Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ancient Spiritual Traditions & Their Founders

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Zoroastrianism….Zoroaster, aka Zarathustra was the founder of Zoroastrianism. Though he was a native speaker of Old Avestan and and was born in the region of Balkh / Bactria - Aryana…. (Etymology: zaraϑa, "golden", and the *uštra, "light" (from the root uš, "to shine")… Zoroaster is generally dated from the 6th-9th century BC.

Buddhism…..Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama,Shakyamuni was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He was in Shakya (Sakya) Kingdom of Kapilvastu, in present day Rupandehi district, Lumbini zone of Nepal…. his lifetime is estimated, circa 563 BC to 400 BC.

Hinduism…. is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, particularly of India and Nepal. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among numerous other traditions, and a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorisation of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs. Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, It is "a fusion of Arian and Dravidian cultures", which consists of many diverse traditions. It has diverse roots and no single founder. Among its roots are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India, but also the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Shramana or renouncer traditions of north-east India, and "popular or local traditions".

Jainism…traditionally known as Jaina dharma, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. Practitioners believe that non-violence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain liberation. Currently, Jainism is divided into two major sects —Digambara and Śvētāmbara….The word Jainism is derived from a Sanskrit verb Jin which means to conquer. It refers to a battle with the passions and bodily pleasures that the jaina ascetics undertake. Those who win this battle are termed as Jina (conqueror). The term Jaina is therefore used to refer to laymen and ascetics of this tradition alike….Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Jains traditionally trace their history through a succession of twenty-four propagators of their faith known as tirthankara with Ādinātha as the first tirthankara and Mahāvīra as the last of the current era. For long periods of time Jainism was the state religion of Indian kingdoms and widely adopted in the Indian subcontinent. The religion has been in decline since the 8th century CE due to the growth, and oppression by the followers of Hinduism and Islam….Pārśva, is the earliest tirthankara who can be reliably dated; he lived in the 9th century BC.

Taoism (Daoism)….Laozi…6th century BCE…was a philosopher of ancient China…His association with the Tào Té Chīng has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism.

Confucianism…..Confucius… Kong Qiu (孔丘 Kǒng Qiū)… (551–479 BC) was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher…His birthplace was in Zou, Lu state (near present-day Qufu, Shandong Province)

Shinto (神道 Shintō?), also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the people of Japan. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Founded in 660 BCE…..

Bon… Lord Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche ("Teacher and Great Man of the Shen"; also known as Shenrab Miwo Kunle Nampar Gyalwa) was born in the land of Olmo Lungring ('Ol mo lung ring), a part of a larger country called Tazig (sTag gzigs: Central Asia)….Namkhai Norbu estimated the birth of Shenrab to be in 1917 BC…..Tenzin Wangyal estimated 1875 BC which fits with the Greater Khorasan Civilization.

"Tengrism…..a Central Asian religion characterized by features of shamanism, animism, totemism, both polytheism and monotheism, and ancestor worship. Historically, it was the mainstream religion of the Turks, Mongols, Hungarians, and Bulgars as well as the Xiongnu and the Huns. It was the state religion of the six ancient Turkic states: Göktürks Khaganate, Avar Khaganate, Western Turkic Khaganate, Great Bulgaria, Bulgarian Empire and Eastern Tourkia….Khukh and Tengri literally mean "blue" and "sky" in Mongolian and modern Mongolians still pray to "Munkh Khukh Tengri" ("Eternal Blue Sky")…..Tengriism is also known as the Göktanrı dini, "Sky God religion", Turkish "Gök" (sky) and "Tanrı" (God) corresponding to the Mongolian khukh (blue) and Tengri (sky), respectively…. In the 13th century, Genghis Khan and several generations of his followers were also Tengrian believers until his fifth generation descendent Uzbeg Khan turned to Islam in the 14th century."

Chán-Buddhism…. (simplified Chinese: 禅; traditional Chinese: 禪, abbr. of chánnà (禪那), from Sanskrit dhyāna, meaning "meditation" or "meditative state") is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in China in the 6th century AD….the founder of Chan Buddhism is Bodhidharma…he is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian. He is referred as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" and "Blue Eyed Persian"…At that time there was a monk of the Western Region named Bodhidharma, a Persian Central Asian. He traveled from the wild borderlands to China.

Zen Buddhism….Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China during the 6th century as Chán….the founder of Chan Buddhism is Bodhidharma, a monk of the Western Region named Bodhidharma, a Persian Central Asian….Zen was not introduced in Japan as a separate school until the 12th century, when Myōan Eisai traveled to China and returned to establish a Linji lineage, which eventually perished.

Theravāda- Buddhism…. is the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism. The word is derived from the Sanskrit sthaviravada, and literally means "the Teaching of the Elders". It is relatively conservative, and according to Dr. Rupert Gethin, it is closer to early Buddhism than other existing Buddhist traditions…..Theravadin accounts of its own origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the Third Buddhist Council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, around 250 BCE.

Mahāyāna-Buddhism… (Sanskrit: महायान mahāyāna, literally the "Great Vehicle") is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India, and some scholars believe that it was initially associated with one of the oldest historical branches of Buddhism, the Mahāsāṃghika….The earliest textual evidence of "Mahāyāna" comes from sūtras originating around 100 AD….

Judaism (from the Latin Iudaismus, derived from the Greek Ἰουδαϊσμός, and ultimately from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; in Hebrew: יהדות, Yahadut, the distinctive characteristics of the Judean ethnos)[….a monotheistic religion, with its foundational text, the Torah (also known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible), and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God established with the Children of Israel….Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as unitary and solitary; consequently, the Hebrew God's principal relationships are not with other gods, but with the world, and more specifically, with the people He created. Judaism thus begins with an ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one, and concerned with the actions of humankind. According to the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God's concern for the world. He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God's love for people. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, which is the substance of Judaism…. Abram was called by God to leave his father Terah's house and native land of Mesopotamia in return for a new land, family, and inheritance in Canaan,

Islam….a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: الله‎ Allāh) and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of Hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim….Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim (Arabic: محمد بن عبد الله بن عبد المطلب‎; c. 570 – c. 8 June 632), also transliterated as Muhammad (Arabic: محمد‎), was a religious, political, and military leader from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. He is believed by Muslims and Bahá'ís to be a messenger and prophet of God. Muhammad is almost universally considered by Muslims as the last prophet sent by God for mankind…. While non-Muslims regard Muhammad to have been the founder of Islam, Muslims consider him to have been the restorer of an unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He was a social reformer, diplomat, merchant, philosopher, orator, legislator, military leader, and philanthropist

Gnostic Christianity….Pre-Roman Christianity considered a variety of important pre-Christian figures as among their early leaders. Irenaeus claims that followers of Carpocrates honored images of Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle along with images of Jesus Christ. Philo of Alexandria, Zoroaster, and Hermes Trismegistus may have occupied similar roles among other early Christian gnostics….Jesus is usually claimed as a gnostic leader by gnostics, as are several of his apostles, such as Thomas the Apostle, often thought of as the founder of the Thomasine form of Gnosticism. Indeed, Mary Magdalene is respected as a Gnostic leader, and is considered superior to the twelve apostles by some gnostic texts, such as the Gospel of Mary.

Roman Christianity…...The first recorded official persecution of Christians on behalf of the Roman Empire was in 64 AD, when, as reported by the Roman historian Tacitus, Emperor Nero blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome. According to Church tradition, it was during the reign of Nero that Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. However, modern historians debate whether the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva's modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in 96, from which point practicing Jews paid the tax and Christians did not….When Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (reigned 306–337) ruled Rome, Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have argued about which form of Christianity he subscribed to. Although Constantine had been exposed to Christianity by his mother Helena, there is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother's Christianity in his youth, or gradually over the course of his life, and he did not receive baptism until shortly before his death….

Manichaeism (in Modern Persian آیین مانی Āyin e Māni; Chinese: 摩尼教; pinyin: Móní Jiào) was a major Gnostic religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (in Persian: مانی, Syriac: ܡܐܢܝ, Latin: Manichaeus or Manes) (c. 216–276 AD) in the Sasanian Persian Empire…It thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire. It was briefly the main rival to Christianity in the competition to replace classical paganism. …By the 3rd century the prophet Mani gave birth to Manicheanism, a syncretic gnostic religion which was influenced by Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

Mithraism….The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra (proto-Indo-Iranian Mitra), adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery. Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians….modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism.The mysteries were popular in the Roman military…Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation, with ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those "united by the handshake". They met in underground temples (called mithraea), which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome.

Greek Christianity…. Greek Orthodox Church (Monotonic Greek: Ελληνορθόδοξη Εκκλησία, Polytonic: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἑκκλησία, IPA: [elinorˈθoðoksi ekliˈsia]) is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament. Today, several of these Churches conduct their services in Arabic, the common language of most of their faithful, while at the same time maintaining elements of Greek cultural tradition. The current territory of the Greek Orthodox Churches more or less covers the areas in the Eastern Mediterranean that used to be a part of the Byzantine Empire. The origins of the Orthodox Church can be traced back to the churches which the Apostles founded in the Balkans and the Middle East during the first century A.D.

Nestorian Christianity…Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. …Nestorius and his teachings were eventually condemned as heretical at the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, leading to the Nestorian Schism in which churches supporting Nestorius broke with the rest of the Christian Church….Following the exodus to Persia, scholars expanded on the teachings of Nestorius and his mentors, particularly after the relocation of the School of Edessa to the Persian city of Nisibis in 489 (where it became known as the School of Nisibis). Nestorianism never again became prominent in the Roman Empire or later Europe, though the diffusion of the Church of the East in and after the 7th century spread it widely across Asia….By the end of the fourteenth century, however, the Nestorian and other churches—which at one time had dotted the landscape of all of Central and even parts of East Asia—were all but wiped out. Isolated pockets of Christianity survived only in India. The religious victors on the vast Central Asian mission field of the Nestorians were Islam and Buddhism...The best evidence of the involvement of Christian missionaries in early Tibet comes in the letters of Timothy I, who was Patriarch of the Nestorian Church between 780 and 823, overlapping with the reigns of three of Tibet’s great Buddhist emperors, Trisong Detsen, Senaleg and Ralpachen. Timothy I’s letters contain a couple of references to Tibet. In one letter, he lists the lands in which the Trisagion, one of the oldest Christian prayers, is recited. This list includes Tibet. In another letter, Timothy relates that he has recently appointed a metropolitan bishop for the Turks, and is about to do the same for the Tibetans. These references both date to the early 790s, during Trisong Detsen’s reign.

Vajrayāna- Buddhism…. ( Bengali: বজযান; Devanagari: वज्रयान; Sinhala: වජ්‍රායන; Malayalam: വജ്രയാന; Oriya: ବଜ୍ରଯାନ; Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་ཐེག་པ་, rdo rje theg pa; Mongolian: Очирт хөлгөн, Ochirt Hölgön; Chinese: 密宗, mì zōng) is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Way or Thunderbolt Way. Vajrayāna is a complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice which evolved over several centuries….Founded by the Mahāsiddhas, Vajrayāna subscribes to Buddhist tantric literature….Although the first tantric Buddhist texts appeared in India in the 3rd century AD and continued to appear until the 12th century, scholars such as Hirakawa Akira assert that the Vajrayāna probably came into existence in the 6th or 7th century, while the term Vajrayāna itself first appeared in the 8th century. The Vajrayāna was preceded by the Mantrayāna, and then followed by the Sahajayāna and Kalacakrayāna.

Kashmir Shaivism …is a school of Śaivism consisting of Trika and its philosophical articulation Pratyabhijña. It is categorized by various scholars as monistic idealism (absolute idealism, theistic monism, realistic idealism, transcendental physicalism or concrete monism.)…Kashmir Shaivism arose during the eighth or ninth century CE. in Kashmir and made significant strides, both philosophical and theological, until the end of the twelfth century CE….Kashmir Shaivism was a householder religion based on a strong monistic interpretation of the Bhairava Tantras (and its subcategory the Kaula Tantras)…Abhinavagupta (Sanskrit: अभिनवगुप्त) (c. 950 – 1020 AD was one of India's greatest philosophers, mystics and aestheticians. He was also considered an important musician, poet, dramatist, exegete, theologian, and logician — a polymathic personality who exercised strong influences on Indian culture. Abhinavagupta was strongly influenced by Buddhist logic.

Kapalika Shaivism…..The Kāpālika tradition was a non-Puranic, tantric form of Shaivism in India, whose members wrote the Bhairava Tantras, including the subdivision called the Kaula Tantras. These groups are generally known as Kāpālikas, the "skull-men," so called because, like the Lākula Pāsupata, they carried a skull-topped staff (khatvanga) and cranium begging bowl. Unlike the respectable Brahmin householder of the Shaiva Siddhanta, the Kāpālika ascetic imitated his ferocious deity, and covered himself in the ashes from the cremation ground, and propitated his gods with the impure substances of blood, meat, alcohol, and sexual fluids from intercourse unconstrained by caste restrictions. The Kāpālikas thus flaunted impurity rules and went against Vedic injunctions. The aim was power through evoking deities, especially goddesses….The kapalikas may also have been related to the Kalamukhas ("black faces") of medieval South India (Lorenzen 1972). Moreover, in modern Tamil Nadu, certain Shaivite cults associated with the goddess Angala Parameshwari, Irulappasami, and Sudalai Madan, are known to practice or have practiced ritual cannibalism, and to center their secretive rituals around an object known as a kapparai (Tamil "skull-bowl," derived from the Sanskrit kapala), a votive device garlanded with flowers and sometimes adorned with faces, which is understood to represent the begging-bowl of Shiva (Meyer 1986).

Nyingma-Buddhism….The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is often referred to as Nga'gyur (Tibetan: སྔ་འགྱུར།, Wylie: snga 'gyur, ZYPY: Nga'gyur, school of the ancient translations) or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century…Around 760 AD, King Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava and the Nalanda University abbot Śāntarakṣita (Tibetan Shiwatso) to Tibet to introduce Buddhism in the "Land of Snows."…The Nyingmapa, a Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism, incorporate mysticism and local deities shared by the pre-Buddhist Bon religion, which has shamanic elements. The group particularly believes in hidden terma treasures. Traditionally, Nyingmapa practice was advanced orally among a loose network of lay practitioners. Monasteries with celibate monks and nuns, along with the practice of reincarnated spiritual leaders are later adaptations

Kagyu-Buddhism….The Kagyu, Kagyupa, or Kagyud (Tibetan: བཀའ་བརྒྱུད་པ, Wylie: bka' brgyud pa) school, also known as the "Oral Lineage" or Whispered Transmission school, the Kagyu tradition is classified as one of the "New Transmission" schools (Sarma) as it primarily follows Tantric teachings (Vajrayāna) which were translated into Tibetan during the second diffusion of the Buddha Dharma into Tibet….In Tibetan Buddhism, the Sarma (new translation) schools include the three newer of the four main schools, comprising the following traditions and their sub-branches with their roots in the 11th century….The Dagpo Kagyu and its branches primarily came from the lineage of the Indian siddhas Tilopa and Naropa transmitted in Tibet through Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa and their successors….Tilopa (Prakrit; Sanskrit: Talika or Tilopada) (988–1069)

Gelug-pa Buddhism... (or dGe Lugs Pa, dge-lugs-pa, or Dgelugspa; Mongolian language: Sharyn shashin, Yellow religion), also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader.

"Shambhala Buddhism was introduced by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in the year 2000 to describe his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, originally conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as Secular practices for achieving enlightened society, in concert with the Tibetan Buddhist Kagyu and Nyingma lineages…
"Shambhala Buddhism partly derives from the teachings of Shambhala, as originally proclaimed by Chögyam Trungpa, which state that "there is a natural source of radiance and brilliance in the world, which is the innate wakefulness of human beings. This is the basis, in myth and inspiration, of the Kingdom of Shambhala, an enlightened society of fearlessness, dignity and compassion." Furthermore, Shambhala vision applies to people of any faith, not just people who believe in Buddhism. The Shambhala vision does not distinguish a Buddhist from a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Moslem, a Hindu. That's why we call it the Shambhala kingdom. A kingdom should have lots of spiritual disciplines in it."…After the year 2000, with the merging of the Secular teachings of Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings of Vajradhatu into Shambhala Buddhism, completion of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary (which itself requires taking Buddhist refuge and bodhisattva vows, as well as Buddhist vajrayana samaya vows) became a condition for receiving the highest Shambhala teachings, such as those of Werma and the Scorpion Seal Retreat. In turn, Warrior Assembly became a prerequisite for attending the Vajrayana Seminary."….http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shambhala_Buddhism

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Email....okarresearch@gmail.com

John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2013

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