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Spiritual Surf: Akon angers Buddhists, Social networking not evil, Woman positive Sweden

Akon VS Buddhists; Disabled community embraces social networking; mystery of Shroud of Turin may finally be solved


Sri Lanka shows no love for rapper Akon: Bikini babes and Buddha in videos don’t mix on Sinhalese Buddhists’ watch.

Social networking more than idle chat to disabled: People gaining a community and “family” online.

Don’t want to face your therapist?  New research shows therapy by teleconference as effective as face to face.

Sweden voted No. 1 place for women to live: Flexible gender roles part of the reason.

Just in time for Easter! If new “gas” method is allowed, it may successfully date the Shroud of Turin.

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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Vanity Fair Ranks the Top 20 Yogis

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Vanity Fair Ranks the Top 20 Yogis

Vanity Fair devotes 20 pages to The World’s Greatest Yoga Masters

SOUL’S CODE — The currency of America’s highest-end celeb zine is, in a word, power. Vanity Fair’s entire franchise is to portray power as A) good looks, B) political status and C) financial bling. Now they’ve discovered D: power can show up, even in their dimension, as prowess of the spiritual kind.

Among Vanity Fair’s top 20 masters, BKS Iyengar we get. Approaching 90 years of age, dude completely invented the style of yoga practiced in America —  and learned at the feet of a yogi in Pune, India in 1937.

And we’ll give the magazine a free pass for spotlighting super-model Christy Turlington, in the image above, in their pantheon of adepts. She owns the yoga-wear brand, Nuala, studied religions and philosophy at NYU —  and is married to Ed Burns.

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Spiritual Surf: Mikhail Gorbachev goes psych; Jay Leno goes hollow; Howard Stern takes down the spiritual leader of America (Oprah)

Jay Leno’s Lenten pilgrimage; Stern on Oprah; Chelsea Clinton’s faith

Russia’s Jesus: Mikhail Gorbachev recommends “shock therapy”

Hollow men: Jay Leno’s Lenten pilgrimmage on Mulholland Drive in a luxury sports car

Howard Stern takes on Oprah and Gabourey Sidibe: “Oprah is another liar, a filthy liar . . .”

Psychic charged with investor fraud: “He should have seen this coming”

Chelsea Clinton marriage: converting to Judaism?

The government runs America? Senator Al Franken begs for infrastructure, courtesy of Google

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Spiritual Surf: Ash Wednesday, PETA, Polygamy, Madonna, atheist pastor, J.D. Salinger, yoga dating

Ashes to ashes . . . this Wednesday

Christians this week celebrate Ash Wednesday in commemoration of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness where he faced demonic temptation.  Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, where Christians share a similar journey in a spiritual desert. Lenten practices usually involve fasting, penance, making confession, praying the stations of the cross (prayerful meditation on Jesus’ journey towards crucifixion), and receiving ashes on the forehead with the words “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return”.

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Zen and the art of getting an Oscar

A meditation teacher views the Academy Awards ceremony as a showcase for techniques that the rich and famous use to keep their cool. A short-list of spiritual and psychological tips for overcoming performance-anxiety:

War of the poses: Ex's Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron have their eyes on the same 2010 Academy Award prize

GUEST COLUMN: REID PETERSON — The Oscar statue’s familiar gold form emblazoned everywhere in the media lets us know that it is once again time for the show that is watched by one billion viewers worldwide.

As the awards unfold much of our planet will be gathered in front of their TV screens for a few hours as actors, directors, and writers gather to receive praise, prestige, and paparazzi for the degree of excellence that they have achieved in their industry during calendar-year 2009.

We all know that the 2010 Oscars are a huge deal because the event has an uncanny ability to hook us emotionally.

But what quality of emotion do we view in the people who are in front of the camera for this event?  Is this reality-TV that exposes how nervous the nominees really are? Or is it a real-time acting lab?

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Spiritual Surf: Purim, Scientology diet, Panchen Lama, Anthony Hopkins, Jerusalem, Farrakhan

Purim: how a Jewish queen of Persia prevented genocide

The Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated this week, commemorating Queen Esther’s saving her people from certain destruction.  During the festival Jews read from Megilat Esther (the book of Esther from the Bible), which is named after the fifth century BC Jewish heroine who helped protect her people and father Mordecai from the evil schemes of the story’s chief villain, Haman.  During the festival men and women comically cross-dress as characters from Esther, and are commanded by Jewish law to drink until they cannot recognize Haman from Mordecai, i.e., evil from good (which would imply that much drinking is required).

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Oscar special: The glee inside me

New York theatre critic Retta Blaney discovered the spirituality of film stars when she interviewed Vanessa Williams, Liam Neeson and Kristen Chenoweth (Hey, she was on Glee!)

GUEST COLUMN: RETTA BLANEY —  As I researched and wrote my book, Working On The Inside: The Spiritual Life Through The Eyes Of Actors, I found that my personal faith was greatly influenced.  The wisdom of the actors I interviewed brought me a great deal of growth, healing and transformation —  and I pray it will do so for others who want to work on the “inside.”

The idea for the book came from my many years of interviewing stage actors like Kristen Chenoweth.  Time and again they brought up the need for a spiritual life.  I have covered many beats in my life — politics, education and business to name three — but I never encountered anyone in those fields who spoke about spiritual matters in relationship to their careers.

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Spiritual Surf: Leno’s Oprah confessional, John Edwards’ New Age love connection, Jude Law, Baptists, burqas, Groundhog Day, Candlemas

Jay Leno walks Oprah’s Stations of the Cross

The Washington Post‘s TV columnist, Lisa de Moraes, has a psycho-spiritual essay about Jay Leno’s appearance on the final Oprah Winfrey Show of January, 2010. Moraes’ brilliant metaphor for how celebs rehabilitate a tarnished public image by seeking on-air absolution from “the Queen of the Confessional”: the Stations of the Cross, a ritual associated with Lent and penitence.

The WaPo columnist also works in a quickie psycho-analysis of Winfrey’s narcissism: Oprah interview with Leno manages to be all about . . . Oprah

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Spiritual Surf: Sundance takes down Mormons; Kitty Kelley takes down Oprah; Tu Beshevat (the tree of life) and St. Paul

8: The Mormon Proposition, a movie on spiritual politics

Utah not only hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival; in the 2010 edition of the film fest, the state’s (unofficial) church has a starring role in the line-up of movies.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is taken down in a documentary about the 2008 initiative that successfully banned gay marriage in California.

Another irony: the film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, is directed by a former Mormon. It details the counter-revolutionary intervention Mormons poured into passing Proposition 8.

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Spiritual Surf: the gospel according to Elton John, Tiger Woods goes back to Buddhism, and more

Mawlid, birthday of Muhammad

This Friday Sunni Muslims across the world will celebrate Mawlid, the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.  Though the celebration is centuries old, historically Muslims were divided over the issue of permiting the holiday and how it should be celebrated (maybe it appeared too similar to that religious birthday among Christian neighbors: Christmas).  Festive processions and parties can be found in several nations, particularly in India, and though Mawlid is celebrated in nearly all Muslim nations, Saudia Arabia (the birth place of Islam) has not made Mawlid an official holiday.

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