Wednesday, June 10, 2015



For nearly three decades, a tiny Indian holy woman has comforted, blessed, and - many believe - healed millions of devotees of all ages races, religions, and walks of life, simply by her gentle, loving spiritual embraces. Mata Amritanandamayi, the Mother of Immortal Bliss - affectionately called Amma or Ammachi (mother) - has emerged as one of the most prominent female spiritual leaders in the world, commanding a large following of devotees both in her native country and beyond. Likened to Mother Teresa by some and revered as a great mystic by many, this woman from rural south India is regarded by her devotees as the embodiment of the Divine Mother.

In recognition of her contributions to the global community, Ammachi was invited to address the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1993 at which she was named "President of Hinduism." In October 2002 she was awarded the Gandhi - King Award for Non - Violence at the United Nations.

Among the various devotional biographies, the oldest account was written by one of Ammachi's senior disciples, Swami Amritaswarupananda, and it is considered by Ammachi's organization to be her authoritative biography.

Although her hagiographies brim with miraculous stories that serve to legitimate her close relationship with certain deities and affirm that she holds special powers of manifestation, initially Ammachi rejected demands for miracles as proof of her divine manifestation. "My intention" says Ammachi, "is not to show miracles. My goal is to inspire people with the desire for liberation through realization of their Eternal Self. Miracles are illusory. They are not the essence of spirituality."

However, a month later she reportedly convinced skeptics by changing water into a holy milk mixture, and subsequently, many other miracles have been attributed to her, including the widely circulated story of healing a leper.

On Devi Bhava nights, Ammachi is believed to reveal her identity as the Divine Mother, reflected in certain visible changes in her person. In her characteristic third-person style of expression, Ammachi tells a group of disciples: "If you were to really see Amma as she is, it would overwhelm you - you couldn't possibly bear it. Because of this, Amma always covers Herself with a thick layer of maya (illusion). But during Devi Bhava, Mother removes one or two of her veils, revealing a little more of what she really is."

Throughout various spiritual phases, Ammachi strove for God-realization without the meditation of a teacher or guru. She recalls: "I never had a guru, nor was I ever initiated by anyone and given a particular mantra. The mantra I used to chant was "Amma, Amma.”
But her disciples revere this uninitiated mystic as the perfect spiritual master (sat guru) who has the power to "directly induce God - realization."


Ammachi is said to make all the important decisions concerning her ever - growing network of charitable, educational, medical, and religious institutions.

Ammachi first visited the United States in May 1987 at the invitation of her American disciples. Since 1987, Ammachis's spiritual appeal in America has grown so immensely that her U.S. tour has become an annual feature, and in 1989, she established her first U.S. ashram in San Ramon, California.

While the MA Center serves as the U.S. headquarters for the Ammachi movement, local chapters have been established in Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Boston, and Washington D.C. Efforts are being made to institute local chapters in other major U.S. cities.

My introduction to Mata Amritanandamayi's ashram in San Ramon occurred on June 14, 1999. Arriving at the ashram around 7 p.m., I noted a long line of diverse devotees gathered near the temple door: small children, teenagers, young adults, older men and women, all of various ethnicities, but predominantly Caucasian and non-Indian. While some were clearly first-time visitors like me, most seemed to be regular devotees, evidenced by their dress, speech and familiarity and ease with which they moved around the temple.

Eyes cast down in prayerful meditation, several hundred devotees stood at the entrance of the temple, chanting the mantra "Praise to the Blissful One," or "Om Amriteshwariye Namaha." Suddenly, our chanting grew louder and more intense as a cream-colored Lexus sedan arrived. A tiny Indian woman clad in a simple white cotton sari emerged smiling radiantly at the visibly expectant and excited crowd. She walked briskly into the temple as devotees respectfully knelt, prostrated, or bowed their heads in the palpably charged atmosphere.

Ammachi stood on a decorated floor mat. A female Indian disciple dressed in a white sari performed pada puja, or worship to the lotus feet (pada) of Her Holiness Shri Mata Amritanandamayi. She sprinkled a few drops of water on Ammachi's feet, gently wiped them away, applied sandal paste, and placed three rose flowers and petals on her feet as two saffron-robed Indian monks of the order - simply referred by Ammachi's American devotees as Swamijis - recited the following sanskritic shlokas (verses) in praise of the guru and her feet:

I prostrate to the Universal Teacher, who is Satchitananda (Pure Being - Knowledge - Absolute Bliss), who is beyond all differences, who is eternal, all-full, attributeless, formless and ever-centered in the Self; whatever merit is acquired by one, through pilgrimages and from bathing in the Sacred Waters extending to the seven seas, cannot be equal to even one thousandth part of the merit derived from partaking the water with which the Guru's feet are washed.

A lay devotee offered the waving of a lamp (arati) before Ammachi while another garlanded Ammachi, who in turn blessed them by sprinkling a few rose petals. After the worship of her feet, she walked briskly through the main aisle of the temple, touching and blessing devotees on either side of the aisle, and finally ascended to take her seat on an elevated platform. A young Indian female renunciant delivered a brief discourse on Ammachi's spiritual message, interspersed with several moving anecdotes and testimonials of her special spiritual powers and unconditional love for all. Next came 90 minutes of ecstatic and soulful devotional singing (bhajan) led by Ammachi and her band of gifted Indian musicians.

After the ritual waving of the lamp in front of Ammachi concluded the evening rites, devotees took their place for the spiritual embrace session, called Ammachi darshan. Ammachi hugged each one in turn, uttering tender and loving words in the devotee's ear, and gave each admirer a Hershey's kiss, a few rose petals, and a tiny packet of sacred ash.


Although Ammachi was never initiated by a guru, her devotees revere her as the sat guru, the true or perfect spiritual master. The guru puja offered to Ammachi each time she enters the temple confirms the devotee's belief in her guru status. She describes herself as a compassionate guru for her devotees. She exhorts her disciples to cultivate attachment to the sat guru as both the means and end of the spiritual quest. When asked whether attachment to the master's external form is necessary to realize the ultimate goal of God-realization, Ammachi responds:

Children, first of all remember that attachment to the Master is an attachment to God. Your problem is that you try to differentiate between God and the true Master. Attachment to a true Master's physical form intensifies your longing to realize the Supreme. It is like living with God. He makes your spiritual journey much easier. Such a master is both the means and the end. But at the same time there must be conscious effort to see the Master in all creation. Being attached to the external form of a satguru is like having a direct contact with the Supreme Truth.

Ammachi's self-understanding as a sat guru is reflected in her teaching roles. She offers formal
discourses in her native language of Malayalam, which are translated by a native interpreter. She leads daily devotional singing, teaches meditation, and conducts regular retreats for her disciples.

Along with her role and identity as a sat guru is her self - recognized and self - professed identity as the embodied goddess (devi) - the form much revered by the devotees. Ammachi's goddess identity is revealed in her weekly Devi Bhava when she assumes the mood or form of the Divine Mother for the benefit and at the request of her devotees.


In the Hindu tradition, the central ritual moment in worship is the exchange of sight - darshan - between God and the devotee. But disciples of Ammachi are not content with mere sight of her, darshan is reconfigured to include tactile embrace. Darshan of Ammachi becomes a warm, motherly, spiritual hug. This type of darshan is one of the intriguing trademark features of Ammachi's movement and her spirituality.

In the course of my field research, I witnessed hundreds of devotees - many of whom traveled from afar - wait for several hours for just a few pecious seconds of personal darshan with Ammachi. They come with varying concerns, ranging from the completely mundane to the ascetic, and Ammachi greets each on his or her level or need. In the final moments of Devi Bhava darshan, for instance, Ammachi performs nuptial rites for a select number of couples, most of whom are Caucasian devotees dressed in traditional Indian wedding attire.

I, too, went for personal darshan with Ammachi. Just like her devotees, I received much more than I had anticipated, and interestingly, at the precise level of my concern. When I went for my second darshan during a morning session, a trusted Ammachi devotee whom I had interviewed earlier that day introduced me to Ammachi directly, telling her about my scholarly interest in her teachings and movement. After hugging me closely, she turned to Swami Amritaswarupananda who was standing beside her and instructed him to assist me in obtaining necessary literature from the bookstore. Later, as Ammachi was leaving the temple after the morning session, she specifically sought me out in the crowded congregation gathered outside the temple and personally wished me success in my research. She met my specific concern: to learn more about her and her movement so that I could report about each in a scholarly context.

Before devotees are ushered into the presence of Ammachi, they must have proper instructions on darshan etiquette, or "darshan dharma." Then, they are invited into her presence as she sits on a colorfully decorated throne, flanked by male sannyasi who translate devotee's special requests or questions, and a female attendant who ministers to Ammachi's personal needs.

Throughout darshan, the atmosphere and ambience undulates: intense, prayerful, relaxed, and festive at the same time. Devotional bhajans in Hindi and Malayalam led by a group of singers provides the spiritual and musical backdrop. After the darshan, many consume the Hershey's Kiss - the sacred leftover or Prasad - whereas others take it home to keep as a sacred relic.

Whereas on normal days Ammachi hugs more rthan 1,000 devotees, this number is doubled on weekly Devi Bhava nights, when Ammachi wears a bright sari and a silver crown to reveal the majestic glory and tender love of the Divine Mother. In India, Devi Bhava nights attract over 10,000 darshan seekers.

During Devi Bhava nights in America, they hand out a leaflet in the darshan line explaining that receiving a mantra from Ammachi is a serious commitment not to be taken lightly. If after reading the pamphlet, you are serious about receiving a mantra, you stand in a line much shorter than the darshan line. Then, you receive a brief pre-mantra counseling by a long - time devotee of Ammachi who relates the seriousness of receiving a mantra and asks you to decide what kind of mantra you'd like, if its a Krishna mantra, a Devi mantra, a Jesus mantra or a Buddha mantra. You could also ask for a mantra that is not deity-specific. I was told that when it's my turn Ammachi will say the mantra in my ear and repeat it . . . When I got to the front of the line, it was very late, maybe one or two o'clock in the morning . . . She turned to me and smiled . . . Somebody behind her told her what kind of mantra I wanted. She leaned over and pulled my head to her mouth. And she said my mantra twice and the hand that was pulling my head to her mouth was full of flower petals. I don't know how to describe it, but it was very special. Being in her presence, I felt an instant relief.

In the Ammachi movement, darshan is the most intimate, direct, and personal mode of interaction between the spiritual master and her devotees. Given that Ammachi does not deliver many formal spiritual discourses in the United States as she has limited fluency in the English language, darshan also functions as her principal spiritual discourse to her American devotees. Amritaswarupananda explains to the devotees the spiritual significance Ammachi attaches to hugs and kisses. He writes: "Ammachi's hugs and kisses should not be considered ordinary. When Ammachi embraces or kisses someone, it is a process of purification and inner healing. Amma is transmitting a part of Her pure vital energy into Her children. It also allows them to experience true, unconditional love. When Ammachi holds someone it can help to awaken the dormant spiritual energy within them, which will eventually take them to the ultimate goal of Self - realization."

Darshan literally means "seeing." Translated sometimes as the "auspicious sight" of the divine, in popular Hindu devotional scheme, darshan is the auspicious seeing of the deity indwelling in an icon or image whereby the devotee seeks to establish contact with the deity. The act of standing in the presence of the deity and beholding the image with one's own eyes, seeing the divine and being seen by the divine, is a central act of Hindu worship. Though it involves the body, darshan is primarily a mental, spiritual, and mystical contact. Direct bodily contact with the deity is both ritually inauspicious and forbidden for the average devotee.

Physicality is the hallmark of Ammachi darshan. Given her status as the embodied Divine Mother and perfect spiritual master (sat guru), darshan is no doubt the appropriate mode of interaction. But in form and function, Ammachi darshan radically differs from the traditional pattern insofar as it entails close and intense bodily contact in the form of touching, hugging, and kissing. Beyond the ritual and religious contexts, touching and kissing a person of another gender, especially strangers, is taboo in Hindu social relations. But Ammachi embraces, hugs, strokes, and kisses her devotees with total disregard to their gender, moral condition, and physical purity.

From its modest beginnings in the calm backwaters of the Indian state of Kerala, the spiritual movement Ammachi initiated has matured into a dynamic, worldwide phenomenon with a growing and impressive network of charitable institutions and transnational congregations in the West. Her annual tours to the united States and Europe attract thousands who endure great physical and financial hardship to be in her compassionate presence and company in order, as one devotee put it, "to inhale her spiritual power."
Ammachi does not charge a fee for darshan or giving mantras, relying only on freely given donations at the devotees' discretion.

Ammachi calls for her disciples and devotees, in India and abroad, to transcend the historical accidents and cultural constraints of the Hindu religious tradition, and places within her devotee's grasp the core truth and central message of God-realization, achievable through unconditional love to all. In her embodied self as guru and goddess, as well as in her embodied ritual of darshan, Ammachi concretizes and mediates this divine message of unconditional love. - from the book "Gurus in America"

FROM THE BOOK "AMMACHI - A Biography of Mata Amritanandamayi

Page 127)  While Sudhamani (Amritanandamayi) was living outdoors, dogs, cats, cows, goats, snakes, squirrels, pigeons, parrots and eagles all sought her company and became her intimate friends. This phase of her sadhana demonstrated the power of love, untainted by attraction and aversion, to bring harmony among animals who are otherwise natural enemies. At a time when her own relatives had abandoned her and were vehemently opposed to her spiritual life, animals stood by her and rendered loyal service.

Page 131) During the period of Devi Sadhana, whenever Sudhamani lost consciousness, weeping to see the Divine Mother, these two pigeons would appear from the sky to sit beside her as if to protect her.

Page 132) Another animal which seemed attuned to Sudhamani was a cat. During the Bhava Darshan the cat would enter the temple and walk around Sudhamani as if doing pradakshina. It would then sit near her for a long time with its eyes closed and seemed to the devotees to be meditating. Once someone tried to get rid of the cat by taking it across the river, but the next day it returned and stayed by Sudhamani's side.

Page 134) One day Sudhamani had an intense feeling that her friend, the black and white dog, would die afflicted by rabies. Shortly thereafter the animal did contract rabies and died as she had foreseen, though without much suffering. When Sudhamani was asked if she was dejected to lose her loyal companion, she said, "I am not at all sad about his death. Even though he died, he will come to me. Therefore, why should I be sad?" Later, she commented that the dog's soul had reincarnated near Idamannel, but would reveal no further details.

Sudhamani once remarked regarding a goat which had great love for her. "On account of a disease of her udders, the goat was struggling for life, about to die. I saw her agony and sat down near her, lost in prayer and meditation. When I opened my eyes I beheld the poor animal approaching me, crawling on her knees. Placing her head on my lap, she quietly died, gazing at my face. Her love was pure indeed."

Some years later, recollecting all these incidents she expressed these thoughts: "How blissful were those days! Strangely enough, those animals could understand my feelings and act on them. If I cried, they also would join me in crying. If I sang, they would dance in front of me. When I lost my external consciousness they would crawl over my body. All the traits of various animals can be found in human beings. When one gets rid of all attachment and aversion and attains equal vision, then even hostile animals become friendly in one's presence."

- from the book "Ammachi - A Biography of Mata Amritanandamayi"





Monday, June 8, 2015


LAMA ZOPA RINPOCHE is one of the outstanding living Tibetan Buddhist masters, and his students have carefully archived hundreds of his teachings.

This blog posting has Rinpoche's advice for benefitting pets and animals, from the book "Dear Lama Zopa." This fact is certain: People do not become saints or rinpoches by abusing animals. In fact, helping animals is a way to accumulate very good karma, and of course, animals benefit too. Conversely, killing or injuring animals creates vast amounts of bad karma. We need only consider this: Our beloved pets and all other animals desire happiness as much as we do.

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche wrote: "Even if we do not believe wholeheartedly in karma, we should at least maintain an open - minded attitude. It is also worth considering that even if we behave as if karma were real, we would still end up living a better life than we would if we behaved as if it were untrue."

Some people do not believe in karma. They do as they please . . . and then wonder why bad things happen to them. These people want to feel good about themselves no matter how much misery they inflict on other beings. Yet these same people cannot be absolutely certain that karma is a myth. These same people cannot prove that karma is unreal.

I've spent hundreds of hours in the company of Hindu saints and Tibetan rinpoches, and NOT once did they even suggest harming ANY sentient being. Reciting mantras or playing recordings of mantras - Tibetan Buddhist mantras and/or Hindu mantras - plants positive karmic imprints in the minds of animals and people. This is an easy, painless way to give animals positive karmic imprints for their future rebirths; these positive imprints will ripen in the animals' future incarnations.

- by Scott Palczak

From the book "DEAR LAMA ZOPA - Radical Solutions for Transforming Problems into Happiness":

Introduction to "Dear Lama Zopa":
This is a book of letters to people all over the world from Lama Zopa Rinpoche in response to requests for advice about their problems. Every word of advice Rinpoche gives is based on teachings of the Buddha.

Rinpoche is a master of the techniques that enable us to achieve what Buddha asserts is our innate potential for perfection, enlightenment.

The development of the mind in this way is not a mystical process, a hit - and - miss affair, which is often the way spiritual development is depicted.

According to Buddha:

It is a doable, rigorous, step - by - step procedure,
Doable by everyone,
That brings genuine, stable results:
huge affection and empathy for others and the yearning to benefit them, and the unfailing ability to do so.

Rinpoche is the spiritual director of a worldwide network of Buddhist centers and activities:
The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Rinpoche travels throughout the year, teaching at his centers and overseeing his projects, such as the building of the 500-foot statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, in northern India. He also spends several months a year in meditation retreat.

Like many great masters, Rinpoche is skilled at recommending appropriate Tibetan herbal medicine. Along with appropriate practices and advice, Rinpoche often sends a book, blessed pills, a calendar, or other gifts as well. Letters rarely take less than 2 hours to answer, and sometimes they can be as long as 30 pages, written over several days. - from the introduction to the book "Dear Lama Zopa"


"We call our dog Om Mani Padme Hum, the compassion mantra. Each time she hears her name it plants the seed for the whole path to enlightenment in her mind, leaving a positive imprint. This is such an easy way to benefit animals.


Reciting prayers and mantras into my pet's ears leaves imprints in her mind that ripen in her future life, causing her to receive spiritual teachings."


My Dear James,

You're right. It's not enough that you look after animals and that they give you comfort. You must do something of practical benefit for them. You can recite prayers or mantras in her ears to plant the seed of all the realizations of the path to enlightenment. Or you can play CDs of prayers and mantras so that she can hear them.


My dog is old now. When it comes time for her to die, I'd rather not have to put her down, but I really want to help her. Please tell me some practices I can do that will help her mind then. And what can I do to help once she is dead?

Dear Roberta,

What you can do for your dog when she is dying is keep her in a quiet place where she won't be disturbed. Then you can do either of the following:

Perform Medicine Buddha practice, visualizing the seven Medicine Buddhas on the crown of the animal, absorbing into the animal.

After she has died you can:
recite the Chenrezig mantra and other mantras and then blow strongly over her body after each mantra.


Dear Mary,

One of the things you can do for animals and insects is to save them from being killed. I started a particular tradition of liberating animals in which we set animals free in a safe environment. At our house, we have three or four animal - liberation practices every month.

But not only do we simply save their lives. We carry them around a stupa as many times as possible. We chant mantras and blow on water, which we then sprinkle on them, and then we liberate them into water or the earth, according to the kinds of creatures they are. Not only does this liberate them from the lower realms, but it also creates the cause for their enlightenment. If you don't have a stupa you can put many holy objects such as Buddha images and texts, on a table in the middle of a room.

While carrying the insects or animals, walk around the table as many times as you like, reciting mantras or other prayers.

Like us, all beings want happiness and do not want suffering, problems, or discomfort.


My Very Dear Terri,

I am sending you my condolences for our dear Steve Irwin, who is known to the world as "The Crocodile Hunter" - maybe even known to the snakes and crocodiles as well.

I watched Steve Irwin so many times on television, for so many years: Steve catching snakes and crocodiles, letting them go, and also helping them, and all his incredible excitement. It made me curious when I was watching him, his being very active, how his life would end, whether one day he would be killed by one of those animals.

When I heard the news I immediately did prayers, chanting many mantras and prayers for him, purifying anything that causes suffering. I made prayers for the best things to happen to him. You and your family must be very sad, but since you have a strong bond with him, according to Buddhist philosophy you have created the cause to meet him again.

He may not reincarnate in the same shape or body, but, like the flame of a candle, when you light another from it, the flame continues.

Please continue your good heart, bringing peace to the world, to human beings - and to the animals, who are the largest number in the world when compared with humans. Continue to give your love to them.

- With much love and prayers, Lama Zopa Rinpoche


Chenrezig Mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum:

17th Karmapa chants the Medicine Buddha Mantra:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


CHINA STUDY - from "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins:

In the early 1970s, the premier of China, Chou En-lai, was dying of cancer. In the grip of this terminal disease, Premier Chou initiated a nationwide survey to collect information about the extent and location of cancer in China. The result was the most ambitious biomedical research project ever undertaken, involving more than 650,000 workers. The cancer survey was truly monumental. It catalogued the death rates for 12 different kinds of cancers in more than 2,400 Chinese counties - 96 percent of China's population. The survey found that cancers were vastly more common in some parts of China than in others.

As a result of the vast amount of information gathered in the China Study, Dr. Campbell came to believe that the scientific evidence indicates a diet based on plant foods with a minimum of foods derived from animals as the ideal diet for human beings. In fact, his book "The China Study" is one of the strongest scientific arguments ever amassed for such a way of eating.

Pages 129-130) Dr. Campbell wrote: "One of the most dramatic findings of the China Project was the strong association between foods of animal origin and cancer . . . We found that one of the strongest predictors of Western diseases was blood cholesterol . . . Lower blood cholesterol levels were linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer and other Western diseases . . . As blood cholesterol levels decreased from 170mg/dl. to 90 mg/dl., cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, lung, breast, stomach, esophagus, brain, and leukemia decreased . . . It's not enough simply to make a few small dietary changes to prevent cancer. A major shift towards plant-based foods and away from animal foods is likely to produce much greater benefits."

Page 131) Dr. Campbell says, "The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet."

Page 132) If the correlation between cancer and animal food consumption is indeed as powerful as the China Study found, you would expect other studies to find the same thing. It turns out that is the case. A study of 122,000 female nurses, for example, found that those women who ate meat daily were 2 1/2 times more likely to get colon cancer than those women who ate meat less than once a month.

In 2001, a comprehensive Harvard review of the research on dairy products and prostate cancer found that those who had over the course of their lives consumed the most dairy products had double the rate of advanced prostate cancer and 4 times the rate of metastatic prostate cancer. A high intake of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, was associated with a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.

Page 130) Other studies, including the famous Physician’s Health Study have also confirmed a link between dairy product consumption and prostate cancer. And a study of more than 12,000 Seventh-Day Adventists men found that those who drank soy milk regularly had a whopping 70 percent reduction in their risk of prostate cancer.

Page 131) Just how important it is to eat a plant-based diet to prevent cancer was confirmed in 1997, when the American Institute for Cancer Research issued a major international report, Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. The report analyzed more than 4,500 research studies dealing with diet and cancer, and its production involved the participants of more than 120 contributors and peer reviews, including participants from the World Health Organization of the United Nations, the International Agency on Research in Cancer, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Included in the report was a study by a panel of fifteen of the world’s leading researchers in diet and cancer who reviewed more than 200 case-controlled studies on the link between fruits and vegetables and cancer. An astounding 78 percent of these studies found fruits and vegetables to have a statistically protective effect in regard to one or more kinds of cancer. Only 22 percent showed no significant link. None showed an increase of cancer with consumption of these foods.

The overall report’s number one dietary recommendation?

Choose predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods.

Pages 130-131) Today, men in China who are still eating their traditional whole - foods, plant - based diets without any dairy products have one of the lowest rates of advanced prostate cancer in the world. And no one can say these low rates are due to a genetic advantage, because Chinese American men living in the United States and eating the standard American diet have been shown to have rates 10 times as high as their genetic counterparts still eating in the traditional way in China.

China has traditionally been a vegetarian culture, while hamburgers have long been a defining feature of the U.S. lifestyle. As recently as 1974, the United States consumed close to 50 times more meat than China. But by 2005, the Chinese diet was becoming increasingly similar to the standard U.S. diet, and China was consuming nearly twice as much meat as the United States. In the 30 years between 1974 and 2004, meat consumption in China increased an astonishing 12,700 percent.

In 1989, Kentucky Fried Chicken became the first foreign fast - food franchise to set up shop in China. McDonald's and others soon followed. By 2004 there were more than 1,200 KFC outlets in China - the company was opening nearly one a day.

The dietary changes are enormous. While TV commercials starring pop heartthrobs are persuading millions of Chinese teens to drink Pepsi, China's children are now weaned on cheeseburgers from McDonald's, pizza from Pizza Hut, and fried chicken from KFC.

Page 134) Recent studies are also finding a sharp rise in levels of blood cholesterol throughout China in the last decade, and in the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes in both children and adults. Urban areas in particular are already seeing a dramatic increase in heart disease and cancer.

- from "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins


Dr. Dean Ornish’s best-known research is the Lifestyle Heart Trial, in which he treated patients with advanced heart disease not with drugs, but with lifestyle changes alone.

He put a group of patients on a very low fat plant-based diet for a year, and asked them to stop smoking, to get regular moderate exercise, to spend ½ hour every day stretching, meditating, relaxing, or doing some other form of stress reduction, and to participate in weekly psychological and social support groups.

Meanwhile, a control group was treated with the standard American Heart Association heart disease program and utilizes cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The results revolutionized the treatment of heart disease worldwide. Those patients who completed Dr. Ornish’s experimental program achieved medically unprecedented improvements in health and vitality. On average, their total cholesterol dropped from 227 mg/dL to 172 mg/dL, and their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol dropped even more dramatically – from 152 mg/dL to 95 mg/dL.

Furthermore, the frequency, duration, and severity of their chest pain plummeted. The more closely the patients adhered to the Lifestyle recommendations, the more their hearts healed.

Nearly all the patients in Ornish’s program not only arrested the development of their heart disease but they actually experienced marked improvement. Things not only stopped getting worse; they got dramatically better – something that had never been seen before in the history of heart treatment.

What about the control group who followed the American Heart Association program? They did not fare nearly as well. Their chest pain became worse in frequency, duration, and severity. While Ornish’s group experienced a 91 percent reduction in the frequency of chest pain, the control group had a 165 percent rise. Further, their bad-cholesterol levels were significantly higher than in Ornish’s experimental group, while the blockages in their arteries also increased.


Page 140) Less well known than Dr. Ornish, but equally convinced of the health advantages of a plant - based diet, is Cleveland Clinic general surgeon and researcher Dr. Caldwel B. Esselstyn, Jr. writing in "The Journal of Cardiology," Dr. Esselstyn describes his 12 - year study in which, as he puts it, "patients became virtually heart - disease proof" while eating a diet with almost no animal products.

All of the patients in Esselstyn's study had severe heart disease at the outset, yet after 12 years on his program, 95 percent of them were alive and well. How sick were they to begin with? The 18 patients in Esselstyn's study had experienced 48 serious cardiac events between them in the eight years before they joined the study. But in the 12 years of the study, the 17 patients who stayed with the program experienced a grand total of zero cardiac events.

Is a diet with very few animal products too extreme for most people to follow? Esselstyn doesn't think so. He writes:

Some criticize the plant - based diet as extreme or draconian. Webster's dictionary defines draconian as "inhumanly cruel." A closer look reveals that "extreme" or "inhumanly cruel" describes not plant - based nutrition, but the consequences of our present Western diet. Having a sternum divided for bypass surgery or a stroke that renders one an aphasic invalid can be construed as extreme; and having a breast, prostate, colon or rectum removed to treat cancer may seem inhumanly cruel. These diseases are rarely seen in populations consuming a plant - based diet.

Similarly, Dr. Dean Ornish reflects,

I don't understand why asking people to eat a well - balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it's medically conservative to cut people open or put them on powerful cholesterol - lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.

In November 2005, National Geographic published a cover story that echoed its influencial articles of the 1970s. Titled "The Secrets of Living Longer," the lead article featured 3 contemporary groups of long - living people, those from Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, and Loma Linda, California, all of whom eat a plant - based diet. At the conclusion of the issue, National Geographic summarized the "secrets of long Life" in 2 words: "Go vegetarian."


Page 79) According to the researchers who conducted the Okinawa Centenarian Study, the elders' diet has indeed played a profound role in the health they have attained. Thanks to these researchers' meticulous investigations, we have an extraordinarily detailed picture of the foods the elders have eaten. And we can see that the diets of the world's exceptionally healthy and long - lived peoples have a great deal in common:

1.) They are all low (by Western standards) in overall calories.

2.) They are all high in good carbohydrates, including plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

3.) They are all "whole - foods," diets with very little (if any) processed or refined foods, sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, or other chemicals.

4.) They all depend on fresh foods, eating primarily what is in season and locally grown rather than relying on canned foods or foods shipped long distances.

5.) They are all low (although not super - low) in fat, and the fats come from natural sources, including seeds, nuts, and in some cases fish, rather than from bottled oils, margarines, or saturated animal fats.

6.) They all derive their protein primarily from plant sources, including beans, peas, grains, seeds, and nuts.

- from "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins

THE CHINA STUDY - by T. Colin Campbell PhD

Page 126) In 1985, Dr. Esselstyn began his study with the primary goal of reducing his patients' blood cholesterol to below 150 mg/dL. He asked each patient to record everything he or she ate in a food diary. Every two weeks, for the next five years, Dr. Esselstyn met with his patients to discuss the process, administer blood tests and record blood pressure and weight. He followed up this daytime meeting with an evening telephone call to report the results of the blood tests and further discuss how the diet was working. In addition, all of his patients met regularly a few times a year to talk about the program, socialize and exchange helpful information.

The diet they, including Dr. Esselstyn and his wife Ann, followed was free of all added fat and almost all animal products. Dr. Esselstyn and his colleagues report, "Participants were to avoid oils, meat, fish, fowl and dairy products, except for skim milk and nonfat yogurt." About 5 years into the program, Dr. Esselstyn recommended to his patients that they stop consuming any skim milk and yogurt as well.

Five of his patients dropped out of the study within the first two years; that left eighteen. These 18 patients originally had come to Esselstyn with severe disease. Within the 8 years leading up to the study, these 18 people had suffered through 49 coronary events, including angina, bypass surgery, heart attacks, strokes and angioplasty. These were not healthy hearts. One might imagine that they were motivated to join the study by the panic created when premature death is near.

The 18 patients achieved remarkable success. At the start of the study, the patients' average cholesterol level was 246 mg/dL. During the course of the study, the average cholesterol was 132 mg/dL., well below the 150 mg/dL target! Their levels of "bad" cholesterol dropped just as dramatically. In the end, though, the most impressive result was not the cholesterol levels, but how many coronary events occurred since the start of the study.

In the following eleven years, there was exactly ONE coronary event among the 18 patients who followed the diet. That one event was from a patient who strayed from the diet for two years. Not only has the disease in these patients been stopped, it has even been reversed. Seventy percent of his patients have seen an opening of their clogged arteries.

Page 78) As blood cholesterol levels in rural China rose in certain counties, the incidence of "Western" diseases also increased. What made this so surprising was that Chinese levels were far lower than we expected. The average level of blood cholesterol was only 127 mg/dL, which is almost 100 points less than the American average (215 mg/dL)! some counties had average levels as low as 94 mg/dL. For two groups of about 25 women in the inner part of China, average blood cholesterol was at the amazingly low level of 80 mg/dL.

If you know your own cholesterol levels, you'll appreciate how low these values really are. In the U.S., our range is around 170 - 290 mg/dL. Our low values are near the high values for rural China. Lower cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other Western diseases, even at levels far below those considered "safe" in the West.

At the outset of the China Study, no one could or would have predicted that there would be a relationship between cholesterol and any of the disease rates. What a surprise we got! As blood cholesterol levels decreased from 170 mg/dL to 90 mg/dL, all cancers of liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, adult brain, stomach, and esophagus (throat) decreased. As you can see, this is a sizable list. Most Americans know that if you have high cholesterol, you should worry about your heart, but they don't know that you might worry about cancer as well.

- from "The China Study"

THE OKINAWA PROGRAM – by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D. & D. Craig Willcox, PhD
& Makoto Suzuki, M.D.

Okinawa happens to be the home of the longest – lived people in the world. People there seem to have beaten the aging process and the debilitating diseases that accompany the “golden years” in the West. Heart disease is minimal, breast cancer so rare that screening mammography is not needed, and most aging men have never heard of prostate cancer. In fact, as a group, the 3 leading killers in the West - coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cancer – occur in Okinawa with the lowest frequency in the world.

To understand the magnitude of this health phenomenon, imagine a typical town of 100,000 inhabitants. If the town were located in Okinawa, only 18 people would die from coronary heart disease in a typical year. If the town were in the United States, 100 people would die. Simply put, if Americans lived more like the Okinawans we would have to close down 80 percent of the coronary care units and 1/3 of the cancer wards in the United States, and a lot of nursing homes would be out of business.

Page 69) Okinawan elders eat an average of 7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, 7 servings of grains per day, 2 servings of flavonoid – rich soy products per day; omega – 3 rich fish several times a week; and minimal dairy products and meat. This is EXACTLY the type of diet that affords protection against most diseases associated with premature aging, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and gives the best shot at remaining slim, healthy, and attractive for life.

Page 49) The Okinawans stay lean by eating a low – calorie, unrefined complex carbohydrate diet, practicing hara hachi bu (only eating till they are 80 percent full), and keeping active the natural way – no Atkins Diet, no Zone, no Protein Power for them. Note that we say unrefined complex carbohydrates. These are very different from the high – calorie refined carbohydrates that push the pancreas into overdrive with insulin production. Unrefined complex carbohydrates are “whole carbs” and include fruit, vegetables, and whole grains with their natural fiber intact.


Excerpts from Andrew Weil's Book " Health & Healing":

No system of treatment has a monopoly on cures. Every system I have examined cures some of the patients some of the time. Every system I have examined - including allopathic medicine - fails to work some of the time, regardless of how logical and scientifically sound its theory, how careful its application, and how strong its indication for a particular problem or patient. Again, the frequency of failures is not known, but in my experience it is considerable for all systems, allopathy included.

- from "Health & Healing" by Andrew Weil


Increasingly, meat eaters are claiming that vegans are exaggerating the health benefits of plant-based diets. Maybe we should ignore the plethora of data showing the benefits of proper vegan diets. Why not hope for a magic pill to deliver us from gluttony and its deadly consequences?

When reading about these nutritional studies, it is worth noting this: beef, chicken, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and steak and eggs CANNOT cure or improve ANY disease. In fact, these animal proteins stimulate the rise of cancer – promoting hormones such as IGF-1. It is not just the saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products, but insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), that causes disease.

Consider too, that if meat improved or cured cancer, studies would indicate this: cancer patients should eat more hot dogs! Dairy products have not reversed any diseases, either.

If meat and dairy shrank tumors, or stopped the spread of cancer cells, then newspapers would publish articles like this: “Meat & Milk Improves Cancer.” You will not read this headline: "Ice Cream and Cheeseburgers Cure Cancer." Even the National Enquirer would not publish these headlines!


Too much animal protein = more disease
Too much sugar = more disease
Too much salt = more disease

Interestingly, mega corporations such as McDonald's have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting their high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar junk fare. Also, controlling weight is a matter of controlling calories. Controlling calories demands enough willpower to eat only when you are genuinely hungry. There is nothing magical about eating meat, dairy and eggs. One magazine's wonder diet is another publication's road to cancer.

The standard American diet is NOT preventing diseases, and it does NOT improve or cure ANY disease. Telling cancer patients to continue eating what they've been eating is very bad advice.

We already know from the Okinawa Study, the China Study and hundreds of other studies what the optimal diet is for humans. We know that humans are designed to eat a large amount of plants - not animal protein - and millions of people thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Yet, some people tout the so-called Paleo Diet or the Atkins Diet as beneficial for humans, when the evidence shows that Paleo Diets and Atkins Diets are NOT producing the world's longest - lived and healthiest people.

In America, eating sugary, fatty foods is the great American pastime. Eating junk food has become a virtual secular religion based on gluttony and hedonism as the goal of human life. Billion-dollar corporations saturate the American body and psyche with their fat-laden, artery-clogging, cancer-causing garbage fare which is helping to create epidemics of arthritis, cancer, heart disease, strokes, etc.

Considerable nutritional science is behind these therapeutic whole - foods and raw vegan diets. We know the value of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are abundant in these diets. Natural - medicine doctors have known for decades that extra amounts of vitamins and minerals far exceeding the so - called RDA can have powerful preventive and healing effects with minimal side effects, especially when compared to synthetic drugs.

Bad luck or accidents are not the reasons that people develop chronic degenerative diseases, rather, these conditions are earned through years of poor dietary habits and poor nutrition. Consider too, the long-term effects of smoking or exposure to environmental toxins and the source of common diseases is less of a mystery.

Yet, these serious, debilitating illnesses can be reversed. Joel Fuhrman M.D. writes in his book "Fasting and Eating for Health" that he has helped hundreds of patients recover from serious, degenerative diseases by fasting and eating a healthy, low-fat vegan diet. Joel Fuhrman's book should be read and thoroughly digested by all medical doctors and serious laymen.

Dr. Dean Ornish mentions in the book "Breast Cancer - Beyond Convention" that "incidences of clinically significant prostate, breast and colon cancers are much lower in parts of the world that eat a predominately low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet. Subgroups of people in the United States who eat this diet also have much lower rates of these cancers than those who eat a typical American diet."

Despite increasingly sophisticated methods of diagnosis and treatment, our so-called "War on Cancer" is being lost; cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the United States. The War on Cancer and other degenerative diseases is being lost because the standard American diet is more powerful at creating disease than medical science is at curing it.

We all know that obesity is a national epidemic which is fueled by ceaseless TV commercials reminding us of the joys of gluttony. Where are the commercials reminding us of the health hazards of these foods? Some of these "foods" are so dangerous they should be served with a warning label.

Early detection, surgery and radiation can be very effective treatments against cancer, but they cannot prevent a reoccurrence of the disease, which is quite common. A true cure consists of correcting the underlying causes of the cancer using proper diet, lifestyle and nutrition. And standard medical treatments cannot reverse conditions that are operating concurrently with cancer. For that, a holistic approach is needed.

Actually, few if any diseases, can really be cured by modern medicine. It is a basic fact that drugs and surgery cannot cure disease. A true "miracle drug" would be one with no side effect, and that miracle has yet to occur. All drugs are basically toxins that when injested will accumulate in the body. But a healthy, low-fat vegan diet can allow the body to heal itself because the proper healing environment is created and all obstacles to healing are removed.

Symptoms may be relieved, pain diminished, and offending body parts removed, but the underlying causes of the disease must be addressed for a true cure to occur. Holistic medicine does not view cancer as a localized, foreign invader as much as it is the body's attempt to localize toxins resulting from poor diet, wrong lifestyle and/or a toxic environment.

Cancer and other serious, degenerative diseases are at epidemic proportions because people are not living in harmony with natural laws of diet and healthy living. Eating greasy- fried double bacon cheeseburgers, French fries, double-layer pizzas, ice cream, fried chicken and more has mass appeal, which is why we have massive amounts of disease. It is no great secret that the American diet is highly toxic.

According to Kevin Trudeau's book "Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About," the so-called "war on cancer" is a fraud. The book states: "Consider that modern Western medicine has "searched" for the "cause" and "cure" for cancer and other degenerative diseases for well over 100 years and has failed miserably even though:

1.) The mission was entrusted to the "best" researchers in the medical, academic and industrial sectors.

2.) They have private and government contracts with huge amounts of money.

3.) They falsify research procedures, lie about results and cover for each other. Dr. Linus Pauling, PhD., twice Nobel laureate, called the war on cancer largely a failure.

The purpose and driving force of the pharmaceutical industry is to increase their sales of pharmaceutical drugs that treat ongoing diseases, and to find new diseases or rename old diseases to market their existing drugs.

The eradication of any disease inevitably destroys a multi-billion dollar market for prescription drugs as a source of revenue. Therefore, deadly toxic chemical drugs are developed to treat symptoms but not cure anything.

It's been known for at least a hundred years that a natural raw foods diet, colonics, fasting, vitamins and minerals can be used to cure, or at least improve, the majority of diseases. Pharmaceutical companies and the food industry control the media, and they absolutely do not want natural cures for any disease made known to the public.

Millions of people suffer from painful inflammatory conditions. Here again it is NOT meat, dairy and eggs to the rescue - it is fruits and vegetables. Anti - inflammatory eating can be boiled down to six simple rules:

1.) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables - at least five servings each day

2.) Add flaxseed oil to your diet

3.) Eat very little meat, poultry, cheese, butter, and other animal products - or become a vegetarian or vegan.

4.) Take a multi-vitamin mineral supplement everyday

5.) Eat less

6.) Eliminate or at least decrease junk food intake

As if mountains of scientific evidence are not enough, we also have personal testimonies of people who have lived on a strict, whole-foods vegan diet. Paul Bragg was one such individual and in his book "The Miracle of Fasting" he stated that even though he was past 85 years of age, he could jog several miles, swim, and even perform difficult yoga postures while standing on his head! Imagine Robert Atkins performing such feats.

Robert Atkins himself had suffered a heart attack while eating one of his artery-clogging, fat-laden breakfasts on April 25, 2002. But he and his cardiologist said it was not diet related! Atkins was also clinically obese at the time of death. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that massive quantities of saturated fat and cholesterol will eventually wreak revenge on the human body. I'd like to see a single legitimate study showing that Atkins dieters are living long and healthy lives.

For some reason, the general public more readily accepts the reality of living - or dying - with serious, self-imposed diseases than it does in changing dietary habits. To become a junk food vegetarian is not the goal. Hundreds of healthy, tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes exist in books, magazines and on the Web. However, to reverse diseases a very strict low-fat, healthy vegan diet is required, although depending on the condition, some people eat a small amount of fish. Sometimes fasting is necessary, which will require expert supervision, depending on the severity of the illness.

Diseases among middle-aged and elderly people is the rule not the exception. The American Medical Association, the media, and most doctors have little appetite for natural healing methods that use diet and/or fasting, and this is a major disservice to the American public. Instead of reading about hundreds of people cured of serious, debilitating diseases using naturopathy, we have been saturated with articles about the Atkins Diet. Where are the studies showing us that Atkins dieters are living long and healthy lives? Where is the evidence showing us that meat and dairy are effective foods to fight cancer, heart disease, or any disease for that matter?

Fighting disease is not only big business - it is serious business. A wise person will reflect on what causes diseases to form and what foods are most effective at preventing or controlling these conditions. An ounce of prevention is worth at least a pound of cure.

- by Scott Palczak

1.) DR. FUHRMAN - Smart Nutrition. Superior Health


3.) PETA PRIME: Can a Plant-Based Diet Cure Cancer?

4.) ANTI - CANCER DIET - by Dr. Richard Beliveau


6.) PHYSICIAN'S COMMITTEE for RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE - Resources for Health Conditions

7.) VEGAN DIETS FIGHT CANCER! - from the Huffington Post with Kathy Freston

8.) DR. DEAN ORNISH: Undo Heart Disease with Ornish



11.) FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD: Movie trailer and Joe's Fascinating Story

12.) Viva! Plant - based Diets & Cardiovascular Disease Fact Sheet



15.) BEAT CANCER - A Book About Beating Cancer with a Vegan Diet

16.) NATURAL NEWS: A vegan diet offers relief from inflammatory disease and reduces heart disease risk




LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A diet containing plenty of processed meats, like hot dogs and sausages, raises the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a large multiethnic study unveiled on Wednesday.

Researchers found that heavy consumers of processed meats - 40 grams a day or more - were 67 percent more likely to develop cancer of the pancreas than study participants with the lowest intake.

In addition, a diet rich in pork and red meat - 70 grams a day or more - also increased pancreatic cancer risk by about 50 percent, according to the study.

Meat consumption has been linked to pancreatic cancer in the past, but study results have been inconsistent.

This seven-year study examined the relationship between diet and pancreatic cancer in 190,545 men and women of African - American, Japanese - American, Caucasian, Latino and Native Hawaiian descent.

It is believed that chemical reactions that occur during the preparation of processed meats might be responsible for the association.

The results were reported at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, California.