Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

HISTORY.COM EDITORS * UPDATED:AUG 21, 2018*ORIGINAL:FEB 28, 2018

Angkor Wat is an enormous Buddhist temple complex located in northern Cambodia. It was originally built in the first half of the 12th century as a Hindu temple. Spread across more than 400 acres, Angkor Wat is said to be the largest religious monument in the world. Its name, which translates to “temple city” in the Khmer language of the region, references the fact it was built by Emperor Suryavarman II, who ruled the region from 1113 to 1150, as the state temple and political center of his empire.

Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century.

Although it is no longer an active temple, it serves as an important tourist attraction in Cambodia, despite the fact it sustained significant damage during the autocratic rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and in earlier regional conflicts.

Where Is Angkor Wat?

Angkor Wat is located roughly five miles north of the modern Cambodian city of Siem Reap, which has a population of more than 200,000 people.

However, when it was built, it served as the capital of the Khmer empire, which ruled the region at the time. The word “Angkor” means “capital city” in the Khmer language, while the word “Wat” means “temple.”

Initially, Angkor Wat was designed as a Hindu temple, as that was the religion of the region’s ruler at the time, Suryavarman II. However, by the end of the 12th century, it was considered a Buddhist site.

Unfortunately, by then, Angkor Wat had been sacked by a rival tribe to the Khmer, who in turn, at the direction of the new emperor, Jayavarman VII, moved their capital to Angkor Thom and their state temple to Bayon, both of which are a few miles to the north of the historic site.

As Angkor Wat’s significance within the Buddhist religion of the region increased, so too did the legend surrounding the site. Many Buddhists believe the temple’s construction was ordered by the god Indra, and that the work was accomplished in one night.

However, scholars now know it took several decades to build Angkor Wat, from the design phase to completion.

Angkor Wat’s Design

Although Angkor Wat was no longer a site of political, cultural or commercial significance by the 13th century, it remained an important monument for the Buddhist religion into the 1800s.

Indeed, unlike many historical sites, Angkor Wat was never truly abandoned. Rather, it fell gradually into disuse and disrepair.

Nonetheless, it remained an architectural marvel unlike anything else. It was “rediscovered” in 1840s by the French explorer Henri Mouhot, who wrote that the site was “grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome.”

The compliment can likely be attributed to the temple’s design, which is supposed to represent Mount Meru, the home of the gods, according to tenets of both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Its five towers are intended to recreate the five peaks of Mount Meru, while the walls and moat below honor the surrounding mountain ranges and the sea.

By the time of the site’s construction, the Khmer had developed and refined their own architectural style, which relied on sandstone. As a result, Angkor Wat was constructed with blocks of sandstone.

A 15-foot high wall, surrounded by a wide moat, protected the city, the temple and residents from invasion, and much of that fortification is still standing. A sandstone causeway served as the main access point for the temple.

Inside these walls, Angkor Wat stretches across more than 200 acres. It’s believed that this area included the city, the temple structure and the emperor’s palace, which was just north of the temple.

However, in keeping with tradition at the time, only the city’s outer walls and the temple were made of sandstone, with the rest of the structures built from wood and other, less durable materials. Hence, only portions of the temple and city wall remain.

Even so, the temple is still a majestic structure: At its highest point—the tower above the main shrine—it reaches nearly 70 feet into the air.

The temple walls are decorated with thousands of bas-reliefs representing important deities and figures in the Hindu and Buddhist religions as well as key events in its narrative tradition. There is also a bas-relief depicting Emperor Suryavarman II entering the city, perhaps for the first time following its construction.

Angkor Wat Today

Unfortunately, although Angkor Wat remained in use until fairly recently—into the 1800s—the site has sustained significant damage, from forest overgrowth to earthquakes to war.

The French, who ruled what is now known as Cambodia for much of the 20th century, established a commission to restore the site for tourism purposes in the early 1900s. This group also oversaw ongoing archeological projects there.

While restoration work was accomplished in bits and pieces under French rule, major efforts didn’t begin in earnest until the 1960s. By then, Cambodia was a country transitioning from colonial rule to a limited form of constitutional monarchy.

When Cambodia fell into a brutal civil war in the 1970s, Angkor Wat, somewhat miraculously, sustained relatively minimal damage. The autocratic and barbarous Khmer Rouge regime did battle troops from neighboring Vietnam in the area near the ancient city, and there are bullet holes marking its outer walls as a result.

Since then, with the Cambodian government undergoing numerous changes, the international community, including representatives of India, Germany and France, among others, have contributed to the ongoing restoration efforts.

The site remains an important source of national pride for Cambodians.

In 1992, it was named United Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. Although visitors to Angkor Wat numbered in just the few thousands at the time, the landmark now welcomes some 500,000 visitors each year—many of whom arrive early in the morning to capture images of the sunrise over what still is a very magical, spiritual place.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/01/26/angkor-wat/

https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/angkor-wat

Giving thanks can make you happier

August 14, 2021

Giving thanks can make you happier

Each holiday season comes with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. However, for many this time of year is tinged with sadness, anxiety, or depression. Certainly, major depression or a severe anxiety disorder benefits most from professional help. But what about those who just feel lost or overwhelmed or down at this time of year? Research (and common sense) suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — being grateful.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.

Research on gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

Other studies have looked at how being grateful  can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

There are some notable exceptions to the generally positive results in research on gratitude. One study found that middle-aged divorced women who kept gratitude journals were no more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. Another study found that children and adolescents who wrote and delivered a thank-you letter to someone who made a difference in their lives may have made the other person happier — but did not improve their own well-being. This finding suggests that gratitude is an attainment associated with emotional maturity.

Ways to cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/01/19/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier#:~:text=In%20positive%20psychology%20research%2C%20gratitude,adversity%2C%20and%20build%20strong%20relationships.

Maitreya Buddha – The Future Buddha

Maitreya Buddha
Maitreya Buddha is said to be Future Buddha. In various Buddhist sutra such as Amitabha Sutra, as well as Lotus Sutra, Maitreya Buddha is believed to be called as Ajita.

Maitreya Buddha

In the world of Buddhist eschatologyMaitreya literally means the future BuddhaMaitreya Buddha is considered as the 5th Buddha that is believed to appear in this Kalpa or era. Thus, Maitreya Buddha is considered as the Future Buddha that is yet to appear in this age. In various Buddhist sutra such as Amitabha Sutra, as well as Lotus SutraMaitreya Buddha is believed to be called as Ajita.

According to Buddhist history and tradition, Maitreya Buddha is believed to be Bodhisattva who will appear in the Earth in the future, will achieve Nirvana and will teach the people of Earth the pure Dharma just like Shakyamuni Buddha did. According to the Buddhist texts as well scriptures, Maitreya Buddha will be considered as the successor of the living Buddha i.e. Gautama Buddha. The Prophecy of Maitreya Buddha coming back to the terrestrial world is written in most of the major Schools of Buddhism in many Buddhist countries

Attributes of Maitreya Buddha

Maitreya Buddha - The future Buddha

Many Maitreya Buddha statues, Buddha images are shown with different attributes as well as Hand mudras as well as postures. The Maitreya Buddha statues are represented with all the attributes that must be in the attributes of Bodhisattva. Most of the Buddha statues of Maitreya Buddha are pdepicted with both hands using Dharmachakra Mudra.

Maitreya Buddha is also represented as holding lotus flower in each hand of the statues. Each hands also possessed a Wheel of Dharma as well a ritual base. Both Wheel of Dharmaas well as ritual vase are shown on the top of lotus flower. The wheel of dharma on the top of lotus shows that maitreya Buddha emphasize his mission to spread and teach Dharma to all beings. While the Ritual vase on the top of lotus shows that Maitreya Buddha will be born in the family of low cast while Buddhist history shows that Shakyamuni Buddha was born in the family of high cast.

Laughing Buddha as Maitreya Buddha

Laughing Buddha is shown as the next Maitreya Buddha in the Chinese BuddhismLaughing Buddha is also believed to be a Bodhisattva and will be the next Matreya Buddha. There are various Buddha statues that represents Maitreya Buddha but Laughing Buddha is one of the most popular known Buddha in the whole world especially for his fat belly and smiling face.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/01/12/maitreya-buddha/

https://www.burmese-art.com/blog/maitreya-buddha

Buddhist Beliefs

Buddhist Beliefs

What are Buddhist Beliefs? All living beings have the same basic wish to be happy and avoid suffering, but very few people understand the real causes of happiness and suffering.

We generally believe that external conditions such as food, friends, cars, and money are the real causes of happiness, and as a result we devote nearly all our time and energy to acquiring these. Superficially it seems that these things can make us happy, but if we look more deeply we shall see that they also bring us a lot of suffering and problems.

Happiness and suffering are opposites, so if something is a real cause of happiness it cannot give rise to suffering. If food, money, and so forth really are causes of happiness, they can never be causes of suffering; yet we know from our own experience that they often do cause suffering. For example, one of our main interests is food, but the food we eat is also the principal cause of most of our ill health and sickness.

In the process of producing the things we feel will make us happy, we have polluted our environment to such an extent that the very air we breathe and the water we drink now threaten our health and well-being. We love the freedom and independence a car can give us, but the cost in accidents and environmental destruction is enormous.

We feel that money is essential for us to enjoy life, but the pursuit of money also causes immense problems and anxiety. Even our family and friends, with whom we enjoy so many happy moments, can also bring us a lot of worry and heartache.

In recent years our understanding and control of the external world have increased considerably, and as a result, we have witnessed remarkable material progress; but there has not been a corresponding increase in human happiness.

There is no less suffering in the world today, and there are no fewer problems. Indeed, it could be said that there are now more problems and greater unhappiness than ever before. This shows that the solution to our problems, and to those of society as a whole, does not lie in knowledge or control of the external world.

Why is this? Happiness and suffering are states of mind, and so their main causes cannot be found outside the mind. The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful, we shall be happy all the time, regardless of external conditions, but if it is disturbed or troubled in any way, we shall never be happy, no matter how good our external conditions may be.

External conditions can only make us happy if our mind is peaceful. We can understand this through our own experience. For instance, even if we are in the most beautiful surroundings and have everything we need, the moment we get angry any happiness we may have disappears. This is because anger has destroyed our inner peace.

We can see from this that if we want true, lasting happiness we need to develop and maintain a special experience of inner peace. The only way to do this is by training our mind through spiritual practice – gradually reducing and eliminating our negative, disturbed states of mind and replacing them with positive, peaceful states.

Eventually, through continuing to improve our inner peace we shall experience permanent inner peace, or “nirvana.” Once we have attained nirvana we shall be happy throughout our life, and in life after life. We shall have solved all our problems and accomplished the true meaning of our human life.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/01/05/buddhist-beliefs/

https://www.kadampanewyork.org/buddhistbeliefs