Buddha’s not smiling: examining knee-jerk reporting about the Karmapa

‘Is the Karmapa a Chinese spy?’ ‘Is the possible successor to the Dalai Lama a Chinese mole?’ ‘Is this another clever ploy of China to take control of the border regions?’ The media have gone berserk with speculations about the Karmapa Lama. Sadly, the coverage has failed to do any groundwork research. This episode not only exposes the way the Indian media works but also jolts the Tibetan faith in Indian democracy and harms India’s long-term interests in Tibet.

The police raid found a few crore (100,000) rupees worth of cash. At most, this may be a case of financial irregularity or non-transparent dealings by the managers of the Karmapa’s monastery for which they should be held accountable. Raising questions about a person being a spy for another country is a serious matter. It destroys his or her reputation. The news stories reflect a witch-hunt and betray the lack of an understanding of Tibetan life in India.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th Karmapa, the oldest lineage in Tibetan Buddhism and the head of the Karma Kagyu sect. He is one of the rare lamas recognised by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. There is nothing conspiratorial about it. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, China was more accommodative of Tibet-based religious figures, consulting and coordinating the choice of reincarnations with the Dalai Lama and other lamas in exile. This accommodativeness came to an end with the crisis over the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation in 1995.

The Karmapa’s selection after the demise of the 16th Karmapa was not without its own controversy as there is a rival candidate, Trinley Thaye Dorje, who had the backing of a senior Karma Kagyu figure, the Shamarpa. The Shamarpa is reputed to have close connections within the Indian security establishment and bureaucracy. But most Tibetans have accepted the Dalai Lama’s choice. In fact, within China-controlled Tibet, veneration for the Karmapa is next only to that of the Dalai Lama. Even within the Gelug (the sect of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama) monasteries in Tibet, one comes across the Karmapa’s picture and it is clear that for ordinary Tibetans, the Karmapa’s proximity to the Dalai Lama adds to his sacredness.

Read the rest of this article…

It is true that the Karmapa has avoided making anti-China political statements and Beijing has therefore not denounced him. Again, there is nothing suspicious about this. The Chinese had refused to openly criticise even the Dalai Lama in 1959 until he made a public statement after his exile. Beijing does not want to denounce the Karmapa and thus contribute to the creation of another globally recognised figurehead around which the Free Tibet movement will mobilise. Moreover, in recent history, Karmapas have avoided overly political positions since in the traditional Tibetan State, the Gelug sect was dominant. By focusing solely on religious affairs, the present 17th Karmapa is following the footsteps of his previous reincarnation.

It is unfortunate that without appreciating the nuances of sectarian politics within Tibetan Buddhism and Sino-Tibetan relations, the Indian media portrayed the Karmapa’s apolitical stance as suspicious. Continuing speculation about the Karmapa’s escape from Tibet in 1999 reminds me of a Japanese conspiracy theory film where the filmmaker argued that he was ‘sent’ to Sikkim to get control over the ‘Black Hat’ kept in Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. Interestingly, this film was given to me in Beijing!

Decades of repression during the Cultural Revolution has not been able to shake the belief that Tibetans have in their lamas. The Indian media’s onslaught on the Karmapa will only reaffirm Tibetan respect for the Karmapa. But it will certainly backfire for India as followers of Tibetan Buddhism in exile, in the border regions, in Tibet and in the rest of the world, will resent this humiliation of the religious figure. Had it been the Shahi Imam or Baba Ramdev, would the media have taken such liberties in going to town with such an unconfirmed story?

Hardline officials in China must be laughing their heads off at the Indian media circus. They know that this will not only create confusion in the exiled Tibetan community in India, but will also create a disenchantment about India among Tibetans inside China. India has let the Tibetans down on many occasions since the late 1940s when the latter sought help and support in making their claims for independence internationally and in 1954 when the Panchsheel agreement was signed with China over the old Tibetan State. India has provided refuge to more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles. But we must not forget that the exiled lamas provide a stability and keep the people in the borderlands pacified in a manner more effective than the Indian military. Tibetans are over-generous with their gratitude to their Indian hosts and are hesitant in reminding India of a small inconvenient truth: until 1951, the disputed border regions were neither Chinese nor Indian but Tibetan. In return, the very least Indians could do is not malign Tibetan religious leaders before they are even proved guilty of their misdemeanour. Is that too much to ask?

Dibyesh Anand is an associate professor of international relations at Westminster University, London and the author of Tibet: A Victim of Geopolitics
The views expressed by the author are personal

Read More

Indian police question Buddhist spiritual leader

Dharamsala, India: Police say authorities are investigating the source of a large amount of money found in a northern Indian Buddhist monastery, the headquarters of Tibetan Buddhism’s third most important leader.

D.S. Minhas, director general of police in Himachal Pradesh state, says police and revenue officials are tracking the source of about $777,000 that was found in the Gyuto monastery where the Karmapa lives.

Minhas said Saturday that much of the money was in Chinese yuan. Police have questioned Ugyen Thinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, about the source of the money.

Indian media have been carrying reports that the Karmapa could be a Chinese agent sent to India to become a leader of Tibetan Buddhists who have made their home in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.

[via Yahoo]
Read More

Peace on the rocks: The Swami Vivekananda Memorial

wildmind meditation newsAgainst the backdrop of a tumultuous sea, the Vivekananda Memorial is an oasis of tranquility, says Ranjeni A Singh

The last few rocks of the Indian peninsula are special. It is where the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet and merge, as though proclaiming India’s unity in diversity. Sanctified by Goddess Parvati’s footprints, the rocks now also symbolise the spirit of Swami Vivekananda, who, against all odds, ventured to create awareness of Hindu philosophy and ancient Indian culture wherever he went.

My trip to the southernmost tip of India was an unscheduled one but it turned out to be truly enriching. I was on a bus, travelling from Nagarcoil to Thiruvananthapuram, when an old friend called up to say she was in Kanyakumari and urged me to break my journey and join her. Since I had never been to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial before, I agreed.

Point of confluence
Kanyakumari and its surroundings are believed to be part of the land unearthed by Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. I had heard that Kanyakumari signifies virginity of mind, body and soul. But the sight of crowds of tourists and noisy hawkers peddling seashells put me off. “This place is so commercial. How can anyone feel spiritually charged,” was my first reaction. “Relax! Be with yourself and forget the crowd. Try and experience the breeze, the mellow sun, the murmuring sea…” said Shanti, my friend. She was right. It took me just 30 minutes to feel what she said I would feel. It began to seep in — that Kanyakumari symbolises the confluence of not just the waters, but also the confluence of body, mind and soul…

Read the rest of this article…

Next morning, we set out to witness the legendary sunrise. It was still dark. The cool air soothed and refreshed us as we sat there, waiting for the sun to show itself. And then we saw a red speck on the horizon. Everyone cheered as the Sun God emerged from the waters, now fully visible, a resplendent red. The waters turned crimson and for a moment, the dividing line between heaven and earth blurred. I have seen many sunrises but none as beautiful and relaxing as this! I am told that from atop a hill called Murugan Kundram, one can view both sunrise and sunset throughout the year.

Awakened soul
After a typical breakfast of masala dosai and kaapi (filtered coffee), we weave our way through a maze of shops selling seashells and more seashells, to reach the ferry that would take us to the Vivekananda Memorial, about 500 metres from the mainland. “Avar samiyar, avar neechal panni ponaru, unaku ellam thevai ille” — “He was an enlightened soul, so he could swim to the rocks. You don’t need to try to do that” — said the ferryman to a teenager who was bending over the railing of the ferry, poised as though he was about to jump into the water. He was right, it seemed impossible to negotiate the choppy waters — but Vivekananda had done just that in the December of 1892. His mid-sea meditation seems to have played a seminal role in his transformation from seeker to one of the greatest philosophers of the era. He dedicated most of his life trying to awaken the inner soul.

The idea of building the Vivekananda Memorial Rock temple was conceptualised by Eknath Ranade during Vivekananda’s birth centenary in 1962. The structure was completed in 1970. Its architecture is a blend of both traditional and contemporary Indian styles. We land on the rock after 10 minutes and take the flight of stairs to the huge, windy terrace. The view was fantastic — the end of the Indian sub-continent with fishing boats dotting the shores and the endless ocean on three sides. The waters appeared overpowering.

The rock has been venerated as a great place to meditate through the ages. It was originally known as Sripada Parai or Rock with Divine Footprint. According to legend, Devi Kumari, a manifestation of Goddess Parvati, stood on one leg in penance on this rock to get a beautiful husband, Shiva. The impression of her footprints can be seen through the glass enclosure.

In contrast
Inside the main Vivekananda Mandapam complex is an imposing statue of Swami Vivekananda. As I stepped inside after removing my shoes, suddenly everything was quiet. It seemed as if even the sea and wind had stopped roaring as if in deference to the monk’s presence. It did look as though the soul of this great philosopher was present inside the hall. Perhaps, empowered by the energy inside, many people were seated in meditation in front of the statue itself.

As you go farther and take a flight of steps down, you will enter a dark little room called the Dhyan Mandapam or meditation room. Inside a carpet is laid out for people to sit and meditate in front of an Aum symbol in fluorescent light — that compels you to focus. My eyes closed automatically to visualise the green Aum. I seemed to have lost all sense of time and space…but with my short attention span, I was soon back in my surroundings. Much as a part of me wished to sit there forever, there were other worldly engagements waiting that needed my attention.

Once I was outside, the contrast was stark — the intense and soothing quiet of the memorial’s Dhyan Mandapam and the loud crashing of waves against the rock face. Perhaps the thrashing waves are symbolic of our chaotic lives, and the need to maintain inner calm in the face of external disturbances, as was so evident in the meditation room.

[via Times of India]
Read More

Yoga has avatars in America (Times of India)

Yoga seems to have been “reincarnated” in America and some other parts of the world.

Various organizations are promoting “Christian Yoga”, claiming to provide a Christian approach to yoga. There are DVDs like “Christoga: Yoga Filled Body – Christ Filled Soul” (60 minutes of Yoga with bible scriptures recited by Janine. Yoga with Christ as the meditation focus!). There is a “Christian Yoga Magazine”. There are books like “Yoga for Christians: A Christ-Centered Approach to Physical and Spiritual Health through Yoga”,” Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul”, etc.

Welcoming the widespread interest in yoga, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. One could still practice one”s respective faith and do yoga. Yoga would rather help one in achieving one”s spiritual goals in whatever religion one believed in.

“Yoga DVD” search on January nine at amazon yielded 4,828 results.

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago ( Illinois) is teaching “Catholic Yoga” whose announcement says…

Read the rest of this article…

: “explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith”. At the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue (Washington), “Traditional yoga postures and Biblical meditations are accompanied by Christian music”. Morristown United Methodist Church in New Jersey conducts “Christian Yoga” classes.

Talking about “Yoga and Meditation”, “The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod” says: “from our theological perspective, techniques of relaxation and/or exercise (mental as well as physical) are not, of course, problematic in and of themselves. But it is the religious aspects of a practice such as Yoga that raises concerns for Christians.”

There is “Gentle Jewish Yoga”, while “Torah Yoga” “offers an experience of Jewish Wisdom through Iyengar yoga instruction together with the study of traditional and mystical Jewish texts.”

“Yoga Buddhist pursues an interdisciplinary approach that merges the insights and practices of yoga with Buddhist mindfulness and meditation”. A paperback is available on “Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement”. And then there is “Shinto Yoga”, which “incorporates Hatha Yoga practices as well as the various exercises of Japanese Shinto”, besides a paperback on “Shinto Bouddhisme Yoga”. Of course, there is “Zen Yoga”.

“Tao Yoga” in New York teaches Taoist Yoga. Yogi Bhajan taught Kundalini Yoga and “3HO Foundation” founded by him calls itself “A Global Community of Living Yoga”. A blog on Zarathushtrian Mysticism talks about Zoroastrian Yoga and states: “The essence of Zoroastrian yoga is the purification of the Aipi”. There is “Ageless Yoga” in Australia.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, Zed added.

Zed argued that yoga, which never had any formal organization, was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. Swami Vivekananda reportedly brought yoga to USA in 1893. According to an estimate, about 16 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga.

Read More

Metal detectors, scanners at ‘gateless’ gate

The “gateless gates”, as Osho Rajneesh had chosen to describe the entry points to the famous Osho International Meditation Resort in the city, sported metal detectors and scanners ahead of the 79th birth anniversary of the spiritual guru.

December 11 is Osho’s birth anniversary. A week ago, on December 5, the meditation centre inaugurated its new gate in keeping with enhanced security requirements at the meditation resort, which has distinct entry and exit points, following the German Bakery blast and the discovery that David Headley had visited the commune twice, apparently to target it later.

The gate has a high-end metal detector. There is also a reception desk at the entry point covered with steel rods on three sides.

Amrit Sadhana, a management team member at the commune, said that after the bakery blast, the authorities had issued an advisory to tighten security and the new gate is in keeping with the instructions.

Read the rest of this article…

As to why the commune was bereft of any special celebrations, Osho’s birth anniversary on Saturday, she said, “Each day is special for us and we celebrate every day.” Commenting on the years when the centre used to witness a series of events and artistes performed, Sadhana said, “It’s past and gone. Osho asked us not to live in the past, move on.”

Along with the new entrance, the centre has come up with a multimedia gallery, also launched last Sunday. The gallery houses lectures of Osho in print, audio and visual form.

Apart from 650 books in Hindi and English, the gallery has 4,000 audio CDs. “Plus we two newly introduced programmes. The first being Festival of Osho organised thrice a year, in monsoon, winter and spring and the second is the new meditation week held every second week of the month,” added Sadhana. Nirmala Savadekar, a freelance photographer, added “We don’t really believe in his birth and death. For me, he is alive everyday. I am just so glad that I am his follower.” On his plans for Saturday, he said, “I will like to be with some other like-minded followers who share the same sentiment for Osho.”

Read More

Kia quotes the Mahatma: be the change you want to see

wildmind meditation news

Meena Menon, The Hindu: Thirteen-year-old Naomi Scherr was to write an essay on her trip, an educational experience to India. She was seeking admission to a girls’ boarding school and this essay would have been part of her application. But Naomi and her father Alan, who lived near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, United States, were killed in the 26/11 terror attack on the Trident Hotel here.

Alan Scherr, a former art professor, had come to Mumbai in June 2008 to scout a retreat for members of Synchronicity Foundation, a spiritual organisation. The group rate offered at Trident had worked out best, and so they were at the hotel at the time of the attack. Alan’s wife, Kia Scherr, 54, in an interview to The Hindu, points out: “A month after my husband was here in June, David Headley too was in Mumbai, scouting locations — such extremes in polarities.”

Counter to terrorism

For Kia, the loss of her daughter and husband is irreplaceable but two years on, she has gone ahead to become co-founder of the One Life Alliance, which will train youth to appreciate the sacredness of life and act as a counter to terrorism. She has been in Mumbai since September and will be here till January next to foster her organisation.

A mission of love

Unlike Synchronicity Foundation, which focuses on meditation, the One Life Alliance is the response of love to an act of terror. “I am not here to teach meditation,” says Kia. The mission of her group is to inspire, encourage and honour the oneness and sacredness of life. After the tragedy, she got thousands of responses from all over the world.

“This shows that as a human race we are connected and we value life. Life itself is sacred. These are the times which require us to be on the move and we are committed to honouring the sacredness of life in ourselves and in each other. Our success as human beings is measured by how we interact with each other,” she explains.

Spirit of Gandhi

“Be the experience you want to see. It’s time to bring back Mahatma Gandhi’s saying — be the change you want to see.” She recalls that as a 15 year-old in her social studies class she was asked to choose a topic and a map to go along with it.

“I was attracted to Gandhi then and I chose him as a topic, drew a map of India and tracked his journey.” The spirit of Gandhi is guiding us now, she says with a smile.

The One Life Alliance is developing sacredness of life education and training programmes.

“How do we honour each other, listen and communicate with each other? Conflicts will have to be resolved in a peaceful manner. We also want to bring together people from conflicting countries apart from creating an online global community.” She met U.S. President Barack Obama at the Taj Mahal hotel during his Mumbai visit.

A waiting grandson

Rahi Gaikwad reports:

Little Harsh was only four when his grandfather Assistant Sub-Inspector Tukaram Ombale was shot dead as he tried to overpower Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab during the 26/11 attack. Two years later, Harsh, now six, still believes his beloved grandfather, to whom he was deeply attached, will return any day.

“Whenever we speak of the incident, or when mother gets very emotional, Harsh says, ‘baba [grandpa] is there; he will come.’ He thinks he is going to come from somewhere. That father has gone out and it’s taking long. He expects him,” Ombale’s daughter Vaishali Ombale told The Hindu.

Ombale has four daughters — Pavitra, Vandana, Vaishali and Bharati. Harsh is Pavitra’s son. “He comes over from my sister’s place quite often as only his presence brings the house alive,” said Vaishali. Ombale would shower gifts on his doting grandson and listen to his prattle on the phone. Since 26/11, that call has stopped, but Harsh still imagines he is answering his call. “He would pick up the receiver and speak into it as if he is having a conversation with father,” Vaishali said.

As time has passed, there are some indications that perhaps Harsh accepts that his grandfather is not coming back. “For Diwali, father would buy him clothes and crackers. We do all that for Harsh, but this Diwali he refused. He said, since baba is not there, let’s not do anything.”

Time has not lifted the pall on the household. Vaishali said she was doing her training through correspondence as she must look after the house. Her mother, who was so shaken after the loss, “is doing better,” she said.

Original article no longer available


Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

Mumbai: Terror, horror, forgiveness

wildmind meditation news

Natasha Korecki, Chicago Sun-Times: In June 2008, Alan Scherr traveled from the United States to Mumbai in search of a place where his meditation group could hold its fall spiritual retreat.

One month later, David Headley, of the North Side, also traveled to Mumbai — but he was in search of the best place to kill as many people as possible.

Both men picked the Oberoi Hotel.

“They couldn’t have been there for more different reasons,” Alan Scherr’s wife, Kia, says now.

It was in the pristine, five-star setting of the Oberoi where Alan Scherr and his 13-year-old daughter, Naomi, were eating dinner the night of Nov. 26, 2008, when terrorists stormed in and began rapidly shooting anyone in their sights.

The father and daughter were slain in a massacre that rained down on Mumbai in a series of coordinated attacks that eventually killed some 170 people, injured hundreds more and branded that date — 11/26 — as infamous in the city as Sept. 11, 2001, is the U.S.

Headley, whose birth name was Daood Gilani, has admitted that he traveled to Mumbai on multiple scouting missions and relayed information to a Pakistani terror group about the Oberoi, the Taj Mahal hotel and other prospective sites as targets. He has pleaded guilty in a deal that allows him to avoid the death penalty. Now in prison, he is expected to be a critical witness in a federal trial in Chicago early next year in which another Chicago man, Tahawwur Rana, is charged in an alleged conspiracy to aid Headley’s efforts in planning the attacks. Rana denies involvement.

Alan and Naomi Scherr were among the six Americans killed in the attacks and are named as victims in Headley’s plea agreement.

Kia Scherr, of Virginia, was in the U.S. when her daughter and husband lost their lives.

Now, for the first time, she’s traveled to the very place they were killed. She plans to be at the Oberoi for the two-year anniversary of the killings, which is Friday.

But she brings with her a message that continues to stun people:

She’s forgiven the terrorists.

“My life ended in that moment. Life as I knew it ended,” says Scherr. “Everything ended. It’s like dying while I’m still alive.”

Scherr, who earlier this month met President Obama in Mumbai, helped form the not-for-profit group One Life Alliance, which advocates peace and forgiveness. On Friday, about 1,000 people will meet at the hotel to memorialize those who lost their lives in the massacre.

Scherr condemns the attackers but said harboring hatred toward them would not allow her to heal.

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with terrorists. It has to do with me,” says Scherr. “If I hold on to anger, revenge, hatred — I’m basically choosing their experience. That’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy dies.”

But Scherr as well as survivors of the attacks say they don’t want people to forget the absolute horror of the attacks.

• •

It was after 9 p.m. on Nov. 26 when the doorbell rang at a hotel room at another five-star hotel, the Taj Mahal. Inside, retired Cook County Judge Benjamin Mackoff and his wife, Carol, were trying not to make a sound.

Mackoff, a prosecutor for seven years, was in his room packing to go home the next day, Thanksgiving, when he heard the rapid gunfire.

He knew what was happening.

The couple, who had already blockaded the door and muffled the room phone with pillows, sat motionless until the door buzzing ceased.

In other parts of the hotel, terrorists pried open guestroom doors and threw in grenades.

At one point, Mackoff peered through the peephole. He caught a glimpse of one of the terrorists pacing outside, talking to his handler on his cell phone — a conversation caught by Indian intelligence.

In all, Mackoff and his wife were holed up in their room for 42 hours, all the while they listened to gunfire and even screams.

Earlier that night, the Mackoffs dined with friends from Australia whom they had traveled with through India for three weeks. The couples left the open lobby at the hotel for their rooms about 9 p.m.

Minutes later, armed men stormed in and shot up the lobby.

The Australian couple was inside their hotel room where smoke from a fire that was set above their floor began to pour in.

They stepped into the hallway for air — and were shot.

The husband fell first; his wife’s body then dropped on top of his, Mackoff said. But she was able to get up and make it to a stairway and eventually to safety. Her husband, whom Mackoff described as a “dear friend,” perished.

Mackoff has a different take than Scherr on the tragedy and the 10 terrorists involved (nine of whom were killed by authorities during the attack). The only one who was captured alive was prosecuted in India and sentenced to death.

“I don’t forgive the terrorists. But I don’t hold them solely responsible. I think they were used,” Mackoff said. “But they had to know they were killing people.”

Like Scherr, he’ll probably return one day to Mumbai, he says. Not to hold a memorial, but to continue pursuing his love of traveling and photographing the world.

“We’re not going to let those bastards . . . ” Mackoff says, his face becoming flush as he pauses to collect himself, ” . . . tell us where we can go.”

• •

Back at the Oberoi, smoke filled hotel rooms so that those inside could barely see.

Charles Cannon, who headed the spiritual group the Scherrs were traveling with, was holed up in his hotel room as instructed, listening to terrorists battle police.

“We could hear these explosions; volleys of gunfire that just rippled through the whole place,” Cannon said. “When we came out of that hotel [room], it was unrecognizable.

“It was a bombed-out war zone.”

Cannon was asked to identify Alan and Naomi Scherr, a task Cannon described as one of the toughest of his life.

“I had to go into that restaurant, stepping over all these bodies and pools of blood and debris,” Cannon said. “And there were the [Scherrs’] bodies. There they were.”

• •

Headley is accused of funneling intelligence to Lashkar e Taiba, a Pakistani-based terror group that wanted to make a worldwide splash with the siege.

The Chicago case, and Headley’s cooperation, has gained worldwide attention. In recent weeks, controversy has surfaced in India after U.S. authorities admitted they had some intelligence on Headley prior to the attacks.

“I would think he is more culpable than the 10 [terrorists] that landed,” Mackoff says of Headley, who will evade the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation. “But I understand there is need for evidence and he may be the only one who has it.”

Not surprisingly, the event “is something I think that has shaped our lives,” Mackoff said. But, he declares, “It has made us stronger.”

Original article no longer available


Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

Bangladesh to introduce meditation in prisons

Bangladesh has introduced a meditation course for its jail inmates with prison officials saying the pioneering work at India’s Tihar jail prompted them to launch the service to reform prisoners.

“In the past three years of my experience as the prison chief, I saw same people are coming back to jail committing the same crime as our routine counselling service appeared to be of little use. They actually need spiritual and mental purification,” Inspector General of Prisons Brigadier General Mohammad Ashraful Islam Khan told PTI.

Khan, an army doctor with expertise in preventive medicine serving as the prison chief on deputation, said that he expected the course would help to rectify prisoners and prevent recurrence of crimes through the meditative practices as “it worked in Tihar jail in India and prisons in Sri Lanka”.

Quantum Foundation, the leading and pioneering meditation school in Bangladesh, offered its free and voluntary service designing a special 10-day course outline for the inmates.

“We want to hate the sin, not the sinners – this was our principle in offering the service for the jail inmates,” said founder chief of Quantum Foundation.

The foundation’s director Suraiya Akhtar said 40 males and similar number of female inmates, who joined the maiden meditation course separately for the second consecutive day today, “massively responded”.

The prison chief said they selected the 80 prisoners, who were languishing in jails with longer term sentences, were selected for the maiden course as “we planned to develop the meditation instructors from them for running the practice sessions”.

The initiative came a month after Dhaka hosted an international jail conference, also joined by famous former Indian police official Kiran Bedi, who earned a special repute for introducing the meditation course in Tihar jail while she was in charge of the correction centre there.

Via Outlook India

Read More

Virginia mother and wife of Mumbai victims seeks to help children in conflict areas

Virginia resident Kia Scherr walked quietly through the jasmine-scented halls of Mumbai’s Oberoi Trident high-rise hotel as Indian staff members gently smiled.

On Nov. 26, 2008, her husband, Alan Scherr, 58, and their 13-year-old daughter Naomi were killed when gunmen opened fire in the hotel’s oceanfront restaurant. The Scherrs were among six Americans killed in the Mumbai attacks, which left 166 people dead and more than 230 wounded.

Now Kia Scherr has come to India to meet President Obama during his three-day visit to Mumbai and New Delhi. She said she wants to thank him in person for the condolence letter he wrote her after the attacks, which were carried out by 10 gunmen from Pakistan.

Read the rest of this article…

Read More

A cult turned commercial: my revealing experience in a meditation resort

Phil Pascua, The DePauw, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana: I decided to join a cult – but I assure you that I still speak to family and friends, attend work daily and militantly discourage the practice of Dianetics.

Though I made the impulsive decision on a bored Saturday morning rickshaw ride around Pune, I had always been interested in visiting the Osho International Meditation Resort. Founded by the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian mystic known as Osho, the meditation camp has earned a worldwide reputation as the free-spirited sex commune for those trying to awaken their true spiritual nature.

I have a membership to the resort – complete with identity card, maroon robe and empty wallet – and let me tell you, it is not a sex commune for free-spirited individuals; it is a Disneyland for rich American, European, Japanese and Indian tourists experiencing mid-life crises. I was certain the common thread linking every other member was a nice pension plan, a Porsche and the desire to reinvent oneself before it was too late. After meditation sequences filled with exhaustive laughing, dancing, screaming and the complete disbanding of social inhibitions, you could sit silently in a giant, metallic, overly air-conditioned pyramid – or you could sit by the pool and contemplate your life’s misdirection. As ridiculous as the activities may sound, sitting among hundreds of upper-class societal renegades from the class of ’75 made me evaluate my situation and realize its absurdity.

I had known about Osho and his meditation resort for years and admired his philosophy on spirituality – concepts like the importance of awareness, the dissolution of social conditionings and the practice of meditation in order to attain a higher state of consciousness have always resonated with me. However, I hadn’t known about the resort’s restrictive entrance fees and policies. Club initiation fees for internationals included a down payment of 1500 rupees (approximately $30), another payment of 1500 rupees for the required meditation attire and robes, daily activity fees of 700 rupees, and the daily cost of food at 200 rupees. Even though locals enjoyed a reduced fare, you could easily count the number of local Indians on one hand. In addition to this, the resort requires a negative HIV test result for entrance – something a freethinking individualist wouldn’t condone even if it were a sex joint. The resort perturbed me more than it had enlightened me.

Original article no longer available…

Read More