Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gossip is Good for Nothing

When my niece was six years old, she had a run in with one of her adult relatives. No one told me about this altercation until a few months later. Family fights are an unpleasant subject and in my family of origin these unpleasantries were swept under the proverbial carpet.

Since I was close to said niece, I asked her why she had not shared this troubling encounter. She said, "You have to talk to the person you have the problem with."

Flabbergasted by this wise reply, I decided to take her advice. Talking to a third party about an issue (other than your therapist) often results in that third party talking to the person with whom you have the problem. And like a game of telephone, if the information is not relayed directly by you to the offender, it gets distorted. People love drama and tend to interject more negatively charged enthusiasm into an account than what one intended to convey.

Is this why gossip is considered a no-no in many world religions and ethical circles?

My mother used to say, "If you don't want anyone to know something, don't tell anyone."

Good advice not often practiced by me, and when gossip does fly from my lips, it always boomerangs back to me with avengance. Although my learning curve has improved over the years, periodically there is blow back from one of my impromptu vents to a third party.

Wise men and women are people of few words. To speak consciously, without giving unsolicited advice or passing judgement, challenges the speaker to set a high bar. Conscious, loving conversation and communication are an art form that needs practice.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Medium Speaks Again

I saw James Van Praagh for a second time last night. Same venue, same marketing heading, but an entirely different show.

James claims that he never knows what spirit will direct him to do, and true to his word, the tone of night number two was quite different from the initial performance he put on the day before. (Maybe he got the vibe that he was viewed as leading a dog and pony show.) 

On the second round, he did a wonderful group meditation, told way less jokes (although a few standards were repeated), and the people for whom he read shed more tears - indicating that he had touched their hearts.

The most interesting part of the two-night experience was witnessing a public figure who was more or less in present time, reacting to the moment instead of a memorized script. And that's what it's all about. Anyone with a real connection to spirit knows that energy changes with the speed of thought. The split second the gestalt of the room changes, a good medium will pivot and respond to the "what is" to address the needs popping up.

Sitting in a room full of people whose intention is to lift the veils between themselves and the multidimensional world, where there is no death, is an uplifting experience.

All is well with the world today.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Medium Speaks

Last night I went to a lecture/demonstration by the famous medium James Van Praagh. Having trained with him about 15 years ago and being a practitioner of that art myself, I was curious to see him all these years later. Knowing how the process works, I wanted to see how he dealt with the fact that no medium, no matter how fabulous, has 100% accuracy. He stands before crowds of hundreds while I sit with one person. No matter. When someone pays money and expects real results, trust must be engendered despite a less than perfect batting average.

When I studied with him, his first book came out in the last week of our class and it became an instant best-seller; his career skyrocketed from there and Part II of our class never came to pass. But we got it: love, forgiveness, and healing are the real purposes of connecting with spirit. Or as a famous Tibetan lama once said, "Have no unfinished business." So if you didn't get around to peacemaking with a loved one in human body, then a medium can come in handy.

That being said, James has had such overwhelming success in his career that the more subdued medium of yesteryear has become quite the entertainer to enliven the crowds he pulls in. I get it. Talking to the dead could spook folks so a few jokes and song might lighten things up.

Starting off with two songs from a quintessentially groomed gospel-trained church singer Thelma Jones, James bounces on stage after she rocks the house. The crowd is warming up. Then he jokes, "I am not a medium. I'm a large," in reference to his body type that resembles a gigantic beach ball. That's funny, James.

This is not a newspaper review of his performance so I'll get to the point of why this evening was valuable to me even if his schtick bored me silly. I knew what he was doing and while he spewed out endless details about the spirit who connected with a person in the audience (a son, an uncle, a mother), and people were transfixed, his entertainment style was like a dog and pony show to me.

But...but...he set an intention at the beginning of the evening: no matter which individual in the audience got a reading from him - the words, the energies present, were for all the people there; to be open to what may come.

I knew my recently departed husband wouldn't prod James to speak to me because he already has direct access. No need for a backup medium. I also knew that there were spirits and people in the audience who really needed James' reading that night and would take priority over a person the likes of myself.

So, when I realized that I had to sit there for two hours jammed in like a sardine, the obvious thing was to do a reading for myself and see who would come in. (Michael was already there with me, playfully jabbing my ribs and laughing at the irony of me sitting in this venue.)

And voila! His mother Violaine showed up. She had refused to see me in real life and had also disavowed two of her real female offspring. Heretofore, she never wanted to communicate in spirit either; a stubborn woman indeed.

After working with her and one of her departed daughters to peace make (they both missed early nurturing from their mothers, a generational issue), they happily skipped off into the ethers arm in arm. 

I marveled. James created a space for the entire audience to make a connection and it worked.

As he reminded those present, judgement blocks the good things in life and I am ever so thankful for his reminder. Despite my "insiders" view of the tricks of the trade, my critical mind slipped away as I rode the waves of the collective and hit a home run, to mix a few metaphors.

He says that we are not humans with a soul; rather we are souls having a human experience in this school called life. Perhaps he is right.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blood Lines

Certain choice dogs, horses, cats and other creatures are subjected to selective breeding by their human owners. The bloodlines of these animals are of tantamount importance because the offspring from said champions yield big bucks in the marketplace.

In the human sphere, bloodlines also play a large role when it comes to the passage of money and property from one generation to the next. As this blogger is at the cusp of what is termed "old age," she and many of her friends have experienced the death of parents. In the case of those whose parents had assets to pass on, an interesting phenomenon has been observed.

In this modern age where divorce and remarriage happens, we get what my mother once called "the over-extended family." In a mixture of half-siblings, step-siblings, and full siblings, combined with step-parents and blood parents, the question of bloodlines versus emotional family ties makes for quite the stew...and plenty to stew over when the wills are read.

In the case of family ties created by social interactions of people not related genetically, the default position for inheritance usually follows the bloodlines. Naturally, this common scenario produces hurt, anger, resentment and often ill will by the family member not in the bloodline of the benefactor. And possibly for good reason; after having been treated as a real family member, when the rubber meets the road the dough goes to the genetically connected family member.

This trend bespeaks of an ancient, tribal mentality where genetic lineages signified the survival of the clan. In todays world, this notion is outmoded, yet our ancestral voices echo through the ages and dictate our decisions in the 21st century.

Although there are no right answers to the question of inheritance via blood lies versus social family ties, one thing is for sure. We will all become dirt one day, leaving behind every earthly possession. While we are here, no matter who gets the goods - or the short end of the stick - peace, harmony, compassion and gratitude are by far the greater inheritance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Daily Grind

For a Starbucks addict, the "daily grind" could signify an exciting new blend, akin to "specials" that high end restaurants feature. For a factory worker with a robotic job, it might mean something entirely different; a pay check that wears away body and soul. For a parent who has good food to feed the children, the momentum of getting healthy nutrients into their bodies might get old after years of negotiation; for the parent who has no food to feed their children, it might be the never-ending daily struggle to find a few scraps to ward off starvation.

Another type of "daily grind" lies buried deep within the recesses of the mind and can afflict the poor, the middle-class, the wealthy, and people of all nationalities. That tedium springs from ignoring life's purpose. Like a hamster on a treadmill, the person who lives an unexamined life runs frantically trying to get somewhere yet finds himself caught inextricably in the wheel of samsara.

Every day when the sun's light strikes the horizon, an opportunity presents itself to live the examined life. Like a surgeon who cuts out diseased tissue, self reflection can root out thoughts and emotions that rob one's life energy and the joy of breathing.

We are truly alive when we wake up.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Great Ones

At any one point in history, great men and women walk the planet thoroughly steeped in the consciousness of Love. Sometimes their prominence shines publicly as thousands flock around them for inspiration, healing, and evolution towards enlightened mind.

Others emanate their refined vibrational presence within a small circle of fortunate individuals who cross their path. I recently encountered such a teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, privileged to experiece his unceasing dedication to prayer, meditation, and wise counseling. His healing presence transformed my aching heart with a hand mudra that he effortlessly displayed .

Could we not also lead a life following the example of this miracle of mankind? And possibly, with this life-affirming love, create a heaven on earth?

One obvious answer: someone must be a manager, a worker, or an organizer of a society. No matter how simple a social structure, nonetheless people need to eat, build shelters, and clothe themselves. The logical person might also respond that not everyone has the karma or the innate inclination to spend their life in prayer and meditation; humans are party-animals and social gatherings make for a certain joie de vivre.

Yet, at the very least, we could spend part of our day in mindful awareness, a trend that is spreading in slow motion throughout this land. Even 60 Minutes had a segment on this meditative practice, with Anderson Cooper spending a weekend learning how to meditate. Probably a more useful segment than the ones where he swims with sharks and alligators, he says it was a "life changer."

If a busy anchorman can do it, so can we. Anger management classes teach people to count to ten before responding and that pause seems to mitigate a destructive response. So if every person on the planet took a minimum of 15 minutes day, and much more if possible, then image how much more conscious and careful our thoughts and actions might be.

Many of us are somewhat cynical, giving the cycles of war and violence that have plagued civilization since the dawn of recorded history. Nonetheless, the dream of an evolved mankind must not be lost in the melee of conflict on a personal or national level. If enough people begin to practice mindful awareness and expand those moments to saturate waking moments, then anything is possible.


Sunday, January 18, 2015


Repeat "Press-urgh," rapidly like a tongue twister, and the tongue defaults to the familiar word "pressure." Either way, this little gimmick holds within it a metaphor for a trend hotly debated in the media.

Many news outlets have refused to air the new cover of  Charlie Hedbo, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign that says, "Je suis Charlie," and a phrase above his head, "All is forgiven." The inclusion of this phrase is remarkable under the circumstances and the consciousness of the cartoonists who created it should be lauded.

Alas, there was pressure from within the ranks of CNN, MSNBC, Al Jezeera and other international media outlets not to show this new cover for fear of more reprisals from the true infidels (the terrorists).

There is some truth to both sides of the argument:

1) Insane fanatics can't take a joke, so why provoke more acts of gratuitous violence (which have already occurred in some parts of the world)? Would you deliberately stick your hand in a hornets' nest?

2) Respecting the wishes of madmen can only lead to more madness. For example, the appeasement of Hitler at the onset of his incursion into Europe was blunder of colossal proportions.

It is easy to pass an armchair judgement, but one detail is undeniable. Defenders of human rights and freedom of speech often become martyrs for the cause, but because of their heroic and fearless stand, pave the way for the rest of us.

Not every person has the courage to demonstrate when the consequences could be life-threatening (as is the case in many parts of the world today) but thank the All-That-Is for those people.

Fearlessness and discriminating wisdom are the two sides of the coin. Which one is the winner in this coin toss?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Alone Versus Together

The parents of teenagers often hear a refrain from their offspring: "Leave me alone!" Conversely, this age group craves the company of their peers; the result of merriment by these developing hominoids can be chaotic.

So why do creatures sometimes want to be alone and at other times cling to the presence of like-minded souls?

In the relative world, we actually have two worlds - the inner world and the outer world - although in reality they form a continuum with dividing line (molecular love-making). Creating a harmonious balance between alone time and social time can be an art form.

Having been habituated to "together time" in a marriage of thirty years, where my husband and I had home offices, I am finding it an interesting challenge to appreciate "alone time." When Michael was alive, it was nice to occasionally have the house to myself for a few hours. He was not a noisy fellow but had high octane brain power; the electricity generated by this 3 pound organ was palpably felt throughout the house.

Now, quiet time more resembles the stillness of a home hastily evacuated by its occupant in anticipation of a military offensive...eerily the same yet absent of the person who helped create the nest.

If everything exists as a perception in the mind of the observer, then my daily task is to reframe "alone" and "together." Today, I am together with the plants, the fresh air, and the internet that provides me with links. While some might think the company of plants a bore, well, try planting and growing them and they will speak! Today Mother Earth is my companion and she is indeed sweetas the incarnation of a Southern California 70 degree Farenheit day.

As long as perception is malleable, then "alone" and "together" become relative concepts. May we be alone when we want peace and may we be together when we want nourishment. And the outward appearance makes no difference.

Friday, January 16, 2015


There have been controversies swirling around the behavior of religious leaders of all stripes for centuries. Leaving aside those who have clearly forgotten that killing is a sin against Love, another kind of violence has cropped up amongst  spiritual teachers.

Called "sexual misconduct," this phrase applies to gurus, rabis, roshis, rinpoches, imams, priests, ministers etc. who grope the faithful or have the faithful grope them. While it is illegal for a therapist or a school teacher to behave thus, the lines are more blurred in the private sector (no pun intended).

Of course anyone can sue anyone for sexual harrasment or worse. But in the enlightenment profession, seekers are more likely to be confused about the motives of the spiritual teacher than if their therapist hit on them whilst on the proverbial couch.

Many students involved in religious/spiritual traditions claim that their teacher is enlightened, but this seems a suspect assumption. If the student is not enlightened, how do they know that their teacher is -  aside from the PR generated by the teacher's inner circle? That assumption of infallibility is where the trouble begins.

Leaving that question to be decided by some other innocent, there is only one barometer with which to check to the motives of your teacher; the gut feeling.

It might be hard to trust your intuition if you never listened to it before, having muted it to survive in the material world. However, fearlessness in tuning in, and listening to what you hear, is the only way to see a red flag and change course.

Fearless is usually associated with soldiers in battle, or fireman running into a burning house to save people. Those external manifestations may be true, but real fearlessness lies in the ability to check your intuition, check your logical thought process, and then act according to the information.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Odor Mystery

If you have ever entered a small public bathroom where the previous occupant has either 1) emptied the stomach's contents violently, or 2) emptied the colon's contents mightily, we would all agree that the smells evoke repulsion and a strong desire to exit that room posthaste.

Multiply that experience to every foul smell emitted by man or beast on the planet and the extent of the stench could reach proportions imaginable only to quantum physicists.

There is surely a scientific explanation why smells seem to be purified as they circulate the globe so that "fresh air" is still a viable concept in many rural and uninhabited places.

In the meantime, this uninformed blogger simply chooses to muse about this mysterious planet upon which we park our carcasses, in all its wondrous facets.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Boko Haram Who?

The wall to wall news coverage of terrorist attacks in Paris has been touching, especially the sight of 50 world leaders walking boldly, arm in arm, at the Unity Rally. (Did the USA think it unimportant to have our President or Vice-President there because France is outside our ethnocentric sphere, despite being our oldest ally?)

I learned from a French friend living in the provinces that in addition to the 1,500,000 strong in Paris, another 2,500,000 people marched in other areas of France, only to be ignored by the international media. She had hoped that the massive outpouring nationwide would be the hot topic, and not just enchanting Paris.

But then again, the pecking order lives on, firmly in place. At the bottom of newsworthy topics was the massacre of 2,000 villagers by the Boko Haram in Nigeria during a 6 day spell of hell. Is this not by sheer magnitude more horrific? 

It first came to my attention as my gaze was fixated on a gargantuan puppet of Lady Liberty floating through the Parisian throngs like an angelic vision. In small ticker tape going across the bottom of the TV screen, the Boko Haram massacre was being reported. While 24 hour visuals were being aired around Paris, there was nary a photo of what was taking place on "the dark continent."

There can only be one explanation. There still exists the notion of the superior "civilized" white man, while the tribal peoples in the heart off Africa seem less worthy. What else can explain this radical disparity in the reporting of human atrocities?

The Boko Haram represent the same insanity as ISIS, Al Queda, and the US army obliterating foreign lands to secure oil.

Once again, hard as it may be, the truth must one day peek through the clouds and shine the light upon us. Kindness, compassion, other values can save us from the alternative.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Blasphemy is Blasphemous

"Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable." (Wikepedia)

Blasphemy is a loaded word. The French banished blasphemy as a punishable crime thanks to the French Revolution circa 1789. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are ideas that underly the entire American Constitution and were inspired by the Enlightenment philosophers of France. 

The major media groups in the USA have been taken over by 4 conglomerates with a hidden agenda - insuring the bottom line of multinational corporations. Yet, when one looks at North Korea or countries under Shariah law, where freedom of speech delivers a death sentence, we in the West undoubtedly have greater liberties.

The 1,500,000 strong Unity Rally in Paris today underscores such liberty, with world leaders marching arm-in-arm. It affirms respect for life and underscores the ultimate blasphemy of the terrorists who killed in the streets of Paris: their disregard for the sanctity of human life.

Now, will the real God please stand up?

It is me, it is you, it is in every breath that we breathe as we share one planetary atmosphere. It is in the plants, the animals, the insects, the water, the rocks, and every other molecular construction of the universe. It is in every person, tribe, and nation on this planet.

I am both a French and American citizen - a child of the West. But let us not crow over the success of this amazing day of unity, impressive and historic though it may be. Remember! In recent centuries, it was the Western powers who colonized much of the world for its riches, who invited their subjugated peoples into a European homeland as a kind of "perk" for having had their lands raped for profit.

Terrorism, killing, is the ultimate blasphemy. And the law of karma will deliver with unerring precision a reminder of the blasphemy we committed against so many brothers and sisters in foreign lands.

What goes around comes around. Let a higher unity be the future of globalization.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Power Behind the Throne

"The power behind the throne" refers to women who exert mighty influence on their significant others, usually male, who occupy more visible positions in society. Apparently, it is such a common trend that this aphorism has survived multiple decades.

Leaving aside women who actually sit on the throne, such as Queen Elizabeth II, ample evidence exists to prove this theorem. Take General Petraus, for example, who was not only the head of the C.I.A. but the Supreme Commander of the armed forces in Afganistan. The government is seeking criminal charges against him for disclosing classified information to his mistress. 

And then there was the dude I dated back in the early 1980's who claimed to have worked for the US Government in Russia and was seduced by Svetlana, the gorgeous blonde KGB agent. He boasted of having enjoyed their pillow talk without disclosing state secrets; however this might have been an apocryphal tale.

The most astonishing example to date was given by an "expert" on the Jihadist movement and the role of women (not the ones in black birkas firing kalashnikovs through the peepholes of their shroud). Those to whom he referred are the wives, mothers and/or girlfriends of the martyrs, often said to be the backbone of resolve urging their men to kill infidels who dishonor the prophet.

This expert claims that when their men falter or question a mission, the women often turn up the heat to give them the juju to do their duty. 

As a feminist, my first thought: I am amazed that women have some influence in the strictest Islamic cultures. My second sardonic and wily female thought: what a clever strategy, my devout Islamic sister, to get rid of that domineering male who dictates your every move.

 As Martin Luther King Jr. once proclaimed, "Free at last, God Almighty, free at last!"

Friday, January 9, 2015

Retail Terrorism

A news reporter refered to the Charlie Hebdo and kosher grocery story attack in Paris as "retail terrorism," to be distinguished from "wholesale terrorism." Apparently, "retail terrorrism" refers to acts committed by individuals as opposed to "wholesale terrorism," which is state-sponsored.

The monikers assigned to these murderous acts are astonishing and tip us off to the real problem underlying an epidemic of radical fundamentalism. "Retail" and "wholesale" are terms used in the marketplace...the human moshpit where there are winners and losers in the contest for money, power and resources.

The political Rubiks Cube that has led to this dismal state of affairs resembles a bar brawl. One intoxicated person with unresolved anger takes a swing at another bloke, and in no time the whole joint is fighting. And nobody knows why.

Tracing the roots of our current state of world affairs would take us back to the dawn of civilization; history is replete with accounts of one civilization over running another - wholesale war. But now, with the ready availability of deadly weapons to the public (the retail market), we have a democratic movement. Anyone can get a gun and kill at will, without a draft or an enlisted army to oversee wholesale extermination. 

The fundamental problem lies in a misplaced emphasis on the dark side of human nature: the side that lives in fear of survival and must always be on alert for marauders who would take away their security. 

But there is also a bright side of humanity -  a basic goodness that recognizes the universal desire for happiness and harmony, a knowing that we are all the same at the core.

Recently, a refugee from religious/political violence explained that we need to focus on educating the children - the little ones whose minds have not yet been poisoned by delusional adults. While it may be impossible to untangle the knots of twisted adult minds, in the best of all possible worlds we could teach our children to love more and fear less. Then, when they are teenagers that want to shop, they can go to retail stores to buy smartphones instead of kalashnikovs.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Due to the horrific killings in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Americans will have learned a little French. Having domiciled with a Frenchman for decades, I learned a wee bit of this hard-to-learn language.

Without the guidance of my expert, I am going to venture recklessly into a linguistic analysis. There is a nuance in the phrase "Je suis Charlie," which translates literally as "I am Charlie." Technically, to introduce oneself by name, one would say, "Je m'appelle Charlie." 

Thus, when the native French speaker says "Je suis Charlie," it has a deeper ontological meaning: Charlie and I are one and the same being. What happens to Charlie happens to me in an interdependent universe.

As language follows consciousness and vice-versa, this phrase accurately reflects a new world order: we stand together as human beings, not tribal/religious identities that see "others" as disposable. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Dreaming Life

It has been said that the departed often use the dreamtime to communicate with the living, as the veils are thinner when one has parked the thinking mind in sleepy-time mode. Thus, a question often asked of me:

"Has Michael come to you in dreams?" 

The answer is yes, but...

My first dream after he passed was like all the other dreams from the 30 years we were in the physical together - a recurrent dream taking place in public spaces with lots of people surrounding us; we were always running hither and yon to accomplish an amorphous task. 

The second time he appeared in dream was as it is should be according to the mystics: cosmic, divine, and with a message. For the first few months after his death, I had been waking up with the desire not to wake up; my self-talk went something like this: "Oh shit, another day." After thinking thus for a few months, it dawned on me that a more positive message would serve my life on earth better. So upon awakening the next morning, I said to myself, "I love my life!"

Granted, it seemed like the consummate lie to tell myself, but the morning after, once again I proclaimed my love of life (not). Low and behold, Michael appeared to me in a dream on night #2 of such life-affirming proclamations. He was standing in a field of light, and his eyes were large green saucers emitting rays of golden light. The message: YES TO LIFE, you're getting it now!

One would think all is well after such an affirmative appearance by angel Michael. And yet last night, six months after his passing, I had a nightmare. We were thirty-something and he had decided to switch his affections from me to another woman of similar age. The entire night, my poor dream body was chasing him all over the place, trying to convince him to come back to no avail. Even now, as I write this blog, the remains of the nightmare sound a sour note. Go figure.

No matter what dreams may come, whether they be prophetic, habitual, or fear-based, we still have to carry on. The landscape is in perpetual motion and flow with it we must.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nature's Balm

Ten miles up a winding country road high in the Rocky Mountains, nestled in a panoramic spot, there lives an elderly couple who found their way out of Third World hell to a paradisaical mountain lifestyle. 

As a guest in their Shangrila for a few days, I was unaware of the subtle power of the wilderness until descending again to the freeways and byways of Denver (which hardly qualify as "city" compared to the likes of New Delhi or New York).

To put it succinctly, I was floating in blissful peace for at least five hours once back in "civilization." Had it been the fresh mountain air? Or the energetic force of Nature,
unencumbered by human pollution? Or the company of seasoned human beings that have known suffering and created peace instead?

Even if my own abode hardly resembles a hell realm, the distant hum of traffic, the leaf blowers, the cookie cutter lawns - not to speak of the mundane complaints of the well fed - all subtly erode the core of well being with a persistent drone.

Those who fight to preserve open spaces, refuges for wild life, clean air and fresh water are on to something. We must replenish the pristine nature of Mother Earth; only by being in tune with her power will all be well.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Emotional Contagion

This  might sound ridiculous but the other day I got angry that two of my friends were angry at each other. I was only a casual onlooker to the altercation, and it was over something totally inane.

I got angry because what they were angry about was so trivial, so stupidly egotistical, and most of all unnecessary.

Then again, what was I thinking to carry that poisonous feeling for three days?

Anger is contagious. Someone may not vomit their emotional dross on you directly but the stench pervades the space around it. It now makes perfect sense how wars start. It begins with petty emotions that are not checked but rather fanned into larger and larger flames until a conflagration is upon an entire society.

So today I will put on my anti-anger shield - compassion and forgiveness - and mind my own spiritual business!

Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

When the first inklings of a pandemic started brewing in late January, I was in Bodgaya, India, the place where the historical Buddha attai...