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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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buddha's skull found in 1,000-year-old miniature pagoda in China

LONDON: Archaeologists have claimed that a 1,000-year-old miniature pagoda, unearthed in Nanjing, China, holds a piece of skull belonging to
Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the pagoda was wedged tightly inside an iron case that was discovered at the site of a former temple in the city in August this year.

The four-storey pagoda, which is almost four feet high and one-and-a-half feet wide, is thought by archaeologists to be one of the 84,000 pagodas commissioned by Ashoka the Great in the second century BC to house the remains of the Buddha.

The pagoda found in Nanjing is crafted from wood, gilded with silver and inlaid with gold, coloured glass and amber.
It matches a description of another of Ashoka's pagodas, which used to be housed underneath the Changgan Buddhist temple in Nanjing.

A description of the contents of the pagoda indicate the presence of a gold coffin bearing part of Buddha's skull inside a silver box.

Although scans have confirmed that there are two small metal boxes inside the pagoda, experts have not yet peered inside.

According to Qi Haining, the head of archaeology at Nanjing Museum, "This pagoda may be unique, the only one known to contain parts of Buddha's skull".

But he said there would be a lengthy process before the cases could be opened.

"The discovery of the relic will have a huge influence on the cultural history of Buddhism in China and will establish Nanjing as a premier site. It will be a great encouragement for Buddhists as well as for future studies," said De Qing, an expert in Buddhism in Nanjing.

"It is important for Buddhism as a religion to have these sarira, or relics, to show its followers. The more a Buddhist practises, the more relics will remain of him after his death. I am hugely excited. I think they should take the skull outside of the container, it is a sacred item, but it is not an untouchable item," he added.

Siddhartha Gautama, who is believed to have been born in the fifth century BC, was a spiritual teacher and recognized by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha of our age.

Also known as Shakyamuni, or the Sage of the Sakyas, his teachings are contained in the Tripitaka, the canon of Buddhist thought.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama Taps Into our Yearning for Meaning, Spirituality

The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States was a defeat for the Christian right, but that doesn't mean that faith didn't play a major role in Obama's resounding victory. While the Republican Party ran under the mantra of "God and country," Obama tapped into something possibly even bigger - God and spirit.

A survey out this month revealed that 52% of Americans age 12 to 25 say that they don't trust organized religion, but that they are increasingly spiritual. According to the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, young people are turning away from their churches, mosques and temples and finding God in nature, music, friends and community service.

A 2008 University of California Los Angeles study showed that 62% of college students see themselves as spiritual and believe attaining inner peace is an essential life goal. In that study, spirituality was defined as caring about the condition of others and of the world.

It's easy to see how Obama's rhetoric would appeal to them, and to the countless adults who consider themselves nonreligious, but spiritual. His language of hope resonated with the spiritual teachings of love over fear. For the spiritual-minded, community organizing is not something to ridicule, but to emulate. I can't tell you how many e-mails and bumper stickers I see bearing the Gandhi quote: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Change - now there's a holy idea.

Deep connections

Opponents pegged Obama's optimism as naive. But his political rhetoric dovetailed with a pervasive spirituality that teaches that words and thoughts do shape reality. Want to know the secret? Thinking can indeed make it so.

Obama's exhortation for Americans to transcend difference was also in synch with a spiritual world view. When the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, he, too, urged America to govern "from the perspective of the oneness of humanity, and from a profound understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of today's world."

Even Obama's slogan, "Yes we can," could have been out of the mouths of the best-selling spiritual writers of our time, from Wayne Dyer to Deepak Chopra to Eckhart Tolle.\

An army of believers

On the day after the election, Marianne Williamson, author of "Healing the Soul of America," e-mailed a mass message. In it, she observed that "the Obama phenomenon did not come out of nowhere. It emerged as much from our story as from his -- as much from our yearning for meaning as from his ambition to be President."

For those of us who have learned to expect a miracle, we got it in our new president. But the real miracle has been our own spiritual awakening that made his election possible.

Whether President-elect Obama knows it or not, he is backed by an army of believers - people who understand that the promised change is not just his responsibility, but the responsibility of each of us.

Desiree Cooper

Monday, November 17, 2008

Soka Gakkai International find tranquility through their unique form of Buddhism

Who knows what one may find in the lower level of the Fletcher Allen Library on any given day.

On November 9th, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) met for a group session on the practice of the Lotus Sutra Buddhism, inviting anyone who happened to be wandering the floor that afternoon.

A warm and still atmosphere fell over the room as the members of the group began to chant "NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO" with hands pressed in prayer form in front of their faces.

According to the SGI, the chant connects the ideas of devotion, mystic law, cause and effect, and sound/vibration.

When spoken, a powerful feeling of centering and focus is seen on the faces of the group members. Serene is too simple a word to illustrate the mood.

"I feel tranquility and inner peace when I chant," Holly Schmidlapp said. Holly has been chanting and practicing the Lotus Sutra for four years.

"I use it to break away the inner darkness," she said.

This particular form of Buddhism - Nichieren Buddhism along with the Lotus Sutra - is a dynamic philosophy grounded in the realities of daily life.

The practice leads to empowerment and inner transformation or "inner evolution."

According to this sutra, or sermons of the Buddha, all people can posses sthis Buddha Nature, a state of inner freedom, which allows the person to change the value of any situation in their daily life.

If they can cultivate their good cause, then there will be a good effect, therefore changing their karma circle and ultimately their destiny.

"True happiness is the ability to face any obstacle and overcome it," Liz Joyce said when explaining how the chant centers her life. "Enlightenment comes from being grounded in reality."

Richard Rodriguez, who led the group in the chant for this meeting, claims that reaching Buddha Nature or your highest potential is an inner journey.

"Chanting reveals that higher self more readily," Rodriguez said.

The group has grown tremendously in the last four years, with practicing members of 25 years and a few newcomers who stumbled over the language of the chant.

The group is small, no more than 15 people. A member even came from Montpelier for this week's meeting.

"I would invite the community to get a correct understanding of [the Lotus Sutra]," John Gelineau, who has practiced for more than 20 years, said.

"We don't point fingers; we are looking at ourselves for that deep change," he said.

The students of the Lotus Sutra take a 13th century ideology and study it to overcome job stress, create the hope of a new love or to ultimately grant everyone the peace they have found within themselves.

"I was just curious … you just have to try it," Liz Joyce said. "You can chant for a green light, a lover, for whatever. Just try it."

Orthodox Spirituality

Ortho-dox: "right, true belief or worship"

In 987, Vladimir I, the pagan prince of Kievan Rus, sent his emissaries to neighboring countries to learn about their religions. For political and spiritual reasons, missionaries from these countries had been urging Prince Vladimir to adopt their religion. His emissaries were unimpressed with Islam, Western Christianity, and Judaism, but when they entered Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and experience the beauty of the Divine Liturgy they are reported to have declared, "We do not know if we are on heaven or earth . . . nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it." Impressed by their observations and for the political advantages conversion to Orthodox Christianity would bring, Vladimir I and his family were baptized in the River Dneiper in 988 and thus Christianizing Kievan Rus.

The story of the conversion of Vladimir illustrates the incarnational and experiential characteristics of Orthodox spirituality. The material world and our experience of it cannot be rejected because Christ is with us in the material. All of creation is good and can lead us to God. Orthodox spirituality is a sensual spirituality. The arresting vision of icons, the haunting sound of Byzantine chant, the billowing clouds of incense, and the humility of our neighbor bent in prayer shows that we are meant to live in Christ, to discover love of God in this world more than intellectual knowledge of the divine. The old ladies lighting candles and kissing icons may not be able to expound upon the doctrine of the Trinity but they know, live, and experience it in their sensual act of prayer.

Theo-sis or divinization

The Word became human so that
we might become God.
-Athanasius of Alexandria

In Genesis we read that we are made in God's image and are meant to dwell with our creator. But thrown from the Garden, we wander far forgetting our true home. It is as if we are blind stumbling in the dark. In Jesus Christ, however, God incarnate dwells with us so that we might remember who we are made to be and live again. Christ conquers death and by the power of the Holy Spirit we, with Christ, are led back home.

Whereas Western Christianity has predominately used legalistic and economic metaphors (ransom, satisfaction, debt) to describe salvation, Eastern Christianity has emphasized healing and transformation (theo-sis). Death and corruption are as much a consequence of the Fall as sin and it is from death and corruption that all of creation is rescued, healed, or redeemed. Christ spits on the earth, rubs the mud on our blind eyes, and we can see again. Out of pure love, God in Christ through the Holy Spirit makes us whole. This is theo-sis, the lifelong and dynamic pilgrimage of love towards union with God. The more we love, the more we practice humility, the more we empty ourselves, the more we are just and merciful, the more we are attentive, the more we are like God, then the more we are human.

Kataphatic and apophatic

Scholars of spirituality have used the Greek terms, kataphatic and apophatic, to generally describe different approaches to mystical experience and our pursuit of God. Kataphatic spirituality refers to a positive way of approaching God by focusing on God's actions or energies in the world and the use of analogy to describe God. It stresses God's movement in creation and the use of our senses, imagination, and intellect to experience that movement. Though often associated with Western Christianity as exemplified by the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, it is also evident in Eastern Christianity in the use of Icons for prayer and the sensual experience of the Divine Liturgy.

Apophatic spirituality emphasizes a negative way to God since our Creator is so completely other nothing we say of God can truly describe God's essence. Instead of using analogies to describe God, apophatic spiritualitywithholds description of our transcendent God and rather attempts to strip the mind of images and even words in order to draw closer to the divine. We find apophatic spirituality in the East in the spiritual writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa (Life of Moses), the Hesychasts of the fourteenth century and their practice of the Jesus Prayer but we will also find it in the West in the work of the anonymous English mystic (The Cloud of Unknowing) and the sixteenth century Spanish Carmelite, John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul).

Neither approach is superior to the other and both are at work in each person's journey towards God.


from the Greek word hesuchia (quiet or stillness)

Following Paul's injunction to the Thessalonians (pray without ceasingI Thess. 5:1), hesychasm seeks a life of constant prayer through a stillness of heart by which we may interiorly experience our true God. This experience of God, according to St. Gregory of Palamas (hesychasm's primary advocate), is not of God's essence which will always remain unknowable but of God's created and uncreated energies, God's divine grace and power at work in creation in which we can participate. Hesychasts strip their intellect (nous) of images lowering it into their heart (St. Gregory of Sinai) through the practice of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me.) The hope is that through constant repetition of the words of the Jesus Prayer, attentiveness to bodily posture and our breathing, we will become a wordless prayer experiencing God's divine energy and shining with light of Mt. Tabor (the Transfiguration).


An icon is not primarily a work of religious art but rather a prayer, a sacramental means of God's grace. The worshiper is surrounded by these "windows unto heaven" where she looks into the eyes of the saint or the Mother of God and they look back at her and together they sing praises to God. The person depicted is joined with our prayer. It's very function is the act of prayer and it is never thought of as mere decoration.

The making of the icon can also be considered an act of prayer for the creator of the icon is participating in the divine act of creation and gives honor to all other acts of creation: "To make an icon from plaster or cubes of stone, from wood or paint, to sanctify that icon and to incorporate it in the worship of God, is to call down his blessing also upon all other forms of human art and craftsmanship." (Kallistos Ware)

Icons do not realistically depict the world as it is but show us transfigured creation. In the distorted 385px-GregoryNazianzen features of the icon, we see possibility and hope, the eternal glory breaking into our world even now yet still to be fulfilled. The saints and Mary and the depictions of Christ show us what we can become.

Listen to an example of Byzantine chant while viewing examples of icons.

Cherubic Hymn

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Buddhist Monks Share Traditions

Public Invited to Tallmadge to Watch Ancient Rituals

TALLMADGE: The chanting, singing and bell-ringing inside Unity Chapel of Light this week are meant to inspire peace and compassion.

''We want to share some of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and give people a chance to experience our culture and religion,'' said Geshe Gankar Tulka Rinpoche, through a translator. ''We are not promoting Buddhism, but hope that people from other traditions can learn from us and we can learn from them.''

Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Dzindu Monastery in India, and two other Tibetan Buddhist monks will be at the church at 503 Northwest Ave. through Saturday. Their visit is part of a U.S. tour to give the public an opportunity to learn about ancient Buddhist traditions through lectures, prayers and ritual ceremonies. They are also constructing a sand mandala in the church fellowship hall and offering blessings of homes and businesses.

The goal of the tour is to build awareness of Buddhism, to spread the word of love and understanding and to raise money for their monastery and its monks and nuns, who have been exiled from Tibet. The monastery is now based in Mundgod, India.

''I've never met more peaceful, compassionate and loving people who exhibit those qualities in their daily lives,'' said Gloria Ireland, president of the Ohio Metaphysical Society. ''My prayer is that people in our community will be able to connect with their spirit of love and compassion and respond to each other with that same kind of compassion and love.''

Ireland's philosophical group, which meets at Unity Chapel of Light, is co-sponsoring the monks' visit, which is their second visit to the Tallmadge church in four years. Rinpoche said this week's visit has been a time to reconnect with friends.

One of those friends, Bruce Sugarberg, said the monks' visit helps his church promote the message of unity and tolerance. He describes the monks as ''genuinely holy people.

''The Unity movement believes in diversity, We believe all religions are valid and that there are many paths to the same result,'' Sugarberg said. ''We can learn a lot about love, peace, tranquility and selflessness from the monks' teachings.''

The maroon- and gold-clad monks opened their visit on Friday with a presentation on energy healing. Over the weekend, they shared basic teachings of Buddhism and conducted a healing service and an opening ceremony for the mandala. During the ritual ceremony, the monks chanted prayers to bless the ground on which the sand mandala is being built and invited the angels to come and bless the area.

On Monday, the monks visited children in shelters and continued constructing the mandala, made of colorful sands. Its pattern is organized around a unifying center. The mandala represents the universe, or wholeness. The monks will spend many hours over the next several days creating the intricate symbol as a way to educate people about the culture of Tibet.

When it is finished on Saturday, the monks will gather in a ceremony, chanting in deep tones while they sweep their mandala into a jar to be emptied into a nearby body of water as a blessing. The emptying into the water symbolizes the circle of life. The dismantling of the mandala demonstrates the impermanence of life.

''The mandala is a road map for a practitioner to get the divine qualities of compassion and love,'' Rinpoche said through his translator, Tenzin Bhuchung, of Tallmadge. ''The colors represent the elements of earth, wind, fire, water and space. The colors also represent different types of blessings. The white is for purification, the yellow for increasing things like wisdom, and so on.''

The public is invited to view the construction of the mandala 2 to 8 p.m. today and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Rinpoche will teach about meditation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Saturday, a White Tara Empowerment lecture will be presented from 10 a.m. to noon, and a teaching about monastic life in India is 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.

The closing ceremony and dismantling of the mandala is 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. An offering for the monks is being accepted at the door for all events. For a complete list of events or to schedule a blessing or consultation with Rinpoche, call 330-459-3162 or visit http:// www.unitychapeloflight.org.

Rinpoche, who was ordained by the Dalai Lama, is the founder and director of Khacholing Center in Minnesota. "We believe all religious traditions can learn from each other," Rinpoche said. "Our tradition is broad but we hope people understand that the [goal] of Buddhism is to transform our minds from a negative state to a more wholesome, positive state."

By Colette M. Jenkins

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Satan is the Great Deceiver

We have written about the good - now it's time to address Satan, the great deceiver. All over the world that force of evil is acknowledged: in Buddhism he is Mara, in Persia he is Angra Mainyu and in Islam he is Iblis.

George Barna the pollster tells us that 50 percent of Christians do not believe Satan is a real person but only the personification of evil. Consider that many people do not believe in angelic intervention in human affairs because they can't feel any angelic pull, yet who can deny the pull of evil in our lives?

We are not talking about a goatlike being in red long-johns, we are talking about an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14) that attempts to derail our morality every day - often succeeding.

There are 33 different names for Satan, including, devil, adversary, deceiver, belial, evil spirit, serpent, prince of this world, power of darkness, liar and tempter, to name a few. Satan may be compared to a predator (wolf) lurking at the perimeter of the flock, ever alert for the weak animal, the overly brave, the foolish, or the careless, in order to make his kill.

The Apostle Paul, strong character that he was, was susceptible to Satan's influence. In Romans 7:14-24 we read his testimony: "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I..... O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The answer is in chapter 8, verse 1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

Why is Satan permitted to exist and have so much power? Is God unable to destroy him? No, but Satan is permitted to operate for certain reasons best known to God. God is patient, giving men time to turn to Him.

Satan's power consists principally in his ability to deceive. According to the Bible, Satan is fundamentally a liar and his kingdom is founded upon lies and deceit. The antithesis of a lie is truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) and Jesus will prevail. Satan operates only with God's consent and his power is limited. He is doomed to destruction in the latter days - he has only a short-term lease on this life.

Speaking of latter days, I Timothy 4:1 says, "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. We can clearly see that happening today with satanism, the occult, Eastern mysticism, astrology and new age religions. As the saying goes, if you know your enemy, you can defeat him. Be aware of Satan's tricks and live victoriously for God.

Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.

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God Is Not a Repulican

I realize it probably disturbs quite a number of folks out there, but God is not a Republican. In point of fact if God is the wrathful, fear-mongering, obstinate old gruel some of you think He is, you Republicans in many instances have some serious trouble on your hands. So I've been working on this awhile, you see, and I have discovered a salient reality, to wit, God does not care one iota about any of this political nonsense; He simply does not have time, I assure you; except in this one particular sense: If in a political contest you assert that God is on your side, not the other guy's side, you are definitely going straight to hell.

Closely studying this thing called God and religion, the first thing we discover is everybody else is wrong. Verily and forsooth, a fascinating reality this. The major religions of the world, all evolved from great civilizations, are Shintoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, not so many, really. Then there are the two remaining great tribal religions, inordinately martial in spirit and obstinate in nature, Judaism and Sikhism, both surrounded seemingly in perpetuity by enemies. And everybody else is wrong.

Christianity, fragmented as it is, provides us with the ultimate stomping ground for "them and us." The modern model for developing super churches, networking like-minded people, insures that the rules of exclusion become more fundamental, more profound. God is not love, God is fear; and Jesus is the shepherd pointing the way to the collection plate. Believe as I believe, or else, it is not the damnation of your soul that is here at peril, but its very existence; for if you do not believe as I believe, you will experience not just death of the body, but also that of the soul. And I am the arbiter of your fate, the controller of the collection plate, and be I Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic, Episcopalian, Unitarian, or whatever, hear my carny con: "I am right, and everybody else is wrong."

Whoever, whatever God is, He doesn't have time for any of this stuff. There's a whole universe of things going on out there, and any bit of it is more interesting than this malarkey. As manifested by most of these folks God is an old white man with long white hair and a long white beard. You can believe in the George Burns version if you want, but I doubt God would run around in a shriveled old body with arms that can hardly hold up a cigar. I'm not sure why God has to be an old white man, unless maybe it's white men who conjured that image up, but Mother Earth, his regional subcontractor, is definitely all woman, and sometimes a real bitch at that. Best be nice.

So old white man, maybe, who knows. But if He's an old white man with long hair and a long beard, He is not out there saving souls, trying to get Elizabeth Dole re-elected, or terra-forming new galaxies, no no. He's playing golf. There is no other possibility; it has to be golf. Good lord, He's God, He is omnipotent. Everything is as it should be. Chess, He's omnipotent; He beats everyone. But golf is golf. If you cheat, it's not golf. It has to be golf.

There's a universe of golf courses out there, and in His dotage, the Old Man's having a good time. Doubt seriously He even knows what's happening down here, and if He does, He could care less. About the only observation He might make: "With freedom they sure do make a mess of things."

Perhaps somehow it is re-assuring that everybody else is wrong.

David G. Hanger

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Martin Shaw on Exorcising Demons

Judge John Deed and George Gently actor Martin Shaw is set to return to BBC One next week in role “darker” than any his fans have seen before. In Apparitions Shaw plays Father Jacob, a Roman Catholic priest drawn against his will into the world of exorcism.

What kind of character is Father Jacob?
Jacob is a priest who is just trying to do his job, which is to promote people for sainthood. He is undeniably a good man. His bosses feel that he embraces exorcism but he is actually quite wary of it. He feels so strongly that we are all susceptible to the forces of Satan, that there are times when it is the only option.

What attracted you to the role?
Well I had the original idea to play an exorcist and I’ve felt for a long time that we need something very different on television. Nowadays it’s very difficult to find producers who are willing to take a chance on something that challenges the norm but Tony Wood at Lime Pictures was prepared to take that chance and we’ve managed to create something that I think viewers will like, but will also force them to think and engage in the programme rather than view it passively.

This is quite a different role to what viewers will know you for, do you enjoy challenging yourself with different characters?
I not only enjoy it but I think it’s absolutely vital. It’s very easy to forget that acting is actually an art form and you have to train for it. You do need to explore, it’s all too easy just to stay in the same place and stay in the comfort zone

Who do you think is the most intriguing character in Apparitions?
I think all of the characters in Apparitions are very complex and multi-dimensional. Michael (Rick Warden) is particularly intriguing because when we first meet him he is so fully possessed that he doesn’t actually know who he is any more.

His actions, his words – none of it is really him and there are times when he actually wants to be saved from himself. Liam is also an interesting character as initially many people probably wouldn’t consider him to be possessed. He represents the anti-religious views of many people and he is a good father, although he is possessed by demons I feel that the audience will empathise with him in a way that just isn’t possible with Michael.

How have you found filming?
I’ve been working with a great cast, crew, producer and director so you can’t really ask for better than that. We’ve all worked incredibly hard to ensure that we do justice to this fantastic script and create something that is believable.

Which scene did you find most difficult/interesting to film?
The exorcism scenes were possibly the most difficult, particularly as in one of them I was connected to a high wire! I had to be thrown across a room and hit a wall with quite a bit of force so we needed the special effects to make it look completely real. The second exorcism was also interesting as everyone involved in the scene was so submerged in the words and the actions that their reactions were almost instinctive – it almost felt like we were doing it for real!

Does religion and spirituality play a part in your personal life?
Religion doesn’t play a part in my life but spirituality does. I follow a spiritual path which is right at the centre of my life. I believe in God and I have a huge respect and love for all religions so from that respect it plays a part in my life but not the man-made, ceremonial and controversial aspects of religion.

By Staff

Monday, November 03, 2008

Crunch, Zen, Green, and the Buffet

'Life is suffering' is the first noble truth in Buddhism, but it’s a slightly misleading translation of the word 'dukkha' in Sanskrit, which might be better translated as 'stuck-ness'. Imagine a wheel stuck, with an axle that cannot rotate. That’s the state of mind the Buddha was referring to.

It won’t have escaped your attention that the world economy appears to be in a state of stuck-ness at the minute. As usual much of the media is doing their bit to intensify the gloom, and over the past few months, the markets and we have moved from a global economy in crisis to talks of desperation and recession. To a large extent, that is where we are all collectively stuck.

Step forward in the last week or so to Sir Phillip Green and Warren Buffet. Green, the greatest force in British high street fashion, announcing a 40% drop in profits, told people to cheer up." We need people to write the world isn’t closing down."

Warren Buffet is an entrepreneur and philanthropist with an approximate net worth of $60 billion. Although admitting he has no idea which way the markets will go, Buffet has a track record that suggests he has more of an idea than most of us on the planet. His recent comment: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful", was an interesting one, but he used history to back him up. The Dow hit its low of 41 in July 1932, the pit of the great depression. By March ’33 when FDR took office, it was up 30%.

So why are these two bucking the trend? They may both be billionaires, and perhaps not feeling a pinch let alone a crunch like the rest of us, but they speak with conviction and a track record that suggests they are worth listening to.

Zen Master Genpo Merzel illustrates states of mind in his book Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way by way of a triangle. These triangles can be created for almost any scenario, but the one here illustrates what I will call ‘The Crunch Mind’. There’s always a balance to be had - a light with the dark - and then a state that ‘goes beyond’ the two. On your left is the ‘human’ part of us, the part prone to fear. On your right, the ‘being’ part, the infinite. The apex of the triangle is always the perfect combination of the two; it includes each polarity and transcends them, goes beyond. It is the fully integrated ‘human’ and ‘being', free-flowing and ‘unstuck’.

So sit for a minute and experience the fear. To do this you simply become that voice within yourself. Say to yourself “I am fear” and see what comes up. Feel it, and take a few deep breaths. Next simply shift your body slightly, tell yourself “I am no fear” and sit with that. Notice how different that feels. Notice how big you feel, how big you become. And then without getting stuck there, shift your body again and say ‘I am the transcendent’. And feel what that is like.

That’s where we all need to go next, neither stuck in one state or the other, just free-flowing. That is where the wheel is no longer stuck, and we all become Zen masters of the markets.

From Here is the city