10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice

I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.

What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.

There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:

1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.

2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.

3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.

4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”

Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:

  • 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.

  • 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.

  • 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.

  • 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.

  • 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.

  • 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.

  • 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.

  • 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.

  • 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”

  • 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vatican greets Buddhists for Vesakh festival

Vatican City - The Vatican issued Tuesday "warm greetings" to Buddhists for their festival of Vesakh which this year is celebrated between May 12 and 18. In the message, the Vatican's top inter-faith dialogue official, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, also called on Christians and Buddhists to work closely to preserve nature and the environment.

"Christianity and Buddhism have always upheld a great respect for nature and taught that we should be grateful stewards of the earth.

"On a practical level can we Christians and Buddhists not do more to collaborate in projects which confirm the responsibility that falls to each and everyone of us?

"Recycling, energy conservation, the prevention of indiscriminate destruction of plant and animal life, and the protection of waterways all speak of careful stewardship and indeed foster goodwill and promote cordial relations among peoples.

"In this way Christians and Buddhists together can be harbingers of hope for a clean, safe and harmonious world," Tauran wrote.

In the message - which was issued in English, Italian and French - Tauran also noted "the positive relationships that Catholics and Buddhists have enjoyed for many years".

On Vesakh, Buddhists traditionally commemorate the birth, teachings and passing away of their religion's founder, Gautama Buddha, who lived in ancient India around 400 BC.

Author : DPA

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Unique religious life lives on in Tibet

Thirty-five-year-old Dawa works hard at balancing the demands of his centuries-old faith and holding down a career as an IT technician at a local news website in the heart of Lhasa.

He considers Buddhism to be more in his "blood" than in the "rituals". "I accompany my family to the shrines on important festivals, but I don't have enough time to circle the shrines every day. We young people have to find better jobs and create wealth for a better society, as is the case in any corner of the world."

Dawa finished his studies in different cities across China: primary school in Lhasa, middle school in southwestern Chongqing, high school in Beijing and university in the northwestern Xi'an.

His Tibetan culture remained with him throughout. "Even the time for our marriage ceremony was decided by the monks through augury. Buddhism is the backbone. It's omnipresent in our culture and life."

He chats with friends across the country through MSN: "Many of my friends worry about us due to the latest riots in Lhasa on March 14 and March 15."

Dawa is typical of his generation of Tibetans, according to Zheng Dui, director of the Religious Study Institute under the China Tibetology Research Center.

"Tibetans care more for the next life than this life. They worship Buddha in this life to achieve happiness in the next," says Zheng. "The older they grow, the more pious they become. Someold Tibetans never stop rolling their prayer wheels except for sleeping and eating."

Yangjain, 48, a small snack shop owner in Lhasa, prays every morning from the moment she gets up. She fetches the first bucket of water from water tap to change the bowls of water presented before the Buddha statues in her home. "The first clean water everyday should be dedicated to Buddha to show our endless respect to the divine," she says.

Many devout Buddhists in Tibet start their day this way: praying, prostrating themselves before the Buddha statues, changing water, lighting ghee lamps and going to work or circling shrines.

"Buddhism influences are omnipotent in Tibet. The most magnificent building in Tibet must be a temple, the most precious relics must be in temples, and monks are always masters of Tibetan medicines, astronomy and calendar," says Zheng Dui.

On the roads leading to Lhasa, pilgrims can be seen prostrating themselves every step they walk. Cattle hide and canvas clothes and wood plates on the hands protect them from dust and scrapes.

From news.xinhuanet.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spirituality and... Chocolate

One of the things that confirmed my former distrust of religion took place when I was in the second grade. My best friend was a little girl who lived near me. She and her parents were very Christian, and my parents were very not. I didn't ask my friend about what she believed, but I knew that I, and my family, did not hold the same beliefs. My friend decided one day that she couldn't reconcile the fact that we were best friends and that I didn't believe in God. She told me that if I didn't start believing, we couldn't be friends. With infallible seven-year-old logic, I told her that that was absurd, and it would be like me telling her she had to stop believing to be my friend. This did not go over very well, and we stopped talking for a few days. Her parents subsequently convinced her that she should make up with me and stop pressuring me to have the same beliefs as her.

Until recently, I have steered very clear of discussions pertaining to religion with people who adhere to a specific church. But in the last few months, since my own spiritual awakening, I have cautiously stuck my toe back into the theological discussion pool. This is because my own experience has caused me to reframe how I interpret a lot of my past experiences, and to reconsider the judgments and assumptions I made about others' beliefs.

The first few discussions I had were very validating and open exchanges with other people whose path to spirituality had also been fairly winding and not always conventional. But more recently I've had some conversations with people who are stricter adherents to one specific religion or another, and those conversations have been frustrating and confusing.

Let me preface this by saying that I experience what many call God as a universal consciousness that, if I clear my head enough (or sometimes even if I don't), I can recognize is part of me, and that I am a very small part of it. The sense of "I" that separates me from everyone and everything else seems less substantial than it used to, and I also am capable of feeling more compassion and acceptance of myself and others than I did previously. Most religions, including Christianity, have something to say about God as the unnameable, unfathomable source of all existence. They also usually say, at some point, that God is love, and that God is accessible to everyone without any external help. So I think that the major religions have much in common, and are different culture's ways of interpreting what is a universal experience. That is why the same themes, archetypes, and stories show up in totally different regions at different points in history.

So to me, and many others, one religion does not invalidate another. Experiencing a profound sense of connection to the Virgin Mary does not mean that someone who connects to Ganesha is wrong and is worshiping a false God. It just means that the Virgin Mary is a symbol that resonates most closely with your experience of Spirit, while Ganesha is what provides that connection for someone else. Others connect to spirit through nature. Some religions don't anthropomorphize God at all, claiming that doing so may limit our ability to experience spirit.

The thing that is really giving me trouble these days is this very idea, that one path to spirituality is "better" than the next. And in this age of diversity and political correctness, it is rare that someone would come out and say that their religion is the only way. But I've had some conversations lately where that has been the not so subtle subtext.

So substitute "Chocolate" for your specific religious institution of choice, and the conversation goes something like this:

  • Me: I've discovered ice cream lately. Boy, is it great! I've tried several flavors, and I like home made vanilla the best so far.

  • Them: I was raised with Hershey's chocolate ice cream, and it makes me really happy. I don't know that much about your vanilla, but I'm sure it's fine.

  • Me: I don't object to chocolate, there are qualities I enjoy, but vanilla is what really works for me. I've also tried coffee and pistachio so far. I'm going to try some other flavors too, and see how I like them.

  • Them: But Hershy's chocolate is the original flavor, you can't really like ice cream unless you like chocolate.

  • Me: Actually, there were flavors before chocolate that shared similar qualities, and all ice cream is made of the same basic components, they just have different flavors.

  • Them: Just try some more chocolate. I'm sure you'll come to love it the way I do, and then you'll understand. All those other flavors are just poor imitations, you can't really love ice cream unless you love chocolate ice cream.

  • Me: Check, please.

After a while, I find myself wondering why the fact that a different flavor of ice cream (spirituality) is most appealing to me (after a lifetime of searching for one I like) should be so difficult for someone else to accept. The conclusion I tend to jump to is that the fact that I believe in something that on the surface seems different (or really just less clearly defined and dogmatic) is unsettling to them and may call into question their own beliefs. Which is weird to me, because I can't imagine telling someone that their connection to God isn't as strong, or valid, or advanced as my own. That would just be lame. I'm not questioning the validity of their relationship with God, why should they question mine?

And to get back to the chocolate metaphor, who can say what anything in this world smells, tastes, looks or feels like to another. One of my ex-boyfriends was red-green colorblind. He literally and provably saw the world differently than I did. Does that make what he saw a lie? Of course not. What I respond to and how I experience the world is not exactly the same as anyone else, and is not subject to debate. It just is. Perception by its nature can not be anything but individual and subjective.

So I guess I'm a little sad that I haven't been able to have a more constructive conversation regarding religion so far with people who are less universalist than I am. But I'm also kind of amused that in some ways, those conversations have born a striking resemblance to the one I had with my friend in the second grade. I'm just glad that her parents' take on their religion left room for people with different views, so we could still be friends.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Discover your spirituality with yoga

Yoga has many beneficial effects if you practice it on a regular basis; it is known to help if major illnesses as well as being undertaken by those who just want to get fitter and healthier. There is so much more to yoga however, yoga is a total holistic system that can strengthen not only the muscles but also the mind. Those who practice yoga on a more serious level think of it as a totally spiritual experience and benefit on a spiritual level deeply.

The majority of people who practice yoga do so because of the way that their whole system, their body, mind and soul is brought together and the totally peaceful feeling that this brings out in the person. Yoga helps to bring and harmonize the body, mind and spirit that are essential to a happy lifestyle.

The Chinese have long believed that illness develops due to the body becoming out of sync and that symptoms are just a sign of a more deeper underlying problem. They believe that there is an energy force that flows throughout the body and it is when this energy force is blocked that problems begin to arise within the body. Yoga is one way of ensuring that the flow of energy is kept running freely throughout the body, yoga can help to achieve this many ways, the poses are specifically designed to open up the chest, the heart, the lungs and to strengthen the body functions such as the immune system.

One of the aspects of yoga is to help the person develop their spirituality and to let it flow, to look into themselves and the person they are instead of running away and putting the blame on anything else but themselves. Those who develop their spirituality have found that they are able to feel free, happy and are able to deal with and overcome problems that previously would have had them in knots.

Feeling good about oneself is essential in dealing with a wide variety of problems and indeed if you are able to deal and understand yourself and the problems that affect you then very often these problems simply disappear. One oft eh easiest ways to start looking into yourself and finding your spiritual side is to start off with the yogic breathing exercises. Yogic breathing helps the person to settle down and relax and to look inside him or herself and discover the person they really are.

Hatha yoga breathing relies on focusing on the exhalation; Westerners seem to put importance on inhalation when in fact this is wrong. Changing the way we breathe can vastly change how we feel as well as our outlook on life. When practicing Hatha yoga to develop your spirituality breathe in slowly though the nose fully, yogic breathing focuses strongly on silent breathing, if you are breathing correctly then you shouldn't be able to hear yourself breathe. When exhaling, be sure that you do so from your abdomen and make sure that you push the air out of your body totally. This is the simplest way to perform yogic breathing to develop and bring forth your spirituality.

by icamm

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spirituality - Cements Childhood Blindness

When Tibetan Buddhism is celebrated today as the peaceful and calming practice of meditation, people overlook the reality of a brutal religion with bizarre traditions that has used meditation as a tyrannizing tool to quash the power of feelings and free, critical thinking. Not only one hell as in Christianity, but sixteen hells doom the believer in Tibetan Buddhism with terrifying horror scenarios! It is a tradition of this controlling religion to force children into becoming monks, remove them from their families, cut them off from contact with women and brainwash them with religious studies that must be learned and recited by heart. In the context of this inhuman religion, the word “compassion,” no matter how often it is conjured, has no real meaning because compassion is not extended to these abused and neglected children. In order to become “spiritually enlightened,” they are betrayed of their human right to a healthy, dignified development, their freedom and their lives.

Barbara Roger

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yoga Helps Fight Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disease characterized by chronic inflammation, labored or shortened breathing, wheezing, coughing and sticky mucous from chest. Before we get into discussing the details of this disease, a brief snapshot of what follows in the paragraphs below would be helpful. We will discuss the health benefits of yoga with focus on yoga and asthma with a dedicated section on yoga poses for asthma.

The Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of asthma are all apparent unlike certain other diseases. The first symptom that shows up is inflammation in the trachea (wind pipe, connecting throat to lungs) immediately followed by tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. When the asthma attack goes to unmanageable limits, you feel complete constriction of the wind pipe and chest. At this time it is extremely difficult to breathe. But much before this condition is reached; you have sufficient warning signals such as the wheezing sound while exhaling and inhaling (breathing) due to the presence of sputum in the respiratory system, coughs etc.

What Triggers Asthma

Some common triggers leading to asthmatic symptoms are allergens like cold, house dust, pollen, animal dander, irritants such as smokes, chemical fumes etc. For some people, in certain cases, stress from emotional and exercising reasons can trigger the symptoms.

Some Statistics on Asthma

Asthma is not known to take death toll unless proper and timely care is not taken. However, the figure of asthma deaths has been on the rise since 1970s in the United States as well as around the globe. There are about 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States itself. What is alarming is slightly less than half of them (about 9 million) are children below 18 years. Out of the total asthmatics, about 70% have other allergies and 10 million of Americans suffer from allergic asthma. Cases of asthma in children have shot up by a mind boggling 160% is the 1980-1994 period. Incidences of reported deaths have mounted to 5000 annually and direct cost of treatment is pegged at $11.5 billion and indirect costs at %4.1 billion. Prevalence is 39% higher in African Americans than white Americans. Total loss of work days is 24.5 million and school days lost is 12.8 million.

Some Yoga Poses that Help in Combating Asthma (Yoga for Health)

Here is a list of yoga poses for asthma. Regular practice of these workouts for asthma helps you combat asthma attacks better. There have been debates on how yoga and asthma relate to each other. But studies show that certainly there are definite health benefits of yoga.
Easy Yoga Pose
Sukhasana, is the easiest of the yoga poses for asthma as far as yoga and asthma goes. Sitting erect on the floor, cross your legs and clasp your knees easily and that's it. Breathe easy for 5 minutes.
Shoulder Lifts
Lie down flat on floor on your back with your hands stretched above head. Relax for a couple of breaths and slowly lift up shoulders towards front together with head crouching abdomen as in curls. Inhale as you get up and exhale when retracting.
Sun Salutation
Yoga sun salutation (Surya namaskara) is a combination of 12 poses in a sequence beginning and ending in stand-at-ease pose, the 5th and 6th of them being standing on four limbs with body horizontal to the ground while forehead and nose touches ground. The sequential breathing series during the Sun Salutation prepares respiratory mechanism for the asthma combats. This is also helpful for backaches. This is among the top 10 yoga asana to relive asthma.
Kapalabhati Breathing Technique
Yoga and asthma cannot distance themselves from pranayama, a highly meditated breathing technique. Kapalabhati requires that you breathe rapidly in short sequences and consciously control the movements of the diaphragm (a membrane separating abdomen from chest.) This exercises the entire respiratory system.
Anuloma Viloma Breathing Technique
This is known as alternate nostril breathing technique. You inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other with a long retention of the breath in between. This brings breathing a much needed rhythm.

From: yogamiracles.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Discovering Buddhism

Electoral Revolution In Nepal

It ought to be the ballot heard 'round the world. It ought to be front page news. But chances are you haven't yet learned that the Maoists of Nepal have apparently swept to power in an election that international monitors acknowledge was free and fair. Having led a People's War from 1996 to 2006, having suspended the armed struggle and making a strategic decision to seek power through electoral means, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has apparently acquired an absolute majority in national elections for a constitutional assembly.

Prime Minister Girija Koirala, representing the Nepali Congress Party, has congratulated CPI(M) leader on the success of his party. The Congress Party, aligned with its Indian counterpart and traditionally supportive of the Nepali monarchy and its Hindu religious trappings, seems to have come in a distant third in the national vote, behind the Communist Party (United Marxist-Leninist). The latter, having spurned Maoist overtures to unite, is in crisis; its leader has resigned and declared it "morally inappropriate" to continue to participate in the current coalition government.

It looks as though Maoist leader Prachanda will emerge as national leader under the presidential system his party advocates. The constitutional assembly will shape a new Nepal as a secular republic. Land reform, laws against debt servitude and child marriage, laws liberating "outcastes" will follow. The Maoists regard Nepal as a pre-capitalist country, which requires a period of capitalist development before it can embark on socialist construction. They say they welcome foreign investment and tourism. They want friendly relations with neighboring China and India. They want to build a railroad conveying Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet to Nepali religious sites. They want, with some help from Jimmy Carter, to persuade the U.S. State Department to remove their name fro the list of "international terrorist organizations."

They also want to plant the Red Flag on Mt. Everest, big enough so it might be seen from the moon, like the Great Wall of China. That's what they've said.

Realism and poetry. A vision for today, and for tomorrow. The Maoists of India (in particular, the Communist Party of India [Maoist]) continue their People's War, creating the red corridor that extends from Andra Pradesh up to the Nepali border. They have expressed doubts about the Nepali comrades' strategy of participation in elections, and emphasized their dedication to Mao's dictum that "political power grows out of the barrel of the gun." But they will take heart in the Nepali Maoists' victory. Unless the Nepali Army (formerly the Nepal Royal Army and still led by pro-monarchist and anti-communist generals), or external forces move to prevent the Maoists' rise to power, Nepal will emerge as the base-area of global revolution. That's something else the Maoists have said.

On October 21, 2002, Counterpunch carried a column of mine on Nepal that ended as follows:

Nepal is the world's only Hindu kingdom, but there is much Buddhist influence as well. The historical Buddha was born on what is now the Nepal-India border. (Both countries claim that Lumimbi, site of the Buddha's birth, was within their present territory. This is an issue of importance to historians, archeologists, and even more so to the tourist industry catering to Japanese Buddhist pilgrims.) Two and a half millennia ago, the Buddhist movement, destined to transform the world, emerged in this region. Buddhism was at its inception not really a religion (as westerners tend to conceptualize religion), rejecting belief in a Supreme Being, immortal souls, and an afterlife. (Some Indian Marxist scholars have suggested that Buddhism was initially a kind of philosophical materialism, with a progressive social content.) The fundamental problem, for the Buddhist, was and is that of suffering. (Recall how, many centuries later, Marx identified religion as "the expression of real suffering and at the same time the protest against real suffering.") Buddhism offered no pie-in-the-sky solutions to human suffering, but a way of life that steered between sensual indulgence and asceticism.

While focusing on the individual's path to enlightenment, Buddhism did not ignore social reality. The early order of monks and nuns applied itself to charitable work, such as the establishment of hospitals and shelters for the homeless. In an extraordinary break with the social order, Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a Buddha) rejected the caste system, declared that those of any background could be enlightened, and insisted on delivering his sermons in the local dialects wherever he traveled. He was in that sense a revolutionary. And a world-conqueror: the Buddha directed his followers to spread the word throughout the world, and thus Buddhism gradually spread from the Himalayan foothills to Sri Lanka, to northeastern Iran, to China and Japan, to southeast Asia.

The Maoists' vision, like that of the Buddhist missionaries of old, is a global one. "We insist," Prachanda told an American interviewer in 2000, "that the Nepalese revolution is part of the world revolution and the Nepalese people's army is a detachment of the whole international proletarian army." BBC correspondent Daniel Lak, visiting Rolpa, in western Nepal, last month, sat talking with one Comrade Bijaya, district committee member and political instructor, who overlooking the rice-paddies stated matter-of-factly, "We will win, not just in Nepal, but around the world" (World Tribune, Sept 24). That requires a stretch of the imagination, maybe, but world history is filled with twists and turns and surprises. Sometimes, in humankind's endless quest to overcome suffering, wildly ambitious enterprises actually succeed.

Five years later, no stretch of the imagination is necessary. It's happening. A communist revolution, led by a party charting a new path combining armed struggle and electoral politics, is sweeping the Himalayas. World journalists, as though dizzied by the altitude, seem unable to take up pen and report what they see. Maybe their editors are withholding their copy, concerned lest they depict a designated "terrorist" group in a positive or merely rational objective light.

But this moment may in the not distant future be seen as another 1917, another 1949. I think of that Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth," written by Stephen Stills and released in 1967:

"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down."

Yes. Everybody look what's going down. The revolution will not be televised, but it's accessible online.

By Gary Leupp

FAQs about Buddhism

Buddhism has about 300 million followers around

the world. The word comes from the Pali and Sanskrit word "budhi,'' meaning "to awaken.''

Buddhism's origins came about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was awakened, or enlightened, at the age of 35.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Buddhism.

Q: Is it a religion?

A: To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or "way of life.'' It is a philosophy because philosophy means "love of wisdom.'' The Buddhist path can be summed up as:

  • To lead a moral life.
  • To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions.
  • To develop wisdom and understanding.

Q: Who was the Buddha?

A: Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 B.C.

At the age of 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness. He explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to human happiness.

After six years of study and meditation, he finally found "the middle path'' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism - called the Dhamma, or Truth - until his death at the age of 80.

Q: Was the Buddha a god?

A: No. Buddhists say he was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

Q: Do Buddhists worship idols?

A: Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, but not in worship, nor to ask for favors.

A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in his lap and a compassionate smile reminds followers to strive to develop peace and love within themselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.

Q: Why are there different types of Buddhism?

A: There are many different types because the emphasis of Buddhism changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching - the Dhamma or truth. Two main forms are Tibetan Buddhism, which is led by the Dalai Lama, and Indian Buddhism.

Q: What did the Buddha teach?

A: The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path.

The first Truth is that life is suffering; life includes pain, aging, disease and ultimately death. The second Truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. The third Truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained by giving up useless craving and learning to live each day at a time.

The fourth Truth is that the Noble Eight-fold Path leads to the end of suffering. In summary, the Noble Eight-fold Path consists of being moral, focusing one's mind on being fully aware of one's thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.

Jo Collins Mathis,

From: Ann Arbor News

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spirituality and emotional IQ can drive business

John Ruskin said: "Education does not mean just teaching people what they do not know, it also means teaching people to behave as they do not behave."

Today, more than 150 years later, Mr. Ruskin's words still ring true, as it is no longer enough to just have a high IQ. In fact, new research at Harvard University reveals that 90 percent to 95 percent of success now depends upon Emotional Intelligence — EQ or EI — and only 5 percent to 10 percent on IQ.

Emotional Intelligence
is developing universal values of dignity and trust gained through open and honest communications. It is adding intelligence to emotions and gaining wisdom.

My own personal journey has convinced me that you cannot reach your potential as a leader if you are not using your potential as a human being first. And you can't achieve your potential as a human being if you are not authentic.

And yet companies and organizations across this country invest about $25 billion a year on training for technical skills and very little on developing authentic leadership skills. I call it the "Great Training Robbery."

My experience has been that "authentic leadership" can be developed and should be considered as a viable option for you, personally, and your team members. Authentic leadership based upon emotional intelligence, leads to mutual trust and respect and sustainable superior performance.

There are four conditions of authenticity, and none of them will come as a surprise to you. In fact, they are traits our parents and mentors instilled in us during our development years. They are:

The absence of defensiveness.

The absence of manipulation or the presence of truthfulness.

The presence of sincere empathy.

The presence of values.

Couple those traits with what I identify as the five components of emotional intelligence-based authentic leadership and you are creating greatness.

The five components are:

Self-awareness: The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, drives and values as well as their realistic effect on others.

By Jay S. Sidhu

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spirituality - Reducing stress

When explaining stress management to an audience, a lecturer raised a glass of water and asked, “how heavy is this glass of water?”

The answers called out ranged from 20 grams to 500 grams.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it! If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right aarm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll probably have to call an ambulance! In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.

That’s the way it is with stress and the way we manage it. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.

As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the task at hand. So, whatever your burden is... put it down...at least for a moment. You can pick it up tomorrow.

Some thoughts on the stressors of life:

  • Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.
  • Always keep your words soft and sweet...just in case you have to eat them.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • Never buy a car you can’t push.
  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on!
  • Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird...sleep late! Of course, it’s the second mouse who gets the cheese in the trap! Hmmmmm
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
  • You may be only one person in the world....but....you may also be the world to one person!
  • We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
  • When everything’s coming your way....you are probably in the wrong lane
  • If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments
  • The repairman couldn’t repair your brakes so he made your horn louder.
I hope these ‘thoughts’ lightened your load for today; at least long enough to make you realize that there are no ‘big deals,’ only big reactions.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Laugh, but if you cannot, watch how do laugh other people!!!

Are you depressed?
Just smile and your bad mood will leave you without a trace!!!

Do not feel shy to laugh and you will be surprised at how your life and health change. Good and kind laughter is useful and healthy not because it elevates your spirits.

People who like to laugh – less feel sick, less become annoyed and do not know what it means this thing depression.

Laughter calms your nerves

During laughter your organism releases endorphins (they occur naturally in your brain) – “hormones of happiness”, exactly they help you to get rid of irritation and sadness.

Even if you recall the minutes you were laughing – your mood would get better at once.

Laughter conquers your stress

British scientists investigated the influence of laughter on people’s health. Two groups of people, volunteers, took part in this experiment. During one hour one group was watching comic videos, the second group was asked just sitting in silence. After this experimentation all participants did blood tests. This research revealed that people were watching funny records, had a low level of “stress” hormones like cortisol, dopamine and adrenalin than the second group.

The fact is that when we laugh- all our body and all organs experience more physical work. When we stop laughing our body relaxes, rests and slows down.


Thus means, that laughter helps to get out of physical and emotional tension. Scientists insist on one minute of laughing, as one minute of frank laughter is equal to 45 minutes of deep relaxation.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Buddhist leader 17th Karmapa to visit US in May

New Delhi - Tibetan Buddhist leader the 17th Karmapa is scheduled to visit the United States in May, an official at his office in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala said Wednesday. The 22-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji heads the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The young monk was being groomed by China to be the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists till he fled to India in 2000.

The 17th Karmapa's first visit outside India comes as Tibetans around the world are holding protests against Chinese repression in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

China has repeatedly told the international community against establishing contact with the 17th Karmapa, whom it accuses of trying to split Tibet from China.

A posting on the monk's official website said he would be visiting the US from May 15 to June 2 and this had been confirmed by the government of India through the Dalai Lama's representative in Delhi.

The 17th Karmapa is third in line of succession to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan buddism.

An official at the Karmapa's office said the spiritual leader would be visiting several US cities, including New York, Seattle and Boulder in Colorado and the focus of his visit would be to meet disciples, bless centres, hold prayers and give teachings. The sect he heads has more than 600 centres in 51 countries.

From: earthtimes.org

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Organizational Life Through the Lens of Spirituality

How do today’s business executives define spirituality in the workplace and practice social action and mission? Learn the tools for transformational leadership and improved business results at an interactive session lead by Dr. Martha M. Geaney on April 24, 2008. The event will be held from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. at the John J. Breslin Theatre at Felician College, 262 South Main Street, Lodi. The event is open to the public and there is no charge to attend.

Dr. Geaney, a recognized leader in spirituality and transformational leadership in business, will share ideas to inspire audience participants to develop a culture of spirituality in the workplace. Participants will become more familiar with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and, in particular, Pope John Paul II's encyclical Centesimus Annus. Following the keynote address, a panel of professionals serving in our local communities will share how their own spirituality impacts their service. Panelists include the Honorable James Casella, Mayor of East Rutherford; Richard Fritzky, former president of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce; Greg and Connie Mattison, producers/hosts of Green By Design, The Newly Greens; and Leo McGuire, Bergen County Sheriff.

For more information, please e-mail franciscancenter@felician.edu.
Original Post at Felician College

The Spirituality of Creativity

Of all my latest obsessions, this is one of the top three. Having finally gotten around to keeping a journal, as of July of last year, I'm coming to terms with a lot of things about myself and my mania to create. I also see now how that can be a sort of spiritual experience, a soul-purging kind of cleansing that leads to an number of epiphanies.

At UUC services yesterday creativity was the topic. We're in week 8 of the 10 week "Finding Your Unitarian Spirituality" course, and this is the week I've been waiting for with great anticipation. So, of course, as it turns out the service yesterday was interrupted by a man having what was possibly a heart attack. Talk about the jolt of mortality in the middle of a fascinating sermon...

Hopefully he'll be okay. After the ambulance left the sermon went on, as was the popular consensus. Creativity, the Rev. Dan said, is a sign of life. When creativity ends, you die.

And of course, that lead me to quip about the guy taken off in the ambulance, "I hope he hadn't stopped being creative..." And no, I didn't say that IN the church.

Intriguing thought. I know I'd die, a spiritual if not a mortal death, without creativity. I was never so depressed as the dark time when creativity was eclipsed by the exhaustion of motherhood. They both went hand in hand, feeding off each other leaving me miserable.

But now I write every day. I create constantly. And I'm if not blissful, at least content knowing I have that outlet. Bliss isn't an easy concept for me. I may have my moments, but they're not a constant. Maybe as I'm working through my various issues I'll find bliss more frequently. I expect it'll be in the pages of a book, a manuscript, or as soon as I get my butt in gear, a drawing or painting.

Wherever it is, I know it's in reach.

Written by:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lankan ploy of Buddhism for subversion in Tamil Nadu: Viduthalai Rajendran

Circumstantial evidence supports the hand of the Lankan government’s National Intelligence Bureau in the Buddhist temple-building campaign in Tamil Nadu, observed political analyst TSS Mani in Win TV’s News and Views, reported Tehelka Magazine, on Saturday. It further quoted Viduthalai Rajendran, General Secretary of Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK), saying “ the temple-building a ploy to woo Indian Dalits and pit them against Sri Lankan Tamils on religious lines” A Sinhalese delegation of prominent Buddhist monks laid foundation stones for Buddhist places of worship in Tamil Nadu. Most of them are archaeological sites.

The delegation of Buddhist monks, accompanied by Jayalath Jayawardene, United National Party MP, held dedication events for Buddhist temples at Perur (Pearoor) village near Trichy and Alangulam (Aalangku’lam) in Tirunelvely district.

PDK workers organized a protest, displaying black flags, when the site-consecration ceremony was held by the visiting delegation at Perur. The PDK said that while welcoming the Buddhist movement their opposition was only against the Sinhalese monks.

“No one can deny the fact that Sinhalese Buddhists have practised chauvinistic politics against the Lankan Tamils. It is because of this reason we are opposing them. We won’t let the Sinhalese set foot on Tamil soil and engage in their conspiracy to divide Tamil society”, said Viduthalai Rajendran, while Mani opinioned, “ The Lankan government is playing the Buddha card to divide the Tamils. It is their strategy to counter the Tamil support for Eezham Tamils”, according to Tehelka.

In the meanwhile, the Chennai branch of Mahabodhi Society, Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Mission, established simultaneously in Colombo and Culcutta in 1891, by Anagarika Dharmapala, denied any association with the activities of the visiting delegation.

Its chief incumbent, Kalawane Mahanama Thero, a Sinhala monk said that the visiting monks don’t seem to be doing any real religious work and that he was keeping away from them. Commenting on the involvement of Jayawardane, who is a Catholic by religion, he said: “he wants to show to the Sinhalese people that he is doing great service to Buddhism not only in Sri Lanka but also in India. He has been claiming that he is building Buddhist enclaves in India”.

Jayawardane cited the support he was receiving from a senior BJP leader, a land donation to build a Buddhist temple at Thiruththa’ni, to dispel suspicions about his motives.

Thangavayal Vanidasan, the founder of Dalit Makkal Munnani, the group in Tamil Nadu associated with the activities of the Sri Lankan delegation said that he has always been a supporter of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and his connections with the Sinhalese monks are limited to spiritual needs.

Further reports and comments came from TamilNet Staff reporter in Tamil Nadu:

Buddhist archaeological sites of antiquity are sporadically found in the length and breadth of Tamil Nadu. They are remains of Tamil Buddhist heritage. Kaagncheepuram and Naakappaddinam were the main centres of this heritage. Even though all sects of Buddhism were prevalent in Tamil Nadu, the sites we see today largely belong to Mahayana Buddhism, which is different from the Theravada Buddhism of Sri Lanka.

There are many places in Tamil Nadu where beautiful Buddha images of Pallava and Chola Art, left unattended in open land, withering under sun and shower. Several decades ago, a scholar, Mayilai Seeni Venkadasamy commented upon these sculptures in his book 'Buddhism and Tamil'.

Neither the Central Archaeological Survey nor the State Archaeology Department of Tamil Nadu undertook any initiative to protect them properly and to highlight the Tamil Buddhist heritage. It is the same situation with the Tamil Jaina heritage of Digambara Jainism, but nowadays some Jaina organizations of Swetambara Jains are taking care of them.

Tamil Nadu is yet to understand that Tamil language cum culture is the one and only phenomenon in South Asia, which can boast about having a heritage of all the classical religions of South Asia as well as religions of West Asian origin, i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Had it understood, it wouldn’t have waited for the Sinhala monks.

Hinduism is only a recent identity, a blanket term invented by outsiders for identifying all the native religious philosophies and practices of South Asia. The term and the identity implied by it was adopted for the purpose of the national movement of India, but soon it was interpreted by a combination of Brahminism and Orientalism to mean only Vedic religions, the good old formula of Adi Sankara, and an elite conspiracy of modern India.

Having no recognition for their traditional religious practices and no place in the mainstream Hindu identity interpreted in favour of Brahmanism, many of the Dalits listened to Ambedkar and declared themselves Buddhists, whether they practise it or not. Ambedkar suggested Mahayana Buddhism to the new followers, adopting it to suit modern times as 'Navayana'.

The Dalit movement of Tamil Nadu today engages itself in upholding the Dravidian substratum in the traditional religious practices of the Dalit masses. It also vigorously claims authorship of the very foundations of the religious superstructures, superimposed by Brahminism.

In the meantime, sections of them following the line of Ambedkar think of inheriting the Tamil Buddhist heritage of the past to invigorate their present identity.

There is also a recent resurgence in the appearance of books on Buddhism in Tamil. But, this has nothing to do with Sri Lanka. Ever since the volumes of the works of Iyothee Thasar of 19th century were published in Tamil Nadu sometimes back, there is an awakening of Buddhism. Iyothee Thasar was a forerunner to Periyar and Ambedkar in Dalit emancipation and advocating Dalits to embrace Buddhism.

The Perur Buddha image, a piece of Chola Art, was lying in an open paddy field on the roadside for a long time. The local people were worshipping it as some deity. Some individuals, who repatriated to this village from Sri Lanka under Srimao-Shastri pact, took initiative about this image.

Another instance is the discovery of a Chola sculpture of Buddha in the mango grove of a remote village on the Coromandal Coast between Naakappaddinam and Vedaranyam (Veathaara'niyam). It happens to be a Dalit village. The finder has become a personal devotee of the image and seeks building a shrine there. He is also interested in learning Buddhism and getting Buddhist scriptures.

It looks as though the political monks and elements of vested interests with calculated moves have hijacked the good intentions of unassuming people.

It has been reported that the Sri Lanka government is highly concerned about the security of Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, amidst disturbances in the Tarai region of Nepal and is interested in creating a trouble free zone there. While such initiatives should be appreciated, one cannot help but reminded of the plight of the Madu church in the war zone of Vanni and many Hindu pilgrim centres in the High Security Zones of Sri Lanka. The saying in Tamil is: ‘the son performing the charity of feeding in Banaras while the mother famishes at home’.

What many in Tamil Nadu wonder is the timing of the activities of the Sinhala Buddhist delegation. Why have they chosen such tense times to show their piety?

But the more intriguing question is why and how have they been permitted to land in Tamil Nadu, at such a time, with such a socially disruptive agenda, when many Sri Lankan Tamil politicians and intellectuals are denied entry and when even ordinary Tamils longing for cultural and social contacts are harassed at the diplomatic missions and immigration counters to get entry into India. The same question is asked about the visit of a Sinhala Director who wanted to dub the Sinhala film Pirapakaran in Chennai and screen it in Tamil Nadu.

The hands point to the governments at Delhi and Chennai.

Even though entry into India is a prerogative of the Centre, the state government is the authority for allowing stay for foreigners in its territory. The state government can always ask the centre to send unwanted foreigners out.

But, is there any agenda of both of them to ‘educate’ the people of Tamil Nadu, hiring monks and directors from Sri Lanka?

By tamilnet.com

Church opens doors to yoga

Washingtonville — The only light inside St. Anne's Episcopal Church this Monday night is that of a small lamp next to a CD player emitting a composition of flute and electronic keyboard music.

Standing next to the lamp on an exercise mat is Linda Dougherty, instructing her students to bend forward with legs apart and arms outstretched.

"Think: 'Oh God, let me bow down in front of you in honor of you,'" she said.

Such pronouncements pepper the entirety of the 45- to 50-minute session of bending, stretching and meditating that Dougherty teaches at the Washingtonville church each week. It's part of a growing Christian yoga movement that has recently entered our region, joining Eastern techniques in health and spiritual fitness with the West's largest religion.

The rise of the trend in 2005 brought criticism from Christian and Hindu purists, who believed the Indian spiritual roots of yoga were irreconcilable with the West's religion. Pope Benedict XVI had once even signed a Vatican document warning Catholics to beware of Eastern traditions like yoga, which "can degenerate into a cult of the body."

Groups such as the American Yoga Association, however, deride such extremism. According to the nonprofit's Web site, the practice does not involve the worship of a deity nor conform to any one world religion.

"Many American Yoga Association students who practiced yoga intensively for many years continue to follow the religious traditions they have grown up in or adopted without conflict," the organization said on the Web site.

The controversy involving yoga and Christianity never came up at St. Anne's, where Dougherty introduced the classes in December, she said.

Dougherty was training with Yoga Mountain in Cornwall-on-Hudson for more than a year before mentioning her interest in the practice to her priest. A school social worker in Suffern, she noticed the health and mental benefits of the practice on her students. She received the priest's blessing to begin the teachings to other parishioners as part of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas.

The students enjoyed it so much, they asked Dougherty to keep it up, which she did.

A $10 donation is requested to help with expenses, as well as an offering to the church. Class membership varies from five to eight students.

Yoga opens the mind to one's inner spirituality through meditation, Dougherty said. "As you're moving through the postures and breathing, you also get the added benefits of good health."

By John Sullivan

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spirituality and Science

As a person with two dogs to walk and a lawn to mow from time to time, I do not have great insights about spirituality or science. But that is not to say that these concepts do not intrigue me. We are enjoined by the human condition, not to mention the condition of our planet, to not walk around with a benighted mind, as it so easily might be by either ideology, religion or some fantasy construct, but rather to engage and perceive with understanding and knowledge the world around us. It seems to me that spirituality and the science of the natural world are interconnected in a deep way.

Spirituality I am taking a sense of interconnectedness, so I can leave God out of the picture. I have no idea whether people are interconnected but I am sure that we are interconnected with the living systems of the planet. (Now if the second proposition is true, does it mean the first proposition was true too?) The idea that we are interdependent and interrelated to the living systems of the planet is self evident, and the essential science is part of general understanding. It is possible that using metaphors and a poetic sense, may well embellish our understanding. Plato as I recall somewhere, in some context used the sun as a metaphor. It is clear that the nuclear furnace of the sun creates the light and heat that drives and interconnects the living systems of the planet, beginning with the atmosphere and the water cycle. The study of light, including the experiments of Newton, the Michelson-Morley experiments on its speed, Einsteins theories, quantum mechanics and the behavior of photos, has a succession of surprises and puzzles that have continually shaken our assumptions of how we see the world.

In adopting a view of deep interconnectedness, I am not denying the importance of reason, the historical source of the antagonism to religion. One notices that reason and religion jointly contributed to the dispossession of the Aboriginal peoples on this continent, people like the European pagan forebears were closely attuned to the natural world. At the time of Charlemagne, for example, with his proto-crusade on the Spanish March and conversion by the sword of the pagan Saxons, including the desecration of the Irminsul, the sacred tree trunk, was an alliance of religion, state power and violence, even if religion had effectively been cast in the role of ministry of prayer and education. Education might seem a contradiction in the Dark Ages, but then some rulers were enlightened. Alcuin wrote:

My master often used to say to me: “it was the wisest of men who discovered these arts concerning the nature of things, and it would be a disgrace to let them perish in our day”. But many are now so pusillanimous as not to care about knowing the reasons for things which the Creator has established in nature.

The possibility exists that reason and interconnectedness could co-exist but understanding is never uncoupled from cultural conditioning which is the pre-condition for the exercise of political power, historically founded on violence to humans and to nature.

So the notion of eco-spirituality makes some sense. I suggest it goes to essence of our human nature and the potential of our cortex connections in our brain have to inform our actions if we would activate them by feeding the appropriate experiences. Joanne Macey, who is an exponent takes about pain, by which she the pain that we human feel and not the “pain” experienced by the planet. The planetary pain will be felt by all its sentient creatures, including humans, but given our cultural blinkers and our alienation we habitually turn away from our selves and the pain of others, as if we were without imaginative understanding and perception. Here is Joanne Macey on the Great Turning:

The surprise finding is that even an economist can talk in spiritual terms, but also in terms of economic and political reorganization. David Korten is the author of The Great Turning:

The problem with the climate crisis is the lack of time, and the lack of sense of urgency in which the media plays its significant role. Commercial media is dominated by the success of the public relations manipulators play upon our ignorance of scientific matters and lull us to sleep with spurious wants and other distractions.

Scientists such as Dr James Henson, perhaps in desperation, have sought to appeal to leaders with the engaging possibility of tipping points. If we, through leadership and the support of public opinion, were able to push the coal bucket hard enough, we would be joined by others doing the same thing, and the combined effort would suddenly become easy, and the climate could be saved.

The critical issue is not the problem but the time frame. Consciousness must lead events rather than follow them, which if we as human beings are to succeed would something new in history. The lack of critical mass in consciousness may make the discovery of tipping points irrelevant.

I suppose the next critical issue, once the tipping point of climate change is discovered and leveraged, is that we as a planetary community cannot continue as we have been to have a sustainable future. To change a culture is no small thing since it requires a change in mass consciousness, but is it impossible? The constructive thing to do is to map out the best, or optimal, path to follow that could work.

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The Jewel in the Lotus

Amazing video about Buddhist temple in India, great music

Walk with Buddha

He walked... in India. Incredible India.

Panel discussion addresses cancer and spirituality

A community panel discussion, Spirituality as a Coping Mechanism in the Treatment of Cancer: Clinical and Theological Perspectives,” will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, April 7, in the ballroom of the Rogalski Center, corner of Ripley and Lombard streets, on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport.

The discussion is intended for service providers, cancer patients and their families, and the general public. There is no cost to attend.

St. Ambrose senior David Adams, who organized the event, became interested in the role of spirituality in the treatment of cancer while volunteering with cancer patients. Panel members include Mara Adams, St. Ambrose associate professor of theology; the Rev. Frank Agnoli, Davenport Diocese director of liturgy; Beth Claeys, Genesis Hospice bereavement coordinator; Rita Melissano, Trinity Enrichment Center executive director; Shelley-Rae Pehler, St. Ambrose assistant professor of nursing; and Anita Shaft, Gilda’s Club program manager.

From: qctimes.com

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A comparative study of the doctrinal, organizational and ceremonial differences in the Orthodox Church, Catholicism and Protestantism

There are some interesting differences of the doctrinal, organizational and ceremonial aspects among the Orthodox Church, Catholicism and Protestantism. We would like to draw your attention to the most significant ones.

1. Church structure and organization.

• Attitude towards other Christian confessions.

The Orthodox Church considers that they are the only true Church in the World. Catholics think the same. However, after the second Vatican Council (in 1962-1965) they say that all Orthodox Churches are Sisters, as for the Protestant Churches they treat them as Church consolidations. Due to variety of views in Protestantism a Christian has a free choice whether to belong to a confession or not to belong at all to any confession.

• Internal Church structure.

Orthodox has Local Churches, in Russia there are several different Orthodox Churches. Consequently, there is a range of differences regarding ceremonial and canonical issues (for example, recognition or non- recognition of the Gregorian calendar – the New Style). Under the aegis of Moscow patriarchate are 95% of the religious. The Old Belief is the most aged alternative confession in Russia. Catholicism is organizationally united by the Pope authority alongside with the considerable autonomy of monastic orders. But the Old Catholic Church as well as Catholic- Lefevrists (traditional ones) do not admit papal infallibility. But they are not numerous. Centralization is prevailed in Lutheranism and Anglicanism. Baptist Church is organized on the federative principle: Baptist commune is autonomous and sovereign, is subordinated only to Jesus Christ. Unions of communes sort just organizational matters.

• Relations with temporal power

Over history (in various epochs and in different countries) the Orthodox Church was in alliance with temporal power (“in symphony”), and subordinated to power in civil aspect. Right up to the new period Catholicism competed with temporal power, and even the Pope had temporal power over vast territories. Protestantism has various models of relations with temporal power: for example, it is the Established (State) religion; in other countries- Church completely separated from the State.

• Clergy attitude towards marriage

In Orthodoxy Secular clergy (thus all clergy except monks) has the right to marry just once in their lives. In Catholicism clergy takes celibacy (vow of chastity), with the exception of priests from Churches of the Eastern (Oriental) rite, based in alliance with the Catholic Church. Marriage is possible for all the religious in the Protestantism.

• Monkhood or Regular / black clergy

The Spiritual Father of monkshood in the Orthodoxy is St. Basil the Great. There are cloisters in cenobitical monasticism (goods in communion as well as spiritual discipleship) or cloisters living separately without any cenobitical rules. Since 11-12 centuries Catholic monkshood began to turn into orders. The most influential was Order of St. Benedict. Other orders are divided into monastic orders like Dominican, Franciscan or religious and military ones as Knights Templar or Knights Hospitallers. Protestantism denies any monasticism or monkshood.

• Superior Authority

The Superior Authorities in Orthodoxy are the sacred Scriptures and the Holy tradition, including Father’s works as well as Doctors` of the Church writings. The Pope and his point of view towards the faith (the infallibility dogma) are the Superior Authorities. Also the sacred Scriptures are treated as influential. Roman Catholic canon law states their Churches as ecumenical council. Bible is the Superior Authority in Protestantism.

2. Dogmas

• The Holy Spirit

Christianity considers that the Holy Spirit comes from the Lord through his Son. In Catholicism the Holy Spirit comes from the Lord as well as form his Son, so from both. The Eastern-rite Catholics have rather different point of view. Confessions- members of the World Council of Churches adopt a short and general Christian (Apostolic) Symbol of the Faith, not touching this question.

• Doctrine about the Virgin Mary

The Orthodox believe that Mother of God did not have her own sin, but carried the original sin (the old Adam) like all other people. She ruptured to heaven after her assumption. There is a doctrine about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Catholicism. That proves the lack of the original sin. Mary image is the ideal and perfect woman in the Protestantism.

• Purgatory

There is this doctrine of purgatory (severe sufferings of the soul after death because of sins) and the Last Judgement in the Orthodoxy as well as in the Catholicism. Protestantism denies the doctrine of purgatory.

3. Bible

• Correlation between the Holy Script and the Holy Tradition

In the Orthodoxy the Holy Script is considered as the part of the Holy Tradition. In the Catholicism the Holy Script is equal to the Holy Tradition. Protestantism regards the Holy Script beyond the Holy Tradition.

4. Church Practice

• Ordinance

The Orthodoxy and the Catholicism have identical points of view regarding the Ordinance. They accept 7 sacraments: christening, anointing, confession, the Eucharist, marriage, the ordination to the Holy Orders and the Anointing (Unction) of the Sick (last rite). Most of the confessions in the Protestantism admit just two sacraments: the Eucharist and the Christening.

• Admission new members into the fold of the Church

Orthodox Church performs a christening usually in the childhood. Anointing and the First Communion are made immediately after the christening. A Catholic enters all these sacraments at more conscious age (7-12 years age). Along side with this factor a child ought to know the fundamentals of the faith. Protestantism follows the same rules as the Catholicism.

• Peculiarities of the Eucharist sacrament

Eucharist is performed with kvass bread (bread cooked with yeast). Clergy as well as layman celebrate Eucharist by the body of Christ and his Blood (bread and wine). The Catholics perform Eucharist with unleavened bread (no yeast). Priesthood can take bread and wine, layman – only bread. Different confessions of the Protestantism use various sorts of bread.

• Confession

If for the Orthodox Church the confession in the priest presence is obligatory, in the Catholicism- a person, is desirable, to confess once a year in the presence of the priest, then Protestantism does not admit any mediator between a man and the Lord. Nobody has the right to confess and to remit sins.

• Public liturgy (Divine service)

The main public liturgy in the Orthodoxy Church is by the Eastern (Oriental) rite. The Catholic Church follows the Eastern (Oriental) rite and the Latin (Roman) one. Protestantism pursues various kinds of public liturgies.

• The language of public liturgy

The language of Orthodox liturgies is the national language of the country; in Russia- you may hear the Church Slavonic language. Catholics- the national language of the country, also Latin language is used for these purposes. Protestantism applies various languages.

5. Piety

• Icons and cross. The Saints and the Prayers for the Deceased.

The Orthodox worship icons and cross. The Catholics are devoted to Jesus Christ, cross and the Saints. The prayer is permitted in front of the icon, but not to the icon. In Protestantism icons are not esteemed. You may just see a cross in some prayer houses. The Orthodox and the Catholics revere the Saints. The Prayers for the Deceased is normal for the both religions. The Protestantism does accept neither Saints nor any Prayers for the Deceased.

• The Virgin Mary cult

A man can pray to the Virgin Mary as to the Mother of God or the Heavenly Mediatress in the Orthodoxy as well as in the Catholicism. There is no any cult to the Virgin Mary in the Protestantism.

Tibet Isn't a Buddhist Litmus Test

As the violence in Tibet has continued, the Dalai Lama issued a stern statement that he could not align himself with insurrection in his home country. Buddhism rests on several pillars, one of which is nonviolence. Tibet quickly became a kind of Buddhist litmus test. How much pain and oppression can you stand and still exhibit loving kindness and compassion? I wonder if that's really fair. The Tibetans face a political crisis that should be met with political action. Whatever that action turns out to be, nobody should be seen as a good or bad Buddhist, anymore than defending your house from an intruder tests whether a Christian is living by the precepts of Jesus.

In India, where Gandhi preached nonviolence, or Ahimsa, he confronted a decaying British empire that was forced to give up its vast holdings. Historical luck was on his side, and as a result of Gandhi's pacifism, India gained its independence. The Dalai Lama, however, has had historical misfortune to contend with. The Chinese are an expanding empire, and their ingrained racism allows them to overrun the "inferior" native Tibetans without any moral qualms. Will pacifism work in this situation? A better question might be, Would anything work? It's not as though the Beijing regime can be defeated by force, either. One recalls that Gandhi combined pacifism with resistance, whereas the Tibetans up to now have sunk into an inert pacifism that could lead to their cultural extinction.

No doubt the entire conflict, now half a century old, is entangled in religion and other interwoven ingredients: Communist ideology, fantasies of restoring Chinese glory days, and much else. But Buddha, like Jesus, didn't start a religion. He was concerned with how to live in the world, and being entangled in the world's pain and confusion is an eternal dilemma. It didn't need ruthless bureaucrats in China. Over the centuries, failed crops, endemic disease, and poverty have been quite capable of bringing suffering. It would be superficial to say that Buddha and Jesus arrived at the same remedy -- to be in the world but not of it -- yet nobody needs to pass that test, either.

What Buddha and Jesus
undoubtedly had in common was a sense that another realm of existence transcends the material world. Buddhists are asked to consider how to reach that realm. There are no dictates (as far as my limited knowledge goes) to engage the world and solve its tortured dilemmas. Indeed, Buddha is famous for teaching that such solutions don't exist. It is futile to apply Buddhism to a political crisis - or to the subprime mortgage debacle, for that matter - because wrestling with the material world never leads to freedom, fulfillment, or peace.

Someone may protest that the Dalai Lama is being an exemplary Buddhist in maintaining such perfect equanimity, and I completely agree. But he has achieved his level of consciousness for himself. This is a case where virtue must be its own reward. The world looks on and admires the Dalai Lama; it doesn't change for him. My intention isn't to give any Tibetan Buddhist advice, or to adopt a position superior to anyone else's. It just strikes me that Tibet shouldn't be a litmus test for religious purity while an entire people are slowly ground to dust. Nor should the peaceful countenance of the Dalai Lama become an excuse for the rest of us to stand by and do nothing, as if that proves how virtuous we are.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scientists probe meditation secrets

Scientists are beginning to uncover evidence that meditation has a tangible effect on the brain.

Sceptics argue that it is not a practical way to try to deal with the stresses of modern life.

But the long years when adherents were unable to point to hard science to support their belief in the technique may finally be coming to an end.
When Carol Cattley's husband died it triggered a relapse of the depression which had not plagued her since she was a teenager.
"I instantly felt as if I wanted to die," she said. "I couldn't think of what else to do."

Carol sought medical help and managed to control her depression with a combination of medication and a psychological treatment called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
However, she believes that a new, increasingly popular course called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) - which primarily consists of meditation - brought about her full recovery.
It is currently available in every county across the UK, and can be prescribed on the NHS.
One of the pioneers of MBCT is Professor Mark Williams, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.
He helps to lead group courses which take place over a period of eight weeks. He describes the approach as 80% meditation, 20% cognitive therapy.

New perspective

He said: "It teaches a way of looking at problems, observing them clearly but not necessarily trying to fix them or solve them.
"It suggests to people that they begin to see all their thoughts as just thoughts, whether they are positive, negative or neutral."
MBCT is recommended for people who are not currently depressed, but who have had three or more bouts of depression in their lives.
Trials suggest that the course reduces the likelihood of another attack of depression by over 50%.
Professor Williams believes that more research is still needed.
He said: "It is becoming enormously popular quite quickly and in many ways we now need to collect the evidence to check that it really is being effective."
However, in the meantime, meditation is being taken seriously as a means of tackling difficult and very modern challenges.
Scientists are beginning to investigate how else meditation could be used, particularly for those at risk of suicide and people struggling with the effects of substance abuse.

What is meditation?

Meditation is difficult to define because it has so many different forms.
By meditating, you can become happier, you can concentrate more effectively and you can change your brain in ways that support that Dr Richard Davidson
Broadly, it can be described as a mental practice in which you focus your attention on a particular subject or object.
It has historically been associated with religion, but it can also be secular, and exactly what you focus your attention on is largely a matter of personal choice.
It may be a mantra (repeated word or phrase), breathing patterns, or simply an awareness of being alive.
Some of the more common forms of meditative practices include Buddhist Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Zen Meditation.
The claims made for meditation range from increasing immunity, improving asthma and increasing fertility through to reducing the effects of aging.

Limited research

Research into the health claims made for meditation has limitations and few conclusions can be reached, partly because meditation is rarely isolated - it is often practised alongside other lifestyle changes such as diet, or exercise, or as part of group therapy.
So should we dismiss it as quackery? Studies from the field of neuroscience suggest not.
It is a new area of research, but indications are intriguing and suggest that meditation may have a measurable impact on the brain.
In Boston, Massachusetts, Dr Sara Lazar has used a technique called MRI scanning to analyse the brains of people who have been meditating for several years.
She compared the brains of these experienced practitioners with people who had never meditated and found that there were differences in the thickness of certain areas of the brain's cortex, including areas involved in the processing of emotion.
She is continuing research, but she believes that meditation had caused the brain to change physical shape.

Buddhist monks

In Madison, Wisconsin, Dr Richard Davidson has been carrying out studies on Buddhist monks for several years.
His personal belief is that "by meditating, you can become happier, you can concentrate more effectively and you can change your brain in ways that support that."
In one study he observed the brains of a group of office workers before and after they undertook a course of meditation combined with stress reduction techniques.
At the end of the course the participants' brains seemed to have altered in the way they functioned.
They showed greater activity in the left-hand side - a characteristic which Davidson has previously linked to happiness and enthusiasm.
This idea that meditation could improve the wellbeing of everyone, even those not struggling with mental illness, is something that is exciting researchers.
Professor Williams believes it has huge potential.
"It involves dealing with expectations, with constantly judging ourselves - feeling we're not good enough," he said.
"And, that is something which is so widespread in our communities.
"All of these things are just thoughts. And, they will come up in meditation and learning to recognize what they are as thoughts, and let them go, can be enormously empowering for anybody."
There is, of course, a distinct possibility that this research will come to nothing and that interest in meditation will turn out to be a passing fad, but for now this ancient discipline is being taken seriously by scientists as a tool with potential to make each one of us happier and more content.