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Dissolution and the Joy of Giving Things Away

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Pisces is the final sign of the zodiacal cycle. It sounds the quality of conclusion for a restart, dissolution for a fresh beginning. Pisces prepares the seeds for the coming cycle, and thus it is the subtle commencement, while the tangible commencement is in Aries.

This year, my wife and I experience the Piscean quality of dissolution in a very intense manner: In the final week of Aquarius we applied for a new apartment and got the positive confirmation at the beginning of Pisces. Already beginning of December we had received a termination notice for our old apartment and we started saying good-bye to the place where we had lived the last 3 years. Now, entering Pisces, the preparation for the move are going on – the dissolution starts manifesting:

I went through the book shelves and sorted out (I mentioned it in a previous blog-post): I took the books into my hands and felt inside if there was still some attachment to a book. If no – it came into a box. If yes, I asked myself whether it was an emotional bond and if I would miss it when I gave it away. Again more books came into the box.

In Berne, we have a huge reference library with esoteric and alternative literature, and most of the books went there – I was glad that maybe some interested reader might make good use of the volumes – and our book-shelves became lighter.

The next step was to unburden our basement rooms. A car load went to the waste disposal. But there were things which people might want to use. So I chose a website where you can buy and sell things – or give them away for free. I didn’t want to start selling but give things quickly away. The first test was extremely fast: Hardly had I published my old guitar that the telephone rang- a lady in broken German asked if she could get it. I said yes and tried to describe how she can reach our house – she lived 50 km away. Since she didn’t understand well my explanations I told her to send me an e-mail. She asked if I can reserve the guitar for her; I said yes.

An e-mail arrived – “How can I get the guitar and where are you living?” I sent the detailed description, and shortly afterwards the answer came that she is coming Saturday evening.

Saturday evening, the phone rang – she was nearby but didn’t find the house – it’s a bit back from the street. I saw her car but she didn’t see me. So I went out with the guitar. An African lady and her daughter came out of the car. The eyes of the child shone about the guitar and the lady gave me an invitation to their market shop where they sell African and Indian products and do Afro haircuts, I would get 50% off – not just what I wanted.

Two days later, my wife got a phone call: A lady in broken German – switching then to English –  told her that she wanted to get the guitar which I had promised her. The guitar was away – but who was the lady? It turned out that the first one only phoned and didn’t send an e-mail and that the e-mails were from another lady…

The other things went away with great speed and without mix-ups – especially a jigsaw – there were more than 10 requests – mostly after I had switched off the online ad, a few minutes after I had posted it. The lucky person came from a town about 40 km away… I wondered if he calculated the gas costs…

Others, when they came and saw what we wanted to give or throw away were happy to take more things – and we were happy to give them away:  my old easel, book shelves, picture frames, household articles, children comic books and games… It was a good experience to see the things disappear, hopefully finding a new phase of their lives.

The only object I wanted to sell was a string trimmer, less then 3 years old. I didn’t put a high price – but no reaction came during the last days. Today I reduced the price – I wonder if someone reacts. I’m sure, if I gave it for free there would be a dozen phone calls. But I’m determined to sell it, at least this one! Or keep it, if no-one is interested. In 2.5 weeks we will move to the new apartment…

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An empty bookcase – just one book left for our study circle, the rest is already in boxes.

 

 

 

 

Who is Perfect?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Beginning of December, the windows of a fashion store on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse attracted the attention of the passers-by: Between the perfect display dummies, you could see figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One with shortened limbs; the other with a malformed spine.

The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organisation for the disabled. Entitled “Because who is perfect? Get closer.”, it war designed to provoke reflection on the acceptance of people with disabilities. Director Alain Gsponer has captured the campaign as a short film. An impressive sensitization for the inclusion of people with disabilities. And a great response – up to now the video generated over 9.3 million views.

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Picture from the video (c) Pro Infirmis

Touching Strangers

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

A Canadian friend sent me the link to a touching video about “Touching Strangers“:

“Since 2007, photographer Richard Renaldi has worked on a series of photographs for which he asks complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait. Working on the street with a large format 8-by-10 view camera, Renaldi encounters his subjects in towns and cities all over the United States.

Renaldi’s objective was to introduce an unpredictable variable into a traditional photographic formula, and to create spontaneous and fleeting relationships between complete strangers. The portraits are extremely difficult to make, involving complex negotiations with the participants that push them past comfort levels, into a physical intimacy normally reserved for loved ones or friends. Touching Strangers creates intimate and ephemeral relationships that exist only for the moment of the photograph. The images are beautiful and strange, crossing out of the zones of safe physical intimacy with strangers and into deep emotional landscapes never photographed before.

In Spring 2014, Aperture Foundation will publish Touching Strangers as a photobook, including new photographs from Renaldi’s shoots this summer in Albuquerque, Chicago, New York City, and Southern California.” An interview with Richard Renaldi. Here is another video about his project. You find more about Renaldi’s work on his website or on his blog.

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Pics from the video “Touching Strangers”, (c) Richard Renaldi

The Growth of a Good-Will Inspiration

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Three days ago I was surprised to receive an e-mail with a headline “News from India”. It was sent via the e-mail address of the site of my paintings but it came from a former business partner of my past job at Swiss Red Cross which I have left just a year ago. I wondered how he found my e-mail address for I didn’t have it at the time of leaving the job.

Memories came up when I read the e-mail: 9 years ago I started to build up a media asset management solution for Swiss Red Cross and chose Picturepark, for it offered the best facilities. Furthermore Bruno Jehle, the founder and CEO – the person who now wrote me the e-mail – gave us a very good free support for developing the concept and structure. Soon we discovered that both of us had a love for India with a long-time background. Since his youth, he had been committed to social development activities in India initiated by himself.

I hadn’t heard from him for years when this e-mail arrived, where he sent to some friends a link to a newspaper article in the Deccan Chronicle reporting about the digitization of centuries-old negatives of ancient buildings, tombs and caves in Hyderabad, Bidar and Adilabad, which were in possession of the Department of Archeology and Museums for more than 100 years. Some members of his Indian team, of the bj institute, with its seat in Switzerland (whose founder and CEO he is) and a branch in Secunderabad / Hyderabad had realised this project after a 5 years formation.

I congratulated him for facilitating this valuable project, and he answered that for over 30 years they are now active in Andhra Pradesh, India. At first by committing to fight leprosy and tuberculosis and building up tree nurseries (he had told me before that with the help of mango farms they created a living for a larger number of families; here an aerial view by Google). He mentioned that this place is near Naidupeta, where Sri Mynampati Narasimham was born. (I wondered how he knew about Sri Mynampati Narasimham, Master MN, but then thought, he might have further searched via my links and come to the page about Master MN on the Good-Will site.) They now have reduced their commitment in this area since it is now running by family enterprises. In his e-mail he mentioned that since his 18th year, he had repeatedly met people from the Theosophical movement and that his inspiration for these tree nurseries had to do with the garden of the Theosophical Society (in Adyar).

He further mentioned a second project near Annavaram, West Godavari, the RISDT (Rural India Self Development Trust).
I googled the place and found out that I had just been in Annavaram during my last visit to India last January, when we travelled with Dr. Kumar and the group from Rajahmundry back to Visakhapatnam, and visited a temple there.

The RISDT is a fascinating good-will activity: It is a non-profit public health and development organization serving the most marginalized communities of East Godavari district. It promotes sustainable solutions for public health and human development needs of the marginalized communities and ” envisions a society in which the most marginalized communities have access to their entitlements and opportunities to realize their full potential.” One of the activities grown out of RISDT is Kalpavruksha (Sanskrit for wish-fulfilling tree), an association supporting social, health and agricultural projects in India by organising donations.

All this has grown out of the commitment of Bruno Jehle, who from out of a journey through South India 30 years ago has developed, together with Indian friends, these substantial medical and social care activities.

This e-mail encounter made me ponder upon the strange links of destiny and perceiving a need and focusing on it persistently to create a solution. It is similar with the work of the seed of a tree and of the sprout in the heart of man.

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A huge banyan tree forest in the garden of the Theosophical Society, Adyar

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Aerial view of the tree nursery project, photo (c) Google.

Thinking, Images and Bodyscapes

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

While thinking, we are continuously creating images in our mind. Modern neurologists even think that thinking is the ability to display images internally and to order those images (this is what António Damásio thinks – a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, in: Descartes Error. Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, 1994, p 89 – what might be his images with this thought?). These images are linked to emotions, which can be deeply stored in our subconscious mind and triggered through situations we encounter.

Marketing (and not only marketing) makes use of this phenomenon by evoking images intended to move the observer into a specific direction. And what happens with these ad-images in us? …

A master of evoking images is Carl Warner, an English photographer who became famous with his “Foodscapes” – impressive landscapes created by food arrangement (I blogged about it in 2008). You find many videos about his foodscapes on the web. Of course, these images attracted the advertising industry and they used them in campaigns for various food based products and brands.

Some days ago I got an e-mail from an Indian friend with photos of the new series of Carl – fascinating “Bodyscapes” created by arranging (living) human bodies to landscapes. When you look at them, feel the images these bodyscapes create in you – is it warm human togetherness or more a feeling of inside a sardine can? Nevertheless – impressive impressions.

Thank you Carl for the publication permission. He is also on Facebook.

Shin-Knee-Valley
Shin-Knee Valley

Valley-of-the-reclining-woman
Valley of the reclining woman

“Google Death Penalty” Hits the Good-Will Website

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Three days ago I got a Skype-chat message from a German friend:

“Morning Ludger, yesterday I wanted to go to your Good Will webseite – but I don’t find it anymore at Google. Are you just rearranging something?”

“No, not at all, I see the page totally normal – oops, I see that Google doesn’t show it anymore. I don’t know what to do, I’ll try to check it… ” And some minutes later:  “I really have no idea what to do. You only find just the URL good-will.ch, but no other hints. Google seems to block the site! I checked a big spam-filter page, the site is clean.”

A feverish search started. I went to Google Webmaster tools, reconfirmed my site, checked. Being just an “interested layman” in webmaster affairs, more questions popped up than answers. I did tests, contacted friends, the provider, read online articles … … … It slowly dawned to me that the “Google Death Penalty” had hit the Good-Will website. Silently, not knowing when – I didn’t do any “ego-googling” for a long time, so I didn’t know when Google had taken the site off their search index.

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Did the “Google Death Penalty” happen the 8th of February? (Graphic: Google Webmaster Tool, good-will.ch)

This means: No search of any topics relating to the Good-Will site is any longer shown in the search results (I still found some minor text hints on 4th and 12th sub-pages of Google’s search…). With all the topics where the site was best placed in the past, now there was  void. Other sites quoting texts of the site appeared, but never the original site… I became alarmed increasingly.

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Searching the site of the Circle of Good-Will – other pages appear, at the first place our Facebook page, at least. (Graphic: Google site search)

The next day I contacted a good friend with web know-how. Together we increased the search for possible causes till late in the night. No clear results. We didn’t find anything wrong with the technical part of the Good-Will website, Google was scrawling the site, reported that no malware was found… I asked my youngest son, who had built the site when he was 16, what could be the cause. He wanted to think it over.

Yesterday evening he came and told me that on the home page he had placed some text describing the site in the same colour than the background, so that search engines who don’t pay attention to the header texts are informed (since the home is just a distribution page for the language versions without further text). This, however, is forbidden by Google. Did they find it and therefore blocked the site? My son immediately removed the text.

In the night I wrote a reconsideration request to Google explaining them what could have been the reason and that I’m not aware of any other possible violation of their rules. There was a reply this morning that the

This morning I saw a reply in the webmaster-tools that they will check the request but that it might take a few weeks.

During that time the Good-Will website is probably in the “digital limbo”. And if they don’t tell what has been the reason for their “digital death sentence”, the pralaya could continue… Google writes: “If it’s been several weeks since you submitted your reconsideration request, and you haven’t seen any changes in your site’s performance, this probably means that your site is still in violation of the Webmaster Guidelines, or it simply is not ranking as well as you’d like.”

No, not ranking at all I definitely don’t like – meaning that all the people searching for the spiritual wisdom teachings on the site won’t find it for the time being.

Saturday 16 February 13, 12 am: A friend from Abu Dhabi just informed me that the site is on the index again yes, it is Thank you, Google.
Tuesday,  19 February 13: Google wrote in the account of webmaster-tools that they didn’t find anything objectionable when looking at the webspam and that there can be fluctuations in the ranking… All the hints they gave didn’t show what was the reason for stopping the ranking (it wasn’t only bad performance…) Now it’s back to normal.

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William Blake: Dante’s Hell IV: Homer and the Ancient Poets in the First Circle of Hell (Limbo), from Wikipedia

P.S. During googling I found something about Digital Death: What to do with the digital data in case of someone’s physical death has been discusses at a Digital Death Day last year in London.

And then there is also the “Digital Beyond” (What happens to your Facebook-Account when you die?) – Archives of your online life… or Digital Immortals: Preserving Life Beyond Death… Copyright infringement in the digital afterlife: “Welcome to Life – The Singularity, ruined by lawyers” (YouTube)

“What is that?”

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

A very touching video (5.5 min) by the Greek film director and producer Constantin Pilavious about patience and understanding between a father and his son. The beauty and depth lies in its simplicity. Greek with English subtitles.

And I saw another video by Constantin Pilavious, with silent beauty. Well done and worth seeing. He writes:

“Once upon a time in a country far far away a boy lived, very different from all the others. His name was Eftichis. Everything ran smoothly in his life until one day, many many years ago an incident made him see life from a different perspective. And suddenly, a big secret was revealed.”

A Life in a Royal Role – Queen Elizabeth II

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

An impressive morphing video with pictures from the different stages of the life of  Queen Elizabeth II. You get an impression of how the role she played shaped her personality and her outlook – and she did it very gracefully throughout her life. Click on an image to see the video in full screen.


The Young Queen

A Culture of Peace

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Today I got the Newsletter of the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) reminding of the “International Day of Peace” today, 21st September, which I would like to share:

This year thousands of organizations (local and global) are holding tens of thousands of events for the International Day of Peace, involving hundreds of millions of people – teaching, serving, praying, working, celebrating, helping and more. Some events will continue until Oct. 2nd the International Day of Non-Violence (Gandhi’s birthday); and some have been going on since Sept. 11th.

There are many ways to observe peace: government and security; education and media; economics and business; health and relationships; religion and spiritual teachings; environment and habitat; personal and cultural; science and technology. The United Nations urged people around the world to make their voices heard to strengthen peace and democracy. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon called on individuals to speak out for social justice, the rule of law, and the right to a say in one’s own future.

We remind people of our three guiding principles: Peace inside – find and act from a state of peace within ourselves; Peace outside – engage in practical acts of peace for the good of others; and Peace year round – commit to an ongoing peacebuilding practice. Together we are helping humanity to create a worldwide culture of peace.


Mur de la Paix

The Mur de la Paix (Wall of Peace) is  a monument in Paris built in 2000 on the southern part of the Champ de Mars.  It consists of twelve glass panels where the word PEACE is written in 32 languages and 13 alphabets. It is 16m long, 13m wide and 9m high.

The location has a high symbolic value. In the past each village in France used to have a Champ de Mars, a large field dedicated to the Roman God of War and used for military exercises as well as local fairs and festivals. So the wall of peace is on the field of the God of War.

You can leave there a personal message of peace or digitally post a message on the site of the Mur pour la Paix and see it displayed on the monument.

The newsletter ends with the words: “We look forward to a future that holds more peace, for more and more people; and we leave you with messages of peace from around the world.

Here is the word “Peace” in 130 languages:

Peace, English
Paz, Spanish, Portuguese
Paix, French
Pace, Italian, Romanian
Friede, German
Mír, Russian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Serbian, Slovene, Ukrainian
Shalom, Hebrew
Salam, Arabic
Heiwa, Japanese
Pingan, Chinese
Shanti, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu
Amaní, Swahili
Alaáfía, Yoruba
Achukma, Choctaw
Amaithi, Tamil
Aman Malay, Urdu
Amniat, Pashto
Anachemowegan, Mohecan
Ashtee, Farsi
Asomdwee, Twi-Akan
Bake, Basque
Barish, Turkish
Béke, Hungarian
Boóto, Mongo-Nkundu
Búdech, Palauan
Chibanda, Ila
Däilama, Sa’a
Damai, Indonesian
Diakatra, Maranao
Dodolimdag, Papago/Pima
Echnahcaton, Munsterian
Emirembe, Ugandan
Ets’a’an Olal, Maya
‘Éyewi, Nez Perce
Fandriampahalemana, Malgache
Filemu, Samoan
Fois, Scots, Gaelic
Fred, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish
Friður, Icelandic
Goom-jigi, Buli
Gúnnammwey, Carolinian
Hasîtî, Kurdish
Hau, Tahitian
Hedd, Welsh
Hmethó, Otomi
Hoa Bình, Vietnamese
Ilifayka, Koasati
Innaihtsi’iyi, Blackfoot
Iri’ni, Greek
Írq, Amharic
Kagiso, Setswana
Kalilíntad, Magindanaon
Kapayapaan, Tagalog, Filipino
K’é, Navajo
Kev, Thajyeeb Nyab Xeeb, Hmong Daw
Khanhaghutyun, Armenian
Khotso, Sesotho
Kiñuiñak, Northwest Alaska Inupiat Inuktitut
Kiba-kiba, Rapanui
Kunammwey, Chuuk
Kupia Kumi, Laka Miskito
Kutula, Fanagolo
‘Kwam, Sa Lao
La Paqe, Albanian
La Patz, Aranés
La Pau, Catalán
Lapé Haitian, Creole
Layéni, Zapoteco
Li-k’ei, Tlingit
Linew, Manobo
Lùmana, Hausa
Kapayapaan, Tagalog
Maluhia, Hawaiian
Meleilei, Ponapean
Melino, Tongan
Miers, Latvian
Mina, Wintu
Mtendere, Chewa, Nyanja
Muka-muka, Ekari
Musango, Duala
Mutenden, Bemba
Nabad -Da, Somali
Nagaya, Ethiopian
Nanna Ayya, Chickasaw
Ñerane’i, Guaraní
Nimuhóre, Ruanda
Nirudho, Pali
Nye, Ntomba
Olakamigenoka, Abenaqui
Paçi, Maltese
Pardamean, Indonesia
Paco, Esperanto
Pax, Latin
Pokój, Polish, Slovak
Pyong’hwa, Korean
Rahu, Estonian
Rangima’arie, Maori
Rauha, Finnish
Rerdamaian, Indonesian
Rukun, Javanese
Saanti, Nepali
Sai Gaai Òh, Pìhng Yue
Salama, Swahili
Santipap, Thai
Saq, Uighur
Shîte, Tibetan
Sholim, Yiddish
Síocháin, Irish
Sìth, Gaelic
Soksang, Khmer
Solh Dari, Persian
Sonqo, Tiaykuy, Quechua
Sulh, Turkish, Afghan
Taika, Lithuanian
Tecócatú, Nhengatu
Thayu, Gikuyu, Kenyan
Tsumukikatu, Comanche
Tuktuquil, Usilal Kékchí
Tutkiun, North Alaska Inuktitut
Udo, Igbo
Ukuthula, Zulu
Uvchin, Mapudungun
Uxolo, Xhosa
Vrede, Afrikaans, Dutch
Wâki Ijiwebis-I, Algonquin
Wetaskiwin, Cree
Wolakota, Lakhota
Wôntôkóde, Micmac
Wo’okeyeh, Sioux
Zhi-bde, Tibetan

See also the UNESCO-site on the Culture of Peace. The Manifesto 2000 for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence is also on the Good-Will website.

Ends of the World and Other Hoax Catastrophes

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

I regularly get e-mails forwarded by friends containing a warning about some imminent danger or about a “once-in-a-lifetime” situation.

So I just got a warning:

NASA America predicts total blackout on Earth from 22-25 Dec 2012 during alignment of Universe. If possible, please avoid travelling during the third week of December 2012 as all modes of communication may fail. … The 3 days blackout is predicted to happen on Dec 22, 23, 24, 2012. During this transition, the entire universe will face a big change, and we will see an entire brand new world… (of course everybody would like to know what will happen in these days – just wait some more weeks….)

Some weeks ago I received a warning about a new virus which has been discovered recently and it has been classified by Microsoft as the virus most destructive ever….

And another one telling that you should watch out for Mars in the month of August supposed to be closer to earth than ever before. Or that plastic in fridges produces cancer and the like…

Always there is a call to forward these e-mails as quickly as possible to all of our friends – and mostly the mails have already a large number of recipients.

Whenever such messages drop in, I google for a hoax-info website like Hoax-Slayer, Snopes (about rumours), Urban Legends or (in German) the Hoax Info site of the Technical University of Berlin.

Nearly in all cases I find out within seconds that the supposed catastrophe or unique occasion are nothing but a web rumour, a misuse of the credulity of well-intentioned contemporaries. I just send an answer to the sender with a link to the hoax-info website.

If, however, you come across an urgent information that the earth is going to crash in the next days, I hope that I’ll find out just in time that it isn’t a hoax and be prepared.


Reflections in a silver vessel