Rumi's Gift

You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You. 
Nothing seemed right. What's the point of bringing gold 
to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean. Everything I came 
up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It's no good 
giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. 
So- I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and 
remember me.


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This is Your Brain on Religion at NPR

NPR Talk of the Nation
Principles of Neurotheology By Andrew B. Newberg

For thousands of years, religion has posed some unanswerable questions: Who are we?  What's the meaning of life? What does it mean to be religious?........
Dr. NEWBERG: Well, for a lot of the work that I've been doing over the past two decades has been to utilize brain-imaging studies and to evaluate what's happening in people's brains when they are deep in a spiritual practice, like meditation or prayer.
These are techniques that we've never had before, up until the last 15 or 20 years. And what we can do is actually scan the brain when somebody is in meditation, is in prayer, is in a practice like speaking in tongues or some other type of ecstatic state, and actually compare what's going on in their brain at that point to what is happening in their brain when they're just at rest or perhaps when they're doing some other kind of task, maybe a mathematics task or a relaxation task.
And what we are able to find are the changes in the activity in different parts of the brain, how the different parts of the brain turn on or turn off, depending on the kind of practice and depending on the kind of experiences that they have.
So this has really given us a remarkable window into what it means for people to be religious or spiritual or to do these kinds of practices...........................
And we found some very significant and profound changes in their brain just at rest, particularly in the areas of the brain that help us to focus our mind and to focus our attention.
And in fact, many of the people related to us just subjectively that they felt that they were thinking clearer and that they were able to remember things better. And we had the scans to show us that we actually had changes in their brain in those areas that support those kinds of functions, and we also tested their memory and showed that they had improvements of about 10 or 15 percent in several different memory tasks.
And this is only after eight weeks at 12 minutes a day. So you can imagine what happens in people who are deeply religious and spiritual who are doing these practices for maybe hours a day for years and years and years........listen to the entire 'Neurotheology: This Is Your Brain On Religion' interview at NPR 

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Seuss Wisdom

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, 
and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, 
we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness 
and call it love.

Dr Seuss

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Are Freedom and Security Phantom Experiences?

The basics teachings of Buddha
are about understanding what we are, who we are, why we are. 

When we begin to realize what we are, who we are, why we are, 
then we begin to realize what we are not, who we are not,
 why we are not.

 We begin to realize that we don’t have basic, substantial, solid, fundamental ground that we can exert anymore.

 We begin to realize that our ideas of security and our concept of freedom have been purely phantom experiences

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Zocalo Panel on the Life of Christopher Isherwood

Thursday December 9, 2010
The Hammer Museum

British writer Christopher Isherwood arrived in Los Angeles after a long, slow bus ride from New York, where he had emigrated with his friend W.H. Auden. After unforgettably chronicling the underworld of interwar Berlin, Isherwood settled into L.A. and its circle of European émigrés, writers, painters, and spiritual seekers - Aldous Huxley, Truman Capote, David Hockney, and Don Bachardy, who would become Isherwood's longtime partner after a chance meeting on Valentine's Day on the beach. Isherwood wrote for Hollywood - and unlike so many novelists, enjoyed it - translated Hindu scripture, hung out at Musso and Frank's, and captured L.A. in some of his most acclaimed works.......more from Zocalo Public Square
The Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
Parking is available under the museum. There is a $3 flat rate after 6:00 p.m.

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Feeling a Little Overstimulated?

Can we put normal back into our lives?
Harvard Gazette:                                                                                                                       Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department  says ‘supernormal stimuli’ drive many unnatural urges.
"Humans living in modern society are something like those lab animals, a Harvard psychology professor says. Like them, our innate instincts are overstimulated by unnatural products, as well as by advertising and images. And, like them, we respond almost unconsciously: reaching for more food, Web-surfing for porn, dumping time and money on “cute” toys, sitting for hours in front of televisions, and sending troops to fight a dehumanized “them.”
The difference between lab animals and us, however, is that overstimulation for animals isn’t present in nature. It can really only be found in the laboratory. If an animal escapes to its natural environment, it will return to natural stimuli and responses. For people, however, because we live in an artificial world of our own making, escaping those stimuli is not so easy.
But Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, says that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for us.
Barrett, author of the new book “Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose,” says the first step is to understand what’s happening to us. Instincts and urges honed for hundreds of thousands of years to keep us alive in a world of scarcity are being subverted in the modern era of plenty. People are bombarded by food that they crave, tempted by seductive images, and urged to buy products designed to appeal to specific wants, regardless of need........
Pornography, she said, subverts instincts intended for mating with people. Stuffed animals, dolls, and cartoon characters manipulate people’s preprogrammed affinity for childlike “cuteness.” She also looks at obesity, war, business, television, and even intellectual pursuits.....more from Harvard Gazette

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“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own.
 You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. 

You realize that you control your own destiny.” 

Albert Ellis

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Cindy Gallup, Make Love Not Porn

Balancing the myths of hard core porn with reality.
An open, non judgemental, not anti porn, but pro love,
 healthy discussion of hard core porn.

Make Love Not Porn.com
Cindy Gallop:
I would like to stress the following:
MakeLoveNotPorn is not about judgement, or what is good vs what is bad.
Sex is the area of human experience that embraces the widest possible range of tastes.
 Everyone should be free to make up their own mind about what they do and don't like.
MakeLoveNotPorn is not anti-porn. I like porn and watch it regularly myself.
MakeLoveNotPorn is simply intended to help inspire and stimulate open, 
healthy conversations about sex and pornography,
 in order to help inspire and stimulate more open, 
healthy and thoroughly enjoyable sexual relationships.
I welcome all feedback and input. You can contact me here
 info@makelovenotporn.com or at http://cindygallop.com.

"Porn" Among Top Search Terms for Kids 7 and Under

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Joseph Campbell

It is going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

- Joseph Campbell


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Dr. Oz on the G-Spot

Dr. Oz explains the G-spot. What it feels like, where it's  located, and what to do 
with it once you find it. 
Named after German gynecologist, Dr. Ernst Grafenberg who wrote about it in 1950.
 When stimulated this little pleasure point is associated with deeper orgasms. 
The male G-spot is the prostate gland, and is also associated with deeper orgasms for men. 
Assorted toys are available for G-spot stimulation, and wikipedia has even given them their own page, here

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In Depth Interview of Power and Seduction Author, Robert Greene

Feeling a little too naive, tangled with too many passive aggressive people?
 In this enlightening 40 minute interview author Robert Greene explains the dynamics of power.  Who uses it, how it's used, and how to recognize when it's being used to manipulate you.

Power Moves, in Writing and Life
How to Spot a Machiavelli
From Napoleon to Kim Jong-Il
Obama and the Art of Power
Power, Strategy, and the Workplace
The Power Struggle of Love
How to Seduce Anything
50 Cent, Fearlessness, and You
Tiger Woods’ God Complex
Robert Greenes's latest:
"The Descent of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis", available at

Robert Greene is the author of numerous volumes on power, strategy, war, and seduction, including the international bestseller "The 48 Laws of Power," "The Art of Seduction," 
"The 33 Strategies of War," and "The 50th Law," co-written with rapper 50 Cent. 

This is not intended as a promotion of seducing or power tripping others. It is intended as a way to educate yourself to the seduction and power games others play, and learn to avoid those types of people. Life is too precious to waste on people who find it necessary to resort to Machiavellian manipulation to get what they want...

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Jung on Love and Power

Where love rules, there is no will to power; 
and where power predominates, there love is lacking.
 The one is the shadow of the other.

C.G. Jung

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Creative minds 'mimic schizophrenia'

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists who have been studying how the mind works.
Brain scans reveal striking similarities in the thought pathways of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia.
Both groups lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought.
It could be this uninhibited processing that allows creative people to "think outside the box", say experts from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.
In some people, it leads to mental illness.
But rather than a clear division, experts suspect a continuum, with some people having psychotic traits but few negative symptoms......
Creativity is known to be associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
ThalamusThe thalamus channels thoughts
Similarly, people who have mental illness in their family have a higher chance of being creative.
Associate Professor Fredrik Ullen believes his findings could help explain why.
He looked at the brain's dopamine (D2) receptor genes which experts believe govern divergent thought.
He found highly creative people who did well on tests of divergent thought had a lower than expected density of D2 receptors in the thalamus - as do people with schizophrenia.
He found highly creative people who did well on tests of divergent thought had a lower than expected density of D2 receptors in the thalamus - as do people with schizophrenia.
The thalamus serves as a relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.
"Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus," said Professor Ullen.

Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It's like looking at a shattered mirror
Mark MillardUK psychologist
He believes it is this barrage of uncensored information that ignites the creative spark.
This would explain how highly creative people manage to see unusual connections in problem-solving situations that other people miss.

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Thinking Yourself to Orgasm | Barry Komisaruk | Big Think

How is the brain related to female sexual response?

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Notes on Love

New York Times

Brain scan studies have shown that early romantic love generates a unique pattern of brain activity. Regions of the brain related to addiction and even mental illness light up on the scan when a person sees a photo of his or her beloved.....
There are reasons to think that culture and country influence how we love — or at least how we express it. For instance, in surveys, people from China typically describe romantic love “in much less positive terms,” notes Art Aron, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook who has conducted several love and brain scan studies.....

...more from Love on the Global Brain NYT

Romantic love can be more than heartbreaking, as Yeardley Love, 22, a lacrosse player who was slain three weeks ago by an ex-boyfriend, shows...and this is but one of dozens of recent examples of the risky side of romantic love. This is not to say that an arranged marriage, and/or using logic to guide our selection in a mate,  is the answer, but it does seem safer than the romantic route.

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Psychedelic Science and San Jose Conference

Will psychedelic science now be allowed to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism and anxiety?  
From wnyc.org/

As with so much online content some of the most interesting and informative aspects are in the reader comment section. As of this posting New York Times article below had over 300 reader comments,

New York Times

April 11, 2010
After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on a couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe.
“All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating,” he recalled. “Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”
Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.........
Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate. ..........

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. They plan to discuss studies of psilocybin and other psychedelics for treating depression in cancer patients, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol. 
The work has been supported by nonprofit groups like the Heffter Research Institute and MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
“There’s this coming together of science and spirituality,” said Rick Doblin, the executive director of MAPS. “We’re hoping that the mainstream and the psychedelic community can meet in the middle and avoid another culture war. Thanks to changes over the last 40 years in the social acceptance of the hospice movement and yoga and meditation, our culture is much more receptive now, and we’re showing that these drugs can provide benefits that current treatments can’t.”
Researchers are reporting preliminary success in using psilocybin to ease the anxiety of patients with terminal illnesses. Dr. Charles S. Grob, a psychiatrist who is involved in an experiment at U.C.L.A., describes it as “existential medicine” that helps dying people overcome fear, panic and depression.........complete article from the New York Times 

Sites covering conference:

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More Reasons to Kiss

Kiss more, and kiss longer. That's what some researchers are advising as the health benefits of kissing are revealed.

Matthew Messina, DDS, a dentist and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, says the extra saliva produced during kissing washes bacteria off your teeth, which can help break down oral plaque. Bryant Stamford, PhD, director of the health promotion center at the University of Louisville notes kissing can help you lose calories. "During a really, really passionate kiss," he says, "you might lose two calories a minute - double your metabolic rate." Others claim that kissing exercises the facial muscles.

Stress relief is another health benefit of kissing. Psychologist Joy Davidson, PhD, likens kissing to meditation. "It stops the buzz in your mind, it quells anxiety, and it heightens the experience of being present in the moment. It actually produces a lot of the physiological changes that meditation produces," she says. The fact that kissing leads to touching is also a good thing. Touching and massaging release oxytocin, a hormone known to have a calming effect on the body.

image: Le Baiser (the kiss)
oil on canvas


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Religion Without Mysticism?


 Luke Timothy Johnson

 Dry Bones: Why Religion Can't Live Without Mysticism

The great religious battle of our time is not the one being waged between believers and unbelievers. To be sure, that is an important and certainly a noisy conflict—never before have the voices of religion’s despisers been more numerous, loud, or confident than those of our proselytizing atheists today.
More significant even than that struggle, though, is the clash occurring within religious traditions. The battle within each of the three great monotheistic religions is between the exoteric and esoteric versions of each. .......more from Commonweal 

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New Discoveries About the Experience of Anger

Know someone with a hair trigger temper? Do those bulging veins at his temples during his raging meltdown have any other consequences, besides making you want to run for cover? What are the potential problems of daily fits?

Angry people are by nature, out of control, and this is why they are obsessed with dominating, and controlling those around them. They are attempting to make up for their own lack of control by controlling others, and their environment. This also gives them the necessary 'excuses' to act out their rage, others will never meet the anger addicts level of perfection, and the anger addict then has a reason to rage. The anger addict is covering up his own bottomless well of fear, inadequacy and insecurity, he uses the mask of rage to hide his fear, and create fear in others. Anger addicts generally have limited self awareness, due to having created fear in those around them, no one dares confront them, and their control issues make accepting 'help' nearly impossible for them.  Ultimately, the anger addict ends up alone, driving away anyone who cares, and using the caring persons  departure as another excuse for rage. The anger addicts lack of self awareness, and need to blame others makes him forget that it was his own daily rage, that came BEFORE the departure, that caused others to abandon him. People who are angry a lot also tend to have other chronic negative emotions as well, including anxiety, depression, and paranoia

New discoveries about anger explain why the majority of our elderly population are of good nature, sweet and happy people....read on for information from wikipedia, Science Daily and webMD

In modern society, anger is viewed as an immature or uncivilized response... conditioning can cause inappropriate expressions of anger such as uncontrolled violent outbursts, misdirected anger ...more from wikipedia

 Anger and hostility are significantly associated with both a higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy individuals and poorer outcomes in patients with existing heart disease, according to the first quantitative review and meta-analysis of related studies, which appears in the March 17, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology......more from Science Daily

 Younger people, those with children and less-educated individuals are more likely to experience anger, according to new UofT research. Professor Scott Schieman from the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto has published new findings about the experience of anger. In a chapter in the forthcoming International Handbook of Anger, to be released in January 2010, Schieman documents the basic social patterns and contexts of anger....more from Science Daily

Scientists speculate that anger may produce direct biological effects on the heart and arteries. Negative emotions, such as anger, quickly activate the "fight-or-flight response." They also trigger the "stress axis," Kubzansky says. "That's a slightly slower response, but it activates a cascade of neurochemicals that are all geared toward helping you in the short run if you're facing a crisis."....Anger may also disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart and provoke dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.

Other research suggests that stress hormones may lead to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance linked to atherosclerosis and future heart disease risk. In 2004, Duke University scientists who studied 127 healthy men and women found that those prone to anger, hostility, and depression had two to three times higher CRP levels than their more placid peers.
"CRP levels at this range are associated with inflammation that is likely to eventually increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke," ................more from WebMD

Image: Vajrapani


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Alan Watts, What is Scholarship?

"Do you know what Scholarship means? What a school means? The original meaning of a scholar? 


Scholarship is to study everything that’s unimportant. Not necessary for survival. All the charming irrelevancies of life. 

But you see the thing is this. If you don’t have a room in your life for the playful, life’s not worth living. 
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But if the only reason for which Jack plays is that he can work better afterwards, he’s not really playing. He’s playing because it’s good for him. He’s not playing at all!

To be a true scholar you have to cultivate an attitude to life where you’re not trying to get anything out of it. You pick up a pebble on the beach and look at it. It’s beautiful. Don’t try to get a sermon out of it. Sermons and Stones and God and everything be damned. Just enjoy it.

Don’t feel that you’ve got to salve your conscience by saying that this is for the advancement of your aesthetic understanding. Enjoy the pebble. If you do that you’ll become healthy. You become able to be a loving helpful human being. But if you can’t do that, if you can only do things because somehow you're going to get something out of it, you’re a vulture."

Alan WattsThe Tao of Philosophy/ the Love of Wisdom Series
pub posthumously in 1995 by Alan's eldest son Mark Watts.  book is available used in paperback for around $3.00
Thanks TE!

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