Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Gates of Dawn

The Gates of Dawn

For Ethan...

Time once saw here, a spirited sprite
Of whimsy, hope, and ceaseless delight,
But broken now as the breathless wight
In solemn, stoic, revered respite.

With wild abandon, the day is gone.
Obtrude the night, deathly dosser drawn
O’er memories now of those days bygone.
Immortal made from a life foregone.

Enthralled of the Piper’s tenebrous tune
Of sorrow, despair, and dire doom.
So bellow bereft, herald-trumpet dragoon
Loving dirge of laud to fervid consume

So no songs shall sing of mirth tonight
Nor shall fires burn of a lucid light.
For what here still bides is severed sight,
A hindered heart, and rustic rite

Lonelier now does the way wend on
As a hapless haunt, ere life withdrawn
By fate; ferried off to meet anon
To gather there at the Gates of Dawn

©Justin Southworth

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Friday, March 9, 2012

English Part 1

This is the first post in a series on the English language. It will feature descriptions of features of English phonology, morphology, and syntax, a discussion of various prescriptive rules, and finally a discussion on views on the state of the English language. To start this series off, I first want to address a few things. The first of these is descriptive and prescriptive linguistics. Second, I wish to have a general discussion of the English language The final thing I want to address is the historical development of English. 

When looking at the grammar of a language there are two ways in which you can approach the material. One of these is linguistic prescriptivism. Linguistic prescriptivism is a method by which a standard of a language is determined. By this, I mean that rules are devised to describe the ideal version of the language by the views of society. The other method is descriptive linguistics. In this branch of linguistic study, the goal is to analyze the language as it is used in every day life to describe objectively the underlying linguistic structures. It may appear at first glance that these are two conflicting ideologies. One is set on imposing on people what is the "correct method", the other is an aim to reveal the complexities of what speakers are doing. But the two can complement one another. Indeed, both have their own importance. Rules can be developed out of general linguistic descriptions which can then go on to create a standard by which formal communication is facilitated. Prescriptive forms of a language have their place. They keep cohesion behind a form of a language by which those who are educated in these rules can communicate successfully. But at the same time, there are places where prescriptive forms do not matter as much. This is the case in many social situations. In informal settings, people can revert to their own unique idiolect which may vary in certain phonological, syntactic, lexical, morphological, and orthographic manners. In a word, an idiolect is a person's personal dialect. Everyone speaks a dialect of English. Even the standard variety is a dialect. Dialects are, contrary to popular belief, nothing bad. They are not deficient or incorrect ways of speaking. They are simply a different variety with the same intrinsic value as every other variety. Language is a dynamic phenomena. In the immortal words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "Panta rhei," all flows. Language changes, which can bring about opposing viewpoints concerning linguistic prescriptivism. Some view prescriptivism to be a bad thing, hindering process of language evolution, while others view it as a way of preventing the degradation of the language. In my opinion, I think that both linguistic descriptivism and prescriptivism are both pragmatic ways of viewing a language's grammar. Both have their place within the world of grammar, whether it be to describe differences in dialects or to set down a standard so people can communicate much more easily and systematically. 

So, a few things about English. English is an Anglo-Frisian language descending from the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. In the United States alone over 250 million people speak English. It is the official language in 54 countries, 27 non-sovereign entities, the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, NAFTA, et al. There are many dialects of the language across the world. Some are similar to others and can be easily understood by most speakers. Others, not so much. Many of these highly variant dialects are pidgins and creoles of English. Pidgins occur when two or more groups with no common language interact. In order to establish relations and communication, simplified forms of languages are developed, with one of the languages being the dominant language. They are generally not stable and contain some variety between speakers. Pijin, spoken on the Solomon Islands, is an example of an English pidgin which does not resemble the standard variety:

     Tanggio tumas fo helpem mi.           Thank you very much for helping me
     Nem blo' mi Charles.                       My name is Charles.

A creole language is also a language created as a result of the encounter of several different languages. Creoles differs from pidgins in that it is a full and stable language. One theory on creole languages is that they are the antecedent of pidgins which are nativized by children as a first language. The result is that features of languages which are missing from the pidgin get filled in. Tok Pisin is a pidgin of English which is currently undergoing creolization. The following is an example of the Lord's Prayer translated into Tok Pisin:

Papa bilong mipela
Yu stap long heven.
Nem bilong yu i mas i stap holi.
Kingdom bilong yu i mas i kam.
Strongim mipela long bihainim laik bilong yu long graun,
olsem ol i bihainim long heven.
Givim mipela kaikai inap long tude.
Pogivim rong bilong mipela,
olsem mipela i pogivim ol arapela i mekim rong long mipela.
Sambai long mipela long taim bilong traim.
Na rausim olgeta samting nogut long mipela.
Kingdom na strong na glori, em i bilong yu tasol oltaim oltaim.

English has gone under many changes over the centuries. English came into being after the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britannia. It was a very different language from the one we speak today. It was highly Germanic and much more synthetic than English is today. It featured five grammatical noun cases(nominative - agent/subject, accusative - patient/object, genitive - possession, dative - indirect object, and instrument), two grammatical numbers (singular and plural), and three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter). Nouns came in numerous declensions, divided as either weak or strong.  The Anglo-Saxon verb was extremely complex. There were nine conjugations of verbs with only two tense distinctions (past/non-past). It was very different from what we think of as English and most would not be able to understand it. For example, today, I would probably get strange looks and be told to learn English if I said, "Is hēr ǣnig þe Englisce spricþ?" Is there someone here who speaks English? Anglo-Saxon English was spoken up until the 11th century and was influenced greatly prior to then by Latin brought in by missionaries and Scandinavian languages durring the time of the viking raids. In 1066, a new element was brought into the realm of English. This was the arrival of the Normans, and with them they brought Old Norman, an Indo-European language which descended from Gallic Vulgar Latin. This new addition would change the appearance of English greatly. One of the reasons is that with the change in power came a change in the language used for politics, polite discourse and literature. The result was a reduced morphological system, changes in phonology, and the addition of loan words from Norman French. Several linguists have proposed the idea that Middle English was a creole formed from the interaction of Anglo-Saxon and Norman French. This form of English lasted until the 1400s. In this period there were more phonological, morphological and lexical changes. Printing began in 1476 - by Will Caxton - in England resulting of in standards of the language became established. Orthography remanded fluid until 1755 with Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language.  From this point on English resembled, relatively, what we speak today. This was the establishment of Modern English. 

In the next Part of this series I will discuss temporal elements of English.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Inchoative in Latin

Recently, I've been reviewing Latin and I noticed a pattern which I had not noticed in six years of study. That being: Latin has an inchoative aspect. The inchoative is a distinction of the imperfective aspect which indicates the beginning of an action. In Latin, it takes the form of the derivational affix -(e)sc-. The further I looked into it, I discovered evidence to support my assumption that there was indeed an inchoative aspect, primarily in the book Latin Suffixal Derivatives in English and their Indo-European Ancestry by D. Gary Miller, PhD. According to Dr. Miller, "Indo-European developed a derivational pattern of stative *-eh1- beside inchoative *-eh1-s-, iterative inchoative *-eh1-s-ḱ-... Latin simplified the derivational process to stative -ē- beside inchoative -ē-sc-, as in *l(e)uk-ē- L lūcet 'it is light' : *leuk-eh1-sḱ- L lūcēscit 'it gets light."

Traditionally it is not something taught in Latin classes and the verbs formed from the use of this aspect are seen as being independent verbs. For instance, the verb florescere has the meaning "to begin flowering." It is derived from the stem flor- which means "flower." Other words derived from this stem are florere, "to flower" and flos, floris, meaning "a flower." These are all seen as independent words with similar etymology. Structurally, however, there is a stem modification via the inchoative aspect, in regards to florescere. This modification occurs in numerous words:

Albescere 'to become white' derives from the verb albere 'to be white'
Evanescere 'to pass away, disappear' derives from vanus 'empty,' implying that the person is becoming empty in a vague sense.
Pubescere 'to mature' derives from pubes 'adult'
Arborescere 'to grow into a tree' derives from arbor ''tree'
Reminisci 'to remember' derives from re- 'again' + mens 'mind.' Whatever is being remembered is "beginning to be in the mind again."
And the list goes on.

The wide assortment of verbs bearing this derivation supports the presence of a Latin inchoative aspect.

Miller, D. Gary. Latin Suffixal Derivatives in English and Their Indo-European Ancestry. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Recently, I started a project with the intent of a possible revitalization of the Atakapas-Ishák language. The Atakapas-Ishák people are a Native American tribe who lived along the Gulf Coast from Galveston Bay in Texas to Vermillion Bay in Louisiana. The word Atakapas is of Choctaw origin. It means man eater. Ishák is the Atakapan word for people. The Atakapas language is considered to be a language isolate although there have been other linguists who have proposed various language families to which it could belong. John R. Swanton has proposed the Tunican language family which would include Atakapas, Tunica, and Chitamatcha. Mary Haas later proposed the Gulf Coast language family which added the Muskogean languages to those in Swanton's Tunican language family. Unfortunately, there are no speakers of the language alive.

For a long time, the Atakapas-Ishák were thought to be extinct, but more recently, many who are of Atakapas-Ishák heritage have been rallying together in an attempt to be recognized as a tribe. In 2006, the decedents of the Atakapas-Ishák met as a tribe for the first time in more than 100 years. On February 25, 2012, the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Atakapas Ishak Trace beginning in Lafayette, Louisiana took place. I had the chance to attend the ceremony and meet many members of the tribe including Chief Michael Amos. Many that I met were excited about the possibility of a language revival.

There are few resources for the Atakapas-Ishák language. As it stands, there is a dictionary written by John R. Swanson and Albert S. Gatchet which includes some discourse material. In 1929, Swanson wrote a grammar sketch of the language. A primer of the Atakapas-Ishák language was written by Hubert Singleton in 1997. With the limited amount of data on the language, my preliminary conclusion is that it may not be possible to revive the language to a colloquial level. There is still the possibility that it can be revived to a literary level. The dictionary contains terms which are common to every day life for the people at their height. Therefore, it could be possible to create a reader of Atakapas-Ishák folklore and mythology in the language.

All in all, I am very excited about this project. It is exactly what I want to be doing with my linguistics career.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The following is a paper written for a Philosophy of Perception class. It answers the following questions:
What is the problem of intentionality and how does Crane propose to solve it?
Do you think his solution is plausible?

Justin Southworth
Philosophy 349

When concerning intentionality, there is an intrinsic problem which is encountered. But to simply address this problem and solutions, primarily the solution proposed by Crane, to this problem is to get ahead of ourselves. If we were to simply address this problem we would be lost on what it is that is the problem. The problem lies with in the fundamental aspects of intentionality, therefore, we must define what these fundamental aspects are. 
Traditionally defined, intentionality is the mind's direction upon an object. That is to say that all mental phenomena have an intentional object. Intentional states, which are intentional, possess two qualities: (1) the have directedness towards  an object and (2) have  aspectual shape. Let us look at the second of these qualities first, for the sake of order: Intentional states possess aspectual shape.
What is meant by 'intentional states possess aspectual shape'? It means quite simply that in an intentional state, the object of this intentional state is being directed towards in a certain manner. Much like when one looks at dogs running in a park, this someone sees these dogs from a certain perspective. He or she is looking at these dogs from a particular place, at a particular angle, such that there are things concerning the sight before him or her that he or she cannot know. Take for example, Sherlock Holmes investigating a murder and the murderer was the butler. Before Sherlock Holmes has any evidence to suggest that the butler is the murderer,  he will not know that the butler is the murderer and cannot make such a claim. His current frame of reference only allows for him to see the butler as the head servant of the house hold and not as the murderer. Once the evidence that Holmes has collected is great enough to suggest that the butler is the murderer, he can now see the butler as more than just he head servant, but as the murderer. The aspectual shape is not what is presented but the way in which the object – we will analyze what is meant by object later – is presented. What is presented by the aspectual shape is called the intentional content. An individual is not presented with an aspect but, rather, under a particular aspect. The aspect is not what is presented, then, but is the  mode in which something is presented. Since nothing can be presented as a whole, there cannot be any pure presentation of an object, as with the example above, the butler is presented as the head servant to Holmes until he has evidence to support that the butler is the murderer, then and only then, the butler is presented as the murderer. It is true that Holmes can see the butler as the murderer and the head servant, but the butler could have a son, but Holmes is unaware of the butler's fatherhood. The subject, in this case, Holmes, determines which aspectual shape will be given for any particular object. That is not to say that the aspectual shape is subjective because the aspectual shape exists free of the subject. For example, when Holmes views the butler as being the head servant, he views him as the head servant, but when not viewing the butler as the head servant, say as the murderer, he is still the head servant, regardless of whether he is being viewed as such. This goes to say that the mode of presentation for an object only presents particular aspects through which the object is viewed. This being said, let us now move to the first quality of intentional states: Intentional states are directed at an object.
Directedness is the idea that a mental phenomena has an object – which will henceforth be referred to as an intentional object. This definition, then, brings up the question of what an intentional object is. John Searl defined an intentional object as being an ordinary object, which goes to say that an intentional object is simply what the particular intentional state is about – his defense is essentially that you can think about a person, such as Albert Einstein, and you are thinking directly about the person, Albert Einstein, and not some strange shadowy intermediary – but this definition brings up two problems. The first of these problems arises when trying to say that an intentional object is simply what an intentional state is about if it is an ordinary object. It is true that an intentional object could be an object in the traditional sense  –  such as a desk or a cat –  but it can be shown that an intentional object can be about entities which are things not in this traditional sense – such as Albert Einstein's Theories of General and Special Relativity, which is not an object at all, but is the relations between space, time, and speed. Since these theories can be intentional objects, then intentional objects cannot be simply ordinary objects. It could be taken to mean that by ordinary objects he meant an existing entity then we can account for these other entities. But this then brings up the problem that intentional objects can be things which do not exist, such as a unicorn. By saying that intentional objects are objects in the sense of existing entities, but the intentional state is directed upon an object that is not an existing entity, such as a unicorn, then by definition, the intentional object does not exist. By using this definition, we find ourselves digging deeper, but going no where. Intentional object then can be said to be the object of an intentional states and is an ordinary object, but some of these intentional objects do not exist. This, in itself, seems contradictory and is fighting with itself. It seems to say that some of these ordinary objects, of which intentional objects are, simply do not exist. The solution to this conundrum that is given by Crane is that some intentional objects do not exist by denying that they are ordinary objects. The word object can take on many meanings besides the substantial conception – of which both physical and abstract objects belong –  which possesses a certain nature. The conception that Crane proposes we use is the schematic conception, a conception of objects which do not possess any nature. These kinds of objects are related to the grammatical sense of an object. This is like saying the objects are the direct object of a transitive verb. For example, in the sentence 'Jack fell down the hill', the object of the verb 'fell' is 'hill.' The word hill in this sentence, of course, is representative of a substantial object, but is itself, in fact, not. It is nothing more than the answer to 'What did Jack fall down?' The main point that Crane was making by this solution is to say that just because an object is not a shadowy intermediary is not to say that the object is an ordinary object of some kind, as it could be this other, schematic, type of object. The object of though is just as the grammatical sense of the word: an indeterminate – using the object of the example above, 'hill', we can see that this hill is nondescript. It has no particular definitive characteristics, such as height or slope, which it would have if the hill were an ordinary object. So he concludes that these objects would belong to no class of object as they possess no nature. To be an intentional object means to be nothing more than what the mind is directed upon in any given state of intention. It should also be made a point that at any given time, there is no one answer for the question of what is the object of an intentional state.
Intentionality is often defined as being an aboutness of something. That is to say, 'What is a certain thought about?' The answer is that thought's intentional object. It then seems apparent that intentionality is a relation between an intentional object and the subject of the intentional state. That is to say, “'a' is in relation to 'b.'” If not all intentional objects exist, then there cannot be a relation to those which do not exist, as there cannot be a relation to which nothing is related – what is being related to is often called the relata. This means, that with out a relata, the relation cannot exist at all. Thus we have stumbled upon what Tim Crane calls the problem of intentionality. It can be summed up as follows:
(A) Every thought is a relation which relates the thinking subject to the object with is  thought about.
(B) To say there is a relation is to say that the relata exist
(C) Some intentional objects do not exist.
It should become apparent that there is conflict among these ideas, such that they contradict each other.  Crane suggests that the solution for this is to deny (A), and to keep (B) and (C). His defense for (C) is that it is undeniable that intentional objects do not exist, yet thoughts about them do. One can think about unicorns, the philosophers stone, and impossible shapes, such as his example of a round square, yet these objects do not exist. So denying this proposition does little for solving the problem. It has also been debated that (B) can be rejected, by saying that there can be essentially a realm of non-existent objects, but Crane rejects the idea. Crane sees only reason to dismiss (A) which seemingly, by holding (C) true, puts him in the same boat as those who rejected (B), but this not the case. By saying that there are intentional objects that do not exist does not say that there are some non-existent, but real, intentional objects. It says that there are thoughts which are about the non-existent, such as Cerberus or unicorns, but there is no realm of the non-existent that would be needed for it to be held true that (B) were false. Instead, by accepting that (A) is false and using the definition of intentional objects proposed by Crane, we find that there need not be any actual real object to correspond to the intentional objects. In the case of Cerberus or unicorns, we find that thoughts of these these two, and others, have a correspondence with simply nothing, thus these thoughts are about Cerberus and unicorns because these are the answer to the question 'About what is being thought?' and not because unicorns or Cerberus exist. This is not to say that these thoughts are the same, because they are not. It is true that they are ultimately about nothing, but they differ because Cerberus and unicorns are not the same nothing to which is being referred. This can be put in another way. To say one has a thought about Cerberus, despite there being no correspondence with a real object, the intentional object is Cerberus, because the intentional object is the answer to the question: 'About what am I thinking?' Since the thought is about Cerberus, the answer is Cerberus, although its correspondence is nothing, because Cerberus is a more specific answer and is a much better answer than nothing. If the intentional object has a correspondence to something real, then the intentional object can be said to be real, but only because it possesses this correspondence and not because the intentional object is real in itself. The proposition that all thoughts are relations between a thinking subject and an object, then must be mistaken, because not all thoughts are relations between a thinking subject and an object. If not all intentional objects exist then thoughts about them must not be relations, since the relata of such a relation would not exist and according to the second proposition, a relation requires the existence of the relata. 
This brings up a problem with the idea of intentionality as intentionality is an intentional state's directedness to an object from a certain aspectual shape. It appears that intentionality is a relation, but if not all intentional states are relations to an intentional object, then what can be said of this relational nature possessed by the intentional states? Crane elegantly shows how the relational nature of intentionality is still present as follows: We know that an intentional state possesses both directedness and aspectual shape, such that directedness is defined by the intentional object and the aspectual shape by the intentional content. The intentional state cannot exist with out one of these, and these together make the mode of intentionality, or intentional mode. Just as the direction of the intentional state has aspectual shape, the intentional object has intentional content. That is to say that an intentional object can not exist, as it may have no reference to any existing entity, but there is something to the intentional state, because the content is there – or, to put it another way, one can think and have that though directed at nothing, but cannot think and not think anything. Thus we do not need to present the intentional object if we present the content of the object. We can then say that intentionality is a relation between an intentional mode and the intentional content and the relational nature of intentionality is preserved.
His solution to the problem of intentionality is sound and I believe it is plausible. I can find no holes in his reasoning and see no reason why his solution should be refuted. By choosing to refute the idea that all intentional states are relations between a thinking, or perceiving, subject and an object, in order to remove contradictions which seemed to arise in the idea of intentionality, Crane was able to show how intentional states can still retain their relational nature by showing that, although there may be intentional objects which do not exist, there is always intentional content, and thus the relational nature is not to the intentional objects but the intentional content. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya - The Heart of the Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom

The following is a paper written in fall of 2010 for an Anthropology of Religion course at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Justin Southworth
Anthropology 305

Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya
It was a brisk Wednesday November-night in 2010 when I entered the white house of Katog Choling Ratna Ling – the Tibetan Cultural Center in Lafayette, Louisiana – for the practicing of the Heart Sūtra – otherwise known as Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya in Sanskrit, which translates to “Heart of the Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom” in English – by the practitioners of the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the for major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma tradition has its origins with Padmasambhava, The Lotus Born – otherwise known as Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Teacher – to whom the Nyignmapa show respect before every meditation or practice. Guru Rinpoche is said to have been a great yogi who brought buddhism to Tibet. He is highly revered in the entirety of Tibetan Buddhism. (Amnyi N.d.)
The environment was light and friendly. Of the small group of practitioners of ages from early adulthood to middle age, all greeted my presence with a warm smile. The meditation room of the house was neat and tidy, with dim lighting.  On the wall, in front of where the practitioners would be sitting, was a glass case which contained several bronze artifacts. Among them were a statue of Guru Rinpoche, the Dharma Wheel, and candles inside of Lotus shaped holders. There were tapestries on the walls emanating with bright colours the depiction of Guru Rinpoche and several other figures. On the wooden lay red cushions on which the practitioners sat during meditation. In front of each cushion were small tables upon which they placed cards containing the texts which were soon to be read. 
Upon entering the room, many of the practitioners prostrate three times as a sign of respect to their teachers. They take their places on the cushions and wait several minutes before beginning. The practice begins with the reciting of the Vajra seven line prayer to Guru Ripoche as a way of invoking him for guidance and to show their respect for him. This prayer is, by many practitioners of Nyingma, recited incessantly throughout their waking hours and is considered to be the most important prayer of the tradition. This prayer is recited three times before any other prayers, meditations, or ceremonies are done. (Nepalese 2009) The prayer, like many prayers and mantras in Buddhism, is repeated in a chant like manner, the voices of the members of Katog Choling Ratna Ling harmonizing, resonating, and amplifying one another into a conglomerated sound which emanated with energy. Once the prayer has been recited three times the begin the recitation of the Vajra Guru mantra. For this one of the members removes his mala, the Buddhist prayer beads, from around his neck to count the number of recitations. This is a mantra for healing, transformation, and protection. In Sanskrit it reads: Om Am Hum Vajra Guru Padme Siddhi Hum. The great teacher Karma Lingpa, who lived in the 14th century, commented greatly on the meaning behind these. The first three syllables, Om Am Hum, are symbolic of the the vajras – the body, speech and mind. Vajra is unlimited power – wisdom which is indestructible to ignorance. Guru is a wise compassionate master of the inner and outer essences of being. Padme is the lotus, a symbol of enlightenment to Buddhists and is, according to tradition, from what Guru Rinpoche emerged after his incarnation as an eight year-old child. Siddhi is the attainment of wisdom of the Buddhas. The mantra closes on Hum, the essence of mind and spirituality. (Nepalese 2007) The mantra is repeated aloud five times before the group enters into a period of silent meditation. By virtue of the fact that he continued counting with his mala, I assume that the group was reciting the mantra silently, meditating on its meaning. After some time, they begin to recite the mantra aloud once more, again five times.
After finishing the mantra, the begin to recite a praise of the realm of sublime knowing, which then transitioned into the Heart Essence of the Perfection of Sublime Knowing, or The Heart Sutra. Traditionally a condensed version of the sutra is recited, but at Katog Choling Ratna Ling, they recite the entirety of the story of The Heart Sutra. The story is of an encounter of “The Blessed One” Shariputra and Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva – a bodhisattva is an enlightened being who, motivated by compassion, has decided to delay his Buddha-hood in order to help other beings attain Buddha-hood. The condensed version of the text reads: 
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, practicing deep prajna paramita,
 clearly saw that all five skandhas are empty, transforming all suffering and distress.
   Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.
 Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form.
 Sensation, thought, impulse, consciousness are also like this.
     Shariputra, all things are marked by emptiness - 
not born, not destroyed,
not stained, not pure,
without gain, without loss.
 Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, thought, impulse, consciousness.
 No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, object of thought.
 No realm of sight to no realm of thought.
 No ignorance and also no ending of ignorance to no old age and death and also no ending of old age and death.
 No suffering, and also no source of suffering, no annihilation, no path.
 No wisdom, also no attainment.
Having nothing to attain, Bodhisattvas live prajna paramita with no hindrance in the mind.
 No hindrance, thus no fear.
Far beyond delusive thinking, they attain complete Nirvana.
 All Buddhas past, present and future live prajna paramita and thus attain anuttara samyak sambodhi.
   Therefore, know that prajna paramita is the great mantra, the wisdom mantra, the unsurpassed mantra, the supreme mantra, which completely removes all suffering. This is truth, not deception. Therefore set forth the prajna paramita mantra, set forth this mantra and say:
     Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha [Dzogchen 2003]

After answering Shariputra, Shariputra praised the bodhisattva. After reading the story of The Heart Sutra, the group begin to recite the mantra contained there within. After several recitations, they entered into an extend period of silent meditation on the the meaning of the mantra –  Beyond, beyond, totally beyond, perfectly beyond: Awakening, Yes! – which is the essence of the heart sutra. After the many minutes spent meditation on the mantra, they began to recite it once more, completing five recitations. 
From here they went on to reciting the Averting Prayer in which they pay homage to the Buddha, the Tara, the Sangha and the Supreme Mother of the Essence of Sublime Knowing in hopes of averting counter-productive forces, offering that they may be neutralized, that they may be pacified, that they may be utterly pacified, clapping after each. The prayer ends with presenting the essence of the sutra – that all things are unceasing and unborn, that they are not permanent, that they do not come nor go, and that are not separate but not identical – and paying homage to it. 
Next they began the recitation of the Dedication of Merit, which is a prayer for people who are facing hardships. One of the members retrieves a document which has on it the names of many individuals to whom they are dedicating the prayer. Then the prayer is said first in Sanskrit twice and then the English translation is read. This prayer is a wish for all  to obtain buddha-hood and thus to be free of suffering. It reads in English as:
Through this goodness, may omniscience be attained
And thereby may ever enemy (mental defilement) be overcome
May beings be liberated from the ocean of samsara
Which is troubled by waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death. [Rinpoche N.d.]

The ocean of samsara is the continuous flow of birth, life, death and rebirth. Buddhism is an attempt to achieve Nirvana which is an escape from this flow.

Following this, the recited the Prayer to Avert Obstacles from the Elements. This prayer is asking for the blessings of Guru Rinpoche so that they can pacify the elements and remove the suffering that occurs when the elements of earth, wind, water, and fire place obstacles in our way. This is read once in English and is then Recited in Tibetan seven times. The ceremony ended with a Prayer for the Longevity of Khentral Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche – the current abbot of Mardo Tashi Choling in Easter Tibet –in Tibetan and a Prayer for the Katog Monastery. Khentral Rinpoche often visits the Katog Choling Ratna Ling as he does many Nyingma monasteries to give teachings. He took his monastic vows when he was only seven years of age, leaving his home and family behind him, he went to a monastery and received thre Khenpo degrees, which are the equivalent of a Doctor of Philosophy. The members of Katog Coling Ratna Ling hold great respect and reverence towards Rinpoche. (Katog 2010)
Because of the nature of the beliefs of the Buddhists, especially those presented in The Heart Sutra, the practitioners did not recognize the concept of self in the ceremony. The recited everything in a rather egalitarian manner, such that there was no leader, as they were all equal and connected. Throughout the ceremony the practitioners continually showed respect and reverence to the culture from which the school derives, to the elders of the school, and the great teachers. They all showed great compassion for all things, as was indicative in the Dedication of Merit, which was dedicated to all those who are going through hardships. Earlier that day, as I was passing by the house, they even offered me a bagged lunch. There was a gentleness in the way that the ceremony was carried out. The calmness that came upon the practitioners as the practiced and the relaxed peaceful way in which they did their recitations demonstrated the calm, sereneness of the Buddhist culture.

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Dzogchen Center
2003 Mahaprajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra – The Heart Sutra., accessed November 20, 2010.
Katog Choling Tibetan Cultural Center
2010 Katog Choling Tiberan Cultural Center FAQ Log., accessed  November 20, 2010.
Nepalese and Tibetan Arts Blog
2007 Vajra Guru Mantra., accessed November 20, 2010.
2009 The Vajra Seven-Line Prayer to Guru Rimpoche., accessed November 20, 2010.
N.d. Dedication of Merit Prayer., accessed November 20, 2010.

The Pan-Indian Sacred Pipe and Tobacco Ritual

Justin Southworth
ANTH 386
The Pan-Indian Sacred Pipe and Tobacco Ritual
Tobacco is a very important sacrement among Native Americans. It is often used as an offering to the spirits as well as offerings of war and peace. As important as tobacco is the vessel within which the tobacco was offered. This is the sacred pipe, sometimes referred to as the calumet. The term calumet is derived from the French word for 'reed' which was used in reference to the stem of the pipe. This term has caused confusion over the years in investigating the sacred pipe, in that it ias been used by some scholars for the decorated feathered stem of the pipe, by others for the pipes used in a specific and complex ritual, and for simply the aforementioned ritual. To avoid confusion, "calumet" will henceforth refer to the decorated stem, and "sacred pipe" will be used to refer to all separate-stemmed pipes (Paper 648). The sacred pipe is a deeply symbolic artifact in a Native American pipe-centered tobacco ritual which has spread over most of North America.
The modern sacred pipe consists of two parts–the bowl and the stem–which are not only cosmologically symbolic but are also gendered. The bowl, commonly made of stone, is feminine and  according to Jordan Paper, "is a sacrificial vessel that itself is a miniature cosmos." This microcosm includes all the directions, spherically around the pipe, to each of which the tobacco is offered, "as well as to plants, animals, and spirits (as part of one's relations)" bringing the whole cosmos into the bowl itself. The bowl is variable in shape, including a straight bowl, an elbow shape–sometimes with more than one bowl, carved in an effigy, or with projections just beyond the bowl– a "T" shape, a disc shape, and a circular shape, as described by Paper. The stem, usually wooden, is masculine and is used to give the combusted sacrement to the spirits. This stem may be decorated with eagle feathers which "further symbolize the sending of the smoke." The stem is also "symbolically equated with the path of life" (Paper 643-4, 652).
The sacred pipe can be found in most of North America in some form. It is widely known that the pipe is used among the plains indians, most notably, the Sioux peoples, which are often credited for creating the tradition, but the pipe and its ritual are found from "the east slope of the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic Coast"(Paper 646).  There have been debates about the origin and spread of these pipes among scholars such as Tumbaugh and Blakeslee. According to Tumbaugh, the spread of the sacred pipe ritual is a response to contact with Europeans and may be "elements of a widespread revitalization process active at a relatively late period" (Tumbaugh 689). Blakeslee disagrees with Tumbaugh's conclusion in his paper "Origin of Calumet Ceremony." Blakeslee states that the ceremony and the pipe originated on the Plains, where Blakeslee says that the earliest reference to the ceremony can be found by the Plains Apaches in 1634, but that the ceremony developed "at a time too early and in a place too remote from European colonies for it to be considered a revitalization movement," although he does agree that the ceremony spread through the Eastern woodlands took place in historic times (Blakeslee 766). Both of these were based on Ethnohistorical accounts, and according to Jordan Paper, lack "comprehensive reference to artifacts" and that "a thorough survey of the ritual artifact itself clearly demonstrates that he sacred pipe was in widespread use prior to contact with Europeans" (Paper 647). According to Paper, the disc pipe, "usually dated from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, is widely distributed throughout north-central North America" and that this pipe offers "a direct connection between the ethnographic and archaeological periods." This pipe is a separate-stemmed pipe, which can be found as early as C.E. 100-500, as is the pipe found at the Copena Site in Alabama, which coincides with the upper limit for the Hopewellian monitor shape pipe–although not a separate stemmed pipe, is found in the area of the ethnographic sacred pipe (Paper 655). Paper then concludes:
Therefore, the sacred pipe  as a pan-Indian ritual artifact certainly dates to  the 13th century, the beginning of  the disc pipe  shape; it is probably at least as early as the sixth century, where the use of separate-stemmed pipe is attested. The widespread use of the monitor shape ore likely indicates a pan-Indian ritual of tobacco offering than a vast single culture, as archaeologists presumed until recently (Brose:67).  Minimally, the pan-Indian pipe ritual is probably over two millennia old. (Paper 655)
The modern pipe used today is the "T" shaped pipe, because of its easy manufacture, which appears to have developed from "the disc pipe with prow-shaped projection as well as the contemporaneous double-tapered pipe bowl with similar prow" (Paper 659).
The ritual surrounding the sacred pipe stretches across most of North America, and is on the whole, quite similar, but may differ in regards to complexity. The ceremony always begins with the assembly of the pipe; the male stem inserted into the female bowl. This is the joining of the two genders, as all life is created. (Paper 644). In the rituals, the pipe is the center of the cosmos and thus this center passes with the pipe. The pipe and smoke are offered to the sacred directions; typically the four cardinal directions, the zenith, and the nadir (Paper 643). These sacred directions often possess their own gender qualities. The Nadir is often considered to be feminine, as the Earth is also considered feminine. The bowl of the pipe, made of earth is often touched to the ground, symbolizing the feminine connection of the two. The zenith, according to Paper, has a complex understanding: "While the day sky, the Sun, the West Wind, and the Thunder Beings are male, the night sky, in particular the Moon, is female." The stem is usually raised to the zenith, as it is made of wood and like the trees from which this wood comes from, stretches from the earth to the sky. The four cardinal directions are "Grandfathers," but the South, according to Paper, "may be understood as female," as it is considered to be the direction of "growth and nature" (Paper 644-5). More than indicating the direction cosmology of the native peoples of north america, the ritual also covers a symbolic social cosmos, which is described by Paper:
In communal smoking, the ritual also indicates the cosmos of social relationships. At the center is the self, the one holding the pipe.  Next come the circles of human relationships: family, clan, and "nation." Further outward is  the sphere of animal relations: those who walk on the earth in  the four directions, those who fly in  the sky above, and those who crawl through the earth below or swim in  the sea.  Finally there  is  the sphere of  the  most  powerful spirits: the  four  directions/winds,  the sky  and  the  earth/sea.  Together these spheres of beings form "all my relations. (Paper 644)
The most common leaf smoked in the pipe ritual is tobacco, which is considered sacred. It is used as "facilitating agents in religion and ceremonial trance induction, witchcraft, divination, and healing ceremonies." Among the Caroline Indians and the Seminoles, it is used to "improve fishing, abate storms and lightning, or [as a token of] thanksgiving from escape from danger." Among the Tunica, its uses include" to "augment magical properties of body" as well as an initiation rite for boys entering puberty. It is used as "offerings... to supernatural spirits or gods" among the Iroquois, and other tribes East of the Rocky mountains. The smoke is used in "shamanistic divination" by "watching [the] direction in which [the] smoke drifts" and "to avert hunger and thirst" among the Florida Indians. The Iroquois and Montreal indians smoke tobacco to ensure good health. It is used among the Plains Indians "to achieve harmony" between quarreling men. It is also used among some West Indian groups to "make oneself drunk to see visions, [and to] know of future success." This last use, as well as uses among South American tribes have led to the conclusion of possible hallucinogenic properties of tobacco. In a Medical Anthropology Newsletter, it has been suggested that this is produced by the presence of beta-carboline alkaloids, such as Harmaline, and tetra-hydroharmine (Jangier 6-11). The ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott points out however, "the tobacco species important in shamanism contain nicotine and sometimes lesser amounts of nornicorine, and these compounds are the most important in tobacco pharmacology" (Ott 375).
The use of the sacred pipe is widespread among North America. The rituals associated with the pipe follow the same basic form, but may be more or less complex in comparison to a neighboring tribe of people. Through archaeological evidence, it is apparent that the shape of the pipe has, over time, changed and developed into the modern sacred pipe, and the origin of the ritual and the pipe may be quite old. The wide spread use of tobacco among the Native American peoples as an offering to spirits and the similarity of rituals is an indication of a pan-indian ideological practice.
Works Cited
Blakeslee, Donald J. "The Origin an Spread of the Calumet Ceremony." American Antiquity 46.4 (1981): 759-68. JSTOR. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. < 280104>.
Janiger, Oscar, and Marlene Dobkin de Rios. "Suggestive Hallucinogenic Properties of Tobacco." Medical Anthropology Newsletter 4.4 (1973): 6-11. JSTOR. Web. 5 Apr 2011. <>.
Ott, Jonathan. Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History. Kennewick, WA: Natural Products, 1996. 373-76. Print.
Paper, Jordan D. "The Sacred Pipe: The Historical Context of Contemporary Pan-Indian Religion." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56.4 (1988):
643-65. JSTOR. Web. 5 Apr. 2011 < 7>.
Tumbaugh, William A. "Calumet Ceremonialism as a Nativistic Response." American Antiquity 44.4 (1979): 685-91. JSTOR. Web. 5 Apr. 2011 < 279107>.