Thursday, January 31, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
"Blooming Writer: A ruthlessly eclectic cottage garden of thoughts, tips and occasional tantrums on gardening" The title itself gives a good idea about what to expect from the blog. The blogger is Jodi DeLong, Canning, Nova Scotia, Canada, who is a freelance writer and very compulsive gardener in Nova Scotia.
Her first book, The Atlantic Gardener's Greenbook was published in 2005 by Saltscapes Publishing. She says: "My three bad habits are cats, books and plants; this is a perfect place to frolic and share thoughts about these passions. I hope you enjoy and feel welcome."
Well, I share at least one bad habit with her: BOOKS. Further, I also consider myself as a would-be writer, though not a blooming writer. Colourful and beautiful flowers make me happy. So I enjoyed visiting the blog and reading her posts, with some nice photographs. The flowers and the birds are beautiful. It is one of the best blogs I have seen. I, as one who finds the winter of my place (never less than 23 deg) cold, am really plain curious how places like Nova Scotia would be and how people manage to live there.
Congratulations Ms Jodi DeLong!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
On January 30, we remember the anniversary of Gandhiji’s violent death.
Violence. How we fear it. How we hope that it will not touch or those we love. But it does so often. The violence we face may not be brutal or physical; It may not be on our streets; or with bombs and guns; but nevertheless it is there. We find it lurking in our everyday relationships, attitudes to each other, words, thoughts, looks and feelings.
For centuries men mostly, and those in authority, marginalized the idea of non-violence as it did not help them prosper or succeed in getting what they wanted as much as violence and fear did. Then came people like Gandhiji, Martin Luther, Vaclav Havel and others who made non-violence a political weapon and showed those who were captive to violence and oppression, its power.
Since then, people all over the world have discovered the power of non-violence as a political weapon. But the non-violent life is more than just a political tactic. It is a way of life for every single person and that is both challenging and meaningful. The idea of non-violence is revolutionary and feared by those who cling to power, because it is an idea that can completely change the nature of society, and thus is a grave threat to the established order.
Non-violence or ahimsa living, is not just for activists; it is for us ordinary people – we all need to transform our minds and hearts to embody non-violence. This is a huge challenge because our society surrounds us with violence – in the media, in our workplaces, relationships and way of life. So, unless we train ourselves to consciously unlearn all the habits of violence we use, our first response to a crisis is violence.
We need to practise the art of “ahimsa living” every day. We need to store within ourselves a repertoire of non-violent actions, thoughts and words, so that when we do face crises, we can draw upon these practical, ethical, and spiritual ahimsa resources.
Could you make a commitment to an ahimsa way of life for a day or week? Which areas of your life would you have to specially target to live this way?
- “Living without Violence” by Usha Jesudasan, Young World, Supplement to The Hindu, January 25, 2008
My grateful thanks to Ms Usha Jesudasan for the wonderful article and to The Hindu for publishing it.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
1. It could make you thinner
Research in the USA has found that the less sleep you get, the higher your body mass index tends to be. An English study may have the explanation: People who sleep five hour a night were found to have 15% more ghrelin (a hormone that boosts hunger) in their bodies and 15% less leptin (which suppresses it) than those sleeping eight hours.
2. It could boost your memory
Sleep plays a key role in making new memories stick in the brain. A Harvard experiment showed that subjects taught complex finger movements like a piano scale recalled them much better after 12 hours’ sleep than 12 hours’ wakefulness. Another study showed that working into the night slowed thinking skills, both at the time and during the next day.
3. It can fight colds, ulcers, even cancer
Good sleep boosts the immune system. A study of elderly people suffering depression found that those with disturbed sleep had fewer disease-fighting cells in their blood. Moreover, melatonin, produced when you sleep, is a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Night-shift workers, whose wake/sleep rhythms are disturbed, may have up to 70 times greater risk of breast cancer. It also seems the chemical your body makes to repair damage to the stomach lining is secreted during sleep: going without could raise your risk of ulcers.
4. It can slow down aging
Persistent sleep debt has been shown to affect carbohydrate metabolism and hormone function in a way that may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders. In fact a large-scale study concluded that people who sleep 6-7 hours a night lived longer than those sleeping less than 4-5 hours.
5. It could keep you on the straight and narrow
If you are a child, that is. The depression and low self-esteem often associated with just being a teenager actually correlate with sleep shortage. And young kids who sleep poorly are more than twice as likely to take to drink and drugs in adolescence.
Courtesy: RD Health, Reader’s Digest, January 2006, p.162
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Love vs Addiction
Don’t confuse a genuine love of work with an addiction. Work addicts suffer withdrawal symptoms if detached from their job and find that work alone defines and controls their self-esteem, public image and well-being.
Family vs Work
Workaholics are detached from the emotional concerns of the rest of the family. While critical of every detail of housekeeping, they are reluctant to help with chores, because it takes them away from their “real” work.
Workaholics are often stressed out plodders, perpetually swamped in paperwork and routine chores. They are sitting candidates for heart disease and other physical and psychological problems.
If your organization forces you to be a workaholic, get out while you can. Return to the hobbies of your youth. Renew old friendships and make new ones. Join a group or club that shares your interests.
If you equate relaxation with idleness, a drastic change of pace will be hard at first. Ease yourself into a new lifestyle. Slow everything down. Take up something that does not immediately seem productive, like meditating or bird-watching.
Courtesy: Reader’s Digest, Feb.2006, p.175
Monday, January 21, 2008
* 12% of Scientists in America are Indians.
* 36% of NASA Employees are Indians.
* 34% of Microsoft employees are Indians.
* 28% of IBM employees are Indians.
* 13% of Xerox employees are Indians.
Courtesy: 'Yuva Bharati', English monthly from Chennai, July 2001
….Today, medical advances have allowed doctors to resuscitate people who in earlier times would have been irretrievably dead. In effect, medical intervention has pushed back what we call death….Nobody anticipated the number of patients who would come back with ….tales of out-of-body experience, travels down tunnels and encounters with angels or deceased loved ones. This phenomenon has labelled ‘near-death experience’ (NDE).
At first, all doctors dismissed such reports. The conventional medical explanation was hallucination, brought on by changes in the dying brain. Yet there was a problem with this interpretation. Such hallucinations could only occur if the brain maintained some function. One flat lined, the brain would be roughly analogous to a computer with its power source unplugged and its circuits detached. It could not hallucinate; it could not do anything at all.
That apparent paradox – that perceptions occur during NDEs when there is no functioning brain through which to perceive them – has scientists, theologians and ordinary folks groping for answers.
Such experiences should simply not happen if currently accepted scientific theories about life, death and consciousness are accurate. The NDE, some argue, should move science to make room for the possibility of a soul.
While most medical researchers would not be caught dead uttering the word soul, some find the idea that NDEs are triggered by a failing brain to be inadequate. They speculate that NDEs may be evidence, not of an afterlife, but something as stunning: CONSCIOUSNESS DOES NOT SOLEY RESIDE IN THE BRAIN.
In a study published in December 2001 in the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel recounts the NDE of a clinically-dead, 44-year old cardiac arrest victim. He was rushed by ambulance to a hospital where doctors restarted his heart with defibrillators. A nurse removed the man’s dentures so a breathing could be inserted in his throat. Once stable, the man was moved to intensive care.
A week later the man saw the nurse who had removed his false teeth and recognized her – though during their only prior encounter, his condition had ranged from coma to clinical death.
“You took my dentures out of my mouth,” he told the nurse, and went on to accurately describe other details he claimed his disembodied self had viewed.
In an attempt to the gauge the frequency of NDEs, van Lommel and his fellow researchers interviewed 343 others who had suffered cardiac arrest and survived. “18% have a story of a very clear consciousness,” van Lommel says. These patients described everything from a general feeling of peace to full-fledged NDEs.
A study by British researchers published in the journal, Resuscitation, found that 11% had memory recall of the unconscious period. 6% of those resuscitated after cardiac arrest reported NDEs. Both van Lommel and the British researchers believe that these findings suggest consciousness could exist in the absence of a functioning brain. “You can compare the brain to a TV set,” says van Lommel. “The TV program is not in your TV set.”
So where is consciousness? Is it in every cell of the body?
“I think so,” says van Lommel. “We know that each day, 50 billion cells die.” He points out that intensive cell turnover means that, eventually, almost all the cells that make up “me” or “you” are new. And yet we don’t perceive ourselves as being any different from what we always were.
To van Lommel, it follows that “there must be a kind of communication between all your cells”. In other words, all your cells – not just brain cells, but trillions of others in muscle, skeleton, gut, skin and blood – “talk” to one another in a kind of network that keeps our experience of the consciousness going seamlessly even as billions of cell die and billions of other are produced. If that is so, then those cells still alive when someone is declared brain-dead may perceive events that are otherwise inexplicable.
That hypothesis may lead us away from the interpretation of NDEs as evidence of an afterlife. But it opens up fascinating horizons and a Pandora’s box of its own.
What does it mean if the mind persists after the brain is dead? Should we, for instance, rethink the harvesting of organs for transplant from the “brain-dead”? The NDEs force us to re-examine questions we thought we had the answers to: What is death? Where is consciousness? And can science find the soul?
Excerpts from “Life after Death: The Scientific case for the human soul” by Anita Bartholomew, Reader’s Digest, October 200
Letter to the Editor, Reader’s Digest, (October 2003) from D.K.Vasudevan, via email
(2) Poverty remains our greatest problem. Economist Amartya Sen, too, describes the problem of poverty as one of “entitlement of access rather than the scarcity of good.” Government must solve this menace instead of ignoring the plight of its needy citizens.
Letter to the Editor, Reader’s Digest, (October 2003) from Shadaan Alam, Aligarh
The Sundari species, from which the name was derived, are dying of a disease called “top-dying, that has intensified following the cyclone.” The Sunderbans, 400 km southwest of Dhaka, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Cyclone Sidr struck the coast on November 15 with winds of 250 kmph. It killed around 3,500 people, made millions homeless and destroyed a large part of the Sunderbans. At least 60 per cent of the 6,000 sq.km. mangrove swamps that are home to more than 400 Royal Bengal tigers was devastated by the cyclone.
Top-dying was already endemic among Sundari, but the disease has spread and intensified since the cyclone, threatening the existence of the forest, a forest official said. - Reuters
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
To this Arthur Ashe replied "The world over 5 crore children start playing tennis, 50 lakh learn to play tennis, 5 lakh learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach , 50 reach the grand slam Wimbledon, 4 to the semifinals, 2 to the finals. When I was holding a cup, I never asked GOD "Why me?" And today in pain I should not be asking GOD, "Why me?"
Happiness keeps u sweet.
Trials keep u strong.
Sorrow keeps u human.
Failure keeps u humble.
Success keeps u glowing.
But only God keeps u going!!!!
With grateful thanks to:
Mr.Chetan Hegde M
Librarian, Amrita School of Arts & Sciences,
AVVP Mysore campus,
#114, 7th cross, Bogadi 2nd stage,
Mysore - 570026
"As Long As I Live, So Long Do I Learn"
I wonder if we can instill such values in the younger generation today in a world ruled by materialism, hypocrisy and snobbishness.
Letter to the Editor, Reader’s Digest from Veena Bashani, via e-mail - Letters from Readers, Reader’s Digest, February 2006
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 14, 2008 (Newscape)
Friday, January 11, 2008
…. The lack of a value system, self-respect and decency is what was apparent during New Year celebrations this year. Uprooting road signs, trashing police booths, driving around drunkenly and generally creating mayhem, wanton destruction of public property – Behaviour like this does not “just happen”. It is programmed to happen because personal integrity is not given as much importance as , say, academic achievement; because children have too few role-models outside cinema and television; because the law is too lazy to track down the vandals; and, above all, because the disapproval of society is not expressed loudly and clearly.
On the first day of 2008, the only people who were not thoroughly disgusted with these graphic pictures of wanton destruction were probably those same youth. They may have been pleased to have made it to the front pages!
Why is it that violence and destruction are the chosen ways to express a whole range of emotions for some youngsters? When a popular political leader dies, they break windows; when they are protesting a new rule, they burn buses and break into shops; and when they celebrate, they break whatever comes to hand. And every time, they brazenly break the rules!
What is wrong?
There may be a temptation on the part of some, even the police, to let this New Year eve vandalism go as “harmless fun”. This temptation must be resisted, because such behaviour is neither harmless nor fun.
There are three major things wrong with this behaviour.
One, they equated ‘celebration’ with destruction and dangerous behaviour.
Two, they did not care who saw them and they did not fear punishment.
Three, they did not regret their actions even in the clear sober light of the following day.
The first shows lack of a good value system; the second shows lack of self-respect and accountability; the third shows lack of decency and a willingness to change.
These young men have probably done this sort of thing before, and will probably do it again. There are others like them, many others, who will be encouraged to join in, if society or the law-enforcers display indulgence and apathy. Just like a few discordant notes can ruin the music of an orchestra, elements like these debase society. When these things happen often enough, we all get “used” to them, and after a while we don’t even stop to think about it. It becomes part of the “scene”, part of society as we know it.
Mindless vandalism masquerading as “fun” is every bit as a dangerous to society as major crimes… in fact, more so, because they sneak in “under the radar” as it were, and eat away at public standards of decency.
- From the article, “Breaking in the New Year?” by Malini Seshadri in the ‘Young World’, The Hindu, January 11, 2008 (My grateful thanks to Ms Malini Seshadri for this lucid, analytical, thought-provoking and wonderful article)
Monday, January 07, 2008
We have bigger houses but nuclear families,
We have more degrees but less sense,
More experts but less solutions,
More medicines but less wellness,
We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values,
We have learned how to make a living but not a life,
We have added years to life, not life to years,
We have conquered outer space but not inner space.
We are always getting ready to live but never living. The above paradox is mainly due to the fact that in an uncertain and chaotic world it appears that for many people value are dead.
How to get over the situation? Swamiji’s (Swami Vivekananda) teachings will guide us as he integrated Religion and Karma.
Each soul is potentially divine. Religion is the manifestation of Divinity already in man. The best karma is service to humanity. Throw away everything, even your own salvation to help others. The nation is sinking as the curse of the unnumbered millions is on our heads.
Sage Veda Vyasa was given a unique assignment. He was asked to study all the philosophies and spiritual literature and sum it up in short. After intense study with the help of his yogic power, he issued a one-liner: The act of greatest merit is to help others and the greatest act of sin is to cause intentional pain to others. Therefore, the first principle that we have to remember is that devotion to duty is the highest form of worship to God and the most sacred duty is service to mankind.
The second important aspect to remember is that there is ocean of infinite powers and blessedness within you. Swamiji exhorted, ‘Do you know how much energy, how many powers, how many forces are still lurking behind that frame of yours? What scientist has known all that is in man? Millions of years have passed since man first came here, yet only an infinitesimal part of his power has been manifested’.
The third aspect to remember is the great need for building character. Swamiji said, “the basis of all systems, social or political, rests on the goodness of man. No parliament enacts this or that but because its men are great and good.” Swamiji’s hope for the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, obedient, renouncing all for the service of others.
The fourth aspect is national reconstruction. Swamiji’s dream of the future of our country was an India, spiritually united, economically strong, socially stable and imbued with ethical passion. India has to become Jagatguru again.
All this depends on how we live and how we act. There has never been nor will ever be a gift greater than the gift of life. Life is likened to a bridge between birth and death. We have got this life to become perfect and to go back to our real abode and get liberation from birth. But moksha is not freedom from action but freedom in action. We have to keep our face always towards the sunshine and the shadow will fall behind. One is a sad and unproductive person when he sees difficulties in every opportunity. But he is successful and creative only when he sees opportunities in every difficulty. Let not the seeds in the grape spoil the enjoyment, spit them out one-by-one.
Courtesy: Yuva Bharati (Monthly), January 2008 - Published by Vivekananda Kendra, Chennai
Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come back to you – but do not think of that now. It will come back multiplied a thousand fold – but the attention must not be on that. Yet have the power to give: give, and there it ends. Learn that the whole of life is giving, that nature will force you to give. You come into life to accumulate. With clenched hands, you want to take. But nature puts a hand on your throat and makes your hands open. Whether you will it or not, you have to give. The moment you say, ‘I will not,’ the blow comes; you are hurt. None is there but you will be compelled, in the long run, to give up everything. And the more one struggles against this law, the more miserable one feels. It is because we dare not give, because we are not resigned enough to accede to this grand demand of nature, that we are miserable. The forest is gone, but we get heat in return. The sun is taking up water from the ocean, to return it in showers. You are machine for taking and giving; you take, in order to give. Ask, therefore, nothing in return; but the more you give, the more will come to you. The quicker you can empty the air out of this room, the quicker it will be filled up by the external air; and if you close all the doors and every aperture, that which is within will remain, but that which is outside will never come in, and that which is within will stagnate, degenerate, and become poisoned. A river is continually emptying itself into the ocean and is continually filling up again. Bar not the exit into the ocean. The moment you do that, death seizes you. (Swami Vivekananda)
Courtesy: ‘World Teachers on Education’ edited by T.S.Avinashilingam anmd K.Swaminathan. Published by Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore-641020
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Friday, January 04, 2008
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Modern agriculture and industry require increasing quantities of water. New dams and reservoirs are unlikely to provide these because the environmental and social dislocations they cause make them counterproductive. The only solution to the looming crisis is to devise ways of conserving water, avoiding pollution, and stopping wasteful usage. There is not even a beginning yet towards such urgent measures.
Courtesy: India 1000 to 2000 : A Millennium Book of Reference, Express Publications (Madurai) Ltd