Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Challenge what you believe

I came across this thought provoking piece of advice while I was reading today:

Do not simply believe what you hear just because you have heard it for a long time.

Do not follow tradition blindly merely because it has been practiced in that way for many generations.

Do not be quick to listen to rumors.

Do not confirm anything just because it agrees with your scriptures.

Do not foolishly make assumptions.

Do not abruptly draw conclusions by what you see and hear.

Do not be fooled by outward appearances.

Do not hold on tightly to any view or idea just because you are comfortable with it.

Do not accept as fact anything that you yourself find to be logical.

Do not be convinced of anything out of respect or deference to your spiritual teachers.

You should go beyond opinion and belief. You can rightly reject anything which when accepted, practiced, and perfected leads to more aversion, more craving and more delusion. They are not beneficial and to be avoided.

Conversely, you can rightly accept anything which when accepted and practiced leads to unconditional love, contentment and wisdom. These things allow you time and space to develop a happy and peaceful mind.

This should be your criteria on what is and what is not the truth; on what should be and what should not be the spiritual practice.

-From the Kalama Sutra, The Buddha


Animal Humane Society Talking Cats

While taking a break from late night work, I was watching some trashy reality TV online and this commercial to promote the adoption of cats from the Animal Humane Society came on:
I am normally not a cat person, at all. But, this particular commercial just made my heart melt.

Check it out...and maybe consider adopting a kitty?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So...the world is ending today?

So, as we've all heard, Harold Camping, the 89 year old Christian Radio broadcaster and President of Family Radio, a California-based religious media network, has predicted the end of the world to be today. Camping performed a series of ridiculous calculations, supposedly using data from the Bible to determine that today, May 21st, 2011 would be the beginning of Rapture. It is said this is the beginning of the end of the world, with the actual end being 5 months from today. It is said that during Rapture, all believers, or followers of Jesus Christ will ascend to heaven, while the rest of us non-believers/sinners/heathens are left to experience constant earthquakes, fire, famine and locusts(locusts, really?!).

On paper, one would assume that Camping is an intelligent man, he obtained  BS in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Personal experience has generally had me believe that most Berkeley engineers are quite smart individuals. Hm, I guess not in this case. While normally, I would say that these types of notions are guided by attempts to racket money, it doesn't seem as if Camping has encouraged his followers to necessarily donate all of their money and possessions to his organization. But, he has simply encouraged all those who believe in the May 21st rapture to donate all of their money and be rid of all of their worldly possessions-- if the world is ending, what use are your things?

What especially troubles me about Camping's prediction is not just that he is clearly WRONG(at the time that I write this, New Zealand has already passed the time the rapture was supposed to occur without incident), but that he would encourage all of his followers to be rid of their worldly belongings, when it is reported that he himself has maintained his homestead, and has not given away all of his money. What makes it worse is that not only have many of his followers obliged his request, but they have also left their jobs and spent much of the last few months attempting to spread the word of today's Judgement Day. I would imagine that many(though unfortunately not all) of his followers are ill-educated, and will be put in a very difficult position when they wake on Sunday morning and realize that: 1.) The world has not in fact ended, 2.) Harold Camping is incredibly ignorant and irresponsible, 3.) Shit, I have no place to live, 4.) Shit, I have no way of sustaining my life--welfare here I come! Encouraging his followers to act as he was not willing to act, by getting rid of all worldly possessions, is not only wrong and disturbing, but it is IRRESPONSIBLE. Hello, how can he not even have a modicum of social responsibility?

That being said, I feel especially sorry for the children of parents who are devout believers in Camping's prediction. I especially felt bad for the children of a woman who was interviewed that blatantly stated: "I worry about my children. I know they will not be going to Heaven with me and my husband. But I just have to accept it--my children are sinners." Sheesh, and I thought my parents were hard on me? Not only is it unfortunate that these children have crazy parents, but you can't help but be a bit concerned about the psychological well-being of these young ones.

On a more amusing note, there are (real) companies lead by Athiests that advertise their services of saving the pets of believers after the ascend to heaven on Judgement Day. Hilarious, no? When I initially saw this website, I thought it was a joke:
Eternal Earth-bound Pets, USA
Nope, it's completely real. And to be honest, I'm slightly jealous that I did not come up with the idea myself. This company is clearly experiencing insane volume with a flat fee, for a service they will never have to complete. They aren't one bit dishonest in their business pitch, they can't help it if their clients are among the ignoramus that believe the May 21st end-of-days prophecy. Hmm, perhaps I will be the one to come up with the next ingenious money-making idea the next time religion makes everybody lose their minds?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I am impossibly grumpy right now. The last 2-3 weeks have been madness in terms of deadlines and other work that needs to get done. I miss seeing the people I enjoy spending time with(yes, I miss you, you and YOU). And I miss sleep.

Better too busy than sitting idle though, right?

The good news? I am officially done with my first master's degree. Hurrah! Hopefully no more than 2 more degrees until I've reached the terminal degree of my academic education.

A more substantial post to follow in a few days.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is Dead: Thank God, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed (PBUH) and Buddha...!(?)

(DISCLAIMER: Bits and pieces of this are borrowed from various sources and people, it's not all my own)

This evening, while napping, I was awoken by the sound of my phone binging upon receiving multiple text alerts from CNN informing me that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Attabad or Abbottabad, Pakistan-- some 35 miles from Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad. It is said that he was shot in the head after an exchange of gunfire during a 40 minute raid, by 20-30 US Navy SEALs, on his heavily guarded million dollar compound. US troops immediately recovered his body, after which he was identified via facial recognition, DNA testing and identification by one of his wives. His body was buried at sea, according to Islamic tradition, shortly thereafter in order to avoid making his grave site a shrine for his followers.

My initial reaction was one of disbelief, we had been chasing this elusive terrorist for over 9 and 1/2 years now. Could it be that we had FINALLY achieved what every national politician in the last 9 and 1/2 years has been promising--his death? When I turned on the television, I found President Obama addressing the nation:

I was met with the immediate realization that this was indeed reality. Waves of relief, happiness, shock and sadness simultaneously washed over me. I was incredibly happy, relieved and shocked that at long last, the man who conducted the largest terrorist attack on US soil, on September 11th, 2001, was finally put to justice. However, I could not escape my deep-rooted emotions of sadness and shock-- the recollection of the tens of thousands of innocent soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in pursuit of this sick individual makes my heart wrench. It's almost as if the images of the burning Twin Towers and Osama Bin Laden's deceptive face are emblazoned on my mind.  I mean, don't these images rouse some type of memory or emotion within you?:

Make no mistake, I could not be more relieved that an individual who is such a strong symbol of international terror is now gone. But we must remember that Osama Bin Laden is exactly that. A very powerful, rousing SYMBOL of terror and destruction. His death does not mean the end of terrorism. His death does not mean the end of al Qaeda.  In fact, it is said that his death could be the start of a string of retaliatory attacks around the world and on our nation.

While I would wonder who wouldn't be at least marginally relieved that he can no longer bastardize a beautiful faith like Islam, and inflict death and destruction upon countless innocent individuals, I feel that perhaps this should more so be a moment of introspection-- not necessarily one of flippant merriment. We must reflect upon the horrors and atrocities that millions of people across the world went through during the last 10 years.
10 years, 2 wars, 919,967 deaths and $1,188,263,000,000 later, and we managed to kill one person. Was it worth it?
We must question:
What comes next? 
Tonight as a nation we celebrated justice, but justice for whom? 
What has ultimately been achieved and what will change? 

How does our reaction relate to the future... when we wake up tomorrow, with what responsibility do we wake? Surely there is an obligation to peace which is much greater than what we, the world, have borne for the last ten years?

If violence begets we only have more violence to look forward to? If so, why do most of us feel such resonating emotions of simultaneous relief and anxiety?

This is all necessary food for thought amidst the rousing celebrations and sentiments of relief.

Interestingly enough, exactly 66 years ago, on May 1st, 1945, Germany announced Hitler was dead. Perhaps May 1st is the day of the dead societal menace.
Ultimately, I feel that the 9/11 generation is allowed to not be afraid for once, if only for a few days, we are allowed to be optimistic(no matter how misguided these sentiments may be).
...and now to leave you on a more light-hearted note: