Category: Religion

My First Featured Article on Beliefnet!

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I'm so Excited!  My article is featured!

  Screenshot

This is truly a first for me, and I was so excited, I had to share with everyone! 

I've been writing for a website called Beliefnet.com for the past few months — a milestone in itself because I've been wanting to write for them for years! 

Why? They feature ALL beliefs from the all major religions, and then some. 

But today is the first time I've been featured on their front page!  The very first of their 4 rotating banners, and with my name just there beneath it!  (Until Monday, July 21st anyway…) 

As someone who's been a ghostwriter for many years, I feel like I've finally stepped out into the sun.  Aaaaaah!  I am fairly certain it has something to do with my lovely friend, Trish Kusal Wilson, who allowed me to use her photographs.  The glory is all the sweeter when it's shared!

It's also a subject that I've never felt quite brave enough to write about, since it's such a touchy one for so many people: prayer — but I've attempted to translate it into something that intellectuals, naturalists and realists might be able to relate to.  See if you can, and let me know.  If nothing else, click to see Trish's glorious photos

I partly began writing for Beliefnet because I thought it would be a good way to connect with an audience that could understand and appreciate the podcast I co-host on Unity Online Radio, called "Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture & Spirituality Unite!"  It is exactly my ministry style, actually, as I study to one day become a fully ordained Unity minister — rejecting no one and nothing in the world, just using it all to be more understanding, more positive and creative and help make the world a happier place.

Here are links to check it all out, if you wanna!  And if you know anyone who'd make a good radio guest or interview subject while talking about entertainment and enlightenment, please get in touch!

LINKS:

Learn more or contact me at MalaynaDawn.com!

 

Falling in Love with Angkor Thom

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No, Angkor Thom is not the name of a guy who hangs around Angkor Wat. It's not the Cambodian equivalent of Indiana Jones. It means "Big City" and it's part of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Being raised on Indiana Jones, I have a thing for temple ruins. If I weren't so lazy and squeamish about creepy-crawlies, I might have gone into archaeology or some such thing. But due to my love of comfort, this is the closest I'll probably come to Indiana Jones-esque adventure–being driven to temple ruins in an air conditioned car. Good enough for me! 

I'm glad we went to Angkor Wat first, because this way I got to enjoy Angkor Thom's Bayon and Ta Prohm in the beautiful late afternoon sun. The entrance was entrancing, with it's greenery and welcoming committee. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

P1010044 On each side of the road is a line of statues, very close together.  

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Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples

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For my 40th birthday, I wanted to do something BIG. Something from my Life List, something that came from my dreams.  Since I was in Sri Lanka for the big event, it made sense to take advantage of being on this side of the world. But having just traveled from L.A., I didn't want to fly too far. So I came up with Cambodia and Angkor Wat.  I'll admit that this was partly inspired by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which I dig because of my deep love of Indiana Jones. (I also like The Mummy movies, if you must know.)

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Symbols of Spirituality : Costumes

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Sumo_Suits We are energy, or spirit, experiencing life in a physical body (what James Ray calls “a meat suit”) in the physical world.

(<—-Sumo costumes)

In Medieval times, European Royal Courts hosted masquerade balls in which people attended in mask and costume as part of elaborate allegorical pageants, allowing them to connect to religious or cultural traditions through the ritual. Think of Mardi Gras – costumes and revelry to celebrate Fat Tuesday, before serious stuff like Ash Wednesday and Lent kick in.

The Words of Inauguration Day – Benediction

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Dr. Joseph E Lawry’s Benediction

 

God of our weary years

God of our silent tears

God who has brought us thus far along the way

Thou who has by thy might led us into the light

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, oh God, where we met thee.

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand.

True to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day.

We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant,

Barack Obama the 44th President, of these United States, his family, and his administration.

He has come to this high office in a low moment

in the national and indeed the global fiscal climate.

But because we know you ‘got the whole world in your hands’,

We pray for not only our nation but for the community of nations.

 

Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills,

For we know that Lord you’re able, and willing

to work through faithful leadership to restore stability,

mend our brokenness, heal our wounds,

and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, (or the least of these),

And from favoritism toward the rich, (the elite of these).

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th President,

to inspire our nation to believe that Yes We Can work together

to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed, (the wind of greed) and corruption,

and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption,

we seek forgiveness, and we come to spirit of unity and solidarity to commit

our support to our president

by our willingness to make sacrifices,

we respect your creation to turn to each other and not on each other.

 

And now Lord, in the complex arena of human relations,

help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate,

On the side of inclusion, not exclusion

Tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family.

Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosque, wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, first lady Michele, look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

 

We go now to walk together, children,

Pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficulties ahead.

We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power, and your heart of love.

 

Help us then now Lord to work for that day

when nations shall not lift sword against nation,

When tanks get beaten into tractors,

When every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree

and none shall be afraid

When justice will roll down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labor rest

Joy of a new beginning,

we ask you to help us work for that day when:

Black will not be asked to get back

When brown can stick around

When yellow will be mellow

When the red man can get ahead, man

And white will embrace what is right

Will all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen, say Amen, and Amen.

Time for Global Unity

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11days-bg_headerMy church, Unity church, has joined with an organization called "We, The World" to promote 11 Days of Global Unity. 

It started on a day the world really needs prayers,  September 11th, which is also Unity's World Day of Prayer and goes unti September 21st, The UN's International Day of Peace.

Unity's site is 11daysofUnity.org, or you can visit We The World's site explaining the history of the event. But here are the basics:

Creating a Culture of Peace
Celebrating a Sustainable Future
 
11 Days of Global Unity Sept. 11-21 is an annual promotion of peace, justice and environmental stewardship that communities and organizations take part in around the world. It culminates on September 21st, the U.N. International Day of Peace.
 
Did you know that September 11th is also the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's first nonviolent peace action? Me neither!

The organization's launch in 2004 included the signing of The Declaration of Interdependence, which includes the following pledge that you can sign too!

 
We, the people of planet Earth,

In recognition of the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of the balance of nature,

Hereby acknowledge our interdependence

And affirm our dedication to

~life-serving environmental stewardship,

~the fulfillment of universal human needs worldwide,

~economic and social well-being,

~and a culture of peace and nonviolence,

To insure a sustainable and harmonious world

For present and future generations.

 

You can join Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Jane Goodall & ME by

signing the declaration. Just send an e-mail to declaration@wetheworld.org and include your city & country and a message. It'll be posted on their guestbook.

Buddhist Priests vs. Judas Priest

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One of the recipients of my messages of madness during the siege, birthday boy Mike Schaefer, reminded me that I had said something about the above comparison. 

Probably something like:

"I guess Buddhist Priests blaring chants through my house at 3 am are still better than Judas Priest at this volume…"

See? As the prophet Eric Idle of Monty Python once said,

"Always look on the bright side of life" (insert whistling here)

Monks Amok: Malayna Under Siege…by Buddhist Monks?

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Until very recently, the site of Buddhist monks and the occasional sound of chanting in the distance was only a reminder of the magic of Sri Lanka.  Here’s proof – a photo I took in May of ’06 with a caption that tells the tale (you can click on it to enlarge it):

 

Monks1

One day we came upon an unexpected and unexplained parade of monks of all sizes, ages, sexes and backgrounds.  It's one of the magical, odd things that occur here.

For more photos of this strange occurence: http://www.malaynadawn.com/May06/page2.html

 

See?  I’m a fan of the monks and Buddhism in general.  But it seems that too much of even a good thing can turn ugly.

How ugly?

I was reminded of the FBI’s strategy at Waco–trying to get people under siege to come running out by blaring loud, annoying music at them for long periods of time.  Yes, it was almost that ugly.

The loud, invasive sound assault began at about 5:30pm and lasted TWELVE HOURS, not stopping until 5:30AM.  There are a few things in common, see?

 

“The FBI brought in loudspeakers, and through the speakers came the high decibel sounds of laughter, birds squawking, sirens, rabbits being slaughtered, rock music, Tibetan chants, and recordings of "negotiation" sessions held between the Branch Davidians and the FBI (Justice Report, pgs.. 69, 73, 79).” http://www.public-action.com/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/war/page/w_p.html

 

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourselves, “but it’s drums and flutes and Buddhist chants, wasn’t it all just blissful Zen? A chance for deep meditation?”

 

Nuh-uh.

 

For one thing, I must admit I’ve never really enjoyed the traditional music of my people. The drums’ rhythms feel random to me. And I’ve been known to be a musical girl. I was even a music major in college for a year or so after being awarded a music scholarship, but my not-so-highly trained ear can’t identify any pattern.

 

And the flutes are closer to a cross between a recorder and a bagpipe. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I heard a lot of that irritating squeak that makes one cringe when listening to a beginner on a reed instrument. So basically, it sounds like a bunch of impish street urchins have stolen some drums and flutes and are gleefully making a racket to torture all the straights.

 

The innocent beginnings of the siege

I knew something was up when I noticed first thing in the morning that a Buddhist Flag had been strung to hang across the road just in front of our house. It wasn’t tied to anything on our property, so I had no complaint there, and there is a Buddhist temple nearby that often has events in the ‘hood, so I didn’t think much more of it. 

 

Monks2

I know that it is customary here for people to celebrate the death anniversary of a loved one with something called a Dana (proper info can be found here) .  From what I’ve seen at other neighbor’s houses, it involves the arrival of Buddhist priests announced by drumming and flute playing, and then a series of chants followed by a meal offered for the monks, family and neighbors called an almsgiving.

 

In my experience, it’s never lasted more than a few hours, when it ends as the monks leave with the same pomp and ceremony.  Or maybe they’re priests. I don’t know how to tell the difference.

 

I still don’t believe that’s what last night was about, because I noticed around 5:30 or so that the house was covered with for want of a more descriptive term–Christmas lights. White ones that blinked in varying patterns and colorful ones that remained lit continuously.

 

And then the dance music started. True, it was kind of old-fashioned Sri Lankan and Indian music that I imagine was seen in films in the 60’s and 70’s, but it was festive and upbeat. So I began to think that my cook was wrong when she said it was a death anniversary. Aren’t those more somber? Or were they just really pleased that the person was gone?

 

Timeline of Insanity

 

5:30pm – Retro South-Asian Dance Hits played over a sound system.

 

7-ish – Somewhere between 7 and 8 the drums and flutes began.  My cook’s 10-year-old daughter ran to the window to see what was happening (she’s visiting from their village during a school break).  I asked if there were any elephants, cuz if there weren’t, I wasn’t going to bother looking.  No elephants. Poo.  (Speaking of poo, it’s probably a good thing there were no elephants, since the event was basically in front of our house…coulda been messy, not to mention highly odiferous.)

 

At 10:30, while hiding out in the computer room on the opposite side of my house, I told my friend, who lives about 5 miles away, that I thought she could hear the chanting if she stepped outside. It was that loud. When I told her I was hoping they’d quit by 11pm, I was merely being tolerant.

 

11pm– When I left voicemail messages for several people in the U.S. over the next hour, I was laughing in disbelief. But I couldn’t get anyone on the line to share the madness with me, so I called my husband in London. He was shocked about the noise level, but was also under the impression that they’d stop soon. He thought it might have been a house blessing ceremony for the guy who has returned from overseas to finish the eyesore of brick and cement that for the last few years has been attracting stray dogs, mosquitoes and people who have no place to put their trash. That guy is troublesome anyway. One more thing to add to the list when I tell my hubby to go beat him up.

My growing madness

 

At 2AM, I considered my options. I couldn’t call the police because they don’t know of such a thing as noise pollution. Besides, if I complained, I would be setting us up for future complaints every time we watch loud movies with explosions and gunfights until 2AM on a weeknight because of my pilot hubby’s weird flight schedule. Plus it’s a religious thing, and they’re monks. We’ve had louder non-religious parties that lasted that long, and no one has said a word to us. And maybe it would be worse if it were rude partiers and rock music. Maybe just the human voice alone isn’t so bad….

  

At 3AM, when I was sure they were finished, I shut down the computer, turned out the lights, and went downstairs to get a drink of water. That’s when the drums started up again.

 

I had thoughts of setting off the bottle rockets stored in the spare room.

 

I went to the bedroom, which seemed to be directly in front of one of the two speakers, and I called my friend Rhonda in Maryland. She, finally, could confirm how loud it was. She wanted to know who those two men were in the bedroom with me and why they were so loud.  One sounded like a cross between Barry White and Abe Vigoda—low but throaty. The other was more of a tenor and sounded more nasal. They tossed it back and forth with occasional explosions of drums and flute. A very strange version of the dueling banjos.

3:35AM – All I could think was regardless of what they were blessing, couldn’t all of their good intentions be undone from the amount of hatred that I and surely everyone within a 5 mile radius were beaming at them? Why couldn’t they chant WITHOUT the sound system? Seriously.

 

At 4AM – I set aside the book I was reading (but having trouble concentrating upon) and turned off my bedside lamp. I was sure they were finally done. As I slipped into the blissful silence of sleep, they started again.

 

Too tired to turn on the light again, I just lay there drifting from disturbed waking dreams to conscious and back again. This went on until…

 

5:30AM –  I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed into sleep.

 

The Day After

 

11am I woke up feeling guilty about sleeping so late on a weekday, even though it was with good reason. I went downstairs to see how the rest of the household was doing.

 

Selliah, our houseman whose room is even closer to the event, was suffering from red eyes and a headache. Our cook, Parmeswary, and her daughter, Sagilah, had the benefit of being at the back of the house with a loud fan, so they seemed to have fared better.

 

We all laughed, AND THEN THE DRUMS STARTED AGAIN!!!!! ARE THEY SERIOUS?!?!?!? And then I went insane.

 

Luckily, it was short, and the rest of the day was silent, as the entire neighborhood caught up on sleep. I can’t tell if I’m recovered yet, because I don’t think the insane know that they are insane. That’s why they’re insane, right?

 

Yet still, insane or not, I remain a fan of the Buddhist monks and Buddhism in general. I'm just sayin' let's look into the need for all-night chants over massive sound systems, shall we?

 

Why I’m better suited for writing and radio…

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It really took way too much work to get these videos from the video camera to the You Tube. It required days of input from the finest minds in my household and even then, it came out a rather poor quality BUT it's something

Let me know what you think – really. Go to http://www.youtube.com/MalaynaTravels for the entire trilogy thus far. I can pretty much guarantee you'll all enjoy a laugh at my expense!

 

Multicultural Wedding Ceremony

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NExJohnChris

I caught a re-run of Northern Exposure as I ate my Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch the other day, and fell in love once again with whoever it was who wrote the lines for Chris.

Played by John Corbett, Chris was the local philosopher, DJ and mail-order minister and I wanted to be like him. Well, I can maybe claim 2 of the 3, since I like to philosophize on comparitive beliefs and I've married a handful of couples.

This wedding ceremony was so cool, I had to track it down online to share. I'd be happy to perform this ceremony for anybody, if you're interested. Here it is:

Marriage, it's a hard term to define. Especially for me–I've ducked it like root canal. Still there's no denying the fact that marriage ranks right up there with birth and death as one of the three biggies  in the human safari. It's the only one though that we'll celebrate with a conscious awareness. Very few of your remember your arrivaland even fewer will attend your own funeral.

You pick a society, any society, Zuni, Nudembo, Pennsylvania Dutch. What's the one thing they all have in common? Marriage. It's like a cultural hand-rail. It links folks to the past and guides them to the future. That's not all though. Marriage is the union of disparate elements. Male and female. Yin and Yang. Proton and Electron. What are we talking about here? Nothing less than the very tension that binds the universe. You see, when we look at marriage, people, we're looking at creation itself.

"I am the sky," says the Hindu bridegroom to the bride. "You are the earth. We are sky and earth united. You are my husband. You are my wife. My feet shall run because of you. My feet shall dance because of you. My heart shall beat because of you. My eyes shall see because of you. My mind shall think because of you and I shall love because of you. Now are you guys cool with that? Then kiss.

Credit and thanks go to the following:

The "Our Wedding" episode of Northern Exposure - Episode 3.22, Original Air Date(1): May 11, 1992 • Production Number: 77524
Written by(
1): Diane Frolov and Andrew SchneiderDirected by(1): Nick Marck

Diane and Andrew, you are my new best friends. Though many of my closest friends are fictional, it's good to remember and acknowledge the real people behind them.

Part of that is known as the Eskimo Love Song, should you care to reference it.

My guess is that my new best friends are fans of Joseph Campbell, as I am. Oh how I love the Joseph Campbell!