Vegetarian Ideal


Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
- Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buddhism's forgotten women:




Author Wendy Garling on Buddhism's forgotten women:





n both ancient lore and modern culture, we hear much about the Buddha's road to enlightenment – from his birth to his parinirvana, or death.
But missing from most accounts of Prince Siddhartha's life are the women who influenced him along the way and who played a significant role in his journey of awakening.
Wendy Garling is a writer, dharma teacher, and practicing Tibetan Buddhist. When she realized many of those stories were "hiding in plain sight," Garling began digging to find out more about the women in the Buddha's circle.
Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life
A retelling of the ancient legends of the women in the Buddha’s intimate circle by author Wendy Garling
Drawing on rare and lesser-known stories from ancient Sanskrit and Pali sources, Garling reinterprets the legends of the women in the Buddha's intimate circle in her book Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life.
Her retelling of these ancient stories exposes the bias of those who first wrote down those stories, challenges the common understanding of women's roles in early Buddhism and sheds light on the sacred feminine in the faith.
"It's important to remember that at the time of the Buddha, everything was communicated through the oral traditions," Garling points out. "The stories that sprang up around his life were not written down for many hundreds of years… So there's no one way the stories were told."
She notes that many of the early stories were initially written down by monks at Buddhist monasteries, and those men may have focused on the more religious aspects of the Buddha's life and teachings, discarding details they deemed irrelevant.
"I think the forgotten stories I found - that are so important and so different - were less edited, frankly," she adds. "In many cases, they had no real religious purpose, but they were telling wonderful stories – stories about the Buddha, and stories about women."
Maya_dream_of_the_Birth_of_Gautama_Siddharta
Maya's dream of the birth of Gautama Siddharta, the Buddha

Here are some highlights:

  • Garling says traditional tellings of the Buddha's birth story seldom include women, even omitting the Buddha's birth mother, Mayadevi. Those accounts that do include Maya depict her as giving birth standing up, holding onto a tree for support, as Siddhartha emerged from her right side, with no blood or water exuded during the labour.  
  • Maya is thought to have died shortly afterwards, leaving Siddhartha to be raised by her sister, Mahapajapati, who is said to have been present at the birth. Artistic renderings often depict Mahapajapati holding Maya around the waist during the labour – symbolizing the role of both mothers in the Buddha's life. Later, after her husband died, Mahapajapati became a nun. When the Buddha finally decided to leave his palace home as he moved towards enlightenment, it was his second mother's tears and wisdom that sent him on his way.
    Astasahasrika_Prajnaparamita_Queen_Maya_Birth
    Painting of the birth of Gautama Buddha, out of the side of Queen Mahamaya

     
  • Goddesses played a role in early Buddhism. For instance, Garling argues the tree Maya held onto during the Buddha's birth was actually Abhayadevi, a goddess of protection who lowered her branch to support Maya during birth. Buddhism includes many female deities, including goddesses of peace, compassion, and liberation.
  • Before he became the Buddha, Siddhartha had a harem of women. In a commonly told story, the consorts are ordered by Brahmin gods to appear vulgar and ugly in order to repel Siddhartha from desire and other earthly gratification. In Garling's retelling, at the urging of a wisdom goddess, the women themselves conspire to drive Siddhartha away. Instead of being passive, the women actively help release Siddhartha from his final attachment.










Source: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/a-new-cast-of-heroines-1.3867417/hiding-in-plain-sight-buddhism-s-forgotten-women-1.3867419



How religious fervour changes your brain.





Dec 3
. on how religious fervour changes your brain.




Religion is like a drug, at least according to our brains.  











Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Towering Cypress, by Katsushika Hokusai


冨嶽三十六景 甲州三島越

Mishima Pass, Mount Fuji, and the Towering Cypress

by Katsushika Hokusai

 
 
 
 

Erich Fromm on the Art of Loving

Philosopher Erich Fromm on the Art of Loving and What Is Keeping Us from Mastering It

“There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.”



“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love,” the great Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn admonished in his terrific treatise on how to love — a sentiment profoundly discomfiting in the context of our cultural mythology, which continually casts love as something that happens to us passively and by chance, something we fall into, something that strikes us arrow-like, rather than a skill attained through the same deliberate practice as any other pursuit of human excellence. Our failure to recognize this skillfulness aspect is perhaps the primary reason why love is so intertwined with frustration.

That’s what the great German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, and philosopher Erich Fromm (March 23, 1900–March 18, 1980) examines in his 1956 masterwork The Art of Loving (public library) — a case for love as a skill to be honed the way artists apprentice themselves to the work on the way to mastery, demanding of its practitioner both knowledge and effort.



Erich Fromm
Fromm writes:
This book … wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement.
Fromm considers our warped perception of love’s necessary yin-yang:
Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.
[…]
People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love — or to be loved by — is difficult. This attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of modern society. One reason is the great change which occurred in the twentieth century with respect to the choice of a “love object.”



Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss
Our fixation on the choice of “love object,” Fromm argues, has seeded a kind of “confusion between the initial experience of ‘falling’ in love, and the permanent state of being in love, or as we might better say, of ‘standing’ in love” — something Stendhal addressed more than a century earlier in his theory of love’s “crystallization.” Fromm considers the peril of mistaking the spark for the substance:
If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting.

The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being “crazy” about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.
[…]
There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.



Illustration by Julie Paschkis from Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown
The only way to abate this track record of failure, Fromm argues, is to examine the underlying reasons for the disconnect between our beliefs about love and its actual machinery — which must include a recognition of love as an informed practice rather than an unmerited grace. Fromm writes:
The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering. What are the necessary steps in learning any art? The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice. If I want to learn the art of medicine, I must first know the facts about the human body, and about various diseases. When I have all this theoretical knowledge, I am by no means competent in the art of medicine. I shall become a master in this art only after a great deal of practice, until eventually the results of my theoretical knowledge and the results of my practice are blended into one — my intuition, the essence of the mastery of any art. But, aside from learning the theory and practice, there is a third factor necessary to becoming a master in any art — the mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern; there must be nothing else in the world more important than the art. This holds true for music, for medicine, for carpentry — and for love. And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power — almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.
In the remainder of the enduringly excellent The Art of Loving, Fromm goes on to explore the misconceptions and cultural falsehoods keeping us from mastering this supreme human skill, outlining both its theory and its practice with extraordinary insight into the complexities of the human heart. Complement it with French philosopher Alain Badiou on why we fall and stay in love and Mary Oliver on love’s necessary madnesses.




Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/10/29/the-art-of-loving-erich-fromm/



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah




Leonard Cohen Credit Dominique Issermann


  Leonard Cohen: Darkness and Praise

The email from the boy began: “Did anything inspire you to create Hallelujah?"

Later that same winter day the reply arrived: 
“I wanted to stand with those who clearly see God’s holy broken world for what it is, and still find the courage or the heart to praise it. You don’t always get what you want. You’re not always up for the challenge. But in this case — it was given to me. For which I am deeply grateful.”
The question came from the author's son, who was preparing to present the hymn to his fifth-grade class. The boy required a clarification about its meaning. The answer came from the author of the song, Leonard Cohen.
Cohen lived in a weather of wisdom, which he created by seeking it rather than by finding it. He swam in beauty, because in its transience he aspired to discern a glimpse of eternity.
There was always a trace of philosophy in his sensuality.
He managed to combine a sense of absurdity with a sense of significance, a genuine feat.
He was a friend of melancholy but an enemy of gloom, and a renegade enamored of tradition.
Leonard was, above all, in his music and in his poems and in his tone of life, the lyrical advocate of the finite and the flawed.
Leonard sang always as a sinner. He refused to describe sin as a failure or a disqualification. Sin was a condition of life. 

“Even though it all went wrong/ I’ll stand before the Lord of song/ With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!”
The singer’s faults do not expel him from the divine presence. Instead they confer a mortal integrity upon his exclamation of praise. 

He is the inadequate man, the lowly man, the hurt man who has given hurt, insisting modestly but stubbornly upon his right to a sacred exaltation.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  

He once told an interviewer that those words were the closest he came to a credo.  

The teaching could not be more plain: fix the crack, lose the light.
  
Here is a passage on frivolity by a great rabbi in Prague at the end of the 16th century:

“Man was born for toil, since his perfection is always being actualized but is never actual,” 
he observed in an essay on frivolity.
“And insofar as he attains perfection, something is missing in him.  In such a being, 
perfection is a shortcoming and a lack.”

Leonard Cohen was the poet laureate of the lack, the psalmist of the privation, who made imperfection gorgeous.



Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/opinion/my-friend-leonard-cohen-darkness-and-praise.html?ribbon-ad-idx=3&src=trending



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Living with a sense of purpose in life




Conclusion:

A sense of purpose in life also gives you this considerable advantage:
"People with a sense of purpose in life have a lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease."

The conclusions come from over 136,000 people who took part in 10 different studies.

Participants in the studies were mostly from the US and Japan.


The US studies asked people:
  • how useful they felt to others,
  • about their sense of purpose, and
  • the meaning they got out of life.


The Japanese studies asked people about ‘ikigai’ or whether their life was worth living.

The participants, whose average age was 67, were tracked for around 7 years.

During that time almost 20,000 died.
 
But, amongst those with a strong sense of purpose or high ‘ikigai’, the risk of death was one-fifth lower.

Despite the link between sense of purpose and health being so intuitive, scientists are not sure of the mechanism.

Sense of purpose is likely to improve health by strengthening the body against stress.

It is also likely to be linked to healthier behaviours.

Dr. Alan Rozanski, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Of note, having a strong sense of life purpose has long been postulated to be an important dimension of life, providing people with a sense of vitality motivation and resilience.
Nevertheless, the medical implications of living with a high or low sense of life purpose have only recently caught the attention of investigators.
The current findings are important because they may open up new potential interventions for helping people to promote their health and sense of well-being.”

This research on links between sense of purpose in life and longevity is getting stronger all the time:
  • “A 2009 study of 1,238 elderly people found that those with a sense of purpose lived longer.
  • A 2010 study of 900 older adults found that those with a greater sense of purpose were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Survey data often links a sense of purpose in life with increased happiness.
No matter what your age, then, it’s worth thinking about what gives your life meaning.”



Read More:

Find out what kinds of things people say give their lives meaning.
Here’s an exercise for increasing meaningfulness
And a study finding that feeling you belong increases the sense of meaning.

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (Cohen et al., 2015).




A sense of purpose in life
Link: http://www.spring.org.uk/2015/12/here-is-why-a-sense-of-purpose-in-life-is-important-for-health

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Discovery Channel - Large Asteroid Impact Simulation





● Discovery Channel - Large Asteroid Impact Simulation (2008).



Earth
was born as a result of repeated asteroid collisions, the moon was
created by a single giant impact event. Then, Earth's size attracted
huge meteorites, which slammed into it, causing super-high-temperature
rock vapour to cover the entire surface and evaporate all ocean water.
The earliest life-forms survived such infernal events by escaping deep
into the ground, miraculously emerging again and again. The Earth has
gone through innumerable catastrophic events, and life has survived by
acquiring new abilities to live through each crisis. Humans are part of
the grand history of life's evolution, which has been closely
intertwined with repeated cataclysmic events.



Learn what would happen if an asteroid hit the Earth with this detailed "Large Asteroid Impact Simulation".

An
asteroid with a diameter of 500 km. Destination: The Pacific Ocean. The
impact peels the 10 km crust off the surface. The shockwave travels at
hypersonic speeds. Debris is blasted across into low Earth orbit, and
returns to destroy the surface of the Earth. The firestorm encircles the
Earth, vaporizing all life in its way. Within one day, the surface of
the Earth is uninhabitable. The evidence shows that this has happened at
least six times in Earth's history.

Music of Pink Floyd "The Great Gig in the Sky" (1973).



0:12 An asteroid with a diameter of 500 km.

0:47 Destination: The Pacific Ocean.

1:17 The impact peels the 10 km crust off the surface.

1:28 The shockwave travels at hypersonic speeds.

1:53 Debris is blasted across into low Earth orbit,

2:11 and returns to destroy the surface of the Earth.

2:55 The firestorm encircles the Earth,

3:05 vaporizing all life in its way.

3:34 Within one day, the surface of the Earth is uninhabitable.

4:19 The evidence shows that this has happened at least six times in Earth's history.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Man to Tiger - Get ready for Tiger Dance




Published on Sep 17, 2016
Tiger
Dance " Puli Kali " is a colorful recreational folk art from the state
of Kerala.[1] It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on
the occasion of Onam, an annual harvest festival, celebrated mainly in
the Indian state of Kerala. On the fourth day of Onam celebrations
(Nalaam Onam), performers painted like tigers and hunters in bright
yellow, red, and black dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and
Thakil. Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigers' hence
the performance revolve around the theme of tiger hunting. The folk art
is mainly practiced in Thrissur district of Kerala. Best place to watch
the show is at Thrissur on the fourth day of Onam, where Pulikali
troupes from all over the district assemble to display their skills. The
festival attracts thousands of people to the Thrissur city. Pulikali is
also performed during various other festive seasons.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puli_Kali