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Valentine's Day Newsletter 2007

By Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry on Feb 13, 2007

Happy Valentines Day, Shivatri & Chinese New Year

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the February 13, 2007 edition of the Satya Center newsletter.
Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry.
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day, and the Hindu Feast of Shivratri, which honors two of the most famous lovers in all of human mythology, occurs on February 15. On Sunday, February 18, we celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Valentine's Day
St. Valentine's Day has been a celebration of romantic and courtly love in the West for hundreds of years, and a time for soulmates to ponder their great good fortune in sharing an earthly journey that accelerates their spiritual evolution and provides them with countless opportunities to open their hearts and become One with a Love Divine.
This holiday has pagan and heretical Christian origins, and interesting analogies with certain medieval Hindu practices, all of which celebrate the Universal Life Force Energy in its manifestation as sexual union.
In ancient Rome, February 13 was the feast of the fertility god Faunus and February 15 was the Feast of Lupercalia, dedicated to another fertility god, Lupercus. The priests of Pan Lyceus would perform purification ceremonies designed to promote fertility among Roman women. Young priests would circle the city walls with strips of skin cut from sacrificial animals, scourging women they encountered along the way to purify them in preparation for pregnancy. The Latin "februaue" means "to purify" after this "Feast of Purification." Some sources say that the thongs made from the skins of sacrificed animals "which the priests used on the evening of February 14 to whip women" were called "februa".
At Lupercalia, young women wrote their names on slips of papyrus and put them in a box. Then young men would take turns withdrawing the slips of paper, and would pair off for the day with the women whose names they had picked.
In 12th century southern France, "Valentine Clubs" appeared, which constituted a more playful, chivalric, and Christianized version of the ancient Roman fertility festivals.
Every year on February 14th, the Valentines assembled in the local town square, according to John Rutheford's invaluable guide to medieval gallantry, "The Troubadors". Two couples, dressed as Cupid, Mercy, Loyalty and Chastity would lead a parade of couples around the town, accompanied by trumpeters and banner-bearers.
The procession would end at the local Hotel, where the celebrants performed a "mass" dedicated to the worship of Love. At the close of the ceremony, the couples dispersed, and a silver casket containing the names of all gentlemen present was presented to the ladies.
Each lady drew a slip, and Cupid then brought the ladies together with their chosen gentlemen. The newly formed couples were declared Valentines for the year. Gentlemen were required to be faithful to their ladies for the next twelve months, to provide their ladies with abundant flowers throughout the period, to offer regular gifts to their ladies, to escort their ladies wherever they so desired, to make songs and poems or to engage in jousts in her honor, and to guard her honor jealously. Marriage of any pair of Valentines was strictly forbidden.
As we celebrate today's secular version of Valentine's Day, let us all meditate upon the origins of the Feast, and celebrate the mysteries of Love and Life that are the traditional domain of the Goddess and the traditional rewards to those gallant gentle men whose spiritual veneration of the female principle provided entire medieval communities with the blessings of courtly love and chivalric romance, and served as a potent counterweight to the patriarchal, martial values of the feudal society, structured and stratified according to bloodline, personal battle skills and the ability to field a force of loyal soldiers in the quest for ever more lands to govern and control.
If you are interested in finding your soulmate, learning to live compatibly with your soulmate, or in learning to achieve loving Union with the Divine as an individual, you might enjoy learning more about the Spiritual Laws of Love on this St. Valentine's Day.
Jane and I are writing a free online e-book, Back to the Garden: Cultivating Love in Our Lives, and the first several profusely illustrated chapters are online now.
In our book, you will read the true story of the Garden of Eden, explore the true nature of the original sin of egoism, and discover how to surrender to the Higher Self. Find out about the root cause of the war between the sexes and how it is fueled by karma, egotism, and the tragic nature of romantic love. Discover strategies for building love partnerships that last, based upon equality and unconditional love. Learn about the pathway back to the Garden of Eden and uncover the hidden mythology of sexual balance and sexual partnership that provides the spiritual foundation for the dawning Age of Aquarius. It's a Valentine's Day treat for lovers everywhere.
Shivratri
In Hinduism, February is the month for celebrating Divine Love manifested in the creative energies of male and female union, represented by the Divine Soulmates, Shiva and Shakti.
Thursday, February 15 is the Hindu Feast of "MahaShivratri", which means, "The Night of Shiva". Shiva is the third person in the Hindu Trinity of Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva, analogous in some ways to the Holy Spirit.
Brahman is the name for the transcendent Divine principle, the ultimate, unchanging reality, composed of pure being and consciousness. Brahman lies behind the apparent multiplicity of the phenomenal world, and is ultimately identical to the "atman" or inner essence of the human being.
Vishnu is known as the Preserver and is identified with his many Avatars, who incarnate as human beings over many lifetimes, to protect humanity from its own folly and to provide help and guidance in furtherance of humanity's spiritual evolution. These Avatars include Krishna, Ram, Buddha and others.
Shiva is known as the Destroyer, and he is the Deity who is responsible for the destruction and creation of the Universe. As the primordial Deity, he is responsible for creating the other members of the Hindu Trinity by his thoughts during meditation. He is also the patron Deity of Yoga, and as such he destroys the illusions of the mind, purifies the heart of all negative emotions and grants Enlightenment to his devotees.
When Shiva was born from the Void, he immediately appeared as twin manifestations, both male and female. Shiva is and always has been inseparable from his Cosmic Consort, known as Paravati, Devi or Shakti. Shiva represents form, Shakti represents energy. Shiva represents consciousness, Shakti represents bliss.
The Cosmic Marriage of Shiva and Shakti sustains Universal creation. For the yogi, the cosmic marriage is the Union of the mind with the Higher Self, the moment when the Shakti energy known as kundalini rises from the base of the spine and enters the head, conferring enlightenment.
Shiva and Shakti are the First Soulmates, and their Eternal Dance of Joy is the ecstatic playfulness that continuously propels creative evolution in all its manifestations in all the worlds.
On Shivratri, devotees of Lord Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, Sexuality and Transcendence, stay up all night, deep in meditation and prayer. They make offerings at their home altars, and ask the Lord of Creative Destruction to fulfill their heart's desire. Although fearsome to the uninitiated, Lord Shiva is known to his devotees as a kind and generous deity, open-handed with those who acknowledge him and ever-ready to bestow great boons upon all those who approach him with an open heart.
In the Puranas, a collection of Hindu sacred texts, Shiva tells the Divine Mother, his wife Paravati, that Shivratri is particularly dear to him, and that those who perform the prescribed austerities on this day will be freed from all sins.
"The 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun, is my most favorite day," Shiva told his wife Paravati. "It is known as Shivratri. My devotees give me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths and offerings of flowers, sweets and incense."
The quintessential story about Shiva's gracious nature is told on Shivratri. There was once a poor hunter named Suswara who lived in Varanasi. Situated on the crescent shaped left bank of the holy Ganga, Varanasi is one of the ancient seats of learning in India. Varanasi is a great religious center for Hindus and one of their most sacred places of pilgrimage, being visited by millions of people every year. At a distance of 12 km from Varanasi lies Sarnath, where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon. Here he revealed the eight fold path that leads to the attainment of inner peace, Enlightenment and Ultimate Nirvana.
Suswara, however, was no Brahmin citydweller; he lived a simple life with his wife and children in a small hut. Suswara was no vegetarian, and therefore certainly no yogi, for yogis are vegetarians. Suswara fed his family by hunting small game in the forest surrounding his home.
Hunting small game means you have very little to put by for times when hunting is bad; it's a hand to mouth existence. One day, when Suswara had some success hunting, his bag was growing full of small birds and animals. Wanting to extend his successful day, he wandered deeper into the forest, until darkness found him many miles from home. Suswara decided to climb a tall tree, in order to hide from predators during the long and dangerous night.
Attracted by his scent, some carnivorous beasts surrounded his tree. Suswara threw twigs down at them to discourage them, but they remained close by. Suswara was understandably nervous throughout the night, and couldn't sleep a wink. He continued to toss leaves and twigs down from his perch in the tree, hoping to discourage the beasts below. Meanwhile, he cried from time to time as he thought of his family with great love and devotion and hoped to be reunited with them.
Unknown to Suswara, he was fulfilling the requirements for an exacting form of Shiva puja (or offering) on the sacred night of Shivratri. The tree Suswara was camping out in was a Bilva (or bael) tree, sacred to Shiva. The tripartite leaves of the Bilva tree and the fruit of the tree are part of well-known cures used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Suswara was unknowingly tossing these sacred leaves, dear to Shiva, down on a Shivalingam, or sacred oval stone, which lay at the base of this sacred tree all night long. Suswara had been watering the Shivalingam with his tears.
Thus Suswara was unconsciously performing the ceremony of Shivratri, making offerings to Shiva all night long. Shiva appeared to Suswara at dawn.
The story is an allegory of the search for enlightenment. The hunter represents the devotee searching for enlightenment. The forest represents the jungle of the egoistical personality, containing the mind, with its conscious and unconscious desires, which can lead a man to act like a wild beast in pursuit of transitory pleasures, and the jungle is also the home of the untamed emotions, lust, envy, greed, jealously, anger and pride, which can consume a man's heart and soul like wild beasts.
These wild beasts living within the human being must be subdued by transcending the egoistical personality. In the allegory, Suswara performed this difficult feat by climbing the sacred tree. There is yet a deeper esoteric meaning to this story.
According to Sri Swami Sivananda, "The tree represents the spinal column. The leaves of the tree are threefold. They represent the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis, which are the regions for the activity of the moon, the sun and fire respectively, or which may be thought of as the three eyes of Shiva. The climbing of the tree is meant to represent the ascension of the Kundalini Shakti, the serpentine power, from the lowest nerve centre called the Muladhara (the base of the spine) to the Ajna Chakra (the third eye). That is the work of the Yogi."
The spinal column is identified with Shiva in yogic texts, and the kundalini energy which rises up the spinal column during the process of yogic enlightenment is identified with Shiva's wife, Paravati, also known as Shakti, or Devi. At dawn, Suswara achieved enlightenment as a result of his performance of the nightlong Shivratri puja, although he had no conscious awareness of what he was doing. Similarly, spiritual aspirants must work diligently throughout their lives, responding to the necessities of life, and through the grace of the Divine, they may achieve enlightenment, despite their ignorance of Divine Wisdom.
Sri Swami Sivananda says that Suswara's "wife and children are none other than the world. One who seeks the Grace of God must become an embodiment of love. He must have an all-embracing sympathy. His shedding of tears is symbolical of his universal love. In Yoga also, one cannot have illumination without Divine Grace. Without practicing universal love, one cannot win that Grace."
Suswara went home the next day, and when he arrived he sold the animals he had killed and obtained food more suitable for a yogi, with which to feed his family. In doing this, he accrued more spiritual benefits for himself and his family. Before he could sit down to eat, a stranger passing by asked for something to eat. He fed the stranger, even before feeding himself and his family, and achieved yet more spiritual benefits by this act of generosity.
When Suswara died, he went immediately to the abode of Shiva, and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. Then, thanks to the grace of Lord Shiva and because of the spiritual benefits he had obtained through his Shivratri puja and his generosity, he was reborn as King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa.
Those who wish to participate in a Shivratri ritual, should remember that Lord Shiva finds the offering of an open heart in meditation more valuable than any ceremonial offerings of precious liquids, herbs, gemstones or gold.
There is a simple Shivratri meditation that anyone can do. Simply sit and calm the mind. If you like, light a candle to symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit, Mother Kundalini. You may also light some incense as an offering to the Divine, and to create an energetic pathway to Higher Worlds so your meditation will be heard.
Breathe in deeply from the diaphragm to the count of five. Breathe out deeply to a count of seven. Continue doing this several times, until you can simply breathe deeply in and out without counting.
Recite the mantra, "Aum Namah Shivayah", pronounced "OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy-Yah". Chant, "OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy-yah, OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy-yah, OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy-yah, OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy, OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy, OM, Nah-mah, Shee-vy". Then start over.
Aum Namah Shivayah means, "Adoration of Shiva", and is also translated as "I honor the Divine within". Om (Aum) means universal truth and knowledge. In saying Om, everything is encompassed independent of time. Om is the essence of all that is sacred. Nama means to bow or honor and Shivaya refers to Shiva. Shiva means purity and as we chant his name we are purified.
The sound of this mantra is said to emulate the sound of Spirit rushing down from the Higher Self into the mind. Chanting the mantra creates a channel so Spirit can flow into you from the Source of all creation. You can float upstream on the stream of sound created by chanting this mantra, and eventually you will wind up at the Source itself.
If you would like to learn more about meditation, please visit our Meditation Resources Homepage. If you would like to learn more about yoga and yogic wisdom school teachings, or if you would like to discover more about the spiritual path of yoga, about yoga teachers or yoga schools, please visit our Yoga Resources Homepage.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
The Lunar New Year is known in China as The Spring Festival. According to the Wikipedia's comprehensive account of the 15 day Chinese New Year festival, "in ancient China, the nian, a man-eating beast from the mountains, could silently infiltrate houses to prey on humans. The people later learned that the nian was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the color red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guo nian, which means to celebrate the new year, literally means the passing of the nian beast".
The first day of the Chinese lunar year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February and always begins on the New Moon. On the Chinese calendar, 2007 is Lunar Year 4704-4705. On the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on February 18, 2007- The Year of the Fire Pig.
If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 or 1995 - you were born under the sign of the pig. The pig is highly regarded for chivalry and pureness of heart. For pigs in 2007, any recent setbacks or obstacles can be overcome so look forward to a year in which to really shine, either personally or professionally.
According to Chinese Astrologer Richard Giles, "Each year, the elemental influence of the year changes, and this year we will experience a combination of Fire and Water. There are Five elements in the Chinese system: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, with each successive element supporting the next. Across the five, however, they clash and Fire and Water do not sit well together. This year the element is Yin Fire, which is more powerful than Yang Fire. Yin Fire symbolizes emotions, tension, agitation and illusions. Underneath is Yin Water. Resulting from this combination will be many conflicts over politics, government and also authorities imposing their will onto the people. Yin Fire is also very explosive and symbolizes firearms. The AK47 assault rifle, a deadly weapon, was designed and began production in 1947, the last Fire Pig year."
Richard says that the forecast for "2007 is a mixed one with the year being ruled by the Fire element in Chinese and the Pig being ruled by Water element. With Fire and Water together it's going to be a struggle, as one is inimically the enemy of the other. Fire is on top this year with Water below - and Fire cannot burn without support. When Fire and Water clash, they either result in lots of scalding hot steam and explosions or they can transform whatever situation it was into something completely different."
"Previous Fire Pig years have been very dangerous, with much political to-ing and fro-ing, plus lots of upheavals. Other Fire Pig years were 1947 and 1887. In 1947 the separation of India and Pakistan took place and, although it was negotiated well, the two countries tried to move 4 million Hindus and Muslims between borders. By the end of the year, the two were at war."
In this tumultuous year of the Fire Pig, may each of you receive the Grace and Guidance you require to achieve your highest spiritual goals, just as Suswara did on Shivatri thousands of years ago! May you each have love in your life, and may that love grow and deepen into contact with the Source of Divine Love that sustains the Universe.
Top Satya Center Stories of the Week

"Traveling with the Big Dipper", by Taoist Healer Claire C. Cunneen, is a poetic reminiscence of a transcendent moment spent communing with the stars while traveling at 30,000 feet in a hermetically sealed flying machine -- proof that we can connect with nature even in the most unnatural of surroundings.

"As a natural energy cultivator and practicing Chi healer, I have practiced for a long time communing directly with nature to find deep knowledge, support, inspiration and healing, and I continue to find inexhaustible bounty in the energies of the sun, moon and stars, mountains, rivers, trees, rocks and simple hills," Claire explains. "However, this travel with the Big Dipper allowed for a profound recognition that the natural sky may help all of us strengthen our personal 'axis' and cultivate the natural universal wisdom that is so urgently needed at this time."

"Go With the Flow", by Washington, D.C. based astrologer and political commentator Nancy Sommers, analyzes Bush's failing Iraq strategy and pinpoints coming political flashpoints using astrology.
"Unfortunately, the Bush administration's present policy in Iraq is much like an attempt to force a river to reverse course," Nancy explains. "Disbanding the militias, trying to prevent the growing partnership between the Shia majority and its natural ally Shiite Iran, and refusing to acknowledge the increasing separation of the three indigenous ethnic groups are all policies doomed to failure. They each push fruitlessly against the momentum of events."
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old: Understanding Muslim Extremism", by international peace activist, healer and visionary Palden Jenkins, brings a first-hand account of the positive side of the political ferment occurring on the Arab street and in the Arab bazaar throughout the Middle East. If we are to have peace between America and Muslim countries, we must, above all, attempt to understand what is going on in those countries from the point of view of the great mass of their people, especially the youth, who outnumber the members of the authoritarian ruling classes who rule these aging gerontocracies. Although it is unreported in the Western media, there is hope, and a deep desire for change, and for peace, among disaffected Muslim youth around the world.
"To Westerners preoccupied with terrorism and insurgency - that is, assaults on our sense of order and control - what is not seen is the revival of love, humanity and spirituality lying behind Middle Eastern movements at the grassroots level," says Palden.
"Damazhon Mojo", by Mongolian Native-American Shaman Jade Wah'oo Grigori, explains how healers in his tradition of Neo-Archaic Ecstatic Shamanism work with nature spirits to help people live better lives.
"Damazhon are Spirits that typically flit about around those places we recognize as being sacred: springs, caves, vortices and the like," Jade recounts. A Shaman creates a Damazhon Mojo to help recipients find their path in life, for vitality, clarity, health, or spiritual protection.
"You're Doubtful About America's Moral Degradation? Did You See Those Superbowl Ads?" by philosopher and author Andrew Bard Schmookler, tackles the thorny cultural issue of advertising's negative effects on the American psyche.
Andrew asks, "Did you watch the ads on the Super Bowl? With a few exceptions, it seemed to me, these ads constituted a barrage of high-violence, high-conflict, occasionally sadistic mini-dramas, conveying the idea that life is war and cruelty and cheating are funny, or at least the way of the world."
Your editor Curtis Lang has posted three new stories about Reiki, the Japanese system of spiritual advancement and energy healing that has taken America �C and the world �C by storm the last few years.
Reiki practitioners and all those interested in learning more about this exciting practice will enjoy reading:
"What is Reiki"
"The History of Reiki"
and "Meditations on The Five Reiki Principles"

We are honored to introduce a new Sound Healer Practitioner who has joined the Satya Center community of healers in our alt.healer directory. Meet Deborah Thurlow, musician, recording artist & certified Sound Healer who practices in New Jersey. Deborah says, "Being a musician has enhanced my ability to work with the frequencies of the tuning forks. My intentions are to make you feel good in both body and spirit." 

Top Spiritual Stories From Around the Web
JohnDear.org
Jesus' Last Words to the Church
BY REV. JOHN DEAR
This past spring, I received an invitation to meet the organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast, an evangelical Christian organization that brings together the president, members of Congress and the Supreme Court, and virtually every putative Christian in the government.
Mother Theresa famously addressed the gathering in the early '90s and fiercely denounced abortion. This year, Bono gave an equally forceful address, calling upon the government to end AIDS, HIV and extreme poverty in Africa.
There was some discussion that they might invite me to speak. Unlikely. An ex-con and long-time anti-war activist, they'll never tolerate my addressing the evangelicals in the government about the Gospel of Jesus.
Nonetheless, I was glad to meet the coordinator- for decades Billy Graham's assistant and organizer- because I heard such good things about him.
He felt passionately about the Gospel of Jesus. Turns out, he had spent a great deal of time with Mother Theresa and made retreats at the Abbey of Gethsemani- two things we shared in common. I liked him immensely.
But what does one say to such a prestigious Christian? I heard he had a few things to discuss, but I wanted to get right to the point. We shook hands and I asked him, "As the soldiers approached Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemani, what last words did he say to the church?ï"
My new friend looked at me. He didn't know.
"Put down the sword." Jesus spent his life teaching and practicing creative nonviolence, I explained. He commanded us to love our enemies and become blessed peacemakers.
Dhushara.com
The Greening of the Self
Macey, Joanna 1991 World as Lover, World as Self,
Parallax Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-938077-27-9
Extract of: The Greening of the Self from "World as Lover World as Self" Joanna Macey
Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time, and it is one of the reasons I am so glad to be alive today. It has to do with what is occurring to the notion of the self.
The self is the metaphoric construct of identity and agency, the hypothetical piece of turf on which we construct our strategies for survival, the notion around which we focus our instincts for self-preservation, our needs for self-approval, and the boundaries of our self-interest. Something is shifting here.
The conventional notion of the self with which we have been raised and to which we have been conditioned by mainstream culture is being undermined. What Alan Watts called "the skin-encapsulated ego" and Gregory Bateson referred to as "the epistemological error of Occidental civilization' is being unhinged, peeled off. It is being replaced by wider constructs of identity and self-interest-by what you might call the ecological self or the eco-self, co-extensive with other beings and the life of our planet. It is what I will call "the greening of the self.'
At a recent lecture on a college campus, I gave the students examples of activities which are currently being undertaken in defense of life on Earth-actions in which people risk their comfort and even their lives to protect other species. In the Chipko, or tree-hugging, movement in north India, for example, villagers fight the deforestation of their remaining woodlands. On the open seas, Greenpeace activists are intervening to protect marine mammals from slaughter. After that talk, I received a letter from a student I'll call Michael. He wrote:
I think of the tree-huggers hugging my trunk, blocking the chain saws with their bodies. I feel their fingers digging into my bark to stop the steel and let me breathe. I hear the bodhisattvas in their rubber boats as they put themselves between the harpoons and me, so I can escape to the depths of the sea. I give thanks for your life and mine, and for life itself. I give thanks for realizing that I too have the powers of the tree-huggers and the bodhisattvas.
What is striking about Michael's words is the shift in identification. Michael is able to extend his sense of self to encompass the self of the tree and of the whale.
Plants With Eyes - A completely mesmerizing video! You'll feel like you are meeting your green neighbors for the first time...and you'll realize they appear to be sentient beings just like you!
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
A Human Approach to World Peace
By His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
I am sure that many people share my concern about the present worldwide moral crisis and will join in my appeal to all humanitarians and religious practitioners who also share this concern to help make our societies more compassionate, just, and equitable. I do not speak as a Buddhist or even as a Tibetan. Nor do I speak as an expert on international politics (though I unavoidably comment on these matters). Rather, I speak simply as a human being, as an upholder of the humanitarian values that are the bedrock not only of Mahayana Buddhism but of all the great world religions. From this perspective I share with you my personal outlook - that:
1. Universal humanitarianism is essential to solve global problems;
2. Compassion is the pillar of world peace;
3. All world religions are already for world peace in this way, as are all humanitarians of whatever ideology;
4. Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.
Energy Bulletin
Published on 5 Feb 2007 by Transition Culture. Archived on 5 Feb 2007.
Peter Russell on life after oil, change and consciousness:
Living in the Age of Spiritual Emergency

by Rob Hopkins
What do you see as being the key aspects of the challenge facing us?
I see a key challenge is the psychological challenge, the mental challenge of making those inner adjustments. How do we let go of the habitual ways of doing things, let go of past way of solving problems to look at things with completely fresh eyes, because I think we're going to be in completely new situations which we've never encountered before and the ways of the past are not really appropriate.
So I think that ability to let go, to really think afresh, is going to be absolutely critical. And that's really challenging, because we don't know how to do it, and it's scary. And with that, I think also, how do we manage our fears? Or not create too many fears because I think that's what holds us back from making change very often. It's like, we may know what to do and we may have the means to do it, but we start resisting it because we don't want to- ­it's scary - we're going to make ourselves feel uncomfortable, at risk.
It could be not just material risk but how we feel - it could be uncomfortable. We get scared, and so I think we need to know how to work with our fears, not create them so much. I think these inner dimensions are really important and also developing an inner stability, because what we're going to see is unexpected things coming faster and faster and faster, and if we're in a vulnerable state ourselves, we're going to be easily thrown by them and get emotionally upset, or panicky, whatever. And I think if we can just really develop a stable core through ourselves, that can help see us through so that we can move through the winds of change as they come.
For many people when the reality of climate change and peak oil first sink in, they often go through something which is quite similar to a dark night of the soul, or what Stanislav Grof calls a Spiritual Emergency. What advice would you have for people when they get in to that state of really seeing, really sensing how impermanent everything is around them?
To really open up to that sense, to that feeling. It's hard because our habitual reaction to some uncomfortable perception or feeling is to shy away from it, to push it away. But I think in these situations that's the wrong thing. When we're feeling whatever it is, how our whole world view has suddenly been spun around, or we're in shock, or outraged, or disappointed, whatever it is, to get in touch with those feelings - and this is just a universal principle of life - to get in touch with what it actually is we're feeling here, there's a sort of metabolism of feeling that happens, when you start getting in touch with what it is you open up to it, you feel it.
Initially it may seem even more devastating, stronger, whatever, but by getting in touch with it, something begins to happen. It's like the psyche works with it and it begins to work its way through. So it's the opposite of what we tend to do which is a suppressing and keeping down of it, but to actually open up to whatever the feelings are and feel them, write about them, talk about them with your friends, just anything just to express the feelings. That's the principle thing.
Astro-Noetics.com
The Age of Aquarius: The Outpouring of the Archetypal Realm
By Bill Streett
If we use the markers of the Age of Pisces and Age of Aquarius as arbitrary frames for epochs of time, we are able to see a transition of consciousness which is metaphorically captured in the symbols of Aquarius and Pisces. One thing that becomes evident is that the Piscine Age was one in which groups of people poured their heart, soul, energy, and faith into stories and narratives.
Although great things were accomplished with such unyielding faith in the power of story, certainly the disadvantage of such zealous emotional attachment to story was that it divided people, often resulting in untold human tragedy and crimes committed against nature. The alleged Aquarian Age is supposed to rectify all this ; it is to be an epoch of harmony, peace, and understanding. People are to value and respect difference- as opposed to the Piscine strategy of marginalizing and destroying difference if it conflicts with a certain story.
How, then, will this rectification occur? It seems that the only real answer is that there will be a fundamental change in consciousness. The specifics of this turn in consciousness are captured beautifully when contrasting the symbols of Pisces and Aquarius.
Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center
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Top News Stories From Around the Web
AsiaTimesOnline
Jan 31, 2007
Bush's three-front blunder
By Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - US President George W Bush's State of the Union address appears to confirm other indications in recent weeks that he is not merely sending more troops to Iraq to do more of the same, but has adopted a new strategy of fighting all three major Iraqi Arab political-military forces simultaneously.
Bush hinted strongly that he has decided to make Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army a major military target of the increased US troop presence in Baghdad, while continuing to wage war against both al-Qaeda and its Sunni extremist allies, on one hand, and the non-jihadi Sunni resistance, on the other.
Two weeks before the January 23 State of the Union speech, Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the No 2 US commander in Iraq, told reporters he wanted to use most of the additional 21,500 troops to launch a new military push against both Sunni and Shi'ite militias in Baghdad.
The new policy appears to have been prompted by both the need to demonstrate to the US public that the administration is doing something different and to use force against a presumed ally of Iran in the region. But it means that the United States is now planning to fight what is in essence a three-front war without any reliable Iraqi Arab ally. Only the Kurds can be counted on to cooperate with the US military in such a war, because of their reliance on US support for their aspirations for quasi-independence.
AsiaTimesOnline
Jan 26, 2007
Middle East's cold war heats up
By Iason Athanasiadis
TEHRAN - After several months of faint rumblings, a US-led, Middle East-wide alliance of conservative Sunni and secular Muslim states marshaled against Iran is starting to take shape, to the deepening discomfort of the Iranian theocracy. Leading countries in this alliance are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
Gary Sick, a US foreign-policy analyst who served on the National Security Council under US presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter
and Ronald Reagan, pointed out the rationale behind the alliance: "By removing the Taliban [from Afghanistan], Iran's greatest threat to the east, and then removing the government of Saddam Hussein, its deadly enemy to the west, and finally installing an Iran-friendly Shi'ite government in Baghdad for the first time in history, the US virtually assured that Iran - essentially without raising a finger - would emerge as a power center rivaled only by Israel."
Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion
Sunday, February 11, 2007
NYT Falls for Bogus Iran Weapons Charges
Completely Implausible Numbers are Thrown Around
Repeat of Judy Miller Scandal

by Juan Cole

This NYT article depends on unnamed USG sources who alleged that 25 percent of US military deaths and woundings in Iraq in October-December of 2006 were from explosively formed penetrator bombs fashioned in Iran and given to Shiite militias:
' In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.'
This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.--and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers.
Counterpunch
January 31, 2007
Resistance to Imperialism
What is the Decisive "Clash" of Our Time?

By JEAN BRICMONT
July 1, 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. On that single day, the British suffered more than 50,000 casualties, of which 20,000 died. The battle went on for four months, leading to about a million casualties on all sides, and the war itself continued for another two years.
In the summer of 2006, the Israeli army stopped its attacks on Lebanon after losing about a hundred soldiers. The majority of the U.S. population has turned against the Iraq war after less than 3,000 dead. That indicates a major change in the mentality of the West, and this reluctance to die in large numbers for "God and Country" is a major advance in the history of mankind. From the neoconservative point of view, however, this phenomenon is a sign of decadence; in fact, one of the positive aspects of the present conflict, from their perspective, is that it ought to strengthen the moral fiber of the American people, by making them ready to "die for a cause."
But, so far, it is not working. More realistic people, the planners at the Pentagon for example, have tried to replace waves of human cannon fodder by massive "strategic" bombing. This works only rarely -- in Kosovo and Serbia it did succeed, at least in bringing pro-Western clients to power in both places. But it clearly is not working satisfactorily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine or Lebanon. The only thing that might succeed, in a very special sense of course, would be nuclear weapons, and the fact that those weapons are the West's last military hope is truly frightening.
Guardian UK
Sen. Clinton: Iran Is a Threat to Israel
Friday February 2, 2007 1:01 PM
By SAMANTHA GROSS
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Calling Iran a danger to the U.S. and one of Israel's greatest threats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that ``no option can be taken off the table'' when dealing with that nation.
``U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons,'' Clinton told a crowd of Israel supporters. ``In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table.''
Clinton, D-N.Y., spoke at a Manhattan dinner held by the nation's largest pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Some 1,700 supporters applauded as she cited her efforts on behalf of the Jewish state and spoke scathingly of Iran's decision to hold a conference last month that questioned whether the Holocaust took place.
The Sunday Times
Hillary runs for the White House as ��new Thatcher��
Sarah Baxter, Washington, January 21, 2007
HILLARY CLINTON is to be presented as America's Margaret Thatcher as she tries to become the first woman to win the White House. As she entered the 2008 presidential race yesterday, a senior adviser said that her campaign would emphasise security, defence and personal strengths reminiscent of the Iron Lady.
"Their policies are totally different but they are both perceived as very tough," said Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign chairman. "She is strong on foreign policy. People have got to know you are going to keep them safe."
Counterpunch, February 8, 2007
It Only Takes ONE Courageous Senator to Lead the Way, & 41 Senate Votes to End the War. Filibuster to End the War Now!
By JOHN V. WALSH
We hear over and over again that it "takes 60 votes to get something serious done in the Senate." That is a lot of malarkey. It takes only one senator to begin a filibuster against any bill. And then it takes only 41 votes to uphold that filibuster and prevent any proposed law from coming to the floor.
Thus, the present authorization for defense funding in the coming fiscal year can be stopped cold if it contains funds for the war on Iraq. And this can be done by just one courageous Senator, backed by 40 colleagues.
Let me propose the following scenario. Just one Senator, Ted Kennedy or Russ Feingold or Robert Byrd, arises in the Senate and declares that he will filibuster the present defense authorization bill if it contains funds for the war on Iraq or Iran. That bill is then dead unless there are 60 votes (3/5 of the 100 Senators) to end the debate, i.e., to invoke cloture. That is it. Bush no longer has the funds to prosecute the war. He has to come back with a funding bill acceptable to the 41.
At the same time the filibustering Senator could put forth a resolution similar to Congressman McGovern's in the House, which is aptly named "The Safe and Orderly Withdrawal Act." It provides funds to ensure the withdrawal of U.S, forces from Iraq in a way that guarantees their safety, and no other funding for the war. If the opponents of our hypothetical, courageous Senator wish to oppose such legislation, let them go on record in so doing. They are then on record as refusing funds to bring the troops safely home.
Harper's Magazine
Republic or Empire
A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2007. Originally from January 2007. By Chalmers Johnson.
The United States remains, for the moment, the most powerful nation in history, but it faces a violent contradiction between its long republican tradition and its more recent imperial ambitions.
The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.
Several factors, however, indicate that this course will be a brief one, which most likely will end in economic and political collapse.
Vanity Fair
Washington's $8 Billion Shadow
By Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele -- Vanity Fair contributing editors, February 2007
One of the great staples of the modern Washington movie is the dark and ruthless corporation whose power extends into every cranny around the globe, whose technological expertise is without peer, whose secrets are unfathomable, whose riches defy calculation, and whose network of allies, in and out of government, is held together by webs of money, ambition, and fear. You've seen this movie a dozen times. Men in black coats step from limousines on wintry days and refer guardedly to unspeakable things. Surveillance cameras and eavesdropping devices are everywhere. Data scrolls across the movie screen in digital fonts. Computer keyboards clack softly. Seemingly honorable people at the summit of power- Cabinet secretaries, war heroes, presidents"turn out to be pathetic pawns of forces greater than anyone can imagine. And at the pinnacle of this dark and ruthless corporation is a relentless and well-tailored titan- omniscient, ironic, merciless- played by someone like Christopher Walken or Jon Voight.
To be sure, there isn't really such a corporation: the Omnivore Group, as it might be called. But if there were such a company-and, mind you, there isn't- it might look a lot like the largest government contractor you've never heard of: a company known simply by the nondescript initials SAIC (for Science Applications International Corporation), initials that are always spoken letter by letter rather than formed into a pronounceable acronym. SAIC maintains its headquarters in San Diego, but its center of gravity is in Washington, D.C. With a workforce of 44,000, it is the size of a full-fledged government agency- in fact, it is larger than the departments of Labor, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development combined.
. . .It is a simple fact of life these days that, owing to a deliberate decision to downsize government, Washington can operate only by paying private companies to perform a wide range of functions. To get some idea of the scale: contractors absorb the taxes paid by everyone in America with incomes under $100,000. In other words, more than 90 percent of all taxpayers might as well remit everything they owe directly to SAIC or some other contractor rather than to the IRS.
truthout
The Social Security WMD Story
By Dean Baker
Tuesday 23 January 2007
We all remember President Bush's false claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. These claims were the basis for getting the country into the Iraq War, a disaster with no obvious end in sight. The same sorts of claims are being made about Social Security, with the goal of inflicting a similar disaster on the country's workers and retirees.
Just to get the facts straight, according to the projections from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Social Security can pay all scheduled benefits until 2046 with no changes whatsoever. CBO projects that even if nothing is ever done, the program could continue to pay almost 80 percent of scheduled benefits forever, providing retirees in the second half of this century with benefits that are far higher than today's seniors receive. In short, the idea that Social Security is about to go bankrupt - that there will be "nothing there" for young workers - is nonsense, as everyone familiar with the projections knows.
But, we keep hearing the drumbeat about Social Security's looming bankruptcy for the same reason that we heard the stories about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction: powerful interests - who, in this case, want to gut and/or privatize the program. The financial industry could make a fortune in fees and commissions if they could ever get their hands on Social Security.
AlterNet
Government Food Safety System a Sham
By Jason Mark, AlterNet. Posted January 25, 2007.

A new federal program for livestock tracking will benefit big corporations, threaten small producers and do nothing to protect consumer health. Located south of the tiny town of Tarpley, Texas, Debbie Davis's Seco Valley Ranch is something of a model farm. On her 1,800-acre spread, Davis grazes 225 longhorn cattle, every one of which she closely monitors so that she can better manage the herd and its health. Davis' meat is prized in the supermarkets of Austin and San Antonio, where her grass-fed, pastured beef sells for a premium. In many ways, Davis is the very ideal of a local entrepreneur -- profitable and secure, succeeding on her own terms.
Which is why it angers Davis so much when she considers the government's plans to institute a "National Animal Identification System" that will give a 15-digit tracking number to every cow, chicken, pig, turkey, goat, sheep and horse in the United States to trace animals' every move from birth until slaughter. The federal government and large meat producers are promoting the ID system -- usually referred to by its acronym, "NAIS" -- as a way to better control animal disease outbreaks. But the plan has small and organic ranchers in an uproar. They complain that the animal tracking system will place an undue burden on their operations, giving the biggest meat producers additional economic advantages in an already highly consolidated industry.
"It really does feel like Big Brother," rancher Davis said in a recent interview. "The proposal is that I report every animal I have, every time an animal is born, every time an animal dies, and every time I move an animal from my property. ... There's a lot of expense for everyone. The ones who are going to get impacted are the little guys."
Apple News
Thoughts on Music
Steve Jobs
February 6, 2007
With the stunning global success of Apple's iPod music player and iTunes online music store, some have called for Apple to "open" the digital rights management (DRM) system that Apple uses to protect its music against theft, so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies, and protected music purchased from other online music stores can play on iPods.
. . .Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
Meditation Moment: Excerpt from Light of Consciousness-Journal of Spiritual Awakening

From "The Light that Awakens, a Guidebook to Higher Consciousness" by Swami Amar Jyoti

..."Each one of us has only one person to change and that person is at hand twenty-four hours a day, at our command. What beauty in God's mathematics! It comes to billions. If evreyone evolves to a higher consciousness- or even most of us- the world will change....

Long back I heard that whatever you want, let it start with you. What this means is that if something is structured in a way I do not like, I should then start with myself, seeing what I should change in myself. If any one of us wants peace in the world, let it start with our own peace of mind first.

I have learned this in my working: to do my duty, whatever it is; to have patience and compassion for all; where help is needed, help if possible, and wait for God to do the rest. You do not need to put everything on your head. It is when we carry everything on our own heads that we lose peace of mind. We can only do what we are able, given our capacities, propensities, temperament and nature. I undersand the revolutionary thinking to change the world. It is not the thought that is wrong but it does not work that way. There are many things we do not see because our minds are disturbed. When the mind is in a relaxed and peaceful condition you see clearly. With peace of mind, a settled attitude, you will have the answers. Let's start with our selves."...

To learn more about Swami Amar Jyoti & the Light of Consciousness, check out their website.