Meet the robot Buddhist monk

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Xian'er is a robotic Buddhist monk that lives at the 1,700 year-old Longquan Temple in Beijing, China. Video below. The temple is host to an animation and maker studio meant to blend technology, science, and spirituality. From CNN:

(Animation studio head and Buddhist master) Xianfan, a graduate of the Chinese Central Art Academy, first conceived Xian'er (Xian stands for virtuous. Er means dumb in Beijing dialect but is a term of endearment) in 2013 as a cartoon character...

(Xian'er) can answer up to 100 questions and a CNN team put him through his paces on a recent visit to the temple.

At first, he didn't seem very co-operative. His head kept spinning around and, like a child, he kept saying: "Leave me alone; stop bothering me."

But when he was in the mood, his Buddhist wisdom shined through:

"Where are you from?" we asked.

"How would I answer a question that you human beings have no answer to?" he quipped.

"Xian'er, who are your parents?" we countered.

"Do the designers count?" was his pithy reply.

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Are you a spiritual leader? Take shrooms for science

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine seeks religious and spiritual leaders to participate in a research study on psilocybin and mystical experience.

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Native American Church members fight harassment by authorities

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“Peyote Drummer,” photogravure, Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1927.

Editor's note: The Oklevueha Native American Church, or ONAC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legal freedom to observe Native American spiritual traditions. Some of these involve sacramental or medicinal use of various plants: Peyote, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Cannabis, Mushrooms and others. I am an ONAC member. While law varies state by state, those who grow or use these plants--Native Americans, or otherwise--risk arrest, property confiscation, legal harassment, and police abuse. One of ONAC's members in California was recently arrested, and his property confiscated, shortly after local law enforcement were notified they have no right to do these things. ONAC is holding a press conference today to announce their response. —Xeni Jardin

There will be a press conference today, 2 PM at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa California, at 170 Railroad Street.

Noted Constitutional and Civil Rights Lawyer Matt Pappas will be announcing lawsuits and other legal actions against a number of Law Enforcement and County officials and entities.

These legal actions have become necessary because of repeated abuses of power and evidence of collusion by these groups to deprive members of the Native American Church of their Native Ceremonies and Sacraments by raiding their sacred grounds, confiscating their objects of worship and destroying the sacraments and medicines.

All of these items are protected under the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. These protections have repeatedly been upheld by numerous court cases around the country including the US Supreme Court, US District Courts and State Supreme Courts. Read the rest

Some of our favorite monsters from “Compendium Of Demonology and Magic” (ca. 1775)

The Prince of Darkness, Dagol devouring human limbs
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
A most bizarre book from the late 18th century.

Watch this great documentary about people who think they are gods

"Those Who Are Jesus" is Steven Eastwood's fascinating 2001 documentary about three people who have true delusions of grandeur based on "profoundly religious or revalatory experiences." Read the rest

Joey L.'s portraits of Holy Men

Brooklyn-based photographer Joey L. created breathtaking portraits of ascetics in northern India, Nepal, and other parts of the region. The series is titled Holy Men. Above, Lal Baba, age 85. Joey L is best known for creating the Twilight movie posters and other commercial projects. Holy Men is part of his personal body of work that also includes the stunning Cradle of Mankind photos of tribal people in Ethiopia's Omo Valley. Below, filmmaker Cale Glendening's documentary about the Holy Men project. (via Daily Grail) Read the rest