Thich Nhat Hanh on “Right Speech”:
“Sometimes we speak clumsily and create internal knots in others. Then we say, ‘I was just telling the truth.’ It may be the truth, but if our way of speaking causes unnecessary suffering, it is not Right Speech.
The truth must be presented in ways that others can accept. Words that damage or destroy are not Right Speech.
Before you speak, understand the person you are speaking to. Consider each word carefully before you say anything, so that your speech is ‘Right’ in both form and content.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex situated in the city of Himeji which is located in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.
Himeji Castle, also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered as Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty and its well preserved, complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles. The castle recently underwent extensive renovation over several years and was fully re-opened to the public in 2015.
Himeji Castle lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. The castle complex as it survives today is over 400 years old and was completed in 1609. It is made up of over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths.
K Coffee opened in February 2014. It grew originally out of “Art Festival Hanarart”, an art festival which was held in Yamatokoriyama in 2013 with the aim of using art to bring vitality to the region. During the festival, Mr. Kazuya Mori opened up a coffee shop at the old gas station where the current shop now stands.
The “goldfish phone box” was set up as one of the artworks displayed at the festival. After the art festival was over, there were plans to clear away both the coffee shop and the phone box; however, Mr. Mori had taken a liking to the place, and started direct negotiations to rent the spot. Most people living in the area apparently were of the opinion “a coffee shop will never work in this location”; however, Mr. Mori was determined to take up the challenge. He went ahead with the plan, and K Coffee was inaugurated as an official business.
What makes this literal hole-in-the-wall so well known is their peculiar fish tank out front. It’s an old school phone booth filled to the top with water and goldfish.
The Buddha Park of Ravangla, also known as Tathagata Tsal, is situated near Ravangla in South Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. It was constructed between 2006 and 2013, and features a 130-foot-high statue of the Buddha, erected to mark the 2550th anniversary of the birth of Gautama Buddha, as its main attraction. The statue, built of 60 tonnes of copper, is an example of repousse work. Mount Narsing forms the backdrop to the statue.
The site was chosen within the larger religious complex of Rabong Monastery, itself a centuries-old place of pilgrimage. Also nearby is Ralang Monastery, a key monastery in Tibetan Buddhism. Built and installed through the joint efforts of the government and people of Sikkim, the statue was consecrated on 25 March 2013 by the 14th Dalai Lama. The Buddhist circuit of the park was built under a state government project, intended to boost pilgrimage and tourism to the region. The Cho Djo lake is located within the complex, surrounded by forest. The park has a tranquil setting with spacious pathways, and there is a Buddhist conclave, a meditation centre and a museum with a spiral gallery.
The huge Roman aqueduct built in Segovia, Spain, by the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117).
One of the best preserved Roman engineering works, the structure was constructed from approximately 24,000 dark colored Guadarrama granite blocks without the use of mortar. The above ground part is 2,388 feet long. And it consists of approximately 165 arches that are more than 30 feet in height.
THE INGÁ STONE
Located in Brazil. It is over 6,000 years old and has hundreds of strange symbols.
The archaeological site of the Ingá Stone, also known in the Tupi-Guarani language as the Itacoatiara do Ingá and Pedra do Ingá in Portuguese, is near the town of Ingá in northeast Brazil. The meaning of the carvings remain uncertain, but may allude to astronomy, animals and fruits.
The site was one of the first monuments of protected rock art in Brazil, exceptionally recognised for its artistic and historical importance. The Ingá Stone site consists of multiple basalt stones covered with glyphs. The main outcrop, featuring the three main rock art panels, forms a wall 24 metres long and 3.5 metres high at its highest point.
The engravings are generally non-figurative, and created using a technique of pecking at the stone and then polishing the grooves. Some of the figures also retain traces of pigment, suggesting they may have been coloured.
The first reports of rock art in the state of Paraíba were made by European settlers in the 16th century. The rock art at Ingá are the most representative group of a particular type of engraving tradition in Brazil.
Austrian-born Ludwig Schwennhagen, studied Brazilian history in the early twentieth century and found strong connections in appearance from the Inga symbols to not only the Phoenicians but also the demotic writings (linked more closely to business or literary document-style writings) of the ancient Egyptians. Further groups found a remarkable similarity of the carvings of Inga to the aboriginal artwork found on Easter Island.
Santeria merges as a diversity of different faiths. It means ‘way of saints’ or ‘honor of saints. It is an amalgamation between the orthodox Yoruba religion in West Africa and Catholicism.
The religion is also known as La Regla de Lucumi or Lucumi or ‘Lukumi’s Rule’. It emerged in Cuba between the 16th and 19th century. The roots go back to Africa, where the Yoruba tribes practiced the Lucumi religion. Between 1940 and 1960, the immigrants from Cuba spread Santeria in the United States. The religion also features Spanish Catholicism, and to this extent, it is also characterized by Spanish culture. It is well developed in Spanish-speaking people and colonies.
Voodoo is a word originating from Western Africa, and it means ‘moral fiber.’ It blends elements of French Catholicism and traditional religions of West Africa. It developed in Haiti between the 16th and 19th centuries during the Atlantic slave trade. Voodoo can be traced to the Fon and Ewe in West Africa, currently known as Benin. Voodoo can also be spelled as Vodou or Vodun.
In Voodoo, Iwa is a veneration of deities frequently identified as Yoruba gods and Roman Catholic saints. Iwa is an intermediary of the distant and magnificent figure that does not involve itself with humans, Bondye (God).
Voodoo’s paranormal ancestral connection is passed from generation to generation by rituals and spiritual practices. The rituals involve performers drumming that make most of the music, singing, dancing, praying, and even animal sacrifice. These actions inspire Iwa to possess one of their members with a spirit. Once the spirit comes into the member, it can speak to the god (Bondye), dead people, heal, protect, and even do magic.
Similarities between Santeria and Voodoo
- Both Santeria and Voodoo are religious practices upheld by people who believe in a common God that is served by several spirits.
- Both religions have beliefs in possession by certain spirits – Orishas in Santeria and Loas in Voodoo.
- Both spirits – Orishas and Loas – are sometimes identified with Catholic saints.
- Santeria and Voodoo were both presented in the Western Hemisphere by slaves from North Africa, most likely Nigeria. The slaves permeated these beliefs into Christianity to avoid being persecuted, since their traditional religious expression was forbidden.
- These religions’ ultimate goal is to preserve rituals and cultures to future generations.
- Animal sacrifice is integral in both Santeria and Voodoo since they use blood for initiations and cleansing.
- During their ceremonies, both use dancing, singing, and drumming to connect with and worship their deities.
Differences Between Santeria and Voodoo
- The Santeria deities are known as Oricha or Orisha, while the Voodoo deities are known as Iwa. However, they are both known as the Yoruba gods and Roman Catholic saints.
- Santeria means “the way of saints,” whereas the term voodoo meaning “moral fiber” has its origin in African-Haitian religious, traditional practices.
- Santeria is based on Yoruba beliefs, while Voodoo is based on Fon and Ewe beliefs.
- There is a Spanish influence in Santeria, whereas in Voodoo religion the French influence is more prominent.
- Santeria developed among Afro-Cuban communities while Voodoo developed among Afro-Haitian communities.
- Santeria’s house of worship is known as the Casa Templo, while Voodoo’s temple is cited as the Ounfo. In Casa Templo, there is an inner room called igbodu, where rituals take place. The ceremonial site found within the Ounfu is known as peristyle.
- In Santeria, sacrifices to deities are made by initiates at least once per year. Ebbo is the name of the offering, which can contain a butchered animal, fruits, flowers, or candles. On the other hand, Voodoo demands sacrifices too, but different Iwa are believed to like different food types in this religion. Oungan organizes the annual feasts where animal sacrifices are made to diverse Iwa.
- Possession of spirits. In the possession ceremonies in Santeria, the possessed member is referred to as the “horse,” and they say that at the point where the Oricha has already “mounted” them. After the possession, the individual claims not to have any memories of the event. In Voodoo, the possessed individual is known as chual, whereas the act of possession is known as “mounting a horse.”Crise de iwa is the trance of possession.
- Santeria practitioners believe that herbalism is a foremost essential in their healing practices and plays significant roles in their members’ health. In Voodoo, Oungan is consulted but he may often send his clients to medical professionals.
- In Santeria, the ritual performing ceremonies are known as Toque De Santo. They are also known as Tambor. In these ceremonies, the Oricha is summoned, and the practitioners believe that he is capable of healing the sick and blessing those who deserve it. The Voodoo’s ceremony is often known as the dans. The word comes from dancing, which has a prominent role in religious gatherings. In most cases, the gatherings are held at night with songs and dances, and the Iwa is summoned to join the rite. Food offerings and animal sacrifices are made to Iwa during these ceremonies.
- Initiation in Santeria is known as kariocha. The initiation requires a payment, but the amount is decided according to the status of the practitioner and the client’s wealth. Santero oversees the initiation ceremony where the initiate is called Iyabo. It is usually a seven-day ceremony. Sacrifices are made to the Oricha, and a four-legged animal is slaughtered accompanied by twenty-five birds. After the ceremony, the initiate sare supposed to go through a year-long period called the journey of iyawo. During this period, they are expected to perceive numerous restrictions. They are to learn about different deities and how to make sacrifices to them. This is always marked as a life-changing event. Initiation in Voodoo tends to be expensive and needs a lot of preparation. The initiate, who is also known as Kanzo, goes through four levels of initiation. Once the initiate completes the fourth stage, the individual becomes a manbo.
- In Santeria, there are rites sketched to make peace with the soul of the departed called itulu. Santeras or santeros are believed to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Practitioners believe that spirits offer advice and give warnings. Voodoo followers also believe in the afterlife. But there’s a different approach. For one year and one day, they believe the deceased’s spirit to be trapped in water and mountains or anywhere one can call and hear an echo. After one year and one day, a ritual is performed to release the deceased’s spirit into the world to live again. Now the spirit can live anywhere, in the trees or even the wind.
Midsummer Eve, by Edward Robert Hughes, 1908. The night just after the longest day of the year, when the veil between the worlds is thin, & faeries & their cohorts from the other realm can easily enter our world from dusk to dawn.