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Japanese Master Teaches Shojin Cuisine to One of the Best Chefs in the World – NextShark

Posted: January 14, 2020 at 8:43 pm

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As parts of the world transition to a more plant-based diet, restaurants offering Shojin cuisine have become more accessible, drawing patrons from all walks of life.

But what exactly is Shojin, and how does it work as a dietary choice?

Ren Redzepi, an award-winning Danish chef and co-owner of Copenhagens two-Michelin star restaurant Noma set out for Japan to learn about the cuisine from an authentic Japanese master, Toshio Tanahashi.

Its a style of cooking originating from the 7th century Japan. A vegetarian cuisine meant for Buddhist monks abstaining from taking any life, Redzepi writes in an Instagram post. The cuisine of Zen Buddhism.

Not all Buddhists are vegetarians, but for ancient monks who followed the precept of abstaining from the taking of life, vegetarianism was the way to nourish their physical bodies.

First introduced to Kyoto monasteries from China in the 7th and 8th centuries, the cuisine primarily consisted of vegetables that were boiled or eaten raw with simple seasonings.

Dogen Zenji, the founder of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism, wrote an essay titled Tenzo Kyokun (Instructions for the Cook), which sparked further development in the art.

By the 13th century, it evolved to become Shojin ryori, combining the words shojin (meaning devotion) and ryori (meaning cooking).

Based in Kyoto himself, Tanahashi has decades of experience in Shojin cuisine, hosting events around the world to share its philosophy.

He believes that the age of gluttonous cuisine is over and that Shojin is the best alternative to our meat-heavy, fat-saturated and wasteful diets.

In February 2008, Tanahashi established the Zecoow Culinary Institute, which plans to establish a Shojin dojo a traditional space for learning that would serve as a center for proliferating and advocating the art and spirit of the cuisine.

In my pursuit of Shojin cuisine, regardless of whether from the east or the west, my aim is to continue to discover how the unique Shojin approach can reveal true beauty and health in our clothes, home, environment, healing practices, and agriculture, Tanahashi says.

As its name implies, Shojin ryori is not merely an adherence to a vegetarian diet. In essence, it is the practice of meditating while consuming a plant-based diet.

Plants give tangible and intangible joys of living, helping establish a healthy life, Tanahashi says. This is the basis of the right way to live for mankind. No more and no less. The gratitude in knowing that this is enough will lead to good health.

Like the concept of veganism, Shojin goes further beyond the cuisine, according to Tanahashi.

A plant-centered, calm and modest life will lead to physical and mental health. Crime and conflict will be reduced, he says. I believe that a plant-based life is the richest and most beautiful form of humanity, [when subscribed to] in all clothing, food, and shelter.

Redzepi, meanwhile, is part of MAD, a global cooking community with a social conscience and an appetite for change. He has also co-written a book on fermentation with David Zilber, who also works at Noma.

Redzepi, who has nearly 900,000 followers, concluded his Instagram post by sharing his learnings from Tanahashi. Some include:

Nature and environment is the starting point for us all. By attaining a symbiosis with the land, we can understand that earth and body are inseparable, he adds.

Feature Images via @reneredzepinoma (left, right), Zeecow Culinary Institute (center)

Japanese Master Teaches Shojin Cuisine to One of the Best Chefs in the World - NextShark

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January 14th, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Zen Buddhism

Take Note: Shih-In Ma On Her Spiritual Journey And Social Justice Advocacy – WPSU

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Shih-In Ma is a social justice advocate who works to promote diversity and inclusion in Centre County.

The State College native and Penn State alum, left a corporate career at IBM to begin a journey of spirituality, self-reflection and meditation. Her journey has taken her around the world and included spending four years in India with Amma, who's known as the hugging saint.

Shih-In Ma teaches meditation and shares opportunities for others to gain better insight and understanding of those around them.


Cheraine Stanford Welcome to Take Note on WPSU, I'm Cheraine Stanford. Shih-In Ma is a social justice advocate who works to promote diversity and inclusion in Centre County. The State College native and Penn State alum, left a corporate career at IBM to begin a journey of spirituality, self-reflection and meditation. Her journey has taken her around the world and included spending four years in India with Amma, who's known as the hugging saint. Shih-In Ma teaches meditation and shares opportunities for others to gain better insight and understanding of those around them. Shih-In Ma, thank you for joining us today.Shih-In Ma Thank you for having me.Cheraine Stanford I think one of the things that you're probably best known for is a list or listserv of, you know, diversity activities and organizations and just events that you call the inclusion expansion opportunities. Can you explain a little bit about what that is and why you decided to start that?Shih-In Ma Well, actually, the IE what I call IEOs is a list of everything I can find locally to help people get to know and learn about the lives of to meet people outside their demographics. So coming from the Bay Area in California, honestly, I find this place to be pretty homogenous. And so. And I really love diversity. I've traveled a lot. There's so much to learn. And yet I think that people are at heart the same across cultures, across religions across any any of these kinds of demographics. So I started the list when I first came here, because I wanted to do this for myself. And finally, I guess this is two, two and a half years ago. It's like wow, maybe it'd be helpful for some other people. So now, now I do it pretty much about when I, as my time allows about every three weeks on the other piece of that, so for initially I was trying to leave myself out of it. Now I'm finding since I'm the editor and the curator of it, I guess sometimes I put things in so that people because most people who are really busy, so things that they can read things of links, because I find that at least what I learned in school in terms of history, what have lots of things were missing. And there's more and more coming out. And so as, as people, we, there's a process, it's psychological is also spiritual of projection. So I actually don't know what's going on with you, right? I just look and say, if she looked like that, if she had that facial expression, if she had that tone of voice, or he or whatever, that would mean this, right? So then we put our projections out, and we think that they're real. And so this is the beginning of, to me, biases of prejudice, of stereotypes and this sort of thing. So when and studies have shown that we tend to be really siloed in terms of who we run around with on demographics and in a place as homogenous as a State College, or even, you know, Bellefonte, where I live is even more homogenous, right? That then we actually don't get out of our, we don't get out of our silos and we can continue to have these misconceptions about each other. And it could be positive or negative.Cheraine Stanford So you're hoping that this list would help people go to spaces and places to do more of that learning about different kinds of peopleShih-In Ma And meeting people coming to see lives that aren't their own. Even if they don't go for instance, there was a thing in Carlisle that there actually was an Indian School in Carlisle, where they were pulling what they called an Indian school where they were basically pulling Native Americans out of their homes, depriving them of the right to their language, cutting, their hairs, changing trying to change the culture, right? I read that and it's like, oh, you know, this is going on. So I put it in the list. I don't necessarily expect anybody to go but I'm hoping and this is what I've heard back from some people who tell me even just reading the list, they get little light bulbs of "Oh, yeah. What's going on? Oh, yeah, this is possible." So I mean, honestly, at this point with this list, maybe on a good day, good week, I go to one or two events in addition to my regular commitments, right. So I don't go to all of them, but even just knowing to get us to think outside of our usual life experience. That's part of my, my goal for that.Cheraine Stanford And you mentioned going to the Bay Area, you were in the Bay Area, but you grew up in this area. You grew up in State College. Can you talk about what it was like to grow up in State College? It would have been the end of the 50s, early 60s here. What was that like for you growing up as a child?Shih-In Ma Oh, it was so white, honestly. So for those of you who don't know, I'm Chinese American, in terms of ethnicity. So I had 600 people in my college class and when I started to get involved here, when I came back from India, I started to look at I went through the yearbook, starting to count becauseCheraine Stanford You said 600 people in your--Shih-In Ma No, no, sorry, high school, in my highschool class. So out of that I could count approximately 10 of us of people of color. Right. So, as much as it's, well, Centre County, I believe I read was 88%. White, right? As much as that's 88% white now, it was a lot whiter then. So, there was racism, there was name calling, there was bullying. And it yeah, it's, you know, I, I'm here, I've done a lot of inner work to heal from the trauma that and some issues with my family of origin. So I know how much it hurts. And that's part of the other reason I'm involved in, in some of this. I also know which is that we're, as human beings I believe that we're capable of enormous good and also of causing enormous pain for other people. It's, it's worth the oppressor and the oppressed. We both hold what at least I find for myself the capability of both within within ourselves within myself. So part of this is to actually do my own inner work on my biases biases on my, I try and get people to take implicit bias tests at Project Implicit, they're free, they're all across all different kinds of demographics, getting we can't change something that we're not aware of. And none of us likes to be on the receiving end of bullying, of disparagement of discrimination. And so I think the flip side is that we have a moral duty to look inside ourselves and find out where we might be perpetrating these same kind of behaviors on other people.Unknown Speaker What do you think are some of the biggest issues that are facing us in Central Pennsylvania? That's our local community? What are some of the issues that you're seeing?Shih-In Ma I think that people are really busy. I think that culturally, I'm actually I'm reading a book right now by brother Wayne Teasdale called "The Mystic Heart" and he, he says that our culture is so focused on consumerism, this is not just Central Pennsylvania consumerism and entertainment. So, I, you know, I don't have a TV, I haven't had a TV for probably 20 years, right? That we get, we're looking for distractions, right, we're looking for so whether or not it's shopping or it's drugs or it's work, or what we're looking for distractions, we're not actually coming being present to ourselves. And so as a result of all these distractions, we're also not being present to what's going on in the community. Also, because of the siloing, I just talked about, about people, you know, there was a study by what PRRI I think that said that and this is a US study not Central Pennsylvania but 75% of white people had no people color as friends, right, 90% only had one, one or less people of color as friends. So, we have so much and religiously, you know, most Christians stick together, Muslims stick together and we I mean, it's just, we're just continuing this kind of compartmentalization. So, to me that's one of the things that makes me the saddest here. And then, when we're so distracted then we're actually not finding the common goodness in our heart so that it's a child of God, the Buddha nature, the whatever you want to call it, the essence of of the truth of who we are, which is totally independent. It was totally connected, which is sharing the same divinity because we're watching television. So, I think that that distraction is, is a problem. I think that not having conversations that we need to have. And you know, I'm as much, I don't want to say, to blame, but I find it's hard to have conversations about hard topics. But I think we need to have, we need to have those. And yet, we also need to be able to be open to opinions and worldviews that aren't our own. Because otherwise, we're just preaching to the choir.Cheraine Stanford After growing up here, you went to Penn State.Shih-In Ma I went and got a Bachelor's in math. And then I went to the Peace Corps for two years in Ghana, west Africa, which changed my life actually one of the major life changing experiences, I came back here and got a degree in engineering and then I went off to Arizona to work for IBM.Cheraine Stanford So let's step back. Why was the Peace Corps experience so life changing?Shih-In Ma Because, you know, I grew up middle class, right. And so I actually went to the Peace Corps believing that there was three essential externals to happiness, three essential to happiness, a roof over my head running water and electricity. And then I got stationed out in a village at the end of the road, for which there was electricity from the village just in the evenings. So one thing that I discovered was that externals won't make happiness, happiness doesn't really come. I mean, there's some minimal I think things that make things easier, whatever, but really, happiness is independent of external circumstances. Another piece that I found out about, and it still actually informs, hopefully, how I treat other people and how I live is these people had, for the most part, so little materially, and they were so generous and so kind. I mean, I'd stand in line in the hot sun, for waiting for a bus and people who didn't know me, and would never see me again, would actually push me forward in the line. So basically, usually by the time the next bus came, I was there in the front seat, and they were still standing in line. Over those two years, there was a whole other way to live. There's a whole other way to treat strangers to treat people who don't look like you to treat this than frankly, what I think a lot of us do in this culture.Cheraine Stanford So you went to Penn State, got your undergraduate degree in math, went to the Peace Corps, got your masters in engineering, and then moved to the west coast to take a job at IBM,Shih-In Ma Actually Tucson, Arizona,Cheraine Stanford Tucson, Arizona.Shih-In Ma And from there, then I moved, I transferred with IBM to the Bay Area in California.Cheraine Stanford So why did what were you doing for IBM and did you enjoy it?Shih-In Ma Yeah, I actually I did a lot of things I went in as an engineer. I ended up in finance. I had a couple stints in management. I was the you know the assistant to a functional director, I did business system reorganization, a lot of different things and what I finally came to realize about that was for myself that I could do a lot of things but really why I went to work was for the people. And also I found out I didn't like management. So I'd say yeah, I enjoyed it, but in the meantime, there was always this kind of I don't know. I finally started looking looking inward and I realized, so following on from Peace Corps and externals, I had all the externals but yet there was something that was not really happy that was kind of depressed. And so that's why I ended up on this spiritual path or going on this inward path. So it's included some 12 steps and therapy. And then, you know, actually, we treat some things in the Christian the Buddhist, The Hindu, even the Sufi tradition, so I don't actually differentiate much across traditions. But this and then, in 1993, my therapist actually told me to read a book called "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying". I read that book and it's like, well, either the Tibetans are all 100% crazy, all of them, or everything I believed about life was subject to change. And so I thought, well, probably it's not the first thing so I became open to a lot of possibilities that I'd been conditioned against, or educated against. And so I went on retreat, and had actually a massive spiritual insight if you want to say an enlightenment experience. It closed it went on for the whole morning after lunch, and then it started to close but after that, I kind of lost my motivation to for the corporate world. I knew there was something more and I wanted it again. So a lot of the rest of my life has been focused on coming to live more with what is gnown and I don't mean known with the k-n-o-w like head knowing but g-n-o-w like gnosis with this with, with what, with what's known.Cheraine Stanford And so you left that corporate job after more than a decade of being there. What gave you the courage to do that?Shih-In Ma It just wasn't, it wasn't fulfilling. I had a little bit of money saved up. So, you know, I thought I could hack it for a while. And actually, one of the things that really helped me was, I had a mentor there. My boss, he became a friend. And at one point, he finally looked at me, he said, You know, I was talking to him about quitting or not, and he finally looked at me, he said, he said, "It's time for you to go," he said, "You've outgrown this place." So that kind of affirmation from him really helped me to decide to go.Cheraine Stanford If you're just joining us, this is Take Note on WPSU I'm Cheraine Stanford. Our guest is Shih-In Ma, a social justice advocate working to create an inclusive community in Centre County.Cheraine Stanford One of the things that I know you did was to spend four years with Amma, who's known as the hugging saint. For our audience who might not know, she does what her name suggests. She travels around the world and in other places and people wait in line for hours to hug her. She's hugged millions of people. How did you end up there? And what was it about her that drew you to her?Shih-In Ma Well, basically, the short of it is I well, I ended up with some back pain due to a car accident and physical therapy. None of this biofeedback didn't fix it. And somebody told me try yoga. So I started to try yoga. Then I started to feel energy running in my body. And about that time, I'd actually read about Amma two or three years earlier in a book by Linda Johnsen called "Daughters of the Goddess" about 10 women saints in India, and I was really drawn to her in particular but, you know, I was still in my box, say, prejudice box about, you know, thinking of Hinduism and Hare Krishnas at the airport when I was growing up. So I had to overcome that bias that prejudice. So finally, I read about her in yoga journal and said she was coming an hour and a half from where I live. So I took the day off work, and I went up to see her. And there was some sense of, well, recognition, you know, with this hug and just these tears, and it's like, oh, this is what's possible in a human body. I want that and that was, that's the beginning. That was the beginning. So I'd been every time she'd come to California, I would see her even though I was practicing Zen Buddhism, and really involved with most of my time at a Zen monastery, but when Amma would come to town, I would leave, I can go, go spend time. You know, we have physical bodies. We also have energy bodies, sometimes they're called auras. So my experience of being around Amma is that the shakti, the energy. It's like getting my aura clean. There's some purification, some healing that's going on about getting my aura cleaned, getting things, heaviness and things taken out. But, but I just, yeah, this is, you know, honestly, I think if Christ were reincarnated he would be Amma.Cheraine Stanford So I think if people looked at maybe your life journey, the path they would call it unconventional, maybe non-traditional, but when you when you look back to the things that you're doing now, these spiritual experiences you've had, is there a through-line that you see, is there a path that you can see when you look back over your life?Shih-In Ma Well, I think it comes down to spiritual issues. [Inaudible] would say "Your Buddha nature is always calling for you." Right? I think there's something in the Christian tradition about God is always calling us home. There's a question about why were we born why, we're not this body, that consciousness comes into the body and when we pass away, it leaves the body. So the question about why were we born? Why did we take this incarnation? I think that's a question that we need to answer. So whether we answer it while we're still young or whatever, by the time you hit your deathbed, I think most people are going to be my father, for instance, you know, when he was on his deathbed, we're going to face that question sooner or later. When we stop our distractions there is there is this calling and this call is always calling us home.Cheraine Stanford And your call home literal home. You did come back to State College. How did you end up coming moving back to State College?Shih-In Ma Because my mother still lived here. And so I was four years in India and every time I'd come back, she was in her early 90s and I'd come back and you know, there's just a little bit of kind of going downhill. And then the next last time I came back, it was like the slope had steepened. And it just got really clear to me that my brother has a full time job in New Hampshire and so it got really clear that I needed to come back and take care of her as as, as a daughter, and also as part of my spiritual practice. It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever done.Cheraine Stanford What was hard about it?Shih-In Ma Because there was trauma in my life growing up. So whatever wasn't healed around that, actually, some stuff came up, you know, when I was living with her. And because I had found what I thought was like a home there, I was working at the temple, helping the priests with the poojas and things and teaching people how to make the offerings and all I really had found, had found something and also with the people who really prioritized their spiritual life, both with say the Zen monastery that I was at and also with this, whereas here, I find I get kind of dispersed and I can get distracted, I go shopping on Amazon or whatever because people don't prioritize that here. But basically coming back to the town and not knowing anybody and starting over, with actually no clothes and whatever and starting over again.Cheraine Stanford So when you moved here you were living in a monastery?Shih-In Ma Yeah, well, I was came from Amma's ashram, monastery in India. So, I did the four years there, and then I came back, came back here.Cheraine Stanford And that healing that you have talked about the spiritual, you know, inner work that you've talked about. Do you feel like your life has been better doing that work?Shih-In Ma Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, at one point in my life, I, my vision of life was that, I mean, I was really depressed that you even though I was doing fine at IBM, right, so that you drive, you're going down a tunnel and when you die, basically you're a train going down a dark tunnel when you die, you hit the end of the tunnel, right? And now you It's like totally I mean, life is a mystery. It's a joy. There's so many blessings. So, I feel really blessed about it. But people wouldn't know that actually from talking to me or looking at me that this is where I've come from. But it's, it's possible. It's possible.Cheraine Stanford How did you come to teach meditation to women who are incarcerated?Shih-In Ma I actually practice with the local Zen group and they were wanting actually one year they were wanting calendars. So I started to collect calendars and collected like 1300 calendars because there's 1400 ladies. So the next year, they asked the Zen teacher that's associated with the group, I mean, if she would teach Zen, and she said, well, she would teach Zen if I would co-teach with her. Right? And then we could trade off or whatever. Well, she got really busy and she only went in once. And so I've been teaching this is at Muncy women's prison. I've been teaching there for three years now. So I don't You know, I was really surprised that she said that and I don't really feel qualified in some way. But, but I know a lot about ending suffering. There's the, in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions there's that pain, old age, sickness and death are inevitable. Suffering is optional. So the high-level view is suffering is caused by attachment and greed, by hatred, and aversion, or by delusion and ignorance. So basically, the power in that is that we have a way to influence or to change, practice our responses to things so were not always in reaction to things and especially to things we can't change.Cheraine Stanford And how does meditation, what role has that played in your life and how, what impact have you seen it have on the women you work with? If, if there has been anything.Shih-In Ma Meditation I think has helped me slow down it's helped me to come inward, to come inward and to be more centered. I don't worry as much. I mean, I used to worry a lot. But now it's like the thoughts come up and it's like, oh, it's worry, because actually, it's really hard to have a thought that's in the present. We either are in the past or the future, or there's a saying, which that with one foot in the past, and the other foot in the future, right, we're peeing on the present, right? It's true.Cheraine Stanford I've never heard saying.Shih-In Ma So, so I think it's really, it's really helped me that way. So I actually, as I said, I'm not I don't consider myself depressed anymore. And I have a lot more trust and I think calm, hopefully, you'll have to tell me, somebody else will have to tell me more kindness and more compassion than I did. For the ladies particularly the ladies at Muncy they say it's helping them, they don't always practice the whole lot, but it's helping them also. I'm just, for the most part I take in Rumi I take in Byron Katie, which is one of the best ways of working with, she's a nondenominational teacher, "Loving What Is", one of the best ways of unknotting thoughts I've ever found. So I take in whatever I think helps them and mostly just to my aspiration, to see them and help them see themselves in their true nature. Because I think that's one of the steps what we can find is what the Christians call I guess, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. So you know, kindness, compassion, patience, this sort of thing, we don't have to become a better person, this is who we are. When when, when things, ego, whatever gets thinner, then we are we are that we are love. We are this loving awareness. We are, we are that so, you know, I spent a lot of my life trying to be a better person. But basically, that's like beating yourself up trying to be a better person, which is just another form of violence.Cheraine Stanford Tell me about singing in Essence 2 which is a local choir that performs music from the African and African American tradition. Have you always enjoyed singing?Shih-In Ma Yeah, I've always enjoyed singing but this is the most I've ever, ever, ever enjoyed singing. So somebody told me about this choir, four years ago, or something and I've joined I basically set my whole schedule around this around this choir. I love the music. It's devotional, but mostly, it's this energy again. So that, Shakti, Holy Spirit, whatever. I mean, I go to rehearsals, and a lot of times I go tired, maybe I'm kind of whatever and I leave flying, that the energy is coming through in the music,Cheraine Stanford The work that you are doing now, to try to bring some inclusivity to the area. How do you think people can better connect with each other?Shih-In Ma By trying to put ourselves in each other's shoes. So when I go into, say, a fast food restaurant, and then I look and I, you know, I try and imagine what is it like to live on $7.25 an hour, sometimes, like, when things happen to people of different demographics, or whatever, then I try and change the picture kind of like, you know, the the woman that Brock Turner raped, has got, now got her book out, right. And one of her questions was, well, would he have he got a six months sentence, right, that actually only spent three months in jail for being caught. I mean, a lot of people rape and they don't get caught. And her question, one of her questions was, well, if he had been a person of color from, you know, lower income underprivileged status to whatever would this have happened? You know, and honestly, I think no. So, even looking at something like that, and then knowing what the statistics are some amount of knowledge and this sort of thing and then trying to imagine what would it have been like if the demographics were different? I think that's that's one way to help. I think there's another way I came to a point maybe a year and a half ago or whatever where I was, and I'm still working on it, to be honest, where it's kind of like I was really struggling with people who had different views than I did. So I've got a bumper sticker on my car from American Friends Service Committee that says, "Love thy neighbor, no exceptions." And that is my that is my aspiration.Cheraine Stanford So, you're involved with groups like Community and Campus in Unity, Community Diversity Group and the Interfaith Initiative. What do you hope the impact or the work that you're doing and others are doing in this space, what do you hope the impact will be on this area?Shih-In Ma I hope that we will help create, I think the world that we all long for, you know, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama has said, everybody just wants to be happy, we all want to be safe, to have peace, right to to not struggle for our basic existence. So this we all share. And I think, but individually we need to come together. We need to come together but we need to take action as individuals to both inward inward actions internal process and also outward in the world in order to to help create this paradise.Cheraine Stanford Shih-In Ma, thank you so much for being with us today.Shih-In Ma Oh, thank you, Cheraine for having me.Cheraine Stanford Shih-In Ma is a social justice advocate who works to promote diversity and inclusion in Centre County. Shih-In Ma teaches meditation and shares opportunities for others to gain better insight and understanding of those around them. Hear more Take Note interviews on our website at I'm Cheraine Stanford, WPSU.Transcribed by

Take Note: Shih-In Ma On Her Spiritual Journey And Social Justice Advocacy - WPSU

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January 14th, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Zen Buddhism

Mindfulness and wellbeing: the relentless, creepy rise of the enforced happiness industry – MoneyWeek

Posted: January 9, 2020 at 7:49 pm

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Not the best way to deal with a stressful commute

The evidence suggests weve never been richer or healthier, yet we are always being told how stressed and discontented we are. Jonathan Compton assesses the industry making money from our misery.

Over a bottle or two in a Hong Kong bar many years ago my neurosurgeon friend was unusually excited by a freak opportunity to study the effects of the mind on the body. In the same week he had operated on three adult men of similar health, size and age with near-identical injuries. Each had suffered the loss of three fingers to a chopper attack, a form of punishment often used by triads. Meticulously he had reattached each mans fingers.

A few months later he reported that one had recovered 95% of the use of his hand, the second about 50% and the third hardly any at all, reflecting in his view the impact of their mental approach to their injuries and subsequent efforts to recover. This was the first time I realised that mental attitude could affect physical health.

The subsequent decades have seen huge improvements in surgical techniques and in almost every measurable facet of human existence. Globally, life expectancy today is 73 years higher than any single country in 1950. There has been a surplus of food since 1978, local famines being a function of poor distribution or worse politics.

In developed countries you were at least ten times more likely to be murdered, assaulted, robbed or injured at work 100 years ago; women were nearly 50 times more likely to die in childbirth. Very few people had any chance of higher education, inside sanitation, or owning any form of transport. In short, we are astonishingly well off to an extent unimaginable to previous generations.

Nevertheless, we are told that we are suffering more mental health disorders than ever before. This is best demonstrated by the astounding growth in two overlapping industries: mindfulness and wellbeing. The definitions of each are slightly fluffy, but the NHS defines mindfulness as paying more attention to the present moment to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you to improve your mental wellbeing. Confusingly, wellbeing has been defined by the World Health Organisation as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Mindfulness has its roots in two areas: a monastic and lifelong Buddhist practice aimed at renunciation and detachment, and a long-standing American obsession with spirituality and oriental mysticism. A 19th-century example is Mary Baker Eddy and the Church of Christ Scientist, whose widest-known belief is that disease is a mental aberration best cured through prayer. The Buddhist ethics, duties, discipline and theological roots have been swept away for the 21st century.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a leading and early proponent of mindfulness and inventor of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR). One of his more interesting quotes is that mindfulness is not just about helping with stress, but may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years. A fundamental tenet of mindfulness is that the causes of stress, upset and dissatisfaction are in our own minds so they are ours to fix. Wellness, meanwhile, has its roots in the 19th-century alternative-medicine movement including (again) Christian Science and German and Swiss Lebensreform (back to nature). It has eight dimensions (social, financial, spiritual, etc.) and the term was created, bizarrely, by the US Office of Vital Statistics in 1954.

It continues to morph into new iterations, but is essentially a holistic approach whereby ones mental, physical and emotional health are in sync. Proponents of wellness and mindfulness are quick to point out that they are vital in a rapidly changing world where the stresses of work, money and living continue to worsen and that each offers not only a solution, but also a guarantee of happiness.

Unless youre a hermit you will know of people with serious mental health problems. These are as real as flu or a broken bone. Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) often produce remarkable results, with 50%-75% success rates in cases of depression. And despite serious disputes over the claimed cure rates in other illnesses, results from Alcoholics Anonymous show that after CBT, even under the worst-case scenario, around 10% of problem drinkers are cured for life, about half cut their intake substantially, and more regain some control. In other examples, a combination of drugs and therapy have measurable effects on bipolar or eating disorders.

However, distinct from mental health issues, there is a growing obsession with the pursuit of happiness. I blame Thomas Jefferson, who lifted the term from the English philosopher John Locke and snuck it into the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. He meant it to mean aiming for liberty, prosperity and thriving, not polishing your own karma. Yet this cannot explain why mindfulness and wellbeing have become mainstream so fast.

For not only have we materially never had it so good, but on other measures we also seem to be doing fine. Every year the UN produces a World Happiness Report, assessing national and regional happiness. It shows that in most countries most people are pretty happy most of the time and in most cases have never been happier.

The countries in fine fettle are developed nations where wealth is widely distributed, corruption low and legal systems robust; they also boast strong health systems. The top ten include the five Nordic countries, Holland, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Austria. I do not believe it is coincidental that, apart from the Dutch, all ten are relatively underpopulated, have huge open spaces with mountains, lakes or both, clean air and a strong sense of social cohesion. Similarly the miserable countries are, as you might expect, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Yet these contented and civilised nations are suffering an outbreak of mindfulness and wellbeing. This is known as the Easterlin Paradox: as countries get richer they tend not to get much happier. Yet the happiest people on the planet, according to Pew Research, are the actively religious, who are far more likely to describe themselves in every country as very happy compared with those who are inactive or have no religious affiliation. This applies across all religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Confucianism and even the wackier ones. They are also far more likely to join non-religious societies and clubs, to vote and participate in society generally. One inference is that wellbeing and mindfulness are simply filling a hole previously occupied by various faiths. Religion any religion seems to provide a sense of purpose, engagement with others and group support.

Yet the prime cause for the supposed increase in unhappiness may be the rise of robust individualism. It is hard to recall how much we were collectivised; not just in the obvious sense of the now defunct USSR, but also in more liberal countries, be it through trade unions, political clubs, family groups or even by class. Many of these boundaries have weakened or disappeared. The individual is more free, but far less anchored to any group or set of ideas. Into this void has stepped the big business of mindfulness and wellbeing.

A commonly cited number is that the health and wellness industry is now worth $4.2trn. This looks a wild guess. Yet a Google search for meditation companies produces 51.7 million results; on Amazon books, over 60,000 titles contain mindfulness and 40,000 wellbeing (including 1,000 on wellbeing for dogs and 643 for wellbeing colouring books).These happiness twins have gone mainstream. New Zealands government has prioritised national wellbeing over GDP. Bhutan and Abu Dhabi, not previously known for their liberal attitudes, have appointed happiness ministers, while the UN and OECD are gearing up to make happiness a priority.

As always, however, private enterprise has moved faster. All the giant tech companies even in China have happiness departments and directors, as do many corporate giants such as GlaxoSmithKline and BP. Japan is building a huge wellness tourism industry. Lower down the food chain thousands of firms are introducing mindfulness and wellbeing courses with leaders and coaches for their staff. This outburst of caring politics and huggy companies is creepy; I smell a large rat.

There is everything right about many workplace changes over the last two decades, such as hugely improved childcare packages and progress in tackling discrimination. It can only be good too that companies and governments want to reduce workplace stress. But there is something suspect about mindfulness experts being welcomed at the most capitalist of meetings such as Davos. The solution, as always, is to follow the money. L. Ron Hubbard made one sensible remark in a sea of largely insane and inane ones: If you want to get rich, found a religion. He duly created and made a fortune through Scientology, one of the most controlling cults on earth. This outbreak of official niceness seems as much designed to save money as to improve peoples lives. Mindfulness is very introverted: its your fault if things are bad and up to you to cure it. For a few dollars a month you can buy an online MSBR course and become a better employee. Or your firm might buy you one of the many apps where the handful of iterations claim to fit all comers, even though some reports suggest they can often worsen your condition. The hard evidence on effectiveness is scarce or unsupportive.

For example, in 2019 the American Medical Association published a report on an experiment sponsored by the Harvard Medical School. It was unusually large, covering 26,000 workers over 21 sites for 18 months. Yet although the participants self-reported significant improvements in their health behaviour, there was no discernible outcome using clinical measures, nor better productivity than in a control group. Nor has any other large-scale research found any significant changes. Perhaps thats no surprise. The world of wellbeing contains thousands of consultants and therapists groups no qualifications required.

Still, the trend is set to grow. For companies where the boss is useless, the product poor or the working environment dreary, mindfulness and wellbeing offer a get-out-of-jail card its your fault and your negativity. For governments too, the fact that you arrive at work stressed from a commute on woeful public transport is no longer their fault; heal yourself.

Youre not underpaid you hold the solution. Costs can be lowered too; the NHS is looking to move many patients from proven CBT treatments (cost 900 per course) to more relevant therapies at 300. What I find creepiest of all is that mindfulness and wellbeing encourage the acceptance of the status quo without question. Non-compliance with mindfulness meetings in the US is increasingly a black mark on your record. It will be the same here soon.

I have no doubt that in ten years time we will look back on many current therapies or proven psychological cures with derision. The advances in studying the human genome have been enormous, but constitute just a fraction of what is still to be revealed be it heredity traits or propensity to certain types of behaviour and mental illnesses making treatment less guesswork and more science-based.

At present were in a strange limbo between new cults, proven therapies and useful medication. While scientists continue their work, the mindfulness and wellbeing businesses will continue to make exaggerated claims for their apps and courses. Many therapies do proven good and even if they dont, if it works for you, then why not? The best approach for long-term investors, however, is to steer clear of quackery or faddish therapies and look into firms that are genuinely working on improving our physical and mental health.

The world of wellbeing contains several companies over-promoting themselves as wholesome, flying too close to the sun, then crashing. Beyond Meat (meat-free burgers) has collapsed from $240 to $74 in six months; WeWork nearly pulled off a $60bn listing before investors woke up to its fantastical claims.

There are many firms doing pioneering and fascinating work into mental health and genome therapies, but most are either private, small parts of large corporations, or likely to become strapped for cash because such research and development eats money.

One closed-ended investment trust stands out, however: Syncona Limited (LSE: SYNC), with a 1.3bn market cap. It concentrates on investing in and building up life-science companies. It is 28% owned by the respected Wellcome Trust. Performance last year was disappointing, but five-year numbers are good. Volatility is largely a function of when investments are realised or flop. I dont like buying at a 14% premium to underlying net assets, but the valuation of its unlisted holdings tends to be conservative.

For a wider healthcare fund the Healthcare Opportunities Fund managed by Polar Capital fits the bill; it covers the industry well, ranging from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology.

The one-year numbers are also poor, but those for three, five and ten years are good. With a fund size of 1.1bn it can maintain flexibility better than the near equally well-performing but much larger Janus Henderson Healthcare fund.

The standout player in gene sequencing and analysis is US-listed Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN), which was recently forced to call off a proposed merger with the smaller Pacific Biosciences because competition watchdogs in both the UK and US feared the merged company would dominate the industry.

But the reality is that it does so already, with an 80% share of the gene-sequencing market globally. It is hardly cheap, but it is at the forefront of new medical technologies while net income has doubled to over $800m over the last five years.

Another interesting American company developing therapies for serious neurological and auto-immune diseases is Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB). Recently the share price has been strong thanks to its promising prospective Alzheimers drug Aducanumab. Approval is by no means a done deal, but it is on a modest 11 times earnings (partially because of imminent patent expiries), while revenue growth has been strong.

A similar company, but much smaller, is Denmarks H Lundbeck A/S (Copenhagen: LUN), a relative minnow with a 6bn market cap. It is very active in crucial areas such as Alzheimers, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia and several others. Free cash flow is very variable, but at 16 times earnings and a 4.7% yield the risks are in the price.

My last pick, which I have tipped before, is the UKs largest pharma group GlaxoSmithKline(LSE: GSK), with its broad portfolio of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.A 90bn giant, it needs blockbusting new drugs to have a major impact on the share price, but investors can enjoy a 4.5% dividend yield while they wait.

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January 9th, 2020 at 7:49 pm

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These Alan Watts Quotes Will Light A Fire Inside Of Your Soul –

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Memorable Alan Watts Quotes

These famous quotes by Alan Watts will inspire you to explore your consciousness. During his lifetime, he helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the Western world. He still shows us how to live in the present moment through his teachings.

Alan Watts has written many popular books that spread his beliefs. In fact, we owe many ideas associated with modern yoga and and meditation to his influence. Many of his philosophies explore the mysteries of life and the universe, something we often find ourselves questioning.

If you're ready to open your mind to new possibilities, these enlightening quotes by Alan Watts will do the trick. Forget everything you thought you knew about your own existence, this wave of spiritual growth is exactly what you needed.

"Society is our extended mind and body."

"Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way."

"Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them."

"Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know."

"Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences."

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."

"This is the real secret of life to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play."

"A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily."

"I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is."

"No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now."

"But I'll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything."

"Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth."

"No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle."

"Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command."

"You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean."

"You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself."

"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

"But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."

"One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt."

"You don't look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you."

"We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society."

"Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun."

"What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we dont like it."

"Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself."

"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone."

"When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us."

"The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion."

"Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe."

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January 9th, 2020 at 7:49 pm

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Star Wars May Have Just Introduced The Real FIRST Jedi – Screen Rant

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The Jedi: Fallen Order Star Wars game seems to secretly reveal the identity of the Prime Jedi - and the tragic truth that history repeated itself.

Star Wars may have finally revealed the truth behind the real First Jedi. The ancient history of the Jedi is a mystery lost in the mists of time. It's even been hinted that the Jedi themselves have forgotten it, and with that knowledge they have lost their original understanding of the ways of the Force.

Lucasfilm appears increasingly interested in exploring the ancient history of the Jedi Order, though, at least by implicit reference. As such, several recentStar Wars tie-ins have begun to shine a light on just what the early Jedi believed about the Force, and it's fascinating to see how different their teachings were to the Prequel Era Jedi. Cavan Scott's audiobookDooku: Jedi Lost, for example, hinted obliquely that the original Jedi believed the idea of "balance" to be another aspect of the Force, like light and dark. Supporting this, Claudia Gray'sMaster & Apprentice revealed that the Chosen One prophecy was of an agent of balance, not one dedicated to light or dark.

Related:Star Wars: The Chosen One Should Never Have Been A Jedi

But the most fascinating hint was inStar Wars: The Last Jedi, which revealed that Luke Skywalker had hidden himself away on the remote planet of Ahch-To, site of the first Jedi Temple.And there, Lucasfilm unveiled a mural of the Prime Jedi.

It's easy to miss in the film itself, but one pool in the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To contains a mural that represents the Prime Jedi. According toStar Wars: The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary, this was the first member of the Jedi Order, who founded the Jedi and constructed the temple. It presents the Prime Jedi as a member of an unknown alien race, wielding a proto-lightsaber. What's particularly interesting, however, is that this mural represents a very different philosophy of the Force to the one propounded by the Prequel Era Jedi. The Prime Jedi is envisioned as a servant of balance, rather than exclusively a servant of the light side of the Force. Light and dark are given equal prominence, with the Prime Jedi representing the darkness in the light, and the light in the darkness.

Concept artist Seth Engstrom explained that his designs were influenced by the Taoist symbolism of the yin and yang. He intended this to honor George Lucas himself, who had drawn upon Zen Buddhism when he was fleshing out the Jedi Order inThe Empire Strikes Back, and it went through several different versions before Lucasfilm settled on a final one. Earlier iterations had been even more clear that the Prime Jedi sat at the center of the Force, with light to its right and dark to its left.

Right now, the Prime Jedi is a subject of mystery. Luke Skywalker found books of ancient Jedi teaching at the Temple of Ahch-To, but at the time he was cutting himself off from the Force, and so he never read them. Fortunately, Rey took these books before leaving Ahch-To, meaning she has access to teachings that predate even Grand Master Yoda. As she turns those pages, it's most likely that she's learning from the very founder of the Jedi Order.

Related:Is The Mandalorian Disneys Biggest Betrayal Of Lucas Star Wars Vision?

TheJedi: Fallen Order game has introduced an alien race known as the Zeffo, who appear to have been entirely Force-sensitive. This is perfectly in accordance with George Lucas' notes from all the way back in 1977, when he imagined that certain species could naturally be strong in the Force. "It is said that certain creatures are born with a higher awareness of the Force than humans," he observed. "Their brains are different; they have more midichloriansin their cells."

Players take the role of Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66 and is considering rebuilding the Jedi Order. His quest takes him in the footsteps of a previous Jedi Master, who was investigating the history of the Zeffo, and as a result he finds tombs dedicated to three different Sages: Eilram, Miktrull, and Kujet. Although it's not explicitly stated, each appears to represent a different aspect of the Force according to Zeffo teachings: Eilram stood for light, Kujet stood for darkness, and it seems likely Miktrull stood for balance.

Finally, in a vision imbued by something akin to an ancient Holocron, Cal hears an account of the end of the Zeffo race from one of their Sages.

"Despite our wisdom and technological achievement, we face extinction. Dogma blinded us to the path of balance and gradually we allowed our pride to corrupt us. The greater control we sought, the further we fell into ruin. I lead the remnants of my people into the great unknown, hoping that we will finally find peace."

Related:Jedi: Fallen Order Character & Cast Guide

The physical similarities between the Zeffo and the Prime Jedi are quite striking, right down to their body structure and posture. There is only one visual difference; the triangular shape at the top of the Zeffo Sages' head. But it's important to note that the only glimpses of the Zeffo are images of the three Sages, meaning it's entirely possible these distinctive cranial shapes aren't representative of all members of the race. There could well be a class difference, or even simply one of sex: it could be that the three Sages are all male, and possessed of these unusual head-shapes, whereas the Prime Jedi was female.All this raises the distinct possibility that the Prime Jedi was a Zeffo survivor; certainly that would explain the philosophical similarities between the Zeffo and the early Jedi Order, which are every bit as striking as the physical ones.

If the Prime Jedi was indeed a Zeffo, then tragically it means that history has gone full circle.Jedi: Fallen Order goes to great lengths to stress the similarities between the Zeffo extinction and the fall of the Jedi themselves. The Jedi made the exact same mistake as the Zeffo, neglecting balance, and forming a schismbetween light and dark, Jedi and Sith. In the end, this dichotomy consumed the entire galaxy in war. Fortunately, inStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Rey has had the opportunity to learn from the books left behind by the Prime Jedi and their disciples, and as a result, it's possibleRey will be the one who breaks the cycle - and becomes the new Prime Jedi.

More:Star Wars Confirms Starkiller Base Was Jedi Lightsaber Planet

Key Release Dates

Star Wars Theory: Obi-Wan Kenobi Saved The Mandalorian

Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant's staff writers, and he's frankly amused that his childhood is back - and this time it's cool. Tom's focus tends to be on the various superhero franchises, as well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek; he's also an avid comic book reader. Over the years, Tom has built a strong relationship with aspects of the various fan communities, and is a Moderator on some of Facebook's largest MCU and X-Men groups. Previously, he's written entertainment news and articles for Movie Pilot. A graduate of Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom, Tom is still strongly connected with his alma mater; in fact, in his spare time he's a voluntary chaplain there. He's heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will quickly learn that he's interested in British politics as well.

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December 12th, 2019 at 12:48 pm

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Recalling the Shunryu Suzuki and Zen in America – Patheos

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The Zen priest Shunryu Suzuki died on this day, 48 years ago, the 4th of December, in 1971.

I write about him from time to time. Here I repeat some of that, with some editing and a small addition or two

To begin at the beginning there are actually two Suzukis who stand large at the dawn of Zen breaking forth into our larger North American culture.

The first is Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, best known as D. T. Suzuki, a scholar, translator, and essayist, whose writings both directly and through the popularizations by his sometime disciple Alan Watts, first introduced many of the basic principles of Zen Buddhism to the American public.

The other is Shunryu Suzuki,Soto Zen priest and missionary teacher who introduced Zen practices and established the first major Zen center in the West.

Shunryu Suzuki was born on the 18th of May, 1904, in a villageabout fifty miles from Tokyo. His father was the abbot of Shoganji, the local Soto Zen temple. His mother was the daughter of a temple priest.

He died, as I noted above, on the 4th of December, 1971. He was sixty-seven years old.

He began formal Zen study at the age of twelve with So-on Suzuki, a successor to and adoptive son of his father, at Zounin temple in Mori. At thirteen he was ordained unsui, a clouds and water priest. When his teacher moved to another temple Rinsoin, Suzuki followed him. At fifteen he returned to his fathers temple. At this time Suzuki began to study English. This would become a life-long interest of his. Later he continued his formal training with the master Dojun Kato at Kenkoin in Shizuoka. He attended Komazawa University, studying Buddhism and English. At twenty-two he received Dharma transmission from his teacher. However he continued his training entering Eiheiji, one of the two mother temples of the Soto school in Japan. He later also studied at Sojiji, the other of the two mother temples.

During the war many Zen priests supported the war effort much to the embarrassment of their later Western disciples. Suzukis involvement is unclear, but it does seem he was involved in at least some anti-war activities. This marked him out as unusual, and probably meant he would not advance in the hierarchy. And in fact Suzukiserved primarily as a country priest.

The Beat generation was in full swing and people were first learning there was such a thing as Zen. And they started coming to visit the temple asking for instruction. He invited them to sit with him early in the morning.

And with that what would become the San Francisco Zen Center complex began.

It is not possible to overstate Suzuki Roshis importance in the establishment of Zen in the West. If you want to learn more about him, his biographer David Chadwick maintains an amazing archive at

My own beginning Zen practice was fostered by his centers. My first instruction was at Sokoji, and my practice began at a branch of the Zen Center complex, what was then called the Berkeley Zendo.

And, I am only one of thousands his life and work touched.

He left three dharma successors, his son Hoitsu Suzuki, Shoko Okamoto, and an American Richard Baker. Through them the largest stream of American Soto Zen begins.

Many bows, great teacher. Endless bows

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December 8th, 2019 at 4:48 pm

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The Slow Death of Stanfords Startup Culture – Stanford Review

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At age 19, Steve Jobs moved to India, converted to Zen Buddhism and seriously considered becoming a monk. At Apple, he liked to wash his bare feet in the company toilets.

Steve Jobs was a genius. He was also a really weird guy.

Although Jobs himself did not attend Stanford, our university has built a global brand as an incubator of similarly different thinking and disruptive entrepreneurs. The results speak for themselves. From Hewlett and Packard to the contrarian Paypal Mafia, Stanford graduates turned Silicon Valley from a Wild West of rogue coders into an economic juggernaut.

But Stanford is a very different institution today than it was even five or ten years ago. For a school The New Yorker once called a tech incubator with a football team, our current crop of undergraduates is not incubating much.

Instead of app ideas, precocious freshmen now come to Stanford with carefully-researched lists of potential internships for the upcoming summer. They apply by the hundreds to an alphabet soup of pre-professional organizations like ASES, BASES, Stanford Consulting, Stanford Finance, SWIB, SWIF, SWIP and SWE, all promising exclusive access to recruiters and resume-enriching professional development events. Even truly gifted computer scientists, once an enterprising group of misfits and hackers, chase six figure starting salaries and carry around identical copies of Cracking the Coding Interview.

We can hardly be surprised that Stanford students are seeking prestige and stability. Stanford now pulls students from the exact same pool as other elite universities, retaining almost half of our cross admits with Harvard and 70% with Princeton and Yale. To be admitted is (with some notable exceptions) an exercise in sophisticated high school box-checking.

Why, then, do we expect these new admits to suddenly become status quo-destroying entrepreneurs the day they set foot on Palm Drive?

Thirty years ago, institution-smashers like Peter Thiel put Stanford on the map. I worry there is little room in our class of corporate operators for similar anti-establishment eccentrics.

To be clear, current Stanford students are plenty interested in startups and entrepreneurship, as evidenced by the sheer number of students with Entrepreneur as their LinkedIn header.

However, digging deeper into the profiles of these Stanford Founders reveals an ecosystem of dubious undergraduate ventures with little to no market potential. There is a proliferation of Instagram knockoffs targeted at such random subgroups as amateur athletes, art enthusiasts and (not kidding) people with airpods. Questionable world-changey concepts abound, promising change and opportunity while offering no apparent product. Many of the companies listed are, upon closer inspection, just newsletters or agglomerations of Google results.

And this doesnt include the significant number of startups that are actually a single student doing a completely normal hobby, like volunteering or drawing, and then calling themselves the Founder/CEO of a non-profit or local art collective.

It is hard to imagine that any of these companies are making money. But thats not really the point anymore. This hollow breed of startup exists largely as a resume padder, brought into existence to show Google or McKinsey that their student founder is innovative and a self-starter. Unsurprisingly, theyre usually abandoned once said founder gets a brand-name job.

For many Stanford students, a startup has become the first rung on a new kind of corporate ladder. A common life plan for business-oriented undergraduates now goes along the lines of I want to go to business school, then start my own thing, then get into VC. The content or success of the own thing is incidental.

Not exactly a recipe for innovation.

Stanford is still the place to be if you do want to start the next big thing. In terms of raw numbers, we produce the most startups of any university. Our graduate schools support the cutting edge research that can turn industries on their heads. And if you do happen upon a good idea, funding is literally right down the road.

Yet our increasingly pre-corporate startup culture discourages the disruptive thinking necessary to start a great company. We may have some true innovators in our midst, but they probably do not spend their time organizing events for BASES.

Six years ago, Stanford co-term and future Rhodes Scholar Miles Unterreiner published this widely read salute to the irreverent Stanford spirit. In it, he declares that Stanford would never allow the encrusting tendrils of ivy to creep over our walls and ensnarl the engines of progress that hum eternally beneath the sandstone.

But the conventionalism that pervades our East Coast counterparts has nevertheless found its way to campus. Sure, we still prepare more students to work at Facebook than Goldman Sachs. Many will even have a startup at some point. But these new-world status seekers are very different from the groundbreaking entrepreneurs who (actually) changed the world with their companies and built the Stanford we know today.

As Stanford continues its rise into the 21st century, it will do so as one of dozens of elite universities grooming smart kids for stable and lucrative employment. Theres nothing intrinsically wrong with that. But some of our spirit is being lost.

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December 8th, 2019 at 4:48 pm

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Should You Hire Anyone And Everyone Who Wants To Work For You? –

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Greyston was founded 36 years ago in Yonkers, New York, by Bernie Glassman, who practiced Zen Buddhism and pioneered the practice of Open Hiring (which Greyston has since trademarked). Greyston was founded on the idea that a profitable business could be the backbone of ethical practice, Brady says. The companys slogan reads we dont hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people, and indeed the concept is that simple. Anyone who asks for a job at Greystons Bakery will get one. It may take a little whilepeople sign up on a list, and when theres a job opening, theyll be contacted in the order in which they signed up. Thats it. The company does not use background checks, drug tests, or interviews; hiring is done on the basis of faith that if someone is given a job, they will do it, and their skills and salaries will grow as they work.

At Greyston, which currently employs 130 people, open hiring creates a pipeline for careers on the bakerys manufacturing floor and throughout the rest of the companys operations. People who are given a job start off as apprentices, during which they go through a 10-month job training and life-skills course. Around half the people who begin an apprenticeship choose to complete it and stay at Greyston, and when they do, theyre then assigned an entry-level jobworking the mixing machines or overseeing the slicing and packaging of different-sized brownies for distribution.

The company helps individual employees develop a career path, and provides them the supportwhether it be additional job training or a GED courseto follow it. Dion Drew, for instance, joined the team as an apprentice in 2009, and, after a number of promotions, is now a supervisor and new-hire manager. Delaney Philogene started as an apprentice at Greyston, moved on to the assembly line, then secured a job as an accountant with the company, and now works as an accountant for another. The idea, Brady says, is to equip people with both life and job skills that they could use to advance at Greyston, or take on to other companies. Either way, when people advance, it creates more space for more people to join as apprentices and begin their own careers.


Of course, Brady says, it doesnt always work outa number of people have passed through Greystons open hiring system to find that the work was not for them, or that they couldnt keep up with the demands of a fixed schedule.

But more often than not, open hiring leads to the same type of dedication Hookway saw in his own practice of giving people a chance. Brady feels that there are numerous, often overlooked avenues for introducing open hiring at companies. Janitorial services companies like CleanCraft are an obvious fit, but for larger companies, mail services, cafeteria staff, and other administrative work could all potentially work with an open hiring model. Specifically, he says, if companies are now choosing to outsource jobs to third-party contracting agencies, they should instead consider bringing them back in-house to provide a pipeline of opportunity to a wider range of people.

In doing so, they might see some benefits: While the annual employee turnover rate in similar manufacturing and production industries hovers between 30 and 70 percent, at the Greyston bakery, its just around 12 percent. Furthermore, because Greyston does away with the typical hiring processwhich, between background checks and drug tests, can cost up to $4,500 per hireits able to use the money saved to pay its employees a higher wage. While apprentices start at minimum wage, production supervisors, like Dion, earn a salary of around $65,000 with full benefits.

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Should You Hire Anyone And Everyone Who Wants To Work For You? -

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December 8th, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Zen Buddhism

A Brief Introduction to the Soto School of Zen – Patheos

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 8:43 pm

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As were working on our Empty Moon website we quickly saw a need for a brief overview of the Soto school. The Wikipedia article on Soto is a flawed document, but nonetheless contains much useful information. We used it as a template, cutting anything that felt extraneous to that brief overview, while interpolating critical information that was missing. The text remains a bit rough, but seemed workable enough to share here. The text at the Empty Moonwebsite will continue to be massaged for a while yet.

While not directly relevant to an introduction to Soto, this article also includes a few words about Empty Moon. Feel free to read or skip, as you find appropriate.

May this document be of assistance to anyone hoping to know more about this spiritual tradition both ancient and modern, holding profound insights and presenting disciplines that reveal the true nature of our hearts.



St Zenor theSt school(St-sh)is the largest of the three traditional schools ofZeninJapanese Buddhism(the others beingRinzaiandbaku). It is the Japanese line of the ChineseCodng school, which was founded during theTang dynastybyDngshn Linji. It emphasizes the practice ofShikantaza.

The Japanese school was imported in the 13th century byDgen Zenji, who studiedCodng Buddhism(Chinese:;pinyin:Codng Zng) abroad in China. Dgen is remembered today as the co-patriarch of St Zen in Japan along withKeizan Jkin.

With about 14,000 temples, St is one of the largest Japanese Buddhist organizations.St Zen is now also popular in the West.

The Caodong-teachings were brought to Japan in 1227, whenDgenreturned to Japan after studyingChaninChinaand settled atKennin-jiinKyoto. Dgen had receivedDharma transmissionfromTiantong Rujingat Qngd Temple, whereHongzhi Zhengjueonce was abbot. Hongzhis writings on silent illumination had greatly influenced Dgens own conception ofshikantaza.

Dgen also returned from China with variouskananthologies and other texts, contributing to the transmission of the koan tradition to Japan.

In 1243 Dgen foundedEihei-ji,one of the two head temples of St-sh today, choosing to create new monastic institutions based on the Chinese model and risk incurring the open hostility and opposition of the established schools.

Dgen was succeeded around 1236by his discipleKoun Ej(11981280)..

The second most important figure in St isKeizan.Keizan received ordination from Ej when he was, twelve years old, shortly before Ejs death.When he was seventeen he went on a pilgrimage for three years throughout Japan. During this period, he studiedRinzai,ShingonandTendai.After returning to Daij-ji,

Keizan received dharma transmission from Gikai in 1294, and established Joman-ji.In 1303 Gikai appointed Keizan as abbot of Daij-ji,a position he maintained until 1311. Under Keizan Soto Zen began to become popular.

In time the St school started to place a growing emphasis on textual authority. In 1615 thebakufudeclared that Eheijis standards (kakun) must be the rule for all St monks.This came to mean all the writings of Dgenbecame the normative source for the doctrines and organisation of the St school.Dgen scholarship came to a central position in the St sect with the writings ofMenzan Zuih(16831769), who wrote over a hundred works, including many commentaries on Dgens major texts and analysis of his doctrines. Menzan promoted reforms of monastic regulations and practice, based on his reading of Dgen.

Gent Sokuch(17291807), the 11th abbot ofEihei-ji, tried to purify the St school byfunctionally suppressing koan introspection as a Soto discipline. Prior to this kan study was widely practiced in the St school.

During theMeiji period(18681912) Japan abandoned its feudal system and opened up to Western modernism. One of the significant characteristics of the Meiji reforms was the disestablishment of Buddhism. Its original intent was in fact the eradication of this ultimately foreign religion. In practice it led to some creative reforms. Specifically the Zen establishment sought to modernize Zen in accord with Western insights, while simultaneously maintaining a Japanese identity.

Among these reforms the legalization of clerical marriage is among the most distinctive. It brought together two streams unique to Japanese Buddhism. The first was the substitution of Bodhisattva vows for the Vinaya system used throughout most of the Buddhist world. The other was the temple system where after a period of training single monks would become incumbents of the thousands of temples throughout the Japanese islands.

Records show these monks frequently having female companions. In the Meiji these two things, the ordinals had no specific language requiring celibacy, and on the ground a majority, likely a large majority were living in informal marriages, came to a head. That within five years of lifting of criminal sanction for marriage. fully eighty percent of Soto clergy were married shows this was a long over due reform.

That the terminology for these clerics remained monastic and that prominent clerics rarely appeared (or appearto this day) in public with their spouses andchildrenhas further complicated matters. Despite this there has been a trend toward seeing married clerics more as priests or ministers. This married clergy model has now been introduced to the West, where people are less comfortable with the dont ask, dont tell style of the Japanese culture, and now struggle to find appropriate accommodations for clerical marriage as a part of Zen in the West.

Going hand in hand with this non-monastic clerical leadership was the emergence of a philosophical perspective calledNew Buddhism (shin bukkyo). This perspective, insignificantpart the product of Western encounter, was broadly modernist, holding up the values of lay life, with impulsessupportiveofdemocratic, rationalist, and social engagement. It can be argued everyone who brought Soto Zen to the West was influenced by this New Buddhist perspective, at least in some degree. And practically, it brought a form of Soto Zen that could be recognized in many ways by Westerners.


In 1922 the Reverend Hosen Isobe established the first Soto temple on the mainland of the United States, in Los Angeles. Its intent was to serve the Japanese and Japanese American community. Shortly before the Second World War the Reverend Soyu Matsuokaarrivedfrom Japan and began to work with European and African American converts.

But it was withShunry Suzukithat Soto Zen began asignificant mission to the American heart.Suzuki studied atKomazawa University, the St Zen university in Tokyo.

In 1959 Suzuki arrived inCaliforniaas minister ofSoko-ji, at that time the sole St temple inSan Francisco.Suzukis teaching of Shikantaza and Zen practice andopens to converts, led to the formation of the San Francisco Zen Center, one of the largest and most successful Zen organizations in the West.

Suzukis assistantDainin Katagiriwas invited to come toMinneapolis,Minnesota, where he moved in 1972 after Suzukis death. Katagiri and his students built four St Zen centers withinMinneapolisSaint Paul. Another of Suzukis assistants, Kobun Chino Otogawa also become influential in establishing Soto in the West.

It was here in the West that Soto also began to reclaim koan introspection.The lineage, started with Daiun Sogaku Harada, who also has a line that passes more continuously within the Soto school,and through him toHakuun Yasutani, includesTaizan Maezumi, who gave dharma transmission to various American students, among themTetsugen Bernard Glassman,Charlotte Joko BeckandJohn Daido Loori.

The lay organizationSanbo Kyodan, and through thatlineage in an independent organization,Robert Aitken, who had several important dharma successors, including John Tarrant. cemented the place of a Soto reformed koan curriculum in Western Zen practice.

TheAntaiji-based lineage ofKd Sawakiwith its emphasis on shikantaza overall other practices, is also widespread. Sawakis student and successor as abbotKsh Uchiyamawas the teacher ofShhaku Okumurawho established theSanshin Zen CommunityinBloomington, Indiana, and his studentGud Wafu NishijimawasBrad Warners teacher.

Houn Jiyu-Kennett(1924-1996) was the first western female Soto Zen priest.She converted to Buddhism in the early 1950s, and studied inSojiji, Japan, from 1962 to 1963.Formally, Keido Chisan Koho Zenji was her teacher, but practically, one of Koho Zenjis senior officers, Suigan Yogoroshi, was her main instructor.[47]She becameOsh, i.e. priest or teacher, in 1963. In 1969 she returned to the west, foundingShasta Abbeyin 1970.

In 1996 the majority of North American St priestsjoined together to form theSoto Zen Buddhist Association. While institutionally independent of the Japanese Stsh, the St Zen Buddhist Association works closely with it.EMPTY MOON

Our founding teacher and priest is James Myoun Ford. He was originally ordained a priest by Jiyu Kennett, andreceived dharma transmission from her in 1971. He also completed the formal Soto reformed koan curriculum developed by Daiun Sogaku Harada andreceivedInkashomei from Dr John Tarrant.

A long time member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, Ford Roshi participated in the first Dharma heritage ceremony in 2004. It was meant to be arecognition ofseniority in Western Soto Zen roughly equivalent to the Japanese zuise ceremony. In 2012 he wasDoshi or chief celebrant at the fifth Dharma heritage ceremony. Ford later served on its board for a three year term.

The Empty Moon is dedicated to theproject of awakening. It seeks to preserve the traditions of Soto Zen cautiously adapted to the needs ofour time and place, while also transmitting the reformed koancurriculum, It alsostands for a radical equality between priest and lay practitioners, the total equality of genders, and the development of a rigorous but pragmatic formation process for priest practitioners.


For a brief summation of the core teachings of the Soto school, we recommend the Shushogi, the Meaning of Practice & Verification, compiled out of Eihei Dogens teachings by a team of scholars led by Ouchi Seiran.

For descriptions of Zen meditation we recommend this brief overview, as well as Eihei Dogens Fukanzazengi, Keizan Jokins Zazen Yojinki, and this introduction to koan introspection within the Soto reformed style.

For further reading about the Empty Moon project, here are some links:

Awakening and ZenMy Three Years on the Soto Zen Buddhist Association BoardZen Practice for Everyone

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A Brief Introduction to the Soto School of Zen - Patheos

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October 27th, 2019 at 8:43 pm

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Chef Danny Chu’s recipe book brings Japanese vegetarian cuisine from the temple to the kitchen – The International Examiner

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Ask any vegetarian with a taste for world cuisine, and theyll attest to how difficult it can be to find suitable Japanese food. Its no wonder as one of the worlds top consumers of seafood, Japan boasts a culinary tradition thats intimately linked with the bounty of the sea. Some of the more popular national dishes, such as sushi, sashimi and tempura, are typically made with seafood, but even seemingly innocuous foods like miso soup or noodle-dipping sauce have animal products in their ingredients.

But vegetarians wanting to explore Japans rich food culture dont need to settle for bland bowls of white rice or plain soba noodles because the country also boasts a little-known tradition of elegant vegetarian cooking. Chef Danny Chu introduces this cuisine to home cooks in his insightful recipe book, Shojin Ryori: The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine.

Shojin ryori refers to Japanese vegetarian food that gained popularity in the thirteenth century with the introduction of Zen Buddhism. It derives from the fundamental Buddhist principle of not taking a life and celebrates the natural essence of basic ingredients, drawing out the full flavors of vegetables and other plant sources with a minimum of waste.

In his book, Danny Chu, owner of Singapores first shojin ryori restaurant, shares some of his favorite dishes, focusing on simple, satisfying meals that can be made from readily available ingredients. The recipes are straight-forward and easy to follow, allowing the home chef to embrace their own mindfulness while enjoying the creation of appetizing plant-based meals. Although shojin cooking can occasionally include dairy and eggs, Chus selections are entirely free from animal products, making them suitable for vegans as well as vegetarians.

Chu arranges his cookbook seasonally, featuring dishes made from fresh ingredients appropriate for each time of year. The spring menu focuses on the new crop of fruits and vegetables including fare such as braised burdock and carrot as well as daikon rolls filled with watermelon and cucumber while autumn dishes, like nagaimo croquettes and chawan mushi, accent the fall mushroom harvest. The flavors of shojin ryori are delicate but delicious, with the savor of vegetables standing out through the restrained use of seasonings. Although shojin meals are traditionally concluded with a dish of seasonal fruit, Chu includes recipes for deserts such as watermelon jelly and poached pears, which are reminiscent of the elegant confections served in Japanese tea ceremony.

Shojin Ryori is an attractively presented volume, with each of its recipes accompanied by a photograph highlighting appealing serving suggestions. Cooks new to this style of cooking will also appreciate the thorough, illustrated glossary of ingredients as well as the opening pages, which are devoted to the preparation of stocks, garnishes, and other basics of Japanese cooking. The only criticism I have is that eight of the books recipes are repeated twice, although I expect this small oversight will be corrected in later editions.

Danny Chus Shojin Ryori demonstrates that eating a healthy, ethical diet can go hand in hand with enjoying the authentic flavors of Japan. As the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and human health becomes clearer and clearer, theres more reason than ever for people to experiment with the wealth of flavors offered by vegetarian cuisine. For any cook looking to expand their culinary horizons, Shojin Ryori is an easy recommendation.

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Chef Danny Chu's recipe book brings Japanese vegetarian cuisine from the temple to the kitchen - The International Examiner

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