diversity is wealth

The China Study (from wikipedia):

The China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties was a study conducted throughout the 1970s and 1980s in rural China, jointly funded by the University of Oxford, Cornell University, and the Government of China. In 1991 The New York Times called it “the Grand Prix of epidemiology.”The first two major studies were led by T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell, who summarized the results in his book The China Study (2005).

The study examined the diets, lifestyle and disease characteristics of populations of 65 rural Chinese counties, comparing the prevalence of disease characteristics, excluding causes of death such as accidents. The findings suggested that some diseases of affluence were caused by Westernization, especially the growing consumption of animal protein and dairy products, previously either unknown or uncommon in China.

In his book, Dr. Campbell writes about the Nurses’ Health Study, and how the results seem misleading because all of the participants are basically eating the same diet:

The problem of studying a population that uniformly consumes a high-risk diet and looking at the differences in consumption of one nutrient at a time is not unique to the Nurses’ Health Study. It is common to virtually all studies using Western subjects. Furthermore, there is little or no value to pooling the results of many large studies for analysis in order to get a more reliable result if all the studies have the same flaw.

Indeed, aren’t we lucky that the Chinese tend to eat a pretty different diet than we do, and so we have a population to study to figure out why we’re all dying of diseases of affluence? Diversity is wealth! Let’s remember that while we’re overseas trying to “help” other “poor” cultures that don’t have our material wealth.

peace musings

Peace is a simple allowance of loss.

Once violence of any kind (property, physical, psychological) has happened, the damage is done. No amount of fist-shaking, hooting and hollering, anger or revenge can undo what’s been done. So not to accept what has happened is simply irrational. The world you wish for — the one before the violence happened — is gone! We can’t get it back. Struggling to try and get it back is delusion and will lead to more suffering.

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assume the position

In zazen, we assume the position of seated meditation. Erect posture, firm yet relaxed. We maintain the position, regardless of what comes up in the mind. If we “wake up” to find ourselves sagging a bit, we simply re-assume the position and continue sitting. By assuming the position, we are kinglike, self-respecting, non-judging, accepting, relaxed. Whatever comes up, we welcome it. Simply by assuming the position and maintaining it, we become the attributes that we’ve assumed. Over time, equinimity, peace, understanding come.

In veganism, we assume the diet of non-harming. We avoid all animal products; meat, dairy, fish. These foods are associated with the suffering of animals (including dairy — which I did not realize until recently). Even if we aren’t sure we care, or how we feel about the animals, by assuming the position we reap the benefits. Over time we allow ourselves to look deeply into our food, and we make space for our compassion. We may also begin to look and feel healthier and more energetic. We don’t need to have fully analyzed the consequences of this dietary position. Analysis is no substitute for experience anyway. We can simply assume the position, and over time, peace and compassion come.

In our daily lives, we can assume the position of happiness. Wherever we are, whenever we are, we can decide to put on a big smile and act as though we love life and are wonderfully happy. Even if we are not happy, assuming this position does its work. When we smile a big, thorough, genuine smile, and maintain it, we may find ourselves becoming happy in spite of our previous feelings. With time and practice, joy grows within us.

on high speed rail, and job creation

My US House Representative, Albio Sires, recently wrote an op-ed entitled Making high-speed rail a national priority. In it, he argues that among the benefits of a nationally-funded high-speed rail project are economic benefits:

During our nation’s prolonged period of economic challenges, it is my goal and the goal of many of my colleagues to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Investing in infrastructure is one of the most sound policy choices to meet this non-partisan objective. Studies estimate that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, 18,000 jobs will be created.

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eating plants can make you smarter

There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.
– Lao Tzu

Eating plants is sweet. Based on my own experience, switching to a plant-based diet is one of the easiest ways to get to enjoy life more. Among the many benefits, I never suspected it would make me smarter. I’m totally convinced it does now. Here’s how.

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funny thought

I wonder if the dolphins are smarter than us.

Perhaps they have language and they can talk to each other when they want to.

Perhaps they’re aware of people and just as capable as us of creating machines, buildings, boats, computers.. but why, they say? What could be better than to swim in the sea, dancing and playing and experiencing true freedom?

If this were true, dolphins would be resolving themselves to take only what nature offers, and accept whatever nature decides to take away. Perhaps that’s the only sustainable existence anyway, and maybe they know it but we don’t.

Just a funny thought.