Friday, May 30, 2008

on the World Wide Web
chosen by Lama Surya Das

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Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Renting Vs Buying

A good article that accurately describes the dilemma lots of people face between renting and buying your apartment.

I’m still not sure how good our timing was. Based on the backlog of houses on the market, I fully expect that our new house will be worth less in six months than it is today. I’m also not sure that we would have been willing to buy in Boston, New York or much of California, where the rent ratios remain above 20, according to data from Moody’s

In fact, if you’re now renting — almost anywhere — and do not need to move, I’d probably recommend that you wait to buy. The market is still coming your way.

But it’s O.K. with me if our timing wasn’t perfect. After several years of reporting on the housing market, I’m convinced that the most common real estate mistake is viewing a house first as a financial investment and only second as a home. That’s one big reason we ended up in this bubble-induced mess.

Most of the time, the decision whether to rent or buy should be based above all on life circumstances. Do you expect to move again in a couple years? Or is there a good chance that you’re ready to settle in — and stop worrying about real estate for a while?

The housing bubble, unfortunately, forced a reconsideration of this standard, because houses became so overvalued. But they’re slowly coming back to reality, which means that buying has again started to make sense for more people. Apparently, I’m one of them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Swim Vacations

This sounds like a great vacation..

WHAT I remember most about a nighttime tour I took of Alcatraz a couple of years ago was the fact that — given the nearness of the island prison to downtown San Francisco, just a mile and a half offshore — inmates were often haunted by the sounds of life across the water. When city residents held New Year’s Eve parties and their reveling carried across the cold, current-roiled bay, the two shores seemed maddeningly close to the prisoners.

I recalled this fact last October as I stood on an idling fishing boat at the edge of Alcatraz Island, eyeing the distance I was meant to swim. Was it really that close? For a moment, that mile and a half of choppy water might as well have been 10 miles. Yet when I finally jumped into chilly San Francisco Bay, all I felt was the distinct personal thrill of my very own Escape From the Rock.

Swimming-oriented tours and vacations have been around for a while, but lately there are new trips of a single day up to a whole week for the recreational swimmer. The vantage point gained from the water — whether on a swim expedition down the Thames in the English countryside, or among the coves and coral reefs of the Caribbean — is a special one, and with guidance you don’t have to be an Ironman athlete to submerge yourself in the experience.

On the expedition I joined — led by the San Francisco-based company Swim Art — there were six swimmers, including my friend Steve Dawson, an open-water aficionado who somehow convinced me this was a good idea. Steve began swimming in the bay last year when he was looking for a fresh challenge. Alcatraz was it; he hasn’t been in a pool since. “I love being way out in the water and seeing the city from a totally unique vantage, knowing that it’s where I swam from,” he said. He added that his daily commute over the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco is eased by the knowledge that he has swum the very route he’s driving.

“The way swimmers think is that they’ll see a body of water, and then they’ll wonder if they can get in it,” said Leslie Thomas, the 33-year-old founder of Swim Art. She coaches recreational and competitive open-water swimmers. Last year she added a calendar of expedition swims around San Francisco icons like Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, as well as a two-day tour at Lake Tahoe. There are other organized swims from Alcatraz that are competitive, but Swim Art’s private small-group trips are not races; they are designed to let participants explore a new location by swimming at a group pace.

Ms. Thomas’s swimmers are accompanied on a boat by a local guide intimately familiar with shipping lanes, tides and currents; our leader was Gary Emich, who on the morning of our trip told us that he had recently completed his 511th Alcatraz swim.

Ms. Thomas says her emphasis on safety comes from personal experience. “Once I headed out with my friend for a swim on the Italian Riviera, when I was pretty naïve about swimming in unfamiliar bodies of water,” she recalled. “Suddenly, we were surrounded by speeding sailboats. And we thought, ‘This is beautiful, but we probably shouldn’t be here.’ So we try to control conditions to be as safe as possible.”

Swim Art’s expedition schedule starts in the spring, but in some parts of the world it’s always swimming season. In April, Swim Vacation, a small adventure travel company based in Bath, Me., ran its first weeklong swimming vacation in the British Virgin Islands from a chartered trimaran sailing yacht. Mike Sloan, a 55-year-old dentist from Lincolnville, Me., was on the inaugural trip.

Mr. Sloan, who swam competitively as a child growing up in Florida, began swimming again only three years ago. Before the trip, he hadn’t done any open-water swimming outside Maine.

“My expectation was that I would swim a lot, get some coaching and advice, and visit a beautiful place while it was still cold in Maine,” Mr. Sloan said. “The trip far exceeded my expectations. We saw sea turtles, tons of fish, rays, coral and shipwrecks. It was like snorkeling, but we were getting great workouts.”

Participants swam two to four miles a day. Mr. Sloan’s favorite swim was a 2.4-mile stretch from Cooper Island to Salt Island, where the drop-off between islands and the deep blues of the bay made him feel as though he were swimming in space.

Swim Vacation was started by George McDonough, 37, known as Hopper, who intends to fill a rapidly expanding niche. Triathlons and open-water swims are becoming more popular; this summer’s Olympics will host a 10-kilometer open-water race for the first time.

“I first swam in the Virgin Islands in 1998 while on an excursion from a dreadful cruise,” Mr. McDonough said, citing the inspiration for his inaugural expedition. He is planning to add a four-day Maine Lakes swimming tour to his trip program in the summer of 2009.

In London, SwimTrek bills itself as the world’s only swimming vacation operator. Its most popular destinations are the Greek Islands and Croatia. The latest addition is a series of two-day swims along the Thames in June, July and August. Beginning in the village of Lechlade, in the Cotswolds, participants swim a little over four miles a day downriver, cruising from pub to pub (giving new meaning to the term “pub crawl”). The finish line is the Trout Inn near Oxford, where the stone Tadpole Bridge crosses the Thames. Most tourists to the area drive, walk, bike or boat along the country waterway. But who wants to join the masses? With a swim, the reward is a sense of place that’s uniquely memorable

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ms Proper

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New Hairstyle

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Adarsh and Mira

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Sea Life

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The Mother

It is always better to try to concentrate in a centre, the centre of aspiration, one might say, the place where the flame of aspiration burns, to gather in all the energies there, at the solar plexus centre and, if possible, to obtain an attentive silence as though one wanted to listen to something extremely subtle, something that demands a complete attention, a complete concentration and total silence. And then not to move at all. Not to think, not to stir, and make that movement of opening so as to receive all that can be received, but taking good care not to try to know what is happening while it is happening, for if one wants to understand or even to observe actively, it keeps up a sort of cerebral activity which is unfavourable to the fullness of the receptivity - to be silent, as totally silent as possible, in an attentive concentration, and then be still.
If one succeeds in this, then, when everything is over, when one comes out of meditation, some time later - usually not immediately - from within the being something new emerges in the consciousness: a new understanding, a new appreciation of things, a new attitude in life-in short, a new way of being.

- The Mother [CWMCE, 9:114-15]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Don't Miss this talk

monday 26th may
7.00 pm ‘Indian Women IN THE HOUSE OF FICTION’ – a book release, reading and talk by Geetanjali Chanda

Indian Women in the House of Fiction explores the quiet negotiation of women and the kinds of homes they wish to inhabit. The house is not merely a backdrop in Indian women’s fiction but almost a character that bears witness to the changes taking place in the protagonists’ lives. The architectural and social spaces of havelis, bungalows and apartments impose their own unique patterns of women’s relationships inside and outside the domestic space. In these fictional homes, women find ways to transform restrictive segregated spaces – like the zenana of a haveli – into a potentially empowering ‘womenspace’ that is carried over into both bungalows and apartments. The current popularity of Indo-English literature notwithstanding, the anxiety of conveying an authentic Indianness in what is sometimes still regarded as an “auntie tongue” shadows some authors and their work. Notions of Indianness are preserved, taught and performed in the home and it is also the site upon which concerns about identity, language, nationalism, family or community values and gender roles are played out. In this book, Geetanjali Singh Chanda maps Indian English women’s literature in India and the diaspora while situating it in the larger framework of world literatures.

Geetanjali Singh Chanda is a Senior Lecturer in the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Yale University. Before Yale, she taught at the Hong Kong University and Gettysburg College. She completed her undergraduate studies at Delhi University, did a language teaching certification at the Sorbonne, received her Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from George Washington University, and completed her doctoral dissertation at Hong Kong University.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manneken Pis

Vladimir Radunsky. Manneken Pis. Atheneum, 2002

This story is about a boy who pees on a war. He lives in a town that is beautiful, with parents that adore him. But suddenly a war starts and the peaceful town turns into a sad town. The poor boy cannot find his parents and has to pee. So he pees on the war and this shocks both sides that they stop fighting and start laughing instead. The town then returns back to peaceful times. The turning point in the plot happens when the boy pees on the war.

The writing is large and often the most significant parts of the text are bold faced and even larger than the rest of text. In the epilogue the author tells us that this happened in Brussels and there is a bronze statue of the little boy peeing. I thought this was a wonderful way to talk about non violent ways of ending war to children.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Richard Bartholomew

Gallery has a wonderful exhibition of photographs in Black and White by Richard Bartholomew. The first section deals with his wife, his two sons and his home, which I found the most beautiful. The second section dealt with his work as an art critic, where he photographed lots of the top artists in India, like Hussein, Krishen Khanna and Biren De. His street scence of Delhi were also pretty great. Especially the one of Narender Place on Parliament Street, it looked like it was a quiet road with just a few cars going by, quite a far cry from today.

His son, Pablo Bartholomew, is exhibiting just a few avenues down at Bodhi Art and his was work was quite the opposite, in that it dealt with smoking, drugs, drinks and the aftermath on men and women.

Sepia International is honored to present A Critic’s Eye, an exhibition of photographs by noted Indian art critic Richard Bartholomew (1926-1985). Widely acclaimed as a writer, painter, curator, and art critic, with solo shows of his paintings in Delhi and Bombay in the 1950s, Bartholomew rarely exhibited his photographic work during his lifetime. During the 1960s and 70s, he keenly photographed life as it revolved around him – his immediate family, his travels in India as well the United States, and his intertwined relationships with fellow members of the art world. This will be the first solo exhibition of his photographs.

Bartholomew was one of first art critics in India to start a true dialogue with the painters of the time. He created a community with them and engendered a sense of direction at a time when the public was not fully receptive to the bold artistic exploration of India’s Progressive Art Movement. Bartholomew’s incisive and sophisticated body of photographic work during that period of aesthetic and cultural ferment is equally illuminating and offers us a rare glimpse into the beginnings of Modernism in India.

Today, we tend to separate the activities of creation and criticism. As a matter of fact, they are complementary. It is true that an artist is seldom the best judge of his own work; it is equally true that though the critic may feel that a particular painting or sculpture is deficient or excessive in some aspect of communication, he cannot usually prove the artist wrong by demonstration. Yet there is one premise on which both work. Nothing can be created without a functional principle of criticism; and all criticism, good criticism that is, is constructive and is intended to foster the growth of art.

Theories of art do not make a critic; he appreciates art the better if he understands, or tries to understand, the nature of the creative process. He must know that the artist's instinct, his capacity for exploration (or experiment) and his awareness of history, personal and contemporary, determine the quality of his vision. Every artist is great, significant or mediocre in proportion to how he manages to relate these factors in the understanding of reality. There is the reality of his imagination, the reality of his technique, and the reality of the world-picture. The critic must be able to distinguish the false from the organic. –Richard Bartholomew, excerpt from Cultural Forum journal, 1950s

Words of Wisdom

on the World Wide Web
chosen by Lama Surya Das

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If people have no patience, they have no patience, and I can't insist that they develop it. But I've observed that human life without patience becomes unworkable. My experience has been that I've been forced to develop patience with unchangeable situations.

~ H.H. the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The adventures of Sundari Pari, Mira and Angad

High up in the Himalayan mountains lives a fairy, her name is Sundari Pari. Her small, sweet, stone house is set in a garden that is filled with flowers, trees and lots of animals. She can see snow covered peaks from her home.

She has a beautiful kind face. Her wings are like dragonflies - strong. She likes to see everyone happy, in her garden, the animals, birds, insects and reptiles and also happiness for everyone in the world.

But a wicked magician has put a spell on her. She cannot wave her wand and make everyone's troubles go away. The only way the spell can be broken is, if a young sister and brother come at night to her garden and kiss her wand.

The wicked magician knows that all children are fast asleep at night. Sundari Pari had not been able to find any children to come to her garden in the cold night.

Sundari Pari's garden has a lot of birds with broken wings, rabbits with hurt paws, monkeys and little mice with stomachaches. The monkeys and mice had eaten unripened apples and pears, food that their parents had told them to stay away from. And there was even an old green snake that could barely move out of his hole to enjoy the sunshine.

Sundari Pari had flown many times around the world, flapping her wings, knocking on many windows but no children had heard her knock.

On her last trip flying high in the starlit sky she looked down and way down in a valley there was a light shinning. As she flew closer she saw that it came from the window of a small cozy house that lay in the middle of a garden full of flowers and an orchard laden with fruit. The house was painted a bright yellow and had sky blue windows. This looks like a fun house, she thought.

She looked in and saw a room with two beds, a boy and girl were sitting on their beds reading books. She looked at her watch and realized it was quite late. Strange, no other lights were on in the house, and no grownups around, telling them that it was late and they should be asleep.

Softly she settled on the outside window ledge and gently fluttered her wings against the glass pane. She did not want to frighten the children. But they could not hear her, so the next time she fluttered her wings a little more strongly. The older child, the girl looked up saw Sundari Pari and with a big smile jumped out of her bed and pushed open the window.

As Sundari Pari flew into their room it seemed to Mira that hundred's of fireflies had entered the room. Mira threw her hands up in delight and said, “Angad see, she's come, our Sundari Pari has finally come”.


How to develop Viveka or using good judgment by Swami Dayananda, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Pa.

A lack of Viveka is exhibited by our own ignorance and confusion. That’s why we have to develop Viveka, this is where satsang is inevitable. What we are doing now is to develop that. A lot of shifting has to take place in our vision and understanding. And once we get used to a particular type of thinking then we can extend that on to every issue. Viveka has a certain clarity with reference to what I want. What fruits do I want? Sometimes we want all of them simultaneously we are not able to prioritize. That is because everything seems to be equally important. True lots of things are equally important.

But when the situation became acute, it becomes clear what or which is more important. When you are going to work, your child is crying where are you going? And you leave the child with a babysitter? What is more important? The child will be ok if you go away. But if the child is hurt in some accident than the priority becomes clear you take your child to the hospital. So priorities are there already within us. Priorities are always there. But at a particular time something is more important than another item. It is the same in life.

Some children attending camp say to me, Swami we want to come along with you to study Vedanta. Degrees are more important. What a college education can give, this cannot give, get a degree first. Later we will think about this, come in between for visits. Vedanta is a lifetime thing. Expose yourself to it.

After 40-50 years, the same fellow is confused he asks Swami what is the goal of life, this is a typical middle age question. Suddenly enlightenment comes; half of life is gone, along with that hope and therefore no more delusion, then you begin to take stock. Think this will fix up that will fix up, and then everything is a new problem. Now what, what shall we do? This is always there. At that time study the Gita, that is Viveka.

We all have to reach this stage, where we have to decide what is more important. A job is important. Money is important. Anybody who is critical of money, give me money, don’t ask God for money. This is silly. Money has a value. Viveka is important. But money will solve all my problems that is not true. Money in its wake can bring problems. Money has certain value it gives economic freedom that you cannot buy with anything else, that is Satyam (truth). That you have to acknowledge, but you cannot barter away certain important pursuits for the sake of money alone. For the pursuit of my own growth- money is needed to enjoy economic freedom to provide what I want without thinking much.

You provide, but who is to enjoy it. The person, the individual is. In order to get the money he does not have the time to enjoy it. Donald Trump was asked you have everything, what do you miss in your life? He responded he misses time. Money for my sake or money for money’s sake causes confusion am I earning for my children’s sake. In this Viveka, discrimination is lacking. He earns money for his children’s sake but he does not see his children at all. When he is home they are at soccer games.

Where is Viveka? In the truth we have to see all through. Satsang helps us develop it. What is the goal of my life at any given time and let it be my long range goal.

If there is a long range goal everything else is there, it cannot be bettered. Your own self growth is important. The more you address your problem, the more you are selfless.

The person who says they are a social worker that is not true, he has his own ego, community ego is a big ego, it starts at the temple. He wants to become a big person in the temple, once he has made some money; he wants to become a big man in the community. But community can hurt you too. If ones ego is Rhode Island, another ego is Texas, this leads to bigger and bigger egos. Then you leave the whole thing and come to Vedanta.

It is good to recognize the problem of recognition; I need to be approved by others. Any amount of approval is not going to make you different; if you need approval you need more approval. Its like appeasement, you need more. I don’t say you don’t need appeasement. Its like the Indian labor union every year they come up with new demands, it is endless, reassurance needs reassurance, you give reassurance another one is required. The problem is not a lack of reassurance; lack of self image is the problem and that is what needs to be addressed.

What is the problem, Viveka. Why can I not accept myself? What is it that I lack? What is it that is going to make me accept myself? Start by cutting all other people out. There is no one else in the world to approve or accept you. Then will you accept yourself, what is it that you need to accept about yourself. Think about it. Then you will come to have some grip over what the problem is, that is Viveka self growth leading to self acceptance, then self approval.

You can’t be better than what you are, not what you want.

In the realm of growth, you must not blame the world. Instead you should look at your way of looking at things. Discrimination is involved. Discriminative inquiry is required in everything.

Here people have a fashion to swing from one thing to another. One man ate pigs, hotdogs, and cows. He was eating all of this, and then someone told him it’s not good, he turned vegetarian. He starts the day with alfa alfa that’s not progress to omega!! Its alfa alfa all the way and sea weed, first it was stinking cause of fish now his home smells of seeweed. They call it macrobiotic. I will even recommend it. But what are you living for? Is this all artificial? Is it all natural? There is no difference between artificial and natural. Everything is Ishawara.

You can put something on your face like poison ivy, it is absolutely natural it has an oily substance and your skin will become soft. What is natural need not be good. There is nothing unnatural in the world. Even chemicals are natural. People can die of natural causes. But that does not mean you must eat meat. You must eat what is good for you. Pendulum swings this way and that. I eat anything that flies; I don’t eat this or that, that is fadism.

There is a tremendous language here on menu cards that say today’s special is marinated Steak. But finally it’s a dead meat. Underneath the fine words when I turn it, it’s a dead eel and I turn my stomach into a graveyard of unknown animals. What is that? What kind of life is that?

Human life should be intelligent living, everything is sacred in its own place. You have to learn to discriminate. Some parents say when we send our children to school they don’t get anything else. But that’s not true. If they want vegetarian, they can get it. Parents think they have missed out so they eat through their children.

Viveka converts everything into simple fact. We have to create our own laws one is correct one is not correct.

In everything we have to discriminate, we are caught in many areas, in social, cultural conditioning or own non thinking. In our lives we need to break down mechanical ness by becoming conscious. In Buddhist monasteries they teach you to live a life of mindfulness.

Anything you do you should be conscious. Some say its yoga; no, yoga is your attitude. You have to bring Ishwara to your yoga.

This causes tension, if you bring Ishawara tension goes, without Iswara you will have a tense life. What is the use of Yoga and Pranayama without the Lord. For your whole life time you can do Pranayama, but you cannot live to breathe? One man runs 22 miles a day, even a house will break down. What for? To live a long life. He maybe cutting it short, by running so much.

In this society there is a coupons culture that entices you to buy stuff that you do not need. Shopkeepers often hike up the price, then cuts the price so that you can use the coupon. Once you go into the shop you buy all kinds of things you do not need. You need discrimination while shopping.

What is the use of asking me the question, what is the goal of life? Practice it in shopping first. What took you there? Oh I wanted to buy a bar of soap, ok buy and come back. Can you do that? So don’t go to vulnerable areas. You have to be alert.

Somebody drops a cup it falls down and breaks. You are not anywhere near and you say hai. Why do you say that? What can you do about it?
To admonish someone is silly. No child wants to drop anything. Even lord Vishnu can drop things.

What is perishable will perish. I get two types of Mangoes sent express mail to me, because they are perishable. They come in a nice box, but by the time they reach me they are perished already. Or one dozen is perished and the other dozen never becomes ripe. By the time they became ripe I am gone. What perishes perishes.

When lights go off, political parties power goes, any power goes away, it never stays. When lights go off everyone except me all go Hai. I do not go Hai because I practice Viveka. You have to practice Viveka.

Even if the whole of heaven comes down, you need to practice pure Viveka. If you have nothing to do about it then why are you doing all this. For some people salt is more in the food. No one puts it purposefully, unless you have a cook that wants to settle an account with you. This is all Viveka. If salt is more can you can convert it in something else, add it to something that has no salt.

Have a sense of humor, make home a place that is enjoyable. Never make a home from a fridge, if you make a home out of deep freeze, then it is a frozen home. Cooking must be there. One guy says my wife has gone to India, I asked him when is she coming back. He says after a month. I ask him is he cooking, no Swami I don’t know how to cook. My wife cooked and kept, all the food is in the deep freeze. Sambhar for one month, dal for another month and all vegetables and rotis for one month as well. That should be very difficult he says no when she was here, she was doing the same. What a life. Deep frozen.

Neither is deep fry or deep freeze good for you. Deep fry might keep the home going, but will fill up the home.

I am just giving you a sample of Viveka we have a long way to go.

Jai Jai Govind Jai Hari Govind x10

Vivekachudamani by Sankaracarya

translations from Swami Dayananda

Viveka implies a lot of things. People go to the beach, in certain clothes; they do not go to their workplace in those clothes, because it is inappropriate. There are certain times that make certain things inappropriate. To be done or not that is Viveka. When we confront options, whether things are appropriate or inappropriate, Viveka needs to be used all the time.

Ultimate Viveka asks, what is atman what is one or satya how far is it true? What is atman Viveka. I am Viveka Chudamani. This is the crown jewel, it is discriminative inquiry leading to self knowledge and is attributed to Shankara.

The book has 500 verses we have chosen 100 verses. The topics are carefully chosen as the material is complete in itself. It often repeats. All the verses were collected together but have been written at different times.
Selected topic wise.

Viveka is inquiry, one inquiry is of a subject matter that is unknown or inadequately known. Once you make an inquiry that is Vichara. Viveka differentiates the nature of the inquiry about a subject matter that is not totally unknown. It is known but there is an erroneous conclusion. Then the inquiry is to understand what is what. When things are mixed up. Inquiry meant to clarify.

For example, this crystal appears red, if we take it as a red colored stone. It needs not Vichara but Viveka. This mistake is corrected when you come to know that the color of this object (crystal) is not of the crystal, but it belongs to something else. And once you have understood the object as a crystal, if your knowledge is crystal clear, let it appear in any form. Your knowledge of crystal is not altered. Knowledge must be clear, free from vagueness, complete then you have no problem. This inquiry which leads to the knowledge of crystal no matter what color it appears in, that is Viveka. It is a mistaken notion that it is a colored object, it is not an attribute of a crystal. The Swarupa or nature of the crystal being understood as one free from any color is Nirguna. Free from being any color in the spectrum.

The subject matter is yourself, when analyzing Swarupa. It helps you in understanding yourself. The self is not unknown. It is known and taken for granted. Can you put knowledge of self in your resume? Why should children go after self knowledge? Parents are practical and don’t understand how self knowledge is going to help any one. He blames her she blames him. What is self knowledge?

When you go to a psychoanalysist, he is not going to look at your face and advise you. He is going to get information from you. You are the only judge about yourself. No one else can tell you about yourself. You are the only means of knowing about your history. If the inner life is to be known about your history. How can there be a discussion of your self, in Viveka Chudamani or in its source book Vedanta.

You must be more than what you think yourself to be. It should be something that is not peculiar to you. It should be something common. How they work here they work elsewhere. They are common. Self is I, it is unknown to me. If it’s mistaken to be other than what it is known to be? One cannot afford to commit a mistake about oneself. What is insanity? It is a mistaken self identity. We are all sane, because we define sanity. If institutionalized people define sanity they would all be sane.

If I were you. Be careful of this sentence, I would be worst. I wouldn’t be a person, I would just melt away. The situation is not good at all, that you are sad is but proper, that you feel lonely it is ok. The therapist tells you that you are lonely. Nobody understands you because you are such a profound person. I am not criticizing the therapist; I would do that as well to begin with. These are normal emotions angry, sad and depressed, in a competitive society you have to be like this. You have to draw boundaries, don’t allow people to transgress boundaries, otherwise you became a doormat. There are workshops to help you to be successfully aggressive. Lots of people are aggressive but not successful. So these workshops are self esteem workshops. Are you going to put the self in a lake and make it nicer? What is the workshop? We don’t have respect for words? We are dealing with the precious self and we call it workshop.

I thought let me learn about workshops, and when I went to one, it was in a hotel room, with everyone sitting with a Coke and coffee in hand. Is that the respect that we have for the self. It reveals a certain way of thinking. To be successfully aggressive is normal.

So the subject matter of this book is the subject matter that is common to all. We have to unfold it. The self that is discussed here is unlike everything else-
There is no comparison possible. Incomparably comparable. It is like itself, like space is like space, sky is like sky. The self is like the self. There is no second self for comparison. I am the only self. You are the only self. There is no other self. I have a unique self subject to limitations.

The self is the only reality and everything else depends on that reality. Everything else does not omit anybody else. Out of sight out of mind like everything else. And so there is nothing else which is indicative of you. Everything that you confront, come to know, don’t know, everything is dependent entirely upon you.

When everything depends on you, you don’t depend on anyone else. Your being is totally independent of everything else, even though everything else depends on you.

You are free from everything, you are the whole.

You will find yourself whole then there is an investment involved a commitment it is futuristic. Wherever there is a rosy future for you there is an emotional and time investment. The book says you are the whole. You take yourself to be other than the whole. A mistake like this can never prove to be a blessing for you. Sometimes mistakes prove to be a blessing. What you didn’t want you got. Here you are committing a mistake against the fact if this fact. If you are the whole, the mistake against that reality will make you a loser. Whole means limitless. If you commit a mistake against the limitless, the mistake will be uniform. I am subject to limitations. A mistake against the limitless is a capital mistake and therefore, the subject matter. Our own experiences give us possibilities simple moments of happiness in spite of, against all the notions you see yourself as a happy person. This is experience. That’s why you want that experience again. This happy person is an advantageous person. Suddenly this happy person arrived. Not happiness arrived. Happiness in not an object. You only saw yourself as happy not related to me.

In a subject object situation you come across now and then. We make a thesis here perhaps you don’t need to fulfill all your wants and desires coming from your limitations in order to be happy.

The limitations one thought that are intrinsic to myself are not there perhaps, e.g. like the color of the crystal. These limitations belong to something else. They do not belong to me. In spite of all the limitations, I think I have. In the happy person I see a wholeness and completeness. The problem here is that person is the person. All the limitations that you throw upon yourself are part of your not recognizing that person. Because what is intrinsic to a properties in a person as long as fire is there its going to be hot, ashes, smoke need not be there. But the heat will be there. If I look at my limitations they are all variable.

Your age is variable; the place where you are now is variable. The place is variable I am a Californian but I am here. Time is variable. Your physical body is also variable it’s never the same it keeps on changing. Your mind don’t ask. Is also variable. Everything is variable. Therefore can you make a judgment about oneself? There is enough reason for you to explore what this book says.

That inquiry is Viveka there are many types of Viveka. Wherever there is confusion there is a Viveka, right or wrong dharma, appropriate or inappropriate, vrita conduct,

This is a prayer verse. It is a hard verse. Asmi, Pranotoasmi this is a verb. In understanding a verse you first catch the verb. Asmi I am, Aham, Pranotsi mi aham, I remain having saluted.
Then what is the alter of salute. Who do you salute? Respected alter. Govindam Prantam I remain saluting Govinda. Govinda is a name here of the guru, of Satguru. Whose name is Govinda.

Shankara’s guru name was Govinda. Govinda is also Lord Krishna. The one who is understood by words of the Shashtra. Govinda is one who is understood by revealing words. Go means cow, vinda meaning of word. The one is not separate from Parmananda. Free from pain and suffering. Here there are two more adjectives, one who is tam gobinda. I salute Govinda who is not more ignorant of his limitlessness. And who is Agnocharam. Gocharam is anything available for your senses like form, color, sound. I hear this, see this. Relate to them as subjects. What is limitless must be both subject and object. It cannot be just an object. If anything can be both subject and object silently it reads its neither subject nor object. It’s not available for objectification. How do you understand the guru?

Sarvasham Sarva Vedanta there are four Vedas at the end of the Vedas we have Upanishads or dialogs that reveal subject matter.

There are Upanishads for all of them, what is the Sidhanta? What is the outcome?
Sidhanta is the outcome or the conclusion. Finally the revealed outcome of all the words of Vedanta is your understanding that I am the whole.

That is the Swarupa of atman; unless you know yourself you cannot understand your guru. If your guru does not make you see yourself he is not a guru. The means of knowledge that we have is all meant for things that we can objectify. They leave you alone. You are the reader, the subject. Subject is not going to be objectified by the senses. The subject is to be understood because it can be misconstrued. That I am does not need knowledge.

Who am 1? The one who is asking the question. Definitely does not know. What answer will you give? To keeps the question going? The answer will never come unless the I get tired of your questions. I do not talk. What are you going to do?
Small s is searching for Capital S. Here there are no small s or big s’s, the s is the self, or the I. There is no second 1.

Human beings are confused by the human mind. Every other problem is shared by monkeys and us. There is a living organism problem. But if the monkey is given the human mind he will cease to be a monkey. As a monkey he is happy, as a human he becomes restless.

Human beings have evolved from monkeys, talk to the monkey ask him, if that is true. The monkey will laugh. The monkeys will convey to other monkeys, he has evolved from me, then I would like to be a monkey. They live there lives perfect. The human mind is a problem it makes you self conscious and makes you make judgments. In sleep your mind does not work.

Even some people say if the mind became empty you are enlightened. If you have an empty mind you have an empty mind, no need to imagine anything else. It is not an enlightened mind it is a lightened mind.

If thinking is a problem you are not going to solve it. When will I have a mind that is thoughtless? This is thoughtless thinking. Why not in Samadhi. No time, no place, no object, no subject. Mind is awake but no thoughts. Timeless. I was eternal for half an hour. You had no thoughts for half an hour.

Wrong thinking is the problem not thinking. If you have a headache you do remove the head. Mind is not the problem. How great it is. It is Shanika vriti, momentary.
Hand is the object of your thought when you move it. How would it be if the mind does not give up the object. You see a man and then a car, if the thought of the man has not gone and the car has come; the car will be on top of the man.

You see what’s happening in your head, you don’t see anything else.
All that you see is what is happening in your own mind. I don’t say there is no relevant object outside. That is why the mind can project things upon things. There is a certain anxiety, unconscious or Samskara, you see things that are not there. We try to reduce that subjectivity and make the mind objective. That is what yoga is about. Even when you are objective you are going to see things. You see me, you are not seeing me. You are seeing the body of the past not the present. This body has to reflect light. The traveling of the light takes a fraction to reach your eyes. You never see what is now. Only when you go to micro level you find that we are living in our own worlds, at a macro level the fraction is so small that you can’t perceive it. It is all just Vivahara.

In language we have to use tenses, if we analyze tenses we became tense. Rama cooks. Is present tense. When can I use cook in the present tense. Rama washes vessels he is still cooking. This is an arbitrary projection upon a tense upon an action.

In a restaurant here the table is always occupied by the same people for a long time. In India in Udipi restaurants tables keep moving, people keep moving.

By asking questions you are not going to be enlightened. The mind can help you by objectifying you. The thought is Shanika it is variable. You are present all the time. The self is Agocharam, that which is not available for your mind to objectify. The only thing that exists without the mind objectifying it is you, the self. Agocharam. But it is understood as it is. The confusion is resolved, as the Lakshya as the implied meaning. Like Satyam, Gyanam, Mukhtam, this is what you are. The whole thing is a method of revealing the self.

Sarva Vedanta Sidhanta Agocharam Visharam. Otherwise not available for objectification. Who is Govinda? My satguru, I am no more I am him. Like a salt doll enters into the ocean to measure the depth. It becomes the ocean itself. When a disciple goes to a teacher to find out how much he knows he realizes he is not any different from the teacher.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Burma and China

Dhamma reflections so accurately represents my feelings on the devastation in Burma and China. I have not been able to look at the images of the suffering, starving, homeless, orphans and parents whose children have been killed due to the cyclones and earthquake.

The recent natural disaster in Burma has led to many reflections as well as opportunities to practice metta meditation. It's hard for me to even fathom the horrors the people in that region must be facing. The live in constant fear from their own inept government and now what little they had has literally been swept away by a natural disaster. We really do live in a very uncertain world in which nothing can be taken for granted. It's my sincere hope that in this time of severe suffering the people of Burma turn to the Dhamma for guidance. I don't just mean the poor citizens of the ravished villages, but the generals as well.

This is a prime opportunity for Than Shwe and his generals to redeem themselves in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of their own people. There isn't a lot we can do where we live other then donate money and practice Metta meditation, but as Ajahn Thanissaro has pointed out there is a lot of good in doing just that. Remember, misfortune can and does happen to everyone, and there is nothing that is certain in the world. It's times like these that highlight the whole "inconstancy" aspect of things from the three characteristics.

This whole event reminds me of the Four Dhamma Summaries chant that Ajahn Geoff's monastery chants.

Upanīyati loko,
The world is swept away.
It does not endure.
2. Atāṇo loko,
The world offers no shelter.
There is no one in charge.
3. Assako loko,
The world has nothing of its own.
Sabbaṃ pahāya gamanīyaṃ.
One has to pass onleaving everything behind.
4. Ūno loko,
The world is insufficient,
Taṇhā dāso.
a slave to craving.

There really isn't any security in the world, and we are all brothers and sisters in aging, illness, separation and death as well as the owners of our actions. Let us all aspire to the good and do what we can as we are reminded of just how precarious our lives are. May you all be well.

The Alley Cats Meow

Kathi Appelt. The Alley Cat's Meow. Harcourt, 2002

This wonderful story is about Red, a "dashing" and "smashing downtown kind of cat" and Ginger, "She's jazzy. She's snazzy. She's an uptown sort of gal". They meet at the Alley Cat's Meow and travel the world with their romantic toe-tappin' and quick-steppin' dancing.

The story builds up a good momentum first with the excitement of the dance and then to the blossoming romance of Ginger and Red. The dialogue is musical and filled with jazzy rhythm.

The text in this large picture book is not dominant, the images are. But the text sets the pace for the story and is incredibly creative. I have never read a picture book that is so fresh, a pure delight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

David Barsamian

A talk at the attic by David.

PAKISTAN IS routinely quoted in the American media as "the world's most dangerous country." You can turn to Newsweek, USA Today, Business Week and other magazines and newspapers, and it's always described in those dire terms. How it became that way is never explained. It just happened. It may be something in the genes of Pakistanis, that they are naturally inclined to be dangerous.

But I think it's important to talk about U.S. involvement in Pakistan. Because that explains a lot of why Pakistan is the way it is today. According to the Human Rights Commission of that country, which just issued its annual report, Pakistan is a nation that is "half alive." And 2007 is called "one of the worst years in Pakistan's history, if not the worst."

So I think it's crucial to know a little bit about the background of the country. And it's interesting how India factors in this and especially the U.S. When Pakistan was created out of British India in 1947, the U.S. was at that time kind of dividing the world into different regions that it would seek to dominate. South Asia was part of that focus. The major focus was West Asia for obvious reasons: oil. But South Asia was also of great interest to Washington.

In the post-colonial era of newly independent states, an alternative between the U.S. and the USSR was trying to establish itself. It was the non-aligned movement. India's Nehru was its most visible figure. But there were others such as Kenyatta in Kenya, Nkrumah in Ghana, Nasser in Egypt and Sukarno in Indonesia.

This Third Way Bandung (the site in Indonesia where the non-aligned movement met) politics was viewed by Washington with great apprehension. It is interesting. Instead of, perhaps, embracing the non-aligned Third World movement, Washington saw it as a threat. Even then, the idea was: You're either with us or you're against us. You can't be in the middle. There is no grey area.

So Washington, in response to the non-aligned movement, as well as its primary goal of "containing" the USSR, started to create a network of military alliances. Pakistan would be used as a foil to India. It was quickly brought into U.S.-run military alliances, specifically CENTO (the Central Treaty Organization), also known as the Baghdad Pact, as well as SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization). Although how Pakistan geographically comes into South East Asia is, of course, a bit of a leap as they say.

What Washington was doing was globalizing its Latin American model, which it had developed over decades. That is to say, to create strong alliances with military and security services in client states. The military and security services were always seen as natural allies of the United States that could be relied upon. They were dependable. They were hierarchal, top-down organizations that did not brook dissent.

So the Latin American model now is globalized. And Pakistan is brought into the U.S. orbit. And the Pakistanis, fearing rival India, were quite willing to come under the U.S. umbrella. Pakistani officers are brought to the United States for training. There are mutual exchanges and military exercises and billions of dollars of weapons are flowing to Pakistan.

The U.S. supports a string of military dictatorships beginning with Ayub Khan in 1958, continuing through Yahya Khan and then the notorious Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88). And finally, Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in 1999. He is president of the country, but his position is very shaky right now. He has become a major liability for the Americans. He has become an albatross around their necks.

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THAT WAS one of the reasons they had negotiated this deal with Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan. She was going to be the eloquent, articulate, sophisticated, Harvard and Oxford-educated face of Pakistan, with Musharraf in the background. As part of the deal, Benazir agreed to allow American troops to openly operate in the country. In return, she exacted a high price for her cooperation. The most controversial condition was the dropping of all criminal charges facing not only her but also her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and members of the Pakistan People's Party.

There were two other components of the deal. The clause in the Pakistani constitution that would only allow for a prime minister to serve for two terms was to be eliminated. Recall that Benazir served as twice as prime minister from 1988-1990, then again from 1993-1996. So that was going off the books. And the last, not-so-well-known, condition was the removal of the clause in the Pakistani constitution which allows a president to dismiss a prime minister for corruption or incompetence or for violating the constitution. Twice, Benazir was dismissed by presidents.

So those were the conditions that she negotiated for her return to Pakistan on October 18, 2007. Many Pakistanis were aghast by the deal she struck. Her detractors sarcastically referred to her as "Bezamir" (Urdu for "no conscience").

Benazir is a subject of great interest in the United States, particularly since her shahadat, martyrdom. She has been glorified in death. Her actual historical record has been distorted and reinvented. It's not surprising, because I'm old enough to remember John F. Kennedy. And when he was assassinated, all of a sudden he became a saint. Everyone forgot about his invading Cuba, his using chemical weapons and bombing Vietnam, counter-insurgency in Laos, and the coup in Brazil. Once he was killed, he was transformed into an angel.

It is not surprising that a similar pattern occurs in Pakistan. It may have even happened in India when different political leaders have died. History is engineered. It's an interesting concept almost like a building--you can reconstruct it. So history is reworked in order to glorify and sanitize the one who has died.

But there are other aspects of Pakistan and why its relationship with United States became so military dominated.

The U.S. had a particular strategy for West Asia, the Middle East as it is referred to in the U.S. The region was to be controlled by "local cops on the beat" as Nixon's Defense Secretary Melvin Laird called it. And that's to say that Israel, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, all non-Arab states, were all recruited by the U.S. to kind of police the Arabs. And of course, if there were a big problem, then Washington would intervene directly. But the preference was to delegate the smaller tasks to surrogates.

So Pakistan proved to be valuable asset. In 1970, the Pakistani army under Zia-ul-Haq was responsible for attacks on Palestinians in Jordan during the Black September period. Pakistani air force pilots were basically the Saudi Air Force. The Saudis had no pilots; they used Pakistani pilots to fly their planes. And the U.S. established an important spy base in Pakistan outside Peshawar. It was from that base that the infamous Gary Powers and his U-2 plane took off from to spy on the USSR in 1960. Powers' capture created a huge incident between the two superpowers.

Today, in fact, it is suspected that very same base has been resurrected by the U.S. and is being used to launch missile strikes in the frontier areas as well as in what is called FATA, the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. This is not exactly a province of Pakistan. Pakistan has four official provinces, and then it has what are called the tribal areas.

Many Americans, when they hear the terms tribes and tribal leaders, immediately lapse into the clichés of wild Indians, the indigenous population, attacking innocent white settlers who are trying to bring civilization to the savages. The vocabulary has been repeated in Iraq in exactly the same way. Sunni tribes led by sheikhs, have been hired by the Americans to do their bidding. In a classic colonial technique, this is how they win the hearts and minds of people in Iraq or Pakistan. Let me demonstrate another technique of power and control. [A large wad of rupees is shown to the audience.] This is money. The people are bought to perform certain services for the paymaster.

It was the great jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s that saw the U.S.-Pakistan relationship bloom into full flower. Zia-ul-Haq's 1977 U.S.-backed coup ousting Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto effectively ended a democratic interlude in Pakistan. Bhutto, father of Benazir, with all his flaws, was a civilian ruler and had promulgated a constitution for the country. He was the founder of the PPP--the Pakistan People's Party. Zia had him executed in 1979.

Zia was an all-too-willing satrap and instrument to promote Washington's goal of giving the Soviets a "Vietnam" in Afghanistan. Billions of dollars flowed into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to arm and train jihadis from all over the Islamic world who were brought to Pakistan and then sent into Afghanistan to fight.

The Afghan operation was the biggest in the CIA's history. It worked closely with the powerful Pakistani ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The ISI made sure the bulk of the weapons coming in from the U.S. and Europe went to its favorite client, the fundamentalist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

All the U.S. and Saudi money was funneled through the ISI and Pakistani military. Much of it simply disappeared. It is in this period when Zia institutes his fundamentalist Islamic program. Highly restrictive laws directed against women are implemented. Many are still in place. It is during the '80s that many of the extremist madrassas, seminaries, are established and funded.

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ZIA'S REIGN is without question the darkest era in Pakistan's 60-plus-year history. The country has not yet fully recovered from the excesses of his rule. He was killed in a plane crash in 1988. The cause of the crash, which also killed the head of the ISI and the American ambassador to Islamabad, remains a mystery.

The U.S., hell-bent on its agenda of bloodying the Soviets, played a central role in turning parts of Pakistan into a center for jihad. The consequences have been huge. Some of the jihadis, who President Reagan called "freedom fighters," later morphed into the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The primacy of the military in Pakistan has seriously diminished and hindered the development of civil society along, for want of a better term, more normal lines. U.S. policy is greatly responsible for that. Pakistan has been prevented from, let's say, evolving along the line of its neighbor India in terms of civil society. It's always been the military that has been in the foreground in the country. It was privileged by the Americans over all other groups.

Do you know the great American philosopher Yogi Berra? He's a kind of a character people make jokes about. He's kind of like Mullah Nasruddin. He seems to be foolish but he says incredibly intelligent things (Yogi Berra is not a yogi by the way). He was asked once by an American, "How would you explain how Pakistan is ruled?" And he said, "Well, first of all, 22 feudal families control 40 percent of the country's wealth." Then he said, "The other 90 percent is controlled by the military."

Yogi has a problem with math. But he doesn't have problem with analysis of a situation. The dominance and intervention of the Pakistani military in that country's economic life is stunning, You may not be aware of the kinds of things controlled by the Pakistani military. For example, they are the largest realtors in the country. They have housing developments, banks, strip malls, cement factories, they make tissue paper and, last but not least, breakfast cereal! The poet Daman said it well, "Now each day is fair and balmy. Everywhere you look: the army."

There is a very good book on this topic, by Pakistani scholar Ayesha Saddiqa, it's called Military Inc. It's the first book to document in detail the role and degree of involvement of the military in the Pakistani economy.

A lot has happened in the last year. The crisis began on March 9, 2007, when Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was dismissed by Musharraf. Why? The chief justice was reportedly looking into the suspicious sale of a state steel mill. He was also asking questions about the whereabouts of the many Pakistanis disappeared by the state security services.

Musharraf has long been the American favorite in Pakistan. The U.S. has been supporting him since he overthrew Nawaz Sharif in 1999. As recently as early April, George Bush said he still supports Musharraf and called him a real friend of the United States. The general also received some $10 billion from the Americans to carry out their various projects in the so-called war against terrorism. Most of that money is unaccounted for and very little of it went to the needs of the Pakistani people.

Musharraf's dismissal of the chief justice sparked lawyers to take to the streets in protest. They maintained their protests through the year and into 2008. It was an impressive display of consistency and principle. They were joined by others from civil society but it always seemed that it was the men in suits and ties who formed the bulk of the public opposition.

Pakistan's terrible year ended with the murder of Benazir in Rawalpindi on December 27. Few believed the Musharraf story blaming Beitullah Mehsud and the Taliban. Most Pakistanis believe the intelligence agencies must have been involved. They point to the quick cleansing of the murder site and the destruction of all forensic evidence. The Scotland Yard investigation, reluctantly agreed to by Musharraf, was thus very limited and many government officials were not available for questioning by the detectives. Political assassinations in Pakistan have a long history of never being solved.

Benazir's death set off a series of events. The January 8 elections were postponed until February 18. When they were held, Musharraf and his allies were given a stinging defeat. The Islamic parties also were routed. A coalition of the PPP, now led by Zardari, and the PML-N, led by Nawaz Sharif, formed a coalition to rule the country. Their alliance must be seen as temporary, as there are deep differences dividing them.

Nevertheless, there is a honeymoon period for the time being. The new prime minister, a PPP stalwart, Yusuf Gilani, endeared himself to many by lifting the dreaded bans on student unions and trade unions. The government has announced it is seeking some kind of truce with militants. The Americans are very nervous about this and are putting pressure on Islamabad not to go forward with any kind of peace deal.

Musharraf continues as president of the country. How long he will last is uncertain. It can't be for long. He is even more unpopular than his patron and payroll master, George W. Bush. The latter is bound for Crawford, Texas. And Musharraf, if he avoids being killed, may end up in Miami, Fla., or in his house in Turkey.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Women in Western Art

Here is a great video on the history of the representation of Western Women in Western Art.

thanks Geeta for the link.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

- ee cummings

thanks V. Doula for the link

Before the rains

This powerful movie opened in New York recently to rave reviews. The movie is set in the tea plantations of Kerala in 1937. It sensitively handles issues of colonialism, the Indian Independence movement, master-servant relations and the conflicts that beset people that try to step out of their culture. Nandita Das and Rahul Bose were spectacular.

Fatal culture clash, imperialist entitlement, forbidden passion between master and servant: the ingredients of the Indian director Santosh Sivan’s period piece “Before the Rains” may be awfully familiar, but the film lends them the force of tragedy. From the moment Moores (Linus Roache), an arrogant British planter in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, hands a gun to his loyal manservant T. K. (Rahul Bose), you can be certain that the weapon will be discharged and lives destroyed. “Before the Rains” is a dispassionate study of how power, when threatened, ruthlessly exercises its prerogatives. — Stephen Holden, The New York Times


This Video is making rounds on the Internet. It was featured on British Idol. It's quite incredulous. So a Sikh man cleaning the streets in London is now dancing with his broom!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Takashi

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My fav galleries Middle Eastern Art

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female figure

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Egyptian Woman


I took this picture from the front, a man came ahead of me and took it from the back.
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Love has no end

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More here
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Ghada Amer


This was an excellent exhibit by Ghada Amer, she used stitching in interesting ways to talk about gender, politics and sextuality.
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Takashi Murakami

A wonderful exhibit at Brooklyn Museum.
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Pink and Purple

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Pink and Green Hair in Kimonos

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Open Orange Entrance

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Gold Fish

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the corruption of priviledge

David Cameron