Earth Doctor Reese Halter: Protect Our Planet

Earth by FlyingSingerEarth doctor Reese Halter reminds you to protect our planet!

Do you want to see what passion looks like? Dr. Reese Halter is passionate about saving our planet. This video is a dose of reality about what is happening to the earth.

Don’t turn away, just look, listen and support a charity like Sea Shepherds so Eco-warriors like Reese can fight to save the earth.

Follow Earth Doctor Reese Halter at Earth Calling SOS!

Chan Buddhism: The Secret and Sublime

By J James McCauley

By J James McCauley

As the teachings of the Buddha migrated from its birthplace in India, one of its pathways was the Silk Road, the gateway to China. During the first century A.D. Buddhist teachings were translated into Chinese. These teachings were fiercely resisted by the Chinese elite who favored the philosophy of Confucianism, with its emphasis on the cultivation of virtue and the development of moral perfection.

After two centuries of suppression, the teachings of the Buddha finally found expression as a form of Taoism, but it was not so much Buddhism in disguise as the real thing in a slightly different form. Buddhist teachings had become intertwined with the Chinese philosophy of Taoism (pronounced Daoism) which was the religion of the common people.

By the fourth century A. D. a distinctly Chinese form of Buddhism emerged that was harmonized with the ancient teachings of the Taoist sage, Lao Tsu. It became known as Chan Buddhism and it had some similarities to the more widely recognized Japanese variation, Zen Buddhism. Both spiritual philosophies sought solitude in the quest for blissful state of Samadhi and both teachings emphasized the “pure mind” of enlightenment to dispel the worldly “illusions” that cause human beings much suffering in life.

While Indian Buddhism emphasized gradual attainment of enlightenment through discipline, Taoists sought sudden awakening through non-assertion (wu-wei in Chinese) which means little or no interference with cosmic events. Both philosophies treasure Yoga and quiet contemplation but the Taoists are especially inclined toward a love of nature and the congeniality to quote poetry and drink mulled wine. Taoism is a way of living that accepts life as it is without aversion to small pleasures.

Each philosophy borrowed liberally from the other to form a Chinese form of Buddhist practice that was seasoned with a touch of Taoist mysticism. The following excerpt from Beyond the Gods, by English writer John Blofeld demonstrates the unique sensibilities of Taoist thought, which form the basis of Chan Buddhism. He is describing a walk around a mountain hermitage with a monk known as the Dark Valley Recluse:

The hermitage, as I have explained, was situated on a spur of gently undulating ground close to the mountain-face. In front of it lay what might be called a natural garden, that is to say, no attempt had been made to convert the spur into a garden proper and yet the features of this seeming wilderness had beauties too refined to be wholly the work of nature. The rocks protruding from the ground were of such pleasing shapes and so richly garbed in moss and tailing lichens that I soon began to suspect nature had artfully been helped to give of its best.

The gorge where flowed a swift and thunderous torrent was certainly nature’s handiwork and so perfect in itself as to require no improvement, but elsewhere things had an air of having received delicately concealed attention. The trees – mostly pines and cedars – disposed their limbs in ways either charming or amusingly grotesque, and there were dells containing just such a wealth of harmoniously contrasting shapes and colours as one would expect to find in an old and well-kept rockery. Yet one had to look carefully to become aware of a subtle human artistry cunningly disguised.

‘It seems that yesterday I climbed further than I knew, for this is surely heaven,’ I remarked, bringing a gleam of pleasure to the old man’s eyes. ‘Ah, you have noticed our hidden garden,’ he replied. ‘People coming from the cities generally have eyes for the torrent and for that vista of hills stretching beyond – you will agree that they are lovely and you should come here in the evening light when the sun drops below the blue range – but they seldom notice what lies close at hand, never guessing that centuries of loving care have gone into the making of this hidden garden.

Nature, so harmonious in the large, is often careless and untidy in the small. Rocks may occur too near together or too far apart. Trees in their eagerness for what sun and shade they need may overreach themselves, causing a certain lack of harmony and balance. These little oversights can be redressed, but it would not do, I think, to create a palace-style garden on a remote mountainside. All that is needed is a lightly guiding hand. When contemplating a little change, it is fitting first to observe what you wish to alter at different times of day throughout the four seasons of the year, lest by hasty action something precious be lost. Also you need to become a rock or a tree yourself before you can judge how to make a change that will accord with its nature.’

‘Become a tree?’ ‘Do you find that astonishing? If you had much time, I would show you. You just sit before it in sunshine and in cloud, in rain or snow if necessary, and project your mind into it. Slowly you learn how to be at one with it, to sense its rhythm, to know how its branches would dispose themselves under just slightly altered circumstances. Only then can you make a change without doing violence to its treeness. All good gardeners get to know their plants as intimately as their own children. Otherwise how could they be good gardeners?’

‘I see. But what about rocks, mountains, streams? How can one know them like children? They have no life.’ ‘

Do they not?’ exclaimed the old man in real surprise. ‘How strange you should think that! Everything is formed by the sublime Tao. Everything is the Tao. How then can some things have life and others not? To an insect that lives a single day, a human may seem an object immemorial, yet you and I know that human life is short; to us it is rocks and mountains that seem eternally unchanging. But are they so? Are not their comings and goings as dreams in comparison with the innumerable eons between birth of a universe and its ending? And if by life you mean consciousness, how can you tell that rocks are not conscious? Those who know them intimately recognize that they have not only consciousness but moods – gloomy and menacing one day, relaxed and smiling another.’

I did not gainsay this. After all, how do I know that rocks lack consciousness? I have read of English people who believe that flowers are happy and bloom more charmingly when they know they are loved. Why then not rocks? Who has the knowledge to draw such distinctions with authority?

photo by:

It’s Gettin’ Real in the Whole Food’s Parking Lot!

Here’s another funny video from the culture ninjas who brought you the hilarious Yoga Girl video. Fog and Smog  are a collective of directors, writers, producers, editors, composers, musicians, designers, deejays and other creative types from The SF Bay Area and Los Angeles, who pool their talents together to deliver sly, social parodies.

Without further ado, I give you The Whole Foods Parking Lot song.

 

Image By: robnguyen01

Oh So Beautiful Body Type

Almost all of us have a distorted image of our body, often due to the importance our culture places on outward appearance.  Everyday, an onslaught of media images featuring airbrushed models and celebrities, bombards us. Do any of these statements sound familiar?  I’m fat. I’m too skinny. If only I were taller, shorter, had curly hair, straight hair, a smaller nose, bigger muscles, a smaller bottom or longer legs, I’d look better. On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. We demean ourselves for not being “perfect.” Imagine speaking to a child the way you talk to yourself about your own body? It would devastate and squelch a child. Here is some BAD news; it actually does affect you in a similar way. This kind of self criticism causes stress and emotional pain which effects your body and can make improving your health or losing weight even more difficult. Consider this— women and their body parts sell everything from food to cars. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging readers to lose that last twenty pounds. Then they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career.

Why are impossible standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any of the models? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries assure their own growth and profits. And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of the current culture’s model of beauty. All women may not need to lose weight, but they will age, and according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be fixed.

The stakes are huge. On the one hand, women made insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth anywhere between 40 to 100 billion (U.S.) a year. Even worse, this industry subsists on selling temporary weight loss gimics (90 to 95% of dieters regain the lost weight). On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. The American research group Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders, Inc. says that one out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control—including fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting.

So, what’s a girl to do? How about taking a moment to think of all the intelligence, creativity and time you spend on improving, altering and judging your appearance? Who would you be and what could you accomplish if your valuable resources weren’t used this way? Constant emphasis on the external makes us discount the great presence and intelligence that is housed by the body. It makes us forget the magic of our internal rhythms and fail to acknowledge the true beauty of our bodies. The body you have right now is incredible! It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis and it miraculously digests whatever you put inside. Your body is an instrument for expressing creativity, intelligence and love. By focusing on the 1% you don’t like or wish was different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful, unique and delightful.

What would your life be like if you were simply at peace with your body? You may wish to be healthier and stronger, but can you do that out of love and respect for your body instead of the opposite? Can you treat yourself with kindness, limit the negative self-talk and reconnect with your inner wisdom? Take a minute to imagine what that would feel like. It would mean celebrating your body rather than punishing it. It would mean nourishing your body rather than depriving it. It would mean a chance to watch your body flourish when treated with care and respect.

To your Health!                  Collage by Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

 

Carol Takakura is a Health Coach, Nutrition Consultant, Yoga Instructor and Wellness Expert. She works with corporations, schools and private groups, to ensure individuals have better health, nutrition, and  lifestyle tools to lead an energetic, balanced and healthy life.  Carol provides wellness lectures, cooking demos and hands on classes, and health store tours to ensure clients can create easy, healthy meal planning with products they can find in most stores. Known for her Kitchen Coaching, Carol provides in-home lessons for cleaning up and re-stocking pantries to create lots of easy healthy options for everyday use and special occasions.

 

Hey, Yoga Girl!

As yoga grows in the West, we see a creative, crazy and sometimes disturbing integration of ancient spiritual practices and modern, western capitalism. In the case of Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica who promoted Ayn Rand’s selfish philosophy called Objectivism on their bags by asking “Who is John Galt?” (a character in the novel Atlas Shrugged), the combination of East meets West can be sad and disturbing.

But in the case of Fog and Smog Film’s sly, funny music video, Yoga Girl, it’s just fun!


Photo by Corie Howell

Earth Meditation

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. 

Chief Seattle

Earth is a living, breathing biosphere of energy, supporting us as we grow and evolve. We are creatures of magnetism and gravity, inextricably linked to our mother, the earth. We live in extraordinary times where we can actually see the earth from the perspective of outer space, fulfilling what the ancient prophets saw only in dreams. In Black Elk’s great vision, he looked down upon “the whole hoop of the earth.”

“Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all,

and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw;

for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit,

and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.

And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops

that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight,

and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter

all the children of one mother and one father.

And I saw that it was holy.”      Black Elk, 1931

Try meditating on the earth from the perspective of Black Elk, high above the earth and outside of time. This film was created by expedition 28 and 29’s crew onboard the International Space Station using a time lapse sequence of photographs taken with a special low-light 4K-camera from August to October, 2011.

 

Earth Full South Pacific by Bruce Irving AKA FlyingSinger

One Light: The Musical Journey of Jeanne Newhall

I was given a rare opportunity to participate in a Kirtan recording session with musical virtuoso Jeanne Newhall, who was making her first album of ancient Hindu chants entitled Blossom of Transformation. I originally meant to experience the process and interview Jeanne, but our discussion took me to unexpected places as we explored the parallels between traditional Western religious perspectives and Eastern forms of sacred worship such as yoga and Kirtan.

A vocalist and pianist with sixteen jazz, pop and classical albums under her belt, Jeanne Newhall was introduced to the piano at six years old, and made her professional debut before she was sixteen. Classically trained, she’d already mastered six Mozart concertos, by the time she graduated high school and was balancing her love of the masters with her love of that quintessential American art form, R&B.

Musical Journey

So how did a farm girl who grew up in the shadow of the Sierra Estrella Mountains west of Phoenix and who sang in a Methodist choir, end up cutting a Kirtan album? It turns out that Jeanne Newhall’s musical journey is similar to any spiritual journey where we move from the known to the unknown. Jeanne started as all musicians do, studying  her instrument piano with Nadia Reisenberg in NYC, then with Abbey Simon at Indiana University. She immersed herself in wildly creative forms like Jazz, cultivated her voice and became a pro musician. Sixteen albums later, Jeanne Newhall has recorded in multiple genres; pop, R&B, Jazz, classical piano and now Kirtan.

At the same time Jeanne was building a body of work, her interest in Self Realization techniques, Eastern Philosophy and Aryuveda led her to study different forms of yoga such as Ashtanga, Bhakti and eventually Kirtan. The heart-centered, exuberant chant and response form of Kirtan, fit Jeanne’s self-described nature perfectly. “I’m a rebel, an activist for justice and fairness and a person who cries without thinking. I am a heartbeat— a drum. I can still laugh until my stomach hurts.”

Kirtan was a natural evolution in her yoga and her spiritual practice, a natural way to express her inner journey. To many seekers, silence is the ultimate goal, to sit with the breath in the deepening space.  But as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow observed, Music is the universal language of mankind. Music was always Jeanne’s life, from the moment she reached her six-year-old fingers up high enough to tap the keys, so why not worship through music?

When Jeanne began singing Kirtan, she struggled with the symbolism of the Hindu gods. Singing Shantee, Rama and Ram were such foreign concepts. At first she was lost, but the more she understood the philosophy of Kirtan,  the more she realized it isn’t about one right way or superior vs inferior, instead, it was One Light— Yoga and Kirtan are an aspect, a symbol of the sacred, a evolutionary vibration and a way of acceptance, devotion and faith.

Jeanne had to reconcile her upbringing, church and choir and stories of Jesus Christ, who spoke of love with chanting Ram, Ram, Hari Ram.

Jeanne Newhall's Kirtan Album: Blossom of Transformation

How could these two worlds unite?

It took another teacher, to open Jeanne’s heart in a way that transcended time and space and allowed her to find a bridge between the two worlds.

Faith Transmuted

When Jeanne’s mother was days, then hours from passing, her voice was very faint. “Maaa ma ma ma ma” she said in a soft, dreamy sing-speak as her head rolled slowly from left to right on the pillow.  Jeanne felt her mother was talking to someone who was someplace imperceptible, perhaps her own mother, but she could only guess.  Her mother passed later, in peace.

Around a year later, the guru Amma was passing through Los Angeles. Amma is known as “the hugging guru,” who inspires long lines of seekers to touch her energy.  Jeanne went with her husband along with three thousand others seeking to receive a message of hope from the healer.  She waited through the night, talking to others who had come, anticipating what she might experience.  Being raised Christian, she felt a little silly, a little shy.  What was she doing at this type of event?  Something was pulling her. She knew there was a reason for being drawn to Amma. It was just a feeling— a compelling one deep in her gut.

As the night moved along, group after group went to the stage for their hug from Amma. When Jeanne’s  group was finally called to the stage, it was two in the morning. Jeanne was anxious, but reserved as she approached the stage. When it was her turn, she slowly stepped forward and bent low to receive her hug from Amma.  As she received her hug Amma spoke a private phrase in Jeanne’s ear,  “Maaa ma ma ma ma”.

Stunned, Jeanne’s heart melted, filling her with love and her eyes with tears.  Jeanne could not believe what she had heard.  Here was the reason she made the journey.

After that experience, Jeanne’s two paths merged. She understood the old Indian saying; There are many rivers that flow into one ocean.  There was only One Light; music, faith, Christianity, Kirtan, chanting, love, peace, inner quiet, purity, all were one.

As Jeanne began the Kirtan session, I heard it all in her voice. Jeanne’s chants were a combination of traditional Hindu chants but her interpretations were unique, she borrowed elements of Jazz and wove classical elements into the structure. Jeanne’s light and sensitive touch allowed me to withdraw from my body and the external environment and leap to a higher plateau. I forgot about the recording as the resonance of sound reverberated through the room. I thought of what Jeanne said, “Music pulls on you.  You’re an instrument of the sound, it works through me, making the music and harmony glorify the higher power—the mechanics glorify it.” Jeanne’s musical journey had started with creative expression, but turned into a vehicle for expressing the sacred.

 

Uncontacted Tribes: The Last Free People on the Planet?

It’s hard to believe, but indigenous tribes continue to exist on our planet. These tribes have never had contact with the Internet, iPads, mass-produced food, manufactured drugs, rock & roll, rapid transportation, TV and the other myriad wonders and vices of our society. And like many living beings we encounter, their continued existence is in question.

The BBC series Human Planet recently released the first aerial footage of one of these mysterious tribes, living in the Brazilian Rainforest. In this stunning film, shot from 1km away using a stabilized zoom lens in order to minimize the impact on the tribe, we see the red-painted tribes-people curiously aware of the plane, holding staffs and loosely congregating around a main lodge and other buildings.

Little is known about their language or customs and their very existence is an ethical challenge to our plugged in civilization. Does this tribe have a right to live undisturbed? Like the prime directive in the Star Trek Series, should we have a non- interference policy when encountering cultures with less developed technology?

One man fighting to save the tribes is Jose Carlos Meirelles, an official who works for FUNAI, a Brazilian Government Agency that protects the region’s indigenous people. These isolated tribes are under the constant threat posed by illegal logging and mining and tribes-people have been killed by loggers in the past. Cultural contamination is a slower death, but a death all the same. As a consequence, Meirelles has decided to take his fight public, believing the tribe’s continued survival depends on proving and publicizing their existence.

“One image of them has more impact than a thousand reports,” Meirelles says. “There future doesn’t depend on them, it depends on us, our conscience…. they remind us it’s possible to live in a different way. They’re the last free people on the planet.”

Brazil is thought to be home to around 70 isolated tribes, the last free people on earth. Can a civilization with vastly superior technology refrain from exploiting and wiping out another culture? Let’s hope Meirelles plan works so these tribes can continue to exist without interference.

To help this tribe, go to Uncontacted Tribes and sign the petition or donate.