zaterdag 28 januari 2012


First we were told HRT could cause cancer. Now, herbal remedies for the menopause have been branded dangerous, too. So what SHOULD we be doing? Here, writers who’ve coped in very different ways share their wisdom . . .


When did 'menopause' become a dirty word? It is a stage every healthy woman will face, so why do we allow it to remain clouded in confusion?
Just yesterday, we were warned that herbal remedies used to combat symptoms of the change can actually cause harm. And there are new reports that hormone replacement therapy, which has long been the source of cancer scares, can create brain shrinkage.
So where does a woman turn when she feels that first hot flush? Is it not unthinkable that a condition affecting more than half our population is so mired in misinformation?

Older woman holding head

What should we be doing? Writers offer their advice on how to cope with the menopause
If every man on Earth saw looming on the horizon promises of hot flushes, memory loss, dwindling desire and other nasty side effects, you can bet there would be better advice and treatments available.
After all, the only real side effect of the so-called 'male menopause' is gradual impotence, and Viagra has come along, or sprung up if you prefer, to deal with that.
For a long time, the female change of life has been regarded with horror - a change very much for the worse.
'No one wants the menopause,' writes Louise Foxcroft in her enlightening book, Hot Flushes, Cold Science. 'It is an age under siege, riddled with treacherous cliches - and subject to an onslaught of medical treatments.'
But why the blazes do we find it necessary to treat a natural and universal stage in nature as a disease - and a shameful disease, at that?

Irma Kurtz
Irma Kurtz: Do not let menopause be a full stop
Even women friends who discuss among themselves every detail of their sexual adventures will not mention the 'M' word when the time for it is approaching.
We are scared of coming to 'the change' because we do not know what we are going to change into. We only know - because we have been told it for generations - that once a woman has changed, she is 'past it' and 'all dried up'.
My own mother, who got a real kick out of telling me the facts of life when the time came for me to learn them, never so much as mentioned the fact of menopause.
It was not something to talk about. To this day, plenty of young women who write in to agony aunts with detailed and sophisticated sexual problems cannot imagine a life after their 'monthlies'.
Some of them do not know what the menopause is. Or how to spell it. Naturally, women hoped for a detour, or at least a delay, before the unthinkable, and of course medical science came up with help.
HRT, when it hit the marketplace, was received by laymen (or should that be laywomen) not as a medical breakthrough so much as a magical one.
They did not see it as merely the treatment for a few specific and relatively rare physiological conditions occurring in early menopause, but as an elixir of youth that would prevent the dreaded 'drying up', and what we women continue to believe is the end of practically everything.
'Are you on it yet?' was a question whispered between middle-aged women in the early days of HRT.
And names were dropped, too, sometimes in print, of those who were on 'the new pill', or were rumoured to be: Maggie Thatcher, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor and similarly eternal chicks.
Why did we fall for it? Surely, the recently reported dangers of indiscriminate HRT, the documented increased threat of breast cancers and strokes, for instance, can come as no surprise to those of us who do not believe in magic potions.
And now so-called 'natural' remedies for the menopausal syndrome have been found to be dodgy or, worse, outright dangerous to long-term health, which is only to be expected.
How can nature remedy what is natural in any healthy woman's life? Why should we expect nature to correct what nature itself has imposed?
It was back in the early days of female liberation that the brute unfairness of a female menopause demanded the naming (and shaming) of a male menopause, too.
But the so-called male menopause comes on gradually and its symptoms boil down to hardly more than one.
No hot flushes for the 'menopausal' bloke, no headaches, temper tantrums, reserved place for him on the shelf, where a woman, to this day, still expects to end up after menstruation ends.
Fortunately for me, I had it relatively easy. I suffered no upset or trauma, and a supply of Evian Water sprays chilled in the fridge was all I needed to cool the flushes.
And eventually the day came when I was absolutely sure that I was over the change: I had changed! So I poured myself some wine and made a little celebration of chucking out the last box of tampons, which had been stashed in my bathroom cabinet.
It was a week later that I recollected, suddenly, how I had slipped a small diamond ring - a gift from my mother - into the box for safekeeping. Surely no burglar, I reasoned, would venture in there. Now the little diamond was gone for ever; out with the trash.
Yes, of course, we women do come to the end of something precious when our periods stop. But we still have time, and a new freedom, and we still have plenty to do.
So forget about herbs. Forget about HRT. We women are lucky that we come to a point, clearly defined, where we can take a breath, look around and find new ways to be. Do not let menopause be a full stop. Make it, instead, a pause for thought.



Jaci Stephen
Jaci Stephen: Herb convert

Just a few weeks ago, on these pages, I wrote a piece about my experience (so far) of the menopause. Of all the pieces I have written in more than 30 years of journalism, not one came close in attracting the anger or passion of those who agreed - or disagreed - with what I had written.
To summarise: I wrote about my forgetfulness, physical discomfort at times, but also a really great feeling of having got to a stage in my life where I felt at ease with who I was and what I had accomplished.
The women whose experiences had been worse than my own appeared to wish me to burn in hell - preferably on Earth and through more hot sweats than I have so far encountered.
But many others contacted me to say it was as though I had been writing about them.
They said the article gave them hope that the menopause did not mean, as they had been led to believe, that they were doomed to spend the rest of their lives waiting for the Grim Reaper to take them to a place even worse than the one they were already in.
But why are we not, as women, getting together and uniting in what is going to affect us all?
Why, if information is not available, are we not screaming for more research to guide us through this deeply significant part of our lives?
But in the absence of any real information, you can only go on what feels right for you.
Personally, I have gone down the herbal route - at least, for the moment. I take nothing with soya in it (I read some years ago that soya was linked to breast cancer), but rely on ancient plant and Indian remedies, notably Ayurvedic treatments.
I also drink less, take long walks and feel fitter than I have ever done - all of which undoubtedly helps.
I go to a Holland & Barrett store in Cardiff, where the male staff appear to know more about the menopause than any doctor I have ever been to, and can tell me about every aspect of it.
In London, I go to Fresh And Wild, where, again, the staff can take me through every herb on the shelf.
Where conventional medicine has failed, these herbs are doing the trick. I spent six months waiting for an NHS appointment, endured a year of treatment for an unpleasant aspect of the menopause (let's call it internal flora and fauna) and nothing worked.
The herbs have. Whatever the new research says, I am not going to give up an unconventional treatment that works where conventional medicine has failed.
Women are in a no-win situation throughout their entire lives as a result of their hormones, but with the menopause, there seems to have been little research into how those hormones might be managed.
When we get to 50, society pretty much regards us as either being on the shelf, or certainly pending. But we still count. We still work. We are still willing and able to work when all those younger women are off work because it is the time of their month or having babies (Sir Alan, take note).
So let's stop whingeing and fighting among ourselves, and demand that someone out there give us the facts about what is really going on with our bodies, and what is good for them.



So what are we women supposed do? Put up with hot flushes, loss of sex drive, mood swings, mad depression, night sweats, bone thinning?
Well, you do if you're remarkably stoic, don't mind your sex life going down the drain and believe menopause is just another thing to be endured. Not me. I rushed to Professor John Studd, who pioneered HRT in the UK.
I trust his judgement implicitly. He measures bone density, and won't give you HRT if there's any breast cancer in the family. I had HRT implants with a little testosterone boost. Wonderful, I tell you.
I was frisky, full of energy and my brain seemed to be in overdrive. Sex was remarkable. I'm off HRT now (after ten years). But I'm hoping I still have the oomph it gave me.



My mother died of breast cancer, so there was no way I was going to go for HRT. Even if it wasn't for the health risk, women who took it seemed to lose their good sense along with their hot flushes.
At the first sign of menopause, I turned to Holland & Barrett. I started with the gloriously named dong quai, then I tried milk thistle.
Finally, I swallowed handfuls of the sinisterly named black cohosh, which always made me think of something Baldrick would have dreamed up.
While researching a novel set in the 17th century, I was amazed to find herbs like these were given to women for menopause back then.
Nothing seemed to make any difference, though, and I decided to forget about the whole thing. The truth is that for many of us, menopause is just that: a transition between youth and maturity.
And unless it causes you serious depression or makes you unable to function, I found it best to avoid all treatments and sit it out.
Although it is horrible for a while, after it's over you get a whole new flush of post-menopausal energy. And all without dying your hair blonde and trying to get off with your daughter's boyfriend.



For years, I've suffered hot flushes and creaky joints, so I was a sucker for any remedy that would help manage my body's perimenopausal breakdown.
I acted on every recommendation I received. My first port of call was the menopause cake - an item that you buy online in batches of ten and contains more seeds than London Zoo's aviary. It seemed to do the trick.
My body cooled and so did my temper. But I spent a fortune on dental floss, dislodging the detritus from between my teeth. Then came the gingko biloba for memory lapses.
I still have days when I can't find the words for the most basic items, but since starting gingko I am unquestionably sharper of wit and mind.
It's still on my shopping list - but red clover and badger balm are not. They were recommended for my restless nights.
Nor is oil of evening primrose, apparently brilliant at stemming mood swings. Why not? Because I've discovered HRT - a one-stop solution to virtually all these ills.
A lot of my friends are disapproving because HRT carries a small health risk. So, it now appears, do herbal remedies.
For me, the choice has never been between natural and synthetic solutions, but on whether the alleviation of the symptoms justifies any risk. My answer? Yes.



Christine Hamilton
Christine Hamilton: Recommends sleep and an understanding man

I didn't notice my menopause. We were battling through a high-profile court case, so when I bubbled over or snapped I put it down to general stress and strain.
I had no hot flushes so it never crossed my mind I had reached 'that time of life'.
Depression, irritability, mood swings - all that was put down to outside circumstances. I dealt with it by hitting the bottle (disastrous) and letting off steam shouting at my nearest and dearest, who needed the patience of a saint to cope.
It is still a bit of a taboo (more people will talk about orgasms than menopause) and it continues to be used as a derogatory word.
The big difference now is that women of 55 (average age for menopause) are still vibrant, attractive and certainly not on the sexual scrapheap.
I wouldn't touch HRT with a bargepole, and some of the herbal remedies sound more like voodoo. But each to his own. Keep calm, keep off the booze, get plenty of sleep - and find an understanding man!



When my ovaries and womb want to shut up shop, that's fine by me. I have three children and nothing but gratitude for my reproductive equipment. It deserves to retire.
What is the point of pumping yourself with HRT when you're simply putting off the evil day? Why bleed until 60 or 65? Why put up with flushes at that age when you can get them out of the way now?
Every few months, there are new scares linked to HRT - everything from brain shrinkage to strokes and cancer. We're waiting for definitive proof, of course, but why run the risk?
For thicker hair and better skin? It's all vanity. Not just in the sense of caring too much about your looks, but in the sense of emptiness.
Sorry, but by our age you should have got a life of your own - not one that belongs to the children.
The menopause comes late to women in my family and I probably have a few years yet - but mentally I'm ready for it.
If it wakes me up at night, I'll drink iced water and read. If it puts my husband off me, then he's not the man I thought he was. They say the menopause leaves you with more energy. Perhaps he's the one who should worry.

Read more:

vrijdag 27 januari 2012

Do you think there is Life after Birth?

Met dank aan Anja Caers


Er was eens een tweeling en ze zaten in de baarmoeder. Toen ze langzaam in hun foetale bestaan rijper werden en hun hersenen begonnen te functioneren, werden ze zich ook van hun omgeving en hun eigen bestaan vaag bewust. Na enige tijd ontdekten ze ook elkaars bestaan. Weken gingen voorbij en werden maanden. Ze merkten allerlei veranderingen op in hun lichaam en hun beleven. Er was verandering op til. Er ontspon zich een gesprek.

"We zijn aan het veranderen," zei de een, "Wat kan dat betekenen?"

"Dat betekent," antwoordde de ander, "dat we geboren gaan worden."

De twee huiverden en werden bang. Want ze wisten dat met de geboorte het leven hier ten einde was en dat ze de wereld waarin ze nu leefden zouden moeten verlaten.

"Geloof jij eigenlijk in een leven ná de geboorte?”, vroeg de een.

“Jazeker, dat is er. Ons leven hier is enkel bedoeld om te groeien en te ontwikkelen zodat we ons op het bestaan na de geboorte kunnen voorbereiden en er sterk genoeg zullen zijn voor dat bestaan.”

“Nonsens, dat bestaat toch niet. Hoe moet dat er überhaupt uitzien, zo'n leven na de geboorte?”

"Dat weet ik ook niet precies. Maar zeker zal het veel lichter en helderder zijn dan hier. En misschien zullen we dan rond kunnen lopen en met de mond eten”.

“Wat een onzin! Rondlopen, dat gaat toch helemaal niet. En met je mond eten, wat een raar idee. We hebben toch de navelstreng die ons voedt. Bovendien gaat rondlopen ook daarom al niet, de navelstreng is nu al vaak veel te kort.”

"Toch, ik weet het zeker dat het kan. Het is allemaal alleen een beetje anders dan hier”.

“Er is er nog nooit iemand teruggekomen van 'na de geboorte'. Met de geboorte is dit leven ten einde. En het leven hier is alleen maar donker en een kwelling. Als de zin van conceptie en al ons groeien en ontwikkelen niets anders is dan dat het allemaal eindigt met de geboorte, dan is dit bestaan werkelijk absurd”

“Ook al weet ik niet precies hoe het leven na de geboorte eruit ziet, we zullen dan in ieder geval onze moeder zien en ze zal voor ons zorgen.”

“Moeder? Jij gelooft in een Moeder? Waar is ze dan?”

“Nou hier, overal om ons heen. Wij zijn en bestaan in haar en door haar. Zonder haar konden we überhaupt niet bestaan.”

“Quatsch! Van een moeder heb ik nog nooit iets gemerkt of gezien, dus bestaat ze ook niet.”

„Toch, toch, soms, als we stil zijn, kun je haar voor ons horen zingen. Of voelen hoe ze onze wereld streelt”

Waarschijnlijk naar Henry Nouwen (Hollandse priester en schrijver, 1932 - 1996)

Een deelnemer aan de cursus Studienhaus Kaiser, Schlangenbad-Hause von der Höhe, heeft me dit mooie verhaal in november 2004 overhandigd (Jaap van der Wal)

Food Democracy Now

On January 31, family farmers will take part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer’s crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.
In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. Please join us in standing up for family farmers everywhere against Monsanto's abusive seed monopoly.

S510 (Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010) - Illegal To Grow, Share, Trade, Sell Homegrown Food ... SB S510 Will Allow Government To Put You In Jail By Steve Green 8-6-10

"Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US..."

"..."If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public's right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one's choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God." It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US, violating the fundamental human right to food." ~ Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower.

Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto's Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create without judicial review if it passes.

S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food AND FARMING..."


zaterdag 21 januari 2012

New Edible Microchips to Alert Doctors, Mobile Phones if Patients Do Not Takes Meds

Every day it pains me to see in what a complete and utter mad, sick world we live in.

New ‘edible’ microchips will soon be available to alert doctors and mobile phones if patients are not taking their medications, each smaller than a grain of sand. The chips record the ‘precise’ medical details of a patient’s pill regime and are scheduled to be available in Britain by the end of the year.

The microchips will be unleashed by a partnership involving both an American biomedical company and a British healthcare firm. Labeled as ‘digestible sensors’, the microchips are set up to send alerts to the mobile phone of a doctor or designated ‘caretaker’ if patient has strayed from their specified pill routine. The companies say that they are attempting to develop ‘intelligent medicines’.

Microchip Uses Electric Currents, Embedded Bluetooth Technology to Alert Mobile Phones

Upon taking the pill, it will be digitally recorded and time-stamped as they are digested in the body. The chips themselves are activated by stomach acid.
A spokesman for the healthcare company,  Lloyds- pharmacy, cited the difficulties involved with remembering medications as a need for the invasive chips. Steve Gray, healthcare services director of the company launching the chips, stated:
“Anyone taking several medications knows how easy it can be to lose track of whether or not you’ve taken the correct tablets that day.”
At the center of the chip is a small silicon wafer that separates minor quantities of copper and magnesium, which in turn creates a microscopic battery that emits and electric currents upon coming into contact with the acidic environment of the stomach. The currents, given specific signatures to identify the drug taken, are picked up by a patch stuck on the skin of the patient. The patch records the information transmitted by the chip, and sends it out through Bluetooth technology to a mobile phone.
The maker of the chip, Proteus Biomedical, plans on rolling it out as a fully integrated system that can send out detailed alerts if an individual strays from their pharmaceutical schedule.
“In the future the goal is a fully integrated system that creates an information product that helps patients and their families with the demands of complex pharmacy,” said Andrew Thompson, the chief executive and founder of Proteus Biomedical.


Baby Dies After 9 Vaccines in One Day

Als eerbetoon aan de familie Sirjacobs

Ik was verbaasd dat er gisteren maar 30 ouders zijn meegestapt met de familie.  Voor wie niet op de hoogte is: eerst een tekst van  daarna een Nederlandstalige tekst uit

Babies Stacy and Lesly Sirjacobs

The end of last year was masked with sadness for Belgium parents Raphaël Sirjacobs & Béatrice Dupont, as their nine week old daughter Stacy Sirjacobs lost her fight for life. Stacy died just one week after her first vaccinations and left her twin sister Lesly behind. Devastated by their loss their parents are convinced that vaccines and hospital failures were the cause of their beautiful daughters death.

Stacy and Lesly were born one month premature by Caesarean section and spent the next four days in an incubator. Stacy needed resuscitation at birth.

Following medical advice parents Sirjacobs and Dupont decided to have the twins vaccinated. Stacy was slightly unwell with a cold on the day of her vaccinations but doctors assured her parents that it was safe to give her the vaccinations.

(It is worth noting that there is a history of Sudden Infant Death and allergies in the family. The twins were being prescribed a milk supplement due to a milk allergy at the time Stacy became ill)

The twins received Prevenar, a vaccine against meningitis and pneumonia, Infanrix Hexa, a six in one vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus type B, and finally the Rotarix, a preventive vaccine for gastroenteritis.

This means that these tiny vulnerable babies received a staggering nine vaccines in one day, vaccines that may have caused one of them to die.

A week after her vaccinations Stacy became unwell with a fever of 39.9 degrees C. Her parents decided to administer Perdolan to lower her fever. As their daughter was still very poorly they called the hospital who advised them to bring their daughter in.

The medical staff diagnosed Stacy with a slight chest infection and infection in her blood and told her parents not to worry as this was “not serious”. Stacy was then given medication and put on a drip feed and kept in for observation.

Stacy’s father informed me that all links to the vaccines were strongly denied.

Dertigtal ouders stappen mee in mars voor vrijheid van vaccinatie

vrijdag 20 januari 2012 om 15u19
(Belga) Een dertigtal ouders zijn meegestapt in een mars van het Zuidstation in Brussel naar de federale overheidsdienst Volksgezondheid, om de vrijheid van vaccinatie te eisen voor hun kinderen. Het initiatief ging uit van Raphaël Sirjacobs en Béatrice Dupont, de ouders van Stacy, een baby die in oktober 2011 overleed nadat ze gevaccineerd werd met Prevenar, Infanrix Hexa en Rotarix.
Dertigtal ouders stappen mee in mars voor vrijheid van vaccinatie
Dertigtal ouders stappen mee in mars voor vrijheid van vaccinatie
Officieel overleed Stacy aan de gevolgen van een hersenvliesontsteking, maar volgens haar ouders is haar dood het gevolg van de driedubbele vaccinatie, die uitgevoerd werd ondanks de familiale voorgeschiedenis van allergieën.

Eén van de geneesmiddelen is in sommige landen van de markt gehaald na de dood van andere baby's.

De ouders klagen over het gebrek aan informatie over de bijwerkingen van die vaccins en eisen de vrijheid van vaccinatie.

Sirjacobs verwijt het ONE (Office de Naissance et de l'Enfance), de Waalse tegenhanger van Kind en Gezin, ook dat het ouders dwingt om hun kinderen te laten vaccineren, anders worden ze niet toegelaten in een crèche.

De ouders willen nu aantonen dat de bijwerkingen van vaccins onderschat worden, hoewel ze ernstig en zelfs dodelijk kunnen zijn. De manifestanten willen ook dat de wet van 2002 op de patiëntenrechten wordt toegepast. Die bepaalt dat de patiënt alle beschikbare informatie over zijn behandeling kan krijgen. (OSN)

Als therapeute met ruime ervaring kanik ouders maar 1 raad geven: denk aub twee keren na voor jij je kind laat vaccineren!!

donderdag 5 januari 2012

Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman

For all the men in my Life: a wonderful blog posting by

A few days ago, after a particularly exquisite evening with my wife Chameli, I put this post up on Facebook before going to bed:

"I have had many, many great teachers in my life. A super abundance. No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom. My marriage has become the guru, the salvation, the muse, the crack through which the divine shines through."

When I woke up the next morning, there were the usual offerings of people who liked the post as well as comments. One man had the vulnerability and courage to post this on facebook:

"Thank you Arjuna for this sharing, I feel like [I'm] in front of a choice which is between feeling envious of what you have and I don't, or instead to decide that 'I want that too,' and, as you show, it is possible..."

I was touched.

Over the next days, I got several more messages like this from men: vulnerable men, honest men, rare and courageous men. They came in as private messages on Facebook or through our website, and they all said basically the same thing:
"I read your Facebook post. I want what you have. Show me how to get it."

So, friends, here it is. The short guide on how to worship a woman, and why it's the wisest thing that a man can do. First of all, lets pop a few very understandable doubts that you might have. I'm familiar with all of them.

1. "I'm wounded and damaged in my relationships to the feminine."
So am I, dear brother, so am I. My parents divorced in a messy way when I was four. I grew up alone with my mother. She did her very best to provide for me, but she was unhappy and insecure. By the time I started to have relationships with women myself in my early teens, I discovered that I had a mountain of resentments, fears, and separation in my relation to the feminine. The conscious practice of worship can become a part of healing the wounds.

2. "Arjuna, you're lucky. You've got an incredible partner. I'm together with a woman who's not like Chameli."
I really don't have the ultimate answer to that doubt or question. It certainly could seem to be the case that I've been lucky in finding a great woman, but here's how it happened for me. I've had a lot of less lucky connections in my life. I've experienced my share of the manipulative side of the feminine: the victim, the rageful, the vengeful. And I have seen the ugly side of the masculine psyche in myself. A few weeks prior to meeting Chameli, my wife, something deep and profound shifted in me, which I believe can shift for anyone in the same way.

3. "I don't have a partner at all, and I sometimes doubt if I'll ever meet anybody."
Being with a partner where worship is not flowing, or not being with a partner at all, are basically two aspects of the same situation: you've had an intuition or a glimpse of the possibilities of a deeper love, and you want more of it. The solutions are the same.

4. "I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot, and I wouldn't even know what worship was if it broke into my house at 2 o'clock in the morning and held me at gunpoint."
That's where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don't yet know how to love. And that's that the big question that you have to consider: "Is that okay with me?" Never mind how much money you make, or how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how nice a house you live in, or no matter how big a car you drive, no matter how impressive your partner's bust size, or how much you meditate and become spiritual... have you loved for real, in a total and undefended way? If not, and here's where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart's gift having been fully given?

Eight or nine years ago, I came to that question in myself, exactly that, and I discovered that the answer was, if I was was raw and vulnerable and uncomplicated, that it was actually not OK. If I died one day without having fully loved, it would not have truly been a life well lived.

Many many years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don't usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall. Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.
I'm not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there's a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman's heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman's heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman's heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it's protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn't even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.

If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.
Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She'll look at you with a certain twinkle in her eye. She'll answer your questions coyly. She'll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.

Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she'll open her heart to you more. She'll share with you her insecurities, the way that she's been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You've got the gist by now.
Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women's. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.

Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. It is what has made every woman in history beautiful. It's the flame behind the Mona Lisa, and Dante's Beatrice, and yes, also Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.

When you learn how to pay attention to the essence of the feminine in this way, you fall to the floor in full body prostration, tears soaking your cheeks and clothes, and you wonder how you could have ever taken Her, in all of Her forms, for granted even for a second.
So just a couple small questions remain. First, do you get what I'm talking about? Does it jive for you? Does it make sense? And second, if yes, how are you going to get from where you are now to being able to the full capacity of your heart to love for real? I'd be glad to share more about this if we get to know each other better, but here's how you get started.
First, do what I did, and create an altar in your room dedicated to Divine Feminine. Put only symbols of the feminine on it. I have a painting called "Beatrix" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have a statue of Quan Kin. Populate your altar with anything that reminds you of the feminine, and spend a few minutes of the day in worship. Yes, worship. Adoration. Devotion. Offer up rose petals. Offer poems. Offer everything, and beg Her to reveal Her innermost essence to you. This will work miracles whether you're single and waiting to meet the right woman or whether you're already in relationship and long to meet your woman in a deeper way.

The second way to get started: make a practice, a discipline, of telling your woman, or any woman, ten times a day something which you adore about her. "I love the smell of your shampoo." "I love the way you laugh." "The color of your eyes is so beautiful." Of course, you need to keep it appropriate. You can go as far out on a limb as you like if you're in relationship with a woman, but with anyone else remember the gates. Keep you communication appropriate to the gate number that you find yourself at. Appreciation the curve of a woman's breast, for example, if she happens to be the cashier at the supermarket, would equate more to harassment than worship.

So here's enough to get started. Of course, there's a lot more we can say about this. Feel free to post your comments below, and I'll use them as the foundation for future blogs.

woensdag 4 januari 2012

Moeten we bang zijn om onze waarden op te dringen?


LUCKAS  VANDER TAELEN (Groen!) is het beu naast een  getto te leven waar allochtone
jongeren hem  behandelen alsof hij op hun  privérrein  loopt. 'Waarom durven
wij niet opkomen voor  wat eigenlijk essentieel is: respect voor de  wetten en
de waarden van het land  waarin wij leven?'


Ik  woon vlakbij een buurt in  Vorst, van de Merodestraat tot het  Zuidstation, die je zelfs met de meest  multiculturele vooringenomenheid niet anders dan als een getto kunt  omschrijven.

Mijn dochter heeft het al  lang opgegeven om in die wijk te gaan. Daarvoor  is ze net iets te vaak uitgescholden voor  veel onfraais. Ik fiets er elke dag door en  beleef steeds een ander avontuur. dubbel  geparkeerde auto's, bestuurders die een  kruispunt blokkeren om met elkaar te  praten, rondhangende jongeren die je bekijken  alsof je op hun privémein  komt.

Probeer vooral niets te zeggen als  je weer eens bijna omver gereden wordt: de  laatste keer dat ik dit toch deed, werd ik de  huid vol gescholden door een  omstaander van geen zestien jaar, die  zijn beledigende tirade afsloot met een  boodschap die ik niet vertaal: 'Nique ta  mé.' Dat was  minder erg dan de vorige keer, toen een  andere jonge Maghrebijnse chauffeur zich  door mijn gedrag beledigd voelde: ik had het  aangedurfd mijn voorrang te nemen.  Zijn eer  was dusdanig gekrenkt dat hij dit blijkbaar  enkel kon rechtzetten door me in het gezicht  te spuwen...

Dus vooral: zwijgen. Want  als je probeert duidelijk te maken dat 70 km  per uur veel te snel is in een zone 30, dan  heb je meteen recht op een confrontatie met  het eergevoel van een jonge nieuwe  Belg die het niet kan hebben dat iemand hem  ook maar iets verbiedt en die bereid is je  daarom in elkaar te rammen.

Twintig  jaar geleden was ik ervan overtuigd dat de  jonge nieuwe Belgen snel geassimileerd zouden  worden. Maar nu is in Brussel een  generatie van rebels without a  cause opgegroeid die zich altijd verongelijkt en  te kort gedaan voelt. Nooit voor iets  verantwoordelijk, het is altijd de  fout van iemand anders: van de  overheid, van de racistische Belgen.  En ook binnen hun eigen families blijven de  jonge Maghrebijnse mannen onaantastbaar. Toen de  politie in Molenbeek een jongen oppakte,  organiseerde de vader meteen een  betoging omdat zijn zoon 'nog geen appel zou  stelen.'

De inspanningen van de  overheid in de probleemwijken hebben ervoor  gezorgd dat de jongeren de noodzaak niet  voelen die te verlaten, toonde een ULB-studie  vorig jaar aan.  Zo creër je  de bekrompenheid van een dorp in  de grote stad.

Een  dochter van Marokkaanse vrienden heeft  een Belgisch vriendje. Met hem gaat ze nooit  uit in de wijk, omdat ze meteen wordt  nageroepen. Want bijna al de jonge  allochtonen mogen dan wel de Belgische  nationaliteit hebben, enige identificatie met  dit land hebben zij niet. Integendeel: 'Belgie'  is een scheldwoord...

Jonge vrouwen  alleen zie je overigens bijna nooit in de wijk.  En zeker niet in de café daar  worden ze zelfs niet gedoogd. Toen een  medewerkster van de gemeente er een  koffie vroeg, werd haar snel duidelijk gemaakt  dat ze er niet moest op rekenen om bediend te  worden. Als ik de Merode-wijk binnenfiets,  dan weet ik dat ik tot ver voorbij het  Zuidstation niet één vrouw  op een caférras zal  zien. En dan heb ik het nog niet over de  dubbele seksuele moraal  die van jonge allochtone vrouwen nog  steeds verwacht dat ze tijdens de  huwelijksnacht hun maagdelijkheid bewijzen, ook  al weet iedereen dat Brusselse hospitalen met  een eenvoudige ingreep  maagdenvliezen herstellen...

Een  gerenommeerd Frans-Marokkaanse kunstenaar  stelde tot vorige week een merkwaardige  installatie tentoon in Brussel: een reeks  bidtapijtjes met schoenen. De kunstgalerij  kreeg onmiddellijk dreigtelefoons, het glas  voor het kunstwerk werd bespuugd en  beschadigd. De commotie kwam er omdat er  bij
het bidtapijtje  rode vrouwenhakken te zien waren. De kunstenaar  wou op die manier 'de plaats van de  vrouw in de Islam' aankaarten. Maar dat kan al  niet meer in Brussel: na een paar dagen werd  het kunstwerk verwijderd.

Misschien  moeten we ons eens afvragen hoe het komt dat we  aanvaard hebben dat principes als de  vrijheid van de kunstenaar en gelijke  rechten voor man en vrouw niet voor iedereen  gelden in dit land. Waarom durven wij  niet opkomen voor wat eigenlijk essentieel  is: respect voor de wetten en  de waarden van het land waarin wij  leven? Een hoofddoekenverbod is  geen oplossing. Maar misschien moeten we toch  eens nadenken over hoe we op een assertieve  manier kunnen duidelijk maken dat wij durven  verdedigen wat wij belangrijk  vinden.

Het is de  verdienste van links geweest om meer  aandacht te vragen voor discriminatie en  sociale achterstand. Het probleem ligt jammer  genoeg dieper: we zijn bang geweest om onze  waarden op te dringen aan allochtonen.

Die  waarden zijn mij echter te dierbaar om ze  verloren te laten gaan.