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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Give Thanks

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

- (C.K. Chesterton)

Extreme Ascetic Practices examined on the BBC

A lotus's meaning (
(BBC Four) Anglican priest Pete Owen-Jones hosts the BBC’s “Extreme Pilgrim” program. Owen-Jones is the vicar of a parish in Sussex, England.

This three-part documentary follows him on a search for meaning through extreme ascetic practices of several religions, including Zen Buddhism (Japanese), Kung Fu (an offshoot of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism), Hinduism, and Christianity. 

Although the Buddha realized that self-mortification was not the path to freedom and happiness,these practices have never fallen out of favor.

Practitioners have yet to realize what finally dawned on the seeker Siddhartha under the Bodhi tree. 

The path to liberation, the path of purification, is more heart-centered and mental than physical. 

The body is not to blame for the sources of hidden motivation behind our actions (karma). The resolution is going inward rather than obsessing on punishing/tormenting the outward. 

The body may be brought into complete submission, yet a defiled heart/mind will soon move one again to the edge of ruin.
Conversely, while standing in the muck, one may rise above the din by attending to the defilement that springs within. 

Like a lotus shooting skyward toward the light while still rooted in fertilizer-mud and murky water, having found the actual source of our ills, one transcends suffering. 

Stop. Soften. Be still. Touch the bliss -- remembering that "there is no 'path to happiness'; happiness IS the path!" 

 Develop liberating-insight based on this tranquility. Awaken.

Source: Extreme Ascetic Practices Today (BBC video)

Pfc. Sandoval, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Cobwebs From An Empty Skull

Albert Einstein prescribes compassion for all living creatures and the whole of nature

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meditate Twice A Day - It is free!

Researchers are exploring the benefits of meditation on everything from heart disease to obesity. Sumathi Reddy and Dr. Aditi Nerurkar join Lunch Break.

Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, doctor's orders can include an unlikely prescription:

"I recommend five minutes, twice a day, and then gradually increase," said Aditi Nerurkar, a primary-care doctor and assistant medical director of the Cheng & Tsui Center for Integrative Care, which offers alternative medical treatment at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. "It's basically the same way I prescribe medicine. I don't start you on a high dose right away." She recommends that patients eventually work up to about 20 minutes of meditating, twice a day, for conditions including insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Integrative medicine programs including meditation are increasingly showing up at hospitals and clinics across the country. Recent research has found that meditation can lower blood pressure and help patients with chronic illness cope with pain and depression.  

In a study published last year, meditation sharply reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke among a group of African-Americans with heart disease.

At Beth Israel Deaconess, meditation and other mind-body therapies are slowly being worked into the primary-care setting.
The program began offering some services over the past six months and hopes eventually to have group meditation classes, said Dr. Nerurkar.

Health experts say meditation shouldn't be used to replace traditional medical therapies, but rather to complement them. While it is clear that "when you breathe in a very slow, conscious way it temporarily lowers your blood pressure," such techniques shouldn't be used to substitute for medications to manage high blood pressure and other serious conditions, said Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. In general, she said, meditation can be useful for symptom management, not to cure or treat disease.
Dr. Briggs said the agency is funding a number of studies looking at meditation and breathing techniques and their effect on numerous conditions, including hot flashes that occur during menopause. If meditation is found to be beneficial, it could help women avoid using hormone treatments, which can have detrimental side effects, she said.

The most common type of meditation recommended by doctors and used in hospital programs is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was devised at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  
Dr. Nerurkar said she doesn't send patients to a class for training. Instead, she and other physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess will demonstrate the technique in the office. "Really it's just sitting in a quiet posture that's comfortable, closing your eyes and watching your breath," she said.
Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., says it isn't clearly understood how meditation works on the body. 

Some forms of meditation have been found to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the body's relaxation response, improves blood supply, slows down heart rate and breathing and increases digestive activity, he said. It also slows down the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

Dr. Doraiswamy says he recommends meditation for people with depression, panic or anxiety disorders, ongoing stress, or for general health maintenance of brain alertness and cardiovascular health.

Thousands of studies have been published that look at meditation, Dr. Doraiswamy said. Of these, about 500 have been clinical trials testing meditation for various ailments, but only about 40 trials have been long-term studies. 

It isn't known whether there is an optimal amount of time for meditating that is most effective. And, it hasn't been conclusively shown that the practice causes people to live longer or prevents them from getting certain chronic diseases.

Some short-term studies have found meditation can improve cognitive abilities such as attention and memory, said Dr. Doraiswamy. 

Using imaging, scientists have shown that meditation can improve the functional performance of specific circuits in the brain and may reduce age-related shrinkage of several brain centers, particularly those that may be vulnerable in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Recent research found that meditation can result in molecular changes affecting the length of telomeres, a protective covering at the end of chromosomes that gets shorter as people age. 

The study involved 40 family caregivers of dementia patients. Half of the participants meditated briefly on a daily basis and the other half listened to relaxing music for 12 minutes a day. 

The eight-week study found that people who meditated showed a 43% improvement in telomerase activity, an enzyme that regulates telomere length, compared with a 3.7% gain in the group listening to music. 

The participants meditating also showed improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression compared with the control group. The pilot study was published in January in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Government-funded research also is exploring meditation's effect on dieting and depression.

Write to Sumathi Reddy at

A version of this article appeared April 16, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day.

More About the Mind and Body
Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain 11/15/2011
Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best 6/18/2012

Source: /article/SB10001424127887324345804578424863782143682.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_lifestyle

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis, C.R.S.A. was a canon regular of the late medieval period and the most probable author of The Imitation of Christ, which is one of the best known Christian books on devotion. Wikipedia
Born: 1380, Kempen
Died: July 25, 1471, Zwolle
File:Thomas von Kempen JS.jpg 
Simplicity and purity are the two wings by which a man is lifted above all earthly things. Simplicity is in the intention — purity in the affection. Simplicity tends to God,— purity apprehends and tastes Him.
  • P. 545.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Albert Einstein

Happy Birthday, Albert ! We love this digital drawing by Adam Martinakis:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. 

- Albert Einstein

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find honour. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

You cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. 
- Einstein

A human being is a part of the universe, a part limited in time and space. 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
 - Einstein

 'It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer' 
- Albert Einstein

 "Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." 
- Albert Einstein

Man would be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Plato's Most Beautiful Myth



Hide and Seek

Understanding self-deception, self-sabotage, and more

Plato's Most Beautiful Myth

The Myth of Er. Read an excerpt from my new book, 'Plato: Letters to my Son'.
Plato, 424-348 BC

"There is an old myth, which I have heard and told many times, of a soldier called Er who was slain in battle. Twelve days later, Er came back to life to tell of what he had seen whilst he was dead. His soul had been on a journey with a great company to a meadow with four openings, two into the heavens and two into the earth. Judges sat in this meadow and ordered the good souls into the heavens and the bad ones into the earth. Meanwhile, clean and bright souls floated down from the other opening into the heavens, and dusty and worn out souls rose up from the other opening into the earth. Each soul had returned from a thousand year journey, but whereas the clean souls spoke merrily of what they had experienced in the heavens, the dusty souls wept at what they had endured in the underground. Souls that had committed heinous crimes, such as those of tyrants or murderers, were not permitted to rise up into the meadow and were condemned to an eternity in the underground. After seven days, the souls that had gathered in the meadow travelled for five more days to the Spindle of Necessity, a shaft of intensely bright light that extends into the heavens and holds together the universe.

Once they had arrived at the foot of the Spindle of Necessity, the souls were asked to come forth one by one and to choose their next life from a scattered jigsaw of human and animal lives. Not having known the terrors of the underworld, the first soul hastily chose the life of a powerful dictator, only to discover that he was fated, amongst others evils, to devour his own children. His previous life had been virtuous out of habit rather than out of philosophy, and so his judgement was poor. In contrast, the souls that had known the terrors of the underworld often chose a better, more virtuous life, but on no other basis than bitter experience. Thus, many of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or an evil for a good. The soul of wily Odysseus, which was the last to come forth, sought out the life of a private man with no cares.

This he found lying about, neglected by everybody else. After this, the souls travelled through the scorching Plain of Oblivion and encamped by the River of Forgetfulness. Each soul was required to drink from the river’s water so as to forget all things, but the souls that had not been saved by wisdom drank more than was strictly necessary. In the night, as they slept, the souls shot up like stars to be reborn into their chosen life. As they did so, Er opened his eyes to find himself lying on his funeral pyre."

Plato: Letters to my Son, has just been published.

**Book launch promotion: The ebook edition is currently free from Amazon.**