Thursday, April 24, 2008

Learn About Bond Fund Investing

Bond Fund Basics
To understand bond funds, or fixed income funds we need to first understand what bonds are. Bonds are simply a loan, but in the form of a security. "Who’s the borrower?" you may ask. In this case, it is usually the government (including state and local governments) or corporations like IBM or General Motors. By issuing bonds, these borrowers can raise money from the public.
Bonds are promises to pay back the original amount (the principal) plus interest--similar to mortgage or car loans, where you were the borrower. Bonds are considered less risky than stocks, but do carry their own risks (namely inflation, credit and prepayment risks).
A "bond fund" or "income fund" describes a mutual fund that invests primarily in bonds or other debt securities.
Bond funds are often used as a way to balance out a portfolio because the bond market behaves differently from the stock market. By diversifying between the two, the levels of risk you take goes down significantly. Bond funds are also used to create regular income--something that is important when you are in or close to retirement.
Bonds vs. Bond Funds
Bond funds are very popular because they are convenient and provide diversification. Bonds can be complex, so having a professional fund manager manage the portfolio and pay you on a regular basis (usually monthly) is very attractive. Bond funds can also have efficiencies and capabilities that would be nearly impossible for an individual to mimic (expect, maybe, a very wealthy individual). People also enjoy bond funds because they can be automatically reinvested if you want and some even carry check writing privileges.
What Kinds of Bond Funds Are There?
As mentioned in Different Kinds of Mutual Funds, bond funds are often categorized by as:
• Municipal Bond Funds -uses tax-exempt bonds issued by state and local governments (these funds are non-taxable).
• Corporate Bond Funds -uses the debt obligations of U.S. corporations.
• Mortgage-Backed Securities Funds - uses securities representing residential mortgages.
• U.S. Government Bond Funds -uses U.S. treasury or government securities.
Another way to categorize bond funds is by maturity date:
• Short-term Bond Funds –usually means the holdings have up to two years left to maturity. This includes bills, CDs, and commercial paper.
• Intermediate-term Bond Funds –usually means the holdings have between two years to ten years until maturity. This includes notes,
• Long-term Bond Funds –usually means the holdings have over ten years left to maturity.
Best Bond Uses
Portfolio Risk Reduction: As mentioned earlier, bonds are often a great way to balance out your stock or stock fund holdings.
Emergency Money: Short-term funds with check writing privileges can provide higher returns than money market funds.
Monthly Income: Bond funds often generate monthly income, which is very attractive to those in retirement. Similar to CDs, bond funds are great for the risk-averse, but don’t require you to be locked in like CDs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ketuanan Melayu yang hilang

I’m disagreeing with racial or religious political parties. It will show to the world that our country’s politics is still 3rd world’s mentality politics. It’s a shame. Here i have something to share with everyone. I’m the 7th generation of Chinese in Kelantan, Malaysia. But what am I today compare to those came from Indonesia just 2nd or 3rd generation that insist with “Ketuanan Melayu”. We all peranakan cina in Kelantan proudly enjoy speaking local language ( Kelantan traditional malay langguage) to each other. I think this is an example of Bangsa Malaysia. But our state’s tengku mahkota said we dont have any rights to be equal to the Malay. Then what are them (Kelantan royal family)? They are from Pattani, Thailand. That’s mean we all (Malaysian) are exactly equal. Some of them seem like trying to cover the real fact that the Orang Asli is the only one who has the most rights on this land. But do you see any of Orang Asli come out and fight for their rights? Do they mention about ‘Ketuanan Orang Asli’? But why some of the Malays want it to be? When some Malays said that non-Malays just came to malaysia to “cari makan” at their land, do they ever think who is the investor that build up economy for the country? We need each other. The Malays still need non-Malays to stay and provide jobs, technology, knowledge, professional skills… We can see who is controlling commodities in the country, Chinese, Indian and some other races but not Malays. Have they ever considered all the aspects? How the country economy’s can survive? What if all non-Malays move out from Malaysia? So, “Ketuanan Melayu” is only applicable during the time of Hang Tuah. So don’t forget, peranakan cina Kelantan came to this land before most of the Malays (which was came from the Jawa Indonesia). They don’t have rights to be our “Tuan” and we never voice out that we are “Tuan” of them. Please be sure your knowledge been sharpened before talk. Think like first world mentality person. Don’t be emotional in racial issues and be real heroes to the nation, to the people, not only to your own species. It’s a shame. Cowards.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a discipline in which the mind is focused on an object of thought or awareness. It usually involves turning attention to a single point of reference. The practice may engender a higher state of consciousness. Meditation is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices which can emphasize development of either a high degree of mental concentration, or the apparent converse, mental quiescence.

The word meditation comes from the Latin meditation, which originally indicated every type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning "contemplation."

Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture.
[edit] Forms of meditation

Bodhidharma practicing zazen.Meditation has been defined as: "self regulation of attention, in the service of self-inquiry, in the here and now."[5] The various techniques of meditation can be classified according to their focus. Some focus on the field or background perception and experience, also called "mindfulness;" others focus on a preselected specific object, and are called "concentrative" meditation. There are also techniques that shift between the field and the object.[6]

In mindfulness meditation, the meditator sits comfortably and silently, centering attention by focusing awareness on an object or process (either the breath, a sound: a mantra, koan or riddle evoking questions; a visualisation, or an exercise). The meditator is usually encouraged to maintain an open focus:

... shifting freely from one perception to the next clear your mind of all that bothers you no thoughts that can distract you from reality or your personal being... No thought, image or sensation is considered an intrusion. The meditator, with a 'no effort' attitude, is asked to remain in the here and now. Using the focus as an 'anchor'... brings the subject constantly back to the present, avoiding cognitive analysis or fantasy regarding the contents of awareness, and increasing tolerance and relaxation of secondary thought processes.[6]

Concentration meditation is used in most religions and spiritual practices. Whereas in mindfulness meditation there is an open focus, in concentration meditation the meditator holds attention on a particular object (e.g., a repetitive prayer) while minimizing distractions; bringing the mind back to concentrate on the chosen object.[7] In some traditions, such as Vipassana, mindfulness and concentration are combined.[8]

Meditation can be practiced while walking or doing simple repetitive tasks. Walking meditation helps to break down habitual automatic mental categories, "thus regaining the primary nature of perceptions and events, focusing attention on the process while disregarding its purpose or final outcome." In a form of meditation using visualization, such as Chinese Qi Gong, the practitioner concentrates on flows of energy (Qi) in the body, starting in the abdomen and then circulating through the body, until dispersed.[6] Some meditative traditions, such as yoga or tantra, are common to several religions[3] or occur outside religious contexts.

For more details on this topic, see Dhyana in Hinduism.
Meditation originated from Vedic Hinduism which is the oldest religion that professes meditation as a spiritual and religious practice.

Evidence of the origins of meditation extends back to a time before recorded history. Archaeologists tell us the practice may have existed among the first Indian civilisations. Indian scriptures dating back 5000 years describe meditation techniques. From its ancient beginnings and over thousands of years, meditation has developed into a structured practice used today by millions of people worldwide of differing nationalities and religious beliefs.[9]

Yoga (Devanagari: योग) is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, focusing on meditation. In India, Yoga is seen as a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery.

There are several types of meditation in Hinduism. Amongst these types are:

Vedanta, a form of Jnana Yoga.
Raja Yoga as outlined by Patanjali, which describes eight "limbs" of spiritual practices, half of which might be classified as meditation. Underlying them is the assumption that a yogi should still the fluctuations of his or her mind: Yoga cittavrrti nirodha.
Surat shabd yoga, or "sound and light meditation"
Japa Yoga, in which a mantra is repeated aloud or silently
Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, in which the seeker is focused on an object of devotion, eg Krishna
Hatha Yoga, in which postures and meditations are aimed at raising the spiritual energy, known as Kundalini, which rises through energy centres known as chakras
The objective of meditation is to reach a calm state of mind. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, described five different states of mind: Ksipta, Mudha, Viksipta, Ekagra and Nirodha. Ksipta defines a very agitated mind, unable to think, listen or remain quiet. It is jumping from one thought to another. In Mudha no information seems to reach the brain; the person is absentminded. Viksipta is a higher state where the mind receives information but is not able to process it. It moves from one thought to another, in a confused inner speech. Ekagra is the state of a calm mind but not asleep. The person is focused and can pay attention. Lastly Nirodha, when the mind is not disturbed by erratic thoughts, it is completely focused, as when you are meditating or totally centered in what you are doing. The ultimate end of meditation according to Patanjali is the destruction of primal ignorance (avidya) and the realization of and establishment in the essential nature of the Self.

Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith teaches that meditation is necessary for spiritual growth, alongside obligatory prayer and fasting. `Abdu'l-Bahá is quoted as saying:

"Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries to your mind. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves."[10]

Although the Founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, never specified any particular forms of meditation, some Bahá'í practices are meditative. One of these is the daily repetition of the Arabic phrase Alláhu Abhá (Arabic: الله ابهى) (God is Most Glorious) 95 times preceded by ablutions. Abhá has the same root as Bahá' (Arabic: بهاء‎ "splendor" or "glory") which Bahá'ís consider to be the "Greatest Name of God".


Buddha in meditationMain article: Buddhist meditation
Meditation has always been central to Buddhism. The historical Buddha himself was said to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. Most forms of Buddhism distinguish between two classes of meditation practices, shamatha and vipassana, both of which are necessary for attaining enlightenment. The former consists of practices aimed at developing the ability to focus the attention single-pointedly; the latter includes practices aimed at developing insight and wisdom through seeing the true nature of reality. The differentiation between the two types of meditation practices is not always clear cut, which is made obvious when studying practices such as Anapanasati which could be said to start off as a shamatha practice but that goes through a number of stages and ends up as a vipassana practice.

Theravada Buddhism emphasizes the meditative development of mindfulness (sati, see for example the Satipatthana Sutta) and concentration (samadhi, see kammatthana), as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, in the pursuit of Nibbana (Nirvana). Traditional popular meditation subjects include the breath (anapana) and loving-kindness (mettā).

Zen Buddhist meditation or zazenIn Japanese Mahayana schools, Tendai (Tien-tai), concentration is cultivated through highly structured ritual. Especially in the Chinese Chán Buddhism school (which branched out into the Japanese Zen, and Korean Seon schools), ts'o ch'an meditation and koan meditation practices allow a practitioner to directly experience the true nature of reality (each of the names of these schools derives from the Sanskrit dhyana, and translates into "meditation" in their respective languages). The esoteric Shingon sect shares many features with Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) emphasizes tantra for its senior practitioners; hence its alternate name of Tantrayana Buddhism. Many monks go through their day without "meditating" in a recognizable form, but are more likely to chant or participate in group liturgy. In this tradition, the purpose of meditation is to awaken the sky-like nature of mind, and to introduce practitioners to that which they really are: unchanging pure awareness, which underlies the whole of life and death.[11][12]

Meditation is the way to bring us back to ourselves, where we can really experience and taste our full being, beyond all habitual patterns. In the stillness and silence of meditation, we glimpse and return to that deep inner nature that we have so long ago lost sight of amid the business and distraction of our minds.

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment.- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying[11]

Most Buddhist traditions recognize that the path to Enlightenment entails three types of training: virtue (sīla); meditation (citta); and, wisdom (paññā).[13] Thus, meditative prowess alone is not sufficient; it is but one part of the path. In other words, in Buddhism, in tandem with mental cultivation, ethical development and wise understanding are also necessary for the attainment of the highest goal.[14]

Main article: Christian meditation
Christian traditions have various practices which can be identified as forms of "meditation." Monastic traditions are the basis for many of these practices. Practices such as the rosary, the Adoration (focusing on the eucharist) in Catholicism or the hesychast tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy, may be compared to forms of Eastern meditation that focus on an individual object. Christian meditation is considered a form of prayer. Hesychastic practice, may involve recitation of the Jesus Prayer, thus "through the grace of God and one's own effort, to concentrate the nous in the heart."[15] Prayer as a form of meditation of the heart is described in the Philokalia—a practice that leads towards Theosis which ignores the senses and results in inner stillness.

In 1975, the Benedictine monk, John Main introduced a form of meditation based on recitation of a prayer-phrase. The World Community for Christian Meditation was founded in 1991 to continue Main's work, which the Community describes as: "teaching Christian meditation as part of the great work of our time of restoring the contemplative dimension of Christian faith in the life of the church."[16]

The Old Testament book of Joshua sets out a form of meditation based on scriptures: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:8). This is one of the reasons why bible verse memory is a practice among many evangelical Christians.[17][18]

See also: Muraqaba
Meditation in Islam is the core of Muslim mystical traditions (in particular Sufism). Meditative quiescence is believed to have a quality of healing and creativity.[19] The Muslim prophet Muhammad, whose deeds devout Muslims follow, spent long periods in meditation and contemplation. It was during one such period of meditation that Muhammad began to receive revelations of the Qur'an.[20]

There are two concepts or schools of meditation in Islam:

Tafakkur and Tadabbur, literally meaning reflection upon the universe. Muslims feel this is a form of intellectual development which emanates from a higher level, i.e. from God. This intellectual process through the receiving of divine inspiration awakens and liberates the human mind, permitting man’s inner personality to develop and grow so that he may lead his life on a spiritual plane far above the mundane level. This is consistent with the global teachings of Islam, which views life as a test of our practice of submission to Allah, the one God.
The second form of meditation is the Sufi meditation, it is largely based on mystical exercises. However, this method is controversial among Muslim scholars. One group of Ulama, Al-Ghazzali, for instance, have accepted it, another group of Ulama, Ibn Taymiya, for instance, have rejected it as a bid'ah (Arabic: بدعة‎) (religious innovation).
Sufism relies on a practice similar to Buddhist meditation, known as Muraqaba or Tamarkoz which is taught in the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order. Tamarkoz is a Persian term that means ‘concentration,’ referring to the “concentration of abilities”. Consequently, the term concentration is synonymous to close attention, convergent, collection, compaction, and consolidation.

Muslims meditate during the second stage of Hajj at "Mount Mercy", from noon to sunset.[21]


Jain sadhvis meditatingThe Jains use the word Samayika, a word in the Prakrit language derived from the word samay (time), to denote the practice of meditation. The aim of Samayika is to transcend the daily experiences of being a "constantly changing" human being, Jiva, and allow for the identification with the "changeless" reality in the practitioner, the Atma. The practice of Samayika begins by achieving a balance in time. If the present moment of time is taken to be a point between the past and the future, Samayika means being fully aware, alert and conscious in that very moment, experiencing one's true nature, Atma, which is considered common to all living beings. The Samayika takes on special significance during Paryushana, a special 8-day period practiced by the Jains.

Meditation techniques were available in ancient Jain scriptures that have been forgotten with time. A practice called preksha meditation is said to have been rediscovered by the 10th Head of Jain Swetamber Terapanth sect Acharya Mahaprajna,[22] and consists of the perception of the body, the psychic centres, breath and of contemplation processes which will initiate the process of personal transformation. It aims at reaching and purify the deeper levels of existence. Regular practice strengthens the immune system, builds up stamina to resist against aging process, pollution, chemical toxins, viruses, diseases, food adulteration etc. Jain Meditation is important to the daily lives of the religion's monks.[23]

Acharya Mahaprajna says:

Soul is my god. Renunciation is my prayer. Amity is my devotion. Self restraint is my strength. Non-violence is my religion.[24]

Main article: Jewish meditation
There is evidence that Judaism has had meditative practices that go back thousands of years.[25] For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "לשוח" (lasuach) in the field—a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice (Genesis 24:63).

Similarly, there are indications throughout the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) that meditation was central to the prophets.[25] In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ (Hebrew: הגה‎), which means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ (Hebrew: שיחה‎), which means to muse, or rehearse in one's mind.

In modern Jewish practice, one of the best known meditative practices is called hitbodedut (התבודדות) or hisbodedus is explained in Kabbalah and Hassidic philosophy. The word hisbodedut, which derives from the Hebrew word "boded", בודד (a state of being alone) and said to be related to the sfirah of Binah (lit. book of understanding), means the process of making oneself understand a concept well through analytical study.

Kabbalah is inherently a meditative field of study. Kabbalistic meditative practices construct a supernal realm which the soul navigates through in order to achieve certain ends. One of the most well known types of meditation is Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning "chariot"(of God).

New Age
Main article: New Age

Meditation workshop at 1979 Nambassa in New ZealandNew Age meditations are often influenced by Eastern philosophy and mysticism such as Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism, yet may contain some degree of Western influence. In the west meditation found its mainstream roots through the hippie- counterculture social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s when many of the youth of the day rebelled against traditional belief systems. [26]

Main article: Nām Japō
In Sikhism, the practices of simran and Nām Japō encourage quiet meditation. This is focusing one's attention on the attributes of God. Sikhs believe that there are 10 'gates' to the body; 'gates' is another word for 'chakras' or energy centres. The top most energy level is the called the tenth gate or dasam dwar. It is said[attribution needed] that when one reaches this stage through continuous practice meditation becomes a habit that continues whilst walking, talking, eating, awake and even sleeping. There is a distinct taste or flavour when a meditator reaches this lofty stage of meditation, as one experiences absolute peace and tranquility inside and outside the body.

Followers of the Sikh religion also believe that love comes through meditation on the lord's name since meditation only conjures up positive emotions in oneself which are portrayed through our actions. The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the equality of all humankind and stressed the importance of living a householder's life instead of wandering around jungles meditating, the latter of which being a popular practice at the time. The Guru preached that we can obtain liberation from life and death by living a totally normal family life and by spreading love amongst every human being regardless of religion.


"Gathering the Light", Taoist meditation from The Secret of the Golden FlowerMain article: Taoism
Taoism includes a number of meditative and contemplative traditions. Originally said to have their principles described in the I Ching, Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and Tao Tsang among other texts; the multitude of schools relating to Qigong, Neigong, Daoyin and Zhan zhuang are a large, diverse array of breath training practises in aid of meditation with much influence from later Chinese Buddhism and with much influence on traditional Chinese medicine and the Chinese as well as some Japanese martial arts. The Chinese martial art T'ai Chi Ch'uan is named after the well-known focus for Taoist and Neo-Confucian meditation, the T'ai Chi T'u, and is often referred to as “meditation in motion”.

Often Taoist Internal martial arts, especially Tai Chi Chuan are thought of as moving meditation. A common phrase being, "movement in stillness" referring to energetic movement in passive Qigong and seated Taoist meditation; with the converse being "stillness in movement", a state of mental calm and meditation in the tai chi form.

Meditation according to Krishnamurti
J Krishnamurti used the word meditation to mean something entirely different from the practice of any system or method to control the mind. He said, “Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will, and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind, and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation. Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time.” For Krishnamurti, meditation was choiceless awareness in the present. He said "..When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy - if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation."[27]

Active/dynamic meditation
Dynamic Meditation is the name of one of Osho's popular Active Meditation techniques. However, in general active/dynamic meditation refers to any meditation technique which does not have one's body assuming a static posture. Such techniques are widely used in Karma Yoga.[citation needed] An example of such activity could be Natya Yoga or a Shamanistic dance, such as described by Carlos Castaneda or simple exercises that focus on certain parts of the body "to give you the power to profoundly affect your mental and physical state directly and quickly".[28]

Osho, earlier named Rajneesh, introduced the meditation techniques which he termed Active Meditations, which begin with a stage of activity — sometimes intense and physical — followed by a period of silence. He emphasized that meditation is not concentration. Dynamic Meditation involves a conscious catharsis where one can throw out all the repressions, express what is not easily expressible in society, and then easily go into silence. Some of his techniques also have a stage of spontaneous dance. He said that, "If people are innocent there is no need for Dynamic Meditation. But if people are repressed, psychologically are carrying a lot of burden, then they need catharsis. So Dynamic Meditation is just to help them clean the place. And then they can use any method ... It will not be difficult. If they, right now, directly try, they will fail." [29]

Sri Aurobindo used to meditate while walking.

Also the Thai monk Luang Por Teean taught a (more conservative) form of active meditation which in Luang Por Teean's translated books is usually translated as 'Dynamic Meditation'. It involves the use of the hands and arms during sitting meditation. He also used walking meditation as a complementary method. His teaching was aimed at developing awareness of the movements of the arms, which are moved continuously in a certain pattern throughout the meditation. The awareness is, however, not limited to the arms but inclusive of the whole life-experience. This type of active meditation is a type of vipassana meditation, which originated in Burma, but is becoming more well known in the western countries, too.

Forms of meditation which are devoid of mystical content have been developed in the west as a way of promoting physical and mental well being.

Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s. Jacobson argued that since muscular tension accompanies anxiety, one can reduce anxiety by learning how to relax the muscular tension.

Autogenic training was developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz in 1932. Schultz emphasized parallels to techniques in yoga and meditation; however, autogenic training is devoid of any mysticism.

Australian psychiatrist Dr Ainslie Meares published a groundbreaking work in the 1960's entitled Relief Without Drugs, in which he recommended some simple, secular relaxation techniques based on Hindu practices as a means of combating anxiety, stress and chronic physical pain.

Herbert Benson M.D., of Harvard Medical School, conducted a series of clinical tests on meditators from various disciplines - mainly Transcendental meditation and Tibetan Buddhism. He first described the results in his 1975 book The Relaxation Response where he outlined a secular approach to achieving similar results.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche founded Shambhala Training in 1976, a secular program of meditation with a belief in basic goodness and teaching the path of bravery and gentleness. The 1984 book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior contains student-edited versions of Trungpa's lectures and writings.

The book Sensual Meditation (1980) which was written by the founder of the Raëlian movement outlines a sequence of non-ascetic meditation exercises which emphasize a Sensual Meditation involving a physical and sensual awareness connected with current knowledge of how the body and mind are organized.

The 1999 book The Calm Technique: Meditation Without Magic or Mysticism by Paul Wilson has a discussion and instruction in a form of secular meditation.

Biofeedback has been tried by many researchers since the 1950s as a way to enter deeper states of mind.[30]

Primordial Sound Meditation is an ancient meditation technique with its origins in the Vedic tradition of India. It has been modernized and revitalized by Drs. Deepak Chopra and David Simon of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. It is a silent mantra meditation that uses primordial sounds (sounds of nature) that are linguistically structured and used to bring awareness to more and more subtle levels of thought.

Meditation using beads
Most religions have their own prayer beads or rosary. A rosary consists of pearls or beads linked together by a thread. Catholics use a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. Each set of ten is separated by another bead. The Hindu and Buddhist rosary has 108 beads and the Muslim rosary 99 beads. Prayers and specific meditations of each religion are different and there are theological reasons for the number of beads. Rosaries may come in different colors, sizes and designs. However, the central purpose, which is to pray repetitively and to meditate, is the same across all religions that use them as a prayer tool.[citation needed]

Acoustic and photic
Newer forms of meditation are based on the results of EEG (electro-encephalogram) work in long-term meditators. Studies have demonstrated the presence of a frequency-following response to auditory and visual stimuli. This EEG activity was termed "frequency-following response" because its period (cycles per second) corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus. Stated plainly, if the stimulus is 5 Hz the resulting measured EEG will show a 5 Hz frequency-following response using appropriate time-domain averaging protocols.[31][32] This is the justification behind such inventions as the Dreamachine and binaural beats.

Meditation in a Western context
"Meditation" in its modern sense refers to Yogic meditation that originated in India. In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted the word "meditation" to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other Eastern religions. Thus the English word "meditation" does not exclusively translate to any single term or concept, and can be used to translate words such as the Sanskrit dhyana, samadhi and bhavana.

Meditation may be for a religious purpose, but even before being brought to the West it was used in secular contexts, such as the martial arts. Beginning with the Theosophists, though, meditation has been employed in the West by a number of religious and spiritual movements, such as Yoga , New Age and the New Thought movement, as well as limited use in Christianity.

Meditation techniques have also been used by Western theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Relaxation training works toward achieving mental and muscle relaxation to reduce daily stresses. Jacobson is credited with developing the initial progressive relaxation procedure. These techniques are used in conjunction with other behavioral techniques. Originally used with systematic desensitization, relaxation techniques are now used with other clinical problems. Meditation, hypnosis and biofeedback-induced relaxation are a few of the techniques used with relaxation training. One of the eight essential phases of EMDR (developed by Shapiro), bringing adequate closure to the end of each session, also entails the use of relaxation techniques, including meditation. Multimodal therapy, a technically eclectic approach to behavioral therapy, also employs the use of meditation as a technique used in individual therapy. [33]

From the point of view of psychology and physiology, meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness, and its goals in that context have been stated to achieving spiritual enlightenment, to the transformation of attitudes, and to better cardiovascular health.

Physical postures
Main article: Asana

Half-lotus position.Different spiritual traditions, and different teachers within those traditions, prescribe or suggest different physical postures for meditation. Sitting, supine, and standing[34] postures are used. Most famous are the several cross-legged sitting postures, including the Lotus Position.

Many meditative traditions teach that the spine should be kept "straight" (i.e. that the meditator should not slouch). Often this is explained as a way of encouraging the circulation of what some call "spiritual energy," the "vital breath", the "life force" (Sanskrit prana, Chinese qi, Latin spiritus) or the Kundalini. In some traditions the meditator may sit on a chair, flat-footed (as in New Thought); sit on a stool (as in Orthodox Christianity); or walk in mindfulness (as in Theravada Buddhism). Some traditions suggest being barefoot, for comfort, for convenience, or for spiritual reasons.

Other traditions, such as those related to kundalini yoga, take a less formal approach. While the basic practice in these traditions is also to sit still quietly in a traditional posture, they emphasize the possibility of kriyas - spontaneous yogic postures, changes in breathing patterns or emotional states, or perhaps repetitive physical movements such as swaying, etc., which may naturally arise as the practitioner sits in meditation, and which should not be resisted but rather allowed to express themselves in order to enhance the natural flow of energy through the body. This is said to help purify the nadis and ultimately deepen one's meditative practice.


Bas-relief in Sukhothai, Thailand depicting monks during walking meditation.Various hand-gestures or mudras may be prescribed. These can carry theological meaning or according to Yogic philosophy can actually affect consciousness. For example, a common Buddhist hand-position is with the right hand resting atop the left (like the Buddha's begging bowl), with the thumbs touching.

In most meditative traditions, the eyes are closed. In some sects such as Zen, the eyes are half-closed, half open and looking slightly downward. In others such as Brahma Kumaris, the eyes are kept fully open.

Quiet is often held to be desirable, and some people use repetitive activities such as deep breathing, humming or chanting to help induce a meditative state.

In Sufism meditation (muraqaba) with eyes closed is called Varood while with open eyes is known as Shahood or Fa'tha.

Focus and Gaze
Often such details are shared by more than one religion, even in cases where mutual influence seems unlikely. One example would be "navel-gazing," which is apparently attested within Eastern Orthodoxy as well as Chinese qigong practice. Another would be the practice of focusing on the breath, which is found in Orthodox Christianity, Sufism, and numerous Indic traditions.

Cross-legged Sitting
Sitting cross-legged (or upon one's knees) for extended periods when one is not sufficiently limber, can result in a range of ergonomic complaints called "meditator's knee". Many meditative traditions do not require sitting cross legged.

Health applications and clinical studies of meditation
Main article: Health applications and clinical studies of meditation

Scenes of Inner Taksang, temple hall, built just above the cave where Padmasambhava meditatedIn their review of scientific studies of meditation, published in the International Journal of Psychotherapy, Perez-De-Albeniz and Holmes identified the following behavioral components of meditation:

altered state of awareness,
suspension of logical thought processes, and
maintenance of self-observing attitude.
The medical community has studied the physiological effects of meditation. Many concepts of meditation have been applied to clinical settings in order to measure its effect on somatic motor function as well as cardiovascular and respiratory function. Also the hermeneutic and phenomenological aspects of meditation are areas of growing interest. Meditation has entered the mainstream of health care as a method of stress and pain reduction. In 1976, the Australian psychiatrist Ainslie Meares, reported in the Medical Journal of Australia, the regression of cancer following intensive meditation. Meares wrote a number of books on the subject, including his best-seller Relief without Drugs.

As a method of stress reduction, meditation is often used in hospitals in cases of chronic or terminal illness to reduce complications associated with increased stress including a depressed immune system. There is growing agreement in the medical community that mental factors such as stress significantly contribute to a lack of physical health, and there is a growing movement in mainstream science to fund research in this area (e.g. the establishment by the NIH in the U.S. of 5 research centers to research the mind-body aspects of disease.)

Dr. James Austin, a neurophysiologist at the University of Colorado, reported that Zen meditation rewires the circuitry of the brain in his landmark book Zen and the Brain (Austin, 1999). This has been confirmed using functional MRI imaging which examines the activity of the brain.

Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind-Body Medical Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard and several Boston hospitals, reports that meditation induces a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body collectively referred to as the "relaxation response." The relaxation response includes changes in metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry. Benson and his team have also done clinical studies at Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayan Mountains.

Other studies within this field include the research of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts who have studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress.

Potential hazards
There is anecdotal evidence that meditation can cause some people to experience psychotic episodes, particularly in those with a history of mental illness, or those who submit themselves to long meditation retreats without prior meditation experience.

Meditation in popular fiction
Main article: Meditation in popular fiction
Various forms of meditation have been described in popular culture sources. In particular, science fiction stories such as Frank Herbert's Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate SG-1 have featured characters who practice one form of meditation or another. Usually these practices are inspired by real-world meditation traditions, but sometimes they have very different methods and purposes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Heroin is a highly addictive drug and is the most widely abused and most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants.
Pure heroin, which is a white powder with a bitter taste, is rarely sold on the streets. Most illicit heroin is a powder varying in color from white to dark brown. The differences in color are due to impurities left from the manufacturing process or the presence of additives. Another form of heroin, "black tar" heroin, is primarily available in the western and southwestern U.S. This heroin, which is produced in Mexico, may be sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal, with its color varying from dark brown to black.
Heroin can be injected, smoked, or sniffed/snorted. Injection is the most efficient way to administer low-purity heroin. The availability of high-purity heroin, however, and the fear of infection by sharing needles has made snorting and smoking the drug more common. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) researchers have confirmed that all forms of heroin administration are addictive.

Great power vs great responsibility

Great power brings great responsibility. How much responsibility should I take? How much is great? Why is me to have great power? Or great responsibility brings great power? Which one comes first? But I think, it should be responsibility come first, then following by capability. When we realized our responsibility or commitment is ‘great’, we were trained under the fear, under the real pain, under the force, without mercy, in reality. We will become the product of the situation, the product of the environment. The quality of the product came from the quality of the situation and quality of the environment. It’s depending on the quality of our fear, pain and force. This will improve our power to be greater and greater, to overcome our fear and pain. The more we fear or pain then the greater we are.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Keris turns up at Gerakan Youth meeting too

Keris turns up at Gerakan Youth meeting too
Saturday, 06 October 2007
Beh Lih Yi & Wong Teck Chi (Malaysiakini)

A Gerakan Youth delegate had his colleagues in stitches at the party's annual meeting when he wielded two keris in
parody of Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein.
Kedah’s Heah Tick Lai stunned the crowd halfway through his speech during the debate on the resolutions when
he took out two keris (traditional Malay dagger) made of styrofoam.
Waving them over his head, he however said his purpose of wielding the keris was different from Hishammuddin.
“I wave this pair of keris here not to fight or challenge anyone... I hope next time Hishammuddin will hold and shout
‘unity for all Malaysians’,” he said.
He also ‘warned’ the media not to misinterpret his move or remarks, prompting the laughter and applause
from the delegates.
Heah’s antic was clearly in parody of the Umno Youth chief, who had repeatedly brandished the keris at the
Umno Youth meets, which was criticised by various quarters as an attempt to play up racial sentiment.
It was also attributed as one of the reason in voters’ opinion poll as to why the Chinese community is likely to vote
for the opposition in the next general election - a claim that has been rejected by the Malay-based party.
There were 593 Youth delegates at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference today but only about 90 people
were around during the debate session.
Minister came under fire
Meanwhile, an emotional Negri Sembilan’s delegate Cheow Woon San accused Foreign Minister Syed Hamid
Albar as being the “liar” in a recent interview with BBC’s Hardtalk.
Cheow took exception to the minister’s remarks in the interview that include stating that non-bumiputeras
benefitted more than bumiputeras in terms of receiving government contracts and getting places in university.
“Please assess for yourselves on how true these statements are... our own leaders are liars,” he alleged.
Kelantan’s Lau Suraksakh meanwhile said corruption that occurred under the New Economic Policy was the
biggest reason behind the unresolved poverty problem.
Blaming this on government leaders, he said: “Our elected representatives are only interested in their personal
interest, they have no time to fulfill the people’s hope in them.”
At the end of the two-hour-long debate, seven resolutions ranging from calling for tough action against corruption and the
alarming crime rate were adopted.

High price of drugs in Malaysia excludes the poor

Many essential medicines are too expensive for the poor in Malaysia
Drugs essential to basic health care have been priced out of the reach of Malaysia's poor, highlighting the importance of mechanisms to prevent manufacturers from raising prices too high, say researchers.
Research published in PLoS Medicine this week (27 March) has implications for health policy in other parts of the developing world.
An international team of researchers looked at the cost of 48 key drugs in private and government-run pharmacies and dispensing doctor's surgeries in four regions of western Malaysia.
Twenty-eight of these drugs are on a core list of 'essential' drugs published by the World Health Organization, based on disease burden. The remaining 20 are important for health care needs specific to Malaysia.
Prices of patented and generic drugs were compared and average local wages assessed to calculate the affordability of drugs.
They found that the prices of both patented and generic drugs were on average 16 times higher than international reference prices, and that some dispensing doctors are selling generic drugs at 310 times their real cost.
Buying a month's supply of a commonly prescribed stomach ulcer pill in Malaysia would cost a low-paid government worker the equivalent of three days' wages, for example.
Malaysia allows market forces to determine drugs prices, and the study questions the government's failure to cushion the poorest of its people against the effects of its commitment to the free market under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) as part of the World Trade Organization.
This agreement allows countries to secure cheap drugs for themselves by allowing people to sell generic versions of the original patented drugs.
But the study points out that drug prices in Malaysia are much higher than in India and Sri Lanka, for example, where government measures make medicines more affordable.
Malaysia, wooed by United States, has entered into bilateral free trade agreements on drugs, which have been criticised for disabling the country's rights to procure cheaper drugs.
The authors call for more effective price-control policies to be put in place, and increased or better-targeted public spending on essential medicines.
In India ― also a signatory of TRIPS ― the multinational drug company Novartis has been claiming rights of exclusivity over newer versions of the leukaemia drug Gleevec, which costs 12 times more than its Indian generic version.
Meera Shiva, a health rights activist in India, said, "Drug prices in developing countries in the post TRIPS scenario reflect the reality of big firms seeking to monopolise drugs and keep out cheaper versions."
"[The issues in the study] are also about people having to pay for most of the drugs from their own pockets with little government aid. So keeping the drugs cheap is life-giving in a number of ways," she added.
Shiva gave the example of France, where more than 80 per cent of drugs are paid for by the health system, making prices less of a concern.
Suzanne Hill, clinical pharmacologist based in Ferney-Voltaire, France, advised caution about the results of the study. She said it is important not to over-interpret the results, as they are based on surveys of small samples of facilities, and may not be applicable to the entire country.

sembangmetro: Bersatu Hati

sembangmetro: Bersatu Hati

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Banks, piggy banks and the joy of capital markets

'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.'- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the US Secreatary of the treasury, 1802

There is, in tradition to oligopolistic licensses and concessions, a second recource which the south-east Asian godfather cannot do without: access to capital. In the post-colonial era, capital become readily available for the first time to local entrepreneurs because of three developments. The first was changes in the lending practices of existing banks. The second was the obtaining by well-connected tycoons of licenses to open their own banks, which typically became akin to personal piggy banks, albeit ones filled with other people's money. The third development was the growth of the region's capital markets.

Few things constrained local businessmen so much under colonial rule as the dificulty of obtaining loans at reasonable interest. Eoropean and american banks were little concerned with lending to Asian businesses- their preferred activity was financing international trade with letters of credit and other support- and when they did lend to locals their compradors were rapacios in demanding kickbacks. There was a number of small ethnic Chinese and Thai- controlled bank in the region, but they were extreamely conservative in their lending practices. Most local businessmen turned to the traditional Indian moneylenders with their punishing rates of interest. Starting in the 1950s, however, more aggressive, entrepreneurial management at two Asian-based banks began to change this situation. The banks in question were Bangkok Bank, headquatered in Thailand, and the Hongkong and Shanghai bank, based in Hong Kong.

The trail blazerr was Bangkok Bank, led by Chin Sophonpanich, son of Teochiu father and a thai mother. A skilled trader and wartime black marketeer, Chin was brought in at the end of the Second World War to what was a failing institution set up under the aegis of the Thai royal family; he was employed first as comprador and subsequently as general manager. In the years that followed, Chin built out the most strongly politically-connected business in post-war Thailand, with Bangkok Bank at its centre. After the military coup of 1947, he co-opted the leadership families of Field Marshal Phin Choonhavan and police director-general Phao Siriyanon as shareholders and directors of his companies and restructured the bank to make the government its biggest shareholder. In return, he obtained a large injection of state capital, near-monopolies of gold and foreign exchange trading and the handling of overseas remittances by ethnic Chinese worker, protection from competition and an unrivalled client base. Like all the most successful godfathers, Chin also rose above the dialect differences of Chinese community, recruiting the cream of Thai-Chinese graduates (pure Thais almost always preferred civil service careers to business) from the elite Thammasat University. One of the most important was Boonchu Rojanasathien, a Hainanese, who saved Chin's bacon after Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat staged a coup in 1957. Chin quikly made Sarit an adviser and appointed his interior minister, Field Marshal Prapass Charusathiara, chairman of Bangkok Bank, but his links to the ousted Phin and Phao made him too nervous to remain personally in Bangkok. He went into exile in Hong Kong untill Sarit died in 1963. In his absence, Boonchu ran the bank, backed by the most adeptly chosen management cadre in Thailand. A sense of how effectively the executives straddled the worlds business and politics is given by the fact that, as of 1980, Bangkok Bank's board had produced three deputy premiers and two speakers of the Thai parliament. But the executives were also entrepreneurial businessmen; they introduced time deposits (long-term saving) and rural credit to Thailand.

Chin Sophonpanich created the largest bank in south-east Asia and one that was extremely profitable. A report by the International Moneytary Fund in 1973 claimed that Bangkok Bank's privileged position allowed it to make returns on its capital in excess of 100 per cent a year (a claim denounced by Chin's lieutenants). What was not in dispute was that the bank's bulging deposit base could not be lent 0ut at optimum rates in Thailand alone. This is where Chin revolutionised the south-east Asian banking scene. He personally travelled between Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, identifying and courting the new generation of putative post colonial tycoons. Onemultibillionaire remembers looking for money in late 1950s to fund an import subtitution deal for which he had obtained a licence. Having heard about Chin, he offered to come and see him. Chin's response was that there was no need- he would come to client. 'For the Chinese businessmen of south-east Asia there was a major moment with Chin Sophonpanich,' says the tycoon. 'He broke what was then the highly conservative, highly colonialistic banking system.'