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What to do when the Earth’s ecological environment is in crisis?

2016 Jul-Sep

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Eleven years ago in “Words from the Founder” of the August 2004 issue of the Lapis Lazuli Light magazine, the topic was “Creating a zero-pollution 21st century”. That article explained in detail how the earth’s ecological system was in crisis, with rising temperature and annually-declining crop production. Eleven years later, the human population has grown from 6.4 billion to over 7 billion, and the environment has deteriorated even more. The past year was the hottest year on record in the world’s history, and temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit were common and temperatures at 120 degrees Fahrenheit were not rare. This abnormal climate has created serious droughts and floods. Strong winds and dry forests have led to forest fires, leading to even greater damage to the environment. The current climate catastrophe is the most serious problem facing humanity and all of life on Earth.

 

The rising temperature has caused ice in the north and south poles to melt, resulting in rising sea water that has risen over part of the Antarctic land. Sea water, rather than land, is now below the ice. The land can maintain very low temperatures, but water is fluid and the temperature is much higher. This will accelerate the melting of ice in the Antarctica. When all of this ice has melted, the sea water would rise 69 to 80 feet. This will happen sooner or later.

People living in the most affluent nations have to bear the greatest responsibility for this crisis, while those who are the first to suffer are people from the poorest nations. Currently, even the most affluent nations are beginning to experience the problems caused by this climate catastrophe.

California is the place where immigrants aspire to go. It has a unique weather with warm winters and cool summers. It is also a productive agricultural region, with half of the U.S.’s agricultural products originating from there. However, four years of continuous drought has caused changes to the lives of the people there. There is severe water rationing, and agricultural production has decreased annually. The mountains in California do not have snow as this is the source of water for agricultural irrigation purposes. In recent years, the farmers have been relying on pumped groundwater, and wells have hit 800-1000 feet beneath the ground. Because of the excessive pumping of underground water, the ground in the main agricultural areas in central California has accelerated their sinking to about two inches every month, up from a few inches every year.

The north-western part of the U.S. used to be ecologically protected area, with cool temperature and adequate rainfall. Unexpectedly, the forest fires caused by the drought were the most serious in history. The fire gathered from different directions, resulting in heavy smog. Canada’s west coast also experienced the forest fire disaster, and, at one time, Vancouver was shrouded in smog caused by the forest fires.

There is a silver lining to this disaster. Last year, a Buddhist spiritual teacher in north-western U.S. commissioned and consecrated a large Amitabha Buddha stone statue in the woods of his retreat centre, and also initiated several celebrations and prayers related to Amitabha Buddha. He also commissioned and consecrated a Medicine Buddha statue in the woods of the retreat centre.

When the forest fires started spreading in all directions this year, many of the neighbouring houses were burnt except for the teacher’s residence—the fire just surrounded the teacher’s residence and stopped burning. More interestingly, the residences of the locals who had spent money or effort towards building the Amitabha Buddha statue were also spared from the fire. Is this a coincidence? If you see photos of the fire, you can only say: Amitabha Buddha!

What exactly is the problem with the earth’s climate? Is this damage to earth temporary or permanent? Just as I was thinking that we ought to understand this from all perspectives and write an introduction on this issue, I received a letter from the English portal of the Lapis Lazuli Light website. The sender of the letter was my former colleague, Dr. Betty Dabney, from 35 years ago. I immediately called her on the phone. She said she was looking for me for several months, and did not expect to contact me so quickly. She informed me about her work and its nature over the past 35 years, and mentioned that she was particularly concerned about the issues related to climate change and water scarcity. People living in Africa were already suffering from water scarcity, but they now have to walk even longer distances to find a few drops of water. On her own accord, she volunteered to write articles for Lapis Lazuli Light magazine. I immediately asked her to write about climate catastrophe, and in particular, ways to alleviate this problem. I did not set the usual word limit because of the importance and criticality of the issue.

“Final Autumn” is the article that all of us need to read. I was deeply touched after reading it, and also understood that it was providence that re-connected us after 35 years. The climate catastrophe is a major topic, and it is diffcult for lay people to understand it fully in a short time. Dr. Betty Dabney was able to synthesize and summarize her research findings and observations in the article, allowing us to easily understand its contents. Only when we understand the issue can we undertake some changes at the levels of the individual, group and society.

The article begins with a fictional story that describes the climate catastrophe that occurs 50 years in the future. In the story, all the snow and glaciers in the mountains in the world melted within a few days. Actually, this is already happening in California. In the world-famous Yosemite National Park, all the snow and glaciers in the year-long snow-covered Sierra Nevada melted. It normally snows in September, but this year(2015), there was no trace of snow. Professor Hubbard, who regularly hikes in the mountains in the area for over the past fifty years, walked 70 miles in the mountains this year but failed to see any snow or glacier. I specifically asked him to write about his observations about changes in the landscape over his five decades of mountaineering, and to remind us that snow is actually food from the farmland. I also requested the person in charge of Lapis Lazuli Light Malaysia to write about the impact of the climate catastrophe there.

In addition to exerting our own effort, we also have to pray to the heavens, perform more virtuous actions, maintain the eight precepts, as well as employ other methods to clear our negative karma and accumulate merits. On behalf of all life forms on earth, we have to accumulate merit and reduce the negative impact of this man-made calamity.

 

The original Chinese article was published in the November 2015 issue of Lapis magazine and is accessible online at http://www.lapislazuli.org/tw/index.php?p=20151101.html

 

 

Preventing and Reversing Tooth Decay as a Starting Point

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

There is a relationship between tooth decay and health. Our teeth reflect the health of our bodies; likewise, our dental treatment also affects our health. Currently, it appears that almost everyone has tooth decay. There is a high cost associated with dental treatment. Is tooth decay unavoidable, or is this because of changes in our eating habits, environment and the way we produce our food?

At the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. Weston Price, a renowned dentist found that after starting his dental practice in America, his business was simply too good as there were many people with dental problems. He wanted to find out if people from other parts of the world had similar problems, and he and his wife visited many places to find out the answer. He visited many remote and distant places including Africa, the Swiss Alps, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the Amazon rain forests in Peru etc. He found that, in places where there were no contact with modern civilization and people ate traditional food, there were almost no cases of tooth decay. Further, once these people started to adopt modern diet and eat processed food and sugar, tooth decay appeared. Their gum also narrowed, leaving insufficient space for their teeth to grow, which resulted in a narrowing of the lower third of their faces.

The biggest difference between traditional and modern food is that the former contain four times more minerals, especially phosphorus. More importantly, the quantity of oil-soluble vitamins such as A, D and K2 are ten times that found in modern food. At that time, Dr. Price did not know Vitamin K2 and called the nutrient X. It was not until 2007 that scientists confirmed that nutrient X is Vitamin K2. For example, almost no one living in a remote valley in the Swiss Alps had tooth decay but 85%-100% of those taking modern Swiss diets had this problem. The change in their diet was that food high in vitamin such as milk and cheese produced from grazing cows/goats were replaced by sugar, chocolate and jam. However, when Dr. Price provided those children who had tooth decay with highly nutritious meals daily, there was no further deterioration in their tooth decay, and their oral lactic acid bacteria (which cause tooth decay) also decreased 95% or even disappear. Amazingly, the teeth that had decayed began to harden and heal. To prevent tooth decay and rehabilitate our teeth, we need to eradicate factors that cause this decay and also increase our intake of oil-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, preferably directly from the food we eat.

What are the factors to take note? Blood sugar imbalances can cause the loss of calcium and phosphorus in bones and teeth. Thus, it is important to significantly reduce the intake of food that raises blood sugar, such as sweet fruit, those that have high fructose, glucose, or refined sugar content, as well as processed food. If tooth decay is already present, then it is best to completely avoid sweet fruits and food with sugar.

In addition, it is necessary to appropriately eat grains, especially those that contain wheat germ and bran. Wheat germ and bran contain germination inhibitor known as phytic acid (plant acid) as well as other components that interfere with the absorption of nutrients (such as minerals) by the body. In some early animal experiments, when the animals were fed with untreated grains such as oats, guinea pigs developed scurvy and dogs developed rickets. These problems went away once these animals had a change in diet and consumed oats that were first germinated and then fermented by soaking in water for two days. Phytase is needed to break down phytic acid. But if the grain has been heated, its phytase composition disappears. In this case, it is necessary to use water (with which other grains had been fermented) to soak the grain that is about to be consumed. Drain the water after soaking. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid, and its content varies with different types of grains. Those that have high phytase content include rye, wheat, buckwheat, barley; those with a moderate content include amaranth and quinoa; those with low content include mung beans, lentils, millet, peas, rice, corn, sorghum and oats.

Nuts, beans and seeds contain phytic acid. Before cooking them, it is best to soak grains 16-24 hours, allowing them to first germinate for a few days before soaking them again in water. For nuts, soak in water and allow them to germinate a little before using low heat to dry them. Alternatively, use slow fire to roast them as this can remove much of the phytic acid.

For oats, soak them for 24-48 hours in water with which other high phytase grains had been fermented. Drain the water. Oats sold in the market generally have been heated. To largely remove the phytic acid in brown rise, soak them for 16-24 hours. Retain 10 percent of the water to be used next time, and pour the rest away. The next time brown rice needs to be soaked, add in this water. When this is repeated after four times, 90% of the phytic acid in the brown rice will be removed after soaking. It is even better if the rice that had been soaked is further allowed to germinate.

If we normally eat a large quantity of grains containing wheat germs and bran along with various nuts, it is best to supplement our diet with Vitamins D and C from our food intake. The Synergy Company’s Bone Renewal product is beneficial to our teeth and bones as it has Vitamin D as well as Vitamin K and other minerals. Synergy’s Bliss Delight contains camu camu, which has high Vitamin C content. Lemons are rich sources of Vitamin C and enhance absorption of iron. Oil-soluble Vitamins A, D and K2 are also essential. Vitamins A and D promote the genetic production of two proteins: Osteocalcin which promotes the absorption of calcium by bones and teeth, and MGP (Matrixglaprotein) which removes vascular calcification. These two proteins require Vitamin K2 to be activated; otherwise, they do not serve any function. People nowadays are deficient in Vitamin K2 and therefore cannot appropriately absorb calcium. Modern day ailments are related to this aspect. Osteoporosis and hardening of the arteries arise because the associated proteins are not activated. Even diabetes in adults is related to a deficiency in Vitamin K2. Simply put, the lack of vitamin K2 is related to aging and agerelated ailments.

The following summarizes our current understanding of Vitamin K2:

  1. Aging: Vitamin K2 can prevent diseases caused by aging.
  2. Heart Disease: Adequate intake of Vitamin K2 can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and death.
    • Vitamin K2 can best prevent hardening of the arteries.
  3. Osteoporosis: Vitamin K2 is needed to activate Osteocalcin, an important bone protein that is needed to absorb calcium.
    • A deficiency increases the chance of bone fracture.
    • It can reduce menopausal osteoporosis.
  4. Dementia: Prevents radical (free radical) damage in the brain, and resistance to insulin.
  5. Wrinkles: A lack of Vitamin K2 makes the skin lose its elasticity.
  6. Varicose veins: Vitamin K2 activates MGP, which can remove vein calcification.
  7. Diabetes: Vitamin K2 activates Osteocalcin, which influences the body’s manufacture and responsiveness to insulin.
    • Vitamin K2 supplements can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
  8. Arthritis: Vitamin K2 prevents joint injuries from rheumatoid arthritis.
  9. Brain and nerve health: Vitamin K2 protects brain cells from hypoxic brain damage such as stroke and injury at birth, and helps spinal cord growth. It has been proven to reduce multiple sclerosis deterioration in animal studies.
  10. Cancer: People with high Vitamin K2 lower their propensity to get lung and prostate cancer.
    • Prevents the formation of prostate cancer.
    • Causes cancer normalization.
  11. Kidney disease: A deficiency in Vitamin K2 leads patients with kidney disease to develop hardening of the arteries.
  12. Fertility: Osteocalcin, which relies on the presence of K2 to function, affects the production of testosterone ketone, as well as the production of sperms and their survival.
    • A deficiency in oil-soluble vitamins lengthens delivery time, and increases the risk of caesarean section.
  13. Fetal and child health: Vitamin K2 is critical to facial and gum development, along with the formation of a normal tooth structure. Vitamin K2 is especially important for the bones to grow well during the period of rapid growth (e.g., puberty).
  14. Teeth: Osteocalcin prevents tooth decay and aids in the restoration of decayed teeth, as well as reduces saliva bacteria that cause tooth decay.
  15. Why did scientists discover Vitamin K2 so much later, while Weston Price had long known about this new vitamin? One reason is the confusion between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2, even though the nature and food source of food between these two vitamins are different. Vitamin K1 has a role in enabling blood clotting, and its main source is green plants. A deficiency in Vitamin K1 leads to non-stop bleeding. Since its function is very important, the body tries to retain it so there are few cases of deficiency in this vitamin. The main source of Vitamin K2 is oil-soluble fat, especially cream obtained from grazing cows and goat. In particular, cream from cows/goats that eat rapidly growing grass in the spring time is especially good. Eggs from chicken and ducks that feed on grass also contain Vitamin K2. The variety of cheese that Europeans and Americans eat also contains Vitamin K2. But the best source is Japanese natto, which contains a higher Vitamin K2 than any other product. In Japan, the probability of fracture is lower in regions where people eat more natto versus those where they do not eat natto.

Herbivorous animals and ethnic groups where people traditionally eat a lot of greens can easily convert Vitamin K1 to Vitamin K2. The key point is that the amount must be sufficient. As soon as blenders became available in the 1930s, a naturopathic doctor began to advocate the addition of green juice (energy soup) to the diet of a family whom he had taken care of for three generations. The family ate raw food, and their diet before then comprised largely fruits and nuts, with little greens. Before that, they had a lot of teeth and bones problems, but once they supplemented their diet with green juices, their bones and teeth became healthy. Children who were born later no longer had these teeth and bone problems. Green plants are sources of carotene and Vitamin K1. It is clear from this case that carotene converted to vitamin A, and Vitamin K1 converted to Vitamin K2. There was also a vegetarian who shared her experience. People who had tooth decay originally rarely developed this problem once they added energy soup and green juices to their diets.

I remember that after I started taking Pure Synergy (green powder developed by Dr. Mitchell May similar to Bliss Delight), my nails clearly became harder after three months.

To prevent tooth decay, it is best to start from the womb. Both baby teeth and permanent teeth are formed in the womb. The mother should take special care to have an adequate intake of Vitamins A, D and K2. A balanced diet combined with green juice and sprouts etc. is important. Dr. Ann Wigmore’s energy soup has green plants and sprouts as the main ingredients, with the addition of some fruits to improve the taste. She has also added some sprouted seeds and seaweeds to the recipe. One can also drink horsetail tea, a rich source of silicon that helps the absorption of calcium. There was a 70-year-old woman who drank horsetail tea (cooked 10 minutes or more) daily. A few months later when she went back to the dentist, some of the original small cavities had been healed. It is possible to add some horsetail grass when one cooks porridge.

Sunlight is the most important source of Vitamin D, especially sunlight during spring and summer. Before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. are good times to sunbathe a little, but this needs to be gradually increased. Begin by tanning the back of the feet for five minutes, followed by the calf on the second day. Slowly extend to the whole body but no more than 30 minutes. People who live in sunny areas are less likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. Some daily sunbathing may still be necessary for many people who leave the house early and return late, working under fluorescent light and facing the computer all day.

The following contains some suggestions on how to clean our teeth:

  • When our diet is balanced in acidity/alkalinity, our saliva is weakly alkaline, which helps in the healing and repair of our teeth. Hence, it is best to not take snacks outside our three regular meals.
  • Other than brushing our teeth in the morning and evening, rinsing our mouth or flossing our teeth is sufficient after taking other meals. Excessive brushing can harm the teeth’s enamel, especially right after eating acidic foods when the enamel softens. It is best to wait 30 minutes to 60 minutes before brushing, and to use a very soft toothbrush.
  • To prepare mouthwash, mix two parts baking soda with one part salt, using a ratio of one small teaspoon to one glass of water. You can add some essential oil for the mouthwash (see note) as this can help remove bacteria. Its constituents are two kinds of oil: peppermint essential oil and almond oil.

If you eat sweet dried fruits and raisins, it is necessary to rinse the mouth and brush your teeth as these easily stick to your teeth.

References:

  1. Price, Weston, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 8th ed., Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 2008
  2. Rheaume-Bleue, Kate, VitaminK2 and the calcium paradox, Harper Collins, 2012
  3. Greensmoothie.com

Note: See item 8 on page 44 of the May 2015 volume of the Taiwanese Lapis Lazuli Light magazine.

The original Chinese article is published in the May 2015 issue of Lapis Lazuli Light magazine and is accessible online at: http://www.lapislazuli.org/tw/index.php?p=20150501.html

Love Your Dream, Change Your Life

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

An Indian student of a Himalayan High Lama asked how he could change the sufferings and many misfortunes which have happened to his family for many generations.

His ancestor – the father of his paternal grandmother and some villagers had harmed a Tibetan monk on his pilgrimage to India. When the monk passed through their village on his way home, they robbed him of his money and possessions and forced him to jump into the river to his death. Subsequently a series of misfortune befell the student’s clan which continues to this (student) generation.

Ingrained in ancient Chinese culture is the understanding that the actions of ancestors affect their future generations. As recorded in I Ching: “families who perform good deeds will enjoy good fortune” [Lai, 1987]. Future generations will benefit from the virtue and merits accumulated by their ancestors.

In his book The Key to Creating One’s Destiny (The Four Lessons of Liao-Fan) [Translator’s Note I], Mr Yuan Liao-Fan of the Ming Dynasty, mentioned many historical facts of people and events. Many of the descendants of ancestors who had done a lot of good deeds tend to have great accomplishments. Mr Lin Zexu (Wenzonggong) from the Qing Dynasty could have made a fortune from opium, but his integrity and stand against the opium trade cost him his job. However, in each of his generation, there were outstanding descendants, among which, scholars who had attained the titles of Jinshi (metropolitan graduate) and Juren (provincial graduate) [Translator’s Note II]. Families that amassed their wealth through opium trade lost their fortunes after a few decades and none of their descendants were well-known.

Mr Nie Yun-Tai, who wrote Bǎofù fǎ “How to Preserve Your Wealth”, mentioned that many rich families in recent times were unable to preserve their wealth. Some families lost their fortune within five to ten years. Some squandered their wealth within two to three decades, others in forty or fifty years. Among the affluent families from 50 years ago, it is extremely rare to have one or two families out of a hundred that still preserve their fortune, have good descendants who are scholarly, hold proper jobs and have desire to better themselves.

Descendants should also help their ancestors clear their bad karma and accumulate merits. Who could guarantee that none of their ancestors have ever committed murder, robbed, stole, being corrupted, destroyed temples, and/or forced monks to disrobe? The method taught by this Nepalese High Lama can be applied by everyone, especially for families with many misfortunes and disasters or have unscrupulous descendants.

It is our duty to not only help eliminate our family disasters, but also to help our countries and planet to ward off calamities. Whether it is natural or man-made disasters, love is the most powerful healing force.

Many years ago, a teacher from the United States regularly brought over twenty of his more experienced students to places around the world that suffered from natural disasters. For twenty-four hours a day, they would take turn to send love to the locals and bless the place and people. Each time, there were very good outcomes. Once he went to a politically unstable South American country. Together with his students, they continually sent love. In his public talks, he advised the local people that if they wanted to change the government, they must genuinely love their people, land and the government. Within two years, amazingly, the political situation improved.

Not only can major situation changes, things in daily life in general can also be different. Perhaps it is because many people grow up with overly high expectations from their parents. Children might have received many criticisms, and thus they habitually criticize other people and things that they dislike. But criticisms only make things worse.

I had a colleague who had nose cancer, which was later removed. Since young, she felt that her nose was too flat and never appreciated her nose. It is unbelievable that prolonged criticism would lead to cancer.

To change reality, one can start by changing dreams. Stanford University had a Dream Research Lab. They trained volunteers to be aware when they were dreaming. Perhaps, before going to bed, one could repeatedly remind oneself, “I am dreaming”, and then go to sleep. During the day, from time to time, one could also pat and remind oneself that “I’m dreaming”. So, in the dream, one would also involuntarily remind oneself, “I’m dreaming”. Once the volunteers were aware that they were dreaming, they could use left and right movements of eyeballs to communicate with the researchers and start performing pre-arranged activities such as singing, counting, running, reciting poetry and so on. The brains and hearts of the dreamers were hooked to various monitoring devices. The impacts of the activities in the dreams were found to be similar on the brains and bodies as when they were performed awake. Singing and poetry reciting show right-brain activities, and counting or arithmetic indicate left-brain activities. When the dreamer ran in the dream, the heart rate would accelerate.

Some who had nightmares for years, once they realised that they were dreaming, they effectively improve the dream and their nightmares stopped.

One lady dreamt for years that something was chasing after her from behind. Once she learned how to be aware when she was dreaming, she turned her head around and found that there was nothing behind her. Another person saw a very gruesome face in his dream. He did not respond with his usual fear, but rather treated it with love. As a result, the hideous face kept altering and changed into a very gentle face.

Our dreams reflect our deeply stored consciousness. Hidden emotions and negative emotions that have not been alleviated would appear in our dreams. So dreams can more realistically reflect our inner world. This inner world also projects onto our feelings and experience while we are awake. Whether it is what we went through during the day or the experience in our dream, they all originate from us.

The external world is like a mirror. When we face the mirror and smile to the person in the mirror, the reflection from the mirror also smiles back. If we glare at the mirror, the person in the mirror similarly glowers at us. We would not be angry with the person in the mirror nor would we be stubbornly yearn for the person in the mirror.

However, in daily life, we crave for or get disgusted with the images projected by the external mirror. If we want the person in the mirror or in the dream to treat us with warmth, we must love the person in the mirror or the person in our dream.

Those who have experienced love since young, no matter if the love came from their parents or caregivers, it is easier for them to receive and give love. Such a person would be happier. On the contrary, if the parents did not experience love in their childhood, they would not be able to give love to their own children. These people are filled with loneliness and are not happy. In a culture with strict discipline, most people do not experience warmth and are not happy. People from such culture may also easily do violence onto others.

Everyone pursues happiness and joy. You can start from yourself. Smile at the mirror when you look into it. Appreciate and bless the person in the mirror. Love and care and help this person in the mirror. Be aware what the mirror can reflect onto you. Your transformation will also transform the person in the mirror. Gradually, the big mirror of society will also start to transform. When every person looks into the mirror and smile with care and warmth, that is a blissful and happy society.

I once read a parable: God led a man to visit Hell. He saw a dining table surrounded by people with sad faces. On the table were many plates filled with delicious foods. In front of everyone were spoons with very long handles.

The length of the handles was as long as the table. Then God said, “Let me show you Heaven”. The scenario was similar to the previous room. A table was surrounded by people, but everyone was smiling, happily enjoying the food on the table. The difference is that these people were feeding each other across the table with the long spoons. Although this is a metaphor, it portrays the difference between a painful and a happy society.

Translator’s Note I: The Key to Creating One’s Destiny (The Four Lessons of Liao-Fan) is translated from Chinese Version by Dr Chiu-Nan Lai.

Translator’s Note II: These are different levels of academic achievements in ancient China which ultimately qualify the scholars to attend Chinese Imperial Exam held by the emperor.

The original Chinese article is published in the Aug 2015 issue of Lapis Lazuli Light magazine and is accessible online at: http://www.lapislazuli.org/tw/index.php?p=20150801.html