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BOOK REVIEW: SAPIENS–A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

    100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today, there is one. That is us. Homo-sapiens. How did our species succeed in this battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights? Was it to trust money, books and laws, and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our model be like in the millennia to come?

    In the book “Sapiens—A Brief history of Humankind”—Dr Yuval Noah Harari, spans the gamut of human history, from the very first humans who walked the earth to the radical—and sometimes devastating—breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing, on insights from biology, anthropology, and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities.

    But have we become happier, with the history unfolding? Can we ever, set ourselves free from the heritage of our ancestors? And can we do something to influence the course of the centuries to come?

    Bold, out-of-the-box and provocative, the book challenges everything we thought we knew about being human beings.

    What is the meaning of Species? Animals belong to the same species, if they tend to mate and give birth to fertile off-springs. What is the meaning of Genus? Species that have evolved from the common ancestor. They usually won’t mate but can be induced to do so. Eg. Mule a cross between (Horse and donkey), and the Liger a cross between (Lion and Tiger).

    Now that we know the terms Species and Genus, we can understand the meaning of Homo-Sapiens—‘Homo’ is the genus and ‘Sapiens’ (intelligent) the species. Some other members of our genus are, now extinct, Homo Erectus and Homo Neanderthalensis. Homo Sapiens closest living species is Chimpanzees.

THE COGNITIVE REVOLUTION—THE RISE OF HOMO-SAPIENS

    Homo genus has, unusually big brains that drains a lot of energy. A Homo Sapien brain consumes 25% of energy at rest, 8% is the norm for other apes. The big brain, is an even bigger cause of human infants which are born relatively premature (in terms of physical strength) compared to other species. The long gestation period and the raising of the child implied that the evolution favoured strong social ties in humans. Regular use of fire started about 300,000 years ago.

    The carefully managed fire was not only used to clear forests but was also used for cooking food as it was faster to digest. Long intestines and large brains both use a lot of energy, it is hard to have both. Since cooked food led to shortening of intestines it resulted in our brains to grow bigger. As Homo-Sapiens, spread from East Africa to Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and Asia, they drove other Homo species like the Neanderthals to extinction. Some interbreeding did happen but it was mostly the Sapien’s superior social skills that allowed them to make communities and drove other Homo species into extinction.

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

    About 100,000 years ago, Homo-Sapiens migrated out of Africa, but returned, after losing to Neanderthals. About, 70,000 years ago, they tried again, and this time they succeeded, due to, the invention of language which allowed them to invent, tons of things like boats, lamps, needles. This cognitive revolution allowed Homo-Sapiens to dominate earth. Anthropologists (people who study human societies and cultures and their development) believe that our complex language was used more for gossip than to discuss where to hunt. And from there evolved the ability to create and believe in myths. The myths allowed us to collaborate and cooperate in large numbers in the form of tribes and now, in the form of the nation.

    The author goes on to say that nations are a myth and so are religions, and all are creations of our imagination. Unlike animals, trees, fish, rivers, the above myths have no association with the real physical entity. These myths, surprisingly, allow believers to work together and collectively. Homo-Sapiens ability to believe in myths allow us to form big groups of millions of individuals who have never met each other. Thus the author takes you through a high illusionary trajectory.

    In animals these groups are limited to the size of 25-30, who know each other. These animals cannot form large groups. The other big advantage of passing myths via language, is that, that it doesn’t require any DNA mutations. Buddhist monks pass on the celibacy, not via genes but by imparting their religion (again a myth) to the followers, some of who, convert. And that’s probably how Homo-Sapiens defeated Neanderthals. While Sapiens would have lost one-on-one combat, they had the wisdom to form large groups which Neanderthals couldn’t.

THE HUNTER GATHERER SOCIETY

    Barring the past 10,000 years, Sapiens have evolved in pre-agricultural hunter societies. They shaped our psychological and social characteristics. These ancient hunters knew a lot more about their own surroundings than us. While we, collectively, as a human society knew a lot more, the individuals of today knew a lot less. Hunters societies tended to eat wide and varied diet and hence, had a lower chance of malnutrition than the farmers who ate just a few staple crops. Hunter’s working hours were much less (30-35 hours per week) and since they neither engaged in the domestication of animals nor stayed in dense settlements, the epidemics were rare.

AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION—HISTORY’S BIGGEST FRAUD

    Agriculture started in about 9000 BC and domestication of crops was over by about 3500 BC. Today, we eat the same crops—Wheat, Maize, Rice, Potato, Millet, and Barley. Where, only a few species could be domesticated, they were in the Middle East, China, and Central America but not in Australia or Africa. And that’s where, independent domestication of crops started.

    Wheat went from an unknown crop, to a crop that has spread across the planet. Human bodies were not designed for agriculture and farming. Wheat demands protection from pests, animals and even other human beings. The only advantage farming has is, that it leads to more food per unit area and allowed humans to multiply exponentially. Overall, the agriculture revolution in the short run made the life of human beings miserable, so then, why did it happen?

    Agricultural revolution led to permanent settlements that encouraged women to have more kids. Over time, as farmers multiplied, they cleared even more lands reducing the scope for hunters even further. Just like the modern day luxury treadmill, agriculture soon became a necessity to support the ever-increasing population. And there was no going back then. Similarly, domestication of animals proceeded with slaughtering the most aggressive, weak, and economically unworthy animals first.

    Over a period of time, domesticated animals, evolved, to become economically more worthy and even more submissive. Just like wheat, animals such as chicken, sheep, pig, and cow spread all over the world, but then they were treated brutally. From repeated impregnation (i.e. making female animals pregnant) to castration (i.e. removal of testicles of a male animals), their life became miserable compared to the life in the wild. Who else, but Homo-Sapiens were the culprits.

BUILDING PYRAMIDS

    The food surplus exploded the population from 8 million in 10,000 BC to 250 million in about 100 AD. The food surplus eventually led to the emergence of bigger political and social orders like cities and nations. Rather than being based on some ingrained human characteristics, these were imagined human orders based on shared beliefs and myths. “All humans beings are created equal” is completely incorrect from a biological standpoint. Human beings are all different from each other. Animistic beliefs (meaning a belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence) are a myth, so are human rights. There is nothing biological about them. They only exist in our shared imaginations.

    Natural order is indeed the stable order. Even if people don’t believe in gravity, apples would still continue to fall. But if people don’t believe in human rights, society will collapse. While some aggression is a must in terms of police and army to enforce an order, but then the elites or the rulers themselves have to believe is such orders. Christianity, capitalism, democracy, all are imagined orders with a large number of believers.

    The two of the biggest imagined orders of the modern world are romanticism and consumerism. Romanticism teaches us that we must have as many experiences as possible to fulfil our expectations. Consumerism teaches us that we must consume as many goods as possible. The imagined order is inter-subjective. Radioactivity is objective, it happens whether you believe in it or not. An imaginary friend is subjective since it exists only as long as you believe in it. The preciousness of gold is inter-subjective since it exists not only in your imagination (belief system) but also in the belief system of millions of others.

    For changing an inter-subjective belief system, one has to convince everyone else, and to convince everyone else, they have to believe in an even bigger imaginary order.    Trust has replaced priceless things like honour, loyalty, morality, and love.

THE EVOLUTION OF MONEY

    A barter system does not measure accurately. If there are 100 types of goods then the two parties who are exchanging the goods have to know 4950 combinations of exchange rates every day. Money ends up being a central mechanism to linearize the problem since every seller has to know the price of their good in a single currency. Of course, just like religion, money is an inter-subjective reality which only exists in our imaginations. And it does not have to be coins or notes. In Nazi concentration camps, cigarettes were a currency.

    The only requirement is that it should be easy to transport, store, and has a wide enough acceptance. Money is the most useful and efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.

    The original form of money like Barley had an intrinsic biological value as compared to marked gold and silver coins, where, no weighing was required to find the value. Then came sanctioned currency which had no intrinsic value, and then to electronic currency which had no physical existence. When we use money as a medium of exchange, we don’t trust each other; we trust money. When someone runs out of money, we run out of trust in them. Money as a source of universal convertibility and trust has replaced priceless things like honour, loyalty, morality, and love.

IMPERIAL VISIONS

    An empire is characterised by cultural diversity and territorial flexibility. All empires have engaged in the brutal slaughter and assimilation of people outside its borders to extend its territory. Slowly, the newly acquired population forgets what they stood for. For example, in 7th century AD, Arab empire crushed Egyptians with an iron fist, today Egyptians think of themselves as Arabs.

    One major change that happened over a period of time in the imperial vision was that empires changed their imagined reality from ‘we are conquering you for our benefit’ to more of humanistic stance. Persian king changed his philosophy from ‘Persian King’ to ‘everyone’s king.’ This was the first time in history, Sapiens were (pretending) to get rid of “us” vs “them” feeling.

    However, this macho approach of the conqueror continued to assume the inferiority of those who were conquered. That’s why M.K. Gandhi, a London-educated, qualified barrister was thrown out of a train meant only for whites.

    Almost, all imperial empires follow a similar paradigm. First, they conquer territories, then those territories adopt the new culture. This is when the people of these territories demand equal stature. This leads to friction.

    The next stage of human history will not involve biological and technological changes alone, but also changes in human consciousness and identity.    Many people think the question we should ask to guide our scientific pursuit is, ‘What do we want to become?’ As we seem to be on the path of genetic engineering and programming,

    In the past 1000 years, human beings have evolved to take over the world and are acting and behaving like gods. Yet, we still seem to be unhappy in many ways and we are unsure of what we want. How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without some good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving for it.

    You can never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in heaven. One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and spawns new obligations.

    Anthropologist Christopher Robert Hallpike reviewed the book but did not find any “serious contribution to knowledge.”

    First published in Hebrew in 2011 and then in English in 2014, the book was translated into 45 languages (as of June 2017). It also made it to The New York Times best-seller list, and won the National Library of China’s Wenjin Book Award for the best book published in 2014. The Guardian listed the book as among the ten “best brainy books of the decade”. Bill Gates ranked Sapiens among his ten favorite books. I would give it eight out of ten, but it’s for a class of readers.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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INTERESTING FACTS FIGURES & QUOTES EPISODE 25

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Burkina Faso is the least educated country of the world with a literacy rate of 21.8%. It is a landlocked country in West Africa.

William Shakespeare termed old age as the second childhood.

Maize Corn is the most produced grain in the world. Whereas, wheat covers most of the earth than any other crop.

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and one of the largest religious monuments of the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to God Vishnu for the Khmer Empire. It was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.

Are pigs the neatest of animals in the world: Contrary to popular belief, pigs are unable to sweat; instead, they wallow in mud to cool down. Their mucky appearance gives pigs an undeserved reputation for slovenliness. In fact, pigs are some of the cleanest animals around, refusing to excrete, anywhere near their living or eating areas when given a choice.

Staple diet of America: Whether it’s roasted, baked, fried, transformed into a patty, or used in a salad, sandwich or casserole, chicken remains a major dietary staple in the United States. Americans get almost as many calories from chicken as they do from bread, according to the USDA.

There is one major difference between a ROM (that is read-only memory) and a RAM (that is random-access memory) chip: ROM can hold data without power and RAM cannot. Essentially, ROM is meant for permanent storage, and RAM is for temporary storage.

Basketball is probably the most popular indoor sports in the world.

In a disturbing trend, tigers in the country are increasingly being killed by snares, even in the core areas of the sanctuaries. In the last nine years, 24 tigers and 114 leopards have suffered slow, agonizing deaths due to these traps. Worryingly, apart from poachers, local communities are also using these wire noose snares to kill the big cats preying on their livestock.

There has been a steady increase in tiger population in the last few years. India had 2,226 tigers as per the 2014 All India Tiger Estimation. This accounts for a 60% jump in tiger population compared to 2006.

Tigers need large habitats as they have high juvenile dispersal rates. Tigers have lost more than 95% of their historical range.

“Everything is ready except the east wind,” is an ancient Chinese proverb that translates to how can everything be ready without the thing which is most crucial.

Recently, the catastrophic disappearance of emperor penguins from Antarctica made global headlines. The colony of adults and nursing chicks was among the largest in the world. It sank without a trace due to global warming, because of weakened ice collapsing on unchilling waters. The tragedy is similar to the proverbial collapse of a star caused by the death of a sparrow.

In less than sixty years Singapore has transformed from a poor developed country into one of the richest—its per capita income is now double that of Australia. Singapore will be in a class entirely of its own by 2050.

Men argue. Nature acts–VOLTAIRE, French historian and philosopher.

If you destroy a free market you create a black market—WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of U.K.

The poetry of earth is never dead—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand—A Chinese proverb.

I want a brighter word than bright—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

KANERI CAVES

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

    Some may not know that Kaneri caves are neatly nestled inside the SGNP (Sanjay Gandhi National Park) in the Borivali region of Mumbai which is now a high end residential area of Mumbai. Mumbai has this characteristics of springing up surprises. In the past we saw the population of big cats rising in and around SGNP when every else in India it is was only going down, and in the same breath one finds these beautiful hand crafted caves in the midst of the concrete jungles and the financial capital of India–Mumbai. Mumbai otherwise is all about the great Indian Corporate Inc. On my two earlier postings I never could find time to visit these lovely creations even when we were staying close to SGNP in Kandivali where I have a flat. But, better late than never; this time we managed to visit the caves during a short holiday around the new-year while visiting our daughter-in-law and son. It was quite a breath taking view as we parked our car in the morning amidst the lush green surroundings of the SGNP just two km before the caves and started walking.

Before the merger of the seven-isles after the land reclamation during the 19th and 20th century this area was known as Saksette island. It happens to be one of the most populated islands of the world. It is bounded by Vasai Creek in the north; Ulhas-river in the north-east; Thane Creek and Bombay Harbour in the east and the great Arabian Sea in the south and west.

A Cluster of Rock Cut Monuments

 

    There is lot’s to see and assimilate in the Kaneri Caves that has a rich Buddhist legacy (Incidentally there are approx 50 crore Buddhists in the world today and it is the fourth largest religion in terms of adherents); and one goes spellbound as you go in and around the caves. A meticulous count revealed there are about 34 unfinished paintings of Buddha within the caves. Since we had gone in winters and that too in the morning, there was a certain nip in the air as we enjoyed the morning sun arching up. Apart from the paintings one should also see the ‘Vihara’ (The prayer hall) and the various different monasteries around the cave for a satiating fill of the ancient and historic Buddhist occupation and life.

 

And if you’ve had enough of history in your lifetime and are now looking for some fun and excitement then plan your trip accordingly that may include adventure sports such as rappelling, trapeze and treks around the fascinating lush green jungles of SGNP or the Silondha Trail that can be arranged by local tourist guides. The hilly terrain of the caves naturally creates several small waterfalls which are beautiful to watch especially during monsoon. Natural streams and rivers around the Kaneri Caves presents a stunning view of the area and exquisite locations for families to group and enjoy a small picnic while sightseeing the caves.

 

Being a Buddhist site, Kaneri could not have avoided its comparison with the other famous sites like Ellora, Ajanta and Nasik. Scholars have tried in the past to establish some kind of relationship between these Buddhist centers. Ellora has clear evidences suggesting the influence of Vajrayana Buddhism in later periods. Presence of female companions with Avalokiteshvara on few sculptures at Kaneri instigated scholars to suggest Vajrayana influence over Kaneri. Dulari Qureshi is among the recent ones to advocate this hypothesis. However, Debala Mitra is not in full support of it as he mentions that though we find female divinities in company of Bodhisattvas however full-fledged deities of the typical Vajrayana pantheon like those of Ellora are absent at Kaneri.

 

    Water System at Kanheri – It is a fact that almost all visitors of early 19th and 20th century appreciated the water system of this cave complex. Dr. Suraj Pandit writes that Kaneri had developed its own peculiarities like a well-developed water system, its own agricultural land, satellite settlements and resources for subsistence. There are water-cisterns provided at the entrance of almost each cave at Kaneri. An inscription also mentions the construction of a dam, of course to maintain the water resources.

 

Most of the caves are located at the southern hill. To support water supply to all these caves, five water tanks were constructed. Most of the cisterns are connected to these tanks and each other with a network of small channels. On the eastern hill, there is a place known as Gomukh where natural spring water was collected. It seems that the inhabitants tried their best to utilize every drop of rain water, states Dr Pandit. His study of water management system at Kaneri provides a glimpse of changes and restorations of rain water harvesting techniques spanning across a millennium.

 

While returning from Kaneri I had one thought in mind: Many of the things that the world claims to have developed in the contemporary were already there in India—Indic civilisation. So does it mean the entire Indic civilization degenerated post those times?

 

There are no places to shop inside the SGNP. There are a number of local eateries outside the SGNP. Borivali and Malad stations are the closest disembarkation.

 

 

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Article: A PEEP INTO UNAFFILIATED RELIGION

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

 

 

    Time has come for epiphany of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ A sizable population of the world today lives without aligning with any religion as you will read in this narration. The question is how? And how do they manage in this simmering world of religious intolerance. We all know religion is good for the essence of life. But what about religious intolerance and where does unaffiliated religion fit in. Well, no one has ready answers to these question, but one can definitely see the changing paradigms.

    Today, intolerance in every religion has increased manifold. There are fringe groups that have formed in almost every religion that shows intolerance towards other religions. But within all of this. There are still some spunky people. Who believe in the charisma of ‘unaffiliated religion.’ The population of ‘unaffiliated religion’ is around 16 % of the world population. The religiously unaffiliated number is 1.1 billion. Accounting for about one-in-six (16%) people worldwide. It includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. However, many of the religiously unaffiliated. Do hold some religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Apart from unaffiliated religion. There is also irreligion. Which is the absence of religion or indifference towards religion or rejection of religion or even hostility towards religion. When termed as the rejection of religious belief. It engulfs explicit atheism, religious dissidence and secular humanism. And when characterized as hostility towards religion. It includes anti-clericalism, anti-religion and anti-theism.

    According to Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study of 230 countries. 16% of the world’s population is not affiliated to any particular religion, while 84% are affiliated. The interesting fact finding in Pew Research Center’s 2012 global study is: Out of the global non-religious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), Sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).

    According to Pew Research Center projections. The population of the non-religious, though temporarily increasing, will ultimately decline significantly by 2050, because of lower reproductive rates and ageing.

    Being non-religious. Is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center’s global study from 2012 noted. That many of the non-religious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that “belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults.”

    If we were to analyse it country and zone wise. The statistics (pertaining to unaffiliated religion) are even more interesting:

  • Out of a total unaffiliated religious population of around 1.1 billion. The ten most populous countries in respective order of population are China 700 million (52% of population), Japan 70 million (57%), USA 50 million (16%), Vietnam 26 million (30%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Germany 20 million (25%), France 18 million (28%), North Korea 17 million (71.3%), Brazil 15 million (7.9%), & U.K. 13 million (21%). This population totals up to 955 million which is 85% of the total population of unaffiliated religion.
  • If we were to take the first ten countries highest by respective order of percentage share of (Unaffiliated religion) population. They would be: Czech Republic 8 million (76%), North Korea 17 million (71%), Estonia (Baltic state) 0.8 million (60%), Japan 70 million (57%), Hongkong 0.4 million (56%), China 700 million (52%), South Korea 22 million (46%), Latvia (Baltic states) 1 million (44%), Netherlands 7 million (42%), Uruguay 1.4 million (41%). They comprise of 834 million which is 74% of their population.
  • There are six countries where the religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of their population: the Czech Republic (76%), North Korea (71%), Estonia (60%), Japan (57%), Hong Kong (56%) and China (52%).
  • The religiously unaffiliated are heavily concentrated in Asia and the Pacific. Where, more than three-quarters (76%) of the world’s unaffiliated population resides. The remainder is in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
  • Although a majority of the religiously unaffiliated live in Asia and the Pacific. Only about one-in-five people (21%) in that region are unaffiliated. More than one-in-six people in Europe (18%) and North America (17%) are religiously unaffiliated. The unaffiliated make up smaller shares in the remaining regions. For instance, less than 1% of those who live in the Middle East-North Africa region are unaffiliated.
  • More than six-in-ten (62%) of all religiously unaffiliated people live in one country, China. The largest population of the religiously unaffiliated outside China are in Japan (6% of all unaffiliated), the United States (5%), Vietnam (2%) and Russia (2%).
  • The population of unaffiliated religion in India is only 0.87 million which is 0.07% of the entire population of the country.
  • There is a definite co-relation between the system of governance, ethos of live and religious fundamentalism and unaffiliated religion. For example take communist countries like China & North Korea where you will find the population of this community to be around 717 million which is about 64% of the entire population of unaffiliated religion. This is because of the regimentation of mindset that has forced people to stay non-aligned. If you take Islamic states, you will find the percentage of unaffiliated religion to be low because of religious fundamentalism.

    Median Age

    Globally, the religiously unaffiliated are older (median age of 34) than the overall global population (median age of 28). Among the five regions for which data are available, sub- Saharan Africa has the youngest population of religiously unaffiliated people (median age of 20), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (26), North America (31) and Asia and the Pacific (35). Europe has the oldest unaffiliated population, with a median age of 37.

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BEAUTIFUL QUOTES OF FOURTEENTH DALAI LAMA

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Posted by: Kamlesh Tripathi

dalailama buddhist

Some beautiful quotes by Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama

He is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. He has written several books on Buddhism and philosophy, and has received many international awards, including the 1989 Nobel Prize as recognition for his advocacy of world peace and inter-religious understanding.

The common enemy of all religious disciplines is selfishness of mind. For it is just this which causes ignorance, anger and passion, which are at the root of all the troubles.

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Whenever Buddhism has taken root in a new land, there has been certain variation in the style in which it observed. The Buddha himself taught differently according to the place, the occasion and the situation of those who were listening to him.

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Buddhahood is a state free of all obstructions to knowledge and disturbing emotions. It is the state in which the mind is fully evolved.

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From the earliest stages of our growth, are completely dependent upon our mother’s care and it is very important for us that she express her love. If children do not receive proper affection, in later life they will often find it hard to love others.

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Through actual practice in his daily life, man well fulfils the aim of all religion, whatever his denomination.

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We can speak of an effect and a cause on the disturbing side as well as on the liberating side.

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According to Buddhist practice, there are three states or steps. The initial stage is to reduce attachment towards life. The second stage is the elimination of desire and attachment to this samsara. Then the third stage, self-cherishing is eliminated.

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Encountering sufferings will definitely contribute to the elevation of your spiritual practice, provided you are able to transform the calamity and misfortune into the path.

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Faith dispels doubt and hesitation, it liberates you from suffering and delivers you to the city of peace and happiness.

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Suffering increases your inner strength. Also, wishing for suffering makes the suffering disappear.

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Even when we are helping others and are engaged in charity work, we should not regard ourselves in a very haughty way as great protectors benefitting the weak.

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The creatures that inhabit this earth—be they human beings or animals—are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

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We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.

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The process of dying begins with the dissolution of the elements within the body. It has eight stages, beginning with the dissolution of the earth element, then the water, fire and wind elements. The next four stages are visions in terms of colour: appearance of a white vision, increase of the red element, black near-attainment, and finally the clear light of death.

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Do your best and do it according to your own inner standard—call it conscience—not just according to society’s knowledge and judgement of your deeds.

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For discovering one’s true inner nature. I think one should try to take some time, with quiet and relaxation, to think more inwardly and to investigate the inner world.

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When one is very involved in hatred or attachment, if there is time or possibility during that very moment, just try to look inward and ask: ‘What is attachment? What is the nature of anger?’

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Anything that contradicts experience and logic should be abandoned.

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It is through listening that your mind will turn with faith and devotion, and you will be able to cultivate joy within your mind and make your mind stable.

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Laziness will stop your progress in your spiritual practice.

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When a day seems to be long, idle gossip makes our day seem shorter. But it is one of the worst ways in which we waste out time. If a tailor just holds the needle in his hand and goes on talking to a customer, the tailoring does not get finished. Besides, the needle might prick his finger. In short, meaningless gossip prevents us from doing any kind of work.

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If you rely on someone who has lower qualities than yourself, that will lead to your degeneration. If you rely on someone who has qualities similar to yourself, you will stay where you are. It is only if you rely on someone who has better qualities than yourself, that you will achieve sublime status.

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The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well being.

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The problems we encounter are never the result of starting a project or work on an inappropriate day or time. Buddha always talked about negative experiences as the result of having performed negative actions. So, for a good practitioner there is no good day or bad day.

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There is no way to escape death. It is just like trying to escape when you are surrounded by four great mountains touching the sky. There is no escape from these four mountains of birth, old age, sickness and death.

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Ageing destroys youth, sickness destroys health, degeneration of life destroys all excellent qualities and death destroys life. Even if you are a great runner, you cannot run away from death. You cannot stop death with your wealth, through your magic performances or recitation of mantras or even medicines. Therefore it is wise to prepare for your death.

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Discipline is a supreme ornament and, whether worn by old, young or middle-aged, it gives birth only to happiness. It is perfume par excellence and, unlike ordinary perfumes which travel only with the wind, its refreshing aroma travels spontaneously in all directions. A peerless ointment, it brings relief from the hot pains of delusion.

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A blossoming tree becomes bare and stripped in autumn. Beauty changes in ugliness, youth into old age, and fault into virtue. Things do not remain the same and nothing really exists. Thus appearances and emptiness exist simultaneously.

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Some people who are sweet and attractive, strong and healthy, happen to die young. They are masters is disguise teaching us about impermanence.

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MEMORY LANE: HIS HOLINESS DALAI LAMA’S ESCAPE AND EXILE TO INDIA

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HH Dalai Lama with my father next to him and a journalist
HH Dalai Lama received in Tezpur by my father standing next to him, and a journalist asking questions. And don’t miss his radiant smile … that speaks about his courage even after being exiled.
One of his recent pictures
HH- One of his recent pictures
HH entering India, and behind him in the 2nd spot is my father
HH entering India, and behind him in the 2nd spot is my father.

MEMORY LANE: HIS HOLINESS DALAI LAMA’S ESCAPE AND EXILE TO INDIA

    The picture in the middle is a rare photograph of the 14th Dalai Lama. In the year 1959 during the Tibetan uprising, fearing for his life. The Dalai Lama and his retinue fled Tibet with the help of CIA’s Special Activities Division, crossing into India on 30 March 1959. Reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April. Where, he was received by my late father Mr Kamakhya Prasad Tripathi, a Minister then in the Assam Government. What is truly striking about the picture is the radiant smile of the 24 year old Dalai Lama (Real name: Lhamo Dondrub) who inspite of having lost his kingdom wears that courageous smile.

    Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935 at Taktser, China. He is a recipient of 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Truly, a nostalgic moment, to see my father receiving and welcoming HH Dalai Lama into India.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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