Saturday, May 30, 2009

9/11: What Happened to Building 7?

Ayya Khema: What is Buddhist meditation?

The venerable German-born Buddhist nun Ayya Khema talks about the benefits and reasons to meditate (09:55). This takes body and mind into consideration -- particularly focusing on care of the mind. She follows in the second clip with a single pitfall to sitting, overcoming it, and finding oneself halfway to meditation (02:36). Finally, in the third clip she discusses the Buddha's methods (02:08).

Datta: The "Ahh" Meditation

This guided meditation uses a simple mantra to enhance the areas of health, wealth, friendship, love, spiritual experience, and more.

Dattatreya Siva Baba gave the "Ahh" meditation to Wayne Dyer over ten years ago. This is the revised and advanced version. Baba talks about the transformation of procreative energy to become energy to create anything you want.

Echart Tolle: What is Meditation?

Eckhart Tolle discusses the the meaning of meditation.

Healing Quest: Permaculture

Light Bridge Media examines permaculture, a system of sustainable gardening developed in Australia. Some permaculturists hold that healing the planet is critical to healing ourselves. This belief has attracted tens of thousands of practitioners around the world. Here it is into practice in Hawaii.

Atheist Converts to EVERY Religion

"Frankly, one reason I've remained a die-hard Christian is to cover my behind in the afterlife. But I recently realized I need to worship ALL gods who might possibly exist!" -- Ed Current.

"It's the Day of Judgment for a fool who says there is no God. Christians, get ready to laugh as he learns his fate!" -- Ed Current

Former KORN guitarist Brian "Head" Welch sets the record straight on the timeline of leaving the band and finding god (Artisan News).

Sri Lankan Peace: Now what?

Rally in support of former Tamil leader Velupillai Prabhakaran (Time/Babu/Reuters)


The demise of Tamil military leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has been confirmed.

Buddhist Social Media: Facebook to Twitter

Religious Uses of Social Media
Laura Busch

There are a number of Buddhist uses of social media that fit within the contemplative/monastic traditions. Probably the most famous is the work at Zen Mountain Monastery, which hosts its own communications center:

They have an online radio station, store, and are working on a "cybermonastery" where, last I heard, they would put up teachings and have a question and answer service.

There is a Buddhist monk on Twitter who sends out daily messages:

You can also find a list of other Buddhist twitter users here:

I have also observed monastics on Web forums discussing guided meditation practices with other forum members via chat using texts and images from the Web to guide the practice. (There are a great deal of Buddhist texts online in multiple languages).

5 Keys to Happiness

Greg Soltis (

If you're not happy and you know it, read along.

You've watched "Seinfeld" re-runs, splurged on yourself, and downed pints of Ben and Jerry's. Nothing's helping. Maybe you're one of the 20 million Americans diagnosed with depression, you're bottoming out, or you just want something to improve your day. Here are five ways — some admittedly challenging — to help you get that much-needed mood boost:

1. Pick good parents
In Happy Land, genes trump environmental factors, according to the experts. And a study in the March issue of the journal Psychological Science scores another point for the gene team: Differences in DNA that could explain why some people tend to have an extra bounce in their step might also underlie the tendency to be more emotionally stable and socially and physically active.
Genes do not provide free passes from the doldrums, and other external factors will still try to mow you down. But, heredity could provide some people with a horde of happiness that they can draw from when the good times aren’t rolling.

And Canadian researchers' ability to genetically stifle depression in mice in 2006 indicates that human happiness could one day be improved by manipulating genes. This was the first time science throttled the throes of any organism. Mice bred to be void of the gene, called TREK-1, acted as if they had been downing anti-depressants for at least three weeks.

2. Give it away
It only takes $5 spent on others to make you happier on a given day, according to a 2008 study. And selfless acts can also help your marriage become a more enjoyable experience for you and your spouse. After performing good deeds, people are happier and feel their life has more purpose. But is the act selfless if you expect something in return? Maybe it just depends on how you look at it.

3. Ponder this
Think of a happy place. And you, too, like Happy Gilmore, might sink that putt and earn back your grandmother's house — or overcome your own hurdle.

Humans are more resilient than we think and can endure trying times, as demonstrated in a 2005 study that tracked mood changes in dialysis patients. They were in a good mood most of the time despite having their blood cleaned three times a week for at least three months. But healthy patients envisioned a miserable life when asked to imagine adhering to this demanding schedule.

As Winston Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

4. Work out
Consistently breaking a sweat, along with medication and counseling can help people battling depression by sapping lonely and vulnerable feelings.

Exercise improves one's state of mind in part by affecting the body's levels of two chemicals, cortisol and endorphins. The adrenal glands of angry or scared people produce cortisol. This increases blood pressure and blood sugar, weakens the immune response and can lead to organ inflammation and damage. But working out burns cortisol, restoring the body's normal levels.

Running, biking or using an aerobic exercise machine also causes the brain to release endorphins — the body's natural pain relievers — into the bloodstream. The body forgoes the negative side effects of drugs while still experiencing a natural high. To gain the most from your workout, make sure its intensity reflects your stress level. And challenge your body to continually adapt by varying the exercise’s length and intensity.

5. Live long
If you have the right genes and are selfless, optimistic and active but still find yourself down in the dumps, just give it some time.

A study of 2 million people from 80 nations released in January found that depression is most common among adults in their mid-40s. Among Americans, the worst of times hit women around age 40 and men about age 50.

But with age humans are more inclined to filter out the negatives while focusing on what they enjoy.

Americans in their golden years tend to see the glass as half full, despite their increased doctor visits and chemo treatments. After battling cancer, heart disease, diabetes or other health-related obstacles, 500 independent Americans from age 60 to 98 rated their own degree of successful aging as 8.4 on average, with 10 being the highest in a 2005 study.
Happiness, it seems, takes time. Source

Burma: See no Evil

Is Niceness related to Brains?

Socialites and Curmudgeons: Two Brain Types
Robin Nixon, Special to

Socialites and curmudgeons not only have different party demeanors, they may also have different brain structures, a new study suggests. But what came first — the incentive to charm or the bolstered brain anatomy — is still a matter of debate.

Forty-one randomly selected men filled out a questionnaire assessing their own tendency to, say, "make a warm personal connection." Those who reported being sociable and emotionally demonstrative also tended to have denser cell concentration in two brain structures, the orbitofrontal cortex and the ventral striatum, said the study's head researcher Graham Murray of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The research was published in the May 20, 2009 issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience.

Chicken or egg
Many studies have found correlations between the size of a particular brain structure and physical behavior, such as the classic finding that taxi drivers often have more developed hippocampi, structures associated with spatial memory. Whether the above-average geographic abilities existed before or only developed after the subjects became cabbies is unclear. The burgeoning field of social neuroscience is producing similar findings.

For example, the structural research by Murray and colleagues is backed by a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience and led by Michael Cohen. He showed that strong neuronal connections between the orbitofrontal cortex and striatum were also associated with social pleasure.

"Connectivity encourages growth of brain regions," Murray said, so taken together the studies suggest two causal relationships. A particular brain composition could create a warm personality, but experiencing social behavior could also create a social brain, he said. Most likely it is both nature and nurture acting in tandem, creating "a snowball effect," Murray theorized. Experience spurs brain growth, brain growth influences behavior, behavior affects experience and around we go.

Personality develops most rapidly during childhood and adolescence, Murray said, but traits are never completely fixed. Even in adulthood, he continued, "social experiences could have their effect by changing brain structures over time."

Key to Survival
The identified brain areas also respond to pleasures, such as food and sex, that are necessary for species survival. Over the course of evolution, socializing may have also become a critical need, Murray said. More>>

Teen cracks old math puzzle

Teen cracks old math puzzle
A 16-year-old explains a 300-year-old math problem that only experts have solved. What's next for student?

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Burma VJ" (film review)

(LA Times) Danish filmmaker Anders Ostergaard was in Bur-ma to do a half-hour portrait on a young member of the Democratic Voice of Burma, an under-ground group of video journalists determined to docu-ment the oppressive conditions in the country, when suddenly, in September 2007, the Buddhist monks' rebellion [Saffron Revolution] broke out. It had been sparked by the military government's decision to lift fuel subsidies, causing some fuel prices to jump... More>>

2012: Inner Earth Expedition

Dr. Agnew discusses cataclysms that may occur around 2012. He offers an update on his planned North Pole Inner Earth Expedition. The current timetable is to embark on the expedition in August 2009, traveling to the Arctic region aboard a nuclear powered icebreaker.

A helicopter and ship stored in the icebreaker will be used to scout for a hole that might exist in the curvature of the crust, he details. Dr. Agnew explains that ancient Mesoamericans described visits from the "Shining Ones" [devas] -- possible ETs, who may have given them knowledge of astronomy, architecture, and agriculture.

One of the Mayans' complex calendar systems ends in 2012, coinciding with the Earth aligning with a black hole in the center of the galaxy, he outlines. This positioning will cause planets to heat up in the solar system and potentially wreak havoc with our climate, he explains.

A pole shift could take place within a short time period, 3 to 5 days, and the reversal of Northern and Southern hemispheric patterns could set up a "global super storm," with 300 mph winds lasting up to a month, Agnew warns.

Astrophysics and Math (made fun)

Astronomers observe phases of red-hot exoplanet
(Discover) -- Four hundred years ago, Galileo observed the phases of Venus as the planet orbited our sun and caught its light in different ways, helping to disprove the idea that all celestial bodies twirled around the Earth. Now, the profes-sional descendants of Galileo have observed the phases of an exoplanet for the first time, observing the distant planet in the act of orbiting a foreign star. More>>

Medical Study: Yoga helps with Asthma

(HealthDayNews) -- Study finds practice can ease symptoms, raise awareness of breathing patterns. Settling into a warrior or tree pose a few times a week seems to improve symptoms and quality of life for people with asthma.

In fact, participants in a recent trial studying the effects of Hatha yoga also reported that they had been able to cut back on some of their asthma medication, said Amy Bidwell, senior author of a study presented this week at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting, in Seattle.

"It's dramatic but not surprising," said Dr. Jonathan Field, director of the allergy and asthma clinic at New York University School of Medicine/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City. "There have been some smaller studies that have stated this before, but I don't think they've ever used a standardized scale of this sort." More>>

Bank of Bhutan goes modern

Bhutan’s oldest bank celebrates 41, launches Internet services

Peaceful Buddhist monastery in the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan

[Alas, Bhutan, the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom, is rushing into the modern-age risking its pristine environment, Yeti population, and famous national "Gross Domestic Happiness."]

(May, 29 2009) — Bhutan’s oldest bank, Bank of Bhutan, launched Internet banking. This is the latest service along with SMS (short message service). Finance minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu formally launched the services during the bank’s 41st foundation day celebration in Thimphu.

The minister, in his address, said that the launch of the banking services was timely and in line with the government’s policies of bringing reforms in the financial sector to make it more efficient.

He added that competition for saving deposits will further increase with the government soon to introduce the system of treasury bills for monetary requirements. “I’m confident that BoB’s young and dynamic new management, which came into place a year ago, will deal with it comfortably,” said Lyonpo. More>>

Dalai Lama begins European tour

COPENHAGEN (AFP) — The Dalai Lama kicked off a European tour in Denmark today meeting Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen for what he called a "mainly spiritual and educational" visit.

On leaving the Danish premier's official residence north of Copenhagen, the Tibetan spiritual leader, who travelled from exile in India, said the 45-minute encounter was not political.

The meeting came despite China warning European nations against welcoming the Dalai Lama. China accuses him of wanting to establish an independent Tibet, despite years of public statements by the Buddhist leader denying the charge. France and Poland will also welcome the Dalai Lama over the next few weeks. Source

Why? Why are things the way they are?

(Gamerofall) - This a single segment of "The Ring of Power" which documents various "conspiracies" and secrets of American imperialism: banking, war, and wonder. This documentary searches for the truth behind appearances. The world we see -- the consensual reality -- is manufactured. We have long been asleep, so truths are difficult to process.

But once the entire picture is glimpsed, the mind will not allow one to believe the lies any longer. One begins to recognize what has been going on. More than the symbolism all around in movies, news stories, "myths," there is an actual "awakening" process.

Discomfiting at first, eventually one is healthier and saner and able to understand what is going on. The price of oil, the rise and fall of empires, deteriorating banks, the endless drumbeat of war...only add evidence to fill in the big picture. Investigate, inquire, question reality. The mundane truth of how the world works is at hand.

You are Consciousness

Paramahamsa Nithyananda is a reputedly enlightened yoga master. In this talk he describes how the outer world is inside the inner. This merging can happen only when one is able to witness and, above all, simply "unclutch" from attachment to body and mind. Until then, one creates a boundary between oneself and the world. Hence one is separated from the whole. Unclutching and witnessing oneself as part of the whole...nothing but consciousness. This talk is from a series of commentaries on the Jain sutras, given in Los Angeles in March 2007.

A Homegrown Revolution

Path to Freedom presents "A Homegrown Revolution," a collection of clips featuring their urban homestead and farm. The focus is on the need for radical action -- growing food in the city!

This short, self-produced music video was shown at Peter Seller's Cultural Art's class at UCLA followed by a short presentation by urban farmer Jules Dervaes, the founder of Path to Freedom. The focus of the class was on the art of slow food. Among other guests invited were Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Eric Schlosser.

Like the victory gardens of yesteryear, start your own homegrown revolution! Grow your food in your own yard. For more information visit the urban homesteaders at Read the online journal Since the early 1980's the Dervaes family has successfully transformed their ordinary city lot into a self sufficient urban homestead.

No Waterboarding, Torture by Cookies

( The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or "walling," and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies. More>>

America's (freest and) Least Free States

Greg Bobrinskoy (data: Mercatus Center, George Mason University)
From indelibly American quotations like "Give me liberty or give me death" to the iconic pairing of "liberty and justice" in the Pledge of Allegiance, there's no shortage of examples demonstrating that Americans have historically placed a high value on the concept of freedom.

But in a country as large and diverse as the United States, the concept of liberty is sure to have different definitions for different people. More complicating still is the fact that, beyond the overarching liberties defined by the Constitution, individual states have their own legislation to address individual freedoms that aren't explicitly covered in federal doctrine:

Oil plentiful, demand weak, why are prices up?

(VIDEO WCNC) Storage tankers across the globe may be brimming with oil that no one is buying because of the global economic downturn, but the traditional laws of supply and demand don't always apply to oil prices. Drivers have faced rising prices at the gas pump in recent months, as investors and oil-producing countries hoard supplies in anticipation of a global economic recovery later this year.

The 12 member countries of the OPEC cartel voted in Vienna on Thursday to maintain output at current levels rather than increase supplies in order to bring some relief to consumers, particularly in the gas-guzzling West. More>>


What's Behind (and Ahead for) the Plunging Price of Oil
Oil's Sky-High Forecast
Opec Cuts Production in Effort to Reverse Price Slide
OPEC Wants You to Pay More for Gas
Oil Prices: It Gets Worse

Monks Walk Himalayas for Environment

Drukpa lineage monks: "monastic environmentalists" (

KRIPA KRISHNAN MANALI, India (Press Trust of India) - Dressed in their deep red robes, monks and nuns of a 800-year-old Buddhist sect have begun a walking-journey (pad-yatra) to promote environmental conservation and spread awareness about the indis-criminate use of plastics and motor vehicles.

Led by their spiritual leader, the Gyalwang Drukpa, 600 monks are traveling across the snow-clad Himalayas in the month-long "walkathon." It will culminate in the Hemis Festival in Ladakh, India (Hemis Gompa) later next month.

"The journey (yatra) is a way of embracing the 'walking life,' which is beautiful and stress free. Why should we quit walking for cars and helicopters, when they cause so much damage to nature?" the Gyalwang Drukpa asked reporters here before commencing the walkathon on May 25, 2009.

The walkathon is expected to gather more volunteers and fellow Drukpas along the 400-km stretch. The Drukpa leader says he is expecting up to 1,000 followers to join him en route. They will talk to villagers about the environment and also distribute pamphlets and reusable canvas bags.

"We want to spread the message of environmental protection and are not marching for Buddhism. The aim is to interact with people living in the remotest corners of the Himalayas and get to know nature more intimately," the spiritual leader said.

"Burma VJ" (film trailer)

While 100,000 people and thousands of Buddhist monks took to the streets to protest the countryʼs repressive regime, which has held them hostage for more than 40 years, foreign news crews were banned and the Internet was shut down.

Anders Østergaardʼs award-winning documentary shows a rare look into the Saffron Revolution, the 2007 uprising in Burma through the cameras of the DVB, an independent journalist group.

The Democratic Voice of Burma is a collective of 30 anonymous, underground video journalists (VJs). They record historic events on camcorders then smuggle the footage out of the country, where it is broadcast worldwide. Risking torture and life imprisonment, the VJs vividly document brutal clashes with the military and undercover police – even as they become targets of the authorities.

Israel to lose illegal settlements

Obama takes tough and risky stance on Israeli settlements
McClatchy Newspapers (5/28/09)
WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama Thursday ratcheted up what might be America's toughest bargaining position with Israel in a generation, demanding anew that Israel stop oppressing Palestinians by expanding its settlements in the disputed West Bank as a key step toward making peace with its Arab neighbors. Full Story»

13-year-old wins National Spelling Bee

Kavya Shivashankar from Olathe, Kansas is presented the winner's trophy at the 2009 National Spelling Bee on 5/28/09 after spelling "Laodicean" (Reuters/Jim Young).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It's safe to say the best is yet to come for the new national spelling champion. She's only just become a teenager. She'll probably keep her competitive juices flowing by entering the International Brain Bee, the perfect contest for an aspiring neurosurgeon. More>>

Volcano killed global sea life

Volcano killed global sea life
A huge volcanic eruption 260 million years ago wiped out marine life around the world. "Gigantic clouds of steam"

Travel the World (Lonely Planet)

(Search by city, region, or country)

Wanderlust Festival: Yoga and Music

Kristine David
A new kind of festival brings together the world's top yogis and best rock performers in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty on July 24-26, 2009 in California.
Wanderlust will feature both yoga instructors and eclectic music artists. The festival takes place on July 24-26 at Squaw Valley USA in North Lake Tahoe. The festival is structured on the betterment of the human body and mind.

Attendees can take morning yoga classes taught by Shiva Rea, John Friend, Annie Carpenter, Christy Nones, Duncan Wong, Elena Brower, Janet Stone, and Sianna Sherman, as well as instructors from San Francisco’s Yoga Tree studios.

Musical artists will perform on stages nestled in the Sierra Nevadas. These include Michael Franti & Spearhead, Spoon, Andrew Bird, Jenny Lewis, Broken Social Scene, Gillian Welch, and Girl Talk. There will also be a series of late night DJ sessions at the Casbah stage in the village.

Buddha Boy meditating

Video of "Buddha Boy," the teenager Ram Bahadur Bomjan meditating with Italian and Nepalese commentary. The footage, set in the jungles of Nepal where he has been practicing austerities (such as severe fasting) while meditating under a Bodhi tree, speaks for itself. A brief overview of his life and bodhisattva-mission are explained in subtitles:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meet the Goode Family (cartoon)

Meet the Goode family. They're zealous vegans, they drive a hybrid, and they recycle everything possible. But despite their best efforts, something always goes haywire with their politically-correct plans. Now airing Wednesdays @ 9/8:00 pm central on ABC.

Edgar Cayce: David Wilcock interview (radio)

Part I (Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI, Part VII; Part VIII; Part IX; Part X; Part XI)

David Wilcock (Edgar Cayce) is a professional intuitive consultant who, since reading Richard C. Hoagland's The Monuments of Mars in 1993, has intensively researched ufology, ancient civilizations, consciousness science, and new paradigms for understanding of matter and energy. He is the author of a critically acclaimed trilogy of scientific research works, known as the Convergence series, which gives definitive support to the idea that a change in matter, energy, and consciousness is now occurring on the Earth and throughout the solar system.

Wilcock has appeared on broadcast television, lectured throughout the United States and Japan, published a variety of magazine articles and appeared on numerous radio talk shows. He is the co-author of the book The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, now available in bookstores nationwide, and a summary of his latest scientific work appears therein, where a breakthrough case for mass, spontaneous DNA evolution on Earth is unveiled. David is also an accomplished musician and composer within a variety of styles, including jazz-fusion, meditative, and world music.

David returned, sharing his perceptions about 2012 and parallel realities. The 2012 time frame could bring a "golden age" for humanity, with a dimensional shift that leads us into ascended states, and if there is a calamity such as a pole shift around this time, people will warp into a parallel reality and not be affected by it, he outlined.

Wilcock offered details of his conversations with "Daniel," a man who said he took part in the Montauk Project -- a series of experiments in which portals were materialized and people traveled through them. Space and time were completely inverted in the experiments so it appeared as though the subjects were traveling through time rather than space, Wilcock explained.

Wilcock also shared some of his psychic intuitions such as the United States government eventually collapsing and being replaced by nation states. Civilian outrage over the truth about 9-11 will be one of the things that leads to this, he said. Currently he is working on a film project, Convergence which he hopes will be ready for release by the end of 2008.

Burma rejects foreign criticism

Jonathan Head (BBC South East Asia correspondent)

(Above) Burma's hardline generals form dictatorship that has put Suu Kyi on trial. (Right) the trial has drawn international condemnation leading to worldwide protests.
The Burmese government has rejected foreign criticism of the charges against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as interference from abroad.

Speaking at a meeting of EU and South East Asian ministers in Cambodia, the deputy fo-reign minister insisted that her trial was not a human rights issue. US President Obama has called Ms. Suu Kyi's hearing a "show trial."

The regional group ASEAN recently warned Burma that its honor and credibility were at stake. The trial entered its ninth day on Thursday, with more testimony from the American who swam to Ms. Suu Kyi's house. More>>

Interactive map: Life in some of the areas worst-hit by last year's cyclone

Scientists fear malaria drug resistance

Jill McGivering (BBC News, Cambodia)
In a small community in Western Cambodia, scientists are puzzling over why malaria para-sites seem to be devel-oping a resistance to drugs and fearing the consequences.

Ten days ago, Chhem Bunchhin, a teacher in Battambang Province, became ill with chills, fever, headache, and vomiting. At a nearby health center he was treated with drugs considered a "silver bullet" in the battle against falciparum malaria.

This treatment with artesunate drugs was part of a clinical study being carried out by the US Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science (AFRIMS). In the past, artesunates have always cleared malaria parasites from the blood in two or three days. But after four days of monitored treatment, Chhem Bunchhin was still testing positive for parasites.

The anti-malarial drugs worked more slowly in him. Dr. Delia Bethell, an investigator working on the clinical trials (pictured right), said he wasn't alone. More>>



Beware the lottery "curse"

Beware the lottery "curse"
Everyone dreams of hitting the jackpot, but the windfall may turn into a nightmare. Shattered dreams

The "Taliban Flogging"


BBC VIDEO (0:58) Public flogging of teenage girl in Pakistan. A chief justice has ordered the girl be brought from the north-western Swat Valley. Apparent members holding, beating, and ordering her brother to help as she cries out in pain. More>>

The Issue
Much has been made of video of a "brutal" beating of a Pakistani girl accused of adultery. This has, it is said, galvanized the populations of Pakistan and Afghanistan to side with the West as it invades and destabilizes their governments. Homegrown terrorists are less of a problem than an external armed force imposing its will. WQ decided to investigate.

The segment of video available through the BBC and many other outlets is hardly spectacular and could well be fake. But assuming its authenticity, it is hard to see how this footage would incense peace loving people around the world to condone violence or despise radical tribal Muslims.

The Meaning
The act and even the threat of the act is reprehensible. Public floggings are not acceptable. (Private floggings in secret detention camps run by the US Army, the CIA, and even more secretive spy rings are okay -- so long as those extrajudicial punishments are for a good cause, such as Apple Pie, Freedom, and of course Security). And yet far more reprehensible is the invasion by the United States in a false flag operation seeking out Osama bin Laden (a.k.a. Nineteen Eighty-Four's "Emmanuel Goldstein").

The Conclusion
Abandon hate. Love even the Taliban, a propped up organization used by the US to justify invasion and covert military actions when people stop believing in the all-powerful "Al Qaeda" boogieman network. Understand that PSYOPS and propagandists exploit what they can to promote war: War is first in the heart, as a media event instigating support, then an act of terror.

Serb priest fired for beatings

Chinese occupiers beat Tibetan monks
Sri Lankan soldiers beat Tamil rebels

Kohistan nerves
Pakistani district fears Swat conflict will spill over.

The Road to Enlightenment

PHOTOS: Buddhists Meg and Mark preparing for meditation; talking outdoors (BBC)

EXETER, England (BBC) - If you're looking for a new spiritual journey, the path to enlightenment could be right under your nose. Danny Lawrence meets members of the Diamond Way Buddhist Centre in Exeter.

Whether you've abandoned a previous faith, or you're trying to conquer a bad habit, meditation could be a life-changing experience.

Members of the Diamond Way Buddhist Centre in Exeter meet for meditation twice a week. They follow the example of Buddha, a prince who lived 2,500 years ago. His own quest for enlightenment is the model for tens of millions of people around the world.

A New Beginning
After growing up in a Christian tradition, Meg Surrey has taken a new direction.

"I was brought up in the Church of England, although not strictly," she explained.

"My parents went to church maybe at Christmas and Easter, but I was christened as a baby.

"In my early teens I became interested in it and I was confirmed.

"But by the time I was about 16, I was beginning to have big questions about an outside creator and nobody seemed to be able to answer these for me.

"Gradually I became disillusioned with it."

Members of the centre come from a variety of backgrounds. Mark Brimble's is similar to Meg's.

"Like Meg, I was christened," he said. "My mother wasn't particularly involved in the church -- we'd maybe go to Midnight Mass -- and my father's an Atheist.

"I motivated myself to get involved when I was at college, but felt uncomfortable.

"I started having problems with some of the dogma and some of the issues in the Bible.

"I think most specifically because I consider myself a scientist and the two did not merge. It left me asking a lot of questions.

Meg and Mark share their discoveries.
"I went into a bit of a spiritual wilderness for some time. Then I got involved in Reiki, which is a natural method of healing, and shortly after that I became aware of Tibetan Buddhism."

Buddhism differs from some faiths in that there is no worship of a creator God. Rather, Buddhist meditation seeks to follow the teachings of the Buddha.

"Buddha was a man," explained Meg. "A very intelligent and dedicated man, but a man nevertheless.

"While we have statues and paintings of various Buddha forms, they're really just to aid our meditation. They're not gods to be worshipped."

Buddhism in the West
Buddhism's stronghold may be in Asia, but knowledge and practice of it in the West is increasing.

"This country is perhaps unusual in Europe because of its colonial past," said Meg. "Buddhism probably reached this country earlier than in some countries. More>>

Pagan-Buddhist Goddess: Cybill Shepherd (May 12, 2009)
I’m a Christian Pagan Buddhist Goddess worshiper

Cybill Shepherd with daughter Clementine Ford at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, 4/24/09 (Photo: FayesVision/

Fox News entertainment reporters have a really bad habit of asking utter B-list and C-list celebrities awkward questions about politics and sensitive cultural issues....

Something similar has happened when Cybill Shepherd and a Fox News reporter's eyes met across the crowded Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s “An Evening With Women” event.

Since this all took place at a Gay and Lesbian Center, the conversation was headed in an obvious direction. When asked about gay marriage and the passage of Prop 8 in California, Cybill laid the entirety of the Prop 8 blame at the feet of “the Mormons and the Catholics.”

After that, Cybill started talking about the evolution she’s seen in civil rights, from Memphis in the 1960s to Los Angeles in the new millennium. She’s quite eloquent...then she has to go off on what religion she practices, “Christian Pagan Buddhist Goddess worshiper.” Of course. Who isn’t? Cybill also calls herself a “feminist” and says that “I really think that probably God is a woman, that helped me to break through that celestial glass ceiling.”

...The 59-year-old’s passion to pursue the fight for gay and lesbian rights actually stemmed from Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968.

“He was killed in my hometown of Memphis, three and a half miles from my high school and I’m a product of the segregated south and I got to see that hatred up close, live that hatred, colored only, whites only, and when he was killed I was stricken with guilt and shame,” Shepherd added.

“I felt as though I hadn’t done enough to help the civil rights cause and as I gradually began to understand, what is the most recent excuse to deny people rights under the law? To treat them as less than human and once you get that kind of right thinking you realize how important it is to stand up for the gay and lesbian kids who are at greater risk because they don’t have community support and sometimes their parents kick them out. Particularly in L.A we have more runaways than anywhere in the world.”

So when it comes to Shepherd’s own faith, she’s developed quite the hybrid of religious convictions.

“I’m a Christian Pagan Buddhist Goddess worshiper, but I’m also a feminist. I think the ultimate glass ceiling is God, in another words, if we think God is a man, then we make man a God, and I studied and learned that there is a whole other history of the worshiping of the great mother,” she explained. “I really think that probably God is a woman, that helped me to break through that celestial glass ceiling.”

Reaction (from Fox News)
I actually don’t really have a problem with any of that, to each her own. Many of us probably have elements of Paganism and Goddess worship in our haphazard faith, whether we know it or not, so no judgment. I suppose my problem with what Cybill is saying is that I know how some people will take it. They’ll look at her and think “whatever, typical whack-job Hollywood,” when Cybill actually had interesting things to say about growing up in Memphis and seeing the civil rights movement up close. Full story

Paganism: Real Teen Witches

Dharmachari (for WQ)
Many are disaffected. Traditional "religion" has become nearly meaningless. There is, nevertheless, a rise in curiosity and spirituality -- a quest for Truth.

Some explore ancient paths such as Buddhism, others look to their roots for suppressed paths like Paganism. Others combine the two and playfully call themselves Pegaboos (see below). What is the West's pre-Christian tradition, and what is the attraction?

(BBC) It is not clear why Pagan-ism is so popular among young peo-ple in the UK while the Christian Church struggles to raise the num-bers of teenagers in the pews. But the youth-friendly image of Paganism may have something to do with it. There certainly aren't too many cool teenage Christians on TV.

PHOTOS: Paganism as modern ritual (; pentagram art, Kelly Hampson (; group of teenage witches/Pagans in Oxfordshire, England, left to right: Julia, Candice, Paul, Emily, Sabrina, Catherine ©; "witchdoctor" in Gambia, Africa; tree shrine on Mt. Koya, Japan (

It's cool to be a Witch
Since the 1960s young people have become interested in magic and the spiritual world through popular books, television series, and films.

Bewitched (1964-1972) showed one of the first representations of a Witch on television. Samantha was a quirky housewife with magical powers who was desperately trying to conform to the 1960s ideal and stop her "witchiness" leaking out.

The 1980s and 1990s saw a huge rise in the popularity of magic and Witchcraft as it began to flood the mainstream media. Witchcraft became much more acceptable and the characters portrayed were much stronger and more open about their practices.

A US television drama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has probably been the most influential media representation of Witchcraft. One of the main characters, Willow, is an alternative to the sugary "Barbie"-type role model. She is a Witch who dabbles in lesbianism, dresses in sexy clothes, and casts spells.

Hollywood also picked up on the trend for the magical with films like The Witches of Eastwick (1987), The Craft (1996) and Practical Magic (1998). More>>

African "Witchcraft" Gone Wrong

Twenty-five people with albinism have been murdered in Tanzania since March, a BBC investigation has found. Albinos are targeted for body parts that are used in witchcraft, and killings continue despite government efforts to stamp out the grisly practice. Karen Allen reports.

Dharmachari (WQ)
Pagabu (portmanteau: Pagan-Buddhist). Can Buddhists really be Pagans as well? Yes, it is quite possible. Wicca, Paganism, and Earth-based spiritual paths blend well. Fear arises because these peaceful traditions are now linked in the popular imagination with black magic.

That links it to Satanism (a largely Christian invention), vandalism, and a well ingrained anti-indigenous sentiment. These are the result of a centuries-old Church campaign to stamp out indigenous spirituality.

The nominal "Christianity" that usurped original spiritual practices was not an authentic representation. It bears little resemblance to its namesake's revolutionary wish to save people from the path of perdition (to an unfortunate rebirth) and oppressive Roman rule. But story is stronger than fact. And framed in this way, Paganism and teen witchcraft have an uphill public relations battle that is all but futile.

That, too, makes witchcraft attractive, particularly to modern teens. Who wants a tradition mummy and daddy think is safe, sanitary, and mundane...when there is an underdog position to champion?

Moreover, teens in particular are allergic to hypocrisy. For example, Ireland was once a Pagan stronghold communicating with fairies, serpents/dragons (nagas), and other nature spirits. Then the Church came. And St. Patrick drove the serpents off the emerald isle.

The real danger in witchcraft -- whether it's white magic, black magic, or mixed -- is that it is often rooted in unskillful states:
  • greed for money or power
  • hate of one's tormentors or rivals
  • delusion about self, ego, and the world

All of these are karmic issues. If witchcraft gives one an unfair advantage, or if it acts as an outlet for heartfully/mentally-defiled states (rooted in lust, anger, delusion), karma will bear bitter fruit.

Still some say, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." But it is better to remember that, "Whatever one does will come back upon one tenfold." So the only wise thing to do is what one would wish to experience. Then the Pagan message seems not so removed from the golden rule we find in so many paths and traditions. Buddhism is open and invites exploration, and there is no need to give up the tradition one was born into, so the same caveats apply. After all, a mind is like a parachute. It only works when it opens.