Archive for February, 2011


Acharya Shree Yogeesh talks about the time of death and what happens to the soul. He says that where the soul exits the body, can determine where that person will go in his or her next birth.

Vedic Astrology is different from western astrology. Vedic Astrology focuses primarily on remedies in the form of rituals and meditations to counteract the evil influences of planets and enhance the good influences of planets whenever they are placed in the proper place in the birth chart. We don’t have remedies in western astrology.

Join Integral coach Terry Patten as he discusses the evolution of spiritual practice, the essential modules of Integral Life Practice and the role of the spiritual teacher in modern society, with host Craig Hamilton.

Integral vs. Evolutionary: What’s the Difference? A dialogue with Terry Patten and Chris Parish

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/10/07/Richard_Daw…

Biologist Richard Dawkins identifies what he views is the single most compelling fact to refute Creationism — but states that the real problem lies in convincing Creationists to listen to the evidence. “What they do is simply stick their fingers in their ears and say ‘La la la,'” says Dawkins. “You cannot argue with a mind like that.”

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Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion created a storm of controversy over the question of God’s existence. Now, in The Greatest Show on Earth, Dawkins presents a stunning counterattack against advocates of “Intelligent Design” that explains the evidence for evolution while keeping an eye trained on the absurdities of the creationist argument.

More than an argument of his own, it’s a thrilling tour into our distant past and into the interstices of life on earth. Taking us through the case for evolution step-by-step, Dawkins looks at DNA, selective breeding, anatomical similarities, molecular family trees, geography, time, fossils, vestiges and imperfections, human evolution, and the formula for a strong scientific theory.

Dawkins’ trademark wit and ferocity is joined by an infectious passion for the beauty and strangeness of the natural world, proving along the way that the mechanisms of the natural world are more miraculous — a “greater show” — than any creation story generated by any religion on earth. – Berkeley Arts and Letters

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and author. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and, until recently, held the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His first book, The Selfish Gene, was an instant international bestseller, and has become an established classic work of modern evolutionary biology.

He is also the author of The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The Ancestor’s Tale The God Delusion, and most recently, The Greatsest Show on Earth.

Professor Dawkins’s awards have included the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London (1989), the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Award (1990), the Nakayama Prize for Achievement in Human Science (1990), The International Cosmos Prize (1997) and the Kistler Prize (2001).

He has Honorary Doctorates in both literature and science, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Can We Trust The Bible Written 2000 Years Ago?

Best Argument for Belief in God? Dr. William Lane Craig

Best Argument for Belief in God?
Answered by
Dr. William Lane Craig

Who Designed The Designer? a response to Dawkins’ The God Delusion

Answered by
Dr. William Lane Craig
Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology
http://www.reasonablefaith.org

The New Atheists are Not Intellectually Bright

William Lane Craig mentions many atheists today (like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc.) whose books are unsophisticated, intellectually shallow, and an embarrassment in the field of philosophy.

Why Is Richard Dawkins So Popular? Dr. William Lane Craig

Dr. William Lane Craig
Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology
http://www.reasonablefaith.org

Here Diane talks about the ever present and unchanging nature of enlightenment as it manifests in the changing field of time and evolution.

Terry Patten on socio-spiritual responsibility for our evolutionary emergency—from a nondual perspective. Full clip at http://www.integralheart.com.

A neuroscientist examined brain scans of memory patients and web-based surveys of people’s religious and spiritual experiences. The correlations he found led him to conclude that an active spirtual life physically changes the brain.

Is God Hardwired into Your Brain?

Dr. William Lane Craig answers.

Is God hardwired into the brain? Do people believe in God because of their childhood upbringing? Is there a “God” gene?

I recently had the fortune to interview Dr. Andrew Newberg, one of the leading researchers focused on meditation and the brain. Dr. Andrew Newberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has researched the brain impact of meditation and prayer, and how brain function is associated with mystical and religious experiences.

Dr. Newberg, thank you for being with us today. Can you please explain the source of your interests at the intersection of brain research and spirituality?

Since I was a kid, I had a keen interest in spiritual practice. I always wondered how spirituality and religion affect us, and over time I came to appreciate how science can help us explore and understand the world around us, including why we humans care about spiritual practices. This, of course, led me to be particularly interested in brain research.

During medical school I was particularly attracted by the problem of consciousness. I was fortunate to meet researcher Dr. Eugene D’Aquili in the early 1990s, who had been doing much research on religious practices effect on brain since the 1970s. Through him I came to see that brain imaging can provide a fascinating window into the brain.

Can we define religion and spirituality -which sound to me as very different brain processes-, and why learning about them may be helpful from a purely secular, scientific point of view?

Good point, definitions matter, since different people may be searching for God in different ways. I view being religious as participating in organized rituals and shared beliefs, such as going to church. Being spiritual, on the other hand, is more of an individual practice, whether we call it meditation, or relaxation, or prayer, aimed at expanding the self, developing a sense of oneness with the universe.

What is happening is that specific practices that have traditionally been associated with religious and spiritual contexts may also be very useful from a mainstream, secular, health point of view, beyond those contexts. Scientists are researching, for example, what elements of meditation may help manage stress and improve memory. How breathing and meditation techniques can contribute to health and wellness. For example, my lab is now conducting a study where 15 older adults with memory problems are practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation during 8 weeks, and we have found very promising preliminary outcomes in terms of the impact on brain function. This work is being funded by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, but we have submitted a grant request to the National Institute of Health as well.

Can you give an overview of the benefits of meditation, including Richard Davidson’s studies on mindfulness meditation?

There are many types of meditation – and we each are researching different practices. Which of course share some common elements, but are different in nature. Dr. Davidson has access to the Dalai Lama and many Buddhist practitioners, so much of his research centers on mindfulness meditation. We have easier access to Franciscan monks and to practitioners of Kirtan Kriya meditation.

At its core, meditation is an active process that requires alertness and attention, which explains why we often find increased brain activity in frontal lobes during practice. Usually you need to focus on something – a mantra, a visual or verbal prompt- while you monitor breathing.

A variety of studies have already shown the stress management benefits of meditation, resulting in what is often called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. What we are researching now is what are the cognitive – attention, memory- benefits? It is clear that memory depends on attention and the ability to screen out distractions – so we want to measure the effect of meditation on the brain, both structurally and functionally.

To measure the brain activation patterns we have been using SPECT imaging, which involves injecting small amounts of radioactive tracers in volunteers, and helps us get a more view of what happens during practice (fMRI is much more noisy).

To measure functional benefits we use the typical batteries of neuropsychology testing.

If there is a growing body of evidence behind the health and cognitive benefits of meditation – what is preventing a more widespread adoption of the practice, perhaps in ways similar to yoga, which is now pretty much a mainstream activity?

Well, the reality is that meditation requires practice and dedication. It is not an easy fix. And some of the best-researched meditation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, are very intensive. You need a trained facilitator. You need to stick to the practice.

In fact, that’s why our ongoing research focused on a much easier to teach and practice technique. We want to see if people can practice on their own, at home, a few minutes a day for a few weeks.

The other problem is that this is not a standardized practice, so there is a lot of confusion: many different meditation techniques, with different sets of priorities and styles.

My advice for interested people would be to look for something simple, easy to try first, ensuring the practice is compatible with one’s beliefs and goals. You need to match practice with need: understand the specific goals you have in mind, your schedule and lifestyle, and find something practical. Otherwise, you will not stick to it (similar to people who never show up at the health club despite paying fees).

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote two very thought-provoking articles, one on the Cognitive Age we are living in, another on the Neural Buddhists, where he quotes your work. What is the big picture, the main implications for society from your research?

I believe Philosophy complements Science, and all of us human beings would benefit from spiritual practices to achieve higher state of being, develop compassion, increase awareness, in ways compatible with any religious or secular beliefs. This is the main theme of my upcoming book, How God Changes Brain (to be published on March 2009): how we develop a shared knowledge of our common biology, and celebrate the differences which are based on our specific contexts. We are spiritual and social beings.

From an education point of view, I believe schools will need to recognize that rote learning is not enough, and add to the mix practices to improve cognition, and manage stress and relationships.

That spiritual angle may prove controversial in a number of scientific quarters. What would you say, for example, to biologist Richard Dawkins?

I’d tell him that we all view the world through the lens of our brains, reflecting our cultural, social, and personal background. His view is based on his lens. Same as mine. All of us have a belief system. His is not particularly more accurate than everybody else’s.

We shouldn’t throw out the baby with bathwater. I don’t think religion is a black & white matter: yes, fundamentalism is a problem, as is rejecting data and ignoring scientific findings. But there are also good elements: the motivation to care about human beings, to develop compassion, to perfect ourselves and our world.

Dr. Newberg, thank you for your time today.

My pleasure.

A seeker asks what is meant by the words Mystic, Yogi & Siddhar. Sadhguru explains the word Siddha means established one, the word mystic is an English word. (AO62)

For many people, the reason why the spiritual path seems to be a struggle is that their culture and social situations have always taught them to be special. So one’s whole life effort becomes focused on this. To be special means to have something others do not have, but wanting to possess something that others do not have is not “special” — it is a convoluted sense of wellbeing. Right now, if your only joy is that somebody else does not have what you have, if this is the only pleasure in your life, we call this perversion, not special.

People can find pleasure in all kinds of things. Once it happened — two men were captured by fierce cannibals from a neighboring tribe. After a meeting with their headman, the tribe decided to cook the men alive. The men were placed in a pot of water, and as the fire started burning and the water became hotter and hotter, the older man started laughing — really laughing. So the younger man said, “Are you crazy? Do you know what is going to happen to us? Why are you laughing?” The older man said, “I just peed in their soup!” So people find pleasure in all sorts of perverted ways.

Spirituality is not about becoming special. It is about becoming one with everything. This wanting to become special — this disease — has come to people simply because they have not recognized the value of the uniqueness of their being. By living on the surface for so long, their whole effort has been to be special. As long as this effort is on, you are only working counter to the spiritual process. The whole dimension of spirituality is to melt and become one with existence, not to stand out like a sore thumb.

In so many ways, the mind always wants to be special. That is the nature of the egoistic mind. Logically, it can only compare. The moment this comparison comes, competition starts. And the moment competition starts, your life sense will disappear because now it is only about being better than others. It is because of this foolish endeavor that we are in the ridiculous situation of having to teach people about their own nature. We have to remind people about their own original nature simply because they are just lost trying to outdo someone or everyone around them.

Some time ago, our yoga program brochures used to say: “From Ordinary to Extraordinary.” People thought they would become special by doing the program and would ask me “Sadhguru, how will we be special?” And I would always tell them, “You are going to become “extra” ordinary — more ordinary than other people.”

The more and more you try to be special, the further and further you get from the truth. So much suffering and mental illness have come from this desire to be special. So instead of deriving perverse pleasure from the fact that somebody does not have what you have, if you genuinely make the effort to become one with everything, then this internal struggle will completely go away. If you recognize your uniqueness and also every other being’s uniqueness, you can neither become less nor more than anyone else

Unleashing the Mind – Sadhguru

In this volume, Sadhguru examines the one tool which distinguishes a human being from all other creatures — the mind. But like any other instrument, it is only as good as the one who wields it. Unaware of its mechanisms, the mind has become a source of pain and depression for many. In Unleashing the Mind, Sadhguru not only explores ways to transcend its limitations and identifications, but also to tap its full potential and even use the mind as a “ladder to the Divine”.

“Your mind, which should have been a ladder to the Divine, unfortunately has become a stairway to hell simply because it is identified with so many things.” – Sadhguru


Lewis Richmond

Buddhist writer and teacher

The baby boomer generation has been criticized for making every stage of life — whether it be adolescence, college, child-rearing and now their aging — into a self-referential adventure of transformation and improvement. From that point of view, the notion of aging as a spiritual practice could be seen as just the latest of these baby boomer projects: “We’re going to do aging differently and better than anyone!” Some commentators have concluded that the baby boomers were a coddled, spoiled generation. To them, the bumper sticker “Life is hard and then you die” is more how things actually are.

Needless to say, I see things differently. Yes, we baby boomers came to maturity at a time of great social upheaval and change, and we participated in and helped engineer that change. And due to the affluence of the postwar America in which we grew up, we had the time and energy to devote to our own inner development and outer social transformation. In the 1960s, 70 percent of college students rated “personal fulfillment” as their most important life goal, while today the same percentage mention financial success as their life’s goal. Money and career seemed easy 40 years ago; now they seem hard.

In that sense, times have changed, and today’s Generations X and Y have very different priorities than we did. What has not changed are the fundamentals of the human condition, which includes aging. There is the old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” If only we had 60-year-old wisdom in a 30-year-old body! There have been a number of hit movies that have explored this fantasy. Well, dream on. It has never happened and barring some medical miracle, it never will.

We don’t worry about things we don’t care about. Worry and care go together. We care about our family and friends; that is why we worry about them. We care about the fate of the planet, or of the hardships of people losing their jobs or their homes. These things matter to us a lot, and it would seem that if we gave up worry we would also be giving up our care. That doesn’t seem right.

Buddhist teaching understands this connection between worry and care quite well. Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, spent his whole life working on this single problem: How can we relieve the unnecessary suffering that we impose on ourselves because we care so much and can’t see a perspective larger than our care?

Or to put it another way: How can we transform our conditional, limited love for just those people and things we care about into an unconditional love which cares equally about everyone and everything?

When I was a child in Sunday school, we would ask our teacher, “What is God? Who is God?” And we were told, “God is love.” I never gave a whole lot of thought to that answer at the time, I just accepted it as true without understanding what it meant. Now in our crisis-ridden world, where war and violence and hatred seem as prevalent as any time in the past, God as love seems a lot more complicated than it did when I first heard it. How is it that this unconditional love continues to elude us, generation after generation? How can we find it? What can we do?

I think this quest is the particular mission of elders, those who have lived long enough for youthful idealism to fade and deeper wisdom to dawn. The spiritual practice of aging, I think, is to add some words to that cynical bumper sticker. I would say it this way:

Yes, life is hard, and then you die, but before you do find out what love is.

“Work is not just a job. It is the sum of all our purposeful activities. Seen in this light, work is our whole life.” — — from A Whole Life’s Work What is work in the truest sense of the word? For Buddhist priest and acclaimed author Lewis Richmond, work is more than just having a job, or a means to a profitable end. It is the key to cultivating inner life and contributing to the developing consciousness of all humanity.

In this companion to his national bestseller, Work as a Spiritual Practice, Richmond applies his Buddhist understanding to address what is perhaps one of the primary struggles of contemporary Western life: how to achieve a healthy balance between professional ambition and personal happiness. Here he adapts Buddhist categories of spiritual virtue in defining eight important modes of work�the Earner, the Hobbyist, the Creator, the Monk, the Helper, the Parent, the Learner, and the Elder�along with their corresponding eight modes of inner work: Precepts, Vitality, Patience, Calm, Equanimity, Giving, Humility, and Wisdom. How to internalize these modes of work, and lead a more meaningful and spiritual life, is what this groundbreaking guidebook is all about. Whether we are professionals, artists, hobbyists, parents, students, or spiritual leaders, A Whole Life1s Work can teach us how to reconcile our outer livelihood with our inner lives…and reap the benefits of hard work well done.

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