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[image for Culture Spotlight Sufi1.jpg]
Middle East

The Sufi Way

One World Blue, LLC
What is Sufism?
Sufism is a way of life in which a deeper identity is discovered and lived. This deeper identity, beyond the already known personality, is in harmony with all that exists. This deeper identity, or essential self, has abilities of awareness, action, creativity and love that are far beyond the abilities of the superficial personality. Eventually it is understood that these abilities belong to a greater life and being which we individualize in our own unique way while never being separate from it.
This excerpt from:
https://sufism.org/sufism
Sufism is less a doctrine or a belief system than an experience and way of life. It is a tradition of enlightenment that carries the essential truth forward through time. Tradition, however, must be conceived in a vital and dynamic sense. Its expression must not remain limited to the religious and cultural forms of the past. The truth of Sufism requires reformulation and fresh expression in every age.
Reformulation does not mean that Sufism will compromise its challenge to a stubbornly materialistic society. It is and will remain a critic of “worldliness” — by which it is meant everything that causes us to be forgetful of the Divine reality. It is and must be a way out of the labyrinth of a secular, commercial culture. Most importantly, however, it is an invitation to meaningfulness and well-being.
Sufism, as we know it, developed within the cultural matrix of Islam. The Islamic revelation presented itself as the expression of the essential message brought to humanity by the prophets of all ages. The Qur’an recognizes the validity of 120,000 prophets or messengers who have come to awaken us from our selfish egoism and remind us of our spiritual nature. The Qur’an confirmed the validity of past revelations, while asserting that the original message was often distorted over the course of time.
Sufism’s claim to universality is founded on the broad recognition that there is only one God, the God of all people and all true religions. Sufism understands itself to be the wisdom realized by the great prophets — explicitly including Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon, and Abraham, among others, and implicitly including other unnamed enlightened beings of every culture.
In the Western world today diverse groups exist under the name of Sufism. On the one hand there are those who would say that no true Sufism can exist without appreciation and practice of the principles of Islam. On the other hand some groups exist that more or less ignore the Islamic roots of Sufism and take their teaching from further downstream, from “Sufis” who may or may not have had contact with specifically Islamic teachings.
We could say that there are those who accept Sufism as both form and essence, and there are others who are Sufi in essence but not in form. In my opinion, an appreciation and understanding of the Qur’an, the sayings of Muhammad, and historical Sufism is invaluable to the wayfarer on the Sufi path.
Historically, Sufism was not conceived as separate from the essence of Islam. Its teachers all traced their enlightenment through a chain of transmission going back to Muhammad. While they may have disagreed with certain interpretations of Islam, they never questioned the essential validity of the Qur’anic revelation; nor were they fundamentalists in the sense of rigidly interpreting that revelation or discrediting other faiths. Most often they represented the highest achievements within Islamic culture and were a force of tolerance and moderation.
Over fourteen centuries the broad Sufi tradition has contributed a body of literature second to none on earth. Somehow the guiding principles of the Qur’an and the heroic virtue of Muhammad and his companions provided an impetus that allowed a spirituality of love and consciousness to flourish. Those who follow the Sufi path today are the inheritors of an immense treasure of wisdom literature.
Beginning from its roots at the time of Muhammad, Sufism has organically grown like a tree with many branches. The cause of the branching has usually been the appearance of an enlightened teacher whose methods and contributions to the teaching have been enough to initiate a new line of growth. These branches generally do not see each other as rivals. A Sufi, in some cases, may be initiated into more than one branch in order to receive the grace (baraka) and knowledge of particular order.
There is little cultishness in the work of Sufis. Sufis of one order may, for instance, visit the gatherings of another order. Even the charisma of a particular teacher is always viewed from the perspective that this gift is owed entirely to God. The charisma is valuable in so far as it may bind the hearts of students to a human being who is the truth of the teaching, but many safeguards exist to remind everyone that personality worship and inordinate pride in one’s affiliation are forms of idolatry, the greatest “sin.”
If Sufism recognizes one central truth, it is the unity of being, that we are not separate from the Divine. The unity of being is a truth which our age is in an excellent position to appreciate — emotionally, because of the shrinking of our world through communications and transportation, and intellectually, because of developments in modern physics. We are One: one people, one ecology, one universe, one being. If there is a single truth, worthy of the name, it is that we are all integral to the Truth, not separate. The realization of this truth has its effects on our sense of who we are, on our relationships to others and to all aspects of life. Sufism is about realizing the current of love that runs through human life, the unity behind forms.
If Sufism has a central method, it is the development of presence and love. Only presence can awaken us from our enslavement to the world and our own psychological processes. And only love, cosmic love, can comprehend the Divine. Love is the highest activation of intelligence, for without love nothing great would be accomplished, whether spiritually, artistically, socially, or scientifically.
Sufism is the attribute of those who love. The lover is someone who is purified by love, free of himself and his own qualities, and fully attentive to the Beloved. This is to say that the Sufi is not held in bondage by any quality of his own because he sees everything he is and has as belonging to the Source. Shebli said: “The Sufi sees nothing except God in the two worlds.”
This book is about one aspect of Sufism — presence — how it can be developed and how it can be used to activate our essential human qualities. Abu Muhammad Muta’ish says: “The Sufi is he whose thought keeps pace with his foot — i.e., he is entirely present: his soul is where his body is, and his body is where his soul is, and his soul where his foot is, and his foot where his soul is. This is the sign of presence without absence. Others say on the contrary: ‘He is absent from himself but present with God.’ It is not so: he is present with himself and present with God.”
We live in a culture that has been described as materialistic, alienating, neurotically individualistic, narcissistic, and yet ridden with anxiety, shame, and guilt. From the Sufi point of view humanity today is suffering under the greatest tyranny, the tyranny of the ego. We “worship” innumerable false idols, but all of them are forms of the ego.
There are so many ways for the human ego to usurp even the purest spiritual values. The true Sufi is the one who makes no claims to virtue or truth but who lives a life of presence and selfless love. More important than what we believe is how we live. If certain beliefs lead to exclusiveness, self-righteousness, fanaticism, it is the vanity of the “believer” that is the problem. If the remedy increases the sickness, an even more basic remedy is called for.
The idea of “presence with love” may be the most basic remedy for the prevailing materialism, selfishness, and unconsciousness of our age. In our obsession with our false selves, in turning our backs on God, we have also lost our essential Self, our own divine spark. In forgetting God, we have forgotten ourselves. Remembering god is the beginning of remembering ourselves.
An excerpt from Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness & the Essential Self
Available from Threshold Books
Published by Jeremy Tarcher, Inc.

Votes2 DateSep 6, 2017

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Central America

Panama Today: Living, Housing and Enjoyment

Mike Browne
Panama has long been recognized as one of the world’s top retirement havens. While this is still true, today’s Panama is very different from the Panama of even a half-decade ago. Here are eight things you need to know about retiring in Panama today.
Panama City is no longer a cheap retirement choice. The cost of living in Panama’s capital city has appreciated steadily over the past decade. As a result, today, Panama City no longer qualifies as a “cheap” place to call home. You can live modestly in this city on a budget of $1,500 per month, but a more realistic monthly budget for an average couple of retirees would be $2000 per month.
The cost of living elsewhere in Panama, however, can be much more affordable. A couple could retire to Santa Fe, for example, in the highlands of Panama, on as little as $1,000 per month.
Panama City rents aren’t cheap, either. The lion’s share of any retiree’s budget is typically given over to rent. This is an important part of the reason why the cost of living in Panama City can be considerably greater than the cost of living many other places in this country. A retired couple will spend $1,000 or more per month to rent a comfortable apartment in an appealing Panama City neighborhood. In the meantime, you could rent a small house at the beach on the Azuero coast, for example, for $600 per month or less, or a house in the mountains around Santa Fe for $500 per month or less.
Health care in Panama is international standard and costs a fraction the cost of comparable care in the United States. However, both the standard and the cost of care can vary dramatically, not only from one part of the country to another, but also depending where you seek care in Panama City. The Johns Hopkins-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica in downtown Panama City offers facilities and services like those at available at any metropolitan-based U.S. hospital for perhaps half the cost. However, Clinica Einstein, located in Panama City’s El Cangrejo neighborhood, offers many of the same services in a small, friendly, clean clinic environment where doctors and nurses speak English, lab tests can be processed on site, and prices are half as much or less than those at Hospital Punta Pacifica ... meaning they’re one-fourth as much as U.S. costs.
Panama offers many options for establishing legal residency. However, the great numbers of foreigners, especially foreign retirees, migrating to this country over the past several years has resulted in a backlog at the Department of Immigration that can mean months of delays getting your visa processed and approved.
A new visa option, however, created by Executive Decree in 2012, offers a shortcut. This “Friends of Panama” visa, as it’s referred to, can be processed in weeks instead of months and can even result in a work permit.
Panama is not the banking haven it once was. When current President Ricardo Martinelli signed an exchange-of-information tax agreement with the United States in 2010, he ended the country’s position as a banking haven. Still, though, Panama, home to more than 80 banks, remains an international banking center.
Panama has used the U.S. dollar as its currency since 1904. This is an important advantage for American retirees today who don’t have to worry about exchange risk.
Panama is known as the “Hub of the Americas” for a reason. This is an ideal base from which to explore Central and South America. Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport is currently being expanded from 34 gates to more than 50 gates, and Panama’s airline Copa offers regular flights to every Latin American country and is adding more routes all the time.
Panama City is hot and humid year-round. However, elsewhere in the country the climate can be very different and much more appealing. On the coast outside the capital, the hot temperatures are tempered by ocean breezes, and in the mountains around Boquete, for example, the climate is cool and crisp year-round ... even chilly.
Housing in urban areas has been a permanent problem since US construction in the Canal Zone brought a great influx of migrant laborers into Colón and Panama City. The government-established Bank of Urbanization and Rehabilitation began to build low-cost housing in 1944, and by 1950, it had built more than 1,500 units to house 8,000 people near Panama City. The Panamanian Institute of Housing estimated in 1970 that the national housing deficit of 76,000 units would increase by 7,700 units annually unless corrective measures were taken.
A 1973 housing law, designed to encourage low-income housing construction banned evictions, froze all rents for three years, and required banks to commit half their domestic reserves to loans in support of housing construction projects. By the early 1980s, however, the shortage of low-income housing remained acute, particularly in Colón. A construction boom in the early 1980s was mainly confined to infrastructural projects and office space.
In 2000, there were 793,732 dwellings units nationwide with an average of 3.6 people per dwelling. Though most homes are made of brick, stone, or concrete blocks, about 4% of the total housing stock was made of straw and thatch.
credit:Kathleen Peddicord, Wikipedia

Votes4 DateJul 30, 2017

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North America

Votes3 DateJul 10, 2017

[image for Culture Spotlight Cherokee.jpg]
North America

Cherokee Amazing Grace

Angela Horne
Such Peace
Thank you

Votes1 DateJun 4, 2017

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Africa

Happy Mother's Day

Issa Nyaphaga
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
I'm that little worm she carried in her belly, then on he back.
For me, the relationship to a Mother is Sacred. I grew up in this rural village in Africa with no birthday celebration. Even though my mother Adjimi had my birth certificate, she can't read and writ - so I missed this kind of fun a child can have. .. That's okay.
We're currently building a community radio station in the village, so that the next generation of women and girls can access Knowledge and Education.
***THIS SUNDAY, DONATE TO http://www.hitip.org/ ON THE NAME OF YOUR LOVED MAMA! Usoko/Thank You ;-)

Votes3 DateMay 14, 2017

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North America

Artist Manifesto - Santa Fe Street Performance

Issa Nyaphaga
- Artist Manifesto -
Santa Fe Street Art Performance:
Artist Performance "The Walk of the Water Carrier", Issa Nyaphaga an artist from Cameroon (West Africa) in Residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute for the Water Rights Residency, will perform in Santa Fe on Friday, May 5th, 2017. Issa grew up in the rural African village of Nditam, Cameroon where he carried water twice a day before and after school. The artist will reprise the walk carrying a bucket of water on his head from his studio at SFAI to the Mill Contemporary Gallery on Canyon road where the opening of his exhibition, the Sanctuary Show, will be taking place.
Issa Nyaphaga alias ‘Artoonist’ was imprisoned and persecuted in Cameroon for his political cartoons. Issa paints his body as a way to find resilience. Issa will build a costume out of recycled plastic bottles for his Friday performance. Issa Nyaphaga was selected by SFAI for his award winning project “Water for Social Peace”.
Open to the public - for a fun Friday Art Walk.

Votes4 DateApr 29, 2017

[image for Culture Spotlight Tahitians.jpg]
Pacific

Tahitians

One World Blue, LLC
The Tahitians, or Maohis, are indigenous peoples of Tahiti and thirteen other Society Islands, as well as the modern population of these lands of mixed ancestry (French: demis). The Tahitians are one of the most significant indigenous Polynesian peoples of Oceania.
The original Tahitian society was unaware of metal as it was based on Stone Age technology. However, it enabled Tahitians to clear land for cultivation on the fertile volcanic soils and build fishing canoes, their two basic subsistence activities.[2] The tools of the Tahitians when first discovered were made of stone, bone, shell or wood.
The Tahitians were divided into three major classes (or castes): ari'i,[3] ra'atira and manahune.[4] Ari'i were relatively few in number while manahune constituted the bulk of population and included some members who played essential roles in the society.[5] It is estimated that by the first contact with Europeans in 1767 the population of Tahiti was no more than 40,000 while other Society Islands held probably 15,000-20,000 natives.[6]
Tahitians divided the day into the periods of daylight (ao) and darkness (pō).[7] There was also a concept of irrational fear called mehameha, translated as uncanny feelings.[8] The healers, familiar with herbal remedies, were called ta'ata rā'au or ta'ata rapa'au. In the 19th century Tahitians added the European medicine to their practice. The most famous Tahitian healer Tiurai, of ari'i, died aged 83 during the influenza outbreak on Tahiti in 1918.
Retrieved from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahitians

Votes1 DateJan 29, 2017

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Pacific

Tribes of Bali

One World Blue, LLC
The Balinese (Indonesian: Suku Bali) are an ethnic group native to the Indonesian island of Bali. The Balinese population of 4.2 million (1.7% of Indonesia's population) live mostly on the island of Bali, making up 89% of the island's population.[3] There are also significant populations on the island of Lombok, and in the eastern-most regions of Java (e.g. the Municipality of Banyuwangi).
The Balinese originated from three periods of migration. The first waves of immigrants came from Java and Kalimantan in prehistoric times and were of proto-Malay stock.[4] The second wave of Balinese came slowly over the years from Java during the Hindu period. The third and final wave came from Java, between the 15th and 16th centuries, about the same time as the conversion to Islam in Java, causing aristocrats and peasants to flee to Bali after the collapse of the Javanese Majapahit Empire in order to escape Mataram's Islamic conversion. This in turn reshaped the Balinese culture into a syncretic form of classical Javanese culture mixed with many Balinese elements.[5]
A DNA study in 2005 by Karafet et al., found that 12% of Balinese Y-chromosomes are of likely Indian origin, while 84% are of likely Austronesian origin, and 2% of likely Melanesian origin.[6]
Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu-Buddhist religion and Balinese customs. It is perhaps most known for its dance, drama and sculpture. The island is also known for its Wayang kulit or Shadow play theatre. Even in poor rural and neglected villages, beautiful temples are a common sight; and so are skillful gamelan players and talented actors.[7] Even layered pieces of palm leaf and neat fruit arrangements made as offerings by Balinese women have an artistic side to them.[8] According to José Miguel Covarrubias, works of art made by amateur Balinese artists are regarded as a form of spiritual offering, and therefore these artists do not care about recognition of their works.[9] Balinese artists are also skilled in duplicating art works such as carvings that resemble Chinese deities or decorating vehicles based on what is seen in foreign magazines.[10]
The culture is noted for its use of the gamelan in music and in various traditional events of Balinese society. Each type of music is designated for a specific type of event. For example, music for a piodalan (birthday celebration) is different from music used for a metatah (teeth grinding) ceremony, just as it is for weddings, Ngaben (cremation of the dead ceremony), Melasti (purification ritual) and so forth.[11] The diverse types of gamelan are also specified according to the different types of dance in Bali. According to Walter Spies, the art of dancing is an integral part of Balinese life as well as an endless critical element in a series of ceremonies or for personal interests.[12]
Traditionally, displaying of female breasts is not regarded as immodest. Balinese women can often be seen with bared chests; however, a display of the thigh is considered immodest. In modern Bali these customs are normally not strictly observed, but visitors visiting Balinese temples are advised to cover their legs.
In the Balinese naming system, a person's rank of birth or caste is reflected in the name.[13]
The vast majority of the Balinese believe in Agama Tirta, "holy-water religion". It is a Shivaite sect of Hinduism. Traveling Indian priests are said to have introduced the people to the sacred literature of Hinduism and Buddhism centuries ago. The people accepted it and combined it with their own pre-Hindu mythologies.[15] The Balinese from before the third wave of immigration, known as the Bali Aga, are mostly not followers of Agama Tirta, but retain their own animist traditions.
Retrieved from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balinese_people

Votes1 DateJan 22, 2017

[image for Culture Spotlight Melungeons.jpg]
North America

Melungeons

Bernard Asper
The Melungeons

Melungeons, dark-skinned mountaineers of eastern Tennessee, southwest Virginia and Kentucky, have sparked myths and theories over the past century: among them that they were descendants of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors, or the Roma, the Gypsies. Some have speculated on connections with the Lumbee Indians in Robeson County or the Lost Colonists of the Outer Banks. The traditional view is that they are of mixture of black, white and Native American origin.
For centuries, they remained almost invisible to the American mainstream. They live hidden away on inaccessible mountain ridges, and a racially segregated society wrote them off as a mixture of white, black and American Indian. Now, evidence is emerging which suggests that the Melungeons may have been among America's very first settlers, arriving in Appalachia long before the Northern Europeans.
The name likely comes from the French "melange," a slur most often used by suspicious white neighbors in the days of the Jim Crow South, when African-Americans and anyone with dark skin faced prejudice and segregation.
Researchers have theorized that Melungeons may have been a mixture of European, African and Native Americans. A DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in 2012 found that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.
In the segregated South, any trace of black blood mattered legally. Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act in 1924, the so-called "one drop" rule that would strip anyone of mixed race from white legal privileges. Melungeons through history were often shunned and pushed off to the edges of the economy.
The conventional wisdom, suggests that Appalachia was settled predominantly by English, Scots and Irish people. But to many, like a certain, Dr Brent Kennedy, that did not appear to be the whole story.
When he began to research his ancestry, Dr Kennedy found evidence that the first people to arrive in Appalachia, were not northern Europeans which includes people from the British Isles, but may have been Ottoman Turks. Portuguese settlers brought Turkish servants with them in the 16th Century.
Sir Francis Drake unloaded hundreds of other Turks after he liberated them from the Spanish in 1587. Blood typing has confirmed close similarities between present day Melungeons and people of the Mediterranean region.
What has now become known as the Kennedy theory is that these people pushed inland and settled down with American Indian women, to begin life as farmers. With his team of researchers, Dr Kennedy has found hundreds of words in local Indian dialects that have almost the same meaning in Turkish or Arabic. The Cherokee word for mother for example, is Ana Ta. In Turkish, the word for mother is also Ana-Ta.
Dr Kennedy says the word Melungeon is derived from the Arabic "Melun-Jinn" meaning one who has been abandoned by god - a cursed soul.
His theory is that when white settlers arrived in the region and saw that these dark skinned people had already taken the best land in the valleys, they pushed them out and into the high mountain ridges where Melungeons live to this day. The word Melungeon was considered a racial epithet, and the specter of the dark people of the mountains was used by Appalachian mothers to scare their children into good behavior.
In the segregated South, local bureaucrats described Melungeons as mongrels and half -breeds, and they were classified black and denied education or the right to vote. Others moved away in the hope of escaping the racism of the South. Those who stayed kept to themselves.
Melungeons have filtered into all aspects of American society. Researchers claim that Elvis Presley and Ava Gardner may both have had a Melungeon heritage.
Brent Kennedy has received death threats from those who feel he is slurring their name by denying their Scots-Irish heritage.
But for many younger Melungeons, the idea that they may be linked to some of the very first settlers in the new world 400 years ago, has given them a stronger sense of identity, in a country which has forced them to hide it for centuries.
Edited mostly from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/24/melungeon-mountaineers-mixed-race/29252839/ and http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/384502.stm

Votes1 DateJan 13, 2017

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