Archive | December 2010

Holiday Giving: Western Union Taking From the Needy

Holiday Giving: Western Union Taking From the Needy

From AVAAZ

 

This holiday season, Josh, a Kenyan student in the Netherlands, scraped together a year’s worth of savings and sent it home to support 10 struggling family members. Shockingly, the giant money transfer company Western Union skimmed off 20% of the cash meant for Josh’s family in fees.

Josh’s story is painfully retold every day, the world over, on a staggering scale — an estimated $44.3 billion worldwide was lost in transfer fees last year! The World Bank recommends that transaction costs not exceed 5% of the total, but Western Union has never faced serious pressure to lower its crippling charges. If we unite in a global outcry now, we can expose its predatory practices when its carefully crafted, family-friendly image is most vulnerable: the giving season.

Josh’s generosity — and that of millions of workers around the world — shouldn’t go to waste! Let’s call on Western Union to lower its fees to 5% for the poorest countries, and when the petition reaches 250,000 we’ll deliver it to the company’s image-sensitive board of directors. Sign now and then forward this to friends and family:

Sacrifices like Josh’s dwarf foreign governmental aid every year and provide a vital lifeline to the world’s poorest economies. Slashing the obscene profits of companies like Western Union would dramatically increase assistance flowing into developing countries. Instead, families around the world received far less than they deserved so that Western Union’s CEO could take home $8.1 million in 2009.

The World Bank recommends that transfer companies limit fees to 5% of the amount being transferred, but some banks and companies have astronomical hidden charges. Perversely, the neediest countries coming out of war or disaster suffer the greatest losses, because of transfer companies’ monopolistic privileges and exclusive deals with local banks.

The yearly savings of men and women laboring in hospitals, construction sites and restaurants end up padding Western Union’s profits. The company funds charity projects to improve its corporate image – but these do nothing to hide the massive inequity that their business model perpetrates. Let’s raise our voices loudly to support true generosity during the holiday season – and help bring immediate benefits to workers and the relatives they sustain. Together we can make sure that needy families – rather than CEOs – benefit from holiday giving:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/make_giving_powerful/?vl

When citizens around the world stand together to protest injustice, we can force back unchecked greed and inequality – as we’ve done together before. Buoyed by the warmth and empathy of the holiday season, let’s make sure that generous gifts arrive where they’re most needed.

With hope and gratitude,

Luis, Stephanie, Graziela, David, Paula, Ben, and the rest of the Avaaz team

SOURCES:

Western Union CEO’s pay more than triples in 2009, Associated Press:
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=10241684

Past Time for Remittance Justice, ACORN International:
https://secure.avaaz.org/remittance_justice_report

World Bank Remittance Pricing resource:
http://remittanceprices.worldbank.org/

“I Believe Only in the Power of the People”

“I Believe Only in the Power of the People”

By Evo Morales

This is the text of a speech given on December 24 2005 at the “In Defense of Humanity” conference.

What happened these past days in Bolivia was a great revolt by those who have been oppressed for more than 500 years. The will of the people was imposed this September and October, and has begun to overcome the empire’s cannons. We have lived for so many years through the confrontation of two cultures: the culture of life represented by the indigenous people, and the culture of death represented by West. When we the indigenous people–together with the workers and even the businessmen of our country–fight for life and justice, the State responds with its “democratic rule of law.”

What does the “rule of law” mean for indigenous people? For the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the “rule of law” means the targeted assassinations and collective massacres that we have endured. Not just this September and October, but for many years, in which they have tried to impose policies of hunger and poverty on the Bolivian people. Above all, the “rule of law” means the accusations that we, the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaranties of Bolivia keep hearing from our governments: that we are narcos, that we are anarchists. This uprising of the Bolivian people has been not only about gas and hydrocarbons, but an intersection of many issues: discrimination, marginalization , and most importantly, the failure of neoliberalism.

The cause of all these acts of bloodshed, and for the uprising of the Bolivian people, has a name: neoliberalism. With courage and defiance, we brought down Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada–the symbol of neoliberalism in our country–on October 17, the Bolivians’ day of dignity and identity. We began to bring down the symbol of corruption and the political mafia.

And I want to tell you, companeras and companeros, how we have built the consciousness of the Bolivian people from the bottom up. How quickly the Bolivian people have reacted, have said–as Subcomandate Marcos says–ya basta!, enough policies of hunger and misery.

For us, October 17th is the beginning of a new phase of construction. Most importantly, we face the task of ending selfishness and individualism, and creating–from the rural campesino and indigenous communities to the urban slums–other forms of living, based on solidarity and mutual aid. We must think about how to redistribute the wealth that is concentrated among few hands. This is the great task we Bolivian people face after this great uprising.

It has been very important to organize and mobilize ourselves in a way based on transparency, honesty, and control over our own organizations. And it has been important not only to organize but also to unite. Here we are now, united intellectuals in defense of humanity–I think we must have not only unity among the social movements, but also that we must coordinate with the intellectual movements. Every gathering, every event of this nature for we labor leaders who come from the social struggle, is a great lesson that allows us to exchange experiences and to keep strengthening our people and our grassroots organizations.

Thus, in Bolivia, our social movements, our intellectuals, our workers–even those political parties which support the popular struggle ­joined together to drive out Gonzalo Sánchez Lozada. Sadly, we paid the price with many of our lives, because the empire’s arrogance and tyranny continue humiliating the Bolivian people.

It must be said, compañeras and compañeros, that we must serve the social and popular movements rather than the transnational corporations. I am new to politics; I had hated it and had been afraid of becoming a career politician. But I realized that politics had once been the science of serving the people, and that getting involved in politics is important if you want to help your people. By getting involved, I mean living for politics, rather than living off of politics. We have coordinated our struggles between the social movements and political parties, with the support of our academic institutions, in a way that has created a greater national consciousness. That is what made it possible for the people to rise up in these recent days.

When we speak of the “defense of humanity,” as we do at this event, I think that this only happens by eliminating neoliberalism and imperialism. But I think that in this we are not so alone, because we see, every day that anti-imperialist thinking is spreading, especially after Bush’s bloody “intervention” policy in Iraq. Our way of organizing and uniting against the system, against the empire’s aggression towards our people, is spreading, as are the strategies for creating and strengthening the power of the people.

I believe only in the power of the people. That was my experience in my own region, a single province–the importance of local power. And now, with all that has happened in Bolivia, I have seen the importance of the power of a whole people, of a whole nation. For those of us who believe it important to defend humanity, the best contribution we can make is to help create that popular power. This happens when we check our personal interests with those of the group. Sometimes, we commit to the social movements in order to win power. We need to be led by the people, not use or manipulate them.

We may have differences among our popular leaders–and it’s true that we have them in Bolivia. But when the people are conscious, when the people know what needs to be done, any difference among the different local leaders ends. We’ve been making progress in this for a long time, so that our people are finally able to rise up, together.

What I want to tell you, compañeras and compañeros–what I dream of and what we as leaders from Bolivia dream of is that our task at this moment should be to strengthen anti-imperialist thinking. Some leaders are now talking about how we–the intellectuals, the social and political movements–can organize a great summit of people like Fidel, Chávez. and Lula to say to everyone: “We are here, taking a stand against the aggression of the US imperialism.”

A summit at which we are joined by compañera Rigoberta Menchú, by other social and labor leaders, great personalities like Pérez Ezquivel. A great summit to say to our people that we are together, united, and defending humanity. We have no other choice, compañeros and compañeras–if we want to defend humanity we must change systems and this means overthrowing US imperialism.

Source

Related Topics:

The Intelligent Heart
The Tale of the Sands
Providing Your Own Energy Supply
Eight Things to Learn
Finding a Global Balance
What Frequency Am I Traveling on Right Now

 

The Last Remaining Siege on Earth

The Last Remaining Siege on Earth

 

Related Topics:

The Doctrine of Discovery

How the Human Spirit Triumphs Against Inhumanity to Man

A Sacred Place

To the Person with the Worst Job in the World

The House of Three Rooms

Rabbis on the Sin That is Zionism

Gaza and Israeli Might Over Human Rights

Activists for Gaza We Applaud You

Gaza Needs You

Forced to Build Sandbag Homes in Gaza

Israelis Stoked the Riot in Silwan

Bullying a Legacy from Our Leaders?

Albanian Muslims Risked Their Own Lives to Save Jews in the Holocaust

Israel: Master Puppeteers

The Peace that Will Not Proceed

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Sudan

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Sudan

By Hwaa Irfan

The ravages of animism, being Muslim, or simply just being black African are probably the images that come to mind when one hears for the continuous strife of Sudan. A land mass so large and uncontainable, Sudan with the exception of Egyptian incursion, has remained the protecting force of the West’s hunger to explore and exploit the beleaguered continent of Africa to the full. The gateway to the North, East and Central Africa, as well as providing another strategic position on the Middle East and its natural resources, the plight that haunts Sudan is not tribalism, but the exploitation of external forces, oil, and an errant ruler. Just as the oil wealth of Iraq has been cordoned off to the South under the allocated jurisdiction of the Kurds, the same is about to happen to Sudan splitting it into two Sudans.

At a time in human underdevelopment on the scale of humanity, when the many crises that beset the world today is pointing to the reality that this was only ever one earth for all people, separation or nationalism has never elevated the status of humanity from self interest to the common good. It has only served to make “nations” quibble, exploit and manipulate positions of power. It has never served to teach us how to share in reciprocity. As such, the level of corruption in the current Sudanese government serves the purposes of those external forces which swears allegiance to nationalism and all its faults.

The Nuer People

The Nei Ti Naath are a pastoral people. Known as the Nuer, Nuerland is partially swamps, and is in one of the regions where good oil deposits have been found in the Upper Nile region of Sudan, which also happens to be the home of the Dinka people. The Nuer people were treated as good for nothing until the discovery of oil on their land, yet, the Nuer successfully fended off external forces in the form of colonial European powers in the 1900s. In fact they are a well organized people that have been successful in expediting the true meaning of democracy without a single leader or group therefore ensuring a homogenous decision-making process. They use the land according to its nature, which is to flood and then dry out. As such, the Nuer migrate with their animals, returning to their settlements of extended families every rainy season, with cultivation of their crops taking place around their settlements, or on higher ground levels.

When Ismail, son of Muhammed ‘Ali led the 2-year Nile campaign into Sudan for gold and slaves (30,000 slaves in total), the Nuer were one of the people their marauding soldiers came across in 1821. By then there was an intense dislike of the Turks under Muhammed ‘Ali, who earned themselves a reputation for their brutality and heartlessness to the extent that when a celebratory night of dance and music by Ismail and his men took place, Sudanese rose up and set afire the house that Ismail was staying in and attacked all camps where Turks were stationed. However, this uprising also marked the end of Sudan’s freedom. Muhammed ‘Ali went on a campaign of massacres, raiding towns from Kordofan to El-Obeid. The town of Metemma was sacked and burned down, alone with all settlements along the Nile from Berber to Sennar.  All Sudanese male prisoners encountered were emasculated, and ll Sudanese female prisoners had the breasts cut off. All the valley of the Nile from the Ethiopian mountains to the sea fell under Muhammed ‘Ali’s control. By 1983, 70-year old Muhammed ‘Ali brought European engineers to Sudan to build a railway, telegraph, to establish the industry in cotton and indigo, and to develop the slave trade further. The Nubian slaves included girls as young as 12 years of age, but the men who were wanted as fodder for ‘Ali’s army rather than be conscripted, would rather mutilate a part of themselves so that they would be of no use to the Turkish army.

The Nuer, the Dinka, the Shilluks, and the Anuaks had good intercultural, inter-tribal relations until the 19th century intrusion of the Ottomans and the British. As is the art of colonial powers, one each tribe was pitted against the other, just as the case with Muslims in Iraq today. Some members of the Dinka took to their colonial oppressors, and in doing so became untraditionally hostile towards the Nuer until this day.

One of the countries that the Nuer people fled to after Sudan fell under Egyptian control was Ethiopia, and today one can find the Neur language is taught in schools from the elementary to university level, and because of this, the Ethiopian School Certificate is not recognized by the GOSS Ministry of Education. Professor David de Chand, a Nuer resident in the U.S. speaks of the life of xenophobia. Xenophobia was further punishment by the British like the form of collective punishment the Palestinians have had to endure, but in the case of the Neur it has been for resisting British colonialism.  While the U.S. has maintained sanctions against Sudan because of the humanitarian situation, it is from Europe that the push to divide Sudan has been the strongest. De Chand explains:

“The EU has been pushing desperately for the South to cede with the intention of exploiting it at its own expense and rather its own socioeconomic and human resources development. In brief, we would like the Western world to know that the South will not cede from Sudan. Such anticipation on the South ceding is encomiastic and euphoric.

“For instance, if the rest of the South, namely Bahr el-Ghazal and Equatoria would opt to go in the aftermath of 2011 referendum, the Greater Upper will opt to declare itself own independence as a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that would have closer links with the North and the would not become an integral part of the New Sudan or the New South Sudan for the next 50-100 year and forever. I do certainly have the fullest support from the people of the Greater Upper Nile on this strategic Aristocratic, Socratic thinking and neo-thinking.

“We are democrats, federalists rather than ethnocentrists (tribalists) and secessionists. Our people are underdeveloped and we do need more education, healthcare, hospitals, roads for transport, agro-development for self-sufficiency, self-reliance, food security and good infrastructure before we could dream if ceding from the North. Europe underdeveloped Africa during the colonial years, but is now seeking only continuous exploitation of its people and natural resources at their own expense.

“The Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Uganda, Alexander Murdoch McKay observed in 1889 that “in formers years, the universal aim was to steal Africans from Africa. Today the determination of Europe and North America is to steal Africa from the Africans”. Without the shadow of a doubt, 120 years later Europe and North America appear to still trying to steal both Africa and Africans. They are now using their newly establishment, the so-called ICC, to steal Africans from Africa and try them in mood or Kangaroo courts or mock trials in Western Europe. This is the real political means of destabilizing the African continent- which then makes the political exploitation and domination of Africa; the subsequent extraction and exploitation of African minerals and natural resources relatively much easier and cheaper”.

Now under government control, oil exploration in an area known as 5A located in Nuerland, was based on satellite images from Landsat 1999 – 2003. In the oil rush, the Sudanese government built roads to the oil fields, which led to the military displacing the population. Then the people were besieged from the sky.

“All of a sudden, a helicopter gunship appeared from nowhere,”

“First of all it surrounded the area. For sure they have seen that these are not army people. These are people distributing food. Those of us who know … this kind of [attack] helicopter, we warned people that these people should run away because this is not a relief plane. This is coming to kill you.” – James Ninrew, director of Assistance Mission for Africa.

The Oil Concessions

The comprehensive peace agreement of 2005 between the Arabized North, and the black south gave rights of compensation to those whose rights have been violated by oil contracts. These compensations should be paid by the oil companies, and all oil revenues are to be shared by the North and the South. But the catch is, is that the oil from the South is sold by the North, which also has the oil pipeline, and the port from where to export.

Oil production began in the 1990s with output from:

–        Blocks 1, 2, and 4 in the North, and South of the Abyei region under the Greater Nile Petroleum Company, which includes the Chinese National Petroleum Company, Petronas, and Sudapet.

–        Blocks 3 and 7 is in the Melut Basin of South Sudan under the Petrodar consortium, which consists of the Chinese National Petroleum Company, Petronas, Sudapet, Sinopec. Tri-Ocean Energy  Kuwait

–        Block 5A  in Nuerland is under the White Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which includes Petronas as the major shareholders, and Sudapet

–        Block 5B in the Muglad Basin  is under Ascom, a Moldocan company

–        Block 6 , the Fula oilfield is under the Chinese National Petroleum Company

–        Block B in south east Sudan is under Total.

–        Block EA runs along the Muglad Basin, and is under Star Petroleum from Luxembourg with Sudapet, and Hamla from Norway.

All concessions were granted by the Sudanese government in the North. By 2009, of the 485 billion barrels produced, most was exported to Asia, Ethiopia, and the Netherlands (the U.S. has placed sanctions on any trading with Sudan under the current social climate the precedent of which was set by Darfur), the rest, the 90,000 billion barrels was consumed domestically.

The Current Situation

Following the coalition of 50 NGO’s in Sudan, The European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, ECOS, have been reporting on the situation. In July 2010, it has been noted that 12,000 people have been killed, and 160,000 displaced by Block 5A in Nuerland by the thirst for oil. Said coordinator of ECOS Egbert Wesselink:

“We’re talking about rape, murder, torture, arson, looting, arbitrary bombing by high-altitude bombers as well as by helicopter gunships, driving people into uninhabitable areas like the swamps where many people suffered and died due to exhaustion, hunger, diseases.”

George Riak from Leer town in Block 5A said:

“Thank God that I was not shot but I lost materials. I lost 79 cows, I lost 51 goats and sheep. I lost my two luaks [cattle containers] plus my farms.”

Rightly so Riak is of the belief that communities should be compensated, not just individuals for

“Everything was destroyed,”

But how does one trust a government that puts wealth over its people and their people as inconveniences in the first place.

Lundin Petroleum rejected the claims that had been complicit in the oil crimes, and OMV is under the impression that they have fulfilled their “social responsibilities.”

Oil Crimes

“There is a straight line crossing the swamps of Nuerland where the earth has been methodically scorched and plugged. Rusting metal caps lie beneath fetid ponds of water six feet across. They are the only physical evidence of what will soon be the next generation of Sudan’s oil wells.

“They sit atop man-made hills, bulldozed from the burnt marshes and waiting to be connected to high-pressure pipelines that will pump the crude out of the ground of Unity State and send it north to Port Sudan.

The line of the plugs is matched by the fearsome symmetry of raised and graded roads that have been cut through the fringes of the great Sudd Swamp. This grid of dead-straight scars in the wetlands is a lasting reminder of a brutal meeting between the industrial world and the pastoral life that existed before the discovery of oil.” – Daniel Howden

The three multinational oil companies that have been complicit in the divisive crimes against the oil communities of Sudan are the government owned Malaysian company Petronas, the Austrian energy group OMV, and Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum. These three companies led by Lundin Petroleum are the major stakeholders in the oil production of Sudan, and the land that goes with the oil.

Focusing on Petronas, it market’s itself as having a “… commitment to operational excellence and sustainable development, while conducting our business with integrity mutual respect and understanding…”

Operating two Malaysian oil refineries, Petronas also operates a refinery in Durban, S. Africa, Petronas finalized a contract to develop Iraq’s 46,000 barrels a day Majnoon Oilfield along with Shell, which owns 60%. However, Ethiopia has not been so yielding.  The Ogaden National Liberation Front in fact argued in Petronas favor, at least on an ethical basis, that oil exploration carried out in the eastern region would link the oil company to the war crimes of the Ethiopian government.

“We urge Petronas to exercise corporate responsibility and steer clear of Ogaden so long as our people are victims of genocide and their rights to determine their own future are violently denied.”

However greed has no boundaries, as the situation outlined by ONFL has not been enough to deter Petronas, as they have recently pursued the Ethiopian government.  Petronas has asked the Ethiopian government to agree to sell all of its oil and gas concessions to a locally owned firm. Who would be silly enough to put all their eggs in one basket! The locally owned firm is South West Energy (H.K), which just happens to be registered in Hong Kong has offered to buy all of Petronas interests in the Horn of Africa.

Yet, it is the Malaysian state of Kelantan that finds itself having to sue Petronas in August 2010, because Petronas has failed not paid the 5% royalty outstanding to the state for oil extracted off its shores under the Petroleum Development Act of 1974. Once royalty is paid, in return states would surrender their control of the petroleum to Petronas, a state owned company.

Meanwhile, early in 2010, it has been found that there is a huge discrepancy over the actual oil production with the official Sudanese figures differing from the Chinese-led consortium: Chinese National Petroleum Company, Petronas, and Sudapet (owned by the Sudanese government, and others.The discrepancy was discovered by Global Witness who found that the Chinese figures were 12% greater or 12 million barrels of oil worth U.S.$370mn.

ECOS calls on Lundin Petroleum, Petronas, and OMV and their home governments to account for the injustices suffered by the victims of the oil wars in Block 5A. Some inroad has been made concerning OMV, has the Swedish Public Prosecutor has been pursuing a criminal investigation, which is more than the Malaysian, Austrian and Sudanese government has done in violation of  the Sudanese International Humanitarian Law for the period 1997 – 2003.

Sources:

AFP. “Petronas Caught in Sudan Oil Scandal http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/fmt-english/business/news-and-analysis/3394-petronas-caught-in-sudan-oil-scandal

Ashdown, M.  “Sudan: Oil Companies Alleged to Be Complicit in War Crimes.”  http://www.towardfreedom.com/home/africa/2047-sudan-oil-companies-alleged-to-be-complicit-in-war-crimes

Howden, D. “Independent Appeal: Where Unity is Divided By Oil.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/independent-appeal-where-unity-is-divided-by-oil-1848128.html

ECOS. “Unpaid Debt: The Legacy of Lundin, Petronas and OMV in Sudan, 1997-2003.” http://www.ecosonline.org/reports/2010/Press_release_UNPAID_DEBT/

De Chand, D. “A Critical Analysis on the U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Sudan.”  http://www.sudanvisiondaily.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=64627

Moorehead, A. “The Blue Nile.” Book Club Associates, UK. 1973. Prins, E. “Satellite of Land Cover and Use in Relation to Oil Exploitation in Concession Block 5A in Southern Sudan 1987 – 2006.”

Reuters. “Ethiopian Rebels Warn Petronas on Oil Exploration.” http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL643480420090106

“Shell Signs Iraq Oil Field Deal.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8464295.stm

“Strategic Partners for Growth.” http://www.petronas.com.my/

“Sudan Oil.” http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Sudan/Oil.html

“Sudan: Oil Companies Alleged to Be Complicit in War Crimes.”  http://bit.ly/a6yTG5

Zalkapli, A. “Kelantan to Sue Petronas for Oil Royalty.”  http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/kelantan-to-sue-petronas-for-oil-royalty/

Related Topics:

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of the Niger Delta

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Ecuador

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Peru

The Intelligent Heart

The Intelligent Heart

By Hwaa Irfan

It is the nature of materialistic/mainstream medicine to separate the part from the whole, with a resulting reductionist approach as to what is functioning mechanically, and what is not. If part is not working, it can be fixed through some sort of treatment, or removed, and if there is no progress the dark area of the unknown within modern medicine leaves it to die. It is only with the strides of men and women health professionals that have had made positive inroads into this materialistic way of thinking that any progress has been made, but still mainstream medicine maintains the shape of its true nature.

Ignoring that our immune system is unable to facilitate the role of fighting of colds, flu’s and herpes when we are experiencing long-term emotional/psychological stress, and the ability to recover from major illnesses, and post-operative care is due to general well-being. Relegated to the seat of the emotions, the heart in terms of disease has become the number one cause of death in the U.S.

As such, most of us have come to view our bodies in such a way, and more or less expect our bodies to behave perfectly with the help of mainstream medicine. As education and mainstream perception of the brain have taken up this pattern of understanding, more and more focus has been on the brain as he driver behind intelligence, with good education, and a good job as the paradigm to be fulfilled. After all it is pragmatic, and therefore achievable with clear signs towards achieving this goal. Today we have  a  tendency to not believe otherwise, and while modern/mainstream science is still catching up with the wisdom-based knowledge of certain indigenous, religious and spiritual landscape of the human body,

When this almost instant solution does not happen, we begin to fall prey to the feeling of powerlessness over our lives, the result of which is depression. However, most belief systems rooted in the Laws of Nature, have always known otherwise when it comes to the relationship between the heart and the brain. It was in 1999 at a workshop on the Alchemy of the heart when Sheikh Muhammad Maulad said:

“The actual physical heart in our breast beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping two gallons of blood per minute, 100 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for an entire lifetime! The vascular system that sends this life-giving blood is over 60,000 miles long: it is more than two times the circumference of the earth. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the heart starts beating before the brain is formed; the heart begins to beat without any central nervous system. The dominant theory was that the central nervous system is what is controlling the entire human being from the brain, yet we know now that in fact the nervous system does not initiate the heartbeat. It is actually self-initiated; we would say, it is initiated by Allah subhanahu wa t’ala.

The Brain Connection!

The heart starts functioning before the embryo becomes a fetus, and receives information intuitively before the brain even forms, which places a question over when to abort an unborn child. Neurocardiologist researcher, Dr. J. Andrew first described the heart brain in 1991 as containing 40,000 neurons with a complex circuitry, which is able to sense, regulate and remember, i.e. not a mechanical organ, but a sensory organ that is able to process, encode information, and facilitate decisions about its activity over the central nervous system. “The heart-brain is able to sense hormones, heart-rate, blood pressure, and then translate them into neurological impulses”, the biochemical content of the local blood flow, and process all that information within the heart-brain, not the brain. It is only then that the information is sent to the central nervous system through the vagus nerves, and the spinal column! It has been known in the scientific world since 1967 (through the work of Chernigovskiy ) that the neural data from the heart influences the function if other organs and biological systems, like the nervous, respiratory, lymphatic, skeletal, and endocrine systems, the digestive tract, the urinary bladder, the spleen. We know some of this for ourselves if we have ever experienced the kind of nervousness that rushes us to the bathroom, or the nervous colon or stomach cramps when a certain situation presents its self!

The Institute of HeartMath, IHM founded in 1991 has been exploring the physiological mechanisms of the heart, which has had a good response more so from the field of alternative health, than mainstream medicine. In 2009, research by IHM had found that the alpha and beta waves of the brain are synchronized to the heart with increased alpha waves occurring when there is greater psycho-physiological occurrence. What this means is that when there is synchronicity between the mind and the body, and alpha waves (connects conscious with subconscious, memory recall, ability to focus, truly relaxed, meditative state, creative flow) is greater. The body is therefore in greater balance and not compromised by dis-ease through stress, anxiety and going against what is right for the body-mind relationship. We are warned in the following ahadith when Wabisa ibn Ma’bad went to consult with Prophet Muhammed (SAW):

Forgetting that our Creator created all life forms, and is more capable of creating complex biological ecosystems that interdependently function without deteriorating into a state of chaos man has ignored the essence of his own being in favor of something more practical and more dysfunctional. The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, in line with the Chinese human energy field of the chakras, which aligns the thymus (part of the hormonal system) with the heart chakra.  In 2009, IHM found that the heart with its own neurological network of 40,000 neurons (referred to as the heart-brain) governs the brain, and that the brain does not govern the whole body as mainstream medicine and education has led us to believe. Yet, the heart produces hormones and neurotransmitters! The atria of the heart produces the hormone atrial peptide/balancing hormone affecting the electrolytic balance in the blood vessels, the kidneys, adrenal glands and the regulatory regions of the brain. The heart also produces the bonding hormone, oxytocin active in the roles of

  • Love
  • Bonding
  • Childbirth
  • Lactation
  • Trust
  • Cognition
  • Complex sexual and maternal behaviors
  • Learning social cues
  • Long term pair bonding

Most hormones produced in the heart are released in synchronization with the rhythm of the heart, and in doing so generates the most powerful and extensive rhythmic electromagnetic field produced by the body.  This produces an electric voltage 60 times more powerful than the brain affecting every cell in the body, and a magnetic field 5,000 times more powerful than the brain radiating out of the body several feet away. This human energy field has long been recognized by all forms of Vibrational Healing  as it is the means by which Vibrational Healing  works!  Now branches of mainstream science has proven that the human energy field produced by the heart and the brain is not bound by time or space, which has been proven by most forms of distant healing, and prayer!

{We have created man and We know what his soul suggests to him, for We are higher unto him than the neck-artery…} (50:16)

Schooling, and media continuously bombards us with information, all of which we cannot process. We think that there is something wrong with us when we cannot process all that information, and may even simplify what information we do process filtering out what is really important/necessary. However, in reality, our cognitive abilities are reduced when there is too much external stimuli, and this is indicated by the decrease in alpha waves.

Input to the brain from the heart influences the function of the thalamus, thus affecting the ability of the thalamus to plays its role in synchronizing brain activity.  The thalamus is located in the front of the brain, and is concerned with sensory input, the relationship between sensory and motor input, as well as related cognition and perception.

Life Lessons

IHM research has identified 4 psychological modes that affect the synchronicity of the heart and the brain in everyday life in relation to cognition:

Mental Focus

  • Impassive emotions while focusing on a task

The heart and brain responds with low brain frequency, and a more harmonic pattern of brain waves.

Psycho-physiological Incoherence

  • Negative emotions like anxiety, anger and frustration

The heart and brain responds with a lower brain frequency (sympathetic nervous system activity), and arrhythmic heart pattern.

Psycho-physiological Coherence

  • Sustained positive emotions that arise for care, appreciation, compassion

The heart and brain responds with a peak in the low frequency brain waves, increased synchronicity between sympathetic  and parasympathetic nervous systems, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. There is also increased parasympathetic activity at its level of resonance and greater synchronization with the heart-brain of the heart.

Relaxation

  • Calm emotions while at rest from the stressors of life

The heart and brain responds with a higher brain frequency (parasympathetic activity), decreased autonomic outflow, and a lower heart rate.

Then there are two psychological modes that occur under extraordinary life circumstances

Emotional Quiescence

  • Heart-focused. The exclusion of external chatter, the feeling of internal peace, and heart-centered serenity. Able to discern the flow of energy within, and to and from others.

The heart and brain responds low brain frequency, and a very low heart rate (almost flat-line) with very little power elsewhere.

Extreme Negative Emotions

  • Highly focused intense fear, rage with intense physical power, and decreased sensitivity to physical pain.

The heart and brain responds with excessive parasympathetic activity, heart rhythm almost flat-line, but with a very high heart rate preventing parasympathetic flow to the heart.

“You have come to ask about righteousness? I said: “Yes.” He said “Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels tranquil, and wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and moves to and fro in the breast even though people again and again have given you their legal opinion [in its favor.” – (An Nawawi #27)

It is only in secular thinking that we have learnt to separate the body from the mind, and the mind from the heart. We have given supremacy to the brain, neglecting the heart and the soul. Yet, the laws of nature that our bodies have been assembled on show to us every day that when we act against our bodies, we also act against our hearts, and our minds. We may not be aware of this, and that is because we have been entrained to not think this way. Not only that, we do not see the connection with the global deterioration of health and well-being.

By connecting how we feel with how we think, we complete the circuitry of our bodies to a level that we are not only better able to process information, but discern which information which is actually useful to us. This leaves us with more energy to evolve as human beings, and evolve as a society at large. There is increased vitality to cope with the challenges that life presents to us as we connect to positive feelings of compassion, courage, patience, sincerity, appreciation and gratitude for this is the source of the intelligence of the heart.

For those who pray and/or meditate on a daily basis, the opportunity presents its self to take time out to reduce the external chatter/stimuli enough to realign with the heart, as we breathe into the heart, and become receptive to the inner voice of the soul. We have the chance to reevaluate our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and those we care for to realign with our heart-brain. We have the chance to move on where others are not ready to move on, and to evaluate what really is important midst the daily demands that can sometimes overwhelm us. Every moment is a new opportunity, and every day presents us with new lessons to learn from.

The energy point for the heart or heart chakra is above the naval, between the shoulder blades. Of the seven major chakras, it is considered the bridge between our lower/outer selves, and the higher/inner selves. The lessons we must learn here are service, compassion, the ability to give and receive love, overcoming distance, hatred and restlessness. When this part of our being is balanced and open we are able to transcend the ego and be:

  • Balanced
  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic
  • Humanitarian
  • See the good in everyone
  • Desire to nurture others
  • Outgoing
  • Active in the community
  • Discriminate justly
  • In touch with one’s feelings
  • Have a living understanding of unity
  • Give and receive love
  • Dissatisfied in a marriage that lacks spirituality
  • Wait for the right partner
  • Highest expression is Divine bliss

When the heart chakra is out of balance, and the inclination is outward, the tendency is to be:

  • Demanding
  • Overly critical
  • Tense between the shoulder blades
  • Possessive
  • Moody
  • Melodramatic
  • Manic-depressive
  • Controlling of others by use of money
  • “I have made so many sacrifices for you…”
  • A master of conditional love

When the heart chakra is out of balance, and the inclination is inward, the tendency is to be:

  • Self pitying
  • Paranoid
  • Indecisive
  • Afraid of letting go/being free
  • Getting hurt/family members getting hurt
  • Being abandoned
  • Feel unworthy of love
  • Can’t reach out
  • Terrified of rejection
  • Need constant reassurance

Some of the symptoms pertaining to an imbalanced heart  chakra are:

  • Heart pains/attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Negativity
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Cancer

It is not too difficult to see a correlation between the heart-brain findings of IHM, and the Chinese human energy field of the chakras, which also correlates with the Islamic system of the human energy field of the lata‘if. In fact, Sheikh Hisham Al-Kabbani identifies the lata‘if of the heart as follows:

“above and below the heart, above and below the left breast, above and below the right breast, and one on the forehead.”

Through meditation, prayer, self development and one’s actions, one can lead a healthier more contented life by shifting from the ego-centered self (al-nafs al-‘ammarah – 12:53), to the higher self  self’ (al-nafs al-mutma’innah – 89:27), from ‘acquired knowledge’ (al-‘ilm al-‘ifadi) and inspired knowledge (al-‘ilm al-ladunni -18:65) resonating with the heart-brain, and the soul of who truly are or we can suffer the personal, social, and global consequences. Only then can it be said without incrimination to follow the heart for:

“Why then was she [the soul] cast down from her high peak

To this degrading depth? God brought her low;

But for a purpose wise, that is concealed

E’en from the keenest mind and liveliest wit.

And if the tangled mesh impeded her,

The narrow cage denied her wings to soar

Freely in heaven’s high ranges, after all

She was a lightening-flash that brightly glowed

Momently o’er the tents, and then was hid

As though its gleam was never glimpsed below.” – Ibn Sina

Sources:

Gardner, J. “Color and Crystals.”  The Crossing Press, U.S. 1988.

Goleman, D. “Emotional Intelligence.” Bantam Book, U.S. 1995.

IHM. “Science of the Heart.”  http://www.heartmath.org/free-services/downloads/science-of-the-heart.html

Maulad, M.  Tr. Yusuf, H. “The Alchemy of the Heart.” http://muslim-canada.org/alchofheart2.html

McCraty, R et al. “The Coherent Heart.” Integral Review. December 2009. Vol 5: #2 http://www.integral-review.org/documents/McCraty%20et%20al,,%20Coherent%20Heart,%20Vol.%205%20No.%202.pdf

Nasr, S. H. “An Introduction to The Islamic Cosmological Doctrine.”  Thames and Hudson, U.K.  1978.

Related Topics:

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

Discovering Your Emotional Intelligence

The Brain Says Men and Women are Different When It Comes to Stress

Attention Deficit or Information Overload in Our Children?

The Importance of the Creative Principle in Life

Distractions of Life vs. God

The Charity of Love

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

A Depleted Spiritual Bank Account

Reliving the Art of Communication

The Collective Intelligence of Women

Self-Awareness: Between Me, Myself and Others

Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”

The Tale of the Sands

The Tale of the Sands

By Idris Shah

A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one, but it found that as fast as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.

It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert, and yet there was no way. Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered: “The Wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.”

The stream objected that it was dashing itself against the sand, and only getting absorbed: that the wind could fly, and this was why it could cross a desert.

“By hurtling in your own accustomed way you cannot get across. You will either disappear or become a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over, to your destination.”

“But how could this happen?”

“By allowing yourself to be absorbed in the wind.”

This idea was not acceptable to the stream. After all, it had never been absorbed before. It did not want to lose its individuality. And, once having lost it, how was one to know that it could ever be regained?

“The wind,” said the sand, “performs this function. It takes up water, carries it over the desert, and then lets it fall again. Falling as rain, the water again becomes a river.”

“How can I know that this is true?”

“It is so, and if you do not believe it, you cannot become more than a quagmire, and even that could take many, many years; and it certainly is not the same as a stream.”

“But can I not remain the same stream that I am today?”

“You cannot in either case remain so,” the whisper said. “Your essential part is carried away and forms a stream again. You are called what you are even today because you do not know which part of you is the essential one.”

Source:

 

More Stories for Adults

Consumer Protest Even in the Festive Season

Consumer Protest Even in the Festive Season

By Hwaa Irfan

For far too long, consumers have sat back and taken the shocking price rises as a matter of fact since the rigged food prices since 2008. One of the most underused tools we have when it comes to exercising our rights, and demonstrates in the same breath the power that we have is that as a consumer. British consumers have just demonstrated their power in the period leading up to Christmas, an important period for the money makers, especially during this recession. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and down hearted because of what people cannot afford, British consumers empowered themselves by protesting in the depths of the heavy snowfall in the crowded high streets of London city. There were 55 separate protests up and down the country, targeting major high street retailers, and the reason was corporate tax dodging, some protestors in Brighton even glued themselves to store windows to prevent trade from taking place. The energy must have been positive because even shoppers unaware of the protests joined in, and participated in a sit-down.

Britain has lost an estimated £100bn annually from multinational companies that escape paying the corporate tax. From the protestors perspective, this money could be used to improve the National Health Service, and fund poverty reduction programs around the world.

The protests were organized by UK Uncut who said to Dissident Voice:

“If you’re angry that the government is cutting services for the poorest and most vulnerable whilst letting the rich avoid billions in tax, then please join us, even if you have never been on a protest before.”

In a press statement UK Uncut stated:

“We will not accept a cabinet of millionaires cutting services for the poorest and most vulnerable”

This follows the student protests against market driven university education, which having direct experience offers little education, lazy professors, and lots of reasons to go bankrupt.

Attending the protest, Open Democracy founder, Anthony Barnett had the following to say to Dissident Voice:

“This is where UK Uncut links to the student protests which were never just about fees but against the imposition of a world without choice – except for what was on calculated offer from a financial system that is patently unjust and probably failing.”

Maybe the snowstorms are trying to tell us something afterall!

Sources:

Parson, A. “The Rise of British People Power.” http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/12/the-rise-of-british-people-power/

Related Topics:

Can’t See the British Woods Without the Trees

A Victory for Farmers, Consumers and Environment

What Would You Do With 11 Million Dollars?

Paid in Full

Behind the Food Price Crisis!

Anti-Austerity and Living on the Edge