Saturday, September 26, 2009


From the Excerpt of 'Broken Open' by Elizabeth Lesser.


I have been a student and practitioner of meditation for thirty years. I still find it difficult—at times boring and at other times confrontational. And I still find it valuable—nourishing, expansive, and illuminating. Sometimes I meditate every day; sometimes I go months without ever sitting on my meditation cushion. I have taken short meditation courses and spent most of my time waiting for the evening or weekend to be over. And I have gone on long, solitary retreats and surrendered to the practice, emptying myself of worry, falseness, restlessness, and complaints. Without hesitation, I can say that meditation practice has made a remarkable difference in my life.

People are attracted to meditation for a variety reasons, including these:

•to relax, physically and mentally;

•to keep the heart open and soft;

•to accept life on its own terms;

•to feel more alive, connected, and content;

•to find inner peace; and

•to make contact with other realms of consciousness, what some call the divine or God.

Meditation can help us achieve any of these—but only over time, and with dedication and work. We come to meditation feeling that parts of our life are difficult and that perhaps a meditation practice will make them less so. We want relief now. But that is not how meditation works. The desire for peace and happiness is noble; the expectation of instant results is unreasonable.

Meditation is a matter of slow and steady experience. It is not a cure. It is not a set of moral values. It is not a religion. It is a way—a way to be fully present, a way to be genuinely who we are, a way to look deeply at the nature of things, a way to rediscover the peace we already possess. It does not aim to get rid of anything bad, or to create anything good. It is an attitude of openness. The term for this attitude is mindfulness.

Full Excerpt on Oprah

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Looming 'Age of Austerity'

Global leaders may be saddled with the weakest recovery since World War II if they are to pay off the $9 trillion tab they ran up rescuing the world economy from the deepest financial slump in seven decades.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his counterparts from the Group of 20 nations meet in Pittsburgh today warning that the recovery is still too weak to start reversing lifelines to banks and the broader economy. Their next challenge will be to reduce the resulting debt before it sparks higher bond yields and erodes their governments’ creditworthiness.

“There’s no question that the most significant vulnerability as we emerge from recession is the soaring government debt,” said Harvard University Professor Kenneth Rogoff who is a co-author of a new history on financial crises. “It’s very likely that will trigger the next crisis as governments have been stretched so wide.”

Unwinding the borrowing will probably require leaders to raise taxes and cut spending, ushering in what HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Economist Stephen King calls an “age of austerity” that saps growth prospects for years to come even amid recovery.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts the world economy’s potential growth rate will fall to 1.1 percent next year, compared with 2.4 percent in the decade before the crisis. The International Monetary Fund says G-20 debt will reach 82.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, almost 20 percentage points more than two years ago and the equivalent of about $37 trillion. (Link Bloomberg)

Carmen Reinhart, Professor of Economics at University of Maryland has provided a synopsis of the paper she did with Professor Kenneth Rogoff titled "Eight hundred years of financial folly" that is referred to in the above article. This paper which predicts the next likely financial crisis is available on VoxEU. The two professors have also written another sobering paper, "Is the 2007 US Sub-Prime Financial Crisis so Different? An International Historical Comparison."

Most of the major governments around the world have cast a vast safety net by propping their economies with millions of taxpayer dollars and in the process are running massive deficits. Now the world waits for the next financial crisis as has happened for the last eight hundred years and more.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Edward Kennedy's lifelong passion: Public Service

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected in November 1962, he was elected nine times and served for 46 years in the U.S. Senate. At the time of his death, he was the second most senior member of the Senate, and the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history. For many years the most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he was the son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both victims of assassinations, and the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.(Link Wikipedia)

The revelation in May 2008 that Senator Kennedy had a serious form of brain cancer sent tears and a stunned silence across the US Congress, where he is known as the 'liberal lion' for his unrelenting work of the liberal causes.

US President Barack Obama, the country's first president who received a strong, early endorsement from Kennedy, said after learning of his illness in 2008 that he "would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for the battles Ted Kennedy has fought."

"I stand on his shoulders," Obama said.

Sen. Kennedy was responsible for more than 300 major bills of legislation that has been enacted into law. Kennedy opposed the Vietnam War, led the congressional fight to impose sanctions against South Africa over apartheid and succeeded in banning arms sales to Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. He helped greatly in the long effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland. He also worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor on issues of social and economic justice, which his Meals on Wheels program for senior citizens dramatically underscores. But in all of those years, in all the causes he embraced, he called his vote against the resolution to sanction the Iraq war the “best vote” he ever cast.

Britain's prime minister Gordon Brown paid a generous tribute to Edward Kennedy, claiming that his record of public service “surpasses those of many presidents”.

He said, "Northern Ireland is today at peace; South Africa is free of apartheid; more children not only in his nation, but in the poorest nations, are going to school and have health care. We owe a great debt to the vision and courage of Ted Kennedy.”

With the US engaged in a major debate about the provision of health care, the Prime Minister said that to Mr Kennedy this was “the cause of his life”. Mr Brown said: “He never ceased fighting for universal health care. As he said only last month, we're almost there'. He did this not only for America but for the world. He knew that if a system of universal health care as a right and not a privilege could be achieved in the United States, others everywhere would be encouraged to take it up.”

Recalling his memories of meeting Kennedy, Mr Brown said he would remember him as the man who said: “The pursuit of the presidency is not my life; public service is.” He wrote: “His work teaches timeless lessons about serving the public — the need to reach out beyond ancient loyalties and old enmities, the need to unite rather than divide, our capacity to master the great issues.”

Kennedy died without achieving what he called 'the cause of his life'- the health care reform bill that he worked on four decades. Newsweek carries an article on Kennedy's fight for health care.