Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thailand tourist islands flood in deadly rains

Unseasonal cold and heavy rains have swept through the south of the country.

THAILAND (BBC) - Flooding across the south of Thailand has killed at least 11 people and stranded thousands of tourists. See pictures (Thailand floods).

Police told the BBC that landslides in Krabi have killed two people and left at least 20 people missing. The airport on the tourist island of Samui has been closed. Koh Tao has also become inaccessible due to heavy seas. "It was so deep trucks were floating." The Thai navy has sent its only aircraft carrier to the area to help rescue people stranded by the unseasonal cold and rain.

'Thailand

Unusual weather in what should be a hot season has seen rainstorms drenching the towns in most of 14 southern provinces. The provinces of Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Trang, Krabi, and Phatthalung have been the hardest hit. Rising floodwaters have hampered relief efforts. Officials in Krabi said they are checking reports that landslides have buried several villages. Tourists stuck: Air travel, road, and rail links have been flooded and electricity cut to many areas. More

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

India demolishes Pakistan (Sports-War)

Wisdom Quarterly (Sports and History Analysis)

Q: "What do you call a pancake with nuclear capabilities?" A: "Pakistan" (or India depending on who's telling the joke, as heard on "The Simpsons").

Author-humorist Douglas Adams lampooned them the great "Krikit Wars" in the sci-fi comedy series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Obscure in the West, cricket is a phenomenally popular sport in former British colonies like India. It can only be compared to Super Bowl football, or baseball during an exciting rivalry, or basketball when a player's criminal conduct is in the news.

A billion people watched yesterday as an Asian country went up against another. Former countrymen, current nuclear-armed enemies India and Pakistan met in the "IndoPak clash." Even their political leaders set aside dangerous animosity long enough for things to play out on the sports field. (India is particularly upset about terrorist bombings that were possibly state sanctioned and assisted acts by Pakistan).

India crushed Pakistan, a country it was only separated from sixty years ago. Sri Lanka is next. The British, who were exiting, drew lines and created countries because they wanted to leave behind fighting neighbors that would take out their animosity on each other rather than the colonialists. In fact, England has been creating problems in the region -- and extracting resources with stunning proficiency -- for centuries: Afghanistan was created and demarcated by the Durand/Zero Line between realms to be pilfered by various powers ever since.

Today, the US is the colonial power attempting to rob the area blind. But China demands a share of the pie, just as Russia once did. Buddhist history is the casualty. Not only is China happy to bury one of the first great Buddhist monasteries on the Silk Route (Mes Aynak), America will level the entire country for strategic advantage, an oil pipeline, minerals, and incontestable military dominance in the region.

It also explains why British archaeologists were motivated to locate Buddhist historical and pilgrimage sites in Nepal and India proper. But India used to extend all the way to this Central Asian hinterland, Gandhara (Bamiyan/Kapilavastu, Afghanistan, Baluchistan/Lumbini, and Pakistan). LINK: "Crossing Zero: The Durand Line Then and Now"

China's thirst for copper will destroy Buddhist history - Communist China targets Afghan minerals - Chinese copper mine in Afghanistan is a massive 2600-year-old Buddhist temple site - AFGHANISTAN'S UNTOLD HISTORY

3-Minute Meditation Technique


Watch 3 Minute Meditation in Faith & Spirituality  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Stress? Frenzy? Dr. Judith Orloff suggests this simple "meditation." Stop. Take a deep breath (pulling in prana). Place your hand over your heart (activating heart chakra).

This is energy medicine, transforming emotion by this simple technique. The mind goes to a peaceful place as we stand right where we are. In a sense, the technique pulls the calm and levelheadedness we experience when we're calm into the moment when we are not.

It's as simple as that. The reptilian brain (fear, worry, anxiety that thrusts us into a thoughtless, protective, survival-mentality in desperate mode), the linear mind, and our habits have a "normal" way of doing things. They have brought us to stress, worry, and even a frenzy.

The heart, on the other hand, stretches, is flexible, and sees things in new ways. It is like the shaman figure in "The Fall" versus the linear thinkers that lead us to the edge of ruin.

Orloff claims that Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Nobel Peace Prize laureate and its democratically-elected but deposed leader, wrote her recently stating that she was reading Emotional Freedom using Kindle (eBook reader). Even peace leaders need comfort, Orloff claims. (Hear her interview on The Aware Show).

NEWSFLASH: Our emotional energy literally and measurably affects everything around us, particularly our electronic devices and gadgets (computers, cell phones, iThangs) and energy vampires. Frenzy will lead to frustration with our technology, and it's no coincidence. Patience is transformative and a spiritual practice in itself. We can intuitively know when the time is right.

Invisible History: Buddhist Afghanistan

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould (InvisibleHistory.com) Wisdom Quarterly

Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story tells the story of how Afghanistan brought the United States [like Russia and England beforehand] to this strange place in time after nearly six decades of American policy in Eurasia. VIDEO: The Story Explained with Pictures


The authors visit San Francisco, Los Angeles

"Afghanistan" is older than America with a complex, multi-ethnic culture, deep roots in mystical [pre-Islamic] Zoroastrian and Sufi traditions. It has played a pivotal role in the rise and fall of empires.

Invisible History provides sobering facts and details every American should have known about America’s secret war, but were never told. What was the real story behind the propaganda? More

Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire focuses on the AfPak strategy and the importance of the Durand/Zero Line. That line is the border separating Pakistan from Afghanistan, referred to by the military and intelligence community as the Zero Line.

The U.S. fought on the side of extremist-political Islam from Pakistan during the 1980s and against it from Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

It is therefore appropriate to think of the Durand/Zero line as the place where America’s intentions face themselves -- the alpha and omega of nearly 60 years of American policy in Eurasia. The Durand Line is visible on a map. The Zero Line is not. More

Japan Nukes: Sorry, but import our exports

Humbled Japan vows improvements on nukes

(TIME) People signal contrition in a lot of ways, and few countries are better at it than the Japanese -- a culture rich in the art of social protocols and interpersonal gesturing. It was not for nothing, then, that when Prime Minister Naoto Kan spoke before parliament this week about the country's ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. He wore a durable, light blue work jacket -- the kind bureaucrats all over Tokyo have been wearing since the emergency began. We're on it, the jacket telegraphs; we're making things right. One other thing it says too: We're sorry.

Japanese nisonbutsu: bodhisattvas for wisdom (left) and mercy (Pictabelle)

No unfair nuclear-linked export bans, Japan pleads

LONDON (Reuters, March 29) - Japan asked importers not to impose any "unfair" import bans on its goods as a result of the nuclear accident that resulted from an earthquake and tsunami in the country on March 11. A Japanese diplomat speaking at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Tuesday said it was a matter of "regret" that there was unease among importers over the damage done to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on the country's northeast coast and subsequent radiation leaks. "We request members not to impose unfair restrictions on Japanese exports," he told delegates. Several countries have banned milk and produce from the areas near Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant because of contamination fears. Food makes up 1 percent of Japan's exports.

Sex, Drugs, and Mao Zedong - Marijuana College Focuses on Higher Education - Toxic Plutonium Seeps Out Japan Nuke Plant - Colombia's Cocaine Submarines Lead in Drug War - China Courts Nepal with an Eye to India and Tibet - Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin - Secret Society at Yale unlike Skull & Bones: Eliezer

The Way, the Truth, and the Zen

Wisdom Quarterly
videoRoshi Jeff Albrizze keeps them laughing at Alexandria II bookstore, Pasadena, CA, 2011

California has a light in a recovering Christian preacher named Jeff Albrizze, founder of PasaDharma.org. Raised in an abusive Catholic environment, the Pasadena-area Zen organizer slipped into self-medicating, aggressive tattooing, and other destructive habits only to come out the other end as a guiding light in the Los Angeles Buddhist community.

Finding even contemplative Catholicism lacking, Roshi Jeff went full bore into Protestant fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. It was ultimately unfulfilling, as it did not produce the promised peace and communion (non-duality) with divinity. Quantum entanglement, entrainment, that connection that unites us all in some global Oneness, to experience that is to experience and touch a peace available to us all regardless of tradition... might that be "GOD" or divinity without borders?

The goal of PasaDharma is to meet the needs of spiritual seekers along the Los Angeles foothill communities. "We come at it in different ways," states Roshi Jeff who has seen many of them, "from atheism to Paganism to Zen." Ultimately, it's more about community (sangha) than labels.

PasaDharma meets weekly (Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm) at Pasadena's Neighborhood Unitarian Church, free, with Zen sitting sessions, discussion, and walking meditation, embracing everyone in the spirit of Universality Unitarianism and compassionate Zen. Roshi Jeff will also be presenting the second in a series of fun, humorous, and informative talks at Alexandria II bookstore on April 6, 2011:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Women start to become like their moms at...

Daily Mail (March 28, 2011)

Like Mother. Like Daughter
It seems inevitable that we would all share more than a few similarities with our mothers. But now researchers have pinpointed the age of 32 as the time when we finally start to take in more of our maternal influences. A poll of 1,000 adults revealed that at that age they started to use phrases inherited from their mothers during their upbringing. Sayings included "Don't make a face like that, if the wind changes, you'll stay like it." Many began to use words and phrases from their mother's era. Other people in the survey said they acquired habits such as worrying, stocking up on groceries, watching soaps, and being opinionated. More

The Buddha's "Gradual Training" (sutra)

"Discourse to Ganaka Moggallana," (MN 107), Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikaya) translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, edited by Wisdom Quarterly

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Buddha was living in the city of Sāvatthī in the Eastern Park, in the monastery donated by Migāra’s mother. The brahmin Gaṇaka Moggallāna went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings. He sat respectfully to one side and said:

2. “Master Gautama [Pali, Gotama], in this monastery there can be seen gradual training, gradual practice, and gradual progress, that is, down to the last step of the staircase. Among these brahmins too, there can be seen gradual training, gradual practice, and gradual progress, that is, in study. Among archers too...that is, in archery. And also among accountants like us, who earn our living by accountancy, there can be seen gradual training...that is, in computation. For when we get an apprentice first we make him count: one one...nine nines, ten tens; and we make him count a hundred too. Is it possible, Master Gautama, to describe gradual training, gradual ptheractice, and gradual progress in this Doctrine and Discipline?”

[The Gradual Training]


3. “It is possible, brahmin, to describe gradual training, gradual practice, and gradual progress in this Doctrine and Discipline. Brahmin, just as when a clever horse-trainer obtains a fine thoroughbred colt, he first makes him get used to wearing the bit, and afterwards trains him further, so when the Tathāgata [the Buddha himself] obtains a person to be tamed [trained full-time as a temporary or permanent monastic] he first disciplines that person thus: ‘Come, trainee, be virtuous, restrained with the restraint of the disciplinary rules [the Path-to-Moksha, explained in detail here], be perfect in conduct and resort, and seeing fear even in the slightest fault, train by undertaking the training precepts.’

[Virtue]

4. “When, brahmin, the trainee is virtuous...and seeing fear even in the slightest fault, trains by undertaking the training precepts, then the Tathāgata disciplines that person further: ‘Come, trainee, guard the doors of your sense faculties. On seeing a form with the eye, do not grasp at its signs and features. If you were to leave the eye faculty unguarded, unskillful unwholesome states of covetousness and grief might invade you. Instead, practice the way of its restraint, guard the eye faculty, undertake the restraint of the eye faculty. On hearing a sound... On smelling an odor... On tasting a flavor... On touching a tangible with the body... On cognizing a mind-object with the mind, do not grasp at its signs and features. If you were to leave the mind faculty unguarded, unskillful unwholesome states of covetousness and grief might invade you. Instead, practice the way of its restraint, guard the mind faculty, undertake the restraint of the mind faculty.’

5. “When, brahmin, the trainee guards the doors of his sense faculties, then the Tathāgata disciplines that person further: ‘Come, trainee, be moderate in eating. Reflecting wisely, you should take food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty, but only for the endurance and continuance of this body, for ending discomfort, and for assisting the supreme life [aimed at liberation], considering: ‘By eating I will terminate feelings of hunger without arousing new feelings of greed, and I will be healthy, blameless, and live in comfort.’”

[Mindful and Clearly Aware]

6. “When, brahmin, the trainee is moderate in eating, then the Tathāgata disciplines that person further: ‘Come, trainee, be devoted to wakefulness [alert, mindful, conscientious, and aware of what one is doing]. During the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states. In the middle watch of the night you should lie down on the right side in the lion’s posture [as when the Buddha passed into nirvana] with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and fully aware, after noting in your mind the time for rising. After rising, in the third watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states.’

7. “When, brahmin, the trainee is devoted to wakefulness, then the Tathāgata disciplines that person further: ‘Come, trainee, be possessed of mindfulness and full awareness [sati-sampajanna]. Act in full awareness when going and returning... when looking ahead and looking away... when flexing and extending your limbs... when wearing your robes and carrying your outer robe and bowl... when defecating and urinating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent.’

8. “When, brahmin, the trainee possesses mindfulness and full awareness, then the Tathāgata disciplines that person further: ‘Come, trainee, resort to a secluded resting place: the forest, the root of a tree, a mountain, a ravine, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle thicket, an open space, a heap of straw.’

[Retreating into Seclusion]

9. “The trainee resorts to a secluded resting place: the forest... a heap of straw. On returning from almsround and eating, one sits down, folding legs crosswise, setting the body erect, and establishing mindfulness in front of one. Abandoning covetousness for the world, one abides with a mind free of covetousness, purifies the mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and hatred, one abides with a mind free of ill will, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings; one purifies the mind from ill will and hatred. Abandoning sloth and torpor, one abides free of sloth and torpor, perceiving light, mindful and fully aware; one purifies the mind of sloth and torpor. Abandoning restlessness and remorse, one abides unagitated with a mind inwardly peaceful; one purifies the mind of restlessness and remorse. Abandoning doubt, one abides having gone beyond doubt, unperplexed about wholesome states; one purifies the mind of doubt.

[Reaching Absorption (Zen)]

10. “Having thus abandoned these Five Hindrances, imperfections of the mind that weaken insight, quite secluded [and withdrawn] from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind [related to lust, aversion, delusion, fear], one enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption (jhāna, dhyana, zen), which is accompanied by applied and sustained attention, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion [from sensual pleasures and mental distractions; seclusion is both physical and mental, although the mental is much more important]. With the stilling of applied and sustained attention, one enters upon and abides in the second meditative absorption (jhāna), which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained attention, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, one abides in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body [piti is called "rapture" because it is literally pleasurable], one enters upon and abides in the third meditative absorption, on account of which noble ones say: ‘One indeed has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.’ Surpassing both pleasure and pain, and with the previous abandoning of joy and grief, one enters upon and abides in the fourth meditative absorption, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.

[Reaching Enlightenment]

11. “This is my instruction, brahmin, to those trainees who are in the higher training, whose minds have not yet attained the goal [glimpsing nirvana, enlightenment], who abide aspiring to the supreme security from bondage [nirvana]. But these things conduce both to a pleasant abiding here and now and to mindfulness and full awareness for those trainees who [have gone beyond training and] are saints with taints destroyed, who have lived the supreme life, done what there was to be done, laid down the burden, reached their own goal, destroyed the fetters of becoming, and are completely liberated through final knowledge [insight, full enlightenment].”

[Attaining Nirvana]

12. When this was said, the brahmin Gaṇaka Moggallāna asked the Buddha: “When Master Gautama’s disciples are thus advised and instructed by him, do they all attain nirvana (Pali, nibbāna), the ultimate goal, or do some not attain it?” “When, brahmin, they are thus advised and instructed by me, some of my disciples attain nirvana, the ultimate goal, and some do not attain it.”

13. “Master Gautama, since nirvana exists and the path leading to nirvana exists and Master Gautama is present as the guide, what it the cause and reason why, when Master Gautama’s disciples are thus advised and instructed by him, some of them attain nirvana, the ultimate goal, and some do not attain it?”

[The Road to Nirvana]

14. “In answer, brahmin, I will ask you a question, and you answer it as you see fit. Brahmin, are you familiar with the road leading to Rājagaha? [the famous capital of Magadha, where the Buddha spent a great deal of time].” “Yes, Master Gautama.” “Brahmin, suppose a man came who wanted to go to Rājagaha, and he approached you and said: ‘Venerable sir, I want to go to Rājagaha. Show me the road to Rājagaha.’ Then you told him: ‘Now, good man, this road goes to Rājagaha. Follow it for awhile and you will see a certain village, go a little further and you will see a certain town, go a little further and you will see Rājagaha with its lovely parks, groves, meadows, and ponds.’ Then, having been thus advised and instructed by you, he would take a wrong road and would go to the west. Then a second man came who wanted to go to Rājagaha, and he approached you and said: ‘Venerable sir, I want to go to Rājagaha. Show me the road to Rājagaha.’ Then you told him: ‘Now, good man, this road goes to Rājagaha. Follow it for awhile...and you will see Rājagaha with its lovely parks, groves, meadows, and ponds.’ Then, having been thus advised and instructed by you, he would arrive safely in Rājagaha. Now, brahmin, since Rājagaha exists, and the path leading to Rājagaha exists, and you are present as the guide, what is the cause, what is the reason why, when those men have been thus advised and instructed by you, one man takes a wrong road and goes to the west and one arrives safely in Rājagaha?” “What can I do about that, Master Gautama? I am one who shows the way.” “So too, brahmin, nirvana exists, and the path leading to nirvana exists, and I am present as the guide. Yet when my disciples have been thus advised and instructed by me, some of them attain nirvana, the ultimate goal, and some do not attain it. What can I do about that, brahmin? The Tathāgata is one who shows the way.”

[NOTE: Just as the Dharma points to the Truth and is itself true but not the Truth it points to, so those on the Path must never confuse religion or tradition with the final Truth of liberation, which is directly visible here and now in this very life for those who practice the training but not for those who merely study it.]

[Who strays?]

15. When this was said, the brahmin Gaṇaka Moggallāna said to the Buddha: “There are persons who are faithless and have gone forth from the home life into the left-home life not out of confidence but seeking an easy livelihood, who are fraudulent, deceitful, treacherous, haughty, hollow, personally vain, rough-tongued, loose-spoken, unguarded in their sense faculties, immoderate in eating, undevoted to wakefulness, unconcerned with recluseship, not greatly respectful of training, luxurious, careless, leaders in backsliding, neglectful of seclusion, lazy, wanting in energy, unmindful, not fully aware, unconcentrated, with straying minds, devoid of wisdom, drivellers. Master Gautama does not dwell together with these. “But there are others who have gone forth out of confidence [in the Buddha, Dharma, or Sangha] from the home life into the left-home life, who are ethical, honest, conscientious, humble, sturdy, above board, tactful, and careful in speech; who are guarded in their sense faculties, moderate in eating, devoted to wakefulness, concerned with recluseship, greatly respectful of training, frugal and careful, who are keen to avoid backsliding, leaders in seclusion, energetic, resolute, established in mindfulness, fully aware, concentrated, with unified minds, possessing wisdom, not drivellers. Master Gautama dwells together with these.

16. “Just as black orris root is reckoned the best of root perfumes, red sandalwood the best of wood perfumes, and jasmine the best of flower perfumes, so too, Master Gautama’s advice is supreme among the teachings of today.

17. “Magnificent, Master Gautama! Magnificent, Master Gautama! Master Gautama has made the Doctrine (Dharma) clear in many ways, as though he were turning upright what had been overturned, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see forms. I go to Master Gautama for guidance (sarana) and to the Dharma [the truth revealed by the Buddha] and to the Sangha of [heedful and accomplished] trainees. Let Master Gautama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for guidance for life.”

Original translation: PaliCanon.org; alternative translations at DhammaWeb.net and AccessToInsight.org

U.S. Buddhist teacher to visit New Zealand

U.S. Buddhist teacher to visit New Zealand
April 2011 sees the first visit to New Zealand by U.S. insight meditation (vipassana) teacher Eric Kolvig.

With a particular interest in grassroots Dharma, building spiritual community in democratic and non-authoritarian ways, Eric has been teaching in the insight Buddhist tradition since 1985, leading meditation retreats and giving public talks around the U.S.

His first stop in New Zealand will be Christchurch, where he will be leading a post-quake community gathering focussing on “Mindfulness of the Mind, and Mindfulness of the Body in Challenging Times” on Sunday 3 April.

On Thursday April 7th will see him in Wellington at St. Andrews on The Terrace speaking on the topic of “Engaging With World Tragedy,” in which he will be reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

“With our minds we make our world,” said Eric Kolvig. “Our minds have made most of our tragedies: personal ones like ruined relationships, social ones like injustice and war, and global ones like earthquakes and climate change.” In this talk, he will be suggesting how we can master these all-important minds, moment by moment, to create well-being on our planet, and also in our societies and our personal lives. More

CIA: Truth more savage than fiction (video)

“Fair Game” Blu-ray widescreen and DVD widescreen, 2010, PG-13 for brief language. Best extra: There’s only one and it’s a doozie -- the commentary with former C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame-Wilson and her husband, Joe Wilson.

“IT’S A SURREAL experience,” Valerie Plame says, reacting to the movie based on her assignment as a C.I.A. operative. Plame had been assigned to a special task force to investigate Saddam Hussein’s reported weapons of mass destruction. When results proved he had none, her identity was revealed by the traitorous Bush administration -- putting Plame, her family, and the informants she had worked with in jeopardy. It is assumed that many of Plame’s contacts died. More

How Western diets are making world sick


(Fresh Air, NPR) In an essay published last November in Canada's Maisonneuve journal, physician Kevin Patterson described his experiences working as an internist-intensivist at the Canadian Combat Surgical Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

One detail he noticed: The Afghan soldiers, police, and civilians he treated in Kandahar had radically different bodies from those of the Canadians he took care of back home.

"Typical Afghan civilians and soldiers would have been 140 pounds or so as adults. And when we operated on them, what we were aware of was the absence of any fat or any adipose tissue underneath the skin," Patterson says.

"Of course, when we operated on Canadians or Americans or Europeans, what was normal was to have most of the organs encased in fat. It had a visceral potency to it when you could see it directly there."

In a conversation on Fresh Air, Patterson tells Terry Gross that the effects of urbanization are making people everywhere in the world both fatter and sicker. More

Science looks for Yeti; Knobby Bigfoot a fake

Science May Start Tracking the Yeti

Kevin Makice (Wired.com)
(What will a yeti look like close up? Something like this Australian square poop dropping wombat). Is the yeti of mythology a surviving tribe of Neandertals?

Maybe science will tell us. As geeks, we are encouraged to suspend disbelief while simultaneously challenging everything we see and hear. We want to believe, but our geek roots [want scientific validation for everything before we allow ourselves to believe, without understanding how "science" actually works as a politically and financially tainted endeavor far from objectivity].

That tension is possibly being resolved on one front. The Russians are establishing a scientific institute on the study of yetis (Buddhist yakshis, ogres), hairy ape-like creatures rumored to inhabit the Himalayas. Yes, Abominable Snow Beings (yetis).

Officials in coal-mining region of Kemerovo Oblast announced plans today to open a Yeti Institute at the Kemerovo State University, a 38-year-old higher education entity in western Siberia. KSU boasts 31,000 students and is best known for reviving regional languages, like Shor. Yeti researcher Igor Burtsev reportedly claimed that 30 Russian scientists are currently studying yetis, and the Institute could allow them to better collaborate.

“We think that the yeti is a separate branch of human evolution. It lives in harmony with nature,” Burtsev was quoted as saying. Burtsev believes there may be a local community of these creatures that are Neandertals who survived extinction. More

Knobby Bigfoot video a fake

(Digital News Report) A [very fake looking] five second video of Bigfoot scurrying across a road in North Carolina has millions of views on YouTube. The user, Knobbylives, claims to have shot the footage on the Golden Valley Church Road, Shelby, NC on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. The creature shuffled across the road and went into the woods, according to the poster.... More

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To the brain, pain of rejection really hurts

What is "suffering" other than the phantom of our cognitive interpretations? Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. It is brought on by our response to circumstances.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – The pain of rejection is more than just a figure of speech. The regions of the brain that respond to physical pain overlap with those that react to social rejection, according to a new study that used brain imaging on people involved in romantic breakups.

"These results give new meaning to the idea that rejection 'hurts,'" wrote psychology professor Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and his colleagues. Their findings are reported in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Co-author Edward Smith of Columbia University explained that the research shows that psychological or social events can affect regions of the brain that scientists thought were dedicated to physical pain.

In a way, we're saying "it's not a metaphor," Smith said in a telephone interview.

The study involved 40 volunteers who went through an unwanted romantic break-up in the previous six months and who said thinking about the break-up caused them to feel intensely rejected.

Functional MRI's were used to study their brains in four situations: When viewing a photo of the ex-partner and thinking about the break-up; when viewing a photo of a friend and thinking of a positive experience with that person; when a device placed on their arm produced a gentle, comforting warmth, and when that device became hot enough to cause pain, though not physical damage.

The two negative situations -- thinking about the loss of a partner and the burn -- caused response in the overlapping parts of the brain, the study found.

Previous studies had not shown a relationship between physical and emotional pain, but those had used a less dramatic event, such as simply being told someone doesn't like you, Smith said.

In this case, the volunteers were people who had actually been rejected and were still feeling it, he said.

There is evidence that emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one, can affect people physically, and Smith said studies like this may help researchers devise ways to aid people who are sensitive to loss or rejection.

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Small town baffled by triangle of lights Residents of Lafayette, Colorado are buzzing about an eerie formation caught on video, and FAA refuses to comment. Britain's "Roswell event" - Farewell to comet-hunter - NASA servers vulnerable

How Japan's religions confront tragedy


Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Proud of their secular society, most Japanese aren't religious in the way Americans are: They tend not to identify with a single tradition nor study religious texts.

"The average Japanese person doesn’t consciously turn to Buddhism until there’s a funeral [for ceremonial necessities],” says Brian Bocking, an expert in Japanese religions at Ireland’s University College Cork. When there is a funeral, though, Japanese religious engagement tends to be pretty intense.

“A very large number of Japanese people believe that what they do for their ancestors after death matters, which might not be what we expect from a secular society,” says Bocking. “There’s widespread belief in the presence of ancestors’ spirits.”

Kannon Bosatsu (Kwan Yin Bodhisattva) is widely revered.

In the days and weeks ahead, huge numbers of Japanese will be turning to their country’s religious traditions as they mourn the thousands of dead and try to muster the strength and resources to rebuild amid the massive destruction wrought [its] 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami [and nuclear disaster].

For most Japanese, religion is more complex than adhering to the country’s ancient Buddhist tradition. They blend Buddhist beliefs and customs with the country’s ancient Shinto tradition, which was formalized around the 15th century.

“Japanese are not religious in the way that people in North America are religious,” says John Nelson, chair of theology and religious studies at the University of San Francisco. “They’ll move back and forth between two or more religious traditions, seeing them as tools that are appropriate for certain situations.”

“For things connected to life-affirming events, they’ll turn to Shinto-style rituals or understandings,” Nelson says. “But in connection to tragedy or suffering, it’s Buddhism.”

There are many schools of Japanese Buddhism, each with its own teachings about suffering and what happens after death. “There are many Buddhist explanations of why calamities happen: from collective karma to seeing calamities as signs of apocalypse,” says Jimmy Yu, an assistant professor of Buddhism and Chinese religions at Florida State University. “And perhaps all of them are irrelevant to what needs to be done.”

Indeed, where Christianity, Judaism, or Islam are often preoccupied with causes of disaster -- the questions of why God would allow an earthquake, for example -- Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Shinto focus on behavior in reaction to tragedy.

“It’s very important in Japanese life to react in a positive way, to be persistent and to clean up in the face of adversity, and their religions would emphasize that,” says University College Cork’s Bocking. “They’ll say we have to develop a powerful, even joyful attitude in the face of adversity.” More

...Many young Japanese have left Buddhism, accusing priests of profiting from grief because of their paid roles in burials. Critics say the priests spend money from funerals on temples without playing a broader role in society.

“The earthquake is an opportunity for Buddhist priests to step up and show they are still relevant,” says Nelson. “Young people just aren’t buying it anymore.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chanting Buddhism, East and West (video)


(Wisdom Quarterly) There is much to be said in favor of chanting. Just as ancient seers (rishis) in India preserved the Books of Sacred Knowledge (Vedas), so Buddhist monks preserved the Dharma by memorizing, studying, and reciting the sutras. There was soon no necessity to preserve them that way with the advent of writing them down (first on palm leaves in Sri Lanka then on other media as they spread beyond India). But to preserve the living tradition, monks have continued to learn, recite, practice, teach (Dharma), and deliver them as sermons (bhana) through chanting. Americans have joined Asian practitioners, and many chants are now done in English. One practice that originated in Japan, Soka Gakkai (SGI) or "Tina Turner chanting" (Nam myoho renge kyo) is the fastest growing. Unlike most forms of Buddhism, it draws in large numbers of African- and Hispanic-American practitioners. SGI promises material wealth more than spiritual fulfillment. But the point is not lost. Chants (as in the yogic practice of japa or Christian-mystic practice of prayer) are meant to reduce discursive thinking and bring peace of mind. The second video is an example of ancient Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist Pali (the language closest to the Magadhi the Buddha spoke) and modern American English chanting.

Cures: What about radiation risks?

Wisdom Quarterly

How to Cure Radiation Toxicity

LONG BEACH, California - Cary Harrison (KPFK's Go Harrison! Facebook Japan updates) appeared at this year's Health Freedom Expo to moderate a panel on radiation exposure. He is currently on his way to Japan to help in any way he can. He's traveling by boat as an ersatz worker and plans to become a Merchant Marine, experiencing a typhoon near Hawaii. But his KPFK radio show is still on the air (Mondays, 2:00 pm). One of the panelists offers insight into what radiation levels if any are safe. Unfortunately, according to the Petkau effect, chronic low exposure is worse than be massive irradiation levels. This counterintuitive finding was discovered by accident in previous disasters. Listen to a recording of this weekend's panel discussion which talks about detoxification from radiation sickness and prevention through good immunity and low-stress levels, at the KPFK Audio Archives (March 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM). The Japan Mercy Fund (win an electric scooter) NOTE: Eat seaweed (kombu has more iodine than kelp), strawberries, and miso soup. Avoid iodine pills, which are toxic.

Richard Knox (NPR) Japanese Buddhist monk Tanaka Tokuun, who was evacuated from Fukushima prefecture, looks over an instrument measuring radiation levels (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images).

Why We May Not Learn Much New About Radiation Risks

When it comes to health effects from low radiation doses, scientists don't know beans. To be more precise, doses below 100 millisieverts are in a gray zone. Safety standards -- such as the one that limits drinking water exposure for infants to less than about 2 millisieverts -- are based on extrapolation from the best data scientists have.

Those figures come mainly from a 60-year study of health effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. That was a unique research opportunity, and one hopes it remains that way. But some scientists think the Fukushima power plant disaster -- the second-worst nuclear power accident in history -- offers another precious opportunity to learn more about what happens to people exposed to radioactivity in the millisievert range.

An article posted Wednesday by The New Scientist quotes experts who say there's no time to lose in setting up a study that would map radiation doses and monitor the health of those who've been exposed in the Japanese incident. One of those experts points to the Hiroshima-based Radiation Effects Research Foundation as the obvious candidate to do the work. It has conducted the six-decade-long project following atomic-bomb survivors. More

Doctors warn about "Facebook Depression"


Facebook can be a tough social landscape for teens already prone to poor self-esteem. We at Wisdom Quarterly have it, too, to see everyone looking so happy and perfect, while our lives are a triumph of mediocrity.

(We didn't even know we were on Facebook until this weekend during X Factor auditions and labor strikes as we dodge nuclear fallout and D.C. dives into debt with eyes wide open). Now doctors warn it's real and growing:

CHICAGO (L.A. Times) — Add "Facebook depression" to potential harms linked with social media, an influential doctors' group warns. Researchers disagree on whether it's an extension of depression some kids feel in other circumstances, or a distinct condition linked with the online site.

But there are unique aspects of Facebook that can make it a particularly tough social landscape for kids already dealing with poor self-esteem, said Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines.

With in-your-face friends' tallies, status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times, Facebook pages can make some kids feel even worse if they think they don't measure up. It can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters that can make kids feel down, O'Keeffe said, because Facebook provides a skewed view of what's really going on. More

Latest on Burma (Myanmar) Earthquake

() By Tracy Pfeiffer with anchors Chance Seales. "Asia is on edge after another earthquake hit the southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known by its former name of Burma. ABC has more." ABC Anchor Juju Chang: "It measured 6.8, shaking across hundreds of miles. So far more than 70 people have died, but the toll is expected to rise. Hundreds of homes, Buddhist monasteries, and government buildings have been damaged." The quake occurred in what's known as the "Golden Triangle," a region where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand border one another. As a result, shaking and aftershocks were felt in these countries as well as China and Vietnam. An article from the BBC says, even though the Burmese government has released information about the death toll and injuries, it might be some time before the rest of the world gets an accurate picture of the damage. "Burma is ill prepared to deal with natural disasters. ... Communication systems and infrastructure are poor and the military government, still in charge until the handover to a new civilian-led administration, tends to limit the flow of information." And a writer for TIME notes, the current government has a history of questionable crises responses. "During the last natural disaster to hit Burma -- Cyclone Nargis in 2008 -- the government was criticized for placing state security over humanitarian concerns... During the 1980s, a large section of the city of Mandalay was destroyed by fire, but news did not reach the outside world until a Western journalist traveled there nearly five years later." But a writer for Christian Science Monitor focuses on the potential economic impact of the quake and says, financial consequences will be limited. "...[A]side from agriculture and limited tourism, the only other industry of note in the so-called Golden Triangle is opium, and that has been in decline for more than a decade. What remains of the drug industry serves Asia... Illegal though it may be, the industry would feel the same effect as legitimate manufacturers would." A volunteer on the ground tells Sydney Morning Herald, "unhappy information" will likely come out of the rural areas of Myanmar as the recovery progresses.

MSNBC shuts down FoxNew's Glenn Beck

Burials Deepen Japan's Tragedy (video)

 (LINK)
YAMAMOTO, Japan (NPR, March 27, 2011) - The funeral for Chieko Mori's daughter and granddaughter was an affront to Japanese sacred customs -- the two were placed in simple wooden coffins that soldiers lowered into a ditch in a vegetable patch as a backhoe poured in earth, burying them alongside scores of other bodies.

Such an unceremonious disposal of the dead would be unthinkable in Japan in normal times. But the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami have left a huge backlog of thousands of bodies in makeshift morgues, leaving local governments no choice but to bury them in hastily dug mass graves.

In small-town Japan, the funeral is an elaborate and highly formalized Buddhist ritual, in which the body is washed, dressed and cremated, the ashes interred at the family tomb. So this -- mass graves, heavy machinery, improvised rites -- is almost unbearable, a tragedy that robs both survivors and the dead of closure. More

Happy Nowruz (New Year), Persepolis!

Wisdom Quarterly

If it is true as we suspect that the Buddha was born in Baluchistan/Gandhara (Lumbini on the ancient Indian border in what is now a tri-national hinterland or province of Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan) not Nepal, more of his early life near Bamiyan (ancient Kapilavastu, near Kabul, modern Afghanistan) will make sense shedding new light on his career in India proper.

He traveled to the largest metropolitan areas of the day, taking up residence in Rajgir, Magadha. The famous Vulture's Peak and Jeta's Grove are there in and outside of the ancient city walls respectively.

Nowruz or something like it would have been what was celebrated in the land -- later to become part of the ancient Persian empire -- that would eventually give rise to Zoroastrianism (the Parsis in India) and many of the original traditions that were incorporated into missionary Christianity, which is an amalgam of beliefs and practices heavy on re-purposed Mahayana Buddhist Messiah (Maitreya) beliefs (which impacted early Judaism first through Kashmir, as research by H. Kersten has established).

The more we know of any culture, the closer we feel to it. And Iran is nearly a black box to us even in Los Angeles. But our hearts were drawn in, even to Iran's view of "God," through the heartwarming work of Marjane Satrapi and her graphic novel Persepolis. We re-watch it every year (appreciating the English version more than squinting to read subtitles). Thank you, Persepolis, and happy Nowruz!

Health Expo in Chicago, UFO Expo in NM


The Health Freedom Expo is considered the country's premier natural and alternative health event. Events are held annually in Long Beach, California and Chicago, Illinois. The three-day events feature over 90 top international, national, and local speakers and legislators plus 200 natural and alternative health exhibits.

New Nuclear Radiation Fallout Panel Health Alert! Americans are concerned and confused about what they should do to protect their health as plumes of radioactive material drift towards the west coast of the United States from Japan. More

Earthlings Unite in Aztec Ryan Boetel (The Daily Times)


FARMINGTON, New Mexico — The general consensus among visitors to the Aztec UFO Symposium was: Aliens exists, the government is covering up the facts, and if you haven't seen a UFO you're not looking hard enough.

More than 400 people attended the 14th annual Aztec UFO Symposium at Aztec High School on Saturday. Attendance, acceptance, and belief in encounters with extraterresterials is increasing, said Katee McClure, who helped organize the symposium, sponsored by the Friends of the Aztec Library. "I have seen the acceptance [of the symposium] increase; it's welcomed now," she said. "It took a while because people didn't want the weirdos. But there really aren't weirdos running around in tin hats."

Indeed, this year's attendees were dressed in typical, 21st-century human clothing. Visitors from England, Canada, and many states attended this year, she said. But most people at the symposium were local believers who had experienced UFOs in the area. "We wouldn't have come over here if we hadn't seen a UFO," said Darlene Amos, of Farmington. "You'd be surprised what you see if you just look up." More

Why rulers behave as they do (video)

() RFID microchipping of humans? Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into every product, animal, and person for the purposes of identification and tracking using radio waves. Tags can be read from a distance beyond the line of sight of the reader. Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio-frequency (RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2600 years of Buddhism in 2011 (Vesak)

Sri Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Operations Committee (DailyNews.lk/Sudath Silva)

The Operations Committee meeting of the 2,600th "Supremely Enlightened Buddha" Festival was held on Friday under the patronage of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees. Members of the Greater Monastic Order (Maha Sangha) including 2,600 Sri Sambuddathva Jayanthi Operations Committee Chairman Ven. Niyangoda Wijithasiri Thera, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Senior Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka, Minister Bandula Gunawardena, and Secretary to the President Lalith Weerathunga participated.

Seth "Family Guy" MacFarlane plays Los Angeles' Nokia - South Park's "Book of Mormon" play in L.A. - Six Months of Community Gardening - The 25 Drunkest Countries - VIDEO: Psychic Sylvia Brown suffers heart attack - Pictures of KNUT over the Years - VIDEO: Compilation of UFO sightings




Japan Tsunami Caused by HAARP?


A huge 8.9 Richter scale earthquake rocked Tokyo today resulting in a giant tsunami causing incredible amounts of damage, injuries and deaths. My first reaction was to check the University of Tokyo's HAARP induction magnetometer to see if HAARP was fired up around the time of the quake. Sure enough, following a week of electromagnetic silence, HAARP was turned on at approximately 0:00 hours 9 March, 2011 UTC and has been going strong since. Here is the data for the last 36 hours [March 10, 2011]:

For the past week prior to the quake, HAARP has been turned off with the induction magnetometer looking something like this everyday:


Next I started searching the net for other evidence linking HAARP to Japan and found these videos from 2009 and 2010 where HAARP or some similar weather modification device is clearly being used over Japan skies:



There is an interesting article regarding the 2007 Niigata, Japan earthquake called "Western Bankers Threatened Japan with HAARP Eco-Destruction a Year Before China Quakes." Before the Niigata earthquake, just as before the China and Chile quakes, strange aurora-like lights were seen in the sky, lights that HAARP experts have confirmed are caused by electromagnetic disturbance coming down from the ionosphere:



There certainly has been a huge spike in devastating earthquakes striking close to capital cities the past several years.

The Nature of Reality: University Panel


"The Nature of Reality" will take place at the Folino Theater on March 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm. The event is organized by the Schmid College of Science in partnership with the Dodge College of Film & Media Arts, and the Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The panel discussion will be moderated by Chapman Chancellor, Dr. Daniele Struppa.

The panel discussion will start by asking two questions, "Is there an Ultimate Reality?" and if yes, "Can it be accounted for by science such as mathematics, biology and physics?" The panelists will address the questions, then they will be given a chance to respond to each other and interact, followed by opening up the floor to Q&A from the audience.

We expect a variety of views from science, and philosophy and the event will be lively and informative. The panelists are practicing scientists, authors, health professionals as well as experts in philosophical systems from different fields. As the two main paradigms in science are, in a broad sense, the physical and the biological, these questions will be addressed by both physicists and biologists/M.D.'s as well as other experts. The role of mathematics as the fundamental language of nature, quantum measurements, philosophical approaches, biological, psychological and neuroscience findings for brain and mind, are all possible discussion points.

The Panelists: Deepak Chopra, M.D. (Author of more than 50 books on spirituality and well-being), Stuart Hameroff, M.D. (Consciousness expert and Emeritus Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, University of Arizona), Menas Kafatos, Ph.D. (Dean of Chapman University's Schmid College of Science; Vice Chancellor for Special Projects; Director of the Center of Excellence in Applied, Fundamental, and Computational Science; Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics), Leonard Mlodinow, Ph.D. (Caltech physicist and co-author (with Stephen Hawking), The Grand Design), Carmichael Peters, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Chapman University), Michael Shermer, Ph.D. [Executive Director of The Skeptics Society, founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine, bestselling author (Why Darwin Matters)], Daniele Struppa, Ph.D. (Chancellor of Chapman University; Professor of Mathematics), Henry Stapp, Ph.D. (Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; expert on the nature of consciousness as seen through quantum mechanics), Jim Walsh (Founder and Chairman of the Board of Human Energy System Alliance), Bill Wright, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Biology, Chapman University).

Questions for the panelists? Natureofreality@chapman.edu

General Admission: $25 Chapman University students, faculty, staff, and board members register to melton@chapman.edu

"Normal" changes! Why is there unhappiness?

Seven (Wisdom Quarterly) Even radiant space beings (akasha devas) were eager to honor the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha, so they brought gifts and greetings (saloeurm.com).

What is normal today will not be so tomorrow. Or what they do then is not what they do now. With that in mind, we often search for absolutes. There aren't many. However, personal moral standards do not change. Ethics, societal norms, behaviors, and general conduct change year to year. But one thing is true, reliable, and very hard to believe.

ALL disappointment, misery, and distress (dukkha) comes only from four sources. It is not what happens to us but how we view and react to what we imagine is happening. How can we be happy as the UFO cover up is laid bare, in the midst of this global financial meltdown, as hypocrisy and deception reign supreme? It's easy. The guiding star is virtue (sila, kusala karma, punya).

There are four responses to seen in our reactions to emergencies: fight, flight, freeze, or faint. These are rooted respectively in aversion, fear, delusion (confusion or not knowing what to do and trying to disappear or experiencing "paralysis by analysis"), and overwhelm (also rooted in delusion when both the problem and the lack of a solution become too much to bear that "checking out" makes sense, in terms of consciousness, desiring intoxication, or leaving spiritually). Greed motivates us towards what we imagine are solutions or sources of sensual pleasure.

Mindful of that, it is easy to see when a cause of unhappiness arises and to counter it with an antidote. It's within us to do that. But it is very helpful to have a source of information. "Uninstructed worldlings" were lost for epochs, ages, and aeons before a fully Enlightened One arose to point out the Truth.

In the meantime, we had to settle for lesser sages able to discern part of the Truth and point the way to the heavens and happiness here and now.

They could not, however, point out any escape from the fundamental problems of rebirth, impermanence, and ultimate disappointment, just temporary respites (sometimes lasting aeons but always temporary). Now when the Buddha-Dharma is available, how many search it out? Few. Most prefer temporary respites and keep watering the problem.

The Causes of All Unhappiness

CRAVING: greed, selfish desire, "evil" wishes (callousness in striving for our fulfillment such as killing not out of hate but for a desired goal), lust, envy, jealousy, yearning for sensual pleasures which themselves can never be appeased by sensual experiences (but we see no other means of soothing our yearning or allaying our pain).

AVERSION: annoyance, irritation, hate, anger, ill will, ire, unfriendliness, the wish to oppose or destroy what we imagine is afflicting or frustrating us, particularly in our ambition and striving for sensual pleasures.

DELUSION: misunderstanding, intoxication, not knowing, confusion, wrong views, perversion, misperception, distortion, intoxication, nescience, ignorance, clinging to mistaken views particularly about karma and its results, or worse, the view that deeds have no results.

FEAR: a form of aversion or inverted hate that rather than seeking to destroy the object of aversion seeks instead to run from it, worry, tremble, become restless, panic, or go into paralysis.

"Gods" of Angkor: Cambodia (Getty)

Art review: "Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia" at the J. Paul Getty Museum
At the J. Paul Getty Museum, "Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia" is a very small show on a very large subject.

For a viewer, its primary achievement is to make you want to see more. The Khmer Empire was born in 802, when a Hindu monarch, Jayavarman II, declared himself a god [space-faring deva] and established his seat of power in Angkor in the northern reaches of what is today Cambodia.

The city grew to be immense, among the largest cities in the world, with a sphere of influence that encompassed a large chunk of modern-day Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

The empire lasted more than 600 years -- nearly until the birth of Columbus [with its world famous center at Angkor Wat, an enormous temple complex shaped like the universe]. More