23
Feb

Pyramids, Triptych and the Holy Trinity 

The truth  —-that inkling deep inside—- always seems to stir when I think of Pyramids. When I ponder the structures and their associated ideas, I wonder if the pyramids were meant to emulate certain qualities that allow a flesh and blood human to aspire to greater things. And by greater things I would see an unfolding of deeper and deeper understanding of man’s place in the Cosmos.

One curious aspect of these structures lies in the fact that certain design characteristics are repetitious. Not only are the shapes repeated within a culture, but general idea is repeated throughout the world and over time.

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In this way, there is a certain sense of timelessness associated with a structure so commonly produced. Also, there seems to be a multitude of such ideas present in the complex. One such idea is a Triptych.

Triptych are three-door temples that stand at the entry-way to Sacred Science. We can locate pyramid ruins that have largely similar design across cultures. This type of doorway is copied in a format that has one large door in the center and two smaller doors on each side. This idea has been copied in ancient structures, modern structures and art.

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The design is mimicked in the Cathedrals of Europe. 

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This particular concept describes an idea of a triplicate. Underlying the day-to-day mundane existence, there lies a hypostases. A hypostases is the singular of a Hypostasis. Hypostasis is a reality that both you and I experience. It is interesting that hypostasis also means “that which settles at the bottom” which might be a commentary of our own role in the trinity. However, the plural of this word —or hypostases— is a combined reality supports encompasses and transcends our own singular reality.

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It is within the hypostases, we see how the ancients knew mystical truths about the underpinnings of our individual realities.This concept is most commonly known as a holy trinity. In Christianity this is known as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

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In Hinduism, the holy trinity is represented as three Gods known as the trimurti or Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). In Hinduism, the entire hypostases is represented as Brahman, the true-self or infinity. This is the all-encompassing aspect of hypostases.

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And in Buddhism, Buddha himself is called in the Tipitika as “Brahma Bhuto”, Bhuto literally means Ghost or even Spirit. Brahma means “divine creation” — literally. It has been said that Buddha himself is the divine holy Ghost.

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What I found in examining Pyramids, Triptychs and the Holy Trinity was uncovering a bit of a Theosophical background within myself. Theosophists believed that all religions are attempts to help humanity
 to evolve to greater perfection, and that each religion therefore holds a portion of 
the truth. Artists from a theosophical background (as well as pyramid builders, I suspect) had sought to transform the physical into 
the spiritual by way of using their materials. Isn’t it absolutely marvelous that one can experience the truth of the holy trinity by simply walking through a doorway? I think this is artistry of a most high magnitude. Substance, form and meaning all wrapped into a lovely piece of architecture!

25
Jan

Bodh Gaya, the Bodhi Tree and full moon festivals  

Bodh Gaya is a famous pilgrimage destination that is associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. The historical place at which the Enlightenment took place became a place of pilgrimage. Though it is not mentioned in the scriptures, the Buddha must have visited Bodh Gaya again in the course of his teaching career.

About 250 years after the Enlightenment, the Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka visited the site and is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi Temple. According to the tradition, Ashoka, as well as establishing a monastery, erected a diamond throne shrine at this spot with a canopy supported by four pillars over a stone representation of the Vajrasana, the Seat of Enlightenment.

We stumbled across a fun festival to celebrate the birth of the Buddah. Bodh Gaya is a religious city and many festivals are celebrated here! Including a very famous gathering for world peace attended by the Dalai Lama. The full moon festival, Buddha Jayanti, is one of the important festivals held in April or May during a full moon day. This festival marks the birthday of Buddha, but also commemorates his Enlightenment.

It has been said by some, what Mecca is to Muslims and The Temple Mount is to Jews, the Bodhi tree is to Buddhists. This tree is the living representation of the tree under which Guantanama Buddah understood the nature of the mind. In this way, this tree is a symbol for man’s quest for Enlightenment. When the Buddah sat down to contemplate Enlightenment, he has been quoted to say: “Here on this seat my body may shrivel up, my skin, my bones, my flesh may dissolve, but my body will not move from this seat until I have attained Enlightenment, so difficult to obtain in the course of many kalpas”.

After this act, it is said been the Buddah himself sanctioned the first planting of stalks at Bodh Gaya to be a focal point of devotional offerings while he was away on pilgrimage. Here a descendant of the tree stands to this day.

Surviving terrorist bomb attacks on July 7, 2013, the Bodhisattva Tree is said to be in good health and Bodh Gaya is poised to celebrate a magnificent comeback this year. The festival of Buddha Jayanti will be held on May 14, 2014 and celebrates the birth of Gautam Buddha in 563 BC. Devotees are scheduled to come from all over the world this year making this a global event. The full fervor of celebration in Bogh Gaya will be joined by two other holy cities.

30
Dec
The Sacred Site & Travel Blog turned 1 today! Thanks for sharing the journey. I am pleased to report that I’ve passed my final exams at Holos University. It’s going to be a great year as we move forward with the work at Sacred Sites for the dissertation study! Stay tuned…

With gratitude

Erik Vereczkey
Doctoral candidate
Holos University

The Sacred Site & Travel Blog turned 1 today! Thanks for sharing the journey. I am pleased to report that I’ve passed my final exams at Holos University. It’s going to be a great year as we move forward with the work at Sacred Sites for the dissertation study! Stay tuned…

With gratitude

Erik Vereczkey
Doctoral candidate
Holos University

27
Nov

Sacred Sites of Hawaii

  • Take a tour of some of the idyllic sites across the many islands
  • Native Hawaiians have longstanding spiritual connections in many locations
  • a rich history of folklore and myth make this a rich tradition worth studying!

Picture #1 - Puu Loa Petroglyphs

About 16 miles from the rim of Kilauea, on the southeastern coast of the Big Island, is a trailhead that leads to Puu Loa, Hawaii’s largest field of petroglyphs. The site, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, contains over 23,000 centuries-old etchings—of dimples, circles, bars, even humans and sailing canoes—in hardened lava formed sometime between the years 1200 and 1450.

Picture #2 - Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park

For centuries, Hawaiian society, stratified into classes of chiefs, priests, skilled laborers and commoners, operated under a system of laws called kapu. The punishment for breaking the kapu, set forth by the gods, was death—unless the criminal fled to a puuhonua, or place of refuge.

Picture #3 - Puukohola Heiau Historic Site  

The Hawaiian Islands were first unified through King Kamehameha I.  The Heiau at Pu`ukohola on the Big Island of Hawaii has a prime significance in this rich history. The remains of the Heiau (temple or “spiritual place”) at Pu`ukohola is currently a US National Historic Site. Pu`ukohola, or hill of the whale, is named as it appears like a whale’s tail from below. This quite large structure is comprised of loose, tightly fitting, rocks (lava stone) without mortar and is considered the last temple built by the ancient Hawaiians between the years of 1790 and 1791, under the leadership of Kamehameha I. The construction was undertaken due to a prophecy received by Kamehameha that if he built this temple he would achieve his goal of unifying the islands. Long human chains, likely miles long, passed the water worn, smooth rocks many miles from Pololu Valley to build the heiau. After the relatively short time of approximately one year, the heiau was completed and the process – through many battles – for unification was underway.

Picture #4 - Mt. Haleakala, Maui

Massive Haleakala Volcano comprises the whole of east Maui and its 10,023 foot height provides abundant water as well as an almost temperate climate zone on its western slope that locals call “Upcountry Maui.” Haleakala means the ‘House of the Sun’, and originally applied only to the eastern peak. According to Polynesian legend it was here that the demigod Maui captured the sun and forced it to slow its journey across the sky in order to give his people more daylight hours. Before then the sun had moved too rapidly and there was little time to do anything during the day. Today the name Haleakala is applied to the entire mountain. Archaeological studies of several small temples and altars within the crater indicate that Hawaiian peoples venerated Haleakala since at least 800 AD.

Picture #5 - Kukaniloko  

From perhaps as early as 1100 to the late 1700s, pregnant women bearing the children of Hawaii’s chiefs came to Kukaniloko to give birth. Often referred to in oral traditions as the piko, or navel, for its location in the center of Oahu, the grouping of 180 boulders is considered to be a spiritual center of the island.

Picture #6 - Keahiakawelo

Centuries ago, at a prominent hill in Kaa, a traditional land division in the northern portion of the island of Lanai, native Hawaiians would offer prayers to Kane, a god associated with freshwater and life. In 1400, Kawelo, a priest of the region, began to notice that the health of his people and their animals was deteriorating. Kawelo traced their illnesses to a fire that Lanikaula, another priest, was burning across the Kalohi Channel on the island of Molokai. To ward off Lanikaula’s bad prayers, Kawelo made his own fire. He also went a step further. He fetched some of Lanikaula’s feces from Molokai and burned them in his fire in Lanai. According to Kepa Maly, the executive director of the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, whose kapuna, or elders, taught him the story, the sorcerous act led to the death of Lanikaula and restored health to Lanai.

Picture #7 - Mauna Kea, 

at 13,796 feet, is the tallest mountain in Hawaii and all of the Pacific Ocean. If measured from its base at the ocean’s floor, 16,000 feet down, it is the tallest in the world. Due to its great weight it has also subsided an estimated 35,000 feet into the crust. Adjacent to Mauna Kea, the cone of Mauna Loa, is only 35 meters lower. Mauna Kea comprises 23% of the island of Hawaii and is its fourth most active volcano. The oldest known rocks are perhaps 237,000 years old and the age of Mauna Kea is estimated to be 1 million years. Mauna Kea is currently dormant and its last eruption was approximately 4500 years ago.  

Picture # 8 - Mauna Kea Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter snow falls on the heights, accumulating to many feet, and this has given the peak its indigenous name Mauna Kea, meaning ‘White Mountain.’ Glaciers have existed on Mauna Kea, an estimated three times in the past 100,000 years. Since humans first came to the Hawaiian Islands, Mauna Kea has exerted a powerful spiritual magnetism and pilgrims have often made the long climb up its steep slopes. In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of all the Hawaiian Islands are sacred, and Mauna Kea is one of the most sacred. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking tribal chiefs to visit its peak. In a modern Mauna Kea Solstice Ceremony a Hawaiian elder whispers “Remember the mood tonight is aloha. The prayer tonight is ssssshhhh… listen. We are not going to the summit to speak. We are going there to listen.”  The summit is the highest point among all the islands of Polynesia and is known as a Wao Akua, sacred realm of the gods. Mauna Kea has more than 90 shrines and burial sites. Areas where spirits live have always been respectfully kapu. Building on this sacred space is desecration of cultural and spiritual land.

Picture #9 -The Trails of the last Temple Of Mu, KAUAI

Ancient Hawaiians practiced skills that many of us would easily recognize today. They used telepathy, clairvoyance and geomancy. They did channeling, dream interpretation, and astral travel. They healed with herbs, energy, symbols and beliefs. The places where they did these things still exist, right where so many people think the modern world has taken over. Their descendants exist, too - in the same areas, doing the same things. Kauai, the Garden Island, is so rich in spiritual and magical places and so small in area that its hard not to find an ancient site no matter where you go.  Because of this fact, some Hawaiian elders have dubbed the entire island as the Temple of Mu - one of densest spiritual remnants of the ancient lost empire (according to legend). After the deluge (great flood sinking the MU central continent) there were left three peoples who made their home on Kauai: the Mu (Rena-mu), the Wa (Ke-na-wa), and the Menehune. The three peoples are told of building the old heiaus (temples made of stone), fishponds, and other stonework found about the island. Three of the best trails to explore the Last Temple of Mu are: 

  1. The Kukui Trail is a 5-mile trail dropping about 2,000 feet into the Waimea Canyon. It offers a short route going to the canyon floor. As a form of reward from nature, there is a huge swimming hole at the canyon’s bottom.
  2. The Kuilau Ridge Trail is a 4.2-mile hike that offers picturesque views of a wealth of flora and several waterfalls. Its trailhead is a mile from the University of Hawaii Agricultural Experimental Station.
  3. The Kalalau Trail is noted for being the original hiking route going to Kalalau Valley. It offers panoramic views of the equally popular Kee Beach and Na Pali Coast. Many hikers decide to take an overnight camp and spend the night at Hanakapial, where you can mingle with other hiking adventurists for a unique nightlife. This trail is most suited for experienced hikers for logical reasons.

Picture #10 -Heiau Pilgrimage

Hawaiian Temples or Heiaus are typically rock platforms central to the ancient society for religious purposes. Heiau were constructed under the direction of the ali‘i nui (high chiefs) and kähuna (priests). They were dedicated to different gods for various purposes which could change over time with a new ali‘i. The mana (divine power) of the ali‘i dictated strict kapu (prohibitions) at these sites. Prayers and rituals were offered up here to Ku (spirit of battle), Lono (spirit of peace), Laka and Pele (spirits of Hula), and other principal dieties. The entire of network of Heiaus fell into ruin and disuse with the arrival of Christian missionaries (what a surprise!) and the promotion of foreigner religions. As with all other energetically charged sites, however, the locations of these heiau still carry the charge of spiritual tone and energetics. An interesting sacred site idea visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a multi-stop heiau pilgrimage. The listing of heiau’s for the various islands is, as follows:

Island of Maui: Haleki`i Heiau and Pihana Kalani Heiau 

In Wailuku aside Iao stream immediately off Hiway 340. Sacred Haleki`i was contructed in the 1700’s formerly the size of a football field. Pihana Kalani sits nearby and was believed to be a sacrificial temple.Haleki’i and Pihana Heiau are the most accessible of the remaining pre-contact Hawaiian structures of religious and historical importance in the Wailuku-Kahului area. Located about 1/4 miles inland along the west side of Iao Stream, they overlook Iao Stream, Kahului Bay, Wailuku Plain and Paukukalo Hawaiian Homestead. According to oral tradition the Menehune (little people) are credited with the construction of both heiau in a single night using rock from Paukukalo Beach. Both temples were used to perform ritual sacrifice in the ancient past. 

Island of Maui: Hale Pi`ilani Heiau 

Considered to be the largest in Hawai`i, this Heiau lies in Hana on private property now owned by the Pacific Tropical Botanical Gardens. Recently through the efforts of the local community the heiau has been re-constructed to its original granduer. The grounds around the heiau now feature the world’s largest collection of Breadfruit trees.

Island of Hawaii: Ahu’ena HeiauKailua Kona - Ali’i Dr, near Palani Rd. at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Resort. Restored in 1812 by King Kamehameha 1.

Island of Hawaii: Heiau O Kalalea South Point Park. 60 feet long and 40 feet wide, believed to have been built by the “menehune”. Also found here is the ancient Pu’u Ali’i Burial Site, a burial site for Hawaiian royalty.

Island of Hawaii:Kailua Kona - Ali’i Dr., a mile south of White Sands Beach Park. The heiau is a stone platform, approx. 100 feet long and 50 feet wide and used by Hawaiian chiefs to pray for good surf.

Island of Hawaii: Pu’uhonua O Honaunau - Hwy. 160, 3 1/2 miles west of Hwy. 11. 180-acre national historic park preserve, containing Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, or “Place of Refuge,” where violators of the ancient Hawaiian “kapu” system sought refuge. One of the best-preserved heiaus.

Island of Hawaii: Pu’ukohola Heiau - 1/4 mile west of the junction of Hwy. 270 and Hwy. 19. National Historical Site. 77-acre park with two other heiaus (Mailekini Heiau and Haleakapuni Heiau) located offshore and submerged in the ocean.

Island of Hawaii: Mo’okini Heiau -Hwy. 270, to mile marker 20, then 2 miles north on a secondary road to Upolu Point, and 1 1/2 miles west from Upolu Point on a small dirt road to the heiau. 280 feet long, 140 feet wide and 25 feet high. Built in 480 A.D. and rebuilt in the 12th century.

Island of Hawaii: Kane’ele’ele Heiau - Hwy. 11 to Punalu’u Rd. to Punalu’u Beach 8 miles east of Na’alehu. 250 feet long and 150 feet wide.

Island of Kauai: Ka’ulu a Paoa Heiau - Kuhio Hwy. to western end of Ke’e Beach in Haena State Park, to a trail along the shoreline. Dedicated to Laka, the Hawaiian goddess of hula and where she did much of her dancing. Students of the hula still make this pilgrimage.

Island of Moloka`i: Ili’iliopae Heiau - Kamehameha V Hwy. to the Wailau Trail. Private property. Can be accessed with permission from Destination Molokai (553-3876). 87-foot-wide and 286-foot-long platform. Was both a place of worship and human sacrifice.

Island of O`ahu: Pu’uomahuka HeiauKamehameha Hwy. on Pupukea Rd., across from Pupukea Beach and 1 mile north of Waimea Bay. State Monument. The “Hill of Escape” is the largest heiau on Oahu at 575 feet long and 170 feet wide. Believed to have been built by the menehune.There is a paved trail that journeys around the heiau. Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Island of O`ahu: Ulupo HeiauKalanianaole Hwy. to Pali Hwy. North on Ulupo St. and east on Manu Aloha St., south on Manu O’o St. which leads to the YMCA. State Historical Site. 180 feet long and 140 feet wide, believed to have been built by the menehune.

Island of O`ahu: Kuilioloa HeiauFarrington Hwy. to Kane’ilio Point, at the southwest end of Pokai Bay Beach in Waianae.150 feet long and 35 feet wide. Three platforms surrounded on three sides by the ocean. A place of refuge.

Island of O`ahu: Kaneaki HeiauMakaha Valley Rd then east on Maunaolu St. to Alahele St. in the Mauna Olu Estates. 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, comprising an altar, two thatched houses. Originally built between 1470 and 1640, and enlarged and modified into a war temple. Open 10am-2pm, Tues.-Sun.

Concluding Notes: PLEASE GRANT THE HAWAIIAN CULTURE THE RESPECT IT PROPERLY DESERVES. THIS BLOG IS WRITTEN WITH THE INTENTION OF BEING A MATURE PILGRIM VISITING OTHER TRADITIONS IN THE HOPES OF EDIFYING YOUR OWN EXISTENCE. AS NOTED IN THE POST ABOVE, THE HAWAIIAN CULTURE HAS CONNECTION TO ANCIENT CIVILIZATION AND HAS SUFFERED FROM THE AGE OF EXPLORATION AND CONQUEST. APPROACH WHAT YOU SEE ABOVE WITH A LOVING AND UNIFIED SPIRIT. 

THE Spirit of Aloha

Approaching the sacred in the Hawaiian Island chain is best done by embodying the spirit of Aloha. This is a difficult concept to teach in one blogspot. However, one early teaching of the spirit of Aloha goes like this:

Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain - it is my pain. When there is joy - it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect (and to enjoy!). This is Hawaiian - this is Aloha!

Notes on KAPU on WAHI PANA: A lesson in protocol begins by following the kapu (the rules) for visiting wahi pana (sacred sites). In recent years, there has been increased evidence of desecration and destruction at many Hawaiian sacred places by visitors and tourists.  Much of the damage is done through ignorance of appropriate behavior rather than outright vandalism. I recommend contemplating the points at the following website before visiting:

     http://hawaii.hawaii.edu/hawaiian/KHaili/protocolwahipana.htm

MAHALO

1
Sep
"One must resolve the fear and survival angst that are barriers to a playful attitude in order to be able to access the inner world. Once that begins, however, discovery follows discovery and one soon learns that attending to the flow of energy and allowing it to move more freely can have astonishing effects on consciousness as well as on physical health."
-Rudolph Ballentine in Radical Healing, p. 382

"One must resolve the fear and survival angst that are barriers to a playful attitude in order to be able to access the inner world. Once that begins, however, discovery follows discovery and one soon learns that attending to the flow of energy and allowing it to move more freely can have astonishing effects on consciousness as well as on physical health."

-Rudolph Ballentine in Radical Healing, p. 382

27
Jul

Is Pilgrimage a most ancient rite of passage? 

Pilgrimage experiences are most directly related to Anthropology through the concept of the rite of passage. Rites of passage have historically been social inventions that ease the flow of transformation within social structures.                                             

Anthropological study of pilgrimage seems to be rooted in a paradigm of the rite of passage, of which, pilgrimage is one particular manifestation. The basic idea behind the rites of passage acknowledges that each larger societal group contains within it several, distinct social groupings. The crossing of social lines requires ceremony in a way that allows for the crossing of barriers that are necessary for the very cohesion necessary to form groups.

A seminal thinker in Anthropology is Arthur Van Gennep. He cites initiation rites that allow for an outsider to move between levels of function within a group as being fundamental to defining a rite of passage. “Embarking on a rite of passage is a process that mirrors nature, in that; everything goes through a  natural process.”[1] Therefore, Anthropology is viewing man through the lens of nature and applying those forces upon human social interactions.

The rite of passage can be seen as a “ceremony that ties human process to the natural flow of the Universe and affirms our connection to that space.”[2]   Anthropological thinkers stress a sort of a natural movement, as in the following: birth, puberty, marriage, and death. These events are all points of maturation in the growth process. Birth is the process of a soul taking physical form and joining a family unit, puberty is the act of a child being physically promoted to being an adult. Marriage is the act of two people coming together to form a committed partnership and Death is the process of one person leaving the social bonds with other people behind. What is interesting is that these are all physical changes that occur naturally. However, in all cultures these changes are further marked by ceremonies that differ in detail but are universal in function. The ceremony is what is interesting in this mode of study.

What we begin to see, is an evolving paradigm of Rites of Passage being used to establish rituals as a bridge to transcend difficult barriers. Van Gennep notes that rite of passage surround themselves around “transitional stages of life, and most significantly to crisis points in life.”[3]This model seems to be a very broad model of how humanity uses ceremony and metaphor to assist with difficult passages. In effect, these rituals have developed to smooth the passage from one state to another.

Van Gennep discusses how “the subject”   of the rite is considered “dead”   and this is a fascinating concept. There is a resurrection-type element that becomes commonplace with a rite of passage. One such passage is puberty. In puberty, the rite of passage, considers the young person dead. Upon completion of the rite, there is a regenerative quality or a resurrection that takes place. The young person is resurrected as an adult. The rite of passage symbolizes the transformation aspect of moving from one state into another, from one group to another without upsetting the existing social order. 

It is a short-step of logical substitutions to begin to view sacred site pilgrimage within the rite of passage framework of thinking. When you postulate that the subject is seeking an enhanced connection with the divine instead of an earthly transformation such as reaching adulthood in puberty or becoming an lawyer by passing the bar or being classified as married by participation in a marriage ceremony – it becomes very easy to extend that a pilgrim goes through the same cycle of transformation.

A pilgrimage is loaded with ceremony, rite and metaphor, just as the other more earthly rites. Indeed, a few Anthropologists did go onward to describe sacred site pilgrimage as a rite of passage. 

[1] Van Gennep, Arnold - The Rites of Passage: A Classic Study of Cultural Celebrations (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1961)

[2] Van Gennep, Arnold - The Rites of Passage: A Classic Study of Cultural Celebrations (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1961)

[3] Van Gennep, Arnold - The Rites of Passage: A Classic Study of Cultural Celebrations (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1961)

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  A - The Hajj: Circle the Kaaba as part of the Tawaf ritual. ’Some theologians have noted this to be a symbolic act of connecting with the natural flow of the Universe, such as the counter-clockwise rotation of electrons around atom, the Earth around the Sun and the Milky Way Galaxy around its central axis. By performing this rite, the Muslim Pilgrims assume correct natural orientation between each other an the Universe.

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 B - Raven Dancer, Gene Tagaban: The rite of passage happens between a performer and an audience. By performing and the artist dancing, the dancer manifests empowerment, awareness and honor. The dance, in many Native American cultures, serves as a doorway of connection between human will and nature. The dancer passes through a Liminal state from a previous state of non-connection and emerges connected and able to affect change.

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C - The Sacrament of Baptism is often called “The door of the Church,” because it is the first of the seven sacraments. Adult Baptism can be re-performed to affirm one’s religious and societal connections to a particular religious affiliation and social grouping.

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D - Trust rituals in native cultures

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E - Marriage rite of passage to an act of union between two people

 

 

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F - The rite of passage of war painting embodies the warrior super-human qualities and bonds warriors into an army group poised to protect the tribe.

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G - The Bar exam is a rite of passage that allows lawyers to assume a professional designation and transform from student to practitioner and assume professional status in society and with each other.

 

22
Jun

…FLOWER PILGRIMAGE

I remember hearing about a …NEW DEVELOPMENT.. in Sacred Site Pilgrimage that a friend read on CNN. I thought to my myself, “whoa, this is something special. Most traditions have been carved out by generations practice. This doesn’t happen too frequently”  It must’ve been shortly after the second pilgrimage had completed that I heard about coverage of the first one.  I read Amy072’s recollection for CNN, as follows:

(CNN – April 16, 2012) “This is the first time for a pilgrimage of 1,500 monks and novices, walking through a busy city on rose petals has taken place. This happened for the first time in a well known popular most traveled to destination of Bangkok, Thailand. The sight of seeing thousands and thousands of people of different race, religion, and background all coming together to witness and pave rose petals for the thousands of monks and novices walking in this pilgrimage is truly something unforgettable.” –Amy072 reporting

So, how often do we get a new pilgrimage in the making? During January 2-27, 2013 there was a pilgrimage of 1,128 monks walking through 7 provinces of Thailand in 26 days. This was bigger and more widely observed than the original Flower Pilgrimage held the year before. And this event implied that the Buddhist monks intended to keep this thing going. Given that I study Sacred Site Journeying for Holos University, I thought this was an excellent chance to see the underpinnings of a new practice that was just getting started. I was fascinated. I had to know more. Here are some of the key points I noted:

Background

The story of Flower Pilgrimage originates in the ancient city of Sravasti which was the capital of the kingdom of Kosala. It was one of the major centers discussed in the Mahabarata, a text that is seminal to traditions of HInduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Sravasti was one of the wealthiest cities in ancient India and the Buddha spent more time here than anywhere else. The timespan of the Buddha’s visits to Sravasti are quantified as “25 rains retreats in all.” This is by far one of the most enduring locations the Buddha visited. This is the earliest example of what I can find of mentions of linking Flowers into sacred ceremony.

Ritual and the rainy season go hand-in-hand in Southeast Asia. Perhaps, it’s the amount of monsoonal rain that forces all people in the region to become inwardly focused. However, such pilgrimages connected the devoted to the powers of nature. Flowers factored heavily into the ritual performed during the rainy season and there are many mixed references to both Rain and Flower Pilgrimages. The placing of flowers were symbols of the impermanence of life. Both beautiful and withered in a short period of time, flowers came to be a metaphor for a pilgrims own life.

The Hindus have similar, but slightly different ideas about flowers. Both in worship and in portrayals of the divine, Hindus love all types of lotus flowers. These are the top of the hierarchy of flowers. The very name of the Hindu worship ritual, PUJA, can be translated as “flower act.” In a way, the act of worship is about duplicating the qualities of a flower. The lotus is the foremost symbol of beauty, prosperity and fertility. According to Hinduism, within each human is the spirit of the sacred lotus. It represents eternity, purity, divinity, and is widely used as a symbol of life, fertility, ever-renewing youth. The very idea of a lotus flower symbolizes a slow, delicate opening to blossom and full beauty.

…the Bell Tolles

An excellent discourse on the relationship between Flower and Man is masterfully presented by Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth.  He links the development of human consciousness to the evolution of the flower and links the rise of the meditative practice of Zen to an interaction between the two, as follows:

"114 million years ago, one morning, just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the Earth had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated  phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet—if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it. Much later, those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a “silent sermon” once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive  masters and much later became the origin of Zen."

It seems we come full circle with respect to seeing the connection between Flowers, Buddhist Monks and Pilgrimages in Thailand. The Flower, is said by some, to possess a hidden potential of human transformation. The idea of a flower has many inspirational connotations and ideas. This is wrapped up in millions of years of planetary evolution and can, perhaps, be said to have influenced quantum leaps in evolution within humans. By incorporating flowers into a modern day revival of an ancient tradition, the Thai Monks have tapped into a vein of transformation that is part of the Earth’s evolutionary path, itself. 

…the Takeaways

The Thai Monks are cultivating a brand new type of bloom. As gardeners, they grow new roots into rich soils of a centuries old varietal. Their seedlings have sprouted and a new flower has taken its place in the garden.

I find it very interesting that as Buddhism matures as a religious path and a core practice that the Flower is used to infuse new life into itself. I see a Spiritual Renaissance that very cleverly uses esoteric underpinnings to re-invent itself and spur on a resurgence of relevance and popularity. Even if the esotericness of the symbols in the ritual are not widely known.

I foresee a long and healthy pilgrimage tradition developing that connects the old with the new and a tradition that revitalizes.

22
Apr

Earth Day 2013

Sacred sites are timeless creatures that inhabit a realm that straddles ours and other dimensions. In a way, they function as centers of consciousness that reflect aspects of Gaia, each influenced by the specific piece of Geography they inhabit. Each are certainly focal points. They are centers for gathering. They are repositories of history. They are sentient beings that do not disappear even as the cultures of man come and go. I find this to be an appropriate topic to be discussing this Earth Day, the 22nd day of April, 2013. These are the special places of Earth and have been regarded as so over time. In previous cultures, the roles of healing, science, cosmology, astronomy and religion were all combined. This was the time of the Shaman. And the shaman often made pilgrimages to sacred sites as a means to connect with the divine for understanding, knowledge and connection.Special places were seen to be like springs of water where the Earth had blessed special life giving properties. This was a knowledge that was largely a mystery of how and why it functioned. The old ways or the nature religions were describing places where the telluric nature of Earth mixed and exchanged most freely with the Cosmic properties of the Universe. this is, truly at its core, how a power place derives its power. It is special. However this confluence also makes this place alive with seemingly supernatural happenings. Power places generally exalt three things, being: Humanity, Earth and the Divine. Solomon’s Temple is often referred to as the First Temple. That structure, the Cathedrals of Europe, the Mosques of the Middle East, the Monasteries, the Stupas, Pagodas, etc. are all placed on sites that are older and more sacred than these sites physical embodiment may suggest on the face. The very structures of the buildings were intended to include, amplify and transcend the previous state of the site. In this way, we have a comprehensive place that is historic and timeless, all at the same time. It is a place of paradox.The actual sacred geometries are too extensive for this post. However, this information touches on the fact that the Earth is a part of us and we are connected to her. Inseparable. She is our sustenance of life. She is an integral part of our very existence whose very organization beckons us forward on the path of walking with her on her own journey. The Earth matrix is constructed from the very fabric of Unity that we can use to feel more connected to the Universe, at-large. I cannot feel anything but gratitude today. As humanity changes, so will the constitution of the Sacred Sites change to reflect our evolving relationship — in a Trinity of Human, Earth and Cosmos — to our lives, to our homes, our natural habitat and our place in the Sun. Happy Earth Day, 2013.
  1. Solomon’s Temple or the First Temple, Israel
  2. The Western Wall or the Wailing Wall, Israel
  3. Pura Lempuyang Temple, Bali, Indonesia
  4. Dome of Anatolian Seljuk Mosque, Turkey
  5. Lourdes Cathedral, South of France
  6. Sacre Couer Church in Montmartre, France
  7. Buddhist Monks, Monastery in India
  8. Jain Temple in Udaipur, India
  9. Hagia Sophia, Turkey
  10. Porch of the Caryatids Acropolis, Athens, Greece