When I came back from being a monk and said that I had lived three years without sex, intercourse, or masturbation people thought I was either crazy, or, literally, "how the hell did you do it and not kill yourself?" It must have been beyond difficult.
Actually, I was really intrigued by the reaction of a surprisingly large number of people who were appalled at the idea of a celibate lifestyle. They thought that such a practice was stupid, or that is actually stunts and blocks someone from spiritual growth. I’ve heard, "a monk is 'old-world', archaic, doesn't have a place in today's world, and just causes one to suppress and resent sexuality and physical pleasures." I've also heard, "you don't have to be a monk to become enlightened, so why go through all that hardship and sacrifice!"
For many, sex is a very normal and awesome thing, one that we should fully embrace. My libido can hear that. Heck, they even embrace it with multiple partners. In fact, a lot of these people believe that enlightenment can be achieved through and during intercourse. The opposite of monasticism.
I recently saw the 2014 movie Whiplash about a young drummer with aspirations to become a legendary musician. It depicts the journey and sacrifices he chose in order to get to the level of greatness he strove for. He forfeited everything. He sacrificed relationships and comforts. He went through emotional instability. Most of his time was spent with his drum set.
The movie showed the arduous discipline and grueling hours the protagonist spent in training and honing his skills; practicing, and practicing, and practicing. He broke off his sensual/sexual relationships because he knew that he needed to spend that time in training himself, not be distracted, and not feel bad because he knew his priorities would eventually destroy the relationship. We, as a culture, can understand this sacrifice. Some admire it and even congratulate it.
Although we may not necessarily agree with the relationship and behavior of the abusive conductor towards the protagonist, we can understand the principle that greatness doesn't come easy, or cheap. More often than not, you have to put yourself in a situation and place where you are challenged, where your buttons are pressed, where you need to rise up, and transform yourself in order to become F-in’ Great.
Ask any world-class musician, master chef, doctor, teacher, etc. How much time did they spend in training themselves in their craft? How many years did they spend day-in and day-out honing their skills and qualities? What sacrifices did they make? What kind of environment did they put themselves in so that they were challenged to reach the next level? To be great, we accept that this is what it takes. It's the norm. We live in a world where if one wants to be great it takes time and sacrifice to become great.
This principle is no different for monastics. This is why people ordain. They ordain because they see that in order to be great at the spiritual arts and sciences, one has to fully immerse themselves in it; dedicate the majority of their time and efforts to properly studying, practicing, honing, training in it. They give up other activities, lifestyles, and behaviors because their goals and life priorities are bent towards achieving success.
Monasticism is not for everyone. It is a choice and lifestyle that really does "call" to certain people. It is true that a person can live the life of a householder and also be very spiritual and achieve realization. However, there are only 24 hours in a day. If you are married, have a home to take care of, have children, have a job, have a pet, and or have parents to take care of, etc. all this takes up a certain percentage of that 24 hours in the day. Can one make all those activities "spiritual"? Of course. Does a bear sh*t in the woods. However, for some people, doing both at the same time is just too much. Or, some come to a point where they want to just focus all their time and energy towards their spiritual goals.
A monastic has the majority of their time to be free of things that take their time away from study and practice. They do not have sex or masturbate because they knowingly make the choice that they want to spend their time doing other things. A good monastic consciously has the mentality that they want to try to work with their sexual, sensual emotions and urges so that they are not controlled by them. At the same time, they strive to understand them and make peace with them; not suppress or repress them away, avoid them, and inwardly abuse them.
To be blunt, it is very true that many monastics do, out of the nature of the lifestyle of being a monk, suppress their sexual desires and urges. In deciding to constantly suppress and repress these emotions and urges, tsunamis build power deep down in that well within. A torrent lies within that place where they are forced into, locked up, and turned a blind eye to. Many of these individuals eventually unveil immense repressed emotion that often shows itself in very ugly ways. Psychotherapist Carl Jung taught that the body/mind is always looking for a balance. And when something is not being paid attention to, something that needs to be paid attention to in order to attain a true balance, it may show itself in a very ugly way for the purpose of grossly grabbing our attention so that we take a good look at it. Kind of like the teenager that acts out negatively because they will take any attention they can get.
The Lord Gautama Buddha taught that we should neither be attached to or forcefully repel sensuality. Pulling and pushing are two sides of the same coin. He taught to understand its true nature.
A monastic such as this does not make you any less of a person or make your life any less valuable or worth-while. Them being a monastic is their choice, the one they feel is best for them. They are a student of their belief, just as a law student goes to law school, an engineering student goes to a school of engineering, an aspiring doctor goes to medical school, an aspiring mechanic goes to a mechanic school, etc. Monasticism, even if just temporarily, is arguably the best school for the spiritual arts and sciences.
So the next time you see a monastic, monk or nun, look at them with the eyes of this understanding. See their sacrifices and why they make them. See that they have chosen this path because they want to attain and realize the heights and greatness of their religious and spiritual beliefs. Observe that this is just as admirable as the musician, artist, scientist, doctor, or any other professional's journey. And, maybe even a bit special, because in the end their training and sacrifice to become a better person on such a profound level directly creates a better world.
Some 'wokeness' for your day.
Buddhist Verses to Cultivate within our Children and be Learned by Heart
The following are some simple Buddhist practices from the Pāli tradition - Southern School - that both parents and their kids can do together and talk about.
Upon waking, sit up and settle your attention inwards, bring to mind the Triple Gem, and proceed to chant the “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambuddhassa” verse three times. Then, take a moment to reflect on what we can call "Three Universal Facts of Life":
Having obtained the fortune that is this precious human birth, we should often reflect on these three knowledges. In order to understand the depth of these life-points until successfully and fully grasping their significance, we need to diligently study, reflect, practice, and train ourselves properly.
Before bed chant the “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambuddhassa” verse three times. Then take a moment to recite some “Daily Aspirations and Resolutions to Live By", e.g.:
Get some good sleep.
SOME BACKGROUND INFO ON THE CHANTING:
“Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambuddhassa” is a customary preliminary chant that can be recited by itself or as a precursor to other chants. Essentially, it is a verbal practice wherein one is giving respects and honoring to their teacher, which they feel is someone whom has given them the know-how and knowledge of how make the most out of life and how to use it as a wholesome practice.
It is usually literally translated as:
“Homage to Him, the Blessed One, the Worthy Lord, the Fully Self-Enlightened/Awakened One”
Namo refers to Homage, Lowering oneself in reverence and respect
Tassa 'to That Being'
Bhagavato (skt. Bhagavan) in this context / tradition refers to one who is Great, Holy, Blessed, a Lord among humankind.
Arahato refers to Purity, in body speech and mind; pure, removed and free from delusion, disillusionment, anger, greed, lust, jealousy, inferior states of mind; because of that purity, they are Worthy of being a teacher, listened to, their teachings considered/contemplated over, and of having those teachings be tested in practice.
Sammā refers to something being Correct, Proper, Right (not relative, but as an absolute)
SamBuddhassa is two words together: ‘Sam’ means oneself, by oneself (not as a result from efforts of power done by another being and given out). ‘Buddhassa’ refers to True Knowledge, Awakening, Enlightenment. ‘Sambuddhassa’ refers to one who has attained Awakening / Clear Penetrating Sight / Knowing / Absolute Truth by themselves, as a result of their own efforts.
Perhaps put in a different layman’s terms: “I pay Homage, to That Being, Blessed and Holy as a result of their wholesomely dedicated efforts and accomplishments, One who is Worthy to be called a Lord due to purification of mind, speech, and body in the ultimate absolute degree, and has trained themselves over uncountable lifetimes until, as a result of their own efforts, forbearance, and striving has Finally and Fully Awakened to the discovery and Enlightenment of the ultimate truth and reality that lies within (i.e. was not bestowed upon them by some exterior supreme being or deity).
Traditionally and practically, this refers to what we know as a Buddha.
'Nippāna Pajayo Hotu' is kind of like a Buddhist 'Amen', meant to seal the words or practice and direct them towards the attainment of Nippāna (Sanskrit: Nirvāṇa)
Within the various forms of Buddhist meditation, after one has learned to settle the mind - samatha - there comes a time where true insight and the ability to see things clearly as they are - vipassanā - is reached. In the method that leads to realizing the Dhammakāya, as was taught in the Wat Pak Nam temple in Bangkok, Thailand by the famous meditation master Luang Pu Sodt Jantasaro, there exists not just one inner - or what we westerners refer to as 'astral' - body, but multiple. He made reference to succeedingly refined bodies and minds linked within our coarse corporeal body.
The corporeal body that we currently use is composed of the four major elements dhātu, within the element of space ākāsa-dhātu, compiled from and for existence on this place we call Earth. Then there is the mind element viññāṇa-dhātu. These elements are linked together, constituting our body and mind. If they were not linked together we have either a corpse or a spirit without a body. Using this reasoning, mind and body account for the fundamental pillars for living a trended existence on this planet.
In the various Pāli and Sanskrit sūtras, Lord Gautama Buddha discussed the existence of other worlds and life forms, categorizing them into three major realms of: กามภพ kāmma-loka, รูปภพ rūpa-loka, อรูปภพ arūpa-loka. Each of these major realms have varying divisions and levels. Then there is Nirvāṇa, outside the cycle, yet still in the matrix. Not a great fan of Wiki for sūtra research, but for now:
For each of these realms, heavens, or abodes (whatever you want to call them) there are said to be beings that reside in them. A realm then is a place meant to be a container for the beings that reside there to have an existence within it. If we follow this logic - or what some call "facts of the universe" - and the principle that the coarse body we use is composed of and for this earth, then that would naturally mean that for each other realm there would be a corresponding body / form kāya designed for that place. Made to be housed in that place, composed of its elements, coarse and or refined.
The theory (and dare I say, truth) is that all these bodies exist simultaneously in the coarse human body, while the mind is still connected to it. They overlap and are interlinked "ซ้อนกันอยู่". The linking, and - most notably - access point or ‘metaphysical umbilical cord’, just so happens to reside in the abdomen, two of one's own finger-widths above the level of the navel at what was appropriately referred to by Luang Por Sodt Jantasaro as the “center” ศูนย์กลางกาย.
This is a very very interesting word choice. The word ศูนย์ 'sūñña' comes from the Pāli word suññatā which means "emptiness", "zero-ing point", "point of origin". ศูนย์กลาง, pronounced 'soon-glaang' in Thai, refers to the geometric center of an object or shape. กลางกาย, pronounced 'glaang-gaai', means 'middle of the body'. กาย, pronounced 'gaai', comes from the Pāli word kāya, meaning "body" or "form".
When one starts to get to the dhammakāya-gotrabhū, it could be said that they are getting to the Buddha element, buddha-dhātu, the tathagatagharba. This is where a more reliable refuge can now be established because it is outside the three realms, is more refine and with high-levels of purity and power. However, one doesn’t really start reaching an accurate and true internal refuge until they reach the dharmakāya-arahanta, as this is the body/form/shelter kāya that is freed and pure. Also, at this level it is outside of the three characteristics of existence: atta ‘Self’ (though the experience of it is should not be compared to, nor put with the conations of ego, “I” or “mine”), sukha ‘true happiness’, and nijja ‘permanence’. This is the practical reasoning and logic to why it can be called a refuge. It is also said that there are even more refined and more powerful dharmakāyas, on and on, layered deeper within the dharmakāya-arahanta. I think this is an important point to note, especially when considering ‘atta’.
Luang Pu Sodt Jantasaro and Luang Por Dhammajayo state that once one can unify their coarse human body with their uber-refined dharmakāya-arahanta (or beyond that) then abhiñña immediately and automatically arises. To common sense, this would make sense because when you unify a mold or casing that is charged by the element/energy of Nirvāṇa, I would imagine some pretty amazing things happen.
However, I am also told that when one reaches the dharmakāya-gotrabhū then one’s systematic thinking processes and mental software programming changes. One no longer is hindered by the coarse and conditioned physical, mental, and emotional processing of samsara and kilesa. In this way, it is not possible and even futile to analytically attempt to conceive or understand the uber higher-caliber mode of thought of the dharmakāya-gotrabhū, never mind beyond. If one uses an instrument that is not up to par and incompatible for the task, then one cannot achieve the appropriate results.
Also, only when one gets to the gotrabhū state, and begin to be one with it, can he/she begin to practice vipassanā. Only then can that person truly begin to understand the Four Noble Truths. Another perspective is to look at the first of the four foundations of mindfulness in the satipatthana sūtra: kāyanupassi, (kāyanupassana; kāyanupassana-satipatti) “thus s/he dwells observing body in body internally”. Yes it could mean have mindfulness and awareness of the three characteristics of existence in the coarse human body. However, it could also just as equally be interpreted to mean ‘mindfully observing the existence of bodies within bodies inside the coarse human body’. Same goes for vēdananupassi, vēdananupassana. Seeing ‘feeling/emotional state/vēdana’ in vēdana. Each body and mind has an อารมณ์, a feeling, a state of being, a vēdana. And cittanupassi, cittanupassana: seeing mind in mind in mind, etc.
If we go into subjects such as vipassanā (vi: super, supramundane, ‘special’; passana: sight, the faculty of vision, seeing) or even cakkhu, like dibbacakkhu, dhamma-cakkhu, buddha-cakkhu, then there is mention of an eye that is doing the seeing. Can the eye refer to mind? Or to an eye/faculty of vision, which would necessitate a body/form kāya that holds and encases that eye/faculty of vision?
It is said that only when one reaches their dibbacakkhu, being before the other more refined cakkhu, when they can use it to see and know (ñāna-dassana) the other realms and worlds, and see the arising and passing away of beings within the universe and world systems. At this point, one can then witness beings going to different realms according to their previous mental, verbal, and bodily actions (kamma). This is how the Lord Gautama Buddha re-discovered the already existing Law of Karma, the cycle of birth and death, using his various cakkhu.
What about the reference to the element, or actual existence and abode of Nirvāṇa nibbāna-dhātu or āyatana-nibbāna that is in the sūtras? That is a whole 'nother subject. Buddhism is not annihilation-ism.
To look at this a different way, many people have experienced astral traveling. When journeying, many describe the existence of a silky - often described as liquid-silver like - cord, connecting the astral body to the coarse body. Why is the cord there? What is the cord’s purpose?
The refined human body in this 18 body explanation is the astral body, which is why it looks similar to the human body, yet is separate and still somehow connected to the coarse human body. This phenomenon, and such like it, is very well documented in astral traveling circles. Feel free to find a qualified teacher and go see for yourself if it is true!
I will defer to the quality of the Dharma as 'ehipassiko', inviting the partitioner to come, see, and experience it for themselves so they can then decide how they think and feel about it. This is the best way to conclude these discussion points. My intention here is to at least try to put forth effort into explaining the philosophical, practical, and historical significance here. As Wat Phra Dhammakaya is pretty strong in Thailand now, I thought readers and meditation practitioners may want to know more about the deeper aspects of the teachings of BuddhaDharma.
If there is any error or misinterpretation herein, I offer my apologies and state that it does not reflect upon my teachers, but on my own current short-comings.
In service. With metta, openness, and respect for the Dharma.
Since my family has been in Spain, I have had time to surround myself with things that I had hoped would inspire me. I am grateful for the supportive environment that my work and co-workers provide for me. In returning more deeply to meditating, reading, exercise, and life logistics, feeling myself again as an aspiring 'good man', someone suggested I look at the new Netflix series of Marvel's Iron Fist because of my monastic and Buddhist background, and having lived in NYC.
I have never openly discussed what it was like to be a monk, in detail. What happens there, what the daily life is like. What the people there talk about, care about, interact about. Nor do I choose to openly discuss all the reasons why I left, and what that was like. It is not something easy to articulate. To have chosen to train in an ancient tradition over 2,500 years old with an undying succession of master to student, to be taught in an ancient monastic tradition in their own language, join that tradition, and be somewhat accepted therein. To see and experience things that we read about in fairy tails, comic books, and myths or legends. It is not something easy to talk about, because it necessitates a background knowledge in that culture and how they view life and the universe. The bond between members of the monastic community is strong. As it is so old, and profound, it has an inherent power and force to it.
In the Buddhist traditions, it is considered honorable to ordain. Inspiring. Noble. And once ordained, it is considered more honorable to stay ordained for life, i.e. to not leave the family of the monkhood and to fight the good fight there with them. There is nothing inherently wrong with this view, as the purpose of preparing for ordination is that one learns what it means to be a monk and if that is the right life choice for that person. So, out of one’s own free will and accord they decided to step into this life, and accept it’s lifestyle; e.g. not try to change the ancient tradition to fit one’s desires and passions so that it is more agreeable with them.
I have issues with the Iron Fist series, particularly their depictions of “Buddhist” practices, the shortcomings of monastic living vs. the ‘real’ world, and the incredible emotional instability (and acting) of the protagonist - especially after 15 years of hardcore training and being chosen as the bearer of great power. It shows poorly on his training and the ‘Buddhist’ culture he is representing. Although, in fairness, the antagonists in the series do continually refer to the emotional immaturity of the main character, it’s weakness and crippling effect, and the all-around destruction that came about as a result of it. It should be stated that the sect of Buddhism depicted in the Iron Fist series is from the Chinese tradition, perhaps during the Sui dynasty, when there was a time in the culture where war was everywhere and the monks chose to arm themselves, otherwise they faced total annihilation. However this is not original Buddhism, as it directly goes against the teachings of Lord Buddha. Here is an example found in the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha Gatha of the Pali Canon:
Khantī paramaṃ tapo tītikkhā
Nibbānaṃ paramaṃ vadanti buddhā,
Na hi pabbajito parūpaghātī
Na samaṇo hoti paraṃ viheṭhayanto.
Forbearance is the best austerity,
"Nibbana(Nirvana) is Supreme", says the Buddhas.
He is not one gone forth (a term for a monastic) who harms another.
He is not a recluse who molests (physically, mentally, or emotionally abuses) others.
Chinese Buddhist culture aside, what I found myself seeing in the character of Danny Rand (Iron Fist) I see also in myself. I am no Iron Fist, nor do I have aspirations to be a White Savior. I am a simple stumbling fool finding a sense of remorse and therapy from writing “notes” in Facebooklandia.
What I see in myself with Danny Rand, is the beauty of the temple / order that we associate ourselves with. The love towards our Brothers and Sisters and especially our Teachers. The power and miraculousness of the training we went through, and having been chosen to be close to our Teachers and learn directly from them. The feeling of family and of purpose. Of being a warrior of that order and lineage, and of striving to bring honor and integrity to that title. Yet, at the same time, simply not fitting in with their culture because we are outsiders. We felt that there was something calling us back to our culture. And although I had the blessing to leave on good terms, unlike Danny Rand, it was not wholly good in my heart because I know that I disappointed them. Much as Danny Rand felt in his heart too and that guilt doesn’t easily go away. Nevertheless, we followed our heart to return.
Although I have never been in the military or in war, I have heard that there are similarities between people formerly of the monkhood and military when they leave and return home. In returning home, everything we thought was home had changed, as we had changed. And we again felt like outsiders. While still trying to keep the pieces of what philosophy and path we followed and believed in while there, people did not understand. Nor could they, it would seem like a foreign language, almost crazy at times. Often, or eventually, we revert to the familiar language and behavior that they understand in order to fit in, which in turn causes more internal conflict. And this internal conflict expresses itself in our actions: confusion, debilitation, lack of purpose, lack of remembering, frustration, suppression of emotion, self-destructiveness, alienating ourselves from people, not letting people in, not understanding why people don’t see things as we do. All these things are compounded by the feeling of being alone, not in the community any more where the student could approach the Master for advice when in such trouble, although the spiritual connection is still there.
Everyone understands these feelings. You don’t have to have been a monastic to understand them. I understand this because I have been there -and in a way know Danny Rand’s monastic side - and do not always make peace with my demons. I do not think this kind of compassion is properly considered or validated in our society, because it is somewhat unprecedented. It is not mainstream. It’s foreign. Not many people go to become monks, learn and live the culture and tradition, and then leave it and come back. We read about it in tales, comics, and see it in the movies. But choosing to go out and live it, find Masters of ancient wisdom and put in the dues to learn it is a whole different thing.
As in the Iron Fist Netflix series, the western doctors and psycho-therapists would attempt to label such experiences in the realm of pyschological disorders and prescribe medicine to remove the problem. There are definitely times and people who need that, please understand that is not the point I am making. As in the series, Danny Rand is troubled, but not delusion or psychotic about his monastic experience and having seen and experienced things that “are not in the norm”. The trouble of when you walk between different social worlds, with different beliefs and life views, with different priorities, it can be confusing. Not just to the person experiencing it, but especially to those around them. It catches you off guard. There’s no reference point for a lot of this for most people in western culture. In this way, people like Danny Rand come to see how naive and foolish they are, but couldn’t see it right after the big return home, and at the same time so hopeful and believing in the goodness that lies within us all.
Going from a celibate life as a monastic, back to romance and the physical sensations between two lovers, is a whirlwind. And those who have ordained and renounced physical relationships in order to dedicate more time and energy to one’s own personal practice will understand that. It is not to say that relationships are bad, but they come with a price, no matter what level of romanticism we have. Turning one’s relationships into a doorway to constantly be reminded, and practice, to live a true and honorable life, following the teachings one has been taught by true Masters is something very notable and worthy of remembrance.
There is a scene in another Marvel movie of Dr. Strange whereby Steven Strange tells the Ancient One mockingly that he has heard of things like chakras and acupuncture in “gift shops”, mocking them as failing in comparison to “his” understanding of medicine and it’s superiority. The Ancient One then shows him how limited his knowledge is, and how little he knows. That scene is very meaningful to our society, and is prophetic. Flaws of the movie aside, I’m focusing in on the message there.
The modern problem is that there are things that commercial science cannot explain, although advances in quantum physics seems to be providing a way of giving language for expressing and understanding what we term “oriental mysticism”. However, what I would like to point out is that this is not about science vs. the mystic arts. In the culture of Buddhist supernatural practices and achievements, they are referred to as ‘Vijjā’ or ‘Śāstra’, ‘knowledge / wisdom’ and ‘science, rules, manual’ respectively. For example, the english word we use as ‘physics’ is known as ‘bhautikaśāstra’, where “śāstra” refers to scientific and basic knowledge on particular subject. The mystic arts and practices are not something that is etherial, they are considered sciences and knowledge that one can obtain through proper guidance and effort on the practitioner’s part.
We as a western culture are seeking superheroes. Many people flee their realities to play video-games and spend time in ‘living’ in that Marvel - or Superhero filled - world. In general, we are trying to find a refuge wherein we can believe that there is possibility to remove our suffering and the suffering of so many of our fellow humans. Where there is a possibility to overthrow and fight back against the injustices and defects of our society. Where our voice can be heard, and listened to. Or, where we can “become” or control a superhero, obtain supernormal powers and be badass.
Hollywood is amplifying and fulfilling this need, pumping our society with a cyber or cinematic world filled with the possibilities of greatness, or ‘super-powers’. None the less, just as in Marvel’s Iron Fist, they represent the heroes as somehow greatly flawed and haunted. Perhaps this is purposeful so that perhaps we can relate to them more and encourage them in their fight, as we wish to be encouraged in our fight.
This said, when I met real Masters, although they were not perfect and infallible, their quality of character and the wisdom - from years of trial and experience - was/is immensely profound. They are living embodiments of their craft and practice. They are Masters, or superheroes, because they have put immense effort, dedication, and sacrifice to train themselves to the highest level of their knowledge/science/Craft and they continue to train themselves. Moreover, they have learned it from and are tested in it by true and genuine Masters of the same.
Yes, it is a very imperfect world we live in, often filled the a dirty history. As you will see in this interesting YouTube clip highlighting the shortcomings of the Iron Fist series and the cultural dynamics around that cinematic world, we see the serie’s imperfections in its portrayal of all this. However, that doesn’t mean that the lessons they are meant to offer are not valid to anybody from any race, religion, creed, or nationality.
What I was taught is that, “to find wisdom, look within yourself. Do not fight others, fight and make peace with yourself. Blaming others leads to nowhere. To seek wisdom outside of oneself is to seek water outside of the ocean.”
The Theravādan Buddhist temple of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has been under siege by the junta of Thailand. The former Abbot, less respectfully referred to now as “Phra Dhammajayo”, has been accused of involvement in money-laundering and encroachment upon Thai national land.
Multiple searches throughout the temple’s vast compounds by the military, with full cooperation from Wat Phra Dhammakaya, over the months of February and March 2017 resulted in Luang Por Dhammajayo as m.i.a. A big question at this point is, “Why doesn’t he just turn himself in?”
Such inquiry necessitates a framework and background to put it in.
Socially, Thailand is fueled by “face-value”. The perception of who holds power pervades. Throughout Thailand’s history, power frequently changed hands among the ruling royal elite of various domestic, indigenous kingdoms. Thus, there is a social need for whoever holds the power to remind the people.
The first arrest warrant related to these charges was issued for Luang Por Dhammajayo - a more respectful title - on May 17th of 2016 due to him not presenting himself to the authorities to hear the charges against him. The temple had previously sent multiple official requests to have the charges read at the temple due to the former Abbot’s severe and ailing health. Nevertheless, after multiple attempts to enter the temple compound since the arrest warrant was issued have failed due to devotees blocking the entrances, Article 44 was enacted by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and a full-on military siege was brought upon the temple at 3am of February 16, 2017.
Article 44 of the interim Thai Constitution drafted by the current Thai junta states that the Prime Minister may dictate any area of the Kingdom of Thailand a “special control zone” and under martial law. Herein the government also removes itself of any responsibility or liability to an autonomous judicial court.
Is Wat Phra Dhammakaya or Phra Dhammajayo a threat to national security or identity?
Wat Phra Dhammakaya has been under scrutinizing and persecuting limelight from the Thai and International press since the late ‘90s. The temple is dubbed a sect of Buddhism, i.e. not ‘real’ Buddhism. Worse, it has been labeled a cult and we all know there is no coming back from that ominous title.
Any spotlight on the temple highlights a sense of it being stained, blemished. The mainstream press continues to beat the horse that Wat Phra Dhammakaya is a “controversial” temple with a dark past. Moreover, it has supposed affiliation with the Red-Shirt party including political ties with ousted former Thai Prime Minister Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra.
All this is conspiracy. Neither the temple nor its Abbot Emeritus Luang Por Dhammajayo has ever been convicted of any crime, even to this day. To allude to the Red-Yellow Shirt drama of Thailand’s recent past, members of both parties have come to practice their faith at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. The temple does not hold allegiance to one or the other. It holds allegiance to the BuddhaDharma and the practice of Buddhism. Monks take vows to be apolitical. That’s a fact. But that doesn’t make for a good story, gossip, or drama. So the media and press prefer to fabricate and report a story that sells. And people like Buddha-Isara, Mano Laohavanich and Sulak Sivaraksa are ammunition for the drama and the problem. They are neither the solution nor the truth, no matter their social circles, accolades, or academic degrees. Any honest research and analysis of their statements and views shows their short-comings and obvious prejudices. It is also a fair thing to say that judging something before having personally experienced it thoroughly is not a good practice.
The temple is the biggest and most successful in Thailand. It has humungous financial resources at its disposal. Like, trumping Trump-style huuuuge in both national importance and wealth. Because of its financial status, enormity, and style of dissemination of Buddhist teachings, it naturally draws a lot of attention.
The Dhammakaya Foundation is an United Nations affiliated Non-Government Organization. It has its own FREE satellite channel that disseminates teachings of both the scriptures as well as morality and self-development based on the BuddhaDharma of Lord Buddha and commentated on by the many adept scholars and practitioners that reside in the temple. The temple hosts gargantuan ceremonies within its enormous compounds and structures, some of which can comfortably hold up to 1 million people. They enact programs for youth moral development and education, assist with domestic and foreign disaster relief, support deserted and abandoned temples throughout Thailand, encourage Buddhists to support and participate in religious activities within their own communities (and not particularly with Wat Phra Dhammakaya), and are bridge-builders. An example of this is they spent much of 2016 and 2017 in a continuous ceremony of chanting the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the first sermon of the Lord Buddha in the Pali language. In the beginning of 2017, they had completed over 16 million rounds. Monks and laypeople from not just all over Thailand but all over Asia - and of different denominations of Buddhism - would visit to participate, thus bringing the Buddhist community together under the common banner of arguably the most important teaching in the faith and practice. Because of their altruistic motivation to protect, guard, and see to the growth of Buddhism in Thailand, they attract more attention and devotees.
The fact is, this predicament is not about Luang Por Dhammajayo wanting to turn himself in or not. Frankly, the devotees will not allow Luang Por Dhammajayo to turn himself in!
In reality, there is no proof or promise that Luang Por Dhammajayo will receive a fair trial. Recent arrests using the Computer Crime Act of Thai citizens who questioned or criticized the junta, and the March 2017 United Nations meeting in Geneva where Thai officials failed to address international concerns about the junta’s obligation to uphold civil and political rights, cause grave concern and doubt. Why would there then be an honest, altruistic system of justice in Thailand? This isn’t Kansas, Dorothy.
People have died and been abused. Anawat Thanacharoennat committed self-immolation outside the temple to raise public awareness against Article 44. A volunteer nurse, Pattana Chiangraeng, died due to the military barricades not permitting an oxygen tank and medicine to pass to save her from a simple asthma attack. Women, men, and monks who created a human shield to nonviolently protest against the siege were sent to ICUs for injuries inflicted during a confrontation wherein Thai military soldiers and police abused them.
Disciples of Wat Phra Dhammakaya feel the junta is stepping out of line with ulterior agendas, without proper evidence, using the hunt for Luang Por Dhammajayo as a smoke and dagger. The devotees further believe there will not be sufficient medical care for Luang Por Dhammajayo’s dire medical condition of severe deep-vein thrombosis in the left leg, chronic venous insufficiency, diabetes, venous stasis ulcers, hyperlipidemia, sensitivity to light, allergies, hypertension, and vertigo. Books like The King Never Smiles by Paul M Handley or Welcome to Hell by Colin Martin showcase Thailand’s political and court systems as not known for their pleasant, or humane history. There is a very real possibility that “Phra Dhammajayo” will receive neither proper medical attention nor fair treatment while in custody. The fact that he is a 72 year-old man, and still a Buddhist monk, does not seem to interfere with the junta’s conviction to make an example out of him.
The international, and especially western world, need to understand a code that true Buddhist practitioners live by. Honor and see to the care of one's teachers, most especially one’s “gurus” ครูบาจารย์. This does not simply mean giving your teacher an apple out of appreciation and being done with it for the day. Thailand is not a western world with a western paradigm and Christian or Jewish enculturation. We would do good to put ourselves in their shoes and their cultural background. The act of gratitude and giving back is a well-known, fundamental, and cardinal virtue instilled in disciples and practitioners of BuddhaDharma, of not just Thailand but all of Asia and the world.
The media and press undervalue the profound depths of this last truth. Why would temple followers willingly expose Luang Por Dhammajayo, their teacher, to potential - and probable - unfair treatment, humiliation, and improper medical attention? All of which may even result in death? Most especially when they believe and know him to be innocent.
The Thai military government, which influences - if not controls - both domestic and international media and press has consistently and effectively damaged the reputation and face of the temple for decades. Almost like a chess game, they have moved their pieces for years, waiting, preparing, calculating, and anticipating a situation or moment where they can make their move and effectively bring the temple down. Potentially more than just the temple. A temple with as much assets and financial backing as Wat Phra Dhammakaya could definitely benefit a junta that has already spent over 100 million Baht putting Wat Phra Dhammakaya under seige. Yet no one seems to report that side of the story.
That is why Luang Por Dhammajayo is not being turned in.
soundscapes while you read:
There is a Poison.
It steps in the back entrance, when we aren’t looking. It enters in the most minuscule but problematic way. Once in, it festers. It grows in strength and effect, but not all at once. It is good at its job; not too much or too little as to make a scene and draw attention. First, from behind the scenes of our waking eyes and conscious awareness, it gathers its power. From the depths within, this virus in our human software programming begins to take control. It influences our life understanding. This automatically affects our thinking and mental processes. From our thoughts it moves to our speech, and from there to our actions. The web this spider spins becomes vast, very vast. Yet, if we know where to look, we can begin to take control again.
That Poison is Ignorance.
This Poison is debilitating, blinding us from seeing Truth. Ignorance begets separation, separation from our original state of Union. Separation breeds other poisons, namely: craving, anger, and delusion. From these three the web grows and spreads. Its influence reaches an encompassing level of effectiveness. Yet all is not lost, there is medicine.
The medicine is Wisdom.
Yet, before taking medicine we really would do best to find a good Doctor. One that is masterly in her/his Craft, is willing to help, and knows what particular medicine to prescribe based on the individual condition, needs and stage of affectedness in the patient. We can take medicine ourselves, yes, but the problem there is that we are not Doctors in the beginning, we are patients. Our state of suffering and discomfort, big or small, effects our decision making process. Honestly, we don’t know right away what is the best medicine for us. We may get lucky and stumble upon something good to get us going but it is not the same as having a true and good Doctor there to help us help ourselves. There are varying degrees and strengths of medicine, just as is the case with Wisdom.
Wisdom is Truth, and the Light to see and know what it is as well as what it is not.
Wisdom is not effective as a full cure immediately. Just as the Poison entered slowly, so is potency of the cure. Supplementing with wisdom daily, reviewing and reflecting on it, builds up our immune and begins to free us from the bonds and hooks of the Poison. They say a good Doctor knows and treats the root of the problem, not simply the symptoms. To see the roots and its depths, as well as how to properly and fully cure it, takes great skill and proficiency. True medicine here begins with seeing and knowing what is happening inside of us. This first step is to become aware of the problem: what is affecting, even controlling, our thoughts and understanding. Like any muscle, it needs training. And training takes time. The more we use this medicine, consistently, the deeper it sinks in and the stronger its effect. As the true Doctor empowers us with the tools to help us help ourselves, it is our job to do the work of taking the medicine. A Doctor’s motivation and intention therefore is to bring us to a point where eventually we no longer need the Doctor, and in effect become the Doctor ourselves. But before we get ahead of ourselves it is enough to let the situation we discover ourselves to be in, sink in.
There is a Poison. Treat it. That is the first Noble Truth.
An intriguing article written by Maja D'Aoust
The Alchemy of India, so often overlooked by Westerners, provides a vital decryption of the global Alchemical cipher. It can be said that each culture, era and individual Alchemy has passed through expresses a different aspect of its teachings and potentiality, so to emit any one amalgamation of it would only provide a disservice. To see all the intricate coils of Alchemy’s serpentine union with humanity, we must include the practices of the East. India provides a missing link alluded to but never explicitly explained in the European Alchemical texts, which provides the key to unlocking the true goal of the Magnum Opus. The omitted ingredient in the Alchemical formulae left so obscure and obtuse becomes crystallized upon inspection of the Yogic material; it is the preparation of the flesh and blood of the living Alchemist performing the procedure.
“One of the constituents of the alchemical formula exists only within the nature of man himself, without which his chemicals will not combine, and though he spend his life and fortune in chemical experimentation, he will not produce the desired end. The paramount reason why the material scientist is incapable of duplicating achievements of the mediaeval alchemists-although he follow every step carefully and accurately- is that the subtle element which comes out of the nature of the illuminated and regenerated alchemical philosopher is missing in his experimentation.” 
Yoga is Alchemy. Alchemy is Yoga. Bold statements to those who have only peered through the Alchemical lens of the European alchemists, but upon investigation of the Indian traditions, we see that the two are one and the same; an endeavor to rejoin what was separated. Yoga and Alchemy are, at their very core, the unification of the opposites, the Mysterium Conjunctio, the reunification of the masculine and feminine into a perfect, unbreakable circle. They are the never-ending ouroborus who shows us that the goal and the source are one and the same. There is nothing more Tantric than the pursuit of Alchemy, and I wish there existed a singular word that could mean yoga/alchemy/tantra joined into one cylindrical syllable to express this.
It is very difficult to study and discuss things such as Yoga and Alchemy, for inherently we must create some sort of definition and articulation of what exactly is included in these activities. But when we are discussing activities that, according to origin legends, were taught to mankind over eons of time through different cultures and languages by serpents from the sky, these definitions are anything but definite.
To find out what something is, it is helpful to look at where it comes from. Alchemy is no exception, but because its origins are so outlandish, this could possibly be a more difficult task than the process of turning lead into gold itself. The word Alchemy means “from Egypt”, and usually this is its accepted location of inception. It is important to remember, however, that this name was given to a set of practices from the Arabs who discovered it when they invaded Egypt. This does not really provide proof that Alchemy comes from Egypt, simply that it was there when the Arabs came in and discovered it. For the Arabs who confiscated the materials from Egypt, that was its origin, this is true. But let us not close our minds into isolating the practices of Alchemy to a singular origin and a singular country on account of a name given to a process by invading zealots. In fact there is no small amount of information recounting that Alchemy may have originated in China. Instead we may break open our heads and investigate the magical nature of the practices themselves and see them pervading many cultures across the globe to start to uncover the message that all this information is trying to communicate to us.
It is possible to time travel and try to judge the origins of Alchemy by the earliest written records of the Alchemical process. Although, personally, I would not say this is accurate either. For within the earliest written records of Alchemy, it is stated that its story begins from Serpents, Fallen Angels, Messengers, Rishis, Star beings, and otherworldly entities that communicate the information to mankind through fire and intercourse. Alchemy comes to Egypt through Poimandres, the great serpent who appears to Hermes in a pillar of fire. It comes to India from the Rishi Angiras who fell from the sky. Nagarjuna learns Alchemy in Kashmir from the serpents, or Nagas, who whisper it in his ear. Tonpa Shenrab receives it in the form of the 5th veda which falls from the skies. Mircea Eliade in his research points out that Alchemy is related to Shamanism and extends into pre-history. In my own mind it seems, that Alchemy really is a set of techniques which have been used by Shamans across the globe that became isolated, specialized, refined and specified by different cultures and individuals until they came through Europe and turned into the quest for gold through chemistry as it is known today.
How then can we define Alchemy in terms of a delineation of practices and techniques? Alchemy can best be described as a set of techniques to be actively performed, the main goal of which is to achieve a unification of the opposites. This unification ultimately joins the practitioner with the primordial force from which they came.
“The secret content of the Hermetic vessel is the original chaos from which the world was created”
It is through this definition, Alchemy’s ultimate goal of unification, and the realization that the transformative substance is God itself that we can start to tie it into the fabric of India and Yoga.
The word Yoga means literally to join together, as in the yoking of a cart to an oxen, and means a conjunction. If we add the most popular type of Yoga here in the west, Hatha, we see in the words themselves their Alchemical nature. The word Hatha means sun and moon, so that the words “Hatha Yoga” mean the joining together of the sun and moon, which is the essence of the Mysterium Conjunctio, the Alchemical wedding and the aim of the end of Alchemy.
“The word Hatha also has a deeper esoteric significance. Thus its two component syllables, ha and tha are frequently explained as standing for the microcosmic sun and moon while yoga is the union between these two psychoenergetic principles.”
Hatha Yoga, as it is known and in this Alchemical context, originates from a special group of Yogis known for their alchemical abilities called the Nath Siddhas. A Siddha is a name used to describe someone who has mastered a Siddhi, literally translated as an achievement, meaning essentially a magical superpower. The Siddhas of India were eminently accomplished in Alchemy and had the ability to perform magical feats such as transmutation of elements by way of the Siddhis that were obtained using Tantric yoga techniques.
The Eight Siddhis the Siddha Alchemist may achieve have been described thusly:
If we are to be narrow minded and define Alchemy, as many dictionaries would, only as the process of the transmutation of lead into gold, it deserves no small amount of attention that Yogi’s throughout the history of India have been described as being able to accomplish just that with no more effort than the wave of a hand. The difference between the Yogi who performs this task and the European Alchemist is that the Yogi has no laboratory or equipment, he executes it within his own body. The mercury and sulphur were ingested, eaten, not mixed in external vessels. The Alchemical process was consumed and transubstantiated in the flesh. The Yogi was, in essence, a walking transmutator who had performed the Eucharist within.
This transmutational ability is illustrated in many of the tales of the Tantrikas who could turn their own bodily fluids into gold. This is brilliantly visually portrayed in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film “Holy Mountain” in the scene where the Alchemist makes gold from excrement.
Often utilizing his own urine or feces, the Tantic Siddha understood that even the seemingly filthiest substances on earth were as pure as gold.
“Like the sun which dries up everything, or like fire, which consumes everything, so the yogin enjoys everything but is not stained by sin. Like the wind, which touches everything, or like space, which is everywhere, or like those immersing themselves completely in rivers, the yogin is always pure.” 
The Sivasamhita and the Yogataiva Upanishad state that a Yogin can make gold from any metal by rubbing it with his own excrement and urine. This might seem grotesque, but even in European alchemical texts, the Philosopher’s stone is often described using words that are fairly fecal, and instructions for its preparation often include scatological ingredients. Tantric ritual practices involving feces, urine and blood are found throughout the tomes of the Western Alchemists. One need only examine the instructions laid out by Paracelsus for the formation of an Homunculus to see how very Tantric indeed this procedure is.
For the Tantric Siddha, the body became the stone. Flesh was made impermeable and immortal by performing Alchemy. The Yogi was transformed on a molecular level into the “diamond body”. The concept of the diamond body became most elaborated in the Tantra of Tibet, known as Vajrayana. Vajrayana translates literally into “diamond vehicle” or “diamond body”. The proper preservation of the body was the mechanism of the Alchemy of the East and through these practices the ultimate goal was achieved.
The goal of these practices was to make the body incorruptible and as impenetrable as an Hermetic vessel. To turn the flesh into something nothing could affect, not time, not space, not age, not even death itself.
“At length the body is compelled to resign itself to, and obey, the union of the two that are united (soul and spirit). That is the wondrous transformation of the philosophers, of body into spirit, and of the latter into body…Make the unyielding body tractable, so that by the excellence of the spirit coming together with the soul it becomes a most stable body ready to endure all trials. For gold is tried in the fire.”
Alchemy becomes Tantric when we start to realize that the purpose of this unification of the opposites is to Unleash God through material existence by unifying male and female principles. More importantly, that the existence it is referring to is us, as in our bodies. Thus also are the aims of Tantra, to unleash the metaphysical through the physical and unite them in an unending circle.
But then comes the problem of what we mean by Tantric, for what exactly does Tantrism entail? Here we meet with the same and connected problem of defining Alchemy and Yoga, and we are dealing with a different translation of the one universal mystery of spirit’s relationship to matter. The word Tantra may be translated to mean “weave together continuously”. This connotes the idea of a beginning-less, endless loom constantly weaving together much like the process DNA undergoes in our bodies.
Many would argue that Alchemy, Yoga and Even Shamanism have their origins in Tantrism, but here is a discourse that covers thousands of works of scholars from around the world. The one thing perhaps scholars can not deny is the severe ancientness of Tantric practices. To attempt to explain the concept of Tantra can not be performed within the confines of this article, so I must state it simply and generally and hope to be forgiven. Tantrism is a form of worship, that is panentheistic like many types of paganism, which has many forms, sects, practices and texts extending over thousands of years and countries. I like to define Tantra as an exploration for God in the physical world through sacrificial ecstatic ritual, whether this be done by immersion (left hand path) or abstention (right hand path).
Tantra is akin to the Pantheistic views of the pagans that god permeates the world, and that the physical contains God as much as the Heavens. This panentheistic view was actually removed from Yoga at the advent of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali because Patanjali expressly differentiates the world and the soul or higher self as two separate entities, much like Descartes did in the West. True older forms of Yoga however are panentheistic, as well as neo-Yoga philosophers such as Sri Aurobindo and other post-classical yoga scholars. This panentheistic dogma of Tantra reads exactly like the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, and specifically relates to the Alchemical adage; as above so below. For if God was in Heaven, he also was on earth;
“If the divine is everywhere, as the Tantric adepts affirm, it must also be present in and as the body” 
The rites and rituals of Tantra, like Alchemy and Yoga are based upon a unification of the opposites, Shiva and Shakti, and specifically the re-integration of the feminine principle into the world.
“It is very difficult to define or even generalize about Tantrism. What can usefully be said is that the pivot of most Tantric schools is the idea of Shakti, the feminine principle of cosmic existence, the goddess…the rediscovery of the feminine principle was accompanied by a reappraisal of the human body and bodily existence in general which widely have a negative significance in the non-Tantric traditions.” 
True Tantra in essence is the complete sacrifice of the self to God through unification of the opposites. This involves every part of the body being abandoned and offered to be filled with God. The majority of Tantric techniques, as in the actual rites and rituals performed, are all ecstatic and involve the conscious entrance into rapture. This is something many people can never grasp when they see the practices of the Tantrikas delineated which seem indulgent, sexually perverse or grotesque; that each one of these horrifying actions is done to unify the adept with god by reconciling light and darkness within himself through sacrifice.
This concept is perhaps best illustrated through the image of the Chinnamasta goddess who decapitates herself that others may feed off of her blood. It may seem counterintuitive, but in order to overcome a demon in Tantra, you must willingly offer yourself to it wholly and completely. This is a literal offering made of what is your most corporeal possession, your body. We can see examples of this throughout Shamanism in all its forms, and one of my own personal favorite examples is that of a Dakini ritual performed by Tibetan Tantric Shamans;
“Visualize thyself as the wrathful Dakini, that thou strippest the hide from thy body, and spreadest it out so that it covereth the third-void universe, and upon it heapest all thy bones and flesh. Then, when the malignant spirits are in the midst of enjoying the feast, imagine that the wrathful Dakini taketh the hide and rolleth it up…and dasheth it down forcibly, reducing it and all its contents to a mass of bony and fleshy pulp, upon which many mentally-produced wild beasts feed.”
It is in the spirit of this sacrifice that the Tantric sexual ecstatic techniques are utilized. The use of sex is the most notorious of Tantric practices and many people have the misconception that the Tantrika engages in sex for licivious purposes. Far from being indulgent abandonment as may be perceived by the onlooker, Tantric sexuality is a purely concentrated enactment of unification. Sex is basically an alchemical performance of unification of the two opposites, male and female and the culmination of the Mysterium Conjunctio when performed with conscious intention.
“The Parallels between Tantra, Ayurveda and Alchemy all have their origin in a philosophy that conceptualizes the universe in sexual or erotic terms, as the creation of Shiva and Shakti. In medieval Indic Alchemy, the sexual fluid of the Goddess was equated with mica, her menstrual blood with sulphur. Together with Shiva’s semen, in the form of Mercury, it was supposed to produce Gold.”
Sex is really a form of the prima material, the primordial origin, since it is through sex we are created, it is through sex we may be re-united with our source.
This sexual unification is shown throughout Western Alchemy but is always considered metaphorical and not literal. The Hermaphrodite, male and female combined into one figure is one of the most traditional symbols of the alchemical process. In the West, the Hermaphrodite was only something that occurred with the unification of metals, not our own bodies. But the history of this unified Androgyn must never be forgotten as a representation of our own frames joined in unison in the act of creation. The Hermaphrodite is seen everywhere in Yogic and Vedic traditions. A form of Shiva is even depicted as the Hermaphrodite, known as the Ardhanari. In Tantra, the Hermaphrodite is considered the ultimate accomplishment of the task of Yoga, and is literally an expression of enlightenment;
“The neuter (hermaphrodite) state of monistic existence, which is the result of the union of Siva and Shakti, is revealed of itself without any separate worship thereof. The attributeless aspect which is the fruit of all sadhana, and in which, at the conclusion of all sadhana, the worshipper sinks and loses himself cannot be attained while sadhana continues. It is attained by the great Siddhi known as nirvana”
Tantric Alchemy was so disgusting to the European Alchemist perhaps because of the disassociation with the body and the largely Christian consideration of the physical world as sinful. Christian Alchemists could not endure the thought that their bodies might lead them to God, particularly through the dreadful act of fornication. Indian Yoga and Tantric Alchemy went underground due to the simple fact that our bodies were filthy.
“According to most spiritual traditions the desire for worldly pleasures is incompatible with the spiritual quest. You can have the treasures of this world, they say, or the treasure of the spiritual world but not both…The Tantric approach to life avoids this painful dilemma by taking the whole person into account-our human as well as our spiritual nature. The literal meaning of Tantra is “to weave, to expand, to spread” and according to the Tantric adepts, we can achieve true and everlasting fulfillment only when all the threads of the fabric of life are woven according to the pattern designated by nature” 
With this intensely intimate connection of Alchemy to the body, we begin to unravel the mystery of Alchemy’s relationship to healing practices throughout India, China and Europe. The most famous Alchemists, after all, were healers of disease. From the Shamans, to the Siddhas of Tamil, to the Taoist Alchemists who developed Chinese medicine, to Paracelsus who helped form modern medicine as we know it today. Because the Eastern alchemists truly incorporated the transmutation of the body in their practice it is no surprise that they were able to cure disease. If the goal of the alchemical body is incorruptibility, it can not be permeated by disease.
“The Siddhas know how to preserve the body through light rays, sound waves and medicine. The technique of the preservation of the body is called kaya-sadhana. It is an attempt to attain a perfected. In short, one who has obtained the power of dematerializing and spiritualizing the body and knows how to transmute the corruptible physical into the incorruptible superphysical basis of life is a Siddha. A Siddha attains and posseses an eternal spiritual body called divya-deha and is able to finally break out of the karmic cycle and attain deliverance from Space-time.”
The ability to heal is a result of the accomplishment of the Alchemical body, just as transmutation is. Therefore, the other most sought after goal of alchemy in Europe, the elixer vitae for the Easterners, like the Philosopher’s stone, is simply a byproduct of undergoing the physical Alchemical process in their quest for unification with God.
It is clearly obvious in much of the written texts of the European alchemists that they knew their own bodies were the missing key to the Alchemical operation, but I believe it was simply unsavory for the majority of individuals in Christian cultures to truly understand, as is evidenced in the enigmatic language used to attempt to convey this truth in the manuscripts. We see hints and allusions to this fact throughout the western texts, but never are the actual techniques revealed as to how to accomplish this feat as they are so simply explained in the Indian alchemical material. This physical realization was kept so hidden, out of a general fear of its implications and caused Alchemy in the West to degenerate to a purely chemical action, removed not only from the Alchemist but from the creator and confined within a laboratory isolated from nature herself.
I believe if the Alchemists of Europe had free access to the myriad ecstatic techniques of Yoga utilized in India, we may have seen the tradition grow in humanity to alter our consciousness as a species. The free discourse and development of Alchemy in mankind could be what unleashes forever the consciousness of our true potentiality. But instead it became stymied, defiled and perverted due to a taboo assigned to it. For the European Alchemists who were able to include themselves, using meditative techniques and usually abstention, or full on experiences of rapture resulting as a consequence from their activities, were able to accomplish the task which the Indians did so openly and unfettered. What if they had been able to consciously, and specifically accomplish this with no reservation?
This is what Indian alchemy has to offer, an explicit ungarbled extremely specific modality to develop that missing ingredient to complete the Alchemical operation in the West; the Alchemists body itself;
“For in the individual was hidden that substance of celestial nature known to very few, the incorrupt medicament”
The practices within Yoga and Tantra make the Alchemist’s flesh the Philosophers stone (the diamond) and as a result he transmutes all he touches.
“The Philosopher’s stone is really the philosophical stone, for philosophy is truly likened to a magic jewel whose touch transmutes base substances into priceless gems like itself. Wisdom is the alchemists powder of projection which transforms many thousand times its own weight of gross ignorance into the precious substance of enlightenment.”
The Alchemist is the elixer vitae who heals by homeopathic contagion. But this is not his aim, it is simply a by-product of his enlightened state of being and is accomplished through the Siddhis he has attained through ecstatic Tantric techniques.
In the East, the Alchemies of India and China are focused not only performing Alchemy, but rather, becoming Alchemy as a way to unify with God. Perhaps we, the Alchemists of today may remedy these mistakes of separation of the past and coagula all the aspects of Alchemy in different cultures, weaving them Tantrically together in a loom that will result in a unified Alchemical operation to invade the minds, bodies and souls of us all.
 Hall, Manly P. 2003. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Tarcher. Pg. 509.
 S. Mahdihassan Chinese origin of Alchemy and Alchemy and its Chinese Origins Revealed by its Etympology, Doctrines and Symbols Postscript of M. Eliade’s Forge and the Crucible pg. 192
 See Zosimos Isis the Prophetess to her Son Horus
 Eliade, Mircea. 1979. The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy. University of Chicago Press. Chicago.
 “The conjunctio is the central idea of the alchemical procedure” Herbert Silberer. 1917. Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism. Moffat Yard & Co. pg 121
 Jung, C.G. 1963 Mysterium Coniunctionis Bollingen/Pantheon books New York, NY. pg. 279
 Feuerstein, George. 1997. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga. Shambhala Publications Boston Mass. Pg 118
 White, David Gordon. 1996. The Alchemical Body. University of Chicago Press.Pg. 9
 See the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
 For some great biographical stories of the Alchemical Siddhas, I like Buddha’s Lions; the Lives of the Eighty Four Siddhas by Abhayadatta translated by James B. Robinson Dharma Publishing 1979.
 Ganapathy, T.N. 2003. The Yoga of Siddha Boganthar; Volume 1. Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Publications, Inc. Pg.137
 James Campbell Brown from his History of Chemistry as quoted in Manly P. Hall’s Secret Teachings of all Ages pg. 502
 Although certainly the history of the Alchemical tradition in India is littered with those seeking only the ability to create gold as in Europe (even the purest of the goldmakers may fall victim to its glitter).
 In this tale, Tagore tells of a student who seeks out a Guru and finds him on a river bank. He asks the teacher if he has discovered the Philosopher’s stone. The Guru replies that he did indeed and that he threw it over into the mud. Upon hearing this, the student begins digging frantically through the mud only to pause and realize that if the Guru had no interest in the Philosopher’s stone and threw it away, there must be something far more valuable which he learned in the process of obtaining it.
 E.g. Nagarjuna, Nagabodhi, Boganathar and all the Nath Siddhas
 Kula-Arnava-Tantra (9.76-77)
 See Jung, C.G. 1980. Psychology and Alchemy. Routledge.
 See Paracelsus, The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. (with A.E. Waite)
 I like to note that the word “corrupt” comes from the French Coeur, meaning heart and rupture, so that its literal meaning is heart broken, or ruptured heart. The heart of the alchemist then is transformed into an unbreakable diamond.
 Dorn as quoted in Jung’s Mysterium Coniounctionis pg 481.
 I like to compare Tantrism to Paganism because its decline is very similar to the Pagans of Egypt. Hinduism took over areas where Tantra was practiced and Tantric practices were absorbed into other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism in much the same way Pagan rituals were absorbed into Christianity first in Egypt and then throughout Europe and the Northern regions of Scandinavia.
 Feuerstein, George. 1998. Tantra; The Path of Ecstasy. Shambhala. pg 224
 Feuerstein, George. 1997. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga. Shambhala Publications: Boston Mass. Pg.304
 Many of the Tantric Siddhas decapitated themselves to end their lives in sacrifice, Nagarjuna himself being the most famous example.
 As expounded in M. Eliade’s Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. 2004. Princeton University Press.
 Dakini is my own given middle name.
 Evans-Wentz, W.Y. 1967. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctirnes. Oxford University Press. Pg. 311-2 330-31
 Feuerstein, George. 1998. Tantra; The Path of Ecstasy. Shambhala. Pg.233.
 Even though we are all Hermaphrodites in embryonic form until one of the gonads drops and develops.
 Avalon, Arthur. 1952. Principles of Tantra. Ganesh & Co. pg. 384.
 Tigunait, Pandit Rajmani Ph.D. 2009. Tantra Unveiled; Seducing the Forces of Matter and Spirit. Himalayan Institute Press.
 Ganapathy, T.N. 2003.The Yoga of Siddha Boganthar; Volume 1. Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Publications, Inc. Pg.5
 The elixer of life produced by alchemists in Europe India and China
 For some specifics on the techniques used, please the see the work of David Gordon White in The Alchemical Body and The Kiss of the Yogini.
 Dorn as quoted by Jung, C.G. Mysterium Coniunctionis pg 475
 Hall, Manly P. 2003. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Tarcher. Pg. 305.
Maja D’Aoust’s interest in alchemy and the estoeric sciences spans her entire lifetime. After completing her bachelors degree in biochemistry, Maja studied oriental medicine and acupuncture and later earned her masters degree in Transformational Psychology at the University of Philosophical Research with a focus on Shamanism, the I Ching and ancestors in her thesis work.
Maja worked for 11 years as the Librarian of Manly P. Hall’s Philosophical Research Society where she also lectured on alchemical topics.
Currently, Maja lectures at the Besant Lodge in Hollywood and is available for speaking engagements.
Find her at: http://godismyboyfriend.com
I thought this was a very interesting article written by a well-read and published scholar.
BY ALAN WATTS
I have often thought of writing a novel, similar to Thomas Mann’s “Confessions of Felix Krull,” which would be the life story of a charlatan making out as a master guru – either initiated in Tibet or appearing as the reincarnation of Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, or some other great historical sage of the Orient. It would be a romantic and glamorous tale, flavored with the scent of pines in Himalayan valleys, with garden courtyards in obscure parts of Alexandria, with mountain temples in Japan, and with secretive meetings and initiations in country houses adjoining Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. It would also raise some rather unexpected philosophical questions as to the relations between genuine mysticism and stage magic. But I have neither the patience nor the skill to be a novelist, and thus can do no more than sketch the idea for some more gifted author.
The attractions of being a trickster guru are many. There is power and there is wealth, and still more the satisfactions of being an actor without need for a stage, who turns “real life” into a drama. It is not, furthermore, an illegal undertaking such as selling shares in non-existent corporations, impersonating a doctor, or falsifying checks. There are no recognized and official qualifications for being a guru, though now that some universities are offering courses in meditation and Kundalini Yoga it may soon be necessary to be a member of the U.S. Fraternity of Gurus. But a really fine trickster would get around all that by the one-upmanship of inventing an entirely new discipline outside and beyond all known forms of esoteric teaching.
It must be understood from the start that the trickster guru fills a real need and performs a genuine public service. Millions of people are searching desperately for a true father-Magician, especially at a time when the clergy and the psychiatrists are making rather a poor show, and do not seem to have the courage of their convictions or of their fantasies. Perhaps they have lost nerve through too high a valuation of the virtue of honesty – as if a painter felt bound to give his landscapes the fidelity of photographs. To fulfil his compassionate vocation, the trickster guru must above all have nerve. He must also be quite well-read in mystical and occult literature, both that which is historically authentic and sound in scholarship, and that which is somewhat questionable – such as the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, P.D. Ouspensky, and Aleister Crowley. It doesn’t do to be caught out on details now known to a wide public.
After such preparatory studies, the first step is to frequent those circles where gurus are especially sought, such as the various cult groups which pursue oriental religions or peculiar forms of psychotherapy, or simply the intellectual and artistic milieux of any great city. Be somewhat quiet and solitary. Never ask questions, but occasionally add a point – quite briefly – to what some speaker has said. Volunteer no information about your personal life, but occasionally indulge in a little absent-minded name-dropping to suggest that you have travelled widely and spent time in Turkestan. Evade close questioning by giving the impression that mere travel is a small matter hardly worth discussing, and that your real interests lie on much deeper levels.
Such behavior will soon provoke people into asking your advice. Don’t come right out with it, but suggest that the question is rather deep and ought to be discussed at length in some quiet place. Make an appointment at a congenial restaurant or cafe – not at your home, unless you have an impressive library and no evidence of being tied down with a family. At first, answer nothing, but without direct questioning, draw the person out to enlarge on his problem and listen with your eyes closed – not as if sleeping, but as if attending to the deep inner vibrations of his thoughts. Conclude the interview with a slightly veiled command to perform some rather odd exercise, such as humming a sound and then suddenly stopping. Carefully instruct the person to be aware of the slightest decision to stop before actually stopping, and indicate that the point is to be able to stop without any prior decision. Make a further appointment for a report on progress.
To carry this through, you must work out a whole series of unusual exercises, both psychological and physical. Some must be rather difficult tricks which can actually be accomplished, to give your student the sense of real progress.
Others must be virtually impossible – such as to think of the words yes and no at the same instant, repeatedly for five minutes, or with a pencil in each hand, to try to hit the opposite hand – which is equally trying to defend itself and hit the other. Don’t give all your students the same exercises but, because people love to be types, sort them into groups according to their astrological sun signs or according to your own private classifications, which must be given such odd names as grubers, jongers, milers, and trovers.
A judidous use of hypnosis – avoiding all the common tricks of hand-raising, staring at lights, or saying “Relax. Relax, while I count up to ten” will produce pleasant changes of feeling and the impression of attaining higher states of consciousness.
First, describe such a stage quite vividly – say, the sense of walking on air – and then have your students walk around barefooted trying not to make the slightest sound and yet giving their whole weight to the floor. Imply that the floor will soon feel like a cushion, then like water, and finally like air. Indicate a little later that there is reason to believe that something of this kind is the initial stage of levitation.
Next, be sure to have about thirty or forty different stages of progress worked out, giving them numbers, and suggest that there are still some extremely high stages beyond those numbered which can only be understood by those who have reached twenty-eight – so no point in discussing them now. After the walking-on-air gambit, try for instance having them push out hard with their arms as if some overwhelming force were pulling them. Reverse the procedure. This leads quickly to the feeling that one is not doing what one is doing and doing what one is not doing. Tell them to stay in this state while going about everyday business.
After a while let it be known that you have a rather special and peculiar background – as when some student asks, “Where did you get all this?” Well, you just picked up a thing or two in Turkestan, or “I’m quite a bit older than I look,” or say that “Reincarnation is entirely unlike what people suppose it to be.” Later, let on that you are in some way connected with an extremely select in-group. Don’t brashly claim anything. Your students will soon do that for you, and, when one hits on the fantasy that pleases you most, say, “I see you are just touching stage eighteen.”
There are two schools of thought about asking for money for your services. One is to have fees just like a doctor, because people are embarrassed if they do not know just what is expected of them. The other, used by the real high-powered tricksters, is to do everything free with, however, the understanding that each student has been personally selected for his or her innate capacity for the work (call it that), and thus be careful not to admit anyone without first putting them through some sort of hazing. Monetary contributions will soon be offered. Otherwise, charge rather heavily, making it dear that the work is worth infinitely more to oneself and to others than, say, expensive surgery or a new home. Imply that you give most of it away to mysterious beneficiaries.
As soon as you can afford to wangle it, get hold of a country house as an ashram or spiritual retreat, and put students to work on all the menial tasks. Insist on some special diet, but do not follow it yourself. Indeed, you should cultivate small vices, such as smoking, mild boozing, or, if you are very careful, sleeping with the ladies, to suggest that your stage of evolution is so high that such things do not affect you, or that only by such means can you remain in contact with ordinary mundane consciousness.
On the one hand, you yourself must be utterly free from any form of religious or parapsychological superstition, lest some other trickster should outplay you. On the other hand, you must eventually come to believe in your own hoax, because this will give you ten times more nerve. This can be done through religionizing total skepticism to the point of basic incredulity about everything – even science. After all, this is in line with the Hindu-Buddhist position that the whole universe is an illusion, and you need not worry about whether the Absolute is real or unreal, eternal or non-eternal, because every idea of it that you could form would, in comparison with living it up in the present, be horribly boring. Furthermore, you should convince yourself that the Absolute is precisely the same as illusion, and thus not be in the least ashamed of being greedy or anxious or depressed. Make it dear that we are ultimately God, but that you know it. If you are challenged to perform wonders, point out that everything is already a fabulous wonder, and to do something bizarre would be to go against your own most perfect scheme of things. On the other hand, when funny coincidences turn up, look knowing and show no surprise, especially when any student has good fortune or recovers from sickness. It will promptly be attributed to your powers, and you may be astonished to find that your very touch becomes healing, because people really believe in you. When it doesn’t work, you should sigh gently about lack of faith, or explain that this particular sickness is a very important working out of Karma which will have to be reckoned with some day, so why not now.
The reputation for supernormal powers is self-reinforcing, and as it builds up you can get more daring, such that you will have the whole power of mass self-deception working for you. But always remember that a good guru plays it cool and maintains a certain aloofness, especially from those sharpies of the press and TV whose game is to expose just about everyone as a fraud. Always insist, like the finest restaurants, that your clientele is exclusive. The very highest “society” does not deign to be listed in the Social Register.
As time goes on, allow it more and more to be understood that you are in constant touch with other centers of work. Disappear from time to time by taking trips abroad, and come back looking more mysterious than ever. You can easily find someone in India or Syria to do duty as your colleague, and take a small and select group of students on a journey which includes a brief interview with this Personage. He can talk any kind of nonsense, while you do the “translating.” When travelling with students, avoid any obvious assistance from regular agencies, and let it appear that your secret fraternity has arranged everything in advance.
Now a trickster guru is certainly an illusionist, but one might ask “What else is art?” If the universe is nothing but a vast Rorschach blot upon which we project our collective measures and interpretations, and if past and future has no real existence, an illusionist is simply a creative artist who changes the collective interpretation of life, and even improves on it. Reality is mostly what a people or a culture conceives it to be. Money, worthless in itself, depends entirely on collective faith for its value. The past is held against you only because others believe in it, and the future seems important only because we have conned ourselves into the notion that surviving for a long time, with painstaking care, is preferable to surviving for a short time with no responsibility and lots of thrills. It is really a matter of changing fashion.
Perhaps, then, a trickster may be one who actually liberates people from their more masochistic participations in the collective illusion, on the homeopathic principle of “The hair of the dog that bit you. ” Even genuine gurus set their disciples impossible psychological exercises to demonstrate the unreality of the ego, and it could be argued that they too, are unwitting tricksters, raised as they have been in cultures without disillusioning benefits of “scientific knowledge,” which, as ecologists note, isn’t working out too well. Perhaps it all boils down to the ancient belief that God himself is a trickster, eternally fooling himself by the power of maya into the sensation that he is a human being, a cat, or an insect, since no art can be accomplished which does not set itself certain rules and limitations. A fully infinite and boundless God would have no limitations, and thus no way of manifesting power or love. Omnipotence must therefore include the power of self-restriction – to the point of forgetting that it is restricting itself and thus making limitations seem real. It could be that genuine students and gurus are on the side of being fooled, whereas the phony gurus are the foolers – and one must make one’s choice.
I am proposing this problem as a kind of Zen koan, like “Beyond positive and negative, what is reality?” How will you avoid being either a fool or a fooler? How will you get rid of the ego-illusion without either trying or not trying? If you need God’s grace to be saved, how will you get the grace to get grace? Who will answer these questions if yourself is itself an illusion? Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
The cock crows in the evening;
At midnight, the brilliant sun.
And there have also been such effective mother-magicians as Mary Baker Eddy, Helena Blavatsky, Aimee Semple McPherson, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey.
© Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) The Essential Alan Watts, Celestial Arts (1974).
On the early morning of May 25th of a waning moon in Sagittarius, under the Fire Monkey yearly zodiac, and Gemini monthly zodiac, m'lady goddess completed a 51hr labor - including 6.5 hrs of active pushing - to successfully portal a healthy precious 8 lb 3.5 oz, 20.5 inch baby boy with blue star sapphire eyes into our world. It was at the interestingly auspicious time of 3:33am that he took his first breath.
I've always believed that women are powerful, and worthy of praise. I've always considered Jenn to be extra powerful. I'm making a point to say that everyone should know how brave, courageous, and in-her-power Jenn was and is during and after the birth. It is worthy of legend.
Under very thoughtful consideration and the advice of our incredibly skilled & stellar midwives, we decided to transfer to the mighty Brigham & Women's Hospital. Very thick meconium was found after 3.5 hrs in the birthing tub at home, and the choice was made. Here is where we believe the blessings and well-wishes directed towards us in part came to a much needed fruition. All of the health care providers here at the hospital - including the continued care, presence and holistic expertise of our midwives - have been beyond amazing, most especially at the time of birth.
We would like to thank everyone for your involvement, protection, understanding, support, and love from the deepest places in our being. Meanwhile, here's a few pics to "Ooh" and "Aah" over ;)
I am a father. My life-world understanding and experience is forever changed.
P.S. Name still pending. Though, he was given the Thai name เผด็จ 'Padet', meaning "conquerer" by my gurūpācāriya Luang Por Dattajeevo.
THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN BY: GUY FAWKES
Thailand, a country where Buddhism has deep roots, has experienced recent political and social conflicts and upheaval in which Buddhism has played a major role. Buddhism, as both a religion and way of life, provides many Thais and an increasing number of foreigners with moral guideposts and a sense of stability when faced with the rapid pace of change in Thailand and the rest of the world. However, Buddhism is also highly interwoven into Thai politics. In Thailand’s current political climate where the government has been accused recently of numerous human rights violations, Buddhist religious leaders are not immune to such abuse.
One of the unfortunate victims of these circumstances is the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni or “Luang Por Dhammajayo”, the Abbot of Phra Dhammakaya Temple in Thailand. At age 72 and in failing health, Luang Por Dhammajayo stands accused by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) of money laundering and accepting stolen property. The accusations are misguided and full of inaccurate information. They are also harmful to Buddhism at a time when Thailand most needs the kind of ethical leadership that Luang Por Dhammajayo has preached and practiced for all of his 46 years as a monk.
Like any other Buddhist monk, Luang Por Dhammajayo accepts voluntary donations from people who wish to accumulate Buddhist merit. Donations to Phra Dhammakaya Temple support the 4,000 monks at the Temple, construction of the large venues needed for the hundreds of thousands of laypeople who travel there weekly to meditate and hear Buddhist teachings, and the organization of major events in Thailand and internationally. DSI claims Luang Por Dhammajayo illegally extracted money from a Thai cooperative, an unfounded charge.
Luang Por Dhammajayo accepts donations at ceremonies open to the public, in front of thousands of followers with video posted live online, not the way any self-serving criminal would choose to embezzle money. There was no reason to be suspicious of the donations of concern to DSI. The person who made the donations in question is a highly successful businessman who has made numerous donations to other temples, schools, public charities, and the like.
DSI also knows that Luang Por Dhammajayo did not take any of the donated money for personal use. The Thai government’s Anti-Money Laundering Office verified that the Temple’s financial department staff collected the donated funds, deposited them into a Temple bank account, then allocated them toward the construction costs of religious facilities and various temple expenses as the donors had intended. The assertion that he took money for personal use is baseless.
Moreover, Temple supporters raised funds in the same large amount supposedly embezzled and gave those funds to the cooperative. That completely voluntary gesture of kindness has been acknowledged by the cooperative and demonstrates the ethical values and compassion Luang Por Dhammajayo has worked so hard to spread over four decades.
What makes the DSI’s actions even more questionable is that the DSI examined the same claim previously. The Phra Dhammakaya Temple cooperated in that investigation and DSI determined that the case did not justify pressing charges. The sudden decision by DSI to open a new case based on exactly the same circumstances is groundless. It also runs against the international law principle of double jeopardy in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Thai government has acceded and now chooses to ignore.
Luang Por Dhammajayo’s weak health has made it impossible for him to travel in response to DSI summonses. He suffers from deep vein thrombosis, chronic ulcers from diabetes, and severe allergies. DSI is well aware of his medical concerns, based on medical certificates provided by Phra Dhammakaya Temple and initially accepted by DSI. However, DSI arbitrarily applies its own procedures, going so far as to issue an arrest warrant without appointing a physician from the police hospital or any other government office to determine whether he was truly ill or not.
All the DSI’s actions have occurred in Thailand’s worrisome human rights situation. Since a military coup in May 2014, the Thai government has heavily restricted political activity and peaceful public gatherings, along with making hundreds of arbitrary arrests. Even the United States government, a long-time ally of the Thai government, used its 2015 Thailand Country Report on Human Rights Practices to note problems with Thai government’s powers to curb “acts deemed harmful to national peace and stability.”
Despite being a predominantly Buddhist country, Thailand’s monastic community has suffered human rights abuses. There is a prohibition against mass gatherings for religious purposes such as meditation, alms offering, pilgrimage, chanting and prayer outside monastic premises. Religious activities deemed anti-government elicit a strong response from the Thai authorities, including substantive claims about government involvement in the Supreme Council that oversees all monks and Buddhist temples in Thailand. The government even cancelled a completely non-political and traditional ceremony in April 2016 to offer alms to 100,000 Buddhist monks, an unprecedented step.
DSI’s recent decision to issue an arrest warrant for Luang Por Dhammajayo in May 2016 fuels suspicions that this attack on his legal and human rights has purely political motivations. DSI’s arbitrary application of the law violates the rights of a leading monk that has done so much to bring peace and ethical guidance to Thais and people across the world. The Thai government’s hidden agenda remains unclear but its actions point towards the destruction of Luang Por Dhammajayo and Phra Dhammakaya Temple. That would represent a major blow for religious freedom in Thailand and a great injustice against a monk who has done so much for so many.