Sunday, November 12, 2006

Real Perspective

When I feel overwhelmed, I like to take a step back and relfect upon just how truly huge this universe is. In such immensity, fragile life is rare and precious. Yes, there are countless billions of worlds that likely support life that is comparable after a fashion to our own. Yet, the gulfs of space quarantine us and better still give us the room to grow and mature until we can take steps into that infinately expansive community.

In light of this immensity, the banal errands, the pending deadlines, and the capricous whim of people just do not seem so daunting or bothersome, but rather something to appreciate, respect, and uphold.

Luke 18:17 "Truly I say to you, Whoever does not put himself under the kingdom of God like a little child, will not come into it at all."

Luke 22:29 "And I will give you a kingdom as my Father has given one to me"

The video below (Click here for the full video with music) is a trip from Earth to the outer edges of the known universe and back again. I made this using a database called Starry Night Pro in 1993 while at the beach on Men's Retreat in St. George Island, Fl.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Trinity and Three Rings

For every action an equal and opposite reaction exists. They hate us, we hate them, they hate us back. We are the victims of mathematics. It seems that even enlightened self-interest can not thwart the inexorable rhythm that tears us apart.

Yet, without hope things will improve and our inheritors will know a world richer than our own, life is pointless and evolution vastly overrated.

In many religions there is a Triune Symbol. Three rings in Siddhartha Gautama's Buddhist faith dating back to the 5th century BC, there are the three interconnected rings representing the Three Jewels or Triratana as shown here. Literally, the Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

Christianity has the Holy Trinity representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Judaism has the Star of David, which is actually representative of two trinities, one for the divine existence, and one for our current extistence. "As above, so below."

Kabbalistically, the Star/Shield of David symbolizes the six directions of space plus the center, under the influence of the description of space found in the Sefer Yetsira: Up, Down, East, West, South, North, and Center. Congruently, under the influence of the Zohar, it represents the Six Sefirot of the Male (Zeir Anpin) united with the Seventh Sefirot of the Female (Nekuva).

This was confirmed by Christ's teachings

Beyond cause and effect, there is a third principal wielded by sentient life - the capacity for self-sacrifice - the conscious ability to override evolution and self-preservation for a cause, a friend, or a loved one.

About 12 years ago, Babylon 5's first season hit the air. On the surface, it appeared to be yet another Trekkie-style show. However, the writer must have done some homework on humans and what makes us great. This scene I have borrowed stayed in my mind since 1994. I ran across it recently. A mere 60 seconds, but it's message indelible and lasting in its truth.

Some of the episodes are now available online for free, incredibly enough!

The scene demonstrates what is best about humans, our diversity, our passion, and what ultimately adds palpable quality to every one's lives on this planet, this fragile spaceship we have been entrusted with, Earth.

Vandana Ti-sarana is often recited by both monks and lay people:

  • Buddham saranam gacchāmi - I go for refuge in the Buddha
  • Dhammam saranam gacchāmi - I go for refuge in the Dharma
  • Sangham saranam gacchāmi - I go for refuge in the Sangha

The Mahayana Chinese/Japanese version differs only slightly from the Theravada:

  • 自皈依佛,當願眾生,體解大道,發無上心。
I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings
to understand the great way and make the greatest vow.

  • 自皈依法,當願眾生,深入經藏,智慧如海。
I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings
to deeply delve into the Sutra Pitaka, gaining an ocean of knowledge.

  • 自皈依僧,當願眾生,統理大眾,一切無礙。
I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings
to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

BioFuel Boom- death knell for Orangutans

Cross posted from BOS UK and their friends saving the Orangutans of Indonesia

They are disappearing at a rate of 5000 per year, representing 10% of the total population.

Sky World News - Orangutans & Palm Oil

The Global Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is making great efforts to have the industry demonstrate responsible action. Please encourage your grocer to make sure their products contain oils from GRSPO members.

Here are some of the Palm Oil global commodity brokers and industry constituents. Please encourage them to procure or produce the oil ONLY from plantations that have not been built upon "pristine forest".

Conservation campaigners advise against boycotting Palm Oil. 4.5 million people's livelihoods depend on the market. However, putting a stop to the deforestation would stabilize the Palm Oil market prices, and save the Orangutans, win win.

Univanich Palm Oil Public Company - Thailand producer of crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel oil (PKO). Company profile and image library, contact and product details.

Sternchemie GmbH & Co. KG - German supplier of palm oil and lecithin specialities from genetically-unmodified sources.

RNJ Alliance Sdn Bhd
- Brokers of refined palm oil products. Malaysia.

PT Intiboga Sejahtera - Major Indonesian producer of palm oil cooking oils, margarine, and shortening.

Orangutans - The Grim Facts

Forests - The Palm Oil Threat

Kerry ridiculous stements and Rover wagging the tail

Having personally met Kerry and also having had a few beers with John Edwards' brother in Asheville, I have a reasonably good idea of who these two guys are. They are very different people. Kerry is an elitist and a man full of hubris. Edwards, if you can forgive him for being a lawyer, is a self-made person who genuinely cares about the "good fight" referred to by Paul's epistles.

Though I am neither a Republican or a Democrat, it is interesting to see both sides. I simply a fiscally conservative citizen who wants smaller government, a truly self-responsible public, and a return to constitutional values our forefathers envisioned.

This claptrap about Kerry seems to be the usual garbage our media chooses to focus on. Instead of the plight of America's schools with tuition to colleges tripling since 2000, we focus on an idiotic and arrogant statement by a Senator who can't even beat Bush, one of the worst presidents our country has seen since the 1920's. Instead of focusing on the spiraling cost of Iraq, and the lack of funding in Afghanistan where the actual terrorists who bombed us are hiding, they quote a real putz and set up endless websites about a putz's statements. Instead of banging on how our own democratic process becomes more and more broken each time the majority party redraws voting districts, they trump a story that angers the troops and their families with the clear intent to distract them one week before a an important election event.

Optimistically, I see all of this as symptomatic of an irresponsible media that has strayed very far from what is honorable and dutiful in journalism. I see the media owned by powerful interests who have their own agenda that conveniently plays both sides of the fence putting people like Anne Coulter into the spotlight when she is such a stuffed shirt and a mouth piece. She gets well paid for her services, a very old profession that.

Of course the opposition party is going to seize upon this ridiculous and incredible gaff. Why focus on real issues that affect everyone when you can focus on one that will tick people off and sell more ads?

Yes, we need to focus on getting rid of the immoral and hypocritical Rover machine. It detracts from the true Republican party. Equally, we also need to oust the leadership of the DNC. Any candidate who could NOT beat the Republicans this time around are suffering from poor leadership and lack of focus. Abramoff, a failed war effort that is not even a declared war, terrorism amok around the globe, poor education, partisan infighting, crappy jobs being counted as employment, a GDP driven by corporate earnings and not individual earnings from real jobs and production, teachers gagged from doing their jobs beyond prepping kids for assessment tests, a completely insane medical system that advertises medications to patients who have no business self-medicating, an entire city economically knocked off the map after a storm with no hope in site, and our veterans getting quietly tucked away out of the public eye as per usual since Vietnam... all of this, and we focus on the statements of an aristocratic idiot who is out of touch and out of favor.

I propose a call to action. More than any of these, since we have a vacuum in the middle where MOST American's minds and hearts reside, we should fill the space with multiple NEW POLITICAL PARTIES that represent our views as citizens, whatever these may be. Organize among yourselves and create a real democracy. Oust these two parties if they do not suit you. Put them back in the box where they belong and can not harm our country any further. They are machines and do not represent most of us. Restore democracy at home.

Bryan Grant - Atlanta