Xi Touts Communist Party as Defender of Confucius’s Virtues

13sino-Confucius01-articleInlineJust to confirm that Confucianism is still alive and well in China, comes this article from Feb. 13, 2014 in the New York Times:

Xi Jinping wants you to memorize “The Analects” of Confucius. China’s Communist Party chief says that the homegrown thoughts of the ancient sage offer an antidote not just for his own country’s ills, but also for Western societies whose faith in capitalism has been battered by the economic slump.

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Ancient Temple at the Buddha’s Birthplace

2D9769872-131125-coslog-buddha-9a.blocks_desktop_largeCheck out this news story on NBCnews.com (link) about new archaeological evidence for an ancient Buddhist temple at Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. The story mentions this conclusion from archaeologist Robin Coningham:

“For the first time, we actually have scientific evidence leading to the establishment of a major Buddhist shrine,” he said. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility to speculate that the ancient tree at the center of Lumbini’s holy site was the same tree that Buddha’s mother held onto when he was born, as described in Buddhist tradition.” This is one of those rare occasions when belief, traditions, archaeology and science come together,” Coningham said.

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Prince Charles Visit Parmarth Niketan

Today, Their Royal Highnesses, Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, paid an official visit to Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh as the first destination of their nine-day visit to India.

1462826_615897288473807_1896749055_oArriving just before sunset, Their Royal Highnesses took part in the sacred evening Aarti Ceremony (ritual of lights), which is an internationally-renowned highlight of Parmarth Niketan’s daily activities. Prior to the Aarti, they observed the final offering of a Yagna (fire ceremony) for World Peace and Environmental Preservation, led by the President of Parmarth Niketan, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. Offering the traditional herbs and seeds into the fire to the rhythm of ancient Vedic prayers, their Royal Highnesses took part in one of the most ancient rituals of the Indian tradition, performed on this occasion as a prayer for a healthy environment and peaceful world.

Following the Yagna Ceremony, they took part in a Water Blessing Ceremony, led by Pujya Swamiji, in which waters from the world’s sacred rivers were offered onto a large globe, symbolizing a prayer that all people across the world should have access to safe and sufficient water.

Explaining the ceremony, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan said, “Water is life. Tragically today, too many of our brothers and sisters are living without access to safe and sufficient water. The Water Blessing Ceremony signifies a prayer and blessing that all beings and all creatures on Earth should have access to sufficient and safe, life-sustaining water.”

After the Water Blessing Ceremony, a short prayer was held in homage to those who had lost their lives, loved ones, homes, villages, livelihoods and hopes in the tragic Uttarakhand floods this past June.

At the conclusion of the prayers, as songs of peace intermingled with the night’s air, gleaming brass oil lamps were set ablaze for a beautiful Aarti Ceremony. A beautiful, historic, tangible wave of fellowship swept over all present as their Royal Highnesses, led by Pujya Swamiji and accompanied by young rishikumars (students) from Parmarth’s Gurukul (orphanage/residential school) and other ashram residents, waved the brightly-burning lamps, performing the light ceremony described as a “Thanksgiving Ceremony to the Divine who blesses us with light.”

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is also the Founder of Ganga Action Parivar, an environmental organization of scientists, engineers and activists working to clean the waters and banks of the Ganga River, and the co-founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international, interfaith coalition of faith leaders working to bring water, sanitation and hygiene to all. In alignment with his life’s work, Pujya Swamiji offered their Royal Highnesses a sacred tree sapling as a symbol of the trees being planted in the Himalayas, and a beautiful container of water from the source of the Ganges.

Pujya Swamiji presented them with a sacred sapling, rudraksh malas and shawls made by the Uttarakhand tribal peoples.

Pujya Swamiji said, “His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, is a ‘Green’ Prince who been emphasizing the importance of environmental protection for many wonderful years. Through his vision, leadership and ‘Green’ programs, not only Great Britain, but the entire world, continues to be uplifted and inspired.”

As Pujya Swamiji further explained, “Too many people worship the Creator, but forget the Creation. Here, we are dedicated to worshipping and serving both the Creator and Creation. I spent my life dedicated to building temples. Now, however, I am dedicated to building toilets, providing safe-water, and planting trees. Proper sanitation and hygiene and a clean environment purifies our body, which is also a temple. Additionally, in bringing more trees to our world, we are able to help it to flourish through increased oxygen, fruit, and shade. Trees and water are ever-giving sources of life, which should be revered and protected. This was a key message throughout the evening’s events.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said: “Their Royal Highnesses were so glad to have had this special, authentic cultural experience upon arrival to India. They were fascinated by the young, devout, rishikumars and deeply impressed by Pujya Swamiji and all of the myriad ways that his programs and projects are serving humanity. They were particularly interested in our environmental programs: tree plantations, organic farming, river clean-ups and the propagation of community education and implementation programs concerning water, sanitation, hygiene and the environment. It was clear that they were very touched by the serenity and beautiful spiritual atmosphere of Parmarth Niketan’s Ganga Aarti, and we were deeply honoured by their visit.”

His Royal Highness Prince Charles shared beautiful words of inspiration and spoke about how glad he was to be present for this ceremony and also how glad he is to hear about the wonderful work for the environment and humanity being done by Pujya Swamiji. He mentioned how now that he is a grandfather, he recognizes even more crucially the importance of protecting our environment for future generations. He said: “It’s a particular joy to join you here on the banks of the Ganges this evening because it is, above all else, my first visit to the Ganges and so from that point of view it is a very special occasion for both myself and my wife.

“But we also wanted just to stress how deeply we felt for all those people who suffered so dreadfully as a result of the awful floods in June – our thoughts and prayers were so much with those families who have had to suffer the appalling catastrophe.”
#PrinceCharles #TheDuchessOfCornwall

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A Bridge Between Western Science and Eastern Faith

76934803The Dalai Lama was in NYC this weekend and spoke at the Beacon Theater. While I missed his talk, it reminded me of a New York Times article that appeared recently about Western science and Eastern philosophy (click here for the article). The article begins: ”

Quantum theory tells us that the world is a product of an infinite number of random events. Buddhism teaches us that nothing happens without a cause, trapping the universe in an unending karmic cycle.

Reconciling the two might seem as challenging as trying to explain the Higgs boson to a kindergarten class. But if someone has to do it, it might as well be the team of scholars, translators and six Tibetan monks clad in maroon robes who can be spied wandering among the magnolias at Emory University here.”

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Ganesh Chaturthi

ganesh-chaturthi-photosThe Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated in India and across the world. For some great pictures, see the gallery on the Wall Street Journal website – click here.

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How to Raise a Global Kid

Here’s a link to Lisa Miller’s “How to Raise a Global Kid” – click here. Speaking of American students, Miller says:

If they don’t learn—now—to achieve a comfort level with foreign people, foreign languages, and foreign lands, this argument goes, America’s competitive position in the world will continue to erode, and their future livelihood and that of subsequent generations will be in jeopardy. Rogers is hardly the only person who sees things this way. “In this global economy, the line between domestic and international issues is increasingly blurred, with the world’s economies, societies, and people interconnected as never before,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in remarks in the spring of 2010 at the Asia Society in New York. “I am worried that in this interconnected world, our country risks being disconnected from the contributions of other countries and cultures.”

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Hello Class!

This weblog is the place that you will find information about Asian Studies class. This year, two sections of the class are being taught, one by Mr. Freedholm and the other by Ms. Shepard.  Your assignments can be found here as well as basic information about the class (syllabus, web links, grading, etc.).

Meaning of Life Cartoon

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