Category Archives: Asia

Why I’m concerned about the events unfolding in Syria

A comment to the Financial Times from K N Al-Sabah of London succinctly catches the situation in Syria when he writes:

“Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.

But Gulf states are pro Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!

Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!

Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!

Gulf states are pro US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.”

As this points outs , everything’s a right royal mess with the potential to escalate to levels unthinkable. This is why I am concerning about the unfolding events surrounding Syria to anyone who’ll listen as when respected, independent scholars, activists, journalists and politicians start casting their concerns of the situation I listen.

I like to look at history as an indicator of potential events as any psychologist will state the best determiner of future behaviour is past behaviour.

As much as we like to flatter ourselves, as a collective humans haven’t changed immeasurably over the years – we’re still often motivated (particularly those who rise to the top of the power structure) by greed, status, resources & wealth which often results in humans doing atrocious things to one another.

Map displaying areas of control in Syria. – courtesy of German magazine, Der Spiegel

I’m so worried by Syria as in many ways I see it as the perfect storm which has the potential to spiral out of control once the ignition is lit.

In many ways I see a resemblance with the situation in Europe in 1914. A riven, fractured region – a crossroads – of competing powers, factions, vested interests, empires & religions propped up artificially by manufactured nations, client states and hungry empires. Only difference whereas what it took in Europe to ignite the war was a lone radical, this time it will inevitably be the strike from the superpower with the potential for everything to unravel.

Military build-up surrounding Syria – somehow I don’t think they’re there to take in the late summer sun. – Courtesy Ria Novostri

If you protest one thing this year, protest war in Syria.

Ram Bahadur Bomjon – “Buddha” boy is now a man yet still a marvel

Several years ago whilst still in Korea I remember watching an interesting Discovery Channel documentary, The Boy with Divine Powers which featured the remarkable accomplishments of teenage Ram Bahadur Bomjon – then already having been dubbed “Buddha Boy” – for his ability to meditate seemingly without the need for food or water. For some reason I thought of this documentary a few days ago and was curoius as to just what happened to “Buddha Boy”? Was he still alive? Was it all just an elaborate hoax? Or, was there something more to this, something we just can’t fully explain?

The documentary – set in an isolated forest in rural Nepal where Ram had commenced his meditation and which had already become a circus with thousands of pilgrims, tourists and sightseers flocking each day to view this miracle of nature – was produced with two purposes in mind: to document Ram’s feat and its accompanying curiousty in a land bounded by a deeply spirituality but experiencing widespread change and upheaval at the time, and to monitor him for seventy-two hours continuously in order to determine whether this was an elaborate hoax or indeed a feat of incredible human endurance was being witnessed, whereby an individual is being sustained by spirituality alone, not requiring the seemingly essential nourishment of food and water to survive.

Despite a few setbacks – largely due to Ram’s over zealous brother and followers – the documentary crew were able to monitor his condition continuously for 72 hours (the amount of time the average cannot live without food or water) and assert that during this period the young man had not taken on food or water.

Fast forward eight years since Ram first started his spiritual odyssey and he is still an active meditator and  faster, being capable of inedia – the ability to live without food or water. Following the increasing accompanying circus following his fasting meditation at the base of the hollow tree featured in the documentary, Ram disappeared later in 2007 – when the documentary was released – only to be found some weeks later citing the reason why he left his original meditation spot  “because there is no peace”.

Controversy has since followed Ram, in 2010 there were reports that he had assaulted some local villagers in the Bara district of Nepal as they were mimicking his meditation, disrupting him and attempting to manhandle him. More seriously, a Slovak woman, held captive by Ram followers for three months, was released in 2012.

Ram, from a Buddhist family in majority Hindu Nepal,  has gone on record as stating he is not Buddha’s reincarnation. However, his remarkable feats continues to delight, intrigue, astonish and amaze observers leaving even the most ardent critics to question whether there is something special this man is able to achieve, and if he can, perhaps we are all capable too.

What are your thoughts? Despite the advances modern science and medicine have made over the past two centuries are there still some things that defy logic, science and the basic fundamentals of life we base our experiences upon?

Is Ram showing us something we are all ultimately capable of, or is he in some way, special, unique?

Sadhguru wisdom

A couple of months ago I posted about Indian mystic ‘Sadhguru’ Jaggi Vasudev and I thought I’d posted a few more of his videos which have struck a chord with me. In his series with respected Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur – famous for works including The Bandit Queen and Elizabeth – from a few years back, he discusses issues of fundamental importance and significance to human beings including love, relationships, and just what happens after death.

Sadhguru & Shakhar Kapur – on love

Shekhar Kapur asks Sadhguru about  what happens “after death”

Shekhar Kapur asks Sadhguru about relationships

Sadhguru also had a discussion session with acclaimed Bollywood actor Anupam Kher – who you may recognise from his role as Dr. Patel  in  Silver Linings Playbook

Sadhguru with Anupam Kher

While, in the following video, Sadhguru discusses a range of topics including corruption, spiritualism, religion and identity in an interview with Australia’s ABC News.

News bytes

  • The Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad has abdicated, passing the role onto his son, Tamim. Qatar saw significant economic growth and a rise in its profile during Sheik Hamad’s rule where the once sleepy emirate became a prosperous, affluent nation with the launch of a national airline carrier; a media hub – being the home of the Al Jazeera network; and perhaps biggest of all, winning – albeit, controversially – the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
  • Nelson Mandela’s health continues to deteriorate as family members gather by the hospital bed of the gravely ill former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid leader. The nation is on tender hooks hoping the national hero regains his health as soon as possible.
  • Silvio could not wriggle as way out of this one as he is sentenced to seven years jail and is banned from public office after a Milan court found him guilty of having paid sex with a minor and abusing his powers of office. It is unlikely, however, that he will actually spend anytime behind bars.
  • And, the Snowden saga continues as Edward remains, as of now, at an undisclosed location in Moscow. Snowden has admitted to purposefully harvesting documents whilst at Booz Allen Hamilton, which definitely won’t help his case should the US ever get their hands on him. The US – still seething at China – continues to lean on Russia to release him to American authorities before he departs elsewhere. Meanwhile, the hoodwinked journalists – under the impression Snowden would be on their flight – have arrived in Cuba. May they enjoy Cuban hospitality.

Breaking: Snowden in Moscow bound for …

Latest Update: And, it seems Snowden’s eventual destination is …. drumroll … Ecuador!

Update: Snowden has landed in Moscow en route to ‘third country’ with Wikileaks help. Initial reports indicate that it may well be Venezuela. But, it may well be Ecuador for that matter, too! Twitter’s going off! {It seems that Russia indeed was merely a stop over. Nevertheless interesting times ahead.}

RT (Russia Today) is following the events live as of now (11:42pm AEST; 23 June, 2012)

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have released an interesting press statement on Snowden’s departure which is bound to upset officials in Washington.

And, it seems at least one US Senator is unhappy with Russia and China’s role in  this:

“I have a feeling the hand of Beijing was involved here,” Schumer told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What’s infuriating here is … Putin of Russia aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape. The bottom line is very simple. Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States.”

(Old) Breaking News: Reports coming out of Hong Kong are saying NSA leaker Edward Snowden has boarded a flight destined for Moscow. It is not known at this stage whether Russia is indeed his final destination or a pit stop for Iceland or elsewhere.

But, if indeed he has managed to secure refuge in Russia (a big if at the moment), that is huge news with widesweeping ramifications. Russia and the US have not being seeing eye to eye at all of late, particularly in regards to Syria. And, with Vlad Putin himself weighing into the Snowden leak publicly just under two weeks ago, Russian refuge for Snowden – currently being sought by US authorities under the charge of espionage following his whistleblowing interview with The Guardian – would raise the hackles of Washington immensely.

Still early days and he may well be en route elsewhere. But, this unfolding story is no doubt bound to have several more twists and turns in the upcoming 24 hours.

A bit of humour on Snowden’s real reason for being in Moscow.