Remember the days when we humans crowned ourselves as masters of the universe? We did so because we thought we were the only toolmakers, tool users, and problem solvers. Here is a BBC video that is a must watch. You will see how a crow when presented with a complex multi-step problem solves it with its pea-sized brain. Crows can make tools, use them, and solve complex problems. Here is another video that shows how crows use traffic to break open nuts and use stoplights to collect them in safety! (Click on the link)
But you really do not need a brain to be a problem solver. Even slime mold can do it! This is just a single celled creature (with multiple nucleus’s within), with no neurons, and yet it can learn, solve puzzles, and display advanced intelligent behavior! Watch this short TED video to see this for yourself.
More and more it seems as if intelligence is ever-present and universal. Life and intelligence seem like synonyms. We humans may have been gifted with an extraordinary amount of it, but in no way we are the only intelligent creature on this planet. Rather than seeing ourselves as masters we should view ourselves as guardians of the web of life. Our role may be better understood as protectors and preservers of the glorious intelligence that we find in every aspect of life around us.
Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Life need not be complicated. Mahatma Gandhi’s life shows us how powerful it can be when we put simple ideas as outlined above into practice. By following these simple truths, Gandhi was able to defeat the mighty British empire without any need for violence and gain freedom for his country. He also fought with his own countrymen to empower the poor and lower castes and he fought for women’s rights. His actions have helped transform an entire subcontinent and also inspired non-violent struggles all over the world.
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Yoga philosophy is sublimely simple, profound, and livable. Yet it can be difficult to grasp because of its unfamiliar language and complex history.
My aim here is to capture the essence of Yoga philosophy in plain English, with a touch of fun. I hope beginners will be inspired to learn more and experienced Yoga practitioners will come away refreshed and energized.
Let’s begin by talking about the Six Big Ideas of Yoga Philosophy.
It took me awhile to fully appreciate the truth and depth of these six simple gems, but now I’ve kind of internalized them and they have made my life immeasurably richer.
- Each of us is already infinitely wondrous—miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable. (This is well hidden beneath the distractions and emotions of everyday life.)
- Our wondrous nature is the same as the infinite wonder of the universe.
- The way to experience our wondrous self is to fully experience the present moment, since each moment of consciousness is infinitely wondrous in itself.
- The mind, body, and spirit are inseparable.
- Experiencing our wondrous self leads to an abundance of joy and goodness.
- The techniques of Yoga, leading to enhanced awareness, are one method for discovering our true wondrous nature.
Next week: The first big idea explained.
Credit: This has been written by Bob Weisenberg. He is Editor of Best of Yoga Philosophy and former Yoga Editor & Assoc. Publisher of elephant journal. He is the author of Yoga Demystified and Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell, as well as Co-editor of Yoga in America. For more details visit: http://bobweisenberg.wordpress.com/
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Dr. Baxter Bell
I should start by telling you what my life was like before I discovered yoga in 1994. Wow, were to start?! Let me encapsulate my schooling and work history in this way: I was always a studious kid and did well in my grade school, junior high and high school studies. I attended a college prep high school in Toledo, Ohio, St. Johns, run by the Jesuit order. I mention this because not only was it rigorous academically, but we also had religious studies as part of our curriculum, which at the time was of only nominal interest to me. But when I got to college and was studying pre-med, I decided to use some of my electives to take a course on the literature of the old and new testaments. This turned out to be a captivating set of courses that looked at how history and circumstance influenced religious texts. These exposures refined my feeling that I was more of a spiritual seeker than a member of a particular religious tradition.
From college, I went straight into med school and then into my family medicine residency and finally into a busy family practice, which I had been at for 5 years when I took my first yoga classes. Needless to say, my busy life was reflected in a busy mind! I recall having a classic “monkey mind” that was constantly reviewing my work decisions, and worrying about them, or dealing with the immediate intense decisions of the present day, or planning my next short and long term adventures. I worked a lot of hours, taking call on evenings during the week and every few weekends, so my free time felt precious and I tended to load it up with activities I enjoyed.
My relationship to my body at the time was not what it is today. I was relatively healthy, so I tended to use my body intensely in physical activity. I ran regularly, biked regularly, was an avid roller blader for a number of years, only to add in indoor and outdoor rock climbing, with the occasional winter ski trip thrown in for good measure. I was modestly competitive, and suspect I used these activities to deal with the stress I felt from my work. On the purely physical level, I was always of slender build, but I built muscle quickly, felt strong and had good stamina. But, I had always felt stiff and inflexible, ever since high school cross country.
A cute young lady goes to the doctor and says, “Doctor I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn’t bother me too much. They never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact I’ve farted at least 10 times since I’ve been here in your office. You didn’t know I was farting because they don’t smell and are silent.”
The doctor says, “I see. Take these pills and come back to see me next week.”
The next week the lady returns. “Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the heck you gave me, but now my farts, although still silent, stink terribly”.
“Good,” the doctor said. “Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”
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Credit: Source unknown. Found on internet.