August 26, 2011

Saturday Video: Mohamad Yunus- Creating a World Without Poverty

When we say a businessman, most of us will imagine selfish, computed, ambitious person in charge, concerned only about the profit of his company. It seem like this is the true in many cases.
Don't be fooled! There are also such, for whom all that truly matters is to see hungry people (still over 1 billion) having their food, and life without the concern of  "what will I eat today?". These are the people we need to see in our Governments. I have recently watched moving speech by Dr. Mohamad Yunus, founder of  Grameen Bank,  2006 Nobel Peace Price Winner. and author of  "Creating a World Without Poverty"
At first I thought, ok this is too good to be true. But than, as I was watching, there was something really beautiful about this man. At one point he made me almost cry, that's how touching it was. Mohammad Yunus is also called the "Social Business Model" -deservedly, I hope many will take it up as a inspiration for their own business. Watch and see on your own.

August 25, 2011

Cosmic Whirl...

Milky Way

Apparently the latest photos from the Hubble reveal each of us to be a microscopic organism, dancing on a spec of dust, which is spinning in circles while rotating around a tiny flicker of a little flame, which will eventually burn out and gradually suck our lifeless little planet toward itself...but THEN, as if that's not enough, enter SAGITTARIUS A..

"Sagittarius A* (an enormous super black hole discovered at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy) will likely swallow up all the normal matter surrounding it, including the sun (our sun) and its planets (including our planet). After its humongous meal, this bloated black hole may then float through space until it encounters other giant holes that have already devoured their own former galaxies. And relentless gravity will inevitably cause these phenomenally massive objects to move ever closer to one another and merge in an embrace of self-annihilation."

It is really quite fantastic, isn't it?... that somehow, in this brief moment in cosmic history, that we are here at all!  But modern cosmologists are counting 1,2,3,... on physical PHOTOGRAPHS up to as many as 100 BILLION Earth-like planets in our Galaxy.  100 BILLION...with a number like this--with actual photos--how long can the human race continue to nurse various childish fairy-tale beliefs about the source of life?  

Can anyone with even half of a mind continue to be so myopic as to think we are the center of anything other than our own heads?  100 BILLION inhabitable planets in our  little galaxy alone, which is just a miniscule  among, at minimum, trillions of galaxies spread across a universe that we cannot, as of yet, see any end to...

Sadhguru speaks about this cosmic landscape using the metaphors of ancient yogic sages, who knew these realities through the inner perception attained through meditation...

"The word Shiva literally means that which is not. That which is, is existence; that which is, is creation. That which is not is Shiva. That which is not means, if you open your eyes and look around, if your vision is for small things, you will see lots of creation. If your vision is really looking for big things, you will see that the biggest presence in existence is a vast emptiness. Just a few spots – which we call galaxies – are noticed, not the vast emptiness that holds it. This vastness or unbounded emptiness is Shiva.

When we say Shiva, we are referring to this vast emptiness of existence. It is in the lap of this vast emptiness that all creation has happened. Our ancient prayers are not about saving yourself, protecting yourself, or about doing better in life. The prayers have always been about ‘Oh lord, destroy me, so that I can become like Yourself.’

So when we say Shivratri, which is the darkest night of the month, it is an opportunity for us to dissolve our limitedness, to experience the unboundedness of the source of creation, which is the seed in every human being. Shivaratri is an opportunity to bring yourself to that experience of the vast emptiness within every human being, which is the source of all creation." ~Sadhguru

August 24, 2011


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August 20, 2011

Saturday Video: An astonishing story

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one.
She have experienced the oneness everyone speaks about so much. The ultimate human experience, in yoga known as a samadhi; available to everyone. An astonishing story.

August 17, 2011

Woman in Spirituality Q/A session with Sadhguru

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev 

Indian spirituality has always been a rich mixture of men and women reaching the heights of their consciousness. It is proved beyond doubt that a woman is as much capable as a man when it comes to the inner nature. It is only the peel that you can call a man or a woman. The Self is the same. Either you wear a masculine peel or a feminine peel. That is all it is. The peel does not decide what your spiritual capabilities are.

Sadhguru, I was curious about something that you said that the feminine by nature is more conducive to spirituality. But if you look back and see in the Indian culture or anywhere else, there were hardly any women gurus. You don’t even hear of enlightened women. Why is it like that? Is it something like having children or family, which takes them away from the goal of spirituality?

Sadhguru: Now, I want to tell you this. A woman can never get enlightened nor can a man get enlightened. Only if you are beyond these two damn things you can get enlightened. Because being a woman or a man is just a strong identification with a few body parts – not with your brains, not with your eyes, not with your nose, with something else, isn’t it so? Nothing wrong with it, but that is not the whole world.
That is not the basis of Creation; it is just one small part of life. So will women get enlightened? Women will never get enlightened. Men also will not get enlightened. Only if you transcend this you will get enlightened, not otherwise. Now, have there been enlightened beings who have happened to have a female body? Definitely many, any number of them, they have been enlightened and they just lived simple lives, having a just few people around them to whom they imparted their own thing in their own ways. Maybe they did not become famous and travel around the world and do things because that possibility has come only now. See, it is only in this generation that a woman can travel where she wants.
Hundred years ago she could not travel where she wants; the conditions were not such, isn’t it? If a man wants to set off, he will roll up his bag and just walk. A woman could not do that for a 
variety of reasons. Only a few of them are social, rest of them were just physical and otherwise, isn’t it? So because of that she might not have been well-known in the world. This does not mean there were no enlightened women, there have been many.

I found this trailer video above just recently. It's for "Yogawoman Film
" movie that came out sometimes this year. I kind of appreciate efforts like that. To bring the knowledge of yoga to the population is of most importance these days, of course, as long as it is of certain profoundness. Sadhguru says "there is no enlightenment for either man or woman, one have to go beyond these identifications". I haven't seen the full length movie, but the trailer it self is definitely missing this aspect. But still I thought I'll share it with you.  The next video below is Sadhguru talking some more about woman in spirituality.
Enjoy and have a great day, Denis.

August 11, 2011

Many of Buddhism's core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience. So how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right?

Over the last few decades many Buddhists and quite a few neuroscientists have examined Buddhism and neuroscience, with both groups reporting overlap. I’m sorry to say I have been privately dismissive. One hears this sort of thing all the time, from any religion, and I was sure in this case it would break down upon closer scrutiny. When a scientific discovery seems to support any religious teaching, you can expect members of that religion to become strict empiricists, telling themselves and the world that their belief is grounded in reality. They are always less happy to accept scientific data they feel contradicts their preconceived beliefs. No surprise here; no human likes to be wrong.
But science isn’t supposed to care about preconceived notions. Science, at least good science, tells us about the world as it is, not as some wish it to be. Sometimes what science finds is consistent with a particular religion’s wishes. But usually not.

Despite my doubts, neurology and neuroscience do not appear to profoundly contradict Buddhist thought. Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.
Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’  One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.
When considering a Buddhist contemplating his soul, one is immediately struck by a disconnect between religious teaching and perception. While meditating in the temple, the self is an illusion. But when the Buddhist goes shopping he feels like we all do: unified, in control, and unchanged from moment to moment. The way things feel becomes suspect. And that’s pretty close to what neurologists deal with every day, like the case of Mr. Logosh.
Mr. Logosh was 37 years old when he suffered a stroke. It was a month after knee surgery and we never found a real reason other than trivially high cholesterol and smoking. Sometimes medicine is like that: bad things happen, seemingly without sufficient reasons. In the ER I found him aphasic, able to understand perfectly but unable to get a single word out, and with no movement of the right face, arm, and leg. We gave him the only treatment available for stroke, tissue plasminogen activator, but there was no improvement. He went to the ICU unchanged. A follow up CT scan showed that the dead brain tissue had filled up with blood. As the body digested the dead brain tissue, later scans showed a large hole in the left hemisphere.
Although I despaired, I comforted myself by looking at the overlying cortex. Here the damage was minimal and many neurons still survived. Still, I mostly despaired. It is a tragedy for an 80-year-old to spend life’s remainder as an aphasic hemiplegic. The tragedy grows when a young man looks towards decades of mute immobility. But you can never tell with early brain injuries to the young. I was yoked to optimism. After all, I’d treated him.

The next day Mr. Logosh woke up and started talking. Not much at first, just ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Then ‘water,’ ‘thanks,’ ‘sure,’ and ‘me.’ We eventually sent him to rehab, barely able to speak, still able to understand.
One year later he came back to the office with an odd request. He was applying to become a driver and needed my clearance, which was a formality. He walked with only a slight limp, his right foot a bit unsure of itself. His voice had a slight hitch, as though he were choosing his words carefully.
When we consider our language, it seems unified and indivisible. We hear a word, attach meaning to it, and use other words to reply. It’s effortless. It seems part of the same unified language sphere. How easily we are tricked! Mr. Logosh shows us that unity of language is an illusion. The seeming unity of language is really the work of different parts of the brain, which shift and change over time, and which fracture into receptive and expressive parts.
Consider how easily Buddhism accepts what happened to Mr. Logosh. Anatta is not a unified, unchanging self. It is more like a concert, constantly changing emotions, perceptions, and thoughts. Our minds are fragmented and impermanent. A change occurred in the band, so it follows that one expects a change in the music.
Both Buddhism and neuroscience converge on a similar point of view: The way it feels isn’t how it is. There is no permanent, constant soul in the background. Even our language about ourselves is to be distrusted (requiring the tortured negation of anatta). In the broadest strokes then, neuroscience and Buddhism agree.
How did Buddhism get so much right? I speak here as an outsider, but it seems to me that Buddhism started with a bit of empiricism. Perhaps the founders of Buddhism were pre-scientific, but they did use empirical data. They noted the natural world: the sun sets, the wind blows into a field, one insect eats another. There is constant change, shifting parts, and impermanence. They called this impermanence anicca, and it forms a central dogma of Buddhism.
This seems appropriate as far as the natural world is concerned. Buddhists don’t apply this notion to mathematical truths or moral certainties, but sometimes, cleverly, apply it to their own dogmas. Buddhism has had millennia to work out seeming contradictions, and it is only someone who was not indoctrinated who finds any of it strange. (Or at least any stranger than, say, believing God literally breathed a soul into the first human.)
Early on, Buddhism grasped the nature of worldly change and divided parts, and then applied it to the human mind. The key step was overcoming egocentrism and recognizing the connection between the world and humans. We are part of the natural world; its processes apply themselves equally to rocks, trees, insects, and humans. Perhaps building on its heritage, early Buddhism simply did not allow room for human exceptionalism.
I should note my refusal to accept that they simply got this much right by accident, which I find improbable. Why would accident bring them to such a counterintuitive belief? Truth from subjective religious rapture is also highly suspect. Firstly, those who enter religious raptures tend to see what they already know. Secondly, if the self is an illusion, then aren’t subjective insights from meditation illusory as well?

I don’t mean to dismiss or gloss over the areas where Buddhism and neuroscience diverge. Some Buddhist dogmas deviate from what we know about the brain. Buddhism posits an immaterial thing that survives the brain’s death and is reincarnated. After a person’s death, the consciousness reincarnates. If you buy into the idea of a constantly changing immaterial soul, this isn’t as tricky and insane as it seems to the non-indoctrinated. During life, consciousness changes as mental states replace one another, so each moment can be considered a reincarnation from the moment before. The waves lap, the sand shifts. If you’re good, they might one day lap upon a nicer beach, a higher plane of existence. If you’re not, well, someone’s waves need to supply the baseline awareness of insects, worms, and other creepy-crawlies.
The problem is that there’s no evidence for an immaterial thing that gets reincarnated after death. In fact, there’s even evidence against it. Reincarnation would require an entity (even the vague, impermanent one called anatta) to exist independently of brain function. But brain function has been so closely tied to every mental function (every bit of consciousness, perception, emotion, everything self and non-self about you) that there appears to be no remainder. Reincarnation is not a trivial part of most forms of Buddhism. For example, the Dalai Lama’s followers chose him because they believe him to be the living reincarnation of a long line of respected teachers.
Why have the dominant Western religious traditions gotten their permanent, independent souls so wrong? Taking note of change was not limited to Buddhism. The same sort of thinking pops up in Western thought as well. The pre-Socratic Heraclitus said, “Nothing endures but change.” But that observation didn’t really go anywhere. It wasn’t adopted by monotheistic religions or held up as a central natural truth. Instead, pure Platonic ideals won out, perhaps because they seemed more divine.
Western thought is hardly monolithic or simple, but monotheistic religions made a simple misstep when they didn’t apply naturalism to themselves and their notions of their souls. Time and again, their prominent scholars and philosophers rendered the human soul exceptional and otherworldly, falsely elevating our species above and beyond nature. We see the effects today. When Judeo-Christian belief conflicts with science, it nearly always concerns science removing humans from a putative pedestal, a central place in creation. Yet science has shown us that we reside on the fringes of our galaxy, which itself doesn’t seem to hold a particularly precious location in the universe. Our species came from common ape-like ancestors, many of which in all likelihood possessed brains capable of experiencing and manifesting some of our most precious “human” sentiments and traits. Our own brains produce the thing we call a mind, which is not a soul. Human exceptionalism increasingly seems a vain fantasy. In its modest rejection of that vanity, Buddhism exhibits less error and less original sin, this one of pride.
How well will any religion apply the lessons of neuroscience to the soul? Mr. Logosh, like every person who’s brain lesion changes their mind, challenges the Western religions. An immaterial soul cannot easily account for even a stroke associated with aphasia. Will monotheistic religions change their idea of the soul to accommodate data? Will they even try? It is doubtful. The rigid human exceptionalism is cemented firmly into dogma.

Will Buddhists allow neuroscience to render their idea of reincarnation obsolete? This is akin to asking if the Dalai Lama and his followers will decide he’s only the symbolic reincarnation of past teachers. This is also doubtful, but Buddhism’s first steps at least made it possible. Unrelated to neuroscience and neurology, in 1969 the Dalai Lama said his “office was an institution created to benefit others. It is possible that it will soon have outlived its usefulness.” Impermanence and shifting parts entail constant change, so perhaps it is no surprise that he’s lately said he may choose the next office holder before his death.
Buddhism’s success was to apply the world’s impermanence to humans and their souls. The results have carried this religion from ancient antiquity into modernity, an impressive distance. With no fear of impermanent beliefs or constant change, how far will they go?

August 6, 2011

Saturday Video: Energizing Office Yoga

This is something we all see more and more on the web, especially in yoga circles. Office yoga is becoming very popular these days. Great way how to stay fresh trough the day. Coming back home in better mood  available for your family. Awesome!
 Enjoy the video!