April 2015



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Photo by Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India; terms of use

A newsletter for TOS liaisons and TS group leaders--because theosophy in action changes the world for good!

April, 2015
Warm greetings,
This month marks the third anniversary of this newsletter!  To celebrate, the name of the newsletter is changing to "Spirit of Service" since my intent for the content has always been to reflect the spirit and essence of service--a powerful but subtle "vibe," if you will, that comes straight from the heart.  Hopefully you've found this newsletter useful and have gotten some good ideas and inspirations for ways of serving others.
Below is a healing intention for those affected by the recent earthquake in Nepal.  Scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter for a second healing intention for animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, as well as the people working with them.
HeaIing Intention #1:  I invite you to send healing, light-filled energy to all those affected by the 4/25/2015 earthquake in Nepal and surrounding areas (both animal and human).  "Om . . . may all beings affected by the earthquake in Nepal be flooded from within by healing energy, light and love.  May they be comforted, calmed, protected, and strengthened.  We give thanks.  Om . . . . "
Please feel free to write back--I'm always glad to hear about projects being done by local groups or individuals.  And you never know . . . hearing about your project may inspire someone else to do the same, and in that way, your efforts will be multiplied.
In service,
Kathy Gann
TOS Liaison Coordinator

Helping to Feed the Hungry - Raleigh, NC

By Rae Thompson, Research Triangle Study Center Liaison

On a rainy Saturday in March, members of the Research Triangle Study Center assembled and delivered 100 bag lunches to the homeless in downtown Raleigh, NC.  The group gathered at the home of Betty and David Bland, where members made amply proportioned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Then, using a somewhat modified (and just a little chaotic) assembly line approach, they added a large red apple, small bottle of water, pieces of candy or a protein bar, and napkins to fill up their previously decorated brown bags.  

The artistic bags were a big hit with the men and women who filled the community room near Moore Square in Raleigh, with each one picking their favorite design—from heart and flowers to messages like "We love you!" and "You are special."

The service project was coordinated through the Oak City Outreach Center (OCOC), formed a little more than a year ago as a way to offer food assistance to the homeless after city permits made it difficult to distribute food to those who congregated in the nearby park. 

The Center, coordinated by Raleigh Catholic Charities, is a testament to the ongoing cooperative efforts of city leaders, churches, service organizations, and individuals dedicated to helping those in need.  Located on South Person Street in the heart of the city, the OCOC provides meals for 200 to 300 people every weekend.

Assembling lunches: Melissa Auten, David Bland, Kay Jean Wilson, Ron Banister, Ellen Michal, Betty Bland, Farley Bernholz, and Paul Schlosser and his seven-year-old son Kirpal.  Stephen  Cassell, who was unable to attend, also assembled and contributed to bag lunches.

For participating members of the Research Triangle Study Center, the day was rewarding in many ways.  We enjoyed each other's fellowship as we assembled the lunches, were able to interact with many wonderful people at the Center—both the homeless and the volunteers, and felt warmed by the heartfelt gratitude and smiling faces all around.


At left: delivering lunches are (L-R) Betty Bland, Rae Thompson, Ron Banister, Farley Bernholz, and David Bland

An experience with Care Kits for the homeless

After reading about Care Kits for the homeless in the last issue of this newsletter, one TOS member we'll call "Annie" started making her own.  "I loved the idea as soon as I heard it, especially because I encounter a lot of homeless people on my walk to and from work."   Although Annie's habit was to kindly acknowledge the homeless people she encountered, she says "I never felt good about just walking by."  She feels good about making the Care Kits because she selects items that she thinks will bring someone comfort, and that she would want for herself.  She puts herself in the homeless person's shoes and asks, "if I were homeless, how would I feel?  What would I want to receive to make me feel a little better?"

Annie recalls the reaction of one homeless man who was pan-handling.  When she handed him a Care Kit, he looked surprised, and said, "Thanks!"  His genuine appreciation created a brief moment of connection between them.

Annie cautions, though, that not all interactions will be "Pollyanna moments."  Sometimes, she says, the interaction might bring up conflicted feelings and that "you may not always feel good about what happens."  But as Annie says, "feeling good is not what this is about--that's just an occasional byproduct."

As lovingly prepared as her first Care Kits were, Annie has taken her new kits to a higher level.  Inside each kit, she places a card on which is printed the words to "O Hidden Life."  Even if the homeless person tosses it out onto the pavement, she hopes it will end up in the hands of someone for whom it will make a difference.  As Annie says, "in the end, it's not the person's body, but their spirit we're really concerned about."

Although Annie's interactions with the homeless have not caused her to feel unsafe, she advises anyone considering doing this to exercise caution and discernment--you will not be able to give a Care Kit to everyone.  When Annie encounters anyone who seems even remotely aggressive, she just walks by "with a relaxed, benevolent vibe which seems to protect me somehow."

With all the heart Annie has put into her Care Kit project, she has found a way to do what an Elder Brother once wrote that theosophy must do: "find objective expression in an all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit--the spirits of mutual tolerance, charity and love."

Mushrooms in Ghana:  Freedom from Poverty

Thanks to Oklahoma City Liaison Nancy Blott for bringing this project to the TOS

A new project for the TOS this year is helping to ease protein-deficiency starvation in the West African country of Ghana, while helping farmers there find new levels of prosperity and economic sustainability. 

The TOS sent support to the Bemcom Training and Resource Centre, founded and directed by Bernard Bempah (pictured at left).  Bernard has trained thousands of farmers to grow oyster mushrooms which contain about 10% protein and are grown out of bags of sawdust. 

The farmers, mostly women, have seen their average income increase from about $1 per day to anywhere from $2 to $10 per day.

Pictured below, left to right: oyster mushrooms, Bonkum Women's Mushroom Cooperative, shiitake mushrooms


Now Bernard wants to increase shiitake mushroom farming in Ghana.  Shiitake mushrooms are low-tech and hearty, growing on hardwood logs.  Shiitakes are about 18% protein and make a good low-cost alternative to meat. To help Bernard take his operation to the next level, the TOS sent support toward building a new facility that will expand Bemcom's reach in Ghana and allow many more farmers to achieve freedom from poverty while providing inexpensive protein to low-income citizens of Ghana.

Why mankind must adopt a whole-foods plant based diet

by L. Miles Standish

There are three main categories of reasons why mankind must adopt a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

HEALTH:  The China Study is the principal source of information showing that the health of humans is supported by a whole-foods plant-based diet. Animal foods are shown to be the main cause of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and very probably the auto-immune diseases. Moreover, changing from an animal-based diet to a whole-foods, plant-based diet gradually reverses those diseases and conditions if one has not gone too far to recover. There are many other supporting published studies demonstrating this, for example, Reversing Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery, by Dean Ornish, MD, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

SUSTAINABILITY: The production of flesh foods, eggs and dairy products consumes several times more natural resources than required for plant-based foods and produces more global greenhouse gases than all other sources combined. It is not only unsustainable, but we are already facing imminent planetary disaster. This is no longer a choice for convenience or preference.

See the DVD Documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Crisis.

CONSCIENCE, OR COMPASSION:  I'm convinced the next step in human conscience and compassion is to adopt Albert Schweitzer's motto, "Reverence for Life." See the DVD Documentary Peaceable Kingdom, The Journey Home.

In the real world of large scale commercial agriculture, there is as yet no such thing as humane production of meat, eggs and dairy products, but many individuals and groups are working to improve the situation, especially in small scale farming.

All aspects of large scale animal-based food production are steeped in horror from birth to death for the creatures involved, and there is good reason to believe this carries over into the psychology of the humans who work with or consume the products. "When individuals embrace new paradigms today, the foundation is laid for social change tomorrow."

In cooperation with the Theosophical Society in Phoenix, I am offering free copies of the book, The China Study, as well as free copies of DVD documentaries Cowspiracy (watch trailer) and Peaceable Kingdom (watch trailer) on request, to the extent our budget allows.  A copy of this article will be included.  If you would like to participate in this project in any way, please contact me:  miles@crnatural.net.

Healing Intention #2:

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center

I invite you to join me in a healing intention focused on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.  Few people outside the meat industry know of this facility on the Nebraska plains that seeks to "re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st century meat industry."  It is supported by our tax dollars, and was the target of a January 19, 2015, New York Times article that exposed the cruelty and neglect suffered by farm animals, including newborn lambs.   Perhaps the most telling paragraph in the Times' article is this:  "Certainly, the production of meat is a rough enterprise. Yet even against that reality — raising animals to be killed, for profit — the center stands out. Some of its trials have continued long after meat producers balked at the harm they caused animals."

As a result of the Times' exposure, stricter oversight has already been ordered, and no new experiments may begin until such oversight is in place.  The 1966 Animal Welfare Act, designed to protect laboratory animals such as dogs and cats from the cruelest treatment, does not apply to farm animals or this facility, though bipartisan Congressional efforts are underway to extend the Act to this facility.  Some animal-rights groups are urging that the facility be closed.

"Om . . . we ask for and invoke healing energy, love and light for all beings involved with the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska.  May the animals be comforted, strengthened, protected, healed and filled with light.  May the people involved be flooded with the light and compassion of their highest, innermost Being.  May the animals be treated with compassion and dignity at all times.  May Highest Will be served.  We give thanks. 
Om . . . "

"A union of those who love in the service of all that suffers."




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