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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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Science of Shamanism

Previously, a brief examination of likely mainstream candidate for alternative spirituality took place. Ideal characteristics for a spirituality to gain popular support are as follows…

First, it has to make sense. Taking certain perspectives or being asked to believe on pure faith without any kind of observation, fact, or scientific process seems almost barbaric. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many of the current doctrines preach, faith based on trust, on ancient, improvable history. Shamanism is not an institution asking for money. It is offering an opportunity for you to find your own truth.

Secondly, the science of the soul needs to be understood by the process of practicing the belief. The ayahuasca ritual is actually easily explained chemically. The main ingredient is DMT, Di-methyltryptamine. It is a chemical found in trace amounts in the human brain, and in each mammalian brain it has been tested for. This chemical is released in massive quantities by the pineal gland, the most ancient part of the brain, during death or near death experiences. It is theorized to take place during birth, and has been conjectured to be the physical explanation of how the soul enters and leaves the body. Each experience in near death is very similar to the experience of artificially taking DMT. Each person goes through some kind of tunnel, or passage, and frequently feels the presence of an entity. The position of the skull for where the dmt is released at coincides with the location of the third eye. The most ancient religion still in massive practice, Hinduism, uses a red dot to symbolize the location.

When taken via the Ayahuasca ritual, it’s thought that the soul leaves the body, and the consciousness of the body experiences both worlds; the now, and the hereafter. Each experience is visually similar, but emotionally distinct because of the personal self truth revelation. For these reasons, ranging from dissatisfaction with mainstream canned beliefs, as well as the scientific explanations and benefits associated with shamanism and it’s primary ritual, the Ayahuasca ritual, it’s no wonder there is a rising surge of seekers looking for their own truth through this new and potent journey.

By Shea Dunda

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Buddhist Path Of Revolution

Against the Stream is more than just another blog about Buddhism. It is a manifesto and field guide for the front lines of the revolution. It is the culmination of almost two decades of meditative dissonance from the next generation of Buddhists in the West. It is a call to awakening for the sleeping masses.

Wake up: the revolution has already begun; it started 2,500 years ago, when Sid (Siddhartha Gautama, Sid for short) emerged victorious over suffering in the battle with his own mind. But, as most things tend to be with time, the spiritual revolution that Sid started, which we now call Buddhism, has been co-opted by the very aspects of humanity that Sid was trying to dismantle. The causes of suffering and confusion in the form of greed, hatred, and delusion have continued to corrupt the masses and have even crept into the teachings of this revolutionary path.

This blog is my attempt to present an introduction to the radical path of awakening as I believe it was originally intended and instructed. I have done my best to leave behind the dogmatic and culturally biased perspectives that have come to be part and parcel of many of the current presentations of Buddhism.

That having been said, I must also admit that my own biases and conditioned experiences will surely color these blogs with the unenlightened views and opinions that limit my ability to always see clearly. I have not attempted to be precise or historically correct in my interpretations; rather, I have taken the liberty to share the path to awakening as I have been practicing it and experiencing it from the inside out. I am convinced that what I will present in these writings is, for the most part, in line with the oldest recorded teachings of the Buddha, the Theravadan tradition, as preserved and practiced in Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), and Thailand. Many of these teachings I received directly from the unbroken monastic lineage that leads all the way back to the Buddha. But more important is the fact that I have directly experienced these teachings and the transformative effects of this path over approximately two decades of meditative engagement. I have will not attempt to present all of the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha in these writings; rather, I will do my best to share teachings and techniques that I believe will lead to the direct experiences of the Buddha's compassionate wisdom.

Against the Stream is my attempt to illuminate the path to freedom as I believe the Buddha intended it to be, as a radical and subversive personal rebellion against the causes of suffering and confusion. We have the ability to effect a great positive change in the world, starting with the training of our own minds and the overcoming of our deluded conditioning. Waking up is not a selfish pursuit of happiness; it is a revolutionary stance, from the inside out, for the benefit of all beings in existence.

May the teachings and techniques in this blog inspire you to serve the truth of generosity, kindness, and appreciation and to defy the lies of selfishness, ill will, and jealousy. May all beings meditate and destroy the causes of suffering in the forms of internal and external oppression and ignorance. And may the inner revolution bear the fruit of freedom you took birth to experience!

Noah Levine

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lanka to Attend Fifth Buddhist Summit, Japan

Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkithabidhana Thera and Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake will lead the Sri Lankan delegation to the Fifth World Buddhist Summit to be held from October 31 to November 10,in Kobe City, Japan.

The summit, attended by delegates from 33 countries will be held at the Royal Grand Hall of Buddhism in Kobe City. The organization of the Buddhist Summit is handled by a team led by Most Ven. Dr. Kyuse Enshinjoh, Founder Priest of Nenbutsushu Buddhist Sect of Japan and Chief Priest of the Royal Grand Hall of Buddhism. Ven. Hiroshi Fujikura is the Secretary General of the Buddhist Summit. The Sri Lankan Coordinator of the Summit is Senior Superintendent of Police Mr. Subhash Weerasinghe.

A major feature of the Fifth Summit is the “World Peace Prayer’ in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in memory of the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on the two cities.

The organizers and delegates representing 370 million Buddhists of the world will appeal to the world leaders to reconsider what true World Peace is through prayers and not to use the stockpiles of sophisticated nuclear weapons at their command.

Among the Sri Lankan delegates are Most Ven. Weweldeniye Medhalankara Mahanayake Thera of the Ramanna Nikaya, Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, Mr. & Mrs. Lakshman Jayakody, Mr. & Mrs. Mangala Moonesinghe and the Minister of Religious Affairs Mr. Pandu Bandaranaike.

Royal Grand Hall of Buddhism is interspersed in an area of 148 hectares with a University and other infrastructure facilities needed for international gatherings of Buddhists from around the world.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Is the Dream of Independence for Tibet Now a Lost Cause?

Why are we asking this now?

Over the weekend, his Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists and the man who has been at the centre of efforts to highlight the Tibetan cause for decades, explained that he "had given up" his struggle. "I have been sincerely pursuing the middle-way approach in dealing with China for a long time now, but there hasn't been any positive response from the Chinese side," the 73-year-old told an audience at Dharamsala, the Indian Himalayan town that is the headquarters of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile. "As far as I'm concerned, I have given up."

Does that mean the Dalai Lama is retiring?

Karma Choephel, the speaker of the parliament in-exile, told reporters that the Dalai Lama used to say that he was semi-retired and that now he believed he was was almost completely retired. However, a senior aide to the Nobel laureate last night dismissed speculation that he would start taking a back seat in Tibet's affairs. "Because of the lack of response from the Chinese we have to be realistic. There is no hope," said Tenzin Taklha. "His holiness does not want to become a hindrance to the Tibetan issue, and therefore has sent a letter to the parliament regarding what options he has."

Is there a possibility that he may continue his work?

Talk of retirement may be a little misleading. Last year, Tenzin Gyatso, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, made clear that he wished to reduce some of his political duties and have the elected Tibetan parliament-in-exile take a more active role. However, when a crisis broke out this spring – as the Chinese authorities cracked down aggressively on a number of uprisings across Tibet – the Dalai Lama placed himself at the centre of efforts urging restraint from both sides. He even offered to personally travel to Beijing to negotiate with the Chinese leadership over the issue. One position from which he cannot retire is his role as a living god. Having been anointed the 14th Dalai Lama when he was just two years old, he will retain that position until death.

How have the Chinese authorities responded to the Dalai Lama?

In short, pretty badly. Either directly or else via their proxies, Beijing has routinely dismissed and demonised the Tibetan spiritual leader and his supporters. In the spring, during the worst crisis in Tibet for two decades, the head of Tibet's hardline Communist Party, Zhang Qingli, said of the Nobel laureate: "The Dalai is a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast. We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy." At the time, the Dalai Lama insisted that the uprisings that broke out across the Tibetan plateau had not been orchestrated or organised from Dharamsala. He urged a peaceful solution to the problem.

What impact would the Dalai Lama's retirement have on the movement for Tibetan independence?

In regard to the high-profile campaign to gather support around the world, if the 73-year-old decided to stand down it would be a huge blow. Since he fled to India 1959, the Dalai Lama has worked to spread the word of his homeland's fate, courting both politicians and Hollywood celebrities such as Richard Gere and Steven Seagal. Charming, ebullient yet convincing, he has been more responsible than anyone for gaining supporters to the cause. On the other hand, not all Tibetans support his tactics. For many years the Dalai Lama has promoted a "third way" in regard to Tibet, calling for meaningful autonomy rather than full independence and arguing that he wants to protect Tibet's people and culture. Even during the spring crisis earlier this year, he refused to give his backing to calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

What has been the response of young Tibetans to the retirement?

Many younger Tibetans say thatwhile they respect the Dalai Lamaand venerate him as a living god, his tactics are wrong. Groups such as the Tibetan Youth Congress have demanded full independence forTibet and led a far more outspoken campaign to achieve it. The group's president, Tsewang Rigzin, said yesterday: "I think the statement by his Holiness is an eye-opener for the Tibetan people. "We are not against the middle-way approach of his Holiness, the fact is that China is not sincere and has never been sincere in talking about the middle way."

Who might fill the sandals of his Holiness?

The Dalai Lama has said he wishes the elected Tibetan government-in-exile to take on some of the work he currently does. However, some observers believe that an unofficial, transitional political successor might be Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is the Karmapa, or spiritual head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The 17th Karmapa – who is froma different school of Tibetan Buddhism to the Dalai Lama andwho cannot inherit his title – is just 23 years old. His escape as a teenage boy to India from Tibet via Nepal – he arrived in 2000 – has become the stuff of legend. Earlier this year, the young man made his first visit to the United States, triggering much talk that officials might be preparing him for a bigger role. At the time, even the Dalai Lama himself said: "There are now spiritual leaders who are young, energetic and well educated. "They can assume the role of spiritual leadership, as the political role is played by a democratically elected government."

What difference would any of this make to China?

Perhaps very little whatsoever. At the time of the crisis this spring, China reacted swiftly, aggressively and with seeming little regard for public opinion. Travel to Tibet was suspended and the ban then remained in place until the Olympic Torch had been run through the region. As soon as the demonstrations had been put down, journalists were flown in for special tours by the Chinese authorities. An unknown number of people were killed and hundreds were arrested. China insists that Tibet has officially been part of the Chinese nation since the mid-13th century and that it should continue to be ruled from Beijing. China is anxious about encouraging separatist movements in other parts of the country, such as in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province. As a result, it has refused to discuss any loosening of its control over Tibet, which it invaded in 1950.

What will happen next?

The Dalai Lama has already called a special meeting of Tibetan exiles for next month in Dharamsala to discuss both the spring crisis and the future of the movement. This will undoubtedly be surrounded by speculation that he could use the event to stand down. The conclave, which is due to begin on November 17, is apparently only the third such meeting of its kind in the past 60 years. The Dalai Lama is expected to address the six-day meeting of delegates from non-government organisations, politicians, monks and intellectuals and lay out his views about the way forward.

Is the Tibetan independence movement now likely to fail?

Yes...

  • The Dalai Lama appears to be running out of patience and without him the movement would lose an irreplaceable campaigner
  • The Chinese show no intention of offering any kind of autonomy to Tibet
  • The rest of the world is unwilling to upset China

No...

  • There is a new generation of highly motivated activists who are ready to continue the struggle and who back a more direct approach
  • Across the world, the Tibetan cause wins new supporters every day
  • Should China move towards democracy, Tibet's fortunes might look very much brighter


By Andrew Buncombe

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spirituality Protects Against Depression Better Than Church Attendance??

I saw this headline in my newsreader, and of course I was intrigued.

Spirituality protects against depression better than church attendance


Questions were clicking in my mind immediately, even as I clicked the link. How did they define spirituality for purposes of their research (the operational definition)? What religious groups were included, and did they differentiate among them in the results?

Then I read the EurekAlert article, and a completely different question came to mind: Who writes these headlines?

According to the article, there were three independent variables in the research: religious service attendance, “religious well-being, which refers to the quality of a person’s relationship with a higher power,” and existential well-being.

The group with higher levels of religious well-being were 1.5 times more likely to have had depression than those with lower levels of religious well-being. Maselko theorizes this is because people with depression tend to use religion as a coping mechanism. As a result, they’re more closely relating to God and praying more. Researchers also found that those who attended religious services were 30 percent less likely to have had depression in their lifetime, and those who had high levels of existential well-being were 70 percent less likely to have had depression than those who had low levels of existential well-being.


“Spirituality” was not one of the research variables. I’m guessing the headline writer was connecting it with the second variable, “religious well-being,” but that’s just a guess. The article certainly didn’t use that term for any of the variables. That’s strike one against the headline.

None of the variables was said to “protect against depression.” It’s not there in the article. Nowhere. That’s strike two.Umpire Signaling "Out"

And the one variable that was most closely correlated with depression was “religious well-being” (which I’m surmising was the headline writer’s “spirituality”). That’s strike three. If you’re going to draw a conclusion from a correlation (rather a risky practice, mind you), at least don’t draw a conclusion completely opposite to what the correlations show!

EurekAlert, you’re out!

So now the question is, what do the data show about depression and its correlates? It took some searching but I found the original source. I didn’t pay the $25 to read it, but there is of course an abstract, which begins,

The complex relationships between religiosity, spirituality and the risk of DSM-IV depression are not well understood.


It ends,

Given the complex interactions between religiosity and spirituality dimensions in relation to risk of major depression, the reliance on a single domain measure of religiosity or spirituality (e.g. religious service attendance) in research or clinical settings is discouraged.


Now, that’s believable.

But does it have any connection whatsoever with “spirituality protects against depression better than church attendance?”



From Thinking Christian

Original Article you can read here: Spirituality Protects Against Depression Better Than Church Attendance

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spirituality Protects Against Depression Better Than Church Attendance

Those who worship a higher power often do so in different ways. Whether they are active in their religious community, or prefer to simply pray or meditate, new research out of Temple University suggests that a person's religiousness – also called religiosity – can offer insight into their risk for depression. Lead researcher Joanna Maselko, Sc.D., characterized the religiosity of 918 study participants in terms of three domains of religiosity: religious service attendance, which refers to being involved with a church; religious well-being, which refers to the quality of a person's relationship with a higher power; and existential well-being, which refers to a person's sense of meaning and their purpose in life.

In a study published on-line this month in Psychological Medicine, Maselko and fellow researchers compared each domain of religiosity to their risk of depression, and were surprised to find that the group with higher levels of religious well-being were 1.5 times more likely to have had depression than those with lower levels of religious well-being.

Maselko theorizes this is because people with depression tend to use religion as a coping mechanism. As a result, they're more closely relating to God and praying more.

Researchers also found that those who attended religious services were 30 percent less likely to have had depression in their lifetime, and those who had high levels of existential well-being were 70 percent less likely to have had depression than those who had low levels of existential well-being.

Maselko says involvement in the church provides the opportunity for community interaction, which could help forge attachments to others, an important factor in preventing depression. She added that those with higher levels of existential-well being have a strong sense of their place in the world.

"People with high levels of existential well-being tend to have a good base, which makes them very centered emotionally," said Maselko. "People who don't have those things are at greater risk for depression, and those same people might also turn to religion to cope."

Maselko admits that researchers have yet to determine which comes first: depression or being religious, but is currently investigating the time sequence of this over people's lives to figure out the answer.

"For doctors, psychiatrists and counselors, it's hard to disentangle these elements when treating mental illness," she said. "You can't just ask a patient if they go to church to gauge their spirituality or coping behaviors. There are other components to consider when treating patients, and its important information for doctors to have."

From Escience News

Don’t Hesitate to Meditate

For the past several years, an organization called The Mind and Life Institute has been coordinating a yearly dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists. Increasingly, these scientists are neurologists and psychologists interested in such things as how emotions can be controlled and how attention can be marshaled to perform tasks more efficiently than before. They believe that meditators throughout the long history of Buddhism have uncovered some insights into such topics.

For his part, the Dalai Lama has put aside the religious aspects of Buddhism for the moment and considers Buddhism as a psychology of human behavior, behavior which can be trained and improved.

The cooperation between scientists and Buddhist practitioners has spawned several scientific studies. One of these studies found that long-term practitioners of meditation can sustain feelings of compassion much longer and more intensely than those untrained. Their brains generate significant changes as seen in brain scans. Also, when subjected to loud and irritating sounds, long-term practitioners can recover their composure more quickly than untrained participants. This ability to regain equilibrium demonstrates that meditation helps to control stress.

Samples of meditation that produce such results are as follows:

« A form of sitting meditation could involve the breath. The practitioner sits straight up in a chair with his or her feet flat on the floor, eyes closed. The meditator then notices the breath coming in and out, focusing on where the breath touches the lip. He or she keeps the focus on that spot in so far as possible, returning attention back to the spot when the mind wanders.

« Another form of meditation can be accomplished while walking. One walks slowly with the shoes off, without looking at the feet. This meditation is designed to teach you how to keep your balance. As one gets older, the sense of balance found in the inner ear starts to decline. As a result, older people tend to watch their feet as they walk, but if someone physically disturbs their walking, they are more likely to fall. Hence they should not depend upon sight to maintain their balance. Instead, they should practice walking in bare feet to regain the sensitivity between the feet and the ground that has been lost because of the intervening hard surface of the shoes.

Meditate
These and other forms of meditation can be practiced every Friday morning at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, from 10-11 a.m. in a group led by Bob McCartney, who has taught Buddhism for several years and has had extensive training in a temple in Denver led by Thai monks.


By Bob McCartney

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Medicine & Melodious Moods

Yes, doctors do have virtues that go beyond the dexterous use of scalpel. When it comes to merriment, they can let their hair down and with finesse

A peek into a banquet, after a two-day conference organised by Vidarbha Ophthalmic Society at a city hotel, said it all. The evening got a traditional touch as few youngsters kick-started the evening by rendering Ganesh Stuti.

There was not just an element of tradition but a surge of spirituality too when President of the Society Dr Dhananjay Modak rendered the popular bhajan Teri hai zameen and the audience sang in chorus."This is my favourite number. And I feel it's always good to remember the Almighty in good times too. It really helps," he said. Soon spirituality gave way to more popular numbers.

It seemed like an R D Burman night as doctors sang all Panchamda songs. Dr Ajay Sood pepped up the mood of the evening as he crooned Bachna Ae Haseeno. We caught up with him and he said, "This peppy song gives you an adrenaline rush and can make a dull environment lively." Dr Sudipto Pakrasi drew lot of attention as he discussed his association with celebrities like Kapil Dev and Rajesh Khanna. He said with a smile, “During my college days, I have done modelling too.”

From India Times

Monday, October 20, 2008

Basic Attitudes of Yoga and Meditation

Spiritual progress should be natural, not forced- like a growing tree, not like the frenetic struggle of minor actors to achieve fame.

Think of how many things you do in the hope of resting after you’ve finished them. Let me buy that racy sports car,” you think, “or that handsome station wagon for the whole family. Then I’ll be able to relax and really enjoy life.”

Or you may think, “Once I get that new house, with the shaded porch and the large master bedroom; that sunny dining room so we won’t have to eat any longer in the kitchen with the cucumbers; that sunken living room-ah, then I’ll find peace and be able to enjoy life at last!

Thus you acquire the habit of looking for more and more things, more and more ways of resting better and enjoying life more fully after the acquisition of and after the accomplishment. The irony is that in the very seeking you lost the capacity to rest at all. Thus you never really get to enjoy life. Experiencing more and more stress in the seeking, you lose the ability to relax even after you’ve “arrived”.

An important rule in life is: Don’t be impatient. This rule is doubly important for meditation, for whereas the general stricture against impatience gives hope of finding inner peace in meditation, that hope is demolished if one applies to meditation itself attitudes that we’ve developed in the “rat race.” To find God, it is better to be a long-distance runner than a sprinter. Today’s meditative efforts will have to be renewed tomorrow, and again the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on for as long as it takes to achieve the consciousness of the eternal now.

Paramhansa Yogananda was asked once, “Does the spiritual path have any end? “No end,” he replied. “You go on until you achieve endlessness.

Don’t let your approach to meditation be so achievement-oriented that you end up mentally tense. Yogananda, noting my own tendency toward impatience, once said to me, “The principle of karma yoga applies to meditative action also. Meditate to please God. Don’t meditate with desire for the fruits of your meditations. It is best, in the beginning, to emphasize relaxation.”

Of course what he meant was, don’t desire fruits that accrue to your ego. For it is the ego, not the soul, that experiences impatience. Patience is the fastest path to God, because it develops soul-consciousness.

From The Promise of Immortality
by Swami Kriyananda
Photo: Jose Fares

Religion, Democracy and Social Relations

Religion, democracy and social relations are not dependent on each other. They are nowhere interconnected in carrying forward each other. The three entities should be treated separately, with separate leaders to thrive for a better society and nation.

RELIGION IS seen as an impediment in the progress of modern civil society. It is often passed on from one generation to another, without caring much for its relevance in the present day life of an individual. In practical life, religion is nowhere involved in carrying forward the chain of social relations of a given society. The relations are more or less imposed, devoid of any free will and tremendously full of prejudice and bias, when carried forward by different religious groups.

There exists more antagonism than any coherence in beliefs of scientific thought and religious ideologies. The proof of it is seen in the evolution of entire modern day scientific discoveries and inventions being opposed by church and other religious faiths in initial stages throughout the world. The simple reason for the opposition to science from orthodox religious priests was due to challenge science was posing to the divine authority propounded by kingship theory, supported by religious institutions. According to this theory, the king was bestowed with divine power to rule.

The position of the modern day theocratic states is more or less the same. States formed on the basis of a particular religion exploit masses in the name of religion by limiting the scope of their participation in the affairs of state. Common people are engaged consciously in futile exercises of religious rituals and their life is directly controlled under pretext of different suppressive religious laws, often flouted by the so-called religious authorities. This system of constant religious dogmatism and obscurantism is often resulting in the violation of basic individual human rights and violent confrontations within a civil society, aspiring for a scientifically more balanced life.

Science has altogether changed the approach of mankind in perceiving and apprehending universal facts and knowledge is subject to scrutiny and test rather than a matter of belief or faith. Even this was always the case, when prudence prevailed over mere notional belief. Well, religion has made a very positive contribution towards society, whenever and wherever it worked to enhance and improve the spirit of individual by shaping and developing a balanced conscience, based on natural justice and fair-play.

The state had a limited role to play and acted to the extent of preserving and promoting the secular religious doctrines, derived often from practices of human activity and interaction with nature. The making of an individual in context to the Indian school of thought depended more or less on the way of living he/she would choose for the entire life. There was very little interference from the state for holding any world-view.

This point is supported by the fact that there evolved all type of religious philosophies carrying different point of view from dualism to monism and atheism to Buddhism and recent Sikhism, but never did state try to suppress one religion and promote another except at some rare dark and isolated event, the history of Indian religious development has been more or less peaceful till the acceptance of division of society on religious basis.

Theocratic and state communist dictatorship states have one thing in common and that is negation of democratic freedom to its people. Both believe in absolute authority vested in a group, lead by a dictator. One takes refuge under the doctrine of a religious statehood and the other rules in the name of social justice and equality. Both act, however, under different influences of thought and faith.

While communism, when separated from state control looks most acceptable and humanistic in its approach towards society. Likewise there is hardly any religion, which preaches hatred, brutality and any anti-human or anti-social ideology to suppress or subjugate the people of other faith. But, both revisionist and reformist communists and religious fundamentalists prove detrimental to the cause of human progress equally, when they structure, interpret and propagate their theories to suit their own interests rather than the interests of the people they are ruling.

Democratic societies are no exception to the above stated perversions of religion and social justice. When these societies are also divided on the lines of religion, caste and class basis, when the fruits of social progress keep accumulating in the hands of only a few sections of society and a majority of people remain deprived even after their full participation in the said growth and progress, the things are not certainly moving in the right direction. Like other theocratic states and state-run communist countries there is something wrong in the root of our democracy, which is calling for our immediate attention.

We have, in the last sixty years, been trying to carry the business of our country on three constituents of preamble:

1) socialism,
2) secularism and
3) democracy.

The first two have proved a big casualty in Indian political and economic arena and third is totally a farce, until we do not have fully educated and equally privileged people to participate as electorate. In a country divided on narrow fictitious divisions of religion and caste, democracy turns out to be a segmented factor rather than any free and independent will to choose.

In all its essence religion should be totally separated from superstition, politics and economic funding by state. Religious leaders interested in pursuing political goals should immediately give up religious positions and make their participation effective by pleading public cause and not the cause of a particular religious group. Same should apply to politicians; they should be disqualified from public office if they indulge in supporting or pleading politics on religious basis.

From Merinews

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is Your Spirituality Keeping You From Making Money?

Today I’d like to discuss some things that may be on your mind already, the concept of spiritual growth and how it is related to (or in some peoples minds in conflict with) financial growth. Can the two coexist? Is it possible to strive for both simultaneously? Before you jump to any conclusions, read on.

For many people, this is simply not possible. Citing passages from the Bible such as ““It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. Ok, I’m not going to “diss” the Bible, but I truly believe that quote was taken out of context, or was directed at some really baaaad people. I think of all the wealthy people I know of that contribute large sums of money and time to helping others, and I know this is not always true. Are there rich people who do bad things? You betcha! Are there also very financially distressed people who do bad things? Again, of course there are. Having money in and of itself doesn’t make a person moral or immoral.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Dalai Lama Hospitalized, Could Undergo Abdominal Surgery

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and leader of that country's government-in-exile, checked into a New Delhi hospital on Thursday after complaining of severe abdominal pain, according to various media reports.

The Times of India says that the Dalai Lama may even undergo surgery later this week:

The spiritual leader was admitted to New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on Thursday following media reports that abdominal pains for which he had spent four days in a Mumbai Hospital in August had recurred.

"He was admitted when he complained of abdominal pain and now chances are that the Dalai Lama will be operated upon, most probably tomorrow (Friday)," said a senior doctor at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who did not wish to be identified.


Associated Press is also noticing that the Dalai Lama's spokesman is being very tight-lipped on the Lama's condition but reminds us that the leader has had some health problems this year:

In August, the 73-year-old Dalai Lama was admitted to a Mumbai hospital and underwent tests for abdominal discomfort. Doctors advised him to cancel a planned trip to Europe and rest, saying he was suffering from exhaustion.


by Ronald Nurwisah

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Our Legacy of Religious Politics

Communalism is not about faith and conversions but about political clout

It is not any more a mere anti-colonial jab but a fairly good generalisation that it is the first Europeans - starting with the Portuguese — who brought with them syphilis and communalism in the sixteenth century. Secularism came in much, much later, again from the same direction and with a similar amount of poison. Modern medicine has conquered syphilis. The other two continue to rage.

Until then, there have been religions - far too many — in the country. There was even a sort of competition of sorts for new converts, starting with Jainism and Buddhism in the early periods, and then between different denominations of Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shaktas, and numerous subdivisions among them all. The rulers and the political notables too were induced and allured to adopt one or the other of the faiths, but that did not create faith-based power struggles. There were disputations, denunciations among them. But it was never a matter of political hegemony. The Turks (including the so-called Mughals) and Afghan rulers of late medieval and pre-modern India too continued to follow the same policy of letting religions and sects jostle with each other.

The story was quite different in Europe. The rulers there burnt those who did not belong to their side of the religious divide. The Westphalia Congress which ended the 30 years of wars of religion in the seventeenth century only complicated the issue when it was declared that the religion of the ruler will be that of the subjects as well.

The British used what they knew to understand India. They saw Muslims and Hindus, and thought, naturally enough, that it is a handy way of distinguishing them and, if necessary of pitting one against the other. Hindus and Muslims perhaps did not have much choice but to be herded and branded on religious lines. This played itself out in the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947. Faith-based politics in the subcontinent unravelled with the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.

But the legacy of religious politics remained. Before Independence, the Muslim League considered the Congress a Hindu organisation. Congress could not get rid of the Hindu tag. So, after independence, Congress tried to be sympathetic to Muslims without abandoning its support base among the Hindus.
That is, Congress followed the pattern of religious politics set in place by the British. Nehru and others naively thought that this was secularism. Nehru had an opportunity to banish religion from politics. But he did not feel the need to do so because he felt that majority Hindus need not fear the minorities, and that there was no harm in letting the minorities persist with their religious identity in the political arena. And that as a result, the ghost of communalism will go away.

This is something akin to the thinking on castes. It was felt that affirmative action for the oppressed castes would result in the withering away of the caste system. It was a grave miscalculation. Both casteism and communalism have become entrenched in the political arena.

The BJP, an upstart national party, has not mastered the politics of communalism, in the manner of Congress. That is why its lumpen storm troopers in the Bajrang Dal indulge in violence against Christians and Muslims. Congress caters to the communal sensitivities of all groups. BJP wants to do likewise but has not acquired the skills to do so. It ends up facing the embarrassing situation of communal riots.

The one place where communalism has found a kinetic equilibrium is in the politically over-determined and socially underdeveloped Kerala. There, Hindus, Christians and Muslims have carved out their share of political power. Of course, the social conditions are such that each community has developed its own stable economic base.

Communalism is not about faith and conversions. It is about political clout. That is why secularist rant against communalism is so much of hypocrisy because they do not accept that every religious group wants a share in political power which is not what secularism is all about.

From Dna India

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Refuge for the Desperate

Vice President Vincent Siew visited Taipei 101 to pray yesterday. President Ma Ying-jeou did so on

Saturday. They both prayed before a gold Buddha image presented as a gift to one of Taiwan’s popular Buddhist patriarchs by his Thai counterpart. The two leaders of Taiwan implored divine help end the country’s seemingly endless trouble just as ancient Chinese emperors did.

Siew and Ma addressed their prayers to what is called the Wealth and Honor Gold Buddha, given to Master Daoxin of Taiwan’s Ghridhrakuta (Vulture Mountain). Incidentally, Vulture Mountain, near the ancient city of Radjagriha in India, is one of the sacred places where Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, expounded the original Buddhist doctrine (one very much different from populist Mahayana Buddhism now practiced in Taiwan) to bikhsu (Buddhist fakirs) and senior bodhisattvas (who were Buddhists with right wisdom, but not yet with consummate penetration in this secular world, unlike those in Mahayana Buddhism who could save and help the faithful). Perhaps, both Siew and Ma truly believe their prayers will be answered. But we like to believe they let themselves be persuaded by their staff, who are convinced that all the woes that are gripping Taiwan have resulted from Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s failure to worship the ghosts during the Ghost Festival in the summer, and that Matsu, the Goddess of the Seas, hinted through a medium she would get Ma out of all the trouble in three months’ time. In particular, some on the staff love the title of the gold Buddha. It’s Wealth and Honor, which Taiwan is seeking desperately.

We are sure of one thing. The staff members who have suggested that Siew and Ma bark up the wrong tree are no Buddhists. The followers of the Buddha are taught wealth and honor are human cravings, or “tanha,” they have to renounce in order to be enlightened. Calling for divine help used to be a popular Taoist practice, but Buddhism and Taoism have long merged into one hybrid folk religion in Taiwan.

There’s little doubt that some of Ma’s top aides, who want desperately to get their boss out of trouble, are at their wits’ end. Otherwise, they wouldn’t dare try to talk the president and the vice president into visiting Taipei 101. But the real trouble is that Taiwan can’t get out of the trouble it is facing and will continue to face in three months. What kind of friendly persuasion will the assistants resort to then? They may request Ma to write a self-reproaching edict, like the one the puppet Guangxi emperor of the Qing Dynasty issued after an allied army had sacked Beijing in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. The emperor and his aunt Empress Dowager, who kept him hostage, had to flee the capital when the army with contingents contributed by eight countries marched on Beijing to rescue their diplomats and families. The emperor had to tell his subjects he had to take responsibility for “shaming” his empire.

The China Post news staff

Monday, October 06, 2008

Economic Crisis. Invitation to a New Way of Life

Fostering Ecological Hope

Can the economic crisis be perceived as an opportunity to change how we live? Of course it can. And whether one sees that as scary, or with relief, or with an “about time,” or with sadness or joy, depends upon what one values.

earth atmosphere from space
Humans are living in a way that is rapidly depleting the planet of all that we need to sustain rich and abundant life. As we have noted before, to continue human consumption at current levels would take more than 1.3 Earths, and that’s only if we maintain the current population of 6.8 billion. But we are not going to do that. We are going to add 2-3 billion more humans over the next 4 decades.

Keep in mind that it took the 59 years that I’ve been on this planet for the population to get from 2.5 billion to 6.8. It is no wonder that we are seeing and feeling the collapse or endangering of ecosystems everywhere. It is no wonder that we are feeling a bit crowded. It is no wonder that one local community after another is struggling with issues of water, sewage, energy, crowded transit, and more.

Graph of ecological
overshoot 1960-2001

The predominant mode of development has been to take from the planet whatever we need to drive the engine of ‘growth.’ But the planet is finite and its resources and precious gifts limited. If we are well beyond sustainability, much less the planet’s ability to evolve life with greater diversity and abundance, then sane minds might suggest that something pretty basic and profound needs to change — like the economic model.

Humans in general have a great reluctance, it seems, to accept this reality of our existence because it means changing how we think of ourselves and of the meaning of life. If we think of ourselves as on top of the planet, floating on its surface, and not part of its ecosystems, its biosphere, then it is there for us to exploit for our benefit — though soon the fact that we have taken way too much means that those benefits are about to run out.

If we think of ourselves as deeply interwoven with those systems, part of the story of the evolution of life, then the situation we are in ought to raise alarm, and I mean, alarm.

What can bring about a new way of life that might salvage the human project within the evolutionary story? One thing is to challenge our sense of identity as something outside the web of life and independent of natural forces. While our technology has allowed us great ability to manipulate those natural forces, that has not put us outside them. While we can put a roof over our heads to keep out the rain, that does not mean it is not raining.

Bolivar Peninsula -
National
Weather Service
And while we build houses on stilts along the seashore, that does not mean that ocean surges will not simply wash them away in a storm. That we can build fires to cook food does not make us less dependent on food.

However, buying packaged food and sticking it in the microwave can cut us off from an experience of our dependence on what grows out of the Earth. It can keep us from experiencing that what we take in becomes part of us, part of our body’s ability to be healthy and strong, or not. This alienation can keep us from realizing the threat we take in when we eat processed foods grown with chemicals in depleted soils with additives and artificial colors and flavoring.

Same with the air we breathe, the water we drink.

By the same token, our behavior can be toxic or benevolent for the planet, depending on what we put back into the soil, water, and air.

Gaia Earth. One living system. All interconnected and interrelated.



Gaia Earth. One living system. All interconnected and interrelated.

The Blue Marble - NASA photo
In this project, we speak of spirituality (not religion, which is different - not irrelevant, obviously, but different), meaning in broad terms our meaning frameworks, our values, our inner motivations, our raison d’etre, our reason to get out of bed in the morning. Right now, the ’spirituality’ of economic growth has us entangled in a deeply dysfunctional way of life that has caused alienation from nature and in many ways within the human community.

What we know now is how bonded we all are in the ecological crisis that faces this planet. I will write more about this in next month’s first issue of our online Zine. Western society has tended to focus an global climate change as the preeminent ecological threat of our time. I would argue that, even if we were not dangerously warming the planet, we face an unprecedented threat caused by our over-consumption of the natural goods of the Earth and the amount of waste we spew into its air, waters and soils which it can no longer absorb. Global warming caused by our greenhouse gas emissions is only one aspect of that crisis.

Which is one reason why, sadly, we are and will be unprepared for the collapses to come. I mean, even knowing what hurricanes can do, people still build houses on stilts on the beach, some still decide to ride out the storm, and then many can still be shocked by the destruction after. This is how we tend to approach so many of these threats. I suppose that people will be equally shocked out west when water no longer comes out of their taps — despite a generation of warnings about the depletion of water sources caused by overdevelopment and overuse.

The economic crisis that confronts us now can be, if we make it so, an invitation to change how we live. The economics of consumption and waste on which our way of life in my generation has been built is crumbling for multiple reasons, including our own selfishness and addiction to shopping and possessing — on credit for the most part in recent decades. Now the wealth of the rich and the jobs of the not-rich depend on this way of life, which means, we are wholly dependent on an unsustainable way of life for our mortgage payments, rents, tuitions, paychecks, life savings, home entertainment centers, and iPods.

That’s the world we created. It seems to me the worst thing we could do right now is try to put all that back in place as corporations and government agencies use the bailout in an attempt to put some of these pieces back together. Instead, we could use the moment to begin reimagining a new way to live, a way with justice and compassion at its core, and a renewed relationship with the natural world that holds us, in which we are embedded and from whose fate we cannot separate ourselves.

Maybe we can start paying down our debts, throw away the credit cards, spend more time with family and friends, spend more time caring for the needs of others, start cooking home dinners again, take the plugs out of ears and our brains, and start actually feeling and experiencing life again, the essential relationships of life, the vibrations of the planet, all that makes us human and alive instead of robotic and numb.

Crises can paralyze us with fear, or open a door to something new. I am opting for the latter.

From: Ecological Hope

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spirituality and Religious Literacy at Kenyon

A week ago, I attended an Iftar hosted by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Nuh Aydin, an Iftar being the feast held at the end of a day of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Gathered in the Parish House, I was surrounded by people of all faiths. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic-we were all there to honor the beautiful tradition being observed that evening. After a presentation on the significance of fasting and an entrancingly melodic call to prayer, we shared a delicious meal accompanied by conversation about all manner of things, secular and sacred alike. Why do I bring this up? Because this event perfectly illustrates my view of religious life at Kenyon.

When I came here as a first year, I initially felt alienated because of my Southern Baptist upbringing. Moving into a hall with primarily atheist and agnostic midwesterners and New Englanders, I was out of my element, both geographically and spiritually. The wonderful thing about Kenyon's religious scene is that this difference was not just tolerated-it was affirmed and accepted. Though my friends held different views, religious and philosophical conversations were frequent in our hall. I found that this was true in classes as well. No matter their faiths, my peers and I were met with tolerance. In recent years, though, I've noticed that the subject of religion has become increasingly taboo, not due to discrimination, but to sheer ignorance of the matter in question.

In spite of Kenyon's wonderful tolerance, it is my fear that a vast majority of students-through no fault of their own-possess a large degree of religious illiteracy. Maybe a test is in order. Can you name all five books of the Torah? How about all four Gospels? Can you list more than half of the Ten Commandments? Okay, so a few of you out there are probably feeling pretty good about this, and that's great. Now name the four noble truths of Buddhism. Can you list the five pillars of Islam? Of what faith is the Bhagavad-Gita a sacred text? Who wrote the Tao Te Ching?

Don't feel too bad if any of these questions stumped you. I had to go back to my religious studies textbook to answer some of them. Still, if you had trouble with three or more, can you honestly say you've had a complete liberal arts education? As a religious studies major, I have taken courses to expand my knowledge of religions, but is mere knowledge enough?

Beneath the surface here at Kenyon lurks a beautiful multifaceted spiritual community that many students never explore. I wish I could give you a specific reason for this-fear of being stigmatized as a fanatic, maybe? The best thing I can do, though, is to offer a suggestion: don't let religion become taboo. Even if it's just as a secular observer, strike up a conversation with someone. Taking a religious studies class is a good start, but there's no replacement for a good discussion with your friends. Don't fear stigmatization. Sit down with a friend sometime soon, and just listen to how he or she views the world.

By Thomas Lewis

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Spirituality Unleashed

Operating room voice leads to first publication on faith for local doctor.

Vienna resident Neeraj Bhushan keeps Tuesday mornings for himself, clearing off his busy schedule to take a long walk before stepping foot in his office at Reston Hospital Center where he works as an internal medicine specialist. During a Tuesday morning walk late in 2005, Bhushan felt a terrible pain in his knee, rendering him unable to finish his walk.
"The knee suddenly started to hurt really bad," said Bhushan, recalling the experience. The pain was a result of a torn meniscus, an injury he sustained playing basketball 10 years earlier. Bhushan saw a colleague, an orthopedic surgeon, whose office was on the same floor as Bhushan’s. The surgeon recommended surgery as an answer to Bhushan’s woes. What transpired in the operating room the day of the surgery changed Bhushan forever and drove him to write his first book, "The Wide Open Door."
"I panicked because of possible complications, I even envisioned myself dying," said Bhushan, who understood complications from surgery having practiced internal medicine for more than 25 years in Reston at that time. As the operating room lights became brighter and the surgeon and the anesthetic technician made final preparations to put Bhushan under for surgery, Bhushan heard a third voice. It was a man’s voice, he said, that whispered to him, "Why are you afraid my son, I’m right here." Bhushan said he was scared to hear the voice. "It was just me on the operating table and I was talking to this voice," he said. Bhushan then calmed down and "surrendered" himself to the voice, before the surgery started.

WHEN BHUSHAN woke up from the surgery, which involved drilling three holes into his knee, he walked into the bathroom without any crutches, not limping and not feeling any pain. The surgeon prescribed strong medications to ease the pain once he got home, but Bhushan never did feel any pain in his knee as he went to sleep. Doubting that he had surgery, Bhushan waited until his wife went to sleep and undressed the knee. When he saw where the surgeon drilled, evidence that surgery did take place, Bhushan broke down.
"I felt that some power, which I believe is God, touched my knee," said Bhushan. "I started feeling that some other power than what we [doctors] do healed me," said Bhushan. "I was healed by spirituality, not medicine."
For almost a year Bhushan tried to come to terms with the belief that he benefited from direct contact with God. "I was bothered that I was given that privilege," said Bhushan. When he could not, Bhushan started to write "The Wide Open Door," a recollection of his experience, and other stories of patients he has had in his 29 years at Reston, who had quick recoveries not explained through medicine. Although he was always a man of faith, growing up in a Hindu family in India and joining a temple once he immigrated to the United States, Bhushan said his experience has taught him to surrender to God’s will. "I never understood the meaning of faith," he said speaking of his early spiritual life. "It was always a trade or negotiation," he said, going to temple in exchange for a positive view from God. "This experience has led me to believe in unconditional surrender," said Bhushan, chairman of an advisory council of the Rajdhani Mandir Hindu Temple in Chantilly.

"WE MEET OFTEN," said Vikram Khushalani, Bhushan’s friend of more than 30 years and patient for 28 of those years. "When we used to meet before we would talk lightheartedly," said Khushalani. "Now, we are talking more and more about spirituality," he said. "He [Bhushan] seems to be little more at peace."
Khushalani said Bhushan has always been a sensible doctor whose goal is to put his patients at ease. Since Bhushan’s surgery, however, Bhushan’s devotion to relaxing his patients has increased. "It is more so now," said Khushalani.
Jisele Alter, Bhushan’s office manager who has worked with him in some capacity since 1981, said compassion is Bhushan’s top characteristic. "He has an unbelievable amount of patience with patients," said Alter. She said, from personal experience, that going through surgery is a very scary experience. Bhushan, she said, does everything in his power to calm his patients, even the most difficult ones. "He’s a fantastic physician," said Alter.
"The Wide Open Door" is scheduled for publication in November, according to Bhushan. There is also a tentative book signing date at Borders in Tysons Corner scheduled for Nov. 29. Bhushan said there has been "tremendous interest" expressed in the book from his patients and friends.
The strengthened spirituality Bhushan has found since his knee surgery has unleashed a series of ideas on other books Bhushan hopes to author, each of which will center around faith. He has starting writing two of those books already and has conceived an idea for another. "This has opened another part of my brain," said Bhushan.

By Mirza Kurspahic

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Religious Homophobia Divides Families

Religious homophobia divides families

Last night 180 people attended the Wellington premiere of "For the Bible Tells Me So" at St Andrew's on the Terrace Presbyterian Church. Attendees were a mix of church-goers and members of Wellington's gay community, including some who will be attending the Presbyterian General Assembly which begins tomorrow. In 2006, the church excluded from leadership gay and lesbian people and people in de facto relationships.

The documentary was well received with many in the audience visibly moved by the stories of five Christian families and their gay and lesbian children. It also addressed the issues of biblical misinterpretation that are at the base of much discrimination against gay and lesbian people.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion on the impact of religious homophobia in Aotearoa New Zealand. Dr Mark Henrickson, senior lecturer in Social Work at Massey University shared the results of research on the place of religion and spirituality in the lives of gay and lesbian New Zealanders.

Commenting on the declining numbers of Christians in New Zealand, Dr Henrickson said, "Proportionately, almost 2.4 times as many lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians have left Christianity as have the general population.

"If Christian religious traditions want to keep lesbians, gays and bisexuals out of their communities, then what they are doing is working. If through negative messages they want lesbian, gays, and bisexuals to change their identities or Œlifestyles', that is not happening, because most appear more likely to abandon their religious traditions than their identities," he said.

He also noted the negative correlation between religious involvement and family acceptance of GLB children. Respondents who identified as ŒNo Religion' reported significantly more support from their families than current Christians. Families with ŒNo Religion' were also significantly more likely to include a partner in family gatherings than current Christians.

The other panellists were Elizabeth Kerekere, takataapui activist of Out There! Queer Youth Development Project; and Fraser Paterson, Presbyterian Minister and his daughter Robyn Paterson, New Zealand Film Maker. Each told powerful and moving stories of encountering and triumphing over religious discrimination.

St Andrew's minister Margaret Mayman restated the commitment of her congregation to be a place where gay and lesbian people do not have to choose between spirituality and sexuality, where they can be part of a faith community as they seek to live the tension between identity and religious tradition creatively.

"We will continue to be a place of welcome and healing for those who have been hurt, and we will continue to work for change and for justice in the churches," Dr Mayman said.

BACKGROUND NOTE In 2002, the Presbyterian Church commissioned research company AC Nielsen to interview couples with young children who were open to western spirituality but who did not attend church. They were questioned about their attitudes to the church. The research indicated that one of the most off-putting aspects of church for these young families was judgemental attitudes held by the churches, particularly lack of acceptance of divorce, de-facto relationships, and homosexuality.

ENDS

From Scoop.co.nz