Monday, 29 April 2013

Violence against women must end...

I bet you're worried.


I was worried. That's why I began this piece. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don't think about them. I was worried about my own vagina. It needed a context, a culture, a community of other vaginas. There is so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them. Like the Bermuda Triangle, nobody ever reports back from there.


In the first place, it's not so easy to even find your vagina. Women go days, weeks, months, without looking at it. I interviewed a high-powered businesswoman; she told me she didn't have time. "Looking at your vagina," she said, "is a full day's work."


"You've got to get down there on your back, in front of a mirror, full-length preferred. You've got to get in the perfect position, with the perfect light, which then becomes shadowed by the angle you're at. You're twisting your head up, arching your back, it's exhausting." She was busy; she didn't have time. So I decided to talk to women about their vaginas. They began as casual vagina interviews, and they turned into vagina monologues. I talked with over 200 women. I talked to older women, younger women, married women, lesbians, single women; I talked to corporate professionals, college professors, actors, sex workers; I talked to African-American women, Asian-American women, Native-American women, Caucasian women, Jewish women. OK, at first women were a little shy, a little reluctant to talk. Once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women love to talk about their vaginas -- they do. Mainly because no one's ever asked them before.


Let's just start with the word "vagina" -- vagina, vagina. It sounds like an infection at best. Maybe a medical instrument. "Hurry, nurse, bring the vagina."


Vagina, vagina, vagina. It doesn't matter how many times you say the word, it never sounds like a word you want to say. It's a completely ridiculous, totally un-sexy word. If you use it during sex, trying to be politically correct, "Darling, would you stroke my vagina," you kill the act right there.


I'm worried what we call them and don't call them. In Great Neck, New York, they call it a "pussy-cat." A woman told me there, her mother used to tell her, "Don't wear panties, dear, underneath your pajamas. You need to air out your pussy-cat."


In Westchester they call it a "pooky," in New Jersey a "twat." There's powder-box, derriere, a pooky, a poochy, a poopy, a poopaloo, a pooninana, a padepachetchki, a pow, and a peach.


There's toadie, dee dee, nishi, dignity, coochie snorcher, cooter, labi, gladis siegelman, va, wee-wee, whore-spot, nappy dugout, mungo, ghoulie, powder-box, a "mimi" in Miami, a "split knish" in Philadelphia, and a "schmende" in the Bronx.


I am worried about vaginas. This is how the "Vagina Monologues" begins. But it really didn't begin there; it began with a conversation with a woman. We were having a conversation about menopause, and we got onto the subject of her vagina -- which you'll do if you're talking about menopause. And she said things that really shocked me about her vagina -- that it was dried-up and finished and dead -- and I was kind of shocked. And so I said to a friend casually, "Well, what do you think about your vagina?" And that woman said something more amazing, and then the next woman said something more amazing, and before I knew it, every woman was telling me I had to talk to somebody about their vagina because they had an amazing story, and I was sucked down the vagina trail.


And I really haven't gotten off it. I think if you had told me when I was younger that I was going to grow up, and be in shoe stores, and people were going to scream out, "There she is, the Vagina Lady!" I don't know that that would have been my life ambition.


But I want to talk a little bit about happiness and the relationship to this whole vagina journey because it has been an extraordinary journey that began eight years ago. I think before I did the "Vagina Monologues" I didn't really believe in happiness. I thought that only idiots were happy, to be honest. I remember when I started practicing Buddhism 14 years ago, and I was told that the end of this practice was to be happy, I said, "How could you be happy and live in this world of suffering and live in this world of pain?" I mistook happiness for a lot of other things, like numbness or decadence or selfishness. And what happened through the course of the "Vagina Monologues" and this journey is I think I have come to understand a little bit more about happiness.

There're three qualities I want to talk about. One is seeing what's right in front of you, and talking about it, and stating it. I think what I learned from talking about the vagina, and speaking about the vagina, is it was the most obvious thing -- it was right in the center of my body and the center of the world -- and yet it was the one thing nobody talked about. The second thing is that what talking about the vagina did is it opened this door which allowed me to see that there was a way to serve the world to make it better. And that's where the deepest happiness has actually come from. And the third principle of happiness, which I've realized recently.

Eight years ago, this momentum and this energy, this "V-wave" started -- and I can only describe it as a "V-wave" because, to be honest, I really don't understand it completely; I feel at the service of it. But this wave started, and if I question the wave, or try to stop the wave or look back at the wave, I often have the experience of whiplash or the potential of my neck breaking. But if I go with the wave, and I trust the wave and I move with the wave, I go to the next place, and it happens logically and organically and truthfully. And I started this piece, particularly with stories and narratives, and I was talking to one woman and that led to another woman and that led to another woman, and then I wrote those stories down and I put them out in front of other people.

And every single time I did the show at the beginning, women would literally line up after the show because they wanted to tell me their stories. And at first I thought, "Oh great, I'll hear about wonderful orgasms, and great sex lives, and how women love their vaginas." But in fact, that's not what women lined up to tell me. What women lined up to tell me was how they were raped, and how they were battered, and how they were beaten, and how they were gang-raped in parking lots, and how they were incested by their uncles. And I wanted to stop doing the "Vagina Monologues" because it felt too daunting. I felt like a war photographer who takes pictures of terrible events, but doesn't intervene on their behalf.

And so in 1997, I said, "Let's get women together. What could we do with this information that all these women are being violated?" And it turned out, after thinking and investigating, that I discovered -- and the UN has actually said this recently -- that one out of every three women on this planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. That's essentially a gender; that's essentially a resource of the planet, which is women. So in 1997 we got all these incredible women together and we said, "How can we use the play, this energy, to stop violence against women?" And we put on one event in New York City, in the theater, and all these great actors came -- from Susan Sarandon, to Glenn Close, to Whoopi Goldberg -- and we did one performance on one evening, and that catalyzed this wave, this energy.

And within five years, this extraordinary thing began to happen. One woman took that energy and she said, "I want to bring this wave, this energy, to college campuses," and so she took the play and she said, "Let's use the play and have performances of the play once a year, where we can raise money to stop violence against women in local communities all around the world." And in one year, it went to 50 colleges, and then it expanded. And over the course of the last six years, it's spread and it's spread and it's spread and it's spread around the world.

What I have learned is two things. One: that the epidemic of violence towards women is shocking; it's global; it is so profound and it is so devastating, and it is so in every little pocket of every little crater, of every little society, that we don't even recognize it because it's become ordinary. This journey has taken me to Afghanistan, where I had the extraordinary honor and privilege to go into parts of Afghanistan under the Taliban -- I was dressed in a burqa -- and I went in with an extraordinary group called the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, and I saw firsthand how women had been stripped of every single right that was possible to strip women of -- from being educated, to being employed, to being actually allowed to eat ice cream. For those of you who don't know it, it was illegal to eat ice cream under the Taliban. And I actually saw and met women who had been flogged by being caught eating vanilla ice cream. And I was taken to the secret ice cream-eating place in a little town, where we went to a back room, and women were seated and a curtain was pulled around us, and they were served vanilla ice cream. And women lifted their burqas and ate this ice cream, and I don't think I ever understood pleasure until that moment, and how women have found a way to keep their pleasure alive.

It has taken me, this journey, to Islamabad, where I have witnessed and met women with their faces melted off. It has taken me to Juarez, Mexico, where I was a week ago, where I have literally been there in parking lots where bones of women have washed up and been dumped next to Coca-Cola bottles. It has taken me to universities all over this country where girls are date-raped and drugged. I have seen terrible, terrible, terrible violence. But I have also recognized, in the course of seeing that violence, that being in the face of things and seeing actually what's in front of us is the antidote to depression and to a feeling that one is worthless and has no value. Because before the "Vagina Monologues," I will say that 80 percent of my consciousness was closed off to what was really going on in this reality. And that closing-off closed off my vitality and my life energy. What has also happened is in the course of these travels -- and it's been an extraordinary thing -- is that every single place that I have gone to in the world, I have met a new species. And I really love hearing about all these species at the bottom of the sea. And I was thinking about how being with these extraordinary people on this particular panel that it's beneath, beyond, and between, and the vagina kind of fits into all those categories.


But one of the things I've seen is this species -- and it is a species, and it is a new paradigm, and it doesn't get reported in the press or in the media because I don't think good news ever is news, and I don't think people who are transforming the planet are what gets the ratings on TV shows. But every single country I have been to -- and in the last six years I've been to about 45 countries, and many tiny little villages and cities and towns -- I have seen something what I've come to call "vagina warriors." A "vagina warrior" is a woman, or a vagina-friendly man, who has witnessed incredible violence or suffered it, and rather than getting an AK-47 or a weapon of mass destruction or a machete, they hold the violence in their bodies; they grieve it; they experience it; and then they go out and devote their lives to making sure it doesn't happen to anybody else.

I have met these women everywhere on the planet. And I want to tell a few stories because I believe that stories are the way that we transmit information, where it goes into our bodies. And I think that one of the things about being at TED that's been very interesting is that I live in my body a lot, and I don't live in my head very much anymore. And this is a very heady place. And it's been really interesting to be in my head for the last two days; I've been very disoriented -- (Laughter) because I think the world, the V-world, is very much in your body. It's a body world, and the species really exists in the body, and I think there's a real significance in us attaching our bodies to our heads -- that that separation has created a divide that is often separating purpose from intent. And the connection between body and head often brings those things into union.

I want to talk about three particular people that I've met, vagina warriors, who really transformed my understanding of this whole principle and species, and one is a woman named Marsha Lopez. Marsha Lopez was a woman I met in Guatemala. She was 14 years old, and she was in a marriage and her husband was beating her on a regular basis, and she couldn't get out because she was addicted to the relationship and she had no money. Her sister was younger than her and she applied -- we had a "stop rape" contest a few years ago in New York -- and she applied, hoping that she would become a finalist and she could bring her sister. She did become a finalist; she brought Marsha to New York. And at that time we did this extraordinary V-Day at Madison Square Garden where we sold out the entire testosterone-filled dome, 18,000 people standing up to say "yes" to vaginas, which was really a pretty incredible transformation. And she came, and she witnessed this, and she decided that she would go back and leave her husband, and that she would bring V-Day to Guatemala. She was 21 years old. I went to Guatemala and she had sold out the National Theater of Guatemala. And I watched her walk up on stage in her red short dress, and high heels, and she stood there and she said, "My name is Marsha. I was beaten by my husband for five years. He almost murdered me. I left and you can too." And the entire 2,000 people went absolutely crazy.

There's a woman named Esther Chavez who I met in Juarez, Mexico. And Esther Chavez was a brilliant accountant in Mexico City; she was 72 years old; and she was planning to retire. She went to Juarez to take care of an ailing aunt, and over the course of it, she began to discover what was happening to the murdered and disappeared women of Juarez. She gave up her life; she moved to Juarez; she started to write the stories which documented the disappeared women. 300 women have disappeared in a border town because they're brown and poor. There has been no response to the disappearance, and not one person has been held accountable. She began to document it; she opened a center called Casa Amiga; and in six years, she has literally brought this to the consciousness of the world. We were there a week ago, when there were 7,000 people on the street, and it was truly a miracle. And as we walked through the streets, the people of Juarez, who normally don't even come into the streets because the streets are so dangerous, literally stood there and wept to see that other people from the world had showed up for that particular community.

There's another woman named Agnes. And Agnes, for me, epitomizes what a vagina warrior is. I met her three years ago in Kenya. And Agnes was mutilated as a little girl, she was circumcised against her will when she was 10 years old, and she really made a decision that she didn't want this practice to continue anymore in her community. So when she got older she created this incredible thing: it's an anatomical sculpture of a woman's body; it's half a woman's body. And she walked through the Rift Valley, and she had vagina and vagina replacement parts where she would teach girls and parents and boys and girls what a healthy vagina looks like, and what a mutilated vagina looks like. And in the course of her travel she walked literally for eight years through the Rift Valley, through dust, through sleeping on the ground -- because the Masais are nomads, and she would literally have to find them, and they would move, and she would find them again. She saved 1,500 girls from being cut. And in that time she created an alternative ritual which involved girls coming of age without the cut. When we met her three years ago, we said, "What could V-Day do for you?" And she said, "Well, if you got me a Jeep, I could get around a lot faster."


So we bought her a Jeep. And in the year that she had the Jeep, she saved 4,500 girls from being cut. So then we said to her, "Agnes, well, what else could we do for you?" And she said, "Well, Eve, you know, if you gave me some money, I could open a house and girls could run away and they could be saved." And I want to tell this little story about my own beginnings because it's very interrelated to happiness and Agnes.

When I was a little girl -- and I grew up in a wealthy community; it was an upper-middle class white community, and it had all the trappings and the looks of a perfectly nice, wonderful, great life. And everyone was supposed to be happy in that community and, in fact, my life was hell. I lived with an alcoholic father who beat me and molested me, and it was all inside that. And always as a child I had this fantasy that somebody would come and rescue me. And I actually made up a little character whose name was Mr. Alligator, and I would call him up when things got really bad, and I would say it was time to come and pick me up. And I would go and pack a little bag and I would wait for Mr. Alligator to come. Now, Mr. Alligator never did come, but the idea of Mr. Alligator coming actually saved my sanity and made it OK for me to keep going because I believed, in the distance, there would be someone coming to rescue me.

Cut to 40-some-odd years later, we go to Kenya, and we're walking, we arrive at the opening of this house -- and Agnes hadn't let me come to the house for days because they were preparing this whole ritual. And I want to tell you a great story. When Agnes first started fighting to stop female genital mutilation in her community, she had become an outcast, and she was exiled and she was slandered, and the whole community turned against her. But, being a vagina warrior, she kept going, and she kept committing herself to transforming consciousness. And in the Masai community, goats and cows are the most valued possession. They're like the Mercedes-Benz of the Rift Valley. And she said, two days before the house opened, two different people arrived to give her a goat each, and she said to me, "I knew then that female genital mutilation would end one day in Africa."

Anyway, we arrived, and when we arrived, there were hundreds of girls dressed in red, homemade dresses -- which is the color of the Masai and the color of V-Day -- and they greeted us, and they had made up these songs that they were singing about the end of suffering, and the end of mutilation, and they walked us down the path. And it was a gorgeous day in the African sun, and the dust was flying and the girls were dancing, and there was this house, and it said, "V-Day Safe House for the Girls."

And it hit me in that moment that it had taken 47 years, but that Mr. Alligator had finally shown up. And he'd show up obviously in a form that it took me a long time to understand, which is that when we give in the world what we want the most, we heal the broken part inside each of us. And I feel, in the last eight years, that this journey, this miraculous vagina journey, has taught me this really simple thing, which is that happiness exists in action; it exists in telling the truth and saying what your truth is; and it exists in giving away what you want the most. And I feel that knowledge and that journey has been an extraordinary privilege, and I feel really blessed to have been here today to communicate that to you. Thank you very much.


Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

Known for her compassionate work with the terminally ill, Joan Halifax is a driving force of socially engaged Buddhism.

Activist, anthropologist, author, caregiver, ecologist, LSD researcher, teacher, and Zen Buddhism priest -- Joan Halifax is many things to many people. Yet they all seem to agree that no matter what role she plays, Halifax is consistently courageous and compassionate. Halifax runs the Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico, a Zen Peacemaker community she opened in 1990 after founding and leading the Ojai Foundation in California for ten years. Her practice focuses on socially engaged Buddhism, which aims to alleviate suffering through meditation, interfaith cooperation, and social service.
As director of the Project on Being With Dying, Halifax has helped caregivers cope with death and dying for more than three decades. Her book Being With Dying helps clergy, community activists, medical professionals, social workers and spiritual seekers remove fear from the end of life. Halifax is a distinguished invited scholar of the U.S. Library of Congress and the only woman and Buddhist on the Tony Blair Foundation’s Advisory Council.
"She’s the most fearless person I’ve ever met."
Peg Reishin Murray in Shambhala Sun

I want to address the issue of compassion. Compassion has many faces. Some of them are fierce; some of them are wrathful; some of them are tender; some of them are wise. A line that the Dalai Lama once said, he said, "Love and compassion are necessities. They are not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." And I would suggest, it is not only humanity that won't survive, but it is all species on the planet, as we've heard today. It is the big cats, and it's the plankton.

Two weeks ago, I was in Bangalore in India. I was so privileged to be able to teach in a hospice on the outskirts of Bangalore. And early in the morning, I went into the ward. In that hospice, there were 31 men and women who were actively dying. And I walked up to the bedside of an old woman who was breathing very rapidly, fragile, obviously in the latter phase of active dying. I looked into her face. I looked into the face of her son sitting next to her, and his face was just riven with grief and confusion.

And I remembered a line from the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic: "What is the most wondrous thing in the world, Yudhisthira?" And Yudhisthira replied, "The most wondrous thing in the world is that all around us people can be dying and we don't realize it can happen to us." I looked up. Tending those 31 dying people were young women from villages around Bangalore. I looked into the face of one of these women, and I saw in her face the strength that arises when natural compassion is really present. I watched her hands as she bathed an old man.

My gaze went to another young woman as she wiped the face of another dying person. And it reminded me of something that I had just been present for. Every year or so, I have the privilege of taking clinicians into the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. And we run clinics in these very remote regions where there's no medical care whatsoever.

And on the first day at Simikot in Humla, far west of Nepal, the most impoverished region of Nepal, an old man came in clutching a bundle of rags. And he walked in, and somebody said something to him, we realized he was deaf, and we looked into the rags, and there was this pair of eyes. The rags were unwrapped from a little girl whose body was massively burned. Again, the eyes and hands of Avalokiteshvara. It was the young women, the health aids, who cleaned the wounds of this baby and dressed the wounds.

I know those hands and eyes; they touched me as well. They touched me at that time. They have touched me throughout my 68 years. They touched me when I was four and I lost my eyesight and was partially paralyzed. And my family brought in a woman whose mother had been a slave to take care of me. And that woman did not have sentimental compassion. She had phenomenal strength. And it was really her strength, I believe, that became the kind of mudra and imprimatur that has been a guiding light in my life.

So we can ask: What is compassion comprised of? And there are various facets. And there's referential and non-referential compassion. But first, compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is that ability to really stand strong and to recognize also that I'm not separate from this suffering. But that is not enough, because compassion, which activates the motor cortex, means that we aspire, we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we're so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering. But compassion has another component, and that component is really essential. That component is that we cannot be attached to outcome.

Now I worked with dying people for over 40 years. I had the privilege of working on death row in a maximum security [prison] for six years. And I realized so clearly in bringing my own life experience, from working with dying people and training caregivers, that any attachment to outcome would distort deeply my own capacity to be fully present to the whole catastrophe.

And when I worked in the prison system, it was so clear to me, this: that many of us in this room, and almost all of the men that I worked with on death row, the seeds of their own compassion had never been watered. That compassion is actually an inherent human quality. It is there within every human being. But the conditions for compassion to be activated, to be aroused, are particular conditions. I had that condition, to a certain extent, from my own childhood illness. Eve Ensler, whom you'll hear later, has had that condition activated amazingly in her through the various waters of suffering that she has been through.

And what is fascinating is that compassion has enemies, and those enemies are things like pity, moral outrage, fear. And you know, we have a society, a world, that is paralyzed by fear. And in that paralysis, of course, our capacity for compassion is also paralyzed. The very word terror is global. The very feeling of terror is global. So our work, in a certain way, is to address this imago, this kind of archetype that has pervaded the psyche of our entire globe.

Now we know from neuroscience that compassion has some very extraordinary qualities. For example: A person who is cultivating compassion, when they are in the presence of suffering, they feel that suffering a lot more than many other people do. However, they return to baseline a lot sooner. This is called resilience. Many of us think that compassion drains us, but I promise you it is something that truly enlivens us.

Another thing about compassion is that it really enhances what's called neural integration. It hooks up all parts of the brain. Another, which has been discovered by various researchers at Emory and at Davis and so on, is that compassion enhances our immune system. Hey, we live in a very noxious world. (Laughter) Most of us are shrinking in the face of psycho-social and physical poisons, of the toxins of our world. But compassion, the generation of compassion, actually mobilizes our immunity.

You know, if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don't we train our children in compassion? (Applause) If compassion is so good for us, why don't we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can do what they're supposed to do, which is to really transform suffering? And if compassion is so good for us, why don't we vote on compassion? Why don't we vote for people in our government based on compassion, so that we can have a more caring world? In Buddhism, we say, "it takes a strong back and a soft front." It takes tremendous strength of the back to uphold yourself in the midst of conditions. And that is the mental quality of equanimity.

Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin
But it also takes a soft front -- the capacity to really be open to the world as it is, to have an undefended heart. And the archetype of this in Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin. It's a female archetype: she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world. She stands with 10,000 arms, and in every hand, there is an instrument of liberation, and in the palm of every hand, there are eyes, and these are the eyes of wisdom. I say that, for thousands of years, women have lived, exemplified, met in intimacy, the archetype of Avalokitesvara, of Kuan-Yin, she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world.

Women have manifested for thousands of years the strength arising from compassion in an unfiltered, unmediated way in perceiving suffering as it is. They have infused societies with kindness, and we have really felt that as woman after woman has stood on this stage in the past day and a half. And they have actualized compassion through direct action. Jody Williams called it: It's good to meditate. I'm sorry, you've got to do a little bit of that, Jody. Step back, give your mother a break, okay.


But the other side of the equation is you've got to come out of your cave. You have to come into the world like Asanga did, who was looking to realize Maitreya Buddha after 12 years sitting in the cave. He said, "I'm out of here." He's going down the path. He sees something in the path. He looks, it's a dog, he drops to his knees. He sees that the dog has this big wound on its leg. The wound is just filled with maggots. He puts out his tongue in order to remove the maggots, so as not to harm them. And at that moment, the dog transformed into the Buddha of love and kindness.

I believe that women and girls today have to partner in a powerful way with men -- with their fathers, with their sons, with their brothers, with the plumbers, the road builders, the caregivers, the doctors, the lawyers, with our president, and with all beings. The women in this room are lotuses in a sea of fire. May we actualize that capacity for women everywhere.

Thank you.


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Life can throw some pretty tough curve balls.

You will not ever really know when it will come. Just be ready...

When life throws you a curve ball, be ready.

And mark my word it will throw them.

Life is not always going to be simple, carefree and abundant, life certainly won't always be happy.

This is not a threat, this is just a fact of life. A fact of nature.

Our lives flow in cycles, just like the Universe.

Stars and galaxies are born and they die, and just like everything else in this Universe, it is all transient.

This is why we must really savour the things in life that we have; our health, our children, our family, good food, clean water, the smile of a stranger, even something as simple as the breath.

Because any of it could vanish, at any point, with out warning.

Life can throw the cruellest harshest curve balls, that really take the wind out of you, but having the faith that you will survive is vital to making it through to the other side.

Without this faith in yourself and your future, you can not succeed. We must hold on to the hope in our hearts that things things will be ok. That we will survive.

I really believe with all my heart that anything really is possible, you have to just keep that hope alive.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Why are gay people hated? Where does prejudice come from? An Incredible film.

A powerful documentary about prejudice- #prejudice - If you have suffered prejudice in your life, I would highly recommend this film. Incredibly well put together. Recent and up to date with new interviews. Educational and Historical.

I truly believe that homophobia is rooted in mens hatred or subversion of women, because, due to a cultural flaw in our society is that for a man to be anything like a woman, is the greatest form of insult for a man, this is what leads to this prejudice and this form of hatred.

Gay or straight, I highly urge you to watch this film.

A mothers love never dies

Ninety-seven-year-old Zhang feeds her paralyzed son in their simple home in Bozhou, Anhui province, on August 14, 2011.

A 97yo mother takes care of her paralyzed son in Bozhou, Anhui

Zhang has five daughters and two sons. Approximately 40 years ago, Zhang’s youngest son, then 20, became mentally ill and was finally confined to bed 19 years ago, when Zhang started to take care of him all by herself ever since.

Although life is hard, when people come to offer her some money, she always smiles, saying "All good people are blessed".

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The injustices of the world can be stopped if we stand together against them.

A rather depressing one for you, but something you can do is put your name to this petition and stand with over a million other voices to say that this is wrong. I had to double check the sources a few times to make sure what I was reading was infact true. I share this in total disbelief:

15-year-old rape-survivor sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public in Maldives!
The girl's stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.
Let's build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands' reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign now and share this with everyone to get us to a million!

Here is the Petition:


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Your future is bright, if you want it to be.

The future of your happiness is your responsibility. No-one else's. No matter what your situation, no matter who you are.

You have the potential to create change for the better, for yourself, your family, your community and our world.

Together we have the power to make things better, do not believe the lies that you are told by the media, things really are not getting worse.

We are transforming as a society, despite the horrors of bombs and wars, financial disasters, environmental changes and earth quakes, more and more people are waking up from the lies, more and more people are taking control of their own lives.

Often it is seen that the more we suffer the closer we get to each other, the more we realise what is important in life.

Love, family and friendship.

It is these times when we suffer the most that we draw from our inner resolve and we become better, stronger.

So what ever state your life is in right now, just know that, with the right amount of faith in your future, a bright and hopefully future, we will succeed.

Nam myoho renge kyo

Friday, 19 April 2013

Shane Koyczan: "To This Day" ... for the bullied and beautiful

By turn hilarious and haunting, poet Shane Koyczan puts his finger on the pulse of what it's like to be young and … different. "To This Day," his spoken-word poem about bullying, captivated millions as a viral video (created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators). Here, he gives a glorious, live reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment by Hannah Epperson.

Shane Koyczan makes spoken-word poetry and music. His poem "To This Day" is a powerful story of bullying and survival, illustrated by animators from around the world.


Confronting Bullying - To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

An incredible short film and poem created by a very very long list of people. I was bullied a lot at school and it often made me feel stupid, ugly and unlovable.

This has to be one of the most beautiful and emotive short films I have ever seen.

The words are so vivid and raw, I loved every minute of it.

Please watch and share it for every child who was bullied.

Shane Koyczan "To This Day" Help this message have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying. Please share generously.

Find Shane on Facebook -
or on Twitter -

I send out one new poem each month via email. You might like to join us.

"My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.

Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point." - Shane

Find anti-bullying resources at

Dozens of collaborators from around the world helped to bring this piece to life. Learn more about them and the project at

Buy "To This Day" on BandCamp

or iTunes


Ryan Kothe
Mike Healey
Will Fortanbary
Brian San
Diego De la Rocha
Gizelle Manalo
Adam Plouff
Mike Wolfram
Hyun Min Bae
Oliver Sin
Seth Eckert
Viraj Ajmeri
Vishnu Ganti
Yun Wang
Boris Wilmot
Cameron Spencer
DeAndria Mackey
Matt Choi
Reimo Õun
Samantha Bjalek
Eli Treviño
Ariel Costa
Caleb Coppock
James Mabery
Samir Hamiche
Waref Abu Quba
Deo Mareza and Clara
Josh Parker
Scott Cannon
Thomas McKeen
Kaine Asika
Marcel Krumbiegel
Teresa del Pozo
Eric Paoli Infanzón
Maxwell Hathaway
Rebecca Berdel
Zach Ogilvie
Anand Mistry
Chase Ogden
Dominik Grejc
Gideon Prins
Lucy Chen
Mercedes Testa
Rickard Bengtsson
Stina Seppel
Daniel Göttling
Julio C. Kurokodile
Marilyn Cherenko
Tim Darragh
Jaime Ugarte
Joe Donaldson
Josh Beaton
Margaret Schiefer
Rodrigo Ribeiro
Ryan Kaplan
Yeimi Salazar
Daniel Bartels
Joe Donaldson
Daniel Molina
Sitji Chou
Tong Zhang
Luc Journot
Vincent Bilodeau
Amy Schmitt
Bert Beltran
Daniel Moreno Cordero
Marie Owona
Mateusz Kukla
Sean Procter
Steven Fraser
Aparajita R
Ben Chwirka
Cale Oglesby
Igor Komolov
Markus Magnusson
Remington McElhaney
Tim Howe
Agil Pandri
Jessie Tully
Sander Joon
Kumphol Ponpisute
James Waters
Chris Koelsch
Ronald Rabideau
Alessandro & Manfredi
Andrea López
Howey Mitsakos

Giant Ant Studios
Leah Nelson
Jorge R. Canedo Estrada
Alicia Katz
for having the bravery to helm such a monumental project.

Brett Wilson
Joni Avram
for their generosity of spirit and tireless support.

Olivia Mennell
Maiya Robbie
Stefan Bienz
Corwin Fox
Aaron Joyce
Christina Zaenker
Melissa Bandura
for creating such a beautiful piece of music and having the patience to explore this art form with me.

Christi Thompson
Jess Sloss
for keeping me organized and making me appear to look like I know what I'm doing.

Loretta Mozart AKA my Grandmother
Sandy Garossino
Nea Reid
for never saying "You can't do that." For always saying "OK... how can I help?"
Film & Animation
Standard YouTube Licence

Engaging Compassion: Boston and the interrelatedness of our own actions.

by Enver Rahmanov

Boston. Baghdad. New York. Kabul. Tel Aviv. Gaza… Syria…Burma… Rwanda… Tibet… the sorrow of violent tragedies that I have learned in my generation seems to have crossed all the borders. The reality is that there are no borders, even if we try to build the walls and fences that separate us. Hurt, like love, travels thousands of miles. This is not to suggest that it comes from that far away, it can easily come from our own neighborhood, house, and ultimately from within us. The interrelatedness of our own actions is ultimately what matters on the scales of negative and positive actions. Unlike the lady of justice, there is no blindfold, and both violence and love are in our face. How we respond is what will be added to the scale of human fate. Hope, as our wish, cannot remain a noun. It must be a verb. In times of tragedies, hope is our compassionate response.

Read the rest of the article here

Monday, 15 April 2013

Leadership and thinking for your self.

To lead a life in which we are inspired and can inspire others, our hearts have to be alive; they have to be filled with passion and enthusiasm. To achieve that, we need the courage to live true to ourselves. Rather than borrowing from or imitating others, we need the conviction to be able to think for ourselves and to take action out of our own sense of responsibility.

Daisaku Ikeda

Friday, 12 April 2013

Finding your purpose.

There comes a time in your life, when if you are lucky enough, you will find your purpose, your calling.

And in that moment it will reach out from every fibre of your being calling to you so loudly that you can no longer ignore it.

Watching PUPPET featuring Dan Hurlins - DISFARMER was and is that moment.

So follow your dreams Becuase you nevet know who you might inspire, to follow in your footsteps.

No dream is too big or too small.

My name is Bobby and I ladies and gentlemen am a puppet maker.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Is bitterness a selfish act?

Art By

Earlier I wrote that bitterness is a selfish act, but I removed it from the post.

What do you think? Do you know someone who lives in a constant state of bitterness? Do you feel like it is a selfish act or do you not? Obviously, when we are in this state, we are suffering, but when we are so inwardly focused, it is impossible for us to see the potential of a future that displays anything other then the emotion we are trapped in.

A hell state.

In a way, our future becomes paralysed by this bitterness. It becomes locked in a block of ice, never really taking shape.

People who I have known in my life, trapped in a strong cycle of bitter regret, seem almost impossible to get through to. Their eyes are covered over with the dark cold hands of bitter and regret.

There are many reasons for this; abuse, alcoholism, neglect, depression, low self esteem, the list is endless. I dont wish to oversimplify something that is indeed a very complex human difficulty.

I removed it from the post previously, as I dont want readers to think that by me asking them to stop being bitter, I am some how invalidating their feelings about a situation or experience in their lives. On the contrary, I think its vital that we let it out, share and open up.

But I think its also very important that we focus on the future, see the possibilities of what we can become, on change and on making things better.

And though, despite all our technology, our wisdom and our civilisation, we are unable to avoid the mistakes made by the ones who came before us.

Are we destined to make the same choices over and over, or will we transform and flourish?

Personal I like to hope for the latter.

Nam myoho renge kyo

Love and Hate

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

- Martin Luther King

The more historicaly correct quote

Why should we ever love our enemies? The first reason is obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

- Martin Luther King

Hatred and biterness are like poison

We can never change the past, we certainly must not forget it, but focusing your energy on hate, regret and bitterness just generates more hate, regret and bitterness.

Being bitter does nothing for you, your life and your future, or anyone else for that matter. If we want a future free from bitterness and hatred, we must learn to let go.

To release our selves from a self imposed prison.

Buddha said "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

In the end, the only people we harm are our selves.

Have you ever been so angry with someone that you felt you could never forgive them? How does it feel to live with that feeling every day?

I know that in the past when I have held on to such angry emotions, it has consumed me like a fire.

Bitterness eats us up like a cancer from the inside. The longer we hold on to them, the more we poison ourselves.

President Daisaku Ikeda says: "The universe, this world and our own lives are the stage for a ceaseless struggle between hatred and compassion, the destructive and constructive aspects of life." Our challenge, moment by moment, is to continue striving to create maximum value and to never be defeated or give up, regardless of the obstacles we may encounter.

The struggles we face might range from the apparently mundane (summoning the energy to take out the trash or write a letter to an aging relative) to the vast (campaigning to ban nuclear weapons), but the essential challenge is the same. It is to overcome our own weakness, fear or inertia in a given moment and take action for the sake of the happiness of ourselves and others.

So where does Buddhism play a role in such daily battles?

Ideally there is no separation between daily life and Buddhism. Buddhism does not exist in the realm of theory, and as Nichiren wrote: "The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being."

Nichiren also stressed that it is victory as a human being--including both tangible achievements and moral or spiritual victories which may be invisible to others--that matters, rather than recognition in the form of promotion or reward in society. In 13th-century Japan, people's lives were utterly dependent on the decisions of their rulers or local lords, so to set one's own internal standards for success required great courage.

He wrote: "Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat, while secular authority is based on the principle of reward and punishment. For this reason, a Buddha is looked up to as the Hero of the World..."

The value of our victory also depends on the scale of the challenge we tackle. For a champion bodybuilder to lift a heavy suitcase scarcely counts as a victory. It is only when we push ourselves beyond our limits that our success becomes meaningful to ourselves and respected by others. Living a "safe" existence in which we merely abide by society's rules is to shirk the bigger challenges involved in living in a way which both maximizes our positive, creative influence and actively tackles those forces which cause suffering and abuse.

Whether we are striving for promotion at work or encouraging a friend battling depression, in order to succeed we need courage, perseverance and the spiritual strength to withstand hardship and moments of hopelessness. Nichiren stresses that if we are fainthearted we will surely fail, and we each know how miserable it feels to be defeated by our own weakness or cowardice.

Nichiren's own life provides an example of supreme courage in the face of opposition and persecution, and the Buddhist practice he established can help us clarify our goals and also provide tools with which to reach them.

For Nichiren Buddhists, the greatest good toward which one can strive is spreading a deeper understanding of the limitless potential for courage, wisdom and compassion which exists in every individual's life--the hidden treasures collectively described as Buddhahood.

Through chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" which activates this potential, we can deepen our resolve to achieve our goals and develop the strength necessary to win over any obstacles, internal and external, which might hinder our progress. And as we see evidence of the efficacy of the combination of this strong prayer, determination and action in concrete positive results in our lives, we dare to take on bigger, broader challenges and also inspire others to tackle their problems with renewed hope of success.

In the words of SGI President Ikeda: "Buddhism concerns itself with winning. When we battle a powerful enemy, either we will triumph or we will be defeated--there is no middle ground. Battling against life's negative functions is an integral part of Buddhism. It is through victory in this struggle that we become Buddhas."

It is through this struggle that we transform and in turn transform our world.



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