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April, 2005

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It's the birthday of poet and translator Coleman Barks, (books by this author) born in Chattanooga, Tennessee (1937). He's famous for his translations of poems by the 13th-century Sufi mystic, Rumi. His collection, The Essential Rumi, came out in 1995.

Read Gloria Lee's tribute to Barks in a recent issue of The Nondual Highlights.

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A Cinematic Discovery of Street Music

Playing for Change is a musical journey of discovery that celebrates the freedom and the lives of street musicians existing in America today. Focusing on the three cites of Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York, Playing for Change captures an array of musical styles and human moments that would otherwise slip through the cracks of society.

It's the freest lifestyle I've ever known. There's not a lot of money in it, but I do all right. It's a tradeoff…freedom or money, freedom or money…I'll take the freedom.

- Dick Grayson, New Orleans street musician
-read more-

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Spiritual comfort rises from bread-baking class

Former monastery member teaches others the religious aspects of cooking


Staff Writer

Flour, yeast and soul

Almost everyone can find pleasure in smelling fresh-baked bread coming from the door of a bakery, or filling their own kitchen.

But how many people think of the spiritual possibilities that exist in the ages-old craft of baking bread, that most basic and essential of foods?

Peter Rinehart hopes to change the way people think about baking bread.

The former member of an Eastern Orthodox monastery first learned how to bake bread as a young brother in a San Francisco-based seminary. Rinehart has dedicated much of his life since to becoming a master bread maker, an author, and a teacher both in the craft of baking bread and its spiritual aspects.

Monday night, he conducted a class at Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church near Irmo. Called “The Leaven Project,” the class introduced a group of men and women to the spiritual side of bread baking while also taking them through the process of baking itself.

In a 2003 interview with U.S. Catholic magazine, Rinehart described the act of having created a near-perfect loaf of bread: “I felt I had participated in the process of creating something that partook of the beautiful perfection of God ... it became the driving metaphor of my life.”

Those interested in Rinehart’s approach can check out some of his books, including “Bread Upon the Waters: A Pilgrimage Toward Self-Discovery and Spiritual Truth” and “Brother Juniper’s Bread Book: Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor.”

During Monday’s seminar, he discussed the spiritual aspects of “breaking bread” with other people, and compared it to the Christian ritual of Communion, which re-enacts the Last Supper Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his crucifixion.

Rinehart’s approach to bread baking and spirituality centers around the basic ingredients of bread: flour, water, salt and yeast. He describes how the other ingredients are basically lifeless until livened by the addition of the yeast, much like people can feel a lack of meaning without experiencing the love of God in their lives.

Sister Christina Murphy, who works in education ministry at Our Lady of the Hills, said Monday’s class was part of an ongoing effort at the church to help believers discover the presence of God in all aspects of their lives.

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Spreading Spirituality

Swami Sukhabodhananda likes simple messages. Asked for a thought, he would like to share with everyone on the eve of his 50th birthday, he points to the candle light.

“This can do what even the mighty sun can’t,” he smiles gently, adding, “It withstands strong winds and gives light in the night, which the sun is incapable of. Many among us are like the candle light. We’ve our own ways of illuminating our surroundings, but unfortunately, we compare ourselves with the Sun and feel worthless. My request to all is, we should realise our value and work to be better all the time” .

A recent apostle in the long line of Gurus, who have attempted to unravel the mysteries of spirituality, Swamiji has been known for his simple and intelligible interpretation of scriptures like the Geetha. He has also been showing the world how spiritual ideas can enrich everyone’s life, if understood and applied properly.

Scientific practice of the Pranayama and meditation is an important aspect of his teachings for healthy and quality living. He says that the most simple perception of Pranayama can be just breathing, which is the essence of our existence. -read more-

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Musician's focus is spirituality

DAYTONA BEACH -- After lighting the sweet grass, Douglas Blue Feather walked the room waving smoke in a gesture to invite in the spirit guides.

Later, he tapped on a drum chanting and leading the crowd in a prayer to Mother Earth.

Some held a hand to the sky. Others bowed their heads. Some swayed.

Blue Feather, whose birth name is Bonnell, bridged a cultural gap Saturday afternoon at Unity Church of Daytona Beach by speaking about American Indian spirituality, before an evening concert of contemporary American Indian flute music.

Blue Feather, 53, a three-time Native American Music Award winner, suffered an eye injury and retired his badge in 2000 after 14 years as a police officer in Dayton, Ohio. Instead of working with students on drug prevention as he did in law enforcement, he now shares his Cherokee heritage and music to all ages across the country.

"Native American spirituality is not a religion. It's a way of life. It's very Earth-based," he said referring to the weekend celebrations of Earth Day. "We see the creator in all things. Energy is in all things." -read more-

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The work of a Gandhian missionary

Professor Basdeo Bissoondoyal was born on 15th April 1906 in Tyack, Rivière-des-Anguilles. This year marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of this great historical and religious figure of 20th century Mauritius. Pandit Bissoondoyal was a Mauritian patriot, an eminent writer, and a Gandhian missionary who fought for more than half a century for social justice and equality for all Mauritians.

In December 1939, P. Lutchmaya, a Mauritian politician and writer, mentioned in an article in Le Peuple Mauricien that, in 1920, he had the great privilege of meeting Mahatma Gandhi in India. He recalled that Gandhiji had asked him to do in Mauritius what he (the Mahatma) had done in Natal, during the early 1900s, basically to organize the Indo-Mauritians and fight for their rights.

However, in his article, Lutchmaya admitted that he was not the right man for such a great task, and he mentioned, “But providence was to provide in its good time the man who was to organize them…” The man, whom history and destiny would call upon to fulfill such a great mission was Professor Basdeo Bissoondoyal.

Ironically enough, on the same day that Lutchmaya’s article appeared on 23rd December 1939, Pandit Bissoondoyal, who had just arrived from British India, delivered his first public sermon at Cassis, in Port Louis. This specific event marked the genesis of this great Gandhian’s missionary work and social struggle in Mauritius as well as the birth of Jan Andolan or the People’s Movement. -read more-

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Accommodating different facets of a single self, that is life; writes

Like the mystical Sisyphus forever rolling a stone towards the top of mountain aware that it will roll down each time, the existentialists believe that man has been thrown into existence. This is the idea of an absurd life which they uphold. Doesn’t the absence of Allah only reinforce His presence and if we look through the lens of Post Modernism and try to deconstruct God and seek plurality of meaning, then we can safely say, He is perhaps, He is perhaps not.
If all things are meaningless then why this day and night, black and white, good and evil. Why this conflict? If we firmly believe in Allah, we believe in the spiritual growth of human race that is greatly aided by religion. Belief in Almighty is a matter of faith and how to nurture that faith even in the small things an individual believes in, is a concern here. This is not a religious sermon or a discourse on self-annihilation or self-actualization as one cannot risk to annex an alien domain. However this piece of writing aims at marching the words to a house where the self is challenged to retain itself amidst the people who matter to us.
We, the humans are like the birds of Attar’s Manteq at-Tair (The conference of Birds) who object to embark upon the spiritual journey but at the same time have the potential to listen to what the hoopoe has to say.
The hoopoe that is allegorically the spiritual guide wants these birds to search for an ideal, which can become the quintessence of human life. And to uphold this essence in life is to understand our own self, our inner self, which can serve as an illumination into the crevices of darkness that tends to shroud us all our life. -read more-

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Africa high on Negro spiritual music

Dover, Delaware, April 22, 2005

They speak of sorrow, oppression and strength. They cry for freedom and faith, many of the words familiar even to the littlest ones: He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.

But beyond the simple melodies and easy-to-remember lyrics that helped make them staples of American popular music, Negro spirituals are an enduring legacy of the slaves who relied on them for both solace and hope.

More than a century later, the message is no less powerful or inspiring.

"People all around the world can relate to it ... that's one of the reasons the songs are still alive," said Art Jones, founder of The Spirituals Project, a Denver-based nonprofit group whose mission is to preserve and promote spirituals like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Wade in the Water.

Negro spirituals link the suffering and hope of salvation of the slaves with the suffering and salvation of the Gospel.

Daniel Ridout, 79, a retired music educator from New Castle, traces his own love of spirituals back to his childhood as the son of a minister.

"He taught me a lot about the Negro spirituals," said Ridout, who often would accompany his father on visits to elderly church members and ask them to sing for him.

"Some of them stuck with me," said Ridout, recalling a 104-year-old woman's rendition of Talk About a Child Who Do Love Jesus.

"There's so much depth in the Negro spiritual; I began to feel it as I got older," Ridout said. "It's in my blood and my bones." W.E.B. Du Bois called spirituals "the articulate message of the slave to the world."

"They were singing in those days because they really had that beautiful picture of where heaven was, but they were here, being taken advantage of by the slave masters," said Walter Moss of Philadelphia, former vice president of the National Association of Negro Musicians. -read more-

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Tribe to appeal snowbowl ruling
Decision allows use of reclaimed water on sacred site

Native American Times 4/22/2005

The Navajo Nation is planning on appealing a controversial decision to use “reclaimed” water from a sacred site.

The U.S. Forest Service on March 8 decided to allow the Arizona Snowbowl, a lucrative ski lodge with thousands of rooms, to draw water from the San Francisco Peaks. Both tribal officials and environmentalists have protested what essentially amounts to the use of former toilet bowl water on a sacred site.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., this month directed the Navajo Nation Department of Justice “to appeal the U.S Forest Service decision to desecrate” the peaks.

Shirley again made his feelings clear during an address to Navajo lawmakers.

“As everyone in this sacred chamber knows from the deepest memories of childhood, to the core of their being, and from the countless songs of innumerable ceremonies, our sacred mountain, Dook¹o¹osliid, is holy,” he said. “Yet our federal trustee cannot seem to understand that these mountains are our Sistine Chapel, our Library of Congress, our Mount Rushmore, and hold for us all that these cherished places hold for others.”

The Navajo are not the only ones that consider the San Francisco Peaks to have religious significance. The Hopi, Zuni, Tewa, Haulapai, Havasupai, Yavapai-Apache, Yavapai-Prescott, Tonto Apache, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, San Juan Southern Pauite, Fort Mcdowell Mohave Apache, and Acoma also maintain a spiritual connection to the site.

"Since 1979 the impact of the presence of the Snowbowl on our holy shrine has been immeasurable. We have suffered a spiritual impact that many of our spiritual leaders directly attribute to the presence of the Snowbowl,” said Navajo tribal member Klee Benally. “This plan outlines enormous destruction to our spiritual, psychological and physical well-being through its attack on our sacred mountain in the high desert of Northern Arizona."

Shirley said the peaks “bear the stone and soil, minerals and herbs that become the sacred bundles of our medicinemen and women. These are used to cure, protect and bless all of our Navajo people. These mountains are where we make our prayers for a good life for ourselves and our children, for our elders, for the preservation of our Nation and for the safety of our soldiers who place their own lives in danger to protect us all. Since the foreigner first came to Navajoland and learned about us, the world has known we hold these mountains sacred. Yet our federal trustee acts as if others' material wants supersede our spiritual beliefs. Why can't others understand as Navajos do that God also made our Holy People who created this mountain for the Navajo people. They bound it to Mother Earth with a sunbeam. It is one of the most sacred mountains to us. Our teachings tell us it represents life, and we must never desecrate such a holy place.”

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Writer roots out origins of ‘shared black spirit’

[email protected]
22 April 2005
A HAMPSTEAD author has written a book committed to tracing "black people's collective psychological imprint".

Norman Barnett was born in Jamaica but has lived in the area for more than 40 years.

The author, who spent 17 years preparing the work, is a long-standing black political activist.

His book, Black Heroes And The Spiritual Onyame, explores the distinctive nature of black culture through the origins of African spirituality.

Mr Barnett, 60, said: "I explore the origins of the Onyame, which is the Ghanaian tree of life and essential to early African thought.''

The book also looks at Onyame thought through seven major black figures, such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

Mr Barnett said: "I hope the book encourages people to look at the African way of life, and the genius of the African people.''

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'Mambo' depicts spirituality of Afro-Cuban slave culture
Friday, April 22, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

Don't look now, but spirits are all around you. When people from Africa came here as slaves, they brought their gods with them, and those divinities continue to live among us.

Though they may be worshipped in secret, these African gods have had a major impact on American culture.

"Oftentimes, people are not aware of it," says Marta Moreno Vega, co-producer and director with Robert Shephard of the documentary "When the Spirits Dance Mambo," which will be shown on Sunday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. "They're not aware that certain movements and songs derive from a spiritual context."
The 90-minute film depicts an ongoing process of cultural assimilation, as ritual dances are performed for tourists and gradually make their way into nightclubs and dance parties. Viewers will see these dances in all of those contexts, although Vega, a Santería initiate, has taken care not to intrude on sacred ceremonies. Featured artists include Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and the dancers of El Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, among others.

Vega, a college professor who founded and directs the Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute in New York, experienced that Latin dance craze second-hand. Growing up in a Puerto Rican family in Spanish Harlem, she learned to dance the mambo from her older brother, Alberto Moreno, who frequented the Palladium dance club in Midtown Manhattan.

Vega herself was too young to go out. "So what my brother would do, because my sister and I were not able to go, he would call us from the Palladium, from the public phones, and let us listen to the music," Vega recalls. "So that mambo became very much a part of my experience, growing up."

Before it became a dance in Cuba, the word mambo had other meanings. In Haiti, a mambo is a priestess.

"In Santo Domingo, you hear merengues where the singer says, 'Dále Mambo!,'" Vega says. "'Dále Mambo!' means 'give it energy,' you know, 'give it spirit.'"

In the film "When the Spirits Dance Mambo," the word refers both to the dance and to the spiritual energy that dancing summons. "The movie is about the religiosity of Cuba and how that religiosity transforms popular culture, influencing society in Cuba and the United States," she says.

Vega and Shephard made the film in Cuba, where it received its premiere in 2002. The American premiere took place a year later at Aaron Davis Hall in New York, where NJPAC producer Baraka Sele first saw it. Sele decided to use the film to anchor a weekend that also features a performance by jazz musician and composer Paquito D'Rivera on Saturday. As part of NJPAC's Alternate Routes series, she commissioned a new work from D'Rivera inspired by the music in the film.

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Pope admires Indian culture, yoga
Wednesday April 20 2005 16:31 IST


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Here's another Indian connection of Pope Benedict XVI - he's a great admirer of Indian culture and yoga.

No one knows this better than Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, with whom then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger held lengthy discussions on the subject.

"He is a great admirer of Indian spirituality and is equally amazed by the unity in diversity of our country," said Acharuparambil, who was the rector of the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome while Ratzinger was the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.

"He was also very particular that the uniqueness of Christ should not be compromised while making adaptations from Indian culture," Acharuparambil, the head of the Varapuzha diocese in Kochi, told IANS.

"His office was close to mine and as a result we had lots of discussions on Indian culture," Acharuparambil said.

They would have lengthy discussions on culture and Indian spirituality, Acharuparambil reminisced. Ratzinger had been instrumental in elevating him from the post of a teacher to a university rector in 1988.

Acharuparambil, who continued as a rector for eight years, remembers Ratzinger as a widely read man, highly inquisitive about yoga.

He believed yoga, through meditation and contemplation, was the perfect health approach, said Acharuparambil, who had served at the university for 24 years.

"The new Pope is also very familiar with Kerala because of the large presence of Keralites in Rome.

"He is familiar with all the development that Kerala has made. And, if I am not wrong, Ratzinger was part of the papal delegation in 1986 when the then Pope John Paul II visited India."

24 Apr 2005
• Solemn mass to welcome Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Imagine, Lennon sings India, India

India, India
Take me to your heart
Reveal your ancient mysteries to me
I’m searching for an answer
That’s somewhere deep inside
I know I’ll never find it here
It’s already in my mind
I’ve got to follow my heart
Wherever it takes me
I’ve got to follow my heart
Whenever it calls to me
I’ve got to follow my heart
And my heart is going home

These are extracts of lyrics from John Lenon's unpublished song India, India with which the legendary musician will make his Broadway debut, almost 25 years after his death.

Along with another never-before heard number, I Don’t Want to Lose You , the song will be performed in public for the first time, making Lenon's unfulfilled dream of a musical come true.

The songs feature in a new musical of the Beatle’s life, and have been heard only by few Beatles fans, that too muffled bootleg versions.

Lennon wrote India, India in the late 1970s for a musical he was writing named after his song The Ballad of John and Yoko , reports

The musical never materialised and the track remained unheard, except on recordings smuggled out of Lenon’s flat.

The song, sung in a vocal style similar to that of Paul McCartney's Hey Jude , recalls a trip to India in search of spiritual enlightenment, says

Lennon may have been writing about the Beatles' spiritual journey to India in 1968, when they spent time at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh, now in Uttaranchal.

According to Pete Nash, chairman of the British Beatles Fan Club, the lyrics were unique, but the melody had been from two other songs Lenon was working on at the time, Memories and Serve Yourself .

The second track, I Don’t Want to Lose You , a melancholy ballad, had been given to the surviving Beatles in 1995 by Ono, to be released on the Anthology album. However, the producer was unable to remove a buzzing noise from the tape and it was left out.

The song, known to Lennon enthusiasts as Now and Then , was composed in 1977 or 1978.

Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow and guardian of his estate, has sanctioned the use of the tracks in the Broadway musical.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

New CD by Andy Statman, "The Greatest Jewish Clarinetist of his Generation"

Hailed as "the greatest Jewish clarinetist of his generation" by the Jerusalem Post, Statman takes us on a musical journey into the heart of Chassidic melody. The result is one of the most profound and expressive examples of Jewish instrumental music on record.

It is no accident that Andy Statman became a devotee of Chassidic music. For the Chassidim, melody has always been a path of divine service -- a way to connect with G-d. This vision of music as a spiritual journey has guided Statman throughout his career, particularly as he began to move away from traditional klezmer to explore the wellsprings of Jewish music. "All Chassidic niggunim (melodies) are spiritual workshops," Statman observes. "They are meant to introduce the person to his own neshamah (soul) and help him to go deeper and deeper to discover the Source of his existence." -read more-

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Finding quiet in an urban area

What I considered unusual is the sign Mr. Choi personally created. Hung in the front of his writing room, it reads, "When the door is closed, this place becomes the deep mountains."

His handwriting is fresh. Compared to other authors' works, his writing is reminiscent of vegetables grown in the cool climate of mountains. Because its implications, rather than his calligraphic style, are deep and profound, his words linger on for a long time in our hearts.

It is remote and silent even now, so the house must have been like a temple in the mountain when he lived there. So it is no exaggeration to call the house "a country cottage in the heart of the city." It occurs to me that Mr. Choi compared his house to "deep mountains" because it was that quiet.

The next thing that occurred to me was that his writing shows his pride in placing his mind above worldly concerns. However quiet Seongbuk-dong might be, could it be compared to the leisurely countryside? So the phrase on the plaque may indicate a "city hermit": "A true hermit hides in the streets of the city." It means that wherever we live, what is most important is whether we open or close our hearts.

But one question remains. Why did he hang the plaque in front of his writing room of all places? What did the expression written on the plaque have to do with the act of writing?
After close examination, I found a poem that could give us a clue. The poem was recited by Yang Wan Li of the Song Dynasty. "The mood rivers and mountains conjured do not desert human beings/ Rain or shine, it is mysterious / Closing the door and looking for verses is not the way to write a poem / Going out onto the street is a poem in itself." -read more-

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Reader remembrances of pontiff's life and times
Bucks County Courier Times

Mary Catherine Bigam, Langhorne: The pope was an inspiration to all of us and I was blessed for being fortunate enough to share in his spiritual journey. I went to see him in Philadelphia with my parish. I belong to Our Lady of Grace in Penndel.

Carol Bellis, Newtown: I wasn't Catholic when I went to see the pope in Philadelphia and when he passed 20 feet before us, we were all filled with the feeling of the Holy Spirit. He inspired me to convert to Catholicism and I've been teaching CCD for nearly 15 years. I only pray that he now has the feeling of the Holy Spirit that he shared with the whole world.

Frank Carroll, Levittown: His arms were broad enough to take in all peoples and muscular enough for his militant church in its struggles against all the isms that beset mankind, both old and new, from communism to secularism.

Diane, formerly of Bristol: There's a really unusual calm and peace but an uplifting spiritual mood. I want to think about the things we should remember, such as the dignity that the pope has demonstrated in the course of his journey to reach his destination. In other words, what I'm saying is that the path of dying should be treated in reverence and respect, and we should treat our dying hours in peaceful celebration of the life we shared with other human beings. I celebrate the pope's life and I mourn the loss that the world will endure. -read more-

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A Tree of Palme

Anime´ comes in all sorts of flavors: exquisitely rendered fables about the human spirit; sardonic tales of delinquent high school students; and everyone’s favorite – giant robot warriors. From meticulously rendered films like ‘A Tree of Palme’ to the rather more limited animation of ‘Cromartie High School’, and ‘Gravion Zwei’, anime´ is entertainment of a different sort.

Maybe it’s the different in cultural point of view, but ‘A Tree of Palme’, from Takashi Nakamura [director of animation on the classic ‘Akira’] is a spiritual journey unlike anything ever seen in North America.

Palme is a robot, made from the wood of the kuroop tree, to help tend to a mysterious, dying woman who gives him a device known as the Egg of Touto before she dies. When she dies, Palme loses all sense of purpose. Then he learns that the Egg of Touto must be taken to Tamas, the Land Below. Despite his apathy, Palme sets out on a journey to Tamas and, along the way, encounters various aids and obstacles – even going so far as to find meaning and purpose in his crusade.

Plot-wise, ‘A Tree of Palme’ contains elements of several familiar tales: ‘Pinocchio’, ‘The Hobbit’ and bits of dickens among them. What makes the film stand out is the emphasis on the need for purpose, and the idea that what we want may not be what we get [even if what we get may not seem to be what’s best for us]. The journey to Tamas is a story of gaining purpose and finding spiritual satisfaction from following that purpose.

‘Palme’ took seven years to produce, and the animation reflects it – this is animation on the order of the best of Miyazaki, or Disney. The landscapes and creatures of Palme’s world are odd and whimsical in a manner that suggests Dali at his lightest. There are giant fish that swim in the air; grasses that hang from the sky like clouds; and machinery that looks workable while not particularly resembling anything from our history.

There are flaws in the film, but they are more on the order of odd edits that take us too suddenly from a scene in one place, to somewhere entirely different without any real effort to explain how, or why. As a result, ‘Palme can be a bit disorienting at times. Overall, though, it’s an enchanting journey that is well worth taking.

Extras include: a featurette, ‘Making of A Tree of Palme’, which includes an interview with filmmaker Takashi [and shows him meeting with Dark Horse Comics publisher, Mike Richardson to discuss the North American rights to the film’s distribution]; galleries of sketches and finished art for the character, mechanical, prop and worldview designs; five key scene animatics; the original Japanese promos and trailers; and an insert with an in-depth interview with Takashi [complete with some exquisite cel art from the film].

Grade: A Tree of Palme: B+
Extras: B

Final Grade: B

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A sacred monument restored, a spiritual faith revived

There are few places on earth that are as visually dramatic as Taktshang, a sacred nye established by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) as one of Bhutan’s most important monuments. Perched against a sheer 800-metre rockface at a dizzying height of 2,950 metres above sea level, the monastery represents an architectural feat that reflects the deep faith with which it was constructed. More important, however, is the spiritual aura that this awe-inspiring site emanates.

Taktshang: a dramatic legend

The 12 main temples and nine sacred caves of Taktshang are surrounded by numerous relics and images of saints, drupchus (holy water) in the form of crystal waterfalls, streams, and rivulets, and lhakhangs and meditations centres that are built against the cliffs that rise high above the main monastery complex.

It was here in this forebodingly beautiful ravine, home to powerful legends, that deities subdued wild spirits, saints and lams sat in tranquil meditation, yogis sang their realisations, lams and scholars received volumes of transmissions, tertons discovered treasures, and historical leaders drew their visions.

On March 26 the sacred nye witnessed yet another special moment in its history when the monastery’s lhakhangs, restored beyond their original grandeur and enriched with new religious images and other treasures, were sanctified and their spirituality immortalised in a rabney ceremony attended by His Majesty the King, Their Majesties the Queens and the royal family, and representatives of the clergy, officialdom, and public, as well as the international community. -read more-

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New book explores spiritual dimension of Mr. Rogers
By Joe Manning

Few people know that he was a Presbyterian minister, but no one would doubt his passion for children.
He didn't preach from a pulpit, but that didn't stop him from delivering the message of God.
His name is Fred Rogers, you probably know him as Mister Rogers and you probably remember his neighborhood.
Amy Hollingworth shares her experiences with Rogers in the recently-released book, "The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights From the World's Most Beloved Neighbor."
Hollingsworth first met Rogers when she interviewed him for a Christian television station. It was the first time he was going to be speaking openly about his faith in front of a television audience. Up to that point, he had just lived his faith on television - he had never spoken about it.
Hollingsworth described Fred Rogers as a man who embodied the famous words credited to St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words."
As Hollingsworth learned more about Fred Rogers, she learned that he was more than just a 30-minute babysitter that you didn't have to pay. He was a man driven by sincere good will, she writes.
Throughout the book, Hollingsworth emphasizes some key concepts to which Rogers paid special attention.
He was focused on slowing down - to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. This was actually the reason each one of his shows started with a flashing yellow traffic light. The flashing light was an invitation to children and parents to sit down and slow down for the next half hour.
Rogers also valued silence. Hollingsworth wrote about one instance on his show when he tried to feed a fish but the fish wouldn't eat. Rather than re-taping the segment, he sat there and waited in silence. Rogers often told others that if we can wait though the "natural silences" of life, we'll be surprised by what awaits on the other side, Hollingsworth wrote. -read more-

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Nuns nurture spirituality online

INDIANAPOLIS -- From inside the walls of a monastery that looks a little like a medieval fortress, a small group of cloistered Carmelite nuns is offering spiritual guidance to tens of thousands of people a day -- through the Internet.

The Carmel of the Resurrection Monastery in Indianapolis landed on the Net more than two years ago with the Web site where the nuns reflect on recent headlines, offering lessons that can be taken from current events.

Now they've taken their cyberministry a step further, adding a "School of Prayer" to popularize the style of contemplative prayer honed by their patrons, the 16th-century Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

"We're like a concentrated spirit of the saints, but now it's going out. Add water, and everyone's got it," said 73-year-old Sister Betty Meluch, a former prioress of the monastery.

Web surfers are getting it.

The Roman Catholic nuns' site averaged 66,532 hits per day during February, and one of every five first-time visitors returned for more. Most visitors have come from North America, but other site visitors have come from places as distant as the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. -read more-