France is, of course, the heart of Western civilization. And much as the heart gives life and meaning to the rest of the body, so France gives life and meaning to what we call culture, history, and worthwhile experience; France is the loyal guardian of civilization with a capital C, despite constant assault by the spreading global monoculture and its twin engines, television and advertising. Much in France and French culture is immediately familiar to the first-time visitor: we have all been exposed one way or another to its exquisite art and architecture, to images and stories of Paris or the south of France, to memories of the invasion of Normandy and the battle of Verdun, to French cuisine and wine, and to manifold stereotypes of the French people. Added on January 22, 2002
Thailand should satisfy just about any traveler’s hunger for the exotic, the beautiful, the thrillingly different. But it is a country whose very lure for the foreigner threatens to make it a parody of itself. It is a country with a deep respect for family and monarchy, and a country with a huge prostitution industry and a corrupt military. It is a thriving place for business, but has serious problems with international copyright and trademark piracy. It is a physically lovely country that is, like many others, being degraded by logging, wildlife exploitation, and overdevelopment. Added on January 10, 2002
Prana, the adepts will tell you, is the life force of the breath. It is that which animates us, you and me, with each inhale, and every exhale. Now and again, over and over and over, the measure of all "time" and life.
And it was a matter of prana which brought me to a rocky glen near the Pacific Ocean in Marin, where finches twittered and darted and mists unfolded among shifting lattices of sunbeams. For J.M., my dear friend, had taken his last breath-prematurely, thought most of his friends who had gathered in his honor.
We confess a deep bias towards India, an attraction which goes back, for one of us, to teenage years spent reading Aurobindo and Tagore, meditating and doing hatha yoga, to the other roaming India as a young man, a temporary sadhu from Minnesota.
India is everything human. It is all of our history, it is the