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Religion #10: Shinto

The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals.

Shinto is not a way of explaining the world. What matters are rituals that enable human beings to communicate with kami.

Kami are not God or gods. They are spirits that are concerned with human beings – they appreciate our interest in them and want us to be happy – and if they are treated properly they will intervene in our lives to bring benefits like health, business success, and good exam results.

Shinto is a very local religion, in which devotees are likely to be concerned with their local shrine rather than the religion as a whole. Many Japanese will have a tiny shrine-altar in their homes.

However, it is also an unofficial national religion with shrines that draw visitors from across the country. Because ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.

The name Shinto comes from Chinese characters for Shen (‘divine being’), and Tao (‘way’) and means ‘Way of the Spirits’.

Shrine visiting and taking part in festivals play a great part in binding local communities together.

Shrine visiting at New Year is the most popular shared national event in Japan.
Because Shinto is focussed on the land of Japan it is clearly an ethnic religion. Therefore Shinto is little interested in missionary work, and rarely practised outside its country of origin.

Shinto sees human beings as basically good and has no concept of original sin, or of humanity as ‘fallen’.

Everything, including the spiritual, is experienced as part of this world.

Shinto has no place for any transcendental other world.

Shinto has no canonical scriptures.

Shinto teaches important ethical principles but has no commandments.

Shinto has no founder.

Shinto has no God.

Shinto does not require adherents to follow it as their only religion.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/ataglance/glance.shtml

Tips On Self-Acceptance

Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and diosraw.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our first topic is focused on « Self Love. » Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!

Together we have struggled with self-acceptance, however we know we are on an eternal journey towards finding our true self; peeling away layers of the onion of self. Self-acceptance comes hand in hand with self-love and here are some tips to help you on your journey towards fully accepting yourself, the beautiful soul that you are.

Self-acceptance is:

-The conscious awareness of your weaknesses and strengths
-Fully accepting who you are without conditions
-The recognition of your talents, capabilities, and worth
-The feeling of satisfaction with your self, regardless of past choices.

Benefits of self-acceptance:

-Positive mood regulation
– A decrease in depressive feelings and the desire to be approved by others, fear of failure, and self-critique
-Positive emotions, sense of freedom, self-worth, autonomy, and self-esteem

Tips:

Speak to your higher self. The inner voice that has compassion, empathy, and love, to others, and to yourself.

Be kind to yourself. Cultivate self-compassion, in not judging yourself, or over-identifying with self-defeating thoughts or behaviour. Make your inner voice your best friend.

Believe in yourself. The path to self-acceptance can be rough, it’s not all sunshine and roses. There will be times that current external circumstances, past experiences, and our programming make it hard or impossible to accept ourselves. Always believe in you!

Forgive yourself. Let go of past regrets and experiences. They are all lessons not mistakes, move on once you have sought the gift from your pain. We do the best with the knowledge we have in a given moment. Forgive yourself.

Celebrate your strengths. And accept your weaknesses or shadow self. Ask yourself some questions. What areas of work do you excel at? What are your unique talents? Making a list of your strengths and past achievements and re-reading them when you are having an off or tough moment is a beautiful way to practise self-acceptance.

Create a network of a support system. Surround yourself with people that accept you how you are, for who you are, have your best interests at heart and believe in you – and avoid those that don’t. Yes, quality and strong relationships are a key to happiness and acceptance of self. You boost eachother.

We’ll leave you with these:

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Accept yourself, love yourself and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” – Roy T. Bennett

Let us know how you are learning to find self-acceptance within yourself below, we hope these tips help.

Religion #8: Bahá’í Faith

“God is transcendent and can’t be known directly. God is known through the lives and teachings of his great prophets, the most recent of whom was Bahá’u’lláh.

All human beings have a soul that lives for ever. All human beings are members of a single race, which should soon be united in a single global community. All human beings are different, but equal; there should be no inequality between races or sexes. All religions have the same spiritual foundation, despite their apparent differences.

Bahá’í religion may be unique in the way that it accepts all other faiths as true and valid. Bahá’ís accept the divine nature of the missions of Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad. They believe each one was a further stage in the revelation of God. Other prophets and Manifestations are also accepted.

Bahá’í beliefs about God
-Bahá’ís believe there is one God and that all the universe and creation belong to him
-God is omnipotent, perfect and has complete knowledge of life
-Bahá’ís believe that there has only ever been one God, who is called by different names in different religions
-God is too great to be ever understood by the finite human mind
-Knowledge of God means knowledge of the attributes of God
-The only thing we can actually know about God is that God exists
-So when we attribute properties to God we are actually making a false analogy based on human ideas – but it’s the best that we can do.

Knowing about God
Since we can’t comprehend God directly, the best way to get an idea of God is by looking at the lives and teachings of his messengers (the Manifestations of God) and at the world God created.

God and other religions
Any description of God is bound to be coloured and limited by the views and cultural background of the person making the description. Bahá’u’lláh thought that this was why different religions had different ideas of God.

It was not that each religion was looking at a different reality called God (whatever that was) – they were all trying to describe the same reality, but their descriptions were built out of their own experiences and cultures, and so were different.

Abdu’l-Bahá put it like this:

“The differences among the religions of the world are due to the varying types of minds.”

Abdu’l-Bahá

Thus for a Bahá’í the different views of God held by different religions are the closest that that particular culture and time can come to an idea of the absolute reality of God, and are helpful to the people of that culture.

But these ideas of God are nothing like the true reality of God, because humans don’t have the mental ability to understand that reality.

Incarnation
Bahá’ís believe that God cannot become incarnate in a human being.

Gender
Bahá’ís do not regard God as having a gender. Although the Bahá’í writings use a masculine pronoun to refer to God, this is to suit the language in which they were originally written.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/beliefs/god.shtml

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-DiosRaw 10/01/21 10:57AM

Merkaba

The word Merkaba is actually composed of three separate words: Mer, which means light, Ka, which means spirit and Ba, which means Body. Put together, these three words connote the union of spirit with the body, surrounded by light. The symbol, which takes the shape of a star, is believed to be a divine vehicle made entirely of light and designed to transport or connect the spirit and body to higher realms. Ancient Jewish texts reveal that the word is also the Hebrew for a chariot, and the Bible reveals that the word Merkaba itself is found in the Old Testament a total of 44 times.

It is said that the symbol is composed of two-star tetrahedrons, which consists of counter-rotating fields of light and energy that surrounds each person. This energy extends beyond the body. Some believe that even planets have this Merkaba energy field around it.

Meditation Uses

Used in meditation, the Merkaba can become a source of power and enlightenment. It can help a person realize his full potential and connect with the goodness in him, as well as the higher being. This field of light, love, and goodwill can also extend to others, thereby enveloping them in the same healing energy. The Merkaba can also be used to transcend to other dimensions and realities.

Source: https://www.ancient-symbols.com/symbols-directory/merkaba.html

Religion #2: Buddhism

“Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. There are 376 million followers worldwide.

Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.

There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.

Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives.

It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.

The history of Buddhism is the story of one man’s spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.

The Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ – a life without luxury but also without poverty.

Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened.

By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or ‘awakened one’.

Schools of Buddhism
There are numerous different schools or sects of Buddhism. The two largest are Theravada Buddhism, which is most popular in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), and Mahayana Buddhism, which is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.

The majority of Buddhist sects do not seek to proselytise (preach and convert), with the notable exception of Nichiren Buddhism.

All schools of Buddhism seek to aid followers on a path of enlightenment.

Key facts
-Buddhism is 2,500 years old
-There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
-There are over 150,000 Buddhists in Britain
-Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama’s quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC
-There is no belief in a personal God. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
-Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent – change is always possible
-The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more
Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
-The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/ataglance/glance.shtml

How To Silence The Inner Critic

Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and diosraw.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our first topic is focused on « Self Love. » Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!

The inner critic is the private conversations you have with yourself which can be either a powerful stepping stone or a major obstacle to reaching your goals.

Here are some tips to aid you in silencing your inner critic:

Stop the comparison between yourself and others. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Try avoiding the desire to scroll endlessly through social media platforms and comparing your life to that of others. Remember, people mostly tend to show and project the positive images of their lives – you never really know how people are really feeling behind the facade. We all have issues, don’t worry.

● Stop ruminating. When you make a mistake or you’ve had a rough day, you may be tempted to re-play like a movie the events over and over in your head. But, repeatedly reminding yourself of that questionable thing you said will only contribute to you feeling worse and it won’t solve the problem. Clear your mind with meditation and drop it.

Develop conscious awareness of your thoughts. Pay attention to what you’re thinking or ruminating about and realize that just because you think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true at all. Our thoughts are often over exaggerated and biased. Be aware of your own mind’s contents.

Be your own best friend. You’d probably offer a friend compassionate words of encouragement like, “You made a mistake but it’s not the end of the world.” Treat yourself equally as kind as you’d treat a friend and apply those words of encouragement to your life.

Practice Self-compassion. Life is not perfect and nor are we. Just accept that. Growing into that mindset you can then begin to embrace your quirks, move past self-judgment, and let go of your self-critic. You are beautiful just as you are.

Start a daily self-gratitude journaling habit. Write in your journal five things you are grateful for each day and remember the blessings in your life. Focus on what you want in your life.

We’ll l leave you for now with these to ponder:

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”—Dalai Lama

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare

We hope this helps sooth your mind and adds some tools into your tool kit for silencing your inner critic and making room for self-love. Let us know how you silence your inner critic below!

Civilisations #22: The Gupta Empire

“The Gupta Empire, founded by Maharaja Sri Gupta, was an ancient Indian realm that covered much of the Indian Subcontinent from approximately 320-550 CE. Gupta rule, while solidified by territorial expansion through war, began a period of peace and prosperity marked by advancements in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectics, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion, and philosophy.

Gupta Empire Origins
The Gupta Empire was believed to be a dynasty of the Vaishya caste, the third of the four Hindu castes representing merchants and farmers. Founded by Sri Gupta c. 240-280 CE, there are contradictory theories regarding the original homeland of the Guptas. Historians believe Sri Gupta and his son may have been Kushan vassals, or rulers who swore allegiance to the Kushan Empire. Sri Gupta’s son and successor, Ghatotkacha, ruled from c. 280-319 CE, while his son, Chandragupta, ascended the throne around 319 and ruled until 335 CE.

Chandragupta married princess Kumaradevi from the Kingdom of Magadha, which was one of the Mahajanapadas (or great countries) of ancient India during the 4th century CE. With a dowry and political alliance from the marriage, Chandragupta conquered or assimilated the kingdoms of Magadha, Prayaga, and Saketa. By 321 CE, he established a realm stretching along the Ganges River to Prayag, the modern-day city of Allahabad, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Hindus believe the god Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world at Prayag.

Gupta Empire Expansion
Samudragupta succeeded his father, Chandragupta I, in 335 CE, and ruled for about 45 years. He conquered the kingdoms of Ahichchhatra and Padmavati early in his reign, then attacked neighboring tribes, including the Malwas, Yaudheyas, Arjunayanas, Maduras, and Abhiras. By his death in 380 CE, Samudragupta had incorporated over 20 kingdoms into his realm, and extended the Gupta Empire from the Himalayas to the Narmada River in central India, and from the Brahmaputra River that cuts through four modern Asian nations to the Yamuna— the longest tributary of the Ganges River in northern India.

To celebrate his conquest, Samudragupta performed the royal Vedic ritual of Ashwamedha, or horse sacrifice. Special coins were minted to commemorate the Ashvamedha, and the king took the title of Maharajadhiraja (or “King of Kings”) even higher than the traditional ruler’s title of Maharaja.

According to the Gupta records, Samudragupta nominated his son, Prince Chandragupta II, born of Queen Dattadevi, as his successor. However, his eldest son, Ramagupta, may have been his immediate successor until he was dethroned by Chandragupta II in 380 CE.

Gupta Empire Of Chandragupta II
After gaining power, Chandragupta II expanded the Gupta Empire through conquest and political marriages until the end of his reign in 413 CE. By 395 CE, his control over India extended coast to-coast. At the high point of his rule, Chandragupta II established a second capital at Ujjain, the largest city in the modern state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Ujjain, on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River, remained an important political, commercial, and cultural hub through the early 19th century.

Vikramaditya is the name of an emperor of ancient Indian legend, characterized as the ideal king known for generosity, courage, and as a patron of scholars. A number of historians believe that some of these legends are based on Chandragupta II, who is thought to have adopted the title of Vikramaditya.

In the legends, Vikramaditya is said to have thwarted an invasion by the Saka, a group of eastern Iranian nomadic tribes, also known as Scythians, and gained the title of Sakari, or Enemy of the Saka. Chandragupta II conquered the western Indian region of Malwa after defeating the Western Kshatrapas, a branch of the Sakas, as well as expelling the Kushana Empire from the northern Indian city state Mathura. These victories were likely transposed onto the legendary character of Vikramaditya.

Chandragupta II issued gold coin types introduced by his father, Samudragupta, but also introduced several new types of coins, differentiated by the designs on the face of each coin line, such as the Archer or the Tiger-Slayer. He was also the first Gupta king to issue silver coins.

One of the most curious structures in Delhi, India (an iron pillar dating back to the 4th century CE) bears an inscription stating that it was erected as a flagstaff in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu, and in memory of Chandragupta II. The pillar, made of 98% wrought iron, is considered a highlight of ancient Indian achievements in metallurgy; it has stood more than 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing.

Despite the expansion of the Gupta Empire through war, there were numerous examples of cultural sophistication during the Gupta era, with architecture, sculptures and paintings surviving as reminders of the creativity of the time. Under Gupta rule, a number of notable scholars thrived, including Kalidasa, considered the greatest poet and dramatist of the Sanskrit language; Aryabhata, the first of the Indian mathematician-astronomers who worked on the approximation for Pi; Vishnu Sharma, thought to be the author of the Panchatantra fables, one of the most widely-translated, non-religious books in history; and the Hindu philosopher Vatsyayana, author of the Kama Sutra.

The period of Gupta rule, especially the reign of Chandragupta II, is still remembered as the Golden Age of India.”

Source: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldcivilization/chapter/rise-of-the-gupta-empire/

Is Self-Love Being Selfish? Part 1

Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and diosraw.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our first topic is focused on « Self Love. » Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!

This post is dedicated for people who are on a self love journey or who want to begin a self love journey. I know maybe you already have begun because you are reading this post on self love.

So many people are afraid of doing things for themselves or even worse afraid of thinking for themselves because they are worried that people will think they are selfish. I have been there at times and I have put my needs last so that I can please or help others and it didn’t work out. That’s not self love. So let’s look at what is self love and what self love is not.

What is Self Love?

● Self love is the understanding that you don’t have to be perfect and that you are already worthy of love. We are all part of existence and so self love is knowing that you have permission to exist because you are a human being.
There is nothing that you have to prove to anyone that you are worthy, valuable or lovable. You don’t have to be thinner, smarter, more funny, more loving etc. Self love is knowing that you don’t have to be different from the self you already are.

● You will never get wholeness from outside sources because it is a false sense of self. You will never be fulfilled by those things because you should know you are acceptable as you are right now.

● Knowing this changes everything when you finally understand the concept of your higher self, loving that higher self. There is no conditional love for yourself. When you give yourself conditional love, you will also possibly love others in the same way. For example you may say that you will start loving yourself when you lose weight. Many of us have been there. That is incorrect.

Selfish vs. Selfless

● Self love is being selfless because you are giving yourself unconditional love. A selfish person will love you with conditions. For example, when someone says “I will only love you if…..”. A selfish person also thinks that when they give love, they should receive the same love back or even more. When a selfless person loves and gives, they know it’s not about receiving anything in return.

● Selfish people judge and criticise instead of supporting you in the state in which you are in right now. If your partner told you that you are selfish for doing some self care then they are selfish. Why would anyone want to stop someone from recharging, de-stressing and loving yourself.

● Selfish people don’t care about what other people feel or think. Selfish people give to get love which is false love set on conditions, attachments or obsessions. So a lot of people are in relationships based on attachments or obsessions. This is false love. We can do that to ourselves too when we are obsessed about our appearance, objectifying ourselves. That is not giving ourselves unconditional love.

How to find a balance then?

Set Healthy Boundaries. Boundaries are not selfish. A lot of people are afraid to set boundaries because they might view themselves as mean or drawing up this huge wall. Setting up healthy boundaries actually helps you to grow in a relationship with the person, helps you to communicate about how you feel. Protect yourself by setting boundaries.