Thursday, September 25, 2008

Baboons and Humans Both Suffer from Hierarchy-Related Stress

Baboons are aggressive, mean-spirited and wild. And when it comes to stress, apparently they are just like humans. Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky has been decoding the mysteries of stress by studying baboons from Kenya's plains, and he discovered that the animal's rank as a leader or a follower had a direct link to the level of stress.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mahatma Gandhi and Non Violence


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Porbandar the present day state of Gujarat in India on October 2, 1869. He was educated in Law at University College, London. In 1891. In London, Gandhi encountered theosophists, vegetarians, and others who were disenchanted not only with industrialism, but with the legacy of Enlightenment thought. They themselves represented the fringe elements of English society. Gandhi was powerfully attracted to them, as he was to the texts of the major religious traditions; and ironically it is in London that he was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita . After having been admitted to the British bar, Gandhi returned to India and attempted to establish a law practice in Bombay, and later spent several years in South Africa.

He lived a spiritual and ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and meditation. His union with his wife became, as he himself stated, that of a brother and sister. Refusing earthly possessions, he wore the loincloth and shawl of the lowliest Indian and subsisted on vegetables, fruit juices, and goat's milk. Indians revered him as a saint and began to call him Mahatma (great-souled), a title reserved for the greatest sages. Gandhi's advocacy of nonviolence, known as ahimsa (non-violence), was the expression of a way of life implicit in the Hindu religion. By the Indian practice of nonviolence, Gandhi held, Great Britain too would eventually consider violence useless and would leave India.

As S Patel wrote : How could a meek and fragile person of small physical stature inspire millions to bring about a profound change in a way the mightiest had never achieved before? His achievements were nothing less than miracles — his creed was to bring peace to not only those who suffered injustice and sorrow but to espouse a new way of life for Mankind, with peace and harmony. His life was a message — a message of peace over power, of finding ways to reconcile our differences, and of living in harmony with respect and love even for our enemy.

Teaching # 1: Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment. — Mahatma Gandhi

The force of power never wins against the power of love. At this hour of greatest unrest and turmoil in our world, the greatest force to be reckoned with lies within our hearts — a force of love and tolerance for all. Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi fought against the power of force during the heyday of British rein over the world. He transformed the minds of millions, including my father, to fight against injustice with peaceful means and non-violence. His message was as transparent to his enemy as it was to his followers. He believed that, if we fight for the cause of humanity and greater justice, it should include even those who do not conform to our cause. History attests to his power as he proved that we can bring about world peace by seeking and pursuing truth for the benefit of Mankind. We can resolve the greatest of our differences if we dare to have a constructive conversation with our enemy.

Teaching # 2: What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

A war always inflicts pain and sorrow on everyone. History has witnessed countless examples of dictators, including Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin to name but a few, who inflicted sorrow and destruction on our world. A world of peace can be achieved if we learn the power of non-violence, as shown by the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi has proven that we can achieve the noble causes of liberty, justice and democracy for Mankind without killing anyone, without making a child an orphan, and without making anyone homeless with the damage caused by war.

Teaching # 3: There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no cause that I am prepared to kill for. — Mahatma Gandhi

We live for our values and passion but at the core of our existence lies our innate desire to live a peaceful life. The greatest noble cause is to display our desire to bring about peace in this world by our own sacrifice and not that of those who oppose our views. The strength of cowardice is in using power to cause death and destruction for others. The strength of courage is in self-sacrifice for the benefit of all.

Mahatma Gandhi sacrificed his own lucrative law practice in Durban, South Africa to lead a simple life and to share the pain of the powerless and destitute. He won over the hearts of millions without ever reigning power over anyone — simply with the power of altruism. We too can bring peace to our world by showing our willingness to sacrifice our self-centered desires. Our utmost cause in life should be to win the hearts of others by showing our willingness to serve causes greater than ourselves.

Teaching # 4: An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind — Mahatma Gandhi

History can attest to the fact that most human conflicts have been as a result of a stubborn approach by our leaders. Our history would turn out for the better if our leaders could just learn that most disputes can be resolved by showing a willingness to understand the issues of our opponents and by using diplomacy and compassion.

No matter where we live, what religion we practice or what culture we cultivate, at the heart of everything, we are all humans. We all have the same ambitions and aspirations to raise our family and to live life to its fullest. Our cultural, religious and political differences should not provide the backbone to invoke conflicts that can only bring sorrow and destruction to our world.

Teaching #5: We must become the change we want to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

A great leader always leads with an exemplary life that echoes his ideals. Mahatma Gandhi sacrificed his thriving law practice and adopted a simple life to live among the millions who lived in poverty during his freedom struggle. Today, we see modern leaders cajoling the masses with promises that they never intend to keep - let alone practicing what they preach in their own lives. One cannot bring world peace to all unless a leader demonstrates peaceful acts of kindness daily. Mahatma Gandhi believed that we are all children of God. We should not discriminate amongst ourselves based on faith, caste, creed or any other differences.

Mahatma Gandhi taught us that we can bring harmony to our world by becoming champions of love and peace for all. The task is daunting, but he has shown that a fragile, meekly man of small physical stature can achieve feats of incredible magnitude with a staunch belief to practice peace through non-violence. Will you make a pledge to become the change that you would like to see in this world? I have.

Some of his famous quotes

Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.

As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.   

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Hate the sin, love the sinner.

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.   

Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.   

I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.   

I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.   

It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always. 

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.   


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Hadron Collider Will Not Destroy the World Tomorrow

You'd better read this today, because it's possible the world will end tomorrow. Strictly speaking, the probability of doomsday isn't any higher than it is on any normal Wednesday, but there's been a fair bit of kerfuffle and hullabaloo over the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and whether it will create a black hole that will destroy the entire pl

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Playing, and even watching, sports improves brain function

The brain boost helps athletes and fans understanding of information about their sport, even though at the time when people are listening to this sport language they have no intention to act.

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Amazing! Intellectual Work Induces Excessive Calorie Intake

A team of researchers have demonstrated that intellectual work induces a substantial increase in calorie intake. Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries.

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