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mardi 22 octobre 2013


Rick Hansen in Buddha's Brain: p 98
Find Refuge in whatever is a sanctuary and refueling station for you. Potential refuges include people, activities, places, intangible things like reason, a sense of your innermost feeling or truth.
I have always felt the comfort of a refuge, which in the past many years has been traveling to see friends and of course participate in some humanitarian medical activities.
When I suggest to my friends, shall we meet in Easter Island? the response is almost universal, Easter Island is too far!
Then I thought to myself, my monthly visits to the Indian Reservations attract very little interest from Americans but it attracts a lot of attention from foreigners. While none of my American friends have visited me in my Reservation Sojourns, I have had visitors come from 
Karigasniemi, Lapland, Finland
Cologne, Germany
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Honolulu, Hawaii
Toyama, Japan
Paris, France
Kingston, Jamaica
KL, Malaysia

Obviously travel is an idea for some, a relaxation for others, a refuge for some other. 
Since I am the traveler, I have always made special efforts to go and see my friends, whether they live in Buenos Aires or Buffalo.
Recently, some newly made Danish friends invited to Aarhus and I told them, it is a dangerous thing to say to me, because I would come.

I have always enjoyed meeting friends in third countries, which is neither mine or theirs
or even smaller cities, such as San Antonio in Texas
If you have a friend who also finds refuge in Travel, it is truly fantastic to run into them in various places across the globe.
My good friend JH from Bogor and I have met each other in 
Phnom Penh

I have had japanese visitors meet me in New York, Miami, Puerto Ordaz, Cochin, Yangon, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. Vietnamese visitors had come to KL, as well as a visitor from Teheran.

For two years from 2008 to 2010, the regular refuge visit was to KL, in 2005 it was Japan, around this time, Myanmar was also a refuge.
And of course, if you are tired of visiting London, you are tired of life, as Samuel Johnson brilliantly said, centuries ago.
The sensation is very different from traveling with someone, discovering new places together. Refuge strengthens your mind, and the pleasure of meeting a good friend relaxes your system.
Lately, my refuges seem to follow a pattern
Miami, which is home
La Habana, which is another home

KL , Bogor, Phnom Penh

and Mexico!

Eating well has always been a fringe benefit of these travels.

and Jiddu Krishnamurti would say:

If you are aware of outward things—the curve of a road, the shape of a tree, the colour of another’s dress, the outline of the mountains against a blue sky, the delicacy of a flower, the pain on the face of a passerby, the ignorance, the envy, the jealousy of others, the beauty of the earth—then, seeing all these outward things without condemnation, without choice, you can ride on the tide of inner awareness. Then you will become aware of your own reactions, of your own pettiness, of your own jealousies. From the outward awareness, you come to the inward; but if you are not aware of the outer, you cannot possibly come to the inner…When there is inward awareness of every activity of your mind and your body; when you are aware of your thoughts, of your feelings, both secret and open, conscious and unconscious, then out of this awareness there comes a clarity that is not induced, not put together by the mind. - Krishnamurti, The Collected Works vol XV p 243

lundi 21 octobre 2013


What is this emotional charge that can raise the heart beat of normal law abiding citizens?
Is it the fear of the other? Someone whom you do not understand?
Jacobo Timmerman, the Argentine writer and political activist, asked his Jewish mother: Why do they hate us? To which, his mother replied, they hate us because they don't understand us.
I will give you a news item that appeared in BBC News and would dare you to guess in which part of the world the scenario is unfolding?
USA? Canada? Australia? New Zealand? France? Moscow? Beijing? Elsewhere? UAE? Qatar?
This city was built on the premise of Immigration. Unlike Australia or USA where there was a native culture which flourished before, this city was a marsh with no water supply and an occasional stop over for pirates from the nearby archipelago.
The self styled “heartlanders”, people who have been here the longest, mainly children of immigrants now denounce in no uncertain terms the policy of their government over the rapid rise of both low wage immigrants who do most of the dirty work and millionaires from corrupt countries who can safe keep their millions here. Foreigners now make up close half of the population, from whom they are not distinguishable by colour, dress or religion.
The “locals” blame the immigrants for the rise in property prices and for “taking our jobs”
This country which was an artificial creation of post colonial political puzzle, has no history to speak of, but has relied on the government to do the best, which it did at a time of rapid global expansion in technology providing its citizens with a good standard of living, one of the highest in the world.
Most of the descendants whose families cannot claim to have more than one hundred years in the national territory now want that privilege denied to others who had come after them.
I have heard this story in the USA; those who come here without permission should go back, referring to Mexicans but forgetting themselves came there without permission.
The disease has spread to Europe. In Hungary, Greece, even liberal countries like Holland, Denmark and Sweden, anti immigration parties have gained support from the general public.
(in many wealthier European countries, the public schools are predominantly attended by children of immigrants. Here a group of ten girls are out for a Physical Education Class in an European Capital and five of the ten are wearing hijab, marking them as observant moslems)
The dislike of the other and blaming them for social ills has a long history in Europe. Jews were blamed for the Plague in the middle ages and of course, the Nazis blamed the Jews for the ills of their society.
Lawrence van der Post so eloquently wrote about why the White and Black men of Southern Africa disliked the native San/Bushmen people. He said, these innocent people were like man-child and closest to the creation of The Supreme Being which was resented by the later comers to their land.
I remember listening to an Old Maori in Otahu peninsula in Aotearoa, which they renamed, New Zealand: Pakeha came and he will leave one day. American Indians have a similar prophecy that brown skinned people would once again populate their country. They don't have to wait much longer. It is estimated that by year 2035, the white population of the America would comprise less than 50% of the population!
We cannot go back on history. Aryans came from the North and Savages from Uzbekistan ruled India for three hundred years before British took over. The native population of India, the indigenous Australoid races and Dravidian races are squeezed out of their original lands, even though it was hundreds of years ago. France cannot ask its 5 million Muslim citizens to go back to the Maghreb, or UK asking its Black British from Africa, India, Pakistan and the Caribbean to leave its shores.
Immigrants are here to stay and only in one country I have felt that despite some reservation from the minority fascist party of that country, the diversity is used for the betterment of the entire country.
So which country was I writing about in the beginning where the vitriolic voices of the “local born” want a restriction of Immigration?
It is SINGAPORE, an artificial creation of a city state, governed well by the authoritarian state which gave its citizen first world living standards in return for stern loyalty.

jeudi 17 octobre 2013


Like most western educated Medical Doctors, I was not that interested in the Mind Body Connection in Health while I was a Medical Student, Resident in Internal Medicine and a Fellow in Endocrinology in three different continents.
It was the last month of my Endocrine Fellowship which I extended to one more year so that I can experience and educate myself about the various Endocrine disorders at our excellent teaching hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
I have in this country now for four years and I know nothing about the original inhabitants of this land. Why don't I spend the last month of my Fellowship as an Elective with a group of American Indians?
A call to an agency in Chicago assigned me to a tribe in Iowa. Even my travel agent at that time, a Cuban transplant to Miami, did not know whether any airlines flew into Iowa but managed to book me a flight into Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Indians were waiting!
I was very vigilant with this traditional tribe and they were treating me with great respect in return. At the end of the week, a group of elders came and explained a few things to me. Inviting me to speak at the graduation ceremony one week hence at the local Indian school.
Very soon I realized that what I had learned in Medical School would have to complimented by in depth studies in cross cultural ways of thinking and understanding. I was lucky to be enrolled in a postgraduate programme in Medical Anthropology at Brunel University of London and studied under Prof Ronnie Frankenberg and Prof Cecil Hellman.
Indians slowly began teaching me about this universe we all inhabit in. From identifying myself as a professional wearing a white coat, they explained to me who was the person or self living beneath that white coat (I gave up wearing white coat then and to this day do not wear white coats).
Over a long period of time, I began to understand their philosophy a little bit. And was taught humility by teachers who said: What a pity you are not smart enough to learn everything we can teach you!
A lot of good people began traversing the path into my life, my gratitude for such a life grew. Jamaica and Cuba contributed more than its share and since 2002, it was South East Asia, while the fires of Australia, USA and Europe were kept burning. Luck favoured me again in 2008 when a bubbly accountant from Malaysia began talking to me about Yogic Philosophy and introduced me to Kleishas, and I began understanding Jiddu Krishnamurty and also the Buddhist Philosophy
It is a long way for a Jewish boy from Caulfield in Melbourne to have travelled!
Rick Hanson explains in his book Buddha’s Brain, the Buddhist philosophy and how it can affect the plasticity of the brain and it makes sense to read it from both Buddhist philosophical and Neuroscientific points of view.
He says:
Find refuge in whatever is a sanctuary and refuelling station for you. Potential refuges include people, activities, places, and intangible things like reason, a sense of your innermost being or truth.
Friends in North America, except my brothers in Portland used to ask me: why do you travel to South East Asia so much? Since 2008, I have averaged at least five trips per year to SE Asia
Perhaps it is the refuge it offers me, as a place, the humanitarian projects I am involved in or the idea of the simple pleasures of enjoying the air and the food and the scenery.
I realized that most people would not have the luxury of visiting me if I stayed put in one place so I have to find time and means to travel to see them. That meant a change in career plans from becoming a Professor of Medicine in Australia or USA to be with people who would understand my wanderings as well as afford me an opportunity to help them with whatever they need within the scope of my medical and anthropological expertise.
A good friend among the Yakama suggested: why don't you put down what you are thinking about American Indian philosophy, Yogic/Buddhist philosophy and how to use it for the betterment of ones body, mind and spirit.
I will attempt it, as the time goes by. The first person that came to my mind was Black Elk Hehaka Sapa in Lakota language
I highly recommend his Black Elk Speaks for an in-depth reading.

Elder's Meditation of the Day - October 17
"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX
Explanation of the above by some Indian elders
If we are to know peace we must look within ourselves. In order to do this, we must learn to be still. We must quiet the mind. We must learn to meditate. Meditation helps us locate and find the center that is within ourselves. The center is where the Great One resides. When we start to look for peace, we need to realize where it is within ourselves. When we experience conflict we need to pause for a moment and ask the Power within ourselves, "How do you want me to handle this? What would you suggest I do in this situation?" By asking the Higher Power for help we find peace.

For those familiar with Jiddu Krishnamurty would find resonance of these words. One thing is for sure, the philosophical thinking has been given to us over the generations and it does
not progress like science or technology, superseding the previous known truth. Truth must not be confused with convenience Like in the Jewish Commentaries, Talmud, most of the philosophies are commentaries which embellish our desire to learn about truth and self and the universe, in the context of living in this century and in this society. Some extraordinary people, like Buddha or Krishnamurty have intimate understanding of this universal connection and are able to explain it well or put it down in words for future generations.
Buddha 25 centuries ago, Black Elk from the past century, Black Elk from the 19th century and JKM from the 20th.all expounded on very similar situations in the minds of people and their quest for oneness. Called by different names by different cultures and different religions.
Do the following words resonate within your heart?

It was JKM who said:
We are that which we possess. The man who possesses money is the money. The man who identifies himself with property is the property, or the house or the furniture. Similarly, with ideas or with people, and when there is possessiveness, there is no relationship. But most of us possess because we have nothing else if we do not possess. We are empty shells if we do not possess, if we do not fill our life with furniture, with music, with knowledge, with this or that. And that shell makes a lot of noise, and that noise we call living, and with that we are satisfied. And when there is a disruption, a breaking away of that, then there is sorrow because then you suddenly discover yourself, as you are—an empty shell, without much meaning. - Krishnamurti, The Collected Works vol V, p 297

I am grateful for the people in my life who give me the gift of time, even if I have to go thousands of miles to receive it, I am very grateful.

After many years of being with Indians, if someone asks me for a definition of Spirituality, I would say:
I am not sure I am the person to ask, but it feels something like the connection you have with the universe.


Epidemiologists are bureaucrats of Western Medicine. They are usually male, middle aged; White and lack people skill or communications skills but brilliantly hide behind numbers, which they crunch, using tools they or their colleagues invent. They do not do field studies, nor are they clinicians who have to take care of sick people. Epidemiologists not only are ignorant of sicknesses affecting the individuals but are experts in creating sicknesses by manipulating numbers, one such thing being, Pre-Hypertension, Metabolic syndrome etc.
They can predict and given the responsibility to do so by the governmental agencies so that health policies for the societies could be drawn up. What a pity!
During my career I have seen them come up with “patch work” causes of one single physical manifestation, Obesity, which was recently got into the hall of fame as a Disease. One would study would show that single mothers were overweight, as if it is the fact that they are single mothers is the primary cause or association.
(a very successful north american export)
Having now seen 97 causes or associations why a person becomes OBESE, I am convinced that further epidemiological studies are not to be trusted. Lately studies are emerging to say that what they said earlier is not true. Such is life.

On the other hand, scientifically oriented, clinically minded researchers are coming up some good answers or solutions. An excellent paper from Finland on twins could show that there are metabolically healthy and metabolically unhealthy overweight and obese people. Fatty liver was the distinguishing feature there.
Of course we all know what causes NAFLD, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The epidemiologists will tell you that it is associated with Type 2 Diabetes but more and more scientific research is pointing the other way, it is the fatty liver that may be causing the type 2 Diabetes.
So we now have metabolically healthy overweight and metabolically unhealthy overweight categories  (MHO vs. MUO?). It is also an explanation of why only a very small percentage of Overweight or Obese people ever get Type 2 Diabetes.
Of course no one wants to take on the food industry (McDo is a sponsor at International Diabetes Federation meetings and how many of these mavens who would be speaking at IDF in Melbourne in December 2013 are on speaking trips for food industry or drug companies, I would guess upwards of 59%)(I have become so sensitive to this issue that if ever I see the name Fonseca or Groop on a panel or an article, I don't read it or listen to them)
There is no doubt that the so-called nouveau western diet: high is processed food is the cause of Fatty Liver, not the carbohydrate or protein or fat but the quality of these ingredients. If ever you saw what they do to cattle in the “farms” in the state of Nebraska you may never want to eat meal again, because of the high infiltration of antibiotics, growth hormones and other plastic in the cattle feed.
So the recent issue of JAMA Surgery journal had the news that BMI (the measure of obesity or overweight) had the least predictive risk factor for mortality rate over 10 years in obese patients.
First of all, I looked up the original article, not “readers digest” kind of free medical literature sent to the doctors on a daily basis by the drug company supported journalists.
Before reading the article, I checked out the lead author, Dr Padwal. He is a practising physician, not an office-based epidemiologist without any contact with patients and this doctor actually looks after the illness in obese people.

Next to see their affiliations. The authors are university-affiliated people but the main support for their research comes from the State Government and the University. They do have some commercial ties but it does not seem to be with any of the heavy weights (sorry for the pun).
Conclusion was simple and straightforward: In patients who are obese, all cause 10 year mortality can be estimated using a simple 4 variable prediction based on age, sex, smoking and diabetes mellitus. BODY MASS INDEX WAS NOT AN IMORTANT MORTALITY PREDICTOR.
Ah, well. Another one of the trumpets of the troubadours of tragedy, the Epidemiologists, is silenced.
One of the axioms I have learned from the Oppressed First Nation/Aboriginal/Native people

Try to be Healthy in the Body you have..