Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meditation Gaining Medical Acceptance

Text: Marilyn Elias (USA Today, 6/30/09)
Vipassana: insight or mindfulness meditation: an ancient Theravada Buddhist practice

Challenges are landing fast and furious on Capitol Hill. So Representative Tim Ryan (Democrat, Ohio) feels he has to arrive at the top of his game every day. And Ryan says he has found a way to do that: He meditates for at least 45 minutes before leaving home.

Ryan, 35, sits on a floor cushion, closes his eyes, focuses on his breath, and tries to detach from any thoughts — just observing them [without mental comment] like clouds moving across the sky — a practice he learned at a retreat.

"I find it makes me a better listener, and my concentration is sharper. I get less distracted when I'm reading," he says. "It's like you see through the clutter of life and can penetrate to what's really going on."

Once thought of as an esoteric, mystical pursuit, meditation is going mainstream. A government survey in 2007 found that about 1 out of 11 Americans, more than 20 million, meditated in the past year. And a growing number of medical centers are teaching meditation to patients for relief of pain and stress.

More than 240 programs in clinics and hospitals teach the same type of meditation that Ryan learned, says Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed mindfulness-based stress reduction 30 years ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Other types, such as transcendental meditation, use a mantra or repeated phrase.

"A colossal shift in acceptance"
Some kind of meditative practice is found in all of the world's religions, says Shauna Shapiro of Santa Clara (California) University, co-author with Linda Carlson of the new book The Art and Science of Mindfulness. Most include focusing attention and letting thoughts and emotions go by without judgment or becoming involved.

Kabat-Zinn credits "a colossal shift in acceptance" to accelerating research on the benefits of meditation. Studies suggest the practice can ease pain, improve concentration and immune function, lower blood pressure, curb anxiety and insomnia, and possibly even help prevent depression. Newer research tools, such as high-tech brain scans, show how meditation might have diverse effects. More>>

Spirit Rock: Class with Jack Kornfield

Notes on Spirit Rock: Visit to Monday evening class with Kornfield
Peter Menkin (SF Religion in the News Examiner, 6/29/09)

Spirit Rock's serene exterior and Jack Kornfield lecturing within (SF Examiner). Spirit Rock's many Buddhas welcome, amuse, and in a sense adorn the 410 acre meditation retreat facility located 30 miles north of San Francisco in rural Marin County, California. View Slideshow

Spirit Rock is not a New Age center per se. Located in San Francisco’s Bay Area (in the Marin County city of Woodacre), Spirit Rock is home to Theravada Buddhists. They are not Zen, Tibetan, or Mahayana Buddhists, as they emphasized. They are Theravada, as is one of their founding members, the American Buddhist teacher and popular author Jack Kornfield.

Many find Spirit Rock a refreshing, spiritual place to visit or to participate in a meditation retreat. This county, southern Marin in particular, is not much for Christian worship, or so says an older study on religious practices in Marin. This tidbit indicates the general religious interest of the Bay Area. One librarian at the Tiburon library says most spiritual and religious books in their library are "New Age." Christian reading isn’t of interest. Jack Kornfield is particularly popular.

Jack Kornfield and one of his many psychology-infused books on Buddhism.

The publisher of After the Laundry, the Laundry (Random House) says: "Enlightenment does exist." Internationally renowned author and meditation master Jack Kornfield assures us. “Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the divine...these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away. "But even after achieving such realization — after the ecstasy — we are faced with the day-to-day task of translating that freedom into our imperfect lives. We are faced with the laundry.

"Drawing on the experiences and insights of leaders and practitioners within the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Sufi traditions, this book offers a uniquely intimate and honest understanding of how the modern spiritual journey unfolds — and how we can prepare our hearts for awakening.”

According to a Marin Independent Journal article, “His books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than a million copies." Kornfield's books include:
  • A Path with Heart
  • After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
  • Teachings of the Buddha
  • Seeking the Heart of Wisdom
  • Living Dharma
  • A Still Forest Pool
  • Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart
  • Buddha's Little Instruction Book
  • The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace

His most recent book is A Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology (or The Wise Heart, which Bantam published in hardcover in April, 2008 and newly released in paperback). This is a short excerpt:

“When we learn to rest in awareness, there’s both caring and a silence. There is listening for what’s the next thing to do and awareness of all that’s happening, a big space and a connected feeling of love. When there is enough space, our whole being can both apprehend the situation and be at ease. We see the dance of life, we dance beautifully, yet we’re not caught in it. In any situation, we can open up, relax, and return to the sky-like nature of consciousness.”

Significantly, many teachers at Spirit Rock emphasize the feminine. For instance, Debra Chamberlin Taylor, writes in their August 2009 Spirit Rock News: I don’t know if there is any other Buddhist center that has a statue of Prajna Paramita [an anthropomorphism, literally the "Perfection of Wisdom"] sitting as an equal beside the Buddha on their main altar. The image of the "Mother of All Buddhas’ clearly communicates Spirit Rock’s intention to honor the feminine.

Some people might ask, "What’s the point? It doesn’t matter because enlightenment has no gender." This is true, but for many people, especially women, seeing the image is significant both consciously and unconsciously. It’s a reminder that females, as well as males, can fully awaken.

The same Spirit Rock News article contains “The Sacred Feminine: Restoring Balance in Challenging Times (Interviews by Walt Opie, Communications Coordinator)” by a yoga instructor who is a novelist (Enlightenment for Idiots) who writes:

Again, it is not an issue of men versus women because I’ve experienced many male teachers who also emphasize these dimensions of practice. But when I’m sitting yoga on a retreat that’s oriented towards the Sacred Feminine, I’m aware of an explicit intention to value the interpersonal aspect of practice; the intimate aspect of practice; the qualities of unwinding and opening rather than dominating and controlling. It’s an approach that emphasizes allowing and being, rather than doing and becoming. More>>

Meditation: Passive vs. Active

By Im a frayed knot (Daily Kos, 6/28/09)

The subject of meditation came up yesterday, and I decided to write a diary. Before I begin, I must stress in the strongest possible terms that I am no more an accomplished meditator than I am a doctor. If I could do as well as I can talk, I could do much more with my life than I am doing. I am not a 'human complete;' rather, I am a 'human becoming.'"

I began my study of meditation decades ago when I read Dion Fortune's book Training and Work of an Initiate. In that book she explains that there are two types of meditation, which she ascribes [to] the difference between Eastern and Western cultures. She says that Eastern cultures try to reach the soul up to the heavens, whereas Western cultures try to bring the heavens to Earth.

As I look at the behaviors of these cultures (in a less blended form than perhaps we have now), I see her point. Anyway, to accomplish the cultural goals, which are expressed person by person, the Eastern approach is passive, uniting oneself with the "oversoul." The Western approach is active, pulling the beauty of the "oversoul" to enrich the individual. Subtle difference, but it manifests strongly in the meditative approach.

You can see the stark differences when you look at the Deepak Chopra approach (Eastern) vs. Franz Bardon's approach as discussed in Initiation into Hermetics. Today I discuss the passive approach, as I find it is easier to get started in that one. Over time, migrating to the active approach may be useful, especially to activists who want to see change on Earth. There are several books out about Eastern meditation practices. I tend to lean toward Chopra's books because he communicates his view in words and phrases that the Western mind grasps easily. I summarize his words here with my own thoughts intermingled. More>>

Daily Kos

Bhutan, India plan 10 new projects by 2020

The King of Bhutan, the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom, shortly after his coronation.

Ten green power projects are planned
(SifyNews 6/30/09)

India and Bhutan will jointly develop 10 hydroelectric projects by 2020, according to Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley. "By 2020, the two countries have agreed to develop a little over 11,000 megawatts of hydel power green energy through 10 projects.

"One of these projects has already begun," Thinley said at a press conference in India Monday night. He added that the other projects are at various stages and through them "there will be substantial flow of green energy into parts of West Bengal."

On the impact of the global economic meltdown on Bhutanese tourism, Thinley said the industry shrank by 31 percent in the first half of 2009, but he was confident that it would revive fast as the downturn subsided...." More>>

Buddhism and Hinduism

Contrasting temple styles, elegant Buddhist pagoda and the intricate complexity of a Hindu temple replete with gods and mythological themes (malaysia.com).

Sohoni Das (SF Hindu Examiner 6/29/09; WQ editing)

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was [allegedly] born in Nepal, and lived and taught in the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The Buddha's teaching, Buddhism, originated in what is now Bihar, India during the reign of Maurya Empire.

Since Buddhism and Hinduism originated in ancient India, they share many similarities. Buddhism, however, became a world religion, whereas Hinduism has largely stayed on the subcontinent. The Buddha is mentioned in several of the Puranas (ancient Hindu religious texts), and some Buddhist teachings appear to have been formulated responding to ideas contained in the early Upanishads.

It came to be taught in Hinduism, in many Puranas, that the Buddha must be an incarnation of Vishnu (a Hindu god) with the purpose of deluding demons (yakkhas) or mankind about the true Vedic Dharma.

Some striking similarities between the two religions are given below:
  • Ahimsa: a Sanskrit word meaning "non-violence" (non-harming) and respect for all life.

Buddha’s dialog of ahimsa in the Lesser Exposition on Karma Discourse (Culakammavibhanga Sutta) was a definitive move against the traditional [cruel animal] sacrificial Vedic rituals of Hindu culture. However, the Upanishadic literature in Hinduism was often critical of the Vedic ritual and emphasized the internal meaning and symbolism of the sacrifice rather than its literal enactment. Ahimsa doctrine was later developed in the Hindu Yajurveda under the Brahmanical culture.

  • Karma: meaning one's deeds or actions or activity, which is a central theme of Buddhist teachings.

It is believed that this idea is derived from Hinduism. However, there are apparent inconsistencies regarding this. The Buddhist doctrine of karma is based on the Buddha's direct mystical observations, rather than literary derivations. Hindu seers had their interpretations, which the Buddha seems to have expanded on, clarified, and added to.

  • Dharma: this term means "religious or ethical duty"

Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe that beings that live in harmony with dharma precede on towards moksha or nirvana (liberation).

Despite the similarities between the two religions, the major differences are:

  • God: The Buddha set an important trend of non-theism [different from atheism] by denying the notion of an omnipotent God.

According to Buddhism, there are gods but a higher reality, but not an ultimate creator God beyond the law of karma or rebirth. Mankind's need for protection and agency [not to mention Buddhist devas or Greek-style demigods], which are psychologically deep-rooted, prompts a need for this belief. However, Hinduism strongly believes in the existence of an ultimate creator God [Brahman] and also believes that gods are reborn as humans to save the earth (avatars or "messiahs").

  • Vedas: these Holy Scriptures are followed in Hinduism to acquire the divine Three-Knowledges of life.

Unlike Hinduism, Buddhists believe that Three-Knowledges should be achieved through the process of enlightenment, which the Buddha achieved in the three watches of the night on the night of his Great Enlightenment (mahabodhi). The Three-Knowledges are memory of past lives, seeing the rebirth of others according to their karma, and complete intuitive penetration of the Four Noble Truths and the destruction of spiritual defilements, which fester in the mind/heart (citta) and keep it obscured, defiled, and unenlightened. (This third knowledge is a composite one).

The Four Noble Truths are deep and profound. Understanding them fully (particularly the fourth) is the essence of Buddhist enlightenment. This understanding is not intellectual, however, but rather thorough-going, psychological, and even mystical.

  1. PROBLEM: All planes of existence are ultimately bound up with uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
  2. CAUSE: This uneasiness is caused by cravings and attachments of all kinds.
  3. SOLUTION: This uneasiness ends when craving ends, when one is free of craving, which is achieved by knowledge-and-vision of nirvana, which means reaching the ultimate liberated state of enlightenment (bodhi).
  4. PATH: Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the Path rediscovered and laid out by the Buddha.

It is apparent that later Indian religious thought was in turn influenced by Buddhism's new interpretations and novel ideas. The new religion gained prominence on the Indian subcontinent at one time eclipsing all other traditions in India before Hinduism assimilated many of its ideas and teachings and became the de facto state religion (with considerable Islamic and other minorities but almost no Buddhists independent of Hinduism).

Buddhism was eclipsed by a Hindu renaissance and Islam onslaughts in the 13th Century. It then flourished beyond India -- Theravada in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian nations; Vajrayana/Lamaism in the Himalayas (Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, etc.); and Mahayana in East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, etc.).

Hinduism and Buddhism now coexist harmoniously in the world and are followed, at least in name, by hundreds of millions of adherents. Buddhism in India survived and is still practiced -- particularly in the Himalayan region such as Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and in the east in what is now Muslim dominated Bangladesh.

The 2012 Enigma (watch free)

The 2012 Enigma: Free full-length documentary film!

Is there a miniature stargate in our own brain? Did ancient cultures reverse-engineer it into useable technology that could actually look through – and even travel through – time? Did our secret-government come into possession of this technology? Did they see anything occurring about the year 2012? Dive into this fascinating story! More>>
  • Quantum Shift in world consciousness
    The events of this past week weave an incredible tale of a quantum consciousness shift. The old way is groaning and crumbling into ruin as the long-prophesied changes are finally...
  • Classic Rumor Mill News transcript
    2012 cornucopia! David Wilcock's first show on Rumor Mill News was an instant classic -- bursting with amazing new material -- and now you can read the full transcript to study it in greater detail!

Shift of the Ages (David Wilcock)

David Wilcock (divinecosmos.com) -- visionary author, filmmaker, lecturer, and musician -- the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce -- joins us to discuss his film project "Convergence, the Science of the Divine Cosmos" and his audio CD "The Science of Peace." Topics discussed:

  • Convergence film project
  • Science of DNA
  • Channelers and evidence
  • Matter and energy
  • Magnetic fields
  • Expanding earth
  • Etheric energy
  • Gravity
  • Parallel reality
  • Time
  • Cycles
  • Astrology
  • Sidereal Time
  • Synchronicity
  • Chaos theory
  • Fear climate
  • Global warming
  • 2012
  • Harmonics
  • Hans Jenni and cymatics
  • Atlantis in Cuba and much, much more.

This is a continuation of Red Ice Creation's superb interview with Wilcock -- discussing his work with Richard Hoagland, the Enterprise Mission, and what is going on up on the Moon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tibetan Monastics turn to Science

Students in the Emory Tibet Science Initiative taking turns at a microscope. This spring, 91 nuns and monks took a class in accelerated motion, chromosomes, neurons, and the Big Bang (NYTimes/Ajay Pillarisetti/Enlarge image).

DHARAMSALA, India — Tibetan monks and nuns spend their lives studying the inner world of the mind rather than the physical world of matter. Yet, for one month this spring a group of 91 monastics devoted themselves to the corporeal realm of science.

Instead of delving into Buddhist texts on karma and emptiness, they learned about Galileo’s law of accelerated motion, chromosomes, neurons, and the Big Bang, among other far-ranging topics.

Many in the group, whose ages ranged from the 20s to 40s, had never learned science and math. In Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, the curriculum has remained unchanged for centuries. More>>

Ugliest Dog, London Festivals, Jacko (photos)

Young girl enjoys the Hare Krishna "Ratha-yatra" Festival in Trafalgar Square, London June 28, 2009 (AP/Owen Humphreys/PA Wire). The ugliest dog in the world, a Chinese hairless named Miss Ellie, crowned (AP/Noah Berger). Michael Jackson honored with sand sculptures in Puri, India June 26, 2009; he had been preparing for 50 London concerts (AP/Biswaranjan Rout). Painted reveler at London's Oxfam festival to bring attention to global climate change June 25, 2009. MORE>>

Bernard Madoff receives sentence

Madoff receives sentence
Bernard Madoff gets 150 years in prison for his multibillion-dollar fraud scheme. Judge's harsh words

Ruth Madoff breaks silence
Bernard Madoff's wife finally issues a statement on the day he's sentenced. Responds to scorn directed at her
$2.5 mil settlement

Appeals Court bars 2 Suu Kyi witnesses

YANGON – Burma's highest court rejected an appeal Monday by Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers to reinstate two key witnesses in a trial that could send the pro-democracy leader to prison for five years. High Court judge Tin Aung Aye rejected the appeal because it was "intended to disturb and delay the trial," court officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The court's ruling means only two people will testify in Suu Kyi's defense at her trial, which resumes Friday, and that a verdict could be reached in a week or two. The 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American man swam secretly to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

"This is very unfair. The court had allowed 14 prosecution witnesses but only allowed two from the defense," said Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's lawyers. "We tried our best to have the trial conducted according to the law but it has failed." More>>

Facebook, Twitter...for sale

Scott Painter makes his living betting on startup companies, having played a role in launching 29 of them over the years. But with the bad economy choking initial public offerings and acquisitions, Painter is now backing an idea that makes it easier for insiders like him to sell shares in their companies even before they go public. More>>

Friday, June 26, 2009

Karmapa Lama's 24th birthday

Tibetans celebrate Karmapa Lama's 24th birthday in Dharamshala
(SifyNews.com, 6/26/09)
The Karmapa and the Dalai Lama (karmakagyu.org.au)

Tibetans living in exile in Dharamshala, India celebrated the 24th birthday of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa on Friday.

Born on June 26, 1985 in Kham region of eastern Tibet, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is heir to the Tibetan's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. He is considered the third most important leader after the Dalai Lama, and his authority is recognized by both Beijing and the renowned 14th Dalai Lama.

Buddhist monks and nuns assembled at the Gyuto monastery in Dharamsala to pray for the well-being and long life of the Karmapa. However, this year, no singing and dancing program were organized because of the demise of Penor Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma sect, and also due to the mass killings of Tibetans in Tibet last year.

"It is because of the demise of the head of the Nyingma sect, Penor Rinpoche and so many Tibetans have lost their lives in Tibet, so they didn't perform any sort of cultural events and they don't have big ceremony. Just to mark the birthday celebration, we have this prayer and puja [i.e., devotional] ceremony only," said Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan youth. Followers of Karmpa from far-flung places also came to take part in the celebration. More>>

Common chemical makes us fat, hungry

Listen Now (0:56:29)

Details, names, Websites, and Email addresses:

  • Healthy Planet, Healthy Me (Friday, June 26, 2009 2:01 pm). This free Pacifica Radio audio archive will be available for only 90 days starting today.

Bhutan: No insurgent activity on India border

Bhutanese dancers on 3/8/09 in the peaceful Himalayan Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan

THIMPHU -- On [6/20/09] Bhutan assured India that there was no United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) presence in the Buddhist mountain kingdom. “I have no knowledge [of the presence of ULFA here]...

"This is something what we also read in Indian papers, but we do not have any presence here, it should be made very, very clear. Where, [from], and how these reports had come, we also do not know,” Foreign Minister Ugyen Tshering said after signing a memorandum of understanding with External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna.

He was replying questions by journalists on Indian intelligence reports of the presence of ULFA units in the bordering areas of Bhutan. There were intelligence reports that ULFA activity was still witnessed along the Indo-Bhutanese border, resulting in violent attacks by the insurgent group in those areas. “But I can very categorically say that the purpose of the previous activities was not to have a situation where there is any presence of ULFA cadres here,” Mr. Tshering said. (PTI) Source

United Liberation Front of Asom
ULFA is a terrorist group from Assam [1] among many other such groups in North-East India. It seeks to establish a sovereign Assam via an armed struggle in the Assam Conflict. The Government of India banned the organization in 1990 and classified it as a terrorist group, while the U.S. State Department lists it under "other groups of concern" [2]. More>>

Ocean hidden inside Saturn's moon

Ingredients could provide environment for life precursors
Jeanna Bryner (space.com, 6/24/09)
This false color Cassini image illustrates the jets of fine icy particles erupting from the south polar region of Enceladus (Cassini Imaging Team and NASA/JPL/SSI). Related photos

Astronomers have found the strongest evidence yet for an ocean beneath the icy shell of Saturn's Enceladus, suggesting it could join the exclusive club of watery moons in our solar system. The salty water is likely feeding jets of water-ice that spurt from the moon's south polar region. Such plumes were first reported in 2005, and ever since, astronomers have suspected a liquid ocean might lie beneath the icy shell of Saturn's sixth largest moon. The new finding, published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, could bump this diminutive world — measuring 310 miles (500 km) in diameter (about the width of Arizona) — into a class that includes Jupiter's Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. More>>

MacArthur Genius Grant produces: "Re-"

Body Language
A force behind the Beijing Olympics’ pageantry unveils new work

To take a brief break from his work as a choreographer, Shen Wei — winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant, and the lead creative consultant for the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing — headed to Tibet.

Born in China, he had long been familiar with the region’s steppes, Buddhist temples, and mountainous landscape. But what he found there during his trip in 2005 took his breath away, literally.

“Some places are 4,000 meters above sea level. It’s so high that you need oxygen,” says Mr. Wei. “Your body was so calm and yet your brain worked so fast.”

MacArthur genius grant recipient Shen Wei (Ernestine Ruben)

His trip to Tibet contributed to one section of a three-part performance Mr. Wei will present at Lincoln Center starting July 9, 2009. Each section of the show will encompass a different portion of Mr. Wei’s travels. The other two sections were inspired by the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, and China’s Silk Road. Mr. Wei entitled the triptych “Re-” to suggest rebirth or renewal. More>>

"Re-" at the Lincoln Center Arts Festival, New York City, July 9-11, 2009. Shen Wei and artist Cai Guo-Qiang in a live conversation with Wall Street Journal correspondent Geoffrey Fowler about leaving China, making it in New York, and returning to Beijing to help stage the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies July 1, Lincoln Center Summer Scoops Live with The Wall Street Journal. Information at WSJ.com/Live.

Watch more The Colbert Report videos on AOL

Buddhism (One India)

M. Ram Mohan (Vedanta Vani, Chinmaya Mission, WQ edit)
Hard is it to be born as human.
Hard is the life of the mortals.
Hard is it to get the opportunity
of hearing the sublime truth (Dharma).
Hard indeed is the arising of a Buddha.
(Dhammapada 182)

It is not possible in a short article to express all the beauty of the teachings of the Buddha in detail.

The Buddha is the only teacher to say: I do not care to know various theories talked about God. I think there is not much use found by discussing subtle points about the soul. Only doing good and living well will take one to freedom and make one realize the higher truth.

The Blessed One taught that meditation is not a kriya to practice only in the morning and evening an hour or two retired in a room. It is a life that should be in practice all the day long -- walking, talking, sleeping, and throughout the breadth of existing time. This leads to nirvana -- which is beyond all duality, all pain and pleasure, all realms of birth and death.

It is through a lack of understanding and a failure to comprehend fully the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination that we have passed for so long in this round of rebirth. Now we have understood completely that craving is the root-cause of all our tensions and sorrows. We were spiritually blind all these days. Now by the blessings of the Enlightened One, the Bhagawan, we not only have understood but have also destroyed our cravings, wants, desires, and attachments.

We are assured that there will be no more recurring of the present state. To give oneself over is the secret of Sadhana. The whole principle of this yoga is to give oneself entirely to the higher, the supreme, the brahmacarya alone -- to nothing else.

The knots of the heart are cut asunder, all doubts become destroyed, and all one's deeds (one's karma or "bondage-producing seeds of action") become eliminated when the supreme truth is realized.

Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there.
Nirvana is, but not the one who enters it.
The Path is, but no traveler on it is seen.
(Visuddhi Magga XVI)

May there be peace in heaven and peace in space!
May there be peace on earth and peace in water!
May there by peace in plants and peace in trees!
May there be peace in all divinities and in Brahman!
May there he peace of all!
May that peace come to ME!
(Yajur Veda 26.17)

Cancer: Farrah was more than a beauty

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (Test Pattern)
You didn't have to have a million-selling poster to relate to Farrah's struggle (image courtesy of Everett Collection).

Two things will stay in my memory about the sad loss of Farrah. One is the image of her grown son, Redmond O'Neal, fresh from jail, crawling into bed with his dying mom, as shown in the touching documentary "Farrah's Story."

And the other is simply a line from an article published when her illness returned, where Ryan O'Neal reported that her famous hair was gone.

Those two items remind us that Farrah was more than a poster. She was a mom, and although Redmond's troubles with drugs and the law are well-known, she was a mom who loved her son and surely tried to do the best by him.

And the loss of her hair...as anyone who's had or loved someone with cancer [unfortunate enough to foolishly choose to undergo the invasive balancing act known as Chemo as if that were anything more than controlled poisoning] knows, few things make you feel as naked as that one loss. More>>

Alternative cancer treatments

Convention of Alternative Therapies (PDF)
A Cure for All Diseases (Dr. Hulda Clark)
Natural, proven Gerson therapy
German cancer breakthrough
"Cure" not allowed; it's not profitable

Hoxsey: How Healing [Cancer] Becomes a Crime

"If a cancer cure were discovered outside of formal medical institutions, would these doctors ever know about it? Would it ever reach the general public? Of course it would, you might say, but consider this: there are scores of alternative cancer clinics around the world claiming high success rates, yet most of these treatments have been banned in the United States, are driven out of the country without an investigation. Why?"

This documentary concerns Harry M. Hoxsey, the former coal miner whose family's herbal recipe has brought about claims of a cancer cure. Starting in 1924 with his first clinic, he expanded to 17 states by the mid 1950s, along the way constantly battling organized medicine that labeled him a charlatan.

Hoxsey's supporters point out that he was the victim of arrests, or "quackdowns," spearheaded by the proponents of established medical practices. Interviews of patients satisfied with the results of the controversial treatment are balanced with physicians from the FDA and the AMA. A clinic in Tijuana, Mexico claims an 80% success rate, while opponents are naturally skeptical. What is apparent is that cancer continues to be one of humankind's more dreaded diseases, and that political and economic forces dominate research and development (excerpt from website).

Where's the Cure for Cancer? (CNN)
Despite chemotherapy, some breast cancers recur like a "smoldering fire that flares up," Dr. Otis Brawley said.

President Obama's pledge to conquer cancer "in our time" is a great goal, but one of America's top cancer experts isn't sure he'd use the word "cure."

"The idea of [calling for] a cure does scare me a little bit because, I don't think that's realistic in some cancers," says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "But I like the general overall idea, and I'm thrilled about the focus on health."

Obama's first proposed budget includes $6 billion for cancer research by the National Institutes of Health. That's on top of the additional $10 billion provided by the stimulus package for 2009 and 2010. More>>

Nepal fails to erase Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama holds poster of jailed Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi (AP).

Nepal fails to erase Dalai Lama from Tibetan hearts
Sudeshna Sarkar (TNN, June 26, 2009)

KATHMANDU – At one time, the name plate outside the walled house proudly said "Gaden Kangsar" – the residence of the Dalai Lama. But when Nepal’s Maoist government began a fresh crackdown on supporters of the exiled Tibetan leader last year, the house in Kathmandu’s embassy enclave, once known as the office of the Dalai Lama’s representative in Nepal, chose discretion over confrontation and the sign, written both in English and the elegant Tibetan script, was tarred over.

But it is not so easy to erase the loyalty to the Dalai Lama and dreams of a free Tibet from Tibetan hearts. A group of 35 Tibetan exiles proved so on Friday when they courted arrest by trying to stage a peace march in Tibet.

As the world observed the International Day Against Torture, the exiles left Kathmandu at 4:00 am on a bus heading north. Their plan was to take the Araniko Highway, which connects Nepal with China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, cross the Nepal-Tibet border and stage a public protest in Tibet asking for the restoration of rights and democracy in the annexed Buddhist kingdom.

However, they were prevented by the Nepal police contingent patrolling the border, who stopped the bus and took the group under control. The protesters lay down on the highway, raising slogans for a free Tibet until they were dragged away. Police said the bus had been sent back to Kathmandu where the group, including eight women, will be handed over to the immigration authorities for appropriate action.

This is the first major Tibetan protest since the formation of a coalition government led by communist Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. The protests, which had continued for almost a year mortifying China last year on the eve of the Olympic games, were stifled after a Maoist government came to power in August 2008 and ordered stronger measures, including patrolling by its cadres.

Nepal, having received an invitation to visit Beijing but is yet to set any dates, will come under fresh pressure from his northern neighbor after Friday’s resumption of protests. Though the new government adheres to the earlier administration’s foreign policy of not allowing anti-Chinese activities on Nepali soil, Beijing is bound to seek more effective measures to control the protests. It has stepped up its vigil along the border with Nepal to prevent Tibetan fugitives from heading towards Dharamshala in India via Nepal and is now asking for the regulation of the open Indo-Nepal border to cut off the entry of protesters from India. Source

Anti-Dalai Lama protesters in Germany advocating for the right to practice without politically motivated condemnation indicate the shocking fact that the beloved political leader does not in fact enjoy universal religious renown (Xinhua/Shugden).

Officials: UN envoy arrives in Burma

Protest rally in Tokyo with monks as Suu Kyi marked a grim 64th birthday in prison and activists took to the Internet and staged worldwide protests (AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura).

YANGON – A U.N. special envoy was in Burma on Friday to pave the way for a possible visit by the U.N. secretary-general that would be politically delicate because of the continuing trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Human Rights Watch and some governments have urged U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon not to visit now, arguing the trip could be exploited by the military government.

Riot police patrol High Court in downtown Yangon, 6/24/09. Lawyers urged Burma's highest court to reverse a ban on two key defense witnesses (AP/Khin Maung Win).

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate, is in prison and being tried on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest after an uninvited American man swam to her closely guarded lakeside home last month and stayed two days. But Suu Kyi's own party supports such a visit, and other countries say the alternative is to do nothing and miss an opportunity to have the U.N. chief press for Suu Kyi's release and push for more open and inclusive elections next year. Details of the visit of Ibrahim Gambari, who arrived Friday, have not been disclosed by the U.N., but some officials in Myanmar's diplomatic community spoke openly about it.

"My understanding is that Dr. Gambari is here to assess the condi-tions for a potential visit by the secretary-general," said British Ambassador Mark Canning. Ban's "commitment to achieving progress is well known," Canning told The Associated Press. "The issue — as always — is the degree of cooperation he can expect to receive." After arriving in Yangon, the commercial capital, Gambari was driven in a motorcade for a four-hour trip to the capital of Naypyitaw to meet government officials, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to the press. More>>

A rally in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, 6/26/09. A U.N. special envoy arrived in Burma today to pave the way for a possible visit by the U.N. secretary-general (AP/Ahn Young-joon).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Venerable Sariputra (Maha Thera)

Ven. Sariputra, Burma (asianart.com)

Śāriputra (Sanskrit: शारिपुत्र) or Sāriputta (Pāli) was one of two principal disciples of the Buddha. He became an Arhat renowned for his wisdom and is depicted in the Theravada tradition as one of the most important disciples of the Buddha.


1.1 Death
1.2 The Stupa of Śāriputra (Sariputta)
1.3 Śāriputra (Sariputta) as Krishna and Lakshman
2 Śāriputra in Mahayana
3 References
4 See also
5 External links

Śāriputra came from a Brahmin family and had already embarked on life as a spiritual ascetic when he encountered the teachings of the Buddha. Śāriputra had a close friend Mahāmaudgalyāyana (Pāli: Mahā Moggallāna), another wandering ascetic. They both renounced the world on the same day and became disciples of the sceptic Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta before converting to Buddhism.

Ven. Sariputra enlightened after questioning Ven. Assaji (gallery.palungjit.com)

After hearing of the Buddha's teachings from a monk named Assaji (Sanskrit: Asvajit), Śāriputra sought out the Buddha and became an adherent to his teachings (the Dharma). These two are often depicted together with the Buddha, and several sutras regard interactions between Śāriputra and Mahā Moggallāna (who became renowned among the early Buddhists for his mastery of supernatural powers).

Ven. Sariputra being honored by humans and devas (ariaristides.files.wordpress.com)

In one somewhat comical scene involving the two friends, a mischievous yakṣha (Pāli: yakkha) decides that it will attempt to irritate Śāriputra by striking him on the head. Mahā Moggallāna sees this occurring with his "divine eye" (a clairvoyant faculty often attributed to South Asian ascetics), and unsuccessfully attempts to warn Śāriputra. However, due to his great spiritual mastery, Śāriputra perceives the terrible blow the yakkha delivers as only a light breeze.

Mahā Moggallāna approaches and expresses his amazement that Sariputra barely noticed the terrible blow; Śāriputra replies in amazement that Mahā Moggallāna was able to perceive the invisible creature that dealt the blow.

While depictions of Śāriputra in the Pali Canon are uniformly positive, showing Śāriputra as a wise and powerful arhat, second only to the Buddha, his depiction in some Mahayana sources has often been much less flattering.

In the Vimalakīrti Sūtra and the Lotus Sutra, Śāriputra is depicted as the voice of the Hinayana or Śrāvaka tradition, which is presented in the Mahayana sutras as a "less sophisticated" teaching.

In these sutras, Śāriputra is unable to readily grasp the Mahayana doctrines presented by Vimalakīrti and others. And he is rebuked or defeated in debate by a number of interlocutors, including a female deity (deva) who refutes Śāriputra's "Hinayana" assumptions regarding gender and form.

However, in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha predicts that Śāriputra will become a fully awakened Buddha one day, named Flower Glow Tathāgata, at which Śāriputra's mind is said to "dance with joy" [Ref].

A dialogue between Śāriputra and Avalokiteśvara is also the context of the Heart Sutra, a brief but essential text in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.

Yogaglo (L.A. and Beyond)

Click to enlarge. The concept of Yogaglo is to film classes and make them available online to extend the reach of yoga beyond the studio -- a new frontier in yoga instruction.

Dukkha: Michael Jackson Dies

Michael Jackson seen in file pictures from top left, 1971, 1977, 1979, and bottom left, 1983, 1987, and 1990. Jackson died today, June 25, 2009 (AP). 235 photos.

Michael Jackson, "King of Pop," dies Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest today. Officials confirm that Michael Jackson collapsed, went into a coma, and never came back as he was worked on in an L.A. hospital today.

Dukkha ("suffering, sadness") definition:

"Now this is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth, aging, death; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; connection to the unloved; separation from the loved; not getting what one wants. In short, the Five Aggregates are dukkha" (SN 56.11).

Ven. Sariputra explains
"Now what, friends, is the Noble Truth of dukkha? Birth, aging, death; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair; connection with the unwanted; separation from the loved; not getting what one wants. In short, the Five Aggregates are dukkha....

"And what is aging? Whatever wearing away, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, loss of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that plane of existence is called aging.

"And what is death? Whatever ceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, completion of lifespan, break up of the Five Aggregates, casting off of body (form), interruption of the life faculty is called death" (MN 141).

Fanatic Jake Byrd reacting to jury decision in Jackson's last trial (Jimmy Kimmel)