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Welcome to the EverLife Archives.

The long scrolls of history recorded far-sighted concepts imparted by ancient sages through dreamlike languages. Their words were metaphors. Their stories woven with symbolic images. Their reality was cosmic and surreal. Slowly over time for the sake of reaching more people religious interpretations had become increasingly literal, poetic imagery had been reduced to simple concrete forms, and doctrines devolved away from originally intended meanings. Here in the archives revisit the wisdom of the ages before religions drew lines in the sand...see their similarities and differences through the light of ancient debates on the scope and nature of existence, the origin and essence of mortality, and the sovereign role of immortal gods. Open one of the vaults and step into the past. Pick out a file, blow the dust away and delve into its documents to uncover a rich texture of intuitive visions and forgotten revelations.

 

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ARCHIVAL VAULTS:

Select a vault, check contents list, explore its files and read relevant documents.

Vault I: Ancient Mystics: Exploring Nature, Discovering the Cosmos

Vault II: The Journey of Buddhism

Vault III: Early Beliefs: Systems and Order

Vault IV: The Rise of Populist Salvation

 

 

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Vault I: Ancient Mystics: Exploring Nature, Discovering the Cosmos

Contents: Evidence of intuitive languages and cosmic discoveries made in ancient times (B.C.E.).
Discoverers: Various sages who communicated their findings in metaphor.
Languages: Sanskrit, Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek.
Areas: Tigris-Euphrates River Valley (Mesopotamia), Nile River Valley (Egypt/Nubia), Armenia-Mycenia (Greek Mediterranean - Transcaucasus/Caspian Sea region), Jordan River Valley (Near East), Indus Valley (India), Yellow River (China), and various cradles of shamanic practices.
References: Mesopotamian petroglyphs and Egyptian hieroglyphs, Torah (Bible/Old Testament), Egyptian Book of the Dead, Vedas, Buddhist Sutras, Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, Iliad & Odyssey, writings of Socrates and Plato, native artifacts/customs.

 

File # ZA1: Sages of Ancient Ages

Doc #a01: In Search of Truth "Seeing" beyond the boundaries of the sensory-cognitive world ancient sages "learned" of a rich cosmic tapestry of exotic worlds ruled by powerful universal forces. These sages didn't use any invention to discover what was out there and nothing that they discovered could be used in inventing something.

Doc #a02: A Class of Religious Explorers A formidable group of Central Asian clerics explorers of the cosmos, masters of magic and spirits, and sage-poets led the mobile Aryan nation into the Indus Valley.


File # ZB2: Dream Languages
Doc #b03: Visions, Themes and Skeptics Among the sage-prophets of India, a group of skeptics emerged with the view that one of them will scale the summit of ultimate cosmic Wisdom.

Doc #b04: Poetry, Numbers and Symbols Underlying the mythologies of ancient cultures are imaginative stories told with breathtaking poetic license; conveying profound concepts about the inner and outer workings of existence; and, providing in dreamlike visions the underpinnings of a dynamic cosmic architecture that made equal use of the absolute and the changing. Works of this sort emerged from Sumer, Egypt, Israel, Greece and India. In time their originators disappeared but the impact of the stories remain their meanings explored with passionate fervor up through the present time.


File # ZC3: Intersections in Time

Doc #c05: Comparative Timeline of World Religions [Chart]

Doc #c06: Common Metaphors, Different Doctrines [Glossary]

 

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Vault II: The Journey of Buddhism

Contents: Documentary evidence of Buddhist history.
Writers: Monk-scholars.
Languages: Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese.
Areas: Asia and the Pacific.
References: Buddhist sutras, biographies, commentaries, diaries and letters.


File # YD1: Time Frames

Doc #d7: Sakyamuni's Travels The historical Buddha claimed to have aspired for enlightenment over the course of countless past lives. Sakyamuni said that he sought guidance from tens of thousands of buddhas and gods across the universe before he accomplished his goal. Having finally attained the state of Perfect Enlightenment, he possessed the ability to see past, present and future without any obstruction. From that vantage he observed that all beings were part of a grand cosmic migration across a vast field of existence that extended across all time and space. His followers wanted to know: Where was everybody going? Why were they on this journey? How far have they come? How far was it to the end?

Doc #d8: Across the Worlds of Transmigration Transmigration is defined as the process of changing places or shifting one's perspective. Buddhism proposed that mortal beings are constantly changing the "place of existence" from which they operate. This idea applies the principle of evolution to time itself. It denotes that each moment transmigrates into another. Hence, each moment represents a new place in some way different from its prior and next moment. Humans experience the passing of time as a result of this phenomenon. It is also at the heart of evolution or devolution. Buddhism also contends that at the moment of death the state of one's being transmigrates [shifts into another state of existence and arises therein]. Accordingly, it is not a soul or a persona that travels to another place. Rather, accrued causes (karma) dictate the specifications of transmigration in its next manifestation.

Doc #d9: Cosmic Time [Past, Present & Future] Sakyamuni called it the triple world a realm that encompassed the past, present and future. From his enlightened vantage he could see (i.e., take into account) the three dimensions at once. Surveying the panorama of the triple world, the Buddha declared that all beings were on an incomprehensible journey that spanned countless mortal lifetimes. His followers wanted to know how this trek began, but he would not acknowledge that there was a beginning at all. Finally, in the Lotus Sutra he traced his existence to a point so far back that time no longer existed.

Doc #d10: Prophesy of Decline and Decay Sakyamuni predicted that Buddhism would undergo significant changes over a period of several thousand years. He foresaw an increasingly disturbing decline in the ability of human beings to deal with the ravages of mortal existence. Eventually, he cautioned, people would suffer more than ever from a profound sense of loss and confusion, unequaled division and destruction, and an epidemic of insidious illnesses, including dysfunction and misperception. Simultaneously, Buddhist wisdom would lose its vital power to aid its believers. It would become distorted and limited in its original liberating power. As Buddhism decays and declines, future human cultures, even if rich in material possessions, would be plagued by spiritual dementia and desperation.

Doc #d10: Transforming the Present into a Glorious Future Sakyamuni predicted the coming of an Age of Decadence (Jpn. Mappo) slated to start 2,000 years after his passing. Presumably this apocalyptic era could last for 10,000 years or more, or until its people see the light and transform their world into a place of pure eternal joy. Presumably, this period of time coincides with the present age. The Buddha, aware of what is to come, purposely left behind the Lotus Sutra [his gift of enlightenment] for the people of our time. Its legacy is a secret vehicle which humans may use to transform their world into a buddha-land (enlightened paradise). The Lotus Sutra's latter-day advocate, Nichiren, crystallized its power in a single phrase, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. He declared that chanting this formula would bring about world peace (Jpn. Kosen-rufu).


File # YE2: Asia's Religion

Doc #e11: Buddhism's Journey Thru Asia [Map]

Doc #e12: India: Visions of Boundless Scope Buddhism was born in India. Follow it from inception to its demise, from its role in reshaping the Brahamanic view of the cosmos to its failure to deal with Hindu nationalism.

Doc #e13: China: Mastering the Ways of Nature Buddhism found an audience in China among a ruling elite who valued the wizardry of its proponents, including their keen powers of prophecy and their supernatural abilities in manipulating Nature. Buddhism's influence grew and expanded among a peasant populace seeking liberation in their next life from the hardships of this one.

Doc #e14: Tibet, Sri Lanka & Thailand: The Art of Worship Mysticism ruled as Buddhism forked into esoteric and populist schools. Large images of the Buddha came to be used in public worship; Sakyamuni was given a divine role as cosmic guide and protector; mantras, mudras and secret rituals came into vogue.

Doc #e15: Japan: Essence In All vs. Nothing But Essence Their traditional beliefs in spirits (Shinto) notwithstanding, the Japanese were attracted by Chinese Buddhist notions that a single essence permeated all that existed. A variety of sects vied for attention each claiming to offer a superior form of cosmic salvation. Political power and natural disasters played a big role in determining the country's religious path.


File # YF3: Teachings and Teachers


Doc #f16: Order of the Buddha's Teachings Most Buddhists follow some part of his teachings, but according to Chinese scholars the Buddha taught a carefully crafted 50-year-long course. Accordingly, the order of the sutras divulged an increasingly sophisticated program of revelation climaxing with the Lotus Sutra.

Doc #f17: Commentaries & Interpretations: Schools of Thought Buddhism is open to interpretation and from its inception had invited analysis and commentary. Doctrinal schisms among monk-scholars led to the development of hundreds of denominations.

Doc #f18: Title and Lineage: Battles Over Authenticity of Teachings Threatened by Taoist criticisms that Buddhism was a contrived religion, Chinese Buddhists were required to establish authenticity by tracing their school of thought's lineage to ancient patriarchs who presumably received the "Truth" from the Buddha himself. Sectarian founders were vested with titles of achievement to give credence to the legitimacy of their teachings.


File # YG4: Nichiren's "Eternal Buddhism"

Doc #g19: Nichiren, Declarer of the Truth of Everlasting Life A biographical examination of the 13th century Japanese monk who championed the Lotus Sutra. He embodied a character in the sutra, Demeanor of Supreme Essence, noble leader of countless Selfless Volunteers (denoting the inherent enlightened identity of all mortals). Nichiren declared that the power of Everlasting Life would transform a decaying world into a paradise on earth by resurrecting the ultimate identity within each person.

Doc #g20: Personal Writings and Scholarly Theses (Gosho) A relatively large body of material written by Nichiren has survived from the 13th century giving modern scholars an unusually direct and intimate insight into the thinking of this ancient sage. Nichiren wrote a prolific amount of personal letters and doctrinal theses addressed to devoted followers, Buddhist monks, political and community leaders. He consistently replied from the self-conceived perspective that he had undertaken the role of a key character in the Lotus Sutra a messianic figure who vowed to be born in a future Age of Decadence and provide its people with the means to actualize the final prophesy of the Lotus Sutra: the accomplishment of universal peace. Nichiren often cited sutra passages in support of his view. Throughout the collection of his writings (Jpn. Gosho) he built a cogent case for his contention that Buddhism must return to the point where Sakyamuni had left it off. In due course, he proclaimed, his undaunted devotion to that cause would be joined by countless others until such future time when large numbers of beings could behold the banner of peace flying over their lands of joy.

Doc #g21: Nichiren Inscribed the Supreme Treasure of Everlasting Life (Gohonzon) The importance of religious iconography in Japanese Buddhism is based on the premise that focusing on an objective representation of one's faith during the practice of prayer facilitated the fusing of that faith with the sacred essence depicted in that icon. The mandala Nichiren had inscribed offered his visual embodiment of the Lotus Sutra's essence. He characterized this icon as a mirror image of the eternal treasure of Perfect Enlightenment that is ensconced deep within every living being. On a short scroll meant for installation in an altar, he described in calligraphic ink the profound vision he had held in his mind. The Lotus Sutra described a lotus-shaped cosmic gathering of all who ever have, are and will exist. While the text of the Lotus Sutra described a monumental tower belonging to a buddha named Abundant Treasures hovering in the air at the center of this assembly, Nichiren regarded this "treasury" as a carefully crafted metaphor for the quintessential expression of Perfect Enlightenment. Therefore, in its place, at the center of his mandala, he inscribed the phrase Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo [I Honor the Perfectly Endowed Reality of Everlasting Life]. While the sutra defined a simultaneously everlasting and transcendent congregation, Nichiren regarded this event as a metaphor for the universal enlightenment inherent in every being. To him the Lotus Sutra's surreal scene described the fully enlightened state of being [the state of Perfect Enlightenment] which both he and Sakyamuni experienced within their life. Nichiren declared that all ordinary human beings could access this omnipresent eternal fiber holding together the cloth of their mortal existence. For Nichiren the "Ceremony in the Air" described in the Lotus Sutra constituted an obtuse representation embedded in the text for future revelation. It described the quintessential moment the nexus [middle path] between immortality and mortality, a point of critical mass when all of existence is poised to arise, all potentials are seeded into the folds of time, and, all who finally rediscover the realm of eternal fulfillment find that they have returned to their place of origin.

 

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Vault III: Early Beliefs: Systems and Order

Contents: Evidence of major themes in the formation of belief systems.
Conceptualists: Various sages and religious founders.
Languages: Sanskrit, Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Mayan.
Areas: Africa, Europe, Americas, Asia.
References: Mythologies, histories, artifacts, Bible, Buddhist sutras and commentaries, Platonic ontology.

File # XH1: Bones of Contention

Doc #h21: Creation Stories In ancient times there are several creation scenarios. Both Egyptian and Indic creation stories begin with a world that is covered in water. The first living thing to appear above the surface is a lotus.

Doc #h22: Monotheism vs. Polytheism In the view of prehistoric shamans, spirits lived inside of living things. Good spirits represented cosmic forces willing to ensure the sustenance of human existence, while evil spirits would cause death and ruin. With the inception of early civilizations came the first institutional religions. They defined a higher level of cosmic will the gods. The gods represented forces more powerful than Nature's spirits. Just as the spirits needed to be appeased in tribal cultures, powerful sages now proclaimed that the gods had to be convinced of man's worthiness. This led to the conception of a polytheistic hierarchy and the creation of stone icons to be used for worship and sacrifice. The idea that a single God ruled over all other gods appeared in Egyptian and Greek theologies. The Canaanites posited that no other god existed but one. While Buddhism inherited the Indic-Brahmanic pantheon, Sakyamuni claimed that all the gods were mortal moreover, no one being or entity of any kind was immortal. As the entire universe was impermanent (i.e., mortal), he asserted, so are the gods (i.e., its universal forces). Although, he added, compared to a human being the lifespan of a "god" may be as long as an eon (i.e., the lifespan of one universe). Moreover, he contended, gods do not exist in a separate realm. Rather, they functioned within one indivisible, multifaceted and boundless reality, which included mortality. Throughout his discourse he refused to discuss the issue of immortality, although he was repeatedly asked about it. Eventually, in the Lotus Sutra, he revealed that all the buddhas throughout the universe shared a single Perfect Enlightenment. Accordingly, the Perfect Enlightenment of all buddhas was the Perfectly Endowed Reality Everlasting Life.

Doc #h23: Judgment vs. Will Do forces beyond one's ability to discern control destiny? If so, are the circumstances of existence the product of a god's will or is it human will that determines outcome? What or who determines the circumstances of one's birth? Do human acts and experiences constitute random events or are they guided by unseen rules of order? Does judgment happen after death or is it something that happens all the time?

Doc #h24: Soul vs. Singularity What is it that resides at the core of existence? Is there a soul or a self that continues after death? Are there two separate realms: one for immortal gods/God and another for mortal beings? Where do people go when they die? Do believers in a religion really go to a better place than non-believers?

Doc #h25: Resurrection and Immortality The themes of resurrection and immortality appear at the very beginning of human religion. Egyptians believed that the sun was resurrected each morning as it arose from the underworld. They also believed that mummification would allow the dead to live again in the realm of the gods. While the doctrines of religion changed over time, the issues of immortality and resurrection continued to be addressed. Sakyamuni finally provided his views on the subject in the Lotus Sutra.


File # XI1: Cosmic Order

Doc #i26: The Imperial Model: From Gods to Buddhas In Greek mythology, it was Zeus, king of the gods. To the Egyptians and Chinese their pharaohs and emperors, respectively, were gods sent to rule the world. When Siddhartha Gautama, crown prince of the Sakya clan, embarked on his search for the meaning of life he abdicated his right to the throne. This biographical feature revealed that Buddhism at its inception rejected the notion of an imperial cosmic-sovereign. The Buddha represented a new paradigm for the sovereignty of existence. As a sage who had rejected the trappings of power, he reflected the idea that compassion and wisdom reigned over life.

Doc #i27: To the Rescue of Man: Angels and Bodhisattvas The role of angels in Western religions is similar to the role of celestial bodhisattvas in Buddhism. Is there a connection between these two?

Doc #i28: Stairways to Heaven: Common Premise of the Babylonian Ziggurat, Egyptian Mastaba-pyramid, Indic Stupa, Chinese Pagoda and Mayan Step-pyramid Early cultures buried their dead under mounds. In time, these grew into higher and higher mortuaries. Why did ancient cultures build these reliquary structures? Were they meant only to provide protection from defilement? Were they supposed to lead the dead into the beyond? Did the position of stars have anything to do with them? One such mysterious structure is described in the Lotus Sutra. It is a miles-high monolith that appears to be hovering high in the sky. Is there a connection between this Tower of Abundant Treasures and other stairways to heaven?

 

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Vault IV: The Rise of Populist Salvation

Contents: Doctrines exchanged across East-West cultures.
Communicators: Sakyamuni, Zoroaster, Jesus, Gospels, Asoka, Kumarajiva, Nagarjuna, Tian-tai, Mohammed, Buddhist missionaries, storytellers-wanderers, traders.
Languages: Sanskrit, Pali, Hebrew, Aramaic, Hindi, Latin, Greek, Persian.
Areas: Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Babylonia (Persia), Kashmir, Jerusalem, India, China.
References: Lotus Sutra, Mahayana sutras, Mahabarata, Zend-Avesta, Greek and Roman Mythologies, Bible (New Testament).

 

File # WJ1: The Old Silk Road

Doc #j31: Kashmir: Crossroads of Religion From the 2nd century B.C.E. onward the Old Silk Road permitted travel from China to Greece. By the 2nd century C.E., the city of Kashmir became its central Asian hub. At this strategic location nearly every religion in the world had its representatives. Scholars belonging to various schools for Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Taoists often debated and shared their stories and doctrines. From these crossroads, new religious ideas found their way to new locations. One such sage-teacher provided a student of his, Kumarajiva, with a copy of the Lotus Sutra. The student eventually brought it to China and translated it into Chinese. No original copies exist today in its native Sanskrit and Pali languages.

Doc #j32: Crossover Mythologies In ancient times sages spoke languages steeped in symbolic and metaphoric terminology. Symbols, such as the Tree, the Wheel, and the Lion, among others, were used to convey profound concepts through mythic stories. Although speaking different languages, various cultures made use of common symbols and mythologies to convey their views on similar subjects. For example, the notion that a final battle will take place at a future date between the cosmic forces of Light & Darkness is found across cultures and religions. Originally conceived as a battle between Wisdom and Ignorance, latter-day scatological religions prophesied an apocalyptic fight between Good and Evil. The idea of supernatural power belonging to sage men produced such metaphoric notions as immaculate birth and walking on water (Hindu Mahabarata and Christian Bible), while in Buddhism's Lotus Sutra the Buddha walked across the air. Are these events to be understood in a literal sense, or were surreal and mythic dream languages used by the ancients to "hide" profound and sophisticated meanings?

Doc #j33: Salvation For All: A Global Wave of Populist Reform In early civilization religion was the province of a religious caste shamans and sages specializing in uncovering the greater Truth of existence and reaching the gods. Ordinary people benefited only by offering sacrifice and behaving as the gods willed, but could not hope to reach the sacred realms of the gods as did their religious and secular leaders. Eventually, the populace demanded that religion become relevant to their future existence whether that constituted an afterlife or rebirth. From the 6th century B.C.E. when Buddhism appeared to the 6th century C.E. when Islam arrived on the scene, religions underwent major reformation. During this period Judaism was followed by Christianity and Islam. Brahmanism was turned into Hinduism and Hinduism chased Buddhism out of India.


File # WK2: Lotus Sutra Themes Appear in Early Christian Writings

Doc #k34: Father, Son and Holy Ghost The Buddha described his most distant past life as the sixteenth son of an ancient buddha. When the time came for him to reveal the "true nature" of his buddha-body he was invited to appear alongside a ghostly apparition of an extinct buddha named Abundant Treasures. This buddha's body was depicted in that ethereal way, because he represented the intangible "body" of transmigration, karma and wisdom. Next, as the Buddha revealed that his life had been enlightened since the eternal past, the sutra recounted a parable in which the now Eternal Buddha was described as the father of all beings. All three identities (father, son and holy ghost), appeared together in Buddhist text for the first and only time in the Lotus Sutra.

Doc #k35: Resurrection While Mediterranean mythologies regarded resurrection in terms of the postmortem reanimation of one specially regarded being (i.e., emperor or sage), in the Lotus Sutra countless numbers of beings were resurrected from below the ground. They arose through the earth and then walked across the air to honor the Buddha and accept from him the mission to be reborn at a designated time in the future of humankind. According to the Buddha, the resurrected ones were eternally-enlightened Selfless Volunteers. As they would reappear for humanity's sake, they represented the enlightened eternal-identities seeded below the cognitive surface of all humans ever born.

Doc #k36: Prodigal Son A parable in the Lotus Sutra about a poor runaway son and his compassionate and rich father may have predated the Christian version, much as the Bible story of Noah appears to have been adapted from the earlier Sumerian legend of Gilgamesh.

Doc #k37: Sermon at the Mount The Buddha chose high places to speak from. Was it because his audience was so large that the stage must be visible from afar, or was it the proximity to the sky that was the crucial factor in choosing that vantage? The sermon known as the Lotus Sutra was held at Mount Vulture Peak in India, perhaps to denote that herewith the Buddha would reveal his quintessential view on life and death. After this sermon accorded humans the opportunity to access the eternal core within them, the Buddha added that tapping this core would cure them of their ills no matter their cause. He declared that its power to do so existed across lifetimes.

Doc #k38: The Practice of Healing In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha was characterized as a physician who offered his demented children a powerful antidote referring to the healing powers inherent in this sutra meant to deliver them from confusion and pain . Herein, he was shown to provide ordinary folk with a way to end the sufferings of physical illness, emotional anguish and mental distress. Yet, in this tale the Buddha avoided direct contact when curing his followers (he had gone to another land). Instread, he leaves behind the medicine (this sutra) with which they may (perhaps out of sheer desperation) cure themselves. Henceforth, he announced, anyone who embraced this sutra wholeheartedly will transform his six senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, hearing and thought) until they become perfectly healthy (enlightened).

Doc #k39: Divine Grace According to Christian writings God gave believers an unearned gift the gift of salvation. An earlier version of this theme can be found in the Lotus Sutra (5th century B.C.E.). Prior to this sutra the Buddha had declared that it was impossible to attain Perfect Enlightenment (buddhahood), as only one who was already a buddha could fathom buddhahood. This Paradox of Attainment was shattered when in the Lotus Sutra he predicted that its entire audience was destined for buddhahood. His followers rejoiced and praised the Buddha for endowing them with a gift they never imagined would be theirs. The sutra added that the gift of Perfect Enlightenment (i.e., Everlasting Life) had been given to all mortal beings before they were born. This doctrine of Universal Grace was illustrated in a parable about a poor man who drank too much and fell asleep in a wealthy man's house. As the prosperous one had to leave for a distant land, he affixed a jewel inside his sleeping guest's coat. When the guest awakened, he continued on his way unaware of the gem he possessed. He traveled far and wide for a long, long time. Everywhere he encountered difficulties and was forced into hard labor just to survive. Eventually, the two men encountered each other again. The rich one (i.e., Buddha) informed the poor one (i.e., mortal being) that all the while he possessed beneath his garments a precious gift worth untold fortune.

 

 

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