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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Thursday, May 29, 2008

What is karma?

Sharon Stone
claims the earthquake in China is the result of bad karma for its treatment of Tibetans. Is her definition - "when you are not nice, bad things happen to you" - correct?

Radiohead sings of the "karma police", called in to arrest those who upset Thom Yorke: "This is what you get when you mess with us." And Boy George warbles about a "karma chameleon", in a toxic relationship because he's not "so sweet" anymore.

Cause and effect, see. Actions have consequences.

And Sharon Stone, a convert to Buddhism, has claimed - to much criticism - that the earthquake that killed at least 68,000 people in China was bad karma for Beijing policy in Tibet. "I thought, is that karma - when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?" she mused at the Cannes Film Festival.

Karma is an important concept for Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. Translated from the Sanskrit, it means simply "action". Because karma is used in a number of ways and contexts - even among different branches of Buddhism - this can be confusing.

Dhammadassin, a teacher at the London Buddhist Centre, says that Stone's take on karma is common - glossed over as an outcome that is the result of something done in the past - or even a past life.

"This reduces the enormously complex matter of causes and their effects to a question of retribution meted out for unspecified previous actions," she says.

But the law of karma states that it's the motive behind one's actions that affects the outcome of that particular act.

"So an intentionally ethical action - for example to promote kindness, generosity, contentment - is more likely to have positive, beneficial consequences. An intentionally unethical one - to promote self-aggrandisement or greed - will be more likely to have unhelpful, even harmful consequences. Unhelpful, that is, for the positive well-being of either the doer or the recipient or both."

In a complex world, it's too simplistic to expect that a positive intention will always have a positive outcome as many factors are involved, she says.

The idea of moral causation has long been held in India, but the doctrine of karma was formulated and explained by the Buddha, a spiritual teacher thought to have lived about 2,500 years ago. Some believe that he was a human who became enlightened; others that he was a god.

His teachings hold that whatever comes into existence does so in response to the conditions at the time, and in turn affects what comes after it.

Sangharakshita, the Briton who founded the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1967, explains this with the following example in his book Who Is The Buddha? "Rainfall, sunshine, and the nourishing earth are the conditions from which arises the oak tree, whose fallen leaves rot and form the rich humus from which the bluebell grows."

Dhammadassin says that despite its simplicity, this example reflects the inter-connectedness of our world, "in which our views, attitudes, opinions and intentions all have a part to play in creating our actions and their consequences". And what many call karma is actually closer to the idea of poetic justice, she says.

Nor do Buddhists believe karma is the only cause - others are:

  • inorganic or environmental factors, such as the weather
  • organic or biological factors, like bacteria or viruses
  • psychological factors such as stress
  • and transcendental or spiritual factors (such as the sometimes powerful galvanizing effect of spiritual practice)

"The earthquake in China or the cyclone in Burma have much to do with environmental factors," says Dhammadassin. "To invoke karma is more to do with our desire to nail things down and find someone to blame. But that's not ours to do."


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spirituality - Is it all in your head?

These things can always be looked at several different ways. After listening to WNYC’s RadioLab on “Where Am I?”, I was very uncertain about the brain’s role in religion and spirituality, and how we might create the “proof” for these beliefs. When the brain loses track of the body, experiences similar to “near-death experiences” occur. Perhaps these situations are merely a reaction of the brain being confused? Does this call into question other spiritual experiences as really being physical manifestations of some issue, misinterpreted as something esoteric?

Then Dr. Taylor has this store of inspiration, which I’m reposting here. She was featured in the New York Times just last week. According to Dr. Taylor, nirvana is attainable by choosing to behave and perceive using more of one’s right hemisphere. There isn’t clarity of exactly how one is supposed to go about doing that (perhaps you need to buy the book?)

But it is an interesting proposal. Add in the RadioLab information, and the question becomes even more convoluted.

First - is it merely an electrical stimulus of the brain we are perceiving as peace?

Second - does it matter? Does the fact that one can choose to be in nirvana make it less desirable to attain? Less of a challenge? I mean think about it - part of the method of attaining nirvana was to let go of the physical - and now we have some indication that nirvana is purely phyiscal? A matter of making synapses happen more on the right brain than the left. Does that alter our understanding of most metaphysical teachings? Meditation?

Perhaps spirituality has less to do with what’s OUT THERE as opposed to what’s IN US, and how we connect to others.

Anyway - have a look. (If this video isn’t working for you, go here.)

From Exponential Steel Buddha

Churches must be 'entertainment' too

If clairvoyants must have warning signs, why not faith healers and others places of worship?

I am driven to my wits' end by my fellow humans' feeble grasp of principled reasoning. Take this week's announcement of new government proposals. Anyone caught with drawings (or computer-generated images) of child sexual abuse will face up to three years in prison. This will close what ministers are now calling a “loophole”.

That was not yesterday's argument. When the existing ban on photographic images was enacted, the argument in principle was that real children are exploited and harmed to make these images, which is true. That entire philosophical plank on which the legislation

rested has now been kicked casually away. If you, alone in your room, put pencil to paper and draw - for your eyes only - an obscene doodle involving a child, you will invite a prison term of up to three years. There is real scope for vindictive citizens to ransack desks or bins and call the police.

Maria Eagle, the Justice Minister, said that the move was not intended to curb creativity or freedom of expression but to tackle images that had “no place in society”. Crikey - the intellectual sloppiness! The move does curb creativity and freedom of expression: it curbs both in pursuit of what its proponents consider the greater public good. No censorship in history has ever been advanced on any other ground.

I am driven to my wits' end by my fellow humans' feeble grasp of principled reasoning. Take this week's announcement of new government proposals. Anyone caught with drawings (or computer-generated images) of child sexual abuse will face up to three years in prison. This will close what ministers are now calling a “loophole”.

That was not yesterday's argument. When the existing ban on photographic images was enacted, the argument in principle was that real children are exploited and harmed to make these images, which is true. That entire philosophical plank on which the legislation

rested has now been kicked casually away. If you, alone in your room, put pencil to paper and draw - for your eyes only - an obscene doodle involving a child, you will invite a prison term of up to three years. There is real scope for vindictive citizens to ransack desks or bins and call the police.

Maria Eagle, the Justice Minister, said that the move was not intended to curb creativity or freedom of expression but to tackle images that had “no place in society”. Crikey - the intellectual sloppiness! The move does curb creativity and freedom of expression: it curbs both in pursuit of what its proponents consider the greater public good. No censorship in history has ever been advanced on any other ground.

But, hell, I'll stick to my guns. Another example of careless jurisprudence this week: on Monday a new law came into force requiring fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, astrologers and mediums to stipulate explicitly that their services are for “entertainment only”.

Well, trades descriptions legislation is anciently established; but in the realms of the spirit, prophecy, invisible worlds, ghosts and human souls, it has generally been felt that the whole thing is too cloudy for law. By bringing access to other spiritual dimensions into line with access to (say) a British Airways club class lounge, and by deeming in law - for that is what this measure does - that claims about worlds undreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio, are false, Parliament has taken a serious step in principle, even if the measure itself is trivial and most clairvoyants are only jokers anyway.

What, for instance, about the “faith” community? Perhaps it's there in the legislative small print already. There will have to be an exception in law for “religions”. Whereupon clairvoyants will presumably rename themselves spiritualists. And spiritualists will presumably claim the status of a religion. Whereupon lawmakers will stipulate that a “religion” has to centre around a deity. Whereupon Buddhism will cease to be a “religion”; and...

...Well you see the philosophical marsh into which this new principle leads. Is Parliament aware of any harder evidence for the efficacy of faith-healing than for the reliability of clairvoyance? I'd like to hear it. Otherwise, let the collecting boxes in church display a sign “for entertainment purposes only” and let Catholics buy candles to light “for entertainment purposes only”; and let trips to Lourdes be sold “for entertainment purposes only”. And let the raiment of the priest administering the Sacrament be embroidered likewise.

Imagine the churchyard billboard: the Power of Prayer (for entertainment purposes only).

I am occasionally reminded what a troubling spectacle I may present. On Saturday in Derbyshire I flagged down a car heading for the holiday cottage near our house, and said: “Park at the end; your friends have already arrived.” Seized with a conviction (erroneous) that I recognised this elderly couple, I gushed: “Haven't I seen you somewhere before?” They said nothing, rolled up their window and pulled away rather fast. Odd.

But think it through, Parris. I was tacking old carpet on to a tin roof so honeysuckle will spread over it. I was shoeless and unshaven. There was a cut on my forehead. My favourite old shirt's collar was frayed to ribbons. My principal fly-button had gone.

In my right hand was a Stanley knife, in my left a hammer and a reel of fishing line. From my top pocket the sharp end of an awl stuck out. Poor dears. They must have thought they'd driven into a scene from Deliverance.

By Matthew Parris

"I am inspired by His Holiness' wisdom and humbleness

NOTTINGHAM, May 27 - As scheduled some months back, His Holiness the Dalai Lama this afternoon attended here the civic reception for him hosted by the Nottinghamshire County Council at the County Hall, where officials and local people lined up to accord a warm reception.

Speaking at the official function attended by senior government officials, staff and invited guests, the Chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council Joan Taylor said it was a privilege and honour for them to receive the Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate at the County Hall.

"His Holiness needs no introduction, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge his extraordinary attitude and strides to achieve world peace and harmony", Councillor Taylor said, adding that she is "deeply moved and inspired by his wisdom, his humbleness, his humour and his simplicity".

Prior to this, to mark his visit, His Holiness was also invited to plant a tree in the Country Hall premises overlooking the River Trent. Responding to the spontaneous and positive response from the public and officials who had gathered around the tree planting area, His Holiness waved his hands and expressed his appreciation and on seeing a local waving the Tibetan flag, spontaneously recalled how during his visit to China and meeting with Chairman Mao in 1954/55, the Chinese strongman had asked him about the Tibetan flag and told how it was important to keep it. "You have the permission of Chairman Mao to fly this flag", said His Holiness, who was followed by press photographers and reporters.

His Holiness in his remarks made before receiving from the Chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council the especially designed glassware gift said he appreciated the warm civic reception given to him. He said he was enjoying the natural surroundings of Nottingham city and was pleased to hear sweet sounds of birds chirping. Then to yet another delight of the city staff and others, His Holiness said one reason why the organisers of his visit had chosen Nottingham as the venue of his public talks and teachings is because it was comparatively "cheaper" than several over cities and this had apparently been helpful to many people coming to hear him.

His Holiness devoted two hours each of the morning and afternoon session to the teaching on Je Tsongkhapa's "Praise to the Buddha for His Discourses on Dependent Origination" (tendral toepa). During the teachings, attended mainly by about 5,000 Buddhists from different parts of the UK, Europe and the Americas, His Holiness answered questions from the audience to clarify their doubts or to seek a more pointed response. Answering a question on the controversy surrounding the Shugden worship, His Holiness said the reasons for his discouraging the worship of Shugden is because the practice was degenerating the profound teachings of the Buddha into "spirit worship" as well as coming in the way of his efforts to promote religious harmony and non-sectarianism among the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness said he as the teacher has advised his disciples from propitiating the Shugden spirit keeping in view the larger interest and well-being of the Tibetan people.

"We Tibetans are passing through a difficult period. But as someone who supports freedom and democracy, I cannot ban anything. So whether they listen or not it is up to them", His Holiness said.

This evening His Holiness gave an audience to about 700 Mongolians that the Mongolian Embassy had arranged through the London Office of Tibet. The Counsellor of the Mongolian Embassy thanked His Holiness for sparing some time for the UK-based Mongolian and the Chairman of the Mongolian Community made a milk offering in accordance to the Mongolian tradition.

His Holiness recalled to the Mongolian audience the age-old historical and religious ties that the people of Mongolia and Tibet had enjoyed. He also said how the Tibetans despite being refugees are still trying to help the Mongolians in imparting knowledge about Buddhism, which had suffered in Mongolia because of their having to live under Russian Communist regime for a long time.

"Mere recitation of mantras is not enough. You must study the Buddhist philosophy and form discussion groups. Buddhism itself is very intelligent and based on logic but due to lack of understanding it may become like blind faith", His Holiness said, adding that the Buddhist concept of "inter-dependence" can also be used in enhancing one's professional field.

According to Mr. Tsering Tashi, the London-based Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the warmth with which the local people, officials and others have been responding to His Holiness' presence and talks in Nottingham is most encouraging and speaks volumes of how much the Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader is regarded wherever he goes.

"Each time His Holiness enters the auditorium stage at the start of the public talk and teachings and upon leaving, the people have been giving His Holiness standing ovation apparently as a mark of their show of respect and appreciation for his presence and wisdom shared", said Mr. Tsering Tashi, who is also accompanying His Holiness during the Nottingham leg of the visit programme.

On Thursday morning His Holiness will leave for Oxford, where he has been invited to give the keynote address at a seminar on Christian and Buddhist prayers and meditation and a public talk on the wider understanding of Buddhism, besides other engagements.

Yesterday, His Holiness gave an audience to Nottingham City Councillors and officials of the Nottingham Arena, where the five-day public talks and the teachings that began on 24 May are being held. The Chairman of the Nottingham City Council and the Executive Director of the Nottingham Arena thanked His Holiness for agreeing to come to the city and through his visit putting the city on the international map and for generating an atmosphere of spirituality and peace.

Report by Office of Tibet, London

Monday, May 26, 2008

What about a bit of Afro-Buddhism?

Today is Africa Day (May 24), an occasion of high Tartuffery, stuffed dashikis and the usual self-importance.

But rather than do the obvious and sound off about terrible ironies in the light of current events — an unsophisticated tack that has, like the poor Somali shopkeeper up the road, been done to death — I thought we’d muddle through the column with seemingly random thoughts, the odd insult and maybe a few questions until we reached a conclusion of sorts. Ready?

Anyone listening to the SABC this week would have heard the buffoonish cackle, “Africa Day — because Africa belongs to all of us.”

Which is true. Particularly if you’re an international petro-chemical company or mining house. God help the African who grazes his cattle on land rich in minerals or oil. Because Africa certainly doesn’t belong to him.

And it certainly doesn’t belong to the Zimbodians.

Did you know that, at an emergency meeting last month in response to the Zimbabwean crisis, civil society organisations declared today Stand Up For Zimbabwe Day?

It was their response to the Mugabe regime’s campaign of murder and terror — a campaign that appears to enjoy Pretoria’s approval.

Anyway, we have been invited to observe at least one minute of silence at noon today to show our solidarity with the very people we are hounding out of the country.

But moving on.

Yesterday SAFM ’s AM Live interviewed Musa Xulu, convener of the African Renaissance Conference.

The conference is part of the 10th African Renaissance Festival, which takes place in Durban today and tomorrow and the highlight of which is a concert today featuring Johnny Clegg.

What I found interesting was Xulu’s description of Clegg (as if such a thing were necessary), not as an African, but as a “person who has embraced African culture”.

It’s a small thing, and perhaps I’m making too much of it, but how can we ever begin to tackle xenophobia if, even at such a basic level of communication, our language is so concerned with this “otherness” of others?

There are many questions that we need to ask ourselves. Why does Aziz Pahad squeak? Who is responsible for Winnie Madikizela- Mandela’s millinery? And why can’t she pass a few old hats on to Frankenmanto, whose wigs seem to have been startled into open revolt?

But other questions are perhaps a little more pertinent: why do the ubuntu- crazed mobs chant Umshini Wam, the love song of Dancin’ Jacob Zuma, our next president, as they hound foreigners?

Speaking of which, can Kangaman really be that much worse than Thabo Mbeki? The call for special xenophobia courts — desperation, or what?

Does this stuff scare you as much as it does me?

Isn’t it depressing that Afro-pessimists are all so Colonel Blimpish? And why are they so boring? And why can’t there be such a thing as Afro-Buddhism? Show me a gorgeous Afro-Buddhist and I’ll happily let her rub my tummy. For luck, even.

But can Afro-Buddhism help people like the Freedom Front Plus’s Pieter Mulder? Last weekend, in Brussels, his party was welcomed into the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organisation — a move that the FF+, with no trace of irony, lists as one of its greatest achievements to date. As Mulder put it, “(UNPO) is an organisation that fights for the right of the world’s silent voices.”

Which may or may not be a good thing. But there are times when we, in fact, welcome a little silence.

And not necessarily just for the battered Zimbos.

From: The Times

To BIA or not to BIA

When you realize the nothingness of it all, you will have arrivedpossibly at the new airport. Since being is not being, even if the airport is, it is not...

Now that the new airport has turned us all into a city of chronic worriers, a lot of people I know are seeking spiritual help in getting answers to the questions riddling their lives with tension. The famed flying Guru Bialaswamy has advocated a form Aavial (not to be confused with the dish avial) Spirituality to help tackle the widespread stress. Here are some Compulsively Asked Questions (CAQS) about the new airport, and the answers:

CAQ: How long will it take to reach the new airport from where I live?

GB: My child, time does not exist except in your mind. So when you say how long, you are talking relativity. It all depends upon which relative you are going to visit. If it’s your in laws, time will stretch into infinity. If it is friends, time will condense. It also depends upon whether you are travelling by auto, bus, car, or astrally. Astral is the fastest. And cheapest …..with great frequent flyer discounts and upgrades. But then if you can go astral why go to BIAL at all?

CAQ: Will my body survive the potholes on the way?

GB: The body is finite and will soon turn to dust. It’s the eternal soul you have to worry about. Ask the voice inside if your soul will survive the ride. A couple of spinal injuries may lay you up for six months, but what is six months compared to the infinity of the soul? All life is a journey and potholes are ordained by your karma and the Corporation.

CAQ: What do I do if I want to go to the toilet rather desperately on the way?

GB: Going to BIA is a journey of spiritual growth. You will have to exercise great restraint over every wayward instinct. Rise above the urges of the gross body. Otherwise, just refrain from eating or drinking anything twelve hours before you set out. Carry adult diapers with you.

CAQS: How will the pilots know it’s time to change track and land at BIA instead of HAL?

GB: How do the trees know when it’s time to flower? How do birds know when it’s time to lay an egg? How does your head know when it’s time to go bald? Knowing is not a function of the conscious mind. The pilots will know it in their unconscious, when they must land at the new runway. Remember, just as you are not the doer, the pilot is not the flyer. His higher self flies on autopilot while he takes a nap after the booze up the night before.

CAQ: Is it considered bigamy for a city like Bengaluru to have two airports?

These are man-made laws for the smooth functioning of society. In the eyes of the Divine you can have as many airports as you want without creating permanent confusion among the passengers. But then the chaos will lead to creativity and the Creator as surely as bean eating in Bengaluru leads to a lot of gas.

CAQ: Is there a new airport at all or is it all media hype?

GB: My son, all of the world is Maya. It’s an illusion created by our fevered minds.

There is no you, no me, no world, no cars, no road, no airlines and no airport. Your mind has created it all from nothing. When you realize the nothingness of it all, you will have arrived…possibly at the new airport. Since being is not being, even if the airport is, it is not.

By Sadiqa Peerbhoy

Friday, May 23, 2008

Italian Professor Combines Spirit and Mind

Riviello believes her spot at Santa Clara came from act of providence

From Italian short stories and poems to conversations about Italian designers and film directors, professor Tonia Caterina Riviello engages her students in their study of the language and shares the lifestyle and culture of her native country with them.

"When I'm teaching, three parts of me come together -- the spirit, mind and heart. I'm very grateful to the students and the university for being what they are," she said.

Riviello writes poetry that expresses her passion for learning and reflects her surroundings, spirituality and her interactions with students.

As a child in Italy, her parents often read and studied, and their emphasis on learning inspired Riviello at a young age.

"Learning was so important in my family. They never had to tell me to study. It was natural for me," she said.

Much of Riviello's education comes from her religious life. The first two words she learned to say after "Mamma" and "Papá" were "religione," religion and "rispetto," respect. Her mother took her to church every day, she said.

When it comes to her teaching philosophy, Riviello strives to engage her students intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. She tries to create an alternate reality with literature to show students how literary worlds can affect their own lives. "I want whatever we learn to teach us something about our lives, to make our lives better," she said.

Riviello finds that literature has the power to teach morals and life lessons.

"I want to have literature as a discovery of self as well as an enriching self experience, to give us another reality and which should become part of us," she said.

While finishing her dissertation in 1983, Riviello heard that Santa Clara was hiring for an Italian assistant professor to fill in for a professor while he was on sabbatical. After an interview in New York at the Modern Languages Association, she came to the university in the winter of 1984.

Riviello fell in love with Santa Clara immediately, especially the Mission Church. She described her first visit as an "epiphany."

She believes that her move to Santa Clara was an act of providence. Riviello was born on Saint Clare's Day, August 11.

"I was praying as I was studying that when I finished, I would be able to teach at Santa Clara," she said. In 2001, the 150th anniversary of the university, Riviello dedicated her edited collection of essays, "Women in Italian Cinema," which was written by professors at Italian and American universities, to Santa Clara.

Riviello reflected on how her education and religion greatly impacted her vocational endeavors. "All this was essential to prepare me for teaching at Santa Clara," she said.

Riviello has been at Santa Clara since Paul Locatelli, S.J., began his position as university president. "Thank you, Father Locatelli, for 20 years of spiritual, intellectual enlightenment," she said.

While living in Italy, Riviello was involved in Catholic Action, a program for adolescents that educates participants on Catholic ethics, spirituality and citizenship.

Later, when she and her family lived in New York, Riviello studied at Hunter College and received her Bachelor of Arts in Italian literature and English literature.

She earned her master's degree in Italian literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and continued there to earn her doctorate in Italian literature with a minor in French literature in 1984.

When Riviello returns to Santa Clara every fall after spending the summer in Italy and New York, she is always excited to begin the new year.

"For me every fall, it's like the first year. This is what's so beautiful about Santa Clara and the students," she said.

When I come back, it's like 'This is what I was waiting for.

From The Santa Clar

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An overdose of spurious spirituality

Indians from the ancient times have regarded the sadhus and swamis as next to god and worshipped them. But, these days, various shameful acts committed by these so-called swamis certainly put a question mark on the authenticity of such persons.

FOR THE past one week, the people of Kerala have been treated to the juicy bits of two swamis’ profligacy and escapades. Every vernacular and English language daily in the state have been carrying tantalising details of their daring and nonchalance. While one swami named Amrithachaithanya was arrested on charges of embezzlement, rape, deception and so on, the other called Himaval Bhadrananda was taken in for threatening journalists at newspaper offices with a loaded gun and also using a beacon light on his car, which is forbidden.

The original name of Amrithachaitanya was Santhosh Madhavan. He hails from the hilly district of Idukki in eastern Kerala. On a visit some years ago to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he cheated an expatriate Indian woman to the tune of Rs 45 lakhs (1 million UAE dirhams). His photo had appeared on the Interpol’s most wanted list for arms smuggling.

When the police raided his posh residence and ashram, they found a police officer’s uniform, a tiger skin, and a large number of blue film CDs. The swami was a sexual pervert who raped over half a dozen hapless minor girls whom he had been sponsoring for education. He was also running a so-called charity mission whose assets ran into crores of rupees, quite in disproportion to the known sources of his income. He led a high-profile life in the company of political bigwigs and police officers. Although now he is in police custody, all news about him shows an everlasting smile playing on his lips.

Bhadrananda’s case is even more bizarre. He came up with Karma as his route to paradise and milked his followers for cash. He managed to get licence for a pistol for the safety of his person because he claims to have had deadly enemies opposed to his Karma philosophy. The same pistol he put against his head and threatened to blow his head off to prove his ‘innocence’ while senior police officers watched his antics in silence for two hours. He managed to wound a journalist and his own left arm by firing his gun. Bhadran was a time-waster before he donned the ochre garb and started his circus among the people of Kerala.

A third swami called Krishnadas too has come under the scanner these days. Kerala obviously is ready to accept and admire these charlatans in the name of spirituality. These so-called avatars claim supernatural powers, particularly the power of prophecy. They are cunning enough to read people’s minds and with their mumbo-jumbo create the illusion of sagacity. People quickly fall prey to their charms and easy manners. They worship them and generously donate to their coffers.

Psychologists have come up with the theory that in the aftermath of globalisation, people’s aspirations have soared to insatiable limits. In their frustration and despair, they seek solace in the supernatural as propounded by these spurious gurus. These are not gurus but wolves in sheep’s clothing. And when their façade falls off as it inevitably must in due course, the reality is loathsome.

And yet people won’t learn their lessons. They lack the power to see into the tricks of these impostors. They still worship them. They will not learn from history. They are condemned to repeat history. More swindlers will appear and flourish in this land!

From Merinews

A Glimpse of Balkan Spirituality in London

21 May 2008 Kit Fordham’s new exhibition of black-and-white photographs of Orthodox life and worship in the Balkans and Russia casts a fresh eye on an ancient subject, writes Marcus Tanner.

A tall Russian priest cranes his head forward to hear the whispered confession of an old woman at the St Sergius monastery in Moscow; a young man in shorts lights a candle in the coal-black gloom of a church in Budva, Montenegro; a bearded clergyman emerges from beneath an archway at the Rila monastery, Bulgaria; a giant cross leaps into the sky on the outskirts of Skopje, Macedonia.

These are only some of the images of religious life in the Balkans and Russia captured by British photographer Kit Fordham, who has embarked on a mission to portray the spirit and spirituality of the Orthodox world.

His exhibition, “Eastern Soul: A Photographic Odyssey through Russia and the Balkans”, opened at the Pushkin House in London on Tuesday.

Fordham is no conventionally devout Christian. “I’m not even baptised,” he says. But he makes no bones about his fascination with the little known and often misunderstood world of Orthodox Europe, and with the way that faith, ritual and tradition continue to exert a powerful impact on society in the Balkans and Russia - not only on headscarved grandmothers and peasants but the young, too.

For many people, he says, it remains “a key anchor in the lives of young and old alike, while life changes round them inordinately”.

Fordham’s journey began five years, he told Balkan Insight, when, after touring Transylvania, he chanced on a little church in the Romanian capital and felt struck both by the otherness of the Orthodox faith and by the intimate role it still played in the life of so many people in the “other” half of Europe.

“Eastern Soul” celebrates only the first part of what Fordham anticipates will be a longer Balkan journey, taking in the holy shrines and churches of Kosovo, among other places.

The use of black and white lends a quality of austerity and stillness to his work, which draws on the influence of Cartier-Bresson, and appears peculiarly well suited to the subject matter – a faith that endeavours above all to remain true to its past in a fast changing environment.

Fordham hopes his work will do more than tease the curiosity of onlookers: “At a time when east-west tensions are on the rise, eastern soul provides a prism through which life in the Slavic east can be viewed”.

“Eastern Soul: A Photographic Odyssey Through Russia and the Balkans” is on show at Pushkin House in London until June 4. All images are for sale. For prices and further information, contact Kit Fordham on: Kitfordham, or Pushkin House

From Balkan in Sight

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Buddhism Through the Lens

QPAC presents a photographic exhibition of Buddhist tradition by Brisbane photographer Anthony Anderton.

The exhibition ranges from intimate, personal expressions of faith to vibrant colourful festivals and religious celebrations.

The images were taken on location across Asia, including Tibet, China, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma.

Features of the exhibition include scenes from the colourful Tibetan Great Prayer Festival and a view of the Buddhist traditions of Brisbane, including A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monastic, photographed at Brisbane's Chung Tian Temple.

Name Buddhism Through the Lens
The Arts
Location Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Address Corner Melbourne and Grey streets, South Bank
Date Until May 31
Tickets Free

Buddha Bar Nature Trailer


Monday, May 19, 2008

The Buddhist concept of Rebirth

Regarding the Question of Survival after death human thinking has in general followed one of two philosophical currants. Annihilationism and externalism (In Buddhism Uccheda - Vada and sassata-vada respectively)

The first holds that after death or desolition of the physical body the personality ceases to exist: It is equivalent to Materialism. The second maintains that the individual personality persists after death in a recognisable form, as an entity variously named the ‘soul’ ‘spirit’ or ‘self’ this belief in some form or another is the basis of all theistic religion.

Ancient Egyptian belief that it continued to inhabit the Mummified body Christian belief in a resurrection of the body - or alternatively the spiritualistic idea that it continued its conscious existence on a spiritual plane.

In fall of them commen factor is the belief in immortality of the individual his preservation of the same identity throughout all eternity. Vedantic Hinduism offers a modification of this theory in the doctrine of a final absorption of the individual Atman in the Brahman. (The vedantic Atman). Buddhism rejects both of these opposing views. The first was stigmatized by the Buddha as being erroneous and harmful.

If there were no continuity of like in any shape after death there would be no moral law of kamma and vipaka (actions and results) operating in the universe. All life would be meaningless and there would certainly be no objet in practising self restraint or endeavouring to free oneself of the craving which brings suffering in its train.

The Buddhas entire doctrine of Nibbana the path to it and the reason for following that path would be redundant if death were followed by complete extinction. Rebirth in Buddhist perspective is very important for us to understand.

In Buddhism the sentiment being is a psycho-physical complex made up of five aggregates: Material form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.

These constitute the total personality, or Nama-rupa (literally nama-and form).

The division of Material and psychical corresponds in a sense to the Western Concept of flesh and the spirit, but in Buddhism if does a dichotomy: the four immaterial aggregates depend upon and are conditioned by the existence of a body and the nature, of their functioning is determined by the sensory apparatus of that body.

Likewise, in the process of its arising and formation of the body is conditioned by the mind. The two aspects of personality are therefore interrelated and intedependent. How this comes about can be understood by viewing their relationship in terms of a cyclic process: it cannot be said that mind precedes body, or that body precedes mind. Let me describe the nature and functioning what Buddha disclose.

Material form (Rupa)

This is simply physical body equipped with sensory organs appropriate to it comes into being through the genetic process. Its nature quality of its sensory apparatus being determined by the Kamma of a being who has lived previously.

Sensation (vedana)

This is the feeling that arises through contact between the organs of sense and objects which produce sensory stimulation, the fields of sense perception are six visuale auditory olfactory gustatory facticle and Mental mind is included as one of the senses - for two reasons:

It depends upon a physical organ (the base of consciousness) and it correlates and organizes all the information received thorough the other senses while at the same time having a sensory activity of its own.

Perception, (Sanna)

The conscious awareness of sensation, this is made a distinct aggregate because quality of perception varies with different organisms and even between individuals of the same organic composition: ie what is perceived as pleasant by one may be unpleasant to another, these distinctions depend upon the predictions or aversions produced by the past kamma.

Mental Formation (Sankaahara)

This is the most difficult of the terms to define in brief. It includes memory habit formations set up in the past and most important of all the capacity for volition.

In a sense equivalent to ‘character’ although the Mental formations as the term implies are largely conditioned by the nature of past activities they are yet capable of producing willed action within a more or less limited field of choice, power to act according to decision among the Mental Formations. This production of kamma with its good or bad results (vipaka) is the most decisive feature of personality.

Consciousness (vinnana)

The Stream of conscious existence fed and supported by the other aggregates consciousness is not an entity: if consists of an endless series of point moments of awareness which arise and pass away with inconceivable rapidity.

As each point moment passes away it is followed immediately by its Successor. It is this way that the world line of identity maintained.

In Buddhism then, personality is seen as a series of events, it is a process in time put it more simply, man of seventy may remember his boyhood and enough of what has happened to him in the time between to be able to say he is the same person as the boy he remembers, having been. But he is the same person only in a conventional sense.

Actually there is no single time of his psycho-physical complex that is the same as it was when he was a boy. What actually exists it can only be said the man of seventy belongs to the same line of casual continuity as did the boy that he remembers having been he is the end product of an infinite series of connecting states of being or rather of coming to-be which make up his individual world line.

The pali word used in Buddhism to denote the process simply means arising in Pali (Uppado) there is nothing but a continuous arising way of cause and this arising by way of cause denotes not only the arising of a new mind body complex at birth as the result of kamma of one that has existed before it also stands for the arising of the point moment of consciousness as they succeed one another in the causal continue of one lifetime.

Each point moment of consciousness is a little birth and little death it continues all the time. It is for this reason that Buddhism defines all existence as Annicca, dukkha, Anatta, imperment subjecting to suffering and void of self.

The life stream may be likened to a current of electricity for its flow in the generation of unites of energy from moment to moment the sustaining factor in this continual. generation of psychic energy is desire or craving (Tanha) clinging to the elements of existence (upadana) this is the process Gauthama Sammasambuddha discovered 2,600 years ago at Buddha-Gaya inherent in all human life, explain to the world as a peerless teacher of Gods and men.

Today signifies birth, enlightenment and parinirwana of Gauthama Buddha though 2552 years have gone by He is the only guide who can take us from jungle of ignorance to everlasting peace of mind, His doctrine is “Ehipakkshiko” come and see it for yourself.

By Daily News

I read THE SECRET a year ago and my life has steadily improved since then.

The SecretJust stopping in to say hello. I found Good Karma last year shortly after I finished reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, but there wasn't much action here back then, and way leads onto way...

I want to share my remedy: If life is knocking you about, try reading The Secret or watching the movie.

I can attest to the radical difference in a person's life that can follow applying the wisdom found within the book and movie. I'm almost ashamed to talk about how much better my life was after a year's time.

My heart goes out to everyone who is living in despair. I remember when every day was an effort that felt futile. I knew life was out to get me, and it was too late to expect any more than I currently had in the world. I could understand that my situation was the result of decisions I made, opportunities I didn't pursue perhaps, but I did not see how I could turn everything around.

A year ago I was on dial-up. I still worked retail. We hadn't had cable television in our home in nearly three years. I was driving on a license that had been revoked back in 2002. I was crushed under the weigh of debts I thought I would never be able to face. And then everything hit the fan again March 2007. Just my 19th nervous breakdown I suppose. I didn't have enough to pay the rent on time, we ran out of heating oil, and the car needed to go to the shop. It was impossible to trace my problems back to a specific date or event by then. Life had been horrible for ten years, and I felt unequal to the task of working so hard to get nowhere, and completely uninterested in facing up to any more drama.

My son had seen the The Secret at school, and he assured me I just had to see the movie to understand how to make it all better. He was confident all I needed was to see the movie, I finally promised I would if he would just stop talking about it. Once the rent was paid and other crises were averted/funded and there was some money for a frivolous pursuit I went to the bookstore. I bought the book instead of the movie because I am more a reader than a watcher. I read The Secret overnight, and I have never again been as stressed out about life. Every time I feel myself begin to get heated I apply the recommended techniques and things go my way, or at least go better than they would have.

Changes in the first year include: Verizon installed internet in June, and Comcast upgraded us to high speed and cable in December. I started my fantastic job in July, took care of my license in October. And just last week I settled an old debt in court. For me, these are huge victories. Though I guess that last one is more than a year from when I read the book. But it's part of the whole trend of my being able to pay my way and settle old claims.

Unexpected checks in the mail, I remember how I scoffed at that. But I downloaded a short Secret video about money from the website and I watched it all the time and imagined myself bathed in wealth. In July I landed a job with a company I had been trying three years to get into. And this job turned out to be a work from home situation. It's a real job, 40 hrs/wk, with benefits. But I do all my work on a computer in my bedroom. I accepted the job thinking I would earn about 25% more than I had at my old job. After my first complete month on the job (August) I received notice that I would be receiving a bonus check that was nearly equal to a week's pay. The following month I earned a bonus closer to two week's pay. I had been promised bonuses, but I'd had no idea they would be so lucrative. This was like unexpected checks in the mail for me. Definitely unexpected compensation for the job I accepted.

And then, the last week of February this year, my boss offered me a promotion. And in a year's time I was making twice as much money as I was when I read The Secret.

I believe in the Secret and the application of its principles. I think positively. I choose to believe that everything in the universe is working for my benefit. I write down my goals and dreams and I review them to keep them fresh in my mind. I express and experience gratitude as often as I think of it, and try to appreciate more and more each day.

I believe that when I went through life thinking that everything was against me, everything WAS against me. And once I started thinking everything happened to my benefit, even when it did not appear to be so, suddenly everything started going better than I had known how to expect.

But I must admit I'm surprised I reap all these benefits because I don't practice the Secret as often as I could. Too many of my to do lists go undone. I don't remember to visualize every day. I average 5 journal entries a month. And yet somehow it's still enough to work to my benefit and I am now making investments and paying off old debts. And finance is only one area of my life that has improved.

It's almost insane how much better my life gets every month. I'm working on launching an online business. I go to Toastmasters meetings and take night courses to invest in my education. And it doesn't feel as hard as I thought it might. I have energy and inspiration to do more than I did when I worked so hard and expected so little in return. Now my efforts reward my expectations.

Oh well, it's hard to know when sharing one's joy becomes boastful and arrogant. If you read this far and you really want to know what could make your life better, and you haven't already read or seen The Secret, please try it. For your sake.

By maragold

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Truth and Spirituality

Last night’s community group discussion revolved around two related issues - truth and spirituality. We first viewed this video regarding Oprah Winfrey’s web seminar class (what some have called a “church”). Our discussion led us to understand that among the many flaws of Eckhart Tolle (Oprah’s guest and teacher of the seminar) and Oprah were the foundational issues of truth and spirituality.

From that discussion we moved on to a discussion of a contrasting model of biblical spirituality portrayed in Total Church, by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. It is contrasting because it is rooted in the gospel word and mission, and because it is concerned with the context of Christian community rather than an individual experience. As I said I would last night, I am here providing an overview of the entire chapter to help provide some context. Here are the pertinent excerpts from the book and more questions to discuss…

Under the heading of “Spirituality and the gospel word,” the authors argue that “biblical spirituality is a spirituality of the word” (138). The contrast that’s drawn is to a spirituality that is based on word-less meditation, silence, solitude, etc. In this context they point out that (139-140)

In the mystical and contemplative traditions the goal of spirituality is union with Christ. Union with Christ is attained through a pattern of spiritual disciplines or a series of spiritual stages. The imagery of a ladder is often used. Gospel spirituality is the exact opposite. Union with Christ is not the goal of spirituality; it is the foundation of spirituality. It is not attained through disciplines or stages; it is given through childlike faith.
I should confess that I was once heavily drawn to the kind of spirituality represented by contemplation, silence, and solitude. I still am. But why is this? I believe it is because it represents a spirituality of achievement. It is spirituality for the elite. Biblical spirituality in contrast is a spirituality of grace. Its dominant image is that of a child petitioning its father.

The next heading is “Spirituality and the gospel mission” (140-144). In this section Chester and Timmis contend that biblical spirituality requires passionate engagment and passionate prayer. One quote that gives a flavor of the basic point regarding passionate engagement is this (141):

You do not find Jesus in perpetual retreat, but in the world. Biblical spirituality turns out to be a spirituality of mission.

And in speaking of passionate prayer (143):

People are often encouraged to spend time in silence and stillness before God. When most Christians I talk to try this, they end up thinking about what they watched on television the night before or compiling lists of things they need to do. As a result, they are made to feel “unspiritual”.

In contrast to this (143),

If we are engaged with the world around us, then we will care about that world. We will be passionate about people’s needs, our holiness and God’s glory. We will not be still in prayer. We will cry out for mercy with a holy violence. If we are silent, it will be because in our distress, words have failed us. This is the spirituality of the Psalms - a spirituality in which all our emotions are engaged.

The final section of the chapter is “Spirituality and the gospel community” (144-147). The basic premise of this section is that authentic spirituality must be lived out in community, it is not an individual (the authors draw a distinction between “personal” and “individual”) matter, but a community matter. They articulate a description of the Christian life that is personal (God relates to me personally), but also communal (I am a person of God because there is a people of God). They provide a good description of two stories that can be told about the Bible, which I will not reprint here in fairness to the fair use doctrine of copyright law (this is on pages 144-145). One story is that of individual salvation, the other is that of God redeeming a people and creating a new humanity. Both stories are true, but the first story is incomplete without the second. The authors then draw out three implications - we prioritize prayer with others (over prayer alone); we must not separate our relationship with God from our relationship with others; and we need to exhort and encourage each other daily (145-146). The idea that was most provocative to our group last night was the first implication, so here is the full paragraph for you to consider:

First, it means we should prioritize prayer with others over prayer alone. It is when two agree that Christ promises to answer prayer and when two or more are gathered that Christ promises to be with us (Matthew 18:19-20). Not only does this reflect the communal nature of our relationship with God, but experience suggests that for most people it is easier. On my own my thoughts are soon distracted. Praying with other people somehow seems to sustain my concentration. I meet each weekday morning at 8:30 am, to pray briefly with another Christian. Other people I know read the Bible and pray in the car as they commute together to work. We also encourage people to pray together in the midst of ordinary life. When you are talking about a problem, turn that conversation into prayer. When you are celebrating a success, turn that conversation into praise. I still pray alone for two reasons. First, I need to pray more often than just the times when I am with other Christians. Second, I still fear other people’s opinion too much freely to disclose my heart before them in prayer. It should not be like this, but it is. And so there are times when I need to be more honest with God than I can manage to be in the presence of other people. But I do not rate time alone in prayer over time together in prayer.

So, here we have two competing views of spirituality - Oprah and Eckhart Tolle vs. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Questions for discussion (remember that Scripture should guide our answers):

1. Do Chester and Timmis accurately portray biblical spirituality? If it is a mixed bag, what do they get right and what do they not?

2. What do you think about prioritizing prayer with others over prayer alone?

3. Is there anything you need to change about your conception of spirituality after considering these things?

By Derrick

St Paul's art project to challenge modern Britain on spirituality

Public artist Martin Firrell is to challenge modern Britain with an innovative art project at one of London’s most famous landmarks.

Firrell has unveiled a new art project involving St Paul’s Cathedral which aims to challenge modern Britain on issues of spirituality.

Commissioned by the Cathedral, ‘The Question Mark Inside’ intends to cultivate debate on the issue of spirituality in Britain’s multi-faith society by asking ‘What does St Paul’s mean to you?’

The public are being invited to contribute their thoughts, experiences and meditations on the St Paul’s website www.stpauls.co.uk, which will serve as inspiration for the creation of a series of text projections to light up the London skyline in November 2008.

The Cathedral building will take on a new life, re-coloured midnight blue and lead the viewer into conversation through Firrell’s characteristically provocative statements.

Firrell said, "I want to take the public on a journey. You begin by adding your voice to the project via the website, then in November you’ll see a series of single words lighting up the Dome.

"You draw closer, feeling a sense of connection and ownership of the statements projected onto this fascinating landmark.

"Then you are drawn into the building, to the spiritual heart of the Cathedral, where you’ll read the conclusion of the piece on the famous Whispering Gallery surrounded by the breath-taking beauty of the Cathedral."

The installation will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the completion of the Cathedral and will serve to remind Londoners and visitors to the city, of the beauty and importance of St Paul’s by bringing it closer to their hearts.

By Christiantoday.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

…who be loved!

A long time ago, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law.In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all.
Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of her mother-in-law’s habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly.

Days passed days, and weeks passed weeks. Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting. But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese
tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing the poor husband great distress. Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it.

Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all.
Mr. Huang thought for awhile, and finally said, Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you
must listen to me and obey what I tell you. Li-Li said, “Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do.”

Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some pork or chicken and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.” Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her

Weeks went by, and months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother. After six months had passed, the whole household had changed. Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument in six months with her mother-in-law, who now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with. The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter. Li-Li’s husband was very happy to see what was happening.

One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again. She said, “Dear Mr. Huang,
please help me to keep the poison from killing my mother-in-law! She’s changed into such a nice
woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave
her.” Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her.”

MORAL: Friends, have you ever realized that how you treat others is exactly how they will treat you? THE GOLDEN RULE: The person who loves others will also be loved

From: A Friend for You

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Keeping Your Spirits Up

Research already shows religion and spirituality are linked to positive physical and mental health, and now some doctors are asking how such beliefs factor into coping mechanisms used to deal with chronic disabilities.

Many patients become more spiritual when faced with death due to an illness. But does religion make a difference when an illness isn't terminal, but instead is something a person will have to deal with the rest of his life such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and arthritis?

To date, religion hasn't really been discussed in rehabilitation settings and is rarely investigated. But a team at MU is looking at how the body and brain respond if spirituality is factored into an injured patient's new life.

"We're not trying to say there's a god part of the brain or anything like that," said Brick Johnstone, a professor of Health Psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. "But we're saying certain parts of the brain are active or inactive when different people from different religious backgrounds report feeling closest to God or the universe."

More results show religion helps many with disabilities adjust to their permanent impairments and gives new meaning to their lives.

"Even if you try to say we're not going to have spirituality in medicine, good luck. It comes out, either in subtle ways or more obvious ways," said Dr. Clay Anderson, an oncologist.

And what type of church, synagogue or temple a person attends makes no difference. Johnstone's work looked at brain scans of Buddist monks as well as Franciscan nuns, both groups showed identical brain activity when feeling connected to their respective God. So the therapeutic value seems to lie with a connection with a higher power.

"Have you looked at Catholics? Have you looked at this branch of Catholicism? What about Hindus? What about Conservative Jews? And Orthodox Jews?" Johnstone said. "When they report transcendence experiences, they have a sense of unity with the universe. I don't have a sense of self, I'm overcome with awe. So it's leading us to see different brain parts are linked to different spiritual experiences."

Patients who were injured as the result of the actions of others may be better able to work toward recovery if they can use their religious beliefs to work through emotions surrounding the cause of the disability.

"People who are more likely to forgive have better health. And once again it fits with psycho-neuro emunicological models," Johnstone said.

Another interesting aspects of health and spirituality is those who have a community or congregation support system have better mental health, while those who report feeling a stronger spiritual connection have better physical health.

And 90 percent of the population say religion is important to them and more than half of doctors believe religion and spirituality have a significant influence on patients' health. Still few practical suggestions exist for how to mix the two.

Johnstone said health care providers should encourage religious practices such as yoga, reading of religious texts, meditation or laying on of hands. Meanwhile, according to him, health and medical students should be taught about various religious beliefs and how they might be used to the patients advantage in a rehabilitative settin

Reported by: Angie Bailey
Posted by: Megan Granger

Friday, May 09, 2008

McCain's "Spiritual Guide" Wants America to Destroy Islam

You may have heard of Rev. John Hagee, the McCain supporter who said God created Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for its homosexual "sins." Well now meet Rev. Rod Parsley, the televangelist megachurch pastor from Ohio who hates Islam. According to David Corn of Mother Jones, Parsley has called on Christians to wage war against Islam, which he considers to be a "false religion." In the past, Parsley has also railed against the separation of church and state, homosexuals, and abortion rights, comparing Planned Parenthood to Nazis.

John McCain actively sought and received Parsley's endorsement in the presidential race. McCain has called Parsley "a spiritual guide," and he hasn't said whether he shares Parsley's vicious anti-Islam views. That's because the mainstream media refuses to ask. And so, we've taken matters into our own hands, joining Mother Jones to present the truth about McCain's pastor.

Since the media won't question McCain about his deeply bigoted pastor, it's up to you to call attention to this issue. Make McCain's pastor problem a major story by forwarding this video to your family, friends, and colleagues.

We can't let McCain get away with aligning himself with a religious leader who's called for an all-out war on Islam, someone who draws no distinctions between Muslims and violent Islamic extremists. Now is the crucial time to act.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Speaker Recommends Spiritual Connections For Elderly

Regina Harris, senior resources coordinator, Catholic Charities of Atlanta, opens the second annual Spirituality In Aging Partnership Series at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta, April 22. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

ATLANTA—A person’s faith and religious life may change as he or she enters into old age, but that doesn’t diminish the need for spiritual connections to nourish mental health.

Finding out how to spark those connections in elderly populations was the topic of the second annual Spirituality in Aging Partnership series, a half-day conference sponsored by Catholic Charities Atlanta.

With keynote speaker Nancy Kriseman, who is a licensed clinical social worker in gerontology and author of "The Caring Spirit," more than 100 people—comprised of pastoral care staff, personal caregivers and health ministry nurses—were given advice on how to connect to their clients in a more holistic and spiritual way. The gathering took place at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in midtown Atlanta.

For the event Catholic Charities Atlanta partnered with The Center for Positive Aging, the Georgia Institute on Aging and the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Horace Cutter, a chaplain at Countryside Hospice, Newnan, bows his head during the opening prayer. (Photos by Michael Alexander)

Ministering to the elderly population is "an extension of the church’s pro-life ministry," said Joseph Krygiel, CEO of Catholic Charities Atlanta and the one who introduced Kriseman to the gathering. Regina Harris, Catholic Charities senior resources coordinator, also attended the event.

Kriseman asked audience members about their own definitions of spirituality and spoke about her experiences with her aging parents, while also encouraging the audience to share their experiences. Her mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and died recently; her father had pulmonary lung disease and dementia and passed away several years ago.

"A lot of times we think if an older person was not a spiritual or religious person, they don’t need spiritual care," Kriseman said. "But the majority of people in the world are spiritual in some way.

"For caregivers it is important to ask the question," she said. For example, "How do you know the spiritual state of the person who has dementia? If you don’t know, ask their family members, ‘how has their faith carried them through life?’"

With over two decades of consulting experience in program development and training in assisted living, nursing home, hospice, hospital and home care agency environments, Nancy L. Kriseman serves as the keynote speaker for the event.

Even if the person did not have a strong faith foundation or did not demonstrate that faith to the outside world, spiritual connections can be made through music, like singing a familiar hymn or song, in ritual or prayers, or in comforting scents, like baking bread or cookies, she said. "It can mean asking ‘what does faith mean to you,’ or ‘what does grace mean to you,’" she said. It’s also important that you encourage a spiritual connection by asking questions about pictures of people and things that matter to them, she added. "We need to help our elders find their jingle," she said.

Connecting with an elder’s spiritual side to "find that jingle" doesn’t have to be reserved for pastors, she said, although she acknowledged circumstances when pastoral intervention was needed.

"The work of the spirit is not just for pastoral folks," Kriseman said. For caregivers—including those taking care of parents—it’s important to refresh their own spiritual life and not become "dispirited," especially in the knowledge of an incurable condition, like Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

"People do need the space to grieve every time (their loved one) changes," she said. "But if you’re caring for a parent, it’s important to remember this is a role change, not a role reversal—your mother will always be your mother."

(L-r) Pauline Pezzino, pastoral intern at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, Deacon Jerry Korte of Sacred Heart Church, Hartwell, and Glen Lillquist of St. James the Apostle Church, McDonough, listen to the keynote address during the morning session.

Kriseman also encouraged those in attendance to give permission to embrace their own spirituality, even as they care for someone who is not their relative. "Very rarely do caregivers get to talk about their own spiritual care," she said.

"It’s a blessing to work with older people—you’re helping them finish well," she said.

Patti Miller, coordinator of family faith formation at St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn, was listening to Kriseman’s words carefully. Miller came to the conference not only to learn more about spirituality and aging to pass on to her congregation, but also because she has three family members who are elderly.

"This is at the forefront for me," she said. She came with fellow parishioner Sherry Johnson, who has worked with adult faith formation and RCIA at their church and has been a trauma care nurse for years. "This (spiritual side of care) was not always at the forefront, but it’s becoming more a part of nursing," Johnson said.

As their parish ages, said Miller, "a lot of families are asking these same questions (that Kriseman brought up.) We wanted to find out what’s new out there from a Christian and Catholic perspective."

Said Krygiel of Catholic Charities, " It’s our responsibility to take care of our senior population." He cited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 1999 statement, "The Blessings of Age."

All parishes and churches are called to respond to this," he said. "We cannot sit idle."

Approximately 100 participants were on hand for the the second annual Spirituality In Aging Partnership Series at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta.

By Rebecca Rakoczy

Children See Children Do

Control your behavior and make you influence positive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

21st Century Spirituality

Sister Ruth Ann Myers, OSF, reflects on the topic of spirituality from her broad background in theology, psychology and spiritual direction.

What is happening in the 21st Century Spirituality? Significant, perhaps, is the enormous interest in spirituality that is emerging today. Some writers are calling it “The Spiritual Revolution”. New, too, is that the interest is coming from a broad spectrum of people, not just religious groups. Also, the “revolution” is rising from below, not from above.

William Johnson, the Jesuit theologian, says that within the last thirty years, spirituality has become democratized. Holiness is no longer viewed as an ideal state attainable for only the elite; instead, it is within the reach of the ordinary person.

This interest may not be surprising in the light of the rapid changes taking place in the 20th and 21st, changes far exceeding preceding centuries. These changes are making demands on everyone, demands that stretch us beyond the human and push us into the spiritual.

We understand ourselves through the world around us, so as the world changes, we, too, change. We know ourselves through the culture and the scientific developments in our particular time in history. This understanding of ourselves influences how we perceive Christ. Christ is not out there someplace, detached from place and time. Instead, he is within our personal and communal experiences in the era in which we are living. (To be continued…)

By Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Changing the world through faith and film

Hollywood may seem like a dark, far-away land to many traditional churchgoers. Entertainment headlines celebrate celebrities who are comfortable with drinking, drugs, sex and pregnancy outside of marriage. Many movies and television shows are so violent or racy that many Christians avoid them.

There is light in the dark world of film and television.

Christian actors, scriptwriters and filmmakers gathered April 14-18 for the inaugural Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. Aspiring artists and writers sat under the leadership and teaching of entertainment veterans to learn how to combine faith and films.

Conference speaker Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide® and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission in Hollywood, knows many Christians who have made it in the film industry, and many who have not.

“A tremendous number of people crash and burn in Hollywood because they never learned their craft,” said Baehr. “What destroys people in Hollywood more than anything is pride. If we want to succeed, we must humble ourselves, listen to criticism, and know our craft.”

Baehr encouraged Christians to take back the film industry and use the medium to communicate Christ and faith to the lost world.

“Ninety percent of children ages 12-24 are abandoning traditional values,” he said. “We are losing the next generation. We aren’t using the media well.”

Many Christian scriptwriters avoid controversial topics and may provide surface answers for issues their characters face. Professional filmmakers encouraged up-and-coming artists to keep Christ real in the movies they produce.

“Christians are dysfunctional,” said Ken Wales, a producer of Amazing Grace, a movie based on the life of William Wilberforce. “We are just like everybody else with conflict, but hopefully the resolution is different. As you tell your story, be real, be honest.”

Author and speaker Steven James writes suspense novels and joked about how Christians can be overly sensitive to uncomfortable story lines.

“If the Old Testament was turned into a novel, most Christian bookstores wouldn’t carry it. If it was turned into a film, most Christians would ban it.”

Actor and director Michael Albanese shared about his personal struggle to keep things real while living in grace as a Christian in the film industry.

“I’ve been on the frontlines of the entertainment industry for a long time. As a Christian and an artist, we have freedom we don’t take advantage of because we are trying to be ‘good Christians’ in a dark industry,” he said.

VeggieTales founder Phil Vischer learned the hard way that a relationship with God is more important than work for the Lord. A believer since childhood, Vischer did not fully understand what it meant to walk with the Lord until his company Big Idea went under in 2003.

“Young people think they will change the world by making films,” said Vischer. “If they would just walk with God, the world would change because the world doesn’t learn about God by watching Christian movies. The world learns about God by watching Christians.”

Vischer was kicked out of Bible college for missing chapel, something he has in common with another film producer, Kenny Sailors. Sailors and his brother Kyle have produced videos, movies and television shows in Los Angeles for more than nine years. Two guys from Texas, part of their work has been producing rap videos for noted artists such as Master P.

“Some Christians from our hometown have criticized us for being in L.A. and working with rappers,” said Sailors. “People always quote John 3:16, but they forget verse 17. We don’t condemn those in Hollywood. They know what they are doing is wrong. We aren’t there to change them. We are there to be Christ in the middle of all of that.”

Growing up in a conservative Christian home, Sailors did not see his first movie until the 10th grade when he snuck out to see Home Alone with a friend. Since then, God has instilled a passion in Sailors for producing films and videos. He said he sees his time in Los Angeles as an opportunity to take Christ to people who need it the most.

Sailors said he responds to his critics from within the church by saying, “These people are definitely not going to show up at your church. How are you going to reach these guys? How are you going to influence those who influence?’”

Many Christians become filmmakers with the hope of making a difference for Christ. In addition to feeling a call to spread the Gospel, script consultant Linda Seger encouraged artists to pursue excellence in their work.

“Christian filmmakers come with great intentions, but those aren’t enough,” she said. “Learn the craft, learn who you are, and learn what you can contribute.”

Dr. Lorene Wales, a film production veteran and chair of the cinema-television department at Regent University, challenged Christian moviemakers to persevere while striving to make a difference in the culture through films.

“Media is extremely powerful in our society,” she said. “Cinema has become so cynical. We are called to be salt and light in a postmodern world. How do we do that?

“In this cynical world, don’t give up hope. Don’t give into cynicism,” she said. “We need to say to God, ‘We will continue in the faith, be steadfast and grounded, and we will not move in the faith.’”

From Transworldnews.com

Doctor calls spirituality key to dying patient's quality of life

Medicine shrinks from caring for the spiritual needs of dying patients, even though spirituality is what most people yearn for most at the end of life, Franciscan Brother Daniel Sulmasy, a physician and philosopher, told an audience at the University of San Francisco April 28.

Doctors tend to ignore spiritual care or back away from it out of fear of inadequacy or invading patients' privacy, Brother Sulmasy said. Often they think they are helping, but underserve patients by turning spiritual questions into technical problems, he said.

For dying patients, the impulse is the reverse, he said: The terminal patient whose spiritual life is outstanding despite great physical distress reports having an outstanding quality of life.

The split is so large that a new model for medical education may be needed, he said. The model would integrate biological, social and spiritual issues in training doctors.

Doctors should be mindful that patients' spiritual questions are fundamental -- deeper than the biological, moral and ethical issues that concern clinicians and hospital ethics advisory boards, said Brother Sulmasy, who holds the Sisters of Charity chair in ethics at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York.

"Spirituality is incredibly important in the care of patients and it's shocking how we do wind up ignoring so much of it," he said.

Brother Sulmasy opened his talk with the case of a 54-year-old man, Mr. "W." Dying of cancer, the patient was Christian and believed in the possibility of miracles, but also accepted that God might not grant one in his case. In reviewing the transcripts of interviews with the patient's caregivers, Brother Sulmasy found that despite the patient's outspoken spirituality his spiritual care fell short.

Mr. W's belief in miracles caused some confusion for the medical team. As a result he was transferred to a nursing home rather than to hospice care, where he would have received better treatment for his pain.

"It was stunning the way this man was treated," Brother Sulmasy said. "There's nothing that says the patient who believes in miracles is ineligible for hospice, but somehow the hospice care team felt that belief was an issue."

A chaplain, though, had correctly diagnosed the underlying problem. As Brother Sulmasy paraphrased the chaplain: "When I look at a patient I look at the primary, core spiritual need. Is it a request for meaning to try to determine what their life meant? Or are they looking for validation of their life? Or trying to reconcile broken relationships?"

Meaning, value and relationship are the ingredients of spiritual health and become urgent in the last months of life as patients strive for dignity and hope despite losing their productivity and appearance, Brother Sulmasy said.

"People who were able to find meaning in their illness, meaning in their dying, are people who understand what it is to hope in a deep way," he said.

He stressed how important it is for dying patients to reconcile relationships with family, friends and God. "The brokenness of their bodies reminds patients in a deep way about the brokenness of their relationships," he said. "They're looking perhaps to express their own forgiveness of someone who had hurt them or to try to be reconciled to those they had hurt, to try to bring families and friends together in ways that arise as they're dying in a very salient way."

Brother Sulmasy displayed a detail from a Giotto painting of the dying St. Francis of Assisi. The detail shows a monk kissing the saint's stigmatic wounds. It is part of a scene in which St. Francis is dying at home surrounded by his friends and watched over by God. The scene embodies the three ingredients of spiritual health for the dying person -- meaning, value and relationship.

"You see a picture of somebody who is surrounded by people who love him, who are supremely present to him, who care about him ... as a whole person," he said. "They are praying with him, engaged with him as a whole person in this experience.

"I think this is death with dignity," Brother Sulmasy said. "If it was possible in the 14th century, why isn't it possible for us in the 21st?"

By Rick DelVecchio