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Monday, March 31, 2008

"Love Guru [2008]" - Cameo by Deepak Chopra

"The Love Guru" is a film by Mike Myers of Austin Powers fame, and has a cameo by New Age guru Deepak Chopra. It revolves around an American raised in an Indian ashram who returns home as a saffron-robed, hirsute, self-help guru named Pitka with a knack for solving celebrities' romantic problems. "The Love Guru" is directed by Marco Schnabel and also stars Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba & Ben Kingsley.

However, in an article posted in NewKerala.com:

New York, March 31: The concerns of Hindus in the US that upcoming Hollywood comedy "The Love Guru" may degrade their institutions has found support from leaders of other faiths, even as the film's producers have agreed to pre-screen it for Hindu representatives before its release.

Father Charles T. Durante, a Catholic priest in northern Nevada, said in a statement Sunday: "It is important that we respect those parts of every faith tradition which are held especially sacred. I applaud Paramount Pictures for being open to the request of Hindu leaders to preview this film and listen to any concerns that may arise for them."

Rajan Zed, who has delivered Hindu opening prayers in the US Senate and many state legislatures, had taken up the issue with Paramount after watching the trailer of the Mike Myers film. The comedy is about an Indian-style American guru with a knack for solving celebrities' romantic problems.

Said Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, who has a following in parts of California and Nevada: "While 'The Love Guru' appears to be a funny take on new age spirituality, it seems like it may portray many Hindu practices in a less than sensitive light. It would be appropriate for the film's producers to assure that they in no way wish to make any general statements about Hinduism."

Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., head Bishop of the International Community of Christ, said that one must take religion seriously and businesses should give due regard to the feelings of adherents of various faiths.

Some Hindu organisations have also joined the issue.

Vidya Chaitanya, director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Los Angeles, said: "The guru has traditionally been the spiritual guide or teacher and as such is respected, revered and in some cases, worshipped. This movie demeans the role of guru."

Zed has urged Paramount to be prepared to make amends if needed after it is screened for Hindu leaders.

"The Love Guru", with a cameo by new age guru Deepak Chopra, starring Ben Kingsley, Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake, appears to be using double entendres - "His karma is huge" is its tagline, and guru characters have names like Tugginmypudha, played by Kingsley.

Paramount's publicist Jessica Rovins has defended the film as a "satire created in the same spirit as 'Austin Powers'" - a series of comedies revolving around the madcap character created by Myers - which was not being made to offend anybody.

Spirituality to prevent suicides

Awakening Spirituality Can Prevent Suicides: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
from New Post India

The recent spate of suicides by poverty struck farmers and students afraid of academic failure

can be prevented by awakening spirituality in people through collective prayers, music and meditation, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar believes.'
India has been through so much. The British ruled the country, history abounds in stories of how the country was plundered by aliens - no one committed suicides then. How come now? It is because we have become so selfish that we refuse to help our neighbours. We are short on spirituality,' the Art of Living Foundation guru said here Thursday evening at the inauguration of a three-day mahasatsang.

The March 28-30 religious gathering is being organised as a tribute to his spiritual mentor Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who died in February.'

My guru Mahesh Yogi said collective prayers and meditation can awaken the dormant spirituality and virtues in man. Our duty is to make it happen through a three-fold path of music, spirituality and pranayama,' Sri Sri said.

The sprawling DDA Swarna Jayanti Park in Rohini is playing host to more than 5,000 devotees who will practise collective pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, listen to discourses by the guru and relieve stress through devotional music. It is one of the biggest-ever Art of Living spiritual retreats in the capital in recent times.

Thursday's inauguration was a spectacular show attended by the several politicians, including L.K. Advani, V.P. Singh, Buta Singh and Delhi Mayor Aarti Mehra. An entourage of Carnatic musicians comprising more than 60 percussion and veena players and flautists entertained the packed house.

People sat scattered across the carpeted venue in a semi-circle while the seer and the guests shared dais on an impressive podium erected nearly 40 feet above the ground. Two giant screens beamed the proceedings for those at the rear.

The discourse began with meditation, followed by the mayor's inaugural address. Mehta introduced the foundation to the participants of the camp - many of whom were first-timers - and listed its activity and objectives.

It was followed by a short speech by Advani, who kept his address 'apolitical and succinct' as advised by his 'guru'. Buta Singh cited an anecdote from the life of Sikh guru Sant Ravidas in paying his homage to the Art of Living founder. A commemorative volume on Sri Sri was also released on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, the spiritual guru said the country must do something for millions of its children who deserve a better future.'
If you look into the eyes of every child, there is god. You shower me with so much love, why not give some of it to the children of the country,' he said.
According to the seer, India, which is steeped in tradition of bonding and belonging, 'should learn to bear with all for a society free of tension for our children to flourish.'
Taking a leaf out of Mahesh Yogi's philosophy, he said: 'Our sages have handed us rich legacy of Vedic knowledge like Ayurveda, Gandharv Veda and the ancient sciences. We must ensure that it reaches every home.'

Sri Sri said a calm and happy mind, which only meditation and pranayama can ensure, is the only way to redeem humanity, clean up the polluted environment- both physical and mental - and end violence across the world.
Ravi Shankar told IANS that art was very relevant in life.

'It is a way of life, it enriches life and is part of man's spiritual growth. Life has to be colourful. Actually, it is full of colours. You have to recognise them and interpret them,' he said.

Sri Sri said colour, spiritual balance and social service are the essence of life.


Article Source: http://newspostindia.com/report-44988

Buddhist Christians - A New Spin

Spiritual Path Can Take Unexpected Turns:

Although critics get hung up on labels, Buddhist Christians meditate on the benefits they discover.

Joey McLeister, Star Tribune

Mary Jo Meadow is an expert on Buddhist Christians — people who apply Buddhist meditation techniques to Christian prayer.

Mary Jo Meadow avoids using what she calls the "B word." It's not the "B word" you might expect, but the retired religious studies professor says that many people consider it just as profane, in its own way.

The word is Buddhist. Meadow is considered one the world's foremost experts on Buddhist Christians, although some people try a slightly different spin by calling themselves Christian Buddhists.

"It doesn't really matter which word comes first," Meadow said. "Once people hear the 'B word,' that's all they react to. As a result, a lot of people [who practice it] keep it secret, including a man who told me, 'If my fundamentalist father-in-law found about this, I'd be dead.' "

Buddhist Christians apply Buddhist techniques -- especially meditation -- to their spiritual exploration of Christianity. Because so many people do this on the QT, no one is sure exactly how many practitioners there are, but Meadow said "it's clearly in the thousands worldwide, with more than 100 in Minnesota."

Last year, she published her second book on the subject (and her seventh overall), "Christian Insight Meditation." She proudly notes that one Roman Catholic priest wrote the introduction and another provided an endorsement for the back cover.

"There are some very highly placed Christian people who do this practice," she said. "But they keep it secret because it's seen as betraying Jesus in the minds of some people. A lot of Christian people can't get by that idea."

Marianne Hamilton, a cofounder of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) and a "hardened Catholic," went on her first Buddhist Christian retreat "so long ago that I can't even remember when it was." She still meditates for an hour a day and has started a weekly group session in her high-rise.

"It's a wonderful way of quieting yourself," she said.

Protests can't stop her

Meadow has launched a nonprofit organization, Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality, that holds workshops and retreats. In addition to teaching in Europe and Australia, she teaches community education programs through the Forest Lake school system.

Not that the classes have always been enthusiastically received. When she first offered a community ed program, "a bunch of angry men stormed the community ed office and demanded that I stop," she said.

She hardly seems the type to engender such strong ire. Having retired from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 1998, she moved to Missouri briefly before relocating to the Twin Cities to be near her children ("six homemade, two imported") and grandchildren. Meadow, 72, still bubbles with enthusiasm for teaching, interrupting herself to jump up and find a book that reinforces what she's saying.

Nor does she condemn those who condemn her program. Part of the reason is that she's stood in their shoes.

In the late 1980s, "there was a Hindu yogi who was offering a night class, and my students asked me what I thought about that," she said. "I hadn't heard him speak. I was thinking, 'I'm a Christian, what can a pagan teach me?' But the students shamed me into going to hear him. Here I was, teaching a course in religion, and I didn't know anything about this.

"So I went to hear him speak. And when he got done, I said to myself, 'There are a lot of things this man could teach me.'"

What Meadow will explain to her critics -- at least the ones who do her the courtesy of letting her respond -- is that there's a distinction between Buddhism as religion and Buddhism as a meditation technique. One is a belief system; she doesn't teach that. The other, the one she focuses on, is a process.

"Christianity includes a call to meditate, but it never provides a method of meditating, a step-by-step guide on how to do it," she said. "As a result, a lot of Christian meditation gets stale because you get stuck. The yogi saw the problem right away and helped me fix it."
For her, the turning point came when she finagled her way into an intensive meditation workshop in 1989.

"It was a three-month retreat in which there was no reading, writing or talking, except for 10 minutes a week when you met with your teacher," she said. "You weren't supposed to go unless you'd gone to some of their other retreats before, but I knew that if I checked the 'new student' box, they wouldn't let me in. So I left it blank, and they never caught it."
Multiple motivations

"There are two reasons people come to the classes," she said. "Some people come to learn how to use meditation to deal with things like pain or stress; they have no interest in the spirituality part at all. The rest come as part of a spirituality practice and discover that it helps with things like pain and stress."

And then there are a few people such as Judy Luger, who didn't sign up for the class at all but now is glad that she took it.

"Unbeknownst to me, my daughter signed me up for one community ed class in meditation and another one in pottery," she said. "That was the fall of 2005, and I'm still meditating." (By the way, she's still doing pottery, too. "There's actually a strong meditative element to pottery," she said.)

Wendy Dahlberg enrolled in one of Meadow's classes four years ago, hoping to find a way to deal with chronic pain. She's gotten so adept at it that Meadow is grooming her to be a teacher.
"I took the class for one reason, but discovered a lot of other reasons to keep taking it," she said. "I found in meditation practice a way to cope with a lot of things. It has taught me not to respond so much to what is going on around me."

Meadow said that's one of the telltale signs that a person is practicing meditation. They might keep the meditating secret, but they can't hide its effect.

"They won't tell anyone they're doing it, but a friend will notice and say, 'Gee, you're a lot easier to get along with lately,'" she said.

Articles source: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/faith/17087001.html?page=1&c=y

Spirituality accounts for children's happiness

Study: Spirituality a big part of kids' happiness

by Ron Csillag, Religion News Service

Spirituality is a major contributor to a child's overall happiness — even more so than for adults — according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

The study tested 315 children aged 9 to 12, measuring spirituality and other factors such as temperament and social relations that can affect an individual's sense of happiness.

"Our goal was to see whether there's a relation between spirituality and happiness," said Mark Holder, associate professor of psychology and the study's co-author. "We knew going in that there was such a relation in adults, so we took multiple measures of spirituality and happiness in children."

Past studies have shown that in adults, spiritual feelings and higher levels of religious behavior typically account for about 5% of a person's overall happiness, said a UBC statement.
The results of the UBC study came as a surprise: 6.5 to 16.5% of children's happiness can be accounted for by spirituality.

"From our perspective, it's a whopping big effect," said Holder. "I expected it to be much less — I thought their spirituality would be too immature to account for their well-being."

Children in the study were asked to rate statements such as "I feel a higher power's presence," and answer questions including, "how often do you pray or meditate privately outside of church or other places of worship?"

Parents were also asked to describe each child's apparent happiness and spirituality, and teachers rated each child's happiness level.
The study's authors plan to conduct the same research in India to see whether children score similar results in a country not dominated by Christianity.


Spontaneous Remission, Optimal Health And Resilience

Greater well-being is within reach
by Faith Escudero, founder of New England Optimal Health [27th March 2008]

Spontaneous remission. Optimal health. Resilience. These words point to powerful states of well-being.

A person is diagnosed with an illness of the body or mind. The doctor recommends a suitable treatment. If the body responds, healing is apparent. If the body does not, the reduced state of health is apparent. While western medicine's ability to find a successful cure expands, it is the natural capacity to heal within that renders the cure effective.
To heal is inherent, a miraculous power given at birth. Whether a broken bone mends or cancer disappears, the body is in greater alignment with its true potential for well-being. Resurrecting it or merely getting out of its way, this state can be encouraged in many ways.

Approaches can focus directly on the physical self, having secondary effects emotionally and energetically. The facilitator can specialize in a branch of Western medicine, chiropractic care, neuromuscular massage, nutrition, or Bikram yoga, to name a few. No matter the path or how knowledgeable the guide, the leaps of awareness or steps to realign with true levels of well-being must be taken by the one in need of healing.

In his 1989 book titled, "Quantum Healing," Deepak Chopra, M.D., begins with the story of Chitra, a 32-year-old woman with advanced breast cancer. As she participates in the prescribed treatment, she experiences spontaneous remission, which he refers to as quantum healing. He has learned from spontaneous remission research each patient experiences a dramatic shift of "awareness" directly before the healing occurs. As in the case of Chitra, it can be deliberately fostered.

Another vital avenue to heal is to directly focus on unleashing the power of the mind. It has direct results physically, emotionally, and energetically. Common techniques are guided imagery, conscious intentions, and meditation. Each creates space for the mind to clear and the health within to flow freely throughout. Focusing on greater knowledge of the mind (what it is, how it clears and more) takes the participant to the next level.

Aligning knowledge with capability actually includes greater awareness of the three principles, mind, thought, consciousness, for they work in tandem. These three essential elements are the ability to experience the moment. Greater knowledge results in using them more properly moment to moment as well as intentional use of their more valuable features.

A good example is a job with many deadlines. This can typically be experienced as stressful. Through greater understanding as to the true origin of stress, one is better able to experience the deadlines in many other ways. This results in wreaking less havoc on the physical self, better job performance, and greater enjoyment of the job. Greater knowledge of these three powerful gifts also paves the way to become more aware from within of limiting habits, reducing access to health lying inside.

We are born with an unlimited capacity to heal. The key is greater awareness. Greater awareness is unlimited. One has the choice to set his or her gaze in this direction when life is demanding it, before life demanding it, or not at all. Moving to the next level can be more natural than you think.


Meditation, Not coffee, to start your day

Spirituality: the next Starbucks?

by Sarah McLean Sedona, AZ [March 29, 2008]

Millions of people from around the globe have been logging on to Oprah.com for Eckhart Tolle's New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose book study and webinar.

It is the NY Times #1 bestseller at the moment. What is going on? Are meditation and spirituality going mainstream? I hope so.

Spirituality isn't just confined to the New Age movement anymore, it is undeniably migrating to the center of mainstream cultural awareness. I mean, Oprah meditating live in front of millions of people? Yes, it happened.
What used to be considered a private aspect of life is spilling over into the public domain and onto the internet. Spirituality is becoming more popular, trendy even. And I am happy about that.

People are actually shopping for meaning and purpose. My husband is reading Michael Moe's book, Finding the Next Starbucks, that says spirituality is a trend that is growing dramatically. I often imagine a meditation center next to every Starbucks. Meditation is a great way to start a day, better even than a grande half-caf soy latte.

When I worked at the Chopra Center in California, we started our day with a group meditation. It actually made my job easier. If for some reason I was late doing it, or had to miss it all together, I really felt it. It's almost like not having your cup of coffee in the morning.
I believe the single, most significant step to opening your awareness or awakening to who you really are is by meditating every day. Don't know how? Don't worry, you can do it and you don't have to join a religion, wear special robes, eat differently or believe anything. You don't even have to stop thinking. Find a meditation class that focuses on a type of silent meditation, and be sure that it doesn't emphasize any goal - like finding your animal totem, spiritual guide, or figuring out your past lives.
It is only when your mind is still, that you can truly experience the your true essence , your true self - the you that is beyond the roles you play and your self image.
The journey toward self-discovery that silent daily meditation activates will bring you inner contentment and clarity more quickly and completely than any other single activity I know. And once you experience the restful, deep stillness and peace that meditation provides, you will radiate that peacefulness to others. And over time, you'll want to meditate more than you want that cup of coffee in the morning!
Recently featured in the NY Times and quickly becoming recognized as the face of mainstream meditation, Sarah McLean, director of the Sedona Meditation Training Company, inspires seekers worldwide to "take time out for time in" through meditation.
Phoenix Woman calls Sarah, "an inspirational and dynamic teacher." She is recommended by Dr. Deepak Chopra, and she recently won the 2008 National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
Sarah McLean is a sought-after presenter on the subject of meditation, stress-reduction and self awareness and is a frequent guest on KAZTV's AM Arizona.


Deepak Chopra endorses Barack Obama?

Spiritual author offers another understanding of Jesus
'Third Jesus' is mystical and radical, but not institutional, Deepak Chopra says.

When Deepak Chopra's new book "The Third Jesus" landed on my desk, I was worried. I wondered, half seriously, whether I had missed the second Jesus.

I have to admit I was tempted to cast the book onto my pile of other titles offering new insights on the Christian messiah. But when I found out Chopra, a famous author and advocate of alternative medicine, would be visiting BookPeople today, I decided to crack "The Third Jesus." It opens this way:

"Jesus left behind a riddle that two thousand years of worship hasn't solved. The riddle can be stated in one sentence: Why are Jesus' teachings impossible to live by?"

Not difficult, mind you. Not challenging. But impossible. I was intrigued.

The third Jesus, Chopra said, stands behind the historical Jesus and the institutional Jesus created by church leaders to fit a theology. The third Jesus, he says, is mystical, cosmic and far more challenging to follow.

Of course, Chopra isn't the first writer to call for a closer examination of Jesus' message or to argue that most Christians don't really understand their own faith. But he provides a unique perspective, having learned about Jesus and the Golden Rule as a non-Christian from Irish Catholic missionaries in India and having moved from a fascination with the rituals of the Catholic Church to a deeper appreciation of Christ's radical teachings.

He said he came to realize that the Golden Rule, taken literally, means you must treat your enemy as your equal, "which means in essence you can have no enemies," Chopra writes. "It calls upon a country not to wage war (or defend itself if attacked). It demands complete empathy for criminals and evildoers."

Many Christians would not agree with this interpretation. But at a time when it seems more believers are searching for ways to carry out that radical message in their daily lives, Chopra's ideas are an important part of the conversation.

In a phone interview, Chopra explained the three distinct concepts of Jesus and talked openly about the use of Jesus in the political sphere (he likes Sen. Barack Obama's approach).
Chopra breaks down the three versions of Jesus like this: First we have the historical Jesus, the man who lived some two millennia ago in Judea, the man about whom we have recorded, albeit differing, accounts.

The second Jesus, he said, represents the institution of the church, which dates to Constantine's conversion in the 4th century, when Christianity became the official Roman religion.
The institution-created Jesus, he says, fueled the crusades, abortion clinic bombings and homophobia. Yet, were it not for the institution, he added, "I wouldn't be speaking English with you right now. ... You wouldn't have all this wonderful work going on in Africa. So this institutional Jesus has two faces: divine and diabolical."

But the third Jesus, he said, reveals the divine within everyone.

One of the complaints I hear from Christians is that Jesus gets used as a political football, an idea I couldn't resist raising with Chopra as we find ourselves approaching of the presidential primaries here in Texas.

"Do you ever hear any hint of the third Jesus in the rhetoric of the current presidential candidates?" I asked him.

Chopra didn't miss a beat.

"I do not," he said, "for the simple reason that politics is unfortunately a game of power, and when you play that game, you say what you think will be perceived as the most popular thing to say."

But, he quickly added, "I sense a spiritual awakening when Obama speaks. And he doesn't evoke religion to do it. ... He's not pandering to religious belief, and yet his message is very transformative and refreshing and spiritual to me."


Jesus Once Ran For President

Here is an interesting article I found in washingtonpost.com written by Deepak Chopra, who is a panelist of "On Faith - A Conversation On Religion with Jon Meacham & Sally Quinn"

Why Jesus Lost the Nomination?

Actually, it seems to be forgotten that Jesus once ran for President, and the result was a fiasco. Since the first plank of his platform was "Love your enemies," he had no choice but to seek the nomination of both parties at the same time, promising to merge the two into one. Republicans and Democrats were brought up short by the idea. Jesus called it a win-win situation for them, given the enormous savings in campaign costs. Pollsters were bothered by Jesus's claim that he knew how the election would turn out in advance. It seems that his Father, who has a finger in everything, had tipped him off.

As it turns out, Jesus's other planks caused even more problems on the bumpy road to the nomination. The second one was "Money is at the root of all evil." This forced his campaign to refuse contributions from lobbyists and special interest groups. For a long time Jesus hadn't been returning phone calls from K Street -- something to do with his third plank, "Resist not evil." On the other hand, this plank earned him unexpected popularity because of its enormous tax benefits. A country that doesn't resist evil would not wage war and therefore had no need for the Pentagon or the military-industrial complex. Jesus pointed out that the cost of a few Stealth bombers could finance all the symphony orchestras and day care centers in the country.

Contented babies would have time for Mozart. Democrats liked the proposition better than Republicans, which cynics attributed to the higher birth rate among Democrats. (Behind his back the Republican smear machine started the rumor that Jesus was against sex and would abolish births altogether.) What finally sank the "Audacity of Salvation" campaign, however, was Jesus's policy about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. This was widely interpreted as a coded way of giving Congress a substantial pay raise if Jesus was elected. But when close reading revealed that he also wanted to render unto God what is God's, enthusiasm quickly soured. Democrats, always the party of intellectuals, went back to reading Dostoevsky's "The Grand Inquisitor," while Republicans, eager to build upon the Bush administration's impeccable civil liberties record, nominated an actual inquisitor. Jesus shrugged it all off as God's will. He has promised to return again and run under the slogan, "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Talk about an insurgent candidate.

World To Watch Vesak In Vietnam

VietnamNet Bridge – Vietnamese people and Buddhists are looking ahead to the largest international celebration of Buddhism, to be held in Vietnam for the first time this May. And make no mistake – they are aware of the importance.

Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Tu sits with a group of monks in a temple room at 2am, planning meticulously for the Buddha's big day: the United Nations Day of Vesak 2008 (UNDV) in Vietnam. He has just arrived from his monastery in Ho Chi Minh City to this hundreds-of-years-old Buddhist temple in Hanoi, to attend the March Second Preparatory Meeting of the International Organising Committee (IOC) for UNDV 2008.

This short and bespectacled hard-working master is also the secretary of IOC for the UNDV 2008, the biggest international Buddhist event, to be held in Hanoi from May 14 to17. Realising the immense importance of this international event for Vietnamese Buddhists, the government and the public, Master Nhat Tu has been working unceasingly and has come to represent the face of Vietnamese Buddhist preparations for the event.

“It is a moment of great honour for the Vietnamese people and Buddhists to organise this sacred event of international scale. We all are working against the clock to ensure successful celebrations,” stresses Master Nhat Tu, as he keys in on his laptop, rapidly.

Buddhism has a history of more than 2000 years in Vietnam. It has witnessed certain turbulent periods in the country and many view the forthcoming international Vesak celebrations as an important opportunity, a sort of moment of revival for Buddhism.

United Nations in a resolution in 1999 decided to celebrate the thrice-sacred day of Vesak in the month of May. The first celebrations were held in the year 2000 at United Nations headquarters in New York. They have successfully been held in Bangkok since 2004. This is the first time that Vietnam has gotten the chance and the responsibility of hosting this international Buddhist event.

The UN Vesak celebrations this May will commemorate the 2252nd Year of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the Buddha Gautama. The event is seen as an opportunity to spread worldwide the Buddha's message of peace, love and harmony for the welfare of humanity. This year's UNDV celebrations in Hanoi mark an apparent shift from the previous celebrations in Bangkok, particularly in the choice of conferences, themes and approaches, peculiar only to Vietnam's current social, political, economic and religious ground realities.

The main theme of the conferences is: Buddhist Contributions to Building a Just, Democratic and Civilised Society. Sub themes of current importance where Buddhism can make a difference are: climate change, family conflicts, war and healing, social change, Buddhist education, engaged Buddhism and Buddhism in the digital age. World-famous Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is to organise a spiritual retreat for 400 participants during the celebrations.

IOC chairperson and vice-president of Vietnam Buddhist University, Most Ven. Professor Dr Le Manh That, said that the Buddhist world is looking forward to UNDV celebrations in Hanoi. “Local Buddhists are in high spirits too. After all, it’s a realisation of the long-standing wish of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha. The event points to the greater role we all can play in building a harmonious society. We are ready to welcome the world’s delegates.”

Since the First IOC Preparatory Meeting in Ho Chi Minh City three months ago, the preparations for the UNDV celebrations have generated tremendous enthusiasm among Buddhists as well as the general public throughout Vietnam, including big cities and remote provinces. People are waiting for the event with excitement and expectations, both from spiritual and cultural perspectives. The celebrations have been extended to include 54 cities and provinces by the government.

To facilitate the swarm of activities during the celebrations, the IOC, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and the National Coordinating Committee are working together to make the event a success, both locally and internationally. The support from the government is forthcoming as evident from the fact the National Coordinating Committee is being headed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam.

Ven. Dr T Dhammaratana, consultant to UNESCO and IOC vice-chairman, has expressed satisfaction with the ongoing preparations and thanked the Vietnamese government and Buddhists for their dedicated efforts towards the success of the event. An IOC member from Australia, Dr Colin Butler, expressed confidence about the state of preparations: “I am feeling very enthusiastic as the workshops are coming out well. The workshops are focused, directly linked to the pressing issues that humanity is confronted with today. I see more acceptance of Buddhist values worldwide, and am sure Buddhism can make a real contribution in solving the problems of humanity.”

The celebrations are expected to enhance the moral, emotional and spiritual lives of Vietnamese people, besides addressing the issues faced by humanity. Consequently, local Buddhist leaders are leaving no stone unturned as they view UNDV celebrations as an opportunity to impress upon the world as to what kind of contributions Vietnam and the Vietnamese Buddhists can make both on domestic and international fronts.

Dr Elise De Vido, an IOC member from Taiwan, aptly sums up the UNDV’s importance for local Buddhists: “Five years ago it would have been unthinkable of Vietnam holding this event. It shows how much Buddhist circles have worked to gain more voice and space in Vietnam. The conference in May is really a test for the Vietnamese Buddhists to prove themselves to their government and to the Buddhists world over. Vesak in May 2008 will be their chance.”

IOC deputy secretary from Malaysia, Mr. Mr. Goh Seng Chai, agrees. “The world’s expectations are high. We must support the Vietnamese Sangha to do their best. I am quite happy with the preparations so far. The government’s support has been very encouraging. There is huge participation from all levels on all fronts,” said the deputy secretary.

Thousands of people including international delegates from more than 70 countries are expected to participate in the historic Hanoi Vesak celebrations. It’s a landmark moment for the Vietnamese Buddhists and the government as the whole world looks towards the UN Vesak Celebrations in Vietnam with high expectations.

Master Nhat Tu assures us with his benign smile: “The task is mammoth and challenging, no doubt. But we are dedicated and determined in the guidance of Lord Buddha to make the celebrations a great success. We are working day and night, remembering well that nothing great ever came easy.”

By Dr Manpreet Singh
(United Nations Day of Vesak International Organization Committee)

Eckhart Tolle on The Oprah Winfrey Show

Eckhart Tolle: America's Guru Of The Moment

San Francisco: Earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey looked into a camera and announced to the world that she was about to do the "most exciting thing I've ever done." Addressing an Internet audience, Winfrey said: "I am most proud of the fact that all of you have joined us in this global community to talk about what I believe is one of the most important subjects. And presented by one of the most important books of our times."

Sitting across from her was the book's author, a somewhat mysterious man named Eckhart Tolle. And if you haven't heard of him, you haven't spent much time in the self-help section of a bookstore in the last decade or so.

Tolle, 60, is the German-born spiritual speaker and author of "The Power of Now." With a seemingly limitless pool of middle-class discontent to tap into - and a major push from Winfrey - he has become the most popular spiritual author in the United States. His books hold the top two spots on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback advice books. Since March 3, he has been host to a weekly online seminar series alongside Winfrey in support of his 2005 book, "A New Earth," which is her latest book club selection and No. 1 on the list.

His secret, according to fans, publishing industry experts and booksellers, is packing thousands of years of teaching - from Buddha, Jesus, Shakespeare and even the Rolling Stones - into what one of his publishers, Constance Kellough, called "a clean contemporary bottle."

"He's essentially taken some of the wisdom of the ages and said, 'Let me make this easier for you,' " said Vivien Jennings, a major independent bookseller in Fairway, Kansas.

Tolle, who declined to be interviewed for this article, describes his message as both simple to learn and potentially world changing. In short, he believes that followers should turn off the mind's chatter, embrace the present and drop the ego, which he sees as a manipulative and divisive force. "The ego always wants something from other people or situations," Tolle writes. "There is always a hidden agenda, always a sense of 'not enough yet,' of insufficiency."

It is a message that resonates with baby boomers like Rachelle Quimby, 54, of San Anselmo, California, who attended two sold-out speeches by Tolle in Marin County in early March. Quimby, who said she belonged to two Eckhart Tolle groups devoted to meditation and watching his videos, said she worried about the world as much as she fretted about the ride home. "There's a lot of things wrong with the world: war, conflict, road rage," she said. "He's taught me to be more present. And if you're present with yourself, how can you scream at somebody on the road or bomb another country?"

Tolle suggests that by living in the moment and in touch with what he calls "the totality," good things may start happening to you.

For all his fame, many details of Tolle's personal history are murky. A biography provided by his American paperback publisher, Plume, offered few hints beyond his educational background, including a stint at Cambridge and his current hometown, Vancouver, British Columbia, where he lives with his business partner and girlfriend, Kim Eng. A spokesman for the university confirmed Tolle began work on a doctorate degree there in 1977, but did not finish.

Tolle's own representatives had fewer details. "We don't have a lot of knowledge about Eckhart Tolle as a person," said a woman who answered the phone last week at the Vancouver office of Eckhart Teachings, and who asked not to be identified.

According to past interviews and various published accounts, however, Tolle was born as Ullrich Tolle in Lünen, Germany, in 1948. Tolle says his family left Germany when he was 13 and he subsequently studied at the University of London. (The spokesman for the university could not divulge information without Tolle's permission.)

In the introduction to "The Power of Now," Tolle said he suffered from "a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression" until he was 29, when he had a personal epiphany. "I heard the words 'resist nothing' as if spoken inside my chest," he writes, saying he felt he was falling into a void. "Suddenly, there was no more fear."

But what happened for the next 15 years is unclear; Tolle writes that he spent time wandering and sitting in London's parks, with "no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity," but a sense of "intense joy." At some point, he changed his name to Eckhart in deference to the 13th-century German theologian, Meister Eckhart, and started teaching around England as a spiritual coach.

In Vancouver in the mid-1990s, Tolle met Kellough, a marketing executive who held casual meditation sessions in her office waiting area. Shortly after, Kellough published "The Power of Now" on her start-up imprint, Namaste, in 1997. Two years later, the book was picked up by New World Library, a larger New Age publisher in Novato, California. A year after that, Winfrey made a small mention of the book in an early issue of O: The Oprah Magazine. In 2002, Winfrey told her television audience that the book was "essential spiritual teaching." The book has sold about 5 million copies worldwide, according to New World Library.

Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, said that Tolle was just part of a surging market that includes "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne and "Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert, two other spiritually minded, mass-appeal best sellers backed by Winfrey.

"The books are really all the same," Nelson said. "The message is how to be happier, how to live the life you want, how to be at peace, how to be a more successful human. The genre never goes away, it just slightly changes its form. But it's doing amazingly well right now."


Source: Jesse McKinley on March 25th, 2008 in the International Herald Tribune - http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/24/arts/tolle.php?page=1

About Eckhart Tolle

About Eckhart Tolle - source: http://eckharttolle.com/eckhart_biography

Spiritual Teacher and author was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of twenty-nine a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later, he began to work in London with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Since 1995 he has lived in Vancouver, Canada.

Eckhart Tolle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) and the highly acclaimed follow-up A New Earth, which are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time.

Eckhart’s profound yet simple teachings have already helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.

Eckhart is a sought-after public speaker and teaches and travels extensively throughout the world. Many of his talks, intensives and retreats are published on CD and DVD. Most of the teachings are given in English, but occasionally Eckhart also gives talks in German and Spanish. In addition to The Power of Now and A New Earth, Eckhart has written a book designed for meditative reading entitled Stillness Speaks. A book consisting of selections from The Power of Now is also available, entitled Practicing the Power of Now.

About Deepak Chopra

About Deepak Chopra - source: http://www.chopra.com/aboutdeepak

DEEPAK CHOPRA, M.D. Chairman and co-Founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California.

Acknowledged as one of the world's greatest leaders in the field of mind body medicine, Deepak Chopra, M.D. continues to transform our understanding of the meaning of health. Through his creation of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California in 1996, Chopra established a formal vehicle for the expansion of his healing approach using the integration of the best of western medicine with natural healing traditions. Dr. Chopra serves as the Director of Education at The Chopra Center, which offers training programs in mind body medicine such as the Perfect Health life management program and the Journey into Healing workshop which fuses modern science and Ayurveda. Through his partnership with David Simon, M.D. and numerous health care professionals in both conventional and complementary healing arts, Chopra's work is changing the way the world views physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellness.

What prompted Deepak Chopra to expand his view of conventional medicine to embrace complementary treatments from around the world? Formerly the Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, Dr. Chopra built a successful endocrinology practice in Boston in the 1980's. His teaching affiliations included Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine. Chopra realizedin his medical practice that there was potential in western medicine for the establishment of a new life-giving paradigm, one which encompassed the fundamental principle that perfect health is more than just the absence of disease. He began to envision a medical system based upon the premise that health is a lively state of balance and integration of body, mind and spirit. He is widely credited with melding modern theories of quantum physics with the timeless wisdom of ancient cultures. In 1992, he served on the National Institutes of Health Ad Hoc Panel on Alternative Medicine.

Having just authored Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment, Chopra is known as the prolific author of over 49 books, more than 100 audio, video and CD-ROM titles which have been translated into 35 languages. His book, Peace Is the Way (Harmony Books) won the Quill Award and The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of your Life was awarded the Nautilus Award. Some of his best-sellers include The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence., How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries, Perfect Health; Ageless Body, Timeless Mind; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Grow Younger, Live Longer: 10 Steps to Reverse Aging; and The Path to Love and Kama Sutra: Including the Seven Spiritual Laws of Love. Chopra has published numerous books focusing on health issues that include Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth; The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook: Forty Natural Prescriptions for Perfect Health; Perfect Weight: The Complete Mind / Body Program For Achieving and Maintaining Your Ideal Weight; Restful Sleep: The Complete Mind / Body Program For Overcoming Insomnia; Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind / Body Medicine; and Creating Health. Popular audio books and CD-ROMS include Magical Mind, Magical Body; The Higher Self; Journey to the Boundless; and The Wisdom Within. Many know him from his regular work with PBS, which includes The Soul of Healing: Body, Mind, and Soul; Body, Mind and Soul: The Mystery and The Magic, one of the most highly viewed and successful fund-raisers in the history of the network; and The Way of the Wizard, Alchemy and The Crystal Cave. His latest book is Power, Freedom, and Grace: Living from the Source of Lasting Happiness.

Deepak Chopra's popularity as an international presenter and keynote speaker is exemplified in an impressive list of honorariums. As the keynote speaker, he appeared at the inauguration of the State of the World Forum, hosted by Mikhail Gorbachev and the Peace and Human Progress Foundation, founded by the former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace prizewinner Oscar Arias. Esquire Magazine designated him as one of the top ten motivational speakers in the country; and in 1995, he joined the distinguished company of President Nelson Mandela, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Tom Peters and Garrison Keillor as a recipient of the Toastmasters International Top Five OutstandingSpeakers award. He participates annually as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine event sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 1997. Chopra has been a keynote speaker at several academic institutions including Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Business School, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Kellogg School of Management and University of Nebraska. He is the recipient of the Einstein Award through Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with the American Journal of Psychotherapy. Along with Nobel Peace Laureates Oscar Arias, Betty Williams and others, Deepak Chopra is a founding director of and President of the Alliance for a New Humanity. The Alliance for a New Humanity is committed to creating a critical mass of consciousness in the world for social justice, economical freedom, ecological balance and conflict resolution. Chopra joined The Gallup Organization as a Senior Scientist in 2005. He regularly mentors corporate and political leaders through his Soul of Leadership workshops.

Through The Chopra Center, Dr. Chopra is revolutionizing common wisdom about the crucial connection between body, mind, spirit, and healing. His mission of "bridging the technological miracles of the west with the wisdom of the east" remains his thrust as he and his colleagues conduct public seminars and workshops and provide training for health care professionals around the world. Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

Deepak founded the Chopra Center more than a decade ago with David Simon, MD to create a place where individuals from around the world could come to balance, heal, and transform. In addition to the Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California, there is a Chopra Center & Spa at Dream NY in Manhattan and a future location in Westminster, Colorado.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 4th to 17th, 2008

Thich Nhat Nanh will be in Hanoi, Vietnam for a special “Retreat and Conference on Engaged Buddhism” on May 4th to 17th, 2008.

The conference will focus on the following seven themes:

  • War, Conflict and Healing: A Buddhist Perspective

  • Buddhist Contribution to Social Justice

  • Engaged Buddhism and Development

  • Care for Our Environment: Buddhist Response to Climate Change

  • Family Problems and the Buddhist Response

  • Symposium on Buddhist Education: Continuity and Progress

  • Symposium on Buddhism in the Digital Age

For more information and registration please go to: http://www.plumvillage-vn.org/

About Thich Nhat Hanh

About Thich Nhat Hanh (”affectionately known as Thay by his students worldwide) - source: http://www.plumvillage.org/HTML/ourteacher.html.

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the “engaged Buddhism” movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society. In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has also received recognition for his work with Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of accessible poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love, The Path of Emancipation, and Anger. In September 2001, just a few days after the suicide terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech at Riverside Church in New York City. In September of 2003 he addressed members of the US Congress, leading them through a two-day retreat.

Thich Nhat Hanh continues to live in Plum Village in the meditation community he founded, where he teaches, writes, and gardens; and he leads retreats worldwide on “the art of mindful living.”