christmas gift idea: poo paper


My students love me so much that they gave me a box of paper made from elephant ca-ca!

Seriously, I love it…this morning my private students gave me a box of handmade note paper that is really made from, well, elephant poo poo. Go to The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company. My students know I’m all about the environment and that I love elephants so they thought it was the perfect gift. The paper is 100% recycled and odorless (good thing!) A percentage of the profits from the sale of the poo poo paper (I love that phrase!) is contributed towards the conservation of elephants.

So check out the website. They have neat journals for people on your Christmas gift list who love to journal and also stationary sets for people who still write letters.

I love handmade paper. It has character. One of the things I’m taking to India is a handmade journal I bought at an art fair. Everything is handmade, even the leather cover. The artist told me that he buys hides from a beef processing plant (yuck), tools them into journal covers, and also makes the paper. My journal has a deep, rich burgundy cover that will become seasoned and burnished the more I handle it, like the way an old saddle gets or an old pair of boots. The paper inside is rough and scratchy with a nice earthy feel to it. I looked at many journals at the artist’s table, but when I picked up this particular one, a picture flew into my mind — I saw myself sitting outside a temple in India, journaling. I was meant to have this special journal. When I paid for it, I said to the artist, “I know this sounds weird, but…”, and I told him what I “saw.” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “it’s not weird in my world…” mine neither, bro.

and yes, that IS a picture of me being blessed by the temple elephant in Pondicherry, India, 2005. now THAT was the money shot!

women helping women

I have recently learned about the organization Women for Women International. Women for Women International “provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies.” It is a Four Star Charity as rated by Charity Navigator. From their website:

“From Victim to Survivor…to Active Citizen

Women for Women International mobilizes women to change their lives by bringing a holistic approach to addressing the unique needs of women in conflict and post-conflict environments.

We begin by working with women who may have lost everything in conflict and often have nowhere else to turn. Participation in our one-year program launches women on a journey from victim to survivor to active citizen. We identify services to support graduates of the program as they continue to strive for greater social, economic and political participation in their communities.

As each woman engages in a multi-phase process of recovery and rehabilitation, she opens a window of opportunity presented by the end of conflict to help improve the rights, freedoms and status of women in her country. As women who go through our program assume leadership positions in their villages, actively participate in the reconstruction of their communities, build civil society, start businesses, train other women and serve as role models, they become active citizens who can help to establish lasting peace and stability.

Women begin in our Sponsorship Program where direct financial aid from a sponsor helps them deal with the immediate effects of war and conflict such as lack of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Exchanging letters with sponsors provides women with an emotional lifeline and a chance to tell their stories —maybe for the first time. As their situations begin to stabilize, women in our program begin building a foundation for their lives as survivors.

While continuing to receive sponsorship support, women embark on the next leg of the journey and participate in the Renewing Women’s Life Skills Program that provides them with rights awareness, leadership education and vocational and technical skills training. Women build upon existing skills and learn new ones in order to regain their strength, stability and stature on the path to becoming active citizens.

Women for Women International believes that establishing a means to earn a sustainable living is critical to being fully active in the life of a family, community and country. To help women transform their new skills into financial independence and sustainability, we offer job skills trainings to strengthen women’s existing skills and to introduce new skills in traditional and non-traditional fields so women can access future employment opportunities.

Building on the skills training program, we offer comprehensive business services designed to help women start and manage their own micro-enterprises. We give them access to capital and operate microcredit programs in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina with an overall repayment rate of 98 percent. We give women access to markets by facilitating product sales through outside retailers and our online Virtual Bazaar. We provide expertise such as product design, production assistance and business development workshops. We also help women form micro-enterprises such as production facilities and cooperative stores to sell the goods women produce.”

Helping the women of a country helps the children. Saving a woman saves everyone.

I learned about Women for Women International through my teacher, Sarah Powers. She and two other yoginis have started Metta Journeys and their inaugural trip to Rwanda will benefit Women for Women International.

I already sponsor a Sri Lankan girl through my Theravadan teacher’s organization, but when I return from India in January I will sign up to sponsor an Iraqi woman through Women for Women International. I encourage every woman who reads this blog who is outraged by the war in Iraq, and every woman blogger who has written about their outrage, to sign up to sponsor an Iraqi woman. I would also encourage you to pass along the WFWI link to all interested parties. Sisterhood is powerful, ladies.

Listen to Alice Walker’s powerful and moving words in the video and check out WFWI’s website. It is another example of thinking globally, believing in the collective human consciousness, and seva.

peace
shanti
salaam aleikum
so shall it be

Seva Cafe: love all, serve all

From YouTube:

Volunteer Anjali Desai explains the vision behind Seva Cafe, a pay-it-forward restaurant in Ahmedabad, India, where each patron makes a donation toward the next person’s meal. Devoted to the principle of “think globally, act locally,” Anjali describes how this communal experiment in giving reminds us that every individual act of goodwill resounds in the collective human consciousness.

I love this idea. “Think globally, act locally” has been my mantra for years and I think it’s a very easy thing to forget as we rush around in our crazy lives. It’s all about mindfulness, being in the present moment and knowing that our actions, however inconsequential, affect someone or something else. Interbeing, as Thich Nhat Hanh believes.

Would the world be in the shape that it’s in if we truly believed in a collective human consciousness? I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel a paradigm shift coming on.

why there’s blood on the Olympic rings

The Nangpa La Shootings

From Wikipedia:

“On September 30, 2006 75 Tibetan refugees, among them many young children, and their 2 guides were trying to enter Nepal illegally via the Himalayan Nangpa La pass (5,700m). Chinese Border Security soldiers opened fire on the group and killed Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun, just before the pass. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, then taken away by the Chinese borderpolice and is believed to have died later. The Chinese claimed that their soldiers fired in self defence. Only 41 survivors reached the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two weeks later they arrived at their destination in Dharamsala, India….

The following list of people were part of the original group and have been missing since the shooting. It is believed they are held by Chinese authorities. The names were forwarded by Students For A Free Tibet.

* Tenwang, age 7
* Lhakpa Tsering, age 8
* Dhondup Lhamo, age 9
* Dechen Dolma, age 10
* Wangchen, age 11
* Tsedon, age 12
* Sonam Wangdue, age 12
* Ming Shomo, age 13
* Lodoe Nyima, age 15
* Jamyang Tsetan, age 16
* Karma Tsetan, age 16
* Lodoe Namkha, age 16
* Karma, age 19
* Samten, age 19
* Sonam Palzom, age 20
* Dhondup Palden, age 21
* Kusang, age 22
* Lobsang Paljor, age 35″

Chinese officials have yet to release information about the detainees’ whereabouts or well-being.

Look at the ages of these prisoners and think about what it would be like if your child was detained by soldiers after witnessing a woman being shot in the back.

And this is what happens when you try to do the right thing.

“Luis Benitez, who had grown increasingly disturbed by the silence, broke the news via an e-mail sent to an expedition news Web site. Luis, a mountain guide working for the commercial outfit Himalayan Experience, had watched the chilling event unfold days before. His began his e-mail with “The story not being told here in Tibet,” and went on to describe the killing. Understandably, he asked his name not be used….

Benitez confided to fellow guide Paul Rogers that he was the one who broke the news. Rogers immediately informed their boss Russell Brice, owner of Himalayan Experience, of what Benitez had done.

Benitez claims Brice, Rogers and Henry Todd, a guide from another commercial outfit, angrily confronted him at base camp. Todd went so far as to make mafia-style threats….

Confronted with the choice of protecting business verses reporting human rights violations, they’ve chosen money. Ironically, the clients of these companies, who are generally very sympathetic to the culture of Tibet, are now unknowingly helping to destroy it.

In contrast, Benitez put his career on the line instead of selling his silence for blood money. Even if Benitez is allowed back into China, he’s likely to be blacklisted by guiding companies, many of whom operate around the world. He has made some powerful enemies while trying to do the right thing.”

The world was outraged over the events in Burma. Where is the outrage over Tibet?

let’s not forget Burma

The troubles in Burma still continue. It was not just a blip on the radar screen.

This is a video of an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh speaking about Burma and engaged Buddhism.

In the meantime, we can all send our dirty underwear to Burmese embassies.

“Activists exasperated at the failure of diplomacy to apply pressure on Burma’s military regime are resorting to a new means of protest against the regime’s recent crackdown: sending female underwear to Burmese embassies.

Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore have all been targeted by the “Panties for Peace” campaign, co-ordinated by an activist group based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman’s pants or sarong will make them lose their strength,” Ms Pollack told Guardian Unlimited.

…The junta is famous for its abuse of women: it is well documented that they use rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage.”

Sounds like a good way to get rid of those chakra panties that I’ve seen in yoga magazine ads.

buddhist monks protest in Burma


(photo credit: The Buddhist Channel)

How can anyone not be moved by the sight of thousands of Buddhist monks marching in peaceful protest against a military regime? Witnesses reported that the monks marched from their monasteries chanting the “Metta Sutta” (the Buddha’s words on loving-kindness.) The army has been told to be prepared to fire at demonstrators when the command is given and hospitals have been told to clear their wards.

The monks have vowed not to back down. Their alms bowls remain overturned. Which will prevail — metta or bloodshed?

For the last week, thousands of Burmese monks have marched against the repressive Burmese military regime in cities across that nation. This is the largest public demonstration against the junta in nearly 20 years. As the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks march, chant, and overturn their almsbowls (patam nikkujjana kamma), refusing to accept donations from members of the military regime, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship offers our full support and solidarity.

Monks Challenge Military Rule

Aung San Who?

Statement by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, USA

There is an appeal to pause and meditate.

The monks of Burma are taking a great chance, trying to transform the the ruling military regime with metta (loving-kindness), quiet courage, and discipline.

They have asked the people of Burma and those who support them, to meditate and pray silently for 15 minutes at 2000 hours this Tuesday, tomorrow:

Will you join them? Thoughts are energy. Can we collectively send our thoughts of metta to Burma, indeed, to the entire world? Can you afford a mere 15 minutes of your time to concentrate on peace and loving-kindness?

2000 hours Rangoon time
1430 hours GMT
1030 hours New York
0830 hours Chicago
0630 hours Los Angeles
2030 hours Bangkok
2130 hours Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Hong Kong
2230 hours Tokyo

Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
September 23, 2007

I extent my support and solidarity with the recent peaceful movement for democracy in Burma. I fully support their call for freedom and democracy and take this opportunity to appeal to freedom-loving people all over the world to support such non-violent movements.

Moreover, I wish to convey my sincere appreciation and admiration to the large number of fellow Buddhists monks for advocating democracy and freedom in Burma.

As a Buddhist monk, I am appealing to the members of the military regime who believe in Buddhism to act in accordance with the sacred dharma in the spirit of compassion and non-violence.

I pray for the success of this peaceful movement and the early release of fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

the miniature earth

I saw this powerful video on another blog, but can’t remember which one. I’ve been turned on to so many great blogs lately — actually more leftie, Democratic, social activist blogs than yoga or Indian ones — that I can’t keep them all straight!

there is no music to this one, no sounds. just listen to the sound of your own heart.

by the way, I know my posts as of late have not been very yoga or India related, but that’s life, and life is about change — morphing, evolving, reinvention. If not, then there is stagnation and death. As Sri Krishnamacharya said, yoga is about life.

but not to worry, I AM formulating another YOGA RANT!

peace to all.

aung san who?

Did you know that a Nobel Peace Prize winner has been held under house arrest for 11 years by her government? Did you know this woman is considered a modern day Gandhi? Did you know that Burma (also known as Myanmar), a country where the population is primarily Theravadan Buddhist, is ruled by a military regime?

Or is the only thing you know about Burma is that “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was built there?

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Asian Nelson Mandela. She has become an international symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

Yeah, that’s Jim Carrey in the video, the guy from the movie “Dumb and Dumber” talking about political conditions in Burma, a country on the other side of the world from the USA. He doesn’t sound too dumb.

Why am I telling you about Aung San Suu Kyi? Because I believe that we as Americans need to be reminded more than occasionally about what goes on in the rest of the world — and be outraged by it. Like about what’s happening in Tibet and has been happening there since the Chinese marched in. Or about the only Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is imprisoned by her government. Or to be reminded that some of the athletic clothes you buy for your children are made by another mother’s child working a 15 hour shift. Think about your own child working in a sweatshop next time you buy the latest Nikes.

Soon we’ll be seeing clothes with the 2008 Olympics logo and people will be snapping those up right and left. From the CleanClothes.org website: “…the Yue Wong Cheong company’s Shenzen (China) facility, where 50 different items are produced under license for the 2008 Olympics, included paying workers 50% of the minimum wage, 13 hour days, health and safety problems, and using fake salary slips to hide violations from auditors sent to inspect conditions.”


Have we become so insular that we are afraid to look beyond our own comfortable backyards? We get our news in nightly soundbites from the talking heads and then move on to the next thing that captures our monkey minds for three seconds.

Or are we afraid that if we really investigated and examined what happens in the rest of the world on a daily basis it would be too horrible for us to comprehend?

This is a beggar girl and her pup that I ran into in Pondicherry, India. She’s holding the rupees that I gave her. I told her to also feed the pup, but I’m reasonably sure the pup is dead by now, and the girl is still living on the street. It’s just the way it is. Every day. I would rather be poor in America than anywhere else in the world.

To change the world we must first change ourselves.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
Mohandas Gandhi

feed the hungry, save the rainforest, buy books


If you look at the right sidebar you will see that I added four charity sites that make it extremely easy for you to donate on a daily basis, without spending a dime of your own money. How much easier could it be to think globally and act locally?

When you click the links, the charities work with their sponsors to buy books, donate cups of food, donate bowls of food for shelter animals, or donate money to preserve square footage of the rain forest.

In 2006 visitor clicks:

* funded over 29,000,000 bowls of food for shelter animals
* funded the preservation of 316,304,335 square feet of rainforest
* funded over 5,000,000 pounds of food for people
* funded over 300,000 books

Over 60% of the world’s illiterate are women. For over 800,000,000 people in the world, hunger is a daily reality. There are millions of unwanted animals in US shelters. Millions of acres of the rainforest, the lungs of Mother Earth, are endangered on a daily basis.

To all of you who regularly visit this blog, and even those of you who visit once and never come back, please take four seconds to click each link. Those of you who visit every day, please click each link every time you visit. And those of you with your own blogs, please go to the sites and get the code to add a widget. You’ll be accumulating positive merit for yourselves!

Think globally, act locally, we are One.

The Animal Rescue Site

The Hunger Site

The Literacy Site

The Rainforest Site