Category Archives: Culture

Understanding Hamsa

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The name “Hamsa” (“Hansa” in Sanskrit, or “Al Khamsa” in Arabic) is from the Semitic root word for five, and is a very ancient symbol in the Middle East. Although it is an ancient symbol, the Hamsa is still popular today and is believed to possess magical powers of protection, happiness and prosperity.

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Hamsa and Budism

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Hamsa and Budism has emerged from India and then spread to South, South East and East Asian Countries (Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Tibet, China, Thailand, Nepal etc.).

Buddhism is a belief system with many rich symbols of which Mudras is of great importance as in Hinduism.  It draws attention to two Mudras in terms of It’s similarity with Hamsa.

Varada Mudra;

Hand faces down in varada mudra. To feel that blessing and fertility will come, and that prayers will be accepted and requests will be given.

Abhaya Mudra;

Hand faces up. Do not be afraid, the protective hand and goodness are with you.
There is an interesting link between the number five and Buddhist mudras as it represents the by five-directionsand the five colours of white, yellow, red, blue and green.Image

East signifies confidence and fearlessness. The hands are in a mudra of casting out fear. With the daily occurrence of violence and natural disaster around our world, many people find it difficult to pursue their way forward into the future. The tranquility gained from following the Buddha’s way better enables one to remain calm; like a mountain unmoved by ravaging elements, one can approach each day without fear.
West whose hands are in a mudra of meditative concentration. It signifies infinite light and boundless life. Amitabha Buddha presides over the Western Pure Land. North. Signifies calmness and purity. The hands are in the mudra of casting out fear. This gesture derives from an incident in which Devadata, Sakyamuni Buddha’s jealous cousin, set a charging elephant loose upon him.

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Without fear, the Buddha calmly sat down and the beast stopped before him. Like a charging elephant, life’s problems can overtake the mind, causing fear and forcing one to seek escape. The teachings of the Buddha can purify and calm the mind so that fear-creating problems can be faced, and brought under control.

Chanting the dharma of Amitabha Buddha improves one’s constitution and increases longevity.
The central direction represents wealth.  The hands are in the mudra of the ceremony of unction. Humans craving for material-wants find themselves in a futile exercise. At best, the joy derived from materialism is short-lived.

True wealth and fulfillment, however, can be attained by developing wisdom through following the Buddha’s teachings.
South. The hands are in a mudra of touching the ground, which symbolizes Sakyamuni Buddha’s resolve to overcome the temptations of Mara and thereby gain supreme enlightenment. He represents beauty and dignity. The practice of Buddhism cultivates inner beauty and sincerity. This in turn results in a more relaxed and pleasing external beauty.

The Hamsa: Up or Down?

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The hamsa hand is a popular apotropaic talisman for magical protection against the evil eye. The word ‘Hamsa’ means “5” and refers to the five fingers. The number “5” is a powerful number and represents defense, power and fortune.

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The hamsa hand conveys a message to the devil, so upwardly hamsa is good against the ‘evil eye’. A downward hamsa is an auspicious sign of prosperity and success.

The Hamsa hand is a prominent Jewish motif that can be found almost everywhere: charms, door entrances, Jewish jewelry, blessings for home and much more. According to the tradition, the Hamsa hand protects the ones who display it in their homes or wear it around their necks. Many believers place the Hamsa hand in their homes and at their work place to ward off the “evil eye”. Hamsa hand is also believed to bless the ones who own it with good fortune and success. Shaped as a hand with five fingers, the Hamsa hand is also known as the hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron.

Self Awareness in Everyday Life

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Everyone has their “quirks” and unique personalities, and sometimes these can even make us cute, special or endearing to many. However, some “quirks” are a bit less attractive, and when they are, self-awareness is somewhat critical in either improving upon them or managing their impact on others. Most importantly no one is perfect.

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That said, many people aren’t self-aware or aren’t self-aware ALL of the time. Maybe it is someone at the gym who thinks that all of the equipment is his or her very own and doesn’t like to share. Or, maybe it is a family member who believes that they are always right and that the rest of the world is wrong. Or, maybe you work with a colleague who just doesn’t have any sense of how they bully others. Some of these people can produce continual toxicity in our lives, while others may cause only a momentary frustration. Whoever or whatever the case may be, these people are among us.

But why is self-awareness so important? It makes us better people. Here’s why:

Empathy: Having the ability to see when we are wrong or when we have made a mistake allows us to see other peoples’ perspectives and to be empathetic to their situation or their feelings.

Admission: Have you noticed when people aren’t self-aware, it is very difficult for them to apologize or admit that they are wrong? Often, these people can’t even SEE that they are wrong in the first place. They tend to think that they are always right and if something doesn’t work out as planned, it is always someone else’s fault.

Man in the Mirror: If we can acknowledge our flaws, we can make positive change to improve upon them. Knowing is half the battle…and if you can admit to the qualities that are less than stellar about yourself…you can change them or improve upon them.

Tolerance: When you can see your own faults, it is easier to accept others’.

Humility: Understanding that we ourselves are not perfect allows us to get off our high-horses. Further, know we can always be better and as a result, can be thankful for the good that does come our way.

Likability: No one likes a know-it-all or an individual who thinks they are always right. Having the ability to see other peoples viewpoints, to be open and flexible, and acknowledge that you are not the only person who has the answer makes you a more attractive person.

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So how self-aware are you? Here are a few questions to ask:

Do you listen to others during a conversation? Or, do you tend to do a lot of the talking?

Do you ask others how they feel about situations? Or, do you make assumptions based on your own feelings?

Do you think about how your actions affect others? Or, are you confident that others are fine with how you handle situations?

Are you aware of other people’s social cues? Or, do you mostly focus on your own?

Can you admit when you are wrong, and have apologized when you are? Or, do you tend to think that things are wrong or go bad because of others?

If you answered yes to most of the first questions in each pair, you are most-likely self-aware. If you answered yes to most of the second questions in each pair, you probably could afford to tune into other people’s reactions and do some inner reflecting.

Self awareness gives you the ability to be open, thoughtful and aware of how you impact others. It is one of the best and most valuable qualities you can have! Do you think you are self-aware? Have you met others who aren’t? How did they make you feel?

Kabbalah and Hamsa

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The connection between Kabbalah and the Hamsa is evident from some of the artistic variations over hundreds of years. Because the Hamsa or Hamsa Hand protects against the Evil Eye, the designs merged in some decor and artwork another design called the Eye in Hand motif. The Eye in those pieces is clearly visible and one can see a realistic eye that appears in the center of the palm of the hand.

The color red is also thought traditionally to protect from the Evil Eye. Many mothers and grandmothers tie red ribbons and strings to children’s underwear and bedding to prevent the evil look. The color Red is significant within Jewish history because it was one of the items necessary for the building of the original Temple. Red thread and dye were used to make fabric and the Red thread came from a unique worm. According to biblical experts it was no accident that a simple and lowly form of life was needed to build the most important religious structures in Jewish history. The Red string or thread is meant to remind the wearer that in the grand scheme of things in life he is as lowly as the worm. It is a reminder that humility is the best form of defence and protection against the Evil Eye.

One of the most popular Kabbalah themes is the Red Kabbalah String, worn by many (including Madonna, Britney Spears and other celebrities) to ward off the Evil Eye. The idea of protection from the “Evil Eye” or ill intention is what makes the Hamsa Hand and the Kabbalah similar in purpose and the reason why over time many artists have combined the theme. Today more then ever there are examples of magical protection Hamsa jewelry meant to protect the wearer from the envious or evil eye.

Kabbalah and Hamsa themes can be seen in the pictures on this page. In the first picture there is a leather Hamsa bracelet with the Hamsa Hand clasp. In the center of the Hamsa, the symbol of the eye. The second picture shows a variation of the Kabbalah Red String bracelet with a small Hamsa charm attached.

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What is Spiritualism?

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Spiritualism is a religion that is not based on a relationship with a particular savior. It recognizes all prophets that have come to humankind throughout the ages, not setting one above the other.

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Rather, it is based upon the idea that we are all to form our own relationship with God, and to obtain guidance and accept responsibility for our actions based on our interaction with that personal guidance. We are able to have that instant and personal communication directly with God through no intermediary; hence the reason that we do not give anyone a fixed idea of God, only that there is a God. Any attempt to personalize the idea of God only limits the totality of that Intelligence, which is the reason that Spiritualists sometimes refer to that idea of God as “Infinite Intelligence” or “Infinite Spirit.”

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Another significant difference is the belief of survival of the personality after death, meaning that we still think of ourselves the same after death as during our physical life. This is proven by Mediumship, the bringing back of loved ones in evidential form who have gone through the change called death. Belief in the survival of the personality also removes grieving when it is realized that our loved ones are still around us from time to time, are able to communicate with us and still care about us, and can be communicated with. Mediumship, when done in the true sense, will produce a real understanding of this existence and level of interaction to and from the spirit realm.

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