiness observed that India has the distinction of being the one place where all the world’s major religions flourish. Some of these traditions like Brahmanism are theistic and posit a creator; others like some Samkhyas and Jains are non-theistic and are based instead on the principle of causality. Among them, only Buddhism does not assert the existence of an independent self. From West Asia came Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all believe in a creator god. All these traditions commend love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, contentment and self-discipline.

For Buddhism, the conduct of non-violence is important. It also teaches that suffering, pain and pleasure are in our own hands. Action which helps others and makes them happy is regarded as positive. Actions that harm others are negative.

“The various religious traditions have long flourished in India and lived alongside one another in harmony,” His Holiness added. “A secular view according equal regard to all faiths prevails here. We must preserve it. Meanwhile, I am doing my best to revive awareness of ancient Indian knowledge in this country. However, in the long run, the most important thing is to be a good human being.

“Among 7 billion human beings alive today, 1 billion have no interest in religious practice. But even among those who remain, some use religion as grounds for division. For religion to become a source of conflict is really very sad.

“We human beings are social animals, we rely on each other. We are not self-sufficient. We are at peace with one another here, but elsewhere conflict abounds. People are bullying and killing each other. Others are neglected to die of starvation. How can we put up with this when we regularly pray for all beings to be free from suffering? As followers of the Buddha we should ask ourselves every day how we can help others, since we all want happiness and don’t want suffering.

“Because modern education currently has little time for human values, we need to augment it with discussion of love and compassion. Common sense tells us, for example, that an affectionate, compassionate family is happy, whereas a family riven by jealousy and competitiveness is not.”

Turning to the two texts he was to read, the ‘Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma’ and the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’, His Holiness observed that they both deal with ideas common to all Buddhist teachings. He remarked that the word Dharma has a connotation of holding back as in transforming or reshaping the mind, which is clearly illustrated by this verse:

Commit not a single unwholesome action,
Cultivate a wealth of virtue,
To tame this mind of ours
Is the teaching of all the buddhas.

Whether what we do is unwholesome or counts as virtue depends on the motivation.

His Holiness noted that the Buddha’s teachings can be categorized in terms of scripture and realization. Scriptural instructions are preserved by reading and study, whereas teachings related to realization depend on our engaging in the Three Trainings—ethics, concentration and wisdom.

His Holiness remarked that the Buddha left his family behind when he became a monk, which was not just a matter of changing how he dressed, but of his adopting and putting prevailing teachings into practice. He examined what he heard, contemplated and then meditated on it. This meant, for example, that he engaged in critical analysis of the nature of suffering until he understood it. He pursued the shamatha, a calmly abiding mind, and vipashyana, special insight, that are common to many traditions. Subsequently, the Buddha’s companions when he was engaging in such practice and observing strict austerities became his first disciples.

In the ‘Sutra of the Wheel of Dharma’, the Buddha speaks of having first comprehended suffering and then relinquished it. His Holiness quoted a verse by Nagarjuna,

Through the elimination of karma and mental afflictions there is liberation;
Karma and mental afflictions come from conceptual thoughts;
These come from mental exaggeration;
Exaggeration ceases through emptiness.

He clarified that it is due to our misconception of true existence that suffering arises, but we will not overcome this by offering lamps or performing rituals. It’s analysing and thinking about dependent arising that enables us to overturn these misconceptions. Nagarjuna praised the Buddha for teaching how to overcome wrong views. Je Tsongkhapa praised him for teaching about dependent arising.

In mentioning that the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’ belongs to the Sanskrit tradition, His Holiness noted once more that he prefers to refer to the Pali and Sanskrit traditions because the terms Mahayana and Hinayana tend to lead to one set of people looking down on another. After all, he remarked, the Sanskrit tradition is built upon the foundations of the Pali tradition.

Beginning to read the ‘Rice Seedling Sutra’, His Holiness made two observations. The sutra concerns a conversation between Shariputra and Maitreya, who sat down together on a huge flat rock, which he appreciates for its down to earth quality. Secondly, a remark in a commentary to the Perfection of Wisdom teachings by the Korean Abbot Wen-tsig suggested that Maitreya’s mother was also called Maitreya, which establishes him as a human being, as well as a celestial bodhisattva, explaining dependent arising.

original link & photos:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dalai Lama Visits the Bodhi Tree

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Makes a Pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple
January 2, 2018

Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Having arrived in Bodhgaya after dark yesterday, one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first wishes today was to visit the Mahabodhi Temple as a pilgrim to pay his respects. He rode in a car the short distance from the Tibetan Temple to the western gate of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. He was welcomed by members of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, as well as the Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, who is here participating in the 26th Sakya Monlam.

His Holiness made his way down the steps and exchanged his shoes for a pair of white slippers. He then approached the western side of the Temple where the Bodhi Tree stands over the Vajra-asana. This is where Buddha Shakyamuni sat as he attained enlightenment more than 2500 years ago. His Holiness lit a lamp amongst an array of offerings set up as part of the Sakya Monlam. He then walked around the temple on the inner circuit, smiling and waving to people peeking through the stone railings.

At the door to the Mahabodhi Temple His Holiness stopped and made three prostrations to the Buddha before entering. He inspected the renowned statue of the Awakened One inside, made further salutations before it and sat down in the company of a number of monks. Together they recited prayers and praises including the ‘Sutra Remembering the Three Jewels ’, ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, the ‘Praise of the 17 Nalanda Masters’, the 'Supplication to the Buddha known as Drumbeat of Truth', the ‘Prayer for the Ecumenical Spread of the Buddha's Teachings’, the dharani of Dependent Arising, the ‘Words of Truth’ and verses of dedication.

As he emerged from the Temple, His Holiness smiled and waved to the crowds who filled the surrounding garden. He turned and paid tribute to the Buddha once more before continuing his circumambulation. Greeting fellow pilgrims on the way, he reached the western side, saluted the Seat of Enlightenment again, ascended the steps to the gate, waved to the crowd, and climbed into his car to return to the Ganden Phelgyey Ling—the Tibetan Temple.

original link & photos:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

What is Reality, Part 3...Reality as Eternal & Self-existent Truth

Reality as Eternal & Self-existent & the Truth, Part 3

Continued from:
What is Reality Part 1...Reality as Matrix
What is Reality Part 2...Reality as Self Created

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Countless people have had their faith either derailed or severe doubts were caused by issues regarding our origins. Hence, it is important that we understand the four basic answers to the origin of reality. In previous weeks we looked at 1 and 2 and saw their logical absurdity and unbiblical nature.
Unbiblical views always lead to irrationality.

1. Reality is an Illusion
2. Reality is self-created
3. Reality is eternal and self-existent
4. The self-existent Creator made reality

Today I want to look at the prevalent notion that the universe is eternal. Before we do that, I want to affirm my basic presupposition: the Triune God created the universe and has spoken to us in His Word. That being the case, I already know that this option (#3) is unbiblical and will, of necessity, lead to irrationality.

Having said that, unlike options 1 and 2 which are analytically false—false by definition and logically absurd—there is nothing analytically false about creation being eternal, though it does lead to irrationality because its unbiblical.

Once we’ve established that anything exists, then the notion of a self-existent cause is not only logically possible but logically necessary. Something HAS to be self-existent and eternal since something exists now.

If ever there were a time when there was absolutely nothing (and by nothing I mean absolutely nothing, not a vacuum full of energy, etc.) , then what could possibly exist now but ….nothing? Ex nihilo nihil fit—from nothing, nothing comes.That is why philosophers say that the basic philosophic question is: why does something exist rather than nothing?

Everyone has heard of the theory of the Big Bang. The theory goes like this: 15-18 billion years ago there was a point of singularity that exploded  and expanded into our present universe. Prior to the explosion, all space, time, matter,and energy was compacted into a pinpoint. So goes this theory. Many cosmologists, and non-scientists, also assert  that this singularity existed for backwards eternity in a stable fashion. Or they assert that it created itself out of nothing. This latter explanation we shall dispense with as being analytically false. Ex nihilo, nihil fit.

So, the 64 million dollar question is: what happened before the alleged Big Bang? And many astronomers and cosmologists answer by saying that they don’t have to answer that question. Really?!

“So, you’re telling me that you have created a model that allegedly explains everything, and existed forever, but you don’t have to explain what happened for backwards eternity before the ball of wax exploded?! No sir, that is a monumental cop out. You have to answer that question. And please don’t say that special laws existed then because that is known as special pleading in logic."

You see, backwards eternity is not simply a very long time. Not even a very, very, very, very long time—it is backwards eternity. And nothing in a singularity, no matter how compacted, could retain its energy forever. The notion of eternality of matter and energy is absurd for two reasons: it needs a cause, and no compaction of energy can simply be forever. Basic thermodynamics asserts this….and again one cannot plead for special physics laws at this point which have never been observed before, without special pleading and circular reasoning. Heisenberg’s and Planx’s work does not explain this phenomenon as some assert. It is not nothing causing something as its been erroneously interpreted.One reason many scientists are fleeing from the Big Bang, other than its intellectually suspect, is because it implies a finite beginning for the universe, which implies a Creator. Something has to be self-existent and eternal. I’ve lived long enough to see the “assured results of science” to be turned on its head again and again, so I’m not easily drawn into theories like the Big Bang.

As Warner Gitts of NASA said: “My considered opinion is that as long as we try to explain the universe apart from the Creator and without regard to biblical affirmations given by him, we will continue to be dazzled by a succession of ingenious cosmological ideas, none of which will remotely resemble the truth.”

For the rest of the time I’m going to explain the biblical view of origins, and at the bottom leave links to consider regarding the notion of the Big Bang, which I have serious doubts about, for biblical and scientific reasons. For example, given the huge explosion theory, there shouldn’t be galaxies—explosions expel matter outward and fairly evenly, and the beauty and symmetry of some galaxies are a thorny problem for the Big Bang theory. To me, the Big Bang is a cosmic cousin of the intellectually bankrupt notion of macro-evolution. Indeed, there is no way to square an old earth/universe with biblical teaching.

Theologians speak of God’s aseity as one of His attributes. Aseity has to do with the independence and self-existence of God. He alone is the Supreme Being, unchanged, self-existent and eternal, He exists by the necessity of His own Being. He cannot, not be. Human beings are contingent, derived creatures. There was a time when I was not, and I am constantly changing. But Ultimate reality is the Tri-personal eternal communion and love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before there was space and time; before there was a universe, the Triune God has existed for all eternity. He, and He alone, can sufficiently explain the existence of His universe. Any attempts at autonomous reasoning at this point leads to unreal views of reality.

When God revealed Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush, which symbolized the inexhaustible energy and power of the self-existent Creator, He called Himself “I Am who I Am.” ..Yahweh. This covenant name of God conveys the truth that He alone is self-existent. All of His creatures, including the cosmos, are dependent upon Him for their existence. Any attempts to explain ourselves or reality apart from Him is sinful and leads to irrationality, as we’ve seen over and over.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Reality is not an illusion, its not self-created, it is not eternal. Instead, as this key verse states so clearly, God created the universe ex nihilo in the relatively recent past.
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dalai Lama Meets Tibetans & People from the Himalayan Region

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India - Before His Holiness the Dalai Lama went out this morning, filmmaker Bharath Subbarao and his wife Soumya introduced him to ‘Mandala’, a newly launched app dedicated to bringing Buddhist wisdom and the best insights of psychology together in a clear and accessible way so that people may apply them in their everyday lives. The app is introduced and guided by Thupten Jinpa, a former Buddhist monk who completed his training as a Geshe Lharampa at Ganden Monastery and went on to earn a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies at Cambridge University. He has served His Holiness extensively as a translator since 1985 and has translated and edited numerous books by him.

The app, which is presently available in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese, offers talks and conversations that bring together Buddhist wisdom and scientific insights under the heading Learn. Well-known scientists and writers like Daniel Goleman contribute. Under the heading Live, are a series of guided meditation practices, while there is also an option to discover and delve further into key Buddhist concepts under the heading Explore.

His Holiness was pleased to see that guidelines to help people find peace of mind and develop a warm heart could be made so easily and clearly available to them.

A short drive brought His Holiness to the King’s Court section of the Palace Ground. A spellbound crowd of more than 2500, mostly young Tibetan students, but also including about 300 Bhutanese and others from the Himalayan Region waited to listen to him. All expenses for the event were met by Ganden Jangtse Monastery.

Received by Chief Representative Chophel Thupten, His Holiness was given a traditional welcome at the door. Inside the hall, a group of singers and musicians performed for him. He beamed with pleasure as they played. Chophel Thupten presented a brief report of achievements and aspirations for the future, before requesting His Holiness to address the gathering.

“I’ve been busy visiting the settlements here in Karnataka,” he told them. “I caught a cold which left me feeling tired, but now I’m here in Bengaluru and very happy to meet you all.

“Tibetans faced great hardship in their own land. However much we tried to accommodate ourselves to the problems that arose, we were ultimately unable to reconcile the conflicts we encountered and fled instead into exile. Indian Prime Minister Nehru took great personal responsibility for helping Tibetans. I met him first in Peking in 1954, then again in India in 1956, before coming into exile in 1959. At his instigation the Government of India did whatever it could to help us. Here in Karnataka, Chief Minister Nijalingappa went out of his way to offer us support.

“Tibetans in Tibet have an undaunted spirit and an unswerving devotion to our religion and culture. Wherever we’ve ended up in the world, whether it’s in India, Europe, the USA, Canada, or Australia, we haven’t forgotten that we are Tibetans. It’s in our blood. The 150,000 Tibetans who live freely in exile are a source of hope to their brothers and sisters in Tibet. We have been successful in keeping our heritage alive. Since we came into exile, many people who weren’t acquainted with them before have taken interest in our religion and culture. Scientists in particular are taking a growing interest in what we know about the mind.

“In the past, study of philosophy and logic, as well as learning about the mind, were largely the preserve of monks in the centres of learning. It wasn’t something people in the ritual monasteries or nunneries paid attention to. However, in exile monks in those monasteries and nuns in their nunneries have taken up the study of logic and philosophy. Throughout the Himalayan Region from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh lay people too are becoming 21st century Buddhists by studying what Buddhism is about.

“How many of you can recite the ‘Heart Sutra’ from memory? The main thrust of the teaching is emptiness. It shows that things exist in dependence on other factors, therefore they don’t have any independent existence of their own. Experts in quantum physics have told me that what are new insights for them today find resonance in what Nagarjuna wrote about dependent arising long ago.

“Modern science is new to us. We had no acquaintance with it in Tibet. More than 30 years ago, to satisfy my own curiosity I entered into discussions with scientists. What I learned led me to believe that science could complement what we already know. Some old Abbots were not easily convinced, but eventually they came round. I explained that I could find no contradiction in combining our two approaches to knowledge.”

His Holiness explained that as far as political affairs are concerned, he has retired. He semi-retired after the leadership election in 2001 and fully retired after the election of 2011.

He recalled Nehru advising him that the USA was never going to go to war with China over Tibet. Subsequently, in 1974 it was decided not to seek independence for Tibet, nor to make further appeals to the UN. Nehru stressed that sooner of later we would have to negotiate with the Chinese authorities. The Chinese constitution includes provisions for the autonomy of Tibet, which should be implemented. Tibetans in Central Tibet, Kham and Amdo need to be able to protect their identity and culture. His Holiness pointed out that the Middle Way Approach developed once Deng Xiaoping began to relax restrictions and expressed a willingness to talk. After the craziness of the ‘cultural revolution’, he hoped that common sense would prevail.

His Holiness remarked that the undaunted and unwavering spirit of Tibetans in Tibet and the efforts of those in exile have ensured that the Tibet issue is not forgotten. He reiterated the necessity of keeping Tibetan culture and language alive.

His Holiness lamented the huge loss of life in war over the last century and that violence is still going on. He observed that when Mahatma Gandhi put engaged in ahimsa, non-violent resistance his opponents regarded it as a sign of weakness. And yet in the end he was successful.

His Holiness told the students that he is convinced that if ancient Indian knowledge of the workings of the mind and emotions can be combined with modern education, it will make a significant contribution towards peace in the world.   

In answering questions from the audience he advised that death is a natural process and that everyone who’s born will die. What can help at that moment is to have a peaceful state of mind and a warm heart. He stated that women can become religious leaders and mentioned the examples of Shugseb Jetsun and Samdhing Dorje Phagmo. He added that after pursuing a rigorous program of study, 20 nuns were last year awarded the first Geshe-ma degrees.

A girl from Ladakh acknowledged that His Holiness regularly refers to himself as a simple Buddhist monk, but Tibetans and Himalayan people also know him as Chenrezig. She asked if he had anything to say about that.

“This year in Ladakh, a young girl asked me straight out, ‘Are you a God?’ and I told her ‘No’,” His Holiness reported, laughing. “The First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup had visions of Avalokiteshvara and Tara and the Dalai Lamas from the 2nd until the 13th all had visions. I was born in a very remote village near Kumbum Monastery in Amdo. The search party was sent there as a result of visions the Regent saw in the surface of Lhamo Latso Lake, a lake activated by Gendun Gyatso, so you might say this Dalai Lama was recognised by Palden Lhamo. I have a strong karmic connection to the previous Dalai Lamas, so she helps me.

“I’ve had several dreams indicative of the past. In one I had been held as a prisoner in ancient Egypt and was released by order of the Pharoh. I’ve also had dreams indicative of my close connection to the Indian adept Krishnacharya and to the founder of Drepung Monastery Jamyang Chöjey.

“Be that as it may, every one of us has had a previous rebirth. The important thing is to lead a meaningful life here and now.”

His Holiness gave transmission of the mantras of Buddha Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Arya Tara, as well as the four line verse for taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and generating the awakening mind. In a final piece of advice he asked the young people to help others if they can, but if they can’t, that to avoid doing them any harm.

original link & photos

Friday, December 22, 2017

What is Reality, Part 2..Reality as Self-Created

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Continued from What Is Reality, Part 1...Reality As Matrix Illusion

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

This is the second in a four-part series on reality: how did the universe come into being? What is reality?

Anyone who is serious about sharing their faith effectively needs to understand the different views on how the universe came to be. Satan doesn’t just attack physically but through doctrines that dishonor God as both Creator and Redeemer. Unbiblical views of cosmology have led many people away from God and His precious gospel. That is why they are doctrines of demons.

The most basic philosophical question is: why is there is something rather than nothing? We looked at the first explanation for reality as an illusion last time, and saw its irrationality and unbiblical nature. Let me remind you of the four basic explanations of reality as we confront it.

1. Reality is an illusion
2. Reality is self-created
3. Reality is self-existent and eternal
4. Reality was created by self-existent God

So, this time we shall look at the notion that the reality we confront each day is self-created. Many who believe this notion don’t necessarily say this explicitly, but it’s what they mean.

The statement/proposition ‘self-created’ is what is known in logic as being analytically false. It is false by definition. It is a logical absurdity. Every unbiblical view of reality is at odds with biblical epistemology (view of knowledge and how we attain it) and logic, and leads to irrationality; these basic principles of logic are not negotiable.

For something to create itself, the effect has to be its own cause which flies in the face of not only logic but science as well; nothing has to create something; it has to exist before it existed; and it has to be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship. This violates the law of non-contradiction in order to create life. And as we said, all non-biblical views of origins violate logic at some point, and more importantly the Word of God, as expressed in Genesis 1:1 and innumerable other places. But, as we’ll see, the utter irrationality of this notion has not prevented it from popping up in various forms and becoming very popular.

Imagine this discussion: 1.“Who made the grass?”  “God did.”…2.”Who made you?” “God did.”…3.”Who made God?”  “God made Himself.”  Sorry, but not even the omnipotent, Living God could create Himself! It’s logically absurd. He’s always been, and He is the Supreme Being, from whom all other being is derivative…including human beings. To be, or not to be..that is the question. Indeed!
During the Enlightenment in the 18th century, the French Encyclopedists (e.g. Diderot, d’Holbach)asserted that the ‘God hypothesis” was no longer needed as a sufficient cause of the universe. In place of God, they posited spontaneous generation as the causal factor behind all reality. Things just simply begin to be.

For example, they noted  that there was a puddle in the road, but soon after mosquitoes were being formed. Hence, it appeared that the insects were spontaneously generating(self-creating). Without the benefit of microscopes many such anomalies must have appeared as mysterious. However, as thinking people, these folks should have remembered the basic maxim-ex nihilo nihil fit—out of nothing, nothing comes, and they should have come to the conclusion: “We don’t know.” But they seized upon these examples because of their anti-God assumptions and extrapolated them backwards to creation—self created.

Today the notion of spontaneous generation has been thoroughly debunked as ludicrous in scientific circles. We now know that there all sorts of microscopic entities that can explain many of the past mysteries. You may recall this being discussed in High School biology.

Surely the notion of spontaneous generation is passé, right? Not so fast because there is the field of physics! One Nobel Prize winning scientist stated that the universe came into existence by a ‘gradual spontaneous generation’! In other words, you can’t get something from nothing quickly but, given enough time, it will happen! Sheesh.This reminds me of the saying: “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” What this Nobel Prize winner is asserting is still self-creation, which is logically absurd. No matter how long the interval, spontaneous generation cannot occur.

The Hubble Telescope has given us astonishingly lovely pictures of God’s cosmos. It has also caused one very famous astrophysicist to say that that 15-18 billion years ago the universe exploded into being. The key word is ‘being’. If had said that 18 billion years ago matter was shaped into its present form, then there would not have been anything logically wrong with his comment (though you many disagree with the time factor) But, my question to this astrophysicist is this: what was there before this explosion? Non-being…nothing? To say that the “universe exploded into BEING” is making an ontological and philosophical statement. If that’s what he is saying, then that is philosophical nonsense. Non-being cannot explode into being. Or, nothing cannot explode into something. Maybe that’s not what he meant, but there are others who would argue in this fashion.

The esteemed Stephen Hawking, leading cosmologist, co-authored “The Grand Design” in which he argued that the universe was self-created. This notion is absurd, as we’ve seen, because it would have to exist before it existed…or there was an effect without a cause. All of his comments about gravity miss the obvious point: where did gravity come from?  If he is going to say that the universe is self-creating then he needs to be stick to it and frankly say that nothing created something…but the most intelligent people can shroud absurdities in so much abstruse language that it sounds profound, when in reality it is absurd nonsense.

The most frequent form of self-creation today is creation by chance. Since I was in college, I developed a fascination with cosmology and cosmogony, but I am not a scientist, nor the son of a scientist! I am definitely not a physicist.  I applaud the developments in the area of theoretical physics.
However, I can observe and analyze the way that they interpret the data and the conclusions drawn(which is often subjective and hidden assumptions peek through)as well as their propositions to see if they are rational. One doesn’t have to be a physicist to see if their propositions are logically absurd or not.

Arthur Kessler stated that the reigning principle of chance in physics made God an anachronism; outdated and unneeded.

Over and over we hear highly intelligent scientists assert that the universe was created by chance. It was created by the impersonal plus time plus chance.

Take an example of flipping a coin. What are the chances of it landing on ‘heads’? Fifty-fifty. But what did ‘chance’ have to do with the outcome of the coin flip? Nothing, it is simply a way of speaking of mathematical possibility.

However, the notion of chance has taken on mythological status—even ontological status. Ontology has to do with being. But when you thing about it, chance is nothing. It is not a thing. It does not have extension or energy. It is no-thing, nothing. Chance has no power because it is ontologically nothing. It has no causal power. Again, chance is merely a way of expressing mathematical probability regarding an event, but it can’t cause anything.

However, many physicists and other scientists assert that chance created the universe! Not a chance! Yet, if you dress your verbiage up in enough abstruse, technical details, as scientists often do, they get away with saying that chance created the universe, when chance can’t even flip a coin!

When scientists state that the universe was created by chance, then they are necessarily implying that it was self-created, which is a logical absurdity.  You may couch it in scientific jargon so that it seems profound, but it isn’t. It grieves my heart to see so many college students mis-led by the logical jibberish of professors that sounds so persuasive to them regarding the origins of reality.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Wrong views of reality and how the universe came into being have to be debunked if we are going to be faithful to Christ. And some views of origins naturally lead to occult activity (e.g. illusion). Hence, we need to lovingly ‘destroy’ arguments raised up against the knowledge of God…but do so with tears.

When I was in college, I coined a term for myself which I wanted to use as rule: seek epistemological humility. It seemed to me that many of my professors were quite the opposite. They were seeking knowledge of God’s world in an autonomous fashion, and that always leads to hubris and irrationality. Autonomous thinking is the attempt to analyze and interpret God’s world apart from God’s Word. Does that sound wise to you? Remember Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom.”

In physics, and in every academic field, it is important to be able to say “I don’t know or I don’t understand” when we bump into a mystery we can’t unravel. In God’s world we should expect and rejoice in mysteries. That is proper epistemological humility before God’s wondrous, and mystery filled creation, which reveals His wisdom and other attributes(Romans 1:18ff). However, it is quite another thing to say, in light of these mysteries: “Nothing is producing this event.” In order to say that, one would have to know all the variables yet unknown to science. In other words, one would have to be omniscient to say: “It had to be nothing that caused that event, because it seems unfathomable and contradictory to me.” That’s not only bad theology, its bad science as well.

Self-creation is absurd because the effect has to precede the cause, or nothing gives rise to something. More profoundly, it is anti-biblical. We know from scripture this blessed truth: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Amen.

Since God is your Creator then you are accountable to Him. And since He is infinitely holy, then we all have fallen short, way short, of His glory.  Your problem is not metaphysical; it is moral and spiritual. You don’t need to overcome your finitude by union with the Absolute. No, we need a Personal Savior from our sins. Jesus died and rose again so that we might have eternal life. We are saved by the finished work of Christ on the cross, plus nothing. Lift up your empty hands of faith today and bow before the Lord as your Savior and Master, and the angels will sing in heaven over your eternal salvation!

Next time we’ll look at reality as self-existent and eternal.

Here is part 3:

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

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