Who are Aum Shinrikyo and why would anyone want to join them?

The Japanese doomsday cult known as Aum Shinrikyo has been back in the news this month, with the execution of its leader Chizuo Matsumoto (a.k.a. Shoko Asahara) on July 6th and his successor now fighting for his ashes to be scattered into the Pacific Ocean. I have covered weird religious phenomenon before, let alone from Japan, but I’m surprised to have never covered this particular cult on my website despite their infamy. Here, I hope to rectify this by providing a basic outline of their beliefs, the atrocities the cult committed, and some reasons why some people still fall into this cult well into the 2010s.

Aum Shinrikyo began in 1984 as essentially a yoga club, at the time going by the name of Aum Shinsen no Kai. Three years later, Matsumoto changed the group’s name to Aum Shinrikyo, and two years after that the group was officially recognized as a religious organization/corporation under Japanese law. By this time, Chizuo Matsumoto changed his name from his birth name to Shoko Asahara. It is said that, between 1984 and 1987, Matsumoto appeared in various spiritualist and occult magazines claiming to be capable of levitation, established a publishing firm named Chōnōryoku no Kaihatsuhō to distribute his teachings to wider audience, and claimed to have encounters with supernatural beings, including the Hindu deity Shiva, informing him of his divine mission.

The doctrine of Aum Shinrikyo can best be summarized as an apocalyptic form of Buddhism mixed with doctrines from Christianity, Hinduism and New Age belief systems, centered of course around the personality cult of Chizuo Matsumoto. One of the main aspects of the doctrine is its interpretation of the Vajrayana Buddhist doctrine of powa, or phowa. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Powa refers to a specific ritual performed on behalf of the deceased by a Lama or a guru in order to transfer the consciousness of the deceased into a spiritual location known as a “pure land”, the abode of a Buddha or bodhisattva. This ritual is performed in order to aid the deceased in his or her journey towards spiritual liberation. In Aum Shinrikyo, however, Powa refers to the act of killing someone on behalf of Chizou Matsumoto or Aum Shinrikyo in order to stop them from accumulating negative karma through their opposition to Aum Shinrikyo or by acting in a way that undermines their interests. For example, when in 1989 a member named Taguchi Shuji decided to leave the movement after the accidental death of another member named Majima Terayuki and threatened to go public about Terayuki’s death, Chizuo Matsumoto ordered that Shuji be killed in order to protect Aum Shinrikyo’s reputation. It was believed that had Shuji informed public about the death of Terayuki within Aum Shinrikyo, Shuji would acrue eons worth of bad karma and suffer countless negative reincarnations as a result. By killing him, in accordance with the perversely interpreted doctrine of Powa, his soul could be saved from such a fate while protecting the organization. This interpretation of Powa would also go on to serve as a justification for the atrocities that were to be enacted from then on.

Matsumoto and adherents of Aum Shinrikyo also believed that the end of the world was coming imminently, with “materialism” running rampant and people having forgotten how to practice Buddhism. In East Asian forms of Buddhism, the history of Buddhism is divided into three stages: The Former Day of the Law, The Middle Day of the Law, and The Latter Day of the Law. For convenience we will use their Japanese names – Shoho, Mofa, and Mappo respectively. Shoho refers to the age of the true dharma, where said dharma was practiced by the disciples of the Buddha and flourished as such, Mafo refers to the age of copied dharma, dharma that resembles the true dharma but does not accurately reflected, and Mappo refers to the age of degenerated dharma, wherein the essence of dharma is forgotten and thus cannot be upheld properly. The concept also dovetails nicely with the Hindu concept of the Four Yugas, in which after the Satya Yuga (basically the golden age) Man strays further from God until finally Man reaches the Kali Yuga, the time in which Man is farthest from God. Typically it is held that the Mappo age is to be abolished and the Shoho age restored by Maitreya, the Buddha who is yet to be. For Aum Shinrikyo though, the duty of restoring the Shoho age falls upon them. Chizuo Matsumoto technically gave himself the role of Maitreya through his claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. This of course fits into the theme of holy war, a war between the saved and the unsaved, between those who believed in Aum Shinrikyo and those outside of the cult who were held to be trapped in materialistic urges and bad karma, an idea that very much echoes the sentiments found within the Book of Revelation concerning holy war between the believers and the non-believers. Indeed Matsumoto would eventually begin referring to the concept of Armageddon by name in the run up to the sarin gas attack committed in 1995, even believing that America wanted to hasten the arrival of this event by triggering World War 3 with Japan (in true religious conspiracy theorist character).

Another notable feature is that, besides Matsumoto himself being the messiah, there is a central deity within this sect, namely Shiva, the Hindu deity of destruction, recreation and transformation. Indeed, some say Matsumoto’s messianic title refers not to him being Jesus Christ, but an incarnation of Shiva. While Hindu sects venerate Shiva as a positive figure, representing not simply destruction, let alone necessary destruction, but also the rebirth of the universe and the transformation into new forms, thereby natural and positive change, as well as a creative force in the cosmos, not to mention also venerating him as the Godhead who does battle with demons and sometimes performs self-sacrificial acts to protect the universe from premature destruction, the Aum Shinrikyo veneration of Shiva most likely stems from an obsession with the deity’s destructive aspects, dovetailing with their theme of apocalyptic salvation, destroying the world in order to “save” it. It is said that Aum Shinrikyo had a secret chapel containing a large statue of Shiva, inaccessible to all but the chosen few within the cult.

One very interesting aspect of the cult is its incorporation of bizarre paranormal technology. Members of the cult would wear headsets that connected electrodes to their heads. The idea behind this device was supposedly to allow devotees to telepathically communicate with their guru Chizuo Matsumoto by having them receive his brainwaves or synchronize their own electrical impulses with them. Another piece of technology they made was an electronic device known as an “astral teleporter”, which would purportedly pick up vibrations from Matsumoto’s meditations while he recites his mantra and transmit them to his disciples. That’s not even getting into their development of chemical weapons, and their liaisons with international networks for the purposes of acquiring them and other weapons of mass destruction.

Over the years, the cult became infamous for the various crimes and atrocities they have committed, most notably in 1995 where the cult unleashed sarin gas in a Tokyo subway, killing thirteen people and injuring many more. Following this attack, police uncovered evidence of the cult’s laboratories dedicated to producing drugs and chemical weapons. Prior to the attack, the cult perpetrated a number murders on people who opposed the cult as well as cult members who they perceived as a threat. Known victims included lawyer Tsutumi Sakamoto, along with his wife and son, fellow cultist Taguchi Shuji, another fellow cultist Tadahito Hamaguchi, and notary Kiyoshi Kariya, who died under their confinement. In the years after the 1995 sarin gas attack, the Aum Shinrikyo cult would split off into two spin-off cults – Aleph, not to be confused with yours truly, and Hikari no Wa, the latter of whom claims to want to shed the influence of the old Aum Shinrikyo and its leader. As of July 6th, Chizuo Matsumoto and six other cultists have been executed by the Japanese government for the atrocity committed in 1995, with another six still awaiting execution.

Despite the cult’s infamy, particularly following the sarin attack in 1995, the cult continued to attract membership well into the present decade. Apparently by 2016 the cult gained thousands of new members from, of all places, Russia, as evidenced by the arrests of new cult members from Russia, as well as Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. It seems that Aum Shinrikyo had set up operations in Russia shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by which time The Japan Times reckons the cult acquired blueprints for their sarin gas attack from Russia. Russian experts suspect that the appeal of the cult is similar to that of New Age movements and even that of ISIS for young Muslims prone to radicalization – that is, those who join Aum Shinrikyo do so because they see in Chizuo Matsumoto a source of unified truth and in his cult a source of brotherhood, in much the same way some people ultimately see absolute truth and fellowship in other violent religious extremist movements (like ISIS or one of those American Christian militias). In 2016, the Russian government banned the Aum Shinrikyo cult from being practiced because it was, unsurprisingly, seen as a terrorist organization. I can only assume that this decision was made by the Russian state upon its discovery of Russian followers of the cult, lending itself to fears of a religious terror cell operating in Russia.

In Japan, Aum Shinrikyo’s spin-off cult Aleph has attracted numerous young followers despite the atrocities committed by Aum Shinrikyo. For example, in the case of an anonymous man one Kuchikomi writes for Japan Today:

Mr S was in junior high school when the sarin affair exploded on the national consciousness. He recalls being more interested than appalled, and anyway, all that was a long time ago. If anything, the connection to so dramatic an episode made his present experience all the more titillating. Moreover, he says, by then he’d spent some 40,000 yen on the training, and he was unwilling to admit that it was money down the drain.

And so he graduated into hard-core Aleph training, heavy on recorded sermons by Aum guru Shoko Asahara, currently on death row.

His awakening, when at last it came, was a strange one. It was in response to an Aleph teaching to the effect that a man who has sexual relations cannot attain enlightenment. Strange, thought Mr S – Asahara has children. “Yes,” he was told, “but the Master is no ordinary man.”

To the surprise of just about anyone, including myself who missed this development entirely when it came up, Aum Shinrikyo has been been growing in the twenty years since the sarin gas attack of 1995, with new generations in Japan developing a perverse fascination with the cult for various reasons including the good looks of some of the cult members, the absurdity of their cultish activities, the sense among sympathizers that their murderous acts were motivated not out of malice but out of obedience to their guru, and broad empathy with the cult and its leader for standing against a society that frustrates them.

That last part needs to be looked at rather carefully, especially given how apparently Aum Shinrikyo literature is known for emphasizing contempt for contemporary society. The fact that such a reprehensible cult known to the public for committing atrocities, ones that have had a significant negative impact on the national consciousness of Japan, can still attract a number of converts to me says something about the widespread alienation within Japanese society. I mean think about it: this is the country that actually has its own word for working yourself to death, itself testament to a horrendous work culture where you just tough it out until you die. A country known for its notoriously high suicide rates. A country where one bad day might turn you into a complete and total shut-in. A country whose social attitudes are defined by deference to authority or the social group above almost anything else including the individual. And to top it all off, like many East Asian cultures, the elder generations are never to be put at fault on pain of violating long-embedded Confucian virtue towards respecting your elders, and criticizing authority in general is considered anathema in Japanese society, so everything bad about Japan can be shafted to the younger generation (admittedly not too dissimilar to attitude baby boomers have towards millennials here in the West), who are socially and economically powerless.

The more you learn about Japanese society, the more you understand how profoundly dysfunctional it is. This is especially relevant when dealing with young converts of the cult. If you have a society that a generation of people has come to see is against, they might well go off towards anything that can stand against it. For some of these people, it seems, the Aum Shinrikyo cult is one avenue by which to actively resist the social order because it appeals to their alienation and the sense of a lack of purpose, or they just fall in love with criminals because they see them as attractive bad boys. Like with a lot of cults, people facing alienation and other social ills will often gravitate towards whatever suits them best, including totalitarian cults. Just ask anyone who’s ever been in groups like the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, Yahweh Nation, ACMTC or Scientology.

On the whole, damn, I can’t believe I didn’t cover this subject much sooner. Learning about the cult has definitely yielded some surprises on my part. A perverted Buddhist doctrine fighting to bring about the end of days, believing this will save the souls of the mass dead from accumulating bad karma, in the name of a self-proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and to that end amassing and developing weapons of mass destruction, mind controlling drugs and paranormal technologies, and killing those who oppose them or don’t believe in them, and now potentially hiding out in Europe after the arrest of their leader and other cultists. In a sane world, this would be the stuff of movies, video games and thriller novels, and I guess manga as well (this is Japan after all). To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if Chizuo Matsumoto’s execution is the last we hear from them, considering the cells that are likely hiding outside of Japan.

Chizuo Matsumoto (Shoko Asahara) in an animated promo video for Aum Shinrikyo

Haram Month #11 – Islam and Buddhism are NOT alike

This post is a response to an article that was posted yesterday on the news site Independent Australia. The article was written by a Year 12 student named Jessica Robinson, who is claiming that Islam and Buddhism are more alike than most people think. But before we begin, let’s address the image used at the top because, in my mind, the textual content within just lays out the kind of post we’re dealing with.

So right off the bat, the image chosen as the header image is nonsense. “Buddha was not a Buddhist”. So? “Jesus was not a Christian”. Yeah, he was Jewish. “Muhammad was not a Muslim”. So? And it’s really rich that the claim is that they all taught “love”. How did Muhammad teach love? By conquering Mecca and ordering killings and the desecration of the religion that was previously practiced, and towards his death he said “let there not be two religions in Arabia”. If you think this teaches love, then I must say you are fucking foul. Gautama never did this. Jesus never did this. Muhammad did. And the premise of that statement is that they’re all the same because they taught “love”. What the fuck is love to these people?

Anyways, let’s get on with the actual written content of the post.

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have attempted to answer the most complex and perplexing questions of the universe through religious beliefs. Questions such as why are we here? How did we come to be?

Religions worldwide set out a set of moral and ethical guidelines on how one should live and interact with the world. This leads to a vast number of teachings on peace and conflict, how to behave when at war and how to avoid it all together.

In today’s world, Islam is seen as one of the most violent and war-like religions. However, this is not the case. Many of their ancient scriptures and teachings from the Quran and from their prophet Muhammad talk of avoiding violence at all costs.

Do you know that there’s an entire Wikipedia page for Muhammad’s military career? Yes, the prophet who supposedly talks of avoiding violence at all costs had a military career. And it’s said that about 1,000 people have been killed in the battles fought by Muhammad. That is really, really bad for you if you claim to be all about peace. He and his forces killed people for not recognizing his religion and even slaughtered Jewish tribes living in Medina. That alone should be enough to convince you that Muhammad was not a pacifist in any stretch. In addition to this, Islam as a religion simply inspires more violence than any others. Put into perspective, the Inquistions carried out by the Catholic Church killed up to 3,000 people over the course of 350 years, while Islamic terrorists killed 5,000 people in the month of November 2014 alone. Just look at how many Islamist terror attacks carried out last year alone. In fact, there are verses in the Quran which instruct or endorse violence against non-believers.

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:193

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:5

O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:73

And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.” – Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:56

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you do not.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:216

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” – Surah At Tawbah 9:29

So already, my dear, this is a claim that loses its foundation once you look at the facts of the matter. It’s not looking good for you and we’ve only just begun.

On the other side of the coin, Buddhism is seen as one of the most peaceful religions in the world. By all accounts it is. The Buddha preached love and kindness and the ending of all suffering. However, due to political and religious turmoil, many Buddhists have turned to violence and hate. Buddhist monks are now persecuting Muslims in Burma.

Yes, non-violence is a central tenet in the Buddhist faith, unlike in Islam where both Allah and his prophet condone and in fact encourage violence. So why do Buddhist monks clash with Muslims in Burma? Honestly I’m not sure, but I think it might have something to do with an insurgency on the part of the Rohingya Muslim community in Burma that has apparently been going on since 1947. The monks might also be doing this for political reasons, given that the Rohingya are viewed as illegal immigrants. Whatever the reason is, I doubt that this is done specifically to disseminate the teachings of Buddhism. But to be honest, I think comparing Islam – a religion that was founded in violent conquest, has verses instructing or condoning violence and continues to inspire scores of violence – to Buddhism based on what some monks are doing in Burma seems ineffectual.

With Buddhism, there is an emphasis on peace and peaceful living but this comes from a focus on suffering and the ending of all suffering. The Four Nobel Truths are the centre of Buddhism. These truths centre around suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and how one can end suffering. Within Buddhism, there is a large focus on inner peace or “enlightenment”. Once one reaches enlightenment, you no longer suffer and your aim is to ease the suffering of others by aiding them in their path to enlightenment. The very basis of Buddhist teachings is one of peace.

If you wish to end suffering, the most obvious way to do that is to be peaceful.

Way to misspell the world noble. But anyways, the thing you have to remember is that Islam and Buddhism have different aims. In Islam, the goal is to get into heaven (or Jannah) by worshipping Allah and following his teachings and those of Muhammad, and of course to disseminate the teachings of Islam wherever people. The goals of Buddhism, as you’ve pointed out are slightly different and they don’t depend on the same means. Sure, spreading the teachings of Buddhism in order to bring about enlightenment is a part of those goals, but apart from that. Not to mention, as I will keep pointing out, one faith is inherently more militant or likely to inspire violence than the other.

To learn how Islam strives for peace, you must look to see when it was established and in what political and religious climate. The prophet Muhammad was born into an extremely violent tribal culture. In his thirties, Muhammad experienced “divine revelations” from God which led to the writing of the Quran. In these teachings, Muhammad said that God, or Allah, wished for peace for his people. These teachings also preached patience and kindness. These teachings were alien to pre-Islamic Arabia.

If Allah and Muhammad both strive for peace, why did Muhammad conquer Mecca through military force and desecrate, I repeat, desecrate the artefacts and temples of the former religion of Arabia. He sent generals to attack the shrines of pre-Islamic pagan deities and kill the people who tended to those shrines. One of his generals even killed a woman Muhammad assured him was one of the false goddesses. No one who strives for peace above all else would condone this or participate in this, even if you’re the type who espouses peace by superior arms. I don’t care how violent his culture was. If he really believed in peace and despised violence, he would be above that. But history, the Quran and the Hadiths show otherwise. Not to mention, why does the Quran tell believers to kill non-believers, keeping in mind that the Quran is considered the perfect, unchangeable word of Allah? This is still weak apologia.

Muhammad advocated a policy of non-violent resistance and like Buddhism, Islamic teachings, at their core, call for peace and patience. The Holy Quran 49:10 states ‘Humanity is but a single brotherhood; so make peace with your brethren.’ The word ‘Islam’ even comes from the world ‘Salam’ meaning ‘peace’.

The same lie about Muhammad’s advocacy of non-violent resistance is repeated here, and if we’re honest I think we know already that Islamic teachings don’t call for peace and patience, except with other believers (and even then, only the real believers – not “hypocrites”). Also, this is what 49:10 says:

The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” – Surah Al-Hujurat 49:10

Key words: the believers. Not all of humanity. The rest are to be converted. Not to mention, in Islamic the world is divided into two categories: Dar al-Islam (the territory of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the territory of strife, strife that is necessitated by a lack of belief in Allah). The word Islam does not strictly mean peace. It means “submission” or “surrender” as in surrender to the will of Allah. It comes from the word aslama which means “submit” or “surrender”.

Today, members and leaders of the Islamic faith actively condemn acts of violence. They speak out against injustices and work together with other Abrahamic faiths in interfaith dialogues to aid the spread of understanding and peace. Muslim communities in Australia are working with the federal and state governments to combat the radicalisation of Muslim youths.

Well they’re trying, but it’s mostly #NotAll so-and-so and “Islam dindu nuffin”. You hear very little addressing of the ideological prerogatives of Islam or Islamism compared to the apologia coming from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, yourself included. And that’s in the West. In the Middle East, meanwhile…

And have you seen Arab Twitter’s response to the Orlando Pulse massacre?

Also, Australia’s government is more concerned about cracking down on “vilifying” religions than fighting terrorism.

Obviously, the glaring contradiction is terrorist organisations such as Islamic State and Boko Haram. However, these organisations do not work in the name of Allah, or in any way embody the teachings of Muhammad. These contradictions result from a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Islamic text. With all religious text, one must continually re-interpret it as society evolves.

That’s an outright lie. Islamic State (or ISIL) are an Islamic organization, specifically they are Wahhabi Muslims, and the thing about Wahhabists is they believe in propagating the strictest, purest form of Islam possible. They commit violence against non-believers because it is written in the Quran. They implement Sharia law based on the Quran and the Hadiths. They kill other Muslims because they deem them to be hypocrites, who the Quran also commands violence against. They kill gay people because the Quran tells them to. Even slavery, including sexual slavery, is something that they justify using the Quran. If it is Allah’s will, then they follow it without question. It’s not a misunderstanding, only a strict interpretation and broad application of the teachings of the Quran, unmoderated and untempered by the values of the Enlightenment and the modern secular liberal values that spring from it. They are also Islamists which means they wish for society in general to structured around Islam. Boko Haram have the same ideology. All of this is religious motivated and tied to Islam. It’s worth noting that the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic Studies, which would suggest he is very educated on the subject.

In reality, the Quran is no more violent than the Christian bible, it just so happens that there are groups of people who insist on taking portions of the Quran out of context to fit their radical agenda.

The problem is that you have significantly more Muslims who strictly adhere to the Quran and more radical Islamists who kill people in the name of Allah than Christians doing the same thing in the name of Jesus, and the former is currently killing more people than the latter are. In fact, there have been 29,055 Islam-inspired attacks committed since 9/11, and that number is bound to rise further. Also Christianity is more tempered by modern secular values than Islam is, and we in the West are coddling the Islamic faith and preventing any kind of reform which might lead to Islam being as reformed and tempered as Christianity is now. This is what needs to be addressed.

In the modern world, Buddhism works with many people and religions in an effort towards peace. Organisations such as The Soka Gakkai International is a global movement of people who are connected through Buddhism. They attempt to bring a “revolution of peace” to the world. This organisation has roots leading back to the Cold War where they rallied against the use of nuclear arms. The then president of the organisation, Josei Toda, called for the complete prohibition of all nuclear weapons.

The Soka Gakkai organisation has always said that open dialogue among the various faiths and cultures is the key to peace. They published dialogues with the former soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Indonesian Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, and Chinese writer Jin Yong.

It’s a shame the Islamic world isn’t doing much of that lately.

Also, how many Nichiren Buddhists commit religiously motivated murders? Just out of interest.

Like Islam, there is still the radical sect of Buddhism who insist on interpreting the sacred texts to suit their own agenda. This is never more obvious than with the persecution of Muslims in Burma at the hands of Buddhist monks. The origin of this violence is vague at best and there are disputing claims as to why and when these persecutions began. The persecution included boycotting Muslim business and attacking and killing Muslims.”

Ashin Wirathu is the monk who is seen as the leader of the anti-Islamic movement in Burma and he is a Theravada Buddhist. Is Theravada Buddhism the radical sect you’re talking about? If so, I’m not convinced because Theravada is very much a mainstream school of Buddhism. Otherwise, name those sects. His opposition to Islam appears to be less based on his own religious beliefs and more on a concern for the increasing influence of Islam and fears of violence from Islamic communities. In that sense, he is more like the Burmese Buddhist equivalent of Tommy Robinson to some extent. At any rate, I’m no expert but, from what I’ve read, it’s not like the Rohingya Muslims are entirely blameless, since they’ve attacked people and damaged property themselves. In addition to this, there is also a militant Rohingya Islamist movement called the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. Why don’t you look them up?

Some claim that the Buddhists of Burma became angry at the influx of Muslim migrants to the country. Others say that the Buddhist monks became angry at the accumulated wealth of the Muslims, effectively blaming them for the poverty of their own people. Whatever the origin, these events show that no religion is immune from violent extremism. But these episodes of violence should in no way over-shadow the good done by other Buddhists and Buddhist organisations.

What you’ve just said doesn’t simply prove that no religion is immune from violent extremism, although no one can deny that this is the case. You’ve just said that there are political reasons underlying the sectarian conflict. Although tied to religion, it’s not solely religiously motivated. Whereas in the case of Islamic terrorism, religion is either the sole motivation or the primary or dominant motivation. And again, Islamic violence is more rampant worldwide than Buddhist violence.

It is safe to say, that the goal for every religion is to reach a state of peace, whether it’s inner peace, or world peace. The radical sects of some religions do not speak for these religions as a whole, and the majority of adherents of these religions are appalled at the things done in the name of, say, Allah and Buddha.

The two main goals of every religion are to propagate themselves and to come up with answers to complex questions concerning the “meaning of life”. That’s it. You yourself pointed out the latter. The main difference is that Islam is still propagated by force and its teachings, if implemented as the basis of a society, create brutal totalitarian societies. One need only look at the Middle East to see that this is the case, and I don’t think they disavow the puristic adherents of Islam (except in the case of ISIL, and I really think they condemn them just to save face).

Also, a quarter of British Muslims sympathized with the Charlie Hebdo attackers. 20% of British Muslims sympathize with the 7/7 bombers while 1 in 4 say they were justified. 32% of Palestinians supported the slaughter of Jewish families. And 45% of British believe that anti-Western Islamic clerics are part of mainstream Islam. I know, not all Muslims believe this! But it’s a significant number, larger than I think it should be.

“Through the teachings of Muhammad, Muslims are instructed to be patient, to be kind to those of differing faiths.

I’m not going to repeat myself about Muhammad.

Buddhists have a similar view. They must not cause suffering and should shy away from violence. Much like Muhammad, they preach non-violent resistance.

Buddhists don’t have a similar view, mainly because Siddhartha Gautama never encouraged killing people of different faiths, including people who leave the faith! Also I really don’t think resistance, let alone non-violent, is that strong a theme in Buddhism compared to the theme of letting go of attachments and delusions (or rather what Buddhism views as attachments and delusions). And again, I’ve already established that Muhammad advocating non-violent resistance is a lie so I’m not repeating myself again.

Many people would be shocked to think of Islam and Buddhism being comparable in any way and yet if you look closely at their teachings, and their efforts towards peace, they are more similar than one may suspect.

Yeah! Yeah I imagine many people would be shocked! And I highly doubt that looking at the teachings and the texts would change people’s minds too much. This is a pointless exercise of the lie that all religions are the same, and all to shield Islam from much-needed criticism and reform. If Siddartha Gautama were to read the Quran, I think he would be aghast at what it condones or instructs.

This article has proven to be nothing more than a weak and dishonest piece of apologia, not to mention a pathetic exercise in comparative religion. I can only hope that the author’s ignorance is simply a mark of her naivety, but even then I am still concerned that people like her are the next generation. I am deeply worried about how blind the human species is becoming, and how our inability to look at the reality of the situation is only increasing with time. And sadly, people like her are part of the problem – not least because the apologia she offers us is printed by the media numerous times and propped as a voice of reason.


Link to the original article: https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/islam-and-buddhism-are-more-alike-than-you-think,9377

Mythological Spotlight #5 Part 2 – Maitreya

Maitreya Bodhisattva depicted at Chi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong


In Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is the Buddha of the future and the prophesied successor to Siddhartha Gautama. It’s believed that he will incarnate at some point in the future, specifically a time where the Buddhist teachings will have been completely forgotten, at which time he will achieve enlightenment and spread the Buddhist teachings in their pure and unaltered form. Maitreya is generally seen as a messianic figure who will save humanity and lead them into a new age of enlightenment and peace.


I suppose I should begin by answering the central question: are Mithras and Maitreya related? The name Maitreya is derived from the Sanskrit word “maitri” (meaning “loving-kindness”), and that word is said to be derived from the noun “mitra” (meaning “friend”). That noun is associated with the Vedic deity Mitra, whom you may remember is a deity associated with friendship and the Vedic Indian predecessor of both the Iranian Mithra and the Roman Mithras. This idea is at the center of the specultion that the Buddhist Maitreya was based on Mitra or Mithra. However, apart from the apparent connection between their names, the two entities seem largely unrelated, and any connection between them seems to be a stretch, entirely extrapolated from the connection between their names.

Maitreya’s first appearance is in a text called the Cakkavatti Sutta, in which Siddartha Gautama speaks of the future time wherein the Dharma (or Buddhist teachings) will have been completely forgotten. In this state, it is said that mankind will war with itself, a few people will take shelter in the wilderness, and the majority of mankind will be slaughtered while the few that remain will emerge out of their shelters to seek a virtuous life. Gautama states that at this time a future Buddha will be born among them, eventually attain enlightenment, and have a Sangha (community of ordained monks and nuns) numbering in the thousands. It is believed that Maitreya currently resides in the inner court of the Tushita heaven – the heavenly realm of contentment. This realm was also believed to be the domicile of Siddartha Gautama before his incarnation as the historical Buddha, and it is believed that Maitreya will descend from this realm at the time of his incarnation in order to assume his role as the next Buddha. It is also believed that the proper time of Maitreya’s incarnation on Earth would not come to pass for millions of years, and that he will remain in the Tushita realm for all that time until then, when he would be needed.

At this point, it seems obvious that the two entities have pretty much nothing to do with each other. Maitreya’s principal role is to appear at a time where Buddhist teachings are forgotten in the world and spread the teachings to those who will listen. He shares no roles and no attributes with Mitra, Mithra, or Mithras. Even the idea of one of those deities bringing salvation seems shaky, or is at least different from the role that Maitreya is said to play. He’s just a future Buddha, not a deity of justice, covenants, friendship, or light – let alone the Sun (in Buddhism, the solar Buddha is Vairocana).

You may or may not recognize a statue of a fat Buddha who is depicted as smiling, laughing, and full of joy. That Buddha is named Budai – commonly identified as the Laughing Buddha – a popular Chinese Buddhist icon sometimes revered in the name of wealth, and having the power. He is also considered an incarnation of Maitreya. This identification seems to have spawned from tales of a Ch’an (Zen) monk known as Pu Tai. Pu Tai wondered around his native province of Zhejiang where he begged for food, gave advice and tought those who cared to listen, and collected many things to put in his sack. He had no home to call his own and no temple in which to find sanctuary, but he was always in a cheerful mood. He was also purported to be very good at telling people’s fortunes and predicting the weather. When he was about to die, his last words were said to be “Maitreya, the true Maitreya, has billions of incarnations. Often he is shown to people all the time; other times they do not recognize him”, and this is said to be the source of his identification with Maitreya.

In China, Maitreya has also served as the inspiration for various messianic rebellions conducted against the imperial government by followers of a revolutionary interpretation of the Maitreya prophecy. During the Sui dynasty, three different people proclaimed themselves (or were proclaimed by their followers) as Maitreya Buddha and led insurrections against the dynasty between 610 and 613 CE, but all three were vanquished by the imperial government. Similar declarations of the arrival of the new Buddha and rebellions inspired by Maitreya would emerge in dynasties afterwards, right up to the Qing Dynasty. One notable player in these rebellions was a sect called White Lotus, an unorthodox Buddhist sect who rebelled against the Yuan and Qing dynasties in the name of Maitreya as well as the “Manichaean King of Light”. There were also similar rebellions inspired by the arrival of a “new Buddha” before the Sui dynasty, including one rebellion known as the Mahayana Rebellion, whose leader was a monk who managed to convince his followers that they would become bodhisattvas by killing a certain number of enemies. Because Maitreya’s incarnation wasn’t supposed to happen for millions of years, it can be safely assumed that the rebellious sects had reinterpreted the Maitreya prophecy which was more conducive to the mentality and goal of revolution against the imperial government.

In Japan, Maitreya is known as Miroku Bosatsu and he assumes much the same role as he does outside of Japan. Miroku Bosatsu is also considered one of the most prominent and beloved bodhisattvas in Japanese Buddhism, alongside other beloved icons such as Jizo Bosatsu, who vowed to remain on Earth to do good deeds until Miroku’s incarnation. At one point Miroku also became very popular in Shingon Buddhism, which believes that Miroku Bosatsu will become a Buddha and appear on Earth to save those who have not yet attained enlightenment in order to bring universal salvation. The sect was founded by a monk named Kukai, who travelled to China in order study and impart esoteric Buddhist teachings. There are some legends about Kukai that state that he is was reborn in the Tushita realm and is with Miroku or waiting upon him, or that he is not actually dead and is waiting for Miroku on Mount Koya in an eternal state of samadhi. Budai also appears in Japanese Buddhism as Hotei, who is identified as a deity of contentment and happiness, the guardian of children, the patron of bartenders, and one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Outside of Asia, Maitreya is referred to in the teachings of Theosophy, where he is believed to be a high-ranking member of a hidden spiritual hierarchy whose function is to assist humanity in its evolution. In this hierarchy, he is said to hold the “Office of the World Teacher”. Helena Blavatsky linked the arrival of Maitreya with the return of Jesus of Nazareth, along with the arrival of other “ascended masters”. In the early 20th century, a Theosophist named Charles W. Leadbeater declared that Maitreya and Jesus were the exact same person, that said person lived somewhere in the Himalayas, and that his coming was imminent. In 1909, Leadbeater discovered a young Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom he regarded as a vehicle for Maitreya to reveal himself through. With that idea in mind, Krishnamurti was trained for that purpose, and the Order of the Star in the East was created to prepare the world for Maitreya’s arrival. Krishnamurti became the head of this organization until 1929, when he dissolved it. In 1975, a man named Benjamin Creme claimed that to have received telepathic communications from Maitreya and that Maitreya revealed that his return to Earth would be earlier than the year 2025. He later claimed Maitreya had already incarnated on Earth and had been living in the Himalayas as of 1977 before moving to London where he lived in secrecy. He made all sorts of claims regarding Maitreya, none of which have proven true, and he since become a source of ridicule because of it.

There have been individuals other than the various leaders of messianic insurrections in China who claimed to be Maitreya incarnate, or are believed to be so. L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, once claimed that he was Maitreya – or rather Metteya. Claude Vorilhon, also known as Rael, was also believed to be Maitreya. Samael Aun Weor seems to refer to himself as an avatar of Kalki – the tenth avatar of Vishnu – whom he identifies with Maitreya, and Maitreya Buddha Samael seems to be a title he accepts for himself, though he interprets the title of Buddha to refer to one’s own state of having achieved self-realization or “Christification”. There is also a man who appeared in Nairobi, Kenya in 1988, who was referred to as Maitreya – people in the area also referred to him as Jesus Christ, while Benjamin Creme seemed to comment that the man was in fact Maitreya (who was viewed as being the same as Jesus). Even more bizarre, some people have even claimed that Maitreya is actually the Antichrist. Today, these people usually consist of the same type of conspiracy theorists who have claimed that every US president since Ronald Reagan is the Antichrist. So, go figure I guess.


Maitreya seems to be another one of those savior figures that people tend to cling to, but also one of those savior figures that seem to have inspired strong belief in him, even to the point of messianic delusion – much like how far belief in Jesus of Nazareth has been shown to go. Given Maitreya’s role as a figure who would appear on Earth at some point, it’s not hard to see why he would be compared with figures such as Jesus. However, as I have already written, Maitreya isn’t really related to the same deities that people have claimed he is.


Click here for Part 1.

Plans for esoteric study

Recently I feel motivated to conduct more detailed study of occult books, particularly Michael W. Ford’s books on Luciferianism and Luciferian magick. Lately I have been feeling like I could benefit from some study on ritual in order to produce greater results in the realm of magick and achieve the results that I intend to produce.

Some of the books I plan to look at include the following:

  • Adversarial Light: Magick of the Nephilim by Michael W. Ford
  • Bible of the Adversary by Michael W. Ford
  • Luciferian Witchcraft by Michael W. Ford
  • Adamu: Luciferian Tantra and Sex Magick by Michael W. Ford
  • Liber HVHI by Michael W. Ford
  • The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey
  • The Satanic Rituals by Anton LaVey
  • The Seven Faces of Darkness by Don Webb

The Ford books will be studied in a certain order beginning with Adversarial Light and ending with Liber HVHI. I also plan to look into a few books on Hindu Tantra, Buddhist Tantra, Japanese esoteric Buddhism, and ritual pertaining to all three of those areas where I can find them, unless some of the listed books from Michael W. Ford cover the bases from Eastern lore. That, and I can always use more Satanism books, and not just LaVey’s books either.

I have already been reading at most three of the books (Seven Faces of Darkness, a little bit of Adversarial Light, and another little bit of Bible of the Adversary), and perhaps I could read more. I’ve read some interesting things so far, and I plan to take notes along the way. To be honest, I may have to crystallize my magical direction from all this and generate a more refined and defined system that’s still true to my desires and nature, only better at getting what I want out magick.

The lord of consciousness and the destroyers of consciousness

I watched a video from Thomas LeRoy, who you may recognize as the founder of a Left Hand Path organization known as the Sect of the Horned God, and in the video he talked about how he felt the Hindu deity Shiva was the best representation of the Left Hand Path in general. He feels that Shiva represents the consciousness of the individual (which he equates to the concept of Atman), in contrast to Vishnu’s connection with the consciousness of the universe (which he identifies as the concept of Brahman), and as the traditions of the Left Hand Path highly stress the importance of the consciousness of the individual, .

If you want, you can see the full video below.

In a sense, Atman referring to the individual consciousness can be a way of interpreting the concept of Atman, but while Atman is viewed as referring to the essential self, in Hindu tradition that same essential self is viewed as identical with Brahman, the consciousness of the universe. Shiva being the lord of individual consciousness in a Left Hand Path context is still an interesting way to elevate the individual consciousness and its importance in a Hindu context, and it definitely keeps Shiva interesting. In fact, it might be part of why my interest in him has stuck.

I don’t think I could come to dislike him.

This interpretation also brings to my mind a Buddhist myth concerning Shiva. Shiva does appear in the Buddhist tradition as Mahakala, but that’s not his only iteration within Buddhist lore. There’s a story in Buddhist scriptures where Shiva appears as Maheshvara (one of his names which he often goes by) and is defeated by a bodhisattva named Vajrapani. In the story, the cosmic Buddha Vairocana wants to construct a mandala and requests Vajrapani to generate his adamantine family in order to do so, but Vajrapani refuses to cooperate with Vairocana because of Maheshvara “deluding beings with deceitful doctrines and engaging in criminal activity”. In response Vajrapani’s complaint, Vairocana permits him to bring Maheshvara and his entourage to Mount Meru in order to force them to comply with the doctrines of the Buddha Gautama. Vajrapani uses a mantra to drag Maheshvara and company to Mount Meru, and orders all of them submit to the Buddhist teachings, to which all of them comply except Maheshvara, who refers to Vajrapani as a “pathetic tree spirit”. The two challenge each other in magical combat, and after a series of battles Maheshvara eventually defeated by Vajrapani, and along with his wife Uma (clearly a reference to the goddess Parvati) he is tread upon by Vajrapani after his defeat. After Vajrapani’s victory, all of Maheshvara’s entourage submit to the teachings of Buddhism and become a part of Vairocana’s mandala, except for Maheshvara, who is killed, but he is reborn in another realm as a Buddha named Bhasmesvara Nirghosa, who is described as “Soundless Lord of Ashes”.

In Japanese Buddhism, there is a similar myth centering around Gozanze Myo-O (aka Trailokyavijaya), one of the Five Wisdom Kings (a powerful group of wrathful emanations of the Five Buddhas of Wisdom, intended to represent the overcoming of passions and all threats to the Buddhist faith). In Japan, Gozanze Myo-O is the one who subjugates Maheshvara (known in Japan as Daijizaiten) and his wife Uma, thus they are depicted as trampled beneath Gozanze Myo-O’s feet in representations of him. But rather than killing Maheshvara, as Vajrapani did, Gozanze Myo-O converts him and Uma into protectors of the Buddhist faith.

A representation of Gozanze Myo-O.

The story of Maheshvara’s defeat and/or subjugation is obviously a way of illustrating the purported superiority of Buddhism next to Hinduism, and thus the superiority of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas over the Hindu pantheon of deities, but I feel that if we are to consider Shiva as a deity representing individuated consciousness, then beings like Vajrapani and Gozanze Myo-O, in the act of killing or subjugating Maheshvara, become the destroyers of individuated consciousness. This of course ties in to the fact that the goal of Buddhist practice is, ultimately, the extinction of individuated consciousness.

It’s a shame too, because I don’t really look at beings like these the same way after thinking about it that way. The wrathful beings of Buddhist come across to me as expressions of powerful will and strength, so it is a shame when that becomes directed against individuated consciousness in support of religious doctrine.

Mythological Spotlight #1: Dairokuten Maou

This is the first of a new kind of post that I call a Mythological Spotlight, so let me explain how this is going to work. Mythological Spotlights are posts that are devoted to mythological figures, almost always deities or demons. Mythological Spotlights will be similar to the Deity Pages, except the Description section before the History may be much shorter will focus more on the general description of the mythological figure, whereas my opinion of the figure will probably appear after the History section. Mythological Spotlights will be posted infrequently rather than in a regular pattern unless I have a strong motivation to do so, though it may or may not occur that I post the first few Spotlights once a week since I have a few candidates in mind.

Anyways, let’s begin with Dairokuten Maou.

Dairokuten Maou attacking the Buddha and his followers, as depicted by Katsushika Hokusai


In Japanese Buddhism, Dairokuten Maou is the personification of delusion and the demonic ruler of the sixth heaven. The sixth heaven refers to the realm known as Takejizai-Ten, the realm of Free Enjoyment of Transformations by Others, and is the sixth heaven of the realm of the devas, one of the six desire realms into which reincarnation is said to be possible. Dairokuten Maou is said to make free use of things created by others for his own pleasure, and his role is said to prevent conscious beings from escaping from the cycle of metempsychosis or Samsara by tempting them towards worldly life, desires, and goals while tempting them away from Buddhist teachings. He is said to have innumerable minions under his service and enjoys sapping life force from others. Nichiren Buddhism identifies Dairokuten Maou as the heavenly devil and classes him as one of four devils that afflict practitioners and obstruct Buddhist practice, the other three being the devil of the five components of life (or the five aggregates or skandas), the devil of earthly desires, and the devil of death.


Dairokuten Maou seems to be the Japanese iteration of a being named Mara, who is sometimes referred to as “the Evil One”. Mara is seen as a personification of distraction from the spiritual life and from pursuit of enlightenment, as well as unskillfulness and spiritual death. In fact, his name seems to be a reference to death itself. Usually Mara is a representation of internal vices and impulses that lie within the mind, rather than an external demon. In the story of how the Buddha achieved enlightenment, Mara tried to distract Siddhartha Gautama with temptations in order to prevent him from achieving enlightenment. Like Dairokuten Maou, Mara was also said to distract people from practicing the Buddhist teachings with temptations.

It was also said that Mara referred to four obstructive forces: Skandha-Mara, Klesa-Mara, Mrtyu-Mara, and Devaputra-Mara. Skanhda-Mara is said to be the embodimenet of the five skandhas, or aggregates of existence: form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness. Klesa-Mara is said to be the embodiment of attachment to “unskillful” and negative emotions, and the patterns that pertain to them. Mrtyu-Mara is said to be the embodiment of death and the fear of death and impermanence, also known as the Lord of Death (not to be confused with Yama). Devaputra-Mara is said to be the embodiment of great attachment and craving, particularly for pleasure, and is also referred to as a child of the gods. Some refer to Devaputra-Mara as the literal Mara. These four Maras seem to be the basis of the four devils described in Nichiren Buddhism.

Dairokuten Maou was also a nickname attributed to Nobunaga Oda, a daimyo (fuedal lord) who conquered a third of Japan until his death at Honnō-ji in 1582. Nobunaga actually adopted the title for himself,  and it seems to have started after Nobunaga was sent a message from rival warlord Shingen Takeda, who proclaimed himself Tendai Zasu-Shamon Shingen (protector of the Tendai sect and its leader) in a letter sent in response to him burning down Enraku-ji, which was based in Mt. Hiei and was also the headquarters of the Tendai sect of Buddhism (and still is today). In response, Nobunaga boasted that he was the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven, and he continued to do so in missives sent to his enemies (according to his confidant, the Portugese Jesuit missionary Luis Frois). Presumably, this was done to try and inspire fear in his enemies and discourage them from opposing him, but to this day Nobunaga is often depicted as villainous and even an actual demon king, and this has not always been down to him adopting the title of Demon King of the Sixth Heaven for himself. Nobunaga had been infamous for his brutality and cruelty and for committing various atrocities. One example is how, after his campaign against the Azai and Asakura factions, he apparently took the skulls of his rival Nagamasa Azai, his father Hisamasa Azai, and Yoshikuge Asakura, and made them into cups for drinking sake out of. Another is how he burned Buddhist temples, such as Enryaku-ji which was home to warrior monks who were independent and allied with the Azai and Asakura factions, and killed even innocent people in the siege of Mt. Hiei. Such actions were likely done in order to strike fear into his enemies and discourage them from opposing him.

Nobunaga was not always known for being cruel or villainous, however. He is also remembered as being one of the three unifiers of Japan during the Sengoku period that lasted from 1467 to 1603 CE, a time were many fuedal lords fought each other for land and influence and the influence of the Ashikaga Shogunate that governed the land had declined. For better or worse, Nobunaga’s actions set the foundation for the end of this period of civil war, and after his death, the land would eventually be united by one of his successors, Ieyasu Tokugawa. He is also remembered for changing the way war was fought in Japan with the introduction of firearms, and for modernizing the economy. Yet, many works of fiction to this day, particularly works of anime that lean to towards fantasy and action, depict Nobunaga as supernaturally villainous, and chances are when you’re in Japan and you think Nobunaga Oda, you’re also thinking of the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven.


In my opinion, Dairokuten Maou seems to be the closest thing in Buddhist theology to the Christian interpretation of Satan: a being who personifies delusion, temptation, and/or evil, a being with innumerable minions serving under him, and a being who leads humans away from a given religion (in this case Buddhism) and its teachings as well as obstructing religious practice. But, unlike the Christian Satan who resides in Hell, Dairokuten Maou resides in a heavenly realm, and unlike the Christian Satan who is attested to have fallen from heaven where he was once an angel, Dairokuten Maou pretty much remained in the heavenly realm he occupies and there’s no information that attests to him ever having fallen from any sort of heavenly realm and being in the good graces of any particular deity or deities. At any rate, Dairokuten Maou is an interesting character, and his attachment to a historical figure (in this case Nobunaga Oda) seems to make him all the more so because of the prospect of a powerful heavenly demon getting himself involving in a war on Earth, even if it was never anything literal.


Karma is a concept common in Eastern religions and culture, but is interpreted very differently here in the West by many people. Our understanding of karma is largely based on the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of karma, so these are the concepts I’ll focus on here. When most people think of karma, they tend to think of something like this:

But in reality, the concept of karma has nothing to do with this sort of thing in its actual context. People like to think that karma means you “get what you deserve” in this life through some force in the cosmos, possibly because it suits their desire for vengeance without them actually claiming their vengeance for themselves, but that’s not what karma is.

In the West we tend to think of karma as the invisible moral force of reward and punishment, but in the Hindu context karma refers to the action or deeds of a person. In fact, the word karma literally means “action”, “deed”, or “work”, referring to the actions or deeds of a person, and any reward or punishment would thus refer to the result of said actions. However, karma is tied to the concept of reincarnation in which the soul enters a new physical form after death, which means your actions in this life are more or less tied to the next life. In this sense, karma in Hinduism tends to play out more like this:

In addition, Hindu belief stresses that there is only one Self, but instead of the individuated self there’s a single consciousness or Self tying all life together. This means all life is connected, and every individual is not only part of all others but also part of the divine consciousness of the universe, in fact but a piece of this consciousness, thus the goal of Hindu spirituality is for each piece to reunite with this single underlying consciousness, often identified as either God or by the concept of Atman (this itself tends to depend on what school of Hindu thought you answer to). It also means that it’s not you being reborn in a new body, but rather Atman. It also means that the bad things can happen to other people as a result of one person’s karma, which is horrible. In fact, this was one of the ways that people tried to explain the tsunami that happened in Southeast Asia near the end of 2004, and it may sound glib but it’s not an unreasonable interpretation of Hindu belief. Either way, I feel that since your consciousness is not your own in Hindu belief and since reincarnation entails someone or something else inheriting the fruits of your past actions, someone or something else is going to get screwed over by your actions, which is just illogical and wrong.

It works much the same in the Buddhist faith, except that in Buddhism there is neither a single divine consciousness nor individuated consciousness. Reincarnation is still based on karma or actions, but karma was also defined by Siddhartha Gautama as intention itself. This means that even mental action, the thought or impulse to perform physical and verbal actions and that influences such actions, can affect the next life. In broad terms, it also means that even a good action motivated by personal desire can be impure and lead to an impure rebirth, and the highest states of being, along with enlightenment itself, hinge on selflessness, which is stupid.

The wheel of the six desire realms.

In general, karma just means actions, but it’s funny how even though the concept of karma entails actions rather than a justice system designed to reward or punish them, the theme surrounding the concept of karma in many religions seems to be that your actions will be punished after this life rather than within, and I can’t seem to agree with the idea that the cosmos dispenses any sort of reward or punishment for actions that, if reincarnation is to be believed, you are no longer technically responsible for. And the thing is, if Hinduism and Buddhism are to be believed, you either don’t have an individuated consciousness, or your consciousness is not your own anyway, so how the hell are you responsible for actions that aren’t even yours either way?

The cursed existence of the bodhisattva

In Mahayana Buddhist belief, a bodhisattva is a sentient being who attained enlightenment and buddhahood and was able to pass into the state of nirvana upon death, but temporarily renounced the state of nirvana in order to aid all sentient beings in attaining Buddhist enlightenment. The bodhisattvas  are revered as godlike beings within Mahayana Buddhist sects, but are not technically considered gods in the conventional sense, though they might be called upon for aid by practitioners on the path to enlightenment.

The bodhisattva is also the highest ideal for Mahayana Buddhists, who strive to achieve a state of compassion for all living beings and by doing so detach all living beings from the cycle of death, rebirth, suffering, and karma by helping them achieve enlightenment. A key concept involved is the concept of bodhicitta, a state of mind that strives enlightenment and compassion for the benefit of all beings.

Guan Yin, a well-known example of a bodhisattva.

I am of the persuasion that, assuming these beings exist at all, bodhisattvas live a horrible existence. They vow themselves to “liberate” all sentient beings, help them achieve the Buddhist idea of enlightenment, selflessness, and compassion for all living beings, and they will pass into nirvana or become Buddhas until this is achieved, but have they realized what this means? Their quest will, with all likelihood, never end. They will never lead all sentient beings into salvation to because living beings are practically endless. Even towards the end of time, there will always be sentient beings who disagree with Buddhist teachings, do not practice the Buddhist ways and ideas of attaining enlightenment, or will not attain the enlightenment that is espoused by Buddhist teachings.

The bodhisattvas would devote the whole of their existence in service of others and have no regard for themselves, because Buddhism teaches the cultivation selflessness and ultimate compassion, and Mahayana Buddhism in particular stresses enlightenment primarily for the sake of others and saving all living beings. Obviously the bodhisattvas would not feel any unhappiness or dissatisfaction from this because of the state of mind they have cultivated, but I find an existence where you basically spend all eternity trying to save all living beings and living my life for the sake of everyone’s salvation would be undesirable, unfulfilling, and nightmarish. Imagine living a life where you acted only in service of the people and having no regard for what you wanted or what you felt was right. What if you realized your quest could never be complete? What if you came to the conclusion that you couldn’t help everyone, for there will always be someone in need that will end up going without your service? Or if that the people would never be happy with your efforts, always demanding more?

Vishnu, the Buddha, the devas, and Hindu lore

In India, Buddhism is not very popular despite the fact that it originated there. Part of the reason is the fact that Hinduism seems to have adapted the story of the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, into its own lore. Specifically, there is a Hindu belief that the historical Buddha was the ninth avatar of the deity Vishnu, who is said to preserve the universe and protect its balance.

Different reasons are put forward for why Vishnu assumed the form of Buddha within this theory. Some believe Vishnu was promoting the idea of ahimsa (non-violence) in this form, others believe Vishnu wanted to see if people would remain faithful to the Vedic dharma, and there’s a story in the Puranas which suggests that Buddha was born to delude and confuse the enemies of the devas by preaching “false views” and thus weaken them. You could say this was a ploy to convert Buddhists into the Hindu tradition, but you could also say it was a smear campaign against Buddhism (which was viewed as a nastika or heterodox religion) on the part of orthodox Hindu thinkers.

Vishnu and his ten avatars (Dashavatara), including the Buddha.

The Puranic interpretation is the one I find odd. Why would the gods, who are supposedly interested in the truth, go out of their way to deliberately deceive humans, let alone demons, for any reason? How’s it any different from how, in Christian tradition, God apparently lets Satan and his demons “mislead” his own creation? In modern Hindu lore, the gods (or devas) chose the path of truth and their enemies (the asuras) supposedly chose falsehood (in reality it’s about Hindu ideas of spirituality versus materialism), and to me it often just seems like a worthless conflict. Think about it: although there are sometimes genuinely evil deeds punished by gods, usually it’s just either the gods trying to maintain hegemony over the world under the guise of preserving righteousness and the balance, or a mere morality tale of Hindu/Brahmanist social and spiritual ideas defeating materialism and godlessness.

This is also why I barely take Hindu mythology seriously or with the level of religious devotion that may or may not be accidentally implied, and merely use or venerate Hindu gods as a pagan (while not actually worshipping them or providing externality to their existence) but not their mythologies, because in Hindu mythology the gods are mainly a vehicle for both a morality tale and a concept of an external god, since they are merely forms of God in Hindu tradition.

The Eternal Youth: Thoughts on Sanat Kumara

Ever since I was following news of Shin Megami Tensei IV and hearing of a demon in the game named Sanat, I developed an interest in a mythological/spiritual figure from Theosophical lore known as Sanat Kumara. Sanat Kumara is a syncretic figure found in Theosophical and New Age lore. He is the eternal youth (in fact his Sanskrit name means “Eternal Youth”), and is seen as a figure who came to Earth from Venus six million years in order influence the spiritual evolution of mankind and life on earth. He is seen in New Age circles as a savior of mankind and a spiritual master, and according to lore he appears as a sixteen year old boy even though he’s been around for millions of years, thus the source of two titles of his; Ancients of Days (signifying his eternity) and Youth of Sixteen Summers (symbolizing his eternal youth and appearance).

The eternal youth characteristic is but one aspect of how interesting the figure is to me. Believers see him in various deities from religions, including Ahura Mazda from Zoroastrian belief, the Buddhist Brahma Sanatkumara (a Buddhist iteration of the god Brahma who is ever-young), the Ancient of Days in Judeo-Christian lore, which is a name for God (obviously owing to his title and status), and especially Murugan (a.k.a. Kartikeya), who also happens to be one of my favorite gods in any lore.

A painting of Kartikeya/Murugan

It would be interesting to note something about the gods associated with Sanat Kumara. In Zoroastrian lore, Ahura Mazda is a god of light associated with fire who defends world order, Brahma Sanatkumara shares his title and appears as an eternal youth, and Murugan is a Hindu god of war and youth who fights evil and monsters. Then there’s Ancient of Days, a name of the Judeo-Christian God, but as I mentioned earlier, Ancient of Days pertains to his title. I find that bringing this together paints an interesting image of Sanat Kumara as an eternally youthful defender of the world who fights evil.

Some people, mostly Christians, equate Sanat Kumara with Lucifer/Satan, perhaps due to the fact that in Theosophical lore, Sanat Kumara arrived to Earth from Venus, just as Lucifer was associated with the morning star (Venus), as well as Sanat Kumara being referred to as King of the World or Lord of the World. His allies, the Lords of the Living Flame, are also equated by Christians with fallen angels. However, from the Theosophical point of view, this makes no sense, as the figure has no actual association with the figure. The only way you could associate him with Satan is by linking him with Lucifer, which you could accomplish with the light-bearer characteristic and his association with Venus, however this can be very shallow and most people only make connections like these as part of some New World Order tripe. Still, the association with Lucifer is a seductive one.

Still, given Lucifer, I’m not that surprised.

There is another iteration of Sanat Kumara that I’m very interested in and is found in Japanese lore. In the temple of Kurama-dera, there is a statue of a unique bodhisattva/deity named Goho Mao-son, known as the “Defender Lord”. He too is said to have come to Earth 6.5 million years ago and has the appearance of a 16-year old boy, though in the temple his statue actually resembles a tengu.

The statue of Goho Maoson at Kurama-dera

He is the king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth. His powerful spirit is said to govern the evolution of life and mankind and is believed to emanate from Mount Kurama. Goho Mao-son is venerated at Kurama-dera alongside two other deities/bodhisattvas; Bishamonten and Senju Kannon. In this trinity, Bishamonten represents light and the sun, Senju Kannon represents love and the moon, and Goho Mao-son represents power and the earth. This trinity also represents three aspects of a higher entity or force named Sonten, who is revered as the Supreme Force or Atman in the temple.

Goho Maoson (left), Bishamonten (centre), and Senju Kannon (right).

I think this creates an interesting perspective of Sanat Kumara as master of the lower, earthly, and chthonic forces as well as being associated with supreme light (that is if you, like me, interpret Sanat Kumara through the lens of Ahura Mazda and Kartikeya, and mingling Sanat Kumara with the higher Sonten), on top of being a defender of the world who fights evil. I actually like this Japanese (or at least my own Japanesque) Sanat Kumara more than the Theosophical idea of Sanat Kumara as the messianic ruler of a spiritual hierarchy over earth and head of some great white brotherhood designed to spread some religious teachings, let alone New Age crap.

I feel my interpreation is very Japanesque and quite Hindu too, and I also feel Sanat Kumara as I see him relates to my alter ego in a way, as a defender of the world (or his world) who is associated with light (by virtue of Ahura Mazda, Brahma, and Kartikeya) the chthonic forces of earth (by virtue of Goho Maoson), and fire (by virtue of Ahura Mazda again), and a fighter of evil, and very powerful. When I imagine Sanat Kumara in my own way, I see my alter ego in him, my higher imagining of myself, much more than I could ever imagine him as an external entity.

One last thing, in Theosophical lore, his girlfriend is basically the goddess Venus herself, or more or less a New Age Venus, and she is his twin flame, with the appearance of a beautiful young woman (to compliment the 16-year old Sanat Kumara). I can’t help but see Venus in what I like in a girlfriend, or more or less Venus as a metaphor for the lady of perfection I dream of (yes, even I have those moments, often), given she’s a goddess of love and beauty.

A painting of Venus, not necessarily as I may draw her but still.

The goddess Venus and my own imagining of Sanat Kumara makes for a lovely divine pair, don’t you think?