The Ghost Festival known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, Zhongyuan Jie, Gui Jie or Yulan Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in certain Asian countries. According to the Chinese calendar, the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh month. In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. Distinct from both the Qingming Festival and Double Ninth Festival in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, during Ghost Festival, the deceased are believed to visit the living. On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors after their deaths.
Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities; the timing and origin story of the modern Ghost Festival, however derives from the Mahayana scripture known as the Yulanpen or Ullambana Sutra. The sutra records the time when Maudgalyayana achieves abhijñā and uses his new found powers to search for his deceased parents.
Maudgalyayana discovers that his deceased mother was reborn into the hungry ghost realm. She was in a wasted condition and Maudgalyayana tried to help her by giving her a bowl of rice; as a preta, she was unable to eat the rice as it was transformed into burning coal. Maudgalyayana asks the Buddha to help him; the Theravadan forms of the festival in South and Southeast Asia are much older, deriving from the Petavatthu, a scripture in the Pali Canon that dates to the 3rd century BC. The Petavatthu account is broadly similar to that recorded in the Yulanpen Sutra, although it concerns the disciple Sāriputta and his family rather than Moggallāna; the Ghost Festival is held during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It falls at the same time as a full moon, the new season, the fall harvest, the peak of Buddhist monastic asceticism, the rebirth of ancestors, the assembly of the local community. During this month, the gates of hell are opened up and ghosts are free to roam the earth where they seek food and entertainment.
These ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who forgot to pay tribute to them after they died, or those who were never given a proper ritual send-off. They have long needle-thin necks because they have not been fed by their family, or as a punishment so that they are unable to swallow. Family members offer prayers to their deceased relatives, offer food and drink and burn hell bank notes and other forms of joss paper. Joss paper items are believed to have value in the afterlife, considered to be similar in some aspects to the material world, People burn paper houses, cars and televisions to please the ghosts. Families pay tribute to other unknown wandering ghosts so that these homeless souls do not intrude on their lives and bring misfortune. A large feast is held for the ghosts on the fourteenth day of the seventh month, when people bring samples of food and place them on an offering table to please the ghosts and ward off bad luck. Lotus-shaped lanterns are lit and set afloat in rivers and out onto seas to symbolicly guide the lost souls of forgotten ancestors to the afterlife.
In some East Asian countries today, live performances are held and everyone is invited to attend. The first row of seats are always empty; the shows are always put on at night and at high volumes as the sound is believed to attract and please the ghosts. Some shows include Chinese opera, in some areas burlesque shows. Traditionally Chinese opera was the main source of entertainment but the newer shows, dramas, wars and so forth are referred to as Getai; these acts are better known as "Merry-making". For rituals and Taoists hold ceremonies to relieve ghosts from suffering, many of them holding ceremonies in the afternoon or at night. Altars are built for the deceased and priests and monks alike perform ritu
The term Shambhala Buddhism was introduced by Sakyong Mipham in the year 2000 to describe his presentation of the Shambhala teachings conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as secular practices for achieving enlightened society, in concert with the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Shambhala Buddhist sangha considers Sakyong Mipham to be its head and the second in a lineage of Sakyongs. Shambhala Buddhism derives from the teachings of Shambhala, as proclaimed by Chögyam Trungpa, which state that "there is a natural source of radiance and brilliance in the world, the innate wakefulness of human beings; this is the basis, in myth and inspiration, of the Kingdom of Shambhala, an enlightened society of fearlessness and compassion." Furthermore, "Shambhala vision applies to people of any faith, not just people who believe in Buddhism. The Shambhala vision does not distinguish a Buddhist from a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Moslem, a Hindu. That's. A kingdom should have lots of spiritual disciplines in it."
The Shambhala Buddhist sangha expresses this vision within Tibetan Buddhist concepts and practices, continuing its ties to contemporary Kagyu and Nyingma lineage holders, among them the Karmapa, Penor Rinpoche, other important lamas. Many prominent lamas offer teachings to the community on a regular basis. However, certain aspects of Shambhala Buddhism, known as Shambhalian practices, are unique to the sangha. At the 1976 Seminary in Land O'Lakes, Trungpa Rinpoche began giving teachings, some of which were gathered and presented as Shambhala Training, inspired by his vision of the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala. Shambhalian practices focus on using mindfulness/awareness meditation as a means of connecting with one's basic sanity and using that insight as inspiration for one's encounter with the world; the Shambhala of Chögyam Trungpa is a secular approach to meditation, with roots in Buddhism as well as in other traditions, but accessible to individuals of any, or no religion. The greater social vision of Shambhala is that it is possible, moment by moment, for individuals to establish enlightened society.
Trungpa's book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior provides a concise collection of the Shambhala views. Shambhala Training is administered worldwide by Shambhala International. Shambhala Training is presented in a series of weekend programs, the first five of which are called "The Heart of Warriorship", the subsequent seven "The Sacred Path"; the Warrior Assembly is the fruition of the Shambhala Training Sacred Path program. During Warrior Assembly, students study the Shambhala terma text, The Golden Sun of the Great East, receive the ashé practices of stroke and lungta. After the year 2000, with the merging of the secular teachings of Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings of Vajradhatu into Shambhala Buddhism, completion of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary became a condition for receiving the highest Shambhala teachings, such as those of Werma and the Scorpion Seal Retreat. In turn, Warrior Assembly became a prerequisite for attending the Vajrayana Seminary; the Shambhala Seminary is a two-part seminary designed to deepen students' practice and understanding of the Buddhist and Shambhala teachings and to enter them into the vajrayana practices of the Shambhala Buddhist mandala.
Part 1, Sutrayana Seminary, is led by a Shambhala acharya and provides in-depth training and study of the Hinayana and Shambhala teachings. Part 2, Vajrayana Seminary, is led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and authorizes students to begin their Shambhala ngöndro—the preliminary practices for receiving the Rigden Abhisheka; the Rigden Abhisheka enters the student into the practice of the Werma Sadhana. It is open to graduates of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary who have completed their Shambhala ngöndro and to students who have received the Werma Sadhana and completed their Kagyü Ngöndro. Certain Shambhala practices derive from specific terma texts of Trungpa Rinpoche's such as Letter of the Black Ashe, Letter of the Golden Key that Fulfills Desire, Golden Sun of the Great East, the Scorpion Seal of the Golden Sun, in long and short versions. Trungpa Rinpoche is believed by his students to have received these teachings directly from Gesar of Ling, an emanation of Padmasambhava, the Rigden kings, their terma status was confirmed by the Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
The Shambhala dharma practices derived or in part from these texts include those of werma, Wind Horse, meditations on four "dignities of Shambhala": tiger, lion and dragon. Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso, a great 19th century Nyingma lama and the predecessor of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, wrote about many of these practices and concepts as well. Some, such as the "stroke of Ashé", have no known precedents; the Kalachakra tradition is central to Shambhala Buddhism. Trungpa Rinpoche requested that the Kagyu Kalachakra master Kalu Rinpoche perform the initiation for his Vajrayana students, which he did in 1986 in Boulder, Colorado; the Rigden Kings of Shambhala are central figures to the community, a thangka of the Rigden king is the centerpiece of all public Shambhala Buddhist shrines. Gesar of Ling, a mythical Tibetan king, is an important figure to Shambhala Buddhists, to whom he represents enlightened wisdom manifesting in the world as a leader. Many of the teachings of the Shambhala lineage derive from the Epic of Gesar as propagated by Mipham the Great.
Trungpa Rinpoche w
A vajra is a weapon used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond and a thunderbolt. The vajra is a type of club with a ribbed spherical head; the ribs may meet in a ball-shaped top, or they may be separate and end in sharp points with which to stab. The vajra is the weapon of the Indian Vedic rain and thunder-deity Indra, is used symbolically by the dharma traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power. According to the Indian mythology, vajra is considered as one of the most powerful weapons in the universe The use of the vajra as a symbolic and ritual tool spread from India along with Indian religion and culture to other parts of Asia. According to Asko Parpola, the Sanskrit Vajra- and Avestan Vazra- both refer to a weapon of the Godhead, are from the Proto-Indo-European root *weg'- which means "to be powerful." It is related to Proto-Finno-Uralic *vaśara, "hammer, axe", but both the Sanskrit and Finno-Ugric derivatives are Proto-Aryan or Proto-Indo-Aryan, but not Proto-Iranian, state Parpola and Carpelan, because of its palatalized sibilant.
The earliest mention of the vajra is in part of the four Vedas. It is described as the weapon of the chief among Gods. Indra is described as using the vajra to kill sinners and ignorant persons; the Rigveda states that the weapon was made for Indra by the maker of divine instruments. The associated story describes Indra using the vajra, which he held in his hand, to slay the asura Vritra, who took the form of a serpent. On account of his skill in wielding the vajra, some epithets used for Indra in the Rigveda were Vajrabhrit, Vajrivat or Vajrin and Vajrabahu or Vajrahasta; the association of the Vajra with Indra was continued with some modifications in the Puranic literature, in Buddhist works. Buddhaghoṣa, a major figure of Theravada Buddhism in the 5th century, identified the Bodhisattva Vajrapani with Indra. Many puranas describe the vajra, with the story modified from the Rigvedic original. One major addition involves the role of the Sage Dadhichi. According to one account, the king of the deva was once driven out of devaloka by an asura named Vritra.
The asura was the recipient of a boon whereby he could not be killed by any weapon, known till the date of his receiving the boon and additionally that no weapon made of wood or metal could harm him. Indra, who had lost all hope of recovering his kingdom was said to have approached Shiva who could not help him. Indra along with Brahma went to seek the aid of Vishnu. Vishnu revealed to Indra. Indra and the other deva therefore approached the sage, whom Indra had once beheaded, asked him for his aid in defeating Vritra. Dadhichi acceded to the deva's request but said that he wished that he had time to go on a pilgrimage to all the holy rivers before he gave up his life for them. Indra brought together all the waters of the holy rivers to Naimisha Forest, thereby allowing the sage to have his wish fulfilled without a further loss of time. Dadhichi is said to have given up his life by the art of yoga after which the gods fashioned the vajrayudha from his spine; this weapon was used to defeat the asura, allowing Indra to reclaim his place as the king of devaloka.
Another version of the story exists where Dadhichi was asked to safeguard the weapons of the gods as they were unable to match the arcane arts being employed by the asura to obtain them. Dadhichi is said to have kept at the task for a long time and tiring of the job, he is said to have dissolved the weapons in sacred water which he drank; the deva returned a long time and asked him to return their weapons so that they might defeat the asura, headed by Vritra and for all. Dadhichi however told them of what he had done and informed them that their weapons were now a part of his bones. However, realising that his bones were the only way by which the deva could defeat the asura willingly gave his life in a pit of mystical flames he summoned with the power of his austerities. Brahma is said to have fashioned a large number of weapons from Dadhichi's bones, including the vajrayudha, fashioned from his spine; the deva are said to have defeated the asura using the weapons thus created. There have been instances where the war god Skanda is described as holding a vajra.
Skanda is the name of a bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who wields a vajra. In Buddhism the vajra is the symbol of one of the three major branches of Buddhism. Vajrayana is translated as "Thunderbolt Way" or "Diamond Way" and can imply the thunderbolt experience of Buddhist enlightenment or bodhi, it implies indestructibility, just as diamonds are harder than other gemstones. In Tantric Buddhism the vajra and tribu are used in many rites by a lama or any Vajrayana practitioner of sadhana; the vajra is a male polysemic symbol. The vajra is representative of upaya whereas its companion tool, the bell, a female symbol, denotes prajna; some deities are shown holding each the vajra and bell in separate hands, symbolizing the union of the forces of compassion and wisdom, respectively. In the tantric traditions of Buddhism, the vajra is a symbol for the nature of reality, or sunyata, indicating endless creativity and skillful activity; the term is employed extensively in tantric literature: the term for the s
Newar Buddhism is the form of Vajrayana Buddhism practiced by the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It has developed unique socio-religious elements, which include a non-monastic Buddhist society based on the Newar caste system and patrilineality; the ritual priests and shakya form the non-celibate religious sangha while other Buddhist Newar castes like the Urāy act as patrons. Uray patronise Tibetan Vajrayanin and Japanese clerics. Although there was a vibrant regional tradition of Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley during the first millennium, the transformation into a distinctive cultural and linguistic form of Buddhism appears to have taken place in the fifteenth century, at about the same time that similar regional forms of Indic Buddhism such as those of Kashmir and Indonesia were on the wane; as a result, Newar Buddhism seems to preserve some aspects of Indian Buddhism that were not preserved in schools of Buddhism elsewhere. Newar Buddhism is characterized by its extensive and detailed rituals, a rich artistic tradition of Buddhist monuments and artwork like the Chaitya and Bahi monastic courtyards, Paubha scroll paintings and Mandala sand paintings, by being a storehouse of ancient Sanskrit Buddhist texts, many of which are now only extant in Nepal.
According to the authors of Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal: "Today traditional Newar Buddhism is unquestionably in retreat before Theravada Buddhism." Chachā ritual song and dance and Gunlā Bājan music are other artistic traditions of Newar Buddhism. Although Newar Buddhism was traditionally bound to the Kathmandu Valley and its environs, there is at least one new Newar Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon. A number of major street celebrations are held periodically involving processions, displays of Buddha images and services in the three cities of the Kathmandu Valley and in other parts of Nepal; the main events are Samyak, Jana Baha Dyah Jatra, Bunga Dyah Jatra, Bajrayogini Jatra. Newar Buddhism is practiced within the community, however news about Newar Buddhist functions and festivals is reported in Nepali by Kathmandu based Bodhi TV. Vajracharya List of Buddhist stotras in Nepalbhasha List of Mahaviharas of Newar Buddhism Gellner, David N.. Monk and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-38399-8. - Review of this book Theodore Riccardi Jr. Lewis, Todd L.. Popular Buddhist Texts from Nepal: Narratives and Rituals of Newar Buddhism. State University of New York Publications. ISBN 978-0-7914-4611-9. Locke, John K. Newar Buddhist Initiation Rites Mahajan, Phra Sujan; the Revival of Theravada Buddhism and its Contribution to Nepalese Society, Bangkok: Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya UniversityTuladhar-Douglas, Will. Remaking Buddhism for Medieval Nepal: The Fifteenth-century Reformation of Newar Buddhism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35919-1. Tuladhar-Douglas, William. "Newar Buddhism". Religions of the World. Bajracharya The Art of Newar Buddhism, The Huntington Archive
Yantra is a mystical diagram from the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. They are used at home, they are used for adornment of temple floors, due to their aesthetic and symmetric qualities. Specific yantras are traditionally associated with specific deities. Representations of the yantra in India have been considered to date back to 11,000-10,000 years BP; the Baghor stone, found in an upper-paleolithic context in the Son River valley, is considered the earliest example by G. R. Sharma, involved in the excavation of the stone; the triangular-shaped stone, which includes triangular engravings on one side, was found daubed in ochre, in what was considered a site related to worship. Worship of goddesses in that region was found to be practiced in a similar manner to the present day. Kenoyer, involved in the excavation, considered it to be associated with Shakti. In Rigvedic Sanskrit, it meant an instrument for restraining or fastening, a prop, support or barrier, etymologically from the root yam "to sustain, support" and the -tra suffix expressing instruments.
The literal meaning is still evident in the medical terminology of Sushruta, where the term refers to blunt surgical instruments such as tweezers or a vice. The meaning of "mystical or occult diagram" arises in the medieval period. Madhu Khanna in linking mantra, yantra and thought forms states: Mantras, the Sanskrit syllables inscribed on yantras, are "thought forms" representing divinities or cosmic powers, which exert their influence by means of sound-vibrations. Yantras are associated with a particular deity and are used for specific benefits, such as: for meditation, they are used in daily ritual worship at home or in temples, sometimes worn as a talisman. As an aid to meditation, yantras represent the deity, the object of meditation; these yantras emanate from the bindu. The yantra has several geometric shapes radiating concentrically from the center, including triangles, hexagons and symbolic lotus petals; the outside includes a square representing the four cardinal directions, with doors to each of them.
A popular form is the Sri Chakra, or Sri Yantra, which represents the goddess in her form as Tripura Sundari. Sri Chakra includes a representation of Shiva, is designed to show the totality of creation and existence, along with the user's own unity with the cosmos. Yantras can be on three dimensional. Yantras can be painted on paper, engraved on metal, or any flat surface, they tend to be smaller in size than the similar mandala, traditionally use less color than mandalas. Occult yantras are used as good luck charms, to ward off evil, as preventative medicine, in exorcism, etc. by using their magical power. When used as a talisman, the yantra is seen to represent a deity who can be called on at will by the user, they are traditionally consecrated and energized by a priest, including the use of mantras which are associated to the specific deity and yantra. Practitioners believe that a yantra, not energized with mantra is lifeless. Gudrun Bühnemann classifies three general types of yantras based on their usage: Yantras that are used as foundation for ritual implements such as lamps, etc.
These are simple geometric shapes upon which the implements are placed. Yantras used in regular worship, such as the Sri Yantra; these include geometric diagrams and are energized with mantras to the deity, sometimes include written mantras in the design. Yantras used in specific desire-oriented rites; these yantras are made on birch bark or paper, can include special materials such as flowers, rice paste, etc. A yantra comprises geometric shapes and written mantra. Triangles and hexagrams are common, as are lotuses of 4 to 1,000 petals. Saiva and Shakta yantras feature the prongs of a trishula. Mantra Yantras include mantras written in Sanskrit. Madhu Khanna writes that, "mantra are always found in conjunction. Sound is considered as important as form in yantra, if not more important, since form in its essence is sound condensed as matter." Color Use of colors in traditional yantra is symbolic, not decorative or artistic. Each color is used to denote inner states of consciousness. White/Red/Black is one of the most significant color combinations, representing the three qualities or gunas of nature.
White represents purity. Specific colors represent certain aspects of the goddess. Not all texts give the same colors for yantras. Aesthetics and artistry are meaningless in a yantra if they are not based on the symbolism of the colors and geometric shapes. Bindu The central point of traditional yantras have a bindu or point, which represents the main deity associated with the yantra; the retinue of the deity is represented in the geometric parts around the center. The bindu in a yantra may remain invisible, it represents the point from. Sometimes, as in the case of the Linga Bhairavi yantra, the bindu may be presented in the form of a linga. Triangle Most Hindu yantras include triangles. Downward pointing triangles represent feminine
Lama is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru and in use it is similar, but not identical to the western monastic rank of abbot; the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries. Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a monk, nun or advanced tantric practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas. Due to misunderstandings by early western scholars attempting to understand Tibetan Buddhism, the term lama has been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks in general. Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as "Lamaism" by early western scholars and travelers who did not understand that what they were witnessing was a form of Buddhism; the term Lamaism is now considered by some to be derogatory. In the Vajrayana path of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is the tantric spiritual guide, the guru to the aspiring Buddhist yogi or yogini.
As such, the lama will appear as one of the Three Roots, alongside the yidam and protector. Karmapa Shifu Sensei Rinpoche
Azhaliism is a Vajrayana Buddhist religion practiced among the Bai people of Yunnan, China. The name comes from lay tantric priests called azhali who are key figures in the religion, known for their use of spells and mantras; the tradition was founded by an Indian acharya named Candragupta who traveled to the kingdom of Nanzhao from Tibet in 839. It is a hybrid tradition showing Chinese and Burmese influences; this tradition was the major religion of the Dali Kingdom. Key deities in this tradition include Acuoye Guanyin; the Shibaoshan grottoes, about 10km north of Shaxi, are examples of the art of this Vajrayana tradition. The tradition faced several challenges during Yuan and Qing rule but it continues as a living religion today. Vajrayana Huang, Zhengliang. "Research Review of Bai Esoteric Buddhist Azhali Religion Since the 20th Century". Journal of Dali University. Wu, Jiang. Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century China. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199895562