Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Tapping Talent, Experience Of Those Age 60-Plus

New Prize to EncourageUse of Skills, Knowledge In Social Entrepreneurship

By KELLY GREENE Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNALNovember 29, 2005; Page B12

With only three employees and a $175,000 annual budget, the International Senior Lawyers Project, a nonprofit group that matches experienced U.S. attorneys with needs in developing countries, has dispatched 200 U.S. lawyers across the world in the past four years.

They have helped an Indian human-rights law network litigate domestic violence and disability cases. In South Africa, they are teaching black attorneys how to practice business law. And in Bulgaria, they are bolstering public defenders.

"The needs to be filled have been much more than we contemplated," says Anthony Essaye, a 71-year-old retired international lawyer in Washington, who is the group's co-president. "With more funding, we could do a lot more."

It's a common frustration among older businesspeople, professionals and entrepreneurs who want to use their talents, knowledge and experience for the social good, says Marc Freedman, president of Civic Ventures, a San Francisco nonprofit that seeks to tap that energy. Philanthropists and venture capitalists alike are used to pouring their dollars into young start-ups with young leaders.

In a bid to change that thinking, Civic Ventures is launching a program centered on what it calls the "Purpose Prize," akin to the MacArthur "genius" awards. Starting in June, the organization will award $100,000 each to five "social entrepreneurs," individuals age 60 or older who are trying to improve their communities through their work. Civic Ventures will start taking applications Thursday; nominations can be submitted at
The money comes from $9 million donated by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation for the prize's first three years.

At the same time, Civic Ventures is negotiating with several business schools to help the competition's 15 to 20 finalists develop their business plans. It also plans a larger networking conference for its 60 semifinalists, to help them share ways to deal with obstacles they encounter.

The annual awards will provide a boost to a handful of social entrepreneurs, but Civic Ventures' larger aim is to highlight the growing prevalence of innovation and altruism among older people. In a survey of 1,000 adults age 50 to 70 that the group commissioned last spring, nearly three in five adults in their 50s said that they want to use the next stage of their lives to improve the quality of life in their communities.

The oldest of the country's 76 million baby boomers start turning 60 in a month. They are arguably the healthiest, best-educated population of Americans ever to reach that milestone. Civic Ventures describes them as "pioneers" in a new stage between middle and late life, neither young nor old.

"We've already invested so much in their education and development -- we couldn't build higher-ed institutions fast enough when they were starting out in the '60s," Mr. Freedman says. "Why write all that talent off prematurely?"

Jack McConnell, a retired doctor in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is finding just how difficult the search for funding can be -- even with a stellar track record. In 1993, he recruited 55 retired doctors and opened a clinic on the island for people who couldn't afford medical care. As part of that effort, he had to get a state law changed that would have required doctors licensed elsewhere to get re-tested in South Carolina, and he had to whittle malpractice insurance premiums, partly by getting the clinic staff covered under a "good Samaritan" law.

Dr. McConnell estimates that two-thirds of the country's 160,000 retired doctors would come out of retirement to work free of charge. "The retirees could provide much, if not most, of the care for the uninsured in America if they were properly organized," he says.

Although the Purpose Prize is focused on social entrepreneurs, the awards won't be limited to nonprofit enterprises that require grants and donations to survive. Mr. Freedman offers the actor Paul Newman as an example of a social entrepreneur with a self-sustaining enterprise. Mr. Newman has donated $175 million made from his Newman's Own Inc. products to hundreds of charities.

Another celebrity example: Lee Iacocca's post-Chrysler work developing electric bicycles as a way to cut emissions and take better care of the environment.

"Our hope is that more people will realize that you don't have to be a celebrity to think big and in an entrepreneurial way about social contribution after midlife," Mr. Freedman says. In the for-profit arena, candidates may be doing micro-lending in low-income areas, or have found a way to make essential health-care products such as hearing aids available to people with low incomes. "We're less interested in the means than in the ends and the aspirations," he says.

So far, the award jury includes Sherry Lansing, former chairman of Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures' Motion Picture Group, and Harris Wofford, who has served as a U.S. senator, president of Bryn Mawr College, and chief executive of the Corporation of National and Community Service. Civic Ventures expects to name additional members by year end.

Write to Kelly Greene at

Friday, November 25, 2005


What is new about the New Buddhism of America? Five things: It is meditation-centered and largely a lay phenomena. It exhibits gender parity. And it is cross- pollinating. It is socially and politically engaged.

In their book, "Buddhism" A Concise Introduction, Huston Smith and Philip Novak also confirm that the New Buddhism is :

1. 2 Meditation centred and a lay phenomenon, and must be considered together. "Down through twenty-five Asian Buddhist centuries, monks and nuns have been the tradition's vanguard, and meditation has been almost exclusively their province (and often only for an elite fraction of them). The vast majority of Buddhist laity have limited their concerns to the earning of merit--the accumulation of good karma leading to better rebirth through ethical conduct and ritual observance. The New Buddhism of America, however, has upset this traditional arrangement. First, it is largely a lay movement. And second, meditiation is not the province of a relatively few specialists, but the basic practice of the many."

A recent sociological study finds that among American Buddhists, 92.4 percent ranked meditation as the single most important activity that their group carries on' and the study's author says, "If there is a single characteristic that defines the new Buddhism for most of it's members, it is the practice of meditation." Over the first sixty years of the twentieth century, 21 Buddhist meditation centres had been founded. Between 1964 and 1975, 117 new centres were established. Between1975 and 1984, 308 more were added. And between1985 and 1997, 608 new meditation centers entered the picture, more than doubling the number that had been in existence until then and bringing the American total to well over 1,000. The New Buddhism of America has therefore given us something we've never seen before: a Buddhism that is predominantly lay and meditation-centered.

3. Women and Men are equals. Although America's New Buddhism cannot be said to have broken completely with the legacies of gender inequality in Asian culture and Buddhist history, Western society's trend toward gender parity is departing from that legacy.

Sociologist James Coleman reports:

Although virtually all Asian and a majority of Western teachers are male, there are a growing number of women in top positions of respect and authority. Today, no one is surprised to see women leading retreats, giving dharma talks, or running major Buddhist centers. On a more theoretical level, no matter who occupies those positions of power, nearly all Western Buddhist groups recognize the full equality of the sexes and the ablility of all persons of either gender to realize their true nature and attain enlightenment.

4. American Buddhism is cross-pollinating. The historian Rick Fields notes that" Asian Buddhists who have not communicated for hundreds or thousands of years now find themselves sitting next to one another in a new (American) home. Never before in the long history of Buddhism have all of its major traditions entered a new area at the same time, and never before has there been so much content and exchange among these different traditions."

5. It is socially and poliitically engaged. The last element of the New Buddhism is a little different from the others. It is not as broadly characteristic of the whole fabric as are the other four, and to date it remains an eddy in the larger steam. Still, it is so important that at least one scholar has wondered whether it will become Buddhism's fourth yana or vehicle.

Like minded New Buddhists argue that working toward individual inner peace is not enough. What is also deeply needed is a corresponding effort to alter social injustices in order to lessen the suffering of humanity at large. It's called engaged Buddhism.

Buddha says; "Loss of minfulness is why people engage in useless pursuits, do not care for their own interests and remain unalarmed in the presence of things which actually menace their welfare".

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The fusion of one’s personal vision with one’s professional mission. Zentreprenuerism is surfacing across a wide spectrum of successful purposeful businesses, and will continue to have a far-reaching political, social and economic impact in our New Economy. Experts say this may well be the new-millennium model for North American business. Who said capitalism and social service make poor bedfellows?

This Introductory Seminar series is for anyone in Business who would like to add Value, a new sense of Purpose, and who wants to succeed by doing Good. At completion you will have developed an enlightened model to build or enhance your existing business.

Facilitated by Executive Mentor, Allan Holender, author of “Buddha in the Board Room”. Four weekly sessions, beginning Thursday January 12th 8:00-10:30 a.m. Limited to first 35 registrants. $100 includes all sessions, coffee & muffins. Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace, 1825 W. 16th (at Burrard) Vancouver. Free Parking. To register call (604) 684-9224 or e-mail VISA/MC


For two years Yves Farges and I exchanged e-mails but never met. He was traveling extensively and was unable to accept my invitation to join a Mastermind group of fellow CEO’s. When he received the press release announcing my “Buddha in the Board Room” book project, he was so pleased to have someone articulate what he himself had begun already to experience on his own life’s journey. At that point he felt compelled to write me.

We met for the first time last month, and here is his story:

It’s not unusual for people who grow up in a business family, to take it for granted that that is what they’ll be doing. Farm-Net Importers was founded by his parents in 1957. He bought it from his parents in 1999. He didn’t like working in a lab after University, so he worked for his Dad and enjoyed meeting people, but he went through a lot of introspection for two years before deciding what he really wanted to do.

He thought what if I start and then I fail. So he decided to start without any expectation of the outcome. He started in 1984 in a basement in Toronto with 10 boxes of fine foods and a good suit. That’s where his entrepreneurial journey began, slowly but methodically, much like his cooking style. He would hire sales people by asking them “THE” question, would you rather be the eggs or the bacon? You really would rather be the bacon, he told them, if you are going to succeed, because the chicken only participates, but the pig is committed.

He went on his own personal pilgrimage and gave up television, because he said he had better things to do. “Work becomes a pleasure, he says, and if you’ve got a message and a philosophy, then you’re really not doing it for the money.” A wise old grandmother with a young soul told him; “If you pursue money, it runs away from you, if you ignore it, it runs towards you.” The only way you can become prosperous is to understand money, use money as a tool and as a current. He owns three companies and all the profit is poured back into the company. When he first started he got a basement apt. next door to his warehouse and put on his suit and went door to door on Bay Street in Toronto.

Yves got that very important first customer and went from total obscurity to provincial obscurity, meaning, he became successful in Toronto, however, nobody knew of him outside the province of Ontario. He claims that it takes more energy to sell on quality rather than price.

There is however, now an awakening in North America, he says, to food, people are getting more connected to what they eat. They are recognizing spiritual values inherent in the food they eat. People eat a chocolate bar and they are getting a sugar rush, that’s it! Nowadays they are looking at fine food as enhancing their life, you are feeding parts of you that aren’t physical. Cooking for friends and family is a real joy for Yves, and he does it on a higher plane. We are filling a spiritual need to make it richer. Eating therefore becomes a “religious experience.”

Enjoy competition, he says, because when you win, you learn! That’s why he enjoys chess. As you get better and as time passes, the nature of life becomes richer and thus it allows you to enjoy it more thus experiencing it more, the experience side of life is important for growth.

He attributes the success of his enlightened journey to “Hidden Companions”. Many people he says are doing good for the wrong reason, but as you progress along the path, you realize that intellectual giving can become more elegant and much more satisfying than blowing your own horn. His first charitable gift was to the Jerry Lewis telethon in his early teens, but he asked himself the question, what did I really do here? It was a good thing to do, but is that all there is?

The act of giving is a complex equation, he says; “I think it’s very important to broaden the category of giving to include non monetary giving. When you see a car broken down on the side of the road and you stop and ask them do you need some help, that’s giving, and It’s good to do a little of that because it elevates you.” It means that your life has a little more meaning and purpose.

You realize that while you are on this enlightened path, you have an opportunity, for people that can truly give, those opportunities appear out of thin air, because those hidden companions appear out of thin air. I asked him if he felt that somehow we are all connected in this universe to all those hidden companions and whether he believes in “purposeful alignment”. Yes, he says we are all connected. “We are all parts of that web and we are all visual creatures. We are all connected through our sincerity and inter-personal relationships.” On a business note, he believes that if the marketplace is crowded there’s always room for one more, but if you only have one or two competitors you are in for the fight of your life. Yves is 47 years old and his basic premise of life has been to achieve a state of grace, and by that he means, be open and enthusiastic and enjoy what you are doing.

Small business, he says starts off as a solitary path, and becomes much more personal than the corporate world.

“You start being about your team, about your customers, about growing, and about succeeding because your concept is good. The hours are long but because the business path is a chosen personal path, it does not matter.

So, am I saying that starting a small business is like a walk in the park? Almost. It is hard, incredibly hard, yet thousands of people embark on this journey and start a small business every year. Most fail because it is not a walk in the park, but rather a pilgrimage.

You embark on a personal pilgrimage to enlighten the business world that your idea works and should succeed. You work to bend decisions in your favor so your small business and the people that work within it flourish.

You give up many things because small business requires man's ultimate capital: time.

Television lost much of its appeal to me when I launched my first small company because it was much more fun tackling the challenges that business throws your way on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Your friends start to emerge out of the mass of customers you interact with as business becomes truly a seamless part of your life. Work is part of you on this level and satisfaction is a job well done no matter what the task is.

On this path you have company. You have your team, the people you work with. You have the customers that depend on you. You have your suppliers that value your contribution to their pilgrimage. This is quite a crowd on what many believe to be a solitary endeavor, but the reality is that you are leading many.

You also have 'hidden companions' on your business journey, and these are the good acts that will benefit from your positive intervention. When early in my business I gave product away to help out a reception for a Woman's Shelter in Toronto, it was the right thing to do and involved a customer, so the action fit. I did not do it to get more business; I did it because it was a good act. I was surprised when new business appeared out of thin air because of that reception. Product for a silent auction, free product to a young film producer that is tied to a microscopic budget, the list is thankfully long. Your hidden companions will benefit you and your actions and improve the world.”

“So business is a path, crowded with friends, and paved with ethical stones.”

Buddha says; “Hidden in the mystery of consciousness, the mind, incorporeal, flies alone far away. Those who set their mind on harmony become free from the bonds of death.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Sharon Kirkey
CanWest News Service
Monday, November 14, 2005

People who meditate have thicker brains, according to scientists who believe they have found the first structural evidence the popular mental exercise may increase grey matter.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, Boston researchers found that parts of the brain important for attention and sensory processing, meaning how we take in and make sense of things, were thicker in meditators.

While all were extensively experienced in Buddhist Insight meditation, "these are normal people with jobs and families" who meditated, on average, 40 minutes per day, said Dr. Jeremy Gray, assistant professor of psychology at Yale University and co-author of the study. "You don't have to be a monk to see these changes in the actual structure of the brain."

The sample size was small, just 35 people. So were the differences in brain thickness.
"It's not like they grew a new chunk of the brain," Gray said. "These were not huge differences but they were statistically significant. The exciting part was that there was any difference at all."

Supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the MIND Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research is published in the journal, NeuroReport. It was presented Sunday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C.

Earlier research has found Transcendental Meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and hardening of the arteries. A study published in May in the American Journal of Cardiology found Transcendental Meditation reduces death rates by 23 per cent.

People who meditate report less stress, and scientists have linked long-term stress to shrinking of the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. By contrast, meditation might promote brain "plasticity" -- meaning its ability to be moulded or shaped. Studies, mostly in Buddhist monks, have found meditation changes brain activity as measured by an EEG.
The Boston scientists hypothesized that it might change the brain's actual physical structure, too.

Led by Dr. Sara Lazar, of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, the researchers measured cortical thickness in 20 people trained in Buddhist Insight meditation, a popular form of the mental exercise that doesn't use mantra or chanting, but rather focuses on "mindfulness", being aware of sensations, feelings and state of mind.
The average age was 38 and people had, on average, nine years of meditation experience. Two were full-time mediation teachers.

They were matched by age, gender and education to 15 people who had never meditated or done yoga. MRI studies found parts of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, were thicker in those who meditated.

Buddha says; "A mind which is not protected by mindfulness is as helpless as a blind man walking over uneven ground without a guide."



Published: November 14, 2005, New York Times

THERE are no grizzly bears in Memphis, but there are Grizzlies, a National Basketball Association team that moved from Vancouver four years ago in search of a hoops-crazy city. Besides a more devoted fan base, the city of ribs and Elvis appealed to the team's owners because it offered prime opportunities to indulge one of their off-court passions - major charitable contributions.

"The whole idea of having an N.B.A. or N.F.L. franchise is so you're able to greatly increase the impact of what you do," said Michael Heisley, the principal owner, a Chicago businessman who enlisted several prominent Memphians as investors and philanthropic mentors.

In those four years, the team has risen from a doormat to a playoff-level franchise on the court. And like 25 of the other 29 franchises in the N.B.A., the Grizzlies have a foundation that contributes to local causes. But the team is not just another team when it comes to philanthropy. The league said that the Grizzlies are firmly in the upper echelon. Through the foundation and other vehicles, the Grizzlies have raised more than $17 million in donations and pledges.

"The Grizzlies are at the center of what we do," said David Stern, the league's commissioner, who last month announced a $100 million leaguewide charitable initiative called N.B.A. Cares. "Many teams do what they do, but they're very focused. But there's a story like theirs in every city."

The most visible symbols of the Grizzlies' giving stand blocks apart downtown: the Grizzlies Academy, a public high school for teenagers who are two years behind grade level, and Grizzlies House, a short-term family residence on the campus of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The team's foundation has committed $1.5 million over four years to the school, which enables it to increase spending an extra $3,000 per student - for a social worker, overtime for tutoring, dinners twice a week and a summer camp orientation - beyond the $7,000 at other high schools. There are 72 students in the school, now in its third year.

"There's an educational crisis in Memphis, with a high dropout rate in the public schools," said Andy Dolich, the team's president of business operations. "We can't wave a magic wand, but we can help."Jane Walters, the school's principal, a former Tennessee commissioner of education, said the Grizzlies' help relieves her of fund-raising.

"The business community is fond of saying the answer isn't to throw money at problems, but targeted money makes a difference," Ms. Walters said. "I don't spend money on stuff. I spend it on teachers, so the classes are just 8, 9 or 10 kids each and they can get a lot of attention."
She said she was surprised by the team's desire to help finance the school, but recalled thinking: "I didn't have to work. I had nothing to lose. If I didn't like what they were doing, I'd walk."
But the relationship has worked. Test scores are improving, and enrollment will gradually increase to 120. "I have a hard time with people underestimating what these children are capable of," Ms. Walters said. "I care about them. They haunt me. If they're given just a little encouragement, it's amazing what they do."

One day in September, the school was host of an annual luncheon at which the Grizzlies presented $270,000 in grants to local charities. Students in school uniforms waited on the guests ("Oh, God," Ms. Walters said jokingly, "just imagine them pouring tea!"), while three others - Maushawn Anderson, Mia Gathing and Derrick Smith - sang Maushawn's hip-hop tribute to the executives of the organizations there, from the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and Streets Ministries to the Youth United Way:

I wanna thank you - for making us who we are and bringing us everything we need.
I wanna thank you - for the opportunity, we thank you all and it's plain to see.
I wanna thank you - for giving us another chance, we could have been out on the streets.

If it wasn't for you, there would be no me, and that's why I'm gonna ride for you, forevermore.
After hearing the song, Marc Willis, the director of Stax Music Academy, a charter school that uses music as the linchpin of educating children in grades 6 to 12, asked Ms. Walters if she'd like him to record it. "Of course," she said.

The school and a soul-music museum are on the site of the defunct Stax Records, the legendary studio where hits by Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding were produced. The Grizzlies have contributed $1.5 million to Soulsville USA, which runs the music academy and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.One element of sports-related charity that attracts Mr. Heisley and the Grizzlies is the public exposure it provides.

"We've got to be a moving spirit in the community," he said. "But why else would I lose money if I didn't think the team did something for the community and your philanthropic efforts can be multiplied?"Most of the team's contributions come from the Longleaf Foundation, which was created by a Memphis mutual fund management company, whose president, Staley Cates, is a minority owner of the team.

Of the $1.6 million contributions raised by the team's foundation last year, $1,251,500 came from Longleaf, the charitable arm of the Longleaf Partners Funds, and $350,000 came from the Hope Christian Community Foundation. Mr. Heisley's company, which is involved in an array of products ranging from steel wire to convenience foods, pitched in $3,686. No money was provided directly by the team, although it does pitch in with player appearances, tickets, golf tournaments and in-kind contributions.

There are two reasons for this arrangement. First, Mr. Cates said that Longleaf's money goes further by being routed through the Grizzlies than if it were associated with the firm's lesser-known name."If you just gave M.A.M. an individual check," he said, referring to Memphis Athletic Ministries, which got $500,000 for the Grizzlies Athletic Center in 2003, "that's great for M.A.M., but the next day, nobody's ever heard of M.A.M. It needs a lot of money, and it needs big public exposure."

Second, the Grizzlies are losing tens of millions of dollars annually.
"If we break even or get close, then I can do a lot more," Mr. Heisley said.
The team is contributing $5 million over 10 years toward the $10 million Grizzlies House, where families can stay after a child's disease has been diagnosed.

The residence looks like a midprice hotel, with 100 rooms and suites. The dining room tables are designed with a basketball motif, and the walls are decorated with oversize photographs of players who have visited the patients and their families, like Shane Battier and Jason Williams, the immensely popular former guard who was traded recently.

Harris Jones, a former high school football star who was treated for leukemia at St. Jude several years ago and is now its sports marketing representative, recalled how he and his family stayed at a hotel before Grizzlies House was built. "This, though, is so on the campus," Mr. Harris said. "And it's not just that the Grizzlies name is on it, it's what they do, with the players being here so often. That makes it special."

Mr. Battier and Mike Miller, another Grizzlies player, understand the need for the only major professional team in Memphis to be so involved in the community."It's what you do, as a citizen," Mr. Battier said. "Forget that I play basketball. It's my duty to help, brother, with my time, money and energy."

He and Mr. Miller were helping to conduct a children's basketball clinic at the Grizzlies Athletic Center, a public gymnasium several miles from downtown, teaching shooting techniques and encouraging participants to be team players before sprawling out on the hardwood, acting half their age.

"Guys come to this team wanting to do this," Mr. Miller said. "It's not a burden. It's a reward."

Sunday, November 06, 2005


By Kate Taylor


What price spirituality? In this case, $199 plus tax for a Buddha statue at the East West Bookstore of Seattle in the Roosevelt District.

A lotus grows in the mud, the Eastern spiritual saying goes. But if the proliferation of Buddhist images, icons and language means anything, then it's also thriving in boardrooms, shopping malls and cyberspace.

As an unprecedented number of Americans turn to Buddhism — there are now an estimated 6 million Buddhists nationwide — more and more Buddhist ideas and symbols are popping up in bookstores, gift shops and business retreats.

A shopper, for example, can find Buddha T-shirts, Buddha key chains, Buddha photo holders, books that coach readers to become a bodhisattva (person on the path to enlightenment), music for Buddhist meditation and a Buddha ball that shoots beams of light. And that's just from one mall, Washington Square Mall in Tigard, Ore.

"This is a really popular item. I think they like this because it's more unique," Sandy Berney of Spencer Gifts said of the Electrostorm Buddha Ball.

Shoppers will not, however, find in the mall's Victoria's Secret store the notorious Buddha tankini swimsuit with its strategically placed Buddhas. Victoria's Secret and the tankini's manufacturer, the Ondademar swimwear company, yanked it from the market last year after outraged Buddhists launched protests against it.

"It was crass. It was like having the Quran on toilet paper," said Robert Beatty, leader of the Portland Insight Meditation Community. Yet Buddhists like Beatty do see a logic in the way Buddhist images and icons are appearing all over the United States.

"Every time Buddhism enters a culture, it transforms the culture," he said. "What's happening now is there's this deep flowing into our culture of rather significant Buddhist practices, and along with that come the accouterments."

Some of those accouterments are sleazy and cheap, said Charles Prebish, Pennsylvania State University professor of religion studies and author of scores of books and articles about Buddhism.

"But some are making [and writing] good stuff, and are doing it to support Buddhist causes," Prebish said.

As the oft-cited source of the 6 million U.S. Buddhists figure, Prebish said he doesn't see any harm in people dabbling in Buddhism or becoming what some call "nightstand Buddhists" or "freelance Buddhists." But he said they should avoid "a lot of junk out there."

Some snatch up such books as "Your Buddha Nature" or "If the Buddha Dated" — not because they want to don crimson robes and take on the life of a monk but because they want to learn how to apply concepts of compassion, detachment and inner peace to their own lives.

Beth Bingham, national spokeswoman for the Borders Group, said that after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the sale of Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired material dropped. Now, she said, it's steadily rising.

Assisting the climb are Hollywood stars Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn, who have appeared with the Dalai Lama and raised large amounts of money for Tibetans living in exile.

And those who've read Oprah's interview with the Dalai Lama or listened to Gere read "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" can chat about it with just a few keystrokes. Internet chat rooms are full of talk about that, of sangha (Buddhist community) and The Noble Eightfold Path (right speech, right intention, right action, etc.).

Business people who've never even thought of Buddhism also are finding themselves booked for Zen retreats with colleagues. Seminars with titles such as "Executive Zen," "Zen at Work" and "Zen and Business" offer businesses a way to help their employees handle stress and excel.

"When we take a moment out of an overfilled day and incorporate a very basic Zen practice — for instance, the practice of mindfulness — it's amazing how your day can turn around," said Monique Muhlenkamp, publicity manager for California's New World Library. In her work, she promotes such books as Marc Lesser's "Z.B.A.: Zen of Business Administration: How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life" (New World Library, $14.95 paperback, 256 pages).

"For many people, it's no longer just about a job; they want and need more. Applying Zen to the day-to-day helps on many levels."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Press release from: Brigham Young University

Corporate Philanthropy Adds to Shareholder Wealth, Says BYU Study

Good deeds act as 'insurance policy' against misfortune, scandal and negative headlines

(CSRwire) PROVO, Utah – Google's recent announcement that it has earmarked $265 million of the money raised in its public stock offering for charity resurrects a long-standing debate over whether or not companies should be involved in philanthropic efforts. And although detractors contend that money spent on charity should go back into shareholders’ pockets, a new study in the "Academy of Management Review" by a Brigham Young University business professor argues that a track record of corporate giving protects a company much like an insurance policy, adding to overall value and shielding shareholders’ investment in the event of misfortune.

"Bad things happen to every company, even the best companies," says Paul Godfrey, an associate professor of strategy in BYU’s Marriott School of Management. "And just like a business with fire insurance is more valuable than one without it, businesses that have earned a reputation for being generous through acts of philanthropy are given the benefit of the doubt when negative events occur." When accidents happen, lawsuits are filed or harmful news coverage creeps out, shareholders, customers and industry regulators often question if managers are looking out for anyone but themselves, says Godfrey. If a company has demonstrated its character through philanthropic giving and community outreach efforts, such criticism may be tempered.

"The stock price will rebound more quickly, management won’t be viewed as harshly, fines will be less, boycotts may be shorter," says Godfrey. "And to a shareholder, that's valuable." Intangible relationship-based assets, which can be worth millions to a company and its shareholders, are often the very assets that receive the most benefit from philanthropic efforts in the event of misfortune, he says. "Part of the reason that people have had such a hard time seeing the justification for corporate giving is that they don't see any extra revenue being generated from the expense," says Godfrey. "What I argue in my paper is that they should look at it more like reputation insurance." Jeffrey S. Harrison, the W. David Robbins chair in strategic management at the University of Richmond, said Godfrey's article provides compelling economic justification for corporate giving.

"In this regard, it is truly groundbreaking research," said Harrison. "For many years scholars have debated whether there is any sound economic justification for corporate philanthropy. Godfrey's well-grounded explanation that 'doing good' provides insurance-like protection for companies because of the goodwill it creates is very significant. I am sure it will promote a lot of additional inquiry." Along with the economic incentive his model gives to managers to allocate a firm's resources toward philanthropy, Godfrey suggests that companies can still think of ways giving can be directed to further business interests.

"For example, it would make sense for an outdoor outfitter like REI to make donations to organizations that promote nature or trail conservation," says Godfrey. "Or, in the case of Qwest, a telecommunications company with a broad range of customers, the strategy might be to give to promote education or literacy, interests that are somewhat related to communication and that would appeal to the company’s diverse customer base." That way, consumers see that the companies they frequent are concerned with the same issues that are important to them, says Godfrey, adding that consistency in giving is important to building the reputation that help companies weather storms.

"Just like an insurance policy has premiums that must be paid to keep them current, a company can’t expect to give one time and receive any coverage. This is something a company has to work at, but it works because philanthropic activity is morally discretionary rather than obligatory.

Buddha says; "The fair tree of Void abounds with flowers, acts of compassion of many kinds, and fruits for others appearing spontaneously, for this joy has no actual thought of another."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This blog entry is considerably longer than any thus far. Bear with me, it's worth the read. Probably one of the most inspirational stories we've had and it certainly speaks to the journey we are all on towards enlightenment. My thanks to Fast Company again for their brilliance in creating awareness of this new era of "Enlightened Capitalism" Enjoy!

Dr. Brilliant Vs. the Devil of Ambition

If baby boomers had their own Faust, he'd be Larry Brilliant, a man who's found himself at the center of almost every defining moment of his generation. His biggest battle: taming the devil of ambition.

From: FAST COMPANY Issue 39 October 2000 By: Harriet Rubin

What happens when you're the quintessential baby boomer? What happens when you're raised according to the precepts of Dr. Spock? What happens when, every time you cry, you're fed?

Here's what happens: The devil of ambition starts raising you. You grow up impossibly demanding -- and hating how demanding all of your fellow boomers are. You become ruthlessly competitive -- and even more competitive about appearing noncompetitive. You aspire to be a superachiever -- but you can't appear to be an egomaniac, much less an asshole. You become ambitious. And you become even more ambitious about not being ambitious.

This is the story of an entire generation. It is the story of baby boomers raised on ambition and of a generation that is never happy with what it has. When everything comes too easily, all you want is more. Ambition is the longest unrequited love affair of boomers' lives. It scrambles their brains, and leaves them empty and unfulfilled. No wonder boomers are reaching their forties and fifties and feeling as fried as the Colonel's best.

This is the story of a man named "Brilliant." Talk about a blessing and a curse. How would you like to live with a name like that? For starters, you would have to become nothing less than Dr. Brilliant, your generation's answer to Dr. Faust. Then you would have to play a starring role in every generation-defining event in every decade from the 1960s forward.

You wouldn't just go to Woodstock, you would star in the movie sequel. You wouldn't just make a pilgrimage to India at the same time that Mia Farrow is being chased by a horny Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, or at the same time that the Beatles are just an ashram away, learning to meditate and siphoning sitar music into Rubber Soul; you would find your own yogi, a formidable guru who would send you on a mission to banish smallpox from India.

After spending a decade in India, you would find your way home, where you would invent the first -- indeed the prototypical -- online community, the WELL. You would try to get Zenny Baba Ram Dass to baby-sit your rambunctious kids. You would become the personal physician to Jerry Garcia, the quintessential 1960s icon. And still ambition would be an itch that you hadn't scratched.

So, when you are 56, when all of your baby-boomer friends would be writing workplace exit strategies, you would take your first real job: dotcom CEO, of course. After 30 years of struggling to find God and your soul and the meaning of work, you would walk into the heart of the new economy, smack into the belly of the beast. Why? Because you know deep down that you won't really kill off that itch of ambition. You won't really be free of its nagging demands for more and more and more until you've gone one long round in the ring with Mephistopheles. You have to prove to yourself once and for all that even in the soulless world of Silicon Valley, a complete human being, an authentic leader, can survive.

This is the stuff of legend, the kind of confrontation that would be worthy of a work by Goethe or of an opera by Gounod: "The Soul Vs. The Devil of Ambition." In the title role would be Dr. Larry Brilliant, his soul on the line in a contest for the soul of a generation.

To know your own soul -- and maybe even to save it -- it helps to understand Larry Brilliant's.
Did Somebody Say "soul"?

Larry Brilliant steps out of the fancy dusk of Soho's Mercer hotel, shouldering past media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his new Lolita wife, and the first thing that Brilliant says is, "Every day, I struggle with ambition. Every day, I try to understand the meaning of this line: 'Live your life without ambition. But live as those who are ambitious.'

"On the surface, this ideal is preposterous," Brilliant continues. "It means, 'Don't aspire to power or success. But live as those who are ambitious.' It means that you can never tell when you are being sincere. Do I stay at the Four Seasons? Can I take a hot tub? Do I not try too hard at anything?"

Two years ago, Brilliant became CEO of SoftNet Systems Inc., a broadband company based in San Francisco that brings high-speed Internet access to small cities, airports, and rural towns. The SoftNet CEO looks like a great success. The company has 400 employees and a market value of $280 million. In February, the company partnered with CMGI and Compaq to invest more than $100 million combined to bring broadband mobile Internet services to global business travelers. During the coming year, the company expects to see the mushrooming of SoftNet Zones, local-area networks and computing-business service centers, complete with cyber-concierges in airports, convention halls, and hotels. Cisco Systems and Nokia have joined to provide the technical equipment and support.

And now Brilliant asks himself the question that measures his own ambition: "Where better could I test my soul than in the land of temptation, power, and money?"

Brilliant has found a new way to be ambitious, a healthy way, a way to act ambitiously without letting it sink into his sense of identity. Ambition, after all, is a basically healthy state. The word "ambition" shares a root with the word "ambient" -- ambire, meaning "to move around freely." That word originated in the 14th century, when politicians would travel broadly to get votes and support. Taken literally, and used correctly, to have ambition is to create your life's journey.

Ambition is not a single-minded focus, a career obsession, or rampant self-promotion at the expense of others. The true arc of ambition, as Brilliant has lived it, is a healthy one.
It shows. There are people in Silicon Valley who are more successful than Larry Brilliant. And there are people in Silicon Valley who are richer than he is. But there are few who have had more impact on the world at large than he has.

In truth, Brilliant has been ambitious for one thing only: his soul. How many of us would consider the soul a sufficient driver for success? The soul, after all, can be an annoyance when you're trying to get ahead. But things are changing. The soul may be the next drilling platform to plumb the heart of the leader. As the new economy continues, each of us is going to be drilled down to our depths. And the only mark of difference between us will be in our deep identity, our soul. Everything else will be commodified.

That is why Brilliant has devoted his life to understanding that one simple, puzzling mantra: "Live your life without ambition. But live as those who are ambitious." Do that, and you discover the discipline of living an authentic life -- and of living hard, as if each day counts. That said, there is no mistaking that Brilliant is, well, weird. He is maybe three statistical variations from the norm, which he also fully accepts.

"I have, alas, studied philosophy/Jurisprudence and medicine, too,/And, worst of all, theology/With keen endeavor, through and through -- /And here I am, for all my lore,/The wretched fool I was before./Called Master of Arts, and Doctor to boot ..."

So where does this tale of abnormal, sane, hyperactive ambition begin? With a kid growing up Jewish in Detroit, being raised on Dr. Spock -- and switching to medical school when he learns that his father is dying of cancer. He has been studying philosophy and has been thinking, like almost everyone in his generation, that his mission is to change the world. His father's death convinces him not to change the world but to save it.

Then, as the 26-year-old Larry Brilliant is finishing his surgical internship at Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco in 1970, he learns that the first person he must save is himself: He is diagnosed with cancer of the parathyroid gland. The surgery he is headed for was his own. The salvation he must seek begins with his recovery.

"I took time off to heal," Brilliant recalls. "

He was hooked on learning the secrets of life that went beyond mere comfort and success. During that time he had never met so many people who were so poor, yet so alive," Brilliant says. "Life didn't just happen to them. They experienced life at a deeper level than I had ever experienced it. I had been a radical, a left-wing politico, and meeting the Indian people made me realize that the politics of the left and the right were so much less important than the politics of the heart and the spirit." A year later, he wound up at the ashram of Neem Karoli Baba.

To Brilliant, this destination didn't look like ambition -- it smelled like Nirvana. It turned into a trip to the big time.

Brilliant was sitting under a bodhi tree at his guru's ashram in northern India, content with doing nothing more than his daily meditations. There was just one problem: "Every time I sat and meditated, my guru would throw apples at my testicles," Brilliant says. "I had to get up and get moving. I had no choice."

The point of the apple throwing was to get Brilliant out of the lotus position and into work where he could do the greatest good. His guru, Neem Karoli Baba, was telling him, "There are people who get exactly what they want. You think they're the lucky ones, but they're not. The lucky ones are those who do what they are meant to do." For Baba, that meant vaccinating people against smallpox. In the early 1970s, the disease was devastating India. Trying to eradicate it seemed like a fool's errand.

That errand became Brilliant's. At his guru's insistence, he found himself on his longest journey yet: a bus ride from the monastery in northern India to the offices of the United Nations.
It is a measure of Brilliant's unusual outlook on ambition that he never questioned his guru's advice. "I had never seen a case of smallpox," says Brilliant. "I don't know how my guru knew that I could do this work. I had hair down the middle of my back, and I was wearing a white robe. Everybody in the United Nations was over 50 and wearing a business suit. I showed up at the United Nations office dressed as you would expect someone to be dressed in a monastery. I walked in and said, 'My mystic sent me to cure smallpox.' I was told to go home.

I took the 17-hour bus ride back to the ashram and told Baba that I had failed. He said, 'Go back.' I did this two dozen times, making this trip back and forth. Slowly, the robe gave way to pants, then to a shirt, then to a tie, then to a haircut, and then to a resume. I learned to look like a diplomat."What was the lesson that his guru was teaching him? "The great thing about gurus is not that they make you feel everybody's love," says Brilliant. "It's that they make you feel that you can love everybody."

Here's the problem: You begin to develop attachments to meaningless things, to sense objects. From those attachments, you make choices. From those choices, you find preferences. From those preferences, you identify with the best or the worst attributes of some of them. That identification takes you directly to the land of illusion, because those attributes are meaningless. From that identification comes cognitive dissonance. As a result, your desire for one thing versus another is based on illusions in your own mind -- illusions that cloud your ability to see what is really worth doing, what would truly make you happy.

Here's how it plays out: "Say you decide that you like Chevrolets and not Fords," says Brilliant. "Or you decide that you like Yahoo! and not Lycos. It's all the same. In my case, I felt that it was more important to stay in the monastery and to become noble than it was to do common work. But in the long run, preferences don't matter to your success or to your happiness. They distract you from seeing what is most important to you. The point of life is to transcend the smallness of the finite self by identifying with things that last. Preferences, or attachments, lead to forgetfulness: How can I really remember why I like Chevys and not Fords, why Yahoo! is better than Lycos? Why, in my case, is study better than action? From my preference for a certain path comes confusion, and from that confusion comes inability to reason, and from that inability to reason comes pranashiti -- total destruction of the cognitive process.

"Comparisons are odious," Brilliant continues. "The more you think about that, the more it helps you to achieve your goal. The goal is to be equanimous." Equanimity, balance, peace -- so that you are yourself no matter what goes on around you, no matter what the world hurls at you. "If you are constantly making judgments based on superficial affiliations, your world gets to be pretty small."

The exemplar of that attitude? That, in Brilliant's estimation, was U Thant, secretary general of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. "He was a great and spiritual man. Dag Hammarskjold had just been killed. There was a possibility of nuclear conflagration over a surrogate war being fought in the Congo, in which the West and the East were actually at war. U Thant was locked in a last-ditch meeting to avert disaster when he was handed a piece of paper, which he read, and he stayed in that meeting until the parties had reached a truce. Someone then asked him what was on that slip of paper. He said, 'My son was just killed in a car accident.'

"The newspapers wrote about a cold-hearted Buddhist. But in that act was someone whose love of humanity allowed him to transcend his own narrow definition of family and to expand it into a greater definition. U Thant's act was an act of a great, loving human being. That is equanimity, and it will probably see you through tougher times than passion or balance will.
"If you live a rich life of the spirit, you are not distracted," says Brilliant. "You carry out your duty, your dharma, no matter what."

This Just In: Your Soul Is Not Dead.

We advise you not to try stepping over it on your way to someplace else.

There is a little book of Hindu scripture that is called the Bhagavad-Gita. The book says, in effect, that work is a form of ecstasy -- if you twist your mind into the right position. Think of the Gita as the Kama Sutra of work. The Gita tells the story of a brilliant warrior named Arjuna who mysteriously loses his will to fight at the worst possible moment: the morning of battle. At dawn, he walks the battlefield and sees arrayed on the other side brothers, fathers, uncles. He has no appetite for killing them. But he is a trained fighter. It's his dharma; he must fight. His guru, Krishna, reminds him that ambition must be focused on one thing only: duty. The satisfaction is in doing what you are supposed to do, not in doing what you want to do.

"I experienced Arjuna's dejection," Brilliant says. "It happens at the time that we confront why we exist, why you, particularly, exist. Not why we but why I exist. I exist to do this work? I felt that dark night of the soul so many times when I was working in the smallpox program. I would say to myself, 'God, you have chosen poorly. You've chosen me, and I'm a piece of shit. Any god who would choose me for such an important position can't be God.' "

The Gita teaches you to think differently about ambition and about its unnecessary limitations. "Early on," says Brilliant, "I had this problem with a government secretary. I placed an order for 200 four-wheel-drive Mahendra jeeps which would be used to deliver the vaccine into the most remote villages. It was the monsoon season, and many of those places were tough to reach. I went to see the secretary, who said, 'You have to change your order. You have to have the two-wheel-drive jeeps.' I knew the four-wheel-drive jeeps were the only ones that could reach the villages. He said, 'But if you buy the two-wheel-drive jeeps, you'll have my support. The two-wheel-drive jeeps are made in a factory that is owned by my brother.'

"I thought, now I'm carrying this burden of 'Do I piss off this secretary? Or do I buy jeeps that can't do the job?' I'm 28 years old, I've never even bought a jeep for myself, and here I have to make such a big decision. I agonized over that, and then I read the Bhagavad-Gita, which says, 'Don't take yourself too seriously; don't get attached.' But I was carrying such a heavy burden. I wondered how I could detach myself from this burden in order to see clearly. I told my guru about my problem. On one hand, if I bought the wrong jeeps, hundreds of thousands of kids would die because we wouldn't be able to get medicine to them. On the other hand, if I screwed up my relationship with this secretary, I didn't know if we would ever get help from him. And if I bribed him, my hands would be dirtied.

"My guru sent me to Lama Govinda, who said, 'Think things through very clearly. Ask yourself, number one, are you exaggerating? Are you exaggerating the importance of this decision and of your role in it? Are you milking the melodrama?' Whoops! I thought to myself, 'How does this guy know?'

"Then Govinda said, 'Once you've satisfied yourself that you're not milking the melodrama, then choose the decision that's best for the kids -- and don't worry about your hands.' And that's what the Gita says: Use the tools of spiritualism to clarify the mirror of your mind so that it's not fogged over, so that you see things as they really are. Don't let the melodrama of how seductive your importance is, or of how great the power of your decision is, beguile you into losing your ability to think things through. Then do the right thing -- and to hell with everything else.

"That's all at a very rational level. But here's the magic: I sat down alone and cleared my mind. I concluded that yes, I had psyched myself up, sipping my own whiskey and getting into it, as I'm wont to do. But I also decided that it really mattered that I get the government of India on my side. I could always raise more money for more jeeps, but if I antagonized that powerful secretary, he could kick the smallpox program out of India. I was prepared to give the secretary a bribe, which was something I had never done in my life. I drove to the secretary's office, only to find when I arrived that he had been transferred two hours earlier. The new guy said, 'Oh, four-wheel-drive jeeps? No problem.'

"That's the magic part of it. That's the inexplicable part of clearing your mind and of knowing just what to do. So now you can begin to sip your own whiskey again. Now you say, 'God created this lucky incident just for me.' "When you sober up again, you remember that you're entitled to the joy of work, you're just not entitled to the results. "As long as you devote the outcome to God, and you don't get confused about who the actor is, you're going to be fine. This message is brutal.

"Lao Tzu says that the Tao -- your life's way, or path -- is easy for one who has no preferences," Brilliant says. "Your preferences get you into trouble. If you believe that there is no difference between going to the left and going to the right, you won't have any trouble. You'll find the right way. That's fate, which is a good thing to accept."

Fast Track to Enlightenment

After two years and more than 2 billion house calls, the Army declared a victory over smallpox. Brilliant had started off as the mascot of the UN team. All of the people who knew what they were doing had moved on or had died off, so Brilliant wound up running a program in northern India with an army of 100,000 workers. It was one of the largest peacetime armies ever assembled. So much for planning. No one could have planned a mission like that.

"Greater things have happened to me by accident than by planning -- getting to India, meeting my wife, finding myself at the head of the India smallpox program. I could not have planned any of those things. And now, when I meet someone who can help me, I will have done all of my planning beforehand, but still I have to leave myself open to the unexpected."

To explain the difference between responding to fate and driving yourself through ambition, Brilliant sings the words to a little song that he had once heard sung by a Sufi choir: "I love the sadhus [holy men]. I love the way they pray. When the wind blows their hair in their face, they go the other way." Then he asks a rhetorical question: "Have I been passive, in the sense that life happens to you? Being passive is almost as bad as being indifferent. But accepting what happens, going with the flow -- that's a good thing."

Brilliant was deep into his love/hate affair with ambition. Every time that the conflict stirred, he directed his energy into something obvious and philanthropic. "How you get through this battle for your soul depends on where you're going to stick your photos of dead presidents," says Wavy Gravy. "You try and put your good where it will do the most."

That was the guiding philosophy of Larry and Girija Brilliant. When the war against smallpox in India was over, they came back to the United States, enrolled in graduate public-health programs at the University of Michigan, and started their family of three children. They also created the Seva Foundation and its mission to eradicate blindness -- a disease that they had seen firsthand while working in the smallpox program. Since Seva's beginning, doctors have performed 1 million free sight-restoring operations in Asia. "Seva started primarily as a spiritual organization," Brilliant says. "The work we did to alleviate blindness was a consequence of our spirituality. It was motivated by a desire to serve God by doing good."

In the meantime, almost by accident, Brilliant continued to ricochet from generational icon to generational icon. He had crossed paths with Steve Jobs in India, and now he tried to recruit the young entrepreneur to head Seva. "Steve had just started Apple. I tried to tell him that Apple was a terrible idea. Why didn't he become the executive director of Seva and do some good? He kept saying, 'Computers are going to change the world. We're going to take away the power of the priestly class that runs these mainframes.' He wouldn't lead Seva, but he did give us money and computers. We were trying to do Steve a good turn, so we bought shares in Apple."

Another unplanned opportunity: With money earned from Apple stock, Brilliant built one of the first Internet companies, Network Technologies. "We put together one of the first online communities and eventually sold the company," Brilliant says. He had under-estimated what it would take to build on the Internet, but the experience prompted his next brush with destiny: He conjured up the idea of the WELL. It became one of the first expressions of online community, a gathering place for many of the brightest minds, the fiercest pioneers, and the keenest explorers of the just-gathering new economy. "It was the first electronic community," he says.

But, having had the initial idea for the WELL, Brilliant didn't see himself as its keeper. "I went to see Stuart Brand, whom I knew in the 1960s to be one of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters. I wanted Stuart to run the WELL, which he agreed to do." Brand ran the WELL for 10 years before he and Brilliant agreed to sell it in parts in 1993 and in 1995. The idea was to avoid entanglements with the world of business. But Brilliant's younger brother, Barry, challenged him over a personal unpaid debt: Their father had died when Barry was only 17. Rather than acting as a surrogate father, Larry had gone off to India. Now Barry wanted his big brother's help in starting a smart-card business. He got it. They dubbed the venture "Brilliant Color Cards," ran it for eight years, and sold it in 1998.

Which brings us to Larry Brilliant's current adventure. "I met the kid who wanted to turn SoftNet into an Internet company," he says. "The company's stock was at $4, and it had a market cap of $30 million. I was recruited for the board. Now our stock is at $10, and our market cap is at $280 million. I agreed to be the interim CEO and to stay only six months. That was two years ago. I recently told the board, 'You'll have to pry me out with the jaws of life.' It's fun. Bringing in people of color, building a company, building a team, making good products, bridging the digital divide -- all of it is fun."

In the meantime, Brilliant was still doctoring the Dead when one of its members had a sprained ankle or a cold. Perhaps the only clinical failure of his career was Jerry Garcia. "The advice that Larry gave him, which we all gave him, was to take it easy," says Garcia's bandmate Bob Weir. "And that finally killed him."

Consider the parts of the body a person pays attention to. An inferior person, according to Confucius, pays attention to inferior parts of the body, while a superior person pays attention to superior parts of the body. In your choice of parts of the body is your destiny.

Brilliant chooses the stomach. He is not just in the belly of the beast: He is the belly of the beast. "I'm no different from most indulged CEOs," he says. He wants to win. He wants everything. Appetite is front and center at SoftNet. From the minute that you walk in the door you are not only invited to act with ambition but also to think about your own desires. Right next to ther receptionist is an 8-foot-tall bronze statue that dominates the entry: It's Ganesh, the ancient, elephant-headed Hindu god. Ganesh is carrying a complete set of communications tools: a pen made from his own tusk, a book, a bird for sending messages.

According to one legend, Ganesh had a troubled past. He was the victim of his own appetite and of his own unsatisfied ambition. He once walked in on his parents' lovemaking, and, as punishment, his father, the god Shiva, cut off his head. "Now, see what you've done?" Ganesha's mother complained to Shiva. "Our son has no head." Shiva was sent out to find the first head that he came across and to use it. He found an elephant's head, put it on Ganesh's shoulders, and, because the elephant was considered to be the wisest animal, Ganesh became the god of wisdom.

Ganesh is also the embodiment of desire. He's the one god who has seen the mysteries of love. He looks like a clown, with his big elephant nose and with his many arms--and, because he has a great appetite, he boasts a very big stomach. But Ganesh also has wisdom. "He's the god that people love to worship, not out of fear or out of respect but out of admiration," says Brilliant, standing next to the statue. You'd think they were brothers.

So who's going to win the battle for the soul: Briliant or Silicon Valley? Will the Valley corrupt him? Change him?

Every life takes the shape of this parable: an arrow coming home to the bow. True ambition is this: After you do something amazing, you do something ordinary--and you discover the importance in it. Compared with taking the slowest bus ride in the history of the world in order to save a country of victims, compared with curing smallpox in India, with inventing the WELL, with paying a family debt to your brother, compared with all of that, working as the CEO of an Internet company is nothing. But a man who is driven by ambition and by appetite sees it as more than that. If Brilliant can keep his soul alive here, his soul can survive anywhere. Silicon Valley is like a bad case of new-economy smallpox.

His mantra of ambition--to live ambitiously but without ambition--is the centerpiece of Nish Kan Karma yoga. "Yoga means 'being yoked,'" says Brilliant. "in yoga, the individual self is liked to the larger soul, Brahma, which, in Hindu, means 'the mind of God.' You have one job: to find out who you are. Like the asymptote, the mathematical function, you are always approaching your goal, but you never achieve it. You are always reaching for the flame, but you'll never be the flame. You always fail. You always aspire.

"Capitalism has wonderful lessons to teach us. I'm happy to be called a capitalist. To make a change in the world, you must creatively employ capital. You have to understand how the engines of commerce work. To lament that those engines concentrate wealth is not going to help you or anyone else.

"But as long as I have ambition, I will not have good judgment, because my ambition is based on trying to get something. That means I am attached to the results, to the fruits. That means I am violating a rule that I know is intuitively true. And that is the crucible. I need to be tested this way. I need to fail in the way that I fail. Every time that I get confused and see a person who works for me or with me as a customer, a competitor, a colleague, I fail. And every time that I am unable to see that person as a human being--and instead only see what's useful to me--I fail. In those moments, I fall victim to my ambition. But in those moments when I see people as human beings, as real people, I inspire them.

"When I get confused and exploit someone for who they are, I'll get something narrow or I'll get a gift that's not worth receiving. But my deepest and strongest relationships are in those moments when I see someone for who they really are. That's when I join them in a moment to try to create something far more interesting.

"Handling ambition this way, I can moderate the amount of craziness that I feel. Things by which we measure success or victory or achievement are by and large banal. The thing that gives true and lasting satisfaction is giving things to people."

"Larry takes his bedside manner where there is no bed, " says Wavy Gravy. "We're all in this big hospital, all of us people on the planet. The infusion of wealth, rightly directed, can cause great healing to occur. If he can activate more people to do that, he can create tremendous good."

Brilliant is doing good by working with Seva, which runs eye hospitals throughout Asia. He is on the board of a summer camp for inner-city children run by Wavy. He is delivering broadband to all corners of the earth, including India. Weir calls him a "budding saint," and says, "If Larry gets wealthy out of this, he will make it a manifest blessing for mankind." But most of all, Brilliant is keeping his soul alive in the inferno. He's still the poster child for a new way in which to be ambitious: deeply, spiritually. From Detroit to Silicon Valley, Larry Brilliant is still trying to save the world.

Buddha says; "By oneself the evil is done and it is oneself that suffers; by oneself the evil is not done, and by one's Self one becomes pure. He hears dharma and learns it by heart, examines the import of things so learnt and is in an ecstasy of delight over them; strong desire rises in him; he is emboldened; he weighs it all; he strives; being self-resolute, by means of body, he realizes the highest truth itself"


Today we have bigger houses and smaller families
More convenience, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less common sense
More knowledge, but less judgEment.

We have more experts, but more problems
More medicine, but less wellness

We spend too recklessly
Laugh too little
Drive too fast
Get toO angry too quickly
Stay up too late
Read too little
Watch TV too much
And pray too seldom

We multiplied our possessions, but reduce our values
We talk too much, love to little and lie too often

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life
We've added years to life, not life to years.

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less
We buy more, enjoy it less.

We've been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet our neighbors.

We've conquered outer space
But not inner space.

We've split the atom
But not our prejudice

We write more, learn less, -----plan more, but accomplish less,
we've learned to rush, but not to wait, we have higher incomes,
but lower morals.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce
more copies
But have less communication

We are long on quantity,
But less in quality.

These are the time of fast foods and slow digestion
Tall men and short character.

More leisure and less fun....more kinds of food.....but less nutrition
Two incomes,,,,,,,but more divorce
Fancier homes,,,,but broken homes

That's why I propose, that as of today, you do not keep anything for special
occasion, because every day you live is a special occasion.

Search for knowledge, and more, sit on your front porch and admire the view
without paying attention to your needs.

Spend more time with your family and friends, eat your favorite foods,
and visit the places you love.

Life is a chain of moment of enjoyment, not only about survival.

Use your crystal goblets, do not save your best perfume, and use it every
time you feel you want it.

Remove from your vocabulary phrases like "one of these days".

Let's tell our families and friends how much we love them.
Do not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to your life.

Every day, every hour, and every minute is special.
And you don't know if it will be your last.

If you're too busy to take the time to send this message to someone
you love and you tell yourself you will send it "one of these days"


"one of these days"