Dollar: Past, Present and Future by Navin Doshi

DOLLAR: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

By Navin Doshi

I bought my first mid-size car for about $3,000 in 1961.  A similar car would cost about $30,000 today.  On the surface, it seems that in the last 50 years the value of a dollar has dwindled to a dime. Even more disturbing is the UCLA tuition fees. Today it is over $8000 per year, compared to about $200 I paid in 1960. I do need to know what the future holds for the dollar.  Is it a case of history repeating itself, with the dollar associating itself with God and gold in the future? We need to review the past to gaze into the future, when the dollar with its inscription, “In God we trust” was tied to gold.

The word “dollar” is historically related to the Bohemian tolar (16th century) and much later to the Slovenian tolar (1991), the daalder in the Netherlands, and the daler in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Initially the American dollar was pegged to about 1.3 ounces of fine silver and later on, it was pegged to gold at about $20 per ounce of pure gold. President Roosevelt, during the Depression years, devalued the dollar by changing the ratio to $35 per ounce.  

At the end of World War II, treaties were signed in order to establish a common currency to be used among nations.  In his article, It’s Time to End World War II, Hugo Salinas Price, the founder of Mexico’s Electra retail chain, pronounces that the essential agreement is “one that established that gold should be the money to be used to settle all trade deficits between nations, but in lieu of gold, dollars could be used to settle these deficits.  In forcing on the Breton Woods Agreements the acceptance of the dollar as a means of settling international debts, along with gold, the U.S. established the will of a victorious power to continue to plunder the whole world.” General de Gaulle (President of France, 1959 – 1969) has been quoted as saying that this was “an exorbitant and unnecessary privilege” given to America. And so, it was indeed a privilege of the victor in World War II. The perception that America took advantage after WW II has gotten more credence in a recently published book by Dussmann Kulturfaufhaus in Germany. The book has created uproar among Germans because it claims that Germany gave away its sovereignty by signing an agreement that granted undue advantage to the U.S. It also claims that all German gold, even now, is being held in the U.S.

 The favored status of American currency eventually led to leverage in paying for imports and the accumulation of huge trade deficits. The victor, expanding its money supply with little discipline, became the largest debtor country in the history of the world.  In Hugo’s words, “the exporting countries, not being nuclear powers, were afraid to demand gold in payment of their export surpluses, since such a request would very probably irritate the great power.”  When countries like France asked for gold and not dollars, President Nixon removed the dollar linkage with gold, making the dollar a fiat currency.  By running a huge trade deficit which arose out of its expansion of credit and consequent money-printing, the U.S. was able to send abroad masses of dollars to pay for imports. The exporting countries received dollars – not gold – for their export surpluses to the U.S. The dollars began to pile up in foreign central banks as “reserves”.

Commerce is an eminently peaceful activity. The seller forces no one to buy; the buyer forces no one to sell. The means of payment in commerce, since written history began, has been either goods for goods, i.e., barter, or goods for gold or silver- a perfected form of barter. But anything else, any innovation, anything decreed to be a means of payment by anybody whatsoever, cannot be anything but an imposition, a violation of the rules of commerce.

The present ruinous condition of the world’s finances and its lopsided industrial development has not yet corrected itself. If anything, we are in the “eye of the hurricane” for the moment. Over the course of the past few years, the dollar has continually spiraled downward. The dollar, as a Paper Atlas, is subjected to hold the weight of the world on its weakening shoulders.  Currently, the devaluing dollar has to uphold its strength as the world currency if it wants to prevent the potential to end abruptly and violently. Few observers believe that the dollar may gain some strength for a short while. The world has gone short on dollars in a very big way. Few examples include investors sending funds abroad to purchase emerging market assets, the issuance of dollar-denominated bonds, not in their own currencies by sovereign nations, and going out of Europe’s way to borrow greenbacks instead of the Euro.  So the odds are increasing that the dollar may rise in the near future once the momentum reverses, causing short sellers to cover their shorts.

So what does this once-powerful dollar have in store for its future?  Hugo Price believes that “the world’s principal powers should convene and come to an agreement for the establishment of the world’s monetary and financial systems,” where he deems the basis of gold, even silver, to exemplify “a neutral, real and objective medium for commerce and finance.”  Even though the world’s reserve currency seldom changes, the slowing U.S. economy and the devaluation of the dollar may cause an alternative currency to come into play.  U.S. policy makers claim that declining dollar will help American exporters to export more. However, other countries, particularly those with their currencies tied to the dollar, seem to be doing the same, maintaining a very low interest rate. Competing currency devaluation by the central bankers seems to be a fool’s race to the bottom. Recall that the currency is the lifeblood of an economy, and making it weaker is certainly not healthy.

The current purchase of some 200 tons of gold by the Reserve bank of India has caused the dollar to weaken further.  For the first time, a major central bank of a significantly large economy is buying gold, reversing the trend of last several decades when central banks usually sold gold. Before India’s purchase of gold, the jewelry market used 80% of the total gold supply, with all other markets, mostly technology, taking in the remaining 20%. Today the financial segment, that includes hoarding by central banks and investors, has a 50% share of the gold supply.  It seems we are going “Back to the Future” (Recall the movie starring Michael Fox), as it has been in the past before the 1950s when world trade transactions were settled bartering for goods or exchanging with gold and silver. Officially the U.S. central bank holds over 8000 metric tons, the largest among all central banks. However only the Fed and bullion banks know how much is left after leasing and short- selling to keep the dollar strong. In comparison, the Reserve bank of India currently holds much less than a thousand tons, but Indian citizens hold over 20,000 tons.   Almost 100 years ago, John Maynard Keynes chided India for its “ruinous” love of the “barbaric relic”. Perhaps central banks were reading their Keynes over the last two decades, during which anti-gold sentiment pervaded. It seems that Indian experience is winning over those who thought they can control nature in general and the human psyche in particular. Another economist from Austria mostly ignored by Keynesians, Ludwig von Mises, contradicted Keynes’ view and probably learned from Indian experience about the greed of rulers that makes them cheat their subjects by weakening the currencies they control.

Pierre Lassonde, CEO of Franco Nevada, believes that the gold price should rise at a level when the ratio of Dow Jones index to the price of gold goes below 2. Currently the ratio is a little over 9. This ratio has gone twice to about one in 1934, when the Dow and the gold price were about 35, and in 1980 when they were about 800. Aaron Regent, president of the largest producer of gold, Barrick Gold, believes that we passed the peak production of gold some time in 2000. The ore grades have fallen from 12 grams in the 1950s to about 3 grams per ton recently and the trend has never reversed, adding more pressure to the gold price. I have recommended buying gold as an insurance against the ravages of inflation in this newspaper first in 2002 when gold was trading a little over $300. The bullish case for gold could go for another five years based upon cycle studies, and the price could go over $2000.

(Mr. Doshi is a market trader and a writer. His articles are available at http://www.nalandainternational.org)

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Health, Wellness, the Shamanic Journey and Yoga by Philip Goldberg of LAYoga

Health, Wellness, the Shamanic Journey and Yoga

Many people come to Yoga from a variety of traditions in search of health, wellness, union, transformation.
Sometimes this takes place on the mat, in meditation or as part of some deeper journey indvidually
or collectively. This journey includes peeling away the layers of the deepest self, honest inquiry and
incorporating new rites and rituals into our lives. In some way, it is akin to the shamanic journey
wherein the practitioner goes through a transformative process to facilitate their ability to
connect with the spirit world, that part of our reality that may be unseen in our everyday life.
We could see the moment when Swami Satchidananda took the stage at Woodstock
and chanted as one of those examples of a turning point, opening people’s eyes
to something mystical beyond everyday reality. A car crash injury, being given
a powerful stone, a calling, intuition cultivated from a regular Ashtanga Yoga
practice, reading a book such as Autobiography of a Yogi or signing up for a
teacher training program could all be the spark to propel us on the path of
the spirit that wrings us out and gives us the potential to learn what true
health means: body, mind and spirit. Unbuckle your seat belt and let the
journey begin. ––FMT

Of all the iconic images the media trotted out to re
mind us of Woodstock on the fortieth anniversary of that seminal
event (august 15 – 18, 1969), the one that best captures what en
dured from the sixties was orange-robed swami satchidananda ad
dressing the multitude. it wasn’t displayed nearly as often as the
writhing bodies, impassioned performers and muddy encampments
but that tableau, captured in black-and-white before the music start
ed and before the rains came, stands as a potent symbol of the meet
ing of east and West that has transformed american culture. While
most of the values that Woodstock was said to embody faded away
as the baby boomers grew up, the embrace of eastern spirituality has
only grown stronger, changing the way we understand and practice
religion, the way we take care of our minds and bodies, and the way
we contemplate our place in the cosmos. think of it this way: it
wasn’t long before even the hippest of hippies stopped living com
munally, sharing food with strangers and dancing naked in the mud.
But, forty years on, more people than ever meditate, chant mantras,
read the sacred books of the east, and, participate in the six-billion-
dollar-a-year Yoga industry.

The east-to-West transmission didn’t start at Woodstock by any
means. it began more than a century earlier, when translations of
hindu texts found their way to new england and the bookshelves
of Ralph Waldo emerson and henry david thoreau. it got a big
boost in 1893, when swami Vivekananda came to chicago to ad-
dress the Parliament of the World’s Religions and stayed to establish
the now-venerable Vedanta society. later, in the 1920s, Paramah-
ansa Yogananda toured the country, visited calvin coolidge in the
White house, and settled in los angeles, where he penned the huge-
ly influential Autobiography of a Yogi. assorted yogis and swamis
came and went over the years, and then, in 1968, the Beatles’ went
on the most consequential spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those
forty days in the wilderness. their sojourn at the ashram of tran-
scendental meditation founder maharishi mahesh Yogi (with mia
farrow, donovan and other young celebs) touched off a campus
craze and a media frenzy.
Swami satchidananda’s opening invocation at Woodstock, wit-
nessed by nearly half a million youngsters and seen in part in the
Oscar-winning documentary about the mud-and-acid-soaked week-
end, accelerated public awareness of india’s heritage of inner explo-
ration. the founder of the integral Yoga institute and the most pop-
ular guru among counterculture new Yorkers at the time, swami
satchidananda was helicoptered to Woodstock from manhattan by
organizers who thought that a wise elder might start things off on a
serene note. With his long gray beard and flowing hair, the swami
was right out of central casting, and his message played to the gen-
eration’s sense of importance. “america is helping everybody in the
material field,” he said, “but the time has come for america to help
the whole world with spirituality also.” he exhorted everyone pres-
ent to take responsibility for the success of the festival. Responsibil-
ity was not a very popular word in hippie circles, but coming from
someone seen as an advocate of peace and freedom – the inner vari-
ety – the message was taken seriously, and any misgivings the kids
might have had were dissolved in the sanskrit chant that the swami
led before blessing the crowd and departing. to this day, many be-
lieve that his good vibes averted what could have become a catastro-
phe as the festival grew far bigger than initially anticipated.
That may or may not be so. But it is certainly true that his pres-
ence, along with Ravi shankar’s electrifying performance, reinforced
the idea that downtrodden, oppressed and misunderstood india had
something of genuine value to offer the West. the essence of what
we imported from the hindu tradition is the philosophy known as
Vedanta and the repertoire of practices known as Yoga. together
they constitute a rich spiritual system. But the knowledge was pre-
sented in such a rational, pragmatic way over the years that it was
embraced by a wide spectrum of americans – not just seekers of the
transcendent, but scientists and secularists who saw indian philoso-
phy as a science of consciousness, and medical practitioners who saw
yogic techniques as holistic healing modalities. Over time, the imports
changed medicine and psychotherapy and radically expanded the
way we think about consciousness.
During the 1970s, india’s message of higher awareness and mind-
body-spirit integration was increasingly mainstreamed, until now, of
course, Yoga studios are as easy to find (or sometimes easier to find)
as starbucks and meditation is prescribed by physicians for stress re-
duction. Only a year after Woodstock, the first experiment on tran-
scendental meditation was published in a prestigious scientific jour-
nal. there are now thousands of studies on various meditative
disciplines, and thousands more under the heading of Yoga. dr. dean
Ornish, to cite a well-known example, derived his world-famous pre-
ventive medical program, which has been shown to reverse heart
disease, from the protocols of swami satchidananda, whom he met
when he was a medical student.
Of greatest significance, however, is the transformative impact that
indian teachings have had on american spirituality. the influence can
be seen in the burgeoning popularity of contemplative christianity
and Jewish mysticism, which experts agree would not have occurred
without the catalyst of yogic practices starting in the sixties. and any-
one who relates to the term “spiritual but not religious” can thank the
parade of gurus and Yoga masters beginning with Vivekananda who
made that designation possible. the notion that one can have a deep
and fulfilling spiritual life without accepting the complete belief system
of any particular religion was understood only to a few eccentrics and
mystics before access to the east became widespread. now, “spiritual
but not religious” is the category of choice for sixteen to thirty-nine
percent of americans, depending on the source of the data, and many
more count themselves both spiritual and religious – a group that in-
cludes thousands, if not millions, who returned to their ancestral reli-
gions after their minds were opened by Vedantic ideas. indeed, the fact
that we distinguish between religion and spirituality at all – and that
i don’t have to explain the difference – is a direct result of seekers hav-
ing access to yogic practices that can be used by anyone regardless of
religious orientation. the fact that there are many legitimate pathways
to the sacred, an idea first expressed in the Rig Veda as ekam sat vip-
raha bahudha vadanti (“truth is one, the wise call it by many names,”
or, colloquially, “One truth, many paths”) is more accepted than ever
in our increasingly pluralistic society.
In the past forty years in particular, what we have gained from our
contact with india is far more significant than spicy dishes for our
palates and cheap customer service operators for our corporations.
in his classic eleven-volume text, The Story of Civilization, historian
Will durant expressed the hope that india would “teach us the tol-
erance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the
unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unify-
ing, pacifying love for all living things.” that turned out to be pre-
scient. the image of swami satchidananda at Woodstock will always
be a symbol of the moment when a battery of unconventional baby
boomers turned eastward – and inward – in such large numbers that
the process became irreversible.
Philip Goldberg is the author of Roadsigns on the spiritual Path and
other books. His history of Indian spiritual teachings in America will
be published by Doubleday next year: PhilipGoldberg.com.

September 2009

George Quant Interviews Dr. Debashish Banerji: Return of the Veda (June 2, 2009)

June 2, 2009

GQ:  Welcome to the show. I’m George Quant, your host with special guest Dr. Debashish Banerji. On this show today we are going to tract the foot print of contemporary meditation and modern wisdom to its ancient root. In the beginning there was the Ved and the Ved was with spirit and silence. In the end there was the Quantum and the Quantum was with spirit and science, or is the formless expressing itself in the form of new terminology in an endless expression of wisdom through time immemorial?

The two most popular forms of meditation today are transcendental and mindfulness. Mega best selling author, Dr. Deepak Chopra, is a luminary of the Veda, which is coreless to quantum physics. His meditation, primordial sound meditation, falls in the category of transcendence. Mega best selling author, Eckhart Tolle, is an exponent of mindfulness meditation, which falls in the category of anapana. The blockbuster docudrama, “What the Bleep Do We Know?”, and the more recent phenomenally successful DVD, “The Secret”, were both anchored in the idea that quantum physics makes all things possible.

Has the Veda returned as the quantum? If the Veda and the quantum are evolving theoretical bodies of knowledge, is spirit the subjective experience, the inner experience? Does the unchanging spirit become an experience only when mind contacts it? Is meditation the technology that makes direct experience of the spirit possible in both sciences, Quantum and Veda? And what other forms has the Veda taken over the years?

Here with us to answer these questions with anticipated eloquence is Dr. Debashish Banerji. He is part of a distinguished panel of experts who will enrich our discussion on the origins of modern and ancient wisdom traditions and practices. Dr. Banerji completed his undergraduate studies in English literature from the University of Bombay, and has a PhD in Indian art history from UCLA. Dr. Banerji is an authority on Indian contemporary art and philosophy, which includes the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Veda, especially in its contemporary applicability.  A master story teller, his book is based on his dissertation titled, “The Alternate Nation of Tagore”, presently in press.  He teaches courses at the University of Philosophical Research, Pasadena City College, UCLA, UC Irvine, and a distant learning course on the “Visual Imagination of India” at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco.

Welcome to the show Dr. Banerji.

Dr. B:  Thank you George, glad to be here.

GQ: It’s great to have you Dr. Banerji. I am just so excited to have you with us today. Well, let’s move backwards in time. I’ll start us off with the secular meditation movement that I’ve been a part of over the past several years. The first contemporary secular meditation category that I’d like to talk about is transcendence. Three examples of transcendence come to mind, primordial sound meditation with Deepak Chopra, integrated quantum meditation with George Quant, the Sahaj Samadhi meditation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. All three programs started around the same time, 1996. All three founders practiced Transcendental Meditation with the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Starting in 1958 under Maharishi’s leadership, TM transitioned from a Hindu-based program to Vedic science, with direct correlates to quantum physics. Prior to TM, Maharishi’s lineage can be traced to his guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Northern India.

The next secular category is mindfulness meditation. John Cabotzan and Eckhart Tolle are both popular, secular mindfulness meditation authors, and mindfulness evolved from the vipassana tradition of Buddhism. The icons of contemporary Buddhist meditation would include the Dalai Lama and    ?  The world is enriched by many more modern exponents of classical Buddhism and secular mindfulness meditation teachers. More on that in a future show.

Dr. Banerji, I would like you to explain how both Buddhism and Hinduism are rooted in, or date back to the Vedic wisdom tradition of the Upanishads, but first, I’d like to return to the foundational and intriguing questions I posed earlier. Dr. Banerji, has the Vedas returned as the Quantum?

Dr. B: Thank you George. I think the first question you asked can be woven into the other one you just asked, I’d say yes, and to understand this, we first need to ask the question, what is the Veda? The Veda is a set of text given by ten groupings of seers or Rishis in India going back 5,000 to 7,000 years. The oldest of these are known as the Samhitas. These are poems chanted to what seemed to be nature gods; the god of wind, the god of sun, of lightning and thunder and gods of this kind. This is expressed in a double-speak of outer and inner, of objective and subjective understanding. On the outside there are invocations to the gods of nature to bring material benefits, like children, cows, horses, things of this kind. But in an inner and esoteric sense, meant for initiates, they are psycho cosmic subjective processes of yoga meant to unite man with spirit in consciousness, knowledge, delight and power. This union is the overcoming of all separation, the experience of non-duality. Thus the Veda could be seen as a body of knowledge expressing both a science and a poetry of the experience of non-duality. In terms of the Indian conception of history, the story of time is the gradual obscuration of this time and again, yet it’s repeated return in new forms, each time overcoming some obscuring factor of contradiction.

GQ: The obscuring is then built into … it’s a predetermination, a seed of obscuration that precedes its own return.

Dr. B: Absolutely George. It’s an obscuration that’s carried in the very languaging of spirit, that’s implicit in the way in which we approach spirit. As you said, the spirit is the formless returning in new symbols and languages time and again.

GQ: And …  …

Dr. B: And each time it is limited by the symbols through which we express it. Yet it reveals itself in these symbols. So there is a revelation and an obscuration, a concealment. The concealment grows over time, till we need a new return of the same knowledge in a new language.

GQ: And this is what creates the cycles.

Dr. B: This is what creates the cycles of Indian history.

GQ: The sense of cycles.

Dr. B: Yes George.

GQ: Un huh. Continue.

Dr. B:  So the latest and greatest such obscuration of the Veda is our modern age. In terms of the Hindu cycle, this is known as Kali Yuga, the dark age, when three quarters of the knowledge of purity has disappeared and the rest is fast disappearing.

GQ: Is the image of this three quarters also in some way connected to an image of the full moon losing its fullness?

Dr. B: Yes. You are absolutely right George. The whole idea of the Hindu chronological cycles is sometimes given as the metaphor of the full moon which gets gradually obscured. When the full moon is there, we call it the age of gold, the Satya Yuga.

GQ: But the full moon is actually still there. It’s the shadow, the illusion, the maya that it has diminished.

Dr. B: Correct, correct. You are absolutely right. Time in the Hindu idea of the cycles and the obscuration of truth is really a theory of collective perception.

GQ: Continue.

Dr. B: So when three quarters is gone and the rest is fast disappearing, we have Kali Yuga, and that’s the age Hindus consider we are in right now.

GQ: And that’s the age where we can’t see our hand in front of our face spiritually.

Dr. B: Yes, right. In terms of western knowledge, this is the age of Materialism, when consciousness is reduced to a product of physics and chemistry and only what meets the senses. The form of modern knowledge is Science, George.

GQ: Debashish, repeat that. In terms of western knowledge, this is age of materialism when consciousness is reduced to a …

Dr. B: … a product of physics and chemistry. It’s only material understanding and what meets the senses.

GQ: Oh, I see, I see, and consciousness is reduced to what it sees only with the senses.

Dr. B: Exactly.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: You know the terminology used is – consciousness is  an epiphenomenon of matter.

GQ: Un huh. Yes.

Dr. B: There is no such independent thing as consciousness or spirit.

GQ: Yes, so this is the case in Kali Yuga. Go ahead.

Dr. B: Exactly. So this form of modern knowledge is science, because science is a description of reality given to us in our modern time. Now from within this description, there now arises a knowledge, a description of reality with speaks of non-duality, non-locality, the collapse of subject and object.  This is the Quantum. Like the Veda, this knowledge can also be taken in an external or internal, a subjective and objective form. Taken objectively, as many scientists wish to restrict it, it is a probabilistic model for describing material reality. But taken analogically, internally and subjectively, it can be both a new science and a new poetry of the union of man and spirit, a science and art of consciousness, a psychology all the way down.

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: Hence we can see it as a return of the Veda in a universal and secular form in the modern world. Now to just  cap this with a thought, there is a lot of debate about whether the quantum theory, or quantum formalism is an analogy for the spirit and its processes, or  an actual description of the spirit and its processes, what may be called the physics of satchitananda.

GQ: Yes,

Dr. B: But irrespective of whether it is one or the other, I think what you said earlier,  is something we need to remember, that the spirit is illimitable, indescribable and formless.

GQ: And so is the Quantum, really.

Dr. B: Yes. So it depends on our approach to it. How is it that we contact it, that gift of the language with which we speak about it. All languaging of the spirit is just a set of symbols, but they allow us to come into contact with spirit,  to conceptualize it and enter into relation with it and therefore make it real and living and experiencable in our physical body.

GQ: Which takes us to the next question, Dr. Banerji, and that is if the Veda and the Quantum are evolving theoretical bodies of knowledge, is spirit the subjective experience? And I think you just answered that, but elaborate.

Dr. B: Exactly, exactly. We might think of these bodies of knowledge as bodies of languaging and therefore they may have objective meaning, but if we dwell on them subjectively, they can yield to us subjective experiences. What is being told to us in an objective sense, as mathematics, for example, in quantum physics, can hardly be understood as a description of reality. But in a subjective sense, it is experiencable through meditation and in terms of transcendental    experience.

GQ: So this takes us to the next question and that is, does the unchanging spirit become an experience only when mind contacts it and …

Dr. B: Yes indeed …

GQ: And if so, is meditation the technology that makes direct experience of the spirit possible in both sciences, Quantum and Veda?

Dr. B: Yes George. When we talk about meditation, basically what we are saying is the concentration of our inner consciousness on this reality, this formless reality that you talk about, using a certain language as a mediator and you are absolutely right, in that process, that technology of consciousness gives to us the experience of spirit, irrespective of what language we use to enter into relation with it.

GQ: Because language actually falls away. Language and symbols fall away…

Dr. B: Language and symbols fall away. You are absolutely right.

GQ: And then the experience reveals itself.

Dr. B: Experience reveals itself.

GQ: And it reveals itself to the senses, the nervous system, the body, mind and spirit which is the subjective nature.

Dr. B: Absolutely George.

GQ: Which takes us now to the next question, and that is, what other form has the Veda taken over the years?

Dr. B: The depth of this question is like the history of consciousness and its repeated return through the centuries, George.  We may say that the very first appearance of the Veda is accompanied with its obscuration. , That is, as I mentioned, the Veda begins as a kind of double-speak with rituals and material symbols of invocation to the nature gods. And so within that ritualistic nature, it carries the obscuration of its reality into a more material understanding where we are talking socially about rituals mediated by priests and  a  caste system that develops around this, etc. And the inner and subjective power of the Veda to reveal experience recedes to the background.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: It is kept only with a few initiates. And so around maybe the 10th century before Christ, there is a revolution in wisdom that takes place in India George, and this is essentially the birth of what is known as the Upanishads. We may call this a return of the Veda.

GQ: Ah.

Dr. B: There are initiates, who in a variety of ways begin to realize that if the Veda is to be kept alive, it has to be re-languaged. It has to be given in a new kind of expression, which is more democratic because no longer mediated by priests, direct, which in a sense can raise the questions within the consciousness of the hearer, regarding what the subjective experience is all about. So a whole slew of questions are raised on who am I, what is the nature of reality, what is knowledge, what is ignorance, what is suffering, what is delight, what is falsehood, does evil exist, all these questions, how can man come into contact with consciousness and reality?

GQ: Many of these questions are what society is pondering today.

Dr. B: Exactly. Today the scientist is pondering  questions from the viewpoint of material reality, descriptions of material reality, but surprisingly the scientist is coming up with paradoxical answers that relate back to these kinds of questions.

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: So we find that, you know, people start finding technologies of consciousness….

GQ: So we are in the Upanishads now…right?

Dr. B: Yes, the Upanishadic age which runs perhaps from  10 centuries before Christ to  say  about the 8th century before Christ. These are approximate dates and we’re not sure of them, but this is the surmise. People are leaving society to make it their life’s occupation, to find answers to profound existential questions of this kind, and  they move to the hills, forests, the caves, and the forest is abuzz with this kind of seeking.

GQ: It sounds exciting. It sounds like there was lots of dialogue going on, lots of debate going on, lots of spiritual inquiry going on.

Dr. B: Exactly George. This is exactly the situation during this time, and in fact the very intense nature of this pondering and this questioning reaches its culmination around 6 centuries before Christ in what the philosopher Karl Jaspers has called the Axial Age.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: I would call that the next return of the Veda – I mean the Axial Age – when  this  culture of meditation and reflection in a very intense isolated manner finds itself repeated in the whole Eurasian continent. It’s like a meta-phenomenon that suddenly erupts and we find 6 centuries before Christ … in Greece we find the great philosophers Socrates and Plato; In India you have the Buddha and Mahavira, the founder of the Jaina religion. In China we have Confucius and Lao-tzu, and they are all asking questions of the same kind. Mind you George …

GQ: So it sounds to me like consciousness is breaking out all over the world as a meta conscious phenomena.

Dr. B: Quite, quite, and you know, we know these names today, but that’s only because they are only the names that remain, that history has allowed to remain. In India we know when we read about the Buddha’s life that, he himself went to a number of teachers and again, he was going into the forest and the forest was full of teachers whose record history has not kept. So too in China, this entire period is known as the Hundred Schools period, which gives you a sense of the number of seekers and teachers.

GQ: So it was a collective consciousness that was surging.

Dr. B: It was a collective seeking all over the world, an age of wisdom.

GQ: The second return of the Vedas, go ahead.

Dr. B: This is definitely a return of the Veda. The next return of the Veda, I would say occurs in India from the 1st to the 5th century. This is the time of the Christ and early Christianity. In India, to understand this, we need to realize that the seeds of obscuration in the Upanishads lie in the fact that they demand a very rigorous kind of practice, and in a way you could say,  an antisocial practice because people are leaving society for an exclusive contemplation on spiritual truth. In the biographies of the Buddha we find the seeds of this division between the secular life and the life of the wandering seekers, the sannyasis …

GQ: … the recluse…

Dr. B: Yes, the recluse, yes, who leaves society and makes it his business to understand spirit. So from the 1st to the 5th century something new happens. There is a sudden great wave of devotion. There is the birth of mythologies and icons. All the mythologies pertaining to what we today know as the Hindu gods, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Kali. The Tantras and the Puranas are the bodies of text which talk about these things. The beginnings of what we know today as Hindu temple worship begins at this point.

GQ: And that’s happening around the world as well, the Middle East……

Dr. B: Yes, as I said this is the period of the development of Christianity and its spread through its acceptance by the Roman Empire.

GQ: So the whole sort of temples all the way through the Middle East, all the way across Europe, all the way into China.

Dr. B: Yes. Well what’s happening George, you see, I spoke about the rise of iconic Hinduism in India, but with Buddhism too, there’s an explosion that’s taking place at this time. Buddhism is spreading from India all the way across the Middle East, you know, through the Northwest of India, and now in Buddhism you have images of the Buddha. You know, Buddhism starts off as an aniconic religion. There’s no images to the Buddha before this, but the focusing of devotion through images to the Buddha, and the Bodhsattvas occurs during these times….

GQ: And this is also the birth of Christ, this is also not just the birth of Christ, but also the life of Christ.

Dr. B: Exactly George, and you know, If you look at the first 4 centuries, it begins with the life and martyrdom of Christ in the Middle East, but by the end of the 4th century, you have the spread of Christianity through Europe, the establishment of the holy Roman church and the establishment of the church of Byzantium, the Eastern Christian church. So we see that there is the establishment of a much wider, more inclusive kind of approach to spirit through devotion that develops throughout a large part of the world and we could definitely call this another return of the Veda.

GQ: So not only are the seeds of obscuration present in the laws of the cycle …but the inclusive aspect of it also is a part ….

Dr. B: Yes, and each time it seems to include more ….

GQ: … and the secular aspect.

Dr. B: It becomes more secular, and maybe we should make a note George that the two major traditions of meditation you have talked about, the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions of meditation, mindfulness and transcendence, make their appearance over this period – the first one, transcendence, with the Upanishads, , and mindfulness with Buddhism, which occurs in the wake of the Upanishads in the Axial age.

GQ: The seeds of it …. But the actual …. Buddhism came from the reinterpretation …

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: … in the forest, well actually as reinterpretation of the knowledge.

Dr. B: Correct, correct. The next great return of the Veda, George, I’d say occurs from the 9th through 11th centuries in India. To distinguish this, again we have to look at what obscures the previous great upsurge. We can say that, every time there is a greater, wider more secular movement, there is also a dilution that can occur. Over time it becomes more dilute. Devotionalism takes over the place of the rigorous inner practices of meditation, and by the time we have come to the 9th century or so, there is a new need to engage with the Upanishads. And this is the age of the great acharyas or the philosophical teachers. This is the age of the great Vedantic philosophies. In the 9th century we have Shankarachara, and you mentioned the Shankaracharia of the North who was the teacher of …

GQ: Maharishi’s teacher.

Dr. B: … who was the teacher of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and so …

GQ: So this is where that started. This is where the tradition of the Shankaracharya of the North and the various parts ….

Dr. B: That’s right.

GQ: And it was Shankaracharya who reorganized the Vedas in some sense to make it more accessible, to create a different structure. But once again he’s bringing the Upanishads back in.

Dr. B: Yes, yes, that’s really what he does. He organizes Hinduism. He gives it a certain social form. He creates the ten orders of sannyasis, the renunciants. He prioritizes the Upanishads in a certain interpretation. He sets up 4 major authorities, north, east, south and west in India to oversee  the perpetuation of these teachings. So yes, he is a very important figure … in fact …

GQ: And is he reoranizing for social, spiritual rejuvination in an inclusive way?

Dr. B: He is George, but, you know, one has to look at the flip side of it as well. One might call it the hegemony of a certain interpretation in Hinduism.

GQ: And what was the Buddhist response to that?

Dr. B: You know many people feel that the decline of Buddhism in India was largely due to the very hegemonic nature of Shankaracharya’s activities. But in a sense Hinduism and Buddhism at the time of Shankara were very close to each other. They were, in dialogue, and as you know when you are in dialogue, when you are answering each other, you incorporate the arguments of each other. And so, the language of Buddhists and Hindus at this point, and their methods and technologies of consciousness are very, very similar.

GQ: During this time period when you say there was this cross dialogue between Buddhism and the Hindu model, was there some sense of balance?

Dr. B: Well at this time there is a dialogue going on George, and there is definitely a lot of sharing going on. There is sharing of many different ways to spirit going on between all these traditions including all the Buddhists and all the Hindu traditions. But there is also a debate going on and there is a kind of power struggle going on. So all this is happening at the same time in this period from 9th to the 11th century.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: Yes. Maybe we can move along to the next great wave, which I believe takes place around the 16th century, George.

GQ: Ah huh.

Dr. B: And this is again like the great Axial age. This is a meta movement, you know. This is actually what one may call the beginning of the seeds of the modern world.

GQ: So where consciousness makes a meta quantum sort of leap across the world and manifests in different ways and different cultures.

Dr. B: Absolutely.

GQ: Elaborate on that Debashish.

Dr. B: Yes, and again in a more inclusive manner. Because, we know the 16th century as a world phenomenon due the Renaissance in Europe. The European Renaissance  … many people think of it as the birth of the modern epoch, because it is accompanied by the collapse of the church and the democratization of knowledge. But at the same time this is also a tremendous age of aspiration. There is an aspiration for the Divine in the very heart of Humanity. There is a shift to concerns of Humanity. But this intense aspiration for the Divine within the heart of humanity is one of the hallmarks of the Renaissance. Along with this we find that all over the world there are very intense devotional movements and mystical movements that begin in the 16th century. You have Sufism in Persia and Turkey. You have the birth of the Sikh religion with Guru Nanak, the mystic teacher of Sikhism in India. You have the birth of the Krishna movement, which today, is so well known all over the world and particularly in America. Sri Chaitanya is the founder of that intense devotional movement and he belongs to this period. You have Kabir, the Sufi teacher in India. You have Zen Buddhism in Japan. All these movements of mysticism are with us even today in a very powerful way.

GQ: Another return of the Veda.

Dr. B: Yes, its really another return of the Veda.

GQ: In the form of the mystic.

Dr. B: In the form of the mystic, yes.

GQ: Intuition.

Dr. B: Yes,  George. And so then what we find occurring after the 16th century, we really start our walk into our present era, because again … the seeds of obscuration, which are contained within the 16th century, have to do with Materialism.

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: With a disappearance of the spirit and with a denser and denser concentration on matter, science and technology, there arises the Industrial Age and there arises Colonialism. Because on the pretext of arriving at a systematic secular knowledge of the world, there are what is known as the voyagers of discovery. But with that comes the colonization of the non-western world and a greater and greater objectification of knowledge that leads us into what we know as our modern age.

GQ: And is that the … and are we now moving into the 19th century?

Dr. B: Yes George. That leads to the return of the Veda in modern times. You see, there is an internal critique of Materialism that’s going on, and  I’d say from around the middle of the 19th century, this internal critique starts bearing fruit. You find it in Europe itself, in the modernist movements right in the middle of the 19th century and into the 1920’s. This turn of the century phenomena is a  very powerful one in which we find that new paradigms of knowledge in all forms are being created, and we find that there is a shift in the modality of knowledge from rationality towards intuition. That I’d say is the real legacy of the return of the Veda in this period.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: We find this … you can map it …. and this is really where, you know, what you are talking about, George, regarding the return of the Veda as the Quantum takes place, right at this time. You find the great modalities of modern physics in terms of Einsteinian relativity, and in terms of Quantum Mechanics being born at this time.

GQ: So it is during this particular time that the Veda starts to express itself through what we would call Quantum Physics?

Dr. B: Yes, if, we look at the metaphor  you’ve introduced, that of the return of the Veda, being in a way the return of the spirit in new languages and expressions …

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: … this is certainly one of the new ways in which it is coming …

GQ: Makes sense.

Dr. B: You find that,  for example with Einstein, he received intuitions, and these intuitions are like conceptual or cognitive contacts with a spiritual reality in consciousness, which he then elaborated in terms of mathematics and physics, theoretical physics. His whole theory of relativity was founded in that fashion.

GQ: But … Debashish …

Dr. B: Yes George.

GQ: It appears as though perhaps even by the nature of things, since intuition is related to the seer, to the rishi, the cognitive aspect of one’s inner spirit ….

Dr. B: You are very right, yes ….

GQ: And he sees this first before he gets the math and before he gets the articulation.

Dr. B: Correct. This is the very method of the Upanishads. The Upanishadic rishis or seers are pointing to exactly this modality of knowledge, of cognitive contacts with reality through intuition as the starting point of our reflections.

GQ: I see.

Dr. B: And so we find Einstein struggling in his last years with what he wanted to call the grand unified theory. He intuited it, but he could not find the mathematics for it. Then we find on the other hand the whole modality of Quantum being created by Max Planck and Niels Bohr and all the many others teachers like Warner Heisenberg, etc., several of whom were  familiar with the Upanishads. They were actually making the comparisons themselves.

GQ: They were?

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: Once again the Upanishads are on the scene in the return of the Veda.

Dr. B: Quite right, and then we find that, you know about a little later from the 1920s to 1940s we find a new breed of theoretical scientists … we have people like David Bohm, who tried to integrate Quantum and Relativity and who also came directly under the guidance of a new wave of Indian spiritual teachers, such as, in this case, J. Krishnamurti. This is a kind of a grand integration of all the various modalities of knowledge that is taking place in somebody like David Bohm.

But I would also like to go back to the turn of the century George, and point out that not only in science or physics, but in other modalities of expression like in art from the middle of the 19th century we have a revolution of subjectivity and intuition. This is a movement from a more naturalistic and objectified art towards the subjective. We find this with impressionism, post impressionism and expressionism – figures like Vincent van Gogh and Cezanne and later people like Picasso. We find this entire movement into the exploration of the subjective world of experience.

Again in philosophy we find the birth of existentialism, phenomenology, ontology, with thinkers like the German Martin Heidegger,

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: … and all his descendants. It really starts off with Freirich Nietzsche …

GQ: What about the Transcendentalists?

Dr. B: Yes. In America … I’m glad you brought that point up, George, because from around the middle of the 19th century in America, we have a great wave of spiritual philosophy, the thinkers who are known as the Transcendentalists …

GQ: So now we’ve moved to sort of mid century, 1930s to 1950s mid century …?

Dr. B: No, not yet George. I’m talking about the mid 19th century in America moving into the turn of the century. We find that there is a fertilization of the world of mind here in America, with the Transcendentalists. We have Thoreau and Emerson and Walt Whitman, and we have William James the psychologist, and by the time we come to the turn of the century,  they have already created a revolution in thought which has a strong influence from the Upanishadic sources of wisdom.

As you know, from around the early 20th century, anti-colonial struggles have been breaking out all over the world. India is also going through its anti-colonial struggles, and as part of this, the great teachers of the Vedic knowledge in India are voicing the ancient tradition in international language. Yes, at the turn of the 19th/20th century, you have Vivekananda, who came to America. At the same time, you have Sri Aurobindo who is returning to India from his collegiate studies in England, and writing in the English language. You have Rabindranath Tagore who is traveling across the world and who wins the Nobel Prize. These figures are bringing  the Vedic and Upanishadic teaching to the West in a major way. In America,  these are some of the figures who sow the seeds, and then you suddenly have the receptivity of  American culture itself in terms of anti-colonial movements  like the Harlem Renaissance and the intellectual movement of African-American jazz, with be-bop and with figures like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. And so what happens ….

GQ: The return of the Vedas through Charlie Parker. I love it. What about the Bohemian … is this the same time of the Bohemian intellectual alternative movement ….

Dr. B: Yes, they prepared the ground, George.  What results is a tremendous popular movement  spawned by these revolutions. You have an anti-materalist and the anti-colonialist mentality which  breaks across the land  ultimately in the late 60s with the hippie movement, the counter culture. And at the same time you have a whole wave of Indian spiritual teachers who come to America. You have Muktananda, Satchidananda and Prabhupada, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and they are all bringing in this Vedic and Upanishadic knowledge,  and it is being assimilated into the American counter-culture. Now of course we know that this was a kind of  wave, the crest of a wave, and the 80s and 90s saw a complete shutdown of all this.

GQ: Debashish, I want to go back to this transition into sort of the …. every culture had its own alternative …

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: .. and in this particular case we are talking about the hippie movement because  there was a lot of  drug induced shifts in consciousness, but shifts in consciousness, nevertheless.

Dr. B: Correct.

GQ: … and then the gurus, the wonderful gurus that you’ve mentioned, including Swami Satchidananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they sort of became the representation of the organic consciousness … the organic spirituality of the day.

Dr. B: Yes, so what happened … I’d say that the shutdown that took place in the 80s and 90s is a natural consequence of the fact that there were excesses …

GQ: .. too much.

Dr. B: Yes, and there was also an embrace of exotic knowledge and a throwing away of the humanistic tradition of the West. So this is what leads us to today, and what we see today is that we may be on the threshold of a more integrated mainstream return of the Veda. I’d say, in fact George, that the grand symbol of that is the Internet. In fact the term itself is very similar to an ancient Buddhist term, “Indra’s Net.” The whole idea of  Indra’s Net is that there is a  net which is so subtle, one can’t see it, but every point in it contains the entirety of that net. All the other points in the net can be accessed at any point in that net, and that is exactly the paradigm of non-locality that we entered into with the Internet. The only thing is that this omnipresence is mediated by technology. It is today’s world in which our dependence on the external methods of contact has become so great that we have entered into a global consciousness without even realizing it.

GQ: Yes.

Dr. B: But it is exactly where what you are saying becomes so important that we have to understand this return of the Veda as a technology of consciousness, not just a technology of external contact of machinery.

GQ: Yes, and it’s really beautiful, because this Indra’s Net, and this sort of metaphor for the current return of the Veda and the role of the Internet because we are talking really to an Internet audience right now.

Dr. B: Exactly and …

GQ: And we are going out to 25 countries around the world so it’s a sort of … So Debashish you mentioned this sort of idea that perhaps someday we will be able to carry this consciousness out into the world without it riding on the wave of the Internet.

Dr. B: Yes, it’s great that we are reaching out so far with the internet, but if we are to look at the flip side, I’d say the dependence on technology to arrive at global consciousness is a failure of the spirit. It is a kind of external achievement of omnipresence, but consciousness has to equal it. It is very important at this point for a subjective revolution to take place. A revolution like that of the Upanishads where the consciousness of man can equal … that is we can experience the power of Indra’s Net in consciousness. That is the inner correlate of the Internet. With that thought I think that we really come to the threshold of the contemporary possibility of the return of the Veda.

GQ: Well and we’re also talking about the …. Remember we talked about the fact that there’s always this stage of obscuration ..

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: …. and we are now having the wisdom to begin to look at the signs of obscuration …

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: … just based on the fact that we know that it is a part of the cycle.

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: We also know that the secular plays a role in the return …

Dr. B: Correct.

GQ: And we also know that this whole idea of the inclusive …

Dr. B: Yes George.

GQ: … and we also know that maintaining the sacred is an important part of maintaining the purity of the pathway of the entry into spirit or that gets lost and obscured.

Dr. B: Yes, absolutely. So in the mainstream, whether in health care, education, business, or politics, paradigms have to shift and the technologies of consciousness have to enter into these so that we can experience the return in the mainstream. There’s a universality of consciousness that is our technological legacy today.

GQ: I think ….. honoring the fact and looking at the fact that the Vedas and Upanishads are on the scene in so many of these great architects of transformation …

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: … and taking a look at the Vedas and Upanishads and understanding the mystical part of the aspect of Quantum Physics ….

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: .. that is not just stranger than we think. As Deepak mentioned, it’s just not stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think.

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: … which takes us into the whole idea that to understand it is to subjectively experience it.

Dr. B: That’s right. To really understand it is to subjectively… this is very, very true and beautifully put, George. Mankind cannot be satisfied with a mental understanding. That is not really an understanding. True understanding is experience. Only what we experience, we truly understand, and that’s really the invitation that is the return of the Veda today.

GQ: And also, and that’s the reason why, you know, doing the deep spiritual work, you know …

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: … not just embracing the idea of meditation, but really, really learning how to practice it, and to be able to connect with that inner experience. And also Debashish, the other obscuration which is very interesting is that even on the level of such phenomena as “The Secret”, even on the level of such phenomena as the Science of Mind, even on the level of so many the connected … even Deepak Chopra’s “Seven Spiritual Laws”, you know.

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: These are looked at in terms of …. Many spiritual seekers are looking at this as their way to prosperity ….their way to manifestations ….

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: …and that is part of the obscuration.

Dr. B: Yes.

GQ: Because it obscures the quest for the direct inner deep experience

Dr. B: You are really quite absolutely right, George. I mean it takes discipline and rigor and it isn’t just by a set of teachings that we can do whatever we think, but in changing our consciousness through the technologies of meditation and yoga, through the processes of yoga, that we can understand the fulfillment of that return of the Veda.

GQ: And that is not to say that those paths are not wonderful and legitimate, because, you know, they bring out a certain quality of life.

Dr. B: Sure, everything at the beginning, everything has a chance. Everything is the initiation of the change of modality and so, you know, we should embrace all these sort of phenomena and yet we should go deeper, guide ourselves into the experience.

GQ: So, Dr. Banerji I want to thank you so much. We have had a wonderful show today and I am looking forward to the next show with you and I’m just absolutely looking forward to it. It has been really wonderful.

Dr. B: Thank you for conducting this great journey for all of us.

GQ: Thank you again and we will see you on the next show. You’ll be joining us again on the next show so I’ll see you then.

Dr. B: Thank you.

GQ: Okay.

I hoped you enjoyed today’s show. Return next week when Dr. Banerji gives another wonderful discourse on how Purusha returns as pure spirit actually and by all of its names and relations. I want to thank my producer Gary Hoffman and I want to thank Kayren Lyle for her professional input. I want to thank my friend Gina Cloud at Contact Talk Radio and my friends at KPFK Radio, Michelle Anton, Anita Valle and Bobby Zeno for inspiring me to do this 12-part series. So thanks again for being with us and I’ll see you on the next show.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Return of the Veda with George Quant. Tune in next week for more insight into the wisdom of the Vedic seers. Hear the revelations of the pioneers of quantum physics and discover the da Vinci code of meditation research in the chronicles of meditation segments. For more information on George Quant’s _________

Swami Rama Tirtha: In woods of God Realization

Swami Rama Tirtha was a Vedantin of the highest realization. Vedanta according to him is no dogma or blind faith, but the Reality of realities. It is the realization of our true Self, Sat-Chid-Anand, the state of All-Being, All Knowledge, All Bliss. Swami Rama was not only a religious teacher, but was also a fearless social reformer, and an undaunted patriot.

This website is dedicated to disseminate the teachings of Swami Tirtha. To this end we will be making available Swami Rama’s “In Woods of God-Realization” online. “In Woods of God-Realization” is a seven volume work by Swamiji. Read these online here.

Jatakas

The Jataka is a massive collection of Buddhist folklore about previous incarnations of the Buddha, both in human and animal form. Originally written in Pali, and dating to at least 380 BCE, the Jataka includes many stories which have traveled afar. Many of these can be traced cross-culturally in the folklore of many countries.

The Buddhist Jatakas are archived here.

Irrational Optimism by Navin Doshi & Sujay Desai (October 8th, 2009)

As a young nation, America has always preferred to boldly look ahead to a limitless future without much consideration for the past.  Because we have such a brief history, we tend to cut ties with past events as a matter of course.  In one regard, this perspective grants Americans the freedom to quickly overcome calamities with optimism and courage.  However, when held unchecked, our short-term memory has clouded our judgment and created an irrational optimism borne out of a refusal to learn from past misfortune.  This recession has its roots in our willful ignorance of all the warning signs related to loose credit, shaky loans, and exotic financial instruments. Apparently we stand at a precarious point in our economic crisis, and we need to finally face facts rather than dwell in a fantasy world of our own invention.  The recession will not evaporate just because the politicians and the public feel that Americans have endured enough pain and suffering.  On the contrary, as the economic indicators worsen, we may very well be just getting started with our downward slide.  If we are to learn one lesson from the financial collapse of 2008, it is that America needs to balance our unbridled optimism with some humility and a desire to avoid past mistakes.

When we examine the various key economic indicators, we see a consistency in the dismal nature of the numbers.  National unemployment is now at 9.8%, the highest it has reached since 1983.  More than 90% of American financial institutions are technically insolvent.  So far this year, 95 banks have failed and counting. The number of U.S. lenders unable to collect over 20% of their loans has hit an 18-year high.  The collective net worth of the Forbes 400, America’s richest group, has fallen by $300 billion in the last year, a drop of almost 20%.  As residential foreclosure rates continue to rise, banks are holding their breath in anticipation of the wave of 5-year interest-only commercial mortgages which will be due in the next one to three years.  When the commercial real estate foreclosure onslaught begins, banks may face a second financial crisis.  Consumer confidence has dipped, creating a bad omen for retailers as they look ahead to the all-important holiday season. As small and mid-size businesses lack capital for expansion, the unemployment rate will inevitably rise well into the double digits.

Bill Gross, the manager of the largest bond fund, and a feature columnist Allen Abelson of Barron’s believe that the U. S. government needs to be more concerned about deflation than inflation, contradicting what the stock market is telling us. Usually the message from the bond market is more accurate than the same from the stock market. The implication here is that interest rates should remain low for years to come. Highly credible monetary experts believe that America has no choice but plan an orderly decline of the dollar to 50% in ten years to get out of the deflationary spiral and the huge deficit. The implication here is that America needs to introduce about 7 % inflation every year for the next ten years. Mark Faber, a prophet of gloom and doom and a Barron’s round table contributor, believes that the dollar could sink in value very rapidly. His very recent statement was that ”it took 100 years for the dollar to go down to a dime, but the dollar of today could go down to a dime in less than 15 years”.

Last week, there was a news story, denied by the Arabs, that they are secretly negotiating with China, Russia, Brazil, and France to trade oil in a basket of currencies replacing the dollar. If it is true, the downward spiral of the dollar could accelerate. The great game the big powers play is always to gain advantage over any other trading partner. It is apparent that America is losing its leverage in the world currency market based upon the statements in the news media.

Ambrose Evans Pritchard of London Telegraph: “You can date the end of dollar hegemony from China’s decision last month to sell its first batch of sovereign bonds in Chinese Yuan to foreigners. It is this shift in Asia and Latin America that threatens dollar domination, not just the pricing of oil contracts”.

Fund manager Vitaly Nesis: “Domination of the dollar as the world currency has started to decline and gold will be its natural descendent. Gold should stay in the driving seat despite the spin coming from G-7 bankers. Perceived recovery is probably a mirage communicated by gullible media”.

Chinese government banker: “Transitional currency in the move away from dollar may well be gold”.  The golden rule over the ages has been that “those who own the most gold rule the world”.

Dow Theory letter editor, Richard Russell: “Meanwhile, a great bull market starts… a bull market that mirrors the demise of the dollar. Gold is priced in dollars, and as the dollar weakens, it takes an increasing amount of fiat dollars to buy an ounce of gold. Beginning in 1999, gold started up in a primary bull market. In my personal opinion, this is fated to be one of the greatest bull markets in history. It will be a bull market built on not one, but two powerful human emotions — both greed and fear. The speculative third phase lies ahead. Slowly but surely, the US public will finally realize that the US government is bankrupt both morally and monetarily. People will panic into gold… I believe that there will be a world panic to buy gold. This will set off one of the wildest and most explosive bull market in history”.

America once owned the most gold held in Fort Knox. Today, we do not know how much gold America has since it is kept secret. Congressman Ron Paul’s request to audit for gold reserve has been vehemently opposed by the Fed.  As of today (10/08/2009), gold traded at $1055, the highest level ever in its trading history.

(Navin Doshi, October 8th, 2009)
(Articles of Mr. Doshi, a writer and a philanthropist, are available on www.nalandainternational.org)

Sun. Oct. 11, 2009 — Gandhi Remixed: Pluralism and Nonviolence in Today’s World

a Parliament of the World’s Religions (SCCPWR)

 
  

 The University of Southern California

and the Southern California Committee for

 

invite you to

 

Gandhi Remixed:

Pluralism and Nonviolence in Today’s World

 

Sunday, October 11, 2009. 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

at USC’s Mark Taper Auditorium (near Jefferson and Hoover )

Registration begins at 12:30 PM

 

Speakers include Ralph Fertig and Chris Chapple plus many others, who will lead workshops.

Chris Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, is founding member of the Forum on Religion and Ecology ( Yale University ) and has published more than a dozen books on the religions of India , many with a focus on Hinduism and Ecology.

Ralph Fertig, professor of social work at USC, has fought for social justice as a federal administrative judge, civil rights lawyer, social worker and sociologist. The Washington Post once dubbed him “the conscience of Washington .”

 

Refreshments and event are FREE, followed at 6:00 PM by a free concert at the Bovard Auditorium

by one of the world’s foremost sitar players

Nishat Khan

 
  • Help us celebrate Gandhi’s 140th birthday!
  • Join us for an intellectually exciting, multi-cultural encounter
  • Participate in an official Pre-Parliament Event as the world’s interfaith community gears up for the largest interfaith gathering in the world to be held this December in Melbourne , Australia !
 
  
The 1st World Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago in 1893. Since the centenary celebration in Chicago in 1993,               a Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city – Cape Town 1999; Barcelona 2004 and now the 5th in  December 3-9, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia

 

 

 
SCCPWR is an organization open to individual members, founded upon a common commitment to promote dialogue about the varieties of sacred experience in order to foster understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation.
 

http://socalparliamentofreligions.org http://www.parliamentofreligions.org

 

For more information contact: Anthony Manousos    310-889-0784 socalparliament@aol.com

 
Yours in peace and friendship,New blog: http://laquaker.blogspot.com/

“Live your life as if everything that happens is what you’ve prayed for.” –Gene Hoffman

 

Anthony Manousos

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Philosophy of Death and the Health Care Debate

By Navin Doshi   –  October 2nd, 2009

The concept of death varies drastically between cultures and even between individuals within the cultures. Most are encompassed by fear at the thought of it, and some deny its inevitability whatsoever. However, all that we ought to do in life is working up to attaining the selfless awareness that is so desired for that point, that moment of death. When we die, we leave our wealth and our possessions wherever they are. The family and the friends go with the dead body to the cemetery where the body is cremated or buried, and then they go home. The only thing left in this world are the good selfless deeds that people will always remember.

Transcendence towards a higher state of being is what steers us away from fear. Death is the moment of testing what we have learned, to see if we are ready to leave family, friends, and this earth behind and finally remain at peace, completely aware of our wholeness with God. When you are born, you cry but the world rejoices. But when you die, hopefully you rejoice but the world cries. The famous medieval Indian saint-poet, Tulsidas says this in one of his couplets. This is also affirmed in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Tibetan Buddhists also believe that during the process of death, a bright light appears. If you succeed in grasping the light, the outcome you have so desired is achieved. As a result, you are not reborn.

In the Upanishads, the sun is described as Sutratma that, like a needle, pierces all the jivatmas (life souls). The life soul, also known as the individual self, has to realize its oneness with the cosmic wind and the sun. Unless it does so, it cannot cross the frontiers of death; furthermore, it cannot know Immortality, so say the Indian scriptures. One who enters the door of the sun enters into Immortality, for beyond the sun is the realm of Immortality. The implication is that death is mukti, release from bondage. Death is part and parcel of transcendence and an opportunity. One should not fear death but welcome it. I have a great admiration for President Kennedy’s wife, Jackie Kennedy, who endured calamities during her life, and submitted to the death due to cancer at young age so gracefully.

Many traditions consider the sacrifice into death as an honor, leading to bliss. Some outstanding examples of this exist from different cultures of mankind. Adi Shankaracharya attained vedeha mukti (freedom from embodiment) at the young age of 32 because he believed that he had completed his dharma, his life goal of spreading the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.. The Japanese samurai accepted death as an honor, as a moral and ethical duty, as we say in our tradition, dharma. There are stories of native Indians facing a shower of bullets from General Custer’s army while defending their families and territory, without showing pain because they thought the sacrifice was noble. A Buddhist monk in Saigon immolates himself as a sacrifice to protest against the Vietnam War in 1963, showing no sign of pain. The pain to the viewers, when it was shown on American television, was the start of soul-searching in America and a change in the direction of the American policy.

The value of life in the west, meaning the resources spent to maintain and prolong the life, has recently been the highest ever reached in human history but did not coincide with the economic peak that occurred in the 1970s. One can deduce that the delayed peak could probably have occurred in the 1990’s. One measure of the value of life could be people’s tolerance to war casualties. Americans’ casualties during the Second World War were over half a million with virtually no opposition from the people. However, the casualties of allied troops during Iraq war, has been less than ten thousand with the majority opposing the war. Another measure could be, in the 1990s, how complicated things become in the cases of Terri Schiavo, who was removed from life support, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the strong advocate of voluntary euthanasia. The value of life, I believe, goes up with increasing level of education and stays low where ignorance is rampant. Currently the country is polarized on matters of health care: one side is concerned about the rising cost, and the other is concerned about the morality. Medicare has become a big burden that could bankrupt the country. However, reformers need to face two truths: 1) we are all going to die, and 2) the demand for cures that might postpone death outstrips the supply. That puts the limit on finite resources of any country. Should doctors seek to save the largest number of lives or the largest number of years for individual lives? A thousand dollars spent to save a life of a child is well spent. But what about a million spent to prolong the life of a terminally ill patient by a month? Many Americans do not trust the government to do anything much, let alone make decisions about life and death. Members of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) are so concerned of loosing their Medicare benefits, the majority of them do not want to have AARP to support any health plan proposed by the Congress.

First and foremost, any health care solution should include the employment of non-intrusive systems such as yoga, and ayurveda to help people stay healthy. I believe faith and idealism in general, and eastern traditions in particular, can help to resolve this problem. The supreme task before our philosophical self is to transform physical death into philosophical death. Philosophic death occurs when we move from one layer of existence to the next. Recall that Nature is fractal, that is, systems have multiple layers, organisms and organizations included. When a dependent child grows up and becomes an independent, responsible adult who marries and has children of his own, the child in him dies philosophically. When a woman becomes a mother, she sacrifices her own needs for those of the newborn child. Ancient sages of India have described a woman who has achieved motherhood as the goddess of love, since her love for her child is infinite. She is the goddess of patience, since she shows the utmost patience when the child is slow to learn during the growing-up period. She is the goddess of forgiveness, since she forgives the child’s undesirable behavior and keeps encouraging for better behavior.

An inspiring story is told about a mountaineer Aron Ralston in may 2003, who got stuck between a rock and hard place, literally, for a whole week with little water and a pocket knife. With his right arm pinned in a three-foot-wide opening, he used his engineering skill and the pocketknife to amputate his arm to free himself from a boulder weighing 1,000 pounds. In one way, he cheated certain death. However, he considered that he had died and been reborn without one arm and with a stronger body—this illustrates a philosophic death and rebirth.

The somatic self dies philosophically when the psychic self is born; and, though the body is alive, its only function is to support the psychic self. Death in the Vedic/Buddhist tradition is a mere change of clothes, the body being analogous to a garment. A change of garments, from soiled to clean, is indeed a matter for joy, not lamentation. As we age, we need to learn to live “Now”, not in the past and not in the future. That would help us keep out of the time domain minimizing the fear of death. Recall “Now” is the common apex of both, past and future cones, in space-time continuum bounded within the confines of the speed of light. “Now” literally is at the threshold to escape the domain of Nature. Perhaps a release from fear of death would allow for a better and more aware life. If death were accepted as inevitability, and a pleasing one at that, perhaps we would be able to fully live with a more focused determination to live the right way, with little or no burden to the family and society.

Here is a very appropriate poem by noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore:

On the Fear of Death

Let me not pray to be sheltered from

dangers but to be fearless in facing

them.

Let me not beg for stilling of

my pain but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life’s

battlefield but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to

be saved but hope for the patience to

win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a

coward, feeling your mercy in my

success alone; but let me find the grasp

of your hand in my failure.

(Mr. Doshi is a writer, trader, and philanthropist.)


[1] Tulsi tim jab jag me ayo jag hase tum rowe/ Aur eise karam kar chalo ki tum haso jag rowe. (Tulsi when you came to the world, the world rejoiced but you cried/But do you  such works in life that when it’s time to go, you rejoice while the world cries.) (Thank you, Dr. Debashish Banerji, for adding Tulsidas couplet)

Descartes, Einstein, and Signs of the Divine by Navin Doshi (September 17, 2009

Descartes’ contribution to the field of science and philosophy was to distinguish mind and body, making him one of the first in the West responsible for separating the two selves. He was able to define the mind, unlike matter, as non-local (it does not have any location in space), not divisible, and existing independently of matter. Matter, unlike mind, is divisible and has a location. This separation of body and mind has been described in Eastern traditions thousands of years back even more clearly.

But Descartes also made a profound over-simplification in claiming consciousness as the property of mind. The implication here is that he believed in upward causation, meaning matter was first, followed by mind which was equated with consciousness. Eastern traditions believe in downward causation where consciousness, that is Brahman (God), is the highest state of being, followed by the mind and the body that is matter.

The Upanishads describe Brahman as Satchidananda—the true Absolute reality, which not separately but simultaneously is Sat, or Truth, Chit or Consciousness or Light, and Ananda or Bliss. They describe it as non-dual: That which is One-without-a second, That from which nothing is separate, That which is not conditioned by time, space and causation, That which is self-existent, and That which is devoid of attributes. It does not have any limits because it is beyond space, for limits of something or someone can only be cognized within the contours of space. It is changeless because change can only be conceived within the parameters of time. It is without a beginning or an end because the beginning or end can only be perceived within the confines of time and space. It is self-effulgent for It is Consciousness itself; its effulgence is not dependent on anything, for It is beyond causation. Because nothing in the cosmos is separate from the Brahman, It has manifested this universe from its own body, first engendering time and space and then entering into them, just as a spider creates its web from its own saliva.

The Divine or God in most major traditions is characterized by Light. The Brahmasutras and Upanishads define Brahman as self-effulgent. One of the prayers in the Upanishads specifically speaks about taking one from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality equating the characteristic of the Divine with truth and light. Diwali, the festival of light, in most Indian traditions represent the triumph of good over evil or an attainment of nirvana in Buddhist and Jain traditions. Genesis explains that at the time of creation God said, “Let there be light” and from light the whole universe came into play. People who have had near-death experiences recount them as godly tête-à-tête with light. The Tibetan Book of the Dead contends that as soon as an individual dies, it has an encounter with “Clear Light of Reality.” It is not able to hold that state because its karmic propensities bring it to lesser and lesser states until it is reborn. Ramakrishna, describing his experiences in featureless or nirvikalpa samadhi, stated that he saw an ocean of light having no beginning or end. Many mystics from different traditions have also experienced and recorded spiritual encounters as light. Even in movies like The Abyss and The Ghost, they project higher beings as self-effulgent.

It is not surprising that decades after Descartes conceptually separated mind and matter, Albert Einstein, who had a deep exposure to Indian spiritual traditions, came out with his Theory of Relativity and the E=MC2 equation, where the speed of light is the unchanging constant. However, mass and energy—and if we take his entire Theory of Relativity into account, space and time also—being attributes of Nature, are changing. Everything in Nature is changing and relative (though never absolute) except light. It is true that the velocity of light changes when it is approaching a black hole, but not the speed. Light, constituted of photons, has zero mass. So, the speed of light is not affected by the gravitational force exerted by a black hole–only the direction is affected.

Light therefore becomes the conduit to the Divine and connects it with Nature. The goal of a transcending philosopher is to acquire the highest mental state of being, the spiritual self. The insight here is to becoming selfless, egoless—that is, mass-less and light like, approaching the attribute known as unchanging. It is amazing and significant that Einstein was able to uncover the relative nature of Nature by associating light with the realm of the Divine, which happens also to be the view of the world’s great religious traditions.

Before Einstein had made such a discovery, Descartes made a second error. He believed that the non-material world, though separate from, interacted with the localized material world. It reminds me of the story from Reader’s Digest recited by my teacher some time in 1940s in India, about scientists in the US trying to see if the escaping soul can be detected employing very sophisticated instruments of the time. Obviously they could not detect an escaping soul from the dying body.

People who are agnostic or atheist should consider the following a few signs of the Divine. As explained in my book, Transcendence, Ruta is the first evolute, the first cause, the first sign of the Absolute, and samskara acquired through hard training becomes the first link, the first several steps to transcend to the ultimate state of Godhood. If we believe in downward causation, we have to believe in God. Downward causation occurs in a non-ordinary, non-local state of consciousness that we call “God-consciousness.” If we believe that we have a soul (Atman), then we have to believe in God (Brahman). If we accept that we have the power of creativity, then we must accept the existence of God. Creativity often is instantaneous and spontaneous because we are connected with consciousness. Ruta and samskara linked with Ruta, are very much instrumental to experience creativity. If we accept the non-local non-ordinary working of quantum physics, we are indeed a lover of God. Only downward causation can help us resolve the mystery of fossil gaps in the theory of evolution.

The fact that we perceive, communicate, and understand each other is due to our connection to consciousness. If we believe that mind could help heal the body, then consciousness is the cause. If the reader is interested in discovering more in detail, the reader should consider reading the book, The Signatures of the Divine, written by Professor Amit Goswami. As explained earlier, Einstein’s insight of connecting unchanging nature of light with the traditional view of the first glimpse of the Absolute is, I believe, one of the strongest proofs of the existence of the Absolute. If we believe in Humanism, then certainly God loves us all. Following is a very appropriate poem written by James Henry Leigh Hunt:

“ABU BEN ADHEM
Abu Ben Adhem
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”
The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
answered, ‘The names of those who love the Lord.’
‘And is mine one?’ said Abu.
‘Nay, not so,’
replied the angel.
Abu spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said,
‘I pray thee then,
Write me as one that
loves his fellow men.’
The angel wrote, and vanished.
The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.”

To read more on related matters, click here to view Navin Doshi & Sujay Desai’s Irrational Optimism (October 8th).

(Navin Doshi, September 17th, 2009)
(Articles of Mr. Doshi, a writer and a philanthropist, are available on www.nalandainternational.org)

Conference: Fundamentalism and the Future

Fundamentalism and the Future

Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12, 2009

California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

 

Map and directions

 

The conference is hosted by the Department of Asian and Comparative Religions (CIIS) of the California Institute of Integral Studies. Organizers are Debashish Banerji, Rich Carlson, and David Hutchinson.

 

Registration

The conference is free. However, we ask you to register here so that we can plan appropriately, and keep you informed of updates and materials.

 

Organizers

The conference has been organized by Debashish Banerji, Rich Carlson, and David Hutchinson. See the Presenters page for more information.

 

Summary

The organizers of Fundamentalism and the Future wish to acknowledge an era of global terror inaugurated by 9/11 in relation to the forces shaping our present world. In a period marked by hegemonic globalization and increasing sectarian hostility, the “future” has become a contested category in which a number of cultural histories and social psychologies have been forced into difficult contact.

Willingly or unwillingly, we find ourselves participants of a global jihad vs. McWorld scenario in which the persistence of medieval forms of religious fundamentalism clash with the forces of neo-liberal globalization. Is responsibility for the conflict to be leveled at the history of modernity itself — the Enlightenment, colonialism, Orientalism, nationalism, multiculturalism, cultural relativism and globalism? Are we moving inexorably towards a future determined by the politics of the world market? Or a future of brutal cult-wars in the name of truth, waged by the dispossessed “others” of capitalism, who are intimately entwined and yet beyond the boundary-politics of nation-states?

Does Sri Aurobindo have anything to teach us to help navigate this emerging future? Can his teachings provide useful insights into understanding the nature of the contemporary world problematic and suggest ways to reconcile its antagonisms? If as he asserts all problems are problems of harmony are there societal lessons that can be drawn from the community he founded?

The publication of a recent biography on Sri Aurobindo by a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the violent condemnation of it by a few because it deviates from orthodox ideology suggests the need for intense reflection on the wider contexts that have made such a reaction possible.

The conference will consider these questions, the zeitgeist of our times, and the future. We will examine and consider a possible future of cosmopolitan exploration and emergence using the conference as an occasion for transforming current conflicts into teachable moments.

 

Contact

For more information on the conference, please contact:

David Hutchinson

 

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Debashish Banerji

 

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Rich Carlson

 

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