Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What was God’s country of residence, again?

It’s said that around 100CE a Fourth Buddhist Council was held in Sri Lanka, and that there, then, details about Buddhist religion were first written down (on palm leaves). This seems to have been at least 500 years after Siddharta Gautama became Buddha, or died, even.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “No single version of the life of the Buddha would be accepted by all Buddhist traditions.” It may be debatable whether early Buddhism prohibited depiction of the Buddha in bodily form but allowed representation by certain symbols, but I can remember places of Buddhist worship that did not use effigies.
It also may be debatable whether examination of core concepts of most religions shows them sharing many basic ideas: about floods, war amongst the Gods, religious names, laws, prophets, etc., and whether they all arose in navigable river basins, and when (some say: around the same time that there was a global rise in sea levels, at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 BCE). Maybe remnants of a global culture survived inland along the banks of the world's great rivers, but lost contact with each other and evolved in their own divergent ways, while retaining many core beliefs. Maybe a lot of things, but there’s good reason to question much of the teaching that goes on – and much of what’s accepted as true.
Voltaire, Tom Paine and other people of long ago questioned the “received wisdom” of those born to power, and it’s good to see others still doing so now – though their numbers seem to me distressingly small. I find it hilarious that 100 years ago there were Englishmen claiming 90% of all that can be known already was (and wonder if those making that claim were members of the preposterous “Church of England” – the absurdity of nationalism taken to perhaps its greatest height; I mean really… when I saw signs in northern Myanmar for “Southern Baptist” churches, I thought that quite ridiculous enough, not yet realizing how preposterous that other church title – normal, unquestioned, and long of great power - is).
I just discovered it being convincingly claimed that “Buddhism came of age in India but was born and reared in the chrysalis of Persia. Although persecuted by kings, it once flourished in Iran. That the cultural history of Nepal offers nothing that can be seen as a prelude to Buddhism is not surprising in view of the numerous forgeries that underlie Nepalese archaeology.” That’s from “Indian researcher” Dr. Ranajit Pal (see and for details – I haven’t yet… due to, I expect, the government of the country where I live busily censoring sites – one I’d like to read, but can’t, being on how capitalism has ruined democracy). Pal claims that Buddhism arose, not in North India, but in what’s now Iran, in an area formerly part of India (so called India within Iran). That’s from - “Thai School Daze, The Historical Buddha, an Earth-moving Discovery?” from Sept. 17, 2007.
But one must wonder – even if it’s “no pain, no gain” – can ignorance really be bliss, or worth it? I also just read, from the Net, that “850 million people are hungry in the world, but only about 10 percent receive assistance” and that there is rapidly increasing famine. “In a repeat of a disaster that last struck in 1959,” famine threatens “after millions of rats devastated food crops as the rodents reproduced in dramatic numbers following a flowering of bamboo forests that happens every 50 years.”
Wow. “Here we are, now entertain us.”