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Tongues of Fire: Pentecost, Kundalini and the Ways of the Holy Spirit

By Curtis Lang on May 9, 2005

Universal LIfe Force Energy: Science, Myth and Healing

Welcome to the May 9, 2005 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.

Here in Pleasantville, New York, spring has been late in coming, but today the sun is out, it’s warming up and medicinal and culinary herbs are gracing our meals and teapot. Plants finally have the right conditions for a growth spurt.

My wife Jane and I are also in the middle of a growth spurt.We are preparing some big changes for Satya Center, and we’re working night and day.

You may have noticed that lately our newsletters have dropped in frequency from once a week to one every two weeks or so. We will continue at about that pace through mid-July. In the next couple of weeks we’ll have some news for you about the transformations currently incubating here. Thanks for your continued interest!

This upcoming Sunday, May 15, we celebrate the Christian festival of Pentecost. Pentecost Sunday ends the season of Easter, falling on the “fiftieth” day after Passover, and the seventh Sunday after Easter.

According to the Bible, when Jesus appeared to his disciples following his Crucifixion, he told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for a very special initiation that had been prepared for them, “For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. . .You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me . . .even to the uttermost part of the earth.”

According to The Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, “When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place; and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them; And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues.” Jersualem was filled with people from Asia, Egypt, Parthia, Mesopotamia, Libya, Arabia, and elsewhere, and as the disciples roamed throughout the city speaking, each person heard the disciples in his or her native language. All those in the city marveled at this miracle, for the disciples were unlettered fishermen from Galilee.

What Divine Power of Illumination overshadowed these humble men, who had been too frightened at the time of Jesus’ execution to stand by him and proclaim his Divinity?

The miraculous events of Pentecost bear a startling resemblance to the signs of enlightenment discussed for thousands of years in the ancient Hindu tradition of yoga.

When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, they entered a higher state of consciousness, and traveled near and far, spreading their Teacher’s message of love fearlessly throughout the world. The Apostles healed many by prayer and the laying on of hands.

This was a clear example of simultaneous “kundaliniawakening. Kundalini is a Hindu term for Universal Life Force Energy. In the yogic tradition, spiritual teachers activate the kundalini energy coiled at the base of the spine, which lies dormant in their disciples, and in the bulk of humanity.

After a period of time, and with the proper guidance, a disciple who assiduously cultivates spiritual practices and lives a disciplined life may succeed in raising that kundalini energy, which travels up the spine, over time, eventually piercing the six lower chakras, coming to rest in the crown chakra at the top of the head.

When the yogic student succeeds in piercing the crown chakra, through the grace of the teacher, or Guru, and through personal effort, the disciple’s fiery life force energy, or kundalini, finally unites with the downpouring flow of Universal Life Force Energy from the Cosmic Source and enlightenment is obtained.In the yogic tradition this is known as the Union of Shiva and Shakti. The crown of the head is the site on the human body where the physico-chemical changes resulting in enlightenment occur. Often, the moment of enlightenment is accompanied by the noise of a great wind, according to yogic tradition.

In the yogic tradition, the enlightened ones transcend the limitations of the egoistic personality, and gain access to a Cosmic Consciousness that is all-knowing.

In the yogic tradition, enlightened ones obtain the ability to heal through the application of Universal Life Force Energy, to initiate others, and to work miracles, called “siddhis” by the Masters of Yogi.

The powers of the awakened Universal Life Force Energy would account for the ability of Jesus’ disciples to heal and work miracles. For Jesus’ disciples, the crown of the head was the spot where the Holy Spirit manifested as tongues of fire, accompanied by the sound of a great wind. From that moment on, the disciples spoke in many tongues and amazed sophisticated listeners with their subtle spiritual teachings.

Science of the Universal Life Force

But what is the scientific basis for such an energy to exist? Is this Universal Life Force Energy a metaphysical construct, a symbol, a myth?

On the contrary, we should ask ourselves if our common perceptions of reality create illusions that entrap us in a duality consciousness that is the only barrier between our every day state of being and the elevated state of enlightenment experienced by Yogic Masters and by the disciples of Jesus Christ on Pentecost. Perhaps our bodies and our egos are just an illusion, and the Universal Life Force Energy is the fundamental reality of existence.

Perhaps energy is the basic building block of everything in the perceptible Universe. If we could see the energy exchanges going on around us, we might live very different lives.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a yogi, a Pentecostal Minister or a modern energy healer such as a Reiki practitioner tuning in to a source of limitless energy and then using their intuition and intent to direct the energy therapeutically in an Eighteenth Century Newtonian Universe – the Universe of Physics 101, where atoms are modeled by billiard balls and it is assumed that every action and reaction under the Sun can be reduced to a series of neat diagrams and elegant mathematical equations.

Classical Newtonian physics assumes that the cosmos is composed primarily of emptiness – the vacuum of space, devoid of matter and energy. In the classical model the Universe is composed mainly of dead and death dealing space.

Classical physics also assumes that objects within this radically empty space are composed at the most basic level of matter, which has mass, and because of this intrinsic mass, matter tends to remain still or to remain in motion once moving. This is called the law of inertia.

These old scientific paradigms are being challenged by new discoveries and ancient wisdom that go a long way to explain the nature of Universal Life Force Energy, its orgin and its nature.

In the process, these new scientific paradigms show that energy is the fundamental source of all the matter in the Universe, including human beings. We are all beings of light.

Classical physics had taught us that matter is the basic building block of the Universe, that space is a vacuum, and that friction kills momentum.

An oscillating pendulum would eventually come to rest if not continuously energized by an outside force, such as a spring.

In the Twentieth Century, quantum physics theorized that all oscillators continue to “jiggle” randomly about their “resting point”, with a very small amount of energy always present.

Quantum physicists called the ground state of any oscillating system zero-point energy. The term “Zero Point Energy” refers to zero degrees Kelvin. Zero degrees Kelvin equals -214.7483648 degrees Fahrenheit, and is accepted as a symbolic representation for the absence of all heat, as in the “vacuum” of space.

Astrophysicists, following up the work of these quantum physicists researching the roots of inertia, found that the void of deep space is in fact a limitless self-sustaining source of Zero Point Energy. Zero Point Energy appeared to some astrophysicists to be the most ubiquitous energy in the Universe.

Nor is matter the fundamental building block of our Universe, as Newtonian physics had proclaimed. Instead Zero Point Energy, which is coterminous with the vast field of the Void in deep space, appears to be the true origin of all matter in the Cosmos.

In the 1930s, quantum physicists described the Void as a state of minimum energy where minute fluctuations of Zero Point Energy lead to constant formation of particle-antiparticle pairs.

Far from being dead and death-dealing, the “vacuum” of space was discovered to generate a low level of background energy and simultaneously to precipitate the energy particles that are the most basic, subatomic building blocks of matter.

Scientists today call this new, energetic version of deep space The Zero Point Field (ZPF).

Scientists differ about how much energy exists in the Zero Point Field, but Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and John Wheeler, one of Einstein’s protégés, calculate that there is enough of this Zero Point energy in the volume of a coffee cup to evaporate all the world’s oceans.

I propose that the Universal Life Force Energy, or Holy Spirit, also known as kundalini energy in the Yogic traditions of the East, originates in what some modern scientists describe as the Zero Point Fielda field of low-level energy filling the seemingly empty vastness of deep space.

Some scientists are beginning to see the Zero Point Field as a limitless Source of energy and even as the Source of all the matter in the Universe.

This radical view of the Universe gained ground in the 1990s, with the publication of the scientific work of American astrophysicists Hal Puthoff, Bernie Haisch, and Alfonso Rueda. Their research transcended the Newtonian model. According to Newton, matter is the fundamental building block of Nature, and possesses an innate mass, which can, however, be converted to energy. Puthoff, Haisch and Rueda took the opposite viewpoint. They see the entire Universe and all matter within it as a creation of light. Matter is an illusion, to these astrophysicists.

“Is matter an illusion? Is the universe floating on a vast sea of light, whose invisible power provides the resistance that gives to matter its feeling of solidity?” asks “Science and Spirit” magazine. “Astrophysicist Bernhard Haisch and his colleagues have followed the equations to some compelling -- and provocative – conclusions.”

Puthoff, Haisch and Rueda see “matter” as composed of subatomic light “particles” accelerating in a relative vacuum. A vacuum filled nonetheless with an ocean of background energy, called the Zero Point Field. Since the Zero Point Field varies in density from place to place, subatomic light particles encounter resistance from the Field as they travel, causing these accelerating particles to coalesce into more concentrated fields and forms, eventually creating “matter”.

This “matter”, or coalesced light, encounters increasing resistance from the Zero Point Field as it forms, creating what physicists call “inertia”.

In this view of reality, all objects, no matter how large, dense, or heavy, whether animate or inanimate, sentient or non-sentient, are composed of a collection of electrical charges interacting with a background sea of electromagnetic and other energy fields.

Einstein’s formula E=Mc2 treated matter and energy as two different types of things, showing that matter could be converted to energy and vice versa.

This new scientific hypothesis views matter as a form of energy arising from the Zero Point Field.

Mythology of the Zero Point Field

In this model of the Universe, the Zero Point Field (ZPF) is the Source of all creation. The Zero Point Field (ZPF) fills the cosmos, including what appears to the naked human eye as the vacuum between planets and stars. The ZPF permeates all space, and all animate and inanimate objects therein, connecting them to one another.

The ZPF is composed of visible and invisible light, of different wavelengths.

Resistance to the movement of subatomic particles/waves of light through the Zero Point Field is theorized to cause gravity, and to precipitate the coalescing of these particles/waves of light into what we call matter.

This Universal field of energy of various wavelengths, in its movement, as it generates gravitational and electromagnetic forces and fields, forms whirlpools of energy vast and small, creating galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets and even the life forms evolving on the planets thus created.

According to this new science, we are all beings of light, localized fields of crystallized Universal Life Force Energy, interconnected with all that exists by virtue of being contained within the larger Universal Field.

Scientists exploring this new model of the Universe find their vision converging with the ancient wisdom of mystical traditions found throughout the world.

In the Old Testament, God’s first words on Day One of Creation were “Let there be light!”

The Greek myth of the Goddess Gaia begins with an image of the Goddess whirling out of darkness, wrapped in flowing white veils.

Hindus view the original creation as swirls forming in a sea of milk, a metaphorical representation of an energy field precipitating matter from the Void.

The Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition that began around 538 B.C., refers to this same primal sea of energy as the astral light, or Ain Soph Aur.

The notion of Zero-Point Energy was in some ways a throwback to earlier models of the universe.

The idea of a universal field of energy had been accepted by every ancient culture on Earth.

Called Spirit, prana, chi, aether, or some other name, it was believed in many religious traditions to be the primordial energy that sparked and sustains all creation.

Not God or Goddess, but the breath of God, the Word of God, the aura of Goddess, the fundamental stuff out of which creation arises, and which infuses all creation with vitality.

Now, Western scientists are actively exploring the possibility that the Universal Life Force Energy Field exhibits a cosmic consciousness in addition to its other qualities.

The Universal Life Force Energy comprising the Zero Point Field might be God’s aura – the Holy Spirit.

Plato called this field the quintessence, and spoke of five elements, earth, air, fire, water and aether.

Plato and the other luminaries of Greek philosophy and spirituality, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Empedocles and Heraclitus may all have learned much from the ancient Yogic wisdom teachings of India, according to the most recent scholarly research, epitomized by Thomas McEvilley’s magisterial volume “The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies”.

In “The Timaeus”, Plato describes the physiology of sex and the proper application of soul power to obtain enlightenment. Plato says that “soul power” is actually a moist substance whose true home is the human brain, at the top of the head, where the higher soul resides. This “higher soul” or Higher Self transcends the human body, and the human ego, the personality of the individual.

The personality’s appetites and drives, its ego, are located in the “lower soul”, which is obsessed with bodily pleasures. It is the job of the spiritual student to surrender the activities of the lower soul in favor of the impulses of the higher soul.

The higher soul has only one desire – to be reunited with the World Soul, which, Plato says, is the proper and true form of “eros” or human love.

“When however, the soul is embodied,” says McEvilley, “and becomes subject to external influences through the channels of the senses, a degenerate form of desire for the One, and for immortality in the One, arises. Through the bewilderment of existing in time, the soul now mistakenly sees merging with the species as merging with the One, and desires to obtain immortality through offspring. Other factors enter also, such as seeing, in a sex object, the shadow of the Idea of Beauty, and mistakenly seeing the Idea in the shadow which stimulated memory of it. Thus the true eros, which is desire for supreme knowledge, freedom and eternality, is temporarily replaced by a false eros, which is sexual desire.”

Plato and the Yogis agree that the soul power, or kundalini, resides in the sexual secretions of men and women, the semen, as it were, and they agree further that the task of the spiritual student is to reverse the downward flow of the sexual liquid, forcing the semen upward through the spinal channel until it resides once again in the brain, at the top of the head.

McEvilley stresses that a clear line of diffusion for these spiritual concepts from the Hindu yogis to the Greek philosophers is difficult to trace, and notes that there is an even earlier antecedent for the idea of attaining enlightenment through a passage up the spine. In the Egyptian myth of Osiris, the dying and reborn god ascends to heaven over the spinal column of his mother, Nuit, the vertebrae being used as the rungs of a ladder. In fact, McEvilley traces the history of this iconography through Chinese alchemy, into mysterious Indus Valley seal images of the Hindu God Shiva, predating all written texts still in existence today, and all the way back to protoyogic elements of Australian aboriginal culture and pre-Columbian figurines. McEvilley finally concludes that the antiquity of the “marrow cults” describing spiritual enlightenment triggered by the activity of a hot liquid boiling up through the spinal channel into the brain exists as far back into pre-history as scholarship can trace the origins of Homo Erectus.

The wisdom teachings of the Renaissance magi, European yogis and adepts known as alchemists, speak in detail of the true nature of the Universal Energy Field and of its healing properties.

The legendary alchemist Hermes Trismegistus reveals many fundamental truths about the relationship between the human aura and the Universal Energy Field in his cryptic but illuminating work, The Emerald Tablets of Thoth, wherein the initiate discovers that the Logos, The Word of God in the Bible, is liquid living light. The Word, this liquid living light, is composed of cosmic consciousness, God’s Love. The Word is coterminous with the cosmos. In essence this Logos is God’s aura, and we all live within this loving, intelligent, beneficent field of Universal Life Force energy.

Hermes Trismegistus calls this conscious, liquid living light “The Strength of All Strengths”, “The One Thing”, the Mercury of the alchemists. Mercury’s nature is pure Love. On the physical plane, this energy manifests as sexual energy. On the mental and spiritual planes, Mercury appears as pure light or the Holy Spirit, who inhabited Christ’s disciples on Pentecost.

Alchemical mercury is equivalent to the kundalini energy Eastern adepts in the yoga tradition raise within themselves in the process of enlightenment. Kundalini energy is aroused at the base of the spine through love and compassion, elevated through purity to open the heart, and is there transformed into pure light, or the Holy Spirit, and raised to the crown of the head, conferring enlightenment, or Christ consciousness.

This in a nutshell is the story of Pentecost. The story of Pentecost is a timeless story indeed, and this story has been told and retold throughout time around the world, for as long as human beings could speak to one another.

Let us celebrate the essential oneness of the human spirit this Pentecost Sunday, and reflect upon the Unity of Creation.

May the Universal Life Force Energy bring you and your loved ones abundant health and well-being, wisdom and love this week. And may you obtain the grace and guidance you need to attain all your spiritual and material goals.

Top Satya Center Stories of the Week

Internationally renowned astrologer and Satya Center contributor Maya del Mar addresses the question “Is Social Security Broke?” from the point of view of politics and economics and looks at the birth chart of this New Deal pillar of American society.

“The answer is a resounding NO, contrary to what the right-wing spin doctors say,” Maya explains. “Look at the system's birthchart. Social Security is more stable than the NY Stock Exchange.”

Mongolian-Native American Shaman Jade Wah’oo Grigori, who conducts guided herbal tours of Peru for lucky small groups of travelers and spiritual students, tells the story of his first trip to Machu Picchu, during a Solar Eclipse in 1994, when he and a Peruvian shaman united their energies to fulfill an ancient prophecy, in this week’s article entitled “The Eagle of the North and the Condor of the South”.

The Wise One Jade calls the Old Man of Machu Picchu said at the time of their first, fortuitous meeting, "We Inkan people have a prophecy that when the Eagle of the North joins with the Condor of the South when the Inti Stone casts no shadow, then is the time to reveal the Teachings held secret by the Inkas for the last 500 years. The prophecy is now fulfilled!"

This year, in November, Jade is conducting a spiritual vision quest, an herbal tour of Peru, which will take the participants from the mountain heights of Machu Picchu to the spiritual heights of an Ayahuasca Ceremony in the depths of the Amazon river basin. Jade provides information about that special event for all interested parties in this week’s article.

Yoga teacher and certified massage therapist True Alisandre is the newest addition to Satya Center’s alt.healer directory. Based in Tecumseh, Missouri, True practices a technique he’s perfected which he calls “Smooth Yoga”.

True has been offering his self-care health care practices for more than 30 years to thousands of people both in individual and group sessions. He's taught yoga, massage, stress awareness & prevention, and given free drawing classes in hospitals, health clubs, businesses, churches, colleges, and in drug treatment programs.

In “Balancing Your Head: Getting It Centered On Your Shoulders”, True offers “a simple 1 - 2 minute exercise that will noticeably enliven you, and greatly reduce the strain and pain you habitually carry in your upper body. As a practicing massage therapist for many years, I am very concerned with how people create neuromuscular stress and undue tension in the neck and shoulder area.”

“It seems that nearly 90% of the several thousand people I have seen for individual sessions identify these areas as the prime place where they hurt in their body,” True says. And his simple exercise can help.

True believes that “Yoga Is More Than Physical Fitness”. “Establishing a daily practice of 15 - 30 minutes of yoga asanas & breath control followed by an equal period of meditative sitting will begin the journey without words to reuniting with our One Self, or True Nature,” according to True.

Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center

Check out Satya Center’s 24/7 alt.newsfeed and read breaking news stories from Pacific News Service. Tune in to Satya Center’s 24/7 environmental news headlines and listen to environmental news radio from Environmental News Network at ENN EarthNews.

This Week’s Top Stories from around the Web

ReclaimingOur Humanity: Partnership Education
Center For Partnership Studies
, by
Riane Eisler 
“Children are being given a false picture of what it means to be human. We tell them to be good and kind, nonviolent and giving. But on all sides they see and hear stories that portray us as bad, cruel, violent, and selfish. In the mass media, the focus of both action entertainment and news is on hurting and killing. Situation comedies make insensitivity, rudeness, and cruelty seem funny. Cartoons present violence as exciting, funny, and without real consequences.

All this holds up a distorted mirror of themselves to children. And rather than correcting this false image of what it means to be human, some aspects of our education reinforce it.

History curricula still emphasize battles and wars. Classics such as Homer's Iliad and Shakespeare's kings trilogy romanticize ‘heroicviolence.’ Scientific stories tell children that we are the puppets of ‘selfish genes’ ruthlessly competing on the evolutionary stage.

If we are inherently violent, bad, and selfish, we have to be strictly controlled.This is why stories that claim this is ‘human nature’ are central to an education for what I call a dominator system of relations. They are, however, inappropriate if young people are to learn to live in democratic, peaceful, equitable, and Earth-honoring ways: the partnership ways urgently needed if today's and tomorrow's children are to have a better future- perhaps even a future at all.”

Letters from Ban Nam Khem: Americans on the Receiving End in a Tsunami-Wracked Thai Village
Bruderhof.com, David Johnson, May 3, 2005
“ . . .We went to bed stunned by the avalanche of experiences of the day. How can we ever absorb it? If we left every night to sleep in a hotel or ‘safe’ house, rather than living right with the people in the middle of one of many large refugee camps, we would never have these encounters.

What do I learn personally? I have often lived in a small world of self-concern, wrapped up in my work or personal problems, missing opportunities to show love. At home in the United States, everything was so convenient we didn’t need others or need to interact much if we didn’t choose to. I do not think it is so much about what you have or don’t have, but how you choose to show love to others—especially strangers, but whomever one meets. These people surely know how to celebrate and enjoy life and they do it together with family and friends.”

THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS
Yes! Magazine, by David Myers, Summer 2004
“What is the good life? The old American Dream offers an answer: It's individually achieved affluence. It's the indulgences promised by magazine sweepstakes: a 40-foot yacht, a deluxe motor home, a personal housekeeper. (‘Whoever said money can't buy happiness isn't spending it right,’ proclaims a Lexus ad.) In a phrase, it's life, liberty, and the purchase of happiness.

Does money indeed buy happiness? Few YES! readers would answer yes. But ask another question – Would a little more money make you a little happier? -- and many readers will sheepishly nod. There is, we assume, a connection between fiscal fitness and feeling fine, an assumption that feeds what Juliet Schor has called the ‘cycle of work and spend’ -- working more to buy more. According to one 1990s Gallup Poll, one in two women, two in three men, and four in five people earning more than $75,000 a year say they would
like to be richer.

But we delude ourselves. The good life springs less from earning one's first million than from loving and being loved, from developing the traits that mark happy lives, from finding connection and meaningful hope in faith communities, and from experiencing ‘flow’ in work and recreation.”

Healing Your Home for World Peace
GreenHomeLiving.com, By Lawrence Comras
“As we bear witness to the war our country is waging on the environment, not to mention on other peoples and cultures, not to mention on our own civil liberties, it’s easy to get upset, or angry. We may even at times feel hatred toward all the seemingly evil people in big business and government wreaking havoc on our world. Indeed, there is some sort of negative pleasure in just letting ourselves get mad. It is maddening.

The situation is now really serious out there in the warring world, and so we actually need to get serious about creating peace. Yes, ‘they’ are really close to destroying it all. But ‘we’ are really close to figuring it all out. It’s going to be a photo finish to salvation. I think we’ll succeed in transcending and rising above ourselves, but it’s also up to us in a very radical way.

We need to behave more impeccably when we approach the problem. We can no longer afford to traffic in the methods of the warmongers. If we want to wipe out all the evildoers, what does that make us? Even in our more subtle borrowings of their practices, such as being dominating and confrontational, we’re still feeding the reality that allows them to continue to dominate and confront. The time has come for even things like projection and blaming to go. From here on out, it can only be about us.

. . . Here’s an idea: We, each of us, can create world peace by cleaning our house.”

The European Dream: Building Sustainable Development
Emagazine.com, by Jeremy Rifkin
A growing number of Americans are beginning to wonder why Europe has leaped ahead of the U.S. to become the most environmentally advanced political space in the world today. To understand why Europe has left America behind in the race to create a sustainable society, we need to look at the very different dreams that characterize the American and European frame of mind.

Ask Americans what they most admire about the U.S.A. and they will likely cite the individual opportunity to get ahead—at least until recently. The American Dream is based on a simple but compelling covenant: Anyone, regardless of the station to which they are born, can leverage a good public education, determination and hard work to become a success in life. We can go from ‘rags to riches.’

Ask a European what they most admire about Europe and they will invariably say ‘the quality of life.’ Eight out of 10 Europeans say they are happy with their lives and when asked what they believe to be the most important legacy of the 20th century, 58 percent of Europeans picked their quality of life, putting it second only to freedom in a list of 11 legacies.

While the American Dream emphasizes individual success, the European Dream emphasizes collective well-being. The reason for this lies in the divergent histories of the two continents. America’s founders came over from Europe 200 years ago in the waning days of the Protestant Reformation and the early days of the European Enlightenment. They took these two streams of European thought, froze them in time, and kept them alive in their purest form until today. Americans are the most devoutly Christian and Protestant people in the industrial world and the fiercest champions of the capitalist marketplace and the nation-state.”

THE GREAT WEALTH DECEPTION
FinancialCommonSense.com,
by Kurt Richebächer, April 22, 2005
The  U.S.'s economic recovery since 2001, despite what others may say, is  practically non-existent. Dr. Richebächer wonders if this quest for an economic rebound has been abandoned - or simply delayed...

This is the most  important economic question in and for the world: Has the U.S. economy's  rebound since 2001 been aborted, or is it only delayed? Our rigorous disagreement with the global optimistic consensus over this question begins with four observations that we regard as crucial:
    1.In  the past four years, the U.S. economy has received the most  prodigious monetary and fiscal stimulus in history. Yet by any measure, its rebound from the 2001 recession is by far the weakest on record in the post-World War II period.
    2.Record-low interest rates boosted asset prices and, in their wake, an unprecedented debt-and-spending binge on the part of the consumer.
    3.What resulted was a badly structured economic recovery, which - due to grossly lacking growth in capital investment, employment and wage and salary income - never gained the necessary traction to become self-sustainable.
    4.  Sustained and sufficiently strong economic growth implicitly requires a return to strong business fixed capital spending. We see no chance of this happening. Above all, the outlook for business profits is dismal from the macro perspective.

This takes us to the enormous structural changes that the Fed's new monetary ‘bubble policy’ has imparted to the U.S. economy over the years. While consumption, residential building and government spending soared, unprecedented imbalances developed in the economy - record-low saving; a record-high trade deficit; a vertical surge of household indebtedness; anemic employment and income growth from wages and salaries; outsized government deficits; and protracted, unusual weakness  in business fixed investment.

None of these shortfalls is a typical feature of the business cycle. Instead, they are all of unusual structural nature. Yet the bullish U.S. consensus simply ignores them, bragging instead about the U.S. economy's resilience and its ability to outperform most industrialized countries.”


Jonathan Schell on The New Nuclear Arms Race
The Nation Institute, May 23, 2005
“ . . .The end of the cold war was supposed to be the beginning of a farewell to nuclear danger, but now, fifteen years later, it's clear that a nuclear renaissance is under way. China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Britain are all increasing their arsenals and/or their delivery systems. (In an amazingly undernoticed development, the shadow of danger from Chinese nuclear weapons is falling over larger and larger areas of the United States.) The United States, even as it reduces the number of its alert nuclear weapons -- though not the total number of nuclear weapons, alert or otherwise -- is rotating its nuclear guns away from their traditional Cold War targets and toward Third World sites. (The United States and Russia built up such an excess of nuclear bombs during the Cold War that they can string out their dismantlement almost indefinitely without carving into their joint capacity to finish off most of human civilization.) Britain likewise is redirecting its targeting. Its Defense Secretary has stated that even the modest step of declaring no-first-use of nuclear weapons ‘would be incompatible with our and NATO's doctrine of deterrence, nor would it further nuclear disarmament objectives.’ In other words, Britain may find it necessary to initiate a nuclear war to achieve nuclear disarmament. Finally, individuals and terrorist groups are reaching for the bomb and other weapons of mass destruction. Osama bin Laden, for instance, has declared that obtaining such is the ‘religious duty’ of Muslims, and September 11 gave us an example of how he might use them.

All but unheard in the snarling din are the true voices of peace -- voices calling on the one group of nations to resist the demonic allure of nuclear arms and on the other group to rid themselves of the ones they have, leaving the world with a single standard: no nuclear weapons. Of the countries represented at the conference, fully 183 have found it entirely possible to live without atomic arsenals, and few -- barring a breakdown of the treaty -- show any sign of changing their minds. In the UN General Assembly the vast majority of them have voted regularly for nuclear abolition. Behind those votes stand the people of the world, who, when asked, agree. Even the people of the United States are in the consensus. Presented by AP pollsters in March with the statement, ‘No country should be allowed to have nuclear weapons,’ 66% agreed. In other countries, the percentage of supporters is higher. On the day their voices are heard and their will made active, the end of the nuclear age will be in sight.”

The Iraqi Shiites: On the history of America’s would-be allies
Boston Review, by Juan Cole, May 2005
“ . . .In removing the Baath regime and eliminating constraints on Iraqi Islamism, the United States has unleashed a new political force in the Gulf: not the upsurge of civic organization and democratic sentiment fantasized by American neoconservatives, but the aspirations of Iraqi Shiites to build an Islamic republic. That result was an entirely predictable consequence of the past 30 years of political conflict between the Shiites and the Baathist regime, and American policy analysts have expected a different result only by ignoring that history.. . . For now, the United States is back to having two footstools in the Middle East: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iraq has proven too rickety, too unknown, too devastated to bear the weight of the strategic shift imagined by the hawks. And far from finally defeating Khomeinism, U.S. policy has given it millions of liberated Iraqi allies. Their new Iraqi Interim Governing Council has declined to recognize Israel, citing Iraq’s membership in the Arab League and lack of genuine progress toward a Palestinian state. Al Qaeda and allied terrorist threats were not countered by the invasion of Iraq.

Whether Iraq’s Sunnis will turn to radicalism and reinforce al Qaeda is as yet unknown. But what does seem clear is that the Iraq war has proved a detour in the War on Terror, drawing away key resources from the real threat of al Qaeda and continued instability in Afghanistan. The old pillars have proven more resilient than the hawks imagined. What really needs to be changed are U.S. support for political authoritarianism and Islamic conservatism, and acquiescence in Israeli land grabs on the West Bank. Those two, together, account for most of the trouble the United States has in the Muslim world. The Iraq war did nothing to change that.”

Detentions: A case against Pakistan
AsiaTimesOnline, By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Apr 30, 2005
“The fear of ‘free officers’ in military establishments and ‘free servants’ in society who follow their own ideology has haunted Arab governments for many years, especially in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

 Pakistan, too, has had its concerns about mutiny in the armed forces, but the traditional view is that its army is too big and too professional for elements to fall prey to dissenting ideology.
 Two assassination attempts against President General Pervez Musharraf in December 2003, and subsequent arrests in connection with the attempts, show, however, that not only is the army not marching to the same beat, but that Islamabad's policy of treating radical Islamists, militants and political Islamists as one and the same is counterproductive, with dangerous implications.”

Haiti: Few Reasons for Optimism but Many for Despair
Council On Hemispheric Affairs, Tuesday, 3 May 2005
* When it comes to Haiti,  there are few heroes to point to, least of all interim Prime Minister Gerard  Latortue and his justice minister Bernard  Gousse.
  * Ten of the 15 member UN Security Council traveled to Haiti earlier this month  to assess the UN’s political transition and international peacekeeping  mission on the island with Brazilian Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg at  the head of the April 13-16 mission.
  * More than 400 people have been killed since Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s  ouster in February 2004.
  * The United States continues to uphold its support for Latortue’s government,  going as far as to violate its 13 year-embargo of arms shipment to the nation  island.
  * Clashes between police, peacekeepers, former soldiers and pro- and anti-Aristide  gangs have bred a climate of violence in Haiti that could delay scheduled fall elections.

Diplomacy By Death Squad: How Bolton Armed Haiti's Thugs and Killers
Counterpunch, By IRA KURZBAN, 05/03/05
On Dec. 14, 2004, in the predawn hours, a large convoy of U.N. troops entered the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil. They began firing. Esterlin Marie Carmelle was in bed with her 2-year-old son, Herlens. Her husband got out of bed to get ready for work. The shooting intensified, and she remained in bed beside her child. According to a Harvard Law School report the following occurred: 

 Ms. Carmelle recalled, she `felt something warm' on her arm and said to her husband, 'I feel like I got hit with a bullet.' She told us that she realized that 'it wasn't me who had been shot,' as her boy lay limp and lifeless beside her, his 'blood and brain matter were sliding down my arm.' Though Ms. Carmelle said that she then passed out, her husband told us that a stray bullet had entered their shack with such force that it had removed part of their child's head, leaving Herlens to die in his mother's arms.'

 When U.N. troops are not engaged in these kinds of incursions, they can usually be found providing support for the Haitian National Police as they execute peaceful demonstrators demanding the return of their democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
 Just last week, five Haitians were killed by the Haitian National Police while U.N. troops stood by watching. The Haitians' crime was that they were peacefully demonstrating for the release of political prisoners in Haiti.”

The Gravest Generation
The New York Times, By GÜNTER GRASS, 05/07/05
“TOMORROW, it will be 60 years to the day since the German Reich's unconditional surrender. That is equivalent to a working life with a pension to look forward to. It goes so far back that memory, that wide-meshed sieve, is in danger of forgetting it.

. . . THE question today, then, is have we dealt carefully with the freedom that we did not win, but was given to us? Have the citizens of West Germany properly compensated the citizens of the former Democratic Republic, who, after all, had to bear the main burden of the war begun and lost by all Germans? And a further question: is our parliamentary democracy still sufficiently sovereign as a guarantor of freedom of action to act on the problems facing us in the 21st century?

Fifteen years after signing the treaty on unification, we can no longer conceal that despite the financial achievements, German unity has essentially been a failure. Petty calculation prevented the government of the time from submitting to the citizens of both states a new constitution relevant to the endeavors of Germany as a whole. It is therefore hardly surprising that people in the former East Germany should regard themselves as second-class Germans.

The jobless rate is twice as high as in the former West Germany. West German arrogance had no respect for people with East German résumés. The mass migration, feared from the beginning, is happening now, daily. Whole areas of the country, its cities and its villages, are being emptied. After the Treuhandanstalt, the entity responsible for privatizing East Germany, had completed its bargain sales, West German industry and banks withheld the necessary investment and loans and, consequently, no jobs were created. Here, fine exhortations have been of little use. To right this skewed situation, only Parliament, the lawmakers, can help. Which brings us back to the question of whether parliamentary democracy is able to act.
Now, I believe that our freely elected members of Parliament are no longer free to decide. The customary party pressures are not particularly present in Germany; it is, rather, the ring of lobbyists with their multifarious interests that constricts and influences the Federal Parliament and its democratically elected members, placing them under pressure and forcing them into disharmony, even when framing and deciding the content of laws. Consequently, Parliament is no longer sovereign in its decisions. It is steered by the banks and multinational corporations - which are not subject to any democratic control.

What's needed is a democratic desire to protect Parliament against the pressures of the lobbyists by making it inviolable. But are our parliamentarians still sufficiently free to make a decision that would bring radical democratic constraint? Or is our freedom now no more than a stock market profit?”

The Pirates of Illiopolis: Why PVCs Are a National Security Threat
Orion Magazine, by Sandra Steingraber, May/June 2005
“A FEW WEEKS AFTER 9/11
, I gave a lecture on environmental pediatrics at the New York Academy of Medicine. The talk had been planned months earlier, but it wasn't at all clear, in the days leading up to it, whether the event would take place. My host said, frankly, he could not guarantee an audience. I had misgivings of my own. The drive to Manhattan from my office at Cornell took five hours even before the George Washington Bridge was outfitted with security checkpoints, and I had a newborn who would be riding with me across that bridge.

In the end, we decided, as so many people did in those first dazed weeks, that since all possible actions felt wrong anyway, we should just get on with it. And so my husband paced marble corridors with our son on his shoulder while I addressed a half-filled auditorium. In the audience were a number of pregnant women and, as I was getting ready to leave, they approached me as a group. They wanted to know about that most toxic of all synthetic chemicals, dioxin, which, at vanishingly small concentrations, can cause developmental problems as well as cancer. Had the incineration and collapse of the World Trade Center sent a dioxin-filled plume over Manhattan? They had heard that the towers were filled with PVC plastic and that PVC makes dioxin when burned. Is that right? Were their babies in danger?
I tried to keep my voice calm. Yes, I said, PVC—or polyvinyl chloride, or vinyl—makes dioxin when it burns and yes, the Trade Center was surely full of PVC. It's used in electrical cables, flooring, wallpaper, and office furniture. I said I didn't know what health threats the smoke created for the people breathing it—or for the fetuses they might be carrying. Colleagues of mine at Mount Sinai Medical Center were, right now, researching those very questions. Unfortunately, the answers would be years away. Science takes time, especially when actual exposures are unknown and the outcomes, like subtle developmental deficits, can take years to manifest.

The pregnant women watched Elijah nurse. I looked down at their various-sized bellies. We all fell into silence.”

Weekly Meditation: The Spiritual Food Chain

"When we speak of life, we must be conscious that it consists of the
totality of all existences. All creatures are nourished by this
all-inclusive and immense life, and it can also be said that they feed on
the life of one another.

When egotistical, unjust and malicious thoughts and feelings inhabit you, they are like a food which you take from the inferior regions of life. By accepting them, not only do you reinforce them, but because these thoughts and feelings themselves emit vibrations which spread, you thus project unhealthy emanations which other people and even diabolical entities feed on.

Whereas if you strive to maintain harmonious and generous thoughts and feelings within, not only will you link yourself with superior entities, but this divine nourishment will go to feed these luminous creatures. And because you have fed them, you will live in them. So be vigilant, and know that it is you alone who determines both the food you receive and the food you provide. "

-- Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov