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Friday, October 30, 2015

The Sacred Mani Stones of Buddhists

There is a particular six-syllable Sanskrit mantra or hymn that’s very sacred among Buddhist. It’s recited as om mani padme hum, which loosely translates to "Behold! The jewel in the lotus", an invocation to the four-armed bodhisattva (an enlightened being ) Avalokiteshvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. But its true meaning goes far beyond that. The mantra cannot be translated into a simple phrase or even a few sentences because it contains the essence of the entire teaching of Buddha. Recitation of this mantra along with prayer beads is therefore, and quite reasonably, the most popular religious practice in Tibetan Buddhism as it is believed that doing so can lead to liberation and eventual Buddhahood.


Stones painted or carved with the sacred Buddhist mantra is littered everywhere in Tibet and Nepal. Photo credit

In Tibet, this mantra is found everywhere — on prayer flags and prayer wheels, printed on paper scrolls and carved on architectural panels. They are also found engraved or painted onto rocks and stones in the elegant Tibetan script, and sometimes in bright colors. Mani stones, or Jewel stones, as they are called, dot the entire Tibetan landscape. They are placed near monasteries, beside villages, along roadsides, along rivers and along long walls. Sometimes Mani stones are placed together to form mounds or cairns, especially at the summits of mountain passes or at the entrances to settlements as an offering. Huge groups of them may be found together, all with the same mantra repeated over and over again.

Carving Mani stones is considered a form of meditation. Monks make them and so do local villagers, and add them to mounds which grow bigger and bigger as time passes by. The Jiana Mani Stone Mound in Xinzhai Village, of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China grew just like that. The mound is 300 meters long, 80 meters wide and 4 meters high and is estimated to contain over 2 billion Mani stones, piled up by pious believers over a period of 200 years. It is the world’s largest Mani stone mound.

Mani stones can be seen in neighboring countries of Nepal and Bhutan as well, where Buddhism is also widely practiced. Large examples of Mani stones resembling tablets carved out of the sides of rock formations are in locations throughout the Nepali areas of the Himalayas. Mani stones are also found around monasteries in India, the true place of origin of the mantra where it was orally transmitted through many generations. It is not known when the mantra came into use, but the earliest recorded mentions of it occurred in the late 10th and early 11th centuries in the Karandavyuha Sutra, which itself was compiled at the end of the 4th century from an even earlier source.












These Photos Were Discovered on the Camera of a Soldier Who Died in WWII (24 Pics)

World War II was an incredibly important time in the history of the world. Families were torn apart, industry was forced to shift gears to provide supplies to soldiers. It was the most destructive war in the history of the world. Casualties are believed to have reached 50 million including soldiers and civilians alike. World War II played a pivotal role in political power and where we stand today. This is a subject that will always be interesting, captivating our minds and tearing at our emotions. Over the course of the last 70 years we have probed every detail about World War II. We've learned so much about human behavior and strategy. We've learned about business and innovation. We've learned about the immense power of our own emotions. We also have a desire to continue to learn about our history to prepare and plan for a better future. Well an amazing discovery was recently made by Levi Bettweiser, a collector and film restorer. He discovered a collection of undeveloped film at an auction that once belonged to a soldier who fought in WWII. He has documented the process of carefully restoring these images and what he has found is simply incredible. Take a look at the restored World War II photographs below.

He purchased a bundle of film from an auction in Ohio. Many of the rolls had water damage as well as rusted reels so he wasn't sure if he would be able to develop any of it. He is a professional film restorer so he is used to this however, these rolls were taken during WWII from a soldier so they were very important. He had to be especially careful when restoring this film because of the historical value of these images.

There were 31 rolls of undeveloped film in the bundle. All were taken by the same anonymous photographer and individually labeled. Some of the labels on the film rolls read; “Lucky Strike Beach”, “Start of Train Trip”, “Roll of French funeral, 1947″. There were also some letters wrapped around some of the undeveloped film rolls.

The letters were personal letters including a sort of diary of emotions and sights. One of the letters had a powerful quote from the original photographer that read, "I’ve always had a lonesome life, dreaming of success and love.”

Restoring old film rolls is no easy task. Bettweiser is a professional and takes the utmost care and pride in his work. He meticulously goes through a developing process knowing that he could easily ruin these historical images.

“When I pull the film that I just developed out my developing tank, I am the very first person who has ever seen that picture. They’ve never been enjoyed, they’ve never been remembered and so it almost increases the weight of the importance of that photo because it has never had those moments before. And that’s the goal of the rescued film project." - Levi Bettweiser
Levi is part of The Rescued Film Project, which is a coalition of photograph restorers who feel it is incredibly important to rescue film before it is lost forever. They do all this work for the public and do take your undeveloped photos and restore them for free.

“We’ve been receiving a ton of information about the locations in which the photos were taken because those are hard facts that you can research. But when it comes to who the photographer was we have much less to go on.”

Some thoughts written by the original photographer on coming back home.

The struggle with personal emotional conflict is apparent. It is heartbreaking to say the least.

Bettweiser is looking for any information about the historical photos that he found. If you recognize any of these people or places be sure to contact The Rescued Film Project.















Saturday, October 24, 2015

This Farmer Found A Buried Woolly Mammoth In His Field (12 Pics)

James Bristle, a farmer in Chelsea, Michigan had recently acquired a parcel of land that was being used as a soy bean field. The family bought the farm across the new piece of land back in the 1950's. James and a friend were inspecting the new piece of land when they came across something they never could have imagined.
While digging through the soil, James came across what he originally thought was an old bent fence post. He started to examine it more closely however. His mind started racing when he came to the realization that this was looking more and more like bone!
“We knew it was something that was out of the norm, my grandson came over to look at it, he's 5-years-old, he was speechless.” Bristle said.
James decided to call in someone who might be able to shed some more light on what he had found. He contacted the University of Michigan Professor and curator and director of the Museum of Paleontology Daniel Fisher (Hail to the Victors!). James was on a time crunch with needing to use this land, so Daniel and his team of researchers knew they had to jump into action.
They immediately started excavating when they got to the site. What they found blew even the trained professionals away. A buried Woolly Mammoth skull, tusks, jaw, shoulder blades and vertebrae. 
Daniel Fisher believes that this particular Woolly Mammoth is actually the carcass of one that was butchered by humans. By his estimations the Mammoth died around 11,000 years ago, and was about 40 years old when it died.
The people who killed this animal and carved up the carcass are known as Paleo-Indians. Fisher theorizes that the animal was cut apart and stored in a pond for a reserve food supply.
"It’s a pretty exciting day, I’ve been digging for 45 years and I’ve never dug anything up like that." James Bollinger, a local excavator who has been assisting in the dig said.
Fisher stated that this is one of the most complete Mammoth skeletons he has ever been a part of excavating. He says the more common find in Michigan is a Mastodon.
Fisher told reporters that this find could change the history of the area and put a new timeline on when humans were in this area of the world.
The bones are currently sitting on this flatbed in one of James barns. Fisher will begin the cleaning process there.
Bristle has decided to donate the bones to the University of Michigan so they can be put on display for many more people to enjoy. "I'd like it to go to a place where more people can see it and we can learn more about history from it," he said. "Really it's just the right thing to do."

Abandoned Castles Are Slowly Being Reclaimed By Nature (18 Pics)

Bannerman Castle - New York
Benneth College - New York

Champollion House - The Palace Of Prince, Said Halim - Cairo, Egypt

Chateau de Noisy Castle - Celles, Belguim


Kasteel van Mesen Castle - Lede, Belgium

Girls' School Lillesden Estate Mansion - Great Britain


Murometzevo Mansion - Russia
Pidhirtsi Castle - Pidhirsti, Ukraine

Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo Mansion - Moscow, Russia