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Jerry Katz
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October - December, 2003

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
(Due to computer problems, a few consecutive days have been missed.)

"Mabi Ponce de Leon: Fertile Ground" Ponce de Leon writes, "I see my work as a place to house my spiritual feelings... those which I cannot describe with words, but only with sensations.  These images—like dreams—tell of extraordinary journeys... epics without logical plots, involving soul and its `housing'.  The iconic motifs I use reference different cultures—reinforcing my belief that people have a common ancestry and carry a common palette of subconsciously imbedded symbols.  I hope to instill a sense of `spirituality' in viewers, without imposing `religion' on them. My paintings seek the soul--the temple that is attainable within ourselves. -more-

Zen and the art of woodworking. STUTTGART, Germany — Michael Quantrell is absolutely philosophical when he talks about woodworking and teaching people how to turn pieces of wood into what some consider works of art. “This is about patience,” said the 55-year-old Quantrell, who has been working for more than two decades on Kelley Barracks. “You really need patience for everything in life, just like you do this. You have to think. You have to take your time. You have to be careful.” -more-

Ask the coach: I am frequently asked at this time of year about what is necessary to help achieve happiness and prosperity in the coming year. I believe the answer to this question is ultimately a spiritual one. This year, I would like to share with you seven principles from Deepak Chopra's new book, 'The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire.' I hope you find these helpful in your ongoing spiritual quest. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year. -more-

Every year in the last week of December, I try to dedicate myself to the laudable activity of ‘doing nothing’. This year I chanced upon a wonderful collection of English essays on several topics. J.B. Priestly endorses the “solid occupation in doing nothing, our minds’ immaculate vacancies” and declares: “All the evil in this world is brought about by persons who are always up and doing but do not know when they ought to be up nor what they ought to be doing. The devil... is still the busiest creature in the universe... There is still plenty of energy in the world... but most of it is misdirected... Any fool can be fussy and rid himself of energy all over the place, but a man has to have something in him before he can settle down to do nothing... he must have reserves to draw upon...” www.,00120002.htm (link no longer working)

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Cold Mountain director Anthony Minghella. "The book appealed to me mainly because it's a palimpsest: it's written over many other texts. The Odyssey, very consciously; a lot of documentation of the civil war; the real story of a relative of the author's who deserted the civil war and went back to the actual Cold Mountain. It also evokes some Chinese Buddhist poetry about a spiritual journey to a place also called Cold Mountain."

Few filmmakers would be happy to appear so unashamedly bookish; those that do tend to be silver-tongued pseuds. But Minghella is the real thing: a superb, if scholarly, prose writer, an obsessive medievalist (who else would cite the 16th-century morality play Everyman as an influence on his scriptwriting?) and a fearless experimenter prepared to dabble in any available medium. "I came into film as a writer, dependent on language and actors - and gradually I found that the thing I like to do best is to open up the canvas. I feel more at home with this scale of filmmaking than I ever expected." -more-

Seeker's diary: Books offer range of spiritual pursuit. Being a spiritual "seeker" means more than going to a place of worship or trying on different congregations for that ephemeral "fit." It also means testing the meaning of nature and society, religion and the world through contemplation, asking questions and reading books.

For author and former religion journalist Marcia Ford, a spiritual search begins and ends in community. Ford's new book, "Memoir of a Misfit: Finding My Place in the Family of God," is one of several recent releases that aim to lead readers down enriching and, at times, challenging spiritual paths.

"My faith can exist in isolation, but it will never flourish in isolation," Ford said from Florida. "I can have a private relationship with God, but I believe strongly in sharing that with others and worshiping in the company of others." -

The father of all gurus. He wrote the book that inspired a generation of self-awareness. Thirty years on, M. Scott Peck is still working through his own problems. When someone tells you how to live your life, how do you respond? If they are a good enough teacher, you might listen. But, at the back of your mind, there always lurks the question: do you practise what you preach? How does your life measure up? -more-

'Nutcracker' Can Keep Us on Our Toes. If you pay attention, the seasonal favorite transcends fluffy ballet. Everyone knows "The Nutcracker" is a crowd pleaser at this time of year, but you may not know that it's also a Trojan horse of a ballet — an attractive thing you let in the door that, boom, turns out to have more power than you think. In its own glittering, toes-pointed fashion, it tells us (almost) everything we need to know.

Front and center in the process is Clara, a role model in ruffles. Clara? The cute little girl who spends most of the ballet tripping around in her nightgown? ... Just when you think all's quiet on the living room front, someone starts a turf war, and a leader turns out to be hapless. Clara steps in and throws a shoe at the head of the Mouse King. Never underestimate the combat strategies of a determined adolescent girl. Especially one who's been practicing her pirouettes. -

A Wonderful Wizard: The creator of 'Oz' books also wrote "The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows." In 1900, the year "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was published, L. Frank Baum released another book as well... . ... The book Baum published in 1900 was not a children's book, either. But it had an effect on children in the sense that it had a small, but real, effect on Christmas as we know it in America. It was called "The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows," and surprisingly enough, it was about exactly that. ... "You must arouse in the observer cupidity and a longing to possess the goods you sell," he wrote. The best way to do this, he believed, was through the use of the mannequin, especially one that had been set in motion to create the illusion of life within the window's imaginary world. The mannequin would enact a drama of desire that would captivate window shoppers. ... It is tempting to read the Oz story as a meditation on what makes the mannequin so fascinating. Dorothy's companions are such memorable characters because they share so sincerely the show-window dummy's belief that the qualities that can make them truly human are in fact detachable and purchasable objects. -more-

For Linda Tomol Pennisi, it’s been a long and unique — but, in many ways, a predictable — journey. Her life has taken her from Kulpmont to Syracuse, N.Y., a journey not unlike that experienced by hundreds of her coal region contemporaries who, for reasons of economics or personal preferences, left their hometowns to find happiness elsewhere. What is unusual is that, over the years, she has changed her career from registered nurse to poet and writing teacher. Her first book of collected poetry, “Seamless,” has just been published by Perugia Press. ... Pennisi even uses “mining” as an analogy to encourage her writing students to “travel into themselves to find packets of energy” when they write. -more-

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Interview: Music for divinity. Pastor Edward Baroi of Calvary Charismatic Church talks about church music to Fayza Haq of The Daily Star
The Daily Star: What is the origin of Church music?
Pastor Edward Baroi: Music has always played an important role in the worship of God. Way back, in the dawn of creation: "... the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7, Bible). -

Tibetan Buddhism the Western Way. Three-part article.

SURAT/AHMEDABAD: Glittering diamonds failed to deter Atul Shah (32), a diamond businessman, from turning a new leaf some 11 years ago when he opted to live like an ordinary Jain monk than being ensconced in the office of his family business of precious stones with a sales turnover of around $120 million a year currently. ... If USA has its Alfred Ford who has given up a fortune and was recently in Rajkot spreading Krishna consciousness for ISKCON, Gujarat has had its breed of youngsters from moneyed families, giving it all up and taking to spirituality. -more-

Customers pay by conscience. A simple brown basket near the water jug serves as the cash collection point. It's been sitting there since last spring, and her cafe still has no name on the window, nor does she do any kind of advertising. -more-
Denise Cerreta, second from right, chats with a customer at her One World Cafe, which lets customers decide portion size and how much to pay for their food. Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Vietnamese Buddhist monk died after setting himself on fire Wednesday at an altar outside his temple. Temple members believe Thich Chan Hy, 74, took his own life to protest the persecution of Vietnamese Buddhists. -more-

Women chiefs, queens making their mark in Africa's power structures. RAMOTSWA, Botswana - The village elder holds up the skin of a leopard against a vast, cloudless sky and a hush falls over the crowd of thousands. It is the symbol of absolute power. For generations it has passed from father to son - but on this day it spills over the head and shoulders of a woman, the daughter of royalty who has become the Balete people's first female paramount chief. As African women take on new roles in government, business and other realms of modern life, their position in traditional society is also evolving and expanding into a domain long the stronghold of men. -more-

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

From the Himalayas, Art for Your Soul's Sake. It's easy to forget — and museums will seldom remind you — that much of the art in most of the world before the modern era wasn't made just to sit there looking pretty. It was made to save your soul. Two major museum presentations of Buddhist art in California are filled with art of exactly this kind. One show pays only dutiful attention to that fact; the other doesn't let you lose sight of it for a second. "The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a rarity for two reasons. It's a big, luxuriant display of truly fabulous religious images, but tightly focused. And it doubles as a step-by-step guided trek over rigorous spiritual and intellectual terrain. -more- For those especially interested in Tibetan and Buddhist art, more can be seen online. At the museum's website is a great online exhibit, which shows many images fullscreen.

"Christmas is just a commercial event for the Chinese government," said Hua Huiqi, a Beijing-based Christian activist.

"They export hundreds of millions of US dollars in Christmas products overseas, but the government doesn't want Christianity to spread freely."

In the past year, the government has launched what some critics consider one of the harshest crackdowns against Christians in "underground churches" -- which insist on operating independenly from the government.

Dozens of churches have been demolished and many worshippers arrested. -

Working mom. Sometimes learning how to strike a happy work-life balance is like cracking the sonar system of a bat, navigating around icebergs, and teaching the blind how to bike took the sinking of the Titanic to make maritime scientists study how icebergs can be detected on a ship's route. Only when the most invulnerable ship was brought down, did they throw all their energy into getting to know icebergs and turning their threat into friendly warning signs. The path to work-life harmony, to inner balance, is the same. We have to bump into unseen trees and crash into iceberg tips, so that we can sit up, take notice, listen with a new set of ears, and get to know the inner space where we can be most free. -more-

Jeri Becker has spent much of her 23 years behind bars undergoing a personal and spiritual transformation. With one sentence from the governor, Jeri Becker cleared her final hurdle toward freedom. Becker -- a onetime heroin addict convicted of first-degree murder in a 1980 Sausalito slaying -- will be released in the next few months after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to review the state parole board's decision granting her parole. The governor's decision Monday brought joy to Becker's legion of supporters around the country. ... From her cell, with access to little more than paper, stamps and collect phone calls, preaching her simple tale of personal recovery, Becker marshaled an extraordinary corps of advocates and benefactors across the country. -more-

Founded in 1998, Nova Vida is a home in Novo Hamburgo, in the south of Brazil, for boys between the ages of 12 and 18 who can no longer live with their families, for reasons ranging from drug addiction to abusive parents. ... Rodriguez relaxes the boys by turning off the lights and putting on soothing, New Age meditation music in the background. A small fan purrs in the corner. Rodriguez soundlessly walks across the room in his socks, asking the boys to close their eyes and to visualize a cave, "like playing a movie inside your head." While still concentrating on their breathing, the boys visualize a cave with a light at the end of the tunnel. Peri breathes deeply and covers his face with a black baseball cap, just as they are to pass the light and enter a room where they will see their true selves. -more-

Book review. In "Body & Soul," originally published in France in 2000, Wacquant provides a vivid (if jargon-heavy) account of his transformation from an apprentice academic into a contender in Chicago's high-profile amateur Golden Gloves competition. But more than that, "Body & Soul" is a closely observed and ultimately moving tour through an outpost of a vanishing world, where boxing's codes of masculine honor and monastic self-discipline struggle to overcome the familiar inner-city seductions of drugs, gangs and street crime. www. (link no longer working)

Film review. 21 Grams. "I believe in interior journeys, and that's why I love the characters' journey" in "21 Grams," Inarritu said. "That's why this film is about finding hope (when) confronting such extraordinary losses. "Want it or not, life is a string of losses. We lost, everyday, something. We lost childhood, innocence, our hair, our faith, our beliefs, our health and, at the end, our life. And how we deal with that everyday, and how we can make meaning or give meaning or sense to our lives through hope, I'm a true believer in that." -more-

Sir John Templeton. In October, 1992, the Templeton funds were acquired by the Franklyn Group for $440 million. Sir John now dedicates his time to trying to change attitudes toward discoveries. He was amazed that "no religion has been enthusiastic about new discoveries... they all look back at ancient scriptures and prophets." This led Sir John to set up three foundations worldwide to facilitate scientists in making discoveries of a spiritual nature. For Sir John, there are no major regrets in his career, other than that "no one" has found ways to increase spiritual information. He wished he had started back in his garden at age six, instead of growing vegetables, to discover why he was created, why he was human. "Nobody ever explained it to me," he said. "I used to look up at the stars and wondered why they existed." -more-

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Bernard of Clairvaux, An 850th anniversary tribute. The immediate background to Bernard's life was the 10th-century revival of monasticism. The centre of this revival was the monastery at Cluny in France (between Dijon and Lyons) founded in 910 by Duke William of Aquitaine. It was believed that the highest state of spirituality could only be attained by means of monastic seclusion. The ancient Benedictine rule of ‘poverty, chastity
and obedience’ was vigorously applied by the monks of Cluny. Cluniac establishments sprang up all over Europe, and great abbey churches — Cluny’s was built from 1089-1131 — dominated the skyline. -

Making Cheese Is Her Calling; Make That Her Second Calling. CONNECTICUT nun's scholarly commitment to cheese has taken her from a cloistered life of contemplation, farm chores and Gregorian chants to a Fulbright scholarship, France and fame. When Mother Noella Marcellino first focused a microscope more than a decade ago on cheese she had made by hand at the Benedictine abbey in Bethlehem, she had no idea she would become the celebrated champion of France's famous raw-milk cheeses, the centuries-old ways they are made, and the tiny microorganisms that help flavor them. ... Next year, wearing her black nun's habit and irresistible smile, Mother Noella will star in a national PBS documentary film, called "The Cheese Nun: Sister Noella's Voyage of Discovery." -more-

Reason and Faith, Eternally Bound. One might have expected the forces of Reason to be a bit weary after a generation of battling postmodernism and having its power and authority under constant scrutiny. Reason's battles, though, continue unabated. Only now it finds its opposition in the more unyielding claims of religious faith. This latest conflict is over seemingly incompatible ways of knowing the world. It is a conflict between competing certainties: between followers of Faith, who know because they believe, and followers of Reason, who believe because they know. -more-

Why Prime Numbers Matter - Part I. Earlier this week SciScoop ran an article about the discovery by a 26-year-old student of the largest known prime number, the 40th Mersenne Prime number: 2^20996011-1. So what? Besides being a key part in nifty ways to write codes and hide secrets, why do prime numbers matter? At present, we don't really know. But there is a growing belief among scientists and mathematicians, a growing faith of religious proportions, that somehow prime numbers are the key to solving the greatest philosophical mystery of all: why there is something instead of nothing. -more-

Friday, December 19, 2003

PBS crew focusing on Mauna Kea. Simply put, the focus of the documentary is the mountain itself. "Its story will be told through cultural practitioners, astronomers, entomologists and others that work or live in the shadow of the mountain," McNulty stated. The production is slated for completion in summer 2004 for airing in the fall. "We're going to air it, of course, and it will be offered to PBS nationally at the same time," McNulty explained. -www. - link no longer active.

The Swamis. ...the swami, Gokulananda, of the Ramakrishna mission in Delhi, was helping The Economist understand the role spirituality plays in Indian society and politics. He went on to talk of the need to strike a balance between contemplation and action, and to unleash the power that lies dormant within every human being, like a coiled serpent. For a newspaper that brandishes its rationality, its faith in human intelligence, “which presses forward”, in the small print on its contents page, this was one of a series of disconcerting encounters. Our journalists are not used to writing about the divine. -more-

Hanukkah commemorates a great military victory. It also celebrates a great spiritual one. The story began during the reign of Antiochus IV, the Syrian Greek tyrant who prohibited the practice of Judaism and desecrated the Holy Temple. A small group of rebels led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee revolted against their oppressors and defeated the huge Syrian armies.

Judah led his insurgent army into Jerusalem, purified the Temple and restored Jewish rituals. This rededication is commemorated by Hanukkah. The miracle of the story relates to the story that the Jews found only one jar of sacred oil in the Temple -- enough to light the Eternal Lamp for only one day.

Returning from an eight-day journey to obtain more oil, however, they found that the lamp had burned for eight days. Hanukkah has become one of the better known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas.

Its observance, however, is unadorned. The festival is marked by an exchange of small gifts over eight days, eating latkes and other foods fried in oil and playing the dreidel, a four-sided top inscribed with the Hebrew phase words "a great miracle happened here." -

Press release: The Rainbow Bridge. Brent Hunter, a former psychotherapist, started The Park, an online community in the early days of the Internet and kept it running out of the proverbial garage for 6.5 years. By combining his skills in business, information and communication technologies, psychology and understanding of universal spiritual principles, he attracted 160 volunteers who helped create, maintain and grow this international online community which received an astonishing six million hits per day. ...

The impetus behind The Rainbow Bridge is Hunter’s assertion that the root cause of terrorism stems from the lack of adequate conversation and dialogue about the issues that plague humanity at this critical and yet exciting time in history. Combining universal principles found in all of the world’s religions with state-of-the-art information and communication technologies, the problem of terrorism and war can be significantly reduced. Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D., evolutionary biologist and author, describes The Rainbow Bridge as “… a roadmap to the conscious evolution of humanity. A book to carry, consult often, and give away to all those you care about.” -more-

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Faith Q&A: What can I do to help my spiritual growth? READER'S QUESTION: What can I do to help my spiritual growth? RESPONSE: Different faith traditions find spirituality or the sacred in different realms of experience. The monotheistic faiths, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, find the sacred in the history of covenanted community. The primal religions, including Native American spirituality, paganism and Wicca, find the sacred in the world of nature. And the Asian religions, including Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism, find the sacred in inner awareness. -more-

FACETIME- Wild Heart woe: Sobel's journal needs a home. When we last left Eliezer Sobel in March 2003, his short story "Schneiderman" had just won runner-up in The Hook's fiction contest, and he was actively seeking a publisher for his novel, MINYAN: 10 Jewish Men in a World that is Heartbroken.

Flash forward to October, and not only has Sobel's novel landed a publisher (the University of Tennessee Press), but it's also won the prestigious Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, judged this year by Charlottesville's own John Casey.

Winning two literary contests in one year would seem reason for elation, but 51-year-old Sobel, who teaches children's music at Tandem Friends School, is singing the blues. Why? Because his creative baby, the Wild Heart Journal, is about to bite the dust.

"I'm losing $7,000 every time I put it out," he sighs.

Founded in 1998, Wild Heart Journal features poetry, interviews, and visual art, intertwining the two main themes of Sobel's life: art and spirituality. -more- Also, look at his remarkable publication:

Woody Guthrie’s Songs For ‘Bubbe’ ‘Holy Ground’ project. We all know Woody Guthrie, right? Dust bowl balladeer. Labor activist. Mentor to Bob Dylan, and by extension, inspiration to perhaps millions of singer-songwriters — from Liverpool’s John Lennon to Brooklyn’s Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

Well, now it’s time to meet the unknown Woody Guthrie: Husband of Marjorie Mazia, a Jewish professional dancer from Philadelphia who later opened a popular dance school in Sheepshead Bay. Son-in-law of Aliza “Bubbe” Greenblatt, a respected Yiddish songwriter and ardent Zionist. And now, revealed for the first time, composer of dozens of Jewish-themed songs — including a bunch about Chanukah — while he was living in Coney Island. -

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Book review: The Zohar Pritzker Edition, Vol. 1. Margot Pritzker, she of the Hyatt Hotels fortune and the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is underwriting the first complete translation of the Zohar from Aramaic into English since the 1930s. When completed, it will run to a projected 12 volumes, the first two of which have just come out from Stanford University Press. -more-

The Emerging Feminine Face of Buddhism. In her classic book "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times," for example, the American-born Buddhist nun Pema Chodron describes how her husband's affair and their subsequent divorce sparked her spiritual quest. "When anyone asks me how I got involved in Buddhism," she wrote, "I always say it was because I was so angry with my husband. The truth is that he saved my life." -more-

BONO, the charismatic front man of Irish rock band U2, has revealed that one of his earliest creative influences was a book (on cycling) by a former Western Mail journalist. ... "I went cycling in Paris at midnight with my wife Ali along the banks of the Seine. "There is a kind of Zen thing with cycling and it's about as much sports as I'll need for the rest of my life. -more-

Last Friday marked the centennial of the birth of Yasujiro Ozu, the great movie director. It was also the 40th anniversary of his death. I visited Engakuji because he is buried there. ... While watching scenes shot in subdued tones, one cannot help noticing an pathetic undercurrent-sorrow over inevitable separation and a foreboding that some things are going to become nonexistent. A longing for things that once existed may have been an element in Ozu's love of the character mu. The audience shares that sentiment when the scenes captured on film as the present are shown as what existed in the past on the screen. -www.asahi. com/english/vox/TKY200312160134.html">link no longer working-

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Title: Longest Line
Location: Ginza Apple Store (Tokyo)
Director: Masanori Fukumoto
Date: Sunday, November 30, 2003
Description: Be sure to watch the whole thing, it's truly UNBELIEVABLE

Would Ansel Adams Have Gone Digital? New imaging technologies can create incredible pictures, but do they compromise the art of photography? -more-

Dalai Lama embodies Tibetan hopes. He was 60 years old, single, and a very ordinary man. His last job was cooking and cow herding. There was absolutely nothing special about him, and he has left nothing noteworthy behind. Except the image of his death. Not the exact moment, which came two days later in a hospital, but surely the moment he offered his spirit. It's an image of both horror and fascination. -more-

The connection between pop-culture Kabbalah and the real thing ``is the relationship between pornography and love,'' said Adin Steinsaltz, a Hasidic rabbi in Jerusalem who has written several books about Jewish mysticism, including the newly published ``Opening the Tanya: Discovering the Moral and Mystical Teachings of a Classical Work of Kabbalah'' (Jossey-Bass, 2003). "Pornography is intrinsically soul-less, and doesn't have any obligations attached,'' Rabbi Steinsaltz said. ``It's just using externals. They are doing exactly the same thing.'' Most of the traditionalists' fury is directed at the Kabbalah Centre International, a religious nonprofit organization run by Rabbi Philip Berg of Los Angeles, his wife, Karen, and his sons. -more-

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press
Native elder Elmer Courchene performs a sweet-grass cleansing ceremony on Liberal Leader Paul Martin before he is sworn in as Canada's 21st prime minister in Ottawa on Friday.

Friday, December 12, 2003

The Dalai Lama on Wednesday regretted the misuse of religion as an instrument for bullying others. While they were supposed to help humanity, to create compassion, togetherness and equality, "religion sometimes does not educate everyone and it itself becomes an instrument to bully", the Buddhist leader said addressing a function organised by the National Human Rights Commission to mark Human Rights Day in New Delhi. -more-

Richie Havens, who performs at Kulp Auditorium Saturday night, has been winning friends and fans since the 1960s with his warm voice and rhythmic guitar playing. "It's hearing and feeling it," he says. "If (a song) changed me personally, I can play it. What I'm talking about is the poetry of now. What the writer is talking about and what I am talking about must be the same. It's all about the strata we all go through. The songs that I perform explain the simple connection between people." ... "We are the same in that we encompass everybody," he explains. "I look at the world as the great becoming. All the wars that are going on around us are old wars. We are trying to resolve those conflicts right now. I see that America, too, is just becoming, We will reach that point, but we are not there yet. -more-

Tiny shrub enjoys divine protection. Whatever the forces of cause and effect, there is no doubt that sacred places are somehow different. As a mystic, I can feel this difference but have a hard time explaining it in words. As an ecologist, of course, I can pinpoint the difference with great precision. -www. no longer active-

Movie Review: ‘The Iron Lodge: Native American Spirituality Behind Bars.’ Healing impact of Indian spirituality highlighted in prison documentary. One of the most powerful images in the film is of a bent wood skeleton of a sweat lodge on bare dirt. Behind a fence of razor wire and looking down on the sacred structure stands a prison guard tower. And this well-structured and finely-crafted film is full of such contrasts. Horror and healing, alienation and the creation of community, and repression and self-realization stand side by side in the stories told here. -more-

Seva Foundation, a Berkeley organization that during the past 25 years has played a key role in curing blindness in more than 2 million people in India, Nepal and Tibet, as well as aiding Guatemalan refugees fleeing political violence and promoting public health among American Indians. On Saturday night, Seva -- Sanskrit for "service to God" -- will mark its silver anniversary in Berkeley with one of Wavy Gravy's rock concert benefits for the group, featuring members of the Grateful Dead and Jackson Browne, among others. -more-

Descendants of Mexican settlers get access to Colorado ranch. DENVER - Descendants of Mexican settlers who were promised they could use the land that now is the Taylor Ranch for grazing cattle and gathering firewood are celebrating a court decision that restores to them that right. "I just want to go up there, at my age, and enjoy the spirituality of the mountain, the beautiful surroundings and the peace and tranquility that it will bring to me," Otero said. "And soon we'll be able to do it legally without fear of being beaten or getting a trespassing ticket." -www. /1211taylorranch-ON.htmlLink no longer active-

Iconographer Stefan Adamache opening "windows on eternity" with his stunning paintings. The icon, he says, is a "window of spirituality", which tries to make the worshipper "aware of existence in eternity". The paintings are highly stylised, to represent spiritual rather than physical reality. Adamache says the West still doesn't understand the icon. "We don't worship them, we use them as a medium. The early fathers said when you see an icon your mind goes beyond it." -more-

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Antarctic Diary. Emotional extremes. Craig Vear describes how feelings of solitude and despair turned to awe and euphoria as he continues his Antarctic diary Halfway across the placid Drakes Passage (noted for its formidable seas), life pretty much collapsed around me. I can talk about this now because of what followed - however, it was one of the most intense, hard bouts of loneliness, maybe solitude, that I have ever had to experience to date. -more-

Wind instruments are making a comeback. The sound is eerie, haunting. It is the wind scouring the polar ice, the last sound Scott heard when he stepped outside the tent. There is a tolling like the bells of a drowned church. And a hint of - what? Whale song? Seagulls crying in the mist? -more-

Tuesday, December 8, 2003

Living dharma and loving it. New Delhi - Tai Situ Rinpoche, the 48-year-old Tibetan spiritual teacher of Gyalwa Karmapa, makes you reconsider the way you look at your life and the world around you. Apart from being a Buddhist scholar, the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche - his real name is Pema Donyo Nyinje Wangpo - is a poet, calligrapher, architect and artist. The author of several books on the doctrines of Buddhism, he spoke at length on the role of religion, particularly Buddhism, and on living a more meaningful and purposeful life. -more-

Groundhog Almighty. A new movie series from the Museum of Modern Art, "The Hidden God: Film and Faith," features some pretty brooding stuff. ... With one exception. On Thursday, the opening-night feature at the Gramercy Theater, where the series is being presented, was "Groundhog Day," the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a sarcastic television weatherman forced by a twist of fate and magic to relive one day of his life, Feb. 2, over and over. Since its debut a decade ago, the film has become a curious favorite of religious leaders of many faiths, who all see in "Groundhog Day" a reflection of their own spiritual messages. -more-

Do you hurt all over? Researchers at the University of Minnesota say you might feel better if you drank more milk and enjoyed a bit more sunshine. The discovery is important because as many as 20 percent of U.S. adults experience chronic pain. Of those, about nine in 10 report some degree of long- or short-term disability. Treatment costs are estimated at $50 billion annually. Studies over the years have shown that people who don't get enough vitamin D — a substance usually associated with fortified milk and sunlight — are more likely to suffer from chronic body aches. What they didn't know, until now, is how common vitamin D deficiency is, particularly among younger people and immigrant populations who complain of chronic pain. -more-

Why I'm an Advent Christian. Some are Easter Christians, some Pentecost Christians. But Advent is my time of year. -more-

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Gift ideas for book lovers. World of work, spirituality among topics explored. Some interesting choices and brief reviews. -more-

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Minor White. In 1946 Minor White went back from New York to the West coast, staying with Ansel Adams and teaching with him in San Francisco. White was one of the first to understand the Zone System that Adams was developing... . White's contact with Stieglitz awakened his interest in the metaphorical power of the photograph, and in particular its ability to induce or correspond with certain mental states in the viewer. ... White's spiritual journey led him, through both Gurdjieff philosophy and photography, to attempt to be at one with that spirit, to reach the deepest levels of his and our nature. -more-

Friday, December 5, 2003

Book review. Water Lines, by Luci Shaw. Her laundry poem "Evaporation" (notice the water image) reminds me of the whimsical Richard Wilbur poem, "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," where he says "Outside the open window / The morning air is all awash with angels." In her poem, Shaw laments the change to an electric dryer:

The air behind the house
is empty of epiphanies, apparitions.
Gone is the iron-fresh smell of damp linens
praying their vapor to the sun.

What Is Rohatsu? Japanese for 'December 8,' Rohatsu marks the morning Buddha achieved realization. Every year, we have the same chance. By Shodo Harada Roshi. Excerpted with permission from "Morning Dewdrops of the Mind: Teachings of a Contemporary Zen Master," published by North Atlantic Books/Frog, Ltd. Every year when December approaches, monks everywhere tremble in anticipation of the arrival of the rohatsu sesshin [intensive meditation retreat]. In Zen dojos [practice halls] everywhere, people intensify their training energy in preparation for this sesshin held from the first to the eighth of December. The rohatsu sesshin is the consummation of a year’s training, a time when everyone faces the final reckoning of a year of practice. -more-

Number of `Nones,' Those Who Claim No Religion, Swells in U.S. Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade, to nearly 30 million. Organized as a religious denomination, they would trail only Catholics and Baptists in members. They are the "nones," named for their response to a question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion, if any?" -more-

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Blue Carnations. Japanese beverage producer Suntory Ltd. is to buy Australian bioventure Florigene to develop blue carnations, the company says. ... According to the company, colors in the blue range -- mauve, blue, and purple -- are believed to represent ideas such as spirituality, integrity, passion and tranquility. -more-

How do we in busy urban Australia two jobs, children, mortgage, school fees, maintain an active spirituality? How do we satisfy our hunger for the infinite? On the train, the silver monastery, hiding in a corner, I read from a small book the morning prayer from the office of the church. It takes four stations. After that I just sit, half asleep, half praying a mantra, wondering about my fellow travellers, feeling empathy for their lives. Imagining how they live. Work, can be exhilarating but often is like gnawing on the same hard stones, meal after meal. The ache of boredom can become claustrophobic. Try as I might, many things I have to do are deeply frustrating. How can the boredom be transformed into prayer, made productive? How to both preserve a loving attitude to squabbling workmates and keep integrity? -more-

“If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.” Texas-based Despair Inc. is blanketing America with 2.3 million catalogues, just in time for the holidays. The company is pitching its anti-motivational calendars, caps and mugs to an audience fed up with their workplaces, co-workers and managers and ready to embrace the caustic humour its products promote. -more-

Toyota to give car designs more Japanese flavor. TOKYO - On Monday, Toyota Motor Corp launched an initiative to incorporate more elements of uniquely Japanese culture, philosophy and spirituality into its product design and development. The sense of hospitality and well-being epitomized by the Japanese teahouse already has international recognition, according to the company, which feels that if its automotive products could embody more of this sense, along with leading-edge technology, it will be able to offer customers something that its foreign competitors cannot. Toyota wants its designs to convey a sense of spiritual richness, alongside safety, concern for the environment and functionality. -more-

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Partying with God, too! More and more young people — achievers and wannabes — are leaning towards religion and spirituality. From film stars and artists to finance and management whiz kids, all seem to swear by prayer, meditation and religious rituals! -more-

Book Review: The Receiving. Rabbi Firestone grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in St. Louis. She is the niece of the late Milton Firestone, who was editor of The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle from 1963 to 1983. At a young age, however, Tirzah Firestone rejected her Jewish upbringing and embarked upon a spiritual journey that took her around the world and into the very heart of the counterculture -- from Kundalini ashrams to Hindu cults to radical New Age philosophies. ... In her latest book, "The Receiving," Rabbi Firestone said she "brings what I've learned in my return to Judaism -- its deep-rooted truths -- out into the public domain so that women and men who have been disaffected or disenfranchised from the Jewish tradition can hear and apply these truths." "The Receiving" profiles seven little-known Jewish women mystics and sages who lived between the 2nd century and the 20th. These women are virtually omitted from history books, and, as such, are largely unknown. -more-

Book Review: Light Speed from Dark Places. From philosophy to psychology to astrology, great minds have attempted to demystify the secrets of the universe and womankind. Likewise, people have tried to define the meaning of existence for centuries. Author James Amrine writes that the spirit is the essence of existence, and he details his own journey in search of enlightenment in his new book, Light Speed From Dark Places (now available through 1stBooks). -more-

Remembering an elder Jean Provost led her life helping others, blending Indian spirituality with professional skills. Jean Provost was killed last week when a speeding truck crashed into the vehicle in which she was riding.She left behind two daughters, but dozens of people called her "mom." "They called her 'Ina,' which is the Sioux word for mother," said Dee Reames-Watkins, Provost's daughter and the director of Whispering 4 Winds Inter-tribal People, a local social agency assisting American Indians and others."Whether they were Indians or not, she would use our culture to help them understand. "She was particularly good at helping them through personal loss," Reames-Watkins said. "She asked them to accept it and never to question the Creator."While her values were traditional Sioux, Provost also could draw on her years of experience as a psychiatric nurse and a Citizens on Patrol volunteer in Apple Valley. -more-

Progressive organizations of the Bay Area employ thousands of people and generate millions of dollars. "Just as the critical parts of Italy around Florence and Venice in the 14th and 15th centuries led to major transformations in society and arts and culture, the same thing is happening in Northern California." Much as Silicon Valley once boasted of a tech-driven new economy that was going to flower across the world, now green-oriented advocates see the same thing happening -- but in a business movement devoted to treating workers with respect and keeping the environment clean, while still making money. "I think the Bay Area has a lot of the seeds of the new economy," said Medea Benjamin, a founding director of Global Exchange, one of the big-name progressive nonprofit groups that call San Francisco home. "This is the place to do it." -more-

Friday, November 28, 2003

Researcher: Early Years Critical to Spiritual Development. A prominent Christian researcher says he is convinced that the most important segment of the population toward which churches should focus their energies and resources is children. ... "In essence, what you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing," Barna says. While he does not discount belief-altering, life-changing experiences among individuals beyond that age, he claims his research indicates that "most people's minds are made up and they believe they know what they need to know spiritually" by the time they become an official teenager. -more-

A small but enlightening exhibition titled AKARI: Light Sculpture by Isamu Noguchi is now under way at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art. Akari, or light in Japanese, is the name Isamu Noguchi chose for the paper and bamboo light fixtures for which he is best known around the world today. These lanterns reflect both Noguchi's love of Japanese traditional crafts and materials and his desire to find a way to turn the synthetic light of the electric light bulb into a warmer, more natural light, like the sunlight through shoji screens he knew as a child. -http:// www. Link no longer active-

Black nun being examined for sainthood. 'She touched everybody's heart,' Homewood pastor says in recalling his encounters with Sister Thea Bowman. Sister Thea Bowman's pleas for racial understanding could move men to tears. ... Besides Sister Thea, two other black American women are being considered for sainthood: Mother Mary Lange, who started Baltimore's Oblate Sisters of Providence in 1829, and Mother Henriette DeLille, who founded an order restricted to black women in New Orleans in 1842. -more-

Devotional Singer Has Five Albums in Seven Years and a Large Corps of Devotees. yoga devotees all over the United States, Krishna Das is revered as an artist with the extraordinary ability to lift his audience as it joins him in chanting kirtans, the names of Hindu gods. "His kirtans are the closest thing to a love-in," says Laughing Lotus co-director Dana Flynn. "His presence gives you permission to be yourself. It opens your heart, it clears your mind, and you get a glimpse of our connectedness. . . . Even though chanting can seem like it's about the singing, it's really about the gathering. It's about the community of people that want to celebrate." -http:// www. Link no longer active-

Because you're definitely not on Movie Review. Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. The Film: It is fair to suggest that many carry with them recognition of their own mortality on a daily basis, but most do not possess the level of keen awareness that artist Bob Flanagan did. Born with cystic fibrosis, he was not supposed to live past six or seven (the eldest of five children, Flanagan lost two sisters to cystic fibrosis, aged six months and twenty-one years). That Flanagan managed to survive into his forties was a considerable achievement in and of itself; that he happened to do so while subjecting his body and mind to brutal degrees of self-inflicted “punishment” (as well as by the hands of others, though still dictated by him) renders the accomplishment all the more compelling. -more-

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Micah Gallery takes pride in showcasing Native art (Calgary, AB, Canada). Guided by his reverence and appreciation for an ancient culture and its arts and crafts, Michael Greenberg, owner of Micah Gallery, has become a successful purveyor of First Nations' arts and crafts. Greenberg says he's drawn to the culture for many reasons. "In Canada, we have this culture steeped in tradition and honour. "I'm fascinated with the spirituality and the sense of community and tradition -- I find it quite marvelous, but I find it unfortunate that history has proven to suppress and perhaps distort this culture. -http:// www. Link no longer active-

Orphaned at Middle Age. The Death of One's Last Parent is Among Adulthood's Most Unsettling -- If Least Recognized -- Transitions. ... Losing your last parent is a nearly universal experience; the only way to avoid it is to die first. Even so, the loss of that second parent at midlife shakes people's foundations. While we all know (if only in the very back of our minds) that the day will come when we find ourselves parentless, the few authors who have explored the phenomenon report that we're often surprised at the way we react once that day arrives. -more-

The similar essence of Ramadan and Thanksgiving. For the first time in more than 30 years, Eid-al-Fitr, today's celebration that signals the end of Ramadan, falls on the same week of Thanksgiving. At first, I see an obvious disconnect between the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the American tradition of Thanksgiving – 30 days of fasting compared to the much-loved American tradition of stuffing oneself into immobility by feasting on turkey, apple pie and other goodies. -more-

Patiala, November 24: OSHO Shailender has decided to carry on his elder brother Osho Rajneesh’s unfinished tasks. Osho Shailender was here today in connection with the opening of the new Osho centre in town. -more-

Hart, Hollander Feted For Music Therapy Work. Percussionist Mickey Hart and concert pianist Lorin Hollander will be honored at the third annual Music Has Power Awards Dec. 1 in New York. Presented by the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, the awards recognize significant accomplishments of those bringing "new understanding to the use of the power of music to awaken and heal." Remo Belli, CEO of drum maker Remo Inc., will also receive an award. -more-

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Exclusive to NDS News
New product:

The Wild Divine Project

Reviewed by
David Hodges

In my professional life, I develop e-Learning software for the web. I like to stay aware of the latest trends ine-Learning, and I have become aware that the stodgy old ideas of learning and training, based around metaphors of "the course", "learning objectives", "the assessment test", etc., are slowly giving way to computer games and simulations that provide much more interesting and immersive learning environments.

Its like in "the Matrix", where, if you need a new skill, it is downloaded into your brain, or you participate in a completely lifelike simulation.

Recently I came across a new product which is just being released that uses computer gaming to teach meditation.It is called "The Wild Divine."

The Wild Divine ( is a new type of interactive environment that combines spirituality, computer games, music, and biofeedback.

The game comes with a biofeedback controller that teaches the player to manipulate objects on screen with their thoughts and feelings.

Its a new genre that uses the computer game format to teach control of one's inner states, in the pursuit of meditative balance.

The web site says: "The Journey to Wild Divine is the reunion of the mind, body, and spirit. In this game, you will be invited on a journey to a place of timeless beauty and mystery, where you will be challenged in ways that are not common in the gaming world today. You will be asked to look within yourself for the keys necessary to find the Wild and the Divine within yourself.

On your quest, you will master a whole new purpose and discover a whole new direction. The lessons you learn will become your own unique tools to be used outside the game - at any time, in any place and in any situation. Through The Journey to Wild Divine, you will be given the opportunity to reach a level of awareness you might not have thought possible."

It will be interesting to see how well the game measures up to its marketing, but it sounds intriguing, and certainly an example of the way learning is increasingly going to be delivered. Whether it can deliver on its spiritual claims is another story.

note: I had the great pleasure of attending a poetry reading of Li-Young Lee. He is a gentle sage whose tender words are filled with pure love. mary

[entire article follows]

Li-Young Lee lectures on life and poetry Contributed by Sondra_Eby on
Friday October 31, @ 12:35AM

Chinese-American poet Li-Young Lee gave two public presentations as the 2003-04 S.A. Yoder lecturer. Lee writes as an immigrant, exploring issues of language, identity, family and faith.

Li-Young Lee, a Chinese-American poet, presented his thoughts about life, spirituality and poetry on Tuesday night as the 33rd lecturer in the S. A. Yoder lecture series. Lee also presented during Wednesday’s convocation (at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana.)

“He was very diffident. He looked as if he believed he really shouldn’t be up there, all famous, yet he wasn’t awkward. He was very gracious, almost as if he was channeling some great wisdom and beauty. He was very mystical,” said Rosanna Nafziger, a junior.

Lee’s parents—his father a personal physician to Mao Zedong, his mother part of the Chinese royal family—fled to Jakarta, Indonesia in the 1950’s where Lee was born. The family later immigrated to the U.S. to escape persecution for their Christian faith. Lee and his family are currently living in Chicago.

“I thought he had an interesting way of spiritualizing the writing process, and I liked how he said art is the enclosing, the encapsulating of an experience allowing you to realize how great the experience was,” said senior Paul Horst after listening to Lee speak at Wednesday’s convocation.

Lee said poetry is a discipline in which the poet begins “undressing experience down to its sacred identity.” His poetry, he said, arises out of being totally present in and aware of the details in each moment. “I don’t write poems; God writes poems,” said Lee.

He described a poem like a Gothic cathedral, the walls of which make one aware of the vertical space inside just as the words of a poem make one aware of the silence around the words.

Lee read seven poems in the Reith Recital Hall Tuesday evening. One was about braiding his wife’s hair, a second was about an attempt to capture a flash of insight into the mysteries of life and love and a third was about his little Chinese mother carrying him to kindergarten on her back.

When asked that evening why he became a poet, Lee said, “I tried to give up writing, but I couldn’t.”

Lee has published award-winning books of poetry including Book of My Nights, The City in Which I Love Youand Rose and a memoir titled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance.

Clive Staples Lewis, professor of English literature at Oxford and Cambridge, died on Nov. 22, 1963. In his ability to nurture the faithful, as well as seduce the skeptic, C. S. Lewis had no peer. ... Lewis was not a theologian, but he expressed even the most difficult religious concepts with bracing clarity. He was not a preacher, yet his essays and novels pierce the heart with their nobility and tenderness. The lessons found within his writings continue to resonate today. In fact, it's hard to imagine a time when the need for sane thinking about religion was more momentous. Cite an act of terror, from the sniper shootings in Washington to the bombings in Baghdad and Istanbul, and faith is close at hand. Many are now tempted to equate piety with venality — or worse — and it's here that Lewis may have the most to teach us. -more-

David Lynch, known for his nightmarish movies, wants to solve the world's problems through the gentle art of meditation. "Listen, pal, I know what you're getting at," Lynch says, the closest he comes to raising his voice. "If I told you I was enlightened while I was making Blue Velvet, you might think that was pretty strange. But I like the human struggle and I like absurdity. I also like well-lit coffee shops so that I have this happiness around me. I can go to some darker worlds and experience them mentally, and then I can come back to the coffee shop and have this happiness inside.'' -more-

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Adelaide hosts first ever Queer Spirituality Festival

Opera sung by the homeless can change lives. That’s right, the ones in cardboard boxes who opera patrons step gingerly over as they emerge from red-plush splendour, the ones who sell The Big Issue with conspicuous lack of success outside the country’s opera houses. ... Streetwise Opera is the creation of Matthew Peacock, a music journalist who got fed up with walking past homeless people and feeling helpless. “I used to mouth off at dinner parties until one of my flatmates told me to stop whining on and do something.” -more-

Chinese government's efforts to control Internet access aren't effective, expert says. China's government has long controlled the information its citizens receive through official media, but that may end as the Internet burrows deeper into the fast-changing communist country, a Chinese Internet expert says. "I won't say China is democratic, but you no longer can control information," says Guo Liang. -more-

The way life is ordered: Japan vs. India. The way the Japanese order their life is a reflection of their universe; it is an ideal that is poles apart from the Indian way of doing things. Indians are naturally a physically expressive, anarchic people. Chaos is second nature to us. A strong individual expression takes precedence over sense of order or community. Stand at an Indian street corner and you’ll see what I mean. Despite traffic signals, underpasses and flyovers, traffic and pedestrians are moving any which way, oblivious to lights and dividers, taking the shortest cut from point A to point B. Wrappers, plastic bags and cigarettes are being chucked all over, garbage piles being our form of public decoration. Japanese pedestrians will wait patiently for the lights to change even to cross an empty zebra crossing. Smokers will walk to far corners to find a public ashtray. If a train is half a minute late announcements will be made in profuse apology. -www. no longer active-

US mulls North Korea asylum bill. The US will offer asylum or refugee status to North Koreans fleeing persecution in their Stalinist homeland if a new bill passes Congress. Americans may also be encouraged to adopt young North Koreans under The
North Korea Freedom Act, which is seen by some as a way to unleash destabilising refugee flows that could trigger the collapse of the secretive state. -
http:// - link no longer working -- On North Korea, (Michael)Young said that religious freedom did not exist and "what little religious activity that is permitted by the government is apparently staged for foreign visitors". North Koreans were "perhaps the least free on earth, barely surviving under a totalitarian regime," he claimed. -more-

Friday, November 21, 2003

"I know when I'm finished doing a piece it makes sense to me much in the way writing in a journal would." Faith and eternity are not words typically associated with textiles, but both are themes present throughout much of local artist Carinne Clendaniel's work with fabric. -more-

John Coburn, 78, artist, "All art is about man's spirit. All art is spiritual." Coburn's art - especially his late work - is like hearing the voice of the vast, ancient continent. The early work is awash with the joy of the landscape; the late, with a recognition of its spiritual, emotional charge. -more-

Movie review: Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion. As Chinese forces swept through Lhasa to enforce a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests against their occupation, a police station where Buddhist monks were detained caught fire. Tenzin, a monk himself, walked through a wall of flame to bring out prisoners, and emerged with seared skin literally dripping off his arms. Instead of passing out, as any sane, weaker human would have done, Tenzin exhorted the crowd to save more prisoners and continue the protests; after rallying the downtrodden city of pacifists, Tenzin was arrested, tortured and killed by the Chinese. Scenes like these, alternately inspiring and horrifying, infuse the documentary "Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion" with a magical intensity worthy of its subject, the larger-than-life mountain kingdom that has long acted as the soul of a superficial planet. -more-

Muslims seek understanding. It is rare to see Muslims, Jews and Christians together in a place of worship, much less eating dinner together. But UNM's Muslim Student Association, together with the Islamic Center of New Mexico, have teamed up to bring the community together to help people better understand each other, all while raising money for a local charity. www. (link no longer working)

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The Syncretism of Tai Chi and Bach. "Moon Water" is not about meditation but is a meditation in itself. Mr. Lin has accomplished what creative artists rarely succeed in doing today: challenging the audience with a work unlike any other. Exquisitely and subtly, the entire spectacle on Tuesday night evoked water and moonlight as symbols of illusion. Outwardly all was slow: the extraordinary fluidity of the 18 magnificent dancers, reflected in the mirrored panels behind or above them, and the even more amazing slow tempos of the accompanying recordings by Mischa Maisky as he plays nine selections from Bach's cello suites. -more-

"Men who come to us are dead men walking," said Bobbett, 39. "Addiction has sucked the very life out of them and their families."... Deep in the woods five miles north of Bloomington, a dozen men, their lives in shambles, are trying to walk out of the darkness of addiction. ... Hebron bills itself as a "spiritual boot camp," where the hard daily work of digging trenches, hauling logs and making wood products is often easier than the spiritual transformation required of the men. -more-

PEAPACK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 20, 2003--Award-winning writer and noted marketing executive Donna Baier Stein announced today that TIFERET: A JOURNAL OF SPIRITUAL LITERATURE will launch its inaugural issue in January 2004, with international distribution. Featuring the work of celebrated writers, poets, and philosophers, this bi-annual publication will focus on the formerly underserved community of readers whose interests encompass the manifestations of spirit across a wide variety of literary forms. "We are providing a unique resource that will fill the gaps other publications and journals have not addressed," said Stein. "By articulating the connection between spirituality and literature we hope to create a magazine meeting place where the relationship between the physical and spiritual worlds can be explored by some of the best writers and thinkers of our time." -more-

Celebrating the virtues of wine. In ancient society, wine was considered a spiritual beverage. It made people feel the existence of God, and at the same time its red color symbolized blood and life. When men got drunk, it was not shameful. Naturally, a festival for Dionysus, the god of wine, was wild and lascivious. On the other hand, Romans perceived drinking by women as indicating infidelity and banned the practice. Wine was also a sacred offering to God. The ancients dedicated wine on altars, and every festival began with a glass of wine. -more-

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Today’s spa is a center for healing and nourishing mind, body, and spirit. People go to spas for fitness, stress management, peace of mind, pampering and pleasure, and health and wellness. Spas offer a wide variety of techniques and services - traditional and modern, from the East and from the West - to meet the diverse needs of their clients: Swedish, Japanese Shiatsu, and Thai massage, European facials, acupuncture, Dead Sea salt scrubs, Moor mud wraps, thalassotherapy, aromatherapy, reflexology, microdermabrasion, endermologie, reiki, aura imaging, watsu, rasul, hypnotherapy, classes in nutrition, meditation, journaling, yoga and Tai Chi, state-of-the-art fitness centers with personal trainers, and much more. -more-

JFK conspiracy theories just don't stand up.

Monday, November 17, 2003

"The labyrinth is not a New Age tool, it's a Middle Ages tool." There are ancient labyrinths in India, Russia and all over Europe, including the Scilly Isles and the U.K. In the States there is an explosion of interest, with the most famous labyrinth in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. "A labyrinth is not a maze," Kathryn explains. "It is simply a pathway that twists and turns in a spiral; you make your way at your own speed to the center, rest and then return by the same route, passing other walkers along the way. "It's not designed to make you lose your way, but find your way. There's no right or wrong way; no tricks or dead ends. Just walk with an open mind and an open heart." -more-

A very rare and special event is shaping up to take place in Malaysia: the visit of His Holiness Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, teacher of the Dalai Lama himself. Today, Trulshik Rinpoche, 79, is a “guru among gurus”, and widely respected even by the heads of the Gelug, Sakya and Kagyu traditions. “Outwardly, the Dalai Lama (who is of the Gelug tradition) may be the political and spiritual head of Tibet, but privately, he regards Trulshik Rinpoche as his teacher. As the spiritual guru for the Dalai Lama, Trulshik Rinpoche is one of the rare few who can impart empowerment to the Dalai Lama,'' explains Tan. ... In Buddhism, it is important for one to know who the teacher is. You cannot just download stuff from the Internet and start practising. You have to have a guru with the right lineage... ."-more-

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Tom Brown started to learn how to survive when he was seven years old. It was then that he met Stalking Wolf, a Native American who lived in the wilderness of New Jersey's Pine Barrens where Brown grew up. Stalking Wolf taught Brown much of what he knows about nature and how to live with it and learn from it. ... "Nothing can move in nature without disturbing something else," Brown said. When you learn what to look for, there is nothing you can't learn about a person or an animal through their tracks, he said. -more-

Friday, November 14, 2003

Monastery in the clouds. There is a real peace about ski mountaineer Ptor Spricenieks. The mountains are his monastery, and the place where life becomes vibrant because the risk of losing his life is great. -more-

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Is war our biological destiny? In these days of hidebound militarism and round-robin carnage, when even that beloved ambassador of peace, the Dalai Lama, says it may be necessary to counter terrorism with violence, it's fair to ask: Is humanity doomed? Are we born for the battlefield — congenitally, hormonally incapable of putting war behind us? Is there no alternative to the bullet-riddled trapdoor, short of mass sedation or a Marshall Plan for our DNA? ... Dr. Frans de Waal, a primatologist and professor of psychology at Emory University, points out that a different species of chimpanzee, the bonobo, chooses love over war, using a tantric array of sexual acts to resolve any social problems that arise. Serious bonobo combat is rare, and the male-to-female ratio is, accordingly, 1:1. -more-

Movie masterpiece. Historical film commands attention. By BOB CAMPBELL NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE As he prepared "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," director Peter Weir must have reviewed a century's worth of films about war under sail and reached a useful conclusion: None of them got it right. That opened up a clear sea lane. This first-rank filmmaker gets the matter about as right as it could conceivably be gotten. He has spliced Patrick O'Brian's revered sea novels into a boldly outlined, brilliantly detailed film o' war. -more-

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Can religion improve health? While the debate rages in journals and medical schools, more patients ask for doctors’ prayers. On a quiet saturday afternoon, Ming He, a fourth-year medical student in Dallas, came across a man dying in the VA Hospital. Suffering from a rare cancer and hooked up to an oxygen tank, the man, an Orthodox Jew, could barely breathe, let alone speak. There were no friends or relatives by his bed to comfort him. When the young student walked into his room, the man looked at her and said, “Now that I’m dying, I realize that I never really learned how to live.” Ming He, 26, had no idea how to respond. -more-

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The Meatrix (flash movie). The lie we tell ourselves about where our food comes from.

Fire-walkers trample fears. Burkan described fire-walking as a form of empowerment. "The fire-walk is a metaphor. It's a symbol for anything that stimulates fear in you," he explained, adding that the impact lasts a lifetime. "You're taking a step through the membrane of fear." -more-

Book review: “Embracing the Witch and the Goddess – feminist ritual makers in New Zealand.” The book traces the emergence and history of feminist witchcraft, establishes links with the contemporary Goddess movement and covers the development of feminist witchcraft in New Zealand. It explores the growing attraction of witchcraft and in a chapter entitled “What Witches do” gives a fascinating insight into the meaning of rituals and the symbols that are an integral part of witchcraft. -more-

What is the Matrix trilogy? Is it a story about ‘artificial humanity’ or ‘artificial spirituality’? Is it a sci-fi movie or a fantasy movie? Is Neo the cyber-messiah or just another control device of the Matrix? Ultimately, the trilogy is all about how you choose to perceive it. -more-

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Post-Zionism and Post-humanism. Many Israelis are worried about the effort to supersede the Zionist story and the Jewish state with the post-modern "state of all its citizens." Mankind as a whole is facing a similar phenomenon. There is a whole culture of what used to be called "futurists" – people who predict and then work to bring about an "ideal" future, and who are retelling the human story in the process. Among the most notable are Alvin Toffler and Ray Kurzweil. Toffler has written of a "fourth wave" in which humans will, thanks to multiple advances in technology, "transition" themselves into "posthumans." -more-

Today is Gurupurab, 534th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. During his travels, Guru Nanak preferred to stay with the less privileged and the poorer people who worked hard and honestly to earn their livelihood. "Kirat karni, vand chhakna te nam japna" — to earn one's living by honest labour, to share one's earnings and to meditate on God's name — was the essence of Guru Nanak's teachings. -more-

Cliff Young, the laconic potato farmer famous for his gumboots and his long-distance running, died this week. Michael McGirr remembers the deeds of a simple man. The years after the race were never going to be easy for Young. The media fed off him voraciously. He was perfect fodder: he was 61, still lived at home with his mother and was a virgin to boot. He ate out of tins and drank out of vegemite jars. No consultant could manufacture his simplicity, nor his authenticity. He was an unscripted character who made the whole country stop and think twice about life's parameters. He offered homespun wisdom. -more-

Romanian Nun Says Icons Are Living Prayers. For Mother Eliseea prayer is more than conversation with God. It is a way of life that is all consuming and is expressed in her work. As an icon writer, Mother Eliseea says her prayer is expressed in the icons she authors. ... "I saw that prayer accomplishes everything and without true prayer nothing can be done," she said. "An icon must be alive. It is a living prayer. An icon without prayer is like a body without a soul." -more-

Saturday, November 8, 2003

Faces of the Fallen. U.S. fatalities in Iraq.

Friday, November 7, 2003

"Spirit to Heal." Two local doctors have taken a leap of faith by combining medicine and spirituality to treat cancer patients. The book teaches people that they are not alone. "Everyone goes through a lot of those same changes like fear, anxiety," he said. "The book goes through a number of these things and emphasizes ways to help, such as support groups, family members and being in touch with their own spirituality. That's really the basic thing that your spiritual core provides you with a tremendous power and resources of strength, hope and courage to combat all these things." -more-

The Simplicity Movement. Simplicity does ask people to contemplate facts. Facts such as the typical land required to support the American lifestyle is 24 acres. The world only has enough for 5 acres per person. Where is the rest coming from? Facts such as people who spend all their time thinking about success actually score lower on life satisfactions tests. Facts such as the best predicator of the well-being of a country is the gap between the rich and the poor. The United States now has the largest gap in the industrialized world. Facts such as depression is the #2 health problem in the US? -more-

"The Invisible Thread: Buddhist Spirit in Contemporary Art." To be honest, I'm surprised at how well this exhibition turned out, given the fact that it came together on a wing and a prayer. It is one of the best things I have seen at Snug Harbor's Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. ... As the Buddha himself implied, however, the personal and the political are inseparable. The only model for an ethical life he had to offer was his own stripped-down life, and he encouraged others to imitate it so they, too, might become Buddhas — awakened beings — in a process of self-transformation that, almost accidentally, generated universal beneficence. -more-

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

The spring 2003 issue of Constellation, the group's on-line journal, featured six essays in response to the question: "How do you experience God in the expressions of your sexuality?" The series is not for the faint-hearted. Identified only by initials, the writers gush about how sexuality and spirituality come together in their lives. "E.K." offers that "life is an erotic journey. One only has to look around to find the unabashed sexuality of nature. I learned from that experience how my body brings in the world regardless of my appearance or health or age or condition. My body is in constant communication with God, and God with it." -more-

Modern people are eager to discredit every kind of religious authority, because by doing so they free themselves from every kind of binding sexual morality. ... Modern secular culture is fundamentally imperialistic, meaning that, despite all its talk about "tolerance," it cannot tolerate a genuine diversity of beliefs. The Enlightenment critics of Christianity were at least honest in setting forth the issues. But the critics of our own day do not even concede that orthodox believers are truly religious. Instead the New Age phenomenon has appropriated for itself the "true" meaning of all religions and claims to understand those faiths better than the faithful do. -more-

Revolutions is the final part in the Matrix science fiction film trilogy, which has proved a global hit. Towards the end of The Matrix Revolutions, one of the film's minor characters expresses precisely what many in the audience are feeling. "It doesn't make any sense," he says. And he is right. The third and final part of the Matrix trilogy concludes in a blaze of obfuscatory special effects, leaving the audience dazed and dulled. No-one really expects sequels to be better than the original, but Matrix Revolutions is a crushing disappointment in almost every way. -more-

Companion Site for NOVA's "Magnetic Storm" Launches. “Magnetic Storm” airs on NOVA Tuesday, November 18, 2003 at 8PM ET on PBS. Visit the Companion NOVA Web Site at

Site Launches To Help Americans Make Move To France. is a membership based Web site providing "How to Move There" information to English-speaking Francophiles who yearn for higher quality of life . Interest among Britons and Americans in moving to France to enjoy a simpler, slower and better way of life has never been higher, according to Liesa Blond, who made the move to France from San Antonio, Texas with her six children in May, 2000.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Life and teachings of Confucius the focus of new Paris exhibit. A poor man of noble parentage, politician, scholar and myth: many recognize the name Confucius or can rattle off one of his wise sayings, but the Chinese philosopher remains an enigma in the West. His life and teachings are the focus of ‘Confucius and the Dawn of Chinese Humanism’, an exhibition that opened this week at Paris’s Guimet museum of Asian art, organized as part of a year-long celebration of Chinese culture in France. -more-

Danny Stewart, Bartender-poet, revels in self-expression and personal growth., Never exceptional at anything, Stewart was excited to discover his fourth grade teacher’s praise for his writing. Although he had poor punctuation and grammar, his instructor asked him to keep writing. “This is the closest I’ve ever come to being good at something,” he says, “ … I figured out that when I write things down, people paid attention.” ... “It’s all about passion, that’s what art is.” -more-

The "Matrix" trilogy, which comes to an apparent conclusion with the opening tomorrow of "The Matrix Revolutions," presents a veritable smorgasbord of religious references that viewers have picked over since the original's 1999 release. ... If "The Matrix" draws from a variety of faiths, what will it put back in? Perhaps, scholars suggest, it's a recognition of the growing trend in blending traditions and beliefs. Theologians have been tracking the growth of what might be termed "homemade theology," in which individuals custom-fit personal belief systems from inside and outside the confines of the traditional church, mosque or temple. To them, there is not one answer. -more-

Neale Donald Walsch. Proposing a new sense of spirituality, expansion of beliefs, Walsch called on audience members to stand up for what they believe in, for if their hearts call out to them, it must be truth it is calling out for. “Take this truth and this message and do not close your mind,” Walsch implored. “This is a civil rights movement of the soul; be a messenger of the new spirituality.” http://news. (link no longer working)

New Meditation Center in Pittsburgh, USA. The Woodlands Foundation broke ground Monday on a 2,000-square-foot meditation center in which architect Tasso Katselas incorporated what he sees as important elements of spirituality: earth, water, fire and sky. The circular center will have an outdoor plaza, a reflecting pool, a fireplace visible from inside and outside, and a sloped ceiling filled with skylights. "My hope is that this space stimulates daydreaming, pondering, love, hope and spirit," Katselas said of the center for the Woodlands, a year-round recreational facility for children and adults who have disabilities and chronic illnesses. -more-

Monday, November 3, 2003

What does it mean to be me? It is a riddle that still foxes scientists – where in the brain our sense of self is born. Neuroscience reveals that the mental processes underlying our sense of self - feelings, thoughts, memories - are scattered through different zones of the brain. There is no special point of convergence, no inner sanctum of the ego. And neurological case studies reveal "the self" to be multifaceted and fragile. To paraphrase the science writer John McCrone, we are all just a stumble or a burst blood vessel away from being someone else. -more-

My Life as an Apple Tree. The trick, she believes, is to take ownership of who you really are and to say: "I am ..." What qualifies an apple tree to make apples? Would you ever question an apple tree about its right to make apples and bring them to the world? Does an apple tree feel more worthy than the orange trees or the thorn trees?" she asks. Whatever the challenges, and even if you lost every possession, you'd still be an apple tree, she says. -more-

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Herbert Benson, MD, a cardiologist who helped pioneer the field of mind/body medicine, will present "Emerging Issues of Mind and Spirituality" at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) on Monday, November 3 at 6:30 pm. The event launches the school's new forum on Psychology and Spirituality, an initiative designed to explore and appreciate the importance of spirituality and religion in people's lives. -more-

NEW DELHI: With spiritual therapy proving to be an attractive proposition for foreign travellers, the ministry of tourism and culture has decided to capitalise on the particular theme in its new advertising campaign released in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East recently. -more-

On Oct. 15 the President's Council on Bioethics handed in a lengthy report on happiness. At first glance it may seem a strange topic for this body established by President George W. Bush. In his introductory letter, council president Leon Kass explains that biotechnology promises to make people "look younger, perform better, feel happier, or become more 'perfect.'" Kass then warns that the meaning of human life should not be reduced to medical terms. Rather, he argues, our enjoyment of the benefits of biotechnology must be seen also in psychic, moral and spiritual terms. Biotechnology, says the report, offers a wide variety of processes and products that offer the potential to alter and, to a degree, to control the phenomena of life, both in nonhuman and human forms. However, as with other technologies, means and ends are readily detached from one another, the report warns. It argues for a careful consideration about what kind of "improvements" we wish for the human species. -more-

Saturday, November 1, 2003

A sacred place. Squamish, B.C., Canada. Whatever your beliefs about spirituality, no one can discount the effect that the floods have had on our consciousness: we are all more connected and aware of our natural environment. The clouds cast heavier shadows, the wind howls more menacingly and the rain feels more oppressive. Conversely, the sun also feels warmer, the forests more vibrant and the ground a little more hospitable. But aside from the increased reverence for the power of nature, the tragedy has also revealed the compassion of neighbours, the strength of a community and the spirit of family and perseverance. What else would you expect to find in a sacred place? -more-

Millions Celebrate Most Spectacular Planetary Alignment in 6,000 Years - November 8/9, 2003 "The Harmonic Concordance" A phenomenal astrological alignment takes place around the world on November 8/9, 2003, and millions of people are joining together in prayer and meditation to attune themselves to this once in a lifetime event. ...this is a wonderful, positive time for all those of us who wish to make our world a better place. We can tune into and use the high planetary energies of this time through prayer, meditation, and service to others. It is a great idea to visit the sacred areas of our world to attune yourself to Nature and give appreciation for the Mother Earth. In this way we are cooperating with the beauty and majesty of the cosmos, and so helping to raise the collective consciousness of mankind. -more-

Friday, October 31, 2003

Hailing from Brooklyn, The Desert Fathers has created something of an aura about themselves, both in their live shows and now on their first album. The album is rife with heavy spiritual tones with little, if any, irony to them. From song titles like "Agnus Dei," "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," and "Life After Life Everlasting," it becomes clear that these guys are not a band to be taken lightly. -more-

The founder of The Body Shop, Dame Anita Roddick, pulled no punches at a business presentation in Cape Town yesterday, slamming brand marketing and accusing major retailers of being terrified of individuality. ... People are irritated with the way the big brands are taking over public space, not just on billboards, but in their heads. "The best marketing strategy is the one your competition is unwilling or unable to follow." The retail world worshipped ordinary things and appeared to be in awe of individuality and new initiatives, but in practice they were terrified of them. -more-

Close to Grace: The Physics of Silent Transmission, Russell Targ, and Jane Katra, Ph.D. A laser pioneer explores how the coherent light of a laser beam may helpexplain the joy experienced in the presence of a saint or a sage. -more-

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Facing chronic illnesses with hope. Grace Casselman's Knocked Off My Knees is a good source of education for someone diagnosed with lupus but, more importantly, it is a personal story which speaks to the heart and soul of the human condition when faced with a chronic or terminal illness. -more-

Meditation, as practiced by the 10 Tibetan Buddhist monks visiting IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) this week, provides "stability and calmness" and opens the potential of one's mind, said Eleanor Mannikka, Monday's Six O'Clock Series speaker. "What powers your behavior is your mind," said Mannikka, an IUP art professor and 25-year practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. "All the minds that human beings have are the most powerful tools in the universe. Without meditation you're using a small fraction of your mind." -more-

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Art Review (London). Bill Viola uses modern technology to explore the age-old mysteries of faith, life and death, and his new exhibition in London is the National Gallery's first solo show by a video artist. ... Rippling, Monet-like reflections, sub-aqueous gloom penetrated by rays of sun - these have become abiding spiritual metaphors in his work. Metaphors, it emerges as one listens to him, for just about everything - the universe, human experience, the Hindu veil of Maya (or illusion). Water, he points out, is the archetypal image-bearing medium - before glass, before painting, photography or film, prehistoric man looked into water and saw his own face. ... "water by nature is seldom still and so the images you see in it are distortions. The Buddhists call this 'the World of Appearances'. Like the images on the walls of Plato's cave, we only see the reflection, not the actual thing itself." -more-

Scientists Uncover the Peacock's Most Colorful Secrets. In fact, most often colors in nature are caused by pigments, like the pigments in paint. When light shines on a pigment, the pigment produces the color red, for example, by absorbing all the light except for the red light. That light is reflected back to the eye, which then sees a red color. In contrast, in peacock feathers, it is the precise structural array of melanin rods in keratin that creates different colors, with one array reflecting back yellow light, for example, and a slightly different arrangement reflecting back blue light. -more-

Friday, October 24, 2003

Two new books explore the legacy of the 1960's spiritual revolution and they couldn't have more disparate conclusions. The 1960s generated plenty of headlines about long hair, loud music, sexual experimentation, protest movements and mind-expanding drugs. Fewer stories explained how a new generation of believers transformed America's spiritual landscape. Now, new books by a San Francisco journalist and a Connecticut scholar illuminate the two major streams of the 1960s spiritual revolution: the emergence of an alternative spirituality counterculture with a dizzying succession of novel gurus, revelations and rituals; and the dogged perseverance of established, mainstream religious institutions. -more-

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Viewing death in a new way is essential. In terminal illnesses, spiritual needs often outweigh bodily. In July, an article in the British Medical Journal, titled A Healthy View of Dying, stated that spiritual pain often goes completely unrecognized in dying patients, especially those in nursing homes. The article, written by a rabbi, took the view that Western society has been unable to come to terms with the reality of death. Attitudes need to change, the writer argued, so that we're more aware of what constitutes a healthy death, with spiritual support being essential. -more-

World’s Oldest Man Dies. A man believed to be the world’s oldest man has died at the age of 122 in eastern Cambodia. Most Cambodians have no birth certificates, but friends of chain smoker Sek Yi in the village of Tuk Young claim he was born in 1881. -more-

Movie Review: Brother Bear. In "Brother Bear," Disney returns to familiar thematic waters, touching on coming-of-age issues and the emotional devastation caused by a parent's death. Based on traditional Native American folklore, the transformation tale is underpinned by an almost Franciscan spirituality which imparts a strong message about the interconnectedness of all living things, reminding us of our responsibility to live in harmony with the rest of God's creation. -www.">link no longer working-

Lowering The Veil. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture plays a critical role in helping Muslim countries connect to the West. Yet the most amazing transformation at Chehel Sutun occurs when one steps inside, and the protean palace becomes as intimate and elegant as a silken desert tent. "Here there is architecture and God together," says Hossein Hafezafghorani, a 20-year-old first-year architecture student in Isfahan, leaning against one of the columns. "Here I feel powerful, and proud of my country and its history. Here there is everything an architect needs to understand: these walls, these windows, the way you walk through the space. I still come here often to think, and look at my watch to see that five hours have passed." -more-

Music Review. Ten New Songs, by Leonard Cohen. What is it about the 60s — the age range, not the era — that’s so invigorating lately? For some of the long-distance runners of popular music, these seem to be the best of times. Bob Dylan, who joined the sexagenarian set this year, just released an album that finds him creatively as strong as he’s ever been. Neil Diamond (60) and Paul Simon (60) are still out there. Now it’s time to welcome back another old favorite: Leonard Cohen. -more-

Monday, October 20, 2003

Book Review: Natural Mystics: A Spiral Journey To Our Hidden Identity. The roots of all world religions began in nature. From Jesus´ birth amid the animals of the manger to Buddha´s 49-day stint underneath the Bo Tree and Muhammad´s visits to a desert cave for fasting and solitude, the origins of spirituality are intertwined with the natural world. Dr. William Taegel, a Plainview native and practicing psychotherapist and spiritual teacher, questions how cathedrals or synagogues could ever exceed the tranquility and spirituality of a stately grove of Redwood trees. He believes that one of the fundamental reasons for our current suffering and ailments is our alienation from Nature. -more-

Sunday, October 19, 2003

A nation's soul is a mysterious thing, by Vaclav Havel. Just recently, friends of mine sent me a couple of photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi. The nonviolent struggle of this woman for her fellow citizens' freedom dwells in my soul as a stark reminder of our struggles against totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. ... Detaining and repressing people cannot change the soul of a nation. It may dampen it and disguise the reality outwardly, but history has repeatedly taught us the lesson that change often arrives unexpectedly. "To talk about change is not enough; change must happen," said Suu Kyi during a tour among her people. -more-

Lawrence (Kansas) resident gets place of his own after a year on streets. "I want to help people, I want to volunteer at the Drop-In Center, but I don't ever want to go back to being homeless," he said. He added, "I have goals now. I want to take my time, get squared away here, and start working on my GED. And then some day, I'd like to get a job working on computers. You know why? When a computer argues with you, there's a reason; when people argue with you, a lot of times there isn't." -more-

Friday, October 17, 2003

Mother Teresa's surprising secret: Exemplar of saintliness often felt abandoned by God. While bleak statements did not predominate in Mother Teresa's private writings, they occurred repeatedly: 5 ``I am told God lives in me _ and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,'' she wrote. At another point: ``I want God with all the power of my soul _ and yet between us there is terrible separation.'' And again"And this one remarkable cry from the heart: ``I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.'' -www1 - link no longer active.

"Bahrain has become a centre of ideological dialogues between the Muslims and also of dialogues between various cultures," declared His Majesty King Hamad in his address to parliament on Saturday. The predominately-Muslim country, where the Shiites constitute a relative majority over the other half of their co-religionists; the Sunnis, also has very small Christian and Jewish indigenous minorities- something unheard of in other Gulf countries. ... The island has always been known for its tolerance. And unlike similar multi-religious countries like Lebanon, India, Pakistan or Rwanda, Bahrain has never witnessed sectarian conflicts. -more-

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Poet Joy Alford. "My poetry encompasses all aspects of what I consider a meaningful life," Alford said. For her, that means being an activist who reaches people through spirituality and social consciousness, she said. -more-

Six important manuscripts by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were revealed today, showing a new side to the creator of Sherlock Holmes. ... The science fiction, The Maracot Deep, first published in 1927, shows a more mature writer at work and Conan Doyle’s emerging spiritual side. Mr Venning said the novel not only showed “extraordinary imagination” but predicted later science fiction of the early 20th century such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. -more-

Poet Jane Hirshfield seeks truths hidden within everyday experiences. A while ago, a friend of critically acclaimed American poet Jane Hirshfield informed her that he'd just been asked to write a book on Buddhism -- and had a problem. ... "He said, 'I don't know how I'm going to do it. They've only given me 40,000 words,' " "And I said, 'Forty thousand words? My goodness! That's either way too few or way too many. ... You only need seven.' And he said, 'What are the seven?' And I said, 'Everything changes. Everything is connected. Pay attention.' " -http:// www. Link no longer active-

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Bali uses its art, theater to heal the terror of bombings. A year ago today, more than 200 people were killed in the terrorist attack by Islamic radicals. In other parts of the globe a similar assault might have led to ethnic retaliation, but the Balinese, living on the only Hindu island in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, answered with art. ... In traditional Balinese mythology, an era marked by death and violence is referred to as "Kali Yuga" or "the time of Kali," a reference to the Hindu deity of destruction. Many Balinese performers have invoked Kali Yuga as a metaphor for the chaos brought on by the bombings. This context has encouraged the Balinese to forgo violent acts of revenge and respond instead with religious offerings designed to restore spiritual harmony to the universe. -more-

The Monastery Cookbook. Dogen — who is credited for bringing zen from China to Japan in the 13th century— wrote "Tenzo Kyokun (Instructions for the Cook)," as both a guide to cooking for the monastery community and for being "cooked" as a student of zen. That’s why monasteries and Buddhist retreats make kitchen detail a part of the zen experience: The work of chopping carrots, measuring rice and paying attention to the frying pan are on the same path as all that time perched on a round cushion. "Working in the kitchen is a transformative experience for some people," Huber said. "They’re working in silence with each person being part of a team, but left to themselves, to their senses, but all of this in a community environment." -more-

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The whirling Sufi can leave Western audiences in hypnotic rapture. What do Western audiences get out of seeing the dervishes? Talu doesn't know. "But we see people still there afterwards. They say they felt a divine power. People cry, shout or sit mesmerised. It can be electrifying. Sometimes, in concert, we reach a state where we start crying." -more-

The Giving Game. HGL, Inc. (Passport to Wellness) announces the launch of, a fun, FREE, and innovative way to spread kind acts and track their positive chain reaction via the Web site. "The concept is amazingly simple," explains the Giving Game's founder, Brien Moakley. "Each of us has a natural propensity to imagine, to act, to receive and to give. The Giving Game helps foster more kindness in the world. Watching it grow is fun, fascinating, and fulfilling." URL: http:// (link no longer working)

Monday, October 13, 2003

What Would Buddha Do?Why Won't the Dalai Lama Pick a Fight? ..."given his intelligence and enormous sense of compassion, why doesn't the Dalai Lama question the leader of the free world about the downside of globalization? About "Star Wars II" and the Bush administration's flagrant disregard of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? About the unlawful attack on Iraq? Civilian body counts? Why doesn't he even pose such questions rhetorically in the media? Could it really be that this esteemed 68-year-old monk is so focused on inner change (and the external environment as it pertains to scientific phenomena) that he hasn't done his homework on the big political issues? When it comes to geopolitical and global economic matters, is the Dalai Lama living in peaceful ignorance in the suburbs of reality? -www.">link no longer working-

Dr Uma Deavi treats some of the poorest people in the world in Coimbatore, India. “I longed to go back to India. I could have stayed in private practice and bought a luxury car, but I felt all that was unnecessary. "My parents didn’t want me to go, but I later asked myself: what do I do with my talent? Do I use it to make myself rich, or make someone else better?” -more-

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Fifty years after his death, Hilaire Belloc's views on the role of Christianity in Europe and the underlying mission of Islam still hold much relevance today. Father Schall: Belloc was quite clear that it was spiritual forces that ultimately moved the world. The social sciences never understand such sources and have to rely on a reductionist methodology that invariably excludes such forces as they cannot be measured by their methods. Belloc was a historian who did not think that history had to happen the way it did. He knows how it did happen. He did not think the English Reformation needed to have happened or to have happened the way it did. History is not "determined." Probably the great fruit of Belloc's sense of history is the fact that the events that appear on the record of history are filled with human choices and indeed human sins. The effect of this approach is to make us attentive to the spiritual forces that cause men to act or not to act the way they do. -more-

Movie review/screening (Sydney, AU). This experience of people being united by rhythm and dance is celebrated in a new documentary, Dances of Ecstasy, to be launched in Sydney tomorrow. Filmmakers Michelle Mahrer and Nicole Ma spent two years travelling the world in search of traditional and modern rituals in which people reach an altered state through dance. ... Spirituality is a common thread among the documentary's subjects. A Sufi dervish says: "When I am whirling I become one with God." Shaman healer Kim Kum Hwa says: "I journey into the spirit world to make contact with ancestral beings who will guide and heal us." -more-

An interview with The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. I was never interested in how big our company could grow, but how brave we could be. The investment bankers talked about profits, but we talked about principles. It all comes down to where you put your material resources and energy. -more-

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Malkani calls for global debate on vegetarianism. The Lt Governor of Pondicherry K R Malkani has called for a worldwide debate to promote vegetarianism. Speaking at the World Vegetarian Day celebrations here yesterday, he said large sections of people did not know the importance of vegetarian food and preferred non-vegetarian food which led to various diseases. He said the biggest killer of human beings next to tobacco was meat. At the moment, vegetarianism is not growing fast and organisations like the Indian Vegetarian Congress should propagate its importance worldwide in association with the World Health Organisation. -http:// newstodaynet. com/08oct/rf9.htm- link no longer working.

Strangers find the odd free book. An Internet service called BookCrossing encourages readers to leave books where others can find them. At 6 p.m. on a quiet Wednesday night, a copy of "Siddhartha" leaned against the doorway of the Reynolds School District office. A fluorescent note on the front of the book read, "I'm not lost. Read me." It was a board meeting night, and Renee Sessler picked up the book. "It would be good for me to read this," said the board chairwoman, as she tucked Hermann Hesse's book about the search for the meaning of life onto her stack of school board notes. The book had been discreetly and carefully placed where someone was bound to come across it. Inside the front cover of the book was a message that asked the finder to read it and post any thoughts about it at

B'klyn's 'Kosher Kid' Shines in Boxing Ring. Without fail, Salita, who lives a couple of blocks away in a two-family home, comes to the Chabad every day, placing a yarmulke atop his head, reciting the Shma and wrapping the phylacteries - thin leather straps inscribed with Hebrew quotations - around his left arm. For 25 to 30 minutes, he prays silently, turning his attention away from blood sport and toward God. "I am not a Jewish boxer," he says. "One has nothing to do with the other. I am a Jew. Then, a boxer. In that order." ... Perhaps most impressive, Salita has been able to merge two cultures with little in common. Though Rabbi Liberov calls boxing "trivial and unimportant," he slyly admits to taking pride in seeing one of his people spread the word of Judaism through sport. -more-

Forgiveness a factor in blood pressure. Study connects BP to race and income. Forgiveness is linked to low blood pressure and, first study connecting forgiveness and health to survey racially and socio-economically diverse individuals shows that, for low socio-economic status Blacks, forgiveness is linked to low blood pressure and low levels of the stress hormone cortisol. -more-

Saturday, October 4, 2003

Drenched in history: scenic Senzoku Pond. By SUMIKO ENBUTSU. The 1830s woodblock print shown here depicts Senzoku Pond in a southwestern suburb of Edo that is now part of Ota Ward, Tokyo. A sudden rain falls fast, ruffling the surface of the pond.
While those who are prepared for changeable weather, clad in raincoats or wearing hats, pace away undisturbed, less fortunate monks and porters take refuge in a thatched tea house, looking up nervously at the sky. -

What is behind a very popular television show on the Nigerian condition? "There is no secret. Just a disposition to doing my best at everything I try. I did not plan to host the show for so long, just to show the way. I probably, if I have my way will not be hosting it after three years. However, it all flows from a view of myself as a man whose strengths consist mainly of things like, a heart of love, good cheer, and a desire to continue to learn. A conviction that man is basically good, but that poor culture and laziness to truly understand the essence of their humanity have led some to trust so much in very ephemeral things like power and how to use it, sometimes positively to form culture for good, but, many times, negatively in terms of what they perceive as self-love, thus robbing society of progress". -more-

Book Review: SAKE & SATORI: Asian Journals -- Japan, by Joseph Campbell. Japan "has understood better than modern India the final import of the Indian doctrine of nonduality. The Indian psyche is locked in duality. . . . The Japanese, on the other hand, understand how to rock with the waves. [sic]. The relative world is relative and the transcendent, transcendent." -more-

On visualization and vision during the Days of Awe, By Toby Klein Greenwald. And then I realized that that is what G-d wants from us. To open our palms and say, "We are in Your hands. If we thought we had some control over this world, we were wrong. We do our best, but at the end of the day, we don't have control over our children's behavior, or the stock market, or the evil that someone else is committed to perpetrating." This is the message of the words that follow the shofar blowing - that we are ultimately dependent on G-d. -more-

Indians increasingly nourish their souls by watching devotional television channels. “The growth of devotional channels is primarily due to the awareness towards spiritualism and meditation across the globe. More and more people are seeking solace and tranquility in their daily lives through such mediums. Even corporates and institutions are organising workshops on yoga, meditation and spiritualism for their over-stressed employees.” -more-

Delving into sound. Sometimes the pursuit of music is so profound it becomes a spiritual path. Take, for example, Benjy Wertheimer and Michael Mandrell. They invoke sacred tones with their fusion of North Indian, West African and Celtic music. "For me, it's a spiritual practice," Wertheimer said. "One of the fundamental things about (Indian, African and Celtic music) is they all have profound emotional and spiritual elements." -more-

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Eastern path to western harmony. Despite China's rapid modernisation, the relevance of the ancient Chinese religious tradition of Taoism has been in no way diminished. It remains formative in the cultures of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and a core ingredient of Chinese religion. Interest in its techniques, especially the therapeutic practices that enhance physical, mental and spiritual health, is evidenced in the array of translations in bookshops across Europe, North America and Oceania. Perhaps most appealing is its naturalistic mysticism, emphasising the harmony and accommodation between humans and nature. -more-

Why now is bliss? In his mid-30s he lost interest in research and abandoned academia, drifting for two years, staying with friends or occasionally in a Buddhist monastery, sitting on park benches and sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath. His family thought him “irresponsible, even insane”. -more-

Young women answering calls from beyond on TV. Spirituality is emerging as a fresh theme this fall. Joan Girardi is a fairly normal teenager until she begins receiving visits from God. Tru Davies works the overnight shift at the city morgue, where the dead suddenly start speaking up. Jaye Tyler, a souvenir shop clerk, hears the knickknacks talking to her. Young women hearing voices from the beyond populate a number of new TV series. In a season when the broadcast networks are largely sticking to established formulas -- police procedurals, broad comedies -- spirituality is emerging as a fresh theme, and it's usually female-driven. -more-