INTERFAITH, INTERRACIAL, INTERCULTURAL PRAYER FOR PEACE

INTERFAITH, INTERRACIAL, INTERCULTURAL PRAYER FOR PEACE
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Over 500 to embrace Hinduism in Valsad of Gujarat: VHP

SURAT: Vishwa Hindu Parishad will hold ghar vapasi (religious conversion) event on Saturday in remote tribal village Arnai of Kaprada taluka in Valsad district of Gujarat. VHP claimed that around 100 families are to participate in the event. More than 500 individuals will convert to Hinduism from other religions, VHP office bearers claimed. Total 150 families participated in Ghar Vapasi event in Barumal village of neighbouring Dharampur taluka in November. For the event a samiyana has been erected in the village Arnai. Around 150 office bearers and volunteers of VHP were actively working in Kaprada taluka to organise the event in December. Sources claimed that the event has been intentionally scheduled around Christmas and New Year celebrations. To avoid any tension in the region police are keeping close watch on the event and related activities. At the event a yagna will be performed in presence of the participating families. Each participant will be given one photo of God Ram and a Rudraksh Mala. "The participating families will be given only a photo and a Rudraksh Mala. Ganga jal will be sprinkled on them to purify them during the yagna," said Ajit Solanki, secretary of Valsad district VHP and regional in-charge of VHP's Dharma Prasar Samiti. "Preparations were on since last few weeks to organise the event. We held similar event in November and 150 families returned to Hinduism. We organised religious lecture and Bhajan events in past few weeks to educate the locals that they were originally Hindu," said Solanki. "We are keeping close watch on the event organised. So far there is not disturbance in the area," said Nipurna Toravane, superintendent of police, Valsad.

ISLAM Scholars warn IS bec"It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, diplomats, journalists, aid workers". It is forbidden in Islam to harm

Conservative Muslims refute the violence of IS Does Islamic theology have the argumentative resources to counter the claim that violence perpetrated in the name of Islam is covered by verses from the Koran? Yes, says the Islam expert Katajun Amirpur, pointing to an open letter from Muslim scholars Politicians and journalists are still calling on Muslims to distance themselves from the terror being perpetrated by Islamic State. However, largely unnoticed by them, practically all relevant Muslim associations, and above all Islamic authorities – including those who are decidedly traditional and conservative – have condemned this organisation as barbaric and un-Islamic. If critics of Islam ignore this and claim that there is a proximity between basic principles of Islam and IS terrorism, then their image of Islam is in some way similar to that of the fundamentalists. This image has very little to do with the Islam of the majority of Muslims and their authorities. In this regard, a letter to the leader of the terrorist organisation published a few weeks ago is particularly revealing: http://lettertobaghdadi.com/. It was authored by more than 120 notable scholars, who for the most part come from a conservative spectrum of Islam. Therefore, the detailed examination of IS ideology and its references to the Koran in this letter was not undertaken by modern reformers or Islamic enlightenment thinkers, but by Islamic authorities operating within a decidedly orthodox thought structure. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawqi Allam, is among the authors, as is Sheikh Ahmad al-Kubaisi, the founder of the Union of Religious Scholars (Ulema) in Iraq. They also include scholars from Chad and Nigeria to Sudan and Pakistan. They obviously feel the need to position Islamic theology in clear opposition to the terrorists. What other explanation could there be for scholars writing to terrorists? The letter is 25 pages long and is addressed to: "Dr Ibrahim Awwad al-Badri, alias 'Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi'" and to the fighters and followers of the self-declared Islamic State. But the people it is really speaking to are undoubtedly the Muslims whom the authors fear could be ensnared by IS propaganda. The Koran (photo: AFP) In the open letter to the leader of IS and his followers, 126 notable scholars of Islam point to 24 offences committed by IS, warning them that "It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers" and "It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any 'People of the Scripture'" False caliph Al-Baghdadi, who was born in Iraq in 1971 and calls himself "Abu Bakr" after Islam's first caliph and "al-Baghdadi" as a way of asserting his claim to Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid caliphs, is not addressed as a caliph by the writers of this letter. The reason for this, according to the authors, is that in Islamic law, the declaration of a caliphate – in other words, the appointment of the political successor to the Prophet – can only happen with the consent of all Muslims. The text summarises 24 offences committed by the so-called "Islamic State": "It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers." Or: "It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any 'People of the Scripture'." A detailed justification is provided for each statement. For example, the letter says that it is the duty of all Muslims to view the Yazidis as "People of the Scripture". Accordingly, it is illegitimate to declare them unbelievers or even treat them as outlaws. Why? "From the legal perspective of Shari'ah they are Magians, because the Prophet said: 'Treat them as you treat People of the Scripture'." The origin of these quotes is meticulously outlined in footnotes. In this case, it is the Hadith of Imam Malik and Imam al-Shafi'I, two of the four founders of the four Sunni legal schools. In addition to this, the authors explain the prerequisites for Islamic jurisdiction. In doing so, they are indirectly denying the self-declared caliph any kind of authority and competence to make legally binding statements. A Yemeni man studying the Koran in Sanaa (photo: Reuters) The authors of the open letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi state unequivocally why it is wrong to simply pick out one verse from the Koran to justify Islamic States' acts of terror. They also indirectly deny Baghdadi any kind of authority and competence to make legally binding statements The Koran needs to be interpreted correctly According to the authors, the methods of interpretation set out by God in the Koran and by the Prophet in the Hadiths say: everything that has been revealed on a particular issue must be considered in its entirety. The focus cannot be on individual fragments. This method comes from the Scripture itself, among other things from the following verse of the Koran: "What, do you believe in part of the Book and disbelieve in part?" (Al-Baqarah 2:85). When all the relevant passages are brought together, the "general" has to be separated from the "specific" and the "conditional" from the "unconditional". The unequivocal verse must likewise be separated from the ambiguous. Then the "reasons and circumstances for revelation", the "asbab al-nuzul", for all these verses as well as all the other conditions for interpretation as established by the "classical" scholars must be factored in. And only then – with recourse to all the available written sources – can laws be made or interpretations given. It is, in short, not permitted to quote a verse without considering the whole Koran and the Hadith. The authors of the letter describe it as an obligation to bring all texts into harmony with each other as far as possible, and with this in mind, they invoke Imam al-Shafi'i and a universal consensus among all scholars of legal theory. In this context, the authors of the letter also examine the verses of the Koran that appear to legitimate violence: "Permission [to fight] is granted to those who fight because they have been wronged" (Al Hajj, 22:39). Sheikh Shawqi Allam (photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Julien Warnand) In the introduction to his critique of Islamic State entitled "The Ideological Battlefield", Sheikh Shawqi Allam (pictured here), the Grand Mufti of Egypt and one of the authors of the open letter to the leader of IS, writes "The rise of ideological extremism in the Muslim world has led to the widespread view of Islam as a religion of violence, retribution and war. This is in complete opposition to the truth of our religion" Frequently cited surah This and similar verses of the second surah are the ones that are most often quoted – by critics of Islam in a negative way, and by jihadists in a positive way – to prove the propensity for violence that is supposedly inherent in Islam. The scholars, however, draw exclusively on a particular event, the "reasons and circumstances for revelation". In this regard, the verse only corresponds to the following specific political situation: in the year 630, the Prophet marched into Mecca to fight the heathen people there, thereby breaking a peace treaty that he had agreed himself two years previously. His action therefore required some legitimation, which the verse provides. What was meant here was that the people of Mecca could be fought, because they had previously "sinned" against the Prophet's community. They had driven out his followers and wanted to kill him. Consequently, the verse does not yield a general instruction for all Muslims. The authors of the letter expressly state: "Thus, jihad is tied to safety, freedom of religion, having been wronged, and eviction from one's land. These two verses were revealed after the Prophet and his companions suffered torture, murder, and persecution for thirteen years at the hands of the idolaters. Hence, there is no such thing as offensive, aggressive jihad just because people have different religions or opinions." This interpretation is by no means modern or inspired by the West. The method being used here has existed in Islamic theology for centuries. A whole branch of it is concerned with the aforementioned reasons and circumstances for revelation. In other words, there has always been the assumption of a kind of dialectical relationship between text and addressee, and the context in which a verse was revealed was always examined in order to better understand its meaning and its scope. An individual case such as the one described in this surah cannot serve as a precedent for other apparently similar situations. Islamic law may be essentially shaped by thinking that relies on precedent, but as the authors of the letter say, "It is not permissible to invoke a specific verse from the Koran as applying to an event that has occurred 1,400 years after the verse was revealed." IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (photo: picture-alliance/AP) The false caliph: "Al-Baghdadi, who was born in Iraq in 1971, and calls himself "Abu Bakr" after Islam's first caliph, [...] is not addressed as a caliph by the writers of this letter. The reason for this, according to the authors, is that in Islamic law, the declaration of a caliphate – in other words, the appointment of the political successor to the Prophet – can only happen with the consent of all Muslims," writes Katajun Amirpur Probematic aspects As the letter shows, Islamic theology has sufficient argumentative resources to counter the arguments of the so-called "Islamic State". All the same, the approach taken by the authors of the letter still has its problematic aspects from a liberal point of view. For example, the authors stand by the validity of corporal punishment, even though they tie its use to strict criteria. Likewise, the authors of the letter state their opposition to sexual violence when they criticise the reintroduction of slavery, and to denying women their rights, but one searches in vain for an endorsement of equal rights. Where women are concerned, the authors of the letter still obviously cling to traditional structures. Further thought is necessary here. Clear positions must be adopted, and a statement should be made that in the twenty-first century, corporal punishment and sexual discrimination are incompatible not only with Western values, but with the ethos of Islam. Other thinkers have nailed their colours to the mast. Iranian women's rights campaigners, for example, are calling for equal rights, and using the spirit of the Koran in their arguments. Historically, they say, the Koran initially improved the situation of women, but it did not lead to entirely equal rights, which would not have been communicable to the society of that time. All the same, justice can be clearly seen as the goal of the prophecy. And in this spirit, equal rights must be achieved today. Others, like the Pakistani Fazlur Rahman, have developed an interpretive method for transferring the message of the Koran to the present day. Rahman calls it "double movement": you must first study the context in which the Koran was proclaimed; then you will understand the original message. In a second movement, you can extrapolate from this the principles and values that could count as norms today in the spirit of the Koran. Fazlur Rahman, and with him the Ankara school whose modern Koran hermeneutics have been very influenced by him, go much further in terms of content than the traditionally-minded writers of the letter. For example, Rahman reaches a pluralistic theology of religions through his "double movement" approach. Even so, the authors of the letter stipulate a link between revelation and history, and insist on the necessity of subjecting even seemingly unambiguous verses from the Koran to a detailed linguistic and historical interpretation in the framework of the overall context, instead of simply taking them literally. In contrast to this, the process of cherry-picking individual verses from the Koran in order to prove a thesis formulated in advance, as practised by fundamentalists and some critics of Islam, is simply grotesque from the viewpoint of Islamic theology, and a sign of ignorance. Katajun Amirpur © Qantara.de 2014 Translated from the German by Ruth Martin Dr Katajun Amirpur is a Professor of Islamic Studies at Hamburg University. Her book "Den Islam neu denken. Der Dschihad für Demokratie, Freiheit und Frauenrechte" (Rethinking Islam: the jihad for democracy, freedom and women's rights) was published by C. H. Beck in 2013. Source: http://en.qantara.de/content/islam-and-violence-conservative-muslims-refute-the-violence-of-is

CHINA embraced Buddhism to help persuade its citizens to care about the environment

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro that story. A version of his report appeared previously on “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” and was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Face to Face Media. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Liu Jianqiang, lifelong atheist and investigative environmental journalist, is becoming a Buddhist. His first expose was on illegal dam construction on the upper Yangtze River. Over the last 10 years, it’s led to national attention, a job firing and now burnout. LIU JIANQIANG, Journalist (through interpreter): As an environmentalist, every day what we see is polluted air, polluted rivers, and the slaughter of wild animals. This kind of negative energy attacks us every day. Where do we draw our strength from? FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He’s one of millions of Chinese returning to Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian temples that have at times in the past been condemned by the government. A little more than four decades ago, during China’s Cultural Revolution, many Buddhist temples like this one in central Beijing were destroyed or defaced. Today, these temples are alive with worshipers. By some accounts, one out of every five Chinese call themselves Buddhists. Some scholars say this search for faith is linked to China’s massive environmental problems. MARTIN PALMER, Alliance of Religions and Conservation: In a world in which capitalism and socialism and consumerism have created a kind of industrial behemoth that is just thundering ahead, that is draining life out of the villages. That is polluting the soil and the water and the air, you have a heartless world. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Martin Palmer, shown in a Chinese TV broadcast here, is based in the U.K., but has been working in China nearly 20 years, urging religious groups to respond to this crisis and to encourage conservation. In 2006, he realized this message was also being heard by the Communist Party. MARTIN PALMER: I was called in for a meeting in 2006 with the minister for the environment and the minister for religion, and they were very frank. They said the single-child policy has created the most selfish generation in China’s history, because each child has been brought up as the center of attention for the family. Nothing is too much to give to them. And these two Communist Party officials said we want the religions to help us bring compassion back. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But what is it that finally persuades an individual like Liu Jianqiang to cross the gap from atheism to Buddhism, in his case the smaller Tibetan branch, which has about five million adherents? Shi Lihong is a journalist and filmmaker. She’s known Liu for more than 10 years, but she was still surprised by his decision. SHI LIHONG, Filmmaker: When I heard that Jianqiang was converted I was really shocked. You know, our generation was raised as atheists through childhood. We were taught that religious beliefs are superstitious. So it’s very hard for me to believe in any religion. I feel there is a huge gap. I was very curious. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To satisfy her curiosity, she took a film crew to the highlands of western China, an area adjoining the autonomous region more commonly known outside China as Tibet. It’s rich in biodiversity that conservation groups say is greatly imperiled. This is also home to the headwaters of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, quite literally a lifeline to hundreds of millions of people downstream. A prominent person in her documentary is a monk named Tashi Sange. He explains how conservation and respect for all living things has long been an intrinsic part of life here. TASHI SANGE, Tibetan Monk (through interpreter): Mama and papa told me in secret that this is a sacred lake. But they said, don’t ever talk about it openly, because we couldn’t talk about gods. They do not exist in the Communist Party’s eyes; they are superstitions. If anyone talked about a god they would be beaten, so we wouldn’t dare to say it. JEFFREY BROWN: But through thick and thin in a country that’s seen so much political upheaval and social change, those fundamental values have endured, he says. TASHI SANGE (through interpreter): No matter if you are a newborn or an 80-year-old, you are all protectors. You are all responsible. And you have the responsibility. All life should be protected. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Back in China’s capital, Liu Jianqiang, guided by the Tibetan monk Qiamei Rinpoche, says his spiritual journey has changed the way he sees the world and his whole approach to writing. LIU JIANQIANG (through interpreter): Before, I only wrote from a legal point of view. It’s wrong, this is a national park, and how can you destroy it? Now when I write, in my mind what I thought is that they are fishes, they are millions of lives. I can clearly see my change. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: China’s omnipresent and officially atheist Communist Party appears to be actively supporting traditional culture as a way to lead people back toward a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Party official Dai Binnguo addressed this recent gathering. DAI BINNGUO, Chinese Politician (through interpreter): Traditional Chinese culture promotes harmony between man and nature and encourages limited consumption and a simple way of life. We support this. We don’t oppose taking from nature. We do oppose overexploitation. We want gold mountain, but we also want clear water and green mountain. Traditional Chinese culture promotes harmony between man and nature in a simple way of life. We support this. We don’t oppose taking from nature. We oppose overexploitation. We want gold mountain but we also want clear water and green mountain. MARTIN PALMER: My sense is that the partnership between religion and government around environment is only going to get stronger and stronger. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A partnership he hopes will help lower the heavy environmental price China is paying for its economic progress of recent decades. For the “NewsHour,” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Beijing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota. Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/can-buddhist-values-offer-non-religious-china-a-greener-path/

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dec 21 Global Synchronized Meditation. SOLSTICE - 3:03pm PDT, 11:03pm GMT for healing and co-creation

OIN US DEC 21 Global Attunement for Peace on Sunday December 21, 2014 from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM PST. This is an online event A global teleconference/webcast to co-create a field of peace for personal and collective healing. Please click for the Online event access: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/131450 Skype: 1-724-444-7444; Call ID 131450; Personal ID 1#. Check the start time in your timezone here: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html Global Synchronized Meditation. AT THE EXACT POINT OF SOLSTICE - 3:03pm PDT, 11:03pm GMT Please join us on December 21 for the next UNIFY Global Synchronized moment in honor of the Solstice and World Spirit Day. In our Attunement on December 21, we will co-create and plant magical seeds of peace in ourselves, our families, and in places around the planet in need of healing. We will then harvest the collective wisdom of our group through the sharing of individual insights. The process offers a beautiful way to help you access the deeper dimensions of this sacred time of year. In conjunction with our partners The Gaiafield Project and BeThePeace, we will be co-hosting an online Attunement that will occur via teleconference/audio webcast. Click here for more information: http://tinyurl.com/gapdec21land

Monday, December 8, 2014

PRAYERS CAN HELP SAVE A COUNTRY FROM MORE DISASTERS: Pres Aquino to ask Pope to pray for Philippines

Prayers for the country as it is pummeled by typhoon after typhoon. This is what President Benigno Aquino III said he would ask Pope Francis when the Pontiff visits the country in January. “We are visited by so many typhoons and they come at very unseasonal moments and they’re very strong,” Mr. Aquino said at the Bulong Pulungan forum, when asked what he would ask the Pope to pray for. The highlight of the Pope’s trip is a visit to Tacloban City, ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year. Mr. Aquino said the country had endured a “cycle of destruction and reconstruction” for years. He stressed the government’s goal was to reconstruct better. Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/115129/aquino-to-ask-pope-to-pray-for-ph/#ixzz3LMe8z2os Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

BRAZIL: Welcome to PEACE VIGIL!!!

Celebrate Start of Winter and Time of Rebirth on Dec 21. Join Prayers for Peace worldwide

The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Infuse the Earth with Prayers for Peace. A 24 Hour Internet Marathon REGISTER HERE: http://www.worldpeace.org/activities_teleconference.php We invite you to pray any time within the 24 hours of this day. Prayers for Peace every 30 minutes around the world. Visual and Audio World Peace Prayer Ceremony You can access right from your computer! English: http://infinitelove.d-j.jp/peaceceremony/ Japanese: http://infinitelove.d-j.jp/peaceceremonyjp/ Global Link Connections are hosted by The World Peace Prayer Society to bring the global community together in simultaneous prayers for peace no matter where you live in the world. THE WORLD PEACE PRAYER CEREMONY WINTER SOLSTICE DAY 24 Hour Internet PRAYER Marathon Commune in the spirit of Unity and Rebirth on December 21st ~ 23:03 UTC/GMT December 22nd in Japan

Monday, December 1, 2014

MUSLIMS & JEWS: Religious leaders asked both sides to back away from a blood feud based on religion

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: “A religious war is very difficult to extinguish. A political war is manageable in comparison,” said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch from Western Wall. But the term “religious war” being bandied about begs the questions of what is a religious war, what constitutes a religious war and how is it different from a standard, run-of-the-mill, everyday war. Political analysts said it is involved a perceived threat within a religious context. Muslims and Jews feel threatened by a possible loss of control over sites that both consider sacred. Both turned houses of worship into battlegrounds. Israeli police fired guns at Palestinians in the al-Aqsa’s mosque compound, and Palestinians killed Jewish worshipers during prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue. “A religious war usually is motivated by a belief that God is on your side. God is a very potent actor in international relations. You are ready to make great sacrifices. You have great patience, which means you are ready to fight for a long time if God is on your side,” said Professor Efraim Inbar, a Middle East analyst. Historically, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been considered a clash of religions, but the focus has been on property and politics. Because this news conflict erupted over access to religious sites, the stakes are higher and the emotions are more intense. http://www.cctv-america.com/2014/11/27/religion-makes-israeli-palestinian-conflict-more-volatile

TIBET: 3 Hour Shamanic Chakra Cleanse: Tibetan Music, Healing Music, Meditation...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

UPDATE: From religious conflict to an interfaith community: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

BusinessMirror - From religious conflict to an interfaith community: "“Religion rejects conflict. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion.”

Based in Vienna, Kaiciid (the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) is comprised of a Council of Parties made up of the governments of Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia, with the Holy See as a founding observer.

Its board of directors includes religious leaders from five leading world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism), who, together, seek to foster a bottom-up process of engaging and empowering local faith-based organizations and religious leaders in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and development.

The center estimates that eight out of 10 people in the world identify with some form of organized religion and almost all of them are likely to classify themselves as peace-loving individuals.

Sadly, according to bin Muaammar, politicians and extremists have “hijacked” the inherently tolerant and peaceful nature of religious practice for their own—often violent and divisive—ends.

Only through sustained dialogue, he said, can people be empowered to overcome their fear of the “other,” and work toward a more inclusive and tolerant world.

Kaiciid’s entrance onto the global stage is highly opportune, according to a new study by the independent Pew Research Center—which covered 198 countries, accounting for 99.5 percent of the world’s population—social hostilities involving religion are on the rise in every continent, except the Americas.

The report found that “the number of countries with religion-related terrorist violence has doubled over the past six years. In 2012 religion-related terrorist violence took place in one in five countries (20 percent), up from 9 percent in 2007.”

Half of all countries in the Middle East and North Africa experienced sectarian violence in 2012, bringing the total global average of countries facing such hostilities to 18 percent, up from 8 percent in 2007.

In a single year between 2011 and 2012, the number of countries experiencing a very high level of religious hostilities went from 14 to 20. Six of those countries—Syria, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lank and Burma—experienced relatively few hostilities in 2011 compared to 2012.

Things also worsened for religious minorities, according to the study, with 47 percent of the countries studied reporting incidents of targeted abuse of minorities, up from 38 percent in 2011.

“In Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, for example, monks attacked Muslim and Christian places of worship, including reportedly attacking a mosque in the town of Dambulla in April 2012 and forcibly occupying a Seventh-day Adventist church in the town of Deniyaya and converting it into a Buddhist temple in August 2012,” the report’s authors said."



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UPDATE: Ghana rejects religious conflict claims by asylum seekers in Brasil

Ghana rejects religious conflict claims by asylum seekers | Sport | Reuters: "Federal police in Caxias do Sul told Agencia Brasil they expected more than 1,000 Ghana fans to request asylum after entering the South American country on tourist visas to attend the month-long soccer tournament which ends on July 13.

However, Ghana's Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said he was surprised that they had raised the issue of religious conflict as the reason they wanted asylum.

"It is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world. There is no religious conflict of any nature in Ghana," he told Reuters.

Ghana prides itself on its democratic stability and social harmony relative to other West African states."



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Monday, July 7, 2014

ISLAM: Radical onslaught: Body count mounts as Islamic fanatics wage global war | NEWS.GNOM.ES

Radical onslaught: Body count mounts as Islamic fanatics wage global war | NEWS.GNOM.ES: "From the Middle East to Russia, and from Africa to Asia, the bloody tide of jihad is rising as increasingly fragmented terror groups battle governments and each other for power and property.

Daily reports of the terror group Islamic States of Iraq and Syria/Levant, or ISIS, advancing toward a caliphate in Iraq have supplanted equally horrific news from Nigeria, where Boko Haram slaughtered schoolboys and kidnapped girls to sell into slavery. All the while, terror attacks in the name of Islam have continued in China, where members of the Islamic sect known as Uighurs are suspected of mass stabbing attacks, and Kenya, where the Muslim terrorist group al-Shabaab murdered 48 people a week ago.



 Many of the attacks are from Al Qaeda splinter groups or loose affiliates seeking to spread the message of Shariah law and hatred of the West. What the terrorism hierarchy loses in central coordination, it more than makes up for in global reach."



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HINDUISM: Encyclopaedia of Hinduism’ released. The basic tenet of Hinduism is happiness, health and enlightenment for everyone and suffering, pain and agony for none.

‘Encyclopaedia of Hinduism’ released - The Hindu: "The basic tenet of Hinduism is happiness, health and enlightenment for everyone and suffering, pain and agony for none, said President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday after receiving a copy of ‘Encyclopaedia of Hinduism’ at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The President complimented Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji of Parmarth Niketan, the founder chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation that has brought out the encyclopaedia.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Mukherjee said: “If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say, search after truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu. Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth… Hinduism is the religion of truth. Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of truth we have not known.”

Among the dignitaries present were BJP leader L.K. Advani, Union Minister of Law Ravi Shankar Prasad and Union Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharti."



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BUDDHISM: The Buddhist Punk Reforming Drug Rehab

CLICK LINK TO READ FULL ARTICLE: The Buddhist Punk Reforming Drug Rehab - The Daily Beast: "The Refuge Recovery meeting starts at 10 a.m. Sitting on graffitied, beaten-to-death folding chairs and couches that a former organizer calls “disgusting,” there’s no getting around the smell: an olfactory footprint that’s the culmination of decades of sweaty mosh pits as well as a hint of urine that may or may not be coming from the gender neutral bathrooms, which are next to massive, curbside blue recycle bins that look out of place indoors.

Refuge Recovery is a lot like an AA meeting minus mentions of Him, God, or a higher Power. Instead of 12 steps, there’s a focus on Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, the  Eightfold Path, and community—what Buddhists call “sangha.” These meetings are the brainchild of Noah Levine, a Buddhist instructor, author, and counselor in Los Angeles."



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CHRISTIANITY: CATHOLIC: Pope to visit Philippines disaster victims by January 2015

Pope to visit Philippines disaster victims - Yahoo News Philippines: "Pope Francis is to visit the Philippines, Asia's bastion of the Catholic faith, in January 2015 to comfort victims of disasters including Super Typhoon Haiyan, local church leaders said Monday.
Specific details of the trip were not released, but Manila's Archbishop Luis Tagle said the pope viewed Asia as crucial in spreading the faith.
Tagle said the pontiff had told him during a recent meeting at the Vatican that "Asia is important for evangelisation".
"The Christian population of Asia may be numerically small but it is significant," he quoted the pope as saying.
The planned visit comes as the Philippines struggles to recover from a series of disasters in 2013 that claimed thousands of lives."



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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Join! PEACE VIGIL 2014 UN International Day of Peace, Wellness for Peace...





We need you! Because you've got the principles, styles and passion for peace.



Let's Celebrate World Peace Day on Sept 21, 2014

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

CHRISTIANITY: CATHOLICS: Pope excommunicates mafia, urges expulsion from clan heartland

Pope excommunicates mafia, urges expulsion from clan heartland - Yahoo News Philippines: "The pope's trip to what is the second-poorest region in the south of Italy aims not only to remember child victims but also highlight the problems the young have in escaping the pervasive grip of the wealthy 'Ndrangheta.
Unemployment among the under-25s in the region stands at 56.1 percent -- the highest in Italy in 2013 according to Eurostat -- and local mobsters thrive by offering idle youngsters work, luring them into their networks.
According to Save the Children Italy, more than a third of all families in the impoverished south live in communities known to be under the control of clans.
- Youths 'must say no' -
Many of the inmates the pope met at Castrovillari were serving time for mafia-related crimes."



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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Peace Vigil 2014

.नमस्ते Namaste The Spirit in me respects the spirit in you ........ Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh  السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ  May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you..............Peace be with you............. Amituofo    Amitabha Buddha Let's do an act of goodness today!......... Let's Pray the Prayer for Peace wherever you are..........God bless your day whatever your mood maybe. May the angels guide you and protect you from harm. If you are travelling, may you find the road and arrive at your destinations safely If trouble comes along the way, may it turn into blessings favorable to all. May you meet new friends and may the old ones stay. May the love of our Divine Creator fill your emptiness. and may you feel it in the vastness of the universe. If u get so tired today, may you find time to look up at the sky, feel the air, recharge and rejuvenate. And in all the things you did today, may your faith increase. May you be inspired by the diversity of people's personalities, and be grateful that you were granted the chance to lead them. And at the end of the day tonight as you rest, may you be thankful for all the blessings that this day had; and pray to forgive those who offended you. Amen."

HOW WILL YOU WORK FOR PEACE? JOIN! PEACE VIGIL
LET'S CONTINUE TO EDUCATE, INNOVATE AND INITIATE PEACE!
We educate Wellness for Peace Education at home, at school and at workplace
We innovate Businesses to Sustainable Ecology for Climate Change Peace Building
We initiate Prayers for Peace who ever you are, where every you are, and whatever you do!

JOIN! PEACE VIGIL! PLEASE CALL 63-926-678-7938. E-mail: wellnesspilipinas@yahoo.com.ph
Thank you! Peace & Love! God bless you!

Ambassador Zara Jane Juan
Internet Journalist & Peace Ambassador, UN International Day of Peace, Sailing for Peace Worldwide
Author & Resource Speaker, Wellness for Peace Education on Climate Change
Proponent, Climate Change Peace Building Adaptation Worldwide Campaign

Friday, June 20, 2014

Beautiful Islamic Call To Prayer

.नमस्ते Namaste The Spirit in me respects the spirit in you ........ Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh  السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ  May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you..............Peace be with you............. Amituofo    Amitabha Buddha Let's do an act of goodness today!......... Let's Pray the Prayer for Peace wherever you are..........God bless your day whatever your mood maybe. May the angels guide you and protect you from harm. If you are travelling, may you find the road and arrive at your destinations safely If trouble comes along the way, may it turn into blessings favorable to all. May you meet new friends and may the old ones stay. May the love of our Divine Creator fill your emptiness. and may you feel it in the vastness of the universe. If u get so tired today, may you find time to look up at the sky, feel the air, recharge and rejuvenate. And in all the things you did today, may your faith increase. May you be inspired by the diversity of people's personalities, and be grateful that you were granted the chance to lead them. And at the end of the day tonight as you rest, may you be thankful for all the blessings that this day had; and pray to forgive those who offended you. Amen."


HOW WILL YOU WORK FOR PEACE? JOIN! PEACE VIGIL
LET'S CONTINUE TO EDUCATE, INNOVATE AND INITIATE PEACE!
We educate Wellness for Peace Education at home, at school and at workplace
We innovate Businesses to Sustainable Ecology for Climate Change Peace Building
We initiate Prayers for Peace who ever you are, where every you are, and whatever you do!

JOIN! PEACE VIGIL! PLEASE CALL 63-926-678-7938. E-mail: wellnesspilipinas@yahoo.com.ph
Thank you! Peace & Love! God bless you!

Ambassador Zara Jane Juan
Internet Journalist & Peace Ambassador, UN International Day of Peace, Sailing for Peace Worldwide
Author & Resource Speaker, Wellness for Peace Education on Climate Change
Proponent, Climate Change Peace Building Adaptation Worldwide Campaign

Monday, June 16, 2014

PRAYER to Promote Peace in Israel & Palestine: Pope Francis, Shimon Peres, Israeli Pres & Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Pres pray together June 8

Peace Prayers at the Vatican: "Pope Francis welcomed the presidents with an embrace at his residence, then briefly spoke with each one separately. Peres and Abbas greeted each other with a kiss. This event was the first public meeting between the two presidents in over a year. The Archbishop of Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, along with other Jewish, Christian and Muslim representatives joined Pope Francis and the presidents in the prayer which was intermixed with music performed by a string ensemble. The gathering took place at 7 p.m. in the gardens of the Vatican near St. Peter’s Basilica. This location was chosen due to its neutrality as there was an absence of religious imagery and symbols. Each of the prayers were conducted in the chronological order of the establishment of the religions. They began with thanking God for his creation, followed by repenting for the division between the people of the two countries and ended with asking God to bestow peace upon the Holy Land. Both Peres and Abbas made statements in which they expressed their aspirations for peace among the people Israel and Palestine."



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CHRISTIANITY: Catholics' Pope Francis fired the entire board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog

Cleaning Up the Vatican - NYTimes.com: "The body known as Rome’s Financial Information Authority (F.I.A.) supervises everything from the Vatican Bank to the real estate of the Holy See, its staff salaries and even the Vatican pharmacy. Its five Italian members were due to serve until 2016 when Francis asked them to resign early — to be replaced by an international team of financial experts that includes Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, the man who turned around the Singapore economy, and Juan Zarate, a former financial security adviser to President George W. Bush.

The drastic move came after months of infighting between the old guard and the F.I.A.’s director, René Brülhart, a Swiss anti-money-laundering expert, charged with cleaning up one of the world’s most secretive banks, which has assets worth more than $8 billion. A former head of Liechtenstein’s financial intelligence unit, he found his reforms continually frustrated by an old-boy network. He complained to the pope, who swept aside the obstacle in a single move."



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ISLAM Heading to Brazil FIFA World Cup to provide accurate information about Islam to hundreds of thousands of football fans

'Why Islam' Heading to Brazil - Global - News - OnIslam.net: "CAIRO - A leading American Muslim group has announced plans for a special da`wah mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil, during the FIFA World Cup from June 12 through July 9, to provide accurate information about Islam to hundreds of thousands of football fans.

Heading to Sao Paulo, WhyIslam, the largest grassroots da`wah project in North America, had many goals in mind to serve Islam and Muslims.

Setting their goals on thier website, the da`wah project managers stated that they wanted to “convey precise and authentic information about Islam through simple, effective, and innovative means of communication”.

Other goals included, “to collaborate with local organizations to strengthen da`wah efforts in Brazil and to inspire the rest of the world/Muslims by demonstrating the importance of da`wah.”

In Sao Paulo, the largest city in Southern America and the world’s 7th and the largest city by population, the Muslim group choose "



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BUDDHISM: Happy Saga Dawa Duchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day May 29 - June 27

Happy Saga Dawa Duchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day: "Saga Dawa is the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, this year falling between May 29 and June 27. It is the holiest time of the year for Tibetan Buddhists.  The middle of the month, the full moon day, is the most important. On that day the fruits of one’s karma (actions) are said to increase one billion (1,000,000,000) times or more. It is the day that Tibetan Buddhists celebrate the birth, awakening, and death of the Buddha.
That day, known as Saga Dawa Duchen, is Friday, June 13, 2014. "



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HINDUISM: The Importance of Critical Inquiry in Learning About Hinduism | Murali Balaji

CLICK LINK TO READ MORE: The Importance of Critical Inquiry in Learning About Hinduism | Murali Balaji: "One of the ways teachers might approach a critical thinking exercise is to get students to look at the idea of sources. As James Loewen notes in Lies My History Teacher Told Me, the framing of issues in history textbooks is often written from the perspective of privilege. That's why, to break that privilege, students must be given the tools to critically analyze the texts they read. As I used to tell my students: "Anyone can regurgitate material. True learning requires engagement.""



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Saturday, April 5, 2014

CHRISTIANITY STUDY: The Vatican's differences with the British monarchy go back five centuries (Henry VIII and all that). Besides being the head of state, the queen also is the head of the Church of England, but she's done more than any of her predecessors to repair relations. Differences with Argentina are much more recent. The pope is on the record as saying the Malvinas, as the Argentines call the islands in the South Atlantic, belong to Argentina. He recently met with the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, who wants him to intercede in the continuing tension with Britain over the islands. The queen says what her governments tell her to say about war and politics, and the British continue to insist the Falklands are theirs and that's the end of it.

Queen Elizabeth II met Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican today, in her fifth meeting with a pontiff in the Holy See and one of the last foreign trips for the soon-to-be 88-year-old monarch.http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/04/03/queen-elizabeth-ii-meets-pope-francis-in-the-vatican/7251869/

ISLAM STUDY: Three Arab countries have banned the Hollywood film "Noah" on religious grounds even before its worldwide premiere and several others are expected to follow suit, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters on Saturday. Islam frowns upon representing holy figures in art and depictions of Mohammad in European and North American media have repeatedly sparked deadly protests in Islamic countries over the last decade, fanning cultural tensions with the West. "Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries," a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, told Reuters. "The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam'," the representative said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait. The film will premiere in the United States on March 28. Noah, who in the Bible's Book of Genesis built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood, is revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An entire chapter in the Koran is devoted to him. Cairo's Al-Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam and a main centre of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday. "Al-Azhar ... renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet (Mohammad), peace be upon him," it announced in a statement. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_05/Malaysia-bans-Noah-film-as-anti-Islamic-7613/

They "provoke the feelings of believers ... and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law," the fatwa added. Mel Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ" on Jesus's crucifixion was widely screened in the Arab World, despite a flurry of objections by Muslim clerics. A 2012 Arab miniseries "Omar" on the exploits of a seventh century Muslim ruler and companion of the Prophet Mohammad also managed to defy clerics' objections and air on a Gulf-based satellite television channel. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_05/Malaysia-bans-Noah-film-as-anti-Islamic-7613/

BUDDHISM STUDY: “Ethnocentric Buddhism” is a term I have begun to use to describe a particular phenomenon in the history of Buddhism, although I suspect it is not a recent one. The term points to the notion that Buddhist identity is intrinsically linked to national identity. It also denotes the idea that other factors will be apparent in creating Buddhist and national identity in different Buddhist cultures. For example, in Thailand there is the idea of “nation, religion and monarch” (chat-sasana-phramahakasat) and in Burma “nation, language and religion” (amyo-barthar-tharthanar). In both of these examples the idea of the Buddhist religion (sasana/tharthanar) is linked to other factors in the formation of national and cultural identity. Further, in both cases the defence of one’s religion is linked to these other themes of national identity — to defend one is to defend the other. There are a number of possible factors and ideas that could shape the formation of an ethnocentric type of Buddhism in a given country. Not all of these ideas are available in each cultural context. Some are available across Buddhist Asia, some confined to a particular area, or would have been used during different historical periods. There is the idea of the “true dharma” existing in one particular place and of that location preserving this true version of the Buddha’s teachings. For example, in Sri Lanka after the transmission of Buddhism, some aspects of the Pali Canon would be considered to preserve the essential word of the Buddha. Later, national identity could be built around this idea together with other texts being used and composed together with Buddhist symbols, the tooth relic for example, creating the notion of a direct lineage to the Buddha.

This is clearly linked to the idea of a particular text containing the essential teaching of the Buddha. The so called “Lotus-sutra (Saddharma-Pundarika-sutra) is the best know example, but there are many others. The Abhidhamma could be said to serve a similar purpose in South and Southeast Asian Buddhism. The notion of the decline of the Dharma in its various manifestations (mappō, for example) is clear — the teachings last a set period of time and this lends itself to an urgency for a given people to preserve and defend the teachings of the Buddha. There is the idea that Buddhism is threatened and that there is a very real need to uphold Buddhism because of this threat. The teachings can be corrupted. The idea that the teachings can be corrupted is written into the Buddhist narrative DNA. This in turn gives rise to a natural sense of “Buddhist nationalism”. What is essential to the tradition is emphasized and “Buddhist fundamentalism” comes to the fore when the “other” is polarised as a threat to the future of Buddhism. In turn Buddhism is linked to ethnicity — a particular ethnic group is under threat and have the need and the necessity to preserve the teachings of the Buddha. Other ethnic groups, unless they come under the control of the dominant Buddhist group are a threat. Movements like the so-called 969 movement in Burma and the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) in Sri Lanka exemplify some of these ideas. please click link to read full article: https://www.dvb.no/news/ethnocentric-buddhism-a-new-theme-in-burmese-buddhism-burma-myanmar/39275

HINDUISM STUDY: Celebrating Chaitra Navratri - Navratri or the nine days` festival celebrating the nine forms of Goddess Durga comes twice in a year. The one that`s celebrated in the month of March-April which is the first month of the Hindu Lunar Calendar year (Vikram Samvat) is known as Chaitra Navratri named after the Hindu month. Sharad Navratri is celebrated in the month of October-November. Chaitra or Vasant Navratri also marks the beginning of the spring season. This nine day celebration ends with Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama. This year, Chaitra Navratri began on 31st March, 2014 and it will end on 8th April, 2014.

The nine forms of Goddess Durga are as follows: Shailputri Brahmacharini Chandraghanta Kushmanda Skandamata Katyayani Kalratri Mahagauri Siddhidatri The nine days are devoted to worshipping these nine forms of Durga. It is the most auspicious festival which is celebrated in the Northern part of India. It is followed by religious rituals for nine days. Devotees observe fast to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga. The atmosphere is filled with religious songs and dance. Navratri food is special in its own way and the stress is on satvik food. Delicacies especially made from sabudaana and kuttu ka aata are served during this time. On the first day of Navratri, barley seeds are sown in a mud pot in the pooja room and on the eighth or nine day these seedlings are offered to the Goddess. Navratri ends with the kanya-poojan or worshipping young girls on the eighth or the ninth day. On this day, nine young girls are worshipped, fed halwa, puri and black chana apart from giving gifts. Onion and garlic are strictly prohibited during this time and those who observe fast have a meal only once in a day. During this time, worshippers of Goddess durga throng temples to seek her blessings and fulfill their wishes. Jagrans take place during the night time in which all night religious songs are sung in praise of Maa Durga. Durga suktam is chanted both in the morning and evening in the worship of Maa Durga. It is very auspicious to worship Durga Suktam yantra during this time. Reciting Gayatri Mantra every day during this period is also considered to be very auspicious. The nine days are divided into three parts in which the first three days celebrate the valour and power of Maa Durga, which is invoked to destroy all the impurities, the mid three days celebrate the wealth and prosperity bestowed upon by Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days commemorates the wisdom of Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Durga is often referred to as Shakti and bestows power on her devotees. Happy Navratri 2014!! https://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/celebrating-chaitra-navratri-045208419.html

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

STUDY: SACRED SEX IN CHRISTIANITY: Zoologists puzzle over the oddities of human sexuality, unable to find any evolutionary advantage in sex that does not directly lead to reproduction. Some conclude that for humans sex represents a huge waste of time—certainly true if the point of sex was fertilization rather than relationship. In every feature, human sexuality encourages relationship. Humans negotiate a contract between consenting parties—a contract as simple as a marriage vow, a tourist paying for an hour of a prostitute's time, or as complicated as a Shakespearean love triangle. Unlike domestic bulls or rams, which service every receptive female within sniffing distance, mating humans demand some sort of mutual consent. When none exists, we call that rape and punish it. Some people try to treat sex as an animal act. In a scene from the movie A Beautiful Mind, the brilliant but socially inept mathematician John Nash approaches an attractive woman in a bar: "Listen, I don't have the words to say whatever it is that's necessary to get you into bed, so can we just pretend I said those things and skip to the part where we exchange bodily fluids?" He learns quickly, from the imprint of her palm on his face, that reductionism does not work well as a pickup line. Schizophrenic is the best way to describe modern society's view of sexuality. On the one hand, scientists insist that we are organisms like any other animal, and that sex is a natural expression of that animal nature. The pornography industry (which in the U.S. grosses more money than all professional sports combined) happily complies, supplying sexual images of the famous and the anonymous to anyone willing to pay. But when people truly act out their animal natures, society frowns in disapproval. John Nash gets slapped for telling the truth. A few states in the U.S. allow legalized prostitution, but no parents encourage their daughters to pursue such a career. Hollywood may glamorize adultery onscreen, but in real life it provokes pain and a rage sometimes strong enough to drive the wounded party to murder the rival or jump off a bridge. The root cause of this schizophrenia is the attempt to reduce sex between humans to a purely physical act. For humans, unlike sheep or chimpanzees, sex involves more than bodies. In A Natural History of Rape, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer report that only 22 percent of rapes involve "gratuitous" violence beyond what is necessary to subdue the victim, yet any rape counselor knows that the real violence occurs on the inside and may lead to years of depression, nightmares, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction. Victims of abusive relatives and pedophiliac priests testify that something far more than a body gets hurt when a trusted adult abuses a child sexually. Decades later, suffering persists. In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot outlaw "virtual child porn," consisting of computer-generated images on the Internet, since no one gets harmed in its manufacture. Their decision neglects the harm done to the people feeding on such images, for the real damage in sexuality occurs inside. Sex may engage our bodies, but unlike such bodily functions as excretion, sneezing, and burping, it also touches our souls—as tenderly, and as precariously, as they can be touched. Holy Sex | Christianity Today

Source: Holy Sex | Christianity Today:In the succeeding centuries church authorities issued edicts forbidding sex on Thursdays, the day of Christ's arrest; on Fridays, the day of his death; on Saturdays, in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and on Sundays in honor of the departed saints. Wednesdays sometimes made the list too, as did the 40-day fast periods before Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost, and also feast days and days of the Apostles, as well as the days of female impurity. The list escalated until, as John Boswell has estimated, only 44 days a year remained available for marital sex.

The Protestant Reformation brought about a shift in attitudes toward sex. Luther scorned the church's proscription against marital sex for the sake of pleasure, and transferred to the home much of the respect that had been accorded the nunnery. When secular revolutions swept across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the church's position as guardian of sexuality faded. Yet in England and America, Victorians brought back an ethic of repression, even to the extent of covering the legs of furniture lest they arouse impure thoughts.
I dwell on the church's severe attitude toward sex because I believe we Christians bear heavy responsibility for the counter reaction so evident in modern society. Jesus treated those who had fallen into sexual sins with compassion and forgiveness, and reserved his harshest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed, and legalism. How is it that we who follow him use the word "immoral" to signify sexual sins almost exclusively, and reserve church discipline for those who fail sexually?
Perhaps worse, though, the church in its prudery has silenced a powerful rumor of transcendence that could point to the Creator and originator of human sexuality, who invested in it far more meaning than most modern people can imagine. We have de-sacralized it, in effect, by suppression and denial, and along the way our clumsy attempts at repression helped to empower a false infinite. Sexual power lives on, but few see in that power a pointer to the One who designed it.
UPTIGHT CHRISTIANS forget the fundamental fact that God created sex. Having studied some anatomy, I marvel at God laboring over the physiology of sex: the soft parts, the moist parts, the millions of nerve cells sensitive to pressure and pain yet also capable of producing pleasure, the intricacies of erectile tissue, the economical and ironic combination of organs for excretion and reproduction, the blending of visual appeal and mechanical design. As the zoologists remind us, in comparison with every other species, the human is bountifully endowed.
A connected view of life assumes this is God's world, and that despite its fractured state, clues of its original design remain. When I experience desire, I need not flinch in guilt, as if something unnatural has happened. Rather, I should follow the desire to its source, to learn God's original intent.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." In this, the Bible's strongest statement about sexual desire, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter. He affirms that sexual desire affects the inside of a person ("in his heart") whether or not anything takes place externally. He also connects sexual desire with relationship, startlingly, by linking lust and adultery. The voyeur wants to keep his desires both discreet and discrete, disconnected from any actual personal contact; Jesus exposes the deception. CLICK LINK TO READ MORE


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STUDY: SACRED SEX IN BUDDHISM: Dalai Lama: Teachings about Sex Here are some interesting quotes from the 14th Dalai Lama regarding sex as taught and understood in the context of Tantric Buddhism. “Being able to have sexual contact without releasing semen is something needed when you practice the advanced stages of the complete stage." - The 14th Dalai Lama (Berzin Archives) ••• "For Buddhists, sexual intercourse can be used in the spiritual path because it causes a strong focusing on consciousness if the practitioner has firm compassion and wisdom. Its purpose is to manifest and prolong deeper levels of mind (described earlier with respect to the process of dying), in order to put their power to use in strengthening the realization of the emptiness. Otherwise, mere intercourse has nothing to do with spiritual cultivation. When a person has achieved a high level of practice in motivation and wisdom, then even the joining of the two sex organs or so-called intercourse, does not detract from the maintenance of that person’s pure behavior..." "Through special techniques of concentration during sex, competent practitioners can prolong very deep, subtle, and powerful states and put them to use to realize emptiness. However, if you engage in sexual intercourse within an ordinary mental context, there is no benefit." - How to Practice, Way to a Meaningful Life , His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins ••• "Actually, [..] the sexual organ is utilized, but the energy movement which is taking place is, in the end, fully controlled. The energy should never be let out. This energy must be controlled and eventually returned to other parts of the body. And here we can see there is a kind of special connection with celibacy." - Quoted from "The Good Heart ," H.H. the Dalai Lama ••• "There's a great difference between the movement of the regenerative fluids for two individuals engaged in ordinary sexual intercourse as opposed to a highly realized male yogi and female yogini who are engaged in sexual intercourse... "In principle, the general difference between the two types of sexual act is the control of the flow of regenerative fluids. Tantric practitioners must have control over the flow of the fluids, and those who are highly experienced can even reverse the direction of the flow, even when it has reached the tip of the genitals. Less experienced practitioners have to reverse the direction of the flow from a higher point. If the fluids descend too far down, they are more difficult to control." - Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying , by The Dalai Lama (1997, Wisdom Publications) ••• "Although I am using this ordinary term, sexual climax, it does not imply the ordinary sexual act. The reference here is to the experience of entering into union with a consort of the opposite sex, by means of which the elements at the crown are melted, and through the power of Meditation the process is also reversed. A prerequisite of such a practice is that you should be able to protect yourself from the fault of seminal emission. According to the explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra in particular, such emission is said to be very damaging to your practice. Therefore, because you should not experience emission even in dreams, the tantras describe different techniques for overcoming this fault." - The 14th Dalai Lama ••• "One night a number of dakinis (female deities) were gathered in Birwapa's room at the monastery. Other monks heard female voices through the walls and the next day, at a gathering in the big hall, the head disciplinarian expelled Birwapa from the monastery. Birwapa left wilingly, recognizing that the time had come for him to practice "union" and to develop the Great Bliss which penetrates emptiness through reliance on an external consort..." - The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple , by Ian Baker, pg. 167 (Thames & Hudson, 2000) - Dalai Lama: Teachings about Sex

Source: Dalai Lama: Teachings about Sex:



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STUDY: SACRED SEX IN ISLAM: Chastity, on the other hand is mandatory in Islam. It is also so in Christianity and Judaism. ..but it is regrettable to say that the word has almost been deleted from the code of personal behaviour in the great majority of western societies. Sex outside legitimacy is prohibited, for both men and women whether married or unmarried. The most famous personal example of chastity in the Quran is Virgin Mary (Miriam) mother of Jesus: "And remember her, who guarded her chastity, We breathed into her of Our spirit and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples." (21 :91) "She screened herself away from them (her people) then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: I seek refuge from you to God, Most Gracious (come not near) if you do fear God. He said I am only a messenger from your Lord (to announce) to you the gift of a holy son-She said: How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?" (19:17-20) Extramarital sex is forbidden and the Quran says: "Nor come near to adultery. ..for it is a shameful deed and an evil road (to other evils)." (17:32) "Those who invoke not with God any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication: and any that does this (not only) meets punishment, but the penalty on the Day of Judgement will be doubled to.him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy. Unless he repents, believes and works righteous deeds, for God will change the evil of such persons into good, and God is Oft-Forgiving Most-Merciful." (25:68-70) The injunctions and forbiddings in Islam apply equally to men and women. The legal punishment for adultery is equal for men and women. Social hypocricy in many societies over history had lead to a double standard when considering sin committed by men versus sin committed by women. Society tended to be more lenient and permissive towards men forgiving men for sins not forgiveable when women do them. At the root of the contemporary wave of free sex for both sexes was appa-rently to establish equality and remove discrimination between man and woman. Instead of calling for equal cleanliness the call was for equal dirt. Not so in Islam. and in a list of commendable deeds the Quran says: "For muslim men and women, for believing men and women. for men and women who are patient and constant. for men and women who give in charity , for men and women who observe fasting, FOR MEN AND WOMEN WHO GUARD THEIR CHASTITY and for men and women who engage much in God's praise. for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward". (33:35) Because the sex desire is usually attained before a man is financially capable of marriage, the love to God and mindfulness of Him should be sufficient motive for chastity: "Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace." (24:33) The prophet's prescription to the youth was: Those of you who own the means should marry for this should keep their eyes uncraving and their chastity secure. Those who don't, may practise fasting for it curbs desire. " (Ibn Massoud) Chastity is an attitude and a way of life. In Islam it is both a personal and a social value. A muslim society should not condone relations entailing or conducive to sexual license. Social patterns and practices bent on flaring up the sexual desire are frowned upon by Islam be the means permissive ideologies, pruritic art or neglect of moral upbringing. Personal freedoms should never be taught as the freedom to challenge God's injunctions or trespass over the limits He drew.- Chastity

Source: Chastity:



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STUDY: SACRED SEX IN HINDUISM: Maithuna. The Sanskrit word मिथुन is used in Hindu Tantras (esoteric scriptures) to refer to the sacrament (sacred ritual) of sexual union between husband and wife. Maithuna or Mithuna has various appearances in scripture: Mithuna: paired, forming a pair; copulation; the zodiacal sign of Gemini in Vedic Astrology, which is depicted as a man and woman in a sexual embrace Mithunaya: to unite sexually Mithuni: to become paired, couple or united sexually By means of the original Tantric Maithuna, after being prepared psychologically and spiritually and initiated by a genuine teacher (guru), the couple learns how to utilize their love and spiritual aspiration in order to transform their natural sexual forces to purify the mind, eliminate psychological defects, and awaken the latent powers of the consciousness. The man represents Shiva, the masculine aspect of the creative divine, and the woman represents Shakti, the feminine aspect and the source of the power of creation. This method was kept in strictest secrecy for thousands of years in order to preserve it in its pure form, and to prevent crude-minded people from deviating the teaching, other people, or harming themselves. Nonetheless, some degenerated traditions (popularly called "left-hand" traditions, or black magic) interpret Maithuna or sacramental sexuality according to their state of degeneration, and use these sacred teachings to justify their lust, desire, orgies, and other types of deviations from pure, genuine Tantra. Krishna: “And I am the strength of the strong, devoid of lust and attachment. O best of the Bharatas, I am sex not contrary to dharma.” (Bhagavad Gita 7.11) Quotes about Maithuna The Tantric student must be endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to Guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment. Absence of these qualities in the practitioner means a gross abuse of Shaktism. Sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not lawful to him is a sin. The Vaidika Dharma is very strict on this point. It forbids not merely actual Maithuna but Ashtanga or eightfold Maithuna namely Smaranam (thinking upon it), Kirtanam (talking of it), Keli (play with women), Prekshanam (making eyes at women), Guhya-bhashanam (talking in private with women), Sankalpa (wish or resolve for sexual union), Adhyavasaya (determination towards it), Kriyanishpatti (actual accomplishment of the sexual act). A Tantric can have copulation with his wife. He calls his wife his Shakti. Wife is a house-goddess Griha-lakshmi or Griha-devata united to her husband by the sacramental Samskara of marriage. She should not be regarded as an object of enjoyment. She is his partner in life (Ardhangini). The union of a man and his wife is a veritable sacred scriptural rite. - Maithuna (Mithuna) - Sexuality in Hindu Tantra

Source: Maithuna (Mithuna) - Sexuality in Hindu Tantra:



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Monday, March 3, 2014

UPDATE: CHRISTIANITY: Pope Francis said couples whose marriages fail should be “accompanied” and not “condemned,” wading into a debate on divorce that is testing his promise to put the Church in touch with modern life. “When love fails, and it fails many times, we have to feel the pain of that failure, accompany the people who have felt the failure of their love,” the pope said during the daily mass he holds in the Vatican. “Don't condemn them! Walk with them!” he said, adding: “We have to be so close to the brothers and sisters who have suffered the failure of love in their lives.” The main issue is whether divorcees who re-marry should be allowed to take part in the most sacred point of Catholic mass, Holy Communion, which is forbidden under current rules that in practice are often not observed. Changing that doctrine could in turn alter Church rules on marriage annulments and raise broader questions about the institution of marriage, prompting lively exchanges between traditionalists and reformers. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon in France, told Vatican radio that a meeting of cardinals from around the world in the Vatican this month devoted "80 to 90 percent" of the time to discussing the issue. German Cardinal Ludwig Mueller, head of the Church's doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said the current rules are “impossible to change” and that people should stop thinking of marriage as “a party in a church.” Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, a member of the council of eight cardinals established by the pope to advise him, has taken a more lenient line and has asked Mueller to be “more flexible.” A survey by the Spanish-language network Univision in 12 mainly Catholic countries found that 75 percent of Europeans, 67 percent of Latin Americans and 59 percent of Americans were at odds with the Church on the issue, while in Africa 19 percent of respondents disagreed. The issue is one of very personal anguish for many Catholic couples, who say they are being treated as second-class believers, and has led to acts of defiance. The German diocese of Freiburg im Breisgau last year said it was authorizing re-married divorcees to receive Holy Communion on a case by case basis – prompting a quick rebuke from the Vatican. The issue would affect millions of Catholics around the world, with around a quarter of Catholic marriages ending in divorce in the United States alone. Some theologians and clergymen have called for changes to facilitate the annulment of marriages in cases in which it could be argued that the wedding took place under social pressure or was not fully understood. Re-marrying would then be allowed under Church rules and the couple would be allowed to take Holy Communion. Another possibility could be the Orthodox model, which allows some divorcees to re-marry in church and take Holy Communion but gives only a blessing for the second marriage and does not consider it a sacrament. Francis mentioned the Orthodox solution as a "parenthesis" on the plane during his return from a visit to Brazil and it was raised again by some cardinals in their consistory this month in which they said it could happen following "a period of penitence". The issue is likely to dominate a synod of world bishops planned for later this year and another one in 2015, which Francis has said should focus on families. Yahoo News Philippines

Pope: ‘Accompany’ couples whose marriages fail - Yahoo News Philippines: "The divorce debate was raised in an unprecedented questionnaire sent out to dioceses worldwide to find out the approach taken by parishes on many issues, including same-sex couples and pre-marital cohabitation.
Vatican expert Henri Tincq, writing on the website Slate.fr, said the divorce issue is particularly complex on a theological level since "a sacrament is given by God and can never be taken back"."



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UPDATE: ISLAM: Muslims who are confident of their faith in Islam need not feel confused if others use the word “Allah”, Turkish writer and journalist Mustafa Akyol has said, joining the chorus of dissent from other celebrated Islamic scholars worldwide against Malaysia’s ban on the Arabic word. The prolific writer, well-known for his liberal views on Islam, told a talk that such a ban on non-Muslims in Malaysia is unacceptable as no Muslim should feel threatened by those of other faiths. Mustafa questioned why those of other faiths who have used the word “Allah” have not felt confused by it while Malaysian Muslims appear fearful of their religious freedom being usurped when their non-Muslim friends utter the word. He said the exclusive practice of an individual’s faith should not be confused with bigotry and narrow-mindedness. “We should be confident with our own faith,” said the author of critically acclaimed book - “Islam without extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”. He added that it is only by conversing with people of other faiths that Muslims are able to develop a more sophisticated culture. “We should not shy away from learning different cultures and other philosophies but it is our very own defensiveness that makes us so close-minded to everything else,” he said. “There are Muslims that create this closed society, they will ban outside influences and block the internet but it is a lost cause because the world is different now, you can’t stop the younger generation from being exposed to non-Islamic things,” Mustafa added. If young Muslims are taught good values and how to be strong in their faiths, it should not be deemed a problem if they are exposed to the world. Driving home his point that “liberty” is indeed an Islamic value, Mustafa reminded that the Muslim holy Quran itself states that there is no compulsion in Islam. “The only compulsion comes from the society to make people more pious, to make people stay in a religion,” he said. The New York Times columnist added that there are many cultures or local customs that have been made “Islamic” in the minds of certain Muslims, even though they are not expressly mentioned in the Quran verses. Citing female genital mutilation as an example, he said many have mistaken it as an Islamic practise when this was never mentioned in the Quran. “It was a local custom in North East Africa that became Islamic in the minds of the people,” he said. He said there are also other Islamic “laws” that came from a fusion of Islam and culture. Another example is on the topic of apostasy in Islam, which is said to be a crime and punishable by death. “Again, there is nothing in the verses of the Quran which bans apostasy but there are actually verses that vindicate religious freedom,” he said. He noted that the Quran did not state that anyone should be punished for apostasy but it only stated that apostates will only be punished in the afterlife by God. “So, yes, I would say liberty is very much an Islamic value but it is the society and the government that are imposing their values and their interpretation of the Quran on us,” he said. He claimed that more people are oppressed in the name of “upholding a religion”, the more they tend to move away from it. “I should be given the freedom to practise my religion and if I don’t get to choose, how am I to practice my faith and follow my conscience in whatever I do? “ he said. - Malay Mail - DON'T BE BRAINWASHED BY UMNO! Be confident in Islam - worldwide calls not to ban ALLAH grow

DON'T BE BRAINWASHED BY UMNO! Be confident in Islam - worldwide calls not to ban ALLAH grow: "“If we are confident about our faith, why do we think that we can be confused if someone else uttered the word ‘Allah’?” he said at the talk titled,”Is Liberty An Islamic Value”.

Mustafa was speaking about the row over the use of “Allah”, a continuing dispute that has gone on since 2007 when the government ordered Catholic weekly Herald to stop using the word in its Malay section and the publication challenged the ban court.

The court had at first ruled in the Herald’s favour but the decision was overturned last October with the court ruling clearly stating that “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims."



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UPDATE: BUDDHISM: Buddhist faction protests Dalai Lama as he visits U.S | Reuters - The crowd of brightly-dressed monks, nuns and other Shugden Buddhism practitioners, a subset of Buddhists who worship the 300-year-old deity Dorje Shugden, held protest signs and chanted, "Religious freedom. Dalai Lama Give!" Demonstrators met across the street from a building where the Dalai Lama was scheduled to launch the first of a series of speaking events in a tour of U.S. cities. Dalai Lamas are the head monks of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th in this lineage, and in 1989 won the Nobel Peace Prize. Critics claim that the Dalai Lama has excommunicated thousands of Shugden Buddhists from Tibetan exile communities in India, and continues to push practitioners out of communities around the world by encouraging his followers to deny them jobs, schooling and health care. Norden Kelsang, a 38-year-old Shugden Buddhist nun at Saturday's rally, who practices in New York, said the demonstrators want religious freedom. "We don't need the Dalai Lama to practice our religion or for us to practice his," she said.

Buddhist faction protests Dalai Lama as he visits U.S | Reuters: "Sarah Baker, a spokeswoman for the American Himalayan Foundation, which organized the Dalai Lama's San Francisco event, declined to comment. Calls to the Dalai Lama's offices in India were not immediately returned.

The Dalai Lama, who fled from Tibet in 1959 following an uprising against Chinese power, believes Shugden was born out of hostility towards a previous Dalai Lama, and divides and harms he and his followers, according to a statement on the religious leader's website."



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UPDATE: HINDUISM: India's Fundamentalists Triumph In Case Over Wendy Doniger's 'The Hindus' | Stephen Prothero - This month, Penguin Books India agreed to withdraw Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History" from Indian bookstores and pulp any remaining copies. The settlement came in response to a complaint filed by Dinanath Batra, head of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a Hindu fundamentalist group that opposes sex education in Indian schools and textbooks that deviate from its Hinduvta ("Hinduness") interpretation of Indian history. If you see a culture war here, you are not far wrong. Like the American culture wars, this contest features a "moral majority" that claims to speak for all true believers, even as it laments its victimhood at the hands of a secular state. In his complaint, Batra played the Jerry Falwell figure, blasting Doniger as a Jezebel -- "a woman hungry of sex" -- peddling "perverse" interpretations of Hindu scriptures. "The Hindus" is "riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies," he said, but his core complaint is that the book "hurt the religious feelings of millions of Hindus." As Doniger books go, this one has very little sex in it. But it is offensive. As Doniger told BBC World Service, she knew "that people like Mr. Batra would hate it." According to Hindu nationalists, there is one unchanging and eternal Hinduism, which just so happens to be their own. Doniger's alternative history, which heeds the voices of women and Dalits ("untouchables") and observes changes in the tradition over time, shows that there are nearly as many Hinduisms as there are Hindus. To her, Hinduism is a polyphonic symphony. To Batra, it is one note, played over and over again. Books have been challenged in the USA, but First Amendment rights typically triumph. In India, free speech is increasingly muzzled. India banned Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" a quarter-century ago. Two decades ago, Hindu nationalists went after "Kali's Child," a psychoanalytic study of the Indian holy man Ramakrishna by American Indologist Jeffrey Kripal, and discovered in the process how to spin hatred of foreign authors into political gold. In recent years, they have targeted films and art exhibitions as well as books on Gandhi, cows and the Hindu deity Ganesha. Indian intellectuals responded to the Doniger imbroglio by lamenting "the pulping of liberal India" and the "Talibanization" of the world's largest democracy. "The argumentative Indian is being replaced by the offended Indian," wrote political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta, "the tolerant Indian by the intolerant mob." Many fingered Penguin for bowing to a bully. "Even though there is no fatwa, no ban, not even a court order, you have not only caved in, you have humiliated yourself abjectly before a fly-by-night outfit," wrote novelist Arundhati Roy in an open letter to her publisher. Other authors demanded that their Penguin contracts be pulped. Penguin responded by invoking its "moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment," and the need to "respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be." Other Indian intellectuals -- including thousands of signers of a petition published last week in The Hindu -- called for legal reform, focusing on the Indian Penal Code's Section 295A, which, by criminalizing "malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings," has invited an epidemic of the piously aggrieved.

India's Fundamentalists Triumph In Case Over Wendy Doniger's 'The Hindus' | Stephen Prothero: "Banishment of "The Hindus" from India is emboldening the culture warriors who claim to speak on behalf of all Hindus (and are now vowing to go after other Doniger books). But this is not a victory for "Hinduism" over its American despisers. It is a victory of one group of Hindus over another.

In "The Hindus," which exudes love of scholarship and love of the Hindu tradition, I hear a voice, reminiscent of that famous question of the African-American abolitionist Sojourner Truth: "Ain't I a woman?" "Ain't I a Hindu?" it says, in the voices of the millions of believers whom Hindu fundamentalists are determined to silence."



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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Lady of Lourdes manifests herself to me in a different way…

Today is Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I wish I can join the mass celebration in the nearby Parish at 10:00 AM, but as usual I am stuck in my work and I cannot join the novices and the sisters. Anyway, I was told by the Superior that since I already attended the 6:30 AM mass here in the convent, she said that is already okay. So back to my usual busy work schedule for the day, I can hear the festivities of the procession outside the garage. The Parish is just few meters away and the music is playing. I felt that even if I am not there physically, but spiritually in the corner of my small office, I am with them in the feast for Mama Mary. My alarm rings at 12:00 noon, time for lunch break! Since I am always in the middle of something, lunch disturbs my work, but I have to go because if I don’t eat, my immune system gets weak and I will be sick again. So, I went as usual with my pink jeans, tank-tops and shawl to cover my back thinking that anyway it will just be us, the three sisters in the community who is already used to my dressing-up. But this time, no, there was a visitor. She is an Augustinian sister who is also an author and I was told was a very good administrator. She is very happy to talk about her cloistered sister nun of the Pink Sisters who was granted the permission to be a hermit after years of discernment and prayers. She showed all the pictures and talk about the whole process of how her sister was able to receive the support of the bishop and her congregation. The story inspires me to sit down, look at the pictures and listen to the story intently. As I was listening to her story, she cannot kept herself asking me questions on why am I in the convent, on what do I do, etc. You know, this may sounds annoying, but living in the convent for quite some time made me use to these series of questions. I will just politely answer that I am a missionary, and that I am here because I am building a small chapel and prayer room in the province. Then several questions will follow on why I am doing it. “Do you have plans to become a nun? How do you get your funds, etc?” So, again I politely answered these questions asked to me a hundred times by visitors here that, I do not get donations because I am not a nun. I only get funds from my work as a Resource Speaker and that I live a simple life because I already opted to have an early retirement as a hermit in the province but in my prayer God still wants me to get involved outside, to be with people, to write my journey and share it to people who are non-religious etc. Now I have to stop talking because if I don’t the Augustinian sister will be so interested in my life that I won’t be able to hear the story of her sister nun who became a hermit. So she went on to tell the story on how difficult it is for her sister to start her new life as a hermit. The place that she got was not safe because there a lot of drug addicts, etc, and that the "nipa" where she sleeps has no light and water. And that she got sick because she cannot raise her own food because the water is not enough to raise plants! FYI: Hermits do not have money of their own to buy food. So she told her sister that what you are doing is not sacrifice anymore, but suicide! But still, no matter what, she still believes in her sister's prayer, but so worried for her well-being. She convince her to go home with them first to get some medical treatments for her soaring feet and be nourished. Her sister went with her and was taken care of by the family. But after some time, her sister was not happy because of her longing to live a solitary life. With continuous prayers, Divine Providence happened, her sister met a stranger and told her to come to their place and stay there as a hermit. The land was given to her sister that she can use and cultivate as long as she lives in solitude of prayer. Everything came in smoothly after that, the bishop granted her the permission, her sister was also given supplies for her needs and the locals volunteer to build her prayer room and garden. Now her sister fulfilled God’s plan for her to live as a hermit with the locals safely in prayer at the age of 62! To the religious community, the journey of her sister nun who followed God's will to become a hermit is remarkable! Now from time to time, the Augustinian sister will refer to me telling me that "now you know how you will you do your hermit life". Thinking that I am like them, she casually mentions that I can also design my own habit and wear it. A habit is the dress worn by the nuns. I just smiled and told her politely, that every time I pray, God will always tell me that I should not change myself because my vocation is to the "world" and not in cloistered religious life. Though there is a longing inside me to live as a hermit because I want to pray in silence, still God pulls me out and bring me back to the world, to the people outside, to mingle, and to speak their language. I told her how it happened several times when I was already living a simple hermit life in the province. I was lead by circumstances to go back in Manila and live my usual life again in the competitive world! Now I am talking and the Augustinian sister intently listens to my story. On how I became a book author by accident and not by choice because I just followed God’s will. And on how I keep the balance of living a monk’s life in the competitive world day after day here in the convent and in my social circle outside the religious community. On how difficult it is, but I have to, because God wants me to write everything that is happening to me and use that to encourage other people in the non-religious circle and even those who do not have strong faith to live a life of prayer and to allow God’s will to happen every single day! Now the Augustinian sister understood. She said continue with that because you are a Resource Speaker and that the most effective way for you to teach faith is to live through the actual situations of it, day by day, everyday! You know, her comments became an affirmation of the instructions I received in my prayers! Thank you for this rare opportunity to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes by meeting an Augustinian sister whose words of wisdom inspires me in my mission, as she said: “Be Yourself!" So I will! I'll let God’s will unfold in my life! And by allowing myself to be me, I will no longer doubt myself... I will proceed.... and live my life to the fullest!.... I'll be free to take risks.... I'll embrace every single moment....And as my Indian friend told me, "Why don't we just do it, and let's see what will happen!"... Yes! Why not?... I will just do it and see what will happen next... -Journals of My Life 02.11.2014 written by Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador, UN International Day of Peace; Internet Journalist, Climate Change Peace Building Campaign, NY, USA; Author & Public Speaker, Wellness for Peace Education on Climate Change. Contact Numbers: Smart: 09295197788 <> Globe: 09266787938. Address: Sailing for Peace: 1875 Magallanes Drive, Aguinaldo Hi-way, 4120 Tagaytay City, Philippines Websites: http://www.innovativemindandbody.blogspo... http://www.wellnesspilipinas.blogspot.com http://www.peaceadvocates.blogspot.com http://www.zarajanejuan.blogspot.com http://www.sailingforpeaceworldwidepeace... http://www.youtube.com/healthytalks https://www.facebook.com/ambassadorzara

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Vatican blasts “prejudiced” report from U.N. committee on Catholic Church child sex abuse - It was natural that the Vatican would object that its religious freedom was being trampled on when the committee recommended it consider amending its own canon law to allow abortion in some limited cases. The committee cited the case of a 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather and doctors determined an abortion was necessary to save her life. The girl and her doctors were promptly excommunicated. The committee also urged the Holy See to ensure that sex education, including access to information about contraception and preventing HIV, is mandatory in Catholic schools. And it called for the Holy See to use its moral authority to condemn discrimination against homosexual children, or children raised by same-sex couples. In his statement Friday, Lombardi said by entering into such matters, the committee "appears to have gone beyond its competence and interfered in the moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church." He said while it was wrong to blame the United Nations as a whole for the committee's "grave shortcomings," the organization itself "bears the negative consequences of what was done by one of its committees, beyond its competence." Despite the Vatican's objections, he said the Holy See was nevertheless committed to working for the good of all children via the U.N. treaty. -CBS News

Vatican blasts “prejudiced” report from U.N. committee on Catholic Church child sex abuse - CBS News: "VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican struck back Friday at a U.N. human rights committee that issued a scathing report on sex abuse by priests, accusing it of straying beyond its mandate and discrediting the U.N. as a whole by adopting the "prejudiced" positions of anti-Catholic advocacy groups."



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American Muslim filmmaker warns against discrimination in Islam. Wolfe, who embraced Islam over 20 years ago while travelling between North and West Africa, claimed that it is only natural for a global religion such as Islam to have different expressions. “Islam has been compared many times to clear water running over different coloured rocks in a stream,” Wolfe told The Malay Mail Online in an exclusive interview here. “Sometimes it looks red, sometimes it looks green, sometimes it looks yellow. But it is all water. It is all Islam.” But Wolfe conceded to subscribing to religious pluralism, a result of coming from a country where people of different colours, languages, and beliefs can find ways to co-exist with each other. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/american-muslim-filmmaker-warns-against-discrimination-in-islam#sthash.aGYJ5R9x.dpuf- | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online

American Muslim filmmaker warns against discrimination in Islam | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online: "To that end, Wolfe founded Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) in 1999, a non-profit organisation which aims to foster interfaith and intercultural understanding.

UPF has since produced nine award-winning documentaries on Muslim themes, with its first full-length film called “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet”, a two-hour television documentary."



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Canada's Crispin Lipscomb will be relying on the ancient wisdom of Buddhism to assist him in the halfpipe competition in Sochi. The 34-year-old, who is making his final Olympic appearance, told Reuters that the extreme sport and the ancient religion have an awful lot in common. "About five or six years ago I started travelling to Korea and I was introduced to some monks who run a thousand-year-old temple," he said. "In all the reading that I did and learning about that approach and some of the fundamental ideas that the Buddha was playing with, I found great parallels to our snowboarding. Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/sports/canada-s-lipscomb-takes-buddhism-on-board/article/369394#ixzz2snVvpLd4- Canada's Lipscomb takes Buddhism on board

Canada's Lipscomb takes Buddhism on board: ""I think that from what I know, the Buddha would remind everyone that you've got to chop wood before enlightenment and carry water after enlightenment.

"I think that that means no matter who you are and what your process is, you have to do your work.

"You can have your joy and your reward, but immediately following it you have to go right to work and right back to your life.""



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Social hostilities & government restrictions on Hinduism should end -Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has urged end to social hostilities and government restrictions on Hinduism in various countries of the world. According to a new study by the Washington DC (USA) based Pew Research Center on "global restrictions on religion", published on January 14, Hindus were harassed and intimidated by governments or social groups in 33 countries from June 2006 to December 2012. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, stressed that social hostilities involving religion and government restrictions on religions should not have any place in the 21st century world. Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought, Rajan Zed pointed out. The study, however, did not list the countries where Hindus were harassed and intimidated. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Alan Murray is the President.- | Oye Times

Social hostilities & government restrictions on Hinduism should end | Oye Times:



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Monday, January 20, 2014

Top pope ally urges Vatican doctrine chief to loosen up. (By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor PARIS) (Reuters) - An influential aide to Pope Francis criticised the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog on Monday and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a "kitchen cabinet" the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller - who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce - was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms. "The world isn't like that, my brother," Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures. "You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don't just listen and say, 'here is the wall'," Rodriguez said in an interview with the daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger. Rodriguez, archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, did not cite any possible reforms in particular but said the pope's critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were "people who don't understand reality." - Yahoo News Philippines

CLICK LINK TO READ >>>> Top pope ally urges Vatican doctrine chief to loosen up - Yahoo News Philippines: "Former Pope Benedict picked Mueller in 2012 to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition. Benedict ran that office as a powerful and feared guardian of Church orthodoxy for 24 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, until he was elected pope in 2005.
But its influence has waned under Francis, who soon after his March 2013 election was reported as telling visiting South American priests and nuns not to worry if the CDF wrote to them criticising what they were doing."



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Friday, January 17, 2014

The U.S. Embassy spoke out after a stone-hurling mob attacked a suburban Colombo mosque in August, calling it "particularly troubling in light of a number of recent attacks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka." Muslims say they are also the targets of ludicrous conspiracy theories, including rumors that they spit three times in any dish before serving it to a non-Muslim, or that Muslim shops sell women's undergarments tainted with chemicals that cause infertility. Many Muslims feel they are being victimized because of their visibility in the economy — a role they have played for more than 1,000 years since Arab traders brought Islam to Sri Lanka and allied with the Sinhalese against Spanish and Dutch colonial forces. Today, they control at least half of small businesses and hold near-monopolies in the textile and gem trades. Because most speak Tamil, and not Sinhala, they were key players in military intelligence during the civil war against ethnic Tamil rebels. "We never thought the government would turn on us," said Mujibur Rahman, a Muslim member of Colombo's provincial council. He and other critics contend that the 2009 civil war victory left a triumphant Buddhist Sinhalese majority searching for a new target. "The president needs to create a new security problem to avoid actually having to govern," Rahman said. "He has built an image for himself as a Sinhalese Buddhist hero and savior. He needs a new enemy to keep that up." The government dismisses the idea as absurd, and Bodu Bala Sena denies any role in organizing attacks. But even some Sinhalese have their suspicions. "The BBS is trying to push the country toward racial and religious conflict," said a Sinhalese business owner who would only give his first name, Susantha. "Sometimes I suspect they are carrying out a contract for the government to turn attention away from issues such as the economy, health care and education." Gnanasara and Kirama Wimalajothi started Bodu Bala Sena after splitting from a group they said was not militant enough in protecting Buddhist interests in Sri Lanka. The brawny, bespectacled Gnanasara said that, with about 70 percent of the population practicing Buddhism, the tropical nation has a duty to uphold the religion's traditions, preserve its heritage sites and police against conversion to other religions. "The secret to my popularity is that I speak the truth," he said in an interview held within the Bodu Bala Sena headquarters, in a Buddhist cultural center set among twisted tree trunks and a lush jungle canopy near Colombo, the capital. Gnanasara said there are "extremist forces trying to create divisions, buy our lands, marry our wives and recruit our children. The same thing happened in Malaysia, the Maldives and Bangladesh — all now Muslim countries. The same thing may happen in Sri Lanka if we're not careful."- Hardline Monks Rally Sri Lanka as Buddhist Front - ABC News

CLICK LINK TO READ ARTICLE >  Hardline Monks Rally Sri Lanka as Buddhist Front - ABC News: ""We're seeing a pattern of really severe human rights violations right across the board," Amnesty International director Steve Crawshaw said. "The government can't stand any forms of protest or criticism, and yet it appears to actively turn away from violence and lawlessness against other ethnic minorities and religions.""

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The Holy See has long insisted that it was not responsible for the crimes of priests committed around the world, saying priests are not employees of the Vatican but are rather citizens of countries where they reside and subject to local law enforcement. It has maintained that bishops were responsible for the priests in their care, not the pope. But victims' groups and human rights organisations provided the UN committee with the Vatican's own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police. Thursday’s hearing is seen by some as a test of Pope Francis, who has enjoyed widespread popularity and made big promises, and of whether he can make amends on the issue of sexual abuse and allegations of cover-up. Francis has called for openness and transparency on the issue of priest sex abuse. In December, he established a committee to advise him on the subject. - Vatican defends record on child sex abuse - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Vatican defends record on child sex abuse - Europe - Al Jazeera English: "The Vatican has come under sharp criticism from a UN committee for its handling of child sex-abuse cases among Roman Catholic clergy.

The scandal tarnished the reputation of the church and drawn accusations that it deliberately hid the rapes of thousands of children by protecting paedophile priests.

The Vatican, now facing its most intense public grilling over the allegations, acknowledged at Thursday's hearing in the Swiss city of Geneva that it had been slow to act, but insisted that it was now committed to facing the crisis.

"The Holy See gets it," Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Vatican's former sex-crimes prosecutor, told the committee.

"Let's not say 'too late' or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently."

The Holy See is recognised by international law as a sovereign entity headed by the pope."

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Hindu groups in South Africa have expressed outrage at photographs taken at a music festival which depict models in provocative positions, posing with t-shirts featuring various Hindu deities. The photographs posted on a website showed several models stretching out their hands pretending to be a six-limbed deity. Another picture showed a model lifting her t-shirt as she stands against paintings of Hindu deities. The pictures were taken at a music festival during New Year festivities. The National community leaders have unanimously condemned these actions, but the photographer defended saying it was within the rights to freedom of expression. South African Tamil Federation President Karthi Moothsamy said his organisation would pursue the matter with both the ruling African National Congress and government institutions. “While it is so that freedom of expression is embodied in the South African Constitution, the same Constitution does not grant absolute rights in this regard,” Moothsamy said. “We will call on government to introduce legislation that protects Hindu and other religious iconography from being denigrated.” - South African Hindus outraged by ‘provocative’ pictures involving deities | The Indian Express

CLICK LINK TO READ ARTICLE >> South African Hindus outraged by ‘provocative’ pictures involving deities | The Indian Express: "South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee said these type of action reared its head from time to time, usually from people who were ignorant of its religious significance.
“We have to find a way to address the increasing use of Hindu iconography in a derogatory way with impunity,” he said."

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wellness Pilipinas! - WELLNESS IN CULTURE: National Day of Prayer declared in typhoon-hit areas. Jan 20 National Day of Prayer and Solidarity with the theme ‘One Nation in Prayer’ will be held as the Filipino people’s way of recognizing the power of the Almighty God who guides us in our journey towards a brighter future,” Coloma told radio dzRB yesterday. “President Aquino will lead the nation in prayer in a simple program to be held in Malacañang,” he said. Coloma said the declaration serves as a call for all sectors to pray for the country, which was battered by successive calamities last year.

Wellness Pilipinas!: "In his toast during the vin d’honneur held last Friday, Aquino said the Filipinos’ constant faith in God enabled them to weather the disasters that confronted them

"“Some of you have marveled at the resilience of our nation, a people whose faith, though challenged, remains constant and only deepened. Our unbreakable spirit and ability to recover find root in our firm belief in a benevolent God who has the perfect plan for all of us,” he said.  “These tragedies tell us that despite all our efforts, we are indeed powerless without God,” he added." CLICK LINK TO READ MORE: National Day of Prayer declared in typhoon-hit areas | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com:"

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

See How Black Nazarene Devotees Unite the Philippines - Grand procession of the Jesus of the Black Nazarene in Manila | View photo - Yahoo News Philippines

Grand procession of the Jesus of the Black Nazarene in Manila | View photo - Yahoo News Philippines: "Devotees climb a steel fence to catch a glimpse of the image of Jesus of the Black Nazarene as it enters the Quiapo Church after the grand procession in Manila January 10, 2014. The wooden Black Nazarene, carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippines capital in the early 17th century, is cherished by Catholics who believe it performs miracles. REUTERS/Al Falcon (PHILIPPINES - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)"

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: Tawhid (Arabic: توحيد tawḥīd; English: doctrine of Oneness [of God]; also transliterated Tawheed and Tauheed) is the concept of monotheism in Islam.[1] It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God (Arabic: Allah) is one (wāḥid) and unique (āḥad).[2] The Qu'ran asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique, independent and indivisible being, who is independent of the entire creation.[3] God, according to Islam, is a universal God, rather than a local, tribal, or parochial one—God is an absolute, who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil.[4] Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[5] The first part of the Shahada is the declaration of belief in the oneness of God.[2] To attribute divinity to a created entity, known as shirk, is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Qur'an.[4] Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[6] There is an uncompromising monotheism at the heart of the Islamic beliefs which is seen as distinguishing Islam from other major religions.[7] - Tawhid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tawhid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Islamic intellectual history can be understood as a gradual unfolding of the manner in which successive generations of believers have understood the meaning and implications of professing God's Unity. Islamic scholars have different approaches toward understanding it. Islamic theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, Sufism, even to some degree the Islamic understanding of natural sciences, all seek to explain at some level the principle of tawhid.[8]"

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UNDERSTANDING BUDDHISM: Pure Land Buddhism, which began in India around the 2nd century B.C., offered a path to salvation for those who found difficulties with the more rigorous forms of Buddhist practice. It later spread to China and, by the 6th century, to Japan, where it is now the second most popular form of Buddhism. This exhibition features paintings, sculpture and other works related to Pure Land beliefs, which in Japan is taught by four sects Jodo-shu, Jodo Shinshi, Yuzu-nembutsu-shu, and Ji-shu. Some of the highlights include “Tosotsuten Mandara” (“Mandala of Tusita”), which depicts the fourth devaloka (plane of existence) in the realm of desire, and the “Hiten” (“Flying Apsara”); Jan. 10-Feb. 11.- 'Tokutechikai Buddhism Art' | The Japan Times

CLICK LINK TO READ MORE: 'Tokutechikai Buddhism Art' | The Japan Times:

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UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM: Shiva and Shakti Consciousness and Energy Amongst the attributes of the Chakras we meet two important symbols: Shiva and Shakti. SHIVA symbolises consciousness, the masculine principle. SHAKTI symbolises the feminine principle, the activating power and energy. Whenever a power becomes active, and wherever energy exists, Shakti is working. Other terms for these primal principles are PURUSHA and PRAKRITI; Purusha is consciousness and Prakriti is nature. Lord Shiva is generally portrayed holding a trident, which represents the trinity of Īshwara, Purusha and Prakriti . Īshwara is the omnipresent, eternal, formless divine principle; Purusha is the Ātmā and Prakriti is the manifestation, nature. An electric light can be used to explain their relationship. The electric current, which is the source of the light, is Īshwara; the light is Purusha, and the object that is illuminated is Prakriti. SHAKTI (or Prakriti) means energy, power, movement, change, nature. It is the maternal principle – the provider, abundance. In the human as well as in the animal kingdom the mother offers nourishment, warmth and security. There is no greater love than the love of a mother. The mother carries and nourishes the child in her own body. When it is born she provides it with mother’s milk and raises it at the sacrifice of her own self until it becomes self-reliant. SHIVA (or Purusha), on the other hand, is pure consciousness – the unchanging, unlimited and unswayable observer. Purusha has no desires whatsoever; these are inherent only in Prakriti. Purusha is the empty, clear screen onto which Prakriti projects her colourful film. Shiva and Shakti are manifestations of the all-in-one divine consciousness - different sides of the same coin. In many pictures these two primal powers are each depicted as being one half of the same image; one side female and one side male. The left side is the Divine Mother, Pārvatī, the “feminine” energy, and the right side represents Shiva, the “masculine” consciousness. Through the splitting of the primordial principle at the advent of creation the duality within our lives came into being, together with a strong force that is constantly striving to re-unite with the other part. Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise. Until energy is impregnated with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”. Energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction. Conversely, consciousness without energy is dormant power, sleeping energy, and on its own is unable to be the cause of anything. Just as Prakriti without Purusha is unable to act, and vice versa, Purusha without Prakriti is also incapable of creating anything. The meaning of Shiva and Shakti is occasionally misunderstood when Shiva and Shakti are looked upon as “man” and “woman” and their union is regarded as a sexual relationship. Sexuality is something completely natural, and misunderstanding arises only when sexuality and spirituality are mixed. Sexuality is the union of man and woman Spirituality is the union of the human and the divine consciousness. Shiva and Shakti exist within each of us as the masculine and feminine principles. This has an effect on the physical level – it is the cause of sexual attraction. Within man there exists a tendency towards the feminine qualities, and within woman a tendency towards the masculine. Through this the masculine consciousness is attracted by the feminine and vice versa. If both are in balance there is no sexual attraction. But if a tendency for the masculine predominates in man, or the feminine in woman, this results in a preference for a homosexual partner. Shiva resides in the Sahasrāra Chakra and Shakti in the Mūlādhāra Chakra. When Prakriti and Purusha unite in the Sahasrāra Chakra, knowledge, knower and the object of knowledge become one. Once we have experienced this no desires remain within us because we realise unequivocally that everything we have ever yearned for is carried within us. In this state of absolute consciousness there are no polarities and therefore no more sorrows; there is only everlasting joy, unconditional love, unlimited compassion and total understanding for all living beings. For as long as consciousness is connected to the physical body it is unable to remain constantly in the Sahasrāra Chakra and so returns to the residence of the Ātmā in the Heart Centre (Anāhata Chakra). A realised person always thinks, feels and acts from the heart. Embedded in eternal love and eternal happiness, that person is always conscious of the immortal Ātmā, the ocean of bliss, and their consciousness is forever connected to the divine consciousness. Shakti is the motherly love of God that surrounds us with warmth, caring and protection. Shiva is the paternal love of God that gives us consciousness, clarity and knowledge. I wish for you the blessing of the Divine Mother who lives within you as energy and vitality, and the blessing of the Divine Father who resides within you as consciousness and knowledge. May they always take care of you, protect you and guide you, and in their infinite love lead you to the cosmic consciousness.

Shiva and Shakti:

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Priest hitches ride on popemobile during papal audience - An Argentine priest hitched a ride on Pope Francis' popemobile during the pontiff's general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday after the pope recognised him in the crowd. The pope thought he had heard a familiar voice when someone shouted out "Holy Father, Happy New Year" as he was driven through a crowd of thousands. He turned and spotted Father Fabian Baez, a priest he knew from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He asked his driver to stop the popemobile and gestured to the priest to come out of the crowd, video footage showed. The pontiff then invited him to hop on the white vehicle and the priest joined him for the rest of the ride through the crowd.- Yahoo News Philippines

Priest hitches ride on popemobile during papal audience - Yahoo News Philippines: "The two embraced when Baez boarded and the pope was heard telling him, "This photo is going to go around the world".
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)"

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Pope Francis drew 6.6 million to the Vatican in 2013, three times Benedict | News | GMA News Online. Francis, who last month was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, has drawn people to the Vatican because of his outgoing, simple and friendly style. Benedict was more reserved and far less spontaneous. The first non-European pope in 1,300 years, he took over an institution rocked by sex abuse and other scandals, and losing faithful to other religions. Reinvigorating the church, he has forsaken many of the trappings used by his predecessors. He gave up the spacious papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace for a small apartment in a guest house and is driven in a regular car instead of the papal limousine. Francis has also proven to be popular because of his statements urging the Church to be closer to the poor and to be more merciful and less condemning. The Vatican said the figures released on Thursday did not include the crowds that turned out to see the pope during his trips to Brazil, and to Assisi and Lampedusa in Italy. More than 3 million people attended the pope's final event of the Brazil trip on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 28. The crowds at Francis' general audiences and Sunday addresses have often topped 100,000, forcing police to close off the boulevard leading to the Vatican to accommodate more people. Tickets to audiences and Masses are issued for free by the Vatican's Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and usually distributed through parishes and Church institutions. — Reuters

Pope Francis drew 6.6 million to the Vatican in 2013, three times Benedict | News | GMA News Online: "Figures released last month which were limited to the number of people who attended weekly general audiences showed that Francis had drawn around four times as many people in about nine-and-a-half months of 2013 than Benedict had in all of 2012. Francis was elected on March 13, 2013."

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Islam Finds Home Among Latino Americans - Americas - News - OnIslam.net. Finding Islam, Mujahid Fletcher wanted other Latinos to find this too. Therefore, he launched a company called Islam in Spanish in which he began doing translations and making audio recordings of the verses. He and his father, who also converted to Islam, have recorded more than 500 CDs and 200 cable access TV shows about Islam. “The end goal with Islam in Spanish is to educate Latinos about Islam worldwide,” he said. Now, Fletcher attends the Maryam Islamic Center in Sugar Land, an affluent suburb of Houston. The large mosque looked like something you'd find in the Middle East or Turkey — an attractive building with high, arched entrances, pillars and two minarets. Fletcher says Latino Muslims are spread out in small pockets in big cities like Houston. Thirty minutes away from Fletcher’s mosque, Daniel Abdullah Hernandez, a Puerto Rican-American who was raised Catholic, works as an imam at a mosque in the city of Pearland. Hernandez, also a gang member, said Islam helped turn him into a responsible husband and father. “In the beginning, people think it’s a phase. My mother, after two years of seeing my transformation, she became a Muslim,” Hernandez said. His father and brother converted as well. Together, the family visited Egypt to study Islam, a trip that cleared up any doubts they had about becoming Latino Muslims. “Me and my family were feeling that we were going to be lonely during the holidays,” he says. “And that first year, we’re sitting with other Hispanics breaking bread and eating, and we were all amazed.” It’s difficult to estimate how many Latinos in the US have converted to Islam. Ewing puts the figure somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000.

Islam Finds Home Among Latino Americans - Americas - News - OnIslam.net: "The 2011 US Mosque Survey, which interviewed leaders at 524 mosques across the country, found the number of new female converts to Islam had increased 8 percent since 2000.

Of that number, Latinos accounted for 12 percent of all new converts in the United States in 2011."

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A guide to the gods and enlightened beings: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the Cleveland Museum of Art's West Wing | cleveland.com. Aside from the purely visual pleasures they provide, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian galleries constitute an invitation to learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, the predominant religions represented in the new displays. This admittedly incomplete guide is intended as a rudimentary introduction to some of the religious ideas and holy figures represented in the galleries and to encourage deeper looking, learning and appreciation. Definitions Hinduism: The religion, native to India, includes a belief in reincarnation and the existence of a Supreme God whose qualities and attributes can appear in many forms. These include avatars, the physical form a deity takes when descending to earth. Hindus hold that existence is part of a cycle of birth, death and rebirth ruled by karma, the principal that positive or negative actions can determine how the soul reincarnates in the next life. AX195_01F4_9.JPG View full size Guanyin, the merciful bodhisattva closest to the Buddha. Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer Buddhism: Buddhists hold that suffering is caused by desire, which can be transcended through enlightenment, an elevated state of being that releases the individual from the cycle of birth and death. The faith was founded by the Indian prince Shakyamuni, or Siddhartha Gautama, who achieved enlightenment in the sixth or fifth century B.C. after renouncing his wealth, living as an ascetic and meditating under a bodhi tree – a symbol often found in depictions of him.

A guide to the gods and enlightened beings: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the Cleveland Museum of Art's West Wing | cleveland.com: "Jainism: A minority religion within India, Jainism, like Buddhism, emerged in response to various Hindu practices including the sacrifice of certain animals. Jains emphasize radical nonviolence and believe in the spiritual equality of all forms of life, including microorganisms. The faithful hold that enlightenment can be reached by practicing nonviolence and self-control."

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Urban Outfitters reportedly removes 'Lord Ganesh' socks, apologizes to Hindus | Fox News.Fashion retailer Urban Outfitters has reportedly removed its controversial “Lord Ganesh” socks from stores and issued an apology to Hindus. The red and blue crew-length socks featured an image of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh above the ankle. The $8 socks featuring the god worshipped by many Hindu sects were described by the Philadelphia-based firm as “awesome” and an exclusive design, Philly.com reports.

Urban Outfitters reportedly removes 'Lord Ganesh' socks, apologizes to Hindus | Fox News: "The socks, however, caught the attention of Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who characterized them on his blog as highly inappropriate. Zed suggested that corporations send senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity before launching new advertising campaigns.

Crystal Carroll, public relations manager of Urban Outfitters, apologized in response to Zed’s complaint and said the socks would be removed from the clothier’s website immediately.

“We sincerely apologize if we offended the Hindu community and our customers,” Carroll said in a statement. “We appreciate Rajan Zed and the Universal Society of Hinduism for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us understand the cultural and religious sensitivities this product carries.”"

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Be the Peace Leader

Be the Peace Leader
Pray for Peace by Amb Zara Jane Juan

Come & Join Inter-Faith Prayers & Inter-Cultural Dialogue for Peace

Come! Share your Peace! - Ambassador Zara Jane Juan, Sailing for Peace

2012 Video International Day of Peace Vigil by Sailing for Peace

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil
Prayer Vigil for Vatican as Pope expresses sorrow over terrorist attacks and prayed that God will sustain all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

JESUS CHRIST - 7 LAST WORDS - Lenten Recollection for Christians