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What’s less fun than telling your kids at the mall that Santa Claus doesn’t exist?

Answer: the real Santa was a Byzantine monk. Yup, Old Saint Nick evolved from a bishop in present-day Turkey who treated opponents harshly but championed the cause of the powerless

BY KOHL GLAU — Santa Claus’ real story begins nearly 1,700 years ago as the powerful Roman empire was quickly becoming Christian. He lived in a moderate Mediterranean climate, opposed Church-branded heretics, financially supported the poor, built churches, and performed miracles.

In other words, the historical St. Nick is a far more spiritual figure than the folkoric Santa Claus who lives near the North Pole, receives letters from children, rides in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and deliversgifts on Christmas Eve. How did this commercial Santa evolve? Who was the original? Is he even someone on whose knee you’d want to seat your child?

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Spiritual Surf: James Arthur Ray, celebrity Buddhists, Anglicans and Catholics, Thailand’s Diwali

Road to Enlightenment: No sweat?

Those who attended the now infamous sweat lodge ceremony of James Arthur Ray (including the three who died) paid $10,000 a head for the experience of being deprived of food and sleep.  Not to mention sweating it out in a small, over-crowded space.  One critic labels this “spiritual masochism,”  an extreme asceticism taking physical privation as essential to spiritual insight, much like Guatama Buddha’s early meditative practices.  Ray is continuing to receive criticism from a variety of spiritual perspectives as more witnesses to the incident speak out.

Athletes sporting Buddhism

Disciplining the mind and body as a Buddhist goal is gaining a wider following among goal scoring athletes in the U.S.  A-Rod, for one, is giving Buddhism a try-out, probably with the influence of Kate Hudson, who was raised Buddhist by her mother Goldie Hawn.  Tiger Woods has openly spoken of Buddhism’s influence on his life, particularly from his mother.  While Buddhist meditation may contribute to the game play of these men, a woman’s influence does not go unnoticed.

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Celebrating Halloween, every witch way but true

It might be about kinky costumes or eye candy for you. For me, it’s a sacred celebration that ”tricks” sweet little kids into “treating” all witches as ”wicked” stereotypes.

DANNY KENNY — Ah, to be an Irish Pagan at Halloween and witness apparently sane, God fearing people, joyously ridiculing a sacred tradition from an ancient  land of culture.

I refer of course to Ireland, those mythical shores that gave you Shaw and so much more than “Paddy’s Day” and the “Paddy Wagon” — a racist term still sadly used openly in these so called PC days.  Let’s not forget we also gave the world literary greats like Yeats and Wilde.

We gave you the Kennedy family, U2 and even “the Greatest” grandfathers of  all; Muhammed Ali and Obama’s. And what did you choose to celebrate from our culture: Halloween and St Patrick’s Day! Both of which do neither Irish culture nor Paganism any favors.

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Spiritual Surf: Diwali, Mother Teresa, Angel Valley deaths, the Bab’s birthday

Obama lights up the White House for the Goddess of Wealth (and no, it’s not Oprah). In another first for Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama, he became the first  US President to honor Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains by lighting a symbolic diya/lamp in the White House and wishing everyone a “Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.”

The Secret’s Out for Oprah Guru: Police in Angel Valley are showing  no mercy in pursuing James Arthur Ray, as Oprah’s Self-help Guru sweats out  homicide charges in the Sedona sweat lodge murder investigation.

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Meet the next Carlos Castaneda

Tony Samara’s code for a daily spiritual dose: selfless service and treating your body as a temple

Tony Samara, founder of the eponymous, non-profit organization, The Samara Foundation for the Evolution of Human Consciousness, lived for several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery.

After leaving the monastery, Tony traveled to the jungles of the Amazon and the Andes, where he lived and studied among a community of shamans.

Soul’s Code: What secrets did you learn from the healers and holy men?

Tony: I worked with many shamans in the jungles and mountains of South America. It is difficult to put into words all the learnings, but one could summarize the essence as being a profound respect for nature and its inherent cycles that help sustain life. That humans can utilize nature to enhance their joy, gives this realm meaning.

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Spiritual Surf: David Carradine’s split soul; Wright on God; celebrating less, crystals buck downturn, and more

Kung Fu and the trappings of transformation

The West Coast new age community embraced actor David Carradine as a kind of icon of east-meets-west mysticism, largely because of his leading role in the 1970s TV show, Kung Fu. He even headlined at the Conscious Life Expo in L.A. in February, 2009 (sponsored in part by Soul’s Code.)  Now, days after his death in Bangkok at the beginning of June, journalists have discovered that Carradine was a split soul, viz. this TMZ story about his fetishes and sex-toy shopping sprees. You don’t have to be in Hollywood to get wrapped up in re-branding your personality as “spiritual,” while holding real transformation at bay. Our thoughts  for Carradine’s safe voyage to the other side.

Reverend Wright on the evolution of God

In a surprisingly sensitive essay in this week’s Time, Orange County, Calif., mega-church preacher, Robert Wright — the controversial cleric tapped by Obama to lead the sermon at his inauguration —  discusses in frank terms the “evolution of God.” Wright writes: all three of the great monotheisms —  Judaism, Christianity and Islam —  have gone through periods of religious belligerence and spiritual tolerance.

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James Hillman’s “A Therapy for Psychotherapy”

James Hillman’s “A Therapy for Psychotherapy”

The last living legend of 20th-century American psychotherapy advocates “pagan psychology” at Santa Barbara’s Pacifica Graduate Institute

BY SMADAR DE LANGE — People go to psychologists and psychiatrists to seek help for universal issues such as loneliness, anxiety and emptiness. But what happens in a psychotherapy session is that those feelings are branded — and treated — as subjective experiences, phenomena that are unique to the patient. Instead of freeing people from the tyranny of the personality, today’s psychotherapy reinforces an individual’s separation and isolation from universal human conditions — and digs people deeper  into the myth of subjective experience. It enslaves them more to this fragile construct called personality.

So argues James Hillman, the American psychologist who developed “archetypal psychology.”

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Thanksgiving: an act of reconciliation?

From Plymouth to John Wayne westerns, white Americans have put Native Indians between a rock and a hard place. This Thanksgiving I’m joining a festival to honor what they’ve given, and lost

GUEST COLUMN: DANNY KENNY — In the twilight slumber of Thanksgiving morning, the first boat moors at “The Rock” and the “tired and weary” passengers disembark. But this is Alcatraz not Plymouth, and we’re not here to celebrate or give thanks for our survival. We, so-called “civilized” folks, have much to be thankful for, and I’m not talking turkey here.

On the day when the majority of white Americans give thanks for the American dream . . .

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Meditation as a medication: An auto-immune disease called Lupus

JEMMA’S JOURNEY: (The 2nd of 2 parts)

Master Hai Kong is a revered figure in China’s resurrected and re-activated Buddhist community. Seekers from all over the most populous nation-state in the world want to learn from him.

Typically, he performs his empowerment rituals four times a year — and does so for hundreds of students at a time. To have my own personal ritual, was a once-in-a-lifetime gift (and many more if you believe in Buddhism).

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Master Hai Kong and Buddhist monks: Jemma’s journey out of chronic pain

BEING THERE: JEMMA FONG

Jemma’s journey: “I just need to live with the pain” (1st of 2 parts)

Living with a chronic condition resulting in daily pain and periodic acute flare-ups that flatten me in bed for days seemed to be the only “norm” I knew for the past two and a half decades. Increased stress of any sort would worsen the situation by triggering a vicious spiral: as I became frustrated with my inability to perform at my optimum, I added new layers of stress.

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