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On suffering: Is it really worth the trouble?

On suffering: Is it really worth the trouble?

Oprah and Lady Gaga may be today’s spiritual role models for self-actualization but our devotion to suffering remains a national faith.

BY JOHN PTACEK – Why did a tsunami flood Japan? Why can’t politicians tell the truth? Why did it have to rain on my wedding day?

If humans really had power, CEOs would be immune to cancer, holy men wouldn’t sin and Michael Jackson would still be alive. But we don’t call the shots.

Reality baffles us.  We question it every day and keep waiting for people to be good, for governments to be just, for life to be fair.

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Spiritual Surf: Meet four online horsemen of the apocalypse

SOUL’S CODE — What is the Internet-borne phenom dubbed the “doomer-sphere”? Depression chatter, global-warming warnings and permanent war in the Middle East. Introducing four viral experts:

Nassim Taleb is a former hedge-fund manager and critic of globalization who is a kind of  ‘anti-Thomas Friedman.’ His break-out book spent more than a year on the New York Times non-fiction list, and got a reported $4-million advance

Dimitry Orlov: Years before the financial crisis, the Russian software engineer made a sailboat his home — and survival strategy. On Club Orlov, he blogs about the notions that made his book , Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects, an underground hit.

James Kunstler: is a pre-apocalyptic, off-the-grid guy who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY; author of the book, “The Geography of Nowhere“; and weekly blogger on the Clusterfuck Nation.

Gold-bug Jim Sinclair bet any takers $1 million that gold would hit $1,650 per oz. by 2011.

 

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How Oprah fixed my mom

How Oprah fixed my mom

Is it possible that the TV icon somehow succeeded where God and psychotherapy had failed?

BY TIPPI STRACHAN — I don’t watch Oprah. I have no real justification for this, but whether it’s her mega-sprayed hair or the adoring throngs of “go-girl” women in her audience, the show brings a lump of bile in my gut.

How do I know? It’s always on whenever I visit my mom. The same mom who raised us to watch minimal TV now quotes Oprah like the Bible, and brings her up in every conversation. But I put up with this because — and I genuinely believe it to be true — Oprah fixed my mom.

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Santa Claus: International man of mystery

SPIRITUAL IQ QUIZ — He’s big. He’s hairy. He’s said to tear through the night sky accompanied by magical reindeer. Santa Claus makes a truly weird symbol of conspicuous consumption. Maybe that’s because he’s a figure whose spiritual roots sit deeper than today’s commercial culture.

Santa as we know him today symbolizes holiday cheer, Christian charity, and, yes, maybe more than just a little bit of pagan wildness. Little wonder this mischievous elf has been shunned by Christians, banned by secularists, and viewed with suspicion by purists of all sorts.

As he keeps sliding down the chimney into our culture, click on the radio buttons below to see how much you know about the global poster-boy for Christmas.

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Why doesn’t Paris Hilton grow as a person?

She’s pretty American

BY PAUL KAIHLA — In her short, unintentional life, Paris Hilton has performed at least one spiritual good deed: In 2007, after being sentenced to 45 days in jail for . . . whatever, she exited her L.A. home carrying a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now.

That single act, and famous photo, gave Tolle’s best-selling book of spiritual haiku a second life. It zoomed up Amazon.

The take on Paris among the Soul’s Code community of helping-professionals goes something like this: she’s a harmless person who puts herself out there — but not “in” there — as in, herself. Or what Carl Jung called “the Self,” free of an excessive degree of self-concern.

When she was sentenced, we publicly prayed for Paris’ new inner life — or at least that she’d undergo what another American icon, Dwight Eisenhower, called “an agonizing reappraisal.”

It didn’t work.

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The Soul’s Code Spiritual IQ Quiz: Who is the most enlightened celeb?

The Soul’s Code Spiritual IQ Quiz: Who is the most enlightened celeb?

Celebrities are seekers, too. So who has more soul: Paris Hilton, Madonna, or Kathy Griffin?

While wealthy stars may have allegedly inherited the earth, they are often as spiritually-impoverished as any of us.

Driven by their demons and DUI’s, public break-ups and private meltdowns, the rich and famous seek instant-karma in everything from crystal energy healing and kabbalah to talk therapy and tantric sex.

Or in Paris Hilton’s case, they parachute a Hollywood holy man into their entourage (Maxie Santillan).

We invite you to test your knowledge of celebs who may, or may not, have soul in a material world.

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What is the most spiritual movie, ever? Here are 12 nominees

We’ve expanded our slide show, Transcendental Movies, from 9 classics to 12. Our new additions: Fur, Being John Malkovich and Last Year at Marienbad

BY SOUL’S CODE — That last choice, Marienbad is set in a mid-century, is a 1961 classic by the French “new wave” director, Alain Resnais). Set in an upper class Grand Tour-like spa in Germany, it is the oldest film in our pantheon of spiritual cinema — and about our favorite because of its parallels with an ABC TV series that came along four decades later.  LOST

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Michael Jackson: May he be reincarnated

Soul’s Code columnists, spiritual teachers and readers share their insights about the King of Pop’s passage

SOUL’S CODE — When the Indian “hugging saint”, Amma, perhaps the most-loved person on the planet, enters an ashram or a hall or a tent in her world travels, all rise. Her presence is so supernatural, so beyond celebrity or personality, the rite acknowledges a rare phenomenon: the “godhead” has touched the floor which you, too, touch.

So it was with Michael Jackson. When his feet touched a stage, his presence touched a deep energy and knowing in us all. The “godhead” touched earth. Our columnists and readers share how they were touched . . .

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The Dalai Lama and his teen rebel without a cause

The Dalai Lama confirmed a boy from Spain as his reincarnation and successor as the guiding spirit of Tibetan Buddhism. Then Osel Hita Torres turned his back on both His Holiness and his way of faith

BY DAVID RICKEY — In the story of  Osel Hita Torres, a young spiritual prodigy was chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation. Torres then turned his back on the Buddhist order.

Which in no particular order raises two interesting questions:

Did they get the right boy?

And is there such a thing as karmic regression?

The process of finding and choosing a reincarnated lama is complicated — and I say that as a professional priest schooled in an Episcopal seminary and so-called “high church.”

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Why Byron Katie kicks Oprah’s ass

“I’m a woman without a future — I don’t need one.”

SOUL’S CODE —  We don’t mean that Byron Katie is literally beating up on Oprah. The only reason we make the comparison between the two is that Byron Katie, who is a post-modern mystic, made a rare live appearance in the San Francisco Bay Area the same day that Oprah’s show hyped the movie The Secret and its gospel, the “law of attraction.”

The difference between Oprah and Byron Katie is that Oprah explicitly caters to America’s victim-culture — millions who don’t like their looks, their job, their love-life, their personal history, etc. Oprah pitches a grocery list of prescriptions to fix the personality’s grievances.Byron Katie, on the other hand, offers a radically different way out of pain.

Why would you care? Katie, as she goes by, comes as advertised. We won’t write that she has ‘achieved enlightenment’ — that is, a person who is free of internal conflict — because we can imagine her rejoinder. Katie would turn one of her famous four questions back on us, and ask:

“How would you know? Can you absolutely know that that’s true? Do you have any proof?”

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