Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Famous Synagogues

In Israel and regions of the Jewish diaspora archaeologists have uncovered many ruins of synagogues from thousands of years ago. The small ruined synagogue at Masada is one of the most well-documented; it dates from the time of the Second Temple. Synagogues have also been discovered in Egypt and on the island of Delos which predate the synagogue at Masada.
The Dura-Europos synagogue (in today's Syria) is considered to be the world's oldest preserved Jewish synagogue.

The oldest active synagogue in Europe is the Alteneushul (Old-New Synagogue) in Prague, Czech Republic, which dates from the 13th century. During Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938, the Nazis in Germany and Austria destroyed or significantly damaged 1,574 synagogues, which included many of the greatest synagogues of Europe. Many were also destroyed or fell into disrepair during the Nazis' conquest of Europe, during which many Jewish communities were wiped out.

The Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was the main synagogue in the holiest Jewish city from the 16th century to 1948 when it was destroyed by the Arab Legion. The Hurva is currently undergoing reconstruction that, according to architect Nahum Meltzer's plans, should see the building restored to its previous glory. The Ramban Synagogue, founded by Nahmanides in 1267, is the oldest active synagogue in the Old City. See also Synagogues in Jerusalem.

intention statement

I have had doors opening all over the place in my life since I wrote this intention statement.
Below is my intention statement. I am sharing it in hopes that it may be of benefit to others.
I now live a balanced life, full of love, abundance, and miracles, that is flowing and smooth.
I am centered and full of energy and love.
I radiate pure love to everyone around me and it is contagious.
My presence on this planet will positively impact the lives of billions of people.
I now have positive loving relationships with everyone I see and meet.
My very presence shifts people's energy into a positive state.
I attract people into my life that can help me achieve more love, peace, and abundance and for whom I can reciprocate the same.
I am healthy, in great physical shape, and beautiful inside and out.
I am in constant connection with God and I experience almost constant cosmic inner giggles at all the amazing miracles I am experiencing everyday.
I am filled with overflowing gratitude for all the abundance and miracles in my life.
Everything I need comes into my life automatically, without effort.

Southern Buddhism

TheravadaIn addition to the Edicts of Aśoka, Buddhist annals compiled at a later date offer a history of the Aśokan and post-Aśokan period. Among these annals are the Dīpavaṃsa, the Mahāvaṃsa, and the Samantapāsādika of the south Indian Vibhajjavāda (Sanskrit: Vibhajyavāda) saṅgha, beside the Divyāvadāna and the Avadānaśataka from the northern Sarvāstivāda (Pāli: Sabbatthivāda) saṅgha. According to the accounts of the Vibhajjavāda, Aśoka convened a third Buddhist council (c. 250 BCE), whose purpose was to produce a definitive text of the Buddha's words. [citation needed] According to the Theravada account, given in the Dipavamsa and elsewhere, Asoka called this council to sort out doctrinal disputes within the sangha, which these sources say were caused by the infiltration of the sangha by non-buddhists, apparently not actually ordained.

The account goes on to say that the council approved the Kathavatthu, compiled by its president Moggaliputta Tissa, as part of the scriptures. As this text consists of doctrinal debates, apparently with other schools, the account seems to imply the other schools were not proper Buddhists or proper monks. The council also saw the formation of the saṅgha of the Vibhajjavāda ("school of analytical discourse") out of various schools of the Sthaviravāda lineage. [citation needed] Vibhajjavādins claim that the first step to insight has to be achieved by the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. [14] This school gradually declined on the Indian subcontinent, but its branch in Sri Lanka and South East Asia continues to survive; this branch of the school is now known as Theravada. The Theravāda school claims that the Sarvāstivada and the Dharmaguptaka schools were rejected by the council, although according to other sources the Dharmaguptaka school is classified as one of the Vibhajyavādin schools. However, these schools became influential in northwestern India and Central Asia and, since their teaching is found among the scriptures preserved by the Mahāyāna schools, they may have had some formative influence on the Mahāyāna.

The Sarvāstivadins have not preserved an independent tradition about the Third Council. it has been argued by some scholars that the council was part of a series of debates and/or disputes resulting in the formation of three main doctrinal schools, Vibhajjavada, Sarvastivada, and Puggalavada, which later were subject to further subdivisions. One such subdivision of the Vibhajjavada was established in Ceylon, and in course of time came to resume the name Theravada (given above in its Sanskrit form Sthaviravada). Its scriptures, the Pali Canon, were written down there in the last century BCE, at what the Theravada usually reckons as the fourth council.It was long believed in Theravāda tradition that the Pāli language is equivalent to Māgadhī, the eastern dialect of the kingdom of Magadha spoken by the Buddha. However, linguistic comparisons of the Edicts of Aśoka and the language of the Pāli canon show strong differences between the Māgadhī of the Edicts (characterized by such changes as r → l, masculine nominative singular of a-stems in -e, etc.) and Pāli.

The greatest similarity to Pāli is found in a dialectal variant of the Edicts written on a rock near Girnar in Gujarat.Theravāda is Pāli for "the Doctrine of the Elders" or "the Ancient Doctrine". Theravāda teaches one to encourage wholesome states of mind, avoid unwholesome states of mind, and to train the mind in meditation. The aim of practice, according to Theravāda Buddhism, is the attainment of freedom from suffering, which is linked with Nirvana, the highest spiritual goal. Theravāda teaches that the experience of suffering is caused by mental defilements like greed, aversion and delusion, while freedom can be attained though putting into practice teachings like the Four Noble Truths and especially the fourth one, the Noble Eightfold Path.The Theravāda school bases its practice and doctrine exclusively on the Pāli Canon and its commentaries. The Sutta collections and Vinaya texts of the Pāli Canon (and the corresponding texts in other versions of the Tripitaka), are generally considered by modern scholars to be the earliest Buddhist literature, and they are accepted as authentic in every branch of Buddhism.Theravāda is the only surviving representative of the historical early Buddhist schools. Theravāda is primarily practiced today in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia as well as small portions of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has a growing presence in Europe and America.

Spiritual Thoughts

Spiritual Substance, the Fundamental Basis of the Universe DIVINE MIND is the one and only reality. When we incorporate the ideas that form this Mind into our mind and persevere in those ideas, a mighty strength wells up within us. Then we have a foundation for the spiritual body, the body not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. When the spiritual body is established in consciousness, its strength and power is transmitted to the visible body and to all the things that we touch in the world about us.

Spiritual Consciousness Spiritual approaches to consciousness involve the idea of altered states of consciousness or religious experience. Changes in the state of consciousness or a religious experience can occur spontaneously or as a result of religious observance. It is also maintained by some religions and religious factions that the universe itself is consciousness.

Functions of consciousness We generally agree that our fellow human beings are conscious, and that much simpler life forms, such as bacteria, are not. Many of us attribute consciousness to higher-order animals such as dolphins and primates; academic research is investigating the extent to which animals are conscious. This suggests the hypothesis that consciousness has co-evolved with life, which would require it to have some sort of added value, especially survival value.

Surrounded by Signs and Landmarks

By: Donna Doyon
Take a right. Bear left. Turn left. Straight. Left. Right. Left into the parking lot. I drive to the grocery store without even thinking about it. There are many places I drive to each day or week without giving it a second thought. Sometimes I don't even give it a first thought! But when someone asks me for directions, I have to stop and think. How do I get to the grocery store, my hair salon, or a Toastmasters meeting? What signs and landmarks should someone be looking for if they want to travel to those destinations? When someone asks me for directions I realize how many signs and landmarks are available to guide me. Last summer I was meeting a friend at a nearby bank. Although she was familiar with the road it was on, she didn’t remember seeing this particular bank branch before. So I told her it was located between the Friendly’s and Wendy’s restaurants. She didn’t know where either of these were! I was shocked. I couldn’t think of any other landmarks so I told her to look for the restaurants and she’d find the bank, or find the bank and she’d also find the restaurants. This example reminds me that not everyone sees the same things as they travel down life’s roadways. Some people see the restaurants, others the car dealerships, and still others the public buildings. But just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Over the past year I have been contemplating the direction I want my life to travel. While my husband and children will forever be a top priority, I feel a restlessness to do something more—something that fulfills a higher calling from my Creator. But I worry that a new direction might upset the balance of my family and my life. I worry that I may be making a mistake. I worry that I may go in the wrong direction. Yet, all my worry does is remind me that I am suffering from an extreme breakdown in faith. After all, if I am searching for the path my Creator has mapped out for me, why should I worry that He’d lead me away from the things He indicates are important? If He is leading me, why should I worry that I am lost when surely He placed signs and landmarks along the path to show me the way? It is only when I quiet my thoughts and open my heart and mind that I notice the signs and landmarks that appear before me: offhand comments, invitations, new friends. As I begin to look at the world around me, this same world I’ve been living in for so many years, I suddenly see things I’d never noticed in the past: opportunities, relationships, achievements. But just like that bank, these opportunities haven’t gone out of business or moved to a new location.

The signs are there, the doors are open and I must decide if I am ready to become a customer. The choice is always mine. If, like me, you are looking for signs to indicate the direction your life should take, if you are feeling a bit unsettled or too settled into your daily routine, or you want to try something new, exciting, or fulfilling I encourage you to start paying attention to the signs and landmarks you encounter everyday as you travel through life. These signs can tell you where you are, where you are headed, and if you look back, they can even tell you where you’ve been. Then you can decide whether you need to change lanes and head in a new direction or turn into an unfamiliar parking lot. If, like me, you aren’t quite sure what direction you should go in take time to ask for directions. For me, prayerful reflection helps me keep the fears, worry, and lack of faith to a minimum. If you don’t know how to get started or what the next step is, ask for directions or look for signs and landmarks. Signs and landmarks will tell you when you need to change directions or take an exit, when you are nearing your destination, and can even indicate if you are going in the wrong direction. But you need to keep your eyes open and your mind focused. You need to pay attention to the signs and landmarks along your journey.

About The AuthorDonna Doyon helps entrepreneurial-wannabes and starting-to-bes say “goodbye” to self-defeating attitudes and behaviors and “Hello!” to greater success, healthier relationships, and more balanced living. Visit her web site at if you want to move forward with your entrepreneurial vision.

Adversity Prescription...Inhale Faith Regularly

By: Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D. Being a social scientist, I have been trained to find comfort in numbers, although I am equally dependent upon faith. In research, if we set a certain standard and can measure whether an idea or a result exists, then we have a construct for at least a theory. In fact, we just might have the basis for a belief. Just last week, I gained further insight on this concept, when I took both my sons out to dinner at our favorite local sushi restaurant. At thirteen and eleven years of age, I was amazed at their worldview, probably as a result of some coursework they’ve been exposed to on the subject of world religions. Jason, a critical thinker at thirteen, told me that society feels the need to construct belief systems – and there is not necessarily any proof behind such beliefs. He argued that humans have a natural need to do this in order to explain what cannot be explained. Without proof, he said, why should he subscribe to anything he can’t see, especially God? I was further alarmed when Vaughn chimed in, putting in his two cents about why he’s just not sure there is a God, Goddess, or a higher power for that matter. I have never forced them to believe anything because beliefs are something we construct as a result of our own life experiences. Their life experience will be totally different than mine. Although I can offer a foundation and continually teach them how spirit infiltrates our every move, I can’t fill in the blanks for them.

That, they must do on their own. Not to be rattled off my wise, mother-track, I realized the boys are just beginning to question the world at large. They also have a limited view because they have experienced minimal adversity, failure, loss and grief in life – some, but not enough to know how important it is to believe there is a reason for it. By the time we are 40, our adversity resumé is quite long – we’ve got a vast inventory under our belts in multiple categories. We need to believe and depend upon reasons we can’t fully explain – life seems to lead us that way in order to cope.

As we continued to have a spontaneous discussion about belief systems, I realized that, at their tender ages, they have already been indoctrinated into the comfort level a Cartesian viewpoint provides – if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. How did this happen, I wondered? Do our children have so much difficulty in believing and having faith because somehow physical evidence must confirm the constructs of parental belief systems? Or do they simply feel unblemished by life’s circumstances and secure enough not to feel the need to rely on faith? I spent the rest of my wakame salad and miso soup time explaining that just because we don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. We know love exists, even though we cannot see it. What would the world be like without love? Well then, they replied, then let’s conduct some focus groups and find out what percentage of people believe in love and see if it’s statistically significant.

Finding love, or proving the existence of love, by taking a poll first? We’ve done a very good job, I silently thought, of indoctrinating our kids into a world replete with an over-estimated value of proof. Overall, I think we need a little less science and a lot more faith, especially when it comes to the subject of life’s adversity. Granted, faith sometimes does not give us the level of certainty we want to accept bad circumstances. It’d be awfully nice if we’d get a progress report at the day’s end that explained just what the heck was going on. Some days we get an unusually large dose of the nasties. But the last I checked, nobody was getting any statistical feedback in terms our soul journey g.p.a. Our scores, in terms of our progress, are greatly determined by our own self-evaluations. The ‘knowing why’ of life’s circumstances can’t necessarily be part of the formula because if we knew everything, the reason for everything, there would be no point in the dance. We all agree - there doesn’t seem to be any consolation in not knowing. And as a researcher, it does go against my nature to come up empty handed in the knowing category - not knowing, after a really good analysis, just doesn’t seem acceptable.

Seems like we missed something along the way or left our part of the equation. Is it a lack of insight? It’s because we don’t always cast our net wide enough about our spiritual development. Perhaps we evolve into faith because we can’t make meaning without it after enough living has gone by. Proof soothes mainly because most of us are limited to our five senses –which serve as our conceptual parameters. Although some are gifted to extend past those limitations in distant realms, or have had extraordinary psychic experiences that defy current logic, the rest of us need pure faith to keep us on track. Never diminish the value of faith. You’ll find less energy spent on asking ‘why’ and surrender to the ‘not knowing’ more readily.

Find a way to develop unshakable faith in the Divine – it’s a participative partnership based upon trust you’ll need.
About The AuthorCharlene M. Proctor, Ph.D., author of Let Your Goddess Grow! 7 Spiritual Lessons on Female Power and Positive Thinking and The Women’s Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations that Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential (2005) provides guidance through everyday complexity with female imagery and positive thinking. Focusing on the Divine Self, and setting a mental equivalent to institute positive change on earth, has always provided the infrastructure to Charlene’s work as a researcher and simulation architect. She is deeply committed to helping others along their soul journey. Please visit and register for her many self-help and inspirational programs, which include The Divine Woman, a free monthly newsletter!

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