No one has ever become poor by giving


The dark side of rare earth mining

Many components of modern day (consumer) technologies use rare earths like cerium and neodymium. Contrary to what the name suggests, these minerals are just as common as nickel or copper. While China only has 30% of the world’s deposits it produces 90% of the world’s supply. The reason for this is the fact that the extraction process involves  chemicals like sulfuric and nitric acid on an industrial scale producing vast amounts of toxic waste. China apparently does not shy away from the environmental impact. The article below features Baotou, the centre of China’s rare earth mining industry. Baotou has an artifical lake consisting of toxic waste water only.

We reached the shore, and looked across the lake. I’d seen some photos before I left for Inner Mongolia, but nothing prepared me for the sight. It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the byproduct not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited about in the West.


After seeing the impact of rare earth mining myself, it’s impossible to view the gadgets I use everyday in the same way. As I watched Apple announce their smart watch recently, a thought crossed my mind: once we made watches with minerals mined from the Earth and treated them like precious heirlooms; now we use even rarer minerals and we’ll want to update them yearly. Technology companies continually urge us to upgrade; to buy the newest tablet or phone. But I cannot forget that it all begins in a place like Bautou, and a terrible toxic lake that stretches to the horizon.

Physiological mechanism of yoga

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have discovered the mechanism behind the physiological effects of yoga. Yoga practice apparently increases vagal tone, the activity of the vagal nerve that is involved in the regulation of many bodily functions such as digestion, breathing, heartrate and stressresponse. Increased vagal tone improves all these functions while a decrease in vagal tone is associated with PTSD and depression. Read more on:


Wood Wide Web

It seems that we are not the first species to have developed an internet. Apparently plants ‘talk’ to eachother using the mycelium of fungi. The part of fungi we’re most familiar with, the mushroom, is only its reproductive organ, the ‘body’ is a network called the mycelium. Many funghi and plants are known to engage in a symbiosis called mycorrhiza, where the roots of the plant connect to the mycelium of the fungus. The plant provides the fungus with food in the form of carbohydrates, while fungus provides nitrogen and phosporous and helps the plants pump up water. The presence of the fungus also activates the plants immune system helping the plant protect itself against pathogens.

But what’s truly amazing, plants several meters away from eachother exchange food and information through this network, researcher now call the Wood Wide Web. Plants in the shade unable to produce enough food are sustained by other plants through the mycelium. Plants also communicate the presence of pathogens or other pests to neighouring plants in this way. Apart from these beneficial effects some plants use the mycelium to leech nutrients from other plants or use the network to disperse chemicals that prevent the growth of competing plants. Research now suggests that most plants in a forest are connected in this way a scenario that beckons of the  movie Avatar where all life on the moon Pandora is connected in a similar way.

Competition on any level is so often justified as something natural, referencing to the ‘law of the jungle’ and ‘survival of the fittest’. This shows that cooperation is just as natural, if not more natural.

For the full article check out:


The idea of the ‘soul mate’

Question: The problem seems to be that when you are in a relationship, in the beginning everything is happening, but when you marry that person it changes.  I’ve been in several relationships, major relationships, and been married and divorced twice and I’m searching for something special.  Something I’ve been told has been called a soul mate.  Do you believe in such a relationship or person and what would that mean?  How would I know that?

Ram Dass: Got it!   Keep looking!   I’ll give you the farthest out answer first of all and then we’ll come back to something that everybody can handle.  In the farthest out answer, we have all been around so many times that every one of us has been everything with everybody else.  So when I look at you, you and I have been in so many relationship s together.  It’s just that we don’t remember.   Do you know how many times we have been born and died?  Remember that story, Buddha says:  If you take a mountain six miles long and six miles wide and six miles high, that’s the distance a bullock walks in a day.  And a bird flies over the mountain once every hundred years with a silk scarf in its beak and brushes the tip of the mountain.  In the length of time it takes the scarf to wear away the mountain, that’s how long you have been doing this.  Just think about that.  Once every hundred years the scarf goes over.   A scarf and a mountain.   It goes on and on and on.   In India there are Yugas and Kalpas of hundreds of thousands of years and then they just start cycles all over again.   And we’ve been through all of them again and again and again and again.

Now, behind all of it is the One.  And that is all there is.  All of us here are one in drag, appearing to be many.  So we are all “soul mate”.  There is only one of it.  It’s not mate, because it’s not even two.  It’s only one.  There’s only one of us.  So what you’re really doing is constantly marrying yourself at the deepest level of God marrying God.  Now you come down into soul.  And each soul has a unique karmic predicament  (you could call it a psychic DNA code) that in a way guides which way its life will go.  And it is entirely possible that souls when they take birth into parents that are part of their Karma, will at some point meet a being and they have agreed in advance to come down and do this together and meet.  And that’s what we usually call soul mates.

What you have found from your past marriages is that what you are attracted to in a person isn’t what you ultimately live with.  After the honeymoon is over — it’s after the desire systems that were dormant in the relationship that have the attraction in it pass  and all of it passes — then you are left with the work to do.  And it’s the same work.   When you trade in one partner for another, you still have the same work.  You’re going to have to do it sooner or later when the pizzazz is over.  And it just keeps going over.  And you can’t milk the romanticism of relationship too long as you become more conscious.  It’s more interesting than that.  It really is.  And people keep wanting to romanticize their lives all the time.  It’s part of the culture.  But the awakening process starts to show you the emptiness of that forum.  And you start to go for something deeper.  You start to go to meet another human being in truth.  And truth is scary.  Truth has bad breath at times; truth is boring; truth burns the food; truth is all the stuff.  Truth has anger; truth has all of it.  And you stay in it and you keep working with it and your keep opening to it and you keep deepening it.  Every time you trade in a partner, you realize that there’s no good or bad about it.  I’m not talking good or bad about this.

But you begin to see how you keep coming to the same place in relationships, and then you tend to stop.  Because it gets too heavy.  Because your identity gets threatened too much.  For the relationship to move to the next level of truth requires an opening and a vulnerability that you’re not quite ready to make.  And so you entrench, you retrench, you pull back and then you start to judge and push away and then you move to the next one.  And then you have the rush of the openness and then the same thing starts to happen.  And so you keep saying “Where am I going to find the one when this doesn’t happen?”  And it will only happen when it doesn’t happen in you.  When you start to take and watch the stuff and get quiet enough inside yourself, so you can take that process as it’s happening and start to work with it.  And keep coming back to living truth in yourself or the other person even though it’s scary and hard.