Here is the legend according to the great shamans of the Andes…
They say that we come into the world with two books,
One golden and one silver book.
The silver book is already written, but the golden book is empty.
We spend a large part of our lives studying, editing, and following the written book; living according to what is written within its pages.
But the legend says that there comes a time in each of our lives, when we must put away the silver book and begin to fill our own book.
Your golden book is a script for your life. => Start writing the first page today
You have to stop following the stories and dreams of other people and start writing your own story. The story of your life, your own life-script!
This is the moment when you start to take responsibility for what happens in your world, you cease to be just a seeker, and you become the one that brings truth into the world.
In our modern, western society, we have forgotten the rites of passage that used to tell us when it was time to put away one book and pick up the new one.
We no longer have elders to show us how to write our own golden book and how to make our story a reality. And instead of making our own dream come true, we spend our lives trapped in someone else’s dream.
In a state that the shamans call the collective nightmare.”~ Unknown
The Vedas are the oldest Hindu sacred texts, considered by many to be the most authoritative of all the texts. They are also the oldest known texts that contain yogic teachings. The Vedas are written in Sanskrit and originated in ancient India. There are four Vedas, or books, which make up the collection of Vedic literature.
The Vedas were written down thousands of years ago, but it is believed that they contain knowledge and wisdom that originated even long before then, passed down orally. Very little is known about the writers of the texts. In fact, Hindus regard the Vedas to be authorless, or not of man. Instead, they believe that they were originally revealed to ancient sages through divine inspiration.
Yoga that derives from the Vedas is known as Vedic yoga.
The Sanskrit word, veda, means “knowledge.” The Vedas are also referred to by some as sruti literature, meaning “what is heard,” as opposed to other sacred smrti texts, meaning “what is remembered.” In this way, they are considered to be the direct word of the Divine.
Orthodox schools of Indian philosophy take the Vedas as their spiritual authority. Other schools may not accept them as the authority, but still teach ideas that are expressed in the Vedas, such as the concept of karma.
The four books, or texts, of the Vedas are the “Rig Veda” (which is the oldest), the “Yajur Veda,” the “Sama Veda” and the “Atharva Veda.” They contain four types of text:
The Samhitas ~ Mantras and hymns for chanting The Arankayas ~ Details of rituals and ceremonies for liturgy The Brahmanas ~ Commentaries on rituals and ceremonies The Upanishads ~ Discussion of meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge
The underlying philosophy, or teaching, of the Vedas is the concept that the individual is not an independent entity, but, rather, a part of the Universal Conscious.
The texts refer to many gods, including Indra, Agni and Soma. They also present many different creation stories.
The Upanishads are an assortment of texts central to Hinduism that are recorded from oral traditions. They contain information regarding the philosophical principles and concepts of Hinduism, including karma (right action), brahman (ultimate reality), the atman (true Self or soul), moksha (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation) and Vedic doctrines that explain Self-realization through yoga and meditation practices.
Upanishad is a Sanskrit word that translates in English to mean “sitting at the feet of” or “sitting down near.” This illustrates the position of receiving wisdom and guidance humbly from a teacher or guru.
There are more than 200 Upanishads that have been recorded from oral traditions and passed down over centuries. Thirteen of these include core philosophical teachings of Hinduism. The philosophical concepts contained in the Upanishads are principal to Hinduism, but some are shared with Buddhism and Jainism as well.
The texts govern and explain the idea of Self-realization, which can require the practice of yoga and meditation. They also cite the concepts of non-violence, compassion, charity, and self-restraint as ethical characteristics. Many people translate the texts subjectively, which contributes to the varied Hindu schools of philosophy and religious practice. It also contributes, in part, to the various schools of yoga.
“Who wrote the Tao Te Ching? Lao Tzu, widely considered to be the father of Taoism. What is Taoism, you might ask? A quick Google search reveals the following from BBC:
Taoism is an ancient tradition of philosophy and religious belief that is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview.
Taoism is about the Tao. This is usually translated as “the Way.” But it’s hard to say exactly what this means. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe. All things are unified and connected in the Tao.
From what I gather, Taoism is a set of spiritual beliefs related to how one should live their life. It seems closely related to zen philosophy. Here’s a bit more on the subject:
And who was this Lao Tzu?
[He] was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.
From my limited internet research, there seems to be much suspicion that — like Homer of the Odyssey or (dare I say it) Jesus of the Bible — Lao Tzu is a mythical character and that the Tao Te Ching was likely a compilation of many authors from the time of the 6th century BC.
Despite his mythology, there are some theories about the fabled Lao Tzu’s life. It’s posited that Lao Tzu was a friend and peer of the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius. You might know Confucius for such sage quotes such as “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated,” or “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Many stories claim that Confucius sought out Lao Tzu’s advice from a young age and was deeply impressed with the older man’s wisdom.
The Tao Te Ching explained In Chinese, “tao” means “path,” “te” means “virtue,” “ching” means “ancient text.” So this book is an ancient Chinese text that lays out the path to virtue (in the eyes of the likely mythical Lao Tzu). It reads something like the Bible from an ideas perspective, but with a definite zen/anti-establishment lean. Despite being contrarian for its time, it leaves the reader with a calm, soothed feeling, not agitation.
The entire book is about achieving what Lao Tzu calls “The Great Integrity,” a global society in which we’re governed by strong morals oriented toward humanity, rather than capitalism. It gets vaguely political, which might be unexpected for some.
What I liked about it was that it’s primary call to action was around connecting with our roots in nature and communal groups of humans. Over and over again, it returned to the idea that people and humanity are largely good, which is an incredibly soothing idea in a world saturated with negative media coverage and widely divergent political groups.
Lao Tzu makes the case that, over time, society has been trained to believe that injustices and cruelties are simply part of our nature, which rationalizes why we must compete so fiercely for resources. Instead, he argues that human nature is fundamentally good, and that goodness begets goodness.
Thematically, the Tao Te Ching trends positive. The prose is rich with words like cooperation, altruism, nature, self-actualization, humanity, transcendence, the universe, tranquility, and oneness. Right up my alley.
Notably, it also gets into some interesting topics on the nature of reality, the ego, fragmentation of society and self, as well as our relationship with excess. These are all areas of struggle for me and therefore powerful concepts to explore through philosophy.”
“The Book of the Dead prevails in both popular culture and current scholarship as one of the most famous aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. This funerary text provides some of the most vivid and enduring images from the ancient world – there are few who have not heard some version of the Book of the Dead’s afterlife mythology. Familiar scenes – like a scale weighing a heart of the deceased against a feather or the eternal destruction of a soul by a deity composed of animal parts – originate from the Book of the Dead. With such impressive narratives, it is clear why Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife are so thoroughly ingrained in our collective memory. But despite the Book of the Dead’s lasting fame, it is often misunderstood or purposefully romanticized for the sake of an exhilarating story, as in the cultural phenomenon of The Mummy in 1999. So what is the Book of the Dead, how was it significant to Egyptians in the past and how do Egyptologists use this important resource today?
“The Chapters/Book of Going Forth By Day” is the official translation of the title given to a collection of papyrus rolls on the same subject known commonly as the Book of the Dead. Though the word “book” brings to mind a story or text written by a singular author and reprinted repeatedly in the same form, these texts have multiple authors and each version has its own variations. These texts served as a guide for the dead to use on their journeys to the afterlife. Each was prepared by scribes for burials, with varying quality depending on the scribe’s skill, and some were prepared with blank spaces to later fill in the name of the dead. In addition to the long-form papyrus versions of the Book of the Dead, spells and passages from the text were recorded other places – on tomb walls, mummy wrappings and even inside King Tut’s golden mask.
The Book of the Dead first appeared in the New Kingdom, but the text evolved from a long tradition of magical funerary writing. The oldest of these writings, the Pyramid Texts, were available exclusively to Egyptian royalty. As religious beliefs on the afterlife changed, copies of the Coffin Texts – an adapted version of the Pyramid Texts – were written on coffins and included in the tombs of non-royals, such as wealthy Egyptians and elites. By the New Kingdom, the afterlife was understood as accessible to all who could afford their own Book of the Dead, a handy guidebook providing the spells necessary for the perilous, confusing and elaborate trials faced to earn eternal life among the gods. The gods Osiris, associated with resurrection, and Re, associated with the sun, star in the Book of the Dead. Forty-two additional gods appear to judge and test the newly departed. Although the text itself varies in content and order, the narrative is generally divided into four main sections: the deceased enters the underworld and regains the physical abilities of the living, the deceased is resurrected and joins Re to rise as the sun each day, the deceased travels across the sky before judgement in the underworld by a panel of gods and, finally – assuming the soul hasn’t been destroyed – the deceased joins the gods. To progress through the complex challenges in these stages, the dead must speak the right names and spells at the right time and respond with the right answers to the gods’ questions. In one interesting and curious case, the deceased must name various parts of a sentient doorway before passing. Luckily, the Book of the Dead conveniently holds all the required information.
These texts were certainly important to ancient Egyptians, and now they constitute one of the most important resources for Egyptologists hoping to understand the Egyptian religion and afterlife. In addition to explicitly describing the afterlife and the roles of the gods, the Book of the Dead also gives insight into important concepts like the ka and ba, aspects of the soul believed to live on after death. The ka needed a physical form to return to in order to exist, and so the Book of the Dead helps us to understand the importance of the well-known Egyptian practice of mummification. Similarly, the Book of the Dead also contains spells for preserving specific parts of the body and the spell for the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, a ritual performed before the mummy was sealed in its tomb, often depicted in tomb decoration. The Book of the Dead reveals central aspects of the ancient Egyptians’ belief system, and, like many topics in Egyptology, our theories are constantly changing, growing and adapting with every new translation of this text.”
“Have you ever wondered what life after death, or in this case, life between death and rebirth, is like? What type of existence must it be? What would you do and learn? While these questions have been asked by billions of human beings, some cultures have gone the extra mile and written books to assist those who are in between.
One of these intermediate state manuals is The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The book was originally written in the eighth century CE, ostensibly by an ancient Buddhist teacher named Padma Sambhava. The book’s original title is Bardo Thodol, which is translated to ‘liberation by hearing on the after death plane.’ The purpose of the book is to help those who are in the intermediate state to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. This is accomplished by reading aloud the text of the book, thereby assisting the dead individual in their escape from the cycle.
The Bardo Thodol is primarily concerned with helping those who have entered the intermediate state to elevate themselves into a new reality, thereby escaping the life, death, bardo, and rebirth cycle. This is accomplished through the reading of instructions to help the confused, disembodied soul find its way through the bardos, or levels of the dream state the dead enter into following separation from their physical forms. There are three bardos encapsulating various aspects of the afterlife realm, in which the living whisper instructions of comfort, peace, and guidance to the deceased.
The First Bardo is the stage of the afterlife that occurs immediately after death. At the beginning of the First Bardo, instructions are read in an attempt to help the dead accept what is called the Clear Light, which helps the soul understand death as the ultimate existence. If the soul can embrace this truth, it will remain in the Clear Light forever, thus escaping the cycle. If not, the soul will sink into the Secondary Clear Light and then move into the Second Bardo.
The Second Bardo is a two-week period divided in half, in which the soul is met by numerous spiritual beings. In the first week, the Peaceful Deities appear to the soul. Seven deities appear, one for each day of the week, bringing their magnificent glory before the soul. If the soul is able to stand before the first deity, it will reach Nirvana, the aforementioned ultimate existence. If not, the soul descends from one day to the next, passing or failing the tests of each deity. In each case, the soul will be reborn into gradually decreasing states of existence, with the final state being reborn as an animal.
During the second week, the soul is met by seven legions of Wrathful Deities, which are actually just the Peaceful Deities in disguise. The instructions to the soul are to be still and unafraid in their presence. If the soul runs away, it will pass down to the Third Bardo, but if it stands its ground it will be liberated.
The dreaded Lord of Death awaits the soul in the Third Bardo. He judges the soul using a mirror that shows all the good and evil deeds of the soul. If the soul can realize through the instructions being read that the Lord of Death and all his minions are merely imaginations of its own mind, the soul can still be liberated. However, if the soul gives way to fear, it will be reborn once more, trapped again in the cycle.
Translation of the Book The initial Tibetan writing of the Bardo Thodol and its subsequent translation has an interesting history. The book was originally written in Sanskrit, which is the language of Tibet. However, after writing the Bardo Thodol, legend holds that Padma Sambhava decided the writings would be too spiritually advanced for the Tibetans of the time. Therefore, he hid the writings in the hope one day they would be discovered and interpreted judiciously.
Around 1365 CE, a young man named Karma Lingpa discovered many of the texts hidden on a mountaintop. After his discovery, more texts were found, eventually fulfilling Padma Sambhava’s wish for them to be received with openness.”
“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.” ~ Gabor Mate, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction