Thursday, 24 January 2013

A beautiful presentation on 'Sensing Disability in Buddhism'

A beautiful presentation on 'Sensing Disability in Buddhism' is to be found HERE

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What's in your gut? - the American project

Go HERE to read the full article

*Note this is a "Flexible Funding" campaign so the project and all analysis will go forward regardless if the funding goal is reached. So join us, you are in no matter what


What is American Gut?
You’ve probably heard by now that the trillions of microbes living on and in our bodies are changing both the way we think about health and disease and even how we define Self. Ever wonder what’s in your gut? Ever wonder how your diet might shift your gut microbes (for better or worse), or how simple lifestyle decisions may have a dramatic impact on your gut and overall health? Ever wonder which microbes on your husband sometimes make him smell funny?

The gut is our main focus, but it is also interesting to look at oral, skin and even vaginal communities for several reasons. It might be possible to develop biomarkers--canaries in our corporeal coal mines that let us predict aspects of your gut health based on a spit sample or a reading (swabbing) of your palm. We know, for example, that arterial plaque shares microbes with the mouth but not with the gut. Could we use plaque samples to predict features of our hearts? Maybe. (Questions?

The developing gut ecosystem: Different human body habitats like the mouth, the skin, the vagina, and, of course, the gut are very different from one another. However, our gut changes profoundly during the course of our development. This image and the movie linked below show the Human Microbiome Project from the $173 million NIH-funded project (each dot represents one body site from one person), along with the developmental trajectory of one infant’s gut from birth (where it resembles the mother’s vaginal community) over the first 2.5 years of life. At the end, it resembles the adult gut, shown here in a color Crayloa should have called fecal brown.

Does diet matter? If so, who has the best diet from the perspective of your gut microbiome?
Yes, definitely, at least if you are a mouse (though if you are a mouse and can read you have bigger worries). We can completely transform a mouse microbiome in one day by starving them or switching them to a high-fat diet. But people are not mice -- researchers are great at curing diseases in mice, but with people it’s a bit harder. In humans, even a year on a different diet has relatively subtle effects on who’s in your gut (but larger effects on their relative abundances). In the elderly, people with better diets also have much better health outcomes, but we don’t know what part of this, if any, is due to microbial activity. Human diets vary to the extreme, from complete herbivory (vegans) to something close to pure carnivory. By reaching out to people with all types of diets, whether voluntary due to personal beliefs or to enhance athletic performance, or required by conditions such as celiac disease, we can reach a much broader range of eaters and potentially a much broader range of microbiomes -- but American Gut needs all comers. We will also be able to cross-reference your data with those living traditional lifestyles such as hunter-gatherers and farmers across the globe (see below), from Peru to Namibia. However, to do this, good diet information (and other possible influences from smoking to antibiotics) is critical, and so we’ll ask you to fill in detailed information about these factors in the questionnaire with your kit. Your diet and other health information are essential to the project, so please plan on bringing it along! So how does your diet and lifestyle shape your gut microbiome? And how does it compare to folks following different diets - and does it even matter? Most likely yes. Only one way to find out.

American Gut - all the cool kids are doing it
Lots of great and interesting microbiomes are joining the project. We know that 
Lady Gaga is covered in microbes. Wouldn’t you love to know how your gut compares to hers? Well, Lady Gaga hasn’t agreed to participate (yet. If you and she are buddies, you might give her a nudge), but author Michael Pollan is giving it up for science and will be writing about his participation in American Gut (and his microbiome) for the New York Times in the New Year - so don’t miss it! Also, Dean Karnazes (world’s most famous ultramarathon runner, 50 marathons in 50 days - yeah, that guy!) is joining as well, and along with and Shannon Ford (Mrs. United States 2011,  gluten-free eater and Paleo Diet advocate), will be sharing their results with the community. But most people will participate privately, and your privacy will be protected (see below).

On the science side, we have assembled a world-class team of experts on the human genome, microbiome, and microbiome in human disease susceptibility  and evolution, including many of the key players in the Human Microbiome Project, the Earth Microbiome Project, and to do the sequencing, analyze your data, and deliver the results back in a comprehensible way (like the National Geographic Genographic project, we understand how important it is to you to have some information about your information that you can show off to your friends and family). With the number of subjects and diversity of ages, backgrounds and lifestyles we can encompass in American Gut, we will be able to make progress in a way that is difficult with smaller, more targeted studies on individual diseases or diets. Additionally, we are using a truly open model based on the Earth Microbiome Project: all sequence data will be released as soon as it comes off the sequencer so that anyone can look at it (but not, of course, at your personally identifying information, which will be protected), and the data analysis will be performed openly and with everyone invited to participate. Because of our collaborations we will also be able to compare a subset of our results to the microbes living in people’s houses, the genes of the sampled folks (maybe you) and more. 

Why it's important and what we hope to learn
We know that many factors can affect the gut microbiome -- how old you are, what you eat, whether you have kids or pets, whether you smoke or drink and how much, where you live and have lived before -- but we don’t know which of these is most important or what specific microbes are involved. Nor do we know when these factors are important. Does their importance depend on the climate (maybe), on your genes (almost certainly) or something else (who knows). By enrolling everyone who wants to participate, we can look for people who look unusual and test whether there is anything they share. (Take a few minutes to watch Jonathan Eisen’s TED Talk and a Year in the Life of Eric Alm’s microbiome - very much worth the time). You might also check out (though it will take more minutes), Rob Dunn’s book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies. (Questions?

Go HERE to read the full article


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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

UK has a 'Supermarket Watchdog' - about time too!

Along with many others I was pleased to see that the UK Govt has appointed a 'supermarkets Watchdog'.  I wonder if the Tories would have done this without the Lib Dems and will they keep the function I wonder?

Government hires first supermarket watchdog

22 January, 2013

The government has appointed Christine Tacon as its first regulator for the UK supermarket industry.

It comes eight months after the Queen welcomed the move to introduce a Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) in a bid to crack down on the treatment of supermarket suppliers.

Her role will be to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), which regulates interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets, accumulating an annual turnover of £1bn and their direct suppliers.

Tacon said: “Being the GCA is a significant responsibility, and I am honoured to have been given the chance to make a permanent and enduring difference to the groceries sector. Coming from a commercial background, I am sure that if we can increase trust between retailers and their direct suppliers, it will lead to greater efficiency and can only have a beneficial impact on the rest of the supply chain.”

She will also have the power to launch investigations into suspected breaches of the Code, including confidential complaints from any source, in which she will then be able to make recommendations against a supermarket, require them to publish details of their breach, or, in the most extreme cases, to impose fines.

Tacon, who previously ran The Co-operative’s farming business for 11 years, was awarded a CBE for her services to agriculture in 2004.

Go HERE to read the full story.

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Monday, 21 January 2013

Omid Djalili and interfaith - inter-religious humour

I came across this article by 'Delaine' - to read the article go HERE

They say laughter is the best medicine. But can it help fight religious prejudice and heal intercultural wounds? It’s true; comedy and religion rarely mix well together. However, there’s one film up for the challenge, and much to my surprise, I must admit, it looks very promising.
The Infidel tells the story of Mahmud Nasir, played by Omid Djalili. Mahmud is a loving husband and father, and somewhat of a “relaxed” Muslim living in the United Kingdom. Although Mahmud isn’t the most observant Muslim, deep down, he is as Muslim as it gets. However, Mahmud’s life is turned upside-down upon learning after his mother’s passing that not only was he adopted, he isn’t even Muslim. His real name is Solly Shimshillewitz. That’s right, Mahmud is a Jew. The discovery leads to a full scale identity crisis and the only person he can turn to is his friend Lenny, a drunken Jewish taxi driver. Lenny agrees to give him lessons in “Jewishness”, from dancing, to dressing, to everything else in between.
This body-swap movie has everything you would expect in a Muslim-Jewish comedy.............................................
The article raises some interesting questions about inter-religious comedy - not the least because the star playing a Moslem who finds out he is a Jew is actually a Baha'i!
TAGS: Omid Djalili, The Infidel, spirituality, religion, interfaith, interspirituality, peace, peace-building, Baha'i,

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Eckhart Tolle - Cumulated Emotional Pain (Pain Body)


It goes deeper than that and we are not running away from the fact that in you there lives a field of residue of past Human pain.

On a personal level, pain from childhood that leaves residues, Energetic residues….different things painful things have happened to you in your childhood and of course far beyond that in time. But lets just talk from the level of your present existence in this form.

The pain that is carried over from your childhood and beyond and leaves residues …doesn't go away completely, it leaves residues of pain, Energy fields, everything is Energy. And then those Energy Fields get together, because they feel, they vibrate at the same frequency. So emotional pain gathers into one mass of pain, contracted Energy, that is not flowing freely. An energy that I call the “Pain Body”, that humans carry inside them.

An energy field of pain.
And if you don’t recognize that, no matter how much Spiritual Practice you do and even what we are doing here if you do not see, if you do not recognize how the Pain Body operates, it will trick every time and you will lose consciousness through it.

First we realize “there is an Energy Field of pain in me”, that may manifest either as turbulence, anger, heaviness, depression, tightness, fear. Whatever way it manifests its not pleasant its painful its past pain but very much alive still.

You carry it inside. But you are not always conscious of it and I talk about it briefly in one Chapter of the book, so we go a little bit more deeply now, and now that the added Energy of Presence that we take into the Pain Body.

The Pain Body is sometimes dormant and sometimes active. It becomes active when you suddenly feel it very strongly, when it needs to feed on further experience of pain. As it always has to do regularly like, it’s a little entity almost, it needs Feeding, temporarily on the experience of further pain, and you will know this has happened when a relatively insignificant trigger produces an Incredible outburst, reaction of Pain. A minor thing goes wrong or somebody say something, or your partner says something or does something and there is suddenly a deep or even a thought come in, and suddenly it serves as a trigger for an immense, the arising of deep emotional pain.

At that moment the Pain Body this Energy Field has come up out of its dormant state, it is ready to feed on more Pain.

I haven’t put it that clearly in the First Book I will explain it in the next book (Laughter)

There are two ways in which it feeds, because that is all it can feed on .Pain Body consists of that energy of pain its needs (ET says) “please where can I get more Pain”.

It feed on your thoughts, when it’s ready to rise up, it will control your thinking, it rises into the mind and your mind, which is your thought activity, because with the Pain Body every thought you think is destructive and painful.

And the Pain Body loves it!!! It gobbles up the Energy of every thought that you think every destructive and deeply negative thought, it eats it up, so to speak, (ET makes chomping sounds while all laugh) And it’s having a Good Time! It’s feeding and, at that moment, one way of putting it is, one could say “the addictive quality of Human Pain". Addictive because it loves it’s pain.

When the Pain Body has taken you over and has succeeded in pretending that that’s 'Who you are', all your thinking is completely aligned with it. And it’s feeding on it. At that very moment the last thing you want is to be free of pain. At that moment pain IS what you want because at that moment, You are the Pain Body.

And if I came into your life at that moment and gave you this message, “that Life free from Pain IS possible” You would hit me over the Head!!! (Laughter). Because the Pain Body would be there and I would be talking to the Pain Body and the Pain Body would be talking back at me.

So the pain body needs to come in periodically and we all have experienced it with partners now the pain body will use you thinking, it will feed on you negative and destructive thinking.

How long the feeding time lasts of any particular pain body varies greatly from person to person, I could be a brief one, it could be an hour or two; some pain bodies have a feeding time of several weeks, even months. That is the extreme and in very extreme cases there are some pain bodies that have virtually no dormant stage that are continuously feeding and active.

But that’s more rare but you sometimes meet people and the pain body is looking at you through their eyes and they are waiting for an excuse to have more. They want you to give them a painful reaction. They want you to be angry with them; they want you to attack them. That’s people totally possessed by the Pain Body.

So Level One: the pain body feeds on your thinking. Level Two: The pain body feeds on the feedback of the emotional pain from other people

So it might not only use your own thinking it might even predominantly use somebody else’s reactions. So the Pain Body feeds on thinking. The Pain Body feeding on others reactions. Now I mentioned last night the “unhappy me” a mind pattern that people are identified with an unhappy sense of self. This mind pattern, when the pain is active it becomes amplified, the Energy of the Unhappy me when the Pain Body moves into that mind pattern that already is telling you “your life has not been good enough” and so on and you may not make it, “life has passed me by”, and so on.

Now the Pain Body moves into that mind pattern and its Energy gets amplified, 10 times, 20 times, 50 times, 100 times in other words the “unhappy me”; the Pain Body arises, it flows into that mind structure, the emotion flows into that mind structure, the Unhappy sense of me becomes dreadfully Unhappy and Loves it’s Unhappiness because that’s what it consists of.

Now it is not a foreign body, which lives in you. There is nothing that is not Life Energy.

Even your pain body is life Energy except it is not flowing freely. It’s got stuck somewhere.

And when Energy gets stuck and cannot flow freely pain arise like a river. If a river cannot flow the water accumulates and pressure accumulates. But really it's beautiful Life Energy.

The water is still beautiful there is pressure accumulating, inside. That’s what the pain body is.
Now, as we bright Presence, this consciousness in o the Pain Body, it can no longer fool you into completely identifying with it.

The presence, as the pain arises, from now on, and many of you are already practicing that. The Pain body comes up and at that moment you will recognize it as the Pain Body. That is the Beginning of Freedom from it. The recognition, when it comes, slight trigger, provocation, even a thought, deep Pain arises, in whatever form, in some people it is a very active pain, active aggressive pain, in other persons it is a Passive form of Pain, “poor little me” victim pain, does not matter which, pain bodies have different qualities in different people.

It maybe turbulence or tightness or constriction, it does not matter what it is. As it arises you will know there is a witnessing presence, and you watch.

Where is the pain body and where do you feel the energy field of it?

In your body.

You can feel it in the solar plexus or stomach area, as a dreadful sense of heaviness.

Some people perceive it as a big hole, a gaping hole inside.  Or intense anger.

But whatever it is you watch it, this is why it is so helpful, you sitting here witnessing, is witnessing Presence which is part of this new state of consciousness. It gets so much strengthened by sitting in this Energy Field.

So the Watcher will be there watching the pain so the pain can not use your mind anymore it can not feed on your thinking because you are watching it directly it cannot creep into your mind and then become an “unhappy me”.

All that’s left of the pain is an energy field of turbulence, or a heavy feeling inside you.

But the pain has not become an “unhappy me” a sense of self, of who you are. That’s the beginning of the end of the pain. But our practice is allowing “what is” to be. And that also applies as long as the Pain Body it there in you allowing the Pain that is there in you Also to be. That is a very powerful practice.

So I am not saying, we are not fighting the pain we are not even trying to get rid of it. You bring the consciousness, which is a very compassionate state of allowing “what is”. It is a very powerful state it implies you are Present. As the one who is able to allow.

You are the one who is able to allow the pain to be. You know you are not creating this pain at this moment because you are practicing accepting “what is”. So it is not pain you are creating, it is old pain.
You bring the “acceptance” to the old pain.

TAGS: eckhart tolle, consciousness, liberation, freedom, awakening, pain body, you are not your thoughts, healing, energy, spirit, 

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Friday, 18 January 2013

Exquisitely Beautiful Chanting - Hein Braat

Astonishing artistry.


As one commentator said - "There's no place like aum!"

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The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum

The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching.

When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity , Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics , and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience . Päd , the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance , Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration , and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom .
So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.

The literal translation can be broken down into 6 syllables each focusing on 6 Buddhist traditions. 1: Om=Generosity, which purifies Ego/Pride, the color is white. 2: Ma=Ethics, Jealousy/Lust, Green. 3: Ni=Patience, Passion/desire, Yellow. 4: Pad= Diligence, Ignorance/prejudice, Blue. 5: Me= Renunciation, Poverty/Possessiveness, Red 6: Hum, Wisdom, Aggression/Hatred, Black. The mantra is old old old, I like this translation of meaning best because it shows belief in man’s good side.

Om and hung are the sounds of creation, mani pemme means the jewel in the lotus. it´s about a clear state of mind, respect for all living creatures and enlightenment.

Vietnamese spelled it this way Úm ma ni bát ni hồng.

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Confucian Virtues



Confucius taught these virtues which a person should practice every day to live a healthy, harmonious life: 


Ren i s the virtue of benevolence, charity, and humanity; 


Yi , of honesty and uprightness;  Yì may be broken down into zhong, doing one's best, conscientiousness, loyalty;


Shu , reciprocity, altruism, consideration of others, and Confucius' early version of the Golden Rule: " What you don't want yourself, don't do to others."  


Zhi , knowledge;


Xin , the virtue of faithfulness and integrity. 

Li , correct behavior or propriety,   good manners, politeness, ceremony, & worship.


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"Breathing with Life, Death, and Fear of Failure" - Thich Nhat Hanh

This is the first talk of Thay in the second week of the Summer Opening Retreat, offered in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on Saturday, July 4th, 2012.

Thich Nhat Hanh's website is called "Plum Village", available at: 

Free Buddhist eBooks can be downloaded at:

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Dissolve the pain-body with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Philosophy Matters - Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr - RIS 2012

"Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran"

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: My Life and Captivity in Iran (HarperCollins) by Roxana Saberi is the harrowing chronicle of an Iranian-American journalist's arrest, sham trial, and sentencing to eight years in prison, as well as stories about the struggles and courage of the Iranians she met along the way.

Available in paperback, hardcover, e-book, and audio book in English:

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Meditation Nourishes the Brain

Meditation Nourishes the Brain

What is it about meditation that invokes so much mystery? When asked, people conjure images of difficult lotus positions, strange beliefs and exotic settings. Of course, none of that is necessary and the realities of a person sitting comfortably on their living room floor for a few minutes isn’t quite as interesting.

Confounding public perceptions even more are the religious connotations that are sometimes connected to meditation. This only serves to further alienate people who could potentially benefit. This is unfortunate since it can easily be argued that prayer in any religion is a form of meditation. The practice of meditation has a long history in almost every major historical civilization and religion, yet there is so much that is not known.

When we look at the past philosophies and beliefs associated with meditation, we can understand the perspectives of the ancients according to contemporary science. Science has not replaced the old views; so far it has mostly served to strengthen many of the ancient beliefs. However, modern science has been able to fill in essential details of underlining processes.

It has been shown that meditation can increase pain tolerance (see below for sources). One study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience (2011), showed that meditation caused a 40% lowering of pain intensity and a 57% lowering of pain unpleasantness. That is impressive when you consider that morphine and other pain relieving drugs only lower these symptoms by about 25%. This relief came from subjects with no previous meditation experience who were taught basic meditation in a total of four 20 minute classes.

A number of studies that have utilized modern imaging technology, such as fMRI, have clearly shown that meditation increases blood flow to the brain and, with extended practice, actually makes significant changes to the brain’s physical structure. These changes can lead to increased efficiency and function in certain parts of the brain, such as heightened visuospatial processing and increased focus.

Click  HERE  to read the article in full

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

I defy you to not be moved FULL VERSION young poet via autism - stunning

Virginia Breen tells about the discovery that her daughter, Elizabeth Bonker, was a poetic prodigy, despite being unable to speak due to autism.

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E O Wilson on Einstein -"think like a poet and work like a bookkeeper"

Published on 17 May 2012

Renowned biologist E.O. Wilson offers advice to young scientists, exhorting them to "think like a poet and work like a bookkeeper" and to "step away from the blackboard," among bits of wisdom.

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Joyous news for chocolate lovers

Is chocolate a super food?  Take a look at this article I found;

Chocolate's theobromine calms 
children's coughs safely

Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted and ground beans taken from the pods of the tropical cacao tree. Cacao Theobroma, named for the Latin 'food of the gods', contains oleic acid which may raise good cholesterol. There is plenty more good news for those of us who are chocolate lovers. Dark chocolate's cacao content has been shown to have positive effects on mood swings, coughing, high blood pressure119 and even contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which does not raise bad cholesterol levels, and cocoa butter which is in chocolate, contains oleic acid, which actually may raise good cholesterol.

There are over 350 known chemicals found in chocolate, including stimulants like caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide. Theobromine, the alkaloid contained in the beans, resembles caffeine in its action, but its effect on the central nervous system is less powerful and does not have the sleep disturbing effects of caffeine. It may actually be a more effective cough medicine than traditional remedies making it a safe nighttime calmer for children. 120

Click HERE to read the full delicious article

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My focus is inter-spiritual living