Saturday, May 05, 2007

NOTE: You need Quicktime,free copy availably here if you don't have it. Requires Windows 2000 or XP,File size 19.07MB

Great Global Pagoda

from Dhamma Podcasts from on September 14, 2006
Great Global Pagoda (video) This 16-minute film offers a stunning look at the Global Pagoda being built on the outskirts of Mumbai, India's most populous city. It is a modern wonder of engineering and vision. Architecturally, this building will be by far the largest single-span stone dome in the world, twice as big as the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican. Computer-guided stone saws are at work beside craftsmen using timeless chisel and hammer techniques. Flash version: Video Download Runtime: 19 minutes Filesize: 89 MB The Global Pagoda pays tribute to Myanmar for safeguarding the Dhamma by reflecting the outer form of its famous Shwedagon Pagoda. However this pagoda is being built as a hollow structure that will seat 9,000 for meditation, and feature a gallery with educational panels and displays to inform visitors about the matchless contribution of the Buddha to human history. Thus it is intended to serve as a beacon of practice and education for multitudes, for centuries to come. The placement of the keystone by which the dome shall be closed (in which the relics of the Buddha shall be placed) will occur on October 29, 2006. For this function the respected Sangha of various Buddhist countries has been invited. Publisher: Karuna Films Publication Date: July, 2005 There is more information about Vipassana meditation at, and books and audio resources available for purchase at May all beings be happy!

Rare Footage of Real Life Super Monks
May 5th, 2007

Shaolin Monks are often portrayed as the silent yet deadly martial arts masters.

Now we can see through this rare footage some of the training rituals they actually go through to get ther super human strangth and skill.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 5th, 2007 at 8:14 am by Sun Tzu who was most likely laughing hysterically. You can leave a response telling Sun Tzu how much you love this post,

Link of-real-life-super-humans

Sorry I could not get photo preview to upload

Friday, May 04, 2007

Stunning' Nepal Buddha art find

The discovery has been likened to finding a treaure trove

Paintings of Buddha dating back at least to the 12th century have been discovered in a cave in a remote area of Nepal's north-central region.

Researchers made the find after being tipped off by a local sheep herder. They discovered a mural with 55 panels showing the story of Buddha's life.

The mural was uncovered in March, with the team using ice axes to break through a snow path to reach the cave.

The find was in the Mustang area, 250km (160 miles) northwest of Kathmandu.

Sheer cliffs

"What we found is fantastically rich in culture and heritage and goes to the 12th century or earlier," American writer and conservationist Broughton Coburn told the AP news agency.

Mr Coburn said the main mural measured around 8m (25ft) wide, and each panel was about 35cm (14in) by 43cm (17in).

It was set in sheer 14,000ft (4,300m) cliffs in Nepal's remote Himalayan north.

The team of international researchers - including film makers, climbers and archaeologists - from Nepal, Italy and the US were told of the works of art by a sheep herder.

Cave complex were Buddha artefacts were discovered
Access to the caves is high and hazardous

In passing conversation he said that he had seen a cave with old paintings in it several years ago as he took shelter from the rain.

It turned out to be a treasure trove of Buddhist art, consisting of a complex of caves several hours walking distance apart.

The team says that there are around 20 openings in each complex, with multiple floors connected by vertical passages with rudimentary hand and footholds, requiring some climbing skill to negotiate.

'Marvellous mystery'

Besides the main mural, other paintings were discovered which the team believes are marginally older.

The Dipankar Buddha mask
Buddha was reputedly born in Nepal

A nearby cave had manuscripts written in the Tibetan language, which were photographed by the team to be translated later by experts, along with pre-Christian era pottery shards.

"Who lived in those caves? When were they there, when were (the caves) first excavated and how did the residents access them, perched as they are on vertical cliffs?" asked Mr Coburn.

"It's a compelling, marvellous mystery."

Mr Coburn said that his team would try and find answers by performing limited excavations, in addition to collecting and cataloguing the manuscripts.

The team has refused to divulge the exact location of the caves to prevent the possibility of visitors disturbing the centuries-old art.

The expedition spent three weeks in the remote mountainous area, which for centuries has been used as a major transit route between Nepal and Tibet.

Mr Coburn said that there were other mounds which may hide further treasures.

He said the artefacts had remained unpillaged partly because the area north of Mount Annapurna has, until recently, been inaccessible.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Colombo airport in night closure

Anti-aircraft gunfire in Colombo on 29 April 2007
Powerful blasts were heard near the airport at the weekend
Officials at Sri Lanka's only international airport have ordered it to be closed at night time following a series of Tamil Tiger air strikes.

They say that closure will come into effect from next week.

The Bandaranaike International Airport, which shares a runway with an adjoining military base, will close between 2230 and 0430 from 10 May.

Meanwhile Britain has decided to withdraw some of its debt relief payments to Sri Lanka, officials say.

It had earlier agreed to give $5.9m to help the country pay debts to the World Bank, but has now suspended the programme after making only half the payments, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Colombo said on Thursday.

He said that the payments will resume only if a series of conditions are met, including no unjustified increases in military spending and no instigations of hostility by the government.

There was no immediate response from ministers to the news.

'Public inconvenience'

The airport closure follows an air raid on Sunday by the Tamil Tigers on oil facilities in Colombo. A fuel storage tank was destroyed and two buildings were damaged.

The Tigers carried out their first ever air raid in March. It targeted the military airport near Colombo. They have also carried out an air attack in the north of the island in which six soldiers died.

A Tamil Tiger picture of bombs loaded beneath a plane. File photo
The rebels used 'home made' aircraft in the attacks

The acting Director General of Civil Aviation, Parakrama Dissanayake, told the AFP news agency that international airlines have a week to reschedule their flights to the island.

Officials say that the night time closure would be for three months initially, and any further extension would depend on the security situation.

"The decision was taken mainly to minimise public inconvenience which may take place due to disruption of flights. Passenger safety is paramount to us," Mr Dissanayake said.

The airport has been forced to close down three times in the past month, with many incoming flights diverted to southern India.

Shut down

On Wednesday Emirates said that it would resume day-time services after suspending them because of the Tamil Tiger attacks.

Cathay, Asia's third-largest carrier, has yet to resume operations while Singapore Airlines announced that it would only fly during the day to Colombo.

A photo of Tamil Tiger pilots released by the rebels after a raid in March
The Tiger rebels may have up to five planes, experts say

Correspondents say that Singapore, Cathay and Emirates account for about a quarter of Sri Lanka's air passenger traffic.

The airport handles about 70 flights a day, and correspondents say that the night-time shut down would affect 40% of them.

The rebels previously attacked the airport in July 2001, when they destroyed more than a dozen military aircraft and attacked six civilian passenger jets.

They are fighting for an independent state in the north and east.

Despite a ceasefire still being in place on paper, Sri Lanka has been sliding back towards civil war, with more than 4,000 people killed in the past 15 months.

China temple opens tallest pagoda

The tip of the Tianning Pagoda in China

The pagoda is taller than the Egyptian pyramids at Giza
Hundreds of Buddhist monks have gathered in Changzhou, eastern China, for the inauguration of what officials say is the world's tallest pagoda.

The 154m-high (510ft) Tianning Pagoda consists of 13 wooden storeys topped by a soaring golden pinnacle.

Artistic touches include a bronze-tiled roof and jade decorations. An enormous bronze bell that sits at the top can be heard some 5km (3 miles) away.

The temple complex dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD).

It has been destroyed and rebuilt five times over the last 1,350 years, China's Xinhua news agency said.

"From the olden days, whenever there is a temple, there has to be a pagoda. For Tianning temple, it had a pagoda in the past, but it was destroyed," said Reverend Kuo Hui, the temple's deputy abbot.

"For us we decided to rebuild this pagoda so as to inherit the fine traditions of Buddhism and to honour Buddha," he said.

Religious revival

Rebuilding the pagoda took five years and cost around 300m yuan ($39m, £19.5m), Xinhua said.

Crowds of orange-robed monks and devotees attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the pagoda.

More than 100 heads of Buddhist associations and temples in China and around the world attended the ceremony, the Reuters news agency reported.

Religion has been enjoying a resurgence in China in recent years as Communist Party controls over it have relaxed.

A survey in February 2007 by a Shanghai university suggested that 300 million Chinese people followed a religion.

Of those, around two-thirds considered themselves Buddhist or Taoist, an ancient Chinese faith, the survey found.

Sudan's famous goat 'wife' die

The best-known goat in Sudan has died months after being "married" to a man in the South Sudan capital, Juba, the BBC has learned.

Local elders ordered a man found having sex with the goat, later called Rose, to "marry" her last February.

"The idea was to publicly embarrass the man," says Tom Rhodes, editor of the Juba Post, which first ran the story.

The BBC's story of the "wedding" caught the public imagination and became one of the best read internet stories.

Rose, black and white, is believed to have died after choking on a plastic bag she swallowed as she was eating scraps on the streets of Juba.

'Sense of humour'

After the marriage, Rose had a male kid - but "not a human one" - Mr Rhodes said, hastily.

The "husband", Charles Tombe, said he was drunk at the time but has since refused to comment on the issue. The kid is owned by Mr Tombe.

More than a year after the BBC story was first published, it is still picked up by various web forums and being emailed across the world. Recently it got more than 100,000 page views for five successive days.

Over time, it has received several million hits - making it historically one of the biggest-hitting stories the BBC News website has published.

A Google search uncovers more than 1m different web pages, based on the same story.

Mr Rhodes, a Briton who helped found the Juba Post in 2004, was shocked when he learned how many people around the world had read the story his newspaper had originally published as a short, light-hearted account and not even bothered to publish on its website.

"Wow - what have we done? We have triggered a monster," he said.

He said that he had seen that it occasionally returned in the BBC's "Most read stories" and was worried that he would have trouble with South Sudanese, accusing his paper of tarnishing the image of the region - now trying to rebuild after 21 years of war.

But he says he has not come across any such anger.

"It doesn't portray Sudan in a bad light - it shows the Sudanese have a sense of humour," he says, referring to the elders' original punishment.

He has, however, had people come up and say to him: "Oh, you're the goat man."

Mr Rhodes explains that South Sudan remains a conservative society.

If a man is caught sleeping with a girl, he is ordered to marry her immediately in order to save her honour and that of her family, he says.

This was the basis for Mr Tombe's punishment, after the goat's owner found him with his animal and complained to local elders.

They ordered him to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50, at the time) and also named the goat Rose.

Afterwards, he left with the goat, not quite hand-in-hand, more hand-in-hoof, to his home in the Hai Malakal suburb of Juba - and not in Upper Nile State as we originally reported.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Donate a Stone, for the Global Pagoda

Bahujana hitaya, bahujana sukhaya.
For the benefit of many, for the happiness of many


The Global Vipassana Foundation is happy to inform all Vipassana meditators that the Global Pagoda complex will house a Vipassana meditation centre—Dhamma Pattana. This centre will have suitable residential and meditation facilities so that old students can meditate seriously in the vicinity of the Global Pagoda where the relics of the Buddha are enshrined. Serious meditators will benefit from the vibrations of the Buddha relics.

The second small pagoda at the Global Pagoda complex will be reserved exclusively for the use of the participants of the courses at Dhamma Pattana. It will contain a hundred meditation cells so that each participant in the course can meditate in an individual cell.

Dhamma Pattana will have an additional vital function. With increasing age and failing health, it has become increasingly difficult for Goenkaji to travel. Since he needs repeated medical consultations, it is increasingly difficult for him to stay for long periods at Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri. However, since Dhamma Pattana is in Mumbai, he can spend more time there. Goenkaji plans to conduct a 90-day course at this centre. Initially, Dhamma Pattana will host ten-day courses, and later, longer courses. A major portion of the construction has been completed.

The estimated total cost of the construction of Dhamma Pattana is USD 2 miillon.

A functional meditation centre will enhance the role of the Global Pagoda as the lighthouse of Dhamma. Meditators wishing to share in the merits of the construction of Dhamma Pattana may send donations to:

The Treasurer, Global Vipassana Foundation,

C/o Khimji Kunverji & Co., 52 Bombay Mutual Building, Sir P. M. Road, Mumbai 400 001, India.

Tel: [91]; Fax:;



Cheques and bank drafts should be payable at Mumbai and drawn in favour of Global Vipassana Foundation, A/c No. 11244, Bank of India, Stock Exchange Branch, Mumbai, India.

Many photos of the Global Pagoda


After completing the work for laying the massive foundation and the first phase of construction, all efforts are being made to complete the dome of the Global Pagoda by May or June 2006. Until this period, approximately Rs 75 lakhs to Rs 100 lakhs (US $ 220,000) are required each month for construction.

o Out of 94 layers to be completed in building the dome, 57 layers have been completed as of February 2006. As the height of the dome increases, fewer stones are required in each layer.

o The total height of the Pagoda will reach 315 feet.

o Besides work on the Global Pagoda, necessary RCC work for completing the exhibition gallery is in progress. Simultaneously, ventilation and acoustic consultants are working on details to complete this work, along with construction of dome of the main Pagoda.

Donate a Stone, for the Global Pagoda

The Global Pagoda presents a rare opportunity to earn merits by participating in a historic project that will serve as a beacon of Dhamma for centuries to come. Anyone can participate in this Dhamma project. The amount donated is not important - the volition to contribute is. The Global Pagoda is being built in stone. You can now choose to make a donation for any number of stones, even one stone. Every member in the donor’s family can feel joyful that he or she has donated for this most beneficial Dhamma project.

Cost of one Serration stone is Rs 5,000 (US $ 114.36); cost of one Dome stone is Rs 3,500 (US $ 80.054); cost of one Column stone is Rs 1,000 (US $ 22.87) ; cost of one Support stone is Rs 100 (US $ 2.28). Cheques/drafts may be drawn in favour of “Global Vipassana Foundation” payable at Mumbai, and may be mailed to

The Treasurer, Global Vipassana Foundation,
C/o Khimji Kunverji &
Co.,52, Bombay Mutual Building,
Sir P. M. Road, Mumbai 400 001.
Phone: ; Email:

All donations qualify under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act in India. Foreign donors should contact the Treasurer for clarification on tax concessions in their respective countries.
Online donations accepted at

One-day courses (for old students only) every Sunday at the Global Pagoda (Dhamma Pattana) Goraigoan, Mumbai. 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For gate pass to visit Global Pagoda, please call: Tel:, Tel/Fax:. Email:;

For all further details, please visit Global Pagoda website:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

For those that have a difficult time getting up for their morning sit.

How I Became an Early Riser

I know, Steve Pavlina has done this already, but I’ve found that waking early has been one of the best things I’ve done in the last year, and I thought I’d share my tips. I just posted about my morning routine, and thought you might like to know how I get up at 4:30 a.m.

For many years, I was a late riser. I loved to sleep in. Then things changed, because I had to wake up between 6-6:30 a.m. to fix my kids’ lunches and get them ready for school. But last year, when I decided to train for my first marathon, I decided that I needed to start running in the mornings if I was to have any time left for my family.

So, I set out to make waking up early a habit. I started by getting up at 5:30 a.m., then at 5 a.m. When that became a habit, and I had to wake up at 4 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. for an early long run, it wasn’t a problem. And last November, when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, I decided to get up at 4 a.m. to write for at least an hour a day. Now that I completed that novel-writing goal, I don’t need to wake that early anymore, but have settled on a happy compromise of waking at 4:30 a.m. Some days, when I’m really tired (if I go to sleep late), I’ll wake at 5:00 or 5:30, but that’s still earlier than I used to wake up.

Here are my tips for becoming an early riser:

* Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
* Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, and read while in bed. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
* Put your alarm clock far from you bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it’s far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
* Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. By the time I’ve done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I’m awake enough to face the day.
* Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
* Allow yourself to sleep in once in awhile. Despite what I just said in the previous point, once in awhile it’s nice to sleep in. As long as it’s not a regular thing. I do it maybe once a week or so.
* Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. My reward used to be to make a hot cup of coffee and read a book. I’ve recently cut out coffee, but I still enjoy reading my book. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
* Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that’s a major goal of yours. Don’t wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day! I like to use that time to get a head start on preparing my kids’ lunches, on planning for the rest of the day (when I set my MITs), on exercising or meditating, and on reading. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I’ve done more than many people do the entire day.
* Enjoy the break of dawn! As much as you can, look outside (or better yet, get outside!) and watch the sky turn light. It’s beautiful. And it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s now my favorite time of day. Getting up early is a reward in itself for me.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Yet another person's experience with Vipassana
A Contemplative Science

I recently spent a week with one hundred fellow scientists at a retreat center in rural Massachusetts. The meeting attracted a diverse group: physicists, neuroscientists, psychologists, clinicians, and a philosopher or two; all devoted to the study of the human mind. In many respects it was like any other scientific retreat: we gathered each day in a large hall; we took long walks in the snow; we ate communally.
At this meeting, however, six days passed before anyone uttered a word.

Our silence was not a sign of scientific controversy or of the breakdown of social relations. We were on a silent meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society, engaged in a Buddhist practice known as vipassana (the Pali word for 'seeing clearly'). Techniques like vipassana have been practiced by Buddhist contemplatives for millennia, and there is now a growing body of scientific research to suggest that they can promote mental and physical wellbeing. According to the teachings of Buddhism, meditation produces profound insights into the nature of human subjectivity; insights that can have a direct a bearing upon a person's ethical life and level of happiness. The retreat at IMS, which was co-sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, represents the first time a large group of scientists have sought to personally test such claims.

The initial instruction given on a vipassana retreat could not be more simple: when seated, pay attention to the sensation of breathing; when walking, notice the feeling of moving your feet; and whenever you find that your mind has wandered into thought, simply come back to the mere awareness of sensation. Once meditators have developed an ability to concentrate on the flow of physical sensations in this way, they are encouraged to pay attention to the entire range of their experience. The practice from then on is to be precisely aware, moment by moment, of the full tumult of consciousness and its contents: sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, intentions, and emotions. Of critical importance for the purposes of science: there are no unjustified beliefs or metaphysics that need be adopted at all.

Many of the scientists found the experience grueling. Some said it was the hardest week of their lives. Indeed, many had not known that they would be consigned to total silence for the first six days of the retreat, and asked not to read, or to write, or to make eye-contact with the other retreatants. One neuroscientist reported that on the second day of the retreat he hit "a wall of grief," in the face of which even the most trivial memories -- of drinking a cup of tea, of shaving his face -- precipitated profound feelings of sadness, simply because they testified to the inexorable passage of time. It is, of course, natural to brood about time when one suddenly has too much of it on hand. Heaven help the meditator who gets a song like "Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon" stuck in his head. He will surely die by his own hand.

Many scientists have been drawn to Buddhism out of a sense that the Western tradition has delivered an impoverished conception of basic, human sanity. In the West, if you speak to yourself out loud all day long, you are considered crazy. But speaking to yourself silently -- thinking incessantly -- is considered perfectly normal. On the Buddhist view, the continuous identification with discursive thought is a kind of madness -- albeit a madness that is very well-subscribed. As some of the retreatants discovered, when thoughts are seen to be mere phenomena arising and passing away in consciousness (along with sights, sounds, sensations, etc.), the feeling that there is a "self" who is the thinker of these thoughts can disappear. This experience of selflessness is interesting for two reasons: it makes perfect sense from a neurological perspective, as there is no privileged position for a self to occupy in the brain. The loss of self can also be deeply liberating. Several labs have begun to study meditators who claim to have ready access to this state. Richard Davidson and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have detected marked differences in the brains of such adepts as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and EEG. Research on the functional effects of meditation is still in its infancy, but there seems to be little question that the practice changes the brain.

Needless to say, any truths uncovered about the human mind through meditation cannot be "Buddhist". And if meditation ever becomes widely adopted as a tool of science, it will be quickly stripped of its Buddhist roots. There are, after all, very good reasons we don't talk about "Christian physics" or "Muslim algebra". Physics and algebra are genuine domains of human inquiry, and as such, they transcend the cultural conditions out of which they arose. Today, anyone emphasizing the religious roots of these intellectual disciplines would stand convicted of not understanding them at all. In the same way, if we ever develop a scientific account of the contemplative path, speaking of "Buddhist" meditation will be synonymous with a failure to assimilate the changes that will have occurred in our understanding of the human mind.

The retreat might have been a significant event in the history of ideas. It could mark the beginning of a discourse on ethics and spiritual experience that is as unconstrained by dogma and cultural prejudice as the discourses of physics, biology, and chemistry are. Other retreats for scientists are now being planned. What effect this will have on our collective understanding of the human mind remains to be seen. But we could be witnessing the birth of a contemplative science.