Friday, December 20, 2013

Gluten and carbs

Attention to food, what should or should not be eaten, the consequences of various diets and similar matters is a significant issue for many people. Our written records, as well as religious and oral traditions, are indicative of how significant similar themes, with different rationales, seem to have been for people throughout much of recorded history.

Recently, there has been much talk in the US and other parts of the developed world of the consequences of eating foods with gluten or which are primarily carbohydrates. While I do not have the expertise to evaluate the scientific and other evidence regarding this, I am surprised at the disagreements and blindness  [and the seeming self-interest]   of some having these discussions.

There are people for whom eating gluten is definitely a major danger - causing disease, even life threatening conditions. This is a small percentage of the total population, but for those sensitive to gluten in this way these dietary choices are major issues, even matters of life-and-death.

And there are many for whom eating a diet too heavy in carbs has health consequences that may not be life-threatening or disabling but nevertheless are significant.

At the same time, there are large numbers of people, both in the USA and throughout the world, for whom the lack of adequate food in any form, for whom hunger and starvation, are a daily threat. For them, the important issues are  about getting enough calories and their basic dietary needs - these are vital;  the issues around gluten or carbs are minor or non-existent. Appreciating this, we can appreciate the good fortune we have, and our responsibility, if we have a life with enough food, time and income, among other things, to further explore our options in food choices and their consequences.

Especially for those of us for whom gluten is not a matter of life-and-death, not a matter of major illness, how do we evaluate and understand the significance and consequences of dietary gluten and carbohydrates in our life?

Below is a link to a critique which explores the gluten and carb issues, primarily focusing on the anti-gluten and anti-carb presentations by Dr. David Perlmutter [which are receiving media attentions recently with best-selling books and videos]; in the article there are links to the scientific-evidence based literature:


No matter what your conclusions after/if you read this article, I hope you enjoy your year-end gatherings and festivities, and are appreciative of all those with whom you share this life.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Arguing for war to prevent war

It is interesting and challenging to read arguments for war which are based on the premise that the war will prevent a more dangerous war. I have previously touched on this, and have today been sent an article which comes to these very conclusions. How do we decide something like this, whose lives do we value, whose lives are we willing to sacrifice? Of course, war always raises this issues, but in this case it seems to be more immediate - though the author is not in power and so this is "only" an intellectual exercise at this point.

Below are the last few paragraphs of the article with a link - you decide for yourself.

"...The Obama administration tells us that the interim agreement puts Iran on a track that will lead to the abandonment of its quest for a nuclear arsenal. But the Iranians are jubilant because they know that the only abandonment going on is of our own effort to keep them from getting the bomb.

Adherents of the new consensus would have us believe that only two choices remain: a war to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or containment of a nuclear Iran—with containment the only responsible option. Yet as an unregenerate upholder of the old consensus, I remain convinced that containment is impossible, from which it follows that the two choices before us are not war vs. containment but a conventional war now or a nuclear war later.
Given how very unlikely it is that President Obama, despite his all-options-on-the-table protestations to the contrary, would ever take military action, the only hope rests with Israel. If, then, Israel fails to strike now, Iran will get the bomb. And when it does, the Israelis will be forced to decide whether to wait for a nuclear attack and then to retaliate out of the rubble, or to pre-empt with a nuclear strike of their own. But the Iranians will be faced with the same dilemma. Under these unprecedentedly hair-trigger circumstances, it will take no time before one of them tries to beat the other to the punch.
And so my counsel to proponents of the new consensus is to consider the unspeakable horrors that would then be visited not just on Israel and Iran but on the entire region and beyond. The destruction would be far worse than any imaginable consequences of an Israeli conventional strike today when there is still a chance to put at least a temporary halt, and conceivably even a permanent one, to the relentless Iranian quest for the bomb."
What do you make of the points raised? 

Some of the comments posted with the article are particularly insightful, though unfortunately many are hyper-partisan and worse.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not - is there anything you can do in your life?

"Europe wastes more heat than it uses to keep buildings warm. Now projects across the continent will tap everything from subways to sewers to keep homes cosy
TAKE the escalator down to platform level at any deep London Underground station and a wave of warm air wafts over you. Dug in the 19th century, the poorly ventilated tunnels were not designed for today's train and passenger volumes, trapping heat from engines, brakes and the bodies of London's commuters. It is not just unpleasant on a summer's day – that heat represents a huge amount of energy going to waste.
And so it was announced last month that some of this energy will be channelled to nearby homes. It is one of five such projects in the works. Urban heat sources across European cities, such as waste water from baths and washing machines, could soon be tapped to cut heating bills and help Europe hit its carbon emissions targets......"
For the rest of the article see:

inhaling, exhaling, borning, dying, inflating, deflating

What is inhaling, exhaling, dying, borning right now?

Here is a wonderful art piece that encourages us to clarify this matter right here.

"Art That Breathes: Lewis DeSoto’s Paranirvana (Self-Portrait)

Anya Montiel


 Lewis deSoto’s Paranirvana (self-portrait) is a 26-foot long sculpture influenced by the artist’s engagement with Buddhism. The sculpture depicts a figure reclining on its right side; its disposition closely based on a twelfth-century stone Buddha at Gal Vihara in Sri Lanka. Unlike its solid stone predecessor, deSoto’s work, made from painted polyethylene cloth, is hollow, filled only by air from a fan that keeps the sculpture inflated. The resemblance to the reclining Buddha is nonetheless remarkable, from the curls of hair to the folds of the robe, the one exception being that deSoto superimposed his own facial features, complete with goatee, on this Buddha. These alterations to material and the personalization of the piece that occurs when it becomes a self-portrait, make particular claims on this representation and shape its possible meanings......."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inheritance MAY include fears and reactive habits built into our DNA and much more on new medicine and science

Have you found or discovered any traits, reactive habits or fears which seem to be familial, seem to be common to your family and ancestors?A BBC report states, "Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest.Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.
A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their 'grandchildren'."
The rest of the findings discussed above and below are at
Here is the original study abstract and citation:
"Family affairThe findings provide evidence of "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" - that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.
One of the researchers Dr Brian Dias told the BBC: "This might be one mechanism that descendants show imprints of their ancestor.
"There is absolutely no doubt that what happens to the sperm and egg will affect subsequent generations."
Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said the findings were "highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders" and provided "compelling evidence" that a form of memory could be passed between generations.
He commented: "It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously.
"I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach."
If the above study has some validity and truth for us humans, what are the appropriate cautions and precautions? Are there preventive practices in the light of particular sensitivities? These are important questions to reflect upon - both in terms of our own life and also, especially in this time of the year when families gather, in terms of our family with whom we share genetic inheritances.

What are skillful responses and PRE-cautions when we will be with our family and the family of friends, partners and so forth?

Below are some comments I received on this blog post:

"This is really cool; it basically implies that epigenetic tags put on the DNA which are usually cleared between generations were not in this case, or perhaps were cleared less cleanly.  This is due to gene methylation aka the application of epigenetic tags which are due to environmental factors in an individual. It's a fascinating and new area of genetics that is just now beginning to be understood. Another instance of this was a study that if I remember correctly found that individuals whose grandparents had periods of famine in their lives were less likely to become obese and to develop diabetes."

Another comment was : "An interesting study but I am reluctant to generalize to humans without experimental evidence from other mammals including humans."

And now a review of genetic research and another study on this area:

Book Review: 'The Cure in the Code,' by Peter W. Huber

"We are at a turning point in medicine. Knowledge of the individual's genetic makeup will soon allow molecular medicine to reach deep inside each of us to cure most of the maladies that afflict us—and perhaps even slow the rate at which we age. First we will learn to understand each person's genome; then we will learn to craft treatments tailored to his or her genetic constitution.
But it may not be so easy—and not for purely scientific reasons. Consider 23andMe, a commercial enterprise launched in 2006 that was merely looking to inform Americans about their potential genetic vulnerability to certain diseases. Regulators from the Food and Drug Administration have dropped the hammer on the company, citing baseless fears that its customers will do something dangerously stupid in reaction to the information that the tests provide. The FDA's regulatory labyrinth is not only slow to digest the science behind the genetic testing involved in 23andMe. It also can't quite figure out what to do with the proliferation of molecular biomarkers that can predict treatment efficacy more quickly than the conventional clinical trials the agency relies upon.
All this is just the tip of the iceberg, Peter Huber argues in "The Cure in the Code," his urgent, compelling account of how 21st-century medicine is being hampered by a regulatory regime built for the science of the 20th century..."
for the rest of the article see:

Parents have gastric bypass; children’s DNA may receive the benefits

It's epigenetics: Kids' gene expression may occur a generation after surgery.

"Gastric bypass surgeries would, at first glance, seem to tackle the problems of obesity through simple physics: with a smaller stomach, there's only so much food a person can ingest. Actual results are anything but simple, however. Long before any significant weight loss occurs, patients who have the surgery show a remarkable reversal in many aspects of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. This suggests the body responds physiologically to the altered food intake itself rather than its impact on obesity.
New research shows that the effects may go beyond the patients themselves. A study has beentracking women who have had kids both before and after these surgeries, and it reveals that the children also see changes in how their bodies handle fats and sugars (as well as in markers of cardiovascular health). The researchers have found that the offspring may be benefiting from epigenetic inheritance, in which the parent's surgery influences how the DNA they inherit is interpreted by their cells...."
(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Monday, December 2, 2013


How ideological positions may blind us to what is - and to what is appropriate. 

"Justice's lawsuit takes a bizarre turn to keep kids in rotten schools."

"Under Louisiana's voucher law, only students from families with incomes below 250% of the poverty line and who attend schools with a C grade or below are eligible for vouchers. Black kids received over 85% of the 6,800 vouchers this year, and 93% of their parents express satisfaction with the program.
But that doesn't matter to (Department of Justice) prosecutors, who sued in August on grounds that vouchers may lead to segregation under judicial orders dating to the 1970s. The original lawsuit literally claims, for instance, that black kids who use vouchers to attend private schools could leave public schools more white.
This objection has proven to be unfounded..... so now DOJ says it wants federal Judge Ivan Lemelle to approve a "process to ensure that the State provides necessary information and complies with its desegregation obligations." The goal here is to put the federal bureaucracy in charge.
Justice wants to review data on all voucher applicants including their race, public school district, whether and why they are granted a voucher and the private school to which they were assigned. And it wants that info at least 45 days before parents are notified that their kids will get a voucher. Why? Because the feds don't want parents to know if the feds knock their kids from the voucher list....."
For the full article, see:

Does similar blindness occur in our life? 

And if and when it does, what helps us notice this? 

Even more important, what enables and supports us to have the courage to act on what is, rather than holding only to what we believe or with what we identify in the face of a "conflicting" or "larger" reality?

In other words, how to manifest beginner's mind?

A telling report of economic and political self-centeredness from an interesting source

Here is an opinion piece that highlights greed and the resistance to change - even
when it is clear what is in the interest of the public and nation. What is especially "telling" is
that those in power, both Democrat and Republican, are part of this.

"Flooding Taxpayers Again

A bipartisan caucus wants to keep subsidies flowing to the 1%.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Buddha's Birthplace - new findings and links

Pilgrims meditate at the Maya Devi Temple, with ancient remains in the background.

  • Archaeologists have found Buddhist shrine from sixth century B.C.
  • Its remains were found under a known Buddhist shrine, built about 300 years later
  • Results are published in the journal Antiquity
  • The older structure seems to have been made of timber
(CNN) -- There are about 500 million Buddhists worldwide, but it's unclear exactly when in history this religion began. The Buddha's life story spread first through oral tradition, and little physical evidence about Buddhism's early years has been found.
Now, scientists for the first time have uncovered archaeological evidence of when the Buddha's monumentally influential life occurred. Excavations in Nepal date a Buddhist shrine, located at what is said to be the Buddha's birthplace, to the sixth century B.C.

The research, published in the journal Antiquity, describes the remains of a timber structure about the same size and shape as a temple built at the same site in the third century B.C.........

here is a 2 minute preview of a National Geographic Channel

documentary scheduled in February 2014.

Friday, November 22, 2013

An enjoyable satire - with interesting underlying insights

"Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West

WASHINGTON—In a 45-minute video posted on Tibetan websites Thursday, Tsuglag Rinpoche, leader of the Buddhist extremist group Kammaṭṭhāna, threatened to soon inflict a wave of peace and tranquility on the West...."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sounds of the Stream

 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Enlightened while walking in the mountains, Su Tung-Po (a Sung Dynasty poet, 1036 - 1101 CE) wrote the following:

“The sounds of the valley stream are his long broad tongue,
the forms of the mountain are his pure body.
In the night, I heard the myriad sutras uttered.
How can I relate what they mean?”

Dogen Zenji says, “This insight enabled him to be enlightened when he heard the valley stream and his example is edifying. It is a pity that from ancient times up to the present, people do not realize that the universe is proclaiming the actual body of Buddha.”

One reason we may have difficulties with this is our narrow vision and comprehension. The first phrase of the Four Practice Principles is, “caught in self-centered dream.” This is attachment to me and not-me, to dualism. But many of us take the phrase “self-centered dream”, only in a narrow sense of “Oh, that is me in this body,” or this body-mind habits, as opposed to other people; but both of these are human-centric in perspective though we often don’t realize it. Not only are we human-centric, we are animate-centric. When Huangbo says, “Buddhas and beings are one mind. No other dharmas besides this,” we take it in terms of animate beings. Holding to a dualistic view of animate and inanimate is what blinds us to the life that we are. We add self to beings, to animate beings, to inanimate beings. And we privilege human, privilege animate, privilege self  – with all that results from this privileging. The poet’s awakening occurred when he asked his teacher about the phrase, “inanimate objects proclaim the Dharma.” Struggling with this phrase, with this koan, walking in the mountains and hearing the sound of the valley stream, he awakened, realized this true nature.

Being self-absorbed, we think we walk through a universe, that we are walking through these “other” “things” that are all about us. On one level, it is definitely important to “see” other people; just don’t hold to ideas of “self” regarding others or self. Please “see” other animate beings; going beyond that, “see” so-called inanimate. Of course, these are just categories that we humans create – and then privilege some versus others. If we only see our practice in terms of one body, three treasures, then, Yasutani Roshi says, “Our practice descends to the level of mere philosophy and the study of mental delusion.” Practice, the Buddha Way, this awakened life, is much more than that; it is not limited by such things. And this is difficult to talk “about” since so many of the ordinary assumptions and presumptions of speech and human habits go “against” life as is, so that when we hear a poem like “the sounds of the valley stream…” we may think, “Oh, that is metaphorical.”

Master Zhaozhou (Joshu) is asked, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” (What is Zen?) He responds, “Oak tree in the garden.” Maybe we take it as a metaphor of something, as a symbol of something. Or we may take it in a concrete, materialistic way. Do not be fooled! The questioner responded to Zhaozhou, “Master, do not teach using external objects.” Zhaozhou said, “I am not teaching using external objects.” The questioner asks again, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” Zhaozhou responds, “Oak tree in the garden.” (The Chinese ideogram here translated as oak may also be translated as cypress or juniper)

Master Lingyun (Reiun) is awakened on seeing flowering peach blossoms. We think, “Oh, it is those peach blossoms out there that did something ‘inside’ him.” That is human-centric, that is self-centered. That is a delusion which limit us; we limit our functioning from morning to night in the midst of this body that is our life. Thus, when Master Yunmen (Ummon) is asked the straightforward question, “What is the pure body of the Buddha?,” he answers straightforwardly, “The flowering garden hedge.”

When we say Buddha was awakened on seeing the morning star, is the morning star separate from Buddha? If you think he saw the morning star and something happened “inside his head”, inside his mind, then that much we don’t see, that much our whole practice becomes as Yasutani said, mental delusions and philosophy. Nevertheless, we say Buddha was awakened. And this awakening is expressed in, “I and all beings of the great earth have together attained the way.” To say it another way, “All beings of the great earth are the wisdom and perfection of the Buddha.” These are pointers and encouragement. Nevertheless, if I use clumsy words, practice is whole body-mind-world, being just this.

This is not easy for us, especially us modern humans. Dogen says about the Buddha of Maintained Three Treasures, “Converting devas and liberating humans, appearing in vast space or in a speck of dust, this is the Buddha Treasure.” What does it mean that myriad worlds are in a speck of dust? Do we take it in a theoretical, conceptual way, and then miss all the specks of dust that we encounter from morning to night, miss the Buddha Treasure dust specks? Doing that, we disregard our life, miss the myriad aspects of our life, miss vast space.

When Su Tung Po says, “myriad verses are heard throughout the night,” what is this?  These are sutras. What are sutras? They express this true nature that we are. How are these heard? He doesn’t mean it metaphorically. What are Buddhas in various forms? Buddhas here, Buddhas there; Buddhas are all our daily encounters, all over this world. If this were just metaphors, then maybe that is useful, but we have reduced much of life to symbols and we have missed the strength and essence of this moment.

Yunmen says, “The East Mountain walks across the water.” Dogen comments, “This essence of realization and actualization of the Way is that all mountains are East Mountain, and all those East Mountains walk across the water. Therefore, Nine Great Mountains and Mountains of India actualize themselves and attain practice and enlightenment. This is East Mountain.” That is why we can talk about the practice of the preaching of insentient beings, inanimate beings. What is that? Do we live in a world where there is us, animate beings, and other, inanimate things, all around us? Do we believe that privileging?

It is fine to speak of humans and non-humans. There is myself and someone else. Good. But if we get caught in that, then our life is that much limited by our preconceptions that close us off. Here in the zendo there is a wood floor – but if we get caught in that dualistically, that much our walking on this wood, sitting on this wood, is hindered and we imprison our self. Dogen continues, “We should know that the East Mountain walking across the water is the bones and marrow of the Buddhas and Ancestors. All types of water are actualized at the foot of the East Mountain. ..Water is not comprised of earth, water, fire, wind, space, consciousness, and so forth. It is not blue, yellow, red, white, black, and so forth. It has no form, sound, smell, taste, sensation, perception. Nevertheless, it is actualized in all these things. Consequently, it is very difficult to clarify the nature of this world. Correct interpretation depends on the meaning of wind and emptiness. It doesn’t depend on ideas of oneself and others, and is beyond superficial understanding. Do not limit your vision to some narrow range.” And yet we limit our vision.

There are myriad ways that we are encouraged and supported, if we are open to this. All sorts of koan enable us to be beyond our self-centric, human-centric, animate-centric vision. This is our practice all the time. That is why practice is being this moment. “Right now being no-mind,” says Huangbo. Being this moment isn’t just inside a bag of skin. It is being this moment, the whole universe. Time-space are all together just this moment. Everything in front of you is just this moment. When you breathe, it is not an isolated “you” breathing, it is the universe breathing you. Breathing reaches across space and time in a very immediate sense. Just this moment. That is why it may be hard for us to understand Huangbo saying, “Buddhas and our self being just this one mind, nothing besides that.” And if there is nothing besides that, this is only our self taking care of our self. But if we don’t appreciate this, then we perpetuate self-centered dreams – which is what we do when we are addicted to all sorts of self-centered privileging. And at times this privileging even seems natural to us.

Buddha of the Maintained Three Treasures is not something that we can grasp conceptually. And yet, we can chew it and see for ourselves - appear in vast space. There are two nice testing questions - “What kind of Buddhas appear in vast space? What kind of Buddhas appear in dust?”

This is an opportunity for us, when we are washing dishes, chopping vegetables, writing on a computer, driving down the road. And in walking in the mountains at night and listening to the sutras that the streams chant. This is our body. The sounds of the valley streams are Buddha’s long, broad tongue.  The forms of the mountain are his pure body. Is the night star sky your pure body? If not, how not? If so, how so?

The Dharma of the Maintained Three Treasures, Dogen says, “Transformed into sutras and converted into oceanic storehouse, it delivers the animate and inanimate. This is the Dharma Treasure.” How do we deliver inanimate? This is practice. There are koan dealing with this, because that is how to broaden and expand our vision, capacity, practice and life. Because our life is broad, expanded – this is boundless. Boundless is not a metaphor for something else. That’s why Huangbo says all dharmas are nothing but this. How do we serve all beings, save all beings?

Our culture is human-centric. This is what we are born into and this is our opportunity to see when we caught in self-centered dream. The word self-centered is not just about a “self” inside a bag of skin.

Our practice is always this moment, nothing left over and nothing left out; both equality and differentiation, not one covering over the other. And yet, when it is equality, it is just this. When it is differentiation, it is emptiness is form. This form swallows up the whole universe. The peach blossoms are the body of the Buddha. Or the dish you are washing is the body of the Buddha, is your body - so take good care of it.

© 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Monday, October 21, 2013

Science fiction fun

More and more, science 'fiction' becomes science 'fact'


The Kansas City Star
"Carrie moves objects with her mind. Wolverine’s skin heals instantly. And Darth Vader and Batman use lightsabers and grappling guns.

Only in the movies?
Not anymore. Hold on to your comic books, nerds. Science “fiction” is becoming science “fact.”
Today, more than ever, life is imitating art as fictional gadgets and abilities once the exclusive province of superheroes and telekinetic teens are sparking innovation in the real world.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers Dan Novy and Sophia Brueckner teach a class called “Pulp to Prototype,” where science fiction is required reading to get students thinking about possibilities that seem far-fetched.
At the University of Minnesota, physics professor James Kakalios found success with the freshman course “Everything I Know About Science I Learned From a Comic Book” and went on to write the popular science book “The Physics of Superheroes.”
“Both scientific research and science fiction begin with the same two words: ‘What if?’” he said. “The very best science fiction takes things that are established and extrapolates from there.......”

for the rest of this article see:

Read more here:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paranoia is not for the birds!

"Israeli bird researcher ... says he was tracking an endangered eagle that was downed in Lebanon on suspicion of being a Mossad agent

An eagle flying over southern Israel (photo credit: Yoav Perlman/Israel Ornithological Center, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)

"Hezbollah’s Al-Manar website recently boasted of capturing an eagle that carried an Israel-labeled transmission device on its back and claimed the bird was an Israeli spy. It said hunters in central Lebanon shot down the bird and found devices on it as well as a copper ring on its leg that reads “Israel” in English, followed by letters that refer to Tel Aviv University. The fate of the eagle remains unknown.

Israeli ornithologist Yossi Leshem said Thursday he was tracking the bird for research and was “incredibly frustrated” it was harmed. Leshem, a Tel Aviv University professor, has specialized in the Bonelli’s eagle for decades and said they are in great peril with just nine pairs of mating age remaining in Israel.

“The whole field of conservation is based on regional cooperation and not this nonsense,” said Leshem, who collaborates on several projects with Palestinian and Jordanian scientists. “It’s not enough that they kill people; now they are killing birds too.”
Leshem said Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey have all targeted migrating birds from Israel in the past and made similar unfounded espionage accusations.
Egyptian authorities, for instance, recently detained a stork that was tagged with a tracking device and claimed it was spying for Israel. Previously, Egypt has accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of training sharks to reach the Sinai Peninsula to harm tourism there.
“Every time a migrating bird from Israel, carrying a satellite transmitter or a ring, is captured by one of the neighboring countries, it is immediately thought to be the instrument of a sophisticated spy work by the Israeli Mossad,” Leshem wrote in a recent essay after an Israeli common kestrel was captured and investigated by Turkey. “All the countries mentioned employ the same methods of research and use the same electronic devices in tracking birds and mammals in their studies, and yet the paranoia persists in the Middle East.”

Why sleep?

For brain cleaning. 

Study finds that spinal fluid pumps around the brain of sleeping mice, flushing out waste products.

The study is here:

Vol. 342 no. 6156 pp. 373-377
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241224                        

Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain


  • "The conservation of sleep across all animal species suggests that sleep serves a vital function. We here report that sleep has a critical function in ensuring metabolic homeostasis. Using real-time assessments of tetramethylammonium diffusion and two-photon imaging in live mice, we show that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system. "

    Are there other states of being where this occurs - in humans ?

    Does zazen, upright sitting, also have a function like this?

    What of the cleansing of body-mind practice like tonglen in Vajrayana Buddhism or Hakuin's naikan?

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Further responses to shutdown/civility blog of 10/2/13

    My blog on the shutdown and civil speech has generated a number of interesting responses from different perspectives. This article was sent to me today; it raises the issues of communication and the ability or inability to hear opposing positions. It is from a columnist with definite political positions - can you consider what he has to say despite your agreement or disagreement with his political position?.


    A ‘Wonderland’ moment for the court

    “ ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ”


    "Yes, in Tuesday’s Through-the-Looking- Glass moment, the court will be urged to declare that Michigan’s ban on unequal treatment violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit — divided 8 to 7, with five dissents — has said just that, citing what is called the political-restructuring doctrine. "......

    For the full piece, see:

    Saturday, October 12, 2013


    For a fascinating critical article exploring philosophical, scientific and other perspectives on "consciousness" (including the questions and difficulties raised by these various and often conflicting perspectives) see:

    "The mental block

    Consciousness is the greatest, most troubling mystery in science. Don’t believe the hype: the Hard Problem is here to stay."

    Some of the comments after the article are also worth perusal.

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Another response to Shutdown/Civility blog from different perspective

    In response to the issues regarding listening to "opponents" that were raised in the 10/2/13 blog on shutdown/civility, the following article was sent to me. This is a different perspective from that of my post and yet has important points regarding practice in the world of "disagreement."

    The article begins,

    "As a young Israeli who had just completed five years of service in the IDF, I looked forward to my new job educating people in the Pacific Northwest about Israel. I was shocked, however, by the anti-Israel bigotry and hostility I encountered, especially in the greater Seattle area, Oregon, and Berkeley. I had been very liberal, a member of the leftist Zionist party, Meretz, but the anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel that I have seen in the U.S. has changed my outlook personally and politically....."

    The rest of this article is at:

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Response to my 10/2/13 shutdown blog post

    The following article was sent by a reader as a response and follow-up to my shutdown blog post of October 2, 2013. I offer the article and link as an interesting study which counters conventional views and explanations:

    "Gerrymandering Didn’t Cause the Shutdown

    What if we told you that the gerrymandering of congressional districts has nothing to do with political polarization in Washington? Gerrymandering didn’t have anything to do with the shutdown, or the battles over the debt ceiling, or Obamacare. In fact, the accepted view that politically based redistricting led to our state of intransigence isn’t just incorrect; it’s silly...."

    see the link below for the rest of this article; see especially the comments to the article which challenge, sometimes very strongly, the conclusions:

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    A picture worth a thousand words - and then some words

    "Deadly lake turns animals into statues
    by Rowan Hooper

    ACCORDING to Dante, the Styx is not just a river but a vast, deathly swamp filling the entire fifth circle of hell. Perhaps the staff of New Scientist will see it when our time comes but, until then, Lake Natron in northern Tanzania does a pretty good job of illustrating Dante's vision.
    Unless you are an alkaline tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica) – an extremophile fish adapted to the harsh conditions – it is not the best place to live. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C, and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5.
    The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified."

    For the rest of this article see:

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013


    The current federal political disagreements are a reflection of the inability and unwillingness of each side to hear and acknowledge the concerns of the other.

    Of course, being political opponents, they need not agree with each other - but  it is important to genuinely listen to what an opponent's issues are and to see what and how to respond to those. Often in Washington, DC and throughout our nation one side can not even consider the facts and points raised by opponents. At times, even human civility seems to have vanished among those in Congress and the Senate.

    Instead, we have Democrats and Republicans repeating their own positions ad nauseam. These positions are often the concerns and needs of a small segment of the population, the primary points which they want to focus on, while disregarding the often legitimate issues and segments of the population which they denigrate or do not identify with.

    Truly it is hard to listen to those we disagree with, to opponents, whether personally, socially, politically or in many other areas. And we can see how we might do something similar in getting news and information, ideas and positions, given our tendency to attend only to media whose ideological positions we are predisposed to agree with. A way to explore this might be the following:

    For a day or a week, read or listen to a form of media that is ideologically different from the one you usually use. Below are just a few examples of pairs and alternatives (or create your own alternatives). or or

    msnbc tv  or fox tv‎ or

    for middles east news: or or or

    Notice your reactions to listening to/reading and considering the facts and points raised.

    Notice how hard it is to read, listen or watch the media whose ideological positions differ from your own.

    What do you do when reactions arise?

    What is skillful and appropriate practice with this?

    What does it take for you to listen, without abusing others, not elevating yourself and putting down others?

    What is being present, experiencing? How can we support this?

    Always our life is being just this moment, responding compassionately.

    (c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century


    And if you think you can escape it simply by avoiding sophisticated but optional entertainments, think again—the latest example is people experiencing motion sickness as a result of Apple’s new iOS 7, which uses a parallax effect to make its interface look 3D. (If you haven’t experienced iOS 7 yourself, this video is a good illustration.) "

    For the rest of this article and links, see: