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The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back Buddha’s Birth Date

The excavations showed that older wooden structures lay beneath the walls of the later brick Buddhist shrine. The layout of that more recent shrine duplicates the layout of the earlier wooden structures, pointing to a continuity of Buddhist worship at the site, Coningham says.

“The big debate has been about when the Buddha lived and now we have a shrine structure pointing to the sixth century B.C.,” Coningham says. The team used two kinds of scientific dating to find the age of the early shrine.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131125-buddha-birth-nepal-archaeology-science-lumbini-religion-history/

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Busting the Reagan Myth

…history shows that Ronald Reagan reversed a long trend of reducing the national debt as a percentage of GDP, which had been lowered by every previous president (except Gerald Ford) since the end of World War II.
Ronald Reagan exploded the federal debt, eventually to over a trillion dollars, by cutting taxes while demanding that the nation fund a huge expansion of the military. Even the Wall Street Journal at the time was aware of the unsound nature of this Republican deficit-spending scheme. They and other newspapers warned of the “baleful effects of big [government] deficits.”

Continue reading on Examiner.com: <a href=”http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/ronald-reagan-began-us-government-deficit-spending-addiction.


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The Diamond Sutra: The Extraordinary Discovery of the World’s Oldest Printed Book

 

Ask people to name the world’s oldest printed book and the common reply is Gutenberg‘s Bible. Few venture that the answer is a revered Buddhist text called the Diamond Sutra, printed in 868 A.D. Or that by the time Gutenberg got ink on his fingers nearly 600 years later — and his revolutionary technology helped usher in the Enlightenment — this copy of the Diamond Sutra had been hidden for several centuries in a sacred cave on the edge of the Gobi Desert and would remain there for several more.

The Diamond Sutra: The Extraordinary Discovery of the World’s Oldest Printed Book

 


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Vacation With The Dead

The traditions of most religions, including many Buddhist sects, encourage us to contemplate death, our place in the world, and in the hereafter.  No one does it more determinedly than the Christians of Rome who, for two millennia, have been creating displays that can’t help but make visitors mindful of  life’s one certainty.

Vertebrae rosettes. A crown of thorns made from finger bones. An arch of skulls. Three skeletons of children lean huddled in a group as if to comfort one another. Behind them hangs an hourglass made of pelvis bones. Above soars the skeleton of a youth bearing a scythe of clavicles and scales made of kneecaps. Dirt and gravestones cover the floor. Mummified bodies wearing the cowled robes of …

vacationwiththedead


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Friday the 13th – Origins, History, and Folklore

The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year (there happens to be only one such occurrence in 2010, in the month of August) portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to some sources it’s the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on the date….

Friday the 13th – Origins, History, and Folklore


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The Revival of Musar

A woman writes in her journal every night, focusing on her struggles with anger. Two friends sit down over coffee and discuss their recent efforts to perform at least three acts of generosity every day. A man posts on an online forum about how easily he is distracted by needless concerns but how daily Jewish prayer has helped him to focus his mind. A group studies Jewish teachings on greed, and they commit themselves to taking concrete steps to limit their consumption. Another group pores over a medieval Hebrew text about pride, and they conclude their weekly study session by chanting some of its words out loud to a haunting Jewish melody.

These American Jews display a good deal of moral seriousness, a tendency towards introspection, and a concern with the virtues to a degree that is somewhat uncommon in mainstream American Jewish culture. In describing their behavior, they might refer to the Jewish tradition of “Musar” (“moral discipline”) and explain that they are carrying on the legacy of a nineteenth-century, Lithuania-based movement known as the “Musar movement.” Most American Jews have not heard of the Musar movement, and many, upon learning about it, would write it off as requiring too much self-criticism, too much moralizing, and too much work. And yet interest in Musar has been steadily growing in contemporary America, in part as a counter-cultural phenomenon….

Institute for Advanced Studies In Culture