Monday, January 30, 2006

Integral Relationship

In an integral relationship, concern for the other's growth, happiness, needs, and safety transcend one's own ego concerns. For the first time, partners place the other's needs above their own. The approach is similar to being of service to Spirit in that we act in service of our partner, who in our eyes manifests Spirit. This does not mean we ignore or reject our own needs but, rather, that we seek ways to transcend purely egoic needs in order to serve a higher purpose (a soul-level relationship, our soul needs, and the soul needs of our partner). Even if we can't live in this elevated moral position every minute of every day, we must be able to access it in times of conflict. The ability to hold a transcendent moral stance in times of conflict is what allows us to place the spirit of the relationship above our own ego needs.
Being able to separate from our ego needs, which are usually tied to emotions, becomes central element of an integrally oriented relationship. Emotional intelligence (affect), as defined by John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey and updated by Daniel Goleman, is crucial to a healthy relationship and, therefore, the foundation of an integral relationship. posted by WH Saturday, January 28, 2006 @ 10:49 AM

e-mail addiction

By VERLYN KLINKENBORG The New York Times : January 29, 2006
For some of us, the computer has become less and less a place to work and more and more a place to await messages from the ether, like hopeful spiritualists. I thought I was a fairly temperate user of computers. But in the past year or so I have become addicted to e-mail. I confess it. You probably know the signs.
  • Do you tell your e-mail program to check for messages automatically every two minutes — and then disbelieve it when it comes up empty?
  • Have you learned to hesitate before answering a new message so it doesn't look as though you were hunched over the keyboard, waiting?
  • Do you secretly think of lunch as a time for your inbox to fill up?

But the clearest sign of e-mail addiction is simply to ask yourself, what is the longest you've gone without checking your e-mail in the past two months? Anything longer than a broken night's sleep is good.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What's Happened to Asian Values?

Anthony Milner
During the years of the 'Asian miracle', of course, there was a sense of exhilaration about the 'Asian values' campaign. Mahbubani wrote of the 'explosion of confidence' that gave East Asians the sense that 'they can do anything as well as, if not better than other cultures' [60]7 . These were indeed heady days for those public intellectuals who, working to some extent in sympathy with the 'Asian values' political leaderships, committed themselves to the task of asserting intellectual as well as political agency on behalf of their region. Today Mahbubani admits a 'genuine hint of regret at having spoken so confidently of the rise of Asia' [61]8 . But I think he is right to see the 'Asian values' debate of the 1990's as only one episode in a much longer process of international, cultural reconfiguration.
Mahbubani is quite mistaken, however, in my view, when he expects that this 1990's debate will be seen in retrospect as the 'initial round' in the long campaign. It actually strengthens his case to situate the debate in its proper place, as occurring well into the long-term process of defending the 'local' in the Asian region against what is seen to be the Western global. To understand the 'Asian values' program within the context of this larger historical realignment, that began in the nineteenth-century, draws attention to the well established forces that will help maintain the momentum for change, even at a time of economic reversal.
While the economic crisis certainly challenges the 'Asian values' proponents and their intellectual allies, the way it is interpreted in the region has to be influenced by the firmly-established 'Asian' campaign of resistance against the liberal, Western ideological program. As we have seen, Mahathir is by no means the only influential figure in the Asian region who resists IMF interpretations and solutions. For many intellectuals and other opinion leaders in Asia the economic downturn has been perceived as a reason for condemning liberal as much, or more than, Asian values. Bitter about the revealed economic vulnerability of their countries and their region, prominent many members of Asian societies feel a renewed distrust of 'The West' and are hardened in their resolve to develop post-colonial visions and meanings for the people of Asia.
The main game in the next months and years will be economic, and the forces of globalisation continue to be formidable in bad as well as good times, as anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Taipei or Manila notices immediately. The power of the United States is such that it is not surprising to hear talk of the triumph of 'Anglo-Saxon market values' and the likelihood of a consolidated American 'hegemon'. In speculating about future directions in Asia, however, it may be dangerous to trivialise 'Asian values'. The real, everyday presence of different and contrasting value systems to be encountered as one crosses the Asian region will continue to influence practical developments in all sorts of fields, including the economic.
We need to be aware also that the category 'Asian', however problematic it might be in cultural terms, is attracting a growing emotional investment. Consciousness of 'Asian', as well as 'Confucian', 'Islamic' or 'Malay' identity - just like the promotion of nationalism within the specific nation states of the region - works to reinforce resistance to the claims of a purportedly universal, global community. For many people, ' the global' has a Western flavour. And the fact that a global economy seems to have failed Asian states makes it possible that the long ideological campaign that seeks to undermine the colonial heritage, and that has underpinned the 'Asian values' proclamations, may gain rather than lose momentum in the next decades. I should like to thank Alison Broinowski, Rey Ileto and Deborah Johnson for their assistance and advice in writing this essay. Professor Anthony Milner is the Dean of the Faculty of Asian Studies at the Australian National University. This paper was first published in a volume titled Beyond the Asia Crisis, edited by David Goodman and Gerald Segal Rutledge, 1999.

Break between state and civil society

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: Go to Pot Sauvik Chakraverti The Times of India Friday, January 20, 2006
Devprayag lies north of Haridwar and Rishikesh, and the great thing about the place is that there are no pilgrims at all. But it must be an even holier place, because here the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet, and it is only thereafter that the river assumes the name Ganga. At the confluence, I was met by a solitary priest. He asked me if I wanted to offer a puja, and I agreed. I tossed some grains of rice and some flower petals into the Ganga and said some mantras. I then paid the priest some money. That is when I decided to perform 'an experiment with truth':
I inquired of the priest: "Panditji, main is pavitra sthaan mein ek chillum peena chahta hoon. Aap kuch intezaam kar saktay hain?" Translated: "Respected priest, I would like to smoke a chillum at this sacred spot. Can you make the necessary arrangements, please?" The priest immediately turned to some caves higher up the mountain slope and shouted, "Bhoothnath! Oi Bhoothnath!" Soon a tall sadhu with dreadlocks emerged. The priest told him to get me the needful and within no time Bhoothnath and I were blowing chillum after chillum at the extremely sacred spot. The priest kept sitting by himself in peaceful contemplation while Bhoothnath and I smoked.
The point is this: Cannabis has always been an integral part of our culture, unlike alcohol. If I had decided to open a bottle of beer at the confluence, no doubt the priest would have thrown both me and the bottle into the Ganga. There are no words for "Cheers" in any Indian language. There are a thousand salutations to Shiva used when lighting a chillum.
It is a shame that our democratically elected legislators have outlawed the one way of getting high we can truly call Indian. It starkly demonstrates the break between state and civil society. It is as absurd as the German parliament passing legislation outlawing beer. Cannabis is non-addictive, unlike tobacco or alcohol. Making it illegal is absurd. So let us all call for a repeal of this repressive, unrepresentative legislation that assaults our own culture. Branded cannabis will deliver better quality than what is available underground. And tourism will hit the roof.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Religion and sex

Prof. Dawkins seems to want to magic religion away. It's a silly delusion comparable to one of another great atheist humanist thinker, J.S. Mill. He wanted to magic away another inescapable part of human experience — sex; using not dissimilar arguments to Prof. Dawkins's, he pointed out the suffering caused by sexual desire, and dreamt of a day when all human beings would no longer be infantilised by the need for gratification, and an alternative way would be found to reproduce the human species. As true of Mill as it is of Dawkins: dream on. Madeleine Bunting The Hindu Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marriage Today

In a predominantly partriarchal society marriage was an apt arrangement which not only helped the economically & physically weaker women to survive but also allowed some rules around sexual communion. But why was this a partriarchal society in the first place? Was it because men were physically stronger or was it something else? I have huge faith in the power of nature to find a solution. I believe that a partriarchal arrangement was nature's way of setting some rules around human survival. It was not a man made arrangement but a culmination of a series of different methods tried at different times. And the best survived. If you disagree you will have to give better reasons.
So why am I raising this now? How much of a partriarchal society is this anymore? I was trying to think of the marriages that are around me. In a majority I see the women have some kind of earning power. In quite a few I even see women having more earning power. In many I see women playing the dominant role. All of these three conditions are alien to men. Now let's look at the men. Once the master of the house he now finds his dominance, his earning power, his decision making all challenged at each point. In many a households they are no more the more educated. Its a quezy situation to be in, more so when you have enjoyed your thousands of years of nature-gifted dominance.But women having allowed themselves to be dominated for circumstancial reasons have regrouped. They are equally educated, earn now and most importantly have discovered that sexuality is no more a disadvantage but can be used to good effect to make way in society.
Result? A permanent feeling of imbalance in most marriages. You fret, you slap, you kick, you fume! Sometimes you kiss and make up. Sometimes you make love and make up. At other times you just drink and make up. Sometimes you just make up. Sometimes you just dont make up and continue. I do not see a single perfect marriage around me. Some are nasty, some stoically pathetic, some are so shamful that the least said the better and some give me the picture of slave trade (does not matter who is the slave and who the master).
So what happens to the institution called marriage whose basic tenets did not factor in a society in which men and women share power. In today's scenario where each of one of us wants to lead a life on our own terms marriage is archaic. Think of it - if you were asked to marry your best friend (forget gender here) would that be exciting? Why would you want to adjust 24 hrs with someone even if he/she is your best friend. For most of us the idea would puke.But it is marriage's second reason that is the bigger problem. And this worries me the most. Most marriages fail after the reckless couple has procreated. And where they dont those moments of make belief kiss and make up (Hollywood Ishtyle) becomes the catalyst of procreation.
Suddenly you are left to parent a progeny who inherits the confused state of the world. Soon it becomes another tool of the power struggle. Like the car, the TV, the fridge it also becomes the bone of contention during nasty moments of tug of war. Unlike the tangibles it cannot be divided into two equal halves. But who cares in this war of the sexes. Each of us become a reason for a blotched childhood that leads to another disastrous adulthood. And the cycle goes on...The law most often, with its eye blindfolded, gives custody of the child to the woman. Is it an acknowledgement of the 9 months of gestation or is it a signal of the imminent shift. But then we still have things like alimony, ladies seats, all reserved compartments for women. The physical strength of men is but the last bastion but the age of Viagra will soon come up with a solution. So what will happen to Marriage? posted by kaushik Thursday, December 22, 2005 at 7:39 PM 4 comments

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pleasure cannot be outlawed

Arvind Kala The Times of India Monday, January 9, 2006
Dutch prostitutes pay 19% VAT on their earnings. Singapore's business district has a licensed red light area with five to six brothels having around 400 prostitutes. Australia's leading sex company Daily Planet was listed on the stock exchange two years ago. Street prostitution has been legal in Italy for 50 years. Its prime minister suggests that brothels be legalised too. In short, the western world has veered around to viewing prostitution as an economic activity. But India's estimated 2.3 million prostitutes are clubbed with beggars, vagabonds and street children in the 2001 census. Now a new lethal threat hangs over their livelihoods — a government move to broaden its anti-prostitution law to include the arrest of their male clients. If implemented, the move will pauperise prostitutes by frightening away their customers. India should ask why it criminalises a profession that is legal in countries like Denmark, Greece, Brazil and Costa Rica. These countries have sensibly concluded that it's best to regulate a profession that cannot be stamped out. India should do the same.