Friday, April 27, 2007

The Wise Words of Buddha

If a man who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater.

I reached in experience the nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.

As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.

Look within, thou art the Buddha.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Practical Instructions for Positive Thinking

In order to turn the mind toward the positive, inner work and training are required. Attitude and thoughts do not change overnight.

Read about this subject, think about its benefits and persuade yourself to try it. The power of thoughts is a mighty power that is always shaping our life. This shaping is usually done subconsciously, but it is possible to make the process a conscious one. Even if the idea seems strange give it a try, as you have nothing to lose, but only to gain. Ignore what others might say or think about you, if they discover that you are changing the way you think.

Always visualize only favorable and beneficial situations. Use positive words in your inner dialogues or when talking with others. Smile a little more, as this helps to think positively. Disregard any feelings of laziness or a desire to quit. If you persevere, you will transform the way your mind thinks.

Once a negative thought enters your mind, you have to be aware of it and endeavor to replace it with a constructive one. The negative thought will try again to enter your mind, and then you have to replace it again with a positive one. It is as if there are two pictures in front of you, and you choose to look at one of them and disregard the other. Persistence will eventually teach your mind to think positively and ignore negative thoughts.

In case you feel any inner resistance when replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, do not give up, but keep looking only at the beneficial, good and happy thoughts in your mind.

It does not matter what your circumstances are at the present moment. Think positively, expect only favorable results and situations, and circumstances will change accordingly. It may take some time for the changes to take place, but eventually they do.

Another method to employ is the repetition of affirmations. It is a method which resembles creative visualization, and which can be used in conjunction with it. It is the subject of another article on this website.

The other articles at this website, about the power of concentration, will power, self-discipline and peace of mind also contribute to the development of a positive mind, and are recommended for reading and practicing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The baton passes to China

By Walter T Molano

China's ascent is occurring faster than anyone imagined. The first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 11.1% year on year was a surprise for many, but not for all. China is on fire, marking the fourth consecutive year of double-digit expansion.

The Chinese economy is inflating to a size that is commensurate with its proportion of the global population. Given that China has about 22% of the world's population, the economy can easily double before reaching equilibrium.

This expansion can manifest in one, some or all of the following ways: growth, inflation, or currency appreciation. Given that the government is allowing the yuan to appreciate gradually and the inflation rate is low, most of the expansion is going to occur on the growth side. Therefore, we should not be too surprised by the torrential pace of economic activity.

Fortunately, the global impact of the Chinese revival has been positive. Global trade grew 15% year on year in 2006, reaching US$11.76 trillion. China led the way, increasing exports 27% year on year. Imports jumped 25% year on year, boosting the demand for commodities and industrial products. Copper imports surged 60% year on year at the beginning of 2007, after experiencing a slump at the end of 2006.

Overall, China's copper demand is expected to rise 8% year on year to 4.2 million tonnes. However, the Chinese are importing more than raw materials. In fact, Chinese exports fell to third place in 2006, after Germany retook the second position. The growing needs for machinery, industrial products, consumer goods and luxury items are forcing the United States, Germany and Japan to increase their embarkations toward China.

Indeed, China is now Japan's largest trading partner, representing 17% of exports. China was the destination of less than 4% of Japanese exports in 1990. Interestingly enough, Japan is becoming less of an important trading partner for the Chinese. In 1990, Japan represented 17% of total exports. Today, the figure is only 11%.

China's inclusion into the World Trade Organization, its move into higher-value-added sectors, and its integration into the global marketplace have allowed it to diversify its trade partners. This is the reason the Japanese are adopting a more conciliatory approach with the Chinese. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently visited China, marking the first Japanese state visit there in five years. It is also the reason the Japanese are not allowing their currency to appreciate against the US dollar. It is not so much that they don't want to lose competitiveness against the Americans. It's that they do not want it to lose market share in China - where the currency happens to be closely linked to the dollar.

The ascendancy of China is a good thing for many emerging-market countries. Brazil is one of the main beneficiaries. The burgeoning exports to China are pushing up Brazil's international reserves. At the end of last year, analysts speculated that Brazil's international reserves could hit the $130 billion mark by the end of 2007. International reserves were $113 billion at the end of February, and they will probably crest through the $130 billion mark by the end of the first semester. Other commodity producers, such as Argentina, Russia, Peru, Kazakhstan and Chile, are also thriving. This is creating an emerging-market boom that is unparalleled, but it is not a fad.

Some numbers are alarming. The Shanghai stock market was up 235% over the past year and a half. The Shenzhen market was up 289% during the same period. The Shenzhen market trades at a multiple of 60, Shanghai 38 and the Dow 17. Nevertheless, the Chinese market underwent a great deal of deregulation over the past two years, witnessed a tidal wave of new issues and ended a five-year slump. Given the growth potential that lies ahead, valuations may not be as lofty as some argue. Unfortunately, a shakeout may be inevitable.

Nevertheless, the baton is passing to China. It is now setting the tempo for the global economic orchestra. The transformation is still in the early stages. China will soon move into higher-value-added sectors, such as automobiles, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. A larger swatch of the population has to be incorporated into the new economy. That means that sunny skies lie ahead for most emerging-market countries as they help feed the ravenous needs of the new rising superpower.

(Copyright 2007 Walter T Molano, The Emerging Market Adviser.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

America's tragedy

Apr 19th 2007

From The Economist print edition

After the Virginia Tech massacre, Its politicians are still running away from a debate about guns

IN THE aftermath of the massacre at Virginia Tech university on April 16th, as the nation mourned a fresh springtime crop of young lives cut short by a psychopath's bullets, President George Bush and those vying for his job offered their prayers and condolences. They spoke eloquently of their shock and sadness and horror at the tragedy (see article). The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives called for a “moment of silence”. Only two candidates said anything about guns, and that was to support the right to have them.

Cho Seung-hui does not stand for America's students, any more than Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did when they slaughtered 13 of their fellow high-school students at Columbine in 1999. Such disturbed people exist in every society. The difference, as everyone knows but no one in authority was saying this week, is that in America such individuals have easy access to weapons of terrible destructive power. Cho killed his victims with two guns, one of them a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a rapid-fire weapon that is available only to police in virtually every other country, but which can legally be bought over the counter in thousands of gun-shops in America. There are estimated to be some 240m guns in America, considerably more than there are adults, and around a third of them are handguns, easy to conceal and use. Had powerful guns not been available to him, the deranged Cho would have killed fewer people, and perhaps none at all.

But the tragedies of Virginia Tech—and Columbine, and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, where five girls were shot at an Amish school last year—are not the full measure of the curse of guns. More bleakly terrible is America's annual harvest of gun deaths that are not mass murders: some 14,000 routine killings committed in 2005 with guns, to which must be added 16,000 suicides by firearm and 650 fatal accidents (2004 figures). Many of these, especially the suicides, would have happened anyway: but guns make them much easier. Since the killing of John Kennedy in 1963, more Americans have died by American gunfire than perished on foreign battlefields in the whole of the 20th century. In 2005 more than 400 children were murdered with guns.

The trigger and the damage done

The news is not uniformly bad: gun crime fell steadily throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. But it is still at dreadful levels, and it rose sharply again in 2005. Police report that in many cities it rose even faster in 2006. William Bratton, the police chief of Los Angeles (and formerly of New York), speaks of a “gathering storm of crime”. Politicians on both sides, he says, have been “captured” by the vocal National Rifle Association (NRA). The silence over Virginia Tech shows he has a point.

The Democrats have been the most disappointing, because until recently they had been the party of gun control. In 1994 President Bill Clinton approved a bill banning assault weapons (covering semi-automatic rifles plus high-capacity magazines for handguns) and the year before that a bill imposing a requirement for background checks. But Democrats believe they paid a high price for their courage: losing the House of Representatives in 1994 shortly after the assault-weapons ban, and then losing the presidency in 2000. Had Al Gore held Arkansas or West Virginia or his own Tennessee, all strongly pro-gun, he would have won the election. These days, with hopes for a victory in 2008 dependent on the South and the mountain West, it is a brave Democrat who will talk about gun control. Some of them dismiss the very idea as “insensitive”.

Mr Bush however, has done active damage. On his watch the assault-weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. New laws make it much harder to trace illegal weapons and require the destruction after 24 hours of information gathered during checks of would-be gun-buyers. The administration has also reopened debate on the second amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms. Last month an appeals court in Washington, DC, overturned the capital's prohibition on handguns, declaring that it violates the second amendment. The case will probably go to the newly conservative Supreme Court, which might end most state and local efforts at gun control.

Freedom yes, but which one?

No phrase is bandied around more in the gun debate than “freedom of the individual”. When it comes to most dangerous products—be they drugs, cigarettes or fast cars—this newspaper advocates a more liberal approach than the American government does. But when it comes to handguns, automatic weapons and other things specifically designed to kill people, we believe control is necessary, not least because the failure to deal with such violent devices often means that other freedoms must be curtailed. Instead of a debate about guns, America is now having a debate about campus security.

Americans are in fact queasier about guns than the national debate might suggest. Only a third of households now have guns, down from 54% in 1977. In poll after poll a clear majority has supported tightening controls. Very few Americans support a complete ban, even of handguns—there are too many out there already, and many people reasonably feel that they need to be able to protect themselves. But much could still be done without really infringing that right.

The assault-weapons ban should be renewed, with its egregious loopholes removed. No civilian needs an AK-47 for a legitimate purpose, but you can buy one online for $379.99. Guns could be made much safer, with the mandatory fitting of child-proof locks. A system of registration for guns and gun-owners, as exists in all other rich countries, threatens no one but the criminal. Cooling-off periods, a much more open flow of intelligence, tighter rules on the trading of guns and a wider blacklist of those ineligible to buy them would all help.

Many of these things are being done by cities or states, and have worked fairly well. But jurisdictions with tough rules are undermined by neighbours with weak ones. Only an effort at the federal level will work. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, has put together a coalition of no fewer than 180 mayors to fight for just that. Good luck to him.

French presidential election

The French have chosen the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal to battle it out for the presidency after the first round of voting took place on Sunday. Mr Sarkozy gained 30% of the vote and Ms Royal 26%.

Unlike five years ago when the presidential run-off in France offered a choice between a centre-right incumbent, Jacques Chirac, and a far-right politician, Jean-Marie le Pen, this time voters will face a more classic choice between Right and Left.

In the coming two weeks, both Mr Sarkozy and Ms Royal will have a difficult challenge. On the one hand, they'll want to shore up their core support on the Right and Left but, on the other hand, they'll need to appeal to the nearly one-fifth of voters who opted for the centrist candidate, Francois Bayrou, in the first round. Mr Bayrou's message was one of unity and pragmatism and both the candidates are certain to be stressing those themes.

It's hard to imagine two more different personalities than Mr Sarkozy, the former hard-line Interior Minister who leads from the front, and Ms Royal who promises a new style of leadership based on inclusivity. The policy contrast is also stark. Mr Sarkozy wants the French to work harder and pay less tax, is promising to curb union powers and a crackdown on young offenders. Ms Royal would maintain and improve France's welfare state, raise the minimum wage and, as she has put it, "reform the country without breaking it". Her election would also, of course, take France into totally uncharted territory - with a woman as president for the first time in the country's history.

Paul Legg, BBC

the final round of voting in the French election

someone who is already holding a post

to shore up
to make secure, to use to their advantage

core support
here, people who always vote for the same party

to appeal to
to become liked by, to get support from

opted for
chose, voted for

a practical attitude

not excluding any section of society

sharply evident, very obvious

totally uncharted territory
an entirely new situation, something that has never happened before

Monday, April 23, 2007

"limbo " Who said it? Where? Why?

It's possible that the concept of limbo — as in the border region of Hell, where in Roman Catholic theology innocent but unbaptized souls reside — will be officially consigned to oblivion. But the metaphorical extension meaning "nothingness" or "indecision" is likely here to stay:

"In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an 'unduly restrictive view of salvation.' ...The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century."

Link: Vatican buries limbo after centuries -

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nature's Lullaby

Enigmatic Moon
Starlit sky
Intoxicating night
Soothing breeze,
Rustle of leaves
Night creatures sings
Angelic whispers,
A Surreal feel
Nature lulls,
tired minds
to a peaceful sleep.

by Chavii

Song Of Proserpine

Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods and men and beasts have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow in scent and hue
Fairest children of the Hours,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

May Flower

Pink, small, and punctual,
Aromatic, low,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.
Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
Nature forswears

By Emily Dickinson