Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Brain That Changes Itself: was written by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D. The Brain That Changes Itself features studies of several patients suffering from neurological disorders and details how the brain adapts to compensate for their disabilities. Interviews with the patients and doctors account for a large portion of the contents.
Doidge uses examples of previous work carried out by neuroscientists such as Paul Broca and Paul Bach-y-Rita to show that the brain is adaptive, and thus plastic. Through the case studies, Doidge demonstrates both the beneficial and detrimental effects that neuroplasticity can have on a patient, saying, “Neuroplasticity contributes to both the constrained and unconstrained aspects of our nature,” however “it renders our brains not only more resourceful, but also more vulnerable to outside influences.”

The Brain that Changes Itself is also an interesting CBC documentary, based on the best-selling book by Toronto psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Norman Doidge. Some of the cases that we get to know while watching CBC videos below are:

– Roger Behm, a blind man who is now able to see via his tongue (and can throw a basketball into a garbage can to prove it).
– Cheryl Schiltz, who was written-off by doctors when she lost her sense of balance due to a drug’s side effect. Once sentenced to a lifetime of wobbling, her brain rewired itself through a seemingly simple therapy, and has now regained her balance and returned to a normal life.
– Michelle Mack, one of the greatest examples of the brain’s ability to adapt: she was born, literally, with just half of her brain.
– Michael Bernstein, who suffered a debilitating stroke in the prime of his life, paralyzing the left side of his body. He’s now back to his former life, as his brain functions have been rerouted and re-invigorated.

The Brain That Changes Itself – CBC Documentary Part 1

The Brain That Changes Itself – CBC Documentary Part 2

The Brain That Changes Itself – CBC Documentary Part 3

The Brain That Changes Itself – CBC Documentary Part 4

As announced on Changing Your Mind (premiered Thursday September 30 at 8 pm on CBC-TV & Thursday October 14 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network) follows last season’s eye-opening documentary The Brain That Changes Itself (based on the best-selling book by Toronto psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Norman Doidge). Once again, Dr. Doidge takes us through some very compelling neurological cases to illustrate how the changing brain plays an important role in treating mental diseases and disorders.

In Changing Your Mind, we explore the latest research that is offering hope to those suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and even schizophrenia.

For centuries the human adult brain has been thought to be incapable of fundamental change. Now the discovery and growing awareness of neuroplasticity has revolutionized our understanding of the brain – and has opened the door to new treatments and potential cures for many diseases and disorders once thought incurable.

Neuroscience is past viewing the human brain as a machine, as it once did, where, if one part breaks down or doesn’t work properly, the function it performed is permanently gone, in all cases. Indeed, in just the past few years, we’ve built on our knowledge that our brains are constantly changing their structure and function and that the adult brain is not “hard-wired” but plastic – always changing. It applies even in old age – a particularly hopeful note for an aging population like ours.

Take your time

September 28, 2010

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

We gladly share this review of “Islam and Tibet : Interactions along the Musk Routes” edited by Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim. Ashgate, 2010

The first encounters between the Islamic world and Tibet took place in the course of the expansion of the Abbasid Empire in the eighth century. Military and political contacts went along with an increasing interest in the other side. Cultural exchanges and the transmission of knowledge were facilitated by a trading network, with musk constituting one of the main trading goods from the Himalayas, largely through India. From the thirteenth century onwards the spread of the Mongol Empire from the Western borders of Europe through Central Asia to China facilitated further exchanges. The significance of these interactions has been long ignored in scholarship.

This volume represents a major contribution to the subject, bringing together new studies by an interdisciplinary group of international scholars. They explore for the first time the multi-layered contacts between the Islamic world, Central Asia and the Himalayas from the eighth century until the present day in a variety of fields, including geography, cartography, art history, history of science and education, literature, hagiography, archaeology, and anthropology.


1) ‘Islam and Tibet : Cultural Interactions – An Introduction’ Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim

2) ‘Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography’ Anna Akasoy

3) ‘The Bactrian Background of the Barmakids’ Kevin van Bladel

4) ‘Iran to Tibet’ Asadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani

5) ‘Greek and Islamic Medicines: Historical Contact with Tibet’ Dan Martin

6) ‘Tibetan Musk and Medieval Arab Perfumery’ Anya King

7) ‘The Sarvastivadin Buddhist Scholastic Method in Medieval Islam and Tibet’ Christopher Beckwith

8) ‘Notes on the Religions in the Mongol Empire’ Peter Zieme

9) ‘Tibetans, Mongols and the Fusion of Eurasian Cultures’ Paul Buell

10) ‘Three Rock-Cut Cave Sites in Iran and their Ilkhanid Buddhist Aspects Reconsidered’ Arezou Azad

11) ‘The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchanges in Baltistan and Ladakh’ Georgios Halkias

12) ‘Portuguese Missionaries and their First Encounter with Muslims in Tibet ’ Marc Gaborieau

13) ‘So close to Samarkand, Lhasa: Sufi Hagiographies, Founder Myths and Sacred Space in Tibetan Islam’ Alexandre Papas

14) ‘Between Legend and Reality: about the ‘Conversion’ to Islam of Two Prominent Lamaists in the 17th-18th Centuries’ Thierry Zarcone

15) ‘Ritual Theory across the Buddhist-Muslim Divide in Late Imperial China ’ Johan Elverskog

16) ‘Trader, Middleman or Spy? The Dilemmas of a Kashmiri Muslim in Early Nineteenth-Century Tibet’ John Bray

17) ‘Do all the Muslims of Tibet belong to the Hui Nationality?’ Diana Altner

18) ‘Greater Ladakh and the Mobilization of Tradition in the Contemporary Baltistan Movement’ Jan Magnusson

Happiness is contagious

September 27, 2010

Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.


September 26, 2010

Linji is famous for his then unconvential awakening. His methods included shouting and striking, most often using the fly-whisk that was considered a symbol of a Chán master’s authority: “The Master saw a monk coming and held his fly whisk straight up. The monk made a low bow, whereupon the Master struck him a blow. The Master saw another monk coming and again held his fly whisk straight up. The monk paid no attention, whereupon the Master struck him a blow as well.”

With its ups and downs, and breakage within the school of adherents claiming direct lineage (from this or that master) to start a new movement, Chan spread to Korea, thanks to Korean practitioners like Kim Kiaokak (630–729) and Beomnang (632-646), who went to China.

Dr. Robert Florida will be giving a lecture titled “Buddhist Hospice Care in Thailand: A Response to the AIDS Crisis” on Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 4:00 pm at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, at the Social Sciences and Math Building, Room A104.

Dr. Robert Florida has been a fellow of CSRS since retiring from Brandon University as dean of arts and professor in the Department of Religion. His major area of research is contemporary ethical issues in Buddhism. He has written a book on Buddhism and human rights as well as a number of articles and chapters on Buddhist approaches to various ethical issues.

Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, has been relatively successful in dealing with its AIDS crisis. Several Buddhist monasteries established programs for AIDS patients and their families; one of these has the largest hospice in the country. The lecture will cover the principles and practices found in Thai Buddhist hospices and will note some significant differences between what is done there and in Western countries. The talk will be illustrated with material gathered in Thailand, some of which will be in the forthcoming CSRS book Religious Understandings of a “Good Death” in Hospice Palliative Care, edited by Drs. Harold Coward and Kelli Stajduhar.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

The Venus Project Lecture Tour will stop in Vancouver on Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM.

This event is organised by The Zeitgeist Movement Collective Vancouver, a local chapter for the Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project. In their own words: “Adhering to the principles of human birth-rights, we are moving strongly towards a more peaceful way of life. This is referred to as the Resource-Based Economy as proposed by Jacque Fresco, creator of The Venus Project. Looking towards human betterment is what the movement is all about. As the Vancouver chapter, we hope you will join us in the movement and be the change you want to see in the world”.

More information and tickets are available on:

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