Archive for the 'Religion, Spiritualism & Other Make-Believe' Category

Caramel Eggnog

Caramel Eggnog - So. Fucking. Good.

I loathe Christmas. But just as every cloud has a silver lining, there is one truly excellent thing about Christmas: eggnog.

In fairness, eggnog is not exclusively within the Christmas domain. But let’s throw a crappy holiday a bone of redemption. And, anyway, this is really not about Christmas; it’s about eggnog.

This morning, before I was even fully conscious, I had a flash of inspiration: caramel eggnog. In other words, caramelize the sugar (in a syrup) instead of incorporating it raw. The result, pictured above, is superb.

Really, you need a recipe? Damn this season of giving!

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Doing History Wrong

Was Gandhi-ji a saint, a devil, neither, or both?

Neoconservative historian Andrew Roberts has written a thoroughly dickish profile of Mahatma Gandhi in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Among the Hagiographers. Under the thin guise of a review of Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography, Great Soul, Mr. Roberts unleashes an unprovoked, relentlessly cruel smear-piece on Gandhi-ji. The essay bristles with the sort of raw enmity one might expect from a man whose professional career has revolved around the lionization of Winston Churchill and who has unreservedly adopted the venomous loathings of the man he idolizes.

The facile way to read Mr. Roberts’s offensively negative presentation is as a smoking condemnation of Gandhi-ji: the father of satyagraha was a creep and a pervert. Indeed, the essay catalogs many of Gandhi-ji’s personal shortcomings and reversals of position; and Mr. Roberts’s project is to spin these into an unflattering portrait of hypocrisy, if not outright depravity. Roberts presents precisely the opposite portrait from that assembled in the usual, beatifying hagiography; and the true object of Roberts’s loathing may be as much the Gandhian canon as Gandhi-ji himself. But, in this detail, I see a shred of subtle value in Mr. Roberts’s malicious piece. It illustrates the absurdity and ruthlessness of a bizarrely one-dimensional mining of the historical record.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year

New Year Diyas at the Auroville Pavillion of Tibetan Culture

My new years eve was just as I prefer it: quiet, relaxed, with great food and great friends – a dinner party and sleep-over in the lovely forest township of Auroville.

At some point before dinner, my friends and I visited the Pavillion of Tibetan Culture, within Auroville’s International Zone. In my jaded experience, it is seldom less than nauseating to combine Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers – through no fault of the Tibetans. The scene at the Tibetan Pavillion, however, was perfectly wonderful. A thousand diyas and paper lanterns had been lit, and people sat in stillness or walked quietly through the compound. A cleanly, modestly amplified soundtrack alternated between throat chanting and simply rendered devotional music. If the feel of the event was here-and-there, in one-participant-or-another, too ostentatiously and self-consciously reverent for my taste, the overwhelming mood was of simple serenity and gratitude – both superb attitudes with which to bring in the new year.

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One Fine Day

His Giggliness the Dalai LamaPresident Barack Obama

This blog is, just now, emerging from a lengthy vipassana (“Do not spit on the footpaths! – Be Happy!”), full of all that clear-headedness and deep insight that only silence can confer. Or that’s the hope — and the story.

If ever there was a day to shake me from my writing stupor – I mean, meditation – it was yesterday. I attended an address by His Giggliness the Dalai Lama in the afternoon and watched Barack Obama become President of the United States late at night. That’s a pretty heady one-two punch.

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Diwali Celebrations at Upasana

Diwali Celebrations at Upasana Design Studio

Diwali, the festival of light, is the biggest holiday of the year in a country that loves its holidays. Technically, it has Hindu roots — marking the homecoming of Ram after kicking some Sri Lankan booty — and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains in variations on a theme of the triumph of good over evil. Practically speaking, it is as secularized as Christmas in America — a disappointing trend in both cases (but that’s another story).

It is not only celebrated widely, but poorly as well.

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Room Darshan

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Golden Day Darshan Program

Today is known as “Golden Day” at the Sri Arobindo Ashram.

On this day in 1956, Sri Aurobindo’s lieutenant and chief disciple, the Mother, had an occult vision of the next phase of human development. Sri Aurobindo described this as the transcendence from the conscious mind to the supramental state, in which one understands themselves to be a part of the completeness of existence, which he called “the divine.” He’s how she described her experience:

This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine.

As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that “the time has come”, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces.

On special days, like Golden Day, the rooms of the Ashram which belonged to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are open to devotees, who take advanced appointments and queue for hours for the chance to spend five minutes walking through the private spaces, and among the relics, of the two people they consider their ultimate teachers. Today, we were gifted two passes for “room darshan.”

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Bon Fête Auroville

Auroville 40th Anniversary Bonfire at Matrimandir Garden Amphitheater

This morning, in the hours bridging dawn, Auroville gathered in the garden amphitheater of the Martimandir to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

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Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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