“Truth is indestructible. It seems history shows (and it’s the same way today) that the innovator is more often than not met with some degree of condemnation; usually according to the degree of departure from the prevailing modes of expression or what have you. Change is always hard to accept…. Quite often they are the rejects, outcasts, sub-citizens, etc. of the very societies to which they bring so mush sustenance… Whatever the case, whether accepted or rejected, rich or poor, they are forever guided by that great and eternal constant – the creative urge. Let us cherish it and give all praise to God.”
John Coltrane

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Demo: We Are All Connected

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Thank you Raymond for bringing this to me.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-01

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World of War

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Raymond Pirouz often brings to my attention content about how gaming and virtual worlds create new opportunities for … well … lot’s of things … including education – and he is not alone. When education came up it stuck with me, I met it with resistance … though I couldn’t quite say why … until a few days ago I was browsing through the Bhagavad Gita for another post – and my thoughts on this assimilated.

View

My Yoga teacher recently introduced me to the term “View”. A Yoga practice should have a view – a purpose, context and direction. For example, I live in what I experience to be an insecure and threatening “reality” – the current view of my practice is to prevent growth of fear, sadness and depression by nurturing a soft heart (attitude), a clear mind (perception),  and a healthy body (in that order). This view guides my training – it indicates what tools and practices I should (and shouldn’t) use.

Without a view a practice can be worthless and even damaging. Yoga isn’t good or bad – it is what you bring to it and make of it. This is why Yoga is best served by a teacher – if all you put into it is yourself, all that will come of it is more of yourself. If you add a teacher and teachings into the mix – you may end up with a better “yourself”. It is possible to practice “Yoga” for 20 years without any noticeable effects and it is possible to practice “Yoga” for 6 months with noticeable adverse effects.

An excellent example of how powerful a view can be is given in this excellent talk by Alvin Toffler on Education. American public education started with a clear view: “a system that will create industrial discipline … which meant that you show up on time and do the same work again and again … “. That View still dominates modern education systems despite all the indications that it is failing & dysfunctional and despite all the knowledge that there are better alternatives. That’s how powerful a View can be.

My Doubts

Gaming does not have an educational View. Gaming does not have a social View. If Gaming has any view – it is to be a satisfying and addictive experience that can be translated into profit.

Any qualities that manifest in Gaming settings are natural human traits – Gamers had them before they became Gamers. It may be useful to explore why these traits do not manifest in day-to-day social settings. It is wrong to attribute them to Gaming.

Gaming is an escape in which natural human qualities can appear. Gaming is thriving because there aren’t enough opportunities for these qualities to manifest off-line. Gaming is neither changing gamers nor the world we live in. Gaming is actually inhibiting any offline individual or social improvement – because it is diverting creative energy away from it into an ineffective online space. People can get drunk in a bar and experience relaxation – but that relaxation isn’t carried outside the bar into the tensions of day-to-day life – it only makes it possible to sustain them longer.

Reincarnation

So what does the Bhagavad Gita have to do with all this? If you are not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita – you may want to read this introduction to it. It documents a conversation between Arjuna – the greatest warrior alive and Krishna – an incarnation of God. Arjuna is about to fight a just war against an enemy made up of friends, family and guru’s – and he gets depressed about it. The 18 chapters of the text cover different topics from Vedic philosophy which Krishna presents to Arjuna to help him restore clarity.

The second chapter contains an explanation what “self” is – it describes a View on life – Krishna explains to Arjuna that:

  • 2.13: There is a “body-bearer” which (as surely as a body does die) transfers from one body to another.
  • 2.19: The “body-bearer” cannot be killed and does not kill.
  • 2.20: The “body-bearer” is never born, never dies and therefore never ceases to be. It is eternal.
  • 2.22: The “body-bearer” is an “owner of the body” and changes bodies as a man changes clothing.
  • 2.26: Death is inevitable and so is rebirth

This is essentially reincarnation – one of the first teachings in the text. Having explained this Krishna says to Arjuna:

  • 2.31: Now that you understand that – do your duty “for there is nothing better for a warrior than a righteous battle”.

As I was reading this I realized that reincarnation is one of the key elements of Gaming. You can die and come back again and again. This grants you a freedom of action that otherwise you wouldn’t dare. Now here’s the thing – nothing of this translates into off-line life (or if it does, it leads to recklessness). Gamers live by reincarnation when playing but live life as if “you only live once”.

You don’t have to believe in reincarnation – that just happens to be a dominant example in Gaming. The problem is that too-often real life does not have a view. What do you believe? What is your life about? Has that led to expression of your natural talents and qualities or has it blocked them? Gaming is not a solution for an absence of teachers and teachings – it is only a coverup. You can get drunk every night and forget about your worries, but they will still be there to greet you in the morning.

Posted in AltEco, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life, Yoga Philosophy | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Yoga Asana Practice Sequences meet WordPress & HTML

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I’ve been gradually looking for better ways to display and communicate asana and practice sequences:

  1. It started with some basic hand drawings which were clumsy because I had to use a marker instead of a fine pen to get a result that would scan and display properly on screen.
  2. I’ve described some asana in depth with photographs and animation.
  3. At one point I started drawing some stick figures.
  4. I then began aggregating stick figures into practice sequences.
  5. Until a few days ago, as I was working on documenting another sequence and I began to think “there has to be a better way to do this”.

Well I’m happy to say that now there is. I’ve used a semantic (predefined) structure of HTML together with some CSS and Javascript that arange and transform the HTML text into a visual practice sequence. It uses a set of images (which can be enriched and modified regardless of the script) which are inserted instead of the posture names (which are actually the file names). You would need a basic understanding of HTML tags to use it.

It’s not as user-friendly as it could be and I have some ideas on how to enhance it and make it easier to use – but implementing that goes beyond my programming skills. So if you’re a WordPress plugin author with experience in Javascript – please do contact me – I’d love to work with you on this.

Here’s an example of how it works. Following is an image of a practice sequence – it is one large JPG file:

Next is a semantic HTML representation of that practice. If you understand Yoga and basic HTML structuring then you should be able to quickly see the underlying structure – I’ve kept it fairly simple:

<div class="asana-practice-sequence">
<ol>
	<li class="sequence-container">
		<div class="sequence">
			<div class="asana">samasthiti</div>
			<div class="breath">breath-inex</div>
			<div class="asana">tadasana</div>
		</div>
		<div class="instructions">
			<div class="breath">r3</div>
		</div>
	</li>
	<li class="sequence-container">
		<div class="sequence">
			<div class="asana">samasthiti</div>
			<div class="breath">breath-inex</div>
			<div class="asana">tadasana_v-backbend</div>
		</div>
		<div class="instructions">
			<div class="breath">r3</div>
		</div>
	</li>
	<li class="sequence-container">
		<div class="sequence">
			<div class="asana">samasthiti</div>
			<div class="breath">breath-inex</div>
			<div class="asana">tadasana</div>
			<div class="breath">breath-exin</div>
			<div class="subsequence">
				<div class="sequence">
					<div class="asana">uttanasana</div>
					<div class="breath">breath-inex</div>
					<div class="asana">ardha-uttanasana</div>
					<div class="breath">breath-exin</div>
					<div class="asana">ardha-uttanasana</div>
				</div>
				<div class="instructions">
					<div class="guide">midrange-micromovement-static</div>
				</div>
			</div>
		</div>
		<div class="instructions">
			<div class="breath">r3</div>
		</div>
	</li>
</ol>
</div>

And here’s how that code is rendered with CSS and a Javascript:

If images are not showing – refreshing the page may correct it!

  1. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    r3
  2. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana_v-backbend
    r3
  3. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    breath-exin
    uttanasana
    breath-inex
    ardha-uttanasana
    midrange-micromovement-static
    r3

The benefits:

  • Easy: very easy and quick authoring of practice sequences.
  • Green: each posture is a very small file (as opposed to larger images with whole practice sequences) – resulting in a small and lightweight page.
  • Adapatable: alternate image sets could be used for different representations of the same practice: stick figures, photos, body illustrations, male, female, etc.
  • Scalable: the script can be configured for automatic scaling/resizing of images.
  • Printable?: I haven’t tested this yet – but I have created high (print resolution) graphics which are scaled down by the script. Zooming in reveals that the images are indeed on high resolution and so I have a feeling they may print well too.

There are still a few issues to tweak and finalize – but is does work 🙂

Thanks: To create this I had to use Javascript which I haven’t used in quite some time – I hate it as a programming language and I love what it can do. I was motivated to use it again (a disturbing and aggravating learning curve) by the inspiration I experienced in helping my teacher move into WordPress. Thank you Paul, again and again, for your inspiring presence.

Note: I haven’t and probably won’t test or maintain this script for Internet Explorer (any version – old or new). It was developed with and works with Mozilla Firefox. If you are a Yoga practitioner and can relate to Svatantra then I recommend you stop using Internet Explorer and start using an open-source browser like Firefox and other open-source applications.

Posted in Asana, Open Source, outside, Practice Sequences, Tech Stuff, Wordpress, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment

More Free Internet

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Snap an image, send it online, share it with your friends on Twitter with a great free service … including the “Hot Russian Girls who can be your Perfect Wife” adertisement you wanted to send out to all of your friends … all free … step right up folks …

and this is just one example …

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside | You are welcome to add your comment