Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year!



Making statement 

By Andrew Cohen

When you look at spiritual life in an evolutionary context, you cannot see yourself and your own development as separate from the entire cosmic continuum of the life process. And this creates a profound moral context for your own spiritual evolution - a moral imperative to transform yourself. Why? Because you and the process are one. 

Think about it - if you are the highest expression, as far as we know, of the leading edge of the entire evolutionary unfolding, then what you do is always a reflection of the process itself. The way in which you engage with the world is a statement about how you see and understand the process that gave life to you. The expression of your own humanity - your greater or lesser degree of inspired moral development, higher virtue, and spiritual enlightenment - is an expression of what the leading edge of the process actually is. Your life - the life you are living right now - is a public event, an evolutionary event, an event that says something significant about Life itself. The way you are, as an individual, is your personal contribution to what evolution looks like here and now. 

If you aspire to live an exemplary life - if you strive to express the most deeply positive capacities in the human soul, and actually succeed, to some degree - then you are making a very positive statement about our shared evolutionary process. But if you choose, consciously or unconsciously, to live a life of mediocrity, then you are also making a statement. Because you are not flourishing, what you're saying, whether you intend to or not, is that the evolutionary process is not flourishing. 

So when you begin to recognize that your own presence here in this world is part of something infinitely bigger than yourself, you feel a sense of obligation awakening within you - a spiritually inspired obligation to be the very best you can be for the sake of the process itself. And the way you respond to that obligation, to that sense of cosmic responsibility, is by demonstrating that the process is profoundly positive, indeed the process is sacred, through your own example, through your own victory, through your own tangible and unmistakable higher development.

In this spirit, wishing everyone an amazing New Year! With Love Light and Laughter - Dominique



Monday, December 28, 2009

Spiritual Message in Avatar Movie



Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Thriller
Directorr: James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Peter Mensah, Laz Alonso, Wes Studi, Stephen Lang
Soundtrack: James Horner
Length: 162 minutes
Budget: estimated $425 Million 

Plot: Jake Sully, a former US marine confined to a wheel chair, arrives on the moon Pandora on a unique mission as a replacement for his diseased twin brother. Soon, he becomes torn between his duty to follow orders and the need to protect and save the the civilization he was introduced to. 

Avatar - a long anticipated movie by James Cameron opened nationwide on the December 18th after four years of actual production process. Although the plot is not very original and rather predictable and the characters somewhat one-dimensional, the new technology especially developed for the movie takes the viewer into a new dimension. It is a unique, unforgettable cinematic experience, a visual extravaganza, if the film is watched in 3D. Spectacular images almost literally let one directly participate in the enchanting world of the Na'vi civilization. 

Avatar is the epitome of James Cameron's creative work. It is the director's Opus Magnum with a powerful environmental message that everything is interconnected. All beings are connected to nature and must respect its wisdom. Materialistic exploitation of nature brings doom to those ignorant of the fact that we can only survive in symbiotic connection with the environment. This is a timely message in the face of the continuous environmental destruction here on our planet Earth, where the need of technological progress and the urge to maximize profits alienated us from the wisdom of the indigenous cultures and that of our own ancestors.

The scenario is set in the year 2154. Most of the natural resources on Earth have been depleted through excessive and ruthless exploitation. A mission is set to use military force to conquer Pandora - a moon roughly the size of the Earth. Pandora is rich in an unique mineral that is desperately needed on Earth. Pandora is inhabited by a wise, peaceful, and nature-loving blue skinned beings who call themselves the Na'vi. They are warriors and ready to protect their habitat. They understand and respect their connection with nature. They worship a pantheistic deity they called Eywa. Their universe is reminiscent of the Buddhist concept of the Jewel Net of Indra as postulated by the Hwa Yen sect. Everything is interconnected. Everything forms an organic unity. Everything contains the Whole and is, at the same time, an inherent part of it. The Na'vi have the ability to transcend their individuality and see themselves as inherent elements of a bigger structure, a Gaia-like organism - the all encompassing global Consciousness. They possess neural connection fibers that allow them to connect to all other living beings on Pandora and thus become ONE with everything that lives. They are able to communicate with every living being on the planet and to access the collective memory of their race. They trust in the healing power of Nature and believe that all their energy is borrowed and has to be returned once they die.

In the Hindu tradition, avatars are the reincarnations of deities sent to save the mankind in times of great peril. In Cameron's movie, avatars are hybrid beings. They are genetically engineered Na'vi who are powered by the human consciousness that is temporarily transferred into their bodies. They were created by human scientists who intended to investigate the Na'vi culture. The project, however, is high jacked by a greedy corporation whose only intention is the exploitation of the planet's resources. A battle ensues and eventually, Jake Sully in the hybrid avatar body becomes a savior for the Na'vi. If we, however, look at this from a different perspective, Jake Sully is our avatar and here to save us, the viewers. He is here to open our eyes and save us as a race, a species, on the brink of self-destruction.
"I've wanted to make this movie from the time I wrote the treatment 11 years ago. I was just biding my time for when it was going to be technically possible. I'm so invested in the 3-D, and I love the challenge of creating an alien culture. We're creating a world from scratch, so it's really fun." James Cameron
James Cameron speaks on many levels. While depicting a fantastic culture, the film addresses a whole spectrum of contemporary issues:
  • Profit seeking corporation ruthlessly destroying both, environment and the indigenous cultures - the destruction of the Amazon jungles comes to mind immediately
  • Lack of respect for the habitats of other living creatures - urban and agricultural expansion to satisfy the needs of a senselessly uncontrolled growth of Earth's population
  • Controversial military expeditions to secure resources
The movie sends a powerful message to contemporary viewers. The senseless expansion and destruction of our environment has a butterfly effect. It affects all life on Earth. The wisdom that once was inherent to all cultures, was destroyed in the West with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Technological progress has its price as can be seen in the daily news and reports about environmental catastrophes in both, developed and developing countries. We became the invaders destroying our own habitat. Those who accuse Cameron of being anti-technology, anti-progress, and anti-human, missed the point. Our modern technology is a double edged sword. It has enormous potential to create and to destroy. If we as civilization do not collectively reflect on our attitudes and practices, we will have to pay the highest price - self annihilation. And we will not be the first civilization that died out. Cameron does not postulate that we have to give up technology. We have to learn how to use it to "defend" the environment in which we live.

Paradigm change is badly needed and there is a strong tendency to create new awareness. Jake Sully learns about the Na'vi culture and becomes a member of the clan in the body of an avatar - a genetically engineered being in which human DNA is morphed with that of the Na'vi. He undergoes a personal "metamorphose". He has to resolve his own inner conflict and make a choice. His transformation illustrates the evolution of the mind. He returns to the state of innocence integrating at the same time the knowledge and values of a human being. He is the wounded hero who undergoes initiation and emerges as a savior. 

There is a lot of optimism in Cameron's message as the good wins the battle against the ignorant. We can only survive as species when we learn to respect nature and the wisdom of our ancestors. And we must remember that we did not only inherit our planet from our ancestors. We borrowed it from our children.

By Dominique Allmon
Image credit here
Avatar 
Avatar Music From The Motion Picture Music Composed And Conducted By James Horner 
The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure 
60 Minutes - Cameron's Avatar (November 22, 2009) 

Creative Commons License
James Cameron - Spiritual Message in Avatar Movie by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Cup of Tea



Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."


By Ray Bradbury, American Author


Also of interest

         

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Legend of Mistletoe



"Mystical power of mistletoe and the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe owe itself to the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. Frigga was the Goddess of Love and her son, Balder, was the God of the Summer Sun. Once, Balder dreamt of his death. He was worried and told his mother about the strange dream. Frigga was worried not only for the life of her son but also for the life on Earth because she knew that without Balder, all life on Earth would come to an end. Thus, she did her utmost to avoid such a mishap and went everywhere and to every being in air, water, fire and earth to extract a promise that they would never harm her son. She was promised safety of her son by every animal and plant under and above the Earth. However, Loki, the God of Evil, who was the enemy of Balder and always had evil designs in his mind, was aware that there was one plant that Frigga had overlooked. It grew on apple and oak trees and was known as Mistletoe. Thus, Loki made an arrow and placed Mistletoe at its tip. He then beguiled the blind brother of Balder known as Hoder, the God of Winter, and made him shoot this arrow at Balder. Balder immediately was poisoned and died. Everybody was worried as the Earth turned cold and life became dreary. Every creature tried to bring Balder back to life for three days but it was finally Frigga who managed to revive her son with the help of Mistletoe. Her tears on the plant became pearly white berries and she blessed the plant anyone who stands under the mistletoe plant would never be harmed and would be entitled to a kiss as a token of love."

Christmas coincides with the Winter solstice which was honored in many ancient cultures. In ancient Rome this day was celebrated as the Dies Natalis Invicti Solis
, the birth of the Sun god. Many rituals that are associated with Christmas today derive their origins from Pagan worship and celebrations.
 


The Christmas tree is one such example. The tree represents Axis Mundi that connects heaven and earth. It is a symbol common to all cultures of the northern Europe that celebrated the winter solstice. It was a custom to bring evergreen trees into the homes as a reminder that the winter will be over soon and the crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were often carried as symbols of good luck and were often present at weddings where they represented fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshiping huge trees.


Wishing everyone  a healthy and peaceful Christmas. May your hearts be filled with joy!


Dominique Allmon

Monday, December 21, 2009

21st December - Winter Solstice


Michael Kenna

On the 21st December our Winter officially begins. For some of us real, white Winter began already a few weeks ago. It is incredibly cold here, but the world looks so pretty!

Here is an article about the Winter solstice. I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Winter Solstice Tradition

"Winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Traditionally, it is a time of both foreboding and expectancy, as the longest night leads to the revival of the sun. And yet it is a turning point, when the sun reaches its southernmost point from the equator and seems to pause before reversing course. “Solstice” in Latin means “the sun standing still.”

In ancient times, observers watched the sun sink lower in the sky each day, and feared it would disappear completely and leave them in darkness.

People practiced special rituals intended to entice the sun’s return. Bonfires and candles, with their imitative magic, helped fortify the waning sun and ward off the spirits of darkness. These symbols live on in our modern seasonal customs: the candles of Hanukkah and Christmas are kin to the fiery rites of old, which celebrated the miracle of the earth’s renewal.

These traditions reflect our need to come together in times of extended darkness. We celebrate not only the rebirth of the sun, but the community of life on earth."

The image credit here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ancient Angel


Ancient Angel by Ofri Cnaani

Angels are the guardians of hope and wonder, the keepers of magic and dreams. Wherever there is love, an angel is flying by. Your guardian angel knows you inside and out, and loves you just the way you are. Angels keep it simple and always travel light. Remember to leave space in your relationships so the angels have room to play. Your guardian angel helps you find a place when you feel there is no place to go. Whenever you feel lonely, a special angel drops in for tea. Angels are with you every step of the way and help you soar with amazing grace. After all, we are angels in training. All we have to do is spread our wings and fly...

Author unknown but greatly appreciated

Image credit here

Friday, December 18, 2009

The First Snow



It was snowing for the whole day... And it looks like we are going to have real nice, white Christmas over here. To share the joy with you, here is a poem The first Snow by James Russell Lowell


The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
with a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep in pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?"
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered that gradual patience
That fell from that cloud-like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
"The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

National Cupcake Day


 

Here is a sweet recipe to celebrate the National Cupcake Day. Enjoy! 

~ Chocolate Cupcake Recipe ~

Ingredients:

• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 large eggs
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 4 ounces melted unsweetened  baking chocolate

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • Combine all ingredients into large mixing bowl.  Mix at low speed for 30 seconds and scrape the bowl.  Mix at high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Fill liners 1/2 to 2/3 full with batter.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire racks to cool completely.
  • Frost and decorate when chocolate cupcakes cooled completely. Enjoy in good company!


Recipe source here
Image credit here

 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Landscape, With Rooks




Winter landscape, with rooks
by Sylvia Plath

Water in the millrace, through a sluice of stone,
plunges headlong into that black pond
where, absurd and out-of-season, a single swan
floats chaste as snow, taunting the clouded mind
which hungers to haul the white reflection down.

The austere sun descends above the fen,
an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look
longer on this landscape of chagrin;
feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook,
brooding as the winter night comes on.

Last summer's reeds are all engraved in ice
as is your image in my eye; dry frost
glazes the window of my hurt; what solace
can be struck from rock to make heart's waste
grow green again? Who'd walk in this bleak place?

Image credit here

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Bodhi Day!



Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Bodhi Day on the 8th December. This day honors the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

As Shakyamuni strove for final enlightenment Mara saw that if this would be accomplished his hold over men would be broken and the Buddha would be able to show men the WAY that liberates from suffering. Mara tried to distract Shakyamuni by sending hordes of demons to torment him but he did not fear them.

When that failed Mara sent his most beautifull daughter to seduce him but as she stands before Shakyamuni she is seen to be a ugly hag, where-upon Mara admits absolute defeat.

Shakyamuni moved his right (bhumisparsa mudra) hand from his lap to touch the ground, stating "the earth is my whitnnes". This act of unwavering resolve caused Mara and his army of demons and temptresses to disperse, and Shakyamuni then experience his great enlightenment."


Happy Bodhi Day to all of you!

Image credit here

         

Karol Bąk


Jantar cycle, Karol Bąk 2008

Karol Bąk is a painter, illustrator, graphic artist. He was born in 1961 in Kolo, Poland. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan and graduated in 1989.  Since then he has had 17 solo exhibitions and taken part in 10 group exhibitions. He paints using oil on canvas and  often works on a few paintings at the same time. Karol Bąk creates realistic canvasses with many of his figurative works being inspired by myth and mythology. He works and lives in Poznan, Poland.

Image credit here

Artist's website  Karol Bąk Art

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Alien Princess and Me

 
H.R.Giger


The Alien Princess and Me by James W. Allmon


You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “Love at first sight”, but how about “Love at first empathetic touch of your cerebral cortex”? 

Okay, it’s a mouth full, I get it. And you probably don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Let me explain. One day I was minding my own business, having a cool and frosty beverage on the beach, when I felt a presence inside my head. It wasn’t anything that startled me, just a calm and sweet something.

I gazed around the beach with the idea I might see what was causing it, but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

As I closed my eyes and leaned back into my lounger the presence grew stronger. I know it sounds weird, but I didn’t feel threatened. I suppose I had a huge question mark in my mind, just like the ones you see in the comics. To my amazement I felt, more than heard, a voice ask me if I was okay.

How can you answer that? I mean, a voice in your head, talking to you and asking if you’re okay? Good grief! But somehow, I was. In fact, I was damned curious because the “voice” was incredibly sexy and unlike any I had ever heard. Even stranger was the fact it had what I thought was an otherworld accent. Well, I know it wasn’t Japanese or French at least. Now, I don’t normally think with an accent and guess you probably don’t either, so I was thinking this was a bit unusual. Even for me. 

“Who are you?” I said. Realizing I spoke aloud to apparently no one, I glanced around to see if anyone was preparing to call the Happy Home. Nothing. Not even a sideways look. Thank goodness for cell phones and wireless ear things to make possibly unhinged people appear normal.

“Don’t be frightened”, the voice said. Frightened? Hell, I was totally hooked! 

“Uh, who are you?” I asked as nonchalantly as possible. 

“My name is Athanora and I come from very far away.” 

 “No kidding!” I thought. 

 “No kidding at all.” 

 “Oh crap! She read my thoughts!”

“Yes.” She sounded amused. “But I won’t unless you ask me to. Your privacy is safe with me. ” 

Oddly, I believed her. Something about her exuded trust.

“What do you want? I mean, uh, I know that sounded terrible, but why are you talking to me?” God, I sounded lame. I mean, is that any way to talk to a sexy, disembodied voice?

“I need your help.”

How was I supposed to say no? I mean, come on! I was ready t swim the ocean if she asked me to. How was this possible you ask? Fair enough. I found out later that she was accessing the mirror neurons in my brain to help me empathize with hers. They sort of cause a reflex action in a person brain that sees another doing something. In this case it was emotions. I was feeling her feelings. I recommend it, guys. It’s a terrific shortcut to the heart of the matter if you’ll pardon the analogy. It makes you think you can understand women.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Germany.” She replied.

“What? How am I supposed to help you’re way over there?” Isn’t it funny that the fact I was holding a conversation completely inside my head wasn’t the issue? “What do you want me to do?”

“I lost my ship and I need your help to locate, and most probably, to facilitate healing repairs.”

“But… “

“Don’t worry. I can show you how to do everything you need. The knowledge is easily transferred into your human brain.” 

Up to now I was convinced I was still fairly sane, but this just did me in. “What? Human? Aren’t you?”

“Not exactly, Jimi” 

She knows my name! Holy shit! 

Sparkling light filled my mind and I can only describe it as laughter. It was amazingly sweet and I never wanted it to go away. 

“Yes, I do. I can read your mind, remember? I scanned you before I made myself known in order to verify you were, in fact, the correct one for my needs.” 

 I shivered, but not from the heat of the Florida sun. I felt blessed, somehow.

“Uh…” I articulated with aplomb.

More sparkling light. Wow!

“How, uh, what can I do? I’m not rich and can’t really go anywhere to look for your ship. Besides, if you lost it, how do you expect me to find it? And what would I do if I did?” 

“Be patient.” Her voice was hypnotic and soothing. “Close your eyes and relax your thoughts. I’ll show you.” 

The sparkling light in my mind grew brighter and brighter until it deleted all thought. I seemed to be floating in an ocean of white light with no up, down, right or left. I definitely wasn’t in Kansas! 

A small speck appeared in the distance. It could have been very close or a million miles away. As it turned out, it was much closer and much farther at the same time. It has something to do with the Quantum Reality Matrix. Interesting, huh? But I digress.

The speck grew in my focus and I made out a woman’s face that was singular in its beauty. The halo of her hair was just the right shade of brown, her lips full and sensual, her face amazing in its perfect symmetry, but it was her eyes that held me captive. Green pools of jade gazed confidently into mine and I have to tell you, I was a goner. My heart was no longer mine in any way, shape or form.

I sighed. It was all I could do.

“Hello, Jimi. Here I am." She seemed to breathe the words while a small secret smile played with the corners of her mouth.

“Uh…” God, I’m such a brilliant conversationalist!

“We have very little time. May I show you where I last saw my ship?”  

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. After all, I didn’t want to look like a complete moron.

She reached up with her right hand and touched me on the cheek. Her palm was cool and soft and it beat the hell out of the Vulcan mind meld thing I saw on Star Trek! Abruptly, as if someone changed the channel, I saw the Earth from a very long way out and realized the view was from past the moon’s orbit. I seemed to be viewing it through some sort of control panel as it grew alarmingly fast. There were bright flashing lights and piercing alarms blasting out their warnings. Our hand (ours?) flew over the controls in a furious attempt to right whatever was wrong. We felt frightened and unsure of what was happening. We also knew the emotions and visions were from Athanora. It was odd experiencing her memories while able to watch from my perspective as well. I had merged with her in almost every way. It was weirdly exhilarating.

There was a sudden wail of a different klaxon and our attention was jerked to another readout. I didn’t know what it was trying to say, but we knew it wasn’t good. There was a sharp intake of our breath and sudden fear nearly paralyzed us. We paused for the space of three very rapid heartbeats, and decided. We grasped the sides of the command couch, felt for the hand grips on either side and pulled as hard as we could. 

We felt the cool organic embrace of the Life Support Cocoon as it enveloped our body in just under a millisecond. The next thing we knew we were ejected and alone in space as we watched the ship enter the atmosphere trailing a hideous plume of aquamarine fire. We felt a wrenching in our soul as we saw the sleek silver ship plummet into the Earth’s embrace. The auto sequencer wetware in our brain activated the homing and tracking signal so we would be able to locate the ship as soon as we were able. That is, if she were intact. 

The LSC computed the safest trajectory for our body’s descent to the planet surface. It deployed the .01cm thick bio-carbon wings and we flew like a bat into hell. We couldn’t see anything with our eyes, but the sensors input the data straight into our neuro-wetworks, allowing us to visualize perfectly. We arced gracefully over what I knew was the North Atlantic until we approached the European Continent. We felt nervous because the LSC didn’t have long-range capabilities and would soon fail if we didn’t land. Fortunately the universe was with us and we touched down safely on the outskirts of a large city. After scanning the area and deciding there was no public outcry over our sudden appearance, we allowed the LSC to dissolve into vapor.

“But the ship?” I thought. “Where did it go? Is it still intact?”

We caused the memory of the landing to freeze and accessed a map in the virtual network embedded in our brain. A perfect 3D rendering of the earth sprang into life spinning on its axis until the South Pacific came into view. The image zoomed inward and was filled with ocean and tiny dots of land. It was some sort of island chain. 

“The ship is there. She’s intact, but needs healing. Will you help us?” 

“You talk about it like it’s alive or something.” I said. This was more than a little confusing at this point. I’m sure you’d agree.

“She is. She’s my sister.”

By James W. Allmon ©2009