The Devil

By | Feb 20, 2017 | Views: 778
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Introduction

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
– William Shakespeare

The image of the Devil per the Codex Gigas (also known as The Devil's Bible) created in the 12th Century by a Benedictine monk in what is now the modern day Czech Republic.

The image of the Devil per the Codex Gigas (also known as The Devil’s Bible) created in the 12th Century by a Benedictine monk in what is now the modern day Czech Republic.

A Brief History of the Devil

The Devil, which is the universal symbol of all things wicked, heinous, corrupt and destructive is ever present in the awareness of the people of all cultures today. So common is the knowledge of the Devil that one imagines that this embodiment of evil has existed from the beginning of time itself. Strangely, before the emergence of Western monotheistic (a single all-powerful God) ideas, there was in fact no concept of a singular ‘lord’ of evil, no cosmic enemy and no Devil or Satan. There were gods of darkness, death, the underworld and other things that we could associate with ‘evil’ but no single and exclusive embodiment of all things nefarious and beastly as the biblical ‘Satan’.

In Western monotheistic traditions which covers Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a central figure which is known as The Devil is believed to be behind all that is wrong and malefic in the world. In other words the primary role of the Devil, in its various manifestations in these faiths, is to create a rejection of God and spiritual attainment, and the embrace instead of our present secular world characterised by avarice, conflict, desire and materialism. The Devil is portrayed as being the engineer of all undesirable things – pain, disease, natural disasters, mental instability and other evil and “negative” elements.

Eastern traditions and religions on the other hand are primarily polytheistic (presence of multiple gods) in nature, with many gods and goddesses possessing both dark sides as well as good ones. A large proportion of deities in the pantheon of Eastern religions are capable of both good and evil, and can equally bestow fortune or inflict injury depending on whether you were on their good or bad side and these sides are in turn given individual names and personification. There is no clear dichotomy of good and evil as is the case in Western religions and the concept of the Devil/Satan has historically been a Western one.

 

A brief history of good and evil

Chalk drawing depicting Ahura Mazda, the Winged God and embodiment of good, and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) who was the embodiment of evil.

Chalk drawing depicting Ahura Mazda, the Winged God and embodiment of good, and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) who was the embodiment of evil.

In almost all languages today we find expressions and words denoting ‘good’ and ‘bad’. It follows that in civilisations and communities with such expressions, there is a moral divide and the concepts of “right versus wrong” and “good versus bad” are distinctive and absolute.

During the ancient or early historic period of civilisations a clear example of the crystallisation of “good versus evil” ideal is seen in eastern ancient Persia, almost 3000 years ago. A religious philosopher named Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit), both of whom are in conflict with one another.

At the same time when Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu took shape as opposing entities, the West similarly witnessed the formation of a “good versus evil” notion in religions. Around 400 BC, during the Greco-Roman period, words describing “bad, cowardly” and “good, brave, capable” in their absolute sense started to emerge, as reflected in the thinking of pre-Socratic philosophers like Democritus the Greek. During their time, this “good and evil” dichotomy morphed from being a relative concept to an absolute one and over time, polarised into extremes giving rise to the dualistic belief that the material world should be shunned and the spiritual world embraced. Thus monotheism was born.

Another depiction by Zoroaster between the two opposing forces - Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Interestingly, evil was not depicted in the form of the Devil as we have come to know.

Another depiction by Zoroaster between the two opposing forces – Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Interestingly, evil was not depicted in the form of the Devil as we have come to know.

Moving into the Medieval Era, the “good versus evil” duality was shaped primarily by early Christian theologians, St Augustine of Hippo (Algeria) and St Thomas Aquinas (Italy). According to St Augustine of Hippo, sin was “a word, deed, or desire that stands in opposition to the eternal law of God”. Today, we see the basic contrast being defined along these lines – “good” is a broad concept often associated with life, kindness, charity, happiness, love and justice whereas bad or evil is often associated with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, discrimination designed to harm others, humiliation of people designed to diminish their psychological needs and dignity, destructiveness and acts of unnecessary and indiscriminate violence.

Differing views also exist as to why evil might arise. Many religious and philosophical traditions claim that evil behaviour is an aberration that results from the imperfect human condition. Sometimes, evil is attributed to the existence of free will. Some argue that evil itself is ultimately based on an ignorance of truth. A variety of thinkers from the Enlightenment period of history suggested that evil is learned as a consequence of tyrannical social structures. Interestingly, there never was a single and agreed source of evil.

Saint Augustine of Hippo who developed many theories and philosophy that impacted the medieval world view

Saint Augustine of Hippo who developed many theories and philosophy that impacted the medieval world view

 

‘Evil’ by Western interpretations

The concept of a single deity representing evil, such as Satan or the Devil, highlights the difference between Western monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism.

What most people mean today by the Devil is a concept that is at home only in Western monotheistic religions. In fact, the Devil is only really possible in these religions because the very nature of this character is as an antagonist or adversary to a single God. The essence of this being is that he is the negative counterpart to God. Here are some examples of how the Devil functions in these religions.

In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) a malevolent force is called a satan (Hebrew for “adversary”) and though he rarely appears in the texts, one may locate him in the first chapter of Job trying to undermine Job’s credibility and thereby God’s discernment. In truth, Satan makes scant appearance prior to the New Testament (known to have been in existence since 70 AD to 96 AD) and in fact there is no mention of Satan in Genesis which was written roughly in 700 to 600 BC.

In the Christian New Testament, the imagery of the Devil takes on a much clearer shape as Satan and he attempts to counteract God’s work of redemption at every point. The Gospels speak of Satan’s testing of Jesus in the wilderness. In Mark, he is named as Satan. In Matthew and Luke, he is the “tester” or “the Devil”. In Luke, the Devil promises Jesus worldly glory if the Son of God would pay proper homage to him. In Luke 10, Jesus comments that he has seen Satan “fallen like lightning from the sky”, a reference similar to the fall of Lucifer in Isaiah that is probably a prophecy of a fall to come, not one that occurred in the past. Luke also states that Satan entered into Judas to induce him to betray Jesus. The Gospel of John makes several references to the Devil. In the first, he is the “man killer from the beginning” who does not stand for truth, a reference often taken to refer to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Jesus refers to him as the Ruler of the World.

The temptation of the Son of God by Satan, as depicted in the New Testament

The temptation of the Son of God by Satan, as depicted in the New Testament

The Devil and Satan are both mentioned in reference to entering into the heart of Judas. The Epistles refer to both the Devil and Satan. Paul refers to Satan by name as obstructing his efforts to spread the gospel, as a tester of men’s morals and faith, and as an agent of punishment for the wicked. In 2 Corinthians 2.10 – 11, Paul indicates that Satan has his own designs on the world, and that forgiveness will outwit Satan. In the same letter, Paul urges people to be on guard against Satan, who can disguise himself as an angel of light.

In Judaism, the concept of the Devil as the head of the realm of darkness developed slowly. The Hebrew Bible mentioned the “Morning Star” that had fallen from heaven or “cast down to earth” (in Isaiah). “Morning Star” has been widely translated into Latin as ‘Lucifer’ (Light-bearer). By the 1st Century BC, this concept had evolved and become associated directly with the figure of Satan as having been the same as Lucifer, now seen as a fallen archangel.

There is also a Devil in Islam and he is called Iblis as well as Shaitan and the Qur’an tells us that he was too proud to bow down before God’s creation (Adam) as God had instructed (Qur’an 2:34).

Muslims regard the Devil not as a counterpart to God, but rather merely a fallen angel who chose pride over God. But there is in fact a twist. By some interpretations, Shaitan in fact has God’s permission to use temptation to test souls. He has no power over those who love God, and is most potent against those who have relinquished their belief in the one God. The Devil is therefore part of Allah’s grand scheme and is part of His plan which involves testing and punishment.

The Shaitan or Iblis in the Qur'an is a creation of Allah (God) as part of his grand scheme

The Shaitan or Iblis in the Qur’an is a creation of Allah (God) as part of his grand scheme

Iblis is mentioned nine times in the Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam revealed to the prophet Muhammad gradually over a period of 23 years from 609 CE to 632 CE. Seven of these nine references concern his fall from God’s grace.

Islamic scholars frequently discuss the essence of Iblis. Because he was in heaven and among the angels, some believe he could be an angel. But otherwise, he is called a djinn, or a spirit of lower rank than the angels, in Surah 18:50. Academics who reject the angelic nature of Iblis argue if he were an angel, he would not disobey God´s command. Again, there is an absence of a definitive nature of the the Shaitan or Devil.

Interestingly, in all cultures and religions that acknowledge the Devil, he is regarded as a creature who owes his very existence to the fact that God made him, but he does not let this fact stand in the way of his making himself God’s adversary whenever possible. These religions differ in the degrees of power they ascribe to the Devil but all share a basic fundamental opposition to the forces of ‘good’.

Nowhere is Satan and the Devil seen in such clear definition as the personification of evil and the head of all demonic elements than in the New Testament of the Christian religion. At some point – the origin is unclear – Satan becomes the ruler of hell and the chief tormenter of souls of the dead. This concept was more firmly cemented by way of literature such as those authored by Dante (14th Century) and John Milton (18th Century). In any case, from the 16th Century onwards the Devil took singular form and assumed the role as tempter of Man.

However, by the coming of the 18th Century the depiction of the Devil as a single and all-powerful embodiment of evil was seen as somewhat antiquarian and superstitious by leading theologians. As argued by the influential German minister of the reformed (Protestant) church Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834), the previous understanding of Satan as the prince of darkness was ‘unenlightened’ as according to him and his contemporaries at the time, Satan did not exist except to be used as a convenient metaphor to evil.

The dawn of the 20th Century saw again the rising emergence of Satan, partly as a result of the increase of fundamentalism in Christianity as well as a deepening interest of demonic possession and exorcism in popular culture.

 

‘Evil’ by Eastern interpretations

In Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern traditions there is a fundamental ambiguity underlying the concept of the Devil. In brief, there is no such singular personification of an adversary of a powerful one-God because such definitions are simply absent in these traditions.

For example, within the Hindu pantheon, there is an army of spirits but no one Devil. Indian religions, including Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Jainism, espouse a universe populated by many spirits and elementals. There are spirits that live on the lowest rungs of the cosmos in hell, there are hungry ghosts that roam the earth, there are the many spirits that reside in homes, rice fields and forests. Then there are also the mighty and sometimes malevolent spirits, called the Asuras who possesses great power.

In some of the earliest writings of Hinduism, there were two kinds of divine beings – the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (lords). Originally there was no particular distinction between them as being good or evil, but the stories about them include warfare and the Devas are certain to triumph over the Asuras. For example, the Deva Indra defeated the Asura Varuna. As Hindu thought developed the Asuras assumed increasingly malicious roles, causing harm and creating conflict with the Devas. In the epic poems and the puranas, Asuras were the enemies of the great heroes, such as the evil Lord Ravana who was defeated by Rama and his able assistant Hanuman.

Battle scene between the armies of the Devas and the Asuras (University of Oxford, England)

Battle scene between the armies of the Devas and the Asuras (University of Oxford, England)

A modern painting of the Asura Lord Ravana, the main antagonist in the Ramayana

A modern painting of the Asura Lord Ravana, the main antagonist in the Ramayana

But here’s the twist – one should not think of the Asuras as essentially and thoroughly evil. They frequently conducted evil activities and there is no question that they were the enemies of the Devas. Still, in the end they were only after the same thing as the Devas, namely power and glory. It is also essential to note that the Devas themselves are morally vague. When one reads the stories of Indra, Shiva, Krishna and not to mention the blood-thirsty Kali, one realises that the gods are not necessarily all that pleasant either. Generally speaking, Devas “act” better than the Asuras but they do not carry all-good positions, just as the Asuras are not truly all-evil.

In terms of Buddhism, many supernatural creatures populate Buddhist literature, but among these Mara is unique. He is one of the earliest non-human beings to appear in Buddhist scriptures as an “evil” spirit who played a significant role in Buddha’s ascension to enlightenment. He is the god of lightning, seduction, temptation, sensuality and death.
Before he became the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama in his final watch sat in meditation and Mara brought his most beautiful daughters to seduce Siddhartha. Siddhartha however remained focused in meditation. Mara then sent vast armies of monsters to attack him. Yet Siddhartha sat still, untouched. Finally, Mara claimed that the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him and not to the mortal Siddhartha. As Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama became Buddha, the Enlightened One.

Various depictions of Mara attacking the Buddha. However, in Buddhism Mara is not regarded as the primary embodiment of evil. In fact, in the Buddhist religion, both good and evil rest within the practitioner.

Various depictions of Mara attacking the Buddha. However, in Buddhism Mara is not regarded as the primary embodiment of evil. In fact, in the Buddhist religion, both good and evil rest within the practitioner.

Is Mara the Buddhist equivalent of Satan? Although there are some obvious parallels between Mara and the Devil or Satan of monotheistic religions, there are also many significant differences. Mara is a relatively minor figure in Buddhist mythology compared to Satan. Satan is the Lord of Hell in the monotheistic religions whereas Mara is the lord only of the highest Deva heaven of the Desire world of Triloka, an allegorical representation of reality adapted from Hinduism. One may even argue that Mara served the Lord Buddha by manifesting seduction, temptation and warfare to attack Buddha and in turn precipitate his enlightenment.

 

“Evil” in early history interpretations

Ancient mythologies, generally speaking, share common traits with Eastern polytheistic religions e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism, where the morality of the gods and goddesses are somewhat ambiguous and lacking in clear demarcations. Good and evil in that period is relative, not absolute. Sumerian, Egyptian and Greek religions provide clear examples of this thought.

 

Sumer

Sumer was the first urban civilisation in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, in what is now modern-day southern Iraq and it was arguably the first civilisation in the world alongside Ancient Egypt. The Sumerian belief systems influenced Mesopotamian mythology as a whole and survived the mythologies and religions of the Akkadians (Babylonians and Assyrians) and other culture groups.

In the Sumerian belief there is no imagery of Satan, the Devil or any kind of single all-powerful deity ruling an array of evil spirits. These evil spirits often serve as agents of ill tidings leading to catharsis, renewal and revitalisation.

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, the Gallus were great demons that hauled unfortunate victims off to the underworld. They were one of seven devils of Babylonian theology that could be appeased by the sacrifice of a lamb at the altar. One of the most well known gallu was known as Asag (Asakku), that would attache itself to human beings and kill them with fever and diseases related to the head. Asag is also mentioned in the Sumerian poem Lugale – his depiction was hideously rendered and he possessed the power to make fish boil in their rivers. The poem tells of how Asag battled the hero Ninurta and was defeated. This allowed Ninurta to organise the world and use stones to construct the mountains so that streams and lakes flow into the Tigris and Euphrates thereby aiding irrigation for agriculture, leading to ideal environments for permanent settlement and thereby civilisation taking root.

A stone relief depicting the hero Ninurta defeating Asag, also known as Assaku

A stone relief depicting the hero Ninurta defeating Asag, also known as Assaku

Amongst the the most powerful Sumerian demons is the Maskim who are a collection of seven demons regarded as the princes of hell. Maskim means “ensnarer” or “layers of ambush”. Azza, Azazel and Mephistopheles are among the Maskim. Sumerian descriptions of the Maskim say that they have the ability to disrupt planets and cosmic order. They can cause earthquakes and alter the course of the stars in the sky. They have also been known to attack humans with the most severe evil and spells.

Azazel, a powerful Sumerian demon but not regarded as an equivalent to Satan in the Christian religion

Azazel, a powerful Sumerian demon but not regarded as an equivalent to Satan in the Christian religion

 

Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, which formed around 3150 BC, beliefs in the divine and the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilisation from its inception; pharaonic rule was based on the divine right of kings. The Egyptian pantheon was populated by gods who had supernatural powers and were called upon to help or protect. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent. Egyptian gods embodied qualities of both good and evil, but the god Set personified more of the dark side than others.

Set or Seth was a Lord of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Ancient Greek, the god’s name was given as Sēth. Set was not a god to be avoided or shunned – though he was a dark force, he also held positive roles in ancient Egypt and Greece.

Set (left) with Horus (right) worshipping the Crown Prince Ramesses (Abu Simbel, Egypt)

Set (left) with Horus (right) worshipping the Crown Prince Ramesses (Abu Simbel, Egypt)

All around ancient Egypt were monuments erected in worship of Set, referring to him as “the powerful one of Thebes,” and “Ruler of the South”. Set’s pictures are easily recognised by his long, erect and square-tipped ears and his proboscis-like snout, which are said to indicate the head of a fabulous animal called the Oryx.

As an enemy to life, Set was identified with all forms of destruction. “He was the waning of the moon, the decrease of the waters of the Nile, and the setting of the sun”. But he was not alike Satan or any kind of evil deity. He was officially worshipped in a province west of the Nile, the starting point of the road to the northern oasis. The inhabitants, who were shepherds and guides to desert caravans, had good reasons to remain on friendly terms with the Lord of the desert. They regarded Set, or Sutech, as the only true God, the sole deity who alone was worthy of receiving divine honours. A great temple was also devoted to Set, as the god of war, in Tanis, near the swamps between the eastern branches of the Delta, an important town of the frontier.

Set was revered as the god of irresistible power, brute force, war, destruction as well as protection. Set was employed by the sun god Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos known as Apep. Set also held a vital role as a reconciled combatant and as he was Lord of the desert, he was the balance to Horus’s role as Lord of the black land (soil). In spite of the terror which he inspired, Set was originally not merely an evil demon but one of the great deities, who, as such, was feared and propitiated.

The pharaoh and second king of the 19th dynasty of Egypt Seti I (1294 BC to 1279 BC) derived his name from Set as a sign of high honour in which he was held among the shepherd kings.

 

Ancient Greece

Greek mythology features a religion and folklore with forces of both good and evil. In the pantheons of gods and goddesses, they are both benevolent and malevolent, and though some are mostly evil they are seldom completely so. The job of the more malevolent gods and goddesses is to tear things down via disaster, illness and death – they are essential in the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth.

An ancient statue of Hades alongside Cerberus, the hound and guard of the Underworld gates

An ancient statue of Hades alongside Cerberus, the hound and guard of the Underworld gates

In Greek mythology the Underworld is where souls go after death, and is the original Greek idea of afterlife. At the moment of death the soul is separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and is transported to the entrance of the Underworld. The Underworld itself is described as being either at the outer bounds of the ocean or beneath the depths or ends of the earth. It is considered the dark counterpart to the brightness of Mount Olympus, and is the kingdom of the dead that corresponds to the kingdom of the gods.

As ancient Greek mythology carry neither wholly good or wholly bad gods and goddesses, the most Devil-like character of the ancient Greek pantheon would be Hades, the eldest son of titans Cronus and Rhea and brother to Zeus and Poseidon. When the three brothers divided the world between themselves, Zeus received the heavens, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld. While Hades’s responsibility was in the underworld, he was allowed to have power on earth as well.

In art and literature Hades is depicted as stern and dignified, but not a fierce torturer or Satan-like in the least. However, he was considered the enemy to all life and was hated by both the gods and men; sacrifices and prayers did not appease him so mortals rarely tried. Though he ruled the underworld he was a benevolent keeper and exercised hospitality to the dead – there is no record of Hades tormenting those in the underworld. In Greek society, many viewed Hades as the least liked god and even the gods had an aversion towards him.

 

The origin of the Devil as “the horned beast”

Levi's famed Baphomet or Sabbatical Goat. The arms bear the Latin terms 'Solve' (meaning ‘to separate’) and 'Coagula' (meaning ‘to join together’), denoting the binding and loosening powers of the Devil.

Levi’s famed Baphomet or Sabbatical Goat. The arms bear the Latin terms ‘Solve’ (meaning ‘to separate’) and ‘Coagula’ (meaning ‘to join together’), denoting the binding and loosening powers of the Devil.

Whether you call him Satan, Lucifer or Mephistopheles, he is popularly seen as a bestial figure with even more faces than he has names. Over the past five centuries, artists have variously depicted the Devil as a fanged, horned and cloven-footed demon.

From around the 1500s and 1600s, Satan was portrayed as a horned beast with fur covering his body and he was regarded as the great enemy of Christ, the Church and mankind.

During the Middle Ages artists who has drawn Satan – Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, all German – assembled together a picture of this beast based on various traditional imageries and depictions. Satan became a synthesised effigy – the cloven feet from Pan (the ancient Greek god, half goat and half man and a symbol of lustiness for life and a god of nature) and Pan’s horns, as well – and indeed the horned devil visage is also taken from the gods of various cults in the Near East. This devil archetype finally takes on the horror-inducing form of Baphomet, or the Sabbatic Goat as drawn by the occultist Eliphas Levi in the 19th Century.

The image of the Devil as a horned beast who is half man and half goat matches the image of Pan, the beloved fertility god that hailed from Arcadia, Greece.

The image of the Devil as a horned beast who is half man and half goat matches the image of Pan, the beloved fertility god that hailed from Arcadia, Greece.

Literature, too, has always had a major influence on how artists choose to represent Lucifer. In Dante’s Inferno (14th Century) the author provided the most graphic descriptions of the Devil: he stands upright, his lower half buried in a sea of ice and he bears three faces. He is seen grotesquely dining upon the three great traitors of historical legend: Judas Iscariot, Brutus and Cassius.

In later centuries, depictions of Satan in art evolved from a wretched beast to a more human figure. By the 18th Century, he appears ennobled and almost looking like a venerated Greek god. This is due to the aftermath of the French and American Revolutions which tried to expunge the more superstitious elements of Christian religion. People began to interpret the figure less as demonic and more as a heroic rebel against the oppression of the paternal god. These renderings were also influenced by Milton’s Paradise Lost, which drew Satan as an almost pitiable tragic hero.

In the 19th Century, the publication of Goethe’s Mephistopheles in Faust and Mark Twain’s Mysterious Stranger influenced artists to portray Satan as much more of a cunning, dandyish archetype – instead of scaring people into sin and intimidating them, he now uses persuasion.

While the image of Satan as a red, winged, horned figure persists in today’s popular imagination, contemporary artists have bestowed the Devil with the most human likenesses to date. It is an allegory to the “banality of evil,” as philosopher Hannah Arendt put it in her descriptions of Nazism. The Devil has become us, in a way. He is less personified as some evil creature. It’s the human who creates hell on Earth.

 

The Devil in New Age traditions

“New Age” is a broad movement characterised by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism and environmentalism. It is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in the West during the 1970s. This movement has since become global. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of “spiritual” and rarely use the term “New Age” themselves.

In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, the Devil is seen less as a beast and more a cunning creature bent on leading his victims astray through seduction and persuasion

In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, the Devil is seen less as a beast and more a cunning creature bent on leading his victims astray through seduction and persuasion

New Age teachings became popular as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity and the failure of Secular Humanism to provide spiritual and ethical guidance for the future. Its roots are traceable to many sources: Astrology, Channelling, Healing, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnostic traditions, Spiritualism, Taoism, Theosophy, Wicca and other Neo-pagan traditions.

During the 1980s and 1990s the movement came under criticism, Channelling was ridiculed, group leaders were criticised for the fortunes that they made, beliefs in the “scientific” properties of crystals were exposed as groundless and so on. The movement has since become more established and is now a stable and major force but during this particular time the most alarming condemnation received by the movement were from certain conservative Christian circles who did not differentiate between Wicca (a New Age religion) and Satan worship.

Wicca (also known as Pagan Witchcraft) is a contemporary Pagan new religious movement. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th Century and draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th Century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices.

Wiccans and Satanists – much to the consternation of each – are often confused for one another. There are a number of reasons for this: self-definition as witches, a belief in magic and the use of an encircled, five-pointed star as a holy symbol, to name a few. Fundamentally speaking, the two are not the same. Most Wiccans are essentially duo-theistic, venerating a God and a Goddess in equal measure, although some see both as different aspects of a greater, single deity.

Wiccans do not worship, nor do most recognise the existence of Satan or any other Devil-like archetype. Their beliefs are typically Earth-centred, with rituals and observances focused on the seasons and other natural forces and phenomena. Wiccans also believe in and perform “magick”- a highly ritualized form of prayer.

Wiccan paraphernalia. Wiccans do not worship the Christian God or the Satan, the Christian Devil.

Wiccan paraphernalia. Wiccans do not worship the Christian God or the Satan, the Christian Devil.

Wiccans also adhere to the Wiccan Rede (meaning creed): “If it harms none, do what you will; and the Three-fold Law of Return: that which you send out returns to you, three-fold.”

Wicca and Satanism are as different as any two religious belief systems and if there is any one thing Wiccans and Satanists have in common, it is that they are often maligned and misunderstood by others outside of their respective faiths. While it may be argued that Satanists invite this to some degree by deliberately setting themselves in philosophical opposition to more mainstream religions, understanding all faiths in all their differences and similarities is key to ensuring that protection and freedom of religious practice remains in place for everybody.

 

Conclusion

In reality it appears that there is no intrinsic good and evil and neither is there an agreed personification of the Devil. The Devil or Satan it seems is more a term denoting evil than an actual entity, a god of Hell and leader of the demonic hordes as he is regarded today. In turn, what is ‘evil’ has evolved over time to reflect the pevailing politics and influences of the period. What was once a god to be worshipped in one era can easily become the personification in another era.

Perhaps, there is no Devil or satan or dark prince we can blame our afflition and weakneses on. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung suggested that a healthier response is to confront “evil”was not by religious repression, which only increases the shadow of the unconscious, but by conscious mindfulness and management of “evil” elements that we recognise in ourselves. Quoting Jung, “None of us stands outside humanity’s black collective shadow”.
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Martin Chow
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About Martin Chow

Accidental Buddhist, hesitant writer and fortunate student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. He's been there, done that and seriously cannot think of a better place to be than Now. Martin's ability to partake in all earthly pleasures ruined by CS Lewis' quote:"I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy." You can find more of his writings on his blog www.martinmkc.com.
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  1. Pastor Lim Han Nee on Mar 16, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you, Martin, for a very interesting, very thorough and detailed, as well as well-researched account of the origin and history of the “Devil” or “Satan”. However, while the Devil has been portrayed very graphically by many religions as a distinct or separate entity or force,outside of us,( and often with the sole mission of “destroying our soul”), he is ,on the other hand, seen by Eastern religions , like Buddhism, as a force within us, not an entity outside us.

    I believe, as Lord Buddha taught over 2600 years ago, that there is no separate or external entity called the Devil. Instead, there are forces of evil, within us, as embodied in the three poisons- attachment, ignorance and hatred/anger. The forces of good within us are epitomized by our virtuous qualities or potentials , such as kindness, compassion, patience, generosity. It is for the individual to grow a mindfulness of these forces working within us, to manage them so that the forces of good will dominate and will shape our happiness. Whereas, if we let our negative forces or the forces of ‘evil’ dominate, then we will spiral down into abject misery and rebirths in suffering states.

  2. Samfoonheei on Mar 15, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    All religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam ,Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism have their own individual beliefs,defination and views of Devil. All cultures and religions that acceptance that Devil exist and is regarded as a creature,spirits or some sort.We can blame our weakneses on whether there is devil or satan or dark prince it is called. Our ego represents the conscious mind as it comprises the thoughts, memories, and emotions.Its how one see the devil as bad or good.
    In the Buddhist religion, both good and evil rest within the practitioner .
    Thank you, Martin for this informative and very detail article.I do enjoyed reading it.

  3. wan wai meng on Mar 9, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I have enjoyed reading about the origins of the ‘Devil’. Buddhism has it share of external Maras or Devil or Demon, call it what you like, but no matter how powerful such beings are, if such beings are not enlightened they are subject to the laws of cause and effect. We can only be harmed if we have the karma to be harmed.

    Our internal Maras, the 3 or 5 poisons, can harm us lifetime after lifetime also, in fact for infinite amount of lifetimes, perhaps Buddhism emphasizes of our own delusion that can create so much sufferings for us. The ‘Enemy’ within can be more powerful to give us neverending suffering compared to an external ‘Enemy’.

  4. Pastor David Lai on Mar 4, 2017 at 1:49 am

    From working the other article on Halloween, its almost certain that the goat-like devil was almost certain to be an adaptation of the Celtic divinity of Pan or the ‘Horned One’ of the Wiccan religion. The early Christian popes and Church leaders incorporated the visuals of the Horned One as the devil in order to imprint negative association to the divinity of the indigenous religion. Thereby, they are able to further convert the masses to the new religion.

    In this way, image of the devil was set and had become the archetype of the horned and hooved devil that we know today. This is further corroborated by the fact that there is no known description of the devil in the bible. Looks like the image of the devil is made and perhaps, the devil himself is too.

  5. Stella Cheang on Mar 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I always wonder what is The Devil, and why are some population of the world so fearful of it, while not so much by some others in the world. Interestingly, in this article, it is visibly clear that The Devil could be the creation of monotheistic religions as the opponent to the goodness of God and spiritual attainments. During the Greco-Roman period when the concept of good and evil was further morphed from a relative concept to an absolute one, The Devil had became the inevitable one to be blamed for all things evil for he is portrayed as the engineer of all undesirable things. Or is he? Thank you, Martin for this informative article.

  6. Sock Wan on Mar 2, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    The quote “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” from William Shakespeare made me laugh. This is so true, all of us are somehow a devil in our own way.

    So in ancient time there was no absolute good or bad.. A god or a devil can have good qualities and bad qualities in them, just like human beings. I wonder why later God is portrayed as all good and devil is portrayed as all evil? To create fears in human so human will obey what the god says since he/she is all good and can protect us from the devils?

  7. Choong on Feb 22, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I suppose in the human construct, where there is pleasure there must also be pain.

  8. Fong on Feb 21, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    As stated in the conclusion, there is no “Devil or satan or dark prince we can blame our affliction and weaknesses on”. Both good and evil is within us and is upon us to recognize and choose by conscious mindfulness and management of “evil” elements which is the better path to walk.

  9. Anne Ong on Feb 20, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Normally devils and and spirits are not my cup of coffee type of topic. But what you have here really caught my interest! People always seem to have a lot of perceive differences as in what is good and what is bad. What is wrong and what is right. Likewise,a person’s enemy might be another person’s good friend. I like your explaination of different types of devils from different types of religion.I personally believe that there are holy ghost and spirits. Just as there are also good and bad human beings. As long it does no harm to anyone, it’s not fair nor right to judge what we can or cannot worship to. Hence, we have human rights for religious freedom. Thank you Martin for this very interesting article. Hope to see more of your wonderful articles in the near future and keep up the great works! 🙂

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Blog Chat

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Dear blog friends,

I’ve created this section for all of you to share your opinions, thoughts and feelings about whatever interests you.

Everyone has a different perspective, so this section is for you.

Tsem Rinpoche


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KECHARA FOREST RETREAT PROGRESS UPDATES

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The Kechara Forest Retreat is a unique holistic retreat centre focused on the total wellness of body, mind and spirit. This is a place where families and individuals will find peace, nourishment and inspiration in a natural forest environment. At Kechara Forest Retreat, we are committed to give back to society through instilling the next generation with universal positive values such as kindness and compassion.

For more information, please read here (english), here (chinese), or the official site: retreat.kechara.com.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 04:15 PM
    Very clear explanation of what is Vajrayogini’s left foot stepping on. Each time when i have a look at the beautiful statue of Vajrayogini this question will comes back to me. i am glad came across these blog by chance, i saw and read to understand better.A clear explanation ..stampling left and right foot significant of desire ,hatred and ignorance that cause us to be in samsara and she she able to control.Vajrayogni’s practices is so powerful in heliping us and that is the reason Rinpoche always ask us to start now.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these short explanation in the video and the interesting story of Mahadeva.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/facebook-question-what-is-vajra-yoginis-left-foot-stepping-on.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:44 PM
    Rejoice to all the families who had setup a Buddhist altar at home and conducted a house blessing puja. There are diverse benefits of conducting the house blessing puja, which ranges from bringing well-being on all levels – in one’s health, relationships, business, and family – to purifying the home. The puja ceremonies will purify the environment which helps the people who live there and people who are visiting there to experience general well-being. The puja can be personalised based on the request or need of the individual. Thank you for sharing with us the many photos of the beautiful altar of these families, it is very heartwarming to know that they will always be blessed by the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/10-amazing-house-blessings-by-kechara-pastors.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:24 PM
    Thank you for sharing this mindfully planned itinerary for everyone who is interested in visiting Kechara Forest Retreat. Kechara Forest Retreat has different facets that showcase different elements of spirituality and Tibetan Buddhism in this wholesale venue. One can enjoy the flora and fauna of Mother Nature, or embrace the contemporary architectures that feature many magnificent Buddha statues and authentic Himalayan decorations. Not forgetting to mention, in Kechara Forest Retreat sits the largest Dorje Shugden statue in the world! This is a holy place we must never miss to pay homage for blessings from the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 01:07 PM
    金泽“财王”护法殿

    在禅修林的入口处的左边有一间小佛堂,是全天候二十四小时开放给大众的。这间佛堂的一砖一瓦都是由不同善心人士捐增的。也因为他们过后发了一笔小财,所以在大马文东,金泽护法一般被简称为“财王“。

    根据佛陀教诲,五蕴是组成众生的五个方面,分别是色、受、想、行、识。证悟者如多杰雄登能将五蕴分别化现成不同的本尊。金泽是多杰雄登“受”蕴的化现,作用是协助我们增长世俗和修行上的财富。“受”蕴是我们对愉悦或不悦感受的认知。我们执着于愉悦,避免不悦,而这正是导致我们受困和造下各种业,继而产生痛苦的因(此段原文: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6d7edf5f0102x1n6.html)

    来到这里,我们首先要上香。做生意的朋友可要趁此机会拜拜,供养一个大的莲花蜡烛,上三根大香,祈求今年一帆风顺哦。

    摘自“GO BENTONG!与菩萨有约”
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120808
  • Lin Mun
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 11:02 PM
    Can’t imagine that a priest actually stabbed Pope John Paul. How can he do this when he as a priest is suppose to be compassion and love everyone but kill the religion leader. he should remember that he carries the name priest and hence must show good example and behaviour to others but instead took another person’s life.

    I respected Pope John who continued his trip even though he was injured. That shows the determination he had to teach so it can benefit others. Always put others first more than our own needs.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/pope-john-paul-stabbed-by-priest.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 08:13 PM
    It is admirable for Sine Lindholm & Mads Ulrik Husum to place their design as open source for everyone to download and copy to manufacture. This shows how farsighted they are in propelling self-sustainability. The first step is always the hardest, and I believe what Sine and Mads had done is towards the right direction. In this way, people from all the around the world who genuinely are passionate and interested in growing own vegetables will be able to start on their own. Without needing to rely on middleman or manufacturer who might end up making the brilliant idea a commercial white elephant. Thank you, Rinpoche for this sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • Alice Tay
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 10:05 PM
    Many companies especially in overseas are very considerate and allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. I personally think that this is a very good practice where the employees no longer have to worry about leaving pets at home alone. The work environments that cultivate loving kindness, caring and compassion create a much more positive and productive place to work. Besides, it may influence everyone especially those who do not have pet to be more kind to the animals.

    Nevertheless, the employer and employees may have to work together to maintain the safe and cleanliness work place such as reduce odour, provide clean air and many others.

    Thank you for this interesting article as a reminder to us to love and be kind to animals no matter where we are.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/inside-the-worlds-most-dog-friendly-office.html
  • Lin Mun
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 07:06 PM
    Superb idea and very creative. Home farming in the cities ! Appreciate all the hardwork and ideas to produce Growroom. It’s just like putting a big puzzle and making the whole process so much easier to plant in cities where we always have limited spaces.

    We should support more people to come up with such ideas so we can eat our own food and cultivate self sustainability.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:40 PM
    When on the hospital bed nearing our last breath, nothing matters except for the practice and transformation we have done in dharma in our lifetime.

    Our money, wishes, houses, clothes, jewelry, reputation, spouses, desires, dreams, greed, anger, possessions, explanations will be of no use at all. It will in fact even be a hindrance scratching at our mind’s energy to let go and we cannot.

    Since they are no use at that momentous event, we should continue that thought now and understand what we should truly cultivate now. This thought must translate into action not just scholastic thoughts and meanderings of the mind for self deception or imitation spiritual satisfaction. This is what I think daily and everyday as part of my meditations on death and impermanence according to first chapter of Lam Rim.
    ~H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

    Learn more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-dying-process.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 12:11 PM
    Amazing and very creative architecture designed space for our home grown foods.It is a good idea for those living in the cities.The Growroom is beautifully produced made it convenience which enables people to connect with nature surrounding with plants. The smell of herbs and plants makes cities dwellers to live in happiness and healthy.
    Its takes alot of effort and determination for anyone to build a growroom.Well they can do it,if they have the will power….hoping someday KFR will have one too.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:39 AM
    Lazynnes ,negative karma!and mends samajas …ITS very very , inderdependent motivations lewwels of awareness Teacher’Quality &sangha quantity ,first when samajas ARE pure Empowerment full blessings later?so give less Empowerment ITS OK.ccTR IS Wise.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:32 AM
    http://www.aikidosydneycity.com/interview-with-takeda-shihan-by-aikikai-hombu-dojo/ yes yes sumikiri!i m sure HE practice martial arts in many previous lives AS well AS have family’karma conected with ai!ki flow,,,so NEUTRAL his re:for attacks ARE.,above normal fighter skills!___and i m skull in maya astro,fine and wanth share:#####paranormalTSEMsection on:::: antarctica aliens& JFK ,Peru as egg skulls.________________have a good day&nice PRactICE.____THE LIGHT be?or just show options that can be used.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:23 AM
    For example B_LOCK can be neutral karma ,butRE_PLAY reactions can make diferent results in second person?
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:22 AM
    NEUTRAL karma not make good ,not bad result!but ITS STill karma so IS not done from lewwels of acomplishment where IS NO NEW karma acumulations.
    [no sender]
  • nut
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 01:16 AM

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CREDITS

Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
Design: Justin Ripley, Cynthia Lee
Content: Tsem Rinpoche, Justin Ripley, Pastor Shin Tan, Sarah Yap
Writer: Pastor Loh Seng Piow
Admin: Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Beng Kooi

I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

What Am I Writing Now

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
7 days ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
7 days ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 week ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 week ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 week ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 week ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
2 weeks ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
2 weeks ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
4 weeks ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
4 weeks ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
2 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
2 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
2 months ago
This is a good one to read
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
2 months ago
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
Mumu\'s hair is messy and he looks funny
2 months ago
Mumu's hair is messy and he looks funny
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. 
I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. 
Feast your eyes! 

Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. Feast your eyes! Tsem Rinpoche
                        Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini\'s path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html  Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini's path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
Message to Tibetans in English
3 months ago
Message to Tibetans in English
Message to the Tibetans
3 months ago
Message to the Tibetans
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
3 months ago
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
3 months ago
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
3 months ago
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
3 months ago
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
4 months ago
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
4 months ago
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
4 months ago
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
4 months ago
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
4 months ago
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
4 months ago
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
5 months ago
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
Sir Edmund Hillary
5 months ago
Sir Edmund Hillary
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha\'s teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
5 months ago
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha's teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I\'ve seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
6 months ago
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I've seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
6 months ago
It's nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
                         Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
6 months ago
Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
Beautiful! His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang has always been good friends with His Holiness Karmapa. No wonder H.H. Karmapa never spoke against Dorje Shugden. Two reasons perhaps: One is he knows the qualities of Trijang Rinpoche who is a attained being. And Karmapa himself has clairvoyance to perceive the true nature of Dorje Shugden directly. I love to see great beings like this manifesting closeness. When I see, I just want to prostrate to them and thank them for sharing such good examples to someone like me. Praise to the ego-less mind! Tsem Rinpoche
6 months ago
Beautiful! His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang has always been good friends with His Holiness Karmapa. No wonder H.H. Karmapa never spoke against Dorje Shugden. Two reasons perhaps: One is he knows the qualities of Trijang Rinpoche who is a attained being. And Karmapa himself has clairvoyance to perceive the true nature of Dorje Shugden directly. I love to see great beings like this manifesting closeness. When I see, I just want to prostrate to them and thank them for sharing such good examples to someone like me. Praise to the ego-less mind! Tsem Rinpoche
Serkong Dorje Chang on the left and his son Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche on the right.
6 months ago
Serkong Dorje Chang on the left and his son Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche on the right.
High lamas in France September 2016
6 months ago
High lamas in France September 2016
༧གོང་ས་ཆེན་པོ་སྐུ་འཕྲེང་བཅུ་བཞི་པ་མཆོག་དང་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཤུགས་ལྡན། - Interesting relationship between 14th Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden:   http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109757
6 months ago
༧གོང་ས་ཆེན་པོ་སྐུ་འཕྲེང་བཅུ་བཞི་པ་མཆོག་དང་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཤུགས་ལྡན། - Interesting relationship between 14th Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109757
Dalai Lama Says We Can Practise Dorje Shugden Finally! Read more on this development--- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109777
6 months ago
Dalai Lama Says We Can Practise Dorje Shugden Finally! Read more on this development--- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=109777
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • March 27, 2017 04:19
    Dongho asked: I have been reading on the tunes of certain sects and would like to ask on this. From what I've read, there are certain tunes to each sect and school of certain chants. Exactly where can I find the sheet music for these percussion and horns with the chants, such as to the one for invoking Kache Marpo or Dorje Shugden? Would it be possible to use school instruments for this?
    No reply yet
  • March 26, 2017 02:14
    Kunga asked: Does the Gelug have Begtse a protector? If so, could you please provide a sadhana for him here?
    pastor answered: Dear Kunga, Yes the Dharma protector Begtse exists within the Gelug tradition. He is also known as Chamsing. Begtse’s practice stems from India and was introduced to Tibet and therefore Tibetan Buddhism by the translator Nyen Lotsawa. Marpa Lotsawa also practiced Begtse, and so the practice exists in the Kagyu traditions. This practice was eventually transmitted to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five patriarchs of the Sakya tradition, who were the founding fathers of that tradition. Over time the practice of Begtse was incorporated into the Gelug tradition, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa, and was notably practiced by the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas. Over time the practice gained popularity within the lineage, especially when it spread to Mongolia. There the practice became an important one within the lineage as upheld there. Begtse is also affectionately known as the Dharma protector of Mongolia, because his practice is so popular there. If I am not mistaken, there is an oracle of Begtse in Mongolia as well. There is a mistaken account that the practice originated around the time of the 3rd Dalai Lama, with the subjugation of a Mongolian war god, but Begtse was definitely practiced before that time in the Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions. While the practice of Begtse is very effective, I have not come across the practice of Begtse in my personal practice, therefore I do not have access to the Begtse sadhana to provide to you. Instead Begtse is propitiated in prayers that incorporate many other Dharma protectors, and Begtse is also considered one of the nine protectors of the Hayagriva (Tamdrin) cycle of tantric teachings. Therefore Begtse is included in the Dharma protector sections of the Hayagriva tantras. Surrounding Begtse are his sister, Sing Ma, and his main minister, Le Khan Mar Po. His inner retinue comprises of eight butchers who wield copper swords in their right hands and skull-cups full of blood in their left hands. They are portrayed as naked and are very ugly. His outer retinue comprises a further twenty-one butchers, who hold copper swords in their right hands, and this time, the entrails of butchered enemies. They wear the skins humans and oxen as clothes, with ornaments made from human bone. While this may seem violent, Begtse is actually a very powerful and beneficial protector, who helps practitioners clear their obstacles and create conducive conditions for their spiritual evolution. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 24, 2017 20:12
    Azair asked: Venerable Rinpoche, I am doing a study in Kalachakra Tantra and I've heard from most of the lama's too that if you practice the Kalachakra Tantra, you'll be able to take control of your next rebirth. Ofcourse, it has been said that we will get our rebirth according to our Karma and desires but whether those dreams will get fulfilled will depend upon the actions that we take in this life. Thus, practicing the Kalachakra(till the end) after initiation will give you the opportunity to take rebirth anywhere you desire regardless of your Karma. My question is that, is there some truth in this statement.? Does this statement hold true for other tantra practices, such as Vajrayogini Tantra, Ghuyasamaja Tantra, Heruka Tantra, etc. I would really really like to know. Thankyou in anticipation, regards, Azair
    pastor answered: Dear Azair, Thank you for your question. Yes there is truth to this statement, both from a scriptural perspective and also by example, as the great masters have shown us. This is a unique feature of all Anuttarayoga Tantras or Highest Yoga Tantras, which Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, Guhyasama and Heruka are all examples of. This category of tantric practice can actually lead a practitioner to full enlightenment in this very lifetime. Even if enlightenment is not reached, very high levels of attainment can be reached nonetheless. This includes the ability to take control over your next rebirth. This is primarily engaged in so that the practitioner is born in an environment where they can eventually pick up their practice and further their spiritual path to enlightenment, or in order to be born in a place where they can benefit sentient beings the most, as part of the spiritual journey over many lifetimes. One of the reasons such an ability is very necessary on the spiritual path, is that usual death and rebirth occurs at the mercy of ones karma, specifically what is known as the ‘throwing karma’ or the karma that dictates what sort of rebirth a person is going to take. This opens up at the time of ordinary death, which most people have no control over. During the death process, many of our disturbing emotions will arise. Whichever of these is the strongest at the point of death triggers open a latent karmic potential, which becomes the ‘throwing karma’ and dictates where we are going to take rebirth and if that life will generally be full of suffering or not. Within Anuttarayoga Tantra, one of the key points of practice is to prepare for one’s death. This is done by simulating the dying process during one’s meditations, so that one becomes familiar with it. At the most pivotal part of this process, one practices achieving either the rainbow body or great bliss (in the case of the father tantras); or clear light (in the case of mother tantras). The tantras themselves are not defined in terms of the gender of the central deity, but by the method used to gain enlightenment. This is either the rainbow body/great bliss (classified as male, therefore labelled ‘father’) or clear light (classified as female, therefore labelled ‘mother’). Non-dual tantras such as the Kalachakra tantra can employ either of the two methods, a mixture of both, or alternate methods. In the case of superior practitioners, due to the power of their practice, they can achieve either of these two methods in their current body. Since they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, and a particular method of practice, they can also achieve enlightenment during their physical death. The great Lama Tsongkhapa is said to have achieved enlightenment at the moment of physical death, using the second of these. For other practitioners, they may not be able to achieve this either in their meditations while they are alive, or during the death process. However because they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, they remain in complete concentration at the time of death, not allowing any disturbing emotions to arise. Due to this level of concentration, meditation and awareness during the dying process, they are able to control where they next take rebirth. This is evident in the tantric scriptures themselves, and the life stories of many masters, who can state exactly where, when and to whom they will take their next rebirth, as they are in full control of the dying and rebirth process. There is a type of meditation called ‘thukdam’ which has been translated into ‘death meditation’. This is a final meditation some masters choose to engage in. During this meditation, the master themselves consciously begin the physical dying process themselves, engage in the meditation of dissolving the winds into the heart centre and remain in the most pivotal part of the death process, the mind of clear light of death. During this point they engage in meditations, either the methods of the father or mother tantras as mentioned previously, and or consciously choose where they are to next take rebirth. They can remain in this death meditation for long periods of time, days at an end, in which their consciousness has not yet left their body, although for all intents and purposes they are dead according to medical science, e.g. they have no heartbeat. At the end of their meditation, a drop of blood will be emitted from their nostril, and their head will slump over a little. Masters who engage in this meditation usually sit in full meditation posture, and their body remain supple and soft even though they have passed away from a medical point of view. I hope this brief explanation helps. Thank you.
  • March 23, 2017 23:01
    Brad asked: What is the significance of offering the Seven precious emblems of royalty to the Buddhas and enlightened Dharma Protectors? What are we symbolically offering up?
    pastor answered: Dear Brad, Thank you for your question. The ‘saptaratna’ or seven precious emblems represent on the one hand the ultimate state of temporal power, and on the other hand the ultimate spiritual attainments that we can achieve. By offering these to the Buddhas, we are actually creating the causes to achieve what they represent. Therefore it is good to know the meaning of each, so we can understand what we are creating the causes for by offering them up: Please see below for an explanation of the seven royal emblems: 1. The Precious Wheel: a thousand spoked wheel, representing the universal power of the Buddhas, as well as the teachings of the thousand Buddhas of our aeon. It is represented by the Dharmachakra, symbolising the ‘turning of the wheel’ or teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, especially that of our own mind, thoughts, delusions and afflictions. 2. The Precious Jewel: an eight sided wish-granting gem, which fulfils all the needs of a universal emperor. This jewel has eight special qualities: it illuminates the night sky for hundreds of leagues; it is cooling when the temperature is hot and warming when the temperature is cold; it makes manifest whatever the holder wants; when thirsty it causes a fresh-water spring to appear; it has the ability to control the nagas, and other supernatural beings, as well as preventing natural disasters such as storms, floods, etc.; it gives off multi-coloured lighted which heals the various mental and emotional afflictions; it cures all illnesses; and it ensures that one dies a natural death, not an untimely one. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, or perfect discrimination, so one knows what to abandon and what to keep in the mindstream during the spiritual journey to enlightenment. 3. The Precious Queen: the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. She is described as a goddess who is the epitome of someone: with devotion; without jealousy; who is the embodiment of fertility; who works for the welfare of all beings; who possess feminine wisdom; speaks the truth; not attract to sensual pleasures or material possessions; and does not have false views. She is adored by all. She also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect effort. This is necessary to keep meditating until one gains spiritual attainments. 4. The Precious Minister: who has sharp intelligence, patience, and the ability to give wise counsel to the emperor. He is so attuned to the emperor that even before the emperor has spoken, the minister is already carrying out his command. He only wishes to support the Dharma, help sentient beings, and is an excellent strategist. He also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect joy. This is also akin to the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, because you have come to an understanding of your own mind, which is like pouring ice-cold water into boiling water. The water stops boiling, as does the thoughts, projections, and delusions in the mind. He represents the path of the bodhisattva. 5. The Precious Elephant: who has the strength of a thousand normal elephants. He is white, with the perfect features that an elephant could have. He is majestic, graceful, and gentle, but in battle is fearsome, fearless and unyielding. He communicates with the emperor through a telepathic link. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect adaptability. This is important, as one needs to be able to adapt to the various mental afflictions as they arise, and suitably counter them. 6. The Precious Horse: who has all the marks of a celestial horse. Known as wind-horse, he is able to travel extremely fast, and can circumambulate the entire universe three time in just a single day. He is never fearful or startled, never makes a sound when galloping, and has extremely soft hairs on his body. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is single-pointed concentration. This is important because without this form of concentration, once cannot engage in the analytical meditations that lead to an understanding of emptiness, and therefore enlightenment. 7. The Precious General: who has mastered the arts of war and always wins in battle. He wears battle armour and holds many different weapons. He tries to avoid battle, but when necessary fights, and never gives up until he has won. He is fearless, and courageous in carrying out the emperors commands and ensures the emperors army carries out their duties. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect equanimity. This is because he overcomes all warfare, which is akin to the battle between things were are attached to and things we have an aversion for in our minds. In short, what you are offering up is the highest of all temporal treasures and abilities, as well as the entire path of the Dharma. Doing so creates the causes for you to receive all of this on your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 20, 2017 10:16
    Grigoris asked: Excuse me, but I would like to ask, what does the prayer to Shangmo Dorje Putri say exactly? I can't read Tibetan, but would like to see the description that the prayer gives. I am not planning to say the prayer or make interaction(as it would be very dangerous), but would like to see what it actually says from the Tibetan text. Here's the link: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/shangmo-dorje-putri-the-bamo-of-sakya.html
    pastor answered: Dear Grigoris, Thank you for your question. Shangmo Dorje Putri is indeed a fascinating unenlightened Dharma protector. Unfortunately at the moment, we do not have a translated copy of the text in English that we can provide. The usual format for such texts, would include an invocation, making offerings to appease them, and then exhortations for them to perform their activities, possibly followed by thanking them for their help. One thing is for certain, due to the nature of Shangmo Dorje Putri her prayer is sure to include violent imagery, just like many other Dharma protectors, such as Achi Chokyi Drolma (who even though has a peaceful appearance, has a lot of violent imagery in her prayers). The reason behind the violent imagery is explained in the post about Achi Chokyi Drolma here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/achi-chokyi-drolma-chief-protectress-of-the-drikung-kagyu.html
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Romania 41,945
South Africa 32,153
Switzerland 44,896
Ireland 31,533
Japan 31,285
Vietnam 28,576
Russia 32,100
Sweden 30,806
Saudi Arabia 20,611
Sri Lanka 20,793
Greece 23,844
Belgium 23,300
Poland 24,650
Turkey 20,375
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Dorje Shugden
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