Scientific Proof for Karma? York U Study Finds Small Acts of Kindness Have Big Impact on Emotional Well-Being16 September, 2014 at 10:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology, relationships, Science, Spirituality
TORONTO, May 17, 2011 – Practicing small acts of kindness will make you a happier person, and the boost in mood stays with you for months, according to research out of York University.
More than 700 people took part in a study which charted the effects of being nice to others, in small doses, over the course of a week. Researchers asked participants to act compassionately towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day, by actively helping or interacting with them in a supportive and considerate manner. Six months later, participants reported increased happiness and self-esteem.
“The concept of compassion and kindness resonates with so many religious traditions, yet it has received little empirical evidence until recently,” says lead author Myriam Mongrain, associate professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health. “What’s amazing is that the time investment required for these changes to occur is so small. We’re talking about mere minutes a day,” she says.
Participants’ levels of depression, happiness, and self-esteem were assessed at the study’s onset, and at four subsequent points over the following six months; those in the compassionate condition reported significantly greater increases in self-esteem and happiness at six months compared to those in the control group.
So why does doing good for others make us feel good about ourselves?
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology, relationships, Society, Spirituality
By Susanne W. Lamm
Epoch Times Staff
GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A Swedish prison, specialized in treating drug offenders, offered the inmates meditation – under the label of “mindfulness” – as an addition to their regular treatment program. The idea was that prisoners would be able to cope better with everyday life after their release. The method is called “The Path of Freedom”, and has received high praise from inmates and prison staff alike.
Ulrika Lilljegren, former manager of the Högsbo prison facility, says that inmates seem to be more responsive to the other treatment programs if they are combined with yoga or meditation, for instance.
According to Lilljegren, many inmates most likely suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, like ADHD, or are damaged from long-term drug abuse. They often find it difficult to focus and concentrate.
“We had a guy like that [in the "Path of Freedom"-project],” she says. “Watching him sit still for half an hour, was a completely new experience. He was always very active, just bouncing around the ward, but he had found something in this meditation practice that allowed him to sit still.
Meditation provides new tools for the participants, helping them to perhaps stop and think before they act. They discover ways to adjust their behavior in a way that helps them not get into trouble all the time.
“Of course, different people had different reactions, but for a couple of them, it had a huge impact, and a great influence,” Lilljegren says.
Pake Hall from the Gothenburg Zen Center led the classes. He thinks the prison is a great environment for meditation.
“It’s such a difficult environment,” he mentions. “But you become aware of the fact that you need to face your own dark sides. They emerge when you’re locked up like that, and have nowhere to go. There is also plenty of time for practice. In many ways, it’s like a monastery.”
Hall feels a connection to society’s less fortunate. He often ended up with people that have social problems, with individuals whose behavior is on the borderline between what is and isn’t functional in society. He worked at treatment centers, and also with children with different kinds of difficulties.
When he began to meditate earnestly, he felt there was something in it he wanted to pass on to others. He thought about all the people who were locked up, who might be interested in meditation, but who don’t have a chance to learn it.
He joined an American network called Prison Dharma Network. Here he became the mentor of a young American man, serving a double-life sentence for gang-related murders, and who had become interested in practising Buddhism. Their exchange was limited to letters, but the Prison Dharma Network later held a class that would allow Hall to hold Path of Freedom-classes at Swedish criminal facilities.
“The Path of Freedom is based on a very simple idea,” he says. “It’s all about helping people who are locked up.
“It’s about questioning whether these walls really are what’s keeping us from being free, or if there is something else standing in our way,” Hall explains. “Maybe we’re stuck in our own prisons, no matter if we’re sitting in our home in Gothenburg, with unlimited freedom, or locked up in a high-security prison? Maybe we’re all trapped by desire and aversion? This is a way to work with these issues, regardless of your surroundings.”
But shouldn’t society’s resources be used for helping people who fall prey to criminals and their actions, rather than the criminals themselves? Hall has a different perspective.
“I see nothing but victims here,” he says. “As soon as we commit an act that leads to another person’s suffering, that person suffers, but we suffer too, because we have to live with the consequences of that action. There are two victims, not one.”
He adds that the prison is in fact a great place for breaking the patterns of human existence. Many people in prison have deeply rooted patterns of hurting themselves and others. If you can somehow help them get out of these ruts, suffering may be reduced, both for them and for those around them.
The class consisted of 12 sessions. In order to motivate the inmates, they were scheduled in the middle of the week, which meant they could attend mindfulness classes instead of working. Each session lasted between 1 and 1,5 hours, and consisted of both theory and practice, one-on-one talks, and sharing experiences with the group.
Subjects like compassion, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and conflict resolution were at the center of the curriculum. Between the sessions, inmates would have “cell practice”, where they put into practice what they had learned.
“You don’t know how these people are going to take what you’re teaching them,” Hall says. “You sow little seeds during these short sessions. It’s a very, very dull environment. We’re in a locked room, with guards present at all times, for security reasons. New people join all the time, and many participants are having major problems with restlessness and anxiety.”
The “us and them”-culture of the prison was also an obstacle. To inmates, it’s important to not appear vulnerable, to be tough and to maintain their status.
“A mindfulness class is very much about just letting go and opening up,” Hall explains. “It’s about looking at what you’ve got, so of course the group can get sensitive at times. Once you’ve done a few sessions, though, something happens. It becomes a safe place, a ‘container’ for sharing things, or just listening to the teacher without making smart remarks to your neighbor. But as soon as new people enter the group, their masks are put on again, more or less.”
Being a neutral, third party in between prisoners, management and staff was also tricky, according to Hall.
“Everyone wants you to be their ally,” he explains. “The guards want to influence the inmates in a certain direction. Some thoughts and ideas are supposed to be ‘wrong’ from their perspective. And during the sharing with the inmates after the meditation, they would vent their anger with the guards. Not agreeing with them, yet not contradicting them, being there with them and not making them feel like you’re distancing yourself or disrespecting how they feel… It was very interesting, the way that game was always on.”
Overall, the project was a success. The response from the participants was positive. One of them wrote:
“My head is like a (…) ping pong game all the time, with balls flying all over the place, and now I’ve realized I don’t need to return all those balls.”
Another participant described how, when another inmate was “eyeballing him” in the cafeteria line, he remembered what he had learned in class, and just moved his attention down to his feet, instead of resorting to violence.
“That’s great, of course,” Hall says. “Those little seeds you sow, and when they tell you that they really liked it, and wanted more of it. It was worth the time I spent there.”
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Tags: beyond science, Body & Mind, funny things, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Tara MacIsaac
The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In “Beyond Science” Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.
David Paladin’s true story is one so full of hardship, perseverance, and metaphysical mystery, that it has captured the imagination of many over the past 70 years.
“Have you ever heard a story so powerful that it reverberated loudly through your interior landscape? Or it stopped you cold in your tracks and made you think—hard—about your life? I did in 1994, and it’s still with me today,” wrote Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., in a Selfgrowth.com post, referring to Paladin’s story told to her by author Caroline Myss. “For weeks and weeks after attending a professional conference where I first heard this story, I told everyone I encountered this tale. And I mean everyone.”
In 1985, Paladin told Myss about his days as a childhood alcoholic on a Navajo reservation, his time serving in WWII, a strange coincidence that saved his life, and the torture he endured as a prisoner of war. The most mysterious part of Paladin’s story is the part in which the deceased Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) may have entered his body and stayed there. That’s where reincarnation researcher Dr. H.N. Banerjee comes in. Banerjee wrote about Paladin’s case in his book “The Once and Future Life.”
The following account of Paladin’s life draws from Myss’s book, “Anatomy of the Spirit,” the story as she told it to Dr. McDowell, and Banerjee’s reports.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, meditation, psychology, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development
By Rosemary Byfield
How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.
Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.
Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.
“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.
“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.
Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.
Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.
“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.
Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.
“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.
“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”
In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.
Tags: Buddha, cultivation, quote of the day, Spirituality
…“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own
in the midst of abundance.”
Gautama Siddharta 563-483 B.C.
Tags: Body & Mind, books, health, meditation, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.
Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.
Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.
But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.
Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.
If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.
“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”
Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.
Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.
For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.
Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.
However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.
Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.
Addicted to Emotions
Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.
Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.
Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.
“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.
Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, relationships, Spirituality, thoughts of the day
My comment: Read this! Many useful thoughts… One’s attitudes are of great importance.
Originally posted on Successify!:
This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
The question is: how do they do that?
It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do…
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Tags: Chinese culture, Science, Society, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” —Genesis 7:11-12
Approximately 9,000 to 5,000 years ago in the northern Turkish province of Sinop, an event of spectacular historic magnitude took place. So spectacular, in fact, that some believe it represents proof that the “Great Flood” recounted in the Bible may have been an actual (though somewhat exaggerated) representation of real events.
In September of 2004, an expedition in the Black Sea by a team of scientists from various institutions (including the National Geographic Society) determined that the sea in question was not always as we know it today.
They concluded that it had originated from an immense lake of black water that at one point in history began to widen in an unusually rapid way. The change was so great, in fact, that inhabitants of the surrounding area were immediately obliged to search for more secure land, hastily leaving behind housing, tools, and other traces of their former lives.
This led the underwater expedition headed by oceanographer Robert Ballad to declare that there once existed human settlements that now reside more than 300 feet underwater. This startling Black Sea discovery not only contributed to a thoroughly enriched historical understanding of the serious alterations in water level suffered in the ancient Middle East, but also raised questions about what caused the alteration in the first place.
Since then, scientists and reporters continue to probe the unresolved issue; it is a key to understanding the historical development of human civilization and the different climatic stages that Earth has experienced. Furthermore, it is an important theme intertwined not only with the Judeo-Christian tradition but with many legends from different cultures around the world—the Great Flood.
The Black Sea: Proof of the Flood?
Contemporary hypotheses suggesting that the rapid growth of the Black Sea was a consequence of an incredible rainfall of planetary proportions has never received great sale. Based on a large framework of scientific laws, predominantly geological, which have been established on the basis of empirical observation over the years, makes this a rather improbable scenario.
In the first place, skeptical geologists propose that for such a flood to have occurred, we would find a similar stratum throughout the world covered with pebbles, sludge, boulders, and other elements. It is curious that this layer cannot be found, even more so when the flood narrated by the Bible had taken place in a time as recent as 3000 B.C.
Neither can be found the strata of fossils, with different animal and vegetable species occupying specific soil layers. According to flood logic, the animal remains of all species before the big flood (including the extinct dinosaurs) should be found today in only one stratum, without any distinction. But paleontology completely contradicts these suppositions.
Yet these examples appear to be only the tip of the iceberg comprising the arguments that refute a global flood. Even so, much of such reasoning is refuted with equal grace by the “pro-flood” scientists. In fact, descriptions like “all the sources of the great abyss were broken” or “the waterfalls of the heavens were opened” recounted in Genesis are backed up by hypotheses that, although incredible, are impossible to rule out as being incompatible with reality.
One of the more dramatic hypotheses proposed that the planet could have been covered with water up to its highest points, contrary to the calculations indicating that all the water suspended in the atmosphere would only be enough to reach a modest 1.2 inches over the total surface of Earth.
These “flood supporters” calculate that if the geography of Earth went through a leveling out in its surface—the mountains being lowered, the sea troughs being elevated—then the entire Earth would be covered by thousands of feet of water.
According to the water-covers-the-earth theory, in the times of Noah the upper layers of the atmosphere contained a substantial amount of water that today makes up the oceans. This atmospheric water was what covered the whole planet, and which later returned to the ocean troughs by violent vertical tectonic movements. Researchers in support of this idea believe it makes suitable reference to the “waterfalls of the heavens” that could condense themselves thanks to dust generated by several simultaneous volcanic eruptions.
With respect to non-Biblical myths about a purifying flood, these can be found in the Hindu, Sumerian, Greek, Acadia, Chinese, Mapuche, Mayan, Aztec, and Pascuanese (Easter Island) cultures, among others. Several of these stories appear to possess surprisingly similar common factors. Among the most repeated themes are those of celestial announcements ignored by the people, the great flood itself, the construction of an ark to preserve life from the flood, and the later restoration of life on the planet.
A clear example of this similarity is provided by pre-Biblical Mesopotamian history of the flood in which the god “Ea” warned Uta-na-pistim, king of Shuruppak, about the punishment that awaits humanity for its serious moral degeneration. Uta-na-pistim received instructions from the god to construct a craft in the form of a cube with eight floors, and said that it should include in it a pair of each species of animal, plant seeds, as well as his own family. Thus, Uta-na-pistim survived the several-day-long deluge, released a bird to verify the proximity of dry land, and made an animal sacrifice to the gods.
In Search of the Lost Ark
One separate point that adds weight to the Bible controversy is the body of photographic and physical evidence of a large object encrusted in Mount Ararat, where, according to the Christian text narrations, finally rested the ark of Noah.
In the beginning of 2006, University of Richmond professor Porcher Taylor declared that according to an extensive study made over years of satellite photography there is a foreign object encrusted in the area northeast of the mountain, the length of which coincides perfectly with that of the ark recounted in the Bible.
Such satellite images from above Ararat have inspired the curiosity of a great number of scientists since this declaration was made in 1974. Several expeditions of investigators also managed to rescue remains of petrified wood, as well as 13 strong anchors of rock in the area surrounding the supposed location of the possible archeological treasure. Ultrasonic tests have also been made, revealing a very odd structure embedded in the rock.
In spite of the multiplicity of texts from diverse cultures which tell the story of a great ancient flood, the magnitude and duration of such an event seems to be a point of argument, even among those who believe that such an event actually occurred. Thus, while a small number of researchers suggests that this flood covered the entire Earth in vast amounts of water, most geologists agree that such a scenario is an impossibility.
While not everyone believes ancient accounts that describe the re-creation of humanity from the salvation of a handful of people, it would seem that a climatic catastrophe actually did take place across the entire planet several millennia ago. We can also safely assume that an indefinite number of human beings in elevated locations had the capacity to continue civilization, and to transmit the story of the occurrence to later generations.
Up until the time when evidence is revealed to definitively tip the scales toward one of these particular theories, the story of a time when a great flood purged the sins of man will be taken as a myth for some and a statement of historical fact for others. Either way, this great ancient flood remains forever a part of the story of humankind.
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, Society, Spirituality
By Cassie Ryan
A police officer ended up ill in hospital after jumping into a filthy river in Zhejiang Province to rescue a 14-year-old girl trying to commit suicide.
Zhang Guangcong, 51, dived beneath the severely polluted water three times to reach the teenager, who had sunk below the surface of the river in Wenzhou City.
He told the Metro Express that the water was so dirty he kept his eyes closed the whole time, and relied on instinct to find her.
A few hours later, Zhang began to cough and vomit, and went to the hospital the next day with other symptoms like dizziness, and skin irritation. He was diagnosed with a severe lung infection, probably caused by bacteria from the dirty water.
According to the Express, that part of the river is black with pollution, and has a terrible stench. The banks are covered in rotten food and other domestic waste, and there are rats running around during the day.
An elderly local called Mr. Lin told the media that he used to wash his clothes in the river, but now no one dares go near the water. He added: “A badge factory discharges its electroplating waste directly into the river; they were sued by residents over 10 years ago, but they kept on doing it anyway.”
Tags: Culture, Society, Spirituality
The Indian national flower, Lotus Nelumbo nucifera, profoundly inspires the country’s ancient and modern culture, art, and literary richness.
or those who have traveled through the heart of rural southern-India, the sights of Lotus ponds surely act as an unforgettable and beautiful reminiscent of the journey. The flower’s association with Indian culture dates back to thousands of years—thereby inspiring, shaping and, bringing out the true spirit of India as an ancient civilization.
The richness of ancient Indian literature is synonymous with its ancient language, Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, every word embodies a world of experiences.
According to K. K. Yatheendran, a Kerala based Sanskrit scholar, Lotus has many inspiring names in Sanskrit, each evocative of a different experience: Pankeyrooham (born from the mud), Sahasrapatram (thousand petaled), Kamalam (which decorates water), Shatapatram (hundered petaled), and Amboroham (that which sprouts from water) to name a few.
Yatheendran says that Lotus at many places in Sanskrit literature is used as a metaphor like the word “Vadana Amboojam,” which means a lotus like face or a lustrous face.
Lotus gets its best mention in modern Indian literature in a famous Sonnet “Lotus” by Toru Dutt, “Love came to Flora asking for a flower, That would of flowers be undisputed queen,…..”
The flower also finds itself etched on Indian art in various contexts. A very commonly seen symbol in Indian temples even now, Lotus has become synonyms with purity and goodness in art.
“It’s to be noted that generally only full blossomed flowers are offered before God in India, except for Lotus, whose buds are offered,” Yatheendran told the Epoch Times.
Lotus has been found in pre-historic murals and cave paintings in the country. The most noted is the painting, Padmapani of Cave 1 of Ajanta in Maharashtra state. In Sanskrit, Padmapani literally means the bearer of lotus.
The flower is also a popular motif in Kolams (Rangoli)—a from of decorative patterns drawn on the floor with powdered rice, chalk or synthetic powdered colors. The drawings are believed to bring prosperity to the home.
Even during the Mughal period, lotus motif was represented in architecture. In Shah-jahana-bad city, established by the king Shah Jahan (A.D. 1627–58), now known as the Red Fort, the lotus was used as a symbol of ever-renewing youth.
The exclusive female apartments (the Rang Mahal) is designed in the form of a large lotus, with delicately patterned petals laid out within a square bordered frame. In the center of the basin there is a slender stem with a silver lotus at the top from which water rushes out.
Tags: Chinese culture, classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun, Society, Spirituality, Tang Dynasty
VANCOUVER—The 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture depicted by Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 13, was a moving experience for Chinese billionaire Mr. Zhu, who attended the performance with his family.
“I am shocked. Our 5,000 years of civilization is so splendid. Especially wonderful were the pieces about the Tang Dynasty and Han Dynasty. The entire performance brought Chinese culture to life,” said Mr. Zhu, adding that he was often brought to tears during the show.
New York-based Shen Yun has taken it as its mission to revive the essence of the Middle Kingdom’s ancient culture, which consisted of principles originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism such as benevolence, honour, justice, propriety, and respect for the heavens.
According to the Shen Yun website, China’s rich traditional culture and art forms have been systematically destroyed due to various campaigns waged by the Chinese communist regime—something Mr. Zhu is well aware of.
“The root of traditional Chinese culture is in China. But in today’s China, the culture has been destroyed to an unrecognizable state. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the Confucius teaching was completely eradicated. As a result, the moral standard of our nation has collapsed,” he said.
Mr. Zhu noted that Shen Yun conveys the basic values of what it takes to be a good human being.
“What Shen Yun promotes is the return of human’s true self, true beauty, and true compassion,” he said.
“Why is it that human beings get to exist and develop? The fundamental reason is that there were saints and sages guiding us so that we stay close to our values of truth, compassion, and beauty.
“Only by doing so can civilization be preserved and human society develop, regardless of whether it’s China or other countries.”
Shen Yun has three equally large companies that tour annually, each with a unique orchestra that combines the grandeur of a Western philharmonic orchestra with classical Eastern instruments leading the melodies.
Through classical Chinese dance and Chinese ethnic and folk dances, Shen Yun presents beloved legends and inspiring stories from the long history of China.
“I think Shen Yun is telling the world about traditional Chinese culture, about the past glories of the Chinese nation,” Mr. Zhu said.
“In the meantime, Shen Yun is cleansing people’s hearts and reestablishing our values.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, Spirituality
When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Chinese culture, health, Spirituality
Sometimes the hardest tribulations help create a healthy spirit
In the Qing Dynasty, Zhao Defang, the father of three sons, enjoyed a very prosperous life. He felt especially fortunate that all his sons were married.
However, during Zhao’s 60th-birthday celebration, he confessed to his three sons that when he first set up the family business, he deliberately rigged his measuring scale to deceive his suppliers and customers. Whenever he purchased anything, the scale would show a lesser weight, and whenever he sold something to a customer, the scale would show a greater weight.
“That was why the cotton man went bankrupt after I bought thousands of kilograms of cotton from him. He tried desperately to save his business but died of typhoid 20 years ago. I still feel sorry for that cotton man today,” Zhao said.
“There was also an herbalist who died after I cheated him with my scale. There were others too, but these two were the most serious cases. Even though I now enjoy much wealth and a happy life, whenever I think of the people who died because of my actions, I feel so guilty that I cannot sleep at night.
“In order to obtain peace of mind, I have now resolved to destroy this scale in front of you all, and I swear that I will behave honestly from now on.”
His sons welcomed his decision. “Father, this is the correct way to do things. We all support your decision,” one son said joyfully. So Zhao immediately broke his wicked scale and kept his promise to behave honestly and do good deeds from then on.
However, not long after, Zhao’s family met with misfortune. First, his eldest son died of a sudden disease. Then his second son also died of a mysterious illness, and his widowed wife moved in with another man. Then his third son suddenly fell ill and died not long after. The third son’s wife was pregnant at the time.
Having gone through all these sudden misfortunes, Zhao felt very sad and confused.
“When I was cheating others, I lived a happy life with all my children around me,” he complained. “Now I’m trying my best to be a good person, yet all these misfortunes are happening one after another. It seems that the old Chinese saying ‘good will be rewarded, and evil will be met with retribution’ is completely wrong.”
Zhao’s neighbors felt sorry for him and his family.
One day, Zhao’s daughter-in-law went into labor. However, after three days of labor, the baby still did not come out. Midwives came one after another, yet they were all helpless and did not know what to do.
Zhao became increasingly worried. In the midst of it all, a monk knocked at the door seeking alms. Zhao’s housekeeper tried to send the monk away, but the monk told her that he had special medicine for the family. The monk was immediately invited inside as an honored guest.
“I am a wandering monk. I go where fate takes me,” the monk said to Zhao. Then he showed Zhao the medicine, and Zhao asked the maid to rush the medicine to his daughter-in-law. Several minutes later, the maid reported that his daughter-in-law had given birth to a son after taking the medicine.
Zhao was delighted. He expressed his gratitude to the monk and hosted a large feast in his honor that evening.
While they were having dinner, Zhao asked the monk, “Dear Master, may I trouble you with a question that has confused me for some time?” The monk nodded his head.
With a deep sigh, Zhao told the monk: “I am ashamed to say that I started my business by using a cheating scale to deceive others. I made up my mind to be a good person last year and destroyed that scale. However, soon after I destroyed the scale, I began experiencing misfortune after misfortune.
“I lost three sons in the span of six months, and two of my daughters-in-law have left us. Fortunately my third daughter-in-law gave me this grandson. Why is it that I had a happy family when I was cheating others, yet once I decided to be good, all these misfortunes knocked on our door?”
The monk laughed after hearing Zhao’s story and responded: “Don’t go off into wild flights of fancy. The heavens are actually fair to us. Your eldest son was the reincarnation of that cotton man who died after you cheated him, and your second son was the reincarnation of that herbalist.
“Your third son also came because of all the bad deeds that you accumulated, and all three sons came to this world to ruin you and your family, so that you would starve to death in your old age. However, since you have resolved to do good, the gods have shown sympathy toward you and have recalled your three sons. You were able to escape your fate.”
Upon hearing this, Zhao felt as though he had woken from a dream. He thanked the monk for explaining the situation to him but asked the monk if his grandson had also come to collect more debts from him.
“All your debts were repaid with the latest series of misfortunes,” the monk replied with a smile. “This grandson of yours is going to bring fortune and happiness to your family. He is going to enjoy fame merely because of your decision to do something good for others. This is the reward that you earned for being good.”
Zhao was very satisfied and became more determined to perform good deeds for the rest of his life.
This story supports the old Chinese saying: “If a good family has some tribulations, it may be that they are repaying the karma or debts from their ancestors. Once the debt is repaid, they will enjoy a happy life.”
Source: China Gaze
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Tags: Body & Mind, human rights, Society, Spirituality
On the day the United States celebrates civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday it was actually on Jan. 15, it’s well worth revisiting some of the most famous quotes King—arguably one of the greatest orators of the 20th century—made during his lifetime.
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” — From his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Stockhom, 1964.
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — From a speech in Detroit on June 23, 1963.
“…And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.” — Part of a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — From “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” — From a sermon he delivered in 1956.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” — From his 1963 book, “Strength to Love.”
“We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.” — From “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968.
“The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more that three centuries American Negroes have been frustrated by day and bewilderment by night by unbearable injustice, and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.” — From “Loving Your Enemies” delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Nov. 17, 1957.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” — From “I Have a Dream” delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — From “Strength to Love,” 1963.
Tags: cultivation, quote of the day, Spirituality
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.