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

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

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

There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Scientific and Spiritual Implications of Psychic Abilities

Since ancient times spiritual teachers have described paths and practices that a person could follow to achieve health, happiness, and peace of mind. Considerable recent research has indicated that any sort of spiritual practice is likely to improve ones prognosis for recovering from a serious illness. Many of these approaches to spirituality involve learning to quiet the mind, rather than adhering to a prescribed religious belief. These meditative paths would include all the mystic branches of Buddhism, Hinduism, mystical Christianity, Kabalistic Judaism, Sufism, and many others. What is hinted at in the subtext of these teachings is that as one learns to quiet his or her mind, one is likely to encounter psychic-seeming experiences or perceptions. For example, in The Sutras of Patanjali, the Hindu master tells us that on the way to transcendence we may experience all sorts of amazing visions, such as the ability to see into the distance, or into the future, the ability to diagnose illness, and to cure them. But, we are told not to get attached to these abilities they are mere phenomena standing as stumbling blocks on the path to enlightenment. In this paper we describe the laboratory evidence for some of these remarkable phenomena, and their implications for science, mental health, and peace of mind.


What do the spiritual healer, the mystic, and the scientist all have in common They are all in touch with their interconnected mind as well as their community of spirit. As we move into the new millenium, in every area of human activity we are experiencing a climax in which science and religion are finally becoming coherent in the exclamation of a single unified truth. In my work with remote viewing research at Stanford Research Institute, we observed the in-flow of information that is the hallmark of psychic perception. We also saw an out-flow of intention that plays a part in facilitating distant healing. My purpose here is to show that the in-flow and the out-flow reside on either side of the quiet mind, and that self awareness can arise between these two flows. We have also noticed that narrowly focusing on phenomena, and the seeming omniscience available from ESP may be just a trap that prevents us from discovering who we really are, and what we should be doing. However, as we describe in The Heart of the Mind,1 we are confident that whenever any one person demonstrates an ability beyond the ordinary, it is can be seen as an inspiration to the rest of us, as an indication of an immense and still largely undeveloped human potential.

The scientific and spiritual implications of psychic abilities illuminate our observation that we live in a profoundly interconnected world. The most exciting research in quantum physics today is the investigation of what physicist David Bohm calls quantum-interconnectedness or non-local correlations. It has now been demonstrated repeatedly that quanta of light that are sent off in opposite directions at light speed, maintain their connection to one another, and that each little photon is affected by what happens to its twin, many kilometers away. This surprising coherence between distant entities is called non-locality. In writing on the philosophical implications of nonlocality, physicist Henry Stapp of the University of California at Berkeley says these quantum connections could be themost profound discovery in all of science.

Psychic abilities and remote viewing are demonstrations of our personal experience with such non-local connection in consciousness. Mind-to-mind connections give us expanded awareness, which is entirely consistent with life in a non-local world. Our knowledge of these remarkable abilities allows us to awaken each morning in wonder at the fact that our expanded awareness is not limited by either time or space. And it should have become clear to us by now that although we reside in bodies, there is more to us than skin and bones. Our quiet moments of self inquiry can reveal what thatmore is.

Remote Viewing

Stanford Research Institute (SRI) conducted investigations into the human mind's capacity for expanded awareness, also called remote viewing, in which people are able to envision distant places and future events and activities. For two decades SRI's research was supported by the CIA and other government agencies. I was co-founder of this once secret program which began in 1972. Our task was to learn to understand psychic abilities, and to use these abilities to gather information about the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We have found from years of experience that people can quickly learn to do remote viewing, and can frequently incorporate this direct knowing of the world-both present and future-into their lives.

For a phenomenon thought in many circles not to exist, we certainly know a great deal about how to increase and decrease ESPs accuracy and reliability. Remote viewers can often contact, experience and describe a hidden object, or a remote natural or architectural site, based on the presence of a cooperative person at the distant location, or when given geographical coordinates, or some other target demarcation-which we call an address. Shape, form and color are described much more reliably than the target's name, function, or other analytical information. In addition to vivid visual imagery, viewers sometimes describe associated feelings, sounds, smells and even electrical or magnetic fields. Blueprint accuracy has occasionally been achieved in these double-blind experiments, and reliability in a series can be as high as 80 per cent. For example, the authors recently achieved 11 hits out of 12 trials in such a series2 With practice, people become increasingly able to separate out the psychic signal from the mental noise of memory, analysis, and imagination. Targets and target details as small as 1 mm can be sensed. Moreover, again and again we have seen that accuracy and resolution of remote viewing targets are not sensitive to variations in distance. In 1984 I organized a pair of successful 10,000 mile remote viewing experiments between Moscow and San Francisco with famed Russian healer, Djuna Davitashvili. Djuna's task was to describe where our colleague would be hiding in San Francisco. She had to focus her attention ten thousand miles to the west, and two hours into the future to correctly describe his location. These experiments were performed under the auspices and control of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Ten years earlier, in 1974, my colleague Hal Puthoff and I carried out a demonstration of psychic abilities for the CIA in which Pat Price, a retired police commissioner, described the inside and outside of a secret Soviet weapons laboratory in the far reaches of Siberia given only the geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude for a reference. (That is, with no on- site cooperation.) This trial was such a stunning success that we were forced to undergo a formal Congressional investigation to determine if there had been a breach in National Security. Of course, none was ever found, and we were supported by the government for another fifteen years. As I sat with Price in these experiments at SRI, he made the sketch shown below right, to illustrate his mental impressions of a giant gantry crane that he psychically 'saw rolling back and forth over a building at the target site!

Above right is Pat Price's drawing of his psychic impressions of a gantry crane at the secret Soviet research and development site at Semipalatinsk, showing remarkable similarity to a later CIA drawing based on satellite photography shown at left. Note, for example, that both cranes have eight wheels.

Here is a CIA artist tracing of a satellite photograph of the Semipalatinsk target site. Such tracings were made by the CIA to conceal the accuracy of detail of satellite photography at that time.

Data from our formal and controlled SRI investigations were highly statistically significant (thousands of times greater than chance expectation), and have been published in the world's most prestigious journals, such as Nature, The Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and The Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences. 3 The twenty years of remote viewing research we conducted for the CIA is outlined in Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing, co-authored by Targ and Katra.4

One day, while we were working with Pat Price, he didnt arrive for the scheduled experiment. So, in the spirit ofthe show must go on, I spontaneously decided to undertake the remote viewing myself. Prior to that, I had been only an interviewer and facilitator for such trials. In this series we were trying to describe the day-to-day activities of Hal Puthoff as he traveled through Columbia, in South America. We would not receive any feedback until he returned, and I therefore had no clues at all as to what he was doing. I closed my eyes and immediately had an image of an island airport. The surprisingly accurate sketch I drew is shown below. What we learned from this trial, is that even a scientist can be psychic, when the necessity level is high enough.

Sketch produced by physicist Russell Targ, when he spontaneously took the role of remote viewer in the absence of psychic Pat Price.

This photograph shows the target, which was an airport on an island off San Andres, Columbia. Targ correctly saw, "Ocean at the end of a runway."

Recent research in areas as different as distant healing and quantum physics are in agreement with the oldest spiritual teachings of the sages of India, who taught that 'separation is an illusion. This concept suggests that there is no distance for consciousness, and we have an intuitive inner knowledge of time and space. In fact, we now know that information from the future regularly filters into our dreams one could fairly say that these precognitive dreams indicate that the future affects our past. That is, our dream tonight may sometimes be caused by an event which we will experience at a later time strongly violating our ordinary understanding of causality. In research by the authors, who are respectively a physicist and a spiritual healer, we have been exploring how our mind's ability to transcend the limits of space and time is linked to our now well-documented capacity for distant healing.

We do not yet know the physics underlying psychic abilities. But, researchers in the field of parapsychology agree on the undeniable observation that it is no more difficult to psychically describe a picture or an event in the near future, than it to describe such a target in the present, when it is hidden from view.5It is as though our bodies reside in the familiar four-dimensional geometry of Einstein's space-time, while our consciousness has access to another aspect of this geometry that allows us to find a mental path of zero distance to seemingly distant locations. This is how a physicist expresses such an idea, while mystics for the past three millennia tell us from their experience that 'separation is an illusion and we are all one in spirit, or consciousness. From experimentation in laboratories around the globe, it is clear that we significantly misapprehend the physical nature of the space-time in which we reside. It is this knowledge, together with our experience, that drives our passion to understand and learn more about the universe and the transformational opportunities offered us.

Joseph Campbell is famous for teaching that our lives are fulfilled only when wefollow our bliss or passion. For Thomas Aquinas this passion was pursued through conscious reasoning. He wrote that:

The ultimate human felicity is found in the operation of the intellect, since no desire carries us to such heights as the desire to understand the truth. Indeed all our desires for pleasure or for other things can be satisfied, but the desire to understand does not rest until it reaches God.

However, those who truly understand the truth of God tell us that God can not be understood only experienced.

Distant Mental Influence of Living Systems

More than thirty years of investigations clearly show that one person's thoughts can affect the physiological functioning of another, distant person. We do not yet understand the causal mechanism involved, but the results are indisputable, and have obvious implications for our ability to facilitate healing in others. We take for granted the calming effects that a mother's gentle cooing has on her distressed infant, not really thinking about the effects of her soothing intentions. How do we know that our thoughts affect others A significant body of research now exists demonstrating that one person's focused intentions can directly influence the physiological processes of someone far away.Do unto others as you would have them do unto you takes on new meaning when you realize we are all truly connected, as the following research studies show.

Exciting experiments in the area of Distant Mental Influence of Living Systems (DMILS) have been carried out by psychologist William Braud at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, and anthropologist Marilyn Schlitz, Research Director for the Institute of Noetic Sciences.6 They have repeatedly shown that if a person simply attends fully to a distant person whose physiological activity is being monitored, he or she (acting as a sender) can influence the distant person's autonomic galvanic skin responses. In four separate experiments involving 78 sessions, one person staring intently at a closed-circuit TV monitor image of a distant participant, influenced the remote person's electrodermal (GSR) responses. In these cases no techniques of intentional focusing or mental imaging were used by the influencer. He or she simply stared at the "staree's" image on the video screen during the thirty-second trials which were randomly interspersed with control periods.

In these studies, Braud and Schlitz discovered something even more interesting than this telepathically-induced effect on our unconscious system. They found that the most anxious and introverted people being stared at had the greatest magnitudes of unconscious electrodermal responses. In other words, the more shy and introverted people reacted with significantly more stress to being stared at than did the sociable and extroverted people. Quiet introverts may possess, or have developed, a sensitivity of consciousness that others are less aware of. This experiment gives scientific validation to the common human experience of feeling stared at and turning around to find that someone is, indeed, staring at you.

We are all familiar with the idea of premonition, in which one has an intuitive apprehension of something about to happen in the future usually somethingbad! There is also the experience of presentiment, wherein one has an inner sensation-a gut feeling that something strange is about to occur. An example would be for you to suddenly stop on your walk down the street because you feltuneasy, only to have a flower pot then fall off a window ledge and land at your feet instead of on your head. That, of course, would be a useful presentiment.

In the laboratory, we know that showing a frightening picture to a person produces a significant change in his or her physiology. Their blood pressure, heart rate, and skin resistance all change. This fight-or-flight reaction is called anorienting response. Researcher Dean Radin at the Boundary Institute, in Los Altos, California, has shown in his research that this orienting response is also observed in a person's physiology a few seconds before viewing the scary picture! If ESP were an electro-magnetic phenomenon, this would be called an advanced wave.

In balanced, double-blind experiments, Radin has demonstrated that just before viewing scenes of violence or sexuality, your body apparently reacts to defend itself against the oncoming insult or surprise. However, such strong anticipatory shock reactions did not precede the viewing of a picture of a wastebasket, or flower garden. Of course, fear is much easier to measure physiologically than bliss. Here, it seems, your direct physical perception of the shocking picture, when it occurs, causes you to have a unique-five seconds earlier-physical response. Your future is affecting your past. These intriguing experiments are also described in Radin's comprehensive book The Conscious Universe.

Distant Healing

From the dawn of history certain individuals have been recognized as possessing special healing gifts. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt viewed healers as revered advisors. And it was healers who actually founded the world's great religions: Gautama Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, and the prophet Muhammad were all gifted healers. The earliest Christians were primarily a healing community. And centuries before Jesus, the Hebrew prophets Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah were acknowledged healers; and Moses is said to have healed many Israelites from serpent bites.

Medicine men and healing shamans throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas held some of most esteemed positions in their tribes. In contrast, the progression of Western thought has largely ignored the broad range of mind-to-mind healing that has worked in other cultures. With our reverence for Humanism and Reason, we have much to relearn about the role of consciousness in healing. Only now are we realizing the power of the mind to heal through the scientific method. In recent years, a number of pioneering experiments have explored the role one person's consciousness may have on another person's health.

In his 1993 book Healing Research, psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Benor examined over 150 controlled studies from around the world. He reviewed psychic, mental, and spiritual healing experiments done on a variety of living organisms-enzymes, cell cultures, bacteria, yeasts, plants, animals, and humans. More than half of the studies demonstrate significant healing.8

An important study by Fred Sicher, Dr. Elisabeth Targ, and others was published in the December, 1998 issue of The Western Medical Journal describing healing research carried out at California Pacific Medical Center.9 It describes the positive therapeutic effects of distant healing on men with advanced AIDS.

In this mainstream medical journal the researchers defined non-local or distant healing as an act ofmentation intended to benefit another person's physical and/or emotional well-being at a distance; adding that,It has been found in some form in nearly every culture since prehistoric time. Their research hypothesized that an intensive ten-week distant healing intervention by experienced healers located around the U.S. would benefit the medical outcomes for a population of advanced AIDS patients in the San Francisco area.

The researchers performed two separate, randomized, double-blind studies: a pilot study involving twenty male subjects stratified by number of AIDS-defining illnesses, and a replication study of forty men carefully matched into pairs by age, T-cell count, and number of AIDS-defining illnesses. The participants conditions were assessed by psychometric testing and blood testing at enrollment, after the distant healing intervention, and six-months later, when physicians reviewed their medical charts.

In the pilot study, four of the ten control subjects died, while all of subjects in the treatment group survived. But this result was possibly confounded by unequal age distributions in the two groups.

In the replication study, men with AIDs were again recruited from the San Francisco Bay Area. They were told that they had a fifty-fifty chance of being in the treatment group, or the control group. All subjects were pair-matched for age, CD4 count, and AIDS defining diseases. Forty distant healers from all parts of the country took part in the study. Each of them had more than five years experience in their particular form of healing. They were from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American, and shamanic traditions, in addition to secularbio-energetic schools. Each subject in the healing group was treated by a total of ten different healers on a rotating healing schedule. Healers were asked to work on their assigned subject for approximately one hour per day for six consecutive days, with instructions todirect an intention of health and well-being to the subject they were attending to. None of the forty subjects in the study ever met the healers, nor did they or the experimenters know into which group anyone had been randomized.

By the mid-point of the study neither group of subjects was able to significantly guess whether or not they were in the healing condition. However, by the end of the study, there were many fewer opportunistic illnesses, allowing the healing group to be able to identify itself-with significant odds against chance. Since all subjects were being treated with Triple-Drug Therapy, there were no deaths in either group. The treatment group experienced significantly better medical and quality of life outcomes (odds of 100 to 1) on many quantitative measures, including fewer outpatient doctor visits (185 vs. 260); fewer days of hospitalization (10 vs. 68); less severe illnesses acquired during the study, as measured by illness severity scores (16 vs. 43); and significantly less emotional distress.

Dr. Targ concludes,Decreased hospital visits, fewer severe new diseases, and greatly improved subjective health supports the hypothesis of positive therapeutic effects of distant healing.

The editor of the journal introduced the paper thus:The paper published below is meant to advance science and debate. It has been reviewed, revised, and re-reviewed by nationally known experts in biostatistics, and complementary medicine. We have chosen to publish this provocative paper to stimulate other studies of distant healing, and other complementary practices and agents. It is time for more light, less dark, less heat.

Two other studies of distant healing have been published in prestigious medical journals. In 1988 Dr. Randolph Byrd published in The Southern Medical Journal a successful double-blind demonstration of distant healing. The study involved 393 of his cardiac patients, at San Francisco General Hospital.10 And in 1999, cardiologist William Harris of the University of Missouri in Kansas City, published a similar successful study with 990 heart patients. His paper appeared in The Archives of Internal Medicine.11

Scientists dont yet clearly understand how the mind-stuff of one's own intentions results in the contractions of one's muscles. It remains a mystery, how the invisible mind moves the physical body. But we do know now that it is more powerful than we previously thought. Twentieth century science has documented that our thoughts affect others that we are all interconnected through our consciousness. We arent even alone in experiencing the effects of our own thoughts!

We are actually already hooked up to the psychic Internet Jung'scollective unconscious. But the users are primarily those who have learned to stop their thoughts and rest their attention. They are tuning in to access and affect the exchange of information.

Why Would A Scientist Pray?

Today, many of us are searching for a comprehensible spirituality, one in which experience takes primacy over religious belief. It is evident that a person need not believe or take on faith anything about the existence of universal spirit, because the experience of God is a testable hypothesis, as we describe below. However, philosophical proof is not our purpose. Rather, we have become aware that this experience is available to anyone seeking a spiritual life who at the same time desires to remain a critical and discerning participant in the twenty-first century. We can include God in our lives without giving up our minds, if we can transcend our usual analytical thoughts and learn to become mindful. A scientist might pray, or search forthe peace which passes understanding as a way to experience the truth without conscious thought.
In his 1939 essay 'science and Religion, Albert Einstein suggested that we each have the potential for a greater awareness of truth than analysis alone can offer:Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends. But, the ultimate goal itself, and the longing to reach it, must come from another source.

Wisdom teachers throughout history have shown that the experience of God is possible without belonging to a church or following a religion, as long as one's basic motive is to discover truth. Dr. Herbert Benson recently proposed that we our bodies and our brains arehard-wired for God. By this he means that throughout the past twenty-five hundred years from Buddha, Jesus, and the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Hassidic Judaism), to such poets as Rumi, Blake, and Emerson mystics have shared a common experience that is actually available to us all. In all the mystic paths, the experience of God is celebrated, rather than the belief in God, or the religious ritual. The Sufi poet Rumi shared his thoughts which arose after experiencing his own divinity:

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.

Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing

I have no idea.

My soul is from elsewhere, Im sure of that,

And I intend to end up there.

Whenever we sit peacefully and quiet our mind, we have an opportunity to experience an oceanic connection with something outside our separate self. To many, that connection is experienced as an overpowering feeling of love, and it may well constitute part of our evolutionary process as a species.

This feeling of universal love, without any particular object, is often associated with the realization that we reside within an extended community of spirit enveloping all living beings. Such feelings of unbounded interconnected consciousness have been described by many as an experience of God. The gift of a quiet mind allows us to understand what it means to be in love, like being immersed in loving syrup, as contrasted with being in love with another person. It is possible to reside in love (or gratitude) as a way of life. This experience is the source of the often-heard expression thatGod is love, which in an ordinary context is easily dismissed as a simple clich, or worse, as not even comprehensible.

These oceanic, loving, peaceful experiences are examples of the compelling feeling ofoneness that mystics have been urging us to explore for millennia. Jesus called this state of awarenessthe peace that passes all understanding, and akingdom which is not of this world. Hindus call itbliss, or ananda. And Buddha called it a state ofno-mind, meaning the absence of thoughts disrupting awareness of indivisible unity.

This state is available to us now, while we reside in the world, whether or not we know or follow any religious teachings. Psychologist Joan Borysenko has written,When the heart is open, we overcome the illusion that we are separate from one another.

The Path Of Self Inquiry

Early in the twentieth century, two of the world's greatest logicians, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Alfred Ayer attempted to describe the physics and metaphysics of what can be known about reality. These Logical Positivists proclaimed that nothing meaningful could be said about God, because no experiment could be designed to either prove or disprove (verify or falsify) whatever one might say. But, by the end of their lives, both Wittgenstein and Ayer were willing to seriously examine the idea that the experience of mystics might actually be considered data something observable in an experiment. In fact, in Wittgenstein's last book, On Certainty, he gave primacy to experience over theory. This pre-eminent logician tells us,The solution to the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.

For thousands of years, various wisdom teachers have presented a world view to all who will listen. They have described a 'sit down and be quiet practice that is available for all to observe and experience. They then invite us to examine our experience, and see if it corresponds with their teaching. Ultimately, this seems like an acceptably scientific, empirical approach to spirituality.

Thirty years ago national U.S. magazines proclaimed on their covers thatGod is dead. Today, we would say that God is neither alive nor dead, but rather manifesting as activity in consciousness-transcending and transforming one's ordinary awareness. God is an active personal experience rather than a distant entity in the sky. Our five familiar senses bring us data of the material world, while filtering out and limiting our exposure to the wider, transcendent world of active awareness available to the quiet mind. The direction of our attention is the most powerful tool we have to transform our lives.

After centuries of academic bombast, we are finally coming to recognize how tentative so-called scientific truth really is. In a scientific world increasingly governed by so-called laws ofindeterminacy (Werner Heisenberg) andnonlocality (John Bell) in physics andincompleteness (Kurt Gdel) in mathematics, we are beginning to find room for the experience of God.

Philosopher Ken Wilber makes this point with great force in his book Quantum Questions.12 He asserts convincingly that although physics will never explain spirituality, the spiritual realms may be explored by the scientific method:

The preposterous claim that all religious experience is private and noncommunicable is stopped dead by, to give only one example, the transmission of the Buddha's enlightenment all the way down to present-day Buddhist masters (which allows it to be experienced and discussed today).

Wilber describes three different, but equally valid, avenues of scientific empiricism: The eye of the flesh, which informs us about the world of our senses; the eye of the mind, which allows us access to mathematics, ideas, and logic; and the eye of contemplation, which is our window to the world of spiritual experience. None of these approaches suggest that we must embrace any body of dogma, or that we need to integrate Santa Claus into a scientific view of the modern world. They do, however, invite us to look beyond our thinking mind to discover who we are.

People everywhere are searching for ways to bring meaning into their stressful lives. Our days are filled with an increasing number of activities, and a decreasing amount of time in which to do them. We look for happiness through the acquisition of things. We want things, and we want them desperately. We want them now, and we want them to last forever. Despite owning more possessions than any people in history, despite our advanced learning, sophisticated communication and technological apparatus, our lives often seem overshadowed by feelings of isolation, despair, and powerlessness. And we feel this during the greatest period of prosperity and good health in history. We seem unable to change the course of our individual lives, our communities, or our environment, where life often seems hopelessly threatened. This frustration occurs because our wealth and all its distractions cannot substitute for what is really essential our ability to take control of our own minds, and investigate the source of our consciousness.

The Perennial Philosophy first described by Aldous Huxley is the thread of universal truth that permeates all the world's spiritual traditions. It teaches us that alongside the actions we take to improve our world, we also have the opportunity to experience either unity and peace, or isolation and fear. And from the ancient Hindu Vedas, as well as the contemporary teaching of A Course in Miracles, we learn that we give all the meaning there is, to everything we experience. While we cant always control the events around us, we do have power over how we experience those events. At any moment, we can individually and collectively affect the course of our lives by choosing to direct our attention to the aspect of ourselves which is aware - and through the practice of self inquiry, to awareness itself. We can ask,Who is aware and then,Who wants to know The choice of where we put our attention is ultimately our most powerful freedom. Our choice of attitude and focus affects not only our own perceptions and experiences, but also the experiences and behaviors of others. Spiritual teacher Gangaji, who points to the path of self-inquiry, reminds us that we arealready completely whole, totally free, and permanently at peace. She suggests that we are beings of consciousness, participating in what the authors would call non-local awareness. She writes:

What is choiceless is the truth of who you are. Choice lies in the mind's ability to either deny that truth or accept it That choice is free will. You are naturally consciousness You are naturally one with God. 13

Mahatma Gandhi taught thatThe only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts. That is where the battles should be fought. Heaven and Hell are available for the asking, but no experience can take place in our lives except in our consciousness, and with our agreement. A master told his student:You dont have to look for God. God is here now. If you were ever here, you would see him.

We conclude that the scientific and spiritual implications of psychic abilities are evident in the continually unfolding mystery of the space-time in which we live. And a quiet mind has the opportunity for experiencing itself as love that is timeless, eternal, and unseparated by our bodies.

If one wishes to investigate this perennial experience, he or she can follow the suggestions offered by A Course in Miracles which, like the Vedas, teaches that walking with God is like surrendering to gratitude, or the experience of oneness that is available at all times. It is not talking about self-improvement, but rather self-realization. It has the following to say about the purpose of this surrender-and the life-changing power of transcendence packed into the simple-seeming idea thatI rest in God:

This thought will bring you the rest and quiet, peace and stillness, and the safety and happiness you seek. This thought has the power to wake the sleeping truth in you whose vision sees beyond appearances to that same truth in everyone and everything there is. Here is the end of suffering for all the world, and everyone who ever came and yet will come to linger for a while. Completely undismayed, this thought will carry you through storms and strife, past misery and pain, past loss and death, and onward to the certainty of God.

Russell Targ and Jane Katra, Ph.D

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Buddhist cultural festival launched in Britain

The first ever arts and cultural festival drawing on Buddhist cultural traditions has been unveiled in Britain.

The festival, known as The Many Faces of Buddhism, is held in London at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum and the Barbican Center in collaboration with the Hong Kong-based philanthropic organization -- Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Highlights of the festival include an International Forum on Buddhism and the Arts Today held last Saturday, the opening of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery at the V&A, performances of Buddhist sacred dance, and the first International Buddhist Film Festival in London.

The new Buddhist sculpture gallery which is to open to the public on Wednesday is the first such gallery in Britain. It features treasures from the V&A's world class collections ranging from monumental Chinese temple sculptures to tiny portable gilded Buddhas.

The 50 or so sculptures created between AD 200 and 1850 are arranged in geographic groupings demonstrating the diversity of artistic expression throughout Asia, and reflect the differing Buddhist practices of India, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas, Myanmar, Java, Thailand, China and Japan.

The new gallery includes an 18th-century monumental gilt bronze seated Buddha from China's Tibet, a powerful 7th-century marble torso of the Buddha from Tang Dynasty of China and the head of Buddha, once carved directly into the rock face of a 6th-century cave temple complex at Xiangtangshan, northern China.

The International Buddhist Film Festival will showcase over 40 films from 18 countries, including 27 UK premieres from May 7 to 17.

At a press preview of the new gallery held at V&A on Monday, Robert Yau Chung Ho, director of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, said: "The objective of the Foundation is to support broadly Chinese arts and culture. We sincerely hope that our audience for the Many Faces of Buddhism Festival will begin to appreciate Buddhism's rich enduring history and message and through it will find new ways of experiencing and approaching the world."

The festival will run through May 17.

Xinhua News Agency

First Buddhist cultural festival launched in Britain

The first ever arts and cultural festival drawing on Buddhist cultural traditions has been unveiled in Britain.

The festival, known as The Many Faces of Buddhism, is held in London at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum and the Barbican Center in collaboration with the Hong Kong-based philanthropic organization -- Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Highlights of the festival include an International Forum on Buddhism and the Arts Today held last Saturday, the opening of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery at the V&A, performances of Buddhist sacred dance, and the first International Buddhist Film Festival in London.

The new Buddhist sculpture gallery which is to open to the public on Wednesday is the first such gallery in Britain. It features treasures from the V&A's world class collections ranging from monumental Chinese temple sculptures to tiny portable gilded Buddhas.

The 50 or so sculptures created between AD 200 and 1850 are arranged in geographic groupings demonstrating the diversity of artistic expression throughout Asia, and reflect the differing Buddhist practices of India, Sri Lanka, the Himalayas, Myanmar, Java, Thailand, China and Japan.

The new gallery includes an 18th-century monumental gilt bronze seated Buddha from China's Tibet, a powerful 7th-century marble torso of the Buddha from Tang Dynasty of China and the head of Buddha, once carved directly into the rock face of a 6th-century cave temple complex at Xiangtangshan, northern China.

The International Buddhist Film Festival will showcase over 40 films from 18 countries, including 27 UK premieres from May 7 to 17.

At a press preview of the new gallery held at V&A on Monday, Robert Yau Chung Ho, director of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, said: "The objective of the Foundation is to support broadly Chinese arts and culture. We sincerely hope that our audience for the Many Faces of Buddhism Festival will begin to appreciate Buddhism's rich enduring history and message and through it will find new ways of experiencing and approaching the world."

The festival will run through May 17.

Xinhua News Agency

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are Atheists Spiritual?

As I was looking into many of the various religious groups here in Seattle, I ran across a group that calls themselves, Seattle Atheists. In fact, you may have seen their ads on Metro busses around town. Their quote is a Thomas Jefferson quote, “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

After having read Christopher Hitchens book, God is not Great, and Bertrand Russell’s book Why I’m not a Christian, I’m more convinced than ever that atheism is a legitimate form of spirituality and that atheists are spiritual. I imagine I’m going to get spanked from all sides, but I really think this is true.

I see spirituality not as a ‘search for God,’ but more as a search for our connection to the greater Universe around us. How do we fit into the thing called life? I saw that question asked over and over again in those two books. Many, in fact, most, have tried to tie God to that search for various reasons, and that has tripped us up and divided us for years… millennia. When we added God we added our ‘version’ of God, and then the Universe itself wasn’t allowed to speak for itself.

I think we all agree that there is a connection. We’re connected to the Universe. We all need air to breath, we need to eat to keep up energy, and we need water to keep ourselves hydrated. We rely on the Earth spinning around the sun and the Universe supporting the Earth. We also recognize that we are affected by the people around us as well. In order for us to survive, we must learn to get along. Both of these books were asking those questions, using science as their yardstick, not religion. But the question was the same… how are we connected to the Universe. Science itself is just that, the giant question, how does the Universe work, and how do we fit in.

For that reason, in my opinion, atheists and agnostics are still spiritual beings, though I don’t think they would appreciate being called that. I think it’s safe to assume, regarding what we know, that we don’t really know what we know and we don’t really know what we don’t know. So in essence science is about figuring out what we do and don’t know. But Albert Einstein noticed that when you increase the circle of what you know, you also increase the circle of what you don’t know. It’s a paradox.

Everything that currently exists in regard to technology and industry comes about because we figured out how it was connected and interconnected. Our biggest challenge is also our biggest asset at this moment, though I’m not totally sure that we see it. Diversity. This diversity is good for us, but it’s also difficult because we haven’t yet figured out how to make it work for us. Even among all these groups, at the very bottom of it all (or at the top if-you-will) we’re all asking the same question: what is this thing called the Universe and how do I fit in? That’s spirituality.

Ben Tousey

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Selection of Spiritual Journeys

From the tops of Machu Picchu, to the rose-red rock of Petra’s canyon-like Siq, to the divinely-inspired churches of northern Ethiopia, there are plenty of places on earth that inspire. If you’re looking for a holiday with a spiritual element, here are a few suggestions:

Korean retreat
Live like a monk at the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Centre. Located two hours from Seoul, this 12-year-old Buddhist temple was designed for foreigners looking to study the religious philosophy of Zen Buddhism. Visitors sleep on traditional Korean cots, wake up at the crack of dawn (3:45 a.m., to be exact), slip into itchy grey training suits, eat simple food, wash their own dishes and meditate many times a day.

Sun rise in Namibia
Bordering South Africa and Botswana, Namibia is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the desert, and where rich wildlife and traditional African culture meet some of the world’s most stunning sunrises. A popular tourist activity is climbing up Dune 45, one of Namibia’s many natural sand castles. The hike along the ridge isn’t easy, but it’s all worthwhile when you see the sun’s warm, orange light illuminate the 80-million-year-old Namib Desert.

Get enlightened in India
Rishikesh, a holy city in northern India, is a place many travellers go to find themselves. It’s a wildly popular spot on the banks of the Ganges River that draws Hindu pilgrims, new-age hippies, young Israeli backpackers and wise Babas who spend their days in the lotus position. Located some 200 kilometres from Delhi, this self-proclaimed yoga capital of the world is packed with meditation centres, ash­rams, Ayurvedic massage parlours, vegetarian rest­aurants and spiritual communities. With its nightly ceremonies along the river and vibe of collective spirituality, there’s something magical about Rishikesh.

Fountain of youth
For a look at the cradle of Incan civilization and a taste of her sacred waters, head to Isla del Sol on the shores of Bolivia’s sacred Lake Titicaca. On the south end of the island, walk up 200 steps to a sacred spring that’s said to be the fountain of youth. A sip of the water is not only refreshing, it’s an important part of Incan tradition. Lake Titicaca is also the highest navigable body of water in world — which means you may have difficulty differentiating between your own spiritual enlightenment and good old-fashion altitude sickness.

By Julia Dimon

Talk on Sustainability and Spirituality at College

Stony Brook Southampton will continue its Sustainability Speaker Series on Tuesday, April 28, with a talk and drumming session led by professor, shaman and environmental activist Peter Maniscalco in the Duke Lecture Hall at 7 p.m.

Mr. Maniscalco’s topic will be “Environmental Studies, Science, and Spirituality,” and he will address the separation of human nature and Mother Nature and the effect on climate change. The presentation will also include a “shamanic drumming” experience outside the hall, weather permitting. The event is free and open to the public.

Mr. Maniscalco is among the many people working to achieve environmental sustainability who believe that the various environmental issues we face today are symptoms of a far deeper, spiritual issue. He has studied and experienced shamanic ceremonies in the U.S., Mexico, and in the Amazon jungle, where he gained insight on how to become a responsible member of the Earth community.

Based on his years of experiential learning with shamans, Mr. Maniscalco created a course that he taught for seven years at Southampton College, “Spirituality of the Environment.” He taught other environmental classes and also served as the college’s first Environmental Coordinator. The Manorville resident is a Rutgers University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics and city planning; he is currently a master’s degree candidate.

From 27 East

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tibetans craft seat of honor for Dalai Lama

In the basement and driveway of a humble Malden house, the carpenters are building a throne.

Across town, in Medford, a lab technician spends his nights sewing embroidered silk for the drapery.

Three Tibetan-American men, two of them former monks, have devoted much of the last month to constructing the 9-foot high chair on which a cross-legged Dalai Lama will sit for a pair of lectures at Gillette Stadium next month.

The resulting throne is the most visible manifestation of the efforts by Boston's small Tibetan community to prepare for the Dalai Lama's four-day visit to the region, which begins April 29. But the throne also sheds light on the unusual backstories of local Tibetans, many of whom escaped difficult lives in Tibet or lived in exile in India before arriving in the United States.

The needleworker, Kunga Namgyal, leads the ordinary life of a research scientist at Shire, a biopharmaceutical company. But Namgyal is also the son and grandson of famed Tibetan tailors - his father was a tailor for the Dalai Lama - and now, at night, when he can steal time from playing with his son and dining with his wife, he sits on the floor by a china cabinet filled with Buddha statues and tries to remember what his own dad taught him about sewing.

One gem: While conventional sewing often involves pointing a needle away from the artisan, Tibetan Buddhists sew with the needle pointing toward themselves, to symbolize compassion for others who won't get poked.

The financial backer of the $5,000 throne, Lobsang Paljor, was a farmer and nomad in Tibet who in 1985 became a monk there; he fled to India in 1987 and in 1991 moved to the United States. After six years selling carpets, he started Tibet Construction Inc. in 2000.

The carpenter, Kunga Lhatse, plied his trade in Lhasa before escaping to India and then moving in 2002 to the United States. He now is a member of Paljor's 12-man crew.

"For me, his holiness, the Dalai Lama, represents Tibet," Lhatse said, via a translator. "He is like a teacher or a parent."

The Dalai Lama, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the spiritual and political leader of Tibetan Buddhists and leads a government in exile from Dharamshala, India. Also called Tenzin Gyatso, the 73-year-old lama is believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be a reincarnation of previous Dalai Lamas; he is the 14th man to hold the title.

The throne is a conventional element of the stages from which the Dalai Lama teaches about Buddhism to large crowds. When he gives a more conventional lecture or meets with scholars, as he will do at several events in Boston and Cambridge before the Foxborough sessions, he sits in a chair.

"In our religious tradition, you show respect to your teacher, and that's why he is put on the highest pedestal," said Lobsang Sangay, coordinator of the Dalai Lama's visit to Boston and also a research fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

Often institutions hosting the Dalai Lama borrow a throne from another community, but the Boston-area Tibetan community, now thought to number about 600, saw itself as mature enough this year to construct a throne. After the Dalai Lama's visit, the chair is intended to be a central element of a local Tibetan heritage center that the community hopes to construct in the area.

The throne is made of hand-carved teak - there is a single gold throne, in Lhasa - and the one built for Boston has carved into it the eight "auspicious symbols" of Buddhism: images of a parasol, fish, vase, lotus, conch, knot, wheel, and victory banner. The silk drapery features an image of a dorje, a small scepter traditionally associated with Tibetan Buddhist lamas.

"The Dalai Lama has been to Massachusetts several times, but this is the first time the Tibetan Association of Massachusetts is hosting it, and that reflects that we are now more organized and capable," Sangay said.

The six previous visits have been hosted by local universities and interest groups, he said. "For many of us, it is like a lifelong dream coming true, to be able to host your spiritual and temporal leader."

Michael Paulson

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parallel Seventeen Bids a Happy Birthday to Buddha

buy dashboard buddha








Zone in on your zen (and blow off tax day) on Wednesday, April 15, when Parallel Seventeen, the modern Vietnamese restaurant at 1600 East 17th Avenue, rolls out a special a la carte menu to celebrate the birthday of Oh, Ye Great Buddhist, Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, who was born on April 8, 1029 BC (by most estimates, anyway) and died eighty years later (reportedly from eating rotten food) on February 15, 949 BC.

Buddha's birthday is observed all over the world. In Vietnam, it's marked by parties and parades.

At Parallel Seventeen, you'll have to settle for food pickings from exec chef Mary Nguyen. Buddha and Buddhists are predominantly vegetarian, although someone, somewhere,allegedly proffered a saying that Buddhists will eat whatever's offered...so apparently they're flexible. And so is Nguyen's happy birthday to Buddha menu, which runs through April 18.

Here's the dish:

Diver scallops, tomato and ginger relish
Green papaya and mango salad
Wonton-wrapped prawns
Saigon sizzling crepes

Rice noodle rolls
Coconut-encrusted cod with mango chutney, cilantro coulis, pea tendrils and poached apricots
Pan-seared snapper with braised lotus root and lemongrass ratatouille
Bamboo steamer basket
Udon noodles with a red curry coconut sauce

Pear three ways
Coconut soup with lemongrass, tapioca, adzuki and mung beans

To reserve your spot, call 303-399-0988.

By Lori Midson

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tibetan Buddhism's Permanent Home

With hope of return to Tibet diminishing, Dharamsala takes on the trappings of permanency

After 50 years of exile and an uncertain future at best, this Indian hill city of Dharamsala in the North Indian state of Himal Pradesh is increasingly looking like the last stop for the thousands of Tibetans who settled here after their 1959 flight to escape Chinese domination.

Many in Dharamsala hoped that 2009 would be a watershed year in which some form of détente would take place with the Han Chinese. But if anything the Chinese have become more intractable than ever over any hint of negotiations. The Dalai Lama himself, who can often be seen on the streets, said recently that: "I have spent most of my life in this hill station. Now I feel like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh."

Given Chinese intransigence, it appears unlikely that many will ever go back. The Chinese believe they have beaten the 74-year-old head of the Tibetan religion, and will be able to name his successor, reincarnation or no reincarnation. Thus life in the exile capital has come more into a pattern, with more and more Tibetans coming to consider the old British hill station a permanent base, located as it is in the middle of a populous Hindu community.

At least 125,000 of Tibet's 2.8 million citizens have fled the remote Himalayan kingdom to establish communities as far away as Canada and Switzerland. Massive Tibetan temples have sprouted in the remote forests of Northern California above San Francisco and in New York. Hundreds of Tibetan communities thrive in Europe and the United States.

India's Prime Minister Pandit Nehru gave the Dalai Lama and his government the leftover British Raj palace in Dharamsala, which translated means religious abode, and which increasingly they have translated into a Tibetan community, with Tibetan architecture and Tibetan cultural rhythms.

Dharamsala remains the biggest overseas Tibetan community, with 30,000 Tibetans slowly taking over. The semi-nomadic Gaddi, once the dominant ethnic group, have struggled hold onto their culture and language. At first poverty-stricken and with no jobs, the Tibetans have slowly swamped the local population with their rich culture and their God-King, bringing with them the attention of the world and the thousands of seekers of enlightenment who swarm the place. Tibetans now outnumber Indians, with Tibetan monasteries, schools, refugee camps, and education centers putting their distinct architectural and cultural stamp on the town.

A second, smaller settlement exists at Bylakuppe in Karnataka state. With some 11,000 residents, it has also sprouted numerous monasteries, nunneries and temples including the huge Lugsum Samdupling established in 1961, and the Dickyi Larsoe, established about a decade later. Both appear as if they were transported brick by brick from Tibet. Both Dharamsala and Bylakuppe were established on land leased by Indian governments to accommodate the refugees who fled in 1959.

Dharamsala itself is actually divided into two urban areas. The first is Upper Dharamsala, or McLeod Ganj, sometimes called Little Lhasa, where most Tibetans live in little crowded streets and where the Dalai Lama has his residence just opposite the Tsuglag Khang, or central cathedral in the Dhauladhar mountains. The second is the largely Indian Lower Dharamsala just kilometers down the road, so different from Upper Dharamsala as to nearly produce culture shock.

Unlike the isolated and severe city of Lhasa in Tibet, where only a handful of tourists ever get to, an eclectic crowd throngs Upper Dharamsala, making it a unique ecosystem, a cosmopolitan town of espressos cafes and Web-surfing monks and mountain lovers. It has become a global node for pilgrims, hippies and backpackers swarming into the city to seek enlightenment through Tibetan Buddhism. Tourism has brought yoga classes and spiritual retreats and the adventure of hiking the Himalayas.

In the hills Tibetan prayer flags, maroon-robed chanting monks and variegated Tibetan life are everywhere. Monks perform their daily routines, with men and women doing daily work in patterns developed centuries ago in Tibet. The town throngs with small Tibetan-run cafes and bustles with activity such as volunteering to teach young students and monks Buddhism courses. Protest flags against the Chinese are everywhere, along with Free Tibet billboards. Monks and nuns outnumber tourists and revelers, performing hunger strikes on every major holiday, hoping against hope that the world will do something for their cause.

However, in a town where Indians and Tibetans share a common platform, life is changing. There seems surprisingly little animosity between Indians and Tibetans despite religious and cultural disparity, particularly the Gaddi, who have lived here for generations, only to see the Tibetans move into a position of economic superiority.

"Hum sab aage badh rahe hain, sabko saath chalna hoga ek ghar ki tarah hai tabhi sabh kush hai (We all are growing, all of us have to be as a family then only we all live happily)," said Ramesh, an Indian taxi driver in Hindi.

Tibetan children learn both Hindi and Tibetan in school, the first to prepare them for a life in which they may never go back to the homeland they have never seen and are increasingly likely never to.

While daily life appears to be endless obeisance to the Tibetan religion, with prayer wheels spinning endlessly, in actuality many feel they are becoming more Indian.

"I live more like an Indian now, the only difference I see is just my religion, the rest is the same," said Lobsang, a middle-class Tibetan.

Neither Tibetans nor Indians have found themselves completely secure in the mixture of culture and religion. Instances of intermarriage are rare although with the cultures growing together, they are expected to increase.

Dharamsala, the Tibetans say, is not their true home but feel it has a lesson. Tenzin, an elderly monk says: "We Tibetans have left our homeland in search of freedom and the desire to live our lives as we see fit. We did so to avoid political oppression and religious persecution. Living in exile has strengthened the resolve of Tibetans to regain their homeland."

For the elderly, pride lies in living in one's own country and not as a refugee. "We are refugees and one day or another we must go back" said an elderly Tibetan woman who fled to India in the 1960s.

For 50 years both Tibetans and Indians have been living, growing and making their bread and butter from this tiny town. Since the poverty-stricken refugees came to make the town a center of Tibetan Buddhism, it is becoming permanent, adding to India's secularism and making Dharamsala unique by imbuing the town with an underlying substance.

And, in the middle of the country that bills itself as the world's biggest democracy, the Dalai Lama has pledged something no Tibetan knew before the hegira to India – representative government. The Chinese have called the exiles' attempts to bring democracy a cynical ploy by the Dalai Lama. But it appears genuine democracy will take root in the Tibetan community. He has established a government in exile, with a prime minister and a legislature elected directly by the people.

Written by Saransh Sehgal

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blessing for the Sun

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Yesterday Jews around the world got up at dawn to recite the Birkat HaHamma, a Blessing for the Sun, a prayer of gratitude to the God that created, well, everything. It happens every 28 years when the sun returns to the point in the sky where, according to the Talmud, God placed it at the moment of creation. As the first rays of sun appear on the horizon, they pray:

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God and God of all the universe, who makes all things in creation.

This year was especially meaningful as the day ended with the beginning of Passover.

We have forgotten the sacredness of these natural cycles; we have forgotten how to pray the Earth. Every religious tradition has at its roots a worship of the presence of the sacred within the unfolding of creation and all its dynamisms — the sun and the moon (oh, did you see that full moon last night!?!?!), the winds and tides, the changing seasons, the four directions, the heavens and the Earth, the planting and the harvests. That we have forgotten these roots is not a sign of our advanced intellect, or the triumph of the rational mind, of science and modernity, over primitive being, but rather a sign of our spiritual impoverishment and false alienation from our true nature — as beings embedded within the Earth and cosmos.

In the pale beauty of the moon’s glow across the early evening sky as it rose from the east, in the western sky Orion was setting, the dog star Sirius following close behind, herald of the emerging spring, a last thrilling dance in the night as it slowly disappears from view, a constellation of the daylight hours from now until August when it will again rise in the eastern sky.

Do we pray these things? Why in the world would God make this creation of such magnificence and beauty if it was not to be observed and honored, to fill us with awe and delight, to get us up in the early morning to address the dawn, “Blessed are You, Adonai, God of all the universe!”

Whether or not one believes in a God who made the world, or sees the evolution of the cosmos as an expression of a Presence within all that is, not apart or separate from it, or does not believe in God at all but sees the cosmos itself as enough to incite reverence and awe — the problem comes when one experiences none of these things, does not SEE creation and does not care, or, worse, looks upon creation as something at the service of the human — as our western traditions so often do…

…because that alienation invites the abuse of creation which we see all around us, along with the results of the abuse in our poor, battered, depleted planet.

Today I read that John Holdren, Prez Obama’s science advisor and a brilliant scientist on climate and other things, is considering shooting cooling pollutants into the atmosphere in a desperate attempt to stop runaway global warming.

And I am stricken again by another sign of all that is wrong with us — we would rather further alter the chemical makeup of the atmosphere (geoengineering, a term that fills me with dread) in a grand experiment whose results we cannot possibly know beforehand, than do the hard work of reorganizing how we live on the planet. We would rather get the economy we know going again, with the same basic patterns of planetary abuse, using engineering to continue undoing the planet’s ecosystems (as we have the rivers and ocean shores and wetlands and soils and genetically altered plants and animals) then do the hard and holy work of learning how to live within the balance and limits of the ecosystems that made all this vibrant life — and us — possible.

So, again, it’s spring. It is a sacred time in the spiritual lives of human beings across the planet. It is a time for renewal and rebirth in that beautiful cycle of life in which we are privileged to participate. However you honor your religious traditions, or if you have none to honor, honor this blessed creation. Reinvigorate within your spirits a sense of your intimate connections with all that is — feel the sense of creation’s energies within your own being, but also all that is being destroyed by our human hubris — because we cannot separate ourselves from that either. As we are aspects of the creation story, both are happening to us.

We can lose the beauty, we really can. It is happening. If we can restore the intimacy of our connections with the natural world, we just might find the passion to save that world before it is altered beyond recognition, beyond that which has for millennia inspired worship and poetry and all that is best in the human spirit.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness in a Buddhist Vehicle

Hello, how are you, my darlings?” Sogyal Rinpoche beamed at his audience, many of whom were students and also included Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, inside a hall at the YDF complex, Thimphu.

“Buddhism is cool, it’s very cool, and meditation at the highest level is chilling out.” What became immediately noticeable about Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the international bestseller, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, was his somewhat funny nature. He joked all the while and continued to refer to his audience as “my darlings”.

But also observable was the warmth and happiness in his eyes. Perhaps, this would have been reassuring to some as he was in Bhutan to talk about how to achieve happiness or inner peace using the Buddhist vehicle.

“What you need to understand isn’t only the outer, but the innermost meaning, which makes Buddhism what it is,” he said. Sogyal Rinpoche began by explaining concepts such as inner peace. “I think this is very much connected with Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness,” he said.

Inner peace may sound lofty and unattainable, reserved for learned monks meditating in a cave for years. But, in fact, the first step towards it was, “very simple: don’t harm others, don’t keep malice, always forgive.”

One of the basic principles of Buddhism is interdependence, the idea that all things are connected. “When you help others, it helps you, when you harm others, it harms you,” he said. Understanding this simple cause and effect process, he said, leads to the next step in Buddhism, the practice of tolerance, non-violence and compassion. This, he repeatedly emphasised, required examining the nature of mind, understanding it and finally “taming” it through meditation.

One of the ways to master this technique was a combination of three methods, what he referred to as, the “unifying practice.” This required gazing at an object of beauty that invoked inspiration and calmed the mind, such as an image of the Buddha or Guru Rinpoche, the sky, a mountain, or even a rock. The other two elements were focusing on the breath or reciting a prayer. Combined, this method, if persisted with, would lead to a calmer and clearer mind and, eventually, inner peace.

Besides providing many more practical meditation techniques, he also translated Buddhist prayers and terminology into English and explained their meanings and purposes.

Throughout his teachings, Sogyal Rinpoche used his tongue in cheek humour to entertain. He frequently teased audience members and made fun of himself. More importantly, he used it to sustain the attention of the audience, especially the youth, whom he was pleased to see in attendance.

He remarked that today’s younger generation in the Himalayan region needed to understand the Dharma in a more practical way. “The offerings, the rituals, some of them are quite putting off as a result of lack of explanation,” he said.

While explaining the concept of emptiness, he noticed some students talking. He gently asked them to keep still. He told them that if they wanted to understand Buddhism, “not only listen with your ears, but with your eyes, your body, your mind and your heart too, then you’ll hear more deeply and not be distracted.”

On the second day of the teachings, Sogyal Rinpoche opened the floor to questions. The first question was on not understanding the Choekyed prayers Bhutanese recited.

Rinpoche answered that change was needed. He said even some monks did not know what they recited. He thought monks firstly needed to educate themselves thoroughly and then become more involved with the community.

They need to come out of the monasteries, he said.

“Can I be frank? Well, even if you don’t want me to, I will. You need to study more, listen to teachings more.”

The Rinpoche, who is also the founder of Rigpa, a network of more than 130 Buddhist centres in 41 countries that presents Buddhism through methods more relevant to modern life, frequently travels the world holding such teachings. Although his visits to Bhutan are infrequent, he said he would come more often as he has received repeated invitations to conduct such teachings.

“I’ll make Bhutan a priority because it’s the only independent Mahayana-Vajrayana nation, it’s a rising nation with such extraordinary promise,” he said.

Rinpoche’s cheerfulness remained constant throughout his teachings. Jigme Dorji, a class 11 Mothitang student, described the teachings as “user-friendly”. Pema Rinzin, a lawyer, said this was his “most fruitful weekend”.

“I wish you all great success, and that Bhutan becomes a peaceful, developed, intelligent, and prosperous nation, but understanding the dharma in a real way is an important and an integral part to the development of Bhutan,” said Rinpoche.

By Gyalsten K Dorji

The Aftermath of Satan

The future appears to be global, and if we want to thrive there, the concept of "pure evil" has to be discarded. As fuel for hostility, nothing is more combustible. After 9/11, angry mobs massing in Baghdad against the U.S. weren't just seen as unemployed young Arab males — they became symbols of unrepentant hatred, while jihadists became evil monsters with no regard for innocent lives. The more evil we projected onto "them," the aliens threatening our safety, the less human they became. If the future becomes global, however, projections of pure evil have no breathing room anymore. Everyone is becoming our neighbor, and with the dissolving of borders, everyone must be seen as human, however angry and extreme their actions.

I think the loosening grip of the Satan myth is a touchstone for change. Two weeks ago I participated in a televised debate on the existence of Satan. Some speakers were still firmly holding on to the traditional image of Satan as a supernatural demigod, rival to the real God, arch enemy of human happiness, and at the most basic level, a personage one can meet face-to-face. Yet whenever I or someone else on my side of the debate suggested otherwise — that evil is rooted in human behavior, that foisting evil off on a mythical figure was a copout from taking responsibility for our own bad impulses — there were positive reactions from the audience.

This and many other signs indicate that Satan is on the wane. We are in the aftermath of the age of faith; church attendance has been steadily declining in the U.S. and Europe for decades. As part of this religious waning, Satan has also declined. So much so that it's hard to remember a time when educated, free-thinking people reserved at least a tiny, secret corner where belief in Satan — or pure evil — resided.

More importantly, a positive kind of spirituality has arisen that doesn't need Satan. He is necessary in the battle for souls that pits good against evil in the scheme of Christianity. Without the threat of damnation, the incentive for salvation is severely weakened. But many cultures have had no need for absolute evil, including the Greeks, Romans, Hindus, and Buddhists. Quite often these cultures had supernatural explanations for bad events (e.g., demons, imps, mischievous and capricious gods), and it is almost universally believed that the afterlife will be different for evildoers and the virtuous. An innate sense of fairness makes it hard to think that wrongdoing doesn't eventually arrive at a just punishment. But millions of people who reject religion or pay it almost no attention lead perfectly well-adjusted lives without the threat of Satan hanging over them.

Of course, there were still some boos when I called Satan a primitive aspect of human belief, tearful pleas for me to come into the light, and even not so veiled suggestions that I was doing the Devil's work. I came away from the debate saddened by the testimonials from fervent believers who claimed to have met the Devil personally or to have barely escaped the fires of damnation. But Satan has lost a lot of his mojo nonetheless. In an age where serial killers are labeled as psychopaths rather than agents of sin, we can examine contributing factors like child abuse, peer pressure, mental disorders, impaired brain function, and other things that fall under the rubric of sick rather than evil. The study of psychology, long rooted in aberrant behavior and neurosis, is itself shifting. The new field of positive psychology has begun to establish what makes people happy instead of what makes them unhappy. This is an important distinction, because instead of being one step away from divine punishment — as everyone must be if all are sinners — we could be one step away from the happiness that is our birthright. In the aftermath of Satan, the expansion of well-being promises to replace the eternal battle between good and evil, which only served to make evil more powerful than it has any right to be.

Deepak Chopra

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spirituality is Not Just a Religious Thing

Our thoughts, our dreams, our emotions… They are such an important part of who we are. They are the things that determine our actions on a minute by minute basis, yet they are an otherwise intangible and integral part of who we are. You cannot physically touch them, only experience them.

Through that experience they can be guided and modified. Our life paths are determined by these untouchable elements that are an undeniable part of what makes us human. They are, by definition, our spirit. Webster’s dictionary uses this description: An immaterial intelligent substance. Spirit is a substance in which thinking, knowing, doubting, and a power of moving do subsist. (Subsist is the same as exist)

That is quite a powerful idea yet one that brings more understanding to the importance of “spirituality” in our lives. If spirit is that thing in us that causes us to act and react in particular fashions then no one is void of being spiritual. I think sometimes we just don’t realize it. However, I would have to guess that it is possible for some to be more so than others.

Let me pose this question to you. Being that the spirit in us is what makes us, “us”, is it reasonable to say that it is something we should take great care of… considering it is the things that causes us to move in one direction or the other?

Let me add in one factor. Webster’s defines spiritual as: relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit. Affecting basically means to have influence to effect change.

So it seems to me that being “spiritual” is really nothing more than personal growth (or lack there of) that effects change in our lives by influencing the way we think and react, thus determining where we go in life.

This is a very liberating idea!! Basically what it says is that because we truly are “spirit” beings, we have complete and total power to determine what happens in our lives and where we go.

So let me challenge you with this… take your “spirituality” seriously! Don’t just let the winds of life whip you aimlessly from one side to the other! Take the bull by the horns and make your determination and hit your destination. If you have questions and need answers… give the Bible a try. You might just find that its not as complicated as you once thought!!

Author: Jeremie Amos