Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Buddhist monks give Leicester magic (video)

(Telegraph.co.uk, April 30, 2016)
A phalanx of golden Buddha statues in Thailand (Damon Billian/flickr.com)

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy reveals one of the secret's behind the Foxes' incredible season: Theravada Thai Buddhist monks doling out dressing room lashings (and sacred cloth).

(CNN) Thai Monks may be secret to Leicester City's success Buddhist monks have been visiting Leicester City for the past three years to bless the pitch and bestow sacred cloths on the players.

Thai Buddhist monks of the Maha Nikaya school, Bangkok (sportingnews.com)
 
SYNOPSIS: In the greatest upset in sports history, the tiny and insignificant Leicester City soccer team, which began with odds of winning of 5,000:1 took it all the way to the cup. Leicester City in England is elated. But everyone is asking, How did they do it? It turns out the secret is Thai Theravada Buddhist intervention via monks invited to help the team.
 
The Leicester City Story
(NBC Sports) Premier League Download: "The Leicester City Story." Leicester City is closing in on the unlikeliest title win in PL history, but how did a club who seemed destined for nothing morph into a powerhouse? Roger Bennett takes an in depth look at the team's magical transformation.
.
Leicester City's "good karma": the Buddhist monks behind the Foxes' divine play
 Thai Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan holding a banner emblazoned with sacred patterns surrounding Leicester City Football Club's cres
Assistant abbot holds an LCFC banner adorned with sacred patterns (AFP/Getty)
 
From supremely gifted players on the pitch to the tactical vision of the manager and coaching staff and the passionate support of the fans, it takes many people to win English football’s ultimate prize.
 
But if Leicester City beat Manchester United at Old Trafford to complete their fairy tale story conquest of the Premiership there will be one other, rather more unusual group of supporters to thank -- a collection of Buddhist monks from Thailand.

Captain Wes Morgan receives a blessing from a monk before a match 
Captain Wes Morgan receives blessing from monk before match.
 
The blessings of the monks, from the Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple, in Bangkok, are being credited with adding a divine element to the team’s play.

About 10 monks from the temple are flown to Britain for most home games by the club’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to bless the players before the kick-off, before spending the match deep in meditation in a specially designated room at Leicester City’s King Power stadium.

Top goalscorer Jamie Vardy speaks to a monk
Top goalscorer Jamie Vardy speaks to a monk
  
Here -- at a special shrine surrounded by Buddhist statues and hangings installed by Mr. Vichai -- the monks, led by Assistant Abbott Phra Prommangkalachan, offer the players what they call “spiritual support.”
 
That support continues during the team’s away games, such as today’s, when the monks chant and pray for the team at their temple in Bangkok’s Chinatown district, where the Leicester’s billionaire owner has been a devotee for several years.
“This is not about magic,” Phra Prommangkalachan, who became a monk at the age of 15, told The Telegraph. “We can only offer spiritual support. We believe that helps the players with their good health, with avoiding injuries, with their focus. But they must still perform well.”
 
He has regularly led delegations of his fellow holy men, dressed in saffron robes, to bless Leicester City since Mr. Vichai, who built his fortune on a string of duty-free shops, bought the then struggling second tier outfit in 2010.
 
Monks on the pitch at the King Power Stadium in Leicester
 Monks on pitch, King Power Stadium, Leicester (Matt West/BPI/REX/Shutterstock)
.
Although they do not watch the games while praying at the club’s shrine, the fans outside do a good job of letting them know which way the game is going.
 
“We know how Leicester are doing because the cheers and chanting rocks the room,” said Phra Prommangkalachan, 64.

“We feel the vibrations.”

“It’s obviously unusual for a football club owner to bring along Buddhist monks to games, but now everyone at LCFC is used to it.”
— Alex Hylton


Mr. Vichai usually flies the monks into Southend airport in Essex on his private jet, sometimes accompanying them on the same flight from Bangkok. It is routine for Thais in all walks of life to seek the blessing of monks for new endeavors and acquisitions -- from cars to homes to businesses.
 
Alex Hylton, Mr. Vichai’s former personal match day assistant at Leicester City, said that the owner also prays in the shrine room for up to 45 minutes before each match.
 
“He’s clearly very devout,” he said. “It’s obviously unusual for a football club owner to bring along Buddhist monks to games, but now everyone at LCFC is used to it. It seems normal.”
 
The club’s growing fortunes have been closely followed back in Thailand, where the team is marketed as the Siamese Foxes and where fans, dressed in replica tops, gather during match days to watch their progress on TV at bars and restaurants.
 
The team’s Thai supporters are convinced that the monks have played a key role in the club’s astonishing season.
 
As well as praying during games, they have reportedly overseen the burial of religious images under the turf. Players and fans have also taken to wearing Buddhist amulets and talismanic cloths which have been blessed by the monks.
It is all part of what they regard as spreading the “good karma” that comes as a result of the club owner’s community work and his support for the team.
 
 “Khun Vichai is a very strong and devoted Buddhist who has done many good works,” said Phra Prommangkalachan.
 
“His good deeds help generate support which becomes power for Leicester City Football Club. The club is benefiting from that good karma.
 
“His good deeds are rewarded with the good performances of Leicester City. He is also a very wise man and knows how to manage the club, bring together the team and coaches and make sure their approach is united. The result is their success.”
 
“We are all concentrated on a very positive force and they have seen how we can work together.”
— Phra Prommangkalachan


Phra Prommangkalachan, sitting crossed-legged at the Bangkok temple, surrounded by Buddhist images, statues and iconography with banners and cloths bearing the club’s name and colors, admits that the team’s players were initially skeptical.
 
“I think at first they were not so sure about our role. But then they got used to us and I believe they now appreciate what we deliver,” he said. “We are all concentrated on a very positive force and they have seen how we can work together.”
 
But, asked if he was excited about the prospects of Leicester City winning the Premiership today, the monk delivers the Buddhist equivalent of an eye-roll.
 
Meditation is all about making the mind as neutral as possible and avoiding excitement and disturbance,” he said, “You must not let winning or losing interrupt this process.”

Where are the world's slaves?

Max Fisher (Washingtonpost.com); Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly
Share of each country's population that is enslaved. Data source: Walk Free Global Slavery Index
 
We think of slavery as a practice of the past, an image from Roman colonies or 18th-century American plantations, but the practice of enslaving human beings as property still exists.

There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now, according to a comprehensive new report  issued by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.

This is not some softened by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, "chattel" in the servitude of absolute ownership.

Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every single one. But the practice is far worse in some countries than others. The country where you are most likely to be enslaved is... More

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

VICTORY: Bernie wins! Cruz quits! (video)

Pat Macpherson, Seth Auberon, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; MoxNews.com (Video 1, Video 2)


(BS16) Then the Reverend Sen. Ted Cruz (Cross) beats his wife

Trump? Bernie? Ted Cruz loses (cartoon)

Pat Macpherson, Pfc. Sandoval, CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; TYT; NPR; TMW; Soren

"The Incredible Trump" (Tom Tomorrow/ThisModernWorld.com)
Ted Cruz "Cruzin' Under the Radar" (Jen Sorensen/jensorensen.com)

Ted Cruz channels the spirit of the lovable/odious weasel "Mr. Haney" (Pat Buttram on "Green Acres" on TV Land). Still don't see it? Just look:
(C-Span 2) Ted Tea Party Cruz as Mr. Haney during the filibuster that won him the contempt of John Boehner, who called him "Lucifer in the flesh" and "the most miserable son of a b*tch I've ever met in my life."
What's wrong with Ted Cruz?
    Searcy Hayes is Ted Cruz (DM)
    Future porn star Searcy Hayes may not have known who Ted Cruz was, but he sure knows who she is and now wishes he didn't. She has been his doppelganger all this time. And now she's ready to cash in as pornographers entice her to bare it all.

    One can imagine that Cruz entered the race to help Donald Trump win by being such a reprehensible opponent, a bag of wind, a hypocritical Evangelical Christian, a serial cheater, a slightly Cuban, all-Canadian man who has never won an election.
     
    Troublemaker vs. Establishment robot
    He apparently stepped into the role of Senator through a technical breach created by the Koch-funded Tea Party. He is the luckiest man in the world, or he would be if only the GOP and Republicans at large would back him. How Hillary Clinton must laugh wishing she could face him in the general election instead of the man who can beat her, Trump.

    Why we vote Sanders!
    Candidates we can get behind (Jensorensen/jensorensen.com)
    .
    So long, Comedian-in-Chief
    The Best Worst President We Ever Had
    After 8 years of clumsy stumbling and endearing stuttering, Barry has finally found his grove and is ready for stand up at all the talks he'll be paid to deliver when he leaves the White House with his trans spouse Michael. Obamanos all the way to the bank, change we shouldn't have believed in. NPR
      "Women's card"? Donald's deck of Trump Cards: Sexist, Bully, Fool, Bigot, Jerk (Bennett)

      Enlightenment in Buddhism (video)

      Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; VICELAND (YT)
      Light streams in over the Buddha, Tham Khao Luang Cae temple, Thailand (Damon Billian)
      Golden Buddha in a massive cavern in Thailand (Damon Billian/flickr.com)
       
      "Life is a ride," so we write


      Enlightenment in Buddhism
      Editors, Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit
      The Buddha, newly enlightened weeks earlier, sets in motion the wheel of the Dharma by teaching the five ascetics until they gain enlightenment and become the first monastic disciples (VinayakH).
      .
      Dharma Wheel.svgThe English term enlightenment or awakening (bodhi) is the English translation of the term bodhi or "awakening," which has entered the Western world via the 19th century translations of German Buddhist scholar Max Müller.

      It has the connotation of a sudden insight into a transcendent, liberating truth. 

      "Enlightenment" is also often misused to translate several other Buddhist terms and concepts that denote an epiphany or some measure of wisdom (prajna), satori and kensho (sudden realization and maturing insight); knowledge (vidhya); full liberation from all suffering (nirvana) by release from all disturbing emotions and craving (clinging to the unreal) and the subsequent freedom (vimutti) that results; and the attainment of personal-buddhahood (arhatship), nonteaching-buddhahood, or teaching-buddhahood, as exemplified by the historical Buddha.
       
      What constituted the Buddha's awakening?

      It constituted the gaining of temporary purity of heart/mind through the meditative absorptions, the direct realization of Dependent Origination, and seeing the Three Characteristics of Existence, the direct vision of causes the mind/heart to let go, see things as they truly are, and glimpse nirvana.

      This is the "path of purification" that leads to permanent purity or sainthood (arhatship, the ultimate stage of enlightenment).

      What the renunciate Siddhartha Gautama underwent under the bodhi tree ("Tree of Wisdom" or "Enlightenment Tree") in Bodh Gaya ("Enlightenment Grove") is often described in more general terms:

      Awakening in stages

      What constituted Siddhartha's awakening to "full and perfect enlightenment" (not mere pacceka-buddha-hood, which is enlightenment without being able to teach, or arhatship, i.e., the enlightenment of a disciple who follows a teaching-buddha) involved Three Knowledges that culminate in direct knowledge that liberation has been attained by the combination of absorption (dhyāna) and mindfulness (satipatthana).

      Concentration
      Absorption stabilizes and temporarily purifies the heart/mind (making it very malleable, capable of its innately extraordinary abilities). Many traditions call this "sainthood," but they should not because one will fall back if one does not proceed to a stable state by insight (vipassana) or true knowledge, direct knowledge of the true state of existence, penetrating the Three Characteristics of Existence. What are they?

      Wisdom Quarterly says, If "life is but a dream" then dream, live, but remember to wake up!
       
      Three characteristics
      They are these three: All phenomena, all states, all conditions, all "things" (Pali dhammas) are:
      1. radically impermanent (arising and passing away at every moment),
      2. ultimately disappointing (eustressing, distressing, liable to suffering, unsatisfactory even as they arise, incapable of enduring satisfactoriness leaving one unfulfilled), and finally -- and this is key to every other teaching (Sanskrit, dharma) -- all things are
      3. utterly impersonal (not-self, free of ego).
      Buddha, Kwan Yin (VinayakH)
      When this recognition, seeing the Three Characteristics of All Existing Things, is applied to the understanding of the incessant rise and fall of phenomena, craving stops.
       
      Based on this dispassion, the heart/mind pulls away like a feather in a flame (or like a plastic bag dropped on fire). It withdraws, remains secluded, and sees things as they really are.

      This knowledge-and-vision releases the heart, frees the mind, liberates the individual from delusion. One glimpses or touches nirvana, the deathless, and enters the first stage of enlightenment.

      The relation between meditative absorption (jhana, dhyana) and insight is a core problem in the study of Buddhist philosophy, and it is one of the fundamentals of Buddhist practice.
       
      In the Western world the concept of (spiritual) enlightenment has taken on a romantic meaning. It has become synonymous with self-realization... More

      Bring grizzlies to L.A., Yellowstone... (video)

      Momma, we're hungry. Will you keep us safe so we can thrive? - I'll try.
      (Wild L.A./KCET.org) Los Angeles had grizzlies, but now we have none in all of California

      Bring grizzlies back to L.A.
      Todd Woody (takepart.com) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
      Grizzly (Universal Ed./Getty Images)
      When California insurgents revolted against Mexican rule on June 14, 1846, they raised a rebel banner emblazoned with the fierce and majestic grizzly.

      This was the declaration of the founding of the Bear Flag Republic. Within 80 years, however, the grizzly -- that for millennia roamed from the beaches of Los Angeles to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada -- would be extinct.

      You hear cars coming? - No - Where's mom?
      The last bear to be hunted was shot in 1922 ["Wild LA" says 1908], and two years later came the final sighting of a grizzly in California. Today the bear is seen only on the state flag.
       
      Now an environmental group wants to restore America’s top predator to its namesake state by reintroducing the bear to California as well as to Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. More

      Still endangered in Yellowstone
      A waterfall in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park where grizzlies are returning (YNP).

      Where the buffalo roam (bison) is a wild park named Yellowstone (treakamerica.co.uk)
       
      Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park have made a modest recovery since they were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1975. Where there were only 136 grizzlies in the 1970s, there are now 750 living in Yellowstone today.
       
      The grizzly (left) is a totem keystone species.
      With a vulnerable population still less than a 1,000 strong, the federal government is moving to take the Yellowstone grizzly off the list. This would make the bear a target for trophy hunters.

      Food shortages have made the grizzly's struggle for survival an epic battle. Overfishing has depleted trout that make up a big part of the bear's diet. Climate changes have caused a steep decline in wild berries -- another vital grizzly food.

      Every time a hungry, desperate bear attacks a hiker, the bear is murdered ("euthanized") in retaliation.

      Open season on grizzlies will drive them back to the brink of extinction. Sacred in Sioux mythology, tribe members are strongly opposed to its delisting. 

      Killing a grizzly is tantamount to sacrilege in Sioux belief. Join in demanding that the bear remain ON the endangered species list. More

      Monday, May 2, 2016

      Science reveals: Reality is NOT Real (video)

      Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Prof. Donald D. Hoffman (UCI), Patt Morrison (AirTalk)
      Visitors inspect the work "Spazio ad attivazione cinetica" by Italian artist Marina Apollonio at the Schirn Kunsthalle museum in Frankfurt. The museum shows large-format paintings, objects, and environments by artists fascinated by the physical laws of light and optics who dedicated their work to the study of visual phenomena and principles of perception (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty).

      .
      Reality is nothing like what we think, says UCI neuroscientist
      (The Richest) Illusions are real, in a sense. The mind often fills in blanks and really is fooled. There are two kinds of people in the world. One who extrapolates from incomplete information and. (lol)

      In the 1999 dystopian sci-fi film “The Matrix,” the character played by Keanu Reeves (Neo) is presented with two pills.

      The blue pill will keep things the way they are. The red pill will usher in an entirely different universe. Crips vs. Bloods, Dems vs. Reps, water vs. fire...or there's purple, the blend of the two.



      The idea that “reality” is actually nothing like what we perceive it to be is not new, particularly in the realm of film, literature, or conspiracy theory. As science shows, it turns out that trippy notion might really be true.

      Instead of some larger evil force trying to pull the wool over our eyes, however, a neuroscientist at UC Irvine (Orange County) who’s studied perception and artificial intelligence says (like the Buddha said long before him) that it is our senses -- touch, smell, taste, and so on -- that are doing the cheating.

      AirTalk guest host Patt Morrison speaks with him about his research. Professor of Cognitive Science at University of California, Irvine Donald Hoffman has some startling things to say. AUDIO

      (The Richest) 10 mind blowing optical illusions prove that the camera lies, we can't trust our own eyes, and the label (interpretation) we place on incoming information (sense data) changes what we perceive to what we cognize. "Reality" is not real because it is being distorted and brought into being at the point of entry. As the Buddha said, "I declare within this body, with its perception and intellect, is the world" (AN 4.45). We aren't seeing what's out there but the distortions we cling to and take to be real.
      The Case Against Reality 
      Amanda Gefter (The Atlantic,
      A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.

      As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions -- sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes, thoughts -- are an accurate portrayal of the real world.

      When we stop and think about it -- or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion -- we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality.

      Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it weren’t, wouldn’t evolution [or the nearest predator] have weeded us out by now?

      The True Reality
      Light dawns, and all is clear (Damon Billian).
      The true reality might be forever beyond our reach.

      [That is, if we fail to meditate, undistort the distortions, and find reality using systematic insight-exercises with mind-purifying-serenity, fourfold mindfulness, vipassana, and the analysis of the dependent origination of all things (with the sole exception of nirvana) which the Buddha made known. Buddhist practice leads out of ignorance and therefore frees us of all suffering].

      But surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what true reality is really like? Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman... More

      UCLA: Putting Indigenous LA on the map

      Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; Katherine Davis-Young (Take Two); Fowler; UCLA
      Los Angeles, seen from air, has grown to population of 4,031,001 (laist.com, May 2, 2016).

      UCLA project maps LA's Native American lands
      Tongva tribe's last survivor, Juana Maria (W)
      L.A. is home to one of the largest populations of indigenous people in the United States.
       
      That includes those who are native to Southern California and indigenous peoples from across the country who have relocated here.

      Yet, many of L.A.’s indigenous peoples find that awareness of their communities can be lacking among the general population.
       
      “As a teenager I got really frustrated when people would ask me, ‘Where are you from? What’s your heritage?’ and I would tell them. And they would know nothing about the indigenous people of this area. A lot of our own people didn’t even know.”

      L.A., now in drought, is not a desert but a semi-arid region.
      So says Craig Torres (shown below), a member of the Tongva community.

      His ancestors, called "Gabrieleño" (people of the San Gabriel mountain range, which are the mountains above Los Angeles along the Gabrielino Trail) by the invading Spanish, were native to the L.A. basin before European settlers arrived.



      Tongva: Natives of LA
      California islands of Chumash and Tongva
      Since the Tongva people -- the major Native American tribe of the L.A. basin -- have never been federally recognized as a tribe, they have no reservation, no official cultural center, and only scattered resources for preserving their heritage.

      That lack of access to accurate information about L.A.’s Native American communities sparked an idea with a group of researchers at UCLA.

      “Really what we wanted to do is create kind of a virtual world where people would have access to the different-layered indigenous L.A.,” said Mishuana Goeman, a member of the Tonawanda band of Seneca Indians, and a professor at UCLA.

      Tongva sandpainting, Vajrayana Buddhist "sand mandala" style, Los Angeles (arcgis.com).

      Goeman and other faculty and student researchers are developing a new educational website called Mapping Indigenous LA.

      Mapping Indigenous LA
      The site aims to be a  comprehensive resource for information about L.A.’s indigenous groups. Goeman and the rest of the team collaborated with community members to piece together L.A.’s history told from the indigenous perspective.

      “When we’re looking at everything around us in L.A., everything is fenced off, has boundaries, people own this, people own that,” said Desiree Martinez, a Tongva community member and an archaeologist.

      “But for native communities, when we look at the land, it’s all connected. So we’re trying to document the way native people look at the land.”

      The site points out some L.A. places that indigenous people see differently, like the area of downtown L.A. where indigenous slaves were once traded, or Kuruvunga Springs [at Uni High] near UCLA, which was once the center of a thriving Tongva village.

      “Those places have been excavated archeologically, but you have to know where to find that information,” said Wendy Teeter, curator of archaeology for UCLA’s Fowler Museum and another researcher for the Mapping Indigenous L.A. project. 


        “Los Angeles’ history really needs to be given back to people and we need to have those first-person stories from the communities talk about why these spaces are important and not to be forgotten.”

        The site launched in October and is still in development, but the project goes beyond just information about the Tongva, Chumash, and other Southern California indigenous communities.

        Los Angeles has become home to American Indians from across the country, as well as indigenous peoples from Latin America and Pacific Island nations, who relocated here voluntarily or through displacement over many generations. Goeman said each of those communities has its own history within L.A.

        “That’s something we wanted to get at: how do you begin to make a place? It’s not like when you get here you forget all your old world.”

        Goeman said the researchers are happy to provide the platform and hope community members will come forward to tell their own stories.


        The site illustrates those stories through interactive maps, timelines, digitized historical documents, links to other educational resources, and video interviews with community members.

        Goeman and her team said most of this information was publicly available before, but it has never been conveniently compiled in one place. The team hopes the Website will become a trustworthy resource for information that has been vetted by the communities represented.

        Launching a Dream: Reviving Tongva Maritime Traditions For the first time in more than 200 years, the Tongva community launched a Southern Californian Indian sewn plank-canoe (ti'at, Chumash tomol) into the channel waters off Catalina Island.
        .
        Goeman said a major goal of the Mapping indigenous L.A. project is to get across the idea that indigenous communities are not a thing of the past in California.

        In fact, census data shows the state has the highest number of residents with American Indian or Alaska Native heritage in the country -- over 700,000.

        “If you’re there being presented with a live, living person, it really gets past that stereotype that Indian people are dead or still dying,” Goeman said.

        “What people don’t realize is we’ve actually increased in numbers, and we’ve increased in knowledge and we’ve increased in the recovery of our languages through revitalization, and that’s kind of what we want to show, that vibrancy.” More + AUDIO