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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Monday, September 29, 2008

Scientific Verification of Vedic Knowledge in Hinduism

Hinduism Most Tolerant of all Religions

Believing as I do in the influence of heredity, being born in a Hindu family, I have remained a Hindu. I should reject it, if I found it inconsistent with my moral sense or my spiritual growth. On examination I have found it to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me inasmuch as it gives the votary the largest scope for self expression.

Not being an exclusive religion, it enables the followers of that faith not merely to respect all the other religions, but it also enables them to admire and assimilate whatever may be good in the other faiths. Non-violence is common to all religions, but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism.

(I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism.) Hinduism believes in the oneness not of merely all human life but in the oneness of all that lives. Its worship of the cow is, in my opinion, its unique contribution to the evolution of humanitarianism. It is a practical application of the belief in the oneness and, therefore, sacredness, of all life.

The great belief in transmigration is a direct consequence of that belief. Finally the discovery of the law of Varnashrama is a magnificent result of the ceaseless search for truth. I call myself a Sanatani Hindu, because, (1) I believe in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and all that goes by the name of Hindu scriptures, and therefore in Avataras and rebirth; (2) I believe in the Varnashrama Dharma in a sense, in my opinion, strictly Vedic but not in its present popular and crude sense; (3) I believe in the protection of the cow in its much larger sense than the popular; (4) I do not disbelieve in idol-worship.

The reader will note that I have purposely refrained from using the word divine origin in reference to the Vedas or any other scriptures. For I do not believe in the exclusive divinity of the Vedas. I believe the Bible, the Koran, and the Zend Avesta to be as much divinely inspired as the Vedas. My belief in the Hindu scriptures does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired.

Nor do I claim to have any first-hand knowledge of these wonderful books. But I do claim to know and feel the truths of the essential teaching of the scriptures. I decline to be bound by any interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense.

I do not emphatically repudiate the claim (if they advance any such) of the present Shankaracharyas and Shastris to give a correct interpretation of the Hindu scriptures. On the contrary I believe that our present knowledge of these books is in a most chaotic state.

I believe implicitly in the Hindu aphorism, that no one truly knows the Shastras who has not attained perfection in Innocence (Ahimsa), Truth (Satya) and Self-control (Brahmacharya) and who has not renounced all acquisition or possession of wealth.

One need not despair of ever knowing the truth of one's religion, because the fundamentals of Hinduism, as of every great religion, are unchangeable and easily understood. Every Hindu believes in God and His oneness, in rebirth and salvation. . . I am a reformer through and through. But my zeal never takes me to the rejection of any of the essential things of Hinduism.

I have said I do not disbelieve in idol-worship. An idol does not excite any feeling of veneration in me. But I think that idol-worship is part of human nature. We hanker after symbolism. Why should one be more composed in a church than elsewhere? Images are an aid to worship.

No Hindu considers an image to be God. I do not consider idol-worship a sin. It is clear from the foregoing that Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets of the world.

It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but this absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character. Hinduism tells everyone to worship God according to his own faith of Dharma, and so it lives at peace with all the religions. (Excerpted from Young India)

Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, September 25, 2008

They Tried to Convert Me!

After the attacks on Mangalore's Christian churches (and others in Karnataka), the leaders have (finally) spoken, rightly condemning the Hindutva/Bajrang Dal organizations and the complicit administration, and praising the peace-loving nature and charitable activities and institutions of the Indian Christian community.

What this Ordinary and Undistinguished Homo Sapiens has to contribute is a slightly different perspective: on conversions, and on what makes a Hindu or Christian a real Hindu or Christian.

Truly, I have been the victim of conversion attempts on more than a few occasions by Christians, and once by the Hare Krishnas of Boston, run by Euro-Americans. Indeed, next to Osama Bin Laden and ex-Commie Vladimir Putin, I am considered the most convertible heathen in the world by a very close relative of mine, a Christian who I would rather not name (for his health as well as mine). Seriously, though I am a Christian by birth, a semi-agnostic by conviction (or more precisely, the lack of strong religious conviction), and a Mangalorean Catholic by community and identity-meaning, that's what the Hindus and Christians around me in India would call me, or what I would call myself, when probed about my social identity, whether or not I regularly go to Church (and I don't) - still, this close relative and his friends have tried to convert me to his brand of evangelical, American-influenced (Sarah Palin kind of American), rather intolerant Christianity. His group, or people like him, used to be called "Charismatics" a decade or two ago, but they have recently been "radicalized" or made more "fundamentalist" in their beliefs (but who comprise only a small section of the diverse body of Indian Christians).

So black and white is this close relative's view of the world that he once called me the devil (it's nice to have some distinction!), and at another time called my writings Satanic (though luckily, these writings were prosaic, not verses). Perhaps my novel "The Revised Kama Sutra" did anger some Christians (most of whom had not read the book), as indeed it gave other Christians, Hindus, and heathens like me joy, because I try in my writings to tell my truth as bravely and straight as I can, and believe that if we all speak our truths and never resort to violence, we would all be better off (Gautama Buddha, after all, was once a Hindu who decided to rebel against his religion and speak his truth).

Converting me, then, would be a major success in this close relative's book: he would earn a reserved Balcony Seat in Heaven for that. And yet, even if had been more diplomatic and erudite and glibly persuasive, he has about as much chance of converting me as he has of converting the Sultan of Swat.

Because, as they say, you can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink it. You can't "convert" people against their will, which is why the Spaniards and the Portuguese decimated most of the Indian natives of South America, realizing that any "conversion," when it occurred, was only cosmetic, a temporary yielding to superior firepower or the force of circumstances, which were then overwhelming. The moment the Spaniards turned their backs, most of the Indians went back to being who they really were: wild, free, and happy.

Now, even though Mangalore has been a historically tolerant town in which often, an autorickshaw or taxi would simultaneously sport Hindu, Christian and Muslim religious images or symbols, I don't doubt that some or most Hindus would be outraged by the doctrinaire assertions of some of the evangelically inclined Christian fringe. I myself am often outraged, flabbergasted, rendered speechless and sometimes burst out laughing. Sometimes, I try to counter with sane arguments about why they can't possibly know The Truth any better than I or anyone else can, and that merely because something is printed or contained in some book doesn't make it true (I should know: I write fiction sometimes, indeed most of the time). That many of these people don't have a broad-based education and haven't read widely doesn't help matters, but only makes them louder.

And then, finally, I realize that laughter is the wisest choice, the sanest and healthiest choice. Laughter, and shutting your ears - and after a while, if the noise doesn't stop, and you can't laugh anymore, moving to a place where you can have peace, sane conversation, nature, beauty, and more laughter.

For me, most arguments between adherents of two different fundamentalist religious groups are absurd -like two people arguing about whether the teacup and saucer orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Saturn is of a blue or a green color. Neither of them, of course, having personally seen the said teacup and saucer.

But I'll tell you why my close relative and most fundamentalist Christians have zero chance of converting me, the same chance as a fundamentalist Hindu or Muslim (whereas Buddhists, who don't have fundamentalists among their number, might stand a marginally better chance).

Because to me, religion is not what you say it is. It's what you do. It's who you are as a human being. For example, if you try to convert me to Christianity, whose essence is love, charity, and compassion, and if you have not a charitable or loving bone in your body, it is as if you have disproved your own arguments.

A few months back, I was in desperate financial circumstances, and even lacked money for some essential medical care. But none of the ultra-religious members of my family came to my rescue, especially not my close relative, who had only a few months earlier been throwing money at the members and "pastors" of his fundamentalist sect. It was partly by accident that I ran into a sane Christian, meaning one level-headed, compassionate, intelligent, accomplished, and fair-minded Christian, who came to my rescue, approaching another similar Christian of means.

That's comforting and inspiring, that a value such as Christian charity, which is responsible for running orphanages and hospitals for the poor, is sometimes also to be found in a few individual Christians--though a very small fraction of those who call themselves Christian. And if either of these two persons were to approach me and ask me to put up a statue of Jesus or Mary in my apartment, I would gladly do so, out of respect for them, for their true charitableness. And I know they wouldn't demand that I pray to this statue, because they know that true love and true charity are unconditional. They are enlightened Christians; whereas the ones who preach and spout a virulent form of religion without practicing its fundamental ethical teachings are unenlightened boors.

Just because someone says they belong to this or that religion, it doesn't necessarily mean they are - to me, the label is meaningless, except for giving me some understanding of their background. Often, the loudest Christians are the most un-Christian people on earth (George Bush, for example), and no religion seems much good to me unless it remarkably improves the character, charitableness, and benevolence of spirit of the persons following it.

Therefore, arguments or brazen attempts to convert are useless, are doomed to failure. Much better that you so impress me by your character and your inspiring thoughts and actions that I ask you what is it that you believe in that makes you such a fine human being. At that point, if I am hugely impressed, I may ask for more information, and if it seems to make sense to my life and to my personality, I may ask to join your religion, without your having made a single attempt to convert me.

But most of us, in our everyday lives-and I, very much so-lag way behind our highest ideals, and our religion will remain largely talk, and the repetition of the words, mantras, and doctrines we have been taught by parents and teachers. Religion is just the dress we wear, on Sundays or when visiting the temple. But so long as people stick to argument or better, to discussions with civilized rules, courtesy, and time limits, that's fine with me.

Violence has absolutely no place in such a discussion, however. Thus the Bajrang Dal or whoever attacked churches and terrorized innocent Christians defeated their own argument, proving by their irreligious, unholy behavior that they are not worthy of being members of any religion, that any worthwhile and true religion would immediately disown them and their actions.

No doubt ignorance and politics played a part in what happened: the ignorance of the mob, which could not distinguish between two groups of people so different in character, temperament, and disposition, it would be as if someone were unable to distinguish between a Mafia thug and the Catholic cardinal of New York. And the politics of the few who have a stake in stoking anger and violence. And yet, as Christianity, like Buddhism, is a religion of compassion, this mob, and even harmless but deluded evangelical zealots, deserve some compassion as victims in turn-victims of a kind of brainwashing that they were not adequately equipped to resist, partly because our lowest common denominator education, which is a kind of brainwashing in itself, doesn't provide us the tools to resist brainwashing.

In this century, conversion by physical force is highly improbable except in a theocratic and fascist state, and any other kind of conversion-meaning, as an active, transitive verb, one person changing the religion of another person--is a logical absurdity. In other words, it is ultimately the horse's decision whether or not to drink the water being offered, no matter what the inducements or the persuasive means used.

In earlier centuries, conversions were often achieved by force; and when absolute monarchs changed their religion, the subjects often followed, either out of respect for the monarch or out of some feeling of compulsion, real or imaginary. Buddhism gained its initial following from Hindu converts; later on, most Indian Buddhists "re-converted" to Hinduism, while Buddhism spread to vast areas of Asia. Today, at least a few million Westerners follow some form of Hinduism or the other, whether or not they deem it as conversion; rare is the guru who shuts his door to such "converts."

In present times, some people convert themselves for personal advantage or as a practical consideration. For example, a Dutch man told me he "officially" had converted to Islam so he could marry his Muslim Indonesian girl friend. It was required by Indonesian law, and though he, like most Europeans today, was an agnostic/atheist, he did it simply as a practical matter, presenting himself at a mosque one day, getting "converted", and never returning to the mosque again. Also, if a woman or a man decides to get converted to the spouse's religion to overcome objections to the marriage by in-laws, that is also a practical recourse often by people who don't really mean it. It is not true conversion, and yet, in the modern age, we need to respect everyone's freedom to be any religion they choose; there is nothing we can do about this, no more than we can ban someone from wearing blue shirts or ban someone from falling in love with the adherent of a different religion.

All of which suggests that were someone to choose to change their religion, in a country like India, in which no one today can physically force others to change their religion, the circumstances must be either ones of self-interest (and everyone has the democratic right to pursue that within legal limits), or they must be so extraordinarily spiritual and personal that we need to respect the individual's democratic right and freedom to follow any form of religious belief (or unbelief) that they choose.

A Hindu friend had an even more advanced idea. He said, "Who is anyone to tell me that Jesus is not mine, or that Buddha is not mine? I am heir to all that is good in human history. Nobody owns Jesus or Buddha. Also, why should my religious identity be so important? I have so many other identities, and it is more important to me that I am a writer, a teacher, and a good father, than that I am a Hindu." He further said, "If my God is so great, then how can I possibly make him greater by having one or a hundred more persons follow him? Is he so insecure that he needs one more human being to praise Him? Therefore, conversion is absurd." In other words, conversion is a non-issue for any enlightened person, because what someone else chooses to believe is entirely their decision. And the Dalai Lama regularly advises Westerners not to convert to Buddhism, telling them there is no need, that you can be a good human being in any religion.

This, to me, is enlightened thinking-sadly, the minority thinking.

So I say to my Hindu brothers: Don't you realize how oxymoronic the phrase 'Hindu fascists' sounds? You can only be a Hindu or a fascist, not both. The Hinduism I admire is the Hinduism of Namaste ("Greetings to the god in you!") and Tat twam asi (That thou art), not the Hinduism of khaki shorts and dandas which some of your misguided brethren seem to follow. Why not laugh at the subject of conversions, as I did, both during the Hare Krishna conversion attempt (when I was a poor student who wished to enjoy their delicious Indian vegetarian feasts, but not their feast of eardrum-splitting chanting) and that of the evangelical Christians? After all, religion is a personal affair, and to worry ourselves about which God others choose to pray to when we can barely manage our own lives: it is absurd and unnecessary. But educating your brothers, teaching them, with a broad-based education, how to think for themselves, rather than just equipping them to make money, and showing them the greatness of your religion through the example of your lives: that would be the noblest and most dignified and democratic way to stop self-conversions.

To my Christian brothers, I say (lacking any credentials whatsoever, yet knowing that wisdom can sometimes come from the mouths of fools): how about simply doing good for goodness' sake, expecting no reward or gratitude, respecting everyone simply because they are children of God by virtue of being human? It would be the best way to practice our religion. There would be no conflict. And if you can, at least some of you, why not learn to admire the good in other religions, perhaps even telling your children stories from the Hindu epics, and the best ideas from Hindu philosophy?

For if religious groups, including fundamentalist groups, continue to mistrust, hate, and war with each other as they are doing now, then future generations will probably abandon organized, formal religion altogether, as is happening in Europe, where a few centuries back wars and genocide were committed in the name of religion, and where, in France and England for example, Sunday church attendance hovers around the five percent mark.

Which, from the point of view of my agnostic friends (and I must not forget them), would probably be the best thing for peace on earth.

By Richard Crasta

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bhutan Exhibit Opens at Rubin Museum

NEW YORK—A selection of Bhutanese Buddhist art never before seen in the continental United States opened at the Rubin Museum of Art on west 17th St. on Friday, Sept. 19.

Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and the only country to measure Gross National Happiness. In 2006, Business Week ranked Bhutan the happiest country in Asia.

The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan is one of the most isolated countries on Earth, having been spared colonization, invasion, and war.

“This exhibition is therefore a rare opportunity to explore an entire ethos untouched by the modern world,” said Martin Brauen, Rubin’s chief curator.

The exhibit, The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, features hanging thangka tapestries and intricate statues of Buddhas, Boddhisattvas, and ferocious protector deities. Many pieces date back to the 16th century, when the Drugpa sect of Buddhism taught by Drugpa Kunleg became increasingly popular. The original founder of Buddhism, Buddha Shakyamuni, is not short of representation in the collection, either.

The collection was released by the Royal Government of Bhutan and prepared by the Honolulu Academy of the Arts, where it was on display before coming to New York. The exhibit will remain on view at the Rubin until January 5, 2009.

Monks blessed the objects in the new exhibition on Wed. Sept. 17 in a ritual chanting of scriptures followed by the pouring of water before the idols.

From Sept. 13 to 21, dancers wearing painted wooden masks with bulging eyes and a crown of skulls representing protector deities will perform chaam, a sacred ritual dance. The performances will take place in several public parks in the city.

Other events related to the exhibit include films, talks and crafts demonstrations. For full exhibition and activities schedule, please visit rmanyc.org/Bhutan.

By Christine Lin

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do You Believe in Magic?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a magic pill that could help boost sexual desire for those who struggle with its ebb and flow? I have written before about how never (or rarely) being in the mood for sex is one of the most common sexual problems that women of all ages can face at any point in their lives. Well, this may be hard to swallow, but there is no quick fix available for waning libido, even though pharmaceutical companies are hoping to eventually uncover a potential gold mine. Scientists all over the world are trying to discover that magic pill, so far without much success.

In my last column, I praised a new book, The Porn Trap, by Wendy and Larry Maltz, that can help some people get excessive porn use under control. This time, I will cover an equally valuable new book, The Return of Desire: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Sexual Passion, by Gina Ogden, Ph.D., whose previous books are The Heart and Soul of Sex and Women Who Love Sex.

Ogden writes: “…instead of viewing desire as a commodity, something that we’re in danger of losing or missing out on, I’d like us to agree up front that sexual desire is energy—a sustainable resource that’s available to all of us if we want it, even those of us who may not have it right now. Not just to lead us into steamier encounters, but to reconnect us with ourselves and our partners, and to discover new sources of pleasure and joy.”

The reader is encouraged to examine her own sexual responses from a broad perspective, one that includes not only physical aspects (such as how much she lubricates, whether she can reach orgasm, or enjoys genital touching and intercourse); but emotional (e.g. feeling passion, compassion, love, caring, empathy, safety, power, pleasure, intimacy, etc.); mental (e.g. decision making, memories, messages from childhood such as “Good girls don’t”); and spiritual ones as well.

You may wonder what spirituality has to do with sex. In the late 1990s, nearly 4,000 women ages 18 to 86 answered Ogden’s survey titled “Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality” (ISIS). Based on this survey, Ogden discovered that for many women (and men as well) sex sometimes includes a spiritual component that leads to sexual experiences that “radiate far beyond the bedroom to energize their whole lives.”

Don’t get me wrong. The book is in no way religious, and as far as Ogden is concerned, you are free to believe in any God (including the God of orgasms, I suppose), or none at all. She simply points out that sexual desire is complex, and that once a woman who struggles with low libido acknowledges the various aspects of it, she will be able to tap into a much larger part of herself when trying to rediscover her lost sexual passion than if she only focused on her physical responses.

Each person is different, of course. Ogden has the reader explore her own path to sexual desire, depending on what her life- and relationship-circumstances are. Each of us has the potential to gain clearer insight and greater understanding in what factors affect the libido. And sorry, there is just no quick fix for that. It takes time and effort to uncover. This book is a good resource to help you do just that.

Ogden also covers life events such as the time after giving birth, having your relationship threatened by an affair, wondering about your sexual orientation, and the after-effects of sexual abuse and trauma. All those events can cause people to lose their desire for sex, and mentally dealing with them is necessary in order to rediscover passion.

By Annette Owens

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Workplace Spirituality

What do Southwest Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, The Men’s Wearhouse, AES, Wetherrill Associates and Tom’s of Maine have in common? They’re among a growing number of organizations that have embraced workplace spirituality.

Workplace spirituality is not about organized religious practices. It is not about God or theology. Workplace spirituality recognizes that people have an inner life that nourishes and is nourished by meaningful work that takes place in the context of community. Organizations that promote a spiritual cultural recognize that people have both a mind and a spirit, seek to find meaning and purpose in their work, and desire to connect with other human beings and be part of a community.

Historical models of management and organizational behavior had no room for spirituality. The myth of rationality assumed that the well-run organization eliminated feelings. Similarly, concern about an employee’s inner life had no role in the perfectly rational model. But just as we’ve now come to realize that the study of emotions improve our understanding of organizational behavior, an awareness of spirituality can help you to better understand employee behavior in the twenty first century.

Of course, employees have always had an inner life. So why has the search for meaning and purposefulness in work surfaced now? There are a number of reasons.

The concept of workplace spirituality draws on our previous discussions of topics such as values, ethics, motivation, leadership, and work/life balance. As you’ll see, for instance, spiritual organizations are concerned with helping people develop and reach their full potential. Similarly organizations that are concerned with spirituality are more likely to directly address problems created by work/life conflicts.

What differentiates spiritual organizations from their non-spiritual counterparts? Although research on this question is only preliminary, our review identified five cultural characteristics that tend to be evident is spiritual organizations.

Strong Sense of Purpose:

Spiritual organizations build their cultures around a meaningful purpose. Although profits may be important, they are not the primary values of the organization. People want to be inspired by a purpose that they believe is important and worthwhile.

Focus on Individual Development: Spiritual organizations recognize the worth and value of people. They aren’t just providing jobs. They seek to create cultures in which employees can continually learn and grow.

Trust and Respect: Spiritual organizations are characterized by mutual trust, honesty and openness. Managers aren’t afraid to admit mistakes. The president of Wetherill Associates, a highly successful auto parts distribution firm, says: We don’t tell lies and everyone knows it. We are specific and honest about quality and suitability of the product for our customers’ needs even if we know they might not be able to detect any problem.

Humanistic Work Practices: These practices embraced by spiritual organizations include flexible work schedules group and organizations based rewards narrowing of pay and status differentials, guarantees of individual worker rights, employee empowerment and job security. Hewlett Packard, for instance, has handled temporary downturns through voluntary attrition and shortened work weeks (shared by all), and longer term declines through early retirement and buyouts.

Toleration of Employees Expression: The final characteristic that differentiates spirituality based organizations is that they don’t stifle employee emotions. They allow people to be themselves to express their moods and feelings without guilt or fear of reprimand Employees at Southwest Air, for instance are encouraged to express their sense of humor on the job, act spontaneously and to make their work fun.

Reason for the Growing Interest in Spirituality:
  1. As a counter balance to the pressures and stress of a turbulent pace of life. Contemporary lifestyles single parent families, geographic mobility the temporary nature of jobs, new technologies that create distance between people underscore the lack of community many people feel and increase the need for involvement and connection.
  2. Formalized religion has not worked for many people and they continue to look for anchors to replace lack of faith and to fill a growing feeling of emptiness.
  3. Job demands have made the workplace dominant in many people’s lives yet another continues to question the meaning of work.
  4. The desire to integrate personal life values with one’s professional life.
  5. An increasing number of people are finding that the pursuit of more materials acquisitions leaves them unfulfilled.
City Man

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Christianity Growing Fast in Mongolia

(09-17) 17:55 PDT Ulan Bator, Mongolia - Mitch Tillman is an unlikely savior. Six years ago, the Baptist missionary languished in an Alabama jail, facing a prison sentence on drug charges. Today he builds hospitals, feeds street children and saves souls in Mongolia.

For Christian missionaries like Tillman, Mongolia is the new El Dorado. Since communist rule ended in 1990, some 60,000 Mongolians have turned to Christianity, according to records kept by Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, other Protestant churches and Catholics.

"A lot of my friends were becoming Christian, so I decided to learn something about the faith," said L. Chimgee, 18, a student at Ulan Bator's Technical University. "I went on a weekend retreat to a Christian camp in the countryside. It was a lot of fun and I felt a real sense of community. So I joined the church."

Tillman, who was acquitted of cocaine possession in 2002, believes prayers secured his freedom. Once out of jail, the Chattanooga native sold his auto body business and moved to Mongolia where his father, a Baptist pastor, had established a mission.

"As Mongolia enters a new era of freedom and democracy, people are looking for something different," said Tillman, a 53-year-old father of six, whose family includes three adopted Mongolian children. "They are looking for hope and a better life for their children. I think that Christ will give them that."

Monks alarmed

But the campaign to convert Mongolians has set off alarm bells in the ancient hallways of Gandan Monastery, the nation's largest Buddhist complex with 800 monks. Senior monk Khunhur Byambajav says he is concerned that fewer Mongolians are coming to his monastery.

"It's a problem of money. (Christian) missionaries have money to build schools and educate young people. They entice them by various means," said Byambajav, referring to gifts offered by churches such as food, clothing and scholarships to study abroad. "We cannot financially compete, but we have to try, otherwise we won't have enough young people becoming Buddhist."

Tillman's Harbor Evangelism International, for example, operates two hospitals, an orphanage, a soup kitchen and an alcohol recovery program in a country where alcoholism is rampant even among some Buddhist monks, some observers say.

"Our Mongolian Buddhist monasteries are weak," said L. Odonchimed, a former member of parliament. "They get money from people but don't give much back. Missionaries give things away for free and help people - that is what a religious organization should do."

Unregistered groups

Byambajav says he is most concerned about unregistered Christian groups, which he says indoctrinate children, convince Buddhists to burn religious articles and even destroy stupas (a mound-like structure that symbolizes enlightenment). "There is no control over these groups and no one is paying attention to what they are doing."

In a nation that separates church and state like the United States, Byambajav has asked the government to make Buddhism the state religion. He argues that the nation needs a law giving monks state funds and allowing the teaching of Buddhism in public schools.

"We sent a letter to the government to change the law on religion, but foreign religious organizations are very strong and wealthy," said Byambajav. "They influence the decisions of politicians because they give them money. So it puts us at a disadvantage."

Back to Buddhism

Odonchimed, the former legislator, agrees that many Mongolians are attracted by the services offered by church groups. But he predicts they will be eventually ignored as the nation's economy develops.

"As time passes, people will have less need for these missionaries and they will be forgotten," he said. "Most people will turn back to Buddhism."

In the meantime, the Federation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, an Oregon-based nonprofit Buddhist organization, is using a Western approach to win converts. The group has opened schools in monasteries and at its center in Ulan Bator.

"Mongolian religion needs to adapt to modern times," said Ueli Minder, the Swiss head of the federation. "Young Mongolians have little knowledge of Buddhism because the monasteries don't teach the faith to laypeople. It's our goal to help people understand the roots of the culture and the religion."

Western methods

Byambajav says Gandan monastery is also using Western methods, including a radio program, and plans to open several private schools and launch a television station.

Minder, however, concedes that Buddhist monks are facing a daunting challenge when going up against Christian missionaries: proselytizing is an alien concept for most of them.

"It should not become a missionary religion, but we need to have a strategy to overcome the negative propaganda of the past and the propaganda of missionary work," said Minder. "The lamas (Tibetan/Mongolian monks) need to learn to defend their beliefs ... regain the people's confidence."

Christianity in Buddhist Mongolia

Until religion was banned in 1921 by a Communist regime, most Mongolians followed Tibetan Buddhism. New freedom following the collapse of communism in 1990 legalized Buddhism and reopened monasteries. But it also opened the gates to outside faiths.

Currently, 50 percent of Mongolians are Tibetan Buddhists, 6 percent are Shamanist and Christians and 4 percent are Muslims. About 40 percent say they practice no religion, according to CIA data.

The challenge to keep the Buddhist faithful from converting to Christianity is hampered by language. Monks chant in Tibetan, which most Mongolians do not understand. Christian sermons and bibles are given and written in Mongolian.

According to records kept by church groups operating in Mongolia, there are 60,000 Christians - a 20 percent increase over the past eight years. The government keeps no statistics on religious affiliation.

In the capital, Ulan Bator, where half the nation's Christians reside, according to a U.S. State Department report, churches are located in prominent neighborhoods, including a five-story Mormon tabernacle situated next to the city's most luxurious hotel. Residents can also watch Christian programs via Eagle TV, a satellite channel funded by American Protestants.

U.S.-style revivals are also common, including charismatic pastors giving fiery sermons to packed halls. These services include rock music, flashing neon lights and high-tech videos beamed across large screens. Clear plastic boxes overflow with donations and teens can sign up to participate in rural "Jesus Camps."

"It's a release from the status quo," said American Baptist minister Mitch Tillman. "For so many years they were under Buddhism and then they were oppressed by communism. They want something new and they find it in Jesus Christ."

Michael Kohn

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ecumenical Gospel Music Concert, Susan L. Taylor open CommUNITY Week Sept. 28-Oct. 2

CommUNITY Week is an excellent time to reflect on the important roles that art, culture, spirituality and learning have in our lives. It is a time for the University of St. Thomas and Twin Cities communities to share and exchange through formal and informal networks.

In its third year, CommUNITY Week has turned the spotlight on the vital contribution that culture and spirituality make in learning and in life. Music, faith, books, theater and dialogue about uncomfortable issues are a part of daily life and have a lasting impact. They inspire and challenge us and broaden our horizons. We respect the Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah religious traditions as we reflect and celebrate.

The third annual CommUNITY Week celebration will begin Sunday, Sept. 28, with an Ecumenical Gospel Music Celebration fundraiser in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. As a learning community rich in faith and heritage, it is important that we work toward uniting our community through a greater sense of shared spirituality. The Office of Institutional Diversity continues to support St. Thomas' strategic priorities of access, excellence and Catholic identity.

One goal of the OID is to improve and enhance campus climate through a number of intentional initiatives. One way to do this is to fortify our humanity in the name of God through gospel music. Music is a universal language that transcends social status, ethnic origin, gender, generation, faiths, culture and background.

The Ecumenical Gospel Music Celebration fundraiser is a diverse program that features gospel music performed by a mixture of Twin Cities musicians and choirs. Funds raised will benefit diversity and access initiatives in the Office of Institutional Diversity.

Award-winning artists performing in this celebration will include: Bruce A. Henry, Debbie Duncan, T. Mychael Rambo and Yolande Bruce. Henry will serve as guest director and Rambo as master of ceremonies.

The Hallel Praise Team Ministry from Holding Forth the Word of Life Ministries International and the Voices of Unity Choir from Pilgrim Baptist Church will join in this jubilant celebration from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Legendary editor emerita of Essence magazine, Susan L. Taylor, also will headline CommUNITY Week. Taylor has empowered the powerless and provided hope for "all God's children" through her famous "In the Spirit" columns. She is an accomplished author, editor, humanitarian and national spokeswoman for National Cares Mentoring Movement. .
Susan L. Taylor

Taylor will join our community for two major events: 1) "All About Love: Living Fearlessly in a Changing World," 7-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, in Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center (followed by a reception and book signing), and 2) "Diversity Dialogues: Lifting Voices in the Circle," 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, in Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Get details on these events in the CommUNITY Week schedule that follows this column.

I appreciate the forward thinking of co-chairs Michael Glirbas and Cynthia Fraction. In addition, we always are fortunate to have eager students, faculty and staff who contribute their time by serving on the Steering and Volunteer Committee. A special "thank you" to all these willing volunteers who publicly support our diversity initiatives. In addition, thank you Gayle Lamb and Food Service for providing special menus in various dining facilities throughout this week.

I personally invite students, faculty and staff members to attend as many events as possible. I encourage faculty to provide students with co-curricular learning opportunities by considering CommUNITY Week events for extra credit. On a college campus, diversity becomes intellectually, culturally and socially productive and central to the university's educational mission when it is a source of mutual enrichment to all members of the university community. In this way, education becomes a tool through which the fact of diversity is transformed to exciting and productive actions of diversity, creating a climate and environment so stimulating and attractive that the experience of difference becomes a source of excellence and an instrument of achievement.

A very special "thank you" is extended to all CommUNITY Week sponsors for their generosity and support. Each sponsor is recognized in the schedule of events below. Visit our Web site for additional details.

Here is the schedule of CommUNITY Week events:

Sunday, Sept. 28

* Ecumenical Gospel Music Celebration fundraiser, 3-5:30 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, honorary co-host Anchor Hilyard Lodge. Tickets will be on sale at the St. Thomas Box Office and Expeditions, lower level, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, and online Sept. 17 through Sept. 26. Tickets prices are $25 for general admission and $15 for students (with ID). Discounts are available for general admission groups (10 tickets for $225 and 20 tickets for $450). Tickets may be purchased concert day from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Box Office. VISA, Master Card, Discover and student eXpress cards will be accepted. Call the Box Office at (651) 962-6137 with questions.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, 15 September 2008

The official opening of the Palpung Kagyu Samten Choeling Tibetan Buddhist Institute was held at the weekend, the culmination of what members of the Gisborne Buddhist community have been working towards for years.

Open to the wider community, the ceremony was attended by Mayor Meng Foon and many of the dedicated practitioners of Buddhism who have contributed so much of their time and effort into opening the centre.

A series of puja (ceremonies) were led by the centre abbot, the Venerable Choje Lama Shedrup and resident lama, the Venerable Lama Lobsang.

Lama Shedrup said people from all religions and belief systems were welcome at the centre, as "we should all live together happy and harmoniously".

Tibetan Buddhism was based on unconditional love and compassion for every single life form on the planet, and recognition of the true power within.

"The power of enlightenment does not come from anyone else, but it comes on your own," he said.

After the ceremony proceedings, Meikle McNab paid tribute to the people who practiced the religion with "great sincerity and diligence" and those who had played such an important part in founding the new centre, particularly their major benefactors.

The Palpung Kagyu Samten Choeling Tibetan Buddhist Institute is now open to the community, with a programme of regular meditation and learning sessions.

Gisborne Herald

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Science And Spirituality Joining In The Search For God

CERN’s LHC (Large Hadron Collider) was launched today in a quest to look for God. Well they don’t exactly use those words to describe this monumental project, I do. This project began on paper over 20 years ago with construction starting in 1996. It was completed and launched successfully today. What does this have to do with new age spirituality you ask? This project is where science and spirituality will once again come back together as one.

CERN which is acronym for it’s French name of Conseil Europeen Pour Recherche Nuclear or European Organization For Nuclear Research. It began in 1954 consisting of physicists from 20 European countries but has since become a worldwide collaboration. It’s major focus of research is nuclear physics. One of many notable results of this collaboration has been the Internet which was designed by Tim Berners-Lee, a CERN scientist, who created it out of the need for information sharing between scientists.

In simplified terms the LHC is the a giant scientific experiment that is basically trying to recreate the conditions of the universe just after the big bang. They are sending these hadrons or particles in opposite directions to have them collide with each other. The resulting effect is where they hope to discover the answers to the origins and workings of the universe.

In the last 150 or so years the world has adopted science as the new trusted source for determining what’s real. Science works on the premise that if it can’t be seen and reproduced in a lab, than it’s not real. We have come to rely on science as the ultimate truth supplier. Science knows that there are unseen elements like magnetism, gravity and so called dark-energy where the effects can be measured, but not seen. They also know that most of the universe is made up of this unseen energy.

Science has known that there is some kind of invisible force field that holds everything together. It is called the “Higgs field” along with the “Higgs boson” named by Peter Higgs who formulated this explanation of the missing unseen item. It is also called the “God particle.”

They are also looking for hidden dimensions to help explain concepts like the weakness of gravity and do particles enter these hidden dimensions only to reappear. Sounds woo-woo to me.

Spirituality is based on the belief in things that are unseen. Truths that are taken on faith alone. In other words, blindly. Unscientifically proven to be real.

One of new age spirituality’s basic concepts is that everything in the universe is connected by an invisible web. Another is that there is more to our reality than the 3D world that we can see. That there are more dimensions that are layered on top. Dimensions, where there are forces at work that determine our experience in the physical world. That we can connect and interact with these unseen dimensions to alter the events of our lives. Sounds woo-woo huh? Have you read anything about the LHC or what’s happening in quantum physics lately?

Physicists have been talking about this kind of stuff for some time but has mostly been theory. The LHC is the best chance they have had so far to be able to see these unseen connectors and hidden dimensions. They have made some amazing “guesses” but have many gaps in the overall picture. A lot of physicists have been working their whole careers to have something like the LHC experiment that could either fill in those gaps or send them back to the drawing board.

I know that we are connected. I know that their are more dimensions than the ones we can see. Can I prove it? No. Do I need proof? No. I know that the glue that holds everything in the universe together is spirit or God or the universal energy called love. I know I can interact with the unseen dimensions to affect my physical world. My passion is that the world can see what I see. Know what I know. Feel what I feel. Will science give everyone the proof that we seem to need with this experiment?

Before there was science, there was only faith. We believed in the existence of the unseen without the need for repeatable proof and many still do. If you really listen to science and compare it to new age concepts there is a striking similarity. They are saying the same things but using different words.

I am cheering for the scientists at CERN. I am hoping that they find the answers that they seek. It is time to put science and spirituality together on the same page. It’s time for humanity to get on the same page. I am hoping this experiment will take the woo-woo of science and the woo-woo of new age spirituality and together it will form the final piece that is needed for the awakening that I so passionately desire for all of us.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spiritual symptoms - called sign of medical services use

So should your annual physical include a few questions about your spiritual side? Questions like: “Do you have peace of mind?” and “Are you able to reach down deep into yourself for comfort?”

While acknowledging that some doctors might be uncomfortable delving into their patients' spiritual or religious life, a San Antonio researcher says such questions are surprisingly effective in predicting repeat visitors to outpatient and mental health clinics, as well as a patient's overall satisfaction with life.

His findings from a study of 353 patients at two University Health System clinics were published today in the Annals of Family Medicine — one of three papers focusing on spirituality and health that appear in the journal.

“A small percentage of our patients — 10 (percent) to 20 percent — are very heavy utilizers of health care services,” said Dr. David Katerndahl, professor of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“You see them weekly. They talk about chest pain this week; next week they have a stomachache. You never really make an impact on this. So one of the things we may think about is maybe there's something going on with them at a spiritual level that we need to at least address with them.”

Katerndahl said spirituality is a natural extension of a movement in recent years to see patients as more than just the sum of their parts, like a machine. Some tout a biopsychosocial model of health care, which also looks at the patient's psychological and social health to understand their overall well- being.

Katerndahl developed a survey that combined questions about physical symptoms, emotional and social (are you isolated from other people?) symptoms, along with seven spiritual symptoms.

Spiritual symptoms include the degree to which patients feel peaceful, have a reason for living, feel their lives are productive, have peace of mind, have a sense of purpose, are able to reach deep within themselves for comfort and feel a sense of harmony. None of the questions referred to a specific religion.

Katerndahl then measured how each of the symptoms predicted 10 health outcomes that included frequent use of services, overall health status, quality of life and an absence of meaning in life. Spiritual symptoms — either alone or in combination with emotional or social symptoms — predicted seven of the 10 outcome measures.

In fact, the spiritual symptoms were far more effective than psychological symptoms in predicting whether someone had recently sought mental health services.

In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Richard Davidson with the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggested that a spiritual-medical connection isn't so far-fetched.

“Science has begun to dissect the complex mechanisms by which the brain can influence peripheral biology, thereby providing the beginnings of a mechanistic understanding of how the mind may influence bodily systems,” Davidson wrote.

Katerndahl acknowledged that doctors are divided on whether spirituality is an off-limits topic in the exam room.

“There are certain doctors who think the spiritual side (is something) we don't want to touch,” he said. “No matter what kind of questions you ask, it's not real science to talk about this stuff. We don't think patients want us to ask them about it. “On the other hand, if you ask the patients, they overwhelmingly want their doctor to talk about these things — especially in certain situations. When they're having a baby. If there's some sort of life stress, some crisis in their life. Some patients even want their doctor to pray with them.”

Don Finley

Ancient Buddha Statue Is Discovered in Afghanistan

Archaeologists have unearthed a 62-foot Buddha statue along with other relics in central Afghanistan, Reuters reported. The discovery was made in the central province of Bamiyan, near the ruins of giant statues that were destroyed by the Taliban seven years ago. The statue of the Buddha in a sleeping position dates to the third century. “In total, 89 relics such as coins, ceramics and a 19 meters statue have been unearthed,” Mohammad Zia Afshar, an adviser in the information and culture ministry, told Reuters. He also said the statue was badly damaged. The other relics date back to the Bactrian era and from Islamic and Buddhist civilizations. Bamiyan was once a thriving center of Buddhism.

Compiled by Julie Bloom

Monday, September 08, 2008

Two Truths in Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism had described two Truths; Absolute Truth (Paramatha Sathya) and Conventional Truth (Sammuti Sathya). Nagarjuna Thera of the Mahayana Tradition also identified two truths, but his theory was different from that of Theravada Buddhism.

Are there, in fact, two types of Truth in Theravada Buddhism? Do these two Truths vary in degree? Is Absolute Truth superior in anyway to the Conventional Truth? Some Buddhists commit the mistake that Absolute Truth is superior to the Conventional Truth and some go to the extent of saying that Nirvana is the Absolute Truth.

On the basis of this premise, they arrive at new interpretations of Nirvana, which could be misleading. In fact, there is only one Truth in Buddhism, but there are two ways of presenting it. This will be explained briefly.

Buddha and also the Abhidhamic theorists who based their discussions on the Buddha’s preaching have categorically said that the Absolute Truth is not superior to the Conventional Truth and that there is no difference in degree between the two. More importantly, either of these two Truths could be made use of to gain insight and follow the path to Enlightenment. Buddha had used both in his preaching depending on the intellectual ability of the listener.

What then was the reason for identifying two Truths? In early Buddhist preaching, all phenomena of human existence, both mental and physical, had been analyzed according to five methods.

In the first method, they were analyzed into "nama" and "rupa", in the second into five aggregates (rupa, vedana, sangna, sankara and vingnana), in the third into six elements (earth, water, temperature, air, space, and consciousness), in the fourth into twelve avenues of sense perception and mental formation and in the fifth into eighteen "dhatus".

These derivatives were considered as the elements of all phenomena of human existence. When a particular phenomenon was explained in terms of these elements, the explanation was considered as the Absolute Truth. When the same phenomenon was explained in terms of general agreement it was considered as the Conventional Truth.

Later Abhidhamic theorists had recognized the need to analyze further the above mentioned elements and they arrived at irreducible ultimate factors, which were called Dhammas, a comprehensive list of which appears in the Abhidhamma Pitakaya. These Dhammas it is said, participate in the process of dependent co-origination. Though they are recognized as ultimate elements for purposes of understanding, they are not separate entities and each occurs in conjunction with several other Dhammas. Their occurrence is dependent on conditions and once created they too can act as conditions for the occurrence of others. All mental experiences and physical phenomena occur in this manner. An explanation of a phenomenon, mental or material, in terms of these Dhammas is said to be the Absolute Truth. When the same phenomenon is explained in terms of general agreement, that explanation is said to be the Conventional Truth. If for example, a human being is explained in terms of the five "skandhas", it is considered an Absolute Truth. On the other hand, if a human being is explained as a person who will goes through life and suffer and finally die in a process of endless "samsara", then it will be a Conventional Truth.

These definitions, however, do not mean there are two types of Truth in Theravada Buddhism, but rather two ways of presenting the Truth.

As mentioned earlier either could be made use of, as two ways of arriving at the path to Enlightenment. Thus there is only one Truth in Theravada Buddhism.

N. A. de S. Amaratunga, Kandy

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in China

Buddhism Does not Need any Protection

I have heard, times without number, people and organisations saying that Buddhism should be protected. These people and organisations are downright fools. Buddhism by its intrinsic nature could attract the rational and defend itself.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake in a recent speech applauded the Maha Sangha of Sri Lanka for protecting Buddhism in this country. That is far from the truth. In fact, Buddhism in Sri Lanka is flawed. By upholding the caste system in recruiting monks to the Malwatte and Asgiriya nikayas, Buddhism in Sri Lanka flouts Buddha’s foremost tenets.

In India, the land of birth of Buddhism, it has been reduced to a nonentity. That is due to most Indians of Caucasian stock (north) or Dravidans descended from the Mohanjadaro-Harappa civilisation in peninsular India (south) or the endemic Indian tribals have an inclination to demonisation. They do not believe in a pure, almighty deity as in Abrahamic faiths. The Indians resort to sorcery and superstition and has a strong inclination for Satanic worship. Their iconic deities are rats, cats, dogs, monkeys etc. as much as the Chinese name the years after animals.

But the clear-minded people in the West is realising the potency of Buddhism as a scientific, rational way of life.

Its inherent crux is appealing to the straight thinking mind as well as defending itself from mundane threats.

Willy Watson