Do you really know about buddhism?

Buddhism has gods like polytheistic deism;

“without asserting any deities created the universe”

What are Buddhism’s holy books or writing and some info them?

According to religion facts in buddhism, there are a vast number of Buddhist scriptures and religious texts, which are commonly divided into the categories of canonical and non-canonical. The former, also called the Sutras (Sanskrit) or Suttas (Pali) are believed to be, either literally or metaphorically, the actual words of the buddha. The latter are commentaries on canonical texts, other treatises on the dharma, and collections of quotes, histories, grammars, etc. This categorization is not universal, however: there will always be texts that cross boundaries, or that belong in more than one category. Moreover, zen buddhism rejects scriptures altogether as an ineffective path to enlightenment. The articles below provide overviews of some of the most notable buddhist texts.

Tripitaka (Pali Canon)

The Tripitaka (Tipitaka in Pali) in Theravada buddhism is the earliest collection of buddhist teachings and the only text recognized as canonical by Theravada buddhists. The collection is also referred to as the Pali Canon, after the language in which it was first written. It is a vast collection of writings, comprising up to 50 volumes. Many commentaries have been added over the centuries, however. Tripitaka means “three baskets,” from the way in which it was originally recorded: the text was written on long, narrow leaves, which were sewn at the edges then grouped into bunches and stored in baskets.

Mahayana Sutras

Mahayana buddhism reveres the Tripitaka as a sacred text but adds to it the Sutras, which reflect distinctively Mahayana concepts. Most of the Mahayana Sutras, which number over two thousand, were written between 200 BCE and 200 CE, the period in which Mahayana buddhism developed. Different divisions of Mahayana buddhism emphasize different Sutras, but some texts, like the Lotus Sutra and Heart Sutra, are important to most branches of Mahayana.

Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is the Tibetan text that is most well known to the West. Written by a Tibetan monk, the Book of the Dead describes in detail the stages of death from the Tibetan point of view. It chronicles the experiences and religious opportunities a person encounters at various stages: while dying, at the moment of death, during the 49-day interval between death and rebirth, and at rebirth. Ref

Tibetan Sky Burials

What are sects or denominations of Buddhism and some info them?

There are many subdivisions within Buddhism, but most can be classified into three major branches: Theravada (“Way of the Elders”), Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) and Vajrayana (“Diamond Vehicle”). The Theravada form of Buddhism is dominant in southern Asia, especially in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. For this reason, it is sometimes known as “Southern Buddhism.” Mahayana Buddhism emerged in the first century CE as a more liberal, accessible interpretation of Buddhism. As the “Greater Vehicle” (literally, the “Greater Ox-Cart”), Mahayana is a path available to people from all walks of life – not just monks and ascetics. Mahayana then subdivided into several diverse schools, such as Zen, Pure Land, Tendai, and Nichiren, many of which flourish today in East Asia. Zen/Ch’an Buddhism, “Zen” (Japanese) and “Ch’an” (Chinese) derive from the Sanskrit word Dhyana, meaning “meditation.” Zen rejects the study of scriptures, religious rites, devotional practices, and good works in favor of meditation leading the attaining of enlightenment. Zen Buddhism arrived in Japan as early as the 7th century but did not develop significantly there until the 12th century.

Zen developed in China, influenced by Taoist concepts though is generally attributed to Bodhidharma, a South Indian monk who arrived in China in about 520 CE. Its philosophical background can be found in the Lankavatara Sutra, which was composed in the 4th century or earlier in India. Pure Land Buddhism (also known as Shin Buddhism and Amidism) is based upon the Pure Land sutras that were first brought to China around 150 CE by the monks An Shih Kao and Lokaksema. Japanese Tendai came in the middle of the 8th century and is a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school of Mahayana Buddhism. Tendai Buddhism has several philosophical insights which allow for the reconciliation of Buddhist doctrine with Shinto. Nichiren Buddhism is a form of Japanese Buddhism that emphasizes repeated recitation of the mantra namu myoho renge kyo (“salutation to the Lotus Sutra”) for health, happiness, and enlightenment. The Vajrayana Buddhist tradition is an esoteric sect that is predominant in Tibet and Nepal. Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism (sometimes called Lamaism) is the form of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region beginning in the 7th century CE. RefRefRef

Yes, Karma is the Same Old Nonsense

Why I Don’t Dig Buddhism – Scientific American

How many believers are there in Buddhism?

Hinduism has approximately 488 million followers. Seven-in-ten Buddhists (72%), for example, live as religious minorities. Just three-in-ten (28%) live in the seven countries where Buddhists are in the majority: Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. RefRef

Why I ditched Buddhism By 

Sexism in Buddhism

Where does Buddhism stand on its treatment of women?

Buddhist women, including nuns, have faced harsh discrimination by Buddhist institutions in Asia for centuries. Let’s begin at the beginning, with the historical Buddha who refused to ordain women as nuns. He said that allowing women into the sangha would cause his teachings to survive only half as long. In addition, even when women did become buddhist nuns they experienced Unequal Rules. The Vinaya-pitaka section of the Tripitaka (Pali Canon) records the original rules of discipline and a bhikkuni (nun) has rules, in addition to those given to a bhikku (monk). These include subordination to monks; the most senior nuns are to be considered “junior” to a monk of one day.

One of the key references that strongly discriminates against women is the legend of the origin of the nuns (bhikkhuni), in which the Buddha showed his strong disapproval of women’s ordination as requested by Prajapati Gautami, his aunt and stepmother. Ananda, the Buddha’s close attendant stepped in and negotiated on her behalf. As a result, the Buddha laid down a set of special rules, or the so-called Eight Heavy Duties (Garudhammas) that established the conditions for women’s ordination, and nuns were required to strictly adhere to them for the rest of their lives.

The Eight Heavy Duties are:

  1. A nun, even if she has been ordained for 100 years, must respect, greet and bow in reverence to the feet of a monk, even if he has just been ordained that day. (Monks pay respect to each other according to their seniority, or the number of years they have been ordained.)
  2. A nun is not to stay in a residence where there is no monk. (A monk may take an independent residence.)
  3. A nun is to look forward to two duties: asking for the fortnightly Uposatha (meeting day), and receiving instructions by a monk every fortnight. (Monks do not depend on nuns for this obligatory rite, nor are they required to receive any instruction.)
  4. A nun who has completed her rains-retreat must offer herself for instruction to both the community of monks and to the community of nuns, based on what is seen, what is heard and what is doubted. (Monks only offer themselves to the community of monks.)
  5. A nun who is put on probation for violating a monastic rule of Sanghadisesa must serve a 15-day minimum probation, with reinstatement requiring approval from both the monk and nun communities. (The minimum for monks is a five-day probation with no approval by the nuns required for reinstatement.)
  6. A woman must be ordained by both monks and nuns and may be ordained only after a two-year postulancy, or training in six precepts. (Men have no mandatory postulancy and their ordination is performed by monks only.)
  7. A nun may not reprimand a monk. (A monk may reprimand a monk, and any monk may reprimand a nun.)
  8. From today onwards, no nun shall ever teach a monk. However, monks may teach nuns. (There are no restrictions on whom a monk may teach.)

There is only one conclusion: the Buddha was a sexist. However, the word ”sexist” is too strong for most Buddhists. No traditional Buddhist would want to acknowledge the Buddha’s prejudice. Instead, they usually stand up to defend the message of the Eight Heavy Duties, claiming, ”This is the way things are. This is the Dharma of the Universe, and there is nothing we can do but accept them [the Heavy Duties] as they are authentic messages of the Buddha.” This fundamentalist interpretation has isolated Buddhists from the belief in democracy based on human rights and gender equality. Buddhism with this belief has become just another tool used to marginalise half of the world’s population. When the orders of nuns died out in India and Sri Lanka centuries ago, conservatives used the rules that called for monks and nuns to be present at nuns’ ordination to prevent the institution of new orders. Only recently has the ordination problem been solved by allowing properly ordained nuns from other parts of Asia to travel to ordination ceremonies. However, the establishment of nuns’ orders in Tibet, where there had been no nuns before, for some time met with resistance.

Even today, in some parts of Asia nuns receive less education and financial support than monks. Buddhist women in the West generally consider institutional sexism to be vestiges of Asian culture that can be surgically excised from dharma. Buddhism has been used to repress people (especially women), such as under Hirohito’s rule and currently in Burma. Buddhist doctrines on the enlightenment of women are contradictory but not universally supporting and some fully reject the idea. A popular belief in Buddhist countries is that negative karma results in a man being reborn as a woman. For example, the Larger Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, also called the Aparimitayur Sutra, is one of three sutras that provide the doctrinal basis of the Pure Land school. This sutra contains a passage usually interpreted to mean that women must be reborn as men before they can enter Nirvana. The Theravadan Buddhists claim a woman could never become a Buddha. Again, the female gender’s state is seen as a punishment, one filled with shame. Buddhism teaches that institutions like marriage must be regulated by society through social, political, and legal processes. This does not mean Buddhism is a progressive religion. Rather, it’s sort of like passing the buck. We don’t want to say women are equal to men, so we’ll just let you figure it out. If you decide they’re equal, fine. If you decide she’s the social equivalent of a cow, and you can sell her for a dowry, that’s cool too.

Sexism is still healthy and strong today in most Buddhist countries, such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Only some communities in Sri Lanka ordain women. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the ordination of women is illegal. The Ecclesiastical Council of Thailand, for example, announced publicly that any monk who supports the ordination of women will be subject to severe punishment. RefRefRef

What are contradictions of Buddhism and some info them?

The Way of the Dialetheist: Contradictions in Buddhism (and other info is added below)

Author(s): Yasuo Deguchi, Jay L. Garfield, and Graham Priest
Source: Philosophy East and West, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 395-402

Anyone who is accustomed to the view that contradictions cannot be true and can not be accepted, and who reads texts in the Buddhist traditions, will be struck by the fact that these texts frequently contain contradictions. Just consider, for example:

(1)  Twenty years a pilgrim, Footing east and west.  Back in Seiken,  I’ve not moved an inch. (Seiken Chiju, Poem)

(2)  Who says my poetry is poetry? My poetry is not poetry. Provided you understand my poetry as not poetry. Only then can we discourse together about poetry. (Ryōkan, Poem)

(3)  What the realized one has described as the possession of distinctive features is itself the non-possession of distinctive features. (Vajracchedika 5)3

(4)  The very same perfection of insight, Subhuti, which the realized one has preached is indeed perfection less. (Vajracchedika 13 b)4

(5)  Furthermore, Subhuti, any perfection of acceptance the realized one has is indeed a non-perfection. (Vajracchedika 14e)5

(6)  Everything is real and is not real, Both real and not real, Neither real nor not real. This is Lord Buddha‘s teaching. (MMK XVIII :8)6

(7)  Just understand that birth-and-death is itself nirvana. There is nothing such as birth and death to be avoided. There is nothing such as nirvana to be sought. Only when you realize this are you free from birth and death. (Dogen, Shoji (Life-Death))

(8)  As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, birth, and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings. As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth, and death. (Dogen, Shoji)

(9)  Nothing (mu) is absolutely contradictory and self-identical. From this point, every being (u) is being and at the same time nothing. (Nishida, “Preface” to Collected Philosophical Papers)

Some may argue that none of these contradictions is meant to be accepted as true, that each should, in fact, be interpreted in some other way. Others may argue that the contradictions are meant to be taken this way, but that this shows that the views espoused are some kind of irrational mysticism. The point of the present note is to examine the matter. We will argue that at least some contradictions found in the texts are indeed meant literally and to be accepted as true. We will also argue that this is not a mark of irrationality, but, indeed, a consequence of rationality itself. We will proceed by examining ways that contradictions may arise in Buddhist discourse.

Contradictions not Meant to be Taken Literally Contradictions may sometimes be found in poetry in Buddhist traditions, for example in (1) and (2) above. In such contexts, it may be argued, plausibly, that they are not meant literally. They express something or other, but the poet no more means us to suppose that some contradiction is literally true than Shakespeare intends us to believe that Juliet is to be found by looking upwards at midday when Romeo tells us that she is the sun. The contradictions are just poetic license. Consider the Seiken Chiju poem (1) above. The poet is not literally stating that he both traveled and did not travel. He is using the contradiction metaphorically to indicate that even though he has attained realization, the world he has realized is no different from the one about which he was ignorant; that although he has practiced long, in the context of all that is to be accomplished, that is as nothing; that while his steps may be conventionally real, they are ultimately empty; and perhaps more besides.

It might be suggested that contradictions in Buddhist discourse always function in this way: they are intended metaphorically or in some other nonliteral sense. But this cannot be maintained. Contradictions occur not just in Buddhist poetry, but in highly theoretical Buddhist texts in the middle of rigorous deductive arguments, for example, those of Nagarjuna (see 6 above). Another possibility is that a contradiction is meant literally, but not meant to be accepted. There are at least two sorts of context in which this may occur. Buddhists were well aware of the mode of argument called in the West Reductio ad absurdum (in Sanskrit, this is called prasanga).

The Svatantrika-Prasaṅgika distinction is a set of arguments about two different positions of emptiness philosophy which are debated within the Mahayana school of Buddhism. It is most prominently discussed in Tibetan Buddhism where Prāsaṅgika and Svātantrika, are viewed to be different forms of Madhyamaka philosophy. The distinction arose because Tibetan scholars of the Gelugpa order perceived two different philosophical approaches to debate and ontology in classical Indian commentaries, and favored Buddhapālita‘s and Candrakīrti‘s interpretations over those of BhāvivekaSvātantrika is a category of Madhyamaka viewpoints attributed primarily to the 6th-century Indian scholar Bhāviveka. The Svatantrika approach favors the use of autonomous syllogistic reasoning in debate.

Prasaṅgikaviews are attributed to Buddhapālita and Candrakīrti. Their approach was called Prāsaṅgika, after the usage of Prasaṅga or “logic consequence,” a method of reductio ad absurdum which uses syllogisms to point out the unwanted logical consequences of holding essentialist views. Besides the use of different debate tactics, according to Lama Tsongkhapa, the two schools also are also seen by Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, and Buddapalita to hold different views on both the conventional and ultimate nature of reality. For Tsongkhapa, the most outspoken proponent of the distinction and the founder of the Gelugpa school, as well as for the Karma Kagyu school, these differences are of major importance.

Both establish conventional existence through the application of nominal conventions, but Prasaṅgika, as propagated by Lama Tsongkhapa, negates an inherent identity or self-characterizing essence which resides in persons, things, and abstract phenomena; in contrast to Svātantrika, Prasaṅgika also negates the identity of phenomena as they appear to our instinctive, everyday perception. The Svātantrika negate a “truly existing self,” but maintain that things exist conventionally “according to characteristics.”

For the Sakya and Nyingma schools, this distinction is generally viewed to be of lesser importance. For these schools, the key distinction between these viewpoints is whether one works with assertions about the ultimate nature of reality, or if one refrains completely from doing so. If one works with assertions, then that is a Svātantrika approach. Refraining from doing so is a Prāsangika approach. Madhyamaka originated with the works of Nāgārjuna, and his commentators. The Svatantrika-Prasaṅgika distinction can be traced to the following three commentators:

  • Buddhapālita, whom Tibetan tradition credits as the founder of the Prasangika “school,” was an early adopter of syllogistic and consequentialist methods in his writings, although of a particularly limited form;
  • Bhāvyaviveka, who was influenced by the developing Buddhist logic, and used syllogistic reasoning in his exposition of Madhyamaka. He did so to catch up with these developments in Buddhist logic, and prevent Madhyamaka from becoming obsolete. His criticisms of Buddhapalita are retrospectively imagined as the foundation of the Svatantrika “school”;
  • Candrakīrti, who defended Buddhapālita against Bhāvyaviveka, and became regarded by the Tibetan tradition as an important proponent of Prāsangika.

The name Prasangika is derived from Prasaṅga, a method of logical inquiry which deconstructs the opponents argument in debate through the use of unwanted logical consequences. It arises from Bhāvaviveka‘s criticism that Buddhapālita ought not to have relied solely on reductio ad absurdum argumentation —hence the name “Prāsangika”, from prāsanga (“consequence”)—but ought to have set forth “autonomous” (svātantra) syllogisms of his own. Dreyfus and McClintock observe that Bhāvaviveka was more influential in Indian Madhyamaka than was Candrakirti:

In this regard, Bhāvaviveka should probably be seen as quite successful: apart from Candrakirti and Jayananda, nearly all other Indian Madhyamikas were to follow in his footsteps and embrace autonomous arguments as important tools in their endeavors to establish the supremacy of the Madhyamaka view.

The Prasangika do create many arguments using syllogistic reasoning but view them as less effective than arguments based upon consequentialist reasoning. Madhyamaka discerns two levels of truth or reality, conventional truth and ultimate truth. Conventional truth is the truth of the objects and phenomena which we perceive in ordinary perception: they are validly designated and come into existence co-dependently with the mind that designates them. This perceived reality is an experiential reality, not an ontologically independent reality with its own intrinsic qualities. The ultimate truth is that of sunyata or emptiness.

Here, this term does not refer to nothingness or non-existence; it refers to the absence of inherent existence of phenomena or the absence of all impossible modes of being. Insight into the emptiness of phenomena is part of developing wisdom, seeing things as they are, rather than seeing them through a thick fog of ignorance[note 4]. Instinctively grasping onto phenomena as though they had an internal essence or self-identity which makes them what they are leads to attachment and aversion. From here, one accumulates karma and the wheel of cyclical existence turns. The elimination of ignorance leads to a state of liberation and enlightenment.

Tibetan Madhyamaka

Before the Prāsangika-Svātantrika distinction rose to prominence, other divisions of Madhyamaka were proposed. Jnanasutra (Wylieye shes sde, 8th–9th centuries) posited two alternative categories:

  1. Sautrāntika Madhyamika,” including Bhāviveka; and
  2. Yogācāra Madhyamaka,” including ŚāntarakṣitaKamalaśīla, and Haribhadra.

When Buddhism was established in Tibet, the primary philosophic viewpoint established there was that of Śāntarakṣita (725–788), a synthesis of Chittamātra and Madhyamaka called Yogācāra-Svatantrika-Mādhyamika.[15] Later Gelugpa scholars, as well as Nyingmapas, considered both of the above to constitute subdivisions of Svatantrika, however, under the names of

  1. “Sautrantika Svātantrika Madhyamaka”; and
  2. “Yogācāra Svātantrika Madhyamaka.”

The Prāsangika-Svātantrika distinction was possibly invented by the Tibetan translator Pa tshab nyi ma grags (1055-1145), using the terms Rang rgyud pa and Thal ‘gyur ba, which were Sanskritized by modern scholars as Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika. According to Dreyfus and McClintock, Tibetan scholars state that the distinction “is a Tibetan creation that was retroactively applied in an attempt to bring clarity and order to the study of contemporary Indian Madhyamaka interpretations.”

Lama Tsongkhapa disagrees in stating that “since [the use of the terms Prāsangika and Svātantrika agree] with Chandrakırti’s Clear Words (Prasannapada), you should not suppose that” it is a Tibetan fabrication. The preferred Gelugpa approach, Prāsangika, was represented chiefly by Candrakirti. Classical Indian commenters did not acknowledge Candrakirti as an important Nāgārjuna commentator, but the Tibetan tradition after the 14th century considers his commentary critical. Tsongkhapa became the most outspoken defender of the Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika distinction, arguing that “the two subschools are separated by crucial philosophical differences, including a different understanding of emptiness and of conventional reality.” According to Tsongkhapa,

The opponents of Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā are both (a) the essentialists, who accept that things ultimately have intrinsic nature, and
(b) the Svātantrikas, who refute that, but accept that things conventionally have intrinsic character or intrinsic nature.

A related distinction is between Rangtong-Shentong, which concerns the “nature” of ultimate truth as empty of a self or essence, or as constituting an absolute reality which is “truly existing” and empty of any other, transitional phenomena. Sometimes when contradictions occur in Buddhist texts, these are the conclusions of such arguments. For example in the MMK Nagarjuna argues against the self-existence of all things, and many of his arguments are reductio arguments. The self-existence of, for example, space as a primary element entails unacceptable contradictions. Space would either have characteristics or would lack them. If it lacks them, then it does not exist, since every existent has characteristics.

But if it has them, it is not a primary element, since a primary element is what exists prior to any characteristics. So, the self-existence of space as a primary element entails that space does not exist as a primary element.10 Whether or not it works, this argument is clearly intended as a reductio of some kind. But even in the MMK, contradictions do not always occur in contexts that are plausibly interpreted as the conclusions of reductio arguments. The example (6) above is most certainly not in a reductio context.

The Ch’an/Zen tradition provides a different kind of example of contradictions that are used literally, but not meant to be accepted as true. In some schools of Ch’an/Zen, awakening can occur suddenly, and this sudden awakening can be triggered by a certain kind of shock. The shock that triggers awakening is often verbal, and in these cases, t may well be that the shock is produced precisely by the contradictory content of an utterance. Zen practice is intended to enable us to transcend the reality constructed by our own conceptual thinking and to enable us to perceive reality just as it is. Such transcendence may be triggered by coming to understand the inadequacy of conceptual thinking, and, it might be suggested, this can arise when we see that such thinking leads to an irresoluble contradiction. This is one way
to understand certain koan exercises. Does a dog have Buddha nature? Yes, because all things have Buddha nature. No, because all things have no nature.

It may certainly be the case that some contradictions in Buddhist, and especially Zen, discourses function in this way; it can hardly be maintained that all do. This is simply because many contradictions do not occur in an immediately soteriological context; they occur in theoretical discourse about Buddhism, such as Nagarjuna’s MMK and Dogen’s Shobogenzo (see 6, 7, and 8 above). Contradictions in this context are not uttered simply for the psychological effect that they have on the listeners; in general, they are not intended to trigger a fundamental psychological transformation. Contradictions meant literally and to be accepted but as contextually ambiguous? Some contradictions that can be found in Buddhist texts can be understood as having a certain kind of contextuality. Thus, it is often claimed that when helping people on the path to awakening, it is of no use to tell them things that, although true, they cannot understand, and which may even hinder their development.

Better to tell them things that are only partially true, or that are even just plain false, if understanding these things takes them to a state where they are better placed to understand things more profound. In the same way, it is standard practice to teach people New tonian mechanics before teaching relativity theory. Although the former is false, it would be very difficult to understand the latter if one did not have a good grasp of the more elementary theory. This is the Buddhist stratagem referred to as upaya, of which much is made in the Lotus Sutra and other places. And it may be suggested that contradictions in Buddhist texts arise because different contradictory assertions are appropriate at different stages of Buddhist education (or history, since sometimes the doctrine of upaya is used by later Buddhist schools to account for the doctrines of earlier schools that are different from, and opposed to, their own). Thus, for example, it may be argued that it is perfectly acceptable to teach people that there is a Buddha, the four noble truths, the eightfold noble path, et cetera.

As one may come to understand later, however, such things are, in a certain sense, distinctly misleading. A better understanding is achieved by denying all of these things, as does the Heart Sutra. The device of upaya cannot account for many of the contradictions that occur in Buddhist texts, however. This is for the simple reason that contradictions are to be found located in documents meant for a single audience at a single time. Arguably, Nagarjuna’s MMK is such a document. Even more clearly, each of Dogen’s lectures to his monks, as reproduced in the Shobogenzo, is like this. Indeed, one may sometimes find contradictory utterances located back-to-back in such discourses, for example as in (7) and (8) above.

One can hardly take it that a context shift, of the kind necessary to make sense of an application of the doctrine of up?ya, occurs in the space of a full stop. A different, but related, way in which context can be used to defuse a literal contradiction concerns the doctrine of two truths or realities. Many Mahayana Buddhists endorse the view that there is a conventional reality (truth) and an ultimate reality (truth). For some Buddhists?for instance, Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, and Gorampa conventional truth is something of an illusion. One may have to come to grips with some aspects of it in the process of upaya, but it is to be sloughed off in the process of awakening. For others, for example, Nagarjuna, Candrakirti, and Tsong khapa, the motion of conventional reality is more robust. Conventional truth is still truth, just different truth. However one understands the two notions, one may obviously use them to defuse certain apparent contradictions.

Some things, such as that there is a Buddha, away, similar things, are conventional truths; their contradictories? That there is no Buddha, no way,  “other similar things” are ultimate truths. It is clear that some contradictions located in Buddhist texts should be understood in this way. This is certainly what Nagarjuna has in mind when he says, in MMK XVIII: 6, that it has been taught that there is a self, that there is no self, that there both is and is not a self, and that there is neither self nor nonself. Here a natural disambiguation reads this verse as saying simply that conventionally there is a self; ultimately there is not; there is conventionally, and there is not ultimately; that there neither is ultimately nor is not conventionally. However, again, not all contradictions are of this kind. Thus, the most plausible understanding of some contradictions offered in the MMK, at least as interpreted by CandrakTrti, is that they express ultimate truths?

Notably, for example, in the claim that all things have the nature of emptiness, which is no nature.11 It is certainly an ultimate truth that all things are empty, and all things includes emptiness. (That is the doctrine of the emptiness of emptiness, adumbrated by Nagarjuna and more explicitly by CandrakTrti and those who follow his interpretation of the MMK in India and Tibet, as well as by exegetes of Madhyamaka  such as Tsung Mi in China.) Emptiness in no essence, but is the lack of any essence and is the essential quality of all things. It is hence the case, according to M?dhyamaka philosophers and according to those who accept their doctrines, that ultimately things are essentially essenceless. This, while perhaps true, is contradictory. Before we leave the matter, one further point needs to be made. According to certain schools of Buddhism, especially Madhyamaka, the distinction between conventional reality and ultimate reality? Like all distinctions? Is only conventional.

From an ultimate perspective, there is no distinction between conventional reality and ultimate reality. The thought is taken to its logical conclusion in Zen, in which to live an awakened life is to lead a perfectly ordinary day-to-day existence (in a certain way). Now, if ultimately there is no distinction between conventional and ultimate reality, then the disambiguation provided by the distinction ultimately collapses. So the prima facie contradiction is more than just prima facie. Contradictions meant to be taken literally and to be accepted, and as unambiguous? We have seen that there are various ways in which apparent contradictions in Buddhist discourses may be defused. And some contradictions, as we have seen, are best defused in this way. But we have also seen that contradictions may not always be defused by these mechanisms. Indeed, the discussion has taken us to the point of seeing why some contradictions in some Buddhist texts cannot be defused. To suppose that one ought to defuse them would be to misunderstand. There are no ultimate truths. As we have put it before: “Ultimate truths are those about ultimate reality. But since everything is empty, there is no ultimate reality. There are, therefore, no ultimate truths. We can get at the same conclusion another way.

To express anything in language is to express truth that depends on language, and so this cannot be an expression of the way that things are ultimate. All truths, then, are merely conventional.” If Buddhists were content merely to point mutely to ultimate reality, there would be nothing more to be said. But they are not. They explain how conventional reality is simply the imposition of conventional conceptual categories on ultimate reality, and they explain the delusion about the nature of ultimate reality to which this gives rise. In the very process, they describe certain things about ultimate reality. The indescribable is described; indeed, even to say that it is indescribable is to describe it. In this respect, Buddhism is akin to any of a number of positions that claim that there is an ineffable reality, and then go on to explain why this is so, in the process, saying things about that reality. The phenomenon is to be found, for example, in Neoplatonism, in Advaita Vedanta, and in Heidegger on Being.

It could be said that such descriptions are simply upaya, to be jettisoned as soon as one can appreciate the nature of ultimate reality directly. Although they might be seen in this way, this would not do justice to the texts. The texts in question are simply too carefully reasoned and too explicit and are read by their commentators as correct. There is indeed a difference recognized in all Mahayana Buddhist traditions between, on the one hand, the conceptually mediated, and hence indirect, apprehension of ultimate reality that one obtains through reasoning and discursive practices, and, on the other hand, the immediate, direct, perception of emptiness that is the goal of meditative practice. However, the object of these two modes of apprehension is the same: emptiness, which is identical with dependent origination?The ultimate truth, which is, in turn, identical with the conventional truth properly understood. The descriptions of ultimate reality, however thin they may be, and however imperfectly they capture the object of yogic direct perception, are, nonetheless, taken to be veridical. And again, since the things claimed about ultimate reality are often contradictory to things claimed about conventional reality, if these two things are ultimately the same reality it is a contradictory one. It might be suggested that although such contradictions are true, their truth is incomprehensible. Such truths, in this view, have the deictic function of ostending the incomprehensibility of ultimate reality, but cannot themselves be understood. This view concedes our point that such contradictions are intended as true, but we do not concede the view that they are incomprehensible. Those who hold that contradictions are always and obviously only the false will of course find supposing them to be true incomprehensible. However, despite various orthodoxies, East and West, the view that some contradictions are true is a perfectly coherent and intelligible view, as modern studies in dialetheism and paraconsistency have established.

Let us end with a few words about reductio ad absurdum. We noted that this mode of argument is well recognized in Buddhist logic. Indeed, it is orthodox in logic since at least Dignaga and Dharmarkiti in the seventh century. Since this inference depends on the rejection of contradictions, then surely, one might argue, no interpretation of Buddhism that accepts contradictions can be correct. Matters are not that straightforward. There are certainly groups of Buddhists who accept the authority of Dharmarkiti on the matter, and who therefore would accept no interpretation of Buddhism that endorses contradictions. However, there is an older doctrine going back to the time of the Buddha himself. This is the catuhskoti: a doctrine to the effect that with respect to any claim there are four possibilities: that it is true (only), false (only), both true and false, or neither true nor false. And Nagarjuna, for example, often argues taking these four possibilities explicitly into account. Hence, in certain older traditions, and the traditions not so influenced by DharmarkTti’s logic, there is no legitimate presumption of consistency.

This leaves an obvious question as to how Buddhist thinkers of this kind, such as Nagarjuna, can employ reductio arguments. A full answer to this is no doubt complex, but, in brief, contradictions are perfectly acceptable in some contexts but not in others. Reductio ad absurdum is not reductio ad contradiction Proof by contradiction. In logicproof by contradiction is a form of proof, and more specifically a form of indirect proof, that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition. It starts by assuming that the opposite proposition is true and then shows that such an assumption leads to a contradiction. Proof by contradiction is also known as indirect proofapagogical argumentproof by assuming the opposite, and reductio ad impossibilem. It is a particular kind of the more general form of argument known as reductio ad absurdumSome contradictions may not be absurd, and not all absurdities are contradictions? And what is taken to be absurd by one theorist may be different from what is taken to be absurd by another. In Indian debate logic, a reductio succeeds when the opponent is forced to concede a consequence that is unacceptable by their own lights, whether or not it is contradictory. If a contradiction is unacceptable, it will function as the anvil of a reductio; if not, it will not.

The criticism of the Prāsaṅgika from opposing Buddhist schools of thought, and also by some Western scholars, is that it is actually a form of nihilism: since the Prāsaṅgika have negated the inherent identity of an object but have not affirmed anything else, haven’t they negated the object’s existence completely? Tsongkhapa argues that the Prāsaṅgika have not negated the object completely, but rather have merely eliminated impossible modes of existence misattributed to the object. Namely, one has eliminated complete non-existence and all forms of inherent existence. According to the Padmakara Translation Group:

The Gelugpa interpretation of Prāsangika has often been described by its critics as a form of Svātantrika in disguise, since its presentation of “conventional,” as distinct from “true,” existence seems very close to the “existence according to characteristics” that Bhavya had ascribed to phenomena on the relative level.

According to the Nyingma lineage, Ju Mipham was one of the critics who argued that Je Tsongkhapa was also a Svatantrika, because of the way he refutes true establishment instead of objects themselves. According to Ju Mipham, Je Tsongkhapa’s approach is an excellent Svatantrika approach, that leads students in the right direction but will not lead to the true ultimate until they go further. As a result of Je Tsongkhapa’s view, the Gelugpa lineage establishes a sort of ladder of progressively refined worldviews and identify the Svatantrika view as inferior to the Prasangika. Sakya and Kagyu scholars argued against the claim that students using Svatantrika do not achieve the same realization as those using the Prasangika approach; and according to those critics, there is no difference in the realization of those using the Svatantrika and Prasangika approaches. They also argue that the Svatantrika approach is better for students who are not able to understand the more direct approach of Prasangika, but it nonetheless results in the same ultimate realization. RefRefRefRefRef

Ancient Indian skepticism in Buddhism and Jainism?

Ajñana were the skeptical school of ancient Indian philosophy. It was a śramaṇa movement and a major rival of early Buddhism and Jainism. They have been recorded in Buddhist and Jain texts. They held that it was impossible to obtain knowledge of metaphysical nature or ascertain the truth value of philosophical propositions; and even if knowledge was possible, it was useless and disadvantageous for final salvation. Buddhist skepticism (Zen Buddhism) is not concerned with whether a thing exists or not. The Zen masters would answer questions “koans” with seemingly unrelated responses such as hitting the student. This would serve as a means of pulling the student back from the confusion of intellectual pontification, and into a direct experience. Since in Zen, all there is a direct experience, which cannot be explained or clarified beyond the experience itself, this answers the question.

  • Buddha is said to have touched the earth at the time of his enlightenment so that it could witness his enlightenment. In this way, Buddhism does not claim that knowledge is unattainable.
  • Buddhism places less emphasis on truth and knowledge than western philosophical skepticism. Instead, it emphasizes the goal of Bodhi, which, although often translated as enlightenment, does not imply truth or knowledge.
  • At least in its manifestation of Nagarjuna‘s texts that form the core of Madhyamaka, and from an anti-essentialist aspect of Buddhism stance, truth exists solely within the contexts that assert them.

Buddhist Dead Sea Scrolls (Gandhāran Buddhist texts)?

The Gandhāran Buddhist texts are the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, dating from about the 1st century CE. Gandhari, an ancient language of what is now northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. They are written in Gāndhārī, and are possibly the oldest extant Indian texts altogether. They were sold to European and Japanese institutions and individuals, and are currently being recovered and studied by several universities. The Gandhāran texts are in a considerably deteriorated form (their survival alone is extraordinary), but educated guesses about reconstruction have been possible in several cases using both modern preservation techniques and more traditional textual scholarship, comparing previously known Pāli and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit versions of texts. Other Gandhāran Buddhist texts—”several and perhaps many”—have been found over the last two centuries but lost or destroyed. The texts are attributed to the Dharmaguptaka sect by Richard Salomon, the leading scholar in the field, and the British Library scrolls “represent a random but reasonably representative fraction of what was probably a much larger set of texts preserved in the library of a monastery of the Dharmaguptaka sect in Nagarāhāra.” Gandharan Buddhism used Kharosthi script the alphabet of which was used as a mnemonic for remembering a series of verses on the nature of phenomena. In Tantric Buddhism, the list was incorporated into ritual practices and later became enshrined in mantras.

The Kharosthi script is an ancient script used in ancient Gandhara and ancient India (primarily modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) to write the Gandhari Prakrit and Sanskrit. It was popular in Central Asia as well. An abugida, it was in use from the middle of the 3rd century BCE until it died out in its homeland around the 3rd century CE. It was also in use in Bactria, the Kushan EmpireSogdia and along the Silk Road, where there is some evidence it may have survived until the 7th century in the remote way stations of Khotan and Niya. The Kharosthi script was deciphered by James Prinsep (1799–1840) using the bilingual coins of the Indo-Greek Kingdom (obverse in Greek, reverse in Pali, using the Kharosthi script). This, in turn, led to the reading of the Edicts of Ashoka, some of which, from the northwest of South Asia, were written in the Kharosthi script. Scholars are not in agreement as to whether the Kharosthi script evolved gradually, or was the deliberate work of a single inventor. An analysis of the script forms shows a clear dependency on the Aramaic alphabet but with extensive modifications to support the sounds found in Indic languages. One model is that the Aramaic script arrived with the Achaemenid Empire‘s conquest of the Indus River (modern Pakistan) in 500 BCE and evolved over the next 200+ years, reaching its final form by the 3rd century BCE where it appears in some of the Edicts of Ashoka found in northwestern part of South Asia. However, no intermediate forms have yet been found to confirm this evolutionary model, and rock and coin inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE onward show a unified and standard form. An inscription in Aramaic dating back to the 4th century BCE was found in Sirkap, testifying to the presence of the Aramaic script in northwestern India at that period.

According to Sir John Marshall, this seems to confirm that Kharoshthi was later developed from Aramaic. The study of the Kharosthi script was recently invigorated by the discovery of the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, a set of birch bark manuscripts written in Kharosthi, discovered near the Afghan city of Hadda just west of the Khyber Pass in modern Pakistan. The manuscripts were donated to the British Library in 1994. The entire set of manuscripts are dated to the 1st century CE, making them the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered. We can’t forget the buddhist dead sea scroll manuscripts at around 1,965 years old include around 60 fragments which are the oldest surviving substantial collection in buddism, ranging from Buddha’s sermons to poems and treatises on the psychology of perception. Exactly where these manuscripts were found is unknown but in the past several manuscripts of the same type have been reported to have been found in or around Haḍḍa near Jalalabad site in eastern Afghanistan. They were written in the Gandhari language and the Kharosthi which is derived from the Aramaic alphabet (later borrowed to write Hebrew) which was adapted from the Phoenician alphabet. The manuscripts are believed to be part of the long-lost canon of the Sarvastivadin Sect that dominated Gandhara modern north Pakistan and east Afghanistan and were instrumental in Buddhism’s spread into central and East Asia.

For a time, Gandhara also was a jewel of Buddhist civilization. Gandhara was the seat of a series of powerful dynasties it began as a province of the Persian Empire in 2,530 years ago and ended in 994 years ago, hen its last king was assassinated. Ashoka the Great of Gandhara 2,304–2,232 years ago; sometimes originally a warrior prince known for his ruthlessness and cruelty. According to legend he was first exposed to buddhist teaching when monks cared for his wounds after a battle. Gandhara was a crossroads of cultural influences from India, the West, China, and East Asia, and a melting pot of Greeks, descendants of Scythian invaders from the North, and many others. Earlier buddhist art did not depict the buddha. Instead, he was represented by a symbol or an empty space. But Gandharan artists pictured the buddha as a human being in a style influenced by Greek and Roman art. Because buddhist dead sea scroll manuscripts contain a reference to a satrap named Jihonika, who is known from inscriptions and coins to have ruled Gandhara at a specific time they are 400 years older than most of the ancient Buddhist texts in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit or Pali. For 800 years Gandhara was almost a second holy land of buddhism after India, where the religion was born. The manuscripts, today stoking a revolution in scholars’ understanding of early Buddhist history, shattering false premises that have shaped buddhism’s development for millennia and undermining the historical basis for buddhist sectarianism they are all somewhat connected and all are missing important parts.

As the implications of these findings ripple out from academia into the buddhist community, they may well blow away outdated, parochial barriers between traditions and bring buddhism into line as one religion. The buddhist dead sea scroll manuscripts reach back into an era when the oral tradition of buddhism probably first began to be written down. Preliminary translations reveal that some texts are Gandhari versions of previously known buddhist material from different so-called schools, but most are new including never-before-seen buddhist philosophy, treatises, commentaries, and stories set in contemporary Gandhara.

The collections contain the earliest known Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) texts and the earliest textual references to the Mahayana school. Mahayana Buddhist Pure Land sutras were brought from the Gandhara region to China as early as 1,868 years ago when the first buddhist sutras were translated into Chinese. It is also known that manuscripts in the Kharosthi script existed in China during this period. The buddhist dead sea scroll manuscripts themselves record a deep and persistent quarrel between the buddha’s attendant, Ananda, and Mahakasyapa, who presided over the Council and was the principal disciple at the time of the buddha’s death. Suggesting that it would be hard to imagine that the first Council (if it even occurred) was politic-free and harmonious. First of all, there are certain practical difficulties of oral transmission and how could 500 monks have agreed on 45 years of the Buddha’s words? So from these buddhist dead sea scroll manuscripts whose schools of buddhism is truest? Well these long-lost scrolls shed some surprising light on that answer which is No one’s school of buddhism and in some other ways everyone’s, school of buddhism it turns out. “Nobody holds the view of an original buddhism canon anymore,” stated Oskar von Hinuber, a well-known world’s leading Indologist scholar. Indology is the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent (most specifically the modern-day states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and the eastern parts of Afghanistan). A frequent symbol in Buddhist literature is the rhinoceros. With his single horn, the rhinoceros stands out; unlike many other animals that travel in herds, the rhinoceros travels alone.

The Buddha teaches that people should strive to be like the rhinoceros–wise, but separate from the world. Scholarly pursuits, especially those involving seemingly esoteric subjects, often occur in splendid isolation, with ideas and theories being shared by perhaps a handful of like-minded individuals. But even isolated scholars run the risk of losing their comfortable obscurity when they make a discovery recognized as being of great importance. And, like the fate of the rhinoceros in modern Africa, they find their world touched on all sides by the distractions of civilization as they struggle to maintain their detachment. “They allegedly were stored in clay water jugs, probably buried in a monastery. When the library received them they were shaped like a very old cigar that looked as if an elephant had sat on it. With the scrolls’ general condition, unrolling them was a formidable problem,” Salomon says who is the deputy director of the library described the scrolls as “fiendishly brittle material. The first question was, `Will these ever unroll or will they simply crumble into many pieces?’ “

The conservators put the scrolls in a bell jar overnight and allowed them to be slowly moistened. Then, holding their breath, one conservator used tweezers and began unrolling a scroll, while another moistened the scroll without saturating it. Salomon spent three weeks at the library, “getting headaches and getting discouraged,” trying to find a fragment of text that he could read well enough to relate to passages already well documented in Buddhist literature. From historical references in several passages, he was sure he was looking at words that were written in about the first century AD. Although the Buddha died in India in 456 B.C., scholars have found no written record of his teachings dating from his lifetime or several centuries thereafter. If Salomon could confirm his hypothesis, he might well be looking at the oldest surviving Buddhist texts ever discovered. RefRefRef, RefRefRefRefRefRef

Breakthrough: Linking the Lost Scrolls to Other Buddhist Texts
Scholar Thrust into the Limelight with Discovery of the Scrolls
Buddhist Doctrine from a Non-Buddhist

Did Buddhism come from Persia?

According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present-day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, IndiaRef

Buddha would not and could NOT be Indian or Nepalese? Well, from the archaeological and other evidence, it’s likely that the religion was based on an Indo-Scythian who lived sometime in the 5th to 4th centuries BCE in theGreater Gandhara region, not in the Nepal Terai as is generally believed. The Indian name for Scythians is Saka (or Sakya); hence Buddha is also known as Sakamuni (or Sakyamuni), the sage of the Sakas. When the center of power of the Mauryan empire shifted east, the story of the Buddha—which had been transmitted orally for centuries—was written down and relocated to the Indo-Gangetic plains. But the Sakyans still retained the memory of the sage as one of their own. That is why we find that more—and earlier—sculpture and architecture made in the service of Buddhism has been found in Greater Gandhara than in any other part of ancient South Asia, and the earliest anthropomorphic images of the Buddha show distinctly Aryan features.

And that is why the Sakas were most ardent in spreading Buddhism along the silk road into Central Asia, eventually to invigorate the air of China and Japan. Since the 19th century, certain Buddhologists have speculated that Buddha was a member of the Scythian steppe nomads, some of whom had been encroaching since the mid-first millennium BCE into the Gandhara region, becoming sedentary in the process, eventually reaching northwest India and founding an empire there in the first century BCE. Gandhara was the name given to the land and its associated civilization that existed in what is now northern Pakistan and Afghanistan from the mid 1st millennium BCE to the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE and consisted of multiple dynasties which ruled over the same area but which were linked by their adoption of Buddhism as a religion for the most part and also of the Indo-Greek artistic tradition as its cultural identity. “Even a cursory acquaintance with later Vedic texts, like the Upanisads, and that of the earliest Buddhist and Jain texts leaves the reader wondering whether they can possibly refer to the same society, even though admittedly there is a time gap of a thousand years between their composition.

The Sanskrit texts evoke a mostly agrarian way of life in which states play a minor part and status is governed by lineage and ritual observance. Buddhist and Jain texts, on the other hand, portray a network of functioning states, each with an urban nucleus heavily engaged in trade and production. Here wealth as much as lineage confers status. Indeed, the Buddhist concept of ‘merit’ as something to be earned, accumulated, occasionally transferred and eventually realized seems inconceivable without a close acquaintance with the moneyed economy.”


 This is strong circumstantial evidence for the buddha or the man who the story of the buddha was based on, actually having been a Gandharan, where urbanization developed ahead of the north and east India. 


Another piece of circumstantial evidence is found in the Digha Nikaya [DN 1.90-95] which tells a story of Buddha’s people, the Sakyas/Scythians, as being ‘foreign.’ They are described by Ambattha as “fierce, rough-spoken, violent, wanderers (sometimes incorrectly mistranslated as menials, but refers to their mendicant lifestyle; or could it be a slight on their nomadic past?). They do not respect Brahmins, nor pay homage to them.” Upon visiting Kapilavatthu, the hometown of the Sakyas, Ambattha explains them as those who “sat upon high seats in meeting halls, engaging in laughing, rough playing, poking each other with fists and fingers and paid no regard to [Ambattha].” In referring to Buddha, the “Scythian-sage” (Sakyamuni), he [DN 3.144] “has blue eyes.” See here and here

Although Gandhara has been historically known since the Achaemenian Empire and more specifically during the reign of Cyrus the Great (558-28 BCE), it wasn’t until the pilgrimage of XuanXang in the 7th century CE, at the tail end of the Gandhara civilization, that we first see a descriptive account of the region down to the extent of the area itself as well as the various places and sites which can be identified today. It has been speculated that Ganhara was a triangular tract of land about 100 kilometers east to west and 70 km north to south, lying mainly to the west of the Indus River and bounded on the north by the Hindukush Mountains. (1 li = 500 meters or 1640 feet) The extent of Gandhara proper actually included the Peshawar valley, the hills of Swat, Dir, Buner, and Bajaur, all of which lie within the northern bounds of the modern day nation of Pakistan.

However the bounds of Greater Gandhara (or regions where the cultural and political hegemony of Gandhara held sway) extended towards the Kabul Valley in Afghanistan and the Potwar plateau in the province of Punjab in Pakistan, in close proximity to the capital city of Islamabad, and bounded off by the location of the grand Mankiyala Stupa on the outskirts of the capital.


The name of Gandhara may have several meanings the most prominent theory relates its name to the word Qand/Gand which means “fragrance” and Har which means ‘lands’ hence the simplest definition being ‘Land of Fragrance’. However, when analyzed critically, the region known as the core of Gandhara around the Peshawar valley does not historically have any historically verifiable association or importance with regards to fragrance, either through flowers, spices, foods etc. Another more probable and geographically supported theory is that the word Qand/Gand is evolved from Kun which means ‘well’ or ‘pool of water’ and indeed the word Gand appears with many other place names associated with water i.e. Gand-ao or Gand-ab (pool of water) and also Gand-Dheri (water mound). Tashkand (stonewalled pool) and Yarkand are also associated names and hence it holds to reason that the land could have been known as ‘Land of the Lake(s)’ as this signifies the region between the Indus and Kabul rivers which was a fertile region rich in water supplies and especially around Peshawar.

Darius I, added Gandhara to the Achaemenid Empire around 556 BCE but his occupation of it did not last long. Later on it was instead known to be a tributary state of the Achaemenids (known as a satrapy) and later paid tributes and inferred hospitality to Alexander the Great who eventually conquered it (along with the rest of the Achaemenian empire).The Achaemenian hegemony in Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BCE to 327 BCE. Alexander is said to have crossed through the area of what is called Gandhara to enter into Punjab proper (as indeed this region is still used today for the same function) and he was offered alliance by the ruler of Taxila Ombhi, against the king Porus, who was a constant source of agitation for Taxila and its surrounding regions. What happened after this at the Battle of Hydaspes is (quite literally) ancient history.

Nonetheless, Alexander’s stay here was short and he went south via the Indus River and crossed over into what is today Balochistan on the return journey. Alexander left sizeable populations of Greeks in every region he conquered and Gandhara was no exception, with craftsmen, soldiers and other followers encouraged to inter-marry and blend with the locals and bring to them the fruits of Greek civilization. When Alexander died in June 323 BCE, his occupying Greek force, desperate to return home, started the journey back regardless of the orders to stay in the region and this left a large vacuum in the already thinly spread Greek occupation force in Gandhara. Nonetheless, enough Greek centers were created in the region to affect its history for centuries to come.

By 316 BCE, King Chandragupta of Magadha (321-297 BCE) moved in and conquered the Indus Valley, thereby annexing Gandhara and naming Taxila a provincial capital of his newly formed Mauryan Empire. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who was succeeded by his son Ashoka (who had previously remained a governor of Taxila for some time). Ashoka famously propagated the spread of bBuddhism, and created a grand monastery to the east of the river Tamra at Taxila. This is the Dharmarajika Monastery, famous for its stupa, and it is said Ashoka buried several relics of Buddha there. However, the Mauryan empire disintegrated after Ashoka’s death and Gandhara was again up for grabs. In 184 BCE, the Greeks (who had remained strong in Bactria, modern North Afghanistan), invaded Gandhara again under king Demetrius and it was he who built a new city on the opposite bank of the river from Bhir Mound. This new incarnation of Taxila is known now as Sirkap (meaning ‘severed head’) and it was built according to the Hippodamaean plan following a gridiron pattern. The Kingdom of Demetrius consisted of Gandhara, Arachosia (modern day Kandahar in Afghanistan), the Punjab, and a part of the Ganges Valley. It was a multi-ethnic society, where Greeks, Indians, Bactrians and Western Iranians lived together. Evidence of this is found all over 2nd century BCE Taxila, such as a Zoroastrian sanctuary at Jandial, directly north of Sirkap. The gradual takeover of the Punjab by the nomadic Scythians of Central Asia began around 110 BCE.

These tribes had been accustomed to invading northern territories such as those in Bactia, but had been kept back by the Achaemenids in the past. They had settled in Drangiana, modern-day Sistan in Iran and invaded Punjab, infiltrating through the southern Indus Valley, eventually taking over Taxila. In the first quarter of the 1st century CE, the Parthians moved in and began taking over the Greek Petty Kingdoms in Gandhara and Punjab. Gondophares, a Parthian leader who lived at Taxila is said to have been baptised by the apostle Thomas, not a wholly impossible claim since the city already hosted a number of religious faiths and might have aaccommodateda fledgling Christian one. In 80 CE, the Kushans wrested control of Gandhara from the Scytho-Parthians. The main city at Taxila was again refounded at another site and the new name Sirsukh given to it. It resembled a large military base, with a wall 5 km long and no less than 6 metres thick. It now became a hub of Buddhist activity, and hosted pilgrims from Central Asia and China. The Kushana era is the high point of Gandhara art, architecture and culture and considered a golden age in the history of this region.

The Kushans were a tribe that migrated to Gandhara around the 1st century CE from Central Asia and Afghanistan. The tribe selected Peshawar as its seat of power and later expanded east into the heartland of India to establish the Kushan Empire, which lasted until the 3rd century CE. The Greek philosopher Appolonius of Tyana also visited the city of Taxila and compared its size to that of Nineveh in Assyria. A description of Taxila (probably Sirsukh) can be found in the Life of Appolonius of Tyana by the author Philostratus:

“I have already described the way in which the city is walled, but they say that it was divided up into narrow streets in the same irregular manner as in Athens, and that the houses were built in such a way that if you look at them from outside they had only one storey, while if you went into one of them, you at once found subterranean chambers extending as far below the level of the earth as did the chambers above. (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 2.23;  tr. F.C. Conybeare)”

The tail end of the Kushan rule saw a succession of short-lived dynasties taking over control of the Gandhara region, and this resulted in a situation where the region was constantly being raided, invaded or in some way or other in turmoil. Quick succession of rule by the Sassanids, Kidarites (or little Kushans) and finally the White Huns following the ebbing of Kushan rule led to day to day religious, trade and social activity coming to a standstill. In about 241 CE, the Kushans were defeated by the Sassanians of Persia under the kingship of Shahpur 1 and Gandhara became annexed to the Persian Empire. However, the Sassanians could not directly rule the region due to being taxed on their western and northern borders and control of this region fell to descendants of the previous Kushans who came to be known as the Kidarites or Kidar Kushans which literally means little Kushans.

The Kidarites managed to maintain a hold of the region, carrying on the traditions of their predecessors the Kushans up to the middle of the 5th Cent CE when the White Huns or Hephthalites, invaded the region. As Buddhism and by extension the Gandhara culture was already at an ebb by this time, the invasion caused both physical destruction and, due to the Huns’ adoption of the Shivite faith (most especially of their ruler Mihirakula) and by extension the culture of the Hindu Gupta empire which at this time was ascendant, the importance of Buddhism began to wane with even more speed. During the White Hun invasions, the religious character of the region shifted gradually towards Hinduism and Buddhism was shunned in the favor of Hinduism as it was deemed politically expedient by the White Hun rulers since they sought to make alliances with the Hindu Gupta Empire against the Sassanids to the West. The change in religious character (which was the basis of all social life) led to a decline in the prosperity of the Gandhara region as a whole. The White Huns’ alliance with the Gupta empire against the Sassanians also caused the culture of Buddhism to be subdued to the extent that eventually the religion moved north up through the northern passes into China and beyond. Hinduism hence took sway over the region and the people moved away from here, as the remaining few centuries saw constant invasions from the west, especially Muslim conquest, which allowed no prominent culture to develop or be sustained along the ancient lines.

The old cities and worship places of importance hence fell out of memory for the next 1500 years until they were rediscovered in the mid 1800’s CE by colonial British forces. Gandhara, then, has had multiple rulers over the centuries but archaeological evidence shows us the uniformity of its cultural tradition persisted during these changes in rule. Although the territories were spread over vast areas, the cultural boundaries of regions such as Mathura and Gandhara were well defined and allow us to identify it uniquely today. The beginnings of Gandharan artistic tradition can be traced to the 1st century BCE with the waning of the tradition occurring approximately in the 8th century CE and included painting, sculpture, coins, pottery and all the associated elements of an artistic tradition. It really took flight during the Kushan era and especially that of the King Kanishka during the 1st Century CE who deified the Buddha and arguably for the first time introduced the Buddha image which went on to become so prolific as to define the entire Gandharan culture. Thousands of these images were produced and were scattered across every nook and cranny of the region ranging from minute hand held buddhas to giant monumental statues put in place in the most sacred worship sites. Indeed it was during Kanishka’s time that Buddhism saw its second revival after Asoka. The life story of the Buddha became the staple subject matter for any and all aspects of Gandharan art, and the sheer number of Buddha images enshrined in chapels, stupas and monasteries continue to be found in great number to this day. The artwork was solely dedicated to the propagation of religious ideals to the extent that even items of everyday use were replete with religious imagery. The focus was on the life story of the Buddha and each piece of sculpture has something to say about the life of this personage.

The materials used were either kanjur stone finished with plaster and paint or Schist stone. Kanjur is basically fossilized rock which can be easily molded into shapes which are used as a base for various decorative elements in Gandharan art such as pilasters, Buddha figures, brackets, and other elements. After the basic shape has been cut out of stone, this is then plastered with lime plaster to give it a finished look. Gold leaf and precious gems were also applied to select items of great performance and the quality of the artwork varied depending on its use. The maximum size that the schist stone was able to be crafted into was 2.5m square in order to have it be easily transported and hence the larger statues and reliefs are made of clay and stucco. The Buddha was worshipped through these sculptural representations which had a distinct style associated with them that remained largely constant with some changes owing to skill or craft being seen. The Buddha is always depicted in simple monastic robes, with his hair tied in a bun known as the Ushnisha and the expression on his face is almost always one of content.

Whereas originally these sculptures were painted in bright colors, now only the plaster or stone remains and barely a handful of items have been found with their original colors intact. Various cult images of the Buddha were made for the varying cults in the region all of which had their own distinct identifying features namely the Laksanas (divine marks), Mudras (hand gestures) and various kinds of robes. Whatever the case was, Buddha always had the central role in these pieces and can be immediately identified by the halo and his simple attire. Many mythological figures are also seen as a part of these scenes along with couples, gods, demigods, celestials, princes, queens, male guards, female guards, musicians, royal chaplains, soldiers and also common people. More so, Gandharan art recreates these scenes in such detail that architectural elements and items of everyday use such as beds and vases etc. can be clearly seen in them and also give a glimpse into the building culture of antiquity. Gandharan art can thus provide us with an insight not only one aspect of the ancient life of the region but also of the entirety of the ancient buddhist daily life. One of the most enduring elements of Gandharan art besides the Buddha is the Bodhisattva, which is essentially the state of the Buddha before he attained his enlightenment.

Multiple Bodhisattvas from the various previous lives of the Buddha are depicted in Gandharan art with Avalokatishvara, Matrya, Padmapani and Manjsuri being prominent. Compared to the austerity of the Buddha images, the Bodhisattva sculptures and images depict a high degree of luxury with many variations on the various elements such as jewelry, headdress, loincloth, sandals and so on and the various incarnations of the Bodhisattva are recognisable from their clothing and postures, mostly of the hands in the seven mudras. Much can be said about the architectural tradition of Gandhara but the most prominent and unique characteristic of it was the proliferation of stupas and other associated religious establishments such as monasteries which formed the core of the regional identity for nearly 1000 years. The Stupas were built mainly for the reverence of the remains of Buddhist masters and the most important ones held the remains of the Buddha himself. Besides the Buddha, monks of high stature were also venerated by having stupas built for them and these edifices also marked the places where certain legendary events related to the various lives of the Buddha were said to have occurred.

The proliferation of stupas across India is said to have been the hallmark of Asoka’s rule who reinterred the ashes of the Buddha in multiple stupas all across his kingdom. Even though it was mainly an architectural feat, the stupa nonetheless was a vessel for the display and worship of the prolific Gandharan art, encompassing sculptures, reliefs, paintings and other highly decorated elements that encased the structure and added immensely to not just its beauty but its veneration as a religious site. These images stood against walls, in courts, inside niches and chapels and stuccos adorned the walls of the stupa courts and monasteries. Stupas were initially built with circular bases and were of modest size, but as the cult of the Buddha grew in importance in the region, these centers of worship were elaborately designed and adorned to boost the stature of the religion and to attract more worshippers. The original stupas at Kunala and Dharmarajika were small affairs which were later on expanded to grand proportions by rulers such as Asoka and Kanishka. A base (medhi), either circular or square, would support a drum or cylinder on top of which the dome (anda) would be placed. Steps were used to surmount the platform and to begin the clockwise circumbobulation around the dome along the processional path (Pradakshina Patha) which was bounded by the railing (vedika). At times the base would have multiple circular stories raising the height of the stupa.

The corners of the base were usually affixed with lion capital pillars and the top of the dome had first a harmika, an inverted square enclosure on which stood the yasti or pillar which had the various chattras or parasols diminishing sizes equally distributed along it. The stupas came to represent the zenith of buddhist architectural achievement in the region and of course, as with the artwork, they are also meant solely to promote the religious power structures. The stupas themselves were decorated with uncountable relief panels and friezes depicting religious stories and events further solidifying their role. The stupa was the main center of worship and in support, t had the monastery, a structure with its own fully contained living area for monks.

The monastery or Sangharama became a huge part of the Buddhist tradition and over time came to be its own self-sustaining unit, with lands for growing crops and wealth showered on them by lay people and royalty alike for their blessings. In its final form, the monastery had some defined elements which suited its basic functions and these were:

  •  Refrectory/Service Hall: Upatthana-sala
  •  Kitchen: Aggi-sala
  •  Cloistered Promenade: Chankamana-sala (for walking/exercise)
  •  Bathroom: Jantaghara next to the central water tank
  •  Store room: Kotthaka
  •  Medical and general storage: Kappiya-kuti

These buildings were usually rendered in mud plaster and this was then painted over either completely or like in some cases (as in the monastery of Jina Wali Dheri in Taxila) scenes of buddha’s life. Aside from these religious buildings, there was, of course, civic architecture as well which varied and changed with respect to the cultural prevalent in the region. Cities ranged from freely-planned organic settlements such as Bhir to the more rigid and planned out settlements like Sirsukh, with the city of Sirkap somewhere in between in terms of planning and layout.

The older cities tend to be more organically laid out while the newer ones seem to be very directly inspired by the Greek Hippodamian plan which surfaces later on in the 1st cent BCE. Shops, promenades, palaces, temples, sundials, hovels, huts, villas, insulae, pavilions streets, roads, watchtowers, gates and fortification walls, all form part of the urban fabric which is true of most ancient cities as well. Although the religious landscape was dominated by the Buddhist faith, there has is nonetheless ample evidence of other faiths intermingling and thriving in the social fabric such as Jainism, Zoroastrianism and early Hinduism amongst the various other cults. The temple at Jandial is said to be Zoroastrian in nature whereas a Jain temple and a temple of the Sun is in evidence on the main street of Sirkap city along with various stupas. One of the most well-known remains is the Double-Headed Eagle stupa in Sirkap which contains its namesake motif of the double-headed eagle affixed on three different type of decorative arches namely the classical Greek, Persian and Indian style of arch.

This shows the degree of intermixing of cultures in the region which we can deduce from the archaeological remains. Daily life in the cities of Gandhara was very diverse and due to its location at a crossroads near to the Indus River, it constantly saw invaders, traders, pilgrims, monks and every other type of traveler cross through its lands. Westwards from India or Eastwards from Persia, the route through the region of Gandhara made it the center of every traveler’s route. This is the same route through which Islam entered the region and probably struck the final nail in the coffin of Buddhism in the area. In fact, the same route would be used for centuries even after Gandhara collapsed until the coming of the voyages of discovery and the prominence of naval travel via sea routes.

The riches of Gandhara, although well known to treasure hunters for centuries, would not be discovered again for over 2000 years until the era of British Colonial rule in the Indian Subcontinent, where the artistic traditions of this lost civilization were rediscovered and consequently researched and brought to light in the late 19th and throughout the 20th centuries CE, the study of which continues to this day. Gandhara witnessed the rule of several major powers of antiquity as listed here:

  1. Achaemenids (~600-400 BCE)
  2. Greeks (~326-324 BCE),
  3. Mauryans (~324-185 BCE),
  4. Indo-Greeks (~250-190 BCE),
  5. Scythians (~2nd century to 1st  century BCE),
  6. Parthians (~1st century BC to 1st century CE),
  7. Kushans (~1st to 5th  century CE),
  8. White Huns (~5th century CE)
  9. Hindu Shahi (~9th to 10th century CE).

This was followed by Muslim conquests by which time we come to the medieval period of Indian History. RefRef

Unacknowledged Buddhism: Gods, Savior, Demons, Rebirth, Heavens, Hells, and Terrorism

His Foolishness The Dalai Lama

“Buddhist is not all kindness as there were terrorist buddhists monks in Myanmar are violent, there is at least one buddhist sect that strongly opposes the Dalai Lama and Pol Pot as well as those under him where Buddhist and Pol Pot carried out genocide.”

“Well, when some dude’s philosophy gets turned into religion, it’s got potential to go south, no matter how sensible the original philosophy may be. It’s easy to twist thinking.” – Challenger 

Ok, do you mean in about 483 B.C.with The First Buddhist Council on or before that?

“According to the scriptures of all Buddhist schools, the first Buddhist Council was held soon after the death of the Buddha, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BCE,[1] under the patronage of king Ajatashatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Sattapanni caves Rajgriha (now Rajgir). Its objective was to preserve the Buddha’s sayings (suttas) and the monastic discipline or rules (Vinaya). The Suttas were recited by Ananda, and the Vinaya was recited by Upali. According to some sources, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, or its matika, was also included. Also the Sangha made the unanimous decision to keep all the rules of the Vinaya, even the lesser and minor rules.” Ref

“By the time of the Fourth Buddhist councils, Buddhism had long since splintered into different schools. The Theravada had a Fourth Buddhist Council in the first century BCE in Tambapanni, i.e. Sri Lanka, at Aloka Lena now Alu Vihara during the time of King Vattagamani-Abaya.

However, it should be clarified that an anonymous local chieftain had given patronage and not the king, since he was a firm follower of the Abayagir school (a Mahayana Sect.). In fact, one of the main reasons for the Council was the cruel policy the king held against the Mahavihara Priests who were Theravadians who were once attacked at the Mahavihara Premises killing many and driving away the others.

The temple was destroyed and in its place, a Mahayana Temple was built. The other main reasons for the Council were the unstable political situation within the country due to constant invasions which lead the king himself to flee several times and also severe famine. It is said to have been devoted to committing the entire Pali Canon to writing, which had previously been preserved by memory.

No mention had been made as to who led this Council, for which the approximate cause would have been the deteriorating status of Buddhism then, and the collective effort by the priesthood to preserve the religion in its purest form therefore not needing a leader(only the fact that the Mahavihara priesthood i.e. Theravada school took part in this recital and compilation had been mentioned).  Another Fourth Buddhist Council was held in the Sarvastivada tradition, said to have been convened by the Kushan emperor Kanishka, in 78 AD at Jalandhar or in Kashmir.

It is said that Kanishka gathered five hundred Bhikkhus in Kashmir, headed by Vasumitra, to systematize the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma texts, which were translated from earlier Prakrit vernacular languages (such as Gandhari in Kharosthi script) into the classical language of Sanskrit. It is said that during the council three hundred thousand verses and over nine million statements were compiled, a process which took twelve years to complete. Although the Sarvastivada are no longer extant as an independent school, its traditions were inherited by the Mahayana tradition. The late Professor Etienne Lamotte, an eminent Buddhologist, held that Kanishka’s Council was fictitious. However, David Snellgrove, another eminent Buddhologist, considers the Theravada account of the Third Council and the Sarvastivada account of the Fourth Council “equally tendentious,” illustrating the uncertain veracity of much of these histories.” Ref

“Damien, my guess is about the time he said, “My back hurts, why don’t you go ahead and handle the lesson”? Naw, I think the big problem with any philosophy being turned into religion is that religion requires something more than “huh, that sounds like a good idea”. Religion requires ignoring the parts that sound like a bad idea. Making religion a standard in your society is where it all collides and philosophy gets twisted to the point where it serves to forward the religion rather than give opportunity to challenge one’s ethics and choices.” – Challenger 

My response, Here is an interview I did with an ex-Buddhist atheist from a Buddhist country that will explain that Buddhism is a religion to most non-westerners:  ex-buddhist Video

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

“How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

“Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

“Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

Understanding Religion Evolution:

“An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


Quick Evolution of Religion?

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

Here are several of my blog posts on history:

I am not an academic. I am a revolutionary that teaches in public, in places like social media, and in the streets. I am not a leader by some title given but from my commanding leadership style of simply to start teaching everywhere to everyone, all manner of positive education. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Low Gods “Earth” or Tutelary deity and High Gods “Sky” or Supreme deity

“An Earth goddess is a deification of the Earth. Earth goddesses are often associated with the “chthonic” deities of the underworldKi and Ninhursag are Mesopotamian earth goddesses. In Greek mythology, the Earth is personified as Gaia, corresponding to Roman Terra, Indic Prithvi/Bhūmi, etc. traced to an “Earth Mother” complementary to the “Sky Father” in Proto-Indo-European religionEgyptian mythology exceptionally has a sky goddess and an Earth god.” ref

“A mother goddess is a goddess who represents or is a personification of naturemotherhoodfertilitycreationdestruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. In some religious traditions or movements, Heavenly Mother (also referred to as Mother in Heaven or Sky Mother) is the wife or feminine counterpart of the Sky father or God the Father.” ref

Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such king gods are collectively categorized as “sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “sky father” god with an “earth mother” goddess (pairings of a sky mother with an earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the queen of the gods and may be an air/sky goddess in her own right, though she usually has other functions as well with “sky” not being her main. In antiquity, several sky goddesses in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East were called Queen of Heaven. Neopagans often apply it with impunity to sky goddesses from other regions who were never associated with the term historically. The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky.” ref

“In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon and is often either a reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother“. “Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeûs Pater and Roman Jupiter and Germanic Týr, Tir or Tiwaz, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity’s name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).” ref

Tutelary deity

“A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of “tutelary” expresses the concept of safety and thus of guardianship. In late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) iKorean shamanismjangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshiped as deities. Seonangshin is the patron deity of the village in Korean tradition and was believed to embody the SeonangdangIn Philippine animism, Diwata or Lambana are deities or spirits that inhabit sacred places like mountains and mounds and serve as guardians. Such as: Maria Makiling is the deity who guards Mt. Makiling and Maria Cacao and Maria Sinukuan. In Shinto, the spirits, or kami, which give life to human bodies come from nature and return to it after death. Ancestors are therefore themselves tutelaries to be worshiped. And similarly, Native American beliefs such as Tonás, tutelary animal spirit among the Zapotec and Totems, familial or clan spirits among the Ojibwe, can be animals.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Austronesian beliefs such as: Atua (gods and spirits of the Polynesian peoples such as the Māori or the Hawaiians), Hanitu (Bunun of Taiwan‘s term for spirit), Hyang (KawiSundaneseJavanese, and Balinese Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology and this spiritual entity, can be either divine or ancestral), Kaitiaki (New Zealand Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land), Kawas (mythology) (divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of the living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts), Tiki (Māori mythologyTiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne and represents deified ancestors found in most Polynesian cultures). ” ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

Mesopotamian Tutelary Deities can be seen as ones related to City-States 

“Historical city-states included Sumerian cities such as Uruk and UrAncient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes and Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the five Philistine city-states; the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as AthensSpartaThebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a vast empire); the Italian city-states from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, such as FlorenceSienaFerraraMilan (which as they grew in power began to dominate neighboring cities) and Genoa and Venice, which became powerful thalassocracies; the Mayan and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen ItzaTikalCopán and Monte Albán); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; the city-states of the Swahili coastRagusa; states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov; and many others.” ref

“The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE; also known as Protoliterate period) of Mesopotamia, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. City-States like Uruk and others had a patron tutelary City Deity along with a Priest-King.” ref

Chinese folk religion, both past, and present, includes myriad tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals, highly cultivated sages, and prominent ancestors can be deified and honored after death. Lord Guan is the patron of military personnel and police, while Mazu is the patron of fishermen and sailors. Such as Tu Di Gong (Earth Deity) is the tutelary deity of a locality, and each individual locality has its own Earth Deity and Cheng Huang Gong (City God) is the guardian deity of an individual city, worshipped by local officials and locals since imperial times.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Hinduism, personal tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata, while family tutelary deities are known as Kuladevata. Gramadevata are guardian deities of villages. Devas can also be seen as tutelary. Shiva is the patron of yogis and renunciants. City goddesses include: Mumbadevi (Mumbai), Sachchika (Osian); Kuladevis include: Ambika (Porwad), and Mahalakshmi. In NorthEast India Meitei mythology and religion (Sanamahism) of Manipur, there are various types of tutelary deities, among which Lam Lais are the most predominant ones. Tibetan Buddhism has Yidam as a tutelary deity. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) The Greeks also thought deities guarded specific places: for instance, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Socrates spoke of hearing the voice of his personal spirit or daimonion:

You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me … . This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” ref

“Tutelary deities who guard and preserve a place or a person are fundamental to ancient Roman religion. The tutelary deity of a man was his Genius, that of a woman her Juno. In the Imperial era, the Genius of the Emperor was a focus of Imperial cult. An emperor might also adopt a major deity as his personal patron or tutelary, as Augustus did Apollo. Precedents for claiming the personal protection of a deity were established in the Republican era, when for instance the Roman dictator Sulla advertised the goddess Victory as his tutelary by holding public games (ludi) in her honor.” ref

“Each town or city had one or more tutelary deities, whose protection was considered particularly vital in time of war and siege. Rome itself was protected by a goddess whose name was to be kept ritually secret on pain of death (for a supposed case, see Quintus Valerius Soranus). The Capitoline Triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva were also tutelaries of Rome. The Italic towns had their own tutelary deities. Juno often had this function, as at the Latin town of Lanuvium and the Etruscan city of Veii, and was often housed in an especially grand temple on the arx (citadel) or other prominent or central location. The tutelary deity of Praeneste was Fortuna, whose oracle was renowned.” ref

“The Roman ritual of evocatio was premised on the belief that a town could be made vulnerable to military defeat if the power of its tutelary deity were diverted outside the city, perhaps by the offer of superior cult at Rome. The depiction of some goddesses such as the Magna Mater (Great Mother, or Cybele) as “tower-crowned” represents their capacity to preserve the city. A town in the provinces might adopt a deity from within the Roman religious sphere to serve as its guardian, or syncretize its own tutelary with such; for instance, a community within the civitas of the Remi in Gaul adopted Apollo as its tutelary, and at the capital of the Remi (present-day Rheims), the tutelary was Mars Camulus.” ref 

Household deity (a kind of or related to a Tutelary deity)

“A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in paganism as well as in folklore across many parts of the world. Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity – typically a goddess – often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, such as the ancient Greek Hestia.” ref

“The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.” ref

“Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as “household gods” in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings, or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.” ref

“In many religions, both ancient and modern, a god would preside over the home. Certain species, or types, of household deities, existed. An example of this was the Roman Lares. Many European cultures retained house spirits into the modern period. Some examples of these include:

“Although the cosmic status of household deities was not as lofty as that of the Twelve Olympians or the Aesir, they were also jealous of their dignity and also had to be appeased with shrines and offerings, however humble. Because of their immediacy they had arguably more influence on the day-to-day affairs of men than the remote gods did. Vestiges of their worship persisted long after Christianity and other major religions extirpated nearly every trace of the major pagan pantheons. Elements of the practice can be seen even today, with Christian accretions, where statues to various saints (such as St. Francis) protect gardens and grottos. Even the gargoyles found on older churches, could be viewed as guardians partitioning a sacred space.” ref

“For centuries, Christianity fought a mop-up war against these lingering minor pagan deities, but they proved tenacious. For example, Martin Luther‘s Tischreden have numerous – quite serious – references to dealing with kobolds. Eventually, rationalism and the Industrial Revolution threatened to erase most of these minor deities, until the advent of romantic nationalism rehabilitated them and embellished them into objects of literary curiosity in the 19th century. Since the 20th century this literature has been mined for characters for role-playing games, video games, and other fantasy personae, not infrequently invested with invented traits and hierarchies somewhat different from their mythological and folkloric roots.” ref

“In contradistinction to both Herbert Spencer and Edward Burnett Tylor, who defended theories of animistic origins of ancestor worship, Émile Durkheim saw its origin in totemism. In reality, this distinction is somewhat academic, since totemism may be regarded as a particularized manifestation of animism, and something of a synthesis of the two positions was attempted by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, both totem and taboo are outward expressions or manifestations of the same psychological tendency, a concept which is complementary to, or which rather reconciles, the apparent conflict. Freud preferred to emphasize the psychoanalytic implications of the reification of metaphysical forces, but with particular emphasis on its familial nature. This emphasis underscores, rather than weakens, the ancestral component.” ref

William Edward Hearn, a noted classicist, and jurist, traced the origin of domestic deities from the earliest stages as an expression of animism, a belief system thought to have existed also in the neolithic, and the forerunner of Indo-European religion. In his analysis of the Indo-European household, in Chapter II “The House Spirit”, Section 1, he states:

The belief which guided the conduct of our forefathers was … the spirit rule of dead ancestors.” ref

“In Section 2 he proceeds to elaborate:

It is thus certain that the worship of deceased ancestors is a vera causa, and not a mere hypothesis. …

In the other European nations, the Slavs, the Teutons, and the Kelts, the House Spirit appears with no less distinctness. … [T]he existence of that worship does not admit of doubt. … The House Spirits had a multitude of other names which it is needless here to enumerate, but all of which are more or less expressive of their friendly relations with man. … In [England] … [h]e is the Brownie. … In Scotland this same Brownie is well known. He is usually described as attached to particular families, with whom he has been known to reside for centuries, threshing the corn, cleaning the house, and performing similar household tasks. His favorite gratification was milk and honey.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

ref, ref

Hinduism around 3,700 to 3,500 years old. ref

 Judaism around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (The first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew” dated to around 3,000 years ago Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley. And many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed around 2,500) ref, ref

Judaism is around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (“Paleo-Hebrew” 3,000 years ago and Torah 2,500 years ago)

“Judaism is an Abrahamic, its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars argue that modern Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, by the late 6th century BCE, and is thus considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions.” ref

“Yahwism is the name given by modern scholars to the religion of ancient Israel, essentially polytheistic, with a plethora of gods and goddesses. Heading the pantheon was Yahweh, the national god of the Israelite kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with his consort, the goddess Asherah; below them were second-tier gods and goddesses such as Baal, Shamash, Yarikh, Mot, and Astarte, all of whom had their own priests and prophets and numbered royalty among their devotees, and a third and fourth tier of minor divine beings, including the mal’ak, the messengers of the higher gods, who in later times became the angels of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yahweh, however, was not the ‘original’ god of Israel “Isra-El”; it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name “Israel”, and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic theophoric name (i.e., one incorporating the name of Yahweh).” ref

“El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity“, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic *ʔil-, meaning “god”. Specific deities known as ‘El or ‘Il include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period. ʼĒl is listed at the head of many pantheons. In some Canaanite and Ugaritic sources, ʼĒl played a role as father of the gods, of creation, or both. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “ʼĒl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad“. The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. In the Hebrew texts this word is interpreted as being semantically singular for “god” by biblical commentators. However the documentary hypothesis for the Old Testament (corresponds to the Jewish Torah) developed originally in the 1870s, identifies these that different authors – the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source – were responsible for editing stories from a polytheistic religion into those of a monotheistic religion. Inconsistencies that arise between monotheism and polytheism in the texts are reflective of this hypothesis.” ref


Jainism around 2,599 – 2,527 years old. ref

Confucianism around 2,600 – 2,551 years old. ref

Buddhism around 2,563/2,480 – 2,483/2,400 years old. ref

Christianity around 2,o00 years old. ref

Shinto around 1,305 years old. ref

Islam around 1407–1385 years old. ref

Sikhism around 548–478 years old. ref

Bahá’í around 200–125 years old. ref

Knowledge to Ponder: 


  • Possibly, around 30,000 years ago (in simpler form) to 6,000 years ago, Stars/Astrology are connected to Ancestors, Spirit Animals, and Deities.
  • The star also seems to be a possible proto-star for Star of Ishtar, Star of Inanna, or Star of Venus.
  • Around 7,000 to 6,000 years ago, Star Constellations/Astrology have connections to the “Kurgan phenomenon” of below-ground “mound” stone/wood burial structures and “Dolmen phenomenon” of above-ground stone burial structures.
  • Around 6,500–5,800 years ago, The Northern Levant migrations into Jordon and Israel in the Southern Levant brought new cultural and religious transfer from Turkey and Iran.
  • “The Ghassulian Star,” a mysterious 6,000-year-old mural from Jordan may have connections to the European paganstic kurgan/dolmens phenomenon.

“Astrology is a range of divinatory practices, recognized as pseudoscientific since the 18th century, that claim to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the apparent positions of celestial objects. Different cultures have employed forms of astrology since at least the 2nd millennium BCE, these practices having originated in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Most, if not all, cultures have attached importance to what they observed in the sky, and some—such as the HindusChinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from where it spread to Ancient GreeceRome, the Islamicate world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.” ref 

Around 5,500 years ago, Science evolves, The first evidence of science was 5,500 years ago and was demonstrated by a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world. ref

Around 5,000 years ago, Origin of Logics is a Naturalistic Observation (principles of valid reasoning, inference, & demonstration) ref

Around 4,150 to 4,000 years ago: The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which was originally titled “He who Saw the Deep” (Sha naqba īmuru) or “Surpassing All Other Kings” (Shūtur eli sharrī) were written. ref


  • 3,700 years ago or so, the oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed.
  • 3,500 years ago or so, the Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.


  • around 3,000 years ago, the first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew”
  • around 2,500 years ago, many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed

Myths: The bible inspired religion is not just one religion or one myth but a grouping of several religions and myths

  • Around 3,450 or 3,250 years ago, according to legend, is the traditionally accepted period in which the Israelite lawgiver, Moses, provided the Ten Commandments.
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament is the first part of Christianity’s bible.
  • Around 2,400 years ago, the most accepted hypothesis is that the canon was formed in stages, first the Pentateuch (Torah).
  • Around 2,140 to 2,116 years ago, the Prophets was written during the Hasmonean dynasty, and finally the remaining books.
  • Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections:
  • The first five books or Pentateuch (Torah).
  • The proposed history books telling the history of the Israelites from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon.
  • The poetic and proposed “Wisdom books” dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world.
  • The books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God:
  • Henotheism:
  • Exodus 20:23 “You shall not make other gods besides Me (not saying there are no other gods just not to worship them); gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.”
  • Polytheism:
  • Judges 10:6 “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords.”
  • Monotheism:
  • Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Around 2,570 to 2,270 Years Ago, there is a confirmation of atheistic doubting as well as atheistic thinking, mainly by Greek philosophers. However, doubting gods is likely as old as the invention of gods and should destroy the thinking that belief in god(s) is the “default belief”. The Greek word is apistos (a “not” and pistos “faithful,”), thus not faithful or faithless because one is unpersuaded and unconvinced by a god(s) claim. Short Definition: unbelieving, unbeliever, or unbelief.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Expressions of Atheistic Thinking:

  • Around 2,600 years ago, Ajita Kesakambali, ancient Indian philosopher, who is the first known proponent of Indian materialism. ref
  • Around 2,535 to 2,475 years ago, Heraclitus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor or modern Turkey. ref
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, according to The Story of Civilization book series certain African pygmy tribes have no identifiable gods, spirits, or religious beliefs or rituals, and even what burials accrue are without ceremony. ref
  • Around 2,490 to 2,430 years ago, Empedocles, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. ref
  • Around 2,460 to 2,370 years ago, Democritus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher considered to be the “father of modern science” possibly had some disbelief amounting to atheism. ref
  • Around 2,399 years ago or so, Socrates, a famous Greek philosopher was tried for sinfulness by teaching doubt of state gods. ref
  • Around 2,341 to 2,270 years ago, Epicurus, a Greek philosopher known for composing atheistic critics and famously stated, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?” ref

This last expression by Epicurus, seems to be an expression of Axiological Atheism. To understand and utilize value or actually possess “Value Conscious/Consciousness” to both give a strong moral “axiological” argument (the problem of evil) as well as use it to fortify humanism and positive ethical persuasion of human helping and care responsibilities. Because value-blindness gives rise to sociopathic/psychopathic evil.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

While hallucinogens are associated with shamanism, it is alcohol that is associated with paganism.

The Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries Shows in the prehistory series:

Show one: Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses.

Show two: Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show tree: Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show four: Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show five: Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show six: Emergence of hierarchy, sexism, slavery, and the new male god dominance: Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves!

Show seven: Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State)

Show eight: Paganism 4,000 years old: Moralistic gods after the rise of Statism and often support Statism/Kings: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism)

Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses: VIDEO

Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Pre-Capitalism): VIDEO

Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves: VIEDO

Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State): VIEDO

Paganism 4,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism): VIEDO

I do not hate simply because I challenge and expose myths or lies any more than others being thought of as loving simply because of the protection and hiding from challenge their favored myths or lies.

The truth is best championed in the sunlight of challenge.

An archaeologist once said to me “Damien religion and culture are very different”

My response, So are you saying that was always that way, such as would you say Native Americans’ cultures are separate from their religions? And do you think it always was the way you believe?

I had said that religion was a cultural product. That is still how I see it and there are other archaeologists that think close to me as well. Gods too are the myths of cultures that did not understand science or the world around them, seeing magic/supernatural everywhere.

I personally think there is a goddess and not enough evidence to support a male god at Çatalhöyük but if there was both a male and female god and goddess then I know the kind of gods they were like Proto-Indo-European mythology.

This series idea was addressed in, Anarchist Teaching as Free Public Education or Free Education in the Public: VIDEO

Our 12 video series: Organized Oppression: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of power (9,000-4,000 years ago), is adapted from: The Complete and Concise History of the Sumerians and Early Bronze Age Mesopotamia (7000-2000 BC): by “History with Cy

Show #1: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Samarra, Halaf, Ubaid)

Show #2: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Eridu: First City of Power)

Show #3: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Uruk and the First Cities)

Show #4: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (First Kings)

Show #5: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Early Dynastic Period)

Show #6: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (King Lugalzagesi and the First Empire)

Show #7: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Sargon and Akkadian Rule)

Show #8: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Naram-Sin, Post-Akkadian Rule, and the Gutians)

Show #9: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Gudea of Lagash and Utu-hegal)

Show #10: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Third Dynasty of Ur / Neo-Sumerian Empire)

Show #11: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Amorites, Elamites, and the End of an Era)

Show #12: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Aftermath and Legacy of Sumer)

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

The “Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries”

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ Atheist Leftist @Skepticallefty & I (Damien Marie AtHope) @AthopeMarie (my YouTube & related blog) are working jointly in atheist, antitheist, antireligionist, antifascist, anarchist, socialist, and humanist endeavors in our videos together, generally, every other Saturday.

Why Does Power Bring Responsibility?

Think, how often is it the powerless that start wars, oppress others, or commit genocide? So, I guess the question is to us all, to ask, how can power not carry responsibility in a humanity concept? I know I see the deep ethical responsibility that if there is power their must be a humanistic responsibility of ethical and empathic stewardship of that power. Will I be brave enough to be kind? Will I possess enough courage to be compassionate? Will my valor reach its height of empathy? I as everyone, earns our justified respect by our actions, that are good, ethical, just, protecting, and kind. Do I have enough self-respect to put my love for humanity’s flushing, over being brought down by some of its bad actors? May we all be the ones doing good actions in the world, to help human flourishing.

I create the world I want to live in, striving for flourishing. Which is not a place but a positive potential involvement and promotion; a life of humanist goal precision. To master oneself, also means mastering positive prosocial behaviors needed for human flourishing. I may have lost a god myth as an atheist, but I am happy to tell you, my friend, it is exactly because of that, leaving the mental terrorizer, god belief, that I truly regained my connected ethical as well as kind humanity.

Cory and I will talk about prehistory and theism, addressing the relevance to atheism, anarchism, and socialism.

At the same time as the rise of the male god, 7,000 years ago, there was also the very time there was the rise of violence, war, and clans to kingdoms, then empires, then states. It is all connected back to 7,000 years ago, and it moved across the world.

Cory Johnston:  

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist (YouTube)

Cory Johnston: Mind of a Skeptical Leftist @Skepticallefty

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist By Cory Johnston: “Promoting critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics by covering current events and talking to a variety of people. Cory Johnston has been thoughtfully talking to people and attempting to promote critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics.”

Cory needs our support. We rise by helping each other.

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ @Skepticallefty Evidence-based atheist leftist (he/him) Producer, host, and co-host of 4 podcasts @skeptarchy @skpoliticspod and @AthopeMarie

Damien Marie AtHope (“At Hope”) Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, Psychology, and Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Historian.

Damien is interested in: Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Ethics, Humanism, Science, Atheism, Antiteism, Antireligionism, Ignosticism, Left-Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism, Mutualism, Axiology, Metaphysics, LGBTQI, Philosophy, Advocacy, Activism, Mental Health, Psychology, Archaeology, Social Work, Sexual Rights, Marriage Rights, Woman’s Rights, Gender Rights, Child Rights, Secular Rights, Race Equality, Ageism/Disability Equality, Etc. And a far-leftist, “Anarcho-Humanist.”

I am not a good fit in the atheist movement that is mostly pro-capitalist, I am anti-capitalist. Mostly pro-skeptic, I am a rationalist not valuing skepticism. Mostly pro-agnostic, I am anti-agnostic. Mostly limited to anti-Abrahamic religions, I am an anti-religionist. 

To me, the “male god” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 7,000 years ago, whereas the now favored monotheism “male god” is more like 4,000 years ago or so. To me, the “female goddess” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 11,000-10,000 years ago or so, losing the majority of its once prominence around 2,000 years ago due largely to the now favored monotheism “male god” that grow in prominence after 4,000 years ago or so. 

My Thought on the Evolution of Gods?

Animal protector deities from old totems/spirit animal beliefs come first to me, 13,000/12,000 years ago, then women as deities 11,000/10,000 years ago, then male gods around 7,000/8,000 years ago. Moralistic gods around 5,000/4,000 years ago, and monotheistic gods around 4,000/3,000 years ago. 

“Animism” is needed to begin supernatural thinking.
“Totemism” is needed for supernatural thinking connecting human actions & related to clan/tribe.
“Shamanism” is needed for supernatural thinking to be controllable/changeable by special persons.
Together = Gods/paganism

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Damien Marie AtHope (Said as “At” “Hope”)/(Autodidact Polymath but not good at math):

Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist, Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Jeweler, Poet, “autodidact” Philosopher, schooled in Psychology, and “autodidact” Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Pre-Historian (Knowledgeable in the range of: 1 million to 5,000/4,000 years ago). I am an anarchist socialist politically. Reasons for or Types of Atheism

My Website, My Blog, & Short-writing or QuotesMy YouTube, Twitter: @AthopeMarie, and My Email:

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