NEWEST UPDATE !
8th January 2019
Enjoy the photos of two unusual spiritual places - A Zoroastrian (Fire) Temple and the incredible
magnificently mirrored Mir Movsom Ziyaratgah - Mosque & Shrine Complex.
6th January 2019
This is the third trip for the Embrace Founders to Lebanon in recent years. Each time they have
focused on different aspects of the country. Unfortunately, the issue of Syrian refugees had to be
dealt with, because many of them were in the hotel that Ajata and Virginia stayed in, the restaurants
the Founders ate in . . . Like Turkey, they were everywhere.
It has become necessary to touch on a some of the atrocities that have been visited upon Lebanese
civilians over the years, although it does not go into the use of napalm in the 1 murder of unarmed
peace activists. For those who wish more information see:
It is critical that those reading Embrace articles understand that Embrace strongly supports
Judaism and the Jewish grassroots people uninvolved with politics or political lobbying.
However, in no way to we support the government in the Holy Land. Nor do we support any
government or political leader.
4th January 2019
Traveling in Georgia (2018) is now in CELEBRATE HUMANITY.
Georgia is a microcosm of what is developing worldwide. Those who read this may gain a clearer
insight into aspects of what may be happening in their own countries, even in some parts of Africa.
There are many human interactions and real dichotomies occuring in Georgia at this time in history;
Very Old Communities of Georgians - Christians and Jews, Russians, Iranians buying property,
Saudi tourists in large numbers . . .
NEW !!! UPDATE!
20th November 2018
There is a new article and photos from the Embrace Founders trip to Cyprus in CELEBRATE
HUMANITY.Cyprus has been a troubled area since the 1970's between Greek Cypriots and Turkish
Cypriots. However, Europeans have flocked to the beaches for decades and now also many
8th November 2018
FINALLY!!! Embrace has uploaded the New CURRENT (Summer/ Fall 2018) into the website,
outlining the Embrace Founders travel in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lebanon and Cyprus. There
are many, many photos.
This CURRENT runs to two pages, so be certain to click on continue at the bottom of the page.
NEW! UPDATE ! IMPORTANT !
28th October 2018
Embrace has just put a lengthy article about traveling in Turkey and the situation in the country
especially regarding SECULARISM & RELIGIOUS CONSERVATISM, young Muslims, the Dervish
(Sufis) Orders in Turkey and what political and social forces are changing the country.
8 th October 2018
The Embrace Founders have returned from 2 ½ months in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lebanon
and Cyprus with thousands of photos of sacred places in these countries to put in:
Since, the Founders had been to Turkey before. They only photographed new details of the Great
Mosques, so that more views will be available.
Among the many Holy Places in Turkey to photograph, the Founders particularly wanted to Travel
in the Footsteps of the Apostles and Mother Mary (Miriam - Mother of Isa / Jesus) after the
death of the Christ.
They also photographed beginning in Sanliurfa the caves of Abraham (Nabi Ibrahim) & Prophet Job
(Nabi Ayyoub) before traveling along the Mediterranean in Turkey - to the cave of St. Peter
(Antakya), the archaeological remains of the home and holy well (still with water) of St. Paul in
Tarsus,(also archaeological excavations & tomb related to Prophet Daniel, (not mentioned in the
Qu'ran), The Basilica of St. John where he is buried and the House of Mary (Miriam) in Selcuk.
Also, the Founders traveled in the Cappadocia region to photograph cave churches where
Christians lived and hid from the Romans during their time of persecution. Photographs were also
taken of three Islamic saints, usually called Dervishes in Turkey which will be written about later.
People in other parts of the world call them sufis: Rumi, Haci Bektas Velli and Somunca Baba
(Sheikh Hamid-I Wali). The Founders visited their old friends of the Jerrahi Dervish Order in Istanbul
although the people they knew in earlier times; Sheikh Muzzefer Effendi, Sheikh Saffir and Imam
Hafiz Sedef are now passed on. They took only a few photos as the Jerrahi’s new location as it was
Turkey is made-up of a very complex society. It has absorbed over 4 million Syrian refugees whom
the Founders encountered everywhere (pretty angry with America & the Western nations) One
elderly woman (Sunni) on a bus told Virginia that 25 members of either her neighborhood or family
were killed. Anyone that believes that Sunnis were happy to support the U.S. troops and the
terrorists they recruited to bomb and blow up Syria, can forget it. There are also Afghan refugees
that speak Uzbeki and even a few Iranian Kurds who are accepted into general Turkish society.
Although Kurds are often depicted as only Sunni Muslims, the truth is that there are 11 different
philosophies / religious affiliations among the Kurdish people.
In Georgia the Founders photographed magnificent ancient churches and enjoyed the energetic
and friendly monks at the Gelati Monastery. They also were delighted to find a dynamic and very,
very old Jewish Community in Tbilisi (of Gurjim or Ebraeli Jews) who some scholars believe came to
Georgia after 586 B.C. in the 6th century. The Founders were welcomed to photograph two
synagogues with the help of a friendly congregation member who offered to take them also to the
Beit Rachel Temple (Ashkenazi -the Ashkenazi Jewish community arrived much later in Georgia.)
Lebanon always has a hold on the hearts of the Founders. Probably, because the people have all
suffered so much and worked so diligently to overcome their divisions. All the people seem to have a
hard earned wisdom. Now days you find Muslims living and working along side Christians in
traditional Christian neighborhoods. But the most rewarding meeting for the Founders in Lebanon
this time around was their meeting with the Druze, high in the Lebanese mountains where they
photographed two of the Druze community’s most sacred places.
In Azerbaijan, the Founders were staggered by the incredible urban planning in Baku. Fantastic
modern architecture next to buildings constructed along classic French lines. Somehow, it works! A
Zoroastrian Fire Temple (ancient) that had also been used by Hindus later on was photographed . It
is still held sacred by current Zoroastrians (called Parsi in India.) You will find quite a number of
Mumbai Parsi visiting there. The Founders also photographed a sufi shrine of great significance to
all the Muslims in Azerbaijan, that of Mir Movsum Agha.
In Cyprus, the Hala Sultan Tekke Islamic Shrine and the Ayia Napa Greek Orthodox Monastery &
Church where a sacred icon of the Virgin Mary exists were photographed.
NOTE AMERICAN’S: No country where the Founders have traveled in the last 10 years have had
any thing good to say about America. American’s are seen as bullies and as a terrorist nation that
has with no provocation chosen to bomb civilians and initiate wars in: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya,
Pakistan, Syria and these are only the public wars. During Obama’s time the U.S. military made
incursions into 36 different countries (Check Wikipedia) In fact, Virginia and Ajata met a Christian
couple from India while traveling on this trip, who said they wanted to move out of India, but they
wanted to make sure it wasn’t a country the U.S. was going to start bombing(!)
Time to re-think foreign policy. Time to learn some negotiating skills instead of bombing people
to steal resources and geographic access.
In a few weeks there will he more information, along with photos in CURRENT. Check your RSS,
the Marquee or the Bulletin.
24th May 2018
Embrace has done research on the demographics and ecological status in the Holy Land with some
additional information on it’s economy. The article is THE DEMOGRAPHIC and ECOLOGICAL
SITUATION IN THE HOLY LAND found under FOCUS on the Menu. This article peers into the
Holy Lands not to distant future.
20th February 2018
Again,we are sorry for the delay - FINALLY! the articles:
30 January 2018
There was an oversight in mentioning that Embrace had also uploaded photos of VietNamese
sacred places under the sections of Confucianism and Taoism.
So in total, sacred places in Viet Nam can be found under the following six categories listed
alphabetically: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Taoism and Traditional.
Please note: Temples in the city of Hoi An are often classified as Assembly Halls or Congressional
Halls of various Chinese coming from different geographical locations. All include temples or places
to worship within them. In Penang, Malaysia these same Halls with temples are often called “Clan”
houses. A “British Colonial” designation.
It is very difficult to label Traditional and Taoist temples. Generally, Vietnamese and Chinese, and
temples that are a combination of Vietnamese and Chinese influences can be defined by the central
or largest deity in the temple. However, generations change, new deities or ancestors are added,
others lost. In the case of some writers, who do not actually know the temple they are writing about
and are not practitioners of the religion or spiritual tradition they are writing about, mislabel these
as well as temples primarily dedicated to great personages.
Buddhist Temples always have as their central figure either Shakyamuni Buddha or a particular
Buddha or Kwan Im or Guan Yin (the Goddess of Compassion, known by several names) or by
Avalokeswara - Avalokiteshvara (the God of Compassion - the male version of Kwan Yin, Guan Yin)
or in the case of the Tibetans and His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s personal Deity (Chenrezig- the
name of the God of Compassion in Tibetan.)
Often in Southeast Asia there are many statues of non-philosophical Taoist deities and in temples
that are still primarily Theravada, there are often statues of Arhats. In general, Arhats have achieved
self-realization but have not achieved the status of a “Buddha.” (There are numerous Buddhas in
There is an exception to the previous description of Buddhist temples we have given and that
exception is in Sikkim. The bringer of Buddhism to Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet was Padmasambava and he
has been attributed with many miraculous powers. He is particularly loved by the Nyingma and
Kagyu Tibetan traditions and there are Buddhist temples that seem pretty much dedicated to only
him usually showing him conducting his many miracles throughout the temples.
In general, so that no misunderstandings arise, Buddhists (especially trained monks, nuns, geshes
and so forth of all schools of Buddhism) usually concentrate on the good qualities or aspects of a
Buddha or deity which represents (generosity, courage, compassion etc.) to gain insight into that
quality and make it their own. It is not considered worship. However, this is often not the case for
devout lay Buddhists.
Some Buddhists, such as the famous Thich Nhat Hanh from Viet Nam now living in France,
emphasize “Mindfulness” meditation which is a strong discipline to keep track of all your thoughts
and to try to eliminate negative, harmful patterns of thinking. His teachings have a very wide
audience among Westerners many who consider themselves non-religious, as well as people
brought up in Buddhism. It is a practice that can benefit people of all persuasions, just as Hatha
Yoga is practiced by people of many different religions.
The most difficult temples to label are Taoist. That is because most Taoist temples are combined
with traditional beliefs. The philosophy of Taoism given to the world by a man we call Lao Tzu and
the later disciples of his philosophy does not provide for worship (like Confucianism.) Philosophical
Taoism of the original Taoism is not widespread in Asia. (The Tao Te Ching the original book of
philosophical Taoism is very popular, however, in the West.)
Some people will say that if the Jade Emperor is in a temple, then it is Taoist. As a non-
philosophical Taoism, of course it must be considered as such. But it is a form of Taoism pretty
much unrelated to the philosophy of Lao Tzu, Chu’ang Tzu and others of the philosophical school.
There is little confusion with Confucianism (Kong Zi), which is a philosophy and whose very ancient
temple in Hanoi is called “Temple of Literature.” Devotional people still leave gifts to statues of
Confucius and some of his scholars. It is a sign of respect and honor. However, as we have noted
before, a Confucius statue might be found in a temple incorporating the Buddha, non-philosophical
Taoist deities and/or ancestors and other. Traditional, revered persons.
The optimism and exuberance of some modern Chinese and Vietnamese temples incorporating
mixed traditions are a joy to visit and their innovative designs and bright colors are uplifting to
photograph. The monks and people are often very proud of their temples and make a visit to them
by outsiders a wonderful experience. History is important but new traditions are finding their place
of importance also.
The Embrace Editors are currently working editing and labeling photos taken in Hong Kong City,
Cheung Chau Island and Kowloon.
28 January 2018
Finally!!! We’ve uploaded all the photos of sacred places from the Founders trip to Viet Nam into
Embrace Sacred Places. Org. Photos of spiritual places in Viet Nam will be found under:
Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Traditional.
It took an exceedingly long time and we want to apologize to our friends in Viet Nam for the delay. In
Viet Nam more photos were taken of different sacred locations than have ever been taken on any
trip to a single country. In addition, we had an issue with editing them from several cameras and
finding a few locations that were misfiled.
Our intentions in photographing the details and architecture of locations is for people’s enjoyment
but more importantly, for a record - to refer to, should the need arise. On this same trip the
Founders were in Bali and Java and since being there and taking many photos, there have been
several earthquakes near important spiritual places This was one area Embrace has been really
our trip to Syria, photographing many spiritual sites, a war left precious architecture and Holy
sites decimated, civilians dead and destruction of many innocent peoples lives. This has been the
case in several countries.