Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Monday, 28 March 2011
Income Inequality and Violent Crime
- The relationship between inequality and homicide has been found in many different settings-among developed and developing countries, both between and within countries. Relationships between inequality and violence are stronger when comparing whole societies and tend to be weaker when looking at small areas .
- Several studies have found that small reductions in income inequality cause large reductions in homicide.
- Inequality affects homicide, whereas a society's average income level does not.
- The relationship between inequality and homicide seems to be part of a more general divisive effect of inequality which weakens the social fabric.
- Almost two-thirds of the higher homicide rates in southern (as compared to northern) states of the United States are attributable to their greater income inequality. There are lower rates of homicide in the Canadian provinces than in the states of the USA as a result of their smaller income differences .
As early as 1993 an analysis of 34 studies of violent crime concluded that there was a robust tendency for rates of violence to be higher in more unequal societies .
In 1997, Messner and Rosenfeld  said "A finding that has emerged with remarkable consistency is that high rates of homicide tend to accompany high levels of inequality in the distribution of income."
Two years later in a study of 50 countries, Lee and Bankston  concluded that "...economic inequality is positively and significantly related to rates of homicide despite an extensive list of conceptually relevant controls."
Since then the evidence that violence is higher in countries with bigger income differences between rich and poor has not only continued to accumulate, but has also continued to be ignored by governments.
Contrasting trends: England and Wales, and Japan
England and Wales experienced dramatic increases in inequality during the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly during the later 1980s. In contrast, Japan became a much more equal society during the second half of the 20th century. Homicide rates in England and Wales doubled between 1967 and 2001, but in Japan homicide rates fell by 70 percent during the second half of the 20th century. In England and Wales the increase occurred mainly among young working-aged men from poor areas. In Japan the decline in violence was particularly large amongst young men .
Murder in Britain
On average there are 1.8 murders per day in Britain . The increases in murder over recent decades are predominantly murders of poorer men. Richer areas have experienced opposite trends of low and declining murder rates. Men are twice as likely to be murdered as women. The murder rate amongst young men in their 20s has doubled.
Shaw, Turnstall and Dorling  note that the increase in murder in Britain occurred alongside the dramatic increases in inequality and relative poverty of the 1980s and 1990s. They suggest that "...when people are made to feel worthless then there are more fights, more brawls, more scuffles, more bottles smashed and more knives brandished, and more young men die. The lives of young men have polarised and this inequality has curtailed opportunities; hopelessness appears to have bred fear, violence and murder."
Small changes in inequality, big impacts on violence
Using data for 39 countries covering the period 1965-1994, Fajnzylber, Lederman and Loayza  show that a small permanent decrease in inequality-such as reducing inequality from the level found in Spain to that in Canada-would reduce homicides by 20%. They also showed that a similarly small decrease in inequality would result in a 23.2% long-term reduction in robberies. The analyses took account of the possible influence of economic development, education, economic opportunities, and urbanisation. The research controlled for causality, so that results would not be affected if there was a feedback loop between income and homicide. Daly, Wilson and Vasdev  found a decrease in income inequality of 0.01 (Gini) leads to 12.7 fewer homicides per 100,000 individuals.
Click on link to read the rest of this article
Sympathy means feeling for someone usually because they are in pain - because you're both human beings.Empathy means feeling for someone usually because they are in pain - because you're both human beings AND you've had similar (sufficiently similar) experience.Compassion means having either sympathy or empathy and acting in one or more ways to ease their pain.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Friday, 25 March 2011
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Mysticism ( pronunciation (help·info); from the Greek μυστικός, mystikos, an initiate of a mystery religion) is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Mysticism usually centers on a practice or practices intended to nurture those experiences or awareness. Mysticism may be dualistic, maintaining a distinction between the self and the divine, or may be nondualistic. Differing religious traditions have described this fundamental mystical experience in different ways:
- Self-nullification (making oneself bittel, known as abnegation of the ego) and focus upon and absorption within Ein Sof Ohr: God's Infinite Light (Hassidic schools of Judaism)
- Complete non-identification with the world (Kaivalya in some schools of Hinduism, including Sankhya and Yoga; Jhana in Buddhism)
- Liberation from the cycles of Karma (Moksha in Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism, Nirvana in Buddhism)
- Deep intrinsic connection to ultimate reality (Satori in Mahayana Buddhism, Te in Taoism)
- Union with God (Henosis in Neoplatonism and Brahma-Prapti or Brahma-Nirvana in Hinduism, fana in Sufism, mukti in Sikhism)
- Theosis or Divinization, union with God and a participation of the Divine Nature (Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy)
- Innate Knowledge (Sahaja and Svabhava in Hinduism; Irfan and Sufism in Islam)
- Experience of one's true blissful nature (Samadhi Svarupa-Avirbhava in Hinduism and Buddhism)
- Seeing the Light, or "that of God," in everyone (Hinduism, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Sikhism)
- The Love of God, as in the Hinduism, Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and many other spiritual traditions
- Mahamudra and Dzogchen—meditation, the process of union with the nondual nature, in Tibetan Buddhism
- Ability to see and recognize the pattern that nothing is ultimately dependent nor independent, but that everything is only compositionary and inter-reactional including the conception of the existence or non-existence of the identity of self. Identities and labels are only practical conceptions. Theravada Buddhism
Enlightenment or Illumination are generic English terms for the phenomenon, derived from the Latin illuminatio (applied to Christian prayer in the 15th century) and adopted in English translations of Buddhist texts, but used loosely to describe the state of mystical attainment regardless of faith.
The budget will have less impact on families than decisions made by the Bank of England. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters
If George Osborne had set up not the Office of Tax Simplification but the Office of Budget Speech Simplification, maybe today he would have said: "There's no money left, so we have to raise taxes. But only the working and middle classes really pay up, so we've also raised VAT, and now we're going to hit you with more income tax, although we're calling it national insurance in the hope you won't notice.
"There's also 1p off a litre of unleaded from tonight, and a small bung on your income tax, but not for another year. Fight among yourselves over the fact that we're whipping child benefit and tax credits away from some of the slightly better-off among you. See you next year, got to go and close some schools, hospitals and libraries. Bye."
What do you think?
Click on link to read the Guardian article
Thich Nhat Hanh: Meditation Is for EveryoneTuesday, June 16, 2009Tami Simon speaks with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, poet, peace activist, and the author of over 100 books and numerous Sounds True learning programs, including The Art of Mindful Living and Living Without Stress or Fear. In this interview, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about his experience as a young monk, the engaged Buddhist movement, and the core of the Buddhist teachings: liberation through mindfulness. (45 minutes)
Click on link to hear the interview with Tami Simon
The Buddha and all sentinent beings
are nothing but expressions of the one
mind. There is nothing else.
People are scared to empty their minds
fearing that they will be engulfed by the void.
What they don’t realize is that
their own mind is the void.
Here it is – right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.
From: The Wisdom of the Zen Masters by: Timothy Freke
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Rye is highly susceptible to the ergot fungus. Consumption of ergot-infected rye by humans and animals results in a serious medical condition known as ergotism. Ergotism can cause both physical and mental harm, including convulsions, miscarriage, necrosis of digits, and hallucinations. Historically, damp northern countries that have depended on rye as a staple crop were subject to periodic epidemics of this condition. There have been "occurrence[s] of ergotism with periods where there were high incidents of people persecuted for being witches. Emphasis was placed on the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692, where there was a sudden rise in the number of people accused of being witches, but earlier examples were taken from Europe, as well."
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
This ostensibly meritorious service programme claims in the same sentence that proselitization is forbidden yet......
Here is their full entry on the issue.
'Does TMP proselytize?
No. TMP encourages your mentors to think about mentoring like a new job. Most people wouldn’t walk into a new job and hand out tracts and bibles. It is similar with mentoring. We believe it is very important to show up in the life of a child faithfully. During the course of the relationship, values will be both modeled and shared. If a child and his mother (or guardian) end up attending your faith community and following Christ (which often happens).'
Strange last (non) sentence.
The Simplest Diet for Lean Fitness
Post written by Leo Babauta.
I’m in the best shape in my life.
I’m incredibly happy to say that. For years (as many of you know) I was in terrible health — I was overweight and sedentary and addicted to junk food and a smoker and overworked.
Today after more than five years of living healthy I am about 65 pounds lighter. I’m leaner than I’ve been since probably high school with the same pants size as I had in high school (31 inches) — while being much stronger than I was back then. More importantly I am fitter: I can run and play sports and hike and do activities of all kinds better than ever before.
How have I achieved all of this? Slow change. I’ve done no fad diets or quick weight loss.
Click on link to read the whole article - it makes a lot of sense to me.
Monday, 21 March 2011
From Almonds to Yogurt, Your Edible Allies
Good news: You can easily get cheap, good-tasting medicine that helps ward off cancer, heart disease, and stroke?without even going to the pharmacy. These disease-preventing substances are in the everyday, garden-variety foods available in any grocery store.
The secret lies in eating a wide variety of foods that contain an assortment of disease-fighting substances. That way, you create a protective mosaic of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other substances that help you stay disease free. So be sure you get the five-plus servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the National Cancer Institute and leading nutritionists.
The following 100 foods stand out as top-notch disease fighters, easily found in the supermarket.
A note about serving sizes: The standard serving size for cooked vegetables or chopped raw vegetables is ½ cup and, for raw leafy vegetables, the serving size is 1 cup. For fruit a serving is one medium apple, banana, or orange or ½ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit. A serving of cooked cereal, rice, pasta, or cooked dried beans is ½ cup.
A note about the Daily Value: The Daily Value is the amount of a nutrient that scientists figure you need each day if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet. If you eat more or fewer calories, your Daily Value will be higher or lower accordingly.
A note about vitamin A: Actual vitamin A is found in animals, not plants. A source of vitamin A in our bodies, however, is beta-carotene, which is found in plants. Throughout this chapter you will note that certain vegetables or fruits are a good source of vitamin A because, through a simple process, the body converts beta-carotene into a usable form of vitamin A.
Not what you would expect to head up a list of healthy foods?almonds weigh in like sumo wrestlers in calories and fat. Fortunately, most of the fat is monounsaturated, the kind that may actually reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Cancer. A serving of almonds (the amount that fits in your hand, about an ounce, or 24 whole kernels) gives you 13.5 percent of the Daily Value for copper.
Almonds deliver copper to power up your immune system, which needs more of a boost as you get older. Plus, they provide some fiber (1.9 milligrams) and calcium to help lower your risk of colon cancer.
Heart disease and stroke. In one study, people eating 3½ ounces of almonds a day reduced cholesterol levels by 20 points. Almonds are a good source of riboflavin, which has been associated with lower heart disease rates. In addition, a handful of almonds is high in magnesium?it provides 21 percent of the Daily Value, which may help prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure.
Whole, sliced, juiced, cooked, or sauced, apples deliver protection from disease.
Click on link to dig into this massive site
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Meditation is a universal wisdom found in all spiritual traditions. We find and teach it from the Christian tradition, in which John Main said 'meditation creates community'.
Meditation reveals the depths of Christian faith: ecumenical, open to dialogue and friendship with other faiths and the secular world . Transforming us from within it it makes us ready for just and loving action.
On this site we hope you will both learn how to meditate in this tradition and also find the support necessary for the spiritual journey that follows. The psychological and physical benefits of meditation are well proven. There are also spiritual fruits to discover and share.
"In meditation our stillness is not a state of passivity but of full openness, full wakefulness to the wonder of our own being, full openness to the wonder of God, the author and the sustainer of our being, and a full awareness that we are at one with God." (John Main)
"Meditation creates community." - I like that.
Is it true and in what sense?
Saturday, 19 March 2011
DOHA: All religions have a common golden rule—compassion, and a Muslim’s Jihad is in making the compassion message of Islam a clear voice in the world, according to best-selling author Karen Armstrong.
“Religions came in certain points in history when violence and destruction had reached unprecedented crescendo. Though there are significant revealing differences, all the religions had certain values in common which have much to say to us now in the present situation,” Armstrong, who was on a recent visit to Doha told The Peninsula.
Armstrong is a best-selling author, whose books have been translated into 45 languages. She is now a UN Ambassador for the Alliance of Civilisations.
“As sort of response to the violence and to counter balance it, an ethic of compassion and ability to treat all people with absolute respect was common in all the teachings. Unfortunately religion is often seen as part of a problem as people tend to get very aggressive. But religions should be making solutions to problems of our time as they all have this ethic of compassion. They have in common the golden rule, i.e. never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself.”
In 2007, Armstrong was awarded a medal for Arts and Sciences by the Egyptian government for her services to Islam, the first foreigner to be awarded this decoration. She is also a recipient of the TED prize.
“The basic teachings of Islam are far different from what people believe.
Click on link to read the full article
Ritual isn’t about doing a routine mindlessly. It’s a way of building something good into your life, so that you don’t forget what’s important. Done mindfully, a ritual can remind you to be conscious. Done mindlessly, a ritual is meaningless.
Click on the link to read the 9 ways to make your day better - thank you to Zen Habits
Friday, 18 March 2011
Thursday, 17 March 2011
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
A second student rose to address the audience. "Do you all understand?" When there was no response, the student added, "You have just witnessed a first-rate demonstration of Zen. Are there any questions?"
After a long silence, someone spoke up. "Roshi, I am not satisfied with your demonstration. You have shown us something that I am not sure I understand. It must be possible to TELL us what Zen is."
"If you must insist on words," the Roshi replied, "then Zen is an elephant copulating with a flea."
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
G.K. Chesterton reminds us in one of his puns that wonders will never be lacking in this world of ours; what is lacking is wonderment. We need not look beyond natural laws for wonders. Natural laws themselves are wonderful enough and worth wondering. Piet Hein writes:
We glibly talk of nature’s laws
But do things have a natural cause?
Black earth becoming yellow crocus
Is undiluted hocus-pocus.
If you can’t wonder at what is natural, what would it take to make you wonder? As long as you are full of yourself, you are incapable of wonderment, and life seems empty. But in wonderment you lose yourself. “Lost, all lost in wonder,” you are emptied of your little self, and suddenly you realize how wonderful everything is, how full of wonder, how full
David Steindl-Rast beautifully and simply sums up our need to develop wonderment - ono of the great themes in the writing of Abraham Joshua Heschel - see as a starting point his 'Who is Man'.
Let's revive the Golden rule
TED Talk by Karen Armstrong - 1324 wordsPARA 1
For years I've been feeling frustrated because as a religious historian, I've become acutely aware of the centrality of compassion in all the major world faiths. Every single one of them has evolved their own version of what's being called the Golden Rule. Sometimes it comes in a positive version -- "Always treat all others as you'd like to be treated yourself." And equally important is the negative version -- "Don't do to others what you would not like them to do to you." Look into your own heart. Discover what it is that gives you pain. And then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict that pain on anybody else.PARA 2
And people have emphasized the importance of compassion, not just because it sounds good, but because it works. People have found that when they have implemented the Golden Rule as Confucius said, "all day and every day," not just a question of doing your good deed for the day and then returning to a life of greed and egotism, but to do it all day and every day, you dethrone yourself from the center of your world, put another there, and you transcend yourself. And it brings you into the presence of what's being called God, Nirvana, Rama, Tao. Something that goes beyond what we know in our ego-bound existence.PARA 3
But you know you'd never know it a lot of the time, that this was so central to the religious life. Because with a few wonderful exceptions, very often when religious people come together, religious leaders come together, they're arguing about abstruse doctrines or uttering a council of hatred or inveighing against homosexuality or something of that sort. Often people don't really want to be compassionate. I sometimes see when I'm speaking to a congregation of religious people a sort of mutinous expression crossing their faces because people often want to be right instead. And that of course defeats the object of the exercise.PARA 4
Now why was I so grateful to TED? Because they took me very gently from my book-lined study and brought me into the 21st Century, enabling me to speak to a much, much wider audience than I could have ever conceived. Because I feel an urgency about this. If we don't manage to implement the Golden Rule globally, so that we treat all peoples, wherever and whoever they may be, as though they were as important as ourselves, I doubt that we'll have a viable world to hand on to the next generation.PARA 5
The task of our time, one of the great tasks of our time, is to build a global society, as I said, where people can live together in peace. And the religions, that should be making a major contribution are instead seen as part of the problem. And of course it's not just religious people who believe in the Golden Rule. This is the source of all morality, this imaginative act of empathy, putting yourself in the place of another.PARA 6
And so we have a choice, it seems to me. We can either go on bringing out, or emphasizing the dogmatic and intolerant aspects of our faith, or we can go back to the rabbis, Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus, who, when asked by a pagan to sum up the whole of Jewish teaching while he stood on one leg, said, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah and everything else is only commentary."PARA 7
And the rabbis and the early fathers of the church who said that any interpretation of scripture that bred hatred and disdain was illegitimate. And we need to revive that spirit. And it's not just going to happen because a spirit of love wafts us down. We have to make this happen, and we can do it with the modern communications that TED has introduced. Already I've been tremendously heartened at the response of all our partners.PARA 8
In Singapore we have a group going to use the Charter to heal divisions recently that have sprung up in Singaporean society, and some members of the parliament want to implement it politically. In Malaysia there is going to be an art exhibition in which leading artists are going to be taking people, young people, and showing them that compassion also lies at the root of all art. Throughout Europe, the Muslim communities are holding events and discussions, are discussing the centrality of compassion in Islam and in all faiths.PARA 9
But it can't stop there. It can't stop with the launch. Religious teaching, this is where we've gone so wrong, concentrating solely on believing abstruse doctrines. Religious teaching must always lead to action. And I intend to work on this till my dying day. And I want to continue with our partners to do two things -- educate and stimulate compassionate thinking. Education because we've so dropped out of compassion. People often think it simply means feeling sorry for somebody. But of course you don't understand compassion if you're just going to think about it. You also have to do it.PARA 10
I want them to get the media involved because the media are crucial in helping to dissolve some of the stereotypical views we have of other people, which are dividing us from one another. The same applies to educators. I'd like youth to get a sense of the dynamism, the dynamic and challenge of a compassionate lifestyle. And also see that it demands acute intelligence, not just a gooey feeling.PARA 11
I'd like to call upon scholars to explore the compassionate theme in their own and in other people's traditions. And perhaps above all, to encourage a sensitivity about uncompassionate speaking. So that because people have this Charter, whatever their beliefs or lack of them, they feel empowered to challenge uncompassionate speech, disdainful remarks from their religious leaders, their political leaders, from the captains of industry. Because we can change the world, we have the ability.PARA 12
I would never have thought of putting the charter online. I was still stuck in the old world of a whole bunch of boffins sitting together in a room and issuing yet another arcane statement. And TED introduced me to a whole new way of thinking, and presenting ideas. Because that is what is so wonderful about TED. In this room, all this expertise, if we joined it all together we could change the world. And of course the problems sometimes seem insuperable.PARA 13
But I'd just like to quote, finish at the end with a reference to a British author, an Oxford author whom I don't quote very often, C.S. Lewis. But he wrote one thing that stuck in my mind ever since I read it when I was a schoolgirl. It's in his book The Four Loves. He said that, he distinguished between erotic love, when two people gaze, spellbound, into each other's eyes. And then he compared that to friendship. When two people stand side by side, as it were, shoulder to shoulder, with their eyes fixed on a common goal.PARA 14
We don't have to fall in love with each other, but we can become friends. And I am convinced. I felt it very strongly during our little deliberations at Vevey, that when people of all different persuasions come together, working side by side for a common goal, differences melt away. And we learn amity. And we learn to live together and to get to know one another. Thank you very much. (Applause)
-0-There is some good discussion of the video at the original TED version HERE-0-
Monday, 14 March 2011
"Humanists like the Golden Rule because of its universality, because it is derived from human feelings and experience and because it requires people to think about others and try to imagine how they might think and feel. It is a simple and clear default position for moral decision-making.", see HERE
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Jesus, Matthew 7:12
One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct....loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
Confucius, Analects 15.23
This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others
The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.
Mahavira, Sutrakritanga 1.11.33
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.
Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.
Chief Dan George
I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me.
Guru Granth Sahib, p.1299
Regard your neighbour's gain as your own gain and your neighbour's loss as your own loss.
Lao Tzu, T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.