Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zazen Checklist (Pasadena, CA)

Sitting like Bodhidharma sat -- eyelids missing. Meditating boys in India

Zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation, is the cornerstone of Zen training. Za means "sitting." Zen, which derives from the Sanskrit word dhyana, means "meditation." In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath.

More than just meditation, zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its scope and ability to reveal the true basis of reality. Through zazen, we realize the unity of the self with the ten thousand things, which has the potential to transform our lives and those of others.


  • Sit on the forward half of your zafu, bench, or chair.
  • Arrange your legs -- full lotus, half lotus, Burmese, kneeling, or chair; choose the most stable position you can sustain comfortably.
  • Center your spine by swaying in decreasing arcs, left to right, forward and backward.
  • Straighten and extend your spine, and align your head (by "pushing up the ceiling" and then relaxing).
  • The origin of thrust is at the small of your back so your belly and buttocks both protrude slightly.


  • Head -- should neither tilt forward, backward, nor lean to either side
  • Ears -- should be parallel with shoulders
  • Tip of nose -- centered over navel
  • Chin -- tucked in slightly
  • Eyes -- neither fully opened nor fully closed, lowered to a 45 degree angle; unfocused, "gazing" at the floor 2 to 3 feet in front of you so blinking is minimized.
  • Mouth -- lips and teeth closed; place the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, just behind the front teeth. Swallow any saliva in your mouth, and squeeze out the air so there is a slight vacuum. This inhibits salivation and overly tense jaw muscles.
  • Hands -- place in "cosmic" mudra:
  • Right hand -- palm up, blade against lower belly
  • Left hand -- on top of right, middle knuckles overlap
  • Thumbs -- tips lightly touch, forming an oval


Make sure your whole body is arranged the way you want it before beginning zazen. And keep as still as possible during zazen. If you must get up for the restroom, or if a coughing spell requires you to get a drink of water, please rise and exit quietly and quickly. Take care of your immediate needs, and return in a mindful manner, re-joining the group as soon as you can. After a short sit there is walking meditation (kinhin).

"Time" in the Heavens (Einstein)

Dharmacharis Seven & Kalyani, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and

An odd thing may occur to those who study time in a Buddhist context. How can time be one thing on earth and another in heaven [sagga, the celestial planes]?

In other words, how is it that in the same universe (or world-system), time runs at one speed in the human plane while it runs at a different speed on other planes of existence?

Einstein's theory scientifically explains the subjective nature of time. Heavens and hells may endure what seem to be "eternities" but still come to an end. They are both radically and conventionally impermanent -- with very long lifespans. First we examine the Buddha's words on lifespans in the first six celestial realms and then look at Einstein's revelation.

Time in Buddhist Cosmology
Bhikkhu Bodhi (In the Buddha's Words anthology, p. 175)

"...For the devas ["shining ones," deities, godlings] in the realm of the Four Great Kings [the first celestial sphere or heaven] a single day and night is equivilant to 50 human years; 30 such days make up a month, and 12 such months make up a year. The lifespan of the devas in the realm of the Four Great Kings is 500 such celestial years. It is possible, [monastics], that some man or woman here observes the Uposatha [the moon or fasting day] complete in these eight factors, [These are the Eight Precepts for special observance days:
  1. abstaining from the destruction of life
  2. abstaining from taking what is not given
  3. abstaining from sexual relations
  4. abstaining from false speech
  5. abstaining from intoxicants
  6. abstaining from over-eating
  7. abstaining from unsuitable entertainments and self adornment
  8. abstaining from the use of high and luxurious beds]
with the breakup of the body, after death, they will be reborn in the company of the devas in the realm of the Four Great Kings. It was with reference to this that I said human kingship is poor compared to divine happiness.

"For the Tavatimsa devas [in the second celestial plane in Buddhist cosmology, which means the "Heaven of the Thirty-three"] a single day and night is equivilant to 100 human years.... The lifespan of the Tavatimsa devas is a 1,000 such celestial years....

"For the Yama devas [space dwelling] a single day and night is equivilant to 200 human years.... The lifespan of the Yama devas is 2,000 such celestial years....

"For the Tusita ["contented"] devas, a single day and night is equivilant to 400 human years.... The lifespan of the Tusita devas is 4,000 such celestial years....

"For the devas who delight in creating [Nimmarati], a single day and night is equivilant to 800 human years.... The lifespan of the devas who delight in creating is 8,000 such celestial years....

"For the devas who wield power over others' creations [Paranimita-vasavatti] a single day and night is equivilant to 1,600 human years; 30 such days make up a month and 12 such months make up a year. The lifespan of the devas who wield power over others' creations is 16,000 such celestial years.

"It is possible, [monastics], that if some man or woman here observes the [moon day observance] complete in these eight factors, with the breakup of the body, after death, they will be reborn in the company of the devas who wield power over others' creations. It was with reference to this that I said human kingship is poor compared to divine happiness" (AN 8:41; IV 248-51).
Time Explained
Albert Einstein ('s "Life's Litte Mysteries")

...Einstein's theory is divided into special and general relativity.

Special relativity came first and is based on the speed of light being constant for everyone. That may seem simple enough, but it has far-reaching consequences.

Einstein came to this conclusion in 1905 after experimental evidence showed that the speed of light didn't change as the Earth swung around the Sun.

This result was surprising to physicists because the speed of most other things does depend on what direction the observer is moving. If you drive your car alongside a railroad track, a train coming at you will seem to be moving much faster than if you turned around and followed it in the same direction.

Einstein said that all observers will measure the speed of light to be 186,000 miles per second, no matter how fast and what direction they are moving.

This maxim prompted the comedian Stephen Wright to ask: "If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?"

The answer is the headlights turn on normally, but only from the perspective of someone inside the spaceship. For someone standing outside watching the ship fly by, the headlights do not appear to turn on: light comes out but it takes an eternity for the beams to get ahead of the spaceship.

These contradictory versions arise because rulers and clocks—the things that mark time and space—are not the same for different observers. If the speed of light is to be held constant as Einstein said, then time and space cannot be absolute; they must be subjective.

For instance, a 100-foot-long spaceship traveling at 99.99 percent the speed of light will appear one foot long to a stationary observer, but it will remain its normal length for those onboard.

Perhaps even weirder, time passes slower the faster one goes. If a twin rides in the speeding spaceship to some distant star and then comes back, she will be younger than her sister who stayed on Earth.

Mass, too, depends on speed. The faster an object moves, the more massive it becomes. In fact, no spaceship can ever reach 100 percent of the speed of light because its mass would grow to infinity.

This relationship between mass and speed is often expressed as a relationship between mass and energy: E=mc^2, where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light.

General relativity
Einstein wasn't done upsetting our understanding of time and space. He went on to generalize his theory by including acceleration and found that this distorted the shape of time and space. More>>

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Origins of Religion (PRI)

A study of the origins of the world's great religions reveals surprising ideas about God and how we define religion.

A study of the origins of the world's great religions reveals surprising ideas about God and how we define religion.

The following is a partial transcript; listen to audio for full story.

Karen Armstrong is the author of nearly 20 books on religion. When her breakthrough book, "A History of God" appeared in 1993, she quickly became one of the world's leading historians of spiritual matters. Her work displays a wide-ranging knowledge of religious traditions -- from monotheistic religions to Buddhism. That expertise is on full display in her latest book, "The Great Transformation," which charts the origins of many of the world's religions, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. What's remarkable is that all these spiritual traditions emerged in the same historical era -- the "Axial Age" -- from 900 to 200 B.C. More>>

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Science Wonders

  • Oldest English Words Revealed?
  • Odd Life Found in Great Lakes
  • "Eye of God" seen staring down from space! ANI - Thu, Feb 26
    London, Feb 26 (ANI): A stunning new photo taken by astronomers shows a Big Brother-style cosmic eye, nicknamed the "Eye of God", staring down from space.
  • Sex is 380 million years old ANI - Thu, Feb 26
    Melbourne, Feb 26 (ANI): Sex has been around for much longer than many scientists had previously believed - 380 million years to be exact. That's the conclusion of new study which discovered a fossilised pregnant fish and her embryo.
  • Brand aid for India HT - Thu, Feb 26
    In the days to come, there will be widespread discussion on Slumdog Millionaire and whether it reflects the true worth of India and is indeed a representation of life in India. There will be many who will suddenly change their stance, now that the film has won eight Oscars.
  • Silent Valley India Today - Wed, Feb 25
    A unique preserve of natural rainforests, this national park retains its glory, thanks to a challenging terrain and location.

Neal Adams animation about his theory the Earth is growing, which collides with the Pangea theory.

NPR: Expert: 10-Minute Workouts Can Have Big Payoff
Reuters: China launches campaign to break sex taboos

Engineers probe why Mars orbiter entered safe mode AP - Thu Feb 26, 7:05 PM ET
PASADENA, Calif. - NASA engineers are trying to figure out why an orbiting Mars spacecraft went into safe mode this week.
Winter storm brewing for Midwest - Thu Feb 26, 6:06 AM ET
Weather around the U.S.A. AP - Thu Feb 26, 8:50 AM ET
Weather around the U.S.A.
Moon and Venus Converge Friday Night - Thu Feb 26, 5:22 PM ET
It has been a superb winter for viewing the queen of the planets, Venus. February marks the pinnacle of its evening visibility as it stands like a sequined showgirl nearly halfway up in the western sky at sunset.
Doodling Is Good For Your Noodle - Thu Feb 26, 10:03 PM ET
Doodling is often frowned upon in meetings and classrooms, but now scientist say it might help you remember details in an otherwise boring presentation. The back-of-the-envelope speculation as to why? Doodlers don't daydream as much.
Missing Asteroids Reveal Planet-Sized Mystery - Thu Feb 26, 10:22 AM ET
Missing asteroids in our solar system may be the handiwork of rampaging giant planets as they migrated to their current positions, according to a new computer simulation.
Rare Jaguars Spotted in Arizona and Mexico - Sun Feb 22, 11:05 AM ET
The once-common jaguar has become a rare sight in North America, thanks to hunting and habitat fragmentation.
China's environment problems serious: minister AFP - Wed Feb 25, 1:24 AM ET
SHANGHAI (AFP) - China's environmental problems remain serious with local governments not putting enough pressure on businesses to control pollution, the nation's environment protection minister has said.
NASA rocket failure blow to Earth watching network AP - Tue Feb 24, 6:39 PM ET
WASHINGTON - A new satellite to track the chief culprit in global warming crashed into the ocean near Antarctica after launch Tuesday, dealing a major setback to NASA's already weak network for monitoring Earth and its environment from above.
The Ethical and Legal Implications of Octuplets - Wed Feb 25, 9:19 AM ET
We all know about the old woman who lived in a shoe, the one with all those kids and who didn't know what to do. Well, one thing she didn't do was have eight more kids. And this wasn't because nothing rhymes with octuplets.
Research reveals some of Alzheimer's secrets Reuters - Thu Feb 26, 2:18 PM ET
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists are unraveling some of the mechanisms behind the plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, offering new leads for drugs to treat the fatal brain-wasting disease.
China opens bidding on moon probe technology Reuters - Wed Feb 25, 1:19 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will open competitive bidding so that domestic schools and institutions can help build crucial parts of the country's moon exploration craft, an official newspaper said on Wednesday.
A Sliver of Chance for Life on Mars - Thu Feb 26, 12:30 PM ET
The Phoenix Mars Lander ended its mission last November, but scientists are still pondering the data. One intriguing discovery was a nightly cycle in which water vapor in the atmosphere collapsed into the Martian soil. One researcher thinks this may hint of dew-like films that could have supported life in a previous Martian climate.

Yoga and Diet Calm Cancer (cure)

"Yoga can calm breast cancer patients"

HealthDay News -- Yoga can improve the emotional health of breast cancer patients, contends a new U.S. study. "Given the high levels of stress and distress that many women with breast cancer experience, the opportunity to experience feeling more peaceful and calm in the midst of breast cancer is a significant benefit," lead researcher Suzanne Danhauer, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, said in a university news release. More>>

"Diet, Exercise could cut cancer rates by third"

PARIS (AFP) – A third of common cancers could be prevented if people shifted to a sounder diet, exercised more, and controlled their weight, researchers said on Thursday. The report, by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, analyzed the incidence of 12 types of cancer in the United States, Britain, Brazil, and China. More>>

Tea Protects Against Cancer

"Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection"

HealthDay News (2/26/09) -- Past studies have suggested that caffeine might offer some protection from skin cancer, and new research may explain why.

"We have found what we believe to be the mechanism by which caffeine is associated with decreased skin cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Paul Nghiem, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle. More>>

Buddhist Civil War (gov't against civilian)

Remembering Burma's 2007 "Saffron Revolution" (CBC News, Canada)

Reptilian Agenda (Nagas in the News)

"The Reptilian Agenda" with David Icke and Credo Mutwa -- the complete series. This is real history being revealed. This movie is split into two major parts numbered x.y.zz (i.e., 1.2.11 would mean: "Part I, Slice 2, Clip 11").

History of Religion and War

How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go!

This fascinating map displays a brief history of the world's most well-known religions in 90 seconds: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, with periods of inter-religious warfare highlighted.

How the World Runs (Video)

WARNING: The information contained in this documentary is likely to upset strong individuals, alarm average citizens, and ruin sensitive persons. This expose ("Ring of Power: The Empire of the City," Amenstop Productions) is divided into twenty-nine segments.

  1. Part III

Thich Nhat Hanh: It Can't Wait

30 Days for a Million Voices

  • Featuring: Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Editor: Isaiah Seret
  • Sound Mix: Peter Aaron Fineberg
  • Footage courtesy of: Asia Society


Buddhist Monk in America

Per, a Buddhist monk in America, opens up. He talks about his difficulties living as a monastic in a country with a culture so different from his own. Excerpted from "Blue Collar and Buddha," an anthropological documentary about Laotian refugees living in America. More at:

The "God of Poverty"

In terms of questionable religious practices, nominally Buddhist Japan may now lead the pack. There is a new God of Poverty, which can be struck, kicked, and blamed for financial misfortune -- for a price. The God is willing to shoulder the blame for the current global crisis as well as individual hardships.
This practice echoes the Islamic practice of hurtling stones at the devil (tossing pebbles at a wall called Jamarat during the Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca).
The custom of self-mortification is not limited to the sages and seers of the East. It is still rampant in some parts of Christendom. Most notable is the annual custom of self-flagellation and voluntary crucifixion in the Philippines.

Finally, no culture can rival India for majestic splendor and strange customs. The country hosts the largest human gathering for a single purpose (with hundred of millions attending Kumbh Mela held every dozen years). Its practices are colorful, with periodic lesser Melas every three years, and national holidays like Holi.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Climate Change is Not Real

Oh, wait, no it is real.

It's UFOs that are unreal...until the government approves of the notion. Until our government (through the conservative media) tells us it's okay to talk about them without being labeled "cuckoo." Until it stages a fake "Alien Invasion" (now being planned). Then people will believe. Let's hope the world hasn't melted by then. Al Gore did his part, but he's no solution.

The truth regarding both of these phenomena, climate change and extraterrestrials, is much stranger than people imagine. We would sooner accept that the burning of fossil fuels precipitated this condition than to look up and notice the Chemtrails and those strange lights.

Antarctic glaciers melting faster than thought
Eliane Engeler (AP)

GENEVA – Glaciers in Antarctica are melting faster and across a much wider area than previously thought, a development that threatens to raise sea levels worldwide and force millions of people to flee low-lying areas, scientists said Wednesday.

Researchers once believed that the melting was limited to the Antarctic Peninsula, a narrow tongue of land pointing toward South America. But satellite data and automated weather stations now indicate it is more widespread. More>>

Stimulus Plan: JOBS

Six Fields That Stand to Benefit From the Stimulus Plan
How Job Seekers Can Benefit, Too
Larry Buhl

President Obama has promised the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- commonly known as the stimulus plan -- will boost to the flagging economy by creating jobs in a variety of sectors.

Though it will take a while before federal, state, and local governments determine how exactly to allocate the funds, economists agree that six sectors are poised to see a boost as a direct or indirect result of the stimulus. These include:

Construction. The biggest thrust of the stimulus plan is a national two-fer: creating jobs while shoring up the nation's infrastructure, including roads, bridges, rail lines, and wastewater and drinking water facilities. The Associated General Contractors of America estimates that stimulus spending would create or save 1.85 million jobs, including 640,000 in construction and 300,000 among suppliers and equipment manufacturers. Job opportunities will be even broader than traditional hard-hat jobs; there will also be openings for transit coordinators, waste disposal engineers, and accountants and managers with experience in large construction projects.

The Green Sector. This is a broad category of jobs, and there is some overlap with construction and energy. But generally these jobs are in some way aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses, reducing dependence on oil, or reducing consumption of other non-renewable sources. Examples can range from architects, to manufacturers and installers of solar panels, to energy rating auditors.

Medical Information Technology. The stimulus bill includes $19 billion for updating health information technology. This is intended to increase the number of physicians who use computers in their practice and will likely create opportunities for training health personnel and running health systems. It could also lead to job openings in hardware and software companies, from computer assemblers to systems analysts to project managers.

Education. Many states have made cuts in their education budgets, but the stimulus plan calls for a $53.6 billion state-stabilization to help states avoid further cuts and layoffs. Funding could also lead to new jobs for teachers and administrators in areas such as Head Start and other early-education programs. The stimulus also sets aside funds for modernization of schools (which overlaps with infrastructure and construction).

Energy and Utilities. A key part of the stimulus plan, and a campaign pledge by Obama, is the modernization of the nation's electrical grid. "Smart grid" jobs will include regulators hired by public utility commissions, in addition to load management engineers, meter manufacturers and systems control center operators.

Federal Government. A $787 billion package doesn't just administer itself. There will be openings for more lawyers, regulators, accountants, and administrators to ensure all of the dollars go where they're intended.

Too Soon to Celebrate?
Despite the oft-heard new phrase, "shovel-ready jobs," the stimulus won't create jobs overnight, economists say. Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and the Urban Institute, tells Yahoo! HotJobs that the stimulus is laying the seeds for future growth but, alone, won't turn around the job market.

"It takes time for government investment to expand the job market," Holzer says. "The most that economists expect in 2009 is fewer pink slips than we might have seen (without the stimulus). We need to also limit the damage of housing and credit markets as well as overseas markets, in order to achieve a broad-based economic recovery."

Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody's, says that the stimulus plan is more about stopping the economic pain and limiting damage in the short term.

"Automatic stabilizers in the plan, such as unemployment insurance benefits, will have an immediate effect," she says. "In the second half of this year, tax cuts will help support employment, and by next year, state aid and infrastructure spending should begin to kick in."

Plant Your Own Seeds
Assuming that seeds planted by the stimulus plan bears fruit in all of these sectors -- and more -- how can job seekers prepare to benefit, whether this year or next? Economists believe that landing a stimulus-created job relies on the usual, time-tested qualities: education, experience, skills, and networking.

"A recession is a good time to get new training, update skills, or get certified in a new field," Holzer says. "Beyond that, (job hunters) should be patient and realistic and should keep an eye on sectors and industries and companies where new demand is opening up."

For more information on the types of job created in the stimulus plan, see "Jobs in All 50 States" on the White House blog and this study from the Council of Economic Advisers.


Fish Sex

Artist's depiction of Placoderms mating in what once was a giant lake in southern Australia. The fossilized remains of two pregnant fish shows that the mating practices of modern day sharks and rays go back hundreds of millions of years, researchers said on 2/25/09. The scientist from Australia and Britain said the presence of embryos in the armored placoderm fish called Incisoscutum richiei offers proof that internal fertilization, in which babies are born alive, took place as much as 30 million years earlier than previously thought (AP/Peter Trusler).

While the Buddha talked about the de-evolution of humans (Aganna Sutra), from subtle beings to dense terrestrial bodies, the co-existence of animals on the planet is not given much recorded attention. Science is able to shed light slowly through theories and examination of a growing fossil record.
BANGKOK, Thailand – The fossilized remains of two pregnant fish indicate that sex as we know it — fertilization of eggs inside a female — took place as much as 30 million years earlier than previously thought, researchers said Thursday.

Scientists from Australia and Britain studying 380 million-year-old fossils of the armored placoderm fish, or Incisoscutum richiei, said they were initially confused when they realized that the two fish were carrying embryos. They originally thought the fish laid their eggs before fertilization. More>>

Face Yoga

Funny Face Yoga

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UFO Coverup in the News

The latest release to obfuscate and di-vert attention from the issue came out 2/23/09. In it speculative scientists (or their ghostwriters) are postulating that maybe Atmospheric "sprites" may explain UFOs. Just as with the issue of global warming, scientists were paid to publish articles suggesting that there were other better explanations and that the science was unclear.

In spite of the environmental degradation, the conservative media (spearheaded by Republicans, Christian fundamentalists, and right-wing radio mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Praeger in addition to entire media outlets like the increasingly ridiculous FOX News Network and CNN) put out stories lending doubt to the issue. Stories are frequently fed in and reported with a smirk and a ludicrous air of smugness.

There should be no doubt that there are "others." The evidence is overwhelm-ing and not hidden. But since our government, and governments around the world and over time, lie to us on a daily basis, until there is a false "alien invasion" people will simply do what they have been trained to do, say what they had been programmed to say, and slouch in ignorance.

Akasa-devas, asuras, nagas, garudas, supannas, yakkhas, rakshasas, rudras, gandhabbas, bhumma-devas, djinn, nephilim, watchers, cherubim, seraphim, angels, arch-angels, grays, reptilians, and others certainly left their mark -- whether they were seen (transformed into dense flesh) or unseen (cloaked or more subtle in form).

The great cultural (now considered only "religious" or mythological) texts from civilizations around the world (e.g., Sumeria, India, Dogon of Africa, and the Semitic tribes of the Middle East, to say nothing of government reports released in the UK and USSR in recent years) make it clear there are extraterrestrial crafts in orbit around the earth. There is little doubt that they have communicated. "God" in the Old Testament and in Sumerian and similar texts is always plural, referring not to the idealized deity of oneness but to an overlord race of being not to be questioned.

And all of this is consistent with a Buddhist outlook. The Buddha, like Christ, is constantly to be seen making references to nagas (reptilians/dragons). He frequently refers back to Aryans (a super race of invaders whose advanced technologies conquered the South and Southeast Asia). Indian ("Hindu") and Greek ("Pagan") stories are full of the exploits of these gods or godlings, celestial and terrestrial.

The entire universe (or "world system") is populated with countless worlds and countless beings. That this should sound "crazy" is testament to the success of marketing campaigns we are subjected to. Until Gore showed otherwise (while concealing the biggest industrial polluters in America), global warming was ridiculed.

Once someone gets past the immensity that "we are not alone," one may experience anger that we have been kept in the dark systematically. It has been obedience by design. And although the information has repeatedly been leaked into the collective consciousness, the information gatekeepers, ever-skeptical scientists (who exhibit little backbone in admitting to believing anything the government and/or their faculty committees have not first approved), and conservative bullies (and front organizations like NASA) still set out red herrings to re-hide the truth every chance they get.

Natural Explanation Found for [Some] UFOs (2/23/09)

Mysterious UFO sightings may go hand in hand with a puzzling natural phenomenon known as sprites — flashes high in the atmosphere triggered by thunderstorms.

The dancing lights have appeared above most thunderstorms throughout history, but researchers did not start studying them until one accidentally recorded a sighting on camera in 1989.

"Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft." More>>

Buddhist Protection from Snakes

Khandha Paritta ("Self-Protection")*

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana in Anathapindika's monastery. At that time in Savatthi a certain monk had died after being bitten by a deadly snake. Soon many monks approached the Buddha. Having saluted him they sat to one side and spoke thus to the Blessed One:

"Venerable Sir (Bhante), a certain monk at Savatthi has died after being bitten by a snake."

"Assuredly, monks," the Buddha replied, "that monk has not suffused with thoughts of loving-kindness (metta) the four royal tribes [families] of snakes.

"Had he done so that monk would not have died of snakebite!

"What are the four royal tribes of snakes? They are the royal tribes of snakes called:
  • Virupakkha
  • Erapatha
  • Chabyaputta
  • Kanhagotamaka.

"Monks, that monk did not suffuse with thoughts of loving-kindness these four royal tribes of snakes. Had he done so, he would certainly not have died of snakebite!

"Monks, I enjoin you to suffuse with thoughts of loving-kindness these four royal tribes of snakes for your safety, for your preservation, and for your protection."

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Having thus spoken, the Buddha, the "Welcome One" (Sugata), further said (suggesting how one should express oneself):

May I have metta towards Virupakkhas.
Towards Erapathas may I have metta.
May my metta be towards Chabyaputtas.
Towards Kanhagotamakas also metta may I have.

May I have metta towards the footless.
And towards bipeds too, metta may I have.
May I have metta towards quadrupeds.
And towards the many-footed also metta may I have.

Let not the footless do me harm
Nor those that have two feet.
Let not quadrupeds do me harm
Nor those endowed with many feet.

All beings, all living creatures,
May good fortune befall them all!
May not the least harm on them fall.

Boundless [in terms of virtue] is the Buddha. Boundless is the Dharma. Boundless is the Sangha [the community of accomplished practitioners].

Limited are creeping creatures -- snakes, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, lizards, and rats. I have guarded myself. I have made my protection. Depart from me, such beings.

I salute the Blessed One and to the seven supreme buddhas.**

*Khandha Paritta from The Book of Protection (Ven. Piyadassi translation, WQ edit) of the Cula Vagga, ii. p. 110; also in the Anguttara Nikaya under the title Ahi (Metta) Sutta, ii.72; Khandha-Vatta Jataka, 203.
** Seven supreme buddhas (in chronological order): Vipassi, Sikhi, Vessabhu, Kakusanda, Konagama, Kassapa, and Gotama.

Snakebite Science (Wikipedia edit)

Most snakebites are caused by non-venomous snakes. Of the roughly 3,000 known species of snake found worldwide, only 15% are considered dangerous to humans. Snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica.

The most diverse and widely distributed snake family, the Colubrids, has only a few members that are harmful to humans. Of the 120 known indigenous snake species in North America, only 20 are venomous to human beings, all belonging to the families Viperidae and Elapidae. However, in the United States, every state except Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii is home to at least one of 20 venomous snake species.

Since the act of delivering venom is completely voluntary, all venomous snakes are capable of biting without injecting venom into their victim. Such snakes will often deliver such a "dry bite" (about 50% of the time) rather than waste their venom on a creature too large for them to eat.

Some dry bites may also be the result of imprecise timing on the snake's part, as venom may be prematurely released before the fangs have penetrated the victim’s flesh. Even without venom, some snakes, particularly large constrictors such as those belonging to the Boidae and Pythonidae families, can deliver damaging bites.

Large specimens often cause severe lacerations as the victim or the snake itself pulls away, causing the flesh to be torn by the needle-sharp recurved teeth embedded in the victim. While not normally as life-threatening as a bite from a venomous species, the bite can be at least temporarily debilitating and as mentioned below, could lead to dangerous infections if improperly treated.

While most snakes must open their mouths wide before biting the victim, one type of African snake, the stiletto snake, can stab its victim from the side with its mouth closed. Another can spit blinding poison from a distance.

Nagas in the News: Snake Cannibalism

Rattlesnake (Crotalus polystictus) in Mexico. Researchers found that many of mother rattlesnakes will eat dead offspring for energy. (Estrella MociƱo/SINC).

Every mom knows that pregnancy and birth really sap your energy. To get some back, many rattlesnake mothers will eat some of their non-surviving offspring, a new study finds.

This postpartum cannibalism helps the mother regain strength for her next reproductive effort, researchers report.

A lack of information on cannibalism in rattlesnakes prompted a group of Spanish, American and Mexican researchers to begin a study in 2004 that monitored cannibalistic behavior in 190 female pitvipers (Crotalus polystictus) found in central Mexico, where the species is endemic. The snakes had a combined total of 239 clutches of eggs over the study period.

The researchers found that on average, the mother snakes ate about 11 percent of their postpartum mass — particularly eggs and dead offspring — to regain energy. More>>

Well Spoken Words

Subhasita Sutra (S.N. 3.3) WQ Translation

Well spoken words (

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was residing in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove in Anathapindika's monastery. The Buddha said, "O, monastics!"

"Yes, lord," the monastics replied.

"Monastics, speech endowed with four characteristics is well spoken, not poorly spoken — faultless and not to be faulted by the wise. What four?

"In one case, a monastic says only what is well spoken, not what is poorly spoken. In a second case, only what is just, not what is unjust. In a third case, only what is endearing, not what is unendearing. In a fourth case, only what is true, not what is untrue.

"Speech endowed with these four characteristics is well spoken, not poorly spoken — faultless and not to be faulted by the wise."

The Buddha went on to summarize:

The calm declare words well spoken are best
And encourage one to say
What is just, not unjust
What is endearing, not unendearing
What is true, not untrue.

The monk Vangisa arose from his seat, arranged his upper robe over his left shoulder, turned toward the Buddha, and with joined hands said, "I am inspired, Bhagwan! I am inspired, Tathagata!" [These are two honorific titles referring to the Buddha.]

"What inspiration, Vangisa?" the Blessed One asked.

Vangisa then praised the Buddha in verse:

Utter speech
That neither torments one
Nor harms another --
For that speech is indeed well spoken!

Utter only endearing speech,
Speech which is welcome --
For speech that brings no harm
Is indeed pleasing!

Truth, indeed, is deathless speech:
This is an ancient principle.
Nirvana and the Dharma
-- So say the calm --
Are firmly established in truth!

What speech the Blessed One utters
For attaining the goal
And for making an end
To this entire mass of suffering --
Is, indeed, unexcelled speech!

Buddhist "Wrong Speech"

There are Ten Courses of Unwholesome Conduct in Buddhism. As this list makes clear, there are more items related to verbal misconduct than to any other category of behavior.

  1. PHYSICAL: killing
  2. stealing
  3. sexual misconduct
  4. VERBAL: lying
  5. slander
  6. harsh speech
  7. empty chatter
  8. MENTAL: covetousness
  9. ill will
  10. wrong views (A.N., X, 206)

"Empty chatter" (often mistranslated as "gossip") in particular involves the following:

ANIMAL TALK (BPS Buddhist Dictionary term: tiracchana-katha)

This is the name in the texts for the following: "Talk about kings and robbers, ministers and armies, danger and war, eating and drinking, clothes and dwellings, garlands and scents, relations, chariots, villages and markets, towns and districts, women and heroes, street talks, talks by the well, talk about those departed in days gone by, tittle-tattle, talks about [the origin of the] world and sea, about gain and loss" (A.X., 69 ff.).

In the commentaries four further kinds [of unprofitable speech] are enumerated, thus bringing the number to 32, as mostly counted, namely: talk about sensuous enjoyment, self-mortification, eternity, and self-annihilation.

Such talk distracts and often obsesses the mind to no advantage. While some of these things may be important from time to time for persons to know, it is certainly of no profit to meditators and spiritual seekers (such as conscientious monastics).

Monday, February 23, 2009

War and Climate

Mass migrations and war: Dire climate scenario
Charles J. Hanley (AP, 2/21/09)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – If we don't deal with climate change decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war," an eminent economist said.

His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad weather and were talking climate. They couldn't do much about the one, but the other was squarely in their hands. So, Lord Nicholas Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict.

"Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is," the British economic thinker said. More>>

Antarctica: a meeting of polar and political minds
Charles J. Hanley (AP, 2/23/09)

TROLL RESEARCH STATION, Antarctica – Policymakers met polar explorers on the boundless ice of Antarctica Monday as a U.S.-Norwegian scientific expedition came in from the cold to report on the continent's ice sheets, a potential source for a catastrophic "big melt" from global warming.

"Our preliminary finding is that there's a slight warming trend in East Antarctica," American glaciologist Ted Scambos told the group of visiting environment ministers. More>>

PHOTOS: 11/9/07 file photo shows melting icebergs in Antarctica. Environment representatives of more than a dozen nations arrived at a remote Norwegian research station in Antarctica 2/23/09 to learn more about the danger the continent's melting ice might pose to the planet (AP/Roberto Candia/file).
Member of a group visiting environment ministers and other representatives from more than a dozen nations gazes up at the monumental rock towers rising from 1,500-foot-deep ice sheets near the Norwegian Troll Research Station in Antarctica on 2/23/09. The group flew in to the remote station to learn from international scientists about weather and how global warming may melt Antarctic ice, raising sea levels (AP/Charles J. Hanley).

Close Look at Antartic Ice Threat
A parka-clad band of environment ministers landed in this remote corner of the icy continent on Monday, in the final days of an intense season of climate research, to learn more about how a melting Antarctica may endanger the planet.

Representatives from more than a dozen nations, including the U.S., China, Britain and Russia, were to rendezvous at a Norwegian research station with American and Norwegian scientists coming in on the last leg of a 1,400-mile (2,300-kilometer), two-month trek over the ice from the South Pole. More>>

Instant Relaxation (Video)

Five Desirable Things (Sutra)

Nyanaponika Thera & Bhikkhu Bodhi
(Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Chapter of the Fives, 43)

Once the Blessed One addressed the [multi-millionaire] householder Anathapindika thus:

"There are, O householder, five things that are wished for, loved, and agreeable yet rarely gained in the world. What five?
  • Long life,
  • beauty,
  • happiness,
  • fame, and
  • rebirth in heaven.

But of those five things, householder, I do not teach that they are to be obtained by prayer or by vows. If one could obtain them by prayer or vows, who would not obtain them?

"For a noble disciple, householder, who wishes to have long life, it is not befitting that one should pray for long life or take delight in so doing. One should rather follow a path of life that is conducive to longevity. [Author's note: That is, a path of meritorious conduct by practicing generosity, virtue, and meditation -- Anguttara Atthakatha.] By following such a path one will obtain long life, be it divine or human.

"For a noble disciple, householder, who wishes to have beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven, it is not befitting that one should pray for them or take delight in so doing. One should rather follow a path of life that is conducive to beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven. By following such a path one will obtain beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven" (Anguttara Nikaya V, 43).

How Prayers are Answered

Dharmachari Seven

The Good Lord Jug, every flake shall bow

We may have been looking at this illusion our entire lives unable to "see" it! This (snarky) short video shows you the best optical illusion in the world! For more information:
And remember to pray daily to Jug Almighty. Available at supermarkets everywhere. (Now also in Soy for Buddhists!)

Buddhists Praying?

The Buddha explained that there are five very desirable things -- longevity, beauty, fame, happiness, and rebirth in better worlds [to which we might add such things as health, wealth, and influence] -- and that individuals frequently resort to "praying" [petitioning to and/or bargaining with God or devas] for these things (Numerical Discourses, Book of Fives, 43).

But he explained, if all it took were prayer, Who would not have them? Who would not pray for them if that's all it took?
Rather than praying, or at least in addition to praying, one would be wise to follow a course of action (karma) that resulted in these things! These things are the result of deeds. Therefore, whoever desires them can obtain them through right intention, right speech, and right actions.

What is "right" (samma)? Action that is ethical, harmonious, and leads to a pleasant result. Why does it lead to such a result? It does. It accords with the truth. You can argue about what "it" is, but whatever it is, then that is called "right." If praying were "right" and effective, there would be no problem calling it so. In fact, purifying one's mind is a form of mental action. It's also a form of prayer. That's right action. There are the Five Precepts:
  • Restraint in terms of not taking life
  • Restraint in terms of not taking what is not given
  • Restraint in terms of not taking liberties with those involved in committed relationships
  • Restraint in terms of not taking liberties with the truth
  • Restraint in terms of not taking intoxicants that result in careless behavior
A simpler way of putting these five ethical forms of conduct would be to say that one avoids all behavior (mental, verbal, or physical) stemming from the Three Unwholesome Roots:
  • Greed
  • Hatred
  • Delusion
An even simpler way of putting all eight of these things is to sum them up in a single word:

  • Ahimsa (harmlessness or non-harming).
Focusing on a loftier ideal -- first seen (or conceived of) and then moved towards -- is a form of meditation (mental cultivation) just as it is a form of prayer.

But what is prayer? Almost everyone today, and this video in particular, thinks it is merely petitioning. But as Gregg Braden points out in The Isaiah Effect: Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer, there are missing modes of prayer. The most powerful of these modes is "praying" by giving thanks and feeling the feelings as if the desired end had already come to pass. This idea was exploited by the movie The Secret and the wave of self-help gurus, books, and seminars hawking a Universe-as-ATM mentality. The movie left out the initial impetus for its "secret," Esther (Abraham) and Jerry Hicks' Ask And It Is Given interviews on the Law of Attraction.

The next wave of sales will come from "The Shift," a movie by author and PBS-staple Wayne Dyer, and the many copycats waiting to jump on a new bandwagon.

Even this form of mental activity is karma (action, deeds, those things willed and carried out either mentally, verbally, or physically). Therefore, it has the potential to work. But it certainly does not work for the asking. If one wishes to live longer, for example, that is obtained by performing deeds that lead to long life: helping others (and oneself), feeding others, promoting the health of others. Then EVEN WITHOUT WISHING IT, it comes to pass that one becomes long-lived here and now (or, more frequently, hereafter because action takes time to ripen).

Karma, then, is much like the "God-idea" in other religious traditions.

However, in Buddhism it is impersonal and unbiased. Even a "bad person" having done a good thing reaps a positive (and pleasant) result. There is, in fact, no such thing as someone who is ALL bad. It may be said that there are people who are all good, but this is only because they became that way (arhats, "enlightened individuals" no longer capable of falling into unethical ways, purposely harming, liable to be reborn in unfortunate destinations).

Healing Sound Frequencies (Solfeggio)

Water molecules ( subjected to Solfeggio frequencies

What are the ancient Solfeggio frequencies?
These original sound frequencies [Merriam-Webster: solfege] were apparently used in ancient Gregorian chants, such as the great hymn to St. John the Baptist, along with others that church authorities say were lost centuries ago. The chants and their special tones were believed to impart tremendous spiritual blessings when sung in harmony during religious masses. These powerful frequencies were rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Puleo as described in the book Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse by Dr. Leonard Horowitz. Honor to them for the part they’ve played in helping return these lost frequencies back to humanity. The six Solfeggio frequencies include:
Rediscovering the Solfeggio frequencies
This ancient scale is part of a six-tone scale sequence of electro-magnetic frequencies called the Original Solfeggio Scale in Dr. Horowitz's book. These particular frequencies were rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Puleo, who received them in a mystical experience. These frequencies are not something new. They are ancient.

Information about these frequencies was shared with a musician who had a studio in her home. After reviewing the information, she decided that she would like to experiment with these frequencies in the form of meditation music. She was in touch with Jonathan Goldman (author of the book, Healing Sounds). He knew of these frequencies and was using them in some of his music such as "The Lost Chord" CD.