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Talmud

IMG_1282 by TikkunGer

Image by TikkunGer via Flickr

The Talmud is the second most important body of writing in Judaism, containing teachings from Palestine and Babylon. It includes the Mishnah (the codification of the oral Torah) and a large body of rabbinical commentary.

Additional commentaries and the code of law and ritual called halakhah were compiled in the latter part of the Middle Ages.

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English: Photo of Exhibit at the Diaspora Muse...

Photo of Exhibit at the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv – Beit Hatefutsot Babylonian Talmud, manuscript, copied by Solomon ben Samson, France, 1342 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Tankha

Tanka painter by Leon Meerson

Tanka painter by Leon Meerson

Tankha are Tibetan and Nepali Buddhist artworks said to assist in the quest for liberation. The visual themes are almost always religious in some fashion. Wikipedia explains:

Thangka perform several different functions. Images of deities can be used as teaching tools when depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha, describing historical events concerning important Lamas, or retelling myths associated with other deities. Devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. ¹

Here are some examples:

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting of ...

Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting of a mandala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal monks preparing the K...

Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal monks preparing the Kalachakra mandala within the pavilion, under thangkas of Padmasambhava, Kalachakra, Lord Buddha, Kalachakra Mandala, and White Tara, prayer area, main shrine, Verizon Center, Washington D.C., USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buddha Amitabha in Tibetan Buddhism, tradition...

Buddha Amitabha in Tibetan Buddhism, traditional Thangka painting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari:...

The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari: भवचक्र; Pali: bhavacakka) or Wheel of Becoming is a symbolic representation of continuous existence proces in the form of a circle, used primarily in Tibetan Buddhism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vajravarahi mandala

Vajravarahi mandala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Description at en.wikipedia.org: "I took ...

Description at en.wikipedia.org: “I took this photo myself in September 1993 and am happy for it to be freely available. John Hill 02:45, 28 January 2007 (UTC) I am sorry – in the original name I gave the date as 1994 by mistake – it was taken during our trip to Tibet in 1993. John Hill (talk) 00:48, 9 January 2008 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: 14th century Tibetan thangka painting...

14th century Tibetan thangka painting of the Mandala of Vajravarahi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Art shop in Kathmandu, Nepal

Art shop in Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Painted Bhutanese Medicine Buddha mandala with...

Painted Bhutanese Medicine Buddha mandala with the goddess Prajnaparamita in center, 19th century, Rubin Museum of Art Bhutanese art is similar to the art of Tibet. Both are based upon Vajrayana Buddhism, with its pantheon of divine beings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the above we can see the visual diversity of the Tankha. The Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung was particularly interested in their mandala qualities. Jung likened the tankha to circular shaped Christian art that he felt was pointing to the same, or a similar phenomenon—the self.

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp 195 – 196.

The reason I say “similar” is because Jung, at some points in his Collected Works and Letters, argues that Christianity differs from Eastern religions. The upwardly skewed symbol of the cross, he felt, indicated an upward bias. Jung once said that Eastern yogis, lamas and saints were “at bottom” of the spiritual change we see in the West.²

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thangka

² I included this quote (and its reference) in an essay for my doctoral studies. The essay, however, is not online, and probably buried deep in a cardboard box. I will find it… soon. :)

Related Posts » Buddhism, Karma, Mandala, Metempsychosis, Moksha, Reincarnation, Samsara


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Tantra

Tantra BH 2007 - Jai Kartar + Carina by Siri Amrit Singh (Alexander Czajkowski)

Tantra BH 2007 – Jai Kartar + Carina by Siri Amrit Singh (Alexander Czajkowski)

Generally a tantra is a spiritual text, “thread,” rule or path with a related discipline. There are many different types of tantras within Hinduism and Buddhism. Most paths share the belief that apparently male and female energies combine to transmute ordinary consciousness to a higher level of spiritual awareness. In Hinduism the right hand path refers mostly to meditation on Siva’s relation to Shakti. In the left hand path, a complex series of rites are performed by an equal number of male and female aspirants. These rites culminate in sexual union in which the male does not ejaculate because semen is believed to contain mystical power, especially when spiritually united with the female’s Shakti.

English: Original Statue of Carl Jung in Mathe...

Original Statue of Carl Jung in Mathew Street, Liverpool, UK. Made of plaster, it was vandalised and replaced in 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

C. G. Jung was interested in the ideas of tantra and monastic celibacy, saying that monks sacrificed the worldly activity of ordinary sex for a rich inner reality. Critics of the idea that sexuality should be sacrificed for a deeper (or higher) spirituality argue that sexuality has been unjustly debased through the years. Some feminist critics also say that many who devalue sexuality never had sex based on genuine love between equal partners. This may be partly true but it also reduces the many sided issue of celibacy into some kind of misogynist hangup. Many saints and yogis, alike, paint a very different picture with regard to the necessity of celibacy in advanced stages of God realization.

Related Posts » Bauls, Chakras, Kundalini, Shapeshifter, Yoga

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Taoism (or Daoism)

Misty mountains by Bill Tyne

Bill Tyne – Misty mountains – Part of the path along Hua Shan (Flower mountain) in China. Hua Shan is one of the five sacred (great) mountains of Taoism – via Flickr

Taoism could be described as an outlook on life that attempts to harmonize the individual will with natural and spiritual forces and influences. Personal thoughts and actions are said to alternately coincide or conflict with the Tao, which translates to the flow of the universe, or in some commentaries, the Will of Heaven.

Ideally, ones lives in wu-wei, which has been translated as “effortless action.” This does not imply inaction, per se. The Taoist can be quite active. But again, this action is in line with the Tao.

The advent of Taoism is usually attributed to two Chinese sages, Lao Tzu (mid fourth-century BCE) and Chuang Tzu (369-286 BCE). However, other Taoist authors are available in translation.

In the poetic Lao Tzu (also called the Tao-te-Ching), its author, Lao Tzu, tells of the 10,000 things (representing the visible world) that synchronously flow with an underlying ground of being. This ground cannot be named but he paradoxically calls it Tao (often pronounced Dow, as in Dow Jones).

Tao-An-kun(陶安公)was a legend of China.This Pict...

Tao-An-kun(陶安公)was a legend of China.This Picture was carried on the book of the name, “Lie-Sien-Chiu-Pai(列仙酒牌)”.This book what I have was published in 1923. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chaung Tzu’s writings are more mystical than Lao Tzu’s. Later developments in Taoism include the use of magic, alchemy and polytheistic worship. These trends were regarded by many Chinese as degradations of the original message—namely, the cultivation of virtue through naturalness and simplicity.

According to Wikipedia,

Popular Taoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as the official head deity. Intellectual (“elite”) Taoists, such as the Celestial Masters sect, usually present Laozi (Laojun, “Lord Lao”) and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon of deities. The pantheon tends to mirror the bureaucracy of Imperial China; deities also may be promoted or demoted for their actions. While a number of immortals or other mysterious figures appear in the Zhuangzi, and to a lesser extent in the Tao Te Ching, these have generally not become the objects of worship.†

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou...

Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although many people idealize Taoism as some kind of neutral, natural “green” path, it’s not all so pretty. Some Taoists, for example, practice the barbaric ritual of animal sacrifice. Again from Wikipedia:

At certain dates, food may be set out as a sacrifice to the spirits of the deceased or the gods, such as during the Qingming Festival. This may include slaughtered animals, such as pigs and ducks, or fruit [emphasis added].†

But it’s not all bad:

Another form of sacrifice involves the burning of Joss paper, or Hell Bank Notes, on the assumption that images thus consumed by the fire will reappear—not as a mere image, but as the actual item—in the spirit world, making them available for revered ancestors and departed loved ones. At other points, a vegan diet or full fast may be observed.†

English: Taoist Priest in Macau, february 2006...

English: Taoist Priest in Macau, february 2006. More photos available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamlung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some writers, such as Alan Watts, have popularized Taoism in the West with books like Tao: The Watercourse Way. Fritzoff Capra, Gary Zukav and several others have followed suit by relating the cosmology of Taoism to sub-atomic physics observations.

In China, itself, Taoism has a strong paranormal edge:

Fortune-telling—including astrology, I Ching, and other forms of divination—has long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuit. Mediumship is also widely encountered in some sects. There is an academic and social distinction between martial forms of mediumship (such as tongji) and the spirit-writing that is typically practiced through planchette writing.†

† All Wikipedia quotes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism

Related Posts » Ancestor Cults, Anthroposophy, Confucianism, Evil, I Ching, Lao-tzu, Pantheism,  Particle-Wave Duality, Reincarnation, Saint, Soul, Spinoza (Baruch), Wu Wei, Yin-Yang


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Russell Targ

Russell Targ @ Naropa by ~C4Chaos

~C4Chaos ~C4無秩序 Russell Targ @ Naropa

Russell Targ (1934 – ) is an American physicist and former laser engineer who became a parapsychologist. Targ now advocates the ideas of non-local consciousness, remote viewing (RV) and unifying mystical love.

The transpersonal and cosmological implications of Targ’s notion of living in peace and love are reminiscent of the Catholic notion of the communion of saints.

His views on Jesus’ teachings as presented in the New Testament, however, are highly selective. And Targ seems to present an overly homogenized view of different world religions.

Targ also says that a belief in God is an unnecessary remnant of antiquated modes of reasoning, implying that anyone can know about God from direct experience. By way of contrast, the New Testament says that those who believe but have not seen are blessed.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Targ gives little, if any, mention to St. Anselm’s ideas of

  • fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding)
  • credo ut intelligam (I believe to understand).¹
Anselm of Canterbury was the first to attempt ...

Anselm of Canterbury was the first to attempt an ontological argument for God’s existence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, Targ believes that the writings of mystics around the world should be taken as a kind of scientific data.

With regard to RV, Targ’s approach differs from those psychics who remain convinced that their distance visions are accurate without attempting any kind of verification. Also, Targ says his RV team got better scientific results when they kept the research environment “fun” and relaxed. Targ admits to making money from RVing future probabilities, but he says that human greed came to interfere with the success of his experiments.²

Targ later used the term Remote Sensing because RV apparently also involves an inner sense of hearing, smell and touch.³

Psychologists David Marks and Richard Kammann criticized Targ’s published support of parapsychology in The Psychology of the Psychic . Some see Targ’s work as pseudoscience, others enthusiastically support his agenda.

¹ Targ is not alone here. Many want to experience first and then have knowledge, or what they believe is knowledge. But in a way, this can be seen as a kind of narrow-mindedness. Some don’t even consider the idea that belief, alone, can be valid; and in some instances, that belief could lead to higher forms of experience and knowledge.

² Thinking Allowed with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, “ESP, Clairvoyance and Remote Perception with Russell Targ.“ According to Anthony C. LoBaido at WorldNetDaily.com and Steve Hammons at JointReconStudyGroup, the CIA has experimented with RV for intelligence gathering. LoBaido also claims that the FBI has adopted RV for the same purposes.

³ The paranormal writer Rosemary Ellen Guiley says that Remote Sensing is a well-documented phenomenon, both in ancient and contemporary times.

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Russell Targ at Twitter


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Tarot

KP - Tarot readings at the cafe by szczel

KP – Tarot readings at the cafe by szczel via Flickr

Rosemary Ellen Guiley says the word tarot comes from the Italian tarocci, meaning ‘triumphs’ or ‘trumps.’¹

Today’s tarot consists of 78 cards divided into major and minor arcanas. The major arcana of 22 cards contains symbolism based on different mythic traditions.

The minor arcana of 56 cards is divided into four suits: Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles. These in turn are separated into King, Queen, Knight and Page.

Believers use the cards for depth psychology, the achievement of goals, divination or, perhaps, some combination of those.

The cards are usually shuffled and placed in one of several different patterns or spreads (e.g. the “Horseshoe,” the “Star,” the “Celtic Cross”). The choice of a spread arguably reflects the dealer’s current state of mind, proficiency level and possibly their unconscious intentions, hopes and desires.

The origins of tarot cards have been variously traced to Hellenistic Egypt, India, Morroco and Atlantis. Guiley says that a French painter, one Jacquemin Grinngonneur, presented cards “that may have been Tarot” to King Charles VI of France in 1392.

My Tarot Decks by Chin

My Tarot Decks by Chin via Flickr

Alfred Douglas says that in 1415, the Duke of Milan had Tarot cards painted for his own personal use. Gordon Melton says the Duke’s cards were precursors to the current Tarot deck. Melton adds that the Tarot was first differentiated from playing cards in the eighteenth-century, mostly due to the efforts of the French Freemason Anntione Court de Gebelin (1719-1784).²

Alphonse-Louis Constant, a.k.a. Eliphas Levi, (1810-1875) wrote extensively about the tarot. Levi planned on becoming a Catholic priest but fell in love, discovered the occult and never looked back. As such, his writings were later incorporated into the practice of magic. He also associated the tarot with the Kabbala.

On this Stuart Gordon says:

Levi developed the pack’s occult connection by associating the card of the Major Arcana with Qabalah, assigning each of the twenty-two trumps to letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with corresponding numerological significances.³

Tarot 12 Le Pendu by Jorge Rangel

Tarot 12 Le Pendu by Jorge Rangel

During this era the tarot was believed to have first been discovered (not devised) in Europe by gypsies, thought to have originated in Egypt–“(e)gyp(t)sy.”

The cards or, at least, the ideas behind them, were apparently preserved by scribes who, up to medieval times, quietly saved a lion’s share of ancient pagan texts, spells and incantations from the ravages of a war-torn Roman Empire and their official condemnation by the Church.4

The obvious influence of pagan Celtic symbolism in the tarot lends some support this view, as do the 22 Major cards corresponding to prominent deities from classical Greek and Roman lore.

In 1910, Arthur Edward Waite with artist Pamela Colman Smith developed a new tarot deck, known today as the Rider-Waite Tarot. Shortly afterward, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) emphasized the tarot’s alleged Egyptian origin, devising a deck with commentary called The Book of Thoth, which rivaled in popularity Waite and Coleman’s tarot.

In the 1950’s, the Jungian writer Marie Louise von Franz suggested that the tarot parallels steps along the individuation process, a view shared by many today.

¹ Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience (1991)

² Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (1992)

³ The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Headline (1992, p, 647)

4 Arnold J. Toynbee and others say organized Christianity effectively replaced pagan Rome as the creator of a persecutory culture of fear.

» Review – Tarot Stripped Bare (DVD), Magic, Odin

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Taurus

Painting Jautis (Taurus) in the twelve-paiting...

Painting Jautis (Taurus) in the twelve-paiting cycle Zodiakas (Zodiac). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taurus (April 20-May 21) is the second and a spring sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the bull and associated with the planetary ruler of Venus. Its element is Earth.

Taurus originally was associated with the constellation of the same name but “in western astrology, this sign is no longer aligned with the constellation as a result of the precession of the equinoxes.”¹

The bull symbol is based on ancient Mesopotamian astrology and Greek myth.² It symbolizes power, materialism, stubbornness and practicality. From Venus, Taurus is said to obtain a fierce loyalty to loved ones.

Henry Fonda and Queen Elizabeth II fall under this sign. » Astrology

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurus_(astrology).

² Ibid.

Taurus at Twitter » https://twitter.com/search?q=taurus&src=typd

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