Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating:
Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan
religious sect, has been residing in a freezer
in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead
and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges
that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking
Your parent dies. You hurt. You weep. You mourn. You do and say the necessary things even as your daemon’s disciplined askesis has you (against your will) coldly taking notes on what the emotion feels like, how others around you react to the death, what the corpse of your parent looks like, how you feel while looking down at it, what voids there are in that feeling, what pretenses, what posturings
. It's all part of finding your daemon that dwells perpetually in the Condition of Fire
. Other entries in Dan Simmons'
series On Writing Well
Crazy Horse’s actual quote translates into English follows:
“To day is a good day to die for all the things of my life are present." [more inside]
Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? [Adam] Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton....
Grant might not seem so different from any number of accessible and devoted professors on any number of campuses, and yet when you witness over time the sheer volume of Grant’s commitments, and the way in which he is able to follow through on all of them, you start to sense that something profoundly different is at work. Helpfulness is Grant’s credo.... For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. In some sense, he has built a career in professional motivation by trying to unpack the puzzle of his own success. He has always helped; he has always been productive. How, he has wondered for most of his professional life, does the interplay of those two factors work for everyone else?
Over a thousand monks and laymen are revered in Tibetan Buddhism as the incarnations of past teachers who convey enlightenment to their followers from one lifetime to the next. Some of the most respected are known by the honorific "rinpoche." For eight centuries, rinpoches were traditionally identified by other monks and then locked inside monasteries ringed by mountains, far from worldly distractions. Their reincarnation lineages were easily tracked across successive lives. Then the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and drove the religion's adherents into exile. Now, the younger rinpoches of the Tibetan diaspora are being exposed to all of the twenty-first century’s dazzling temptations. So, even as Tibetan Buddhism is gaining more followers around the world, an increasing number of rinpoches are abandoning their monastic vows. Reincarnation in Exile. [more inside]
"At PSFK Conference NYC, Vikram Gandhi spoke
about his latest movie Kumaré - The True Story of A False Prophet
. While he was born in New Jersey, the film director spoke about how he had been noticing how the Indian-heritage culture he had experienced as he grew up, was being used by Americans and other Westerners to help solve their emotional and spiritual issues. To explore this idea further he dressed up as a guru, created a backstory with YouTube video and website, spoke like his grandmother and recruited followers in Arizona. What's unique is that throughout the film is that he tells everyone he was an illusion and asks his followers to look in a mirror to solve their own problems." [more inside]
Study shows those who think analytically are less likely to be religious
: Why are some people more religious than others? It may come down to whether they rely more heavily on an analytical or intuitive thinking process, at least according to a new study [abstract; supplementary materials] performed at the University of British Columbia and published in the journal “Science.” [more inside]
Both an ingeniously choreographed crime film and a moral drama influenced by Dostoyevsky’s
Crime and Punishment,
Pickpocket marks the apotheosis of Bresson's stripped-down style. There’s little or no psychological realism or conventional drama at work in Martin La Salle’s portrayal of a master thief who plies his trade at the Gare de Lyon and easily outwits the cops who seek to ensnare him. See it once to appreciate the spare elegance of the pickpocketing scenes, and then a second time to appreciate how subtly Bresson accomplishes the story of a man’s self-willed corruption, his liberation through imprisonment and his redemption through love, all in less than 80 minutes.*
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.
"Frequencies is an experiment. The experiment is simple: Ask scholars, writers, and artists what they think of when they think of the word spirituality.
So began a project that's now 71 entries strong. Every weekday, Frequencies features scholars and artists on such topics as Burning Man
, Philip K. Dick
, companion animals
, and Dr. Oz
. [more inside]
“Life is fulfilling when you are rooted in the essential Beingness of ‘I Am.’ . . . Then you bring that state of consciousness—that spacious state of consciousness—you bring that into your interactions with other people of great importance. It’s only then that you will stop treating other people as possible sources of fulfillment or as a threat.” —Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, on his June 26 live meditation broadcast
Currently making the rounds. A qualitative study
in Sociology of Religion
looks at "spiritual atheists" in science. A call for Humanist Chaplains
in the U.S. armed forces. And The Freedom From Religion Foundation becomes certified to perform weddings in Tulsa.
Foucault in Iran: Revolution, Entropy and Equality
By way of introduction to the Wu Ming Foundation
) re-vamped blog
, one of their more substantive essays re-assessing Foucault's notorious
enthusiasm for the Iranian revolution.
Animals as spiritual, and the role of animals in spirituality. "Some religious leaders welcome pets to worship services, memorialize them at death and discuss them as spiritual beings without distinction from humanity"
... "Factory farming, green living among topics sparking discussion." [more inside]
Science vs. Religion:
a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think
by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study
of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views.
Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry
's Point of Inquiry podcast
. Also, here's a webcast
from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]
Does John of God really heal the sick? Or is it just carnival tricks?
John of God aka João Teixeira de Faria
is a farmer who has been healing people close to his ranch in Brazil for close to 50 years by chanelling the energy of medical spirits. Sometimes he uses visible surgery
and sometimes he uses invisible surgery.
, one of the foremost American theologians of the twentieth century, recently retired from Harvard, where he held the oldest tenured professorship in the nation. You've seen him discussed here before
for more bovine pursuits. But more importantly, he has argued that atheism is a passing fad
; his new book contends it emerges in response to factors that will change the face of faith in the coming generation
. Why should you care about an old theologian's last hurrah? His prior predictions have been right
An American Sadhu
- A seeking of holiness, resulting in disillusionment and abandonment. A very good read about one man's experience meeting a guru and his disciple, and ultimately coming full circle to "you get the guru you deserve".
The Global Oneness Project
is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness
can be lived in our increasingly complex world. They travel the globe gathering stories from creative
people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other
and our shared world. [more inside]
is a global project for people around the world to share their innermost hopes - and fears - through prayer. Some photos NSFW.
Esalen: Where "California" Bubbled Up (one photo mildly NSFW) For many others in America and around the world, Esalen stands more vaguely for that metaphorical point where “East meets West” and is transformed into something uniquely and mystically American or New Agey. And for a great many others yet, Esalen is simply that notorious bagno-bordello where people had sex and got high throughout the 1960s and 1970s before coming home talking psychobabble and dangling crystals. In short, Esalen is in every way, even geologically, California at its most extreme. It is its caricature, as well as its noblest expression.
. Behold the Eighth Wonder of the World
(according to the Italian government). [Via Boing Boing.] [more inside]
Supreme Master TV.
As advertised on the very back page of this week's Economist Newspaper. It's great when spiritual leaders just come right out and say it
. Check out the awesome paintings.
Searching for God in the Brain.
"Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith." [Via MindHacks, which points out a few niggling omissions in the article.]
Love on Campus: Why We Should Encourage an Eroticism (of the Mind) Between Professor and Student.
Yale English professor William Deresiewicz
argues that the newly-emerged stereotype of professors as "pompous, lecherous, alcoholic failures" is in the main due to our culture's fear of and inability to understand the true intimacy between professor and student: that of the mind. Cf. controversial Hindu teacher-student relationships
, the same in Christianity
, or merely observe Oscar Wilde
: "I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself."
The Spy of the Heart
- The story of an American's exploration of Islamic spirituality within the turmoil of Afghanistan. Full book (PDF)
available free onsite.
The Hostile New Age Takeover of Yoga
]. Standard "omg commoditization" rant, but has a delectable anecdote wherein someone mistakes clingy navel-gazing for reflection. ("What part of no
don't you understand?" his note said. "I never want to hear from you again.")
Yoga Action Squad!
Episode 1: Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Vibrations
--- The Yoga Action Squad
, an elite team of yogis and yoginis from Santa Monica, spring into action to stop the very negative Dr. Bad Vibes and his overpaid bitchy assistant, Lethargo.
"All over Orlando you see forces at work that are changing America from Fairbanks to Little Rock. This, truly, is a 21st-century paradigm: It is growth built on consumption, not production; a society founded not on natural resources, but upon the dissipation of capital accumulated elsewhere; a place of infinite possibilities, somehow held together, to the extent it is held together at all, by a shared recognition of highway signs, brand names, TV shows, and personalities, rather than any shared history. Nowhere else is the juxtaposition of what America actually is and the conventional idea of what America should be more vivid and revealing."
"Welcome to the theme-park nation." [more inside]
I Love You Kenisha.
My dear sweet Kenisha,
If you find this page, please forgive me for my failure to be a the kind of leader in our marriage and our home that God has called me to be.
When ever you decide to come home, I'll be here waiting for you. If I'm 100 years old, and on my death bed, and you haven't come back yet, I'll still be waiting for you!!! I love you with all my heart!!!
From organically-farming Zen centers
to celebrity-cultivating Scientology centresTM
, California is a seedbed of the most earnest (and most frivolous or worse
) branches of spiritual inquiry. What's in the water in the Golden State that has made it The Visionary State
? In an interview
with editor Geoff Manaugh of the excellent BLDGBLOG
, author Erik Davis
-- whose published passions have ranged from an analysis of Philip K. Dick's
" to erudite musings on Led Zeppelin's fourth album
to an ode to the joys of being a teenage bongeur
-- talks about the formerly chic devil-worshipper Anton LaVey, Beat Zen, Aldous Huxley, the Watts Towers, and beyond, with great photos
by Michael Rauner, who collaborated with Davis on the new book
The Angels of the Hours
offer us the opportunity to direct our lives from within,not being swept along by the demands of the clock.By living in the real rhythms of the day we become more real...(real audio) .
There is nothing flaky about this. There is nothing New Age about this. These people are practical. They love the Earth, and they want to live their values
What the hell is a Cultural Creative
? According to this book
, there are already 50 million Cultural Creativists in the US, many of whom may not know it yet. Are you one
But is this really a social movement
, or just another manufactured demographic marketing term
, like "metrosexual
Could CC give the left a language with which to discuss spirituality
or is this all just hype?
Queen of Suffering
: A Spiritual History of Korea, by Ham Sok Hon
We've heard of intelligence and emotional intelligence, but what about spiritual intelligence? Gary Zukav
is spiritually brilliant
. He frequently appears on Oprah, from which I assume (accepting all implicit risks) that his audience consists largely of women. Which is too bad, because men have quite a lot to learn from this man as well, and it would do a world of good (being, unjustly, a man's world) if every man did.