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Jerry Katz
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January - March, 2004

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

History shows people wed in many ways for many reasons

Different cultures in different times have practiced many forms of marriage. The ancient Hebrews, for instance, practiced polygamy — a form of marriage once widespread among cultures worldwide. Until the 19th century, some Native American cultures allowed two men to essentially marry, provided one underwent a ritual that resulted in his being considered a crossed-gender or mixed-gender person.

"If you're talking about the history of the world and not just the last two centuries, the proportion of the world populated by monogamous households were a tiny, tiny portion — just Western Europe and little settlements in North America," said Nancy Cott, professor of history at Harvard University. -more-

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Hula: The philosophical footwork that 'is life'. In ancient times, hula evolved from the martial arts and was used in temples as a tribute to the gods.

Now, though, it has a more esoteric and philosophical definition.

"Hula is life," Punahele says. "It is the way you wake up in the morning, the way you go through work, the way you come together in gatherings like this." It is a sacred connection to the culture through sound and movement. -www. orlandosentinel .com/entertainment/orl-livview29032904mar29,0,230270,print.story?coll=orl-home-entlifelink no longer working-

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The Spirit of Place. Just to know that nomadic hunters exist, that jaguar shamans yet journey beyond the Milky Way, that the myths of the Athabaskan elders still resonate with meaning, is to remember that our world does not exist in some absolute sense but rather is only one model of reality.
For the people of the village, every activity was an affirmation of continuity. In the morning, before the labor in the fields began, there were always prayers and offerings of coca leaves for Pachamama, the Great Mother. The men worked together in teams forged not only by blood but by reciprocal bonds of obligation and loyalty, social and ritual debts accumulated over lifetimes and generations, never spoken about and never forgotten. -www. no longer working-

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Crime? It’s unheard of in this village for eight years.

‘‘We convince parties that legal matters are full of hassles and take a lot of time, energy and money, and most of them agree to the panchayat’s solution,’’ she says. If parties are dissatisfied still, the elders in the village try to knock some sense into them. ‘‘Elders are respected and their words carry weight in the village,’’ says the sarpanch.

Shardaben says the entire village is God-fearing. ‘‘Young and old attend the satsang programmes held every evening in the village,’’ says she. ‘‘We have always had a harmonious atmosphere in the village. There is only one Muslim family in the village but it lives without fear,’’ says Jassubhai, Shardaben’s husband.
‘‘The most important point is that villagers here are very strict about liquor and do not tolerate its sale. Liquor is the root of most trouble in rural areas.’’ -more-

Monday, March 29, 2004

JACK KEROUAC: Book of Haikus, edited and with an Introduction by Regina Weinreich. Penguin USA, 2003, 240 pp., $13.00 (paper).

Kerouac naturally wrote haiku-esque haiku that readily recall their Japanese counterparts, such as:

in the birdbath,
A leaf

In my medicine cabinet
the winter fly
Has died of old age


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Birdsong has always held a mysterious power to lift our mood. And now, as commerce and urban sprawl reduce our chances of listening to the real thing, we are finding a new way to experience this most primal form of music as recordings of birdsong achieve remarkable sales.
Songs of Garden Birds, a compilation of 52 birds heard in British gardens, is a guide for the amateur enthusiast, while the second CD, Dawn Chorus, is a pure celebration of sound. -more-

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Xu Bing with his Artes Mundi prize-winning work

A handful of dust, gathered from the streets of New York in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, last night won the first £40,000 Artes Mundi prize for the Chinese artist Xu Bing.

Mr Xu, who was born in China in 1959, left the country after the Tiananmen Square massacre. He now lives and works in New York, and was in the city when the towers fell. He gathered the dust near the site, and used it to create a hauntingly evocative piece. -more-

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Capital punishment abolished in Bhutan His Majesty the King, in a kasho (royal decree) issued on March 20, the 30th day of the 2nd Bhutanese month, abolished capital punishment in the kingdom of Bhutan.

The historical decree is momentous, reflecting a profound blend of spiritualism and pragmatism. The implications of capital punishment, in Bhutanese law, is seen as a contradiction both from a religious and legal perspective.

Although capital punishment exists as a written law, it is not being invoked. And if the courts do award capital punishment, His Majesty the King has the legal authority to repeal it. Meanwhile, Bhutan being a Buddhist nation, capital punishment is seen as a contradiction to the basic doctrines of Buddhism. -more-

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The Lord of the Rings is one of the all-time selling books for children, but how original is the story? GABOR MATÉ looks at three books on the legends and the legacy.
There is only one story, Campbell showed, only one quest, one adventure, what he called "the monomyth." And there is only one hero, though he or she may appear at different times in different cultures in a thousand guises. The hero is the human being who dares descend into the darkest depths of the unconscious -- to the very source of our creative power -- and there confront the demons and monsters thrown up by the fright-stricken infant psyche. -more-

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Friday, March 26, 2004

Art Exhibit (New York) Ocean Flowers: Impressions from Nature: A work of stunning beauty, Ocean Flowers explores a little-known moment of exhilarating artistic experimentation. The book focuses on natural-history imagery in the mid-nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on botanical drawings and photograms by the artist Anna Atkins (1799-1871) and her Victorian contemporaries.

Besides providing a feast for the eyes, the book illuminates intriguing shifts in the way the natural world was represented. In the mid 1800s, the advent of photography provided new possibilities, generating as much creative fervor as digital media have in recent years. -more-

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Synagogue on Wheels

Michael Herzfeld, a businessman who lives in Bay Harbor Islands, hadn't gone to services in months when suddenly a synagogue pulled up to him on Jefferson Avenue.

There it was, Chabad on Wheels, an airy 26-foot bus, for Jews who sometimes don't have time for Judaism in a city that sometimes doesn't have time for religion. -more-

MOBILE: Rabbi Zev Katz is at the wheel of his 26-foot synagogue on wheels, bringing religion to busy Jews on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. 'I knew I didn't want to be a pulpit rabbi,' he says.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

"When you dare to ask profound questions about the universe in which we live, you may very well receive some rather profound answers."

The British social historian James Burke is fond of saying any time humanity's view of reality is changed by new knowledge, reality itself is changed. That is exactly what has happened with the discovery by the Mars rover Opportunity that the red planet once harbored liquid, flowing water.
Because now that it has been shown there are two planets where water once flowed, there no longer is a reason to doubt hundreds -- or even thousands -- more might exist right within our own Milky Way galaxy. -more-

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

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Heart of Stone. Chris Drury's slate installation was inspired by the swirling vortex of blood inside the human heart, writes Sebastian Smee

Satisfaction is not an emotion most artists would exude when declaring that one of their works had been destroyed in a Japanese typhoon. But then, Chris Drury, 55, is quite unlike most artists. Given to statements such as, "I have a continuing fascination with mushrooms and their spore prints," Drury works directly with the elements of nature, which inevitably means embracing nature's transience, its unpredictable tempos and its all-round, art-mocking indifference. -
more- Photo: Vortex: Heart of Stone, by Chris Drury

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Exonerated man speaks about capital punishment

Yarris said the time he spent in prison was a gift and helped him grow educationally and spirituality.

"Locking me in a cell 23 hours a day was a blessing in disguise," Yarris said. "I went to prison with an eighth grade education. My growth -- whether it be educationally or spiritually -- was all man-made because there was no humanity." -more-

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Father Hennen's distaste for farming is outdone only by his distaste for religious piety, or what he calls "the churchy life." He is a man at war with convention, with religious self-indulgence and blind obedience to the Catholic hierarchy; a man at war, finally, with himself. He wrestles, Job-like, with it all. And he says that it is in the questions, not the answers, that he finds meaning; that he is defined not by what he knows but by what he seeks. And what he seeks is the moral life.
Drug abuse, he says, feeds off the sickness of a society suffocating under overindulgence and narcissism. It feeds off the "spiritual emptiness" of the privileged and the spoiled, the "obsession with image over substance." And it is, in the end, a barometer of our society, he says, where the chief goal is not making sacrifices for others, "but the belief that we should never feel any pain." -more-

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"I just didn't know what I was going to do." Julie Gildred pulled down six figures as a corporate attorney. She owned a home in Encinitas, drove a convertible Saab, wore designer suits.

"I wouldn't think twice about going out for a $100 dinner," she says. "I was in position to do whatever I wanted."

Yet something was nagging at her soul.

An avid runner and casual cyclist at the time, Gildred says, "I had known the lifestyle I was living, sitting in a chair in front of a computer 10 hours a day, wasn't consistent with how I wanted to live. I just didn't know what I was going to do."

In 2002, she embarked on a two-week bike tour along Spain's historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail.

"It was really more of a spiritual journey than anything else," says Gildred, 38. "I fell in love with bike traveling." -more-

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Spiritual Journey. It is a long walk on the vast stretches of sand spread across the banks of the river Krishna. The sand gets hotter as you surge ahead, forcing you to take a pause. And just when you think that you have reached the spot, you realise that you are only half way through. Your destination is the dais at the centre of a huge pandal erected on the river bank as part of the ten-day `Krishna vasantotsavam', kicked off on Sunday to coincide with Ugadi. The inhospitable climatic conditions notwithstanding, it is heartening to see people, many of them in the evening years of their life, remaining relentlessly focussed and sticking to their `religious conviction' that is so utterly pragmatic and prudent. -more-

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Flutists' mission: Raise consciousness of planet through prayer, music
Latteta Theresa and Bo Perkins, professional flutists, felt the call to help bring peace to the world by helping people feel inner peace through music. ... Theresa learned the true power of music in 1981 when she sat on a bucket playing in a subway station in New York City.

"About all I could see was feet," she said. "I was trying to raise $1,000 to buy presents for my family. I saw feet coming from all around me. When I looked up, there were all kinds of people standing together in peace and harmony -- the gentile and the Jew, the blacks and the whites, Hispanics, Asians and even Hells Angels. They had forgotten their differences. Music had transformed people." -more-

Saturday, March 20, 2004

THIS IS a taste of India's neighbour, the little mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Celebrating the vibrant and rich culture of the country is the Festival of Bhutan being held at The Full Circle in Delhi's own Khan Market.

Inaugurated by the Ambassador of Bhutan, Dago Tshering, on Friday, the nine-day festival brings images of the beautiful country, its handicrafts and cuisine. Displayed in the bookstore's cafe - Cafe Turtle - the photographs capture the diversity and spirituality of the country. -more-

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Analysts Reinterpret Role Of Religion, Spirituality. Joan Arehart-Treichel. Although psychoanalysts once took a dim view of spirituality and religion, deeming them infantile and psychologically unhealthy, some analysts are now studying the topics and discussing them with patients. -more-

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Earth may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction on a par with the five others that have punctuated its history, suggests the strongest evidence yet.

Butterflies in Britain are going extinct at an even greater rate than birds, according to the most comprehensive study ever of butterflies, birds, and plants.
The current extinction is being precipitated by the widespread loss of habitats because of human activity, according to Tefler. The remaining habitats are small and fragmented, and their quality has been degraded because of pollution. -more-

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The key thing to know about time, (Brian) Greene says, is that you alter it simply by going for a walk. We know this from Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity.
...there is no such thing as "now." That just as there is no center of the universe, there is no location in the "loaf" of spacetime that's more special than any other.
"You look at the garbage, you look at the fire hydrant, you see it's made of atoms, and the atoms are made of strings. All of a sudden, the fire hydrant has a kind of beauty to it." -more-

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Daniel Matt's fresh translation of the Zohar. The rabbis mine every word of every biblical verse for every last drop of hidden meaning. God's famous injunction to Abraham - "Go you forth from your land" - is interpreted to mean that spiritual insight requires taking leave of one's daily preoccupations:

"Go to yourself, to know yourself, to refine yourself," Moses de Leon wrote.
Matt noted that the Zohar's understanding of the route to spirituality is far from the Tarot-card reading and fortune telling of the Hollywood version of Kabbalah. The great Jewish mystics who followed in Moses de Leon's footsteps weren't looking for magic, he says. "To them, the challenge was to turn ordinary experience into spiritual insight. They wanted to find God in the marketplace."
The Zohar is going to be a readable book for the first time," says Green, who has known Matt since he taught him as a freshman at Brandeis. "Before Matt's edition, it was hidden behind a double veil of the Aramaic language and symbolic speech. With the poetry of Matt's translation and his commentary, you can unpack its meaning line by line." -more-

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Prayer that can expose and prevent terror. The arms of the world have opened to embrace the people of Madrid. And having felt the outpouring of care that was showered on us here in New York City, I know this will be a genuine help to everyone in Madrid. It is a God-impelled response, and it is a mighty help.

The pictures of millions of Spaniards silently walking the streets in protest against terrorism are a call to all of us to join in. Few of us can do all the practical work that this involves. But there is a spiritual dimension to this struggle that we can participate in. The need for our help on this front is great. -more-

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Interview with Naseeruddin Shah on his play, The Prophet

So what is the setting for the play?
The play is set in a hospital. The look is stark and bare with only two beds. I perceive the hospital as the final stop, before you go on to the other world. Although depressing and clinical, many a times a hospital can have a strangely mystical atmosphere. It is the place where people collect their thoughts and reflect upon life before meeting the end. In a way, I have interpreted the prophet’s final journey as death. -more-

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Chinese landscape painting is more about the essence than the real, writes Steve Meacham. You look at the pine tree first, its dragon-scaled trunk and twisted branches clutching perilously to the two enormous boulders in the foreground. Then your gaze moves skyward, past the cascading stream and the cloud-shrouded hills to the twin peaks which jut out improbably into an endless sky.

Only later, when your eyes have become accustomed to the delicate nuances of the scene do you notice the human being at the centre of the work. An old man in a white robe, meditating unobtrusively. A monk, perhaps. A recluse. Or just a lonely old man. -more-

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I sentence you to: tea. by Sharon Krum. Forget community service, a US judge packs offenders off to a course in Eastern spirituality.

Standing in the Santa Fe Municipal Court listening to the judge hand down her sentence, Megan Rodriguez thought that she must be on Candid Camera. After pleading guilty to one charge of domestic abuse (hurling a lamp at her boyfriend), Rodriguez, 19, was sentenced to a Japanese tea ceremony, t’ai chi classes, acupuncture and 12 weeks of meditation. -more-

Friday, March 12, 2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the latest bit of genius to be spun out of the warped mind of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the mastermind behind such films as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Directed by Mike Gordry, who also shares writing credits, the film explores typically Kaufman-esque themes of unconsciousness but also delves into the nature of human relationships in a way that Kaufman has never done before. -more-

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Chicago, Illinois: www. - - link no longer working - Crownsis Goodman Theatre artistic associate Regina Taylor's adaptation of Michael Cunningham and Craig Mayberry's book of the same title that celebrates African-American women and their church hats. Taylor's story, infused with gospel music, focuses on Yolanda, a young Brooklyn girl sent to the South to live with her grandmother, where she is exposed to old traditions and a higher spirituality. Opens Tuesday and continues through April 18 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: (312) 443-3800. This has been the complete story.

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'Celtic Visions' celebrates culture and helps children. (Artist Gayle Clark Fedigan) fell in love ... with the landscapes of Ireland, which she painted from a cottage she rented in Fanore during the second week of her stay.

''It's like mystically beautiful,'' said Fedigan, who was enamored with Ireland's sunsets. ''There's myths and it's on the gulf stream. It's warm and welcoming, very mystical and it's a very spiritual place to be.'' -www.">link no longer working-

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If It’s Saturday, It’s Another Bar Mitzvah , by David T. Levinson
It starts as a trickle.

My oldest child, Becca, 12, is going into seventh grade. An invitation arrives from a boy at her new school. He doesn’t know Becca, nor she him, but in a kind gesture he has invited her — and everyone else in their class — to his bar mitzvah.

In the next 14 months, Becca, my wife, Ellie, and I will be invited to 55 more.


Another Saturday, another bar mitzvah, another kid hoisted onto a chair. Everyone applauds. One dad — a circuit regular — moans, "I can’t take it anymore."

And then, up pops the boy who spontaneously announces he’s proud to be a Jew; the mom who tearfully tells her daughter how hard it was for her to get pregnant with her and how blessed she feels... -

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Ecological activist Rockefeller to discuss Earth Charter, By David J. Craig

The United States has been waging two wars and has spent billions of dollars on security measures to combat terrorism since 9/11, but unless America and other developed nations redress dramatic inequities in the distribution of wealth worldwide, those efforts will be in vain. That's part of the message that Steven Rockefeller is bringing to BU.
“Right now, close to three billion people in the world live on $2 a day or less, and that's a tinderbox,” says Rockefeller. “That problem is related to terrorism, because terrorism is the poor man's weapon. We obviously have to take very specific actions to counter terrorism, but unless we address large underlying problems, there will continue to be serious conflicts. If it isn't with Islamic fundamentalists, it will be with some other group.” -

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Sitar player came here to be close to mentor Ravi Shankar. (Sitarist Kartik Seshadri) explained that the spiritual aspect of the process is "not somber or serious," as people sometimes mistake it. "It has every possible emotion," Seshadri said. "It is deeply meditative to the most rhythmically exciting." -more-

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

'St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography' captures soul of extraordinary figure. Patrick was not yet 16 when he was captured and taken off in chains by Irish pirates. Young and fit, he was spared from the massacre visited upon older captives and children and was sold into slavery in northwestern Ireland. He spent six years there, herding sheep on the storm-swept uplands of Mayo.

In Freeman's view, this experience as a slave without hope in a foreign land forged a spiritual faith in the young Patrick and a fierce compassion for the downtrodden. Both would empower his later mission to bring the gospel to Ireland, indeed to adopt this remote island as his home. ... Freeman stresses the importance of Patrick's work with oppressed populations in Ireland, particularly women. Women were classed with children and slaves under Irish law. Seen as property, they had no legal rights. Female slaves were subject to immeasurable abuse.

Patrick introduced Christian ideals of human dignity and equality under God, and women from all ranks of society converted to Christianity in large numbers. -more-

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Who worries you most, Mel Gibson or Mitch Albom? Reading "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" is a sad experience because it conjures up a mass of people who, like its hero, feel lonely and unimportant. But instead of offering them the rich moral framework of organized religion or rigorous philosophy, instead of reminding them of the tough-minded exemplars of the Bible and history, books like Albom's throw the seekers remorselessly back upon themselves.

The flap over Gibson's movie reminds us that religion can be a dangerous thing. It can be coarsened into gore and bloodshed and used to foment hatred. But we're not living in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Our general problem is not that we're too dogmatic. Our more common problems come from the other end of the continuum. Americans in the 21st century are more likely to be divorced from any sense of a creedal order, ignorant of the moral traditions that have come down to us through the ages and detached from the sense that we all owe obligations to a higher authority. -more-

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Wise woman Duncan Macmillan

Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Time ****

Bonnie Thompson ****

This kind of complexity of reference runs through the show, but it always comes back to weaving and sewing. There are heads made from scraps of fabric, including pieces of old tapestry. There are flags made of woven ribbons and there is a set of lithographs that use imagery of stitching. In one a field of interlocking lines that look like knitting is accompanied by the statement: "To unravel a torment, you must begin somewhere." You cure pain by unravelling it, she suggests, by treating life as a piece of knitting that has gone wrong.
The weakness of classical feminism has always been that it has seemed oppositional: men and women, them and us. Instead of tackling the dualism that is the greatest intellectual weakness of the post-Christian West and the source of the problem that feminism set out to solve, this attitude reinforces it. Louise Bourgeois gives us back the universal feminine which lies deeper in our consciousness than any such dualism. -more-

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Few signs of China relaxing hardline policy 45 years after Dalai Lama fled.

Rights groups accuse China of orchestrating a wave of immigration of Han Chinese settlers into the area to dilute Tibet's ethnic identity, and the Dalai Lama himself has accused uncultured Chinese businessmen interested only in money of exploiting the territory.

Billions of dollars in infrastructure investment has been pumped into the impoverished and isolated area -- essentially to attract Han Chinese -- yet recent studies show rural Tibetans remain among the poorest in China.

In a sign that the Dalai Lama's patience is wearing thin, he warned last year that talks on autonomy have to produce results within two or three years or violence may erupt, with Tibetan youth organisations agitating for independence.

"If my approach fails, these youths might be within their rights to take up the torch and demand independence," he told the French daily Le Figaro. -more-

Sunday, March 7, 2004

A film about human consciousness.

As we push our trolleys along supermarket aisles and worship politely in pews we imagine ourselves superior to men in loincloths wielding roughly fashioned spears.

Having explored the earth and the sky, this film will take them into spiritual dimensions. Called Boiling Point, it takes nothing less than human consciousness as its theme.
Boiling Point establishes that early people were much more sophisticated than previously imagined and not just savages concerned only about the next meal, but interested in developing their minds, wise about healing, skilled at living in harmony with one another and the environment, adept as artists and interested in recording and advancing their culture.
For all their experience in the ocean and on paradise islands, the brothers felt themselves lost in the Bushmen's environment. Then, "the Bushmen opened up a world we could understand but couldn't see", explains Craig, and "awakened a sense that stops a person viewing nature as separate from man". -more-

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Art for the sky: The Portland Dove

Not unlike Buddhist mandalas or Navajo sand paintings, both of which are made with wholeness and healing as the object, Dancer's sky art is an often-political expression of outrage and longing for change. The transformation symbols in the works are meant as metaphors for human impact on the earth.

"A change in our relationship to the Earth is essential and photography can slow or hasten it," he says on the Web. "The intent of my work is to balance the beauty of nature with the reality of what ... threatens its destruction."

His message is effectively sent by putting it in the perspective of the big picture, said Sarah Hughes, a Coastside resident who is handling his appearance here.

"You can't see it from the ground," she said. "From the air, it makes sense. It's the big picture." -more-

Saturday, March 6, 2004

"GIVING EDUCATION to a poor person is thousand times better than constructing chaultries and temples," said the modern Tamil poet, Subramania Bharathi.

In this era of commercialisation of education, the endeavour of this 75-year-old man is exemplary, and worthy of emulation.

The Mahakavi's words are the mantra of P.S. Jeyaraj of Sarugani in Sivaganga district, a retired schoolteacher. He started a preparatory school at Thankachimadam, a coastal village in Ramanathapuram district, with the aim of spreading literacy among the children of the poor, especially the fishermen.

His is a saga of dedication and perseverance. -more-

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Poetry provides access to spirituality, identity. I would like to draw out an idea that wasn't made explicit in my previous column... .The idea was that writing can, and should be, a spiritual and life-affirming process. ... In her essay "Poetry Is Not a Luxury," Audre Lorde says: "Poetry is not only dream or vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundation for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before." -more-

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http: // - link no longer active.Spirituality in Rap Music. With help from The Tennessean's A. Tacuma Roeback, we looked for hip-hop lyrics on values and spirituality. Here are some excerpts:

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Interview with Yann Martel (Photo right)

Q. Your main character is nicknamed Pi, which is also a numeral that can be expressed finitely as 3.14. In truth, though, pi is infinite; not even computers can calculate it to the final digit. Did you choose this as a name to designate tension between Pi's mortal life and spirituality?

A. Yeah. More specifically, pi in mathematics is an irrational number, meaning…(that) it goes on forever – 3.1415927 etc. with no discernable pattern. I thought it was interesting how an irrational number is used all the time in mathematics to make sense of things.…religion is also like that. It's something vaguely non-rational, but it helps make sense of our universe, of who we are and where we are going. -more-

Friday, March 5, 2004

Crossing the Ocean of Fire. The reason why the desert is so mysterious is that it is a coexistence of both a thrilling beauty and a fatal danger.

The main character of “Hidalgo” (director: Joe Johnston), expected to be released on March 19, is the desert. It is an action adventure blockbuster, describing the great adventure and challenge of a human being situated in the setting of a magnificent desert, ranging from a windless silent desert to a spectacular desert with a strong blast. -more-

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Film, discussion for International Women's Day. What allows one person to see what nobody else can see? That’s one of the questions that will be asked as Squamish celebrates International Women’s Day this Tuesday (Mar. 9) at the Squamish Public Library.

The library is hosting a viewing off Signs of Time, a documentary on the life and times of Marija Gimbutas, one of the most influential and controversial archeologists of the 20th century, with a discussion following the film. Gimbuta, born and raised in Lithuania, found evidence in the earliest strata of European civilization of cultures where women were honoured, goddesses were worshipped, nature was revered and war was unknown. -more-

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Cinema Therapy. Most of us would prefer to sit on the couch to watch a movie than undergo therapy. For one thing, it’s about a tenth of the price. But now, with the arrival of movie therapy, it seems the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. The idea that films can be useful tools in therapy hardly raises a cry of eureka among therapists — Aristotle identified the emotionally expunging effect of Greek drama more than 2,000 years ago. And we are more likely to talk about what we see than what we read. -more-

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"There's no running away in here." All the monks were very open about the "dark night of the soul" that they must endure in the silence of the monastery. Some people on the outside see monastic life as running away from problems, I said, but Brother Daniel was adamant: "There is no running away in here. Every day you are laid bare psychologically. Your calling has to be genuine or it is pretty quickly found out. You have to be physically and mentally robust. If you are running from something you get burnt up and get out pretty quickly." -more-

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Students help carve a bit of history. It took three years to turn a redwood log into the Haida canoe launched yesterday. ... "This canoe carries the spirit of all living things," Peele said. "Today, we honor Ocean Spirit, we honor our families. ... Respect for all tribes -- all must be honored here. Putting aside differences is healing." -more-

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Woman who rides mountains. Landmark surfer never took the easy path.

It’s always a fight against fear, Gerhardt says.

Waiting to go out, listening to the roar of a wave that sounds like a freight train, she will sometimes feel the bitter taste of adrenaline creeping up her throat; feel her legs begin to get weak, her heart to pound and her head seems to spin.

As a scientist, she knows the sensations are a physical reaction to fear and are not good things to have in the lineup.

"I talk to myself," she says, "and every fearful thought that enters my mind, I rationalize it and then disqualify it."

Fear and adrenaline are only good, she says, if you can use them to make you stronger.

And there are days, she says, when you just have to paddle back in and try it another time.

It’s not death that she fears out there, Gerhardt says. She has too much faith in God to be afraid of that.

Rather, she says, she is afraid of being injured so badly she would not be able to surf or mountain bike or take walks along the beach again.

She grew up with a woman who could do none of those things. -more-

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The Sea Life community has taken lucid dreaming to new levels. They describe themselves as, 'a circle of dreamers from around the world collaborating in mutual dreaming adventures, dreaming with and for the earth itself'.
In these dream journeys Sea Lifers look for guidance. Instead of simply interpreting dreams as the mind's sifting of daily experience, dreams are looked upon as another reality – a kind of parallel universe offering valuable insights to anyone who cares to look. In this reality seek and you will find, knock and you will be let in. Sea Lifers examine the clues and synchronicities within their dreams and apply them to their spiritual journey, the earth's journey. -more-

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Brian Herron’s journey into the ‘dismal crypts,’ and what he brought back. ... Nowhere in the system, whether it be the judicial system, the court system, the law enforcement system, or the penal system, is there forgiveness, restoration, or redemptive love. ... “In that place, I began to observe and talk to the brothers there and I got a different point of view, a different view of men who are on our streets and engaged in criminal activity. I got a different view of men who are incarcerated. “One of the things I learned even in myself is that we are told — and it is propaganda — that bad people go to prison. Good people can do a bad thing, but that doesn’t make them a bad person.“ If we are going to stem the tide, and if we are going to reduce the recidivism rate, then we have to create support communities for people coming out of incarceration that welcome them back, that have some accountability at both ends. -more-

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Icon making involves spirit as much as art. Mrs. Manley takes the small piece of clay into her hands and, ever so gently, breathes on it.
    "You have to do it slowly," Mrs. Manley says. An internationally recognized iconographer, she became interested in her religion, Russian Orthodoxy, and its icons after the death of her father when she was just 16.
    A gentle breath on the clay is all it takes: Breathe too quickly and the gold leaf will blow away. Certainly, it's an old technique. Today, there would be more-efficient ways of easing the gold leaf onto the prepared bole. But warm breath on cold clay also echoes the act of God giving Adam life so long ago. That's an important consideration for iconographers, who blend technique and symbol in a form that owes a bit to art and much to spirit. -more-

February 8 - March 3, 2004

Notice: The webmaster was on vacation between Feb. 8 and March 3, 2004. The stories posted during that time period were submitted by Mary Bianco and may be read at the Nonduality Salon News list site.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Art Review (Boston): "Concerning the Spiritual in Photography."

Anyone who has seen an image emerge in the darkroom knows what a fundamentally mysterious, even ghostly, process photography is: the way it seems an emanation from beyond. There's no scientific mystery, of course. It's a simple matter of chemistry and physics. But emotionally -- or, better yet, spiritually -- each time a photograph develops it's like a small, inexplicable miracle. No other art form so forthrightly proclaims itself to be supernatural. For almost as long as photography has existed, the medium's affinity for otherworldliness has been exploited by artists and charlatans alike. Both halves of the equation are on display in "Concerning the Spiritual in Photography." -

~ ~ ~

Bruce Dawe's new volume of poetry begins with a special dedication: a few lines of poetry about his sighting of four blind boys crossing the road, smiling, linked together with each one's hands on the next one's shoulders, "their thin canes waving eerily, like feelers, before them".

It is a startling image. But then he delivers a double whammy.

"I thought of ... all of us," the verse dedication continues, "alive to those of others, Faced with the headlong traffic of history, And bound to learn the knack of moving together If ever we hope to cross that road alive ..."

They are the words of a poet in his prime and of his time, in command of his medium, speaking to all of us. -more-

Friday, February 6, 2004

Huston Smith points his fingers at the moon
Religion scholar argues the West needs to revive a sense of transcendence

Huston Smith is firmly convinced that religion matters, that the wisdom of our spiritual traditions provides the essential map and compass that will enable us to navigate safely though the shoals and reefs lurking in the waters of this new century. Religion’s preeminent regard for transcendence provides essential nutrients for the human spirit and the human enterprise. -more-

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Elements of Japanese style in the garden.

Snow, in the Japanese floral calendar, is the first flower of the year.

It collects in the upturned needles of pines - often pruned in a Japanese garden to hold snow most beautifully and efficiently.

Snow also covers the ground where, later on, plums drop their blossoms.

And snow fills the smoothed surfaces of empty stone basins, where spent blooms from nearby perennials float in midsummer.

"That's the way that Japanese gardeners and people who follow the calendar in Japan divide the seasons," says Scott McCracken, senior horticulturist at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Japanese Garden. -more-

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Kerouac's work lives on through modern readers.

Picture, if you will, a smiling, bearded man walking the streets of Eugene in the heat of a clear, red summer day. This man wears nothing but sandals, a stark white flowing galabia (this is a loose Egyptian garment) and a blue baseball cap with the word "Kerouac" emblazoned on it. He holds a copy of Jack Kerouac's "Book of Blues" in his left hand and takes long strides as he walks.
I write this because, for the first time, Kerouac and I connect in the dead of winter. I just finished reading his novel "Big Sur", which contains a poem called "Sea." Much like the sea itself, reading the poem was refreshing. It leads me to wonder how he was able to write these books while constantly inebriated with alcohol. Note that this is not a judgment of the author, who has long since passed from this temporal world but who is most certainly still somewhere out there, riding on the constant waves of birth and death.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Where are the snows of yesteryear? Look outside!

There's a stillness, a certain spirituality to snow days. I have always thought a good snowfall was God's way of telling us to slow down.

The only sounds I heard were the neighbors shoveling their walks and the spinning of tires trying to make it up the 30th Street hill. The steady hum of the city had all but evaporated in the night.

The house was darker, too, more snug, the skylight at the top of the stairs covered with snow. As much as I love the sound of rain on the roof, I find the silence of snow far more profound. -more-

~ ~ ~

Steve Young. “I grew up in Georgia, Alabama and Texas. The foothills of the Appalachia are very poor areas. That’s my inspiration. As for writing music, it’s intuitive, a spiritual experience, like a spirit whispering in my ear,” was the response from veteran musician Steve Young, with a warm smile. -more-

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Tuesday, February 3, 2004

ZEN SAND: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice, by Victor Sogen Hori. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003, 764 pp., $37.00 (cloth). offers more than 4,000 jakugo or "capping phrases" -- given in kanji, in romaji and in English -- for Rinzai Zen koan practice, and includes all references as well as a full glossary and a complete bibliography.

These phrases, found in Chinese and, later, Japanese classics, serve to express what Zen cannot. They suggest in words an essence of the koan experience, one which in itself so famously defies language.
"The fixed response to a koan resembles the fixed patterns of movements in the martial arts called kata. One practices them again and again until they become movements of power, executed precisely and without deliberation." -more-

Monday, February 2, 2004

Tango traces its roots to the loneliness and longing of mostly male settlers in Argentina nearly 100 years ago.
“Women, when you sense danger, you move to him,” she explains, demonstrating a step where the woman leans at a precarious angle against her partner while he dances around her. “Hold him, so if you’re going to fall you take him down with you.”
“In a way, tango is like a passport. You can talk to people in every culture, and you can connect even if you don’t speak their language,” Chen said.

Despite its risque roots, tango provides a model for a healthy relationship between a man and woman or a husband and wife, she said.

“My couples’ dynamics show so much in their dancing lessons,” she said. “I can see taking a tango class as almost a marriage therapy.

“It requires you to be attentive to the person in front of you. It makes you be present with each other. So much of our lives we can be vacant, even with the ones we love. -more-

~ ~ ~

Learning to see life through the eyes of a poet. Through an odd collision of genetics, somehow my husband, an extremely logical attorney, and I, a relatively pragmatic physician, have a son with the soul of a poet.

From a very early age, a sublime smile playing on his lips, he would tilt his head and stare, as if enticed by something beyond his vision. As soon as he could talk, he would say things like, "Mama, please wear that sweater again. It makes your eyes and hair shine."
Though my scientific training has taught me to approach people and situations in a stepwise, systematic fashion, my years of experience are teaching me what he already knows -- that past the glare of the obvious, the subtle glow of what lies beneath is often much more amazing.

I was a first year medical student when I first realized that outward appearances occasionally belie the truth. Late for my medical interviewing class, I was assigned the patient no one else wanted -- the homeless man muttering at the end of the hall. I walked toward his room and was taken aback by his matted hair, filthy face and darting eyes. -more-

~ ~ ~

Gentle plant worker took life as it came. Bill Bowers advised, "Just be." He died Friday after a valve exploded Thursday at Progress Energy Florida's Crystal River complex.

Bowers had a nice and quiet way about him, Foley said. Gentle, generous and caring. He liked nature and Native American spirituality.

At home, Bowers was relaxed and laid back. He didn't have to be constantly achieving or on the run. "He very much took life as it came," Foley said.

She was the hurried one, the one with too much on her plate. Bowers tried to help Foley understand that she didn't have to be busy all the time. Once he said to her, "Just be. It's been what you've been looking for all your life." -more-

Saturday, January 31, 2004

The Wisdom of Solitude. Twenty years ago this month, as a 25-year-old student of Zen Buddhism, (Joan) Dobisz -- today a teacher and financial planner from Waltham -- began a solitary, 100-day retreat in a cabin in the woods of Western Massachusetts. In a regimen so disciplined it would have been military but for her pacific intent, Dobisz awoke every morning at 3:15 and immediately did 300 bows, and did 700 more at various points throughout the day. Existing largely on rice and beans, she passed the weeks bowing, walking, sitting, chanting, and doing chores.
"The whole idea of being alone had always intrigued me," Dobisz recounts in her slim new memoir, "The Wisdom of Solitude" (HarperSanFrancisco). "Who would I find there, underneath all the layers of social conditioning, obligations, rules, and cultural filters?" -more-

~ ~ ~

Wootten said he thinks the movie (Cold Mountain) will expose more people to Sacred Harp.
It gets its name from "The Sacred Harp," an oblong songbook published in 1844 by B.F. White and E.J. King. The pair lived in western Georgia, though the book was printed in Philadelphia.

Despite the name, no harps or other musical instruments are used in Sacred Harp singing. It's all done a cappella.

The title is symbolic, probably because harps are mentioned frequently in the Psalms and are associated with King David. Others consider the "sacred harp" the human voice itself. -more-

~ ~ ~

Being afraid of being yourself. The culture tells us: "You're nothing – unless the plaque on your desk says 'Vice President.' You're nothing, unless you jump into bed with this rich and powerful guy. You're nothing, unless people will pay to buy a magazine that has your naked photos in it."
Of all the fears that currently plague our lives – from the fear of terror and death, to aging and illness, to professional setbacks and public humiliation, perhaps none is more tragic that the simple fear of being yourself. Wow – just take a moment to think about that and to fully grasp how serious that is: You're afraid just to be. -more-

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The Big Buddha of Lantau Island is one of Hong Kong's main attractions. At 26.4m high, it is the world's largest seated bronze Buddha. Superlatives aside, the perfect proportions of the Buddha exude a powerful spiritual pull on devottees and tourists alike. -more-

Friday, January 30, 2004

Book review: "Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible."Jeff Sharlet and Peter Manseau, editors. Manseau and Sharlet set out on a quest for nothing less than the One, and they were not afraid to look in strange places for it. They seem drawn to the big dreams of small people, like the one-eyed rodeo preacher they feature in one of their travel vignettes. They see stories everywhere and nowhere, managing somehow to maintain both healthy skepticism and rare hopefulness.
These essays, which sojourn from Genesis to Revelation, are not straightforward narratives of the Bible or even moving reflections on the stories' themes. The books of the Bible need not be retold here with their original characters, times, and places. Rather, they recur today, in the Mexican political climate of Bowden's Isaiah; the mourning of le thi diem thuy, through Ruth, for her Vietnamese mother; and the Greek Revelation of Haven Kimmel's last word. -more-

~ ~ ~

Bill Porter, translator of Chinese poetry under the pen name Red Pine, in front of bamboo in the back yard of his Port Townsend home.

PORT TOWNSEND — "I like to find my own way," Porter said.

With this outlook in mind, and under the pen name Red Pine, Porter has become one of the foremost Chinese poetry and essay translators in the world.

He has captivated lovers of Chinese poetry, in particular, with his precise yet accessible translations of ancient texts written centuries ago by wanderers, exiles and monks. More than translations, Porter's books evoke a way of life that he has experienced firsthand as a Buddhist monk and recluse in Taiwan. -more- -a little more-

~ ~ ~

Ram Dass and Grace. "(I'm) an uncle to the Baby Boomers, teaching them about illness and aging," he said. "Not to be frightened of aging. That it's OK."
"I did not care for my body," he said. "I cared for my psychology and my soul, but I never cared for my body.
"The stroke was grace," he said. "In the sense of a gift that would elevate my soul to one. To the One. It is the way you look at it. I realized there were two major things in my life. One was the stroke and one was the grace of my guru, and I had been existing on that for many years. These were the two facets of my consciousness. And I had to find a way to bring them together."

He found unison by sharing with others his experiences on aging and illness and threading them with spiritual insight.

"All illnesses are part of the passing show," he said. "You are not just your body. You are the witness of your body. And you're actually both. When I had the stroke, there was pain, severe pain in my shoulders. And I went through the pain to witness it. I became the
witness, rather than the person with the pain. -more-

~ ~ ~

The secrets of champagne aging. The small lifestyle choices you make today — when you are still in your thirties and forties — can transform how you live tomorrow. Scientists say that by your own actions, you could add another healthy decade to your life.

This means aging is a personal choice. This means that a little change here, a little change there — and you can design yourself a long and fulfilling life. The aim isn’t to stubbornly survive to 90. It’s to be around to see your great great great grandson — and perhaps play some golf with him.

So pour yourself a drink, sit back and learn the secret to champagne aging. It lies in surprisingly low-tech stuff like diet, exercise and attitude. -more-

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Maine publisher finds niche in spiritual growth

Jon Sweeney is editor in chief of a unique Vermont upstart that´s finding religion has not only relevance, but also rewards.

Anywhere from North America to New Zealand you´ll find one of the 4-year-old publisher´s 75 titles, ranging from "The Art of Public Prayer" to "Zohar: Annotated & Explained," a guide to the major text of the Jewish mystical tradition.

"How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook" answers 432 pages of questions - What do I do? What do I wear? What do I say? When is it OK to leave? - for almost 40 faiths ranging from Baptist to Buddhist, Amish to Native American." -more-

~ ~ ~

100 years of Antarctic exploration caught on film inspired a critic's own adventure

More than any other journey I've taken, the voyage to Antarctica -- along the Patagonian coast of Argentina, over to the Falkland Islands and then the white-knuckle drop of the Drake Passage -- seems a complete physical and psychological break with the rest of humanity. You truly feel yourself falling off the bottom of the world.

Crossing 60° south (the latitude that officially designates Antarctica), the first of what will become an endless parade of dazzlingly sculpted, blue-tinged icebergs begin to pass, and you're suddenly engulfed by a nature that is more pure, powerful and savagely inhospitable than anything you might have imagined. -more- -also see Antarctica-

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Parrot's oratory stuns scientists. The finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short. The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour.

He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do.

N'kisi's remarkable abilities, which are said to include telepathy, feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine. -

~ ~ ~


Ordinary, everyday places -- beauty parlors, churches, mom-and-pop restaurants -- are frequent photographic subjects for Deborah Willis, 54, a curator and professor of photography and imaging at New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.

"There's this whole sense of a spiritual space where people can relax, feel comfortable about themselves, meditate and just take care of themselves emotionally, mentally and physically," she says.

Willis perceives beauty parlors and churches as central to all communities. Such thoughts might have originated from her childhood: Her mother was a hairdresser, and every Saturday Willis witnessed the ritual of women being "transformed" for church the next day.

Like Graham, she believes that photographs can tell the story of a community.

Willis recalls she came to Eatonville looking for "the Zora experience from the '30s." Instead of a quaint Southern town where people sat and gossiped on their porches, however, Willis found an Eatonville very much of the present.

In preparation for her visit, she also had researched the history of beauty parlors and discovered they played a significant role for both women in general and African-Americans in particular.

In the 1930s, beauticians were the most employed women in the country, often breadwinners of the family, and often employing others. Later, during the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, literacy classes were held in beauty parlors: "They were subversive spaces where people could learn how to read and prepare for citizenship classes, for voter registration," she recounts.

And that's something to think about the next time you go for a cut and blow-dry. -www. orlandosentinel. com/entertainment/orl-zoranealehurston-012304,0,4950017.story?coll=orl-caltop">link no longer working-

~ ~ ~

German Cedric Parkin becomes Om, a spiritual guru of the advaita stream
"Indian philosophy?" asks Cedric Parkin a.k.a Om , a German spiritual guru of the advaita stream. "I'd say its more like world philosophy, applicable to all of us." Adding that the West is becoming more spiritual, turning to Eastern philosophies, particularly the Indian and the Japanese Zen. "But it's very gradual. The response in Europe is more than in America . Mostly, the people who come are 50 years old." -more-

~ ~ ~

Monday, January 26, 2004

Baba Amte and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama . Two kindred spirits, who recently met, after a gap of 14 years, at Anandwan in Maharashtra . One has dedicated his life to the upliftment of the marginalised sections of society. The other is the head of state in exile and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. A world in perfect accord is their mission.
As the conversation progressed and meandered into more serious topics, Baba Amte made a quiet observation, "In the second part of this century, people will eschew violence and hence the ideals of Gandhiji and the Dalai Lama will be more relevant than they are today."
Dalai Lama: Humanity is facing a lot of problems due to religion...

Baba Amte: There is only one religion now – creative humanity.

DL: If you look at it more critically, why did God create this problem? If there is any God, then He should not create any problem.

BA: That's why He is afraid to look back. He has created people like you and me, who have created a mess in the world.

DL: Therefore, what is the source of God?

BA: Love is God… unlimited, infinite.

DL: I agree.

~ ~ ~

Seeking simplicity in a land of excess. I realize the entire U.S. economy is based on people buying things they don't need with money they don't have, and I try to do my part.

As I spoke to Gorney, a 79-year-old UCLA professor, I realized I was wearing brand-new corduroys and brand-new shoes, neither of which I desperately needed.

Gorney said biological factors and the incessant marketing barrage have conspired to make us feel as if we've never got enough stuff, even in this land of wretched excess.

For the first time in history, Gorney said, the world has as many obese people as starving people, and no country is as fat as the U.S. of A.

He's convinced that an epidemic of over-consumption is wrecking our lives, destroying the planet, and further tilting the balance of wealth and power, raising the risk of war. -more-

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Lure Of Spiritual Ventures

Whether it is yoga, transcendental meditation, vipassana, satsangs or karmic discourses, corporate India undertakes spiritual journey for gainful ends

With the renaissance of the soul, intelligence and emotional quotients are passe. It’s the spiritual quotient that is the new corporate mantra. In the era of zeitgeist, India Inc is increasingly turning to ancient wisdom, practices and percepts. Whether it’s the CEO or the first rung executive, everyone is willing to engage in yoga, transcendental mediation, vipassana, visiting satsangs and listening to karmic discourses. -

~ ~ ~

Leadership qualities. Demand accountability and get your people to commit to the results. Build momentum. Keep looking for what is missing or what has dropped out of your strategy. Make a diagnosis. Assess strengths and weaknesses. Find the right people. Build on their strengths. Pair people in a mentoring relationship. Constantly review your strategy. Don't be caught up in daily events; focus on executing the plan.

Isiah Thomas has understood this both as a player and as an executive. It is as relevant to sports as it is to business — and to the business of life.
My mantra for chief executives and financial team leaders is the same one I see Thomas communicating brilliantly: teach your people to stretch, to perform past their limiting beliefs, to play over their heads. In the process, you are creating almost a satori-like state of "no mind," an intense focus. At this level, you not only win, you also experience a profound joy. -more-

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Family takes spiritual journey. STONY POINT — Last April, Syed Yasin and his wife, Fozia Mujahid, took their three children on an 18-day, 7,500-mile cross-country road trip that included stops in New Orleans and Las Vegas.

A week ago, the Muslim family from Stony Point embarked on a journey of a wholly different sort.

They traveled to Saudi Arabia to take part, for the first time, in hajj, or the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. They are among thousands of American Muslims as well as an estimated 2 million Muslims from 70 countries who will pray and perform spiritual activities in the coming days.

"This is something we've been thinking about doing for a long time," Yasin, 40, said a few days before the family left Rockland. "Thank God we are able to do it." -more-

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www. (link no longer working)Sufism relies on circles of prayer. Wedged between a tavern and a restaurant in Manhattan, the Masjid al-Farah, or Mosque of Divine Ease, houses the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Tariqat -- the Light of Love -- a Sufi order of whirling dervishes that traces its roots to Istanbul, Turkey.

Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam that believes the path of love leads to realization of God, is attracting a growing number of followers from all sections of American society, experts say.

"People are dissatisfied with the materialism of the Western culture. They are looking for a sense of balance and wholeness," says Omid Safi, professor of religious studies at Colgate University. Sufism is providing that balance, he says.

Sheikha Fariha al-Jerrahi, the 54-year-old spiritual guide of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi order, concurs.

"Earlier Sufism was isolated. Now it's a tidal wave. Youngsters are awakening with a Sufi heart," says Fariha, describing a Sufi heart as one that is global and spiritually receptive.

~ ~ ~

Movie review: The Butterfly Effect. The butterfly effect is an old adage: "a butterfly flapping its wings in North Africa can cause a typhoon half a world away". This is the core of chaos and fractal theory. Its underlying thrust lies in the belief that there is a causal connection between all physical elements in the universe. But while this "time" film begins with that statement, The Butterfly Effect focuses more on transcending these theories and attempting to introduce how specific moments can impact a person’s life. Rather than dealing with the concepts of chaos, it plays more in a spiritual/psychological vein espoused by many psychotherapeutic traditions. An adult may locate an event in his/her past where, as a vulnerable child, he or she created a protective armour, which later limits the adult. It’s along this path of reasoning that our hero, Evan (Ashton Kutcher), is attempting to find peace.

The Butterfly Effect follows in the recent tradition of time-shift films including Groundhog Day, Sliding Doors and Run Lola Run, which toy with the concept of time and the role of cause-and-effect, and create parallel dimensions to great cinematic effect. -more-

~ ~ ~

Friday, January 23, 2004

King of kirtan Krishna Das speaks frankly about success, self-acceptance, and the power of just showing up. (Shri Neem Karoli Baba) never encouraged using that kind of willfulness. It had to be a natural magnetic attraction. You have to be doing things because you want to do them. Not because you think they are good for you. You are falling in love with who you really are. You are falling in love with what lives within you. And when we were with Maharaj-ji that way, he ravished you with his beauty. You could not take your eyes off him!

There's no difference now. When I sing with a thousand people, it's no different than singing for him, alone in a room and singing for him. It's that presence that I'm singing to and entering into, not his personality presence, but the presence of that love, that compassion, that sweetness. -more-

~ ~ ~

"Denying marriage to lesbian and gay people doesn't defend marriage, it diminishes it," says Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon, Senior Pastor of MCC San Francisco.

"In our church, God calls us to honor as sacred the marriages of lesbian and gay people," she says. "Justice demands that the state recognize our families through civil marriage, and the President must serve all Americans by serving the cause of justice."

Nixon believes that, "a religious voice should not stand in the way of civil rights, but rather, in the great tradition of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., call society to the greater good of equality and justice." -more-

~ ~ ~

The marriage of poetry and cinema is a solid one, ranging from popular films such as Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society to cult arthouse films like Before Night Falls. It embraces some surprising genres, including murder thrillers: in David Fincher's Se7en, the serial killer is highly literate and quotes from Chaucer and William Blake.

At first, the pairing of film and poetry may seem an unlikely combination: cinema, the mass-market medium, and poetry, a more rarefied literary form with a small audience, appear to have little in common. But film has embraced not only poetry, but the lives of real poets, as its subject - think of Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Dorothy Parker in Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle, William Burroughs in Naked Lunch and Breaker Morant in the film of the same name. -more-

~ ~ ~

This year, it's the monkey's turn The Chinese Lunar New Year starts. The two-week long celebration begins with the new moon and ends with the full moon.

(Jan. 22) is the first day in the Year of the Monkey, so break out the firecrackers and try not to cry, speak of death or eat too little.

"It's a very big event. No matter how poor you are, you prepare a big dinner because if you don't eat well that night, they say you will not eat well all year," said Dajin Peng, a USF international studies professor from China. -more-

~ ~ ~

Bishop warns of 'fat kids with thin souls'. The Bishop of St Albans has warned that Britain's consumer culture could produce "a nation of fat and greedy children with thin and starving souls". Speaking in a House of Lords debate the bishop, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, said "his heart sank" when he learnt how much advertising was directed at children and how much of it promoted foods higher in sugar, salt and fat. He asked why parents in Britain did not have the moral courage to protect children from exploitative and commercial pressure. -more-

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Oxen and Machines, Evoked With Austerity. World music, machines and Minimalism shared a cozy affinity in the concert by Hamza El Din and Joan Jeanrenaud on Sunday night at the Skirball Center at New York University. It was a night of meditative music that found beauty in austerity: quiet drones and restrained melodic soliloquies. ... The centerpiece of the concert was their duet on "Escalay: The Water Wheel," a piece Mr. El Din wrote in 1971 and originally recorded as part of the Nonesuch Explorer series. It's a musical portrait of a machine, an irrigation device with gears turned by oxen, whose pace, Mr. El Din explained onstage, tends to hypnotize their driver. -more-

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Rumi's Life to be Put on Film . Konya, TURKEY, January 15, 2004 - The life of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the great Islamic thinker and Sufi, is to be put on film. Assoc.
Prof. Dr. Saban Calis is preparing to make a movie out of Rumi's life with the help of a group of faculty members, who have studied Rumi.

The faculty members, who would like to spread Rumi's philosophy and tolerance throughout the world, agree that the cinema is the best method.

Saban Calis started screenplay preparations one and a half years ago. With the support of academic experts on Rumi, Calis has developed a broad base by reading all of the studies one by one. After writing the story, Calis began to write the screenplay, but then realized that he would not cope with a small group and limited resources. Calis states that he made offers to many directors, whom he did not name, but said he was primarily interested in Mustafa Akad who directed The Message. Saying he first contacted Akad by phone, Calis said meetings still continue and he expects a positive response. Calis summarized the goal of the film project this way: 'to contribute to world peace and induce
tolerance between people by introducing Mevlana in the international arena at its best.'

Mehmet Kuru, Ekrem Aytas / Konya / TURKEY -this has been the entire article, from www. (link no longer working)

~ ~ ~

You could call him Hollywood's ambassador to Bollywood or vice versa.

For London-born Sheeraz Hasan, who now runs a talk show on Hollywood stars in the US, considers it his religious mission to make the two cinema worlds meet.

On his talk show TinseltownTV broadcast from Los Angeles, he has interviewed the likes of Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez as well as Steven Spielberg.


Interestingly, he never fails to bring in the topic of spirituality with the stars on his show.

"I have interviewed over 600 celebrities and every one of them believes in god, they all do things to stay spiritually grounded. And in Hollywood, there are at least 20 charity events a week to raise charity money," Hasan counters. -more-

~ ~ ~

In word and deed Baltimore poet/biographer Daniel Mark Epstein paints a compelling portrait of Lincoln and Whitman as contemporaries, as visionaries and as Americans.

Some poets are so finely attuned to their surroundings that their writing can border on prophecy. A striking example of this occurred in 1857, when Walt Whitman, pondering the future of the nation he loved, conjured the image of the "Redeemer President of These States."

In a political tract called The Eighteenth Presidency!, Whitman yearned for a new kind of leader. He'd be pleased, he wrote, to see "some heroic, shrewd, fully-informed, healthy-bodied, middle-aged, beard-faced American blacksmith or boatman come down from the West ... and walk into the Presidency, dressed in a clean suit of working attire, and with the tan all over his face, breast and arms." He called for that president to come "out of the real West, the log hut, the clearing, the woods, the prairie, the hillside."

As he wrote those words, Whitman knew almost nothing of Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer and local politician in Springfield, Ill. The poet had summoned an Honest Abe from his own unconscious before the American public knew it would need one.

That passage was an early sign of a spiritual kinship between Whitman and Lincoln that has fascinated scholars for years. www.,0,4062117.story?coll=bal-features-headlines (link no longer working)

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'Off the Map' and into the woods, By Jayne Blanchard. Pity you can't wear pajamas and bunny slippers into the Round House Theatre Silver Spring. Storyteller Jon Spelman is such a compelling (and relaxing) painter of word pictures that you have to fight the urge
to curl up at his feet with a blankie and beg for another tale. He's not a sleep-inducer — far from it — but there is something infinitely soothing and diverting about Mr. Spelman's new work, "Off the Map," that puts you in an amiable reverie. His quiet insights about rediscovering nature and taking the road less stressful are a balm for the ear and imagination. -

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Antarctica. Physical comfort was one of many sacrifices for "Antarctica," a 336-page, 27-pound limited-edition beauty that sells for $2,900. The book was more an obsession than a project for Keough and her husband, Pat, who put up hundreds of thousands of their own dollars, traveled tens of thousands of miles and spent month after freezing month in the wilds, most of the time with their then-7-year-old son in tow. With the photography done, they scoured the world for the materials and artisans to create the book they envisioned.

The cover leather comes from goats raised in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was tanned in Scotland using ancient methods. The velvet for the flyleaf is French. The paper was specially milled in Wisconsin. The binding proved the biggest challenge. Pat Keough had an idea for combining two traditional binding styles to create something strong and beautiful, a technique that would require artisans to try something new and extremely difficult. Eventually a Canadian firm accepted the challenge of hand-binding the press run of 950 books; 268 have sold so far to Antarctica enthusiasts and fine book collectors. -more-

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Interview with Jennifer Daydreamer, comic book artist. Probably Joseph Campbell has had a greater influence on my work. In some regards, he is a filtered version of Jung, since Campbell was so inspired by Jung. I think the study of symbols, meditating on picture symbols, and the exploration of my inner self, has the most significant influence on my story-telling. What Jung and Campbell have to offer the artist, is information. You take what you can from these guys, and then create your own myth, your own interpretations of 'how things work'. -more-

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Self in the city. Some say that urban environments are not worth savouring - only the wilderness matters. Michael Leunig begs to differ.

The entire theme of the built environment, with all its wondrous and dazzling aspects, is almost too impossibly ugly and complex for the mere human to face. The subject seems too vast, too graffitied, too buried under concrete, lava and history; too lost in trauma, too bombed and bulldozed, earthquaked and reconstructed.

The built environment now tumbles through space, burrows beneath seas; overshadows all innocence: a vast machine tangled in freeways hurtling brutally and brilliantly onward to whatever with us trapped inside like tourists, like hostages.

Yet in its midst some humans fall in love and court each other with innocent hope. They compose music and paint. They prepare beautiful food. They read Hesse and see the great brown molecular cloud of poison which has been built over the city (pollutants are constructions, too). -more-

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City Scientists Say Red-Sea Miracle Can Be Explained. Two Russian mathematicians have attempted to explain the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, which according to the Old Testament and the Torah allowed the Jews to escape slavery in Egypt.

He said the Red Sea might have parted under special conditions, which their study has discovered.

The study focuses on a reef that runs from the well-documented starting point of the Jews to the north side of the Sea. In Biblical times the reef was much closer to the surface, Volzinger said Monday in a telephone interview.

The study took almost six months to complete and was a purely mathematical task, he said. -

Monday, January 19, 2004

Internet Flash Movie, at, Recalls King’s Warnings Against the Ravages of War. A day after citizens opposed to the U.S. occupation of Iraq booed President Bush when laid a wreath at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., prominent peace groups launched an inspiring internet flash movie that reveals just how out-of-sync the White House is with Dr. King’s message of peace and love. -more-

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Butterfly House in New Zealand. Many of the delicate creatures are imported from Asia and South and Central America. Others are bred onsite. Maintaining the butterfly population is one of the most difficult parts of the business, especially since some species only live six days. Most will not survive more than a few months. -more-

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Robert Irwin projects his own passions onto Europe's greatest Muslim monument in his history of the Alhambra. The proportions of the courtyards of the Alhambra are all based on rectangles generated by irrational numbers such as the square roots of two, three, five and seven. Irwin believes the builders of these palaces were inspired by the Brethren of Purity, an intellectual brotherhood based in Basra in the tenth or eleventh century, who celebrated the purity of certain numbers; four and seven, the perfect numbers, were of particular significance to them.

This mathematical spirituality found its full expression in music, which suggested the blissful world of the music of the heavenly spheres above. The lute or oud, with its four strings, expressed an essential truth about the structure and the perfection of God's universe.

Irwin is unashamed about his distaste for fellow visitors to the Alhambra. 'It is strange that the building should give so much pleasure to today's profane hordes of infidel visitors for whom it was emphatically not built.' -more-

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Storyteller reflects on Lewis and Clark expedition. "Power comes from the heart - not from here," said Curly Bear Wagner, gesturing to his head. "You're head will run away from you, but your heart is always with you." ... "We want to get rid of the stereotype about First Nations people," said Wagner. "We were very educated, and with our arts, culture, history and tribal government, we were very civilized nations." -more-

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Inner engineering for effortless living. Love, or bhakti, looks like a much easier path. It is, but there are more pitfalls on that path than in gnana. With gnana you know where you are going, you know if you fall. In bhakti, you don’t know.

Even if you’re trapped by your own illusions, you will not come to know about it easily. In gnana, every step that you take, you know. I can’t say it is a hard path, but it’s the path of the courageous, not of the weak.

The way we think is the way we become. Whatever you hold as the highest, naturally all your energies get drawn towards that. Once you achieve that, once inner engineering equips you to live life effortlessly, it will put an end to all your daily struggles. -more-

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Dr. Kings's dream: freedom, not space travel. Dr. King summed up his dream in the unforgettable image of black and white children joining hands to proclaim the essential American ideal -- freedom -- in the words of an old "Negro" spiritual: "Thank God Almighty, we are free at last." If you whites want to be what you claim to be, he said, you'll have to hold blacks' hands and use words that blacks invented. That is pure genius. As a master of symbolism, he was second to none.

But Dr. King was also a very practical political leader. He had his own thoughts about space travel. "If our nation can spend 35 billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and 20 billion dollars a year to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God's children on their own two feet right here on earth." -more-

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Home altars. Peter Kowalzik, whose online business, Sacred Source, sells devotional items, said he has had a steady increase in interest in home altars, and the Web site features photos of dozens of altars that customers have set up.

The store carries more than 500 "multicultural Goddess statues and sacred images," according to the Web site, and is organized by religion, with a menu that includes links to "Gnostic," "Norse" and "Wiccan and Pagan," among other categories.

Nancy Brady Cunningham, author of "A Book of Women's Altars," gives lectures and consultations on the subject. Cunningham said the impulse to create an altar is not so different from a sports fan's desire to arrange posters and memorabilia of a favorite player or team in a certain way, or an office worker's need to put an inspiring photo and flowers in her cubicle. -more- -Sacred Source-

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Rabbinical students' trip to El Salvador. For Anne Brenner, who is studying for the rabbinate at the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, the week in El Salvador was "such an inspiring and amazing experience" — an integration, she said, of spirituality, environmental concerns, learning through service and physical labor for others.

"It felt very seamless," Ms. Brenner said, "the prayer and the work." She recalled the phrase that Rabbi Abraham Heschel used at the time of the civil rights march in Selma, Ala.: "I felt my feet were praying."

The cultural encounters on this trip were not only between hard-pressed survivors of Central American war and poverty and young men and women studying to become Jewish leaders in the United States. The students came from all four branches of contemporary Judaism — Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist — branches that can sometimes seem as far apart as New York and Ciudad Romero. -more-

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Crane's Bill Books. Rather than give his bookstore his own name ("I needed something a little snappier"), Lee chose a name he said is embedded in a 13th-century Japanese poem by Dogen, a Zen master. Here is the poem:
The world? Moonlit
    Drops shaken
    From the crane's bill


Friday, January 16, 2004

Book review: Teaching Places, by Audrey Whitson. ....there's also another strand of Catholicism, not so much written about. It's the pilgrimage tradition, the spirituality found at holy wells and ancient shrines. It's what is often dismissively called "popular religiosity." It is a spirituality of place. It's an informal tradition; but one that the majority of women and men have observed and kept for centuries, even before Christianity. The book from which Audrey read - the one I now review - reflects that Catholic pilgrimage tradition. It describes a journey that can be taken right here in Alberta. The varied locations of this pilgrimage are the five distinct areas of Alberta topography (Canadian Shield, mountains, prairies, boreal forest and parkland). -more-

George Orwell died 54 years ago this January, in a hospital bed in central London, of the tuberculosis that had afflicted much of his adult life, yet his legacy is everywhere around us. Like Chales Dickens, perhaps the writer who comes closest to him in long-term impact, several of his more resonant utterances are used on an almost daily basis by people who have never read a line of his books. Like Dickens, too, people mysteriously know about Orwell at second hand: that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others; that Big Brother is watching you; that Room 101 is where you go to be confronted by your worst fears. No other 20th century British writer has influenced the mental lives of ordinary citizens in quite the same way; equally, no other 20th-century British writer has so dramatically colonised the view that we take of the 21st century world. -more-

How to take a sauna

1. Allow plenty of time; nothing spoils a sauna more than the knowledge that one must hurry.

2. In the sauna, there must be no bustle. All movements should be deliberate and leisurely.

3. One should sit or lie quietly. Too much talking on the platform is not good. Singing and whistling are violations of the holiness of the sauna.

4. Wear as little as possible, preferably nothing. -

7 million funny words. George Carlin has been in show business for 47 of his 66 years, entertaining and challenging people's values with his existential and often ribald brand of comedy. As such, he has been a foremost observer of mankind's march - or more frequently crawl - toward a better understanding of itself. And at this juncture, he proclaims, we are stick-a-fork-in-it kaput. ... His third book (is) called "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" ... "I think of (the American experience) as a freak show. I say this: If you're born in America, it means you've been given a ticket to the freak show. -more-

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Smile, do away with serious appearance. Pune, January 14: Calling upon industry captains to substitute their serious appearance with a smile, founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said Indian businessmen needed to build up on their confidence for better results. Addressing a packed hall full of industry head honchos, Sri Sri stated that Indian businessmen lacked negotiation and marketing skills. “Drop your inhibitions, it will improve communication skills,” he advised. Sri Sri was quick to add that meditation would give them self-confidence and self-esteem which would help them in the global market. -more-

Leonard Nimoy's 'Shekhina' Inspires a New Ballet, By JOSEPH CARMAN. When
Leonard Nimoy's book of photography, "Shekhina," was published in 2002, it created a ruckus. His depiction of alluringly glamorous women — some wearing tefillin in all their naked glory — as the essence of the feminine manifestation of God struck some as revolutionary and others as salacious. The book sold well, and even inspired a ballet by a New York choreographer. Shekhina, presented by Elisa Monte Dance, will premiere at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan on February 10, running through February 15. ... Nimoy's first encounter with the mystique of Shekhina began in synagogue at the age of 8. "The men were chanting, shouting and praying in an Orthodox service. It was very passionate, very theatrical," said Nimoy. His father told him not to look, as the worshippers averted their eyes during blessings recited by the kohanim, or descendants of the priestly class. "I was chilled by the whole thing," he said. -

'Intensely, Miserably Spiritual' Novelist David Guterson talks about
his spirituality, his novel and the Mother of God in the West
. Interview by Anne A. Simpkinson. David Guterson, author of the 1994 bestseller, "Snow Falling on Cedars," declares himself an agnostic, but a spiritual amalgam seems closer to the truth. Raised more culturally than religiously Jewish, the 47-year old former English teacher has studied Buddhism, and, while researching his just published third novel, "Our Lady of the Forest"--about a runaway teen who has a vision of the Virgin Mary--stumbled upon Gnostic ideas of the Divine Feminine. To misappropriate a Beatles oldie: "She's really got a hold on him." "Our Lady of the Forest," tackles themes of suffering, transformation, and miracles, and in an interview with Anne Simpkinson he showed how deeply immersed—intellectually and personally--he is in spiritual matters, and how enamored of the Divine Feminine he is. -more-

www. (link no longer working)'On The Road' hits the road. Like the trip that inspired it, the first draft of author Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" is a wandering narrative, told in a continuous block of text. Yellowed with age, smudged with editing marks and the author's own ink-covered fingerprints, the scroll rolls over nearly 120 feet of paper. It is a relic of a literary phenomenon. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay bought the scroll two years ago for $2.43 million. Now that it has been displayed in Indianapolis, Irsay plans to send what may be the Beat Generation's quintessential text back to the road where it came from. Beginning this week at the Orange County History Center in Orlando, Fla., and ending with a three-month stay at the New York Public Library in 2007, Kerouac's "On the Road" scroll will make a 13-stop, four-year national tour of museums and libraries.

Memorial to victims of 9/11. Unlike the other finalists in the competition, the design does not impose superfluous forms onto the site. Rather, it uncovers the depth of feeling that has come to be associated with the two empty squares once occupied by the towers. Only God creates, George Balanchine used to say; the artist reveals. Reflecting Absence has the potential to be art in this sense. ... Reflecting Absence puts us in mind of societies where birth and death were understood to be two aspects of life. That is its signal virtue. Though it outlines the specifics of a contemporary tragedy, the design draws deeply upon historical memory. -more-

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Instructions to Everything, by Gabriel Kuris.
9. Just say “No!” If you speak Spanish, say “¡No!”
10. Take a deep breath. Think about slowly moving clouds that are white, like wedding dresses and Deborah’s legs in the rain. Don’t worry about shark attacks, terror attacks, or the inheritance tax.
11. Do not stare directly at the sun. Do not exceed the recommended dosage of anything, except Vitamin C and meaningful emotional contact. -

Japan Ceramic Society Awards: Connecting natural materials and daily function. There is a delightful Japanese expression about the beauty and mystery of a clay jar: ko-chu-ten (jar-in-heaven). It's a reference to finding "heaven within the emptiness of a jar," yet within this "emptiness" can be found boundless energy and the stuff of life itself. On a metaphysical plane it's possible to experience a profound epiphany within the clay walls -- defined by empty space -- of a cup, say, while sitting quietly for a few moments each day sipping tea and "communing" with the cup (comprising the life-giving elements of fire, water, earth and air) and yourself (spirit-consciousness); an inward exploration. -more-

Feats of Clay. My wife is a potter and this a montage of a typical day at her class. (3 minute movie.) By Richard Sheikh.

Kaii Higashiyama. There is a Japanese tale about an artist who put his heart and soul into painting fish. Finally, he captured their spirit so well that they swam off the silken scrolls and into the pond. And so it is with Kaii Higashiyama. To contemplate his mystical landscapes is to be there: to hear the sound of waves and feel the solitude of forests, deep in the mountains. ... Higashiyama's own enlightenment came in the last, desperate months of the second world war. A frail man, he was drafted into the army and trained to rush up to invading tanks as a human bomb. When the war ended, he recalled, "I stood on a lonely mountain blasted by winter and my eyes were opened to the connection between nature and self. I experienced an intense sense of fulfilment. My heart was filled with pure prayer." -more- -and more-

Jesus was a Scientist in the Greek Tradition. It is rather enlightening ... to consider the thinking of Jesus within a scientific context, because doing so provides an image, not of a man with good supernatural connections, but of a man of science, an enormously insightful man who did His thinking in essentially the same ways as other notable and brilliant thinkers of His day. There is no need to invoke supernatural influences in order to comprehend the origins and purposes of His thought. -more-

The Arctic's Inuit are being contaminated by pollution borne north by winds and concentrated as it travels up the food chain. And no imported food nourishes their bodies, warms their spirit and strengthens their hearts like the flesh they slice from the flanks of a whale or seal. "Our foods do more than nourish our bodies. They feed our souls," said the late Ingmar Egede, a Greenlandic educator who promoted the rights of indigenous peoples. "When many things in our lives are changing, our foods remain the same. They make us feel the same as they have for generations. "When I eat Inuit foods, I know who I am." -more-

Rastas mark birth of Jesus with simplicity. "I'd like to say happy Genna - an Ethiopian Christmas - that we are celebrating in an African way. There'll be no wasting of money and no immoral conducts because we celebrate in a churchical way," says Abuna Tekla Haimanot, which means High Priest - Roots of Spirituality.

The high priest and a group of kings and queens from Gauteng and other provinces are preparing for a church event set to start at midday.

While queens are ironing their black loose dresses and wrapping their heads with scarves, we chat to the the high priest on his throne.

This most handsome, intelligent and eloquent spiritual man sketches the background to the event - the Ethiopian Christmas celebrated by Rastafarians throughout the world.

"We (Rastafarians) believe God is black. We believe in the Ethiopian interpretation of the Bible. -

Monday, January 12, 2004

Spiritual alternatives in the practice of law. Five years ago, the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in Northampton began offering retreats for lawyers and judges interested in creating a more just and compassionate legal world. It now has more than 650 lawyer-members in the United States. ... In San Francisco, Peter Gabel, who with Harvard's Duncan Kennedy founded the critical legal studies movement in the 1960s, started the Institute for Spirituality and Politics for lawyers interested in bringing a spiritual perspective to social justice. ... When Sells lectures to bar groups around the country, he typically finds 25 percent of lawyers repelled by his notions of spirituality in the law, another 25 percent desperate for his message, and the middle group open to new ideas for improving the profession. -more-

Jimmy Ernst: Transcending the Surreal" - 2004-01-10 until 2004-04-04 - Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum - Malibu, CA, USA. Ernst was always interested in spirituality and drew inspiration from the lofty structure of Gothic cathedrals of his native Germany. His color is gentle but seductive and invites the viewer to dwell mentally in his imaginative compositions. A consummate craftsman, he painstakingly created each composition using dozens of layers of paint, which symbolize the depth of human consciousness. -more-

Sunday, January 11, 2004

To freeze an ice crystal in time. "It's the internal structure of the snowflakes that will just blow you away." ... "Northern Japan has some of the best snow I've ever seen," Libbrecht said. "Just gorgeous." -more-

On the eve of a festival celebrating the work of John Cage, king of experimental composers. "Every being is the Buddha," (Cage said), "just as for the anarchist every being is the ruler. My music liberates because I give people the chance to change their minds. I don't want to police them." The ultimate statement of Cage's non-policing school of composition was the infamous 4' 33", a work in three movements for "any instrument or combination of instruments" that is, in fact, four minutes 33 seconds of silence. -more-

Powers of Ten. Florida State University, Tallahassee, has put up a very interesting Java applet on their site. It begins as a view of the Milky Way Galaxy viewed from a distance of 10 million light years. It then zooms in towards Earth in powers of ten in distance. Ten million, to one million, to 100,000 light years and so on, until reaching an oak tree leaf on campus. It zooms into the leaf to the level of quarks, viewed at 100 attometers. Enjoy the trip... -more-

When the universe is expanding it can make you late for work, by Woody Allen. How could I not have known that there are little things the size of "Planck length" in the universe, which are a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimetre? Imagine if you dropped one in a dark theatre how hard it would be to find. -more-

Art as healer: Music, painting, poetry are shown to have therapeutic benefits. "The arts are a powerful force in people's lives," she says, "and they should be used to elevate and educate the soul." She cites two recent films as examples that achieve this goal: "The Pianist" (2002), about a Polish Jewish pianist who suffers tragedy during World War II, but survives with the help of a compassionate German officer; and "Master and Commander" (2003), an action epic centering on the relationship of a captain and surgeon aboard a British frigate during the Napoleonic Wars. The two men relax by playing classical duets, the captain on violin and the doctor on cello, as a reflection of their multi-sided education. -more-

Joan of Arcadia. I want to write a column singing the praises of television's most charming and thought-provoking show, CBS-TV's "Joan of Arcadia," airing at 7 p.m. Fridays. I want to suggest to viewers who haven't yet seen this show to give it a try. "Joan" somehow transcends the typical evils of so-called religious programming, and "Joan's" makers refuse to adhere to such a label. And I agree. ... Starring Amber Tamblyn, "Joan" is a drama that shadows a rather typical American family facing rather atypical situations, especially when 16-year-old Joan suddenly, unexpectedly converses with God -- who appears to her as a plumber, a teacher, a little girl and a lunch lady, among other entities. The show is based on this premise: If God once spoke to a teenager in 14th century France then what's to stop him from speaking to another teenager in 21st century America? -more-

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Changing careers: From the bank to the Rescue Mission. "Someone once said that we spend the first part of our lives trying to be successful and the second part of our lives trying to be significant," Meuli said. "That's where I was in my life. This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time - helping people like this." Helping people is now what Meuli does as a career. Instead of being vice president of a bank, Meuli is now president and chief executive officer of the Denver Rescue Mission. -more-

Partnering nature: Architect Jack Hillmer kept his wood raw and his spaces spare. Hillmer's homes mix a Zen-like simplicity with a baroque richness that comes not from ornamentation but from the beauty of the materials and the way the home interacts with the environment, framing dramatic views and filtering daylight. ... Hillmer never applied for an architecture license ("I didn't believe in controlling design"), never sought clients and sometimes rejected those who sought him. -more-

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wis. For the past 125 years, since 11 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1878, the sisters have been praying around the clock, in rotating shifts. The up-to-the-second Perpetual Adoration Clock at is ticking at more than 45,800 days. With at least two people always praying before the exposed blessed sacrament, it is the nation's longest uninterrupted prayer, the sisters believe. -more-

Photo Gallery: Sacred Journey. Native Americans entered the home stretch of the 9th annual Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run Friday near Busby. They began the 400-mile run at Fort Robinson, Neb., Jan. 5. The event marks the journey made 125 years ago by 130 Northern Cheyennes who broke out of captivity at the U.S Army fort, and their flight to their homeland. Nearly 100 were shot, starved or froze to death. Above, when the staff arrives in Busby, community members join hands as coordinator Phillip Whiteman Jr., center with black and gray coat leads a prayer. -Photo Gallery-

Rabbi Bears Witness to Destruction of the Amazon Rainforest by Chevron Texaco. Rabbi Dan Goldblatt returned from Ecuador recently, and what he saw there nearly broke his heart. The spiritual leader of the independent Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville and a longtime environmental activist, Goldblatt did not go as a tourist. He went as part of a delegation of interfaith clergy from the area to bear witness to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by ChevronTexaco. ... “We as Jews have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth,” said Goldblatt. ... “Throughout so much of our prayer, we’re celebrating creation, and it just seems obvious that this is a priority of our spiritual tradition.” ... “It’s horrible to see people who have lived for thousands of years in complete harmony with their environment, and now it’s being totally destroyed and their culture along with it,” he said. -more-

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Brief respite from blight. ALEXANDRA, South Africa (AP) — Pulling white robes trimmed in blue and green over their frayed clothes, worshippers at the Jerusalem Apostolic hurch briefly transport themselves to a spiritual plane far from their township's crammed rows of tin shacks, junkyards and carjackings. ... Every week, poor South Africans flock to makeshift churches in garages, on hilltops, at parks — anywhere they can find a quiet corner of refuge from the daily grind of poverty and street crime. -more-

"The Axis Syllabus -- (a vocabulary of movement technique) -- is a prescription for standing as much as it is for falling. We’re falling towards death as we live, but humans have been more interesting in dominating the forces of gravity, rather than channeling them," he said. "What that means in my class is learning what the body does if you throw it instead of pushing it." ... "The basic principal of all organic life is the spiral," he said. "We move in spirals, our fluid systems flow in spirals. When we move in accord with the way we were built; using the joints in the ways they were designed to balance and receive weight, there’s freedom." -more-

Built like a prayer wheel. The shining tower planned for the gawked-upon gap of the World Trade Center may be the first skyscraper to pray for its city. The designer of the wind turbines that will occupy the top of the "Freedom Tower" wants the rotors to serve as prayer wheels, cycling through mantras of peace. ... Leaders of the rebuilding process have emerged from storied grapples over the shape of the tapering structure. The reported debates between Childs and Libeskind about the building's proportions comically reprise the tale of how Sen no Rikyu, the 16th-century tea master, was tested by a carpenter over exactly where a flower basket should be placed. -more-

Buddha's spiritual teachings connect. Meditation, inner peace and Buddhist art were among the topics discussed at a gallery talk held at the University of Chicago’s David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art on Nov. 1. ... The event began with Rand leading a meditation session in the gallery. For Buddhists, meditation is seen as a way to quiet the conscious mind and connect with the spiritual world. Buddhists believe that this connection with the spiritual can only be achieved by paying attention to body posture and breathing, as well as concentrating on certain words or phrases, known as “mantras.” -www. no longer active-

For (Daniel) Asia, music permeates all of Jewish life. these ears, Asia's most profoundly Jewish work may be his most atypical and experimental. "Sacred and Profane" is an electro-acoustic cycle of five works of astonishing texture and dimensionality. One of the pieces, "An Awesome Silent Fire," seems to do nothing less than imagine what it would sound like to be in the presence of the Almighty, with the sound funneling toward and away from the listener as if being sucked into a black hole. "Cry," another part of the cycle, seems to follow the course of a worshipper's prayer as it ascends toward the heavens, as if sped along through a hydraulic chute, perhaps one of the sefirot, or divine emanations. -more-

Lost Musician. Nogales native Charles Mingus is an often-forgotten part of the city's rich history. I am driving toward Nogales through a freakish November fog in search of Charles Mingus. ... Born in Nogales on April 22, 1922, Mingus is known the world over as an innovative jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, author, poet, philosopher and outspoken advocate for equal rights and justice. When he died on Jan. 5, 1979, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, the legacy he left behind included more than 50 albums and roughly 300 individual works. In addition, Mingus has the distinction of being the first jazz musician to have his personal archives housed in the Library of Congress. Yet in Nogales, Mingus is a man who never was. A leisurely walk around town reveals not a plaque, monument or mural dedicated to their native son. Shop windows are equally devoid of memorabilia. This is strange. -more-

Book review: 'AMERICAN JESUS' When They Say Jesus, Which Jesus Do They Mean? Stephen Prothero, chairman of the department of religion at Boston University, has written a cultural history of Jesus as American image and icon that presents such options, and many more, in vivid, engrossing detail. In the service of the all-American thesis that his sojourn in these parts has "liberated" "Jesus the person" from "Christ the theological sign," Mr. Prothero charts stages in the cultural revolution that freed the Lord of Hosts to become "a hero to those who could not embrace the beliefs and practices of traditional Christianity." ... ...the suffering Christ makes few appearances in Mr. Prothero's account. One worries that this Jesus, the Lord of the marginalized and forlorn, may soon become the man nobody knows in 21st-century America. -more-

Michael Two Horses found his voice in the voice of his age - the Internet. "He had such a strong and visible Internet personality," said Two Horses' friend, Deanna Beacham of the Virginia Council on Indians. "He was visible since the very beginning in the cyber community." ... "Mike was a very vibrant, powerful person," Beacham said. "He was an educated, articulate Indian who was willing to speak out. You don't feed into the cultural stereotype when you speak as Mike did." Smashing cultural stereotypes of the American Indian was what Two Horses was all about, his friends agreed. "There are people who go around selling Indian spirituality," Ture said. "It used to drive Michael crazy. It was like taking the cool parts of the Mass and selling it to people and saying, 'OK, here you go! Now you're a Catholic.'" www. (link no longer working)

A group of peace activists with stellar credentials works to fashion Montague into its global hub. ...a group called Peacemaker Circle International, intends to refashion the farm from a hippie hangout into a "global hub" for its growing network of activist circles. ... The metaphor that best describes what PCI aspires to be is the Internet. Glassman conceives of the organization as a network linking individual circles of activists around the globe, who share information and support each other while working on their own projects. "We don't talk about circles just by themselves, but we talk about circles together with each other and how those circles get linked to each other," Glassman explained in an earlier interview. "Once you plug in the Internet line, now you're linked to all kinds of information." -more-

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

How did Karen do it? How did she stop a lifelong struggle with weight? She is one of the brave who went to the roots of overeating, beyond carb counting and diet books, and developed two simple skills: self-nurturing and effective limit-setting. Throughout each day for the past year, she asked herself, "How do I feel? What do I need? Are my expectations reasonable for who I am right now?" ... Without nurturing and reasonable limits, we have no sanctuary inside, so we must look outside to soothe and comfort ourselves. Overeating along with overworking, overspending, drinking and smoking are common ways that we abandon ourselves instead of feeling our feelings, responding to our true needs, and having limits that are not too harsh and not too lenient, but on the mark of responsiveness. -more-

Monday, January 5, 2004

First Look at Spirit on Mars-2. NASA's Spirit Rover is starting to examine its new surroundings, revealing a vast flatland well suited to the robot's unprecedented mobility and scientific toolkit. -more-

Power of the web in religion. The direction of the Episcopal Church is increasingly being determined not by its clergy or church institutions, but by a group of determined Internet jockeys whose reach encircles the globe. ... the lesson was clear: any self-appointed Web master could influence an entire denomination. ... Before the Internet, he says, "There was spin. Now there's counterspin. We have to listen to points of view we don't like. I have convictions and support them, but don't want to be an ideologue." ... "Nothing's a secret anymore," he says. "Bishops in the church can no longer do things quietly. Anything that's put out quickly goes around the globe. The Internet has allowed people to challenge assumptions, critique them and given ordinary people a chance to raise questions that would not ordinarily be raised." -more-

Symbols of renewed hope on every horizon. The beaches are still empty but stylish hotels are opening apace. There's never been a better time to visit Sri Lanka, says Cath Urquhart. ... While the beaches could do with a little management — there is some rubbish, and a bit of a dog problem — they are wild and beautiful, with local fishermen your companions rather than the persistent hustlers you find in the established tourist area of Bentota. -more-

Book excerpt: Mihail Sebastian - Rampa, December 19, 1935. "The physics institute in Berlin since 1932 has been measuring, on a daily basis, the astronomical length of days, by using high resolution chronometers. The institute announces that in June 1935 the length of the astronomical day dropped by a fraction equal to a quarter of a thousandth part of a second and was still dropping."A quarter of a thousandth part of a second! It is so little! Human thought cannot realise this absurd fraction, which only figures manage to register in who knows what complex equations and formulas. A quarter of a thousandth part of a second! It is fantastically little! And still, it is something. It goes deep into the darkness of times, into the depth of destinies, a point of death. -more-

Sunday, January 4, 2004

"God kept me alive," Ms Mazandarani said before reciting the poem about God and his power in running the universe. An elderly woman rescued from the rubble of the Bam earthquake said she had been kept alive by God and after eight days freezing and without food or water had just one request - a cup of tea. Shahrbanou Mazandarani, believed to be in her 90s, became an instant celebrity on Saturday after she was found by soldiers who spotted a hand protruding from the ruins of a collapsed building. ... -more-

Saturday, January 3, 2004

Zen Meditation. When Abby Terris was a little girl, she used to sit in the garden and do absolutely nothing, and it was wonderful. When she got a little older, and the world got a little more complicated, that kind of peace left her for awhile. But she found it again when she discovered Zen meditation and learned once again to live in the moment. -more-

There is a story of a retired executive, who, along his spiritual journey, recognized the importance of doing a good deed every day -- not just to appease his own conscience, but to contribute a bit of goodness to the world. Since his days were, as are most peoples', filled to the brim with responsibilities and activity, he wanted to make sure that he could accomplish his goal each and every day. So he wouldn’t forget to perform these daily acts of kindness, he had a unique alternative to the string-around-the-finger method. -more-

Manhattan is choked with spas. As far as the outer self goes, there are only so many acres of hair and skin to wax, buff and gloss. But the inner self, with its unease, malaise and angst, can absorb endless coddling. Of course, great ideas have an air of inevitability. Just as Darwin was not alone in thinking up evolution, so, too, others are hitting on the theme of the born-again spa. -more-

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Infant’s death brings uncanny gift of charity. "I knew he was going to die at 20 weeks’ gestation," she said. "I knew it was a boy and we wanted to name him and bond with him. I carried this child for 37 weeks and I couldn’t wait to meet him. We said we would take no extreme measures to keep him alive. We just wanted to spend every moment of his life with him and take him home to die. When you’re carrying a sick child the last thing that’s on your mind is material things. People were so kind. They made sure we got everything we needed to take Michael home after he was stabilized. We knew we had to give that kindness back to others in Michael’s name." -more-

Science chips away at our ancient myths, only to reveal even greater mysteries. Until quite recently, we humans have been egocentric when explaining our place in the universe. Half a millennium ago we assumed our world was the universe's center -- and, for that matter, flat -- and that the sun orbited Earth. Last century we held on to the notion that our solar system was unique. Scientists just a generation ago assumed, too, that conditions on Earth -- a protective atmosphere, ample water and volcanic activity -- made it the only planet that could possibly support life. That sense of self-importance has given way to a more humble assessment of our place in space. The conditions on our home planet may be unique, but solar systems are not at all anomalies. We are in the process of accepting that we are very much part of larger universe. -more-

Religion in Canada is finding a home in unlikely places, whether it's a pub, a New Age retreat on British Columbia's Bowen Island, the room set aside for Muslim prayers at the University of Manitoba or a rocky stretch of Newfoundland coastline where a lone walker admires the crashing waves.” -more-

Rites honor monk's final act. American, South Vietnamese and Buddhist flags fluttered as hundreds attended a funeral Wednesday for a monk who died last week after setting himself on fire. Thich Chan Hy's dramatic act brought renewed vigor to campaigns against persecution of Buddhists still living in Vietnam, supporters said outside the Lien Hoa Temple. Inside, monks and scores of worshippers chanted prayers around Hy's lace-draped, flower-decked coffin. -http:// - link no longer active.