Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jack Kornfield & Duncan Trussell - The Potential For Conflict Is In Us All

Listen to this excellent short talk about the potential for conflict and how it resides in us all. Even spiritual masters like Jack Kornfield feel the "dragon" come knocking on the door with its fiery breath and tempting logic. Jack gives good advice about mindfulness and how to fend the ornery beast off.

Jack Kornfield; Duncan Trussell; DTFH podcast; spirituality; conflict
Conflicted Self

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

What Is The Indian Bhang Marijuana Lassi?

marijuana lassi; India; Nepal
Legal Bhang Shop
As a Westerner in Asia, I run into many travelers, many of whom have been all over Asia, from Tokyto to Bankok to Bangalore. They have seen all of the sights, yes, but some of them have also dabbled in the local drug delicacies. There are the synthetic "legal" highs of Japan, the magic mushroom smoothies along the S.E. Asian beaches, and then there are the bhang lassis of India.

Bhang (Hindiभाँग) is a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant, consumed as beverage in the Indian subcontinent.

Bhang in India and Nepal is distributed during some Hindu festivals like Holi, and consuming bhang at such occasions is a common practice.

Holi is a popular festival, otherwise known as the festival of colors. Click here for a rather delightful video of colorful Indian revelers.

holi; festival; colors; weed; bhang lassi
Holi Festival of Colors / Poras Chaudhary

Bhang has been used in India since Vedic times, and is an integral part of North Indian culture. Sadhus and Sufis use bhang to boost meditation and to achieve transcendental states. Bhang or cannabis is also used amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy.

In 1596, Dutchman Jan Huyghen van Linschoten spent three pages on "Bangue" in his historic work documenting his journeys in the East, also mentioning the Egyptian Hashish, Turkish Boza, Turkish Bernavi, and Arabic Bursj forms of consumption. Click here to read an olde thyme essay about bhang

The historian Richard Davenport-Hines lists Thomas Bowrey as the first Westerner to document the use of bhang.

Sufi Baba Smoking Bhang
Anywhere on the ghats (or stairs leading down to the holy Ganges river), one can find large number of men engaged in the process of preparing bhang. Using mortar and pestle, the buds and leaves of cannabis are ground into a paste. To this mixture, milk, ghee and spices are added. The bhang base is now ready to be made into a heavy drink, thandai, an alternative to alcohol; this is often referred to casually, if inaccurately, as a "bhang thandai" and "bhang lassi".

According to the Times of India, "bhang was Lord Shiva's nectar, perhaps because bhang gives a long and sophisticated high - just the thing that goes well with a day-long celebration."

At the holi festival and in Hindu culture in general, "Bhang is associated with Lord Shiva, [and the] hemp plant is regarded holy by the Hindus. There is even a belief that to meet someone carrying bhang is an omen of success. And, if longing for hemp plant foretells happiness, to see it in dreams ensures prosperity for a person in future. Also, walking underfoot a holy bhang leaf spells doom for a person."

Over at Erowid, user VEC tells an epic story of his Bhang lassi experience:

"I was sitting up on my floor and just fell down. The white noise seemed much louder, and I could hear different sounds. It soon became a melody that I could slowly change when I concentrated on it. I tried to say something, and my mouth opened up and felt like it kept opening until it was about to swallow my head. I was a little nervous at first.  
Things got even more intense after this. I was stuck to my floor and couldn't open my eyes. I felt totally paralyzed. Suddenly, it hit me. I hadn't been doing what I normally do when I trip out: I lost my discipline. I usually try to focus on my mind and ride it out, this time I was too freaked out to 
All of a sudden, I saw what was going on - literally. My body was like a rock, and I saw something floating like a balloon. My instincts told me that this balloon was my mind attached to my body. I discarded my body and cut the string. 
Keep in mind this is all going on inside my mind, but I FELT as if I saw it. In fact, until the trip was over I knew I was seeing it.  
WOOSH. I felt my body sink down and my mind shoot forward. I was flying around everywhere - and I mean everywhere. I was thinking about how my mind is faster than the speed of light because I can think of being somewhere else and I am instantly there. I was flying around the cosmos and it was awesome!"

So, did Shiva take this lucky soul on a ride through the cosmos? What have your experiences with bhang been? Whatever they may have been or will be, it is comforting to know that such soulful revery takes place today by the banks of the sacred Mother Ganges. If only Western culture could adopt this kind of letting loose. In what ways can we? Please take a minute to comment and share your own stories about Bhang or about how we can adopt some of these fine Eastern qualities that travelers encounter. 

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Christopher Hansard - Fear

meditation, tibet, dalai lama, western, eastern
From The Tibetan Art Of Serenity
Fear is something that we all share, yet we all hide from each other like little dirty secrets under heavy layers of pride and shame. But why? This is another example of how faith and trust are requisite human characteristics, not religious ones. If we can have faith in our humanity, in the fact that every human has similar feelings of fear, then we can better work together to live comfortably with those fears, or even use them as a positive force in the world and in our individual and collective growth.
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