Spiritual Village Latest Posts

Search Spiritual Village & The World Wide Web

Custom Search

Friday, May 30, 2008

Shaking Meditation

By Emma Mahony
In Telegraph, UK

Picture taken from Telegraph, UK.

First, from India, came Transcendental Meditation. Now, from Bali, comes Shaking Meditation.

Most weekly group shaking sessions last for two hours, including a 'clearing' prayer at the end Since it was introduced to the UK nine years ago, groups have popped up in Hastings, Hertford, Huddersfield and almost everywhere in between. It can only be a matter of time before the celebrity yoga set joins experienced "shakers" and jets off to the ashram in Bali where it all started with the "enlightened master" Ratu Bagus.

"For the Westerner, it is a wonderful way to relieve stress in a physical way," says Kamini Hola, a former businesswoman in Brussels who gave it all up at the age of 34 to become a yoga teacher. It was Kamini who first demonstrated her hour-long daily practice to me.

Most weekly group shaking sessions last for two hours, including a "clearing" prayer at the end, a short meditation and a group circle chat. Kamini's practice involves keeping her feet firmly on the ground, while vibrating like a child doing an impression of receiving an electric shock. It's all rather reminiscent of Eighties pop sensation Shakin' Stevens.

I join a shaking group in Hastings. Many of the participants have just come back from a week's retreat in Rome, where Ratu Bagus (meaning "Good King") was helping 230 Europeans through their various "processes". The aim was to shake out physical and emotional ''blocks" and ''get the energy".

A Picture of Ratu Bagus taken from Ratu Bagus website

"The block is something negative that complicates the functions of our body," says Ratu Bagus, who believes that all sickness comes from the mind. "The technique is to get the energy flowing in our bodies and to surrender to the energy and accept it with a smile."

To help them receive this energy, shaking groups recreate a sort of rave party, complete with trance music, candles, joss sticks and a poster of the enlightened master. Some even use tobacco, albeit in its pure herbal form, which they place between gum and lower lip to help them focus.

It's not for me, although I'm all for people dancing, laughing hysterically and screaming when they feel like it. My main concern is that although my visit leaves me feeling energised, those who seem to be "processing" strongly, in an almost religious trance, are supported only by other group members. Surely this level of intensity should carry a health warning?

"There is support within the group," counters Kamini. "Many shakers are trained therapists, and in my experience the 'energy' and its intelligence will only give us what we can cope with."

For a second opinion, I ask cognitive behavioural psychotherapist Dr George Fieldman. ''Meditation certainly has its place in enhancing mental wellbeing," he says. ''But I wouldn't ask any of my clients to embrace this particular version until it has been subject to a scientific evaluation and shown to be safe."

In other words, shake at your own risk.

For more information on shaking meditation, visit http://www.ratubagus.com/.

Non-Violent Action as Spiritual Practice

By Daniel Pinchbeck
In Common Ground

This spring, New York City hosted a series of events to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s movement of satyagraha, “truth-force,” the use of non-violent activism as a political technique. Gandhi has become one of those saints from the distant past whose name is frequently invoked without thought to the nature of his achievements. When we consider the violence saturating the world today, it is remarkable to recall that satyagraha triumphed over the British Empire, winning independence for India. This victory required great sacrifice and acceptance of privations, violent attacks and imprisonment on the part of many thousands, Hindus and Muslims alike, who joined his movement.

Gandhi’s spiritual practice of active nonviolence is very different from the passive doctrine of ahimsa, “nonharming,” that has gained popularity in the yoga community of the West. Ahimsa is ideally suited for a situation where nobody is seeking to cause you harm. If you find yourself in imminent danger, or caught in a larger system of oppression, different measures need to be taken. Techniques of satyagraha can include protests, strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns, civil disobedience and so on. “No government can exist for a single moment without the cooperation of the people, willing or forced, and if people withdraw their cooperation in every detail, the government will come to a standstill,” Gandhi noted.

Gandhi believed spiritual concepts had no value unless they were directly applied to our situation on the earth. “Without a direct active expression of it, non-violence, to my mind, is meaningless,” he stated. The New Age movement in the West has allowed for a convenient schism between personal practices and principles. Among the privileged elite, many people who profess spiritual beliefs succeed within a system that violates their ideals. Among people I know, it still seems “cool” to be a yogini and vegan while modeling for cosmetics companies with shoddy environmental records, or practice Buddhist meditation while writing ad campaigns for corporations that use Third World sweatshop labor.

At St. John’s Cathedral near Columbia University, an evening was dedicated to satyagraha and climate change, featuring music by Phillip Glass and Odetta. The suggestion of this event was that the nonviolent methods developed by Gandhi could be used to oppose governments and corporations that have failed to address this great threat to humanity. Such a movement does not seem to be arising at this present time, and instituting it presents unique challenges.

While racism or imperialism are obvious enemies, many of the issues facing us now are more intangible. As Buckminster Fuller wrote, “No human chromosomes say ‘make the world work for everybody’ — only mind can tell you that.” It would be reasonable for people to demand a far more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, reduction of labor time, immediate world peace, public oversight of science and technology, and a rapid transition to sustainable practices and alternative energy sources. A global “Marshal Plan” to reduce carbon emissions and stabilize the climate system is needed, along with a deployment of techniques to reverse pollution of the biosphere. The universal nature of such demands makes them seem unrealizable, although their logic is not hard to grasp.

When we consider the digital networks that spread information and ideas across the planet instantly, the chance for a global satyagraha movement to arise cannot be dismissed. The vast protests against the Iraq War in 2003 appeared suddenly, and disappeared just as quickly. Another inciting event, such as a war or tactical strike, might incite a wave of popular resistance that would not end after a march or two, but swell into a real movement of civil disobedience.

Nonviolence can only succeed when peace is converted from a passive wish to a constant activity. As Mark Kurlansky writes in Non-Violence: The History of a Dangerous Idea, a well-organized nonviolent movement poses a greater threat to an oppressive power than any other form of resistance. As appears to have happened recently in Tibet, oppressive regimes will seek to provoke nonviolent resistors into violating their creed, so they can take drastic reprisals. “History teaches over and over again that a conflict between a violent and a nonviolent force is a moral argument,” Kurlansky writes. “The lesson is that if the nonviolent side can be led to violence, they have lost the argument and they are destroyed.”

We now know the earth’s climate system does not change slowly, but goes through radical and sudden breaks. Glaciologists found that “roughly half of the entire warming between the ice ages and the postglacial world took place in only a decade,” writes Fred Pearce in With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change, with a temperature increase of 9 degrees during that time. In the past two centuries, humanity has increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere by about a third. Our continued tinkering runs the risk “of producing a runaway change — the climactic equivalent of a squawk on a sound system.”

In the United States alone, tens of millions of people now practice spiritual disciplines such as Buddhism and yoga, shamanism and Qi Gong. If this conscious and privileged subset were to band together, we could apply our spiritual ideals in a social movement. We could use the techniques of active nonviolence practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King to confront our out-of-control military complex and corporate structure, and demand the changes necessary for the safety of our children and our own future survival.

Japan: 72% Irreligious; 56% Believe in Supernatural

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Seventy-two percent of Japanese do not have any specific religious affiliation, but many still believe in supernatural forces, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

According to the survey, 26 percent of respondents said they believed in a religion, virtually unchanged from a similar survey conducted three years ago. Only 37 percent said religion was important for living a happy life.

Views of people's religious sentiment were split, with 45 percent of respondents saying Japanese had little religious faith while 49 percent thought otherwise.

However, 94 percent of respondents said they respected their ancestors, and 56 percent claimed to have had some form of supernatural experience.

The results suggested that many Japanese feel little affinity to a particular religion, but many do harbor feelings of respect for things that are scientifically unproven.

The Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed 3,000 randomly selected people across the country face-to-face on May 17-18, of whom 1,837 gave valid answers.

Asked about what happens to people's spirits after they die, 30 percent said they believed they would be reincarnated, 24 percent said they would go to another world and 18 percent answered they would vanish.

The recent popularity of new forms of spirituality and other new age-related beliefs, such as an interest in previous lives and guardian angels, was particularly prominent among female respondents. Although 21 percent of all respondents said they were interested in such thinking--far below the 75 percent who were not--27 percent of women saw the appeal of such beliefs, whereas only 13 percent of men said they felt this way.

To the question about what should be taught as religious education at school, 71 percent said students should be taught about "respect for life and nature," 31 percent said "histories of major religions," and 21 percent selected "the meaning of religion" and "tolerance for people of other faiths." Only 7 percent preferred not to have religion taught at school.

Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer to this question.

Views on religious groups were somewhat standoffish, with 47 percent saying these groups' activities were unclear, and 43 percent believing they use fear-mongering and other aggressive approaches to disseminate their beliefs. Thirty-six percent said they felt these groups were good at raising large amounts of money.

These three answers occupied the top three slots to the same question in Yomiuri surveys in May 1998 and August 2005.

Incense Fights Depression, Anxiety

Frankincense on Coal (picture taken from wikipedia)

Religious leaders have long contended that burning incense is good for the soul. Now biologists have discovered that it's good for the brain, too.

In a study appearing in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), an international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University, have discovered that burning frankincense activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety and depression.

"We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior," said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the study's co-authors. "Apparently most present day worshippers assume that incense-burning has only a symbolic meaning."

When researchers administered incensole acetate to mice, they found it significantly affected areas in the brain known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits affected by current anxiety and depression drugs.

Millions of Americans could benefit from this discovery. According to the National Institutes of Health, major depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15-44 and affect approximately 14.8 million adults. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults and frequently co-occur with depressive disorders.

This discovery suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be closer than we think. However, this won't be the first time a substance used in a religious ceremony has advanced modern science.

"Morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of the FASEB journal. "Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology."

This latest discovery may also help scientists better understand diseases of the nervous system.

It also confirms what the faithful have known all along. "This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language and religion," Dr. Weissmann said. "Burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's Making Your Kids Happy?

By Lena Sin , Canwest News Service
In Canada.com

Chances are they're looking to a higher power

Four years ago, two American psychologists asked a simple question: What do you want for your children? More than 10,000 adults in 48 countries across six continents responded overwhelmingly with one answer: for their children to be happy.

While hardly a surprising answer, it underscored the fact that academics knew virtually nothing about what makes children happy.

Psychologist Mark Holder decided to take up the challenge, and a new study by the University of British Columbia professor is having some surprising results.

Spirituality -- defined as an inner belief system--accounted for 8% to 17% of the average child's sense of happiness, the study showed.

By contrast, money, the marital status of parents and the child's gender didn't even register 1%.

"It's a whopping big effect," said Holder, especially since spirituality accounts for 4% to 5% of an adult's happiness.

The study was carried out in Kelowna, B.C., where Holder and graduate student Judi Wallace tested 315 children aged nine to 12 at both public and private schools.

The children were asked to rate the importance of statements such as "I believe a higher power watches over me" and "developing meaning in my life." Parents and teachers were also asked to describe each child's happiness.

Spirituality could be playing a larger role for several reasons. It produces a sense of hope and meaning and often involves socializing, which is important to children's happiness.

Spirituality is not the same thing as religion, Holder and Wallace were clear to point out.

Leisure activity such as sports and a child's temperament also figure significantly in children's happiness.

"This is significant because if we can start to find these [happiness] predictors, then we can give kids a coping mechanism when they're going through difficult times," said Wallace.

The study of happiness --or positive psychology -- is gaining momentum worldwide.

Positive psychology is currently the most popular course at Harvard University and in the U.K. teachers have been sent to the University of Pittsburgh to learn about strategies on making children happier that can be incorporated into the education system.

Wallace and Holder hope British Columbia will take a similar interest in applying their findings to the real world.

But the biggest predictor of children's happiness could lie well outside of our control.

Holder believes genetics is a major factor in kids' happiness and his next phase of research will focus on this biological connection.

According to research done on adults, as much as 50% of their happiness is accounted for by genetics, suggesting that happiness is inherited to a certain extent.

See Related Articles on Happiness:

Friendship & Love are the Solutions to Mankind's Troubled life

By Jack O'Brien
In Creamer's Media Engineering News Online

One of life's most valuable gifts is friendship. It is not only precious – it is a necessity. Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, wrote: "So long as we love, we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend."

The person who understood the spiritual nature of true friendship was Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. "What is a friend?" he asks. "A single soul dwelling in two bodies" is his answer.

An anonymous writer reveals how he became aware that an old acquaintance was, in fact, a trustworthy friend. "Today I have added to my wealth a priceless treasure. To find it I did not have to dive to the bottom of the sea, nor blast the granite mountainside, nor dig a field, quarry a mine, nor play a sharper's trick. I looked straight into a man's clear eye, spoke a true word, received a signal of understanding, and now, for life, I have a friend."

Genuine friendship is not merely a matter of feeling – it reveals itself in action: "A true friend is one who will recognise me when necessity compels me to wear shabby clothes; who will take my hand when I am sliding downhill, instead of giving me a push to hasten my descent; who will give me a dollar when I really need it, without demanding two dollars as security; who will come to me when I am sick; who will pull off his coat and fight for me when the odds are two to one against me; who will talk of me behind my back as he talks to my face."

Dostoevski, the Russian writer, speaking from his own experience, tells us that the solution to mankind's troubled life on earth is love and friendship in place of hatred and animosity.

"Love is what makes us truly human, creatures of God, a God who is love. Love will teach us all things, but we must learn how to win love; it is got with difficulty; it is a possession dearly bought with much labour and in a long time; for one must love not sometimes only, for a passing moment, but always. There is no man who does not sometimes love; even the wicked can do that.

"And let not men's sins dishearten you," he continued. "Love a man even in his sin, for that love is a likeness of the divine love, and is the summit of love on earth. Love all God's creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once you perceive this, you will thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it; until you come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all-embracing and universal."

Study: Meditation Against Attention Deficits Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

By Alvaro Fernandez
In The Huffington Post

Travel back, in your mind's eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaustion after hiking, biking, playing sports.., and let you re-live that moment as vividly as you can.

Then, remember, re-experience, a loving exchange that really touched you. Pause. See your partner. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what happened around you.

Next, visualize the most caring gesture you have ever received, as full of details as possible. Who gave you that gift of caring. How you felt.

Now, travel to the most magnificent place you have seen. Enjoy the views. Pause. Listen. Smile. Appreciate.

Congratulations. You have trained your brain. As Newsweek's Sharon Begley explained recently:

But now neuroscientists have documented how "mere" thoughts can also sculpt the brain. Just thinking about playing a piano piece, over and over, can expand the region of motor cortex that controls those fingers; just thinking about depressive thoughts in new ways can dial down activity in one part of the brain that underlies depression and increase it in another, leading to clinical improvement.

We have talked about the value of meditation before. Only a few days ago, in predicting brain health trends for the next 5 years in our SharpBrains blog, I wrote that:

Noncomputer-based programs will also prove to be effective tools. Research increasingly is affirming the value of such methods as meditation to train attention and regulate emotions, using cognitive therapy to build self-motivation and other abilities, and keeping a gratitude journal to affirm positives in one's life and improve self-reported happiness.

A fascinating new study (Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737-746) suggests the benefits of mindfulness for adolescents and adults with attention deficits.

Let's see what Dr. David Rabiner, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, has to say about the topic:

Mindfulness meditation is described as involving 3 basic steps: 1) bringing attention to an "attentional anchor" such as breathing; 2) noting that distraction occurs and letting go of the distraction; and, 3) refocusing back to the "attentional anchor".

This sequence is repeated many times during the course of each meditative session. As the individual becomes better able to maintain focus on the attentional anchor, the notion of "paying attention to attention" is introduced and individuals are encouraged to bring their attention to the present moment frequently during the course of the day.

By directing one's attention to the process of paying attention, to noticing notice when one becomes distracted, and to refocusing attention when distraction occurs, mindfulness meditation training can be thought of as an "attention training" program. As such, examining the impact of such training on individuals with ADHD becomes a very interesting question to pursue.

The Results of the study?

Seventy-eight percent of participants (25 of 33) completed the study. On average, participants attended 7 of the 8 weekly training sessions. Adults reported an average of 90 minutes and 4.6 sessions per week of at-home meditation practice; adolescents averaged 43 minutes and 4 sessions of weekly at-home practice. Both adolescents and adults who completed the program reported high levels of satisfaction with it - average scores above 9 on a 1 to 10 satisfaction scale.

Seventy-eight percent of participants reported a reduction in total ADHD symptoms, with 30% reporting at least a 30% symptom reduction (a 30% reduction in symptoms is often used to identify clinically significant improvement in ADHD medication trials). Because the majority of participants were receiving medication treatment, for many these declines represent improvement above and beyond what benefits were already being provided by medication.

On neurocognitive test performance, significant improvements were found on the measure of attentional conflict and on several other neuropsychological tests (i.e., Stroop color-word test and Trails A and B) but not for measures of working memory.

For adults, significant reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms were reported. Comparable reductions in these symptoms were not evident in adolescents

In short: in order to fight Attention Deficits...may it not make sense to develop the "mental muscles" to Pay Attention?

Thoughts on the Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions

By Zeki Ergas
In Media For Freedom


It is increasingly recognized that unless man changes, the world will not change. That means that man’s conscience must change. And that, in turn, requires a fundamental change in the education of children. That education has to begin in the home, continue in kindergartens and nursery schools, and elementary schools. We must inculcate children new ethical and spiritual values that emphasize peace, social justice, solidarity, and frugality. In the long run, the survival of humanity and the planet may well depend on the success of that project. If we fail, humanity and the planet may suffer terrible consequences. The four big challenges that humanity must meet are: building a culture of peace; eradicating extreme poverty; ending nuclear proliferation; and dealing effectively with global warming.

The values of the heart and of the soul, must replace those of the pocket book. We must ask ourselves Isaiah Berlin’s rhetorical question: What does liberty mean for an Ethiopian starving to death? Nothing more than the liberty to starve to death. We must stop behaving, as if economic growth is infinite, when we live on a small and finite planet. States and markets (multinational corporations) dominate neo-liberal globalisation. International organisations – such as, WTO, IMF and the World Bank -- serve the interests of the state and the market. But the so-called free market has transmogrified into market fundamentalism – even, in some countries, market Stalinism, as Naomi Klein has brilliantly contended in a recent, remarkable article in Rolling Stone. Tomorrow, much of the world’s power – based on wealth – will be concentrated in the hands of a few thousand people – the billionaires, whose main purpose is to amass even more wealth and power, and the preservation and promotion of their enormous privileges.

There remains one big hope: civil society, the activist segment of which, CSOs, and NGOs, work for peace and social justice. The eradication of extreme poverty is the most urgent goal of the CSOs and the NGOs. At the bottom of the social pyramid are about one billion people who are extremely poor. As it has been repeated ad nauseam, four million people die each year from hunger, malnutrition, and preventable diseases. That must cease. Building a culture of peace is essential. The world risks a global nuclear confrontation, if we don’t. And the planet will suffer irreparable damage if we don’t take stringent measures to protect it.

The Warnings

In Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the three characters of the play make it clear from the beginning that they believe, essentially, that life is absurd: they don’t know what is going on, and what will happen next. Today, the powers that be of this world know perfectly well what is going on, and what will happen next. But they suffer from a terrible disease which may be called Wishful Thinking. That is so because they let their desires and ambitions supersede their intelligence – not to mention, wisdom. They are like the proverbial monkey who covers his eyes, ears and mouth with his hands, because he doesn’t want to see and to hear, and won’t say anything that could endanger his desires and ambitions.

And yet, the warnings are there. I will mention only three recent ones: the sub-prime crisis, the cyclone that hit Myanmar, and the earthquake that devastated China. The sub-prime crisis showed clearly the incredible greed of those who were involved in it – the owners and managers of hedge funds, private equity funds, big banks, and their assorted henchmen. The cyclone that hit Myanmar showed that the military rulers of that country – who knew that a devastating cyclone was on the way, the Indian government informed them -- did nothing to warn the people because, presumably, they did not want to cause panic, and endanger their hold on power. If that’s true, they are guilty of a grave crime against humanity. In China, the collapse of a hundred thousand schools, which were badly built, shows the inevitable corruption that neo-liberal globalisation entailed in that country.

It could well be that these three catastrophes – one man-made, two natural – are just the tip of the iceberg, and that those of the future will be much worse. Today, the dividing line between man-made and natural catastrophes has blurred. What may seem a natural catastrophe is often caused by men.

The Conundrum

Humanity is guilty, for greed rules the world. Financial capitalism, which took over from industrial capitalism, is not only largely unproductive, or sterile, it is evil as well, because all it really cares about is making huge amounts money. And the concentration of these huge amounts of money – tens of billions of dollars -- in the hands of a few thousand people has a corrupting influence on everything. Especially, and including, politics. And the fact that words don’t mean anymore what they are supposed to mean.

In the so-called democratic countries – not to mention dictatorships in which they are fake undertakings -- elections are held regularly. But what do they really real mean? Does anything that really counts change because of the results of the elections? Let’s take the American presidential election. What will really change, even if Barack Obama is elected president? Perhaps a more multilateral approach in diplomacy, and a lower inclination to launch ‘preventive’ wars. Admittedly, it is not nothing. But about the bigger issues that really count: Can he change anything about American imperialism? Or global financial capitalism? Can he tell Americans that consumer society is wrong and that they have to tighten their belts for the good of Humanity? I am not holding my breath.

A second example is that of human rights. Everyone – including the UN, multinationals, governments, and civil society -- speak, ad infinitum, of human rights. But the reality on the ground is that -- except in a few countries, the Scandinavian countries come to mind – they barely exist. Possibly 90 per cent of the world’s population lives under regimes that do not respect human rights. Many are dictatorships. But the formidable propaganda machine that is the mainstream media perpetuates the fiction that progress is being made on human rights.

The truth is that we have not invented anything. It is still the good old panem et circenses (bread and circus games) of the Romans. The ‘bread’ part is solved in the rich countries, and partly in the ‘emerging’ countries, but not in the poor countries. As for the ‘circus games’ part, these days, it is provided by big sports and show business events. And the gladiators of yore have been replaced by the ‘stars’ of sports, show business, politics, and the media.


The present situation can be compared to the Titanic sailing on the icy waters of the Atlantic. The iceberg is out there. It is getting closer. It is dark, the fog is thick and the visibility, bad. For Humanity not suffer the same fate as the Titanic, man needs to change. His conscience must change. And that, in turn, requires a fundamental change in the education of children. The new ethical and spiritual values that emphasize peace, social justice, solidarity and frugality must be inculcated early.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

[Video] Marriage & Children

Should people be "married" to have children? Marriage is promoted by society and religions for a reason. Having a father and mother will help the children develop more so than a child being raised by a single-parent. If a couple chooses not to be married when having children, at the least, it is better for the couple to be living together.


Do you have to be married to have children?

This is a real dilemma for society. After the two world wars, society is being torn apart. In order to compensate for this loss we have created days in the year where families get together, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Many children in the US and Europe are being raised by a single parent, usually the mother. Children suffer because parents are not committed to a marriage and fathers are forced by the courts to pay child support. Within a marriage, because there is commitment, the family does not go through a bad experience. For the good of society, a man and a woman should be either married or at least living together. A child is complete when it has both parents living together. Children are very sensitive and they can sense that something is lacking in a family's life. At least in early childhood it is important that both mother and father live together.

Furthermore, for a better society it is good not to have children without marriage or at the very least commit to living together when you have them. Beyond being merely a piece of paper, a marriage should have harmony while raising children. By being nurtured in this way a child will grow up to be someone useful in society. Both parents' presence teaches children by example.

Society has become violent because of the lack of good foundation at home during the young age of a child's development. Love is lacking from either the mother or the father.

It is time for families to come together again. The courts are recognizing this and they are refusing to grant divorce so freely in order to help the family reconstruct itself. Good families have good values. A mother should have good judgment about having children. She needs to be wise. After all, a mother is the child's first teacher. It is very important for the sake of a good society, a good nation, and a better world that good values are established within families.

To find out more about Yogeesh Ashram & Dr. Acharya Shree Yogesh, see earlier posts:

Go Beyond Positive & Negative

The Significance of AUM, OHM or OM

[Video] Keys to Self-realization / Enlightenment

This is a frequently asked question and when asked most people will say that they already know themselves. However, to know oneself is a difficult thing.

There are steps to self-realization. First, the human body consists of a gross body and a subtle body. In order to realize oneself a person's gross body needs to be cleared of blockages.

There are three channels in the body -- ira, pingla and shushumna.

In ira -- breathing takes place through the left nostril. This is the moon channel(cool).

In pingla -- breathing takes place through the right nostril. This is the sun channel.

In shushumna -- breathing takes place equally through both nostrils. It is the center of the backbone.

A person that is always balanced and always in shushumna is already self-realized. This is a difficult technique to master because typically a person is imbalanced, either in anger or in love. The key to balance is in your hand and the lock is in front of you. But you cannot see it. When a diamond is in your hand you think it is a piece of rock.

A blind man was lost in a big fort miles and miles long and only with a single door. Someone told him that he can find the door if he keeps walking with his hand always on the wall. He said he didn't mind walking and so he kept on going for miles. As soon as he got close to the door his body started itching so he removed his hand from the wall to scratch himself while he kept on walking. He missed the door. He kept on walking and repeating this several times. The key is in his hand, the door is there but he cannot see it.

We are deluded and that is why we cannot be self-realized. The reason is because we cannot stay balanced. If we can be always in shushumna we are balanced. Even a wild animal coming towards you cannot harm you because he will sense that you are not violent.

Balance is the key to be self-realized. Of all the paths, this is the easiest one. If your breath flows always equally in both channels you will always be in touch with your soul. This is the simplest way.

To find out more about Yogeesh Ashram & Dr. Acharya Shree Yogesh, see earlier posts:

Keys to Self-Realization / Enlightenment

The Significance of AUM, OHM or OM

Achieving Happiness: Take Charge Of Your Destiny

By TOM MUHA, For The Capital

If your life were to turn out to be terrific, what would that look like?

When positive psychologists study people who are successful and satisfied with their life, they discover that those who are authentically happy have taken the time to determine a destination and a course of action that has led a valuable life.

The researchers found that people who are the happiest in their surveys develop a clear vision of a great life by focusing on their values. By determining what's most important to them, they're able to picture how they want their values to play out in their life.

People who are languishing in their life, on the other hand, are like a boat drifting on the water with a broken rudder. The direction of their life is determined by external forces, so they end up going wherever the wind blows them. They have no idea of where to find a secure harbor. Nor do they have a rudder with which to steer themselves away from trouble. They frequently find themselves carried by the currents to some place they don't want to be.

Have you ever taken the time to determine your top priorities? The hard part of creating a values-based vision is sorting out the many elements of life that are important. Here's an exercise that will help you define who you are, what's most meaningful to you and what gives you passion and purpose. To clarify what's most significant to you, look over the following list and write down the 10 virtues you feel are the most valuable:

Acceptance, adventure, appreciation, authenticity, career, caring, charity, cheerfulness, cleanliness, courage, creativity, curiosity, dependability, empathy, family, fairness, faithfulness, fitness, forgiveness, freedom, friendship, gratitude, happiness, health, helping, honesty, hope, humility, humor, influence, integrity, innovation, intelligence, justice, kindness, leadership, learning, love, loyalty, mentoring, nurturing, optimism, patience, perseverance, perspective, pleasure, prudence, recognition, security, self-control, self-esteem, simplicity, stewardship, spirituality, success, thriftiness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, volunteering, wealth, wisdom and zest.

Feel free to add any additional values to your list that were not included above. After you've written down your list of the 10 principles and character traits that are most important to you, rank the top five that represent your highest priorities in life.

Establishing your priorities will help you live your values. It will give your life purpose because you'll be making the world a better place. To envision the positive outcomes of a lifetime of putting your principles into action, imagine that you've reached your 80s. You've been able to live a life that has brought you great satisfaction in all five dimensions that you decided were important to you.Complete the following statement for each of your top five priorities: "I've always valued ____. I know that I made a meaningful difference because …." For example, "I've always valued helping people. I know that I made a meaningful difference because I see people that I've helped living happier lives."

Have you taken the time to complete the five statements? If not, you're missing out on a valuable opportunity. You'll get busy and you'll start paying attention to what's immediate rather than what's important. You'll slip back into drifting through life instead of directing your life. Make a choice right now to take the time to determine what will make you a happier person.

After writing down how your life will end up if you successfully fulfill your most important values, come back to the present and figure out the first step to take in order to propel yourself toward that vision. Complete five more sentences: "To live my value of ________, the step I'm going to take today is ______." That would sound something like this: "To live my value of helping people, the step I'm going to take today is to volunteer to tutor young people who are struggling in school."

These last five statements must stir your passion. If you don't feel energized to actually do what you've written down, rethink what you're willing to commit to doing today. Living your values isn't always easy, so you'll need to be passionate about taking action in order to pursue the positive outcomes you desire. Find a small step to take for which you have enthusiasm.

To actually accomplish your daily goals, you'll need to have enough energy to push through your feeling tired, scared, bored or stressed. When you avidly dedicate yourself to making your dreams a reality, you will be taking charge of your destiny.

See Related Articles on Happiness:

Happiness Is A Vital Key To Optimum Health

20 Simple Ways To Get Happy

The Five Secret Ways To Happiness

Spirituality Accounts For Children's Happiness

Atom Egoyan's Adoration Won Prize For Promoting Spiritual Values

Atom Egoyan's Adoration, a film about a teenaged boy who tells a false story to his class about his Arab father that unleashes a debate on the Internet, won the Ecumenical Jury Prize for promoting spiritual values. The jury commended Egoyan's film for encouraging viewers to “re-evaluate existing clichés about the Other or that which is foreign in our own culture and religion.”

Egoyan won the same award in 1997 for The Sweet Hereafter.

Adoration is also in competition for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, which will be awarded on Sunday night.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

By Stacey Crow
In Northumberland Today, Ontario

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and nothing turned out the way you wanted it to?

Well, I had one of those days not too long ago. This week, I was rummaging through my clothes trying to find something decent to wear. I had an outfit picked out that I was going to wear to work and it looked great... at least on the hanger, anyway!

I got dressed and took one look in the mirror and decided that my outfit looked better on the hanger and that perhaps it should have a permanent resting place in the closet. Needless to say, I chose a few other outfits to try on and nothing looked great.

By the end of my morning adventure my bedroom floor was well dressed in every single piece of clothing that I owned and I was stripped of my sanity. To top it off, my hair wasn't co-operating with me so, out of sheer frustration, I decided that I didn't care what I looked like anymore and I went to work wearing a well-pressed skirt and a mismatched blazer, along with bobby socks and running shoes... and I won't mention what my hair looked like.

It was one of those days, and all day long I was worrying about what I was going to wear the next day. But perhaps focusing on my wardrobe isn't such a big deal compared to all the things in life that we can spend our time worrying about.

A lot of us spend our time worrying about the cares of the future and things that are beyond our grasp. We tend to worry about relationships, money, jobs, health, the economy, pleasing others, meeting deadlines and the list goes on.

Worry is nothing more than a vicious cycle that will eat away at us if we let it get a hold of us. Worry will stop us from living a life of adventure because we fear the future before it really happens. Ernest Hemingway said, "Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry: worry never fixes anything."

The Canadian Mental Health Association gives us some tips to deal with worry. They are as follows:

Get the facts. Often worry is based on a lack of information or misinformation

Take action. Set up an emergency cash reserve if you worry over finances. Talk to your boss about problems at work. See your doctor if you have medical concerns that have been worrying you.

Never worry alone. Talk to someone about your anxieties. Men and women will worry about the same things but men will bottle up their worries.

Get exercise. Exercising at least three times a week is not only good for your physical state - when you exercise, your mental state changes, reducing anxiety and depression.

Have quiet moments. Go for a walk in a quiet place. Being outdoors, having a change of scenery and fresh air can change your perspective.

The Bible also gives us some great advice. Jesus Himself said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25) He concludes the passage stating these words: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

Today is a new day. My clothes are all neatly hung back in my closet and I am thanking God for my worries of yesterday because they have taught me how to live today.

See related posts on Worry:

Let It Roll Off Our Back

[Video] Go beyond Positive & Negative, Duality Illusion Spirituality

Positive and Negative are a part of the dual world. However, truth, soul, God, and spiritual masters are beyond the realms of duality. This is the highest state of consciousness. Self-Realization and Enlightenment go beyond positive and negative.

What happens when one goes beyond positive and negative?

Going beyond positive and negative is not an easy thing to do. This can only happen when a soul (a person) is in constant meditative state, where nothing affects him. In everything he does he is in meditation. This soul has crossed the positive and the negative that are the two sides of the same coin.

Krishna had two wives. The two wives wanted to visit an enlightened master. There was a river in their path so they asked Krishna if he could do something so they could cross the river. He told them to take food to the master and when they neared the bank of the river to ask, "If this master never ate in his life give us a path." So they went and did as they were told. The river parted and they went on to the master's place. They heard his words and became very happy. Before leaving they offered him food and the master ate all of the food as though he had never eaten in his life. Now it was time to leave but how would they cross the river again? They asked the master and he told them to ask the river the same question as they did before. The river responded and gave them a path to cross. When they came back to the palace they were full of confusion. How could the river open a path if he never ate? They saw him eat. They told Krishna about their confusion. Krishna said to them that although the master eats he is not eating. When he walks he is not walking. When he talks he is not talking. He is always in a meditative state. He eats because his body needs nourishment. He is not into the eating.

We eat for the sake of eating not because the body needs it. If a person can eat only because his body needs food he is in a meditative state. He is beyond positive and negative states. He is in a state of consciousness that is balanced. He is not affected by anger, love, hate, or compassion. A great person remains always the same, not affected by adversity or prosperity. This is the highest state of consciousness.

To find out more about Yogeesh Ashram & Dr. Acharya Shree Yogesh, see my earlier post.

[Video] The Significance of AUM, OHM or OM

AUM is a natural sound. In Sanskrit A stand for Brahma, U for Vishnu and M for Shiva. The combination of three powers makes up AUM and this combination embodies God with creative, sustaining and destructive powers.

AUM, the sound, is in our blood. The first sound that a baby makes is A, then Uuh and then the word Ma. This natural sound connects us to God. In Hindu culture, the baby is considered very pure with no ideology and therefore close to God.

AUM in English is equivalent to GOD; G for generative power, O for operative power and D for destructive power. The sound of AUM can activate and open all the seven charkas especially the sahasrar, which is located at the top of the head. According to Hindu culture that is where God resides. AUM was discovered by the rishis. Rishis are the people who can see the truth.

How can you see these hidden powers in yourself? It is known that new cells are always forming in our bodies, other cells are always dying and something always remains the same -- Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Our memory, which remains the same and connects us to the past, is called the operative power. Everything is a combination of these three powers. For example, if you want to change a gold earring to a bracelet the goldsmith will melt (Shiva, destructive power) the gold (Vishnu, operative power that which stays the same) and make a new bracelet (Brahma, generative power).

You can learn to chant the sound of AUM in a certain way to activate all the chakras. Also certain colors are created through the chanting of this sound. When you chant AUM you are already improving yourself. Most religions are utilizing this sound. In Christianity it is the word amen. Chanting benefits the person physically, mentally, and spiritually.

About Yogeesh Ashram & Dr.Acharya Shree Yogeesh

Yogeesh Ashram is a non-profit organization founded by Living Enlightened Master, Acharya Shree Yogeesh. Acharya Shree teaches self-improvement, self-awakening, and total transformation world wide. Currently he resides in Riverside, Ca. As a living Enlightened Master, it is Acharya Shree's goal is to awaken the sleeping soul within everyone. Acharya Shree is a purified soul who is compassionate, kind, wise, and transformed. His message of non-violence and self-awakening has touched millions of lives.

With sparkling innocent eyes, a robust and charismatic personality, and an exceptionally loving and compassionate soul, Dr. Acharya Shree Yogeesh exemplifies an enlightened living master. He has been entering deep Samadhi states since he was five years old, and has continually studied Oriental philosophy all of his life.

Born in a Hindu Warrior class in Hariana, near Delhi, India, Acharya Shree became a monk in 1970 at the age of fourteen and has been traveling the world promoting non-violence, universal unity, and teaching eastern philosophy, yoga, and meditation since 1986.

Dr. Yogeesh completed his Acharya and received double Master of Arts degrees and a Doctorate of Philosophy in “The Six Substances of Jainism: A Comparative Study with Buddhist Texts.”

According to his personal philosophy of teaching, Dr. Yogeesh believes “If you can change one person, you can change the whole world.” Therefore, he is committed to the belief that the wisdom of Lord Mahavira, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Jesus, and other masters should be available and accessible to all peoples, regardless of nationality, language, color, or creed.

Above biography taken from Yogeesh Asram official website.

When Brain Research Meets The Bible

This is a continuing debate on "The Neural Buddhists".

By Travis Scholl
In Civil Religion

That’s the subtext to The New York Times columnist David Brooks‘ recent piece on religion and science, “The Neural Buddhists.” He’s taking up recent developments in neuroscience, and coming to the conclusion that present and future debates between religion and science will not be over the existence of God, but over whether or not organized religion contributes to or harms the brain’s intuitions toward transcendence and spirituality.

Thus, the title: science leading to a “neural Buddhism.”

Or, as he says: “The real challenge is going to come from people who feel the existence of the sacred, but who think that particular religions are just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human traits.”

In other words, it’s the standard line: “I’m spiritual but not religious.” Whatever that means.

But, consider Brooks’ summary of recent literature in neuroscience:

First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is.

Brooks thinks he’s talking the language of science, but everything he says here has deeply theological resonances as well. You could find this paragraph just as easily in an introductory textbook in systematic theology.

And it is a striking set of statements in light of the fact that many Christian churches just celebrated the mystery of the Trinity, that God could simultaneously be one being in three persons. Were this a seminar in systematic theology, one of the first lessons would be that the “self is…a dynamic process of relationships” because it is the imago of a Dei that is itself deeply and intrinsically relational in its very being, which is what makes God “the unknowable total of all there is” in the first place.

Or, consider Brooks’ paragraph in light of this paragraph by contemporary theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg:

The immanent dynamic of the life of creation may be more precisely described as a process of the increasing internalizing of the self-transcendence of creatures. Organic life is the fully developed basic form of this internalized self-transcendence. The stages of the evolution of life may be seen as the stages of its increasing complexity and intensity and therefore of a growing participation of the creatures in God…

That’s pretty heady stuff. But what it shows is how deeply theological language can nonetheless overlap with scientific understandings of the world. What public and polemic religion-and-science “debates” often leave out is the vast middle ground in discourse between science and theology, and the ways of seeing the world that organized religions have developed over centuries, as brilliant brains have thought out loud about both God and this material world. Pannenberg himself has been at the forefront of that middle ground.

It’s what folks are missing out on with the flip false dichotomy of “I’m spiritual but not religious.”

It is fides quaerens intellectum, “faith seeking understanding.” It is what theology does at its best. Perhaps science too.

See my earlier two posts:

The Neural Buddhists

Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died By Tom Wolfe

[Video] Bashar: The 4 Laws Of Creation

Bashar talks about the 4 laws of the universe that apply to every living creature every where.

About Bashar

Bashar is a being of extraterrestrial origin, a friend from the future who has spoken for the past 21 years through channel, Darryl Anka, bringing through a wave of new information that clearly explains in detail how the universe works and how each person creates the reality they experience. Over the years, thousands of individuals have had the opportunity to apply these principles and see if they really work to change their lives and create the reality that they desire.

For more information about Bashar, visit http://bashar.org.

The Times They Are A-Changing

This article was written by Owen Waters, author of "The Shift: The Revolution in Human Consciousness," available from InfiniteBeing.com

Suddenly, the Vatican says that it's OK to believe in extra-terrestrial aliens. The Vatican is not the only bastion of conservatism to have come out with such a policy in recent months. Both the British and the French governments have now released their extensive files on sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects.

Governments have been shy of talking about UFOs ever since the national panic that Orson Welles caused in America in 1938 when he read out an adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel, 'The War of the Worlds' over the radio. The broadcast lasted 60 minutes without commercial interruption and was formatted as a series of news broadcasts about the progress of an ongoing alien invasion of Earth.

People who tuned into the radio show after the initial announcement about it being fictional were swept up into a panic that quickly spread across the country. The drama hit such a public nerve in those tense and anxious days leading up to World War II that millions of listeners became panic-stricken. The fallout in the press was enormous, with 12,500 newspaper articles appearing about this episode over the next month.

For decades since then, the fear of public panic in the face of a real, mass alien landing has helped to keep governments quiet about UFO incidents. Also, there was always the nagging fear in the minds of politicians that, if extra-terrestrials landed and spoke words of wisdom, people might start following the ETs instead of the politicians. That fear has since been largely eclipsed by the fact that, today, very few people listen to politicians anyway!

In a recent edition of the Vatican newspaper, the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones. So, he said, believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."

In the interview for the newspaper article, Funes said that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures. Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom.

Funes said science, especially astronomy, does not contradict religion, touching on a theme of the current Pope Benedict XVI, who has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy. The Vatican Observatory has made great efforts to bridge the gap between religion and science. It was founded in 1891 and is based in Castel Gandolfo, a lakeside town in the hills outside Rome where the pope has a summer residence. The Vatican Observatory also has a team which conducts research at the University of Arizona observatory in Tucson.

Funes went on to say that the Bible "is not a science book," adding that he believes the Big Bang theory is the most "reasonable" explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory says the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter. But, he said, such a beginning to the universe would have been the work of God as "God is the creator of the universe and we are not the result of chance."

Funes urged the church and the scientific community to leave behind divisions caused by Galileo's persecution 400 years ago, saying the incident has "caused wounds." In 1633 the astronomer was tried as a heretic and forced to recant his theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe. Galileo was imprisoned, and later released to spend his final years under house arrest.

"The church has somehow recognized its mistakes," he said. "Maybe it could have done it better, but now it's time to heal those wounds and this can be done through calm dialogue and collaboration." Pope John Paul declared in 1992 that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension."

From this recent news article, it would seem that the Vatican is beginning to bridge the gap between science and religion in an attempt to become aligned with the wider view of reality presented by modern scientific knowledge. Where this will eventually lead is anyone's guess, but an evolving consciousness in humanity makes plenty of room for the potential for philosophical reform in traditional areas.

It is heartening to see that, today, the times certainly are a-changing.

See Related Article by Owen Waters:

The Death of Metaphysics

New Earth: The Principle Of Spiritual Energy Generation

[Video] Abraham On The Stream

Comment by Andrew Khor

I first received an audio tape of the Abraham Teachings in th late 90s. And it was fascinating as it was similar to the work of Jane Roberts, only the language they used was more contemporary and reflective of today's age. It was easier to access and they have issued a series of work in the form of audio CDs and books that are helping the human potential movement grow by leaps and bounds.

This is Abraham, through Esther Hicks, talks about The Stream of Well-Being that flows from Non-Physical Source, and explains how manifestation occurs. Excerpted from the upcoming DVD "The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham".

About Abraham-Hicks

Esther Hicks is an inspirational speaker, and best-selling author. She claims to vocally translate blocks of thought for a group of non-physical beings who call themselves Abraham. The material she translates is referred to as Abraham-Hicks. She has co-authored eight books with husband Jerry Hicks and presents workshops for Abraham-Hicks Publications. Hicks' books The Law of Attraction and The Astonishing Power Of Emotions were featured on the New York Times best-seller lists.

Abraham asserts that we create our own reality through our thoughts, that our emotions are constantly guiding us toward where we want to go and that life is supposed to be fun.

The essence of Abraham's teachings since 1986 has been presented as follows:

  • You are a Physical Extension of that which is Non-physical.
  • You are here in this body because you chose to be here.
  • The basis of your life is Freedom; the purpose of your life is Joy.
  • You are a creator; you create with your every thought.
  • Anything that you can imagine is yours to be or do or have.
  • You are choosing your creations as you are choosing your thoughts.
  • The Universe adores you; for it knows your broadest intentions.
  • Relax into your natural well-being. All is well.
  • You are a creator of thoughtways on your unique path of joy.
  • Actions to be taken and money to be exchanged are by-products of your focus on joy.
  • You may appropriately depart your body without illness or pain.
  • You can not die; you are Everlasting Life.

Above taken from wikipedia.

Let It Roll Off Our Back

by Douglas Dorsey Payton

~ Dodging And Deflecting ~

One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we're younger, or if we're very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck's back.

Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people's negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people's misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration of the people around us.

Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, taking in anything that might actually be constructive, and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately by recognizing when we can't take something in from the outside without hurting ourselves. This is when we make like a duck, shaking it off and letting it roll off our back as we continue our way in the world.

In short, as Andrew Khor nicely added, "We all need to let go the drama and return to dhamma."

The Tyranny of Meaningful Work

By Barbara Moses
In ReportonBusiness.com

There is a new career obsession: Call it the quest for meaning in work.

Over the past decade, the pursuit of meaningfulness - and its cousin, passion - has grown steadily. Now it is one of today's hottest commodities - the career equivalent of getting the latest "it" bag.

The yearning for meaningful work isn't new. But only recently has it become such a widespread preoccupation.

In part, it's a reflection of relentless work demands, and the feeling of never really accomplishing anything. It makes sense to ask what end is served if the means is abandoned loved ones or compromised health.

And, in part, it's because many people simply don't know what to make of it, or even how to define it.

But the concept has come to carry such emotional freight that some people feel inadequate if they are not doing what they consider meaningful work - or guilty if they don't care whether their work is meaningful at all.

Another problem: What's really behind this quest? For every person who honestly yearns for meaningful work, there is another flirting with a fashionable buzz phrase.

At a recent workshop I held, for example, a young accountant asked: "I am not contributing to the betterment of people or the planet, so what's the point? I want to find meaningful work, something I can be passionate about."

But he described this desire with all the verve of someone reading a grocery list.

I couldn't help wonder if this was simply middle-class self-indulgence. Was this person just trying to keep up with a friend who had jumped on the meaningful bandwagon after a session with a career coach? Or had his employer adopted meaning as the new flavour of the month?

Do people such as the accountant really want meaningful work, or are they merely looking for that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from expressing noble aspirations - and the articulated desire then becomes a substitute for actually doing something?

When I dissect data from thousands of people who have completed motivation exercises in my online career-planning assessment tool, I discover that only a small percentage are actually looking for work that serves a higher purpose. Values such as community, making a difference and spirituality take a back seat to others, such as learning, family and personal happiness.

Then again, what constitutes meaningful work these days? It's a question that comes up in nearly every workshop and speech I deliver. It always leads to spirited debate.

One person will insist that meaningfulness involves helping others or contributing to society. But, another will counter that what he or she sees as contributing to society, such as boosting a company's profit, another person might consider meaningless. Someone will say that meaningfulness is in the eye of the beholder; yet another will insist that work doesn't have to be meaningful, it just has to pay the bills.

Who's right? In a sense, they all are. Meaningfulness is subjective. We all construct our own meaning from our own values and desires, and what is satisfying to one person may be a source of distress to another.

Yet, people persist in searching for some greater meaning outside themselves, as if it were a commodity that could be objectively quantified. And when they don't think they've found it, they become distressed.

Yet, when I ask those who complain that their work isn't meaningful whether they enjoy it, they will respond positively, although with the caveat, again, that it isn't meaningful. This is the tyranny of meaningful work - that simply enjoying your work is not enough.

So what should people aspire to? Is it enough for people to simply enjoy their work without finding it meaningful or being passionate about it?

I think it is.

In fact, I would prefer to completely rid the concept of meaningful work as the gold standard, and replace it with a new one: doing satisfying work that meets one's needs.

And these needs are constantly changing. At one point, work may be the centrepiece of identity; at another, it may take a back seat to personal interests and responsibilities.

The relative importance of work in our lives, and whether it needs to be meaningful, is often related to what is going on outside of work.

Take, for example, the many ambitious people who scale down their career in favour of family responsibilities. On the flip side are those not in a personal relationship who look to their work as a major source of life satisfaction.

I've also heard mid-lifers talk about the diminution of work's importance in their lives. Take this 52-year-old male journalist's comment: "I'm from a working-class family and I feel like recently I've become like my dad. I used to really care about what I was doing. But for me now, what's important is that it pays the bills. I'm not looking for anything else out of my work."

People such as this journalist don't care if their work is meaningful or even interesting. It's simply a means to an end. As long as it's not horrible, they're okay. Their real life is what occurs outside of the office, whether as a parent, caregiver or in another role they deem important.

Sometimes, you just need to put in your time and tolerate unsuitable work for financial or résumé-building reasons. Or work is a means to subsidize a passion or a vocation. Many artists and writers fall into this category. Did T.S. Eliot love working on foreign accounts at Lloyds Bank in London, or did Kurt Vonnegut love being a flack for General Electric? I doubt it.

But even if your work doesn't need to be meaningful or deeply satisfying, the corollary is not that it's okay to have a job you hate. As anyone who has ever had a bad career experience will attest, there is nothing quite as soul-destroying as bad work. It undermines our effectiveness in all of life's domains and affects how we feel about ourselves at the most profound level.

At our core, we all want our lives to have counted for something. For some, this may constitute doing work that serves a higher purpose. For others, it may mean doing work that stretches them, or allows them the opportunity to express creativity. Others derive meaning from other life arenas, such as family or community.

So what do you want and need in your work? You decide. And be content with your choice.

Are you bemoaning the lack of meaning in your job? Consider ways to rethink it:

Figure out what's missing

Do you feel badly that you aren't taking a direct role in helping, say, to end world hunger? Or do you feel your work doesn't get the attention from your boss that it deserves? Take specific action: If it's the former, for instance, find an employer whose mission is compatible with your desires. If it's the latter, start lobbying louder, or find an employer who cares about the work that you produce.

Isolate your goals

Do you want to save victims of sexual abuse? Be there for your kids? Make managers better leaders? Focus your activities and attention accordingly.

Look at your core values

Consider what gives texture to your life. Friends and/or family? Being part of a work team? Making a difference? Being able to express your creativity? Typically, when people say they want meaningful work, they really mean work in tune with their values.

Find meaning elsewhere

If work isn't fulfilling your need for meaning, look outside for sources of fulfilment, such as from family or the community.

Work as a stepping stone

Realize that, sometimes, you have to tolerate a meaningless job to get to one where you will find more meaning.

Put meaning in its place

Does your work hold your attention? Do you enjoy it? If so, take comfort from that.

Put up or shut up

Simply talking about wanting to do something with a higher purpose doesn't make you a better person. If you are really unhappy, do something about it. Otherwise, stop complaining.

Volunteer sabbatical

It's a way to recharge and reappraise. Two places to start: volunteers.ca and charityguide.org.

Stop obsessing

You don't have to love your job or derive deep meaning from it if this isn't what is important to you at this life stage. Consider what needs your job is fulfilling, whether those are working with interesting people, being able to stretch yourself, gaining résumé enhancing experiences, or simply being able to leave your work at the office. Focus on them.

Think life chapters

You can have it all, but not all at once. If you are someone who needs to be enthralled by work but have competing external priorities, accept that you may need to temporarily downsize your ambitions. The important word here is temporarily. Instead of thinking about what you are giving up, think about what you are getting.

Hire a helping hand

Get guidance from a career counsellor, life coach, or if you grappling with bigger existential issues, a therapist. But don't expect them to figure it out for you. You will have to do the work if you want your financial or time investment to pay dividends.

Ignore what others think

Meaningfulness lies in the eyes of the beholder. Divorce yourself from others' views. There is no objective description of meaningfulness. Barbara Moses

Are you bemoaning the lack of meaning in your job? Consider ways to rethink it:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

[Video] Jane Roberts - The Seth Video (Part 3 of 3)

This is Part 3 of 3 in her series of Interviews found in youtube.

See all 3 Interview Videos of Jane Roberts/Seth.

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3

[Video] Jane Roberts - The Seth Videos (Part 2 of 3)

This is Part 2 of 3 in her series of Interviews found in youtube.

See all 3 Interview Videos of Jane Roberts/Seth.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

[Video] Jane Roberts - The Seth Videos (Part 1 of 3)

Comment by Andrew Khor

I first encountered the work of Jane Roberts in the mid 90s. Though there have been channellers before her however her volume of work was stunning. Somewhere in my library are around 15 books channelled or written by her. The entity that she channelled was someone called Seth.

The main tenet of Seth's work was that we created our reality according to the nature of our own beliefs. Due to Jane's intellectual background though some of the work was difficult to mentally access. But it is believed that she was one of the pioneers of the channeling movement.

This is Part 1 of 3 in her series of Interviews found in youtube.

About Jane Roberts/Seth:

Jane Roberts was an ordinary 34 year old woman who lived with her husband, Rob in an apartment in Elmira, NY in the early 60's. Curiosity about dreams and consciousness eventually led Jane and Rob to start experimenting with a Ouija Board, and surprisingly during the first session, they encountered an entity named Seth, who was apparently open to conversation and who was quite verbose, a trait that didn't work all that well letter-by-letter using a Ouija board.

Apparently Seth chose Jane as the one to channel through, and though reluctant at first, Jane eventually started voicing Seth's words, resulting in a large volume of incredibly interesting work in virtually every aspect of the mystical field.

Though some of the transcripts are fairly deep and difficult to understand, the Seth material really does seem to ring true on many different levels of the paranormal, and as such we feel that it is vitally important to include relevant material here to help clarify concepts on other topics included on this website, including but not limited to Astral Projection, Life After Death, Other Dimensions, The Pyramids, Dreams, Crop Circles, Meditation, Astrology, Ghosts & Hauntings, and UFO's.

Taken at face value, the Seth material gives us a plethora of common-sense insight into ourselves and the tenuous world around us, and as such it is worth effort to read and re-read the material he presents. Taken more deeply, this material has the power to change your world for the better forever. The Seth material is a large resource that originated in our modern world and speaks in terms that are understandable by modern readers, making it an absolute must-read for anyone serious about spiritual knowledge and the possibility of transcending into a higher plane of existence and awareness.

Source: Mysticalblaze

See all 3 Interview Videos of Jane Roberts/Seth.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Are Your Success Pillars in Balance?

By Douglas Vermeeren
In Exchange Morning News

Most people live their lives like they watch the television. The remote control is in their hands and they have the power to change the channel to any show they can possibly imagine. But they don't. There is opportunity to experience anything they can dream. But they don't do anything. They are content to simply watch whatever is on, rather than choose what they really want.

The most important beginning principle for creating greatness in your life is to recognize and then utilize the principle of personal power and personal accountability.

Every person comes with the built-in ability to choose their actions and reactions for any given set of circumstances. How we use this ability will ultimately determine all of the outcomes we will experience in our lives. Those who attain the greatest successes in life do so, not because their circumstances have been dramatically different from others, but because their choices have been. It is our personal choices and accountability that have the most significant impact on the kind of lives we will lead.

Many people do not realize that even the so-called "little moments" can have great impact, and it may be easy to justify not giving our attention to them because the consequences may not be immediately apparent. However, an ancient proverb shares this great truth in a different way; "The greatest walls are build with the smallest bricks." Our lives are the same, and we must begin with the little things.

Now, how will you know which little things really deserve your attention?

There is an easy solution for us in prioritizing all things.

Before beginning to sort out "life things" we need to have a system in place. It's like building a puzzle. In order for the little pieces to be productive and have value we need to understand what the big picture looks like. Our big picture is essentially defining what we want our life to look like, who we want to be and the legacy we want to leave behind. Many people do not invest the time to answer these important questions. However, if you can do this one step at a time, you will find that all your questions will instantly become clear, and you'll be on your path to success.

But what is success?

The definition is different for every individual, and only you can define your view of success. Understand that success is a journey and not a destination. It can never be a spot of permanent completion. Success is akin to continual growth. Success is a matter of finding appropriate balance while you are in motion rather than finding a comfortable resting place to stagnate.

Lasting success is found in the balance of four independent elements. Notice that each of these success pillars begins with "your feelings about…" Success is very much attached to your feelings, and gratitude is a significant part of feeling successful.

1) Your feelings about wealth - Success in this area is not based on a specific number on a bank statement. In fact, it has very little to do with money. But it has everything to do with how you feel about what you have. Do you have enough to meet your obligations? To live the life you choose? To be free to pursue the things which are meaningful to you? There are many people who are extremely rich, but not wealthy. How do you feel about your currently level of abundance or wealth?

2) Your feelings about your health -Success has very little to do with quantity of a given thing or an outside measurement. Instead, it has everything to do with the feelings relating to a certain thing. There are many who suffer from disease, disability and challenge who feel very successful in this area. Your feelings about your own health are the important consideration for this issue.

3) Your feelings about your relationships - David O. McKay, a religious leader, said it best when he stated that, "No success can compensate for failure in the home." Everything starts in the home, but relationships also include everyone you interact with. Once I had the opportunity to climb the tallest mountain peaks in China known as the Huangshan Mountains. After hours of climbing, our group finally reached the tops of the beautiful mountains. The sun was just rising and we were so high up we could literally see the curvature of the earth; it was exciting. I turned to one of my associates who had made the climb with us. I excitedly expressed how beautiful and exciting this scene was, but his face turned to a look of confusion. "Wo bu dong," he said as he looked at me. That's the Chinese words for "I don't understand." In that moment, our language barrier prevented us from sharing this marvelous experience with each other. The same is true in our lives. The fullness of success is only enjoyed when we have the ability to share it with another.

4) Your feelings about your self-achievement, dreams and spirituality. - What are your inner most yearnings? What is your connection to things of the spirit? How do feel about these things? Are your needs being met in this area? In some ways this area is slightly more important than the others. It's really more of a foundation than a pillar. Until you have these elements being met in your life you cannot inspire or lift another to their greatness. Without this, you are a lot like a lifeguard who can't swim. When you know who you are and you're confident you are headed in the right direction, magical things happen for you and those around you.

Take a moment right now and stop what it is you are doing … invest this time in you. Take a careful look at these four areas in your life and consider how satisfied you feel about them. How do you feel about your wealth, health, relationships and self-achievement, dreams and spirituality? What would the situation look like if it were ideal for you?

You may not know all the steps to get where you want to go, but as you look at the significant little steps, the big ones will appear.

Decide that what you will play on your television of life will be the programs you want to watch. You don't have to sit through someone else's dream. You have the power to turn your life into what you want it to be. It can be a spectacular adventure, romance, thriller or comedy; anything you dream. What can you do right now to create the life you want? Remember it is up to you.