The Untold Story of The Buddha, Part 1

Most of you probably know the story of the Buddha, when he left the castle and his princely upbringing for the first time, and was confronted with the harsh reality of the real world.

First he saw an old man, then a sick man, and then a corpse.

He asked his charioteer, “Who are these people, why did this happen to them, what did they do to deserve this fate?”

Each time, his driver shook his head and looked at him like he was new, “Dude, this happens to everybody.”

The story glosses over another event. He saw two people, talking to each other, nervous and twitching, their eyes darting around.

The Buddha asked, “What is going on over there?”

“Oh, that’s an awkward social interaction?”

“Who does that happen to?”

“Everyone, brother. There is no promise in this world that you’re going to avoid things getting awkward from time to time. Awkward is going to happen.”

So, there you go. old age, sickness, death, ubiquitous awkward social interactions. Now you know. Take it easy on yourself, folks.

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Buddha image by Mark Henson

Mandalas, Monkeys, and Lessons in Impermanance


this picture from moolf

If you are familiar with sand mandalas, you know one of their most important attributes is their impermanence. The monks carefully, painstakingly create the mandala, and then, swoosh, they brush the mandala away. Many people who watch the process feel a great sense of poignancy or loss. Hopefully, at least some gain some insight into anicca, the truth that all things that begin, must end. We are encouraged to realize that our fortunes, our relationships, and our very lives, are no more solid than the colorful pile of dust that remains at the end of the ritual.

I found an unlikely mandala on the internet today, a mandala just as temporary, and no less beautiful as the Tibetan Sand Mandalas. There is a festival at the Buddhist Temples in Lop Buri, Thailand, last Sunday in November. The townspeople offer huge buffets to the plethora of monkeys that roam the temple ground. It is said that offering the food to the monkeys offers great good fortune, perhaps because the monkeys are in some way holy. their behavior during the festival is so similar to that of the Artist Monks. There is another theory that perhaps it is good fortune to feed the monkeys because they are the center of the tourist trade and economy of the area. So, they say thank you to the monkeys, and create another tourist attraction, and perhaps some good karma as well. Everybody’s happy.


this picture from moolf

Many of these buffets are huge, round, patterened pallets of food. Clearly, they share many qualities and principles with mandalas. They are sacred circles and temporary dwellings of the most sacred residents of Lop Buri. And they are impermanant. The monkeys literaly live and eat atop these magnificent structures, as they take them apart, bite by bite. Judging by the pictures and videos, it is a fantastic celebration, and a ritual with a clear, inherent ending. When the food is gone, the party is over.

New Aquisition at the BDLATS

I really enjoy books. I’ve always accumulated them quite easily, read them voraciously, and collected them doggedly. My library reached a new level several years ago when Bhagavan Das asked me to look after a few boxes of his books. There was some good stuff in there, stuff I may not have come across otherwise, and other things that I was familiar with, but just hadn’t got around to accumulating just yet. It was a quantum leap, quite satisfying. I decided to name my library, “The Bhagavan Das Library for Advanced Tantric Studies”. I thought it was official and important enough, and got back to the business of reading and collecting.
The BDLATS had another good day, about a year ago, when our dear friend Paul JJ Alix asked us to care for a portion of his collection for a spell. The excitement was lessened only slightly by the arrival of 11 boxes send C.O.D. I realized that this was the way to go. I stopped borrowing books, insisting that now, I only housed collections.
Well, we had a good day today, at the library. Nothing as fantastic as the collections we obtained from Baba or Paul, but still a solid haul. A Craigs List find. Fifteen books for $40. Mostly Chogyam Trungpa. One book by Musician John Cage. I didn’t bother haggling, and I almost always haggle. For the sport of it.
It was an easy transaction, the gentleman dropped them off at the yoga school, and said he was happy they were going to a good home. I gave him his money, and thanked him.
I have a few of them already, if can guess which ones, I’ll give you one of them as a present. I’ll give you a hint, there are three. (No shipping, you have to come and get it)
Here is the inventory:
Dharma Art (Dharma Ocean Series)
The Lion’s Roar: An Introduction to Tantra (Dharma Ocean Series)
The Heart of the Buddha (Dharma Ocean Series, 1)
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (Shambhala Library)
Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle (Dharma Ocean Series)
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet
Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism
Kundalini: Yoga For The West
Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen
The Masks of God, Vol. 2: Oriental Mythology
The Masks of God, Vol. 3: Occidental Mythology
Silence: Lectures and Writings
Trancending Madness
The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa

The rules:
1) The list of books is on my blog, mainlinesutras.com
2) You may enter once, by email, and guess the three duplicate books.
3) Place your first choice book first
4) The person who guesses the three (or the most) correctly, first gets their first choice book.
5) It will trickle down from there.
6) You must come get your book in person.

Defending the Dharma

While I was googling around today, i found this great blog written by a ‘joyfully earnest catholic’.
In this one post, he writes a fascinating article about how to convert Buddhists To Christianity.
It is fascinating for two reasons. The first being that the author seems to be respectful, sincere, and kind. He is not overtly or intentionally rude or condescending. It is also really interesting because of this person’s misunderstanding of the subtleties of Buddhist Dharma.
In the article, he asks 4 questions that he seems to believe easily prove the superiority of Christianity. I am going to take a few minutes to answer them, as an excercise in understanding, and I will post them later. I would like to encourage you to do the same. Perhaps I’ll even email them to this guy, I’m not sure yet.

a. Dear Buddhist, do you really want to spend so much time trying to be rid of desires when you could just change your desires to be holy, through Christ?
b. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are you going to be rid of the desire not to have desire in the real world?
c. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are your going to live this way in the real world? Christianity offers real peace in the midst of strife, while Buddhism seems to offer the surreal atmosphere of a Zen garden. Is this peace or or stagnation? In the midst of the world’s given disorder and the people in it, is the Buddhist “peace” really possible? Christianity instead offers real and ongoing reconciliation, a peace given and not strived for.

…A gentle clencher: Dear Buddhist, you follow a wise man who never claimed to be God, and yet offers a life system. The Christian follows a man who claimed to be God and offered a life system and eternal salvation as God. If Jesus is who He says He is, He is certainly more likely, as God, to be right.

Theology of The Body website

Sarah Power’s New Book, ‘Insight Yoga’

I haven’t read it yet, because it just came out, but I am very excited to curl up with some tea and delve into Sarah’s written word. I having spent many hours at Sarah’s feet. I find myself consistently astonished and amazed me by Her lucidity. Her ability to describe the spectrum of human experience and the profound importance of simple spiritual practice inspire me greatly. When sitting with her, however, I am able to hear everything she says only once, she invairably goes on to another idea soon enough. It may be one of her ways of teaching impermanance. Im my stubbornness, and my desire to stay with the truths she shares a little bit longer, I have no doubt that I will cling to my copy of ‘Insight Yoga’, and read it again and again and again. I feel very comfortable recommending that you do the same.